MAKJ & Thomas Newson - Black [Protocol]
Livesets: Tomorrowland 2013
Hi Guys! How are you both doing? We’re doing great, thanks! We just released our track ‘Heartbeat’ together with the brilliant vocalist Collin McLoughlin, and we’re very happy with the response we got so far.
For those who don't know you, could you tell us a bit about yourselves? We are Ruben and Victor, better known as Vicetone! We’re 21 and 20 years old, live in Groningen (The Netherlands) and we make our own style of house music.
To be honest, I have never heard of you a year ago, and now I see you guys everywhere on the internet with the most beautiful tracks! Congrats on this success guys! How did you experience this year yourselves? Thank you! The last few months have been great and our music is spreading at a pretty fast rate. We’re working really hard every day to make new music that we are happy with, so to see how many plays our tracks get (almost at 2 million plays on Soundcloud right now) is really amazing. We didn’t expect it to take off so fast, and we have a lot of new stuff coming out that we’re really excited about. So stay tuned, the best is yet to come!
How did you guys meet each other? Did you knew at the very first time you would be ending up as a DJ/Producers duo? We’ve been great friends since we’re about 15, when we first met in high school. We had a similar taste in music and right away we shared a lot of the same music that we listened to back then. We actually pissed off a lot of teachers by not paying attention and just listening to music during class every day. Since then our tastes evolved over the years and right now we have very similar ideas as to how we want our music to sound. We work really great in the studio together, but we didn’t expect it to take off this fast.
Can you tell us the story about how you guys started your Facebook page in May 2012 and got almost 100.000 likes in less than a year? What is your secret? Hard work! We make music every single day and work really hard to get our tracks sounding as good and detailed as possible. If we take so much as a day off, we feel like we’re slacking, and I think we only took 2 or 3 days off so far in 2013, because one of us had to do something else that day. A lot of time and effort goes into the making of each track, even the ones we release for free. People like free music, especially when they think it’s good, and our music has been spreading a lot the last few months, as 4 of our tracks have over 200.000 plays on SoundCloud alone. We’re lucky to have the big guys like Hardwell and Nicky Romero playing out our tunes consistently as well, which helps us with exposure, and we’re lucky with such great fans that really go out of their way to spread our music and share it with their friends. If you are one of those fans reading this – we love you! ϑ
Can we expect something special when reaching the 100.000 likes barrier? Maybe… keep your eye out on our Facebook!
You released your remix for Youngblood Hawke - We Come Running as a free download, but Universal asked you to make it an official remix. Did you at first think it was weird for such a huge label to release a remix that is already out on the internet everywhere? Definitely, we never expected that to happen, especially considering the track was already available as a free download before that time. But when it did, we felt really happy, since it was our first ever official release! To release your first track on one the biggest labels in the world, in a remix package alongside Tiesto, is really cool, and we definitely didn’t anticipate it happening!
You made a guestmix for us in October, thanks for that! How important have music blogs been for your success? We have been focusing a lot on blogs since we started out and they’ve been very important in sharing and spreading our music. We’re very happy to see all the blogs posting our music frequently and it's so nice to see that, because of them reviewing our tracks, new people are discovering our music every day.
Have you already had some collaboration requests from big names in the scene? We’re working on a couple of collabs right now that we’re very excited about. Stay tuned for more information soon!
Your focus has been on remixing familiar tracks and turn it into your own Vicetone style and give it away for free. Will you still focus on giving tracks away for free in the future, or do you want to release more originals via record labels. We want to do a bit of everything. If the last few months have told us anything, it’s that you can achieve a great deal with free releases and spreading music through the blogs, social media and the internet, and that people respect good music that is free. However, we are also going to release originals and remixes in the future on labels. We hope that fans will appreciate our Beatport releases just as they appreciate our free releases, and continue to support as even when it’s not free. We’re definitely going to release music through labels, but we aren’t planning on stopping free downloads all together! How important is your manager for your success? What does he arrange for you? We have a management team actually, that is located in the USA. Since we live in The Netherlands, this often raises questions, such as how it works out, if the time difference isn’t annoying, etcetera. The truth is that we had those same concerns when we just started, but we signed with a very short term initially, so there was little harm in trying it out. We’re very happy that we did, because our management is very involved and works just as hard as we do to get our music out there. Basically they do everything – emails, contacts with blogs, labels and industry people, and do things that just distract us from making music. All we want to focus on is making music, and our management makes sure that we can do that without worrying about other stuff too much.
I couldn't find any places where you've been playing gigs, in the Netherlands and internationally. Does this have a specific reason, because as I can see on your Facebookpage, you guys could play everywhere in the world right now? We have signed to CAA recently, which is one of the biggest booking agencies in the world, and we are currently working with our booking agent to set up tours around the world. It takes a bit of planning before we announce anything, but you can be sure that we will be playing a lot of international gigs this year. We’re also working on getting our American Visa’s sorted out, and as soon as we have those, we can finally go to the United States to play there! There has been a lot of interest for us to play in the USA by fans and promoters, so we cannot wait to finally go there!
How is it to work with each other in the studio? Is there a big difference in qualities between the both of you? Is one guy the melody man and the other the master of the beats for example? It’s seamless, we work really well together in the studio. There aren’t any big differences in quality actually, and that’s what makes us work together really well. We know the technical aspects of producing equally well, and we always switch up on the melodies and chord progressions – it’s really 50-50 most of the time and that’s what makes this so much fun.
Did or do you practice instruments? If so, which one? And did you followed lessons for this? I can imagine you need to have knowhow of music theory to work with vocals and melodies like yours. Ruben had piano lessons for only a couple of months, and Victor had none, but honestly it didn’t make a huge difference in making our melodies. I (Ruben) don’t make ‘better’ melodies than Victor does, or vice versa - the great thing is that our way of making melodies is different, and thus the melodies we produce are different. That’s what makes our collaboration so much fun. A lot of the times, the melody that we have in our tracks is based on something that we hear playing in our heads, a sudden moment inspiration. You cannot learn this in piano lessons and if anything, those lessons made me learn to play the piano better technically, but not how to compose my own melodies and chords better. We both have a good understanding of music theory that we taught ourselves though, and that definitely helps with composing your own melodies and chords. All our knowledge of both the creative and technical aspect of music production is completely self-taught, we don’t have a mentor or went to school to study this. But overall, composing melodies and chords really comes from within, as cheesy as it may sound.
What do you want to achieve in your lives, on musical and personal ground? We want to take our music all the way, and hopefully do this for a very long time to come. We absolutely love what we do, and we aren’t planning on stopping anytime soon. In the long run, we also want to start our own label, that has been a dream of us for a long time. In the short run – it’s touring, making a lot more music and traveling the world while doing it!
Are you busy with your music career all the time or do you have a job or study? We do it full time, we both quit (or rather paused) or studies to do this full time. We’re still fairly young being in our early twenties, and since this is the only thing in life that we really want to do, we are devoting all of our time and energy into it.
Could you give one great tip for all the talented producers who visit exQlusiv.com? Work your ass off! It’s extremely hard to get noticed these days, with thousands of other producers putting their music online every day. Don’t be afraid to try something new, and make sure your quality is very high before you start sending it out to blogs and DJs. Compare your music to that of professional tracks – if it sounds considerably worse, analyze their tracks and improve your mixing. We believe that technical producing is something anybody can get better in the more time and money they spend on it – it’s all about hard work, and translating the ideas in your head to a fully finished track. It takes a LOT of work, time and energy, but it will all be worth it in the end.
Livesets: Tomorrowland 2013