Get Familiar: Styn
Amsterdam is known internationally for being home to some of the best electronic musicians, producers and DJs, one act in mind is Styn. His instrumental abilities have been showcased on tracks from Juice WRLD, Chief Keef, Fredo Santana, IamDDB and Famous Dex. Styn is on top form now as his first album has just been released and we knew it was time to get familiar with one of Holland's most outstanding producers.
How did music first enter your life?
I come from a family where music played a pretty big role, with my dad being a musician and my mom always playing music in the house. My mom told me that when I was in her belly she used to play 'Seal - Kiss from a Rose' to calm me down. Later on, when I was born, she still played this song to get me to sleep. After that, I remember hearing a lot of Stevie Wonder being played around the house. My dad made me a mix-CD when I was about 5 years old. I think that CD included Linkin Park and Eminem. My alarm clock was a radio and it was always on Arrow Classic Rock, so I used to hear a lot of 70s & 80s classics. One of the first things I picked up myself was a Lenny Kravitz CD my mom had.
What is your creative process like?
It depends, I go through phases where I make one genre a lot and then I switch to another genre again. For Hip-Hop and sample-based beats, I mainly browse samples for hours, sometimes days. Playing vinyl, going on some of my favourite Youtube sample channels and recently I started to use Instagram to look for samples. When I make Trap music, I try to make melodies that give me this weird feeling I can't explain. It's like turning my stomach. But in a good way. It's the closest I got to making music that is truly my own sound. Juice WRLD rapped on a couple of those beats & Weiland did as well. While making Trap, I made a lot of melody loops. So now I also sample myself. Sometimes I work with sample loops from other producers too.
Your energy for creation is quite infectious, how do you stay so motivated to create?
I don't really do anything else besides making music. I feel really incomplete if I don't make music for more than a day or 2. So it's almost like an addiction. Most of the time, I try to make stuff that hasn't been made before. The best way to do that is by combining things that haven't been combined before. Like, I made this Baile funk remix of a Chief Keef song the other day.
Or I make remixes of Trap songs with soul-sampled beats. I just want to make refreshing stuff. Sometimes I make one genre for a while and when I get bored I just switch it up to a different genre. This keeps me motivated. Besides that you only got one life to live, so I wanna create as much as possible in my lifetime.
Who did you look up to when you were first working on demos at home?
One of the first beats I made was a remake of 'Cool Kids - I'm Mikey', after that, I remade a lot of Dilla beats, which taught me a lot of tricks that I still use to this day. Other than that I’ve always wanted to make beats like Madlib, Alchemist & 9th wonder. In dubstep, I got inspired by people like Coki, Jakes, Burial & Cluekid.
Who do you usually work on your music with?
Since the first lockdown, I’ve been focusing more on myself, before that I worked with a lot of people in the Dutch scene. But I like working on my own the best. I still work with Ziggy Twiss & Elijah Waters a lot and with other artists from time to time. But this year I've made most of my stuff on my own. After finding out how to get the Acapella from every song imaginable, I don’t always feel the need to work with vocalists.
How do you like to search for music?
If I find a song I like, most of the time I will check out the whole discography of that artist. From there I just check out the featured artists or producers of the songs I like. Backtracking the record labels of songs you like also works. Blogspots and mixes work for that as well. Other than that I follow some Instagram pages that post music that I like. I'm friends with a lot of musicians that put me onto great stuff too.
What journey took you to where you are, in terms of the aesthetics that you appreciate in music?
When I was about 9 or 10 I started to listen to music and put it on my MP3 player. It started with Justin Timberlake - Future Sex Love sounds, which was the first CD I’ve ever bought. I loved the song ''My love'', especially T.I. 's part in that song. From there I started to get into Hip-hop more and I bought a lot of CDs. I started to get into Jay-Z and because of their beefs in the early 00s, I got into Nas. He became my favourite artist and I checked out everything related to him. From there I got into Mobb Deep, Cormega, AZ and other New York rappers.
Musicmeter.nl also played a big role, I checked out the top 50 Hip-hop albums and from there I found out about artists/formations like Little Brother, Slum Village, Lootpack etc. This led me to their producers: 9th Wonder, J Dilla & Madlib. From there I started to check out their Discographies and so on. I basically got obsessed with Hip-hop and I wanted to know everything about it.
In 2008, one of my friends showed me FL Studio and from that point onwards I started making beats every day. I didn't have my own PC back then and I made beats on my mom's computer. My mom's PC had a timeslot on it for 1,5h per day, which made me learn how to make beats really quickly. I also learned how to crack that timeslot, so I could work all day while my mom was working.
In 2009 I heard Dubstep for the first time. I heard 'Cluekid - Halogen' and I fell in love with it. Later I found out about Burial and James Blake, this was considered 'Post-Dubstep' back then. The sound/ambiance of Burial and James Blake inspired me a lot, across all genres. There's nothing to compare that to in my opinion.
Around that time I also got into Garage, Juke, and Jungle. I love the rawness of those genres. That's what I love most about music in general; the rawness. I don't like music that's near 'perfect' or extremely overproduced. Music is about capturing a moment in time for me. If you overproduce something, that feeling disappears.
We first discovered you through your productions and then as a DJ, how would you define the two activities and how do they meld together in your career?
Producing is where it all started for me. This is still my main creative outlet.
I started DJing because I started to get bigger in the Dubstep scene back in 2011. People wanted to book me but I didn't know how to DJ. I bought this weird rack-mount dual CD player on marktplaats and I tried to mix on that. It only had a play and cue button and no jog wheel, so you had to press play at the perfect time to mix it in correctly. It was really hard to work with but I think it made me a better DJ in the end.
Around 2013/14 I started to get a lot of bookings internationally for Dubstep and I played a lot in the club NYX on Thursdays. I was making bubbling edits of Trap songs that were popping up back then. Now I see DJing more as something to have fun with and as a medium to play out my own music. I like to make remixes and edits, especially for DJ sets, so I can play music out that nobody else has.
Dubstep or Trap?
Trap. I still love dubstep, but it hasn't been the same as when I first got into it. I still listen to the 2004-2010 stuff from time to time. I kinda have the same with Trap, but there's still more recent stuff that I enjoy. More than with Dubstep.
What is special about the scene in the Netherlands to you?
There's always a lot of innovation going on here. Especially in Electronic music. The Netherlands is relatively early with exploring new genres.
What do you get up to when you're not playing out?
Being in the studio making music.
How were the lockdowns for you as a musician?
I can't lie, at first I kinda enjoyed it. The whole lockdown thing was kind of how I was living already before that. Just being in the studio creating. At some point, it did mess with my creativity, because nothing was going on that inspired me. This made me turn inwards and go back to making the music I started with. During this period, I created my album that is coming out.
What does the rest of the year look like for you?
I released my first album 'Ordo Ab Chao' on May 27th. This is my first album in the sound that I started with; Soul sample infused Hip-hop beats. It features some of my all-time favourite artists like Lil B, Tha god Fahim, T3 of Slum Village & El da sensei of Artifacts. After that, I am going to release more albums in that style/sound. I’ve also got another beat tape ready, which is also soul samples only.
Besides that, I've been making a lot of Electronic music lately. Juke, Jungle, Garage, House and fusions are in between these genres. I want to get some of that stuff out there as well. This year I want to drop a lot of music. About that, I want to DJ more this year, I missed playing in clubs and just DJing in general.