Extraordinary talented and successful author of melodic club sounds Darin Epsilon recently moved from the USA to Berlin – soon we’ll have the opportunity to hear him perform at two locations in our region: the club Maximus situated in the town of Kotor (Montenegro) and at the Lunar Festival in Zenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina). For this occasion we caught up with him to have him describe his artistic evolution, the way he perceives the electronic music scene, also the very progressive sound itself, that he loves so much.
For a better illustration, he mixed us an engaging podcast, interwoven with lush organic arrangements, irresistible harmonies and a powerful, corporeal groove. A perfect soundtrack to the picturesque spring that’s just blooming around us! Click play and dive into the interview, then catch him playing live!
While your early influences, like Prodigy and Underworld, reflect the more popular side of British electronic music, later you delved into the more underground niches carved out by the likes of Sasha & Digweed and Hernan Cattaneo. What was the turning point in this direction?
I discovered electronic music in the late 90’s and early 2000’s through college radio and Napster. The kind of music they were playing was far more sophisticated and intelligent sounding than anything I was used to. Each track in their mixes was of the highest quality and elegance, and the melodies and harmonies melted from one transition into another.
I think the style really fits my personality because I have a strong musical background learning two instruments. It’s just one of those things I can sense right away when listening. No other style of music has ever given me the same feeling.
Tell us about your very beginnings in DJ-ing and the way you’ve mastered the skill. Did you have any mentors to help you?
I’m actually 100% self taught! The music was so underground back then that it was way too difficult to find anyone that could mentor me. When I was growing up in Chicago, I was the only kid in school that even had a pair of turntables. It took me several years and hundreds of hours of practice before I was no longer nervous performing in front of people.
How did you take up production? In which way did your style (and your studio setup) evolve?
My school actually offered an intro course on MIDI and electronic music production. I wrote my first track when I was 14 but was too distracted with schoolwork to pursue music seriously. During my senior year of college, I completed my first remix that was released on Beatport in 2007. I’ve been steadily releasing music ever since then.
In my early days I was spinning a combination of European dance hits and Progressive Trance. I had a Hard House phase, then I was really into Breakbeats, but finally I settled on deep and groovy Progressive House.
My studio setup was and still is very basic. I learned music production with Cubase, but never really liked it because I thought it was too difficult. Then I moved onto Reason, then Logic, and then Ableton Live, which is what I currently use to produce. So I guess you can say I’ve written a track in nearly all the major DAW’s including FL Studio.
Once you’ve remarked that progressive house brings out the best qualities of music itself, especially because you lay much importance to the melody. If we put aside the purely technical aspects of this style, describe the influence it has on your imagination! Which sceneries, emotions or memories does it invoke in you?
The genre doesn’t really matter, but I’m particularly drawn to organic sounding music with emotion and soul. I don’t do drugs or anything, but sometimes I hear a track that is so good that I literally feel like I’m floating! I enjoy Progressive House in particular because I think it has the unique ability to take the listener on a journey.
Besides production and DJing, one of your main occupations is your label Perspective Digital. Describe the process of selection and the methods you use to keep your ears fresh and to digest all the enormous amounts of music you have to listen through! What are the main advantages (and disadvantages) of running a label?
Yes it’s true. Running a label can often times be overwhelming with the amount of demos that get sent. Generally I look for tracks that not only sound great at home but can also rock the dancefloor. It needs to have the right sound and stand out. I prefer tracks that are original and don’t follow the same formula as popular tracks of the moment.
The main advantage of running a label is having complete freedom. I can release whatever I want whenever I want. The difficult part is being consistent with releases and maintaining a high standard. Occasionally I have to deal with big egos, which is never fun, but always part of the business.
Despite your dedication to the underground sound, it seems that you seriously commit yourself to all the side work, like promotion, etc. What’s your take on the music business in general and how do these additional activities affect your creativity?
I manage all 7 of my social media accounts. In some ways I really like it, since I studied Business Administration in college and have a degree in Marketing. It can be a fun challenge to learn all the things you can do with Facebook, SoundCloud, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. Other times it’s a real pain, but social media is so essential for the success of any musician these days.
Soon you’ll be playing at two dates in our region, Maximus in Montenegro and Lunar Festival in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Are you familiar in any way with our scene? Also, what vibe are you in lately and what can we expect from your sets? Is there any difference in your style when you play clubs as opposed to playing festivals?
Actually no, I don’t really know too much about Montenegro or Bosnia & Herzegovina to be honest. I’m almost always surprised and intrigued whenever I travel to a new country. It really satisfies the inner explorer in me. I can never get enough of this sort of thing and always love learning about and experiencing different cultures!
People that have never heard me perform live before might not realize that I play 4 different styles of music: Progressive House, Deep House, Tech House, and Techno. When I’m performing in a club, I have more time to build the energy in my set and pace myself, but for a huge festival, I think there’s less of an opportunity to do that. Often times you’re playing for people that are not always familiar with the music, so it’s better to play the biggest tracks and keep the audience interested.
Give us your visions on the further evolution of progressive scene and your place in its future! As for the near future, what are your plans for this season, concerning the gigs, the releases and all the interesting moves you’re about to take?
Well, as you know, I recently moved to Europe. I hope to continue growing and reaching new people with my music. Right now I’m preparing for the 50th release on Perspectives Digital, which is an important milestone for the label. I have 2 collaborations with Cid Inc that are about to be released, a remix for Global Underground, as well as several new original productions on the way.