Aug 16, 2012

Nick Terranova, aka Starkillers, became a buzz name in EDM when “Pressure” dropped last year, but he’s much more than a one-hit wonder. He talks about an upcoming track on Universal, his new dubstep project, & some of the best career advice he’s received in our interview.

Olav Basoski - The Rain (Starkillers Remix) [Spinnin']
LessThan3: In your In The Studio videos, it seems like you use a good mixture of hardware & software in your productions. Do you find yourself moving more toward software, or do you still use a lot of hardware, and what are your favorites in both mediums?
Nick: I’m all in the box when I produce–I produce everything inside the computer. We also use the Mackie Big Knob, which is a small mixer/control pad that you can hook up to several pairs of speakers. For the sound card, we use the MOTU UltraLite. For monitors, I don’t use anything but DynAudio—those are a must in the studio. As for software, we use Waves, Nexus, and Zebra. Zebra is the main sound you’d hear from Starkillers.
LessThan3: You keep saying “we”—isn’t Starkillers a solo act?
Nick: It is, but any time I’m doing a Starkillers project I’m always working with Dmitry KO. We’re musical partners across the board. I perform live by myself, but if I’m in the studio you will always find Dmitry with me.
LessThan3: Talk to us about your experience with Nadia Ali on Pressure—in your opinion, what was the magic formula that propelled this track to success?
Nick: Working with Nadia was amazing—we worked remotely on some remixes before we came together in the studio and wrote the original for Pressure, Keep It Coming, and Control, which is not out yet. Once we got together we found that we had a serious chemistry, so both of us stepped our game up. Nadia’s a very interesting writer, and I’m a bit more edgy than her normal stuff, so I think that combination really worked well. People can relate to Pressure; they understand what it means. The song is about the pressure of the music industry, what people expect of you, how hard it is to stay on top, and staying focused.
LessThan3: When you write a song that you want to include vocals, do you already have a vocalist in mind or do you pitch it around and see who bites?
Nick: When I’m producing, I usually don’t think about having a vocalist on it, sometimes it just works out that way. What happens usually is I will take one of the songs we’ve already made and I’ll give it to a vocalist and have them record a whole new song over it. Then I’ll take it and redo the whole thing, and make it an original. With Natalie Paris on Shut It Down, she just tweeted me—I didn’t know who she was. I listened to her stuff and thought it was good so I contacted her and said “hey, let’s work together.”
LessThan3: If you could commission any artist to remix one of your tracks, who would it be?
Nick: If I could get ahold of him, Axwell would be amazing. To be able to be in the grace of his presence would be amazing.
LessThan3: What is your favorite electronic music track?
Nick: Nadia’s Rapture is so classic and cool—you can play it any time and get a huge reaction. It’s always gonna be around, it will always be remixed.
LessThan3: What’s the smartest piece of advice you’ve ever been given as a DJ/producer?
Nick: There are two instances I can think of—one was in 2001. Paul Oakenfold was around, and I had just lost my job at a club that had been shut down. I didn’t ever want my career to be affected by a club again, so I asked him “How do I get to where if a club shuts down it’s not the end of my job?” His response was “You gotta make your own music.” So I did, and here we are. Gerhard Joost also told me once, “when you’re in the music business don’t ever say you can’t do it. Always say ‘yes, I can do it’ and then figure it out from there.” That has stuck with me ever since.
LessThan3: Who are some up-and-comers who you think are the “next big thing?”
Nick: Dmitry KO is about to blow the doors off the industry; I’m not just saying this because he’s my partner. Richard Beynon is another guy I really support.
LessThan3: What kind of projects do you have in the works?
Nick: I just signed a single to Universal Republic with Natalie Paris and Richard Baynon called What Does Tomorrow Bring? We are actually shooting a video for it in a week. I also have After Midnight with Marcella Woods, Michael Woods’ sister, coming down the pike. Dmitry and I have a new single coming out called Feel The Love with Amba Shepherd. Finally, I’ve started a dubstep project called Torch, and we’re just now getting into that. That project was signed to Quantum, which is a dubstep/drum’n’bass label run by ThreeSixZero. The project is more cinematic and pop than it is brostep and hard. We used rock drums, melodic basslines—it’s something you can listen to in your car, if you’re f*cking, if you’re at home, but it can also drop hard in the club. The reaction I’ve been getting is “I don’t like dubstep, but I do like this stuff.”
LessThan3: If the world were ending in LessThan3 minutes, and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
Nick: Light My Fire by The Doors.
LessThan3: Describe your sound in LessThan3 words.
Nick: Original, Impactful, Memorable.
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