What’s next after a ghost producer realizes that they should be the ones on stage, rather than the producers they’re making music for? They go solo. Such is the case with new Armada-signee HIDDN, who just recently put out his very own debut single with Beatrich, called “Find You.”
Given such an opportunity, we shot some questions over to HIDDN about the ghost producer process and how he got started in it, as well as a tough question about how ghost production affects legitimacy in EDM production overall. Listen to “Find You” below and read on for our exclusive interview.
How did you first get into ghost producing? Were you producing and releasing on your own, and someone approached you? Or did you see a listing from someone looking for production?
I used to spend time with some Belgian Dj’s that played in the biggest clubs and festivals in Belgium and I naturally started producing as Ghost for some of them. Things got bigger when one of these DJ’s introduced me with a famous Ghost producer from Holland, who produced and finalized the sounds for some of the DJ’s who placed in the DJ Mag Top 100. For me it was really an opportunity to be able to go to Holland and eventually produce for globally known DJ’s. I sent some demos and everything went fast! Within a week I had packed my bags to Holland.
Is it as simple as someone “ordering” a track like they would a food item in a drive thru, or is there at least some kind of input from the purchaser in the transaction?
There have been times that I did ghost productions for some European DJ’s I met online and all the communication was via the internet where I never even met the DJ concerned. However, in Holland, I was working from Monday to Friday to create some drops/verses ideas, then to propose them to my boss , who was in direct contact with the DJ’s. He was playing the demos for the DJ’s or he was emailing them my demos, and once they approved my ideas, they just needed a good mix and mastering.
Do you ever feel like you’ve made something so good, you wish you could release it yourself?
To be honest, I had this feeling for most of my ghost productions but I did not really have a choice because I was in a very delicate financial situation. When I went to Holland, I did not have a penny in my pocket, so I had to earn my living this way. I cohabited with people I did not know, made small jobs here and there.
Do you feel like ghost production is degrading a sort of legitimacy to EDM production?
No, I personally don’t think that it’s degrading a legitimacy of EDM production. Like in every job, politics or any other job, you have the “hidden parts” that nobody knows. All the details happening behind the artist have to be done discretely; it’s a kind of law. I simply think that a lot of excellent DJ’s wanted to go one step further in their job and thus tried to work with ghost producers to add something to their career. It doesn’t mean they’re not good in what they’re doing or that that they don’t deserve where they are today.
We know that you can’t name the artists you’ve ghost produced for, but you must know some dirty little secrets being in that side of the business. Let’s say, of the DJ Mag Top 100 this year, how many have used ghost producers for their songs?
It is certain fact that every year several DJs of the DJ Mag top 100 have collaborated with ghost producers and this was certainly the case this year too. It is a widespread and common practice in the business. Of course, I do not want to discredit their work, their merit or even question their current place in the Top 100. These artists remain excellent DJs and very ambitious and hardworking people.We just need to know that at this moment ghost production has become a pillar of the business. This practice is known and accepted by everyone, but kept secret, even “taboo”, in the music industry. Everyone knows, but no one talks about it. For my part, I can say that I have produced songs that have been classified in the top 100 Beatport but I can not, in fact, unveil what songs or for which artists I produced, out of respect for artists and the confidentiality clauses that bind us. Some of my sounds were played recently at Tomorrowland and it was precisely at that point that I got the click, where I said, “You should have been there on stage, Share your music with people!”
Will you remain anonymous under the HIDDN project? As a ghost producer essentially coming out, I figure you still might want to keep your real identity a secret.
I hesitated long time about revealing my identity of HIDDN or not. In the beginning I did not plan to hide my identity, but eventually I thought keeping a part of myself secret was a very interesting idea! For the moment, I will remain hidden in a certain way, but who knows … in the future?
How was it to finally release “Find You” with Beatrich? How did you get connected with Armada for this release?
In the past, as a ghost, I always received instructions and guidelines before producing, so my mind was never really free. I did what the artist wanted and produced what I was asked to produce, according to the wishes and aspirations of the artist. Big room, Future house, deep house, trap, pop ? … no matter the style, I plunged into the musical universe imposed and composed. This year, when I started my HIDDN project, it was a new chapter in my life that opened, and to be honest, it was the first time I was free like a bird to produce music .
I have never been as creative and productive in these last six months of freedom as in five years of ghost producing. To go back to “Find you”, I recorded the guitars and then it went very fast … the ideas were in my head: I wanted to make a sweet verse and get something catchy with an energetic drop. This track reflects the euphoric state of mind I was in when this new adventure began. I produced the basic idea in one afternoon and the next day after finalizing the details I sent it to Armada and they contacted me back a few days later to tell me they wanted to sign the song.
You have a full album coming, with “Find You” being the first single. Will it be more of a concept able with you wanting to deliver a message, or more along the lines of a collection of really good singles?
I think that it will be more along the lines of a collection of really good singles but still delivering a message though.
Have you stopped ghost producing while you’re focusing on the HIDDN project? Would you do it again?
Currently, I still have a few projects I am involved in, but once I have finished, I plan to work only on my own. Of course, I have one or two good friends that I help in their productions, but I would not call this ghost production. To conclude, I would say that it was really time for me to share my music with the world. I’m ready to go on stage and give emotion and positive energy to people with my music!