Ukrainian artist SHMN has a long history of delivering emotionally charged dance music which is as effective in headphones as it is on dance floors. Rich with cinematic soundscapes, swooning synths, and nifty drum programming – his work often holds an ethereal quality and has most recently seen the light of day through his very own label simply titled SHMN.
Following on from the inaugural LP on his label – SHMN presents his next single «Sweet Dreams» which features vocals from Monty Wells. Here, we see SHMN apply his signature flare to a more classical, mainstream song format. Adroit sound design and hefty, club-ready drums form the substance of a track that carries the distinctive SHMN sound. Thick, heady synths are set ducking under a sharp, staggered kick while racing snares stutter and push progress forwards.
Gradually, the track opens out, allowing vocals to spread through delays and reverb before a powerful piece of club music that expertly straddles the bridge between commercial and underground electronic music.
We caught up with SHMN to talk about inspiration, genre-bending, his studio setup, and more.
Hi SHMN! It’s a pleasure to have you here with us. How has your year been so far?
Hey Guys! Thanks for having me. This year has definitely been the most challenging year of my life, but also the most transformative I should say. Even more, it has been a truly devastating and tragic year for all the people of Ukraine, my condolences go out to all the families that lost their close ones in the midst of this war. Since the beginning of the warfare, I was forced to leave the country to start a new life. For over 6 months I have been living the life of a true nomad which taught me a lot about myself and has given me a new outlook on life.
Congrats on the release of your latest single «Sweet Dreams» featuring Monty Wells. What was your inspiration behind this track?
Thank You! I’m happy the song is finally out for everyone to hear. As far as inspiration goes there were a lot of points of reference for this record. Originally, the chord progression was inspired by The Weeknd and his latest project Dawn FM. The idea for the breakbeat rhythm section has come from listening to Bicep – a musical duo whose music I discovered around the same time. As far as vocals go – Monty Wells did an amazing job with his singing/songwriting, bringing the whole song together.
Sonically, this release stands out from the rest of your discography. Is genre important or is it more down to intuition for you?
Throughout the years, I have always delved into various sub-genres of electronic music, never conforming to one or another. This way I stay excited about music production and music in general. What definitely makes this one different I would say is my approach and intentions behind it, as well as its sonic qualities of course. As someone who worked more with longer track arrangements in the past, working on a more classical song arrangement was refreshing and exciting to me.
What were some of your early musical influences?
As far as electronic music goes, I have grown up listening to both underground and commercial music, and looking back now I understand how much it has informed my own sound. Some of these early influences include the likes of the Chemical Brothers, Eric Prydz, Swedish House Mafia, Carl Cox, Juan Atkins, Richie Hawtin, and so much more. To sum it up, my taste in music has been shaped by the best of both worlds – today like never before the line is blurred between the two and I believe that my latest single “Sweet Dreams” is a reflection of that.
What does your studio setup look like?
MacBook Pro and an Arturia Keystep 37 Midi Keyboard – Less is More 🙂
Can you name some of the instruments and/or plugins that you believe define your sound?
Considering my limited setup at the moment, I will go through a list of virtual instruments and FX plugins that I have used frequently in my recent productions. As far as virtual instruments go – Massive X by Native Instruments and Diva by U-he have been used extensively to generate all sorts of synth elements such as arpeggios, leads, plucks, pads – you name it. Ableton’s own Simpler is also used in almost every production for sampling and custom preset building – so never underestimate your DAW’s native plugins. Regarding FX plugins, I use them a lot for sound design – Reverbs are often used to create atmospheres and textures, while delays are mostly used for rhythm building. A couple of reverbs that have been at the forefront of my productions would be Eventide’s Blackhole Reverb and Valhalla’s Shimmer. The go-to delay FX plugin for me these days is the Echoboy from Soundtoys – used religiously in every production. It’s great for complex rhythm building, arpeggio generation, and experimentation overall.
Digital or Analog?
At this point, all of my writing is happening in the box, and I believe that I have now produced my best work with just a laptop which I would never think was possible before. I have worked in the studio environment for many years, incorporating all sorts of equipment into my productions so I must say that working in the box has been challenging at first but very rewarding once I got my way around it.
What are some of the artists and/or labels that you are paying attention to right now?
Artists and Music Producers I have been paying close attention to recently include the likes of The Weekend, Fred again, Godford, Anyma, Ivory (IT ), and Yubik – to name a few.
As far as labels go – Afterlife, Diynamic, Innervisions, and Watergate are some of the imprints that push the envelope as far as the musical and visual components go.
Now that “Sweet Dreams” is out, what’s next for SHMN?
At the moment I want to focus on music production really – finishing tracks that are in the pipeline as well as starting new projects for next year. I have a release scheduled for the beginning of 2023 on the Berlin-based label Poesie Musik which I’m excited about. I am also in conversation with Edu Imbernon’s imprint Fayer about a potential release which I’m also very excited about.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer our questions, is there anything else you would like to mention before we go?
Thank you for having me! If you haven’t heard “Sweet Dreams” yet, definitely give it a listen as I have put my heart and soul into this song. Also, follow me on all socials to stay updated on new music and everything that is going on in my life.
“SWEET DREAMS” IS OUT NOW EVERYWHERE