In the first week of his new album release “Higher”, I caught up with recording artist Jesse Sarvinski to see what inspired the album and what makes him tick…
1 – What music did you grow up listening to?
My parents pretty much always had the radio dialed to the country station so that was kind of the foundation of my music listening but I was exposed to a lot. My older cousin kept up with the current stuff and listened to the pop station, I spent a lot of time with her so I listened to a lot of that too. Country is really good at telling stories, kind of letting the narrative unfold in a really cinematic way. Pop music is all about the hook, the chorus that really gets stuck in your head. Later in my early teens I got more into rock, reggae, and alternative, much of which was classified as grunge back then. The first few albums I owned were pretty random though. It was something like Ace of Base, No Doubt, Green Day, Real McCoy and Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill – which had a profound effect on me. I remember hearing “Hand In My Pocket” for the first time and immediately asking “WHO IS THIS?” She was a great storyteller. But even like Ace Of Base for example, the beats were so solid. The music just got into your bones and I really love that too. I grew up on everything and I still to this day listen to everything. If it’s a good song, it doesn’t matter to me which particular genre it belongs to.
2 – Who taught you to sing? What inspires you to write songs?
I don’t know if I was ever actually taught. It was just kind of like this “I want to sing so I’m going to” type of thing. My voice was shit when I first started out because I was primarily interested in getting my thoughts out and a lot of times there was no resemblance of a melody and it could have been so off key that it was painful but I just told myself, “Bob Dylan was off key. Johnny Cash was off key. Lots of people are off key.” I made it about what I was saying but never stopped trying to develop my voice. I remember a lot of people asking me “Have you ever thought about being a songwriter, like, JUST a songwriter?” And I would be like “No, I’ve never thought of being JUST that, but thank you.” I kind of knew that I was never gonna be the guy who was doing all these complicated runs with his voice and being some Luther Vandross character and I just accepted that. As I got older I started training my voice much more and working with a coach and it’s kind of like working out at the gym. You have to do it on the regular and if you do, it can only get better and better. I’m inspired by a lot of things, sometimes it can be that I’m out to dinner with friends and someone will say a phrase or a sentence and it will ring a bell in my head, and I think “that’s a really good idea for a song,” and then I’ll run with it. Sometimes it’s a real experience I’ve had, maybe let’s say with a relationship, and there are those things that I think but that I really don’t necessarily want to say to that particular lover so I write about it. Or maybe it’s just a heightened take on an emotion that I’m feeling for one night. It’s always just a snapshot. That’s the great thing about a song. It’s not forever. Like just because I may write something that’s on the melancholy side, doesn’t mean I’m a melancholy person in general but in that moment I was feeling melancholy so I wrote about it. It’s all just catharsis.
3 – How do you stay fresh and on top of new sounds, and trends?
I don’t anymore. Trends come and go but speaking your truth will always be in style so I try to just go with that and if I like something then I do it. A friend of mine is a pretty well-known songwriter and I remember her telling me one day “just go with your gut.” So that’s what I do. And that seems to work best. If you try and analyze and say “oh I gotta do this, be like this person, give it this feel” you will miss the mark. You can be inspired by something but mimicking never ever works. My songs usually start with a beat. A producer will give me a beat and I write the lyrics and melody on top of that based on what the music emotes for me.
4 – Why is your new album called ‘Higher’?
I’m a seeker. I’m always happy to be where I’m at but I’m also aware that there is always more to be experienced so I’m constantly trying to rise towards whatever that may be. Many of the songs on the album are about those types of journeys. We’re kind of on this staircase and you don’t just get one step upward and think, “Okay, well I’m here now. I guess I will just sit at this step for the rest of my life.” For me it’s more like, “Alright. I’ve accomplished that. Now what!?” I’m always making little tweaks to make things better for myself. I also believe in a Power that is beyond what is just inside me and I’m constantly aware of signs that there is something higher at play than just the world we see with our eyes on a day-to-day basis. There is something out there and you don’t even have to give it a name. It’s just a light inside all of us that is working toward some greater good. Those themes are woven throughout.
5 – What’s the hardest song to sing off the new album?
“Inferno”. It’s so high. I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote it. Hah. Also, “The Stories We Tell Ourselves”. That song is pure raw emotion for me.
6 – How do you overcome performance anxiety?
Sometimes I’ll have a little bit of whiskey butI like to be pretty clear for the most part. I love being on stage, you kind of have to if you want to be in this business. There’s always a bit of a thought process beforehand though. I want the audience to enjoy themselves so I think about that. I get really silent within for a minute and just think about connecting with people like we are all old friends at a house party.
7 – Do you think artists should give their music away for free?
I think that if people knew how much money the artist put into making that music they would be more inclined to buy it. But people just don’t know. They aren’t aware of what went into that song. I don’t get upset about it or anything. “It is what it is.”But I do often think about how I can’t go into a restaurant and ask a chef to prepare me his favorite meal for free because he loves food and he’s good at it. I don’t go to a tire shop and ask my mechanic to work on my car for free just because he is passionate about automobiles. I don’t get free haircuts. Why? Because that person went through training and certification and hour after hour of perfecting their craft to make me look stylish. So isn’t it funny how it’s so different with music? MUSIC! The thing that every single person in the world loves, that can take you from sad to happy in an instant or transport you back to a time in your life that you remember fondly. For me, I look at it like this; I’m taken care of. Always. I always have enough. I get to do cool things and play my songs for people and that’s pretty cool. For me, it always comes back around. What I give, I get back.
8 – Everyone has a secret, What’s yours?
Everyone has multiple secrets but mine wouldn’t be secrets if I told you them now would they?
Exclusive Interview: Steven Jones On Lockdown & Writing “Shedding My Skin”
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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Tyler Okun Reveals What His Music Is All About + New EP ‘The City’ In Interview
Music has been the focal point of Tyler Okun’s entire life. He has the ability to easily convey his feelings through relatable songs that touch your soul. Not for nothing, his debut EP, ‘The City’ is full sincere emotions and contemporary melodies for your pleasure. Tyler wishes to impact the world positively and bring smiles to those who listen. Learn more about his amazing music below.
1 — Who are your musical influences?
Growing up, I was exposed to many artists from the 70s/80s, so I’d consider that my backbone for influences. But since then I’ve grown to really appreciate Pop and Alternative. I’d say my main influences are Green Day, The 1975, Troye Sivan, and Tom Misch.
2 — Why do you have a special interest in guitar-based music?
I was introduced to the guitar when I was five years old when my aunt bought me a beginner acoustic guitar. Naturally, I was drawn to music that I could play along with. Some of my earliest memories include strumming along to concerts playing on my TV.
3 — How would you describe your signature sound?
I play into what people would consider “Pop” sensibilities. However, with each song, I try to find a cool way to integrate other genres into that Pop sound. Take “Basic” for example, I had this really awesome baseline in my head, as well as a really catchy hook, and then I and my producer decided it would be crazy to add giant 80’s style synths and a trap-style drum pattern. And it just worked.
Absolutely. I find songwriting to be a very cathartic experience because there’s been huge highs and lows in my life. Putting it to lyrics is my way of communicating it to everyone so that I can get the gratification of knowing at least one person who hears this song has gone through the experiences I write about and can relate.
5 — What subjects do you prefer to explore in your songs?
Writing about love was my way of writing songs. The first song I’ve ever written “Serenity” was my way of explaining such a powerful emotion. Since then though, my songs have evolved into territories like empowerment, dancing, heartbreak, and even depression and anxiety.
6 — You just released a new EP, titled ‘The City’. What does this project mean to you?
For the majority of my time actually making music, I was writing acoustic songs and never even considered what I’d do with a larger sound. That all changed when I started working with my producer, Matt “Malto” Loss. We spent so many hours just trying anything possible in the makeshift studio in his basement. This EP is displaying my new sound that I was able to find while recording there. This sound feels more like me, more fun, and just plain awesome.
7 — Which is your favorite song from this material? Why?
I’d have to say the title track “The City”. It’s just so fun, and it just gives me so much energy every time I hear it. I was able to really shred my guitar and pull off some really high notes with my vocals. I think it’s the perfect way to get people ready for what’s to come with the rest of the EP.
8 — Are you open to remixes? If so, what are the requirements?
Definitely! Requirements would be just to have fun with it and present my song in a new, interesting way! Side-note, I really dig electronic remixes so I’d be really curious to see what an electronic specific artist could do with my stuff.
Playing my music wherever I can, and spreading positivity with it, I think the world really needs that right now. And who knows? I’ve got a lot of plans for more future releases!
10 — Finally, what’s the best career advice you’ve received as an artist?
Honestly, I’d have to go with my Dad’s classic phrase “Knock ‘em dead!”, his way of saying to just give it all I’ve got. He has always believed in me from day one. From the first time I performed anywhere till now, my Dad would always say that phrase to me before I’d start anything. So in everything I do, I go into it hearing him saying that to me, and I know I’ve given it my all.
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Lailien Talks His Gigi D’Agostino Cover + More In Interview
Meet the magician of music, Brad Shubat aka Lailen. Carried away by his great creativity and imagination, he gives new life to Gigi D’Agostino’s classic “Fly With You”, which is featured in the crime thriller Uncut Gems. Known for experimenting with electronic music, pop, and rock, you can learn more about how he works and much more in this exclusive interview.
1 – First of all, what made you want to do a cover of one the greatest hits of Gigi D’Agostino?
In the words of my collaborator and co-singer Ruby Perl, the song is divine! We both love the song, including its many other formal iterations of covers and remixes. We had just finished our version when I heard it play at the end of the new Safdie brothers’ film Uncut Gems, soundtracked by Oneohtrix Point Never, so I knew the stars had aligned for sure!
2 – What’s the new perspective you want to bring with this cover?
Every artist brings their own peculiar idiosyncrasies to a cover if they’re doing something interesting and I felt that the generosity of this tune was still far from exhausted in its sonic possibilities. Primarily we wanted to take it into new stratospheres of playfulness and jubilation.
3 – Which is your favorite lyrics’ line on “Fly With You”? Why?
“I still believe in your eyes, I just don’t care what you’ve done in your life”
It’s so powerfully eloquent. A perfect encapsulation of the prospect of innocence at religious depths of profundity expressed through common phenomenological beauty, the eyes being windows into the soul.
4 – What do you use in your studio when producing these types of tunes?
Lots of various equipment and software, including Ableton, Logic Pro, Omnisphere, Native Instruments, UAD plugins, Waves plugin package, a Neumann M147 mic, Gibson Les Paul guitar, Music Man sub-bass and more!
I do think it’s very important. Humans exude technological extensions of our imaginations and studio equipment provides a basis for catalyzing new possibilities. I will say though that one can have all the most expensive equipment in the world and still not make anything interesting if the creative spirit isn’t properly attuned.
6 – Besides producing the catchy beats, did you also record your own vocals for this track?
Yes, and here I have to give a massive shoutout to producer and all-around brilliant musician Mark Zubek who was absolutely crucial and essential on this track. All my songs are recorded with him at his Zedd Records studio in Toronto.
7 – Who is the singer that collaborates with you on this cover?
Ruby Perl. She is such a beautiful soul and was the driving force behind this particular song’s creation. This is actually her first professionally recorded tune so I’m super psyched by her performance and what’s to come next!
8 – Are you planning to release more covers or remixes in the near future? If so, tell us more.
Not currently, but I do have a lot of original material coming out soon, including several videos!
9 – Where do you usually find inspiration?
There’s a poet friend of mine named Michael Boughn who told me he believes in perspiration over inspiration. That always stuck — putting in a consistent work effort regardless of the day to day fluxes of motivation. Thankfully though I do find myself inspired most of the time regardless, especially by what other musicians are making, the poetry I read, and the love of creating in general.
10 – Do you believe the electronic music scene will evolve after the pandemic ends?
The pandemic will definitely have an impact, but not in some homogenized, congealed manner. I expect an ongoing proliferation of diverse and nuanced artistic practices to reverberate and emerge. Life constraints have always informed and propelled creative agency, sometimes in paradoxically nurturing ways, so if anything I hope it brings further compassion, respect, and appreciation to artists in general which in turn blossoms into magnificent new works.
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Exclusive Interview: Ronni Zag Talks New Single, “No Me Llames”
If you like Latin Pop and Reggaeton, you must discover more about this up-and-coming artist called Ronni Zag. Charismatic, passionate, creative, and visionary are the best words that describe his personality. You can expect a high dose of energy with his next single, “No Me Llames”, out on June 26th.
Ronni is available to help indie producers with his technical feedback and further input via Instagram. Scroll down to read this exclusive interview.
1 – You’ve been composing songs since…
I have been composing music for quite a long time, since 2007. Even though I didn’t know much about composing then, however, my passion for music helped me to progress with rapid improvement. There is a saying “if you love what you are doing difficulty gets out of your way”.
2 – You got involved in the music realm because…
I got involved in the music realm since I was born in a family where both of my parents were also into this cultural activity. Luckily enough, this became my influence from an early age and I’m so happy about it.
3 – Your sound is…
Since the “sound aspect” is something that changes through the years depending on the progress and my influence, I cannot answer this question directly, but what I can say with certainty is that the main characteristic of my sound is between Latin Pop and Reggaeton with summery vibes. I also love the Spanish language hence the song “No Me Llames”.
4 – Your biggest inspiration is…
My biggest inspiration is traveling to places that I have never been before and exploring other countries’ cultures.
5 – What was the most difficult times in your life…
The most difficult time in my life was when I was pretty much “sentenced” by medical experts that I will live the rest of my life with an excruciating back pain. “You will have it for life” they said. To their surprise, I managed to not only get over it forever but people around me could never believe what was happening. After those dark days of my life, I feel that if I could manage to overcome that difficulty (which seems impossible at the time) then anything else is pretty much doable. That works out as a motivation for me as well.
6 – People should listen to your new single “No Me Llames” because…
If you ever caught yourself dancing in a club just to find later that this happened because of a catchy hook that was playing, that is the reason you should listen to “No Me Llames”. The catchy rhythm and melody make the song memorable to your mind which is a vital part of any hit song these days.
7 – If you want to know who Ronni Zag is, listen to the track…
Some of the songs that represent the style of Ronni Zag are “Mi Gente” from JBalvin and Willy William + “Bailando” from Enrique Iglesias.
8 – Your most memorable career moment so far has been…
One of the most memorable moments of my journey is when I worked as a sound designer on vital-audio.com. This helps me see things more clear so I can have a bird’s eye view when I make music.
9 – Your dream is…
My dream is to live in Bali-Indonesia away from any distraction so I can write music living in a place full of inspiration and exotic beaches. That gives me a tremendous amount of appetite for making music and gets me in the zone of creation and abundance.
10 – Your next release is called…
The title of my next release has a name that I am not aware of it yet. I want to create music as I get the inspiration and not preschedule releases heavily just for the sake of releasing music. Prescheduling releases can lead to a lot of issues regarding the quality of the music.
11 – Your all-time favourite track is…
This is definitely an answer that includes a big list of tracks but one of them is “Reggaeton Lento” by CNCO.
12 – Your favourite place to write songs is…
My favorite place to write a song is when I go to places out of my everyday activity or my routine (whether this is vacations or anything else that can make me recharge my energy). My creativity mode gets wild and I can tap into ideas that I could never imagine I can come up with.
13 – You’ll only stop making music if…
I would say a reason that could be an obstacle for me to stop writing music is some kind of a serious health condition as I already had one, but thankfully enough I made it all the way through and now I am stronger than ever.
15 – What are you doing for the rest of the day?
I love reading personal development books as it can help me stay on track with every aspect of my life. What I also like is working out regularly and staying fit.
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A Daydream Person Talks New Single “Down In Flames” — Interview
A Daydream Person is probably our favorite emerging producer from South Korea. Discover his catchy Nu-Disco single, “Down In Flames” and the meaning behind it. Without a doubt, his creative energy reflects personal and intimate emotions. Scroll down to read this interesting interview!
1 – I really enjoyed your new single “Down In Flames”. What was the inspiration behind it?
After experiencing countless disappointing relationships, I realized people used me and pretended that they’re nice. I tried my best to make the relationship get better, but didn’t get anything back. Sometimes I punished myself and told myself that it wouldn’t have happened if I was a more attractive person. All these are about my collapsed self-esteem.
2 – Musically speaking, what sets you apart from other artists?
I like to talk about my own self-esteem. When I talk about my self-esteem in my music, which is not too good, not too bad, a lot of people feel it and relate to it. I just realize that there are lots of people that feel the same as me. These days are such a hard time for everyone. People always have to struggle with failures and obstacles. I want to share some feelings with them through my genuine honest vibe. So I think what makes me so special compare to other artists is ‘being honest, real and not pretending’. However, I still root for all artists living around in this desolate world.
3 – What’s the music scene like in Seoul? Is Nu-Disco popular?
Originally in Korea, I think because of ‘Han(한)’, which is kind of feeling refers to deep sadness that can’t be expressed easily if at all, gentle soft music like ballad was so popular. But as K-pop just appeared in the world and developed so fast, we started to get used to electronic music. And after UMF settled down in Korea, music like Big Room and EDM got so popular.
Some people switched their taste into Hip-Hop. I heard there is a growing number of people that actually enjoy the ‘Nu-Disco’ genre, but I guess when I introduce myself as a Nu-Disco artist people wouldn’t know what that is. A genre of music? or cookie brand? They just consider it music that’s usually played by street shops or some cool restaurant.
No, I don’t think so. K-pop is just only a kind of music, but a huge system or culture. So it seems like many artists that don’t play K-pop think it’s not just their barrier anymore, they just try to cooperate with it. But you know, the position of K-pop is so huge that many musicians are reluctant to try different genres of music and some even just give up.
5 – Whose idea was the use of falsettos on this track?
Basically it’s Marcus’ idea. Actually, I didn’t know he was such an amazing vocalist until I first heard his track on SoundCloud and suggested to work together. Later, I listened to another track of him, and wow this guy is talented and his falsetto was amazing, so I started mastering right away. I highly recommend you listen to this music. It SLAPS.
6 – How much participation MxRCUS ALEXIS had in the creative process of this song?
Marcus made lyrics and melodies for the music. Originally, I was going to write the lyrics, but when I received the guide melody before the lyrics were completed, I thought it would be better if he writes the lyrics, not me. So I suggested only the overall direction and he worked on the specific part.
7 – Who is “Down In Flames” dedicated to?
I’d like to dedicate this song to the girl who pretended to be a nice and kind girl on the outside, who was in fact quite the opposite, who lives in Gangnam and likes working out. (She even stole my clothes.)
8 – What’s the message you want to get out with it?
Rather than trying to convey a message to those who live their life pretending to be nice people, which is not true, I just wanted to reveal my
thoughts in the most confident and legal way I could. Actually there’s no place in the world to talk about my innermost thoughts as we think it would be.
Actually, I want to make a music video, too. However, I am worried that the quality won’t be as high as I expected, and it is not easy in reality because of the epidemic situations. I’m going to try it when it gets better. Also I aim to release the EP/album within the next year. Hopefully, I don’t get lazy.
10 – Besides music, what else makes you feel happy?
I’m a foodie. I love going out to grab something so yummy. But these days, as you know, I can’t really go out so I just need to settle for delivering food. I guess you guys would think pizza or chicken, but in Korea you can deliver all the food you can think of. Even ice cream and steak.
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