So Sean, tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well i’m an American-born Producer DJ now residing for almost one and a half decades now in Europe. I got into electronic music as a teenager, but of course that love and passion for it grew into a career over the years.
What made you start DJing and how old were you?
I think I definitely started DJing after I had already started experimenting with production as a hobby. And I also think it was less about the actual act of DJing and more-so, back then, just so i could listen to the cutting-edge music coming over from Europe on vinyl. I guess I would have been late teens (though by then I had already been listening to electronic stuff since more or less 10 years old, albeit on store-bought CDs)
What or who were your early passions and influences?
Early on, acts like the Prodigy, Moby, Yellow Magic orchestra, Orbital, Underworld. Though I think Moby’s music influenced me more than anyone at this stage of my life.
What was your first live DJ set, how did you get it and how did it go?
I think my first set was in DC for a small party my friend was throwing at a small club there. And now that I do think about it, it was still during vinyl days so that was much more interesting and fun. I probably sucked though, no, I’m sure I did.
What’s your preference, Vinyl, CD’s or Digital and why?
Digital through and through. Simple really, I can make loads of modifications to tracks and have them really nice and polished and have it ready for that night at a show by simply getting it onto my USBs. No burning cds needed, and of course, no having to cut an acetate if I was just playing vinyl still.
What do you usually start with when preparing for a set?
I like to always incorporate a LOT of new material, whether it be from me or from other producers I love. I believe a huge pat of our job is to bring new sounds to the people, and NOT to be a fucking jukebox… so this is a big part of how I approach every set. Sure there are some older tunes, but I want to always be sure I am bringing out new sounds to share with people.
How would you describe your sound?
These days, I’d say a am really starting to finally give a serious nod back to my old more melodic sound, while bringing up my own personal level in terms of production and sound design .
Which DJs are you influenced by now?
Tbh, I am trying to not be influenced by anything unless its NOT related to trance. The way forward will be on unfamiliar ground, not recycling.
What’s your killer track at the moment?
I just finished up a new VII single that I’ve ONLY started playing out for last 2 weeks and i promise, it’s killer (I hope, anyway)
What country is your favourite to play in and why?
Argentina or Australia. Without fail. I just love both of these places, so beautiful with amazing people, and in each place I truly feel at home, whether it be in the club, at the festival, or someplace totally non-music related.
Probably difficult to answer but what’s been your favourite gig to date?
Maybe the very last Trance Energy? Simon Patterson and I had the massive honors (which was also somewhat bittersweet) to play back to back the last set on the mainstage of the very last Trance Energy in 2010 (though I BET you they relaunch this brand of events in due time). This was such a surreal thing really. Just a few years after being mesmerized by internet videos of older Trance Energys, and not even having a PASSPORT, I was closing the biggest Trance party on the planet at that time and up to that time. Insane.
How did you get in to producing music?
I started out doing what they call demo-scene tracking (basically a very clumsy way to make music using hexadecimal math, a lot of typing, and shitloads of samples). and slowly over years started to become more interested to go deeper into the whole bottomless well of learning how to make these glorious sounds. So I started to buy stuff: my first synth was a Yamaha AN1x. I got home with it and was so naive to think this was going to be all I needed to start. Then I realized it could only make 1 sound at a time! (OK, in fairness if I remember correctly, 2 if I utilized both layers separately). This led to my first drum machine purchase which ended up being a Jomox Airbase 99 – obviously ased around the architecture of the classic Roland TR909.
What software and hardware do you use?
These days after over a decade with Logic Pro, I have switched over in the last 3 or so years to use Ableton Live and love it, I miss CERTAIN things from Logic, but overall I work better in Live. I don’t have much hardware anymore, basically only my Novation Nova – which has such a unique sounding chorus and one of the coolest arpeggiators anywhere, I still can’t bear to part with it.
Talk us through what you do when you start writing a new track and how does it evolve from your initial idea? Do you start with a melody and work it from there?
These days I usually throw together the beat first, getting the kicks to gel up with the bassline and midbass frequency decor. And just generally trying to get an energy flow going. I used to think melodies were absolutely paramount to everything else, but without the right energy and bass flow, what fucking good is anything else?
You’ve done loads of collaboration with other artists, who have you enjoyed working with most and why?
I love working with Darren Porter because he constantly challenges to bring my head and my focus back to where it was when I was just starting out, fuelled by this love of melody and I dare say, innocence.
Out of all the music you have produced which track are you most proud of and why?
Some of the most difficult music to make out there is Drum and Bass. I am EXTREMELY proud of some dnb tracks I’ve done on the side and it really is a nice way for me to look back and say “I’m proud to have also done that”. These include a couple off my album, Diffuse and Kontrast, and also ones like Freeflow and Green Lights (though this one I did do under the moniker “Mekanism”). I think dnb production is an absolute rite of passage for me to give anyone my absolute unrelenting respect as to their technical pedigree now, so my own doing it for these tracks (and hopefully more to come) just made me that much more proud.
What are you working on at the moment?
Finishing up my next single for VII, which this time around, is going to be going on all cylinders at what made me the most happy in my production life: full-on trance. Get ready, and jeez I never say and actually HATE to say these things about my own music, because I believe this type of gratification (or punishment) is better left to the critics, but this track pulls out all the stops and is something I’ve made that I literally cannot wait to get to the decks and play….
You’re part of VII, How did that come about?
John Askew and I have been friends since the beginning of my career. I mean fuck, the dude discovered me (no pun intended) on his back-then imprint Discover. It seems as the whole concept of VII was being formulated and planned, I was lucky to be ready to go to jump right in.
What’s your favourite track you’ve released on the label?
I think by now my favorite track I have released on VII is Black & White. It has bite, it sounds as good today as when I finished it to me, and it has everything I want in a track, including a bonkers “holy shit bro what the fuck is this” kind of drop.
What are your thoughts on the VII Crew and the following and success the label is enjoying currently?
It’s nice to see. Something completely against the grain attaining this much popularity and respect amongst even the hardest core fans. There is hope for mankind.
You recently mixed one of the CDs on the first VII Compilation CD – where did you start when putting the tracks together and how did you decide what you were going to play?
I wanted to bring in my side of the sound, which of course is very varied. But wanting to make certain that I had a good balance btwn solid tech trance, beautiful melodic moments, and very technical driving ripper tracks was very important to me.
What do you personally consider to be the pivotal moments in your career so far?
I guess unarguably, the most pivotal moment was the release and overwhelming support and media focus on that one track, which basically gave birth to my entire dj momentum.
You now live and have your studio in Switzerland, what made you move over from the states?
Well in 2004, first off I moved over to Germany to work with Beam from EMI and basically get a crash-course in the industry. a couple months later I had met my future wife (who was Swiss not German), which kicked off a bit of a long distance thing (ok well a very serious one at that), and then 10 months after my arrival date into Switzerland, an opportunity had arisen that gave me the chance to work in a Swiss based studio – so it all seemed like too much of an omen to ignore. I moved here 1st of August 2005 and kept on pounding that pavement.
You’re part of the Amplifyd Experience – It must be an absolute dream for a lot of people to come over to your studio and work with you for 3 days – what’s it been like having people visit the inner sanctum of your studio?
Up til now I’ve been so busy with the overwhelming demand for the 2 hour Skype tutorials, which at this point is becoming so hard to keep up with scheduling I have to wonder if I can keep doing it, Didn’t expect that!
Explore the various Sean Tyas Experiences on Amplifyd here
If you weren’t a DJ what would your dream job be?
I think an animator or just being able to draw full time.
What would your year book quote be?
Sleep when you’re dead.
If you won the lottery…….what’s the first thing you’d buy?
The US presidency.
Whats the funniest story you can tell us from a night out?
That’s just the thing about these stories. Yep, no one knows em. The world is a better place and can sleep better as a result.
Do you have any bad habits?
Which don’t I have? I guess the main is my nicotine/smoking, i’m on vapes now but it’s still smoking “something”
Also my other bad habit that really needs mentioning is my tendency to take shit to the ABSOLUTE extreme. I never do anything lightly, always 140% effort or 0% effort. Now many people would see that as a great thing, but of course, if they are on the 0% side of things regarding what they get from me, well, yea, that sucks. Word to the wise, get me interested and enthused, and I’m fucking giving 140%.
If a film got made about your life story what actor would you want to play you?
I guess the only guy that would even be able to come close to match my life persona and my muscle tone would be Dwayne Johnson, so give him a ring.
What gigs do you have planned for the rest of 2018??
I’ll be headed over to one of my favorite countries on the planet Sweden next week to play for Monday Bar, a brand which I absolutely adore, then over to Holland the following weekend for the massive Grotesque indoor Festival which is sporting a ridiculous lineup, then to close it out before Xmas over in Asia in China and Singapore.
Thanks to James at Assured for arranging the interview.