Interview with h.x.e.; winner of Elpida/TrancePodium Remix Contest
Photo: Teemu Lankila
Questions: Michelle Christiansen
Congratulations on winning the Elpida Music remix competition! What was your reaction when you first heard the news?
I saw the information from Facebook that the winner is going to be announced soon. Then I started to check every minute from my phone if I won. When I saw my name there I couldn't believe it. I was so happy and emotional on that point that I wanted to jump and (almost) scream :D Then getting a messages from Daniel so I had to run to my home studio which was only one meter away from the living room, where I was telling the news to my wife :D I knew my track is really good and ready for clubs and big stages and I would have been disappointed if that was not going to be released at all, but all went just fine!
What made you decide to enter the competition?
My friend, who is also a producer, told me about the competition that I should enter. I listened By Xavier releases and liked them so I didn't hesitate at all to enter, the price was good :) Getting released by a Black Hole Recordings sub-label! I was a little bit nervous about it because it was going to be my first vocal track, so I wasn't sure if I was even able to finish the track. I thought it would be really good for my music career if I win, so I decided to try hard.
Tell us about your remix of Elysium by By Xavier. What went into the production process and where did you draw your inspiration from?
When I listened to the preview of the track and the stems, I got a vision of what kind of track I like to produce. Wanted it to be a great progressive vocal track, like what Above & Beyond has produced.
I had no experience of editing vocals at all, so at first I started to study a lot what to do with them :D I was checking YouTube, reading tutorials about vocal mixing etc. What comes to the track itself, I had already started doing one track that I did on vocals in my mind. It was almost a complete track but without any vocals and fine tuning. I was struggling to get a singer/songwriter for it, so I decided to use it as a base of my remix. I spent one weekend restructuring and choosing the parts I wanted it to have. From the stems I decided to use vocals as they were and the piano was perfect fit too. I wanted the piano to be also in the front as they were great sounding so I used them a lot in remix. They gave a special etheric feeling for it, especially when the song was about the elysium. Luckily the vocals were so good that my first impression was that I just need to add some delay and reverb for it and everything is ready :) But then I started to hear that the mix doesn't sound good, the vocals didn't sit in the mix.
Anyway after the first version was ready, I sent it to a couple producer friends to analyze how it sounded and what they thought about the track. Feedback was extremely positive and they gave me some ideas to mix the vocals better and how to arrange the vocals better. Meanwhile I bought iZotope Music Production Suite and made tweaks to the vocals, cleaned them etc and then fitted them better to the mix by reserving bandwidth for them. I also added a little bit longer intro part so that I didn't have to cut or shorten the vocals. I wanted to have a powerful buildup with a stabs before the drop started (when entering into the Elysium :).
I was really happy about the result, which I completed with just a few iterations. I didn't submit the remix yet but I had a week or two break between. Then I listened to the track again and didn't have any more ideas to improve it or make it better anymore so I decided to submit it.
What do you think made your remix stand out?
I think that it is well produced and I focused on the best parts from the beginning to the end. It has been carefully made with the complete structure in mind. It tells the whole story and not just having pieces from there and there. It has a nice break with great build up which (I hope) makes people crazy when the drop starts :)
Who have been some of your biggest musical inspirations and what is it about them that has inspired you? How do you hope your music will inspire others?
If I need to choose just one, I would say Hans Zimmer. His music like Time, main theme of Interstellar or Lost But Won, are the tracks I can't get tired of. His music has inspired me a lot and it can be heard in my tracks. I love beautiful and emotional melodies and that is what I try to achieve by myself too. I also like all kinds of electronical music, it just needs to have a great melody, idea and that all parts fit well together. It can be dubstep, drum and bass, house, anything :)
I hope my music inspires others by the melody, feeling and the emotion of my tracks, like I am getting from others music. I hope it brings some good and positive memories from your life and gives you strength during these hard times.
Can you give us a little background about yourself and how you got into creating music?
My real name is Heikki Eerola. I live in Oulu, Finland. Quite near the arctic circle, it's only approx 150 kilometers from my home :) I'm in my forties, have a family with a wonderful wife and two kids and two cats. My second son was born beginning in January 2021, just a day before my second single The Last Wave was released globally :) So now I'm having a little break of producing and spending time with a family.
I started music production again in April 2020 and my first track Transcend Dimensions and to my surprise there was a lot of interest from several record labels and it was released by Beyond The Stars a few months later in September 2020. I had more than 15 years break on music producing, but at that time I never finished/released any tracks. Back in the days I studied music theory and played violin for 10 years, but then I lost my love to electronic music. I started “producing” music in the 1990’s with a tracker and later tried some DAW’s too. At that time I studied music and video production at polytechnic, where I also graduated as Bachelor of Media. But then more than 15 years ago I stopped producing music due that I got recruited to an IT consultancy business. I had no time for producing music anymore, I was travelling a lot and working long days.
COVID-19 changed my life, suddenly no travelling was required and I was able to work from home. One day I decided to put my Genelec Three's to my desk. They were on the floor for almost a year because I had to put my home theater speakers safe from my kid to my home-office room. Then I got an idea that what if I start doing this again. I decided to buy tools again and concentrate on music in my free time. I was happy to notice that I still have the skills, but now I am really efficient and able to finish the tracks :D I have very limited time to produce music, only a few hours per week (maybe 3-4 hours per day during the weekend, fri sat sun), so I have to be efficient. I got a lot of help from my producer friends, how to adjust the mix and how to arrange a track. Big thanks to them, they were really patient when giving feedback constantly!
I have done more uplifting trance tracks, trying to focus on progressive vocal tracks too. But it would help a lot if I found a good singer / songwriter to collaborate so that we could work together.
If given the opportunity, which producer would you most like to collaborate with?
This is really hard to answer, there are so many. But it all depends on the style of the track :) I would say Giuseppe Ottaviani for uplifting trance and Above & Beyond for the progressive. I have listened to a lot of their tracks especially when I started producing.
What does it mean to you that your remix was chosen to be released on Elpida Music (Black Hole Recordings)? Where do see yourself going from here?
When I started again less than a year ago, I wasn't sure about how good my tracks are. I was unsure of anything. Winning the remix contest has given me a lot of confidence and the trust in what I'm doing. Having a release in a Black Hole Recordings sub label means a lot, I couldn't imagine this at all year ago. I see this as a big opportunity and it gives me a passion to keep going.
I would love to do more collaboration with others, for me it is even more efficient to create a track if there is also someone else throwing the ideas and giving a feedback how to make track better.
I have a second track coming in spring by Elpida Music and also have some other finished tracks too waiting for release. So there are definitely more releases coming during this year from me :)
Congratulations again on the win! It’s been a pleasure speaking with you. We can't wait to see what your future holds!
Thank you! It was a pleasure to do a remix of a great track and also to have an interview with you! I hope you will all enjoy my remix and keep eye on my future releases too!