EXCLUSIVE: Interview with producer Heren

Heren is a producer from Barcelona with over 40 releases to his name. A former member of Spanish dance act YALL, his breakthrough came when their single ‘Hundred Miles’ became a viral hit with over 160 million streams worldwide. The song was used in TV campaigns by Desigual and Pepsi.

In 2016, Heren decided to focus on his own music and creativity, releasing a series of tracks and remixes. One of his solo releases, ‘Here & Now’, has amassed over three million streams worldwide and received support in Europe and South America. A singles remix package was also released, including remixes by Embody, Ramon Esteve and Heren himself. Additionally, ‘One Life’, one of Heren’s most recent offerings, is featured as part of Desigual’s ‘Exotic Jeans’ campaign. The campaign video has over 1.2 million views.

Heren’s production work has also crossed into the world of film. Working with Mr.K, he completed four of the main songs for the soundtrack of ‘Kiki el amor se hace’. The lead song, ‘Kiki’, has been nominated for Best Original Track For A Motion Picture at the 2017 Spanish Goya Awards.

We recently caught up with Heren to talk about his musical journey, remixing his own track, having sole control over his music and what 2017 has in store.

How did your producing journey begin?

It’s my Mother actually who introduced me to music, she’s a music teacher. I then studied solfège (theory) at the music conservatory, although I never specialized in an instrument in particular. After Djing for a few years I discovered the world of music production when I was 19. I remember hearing “Discovery” from Daft Punk and losing my mind! I’ve never looked back since then and hopefully I will reach their level someday…

Your most recent track is ‘One Life’. What was the inspiration behind the song?

When the fashion brand Desigual asked me to create a song for their new campaign I went through the collection they wanted to feature. It was very fresh and colourful and incorporated some ethnic touches (as you can see in the campaign). I wanted to transmit that optimism and sense of “inclusion” into the song by adding elements from different styles of music.

What was the production process like?

I’ve always been very inspired by both classical pop and electronic music and I’ve always liked to create bridges between both styles. For this track I wanted to create a more minimalistic approach to pop music, using simple rhythmic elements where the vocal part could have a strong presence and be part of the melody while adding some elements from what I guess we could call “world music”. This was going to give the organic feel to the song. Then I added a strong bass line and distorted synth melodies to provide that electronic vibe. I wanted to create a story, this is why the way the song is produced with many different parts to it, some more mellow, others more intense.

‘One Life’ and some of your other tracks have been featured on a number of advertising campaigns. How does it make you feel, knowing that your songs are getting global recognition?

It’s fantastic! Knowing that these brands trust and support your work, it’s a huge honour. Thanks to them my music not only has reached newer and wider audiences but it also allowed me to work alongside different artists from other fields such as designers, film makers and photographers which is always insightful and something interesting to do from a creative perspective.

Last year you released ‘Here and Now’, alongside a remix pack. How did you choose which artists to work with?

I wanted each remix to provide a different feel to the original and wanted them to be dance floor ready. I met Embody during a gig in Lithuania for example and I’ve been a fan of his music since then. I thought that his style could provide a more “housier” approach to the song and that’s what he did. I think he did a really good job!

Ramón is a good friend of mine, and a very talented producer. He asked me for the acapella of the song as he had an idea he wanted to try. When he sent me the result I was really impressed! I decided to release it straight away! Hats off to him!

The remix pack also included your own remix of the song. How did you go about the challenge of remixing your own song?

I think remixing your own song it’s a bit like playing chess against yourself hahaha. However it helps you to try new things and come up with new ideas or even production processes. It’s a great way to keep learning. In this case I wanted to create a big room sound for the peak hours of the night.

Congratulations on your nomination for Best Original Song at the Spanish Goya Awards! What does it mean to you to be nominated?

Thank you. It’s a great honour and was a complete surprise actually! I felt very happy when I heard the news. All the artists involved as well as the production company worked very hard to produce a piece of music that could fit well with the vibe and theme of the movie so the nomination is a reward of all our efforts combined.

The whole process has been an amazing journey. Working for the movie industry is something I’ve never done before and it’s been a very enriching experience. Something I look very forward to do again.

As a former member of YALL, how does it feel to now have sole control over your music?

Being a part of YALL was a great experience and a period of my life I keep very good memories from. However, I’ve always liked working alone in the studio as well. I keep changing my mind on tracks whenever I have a new idea so obviously being 100% in control makes the process a lot faster. When I work alone I enter into some sort of a meditative state that I enjoy a lot and from which I end up getting interesting ideas. Truth is though, I always enjoy working or collaborating with other people; it’s a lot of fun and you can learn a lot from working as a team.

You’ve released a lot of remixes on Soundcloud. How do you choose which songs to remix?

I need to hear something special I can work with. It can be a sound, a synth a kick drum… For the ones who are more pop oriented the vocal part is everything to me, I need to like it to do it. But generally I need to like the original and be inspired by it.

What are some of the biggest differences you’ve seen in this business?

I would say people in general, from fans to artists, and even executives, are much more open to think outside the box in terms of music genres. We are seeing a lot of crossovers, people trying new things, artists from different genres collaborating together. I love that.

If we go a bit more technical, I also love the fact that virtual instruments are allowing artists to be much more creative and come up with new techniques. Classic instruments are not used the same way. You can make a percussion track from a vocal and a melody from a drum kick. Sky can be the limit when it comes to production.

What does 2017 have in store for HEREN?

2017 has started super strong! Many festival and gigs have been confirmed already so it seems I am going to travel quite a lot. My new single is about to drop soon and I am working on a handful of remixes for very strong artists. I am also working on new material that I want to release under a new alias. It will be more of a personal project, much more dance floor oriented. And I have many other solid projects I am currently working on that will soon be unveiled. Overall people will be hearing a lot about me in the coming months : )

A big thank you to Heren for his time! We can’t wait to see what else he releases this year.

Keep up to date with him on Facebook, Soundcloud, Instagram and Twitter

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Written by Katrina Rees

I'm Katrina, or Kat to pretty much everyone. I'm an editor for CelebMix, a content writer, a boyband lover and an all round music fanatic.
Twitter: @lifeofkatrina