Brennan Walden aka Azure Sky shares his honest thoughts about his debut album, ‘End Of A Decade’. A few weeks ago, this 12-track material became available to stream and was promoted all over the blogosphere. So far, it’s getting good feedback from Rock music fans, discover more below.
1 – What do you think motivates you day in and day out?
I find that keeping an organized and aesthetically pleasing environment goes a long way to keep me motivated to create something new. Listening to your favorite artists is great, but digging for new artists and new sounds is where I find the newest inspiration.
Many musicians do what they do with no assurance that anyone will even hear what they’ve created, and if they do hear it, they may not even like it. So what makes me keep doing it? The answer for me is simple. I love creating music. It’s probably the same answer most musicians would give.
I love the feeling of everything else in the world fading into the background and just being in the moment, riding whatever wave the music takes me on.
The combination of the joy of making the music and the awe of seeing it create joy in others is what keeps me writing. Music is such an intangible business because it’s worth is intrinsic by nature. But there aren’t many things in this world that can have such profound emotional, spiritual, and even cultural impacts as music. So in light of that, I think its value is priceless.
I want my music to be my legacy. It will be something that my children and their children can have for as long as little Walden’s walk the Earth.
2 – Why is your debut album entitled ‘The End Of A Decade’?
Funny story… Ten years ago I made a choice to stop spinning my wheels pursuing other career goals. I have a college degree in Fine Arts that I don’t even use. I realized that in order to feel fulfillment and be happy, you have to go after your dream whatever the cost. I was always influenced by other people’s perceptions of me. It took me a long time to simply say, “This is who I am and this is what I choose to do with my life.” For some people that may not be such a circuitous path. My wife, Melanie, is a person that exudes self-confidence and I admire how she never changes who she is from one situation to the next, no matter who she is interacting with. So I guess she rubbed off on me.
This album is the final product of that choice and the support of my family to reach it. I didn’t have a road map to follow so it took a little bit of time. I played local gigs and even formed a band that ultimately fell apart. The saying, “If you want a job done right, you have to do it yourself,” holds true for me. So I invested in the equipment I would need and learned what I could from YouTube and other internet resources.
For a brief glimpse of what my life looked like trying to write, record and produce this album: By day I’m a father of three beautiful kids and by night I’m a pizza delivery driver. I usually get off work between midnight and one a.m. Afterward, I would try to fit in a few hours in the studio. I had to tell myself that it was a marathon, not a sprint. There never seemed to be enough time in the studio even though I knew it wasn’t just myself making sacrifices. It meant only having the evenings on weekends to tuck my kids into bed. It meant my wife and I had a “high” and “bye” relationship throughout the week. Exhaustion creeps up on you after living like that for a while. I didn’t spend ten years strictly working on the record, but the end product was the culmination of a ten-year marathon.
3 – Which other titles were you considering for this album?
There were several actually. I had tossed around the idea of ‘Pages’ and ‘Subconscious’. I originally released an EP called ‘Subconscious’ in 2018 with only three songs — Societal Shedding, My Cup of Tea, and Shy. They have now been re-released with the other nine songs on the full LP.
The only other title that received serious consideration though was ‘Chrysalis’. It was kind of the perfect metaphor for the process of creating this album. Just like a caterpillar emerges from its chrysalis into what it was always destined to be.
However, I felt that this title was a bit too “on the nose.” My good friend Ryan Olterman had already created the stellar album cover with butterflies. The imagery said it well enough. So I decided that my original title (The End of a Decade) was the perfect way to summarize what this album was to me; the end of a decade long chapter and the beginning of a new one.
Oh man. I could write an essay on some of the songs on this album. I can summarize a few of the songs for you.
“I’ll Be Around”, is saying that we spend too much time speculating and arguing about what happens when we die, yet we rarely stop to appreciate the simple beauties and joys all around us. One of my favorite lines in this song is about my son Tristan as he experiences Autumn for the first time.
“Dichotomy” speaks about leaving behind youth and the struggle to find peace amidst chaos.
— “Standing in the epicenter of gravity with no control…I may be living but also, I’m already dying. Amidst all the noise in the rafters, I’m finding some silence.”
“Ishmael” tackles subjects that range from my own theories about the socio-economic paradigms in the world and the indoctrinated ideologies that pervade our culture, to theories about ancient civilizations and extraterrestrial encounters. The title of the song is in homage to the subjects and ideas in the book ‘Ishmael’ written by Daniel Quinn. It addresses the existential crisis of our time amidst the distraction of political and religious rhetoric.
“Goodmorning Goodbye” is the last song I wrote for the album but was a perfect way to introduce it. It is about moving from our first home where we started our family together. Serendipitously, my wife and I lived there for a decade and moved right around the time I released the record. In the opening lyrics, I’m speaking to our dog Titus who is buried beneath his favorite apple tree. Part of me wanted to wait until Spring before moving so I could see it bloom one last time.
“The Optimist” is about maintaining the ability to see the good in others and afford them the benefit of the doubt. It’s easy to become negative about humanity and your place in everything with all that’s been going on in the world.
— “Oh, Trojan horse come knock on my door because you know that I’ll fall for it over and over. I’m not gullible, I’m just an optimist who’s willing to trust.”
“Societal Shedding” has dual meanings, as do many of my songs. It is a sort of love letter and apology to the natural world that humans are devastating. When I look back on who I was in my younger years, I wasn’t who I am today. Change and changing one’s personal beliefs is natural and should not be frowned upon. Embrace yourself as you change.
This album addresses the transient nature of life. The message of the album as a whole is that life is short, so focus on the beautiful things it has to offer; family and your loved ones chief among them.
5 – Can you tell us more about the first steps in your music-making process?
I begin most of my songs by playing chords or fingerpicking on my acoustic guitar. There is sort of an implied melody that comes from the chord progressions that spawns my vocal melodies. Whatever emotion they evoke then draws out the words. I often can’t even explain how the hit they page. It feels like they come from somewhere else entirely.
In the past I would have written the music and lyrics simultaneously, using nothing but my acoustic guitar. For this album, I approached it much like an artist begins painting a canvas, a splash of color here, a shadow there. Each song was built in layers. I tried not to set limitations and rules for what and when things should be added or created. When the inspiration for a part occurred I just went with it.
It was a pretty painstaking process. Sometimes I would fully produce the first verse of a song and build on top of that once the inspiration for the chorus presented itself. Sometimes I had a chorus and no verses, etc. Each song went through several revisions. They became these huge multilayered productions. It’s fun, but also a difficult way to create a track. I probably won’t be producing songs quite this way very often in the future.
That’s difficult. I’m fond of each song for different reasons. Like your kids; you love them all for who they are.
From a production standpoint, I would have to say that “Ishmael” was the most difficult and required the most revision. It has some interesting chord progressions and transitions. A lot of the magic in that song isn’t very perceptible. A lot is going on underneath that creates the final tone and vibe. Also, it tackles an array of difficult topics that were hard to fit lyrically into the structures of the song. I’m quite proud of the final product, though the joy of listening to it has receded, much like my hairline while producing it haha.
I probably enjoy listening to “Sunshine” the most because it features my wife’s bubbly voice and it always brings a smile to my face.
7 – Who has inspired you musically? Why?
My wife has been the subject of many of my love songs. All of my best ones actually.
I would be remiss not to include my mother and father on this list. When I was a kid my dad would play his acoustic guitar at bedtime and in the living room while my brothers and I danced and enacted our theatrics. I remember watching him play and thinking it was like magic. I had no idea what he was doing yet I loved how it made me feel. I had never wanted to learn to do something so badly, then or since. My mother always filled the house with her voice. She sang often and beautifully in a high and melodic ringing tone. She still does. I think that influenced my gravitation toward ballad styles of singing.
Music wasn’t just something that I experienced through the radio. It was alive in my home. I can’t overstate how powerful that is. I went to school to become a game design artist and it wasn’t until I met and married my wife that I realigned my focus to what I believe I was truly meant to do and focus my time and efforts towards being a Musician.
As, for musicians, I was inspired by many of the usual suspects. I was greatly influenced by oldies groups, especially from the ’60s and ’70s. I only learned a couple of songs and some chords before I began writing my own songs. Writing my music was my whole impetus for learning the guitar. I still rarely learn other people’s music, unless my wife or children specifically ask.
8 – Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
I have always wanted to have a band. I think playing in a group is one of the best experiences. To play this album live would be impossible for one person. Some of the songs have four guitar parts going at once. So I’m subtly pushing each of my children toward an instrument to fill out the ensemble haha! I can see my kids becoming my bandmates one day… until they get too cool.
I currently collaborate with my best friend Ryan Olterman on his project “Witness Note”. He is a fantastic poet and lyricist. I composed and produced the music on his debut album ‘Ghost’ which also just dropped on Spotify and Apple. I’m looking forward to working with him on his next project soon as well.
9 – What do you hope is the message of your songs?
I hope people take away a sense of hopefulness. I hope they feel a little lighter, a little less stressed, a little more at ease with themselves. I feel like my music would be a great soundtrack for a road trip. I want it to be fun and exciting, but at the same time provide copious amounts of chill.
When people listen to my album, I want them to feel inspired and think deeply. I hope that my music shows the youth of today that there is more to life than the “look at me” and materialistic culture of music we are currently suffocated by. I believe music is meant to raise us. It has the power to elevate but it requires elevated thought.
10 – Lastly, are you working on anything new?
Always! I write more rapidly than I could ever record. I’ve already got at least fourteen songs ready to go for the next album. I may whittle that down by two or three songs. The working title is “The Letter”. It’s going to be a more stripped-down, intimate sound. It will have a classic vibe and groove. I’m also very excited about the lyrics in these new songs. I think they are some of my best work. I may have some sneak peeks posted on my Facebook soon.
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Exclusive Interview: Paul Mayson Delves Into His Debut Album ‘One Life’
Paul Mayson‘s first-ever album, ‘One Life,’ is like a special mix of his love for House music, blended with different kinds of sounds and cool collaborations from artists all over the world. You definitely don’t want to miss this interview!
1 — With the release of your debut album ‘One Life,’ what are your expectations for how listeners will connect with the music?
My goal was to showcase my story and my sound. And for it to be an uplifting, positive, and summery album. Hopefully, it feels like that! It’s a collection of songs made at the moment, to make you feel happy and free. It’s about embracing life, the good things and the bad. And about doing what makes you happy.
2 — You’ve teamed up with a diverse range of international artists on this material. Please let us know how these collaborations came to be.
It was really exciting taking elements from different genres, working with a group of great artists who come from very different backgrounds, and bringing all of these sounds and flavors together on one project. A lot of artists I meet myself, reach out to the people I’m interested in. I often travel abroad to work on music together and do sessions in London or LA. Sometimes collabs can also happen through the label or the publisher, but ultimately it’s great to have an artist-to-artist relationship.
3 – What compelled you to emphasize the themes of life, freedom, and diversity in this album?
I’m very passionate about House music culture and the way it started. Which was all about positivity and celebrating life together. I love that message and think the soulful, feel-good element of House music is what always really attracted me to the genre. And to music in general, including other genres like Soul and RnB.
A few of the songs (like “Tell Me How” and “I Want You”) were basically made during one big jam session. It’s me just trying out completely different sounds, textures, and rhythms and experimenting with live drums, guitars, and whatever I feel like. Letting go of any rules connected to dance music allows for a really fresh approach to the album songs.
6 – How does the artwork complement the album’s concept?
It emphasizes the feel-good element and the overall message of the album. Life is in front of you, it’s there for the taking. You’re in the hallway, step into the light and embrace life.
7 – Will there be another amazing music video like “Have It All,” dropping in the near future?
We released a really cool art piece and visualizer for the album which I’m very excited about!
8 – Given your ambition to push boundaries within the Dance genre, do you think the bunch of producers already out there could make it tough for you to really stand out?
I think individuality is key. Doing something you’re passionate about. Telling your own story. If you go into that process, the outcome will be unique. Not following trends and doing my own thing is what helps me stand out and allows me to be ahead and I try to keep pushing myself.
9 – Among your studio essentials, what’s the item that you consider the cornerstone of your setup?
Quite a lot of my work is digital. I carry my laptop around and can produce and write anywhere with it, whether it’s my home studio, the studio in Amsterdam, a hotel, or even an airport. That’s what makes it flexible and international! Just being able to work anywhere and get the creative process going. At home I also love my Adam A77x monitors and I also use a Prophet synth.
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Exploring “My Friends”: Tobtok Talks Creative Process And More!
In this exclusive interview, Swedish producer Tobtok discusses all the details about his latest single as part of the ongoing countdown to the upcoming ‘My Friends’ EP. This is a collaborative effort with farfetch’d that you definitely shouldn’t overlook.
1 — Congratulations on the release of “My Friends.” Please tell us more about the influences and musical style that shaped this cool track.
Thanks! This tune has taken inspiration from bits and pieces of tracks I’ve been into over the last 10 years, everything from Daft Punk to Fred Again. It contains a lot of micro samples and vocal lines that are in a similar vein as old French House records, but we also wanted to experiment with the current UK rave sound, which we think ended up in a pretty unique and interesting way.
2 — How did you and farfetch’d navigate the creative process together, especially when faced with differing ideas or disagreements?
We were kind of on the same page with most things to be fair. Jerry from farfetch’d is a very creative guy and he loves to bash out new ideas, which worked well for me to develop into full songs. We worked on every track together in my studio and finished them off together. Of course, we had some different ideas about certain things but since none of us had a big ego, we just compromised. I think when you like the same kind of music, you usually think quite alike.
3 — What sets this collaboration apart from your previous singles?
I think this is possibly the strongest single from the EP. It feels catchy and is super simple yet not too boring. It also has Jerry’s voice in it which is unique to any other of our tracks.
4 — Can you share any funny anecdotes about specific moments while crafting “My Friends”?
We have hidden a few wacky voice notes in it as a sort of ambiance. It can be heard in the second verse or whatever you wanna call it. You clearly hear Jerry laughing about something, but I can’t remember what it was.
It’s track no.3 from our ‘My Friends’ EP which has a total of 6 tracks. It was released via Perfect Havoc on 29th September.
6 — What are your emotions when your music receives recognition and praise from other producers in the industry?
It’s always so much fun to get praise from your peers and colleagues. These people live and breathe music and probably hear way more stuff than the average listener, so I guess they tend to be less impressed by music.
Haha most definitely. I started out with French House which evolved into Nu-Disco. I later jumped on the Tropical House train (quite early on in my defense). Left that and tried something cooler with my track “ABER,” and from there, it’s been more of a mix between UK and Deep House.
8 — Is there any specific music genre you’re eager to explore?
Old School Disco and Soul. I’m a big fan of the 70s as a whole, that’s why I’ve bought a few vintage Roland pieces in my studio and a Rhodes Piano.
9 — Considering the global nature of music today, are there any international artists you’d love to collaborate with?
I love Jungle right now, for reasons made quite obvious in the previous question. They’ve mastered this cool retro 70’s/Motown sound and yet managed to make it sound fresh somehow. I’d love to just hang out in the studio with them and see what they do.
10 — As we conclude, do you feel that there’s a certain formula that artists can follow to produce chart-topping hits?
Nowadays, it’s all about doing something that stands out from what everyone else is doing and probably also adding a sprinkle of nostalgia and familiarity into something. A good example is the new Peggy Gou record which is a massive hit that takes inspiration from ATB but puts it in a new and interesting context. It doesn’t hurt to have a massive TikTok following either lol.
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From Drummer To EDM Producer: Kouss Opens Up About “Can’t Go Back”
You must read this interview with Kouss! He used to rock it as a badass drummer in the Stellar Revival band, but now he’s spilling the beans about how he switched things up and got into making electronic dance music (EDM). The spotlight is now on his latest track, “Can’t Go Back.” Learn more here.
1 — Putting your sound into words, how would you convey the mood and sensations that your music evokes to someone unfamiliar with it?
My music aims to be an uplifting and thoughtful blend of Progressive House and Dance-Pop. Even though the music is very dancefloor-friendly, the songwriting is very Pop-forward. I also love mixing live instrumentation with electronic production to create layered recordings. As a drummer, having live elements mesh with the electronic really brings out a unique texture.
2 — Your transition from Rock music with Stellar Revival to EDM is quite remarkable. Can you tell us more about it?
The transition from Rock to EDM is an exciting and natural creative evolution. I’ve always been passionate about electronic music, so finally being able to fully immerse myself in the genre as a producer and songwriter has been fulfilling. My background as a touring Rock drummer also gives me a unique musical sensibility that I try to incorporate into Kouss Records.
3 — As a drummer, you had to adapt to a different genre. How did you translate your rhythmic background into this new realm?
When approaching any genre, especially Dance music, I’m utilizing my background in percussion to create grooves and drum patterns. The drum parts still come from the same creative place whether I’m sitting behind a drum set or drawing with a MIDI controller. I will say that with EDM I find myself focused more on groove and restraint.
4 — In what ways have Illenium, Zedd, and David Guetta played a role in shaping the sound of your new single “Can’t Go Back”?
Illenium, Zedd, and David Guetta definitely influenced the melodic and atmospheric vibes in “Can’t Go Back.” Their music motivates and challenges me to produce massive soundscapes on the highest level. They’re all melodic magicians, and I continue to be inspired by their work. I also feel like I put my own spin on “Can’t Go Back.” It’s almost like the line between EDM and Pop became blurrier on this track.
5 — What’s the story behind the song title?
“Can’t Go Back” is generally about moving forward and not dwelling on the past. For me personally, it’s about evolving as an artist and person.
I was introduced to Anna soon after starting the Kouss project by “Can’t Go Back” co-producer and dear friend Phil Barnes. The second I heard Anna sing I knew I wanted to work with her. She’s an incredible songwriter and an awesome human. It was an organic collaboration that we’re both stoked about. Definitely be on the lookout for more collaborations with Anna in the future!
7 — How do you aim to connect with listeners on an emotional level through this single?
I aim to connect with listeners on an emotional level through the authenticity and musicality of “Can’t Go Back.” It’s about delivering that special feeling to the listener. We crafted this recording from a place of passion as artists. The lyrics are relatable and cathartic, and Anna’s vocals draw you into this sonic world we created. We also tap into some nostalgia with the Big Room House vibe. But overall the goal was to give listeners an authentic musical experience that resonates with them, regardless of what genre they usually listen to.
Yes, “Can’t Go Back” mixes electronic production with live drumming and live guitars. The live instruments give the song a dynamic texture and human feel. Not every Kouss song will have live instruments, but it’s definitely a major part of the debut EP coming in 2024.
9 — Looking ahead, how do you envision your music style evolving?
I want to continue bridging the gap between organic and electronic. Creatively, I think there’s a lot of meat on that bone. I also don’t want to limit myself to a single genre or style. I love all types of music and ultimately hope to develop a sound that draws from those diverse influences and experiences.
10 — Lastly, reflecting on your journey so far, what’s been the most memorable or rewarding moment of your music career?
Working with talented musicians and creators who are excited about my music has been humbling and inspiring. I didn’t expect it, but the reaction to “Can’t Go Back” has been both unexpected and validating. It’s so cool to see the song played in clubs, gyms, and cars. I’m truly fortunate to share my passion for music and connect with listeners who share the same passion.