A Sit Down With DJ Xilent
With his ultra-bold tracks between dubstep and EDM, Xilent has risen to become one of the hottest producers and remixers. In the studio he uses powerful tools and the efficient workflow of Bitwig. But nothing is more important to him than a good idea that you can hum in the shower.
"As long as you treat everything as a remix, because everythings pretty much already been done, calling something an influence, you know, would be emphasising that, whoevers influencing you is like a massive entity to you."
Where did the name Xilent come from?
Theres this game series, Im not sure if you guys know? Silent Hill by Konami. Its a Japanese survival horror game, for those who dont know it. Its, like, a massive franchise, and its badly rebooted these days, but back when it came out, at first, when it was still done by the japanese team, thats when I was the biggest fan of it, and of the music producer for the game, Akira Yamaoka, who turns out to be using so many samples from BT. I didnt even know about that until, like, January of this year, so Im still mind-blown that, like, that Ive been actually, really, influenced by BT rather than Silent Hill itself, so, yeah, I guess BT is awesome. *laughs* But, no, what I mean to say is that Silent Hill, all I basically did was replace the first letter, from an S to an X, and everybody got confused, everybody started calling me Excellent, and what kind of a douchebag would I have to be to call myselfExcellent! That was not my plan, that was not my vision!
When you released Choose Me were you surprised about the instant success?
I definitely was, especially when you reminisce on the time when you came up with the idea for the track. In this case I was just on my way back from university and had that simple vocal idea playing in my head. It wasnt the original house version of the track that made the boom happen. At that time the new wave of dubstep was still on its way up and many suggested that I try to do something in that direction. It was definitely a good thing for me.
You switched from drumming to the virtual world of DAWs. How did that affect your music?
Good question! I have found that I have somehow lost my musical education on piano and percussion. I'm no longer so fluent with the drumsticks and the piano keys and have forgotten a lot of theory and vocabulary. Instead, keyboard, mouse, buttons and controls have taken over my life. It can be said that I have become a composing machine.
What's your favorite track, out of all of the tracks you've produced?
When it comes to my favourite track that Ive ever made in my whole career, its probably « Pixel Journey« , and its, like, this Electro/Complextro kind of thing. I made it when I was, probably, in the happiest time of my life. I had just moved to Spain, living in this nice, little penthouse, and my fiance at the time was about to join me, so we were completely free to do whatever we wanted. That was my happiest moment, I think, and I wrote the track over there, but I dont really play it, because, as I said, I dont really play Electro House anymore. But, when it comes to a track that I still play, and Im still really proud of, I would have to say that it is « Boss Wave« , and its only because it was a massive breakthrough for me, but I dont really play the original of the track, though, I play a special VIP, which I never released, so thats always something. So, yeah, « Boss Wave » and « Pixel Journey », which both seem to be the only chip-tune 8-bit sounding tracks in my entire catalogue, for some reason, but yeah, its those two, I would say.
When did you start to produce Bass Music?
Professionally, it must have been in 2010, when I released my first Drum and Bass single. It was with very small labels in the beginning, but when I started to make my own music, I was probably, like, eight years old. And that was with really ancient software, which is dicontinued, it's a relic. It was called Rebirth RB-338 by Propellerhead. They were a big company back in the day, and they are still are now. But, yeah, I took a ten year break, and then I started making it again when I turned 18. So it's always on the age of 18, it's just continued on. But, yeah, I would say 18 was the first year of professionally producing music.
Is there a different way in approach when producing Dubstep or Drum & Bass?
Time did a lot for me. I polished my production skills and knowledge in so many ways that its difficult to compare, because recently Im mostly producing everything below 170 bpm. There will be drum & bass coming from me this year, so I guess Ill have to challenge myself. At this point Im trying to put as much melody into dubstep as possible, since this is what I had trouble finding in that genre in the past years if it wasnt for a couple of fellow artists I would lose hope for melodic dubstep entirely. As for drum & bass, I have always tried to put everything I have in my mind thats connected to the future and technology into it, to make it sound as impossible, complex and pumping as possible. Now that I listen to my drum & bass from the past, I understand the ideas I had, but today I would have put them into reality ten times better.
In what extent have you grown as an artist since your breakthrough with "Choose Me"?
I think the best way to recognize growth is on the drums. They are much clearer and clearer today and have the right transients. This makes them better forward in the mix. In the past, I did not care enough about the low frequencies. Some of my earlier productions do not even have a sub-bass channel with a strong sine wave. Also on "Choose Me" I just grabbed a reese bass and emphasized the low frequencies.
Many of your productions are extremely packed with sounds. How to achieve the balance so that it does not seem overloaded?
That's right , I've been a maximalist in recent years. That will change now. I recognize from the audience's reactions that the days of hyper-sounds are over and the new direction is rather minimal and catchy. As producers, we still pay too much attention to mixdown and not enough idea, melody and lyrics. Sometimes it's better to wonder if you can sing my music in the shower instead of worrying about adding more gain to the 200 Hz snare drum.
Your favorite club in the world?
Oh way too difficult to tell. So many lovely memories associated with each venue For now Im just gonna have to say Arena in Moscow, Russia. Wonderful times!
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