Oct 11, 2017
SWACQ Features Prominently On Club Life Vol. 5
Last friday, Tiësto continued building upon his Club Life legacy, releasing the Club Life Vol. 5 - China compilation. The latest addition to the Club Life collection perfectly encapsulates the growing excitement and potential found in the Chinese dance music scene. There may be no better artist featured on the compilation to embody that same promise and potential than SWACQ. With two solo tracks and two collaborations on the album, this moment is sure to be a springboard for the rest of his career. We caught up with SWACQ for a detailed look inside his work flow, respect and admiration for Tiësto, and close work with both Tijs and John Christian.
Can you tell us a little bit about your musical background as Arin Tone and what led you to change your name and rebrand to SWACQ?
From my perspective, Arin Tone was the perfect pseudonym to use for my breeding ground period. I needed to find out what I really wanted as a producer and artist before I would start the real thing. In that period I got to learn a lot about the music industry itself and how to collaborate with others. When I felt ready I chose a name which kind of says it all; SWACQ – Sounds With A Certain Quality.
What influence has Tiësto and Club Life previously had on you during your musical career?
Tiësto has influenced me since day one of my dance music ambitions without him even knowing it. He was the reason why I wanted to become a DJ/producer in the first place. As for Club Life, I always liked the geographic concept of the albums. Focusing on a certain part of the world gives source for inspiration and a lot of opportunity to collaborate in a way that’s not seen on regular artist albums. I always hoped for a chance like this, and I’m glad and freaking excited that on this China edition of Club Life I got the chance to show the world what I’m capable of.
How’d you link up with Tijs and the Musical Freedom team and what does it mean to you to feature so prominently on the new Club Life album?
I am happy that I extensively got to know Tijs and his crew. I understand now how they manage to keep Tiësto, Club Life and Musical Freedom on top of the game and so I am very happy that I got the chance to collaborate with these kinds of industry professionals. Besides that, it’s not only a major career opportunity, but it’s also a huge acknowledgement for my abilities as a musician and as a producer.
You and Tijs have your own collaboration on the album, titled “Sumos.” What brought you guys together to work on that track and what was the experience like?
We started working on the break by trying some guitar riffs, which we could process in a quirky way. After finding the right riff and the right processing, which you now can hear on the final product, it inspired us to finish the complete break in just a few hours. Then Tijs came up with the idea to make a drop with a deviant way of side chaining the lead sound. Basically we were just fooling around with the settings of the side chain plugin, but at a certain point the effect really caught us by surprise. At first we both needed to get used to it, but we decided to leave it like that because we were eager to do something different. Then totally unexpectedly Tijs came up with the idea of releasing this track as a collaboration. When we actually collaborated on this track in the studio I was thinking, “Holy F#&$ I have a collaboration track with Tiësto, is this real?!!?” Also the fun that we had in the studio is what makes this one of my most memorable experiences as a producer so far.
You also have two solo singles on the album, so can you pick one of them and take us from the initial inspiration to final tweaking on the track?
I’ll pick SWACQ – “Guerilla.” It actually started as groovy idea with a plucky melody. Once I had the right melody, I went looking for a layer that was less stabby. After an hour of random preset skipping I went to my own presets and found I had made a dirty saw in the past, and once I let it play the melody I was like, “WOW this has to be the main lead!” So I deleted the plucky leads and started building around that lead. As for the beat, it didn’t have the right power since I changed the lead, so I kept the groove but changed the beat into a more big room-ish one. A little SWACQ fun fact, I always take a buildup from another track and start working on the drop – that way I don’t lose time on making big buildups and block myself when it comes to making a drop. So now I have my drop elements, but an existing buildup, so that’s where I went next. Next to stacking up uplifters, downlifters, snares and vocal shouts, I always try to implement something from the drop in the build so that it doesn’t come too much as a surprise, I believe people need to get a little heads up before the real chaos starts :P.
In “Guerilla” the break started as a reggae kind of vibe, which develops into the main melody that you hear now. But when Tijs came into the studio, he said to me that I should maybe delete that part and make the first part of the break more minimalistic because it felt like the reggae vibe had nothing to do with the rest of the track. So I tried that, and he was right, all of the elements were right on point since then!
Also in this break there is a huge breakdown that slows the track down to around 100 BPM and builds it back up to 130. I like to do those BPM changes because it makes people clap and sing-along!
After all that I started to implement my FX and tricks to give the track that extra edge. When I do that I always realize how important small adds or changes can flip a track around and make it way more special!
In the intro & outro, I always copy elements from the main part of the track into those parts but in a more playful way, just to tease what’s coming. Reverb and delays always come in very handy in those situations :).
Last but not least, mixing/mastering. What I like to do here first is listen to chill music so that I can reset my ears. After I go search for tracks that I like mastering wise and I put them into Magic AB (plugin that let’s you compare several tracks easily) and try to get the mix better than those I’m comparing with. As for the mastering, I sit with John Christian and we both make the final touches; fresh ears do wonders, that’s why I like to work in teams!
The album concludes with your collaboration with John and Tijs, called “Brolab.” You’ve worked previously with John on “Collage,” “Infinity,” and “House of God,” so what was it like to be back working with him and Tiësto together?
I work with John on a daily basis; he mentored me for six years and made me the producer I am today, so it felt like home. For both of us it was a special moment, because Tiësto is the kind of guy that makes you forget about his position or status in this industry within two minutes by just being the fun and humble guy he really is. We were in the studio, the three of us, just having fun and that made me remember that that was the main reason to start producing in the first place.
Of your four tracks on the album, which do you think is your favorite and why?
“Brolab” for sure! For me to be able to work with the man who made me want to become a DJ, and the man who made me the producer I am today is not something that happens every day!
You can find the full Club Life Vol. 5 album on your platform of choice here: http://musicalfreedom.lnk.to/clublife5
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