We are beyond excited to announce Aron Volta and his track “Further” to our Various Artist Album and wanted to get to know the man from the North of the Netherlands a bit better. We will dive deeper into his day to day and studio processes and some inspirations in his environment. Sit back and get to know Aron Volta!
Hey Aron thanks for taking the time to speak with us, how are you doing at the moment?
Hey Unmute, thanks it’s a pleasure to be talking to you. I am doing good. I am working day to day at the woodshop and yeah busy with that a lot. The evenings after work I reserve for quality studio time and unwinding through music production. The A&R activities for PIV I have had to put aside because of it, but I am happy Marijn (M-High) is taking over those responsibilities and doing an amazing job. It gives me time to focus on my productions. work my day job and sustain myself. So over all I am in a good place and enjoying my studio time and output immensely.
We of course have been talking before and know a bit about each other, but for our readers can you tell us a bit more who Aron Volta is?
Yeah, to be honest I am just a regular guy from Groningen, which is in the north of the Netherlands. I started making music about 7 years ago, but more in the realms of techno and around 5 years ago I dove deeper into House, Deep Tech and Minimal productions. I did some sound education for Sound Design in Leeuwarden, from which I learned a lot.
Did you play as a DJ already 7 years ago? When did that come into place?
I wasn’t really active as a DJ, and just really focused on the production side of things at home. Making instrumental hip hop beats, drum and bass, techno and that kinda stuff. Also, the nightlife in Groningen, from what I had experienced back then, was mostly techno and drum and bass. I didn’t really feel exposed enough to the DJ culture when going out, so it was mostly hanging out with other producers from my study and friends. The connection to house, DJing and everything came with my first contact with producers and DJ’s from Amsterdam and going to a festival called BuitenWesten.
Was this the moment it went “click” for you?
Yeah definitely. I think the stage was called Blackout or something I can’t remember, but I remember seeing William Djoko, Huxley, James Dexter and some other great names that day and fell in love with the vibe that they were creating. In terms of sound, I would still consider them to be one of my main inspirations today.
Speaking about inspiration, you mentioned James Dexter but do you have any other mentors or people you look up to?
I love Tommy Vercetti’s sound too and I have reached out to him over the years to learn and exchange music. By now we have become great friends and I respect his work greatly. In general, I try to reach out to my producer friends globally from a production side of interest, and to learn from each other.
I think he even released on PIV if I am not mistaken?
Wait, let me think. I think it was a spring sampler where he had a tune. Yes! “Missed Call” it was called.
So one of your idols was released on a label you are closely affiliated with? Isn’t that a dream come true?
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. I mean, I have great contact with James Dexter and also Tommy Vercetti, and we share music. So yeah, that’s really funny. I see them, when I travel like when I’m in the UK for a gig. Oh yeah and once when we invited him with PIV we also played together. So yeah, that’s a lot closer now than back in the days.
Yeah, that’s amazing. Man. That sounds good. And how do you look back on the past? You are 5 years into the house scene about, but you seem so established already and you have a very characteristic sound right now. How did you transition into that sound? And how did your influences play a part in this? You already mentioned Tommy Vercetti inspired you more towards the sound you already have, but from your own musical journey and perspective, how would you describe that?
Yeah, well, when I got in contact with PIV, my sound also changed a little bit. First, I got in contact with Chriss Stussy. He introduced me to Prunk and all the other guys. And yeah, from that moment, I never looked back. So yeah, I just started making music. I didn’t really have a plan for a particular sound. I wanted to make something with the resources that I had at the time. With this process, there were a few tracks that came out of it. And those were released on PIV. I’m not really sure what really influenced me for making these sounds, but Chris and everyone at PIV really coached me through the process and help shape my own sound.
When it comes to your own sound, what characteristics define your music specifically? And how does that influence the perception of Aron Volta as an artist in the Netherlands and the world?
Yeah that’s also a hard question, but I think it is mostly the way I use my filter sounds and layering of tracks to give it a bit more filling. Also, the way I play around with atmospheric pads and combine it with a nice group of rolling basslines. I like to keep it truer to house, but weaving in some minimal and more modern influences of house music, to give it a deep but happy energy. Yeah, I think that defines my sound pretty much.
We definitely agree and find a rich fullness in your productions that is uncanny and really sets yourself in a whole other tier of quality and level as an artist. How do you manage this high standard and can you tell us a bit more about that process?
Thanks so much for the compliments. I think there is a lot of incredible talented people out there, that have the will to put in the time really. I think I still have room for growth when it comes to mixdown and more sound engineering related section of production for example. I have a lot to thank to my previous 3 year-long sound engineering education and knowledgeable friends around me that help me grow and learn new skills every day. But, at the end of the day it is you who needs to sit down and do the work, and put in the time to learn.
Learning and growing from your community is something we also value a lot here at UNMUTE and we see a lot more production communities popping up in these times. They are becoming educators for the future upcoming artists around the globe. What is your opinion about this?
I think it is great and yeah we have to be creative in these Corona-times, so it’s a healthy response to the clubs being shut at the moment. Lots of groups for sample packs, VST’s and other useful production tips are freely available online. I see Josh Baker doing it with SynthoHub, DeMarzo with his EMC group on Discord and many more.
Coming up as a producer in Groningen, however I can imagine you did not have such access to these groups besides your education?
I started learning real specific house production skills from Chris Stussy and was able to have a few very inspiring studio sessions with him. That helped me a lot, but yeah in the beginning besides my school, I only had Youtube to teach me, which is really great, and most information is online available so yeah I didn’t have a mentor in the beginning.
Okay yeah different times back then, than they are now. What is your take on mentorship through either producers or label/community side?
I think it is great to reach out to your idols and inspirators, and I try to bare in mind that I once started out as well. However, I can also say that sending demos every day is not the right way to go. There is not going to be huge progression in a day’s work, and most tracks need work and time to progress. I suggest usually to send me a demo, receive feedback and send it again in a month. In that way there is space and time to let the arrangement and mixdown develop in the finer details.
From being educated, you are now actually the educator in Demarzo’s EMC program, going through demos and helping people out with questions. How does that work for you?
It’s great! I am enjoying it a lot and seeing so many talented people joining the Discord channel. I think it’s important as a musician to find multiple streams of income and teaching and sharing knowledge is a great product to sell. Not that it should be about money, but I feel like there is an equal balance between giving back to the music community and being able to sustain myself as an artist while doing what I love. It’s a win-win!
Yeah, super cool, man. Normally in these interviews, we also ask the producers for studio tips and want to show us how their workflow looks like, if they have any specific plugins and stuff they would like to share with our readers. Being a music coach and all, I think that’s a nice bridge to go into that part. How does your music production workflow look like? If you sit down in the studio? How does it go? Or do you have specific days where you do a specific section of the arrangement? How does it work for you?
I start by turning on my computer hahaha.
Yeah, I work with Ableton Live mostly. I try to layer my tracks out and start with a drum track to build the foundation. From there, most of the times, I choose to start with a bassline. Just playing around with keyboards to find a nice melody. But, I can also start with something more melodic, like, a pad chord, or something else that really sets the tone to the track. And then from there, I really get a feeling from which way I want to go with the tune. So yeah, just first percussions and then bass or something melodic, like chord and that really can set some kind of a tone and I feel like oh, yeah, that’s the way I want to go. I normally start in Session View and then later on I put it into the Arrangement View and that’s where I built a song. So yeah, that’s how I start.
And how does this work for you in the creative process? You said something about having a certain tension that keeps you going?
No, well no, what I first do I build a big loop. I let it loop in Session View and I build out every layer. So, when I have a bassline done, I think after that it needs something like a chord and or a stab and when I have that as a basis, then yeah maybe something like pad sounds for in the break for example. And when I get maybe some vocal stuff with it, I have enough layers to start building it out in Arrangement View. That’s really how I go with it.
Okay, cool. Yeah, that sounds like a very good and viable workflow. That’s not unheard of. What kind of tools do you use when producing in the studio? Do you have the most tools to produce ‘in the box’? Or do you have any other gear whatsoever?
Most of it is in the box of course. I do have an Ableton Push and a Roland TR-8 to make some basic drum patterns but most of my work comes from the VST’s and DAW’s functionalities. I use a lot of soft synths like Sylenth One for my synthesizer sounds, chords and pads. These tools help me scroll through sounds easily and find some new creative directions. Next to that, I sometimes use the microphone to sing in a bassline melody and transpose it to MIDI notes to be applied to bass or any other sound to my liking and to be able to make music without much theoretical music knowledge. It’s a great tool and I think I should make a video about it for EMC.
Definitely do it, it’s a good tip and could help so many people out there who want to start out producing. I think this is quite cool, because sometimes producers are a bit scared or insecure about not having the knowledge in music theory or musical skills, but to hear such an experienced producer like yourself surpass that by doing a simple but effective trick like this. This can be very helpful material for people to read.
Absolutely! Also, be aware of that making music is getting easier and easier with the day because you have programs that keep you in into the scale for example. We have Scaler, and it’s a program where you can, keep all your melody stuff into one scale or MIDI scale. You also have programs that keep you into a certain groove. And yeah, I mean, there are so many helpful VST’s and programs to help you with the creative process and the music technical process.
When you say keep you into a groove, what do you mean by that and which program do you use for that?
Well, sometimes, I use, for example, a top loop from a sample pack. But I work in a certain groove, certain swing, the top loop is really static, straight down to the beat, it’s not really groovy, it’s not really swinging. Then in Ableton you have the groove function where you can apply a swing to the transient of the loop. So, it will detect all the transients from the audio loop and it will push them a little bit more forward or backwards, according to the swing that you choose. You can also do that with MIDI notes. And yeah, it’s really, really useful tool in Ableton.
You mentioned, there are lots of tools out there nowadays accessible for producers, and some of which you also use. You mentioned Scaler, which is an awesome MIDI app with a lot of scales. Do you have any other tools you would like to share with our readers that are like a must-use tip from you?
Yeah, let me think. Well, I really like to use sidechain, but not really sidechain to do the compression. So, I have like a little plugin it’s called kickstart from Cable Guys. With that plugin, you can put it on the bass channel where you want sidechain on and it does it for you. You don’t have to put on a compressor and link it to the sound which you want the signal from and simply sidechain it, now it’s just a little LFO linked to the volume and every time when the kick hits it will dip the volume of the sound. Saves some time and energy for more creative steps.
Oh yeah, that’s super nice. That’s super convenient. I heard of that plugin before, but I actually didn’t use it myself yet. And are there any other tools you use? On a day to day when you’re producing like what are the effects or plugins or synthesizers you use the most?
I use Phoscyon from D16 a lot. It’s a 303 emulator, so an acid machine like the Roland TB303. I use it a lot under or over my basslines, to give it a more melodic touch and helps with the layering to make it sound fuller. I can really recommend that and it’s not so expensive.
I think we can both agree that we can talk about production and creative processes for hours but we also want to shine a light on your upcoming track on our very first VA release on UNMUTE. “Further” is a deep, trancy-like track that really surprised us here in the team and caught our attention. What we noticed was that it sounded a bit different from what we are used to hearing from you. Was that a conscious choice when making the track?
Well, to be honest, it was an older project of mine, which was laying around. I still knew that I had the project and when you guys came up with the VA and asked me to also join this release, there wasn’t a lot of time. I also was quite busy with work at the time, so I thought maybe let’s send that project and see what you guys think of it. Fortunately for me, you guys really liked it.
However, I felt like it wasn’t really finished. So yeah, I spent one evening finishing and since it was an older project it sounded a little bit different from what I do right now. But yeah, I added some stuff in it that are more Aron Volta from now. I feel like it’s a really nice combination from some deeper grooves I did earlier and added with some new stuff. It turned out really nice and I am extremely happy with the end result. I think when I made the track it was back in a time where I was listening a lot to Ben Rau. He also has a really nice deep sound with cool vocal stuff. I think it was really inspired by Ben Rau, when I made that tune.
Now that you say it I can hear the Inkal/Ben Rau vibe in the track as well. How can you pinpoint the way you put in some more current Aron Volta sounds in the track “Further”? What are the elements that are new and what are the elements that are old?
Yeah, well, I listen to music quite differently now because I have more experience in playing music and going to gigs and it also needs to be a good track for DJs to play. I changed stuff in the arrangement mostly so it works better for DJs playing. It needed depth, and I added some filters and stuff like that. And the rest I just kept the original. Of course, I changed some stuff in the mixdown because back in the day, my mixing was different from now. So yeah, there were some mixing aspects that could be improved and I did that. And that’s really how the track came together.
The track really has a lot of call and response, certain melodies in there to play with each other, that really carries you throughout the whole track as a listener. I find this very fascinating, and it changes all the time as well. You have certain changing hooks through the whole track. This actually sounds to me, musically, quite advanced. So how did you come up with that without having that real theoretical experience back then?
Yeah, well, I think theoretical it’s different from talent. I also think I do have a good hearing. I do hear when something is wrong and I do hear when something sounds good. From experience speaking, that’s really important and can help you go a long way. I don’t have the theoretical education, but no I mean, if it sounds good, it sounds good. I just do everything by ear and thankfully my ears are well-trained. So yeah, if your hearing is good, you don’t really need the theory.
So the track, as I said before, transitions into multiple hooks and actually sound so diverse for me, that they could all be the basis of one separate track. However, you choose to combine it in one and a have these transitions, which is really cool. How did you come up with that? Is that working through the layers? As you said before? Or did it just go as it went?
When I have a good basic loop, and I translate it to the arrangement, so I build out the tune, I’m still adding stuff, still adding extra instruments and extra chords. I had a plug-in, like a vocal sampler plugin I used. And I just played around with it. If I know in what key I am, or sometimes I do it by ear, just scrolling through the presets and just hitting the same note until I hear something is nice. If it’s nice then I just add it. And when that’s not enough, I add even more stuff. I just like to keep it interesting for the listener, so I try to keep the arrangement a little bit dynamic by changing sounds and sometimes just playing around with the filter.
Thanks so much for the insight. I think we pretty much covered everything so we come to our last question and that is where do you see your track “Further” being played?
I would see this track being played at Thuishaven in the summer. It’s my favorite club and location in Amsterdam and I could see my track being played there.
Yeah amazing I could see your track being played at one of the indoor tents for the more underground feeling. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us and looking forward to the release.
Further (Original Mix) is one of the tracks of the upcoming album AMPLIFY, released on 28th of February 2021.
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