John Martin & Michel Zitron talk new VCATION project, working with Swedish House Mafia, and Avicii’s passing [Interview]
Dance music supporters of any background can undeniably attest to the fact that, voluntarily or not, the lyrics and melodies of tracks such as “Don’t You Worry Child” and “Reload” have been engraved into their memories forever. This comes partly due to Swedish songwriters John Martin and Michel Zitron, who have played an instrumental role in shifting the landscape of electronic dance music throughout the past decade. The duo has lent their choral prowess to an impressive bill of some of the most recognizable artists on the planet including Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, Tiësto, Martin Garrix, and Alesso just to name a few, and now they’re building upon their storied careers.
Earlier this summer, two cemented their longtime friendship into an official brand name: VCATION. The duo has wasted no time getting the VCATION ball rolling. They’ve already unveiled two critically acclaimed singles since the project’s inception in late July with “Lay Low” and most recently, “When We Were Gold.” Both releases have been a clear testament that the Swedes are picking up right where they left off, infusing their timeless lyricism with retro-inspired composition that has quickly proven this project is here to stay. Martin and Zitron are taking full command at the wheel this time around, appearing as the only credited names in the releases’ production, allowing them to shine on both the lyrical front and the instrumental side.
DA sat down with both Martin and Zitron to hear why this was the right time to launch VCATION, the experiences they have had working alongside dance music legends, and their thoughts on the Swedish House Mafia reunion.
You guys have been working together for a very long time and have been involved in some of the biggest releases in dance music, working with everyone from Swedish House Mafia to Tiësto to Martin Garrix. How did you two originally meet one another?
We met through a mutual friend at a nightclub in Stockholm. After 10 Jack and Cokes we decided to be best friends forever and start an indie band, sing super melancholic songs and make impact on the Swedish hipster community. That never really happened.
You debuted VCATION earlier this summer. How did that initially come about? Was forming an official artist duo something you always aspired to do?
We’ve been a duo since day one. All the big projects we’ve been working on have been as a songwriting team. We still write songs for others but we wanted to start a project where we dictate the rules of when to release a song, how it will sound, etc. We both share the vocal duties on this project, but we’re going to invite other vocalists to contribute as well. The biggest difference is the challenge of starting a new brand, which right now feels exciting and fulfilling.
The project’s second official single, “When We Were Gold,” is officially out now. What can you tell us about that release and how have you gone about deciding the genre direction for the music?
We don’t really think about genres anymore. We still have big love for the dance community and many of our songs are easy to dress up in electronic costumes. With that said, we have songs coming up that sounds totally different from anything we’ve done before. We want to invite our new and old fans to a brand new chapter.
Do you have any plans to release a proper project such as an EP or an album or are you more focused on singles for now?
Who listens to albums these days? :)
Would you say that VCATION is the sole focus at the moment for both of you, or are you still looking to create music with other artists and producers?
We’re going to focus on everything that feels good. The aim is to make music with people we love and admire. We have a lot of new music coming with VCATION, so we guess that this will take a lot of our time at the moment.
You both played a major role in some of Swedish House Mafia’s biggest hits. What were your initial thoughts when you found out about their reunion? Are there any plans to collaborate again?
It’s amazing to see the guys back together. They truly changed our lives and we’re forever thankful for them believing in us and our songwriting. Our paths haven’t really crossed in a while.
Having worked on music with the late Avicii, you must have gotten to know each other pretty well. How would you describe the experience of working with him? What advice would you give to artists who struggle to balance both their careers and personal lives?
Working with Tim was amazing, he was just a young kid back then. Already then you could tell that he was going places and he knew what he wanted musically, but, on a personal level, he was so unprepared for all the greatness he was about to achieve. On that level of success, most of us human beings crack. We’re just not designed to handle that amount of fame, stress and pressure. Surround yourself with people you love and trust.