A Cinnaminson electronic music artist will perform at a festival in Kentucky this weekend after nabbing the victory in a remix contest sponsored by rock band Cage the Elephant.
Zack Hanni, also known as Somaaa, remixed the band’s song “Always Something” and now gets to perform at The Starry Nights Festival in Bowling Green Friday night.
Hanni, a 2010 Cinnaminson High School graduate, is a recording industry major at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, about two hours from Bowling Green.
Hanni only found out about the contest a few days before the remix deadline. He found out last week he won.
“Most of it was me sitting down at one time,” said Hanni of remixing the song, Cage the Elephant’s newest single. “I went back to it the next day, tweaked some things, mastered it, and made it sound better.”
Hanni’s fan base, which is big on Facebook, helped him win the popular vote and he took the band's vote, too.
The 20-year-old is no amateur—he’s released albums and is actually releasing two more this week. He works with bands but Somaaa is his solo project. He plays house shows and other venues too. But this festival is his biggest stage yet.
“This is going to open up a lot of doors for me,” he said.
Cage the Elephant hit it big in 2008 with the song “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” from their self-titled album. They’ve toured with the Stone Temple Pilots and Gaslight Anthem and were named the Best New Artist by Rolling Stone readers last year.
Admittedly, Hanni said he’s not entirely familiar with their music.
“I listened to them before but was never really particularly into them,” Hanni said. “They were just another band I knew I liked but I didn’t follow them closely.”
With the remix, Hanni said, he created a whole new song.
“The only thing I used of theirs was the vocals,” Hanni said. “I created a brand new melody.”
His own influences include deadmau5, the Bloody Beetroots and DJ duo Crookers. Somaaa experiments not only with house and electro music, but some songs feature elements of synth-pop and dubstep.
Hanni is using this week to prepare for his performance this weekend. He will be performing a 45-minute set in front of thousand of fans, including friends from Tennessee and his father who is flying down.
“I really wanted to just get away from pushing the play button,” Hanni said. “I’m recreating each song live on stage, mixing each song together and playing different parts of different songs at the same time.”
He’s also making sure all his equipment works once he does get up on stage.
“I’ll kind of be winging it,” he said. “Each time I play, it’s something different. It’s not about pushing play.”
Hanni’s plans for after college include performance and creating the electronic music he’s been making for years.
“I hope to support myself off that,” he said “I’m having fun making music and playing shows and releasing music.”
You can listen to Hanni’s music, as well as his final remix for the Cage the Elephant contest, on his Soundcloud page.