Paradoks makes Purified Records debut with ‘Flying Particles’ EP [Q&A]
Paradoks has been a rising force for some time now. The Belgian producer’s unique brand of melodic techno strikes a delicate balance between emotional and powerful, two contentious emotions Paradoks manages to hold in tandem. His individual blend has caught the ears of several big names in the industry, even garnering a recent spin on BBC Radio 1 courtesy of none other than Pete Tong.
Additionally, veteran producer Nora En Pure recently began following Paradoks, inviting him to release an EP on Purified Records. His offering to the label, Flying Particles, is an meticulous two-tracker that highlights his strengths, manifesting in the title track’s delicate strings and airy synths over a driving rhythm, and “Wander,” which holds similar weight while altering the tone, taking it to a deeper territory.
Dancing Astronaut caught up with Paradoks to chat about his most recent EP, the attention to detail that is apparent throughout his catalog, and working with Nora En Pure. Read the Q&A below.
Your tracks on Flying Particles are very emotive, yet you maintain a strong driving force throughout. How do you find the balance between those two elements?
Paradoks: “I would say that the balance between emotion and power is what actually defines my music. I started my musical journey by picking up the piano 14 years ago. I spent hours every day (even during lunch breaks at school in the music room) teaching myself and improving my skills by learning the different songs I loved from Roberto Cacciapaglia and Ludovico Einaudi, for example.
I then started composing my own piano songs. Thirsty for ideas and influenced by different genres of music, I naturally started creating electronic music and discovered the infinite amount of creative possibilities. I like to feel, and emotional music does just that: it makes you feel alive. As we agreed on with Nora En Pure when we met, it’s what can transform a normal daily walk into a meaningful moment, almost like a movie scene. What would movies actually be without music? I also love to dance and let loose, and I make dance music. A strong drop, for example, also creates a feeling of adrenaline. Music that is too soft won’t get the people to dance, and I want everybody to have a great time and to create energy and epic moments on the dance floor.”
One of the standout traits of Flying Particles to me is the dedication and detail that you put into your music. When it comes to producing, would you have more of a perfectionist or go-with-the-flow style?
Paradoks: “It is important to ‘go-with-the-flow’ in the first creative stage when developing ideas, especially in the first hour or so. But the perfectionist in me very quickly takes over, and I am trying to learn to be more spontaneous for longer periods of time before my analytical brain kicks in. I am a bit obsessed with EQ. For example, I often interrupt my flow to quickly fix that small frequency in the hat or synth that annoys me. I then often go for a short walk in my forest to listen to my track while walking, jotting down all the small changes and ideas: fill missing at 2:57, make pad 1dB louder, reduce resonance at 4kHz…Those lists can be very long and are mostly things that nobody would really realize. But it is important for me to fix them in order to be personally satisfied with the final piece.
On the one hand, perfectionism is good because it allows me to create a polished final track and really make it worthy, but it can also prevent creativity which sometimes makes me lose the love for the song. I have too many good tracks sleeping on the computer because I am too lazy to fix that one frequency clash that annoys me. In the end, the best music always comes from letting go, which is an art in itself.”
How would you describe the evolution of your personal sound? If you have any clue, do you know where it’s headed?
Paradoks: “When I started my Paradoks project, I was driven by darker tech house like the music from Hot Since 82. Very quickly though, I discovered music by Township Rebellion and Moonwalk, which really influenced me a lot and directed me to the world of melodic techno. I don’t know yet where my personal sound is heading, but I know for sure that I don’t want to establish boundaries or stick to the exact same style. I always try to create something different from the previous release while keeping my essence. The good thing is that I don’t have to try too hard, though I often ditch some high potential ideas solely based on their similarity with other songs of mine.”
Pete Tong played your new track “Wander” on Radio 1 recently, how did it feel to get recognition from such a legendary tastemaker?
Paradoks: “It is of course a great feeling to have my music played by Pete Tong on BBC Radio 1. As a musician, or as any artist really, we spend years perfecting our craft without getting any feedback at first. Getting that recognition for what you do is important to keep you motivated to create more. But I also believe it’s important to let go of it all when you are back in the studio, in order to not be biased by what was hot and what wasn’t. I am most grateful that Nora En Pure discovered my music and that we also connected on a personal level. She is the first ‘big act’ in the industry that not only played my music but also believes in me and follows up. This for me is worth way more than DJ plays without any interaction.”
Flying Particles is your debut on Purified Records. What in particular (about your EP or the label) led you to work with Purified for this project?
Paradoks: “Shortly after my release of ‘Floating’ on Stil Vor Talent, Mariana (A&R of Purified) contacted me and said Nora En Pure really loved ‘Floating’ and they would love to listen to unreleased material. Nora played ‘Floating’ on the Tomorrowland Live stream, Purified 200 x Beatport, and on many different occasions. I was just finishing ‘Flying Particles’ and thought it could be something for Purified, but I first wanted to try it in my livestream in the mountains. Shortly after the stream, I got another email from Mariana asking if that specific track was free, and it just confirmed that indeed, it was for Purified.”
Your new EP marks a huge development for your career in a number of regards, what are your ambitions going forward?
Paradoks: “Releasing on Purified is a great experience so far, and there will be more in the future. I will never stop creating and releasing music, but I also have a lot of different projects. COVID-19 made me realize how fragile our music industry is. I had to cancel all my upcoming tours and shows. To make the best out of it, I decided to enroll in a master’s degree program in Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Barcelona. I feel there is a lot that can be improved in our industry and feel like the possibilities are endless.
I am also open to creating different projects apart from the music, who knows? But as far as music is concerned, I know that eventually in the future I will create my own label, brand, and more. At the moment, my first and most important goal though, is to be able to live exclusively out of music, and to also keep learning and striving to become a better musician, but most importantly a better human.”