Dan Snow is one half of Extended Play (with Josh Dupont) who have featured on labels such as Bedrock, Crosstown Rebels, Mindwarp and Prisoner of Love. Here we talk about his solo project on Chris Fortier’s Fade.
Hi Dan, tell us about you.
Dan Snow: I’m from the heart of Chicago and 32 years old. Started around 24 as a bedroom DJ but didn’t start playing out till about 26-27. Producing started around 23ish and I’ve always been more of a producer.
What’s the music scene like where you live and where are you playing? What have been some of your most memorable gigs so far?
Dan Snow: I’m based in Houston now, and it’s very underground – someone really has to know where to find the right spots or you’ll end up in an EDM nightmare! My most memorable gig was opening for Moon Boots for an event anniversary party in a packed out small venue.
What key things made you get in to Dance music? Which DJs and Clubs first inspired you?
Dan Snow: The first Dance set I ever heard was 16 Bit Lolitas live in Buenos Aires that a friend had on CD. Once I heard this, I was hooked instantly. Then I started researching more about the genre, and came across my all-time favourite monthly podcast by Shur-I-Kan. Loving tracks from Manik, Moon Boots, Fred Everything and more. Chicago’s legendary spots – Spybar, Smartbar, and Vision (back in the day) were my stomping grounds.
You trained as a Classical and Jazz musician, so what different ideas/attitude did you bring with you into Dance music?
Dan Snow: I absolutely love making technical scales sound like ear candy. Aside from Jazz, Dance music allows for technicality to really shine. So, I include a lot of Jazz flavour. For our Extended Play track “Sounds like Glitter,” I used F Mixolydian. John Debo made a remix and elevated the technicality I provided.
For anyone not familiar with your music, how would you describe your style? Can you put your finger on the elements of your music that makes it so distinctive?
Dan Snow: I would say to set aside my style from the masses, I love incorporating ambient and cinematic sounds with very technical progressions.
Who would you list as creative reference points influential to your development?
Dan Snow: Today, more recently, I’d have to say Monoloc and Kiasmos. They are the musicians with a severe ear for cinematics, classical, and non-linear scales.
How difficult was learning to produce for you in the beginning? Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give new producers just starting out?
Dan Snow: I spent 5-6 years practicing on Ableton as a session musician. I never released tracks, never went out on the weekends, and always looked for ways on how to develop my craft. I would advise to not get anxious and want to release tracks right away. Have patience and hone your craft. It’s an art and artists develop their minds and technique over the years. It’s easy to get sucked into the hype. Patience is key and seek advice from outside the House and Techno world.
Your new release: ‘Frenzy EP’ is released on Chris Fortier’s respected FADE Records. What was the inspiration behind the 4 tracks?
Dan Snow: This is where it gets interesting… Techno has many forms. Techno from Nina Kraviz sounds different from Recondite. I wanted to create various styles of techno and all 4 tracks are very different from each other. This way it showed versatility within my own creativity. My inspiration was going over the years and thinking about everything I learned about house/techno and the people that inspired me: from Monoloc, to John Digweed, to Adam Beyer, and Pan-Pot.
Can you talk us through how you produced ‘Collide’? Did you use any favourite pieces of studio gear here?
Dan Snow: I wanted to challenge myself, so I mainly used the Korg Volca Keys. I was curious about what I could do, as I had recently purchased it and have been experimenting. I like to record my jazzy progressions with guitar, convert to Midi, and use the Korg Volca Keys to create the synth sound I need. Challenging yourself only using one synth is kind of fun. This is undeniably becoming more of a favourite out of my synths.
You are also one half of Extended Play (with Josh Dupont) and your work together has featured on labels such as Bedrock, Crosstown Rebels, FADE, Mindwarp and Prisoner of Love. Tell us how that creative partnership came about and has developed?
Dan Snow: When I moved to Houston I needed a home base for my House and Techno needs. Josh and I met through a friend (James Reed) who at the time informed me that his partner in Kinda Super Disco was looking for a production partner. We met and hung out a couple of times. Once we came into the studio to check out our styles, it was instant mesh. He does easily what I have difficulty with. Where I’m the musician, he takes what I create and turns it into a well-rounded track. I must give him props because he grounded me even further in my technique since I’m used to being a session musician. The teamwork also developed a close friendship.
How does it differ creatively working as a solo artist?
Dan Snow: Solo I have my complications. It’s easy to create Jazz, Metal, or any other genre other than dance. Dance is so different. Creating your own loops and wanting to get those ideas out of your head can be tough. It’s a longer process but it allows me to take my time and develop something well crafted.
Which of your tracks do you consider to be your most accomplished creation to date? Why?
Dan Snow: That’s tough because I have high standards for myself and always feel I can do better. I would have to say ‘Collide’. It allowed me to breach an element I’ve been trying to create for so long – that dark and kind of mysterious build up. I’m very proud of it.
Do you find it easy to express your deepest emotions in your music, or is this something that finds an outlet only in certain, special tracks?
Generally, I’m a very musically expressive individual and it can occur at any given moment. It’s not hard to think back to a memory or situation that is/was inspiring, or even a current mood – especially through Classical or Jazz guitar.
Tell us something about the psychological effects of music that totally blows your mind?
Dan Snow: Music taps into the deepest of minds. It can make you think about memories that you thought you would never think of again. It can bring people down or lift people up. Music can make one aggressive or provide relief. It can change someone for life. We can’t anticipate what music will do for an individual and I believe music is a high. We can’t anticipate what the next track will bring us to. Knowing that I can influence someone mentally in these ways with music is mind-blowing in itself.
What piece of studio equipment couldn’t you live without?
Dan Snow: My Guitar. It is the pinnacle of my productions. It plays into my synth work because I create melodies and harmonies there first.
Who are your current Top 5 most exciting producers and why?
Dan Snow: Monoloc, MANIK, Moon Boots, Maya Jane Coles, and Tale of Us. All of these producers have influenced me in different points of time in my life, for different reasons. Monoloc for his crafty experimental pieces. Tale of Us’ unique sound has really caught my ear. MANIK, I love the acid grooves. Maya, for her songs and talented collaborations. Moon Boots for his use of technique in music theory. I’m a lover of dance music in general as you can see.
Best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Dan Snow: Get your heart broken. (My father). The biggest influence of music in my life, a jazz musician. Now I have in more ways than one. Even just life circumstances. Between friends, family, or lovers.
What can we expect to hear from you next? What are your plans for the future?
Dan Snow: Dive deeper into cinematics. I’m barely touching on it and that will eventually lead to, hopefully, film scores. For now, cinematics and big techno sounds.