Los Angeles, United States
' I find inspiration by experiencing things that are completely foreign to me '
LA-based producer ANTRA sits down with ADSR to talk about his inspirations, the hardest parts of being a solo artist and what it's like breaking into the scene today. Scroll to the end to check out ANTRA's new artist pack on ADSR.
How did you start producing music?
I first started producing in 2012, after years of being a DJ and creating bootleg mash-ups. I always had this dream of being able to play shows centred around my own productions. One of my friends gave me a copy of Ableton Live and I've been using it ever since.
How would you classify your style or genre?
I think my sound is best described as melodic and orchestral yet hard-hitting, blending elements from both trap and future bass.
What are your biggest sources of inspiration?
I find inspiration by experiencing things that are completely foreign to me. Taking trips to places I've never been, eating new foods I've never tasted before, listening to new artists that are breaking boundaries in sound design. I tend to associate my songs with places I've explored, and try to capture the feelings I had in these places.
What is the hardest part of being a solo artist? Or what are some aspects of being an artist that you find easy, and which aspects do you find hard?
The hardest part about being a solo artist is finding the inspiration to start new ideas. They say you're only as good as your last song, so you need to push yourself and consistently set new standards. It's easy to get down on yourself and have a hard time finding motivation, but once you have that initial boost, the rest comes naturally.
I've spent hours, even days trying to lay down an initial idea, but then you start getting in the flow of things. It's hard to explain - it's sort of like a runner's high. Even though social media is necessary in this day and age, I do find it to be a tough aspect of this industry. Sometimes it can feel like a huge distraction. I hate straying away from the main focus of creating my art. I think in the end you just have to find that balance.
What is one production tip that you use religiously in most projects (if any), that defines not just your sound, but your production style within your DAW?
I use a couple production techniques religiously that help sort of define my sound. One of these is never putting my drums exactly on grid/on time. This makes them feel slightly off beat and creates this natural humanized rhythm.
The other thing I also try to do is related to this. I like to use percussive elements in unusual places to create bounce. One trick is to put a pitched-down filtered snare right before your kick and that gives you this call and response with your drums.
One of the most defining aspects of my production is that I utterly hate generic buildups. I've developed this style where the hardest hitting points of my songs sort of creep in spontaneously, yet they seem to work.
Finally, I try to always incorporate natural sounds like vinyl, wind, etc. I like to record these sounds with my field recorders. I think these techniques really bring an organic feel to my songs.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the electronic music industry and how do you fit into the industry/how do you want to fit into the industry?
Oh, man. I could talk about this one for hours.
The current state of the electronic music industry is an interesting one, and not necessarily in a good way. We've reached a point where electronic music has surpassed mainstream attention, and we are way way past the honeymoon phase. Artists who reached success through completely instrumental music are now making songs centred around vocals.
I think the collision of pop music and electronic music has seen electronic instrumentation play a supporting role to artists we hear on the radio. Also, we aren't seeing as much creativity as we used to on platforms such as SoundCloud. At the same time, we have sub-genres falling under Bass music such as Dubstep, Trap, Future Bass, etc. that are still at the forefront of the festival and club scene. This has led to a complete over-saturation of these styles.
Don't get me wrong, there are still amazing producers out there making some revolutionary stuff, but we aren't hearing anything original being brought to the table at the mainstream level. So, I think electronic music is going back to how it was in an underground sense. I think the true fans are going to be sticking around, exploring new sub-genres, still going to the underground shows.
Going off of what got you into producing, do you have a background in any instruments and how does that play into your style of production and sound (if any)?
Whenever I'm producing, I always try to keep a classical mentality especially when it comes to creating chords. I try to make my chords as unique as possible and I almost always have some sort of borrowed, or off-key notes that help to make them interesting.
I also love to use classical brass instruments in my productions, if you couldn't tell! I think goes back to my piano roots because I was definitely playing purely classical music back then.
What is it like being a young artist trying to break into the scene and what can people expect? Is it daunting, exciting, scary, intense, and what pushes you past the negative feelings artists can sometimes feel and what gets you to finish tracks and keep pushing boundaries?
Man, it's tough being a young artist trying to break into the scene, especially now that it's harder than ever.
You're essentially alone in a bedroom for hours on end trying to not only put your feelings out there in art form, but bring something original to the table so you can stand out.
You are simultaneously trying to stay connected with your fans, and make connections with people in the industry.
All these are necessary in order to break through the music industry but that's part of the hustle and I love it.
The other aspect of this is balance. When I was younger, I had all the time in the world to mess around, experiment and learn. I feel lucky that I started then, because it would be nearly impossible with the full time job I have now. I was able to learn Ableton Live from front to back in less than two years.
Nowadays, I try to work smarter because time is limited. Sometimes, you go through these breakdowns and feelings of depression, telling yourself your music is not good enough and other times you're riding this happy wave for weeks making the best stuff ever.
I think in the end, it's all about balance and that's crucial.