Meet Upcoming Australian Producer: Tokyo Twilight. “…stepping back sometimes and living in the moment is refreshingly healthy…”

When I created OA, my only goal was to help upcoming creators. I didn’t know how it would work, and I definitely had no idea how far it would spread – but thanks to you, the readers – I have been able to speak to some of the most talented visionaries worldwide.

For example, in this interview, I get the chance to speak with upcoming producer and DJ: Tokyo Twilight, from Brisbane, Australia. A musician since birth, Tokyo, whose influences include people like British producer, Bonobo, has gotten attention from music platforms such as Dynmk (music channel based on YouTube) and over 40,000 plays for his latest song “Little Things” in just under a week.

Although he’s relatively young, he’s already realized that this is a trying industry and that although it’s important to stay consistent, it’s just as important to “live in the moment.”

In this interview, I got the chance to discuss the backstory behind the name, the success of Little Things, and much more!

Enjoy…


Q: Before we begin, would you like to introduce yourself?

A: Hey! I’m Jack. I’m a musician/DJ, and I live in Brisbane, Australia.  

 

Q: Is there a backstory behind your name? If so, explain.

A: I went to Japan about 4 years ago I think? Anyways I was on the flight back to Australia during Twilight, and for whatever reason, the full moon was nestled behind the skyscrapers of Tokyo in the distance, and the name Tokyo Twilight just popped into my head!

 

Q: You’ve used words such as “ambient-electronic” to describe your music; Who are some of the musicians (artists, producers, etc.) that influenced this sound?

A: It always depends what I’m listening to! But my biggest influence would have to be Bonobo, I’m in love with the way he combines electronic and organic soundscapes into one piece, it’s makes it sound so orchestral and grand, but also stays true to the electronic elements.

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Q: You’re relatively young, were you always attracted towards the arts? (specifically music) Does your family have a musical background?

A: I’ve been going strong since I could walk haha, I’ve always loved dancing to music, so anytime any Michael Jackson came on, the people around me would always get a show! I only really started to write music about 3 or 4 years ago, however things have become more serious and promising in this past year.

 

Q:  I’ve previously interviewed an audio engineer, can you explain to me what the differences between an engineer and a producer are? (Is producing more about making a beat, creating the “whole picture”, etc.)

A: Yeah, it’s actually very different process with the same intended outcome, which is to make something sound nice. A producer specifically focuses on the content and sounds of the music, and a sound engineer focuses on making that content sound the best it can.

 

Q: At what age did you get into producing? What made you gravitate towards it?

A: I got into producing around when I was 13 I think, I just started messing around on GarageBand, and then found Ableton which is what I use now. I was listening to a lot of Daft Punk and really wanted to do the same thing.
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Q: If I’m correct, the first song you released (that featured vocals) “Little Things (ft. DVNA) came out over the summer. What was the creation process of that song?

A: Yeah it was! With vocals at least. I’ve released quite a few tracks here and there beforehand but “Little Things” has been the start of what I’ve always wanted to do.

Basically, I had this chord idea and vocal hook I had been picking at for ages, and eventually I decided to send it to my good friend Dana (DVNA). She took the idea and transformed it into this amazing vocal performance and threw in some nice production ideas too, then it was an uphill journey of ideas that just kept flowing. We actually didn’t see each other in person the whole writing process, the power of the internet!

 

Q: Do you think you will collaborate with more artists in the future? Do you have any dream collaborations?

A: I’ve been listening to this LA based rapper Duckwrth lately, I love his flow and his tone, so yeah i’d love to do something with him one day!

 

Q: Since its release, the song has been played over 4,000 times on SoundCloud alone, featured on one of the biggest music platforms on YouTube: DYNMK. Did you think that the song would explode like it did when you made it?

A: I sort of made this song with the intent of appealing to pop lovers, my comfort zone of writing usually consists of more ambient sounds. I didn’t expect this one to get so much love, so I’m super thankful for it!

 

Q: You released the song during one of your shows, do you remember what the response was like? Were you nervous beforehand?

A: It’s tricky cause I tend to get in my own little bubble while I’m playing, and I usually forget to take a look up from my instruments haha! However, I had heaps of people come up and say that was their favourite of the night, so I was super humbled.

 

Q: You’ve actually held a number of shows since your debut, how do you usually prepare for them?

A: I’m pretty lazy when it comes to rehearsals haha, I usually just do a quick runthrough of my songs the night before and check that all my synths & samples are working cohesively with the tracks. I’ve been lucky to not get stage fright before shows, so that helps keep me calm.

 

Q: Now, you’re currently based in Brisbane (Australia), and OA is based in New York City; does it ever shock you to see how far your music has spread?

A: I’m so happy about it! I’d never thought I’d look at my Spotify stats and see listeners from the US and UK, so that’s very exciting.

 

Q: Are there any Australian based artists us overseas fans should have an eye on?

A: A fellow Brisbane local and one of my friends Golden Vessel, his stuff is stellar! I would also recommend checking out T. Scarlett and Marco, we work on a lot of music together, and they’re also Brisbane boys!

 

Q: You’re about a year into your career now, is there anything you’ve learned since being in this position? Is there any advice you could give up & coming musicians?

A: I think the biggest thing I’ve learnt is to have all the patience in the world. I’m quite young for what I do so I tend to get ahead of myself a lot of the time. I find that stepping back sometimes and living in the moment is refreshingly healthy and helps my creativity.

 

Q: Lastly, is there anything you would like to tell your supporters?

A: Thanks so much for the love, new music very very soon!


If you enjoyed the interview and would like to continue to support Tokyo, be sure to follow him on Instagram & SoundCloud.
If you would like to hear his latest song, “Little Things” feat. DVNA – click here.

Meet Aspiring Rapper/Producer: Phil Castillo. “Create music that’s out of the ordinary.”

As most of Arcane’s readers know – the site has been on a hiatus since the beginning of the summer. I had planned to come back sometime this fall, that is, until I received an email not too long ago.. For whatever reason, you guys have stuck around and I’d love to think that it’s because of the artists I have been able to introduce to you since the site’s start.
About a week ago, I was contacted by an upcoming artist from New Jersey. About four years into his career, rapper and producer Phil Castillo has released an overwhelming amount of music, his latest releasing being a rendition of SLCHLD‘s “Wednesday Girl”. As a songwriter, I (obviously) gravitated towards his full-length production projects  Heartbeats and Touch – but Castillo is more than just a talented producer.
He is an artist in in rawest form and hopefully that is able to come across to you readers throughout this interview. I got the chance to speak with him about his beginnings, getting help from bigger platforms, and much more.
Enjoy.


Q: Before we begin, would you like to introduce yourself?

A: Sure. My name is Phil Castillo. I’m a 20 year old independent rapper & producer from New Jersey. Thanks for having me.

Q: How long have you been interested in music? Was it something you always saw yourself doing professionally?

A: I’ve been interested in music for as long as I can remember.

My family has always been lively when it comes to music, whether it’s having the radio on full blast, collecting CD’s and vinyls, or watching music video based channels on TV. It’s always been an influence ever since I was young.

I remember thinking as a kid that I wanted my life to be related to music somehow; if not in a creative way; like collecting albums like my dad, becoming a manager of a famous band, or owning a music store! [laughs] I don’t know, anything that had an outlet for music, I wanted to be a part of. I wasn’t sure how far i thought about becoming an actual artist.

 

Q: I know that you are both a rapper and producer, which came first? Is either lane more natural for you?

A: I started rapping around 2010. Nothing special was made around that time, it was just me messing around in GarageBand on the family computer with an iPhone microphone while no one was home, rapping over beats I found on YouTube in the style of artists like Eminem, Kid Cudi and Drake, to name a few.  I didn’t take it seriously until I released my debut album Wallflower in 2014. That was when I knew I matured as an artist.

Then came producing- which I dabbled in here and there, but didn’t fully pick up on it until 2017 where I released multiple full length instrumental albums. Though I love both rapping & producing, both lanes are the same to me in the way a love-hate relationship works. Some might even say I work too much as a perfectionist does.

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Q: As you mentioned earlier, your debut project was released over four years ago. Did you have any fears/concerns about how it would be received?

A: Yes, of course. It may be hard to tell now, but back then, I was extremely shy to even share my music with anyone. I used to overthink every little detail, especially because Wallflower was an album all about a reckless lifestyle I experienced while I was young. I feared people would get the wrong impression of me because I was around people that were influenced to do the wrong things.

 

Q: What was your creative process like throughout the creation of this project?

A: While I was still in school, I would constantly play music or write notes and drafts throughout classes to kill time. One of the albums I would constantly play that inspired the story behind Wallflower was Because the Internet by Childish Gambino because the concept ties in with a script that goes along with the album. I was blown away at how he brought a universe he created through music to life.

After school, I used to spend hours, days even, in my old friend’s home studio. I basically lived there. There wasn’t a second that went by where we weren’t away from the studio. We would spend hours working on songs and listening to the music we would create until the break of dawn came by. Then the day would just go by as normal. Wake up, school, home studio, get little sleep in, then repeat.

 

Q: Do you think as time has passed, has it become easier to make a cohesive project, or does it become harder with every release?

A: It becomes harder because with every release, as you take on many topics, you have to make sure you’re not running out of things to say while trying to grab the listener’s attention. You have to keep people on their toes, and make them wonder “what’s next?” instead of “really? that’s it?”

 

Q: A while back, I interviewed an audio engineer and they explained that there is somewhat difference between engineering and producing – do you take on both roles or do you focus solely on producing? Can you briefly explain what exactly the role of a producer is?

A: I take on both roles, and there is a difference between the two. The role of a producer is to build the song’s body. It’s what holds the song together. Engineering is about keeping the song and it’s volumes in a balance without having anything clash or clip and keep a smooth mix throughout the song where you can hear everything that it delivers. Engineering is not only about controlling the levels, but compressing it.

 

Q: As I mentioned earlier, you’re a rapper as well – have you produced all the music you’ve recorded to thus far?

A: No, I haven’t. I wouldn’t even call the songs I’ve made songs. They’re more like renditions, you know? Coming off of albums like Wallflower and The Blue Room Project, that was a time where I didn’t know a single thing on how to produce beats. What carried the album was the stories and the lyrics it held on each song. I think that’s what made albums like mine so special. I know some can call it unoriginal, but it’s my point of view I’m speaking about through my songs. No one can ever take your point of view from you.

 

Q: How long does it usually take you to complete an entire song?

A: When I make a song, the beat comes first. I have to think how the song should sound like. It could take hours to find the right sample, the right set of drums, and so on. When the beat oss finished, then come the lyrics.

I listen to the beat more than once to craft ideas, hooks, and flows. As far as recording goes, I have to be in a certain mood. It comes with it’s good days and it’s bad days. Some days, i can spend hours recording, and it doesn’t turn out the way i want it to, and then i put it to the side for a while.

I may not like my cadence, I may screw up a line, or I don’t say it clearly enough. It’s key to be comfortable enough for you to like it, and not just one take it. Anyways, mixing and mastering takes me a couple more hours to get it just right. To sum it up shortly, it would take me about a day to finish one song. I repeat the same process with others.

 

Q: When it comes to what your beats sound like or what you write about, are there any musicians or bodies of work you are influenced by?

A: Too many to name. I listen to a lot of rap, R&B, and Pop. Kanye West is like an idol to me. Childish Gambino, he’s an all out renaissance man. I love the way artists like Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar & J. Cole write. They all push me creatively.

When I first started producing, I was heavily influenced by Joji, Knxwledge & 9th Wonder. When I produce now, I’m influenced by Elijah Who, Aso, Tomppa, Sleepdealer, Jinsang, Idealism, jhfly, and Piglet Spacey…

Recently I’ve been inspired by Sango, Monte Booker, and ICYTWAT. I also love vocalists like Clairo, mxmtoon, Sophie Meiers… There’s a whole lot, [laughs] I can really go on.

Q: Are there any upcoming musicians you would like to work with in the future?

A: I can’t think of anyone at the moment, but i’d love to work with more rappers & vocalists!

 

Q: Has it been easy for you to find work/opportunities specifically when it comes to getting your beats out there?

A: It’s not. It should be so much easier. So many collectives and brands are only looking for one specific kind of sound that matches what they’re looking for, and it’s so boring. It’s like they’re not bringing their full potential to the table. There are so many artists like me that are so underrated and are overlooked that have amazing songs that are barely even hitting 5k. We need bigger creators to help branch out to smaller artists that deserve it for the work ethic they put in.

 

Q: What would be the best way for an upcoming musician to connect with you in the future?

A: Just message me directly! [laughs] I’m usually active on my Instagram. I try to respond as quickly as i can to all messages that i receive.

 

Q: You’re a somewhat “seasoned” artist, what has this journey been like so far? Do you think you’ve grown with every project?

A: I like to think my career grows every time I release a project. They’re like stepping stones to my history. For example, I made Wallflower when I was just 16. Listening back to that album, there were a lot of things that stayed true, and a lot of things that changed within time, and it showed on my future projects. I can’t compare an album like The Blue Room Project to Wallflower, because I was in a different headspace back then. I feel as if I learn and advance more with every one, and i try to show that.

 

Q: Have you developed a signature sound yet? Is there any kind of advice you would give aspiring musicians when it comes to developing their sound?

A: I don’t think I have, because I don’t want to stick with the same formula on every project. I like to stay experimental and try new things. The best advice that I can give towards aspiring musicians is to always stay out of the box. Create music that’s out of the ordinary and stray from your comfort zone, and everything else will follow your way.

 

Q: What are your hopes for the rest of 2018?

A: My hopes for the rest of the year is to just grow. As a person and as an artist. Become more widely known, be more consistent in releasing music, connect more with my fans, do more collabs, write more, perform more especially! Recently, I did a couple of shows with a band where I performed my 2017 album A Work in Progress front to back, and it was such a heartwarming experience. I’d love to do it more frequently!

 

Q: What was your experience like performing for an audience? Were you nervous?

A: Oh yeah, I was so nervous! [laughs] I was too paranoid thinking I might have a panic attack on stage. Even when I have so much fun performing, I feel like my inner shyness acts up, and as soon as I get off, all I can do is just sigh in great relief.

 

Q: Is there any event you can see yourself performing in the future?

A: If I could, I would love to tour! I’ve only done shows on the east coast around Jersey so far, so I would love to get familiar with more of the east and experience the west for the first time. I haven’t been to a festival in years either! I don’t even remember the last festival I’ve been to, that’s how long it’s been [laughs] but to be a part of a big festival line-up would be crazy to me.

 

Q: Overall, what is the message that you hope to convey in your music?

A: The message I hope to convey is that you are not alone. I make my songs for people who are just like me, in hopes that it reaches to those who don’t have a voice to express themselves or find anybody else they can relate to.

 

Q: Is there anything you’d like to tell your supporters?
A: Thank you all for listening! Words cannot express how much i admire all of you that take the time out of your day to press play on my songs, for it is more than just music to me. It’s love.


To support Phil’s music make sure to follow him on BandCamp & Spotify!

If you’re interested in working with him, make sure to follow him on Instagram & SoundCloud.  

Meet Audio Engineer: Mika ‘Jimmer Millions’ Claus. “As long as music is being made, there will be people in need of help perfecting it.”

When I first created Arcane I wanted it to become a music haven for people looking for new talent. It wasn’t until I was putting the finishing touches to the site that I realized this site could be used for much more. Around October-November I was having a conversation with a close friend of mine and that conversation is what inspired this interview. The outcome of this conversation was that not only could I provide information that would be useful for music listener’s, I could provide information that is useful for people in the industry.

This conversation is initially what made me seek the songwriters, and the producers/engineers – basically the “behind the scenes” people that you will see in due time. I think it is important for every person who takes part in creating a moment to get that acknowledgement.

This interview is with Mika, an audio engineer that I was introduced to through my close friend (thanks friend). Not only is this interview informative, but it’s refreshing to hear from a perspective that people often look over.

In this interview we speak about the differences between an audio engineer and a producer, finding work, career highlights, and much more.

Enjoy!


Q: Before you start, can you briefly explain what it is an audio engineer does? — Are there any major differences between an engineer & what a producer does?

A: The term audio engineer is a broad one and can refer to a range of jobs such as post production, electrical engineering, and live sound engineering. Studying this field includes knowing about electrical signal flow, acoustics of rooms, microphone characteristics, and so much more.

Mainly the job of an audio engineer is to tighten up the sounds that are sent in from a producer or recording company. Whatever sounds that are recorded or created artificially must also exist in a virtual space that makes sense to your aesthetic goal.

If we just record an array of instruments and try to put them together at the same volume, it will be unpleasant to the human ear. Thus, we use compression, equalization, and other processing tools to emulate a certain environment that the human ear is familiar with. People need to know how to place their instruments while producing so many engineers are producers first; however, the difference is where you place your focus.

Q: Did you grow up knowing you wanted to be in the music industry? Was there any specific event that let you know you wanted to do this professionally?

A: I was always into music as I think everyone is, especially growing up. It is something we use to escape from our daily lives or find inspiration from. I was always into computer programs and found some music making programs (DAWs – Digital Audio Workstation) and just went crazy.

At first, imitating sounds and songs that I liked, and eventually creating my own album at the age of 16 just for fun. After some positive feedback and a lot of bad feedback on the quality of the sounds I decided to take it a little more seriously and learned as much as I could about the post production side.

I eventually attended a audio engineering school/internship combination at Chung King Studios in NYC; this was probably the defining moment that shaped my knowledge and finalized my decision to pursue this “hobby”, as a career.

Q: When you initially decided to be in the industry did you have the support of your family/friends? What advice would you give someone who wants a career in music but is too afraid about what others (specifically, their family/friends) think?

A: My friends were very doubtful about this because to many it seems like an industry that is hard to get into. However, after researching the industry and surrounding myself with like-minded people I have found that there is a plethora of opportunities that aren’t going to make you “famous” but instead will give you a fulfilling life doing what you love to do.

As long as music is being made, there will be people in need of help perfecting it. Even if you don’t end up working as a post production engineer, the skill set you learn will allow you to work in many other fields including on television broadcast, movie sets, festivals, performances, and the list goes on.

Q: Was it easy find work in the beginning? How do you find work now?

A: It wasn’t easy finding paying work but it was very easy to find people that needed it done for free. Being a good post production engineer is all based on how happy your clients are. If you can do a couple projects for free and do a great job your reputation in the “industry”, whether it be worldwide or just local, will increase and your value (or price that you can charge) increases as well. Currently, word-of-mouth helps me get more work.

Q: When someone sends you a song, what is the usual process you go through? How long does it take you to complete a song?

A: The first step is to talk to the producer or the artist to find out what the goal of this song or project is. Many people have different fan bases and different values; so it is important that the producers and I have the same aesthetic goal. I write down a detailed list to base my mixing off of and begin listening to the track. If the feeling we are looking for exists in a certain track, I try to emphasize that instrument or voice.

After that it is a process of making all the instruments fit around that one sound and into a designated acoustic space. The mixing process is long and complex but once that is done, I make sure to listen to the song on multiple different speakers (laptop, car, bluetooth) and then determine whether it sounds right to me and the producer. If not, I repeat the process until the producer is happy. This can take anywhere from 5 hours to a month if the production is large and complex.

Q: How long did it take you to hone the craft of engineering? (Do you have any training)

A: The craft of engineering is always evolving. Although I feel very comfortable with the ideas of compression, equalization, spacing, and gain staging, there is never a moment when I don’t have to look something up or try something new just because the situation requires it. I’m extremely happy to have the professional experience that I have; and I’m still receiving it from masters of the trade. Nevertheless, I am also aware that engineering will never be perfected especially with new technology constantly influencing the way we make and hear music.

Q: Are there any tips you could give aspiring engineers?

A: My tips would be to try as many DAW’s as possible and to diversify your production skills. That way, when you are faced with difficult or confusing situations, you will be comfortable troubleshooting and finding the right answer. Technically, engineering is all about computer skills; but on the other hand remember you need to know how things sound in different spaces. You need to question what makes certain songs sound a certain way; try to recreate these sounds and try to connect with as many like-minded people as possible.

Q: Do you have anyone who has musically influenced you?

A: I always had an interest in the way songs were mixed from the times I listened to classic rock in the car with my dad. The band, Boston, did a lot of panning. It was probably the first band I tried to imitate production wise. After that, there was a lot of 90’s hip hop that inspired me to make broken and/or distorted drum beats

Q: Are there any artists that you want to work with? Dream collaboration?

A: Kendrick Lamar, obviously. From what it seems, he has a very precise workflow and knows exactly what he wants his voice, instruments, drums, everything, to sound like. Often as an engineer you get rappers who say: “give me that auto tune voice and then make it sound good”. Engineers hate the word “good” because it doesn’t mean anything. After Kendrick I would add Chris Webby as a personal favorite.

Q: If you had the chance to engineer for any album(s), what albums would you have engineered?

A: Nas – Illmatic & Kendrick Lamar – Section.80

Q: Do you think engineers; or anyone who is part of the “behind the scenes“ (songwriters, producers, etc.) get enough credit?

A: It is definitely possible to do the research and find who was a part of every song and I think that’s exactly what engineers want. It is a path chosen by people who often don’t want the attention or fame but instead love making the music and helping the artists reach their goals.

Q: When you look back on your career in 20-30 years; what are some career highlights would you have liked to achieve?

A: Winning a Grammy; I think is everyone’s dream, but if I help any song make it to the Billboard charts I think I’ll be happy.

Q: Would you ever mentor someone looking to build a career in your field? If not now, ever?

A: Yes, engineering can be a very tedious job and sharing the workload while teaching someone the craft is probably the most productive, win/win situation for everyone.

Q: Do you feel successful yet? If so, what moment made you feel it. If not, what do you think you will need to achieve in order to feel that?

A: Success is relative to what you did in your life before this moment. I have definitely become more successful but I am constantly looking to improve and find more connections.

Q: Should we expect to hear big things about you in the upcoming months (2018)?

A: I have been putting out instrumental albums every 6-7 months using my alter ego “Jimmer Millions” but I have taken a hiatus from that alias to concentrate on a collaborative album with a few of my friends.  Although I’m not positive it will be completed within 2018, it’s definitely going to make some noise soon.