Steven Jones‘ recent release “Shedding My Skin” is heavily influenced by swirling synths and drum machines. The outcome of cutting-edge Synthpop with the vintage-esque aesthetic is what makes his music so special. What’s more, the spread of COVID-19 accompanied by large lockdown periods become the inspiration for his latest lyrics. Scroll down and learn more about this interesting song.
1 – When it comes to your music, what three words best describe it?
Dystopian Analog Beauty.
2 – How have you been keeping yourself entertained this lockdown?
I’ve continued to practice yoga on a daily basis. I’ve done more walking in the park than ever before. I’ve made a special project of carefully listening to the back catalogues of my favourite artists. I’ve watched lots of movies and read a pile of books. Lockdown has given me a time to experiment with video, take moody photos, and pen obscure apocalyptic lyrics.
3 – I’m loving the vibes of your new EP, “Shedding My Skin”, what’s the inspiration behind this material?
“Shedding My Skin” is a lockdown anthem. I suspect a lot of artists will have been inspired by the deep strangeness of the world’s response to COVID-19. This EP is our response. The starting point was Kevin O’Dowd’s claustrophobic lyrics. Using these as a foundation, I created a basic demo I tended to reflect the dislocation and fear of the quarantined mind. I envisaged a skeletal soundscape out of which a voice intones images of despair and hope. Once this was achieved, Logan added his cinematic electronics and sleek production. The dub mix, “New Skin” purifies the emotion of the isolated spirit of lockdown into sheer atmospherics. A wordless cry from behind a closed door.
4 – How much time did you work for this EP?
One of the most interesting aspects of lockdown was a sense of timelessness. It’s easy to spend hours recording and experimenting. I suppose I worked on the demo for a few days before Logan got busy with it at Sky Studios. It was a relatively speedy process.
5 – I’m curious about your creative process, what comes first lyrics or sound?
The songwriting process usually begins with sound. A basic demo provides an atmosphere or emotional cue from which the lyrics arise. I usually start by improvising a vocal on the track, singing whatever comes into my head. So often the lyrics come right out of my subconscious. After several improvised takes I’ll begin to feel a structure appearing. Then I’ll begin to edit the lyrics. When there is something the feels like a song, I’ll send the stems Logan who will make suggestions, play in new melodies and add dynamics. We discuss ways to refine the atmosphere or take it in unexpected directions.
6 – Do you have a specific writing technique for the lyrics?
It starts with improvisation around themes that currently preoccupy me. I take inspiration from novels, films, art, overheard conversations, dreams. Sometimes I’ll draw from my own experience and encode this into the song. Many lyrics arise spontaneously in response to the mood of the track. Sometimes we have a song title which guides the overall content of a lyric. I have a very language-based thought process so I can easily generate imagery and curious sentences.
We can appreciate both as warm and icy sounds soundscapes, but I know Logan likes to focus on vintage hardware, that was used to create the synth soundscapes for the final Visage albums recorded before Steve Strange died.
Live performance is exciting and it’s an amazing feeling to sing one’s own songs but I prefer recording. I find it immensity fulfilling to write and record songs and then allow them to live in the world. I feel it’s like capturing time. I think my love of recording has its roots in my life-long passion for records! I’ve always preferred listening to an album than going to a performance. Gigs are cool but nothing beats immersion in the self-contained sonic world of a great album!
8 – Is your music only suitable for nostalgic lovers of the 80s or Synthwave fans?
I suspect that a lot of people view us as a Synthwave duo arising from a scene based in nostalgia. And while it’s true that our musical DNA can be traced back to the electronics of the early 80s, I’m keen that our records are creatively vital and future-thinking. Our music is a direct reaction to modernity and not a flight from it and we actively reject pastiche!
Some of our songs draw upon the world around us. “Corrupt State”, “Deluxe Tourist” and “Supply Chains” look at issues of corruption, “Syria” is an ode to the ongoing war and “For Europe” laments our departure from the EU.
My current reading list consists of the surreal poetics of William Burroughs. I recommend “Cities Of The Red Night” for a journey into the bizarre. And for light relief, “An Officer And A Spy” by Robert Harris.
“The English Patient” for doomed romance. Polanski’s “Macbeth” for windswept tragedy and “Network” for a cynical take on the media!
10 – Lastly, if you could design your dream music video right now, what would it look like?
A virtual swim through the cosmos, a shimmering journey from darkness to light…
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Notaker’s Insights On His Debut Independent Album, ‘Echoes In Eternity’
In a candid interview, Notaker talks about the most important details behind his debut independent album, ‘Echoes In Eternity.‘ He offers his fans a glimpse into the inspiration and emotions that fueled its creation. Happy reading!
1 — In your words, how would you describe the sonic atmosphere of this new album, ‘Echoes In Eternity’?
I would describe it as otherworldly, outrun retro, or dimensional. Those are the kinds of ideas I really aimed at for this project.
2 — ‘Echoes In Eternity’ is an interesting album title. Can you share the story or concept behind choosing this name?
I’ve always liked the famous quote from Marcus Aurelius “What we do now echoes in eternity”. It parallels what I wanted to do with this album which was to make something timeless that I could look back on many years from now and feel proud to have created.
3 — How do you think this album engages listeners on an emotional level?
As it hasn’t been released yet I’m not quite sure. It certainly holds a lot of myself in the music and hopefully, those emotions that I felt creating the music will shine through to listeners when they hear the album.
4 — What steps did you take to connect and work with Danyka Nadeau and Eric Lumiere?
I knew Eric from a collaboration we created previously so it was very easy to reach back out to him and work again. Danyka and I met through her manager Daniel who thought we could create something awesome together, and he was very right. It was a true treat to work with both, they are amazing artists.
It’s much less confined to any parameter a label might impose upon my work. This is truly a raw and unfiltered look at my music. The most “me” thing I feel I’ve ever created.
6 — Is there any particular track in the album that holds a special meaning to you?
In a way they all are, it’s tough to choose. I think the “Illusion of Time” is very special as I got to make that with one of my friends Kyu who played the hand pan which I sampled for that song. Always great to create things with friends.
7 — How would you describe the evolution of your artistic style and sound as reflected in this album?
In a way it’s cyclical. Finding new things that sound nostalgic to me and then creating them in a new and interesting way. Hopefully, people can hear that in my sound, something new but also familiar.
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Öwnboss & Selva Dish On The Creation Of “RIOT” — Interview
Closing out the festival season with a bang, Brazilian talents Öwnboss and Selva team up on anthemic dance hit “RIOT” for their debut on the respected label Monstercat. Not only a mainstage monster, “RIOT” gears up to take on the virtual world as the official anthem in the latest Brazilian-themed season of the sports-based video game Rocket League.
We caught up with Öwnboss and Selva to go behind the scenes on the making of “RIOT.”
1 — First of all, how do you maintain a balance between staying true to your own unique style while collaborating and complementing each other’s musical style?
Selva: I think the fun part about collaborating is to mix things up and see what happens. That being said, presenting ideas with context, staying true to yourself, and respecting the collaborator’s input is the formula to create something interesting that you wouldn’t come up with yourself. For example, Öwnboss has his famous lead synth, but we never forced it in. The progression choices and the energy that builds up until the drop made that synth not only essential but also brought the power we needed for the drop!
Öwnboss: I would say that I don’t have much of that balance because I’d say I don’t follow only a single style, you know? My sound is what I like to play, what makes sense at the moment, and what makes me happy. Of course, “Move Your Body” is a track that defines me in a way and I’m very proud of it, but I always try to evolve and improve my productions, as happened here with Selva. “RIOT” had more than 10 versions that went through various musical styles, which speaks a lot to my trajectory as a producer as well. The final version was our favourite, and it brings a lot of who we are as musicians.
2 — “RIOT” is set to debut in Rocket League’s battle arenas. Is this the first time you have produced music for video games?
Öwnboss: That’s a good question because we didn’t really produce the song thinking about having it in a video game, but that’s exactly what happened in the end. I had the pleasure of having “Move Your Body” on the Formula 1 2022 soundtrack, I believe for the size the track has taken by playing on the stages worldwide. With “RIOT,” I think we were able to produce such an exciting, rebellious song…. almost like a generational anthem, that seeing it as a soundtrack for such an important and young game like Rocket League turns out to be a perfect fit. “RIOT” really has a feel of action and adrenaline.
Selva: Yes, for me it’s the first time. I still am getting used to hearing my kids across the house turning on Rocket League and hearing my song!
3 — What qualities do you like the most about the vocals on ‘RIOT’?
Selva: I think the vocals are the soul of this song. We built the song around it, and we worked really hard for the production to play the role of enhancing the power of those lyrics.
Öwnboss: I agree. I really like the contrast between the vocals of the children singing in a very high-pitched tone and Brian’s voice, more serious. I think it’s a very good balance since the sonorities complement each other. Another thing that catches me is this “battle anthem” vibe of hers, it feels half revolutionary, like… Pink Floyd. It had been a while since I’d received a vocal with this strength, and I believe that’s why this track became so important to us.
4 — Imagine you could incite a riot for change. What goal would you inspire people to stand up for?
Öwnboss: That’s a tough question to answer because the world needs a lot of change, so how do you choose the most important one? Or the most urgent. What comes first in my mind is a riot for people to be themselves, without being ashamed and without worrying about what others will think. Be yourself. I think it is a path of no return to freedom and happiness. Probably the world would be better and lighter if everyone could follow that.
Selva: Interesting question! I think once you create a song and put it out into the world, the meaning of it is no longer yours to choose. Everyone has a different life experience and people digest ideas and messages in a very singular way. At first, this song didn’t have a political angle, but it can absolutely have. I’d say: start a riot in your heart, soul, and mind.
5 — Öwnboss, your busy 2023 World Tour is currently underway. How does the release of “RIOT” fit into your tour’s momentum?
Öwnboss: The release of “RIOT” in the middle of my tour was very important because I was able to play the track on various stages around the world without it being released. People don’t know it, but the music captivates almost instantly, which makes it an important reinforcement for my sets. I see the audience eager to learn the lyrics. I can say “RIOT” certainly arrived at a good time.
Selva: I think of myself as a songwriter above anything, and I’m blessed enough to work with so many different accomplished and talented artists, including Öwnboss whom I have written a number of songs. “RIOT” is a special one for me, and it just felt right to represent this one by his side. I personally learned to trust my gut more than ever.
Öwnboss: RIOT is energetic, revolutionary, and catchy.
Selva: All revolutions start in the soul.
8 — Were there any specific elements that made the creation of this track particularly challenging?
Selva: The chorus. We knew the chorus was potent and strong, but it was challenging to “dose” it through the song. We did a bunch of versions in order to land one that we felt delivered the chorus without being repetitive and enhanced it.
Öwnboss: Yeah, the vocals, for sure. And the collaboration with a children’s choir, which is the “extra touch” and makes it different from anything that I’ve ever produced before.
9 — What specific role did you play while working on “RIOT”?
Öwnboss: The lyrics were written by Brian, so my main role was to help set the musicality of the track, creating a climax on the chorus and the revolutionary footprint we wanted for it. Then, another challenge of ours was to integrate the high-pitched voice of the children’s choir with the other elements of the track, so that it would be dense, dynamic and keep the rebellious tone.
Selva: As mentioned I was on the songwriting. I dove in on the production as well later on, but I’d say I mainly focused on melody and lyrics and let my main man Öwnboss do his thing and create the whole context and drop.
10 — If a future collaboration opportunity arises, what new things would you be interested in exploring?
Selva: I’d like to have another go at exploring a RIOT-like anthemic chorus again, maybe in a higher BPM.
Öwnboss: Each collaboration is the reflection of the moment that I’m living. After that everything changes, so I think it’s hard to answer this question. I will always explore what is true and meaningful to me in that moment, so my music can speak to others.
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.