Artist Spotlight – S5
For every person, the journey to succeed will vary so will the origins and influences
S5 is a reminder that the influence of electronic music is far more reaching than just a nightclub or festival. The soundtracks to our lives played an influence, and thankfully influenced S5. You will not hear cookie-cutter sounds from him, but rather a fresh breath of air with a deep driving sound.
Still young in the scene, S5 is making a name for himself for the harder side of trance and giving DJs some serious ammunition on the dance floor.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. The Coronavirus has taken everyone for a loop. How has it personally affected you?
Thank you for reaching out to interview me Danielle! I am home a lot more now so Bri and the dogs are loving it ha-ha. While I am grateful to be able to work from home, I am also mindful of the fact that I should get out of the apartment and not be a couch potato sometimes!
You do not have a traditional background of going to clubs and raves. In fact, your first event was with Shugz and Ganesh in Seattle in 2019. How did you get into producing electronic music? You have a real love for the UK hard trance scene and community why that sound?
That was a very fun night! I can’t wait to go out more once things open back up safely. I got into producing when I was listening to other styles of music and wanted to hear a trance remix of it. I am really into video game soundtracks and I think that is how the inspiration first started for me. I wanted to put my take on a certain track in a trance genre.
I’ve enjoyed the UK hard trance sound since I first discovered it! It was the combination of the higher BPMs, harder kicks, driving basslines, and creative melodic ideas that won me over. I actually started off listening to releases from a Japanese hard trance label Energize JP, and while looking for more tracks similar to them, I discovered Sunrise by Lee Walls (aka Glyde of Metta & Glyde) and after finding tracks by him on labels with similar artists, the rest was history!
Recently, your debut EP with tracks Hypnosis and The Strongest Will came out for download on Electrik Shandy recordings. How did these two tracks come about? Although these tracks have been in the public for a few months now, the EP was just released. How do you handle the waiting process for releases? What do you like and dislike about the process?
The Strongest Will was originally inspired by me listening to some tracks by Technikal & NG Rezonance. I was going through a bit of writer’s block with finishing tracks at the time, and I felt really determined to finish it. It took a few years, but I definitely enjoyed the end result (and hence the track name)!
Hypnosis was one of my more recent projects where I experimented with adding more effects to my uplifting tracks, and then spicing up the drop. It felt like a nice blend of psy and uplifting once completed.
Usually when I sign a track, I expected a wait time of a few months, so I was fine with it. I did notice that some labels were taking a back seat to releasing due to Covid so I kept that in mind but thankfully it worked out in the end.
Your very first released production, Vortex was released in 2016. How would you describe your own personal growth from Conduit to your latest releases?
I finished Vortex four years ago, which was about six months into producing. This was back when I was heavily focused on the UK hard trance sound. Since then, I became a lot more open-minded with improving my production quality and fine-tuning details that are easy to overlook. As much as I enjoy the UK hard trance sound, I also appreciate how I can use it to craft uplifting trance tracks that feel more complete to me than a UK hard trance track.
I also became a lot more patient with getting a track done. In 2016 and 2017, I completed and released 31 tracks, which is alot looking back at the time! After that I slowed down my pace to about 8-10 tracks a year and I think it is paying off in the long run with a wider audience and higher quality tracks! I learned to take myself out of the trap of comparing myself to others who have years, if not decades, more experience than me with producing as a result.
My production experience also came with a lot of unfinished tracks. Learning to let go of in-progress tracks was hard because it felt like I wasn’t done with it and I may have been hanging on to the nostalgia of starting the project with a vague ending in sight. But it was good in the sense that I no longer was holding on to incomplete ideas with the daunting aspect of completing them which can cause writers’ block for me. This year, I deleted roughly half of my incomplete tracks because either they weren’t going anywhere meaningful, or they were from late 2015 / early 2016 and I couldn’t stand looking at the project file anymore. This in turn made me more excited for the other half of my projects still remaining!
You made a recent post about upgrading your speakers. Why did you choose those speakers? When it comes to a personal studio, what do you feel are the 3 most important things a producer should buy top of the line?
Before the new monitors, I was producing on Audio Technica ATH-M40x headphones all the time. While some people were amazed at how far I had come given that, I felt like I was hitting a plateau with track quality and needed to get out of it.
After researching what qualities good monitors have and asking a few friends, I found that the Yamaha HS8s had a quality frequency response and sub levels that I could rely on, in order for me to hear the most un-altered sound possible (that way I won’t turn up a bass too loud or turn down a sound too much). However, for a bedroom studio in an apartment, the HS7s were more suitable. I am super happy I got them!
For a personal studio hardware, I think the most essential items are a powerful computer, a solid monitor / headphone setup, and room correction. While I am in the process of figuring out room correction, the monitors alone are super helpful! And before I got a desktop, I was on a laptop and it did the job just fine.
As far as software is concerned, I’d recommend a DAW (really hard to make music without it haha), room correction software, and a commonly used third party synth. For the DAW, I highly recommend trying multiple free trials out and seeing which one you like the best. I’ve been on FL Studio since I started, and while I’ve tried others like Cubase and Ableton, FL Studio feels the most intuitive to me. Sonarworks Reference 4 is an amazing room correction software that everyone should have starting out! Commonly used third party synths like Sylenth1, Spire, or Serum, are great in that not only are there an abundance of preset packs for getting started, but there are a ton of possibilities with learning and executing sound design as well.
Over the past 4 years, you have made a few different collabs, who would you say is your favorite to work with? If you could collab with any producer alive, who would you want to work with and why?
Recently, my favorite has been Space Raven! I listened to a bunch of his hard trance tracks, and it is definitely an honor to work with such a legend! I think our ideas mesh well together, and I definitely look forward to more future collabs together. He has helped re-ignite my joy for uplifting trance as well.
As far as collaborating with other people I haven’t yet, I’d have to say Metta & Glyde. Lee is one of my biggest inspirations to produce. I really appreciated when he provided production advice and feedback to me when I was first starting out. Watching him go from an already-popular UK hard-trance producer to a widely-supported trance producer makes me really happy to see him successful! He works so well with Adam to make top-notch productions that are well-balanced with quality, creativity, and dreamy breakdowns. I would be honored to have a chance to collab with such a great duo in the Trance community!
Finally, if you could only live by one motto, what would it be?
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”