Today marks the return of Tunisian artist Different Ray to Loot Recordings, arriving with the stunning ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ EP. We caught up with him to jump deeper into his musical influeces, what went into this release & more.
Can you tell us about your journey into the world of electronic music and how you got started as a DJ and producer?
I’ve had a deep passion for music since a young age. It all began when I was around 15 years old, hanging out with a friend who had some DJ equipment at his house. We started experimenting with mixing tracks, and I was instantly hooked. As time passed, my curiosity about music production grew. I wanted to understand the inner workings of the tracks I was mixing and to contribute my own sounds. So, I began my journey into music production. Initially, it was just a hobby, a way to satisfy my curiosity, but it quickly evolved into something more profound. With each passing year, my knowledge of music production deepened, and I honed my skills. In 2018, I took a significant step by releasing my first tracks. Since then, I’ve been committed to crafting my unique sound and sharing it with the world. It’s been an incredible adventure, and I’m excited to see where it takes me next.
Being from Tunisia, can you share some insights into the local electronic music scene? How has your background influenced your music style?
The electronic music scene in Tunisia is still in its growth phase, but it’s promising. We have some noteworthy festivals that draw music enthusiasts from various backgrounds. However, there’s room for improvement in the club scene. What’s particularly exciting is the emergence of some talented and promising local producers who are gaining recognition on the global stage. As for my background, I started out as a trance enthusiast. Artists like Tiësto and Armin van Buuren were my early inspirations. Over time, I naturally gravitated toward deeper and more progressive sounds. While my musical journey has evolved, I believe that my trance roots still influence my music.
Your upcoming EP, “I’ll Be Waiting,” is set to release on Loot Recordings. Could you give us a sneak peek into what listeners can expect from this release?
“I’ll Be Waiting” is a special EP that offers a diverse range of tracks to suit various musical tastes. It’s my first time collaborating with a singer, and it worked exceptionally well with Alex. Listeners can anticipate three versions: the original, the Dub mix, and the radio edit. Additionally, there are three remixes that convey different narratives from the original while preserving the core idea. This EP spans a wide spectrum of sounds and emotions, and I’m looking forward to the release date!
The EP features remixes from other artists. Can you tell us about the remixers on the package and how the collaboration process came about? Do you have a favorite remix among them?
The EP includes remixes from three incredibly talented artists: Madraas, Mark Slee, and Alex Donofrio. Each of these collaborators brings a unique perspective to the original track, and I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with them. The collaboration process with these artists was both exciting and organic. I’ve been a fan of their work for some time, and when I decided to create remixes for this EP, I reached out to them based on their musical styles and compatibility with the vision I had for the project. Madraas, known for his deep and emotive soundscapes, was a natural choice to provide a remix that delves into the emotional depth of the track. Mark Slee, with his expertise in blending eclectic elements, added a distinctive touch to the EP, bringing a unique flavor to his remix. Alex Donofrio, who has a knack for crafting infectious grooves, brought a captivating rhythm to the remix package. As for having a favorite remix among them, it’s a tough choice because each one has its own charm and character.
Can you describe your studio setup and the equipment/software you prefer to use when producing music?
I primarily use a PC as the core of my music production setup. For input, I use a MIDI keyboard to craft melodies and harmonies, and a Launchpad for playing loops and samples, adding a live performance element to my production. While I haven’t got studio monitors yet, I’ve been gearing up for them, considering factors like room acoustics. I’ll be adding these final touches to my setup soon because good monitors are crucial for an accurate sound representation in my music. I have a preference for synthesizers, and some of my favorites include Diva, Zebra, and Massive X. These software synthesizers offer a wide range of sounds and capabilities, allowing me to explore different textures and tones in my music production.
What is your creative process like when working on new music? Do you have any unique techniques or sources of inspiration?
Typically, it all starts with the harmony. I initiate by jamming on the MIDI keyboard, attempting to come up with the melody or phrase; the rhythm undergoes a similar transformation, with phase shifts, alterations to accent structures, and chopping it up to unveil a fresh perspective. Once I feel I’ve amassed sufficient material to work with, I begin to “decode” the material, aiming to come up with a structure or arrangement for the track. From there, it’s a journey of continual refinement. Fewer elements that are well balanced in a range of frequencies and dynamics can help a lot. This allows the track to work or breathe better and doesn’t mess with the mix of every channel. It could be obvious, but the “less is more” philosophy always works, and it’s something to strive for constantly during the workflow. For instance, when I find myself layering additional elements onto the track and it still lacks something, it’s a sign that I might be on the wrong creative path, choosing the wrong elements and sound design. In such cases, it’s often better to step back and rethink the entire idea or, why not, change the project.
In the context of “I’ll Be Waiting,” is there a particular track that holds special meaning to you, and if so, what’s the story behind it?
It all started with a piano progression I crafted, laying the groundwork for the track’s creation. As I introduced other elements, such as the bass and drums, the song began to take form. Initially, my inspiration for the track stemmed from the desire to evoke feelings of anticipation and longing. Once I had an arrangement that I believed effectively captured the core of my creative vision, I shared the demo with Alex. He resonated with the music and was excited to contribute his vocals and ideas to the project.
What do you believe sets your music apart from other electronic artists, and what message or emotions do you hope your music conveys to your audience?
My music draws from a trancy progressive house background. However, what truly distinguishes my sound is the incorporation of melodic deep house elements, renowned for its soulful and emotive qualities. I believe that electronic music thrives on innovation, and I am dedicated to exploring and experimenting to deliver a unique listening experience for me in the first place. As they say, music is always for the listener, but the first listener is the player. My aim is to evoke personal reflection, serving as a soundtrack to listeners’ life stories, whether celebrating joy, contemplating solitude, or reminiscing about the past. It’s intentionally open to interpretation, allowing each individual to connect with their emotions and experiences.
Looking ahead to the remainder of 2023, can you share any upcoming projects, collaborations, or performances that your fans can look forward to?
Exciting developments are on the horizon. While I can’t disclose all the specifics at this moment, I have upcoming projects and dates in the pipeline. What’s particularly thrilling is the impending release of one of my most demanded unreleased tracks in early 2024. Furthermore, there are other exhilarating announcements and updates I’m planning to reveal in the coming months. Stay tuned for more information and updates as we progress through the latter part of 2023 and into early 2024!
Lastly, is there a message or advice you’d like to share with aspiring DJs and producers, especially those looking to make a mark in the industry?
Work hard and consistently. Success in this field often comes from dedication and putting in the hours. Be patient with your progress, as it takes time to develop your skills and gain recognition. It’s crucial to appreciate every moment of your journey, both the highs and the lows, as they contribute to your growth. Remember that you won’t always feel inspired, but on those off days, push yourself and keep going out of love for what you do. Be honest with your craft, and always seek ways to improve. The music industry is continually evolving, and there’s always room for growth and innovation. Stay committed, stay true to your passion, and never stop striving for excellence.
‘I’ll Be Waiting’ is out now and available to buy here