[ARTIST SPOTLIGHT] Michael Calfan
West Coast EDM had the pleasure of interviewing French producer & DJ Michael Calfan just one week before he touches down in the Bay Area. Responsible for radio and dance floor bangers, Calfan's continues to expand his fanbase with a signature piano sound. We can't wait to hear what he puts out next.
Are you excited for your upcoming North American tour?
Most definitely, I’m always excited to go on tour anywhere, but North America is one of the best place to play and stay so it’s always a pleasure to be there.
Have you ever been to the West Coast before? What are you looking forward to when you visit San Francisco?
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to the West Coast a number of times for business and pleasure, but I’ve never had an opportunity to be a tourist in San Francisco before. The last time I played in SF, I went to a kind of underground party after my show, which was pretty cool but this time I really want to visit Golden Gate Bridge or Alcatraz and get some memories for the scrapbook.
On average, how many versions of any given track do you go through before you settle on the final version?
It really depends on the track. Sometimes the pieces fall into place straight away and then it’s really quick - maybe 2/3 versions and I’m happy. Then there are other times when it’s a really long process and I can get to 15/20+ versions with small tweaks here and there. The funny thing is, most of my best tunes were made under a pseudonym I created in order to make some underground stuff. I then worked on these versions over the course of a year before feeling happy with the final result; Treasured Soul is one such track.
What production software do you use and what are some of your favorite sounds/effects?
My preferred DAW is Logic 9. When working on synths I tend to use Arthuria CS80 and Kontakt a lot, and in terms of effects I absolutely love Effectrix.
If you could collaborate with any electronic producer, who would it be? Non-electronic artist?
From the electronic scene it would have to be someone like Diplo or Skrillex. Those guys seem to have a knack of getting right into the fans mind with their productions and they are clearly both very talented producers. On the non-electronic side it would be great to team up with a really solid beatmaker and create some tracks for someone like Drake or The Weeknd – I loved his album.
What was the last skill or technique you learned that really took your productions up a notch?
Not really a skill or technique, but I recently started really critiquing the work I was doing up against something else that I was really into. Evaluation and regeneration have been a key part of my music-making process.
How long were you producing music before you realized you could make music for a living?
2 months?! Haha! Music was always a real passion of mine, so when I saw the opportunity and realized that I had some basic abilities, I didn’t hesitate. From then on it was about defining Michael Calfan’s sound and ensuring that everything I did went into perfecting that sound to be as dynamic as possible.
Who has been your favorite DJ to perform with?
I get to play with a lot of fantastic DJs from established heavyweights to up and coming DJs/Producers. I’ve played with Martin Solveig, The Magician and Bakermat recently and they all have different ways of mixing and styles, but it’s always really cool to play with them and to see how they work with the crowd.
Describe your most memorable experience at a show and/or festival.
Easy - Festival & Sunset in Hawaii. I’ll let your own imagination run away with just how amazing that show was ;)
What is the hardest part about touring besides being away from family/friends?
I actually tend to travel with my friends, family or manager when I go on tour, rather than a Tour Manager. It means I can bring the people I love most with me so as not to miss them too much. Saying that though, I do one of the greatest jobs in the world and am only ever away for a month at a time, maximum, so it could be much worse. I hear of these guys going and camping in another country for 6 months touring and that would be really tough. The hardest part then I guess is the travelling and constantly switching timezones and sleep patterns.
Did you have any idea ‘Treasured Soul’ would become as big as it did when you cut the track?
Whenever you make something you always like to think that it has something cool in it and that hopefully the public will hear that and buy into the track, but you just can’t tell. So no, I didn’t have an idea really, but like all musicians, I hoped. It’s what I love about music - you can’t control the success of a track and there is no formula to make something a certified hit.
What is your opinion on Pandora, SoundCloud, Spotify, and other music streaming services? Do you think they look out for the artists?
The music industry has changed a lot in the last 10 years and I think we, as artists, as well as the consumers need to see each service for what it is and how to get the most out of it to satisfy their personal needs. Soundcloud is a great way for young, aspiring artists to broadcast their new creations to the world. In fact, one of my friends, Klingande, can safely say that his first hit came off the back of some fantastic support from the Soundcloud community. Then you have Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music that come into play more when you are signed or have a reputation as they are finally providing legal, affordable ways for fans to listen to their favourite tracks legally. They are offering a service to the artists and the money you get back may not be the same as selling one CD Vs one stream, but at least it isn’t being pirated anymore.
How do you choose the songs you remix?
It depends on my schedule and also whether or not I am into the track. There’s simply no point remixing a track if you don’t like it because you will not do your best work. Likewise, if you don’t really have the time then you can’t really finish. Recently I remixed two amazing songs, one from Major Lazer and one from Duke Dumont and I’m really happy with the way they came out.
Who are your biggest influences?
I have a lot of influences from many different sources – different genres, artists and even moods and cultures. I’m always trying to pick something I like in each of them and portray it in my music.
What's your favorite electronic album? Non-electronic album?
Electronic: Daft Punk – Discovery; Non-Electronic: Michael Jackson – Dangerous. Both were game-changers for me.
Which other artists do you think we should we be watching closely in 2016?
The guys I am really excited about are some close friends of mine: Kungs is one, and only 19 years old. Another is Fabich. They’re both doing some really incredible things so I will be amazed if they don’t step out of the shadows this year.
Be sure not to miss what's sure to be an unforgettable performance by Michael Calfan next Friday at one of our favorite dance spots in the Bay: Audio. Tickets are only $10 and you can still snag them right here.