Producer. Songwriter. Chart-topper.
These are just a few words that describe Szabo, an Australian sensation making waves in the EDM scene. IndustryMe was lucky enough to chat with the super-producer about his latest remixes, collaborations, and the UK music scene.
Your remix of “Horses” recently went to number one on the iTunes dance chart and all your recent singles have charted, that’s so exciting! How did that feel?
Great! I try to not get too caught up in the metrics of things – but at the same time don’t want to take for granted what the tracks have actually achieved. It started with my remix of “Lover” going top 10 on iTunes and achieving high rotation commercial radio play. That was really unexpected and happened much faster than I think everybody on the project anticipated. Not that I wasn’t confident in my work or the release – but cracking radio is one of the hardest things to do and there’s no sure way to make it happen. The success of the second release “Horses” was really satisfying, mostly because I had been pushing the remix concept for a long time and nobody believed in it. When it went No.1 and I was hearing it on the radio every day – it was a good reminder to believe in myself and trust my instincts.
The third remix “Heaven” also made its way into the top 10 on iTunes and has clocked up over 2 million streams on Spotify. It’s my favourite of the three from an artistic standpoint and it’s nice to see it connecting – it’s overtaken all the other releases streaming wise.
Your latest single “Go Do You” alternative remix features vocals from Dila – what was it like collaborating with such a strong vocalist?
It was really cool because Dila has a lot of light and shade to her voice. She can sing the same thing a lot of different ways so it was interesting exploring her unique tones. I think the fact she’s Russian plays a part in her pronunciation as well – her voice is just interesting. Her range is quite impressive as well – people should take a listen to the acoustic version of Go Do You because she did an entirely different interpretation and there are some really special moments in that one.
Dila is an up-and-coming talent from Russia, but you’re currently based in the UK – did that cause any complications in collaborating?
I wouldn’t say complications – but logistically it was a bit of a feat. We met up in Sweden and the label (Nexar Music) organized the session and a studio for us. It was a bit of pressure as we had a small time frame to achieve quite a lot – and we all knew it was an expensive endeavour and probably not something that we could do again anytime soon. We actually had 3 songs we were considering and recorded vocals for all them and I took it all back to London. “Go Do You” was the stand out and that became the first release.
How did the song come about? What inspired it?
My co-writer (Gemma Lyon) and I wrote the song together in Sydney quite a while before it was presented to Dila. We were originally writing it to pitch to a famous Australian artist who had a rough time with the press the last few years. We began talking about how she might feel being constantly judged and misunderstood, and that moved into the concept of a woman doing what she wanted and rising through adversity and believing in herself. Eventually that conversation spawned the lyric “So go do you… I’ll do me too.”
What musicians influence you the most and how do you incorporate those influences into your music (if at all)?
I’m actually strangely practical when it comes to writing and creating music. I often pick a vibe and then listen to what is popping in that similar sort of world. I might even find a few tracks randomly where I think, “I want to create something like that”. I have no rules on what I do and don’t listen to. I start knowing that I’m going to end up with something completely different but I use it as a kind of starting point in terms of sonic pallet or structure or style. Sometimes beginning with no reference point and no kind of direction can be a little overwhelming! In terms of actual artists who directly influence me – I would say any of the producers and writers that are currently pushing the boundaries on crossing over EDM into the pop world.
What has your musical journey been like? When did you first start writing and producing?
It started for me by playing piano at a young age and then guitar. After school I was in the live scene a lot – playing for different artists and touring and gigging quite a lot. I started song writing in my late teens and experimented with a band concept initially. I moved from that into working in a recording studio and doing a lot of session work as a guitarist and that eventually led into the production side. I actually didn’t write for or with anyone else until my mid twenties. Once that world of collaboration opened up to me it was a whole new thing. I started writing for other DJ’s and pop acts around the world – and then eventually decided I wanted my own producer / DJ project doing remixes and releasing my own songs that I had written with other singers and writers. I dabble in both and probably always will – writing for others and working my own releases.
You’re from Australia – is there anything that sets its music scene apart from, say, the UK or US?
I couldn’t really comment on the US music scene as it’s huge and I haven’t spent any time in it. I can say that the Australian music scene is really supportive of the indie artists – there’s not really a pop scene in Australia. I think any of the pop artists from Australia tend to break out overseas first and then eventually find themselves outside of Australia. For me, the U.K feels like it’s on the forefront of music culture and creativity, there are so many different genres that are supported here. I think the multiculturalism of a place like London really helps too – the influences are extensive and it’s like a melting pot of creativity.
What more can we expect from you in 2019? More music or a tour perhaps?
I have some exciting releases coming up with some amazing feature vocalists including Newton Faulkner. I have some bigger DJ’s releasing songs I’ve written so you’ll probably see a few Szabo remixes of those popping up as well. Live performance is definitely on the agenda – I’m looking forward to jumping into the DJ world but I really want to try combining it with live instruments and vocalists.