Words by Keane Fletcher
We interview a lot of artists. Some are big. Some are just getting started. And a lot of them are in-between. But it isn't often that we get to sit down with someone of Felix De Laet's calibre, a bone-fide global superstar who -- under his internationally recognised pseudonym, Lost Frequencies -- has amassed the kind of accolades and streaming stats that artists only dream about.
Here's a little taster:
- He's amassed over 2 billion streams.
- His breakthrough track 'Are You With Me' hit multi-platinum status, taking the #1 spot in 18 countries (and helping him become the first Belgian artist to hit #1 in the UK), and his follow-up track, ‘Reality’ flew to platinum status in no less than 7 territories.
- He's performed at a host of the world’s most important festivals including Coachella, Tomorrowland, Lollapalooza, the EDC in Los Vegas, and even joined fellow chart-dominators The Chainsmokers on their 'Memories' arena tour.
- He launched his own label Found Frequencies in 2017.
- And, just to show that his unique electronic style can lend itself to multi-dimensional pop, he's also contributed his tropical-infused sound to remixes on Major Lazer, Justin Bieber & MØ’s ‘Cold Water’, Miley Cyrus’s ‘Malibu’ and LSD Labrinth/Diplo/Sia's 'Thunderclouds'.
That's...well...that's A LOT! And now he's back with another smash hit, enlisting the smooth vocals of British-pop star Calum Scott for his latest piece of ear-wormy tropical house, 'Where Are You Now ft. Calum Scott'.
To celebrate the success of the single, we sat down with Felix De Laet himself in order to get to know a little bit more about the man behind the music. You won't be disappointed! We talk everything from his writing process to the pressures of the music industry, and how actually, in real life, he's really quite shy. Tell that to the stadiums full of fans my friend!
Check out our interview below!
So first question is where are you now?
I'm in my office in Brussels.
Congratulations on the new song. How does it feel to see 'Where Are You Now' doing so well?
It's kind of crazy to think that it’s doing so well. I had a really big hit, 'Are You With Me' around six years ago and then I had a lot of different tracks in between that also performed really well but not as good. Now to have 'Where Are You Now' doing the same kind of process as 'Are You With Me' is really incredible because I never really thought I would have something like that again. I'm super happy to be able to experience something like this again.
Can you tell us a little bit about the story behind the song and took us through the process of putting it together from conception to end result?
Yeah, so I worked with some German songwriters on the track. When I first heard the first demo, I was like: I like it, but there's something kind of cheesy about it that I don't really like. So I had to move a lot of things around, change it to instrumental, play around with it and my arrangement in the start was like seven minutes long. Calum and I had already talked about doing something together a few years ago but it didn’t work out. Then this track came about so I sent it to Calum and he liked it! Calum recorded some vocals and sent it back over to me. It was cool because his vocal took out that cheesy moment I didn't like because his vocals are more honest and deep. That really inspired me to get the track finished.
It actually was a really long production process as well because I kept hesitating between two different kick drums, there was one that was kind of harder, which would have been good for the clubs but not as good for radio. And then there is the one that I used in the end which is softer, which is good for the radio, less so for the clubs. It was messing with my head at the time, I didn’t know what I should do because I was working so long on it. In the end I'm super happy with the final result.
Obviously you collaborate with a lot of different artists. Calum Scott being the most recent, how does the collaboration process usually work for you? And what is, secondary question, what was your most memorable moment from collaborating with Calum?
Well so first of all my collaboration process is kind of lonely I guess. I like to be on my own because I don't think of myself as the best producer ever because when I produce I mostly mess around, trying new sounds, trying different things. And I wouldn't want to have somebody next to me judging me on what I'm doing at that moment. So that's why I always like to be alone. Then when I have a demo or when I have something I like, I like to send it over to people I vibe with for their vocals. There’s a lot of back and forth and it is kind of a weird process but for me it’s kind of like a safe space.
And my favourite moment with Callum: really working on vocals. He was so picky with some things. Like the first vocal recording he sent to me, was actually a demo for him but for me, I really loved it, I was like just give me the raw stems I'm going to put it in the track. I couldn’t wait to work on it. He's like, no, this is not the final version, I need to re-record it and he went back in studio to re-record. And then he sent it to me, I did the mix and then I sent it back over to him. And then there was one word he didn't like so he was like, maybe I'm gonna re-record just this word and you can put it back together. It's like, but the vibe is gonna be different, the colours may be different when you record the vocals one month later, the voice is different, then the you put the settings in a different way then everything comes slightly different out. So I was like oh no, don't do this. And then he did it and I had to put it together and I had to fix it, but he was super, like it was actually a really good challenge. And also I wanted to do all of the things, because I really wanted him to listen to the track and not hear something he doesn't like. So it was a whole process but in the end very rewarding.
For the listeners in Australia who might be familiar with your hits but less familiar with the man behind them, can you give us a quick rundown on how you got started in music?
Okay, so I started when I was 21. That was when my first big single came out and really started to chart. That was 'Are You With Me' and I was studying economics and I was producing in my bedroom with my laptop, I didn't have a lot of equipment. I grew as a DJ producer, more producer slash DJ because the easy way of performing was DJ set. Then I started to travel around the world. I’m from Belgium and so I played Tomorrowland a few times, who really supported me early on. From there it’s grown and now I also have a live show with a band and various singers to create a different experience than a DJ set as a performance. Now here we are six, seven years later, still in the music industry, which is kind of crazy because it's moving so fast. But I'm super happy to still be here, still being able to do what I love. And after these interviews, I'm going to go to a studio and make music which is literally my dream. So I'm living my life I guess.
That's incredible. And you're self taught as well? I think I read that somewhere on Youtube.
I'm self-taught. I didn't go to music school. I just watched a lot of YouTube videos, like a lot haha
What's something you'd like people to know about you that they perhaps don't know already?
Maybe that actually in my private life, I'm more of a shy guy. When I'm Lost Frequencies I try to be super open because people expect me to be, you know? Sometimes being shy can come across as being rude and that's not something I want, so I really force myself to be really super open with people. But in private life and if you see me at a private party, I'm the one in the corner chilling and watching the crowd dancing.
Has the success of your previous releases changed the way you approach music. Do you feel the pressure? Or is it exciting to know you have so many fans waiting to see what you'll drop next?
Well, the electronic music scene is always moving very quickly. I feel like every two years there's something new coming up. Different kinds of music, different sounds, different way, different arrangements. And for me I came up when the genre that was very famous was tropical house, so I really started out with that and I found it fairly easy to produce. Now, I’m more focused on sound design rather than just creating a catchy tune. I know what I’m doing now haha, maybe it's getting a little bit too nerdy sometimes, but that's something I like. I'm excited to see how I grow as a producer and also what’s funny is that I'm now getting feedback from artists that I really respect (from the commercial and underground world) people that come to me and they asked me if we can work together. And that's something very rewarding just for myself, it's something that I'm happy that I'm achieving at the moment.
Do you have any plans for an album before 2021 is up?
Not before 2021 because that means I will have to release it literally like the next two weeks! So it's probably going to be more for Spring 2022 Summer 2022, something like that.
How does the future look for Lost Frequencies?
At the moment, the future looks bright. I mean, I have a new single charting everywhere in the world. Hopefully new friends discovering my music. And I have a lot of booking requests coming in for shows. Plus I’m starting to headline and co headline festivals and events which is something very rewarding! It's super crazy to see myself go all the way from down the bottom of a lineup to the top. I hope I can deliver the show that people are expecting me to deliver, I don't want to disappoint people so there's still a lot of challenges coming up. But challenges are good because if there is no challenges then it's not fun.
Thanks for stopping by Hipland!