What kid doesn't dream about being a local legend? Being able to go back through the halls of your high school (cue John Mayer Song), with the knowledge in mind: I fucking made it.
For Mystic, Connecticut-bred Nate Rathbun, better known under his DJ name Audien, sharing the stage with his heroes like Armin van Buuren, as well as gaining a Grammy nomination this year for his remix of Bastille's "Pompeii" (he would lose to Tiësto) hasn't caused him to forget his small-town roots. "Connecticut is part of my fabric," the young producer and DJ tells THUMP. "The local paper I grew up with interviewed me when I got nominated for a Grammy. My mom bought every copy," he says
Rathbun speaks of a nostalgic visit back to his local high-school to share tales of his life as a world-traveling DJ to students, as well as maintaining close relationships with some of his teachers who helped guide his path. For a city known most for its 1988 coming-of-age tale Mystic Pizza, which stars a young, pre-Pretty Woman Julia Roberts, Rathbun has become another chapter to the small town's pride.
Having just released his latest single, a genre-leaping country-meets-big-room anthem with Nashville outfit Lady Antebellum, Audien's continued status as local treasure is looking bright as ever. While the M.O of Rathbun's production leans towards the gargantuan big-room that tears apart festival main-stages––"Performing on the mainstage at EDC, on the same night as Tiësto, Calvin, and DJ Snake was a lifetime highlight for me," he shares––Rathbun's latest work, takes things in a slightly more delicate direction, emphasizing Antebellum's vocal prowess in fire form.
"I didn't set out to make an EDM x Country record, but instead to find vocals that would relate to the call and response, harmonic nature of [Something Better]," he explains. "I don't view them as country music, I view them as simply great music," he says of the collaboration.
It makes sense that Rathbun himself has been inspired by fellow creators of angelic, harmonic dance music—guys like Above & Beyond and Ferry Corsten, who helped pioneer the marriage of both delicacies and adrenaline in their productions. As a rising artist, getting the chance to to not just look up to, but work professionally with some of of these aforementioned heroes has provided him a portal into the surreality of capturing fame, especially as a 23-year old. While he continues to admire some of the overlords in trance and big-room house, Rathbun knows it's not always about viewing other artists as rivals, but having faith in the possibilities of your creative output. "Armin, Above & Beyond, and Ferry Corsten have invited me to play with them and have signed my tracks," he shares.
"It's a very surreal feeling to personally connect with these guys but generally the only artist I view as competition is myself. I try to set a new sonic precedent for myself with each track I produce."