You see names like Skrillex, Zedd, Calvin Harris, Diplo, and extra on a regular basis. They’re on the tops of competition lineups, on the covers of magazines, the entrance web page of Spotify… they’re the faces you pay to see. But they’re not the entire equation. Lots of people work behind the scenes to assist these artists do the multitude of issues they got down to do. Among these folks is Tom Norris, engineer for Skrillex and Zedd, amongst others.
Born in Massachusetts, he moved to San Diego at a younger age the place he later began a band with a pair mates. Hollywood Records supplied the band a deal, which they signed, however Tom left shortly after to attend UC Berkeley. It was there that he began instructing himself music past the band, delving into manufacturing and sound design. He began a preferred account on SoundCloud referred to as “getyoursnackon” the place he’d remake and submit standard songs. During this time, he additionally turned shut with Kyle Trewartha of Grey. Together, they moved to Los Angeles and began engaged on tasks, ultimately resulting in him working with greater and larger names.
In the world of digital music, Tom is probably going one of many greatest names you’ve by no means heard of. In uncommon style, he’s answered some need-to-know questions solely for Your EDM. Read on to seek out out the secrets and techniques of his success, what’s subsequent for Skrillex, and extra.
Where did your need to create music come from?
Both of my mother and father are musical, and there’s quite a lot of music and creativity flowing all through my prolonged household. I feel I used to be hopelessly sure to do one thing related in music in consequence. I do keep in mind seeing my cousin making music with a extremely early model of FL Studio, and being utterly blown away. I believed solely producers (who had been basically wizards in my thoughts) in big recording studios might create music, and so I instantly downloaded the demo once I acquired residence and began messing round. That was in 2001, so it’s been a minute!
Tell me a bit about your expertise along with your first band Outerspace Politicians, later Allstar Weekend. What had been a few of the challenges you confronted as a newcomer to that world?
I messed round with beats and instrumental manufacturing earlier than the band, however I didn’t know something about what it meant to write down a track with vocals, or easy methods to report issues with a microphone and have them sound like actual music. I used to be sort of just like the Ryan Lewis of the band, recording and producing all of our tracks, doing our pictures/movies/web site/and so forth. It was an enormous studying expertise.
What ultimately led to you leaving the group?
There had been a bunch of things—hating touring, stress, and unhealthy managers. I additionally had a ton of FOMO from mates who had been having a good time in school, whereas I used to be depressing in my band. The silver lining was positively studying that I beloved being in a studio way over performing, and fostering quite a lot of nice friendships that I nonetheless have right now.
You selected to check linguistics at UC Berkeley, which arguably has no relevance to music. I might know, I additionally majored in it at UCSB. What about linguistics did you discover attention-grabbing sufficient to pursue that over music?
Lots of my household works in academia, so I feel I felt pressured to check one thing extra ‘serious’. At the time, Siri for iOS had simply come out, which to me appeared novel and thrilling that I might management my telephone with my voice. I used to be additionally actually into pop linguistics books by authors like Steven Pinker (particularly The Language Instinct), so linguistics felt like a pure alternative. I feel solely as soon as I used to be finding out it, did I notice that I simply basically didn’t have the identical ardour for it like different children in my class, and wasn’t wanting ahead to the day-to-day existence of being a computational linguist.
Of course, you probably did return to music ultimately, as “getyoursnackon” on SoundCloud. How did you start that venture?
I knew quite a bit about engineering and producing ‘real’ devices from doing band demos, however I didn’t actually perceive easy methods to do the rest. EDM was at its peak once I was in school (round 2012), and I believed by remaking songs I might shortly discover ways to use synths and layer MIDI-based stuff. I began importing a few of them to SoundCloud to indicate mates, and I feel from that I began to achieve some notoriety on varied web manufacturing boards.
What was your first foray into the digital world?
I feel working with the Grey dudes was my first critical foray into the digital world. I really met Kyle on Reddit again in 2014, and we turned mates and began engaged on music collectively. He and Michael created Grey a 12 months later, they usually requested me to combine and grasp their stuff.
How shortly did you go from working with Grey on their music to immediately engaged on tracks for each Zedd and Skrillex?
Zedd turned concerned fairly early on with Grey, and mainly something they labored on collectively I had some half in. My outdated roommate Ty (producer Lophiile) used to work with Skrillex, and randomly invited him over one evening. We watched skate movies and performed with yo-yo’s, and the subsequent day he hit me as much as come by and take a look at stuff he was engaged on. That was virtually 2 years in the past, and I’ve been working with him since!
You had been nominated for a GRAMMY® Award, Record of the Year, on your work on “The Middle.” Did you ever suppose whenever you had been 15 beginning a band in highschool that will ever occur?
I don’t suppose I might have anticipated something I’m doing now again then… and even 2 or Three years in the past. But I feel that’s what’s nice about working in music—something can occur! The Grammy nomination is insane, and I really feel extremely grateful to be acknowledged with a few of my finest mates.
You’ve additionally been working with Skrillex since early 2017. Which of his tracks would you say was essentially the most creatively fulfilling to work on?
Every single factor I’ve labored on with Skrill has been creatively fulfilling, given how extremely inventive he’s as an individual and musician, and the way he imbues that in every thing he works on. That apart, I do suppose the Humble remix for Kendrick was actually attention-grabbing to have been part of, in seeing the way it was iterated on and developed over Four-5 months from an preliminary idea to the ultimate launch.
How was it particularly engaged on “Surrender” with From First To Last, given your rock background.
It was a pleasant change of tempo coming into that world once more! With Surrender, we had two concepts in thoughts: to make it sound like FFTL with a contemporary vibe—ie, tremendous loud drums and low finish, and to make it really feel virtually like a religious successor to “Make War”, their prior launch. It took some time to complete, I feel Matt Good from the band had recorded the entire instrumental components virtually a 12 months earlier than it really got here out. Kyle (from Grey) additionally recorded guitar layers to assist fill out the mid-range. Sonny and I then went forwards and backwards on drum sounds and blend variations for nearly a month.
You not solely labored with Skrillex immediately, but additionally his collaborators like Mariah Carey and The Weeknd. Do you’ve got any particular fond reminiscences of working with anybody particularly?
I keep in mind FaceTiming with Abel after Skrill and I completed the combination on “Wasted Times.” It was dope seeing how stoked he was on the way it turned out!
The one query on everybody’s thoughts: what’s subsequent for Skrillex?
Given the entire loopy stuff I’ve heard over the past couple of years, no matter type the subsequent venture or launch takes, it’ll be completely well worth the wait.
Outside of the Skrillex and Grey/Zedd universes, you and Ansel Elgort are mates and have collaborated on a variety of unique productions and tasks. How did you hyperlink with Ansel? Are you continue to working with him?
Our mutual buddy linked us Three-Four years in the past. I didn’t actually know something about him in addition to the EDM/DJ stuff that he was doing on the time, however I believed it was cool that he was beginning to sing on tracks he produced and wished to try this sort of factor. I’m presently working with him on a full size album that ought to be out someday this 12 months – undecided if I’m allowed to say the rest about it 🙂
What’s subsequent for you creatively?
Climbing Everest! Just kidding—I’m engaged on a bunch of tasks that I can’t actually speak about but, however I’m excited for folks to listen to them. Some are with artists you’d count on, some aren’t. I’m additionally engaged on some VST plugins/results for producers that could be launch prepared this 12 months, and extra pattern packs/sound libraries that I feel folks will discover helpful.
You can discover a listing of all of the tracks Tom has labored on at getyoursnackon.com. Keep up with Tom on Instagram, Twitter, and Soundcloud!