The power and influence of social media in the music industry is impossible to ignore. A new wave of underground artists are coming up through TikTok and Instagram, where going viral can lift aspiring producers from obscurity into the most in-demand names seemingly overnight.
Enter Angrybaby, who we discovered after he continuously came up in our feeds with his fire tracks and a hilariously relatable online schtick of “working my 9-5 while also trying to DJ.” The Bay Area native honed his craft making what he calls “soundcloud hip-hop” beats while at college in Boston, but pivoted to dance music soon after, making some of the freshest melodies we’ve heard recently.
It’s been a busy few months for the SF-based producer. He dropped the club-ready, stutter-house forward EP Regularity, played at the iconic Brooklyn venue Elsewhere, and as of today, his official remix for Louis The Child’s “Daybreak” is live.
This new remix of “Daybreak” is the perfect introduction to Angrybaby if it’s your first time listening to him. With its deep-house bassline and exhilarating synth melodies, it has all the elements of his dance-heavy signature sound. He transforms the sentimental vibe of Louis The Child’s original version from pensive to optimistic and hopeful. The overall result is the perfect summer track, going down like a cool drink on a hot day.
Last week, ahead of opening for labelmate Emmit Fenn, Angrybaby (real name Sam Agate) took the time to sit down with us and talk about the evolution of his music journey, TikTok strategy, and the importance of touching grass. You can check out the new remix from Angrybaby below, as well as our conversation with him. Enjoy!
Louis the Child – Daybreak (with Zachary Knowles) (AngryBaby Remix)
[TSIS]: So to start, we need to know the meaning behind your name.
[Angrybaby] Oh God. Okay so I was going into my freshman year of college, and my mom was doing a huge purge of all my old baby stuff, like books and whatnot. And so I was like, let me take a look through these. And I came across this baby book of emotions and I was looking through and the only Asian baby in the whole book was the one for Angry. And I was like, oh, that would be a super funny DJ name, like Angry Baby. It started off as a joke and it just kind of stuck.
Tell us about your musical upbringing and how you got into music.
My first memories of music were my parents putting on the coronation mass [Mozart] CD to put me to bed. And I just remember following asleep to it as a child. Then I grew up playing classical piano and I absolutely hated it. I played classical piano all the way until my freshman, sophomore year of high school. Then in high school, after I stopped playing piano, I basically was like, you know, hip-hop’s kind of cool, producing hip-hop sounds kind of fun, let me try to get into that. So I had garage band on my laptop and was just essentially screwing around making beats for my friends and I to rap over…which still exists on SoundCloud. I produced hip-hop until my junior year of college, which was probably a little too long to be producing stuff like that. Then it was my junior year of college where I finally got introduced to electronic music and made the shift towards electronic music because I didn’t have to rely on a rapper or myself to not have to come up with a cheesy rap. I felt that [electronic music] was more producer-centric, like the producer and the artist can be the same person. From there I was learning the intricacies of electronic music and how the synthesizer works and what all of the plugins do.
Then during COVID I had all of this time to do nothing but music. So I really learned how to manipulate software and use it as a tool to get what was in my brain out onto “paper.” But I was about to quit music or stop producing music and focus on DJing because I was like, damn, I don’t think my production’s that good, I’m not getting anywhere with this, might as well just DJ, it’s easier. But then my friend suggested I put my music on TikTok and I was like, that’s just stupid and cheesy, it’s not gonna do anything, my music’s not even that good. And then lo and behold, I am where I am today because of putting my music on TikTok. Yeah. So I have everything, credit to my friend.
Shout out to that friend! You mentioned you started to really get into electronic music your junior year of college. Is there any artist in particular that stands out as being your introduction to it?
I was a part of a frat in college and through them I caught wind of Tiesto and Two Friends for their Big Bootie mix. And then from there did my own discovery like Flume, Golden Features, ODESZA – artists that are more than just straight dance and that’s where I kind of found myself after that.
Listening to your discography of music, it feels like there has definitely been a transition in your sound. Your earlier EPs, like 44/33 and AquaTerra are kind of more like future bass. And then your stuff recently has been way more house-focused, and I’d even say your song “Talkin To” falls under tech house. What’s that journey been like?
I think it was out of necessity. A huge transition point for me, funnily enough, was when I started to DJ because that allowed me to see and understand how dance music was structured, and what works and what doesn’t for a crowd.
So in my mind, I was like if I wanna start playing my music out loud, I should probably start making stuff that I’d like to listen to that’s modeled off of the dance music that I like to play when I DJ. So that was the transition point for me. Also I think that in San Francisco there is a complete oversaturation of DJs, since the barrier to entry is really low. So I thought to myself, if I want to do this as a career and excel, I need to do something that differentiates me between everybody else that has a USB stick and DJs at these clubs. And so naturally I landed on the production side of things because, I’m fortunate and grateful enough to have had an upbringing in music and have musical knowledge and knew how to use Ableton. And that led me to focus more even on production.
I think it’s super interesting to hear you say that you felt like DJing was easier for you, that you were gonna stick to that instead of production. I think for a lot of producers it’s the opposite. Do you feel that as you continue to produce more, you’d still prefer DJing?
It’s actually so funny cause like, no, now. It’s not that I don’t like DJing. But it’s a little more stressful because depending on the venue, the crowd, if you’re opening or if you’re the main marquee act, you have to maintain a certain vibe or curate a vibe to whatever setting you’re in. Whereas with production, I produce only in my headphones, I don’t produce on speakers. So if I don’t like something after 20 minutes, I can delete it and completely change what tone and energy I’m producing and it’s of no detriment to anybody. Other than my ear drums and myself.
So now we do need to talk more about TikTok. I think your story is really inspiring for a lot of up-and-coming producers and DJs because you’re still working 9-5 while kind of bringing us along for the ride. And I think your story is so fascinating as an observer because you’re just really showing the power in TikTok, at least that’s what it like seems like. I was really surprised to hear you say at the beginning that you were like, this is cringe, I don’t want to post on TikTok. From a casual viewer’s perspective, sometimes it seems like you have this overnight case of success going viral on TikTok. I know that’s obviously not the case. Can you just tell us a bit more about that?
Yeah, so at the start of this whole musical journey on TikTok, a lot of it was like throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks. And it just so happened that I posted one day, like “I’m at work, I wish I was making music right now.” People liked that, and it gained some traction with [people commenting, saying] “oh man, same here.” My management was like try and lean into that because it’s something that people can relate and latch onto.
Ever since then, I’ve tried to show it how it is for a lot of people because I think as you said, you hear about these stories of overnight success and social media just showcasing the highlights of people’s careers. But 99 times out of a 100, the people who are trying go the musical route are doing what I’m doing. And I’m just trying to be genuine and authentic when I do it because I personally hate the mystique of electronic music and how there will be a mysterious DJ where you only see them in sunglasses and a button-down shirt on the stage with a bunch of rings. It’s like, don’t get me wrong, there’s time and place for that. But nobody is that cool. In reality, you’re probably a musical nerd just as every other producer and musician is.
For someone who is just starting out production, do you have any advice or tips for them?
I was about to say just don’t give up, but that’s so cliche.
No, I feel like that’s valid because you almost gave up producing because you were like, this isn’t going anywhere.
Well, I mean there’s truth in cliche. But also, don’t be afraid to be cringe because it’s cringe until it’s not.
And that’s, that’s sort of the currency these days in terms of creative. It’s like you’ve gotta go through TikTok or Instagram to gain a following. And also, do stuff other than music as well. Like go touch some grass.
Okay, so you [opened] for Emmit Fenn [at Elsewhere music club in Brooklyn]. How did that happen?
I just got a call from like my manager and label and they were like, guess what? What are you doing June 29th? You can open up for Emmitt Fenn in New York. He’s signed to TH3RD BRAIN, which is also the label that I’m signed to. I think our musical styles are somewhat similar. And we’re both from the same city [East Bay]. He’s an all-time favorite artist of mine, so I’m freaking out. Then there’s another [show] in Denver.
Thinking about your future, what does it look like? What are your goals for yourself?
I think my all-time goal is in the next couple of years play Outside Lands, because that in my mind is a very full circle moment.
I think another one would be to collaborate with an artist that I’ve listened to or who first inspired me to make electronic music. Collaborating with one of them would be like a dream come true.
Speaking of that, you have an official remix for Louis The Child coming out. That’s so exciting. How did that happen?
So this is a funny story. Their manager reached out to me a while ago on Instagram and we had just been talking. And then he texted me one day and was like, hey, would you be interested in putting your twist on a LTC song. He sent me all of their stems to their new song. And so I sent something back and he was like, great, love it…I was like, holy shit. I was freaking out because during COVID, LTC released the stems to one of their songs and held a remix contest and I submitted a song and wasn’t chosen. It’s just so weird that two years ago I made a horrible remix to one of those songs and then two years later, I’m making an official remix for them.
What else should we know about Angrybaby?
I feel like I’m a pretty open book in terms of accessibility, like via text, DM, whatever. No matter how big or small I am, I never ever, ever, ever, want somebody to put me on a pedestal just because I know how to manipulate Ableton more than the average person can. I think being accessible and being a human being is the most important part of being a musician in my mind.
And I don’t actually hate my job.