While some artists have become international sensations overnight, most have spent years in the studio and on the road, honing their skills and building their repertoire, before making a splash on the global scene. We discuss that process and the tools of the trade in our A Cappella series.
Being a producer from Berlin can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you’re surrounded by an elite league of tastemakers, which exposes you to a vast source of inspiration to vibe from. But it also means you have to break more of a sweat in order to swim past the crowd. But when you have the allure of Emanuel Satie, it’s hard to slip through the cracks.
With an ace catalog that has been satiating the ears of trustworthy big shots across the board, his is a name you should expect to see pop up on the regular. The success of his highly receptive Your Body EP on DFTD is irrefutable proof he isn’t just spinning his wheels in the studio. Before Satie blows up even further, we’re taking the time to put his musical mind under a microscope.
What value do you place on environment as a creative springboard? Some people have very specific requirements, from weather, time and geography to office or studio setup.
I try to place the least value as possible on outside factors. I try to focus on what I can do with what I have at any moment, and make the best out of it. I make music in a cab, on the plane, in my bed and, of course, in my studio. Obviously these factors have an effect, though. I tend to make my best stuff when I get into these really good long sessions, when I am in the studio for 24 hours straight, and have no other important stuff to do. Time and focus is crucial. Also, I tend to make my best tracks in winter and summer—I have no clue why, haha. But still, no excuses, that one little idea can pop up literally anytime and anywhere, so it’s worth not limiting your creativity to a specific environment.
How do you overcome a creative block? When was the last time this happened to you, and what were you working on?
This happens to me literally every day. It’s normal. If you don’t have blocks, you’re not pushing your creative boundaries. The most important thing is to stay completely calm and trust that you will overcome the creative block soon and accept it as part of the process. It’s not a big deal—just don’t take huge breaks, take baby steps instead. Creative blocks often come from being overwhelmed by what’s in front of you. So just listen to the track and make notes on what you can do to push the track forward a little bit, and then work on that list. It will help get your brain back into action mode again. Just try some stuff. Don’t overthink it; don’t hesitate.
What’s the longest studio session you’ve put yourself through in one sitting? What were you working on?
As I mentioned, I love really long studio sessions. When I have time, I like to go to the studio in the late morning, listen to some music and then start working until I get too tired in the night. Then I will sleep a couple hours on the studio sofa and get back to it in the early morning, until the afternoon. Sometimes I manage to do this with little to no sleep, especially when I start something new and am really excited about it and know I can finish it in one go. Then the killer instinct comes out. This happened to me two weeks ago on a new track. I would say I worked on it for pretty much 20 hours straight—I guess that was my longest studio session so far.
In terms of production, what is square one to you? Where should a newcomer aim to start building their foundation?
Trust in your mind, and not only in your equipment. Focus on ideas first, and only secondly on technique. Equipment and technique are the craft. You have to learn it, but what really makes you stand out are your ideas. Especially as a beginner, you will not have the best mixdowns and fattest sounds, but you still can have great ideas. So definitely focus on that and learn the craft on the side. There are too many producers out there who have great production skills, but boring and bland ideas.
Outside of music, where else do you look for inspiration—films, art, books, literature, etc.? When was the last time one of these things inspired you to create a piece of music, and what was the track you made?
Life! Situations and people that come into my life, and trigger certain feelings. I love to not only make tools for the dancefloor, but sometimes to just make music for myself, to express my emotions. For example my track „All Things Go“ was after breaking up with a girlfriend. The track captures exactly what I felt at that time. My track „Farewell“ I made after my grandmother passed away. Almost every track is inspired by a feeling or a subject at that particular time – positive or negative.