It's been a remarkable year for Brendan Blatt, known in Trance circles as "Factor B". With a slew of Beatport Trance #1's now under his belt and regular appearances on some of the world's biggest festival stages, Factor B is undoubtedly one of the hottest names to emerge onto the scene in recent years. We caught up with this Future Sound of Egypt regular to discover the secrets behind his enviable melodies and to talk sample packs, studio gear and quitting the day job.
Hi Brendan, thanks for taking some time to talk to us! How are you doing?
Very well thanks! Currently back in Aus in the middle of my tour with Gatecrasher!
We heard you've just made the big move from Melbourne, Australia to Amsterdam! Was it all for music? Is Europe the best place to be when chasing a career in Dance music?
Yes, it's no secret, I've always had a love for Europe. I lived in the UK 10 years ago for some time and after experiencing the UK/Euro scene back then, I always knew that if I was going to turn professional with my music career, my home base needed to be somewhere in the EU - (up until early 2017, Brendan was working an office job in Melbourne). Australia is just so far away to be traveling back and forth for shows - so the decision to move was primarily based on music, but the opportunity to potentially settle into full-time Dutch culture was a big attraction! :)
Obviously moving to the other side of the world brings its challenges – have you brought along all your studio gear and built a new one?
Lots of challenges! From finding a suitable place to rent, setting up bank accounts, and registering as a resident to buying a bike (and not having it stolen..again)! But yes, I brought the core of my studio, computer/synths but purchased monitor speakers and keyboards once settled in Amsterdam.
In fact, we'd love to know what equipment you have in the studio – and which piece is indispensable?
Well, I run a custom built 27" Mac - with all top specs. A basic MIDI keyboard which runs a variety of my VST synths as well as my Virus snow hardware synth. As I use a lot of layers and sounds in my productions, I predominantly use my studio headphones to produce as I feel I get a much cleaner interpretation of sounds during the creative process. Once the track is close to completion I switch between various headphones, monitor speakers and any other type of audio device to give myself the best and most broad variation of how it may sound when finalised. My most indispensable piece of equipment is my studio chair! Gotta have a comfy chair for those marathon production sessions!
You're one of the fastest rising stars in Trance at the moment, and it's all happened quite fast. Before we move on to today, let's have a look at your past first. What drove you to Trance and how did you learn to produce your own music?
Quite simply, the melodies. I've always been a huge fan of all sorts of music with melodies - but throw this beautiful energy of kick drums and rolling drums alongside great FX, and I was hooked. What drove me to produce was a pure fascination for the music, I wanted to know how it was made and ultimately developed a desire to want to make my own version of it! I did a short course after I finished school to learn the basics, but taught myself from there.
When would you say was the moment you realised that what you were doing in the studio made sense? And when did you know that this might just lead to an actual career?
I think it all made sense within my first 2 years of learning to produce but I didn't realise the importance of having updated sounds, sound banks and crafty production techniques. YouTube wasn't there to help with production methods and other handy tips like it is now - so it was basically just learning your way around it all yourself. I knew I had the melodies, just not the final production polish across the other elements, but as I learnt, that comes with time. I feel it's those years you battle to polish your sound and never finish tunes that you actually end up creating the unique sound and style of your tracks. Well, that's how it played out for me anyhow. Furthermore, I knew I was onto something that could potentially spawn into a career when some of my favourite artists started supporting my music at live events and would often state on radio shows that I had a very unique sound and style.
So your heritage lies within the classic years of '99, early 2000's. The halcyon days of Trance, really. What's the beauty of those years, and that classic sound, that can't be found in today's scene?
The beauty is in the depth and the subtly of the production. As Solarstone said, "we are in an age of boombastic presets and ready-made producer templates". He's bang on; it's quite easy for producers to put together an average track quickly, but in my opinion, a lot of today's Trance music lacks depth and personalised signature sounds. It's so difficult to produce and mix down Trance tracks with great depth, they take time, persistence, love and dedication. I feel it's during this subtle process where the real emotion is generated. It certainly can be found in today's scene! But I feel more often than not, a lot of producers neglect these important subtleties and just churn the tunes out.
Through your sound, you're kind of reviving that classic, melodic vibe. What's the thing about the Factor B sound that does make it unique and different, do you think? What makes a Factor B production stand out?
I think for me it's about using updated production techniques and sounds that sound better and create more euphoria/energy on the dancefloor. I'm always experimenting with new things but I always try to keep a number of my sounds unique to my productions, it keeps my productions recognisable. I suppose my marathon breakdowns are somewhat of a standout feature of my productions! :)
What's the normal process while creating a Factor B original – do you start off with the melody and build around it?
Absolutely, melody first. And if I don't love it or feel something from it each time I open up the project - it goes in the bin!
What's your DAW of choice and which plugins are your favourite?
I work on Cubase - and I have to say, I don't have one favourite. I use Sylenth1, Spire, Omnisphere, Nexus, various Kontakt libraries etc. but I'm very particular and patient with what sounds I use and then how I sculpt them into my style.
Obviously, we offer our customers sample packs in all different genres. Are there any sample packs you like to use or do you sample a lot of stuff yourself? How do you select sample packs, what's the criteria?
I use a whole variety of sample packs! I've collected many from over the years - I mix and match all the time. I'm big on drums, so I often edit and create my own loops for tracks. I have no formula; I just go with what I feel and try to surprise myself with new ways of making loops.
We applaud you bringing back the melodic and euphoric type of Trance and we love your recent releases such as ‘Sacrosanct', ‘Endless', ‘Luna Therapy' & 'Something Like A Cure'. Did those first successes on big labels like FSOE and Pure Trance bring a lot of pressure to back it up with more and more big anthems, or did you simply continue to do your own thing?
I always have and will always do my own thing, I've said it once and I'll say it again, I believe if you sit down with an intention to write music for a specific label or anyone other than yourself, then you're losing your creative edge. You must stay true to what you love. Yes, I guess they do bring a bit of pressure but I've always felt that I have had the ability to write melodies. The thing I learnt to be most conscious of, is patience. I've worked on tunes for over a month and then scrapped them. When you know, you know, and I think as long as you have the patience to see a track through or be prepared to start afresh, you'll always end up with something you're really proud of releasing.
Which one of your tracks, in particular, gave you the biggest challenge, production wise? And which one was easiest?
All of them were challenges for me, all of them took plenty of time, love, patience and all had their fair shares of ups and downs. But that's what makes them so special to me. They're like children, you watch them grow from nothing to developing over time to be these big complex emotional creatures - so much joy but so much f***ing stress! I'm clearly not ready for children!
Time to wrap it up, but not before we ask you about any upcoming Factor B originals or remixes – which beauties await the Trance community?
Plenty on the way, most of which I can't reveal (surprise surprise). Although, I do have a big collab with a duo that we debuted at Lumi this year coming up soon. That's a super exciting one. I must say, it's funny now because as I have supposedly developed such a 'signature sound and style', it's difficult for me to keep any tracks as ID - people pick them right away! So I'd say, take a listen to my previous sets online and that will give a great indication of what's coming up!