When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?
So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from Canada, the Toronto-based electronic talent HNTR (aka Hunter Siegel).
How did you spend most of your pandemic time? For me, the pandemic didn’t change much of my day-to-day life, other than making a few aspects more difficult to navigate. I still am able to get up and go to the studio every day and make a ton of music. I wasn’t really into seeing other humans anyways. I managed to keep my release sched moving. I made a ton of music, DJed a bunch, kept looking for new music to release on my label, and did my best not to let it affect my day-to-day.
Have things changed over time? Unfortunately, where I am, in Canada, not for the better… [nervous laugh]
Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? Oh man, did I ever. We had some stuff in the pipeline that we had been working years to make happen, including the first series of festival stages for my event brand No Neon. So did everyone, though. I was also super-fortunate to get to play one of the best shows of my career – I know 99-percent of even the most successful DJs can’t say that. Towards the end of last year, I was asked to play a pair of back-to-back shows with deadmau5, and was lucky to get to spend a bit of time with him backstage.
Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? My label No Neon has been steadily releasing music from a bunch of artists and has now entered the digital art space selling works via a brand partnership with Blockparty.co. We are excited about the vast possibilities from the various use cases of NFTs and it’s only the beginning for us. Without touring, I also managed to find more time to do songwriting with and for other artists, which I have done a bit of in the past, but sort of put on the back-burner, as it can become pretty time-consuming.
Have you learned anything in the downtime? I learned that if you keep even a somewhat positive mindset and press on, you can still accomplish great things in even the toughest of times. Skill-wise, I had all these great plans to learn a bunch of programs I have been interested in picking up, but ended up not being able to find the extra motivation with all the time I’m spending on music. Maybe next pandemic.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? Thankfully, I have managed to maintain a high level of output the entire time. I just followed up my “Mind Games” EP on my own label No Neon with my first release on mau5trap titled “Shadows In The Dark.” The rest of the year is looking packed, no signs of slowing up.
What’s in your studio? I have a bit of a hybrid setup with lots of analog synths and drum machines, as well as some hardware effects and summing, but I still do a lot of the work in the box. I like to switch up what I’m using to keep it interesting. My current go-to items are the ASM Hydrasynth, Dave Smith Pro 3, Oberheim Matrix 6, and I’ve been using my ’90s E-mu sampler for drums and a bit of extra grit. I use Ableton Live to track arrange and mix and, other than UAD, I’m gonna give a big shout-out to Soundtoys – I use their stuff every single session.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? How unbelievably adaptable human beings are. It’s surprising to see all the different ideas people have been able to come up with to keep their businesses going. Props to everyone figuring it out.
Have you done anything online recently? Yes, I have been doing the virtual thing the whole time here and there. I recently have done sets for Groove Cruise and Circuit which can be found on my YouTube, as well as an absolute ton of mixes on my SoundCloud.
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career and life – as tough as this is, the fact it’s completely out of our control makes it simple to deal with. You can’t control the pandemic, but you can control how to react to it. Really, what can you do other than keep pushing on?
To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.
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