Calzo Houdini has been involved in different projects with Empire of the Sun, Peter, Bjorn and John, The Streets and a few others… He’s clearly a talented producer who opens up about his passion for music in this exclusive interview. Don’t miss a word of this creative artist who has a lot to offer!!!
1 – How long have you been producing and how long does it take to produce a track?
I have been producing music professionally on and off for almost 10 years. Starting around 2007 I had a label which became a sub of Warner Music Group (WMG) and then part of BKKMG Records in Thailand. The time put into a track varies. If I’m making my own tracks I’d say anywhere between 2-4 weeks per track. That will sound like a long time to some producers but I take breaks in-between so I’m not burning myself out, plus I have other work commitments. If I’m producing music for another artist it really depends on the style of music, what they expect of me and their deadline.
2 – What is your state of mind when you produce a track?
There are long periods of time when I’m not in the mood to make music. It’s either a lack of motivation or I’m too busy. I’m easily distracted when I’m sitting in my studio so if a track isn’t working I’ll start a new one and see what comes out after an hour or so. If I like what I hear I’ll focus on that track for a few sessions which will hopefully turn into a finished song. So to answer your question, my mind is always wandering all over the place. I have 5 hard drives full of unfinished tracks.
3 – You are also into DJing and what genres do you play?
I have tried DJ-ing a few times but again I’m easily distracted and lose sight of what I’m doing. I start enjoying the music and atmosphere a little too much and can’t focus. I prefer to listen to the music rather than concentrating on making sure people are having a good time. We record DJ live streams in my studio every now and then but I hand over the DJ reigns to my friend Ron who really knows what he’s doing whilst me and Valerio play around with the cameras and make sure the audio is on point. It’s mostly Deep House and Dance music I guess. A few of our past live streams are on my YouTube channel.
4 – You lived in Thailand, How good is the nightlife and the electronic music scene over there?
Thailand has a massive choice of clubs and bars depending on your taste in music. For electronic music the larger clubs in Bangkok cater to more mainstream dance, EDM and house music. I’d recommend checking out Levels nightclub in Bangkok if you are ever over there. I loved Bedsupper Club in Bangkok but they had to close it down in 2013. They had a lot of top DJ’s and artists playing there every few months. My wife Chelsea and I used to live in Pattaya where they have club 808, MIXX and Lucifers which all have a stream of great DJ’s and live bands playing every night, resident DJ Andy P from Manchester being one of my favourites. I play his mixes on my radio shows, great stuff. Look him up on Facebook.
5 – Tell me about your work with Empire of The Sun? Was it easy or hard work?
It initially started when I produced a remix of the PNAU track ‘With You Forever’ which has Luke Steele on vocals, who at the time was in a band called The Sleepy Jackson. Luke then later created Empire of The Sun with Nick Littlemore who was in PNAU. Randomly out of the blue my remix was played by Swedish House Mafia on BBC Radio 1’s takeover show about a year after I released the remix. Someone in their camp heard it and I got to work on small bits and pieces with them on their second album ‘Ice On The Dune’ about 4 years later!
6 – Where can we listen to your new EP ‘One Man Room’? Are you planning to release a music video?
The new EP is available to buy from all of the usual digital retailers and on Spotify if you want to stream it. I wanted to release a vinyl but that’s something I’ll keep for an album. There won’t be a full-length music video for the EP. I filmed a short promo for the title track which is on my YouTube channel but nothing on the EP really warrants a full-on music video.
7 – Do the lyrics tell a story? Who provides the vocals on this EP?
When I set out to make the EP I planned to have the tracks flow together and tell a story but the deeper I got into it the more I realised that I just wanted to release a collection of songs that I had finished and enjoyed making, which is why it doesn’t fit together like an album would. There are a few artists providing vocals on the EP. The majority of the vocals are from the super talented Stevie Adams and Holly Drummond. You can find Stevie’s EP on Spotify and her videos on YouTube and Holly does a lot of studio session work. Both great artists in their own right. When we were recording vocals in my studio Stevie was bringing melodies to the tracks that I would never have dreamt of. She’s a great singer and songwriter. Keep your eye out for her.
8 – As an artist, do you share every aspect of your life with the Internet?
Ha! No. Musicians, actors, performers and artists all have to share a certain amount of themselves with “the internet”. It’s 2016 and the media industry is driven by the internet whether the big labels and studios like it or not. As loathsome as self-promotion is for both the artist and their followers it’s a large part of getting your music out there. There’s only so much a record label or publisher can do for you. An actor is obliged to promote their movie, why shouldn’t a musician tweet about their music? When it comes to personal stuff, I enjoy posting photo’s of my wife looking at menus in restaurants and videos of my cat but that’s probably as much of my family life as I’ll share with the internet. No one is really interested in the personal stuff, although I have been asked some strange questions over the last few years, mainly from Empire of The Sun fans.
9 – You produced a free a track for the IBIZA Together Week Parties, who is it aimed at?
I was contacted by a promoter for the IBIZA Together Week and asked to create a track and video that would be played in and around the weeks events. It was intended to be played more as background music or as an art piece that would be projected on screens in bars whilst everyone is chilling out and having a few drinks. So I guess it’s just there to keep people motivated and in the mood when they are socialising before they head out to see the big DJ acts in the clubs. I like to think of it as elevator music. The kind of music that you hear in the background but it sticks in your subconscious. Something you would remember if you heard it a few months later but couldn’t quite place where you had heard it. That’s the idea. It’s fun making quick off the cuff house tracks like that. Easy. Plus I’ve never been into the whole Ibiza scene, I’m a recluse. It would be amazing to be there and hear the track being played poolside but I’m in no rush. I made it and it’s over there being heard by someone, somewhere, that’s enough for me.
10 – What days are you live on your online radio show?
The radio shows are on a hiatus at the moment until I get other work out of the way but I would love to bring it back with some real DJ’s, hosts, and guests. I’d like to incorporate our DJ live streams and make it a monthly event. It’s something I’m working towards but it’s difficult to keep a schedule when there are so many other projects on the go. It’s a matter of sitting down with my friends Ron and Valerio and building something where we can feature new artists and local talent. I think there would be a huge interest for something like that, especially if we keep it local to start with. The guys at the Boiler Room do it perfectly.
11 – We know you’ve worked on film scores, In what kind of film does your music fit?
The first original film score I produced was a single track for Gerard Butler’s film production company back in 2011. It was intended for the end credits of the movie Playing the Field. My track was dropped from the movie when the producers decided to change the title of the movie to Playing for Keeps. Somehow my track no longer fits into the end credits and that was the only shot I’ve ever had at a “Hollywood” movie. I still haven’t seen the film but I know Andrea Guerra would have put together a great score for it. For the last year or so I have been sporadically working on a score for a Swedish independent movie called Spare Change. I’m looking forward to releasing the album for that soon. I love pulling together strings and orchestration and then watching real musicians play it. Magical.
12 – What’s your favorite song you’ve ever produced? Why?
That’s a tough one. I think it would probably have to be when I wrote orchestration and produced the remix of ‘The Streets’ (Mike Skinner) track ‘Everyone Has Something to Hide’ from his last release as ’The Streets’ ‘Computers and Blues and Cyberspace and Reds’. Shoutout to Tess, Jamie, Shep, Ozzie, Rod, Emma & Adam Dempsey. Good times.
13 – Do you find that most of the people you meet in the world of music have quite bad taste in music?
I’m not sure I understand what ‘bad taste in music’ is? I think there is an ear for everything out there. There are genuine people in charge of the industry who have no interest in even being associated with the music side of the process. Businessmen who can’t decide what music they enjoy because they don’t understand the concept of music. As one of my hero’s, Gene Wilder, once said, “Show-business… I like show, but I don’t like the business.”. Music is subjective but at least let the creative ones produce, influence and direct the industry. The same goes for the art world, comic books, movies, and radio industries. Everyone needs to back off, let people who know what they are doing get it done. Business men will always reap the benefits regardless but at least talent flourish and grow without being restricted by sociopathic old men with money and fuck all else to do with their time. I dunno, it’s a vicious circle of the industry. Keep on, keeping on.
14 – What’s your label’s plan for making you a more commercial-oriented artist?
I’ve never been interested in becoming a commercial artist. My label primarily focuses on building K-Pop bands and Asian rock bands. I knew that from the beginning and I’m happy to just have an output to get my music out there to the few who want to hear it. It’s fun. My music performs pretty well in Asia but I have no intentions of trying to be anything other than a guy from Edinburgh who makes music in his bedroom.
15 – Which artist would you like to collaborate with?
Paul Buchanan. Single greatest songwriter of all time in my opinion. Please look him up on Spotify and if you meet him in Glasgow, tell him I’m asking for him. He was part of the 80’s band The Blue Nile. Their music is phenomenal.
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Discovering Lucii’s Musical Journey And Her New Song “Narcissist”
In this exclusive interview, Lucii shares more about her journey as a musician, the meaning and inspiration behind her new single “Narcissist,” and her plans for the future, including incorporating a live band into her performances and releasing a new album.
1 — How did you first become interested in music and what led you to pursue it as a career?
So I always sang and made songs on guitar as I was growing up but never thought I was good enough. I went to a rave at 17 and really loved it so I started DJing and producing and started to use my vocals on my tracks and it turned into a career!
2 — As a member of the LGBTQ community, how do you feel your identity influences your songs?
I feel like Idk I just write songs about girls, but I think cause I’m female writing about a female gives this extra sparkle of divine femininity.
3 — How do you aim to use your artistic platform to uplift and inspire others in the community?
I just want to make people feel something, music is a form of expression sometimes easier than talking. Mac Miller helped so much with my mental health and I just wanna be that to someone. Make people not feel alone, especially the LGBTQ community.
4 — Please tell us more about the meaning and inspiration behind your new single “Narcissist.”
I was in therapy and was describing this person to my therapist and she said (her name is Andrea and I shout her out in the song) “well that person sounds like a Narcissist” I NEVER heard of that word in my life so I started writing that night “you’re a Narcissist says my therapist” and that’s how it came about. I just wanted an angry song about a Narcissist so I made it.
Probably “thank god for Andrea I should send the bill to ya for all the times I’m in the chair wondering how I got here” Andrea is my therapist and I just think that’s a BA.
6 — How has your experience been as an electronic music producer and how has that influenced your shift into the Pop genre?
I feel like it influenced my Pop music a lot because I want my songs to have energy even if they’re sad, I want that emotional wave rollercoaster to feel like dance music gives.
7 — Are you planning to incorporate a live band into your performances?
YES!! I cannot wait to start playing with my band. I can’t wait to be closer to my audience and just play my songs, that is my dream and I can’t wait to do that soon hehe.
Details on the upcoming album will be announced soon.
9 — What message would you like to send to aspiring LGBTQ musicians looking to break into the industry?
I would say just fucking go for it we NEED you. Look at fletcher she is breaking boundaries right now she is a full-on amazing Pop star and watching her grow has just been so inspiring and made me realize I can do this, I can make the move from being a DJ to being a live performance act.
10 — How do you see your music evolving in the future?
I see myself going through eras, I really love how Taylor Swift each of her albums feel like a chapter to read from ‘1989’ to ‘REPUTATION’ and OMG ‘Folklore.’ All of them are AMAZING but I just want to give that feeling with every one of my albums, as you listen to it and you’re transported back in time to a feeling.
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Exploring An Experimental Album With XENOBYT — Interview
Are you a fan of electronic music with a hint of nostalgia and horror? Look no further, as XENOBYT‘s new album ‘Nine Nights In The House Of Harrow’ is exactly what you’ve been searching for. In this exclusive interview, the up-and-coming artist gives you an inside look at the inspiration and creative process behind his original work.
1 — How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard it before?
I try to make music that people can vibe to. Something you can put on and get lost in while driving or doing something mundane. There is something fascinating about using a synthesizer, which for a long time was considered the sound of the future, but using it to make music that reminds us of the past. I like to think that if you like Horror and synth music and enjoy the groove of the song over the technicality of what’s played, you would enjoy what I am trying to do here.
2 — Which artists are you most influenced by?
When I was younger, I was a huge Metalhead, but my dad was a big tech geek and loved messing around with a synthesizer and listened to a lot of Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder. So I had an early appreciation for it. I was big into Horror movies and really dug the soundtracks that John Carpenter was doing, and Brad Fiedel’s Terminator 2 soundtrack was another of my favorites. But I didn’t decide to start making this kind of music until I heard Carpenter Brut and Perturbator for the first time.
3 — What drew you to the experimental genre and what sets it apart from other electronic music styles?
I went to college for sound design, so I love taking a sound that people are familiar with and messing with it to make something completely new. And I try to incorporate that into my music in ways that aren’t done very often. Classifying yourself as experimental kind of takes the chains off and resets expectations of what your fans expect to hear when they listen to your music.
4 — What inspired the title of your new album ‘Nine Nights In The House Of Harrow’?
Usually, I come up with a simple horror theme for an album before I even start writing the songs for it. The last album, New Retro Witch, was about witchcraft and this album was about malevolent spirits. The concept of getting hired for a certain time to caretake a haunted mansion resonated with me and the things I had going on in my life at the time. I was facing a lot of old trauma I had buried and this concept paralleled with what I was dealing with in my own head, so I based the title of the album around that idea.
5 — How does this material differ from your previous works?
I wanted this album to be heavier than my last album from the start. I wanted to incorporate more Rock and Metal vibes into it but keep some of the same beauty and melancholy that I really liked about New Retro Witch.
Because of the more personal nature of this album, I didn’t really do any big collaborations on it, which is something I normally try to do.
6 — How long did it take you to complete this project?
I started working on this album in the Spring of 2021 and had 9 songs written for this album by the end of summer, but I wasn’t happy with it and scrapped all but 3 songs. I kind of fell into an artistic rut after that and sat on it until February of 2022 and wrote, mixed, and mastered the remainder of the album over the spring and summer.
7 — Could you tell us where ‘Nine Nights In The House Of Harrow’ was recorded?
I have my own recording studio here in Austin and I did all of the writing, mixing, and mastering for this album there.
8 — How did you approach the design of the artwork?
During that artistic rut I had mentioned earlier, I got really enthralled in AI Art Generation and went as far as learning how to and coding my own AI Art Generator. I made a bunch of stuff with it that actually helped inspire me to finish the album. While I am a big fan of collaborating with other artists, I was really proud of the fact I made this art-making machine and how it helped me get back on my grind. I wanted to showcase what it was capable of with this release.
“Deluge,” because there is a sad and dark story behind it. I suffer from depression and PTSD and had a bit of a mental breakdown last summer. That song was created live while I was in the midst of that breakdown. I felt like I was drowning, and I wanted the song to sound like I felt. But I also wrote the song I wanted to hear to feel better, and it worked. I still put it on when I am feeling depressed, and it still makes me feel better.
10 — Are you open to collaborations? If so, what are the requirements?
Absolutely! I am always open to collaborating with other artists. My only requirement is ensuring proper credit is given to everyone involved.
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Empowerment & Authenticity: An Interview With Tash Blake On “Mannequin”
With influences from icons like Madonna, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga, Tash Blake is not afraid to break boundaries and bring fresh energy to the music industry. Her debut single “Mannequin” carries a powerful message of rebellion and authenticity. Read the full interview here.
1 — First of all, what makes Tash Blake an artist?
I am constantly thinking about what is missing from the music/visual world and want to contribute my vision, writing, and voice to provide my personal expression in a way that may resonate with how others are feeling but may not be able to express.
2 — How do you combine your passion for dance and musical theatre into your current projects?
I always strive to incorporate choreography and dramatics into all my visual projects. Whether it’s through storytelling or fashion, my goal is to use body movement and character to elevate the art every time.
3 — Can you tell us more about the message behind your debut single “Mannequin”?
“Mannequin” is all about the types of language and power structures that demean and are used to control others and then the recognition and rebellion against them so as to take the power back from whoever or whatever has suppressed your power as a human being.
4 — In what ways does the music video enhance or support this message?
In the video, it was really important to me to feel powerful, sexy, confident, and badass.
5 — What did you enjoy the most about shooting these visuals?
I always adore expressing myself through dance and fashion, and I got to do both! Additionally, I love working in black and white imagery to highlight form and shape.
6 — Was it difficult to translate your personal experiences with manipulation and the pursuit of authenticity into the lyrics?
It was extremely easy to write about my experiences in the lyrics. I was beyond ready to talk about my past, operate in the present, reach for the future, and help others grab their power back.
7 — How does the influence of Madonna, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga manifest in your music style?
I have always adored the way these women didn’t play by the “rules.” They were always being themselves and consistently breaking boundaries. I like to be disruptive and break from the norm. Additionally, each of these women were incredible visionaries and performers, and I thoroughly want to bring that experience back to videos, music, and the stage in full force.
8 — Do you have any upcoming live performances scheduled?
I’m currently working on my live show and I’m so excited to share it with you. The stage is where I feel most at home.
9 — What are your most ambitious aspirations as an artist in 2023?
It’s a goal of mine to be playing at a festival this year like Tomorrowland! I would also be so grateful to perform at club venues and interact with and entertain fans.
10 — Finally, what will be your next song about?
I have always felt this deep desire and need for strong love even if it ends up hurting me, I’d rather feel something than feel nothing at all. “Inject Me” expresses exactly that. Throughout the song, I talk about performing and I pulled inspiration from both how I crave such an intense love before I die and how the industry can be a magical yet dark place where you can feel very loved, but overwhelmingly alone and I have always been fascinated by that contradiction.