Tensteps, a skilled DJ and producer in the Electronic Dance music scene. In this interview, we dive into his early experiences with music, his journey into the world of DJing and producing, and his insights on the evolution of the industry. With major label releases under his belt and collaborations with renowned artists such as Andrew Rayel and Standerwick, Tensteps is quickly making a name for himself in the EDM world.
Hi Tensteps, how are you?
Doing well, thanks!
You’ve mentioned before, that you’ve been playing music since you were 4 years old. What instruments did you start playing and what led you to pursue music at such a young age?
I started with piano because that was the most easily accessible to me. We had an upright piano in the house so I started on that. I also picked up guitar around that time as well. I assume my parents could see I had an aptitude for music so they got me a guitar to try.
When did you first start exploring Electronic music? Was there a particular artist or track that drew you to the genre?
A couple of things happened around the same time that got me into Electronic music. My teenage years and early 20s were largely spent in the Metal and post-Hardcore scene. Bands like Attack Attack! and Asking Alexandria were some of the first that I heard to mix synths with Metal, so I originally started trying to write music like that. That led to my first experiments with software synths. Not too long after that, the band I was in played Bamboozle festival on the same day that Skrillex was headlining. I’d heard of this guy before but didn’t know much about him, so I went to check out his set and was blown away. I immediately started to try to figure out how to make all these crazy sounds he was using. A short while later, an ex-girlfriend of mine introduced me to Above & Beyond and that was the first time I’d heard Trance music, and something clicked immediately where I was like “this is so different from the other Electronic stuff I’ve heard, so much more emotional, more melodic, I need to make this!”
Can you tell us about your early experiences as a DJ and how you got started in the world of DJing?
I started DJing as a freshman in high school. I was running Rock shows at a local hookah bar, and around this time the “teen night” craze was starting to ramp up where I lived. Basically, these were nightclub nights for teenagers – no alcohol, under 21 only. The place I was running Rock shows at, wanted to get in on this, and asked if I could organize and DJ a teen night even though I knew nothing about DJing or anything like it at the time. Of course, I said yes and had to figure out how to DJ pretty fast. That led to me becoming an open format DJ which I’ve done for about 15 years now. Eventually, that took me into being a wedding DJ, which is what I was doing when I decided to start taking music production seriously and started the first of my artist projects.
You’ve mentioned being a fan of Rock and Metal music growing up. How did those genres influence your early productions and mixing style?
It actually was a huge learning curve. The mixing techniques that I knew from being in studios with bands were so different than what I needed to know with EDM. I basically re-learned everything from scratch, learning how to work with synthesized sounds that had been entirely created within a computer as opposed to sounds from real instruments captured with a microphone.
What was the first Electronic music festival or event you ever attended? How did that experience shape your perspective on the genre?
First festival was Electric Zoo, I don’t remember exactly what year but it was the year after they had to cancel the Sunday. It was definitely sensory overload but it just reinforced that this is the music I wanted to make and the types of stages I wanted to play on.
How did you first get involved with producing your own music? Did you have any mentors or did you teach yourself through trial and error?
I was 100% trial and error and YouTube tutorials for the vast majority of my time producing. It wasn’t until I joined the Find Your Harmony roster and had Andrew Rayel kind of step into the mentor role for me that I actually had someone who’d been massively successful as a DJ/producer be able to answer questions I had and help me advance. Before that, it was all me on my own.
You’ve collaborated with big names in the industry like Andrew Rayel and Standerwick. How do these collaborations come about, and what do you enjoy most about working with other artists?
Those two collabs came together very differently. With Andrew, I’d sent him ‘Carry You Home’ as a demo for the label, and he loved it so much that he felt if he could put his touch on it and beef it up a bit, it could do really well, and of course I was down for that. ‘With This Letter’(the Standerwick collab, my manager at the time had sent a demo of it to a contact at Armada. He subsequently passed it to their head of trance A&R who had the idea to get Ian [Standerwick] involved. At the time, Tensteps was only a side project and a hobby, and I’d only self-released one track. So having a label and artist of their respective calibers take interest was a big moment for me, realizing that this was going to be something much more than a side project.
You’ve been producing music for some time now, and you’ve seen the industry change a lot
during that time. What changes have you seen, and how have they impacted your career?
When I started making music, no one would have foreseen streaming. I was making CDs for my bands, selling them in person at shows, social media was in its infancy. When I started my first band, the only social media we had was MySpace. So that’s been the biggest change I think, the shift to digital and the subsequent decrease of hard value on music. Intrinsically, there’s still lots of value – music still aligns with certain memories, certain feelings, certain experiences – but dollar for dollar, the digital shift has certainly devalued it in terms of how much an artist makes from consumption of their music.
What do you hope listeners take away from your music?
I honestly just hope it sparks something in them. All the things I said above, memories, feelings, experiences, I hope it inspires some kind of reaction, preferably a positive one, haha.
Looking back on your journey so far, what advice would you give to aspiring DJs and producers just starting out?
It’s a tough road, and it never stops being tough, but if you’re dedicated enough to it, you’ll find the reasons to keep pushing through and adapting to whatever is thrown your way.
Certainly, Tensteps’ experience and talent have helped his shape his signature sound and style, his releases have put his name higher on the list of DJs to follow as his musical journey is far from finished, we thank Tensteps for taking some time to share his experience so far. Make sure to follow him across social media to be updated on his latest releases and live shows.