Talking With Fehrplay [Part 1]: Software, Inspirations, and Roots in Manchester

January 9, 2015 -


Fehrplay is in a league of his own when it comes to producing progressive house. His music is spiritual in ways that make you dance, and ethereal in ways that make you appreciate his subtle complexity in synthesizing sound. When I realized that Jonas was playing in New York—an intimate set at Marquee nonetheless—I knew it was something I had to see, but I didn't know what to expect. What I saw, and what I experienced, solidified Fehrplay as not only one of my top producers of 2015, but as a genuine guy with an amazing management team. After his three hour set, which was unforgettable in its own right—beautifully evolving from progressive house to hypnotic techno through the night—Jonas and I discussed his experience in electronic music and reminisced about UK dance culture. This is the first half of my discussion with Jonas:


Batch: If you could sit across from eighteen-year-old Jonas right now, with all the current knowledge you have, what advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell myself to not be so naïve. Everyone is in the beginning; It’s a learning curve, and I’m sure I’m going to look back in five years and think, “Ah shit, what an idiot I was.” But it’s all about thinking hard about choices. Sometimes—in the begging at least—as soon as I got an opportunity I was all about going straight for it. Sometimes it didn’t turn out good. And you learn from that.

Batch: What software did you start out on?

I was always into music as a kid, and I would hear tracks where I was like, “Ah, I can do something like this.” When I was twelve, I started out on something called eJay—it was a very cool software where you were represented a lot of small samples, and you had a sequencer, and you dragged the bars on to the sequencer and made loop and tracks out of that. I don’t think there were any effects or anything; everything was samples, but back then it wasn’t that important. I started making music on that software, and then went over to Magix music maker, and then Fruity Loops for a couple years, then Reason, which I stayed with for about five years, and I still love it. And then I went over to Logic which I’m working with now.

Batch: Do you mix and master as you go?

Yes. If you deliver something to a label, you want to get a track mastered first, whether it’s your own master or from someone else. Getting someone else is good because then you get that person’s opinion on it in a different listening environment. You have to find the right mastering engineer for your sound; I’ve found my go to guy, but when I try stuff out in clubs, I do the mastering myself, I mix everything myself. I think its an important part of being a producer that you mix your tracks yourself. There’s all this talk about ghost producers; and I think there’s a thin line between what’s been ghost produced and what hasn't. You can make good melodies, then go to someone who will mix it for you, and I think that’s kind of the same as ghost producing, because every producer has their own sound. It’s hard to get it sounding like you want, but it’s worth the effort.

Batch: What’s your favorite sample pack? Do you synthesize your own sounds?

I kind of fell off Deadmau5’s XFER pack a bit. The samples are bad resolution I think. It just doesn’t sound as good. I’ve synthesized sounds for a while. And used some cool drum machine plug ins. I sold my synthesizer now though, cause I’m getting the new Moog. It’s amazing. Incredible bass sounds, and on this one you can layer sounds.

Batch: Do you need to be in the studio to produce?

I do prefer having a full studio setup, but sometimes traveling can help inspire the creative part; you have your headphones and your laptop and that’s all you need. I could never finish a track on the laptop though. I’ve tried that many times and failed. You think it sounds good in your headphones, but then the bass levels are completly off. You need studio monitors to really get that bass right. Creativity wise, it’s good to go around traveling though, just sit on the subway, in a café, and get inspired.

Batch: Who are your biggest inspirations?

Right now I need to give it to Maceo Plex. Even though it’s not the sound I’m doing specifically, but it’s his consistency and creativity. He keeps pushing himself to be better and better. It’s amazing to see. And obviously Eric, he’s always good.

Batch: The techno in your sets is incredible—do you get any inspiration from Gesaffelstein?

I don’t really listen to his stuff that much—it’s a bit too electro for me—but even saying that, I feel like I shouldn’t be saying anything because I haven’t properly listened to his stuff for a while. I should give it more listens. There are just so many good artists to listen to these days you know.

Batch: Tell us about your experience in Manchester.

I’ve got to say that I learned a lot at uni, but I learned much more from just living in England. It’s such an amazing country. The best dance music culture in the world, in my opinion. I haven’t lived all over the place yet, but I was just blown away by how melted into the culture electronic dance music was. In Norway I used to listen to all those DJ’s but I had never gone to a club that represented that kind of music. I studied in Manchester, dropped out from the last year, got an apartment, then just produced and went clubbing for a year. After that I moved to London with my girlfriend and lived there for three years, and that was amazing as well, but Manchester has some of the best clubs with the rawest and grimy atmosphere that I think a real underground club should have.

Batch: I’ve always been curious—what makes the club scene in Manchester and northern England so good?

I think that part of the club scene in the UK started in Manchester, in a place called Hacienda. Which participated in making the UK one of the best rave countries early on. But in general, I think it’s because they are fucking nuts, haha. Honestly though, its hard to put a finger on why exactly it is how it is. They work hard and they play hard I guess. That’s kind of the UK mentality. I remember reading tweets from DJs in the early days and they all said the same: Manchester, you people are crazy. Everyone said the same thing.


Stay tuned, part 2 is coming tomorrow. In the meantime, check out one of my favorite sets: Secret Session #1 with Fehrplay and Jeremy Olander.



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