If there’s a formula for success in dance music, it certainly includes hard work, perseverance, love and teamwork. As far as we can tell, nobody truly makes it in this racket because they want money and fame. You have to love what you’re about. And no one truly goes it alone either. If you don’t have help producing or mastering your music, you’re at least going to need some help putting it out and blowing it up.
For “Sun Pillar,” a new progressive house banger that will hit Beatport tomorrow, January 29, people from three continents of the EDM massive came together just to do something fun: put party-rocking music into the world (listen below).
It starts with the pairing up of two young Swedish producer/DJs on the rise, David Pietras and Fred Issue and (check the links for free Soundcloud downloads). Issue told us they’d been working together for a while and got together to make “Sun Pillar” last summer.
“We decided to lock us in to my studio in Stockholm and start with a new project,” Issue said. “We started to look and work for a sound, a melody, a drop and an arrangement. It took hours to just create that. But we did not finish the track at that session, so David went home to Uppsala. And from that we just sent stems to each other back and forth for some time until we felt it was finished.”
With so much progressive house and other dance music coming out, artists always have to try for distinctive sounds. “Sun Pillar” starts out immediately with a rhythmic “wah” sound that catches the ear right away and appears throughout the track.
“That ‘wah’ sound — ha-ha — is a sample we found in the process at the studio,” Issue said. “We wanted something unique that made the track stand out. We found that sample and layered it with another sound. At that time is when we felt, ‘this track is going to be good.’”
Besides unique ear candy, hit club music almost always has to have dynamic changes in energy. Buildups and breakdowns have become one of the most recognizable dance music cliches, and yet are still essential. So to pull them off, they have to be done tastefully. “Sun Pillar” utilizes several buildup/breakdown cycles, and Pietras told us about his methods for working on these transitional elements.
“When I make buildups I try to focus on the last part of the buildup and the first hit of the drop. To make the drop really hard, I make a low-cut with the EQ and automate it so that it cuts off the low frequencies before the drop. If I want the build to be bigger, I add some automated reverb above 250 Hz. If you need a bigger ‘hit,’ then you can automate the master volume so that it goes down maybe 1-2 dB and then kicks back just before the drop. But every buildup needs different settings and automation depending on which track you are working on and on how big the drop is. You can't just copy the build from one track to another. The best advice I can give is that you should listen over and over again, and render your track a lot during the production process. If you need help, then you can compare with a reference track that has the same feeling and energy as your track. For breakdowns, I don’t have any special tips. Just try to be creative and do whatever you feel. If you need some specific advice on your track, then feel free to contact me or Fred; we will always help.”
Like I said, everyone needs some help sometime. When it came to mastering “Sun Pillar,” Pietras & Issue did a pre-master and then the label Eclypse took care of the final mastering.
“The best advice I can give for mastering a track is to first work on the mix,” Pietras said. “If the mix is bad, then the master chain will not save it. I tend to do the mixing and mastering at the same time during the whole process of making a track, but that’s my way of working. You should try to keep it clean on the master channel. I usually only have an Ableton [Live] multi-band compressor and a normal limiter — nothing special really. Keep your ears open and work on the mix.”
With “Sun Pillar” finished, the Swedish producer duo got it in the hands of young dance label Eclypse Records out of Los Angeles, which is also run by a Grammy-nominated producer/DJ duo: the Australians Aden Forte and Josh Soon, known as Feenixpawl. They founded Eclypse in April 2015 along with another Australian producer/DJ Jason Forte. Already the label has had multiple hits on the Billboard, Mediabase and SiriusXM dance charts.
We asked Feenixpawl what attracted them to sign “Sun Pillar,” and they said, “It was groovy as hell! Just one of those tunes that had us bopping our heads instantly.”
Think you have your dance music technique nailed? Eclypse Records will take your demos, but you better come correct. We don’t advise submitting any half-baked tracks. As far as what Eclypse is looking for musically, Feenixpawl told us, “We are simply looking for things that catch our ear. You know it’s a good sign when you play a demo and you hear one of us from across the room say, ‘Oooh! What this!?’ We aren’t striving to have a particular sound or a particular aesthetic, we just like good music from all genres within the electronic realm.”