ArtistMap member Insical talks about his artist journey and what helps him achieve the work-life and creative balance. He also shares insights on his music production approach.
How did you get your start with wanting to produce electronic music and DJing?
I’ve been involved with electronic music since I can remember. I guess it all started when my uncle gave me a tape with Goa-Trance on it and it blew my mind. I also started getting into euro electronic acts like The Prodigy and Chemical Brothers at an early age, and then as soon as I discovered that I could use computers to make this kind of music I was forever captivated.
DJing definitely came a lot later and as an extension of what I was already doing. In the past I found myself doing entire sets with just tracks I had made until I realized that DJing was a lot more than just showing off your productions and more about curating an interesting track selection.
Your full-time job requires a lot, and we mean A LOT of creativity. For those who don’t know can you tell us a little bit about what you do when you’re not in the studio?
Out of the studio I try to spend time learning small hobbies. I recently got into meditation and that has helped me immensely. Before the lockdown, I was going to the gym, which was amazing, but now not so much hahaha. I also have been learning about cryptocurrency and finance in general, which has shifted the way I manage my money for the better. I believe that you need to have hobbies that not also enrich you as a person but create other avenues of creativity or business. Which in turn can help you achieve goals as a music artist.
Burnout is real. There are countless artists out there working one, two sometimes even three jobs while still pursuing their artistic passion. It’s not even about the number of jobs but the energy it can take from a person. What kind of boundaries have you set to help you in your own creative projects and artist journey?
For someone in my case, who works with audio on a daily basis, weekends are precious. Your ears need rest! And if you work for 8h doing audio you can’t go home and blast your ears some more. I take advantage of the days that I’m less busy at my day job to write little music parts or sound design. I’ve even finished full tracks at work when nobody is looking. ;) Managing your time is crucial. You can get a lot done on your free days. But you also have to set time aside to recharge and do things that make you happy. It’s hard to strike a balance for sure. And for people who are working jobs not related to music, the same thing applies. Treat weekends like second workdays for your music career. And if you can muster working one job and going home to make music then that’s what you gotta do!
Is there a workflow you follow when it comes to your productions?
It can vary. Sometimes I’ll start with things I had saved in the past. Like little ideas or sound design pieces. Sometimes I’ll use loops or samples and heavily process them until something unique comes about. Sometimes I do everything from scratch. But if I’m working on a remix, for example, I do try to create as much out of what I’m given. I love modifying audio and sound design in general.
Self-promotion. I’ve never been hugely fond of social media and the responsibility that comes with being an artist was something I wasn’t aware of or prepared for. That’s something that my move to LA helped with a lot.
Recognizing areas of growth and stepping outside of your comfort zone
You’ve spent hours honing your craft and it shows. Techno heavyweights Charlotte de Witte and Enrico Sagiuliano gave it some love. What did you feel when you woke up to the news?
It was absolutely surreal. I could not believe that my first Techno release would just be picked up by two big DJs like that. I was ecstatic to hear the news. Incredible.
What were you thinking when creating “Rift” (record + EP), and what intention do you set out with when you start on projects?
I wrote these tracks during my second year of living in LA while I was going through some internal battles. I did a lot of it at my day job, curiously. I wanted this EP to represent both a story of change and adaptation and also mark a more of a chill style as my humble entry into the scene. But it was mostly a set of experiments that went well and made sense when put together. I’m very thankful for the response it’s gotten.
What’s been one of the most challenging aspects of your artist path?
Self-promotion. I’ve never been hugely fond of social media and the responsibility that comes with being an artist was something I wasn’t aware of or prepared for. That’s something that my move to LA helped with a lot. Having a better understanding of the scene and having guidance from the right people has definitely made me understand the process better as well as understanding the need for a solid plan.
Spend as much time as humanly possible making music. I genuinely believe that the more you do the better you get.
Practice makes progress
What’s your ultimate goal as an artist?
I just want to be able to play good music. I want to give people experiences of positivity and connection through music. And hopefully in a groundbreaking way. Especially live! Maybe one day I’ll have a live show with synchronized visuals that can really create a surreal audiovisual experience…
Are there any releases on the horizon?
I’ve got a few ideas in mind on where to go next as far as originals but nothing concrete yet, I’m afraid. I really want my next release to be something meaningful. I am working on some remixes, though, so there will be some news on that soon. That’s definitely something I want to be focusing on in the near future.
Anything else you’d like to share with aspiring artists?
Spend as much time as humanly possible making music. I genuinely believe that the more you do the better you get. And the other thing you learn is to detach yourself from your work, not too much, but enough to know when something isn’t working or when it’s finished and it’s time to move on.
Finish tracks. As many as possible. Making 9 shitty tracks will yield a very good 1 at some point. And then it will become second nature and the good ones will come out more frequently. Eventually, you’ll be able to fully express yourself effortlessly.
Engineer, composer, producer, and DJ, Insical (Miguel Azevedo) has a mysterious background, coming from the distant outdoor raves of Portugal, where he grew up until he was 19 years old. From the basements and clubs of London, he spent six years studying and absorbing all the electronic music culture he could to perfect his craft.
Insical has several years of experience as a dance music connoisseur and sound designer. His work includes collaborations with several artists such as Rabbit in the Moon and Gunslinger. He currently lives in California working as a full-time composer, engineer and also creates audio and music content for Insomniac Events’ media department.