There’s something magical about music that finds that perfect balance between chilled out and banging. The two sounds can often seem opposing but that sweet spot is where BACKWHEN does his best work. The Denver-based producer has become renowned for his signature sound which fuses elements of phonk, trap, wave, and more. A true icon in the phonk scene, he founded the legendary PURPLE POSSE, one of the most influential artist collectives in modern phonk. His Illusions tape alongside WATERMANE is a wavy work of art and his latest offering Chromesthesia serves to illustrate the artist’s increasing talent. With a new project dropping next week, it’s only right that we connect with BACKWHEN for a Guest Mix + Interview to give fans (myself included) what they need.
The forty-five-minute mix is an absolute vibe, showcasing BACKWHEN’s production process as well as some of phonk’s finest. Our interview touches on BACKWHEN’s origins, recent collaborations, the evolution of phonk, and more.
Tell us about the mix. What should listeners expect? What was your goal when putting it together?
I feel like this mix fuses together trap, wave, and phonk pretty nicely. I included a few of my personal favorite tracks of my own, as well as some gems from homies. Stoked to showcase some unreleased stuff too!
How does the mix compare to a BACKWHEN live set?
This is pretty similar to a live set. When performing I might experiment a bit more with transitions and play some harder stuff. For an internet mix, I want to make it as seamless as possible and set a vibe because it’s able to be replayed.
What inspired you to start making music?
Around 2013 I got into EDM and DJing which eventually led me to making music. Went through a bunch of sounds and aliases and ended up at BACKWHEN around 2015.
I just love the process of combining other artists’ sounds with mine. Then you put all the songs in a playlist and a project comes to life.
Your latest project Chromesthesia is all collaborations. Was this your intent from the outset? How did it come together?
It’s pretty much a bunch of collabs that accumulated over a few months! The tracks with katebi were over a year old I think. Just Connor and wrcktngl both live in Denver so we are able to work together irl. I just love the process of combining other artists’ sounds with mine. Then you put all the songs in a playlist and a project comes to life.
Do you have a preference for collaborating or working independently? Does your approach change in each scenario?
I love working with and chopping up audio so stems are great to work with. I just try to add my touch to what they have in a tasteful way. It’s different depending on who you’re working with 🤷I also really like working with myself and getting in a flow.
I just love the process of curating a project. All the tracks eventually come together and you get to see what you created.
A lot of phonk artists tend to drop their collection of works as tapes vs. singles and EPs. What’s the importance of this approach? Why does it resonate with you?
I just love the process of curating a project. All the tracks eventually come together and you get to see what you created. And it feels so good to find the right cover that represents it visually. It’s probably what other people were doing so I just did it. DJ Smokey’s old tapes were so well put together and we used to bump them all the way through.
Can you tell us about PURPLE POSSE? How did it get started? How has it evolved over the years?
Around 2015/16 I was into the trap and wave SoundCloud scene (artists like klimeks, whispa, misogi, grxgvr, blank body, voduz) I stumbled upon paulo (6-6-6) and aseri and that’s how I discovered phonk. Pretty soon after working with them I got the idea for a group inspired by swisherboyz (loud lord, myrror, xoxainedeezy). We made a group chat and they added all the homies and there it was. This video is spot on and describes it all. So blessed that all our roads crossed there and something great was born. We put out so many classics in such a short time it was amazing. I’m just grateful for all of it and I am proud to be a part of something with them. Always love to hymbeats and mythic <3 There really is no posse without them.
When we connected with Von Storm he cited you as one of the key artists that got him into phonk. How does it feel knowing that you’ve influenced a new wave of producers?
I feel like shows are the next step for sure. People love seeing something live for the first time.
Von is one of my favorite artists now so that’s pretty crazy. His music is influencing mine and the whole scene.
Phonk seems to be making bigger waves than ever with artists such as yourself and Yung Vamp playing more shows and festivals. How do you feel about the genre’s current state and the outlook for the future?
I feel like shows are the next step for sure. People love seeing something live for the first time. The Black Box in Denver has a monthly phonk night bringing in artists from out of state to headline. The couple shows I’ve played with vamp were crazy. I can’t wait to see where it goes!
What do you enjoy most outside of music?
I mostly work at my day job and play video games. Really stoked to travel a bit more to shows and meet people.
What should we expect from you for the rest of the year?
Chillout EP dropping 9/23, also some collabs on the horizon with watermane, everyst, von storm, escape, varo, and probably more. Much love thank you guys for the showcase <3
NECROEZ & BACKWHEN – ID
BACKWHEN – ID
EVERYST – IF YOU WERE HERE
BACKWHEN – Mirage (feat. SMOKEFILLEDDREAM)
BACKWHEN – Rainbow Vision (feat. KATEBI & NECROEZ)
ELK, Chris Dogzout, & UZ – Pressure feat. SoloSam (BACKWHEN Remix)
BACKWHEN – BIG GAME (Unreleased)
Shell Sport – Claymore
jayrewind & varo – frisckk (BACKWHEN Edit)
ESCPE – DUBLCUP
EVERYST & BACKWHEN – ID
NECROEZ – Plain
WATERMANE – JUST THE WAY IT IS
DJ Smokey – Southside Prayer
haku – soletiva
NORTH POSSE – NOT SPOOKY FT. BLUBEAR