Originally a dub-step producer, Snøwmass has kept a lot of his early darker elements and brought them into new sounds. With a whole lot of new releases on the horizon, we catch up with Snøwmass to see what he’s all about, starting with..
Chicago.. are we an oldschool wrestling fan or is that just us being hyper ((stereo))-typical of Chicago? ECW?
To be honest, I’m not really sure what you mean haha. I’ve never known Chicago to have any kind of big wrestling following. I guess I’ll occasionally watch some WWE SmackDown if I’m flipping through channels and the mood strikes.
Did you grow up in Chicago or somewhere else? What was it like as far as character formation goes? Any standout things about the city that you feel shaped you?
I grew up in the suburbs, Northbrook to be specific. My town helped shape my involvement with music a lot more than Chicago. There was always a strong music program, although I only lasted in my school band until about 5th grade because I couldn’t stand being told what to do by our teacher. I quickly moved on to drum/guitar lessons after that, and continued those throughout high school. There was a great music school conveniently located directly across the street from my high school, and I always had friends to play with.
Is the rest of your family at all musical? Who do you feel is your biggest supporter?
My dad loves music and knows a lot about music history, but I owe most of the credit to my mom. She’s been a piano teacher for as long as I can remember and pushed me to always be playing an instrument. I sadly only took lessons from her for a few years. It’s hard having your mom as a teacher, especially when you’re young and hear your friends playing outside while you’re stuck inside pushing keys. But anyway, both my parents and family members are very supportive. My brother was the first person to really introduce me to Ableton Live, which continues to be the primary software that I use to produce music.
You had an early brush with death, can you talk about what happened?
I was struck by a car going about 40mph just over a year ago. I probably should be dead, but luckily I jumped and threw myself against the windshield to bounce over it. I think just about every nurse in the hospital that night stopped by my bed just to see for themselves that I was alright and tell me it was a miracle.
What was the recovery like? Any coping advice for people going through something similar?
The recovery was relatively easy. It was hard to move around for a few days after, but everything became exponentially easier as the swelling receded. My uncle is also an awesome chiropractor who helped me along the way. From there, I spent a few months in physical therapy getting my shoulder and hip back to normal. Terrible things happen to people every single day for what seems like no reason. I was lucky enough to not have any chronic injuries, so I easily moved forward and changed my life for the better. It shouldn’t have taken a near death experience for me to focus more of my time on my own music, but that’s what happened. I convinced myself that being in a studio was close enough to pursuing music, but that was a fallacy. You hear this all the time, but find what you love and go after it.
What was it about that experience that really made you focus on music, and what do you feel your main focuses were before the accident?
Before the accident, I was in school for audio engineering, interning at a music studio/post production house, and working on the side. I was creating my own productions, but had so many distractions that making anything worthwhile was challenging. The accident put life in a new perspective, but as I said earlier, it shouldn’t have taken me that long to change my life. After the accident, I dropped everything (school was about to end anyway) and made production my “full time job.” I put that in quotes because I obviously wasn’t making any money from it, but that full time mindset was necessary to see any eventual success in music in the future. I do believe in supporting yourself and even think it can help with music workflow. Anyone producing music 24/7 is going to go crazy. Having a job while doing production will force you to schedule your time productively if you really want to succeed. It will also bring down stress levels so you don’t have to ask your parents for money or have them asking you when you’re going to get a job. I knew I couldn’t succeed in music working a 9-5 job, so I became a real estate property manager. Finding work on the side that pays the bills can be tough, but it’s well worth putting in the time to make it happen.
Although you make house & future trap, your songs even when crossing genres, work well together. It’s a good example of those genre lines blurring and an artist making certain sounds their own..
I appreciate the compliment. On one hand, the last thing I want to do is create the same type of music over and over again. But on the other, I think it’s necessary for an artist to find his/her sound. I see a lot of force, especially in electronic production these days. Newer producers recognize what’s “in” and immediately try creating that, but the producers who end up on top are the ones who create what they feel. I admit I’ve spent a good amount of time making music that I know applies to the masses on popular sites such as Hype Machine, but I’ve been learning along the way. Now, I’m getting a little more selfish and I’m confident that I can produce quality music that people will listen to, even if it’s not right up their alley.
What is it about these two genres that attracted you most?
I really like what I’ve released thus far, but I also know I’m still just getting started and everything production-wise is rapidly changing. In college, a lot of people thought of me as a dubstep guy. I know most of them had no idea what they were saying, but they were essentially indicating that if I got ahold of the aux cord, some heavy electronic music was about to come out. I grew up loving alternative rock, anything from Blink-182 to Rage Against The Machine, and that clearly transferred over to my electronic productions. I aim to find and create unique sounds that a lot of people probably wouldn’t call music, but who is to say what is or isn’t music? Some of my closest friends from home hate dubstep and refuse to refer to it as a real genre, but try explaining that to 20,000 fans at an Excision show. Without rambling too much, bpm and genre are not important to me. I like taking unique sounds, adding a good amount of bass, and trying to hit people as hard as I can with the result to hopefully evoke some kind of emotion.
You were originally working on dub-step what made you move away from it?
I know this isn’t portrayed in my most recent releases, but I haven’t moved away from it. In fact, dubstep is a part of almost all of my future productions. My next release is all summer time vibes, but after that, things start going back to the dark side. My buddy, MNYKR, and I are working on some big time bass for the summer festival season.
Is there any other genre that’s on your radar in the near future?
I wish I could attach some unreleased projects for examples, but sadly those have to stay private for the time being. As I said before, though, everything will be changing over the next few months.
Many of your vocals feature a rather unique almost echo chamber effect we really like, is this a signature trend you intended on, or did we just pick up on something?!
You’re probably referring to a chamber reverb, and although that’s not specifically what I use on vocals, you’re on the right path. I’m naturally drawn to vocals that are on the sadder side of the spectrum, so a lot of minor keys. Although this isn’t true for my next release, I try to stay away from elements that would be considered pop-driven or mainstream.
Is there a story behind how you come up with the name Snøwmass?
My last name is Snow, so that made things pretty easy. I added on the mass for a few reasons, but the main one is because Massive was my favorite VST at the time, so let’s go with that.
Who would you say is your favorite artist that is MOST different to the music you make?
I currently don’t, but I strive to sound more like Bassnectar everyday. He epitomizes what it means to produce awe-inspiring music, especially in regards to the uniqueness of his elements.
When do you feel you are most in the ‘flow’ with making music?
My friends and family know me as a night owl, but I prefer to it refer to it as being on the same schedule as my cats. I’ll typically start producing anywhere from 6-9pm and go all night until my ears feel like they’re going to fall off. By the way, that doesn’t mean that I bump my music at super high levels. I’m a big proponent of everyone preserving their ears by getting annual hearing tests and wearing earplugs. Instead, I mean that your ears get tired just like any other part of the body after being used for an extended amount of time. One of the biggest mistakes that producers and audio engineers make is not resting their ears enough. I try to always take at least a week off of listening to a song after I think it’s finished. 100% of the time, there’s some small details that need to be altered when I finally critique the mix again.
What is your musical setup consist of?
Like most guys, almost everything I have is software. Analog gear is awesome and often times sounds better than its software counterpart, but no one wants to spend $3000 on a quality compressor these days unless they’re an established music studio or just have money to blow. What’s most important besides having the right software is investing in multiple sets of monitors (speakers) for critiquing your mix. I always listen to my mixes on 10+ audio systems, from my Yamaha HS8s to my Bluetooth speaker I keep next to my shower. I do love staying in touch with live music as well, so I also keep my guitars, drums, and piano in my studio. Having at least a 49 key midi controller is also a must. Even if you don’t play the piano, it will always increase the efficiency of workflow.
Do you have a favorite synth, plug-in or tool that you feel everyone should own?
As I mentioned before, Massive has been a long time favorite. Besides that, Spire is like Sylenth on steroids if your computer can handle the cpu. Serum is every producer’s new favorite for a reason. It can really bring the grime with that wavetable synthesis.
We like the girls in the promo pics! But what’s with the masks? It does add a bit of misery to your character!
I don’t know if I can give you an in depth analysis. I guess I like thinking of the music industry as a jungle and most of the time I’m in my own little world, inattentive to what’s going on around me. I mostly thought it’d be funny.
What’s the best piece of advice in regards to music production that you have received or come upon?
You find little tips and tricks everywhere these days and I love giving out my own, but the best advice overall is usually found in regards to the big picture. I know I’ve heard this from multiple sources, but finish what you start. I hear good ideas from other producers all the time, but then he/she’s immediately off to the next one. It’s a battle finishing a track. I usually take a month just to mix my tracks and listen to them 1000 times in as many places as possible. You can easily spend just as much time on the last 5% of a song as you did on the first 95%, but that last 5% can make or break everything. Being a good music producer these days is much more than composing. Taking the time to learn how to be an audio engineer and finish songs is its own art and should be treated as such.
When we’re feeling like a hit of Snøwmass, what’s the best place to find your music?
Almost everything I post goes on my Soundcloud, although we’ve had some issues with unofficial remixes being taken down. You can also find me on Spotify, iTunes, Beatport, etc.
Can you tell us more about the Lithium Limited project?
Lithium Management Limited is the name of my management. It’s run by two of my best friends who works their asses off to get my and their other artists’ music heard around the world. They’re very good at what they do.
You’ve made it on the top 25 Hypem charts several times and are gaining excellent traction on Spotify and Soundcloud, what is your current goal? What do you want to see yourself achieve next?
I see that as base camp for climbing Mt. Everest. There are 1000s of guys out there all in the same position as me. It’s going to require climbing to the top step-by-step, overcoming obstacles and learning along the way. But the most important thing is knowing that I could never do it myself. We’ll get there as a team if we do it right.
It’s been a pleasure talking with you Snøwmass, looking forward to the next wave of releases from you!