For a little over a year we’ve had the pleasure and privilege of sharing and following the sounds of one of California’s most prolific producers, SirensCeol. Pronounced “sirens soul”, this musical project birthed from the musically gifted mind of Steve Burke has flooded the ears of electronic music listeners with productions from all regions within the spectrum of electronic music. Be it dubstep, electro-house, glitch-hop, or nu disco, Burke combines scintillating melodies, crushing bass, emotive vocals clips, and seismic drum-work to give rise to engulfing electronic productions. Earlier in the month we had the chance to catch up with Burke to get his thoughts on bedroom producers, pet peeves, forthcoming releases and his upcoming New Year’s Eve performance at SnowGlove Music Festival in Lake Tahoe.
HT: You’ve had a tremendous year. Your name and productions are really catching speed within the electronic music community. Do you feel a sense of obligation or intensified motivation now, where you can’t stop making music because you’ve come to far to stop?
I wouldn’t so much call it an obligation. When it comes to finishing projects, to keep things going, sure I feel obligated because it’s kind of like you said it’s at the point of where I can’t really turn back now. That would just be stupid of me. It never really feels like I’m obligated to do anything. It’s more so just complete overall passion for it. I mean I’ve been writing music for like, twelve years now so, it’s not really work to me it’s more so just fun. It’s really like an experience basically. It never really feels like an obligation though.
HT: Do you have an idea where you want that experience to land you in the future?
The music industry is obviously constantly shifting and it is really hard to say how long the whole EDM phase is going to last. It’s going to be here for a long time and I love it. I hope that by the time it all kind of gets to its peak I can be in it for a good amount of years. I’ve always wanted to work in the music industry for almost my whole life now and so ultimately the goal would be to get into the industry enough where even if the whole EDM thing blows over, which I hope it really doesn’t because I love it, that either way I can still always progress a bit and always be writing music as an artist or producer. I really want to take the career to a point where I can almost do anything in the industry including being a producer and DJ.
HT: You produce across a range of style and genres. Is there one that you fall back to more than others or maybe one that you like to produce within more often than not?
Honestly there is not one that I like more than the other. It really is just what I’m feeling at the time. When I put on say like iTunes, I have so many different styles of music and I can get inspiration from anything from like Beethoven to John Mayer to like Mateallica you know? Stuff like that. It’s really just when I hear sounds I like I kind of have an idea in my head for what style it would sound good in. I don’t really have a bias towards one or the other. A lot of the new productions I’m working on are a lot of mixes of genres. Along with my album, I’m also going to work on an EP that’s a cross-genre. I made some songs that have jazz elements, some song with hip-hop elements. So I really don’t have any limit to the genres I like cause honestly I like them all so I can’t really just stick to one you know?
HT: As someone who experiments with so many sounds and styles, how important do you think it is for up-and-coming producers to have a catalog that isn’t strictly focused on one genre or style? Do you think being able to produce and create genre-blends is important in getting your sound recognized?
The way I kind of see that – it is definitely not a bad thing if you have one kind of style. At most times it’s better to be really good at one thing than mediocre at bunch of different things. My advice would be for some just starting out – I feel like their best bet to get really noticed is to make something unique because it is something new that people don’t hear and they kind of attract to that artist because what they are making isn’t what all the guys on the top ten charts are making. I think in the early stages it is really crucial to kind of experiment with your sound and really try and produce everything because if you have skills in all areas, you can always, at the end, take what you learned and put it into one style, realistically. So for people just starting out I think it is really detrimental that they practice everything.
HT: Do friends ever ask you to play house parties for them still, or is that something they have to take up with your manager now?
(Laughs) I don’t think so really. Honestly I don’t think…actually yea I have done a house party before but not really. If I do it is kind of just for fun. I don’t really see it as like “oh well if you want me to play the house party, like, you’re going to have to pay me”. I don’t really see it that way. I mean I’ve done, even really recently, a show where I haven’t been paid anything because at this point for me it is really about the experience and exposure. Honestly money can’t even compare to the feeling you get when you’re playing for a huge crowd of people. Afterwards obviously it is nice but like 90% of all this is the experience. It’s just amazing and without support of people, even friends asking me to play house parties, I don’t think it would be nearly as fun.
HT: Was there ever a time where you had to like give up something you were doing, maybe something that you thought you wanted to do and then music came in and you abandoned that ship and boarded the other one?
Kind of. I’ve been playing guitar and piano for a really long time, and I used to actually do a lot of singing song-writing. Ever since I was introduced to EDM and I started producing a lot, that kind of fell off. I still do it every now and then but I’m not striving for it as much as I used to. It has kind of switched. I think that is the only thing that is music relatable. Of course I have other things going on like school and sports. It’s tough but it’s so close to being over it wouldn’t be worth letting any of those things go at this point. I might as well just power through it and once I’m done with everything I can fully focus on music. I’ve definitely had to make a couple of sacrifices to really get big into the EDM scene but I think it is going to be for the better in the end. And then once I tough out life stuff out, it is really going to pay off. So I’m really just being as patient as possible.
HT: Do you ever find yourself hesitant to use the acronym EDM? Do you think it is a little juvenile and just not an accurate way of describing what it is that you feel involved in?
Yea definitely, especially with my family, my parents, aunt, and uncles and that kind of stuff, cause they don’t really know what it is. Usually when I tell people what I do I just say I produce electronic music and DJ. One of the most annoying things is when people say like “hey, this is my friend Steve, he makes dubstep”. For some reason people love to call electronic music dubstep – everything. I don’t know why but it is a huge pet peeve, or techno. That’s the worst, oh my god. I don’t make techno. But yea, there is definitely an interesting rep around the name “EDM” because when you say “EDM” to an average person they’re like “oh that’s that thing where people do drugs and listen to the guy press buttons”. It definitely has an interesting rep to its name but then again the crowds kind of did it to themselves. I think the scene really needs to mature, in my opinion, if it is not going to blow over. I mean they’re canceling all these events now and at some point people need to realize, go for the music not to just get fucked up and party. So usually when I tell people that, I usually just say electronic music cause I feel like that is the least threatening way to tell someone what I do without them looking at me like “oh you’re another one of those guys”. When in reality I’m just another kid with a computer in my room who happens to play shows every now and then.
HT: What do you feel about the term “bedroom producer”. Do you think it is kind of undervalued in the sense that there is a lot “bedroom producers” coming out with a lot of talent and a lot of good sounds?
Honestly there is so much advanced equipment out nowadays and programs and what not, I feel like the studio days of setting up a legitimate studio are kind of over. A lot of these guys, sure they have a studio but at the end of the day, I can do almost everything they can do with just my laptop here and a nice set a speakers as someone would in $100,000 studio. Unless it comes to recording live instruments, that is a whole different story. But when it comes to electronic music, I feel like quote on quote “bedroom producers” can pretty much make anything. The availabilities of all these programs and what not are just incredible and the quality of music you can put out with just those things is awesome. I produce in my bedroom too. Most of these guys really do especially the upcoming ones so there’s is nothing really wrong with it in my opinion (chuckles).
HT: With SnowGlobe in the weeks ahead, are you going to be doing some extra prep for that performance? How excited are you to hit up Lake Tahoe?
I’m really excited. I’m thinking of trying something new. One of my friends who is a vocalist, might come out and we might try and do some live vocals for that. I’m even considering maybe even starting to play my guitar more live on stage. Granted, the supply and demand for EDM is so high now that tickets prices are ridiculous. At some point people are going to expect more than just a person with DJ decks. I feel like the era of legitimate live performances is coming into play so, maybe I’ll try something new for SnowGlobe. We’ll see.
HT: How did SnowGlobe get locked in? Do you see yourself hitting up festivals of that caliber next year, maybe in the summer?
Yea I’m really hoping so. I played at EDC this last summer I’m hoping to go back again this summer. That’d be great. I’ve been talking with some people from other music festivals and what not. Nothing really gets locked in for sure. I don’t want to say that I’m doing anything and get my hopes and then not get booked for it. Everything right now is in the works I’d say.
HT: Aside from the Culture Code collab, you don’t have very many collaborations. Is there a reason for, I can only imagine that you get a lot of requests right now.
Well, collaborations are tough to do. Not only are people really bad at sending things, it is a huge ordeal to send files. They are a lot more difficult to do than people think. Unless you are sitting down in the same studio together and bouncing ideas off each other – that’s probably the easiest way to do it – but when it comes down to it there is just a lot of technical aspects to them that take a while. You could send someone an idea and they just completely forget about it because they are so busy working on their own stuff. I’m guilty of that myself, having started collabs and they just never get finished. It is one of those things that gets put on the back burner.
HT: Earlier in the year you put out a glitch-hop production ‘Breakdown’. Do you have any plans to venture into those lower-tempo around 110?
Yea, I have a couple songs I’m working on in that area that are for my album. You can definitely expect something from almost every sub-genre of EDM in the future.
HT: I’ve seen a few requests for tutorials. Any chance you’ll put out a full tutorial soon?
I’ve actually thought about it before. Now that my school semester is coming to an end I have a lot more time to do stuff like that. Every time I get inspired to make one I want to make one, but then I realize that I don’t have any video editing software so (laughs). I’ve just got to get all prepared to do it but I definitely want to do something like that. I feel like giving tips really helps your reputation and people come to you, even if they don’t like your music, they’ll come to you to learn how to produce their own [music]. It is definitely something I want to venture into.
HT: Did you ever utilize any YouTube tutorials?
Oh definitely. I mean, I’m probably more educated from YouTube than I am anything else in my life. To be honest (laughs).
HT: Well I feel like nowadays it is so much easier than it would be back in the day, where you might have had to take a class to learn how to do certain things.
Oh no, I don’t know how people used to do it. But then again, they weren’t thinking “Oh this is going to be so much easier in the future, why am I doing this?”. They were probably thinking the same thing as us like “how did people back in the 20’s or 30’s do this”. It is all progressive, but at the same time the music itself is getting so much more complex that we need these tools available.
HT: I remember we first discovered you when you released your ‘Save Me’ track. I feel like that was a really long time ago.
I was actually thinking about that yesterday. I was like “it feels like almost a year ago today that I put that song out”.
HT: Well you know man, when the old SoundCloud was out, maybe at the end of the day I would just search through some tags and you can’t do that now with the new SoundCloud. That’s how I stumbled upon it.
Yea the new SoundCloud sucks. I don’t like it.
HT: Yea it’s terrible. I’m still in classic but they disabled that feature and it came up on one of the complextro pages. It is just crazy to see how far you’ve come since then. What are your thoughts when you look back on some of those earlier releases? How much have you advanced technically with production and where do you see your sound evolving towards in the future?
Like I was saying I really want to start incorporating live instruments with electronic music. I just think it sounds so cool and I feel like my overall production is just getting a lot better. I just want to make what I’m feeling honestly. I listen to a lot of music to get inspiration and stuff but where I see it going, I honestly have no idea (laughs). I’m such a last minute person. I’m really bad at planning things like that. It is just day-by-day. I really couldn’t tell you. I definitely like the more melodic side of things. That is what I am able to say.
HT: Favorite film of the year so far, which would it be?
Favorite film of the year…uh…shoot. I don’t even know man. I barely go to the movies anymore. Let me think.
HT: It’s so expensive now. It’s like $15.
Yea, right? Fuck, and then like $20 for a 3D movie. I mean the most recent one that I loved that I saw was ‘Ender’s Game’. That was really good. I can’t really think of a favorite that I’ve seen this year. I’d have to sit down for twenty minutes and think about it (laughs).