Jeff Montalvo (born March 31, 1987), known professionally as Seven Lions, is an American record producer, remixer, instrumentalist and DJ from Santa Barbara, California. Active musically since 2010, his music combines styles as diverse as trance, dubstep, drum and bass, glitch hop, and electro house. He has released three EPs, multiple singles, and official remixes for record labels such as Casablanca Records, OWSLA, Viper Recordings, Anjunabeats, Republic Records and Monstercat.
His second EP Days to Come was mentioned by Vibe Magazine as one of their Top Electronic Albums of 2012, and it peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart. His next EP, Worlds Apart, charted at No. 76 on The Billboard 200, and the EP's track "Don't Leave" with Ellie Goulding entered the UK Singles Chart in 2014. He tours regularly in the United States, and since 2012 has performed at festivals such as SXSW, Ultra Music Festival, Electric Daisy Carnival, and Camp Bisco. He was nominated for America's Best DJ, a competition held by DJ Times, in 2014.
Early life and education
Jeff Montalvo was born on March 31, 1987 in Santa Barbara, California. His interest in music production began at the age of 7, when his father came home with a Macintosh and keyboard. He also grew up playing bass and guitar, and after playing drums for several metal and punk-inclined bands, he eventually segued into electronic music production. Montalvo explains that accessibility was his initial reason for the shift, "because I got tired of waiting for my band all the time - I wanted to just start making music so I started composing electronic music by myself." After a friend gave him the Fruity Loops digital audio workstation, he started learning production.
In college he developed an interest in the genre of trance after being handed an old Tiësto CD. At age twenty he attended his first rave in 2007, which inspired him to focus on producing trance himself. Around 2010 he began releasing music under the moniker Seven Lions, mixing industrial drum beats with multiple genres. The name Seven Lions comes from a fantasy book called Latro in the Mist by Gene Wolfe, who he names as his favorite author. Seven Lions is a character in the book.
2011-12: First remixes and EPs
One of his first releases was an unofficial remix of "Cosmic Love" by Florence and the Machine in March 2010. His remix was then included as part of the official single package for "Cosmic Love" by Moshi Moshi Records on July 5, 2010. Also in 2011, he released a remix of the song "Satellite" by Oceanlab.
On a whim Seven Lions entered the Above & Beyond official remix competition on Beatport in 2011, remixing their track "You Got To Go." The track sat at #2 on Beatport’s Dubstep chart for over 6 weeks, largely underneath Skrillex’s remix of Avicii's "Levels." The track also won the remix competition, which led to Seven Lions becoming officially involved with Above and Beyond. The remix was officially released on their Anjunabeats label on December 21, 2011.
Seven Lions' first major tour started in March 2012, when he hit the UKF Tour with dubstep DJs Gemini and Koan Sound. During the tour, Seven Lions also supported Bassex. He also remixed the Above & Beyond track "On My Way To Heaven" in 2012. According to Mixmag, "His take on 'On My Way To Heaven' retained the original's euphoric opening before plunging into a maelstrom of super-sized beats and gurgling bass."
2012: Polarize and Days to Come
His first EP Polarize was released on April 23, 2012 on the British drum and bass label Viper Recordings. The EP includes six tracks, which incorporate a blend of genres such as dubstep, drum and bass, and house. Shaz Sparks is a guest vocalist on three of the tracks. The EP was largely well-received, and his song, "Below Us" was featured as Zane Lowe’s ‘Hottest Record In The World,’ with Lowe writing about the song, "fresh sounding production marries an ethereal vocal with some clean tear out riffs." After releasing Polarize, Seven Lions had several Beatport #1s (four in the dubstep chart) in 2012, with remixes for artists such as Above & Beyond, Matrix & Futurebound, Paul Van Dyk and Delirium.
After Seven Lions' management passed some of his demos to the DJ Skrillex, Seven Lions was signed to release an EP on Skrillex's personal OWSLA imprint. In October 2012, Seven Lions' released his Days to Come EP, with four tracks included. The title track features the vocals of Australian singer Fiora, and is the only dubstep song on the EP. Wrote Earmilk in a review, the song "pulls you in with the exquisite vocals and then hits you with that deep melodic bass." In contrast, the EP's song "The Truth" is progressive house, while "Fractals" incorporates electro house. The final track, "She Was," can be defined as glitch hop and features the band Birds of Paradise. Days to Come was mentioned by Vibe Magazine as one of their Top Electronic Albums of 2012. It peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart and No. 13 on Heatseekers Albums chart in 2012, and landed at No. 2 on the US iTunes Dance Charts and No. 1 on Beatports' top 5 albums of the week.
|"Seven Lions' "Strangers" — the glitchy, peak-hour, rising-and-falling collaboration with Myon & Shane 45 — is a straight-up hit, a favorite of both bloggers and mix-show DJs."|
|— Rolling Stone on April 28, 2014|
By late 2012 Seven Lions was receiving play by DJs such as Above & Beyond, Armin van Buuren, and Gareth Emery, among others. In May 2013, Mimi Page, Minnesota, and Seven Lions released their collaborative single "Fevers" on OWSLA. The single gained airplay on Sirius/XM BPM and Electric Area. A Seven Lions remix of the Röyksopp song "Running into the Sea" was released in July 2013.
Seven Lions' collaborative single "Strangers" made its debut on the Mortal Instruments: City of Bones soundtrack. The album was released by Republic Records in stores and digital retailers on August 20, 2013, and peaked at #32 on the US Billboard 200. "Strangers" is a collaboration between trance DJs Myon & Shane 54, and features the vocalist Tove Lo. The song was officially released as a single on 11 October 2013 and went to #1 on SiriusXM BPM 51.
Seven Lions was the subject of a short documentary filmed by Jason Ano, which was released in December 2013. The video followed Seven Lions on tour and as he created music in his home studio. Throughout April and May 2014, Seven Lions toured in cities such as Austin, Calgary and San Francisco. A new version of his collaborative track "Strangers" was released on April 15, 2014 as a promo single for his upcoming EP, with Vice Media calling it "more epic and lush" than the original.
2014: Worlds Apart
Seven Lions' Worlds Apart EP was released on April 29, 2014 on Casablanca Records. Among the EP's five tracks are "Don't Leave" with original vocals by Ellie Goulding, and "Worlds Apart" and "Keep It Close" with Estonian singer Kerli.
|"[Worlds Apart goes] beyond the usual bang and boom of EDM and letting the songs wander into whatever genres they care to explore... Instrumental 'Nepenthe' wanders the most, running through Enigma-like exotica before the modern wubba-wubba of dubstep shakes the floor...|
|— David Jeffries of Allmusic|
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Seven Lions described the EP as more experimental than his last EP, and stated that "the focus is on songwriting instead of pure dance-floor aggression." The EP combines diverse genes, with progressive house-style vocals and elements of trance, dubstep, bass music, and electro.
The EP charted at No. 76 on The Billboard 200, and No. 2 on Top Electronic Albums in the US. The single "Don't Leave" with Ellie Gouding entered the UK Singles Chart at number 141 on August 16, 2014. The EP was largely well received by critics, with Allmusic giving it a score of 3.5/5. Sputnik Music gave it a score of 4.2/5, and wrote "The painstaking care taken with every stuttered roar and every icy percussive hit is absolutely stunning."
In August 2013 premiered also the music video for the Seven Lions and Kerli collaboration song Worlds Apart where Kerli plays a mermaid in a story about "star crossed lovers."
2014-16: Recent projects
Seven Lions was the main support for Porter Robinson’s Circle Assembly tour, and since 2013 he has performed at festivals such as SXSW, Ultra Music Festival, Electric Daisy Carnival New York, and Camp Bisco, as well as headlining the Avalon Hollywood, Webster Hall New York City, and several other venues in the United States. He has a North American tour with Krewella and Candyland set for the fall of 2014. He was nominated for America's Best DJ in 2014. In the summer of 2014 he announced future projects, including an upcoming single for OWSLA, and an official remix of Röyksopp’s "Running to the Sea." In September 2014 he announced in an interview that he was working on an upcoming EP, as well as several singles.
A collaboration with Myon & Shane 54 and Tove Lo, titled "Strangers", made its debut on the Mortal Instruments: City of Bones soundtrack. He had a North American tour with Krewella and Candyland set in the fall of 2014.. Later that year, DJ Mag also revealed that he had placed #144th in voting for their annual Top 100 DJs poll, despite not campaigning. He also collaborated on a track with Polish producer Xilent via OWSLA entitled "The Fall" which was released as a single.
He released a new EP, titled The Throes of Winter on March 3, 2015 via Casablanca Records. The EP features more guest appearances from singers than his previous releases, and features more tracks that are musically similar to his "Days To Come" EP, compared to the "Worlds Apart" EP which was a departure from his previous effort. In 2016 he released his Creation EP, which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Electronic Albums chart.
Style and equipment
Seven Lions uses Image-Line's digital audio station FL Studio, and Image-Line has named him an official FL Power User. Among the analog equipment he uses as of June 2014: Dynaudio BM5A monitors.
Seven Lions' production style has been described by reviewers as trance, dubstep, bass music, and electro, though he incorporates other genres as well. About how he would define his genres, in 2013 Seven Lions' stated, "I like a little bit of everything to be honest, so I try and make a little bit of everything... I try and keep my style on what I want to do, so I have dubstep songs, glitch-hop, electro, trance."
Critics have in particular noted his blend of trance and dubstep. Thump clarified in April 2014 that "Seven Lions is currently one the biggest names in EDM, thanks to his unique and powerful brand of melodic, larger-than-life soundscapes that... mesh massive bass drops with emotional progressive-trance breakdowns." In 2014, Seven Lions' explained that "I think that whole dubstep/trance sound was basically just from having an open mind about different genres and realizing that most of the trance I liked was at 140 bpm and most dubstep I liked was at 140 bpm, so it naturally made sense."
Seven Lions' has described himself as a fan of "epic" music, and he is a long-time metal and fantasy fan, inspired by groups such as his favorite band Opeth. Although he produces electronic music, he doesn't always listen to it, unless actively looking for music to put into his DJ set. He has stated that "I’m always into Viking Metal, I like folky stuff. I like stuff that really takes you out of somewhere you are and puts you somewhere else." Among his favorite metal bands are Ensiferum, Månegarm, Opeth, and Storm Corrosion and their side project with Steve Wilson."
As of 2012 Seven Lions lives in Santa Barbara, California with his wife.
- Porter Robinson Circle Assembly Tour
- KOAN Sound & Gemini Westcoast Tour USA
- OWSLA Tour 2012 (with Kill The Noise, Birdy Nam Nam, and Monsta)
- Insomniac Events: Porter Robinson's 2013 Circle Assembly tour
Awards and nominations
|2011||Beatport Remix Competition||"You Got To Go (Seven Lions Remix)"||Best Remix||Won|
|2014||America's Best DJ Competition||Seven Lions||America's Best DJ||Nominated|
|Year||Album title||Release details||Chart peaks|
|Days to Come|| ||—||10||13||2||1||—|
|2014||Worlds Apart|| ||76||2||—||—||—||76|
|2015||The Throes of Winter|| ||143||3||1||—||—||72|
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
|Year||Title||Chart peaks||Album||Release details|
|UK||US ||US |
|2012||"Below Us" (ft. Shaz Sparks)||—||—||—||Polarize||Viper (Apr 23, 2012)|
|2013||"Fevers" (ft. Minnesota & Mimi Page)||—||—||—||Single only||OWSLA NEST IV (May 20, 2013)|
|"Serpent of Old" (ft. Ciscandra Nostalghia)||—||—||—||OWSLA (OWS070) (Nov 18, 2013)|
|"Strangers" (with Myon & Shane 54 ft. Tove Lo)||—||—||—||City of Bones Soundtrack/ Single only||Republic Records (21 Aug 2013) / Casablanca (11 Oct 2013 )|
|2014||"Strangers" (version 2)||—||—||—||World's Apart/ Promo single||Casablanca (Apr 15, 2014)|
|"Don't Leave" (ft. Ellie Goulding)||—||—||—||Worlds Apart||Casablanca (Apr 29, 2014)|
|"Worlds Apart" (ft. Kerli)||141||—||—||Casablanca (Apr 29, 2014) / Ultra (Jun 3, 2014)|
|"Worlds Apart (Remixes)" (ft. Kerli)||—||—||—||Two-track single||Ultra (Sep 23, 2014)|
|"Strangers (Remixes)" |
(with Myon & Shane 54 ft. Tove Lo)
|—||—||—||Republic(Sep 16, 2014)|
|"December" (with Davey Havok)||—||—||—||Single/The Throes of Winter||Casablanca Records (Mar 3, 2015)|
|"The End" (with HALIENE)||—||—||—||Casablanca Records (Mar 3, 2015)|
|"Lose Myself" (with Lynn Gunn)||—||—||—||Casablanca Records (Mar 3, 2015)|
|"A Way To Say Goodbye" (with Sombear)||—||—||— '||Casablanca Records (Mar 3, 2015)|
|"Falling Away" (with LIGHTS)||—||36||11||Single/Creation||Casablanca Records (Aug 14, 2015)|
|"Cusp"||—||—||—||Single||Who's Afraid of 138?! (Oct 2, 2015)|
|"Falling Away (Festival Mix)" (with LIGHTS)||—||—||—||Single/Creation||Casablanca Records (Oct 16, 2015)|
|"Rush Over Me" (with Illenium & Said The Sky ft. HALIENE)||—||35||—||Single||Seeking Blue (Oct 10, 2016)|
|"Cold Skin" (with Echos)||—||—||—||Single||Monstercat (Nov 9, 2016)|
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
(with Myon & Shane 54 ft. Tove Lo)
|The Mortal Instruments: |
City of Bones Soundtrack
|2010||"Cosmic Love"||Florence and the Machine||Moshi Moshi (Jul 5, 2010)|
|2011||"You Got to Go"||Above & Beyond (ft. Zoe Johnston)||Anjunabeats|
|2012||"All I Know"||Matrix & Futurebound (ft. Luke Bingham)||Viper (May 6, 2012)|
|"On My Way to Heaven"||Above & Beyond (ft. Richard Bedford)||Anjunabeats|
|"Still With Me"||Tritonal (ft. Cristina Soto)|
|"The Great Divide"||Velvetine||Anjunabeats|
|"Days Turn Into Nights"||Delerium (ft. Michael Logan)||Nettwerk (Dec 18, 2012)|
|"I Don't Deserve You"||Paul Van Dyk (ft. Plumb)|
|2013||"Running to the Sea"||Röyksopp (ft. Susanne Sundfør)|
|2016||"Beautiful"||Ferry Corsten||Flashover Recordings|
|"Fortress"||Illenium (ft. Joni Fatora)|
|2013||"Strangers"||The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Soundtrack||Various||Republic (Aug 2013)|
|2014||"Strangers"||Now That's What I Call Music! 51||Various||Sony (Aug 5, 2014)|
Remixes by others
|2013||'"Days to Come (Au5 & I.Y.F.F.E Remix)"||Single||OWSLA (Jan 22, 2013) (OWS023R)|
|2014||"Worlds Apart (Bitfunk Remix)"||Single||Ultra (2014)|