Looking for a great new EDM group made of musical all-stars? Look no further than Velvetine, made up of Myon & Shane 54 and Aruna. EDM Charts sits down with them to discuss their upcoming single “The Great Divide”, the roots of music and how they all met. Sit back, relax, and catch up on Velvetine.
1/ Thank you very much guys for taking some time to talk with EDM Charts about what you’ve been up to and happenings in EDM. Tell us where you’re from and how you got involved with EDM and DJing.
Aruna: Thanks for having us! I live in LA but am originally from the middle class suburbs of New Jersey. I started as a pop artist/writer and kind of fell into EDM by accident. A pop track of mine which won an international songwriting competition was plucked by one of the contest’s sponsors, Sony, to be featured in one of their monthly remix contests for their ACID software users. The winning remix was discovered on MySpace, which of course was all the rage back then, by Stuart Squires, a manager who works with Cerf Mitiska & Jaren and Jeza to name a few. He thought my voice would be a good fit for dance tracks and asked if I would like to start doing collaborations with dance producers. Six months later my name landed on Steve Helstrip’s plate (aka The Thrillseekers) and the rest is history. DJ’ing is something I only started doing about a year and a half ago, to round myself out as an EDM performer and to be able to do longer sets and to have more control over my shows. It was actually something Myon & Shane suggested, which I resisted at first as it seemed a huge can of worms to dive into but from the minute I started doing it I was completely hooked. I definitely foresee it becoming a bigger and bigger part of my live shows and my identity as an artist overall.
2/ Describe how the formation of the group Velvetine came about (consisting of Aruna and Myon & Shane 54?
Myon: Well, we had to get in touch with Aruna first, which wasn’t that easy first, mainly due to the age old language barrier problem. In fact I sent her a message through her Myspace page (yes, it was THAT long time ago), and funnily enough she still has the email which was pretty hard to understand due to my lack of English knowledge. First she thought I was some kind of weirdo, which of course I am, but in a different way she originally reckoned.
Shane: We heard her singing ‘I’ll Be Waiting For You’ at her piano, it was so passionate, very emotional, we immediately knew she would be perfect for what we had in mind musically. In the end we got in touch, and started working on Helpless, which meant we released our first song way before we even met in person.
Myon: We always had ideas that were either too soft, dark, or just simply different to put it into the “Myon & Shane 54 feat Aruna” moniker, which we didn’t like too much anyway, so after several long brainstorming sessions (which included the now thankfully forgotten Supernal, Filter 3 or Calais names) Aruna came up with Velvetine – “Just like velveteen, just spelled differently” – that we all loved so it became our name.
Shane: Safe, our first single was debuted on Anjunabeats 7, and in the very last day of the cover designing process, we still couldn’t decide which name to use. The graphic designer literally had an empty space where Velvetine should’ve been, and we’ve had urgent emails from the label to finally agree on something. It was literally decided in the last second.
3/ ”The Great Divide” is the huge upcoming release by your group. It has already received much publicity from Trance Around The World with Above& Beyond. What’s the inspiration behind the track and what was the creative process like?
Aruna: Myon & Shane had heard this film cue from the movie Revolutionary Road and completely fell in love. All three of us are huge Thomas Newman (the composer) fans anyway. It was right before one of their first visits to LA and so when they came here, they played it for me and suggested we take some elements of the piano part and make a track out of it. We feel that the Velvetine sound has a very specific harmonic language, lots of modal interchange and that sort of thing, and this tune fit right in with that. We immediately started playing around with different ideas and the basic structure of the verse was born. It wasn’t until I went to visit Mario in Hungary a few months later that we finished the framework for the rest of the tune and several months after that that I was able to finish up working on the vocal melodies and lyrics.
In the meantime Mario started working up the production, spent months on it, completed it, completely scratched it, and started over from zero. I ended up redoing the vocals twice as well. If you listen closely to the version that Above & Beyond played in their Trance Around The World 400 set, you can hear those vocals are different than the final ones. Then we had to go through the process of getting clearance from Thomas Newman’s people, which took several months as well. So the whole thing from start to finish ended up at over two years. It’s so rare these days, for obvious reasons, that anyone spends that long on a track. But I think the refinement and detail in this one speaks for itself, people really appreciate that kind of care and attention, and I’m sure that’s a large part of why it’s already doing so well.
4/ You describe classical music as a large influence on your music, from the likes of composers such as Chopin and Debussy. What elements do you take away from these composers and why is it important to be educated on classical music?
Aruna: Great question! Chopin and especially Debussy had a very unique approach to their compositions, especially compared to what the music was like around them at that time. I think with Debussy in particular, he has a real sense of adventure and play in his music, like you don’t know where it’s going next, he uses a lot of chords which maybe aren’t diatonic to the key he’s in etcetera but unlike some composers who followed him, he never goes too far outside the lines that it becomes dissonant or unpleasant to listen to. Also he uses a lot more tension notes in his chords and unusual scales and modes than most of the composers before him. Those kinds of things are what we try to incorporate into Velvetine, while still making it something that will work on the dance floor. I guess it’s kinda like the film The Matrix in a way. One of the things that made that film so brilliant to me is that it meets you wherever you are. If you’re just looking for a fun action film, you’ll get that. If you want a deep philosophical commentary on the meaning of life you’ll get that as well. I’d like to think Velvetine’s music has a similar broad appeal.
5/ What is it like working with an all-star label such as Anjunabeats?
Shane: To be honest my first release on Anjuna was an Above & Beyond remix (Far From In Love) back in 2002, when the guys were already heroes to me, but they were nowhere near as popular as today. We of course stayed in touch, and when Myon & Shane 54 formed in 2008, they were keen to release our second single, Not A Lot Left. We have a strong connection, and we admire their drive and attention to detail.
Myon: We always end up sending files back and forth. Above & Beyond also take part in the creative process sometimes, offering invaluable feedback or concrete ideas that might help making the songs better. It’s a great team to be a part of.
6/ Are you working on any other singles, EPs or projects?
Myon: We always working on something, although touring limits the time we can spend making music. We have a bunch of new songs we originally wanted to release as an album, but since it might end up taking forever (we can spend so much time on tweaking), we chose a different approach and are releasing more singles.
Shane: We’re working on a lot of new music and through touring, met a bunch of new collaborators, people you don’t even think an artist like us could get on board. These are really exciting times for us, and we try to make the most out of it.
7/ With every interview at EDM Charts we always ask artists what their current top #5 are. What are Velvetine’s top #5 songs right now?
1/ Parker & Hanson – Afterthought (Soundprank’s Deep 04 Mix)
2/ Denis Kenzo feat Sveta B – Lullaby Loney
3/ Illuminor – That Way (Genix Dub)
4/ Above & Beyond feat Richard Bedford – On My Way To Heaven (Seven Lions Mix)
5/ Sun Glitters – There (Stumbleine Remix)
And even though its not a new release of course we have to add Jakatta feat Seal – My Vision as an all time classic fave. Thomas Newman and Seal, its a match made in heaven.
8/ This summer there was a lot discussion on celebrities and artists doing prerecorded sets referencing the likes of Paris Hilton and deadmau5. What are your thoughts on celebrities/DJs “performing” and not even doing live mixes?
Shane: I wouldn’t call them DJs, but they are entertainers. Some of those people are so powerful that they can even make their own scene of they want to, a place where they can play according their own rules, and if they like to ‘play’ a prerecorded set, and their audience accepts it, why wouldn’t they do it? On the other hand, if they are making a lot of money with it, even better–another vehicle to make those greens! Who would blame them? A DJ gig for a hundred grand would look good next to a bottle of perfume. Empire building at its best.
Myon: Of course if the question is if this is good for dance music, well, it’s not, but once dance music gets to a certain mainstream category, there’s going to be much more people who just listen to it than actually care about it as a lifestyle. But those people want to be entertained too and they will find their favourites as well and won’t have a faintest idea if that’s ‘real’ or not.
9/ Velvetine has been doing a bit of touring lately with some live shows. Where can EDM fans see you live in the near future?
Aruna: Well technically speaking, so far all the shows we’ve done together have been Myon & Shane 54 and Aruna. The Velvetine official live show will be quite a different sound, more festival-oriented, more live instruments, not so trapped in the 132-134 BPM four on the floor groove the whole time, but the three of us will be performing together again at Exchange in LA in November, also in Jakarta in early December, but before any of that will be Nocturnal Wonderland in September…one of Insomniac’s biggest and most prestigious events, and all of our first times playing it, so needless to say we’re really looking forward to that one!
10/ Where do you see EDM in the next 5 years? Will we see more and more pop stars venturing into the genre or do you think it will maintain its own unique characteristics and somehow maintain integrity and balance without going to “pop” or “selling out”?
Myon: Probably it will go even more mainstream and more pop artists will find it appealing to work with DJs and make songs that sounds like proper dance music. And of course. there will be fantastic collaborations that will became big songs, but eventually sometime (hopefully much later), when the mass taste turns to something else, EDM will become less popular than in its heyday (which is still way ahead us), but it will still have a strong base of fans.
Shane: The funny thing about dance music is that if you have an underground hit that all the cool DJs play to death, then you’re also cool as hell. Once it gets picked up by the radio and gets millions and millions of YouTUbe views, the same song (including the artist), becomes ‘pop’ and a ‘sellout’. It’s just weird.
11/ Tell fans where they can purchase your music and where they can find out more and follow Velvetine online?
Aruna: “Safe (Wherever You Are)”, our first release, can be purchased at iTunes or Beatport. “The Great Divide” comes out on September 3rd with remixes following on the 24th, and both will be available at iTunes and Beatport as well. And for our social media definitely check us out at facebook.com/velvetinemusic or twitter.com/velvetinemusic.