Surf Mesa makes “music for good feels.” The rapidly rising 20-year-old producer (real name Powell Aguirre) brought all of them recently when he called up Music Choice from his new SoCal-based pad. His breakout track “ily (I love you baby)” is currently sitting at over 310 million global streams and over 1 billion views on TikTok with 1.5 million videos made using his song as the backdrop.
Not bad for a guy who until a couple of months ago was living with three roommates in a two-bedroom spot!
For nearly twenty minutes Surf Mesa chatted with MC about his come-up, inspirations, and how he can now call Marshmello a friend.
Music Choice: I see you’ve got your iced coffee. Ready to go!
Surf Mesa: I’ve got my venti iced coffee with eight pumps of classic syrup. I’ve perfected it over the years.
MC: Do you have a local Starbucks where you can walk in and they’ll have it ready for you?
SM: I’m getting to that point! I just moved into a new place and am able to walk to the same location every few days. Now they’ll be like “eight pumps?”
MC: So, you moved into a new place and that’s in California?
SM: Yep. A year ago, I moved from Seattle where I grew up. I came after graduating from high school and lived with four roommates in a two-bedroom apartment. It was very cozy. Now I have an environment where I can focus and make music on my own schedule.
MC: In your former “cozy” arrangement how difficult was it for you to create new music?
SM: Very. I was living with a roommate who was attempting to become an internet personality where he’d stream himself gaming. He’d have these freakouts for the personality aspect and I’d be behind him trying to make music [laughs].
MC: You’d be sitting there with like big can headphones on trying to get work done?
SM: I now have good headphones but back then I had a pair that enhanced the stereo range so I would just hear him straight through the headphone!
MC: Your new setup must be a bit more conducive to getting work done. Have you been getting after it in your new home?
SM: Definitely. It’s go time now. I have my Starbucks down the block and can come back and make music.
MC: Tell me how the “Be Kind” remix came together. Remixing a Marshmello featuring Halsey song is a pretty huge look!
SM: Marshmello hit me up because he was excited about my song “ily (I love you baby)” and what I was was doing. He’s now a good friend of mine. He asked me to remix “Be Kind” and I was so stoked. He emailed me the stems and I had trouble starting out because of the song’s bpm. I was able to start putting my touch on it when I sped it up and added some vocal chops. That was my breakthrough point.
I sent it back to him and he was excited about it and people seem to like it. It’s been insane. It’s Marshmello!
MC: When you were having a slow start with the remix was it nerve-wracking like, “can I do this?”
SM: Definitely. I was grateful to make that breakthrough on the song. There was a nerve-wracking aspect. This song would be the newest release for both of those huge artists! I didn’t want to let them down.
MC: You started making music back when you were in grade school? What inspired you to get started?
SM: I come from a musical family. I’m the youngest of five and my siblings would show me what’s cool. One of my brothers is heavy into tech and set up the production program FruityLoops on the family computer. I started making electronic music following my influences like early Rusko and Skrillex.
MC: Stuff that was new back when I was your age! When did it hit you that music could be your career?
SM: Sometime in high school, I started taking it seriously when I was making music for my friends to hear. Girls seemed to be into it too. I’m grateful for that time because I became confident in my skills in creating the sounds I heard in my head.
MC: You mentioned “ily (I love you baby)” earlier which has been massive on social media and continues to blow up on TikTok. Do you have a favorite video where someone has used the song?
SM: Jason Derulo made a video on TikTok where he’s making brownies in his kitchen to the song. There are a bunch of cool transitions like where he’s cracking the eggs.
There are so many cool dances. It makes me happy to see how the song inspires people!
MC: What can listeners expect from Surf Mesa for the rest of 2020?
SM: I’m working on a handful of songs which are all collabs with some of my favorite producers and vocalists. These upcoming songs reflect a sound I’ve been working hard on. The sound that is Surf Mesa.