The 59th Grammy Awards are taking place this evening in Los Angeles, and we’re excited to see a number of artists who use SoundCloud on the list to take home awards tonight including Chance the Rapper and Desiigner, who both took home top spots on our 2016 throwback as well. Another nominee who is doing awesome stuff on SoundCloud who you might not have heard of is Japanese producer and multi-instrumentalist starRo. He’s up for his first Grammy for best remixed recording for his remix of The Silver Lake Chorus – Heavy Star Moving (starRo remix).
StarRo has been using SoundCloud for a few years now, and we caught up with him to talk about how he got started, collaborations, his views on being an independent artist and his reaction to receiving a Grammy nomination. Check it out below.
Best of luck to Chance, Desiigner and starRo tonight, we’ll be watching!
When and why did you first start using SoundCloud?
I think it was back in 2010, 2011. My friend told me about SoundCloud. Back in the day there was no social media platform that focused specifically on music (people used to use MySpace but it lacked key features and an audience.). Back then I was struggling to find a way to reach to more listeners outside of my small circle of friends so when I heard about SoundCloud and its community, I jumped on it immediately.
Did you have a breakthrough moment i.e. was there one particular track you put out that really blew up and got people to take notice?
It was my remix of Janet Jackson’s “Any Time Any Where” that blew up after Soulection reposted it. It was the first time I got more than ten thousand plays (before that even 1000 plays was really big deal for me). My listenership has grown exponentially since then.
How do you use SoundCloud? Is it simply a place for you to post your music or do you use it as a tool to find new music?
Both. I use SoundCloud to post my music but also especially since I started playing more DJ gigs, SoundCloud has been the best place to find tracks that I can also use for my DJ set.
Have you discovered or collaborated with new artists/producers/vocalists via SoundCloud?
Yes, I met so many artists/producers through SoundCloud and have ended up working with them. One perfect example is a, vocalist based in Indonesia named Jonah4lyfe that I met through SoundCloud. I was having a hard time finding the right vocalist for one song on my new album and one day Jonah messaged me and I found he had a perfect voice for the song. We immediately exchanged the idea through SoundCloud, included a few revisions of the demo, and we finished the song in a day and half.
Can you offer some thoughts on the benefits of working independently as an artist?
Unless you are the type of artists that sells millions of records, I don’t see any compelling reason to work with major labels. You have direct access to your fans through a platform like SoundCloud. And there are so many independent service providers that you can work with who offer the same thing as major labels such as record distribution, PR, publicity, placement etc. The difference is that you have to work with multiple specialists from each business fields when you are an independent artist. With a major label, you would be offered more of a one stop shop. Working as an independent artist requires you to have a clearer vision of what you want to achieve as an artist and requires some management skills. But in the era of internet you will need to be somewhat self-sufficient and independent to be a successful artist anyway.
How did the opportunity to remix the track come about?
The label of the original song of the remix (Six Degrees Records) was planning to put together a remix album. My manager Cameron had been talking with the label for a while and they gave us this opportunity.
What was your reaction to receiving the Grammy nomination?
It was a huge surprise and a really big honor. I didn’t even know my remix was submitted so I was not ready for the news. It was like winning the lottery if someone else secretly purchased a ticket for you.
What’s next for you?
I will keep doing the same thing; making music and playing shows. But thanks to the Grammy nomination l may get to work on some projects or work with some people that I have never thought I could so I am excited.
And lastly, in your opinion, what is it about SoundCloud that makes it a successful tool for getting your music out to an audience and interacting with them?
People are expecting unique music from SoundCloud that you can’t find on iTunes or Spotify. People are always looking for remixes or covers of some popular songs that are not always officially released. It’s crucial for SoundCloud to come up with a way to make those tracks available.