A couple of months ago, I had the honor of talking to and organizing an interview with one Lavender Harmony.
I then procrastinated for two months before finally getting myself together and nailing down a time to actually do it.
The resulting question and answer session was really insightful and gave me really good insight into the mind of arguably one of the most influential ‘old dogs’ of the fandom music scene
Get it below!
Horse Music Herald: What’s your normal process for starting a track?
Lavender Harmony: Well it usually starts with a few things already planned out in my head. I have a concept or feeling I want to convey, the genre I want to work in, a set of stylistic influences to draw from, and an idea of the energy the track will have. From there I’ll build the first few elements up, chords melodies and rhythm, then I will work as fast as I can to get a base arrangement. Having the whole song planned out, Intro Verse Chorus Breakdown etc, is a key part of my beginning workflow. If I leave a track arrangement unfinished, 9/10 times that track will never be completed, not having a finished intro or verse can kill the idea or the vibe of a track really early on. Outros are the exception to this usually, as you can put that together with a few quiet elements of the verse and/or chorus and stuff. It’s not cheating I promise!
Horse Music Herald: How did you get into music production?
Lavender Harmony: I’d already been playing keyboard since I was six, after my grandfather gave me a toy one I asked if I could learn to play a real one. When I was like, twelve I was bought an even better one which I could record on and I used to compose things on it all the time. I just sold that keyboard and it’s going to some school in Kenya…
Anyway when I was fourteen a friend of the family who knew I was into music gave me a (cracked) copy of Reason 2.0, this was just as VSTs were becoming a thing so it was pretty cutting edge, around that time most producers used either Reason or Cubase+Tons of hardware synths and samplers. When I went to college I got bought Reason 3.0, and I spent so much time with it I knew more about it than my tutors did, and my classmates would regularly ask me to explain stuff as I also did a better job than the tutors in our production class who were just following notes, and didn’t seem to really feel confident with Reason or Cubase. This is where my passion for teaching and helping people comes from.
HMH: So you still use Reason to this day?
LH: I haven’t used Reason in a very long time, but I have friends who do some ridiculous stuff with it. My friend sc.Dave! has shown me what he does to make his kick drums and its all layered synthesis, it’s mental! I used Logic Pro for a good few years but I switched to Ableton Live 9 and it’s worked out the best for me. I haven’t tried FL Studio yet but I plan to demo it when I get my PC rig set up this month.
HMH: What motivated you to make pony music?
LH: Back when I joined the fandom in 2011 I was starting to heavily get into orchestration, as I had graduated a year prior and was starting to work for myself. I found a lot of inspiration early on in the characters and their interactions. I had started to get into electronic music back in university during my degree, especially artists like Sub Focus, Camo & Krooked and of course Pendulum, but the whole EDM thing was a bit of an impenetrable enigma for a long time. When I brutally bluffed my way into the Skype group for the original Balloon Party I was suddenly surrounded by so many creative and driven people with a common goal to make rad tunes, I essentially exchanged my deep technical knowledge of audio engineering for their insight into electronic music. It was the people that kept me motivated, it was the first time I was contributing to a community of musicians that didn’t feel like a contest, and that kind of attitude is sorely lacking in other circles and artistic communities.
HMH: What single piece of advice would you give to aspiring producers in the fandom?
LH: That’s difficult. The fandom in it’s current state is a tangled mess of people trying to be noticed, make an impression, have an impact and feels, to me, having come from a background of “the golden years”, kinda toxic and suffocating. I think what a lot of people are missing is the reason why they’re making music in the first place. My advice is to make music for you and your friends to enjoy. The best music I’ve made has been music that I can listen to and enjoy, that I didn’t compose to impress a wide audience or make a lasting mark on a community I made it cause I thought my friends would think it sounds cool. That kind of realism and personal touch to your music shows in a huge way, you’re not a faceless entity, nor are you pandering to the largest possible demographic. You are making music to be enjoyed in it’s purest form and I think that’s gone amiss in this weird gold rush of trying to be the next Alex S or Wooden Toaster or whatever.
HMH: The music scene has been noticeably growing in producers, how do you think this effects the scene?
LH: I touched on this in my previous answer, I speak to quite a lot of current producers (Or argue with them on Twitter) about the state of things, and I feel like the community is yet to wake up to the fact that a repeat of the first three years of the fandom is impossible. There is a definite sense of serious oversaturation, and I get it. That must be so frustrating, but at the same time a lot of people know me and my music, but I only recently broke 5,000 subs! It’s not always about popularity and numbers, its also about having a presence and networking. I’m not here to tell anyone to move on, I mean I still watch smol hors, but it needs to be stated pretty clearly that the novelty is gone and there is very little opportunity for mass market success in a community that is rapidly being sustained by nostalgia.
HMH: So does that mean that you think that the fandom is dying?
LH: Not at all, but we have been on this train for over five years now. Look at any trend and you’ll find that it has an initial spike, and then over time it slowly declines to a base level. Look at Undertale, when that came out you couldn’t move for blue stop signs and nyeh heh heh’s, and now? It’s all Overwatch.
The fandom will never completely die out. Any new fan coming to the show has hours and hours of this show to go through, yet today a friend showed off a professionally published tabletop roleplaying book, for Firefly. Fandoms come and go, but they will always have a core following. I don’t know how much longer MLP:FiM can remain such a big part of the convention scene but we’ll see.
HMH: How did you get into ponies?
LH: I watched the earlier generations and had toys when I was little. Friend told me there was a new one, immediately hooked. Seeing the internet explode over it was… surreal, but also kinda great.
HMH: Favorite fandom song, and why?
LH: I’m gonna be awful and say Discord, any version from the original to all the remixes. The reason being is it became so anthemic, and while yes there are quite a lot of immediately distinct songs from over the years, none I feel reached that same “number one hit” recognisability that can keep a group of friends or an entire crowd of thousands chanting. Anybody who has played a version of this track live and filtered down to hear the crowd sing will understand how iconic this track is for the fandom. Travis, ya dun good.
HMH: What track of yours would you say is your best, and why?
LH: Hands down my remix of Come Alive. It truly represents the end result of a five year journey, from Arrivederci being my first ever attempt at DnB to this, it really shows how far I’ve come. It’s also an absolutely huge remix that I am immensely proud of, and I know Silva loves it too.
HMH: What was your most challenging song to make and why?
LH: Probably Desinenza. I think it gets glossed over exactly how much work and detail I put into it, its a huge collaboration between many artists just like its predecessor track, and it took 7 months solid work to finish, between the collaborators getting me takes and working them into the track. I do get why some people don’t dig it though, it’s not got a very typical structure, the intro is really long, and my mind was still in the mode of long evolving orchestration-like arrangements, which was a core part of my sound early on, but it’s a lot of work and I feel the end result isn’t as accessible to people as a result, even to myself sometimes.
HMH: If you ever got a chance, would you redo the song?
LH:There has been nothing stopping me, I still have all the original takes and recordings. I just don’t really feel there is anything I could do that would be better spent working on a new project. It would feel like I was correcting a mistake, which wouldn’t feel true. I’m evolving all the time and I want to keep going forward.
HMH: Any last words?
LH: Be yourself, inspire those around you and live the daydream. ☆
Lavender Harmony avatar drawn by MoonSugarPony.