Know your sound, I mean really know your sound. I wasted a lot of time trying to play EVERYTHING when all I needed was to focus on a particular sound. And when I mean sound, that doesn’t necessarily mean a certain genre — it can be a group of genres that compliment each other.
As a part of our series about music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Luis del Carmen.
Luis del Carmen is a San Francisco-based techno DJ and producer currently living in Manila. His style of music can be best described as dark, cinematic melodies combined with the beauty of dark tension and aggression found in techno. Under a different alias, Luis has released tracks on labels such as Numen, IAMT Techburst Records, Blackhole Records and Eclipse. Armed with a new arsenal of tracks and musical direction, Luis del Carmen proudly revamps his sound and brings forth a new spirit with his name. On other days, Luis spends his time studying and working on cinematic sound design for films. He is also known for his other music alias, Parnassvs.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I’m from California and grew up in Oakland near San Francisco. Music and art were something that was always present in my family since both my parents are artists. There was always music playing inside our house whether it was classical, jazz or soundtracks from composers like Jerry Goldsmith or Hans Zimmer.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
At first, DJing, music and everything associated with it were supposed to be secondary when I was pursuing a professional career in law. I never really gave it much thought because I always had Djing and music as a “side hustle” ever since I was in college. When I got deeper into law and actually getting myself more involved in the career, I found myself struggling to make music. It became this frustrating tug of war between the two. I eventually made the decision to stick with it. Here I am!
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
There was a point where I actually gave up music and DJing. I was a part of this competition hosted by Apple and other music brands with music legends like BT judging the performances. I was this cocky kid in my early 20’s trying to make a name for myself. At that time, I was more into performance DJing (scratching, etc) and as arrogant as I was, drank too much and didn’t put the effort into my performance. Fast forward to the performance itself, at least 5 cocktails in my system, I sloppily executed each move — — tracks was train wrecking, samples were out of key, levels were everywhere. Afterward, I took a mini-hiatus. I packed up my gear and stored it for about a year. Eventually, I got back on the horse and slowly but surely really ironed out my path by really listening to what my sound is.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Stemming from the previous question, this one sheepishly involves alcohol as well. I played for this festival in San Diego closing off for a lineup of major dance headliners. At the time I had planned out a set. I had friends in my artist tent, busted out my laptop and decided to play tracks from my set. By this time, we were blitzed out of our minds with tequila. 10 minutes before I was about to get on stage, I looked at my laptop and realized all my tracks were gone — — I had stupidly erased them while pre-partying inside the artist tent. The performance went alright though, I forced myself to try out combinations and forcibly sober myself up.
That moment really made me realize that alcohol was something I had to curb before playing and to really think about the choices I was making. People paid to see performances on stage and I was, in a way, not respecting that through my sloppy choices. To this day I always try to stay sober before any performance.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now, I’m finishing a few more techno EP’s before this year ends. Hopefully, I can share it with you guys very soon!
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
A very important question. Diversity I think is very misunderstood generally because people think it’s a preference over a minority or a group when actually it just makes any industry more robust, lively and full of variation. I’m Filipino American… there’s not a lot of Filipinos rocking dance music at the moment especially techno (or trance as my other alias, Parnassvs). Through music, I have my own story to tell, as well as other minorities have a story to tell and the industry needs to recognize this.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Know your sound, I mean really know your sound.
I wasted a lot of time trying to play EVERYTHING when all I needed was to focus on a particular sound. And when I mean sound, that doesn’t necessarily mean a certain genre — it can be a group of genres that compliment each other.
2. Get help from people who actually know.
One of the things that I didn’t do was really get music or industry advice from someone who is regularly producing and playing out. I spent my time in the dark getting half-baked advice from people that also didn’t know what they were doing. In addition, I mostly spent the beginning of my music career trying to teach myself through YouTube videos on random music production tips when I could have sought professional production coaching. I would have saved years of frustration.
3. Be ready to WISELY invest in your career.
Like everything, a craft needs proper investment. I spent a lot of money on gear and fancy equipment only to realize it was proper education and skills that should’ve been invested in. I knew how to DJ already but properly learning the standards, core industry standards of music production and business was something I skipped out on later to haunt me in my late 20’s. Sure, the new gear looks instagrammable and you can flex to your friends but it’s worth absolutely nothing compared to knowledge.
4. Be ready to make sacrifices.
A career in music is a full-time job. When I was in law school, one of the things they told me was that a legal career is a jealous one. They were right too, hence why I chose music. Although, like anything, you can start it up again, but a dual career in both was something I had tremendous difficulty doing.
5. Keep your day job.
Now when I said I left my career in law, that didn’t mean I quit my job. The ideal situation for any music producer is to earn through your music royalties and tour shows. However, starting out you must keep a continuous stream of income to supplement your music. Whether it’s paying for professionals to help you with music courses or your own productions and publicity, all that requires money. Quit your job when your music income is stable enough and equal or surpasses your financial needs.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Take breaks. Like weeks at a time. Listen to other music if you have to. Don’t be a high-brow loser cringing at every dance track that gets released and learns from new styles.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Today everyone has an opinion about something, which has both good and bad outcomes. But the one thing we lack is the ability to be selfless, patient and understanding. These days I think everyone is so ready to say something regardless of what political or social leanings you have that they forget to listen to the backstory of each person. Everyone has a story and most of them are grounded in emotion. We forget to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and demand others to stand in ours first.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It comes in many forms this saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” and “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid”. Two of these quotes both require that the person seeking help must first be willing to undergo a transformation.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!