Please tell our readers a little bit about your background.
Pleasure everyone, I am ZhangYe, a venture capitalist by day, focusing on early stage consumer investing in China. At the same time, or perhaps by night, I am also a DJ and a music producer.
Managing Cyanhill Capital, the investment firm that I founded, is my day time job and also the priority of my life. Despite actually spending most of my academic years in music, music is my second profession.
I spent 10 years in Moscow P. I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory, specializing in classical music composing. Entering the investment field was a personal life choice, but music always seemed to have a certain traction, which I couldn’t let go of. I perform as a DJ once in a while and this year, I started releasing singles, so that I get to share my work in music with a broader audience.
What is your favorite piece of hardware gear to work with and why?
I actually work completely digital and in-the-box – meaning I don’t use any hardware plugins/pieces when creating music. Reason for this is simply that I want to be able to work on my music whenever I’m traveling and on the road .
Is there a specific VST plugin that radically changed your workflow?
I work with a bunch of plugins but my go-to plugin would be Sylenth still, its relatively oldschool but it’s just so easy to work with and modification of sounds within the plugins is amazing.
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Do you have a specific process when it comes to creating tracks? For instance, do you start with a beat or with a melody?
As I am classically trained my background is within composing hence I always start with a melody, on the piano! I have a lot of melody drafts and compositions laying around, I love to sit behind the piano and just create something beautiful. I go back to the compositions later and discuss them with my team to see which one I would eventually turn into a full song by creating the beat additionally etc.
How do you approach space in production as it relates to delays and reverbs?
I always try to play around with delays and reverbs to give some sounds a more unique feel or make them cut through the mix a bit different. Eventually the way I try to look at the overall spectrum is like a pizza – everything needs to have its own spot on there haha! Eventually it also comes down to the song and which vibe I feel it needs – for example my song Float Along is more of a ballad and the airiness of the vocal is much more important there than compared to my song Wherever The Wind Blows which is more uptempo.
Which aspect of music production do you feel you excel at?
My heart is with composing – definitely something I love and the versatility I have with creating chords / melodies is something I am proud of!
Your best advice to get that kick drum pounding?
Lots of people would now say ‘compression’ or volumes in general but in my opinion it all absolutely comes down to using the right kick to begin with. I live by a ‘less is more’ rule and covering up a weak kickdrum by layering it or using countless plugins is wrong to begin with. Eventually a good mixdown is essential, yet that would never cover up a wrong choice of a kickdrum to begin with.
Out of all the productions you have made, what would be your personal favorite?
Definitely Wherever The Wind Blows – I love the song and composition but also the vibe that it keeps. The start is more eastern/ethnic influenced with the drop being more current, its an East meets West approach which I really love.
What is the best advice you have for other producers in the game?
Work hard, every day, and never give up. Eventually if you have a big output of records you will get to a point where your level of productions and demo’s are going to be increasing rapidly, and the more demo’s you have the more chance a hit will be between these as well. A good work ethic is something I keep close to my heart – it’s also what I cherish within my work as a venture capitalist.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
For anyone reading this far within the interview – stay tuned and keep an eye on my socials because there’s lots more stuff coming up I’m happy to share with you all!!
NetEase CloudMusic(Chinese DSP) https://music.163.com/#/artist?id=51066506
QQ Music(Chinese DSP) https://y.qq.com/n/ryqq/singer/002Xu0mL2mXepv
Weibo(Chinese social) https://weibo.com/vczhangye