Half an Orange return with something fresh! As the EP title suggests, ‘Mostly We Grow’ underlines the difficult maturity stage of life. Besides their usual acoustics and electronic music elements, these artists tell personal stories through lyrics, which give it a special touch to the entire production. In this new interview, they opened up about their ‘Mostly We Grow’ project, and its second part, which steps ahead of its listeners’ expectations.
1 – Your debut EP reached 5 million streams on Spotify. Do you expect to obtain the same results with this new project?
Both parts of ‘Mostly We Grow’ make up one EP. Originally, we planned on releasing ‘Mostly We Grow’ altogether. However, when esport star Ninja reached out to help us release the debut single off the EP, “Old Friends”, we had to change our strategy. Ninja had been playing our music on his channel and wanted to help us promote our new songs by starring in a Half an Orange music video. It was a massive opportunity we didn’t want to pass on. There was only one problem, the full EP wasn’t ready to be released and Ninja’s schedule required the music video be done soon. We decided to release the EP in two parts in order to give us time to finish the second half of the EP while the first half was being released.
It ended up being the right call. The debut single off ‘Mostly We Grow Pt 1’, “Old Friends”, was our most successful song to date. The music video, uploaded to Ninja’s YouTube channel, was viewed over 2 million times. Our socials and streaming numbers all exploded. In fact, our Instagram following quadrupled in a single day. We won numerous film festivals across the country (including markets like LA and New York) for creating arguably the first and biggest music videos to star an esport athlete. It was an absolute blast working with Ninja. This momentum helped promote ‘Mostly We Grow Pt 1’ and continued through ‘Mostly We Grow Pt 2’.
We expect our numbers to keep growing with ‘Mostly We Grow Pt 2’. The release of ‘Mostly We Grow Pt 2’ was our highest stream total for a single day. Spotify has been a huge supporter of ours. Their playlists are constantly helping new people to discover our music. Rocket League is playing one of the singles off ‘Mostly We Grow Pt 2’, “Mark Twain”, whenever someone turns on the game. The game has such a massive userbase that our song will be heard 5 million times per day inside Rocket League. We’ll be working with Sirius XM and Monstercat to host the weekly radio show “Call of the Wild” on Sirius XM channel 52. Live Nation partnered with us to release the first-ever animated DJ residency which gets music from ‘Mostly We Grow’ in front of venues across the country.
Even more important than numbers, our fans seem to love the EP ‘Mostly We Grow’. We receive daily messages from fans saying how they use the EP to keep them sane and happy whenever they’ve had a tough day. People are even getting tattoos of their favorite song lyrics off the EP. It has been incredibly touching to see the community’s response to our songs and stories.
2 – What are the similarities and differences between ‘Mostly We Grow PT. 1’ and ‘PT. 2’?
The songs on ‘Mostly We Grow’ revolve around the challenges and realities that hit you while growing up. “Old Friends” is about losing loved ones as you get older. “Sunscreen” is about the friends who helped protect you as life throws more troubling times your way. Our song “Blink 182” is us saying we wish we could sit around and listen to Blink 182 songs all day instead of moving on to new phases of our lives. Growing up is scary and often lonely. It’s important to grow and learn as a person but the idea of your life-changing is still terrifying.
Because the EP is about growth, we gave ‘Mostly We Grow Pt 1’ and ‘Mostly We Grow Pt 2’ different album covers. In ‘Mostly We Grow Pt 1’ we (as our astronauts) are holding a flower that is small and struggling to live. In ‘Mostly We Grow Pt 2’ the album cover is the same, but the flower is now blooming and fully grown. We wanted the album cover and our songs to always show hope that you’ll be ok despite how much life is changing around you.
3 – Do you have a favorite song from this new release? If so, what makes it special?
One of our favorite songs off ‘Mostly We Grow Pt 2’ is “Mark Twain”.
“I wrote this song the afternoon I found out my dad had cancer. He and I went to a river near our house to sit down and take in the information he had been given from the doctor. While we were sitting near the water, he told me he felt like he was already dead. When I got home I found a bunch of dark and creepy sounds and began writing a song about how it would feel to already be dead. The song’s title, “Mark Twain”, comes from the author. In his book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, his characters watch and attend their own funeral, seeing what it would be like to be dead.” – Michael from Half an Orange
4 – How do you approach the songwriting process?
We have a rule that at least one of us has to write for one hour a day. Normally we write for a much longer time, but the one-hour rule ensures we never miss a day. Sometimes we write together. Sometimes we write separately. Writing is like therapy for us so normally we write whatever we are feeling. When a close friend passes away, we write about it. When we have had a hard day, we write up it. Writing about what we’re dealing with gives us a sense of calmness and closure.
Our first stages of the writing process are on piano or guitar. We’re focusing on finding lyrics and composition. We try and keep it as organic as possible by writing the lyrics on paper and avoiding the computer or our phones. Before releasing music as Half an Orange, we wrote folk music together so writing organically is more comfortable to us.
For lyrics, the goal is to be honest and share a story that has happened to us. We want the listener to feel like they’ve been transported somewhere with us. Hopefully, they can relate to the story and emotions in the song.
After getting the composition and lyrics of the song down we both work in our studio to begin production. We record ourselves playing instruments and singing. During the process, we are trying to get the emotion and feel of the song down. We brainstorm different ideas and experiment with all kinds of instruments, melodies, synths, and samples. Most of our songs are acoustic or piano-based, but it’s not uncommon for us to spend more time on the percussion. We try and get the majority of the recording and playing of the song done together in the studio over a couple of days. The whole process from writing, composing, and producing takes about 2 weeks. We then spend another 2-4 weeks polishing the song and crafting the mix.
5 – How long did it take you to produce this new material?
We are heavily involved with every step in our song’s life cycle. It takes about a month for us to create a song. Another 1-3 months is spent on the music video for the song. We animated the music videos for “Buzz Lightyear” and “End of the Moon” ourselves. Both music videos took 2-4 months to make. “Old Friends” with “Ninja” was a 5-6 month project. After the song and music video are made we spend another month working on the release strategy with our label. ‘Mostly We Grow’ (parts 1 and 2) took over a year to put together. It was a fantastic journey that taught us a lot about ourselves.
“When Andrew and I were in the studio for “Mark Twain” I was singing it in my ‘normal’ voice. He pushed back and said it felt weird having a song about being dead but sounding like I was alive. We experimented with ways for me to sing in a style that let the listener know I wasn’t my normal self. The high creepy vocals were developed that day in the studio and are actually me singing without auto-tune. It took us forever to get the vocals down and singing in that style was really taxing on my vocal cords. The song’s subject matter made singing it over and over again emotionally draining.” – Michael from Half an Orange
7 – Who would you love to see remixing your new tracks?
WRLD remixed our song “Buzz Lightyear” and it was fantastic. The first song we ever released as Half an Orange was remixed by Holmsey. We’d love to have both of them hop on for another remix. Producers like Tokyo Machine, Tails, InukShuk, and Ephixa would also be awesome in re-creating our songs and stories through a remix.
8 – Are you planning to release a music video anytime soon?
There mostly likely won’t be any more music videos for ‘Mostly We Grow’. Please enjoy the current music videos for ‘Mostly We Grow’: “Buzz Lightyear”, “Old Friends”, “Given Up”, and “End of the Moon”. We made really fun visualizers for Blink 182 and Sunscreen. With Live Nation and Monstercat, we are releasing the first-ever animated DJ residency. It’s an hour of fully animated video content using songs from ‘Mostly We Grow’. We premiered an early access version of the show at Live Nation venue Bogart’s in Cincinnati Ohio and are preparing more shows for it.
9 – Last question, will there be a third part of ‘Mostly We Grow’ in 2020?
If fans keep getting tattoos of ‘Mostly We Grow’ Pt 1 and Pt 2 we’ll probably have to.
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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.
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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.