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InDepth Interview with Stoneface & Terminal about their track Covenant on FSOE Clandestine

Clandestine bosses Stoneface & Terminal return with this brilliant tech trance slammer. Covenant is a groove fueled stomper with a hypnotic vocal break. A sure-fire winner for those who like their trance techy!

Covenant is out now on FSOE Clandestine and we catch up with Stoneface & Terminal for an Indepth interview about this track plus a cool rewind from past to the future of the beloved German duo. 

Dimitri: When did you start your involvement with electronic dance music and which music style you are more affiliated with and why?

Stoneface & Terminal: We do love electronic dance music since the 90's when artists like 'The KLF' hit Germany. We started our involvement professionally in 2004 when we founded our label 'Electric Department Records', after we produced for some other acts in the background. We do come from Techno and we are still in love with loops and driving elements. But we also love melodies, spheric sounds or chill out. Actually, we love all kinds of electronic music as long as it has emotions / soul in it and is not only made to make some cash. 

Dimitri: Did you had the opportunity to attend any kind of music production course or are u completely self taught? Do you consider that is essential for any artist to complete any production course?

Stoneface & Terminal: We are completely self taught. We started making music in the 90's. We didn't know where to attend a music production course, nor we had Youtube to watch tutorials. All we had was a very strong will to make music, a Computer and a print magazine called 'KEYS' which came along with a CD-Rom that contained some samples and demo software. And we analyzed tracks that we liked, to use them as a reference for arrangement and loudness. So we learned step by step. We spent countless days and nights of trying out sounds, finding out how arrangement works and how to make a track sound punchy. And we are still learning a lot but we can say that we know what we are doing as we learned all the steps by ourselves. We don't know if production courses are essential for any artists but we think that if artists have a strong will and if they are highly interested in doing music, it's more interesting for them to learn it by themselves. The aha effect when you finally find out how to get your drums and bassline punchy... that's a feeling that no course can give you. 

Dimitri: In which label was your first ever release and how did you manage to attract the attention of the label?

Stoneface & Terminal: Our first ever vinyl release was on 'Energized Records' in 1999 under the name 'Terminal East'. We sent out demo CDs to different labels after we checked if our music could be something for them. Many of them didn't answer but some did and one was interested. 

Dimitri: Please pick for us your Top 5 tracks that you have produced and you consider them as being highly important for the progress of your career indifferent if they were commercially successful.

Stoneface & Terminal: 

 Soulreaver (Empty mix): Our first vinyl release on our own label 'Electric Department Records' in 2004. We did not know any rules of mix-down, mastering, digital clipping etc. We just wanted this track to sound big and nasty. You can hear the side-chain effect but we didn't use any side-chain. We just pumped everything up like hell :-D 

Super Nature: Our first #1 on Beatport Trance. 

Blueprint: A special release as we did not find anyone who didn't play it.

Dont Give A Fuck: Our first commercial club hit, totally coss-over. 

Hypogean: - Our first solo-single on FSOE which also hit #1 on Beatport Trance. 

Dimitri: Let's focus on Covenant. Please tell us from where did you got the inspiration for the track?

Stoneface & Terminal: In the beginning of the production of 'Covenant' we had this dark sounding string sound that has a cold atmosphere but is still rhythmic. The break consists of 2 elements: the cold, dark string sound and a dark voice that sounds like a force trying to hold you down there. But it fades away and the string sound goes back into a strong percussive part supported by a brute bassline. We love the light but we also love the dark :-)

Dimitri: How long it took you to produce it and was an easy or difficult process?If you have faced any difficulties please tell us about them and how did you resolved them?

Stoneface & Terminal: It took like 2 or 3 weeks to produce. It was not too difficult as we already had the idea where the tracks has to go. The difficult (or more interesting) thing was to build the track up after the break and to let it explode. We solved it as we let all sounds go into a long reverb and filtered it before the kick, string and bassline come back as a strong force. 

Dimitri: Which was the biggest challenge that you faced during the production of this superb track?

Stoneface & Terminal: The biggest challenge was to bring all our ideas together in the track without having it overfilled. The right sounds, the right delay-times, the right rhythm loops and the right attack time of the dark string sound. We wanted the track not too dry and clean but also not too filled by the strings. But we think we did it at the end :-)

Dimitri: Can you describe to us the steps that you went through the production of this track and of any other track?

Stoneface & Terminal: As for 'Covenant' we had this string sound that we played on our Arturia. We looped a kickdrum and played the strings. We added some short reverb to it and took the pre-delay a bit higher to make it more rhythmic afterwards. After that we played tons of basslines before we found the right, rolling line. Then we recorded some words and sent it through effects till it sounded dark enough. At the end we added percussion, claps and hi-hats, changed it here and there until we were happy. It's not the same process in every production. Sometimes we start with a rhythm or an interesting bassline. Even a kickdrum can be inspirational. Sometimes we start with the break and sometimes with the main part and produce the break afterwards. What we always do is to save the track / idea and listen to it the next day. Mostly it sounds different when you hear it with 'fresh ears'. 

Dimitri: When the track finished did the label accepted it as it was produced or did the label recommend you to do some changes or fix certain things?

Stoneface & Terminal: We are in a happy position as FSOE Clandestine is our label. But we always send our tracks to our management and the other guys at the label to hear their opinion. If we do tracks on FSOE main label we send it to them and also listen to their opinion. Mostly they are happy with it as we both are talking a lot during a production and how to make it a good record. 

Dimitri: Is this track an original composition or is it based on a template from another track produced from you or another producer?

Stoneface & Terminal: It's an original composition. We love to make something from nothing. Sometimes, if we do a remix, we use the setup of one of our tracks. Mostly if the artist wants us to remix his/her track in style of another S&T track.

Dimitri: Is the quality of this track higher than your previous one? If yes in what ways this track sounds better than your previous one?

Stoneface & Terminal: 'Covenant' is different to our previous tracks as it sounds a bit darker due to the strings. We always try to find different things in music that we didn't do in the past. The quality is as high as all our tracks, in our opinion. 

Dimitri: Do you have any friends or relatives that you send them the track before sending it to a label or if you are DJ did you test it in your gigs? If yes did you have to do any alterations as a result of the crowd reaction?

Stoneface & Terminal: We always try to test our tracks at our gigs first. Mostly the reaction by the crowd is great as we wouldn't play our unreleased tracks if we weren't sure about it in the studio. Sometimes we have to change things here and there after we tested it or we have to master it a bit louder or cut some high frequencies, add more bass etc. Of course, the best feeling is when the crowd is going crazy to a track they never heard before. Then we know that we do it right. 

Dimitri: Describe to us the studio that you have produced the track? What is your favourite hardware and software set up? Do you have in mind any new gear that you wish to get in order to raise the quality of your production?

Stoneface & Terminal:  Our studio consists of hard- and software. We do own some hardware synths like Korg Prophecy, Roland TB 303 or Doepfer MS 404 and we still use it in our tracks sometimes. Our DAW is Cubase, the monitor speakers are made by Alesis and the Master keyboard is the Arturia Factory. It's compact but it has still enough keyrange to play 3 octaves. We do use a lot of different software synths like the LinPlug Albino, Sylenth, Absynth, Pro 53 but also freeware synths like Firebird. Any good new gear is always welcome. We do test new software but it takes a long road till we use a new synth or fx in our tracks on a daily basis. New stuff can affect your tracks in a good or in a bad way. Outboard mastering equipment is something that we'd like to get in the future but it's pretty expensive.

Dimitri: Do you master the track yourself or the mastering is task for the record label? Do you understand mastering as being essential?

Stoneface & Terminal: We do master our tracks by ourselves since the beginning. We had one or two tracks mastered by someone else in the past but we were disappointed by the result. For us, mastering is more than making a track louder. It can change the whole character of a track in a positive (or negative) way. A track that consists of many synth lines and percussion loops will be mastered differently compared to a track that only contains a kick and a bassline. We know, there's a big controversy around mastering. We always have our effects on in the master bus during the production as it's working for us this way. But if other producers send their tracks to a mastering service, why not? People are arguing too much. Do it your own way and be happy :-) 

Dimitri: Do you have any future releases planned and when will be released?

Stoneface & Terminal:  We are working on our new album which we want to be released this coming summer. 

Dimitri: Your Top 3 best DJ gigs so far and the reasons that made them so special?

Stoneface & Terminal:  Dreamstate SoCal - Because we love the Californian crowd.
Creamfields - Because it was Creamfields :-)
Ministry Of Sound - One of our favourite clubs in the world. The DJ Booth is awesome and the crowd is really into the music.

Dimitri: Do you have any more DJ gigs planned for the next few months? If yes please note them down here.

Stoneface & Terminal: We do plan an album tour this year. Follow us on Twitter, facebook and Instagram for any dates :-)

Dimitri: Do you produce a radio show/podcast as well? Please tell us here all the details about it.

Stoneface & Terminal:  We do produce our own monthly radio show called 'Reflected Broadcast'. It's available on Soundcloud, Mixcloud and soon on i-tunes.

Dimitri: Best piece of advice you got in relation to your career so far and best tip you learnt recently to make your tracks better.

Stoneface & Terminal:  'You don't have to be rich, you have to know rich people!' 

Dimitri: Give us here your tips or more elaborated advice for any new artists who may read this interview and wish to get involved with the electronic music industry.

Stoneface & Terminal: First, ask yourself why you want to get involved with electronic music industry. Do you want to make music, release it, play it for a crowd and make a living off the thing you love? Or do you only want to be famous like XY? If you are really into making and playing music, you will find your way somehow into the scene as everything is ultra connective nowadays. Don't just copy other tracks or artists one-to-one. The scene doesn't need a second DJ XY or 30+ tracks that sound like the last #1 on Beatport. It doesn't help the scene to stay fresh and forward-thinking. Try to put something unique into your tracks, so the listener will recognise your track out of hundreds. It can be a special bassline, a hihat loop, a special kick drum or arpeggio line. You are a unique person, so your music should be too. But if you just want to be famous to get some attention, stay away from the scene. We already have too many fame seekers in the electronic dance music scene who just wanna feed their ego...


Extremely thankful to Stoneface & Terminal for finding the time to reply in this interview with so much interesting details.
Many thanks to Rebecca at Dance Therapy Management for arranging this interview.

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