I’ll be quite frank here. Only a select few of the EDM tracks I have listened to in my life seem to possess this familiar quality that I’ve come across with previous endeavors into various other, more analog genres of music. What am I talking about exactly? Hell, I don’t even know. Stay with me thought, I promise this will go somewhere.
Let’s take punk-rock for example.
Back in my day, when I thrashed to gnarly riffs and growled anarchistic lyrics at the top of my lungs, it was because “I gave a fuck” about the music and its message. As silly and vain as it is to think about those immature, angsty feelings now, the music I used to listen to moved me in a way beyond the vocals, beyond the beat, beyond any bullshit I was dealing with, and more importantly, beyond my own boundaries.
Music was not only a realm to explore new thought processes, but it allowed me to find the words to everything I’ve ever wanted to say and more. It put proper vocabulary and sonic vibrations behinds my most inherent, carnal feelings. The countless hours I have spent listening to and interpreting the meaning behind music has equipped me with an arsenal of emotions to combat the onslaught of stimuli I encountered each and every day. My music used to give me perspective, and it challenged me as an individual to understand not only myself, but the world I was living in.
Granted that the notions in which I describe above may have developed due to a situational happenstance at a peak in my intellectual and behavioral development, I still staunchly affirm that popular electronic music in general lacks a certain existentially “thought provoking” nature to it.
However, it brings me great honor to present an artist who humbly refutes my previous misguided, cathartic complaints as he’s produced one of my favorite EDM tunes in the last year or so. “Diamond Sky” is a song that truly elicits the experiences I elaborated on above. Not only is the track incredibly vibrant and lush in sound quality, but the cherubic lyrics provided by Laura Brehm empower the listener by capturing one of life’s greatest questions in perfect prose. Make sure to check this one out ladies and gentlemen.
Since I had the pleasure to not only receive an exclusive mix from this blossoming artist, but an interview as well, I figured we could let the ‘Q and A’ handle some of our introductions.
(Please enjoy the mix while you read.)
MO: What is your name? Where are you from? How old are you?
EB: Hey man, my name is Elliot Berger. I’m from London, England and I’m almost 21.
MO: I read that you recently became engaged, congratulations.
EB: Thanks man!
MO: When is the wedding ceremony? Excited? Nervous?
EB: No plans at the moment for a exact date. It was more of a gestural thing at this moment in time. I’d prefer to graduate uni first really.
MO: Is your fiancée into electronic music? Does she provide any inspiration while producing?
EB: She is into some of the heavier and more poppy stuff – she’s not a huge fan of the experimental or chill stuff that I do, which is fine. I’ve been with her longer than I’ve been producing, and I’m not looking for an ego trip from her :). I think as far as inspiration goes, everything in my life inspires me, from my friends, to my fiancee, to what I had for lunch that day, haha.
After learning all of this, and then wasting about ten solid minutes explaining the importance of “double-wrapping your tool” to Elliot, I got down to some of the more nitty gritty stuff…
MO: How much wood would a Woodchuck chuck, if a Woodchuck could chuck wood? Seriously though.
EB: Probably like, 3 woodchucks? Is that right?
Ok, you caught me. That last one was a joke. But, that was Mr. Berger’s actual response. I wouldn’t lie [for crack]. On with the real questions.
MO: Where are you currently enrolled at school? What are you studying there and why?
EB: I am at Kingston University in London, studying Creative Music Technology. It’s a great way for me to experiment with all aspects of music production, and (hence the name) be creative with it. I think too many people are overly focussed inside their little bubble of ‘EDM Production’ that they don’t see the need to experiment with recording, or foley, or film scores, etc. Whereas I feel like the more I draw from other aspects of music, the more diverse, and interesting my music will become.
MO: Tell me about your history with music in general. I heard that you began to play violin at a young age, right? How did this history influence your current production methods?
EB: Yeah man, started playing violin when I was 6, and then taught myself guitar when I was about 12. I think it helped a lot with the music theory side – I did a lot of theory training and classical music training before I even knew what music production was, and so when it came to doing electronic music, it was much easier to grasp. The whole “guitar thing” got me into playing with bands, and even being a solo singer/songwriter at one point, which also kind of flows back into my music now, with the melodies and drum patterns. I think everyone is affected by their previous musical experiences, whether they realize it or not :)
MO: Of the people who have influenced your life that you have never met, nor will ever meet, who has been the MOST influential?
EB: Jimi Hendrix - he was a HUGE influence on me when I was learning to play guitar, and I think that has bled into my electronic stuff. Well, there’s that and the fact that he taught me it’s really all about hard work. THAT’S ALL IT TAKES.
MO: Name a few up and coming producers who you’ve currently got your eyes on. What do these musicians do that excites you?
Pulsate is doing some amazing experimental and chill stuff at the moment. I’ve been in the studio with him lately and I’m really excited about how it’s turning out!
Evoke - constantly combining fantastic sound design with amazing melodies.
After introducing myself a bit further and becoming more acquainted, I traversed a bit deeper into the mind of production whiz, Elliot Berger. What I found next was nothing shy of the complexity to which I was already accustomed to witnessing in his music. Mr. Berger revealed to me that his current, self-titled moniker is actually his most recent of two EDM-related musical projects. He then went on to elaborate in regard to the reason for the change from “System” to simply, “Elliot Berger.”
EB: The switch was actually solely because my music on iTunes was bundled under a group of dutch producers with the same name. There was no deliberate style change or anything like that – I think the perceived change in style was just me getting better at production and playing around a bit with various styles before settling on the more melodic stuff. I often get asked ‘will you ever do your System style again?’ and I don’t really understand what those people mean! I have a couple of singles like ‘Lights’ that I’ve been working on though, so hopefully that will be what people are after!
Within the first few interactions I shared with Elliot, I noticed that he unknowingly exuded a certain admirable determination and humble confidence in the way he calmly conducted himself. Working with him was a dream actually. Not only was he professional and punctual, but relatable as well. It was seemingly effortless to carry on a conversation with this bright, UK-native and I soon after learned that Elliot Berger was putting all these desirable qualities to proper use.
MO: What is this I hear about you mastering tracks for other artists? We heard it was for a nominal fee. Any notable examples? What sort of expertise do you have in this department?
EB: Yeah man, been doing it for a little while now. I did the entire global master for the EDM: Every Day Matters compilation, and have done work for Sean Mackey, Fuse, Aether, SoundNet and more :). Mastering was something I had been doing for friends and quickly realized that other people might be interested too. There are a lot of dodgy internet mastering services out there – so I try to do things a little differently. For instance, one example is that I do not charge my clients until they’ve heard the master and they’re happy (both analog and digital mastering etc.) It’s just little things really.
Alright, so he’s a great guy. So what? Can he produce? What’s his deal anyway?
Chill, I’m getting there. It was at this point that Elliot had to put us on hold. I think he said Pope Francis was on the other line, or maybe it was his mom? No need to get caught up in frivolous details however. The brief pause only served to exacerbate my desire for answers to all the other questions I wanted to ask him. Needless to say, I continued my onslaught of inquiries.
MO: If I may pigeon-hole your method for a second, what genres do you generally gravitate towards producing? Are your productions limited to said genres?
EB: I tend to work a lot with dubstep, although I have found lately experimenting with stuff around 130BPM is a lot of fun. I think a lot of my stuff does fall into a genre, and I don’t really see a problem with that. My more experimental stuff, like the ‘Looking Back EP‘ is a bit harder to place, but I’m sure it does fit somewhere.
MO: What is the most over-looked aspect in regard to fantastic electronic productions?
EB: I think drums – a lot of people just throw anything in there and don’t really care. Drums can make or break a production, it’s important to spend a couple of hours getting them right!
MO: What is the end game with music production for you? What are you trying to accomplish exactly? I mean, besides wealth and fame, duh!
EB: I don’t really know to be honest, hahaha. I have got further in the past 3 years than I ever expected to get in my lifetime, so I don’t really have a plan, just keep releasing and hope for the best.
MO: Name the three productions you’ve created in which you are most proud.
EB: This is a tough one – I think my remix of ‘Take Me’ by Tiesto, my track ‘Stay feat. Magdalena Wolk’ (which is currently unreleased, but will be out soonish hopefully), and ‘Looking Back,’ a track I wrote with Electus.
MO: If you could collab with any producer, or any musician at all for that fact, who would it be and why?
EB: Ellie Goulding - she’s an amazing singer and an amazing song writer!
The more answers I received from this youngster, the more questions I wanted to ask. Elliot was kind enough to answer each and every one of my queries with explicit detail and poise. At this point during the interview, it became exceedingly apparent that Elliot Berger was an extremely driven individual who not only works hard, but also possesses the necessary skill-sets to authenticate the quality of his work in his productions.
Speaking of quality, I couldn’t help but inquire as to the inception of my favorite track by Elliot Berger, “Diamond Sky,” featuring Laura Brehm on vocals.
MO: To this day, I still listen to your track “Diamond Sky” on a regular basis. The song is fucking awesome, plain and simple. Did you at all know what kind of reception this song would receive while you were making it? Are you sick of it yet?
EB: Haha, the whole writing process took over 6 months from start to finish. I actually started it after getting back from an interview over at BBC Radio 1. I was really inspired to write a big, almost dance-floor style tune and the song went through a huge amount of changes and styles before it ended up how it was when it was released (most of my songs do that in the early stages). I think because the process was so long, we truly hoped it would do better than others but, I think it’s hard to know because I’ve had songs I’ve been sort of happy with, do really well, and ones I’ve been seriously proud of that get only a mediocre reception. So it’s not really something I think about too much nowadays. If it sounds good to me, then that’s all that matters :)
MO: I’ve been told that Laura Brehm’s vocal chords are insured for over a billion dollars a piece? Is there any truth to this statement? Why is her voice so, so cherubic? TELL US DAMMIT!!!
EB: It is indeed ;) haha. She’s an amazing writer and vocalist, as well as an all round lovely person! It was a pleasure to work with her, and you can definitely expect some more from us in the future ;)
I certainly hope you’ve been tuning into the exclusive mix Elliot Berger has prepared for us while reading this post. I’d like to think that it helps bring this whole artist spotlight full-circle. After getting to know the man behind the computer screen, I was assuredly impressed by this up and coming talent. In regard to his exclusive minimix, Mr. Berger has gifted us with thirty minutes of lush, melodic bass music alongside a few other surprises.
MO: Tell us a little bit about the mix you’ve prepared for us. Any themes or motifs? Which of those songs were unreleased exclusives again?
EB: I think I just wanted a collection of all the tracks I’ve been listening too lately. Often when I do mixes for blogs, I tend to stick them on my iPod afterwards and listen to them myself. Check what works and what doesn’t, then work out which bits are worth keeping for future sets, and which bits are worth scrapping. So as far as themes go, I guess my favorite songs are the best way to describe it haha :P
The unreleased ones are ‘Hold On feat. Ranja’ which will be out as a free release in the near future, and the VIP of Diamond Sky, which at the moment has no release date. I finished it almost a year ago, but lost the project file, which is annoying because it would be nice to go back and touch it up a bit (hence why it hasn’t been released officially), but it may see its place on an EP release in the future :)
MO: “Joe Ford – Frozen Sound x Madeon – Icarus (Live Version) x Disclosure – You & Me (Baauer Remix)” - that’s one hell of a mash-up you created. Where did you find the inspiration to blend all these tracks together so well?
EB: Thank you! Yeah, I do all my mashups live rather than use other people’s. It gives a bit more uniqueness and excitement to my sets. As far as where the ideas come from, it’s purely a case of trial and error. I use mixed in key to match the keys for all my mixing, and then sometimes, like in this instance, if a set has a lot of vocal tunes in it, I then play an instrumental. I often like to put a vocal on there like in this case. I really felt the melody from the piano hook on ‘Icarus,’ and the vocal from ‘You & Me’ worked nicely, but quite often I try stuff and it doesn’t work as well as this did, haha.
Considering everything I have learned regarding Elliot Berger, a young, talented musician from London who specializes in melodic bass music, I still had one final question to pose towards the man himself. It was the kind of question that legendary interviews are made of, the kind that really forces the interviewee to dig deep in search of a proper response.
MO: Did you cry when kids at school called you “Smelliot”?
EB: I still do </3
There you have it folks. He still does. Ease up on the kid and maybe check out his awe-inspiring productions while you’re at it.