Inside The Mix | Music Production and Mixing Tips for Music Producers and Artists

#53: The Motivation Behind the Music | Your Friend Esteves

November 15, 2022 Your Friend Esteves Season 2 Episode 30
#53: The Motivation Behind the Music | Your Friend Esteves
Inside The Mix | Music Production and Mixing Tips for Music Producers and Artists
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Inside The Mix | Music Production and Mixing Tips for Music Producers and Artists
#53: The Motivation Behind the Music | Your Friend Esteves
Nov 15, 2022 Season 2 Episode 30
Your Friend Esteves

A synth music artist, with vocals, guitars, and harmonies. Some songs are chilled, some are upbeat, and some are sad.

To follow Your Friend Esteves, click here: https://linktr.ee/your_friend_esteves

Want to join a community of artists and music enthusiasts and gain access to exclusive Inside The Mix Podcast content? Join the podcast Facebook community group here: Inside The Mix Podcast Community

Are you thinking about starting a podcast or need help growing your audience? Check out the Podcast Business School: https://www.podcastingbusiness.school/a/2147490930/Hw6eEPeg

Start recording your own podcast today using Riverside FM here: Riverside FM

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

A synth music artist, with vocals, guitars, and harmonies. Some songs are chilled, some are upbeat, and some are sad.

To follow Your Friend Esteves, click here: https://linktr.ee/your_friend_esteves

Want to join a community of artists and music enthusiasts and gain access to exclusive Inside The Mix Podcast content? Join the podcast Facebook community group here: Inside The Mix Podcast Community

Are you thinking about starting a podcast or need help growing your audience? Check out the Podcast Business School: https://www.podcastingbusiness.school/a/2147490930/Hw6eEPeg

Start recording your own podcast today using Riverside FM here: Riverside FM

Send me a Message

Support the Show.


► ► ► WAYS TO CONNECT ► ► ►

Grab your FREE Test Master at Synth Music Mastering TODAY!
✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸
Are you READY to enhance your music with my steadfast dedication to quality and personal touch?
Bag your FREE Test Master at Synth Music Mastering: https://www.synthmusicmastering.com/mastering

Buy me a COFFEE
✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸✸
If you like what I do, buy me a coffee so I can create more amazing content for you: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/marcjmatthews

Send a DM through IG @insidethemicpodcast
Email me at marc@synthmusicmastering.com

Thanks for listening & happy producing!

You're listening to the Inside The Mix podcast with your host, Mark Matthews.

Marc Matthews:

Hello and welcome to the Inside the Mix podcast. I'm Mark Matthews, your host, musician, producer, and mix and mastering engineer. You've come to the right place if you wanna know more about your favorite synth music artists, music, engineering and production, songwriting, and the music industry. I've been writing, producing, mixing, and mastering music for over 15 years, and I wanna share what I've learnt with you. Hey folks, and welcome back to The Inside The Mix podcast. And in this episode, I'm very excited to, uh, to welcome our guest today, uh, Ja Estevez, aka your friend Estevez. Now your friend Estevez is a synth music artist with vocals. Guitars, harmonies. Um, some songs are chilled, some are upbeat, some are sad. And he's recently released, uh, the album Opposite Forces Volume One on Retro Reverb Records. A label that I'm also, uh, affiliated with, Put my Teeth back in. He's gonna share with us his musical background and the songwriting and music production process is behind recent album opposite forces of Volume one. Hello Jo, How are you? And thanks for joining me.

Joao Esteves:

Hey, Hello Mark. Thanks for inviting me. It's great to.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah. Brilliant stuff. Brilliant. Um, I know it's in the background there, so if you're watching this on YouTube, you'll see in the background, uh, Java's got a lot of synths there, which we'll dive into in a bit. And also a story about some pioneer equipment that we're having off air, which will be quite interesting to, to delve into. Uh, but what I wanna start off with first is your life, uh, your musical life, basically. How did it all start? When did you start getting into music as a musician, per se?

Joao Esteves:

Yeah, Thanks for asking that. And I love to tell that story because it's very personal. Um, as I, as I was, um, little boy, uh, my parents, they sang in a choir and they used to go to rehearsals every week, and I used to go with them. So what happened was that, you know, I, I just, you know, I was playing around in a corner and the choir was rehearsing, but if they had the break, I'd jump on the organ. And, and I would ask, Hey, can I play the organ? And, um, so that, that led to them kind of getting me into lessons. And so I, I did organ as well as piano lessons while I was a kid. And, um, and that was the foundation of my musical education, um, later in life. I, uh, I, I always tell people, you know, during the nineties, piano wasn't cool. Guitar was cool. So I, I I told my parents how, you know, I don't wanna do the piano anymore. I want to learn guitar. Um, and, uh, and, and, and then by myself, I started learning guitar. And, and the rest is history. Like then teenage years in school, it's like we wanted to make a band myself and a few of my friends, and it was like, you know, it's like everyone played guitar, no one played anything else. So it was sort of like, Oh, did anyone ever play drums? And I said, Oh, I once sat in the drum set. All right, so you're the drummer now, . So that's how I, uh, start the drumming. And eventually I, I ended up, um, you know, having, uh, you know, the, the most fun as a drummer. You know, I played in many bands and until very recently when I, uh, started to, uh, to go back to my roots, go back to the key beds and the keyboards. And, um, and then, you know, that's what you see. You know, I got a bit addicted. I have a, I went through a bit of a phase that I, maybe I acquired too much gear , but, um, but yeah, but I'm loving it. I love the, I love the syn, uh, aspect. Um, I love the syn instrument as a synthesizers of fabulous interest instruments. It sort of mixes all the things I like, you know, the, the, the, the science, the music. Um, and I love I, that's what I love about it. It's just you can be really geeky about it and you can be really artistic and instrumental about it.

Marc Matthews:

Fantastic. Yeah. So going back to your sort of childhood there, so your parents were singing in the choir, you played the organ, then you did the classic there of starting to play the guitar, um, cuz you thought it was cool and learn the guitar. And I think I did a similar thing but I carried on playing the guitar and didn't really get much better. Um, I go, Okay, do myself a disservice. And then you joined a band. Uh, you started a band and played drums. Now drummers uh, I bet you are a hot commodity as a drummer. I think you mentioned there you played in a lot of bands, cuz I know how finding a good drummer is hard. Very

Joao Esteves:

hard. Yeah, , it's, I don't know why, because, you know, for some reason there's always an abundance of guitar players. Um, and, and many of them tend to be good. Uh, so I, I, I now live in Dublin. You know, I grew up in Lisbon and Portugal, but I've been living in Dublin for almost 10 years. And in Dublin is a very, Uh, most of Ireland is very musical, and, and there's a lot of, there's a big traditional music scene. So there, there would be a lot of guitar players, a lot of, um, uh, I, I suppose guitar would be the easiest of the traditional instruments, you know, not, not, uh, connoisseur, but, uh, that's my assumption. Um, and so you'd have a lot of guitar players, a lot of folk music, um, and yeah, but. You don't have a lot of drummers. I suppose it's, it's probably a function of, um, you know, it's an instrument that it's hard to practice, uh, because it's so noisy. Um, it's, uh, it's not a cheap instrument either to play drums. Well, it's actually quite, yeah, it's, it's a lot of work. Uh, as much work as, as any other instrument.. Marc Matthews: And I know what it's like with, with drums, having been in a band with a drummer and the amount, knowing the amount of money that's spent and also rehearsing, you're very lucky if you can find somewhere that where you, that you can rehearse a at your own leisure and B, that probably doesn't cost you money at the same time. Or you've got very forgiving neighbors or parents. Um, yeah. I remember playing in, we were, we were rehearsing in my friend's bedroom and. He, he lived in a terrorist street, . And, uh, his, his neighbors, I don't blame him cuz we were terrible as well. So, uh, I don't, I don't blame his neighbors for not liking us. Um, but No, that's really cool. And then you moved on to the synth, so I notice it's there in the background. I mentioned it just now. So if you're watching this in YouTube, you can see the synths in the background. Can you just give us a bit of a rundown of what you've. So on this side I have, uh, I'll start from the top. So that's drum machine section. That's a drum brute from Arturia. Yep. And then on this side I have the TR 7 0 7 oh jealous. Most, most of my songs would be running out of that. Mm-hmm.. Um, and then this is the Matrix Brute. It's, um, it's a, um, it's not necessarily, it's what they call para phonic has three voices, Um, so trios letters, and, uh, I love it. It's, uh, really raw. It's, it's brute. I love the br. It has actually a knob there called brutes for the BR effect. It just turns up like this, this sort of, uh, Different drive on the low end. It's really good for baselines. I love it for baselines. I love it for our patios. Um, yeah, it's really good for that sort of stuff. And then this is like, lately my workhorse is the profit five where I get most of my, um, most of my Melo lines. And then what else do we have here on this? I'll turn the camera on this. On this side we have, this is the DX seven from Yamaha. Um, ah, those love my favorite, um, roads and, uh, e piano sounds. Whitney Houston, you know, that sort of sounds. Um, I have a little sampler. Um, more, it's, it's very, it's very laborious to use this stuff from AKA Thes the Yes series. It's very hard to, you know, a lot of deep diving into, um, menus, but it's, it's, it's great. I have a, you know, a bunch of the old disks and, and it sounds really good. And this is like an old. This is, this actually belongs to my wife. It's, uh, I don't know if you can, It's one of those. Really old. It's from, uh, Yamaha and yeah, it has, you know, really tiny keys and that's where all the kids. Uh, probably would learn how to play back in the eighties, but it has some really cool sounds, especially, you know, drum rhythms and all that, so you can get that sort of like really old, uh, um, vintagey style type of sound.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah, mate, I'm massively jealous. I love the you Gott 7 0 7, a profit five and a DX seven. I'd love to have just three, those three, to be fair. That collection is, is pretty, is pretty impressive. What's your favorite one out of the lot if you had to pick?

Joao Esteves:

Uh, the profit. Um, it's just, um, um, maybe I'm just saying that cuz it's the one I spend most money on, , but it just sounds, um, as it, that's why I call it my work horse because I can, I can, I could work with just this. You know, the other ones have more like specialized sounds and this one, I can get a good baseline out of it. I can get pads, I can get a lead. Mm-hmm., it, it's, it, it just sounds beautiful. Um, and it's very easy to work with as well, so you can extract, um, and, and design a sound very easily, um, without, you know, the matrix. Quite laborious. Like if you're looking for, the sky is the limit, but to get to the sky you have to do a bit of experimentation. Yeah. Yeah. and uh, yeah, so I guess, yeah, if I had to pick one, this one just because it, I can get here most things out of it.

Marc Matthews:

Ace, I think what you said there about experimentation is key because it goes back to what you said earlier about how you like the synthesizer, cuz you got that scientific element as well. There's a massive amount of science that goes into like the sound synthesis and sampling. For example, I know with the DX seven, cuz it's one of my favorites with the fm um, synthesis, the frequency modulation. And I can get lost enough for days and still not come out with anything that sounds any good. But I'll still like tinker and, and play around with it because I like the scientific element of, of, of all the routing capabilities and whatnot. And if you're anything like me, yeah, I can just spend hours noodling and I, I go into shops as well where they sell them and I probably just annoy the people in. Purely because I'm in there just moving envelopes and changing filters and resonance and cutoffs and stuff, and creating these horrible sounds, but I love it. Um, so I bet yeah. What we'll do is we'll come onto it in a bit when we touch on the songwriting aspect of it and delve a bit more into how you use the synths in the actual songwriting process. Um, but with regards to your sort of journey as a musician, it's a sort of a new question. Now I'm asking in these interviews, To the point where you are now as a, as a musician, have you encountered any sort of, like, struggles along or any challenges along, along the way?

Joao Esteves:

Well, the answer to that is risk free because, you know, I didn't make music my main occupation. You know, I don't need music to pay my bills, let's call it that, You know, it is my passion, but, It's, I have other passions and some of the other passions pay for the bills, thankfully. But so I suppose when it comes to having been challenged, I never really felt like, you know, this is a make it or break it sort of challenge. Never been in that position where I've been probably sometimes. Disappointed is when you put a lot of work into something or, um, you know, and I've been in, in this, this, this position that I'm about to describe, you know, a number of times with the bands I played with, which is sometimes you record an album, it goes into reviews and, and some are good, some are bad. That break your heart. Um, and you see it out. This is back when you'd see it out in newspapers or even in, in really prominent blogs. Um, and, and, and then you kind of feel like, you know, Yeah, it's, that's it, you know, It didn't work out. Um, and I kind of gone past that point at the moment, you know? First of all, like, you know, synth music, it's, Yeah, har, you know, it's not gonna make anyone rich ever. Um, but, uh, but, um, but it's a lot of fun to make and, and that's the perspective that I have. It's a lot of fun to make. I suppose the, the challenges for me are you, Production levels and, and you know, the marketing aspect of it and continuously doing that cycle of composing songs, mixing them, you know, getting them released and then like huge effort into social media and marketing and trying to, to see what works and what doesn't work. I guess the biggest challenge at the end of the day for me is, is, is staying. Motivated to go to continue those iterations when in fact, you know, you, you're, you know, it's not often that someone sees a big return out of it, and not even like monetary return. It's, you know, sometimes you can get a few thousand lessons and sometimes you can get only a dozen and you just have to live with it and, and be happy with what you.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah. And I think, um, that's, that's entirely true and it's something I've mentioned a few times on the podcast in these interviews. It sort of like you mentioned there about SY music being fun and um, how you got past that sort of barrier of, of critique as it were and taken it almost like personally. Cause I know I've been there when I was in band and we'd send a, an album off a review and then you get not absolutely panned. I think we did once or twice. And then, but it's how you get beyond that. And then I think once you get beyond that, that's when you start seeing it as more as, as more fun, I guess. Can you remember what it was? I mean, you mentioned there about how you sent, sent an album off a review and then you, you, you get some negative feedback. At what point did you decide, you know what, this is just for fun. I'm not really bothered about the reviews, et cetera, and I'm just doing this for me.

Joao Esteves:

Um, I think it was mostly when I started doing music, uh, with, you know, with this, uh, uh, you know, with your friend this us that's when I decided, you know, I'm gonna do this because I want to do songs that I consider fun. And, and I'll write them, you know, regardless of releasing them or not, I'm going to, you know, write them. I'm gonna, And then I found a community that had like-minded, um, uh, tastes and that's, you know, that led to discovering the whole scenes we've seen. Uh, but, but I have made that decision, you know, I'm gonna invest in this genre and I'm gonna write these types of songs and just. It's a lot of fun to write them. Um, and I guess I was coming from a cycle where I had been a drummer for, you know, maybe two decades. And, and towards the end I, I started writing more songs and, um, and, and writing in a band sometimes can be quite, you know, there's a lot of sometimes clashing opinions or conflict in terms of, you know, I like that. I don't like that. And, um, it, it's for good and bad. It, it can turn into, you know, sometimes very effortful mind state of always trying to kind of first get buy in from your mates and then get buy in from the public. Um, you get a better result. But I, I, I felt I got to a point, I just wanted to write songs and that I liked to listen. Which, uh, you know, they, they really didn't fit the bands that I had played with. Um, so I, I, I guess, yeah, it's, to answer your question, it's when I started playing for myself, you know, the things that I love to play. Um, that's when I got pa, you know, that then I had the goal. The goal was just, you know, I'm just gonna have fun.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah, that what you said about there, about the band and how when you're in a band and you are writing, there can be conflict. I've experienced it and it, it was a discussion I had probably about an hour ago with another interview that I did, and it said the exact same thing. But when you are writing music yourself, And you're writing it for you. Uh, there's a lot more fun and I think there's a lot more, probably more freedom as well, I would say. But there are obviously pros to being in a band as well. Um, which we could do a whole episode on the, the difference between, uh, solo artists and a band, you know. But one question I've got before we move on to music production and songwriting, you mentioned that about staying motivated. How do you stay motivated to write?. Joao Esteves: I That's, that's the part that I love. Um, the part that I find really hard is, um, you know, when you release songs, then you have to promote them and it, it is a lot of work. Um, it's important work probably as, as important or even more than, you know, when you want to have a successful brand. You know, you have a product, but then, you know, if you don't pitch that product right, it's, it's not gonna make it anywhere. Um, so, you know, some, it's kind of like I'm conflicted, you know? I feel like, you know, if I want people to listen to my music, I have to do this. So, you know, I try to put a, a better work into that. I'm not great at it, but, uh, you know, I'm improving, I suppose. Um, now when I go back to, and this is, I see this as a cycle. You know, for example, I'm about to release an EP and I know, okay, here comes a phase of promotion and. Putting a bunch of effort into that. Um, and I'm kind of almost like, Oh yeah, but that means after that comes, you know, writing phase. And I just love that. I just love to sit here where, where you can see that I am and, and just write songs and play with the sounds. Um, so I get motivated. I, I'm always thinking about, okay, what's the next phase? And, you know, I'll, I'll do this bit and then I'll get to the part that I absolutely love. Um, and then when that part is done, I'm kind of like, Okay, no. Then I forgot all about, you know, how laborious mixing can be and, and the, you know, so you keep going. The other thing that really helps me is also, as you mentioned, look, we we're both, uh, part of retro reverb and, um, it keeps me motivated to see, uh, people who are on the same label to, to keep pushing music. So it's the social aspect helps a little bit. You know, you sometimes I wanna, Okay, I'll keep doing stuff because the other guys. Also doing stuff. So, uh, we, we kind of tag along with each other and, uh, and, and put, keep pushing more singles and more albums and so on. Yeah. Interesting. You mentioned that because the discussion I had just now about, um, how when you see other artists releasing music and then almost not peer pressure, but then you feel like, Oh man, I, I need to get something. I need to get writing and writing as well, because if they're releasing, I need to be releasing and you gotta find that happy medium. Writing music and releasing music of a good quality. And then, or writing music just cuz I need to release something and then it's not quite, you gotta find that balance between the two, which can be tricky. Um, but no, you're right. Being on the label as well and seeing other people release music is very inspiring and you know. It is quality music as well. So for the audience listening, I mentioned it in the beginning there about retro reverb records do go check out Retro Reve records, um, and the artist on there cuz there's a whole host of quality music and um, I'm sure Cole will like the fact that I'm giving him a shout out as well. Um, I'm sure he wouldn't say, uh, wouldn't say no to that. Knowing Cole. Um, but you mentioned about releasing an ep, so I think what we'll do is, we'll, we'll circle back to that, um, once we've discussed the current release. Cuz I think this is a good opportunity just to give that little plug. So about your music production and songwriting. So we've got the synths behind you there. So when you're writing a song, how does it all start? Uh, do you start on the syn, the hardware, or do you start in the box? How does it all begin when you're writing a song?

Joao Esteves:

Um, it really depends. Um, Um, I don't really have a formula. I, I can tell you, uh, a few, uh, a few songs started, for example. Um, so believe it or not, some of the songs I'm about to release now, I, I wrote the idea. On an iPhone, on GarageBand, on an iPhone. While I was in a business trip two years ago and I was waiting to go to dinner and I had a couple of hours to kill and I was in a hotel bedroom and I was like, Oh, garage band is cool. And I had the ideas. Sometimes I have ideas, I just need a place to kind of drop them as I'm singing them out. And some of those songs came out like that. Um, A lot of the time I may be playing around here and I discover a patch in a scent that I, that I absolutely love, and, and then I tweak it and, and then you start playing and you, you play a melody or a sequence of chords and then you kind of think, Okay, this could be something. So let's. Um, let's record that for a second and drop it in a bucket of ideas and I'll, uh, I'll get back to that. Um, so I, throughout the year, I tend to do that a good bit. You know, I capture an idea, uh, record it on the phone, record it, you know, if I'm close to the computer, I drop it into a folder where I have a bunch of ideas and, and sometimes I go back to the buckets and some, some are still good, some I'm like, What was I thinking? Um, and uh, it, it's good to let a few, a few days go by, uh, so that your brain refreshes. But um, and, and the third aspect is sometimes I, you know, straighten the box and, and I grab just a media keyboard because I want to do something very quick. It is a lot quicker to just grab, you know, a media, you plug it in, you have your plugins on. On your computer, on your do, and it just starts at it. Um, so it really depends. I, I guess for me it's a, it's a fun, you know, it's a factor of time as well. Depends where I am. I try to, you know, if I feel inspired and, and I do feel like there are particular weeks in the year that I'm really inspired and, and I could get like five, six songs out of me in a week. The ideas, um, and they can come by really, really quickly. Um, And yeah, it, it tends to happen every year. Uh, thankfully. Um, and, and sometimes I'm out of ideas and I go as far as to. You know, just randomly pick, let's say, um, a key and then say, Okay, pick a scale in the ski. Let's play at it. You know? And generally I like to, Okay, let's pick a key that I normally don't start writing on. So let's say, you know, something D sharp. Okay, D sharp, major. Okay, let's see what comes out of it. And sometimes, especially in the keyboard, in the piano, It's quite interesting cuz you know, um, I think very visually and, and sometimes you start looking at patterns in the chords and especially when you, when you're playing around a certain scale and you, you kind of start seeing like real really interesting patterns and experimenting just by. Okay, let's try this out and let's try that out. And, and sometimes you find like really interesting changes, um, um, chord progressions and yeah, that, that's why, that's what I love about the, the keyboard. Um, I, I, I still, I used to compose a lot more on the guitar, um, but I found myself always using the same, uh, core progressions or the same figures of progressions. Um, and I think that the keyboard gave me back sort of. Um, different, different, um, ways to look at at chords and progressions and scales. Yeah,

Marc Matthews:

that's great stuff. Excellent. So you've got the garage band, um, and an iPhone and this sketch pad that you can use, which is amazing. Um, I made to switch iPhone to Samson what to Android and I need to find something similar. Cause at the moment, all I do. Is kind of like sing really crudely into my phone and record it that way. So I need to get something down myself. And you've got this bucket of ideas, which is, which is fantastic. How big is the bucket? Is it like a, a hard drive folder, I'm assuming? Um, with, for ideas.

Joao Esteves:

Yeah. It's, it's not Look and there's stuff there that doesn't fit my Send project. Um, Same with lyrics. I have, you know, a buckets of lyrics and they don't always fit, you know, the, the genre. Um, it's, it's not very big at the moment. I've been using some of those ideas. I like to go back and if they're rubbish, I delete them. If they're kind of good, I'll use them right away and, and, and join the buckets. Um, it's, um, yeah, maybe have like 10 ideas there at a moment. Um, . But like, like I said, I don't like, I don't wanna make it like a library where I just go back because you know what's, I'm in a different, you know, I'm a year older than last year, so a year, you know, two years ago, you know, an idea that I have may not mean anything to me anymore. Or I may find that. Um, you know, not refined enough. And, you know, as, as we're always learning, as time goes on, you know, your expectation of what God is kind of goes up a notch. And so, you know, sometimes I'll look at those ideas and feel like, Oh no, this, you know, this is before I learned about this and that, and I don't want to go certain directions anymore either. So, um, I, I don't mind starting over again and, and just building ideas from. Cool.

Marc Matthews:

When my question was gonna be there with regard to the bucket of ideas. How, what do you do with it? Do you keep what you don't use or, or do you delete it? And you, you answered that one there in terms of you delete it and you go through. Um, I think having a, it is a great way to work, isn't it? Having a bucket of idea. And putting those, putting those together. So with regards to the actual composition of your music and, and the songwriting, you mentioned chords, then a chord progression. So do you start with a chord progression or does it really depend on what you're noodling around with? It might be a baseline or how, How does that usually start?

Joao Esteves:

Uh, at the moment it's the, it's the, the chords, um, they have to be catchy immediately. Um, uh, generally it's, yeah, it's chords plus rhythm. Uh, so if I, if, let's say if I'm on the phone and I'm able to do, okay, here's a sequence of chords. Put a, you know, a simple rhythm there, just powerful enough and say, Okay, does this have potential that, you know, do I feel like I want to see this in a song? And those two are enough for me to kind of imagine the potential. Um, you know, cuz the baseline, you, you can kind of imagine it's there, you know, kind of, or you can hum, like, or if it's something a little bit more elaborate. But, uh, yeah, but the courts seem, that's, for me, that's the essence of the, of the songs I write. Um, you know, you need to have, you know, pick a verse and then is going into the chorus. Is the chorus really catchy? And can you think of a bridge there or middle late? Something nice to, to kind of, uh, add a bit more, uh, color and, and that's it for me. Um, I can imagine the whole. Coming up would just start.

Marc Matthews:

That's great. It echoes what, uh, a conversation I had earlier today. I keep saying this, and also last week as well, with the gar, um, the songwriting and using chords to, to start. And once you get the chords in place, you've pretty much fleshed out, not the majority of the song, but you know where the song's gonna go. So you mentioned there about having the verse and then the chorus, and then where you're gonna take that song, which is amazing. So you've created this sound palette, you've got this song put. So moving on to the actual production side of things and mixing, where do you start with that? I mean, intrigued to know like what instrument group do you start with in your mixing and production process?

Joao Esteves:

Um, I tend to do, um, sort of a pre-production versions, uh, um, and what that means is I, I try to very quickly get to. What the song could sound like. And the quickest way for me to do that is just first work in the box. Um, so I, I try to make, um, you know, without spending too many hours, let's try to make the song quickly. We're just using plugins. If it's, if I feel like, Okay, this is cool, this, this feels like it's gonna be a song. Then what I try to do is I start recording with, um, with the, with the hardware. Um, so for example, and, and sometimes it's useful because sometimes you can just send me the back into the sense if you want to just, uh, get a more colorful sound out of the hardware or the, and especially the, the drum machines, so you can just send it out there. Um, and, uh, and yeah, and, and funny enough, sometimes I. I can't. Find a way to do with hardware what I have in, you know, sometimes you find the plugin that's just like, Oh, this is beautiful, and you get used to that sound and you're like, Okay, but yeah, I have no way to do that here. So, and, and so sometimes, yeah, sometimes I just let it, you know, let the plugin in there because it may mean a lot to me to have that particular sound. Um, and it's, you know, I'm not a purist, but I, I do enjoy working with the hardware that, you know, that gives me a lot of satisfaction to be able to, to, to, to feel like I'm playing with the hardware, um, rather than just the, the computer.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah. So you are kind of like doing your pre-production in the box and then moving to hardware and a combination of the two for the final product. So I noticed on your Instagram that you, uh, posted a, a video of you playing drums. So are the drums on your releases, are they. Sort of organic drums for one of a better way of putting it actually you playing?

Joao Esteves:

Yeah. That uh, yeah. I'm glad you asked that because drums, um, you know, cuz I play drums for so many years, um, I, I just love drums and, um, I, I love to. Because I'm able to play drums, I, I always felt like, you know, I could put a little bit more into, into my compositions in terms of the rhythm and give it a, a little bit more of, of the human side, or making it a little bit more random by its human nature. Um, recently I got a set of e drums. So for, for the volume two, the one that's coming up, I actually recorded the whole thing on drums, on, on e drums, and, um, And it, it sounds immediately different. It doesn't sound maybe as, um, you know, edm, uh, as, as, as you, you may imagine, because, you know, has a lot more notes. Uh, and, uh, but I, I just love the way that it sounds. I, I feel like, yeah, this is me. Um, I, I finally found a way to kind of, I can, I went back to playing drums, but, uh, I do it in a way that is, um, it, it's very carefully played to make sure that it's, you know, I'm just not playing. It's not like I was, I would be playing acoustic drums. Um, you know, this is still, you know, it's still electronic music, so it's me performing an electronic music song. With, with drums. Um, and I, I guess I was a little bit inspired by a couple of, a couple of albums I listened to recently. And, and they have this really cool mixture of, um, drum machines as well as real drums. And I was like, Wow, this is, you know, such a niche. But it's, it's so what I. Value, you know, the fact that someone actually went to recording drums in an electronic music album and I thought, Okay, if this is possible, maybe I could do it as well. So I, I, I try that, I like the way it sounds, so we'll, we'll see.

Marc Matthews:

Fantastic. So you, you mentioned there about how you are recording drugs these runs and it's a more, it's a more accurate representation of, of you as an artist. What were the two albums, if you don't mind me asking, that influenced. To record the way you did. Um,

Joao Esteves:

the, so one of the guys from, uh, Justice, um, Oh yeah. Gaspar, uh, OJ French. So he, he recently released an album of, uh, what he calls his bucket of ideas. Funny enough. Um, songs that he had that really didn't fit the, the Justice, uh, project. And so he have, he has a really, really good album, in my opinion. It's sort of a mix of, there's lots of, um, uh, syns, um, um, compositions in there. There's lots of French House flavor. Um, and that was really wild by that, by that album, because it is just, it kind of sounds a bit like justice in some aspects, but then on others it sounds like, okay. Quite different. And I, you know, loving being an instrumentalist myself, I, I could see how, um, yeah, how it didn't fit in a classic, hardcore EDM project, but it feels a little bit more refined. Uh, it's, it's funny cuz this, this coming, this coming EP that I have next month, um, I was showing it, uh, to Cole and he said like, uh, dude, it's a little bit different, but you know, in his words he says it's like sin wave, jazz, . That that's his, uh, his uh, his way of. Seeing it, Uh, I can, I can see why he says that. Um, I guess some of my choices aren't, you know, necessarily the most, uh, mainstream ones, but, uh, you know, it is what I, you know, I did the songs because I, I love to listen to them in that way.

Marc Matthews:

I love that. I love the idea of synth wave jazz . That's fantastic. Fantastic. One song I wanna dive into in particular actually is the song this time. So, and that's the, the single from Opposite Forces Volume One. So just a quick chat about this before we move on to the ep. Can you tell our audience a bit about the songwriting and composition behind this time?

Joao Esteves:

Uh, yeah. Um, I'm trying to remember where it came from. Um, No, no, no, no, no. No worries. Um, I'm trying to think what came first, the lyrics or the, um, because I remember the lyrics when they arrived in my brain. Um, it, it, you know, it, it was basically the chorus. Um, The, the, I'm getting back to the lyrics this time. Um, no crime. And I, this came and I thought like, Oh, it rhymes. And, you know, you know, the metrics of the, of the, of the, of the rhyme are kind of interesting. I thought, Oh, this time no crime. I thought, ah, that that'd be cool in a song, you know, And I started building a song around that idea. But, um, the. I had the instrumental before that. Um, And it was what I was going after was that sort of more like slow scene wave, uh, almost like if you think back at movies and there's that, uh, the romance scene and you have a really slow drums, but still very powerful. You know, if you think of Top Gun and you know, the love scene, I forgot the title of the song during that, uh, but. It's kind of like powerful, really full of reverb drums in the back and just really smooth DX seven chords., Yeah. Yeah. Over it. And um, and I wanted to do a song like that because I hadn't really explored that side of things. So, um, yeah. And then it ended up being, you know, A little bit jollier, you know, it, it kind of, the rhythm then it's kind of, it's not as slow as, as, uh, what I was describing, but it ended up that that was the final product. What, what you can hear now. Um, and I really like the song, you know, it's, um, For, for me, it, it's, it's what I was describing earlier. The chords caught my attention and I thought, Oh, I'd love to hear this again. Let's, yeah, let's build a song around this. Um, and, and, and it's one of the songs I, I'll happily, uh, listen to it, uh, you know, Every once in a while because I, I just like the way it sounds.

Marc Matthews:

Great stuff. Yeah. It's, it is a great song and, um, I was obviously privileged enough to, to listen to it before you released it. So you started with the, you had the instrumental bit beforehand and then I love the idea that you sort of wanted to have that slower, slower tempo song. And you mentioned that the, uh, the Top Gun sort of influences top gun sort of sound that you're going for. Then are you thinking of Berlin? The Berlin Track, the. Song From From Top Gun. Yeah. Yeah. That's a great, great, great song. Great song.

Joao Esteves:

Yeah. It, it, it, it's, uh, and, and also because, you know, I had this idea, the whole opposite forces was to, you know, I'm gonna do an album. Um, a two part album that the first part is gonna be all happy and, you know, it's gonna be smooth, very easy listening. And the second part's gonna be a little bit, um, um, darker, you know, you know, probably, you know, going into the realms of dark scent and, and, and, you know, and I, I think it, it coincided nicely with

Marc Matthews:

that. That all sounds, I think you cut out a bit at the end there. Can you just repeat that last part? I think the microphone cut out a. Yeah,

Joao Esteves:

I, I, I, I was saying that, you know, this two part album. Um, the first part was, uh, I was focusing on making it really soft, listening, happy songs, upbeat, um, and, and cuz I knew that the second half of the album was gonna come out and, and, and that, that I, I wanted to do something darker, more like darks and towards the end, um, which, which coincided nicely with me starting to. Drums again cuz it really brought that energy back. Um, so it was, yeah, and nice in the end that I ended up playing, uh, real drums for it.

Marc Matthews:

Excellent stuff. So that, that's great to hear that like the, the darker energy, you kind of like bringing that more human side as well, which is, which is really cool. So it kind of leads on nicely to the next question. So you mentioned that about how you, you've recently started playing the drums and obviously you've got all the syns behind you as well. And obviously the, the in the box gear. Are there any tools or resources that make your songwriting easier? Um, or music production as well? What, what is it can you recommend that makes it easier for you?

Joao Esteves:

Um, I. Def. Look, I work with Logic, um, and I just got used to it. I learned how to mix songs in it. I learned how to, um, and I used to be a, a Cubase, uh, fan ever since, um, you know, ever since I heard of it. Um, I switched to logic. Just because I did a course, a mixing course, and you know, and the author of the course was using Logic and it was kind of, Okay, cool. You know, this is, I, I got used to it. So for me, logic, you know, out of the box gives you a ton. Of plugins, uh, even instruments. Um, same with garage band, really, right? You get all those instruments, you know, sense, you get so much out of the box, uh, that you can quickly get, get an idea down on, on, on, you know, get getting an idea down on the computer. You can listen back to it. Um, on top of that, then obviously, you know, there's a number of plugins that. Constantly use, and I, a while back, I acquired the Artia plugins, uh, some of the vintage sys. Um, and sometimes it's great. For example, it has a profit five. So sometimes what I do is, you know, if I want to test an idea, I use a lot of the profit five, uh, plugins, um, or multiple tracks with, with the sample again, and because I know I'll be able to replicate it back with, with hardware eventually, it's given me plenty of ideas as well of how to explore the gear as well. Um, so in essence, those two, those two are essential for me. Um, you know, everything else is, you know, it's, it's nice to have, but must have for me is a good do that you can master and a couple of plugins, instruments, um, that you can get your sound out.

Marc Matthews:

Fantastic stuff. Yeah, I agree with logic. I did something similar. I, I wasn't a Cubase user. It's probably the only door that I haven't really used. Um, shame on me. Uh, I, I moved over from Pro Tools to Logic, um, purely cuz it is easier. And, um, I had a MacBook and, and it's cost effective. I know the idea being that you pay less for logic, but you, you expend a fortune or spend a fortune rather buy buying a decent MacBook or something along those lines. I use it, much like you mentioned there about the door is my sketch pad to get ideas down and then I build from that. And the teria, the teria suite's amazing. I remember I used it a while back and for whatever reason I stopped. I can't remember now. Um, but I, I think it's a fantastic plug and suite. Have you got the, the suite where you've got all the sys?

Joao Esteves:

I don't think well, It's been a couple of years more perhaps since I, since I got it. I don't know if I have all the since, um, but I remember definitely testing most of them. And, uh, I end up using always like the Jupiter rate, the the profit five. Um, Occasionally, I, I explore a tiny bit of the other ones, like the, the arp, uh, 2,600. Um, but generally I don't go that far. Um, cuz sometimes I just want to get a quick result. So I go to the, to the well known ones and I know, okay, I'm gonna get a good sound out of this. And I don't, I don't have time to be spending two hours now. Flicking through all the patches until I find something that may or may not be what I'd like. Uh, so, um, it, it's really down to be productive with the time that I have.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah. Did, if I remember rightly, does it have a Fairlight emulation? Does it, I, yeah. It does. I remember playing, I, I lost so much time playing around with that, trying to come up with something decent out of the Fairlight. And, uh, much like you, I ended up just using the, the stock. I say stock stock's the wrong term, but I use the ones that you use probably with the, maybe the MO as well. I think I was using, Yeah. Um, Yeah, yeah, that, those are the ones I primarily used and, uh, maybe, maybe a couple of others. But yeah, I thought, you know what, I'm gonna proper get into sound design in this one here, and I'm gonna start using the Fairlight and it's a fantastic machine, don't get me wrong. But I thought, I wanna write a song. I don't wanna. Spend hours trying to come up with something and have nothing at the end.

Joao Esteves:

I was just thinking about, um, stuff that I bought over the years that was good value. Um, are you familiar with samples from Mars? Um, and, um, so samples from Mars does this Fantastic. Um, Um, collection of drum machines. So all the vintage drum machines, they've sampled them and, uh, you can buy it. I think I spent like$30, something like that. So I'm doing free advertisement for them here, but it's, um, It. Yeah. And I love it because it allowed me to kind of, uh, you know, explore a little bit of those old drum machines without actually having to buy them, um, and, and get the, the really, really good sound out of it. Um, so sometimes what I do, I mix a bit of the 7 0 7 with. A DMX or, or any of the other like famous drum machines that, you know, um, and some of them sound not so great, um, you know, they're quite raw. Um, but o others, Yeah. You, you can get a few bits from here, you know, Tom's from the other drum machine and, and then you end up with a result that kind of fits what you're looking after.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah. So you're blending different tones, different different drum machines. There. Something I've, I do similar to myself. I think I. It's, there's always a indrum in there somewhere, and then it's a dmx, and then there's a 7 0 7. Maybe an 8 0 8 depending on what style the track is. But I very much do the same thing. And I've got a, I got it from a different place, but it's a sample. I've got a sample libraries for each one, and then I went into Logic and used the, the, um, what's it called? The sample, sample instrument or sample, whatever it's called, and created the actual sampler there myself. So yeah, I do, it's very, very much the same thing. So what I, what I wear of time here, what I'd like to sort of move on to Na. Can you tell our audience a bit about you? You mentioned it earlier about how it's gonna be darker, but maybe a bit more about the up and coming ep.

Joao Esteves:

Thank you. Um, it's, uh, it's, it's only four tracks. They're all instrumental, so I'm not singing on any of them this time. Um, and they, most of them, I, I, I was very cautious about making sure that. They would have, um, almost like going into darks in territory where, where the drums tend to be a little bit more frenetic and you have a baseline that's really low end or really aggressive. Um, not, I didn't go as far as that, but I, I did really push the envelope a little bit in terms of making it, um, darker. Darker. And one of the things that. I'm always really careful about in any of the songs that I've been writing lately, is that I don't like writing stuff that's just like three chords. Um, and this is probably where Cole says, you know, that's almost sin wave jazz. But, uh, I always like to, to, to make sure that I, I put in. A little bit of my classical education in there and try to put like an arpaio that's maybe exploring a really weird sequence of chords, or you change the key of the song towards the end. And, and while at first it may sound a little bit odd and maybe not in tune with, you know, the typical three four song, uh, formula for scenes wave. That's still what gives me a lot of satisfaction is musical compositions that aren't necessarily, I know they're not gonna necessarily be the, you know, the one hit wonders, but I, I need to explore that side of things. I need to put more into it than, than just, you know, your one hit wonderer, which is not what I'm looking after doing. I'm looking after building like complex songs while. Sometimes they may sound simple when you listen to them. If you really, you know, if you really pay, pay attention to it. If you really listen to all the instruments in the background, there's a lot of stuff happening and, and a lot of it is, is actually. Uh, you know, the bits that gave me a lot of satisfaction to, to record or to, uh, um, or, or, or to, or to write. Um, and then this one, this new EP is no exception. There's a lot of, there's like a few good minutes of, uh, Of, of of song that aren't even with rhythm. It's just like, I went it, someone said, Oh, it reminds me of sci-fi of the seventies and eighties, because it goes into these, uh, landscapes where you can, it just, you know, it's just sense and it's just, uh, a composition that, and, and lots of effects in the background and it, and that, that was part of the, you know, I'm really enjoying to build those, those moments because, Because I find them beautiful, you know, as beautiful as, you know, the song, the main bed of the song, the chords and the chorus, and, uh, that's all great. But I, I live for those moments that, you know, are a little bit different. Um, and yeah, that's always what I try to bring to my songs and, you know, I try to do something that is, that is a little bit different. And I know not everyone will, uh, enjoy it. But, uh, as I said, you know, I, I do it, you know, it's my brand. Um, and, and I'll stick to it.

Marc Matthews:

Yeah. It goes back to what you said earlier, doesn't it? You're making music that you'd wanna listen to and that you enjoy, and I think if other people find it enjoyable, great, but you're doing it for you ultimately. Um, and I, I love the idea of it being experimental in a darker sound and, um, it's certainly. It's, uh, it is an exciting prospect. Have you got a release? This is gonna be my next one, which is like, key dates and releases. Have you got is a release date or month that we can

Joao Esteves:

expect? Uh, so yeah, we'll have a single at the start of November and, um, or late October. And we'll, the, the EP comes out on the 11th of, of November.

Marc Matthews:

So 11th of November. Fantastic. They go. Audience, I will, uh, put a link to all of this in the show notes as well. So my next question or opportunity view really is, uh, Jaro is where, where can our audience find you?

Joao Esteves:

Um, so yeah, I, I do have a website where you can grab links. It's your friend ests.com. Um, ESTs is all S's uh, so I'm now related to Emil ESTs with his ads, but, uh, so it's ESTs with s.com and if you just Google. That's very same, uh, thing. You're a friend Estos, you'll, you'll find me. I'm very active on Instagram. I like to post a lot of updates there. Um, but you'll find me on all, all social media channels really.

Marc Matthews:

Fantastic. I'll put those in the show notes as well. Lovely stuff. And, um, once again, audience do go check out all the, all the back catalog as well, not just in the new release, but the back catalog as well. So a big thanks mate for joining me on this today. It's, it's been great spending time with you and going through your gear as well, um, which I'm very impressed by and picking your brains on your production and your songwriting and whatnot. I know the audience is gonna get a lot out of it cuz it kind of, what's good at the moment is that all these conversations I'm having, there's a, there's a concurrent. In them of the chords. Chords seem to be paramount at the moment when it comes to this, this songwriting game of ours, which is amazing. So once again, a huge thank you for, uh, for joining me today. Oh, thank you.

Joao Esteves:

It's been a, it's been great to talk to you over the last hour and, uh, and, uh, yeah, thank you so much for your time.

Marc Matthews:

Fantastic. I'll speak to you soon, buddy.

Joao Esteves:

Hi, I'm Violet from V Y lt and my favorite episode of the Inside the Mix podcast has to be episode 41, because promotion and networking advice is so, so important, especially for new independent artists. Thank you for tuning in to Insight the Mix.

Episode Introduction
Overcoming musical challenges
How do you stay motivated to produce music?
How do you start writing a song?
How do you start a synth music mix?
Tools that make songwriting easier

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