Originally from Maryland but now kickin’ it in South Florida, Niel Degas has been in the game since 2010, and we had a rad chat with him about his upcoming drop called “Braveheart,” set to hit on July 28th. You can pre-order this release right here, so don’t miss out!
1 — As a versatile artist who enjoys blending different genres, how does “Braveheart” compare to your previous work?
It’s hard to compare, but I guess I took a little more subtle approach on this one than I did with one of my previous releases “Sahara” (It’s the Vibe) with Dan Diamond which was an Electro House track with a heavy Arabic influence. I listen to pretty much everything under the sun and pull a bit of inspiration from all of it.
I have been told that some people can hear some of my Rock and Metal stylings from my early music career within my songs as well. Although a lot of it is trial, error, and not everything works out like the tracks I mentioned and have put out, but I feel like the experimentation helps keep me creative and fresh.
To keep long with the blending theme, I am working on a track right now that’s a bit of a combination of Techno and Future Rave, and I also want to pull some from my locale of Miami, Florida, and do something Caribbean/Reggeaton influence, something whether it be straight Reggeaton/House or Merengue/House. I am unsure as of yet, but sure it will come to me. As for versatility, I have made Hip-Hop beats for people currently finishing up a Dancehall/Reggaeton fusion project for a friend of mine, and even have a Drum and Bass side project I am developing.
And at the end of the day, music is about feelings and emotions no matter which side of the coin you are on, artist or listener. After all “it’s a vibe.”
2 — What was your inspiration while working on this new single?
I was listening to some classic House and a bit of Tech House at the time and was thinking about what would happen if I tried to make those styles bigger. I started with the drums and the swing percussion and built the rest of the track around that, also thought it would be cool to have a little bit of a fake-out build right before the vocals came in.
3 — Can you shed light on the equipment, instruments, or software utilized to craft this track?
On the original version I used a combo of hardware and software, generally a hardware guy but software can be a little more versatile. For this track, the drums were a combo of Dave Smith Tempest and Maschine. Pianos/basses/pads Komplete, and synths Massive X and a Yamaha Modx. Sequenced within Studio One.
Slightly, I have gotten into Future Rave lately but believe music is about emotions, feelings, and being in the moment and they do not always follow trends.
5 — In which locations did you compose this song and where were the recording sessions carried out?
The composition happened in my home studio based just outside of Miami, Florida. The vocals were recorded in L.A. at Scarletts studio. The Internet is a wonderful thing, being able to collaborate with people all over the world.
Really all I could ask for or hope for rather is for it to hit that one person who just needs that powerful positive message about staying true to yourself and not letting people puppet you around or dictate your life for you, especially in this day and age. If it does more than that great but that was always the goal for this track.
7 — Tell us more about how you connected with other producers for the remixes. What steps did you take?
I met Dark Intensity during Miami Music Week and hung out with him a bit at the EDMA’s from there we developed a friendship. I sent him over a bit of the raw cut of “Braveheart” to get some feedback on it, and after listening to it, he expressed his interest in hitting a remix, originally I wasn’t 100% sold on having remixes done on this track even though I like his work but he ended up sharing a preview of his idea and was floored, from there I was like if there’s going to be one remix might as well get a few more done, so asked my friend/co-collaborator and Arietis Records artist Ricardo Geldres if he wanted to hit a take on it, he and I had a few late nights Zoom calls working on it, lol. The Original “Braveheart”, Dark Intensity’s, and Ricardo’s were so big I decided to hit a little more subtle take with my V.I.P. remix. As for the Block and Crown remix that was a bonus surprise mix brought on from Tazmania Records.
8 — Could you pick a favorite one among them?
That’s hard because I feel they all turned out great, and they all have their strong points like Ricardo’s second drop is epic, the piano melody in Dark Intensity’s is so pretty I am a sucker for some great piano, the good old House groove Block and Crown through down is jamming, and, of course, the original love that those big kicks paired well with the swing percussion and the synths and Scarletts vocals. If I had to pick one though I think it would have to be my V.I.P. remix love that chill vibe with her vocals and how it plays well together.
9 — Are you open to the idea of bringing your tunes to life through music videos?
I have a music video in the works for this release, won’t be out on release day, but not long after. And I do have a few music videos out on other releases just not everyone as of now.
10 — Finally, what is the most valuable advice you have ever received, and how has it influenced your music career?
Many moons ago, back when I was a Metalhead and musician, a friend of mine told me sometimes you have to reinvent yourself, to me that meant keeping an open mind while staying true to yourself if I didn’t receive that advice, I highly doubt I would be sitting here talking to you right now.
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For Retro Synth Lovers: Nomad Navi Talks All Things “Blood Moon”
In this in-depth interview, Nomad Navi divulges the most important details regarding his Synthwave gem “Blood Moon,” a collab with Calivania. Retro synth lovers will find much to appreciate in the artist’s insights.
1 — There are strong and effective song titles, and “Blood Moon” is no exception. Are there any juicy details about why this one is called that?
The song originally didn’t have a title when I sent the track over to Calvinia. It was after hearing her amazing lyrics that I chose “Blood Moon” to be the title.
2 — What elements give “Blood Moon” its nostalgic yet futuristic vibe?
The power chords, bright melody, and drum programming are the key elements that give the 80s futuristic vibe
3 — What do you hope listeners feel or experience when listening?
I want to put the listener in the driver’s seat of an ’80s action movie with underlying themes of escapism.
4 — How did the collaboration with Calivania come about for this song?
I had reached out to some of my producer friends with the instrumental to get their feedback. One of my good friends in the group reached out and asked me if I’d be interested in doing a feature with Calivania and I of course was interested.
5 — In what ways do you perceive this track differing from your previous releases?
For this particular track, I dove more into the Synthwave vibe.
I look towards Gesaffelstein and Lorn for their ability to really create dark-sounding landscapes as well as Synthwave artists such as Power Glove and Carpenter Brut.
7 — Can you share the story behind your interest in retro synthesizers?
I’ve always gravitated towards keyboards and pianos when I was little. As I learned more about production I began to deconstruct my favorite songs, a few of them being from the 80s period. Through those songs’ deconstruction, I familiarized myself with the synths that were used.
I guess from a sonic aspect I really like the sounds from retro synths because of the nostalgia you can draw from them. I think hearing a sound from the past is effective in creating bridges between a past self and the present self.
8 — Do you have a favorite brand of synthesizer that you find yourself gravitating towards?
I have a Korg Minilogue XD which is so fun to play with. The sounds that come with it are phenomenal and require me to be more intentional with how the sounds fit in my tracks. Separately, I don’t have one yet but I am also a big fan of the Moog sounds.
9 — What advice do you have for aspiring synthesizer enthusiasts looking to explore this aspect of music creation?
Do your research! Don’t go and buy hardware just because you saw one video of someone doing an amazing session. Watch tutorials, unboxing videos, etc to really understand if the gear is going to bring a lot of value to your production. It doesn’t hurt to visit synth stores to try out the gear before you buy either.
10 — Is there an album or more collaborations in the works?
There is definitely something coming down the line. The future is bright. 😉
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Decoding The Lyrics Of Luchi’s Heartbreaking Song “Fix This Love”
With his emotional and heartbreaking song “Fix This Love,” singer-songwriter Luchi shares his innermost feelings regarding the challenge of helping a loved one from addiction. In this intimate interview, he opens up about the personal experiences that inspired the song’s haunting lyrics as well as his hopes for bringing greater understanding to the impacts of this complex condition.
1 — What prompted you to write this new heartbreaking song, “Fix This Love”?
This song was one of those 3 AM, sitting by my keyboard songs that just poured out of me. I have someone close to me who suffers from addiction and they just couldn’t seem to get a grasp on recovery.
This was my way of getting out how I felt about the situation without blowing up at them because I didn’t want to bring all my feelings towards the situation at that point. I wasn’t eating, sleeping, my life was turned upside down.
The song is the sister song to my last single Mountain which was about the addict’s journey whereas “Fix This Love” shows my side of the story and how addiction doesn’t just destroy the addict’s life, it destroys the lives of people around them too.
It is like emotional torture watching someone you care about destroy their lives and every effort you make to help them doesn’t work. I wanted to release them back to back so that people could see both sides of the illness. I really hope these two songs shine a light on an often misunderstood illness and we learn to have more understanding through it.
2 — I’ve noticed interesting vivid metaphors in your lyrics. Is that a deliberate creative choice, or does it naturally emerge during your songwriting?
This song just came out of me so they weren’t deliberate, they were just what came out of this brain of mine. I have spent a lot of time expanding my vocabulary as I wasn’t the most academic child in school and I think that has helped a lot too but if I’m honest, that has always been part of my songwriting even when I started at 13.
I’ve always loved having interesting ways of saying things as you want to be different and stand out. It was like with my song “Losing My Mind” released in January, the opening line was “me and tears ain’t strangers” and I just loved that line as a way of saying I’ve known a lot of pain in my life.
I even titled the whole EP after it. These kinds of lines just come to my mind so I guess I am lucky. I try to stay away from being too metaphorical though as sometimes it can be a bit much and the listener can lose the message of the song so a few are thrown in there to spice it up with the rest of the lyrics being more direct and clear is what I think works best.
That’s a hard one to answer. I do believe in second chances but you both have to be willing to have difficult conversations and a level of trust needs to still exist for you to move forward.
Addiction is such a complex illness that it can be hard to say categorically if it’s worth the struggle. In my situation, I believed it was because I couldn’t give up on this person. There was times I was angry, times I was hurt but I never gave up hope in them returning to themselves and being able to beat it.
There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there that can be a minefield of knowing what to do for the best but for me, it was about setting boundaries, and expectations and then sticking to them.
If the person tries 100 times and fails, then I felt like how can you walk away when someone is actively trying but just not getting it yet because in life we all stumble and fall but if they give up, then for your own sanity, sometimes you have to walk away. As I said it’s different for each individual case and I can only say what worked for me.
In romantic relationships, I am different as I have had too much heartbreak to be settling for someone who isn’t ready and I don’t believe in fixing someone. I have enough work to do on myself so you go fix you, I’ll fix me and it just wasn’t meant to be as harsh as that sounds, the only person that can save you is you and I don’t think that it’s ever going to work if they are changing for you.
I also think it’s not fair to expect someone to change for you. You’re putting your expectations and beliefs onto them so they may be happy the way they are and that’s their prerogative, you have to accept and love the good and the bad in people and if you can’t do that, then they aren’t the right person for you in my opinion.
4 — Your lyrics consistently bring up the concept of the other person ‘fading away.’ Why do you think that particular emotion is something a lot of people can relate to watching a loved one in addiction?
It was a way of saying that the person is losing themselves. Every day another part of them is gone and they become more and more lost in the darkness.
It’s like the light in their eyes has gone out and they’re just a shell of who they once were. Addiction also changes the way someone looks, they can become either really bloated facially or frail and gaunt, depending on their substance of choice.
I remember going to an intervention set up for this person and I was traumatised after it because their eyes felt like they were black. It was horrendous to see someone in such darkness that I didn’t recognise them anymore and I couldn’t see them, I couldn’t see their soul… it’s an image that won’t leave me, unfortunately.
I think that a lot of people can relate to that in the addition circles because it’s like the person who you knew and loved has been taken over by a darkness that you can feel at times when you are dealing with a stranger. The things they say, the actions they take, the way they look, it’s unbelievable how someone you’ve known for a long can become someone you don’t know.
To be honest, it’s different every time. Mostly it’s a melody or lyric that I hear in my head, and then the song builds from there, but there have been times where I’ve written to a track or a beat, and that’s inspired me in a particular direction.
I have hundreds of voice notes on my phone of melody ideas that come to me and a bunch of lyrical ideas in my notes as inspiration comes from all different places in life. With “Fix This Love,” I just sat at my keyboard and started singing; it just flowed out of me.
All the emotions were there, and it was one of those songs that wrote itself. I love it when that happens as it just comes out of you and you feel like you’re just a channel for the song, it’s a bit of an out-of-body experience and usually, those are the songs that people connect with the most because they are just real and authentic
6 — The line ‘Can’t say I didn’t try’ really hits hard. What’s the big message you want listeners to grab onto?
I want them to be able to forgive themselves no matter the outcome. I know that there was a lot of guilt I had and feelings that I hadn’t done enough to help or could have said something different but I think this song was what I needed to be able to write to forgive myself in this situation.
I had to be able to say that I had done all I could and be comfortable with that. I had to let go of the thought that I had any form of control over the outcome and know that it was the person who had to get better.
I could be waiting in the light for them but couldn’t drag them out of the darkness, they had to do that themselves. In my head I could see it as an image of them standing in the darkness with their back to me unable to turn around and see me waiting in the light for them and as heartbreaking as that is, it’s sometimes the reality of someone in the grasps of addiction and all you can do is hope they turn around and come to the light one day and be waiting there if they do.
7 — When you’re pouring your heart into these lyrics, do you find songwriting kind of like therapy for you?
Oh 100%, I sometimes don’t know how I’m feeling about a situation until I write a song and then look back at it and see where my head is at. I joke that if I’m in a relationship and start writing break-up songs then that usually means it’s time to go. Because songwriting is often like writing a diary for me, it is usually linked to what I am going through at that time so really does help me work out how I’m feeling because emotions and feelings can get muddled in the head but with songwriting, I can be honest and vulnerable and realize what’s actually going on.
I don’t know if this song will ever not hurt. It is one of the hardest songs I’ve put out because it’s so real and painful for me to sing. When I hear it back or sing it, I am transported back to the time of writing it and I was a mess.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to sing it live without a breakdown but I guess that’s what makes it special too, it moves me as well as I hope is going to move others.
9 — What deeper aspirations do you have for your songwriting going forward after sharing such an incredible tune?
Thanks for being so lovely about the song, it means a lot. I really want to work more with other artists helping them uncover their stories in songs because I write so much, there is no way I could ever use all the songs for me.
I write something most days, whether it’s a melody idea, lyrical idea, or a full song so that is my biggest aspiration, I love singing and releasing music but my true passion is writing. I could do that every day for the rest of my life and never tire of it.
10 — What would you say to someone going through a similar experience to the one described in “Fix This Love”?
I’d firstly give them a big hug cause it’s a lot to handle and the resources are limited. I’d say firstly you need to separate the addict from the loved one you knew in your head so that it is easier to deal with what is going on as they aren’t in their right frame of mind and then I’d say reach out to support groups and get the help yourself to guide you through.
Every story is different so I can’t give a concrete answer of this is what will work and won’t but you may head a story similar at a support group that helps you as we suffer alone but heal in the community.
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Exclusive Interview: Markus Schulz Vows Transmission Netherlands Set Will Be Spectacular
Ask any Trance and Progressive music fan to name his or her favorite artists to see live, and the name Markus Schulz will usually come up as one of them. Ask the same fans whom some of their favorite Trance and Progressive music producers are – not only as of late but over the course of many years – and the name Markus Schulz will again most likely be mentioned. There is a passionate cohort of Electronic Dance Music fans who are unabashed in describing their favorite music as ‘Trance’ and/or ‘Progressive,’ and it’s those fans who pay good money to travel to see Markus Schulz, night after night, every week of the year, at the most relevant indoor and outdoor venues and events the world over. It comes as absolutely no surprise that Markus Schulz is the only DJ to have won DJ Times’ “America’s Best DJ” poll (presented by Pioneer DJ) a record three times.
Following his performance at Transmission festival in Gdansk, Poland, and on the eve of Transmission Netherlands – set to take place on December 2nd, 2023 – Electro Wow stole a moment with Markus Schulz to pick his brain about what it takes for him to stay on top of the Dance music game for well over three decades.
1 — Please tell us about your performance at Transmission Poland… what made it memorable? Can you name some stand-alone moments that struck you in a special way, as if to say, “Wow, I’m going to remember this moment…”?
Yeah, my recent performance at Transmission in Poland was amazing for me. First of all, it was great to reunite with the Transmission crew. They always make me look good onstage. Secondly, I’ve really been focused on my extended open-to-close sets the last couple of years, so to take the vibe and the energy from my open-to-close sets and condense it down into a 90-minute set in a grand arena was challenging, but also super-cool to just focus on a shorter presentation. I think what really stuck-out to me was how people reacted to this hybrid, euphoric Techno sound that I have been pushing the last couple of years in a large arena setting. It was a great success for me.
2 — What can fans expect for your upcoming headlining spot at Transmission Netherlands on December 2nd?
Well, I think the next Transmission set in the Netherlands is going to be the largest one ever, so now the pressure is really on. The stakes are higher and my set is going to have to be even more spectacular. I’ve got a month of studio time planned so I can give the crowd something unique. Something they’ve never heard before. And of course, I’ve been working closely with my team and the event crew to coordinate details and make sure everything is synchronized. This is paramount. The stakes are high, and I’m looking forward to this challenge.
3 — The stage production for Transmission is really beautiful in an almost spiritual, mystical way. The atmosphere created with the lights, visuals, and effects really seems transcendent in a soulful way that’s just different from the other big music festivals. What emotions are coursing through your veins as you’re onstage performing? What emotions will you be trying to convey to your audience at Transmission Netherlands this year?
The one thing that I always say about Transmission is that it’s not like any other festivals where you have five different stages fighting for attention and a production budget that you have to split amongst five different stages. Everything goes into one spectacular stage. All of the attention is on the one stage. To me, that’s what makes this the most unique Trance festival in the world. The production has always been spectacular with all of the lasers and the props. There really is no other festival where I have this feeling, when I’m onstage, that I know I look and sound amazing and my job is to give the people the best set they’ve heard in their lives.
I think I’ve grown as an artist in parallel with Transmission. I played at one of the very first additions over 10, 15 years ago. Gosh, I can’t even remember, now, how long it’s been, but as Transmission grew as an event, so has my own production in my own shows. I’ve always been interested in theater and I had a theater background growing-up, so when I started playing at the Transmission festivals, it was a perfect marriage of inspiration. I think just growing with the brand, year-after-year, show-after-show, has made this bond between me and Transmission special.
5 — Physically, as a performer, are you doing things to project yourself out toward the audience at Transmission that are different from how you usually perform in front of a large festival crowd?
When I’m onstage at Transmission, it’s still the same mindset of trying to connect with every single person out there. When I do my long open-to-close sets, you do have a whole warm-up [segment] where you can really see the people’s energy when they walk-in to the venue and I can build upon it. But, when you’re doing a one-hour or 90-minute set in a big arena, you have to try to connect with the audience right at the get-go, so for me, building a spectacular intro and captivating the people right at the very first beat is paramount. These shorter sets are well rehearsed and there’s not a lot of room for improvisation, so I guess having the show fine-tuned and executing it properly is what I judge my set on after I’m finished.
Yes, as I said, theater has always been a major influence in not just my live shows and events, but also in my productions. When I’m in the studio, I am making conscious decisions based on how these tracks are going to translate live. Transmission has had a big influence on me over the years when I’m in the studio. As a matter of fact, I have pictures and screensavers of Transmission events as a constant reminder when I’m in the studio working on what the goal is. It’s a great inspiration tapping into that feeling and the memories of standing in front of 20,000 and 30,000 people losing themselves in the moment.
7 — What excites you the most about Transmission Netherlands?
What excites me most about the next edition of Transmission in the Netherlands, is that it is another level up. Being the largest-ever Transmission event is special, indeed, but to have it happen in the Netherlands, where I have such a strong bond with the people as well as knowing that people will be flying in from all over the world to see the spectacular event has me very excited. I’m so looking forward to putting on an amazing show and giving people the best set they have ever heard from me. That is always the goal and the challenge.
Transmission Netherlands – Book your tickets today and be part of this epic festival!