When it comes to Monstercat, being a jack of all trades is a point of pride. Among the various genres they promote, Hellberg is one of the foremost authorities in progressive house. Whether he’s making an amazing remix of Whitney Houston or hosting his own short-lived podcast, Hellberg has got the progressive house scene locked down tight.
His most recent track and collaboration with Danyka Nadeau, ‘This Is Forever’, proved to be a wonderful blend of uplifting melodies and chords while still maintaining a heart-pounding 128 bpm. It broke the Top 40 on the Beatport Progressive House chart — not an easy feat considering the sheer amount of amazing producers getting into the genre. This weekend, Hellberg is in Belgium with the rest of the Monstercat crew hitting up TomorrowLand. But before he left, I was able to get him to answer a few questions about Monstercat, favorite vocalists, and how he got his start.
Questions provided by Paige Endykiewicz.
What are the influences behind tracks like Air and This Is Forever?
Well lately I’ve been really inspired by these amazing fantasy art pieces that artists upload on deviantart, I get really inspired by the fantastic work and it’s awesome how these people can create these universes completely different form our own with just color. I wanted to make tracks that captured this fantasy, utopia, ambient feeling but still keeping it house-y. This Is Forever is one of the several tracks that came out of that idea.
Do you feel like social media has a lot more to contribute to a producer’s success now than before?
Well, yes and no. Personally, I love social media and interacting with the people that enjoy my music, it really gives them a chance to know me and the other way around. However it does get competitive, I mean, I’m trying to reach my current fans and gain new fans at the same, like everyone else, and since there are so many producers and acts out there nowadays the competition for those new fans is pretty fierce.
There are a lot of amazing places in the world to tour. Have you ever fantasized about going somewhere special?
I haven’t been to a whole lot of exotic places in my life, mostly kept my vacations within Europe, so I would love to see more of Asia, Australia, Africa and South America! I know that Brazil has some crazy clubs, Australia has Stereosonic, and the Indian crowd seem to go nuts for house and electronic music, so yea, a little bit all over the world I would say haha!
When did you find yourself getting into producing EDM and what caused you to want to be a part of the culture?
I’ve produced EDM ever since I picked up FL Studio, but always on the side. I used to produce a lot of hiphop, but never really felt comfortable in that scene nor in that culture. When I discovered Avicii, SHM, Laidback Luke, Skrillex, etc I knew that this was what I wanted to do and that EDM culture fit me much better; uplifting music, happy crowd, much less hostile than the hiphop-world and the energy you get from the music is insane.
How has working with Monstercat been for you so far and what’s your reason for wanting to work with this label?
Working with Monstercat has been and is great. They’ve grown significantly from the early days and have a big team of talented people. I continue to work with Monstercat because their fans are so dedicated to the label and to the acts that release on the label. I would say that no other EDM label has that many fans that are that committed. I am also good friends with the staff and I know that they work really, really hard for their releases.
What is a hobby you have always wanted to pick up or try outside of EDM?
A few hobbies I’ve tried and/or would love to pursue outside of music is graphic design, video production, light-jockeying and club promoting… Okay so I guess none of those are too far from EDM and music production.. haha
Who has been your favorite producer or vocalist to work with so far and why?
Working with Danyka Nadeau for “This Is Forever” has been awesome. She is a very talented lyricist and has an amazing voice! On the producer end I’m working a lot with a good friend of mine called Rich Edward, and we have some sick stuff coming soon, we have a great chemistry and complement each other really well!
EDM is always growing and changing, and some people have mixed views about going “mainstream”. Do you have any opinions about that you’d like to share?
I’ve never been someone who is against the mainstream, at all. I love pop music, and I really want to do both EDM and pop. I like happy music in general, probably why I gravitate towards house more than any other electronic subgenre. Good music is good music to me, such a cliché quote but being mainstream or not is something I really don’t care about.
What would be your alternative career choice if you decided not to focus on making music? Or do you see yourself always making music?
Right now, I do see myself always making music. But that’s probably because I’m too young to see myself doing anything else. But music is what I live for, what I love, and what I feel that I am meant to do. So even though I probably won’t be DJing all my life, my profession will always be centered on music.
What is your favorite dessert? Everyone has one!
Hmm.. probably pancakes!