We at Dancing Astronaut have realized that our readership is teeming with talent that has yet to be discovered. We’re also incredibly enthusiastic that so many of you have begun to contribute to the EDM community with your own tracks and musical styles — and the incredible amount of promos we get on a daily basis can attest to that. Stargazers is a column that will showcase members of the DA community and recognize their talents as original EDM producers! We encourage all of you to support your fellow DA fanatics- any of you could be headlining Ultra’s Main Stage someday.
Australian DJ – Liam Annert (better known as Arkadia) headlines our 2nd installment of Dancing Astronaut’s Stargazers feature. He currently is in school for Music Production and has had previous tracks released on Pete Tong’s label Bedroom Bedlam. More recently he has remixed Sharam Jey’s work and they are currently out on Armada and Zouk Recordings. Liam has been an avid fan of Dancing Astronaut since our rendezvous with him at last year’s Miami Music Week. We hope to see him again sometime soon, listen to his tunes after the break and read our exclusive interview after the jump.
Dancing Astronaut: How long have you been producing/DJing? How did you start?
LA: For me I started DJing when I was 15, so going on 8 years now. My friend showed me a DJ program on his computer where you could mix two tracks together using MP3’s. I was already really into dance music and thought this program was really amazing, which it was at the time, so I got more and more into it until I knew it back to front. At 16 I got given my first set of Turntables, just some basic Stantons with a Numark mixer, and then began mixing on Vinyl. There was a record shop in the city here in Melbourne where I would spend every night after school listening to all the new tracks that came in that day. The owner, Greg, was a massive influence on me as he really fine tuned my ear to listening to quality dance music rather than commercially played records. Greg always pushed me to try my hand at producing tracks until one day I came into the record store with my first ever completed track. As I walked into the store, Greg was chatting to a man who was from Detroit in his mid 40’s and they were discussing the Techno scene from Detroit when he was growing up. As they were chatting away I slipped Greg my demo CD and he played it out loud on the speakers in the shop. After a few minutes of the track playing Greg asked the man “What sort of stuff do you like listening to now?” And the man replied “I like this sorter stuff you’ve got on now.” Greg smiled and looked at me then said “You see that kid standing next to you?….This is his track” The man turned to me and shook my hand and said “Wow, I’m very impressed” and smile. It was then that I got a real taste for what it was like to produce music. DJing could only provide enjoyment for the audience in front of you, where as producing could make the whole world enjoy your music.
After I finished school I began studying Music Production at University and by the end of the year of had graduated. It was also at this time where I got my first release which was with through Pete Tong with the Bedroom Bedlam label. Through the years I’ve had numerous aliases which I used to release the track on Pete’s label and various other labels. Now though I’m sticking with the name Arkadia to really create a unique sound that people can distinguish and recognize my music with.
DA: Who are some artists you have worked with and some notable experiences in your career that you’ve had thus far?
LA: Just recently I’ve done a lot of work for Sharam Jey. I was asked by a major label in Australia if I would like to remix one of his tracks and jumped at the opportunity. Sharam really liked what I did with his track and since has asked me to remix some of his music from his Three ‘N One project. The remixes have since been released on Armada & Zouk Recordings with another one that was completed just last week which will be released on Armada very soon. Up until last year I was also running a podcast show that had a lot of followers world wide. I decided to end the show on the 50th episode and go out with a bang with a 4 hour mix of the shows greatest tracks. It was really well received with many messages of thanks from the followers. There’s a little voice in the back of my head that wants to start it up again so who knows, maybe it will be back soon!
DA: Who are some of your biggest musical influences in EDM? Outside of EDM?
LA: Anyone that knows me well knows that I’m a major fan of Eric Prydz. I think the man is a musical genius with the way he constructs his tracks and keeps the energy and vibe going for the full length of the song. I can’t praise the man enough to be honest! Outside of EDM is a totally different story though because I’ve always really grown up with EDM so I don’t really have many influences outside of it, which is a shame really cause there is so many good artists out there that I could learn from. I guess the closest artists that I could say that has influenced me would be Moby. I know many would say he is borderline EDM but a lot of his earlier work on the album “Play” was what I listened to as a kid. There’s a lot to love about Moby and the Moby sounds especially the way he adds emotion to music and makes the listener really feel the point he is trying to get across. I find a lot of today’s commercially released music has lost the soul and essence of what music is about, which is to portray a message or feeling. Music is so disposable now that classics could become a thing of the past. (No pun intended haha)
DA: What is an ultimate goal or something you’d consider a milestone that you’ve yet to achieve or accomplish?
LA: My next little goal is to have some of my originals released on a major label. Another goal is to start getting booked for gigs purely on the back of my releases. For me, that’s when I know that my music is getting through to people when booking agents think they can fill a nightclub with myself as one of the acts on the roster. The ultimate goal however is to become a world renowned producer and live off my earnings as a musician. There’s so many cool places that I’d love to see and share my music with the people that live there and given the opportunity I’d take it in a heartbeat. I think that’s what is most rewarding about Electronic Music, being able to share what you have slaved away on for hours in your studio to then finally play it out in front of an audience. It’s such a rewarding industry but very tough to break into.
DA: What is your DJ equipment of choice and why?
LA: Growing up on vinyl I have always liked hands-on control over the music. However, vinyl is a pain to carry and a pain to store, so now days CD’s are the more viable option. At home I’ve got a pair of Pioneer Decks & did have a DJM800 although sold it to a friend so I could buy some new plug ins and keyboard. Literally two weeks ago I bought the NI Traktor S4 after my cousin showed me it and some of its features. I was really blown away with some of the stuff you can do and love the cross between hands on control with digital precision.
DA: What program do you use to produce? Any favorite VSTs?
LA: Right now I’m an Ableton user and using Version 8. I started on Ableton and found it very quick and easy to pick up and learn which I think is important when you’re just starting out because you want to try so many things but might not necessarily know how, Ableton makes it far less complicated than it needs to be be. I do however want to try Logic because I like the sounds of some of the plug ins that come standard with it. Either way though it comes down to the user not the program, so changing programs might not make my music any better, maybe just different.
Some of my favorite VSTs would be the Sylenth1, FM8 and also the Vanguard. Each have got such a powerful engine behind them which gives their sounds a unique texture. There are also a lot of others that I use for different sounds but these three stand out in my mind.
DA: What signature sounds or drums from some of your favorite artists do you find really compelling and wish you knew how to make (i.e. Afrojack drums, Thomas Gold piano, Porter Robinson bass line)?
LA: Well as a big fan of Eric Prydz work I think his signature sounds is what pushes me to create my own unique sounds. I find it hard to fully enjoy his music cause I sit there the whole time dissecting the track in my head trying to figure out what he’s done to particular sounds in order to create it when I should just be loosing myself in his music. It’s a pain in the ass thinking like that but I think it’s what will make me a better producer. With Eric, its not so much the sounds that he has created but the automation to that sound that is so inspiring. If you listen closely to each sound there is something constantly changing about it which keeps the track forever evolving. This is what I’d like to achieve in my music, were people question how my music can have so many different feelings, yet use only a few elements and different sounds. Sometimes less is more.
DA: Thanks for your time Liam! We hope to see big things from you in the future!
Check out some of what Liam has been cooking up in his laboratories!
Bryan Cohren – Aloha Vera (Arkadia Remix)
Sharam Jey – The More That I Do (Arkadia Remix)
C-Rogue – The Moment (Arkadia Remix)
To submit for Stargazers consideration: email original work and a synopsis of your accomplishments to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title – ‘Stargazers Submission.’