Will Kinsella
August 11, 2020
For our first Elevator Artist feature, we are shining the spotlight on Duvz, a DJ/Producer from Dublin who broke onto the international stage after winning the Soma Records x Splice Producer Challenge in 2019. We first came into contact with Duvz at our Ableton Bootcamps in Dublin and he was one of the first students to join our ARTIST DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM.

Recently we caught up with him to discuss his journey as an artist and his own personal Elevator Program experience.

EC: What motivated you to get into music production?

Duvz: Having started DJing roughly around 2014 when I was in college, I wanted to be able to define my own sound/style and make my sets more unique, put my own stamp on them. I thought the best way to do that was to produce my own songs to play in my sets, so in 2016 I attended some courses in Dublin, which helped me understand things a bit better.

But I still couldn't figure out how to get things sounding how I wanted them to. Then, in 2018, I attended two one day courses with Will Kinsella. One was an Ableton Bootcamp in the old Tivoli Theatre and the other was a small Mixing & Mastering Bootcamp which was held in DIT Aungier Street. Both of these gave me a much better understanding of what I was doing and helped me to finish my first production which happened to win the Soma x Splice Producer Challenge in February 2019.

By then, I was just starting the Artist Development Program with Will via his Elevator Program in order to get a good understanding of how to get my songs to a higher level and to help me figure out more around sound design for synths which was an area I struggled with the most at the beginning.

EC: What drew you to the Elevator Program?

Duvz: Having previously attended the two bootcamp classes that Will hosted in Dublin in 2018 and having read and talked to Will about what was involved, I knew that it would be beneficial to take the next step in terms of the quality of my productions. It would provide me with an opportunity to see first hand how Will works. I hoped to finally be able to get past the block I kept hitting when it came to my synths and leads.

The fact that the course was delivered online was also a major factor as I was also working full time. Time-wise, it made it much easier for me as most alternative courses we're all full-time day courses which I couldn't attend. Having it all online with new content each week allowed me to do it all at my own pace, which was a big help.

EC: Which parts of the course were your favourite?

Duvz: This is a tough one. I think learning how to create my own drum samples in Operator was one that stuck out for me. I now mainly use my own hi-hats, which I created during the course, in all of my productions, but each will be changed slightly to fit with the new project.

The course massively helped me with my synths as I learned more about audio effects and how to use them for sound design. Creating my synths as well as how to get the most out of them, which as I mentioned, was a major sticking point for me as I could just never seem to get the sound I wanted.

Another part of the course that has influenced how I work is the use of clip view to gather my ideas, do all my processing and mixing and also get the basic structure of a track nailed down before even going to arrangement view. I think I now spend maybe 90% of my time in clip view whereas before I would work in arrangement view and get stuck in a loop with no idea how to build up to or back from that loop.

EC: How was your journey through the course? Was the workflow easy to follow?

Duvz: I really enjoyed this course as I was able to watch the videos in my own time. I never felt under pressure making it easier to enjoy and easier to take in the information. How the course was structured and run by Will was excellent. It really broke down every part of the process into great detail but was spread out so as you weren't getting information overload.

There were a few times where I found myself still having to go over some of the videos several times, and each time I picked up on something new. I never felt overwhelmed at any stage by the amount of information due to how it's broken down week by week. The fact I could do it in my own time too meant that I could watch the videos while sitting at my PC and try out some of the techniques and topics being discussed which I found helped to take a lot of it in too.

EC: What did you like about your tutor?

Duvz: I found Will to be very helpful as a tutor. When he would listen to the tracks I was working on through the course of the program, he would point out things he noticed that I could do differently or better and would explain how. If I had any questions, he was always willing to answer them for me. 

Even since completing the course, Will has mastered some tracks of mine, and in doing so, he has noticed errors I may have been making and helped me to correct these and learn better ways to get things sounding how I wanted without harming the mix or choking any of the elements.

EC: Where do you feel you have improved most?

Duvz: Everywhere. I always found I was quite good at getting the drum patterns I wanted and a nice groove to my drums and tops, but how I process the drums has majorly improved. But the biggest improvement I've noticed in myself is definitely the synths. My current issue with synths is deciding where I want to take a track and what kind of synth I want, whereas before I didn't know how to make the sound I wanted.

I think I've also improved a lot in terms of my mixing of tracks. The course taught me how to do this as I now find not only the final mixdown a lot easier, but also the whole process of putting the track together as you can hear it coming together piece by piece. You hear how each part will fit in the mix as you develop them. So I think the course has helped me improve all round as an artist and producer.

EC: What are you working on now?

Duvz: I am currently working on tracks for a few things actually. I plan to release an EP on my own label, Platform, at some stage. I've begun working on an opening track for this which is a bit more experimental and different from my previous work, while still fitting with the sound and style that I like to play and produce. I am also still working away and sending on any tracks that I finish which I think will be suited to Soma Records and I have an EP coming out with Distrackt Records.