From drumming in Black Tide to making solo electronic bangers, we speak to the versatile Steven Spence.
If you’re not familiar with Steven Spence‘s history, then you’ll probably just listen to his recent track Believe and peg him simply as a fantastic producer. But those aware of his past, as drummer in metal band Black Tide, might find his new musical path a little strange.
We spoke to Spence himself to find out more about what has prompted this transition, and where he is headed.
Your sound as a solo artist is quite a departure from the one you created with Black Tide. What prompted the transition?
“My new music is definitely a departure from my old band. In a rock band I was pretty limited as to what I was ‘allowed’ to create and release. I still write all types of music, including some pretty heavy rock-influenced stuff, but I’m really just excited that I’ve got the freedom to just be me.
“I like writing catchy, memorable songs. From poppy sing-alongs to half time hip hop-influenced beats to aggressive festival bangers, I plan on just putting it all out there. Good DJs have sets that can evolve and they have the ability to read and cater to an audience’s needs. I’d like to be able to fulfill most of those needs with my original tunes.”
Was it an easy transition to make?
“I didn’t like having to rely on other band members so the decision to go solo came naturally. I remember my first show being such a big deal for me. Coming from a band, I was always used to the comfort of other musicians on stage with me. But as a DJ, now it’s just me and the crowd. I love the fact that as a solo artist, if I make a mistake it’s my fault and only my fault.”
“Going off on my own was like starting back at ground zero but the sun is starting to shine!”
Was the electronic sound something which you always wanted to do, or is this a new passion?
“I’ve always loved experimenting with electronic music. I remember when I was a teenager the reason I got my first mac was so I could write music in Garageband! But it wasn’t until later that I started taking production more seriously.”
What’s the songwriting process like for you?
“Each song has a different story. Most often I get inspired by a melody in my head or an actual occurrence when I’m out and about, and I’ll record it as a voice memo in my phone. Sometimes it’s full on lyrics for an entire chorus, and sometimes it’s simply a gibberish-filled vocal melody that I can revisit later and fill in the blanks with actual words.”
“Thanks! Honestly it’s taken me quite a while to get my mixing and mastering to the level I’m at right now. I’ve still got a lot of growing to do but that’s all part of the fun. There have been plenty of difficulties along the way but it’s all just part of this musical rollercoaster I’m on.
“I definitely regret not asking more questions back in my band days when I was working with some of the world’s top producers and engineers (Johnny K, Dave Schiffman, Josh Wilbur). Going off on my own was like starting back at ground zero but the sun is starting to shine! I’m excited!”
Believe expertly blends a blissful electropop sound with trap-esque clicks and muscular synth blasts. Was it challenging at all to develop the song into the final version, and what inspired the track?
“Funnily enough, that track was probably one of the quickest things I’ve ever done. I was really focused and was able to knock out the first version of it within a couple hours. Months later I revisited the session and spruced it up a bit. It was actually inspired during a creative session with super-producer Jim Jonsin back when I was living in Florida.”
What would you say makes you stand out as an artist?
“I think my ability to adapt definitely helps me stand out. People have been very receptive to my live show. If a venue is equipped for it, I’ll bring out my full drum kit and go HAM on it during certain parts of my set. It’s a nice little live throwback taste from my rock days.
“Also, I aspire to be a solid songwriter more than just a producer that spits out tracks on tracks on tracks. I hope that will help me stand out. I write about who I am, what I’m thinking, and how I’m feeling. I think people will be able to relate to my songs if they get a chance to hear them.”
What differences are you finding between being solo and being in a band?
“Now that I’m on my own I have a newfound appreciation for everything that goes into the entire music process. Everything from tweaking the hi-hats in my records to making sure there’s ice, snacks, and catering at my music video shoots! It can be a bit overwhelming at times but, on the other hand, I love being able to have 100% creative freedom as a solo artist; something one typically doesn’t have in a band.”
What’s next for you?
“I recently relocated from south Florida to Los Angeles and the new environment has pushed me into creative overdrive as far as the music side of things goes. But I’m really looking forward to performing as a DJ again soon. Also, I just shot a video for my new unreleased song called All of Your Love and I’ll be releasing it soon!”