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Behind the scenes

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Celebrating 100 articles in the advice series

What I’ve learned and what’s next

In August 2015 I launched the advice series to help aspiring producers and spread the knowledge. And last week I posted the 100th article in this series. Hundred articles on music production, sound design, DJing, industry insights, marketing, and career advice. This is huge.

I thought such round number would be a nice moment to thank everyone who sent me the questions and contributed to the blog. So thank you guys, thanks for your curiosity and strive for knowledge which drive this series forward. You’re awesome! <3

And taking this opportunity I would also like to tell a bit of what I’ve learned for the past two years of writing this series and what comes next.

What I’ve learned

  1. Good always wins
    When I introduced the advice series, all sceptics were saying that people will steal the tricks and ideas I share, that I will look stupid by trying to teach other people whilst I’m still an uprising producer myself (“You know nothing, Jo... Lesden”) and more criticism. Well, I had no doubts that none of this will happen and I was right. I was amazed how many people found this blog useful and genuinely shared their own techniques as well. I have a feeling that over time we’ll see more producers sharing their knowledge, too.
  2. Knowing ≠ understanding
    I realised that knowing things is not the same understanding those things. When you explain things to other people, your mind process it differently and you certainly learn something new even if you thought you knew it before. I can’t stress enough how much I’ve learned from this.
  3. Content marketing works
    This whole advice idea came out purely out of altruistic initiative, I didn’t think about it as a marketing tool. But turned out, many people — including industry professionals — have discovered my music because of this advice blog. A kind of a side effect but in a good way. I certainly recommend other producers to start blogging, it helps people and increases the overall awareness about your name with no money investment needed, something that a classic advertisement can never do.
  4. Writing consistently is tough, but boosts your skills
    Back in 2015, I asked myself: can I possibly write a new article every week on a regular basis? Frankly, it was quite a challenge. I’m not a full-time writer nor a blogger, I’m a musician and DJ that writes about music and that’s a totally different thing. Writing a single article is tough, but writing a new piece of advice every week is quite a challenge indeed! Nevertheless, I have to admit that consistent writing helped me learn how to explain myself clearly and even become a tiny bit better in English.

What’s next

The advice series will continue to come out on Wednesday, but probably not every Wednesday. More like of When-I-can-s-day.

I want to keep delivering a thoughtful and well-made content that other producers hopefully find useful while experimenting with its frequency a bit — sometimes weekly, sometimes bi-monthly, sometimes less often.

I also have a few really cool projects on the way (won’t spoil it here), but sacrificing the quality of one project over another is the last thing I want to do. Quality > quantity, not the other way around.

As a consequence of this changing schedule, more questions will be stacked up in the queue. If you ever wanted to send me a question, I would suggest doing it today as from now on it will take a longer time to post a reply.

2017   Advice   Behind the scenes

The benefits of “no”

Success story: Tim Bourne’s behind the scenes on reaching out goal through rejections

“Per aspera ad astra”, 1894

One of my daily duties as an A&R at JOOF Recordings is listening to incoming demos we receive on a regular basis. And whether I like it or not, I have to say a “no” as an answer very often. Artists react to rejection differently: some of them never reply back, some others get angry. Well, no surprise: getting a “no” answer is tough, I know it myself perfectly.

But one guy stood out: every time I told him “no”, he came back with the updated track asking for new feedback. Four months later, he managed to make an amazing track that I was happy to sign on the label.

The guy I’m talking about is Tim Bourne, a 22-year-old aspiring music producer from Indonesia. I invited Tim to share his progression in this blog and I hope other up-and-coming producers will find his experience useful and motivating.

From there, Tim tells:

“To me, this drive of wanting to get accepted into JOOF started two and a half years ago when my friend introduced me to the label, ever since then my perception towards electronic music completely changed (in the best way possible). Since that it was something that I had to do, it was more than just a goal for me to make a track that lives up to the standards of the label.

I wanted to know where I sit when it comes to producing, am I really making something that is up to par — quality wise — or am i just making tracks that only sound good to my own ears, even then, my ears wasn’t really catching the small details of music production, I was missing out on so many essential parts of production.

I knew that it was going to be very tough because in my country there is very limited access to production courses or even Psytrance producers, so I had no one to really guide me on what to do technically or musically.

I would have never evolved with my music production if it wasn’t for no’s and rejections.

I started sending out demos to the label since 2015 — 20 years old by that time — and it was just no’s after no’s after no’s. In total, I’ve probably sent over ten tracks and one of the tracks I had to re-do and re-edit over five times due to song length, sound design, not enough variations, you name it... and it was still a big ‘no’. It actually got to a point where I was so pessimistic about myself and my music that after a couple of days after sending ‘The Wounded Healer’ I emailed to Daniel again and assumed that the track got rejected.

But alongside the no’s, Daniel was kind enough to actually give me very useful feedbacks, he gave me constructive criticism that was essential for my learning. And to be completely honest, I would have never evolved with my music production if it wasn’t for no’s and rejections. It was through this that I was able to learn and not just force any kind of sound into a track.

Here are some of the conversation we had on the track:

Of course, it was really hard to accept the fact that my music wasn’t quite cutting it, but either I stop and give up or just push through and make a track that I would have never imagined I’d be able to make a couple of years ago.

It started with this very flat sounding bassline loop with no melodies at all, just a pitched down FX:

Then I played around with the sound, added a little bit of processing, added hats and a clap and i played around with the notes because my ears were so exhausted of hearing the same note playing over and over again. Came up with this kind of groovy bassline:

As I was trying to fiddle around with the bass, I found a vocal sample that was perfect for creating anticipation for the groovy bassline. So I decided to add the vocal alongside a drum fill. I also added more processing to the kick and bass to make it sound more thick:

After creating what I thought was a strong body to the track, I know I have to accompany it with also a strong melody:

But i was not pleased because it felt like it was forced and it didn’t go smoothly with the track, so I changed the sound and came up with these two melodies:

Then comes the breakdown which I really enjoyed creating. I always have a thing for breakdowns, to me it creates the emotion of a track. This was the very first version of the breakdown, very empty and the arp melody just didn’t feel right:

So I decided to completely change the arp melody because turns out that it was the melody that made it sound a bit weird. I changed the arp melody, brought back the FX’s and i added some ethnic percussion which drew the breakdown more into the theme of the song:

I created this melody as a draft but It just didn’t sound right to my ears, I was okay with it but i wasn’t happy with it:

I tweaked the notes of the melody a little bit, got rid of the acid and added more saw’ish sounding synths to layer. And this is what i came up with:

And alas, ‘The Wounded Healer’ was born:

I want to say thank you to Daniel who has given me the opportunity to tell a little bit about my upcoming EP, The Wounded Healer and also the story of how I managed to pull through after so many ‘rejections’ and ‘no’s’. ”

2017   A&R   Behind the scenes   Career

Backstory series. Part 2

First local gigs as a DJ

Previously in the backstory series I wrote about the Psychedelic community I created, and today I’ll tell how it affected my career.

Let’s get back in 2006. Psyplanet became a quite large website and our team grew up to twelve members. As a community founder, I had to do a lot of coordination, negotiation, and all in all it gave me a huge experience.

Psyplanet helped me to know the scene inside-out: I knew pretty much every professional and enthusiast involved, such DJs, artists, promoters, agents, deco designers, flyer designers, photographers, street teams. And to be fair, the Psytrance scene in Moscow was quite big at the time.

But it wasn’t just that. It also helped to build a trust. I didn’t have ambitions of being a professional DJ back then, but due to relationship with the party promoters, I played as a DJ too.

Flyers of the Psytrance party series in Rotonda Club, organized by Syntex Lab. The big flyer on the right is one of the first parties where I played as a DJ. It was July 6, 2006. See also Psytrance flyers 2005—2007

Here some are of the tunes I played at that time just for you to feel the mood:

For various reasons — mostly, financial — I had to shut the website down. Psyplanet didn’t make me rich, but it doesn’t matter because it gave much more than that — a priceless experience, networking, and industry insights from which I learnt a lot from.

Advice: playing local gigs is a good way to start a career, but don’t just come to promoters saying “Hey, I’m a DJ, do you want me to play at your party?” because the answer is most certainly will be no. Go to their parties a few times first, find out who is the main person in charge for artists, have a little chat. Ask if they need some help, perhaps volunteers or a street team to promote an upcoming event. Slowly but surely, you build a trust. And now compare it to that random guy who came up and said “Hey, I’m a DJ”, — who do you think have more chances to be a warm-up DJ at the next event? The answer is clear.

2017   Backstory series   Behind the scenes   Career   DJing and performance   Gigs

Backstory series. Part 1

Psyplanet, the Russian Psychedelic community

I remember back in the days when I was a teenager deeply passioned about music, I was always wondering how did artists reach out their milestones, such as the first local gig, the first international gig, the first studio album etc. That curious and passionate music lover guy still lives inside me, but now being also a music producer, I have experienced all these milestones myself.

So, I decided to write a kind of “backstory series” with behind the scenes of my past career goals and how I managed to achieve them, with some career advice along the way.


To really understand where I am coming from, I have to begin my story with the Psychedelic community I created almost 13 years ago, which probably not many of my nowadays’ followers know about.

The year of 2004. At the time I just graduated the high school and, as most teenagers, I was thinking what should I do next. After some time, I came up to learning HTML and CSS and building a website. I was one of the few lucky ones who got the very first PC earlier around 1999, so learning the web and these languages in particular came naturally to me.

So, armed with the “HTML for noobs” book I started making my own website. I never hesitated what the website should be all about, because the answer was clear — about Psychedelic culture, of course! At the raves I was one those guys with white gloves and fluorescent clothes, so making a website about Psytrance was also naturally to me.

Slowly but surely, in 2005 I launched “Psyplanet”, the Russian Psychedelic trance community. We had a forum board, events announcements, party photos, artist profiles, free download music (oops!) and more goodies. Quickly it became one of the leading Psytrance websites in Russia.

Keep in mind the Internet was very different from today’s, it was a time before Facebook opened registrations and before Steve Jobs introduced the very first iPhone.

Here are some of the screenshots I found on my disk: final look before it was shut down in 2008

Advice: when thinking of what you suppose to do in your life, always trust your gut instinct, no matter what is currently trending or what your parents say. Doing what love to do is always pays off.

2017   Backstory series   Behind the scenes   Career

Album behind the scenes: from drafts to finish

Since I posted my second album production announcement followed by the album is complete videos, people keep asking me when it will be released, why it took me so long to make it, how I’ll call it, what inspired me, and more questions.

Come closer my friends, make yourself comfortable and grab a cup of tea as I’m going to answer these questions and share some thoughts behind the creation of the album.

Why album

In this fast-paced world, singles and EPs are the most common releases format. Well, no surprise: consisting of only one or two tracks, artists can make several such releases per yer and keep the buzz going. I’ve released a couple of singles this year too.

Albums, on the other hand, are counter-productive on that matter: they take much more time and efforts to make, both physically and mentally. But I guess I’m an old-fashioned guy because albums are very special to me, it’s like an exam, a milestone that showcases artist’s progress.

My debut album titled “Chronicles Of The Universe” was released in 2014, two years later after the very first release. It’s a musical story dedicated to our Solar System with each track representing a planet, and this album summed up my current taste and skills at the time.

Chronicles Of The Universe
JOOF Recordings, 2014

So around October 2015, having numerous releases after the first album, I thought it’s time to make a new album.

The first step is always the hardest

In the new album, I wanted to create more tech-driven, robotic, and futuristic feeling. Being always fascinated by science fiction, I came to my favorite novels, films, and concept arts in searching for inspiration:

Some inspiration for the album

So I started to work on the first track which later will be called “The Dream Of Electric Sheep”. Here is how one of the first drafts was sound like:

It was shit. Seriously, it has a poor sound design, lack of drive, and not satisfied quality. Perhaps, for someone it would be okay, but I didn’t wish to agree on just “okay”. I replaced the main lead, but still it wasn’t good enough:

Don’t do shit

It was so disappointing so I was about to abandon this idea entirely. I realized that I wasn’t ready yet — I wanted to make something fresh whilst my current skills held me back. But then something interesting happened.

The unexpected side of help

Now we have to go back in time for the three months before I started working on the album. On August 2015, I launched the advice section where I answer the questions people send me.

Introducing “Advice”

Turned out, the advice blog that suppose to help other people, helped a lot to me too.

Every time I answer a question, it forces me to dig deeper, to learn something new. Because knowing things is not the same as understand things and being able to clearly explain it to the others. To my own surprise, throughout the past year I’ve learned a lot of new things about sound design, mixdown, and other aspects of production simply by helping other people. How cool is that?

Going back to “The Dream Of Electric Sheep”, here is how it sounds now:

Back on track

Slowly but surely, the album progressed pretty well. But despite that I’ve improved my sound quality, one thing keep bothered me: the musical parts.

At some point I just opened all my drafts, played it back, and realized that some of the tracks I’ve made were too cheesy. To give an example, here is another track from the new album, it called “Machinery”:

I asked myself: “Does it matched the concept of a technological, aggressive, and futuristic sound like I wanted to make it in the first place?” Clearly, the answers were “no”.

I had to take a break to figure out where should I go musically. One month later, that track turned into this:

Yet still, having all those aggressive and futuristic sounds, I wanted also to have some atmospheric and euphoric build-ups. That’s how “Arrival” was born:

That’s it folks, I hope I answered your questions.

2016   2000 Years Ahead   Behind the scenes

The truth about music sales

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Is it possible to make a living on music sales?


TL;DR version: you certainly can make some money on music sales, but most likely it won’t be a substantial amount to make a living just from the sales alone. Here is why.

Producers have false expectations

I would like to go a little bit deeper because many producers have false expectations on that matter. A typical story looks like this:

A young and talented producer submits his tracks to a decent record label, and the label accepts it. The producer is very thrilled about this because it’s all he was dreaming about. Afters months of excitement and waiting, it’s finally out. The release climbed up in Beatport’s Top-10. Wow, what a success!

Half year later the artist receives a royalty statement with a total payable amount of $50. “What, just fifty bucks? No way, my release was in top charts! The label screwed me!” — the artist thinks. So he starts to blame label that this statement is a lie, while ‘greedy label took all the credits left him with no money’. The whole music scene now looks unfair to him, and eventually, he giving up his music career.

The worst and the saddest part of this story is this actually happens with many producers, I even know few people in person who was thinking that way.

Beatport Top-100 is overrated

First things off, let’s dispel the myth about Beatport charts: it takes only about 30 sales to get in a Top-100. Yes, not millions, not thousands, not even hundreds — just a couple of dozens sales, and you’re in Top-100.

Subtract taxes, Beatport’s cut, distributor’s cut, label’s share, mastering fee, artwork fee, and you’ll be lucky to get even those fifty bucks out of this. So next time you’ll see your release appeared in Top-100, it’s certainly nice but doesn’t mean you’ll be a millionaire, it’s overrated.

Here are some real numbers. My debut album “Chronicles Of The Universe” released back in 2014 skyrocketed straight into the Top-11 spot, and overall was in Top-100 chart for about five weeks. Pretty nice results for a debut album.

Chronicles Of The Universe

The album’s evolution in Beatport Psytrance chart, data from

In total, I’ve got roughly €400 from the album sales. Is it a lot? Well, it may look fine at first, but as a matter of fact, it barely covers mastering, artwork, promotion, and other expenses on post-production and advertisement.

If I would count sales only, all the money I’ve got so far in my 5-years career, which includes more than 30 releases on one of the most credible labels in the scenes, wouldn’t even cover my gear investment yet.

Home studio basics: gear costs calculation

Sales are over, streaming is screwed up

The truth is people simply don’t buy that much music that they used to do, people now stream music. The only way to get a substantial income from music sales is to sell millions of copies, which is only possible in a pop music world, e. g. Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift.

In the last 8 years, Lady Gaga’s sales dropped from 15 millions to 700 thousands of sold copies per album. Source: Wikipedia

Speaking of streaming, despite the growth of services like Spotify and Apple Music, royalty rate per track is so miserable so it makes no chance for a bedroom producer to make a living on streaming, too. At least for now.

$0.001128 — the average payment to an artist per stream. Source: The Guardian, 2015

Bottom line

If you wanted to release your debut album and left your ‘normal’ job because of the decent income you suppose to get from sales, I strongly suggest reconsidering this plan because it not gonna happen.

I’m sorry to tell you such things, I know someone may find it uncomfortable and even depressing. But what’s even more depressing is seeing how such an incredibly talented producers quit music career because they didn’t get money from music sales, which in reality is simply too high and wrong expectations in the first place.

There are plenty of possible income sources for bedroom producers, music sales and streaming are just occupies the smallest part of the pie. Yes, music business is tough!

I advise treating music like a marketing tool for getting an audience, it’s a business card that you show to the world which gives gigs and other opportunities in return.

2016   Advice   Behind the scenes   Music industry

Making atmospheric effects

Hey Daniel, I’ve always wondered how does well-known psy-producers (such as yourself) create atmospheric SFX? This also includes complex zaps, squelches, just the overall SFX that you often hear in today’s psy-trance. How is it made? Do you make it from scratch? Or use samples? Thanks :)

Timothy Bourne

Timothy, I can’t speak how other producers do their atmospheric effects, I can only tell how I do this. It’s also hard to say how to make some sound without knowing exactly what kind of sound do you mean by ‘atmospheric effects’, so I’ll go over general idea.

In my opinion, two things are crucial for making effects: knowing how to use audio processing devices and creativity. If you know how to use reverb, delay, gate, compressor, phaser, vocoder etc, you can turn pretty much anything into an effect.

Here are a few examples how I do atmospheric effects in my production.

Reversed ‘woosh’ with gate

A simple detuned chord stab:

Adjusting ADSR envelopes and adding a long reverb:

Then I reverse it and add some gate:

Making a reversed and gated “woosh” effect

Rolling texture

Now something different, with more texture. I’ll start with some simple saw wave stab with a bandpass filter:

Then I turn on the arpeggio to add some rolling pattern, and also add some long delay to keep this roll going longer:

This already sounds good to me, but we can make it more interesting by adding a high-pass filter and a pinch of metallic flavor:

Making a rolling texture with reverb, delay, panning, filtering, and ‘metallic’ flavor

Pitch-shifted gate pad

For this example I’ll take some ordinary string:

We can achieve some interesting pitch-shifted effect simply by modulation Pitch-bend wheel on top of some extra reverb:

Let’s make this effect more driving by adding gate:

Making an atmospheric pitch-shifted gate effect

Background atmo lead

Now let’s try to change some ordinary lead into a smooth background atmospheric effect:

Tweak the synth a bit, add reverb, filter automation, and auto pan as a ‘sidechain’ effect, and we’ll get this:

Just to put into perspective:

Making a background atmospheric lead

This is it, that’s how I usually do effects. This is not a ‘how-to’ guide, but rather just one of the way of making it, approach.

Some of these examples are taken from my forthcoming album

Zaps and squelches you’ve mentioned have slightly different approach, it’s more about synthesis rather than processing and maybe I’ll go over it next time.

2016   Advice   Behind the scenes   Music production   Sound design

Template this

How templates can help to deal with routine

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Please tell us about personal efficiency and how you deal with the routine.


I used to think that being a music producer is all about creativity, and well, you know, music production. Later I realized that it’s not really is.

Music producer’s routine also includes dealing with record labels, agents, other artists, and press; doing marketing communication with the fans over social media, websites, emails, and newsletters; and much more. And it’s very easy to get lost and overwhelmed with it.

The situation gets even worse if you add a full-time job to this scenario, which many upcoming producers have besides the music. Doing all these producer’s routine seems impossible!

Re-energizing for music production after 9-6 work

It’s good to have a manager or some sort of personal assistance that would take some of those tasks off from your shoulders, but in reality, not every producer can afford to have one, or actually need it.

Artist manager

So, I’d like to share few tips on how to save your precious time using templates.

Use templates for emails

As an A&R at JOOF, one of my responsibilities is listening to incoming demos, and I receive a few dozens of demos every day. Some tracks are great, some are not quite, some others are absolutely out of format, like a pop dance song with some vocal.

Most labels simply ignore the demos that didn’t fit, but I believe leaving a message with no reply isn’t really polite. So I do reply to every single demo, however, I would spend half a day if I’d actually write every email from scratch.

Here come the templates. I’ve written templates for all possible occasions, and all I need to do now is to simply copy and paste the right template. Takes 10 seconds, literally.

Here are two just to give you an idea:

“Here’s my Dubstep demo for your label”, a funny name for a template used when the demo is completely out of place
“Maybe next time”, a template for promising demos

I’m using Evernote to keep all my templates library, but obviously, there are plenty of other tools: Google Docs, Notes app, Trello, simple text files in a shared folder, you name it.

I also have templates for any other kind of emails, such: when a party promoter sends me booking request, or when a fan asks when I’ll be playing next, or when a DJ wants to make a guest mix for Rave Podcast.

And guess what happens if I don’t have a template for some specific request? Right, I make a new one!

Use design templates

Do you often use similar images, or making press releases, or sending a newsletter? Invest some time and money to create a good template once, and it will serve you for years.

I use templates for pretty much every kind of graphics I share on a regular basis: Rave Podcast covers, announcements, mockup templates for the website, and more. And it saves a lot of time.

Templates used for various graphics

Use project template

When I work in Ableton, I always put a limiter on a master channel just for the sake of precaution, especially when dealing with a filter resonance while sitting in the headphones.

I also realized that every track a guaranteed has a kick, a bassline, a set of standards drums like closed hi-hats, open-hats, snare drum, and crash cymbal. So I was thinking, if I always have these layers and a limiter on the master channel, why not pre-made all these channels and save it as default? And in fact, I did.

Now when I create a new project, it looks like this:

A default project in Ableton

This default template doesn’t have any actual sounds or plugins, it just a structure of pre-made channels, labeled with proper colors and text tags, just the way I like it. It allows me to instantly dive into creativity and start making actual music as soon as I open a new project rather than do some boring organizational stuff.

Organizing music project

It saves time, too.

To save a default template in Ableton, go to Preferences (⌘,) → File/Folder tab → “Save Current Set as Default” → Save.

Bottom line

Templates are huge time-savers. Take notice of what you’re doing repeatedly, whether it’s replying to similar emails or posting the same kind of images in social media, and make template accordingly. This is when a creativity comes in!

I hope your routine won’t be the same frustrating as before.

On cover image: if I’d had my templates library existing in the real world, it would look like this. A frame of Jedi Archives taken from “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” (2002).

2016   Advice   Behind the scenes   Management

Interview with Trance Magazine

TranceMag is a leading Trance music site who shares the latest reviews, interviews, and hosts TranceMag Sessions every Sunday. After making the guest mix, Daniel Lesden has been invited to chat with TranceMag stuff writer Florin about his background, second album, expectations, and opinion on the Psytrance scene.

Hi, Daniel. We’re glad you’re able to take some time to talk to us. Hope you’re doing well.
Hello and thank you for having me here. I hope you’ve enjoyed the guest mix I did for TranceMag Sessions recently.

We most certainly have! Thank you :-) Let’s start off with a little introduction for our readers. When did you get interested in electronic music, PsyTrance in particular?
Formally speaking, my music career began five years ago with the debut release on Ovnimoon Records, but my love and passion for electronic music has started long before that — around the age of 11.

Could you tell us more about your early musical background? How did it all start for you as a producer, and what were some of your influences?
Since childhood, I knew for sure I wanted to connect my life with music, and to encourage my initiative, mom bought me a Yamaha keyboard. The best present I could ever dream about! The same year (1999) I got my first ever PC, and that was a starting point of my experiments with music. In fact, I have written about my first music production experience — an article in two parts with all the behind the scenes details and even samples of my earliest music (spoiler alert: it sounds terrible, you’d better not listen to this).

As for influences, well, you have to realize that a 13-year old kid had very limited access to music at the end of 99—early 00’s. I desperately tried to find any piece of electronic music, so overall my musical taste was very broad: from Prodigy’s Breakbeat and Scooter’s Happy Hardcore, to Nitzhonot of Cyan, Goa Trance of Astral Projection, ‘Classic’ Trance of M.I.K.E. Push, and even some really crazy 180-BPM Trancecore stuff, like Beyonder and Rebellion. But I get used to calling all these diverse genres by one simple word — Rave.

I get used to calling all these diverse genres by one simple word — Rave.

What was the first track you heard that you instantly fell in love with? What about the first record you bought?
Speaking of Psytrance music, Astral Projection’s “Mahadeva”, Yahel’s “Last Man in the Universe” and Man With No Name’s “Floor-Essence” were definitely some of these tracks.

Taking a look at your productions from last year, one is treated to an outstanding line-up. However, Enuma Elish seemed to steal the show, due to it being widely supported by both well-known Trance artists and listeners, catapulting you into the limelight. What’s the story behind the track title and production? Could you share your experience while making it?
I’m glad you like Enuma Elish, and thanks for asking because there was an interesting story, indeed. I received a personal request from John 00 Fleming to make a “138-140 BPM driving monster”, the kind of real Trance he’s been hungry for. And that was perfect timing as I felt the same.

You know, all those modern dancefloor tricks like build-up and drops that we hear in today’s Psytrance music are fine, but sometimes I feel that ‘Psytrance’ misses the ‘Trance’ component. I wanted to make a straightforward track with a hypnotic vibe, a track that awakens emotions, even if it’s considered as old-school today. So, inspired by the old 00.db tracks, as well as by many of my personal all-time favorite Progressive and even Goa Trance tracks, “Enuma Elish” was born.

And just to tease you a little bit, “Enuma Elish” is gonna be remixed by a UK artist.

I wanted to make a straightforward track with a hypnotic vibe, a track that awakens emotions, even if it’s considered as old-school today.

Your work has appeared on some of the world’s best Trance labels (specifically those more underground Trance oriented) like JOOF Recordings, Pharmacy Music and Digital Om Productions. How important, do you think, is their support for a young and talented artist like yourself? How hard is to maintain the consistency and authenticity of your sound?
JOOF Recordings, Pharmacy Music, and Digital Om Productions are some of the best labels in underground music with a huge cult of followers. But what’s most important is the people behind label names: they are truly passionate about what they do, real professionals. Their support means a lot. And it is an honour for me to work and learn from them.

It is nice to have a unique signature sound of course, but when an artist uses the same sounds over, and over and over again with no any development, to me it’s more like laziness rather than “signature sound”. That’s why, from time to time, I go out of the comfort zone to make something totally different, and Surreal, released earlier this year, is a testament to this.

You are one of the most versatile producers nowadays, managing to successfully balance Progressive and Psy, integrating a lot of melodies, and pushing your sound in an exciting direction. What is most important to you when making music? What message do you want to spread with your sound?
I think the most important thing is to stay true to yourself, regardless of trends. It may sound selfish, but first of all, I make music to express myself musically. If you try to please everyone, you won’t please anyone. And I am very grateful to all the people that follow me throughout this journey.

If you try to please everyone, you won’t please anyone.

From what you announced recently, we learned you are working on your 2nd artist album. Could you share some details about it? What inspired the album and what sound dominates throughout?
I am a huge fan of cosmic exploration and science fiction. Pretty much every track I’ve made so far was inspired by one of these themes, and the album I am working on at the moment is no exception. The album is still in the making, but I would say it gets a more full-on-ish type of sound, more aggressive, more “high-tech” if I may call it this way.

Does the album have a name yet? Also, will it be released on JOOF, like your previous one, Chronicles Of The Universe?
It has a couple of working titles, but the final name is yet to be decided. As for the label, I’d keep it in secret for now. Let it be a surprise!

You have mentioned a few collaborations and a remix will be featured on the album. Could you tell us with whom you have worked? What were you looking for when it came to picking the producer (or producers) to collab with?
AudioFire is an amazing producer I have worked with, perhaps you’ve seen my recent announcement about it. The remix was done for some folks from Serbia, producers I admire a lot. I’m afraid, that’s all I can say for now.

When picking a producer to collab with, I look for similarity and otherness at the same time. Both of us have to like each other’s music in the first place, that is for sure, but at the same time, we have to use a slightly different approach. What’s the point, otherwise? Same as in a dispute, I believe the best solutions are born from the collision of different opinions.

I believe that a track has to have some storyline behind it, some plot that would open up the listener’s imagination.

Is there one track on the album that perfectly describes your style and sound you want to present to the listeners?
I think the album production teaser I’ve shared recently sums up the overall album vibe perfectly. If you enjoy that teaser, I guess you should love the whole album, too.

What is the most important thing for you in a track? Do the listeners have to search for a deeper meaning?
I believe that a track has to have some storyline behind it, some plot that would open up the listener’s imagination. Someday, I want to make music while also accompanying it with a short film and written a story, so people can experience my vision as a whole. So yes, listeners certainly can find some deeper meaning in my music.

What are your expectations from the album in general? What message do you want to send?
I had expectations before, and it didn’t end up well. Expectations are no more than guessing of the outcome, and the outcome is something that you cannot control. What you can control, however, is your own actions. So rather than set high expectations for something that may or may not happen, set yourself a habit of doing your work well, do it on a regular basis, and on the best possible level you can. And this is exactly what I’m doing with music now — just doing my best.

Expectations are no more than guessing of the outcome, and the outcome is something that you cannot control. What you can control, however, is your own actions.

What is your opinion on the current Psy-Trance scene and the modern sound that people are attracted to?
We can certainly see a growing interest for Psytrance music these days, some Psytrance acts are now playing at the world’s largest festivals along with commercial Trance and House DJs in the lineup — something that wasn’t possible just several years ago. And I like it, because a growing audience opens up more possibilities to the scene. As you probably know, I grew up in Moscow, and what I remember is that many good party promoters gave up on organising Psytrance parties simply because there were not enough attendees to cover the costs for a venue rent, good equipment, artist fees etc.

I believe that since Psytrance has gone mainstream, more people will demand smaller underground parties as well, which would give a second breath to the clubs, party promoters, and artists. Commercial and underground music are two sides of the same coin, like light and darkness, they exist only because of each other.

What do you think needs to change about the scene? Any producers out there at the moment that you are really enjoying?
I like the fact that entry threshold for electronic music in general becomes easier, and more people can afford making music. More people in the scene means more ideas, more talents yet to be discovered. And this is great.

However, the professional side of music has many more questions than answers available. As a result, we see a lot of low-quality tracks flooding music stores, or up-and-coming artists who have no idea how record labels work. And I’m trying to change it by making knowledge more accessible and widespread. That’s the reason why in August 2015 I launched the “Advice” series, where every Wednesday I answer the questions people send me. Together we make the music scene better, and I’m very grateful for the massive feedback I receive from the music community, fellow DJs, and producers.

As for producers I really enjoying — oh yes, so many good artists around. Just listen to my radio show!

We see a lot of low-quality tracks flooding music stores and up-and-coming artists who have no idea how record labels work. And I’m willing to change it.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years, in terms of your music?
As I said above, I don’t want to fall into the trap of expectations, so hopefully I’ll just continue to follow my journey.

Let’s bring it a little closer to current events. This year marks the 5th anniversary of your monthly show, Rave Podcast, so congratulations! How does it feel to have reached this milestone?
Thanks! Frankly, it was unexpected. I was like, “okay let’s see what we have for the February edition… hold on, is it February 2016 now? I’ve launched the very first episode in February 2011, so this must be the five year anniversary, jeez!”. Time flies! I’m really amazed how many people became regular listeners of Rave Podcast throughout these years, and I really appreciate each and every one.

Staying on the subject of the podcast, what is the concept behind it? Following that, how do you choose your guests?
At first, I started the podcast just to share the music I love, and the basic concept was to show different music genres — hence the name, “Rave Podcast”. But Rave Podcast is more than just a show, reflecting my ever changing musical taste.

By the end of 2011, I had changed the concept to not stick only to Psytrance as the main genre, but also showcase artists from all over the world. At the moment, artists from 27 countries have made their guest mixes for Rave Podcast. Just imagine how big and diverse the Psytrance scene is!

Having a radio show with a loyal following is also a huge responsibility because at some point it affects people’s taste. When choosing a guest, I’m trying to showcase a very broad spectrum of musical beauty: from deep Progressive to uptempo Fullon, from mellow to harder sound, from up-and-coming producers to the world’s largest names. It’s a fine balance, and it looks like we’re doing well so far.

We’re curious, outside of DJing / Producing, what else do you do with your time? Besides the album, what else can we look forward to from you? Any confirmed gigs?
These days, artists have to do much more than just music, so when I’m not making music or DJing, I do everything else: business negotiations, work with the audience, marketing plans, website, blog, social media, dealing with the press, just to name a few. Speaking of personal time, I love running to keep my body healthy and mind clear.

Before the album, you’ll hear a remixes EP of my tracks, including my own 2016 mix for one of my older productions. This one is gonna be really interesting.

As for gigs, I have a lot of requests from both promoters and party people in USA, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Finland, Japan, Brazil and India, just to name a few, but none is confirmed so far. Maybe it’s for the best as I’m trying to use this time wisely to finish the album. Studio work and active travel are two things that can’t be be easily combined.

Is there a track in history you wish you would’ve written, or have been there to witness it being made?
No, I don’t think so :-)

Silly question, but do you have a pet? If not, what would your ideal pet be (you can even go with an imaginary one, if it’s more interesting)?
I don’t have a pet for now. I believe that a pet (whatever it may be) is not just a toy, it’s a living creature that needs attention no less than a person, and spending extra time is something I can’t afford at the moment. But if I had a pet, I think it would be a cat — I just can’t resist their cuteness!

Any last words for our readers and your fans?
I would like to thank all my fans, colleagues and the people I work with for their support and experience. I sincerely appreciate it. And thank you for the nice interview, TranceMag! Can’t wait to see you all on the dancefloors around the globe!

Link to the original post
Text — Florin Bodnărescu

2016   2000 Years Ahead   Behind the scenes   Enuma Elish   Interview   Psy scene   Rave Podcast   Surreal

Genesis: behind the scenes

And the three things I’ve learned

cover black

A couple of months ago I promised that I would tell you a story behind the creation of “Genesis”, a result of my collaboration with Cosmithex released on JOOF Recordings.

Genesis, 2015

I’m about to share some really, really rough drafts and show how the track progressed from point “A” where it all started to the point “B” — the version of the track you all know as the final one. You’ve been warned! This is something that most other producers never do, but as I listeners myself I was always curious how things were going behind the scenes, so this is my present for you.

October 2011

I’ve instantly become a huge fan of Cosmithex when I heard his music for the first time. That was a track titled “Projection” from his upcoming album by that time, thanks to John 00 Fleming’s radio show as he always supports new talents. And I told myself that someday I wish to make a remix or to collaborate with this guy because his music was like a fresh air to me. 

Visions of Sound, 2011

June 2014

I had an album released a few months ago, so I’ve got some confidence in myself. I sent a message to Cosmithex asking if he’d interested in remixing or collaboration, and suddenly he said “yes”.

You don’t ask—you don’t get

By that time I had some new project started, so I sent him this:

This one sounds really far from the “Genesis” you know but bear with me. In fact, this very first sketch has few elements that went into the final production: 133 BPM tempo, C#m key, the pad sound, percussion which you can hear at 0:43, and the melody at the end. And obviously it was a super rough draft just to demonstrate the idea, don’t take a look at the arrangement and sound design as I know it’s terrible.

Also, as you can hear that track quite different from my usual sound, and that’s what I call “out of comfort zone”.

Getting out of comfort zone

I was always wondering how people collaborates technically when they are a thousand kilometers away, and even using different programs (DAWs)? It turned out you can easily set up a shared Dropbox folder and send WAV files to each other. So basically you just rendering all layers as separate files, and it doesn’t matter which plugins or DAW both musicians use because it sounds the same. And it worked for us pretty well.

August 2014

After some work, Cosmithex sent me back his vision:

Dark and tripy, we both certainly liked this one.

On that point, I’ve decided to add some stabs, textures, and effects, while Tanel adds his famous ‘303’ acid sound. Also, I’ve added the voice speech, which pretty much defined the final track’s title:

In meantime, Cosmithex experimented with the bassline and more melodics, which led to this:

We found upper bassline really likable but decided to get rid of these strings. In the meantime, we render out and share with each other more layers to experiment with the kick drum, the stabs, and other sounds.

Discussing the details

December 2014

Oh yes, it happens. Almost 4 months passed quickly with a routine as we both had full-time jobs, so almost forgot about the track. Luckily, our enthusiasm hasn’t gone yet.

After some serious thinking, tries and fails, I’ve come up with the all-new melody, which now you know as the main track’s theme:

Then Cosmithex made a fantastic job by putting everything together, including his acid sound by the end, which I love that much:

January 2015

New Year is a tough period for getting things done as everyone is quite busy. Also at that time I’ve moved to a new flat and had to build-up a new studio space, which again took me away from the production.

A new studio

I guess I’m a tough person to collaborate with, because if I don’t like something, I say it straight as it is. And I’m very thankful to Tanel that he didn’t give up.

Changing the environment and new studio allowed me to hear the track differently, so, in the end, I’ve decided to mixdown all layers by myself as we both felt that the project needs some fresh air.

Finally, this version made us totally enjoyed the result. Hurray!

This is it? Not quite yet, because few more things were still left: get the mastering done, sign it on the label, get remixes done, and then finally release it (hint: it’s been released in August 2015).

As you can see it was quite a long journey, so when I posted a video teaser, my excitement was totally real.

Project overview

What I’ve learned

Three things I’ve learned from this project:

  1. Whether you are under pressure of routine, or thing just doesn’t go the way you want, you always have a choice. A choice to give up, or to pull yourself together and finish what you’ve started.
  2. Never agree on “okay” result, always aim for the best. I’m really glad both Tanel and I didn’t said “sounds okay, we’re done”. It was quite a tough project, but eventually, we’ve got an excellent track that reached out top charts position and huge feedback from the audience.
  3. Set yourself a deadline, it’s a must. Without specific time frame you risk to stretch out a project for too long, as the result, we have nearly abandoned the project!

And here are the things wish I knew before:

“Genesis” has been at #9 spot on the Beatport Top-100 chart and been massively supported by the artists like Jordan Suckley, Christopher Lawrence, Alex Di Stefano, John 00 Fleming and Mark Sherry just to name a few, not mentioning huge fans support for what I am immensely grateful. This blog has been written with consent from Tanel aka Cosmithex.

Read also: My first production experience: flashback to 1999-2005 (Part 1)

2016   Behind the scenes   Genesis
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