CS Exclusive | Dave Edwards
There are a handful of artists who, since the start of our blog, we've continually been avid fans and supporters of. NYC producer, songwriter, and DJ, Dave Edwards, is one such artist. From the perfectly executed match-ups of his remixes for The Knocks, to a persistently amazing take on Louis La Roche's Untrue, and many others — his refreshing style has played an integral part in our playlists over the past few years. Today, we're excited to be able give you a closer look into his world, through an interview where we discussed everything from what exactly goes into his productions, and running his own blog, to his affinity for French Electro, and what's sure to be a great, upcoming EP.
But before you get too heavy into the details, don't miss hitting play on this excellent exclusive mix he's put together for us, featuring tunes from the likes of The Alexanders, Bixel Boys, Sam Sparro, The Chainsmokers and more. And if you haven't yet, get yourself over to his Soundcloud to stay up to date on all things new.
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Caveman Sound: We know you often offer production tips via your blog & social channels, how did you get into producing yourself?
Dave Edwards: Well I actually started out producing hip hop, and not as much electronic music. I had a friend who had started getting into making beats on Fruity Loops, I think it was like version 6 back then or something, and when I realized you didn’t need an MPC and a bunch of hardware anymore I got interested in trying it out. And then I just got hooked, instantly. I eventually made the switch from FL to Logic and now Ableton but that was how it all started and I’m all self taught, I had no musical training before I was producing so I’ve had to learn everything from music theory to production itself. I do the blog posts and videos, which there will be a whole series of coming soon, really to save people the learning curve I went through. There’s unfortunately a lot of bad information out there on YouTube and forums and stuff so I try to pass on things I’ve learned the hard way - I think the more good music there is out there, the better for all of us.
CS: Give us some insight into your approach on production. What are some of the essential elements you look to incorporate into each original or remix?
DE: Whether it’s an original or a remix the melody is always the most important thing to me. People will dance to a groove but they will remember a melody - if you want your music to be played for more than a couple months I think that’s always the most important ingredient. That being said once you have the melody a great groove is essential if you want the record to get DJ support and sound professional.
With remixes my approach is to totally re-imagine a track while keeping intact whatever it was that made me fall in love with the song in the first place. Usually I use an entirely different chord progression and re-arrange some vocals to give it an entirely different feel from the original. The challenge is doing that, making a good record out of it, and still respecting the songwriting and intention that the artist put into the original, but that’s what I always aim to do.
I think the final thing I always try to do is to make sure I’m doing music that’s going to have its own sound and that isn’t a repeat of my earlier work. If you listen through my mixes you’ll notice I never use the same drum sound twice, hardly ever use the same synth sound twice, and so on - I make new sounds for every song I do. It makes the process a lot more time consuming than just using the same stuff over and over but it keeps things fresh and it’s a lot more fun to me creatively.
CS: You said something intriguing in relation to your latest remix of Flo Rida, “My goal was to put what I think is an underrated pop record in a chill and upbeat context that could be enjoyed by people who don't normally listen to him…”. Can you speak to that a bit?
DE: When I got approached by his label to do the mix I knew it was going to be an uphill battle as far as getting blogs to support the remix, no matter how good it might turn out. There’s a lot of negativity towards him in the electronic scene so I knew it would be tough. My goal with that remix was to make a feel good record that people would enjoy listening to even if they really aren’t a fan of Flo Rida, and it seems like I succeeded on that since the reception has been positive. I love doing remixes of Ellie Goulding and The Knocks and artists like that who everyone loves, but there’s something interesting about occasionally taking on an artist that will be much more challenging to get support for. And for those people who really aren’t fans, there’s an instrumental of the remix as well haha.
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CS: As bloggers ourselves, it’s always intriguing to see artists who maintain their own blogs in some form. What do you look to do with yours?
DE: I’m in the process of converting my blog on Tumblr into a full on Squarespace site that will have my blog and website all in one, so I’m looking forward to getting that up in the next month or so. As I’ve gotten busier it’s tough to find the time to write on it as much as I’d like to but in general I find it’s a great way to reach my fans in a way that you can’t always do with short updates on Facebook or Twitter. I try to share what I’m listening to, some of what I’m working on, and some production ideas for the producers out there - just some things that give people a better idea of what goes into the music I make.
CS: What artists would you suggest for people to check out that they may not have heard about yet?
DE: As far as already established guys - Audien, The Chainsmokers, Oliver Nelson and Don Diablo are my favorites at the moment. Audien single handedly has gotten me really interested in making progressive trance, which you will definitely be hearing on my EP this summer - it’s a format that allows me to explore the melodic side of things a little more than usual and I’ve been listening to all of his mixes on repeat, all of it is top notch stuff. The Chainsmokers are just killing it, I don’t even know what else to say about those guys. Awesome remixes and it’s really cool to see a group from NYC have a record that’s top 10 on iTunes and on the Billboard Hot 100. Oliver Nelson is great also, his remixes are all really incredible and he picks really interesting tracks to rework. Don Diablo had what I think was the best produced club record of 2013 - Starlight - and I just think all of his stuff is produced extremely well and he can do a lot of different sounds.
As far as up and coming artists - Syn Cole, Bixel Boys, Throttle, those would be my 3 favorites. If you’re into electro house Syn Cole has been putting out the best tunes around, I think. He uses some really interesting chord progressions that you don’t hear all that much in electronic music and everything he does is quality. Bixel Boys have been on fire recently, they have a really unique sound and I haven’t heard anything less than stellar from them yet. And my buddy Throttle has been making some great tunes and his remix of You Make Me really did well which was awesome to see. He’s 17 I believe and already making some huge tracks so I can’t wait to see where he’s heading in the next few years.
CS: Your music undoubtedly reflects a wide range of influences, tell us about some of them.
DE: I like all kinds of electronic music but French House and French Electro are my favorite genres. There’s something so timeless and magical about so much music that comes out of France - must be something in the water over there - but to me it’s always been in a different space than other dance music. Fred Falke, Daft Punk, Madeon, Alan Braxe, Sebastian, Justice, DJ Falcon, Louis La Roche, Modjo...so many incredible records. Beyond that guys like Axwell, Prydz, Sebastian Ingrosso, some of their older stuff and some of the songs they’re going to be releasing this year - more groovy, old school stuff - that’s always been big for me.
As far as non electronic stuff, I have a major love for pop music - I’ve learned mostly everything I know from studying Stuart Price, Dr Luke, Max Martin and guys like that. Calvin Harris has been a huge influence on me as well.
I listen to a lot of older stuff also. Fleetwood Mac (even though they got me banned from Soundcloud haha), Prince, lots of 80s music as it has such an influence still on what we do today.
CS: Let’s talk about your forthcoming EP. What can we expect from that?
DE: My goal is to finish 3 songs for it but depending on how busy my remix schedule is I may just keep it to 2, and I’ll probably call in some favors to get some great remixes on there also. It’s going to be feel good, summertime pop/electro music and I’m hoping to have the first song out right around the July 4th holiday. There are a lot of tracks I’ve been listening to recently that have been giving me ideas - Plastic Plates & Sam Sparro’s “Stay In Love” and Chromeo’s “Jealous” both definitely come to mind, and if I can squeeze a third track in there as I said earlier I’d love to explore some progressive trance ideas I’ve been having lately.
CS: Your music is the soundtrack to what city?
DE: Hmm good question. I’d love to say NYC cause I’m born and raised here but really its more LA. Even in the winter I’m making feel good summertime stuff. And that’s probably part of why I’ll be relocating to LA later this year.
CS: Do you have any extraordinary skills or special tricks you’d like to share with us?
DE: I’ve never played Animals in a DJ set. I consider that a special trick these days haha.
CS: What would be your dream collaboration and/or b2b set?
DE: There are so many vocalists I’d love to work with - Sam Smith or Sam Sparro both come to mind for sure. Miguel would be awesome. Ellie would be right up there as well.
As far as sets...if I could go b2b with Madeon or Axwell, I could die a happy man.
CS: Is there anything else on the horizon for you for this year?
DE: Lots yeah, I’m really excited about this year. I’m working on originals for major labels right now which has been a dream for years so that’s awesome and hopefully I can get a few songs placed and buy a house like Avicii’s. I’m also working with a great new music platform, Audiomack, on their expansion into electronic music. They’ve done an awesome job giving hip hop artists another platform to share their music on and are a great alternative to Soundcloud and we’re going to be bringing that to electronic producers, DJs, and blogs very soon. Besides that I’m just looking to put out a lot of great tunes of my own, both originals and remixes, and getting to meet more fans at shows.
A big thanks goes to Dave for sitting down to chat with us, and of course, for putting together such an incredible mix which we'll surely be enjoying all the way through summer. Stay connected with all things Dave Edwards via the links below!