In the dynamic world of EDM, Tensteps stands out as an artist who skillfully blends genres and influences to create a distinctive sonic identity. With his upcoming album on the horizon, Tensteps invites us to explore the roots of his unique sound and style by delving into the diverse range of musical influences that have contributed to his artistic evolution.
From Trance to Pop-Punk and beyond, join us as we dive into the inspirations that have shaped Tensteps’ musical landscape.
Hi Tensteps! How are you today?
Doing well, thanks!
To start, throughout your career, what artists or producers have had the most profound influence on your style and sound?
That’s a really tough question to answer because I’m influenced by so many things. Gareth Emery’s Drive-era stuff definitely had a big influence on how I approach melody in Dance music. “U” is still probably one of my favorite songs to this day, and when I first started the Tensteps project one of my biggest goals was to sign something to Garuda, haha. You can hear that melodic influence clearly in something like my song “Ecstasy”. Andrew Rayel’s album “Moments” was also a huge one for me, I’ve listened to some of those songs probably 50-100 times, especially songs like “Forgiven” and “Home” which are so focused on the really catchy vocals. Illenium’s been a massive influence for me as well. The way he creates emotion in his songs is just unmatched. Those are just a couple that come to mind but there’s tons.
Can you share a specific moment or song that you heard early in your musical journey that made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in Electronic Dance music?
I used sing for a Metal band, and we played the Bamboozle festival the same day that Skrillex headlined. I’d heard about him but never really listened to him, so I went to check out his set and was blown away. I was like “How is this possible? How did he make all these crazy, Transformers-fucking sounds?” So, I started going on YouTube and learning to make Dubstep and that was the start of me really learning to produce Electronic music.
Your music often blends elements from various genres. Could you pinpoint a few non-Electronic artists or genres that have played a role in shaping your unique sound?
I grew up on a lot of Pop Punk and post-Hardcore. You hear these influences mostly in my songwriting these days, rather than my production (though there is definitely some of that in the production on my upcoming album). A Day To Remember was my favorite band for a big chunk of my teenage and early 20s years, and I picked up a lot of my songwriting style from Jeremy McKinnon. Mayday Parade was a big thing for me too, they helped me develop my skills of putting emotion into songwriting. I also love Country music, and there’s definitely a Country-lean in some of my lyrics and vocal melodies. That comes from some of the first Country artists I got into, people like Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line. Well-written Country music is so good at being relatable to so many people, it’s an excellent genre to study if you want to learn how to pull people into your songs and make them feel like it was written specifically for them.
Are there any albums or tracks from other genres outside of EDM that you frequently turn to for inspiration?
So many! “Homesick” from A Day To Remember is still one of my favorite albums of all time. When I was making the Rock-influenced track on my album, a track called “Spark”, I was listening to a lot of Motionless In White, I was working on that track right around the time their album “Scoring The End Of The World” came out. That’s just two of them, but there’s so many I couldn’t possibly think of them all.
As your music evolves, do you find yourself drawn more to your earlier influences or do you actively seek out new sounds to incorporate into your productions?
I’m always looking for new sounds. Since finishing the album, I’ve been experimenting with ideas that would fall into genres like Big Room Techno, Hardstyle, Eurodance, Future House, Melodic Bass, there’s tons of stuff that I’ve been playing with. Some of it might get released one day, some might not, but my upcoming album is a sort of closing of Volume 1 of the Tensteps story, and it’s been a lot of fun experimenting with what Volume 2 is going to sound like.
Collaborations can be a creative venue to explore and can influence and inspire. Is there an artist you’ve worked with recently who brought a different perspective that pushed your creative boundaries?
There are precious few collaborations with other producers on my album, most tracks are just me and a singer. But there’s one in particular called “Save My Soul” that I did with my good friend DRKMODE. He’s an absolutely nasty Bass music producer and I was determined to get him on this album one way or another, haha. I had this idea for a Melodic Bass track and I just couldn’t get it where it needed to be, and luckily, he loved it and was down to take it the rest of the way and show me some things along the way
that I’ll absolutely be applying to future records.
Many artists have a “guilty pleasure” genre or artist that they secretly enjoy. Is there a guilty pleasure in music that you find particularly appealing?
I’ve recently discovered drill/UK rap. My wife can’t stand it and makes fun of it every time I put it on in the car, but there’s something about it that’s really unique and interesting from a rhythm perspective. Plus, lyrically it’s a huge departure from American Hip Hop since these rappers are using slang and phrases that we don’t use here in the States. So, it’s just really interesting being exposed to something so different from the Hip Hop we hear constantly in nightclubs and on the radio here in the US.
When it comes to your live performances, do you ever draw inspiration from experiences outside of music, such as films, art, or literature?
I really like epic presentations in all forms, whether music or art or movies, and that definitely translates to my live sets. I want my intros to feel super powerful, as if you were watching the climax of a crazy action movie. I use every ounce of energy I have when I’m performing, being as crowd interactive as possible, making sure to be part of the experience, not just the one pressing play on the music. I see a lot of artists who’s stage presence is really underwhelming, and that’s one of the things that I think holds
people back. People need to feel connected to you not just through the music but with their eyes too. They can see when you’re enjoying it as much as they are, and when you’re not, and they want to be on the same level as you so if your level isn’t high, theirs won’t be either.
Musical evolution is often a journey. Are there any genres or styles you haven’t explored yet but are curious to incorporate into your music in the future?
Honestly, all the ones I mentioned before that I’ve been experimenting with since finishing up the album. None of them have really made it into my music that’s been released so far, so I’m really just dipping my toes into them now and starting to pick up production techniques in those genres, and finding how to connect my signature elements to them. I have a really dope track that’s kind of big roomy that’s almost done and has been getting played out as an ID, and the crowd reaction to that has been insane from what I’ve seen. I’m also just finishing up a more Future House-style track this weekend that I’m pretty excited about. So, we’ll see what the future brings!
Tensteps’ journey through musical influences showcases the intricate web of inspiration that underpins and helped develop his captivating sound. Tensteps’ ability to draw from a wide spectrum of musical styles serves as proof of his artistic versatility. As he continues to evolve and experiment with new sounds, we eagerly anticipate the powerful productions he has yet to unveil. Keep an ear out for his upcoming releases and witness how his sound and style continues to expand, enriching the Electronic
Dance music scene with every beat.