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INTERVIEW: Tensteps – Behind The Scenes Of ‘Deja Vu’


In this exclusive interview, Tensteps discusses the behind-the-scenes process of his latest single ‘Deja Vu’, and its connection to his upcoming album. He shares insights into collaborating with vocalist Sarah de Warren and the seamless creative process, Tensteps reveals his production techniques, including his distinctive sound design and thematic approach. With ‘Deja Vu’ he aims to evoke emotions and create meaningful connections with his audience, this is what he said.

Hi Tensteps! How are you? 

Doing great, thanks!

‘Deja Vu’ marks the third single off your upcoming album. How does this track contribute to the overall concept and sound you’re aiming to achieve with the album?

I guess you could say that ‘Deja Vu’ sort of represents the sound I’m most known for.  The three main things that I try to bring into every record are a super catchy vocal, a memorable synth melody, and an energetic drop.  If all of those are present, most likely I consider it a good record.  ‘Deja Vu’ I think represents each of those things well.  Sarah slayed the vocal, and all the production stuff just came together really nicely around it, and I think when you hear the album as a whole, the song will fit nicely between everything else I have.

Collaborating with Sarah de Warren on ‘Deja Vu’ has resulted in a powerful track. Can you tell us about the creative process and how your musical styles complemented each other? 

The nice thing about Sarah’s writing is that it can be applied to a wide range of music.  Her and her co-writer Cappa wrote this topline on their own, I only heard it later on and build the track around it.  The vocal could just as easily be applied to a Melodic Bass song as a Trance song, and that’s partially what drew me to it.  As you’ll hear when the album comes out, I take influence from lots of different styles of music and I like when certain elements, such as a vocal, can transcend across those different genres.  Also, a vocal that can be used across different genres always makes for some fun remixes down the road (wink, wink)!

The vocal melodies in ‘Deja Vu’ are infectious and captivating, how did you work together with Sarah de Warren to bring out the best in her vocals and create that strong emotional connection in the track?

Sarah’s such a rockstar singer and writer that it’s so easy to bring out the best in her voice because she puts the best forward right off the bat. There was nothing I needed her to re-record, or try differently, it was literally perfect as it came to me.  So, from there it was on me to build the best track I possibly could around it and do the vocals justice. And not only do I think I did that, but most if it came together in about two days, haha.

Can you share some insights into the production techniques and choices that contributed to the track’s intensity and impact?

I mentioned this in a video I posted on my Instagram, but I think the way I design my leads really helps with that.  I start with the main melody, or the “top” melody one might call it, and then stack a few layers of that with different sounds. From there, I create what I call a “fancy” version of the melody – same top melody, but filling in all the gaps between those notes with other notes. Basically, creating sort of an arpeggiated melody.  Then I’ll stack that with a few different sounds.  By the time I’m done, it all just sounds like one really full, really intense lead and no one realizes how many steps or layers there are buried in there because it just all comes together so smoothly.

You mentioned that you completed the majority of the track in just two days due to the seamless flow with Sarah de Warren’s vocal. What was it about her performance and the track’s concept that made the production process so smooth and efficient?

I was originally sent a folder of a few topline options that Sarah had, and this one immediately jumped out at me.  Not only was it obviously very catchy, but it was obvious that it would fit perfectly into my style of production.  If you listen to enough of my music, you start to pick up on certain sonic characteristics that keep showing up in my tracks.  Clean vocals as opposed to a gritty voice, toplines that follow more pop-oriented melodies, a vocal recording that’s fairly tightly tuned but not over-tuned to sound fake, etc.  Sarah’s hit all of the things I look for in a vocal, and when something checks all those boxes like that, you know you have to jump on it.

‘Deja Vu’ showcases your characteristic Trance sound and style, how do you ensure that you stay true to your signature sound while also pushing the boundaries and incorporating fresh elements into your music?

My signature sound is mostly a result of me returning to a few particular sounds from track to track.  Certain synths, drums, etc.  Songwriting is certainly a big part of it too.  ‘Deja Vu’ was written by Sarah and Cappa, but many of my tracks I write the toplines for myself, which helps create a consistency there, and then when I use toplines written by others, I’m looking for toplines that exhibit some of the same qualities I put into my own songwriting. I’ve also found that my mixing helps create that signature sound as well. The way I mix leads, vocals and drums is different from the next person and the person after that, so when all of these things combine – the sounds I use, the vocals I use, the way I mix them all – the sum of all the parts is a Tensteps record that’s identifiable as me.

How does ‘Deja Vu’ fit within the larger narrative or theme of the album, and what can listeners expect from the album as a whole?

The theme of the album is this idea that pretty much anything is possible.  Every song to some extent is looking towards the light rather than into the dark, and it creates this uplifting feel to the album as a whole.  I haven’t announced the title yet, but it’s a reference to the belief that whatever you want to do, whichever direction you want to travel, it’s possible for you to do so.  As far as what listeners can expect overall, this album in general has been a great opportunity to branch out and experiment a bit.  When you’re just doing singles, sometimes it’s hard to give yourself the creative freedom to go outside the box, because you always want each single to be more successful than the last, and if you experiment too much, it might flop and mess up whatever you were planning to come after that.  Some of that is just mental, but there’s a portion of truth to it also.  But one of the things [Find Your Harmony label boss] Andrew Rayel said to me when we first started talking about the album process, was that the album is a place where I don’t have to worry about how each individual track will be received.  Some of them need to perform well as standalone singles, sure, but some of them can exist to serve a wider creative purpose within the album.  You’ll hear some Melodic Bass influence, some Rock/Metal influence, some House influence, stuff that might not necessarily make sense as a single but brings something new to the table in the broader universe of the album.

The bassline in ‘Deja Vu’ adds a distinctive edge to the track, can you talk about the inspiration behind incorporating this element and how it enhances the overall vibe of the song?

I love basslines like this. I think for me it comes from a combination of some of the heavier, more Dubsteppy stuff I like, as well as that “Trance 2.0” sound that people like Ilan Bluestone and Maor Levi are known for. I love being able to mix that harder, gritty sound in the intro drop with the more melodic, uplifting side of things to create something that hits all the spots I want it to.

As an artist, you have a strong connection with your fans, how do you hope ‘Deja Vu’ resonates with your audience and what emotions or experiences do you aim to evoke through your music?

I think my hope with ‘Deja Vu’ is the same as with any of my other songs – I hope it resonates with you in some way, shape, or form.  I just want you to feel something from it, or have it evoke some memory or emotion from you.  And I tell this to songwriters I work with all the time when they’re writing something new to a track I’ve made. You can ask people like Linney, NOHC, Dean Chalmers, glasscat, Jaime Deraz, anyone who’s written to my tracks, they’ll all tell you that I told them these exact words – “Make me cry.  Happy tears, sad tears, I really don’t care, just make me feel something deep enough to tear up.  If you can do that, I’ll love the song.”  And that’s exactly what I would say to my fans going the other way too, I just want to make them feel something deep enough to get a little water in their eyes.

Looking beyond ‘Deja Vu,’ what are your future plans and aspirations as an artist? Are there any exciting collaborations, projects, or performances in the pipeline that you can share with us?

Other than the album, I’m working on some shows in support of the album, as well as some online stuff that’s in the early stages. The best way to stay up to date on all of it, especially any of the online stuff, is to be in the Tensteps Family Discord server. Some of the online stuff I do surrounding the album will be exclusively available to Discord members (early listening sessions, previews of unreleased tracks, etc.), so I highly recommend joining the Discord if that sounds like something you’d be into! Beyond that, I’ve just started in the past few weeks working on music for after the album, and there are definitely at least one or two major collaborations coming for 2024, so stay tuned for that news as well!

Tensteps has once again showcased his incredible production skills with the release of ‘Deja Vu,’ giving us a sneak peek into the captivating creative process. As he gears up for his upcoming album, Tensteps remains committed to pushing boundaries and forging strong connections with his global fanbase. Be sure to stay tuned for his upcoming collaborations and exciting projects, as this talented artist is only just getting started on his musical journey.

Listen and buy ‘Deja Vu’ now

Tensteps Online

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