Today we talk with MANTIS.
The potent producer/DJ duo Mantis, consisting of members Taylor Scott and Paul Ollinger, have been in the Atlanta EDM music industry for nearly a decade. Mantis has often been credited with pioneering the union of metal and dubstep music. Here at Atlanta Family EDM, this heavy, pungent, ATL-repping duo allow us to dive deeper into who they are as a group- and how they make their magic happen.
So, how did it all start for you? What inspired you guys to team up and start Djing/Producing?
Well, I (Paul) was playing Bass in a metal band called Attila at the time that I first was exposed to Dubstep through my friend and fellow musician, Bret Phillips. He showed me Bassnectar and Rusko, but two tracks really stuck out to me…Rusko’s “Mr. Muscle” and Bassnectars “Cozza Frenze [MegaBass Remix.] When I first heard those tracks, it clicked in my mind immediately as metal; unique, weird, BASS driven metal. Obviously, being a bassist, I was immediately hooked. Soon thereafter, he took me to see Rusko in Athens, and after that, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. Shit, with the band ending up not working out, and I found myself back at home, but still knew I had more to offer the world in terms of music. So, I started immersing myself in the local Atlanta dubstep culture as much as I could, seeing Mayhem, HxV [at that time Megan Foxx], and Ployd at Graveyard as many times as I possibly could, absorbing it all like a sponge. A few months later, I was introduced to Taylor Scott [the other mantis boy] through a mutual friend. He was at a similar level of skill and experience as me, but was approaching it in a completely different way, I fucking LOVED it. So, we agreed to work together to try and show each other our approaches, and that first collaborative experience generated such a genuine chemistry, we decided to formalize our collaboration under one entity, thus, MANTIS was born!
Heres two songs we worked on together to complete for our solo aliases at the time:
Taylor’s project, Hexed.
I immediately loved this energy when i first heard the intro, I helped him out with the ‘drop’.
My best song at the time, under the alias B4N5H33:
Taylor liked it, and helped me generally make it suck less.
Everyone has to start somewhere, but we both immediately recognized that we sought to change the face of heavy music.
The first official collaboration we did together under the name Mantis was a remix for the classic Excision track, ‘Subsonic.’ Even after ten years, I still think this track is cool; it didn’t win the competition, but was undoubtedly a precursor of what was to come from us!
How did you come up with the name “Mantis”?
I wish there was a cool story for this, but there isn’t really. We were both just tossing name ideas around, and eventually Taylor suggested Mantis, and I was like “yeahhhh that’s fuckin SICK!’
Can you describe how the two of you work together on a musical project?
It’s always been 50/50 since the very beginning. Taylor does more of the melodic, atmospheric, and mixdown work, while I do more of the drum and bass sound design and bassline composition. That being said, we are always bouncing feedback and ideas off each other to achieve the dopest shit we can. For example, I’ll make a bassline and then Taylor will tell me it’s too repetitive or basic…I’ll be pissed off for a sec, but then keep pushing the idea until it’s something we’re both hyped on. Vice versa for when Taylor makes a melody, etc, we both constantly push eachother.
When performing, do you believe in the ability to “read an audience”? And if so, how do you practice that?
Maybe back in 2011-2013, but now, the crowd wants to mosh and headbang, so we put together sets to give them just that.
Mantis is definitely branded into Atlanta EDM history. What do you think sets you apart from other artists?
I guess I would say when we got started, for a while, we were of a minority in the Atlanta music scene (in that we were constantly producing our own music.) along with legends like Mayhem, Section 8, HxV, Trench, and many others! However, nowadays, ATL is a HOTBED of producer talent. Dudes like Zubah, DrinkUrWater, RA, Mike’s Revenge, Parrotice, Ployd, JStella, and so many more are putting in serious WORK!
What is your favorite performance memory so far? What made it so memorable?
I think I would say when we got to play the first Counterpoint, we were still very new then, and had a bone to pick with the world to show what we could do. We played early in the day, but still ended out with a packed crowd all moshing [before moshing at dubstep shows was a staple of the culture.] I don’t say that in a sense to flex, but just to reflect on how far everything has come, makes me super stoked to know that we had a hand in helping to forge this new aspect of heavy music culture!
I remember you sliding an Under Oath song into your set at an event at Six Flags- Atlanta a few years ago, and it was incredible. It’s obvious that metal plays a huge role in your roots and in providing inspiration. What makes incorporating metal into your sets so important/special to you?
Well, we’ve been playing metal songs in our sets, and making metal bass music since we started. So, that will ALWAYS be a key part of what Mantis is, pushing the envelopes to make heavy ass music, but still making it artful.
Do you have any upcoming releases or shows scheduled soon?
We’ve been focusing mostly lately on wrapping up an album for our new yet to be revealed alias! We have a few sick dates coming up this spring though, and we’re about to drop a ridiculous homage to deathmetal with our homie Antiserum! Be on the lookout for that!
Given a free day to do anything you want, what would we find the two of you doing?
Drinking Modelo, listening to a bass sound over and over again, arguing about it.
If you could perform at any event/music festival in the world, which one would you choose? Why?
Lost Lands. We were supposed to play in 2018, but, unfortunately our set was cancelled because of the weather. With how much I see heavy music thriving there, I KNOW that it would be the ultimate platform for us to not only refresh our name in people’s minds, but also capture new ears as well.
What is your most unique/unusual talent that you think the world should know about? (You guys can answer separately on this one)
Paul: Good at impressions.Taylor: Can compose entire orchestral pieces by himself at home in a small room, also, he’s really fucking good at From Software games. [Dark Souls, Sekiro, Bloodborne]
(Those are some sick talents I’d definitely like to witness in person)
A few closing words from Mantis:
“We started from nothing, and have always given our all to create something. We’ve been supported by some of the biggest names in the business, released on some of the biggest labels, and played all over the world. But at the root of it all is Atlanta. We would NOT be where we are today without the absolutely unique and unrivaled support and energy that the ATL provides. ATL HOE!”
You can find MANTIS here:
Interview by: Ana