German producer Ambyion’s stunning new EP ‘Grey Unknown’ with Phelian was released by Insight last week. As a ‘Part 2’ to our series of interviews celebrating the release, here’s what the man himself had to say when we caught up with him…
Hey Ambyion, first off, where are you currently based?
Hey! I’m currently based in the north of Hamburg in Germany.
When was your first real exposure to music?
It began somewhere around the age of 8. I used to be a huge Michael Jackson fan in my childhood and I think he had the most impact in terms of my interest in music. The first instrument I learnt to play was a simple keyboard. I took lessons until the age of 12. From then on I started to learn guitar by myself.
When did you start writing and producing music?
I started when I was about 14 years old with an old PS2 game called “MTV Music Generator 2” where I found my passion for music production, but I didn’t take it very seriously at that time and it got very boring quickly ‘cos there were not many options (always the same few samples) so I just stopped doing it one day.
Then I remember sitting with a friend on my balcony in 2012 talking about what we wanted to do with our lives. At this point I knew that my biggest passion was still music and I knew that I couldn’t ever forgive myself if I didn’t try doing it seriously. So I started then with a professional DAW called “FL Studio”. Artists like Uppermost, Crisopa and Fox Stevenson (then known as Stan SB) were a big inspiration for me at that time. I think artists like that helped me orient myself with music.
The past few months have seen you produce music under a new alias and release your debut single ‘Reaching for the Stars‘ on Insight. What was the story behind the new alias?
There were several reasons for this. It started getting weird for me to have my real name attached to this project, because privacy got more important for me as I got a little better-known. I feel much more comfortable with my name like it is now. Also, I think I have changed a lot as a person and I recognise these changes in my tracks. I had already thought off and on in the past about a new name and I took the final decision to do it with “Reaching for the Stars”. I saw it as a suitable track for the name change. I also kinda see it as a new start and a new motivation to move on in my musical career.
It’s great to see such a close and engaging community of producers within our genre. Have you made any new relationships along the way?
The community is really awesome and I’m noticing only good vibes here. I’ve gotten to know some awesome artists already.
What’s been your proudest experience to date?
Probably over 10 years ago when I played the song “When The Saints Go Marching In” on keyboard in front of 600 people.
Have you ever performed your music live?
It’s crazy that it was actually my plan to play my electronic music live as soon as possible once I started, but I have never dared do it so far because I always thought my tracks don’t quite suit live performances. I have been through many genres over time and it has been hard for me to fix myself to just one. I see this as a further point for my new alias, to figure out how to approach live performance.
Favourite record right now?
Favourite record of all time?
That’s a hard question. It depends on special times when we connect with music (like my childhood, for instance). I still remember a holiday trip to Bayern in the south of Germany with my family when the song “High” by Lighthouse Family was playing again and again on the radio. I think 4 years ago I discovered the song again and I really thought I was back in Bayern! Incredible feelings I get from that song.
Same with “The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony” and “Alanis Morissette – Thank U”. I probably would pick those songs if I had to choose.
It’s easy to recognise the passion and emotion you put into your work. What’s your musical goal for the next few years?
Definitely to improve my equipment (especially for live shows) and to set up a comfortable home studio someday.
Any life goals?
To reach a point where I can live from my music might be my ultimate goal (as with any other musician I guess!).
Has there ever been a piece of music or an experience that shaped you to become the musician you are today?
I still remember hearing Crisopa’s track “North Left” which led me into the chillout scene I think. He had a huge influence for me when I started making chillout stuff. As time went by I came across the music of Sean Mackey which has also had a big influence for me in terms of the musician I am today.
How would you describe your music?
Something in the range of ’emotional’, ‘melancholy’ and ‘bright’ I would say.
How did the collaboration with Phelian come about?
I took a lot inspiration for my track “Reaching For the Stars” from Phelian’s track “Do You Know” (released last year on Insight). He liked what I did with my tune and a short time after it was released he sent me a message which simply said “collab?”. From there it all started!
Tell us about your latest EP and the process by which the two of you worked together?
Our first track “Farewell” was finished in about 3 days. I sent Phelian a chord idea and he built up the structure of the song from there. Then he sent me the stems and I added some more elements such as the guitar playing in the background. I also played around with the vocals he recommended. The track “Salvation” was an unfinished track Phelian made a while ago but hadn’t quite finished. So again he sent me the stems and I added some stuff like a new beat, piano, guitar and some vocals. That was how we approached each track basically.
Any other collabs in the pipeline?
Nothing planned yet but I’m always up for new collaborations!
Any other Ambyion projects on the horizon?
I have a few projects running but nothing which is worth announcing yet.
Any other genres you would like to explore in future?
I’ve been very interested in film scores for the past year. I have already written a soundtrack for a short film made by a very good friend of mine which is called “ROAD”. Definitely want to do that more in the future – so filmmakers, please contact me for collaborations!
Would you have any advice for budding young producers?
Don’t stress yourself out if you go through phases in which nothing seems to work. We all have to go through that and your inspiration will come back again. If you can keep it up even for a year, you will surely achieve some great things. And, of course, my main piece of advice would be to just keep doing it! It’s not unrealistic that it could take a good year or two for you to make your first serious piece of music that you’re happy with.
And finally – are there any artists who are relatively unknown who you would like people to know about?
I stumbled over a German rapper called “Fayzen” lately who is still pretty unknown. If you are interested in German rap I can highly recommend checking him out!
In terms of chillout my favourites at the moment are probably Azaleh, Phelian and Ecepta.
Thanks so much Ambyion – very best of luck with the EP!
‘Grey Unknown’ is available as a ‘Name Your Price’ download here.