Sep 28, 2020
The Journey Of Sonic Snares
Phil Reisinger, aka Sonic Snares, is an extremely talented Austrian musician. He has a unique background in drums and percussion, which later progressed into his career as a DJ and producer. Phil goes in depth on his journey from childhood to present day, and also tells us about his brand new track, “Somebody” ft. Curtis Richa, which just came out on Friday!
Hey Phil, thanks for joining us today! To start out, let's go all the way back to the beginning of your career in music. We understand that you started out as a drummer in bands?
Hi, thanks for the invitation! I started taking music lessons when I was only 5 years old. I learned the piano, drums, and had a classical education in percussion. In my childhood, I was part of a marching band and when I turned 14, I started to play as a session drummer in multiple bands. Only a few years later, I was touring in Europe with various rock and metal bands. That’s where I gained lots of experience being on stage, performing in front of a lot of people, sleeping in hotels, cars, tour buses, and so on.
When did you first get into electronic music? Who were some of your early electronic music inspirations?
Back in the day, I listened to nearly all kinds of music, as long as it was interesting to me in regards to melody, groove, or emotion. I was addicted to fusion jazz, scoring music, rock, metal, and classical music. There were albums by Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park, they worked with sample-based grooves combined with a typical rock-band-sound. When I first heard “Take A Look Around,” I could not understand how one single drummer could play so many rhythms at the same time! I was only 12 years old at the time and had no clue what a DAW or a groove box was. I was just practicing drums all day long.
From there, I got more and more into electronically produced music. I discovered artists like Groove Armada and Daft Punk. I could listen to the “Cafe Del Mar” samplers for hours, and always discover new kinds of rhythms. I tried to replicate them on my acoustic drum set, which was a big challenge because every limb has to do a different job, and the grooves – mostly based on samba or afro-cuban patterns – were very complex.
The journey went on and on, over the years my musical taste changed from ambient groove electronica to heavy drum & bass. I even had a live drum & bass project where I was the drummer and played to tracks like Noisia or Aphex Twin! That was also the time I got in touch with house DJs, and I started to work as a live act in clubs, playing drums & percussion on top of a driving tech house set. From there, I was in demand for lots of clubbings, special events, shows in nightclubs, and festivals.
When did you start producing and DJing and what was that transition like for you?
After playing lots of sets together with DJs, I felt a bit limited by their taste and so I decided to learn to DJ by myself, and finally, I combined my drumming skills with DJ skills. The beginning was tough because I really underestimated a big part of being a DJ – reading the crowd and reacting to their needs. I simply thought, if I play what I love, and deliver a huge show with a big drum set, everyone would go crazy! But soon I learned that there’s so much more to being a great DJ than just transitioning between records. I finally got into it by playing a lot of gigs, not only as a live act, but also as a nightclub DJ.
That was by far the most important time in my career as a DJ – I learned how people would react to certain kinds of music, and I could use that skill again to further develop my live act. I stopped overdubbing existing tracks with normal drums, I built my own electronic drums, and I got into producing private remixes of famous tracks, which I could then perform live with my illuminating drums. That was finally the birth of Sonic Snares.
Suddenly, my live show was way more interesting, I could remix songs on the fly – which I did with “Animals” by Martin Garrix or “Tsunami” by DVBBS. I prepared an empty drop and played the drop melody with my drums as other acts did with NI Maschine or sampling pads.
The deeper I got into the dance music industry, the more I recognized that only having a cool show with LED drums is by far not enough to enter main stages and big clubs around the world. It needs a brand, original music, a very unique style/taste, and dozens of other things I really had to work on. I think, in the end, being a true artist means to constantly evolve, go with the trends, and it’s a lot of hard work. That’s what I am trying up to this day by constantly learning how to produce better music, improving studio skills, developing new show concepts, and releasing new music.
How would you describe your current style as a producer and DJ?
It really was a long process to find the right sound that suits my show and my personality. I’m a very energetic person, I love big, hard drops. I love groove and huge, anthemic melodies. I enjoy story-telling tunes like Swedish House Mafia does with “Greyhound” or “One,” and I really love the energy of big room tribal tunes like “On Your Mark” by Wiwek & Gregor Salto, who are just killing it! Recently, I drew a lot of inspiration from the new movement by David Guetta & MORTEN with their signature style Future Rave -- so I could sum up my signature style as “Tribal Rave” if that makes any sense!
There is lots of movement in my bottom end, I mostly start making basslines with tom sounds to get a steady groove feel. Then I often work with percussion sounds for either fills or whole drops, they’re easy to be played in a live situation as well. I upgraded my studio quite substantially with a lot of analog equipment, such as synthesizers by Moog, Sequential, Roland, and Korg. I find it easier to play a hardware instrument than programming a synth sound from scratch. The hardware gear already gives you a certain flavour or direction, which helps to carve out a unique sound quicker in my opinion.
When performing live, you would hear a combination of all mentioned influences, paired with all-time classics. I did my own edits of Avicii’s “Levels” and Swedish House Mafia’s “Leave The World Behind.” Lately, I am also heavily influenced by 90s rave and UK warehouse. I am currently working on tracks with those sounds in it!
You've got a brand new track that just came out on your label FST’N’FWRD Records, “Somebody” feat. Curtis Richa. How did this track come about and how did you end up working with Curtis on it?
In October 2019, straight after ADE, I invited Nino Lucarelli to my studio. We did a songwriting session for five days, and we had quite a productive outcome with six song ideas, which I wanted to release in 2020. He also showed me some lyrics that have been recorded at VocalKitchen (the songwriting agency he’s working with), and one vocal hook from Curtis Richa got my immediate attention. It was a simple but effective line, dubbed with vocoder adlibs. I had a finished instrumental on my hard drive, placed the vocals on top of it, and that was the first version of “Somebody.”
I wasn’t satisfied with the drop so I played around with my new Sequential PRO3 analog synth, came up with the main drop melody, and that is what you can hear now! I really love the energy of this tune, it’s perfect for big stages!
While shows are currently on hold due to COVID, let's reminisce a bit. What's your all-time favorite performance, and what made it so special?
I’d say it was Mumbai 2016. I was booked by the biggest university in India, the IIT Mumbai, for their annual Techfest. It was the first time I would travel by plane with my whole equipment to perform on a different continent than Europe – it was so exciting! I couldn’t believe I was the headline act for their festival, performing in front of thousands of Indian students! The energy was unbelievable, it was so different than what I had ever experienced at any show before. When I started, people were sitting in the arena, and when the first drop hit, everyone jumped around like crazy, and that energy held on for the whole 45 minutes I was performing!
That show also opened a lot of opportunities for me. I got more bookings in India, and the management of AFISHAL Music based in London wanted to work with me. They’ve done all of my international bookings since then, so this event was kind of a kickstarter for my international career!
Speaking of COVID, how have you been handling this period? What have been some of your highlights during this time? Do you have any advice for other artists out there?
I’m not lying, COVID hit me hard. Just a few days before the first lockdown in Austria, I received my flight tickets to Las Vegas – I would have had multiple shows there. I lost bookings all over the world – shows in China, France, Italy, Spain were cancelled. Even my first appearance in Ibiza would have taken place in 2020. It stung, but I also feel that once we overcome the pandemic, people around the globe will only party harder. Everyone is craving live events, loud music, club atmosphere, and big festivals!
We did multiple live streams, which went really well. The biggest one was the AFISHAL & Friends Livestream. I performed alongside Mashd’N’Kutcher, PBH & Jack, and of course our host AFISHAL. That stream had 25,000 views and was broadcasted around the world. I also released a single with Nino Lucarelli, “Back 2 Life,” which got huge support from a lot of DJs, including Thomas Gold and Albert Neve.
I guess the whole crisis will help to distinguish between artists that really have something to say and mean what they are doing and those that try to get attention through beautiful Instagram pictures with no deeper value. There will be a restart as soon as the government restrictions are lifted. We will have clubbings and festivals again. Electronic music is not dead all of a sudden, I just feel like we all are in a kind of a “snooze mode.”
It’s difficult to say how long we still have to wait, so my biggest advice would be to stay relevant, but place quality over quantity. There’s no sense in keeping up with crazy release schedules when you don’t have the opportunities to play out all that new music in front of real people. Now is the time to really carve out your brand, your image, your musical style. We all have lots of time to make music, and I guess that’s the best thing we can do right now. There’s no need to jump on every single trend, but be aware of how the situation is developing. Those ones that stand out after the end of the pandemic will be the next superstars, that’s what I truly believe.
And finally, what's one goal that you'd like to achieve by the end of next year?
Well, that’s depending on how quickly things change worldwide. But let’s say we come to an end of the lockdowns and restrictions by spring 2021, then the goal for me is clear: touring internationally again as quickly as possible, having tons of fun and unforgettable moments with people all over the world!
You can stream or download "Somebody" ft. Curtis Richa on your platform of choice today! https://fstnfwrd.lnk.to/somebody
short link 1001.tl/p757x2