Feyln (it’s pronounced ‘Failing’) is a producer based out of Toronto, who has been actively releasing music for about one year. I first came across him in a Discord server somewhere, as he sought a collaborator for a track that I heard, loved and wanted to work on. The collaboration never materialised - typically, never content to rest for a moment, he had moved onto new possibilities before I’d finished my first draft :-) - but I’ve been enjoying his work ever since. In him, I saw someone that was trying to do similar things to me melodically and who shared my love of a well-executed arpeggio!
His most recent release Ptah (Egyptian god of craftsmen and architects, ancient-history fans…) sees Feyln continue his rapid progress into a world of well-crafted melody, tinged with techno, electro-house and progressive influences… You can check the EP out on Spotify below and see for yourself:
In recognition of Feyln’s interest in the technical, we both uploaded our consciousnesses into old, broken computers and left them in an abandoned warehouse to see what happened. Singularity duly achieved, you can listen in awe to the resulting conversation below …
For the less technically adept, a full transcript of our ground-breaking conversation is available below.
SierraOskar: Hi, I’m SierraOskar and I’m here with Feyln … Hello Feyln! It’s pronounced failin’, right?
Feyln: Ahaha ya, or failing! Which ever :P
SO: What’s the story with your alias? What are you failing at?
F: LOL! Well, to be honest I kinda had a really hard time coming up with a name. At first when I first started releasing music I was thinking of going with FELINE as in like a cat and doing a whole cat-centric type of visual … lol, so deadmau5! … but I didn’t feel a personal connection to it. I was going through a hard time personally; trying to figure out what to take in college, dropping out of programs, hating my job at the time at a bank, and not liking where my music was at (still not satisfied with where it is, lol!). I was really reluctant to post any tracks, or get any feedback…
So then I re-evaluated lots of stuff going on in my life and just started to listen to my gut and not care if my decisions would lead to failure. I switched my major to film, quit my soul sucking customer service bank job, and started to work entry level jobs on sets for shows in the locations department. I started to think fuck it, everything sucks in the beginning, everyone has to fail to get where they want to be but at least now I’m headed on a path I want to be on for better or for worse.
… This fail to achieve mentality I started to apply in everyday life I strongly applied to my music. I started not caring about where I was in my songwriting and mixing abilities and finally had the balls to start posting tracks online. I really liked this idea of failing for progress and decided to change my whole alias around this idea of failure, kind of like a self-defense mechanism that if people say I suck I can be like yep your right my name is literally failing lol.
SO: You seem to have some kind of a thing for robots. Please explain.
F: Lol the robot! Well basically when I travelled to Japan last year I came across this poster that I really liked in Shinjuku and took a picture of it. It wasn’t for sale so I couldn’t buy it. When I got back from my trip and was going through my photos I came across the robot head dude (I’ve named him Ion btw) and it was still resonating with me. Then I kinda thought about robots and mechanical failures etc, and just felt attached to the idea that part of me is a mechanically failing human machine, lol.
SO: What’s your background to producing and how long have you been working at it?
F: Well I’ve been involved in music since I was about 14 when I started to play guitar. Growing up my dad got me into lots of music from Michael Jackson to Tool, and my mom got me into house-slash-euro music. I kinda got really into stoner rock and jazz on my own. I did try out the whole band thing and hated it. I never got to play with people who were actually serious about playing as a band I guess? So then in highschool around Grade 12 I got into deadmau5 and that whole vibe and was hooked…
Couple years later I relinked up with a friend from high school who used to DJ and was getting into producing. He showed me Logic Pro and I was mesmerized at the endless possibilities and the best part was I didn’t have to rely on anyone to do this whole music thing. That was about two-and-half-to-three years ago now. Since then I’ve switched to Ableton and started to really dive deeper once I started finishing tracks in December 2017.
SO: You seem to cover a lot of genres, stylistically. Do you aspire to a genre, or do you prefer to stay out of all that?
F: Ummm… nah I kind of feel boxing myself to a style would take the fun out of it. Plus, I listen to all sorts of music so I feel it would be like lying to myself if I stuck myself in a genre box. Don’t get me wrong I usually go by what I’m listening to most of, but the biggest freedom in this music producing thing is that I get to dive into my own world and decide what that world is at that moment.
SO: You’ve mentioned before that the likes of Black Gummy, No Mana, Matt Lange are influences. Are those your main influences? Are there any other key ones in electronic music? What about genres outside electronic?
F: Yeah those mau5trap guys are a pretty big influence on me, but it honestly varies with what I’m listening to that month/week/day. I also really love the stuff on Drumcode, and Kraftek (Pleasurekrafts Label). Kraftek is so fucking fire man. But I’d say that’s like where my techno taste resides. But I like a lot of stuff so let me list off names quick…
Electronic: Flume, Disclosure, Enrico Sanguiliano, Stephen Bodzin, Getter …
Non-electronic: Lots of Nine Inch Nails, Tool, A Perfect Circle, Smashing Pumpkins, RADIOHEAD! I fucking love Radiohead, I’m seeing them for the first-time live tomorrow ☺
SO: What music do you listen to when you’re relaxing?
F: Relaxing I really like to listen to Bonobo. He does downtempo type stuff I guess but I love it because it’s a fusion of electronic instrumentation and live instruments. Honestly I just like a lot of live instrumentation stuff when I’m relaxing. Lots of Miles Davis to Led Zeppelin.
SO: What would you say have been the main breakthroughs for you in your thinking relating to production? Any particular tutorials, comments, or conversations you remember?
F: Oh man … um honestly getting feedback. Nothing has been helping me more than having the courage to be criticized. Who fucking cares if you suck right now, that’s the point: you have to fail to get better and growing some thick skin plus being vulnerable to criticism has been opening lots of doors for me. Getting other peoples opinions on stuff is where I’ve been learning the most, Audio Apostles and other discord chats/websites have been amazing for this. I learned a lot when D.O. gave me some pretty detailed feedback and he’s like hella good and it really did help. Also, Foxhunt’s feedback streams helped too. Honestly the best thing for me are the conversations where anyone who I look up to offers feedback where it rips apart the structure-slash-mix.
One thing though I will say about feedback is knowing how to filter good feedback and bad feedback. This I learned from NomadSIGNAL [NB: check out Feyln & NomadSIGNAL’s collab Third Rule on Spotify] he told me something along the lines of ‘if one person says something about a part of your track that’s opinion, if multiple people are saying the same thing, that’s a legit mixing issue.’ Also, collabs! Collaborations helped with some major breakthroughs, and learning how to finish songs. For tutorials, I am currently doing a course with Production Music Live. They have some really good stuff and the knowledge so far is totally worth the price I paid. Oh and of course the Deadmau5 masterclass, but more so because that’s how I got to be a part of such a cool online community like Audio Apostles.
SO: Let’s talk production workflow. How do you tend to start a track - do you have any templates in your DAW, or do you start from scratch?
F: Um, well I just started using a “template” I guess this month ahaha trippy. Basically, when I open Ableton it boots up with 3 audio tracks, 3 midi tracks and 3 sends to reverb, 2 sends to delays. I’ve been tweaking this as I go along, and I’m not sure if I like it, I usually just start from scratch.
I usually start by writing either the drop idea first or the breakdown idea depending how I feel. For the drop I’ll write like an 8-to-32 bar loop and figure out what kick to use and bass design then kind of just layer stuff. For the breakdown, I start with the chordal structure with just plain old piano-roll and write a lot of stuff just with strings and a piano. Then I bring in the soft synths.
SO: What areas do you tend to find the most challenging in a track? The melody, the drop, percussion, anything else? How do you try to make those parts easier?
F: The hardest parts for me right now are the transitions. Like the little spaces that link the drop to the breakdown or the intro to the verse etc. I notice I’m spending a lot more time on those parts to make it smoother. I’d say that hardest part is still the mixing and mastering. But I’m finding its getting better and better on every track I finish.
SO: You use Ableton, correct? What parts of that DAW do you like and dislike?
F: Yep Baebleton for life. I love it all man, I have no bad things to say.
SO: What are some of your favourite plugins, the ones you turn to time and time again?
F: Serum, Sylenth 1, Arturia Mini V, Fab Filter Pro Q, LFO Tool (although not as much these days), and mostly Abelton stock stuff.
SO: Do you use any hardware in your production? If not, is that something you’re planning to look at?
F: I do record my guitar/bass playing from time to time. Also I have a Korg Volca Keys box that I do mess with but haven’t put into my productions yet. I’m starting to use microphones more now to record my own sounds so that’s definitely a world I’m diving into at the moment. But once I get the cash, the first thing I’m buying is a Roland TR-8 drum machine. It’s just a timeless box and I really love the idea of having all the drums sounds right there already to fiddle with.
SO: What has been your proudest moment so far, in terms of production?
F: Um, I don’t know man, 2018 has been a really good year for me personally. I guess putting together a couple EPs, doing the art work and all of it myself. Just feels good to know I’m following through on what I’m setting out to do with music this year. Also its really nice that people are telling me they like some of my stuff. But I’m not personally satisfied yet, got to keep pushing, lol.
SO: What are your goals and aspirations for 2018? What about longer term?
F: I think 2018 is going great. I told myself I was going to set out to get better at finishing tracks this year and finish a lot of them, which I think I’m following through on. I think I want to keep that going for sure. Also, I told myself I would release something on a label this year, like any label, any type of track so that’s definitely a goal I’ll cross off the list.
As for long term goals, um I don’t know, I haven’t thought too far ahead. I mean I want to just get better really. Would be cool to be able to get some releases on some better well known labels, none specific that come to mind. Whoever digs whatever it is I submit I guess, lol. I also really want to keep improving my visual creation skills which also have been getting way better throughout this year. Maybe even direct a short film that goes along with an EP? That would be tight.
SO: What advice would you give young Feyln when he was just starting out with production?
F: Fuck it dude, just open up the DAW every day! Don’t be afraid to touch buttons, and for god sakes just save a copy of the project so you’re not scared to really mess around! Don’t be afraid to touch everything, and get feedback whereever and whenever you can!
SO: Anything else you’d like to tell people? Any last words of wisdom, or things you want them to know?
F: My name chef.
SO: Thank you for your time Feyln!
F: Thanks buddy this was fun ☺
We’ll be bringing you more on Feyln as and when it happens but for now, you can keep up-to-date with his progress on his social links.