It was an absolute pleasure to speak with Alan Notkin and Apphia Castillo (more commonly known as Phi) of ¥ntendo, about their budding fame, their inspiration behind their music, and their appreciation for the EDM community.
Photo: Christ Huang
Q: When did you guys first start producing and mixing together?
Alan: “I’ve been producing for a really long time and we met a while ago.”
Phi: “We met August 2015. I’ve been listening to music for a very long time. I was introduced through the industry through my ex Kayzo. I was around Icon Collective a lot so I was constantly watching people that are now like my friends like Jauz and stuff, Mak J producing since I was around the age of 19 so it was just something I always aspired. I saw Hayden, we’re still good friends, grow in the industry which was just something so cool to me and I always wanted to be a part of that.
Alan: “Yeah I’m actually a teach. I teach music production and I’ve been teaching her as well.”
Phi: “Yeah he’s been teaching me for about a year and a half so it’s really cool.”
Q: What is your inspiration behind your music in general?
Phi: “I think we go for more of a darker vibe. We really like dark, we’re really inspired by darker, grungier type of thing.”
Alan: “Yeah, also Benni Benassi is the shit! It’s what got me into electronic music.”
Phi: “It was like my first like more dubstep artist. I was super into grungey; really into Datsik, which is cool because I’m like a homie of his now. But I listened to that stuff all through high school.”
Q: What do you love about the EDM community? From the culture to the fashion, what are your impressions?
Phi: “I just love how nice everyone is. I feel like it’s really welcoming; it’s really warm. I love how like the fans just everyone is so cool, and meeting everyone, they’re so nice. I guess seeing other people that are inspired by the same type of music, is just really cool to me.
Alan: “Yeah I just love that you go to an EDM event and everyone has at least one thing in common, so it’s like a really good ice breaker.“
Phi: “You’re all there for one thing you know?”
Alan: “It’s a really friendly community because everyone is united.”
Q: How did you come up with your name, ¥ntendo?
Alan: “It’s the plan for the project was to fuse Japanese culture, fashion mainly, with a our sound.”
Phi: “We wanted to fuse fashion – we wanted to be more like a brand, not just music.”
Alan: “Yeah so the yen symbol fits our sound really well. The dark colors and stuff like that.”
Phi: “I think ¥ntendo is just a play on words, and it just kind of fit. We were messing around with different types of words plus I’ve played video games my whole life.
Alan: “It just felt right and it looks really good.”
Phi: “We were like ‘what can we do so it could have yen in it?’”
Q: What is one of your favorite shows you guys have ever played and why?
Phi: “Well I’m just going to be real, we’ve only played three shows. Wobbleland is actually our third show and each one has been such an amazing experience. Our first show was Safe in Sound, which was honestly my favorite show only because it was my first show and Alan and I were like ‘what are we going to do? How is going to be? How will they react to us?’ and it was just so cool. Everyone was so welcoming and we still, to this day, get people showing us videos from our first show ever saying thank you for letting us be there with you. That’s just such a cool thing for me. Wobbleland tonight I probably felt the most comfortable, but I can’t take away how it felt to be playing at our first show.”
Alan: “Yeah, it was amazing.”
Q: What are your goals as artists from where you are now?
Alan: “Just to be the biggest thing in our scene. The goals I guess are to play regularly.”
Phi: “Yeah, this was our third show and we are trying to book more things. My dream is to travel and be happy and this something does that for me, and it’s so cool. I think our goals moving forward are to establish the brand we have; a lot of people seem to love it. They really appreciate the music we put out. We don’t just put out all the time, we hold back with things we find valuable and unique and share it with our audience to make sure it is thing that they will really appreciate so they don’t just think it’s another song. We want people to think ‘wow that’s great!’ which is something we continue to strive for. And moving forward I think we just want to meet more people and keep the brand going strong.”
Q: Any tips for aspiring producers or artists?
Phi: I think something you have to remember is that it’s not going to happen overnight. It is good to stay confident with yourself and not to give up. You have to continue to grow and work hard and meet people who appreciate the art that you’re making and also teach you how to be better.
Alan: “For me it would be use Ableton; don’t wast your time with anything else. I’d say, this shit takes time so work your ass off and if you really want it to work, you need to put your entire time into it. Some people are lucky and are amazing as par-time producers, but I think the goal, the majority is full time production. Always learning, making mistakes and every song you make will be a little bit better than the last one.”
Q: What were you doing before you started producing, and what made you decide to start?
Alan: “I was always playing musical instruments like guitar, piano, and I sang a lot. And then I decided that was going to be my journey. I was living in Dubai for a few years and went to high school there, and my dads business partners’ son was a producer. He did psyctrance and he was older than me, so he had me come to the studio since I was mesmerized by the process and wanted to learn. He had me play melodies for him while he was producing. It was my first introduction to that and then after I worked on it for the next ten years.”
Phi: “Before that I had a pet care business I was doing that, still do it sometimes waiting for us to really take off. I model and I used to act, I still do sometimes, but I think just seeing all my friends and Hayden, my ex, just killing it and something like constantly inspiring people and making people happy, it felt way more artistic than acting ever did or modeling. It felt like a more beautiful art form and so I was so inspired to learn and it was something I felt like I had to do. I’ve been a fan of music for years and so yeah.”
Q: How did you start being managed?
Phi: “So I’ve known Santi since May 2015. I used to live with Hayden and we lived in the same apartment complex as Santi. One day they were saying we were having a pregame at our place before going to a show at Avalon and I was invited over and met Santi and Max and Mikey, who is JACKAL, and I met all of them around May 2015 before going to Avalon. We all became friends.
Alan: “I had a house party and Sam F brought Santi since they were old friends and we all just became best friends. And now I live with Santi.”
Phi: “I think Santi just realized the potential with the project and wanted to take it on and so he did.”
Alan: “What happened was somebody had requested some music and it was one of our tracks that I played and the whole room went off. Santi asked what it was and I told him it was our track, which was ‘Let Me Be‘.”
We would like to thank ¥ntendo and their manager Santi Torre for this incredible opportunity to learn more about Alan and Phi as people and as artists.
Photo: Scotch Hutchinson