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Dowden [Interview]

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Praised for diversity in his DJing and musical writing, Dowden presents a deep, yet charging energy, full of melodic atmosphere. Ranging from high octane gritty progressive nuance, to enchanting deep house hymns, all with a subtle tone of darkness and mystery. Dowden consistently gains international support from the leaders of the industry, including Paul Oakenfold, Darin Epsilon, John ’00’ Fleming, Marcelo Vasami, Quivver, Cid Inc, Jeremy Olander and more. In a year that has already seen standout projects via Balkan Connection, Deep Down Music, Steyoyoke and more, Dowden now makes his debut on Deepwibe Underground with ‘Canna’. We had a chance to catch up with the Canadian artist for an interview leading up to the release. Enjoy!

Hello Brenden, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

I’m doing well, thanks! Last piece of music is a new original I’m working on, as I’ve been in the studio for the past couple hours!

How’s your year so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

This year has been great, so far. I’ve been able to travel, and I’ll be getting married in Ibiza in a few weeks! So, I’m very excited for that.

Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

Jeremy Olander – Animal Garden
Jeremy Olander – Castoman
Matt Fax – The Fog (Cid Inc. Remix)
I’ll leave the last two to Guy J, because he has so many ID’s and releases I take influence from.

Jeremy was a huge influence for me as a learning, growing artist. His earlier styles were (and still are) a huge influence for my style. I would say he was my biggest influence for sure! The Cid Inc. Remix of The Fog was the first Cid Inc. track I had heard by him, and he is one of my favorite artists, and I have learned so much from his music. Guy J has opened my mind to so many possibilities in music, so he is continuing to shape my influence to this day.

Talk to us about growing up and living in Canada, how did it affect your musical taste and the music you make? And have you always lived in Toronto?

Canada is beautiful! I only was exposed to dance music when I was much older. I love it here, but the music scene is not enough for me. A lot of the focus is on other genres, and my style of Progressive is not very popular. I absolutely love traveling and Europe, so making the move to Berlin was an easy choice!

I noticed on your Soundcloud that Berlin also acts as a home, tell us about that, are you splitting time between there and Toronto?

Yes! After my wedding in June, I will be traveling for a few weeks before moving back to Berlin semi permanently. My fiancé and I were there for some time before Covid, and we had planned to return long term, but of course, covid had other plans. We love Canada and our friends and family in here, so we will always be back and forth.

What are some of your best memories from first going to clubs in Canada? Were there specific nights or sets that really made you feel you wanted to pursue electronic music?

The Guvernment nightclub still holds some of my best memories of all time. It’s actually where I met my fiancé! The nights in that venue were spent influencing me and convincing me to pursue my dreams of being a producer/DJ. I think the most influential nights would have been one of the Eric Prydz or Armin Van Buuren sets. I will never get to experience anything like those again!

What have been some of your favourite venues to play in Canada and why?

I unfortunately never played inside the main room of The Guvernment, but I was blessed enough to play inside the complex in another room. It was always a dream to play the main room, but unfortunately it has since closed it’s doors. Aside from that, CODA is definitely the best venue we have in Toronto, at the moment. Every time I’ve played there it has been a really great night. I would love to some day play Stereo in Montreal, as well!

Talk to us about your Online Production Academy which I think you’ve recently launched. What do you offer there and who can benefit from it?

I offer music production courses and online coaching for producers, both new and experienced. It took me a long time to learn music production because everything was self-taught, so I decided I would offer a chance to really focus on the production journey and help producers learn how to produce so they are not wasting time repeating the same mistakes I did.

You have a new track out this week via Deepwibe Underground as part of their Chapter III collection compiled by Ric Niels, tell us a bit about the track, how it showcases your sound and walk us through the production process if you like as well.

I wrote that track quite a while ago! I was waiting for the perfect place to release it and I am a huge fan of Ric’s music and the label, so it was a perfect chance to release it with this compilation. I think it’s a very good reflection of the more club-oriented music that I make. A lot of my newer stuff will be similar to that, I’m sure 😊

Honestly, it’s a lot to say! Every track is different, but almost always I start with kick and drums and try to make a really groovy and swingy drum loop, then start to fill it with the bass elements, then hooks and melodies, then I just arrange the track and add the ear candy 😉

How did this release come to fruition, was it a case of Ric looking for new music for the release and he contacted you?

Ric and I were chatting and he mentioned that he is hosting a compilation and asked me for a track so I just sent it his way! Worked out for both of us!

Deepwibe Underground is a label you’ve not released with previously, what makes the label a good home for your music?

To be honest it’s a compliment to be released on the label! All the music on the label I consider top notch so to be included on the label is exciting for me. I will definitely be sending more demos to the label. The tracks released are very similar to my style.

What does your set-up like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of this track?

My setup is really simple. Due to traveling a lot, I have not invested in a lot of gear. I would love to get some analog gear, but it doesn’t make sense when I can’t bring it with me on the road. For that reason, I do prefer digital. I use Serum and Pigments for a lot of my sounds, and a lot of resampling as well. Lots of delays and reverbs for atmospheres, of course!

Generally speaking, do you find it more difficult to come up with original tracks than remixing a track from another artist?

I would say it’s easier for me to write a remix than an original most of the time. But I also find that when a remix is just not working for me, it becomes REALLY hard to navigate. Sometimes the original content doesn’t flow well for your writing style, and it becomes very tricky to work with. That’s the caveat, I think.

What’s the task you enjoy the most when producing and what is something you’d rather have taken care of by somebody else?

I enjoy writing more than mixing and mastering, because that is where most of the creativity lies.  I would only rather someone else master my music so I can have an unbiased master and know that they hear it differently than I do while mastering.

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

I almost always send my track for feedback, I probably should do it more, to be honest! It’s always super important to have honest feedback from a fellow artist, and an unbiased listener. I send my stuff to Tim Penner quite often; he is a big influence of mine and also a friend. He has no problem being honest (which is what I need with feedback), and also has such a great ear that I can trust his judgement. If you don’t know Tim Penner yet, go check him out!

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

  • I think I would open or close, I love opening slots because I love building the vibe up
  • Jeremy Olander next
  • Eric Prydz (but like a 2012 set) headlining
  • John Digweed taking us into the late hours
  • Guy J closing

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

I would want a very heavily treated room. Soundproofing, flat response, tons of gear, and it would have an entire light show for my own entertainment.

The subject of mental health is complex and nuanced, and it is an issue to which those working in electronic music are especially susceptible. It can be deeply rewarding but it is also competitive, fast-paced, unpredictable and hedonistic.  Talk a bit about the pressures of what you do that fans may not be totally aware of. And what do you do to keep yourself in balance?

I’m very open about my own mental health. I have fairly bad anxiety. This plays a huge factor in my musical decision making and it hits hard before a DJ set. I have my fiancé to thank for a lot of the help. She grounds me and helps me remember that it a lot of how I’m feeling is not the reality, and I find a lot of comfort in that. I’ve been learning to cope with anxiety by learning more, doing some therapy, and practicing mindfulness. It’s been a huge help.

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

I watched a series of educational videos recently regarding OCD and generalized anxiety, and that has helped me tremendously with my anxiety. I’ve learned how to start to heal from my anxiety. I highly recommend it to anyone with generalized anxiety, her name is Katie d’Ath.

If you could travel anywhere for one day, all laws and limitations void, where would it be?

I’m afraid of heights, but I think being on top of the Pyramids in Egypt would be amazing. Or somewhere very top secret like the oval office’s secret bunkers, haha.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

I think changing my name was at the time, a big risk for me. I was leaving my old producer’s name behind and essentially starting over. It was a big risk in the sense that I would have to put a lot of work back into my reputation, but I am SO glad that I did. It was a clean slate, and I could really prove myself as a producer.

What is your current favourite place to eat and what do you generally order there?

I actually love Harveys! But I try not to eat fast food so much, but I usually would get a burger from there. Hamburgers are actually my favorite food!

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

My chosen family: My fiancé, the family members that I remain in contact with, and my friends that I surround myself with.

What does the remainder of 2022 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I have been writing so much music that I can’t wait to share! Lot’s of collaborations. I did a couple tracks with Forty Cats, a couple with Ric Niels, one or two with Matter, Dimuth K, and Essco! So a lot of music coming out 😊

Thanks so much for having me!

‘Canna’ is available for pre-order now via Deepwibe Underground: https://bit.ly/3yYyueD

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