Backstage with Sam Feldt in NYC – Exclusive Interview
INTERVIEW BY STEPHANIE PIEDRAHITA
Sam Feldt is one of the most focused, consistently impressive and passionate artists in the dance industry. He’s an artist that takes pride in his work and has a deep respect for culture that supports it back home and across the globe. As a producer, he displays a willingness to push the boundaries by introducing his elegant, light melodic sound into the mainstream. As a DJ, he pulls in a crowd of people who go insane over his performances with the Sam Feldt Live Band. Truly, he can out shine all the lights in the room…his future is just as bright.
We got to sit down with the Dutch deep house DJ/Producer back in July before his gig at Marquee in New York City. Here is what he had to say concerning the direction of dance music and his growth creatively over the past five years. Enjoy!
You premiered your new song ‘Fade Away’ with Lush & Simon and singer INNA on your radio show Heartfeldt Radio recently, how did it come about to make this track together? How do collaborations usually come about?
For this collaboration specifically, it as Lush & Simon who initially sent me the basic idea of an instrumental, which is the guitar part of the song actually, then I just got cracking with it and made the drop. I thought “Cool, we need a good vocal now” and wrote it together with Leon, a good friend of mine from the Netherlands. Then we thought “Now we need a good vocalist” and it had always been a dream of mine to work with INNA, she has a lot of of hits and a great summer style that I thought would match perfectly with my style of music. So yeah, I reached out to her and she was really happy to sing it for us but a collaboration could come about in a lot of different ways. Hook & Sling worked with me on my latest single, it was a lot different because the vocals were already there. Also because there’s a bigger distance between me and Hook & Sling in logistical terms. He lives in L.A., I live in Amsterdam so we work digitally together so yeah, they could come about a lot of different ways.
Do you usually lay out the track first and then try to find people that fit that sound or have you reversed engineered the process?
It really depends, right now I’m working with vocals because then you know you have a really strong acapella to start off with. I’ve done it the other way around, like making the instrumental first like in Fade Away for example, but then you could have 30 people writing on it and only one comes out good. It’s a lot of waste of time for some different parties involved but if you start of with a really strong vocal, then usually the process of creating the track is a lot shorter. So it would be definitely be faster to complete a track that way. Yeah, if you start off with a strong vocal it’s easier to build a great track around that but you could also create a really good track and then find a vocal that is just as good or even better than that. Sometimes it could be a hit or a miss, sometimes you have 30 misses but then you get the one hit.
Speaking of vocals, you actually include a lot of live elements in your performance. You bring out singers sometimes but more recently, you’ve brought in saxophone players. Should DJs and artists start incorporating live music more into their performances than focusing stage production?
Well, I think both are important. I started the Sam Feldt Live Band a year ago, so right now we have a trumpet, a saxophone players, me playing live and we’ll be adding a guitar by the end of the year for the album tour. Ultimately, both are important…My background is also in graphic design so I will not argue that visuals aren’t important. Stage design, special effects…but everyone can do that though. Anybody could put up a big amount of money and hire a graphic designer to make cool visuals or pay a lot in production and get flames the entire set. It’s a matter of money. The bigger the artist, the bigger the production is going to be. I think for smaller artists, up and coming ones, placing live elements or playing live yourself can really make a huge difference in terms of energy in your set, in terms on uniqueness and taking it to the next level. I also think in general at festivals, people are getting tired of seeing a DJ walk on and off the stage, it’s happening over and over again and I think once you bring live elements it becomes more of an act than just the DJ. Fans are looking for an experience and want to be like “Wow, this is from start to end an experience” and not just some guy playing some records.
You’re doing your tour right now but do you have any projects coming out soon?
So I released my track with INNA. I released a track with Akon who is a really big American Hip Hop/ R&B artist, which is something new for me so it’s going to be interesting to work with these kinds of vocals and still keep it “Sam Feldt”. I think we managed to do that and I think it’ll be a big hit. These two songs are going to be on my new album which is dropping in October with a lot of exclusive new Sam Feldt music so that’s musically what’s coming up over the summer. The U.S.A tour, did Europe in June, doing Ibiza like ten times and I just finished performing two weekend at Tomorrowland. So, I’ve been touring going on but on the sidelines theres an album that’s coming.
I think it’s safe to say dance music has increasingly gotten popular in the past five years even though dance music has a very long history before that, how do you feel this rise in popularity has affected this industry and you personally?
I think what’s cool right now is to see that the U.S. is developing their own dance music culture. Before, four or five years ago, there was a lot of importing of European artists and listening to that kind of music. Now you see genres like Bass House, artists like Marshmello, Jauz and all these other great American artists rising up and doing well internationally. It wasn’t like that before, there were only like a handful of artists that went from the U.S. to Europe five years ago and now it’s so many. So, I think it’s also really cool you guys are developing your own scene, artist and music and as a DJ from Europe, to play in the U.S. is always such an honor and also a great pleasure because the crowds are all insane. If you compare the crowds in America with the crowds in Europe…well, you can’t really compare it. It’s like, I play a track here and until the very last track people go crazy, dancing and jumping. In Europe, it’s a lot harder to get people moving, but then they’ll drink a couple of beers and start grooving. It’s also because we’re used to dance music over time, so I think we’ve gotten a bit more snobby about it. It’ll be like “Oh it’s just Afrojack playing, I’ve seen him ten times already” you know? I hope that’s not what’s gonna happen here in the U.S. Oh I hope not! Yeah, I also see it as an opportunity for artists to keep themselves interesting and reinventing their sound.
Let’s say one day you woke up and wanted to change your sound entirely, would you back back to dubstep and electro like when you first started your first project or would you consider something outside of this genre?
Well, I’d rather stay where I’m at right now cause I’m loving the music I’m playing right now and love performing with the band. So first and foremost, I’m really happy with what I’m doing. Another genre I have a really big interest in is techno. For example, the last show I did in San Fransisco, I did a Sam Feldt live show and then I did an after hours party where I played techno. Still, I overdue that sometimes but I think it’s cool to experiment with other types of music.
The full interview is published within the newest edition of Raver Magazine, go check it out!