Darin Epsilon is a name that’s synonymous with Progressive House and quality underground music for over a decade and a half. Having released music on some of the biggest labels in the world like, Sudbeat Music, Global Underground, Renaissance, Hope Recordings, microCastle, Selador, and Perfecto Records and having founded one of the top progressive labels, Perspectives Digital, Darin’s has made waves across the world with his sophisticated production and a keen ear for up and coming talent.
We caught up with Darin who took us through his current endeavours, background, early influences, his work process and his favourite tools of choice when he was touring India with the good folks at Deep Dictionary.
Tell us a little bit about what’s keeping you preoccupied at the moment?
I’m currently working on a video tutorial for Sonic Academy. I definitely have a lot more respect for teachers now, understating what goes into it. The video is supposed to be a ten part series on deconstructing one of my tracks and I think it’s to be titled- How to make progressive house. I’m using screenflow to capture what I’m doing within the software and I can definitely tell you that I’m finding the whole thing to be quite the daunting task.
I think Chymera did one as well for Sonic Academy?
Oh yeah! I’ve seen that one actually, he’s really good and I think he’s an absolute natural at teaching, I think it’ll take a bit more effort from my side.
What was your first exposure to production?
I actually took a course in school when I was about fourteen that taught me the basics of MIDI on a really old software. I think this was cakewalk, back in ninety-nine. I was to write a whole track and this helped show me the ins and outs of how MIDI works.
And your first release?
Oh my first release came much after, I was in my final year of college.
Your favorite DAW?
I’ve used pretty much all of them over the years. I started with Cubase, then used Reason, then combined the two for a while, I tried Logic for a bit and finally moved to Ableton which is most definitely my favourite of them all.I used FL for a while as well in the middle.
Did you ever work a day job before you started out making music full time?
Sure did, I worked with a marketing firm and at a bank for a bit.
Do you think there was a particular moment where you decided to dive into music head first?
I’m originally from Chicago and I was contemplating either moving to Los Angeles or New York since they’re the hub of the music scene in America. The moment I moved to LA was definitely a huge change over for me. Personally it was a huge risk but I think it paid off, I’ve decided to move to Germany a few months ago though. Germany has the most renowned underground music scene in the world and I look forward to playing at this club called Sisyphos in Berlin.
Could you briefly describe your music making process?
I think it’s a good idea to be consistent with the process, so I’ll start working on a project and dig into it until I’m done, I’ll then take a break to get a fresh perspective when I come back to it in about two or three weeks. I think apart from making music itself there’s a lot more that goes into work as a producer everyday. Like sitting down to handle your booking schedule and reverting to emails etc.
Do you find yourself working on the road whilst you’re touring?
Yeah I’ve worked on quite a few projects or at least sketches of the initial ideas but I don’t prefer it, especially on planes since there are far too many distractions.
I’ve read that you prefer to work in the box, is there any particular reason for the same?
When I was starting out there were extremely limited applications of what you could do with hardware. It wasn’t as well integrated with DAW’s as it is now. For example, you’d have to record everything down to audio immediately and there was almost without exception issues with latency, which was quite a pain in itself. Also hardware is really expensive, I could spend five thousand dollars on hardware or two hundred on a software and get five thousand new sounds. I think it’s the convenience of it that I enjoy more than anything really.
Any particular plugins that you’d recommend?
I think Omnisphere is the best soft synth ever made, I find myself using it quite a lot. Rob Papen instruments are great as well, they sound extremely well rounded and warm, the Native Instruments plugins are great but I don’t find myself using them as much anymore since they have a rather harsh or grainy sound to them which is not always the best thing for the Progressive sound. I think most of the time I find myself using a combination of the Rob Papen instruments, Omnisphere and samples. I quite like Abletons inbuilt EQ’s and Compressors, especially since the last few updates, I think they really have improved it quite a lot.
Tell us a little bit about your journey and what went into shaping your sound?
I actually started out as a Trance DJ, but I found that it didn’t quite work in House parties due to the long breakdowns. I think music like that is garnered for a big festival atmosphere, so I shifted to House music. I came across some of the stuff that Global Underground was doing, I heard Sasha’s set in Ibiza for the Global Underground series, I didn’t quite enjoy it the first couple of times but I kept listening to it in my car and I found that I really enjoyed the kind of subtle and sophisticated movement it had. My own music started to get slower, groovier and as soon as I got hooked to progressive, I found that I just couldn’t follow anything else.
Did you grow up playing an instrument?
I grew up learning to play the piano. When I was in college there was a point where I was taking all these business courses and I felt like this really wasn’t the way I wanted to go, so I started to take a few music courses, and some that dwelled further into music theory. This really helped me a lot. On the engineering side though I’m a hundred percent self-taught, which is quite a bit of work as it’s not something that comes to you overnight.
Was there a particular reason you decided to start your own label?
I wanted to have more freedom over my catalogue. I was in a position where I was releasing quite a bit of music on other peoples labels and having to accommodate my sounds to fit the same. Unfortunately not all labels have your best interest in mind, so release dates get pushed back and it’s not within your control. I thought I could do a better job myself and release whatever I wanted without any compromise. We’re in our sixth year now and I’m very happy to know that it’s regarded as one of the top labels in the genre. I like to pick up artists from all over the world, nurture them and give them the promotion they truly deserve.
Is there anything specific you’re looking for when you sign new artists to the label?
As long as the music’s well produced and it fits our sound. I don’t really care if the artist is well known or not. Our new EP that’s coming out has four fresh artists and I’d rather sign good music from unknown artists than sign mediocre music from well known artists and I think that’s the way forward in building the scene. As a label our ideology is to support fresh artists and sounds and nurture them. Rather than release music from the same artists time and again. Nothing really moves forward if that’s the perspective of a label.
Are there any Indian artists or labels that you follow?
India is full of talent, Praveen Achary has released on my label and I quite like his own label Juicebox Music as well. There’s Zephyr Music started by Phalguna Somraj that I quite dig as well and I think Vipul(SHFT) is a fantastic producer.
Any advice for up and coming producers when they’re sending their music out to labels?
Firstly, don’t copy twenty other labels when you’re sending out a demo. Introduce yourself and tell the label what you’re about and why you’d like to work with them. I think it’s best to send out one or two tracks at a time. If you can get to know the guys running the label, there’s nothing like it, since that adds a personal touch to the whole process.
Follow Darin Epsilon