USED: Xenthor - "I need the vocals to tell the story for me until I got the skills to do it myself"

In our blog series "USED" we are featuring established as well as upcoming artists and producers, who are using our vocal samples.

In today's post, we talk to Xenthor - an electronic music producer from Nürnberg, Germany. He has been producing Big Room, pop, electro and house songs for about 2 years now. He talks about his dream to make a crowd move, where he came from and how he got where he is now. 

In one of his latest tracks - "Sweet Love", he is using a vocal from our Lovely Vocals sample pack. 

You can hear it on SoundCloud.


Producer: Xenthor (Nürnberg, Germany)

Producing For: About 2 years

DAW: FL Studio

Describe your music genre in your own words: 

First Classic Electronic music, now I believe its a mixture of Big Room, Pop, and Electro with slight House influences. Pretty hard to describe it accurately.  

YouTube | SoundCloud

Did you have a single life event that got you into music production or did it happen gradually? Tell us more about how you started making music. 

I believe it started when my ex-girlfriend left me and there was a hole in my life. First I tried games but they didn’t quite occupy my creative side. I got a copy of my uncle's FL Studio for a birthday and it was a great opportunity for me just to let the spirit flow. I got addicted somehow and I ended up spending up more time watching YouTube tutorials than actually being productive.

The lifestyle changed when I decided to go public with my music about 3 months ago. Well, and here I am now, with better plugins and more possibilities to express myself.

Do you think growing up in your location helped shape your music style in any way? Tell us more about the local scene, your early influences and what kind of music do you like to listen to yourself. 

Actually, I believe my surroundings only helped me partially becoming a producer. I’m from the lower middle social segment and we didn’t have a lot of money for our hobbies, or for free time in general.

My grandmother bought me a drum set when I was 5 years old, I played it for over 9 years. I believe that got me into the rhythm; creating something for myself was nothing new for me at the time, as I was creating new beats all the time.

The first steps were slow but steady and I am a quick learner. I decided to write to several popular artists and got some useful tips back on how to improve. My dad always listens to Rock and Metal bands, but I only like the songs who have a lot of melody in them. I’m a fan of melodies, I like them in all kinds. My first songs were single layer melodies, with a slow beat and some minor mixing (they sound terrible if I listen to them now), I got into music theory by watching the video tutorials I mentioned earlier, they really helped me improve.

What kind of music I listen to is a hard question to answer. Personally, I enjoy every kind of genre, as long as it meets some basic rules of music, like having a catchy or epic melody, nicely layered chords, and good mixing.

But there has to be the effort and the love of the artist shining through. It makes no sense if an artist only produces for money, and I believe you can actually hear that from the music.

How often do you find time to produce music and do you consider music the dream path of your life? Do you mix and master all your songs yourself?

As a rather young producer, it’s hard to find the time to produce music. I had finals in school and needed to plan ahead for my future. Every kind of musician or generally artist encounters this “No-Step-Back”-Point in your life, where you finally decide, if the stuff you are creating actually fulfills you, if it is worth the time you’re putting into it.

It’s just that kind of feeling you get when you finally decide which path to take in life, but I don't believe I have reached this point in my life yet, but who knows what comes next? I want to show people what I can do, what my small existence is capable of. And what fits better than music, or how Coone would say it, the “Universal Language”?

Yes, I do mix and master my songs all by myself, I use different headsets and speakers, such as mobile speakers as a reference to try and get the most out of my song. But its also a decision made with money; as a small artist I need to save it, so it’s much cheaper to just learn it myself.

Can you name your top 3 plugins for editing audio you use the most?

These would be Sytrus, Maximus and reFX Nexus 2. I really like how sometimes the sound just comes together by itself. As soon as I earn money with my music or on Patreon, I will try and get myself Serum, because it’s just so good for my purposes. And yes, I left out the EQ, but really, who doesn’t use this the most?

If you could give a single piece of advice for music production to your younger self what that would be? (Or what do you consider as one of the most important lessons you have learned about making music since you have started?)

There is only one piece of advice I would give my earlier self:

Yes, it really takes that long. As a musician you need to put in the hours, the heart, the blood, there can’t be a master from one day to the other. Nothing is more worth than the lessons learned from mistakes.

The tricks and tips from professionals, the power to make it sound good to you; there is no way you can actually do this if you don’t take yourself the time to do it properly. My younger self is much more motivated, much more eager to go ahead, but it needs the practice first, it needs to train its ears and so much more.

How often do you use vocal samples in your tracks and what kind of vocals do you usually search for and enjoy using?

I’m the kind of guy who believes, that vocals make every song better. If a song has no vocals, it would be better with vocals. That is my opinion, and therefore every single one of my newer songs uses vocals.

The second question is a bit tougher to answer though: I’m usually searching for feminine vocals who fit nicely into the EDM-spectrum, not too much variance in the voice, epic but powerful.

I really enjoy it when I can tell a story with my songs, two of the artists, who took a lot of influence on my style were F-777, a bitpop-electronic musician, and Waterflame, he produced mostly for games and his style is very unique. Both of them could tell a story just with their music and I thought that this way was just so much better than telling stories “normally”. It’s so much more than just text, music transports feelings and pictures, and that's what I want my music to become.

At the same time, I want to evolve it to a new style and new sounds, but that takes, well, practice. And that's why I need the vocals to tell the story for me until I got the skills to do it myself.

Do you have a specific process for editing vocals in particular or plug-ins you always use for that purpose?

Of course, I believe everyone who works with vocals on a regular basis has some of these. For me though, it’s the cheap version: I use Fruity Fast Distort to give them a little bit more warmth, compress them with Maximus and finally EQ them a little to fit the rest of my song.

Sometimes I add some more modulation, for example when the backing vocals need to be distorted more or there is some high or low pass filtering going on, but there needs to be a delay and reverb plugin 100% of the time, or the vocal just sounds so small and sudden. Often I back them with synths or pads to give them a more tonally fitting sound, and in rare cases, I correct them a bit with Newtone.

Overall, the vocals get the most effect-plugin-love I can possibly give in a song.

How did you process the vocal sample in your “Sweet Love” track that’s part of our "Lovely Vocals" sample pack?

I’m just going to summarize the effect chain, but first of all, I’m going over how I integrated them into the music. I started the song with the vocal samples, there was nothing else except them, until I found a nice house track without vocals, and I thought: “I can do better than that.”

So I took the vocals and tried to make some house. And well, that’s what turned out to fit the vocals perfectly: the minimalistic melody and the layering was ideal because it let enough room for the vocals who in turn came out very strong. It was an experiment for me, and the experiment was successful.

Ok now let's go over what I have used to make them sound like they do. I started with some delay and reverb, but not too much, just to make the beautiful voice sound more open and bigger. The next thing I did, was using vocodex as a reverb and delay modificator, it really helps to design the vocal to where you want it to be. A Love Philter was added for the slight damping effect and some interesting automation in the first and second break.

After all that, I used a Fruity Compressor to add some more volume to the sound. I wanted it to pierce through the chords, but still have them as a backing layer. The last thing to do was to EQ the sample properly, a Fruity parametric EQ 2 came in handy for that. That was the basic effect chain for the vocals in Sweet Love. But wait there is more!

The backing vocals in the second break had three more effect plugins in addition to the ones mentioned above: an Effector, FreeG and a Krush in that order. That distorted the vocals much more and also crushed the sounds a bit so they would sound like a pad in the background. It also gave me a lot more modulation to play with, so the Effector gives the vocal a kind of “textured” feeling, while the Krush turns in into an even sound-mash. It came out great, and I’m proud of it. 

What did you like about working with our vocal samples?

It’s not hard to explain why I chose specifically vocal samples. First of all, the quality and cleanness of the sound are just astounding, to say the least.

It’s literally so clean, I once accidentally clicked on one and though she was right behind me for a split-second. Moving on, it’s so easy to make a song around them. They are very big and take a lot of room, but if you learn to use them, they are fantastic to get ideas and be creative.

Do you see yourself as a music artist touring and playing your music live, or rather staying in the studio and producing music for other people?

A little bit of both. First of all, I want people to notice me, tell me that they like the way I do stuff, that being unique in a world of individuals has some worth. These are just my basic human needs being fulfilled, I think.

Secondly, I want to make a crowd move. Being an artist in an electronic genre means almost all the time also being a DJ. That’s what I want, it’s a feeling I just need to experience, and, I must admit, it really keeps me going.

There’s also something else. My studio is currently my PC and a small MIDI-Keyboard. I like that. I don’t need a lot of money to make my dreams come true, I just need these two items, to really achieve my inner peace. I want to learn how to use them with the most efficiency, I want to make the most out of that. I want to acquire as much information as possible about music production and music in general. That is my goal!

Do you have any upcoming releases in the plans? Have you considered releasing an EP or even an album? Tell us more on what’s next for you.

Of course, I’m currently working on four different projects, two of them collaborations.

On top of that, my first EP “Illuminate” is about to drop, I just don’t know when exactly yet. But for me, it’s regardless of all this just practice.

I need to produce as much as possible, make mistakes and then, of course, learn from them. If I want to be on the top one day, I can’t rest.

Do you want to get featured? Send us a track you have created using our vocal samples and we will consider featuring it in our blog.

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