Sometimes all it takes to make it in the industry is a few black hoodies and an army willing to wear them

Getting involved in music is easy. Noodle around on a laptop, put on some fresh new gear, have a friend take a heavily filtered iPhone photo and throw everything up online — that’s basically all it takes now to consider oneself an artist. Talent, timeless hits and a record deal: who needs ‘em? The difference between basement dwellers and successful cultural behemoths, however, is in the details.

Like branding — it’s a capitalist mainstay. There’s not one successful person, place or business that doesn’t have a developed branding campaign in place. McDonald’s, NASA, Leonardo DiCaprio … God — they’ve all got a brand, a centralized idea built around an image. In their respective industries, those leaders reign, and much like in the world of music … image is everything.

After more than a decade in the game, the two DJs in the Chicago-based electro-trap duo Flosstradamus have figured this out, and continue to fortify the brand while approaching the top of the EDM industry.

They’ve been successful without it though: producing huge global hits, touring non-stop, selling out venues, amassing millions of download and plays … a current Las Vegas residency … it’s been a good run. But it hasn’t been until the past few years the duo has taken the image of the artistry seriously. In 2011, while walking down the street past a sporting goods store, Josh “J2K” Young said aloud to Curt “Autobot” Cameruci that they needed to buy black hoodies and black pants, an easy gesture, but one that caught on quickly marketing themselves as the HDYBYZ.

From that the HDYNATION was born, and from there an army of fans began to fall in line behind them — all thanks to the strength of its already built Internet following from things like MySpace, Facebook and a slowly budding Instagram / Twitter culture.

“There’s something essential about being fluid and natural and just sort of putting things up on the Internet that comes directly from the heart,“ says Young. “There’s a little bit of a risk in that, but at the same time a lot of the really great ideas and cool stuff we’ve done has come from that.”

As anyone knows, the Internet is an unforgiving beast. For ungrounded teenagers to corporate CEOs, every move people make online is archived and can be the difference between disaster and success.

“Now, at this stage in our career, we’re a lot more calculated with what we’re doing,” says Young. “We have a team behind us and we’re working with a lot more people. It’s dialed in a little bit. When we were doing it before, we didn’t really have a direction, we were trying to figure ourselves out and figure everything out. For the last couple of years, though, we’ve had a clear direction and a clear destination of where we’re trying to get to.”

Coming up in a pre-Net-era, around the time electronic music was making its first massive push in the states, the two artists had a boatload of inspiration bustling around them. Situated between two electro-havens, Detroit and Chicago, both Young and Cameruci say the locale provided the sound, with maybe a little more than questionable fashion choices.

“It was like a little bit of the Detroit techno stuff and a little bit of the Chicago house and everything in between — so it was always around,” says Cameruci. “But I was a drum ‘n’ bass kid, so I was more of the cargo pants made out of parachute material.“

“Real talk, it just popped into my head,” Young says laughing, cutting Cameruci short. “When me and Curt worked on our first track together, we were in the studio that was in his room, in his apartment that he was sharing with a few people. I remember, Curt, your bed was covered in that fuckin’ camo netting, or whatever … very drum ‘n’ bass.”

“Oh yeah, I was a junglist, as I like to call myself,” Cameruci says while joining in on the laughter. “On the real shit, our sound now has the same influences as it did back then though. Jungle was kind of electronic music and hip-hop together, so what we’re doing now is an evolved version of what was happening back then.”

Crediting their pasts with the successes of the present, both Young and Cameruci say the electronic culture continues to be good for them, and continues to provide them outlets to make Floss’ music heard by everyone — even if the hate rolls in more the bigger the act becomes.

“A lot of the times we do the more risky things, it doesn’t get accepted that well because there’s so many more people,” says Cameruci. “Before, when we had that smaller niche crowd that was behind us we’d say, ‘We’re gonna do some weird shit,’ and everyone was like, ‘Fuck ya that sounds cool.’ Now, for instance, we’re playing The Gathering of the Juggalos this summer, and we’re stoked — but because we have so many more people following us, the people that don’t understand our choice in doing that are a little upset.”

In general, the two of them don’t like to give haters the pleasure of addressing comments, but in the case of The Gathering announcement, Flosstradamus the brand wanted it to be known it wouldn’t fold on the decision, because at the end of the day the duo want their music to be heard by as many people as possible, and being one of the first electronic artists to turn up the gathering is good for the resume — it’s different. It’s fun.

“As artists we’ve been trying to make this sound, this movement, as big and as available as humanly possible,” says Young. “We’re not the artists that say it’s got to say underground, we’ve never been that way. We’ve never been too cool for anything. We’re trying to bring this shit to the people, and we want as many people to find out about it as humanly possible.”

Whether it’s the HDYNATION flag (emblazoned with a signature warning sign emoji) flying at shows, or wearing all black hoodies to show camaraderie, or just being a part of the online mob, the following built by Flosstradamus is strong, and once that type of memorable marketing is in place, it’s hard to get knocked off any pedestal. For its followers, HDYNATION is a lifestyle brand, for Flosstradamus, it’s a lasting and marketable culture.


HDYNATION: Down with Flosstradamus? Then you’re a part of the HDYNATION.

HDYBYZ / HDYGRLZ: Respective members of the HDYNATION.

HDYGEAR: Clothing / accessories with the Flosstradamus warning logo on it

PLURNT: PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect) + Turnt (On one, fucked up, not sober) = Plurnt