It comes as no surprise that there's a wealth of hidden talent flourishing overseas. When a few Victone gems wash up on my Soundcloud feed it was like coming across buried treasure. Particularly Vicetone's remix of Cazzette's “Weapon,” which stayed on repeat for about a week straight and became a part of my daily playlist. Hypnotized by the song and the easy breezy feeling it gave me, I knew these guys were something to keep an ear out for. Since then they have released a couple tracks including “Heartbeat,” which features the vocals of Collin McLoughlin and “Stars,” featuring Johnny Rose. Both evoke melodic, chill vibes that I've come to know and love about Vicetone's sonund track while embracing strong lead vocals.
Despite the distance from here to the Netherlands, I was able to chat with Vicetone and find out exactly who they are and what inspires them to create music. While Ruben and Victor (the masterminds behind Vicetone) couldn't reveal too much of the future to us, they did say they will begin touring within the next few months. In the meantime, they do have a lot of releases coming up, both free downloads and signed for sale, to feed our Vicetone wants and needs.
Without further adieu, I want to introduce you to Ruben and Victor... aka Vicetone.
Dance music has always been a huge passion for both of us, ever since we were little kids.
If your life were measured in BPMs, what would it be and why?
Right now it’s fairly steady. A huge buildup to what will be a nice drop to the start of our first big tour. In the meantime, we’re working in the studio every single day and finishing a lot of new tracks. We’re working with vocalists, other artists and just finished 3 remixes the last month that we’re very happy with. So right now it’s steady, but when we start touring it’ll probably change up a bit…
Any particular track you can't get out of your head?
Yes, it’s the new track that we’ve been working on today, haha! It’s a bit different than our previous tracks, but still has that signature Vicetone sound in it. Can’t wait to finish it up!
How would you describe the signature Vicetone sound to someone who has never heard it before?
Melodic, harmonic, energetic and bigroom!
You guys are from Groningen. What's the music scene like there?
To be really honest, we aren’t very involved in our local music scene. In Groningen, the most popular dance music genre is techno. There are lots of techno parties every weekend, so if you love the genre, you’ve come to the right place here. We aren’t big techno heads though—so we spend most of our days in the studio creating our own music.
If you don't hear too much from your own city, what is your main source for hearing new music? Soundcloud? Blogs? Internet?
The Internet is where we discover pretty much all music. Whether it be via Soundcloud, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or via friends that link us up with new music... there’s no better place to find new music.
How did you know producing music was what you wanted to do? Was there a specific moment for you guys that helped you realize it could be more than a passion?
It was a wish for both of us individually for a long time, but we didn’t really start taking it seriously until April last year (2012). That’s when we bought proper studio gear and invested all of our time to become better at producing and learn our craft. When the initial reactions to our first tracks were so positive, we decided to step it up a notch and focus all of our time on producing. We feel that because we used to listen to this kind of music ever since we were little, we take that knowledge with us in producing a bit. Dance music has always been a huge passion for both of us, ever since we were little kids. In high school, we used to share music all the time and bond over the tracks we liked the most. Even back then we had a very similar taste in music, and our tastes have grown over time, from cheesy euro-dance to trance to the house music that we love and produce today.
That’s the beauty of the digital era that we live in now—you can listen to pretty much every single song ever recorded and get inspired very quickly.
Who would be your biggest musical influence in your life? A family member? A friend? An artist? Explain.
We wouldn’t say it’s one source, it’s more a combination of certain things. We get inspired by a lot of things—an older track that we used to listen to back in the day that has a specific element in it that we really like: a certain sound that we designed on a synth, or a sample. Sometimes we get a new Plugin, mess around with it to the point that a whole new track results from it. It always differs, but we find that there is always something to inspire you, and we don’t feel uninspired often. This might sound strange for other musicians, but we feel that with the sea of sounds and music at your disposal, whether it’s synthesizer presets, sample packs or even loops, there is so much you can experiment with that new ideas come very quickly. That’s the beauty of the digital era that we live in now—you can listen to pretty much every single song ever recorded and get inspired very quickly.
You recently released “Heartbeat” with Collin Mcloughlin and have done several other remixes built around strong vocals. Is this a conscious act? If you could have any vocalist (dead or alive) on a track, who would it be and why?
It would probably be Rihanna. Her voice is so radio, when we hear her voice, we get an instant radio association, like we’re driving a car and her song passes by on the radio. So if we had to pick one, it’d probably be her.
How do you choose what tracks you remix?
Choosing what track to remix depends on a lot of things—the quality of the original, the potential of the melody and the potential of the vocal. The last thing is probably the most important thing, we usually want to do a remix for a track that has vocals on it. The reason is that you still keep one element the original had (the vocal), but you can completely turn the track around and give your own spin to it. This is what we did with our "Bulletproof" remix—the original track is a hard-hitting dubstep track, and using the vocals of the brilliant Eva Simons, we turned it into a signature high energy Vicetone track. We love to do that, so the most important thing in choosing our remixes is the vocals.
Is there a song out there right now you guys would love to hear remixed?
Yes, our tracks "Heartbeat" and "Stars" that we both recently released. We got a small sample of a couple of remixes so far, and we really liked what we heard, a lot of potential in some of these remixes! Definitely be on the lookout for the remix releases.
Pretty much everything can be made more enjoyable with the right music.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve ever learned? How did it make your life easier—or more difficult?
Ruben: Reaching your goals or making your dreams come true is simple, but not easy. It’s simple because other people have done it before, and the path you need to take is often laid out before you by other people. But it is not easy, and it will never be. If there’s anything I’ve realized in the very short time I’ve been involved in the music industry is that a lot of people don’t realize how hard DJs and producers work to get there. It takes many producers years of producing every single day before they are able to do it full time. So it’s simple to get there, but not easy. This has been my outlook since the beginning and I’m not sure if it has helped me—but I work my ass off and don’t take anything for granted.
Victor: To get back on what Ruben said, when we started out we kept on realizing over and over again that it wouldn’t be an overnight success story. We set a few goals in the beginning which we thought we’re very reasonable at the time, but eventually you keep on setting new goals again and again that are different and improve on the last. For example, when we started out producing together we had the plan to make a 5 track EP and we were positive that it would be picked up somewhere by a reputable label. We never finished that EP however, and went on to make a couple of remixes and free releases instead, so one of our first goals turned out way different than we ever expected. Our perceptions of the dance music industry were very different to what we know now as well. So to get back to the question, the biggest lesson we learned I think is that the goals that you set yourself will take a lot longer and will take a lot more time to achieve
What life activities are made better when listening to music?
Pretty much everything can be made more enjoyable with the right music. Cruising in your car at high speeds is fun, but when you have the right music (something like Vicetone—California…), it just makes it so much better. Music has the ability to provoke or intensify emotional reactions to situations otherwise not possible to that degree. Driving with music on is a real treat, as is jogging. There’s no better time to listen to uplifting music while you are jogging. Also, when there’s a big event, like a festival or a huge sports game coming up, playing those stadium anthem songs can get you in the right mood. The last time music really pumped us up was probably when driving to a meeting—when we got there, we were in the perfect mood already!
Tell us about a specific event or period in your life that is linked in your mind to a song/album.
Ruben: For me it was a summer vacation when I was 16. I went to Florida with my family and I remember putting the In Search Of Sunrise 7 album on my iPod. For those who don’t know—ISOS was a series compiled by Tiësto, on which he picked his favorite track that fit a specific theme and style. ISOS 7 was the Asia version, but it was still dance music—only very melodic for the most part. I remember listening to that album every single day while I was there, and everytime I hear that album, I think back of the experiences and memories I had there. That album also introduced me to probably my favorite remix of all-time: Rachael Starr "To Forever" (Moonbeam Remix).
Victor: For me it was a roadtrip (which we did every year) with my family in south of France. It always was a very long drive so luckily I had my iPod with me. I can still remember the moment when we would finally see the sea after passing the mountains around “Millau.” It was a long time ago and I still know I was very into the Future Trance albums at that moment. So that album, I don’t know which one it was because there where quite a few, is really linked to that victorious vacation feeling. If I had to name one it would probably be: DJ Barthezz "On The Move." Classic!
What value do you place on environment as a creative springboard?
We don’t need much—all we need is a computer and a keyboard. We really need a keyboard to work properly though, we feel constrained when we don’t have keys in front of us. But apart from that, things like weather and geography has little impact on our creativity. It does, however, to a certain extent, affect the kind of music we make. This past summer we intended to make tracks that were slightly more upbeat. When the winter came, we experimented with darker, more dramatic tracks. We love both and they always have that Vicetone sound, but with different seasons, weather and climate, your inspirations do change up a bit, which is great.
If you could give any piece of advice to someone starting out, what would that be? Did you have a mentor or someone who greatly influenced helping you?
We didn’t have any mentor, or anybody really who was helping out us with producing. We taught everything ourselves, and worked hard on improving as producers over the last months. The advantage to being a music duo is that we are both continuously learning, and it often happens that one of us discovers a new trick / sound, which in turn improves our music a bit.
If we could give ourselves advices for when we were younger, it would probably to not underestimate how much work it takes to get anywhere in the music industry nowadays. There’s so much competition out there that it’s vital you do everything you can to make it happen. Hard work is more important than just having talent, and we’re lucky we quickly realized that and worked very hard from the start.