In Gene Wolf's fantasy classic Latro in the Mist, the titular character loses his short-term memory, but he gains the ability to converse with a myriad of otherworldly beings. It's befitting that Seven Lions—aka Jeff Montalvo—pulls his moniker from that story. His music remains just as ethereal, engaging, and enigmatic as any of the creatures populating Wolfe's whimsy. On his first EP for Casablanca, Worlds Apart, the artist and producer constructs a cinematic dance floor soundscape embracing trance, dubstep, progressive house, and more.
Growing up in Santa Barbara County, he initially played bass in a slew of local punk rock bands during high school. Receiving the recording program FL Studio as a gift one year, Seven Lions started making music on his own and began earnestly developing a singular production style."I loved the idea of being able to compose a whole piece of music by myself and not having to wait on anybody," he explains. "It started there. I was making really experimental music on the computer, opening up different doorways."
In 2012, he entered a high-profile remix contest on Beatport. His take on Above & Beyond's "You Got To Go" made him the victor, and the track clinched #2 on Beatport's dubstep for more than six weeks. Soon, artists like Tritonal began seeking him out for remixes. He teamed up with Minnesota for the online hit "Fevers" [featuring Mimi Page] and eventually lent his remixing talents to everybody from Paul van Dyk and Delerium to Florence + the Machine. After dropping the critically acclaimed Days To Come EP on Skrillex's OWSLA label in 2013, he joined forces with Myon & Shane 54 for "Strangers" [featuring Tove Lo]. The track appeared on The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones soundtrack and served as his first major label single for Casablanca Records.
"Strangers" stands emblematic of his sound, merging rapturous synths with a striking groove. "I like to make really melodic, powerful, and emotional music," he asserts. "There are lots of layers and textures 'Strangers' is memorable. Tove has this great topline, and you can sing along to it."
"Strangers" laid the foundation for Worlds Apart. Kerli accentuates the title track and "Keep It Close" with her own pixie dust, adding a touch of gothic pop to the staggering production. Meanwhile, "Nepenthe" mirrors the harmonies of what Seven Lions refers to as "Viking metal" with its muscular melodies and robust build up. For "Don't Leave", Ellie Goulding initially reached out to Seven Lions on Twitter requesting a remix before they decided to do an original. The results remain as stunning as they are soaring.
On stage, Seven Lions brings this music to life vividly. He served as main support during Porter Robinson's sold-out Circle Assembly Tour, joined Krewella on the road, and appeared at festivals including Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas, HARD, Paradiso, Electric Forrest, Electric Zoo, Ile Soniq, Imagine, SkylabXX, Ultra Music Festival, Electric Daisy Carnival New York, Lights All Night, and more. Around the release of the latest EP, he also launched the highly successful Worlds Apart headline tour in the States.
Ultimately, Seven Lions is writing a much larger legacy with his music that encompasses a world of its own. This is the beginning of his story.