Producer Sessions 016: A glimpse into the mind of EPROM’s ‘AIKON’ EP [Interview]

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Producer Sessions 016: A glimpse into the mind of EPROM’s ‘AIKON’ EP [Interview]TH 8347 Edit

EPROM newest five-track project, AIKON, was released through Zeds Dead‘s Deadbeats imprint. The talented producer and contributor to the Grammy-nominated Hi, This Is Flume (Mixtape) took time to answer some questions with technical leanings about his extended play. The Portland-based sound curator established himself as an innovator amongst fellow artists and fans alike, through wicked syncopation and tedious sound design that curate an environment of shock and awe.

In a press release about the EP, EPROM explained, “Each tune represents a unique point in my trajectory. For me, this release represents a step onto a bigger stage. I have always been reluctant to fully embrace the ethos of dance music, so I have previously kept my work underground, and to a certain degree, intentionally inaccessible. This EP is my take on pure rave music.”

Why did you call the EP AIKON?

I don’t wanna give too much away. If you look closely at the logotype you can certainly figure out where it came from. There are multiple facets of meaning in this made up word that interest me, secondary signifiers tangential to the source. I pronounce the word “icon,” so if you take that at face value combined with the aesthetic dimensions of the project, it may open the word up to further investigation. The word came about way before the EP. If you dig into the visual minutiae of my previous projects you may notice it crops up here and there.

Can you explain the album art?

As with the title, the art is an oblique commentary on fractured identity in our age. I prefer to leave it up to personal interpretation beyond that. You will notice that each of the singles has similar but slightly different art. Each uses the same technique and so they are all intended to function together as a larger work.

Do you have a typical production process? If so, what is it?

I try very hard not to have a “typical” process, although I do use a studio template in Ableton Live. I try to reinvent my approach to making a tune for nearly every tune, and often, that necessitates exploring a new tool. New tools require new approaches. New approaches create new sounds. The moment of unfamiliarity, before one becomes virtuosic in any particular field, engenders creative approaches, learning, and play. That is the most valuable period of music making for my practice. When you don’t quite know how a particular tool works, you approach it creatively, and that is the essence of experimentation for me.

What was your main takeaway from collaborating with G Jones on “Daemon Veil?

Greg is a brilliant songwriter beyond being a producer, and he fleshed out the arrangement beautifully, handling a lot of the melodies on that song. I think our studio sessions are highly symbiotic and we trade a lot of techniques back and forth.

Your arrangements are unique, is there a special way you approach arranging the different parts of your songs?

I like to take agreed-upon forms like trap/house/bass with fairly rigid structures and attempt to approach them differently. I think in general my arrangements aren’t that out there, I usually stick to four bar structures and standard 4/4 time signatures, maybe with an occasional polymetric loop underneath or alternating between a standard dance tempo and half time.

What was a go-to synth for the EP and why?

I used a lot of samples on this EP. They’re faster to work with and I wanted to evoke a specific period of rave music, so those samples – e.g. old school rave stabs, 303s etc. – have a very concrete meaning to me. I also used eurorack modular synthesis to generate a lot of the kick drums and bass samples, and further processed material using Granulator II and other granular resynthesis algorithms.

What was a go-to MIDI controller and why?

I like the Arturia Keystep, it’s small and fit on my desk behind my computer keyboard and has a cool sequencer and it’s enough for me to bang out quick ideas. I’m not much of a keys player though so I do a lot of melodic sequencing on the piano roll in Ableton.

Any special VST that really took the production home?

Every track has some Valhalla Vintage Verb on it, as well as FabFilter Saturn and Monolake’s Granulator II Max4Live patch.

Do you have any pet peeves between you and your DAW? 

Sure, plenty. They are small problems though, mostly having to do with how Live handles regions containing un-warped audio clips, which I use all the time. Some other things I wish Live had would be better multi-track automation handling, and per note automation (polyphonic aftertouch). But there are always ways around every problem. I love working in Live for the most part.

Which song took the longest work and why?

“Daemon Veil.” You can imagine how long it took us to program all the drums and percussive elements in that song. There are many tracks, several different drum kits, and a lot of sound design elements. We spent a lot of time playing with the balance between discernible rhythms and chaos.

What was the most difficult sound to conquer on the project?

The vocals on “Hope” are probably the element that took the most finessing. Because of licensing issues we ended up having to re-record the vocals from an old house tune with a new vocalist. I am pretty inexperienced with using raw vocals, so I had to learn a few things about vocal processing. I took the new recordings and tried to match the sound of the original 1995 acapella as closely as possible, using tape emulation, delay, reverb, eq, distortion, noise layers, etc. I feel like I actually got really close in the end. It was difficult, but a fun exercise.

Do you have any unique studio habits?

I tend to spend a lot of time on pure sound design, that is, not with any specific song-related goal in mind. I’ll sit down if I’m not feeling like making a song and knock out ten or twenty different kick drums or snares.

What was your most memorable in-studio moment while producing the album?

Working on “Hope” last summer with the window open, looping part of it to get some bass groove right, and my girlfriend asked me if I was making a house tune because the loop was of a 4/4 section in a much longer and more choppy tune. I just thought that was funny.

What is next for EPROM?

Working on the next release, can’t say too much about it yet because it’s still a nebulous thing in my mind.

Photo credit: Tyler Hill

Diving Into The “Deep State” Of Grum [Interview]

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Anjuna family member, Grum, is ending the 2019 year ‘deep’ in the spotlight. The release of the highly anticipated album “Deep State” was released on November 8th. The “Deep State Rewired” tour is also hitting the halfway point as the year ends. As if the new album and tour weren’t enough to excite Grum and

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Dabin on his sonic bildungsroman, the making of ‘Wild Youth (The Remixes),’ and what’s next [Q&A]

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Dabin on his sonic bildungsroman, the making of ‘Wild Youth (The Remixes),’ and what’s next [Q&A]Illenium MSG 8

In the context of Dabin’s continuously developing career as an electronic multi-instrumentalist, 2019 was a watershed. The highlights: the arrival of the producer’s sophomore LP, Wild Youth, released via MrSuicideSheep’s Seeking Blue imprint, an ensuing remix album of the aforementioned, and inclusion on ILLENUM‘s Ascend tour, not to mention a series of lauded singles such as “One That Got Away.” On the horizon in 2020 looms the launch of Dabin’s largest headlining live initiative yet.

Needless to say, the momentous activity that defined Dabin’s presence in the dance scene over the past year is poised for replication and, unsurprisingly, amplification. Dancing Astronaut invites Dabin listeners to momentarily revel in the present moment alongside Dabin, to gain insight on the artist’s shifts in creative vision, sonic bildungsroman, and everything that happened in between this year.

With 17 new remixes, Wild Youth (The Remixes) is a full offering replete with different takes of Wild Youth originals. Tell me a little bit about how this remix album came together.

I always loved remixes and definitely wanted to get a remix album going for Wild Youth. Out of curiosity, I tweeted and asked if anyone would be interested [in remixing the album] and the response was amazing. The remix LP is filled with remixes from good friends and new producers I’ve found. [It] has everything to chill out [music] to break your neck type of stuff. I’m really happy with how it turned out and am super proud to give my friends and these up and coming producers another platform to showcase their talents. 

There’s a host of remixers on the album. How did you choose the artists that you did? 

I personally asked a few good friends like Trivecta, MitiS, and Sam Lamar to do a remix. I’ve been a big fan of their work and definitely wanted their takes on the album. Some have had remixes done for awhile like Fransis Derelle, Inukshuk, and Astrale. I actually tweeted [asking] my fans who they would want to hear on the album. I had a crazy amount of responses from both fans and artists so I basically tried to pick the artists who I thought would be a great fit while also catering to my fans [to give them the artists who they] wanted to hear as well. 

Was there one remix in particular that really blew you away; what was it/why?

It’s so difficult to pick one. All of them brought such a unique spin to Wild Youth. I genuinely can’t pick one as I love them all in their own right. 

Let’s backtrack a bit to Wild Youth, your sophomore album. It’s been out for a few months now and the reception has been warm. Were you at all surprised that the album got the response that it did from fans/can you comment on the reception?

I was completely blown away by the reception of Wild Youth. I never really think about how well my music is going to do after it’s released. I think the best thing is to enjoy the process and be genuine to yourself and that’s what I did during Wild Youth, so I’m happy it was well received.

Can you talk a little bit about the making of Wild Youth and what you were specifically hoping to achieve with the LP?

Wild Youth started coming together a little after my Two Hearts LP, which focused on themes of love and loss. I wanted to tell another story with Wild Youth with similar themes, although I wanted to shift the focus to the idea of growing up. It feels like we’re out in the wild, innocent, just making our way through the world. It’s fun, it’s exciting, but there are also pitfalls and obstacles that we overcome and learn from. I wanted to package all of that into a musical story that paralleled my shift or rebirth into the crossover style I’ve been [cultivating over] the past few years.

It seems that with the making of each album, artists learn something about themselves and/or try out new musical approaches. Was this the case for you in crafting Wild Youth?

With Wild Youth I wanted to bring in as many acoustic, ethnic, and live elements as I could. My music has definitely shifted more towards that “live” or band feeling, and bridging the acoustic and electronic worlds is something I really enjoy doing. Wild Youth allowed me to hone in on exactly the kind of music I want to be making.

The album really seemed to further propel you into the public spotlight. You’ve had a pretty meteoric rise in the electronic scene. How does that feel?

It feels unbelievable. I’m grateful to my fans and my team for sticking by me and really involving themselves in what I have going on. Everyone feels like family to me. I’d say the best feeling in all of this craziness is when people send me messages about how my music has helped them in some way or through a hard time. I’m all for having fun at shows or enjoying my music at a party, but seeing my music increasingly help people overcome obstacles–that’s what really keeps me going.

With Said The Sky and Olivver The Kid on the list of “Hero” collaborators, three proves a party on this record. How did “Hero” come about, from the initial idea for the track to its creation?

I actually made the main guitar riff for “Hero” while I was on tour with Illenium in Australia. I showed it to him and he said he loved the riff and that it should be a song. I basically made this entire idea around that riff and sent it to Trevor (Said the Sky). He was in LA finishing his next album at the time and told me Olivver the Kid [had] made a great vocal part to it. He showed me via FaceTime and I absolutely loved what I heard. We basically finished the song in a few days after that. 

You’d previously worked alongside Said The Sky on “Superstar,” which was warmly received, to say the least. Evidently, there’s a natural creative synergy between your style and Said The Sky’s. What is it, specifically, that you feel makes your styles work well together?

We come from a similar place musically. We grew up playing instruments, listening to the same bands, then got into making electronic music, and those worlds [collided for the both of us]. I think that we could sit down and make any style of music; the chemistry we have will always work its way into that. With our collabs, we’ve decided to stick to a certain style within our wheelhouse and it’s been great. But I think at the end of the day, it’s our strong bonds that really give our collaborations that synergy. He’s like a brother to me. 

What’s next for Dabin as 2019 winds down?

I’ll be playing shows with Illenium and Said the Sky, which will be our last shows as a band. We’ve all grown and got our own things going on and I hope we’ll get some reunion action down the road, but for now I’ll get to push myself in 2020 on my own and see where I want to go musically and as a live performer. End of this year may be a little quiet music wise, but expect a whole lot in 2020!

Photo credit: Nainoa Langer

Turning it up a notch with RAM Records founder Andy C [Interview]

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Turning it up a notch with RAM Records founder Andy C [Interview]Andy C Press Shot

Decades ago, the electronic music scene was nigh unrecognizable from its worldwide integration and popularity today. Andrew John Clarke was younger then, attending illegal raves with his friends in the English countryside. One such party came to mind when someone sent him a photo from many years over social media, reminding him of years past.

“It was one of those parties where somebody put out a phone number to call, and you met up at a service station on the road. Then this big convoy of cars made its way through the countryside to this back garden [in Kent] and we had a rave,” he recalls. “That’s how we used to do it. But now look at the kind of stages we do at EDC Las Vegas.”

It would be years before Andrew John Clarke would become known to most as Andy C, and he never would’ve guessed he would be where he is today. But his love of music and what would become drum ‘n’ bass led him down an unexpected pathway.

He helped create what many view as one of the most influential drum ‘n’ bass tracks of the 1990s—”Valley of the Shadows” under his Origin Unknown moniker with Ant Miles—and began to make a name for himself through his energetic DJ sets. Around the same time in 1992, he created RAM Records with Ant Miles, not knowing the influence the label would have over the next 27 years.

“Things are doing awesome [at RAM],” Clarke says enthusiastically. “We have an absolute steady stream of releases coming out every week. It’s relentless, but that’s how we like it. We make up one part of this beautiful scene of ours, and we’ve been there for everything. It’s a beautiful thing to still be at the forefront, you know?”

RAM had incredibly humble beginnings, starting out with Clarke picking up records in the trunk of his dad’s car and stamping the labels in his bedroom.

“Now, we’re streaming millions of streams all over these new mediums and touring the world,” he says. “It’s unfathomable, really.”

Though things have changed drastically since 1992 for RAM Records, Clarke maintains an optimistic viewpoint.

“I always think change is for the good,” he says. “I like to look forward. I appreciate the past because it invokes so many beautiful memories for me, but I love to look to the future. That’s what keeps the excitement there for me.”

Clarke is as excited about today’s drum ‘n’ bass scene as he was years ago. He says he’s “seeing a resurgence” in the United Kingdom, where the scene has “gone up to another level” in recent years. He’s also enjoying seeing the genre’s boom in the United States, where it’s been steadily getting more recognition and gaining traction.

“We seem to be seeing a lot of social media talk from people [in the States] who play drum ‘n’ bass tunes in their sets or are wanting to make dnb,” he says. “It seems to me we’re turning it up a notch.”

But Clarke would love to see even more drum ‘n’ bass coming out of the States. In fact, he encourages it.

“I know the United States is full of sick producers and people who want to smash the sound,” he invites. “Bring it to us.”

To those pursuing production, he offers advice that rings true for many aspects of life:

“If you want longevity, you’ve got to be true to yourself. If you’re pushing a sound and you’re passionate about it and love it, then you should stick at it and somewhere, hopefully, the crowd will get on your wave.”

When it comes to the style of music, Clarke notes he’s noticed today’s drum ‘n’ bass returning to “rawer sounds,” which delights the producer since that’s background he comes from.

“It’s been great to see the younger generations sort of battling it out week in and out to see who can make the sickest drop,” he says. “That’s what I’m feeling right now.”

But trends in music are unpredictable, and many producers scramble to figure out how to ride the current wave while staying true to their own sounds. For Andy C, though, the capricious nature of electronic music is a huge part of what makes it fun.

“I have no clue what drum ‘n’ bass will sound like in five years or even six months, and that’s part of the excitement” he says. “It just takes someone to come along and do a genre-defying song or create the next big bassline or take on a beat, and then it goes off on a tangent. That’s the beauty of it. Time goes pretty fast, but I know [drum ‘n’ bass is] going to be in an even healthier position than it is now.”

Clarke’s passion for drum ‘n’ bass and the scene surrounding it is driven by “the energy, the people, and the sense of community.” He calls the genre unique and says that “when you feel it, you really get it, and it becomes a strong passion within you.”

Those who have embraced this strong passion span generations—something that’s truly special to Clarke when he performs.

“At the events I do, there can be people spanning a 25-year age gap, and everybody will be raving together. It’s all ages, but that passion is always there. There’s a real beauty to a passion that never leaves for a style of music.”

When asked if he thinks the scene has changed for the better over the past few decades, Clarke’s answer is instantaneous.

“Of course! As much as I like raging in the back garden with 12 people, I definitely love being able to play all over the world to thousands of people. I’m such a lucky guy. It’s humbling and beautiful.”

Catch Andy C at one of this remaining 2019 shows. Learn more and get tickets here.

Turning it up a notch with RAM Records founder Andy C [Interview]Andy C Tour Dates Fall 2019

The Negotiator

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David BazanDavid Bazan is crying while driving. Many scenes in the new documentary Strange Negotiations find the once and future Pedro The Lion frontman alone, steering his sedan down endless highways between emotionally taxing house shows. In this one, he reaches his breaking point, despairing over the loneliness of his chosen path and the conflict between … More »

Celebrate 10 years of UKF with founder Luke Hood [Interview]

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Celebrate 10 years of UKF with founder Luke Hood [Interview]Luke Hood UKF Founder

In April 2009, a 16-year-old from Frome, England wanted to share his love of bass music with the world. Luke Hood started a YouTube channel called UKF (which stands for United Kingdom and his hometown of Frome) and saw his subscriber base steadily begin to grow. The brand launched that year with the creation of its original channels: UKF Drum & Bass and UKF Dubstep, which now have 2.2 million and 6.3 million subscribers, respectively.

It’s been 10 years since the launch of these lauded channels, and Hood’s passion project has turned into something bigger than he ever could’ve imagined. Videos across the UKF channels have garnered more than 3 billion views, and the brand has hosted UKF events in 20 countries and 38 cities around the world.

Hood and his team have been celebrating these momentous milestones all year long by dropping singles from the label’s UKF10 – Ten Years Of UKF album—a massive 37-track compilation that makes its full debut on Friday, Nov. 29. So far this year, the world has been treated to fresh tunes from bass music greats like Camo & Krooked, Hybrid Minds, Matroda, and more. Finally, to cap off the year, UKF is throwing a huge party in London on Dec. 14, featuring a lineup that most bass music lovers could only dream of.

To hear more about the journey from humble YouTube beginnings to legendary compilation albums and worldwide events, we chatted with founder Luke Hood.

What does this 10-year anniversary milestone mean to you as UKF’s founder?

For me, it’s my entire adult life’s work! So it’s a really special moment to reflect for me. We’re all guilty always looking into the horizon, setting goals and comparing yourself to others along the way, without ever really taking a moment to pause and reflect, so it’s been really special in that respect. We’ve achieved a lot over 10 years with so many artists, managers and labels, and it’s been one of my favourite years ever running UKF.

What have been some of the most exciting moments in UKF’s timeline?

2011 was a really crazy year for us. We released UKF Dubstep 2010 in December 2010 which in January topped the iTunes Dance charts and remained in the top 50 for years, followed by venturing into live events where we put on our first 500 capacity show in January, through to a sell-out 12,000 capacity show at Alexandra Palace with UKF Bass Culture, which tied into our first TV advertised album. It was a lot to take in at the time, but I look back on it with some pretty fond memories.

In more recent years, festival takeovers and launching into an editorial platform to help up and coming artists in the bass scene get support where they otherwise wouldn’t. I’ve always wanted to champion new music and supporting artists with some of their first interviews written on UKF has been a highlight.

And finally, taking UKF back to my hometown of Frome in Somerset was a real moment for me. I had the pleasure of bringing some well-known UKF artists back to my hometown where while I was growing up it was impossible to go out and see artists in the bass world perform. When I was 16/17 I always wanted to go to shows but they were all too far away, I hope that some people who had never been to a dance music event before were able to attend and hopefully be inspired enough to go on that journey and build the next UKF.

What have been some of the biggest challenges UKF has had to overcome?

When you’re a global youth music brand focusing on multiple niches/genres of music, it becomes really difficult to stay on top of the various scenes we cover while knowing which platforms to focus on as they appear. We obviously started out as a YouTube channel, but our ethos has always been to try and spread the music we love everywhere, so had invested from the early days to make sure we had a presence on Spotify and Apple Music, where a lot of our audience now live. That extends to social media too, where when you cover such a broad spectrum it’s hard to know should we be on Facebook? Instagram? Snapchat? Tiktok? How much time and energy should we focus on each? I think we’ve done a good job of striking the balance over the years, but it’s something we have to constantly review.

What do you think makes UKF special and contributes to its longevity the most?

I’d like to think there’s a degree of authenticity that our fans subscribe to. Unlike most streaming services today we really do our best to keep our ear to the ground to find the latest tracks that are being made and getting reloaded in clubs, compared to the data-driven/algorithm-led world we live in today. I’m still heavily involved in the curation and I hope that consistently over the channels it’s noticeable.

The second and most important thing I think, particularly that has kept the longevity is the community. There have been people commenting on our videos for years, and it’s that interactivity and engagement you don’t get from other platforms. We are nothing without our fans and the comments/likes/dislikes that come with them. Without that, we’d just be a streaming service.  

What has feedback been like on the UKF10 singles hitting the airwaves this year?

Positive! We were overwhelmed by the feedback initially when we put out the first single with Camo & Krooked. As soon as “Atlas” was announced we had so many artists and managers get in touch to express an interest in getting involved with the campaign. We’ve always been there promoting artists to our community at the core of what we do, and naturally helping artists release their music felt like a natural step after 10 years. I’m really proud of the album that’s come together as part of this and I’m excited to see the response to it when it finally drops! It’s an amazing collection of artists old and new that we’ve worked with and supported over the decade.

The 37-track UKF10 arrives Nov. 29. Listen to the compilation’s previously released singles here.

Who are some up-and-coming artists we should be keeping an eye on?

There’s a few, and I always find this a challenge to pick a small amount because there are so many! But if I had to pick 2 it would have to be 1991 and Notion. 1991 is coming out with some brilliant music, which doesn’t stick to a particular path like a lot of other Drum & Bass artists that will find their sound and stick to it for a while. Each release has a very different vibe to it and I like that! “Midnight” is probably my favourite track of his, as well as his UKF10 track “Full Send” and his upcoming track on RL Grime’s label, “The People.”

Notion I’m a big fan of because he is great with melodies and has taken that bass house sound and made it his own which a lot of producers have struggled with. Check out “Hooked.”

What are you looking forward to about the London event in December?

It’s been a long time since London has had a diverse showcase of artists big and small for a club event. There’s a lot of purely drum ‘n’ bass nights, dubstep nights, bass nights, but nobody is combining all three. I think it’s really special that we’re able to promote the full spectrum, and I hope that we’re able to introduce some people to some artists they wouldn’t usually go and see, with some favourites old and new. We’ve got Dimension headlining, who first had an upload nine years ago! 

Get tickets to the Dec. 14 event and learn more here.

What does the future look like for UKF?

I want UKF to remain a consistent voice people can trust to help them discover new artists as well as see some existing favourites across all the different streaming services. The current streaming landscape on Spotify / Apple Music / YouTube means that algorithms are always giving you more of what you already know you like, which is great, but who is making sure the people grafting away in their bedroom with no audience are able to be heard? I hope that we’re able to continue to talk about artists in 5 years time that we discovered and picked up on in 2019 that are going on to achieve big things. There are plenty of exciting projects in the pipeline as well for our live events, but that’s all I can mention for now!

What do you want UKF’s legacy to be?

I hope we’ve helped billions of music fans discover new music they wouldn’t have otherwise heard, while continuing to engage a core community of around the various genres we cover. In addition to that I hope we’ve helped tens of thousands further their career in music, whether UKF inspired them to try and make their first record, carried out their first interview, played them for the first time, or helped accelerate their development by putting them in the spotlight on our YouTube channels.

‘The fans are finally pushing us more, and I love this’—Sean Tyas on the trance community, his creative ethos, and more [interview]

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‘The fans are finally pushing us more, and I love this’—Sean Tyas on the trance community, his creative ethos, and more [interview]Sean Tyas Press Shot

The path to success for Sean Tyas was a quick one. A longtime connoisseur of trance and somewhat of a hero in his hometown East Coast scene, the producer entered the global circuit in a strong way back in 2006 when his debut single “Lift” became an instant hit that topped the Beatport charts. He’s since remained a driving force in modern underground trance, planting his feet firmly in the tech and uplifting realms and boosting his profile with a consistent slew of international touring and performing alongside the likes of John O’Callaghan, Bryan Kearney, Paul Van Dyk, Armin van Buuren, and many more. He’s the type of artist to take well-calculated, careful decisions in his career, allowing him to stay true to the sounds that inspire him while growing on his own terms—and in doing so, he’s set himself up for continued prosperity.

Tyas has has quite a busy 2019, undertaking one of his busiest touring years while providing fans with a variety of singles across Subculture, VII, and of course, his burgeoning Degenerate imprint. A particularly noteworthy release came in the form of his remix to the Rapid Eye classic, “Circa Forever.” His re-work preserved the timelesssness of the original whilst updating the instrumentation and ultimately twisting it into a modern masterpiece of his own. After months of stirring a frenzy among the trance community rinsing the then-unreleased gem, it finally became available to all in August. Now, Tyas prepares to make his trek back stateside to California’s Dreamstate—a Insomniac’s festival dedicated to the genre which has become America’s premier event for the sound. He’ll be joining fellow icon Menno De Jong for a stimulating back-to-back on Saturday, November 23, where fans can expect a high-octane mixture of classic and contemporary tunes. Grab tickets for Dreamstate here.

We sat down with Tyas prior to his westward voyage to talk about his journey until now, remixing legends, his process, and what else is in store for the next year.

Let’s dive into your artistic journey. Tell us about your decision to produce trance, and the process of finding your own sound. Did you find it easy to create something distinctively ‘Sean Tyas’ from the get-go, or was your path more complicated?

That is one hell of a broad question but I’ll do my best to not write a novel. I started off into the whole scene as an enthusiastic raver in NY back in the late 90s, going to parties and clubs and really loving every single moment of what happens to me when I set foot on that dancefloor each weekend. Nothing really up to that point in my life was really quite like it. Eventually, I really started to get more specific in my musical tastes and to fast forward a bit, I ended up falling deeply in love with trance. I still liked a few other styles but trance just “did it” for me. The power and that 136-142 BPM energy was just resonating with me and how I danced. I was in art university at the time, so I had a bit of time to start to make a bit of music as a hobby, where I could finally start to learn how it was made and what was required to do it. Unfortunately, it was a VERY expensive thing for an 18-19 year old to get into back then. Computers were not on the level they are at now, where everything could be run as software inside the machine. I’d have to buy synth-after-synth , drum machine-after-drum machine, etc, just to get specific sounds. Just trial and error (a lot of errors) led to development.

What drew you to trance in the first place, and why do you think people are attracted to the genre as a whole?

I think its a genre that very heavily, in its nature, promotes togetherness on that dancefloor. The crowd at trance events know their music, know the tracks, and most likely know LOADS of other people they are on that dancefloor with. It’s a beautiful community. Maybe that’s why we do get newcomers to the genre too, and the music can be outright gorgeous at times, but that was be so fucking ignorant to say “yea, trance is emotional so people come flock to it.” I hate that phrase because its bullshit; all music is emotional to someone. Death metal is emotional and evocative to the right person. But for me and countless others, well, trance just hits the nerve and scratches that itch we need scratched. It’s never something that is easy to explain, why people like a type of music, but there it is—people love what they love.

How does living in Switzerland help or hinder your creativity? Would you ever consider moving back stateside, since the genre is beginning to have a renaissance there? Why or why not?

It’s a pretty inspirational place to live I have to say. Walking and running outside in these landscapes of mountains and rolling hills is inspirational in itself, so as an artist I find it to be really conducive to the work I do. As far as moving stateside, my roots are pretty deep here at this stage, now over 14 years living here, I’ve gotten dual citizenship, and my kids are already growing up so fast in the school system, I think here is where I stay. But having said that, I am REALLY lucky to work a career that allows me to get back to USA very often to constantly satisfy my homesick feelings when they pop up. Most of my family is in New York, so with JFK being the hub of almost every trip to the states for me, extra quick visits to friends and family are effortless—and I love that.

What have been your key ingredients in sustaining a longterm career, especially in a field of music with such peaks and valleys in popularity?

Peaks and valleys indeed. But it is one thick-skinned genre that is for certain. The main ingredient to sustain any long term career… it’s really simple and obvious. Improvement, consistency, humility (by this I mean to always be working for something, because the moment you have that sense of “entitlement”, you are already the asshole), and health (this is one I have only really started to believe in during the recent years going to the gym much more often and really concentrating on eating better foods). Anyone else can just simply throw a monster marketing budget at their career and get all their tracks ghosted, but is that sustainable? Is it respectable? Not to me.

What are some creative or career-related roadblocks/obstacles you’ve had as of late, and how have you worked through them? Has your outlook on music and your career changed as a result?

The only obstacle anyone should be concerned about is self-doubt. The minute you let that all in, you are already in trouble. I need to ALWAYS believe in myself, my skill level, and believe in what I’m doing. I have had disappointments all throughout my career, of course, but these just get me working harder, specifically in the studio… pushing my sound, trying to experiment with techniques I’ve never heard in a trance track as well as sharpen ones I’ve used before to make them new and cutting-edge.

How does a day in the studio look for Sean Tyas? On account of your innate perfectionism, would you say it’s easier for you to bang out rough ideas quickly, and afterward you spend the vast majority of your time tinkering with them to ensure they meet your standards?

Every day is different depending on what projects are going on. For example Tuesdays are usually radio show day, so I’ll spend all day going through all the promos of the prior week, sifting through and putting together the mix for the show, then doing all the voiceovers etc. On a production day, I guess the first thing i usually do in the studio each day (or every couple of days) is to reverse engineer a couple of sounds I hear in tracks that intrigue me that I hear in others’ productions. It can be anything from a drum with a unique aspect to it, to a brutal bassline that I want to know the approach of how it ticks. From there I can apply these techniques in new ways to to other things and it brings about a cross-pollination in the studio that really leads to new creativity for the full day.

You’ve had a couple notable remixes this year; for one, your long-awaited take on Rapid Eye’s “Circa Forever” finally came out, and you also took on John O’Callaghan’s “Choice Of The Angels.”
How did these come about? Tell us the backstory and what inspired you to re-work these ones.

The Circa Forever remix was nice for me because to me, like so may others, that original really symbolizes this sort of “Golden Age” of trance, and of course a couple years ago when I threw together my first “re-work” of it. By re-work—as opposed to calling it a remix—I mean the original track is layered into a project and I go and cut out the bass end of it completely to be replaced, while adding multiple elements onto the track and also tweaking how the arrangement flows with edits. This [re-work] was sort of my go-to classic for that time. After a while, I think Armada mentioned to me that they could release it, but I said, “you know what, I’m not too comfortable at how it sounds right now.” To me it was just a rework, and generally, I don’t LOVE the idea of releasing those. “Let me turn it into a full-fledged remix, not utilizing the original track as the backbone anymore,” I told them. And so yeah, that came out, and I am happy it did, because it is now much more in line with my own sound. And as for the “Choice of the Angels” remix, John has been a friend of mine since the “Discover” days, and he came to me with that single and asked if I’d like to remix it for Subculture. “Hell yeah, why not?” I thought. It was very open to melodic reinterpretation in its original form, and this makes it so much fun to remix.

Do you ever feel pressure to adhere to a certain aesthetic in your music in order to please your fanbase? How do you balance making something fulfilling to you without alienating longtime listeners? Have you ever felt afraid to experiment with your sound further on account of this pressure?

I feel the fanbase is overcoming the monotony that we have seen in the genre over the years—fans are finally pushing us more, and I love this. The sound is finally evolving and I’ve been an obnoxious proponet to this change in the genre for years. Its finally seeing a bit of fruition now and some of these new tunes people are releasing now are really becoming on the level that we need to be. Attention to detail, attention to sound, and a bit less lazy in the generic melody department. As far as fear to experiement, never. I mean look at my album Degeneration; this was my first artist album and I wanted to really see what I could make. To say that this was a “journey” for me would be putting it lightly, but I got there in the end. John Askew was so supportive the whole way through, with my ideas of things like including two Drum ‘n’ Bass tunes on the album as well as bits of breaks, techno, and chillout. Experimentation leads to growth and learning.

You’re about to play Dreamstateyou’ve played a few now, correct? What do you think festivals and events like this say at large about the USA trance community?

It’s fantastic to see the popularity of the style has birthed this beautiful brand of festival, and it’s so encouraging to think about what the future holds for the USA trance community. These behemoth events bring new faces into the scene for their very first time, and I can only hope they truly love what they hear and see and decide they love it as much as I do.

What are you favorite parts about Dreamstate?

Well, Insomniac is just a fantastic company that really look after us as artists, from the stocked up artist dressing rooms, to the production level on that stage we play from. The light shows that accompany the sounds we bring really exponentially enhance the experience to all the people on the dancefloor and it is just an experience from beginning to end. I’ve always been a sucker for a good laser show

Finally, what’s in the pipeline for Sean Tyas?

I have a new single coming out in December on Deep in Thought, featuring a truly amazing seasoning of vocals from Nashville-based Shelby Merry, whose quality of vocals you truly have never heard before in a trance tune. I also have new remixes coming. The first is my new remix of Liquid Dream by Liquid Soul & DJ Dream I have done for Iboga. This is actually a complete redo/overhaul on a remix I did 2.5 years back as my Neodyne guise, but always felt I wanted it to sound different. Well now it will come in its full form. The second remix coming is one I’ve just done of Bryan Kearney and Dierdre McLaughlin “Open My Mind” for Kearnage which I’ve just started testing out now. You will hear all three of these new productions at Dreamstate for sure. After these, I have a long list of stuff to get to, but I think 2020 I would really like to focus and start putting toegther a second album that is 100% club-focused…

Photo credit: Sean Tyas’ Artist Team

Yellow Claw Talks About New Album, New Music, EDC Orlando, Barong Family, and More in this EDM Sauce Interview

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The Dutch DJ duo, Yellow Claw, has been one of the biggest dance music figures in the world for quite some time. The two recently released their new track “Amsterdammed” and are expecting to release their new album, Never Dies, on December 6. Before their EDC Orlando set, EDM Sauce had the chance to interview

The post Yellow Claw Talks About New Album, New Music, EDC Orlando, Barong Family, and More in this EDM Sauce Interview appeared first on EDM Sauce.

Jenny Hval’s Labor Of Love

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Jenny-Hval-Practice-Of-LoveOver the course of this decade, Jenny Hval has built up a catalog of boundary-pushing, thought-provoking electronic music that’s rightfully earned her consistent acclaim and fascination. Two months ago, she released her latest collection, The Practice Of Love, the culmination of that decade’s worth of work. The immediate impact on first listen was hearing the … More »

Meet Oliver Malcolm—the newest super producer taking 2020 by storm [Q+A]

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Meet Oliver Malcolm—the newest super producer taking 2020 by storm [Q+A]Ollie BLUE FINAL 1

You may not have heard of Oliver Malcolm yet, but that’s all about to change. And while the 20-year-old producer may not yet be a household name, you’ve certainly heard his music already. That’s because Malcolm already has a slew of high-profile production credits to his name, including work with Joey Bada$$, Jay Rock, MF Doom, AlunaGeorge, and Cee Lo Green. Now, the young producer is planting his own flag, signing with Interscope/Darkroom—the same team that broke Billie Eilish to the world. Ahead of Oliver Malcolm’s impending breakout in 2020, we sat down with the emerging beat maker to learn a little more about him and what makes one of music’s next torch carriers tick.

Currently, which musicians inspire you the most and why?

“It really depends on what I’m listening to each day. One day I’ll be listening to the Clash and be super inspired by them, the next I’ll be inspired by Jimi Hendrix and the next by Kendrick Lamar.”

Is there a single moment or event that made you decide this was the career for you?

“Yeah, I mean when I was twelve or so I picked up some DJ decks to teach myself how to spin and that was sort of my introduction to really finding my love for music. But becoming a producer and eventually wanting to be an artist, I remember downloading a cracked version of Logic and once I was in that it was game over.”

In the first few years of your newly emerging career as an artist, what would you say your primary goals are?  

“I want people to just feel something with my music, that’s all I want at the end of the day. I’m really excited to start playing shows and want to do this full band set up. I have so many ideas, it’s going to be crazy. Other than that man, I just want to see what happens once I put my own music out there.”

What made this the right time to launch your own project after working with such recognizable stars?

“It just felt right, man. I mean I love producing and will always be down to collaborate and produce for others, but I hit the point over the last year or so I’d say where I was like, ‘Why don’t I just put out my own shit? I have something to say and can do it 100% myself.’ So it just felt like the right evolution.”

If you weren’t producing music, what else would you be pursuing? What interests you outside of music?

“Honestly man, music is it! When I was in school, I would just think about music and wasn’t interested in much else. All I would want to do is get out of class and be cooking in the studio. If I had to pick something though, it might be something in fashion or photography. Something to do with art, because at the end of the day that’s what I’m here for man, the art.”

Is there a genre or a musical niche you feel is under-represented in pop culture? Do you intend to change that?

“I don’t know if there’s a musical niche or a genre is under-represented but I do feel like culture can change at any moment and I want to be at the forefront. I just think there’s an intersection between what is out there pushing boundaries as well as music that is more digestible and popular and I want to be at that point where they collide.”

Look at your Spotify/Apple Music—what is currently in your personal rotation?

“Oh man, definitely anything Eminem. He has always been such a massive influence on me. ‘Jimmy Jazz’ by the Clash. ‘Ghost Town’ by the Specials is essential. In terms of songs right now, few that come to mind are the new FKA twigs “sad day”, Dijon’s ‘CRY BABY,’ the new Frank songs, tons more.