10 Questions with TyDi on music, mentorship, and living as a musician during Covid-19
Written by Jason Euler | July 31, 2020
Right now is a very uncertain time for many Artist’s in the industry. So we sat down with Tyson aka TyDi who is a touring Veteran in the Dance Music World to talk about life during Covid-19.
Q: What do you believe makes your sound unique compared to other artists in your niche?
Personally I think it’s my attention to detail when it comes to songwriting and production. My songs are very lyric driven and it’s in my nature to write about how I feel or something I’m going through. I’m not the kind of person to just write about anything because it ‘sounds cool’. When I write a song it’s a very organic process, starting on piano or guitar just sitting on the floor with a vocalist. I start conversations that lead to the story. Sometimes I’ll ask how the vocalist is feeling at the time or tell them a story that means something to me. We pull all the lyrics from those conversations and let the song come naturally. Once I have the song written I’ll spend a lot of time building the production around it to match the meaning of the story, whether that means the song ends up a ‘dance’ track or even a balled… I don’t care too much about genres. I think my fans can relate to the stories I tell. I also use a lot of organic sounds, even a full orchestra at times (My collide album had an orchestra through the whole record). Things like that really make it stand out.
Q: Connections can be the difference between life and death in the music industry. Would you mind sharing a story or a chance meeting that changed everything for you and your career?
Ok here’s a cool one! When I decided that I wanted to make an album with an orchestra blended with electronic, I spent over a year working with 2X Grammy award winning composer Christopher Tin. He’s an absolute genius when it comes to composing, and although I studied music theory when in university I really needed to collaborate with a specialized talent who could bring me up to speed on writing for an orchestra. Only a few weeks after finishing the album I sat down at a restaurant in LA alone for lunch, I happened to be sitting next to a lady who I sparked up a conversation with because I was bored. It turns out she was the director for the world famous ‘Disney On Ice’ show; during lunch she told me that they were a bit stressed because for some of the final pieces in the show needed someone who could produce both orchestral and electronic music and merge them seamlessly. I didn’t want to say ‘yeah I can do that!’ Nobody would believe my story in LA (there’s way too many people who are hungry for opportunities and everyone’s an artist. So instead I got her to tell me the brief for the work she needed and asked for her business card. I then ran home and got to work on what I thought she needed and sent it back within 24 hours. She immediately emailed me with excitement and asked me to do more and more on the show – That led me to being a part of their music team and now I’ve produced numerous songs for Disney On Ice which tours the world to sold out stadiums! Right place, right time I guess…
Q: Speaking of connections, how did you first get connected with Spinnin Records?
I met the founder and A&R in Amsterdam when I was touring there at age 21 for ‘Trance Energy’. At the time I was releasing music on Armada but I stayed in touch. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I sent them a song called ‘beautiful war’, they loved it and signed it.
Q: How often do you think connections can grow into something more than just business? Have you ever had a business connection grow into something more like a mentorship?
Absolutely, everyone from A&R’s to other artists who I’ve collaborated with. My position has always been that everyone has something of value to learn from. It’s easy to think we know everything… But some of my best work has come from dropping my guard down and asking the right questions. When I first worked with Christopher Tin for ‘Collide’ it was sort of a business mission, he composes classical music and I do electronic… But since we spent a year working together it turned into a friendship, and a talent who I can call for advice on classical composing, film music and scoring to picture. I definitely look up to him. There have been countless people like that in my life, far too many to name.
Q: How important would you say mentors are in the music industry? Care to share something that a mentor has taught you in life?
Mentors are extremely important, not just for business but also emotionally. There was one instance this year where I was feeling pretty down about my work, I was looking at other people’s projects and wondering if I was on the right track. My friend (and extremely talented artist) BT told me one thing on a call; “Comparison is the thief of joy”. He told me to write that down. I believe one of his mentors shared that quote with him, and it’s so true! There’s no fun to be had in comparing yourself to other people all the time.
Q: Your career has come full circle, and you are at a place where you can begin to mentor others alongside Kinekt. What is the first piece of advice you tell anyone who wants to be where you are at now?
This sounds lame, but determination, passion and being kind to others will get you SO much further than being competitive. A lot of people think the music industry is so cut throat that they have to ‘beat’ other people’s numbers, or make more money, get more streams, play more shows…etc. And that mentality leads to an unhappy lifestyle. When we help other people achieve their goals we are also helping the industry as a whole, and another person’s success is your success too, there’s room for everyone. Stay passionate about your work and do it for the right reasons, not for money but because you literally couldn’t live without it in your life. When you work from a place of passion you’ll be far more likely to succeed (and have way more fun in the process).
Q: We already chatted about what makes your sound as a producer unique, but what makes you unique as a teacher or mentor? What experiences and perspectives are you able to share with students and confidants?
Well I started out when I was 15, I was the high school music nerd who wasn’t cool. I was touring Australia when I was 16 and playing to thousands of people around the world before I was 20. After that I made multiple albums, gained an insane amount of world experience (sometimes 150 cities in one year) and got published by Universal Music for my songwriting and production. I’ve had songs chart on Billboard and hit #1 on dance radio. I compose music for film, TV and games, and I also own a record label. I’d be a good person to talk to about anything regarding managers, agents, songwriters, PR, music production, the whole music ‘life style’ itself really. And I’d love to be there to help people find their way in the right way (with the right people). I know what things to avoid, what can waste your time and money, and what things are worth chasing after. Everything from industry advice down to the granular details in making a song sound brilliant for any genre of music.
Q: The COVID virus has made these days quite stressful. What are you doing to cope and stay sane?
Writing music that’s real, music that has heart to it. Us humans need purpose. It’s important to wake up and know what you want to do with your time.
Q: We hear often about all the negative things that have come from quarantine and the virus. Would you mind sharing a positive story or thing that has come out of quarantine in your life?
There are a lot of silver linings, besides becoming closer with friends and family, I’d say this is a great time to connect with people who might usually be too busy or out touring. Everyone’s locked in working on something cool… Now’s the time to be talking to them. It’s also a time to reflect and adapt.
Q: What can producers and others in the industry do during these solitary months to really jumpstart their careers within the music industry?
Find what they love and experiment with it, try new things, don’t be afraid to spend a day just thinking about ideas and writing them all down before you even start one. It’s a good time to be planning.