Perhaps known for his remix of Dash Berlin and Emma Hewitt’s “Waiting,” co-productions with some of trance’s most renowned, or his own singles, Sean Tyas‘ work has quite a reach. Before taking the stage at Trance Unity in Montreal, I was excited to ask him a little about his involvement with this year’s UnKonscious Festival in Thailand. We also talked about his travels for work — including scary incidents and favorite experiences — focuses this year, and advice for being signed.
We were just at the UnKonscious Festival too, but weren’t able to link up with you.
■ It was actually kind of crazy and I was only there one night. Straight in and out.
Was that your first time there?
■ Second. I was there the year before as well. I’m assuming I’ll go back next year because [John Askew and I] did the anthem for it this year.
How did that happen? How do you get to do the anthem?
■ Lonski came to me and said he would love for me do to the anthem I said, “You’re doing a whole VII stage so it would be really cool to have me and the founder of VII do it together to make this anthem cooler,” and he said that would be totally better. That’s how that whole thing came together.
How was the VII stage programming coordinated?
■ Orkidea is our designated progressive guy, so he’s always opening up and opening up for the longest time. He is an amazing progressive DJ and he can build something up for three, four hours no problem. Every single other person on the roster is playing banging, so it just makes sense. We kind of shift things around, it’s always a little different, but no so different because we all play hard.
Where else have you been recently?
■ In January, I had a show in Israel. It’s unusual to play there as a trance DJ — Israel is only really big for techno and psy.
What was the show there?
■ It was a club event and it was fantastic, it was so good. I was amazed at how many people were familiar with my music there. There’s a scene there. As always, the promoter has to believe in the event and then the event can go on. I think this is a problem with a lot of cities, as there might be a huge demand for [trance] but a promoter needs to believe in it to invest the money to make the event.
I got so much hate on Twitter for going there. I had hate bots attacking me and it was actually scary to go. I’m not a political person, I don’t play the political bullshit. I’m not there to bring my music to everyone, but with the angle they were taking I was like, “I’m just out there to play music, I’m not playing the political game.”
Have you ever had anything else scary happen while traveling for work?
■ That was probably the scariest. Another scary thing was in Indonesia one time, leaving the country after my first time visiting. They tried to shake me down and put me into an interrogation room and actually say I had the wrong stamp when I came into the country, meanwhile we had everything legit, work permission and everything and I asked what it’s gonna take for me to go on my plane and they asked how much money I had in my pockets. I said nothing and they said, “Well there are three of us here, can you pay us 150 Euro?” and I asked what that is in Indonesian Rupees and they said 1.5 million and I said I needed to check my phone because I didn’t know the conversion rate. Then I offered 100 Euro for all three of them and they held my bags and passport while I went to the ATM so I had to take the money out and literally pay them off.
Wow, were you traveling alone? Do you usually travel alone?
■ Yeah, always. I didn’t expect to go to prison or anything, but they were going to make me miss my flight and I’d have to buy another flight so I was better off just paying them the money to go.
Those are things a lot of people don’t hear about. I know your job isn’t always a smooth ride.
■ No, it’s not a smooth ride sometimes. It’s become smoother lately with different countries, but sometimes you get weird problems. Another time my Swiss passport had a small cut on the picture page, like a slice about two inches long, and in Singapore they almost didn’t let me in because of the cut on the picture page. I had my American passport, thank God I had two.
I overheard you and some of the other guys talking earlier about a crazy robot room service… I actually saw it on your Instagram.
■ I ordered room service from the TV and it did say robot service, but you don’t think a robot’s going to come to your door so I just ordered my food and got a call 25 minutes later that said the robot was waiting at my door. I assumed it was going to be a person but it was literally a robot.
That sounds like something straight out of Tokyo, nevermind here in Montreal. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen while traveling?
■ Probably in Australia or South Africa. When I was in South Africa, I got to go play with baby white lions which was pretty amazing, even as babies they can still take your hand off. In Australia, to be able to play with the younger kangaroos. I’m so into animals so that kind of thing is pretty nice to be able to do. I’m not so into sightseeing as far as architecture, but feeding kangaroos? Yes.
Did you feed the elephants in Thailand?
■ No, because I was only there 24 hours this time. I’ve been before but never had enough time, but as we were driving to the venue, we passed multiple elephants. It was pretty cool to see that.
What are you most excited about for the rest of the year?
■ Developing my own label. Regenerate has been around for about a year and a half now and the releases have been really good, but now it’s been a bit of a bigger focus. I’ve just redone my studio and the sound in there is unbelievable, so not only is it the label I’m excited about and developing the new artists I’m bringing up, but as well as developing my own music and seeing what it’s gonna sound like on the club’s systems now. I think my tunes are going to be hitting the club systems even better and harder. That’s what we’re all after — slamming that speaker really hard. I’ve been following a bit more of a back to basics approach with my music and I think the fans have been into it. It’s like my older sound mixed with a newer production technique and I think that’s working really well and I’ve been loving the melodies again.
Whats your best advice for someone who would like to be signed?
■ You have to make what you love, otherwise you will never ever make it in the long run. You can probably get the initial signing, but if you don’t make the music you believe in, you’re fucked. The second thing is to really learn your sound design and really learn how to use the synths you’re given. Don’t just use the packs; for example, the packs I make and other people make of presets. I think it’s really important you learn how to make your own sounds, as the packs I make are made to educate you on how to do these things, so I think the better way to do it would be to use these packs as education and make your own sound. It’s harder than it sounds but you gotta do it. I hear so many demos with samples that are clearly samples and they didn’t change it and it’s not as cool. [The crowd] doesn’t know but eventually they will because this will become more public; the production side is becoming much more public with the people. People want to see the DJs in the studio and I think it’s becoming more apparent when the DJ is not really producing his or her own music when they never make studio videos.