Interview Date: 13 March 17
Camikaze's Music: Listen Genres: EDM, Pop
When an artist's music gets picked to be showcased on the premiere channel, Mr. Suicide Sheep, you know that they have something special and unique to share. Camikaze is no exception. His creative blend of Indie electronic, future bass, and hip hop send a very powerful emotional message to the listener and force you to hit repeat. Many of today's music lacks originality and character and Camikaze’s production style of captivating leads, distorted synths, transformative vocals, and euphoric drops, show there are still unique and inspiring stories to tell through electronic music. We had a chance to get inside the production process of this up and coming producer's tracks and find out what goes in to creating these masterpieces on a technical and mental level.
SoundShock: Well, let’s start from the beginning before we get into an technical questions. Who is Camikaze and how did the musical journey begin for you?
Camikaze is an alias I created a few years back to transition from my other projects into a more experimental electronic music space. I had been making Hip-hop, House & Dubstep for a few years prior under different alias'. The musical journey for Camikaze begun after I wrote "Shadows" with Zoe. I was only 17 at the time & I managed to score a record deal from that song.
Your tracks are full of beautiful progressions and track defining leads. Are there any specific techniques that you use to get the emotion that you want out of these two musical parts?
Most of the time, I would not be able to explain the techniques I use purely because they are basically second nature to me now. I really like very raw distorted sounds. Pitch bending & portamento on the lead synths plays a big role in a lot of my songs. I can definitely say the emotion derives from a lot of things that have happened in my early life. I'm very prone to nostalgia & reminiscing on things. Sometimes when I am writing a song it's pretty much a mental breakdown.
Your choruses contain many synth elements and punchy drums that cut through perfectly in the mix. How do you achieve clarity and power in your mix with so many frequency rich elements playing?
First of all, you have to make sure you have quality samples, you can't polish a turd. Although I do love my lo-fi sounds, they are always great quality lo-fi sounds haha. If you start with that you don't really have to do much with things like drums. I also focus a lot on syncopation with my drums. I feel it highlights the emotion and energy of my music. My synths, on the other hand, is all about layering and musicality. Sound design comes next. I'm always trying to make my sounds feel a little worn out like an old warm fireplace on my nan's farm, to convey comfort. A lot of producers will tell you that it's important to have an acoustically sound room and a few essential pieces of gear that will end up costing you thousands of dollars. It's definitely not. As long as you can define what sounds good on the gear that you have, I think it's possible to create masterpieces. If it's any consolation, I don't even have a studio. Just a laptop & a pair of $200 headphones. It's always better to have a beautiful mess than a perfect nightmare.
Where do you find inspiration? Also if you are working in the studio and get stuck, how do you get past that point?
I find most of my inspiration from visualizing places that aren't real & memories that don't exist. If you get stuck, you wait. The worst thing you can do is try to force creativity. It will come back to you.
Your tracks also contain many talented vocalists. Talk a bit about the collaboration process between you and the vocalist. Are there any specific steps you take when producing and communicating with the vocalist to ensure that your session or idea bouncing is creative and productive?
Most of the vocalists I work with I know in real life. I feel it's much easier to work like that because I am also a songwriter & I can't sing to save my life. Sending demos of me trying to sing my songs is embarrassing. The only vocalist I have worked with that I don't know in person is airospace. I hit him up via Soundcloud after hearing a few of his songs. I gave a rough guide to the meaning behind the song & he just absolutely nailed it. Him & I get along like peas & carrots. I think that is essential in your collaborative process, to be on the same page and have the same views on a lot of things.
A big sticking point for producers is not being able to finish tracks. Do you have any specific techniques that help you get past this?
Just stick at it. The more you practice, the more will come out. A big thing for me when this happened was getting so frustrated you believe that the "big gun boy & girl producers" are hiding some kind of secret ingredient to make their production better than yours. What I learned is that the biggest secret to making music is that there is no secret. There is no special sauce. It's all about the effort & time you put in to create.
What is one piece of advice that you wish you knew when you started out making music?
Don't worry about where anyone else is at. Focus on yourself & who you want to be. Once you realize there is no competition, only then can you create.
What are your go-to effects and processing chains at the moment?
I will only use FL studio's native plugins for processing with a few third party plugins. I'm pretty sure the only third party effect plugin I have is camel crusher & that's a free one. FL studio's Parametric EQ 2 & Maximus are my most used plugins for dynamics. Maximus does all my compression & sidechaining so quickly & easily. Fruity Delay 2 & Fruity Reverb 2 are what I use for time-delay processing.
"Don't worry about where anyone else is at. Focus on yourself & who you want to be. Once you realize there is no competition, only then can you create." Camikaze
Arranging tracks is another sticking point. Producers get stuck in that 8 bar loop and can’t seem to break out of it. What are your techniques for expanding your ideas out into a full arrangement.
Depending on what kind of music you are trying to create, research that style. In my early days I would grab other tracks from people I liked and copy their song arrangement to get my head around how it is done. Once you get an understanding of it, try it from scratch yourself. Like I said before, It's going to take some time. You learn for yourself & it becomes second nature.
Your drum programming fits your synth heavy tracks very well. They provide just the right amount of energy. How do you go about choosing your drum samples and programming them?
Most of my drum samples have been gathered up over years of making music. I made a lot of tom drum samples myself on my friend's drum kit a few years back. Freesound.org is also a fantastic source for free samples. I have a rough idea prior to production of how I want it to sound & I know my sample library very well so it's easy for me to find what I want. I love making my drums off-beat & imperfect to achieve a more organic sound. Quite often it's just an explosion of emotion, which is best showcased in "An Evening Paradigm".
With nothing but killer productions on your soundcloud, you must have something exciting lined up for the future. Anything exiting coming up?
I do I do I do & I'm very excited! I've been working on my live show for quite a while now, It's very close to completion. I also have a new single coming out very soon so keep your eyes & ears close by.