Recently, Olga Alex released an amazing remix of her hit single “Holdin’ On (Love I Feel).” She joined forces with leading international DJ/Producer Robbie Rivera and the results exceed expectations. As a matter of fact, it has been featured at the Top 50 Progressive House Charts. In this special interview, you’ll discover interesting details about the singer’s music and career.
1 — First of all, what got you interested in music initially?
Music has always been my biggest passion. I can’t even imagine how my life would be without it. I never looked at my music as a “business” per se. I just follow my heart and do everything I can to deliver my message through the music I create.
2 — Was your family or friends supportive of your career choice?
My career started when I began to sing for my mother. She really enjoyed it but kept criticizing me trying to make me better at my craft, which I of course took the wrong way. She is really one of my biggest supporters. We live on different continents but still speak daily. She is always listening to my new music, gives me her thoughts on my ideas, and watches my Instagram videos before I post them publicly. I really value her opinions and advice. My close friends are all from the same scene. Years ago, we were all in a reality show, and formed a girl band called, “R&B Girls.” It was years ago, but I still remember it as if it were yesterday. The project gained much notoriety within the industry. We were on MTV Russia and even posed for the magazine Playboy there. We have since remained very close friends, and are always super present in each other’s lives and personal music careers. They are very supportive of me in my career choice but I can honestly say I didn’t choose this career, it chose me. This is my life, and it is who I am.
I am very focused on my music career at the moment. Modeling is really just number two. Music demands my full attention, and I wouldn’t have it any other way actually. The Lafayette team has been amazing. They set a very high standard for me and really push me to be my best. The songwriting and the whole recording process is very time-consuming. It really doesn’t leave me much time for much else. People think my life is fun, and music is so glamorous. The truth is there is a lot of hard work that goes behind what I do. The fun part happens when I am satisfied with the end result, which isn’t all that often. I always try to challenge myself to become better. I work until I reach that point where I can say, okay this is it and then I can move on to the next thing. As far as modeling goes, I just recently worked with Vikram Pathak, one of the greats in the photography world, to shoot album covers for my newest releases. What a blast, that was. I am also asked to perform for New York Fashion Week each year, and use this stage as a way to premier my new music. There really weren’t many events in 2020 though due to the pandemic, hopefully, this year will bring new, exciting, and positive things.
4 — Is your music style influenced by your homeland?
No, actually. Not so much. I am a club junkie. I would frequent the hottest clubs in Russia often, but it’s funny. They would only play House tracks from the West. Some of my first records were all electro club stuff, which was very mainstream in Russia back then, and all in English: “One Second”, “No Panic”, “Gorgeous”, and so on. The first two were added in heavy rotation to all of the modern radio stations over there. I released then under my early-stage monikers: Diva Rhys Meyers and Magdalena G. I started to use my real name, Olga Alex, only when I began to make music in the US. My production team actually persuaded me to do it. Olga is my real first name, and Alex is a shortened version of my last name, Alexandrova. Funny enough, I actually recorded my very first Russian song in New York by my publisher’s request. It was called, “Crossroads.” We premiered it in the American TV series, “Shameless,” and it was then picked up by Amazon’s “Romanoffs.” That has been my only record in Russian. I am proud beyond words to be here and to be a part of this US culture. It feels like home to me. The last time I traveled, upon my return home to New York, a female customs agent greeted me and welcomed me back home. She was right, I was back home.
5 — Are you vocally trained or is it an all-natural talent?
I never attended a music school, if this is what you mean by trained. I did take lessons from academically trained singers and teachers here and there, and tune in to Seth Riggs online when I have the time. Today, is a different story though. I work with my producers constantly and they really have an influence in my work and sound. I do like to do things my own way though. I prefer to put my heart into my work and sing from my soul. I like to do it my own way.
6 — How would you describe the sounds of your latest single “Holdin’on (Love I Feel)”?
That’s an interesting story actually as to how that song came about. What happened was, my songwriter friends from Sweden, Alex Jamal and Tomas Grangryd, wrote a song called “Fighting The Urge To Breathe” for me. It was a mainstream successful record, and is out there on all the usual platforms. The mechanics behind the record though were very complex- tons of vocals, lots of background lines, ad libs, and so on. I was approached often for remixes, so I made the record a bit more club friendly, more stripped down. I took the main lyric line from that song, and wrote a completely different melody around it- darker, more provocative, and intriguing. I could immediately tell that this version really resonated with the DJ’s. Cortney Callanan, a friend and label partner of LFS Records, immediately took notice of the track, signed it, and starting commissioning remixes right away. I can always tell when she believes in a project, because she just doesn’t hesitate. She never looks back. I just knew it was going to be amazing, when I listened to the very first mix we received completed by producer Jody Vukas. The bass was pumping so hard it blew me away. I then added a few more ad lib vocals, and the rest was history. The remix package on the record and talent we had work on it was truly legendary: James Anthony, VTONE, Saeed Younan, Eddie Baez, and Robbie Rivera really turned my words into something very special. I hear many people say it sounds like a record from the ‘90s. It’s funny to me, because I know LFS records prides itself on creating this type of sound. I was too young though at that time, and can’t really understand the reference. The song just came out naturally. It is currently charting worldwide on hundreds of shows, and being added daily. I am so floored.
7 — What did you learn by collaborating with the one and only Robbie Rivera?
Robbie is an amazing producer who really thinks outside of the box. His remix is very innovative and Avant Garde to say the least. For me, the best part of the mix was the harmony he created so easily with elements I wasn’t even aware of! He really worked from the heart. You can just tell, and that’s something we truly have in common. Don’t be afraid to go where your heart takes you. Just go there, don’t question it, because the result will be something so powerful and amazing you’d never be able to recreate it again. His mix was very unique and independent from my idea of the traditional mix. He created something completely different, and I feel blessed for the opportunity to work with him..
It’s about a relationship where love meets imagination. The girl drowns in her feelings so deep that it scares her, and she feels like she is in trouble initially. Her emotions take her breathe away. She then regains control, and is able to hold on. It’s definitely a very optimistic track besides being so dark in the beginning.
9 — Do you have a favorite place to sit and write lyrics?
You know, I commute a lot so I use every opportunity to write – whether it’s a bus, or a train, or a park or just a line in the supermarket. I start by compiling my ideas first, and then organize and put everything together completely when I get to the studio. I finish it with music. I was eating lunch with a friend in a restaurant one day, and pulled out my pen and pad because I was hit with inspiration all of a sudden. We ended up sitting there writing a song over margaritas. One of my favorite spots to write is actually on a plane when I travel. The solitude and aloneness are deafening, and it always brings me to that place. The one where my pen just takes off and tells a story.
10 — What can listeners expect from Olga Alex in 2021?
You know, that’s a good question. I have records that are almost done, so we will probably release those, and I really cannot wait to perform again. I miss my audience. I have many new ideas to develop, and I need this connection to grow them organically. I feel very optimistic about this year. It’s like we all transitioned to a new society this past year. We took too long a journey. We have been through too much hurt and pain, and learned from those mistakes. There is now a new sense of hope for us all. 2021 will be a break-through year, especially for us creatives, and I cannot wait!
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Exclusive Interview: Paul Mayson Delves Into His Debut Album ‘One Life’
Paul Mayson‘s first-ever album, ‘One Life,’ is like a special mix of his love for House music, blended with different kinds of sounds and cool collaborations from artists all over the world. You definitely don’t want to miss this interview!
1 — With the release of your debut album ‘One Life,’ what are your expectations for how listeners will connect with the music?
My goal was to showcase my story and my sound. And for it to be an uplifting, positive, and summery album. Hopefully, it feels like that! It’s a collection of songs made at the moment, to make you feel happy and free. It’s about embracing life, the good things and the bad. And about doing what makes you happy.
2 — You’ve teamed up with a diverse range of international artists on this material. Please let us know how these collaborations came to be.
It was really exciting taking elements from different genres, working with a group of great artists who come from very different backgrounds, and bringing all of these sounds and flavors together on one project. A lot of artists I meet myself, reach out to the people I’m interested in. I often travel abroad to work on music together and do sessions in London or LA. Sometimes collabs can also happen through the label or the publisher, but ultimately it’s great to have an artist-to-artist relationship.
3 – What compelled you to emphasize the themes of life, freedom, and diversity in this album?
I’m very passionate about House music culture and the way it started. Which was all about positivity and celebrating life together. I love that message and think the soulful, feel-good element of House music is what always really attracted me to the genre. And to music in general, including other genres like Soul and RnB.
A few of the songs (like “Tell Me How” and “I Want You”) were basically made during one big jam session. It’s me just trying out completely different sounds, textures, and rhythms and experimenting with live drums, guitars, and whatever I feel like. Letting go of any rules connected to dance music allows for a really fresh approach to the album songs.
6 – How does the artwork complement the album’s concept?
It emphasizes the feel-good element and the overall message of the album. Life is in front of you, it’s there for the taking. You’re in the hallway, step into the light and embrace life.
7 – Will there be another amazing music video like “Have It All,” dropping in the near future?
We released a really cool art piece and visualizer for the album which I’m very excited about!
8 – Given your ambition to push boundaries within the Dance genre, do you think the bunch of producers already out there could make it tough for you to really stand out?
I think individuality is key. Doing something you’re passionate about. Telling your own story. If you go into that process, the outcome will be unique. Not following trends and doing my own thing is what helps me stand out and allows me to be ahead and I try to keep pushing myself.
9 – Among your studio essentials, what’s the item that you consider the cornerstone of your setup?
Quite a lot of my work is digital. I carry my laptop around and can produce and write anywhere with it, whether it’s my home studio, the studio in Amsterdam, a hotel, or even an airport. That’s what makes it flexible and international! Just being able to work anywhere and get the creative process going. At home I also love my Adam A77x monitors and I also use a Prophet synth.
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Exploring “My Friends”: Tobtok Talks Creative Process And More!
In this exclusive interview, Swedish producer Tobtok discusses all the details about his latest single as part of the ongoing countdown to the upcoming ‘My Friends’ EP. This is a collaborative effort with farfetch’d that you definitely shouldn’t overlook.
1 — Congratulations on the release of “My Friends.” Please tell us more about the influences and musical style that shaped this cool track.
Thanks! This tune has taken inspiration from bits and pieces of tracks I’ve been into over the last 10 years, everything from Daft Punk to Fred Again. It contains a lot of micro samples and vocal lines that are in a similar vein as old French House records, but we also wanted to experiment with the current UK rave sound, which we think ended up in a pretty unique and interesting way.
2 — How did you and farfetch’d navigate the creative process together, especially when faced with differing ideas or disagreements?
We were kind of on the same page with most things to be fair. Jerry from farfetch’d is a very creative guy and he loves to bash out new ideas, which worked well for me to develop into full songs. We worked on every track together in my studio and finished them off together. Of course, we had some different ideas about certain things but since none of us had a big ego, we just compromised. I think when you like the same kind of music, you usually think quite alike.
3 — What sets this collaboration apart from your previous singles?
I think this is possibly the strongest single from the EP. It feels catchy and is super simple yet not too boring. It also has Jerry’s voice in it which is unique to any other of our tracks.
4 — Can you share any funny anecdotes about specific moments while crafting “My Friends”?
We have hidden a few wacky voice notes in it as a sort of ambiance. It can be heard in the second verse or whatever you wanna call it. You clearly hear Jerry laughing about something, but I can’t remember what it was.
It’s track no.3 from our ‘My Friends’ EP which has a total of 6 tracks. It was released via Perfect Havoc on 29th September.
6 — What are your emotions when your music receives recognition and praise from other producers in the industry?
It’s always so much fun to get praise from your peers and colleagues. These people live and breathe music and probably hear way more stuff than the average listener, so I guess they tend to be less impressed by music.
Haha most definitely. I started out with French House which evolved into Nu-Disco. I later jumped on the Tropical House train (quite early on in my defense). Left that and tried something cooler with my track “ABER,” and from there, it’s been more of a mix between UK and Deep House.
8 — Is there any specific music genre you’re eager to explore?
Old School Disco and Soul. I’m a big fan of the 70s as a whole, that’s why I’ve bought a few vintage Roland pieces in my studio and a Rhodes Piano.
9 — Considering the global nature of music today, are there any international artists you’d love to collaborate with?
I love Jungle right now, for reasons made quite obvious in the previous question. They’ve mastered this cool retro 70’s/Motown sound and yet managed to make it sound fresh somehow. I’d love to just hang out in the studio with them and see what they do.
10 — As we conclude, do you feel that there’s a certain formula that artists can follow to produce chart-topping hits?
Nowadays, it’s all about doing something that stands out from what everyone else is doing and probably also adding a sprinkle of nostalgia and familiarity into something. A good example is the new Peggy Gou record which is a massive hit that takes inspiration from ATB but puts it in a new and interesting context. It doesn’t hurt to have a massive TikTok following either lol.
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From Drummer To EDM Producer: Kouss Opens Up About “Can’t Go Back”
You must read this interview with Kouss! He used to rock it as a badass drummer in the Stellar Revival band, but now he’s spilling the beans about how he switched things up and got into making electronic dance music (EDM). The spotlight is now on his latest track, “Can’t Go Back.” Learn more here.
1 — Putting your sound into words, how would you convey the mood and sensations that your music evokes to someone unfamiliar with it?
My music aims to be an uplifting and thoughtful blend of Progressive House and Dance-Pop. Even though the music is very dancefloor-friendly, the songwriting is very Pop-forward. I also love mixing live instrumentation with electronic production to create layered recordings. As a drummer, having live elements mesh with the electronic really brings out a unique texture.
2 — Your transition from Rock music with Stellar Revival to EDM is quite remarkable. Can you tell us more about it?
The transition from Rock to EDM is an exciting and natural creative evolution. I’ve always been passionate about electronic music, so finally being able to fully immerse myself in the genre as a producer and songwriter has been fulfilling. My background as a touring Rock drummer also gives me a unique musical sensibility that I try to incorporate into Kouss Records.
3 — As a drummer, you had to adapt to a different genre. How did you translate your rhythmic background into this new realm?
When approaching any genre, especially Dance music, I’m utilizing my background in percussion to create grooves and drum patterns. The drum parts still come from the same creative place whether I’m sitting behind a drum set or drawing with a MIDI controller. I will say that with EDM I find myself focused more on groove and restraint.
4 — In what ways have Illenium, Zedd, and David Guetta played a role in shaping the sound of your new single “Can’t Go Back”?
Illenium, Zedd, and David Guetta definitely influenced the melodic and atmospheric vibes in “Can’t Go Back.” Their music motivates and challenges me to produce massive soundscapes on the highest level. They’re all melodic magicians, and I continue to be inspired by their work. I also feel like I put my own spin on “Can’t Go Back.” It’s almost like the line between EDM and Pop became blurrier on this track.
5 — What’s the story behind the song title?
“Can’t Go Back” is generally about moving forward and not dwelling on the past. For me personally, it’s about evolving as an artist and person.
I was introduced to Anna soon after starting the Kouss project by “Can’t Go Back” co-producer and dear friend Phil Barnes. The second I heard Anna sing I knew I wanted to work with her. She’s an incredible songwriter and an awesome human. It was an organic collaboration that we’re both stoked about. Definitely be on the lookout for more collaborations with Anna in the future!
7 — How do you aim to connect with listeners on an emotional level through this single?
I aim to connect with listeners on an emotional level through the authenticity and musicality of “Can’t Go Back.” It’s about delivering that special feeling to the listener. We crafted this recording from a place of passion as artists. The lyrics are relatable and cathartic, and Anna’s vocals draw you into this sonic world we created. We also tap into some nostalgia with the Big Room House vibe. But overall the goal was to give listeners an authentic musical experience that resonates with them, regardless of what genre they usually listen to.
Yes, “Can’t Go Back” mixes electronic production with live drumming and live guitars. The live instruments give the song a dynamic texture and human feel. Not every Kouss song will have live instruments, but it’s definitely a major part of the debut EP coming in 2024.
9 — Looking ahead, how do you envision your music style evolving?
I want to continue bridging the gap between organic and electronic. Creatively, I think there’s a lot of meat on that bone. I also don’t want to limit myself to a single genre or style. I love all types of music and ultimately hope to develop a sound that draws from those diverse influences and experiences.
10 — Lastly, reflecting on your journey so far, what’s been the most memorable or rewarding moment of your music career?
Working with talented musicians and creators who are excited about my music has been humbling and inspiring. I didn’t expect it, but the reaction to “Can’t Go Back” has been both unexpected and validating. It’s so cool to see the song played in clubs, gyms, and cars. I’m truly fortunate to share my passion for music and connect with listeners who share the same passion.