Jul 28, 2021
Empra Celebrates New Darklight Release With Massive Live Set
“I love the new sound I’m playing right now and I’m super excited to show the world this new direction I’m heading.” Empra brings nothing but vibes with his sunset live set from the top floor of Matrix Club, in Bochum, Germany. His interview offers an inside look at his new release “You & I,” close work with Fedde Le Grand and Darklight Recordings, and his bright future ahead!
Empra, thanks so much for joining us to celebrate your new single on Darklight! Starting out, can you take us all the way back and tell us about how you got started with a career in music? Who were some of your early inspirations that led you down this path?
Thank you so much for having me! Well, honestly I started listening to electronic dance music way back in around 2008. The next couple of years I really enjoyed listening to records from David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, Tim Berg and later Avicii and obviously Fedde Le Grand. One day, a friend of mine showed me the Tomorrowland 2011 Aftermovie and that was the exact moment that I became obsessed with dance music and its festival culture. I also used to play keyboard and guitar as a kid growing up and I quickly figured that I kind of had a thing going for music and rhythm. Playing instruments never really 100% satisfied me creatively though, so when another friend of mine introduced me to my first DAW, Fruity Loops Studio, I was super excited about the fact that I can write, record and produce my very own music all on my own. This was eye-opening to me and ever since then I tried to learn as much as I could about producing dance music.
What has the evolution of your career been like from when you just got started until now? What have been some of your highlights and milestones along the way?
I have been producing EDM ever since around 2012, but it was always just a hobby for me. In 2017 I started Empra and from that moment on I wanted to be a bit more serious about my career. Obviously, being the first DJ ever to play the New Horizons Festival Mainstage at an iconic venue like the Nürburgring was pretty awesome. Also, playing at Parookaville and the famous Bootshaus Club in Cologne as a German DJ was exciting for me as well. In just two years time I was able to share the stage with dance music's biggest artists, which is mind blowing to me because these people inspired me to pursue that career in the first place.
But of course everything surrounding the Tomorrowland The Sound of Tomorrow competition has to be my all-time career highlight. I met so many amazing new people who I am able to call my friends today, and have been getting so much advice and help from Fedde who is like a mentor to me. But playing my very own set at Tomorrowland as well as revealing the remix I did for Fedde together with him on the Mainstage were some of my life’s biggest dreams coming true. I’m feeling very blessed that I have had the opportunity to get to these milestones at such a young age.
While it's been a difficult past year and a half since the onset of Covid, what have been some of the positives that you've been able to draw from this period?
Well, in my honest opinion, it’s rough to find many positive things about the past one and a half years. I took a step back to try to figure out where and who I want to be in the future. Not only musically with Empra as an artist, but personally as well. I experimented with creating new and different music and tried to learn new techniques about music production. I figured out that I actually really enjoy adding tech and deep house tracks into my sets so I will keep on exploring this musical side of me in the future for sure. I also used a lot of the time in lockdown to rebuild a home studio in my basement, with DIY acoustic panels and all that good stuff. It turned out pretty dope actually, but we had some really bad weather the past couple of weeks and I now have to rebuild it again because it flooded. I had a good two months where I was actually able to produce music in this space before it got destroyed again haha.
Let’s jump into “You & I”! What was the initial inspiration for the track? How did you move from the first sketch to the final production that we hear today?
The initial inspiration was actually me trying to make a YouTube Tutorial on how I create my vocoder effects in my productions. I was searching for a cool and catchy top line which I could use for this video and I stumbled upon the “You & I” vocal. I added the vocoder and inspiration struck me instantly. I started to have some fun with the production and after around three to four hours the rough demo of the record was there. I then finalized it, sent it off to Darklight and Fedde was on board and ready to sign it straight away. He also asked me to make a club mix of it and I decided to give it a future house/bounce vibe before I continue to further discover my new sound going into the next half of 2021.
To celebrate the release, you’ve crafted a live set from an old warehouse / tower. Tell us some more about the idea and bringing the concept to life.
Well, the Matrix is a club here in my hometown in Bochum, Germany and I definitely wanted to make something special for my 1001Tracklists set. I figured that I want to keep the set real, rough and authentic, which for me is being in my hometown and paying respect to my roots, as well as giving it an interesting twist, sonically and visually. So instead of just playing at a club setting, my team and I decided to go to the highest floor in the building, didn’t clean it up and just set up the DJ booth and lights there. It really gives the video a rough and unpolished atmosphere but that’s exactly what we were going for: a DJ set with real live mixing, live camera action, only one shot to get it right because of the sunset and other factors. I’m really happy with how this new Empra set turned out, I love the new sound I’m playing right now and I’m super excited to show the world this new direction I’m heading.
What was your mindset heading into the set? Can you tell us how you approached creating a flow and highlight three artists included and why they stand out to you?
Whenever I’m planning a live DJ set I’m trying to create an experience. It should feel like a big one hour long record instead of just throwing together some tracks randomly. I also love to work with harmonic mixing to emphasize the emotions of certain parts of the set. After filming the DJ set, my good friend and cameraman Victor, who also is an avid fan of electronic dance music, complimented me on the track selection, which really made me feel good about my choices regarding this DJ set.
There are a lot of great artists right now that I actually adore and appreciate, but if I had to pick only three, I would really wanna point out Crunkz, because I always loved his mashups and his way of mixing music in his sets. My second choice is Mo Falk, because there is practically no live set where I don’t play at least one record of his. This fellow German is so talented and creative it’s unreal, and he really created his own signature sound that many big DJs have started to recognize too. Last but not least I have to go with Bleu Clair, his sound is super interesting and I love to listen to his records or play them out. I was at a birthday party the other day and people didn’t know him but absolutely went nuts to his music.
This is now your fifth release on Darklight. What has it been like working with Fedde and the team? What does releasing on Darklight mean to you?
It’s been amazing. All of the Darklight members, no matter if they are artists or the staff, feel like a big family to me. The Darklight team and I always try to come up with something awesome for live sets or my new music. They have helped me out with every question I have, ever since I made that remix for Fedde back in 2019. And of course as I mentioned earlier, Fedde really wants to push me as an artist and as a person. He offers help and guidance, even though he is super busy himself, and I really do appreciate this act of selflessness. Really happy to be releasing on Darklight because I feel like they support my musical and artistic vision and try to bring it to life to the best of their abilities.
We’ve started to see live shows coming back in certain places in the world like the US, so what effect has seeing those had on you? Do you have any plans for upcoming live shows that you could share?
On one hand, I don’t want more Covid outbreaks to happen anywhere in this world, especially in countries where people are already celebrating parties and festivals again. I just want all countries to be safe again so that we finally are able to leave this pandemic behind us. But on the other side I think it is really inspiring to see the other DJs playing shows in the US or other countries. I think it's super important to see what’s possible and how we as a society can handle creating concerts and shows for people to enjoy, especially in these very exhausting and hard times. It gives me hope that maybe next year we all can celebrate life again together, without caution and with real emotions. But I know that we sooner or later, we’ll dance again.
As for upcoming shows, it’s been rather difficult to actually plan something here in Germany, as well as in our neighboring countries because of lockdown and different rules from different governments regarding the pandemic. Maybe there will be some shows this fall, but in my opinion it is more important to focus on beating the pandemic instead of playing one to two quick shows before everything shuts down again.
And as we head deeper into summer, what’s keeping you excited and motivated on a daily basis? Any other big plans for 2021 that you can share?
I want to keep inspiring people with my story, my live shows and my music. That has always been the best part about this journey to me. When people come to you and say that your story, your music or your show has had an impact on their life, then you know that you’ve done something that’s bigger than you. I just want to create the best music possible and get it out to as many people as possible. That’s all I want to reveal for now!
Empra - "You & I" is available to download/stream on your platform of choice today! https://darklight.lnk.to/YouandI
short link 1001.tl/g2gplb