Australian producer tyDi aka Tyson Illingworth has done some pretty big things in his young career. From joining Armin Van Buuren’s Armada label at just 17 to becoming Austalia’s number 1 dj two years in a row in 2008 and 2009, becoming the youngest winner of this award! With already four albums and plenty of singles and remixes under his belt, tyDi just released his fifth album, ReDefined, earlier in September and the response has been huge. We had a chance to catch up with him and talk all things tyDi, here is how it went:
Techibeats: Your new album is called ReDefined, what does that specifically mean to you?
tyDi: I really view this album as the start of my career; I spent the last three years working on ReDefined with the end goal to make an album that is intelligent, extremely diverse, well written and timeless. Electronic music has been getting so ‘dumbed down’ as this whole EDM bubble blew up, I was starting to feel like all the musicality and songwriting in electronica has been eroded away, the intellectual integrity was lacking. So this album was my response, I wanted it put the songwriting and emotion back into ‘EDM’ (although the whole album isn’t dance). So ReDefined is just that, it’s me reinventing myself and creating an album that I truly believed in. There’s 20 tracks on the album which is quite a lot, but it was the only way I could get my love for diversity in production across in a single project.
TB: With this new album, ReDefined, did you have a different approach than previous releases. How long were you working on it for?
tyDi: Three years went into making this album, I worked with so many incredible artists throughout the process. I probably wrote close to 300 songs that were eventually filtered down into the final 20 that make up ReDefined. I approached this album in the same sense a band would, I sat in the room with different artists and we came up with concepts, stories, lyrics, then the melodies and structure came later. The last step was the production, so I had ‘songs’ written before I even knew what genre the song would end up being. A lot of dance producers these days just make a quick ‘beat’ and then send it via email for someone to write to, I wanted this album to be true, something I could call my own – so I worked very closely with the vocalists.
TB: How does your music background affect your production process?
tyDi: I have a bachelors degree in music, it’s certainly helped with conveying emotions through music, knowing theory always helps. Music is a language, the better you understand it, the more articulate and creative you can be.
TB: We noticed that every track on your album has vocals, was there any reason behind doing that?
tyDi: Yes, because ReDefined is about songwriting, every song has a story and a concept. Then all together the album itself tells a story of something bigger, each song represents different parts of my life over the last three years. It’s like I’ve captured the ‘soundtrack’ to three years of my life and put it all into one album. I’m a he fan of vocals, I like how you can use music to really bring out the emotion of what the lyrics are saying.
TB: How did you come about selecting each vocalist/collaborator on each track, who was your favorite to work with?
tyDi: It was a natural process, I met so many talented people through my career. I was thrown into a world of creativity and choosing what songs and vocalists to use was just a method of trial, error and knowing what’s best for the concept of each song. I can’t pick favourites here, one thing I can say though is that it was very life changing to work with Chris from Dashboard Confessional. I was listening to his songs when I was 17 and making out with girls in cars! So many songs by Chris (Dashboard) are nostalgic to me, I never thought I’d even meet the guy let alone work with him!
TB: With your crazy touring schedule, how are you able to complete and master such amazing scores of music?
tyDi: I don’t really have any social life outside of music, that’s how! I tour, write, tour write (repeat) and occasionally party 😉 My life is quite literally all about music, so there’s plenty of time.
TB: ‘Goin Solar’ has a completely different sound than the other melodic pieces on the album such as ‘ReDefined’, how do you think being such a versatile producer has helped your career?
tyDi: I’m not sure if it has helped me or delayed my success – one thing about being successful as an artist is to have a ‘sound’ that fans can recognise. When you think of your favourite bands or DJ’s you can almost immediately think of the ‘genre’ that they are attached to. I never really did that, I just created whatever my heart desired, so from a branding perspective it’s been hard – but as an artist it’s extremely liberating. I’m not boxed in by labels.
TB: We have noticed that a bunch of your music starts off with an intro piano or guitar or even both, which one would you say has the most influence on how a track is going to sound overall?
tyDi: There’s a lot of real instruments on the album, I play piano, tracked live strings, guitars..etc. Most of the songs started with me playing piano at home or with a vocalist, but eventually I switched out parts for different instruments. It all just came down to what worked best for each song.
TB: And for a question not about the album, what part if any, did you have in the creation of the acoustic version of your song “Vanilla” on Armada acoustic sessions?
tyDi: I actually didn’t have any part in the acoustic version – Tania Zygar (the vocalist) went ahead and made that one for Armada.
Interview by Jeffrey Hsaio