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Interview with Adam Reifsteck (Sonic Fear), Founder of Teknofonic Recordings

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Ryan: Your newest release Teknofonic Essentials Vol. 1 is impressively packed with songs. How long did it take to put this album together?

Adam: We have had a very exciting year at Teknofonic Recordings with around 70 releases. It seemed only natural to release a retrospective compilation that highlights the musical achievements of our diverse roster. Working collaboratively with our artists, we have created a compilation that we feel has something for everyone and hopefully showcases the innovation that is possible in electronic dance music.

Ryan: How long has Teknofonic Recordings been running and how many artists are currently in your roster?

Adam: The label was officially launched in May 2015. Since then, we have signed over 40 artists from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Russia, Germany, Czech Republic, Sweden, Colombia, and Brazil. What sets us apart from other electronic music labels is that we operate outside the traditional label model by allowing our artists to maintain complete ownership and creative control over their music–which is unheard of in this industry.  As an artist myself, I wanted to provide an opportunity where artists can stay independent and explore their creativity while getting some of the benefits and support you would get by being on a record label. Artists really want a better way to get their music out there to fans and putting their interests first is what really helped the label grow tremendously in the last year.

Ryan: You have one track titled I’ll Be Your World featuring Veela. Can you tell us a bit about the song and the meaning behind it?

Adam: “I’ll Be Your World” is an introspective song about love, loss, and uncertainty. This track is off of my first Sonic Fear EP titled “Horizon.” In electronic music production there is this concept of top-lining where the producer creates a track and a singer records a series of vocal samples, which the producer then places on top of the music. At the time I was writing and producing the EP, I had come across a collection of a cappella samples created by the Canadian singer Veela. These samples fit perfectly with the song I was writing. In her vocal sample collection she sings various random phrases. I pieced together several of these to bring the song to life. The phrase, “Drops are getting in my shoes and laces alone can’t take away my blues” and “Are you only passing through or are you going to love me” don’t really make sense out of context, but really spoke to what I was experiencing in my own life at the time. So when pieced together in the context of my song, it kind of make sense in a way.

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 Ryan: What does your own personal song writing process look like?

Adam: I always start with the melody. Typically, it starts with short musical phrases I find myself humming to myself throughout the day that I eventually piece together. I then build the harmony around that. Song-form is very important to me as well, so I will also map out the song making sure it has a cohesive structure even before writing down the melody and harmonies.

Ryan: Where do you gather inspiration from?

Adam: I know it sounds cliché, but life experiences. Music is a form of storytelling so naturally it would be a reflection of whatever happens to us either personally or as a society. My music tends to be more personal. I’m also a hiker, so being connected to nature really helps me find the music within, which is often hard to do when you live in New York City. But it is important to unplug as often as one can. I also gather inspiration from other artists. As a label owner, I am surrounded by music everyday, whether it is music from my own roster or from artists on other labels. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such innovative musicians.

Ryan: I am sure that you enjoy every track on this great album, but do you have any particular current favorites?

Adam: It’s a very tough call. But if I had to chose, it would be “Limits” by 3logit—a killer live EDM band that combines rock and heavy metal with dubstep; Jon Lambousis’ “Confusion” which brings in the electric guitar into the EDM world; Elastic Plastic Generation’s self-titled track that brings in some quirkiness; and Addliss’ “The End” that concludes the compilation with a timeless trance-style anthem. These tracks in particular I feel demonstrate the various styles of music and artists our label represents.

Ryan: At this point in your musical career, what are some of your most memorable highlights?

Adam: As a contemporary classical composer, I have been blessed with opportunities to work with several internationally acclaimed ensembles, had my works premiered in major New York City venues, and received grants for my work from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, among others. While I continue to work in the contemporary classical music scene, I have found myself equally at home in the electronic music community. I don’t really see myself as a DJ, so being able to start a record label to support other artists and really see it grow so fast in the past year is perhaps one of the greatest highlights so far on that particular side of my music career.

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Ryan: What advice do you have for anyone looking to join the Teknofonic Recording roster?

Adam: We support forward-thinking artists producing genre-bending electronic dance music and give a platform for emerging talent to reach diverse audiences. At its core, the label seeks to unite adventurous listeners with the boundary-crossing creators who are not afraid to revolutionize the electronic dance music scene. So if you are making awesome electronic music that doesn’t quite fit the mainstream and breaks down the genre walls, we want to hear from you. We recommend you send your best work and have a collaborative spirit.

 Ryan: How many songs did you have to go through to find the twenty that fill out this album?

Adam: We now have over 100 songs now in our catalogue so getting to 20 songs that best represented the label and its artists wasn’t an easy task. So it was with the help of our roster that we were able to select the tracks that were included for our first volume of Teknofonic “essentials.” Naturally, with such a vibrant and forward-thinking roster, Volume 2 is not far behind.

Ryan: Lastly, and thank you for your time. Do you have any news that you would like to share with your fans?

Adam: We have some very exciting releases coming up on Teknofonic. Some highlights include: the release of Addliss’ EP “Boundaries” on May 3; label regular M!nts will be releasing his debut album on May 13; and we welcome newcomer Current Control with his debut album “Of Oblivion Bubbles” which will release on May 27. As an artist, I’m working on a remix project with the Mana Saxophone Quartet that will combine classical music with electronic dance music, which will have several performances throughout the U.S. in 2017.

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