Exclusive Interview: Vicetone talks Eminem, Soundcloud and future goals
Vicetone have built an incredible name for themselves in a relatively short period of time. The Netherlands based artists, who perpetually produce and tour internationally, epitomize the notion of hardworking producers and established themselves as one of the most in-demand DJ-duos in the world. Between their constant stream of releases, high profile remixes, and ubiquity across festival lineups, it’s easy to forget that Ruben Den Boer and Victor Pool were virtually unknown before releasing their major breakthrough remix of Fedde Le Grand & Nicky Romero’s “Sparks” in September 2012.
Just after their postponed Ultra Europe performance, we had the privilege to sit down and have a chat with the high-flyers about their influences, goals, and evolution as a duo. Despite some tumultuous weather conditions which led to the cancellation of the first day, the second day of the festival reportedly went off without a hitch. Ultra was even able to make space for a few of the day’s previous headliners like Armin van Buuren, Above & Beyond and Vicetone to still perform.
Ruben and Victor are chatting to us backstage right after their massive Ultra Europe performance in the burning hot Adriatic sun, not showing a glimpse of exhaustion and feeling visibly satisfied after taking some fan pictures before leaving.
The show was amazing. We’re happy that we got a good set time after yesterdays debacle. We were supposed to play 20:00 until 21:30 yesterday which is an amazing slot time. And then everything got cancelled and we are just so happy that we ended up playing after all.
Meteorological effects aside, We Rave You is here to talk about their current status as a duo after years of rising and proving themselves as high-class producers. Never afraid to speak their mind, it’s probably come as somewhat of a surprise to many diehard Vicetone fans that the duo has recently broke out in a new direction with their Aurora EP. Yet, they still managed to craft harmonic, melody driven and anthemic sounds we’ve come to know from the duo. Having performed already two years ago at Ultra Europe, we wanted to know how Vicetone evolved musically and personally since that time.
We definitely evolved regarding our music, but I wouldn’t say we changed our style. We try to get more out of our comfort zone and experiment with new sounds. But I think we really grew as artists and as a duo. Our live performances are way better than two years ago. We are basically just more comfortable with the DJ lifestyle. It takes some time to get used to it of course. Also, our productions are significantly better than then.
And they are right. Somewhere between a spike in vocal dance music on the European airwaves and the domestication of polished tropical house within the global charts, the agenda for accessible, chart-primed electronic music has become a bit of a flat affair. The enthusiasm was there, but something lacked in the songwriting that allowed the more practiced genres to succeed and inevitably make the vocal dance market feel limp. Vicetone emerge as the antidote to a slack songwriting generation of revolutionized Soundcloud warriors and hit the bullseye with an extremely successful Aurora EP.
They’ve come a long way, they established themselves and they achieved some goals they would have never dreamed of. But what makes a music career even more worthwhile are the yet-to-be achieved goals, those who stand on top, those which eventually lead to the Hall Of Fame. Despite being such a big hit in the dance music industry, I wondered if they still have goals in sight.
Ruben: Well it’s not something that we are unconditionally trying to achieve, but I think it would be really cool to have one big radio hit once in our careers. It’s one of those things if it won’t happen we will still be happy because we can do this for a living. We have hardcore fans who know all of our music. That’s the most important thing. But it would be cool to have that one song everybody knows.
Victor: Before we started growing, one of our main goals was to play a show at the Ultra Main stage. And now we did that. We even did the UMF anthem, so there are many goals we already achieved. We will just continue to do our thing.
Being in the scene for 5 years now, the two childhood friends have evolved into one of the industry’s most renowned artists. Influenced by the music of Eric Prydz, Vicetone developed their own signature sound over the years. But just like almost every DJ, the duo is not only influenced by EDM acts. In fact their biggest influence comes from a Hip-Hop background.
Ruben: Eminem! Even more than any other artist. I grew up on his music and to me there is no other artist out there who puts as much power and emotion into his songs and shows as him. You can hear that he’s making music not for the money, not for the fame, not because he wants to make a living with it. He wants to show his real emotions and tell his stories. To me that’s just so beautiful. My favourite tracks of him all have that incredible power and incredible feeling behind it.
Victor: When it comes to music production I would say Dr. Dre. He is one of the most legendary producers out there. He had a big influence on our productions as well. Just listening to his way of creating sounds and melodies is simply unique. Right in the beginning of our career, back when we started making music, we had a habit of making our tracks as complex as possible. But after listening to Dr. Dre’s productions we realized that his music is so simple but sounds so good and it doesn’t get boring.
Talking music, this year saw their remix of Bonnie McKee’s track “I Want It All” reach insane heights of popularity, while their originals like “I’m On Fire” or “United We Dance” emerged as anthems in their own right, with Ruben and Victor playing packed venues all around the globe. The guys make clear, however, that their today’s success wouldn’t be accomplished without one infamous website: Soundcloud. The online audio distribution platform has been under fire from all sides lately regarding their current copyright policies and regulations. Vicetone doesn’t mince their words by saying that Soundcloud was their principal online platform to reach a broader audience. Asked about the current ruling, they explained:
I think it’s a shame. Because back in our day we uploaded so many bootlegs. It really helped spread our music. What people need to understand is that when artist upload a bootleg, they are not making a cent of it. It’s not that you steal somebody’s work and try to sell it as your own. If you remix it and put your own touch to the track then it’s a remix. All these copyright laws, they try to monetize everything. Soundcloud was a platform for upcoming producers to share their music and the only effective way to do that was to make remixes and bootlegs. That’s exactly how we started and what brought us here. That’s how Kygo became big too, he only made remixes in the beginning. This is years ago, if you do it now, your music will probably be taken down, and that’s a shame.
With this in mind, the duo has consistently sought to use their partnership to bring forth a new level of emotional electronic music that is capable of moving the listener’s hearts. With a blend of house and electro, as well as subtle elements of pop and progressive music, Vicetone have sought to maximize the house listening experience into an emotional one that everyone can relate to. But how does their process of creation look like? In fact, the duo revealed their favorite two synthesizers.
Sylenth needs to be definitely in there. And Spire. It feels like a updated version of Sylenth. It’s really warm but also powerful at the same time. For lead sounds it’s a really great plugin.
Four years since leaping off the couch and into the deep end, Ruben and Victor have managed to stay afloat and make waves by remaining consistently true to their roots as individuals, as artists, and most importantly, relentlessly hard worker. As Vicetone stays this course, it’s scintillating to imagine where they will be two years from now.