Interview with Psychowsky [Theodoris Evangelatos]!!
Time for another interview here on Progressive House Worldwide and today we have a true rising star in the genre of progressive house music. Hailing from Greece and with over 60 productions out in the digital stores, Theodoris Evangelatos aka Psychowsky a well established name in the business and we are truly happy to have with us here. Often with his trademark deep productions in the genre, he has seen his name go through major labels such as Elliptical Sun Recordings, Ivan Nikusevs imprint OLD SQL Recordings, Future Synth, the mighty Mistique empire, Lowbit and a bunch more. It’s no exaggeration to say, he knows what he is doing in the studio. Let’s get under his skin and see what he has to tell us!
Hello to you to guys and thanks for your overwhelming introductory. I’m much honored to be on your site, since it’s one of my top sources of choice for news arround the scene.
An honour to have you in on this interview, we know you are busy so we appreciate that you take your time for us and your fans. Could you give us a brief about the early stages of your career. How did you end up in the music business and how did it turn out that you got in to producing?
Honour is all mine This is my first personal interview actually, and I’m really excited that its on PHW.
In brief: Due to my father who is a musician too, I’ve been around the music making process since birth. I studied music for 6 years (theory and harmony) and 4 years of classical piano. Since the age of 11 when I got my first computer, I began my own personal ride in to music and technology, which proved to be quite an experience so far.
My first works were in 1994 for english children’s books. After serving the army in between 1997-2001, I remixed & composed music for artists, did a soundtrack for a short film, a mini-clip series for a major TV station and several multimedia projects.
The music industry which was a major dissapointment in most cases at that time, and my unwillingness to compromise my music to the pop-standards, made me quit the idea of getting serious with producing and I switched carreers at 26 to graduate and to work as an application / web developer. Things started to roll again in 2010 when I remixed Kostas DarkOn Nakopoulos’ “Vision” and meet (via Facebook) Athan Vs. of DeepSessions Recordings. The rest, you know…
If you should try and define your sound, what would you say then to describe it with your own words?
Interesting question… With a difficult answer Probably the only definition I’d do about my sound is that it’s the product of a work of love.
I’m not strictly progressive oriented. Under the “Psychowsky” alias you hear only a part of my work. F.e. as “Voltage Soul Orchestra” I produce old skool, nu-jack house and nu-disco. As “Sky-Tek” I produce jungle and atmposhperic drum & bass. Generally I like to compose tracks in a wide range of genres because I enjoy making music, and because playing with new styles is a very exciting challenge.
Another common thing I aim for in my works, is that I want to make them sound tight with all the elements blended together beautiful! I don’t always achieve it, but I’m always trying to!
When producing, how do you build your tracks, do you work with a certain strategy all the time or it can be different, sometimes starting with percussion, sometimes with a melody or bass line?
Well, I think I work with two strategies actually! Either I have the entire idea in my head and I just pull it out of my head and write it in an arrangement. Or I have a partial or an abstract idea, and I start working on it to see how it goes. If I like it, I extend it.
When the second case happens, it doesn’t really matter how I start; sometimes it’s the bassline, the drums or sometimes it’s the melody. Its more about what do I end up with -the main idea. If I like it, then I’m trying to see how I can extend it. Adding parallel tracks, or adding a verse to break the main theme etc.
Are you using both hardware and software for your productions and what DAW are you using?
I prefer a fast PC, a good soundcard and robust software, instead of hardware.
I’m not against hardware or something, yet the memories of the 90s still haunt me. You see I never had the money to buy state of the art gear, and used semi-pro, or really obsolete equipment (f.e. my hardware sampler is a Roland S-330 – excelent for its time, but manufactured in 1985). Believe me, there is no way to describe how awful is not to be able to make music, the way you want to, because of the hardware limitations. When the virtual studio technologies started to emerge, I couldn’t thank the… Good Lord enough (and the software / plugin developers of course) for that! Hahaha!
My DAW of choice is Propellerheads Reason because it’s stable and it offers the best studio emulation I’ve seen so far. Then comes Cubase which I used since the days of Atari ST, I can ReWire it with Reason and use VST Plugins, so its a strong plus. Depending on the nature of my project I might also use Ableton Live, another awesome piece of software, sometimes instead of Cubase.
How would you define a good progressive track?
Hmmm… Can’t really answer that. I have of course my list of DOs and DON’Ts but many times artists surprise me and I hear tracks that might have one or more of these DON’Ts in absolute masterpieces- meaning there are exceptions to my ”rules”.
I could easily say that a good progressive track can be anything that makes a difference, but even then, sometimes its not even the track itself! For example I hear a track separately or in a set and it doesn’t captivate me, and then I hear the same track in a different set, and because of how, where and when the DJ chose to mix it, sounds totally brilliant.
In the end what is most important is to understand why are you making this kind of music. I think the only golden rule here is to make tracks that ”stand” on the dancefloor. A track might be right as ray, but if you can’t mix it, or can’t dance to it, its “out of topic”. This is a classic mistake, I’ve done it too, and its been happening by artists throughout the entire history of dance music – not just now.
Let us know a few producers that you really like to listen to and let us also know what it is about their productions that makes it for you?
Oh, there are so many…
I enjoy listening to Shane & Morgenroth works. Their tracks are well produced and their atmospheres are really pleasant. Especially their older Jetlag releases were very inspirational to my work as well.
Simon Firth is also a name, with many energetic productions, that I like.
Some others like Mehmet Akar, MAZ7, T-Dallas, Marcelo Vasami, Arctic Night, Exoplanet have also a series of well produced tracks that I enjoy to listen to.
And of course there are 21 Street, Sound Process, Aggressor, Haroun Omar, LoQuai, Sergey Post, OrElse, Darin Epsilon, Tolga Diler, Andre Absolut… There are many many more of course. These are names that just popped out…
I also enjoy listening to John Ov3rblast. Who’s not in progressive house, but I think he is one of the most serious EDM assets of our time.
What kind of music do you listen to, are you going strictly for progressive music or you listen to all kind of styles?
You know, I’m willing to hear every track of every genre, as long as it has something to say. If it clicks to me, then it would be a shame and I would suprise myself if I snobbed it because “its not my favourite genre”. And to tell you the truth I don’t sympathise with the genre-oriented mentality that some have these days. People should, and especialy artists ought, to be more open-minded to music.
Even if I wanted to tell you that I listen to Progressive House, the term (genre) exists since 1991, but then it was something VERY different than it is today! The same applies for styles like drum & bass or trance etc – generally every style that’s still evolving. So you see the classification of music in genres fails to describe accurately even songs of the same genre but different periods!!!
You know in the early rave parties, you’d just listen to alternative music. No specific genres or styles… You’d hear industrial rock, synth pop, house, techno, belgian hardcore (new-beat), breakbeat house (the predecessor of drum & bass) all in the same set. I don’t know how that sounds to someone nowdays, but back then, and because of that, these were the parties of our lifetimes. These where experiences that opened our minds and made us musicaly richer.
More over, I gained experience that made me a more compitant composer, as I was able to apply techniques found in one genre to an other.
You live in Greece, how would you describe the EDM scene, and especially the progressive genre in your country?
In the underground, things are going very well, and the scene seems to be growing. Since the dawn of digital distribution and social networking in the internet, we -the greek artists- had the opportunity to speak out abroad, to people from other parts of the world. This was a major leap forward, considering that the audience that follows EDM related events and artists has always been small here.
Over the ground, nevertheless, things are dissapointing. The major players like Radio Stations & Labels make demands on how tracks should be produced according to their “tried-and-tested” recipies… Big clubs follow this notion, by forcing DJs and producers to play music according to these standards as well. In general, although the industry has shifted from the ”shitty greek-folk music” from the past decades, to the ”less-yet-very shity rap-dance-pop-electro-something”, ”it” still thinks in tasteless marketing terms. Of course -as always- there are exceptions to this rule.
In general though, the real work to keep things running here, is done by the independent djs, clubs, stations, labels and of course followers-supporters, who believe in what we do, and want to promote it. I should thank them (and we all do thank them) for their support.
A lot of the music today is not sold, it’s spread through Internet and musicians and labels hardly make any money at all on their productions and the hard work that’s been put in. What are your thoughts about the sharing through blogspots, forums and all other ways for illegal sharing of music and what do you think there is to do about it?
Another interesting question, and a tough answer You see, I can’t blame people for downloading and not buying all the songs they like. There’s so much good music today, and so little money in most people’s pockets. Hell, even I can’t say that I haven’t been tempted to download illegal music…
Nevertheless most people don’t see the big picture of what’s going on. F.e: If the “X-Big-Name” sell 5.000 copies of the “Y-Big-Track” and has another 50.000 downloads, they’d still make a good buck for themselves. Not, of course, as if they had sold 55.000 copies, but nevertheless the “X-Big-Name”s effort would have been rewarded.
If a small artist sells 50 copies of a track and people download another 500, although the analogy is the same, his/her royalties are daunting, and his/her effort is underpayed.
I don’t mean to say that its ok to download the big names. I just want to emphasize, how different the two cases are. People should think very seriously before downloading works from small artists.
To be honest, I wouldn’t mind if someone downloaded my music, as long as I knew that if they liked it, they’d buy it.
Beyond the listeners, serious considerations should be made, from other members of the distribution process. Promo Houses should not accept anyone who can pay a few dollars fee per month, posing as a dj, and leaking releases even before their official dates. Whatsmore in some cases distributors and promo houses, are cutting outrageous percentages out of the sales. This is also a discouraging factor for artists, and fans who want to support them.
What can we expect in the coming months from if we talk about your productions?
Ah! First and foremost there is a forthcoming release on Progressive House Worldwide called “Believe In Me”, which I think will blow your mind. Happy vibe with a steering piano melody, and AFAIK the remixers lineup is outstanding.
There’s also an EP called “Solstice” on Lowbit with two new tracks, “Solstice” & “Aerodisco”, that is just out. These are more of a dark mood, hypnotic, with great atmospheres and pads. I sincerely hope that you’ll enjoy them if you haven’t heard them yet.
There are other things planned but these are the most certain I know for the moment.
On a different note, I’m really hopping to further promote my “Voltage Soul Orchestra” project. I have many good ideas on nu-disco and nu-jack tracks, yet I have to look out for vocalists. I’d also like to try vocals on progressive tunes too.
Where do you see the name of Psychowsky in a long term perspective, let’s say in a couple of years time?
Hahaha, My dear friend, there’s a proverb we say in Greece that goes: “Whenever man makes plans, God has a laugh”. That’s why I try to keep my expectations minimal.
I’m not daydreaming of being large in a couple of years – if that’s what you mean. And generally I don’t dream of things beyond my reach. I like to take things one step at a time. Where, each step reveals your next choices, and the choice you make becomes your next step and so on.
I believe that everything, especially the love and support you get from people, is beeing lended to you. Its not your own property! Considering it your own, and building a… career –if you like- by manipulating it, is insulting to those who support you. I’ve seen, and you’ve seen perhaps producers –big names- doing it and it sucks. Instead of manipulating your acceptance, you should give something back –meaning: your next tack, a ”thank you” note, etc.
If what’s happening now, has to go somewhere, it will be whenever this interaction takes it, and nothing else.
Time to round things of, it’s been a pleasure to have you in for this interview, any final words to your readers at Progressive House Worldwide?
Wow! That was fun! Hahaha! To tell you the truth this interview made me realize how easily I can go out of topic, by trying to over-analyze my arguments and answers. Its a fact that I was never good at school when the teacher asked…. – LOL, ok! Not funny!
My final words to readers? Thank you for supporting! It has been quite a ride so far, and it wouldn’t mean anything without your love, your kind feedback and your warm support. Its always appreciated, and I mean that by heart, even if I cant always answer in time.
Stay real, be progressive and don’t come to terms with things that make you less than a man… I guess that’s all!
August 24th, 2012