It’s rare nowadays to find DJs who vocalize their legitimate frustrations with the music industry. It’s even more rare to find artists who openly defy expectations and seek to be more than a carbon-copy DJ aiming for a quality spot on the DJ Mag Top 100 list.
Enter Tyson, aka TyDi, a classically trained DJ/Producer from Australia. Far from the standard DJ, TyDi has built a formidable career producing tracks of various styles full of emotion. His latest album “ReDefined” promises to be unlike anything dance music fans have ever heard, as each track is completely different from the ones alongside it. Last week I had a chance to sit down for an extensive interview with TyDi, which you can read in full below:
Your new album “ReDefined” took almost 3 years to make. What was the most difficult part about making an album over such a long period of time?
Well that’s the thing, it was actually less difficult to do because of the process. I think with a lot of the albums these days an artist will make a few singles and then try to slam an album together in 6 months and 90% of the tracks are fillers and there’s a few main singles. For me, I didn’t want this album to be like that. I wanted every song to be strong and every song to be true, and that’s why I wrote it over such a long time. I started with about 300 songs and got it down to the 20 that are on the album. And when you write that many tracks and you narrow it down to 20 that’s really where the difficulty is, especially when you’re doing all this work while touring. I like to think that none of the tracks are fillers, they’re all very strong.
So how hard is it to narrow 300 tracks into just 20? Do you have certain criteria or a process for selecting the best tracks?
Well when I say I wrote 300 tracks over 3 years, it doesn’t mean I actually finished all of them. The way I write music is I start on guitar or piano and a vocalist and I come up with a concept. And before I even know what the productions are like – whether it’s a chill song or a dance track – I focus on the song writing first. So when it came to the final year of writing all this music, I went through all these songs and had enough time to work out which ones connected with me the most and then I started producing them all.
What’s your cure for overcoming creative blocks?
It’s just to walk away really. If I get in the studio and I find after an hour that I’m frustrated or not enjoying the process it’s best just to separate myself from it. I don’t think good music can be forced, not for me anyway. I know there are people out there who can sit down and write good music day in and day out and they’re incredible musicians. But for me, I write when I feel like it. So if I’m in a sudden mood or if I’ve had a bottle of wine and it’s 2am and an idea pops into my head, I might run into the studio and work on it. If I’m in the studio I’ll write out some chords on my keyboard, laptop, whatever’s around then write the concept on paper. I mean, you never know when a good idea is going to come, but if I ever get writer’s block the best thing to do it just detach myself from it.
What song off Redefined surprised you the most once it was finished?
Probably “Racing Kites”. No track on “ReDefined” sounds like any other. Nearly every track is a different style or technique. “Racing Kites” is the most pop track on the album and it’s surprising because when people hear pop, they immediately think of a cheesy radio hit. I mean, it could be a radio track, it could be something you hear Ariana Grande or Katy Perry singing. And it’s a pop track with class. The story of it lyrically and the concept is quite clever. It wasn’t actually going to be on the album. When I wrote it, I was working with my friend in Australia and we were writing it for someone else; not as like a ghost producer but sometimes I write tracks for other people just because I’m a songwriter. So we wrote it and it started to become more and more true and decided to just keep it for myself even though it sounds nothing like you’d expect to come from me. That one will surprise people in both a good and a bad way. Some people will go, ‘wow that’s a sell out pop track’ but to me, the definition of selling out is when you write something that you hate for the sake of making money.
You’ve been very vocal about your dislike for certain aspects of the industry, especially big room house. Do you think the current rise of Deep house will fall into the same repetitive cycle now that’s it’s taking over the Beatport charts?
I’m not really sure to be honest. I think when a track or a style becomes popular, you get a bunch of average producers all copying the same sound. So if it’s taking over the charts then I’m sure you’re going to get thousands of kids who don’t know how to write a track, who don’t know the difference between a chord and a melody but they’ll have access to the same tools to put together the same drums and bass lines and you’ll end up with thousands of tracks that sound the same. But that’s unfortunately what happens with any genre of music that gets a massive wave of popularity.
If there was one thing you could change about the music industry, what would it be?
I always beg for more creativity. Take for example Martin Garrix’s “Animals”. He was the first one to make a track like that. I loved that record. I played that record in my sets when it first came out. But I loved it because it was the first track in a completely different style than people had ever heard. The simplicity was quite genius and I think Martin did an amazing thing there. What annoys me is that you then get 200 new tracks from kids who think they can do the exact same thing. So all I ask is that when someone does something good, don’t do it again. Keep writing new stuff; keep being original.
Speaking of creativity and fresh acts, who are some new producers we should be on the lookout for?
Someone called it “Tropical House” the other day. I’m not sure if it’s the actual name of this new genre but it’s so awesome. It’s chill dance music with this summertime feel. I think Tropical House is the best name for it. I don’t know who invented it but I hope they keep doing it because there are some amazing tracks coming from it. Producers themselves? BT is always reinventing himself, Zedd is always putting out good music, but I can name a million producers that are putting out great music. For me, it’s whoever is breaking new ground at the moment.
You’re a solo act, but who is one person you’d love to do a b2b set with?
Probably BT. I spoke to him about it a while ago. Maybe him since we’ve done a few tracks together. Or maybe someone completely different like Richie Hawtin or Steve Lawler. That would test me out to have someone who’s quiet and eclectic because I’m all over the place when I DJ. It would be interesting to be put with someone who has such a definite style.
Do you have any regrets in your career so far? And if so, what would you have done differently to change them?
It’s always hard to regret the decisions you’ve made as a musician because at the time it’s exactly what you wanted to do or write. But I probably regret locking myself into a genre so early in my career. Though I really couldn’t help that. When I first started out I was really sticking to a particular style and I branded myself into a certain home and these days I’ve really broken out of that and rebranded myself as a songwriter and producer. And then you get an album like “Redefined” and you don’t know what to expect. And I wish I had done that from the start; I wish I was always a songwriter and producer so I could switch between making a chillout track or a house track or a trance track. I wish I was more open minded back at the start.
But do you think you would have found any success? Four years ago you HAD to have a label, and if you didn’t they’d put you in a box anyway.
Well yeah, that’s a good point as well. So maybe moving to America? I could have moved earlier. I’ve only been here for 7 months, but maybe if I moved here 2 years ago and had the chance to work with all these people I worked with earlier in my career. It’s hard to say, you need a time machine for this question! (laughs)
You’ve been on some pretty wild adventures lately. What’s on your bucket list?
I would love to do something in my life completely separate from music, maybe in the field of science. I’m a huge nerd for physics. If I had a second shot, there are two things I wish I did. When I was younger I wanted to be a drummer in a rock band, and I still have this Blink 182 tattoo on my wrist.
Well you’re pretty close! You worked with Dashboard Confessional on the track “The Closer I Get”, maybe you can get them to teach you how to play drums and make it happen!
Well that’s from my angsty teen years when I listened to Taking Back Sunday. I mean I still do I’m not gonna lie. My inspiration for songwriting comes from when I was younger and I think lyrically and story wise that’s come out a lot in the new album. That’s why I wrote with Dashboard and Jordan from The Ready Set on a song. I sat down with a lot of bands and a lot of the tracks for “ReDefined” were done in a completely different fashion.
It sounds like “Redefined” could serve as a bridge that helps unite people who love rock that maybe don’t love EDM because they never had a reason to listen to it before.
I think dance music just needs more songwriting, more lyrics with meaning.
Wait, you mean you don’t like people who go, “Put your fucking hands up!?”
“Put your fucking hands up” and then countdown and then yell a word like, “hovercraft” right before the track drops (laughs). I’d like to hear lyrics with meaning. And yeah, it’s a personal taste, but I’ve gone out and done a set of bangers and lost my shit and loved it but I couldn’t do it constantly. I love music that tells a story, that has emotion and meaning to it.
“ReDefined” is currently available on iTunes. Listen to the first track of the album “Somebody For Me” ft. Cameron Forbes here: