For the past nine years, Washington, D.C. transplant Garrett Lockhart has been acing a maze of acid techno production with some major career traction along the way. Under his binary-derived onstage handle  i_o (Pronounced “eye-oh”), Lockhart is breathing new life into the old school with a fresh take on house and techno.

When he relocated to Los Angeles, he did so only knowing “it was the epicenter of dance music,” and without much in the way of a plan for his social life — only knowing his music was destined to be forged in the fires of music production school at Icon Collective. Fortunately, his instincts were right on target. 

By 2017 he was in league with dance music juggernauts like SLANDER, Nghtmre and Ghastly. Then he caught the eye of Deadmau5 with a simple tweet and a remix of the track “Imaginary Friend” to later join the Mau5trap label. As his meteoric rise continued, Lockhart landed performance gigs at colossal events like Electric Daisy Carnival, Escape, Beyond Wonderland, Ultra, Creamfields and Paradiso. Tracks like the brooding “Let Me Go” and his heart-hooking collaboration with Grimes “Violence” amassed more than 15 million plays on Spotify to further distinguish his prowess as a wizard in the studio. 

As a true-blooded music producer with odd hours and a constant grind, i_o knew it wouldn’t be easy to make new friends but he quickly found his tribe in the local music scene. “It’s tough to find people you resonate with. That’s probably the hardest part of living here,” Lockhart told us. “Later, having a space to work and someone to do it all with were the two biggest reasons I stayed in L.A. after moving here.” 

On Friday, he drops NRG444 — the much anticipated second installment of his three-part album 444. The first part ACID 444 held a mirror up to the warehouse scene with enough acid to satiate even the most discerning techno purist. The third part, Annihilation 444, is slated for release later this year. 

“I had this EP that I really liked that wouldn’t fit on another album I wanted to make. It’s two records worth of acid techno,” Lockhart said of the project. “We had some meetings talking about how to represent a body of work, but still have it be a story. The way 444 has developed, it’s less of a thought and more of a narrative, so this gives people more life and more time to understand what it’s really about.” 

For 2020, i_o fans will have a lot to look forward to as well. In fact, Lockhart says following the third installment of his 444 album, he’ll have an EP out with LIGHTS. Following the completion of his tour in North America over the next couple months he’ll likely be en route to Asia and Europe too. Plus, he’s unveiling a clothing line with an assortment of pants, windbreakers, and shirts in black and neon green all donning his trademark smiley face to take his stylish i_o identity the next level.