An Interview With Axel Thesleff

We recently caught up with Axel Thesleff who is an electronic producer based in Helsinki, Finland. His style is very diverse, ranging from bass-heavy bangers to more relaxed, deep tracks, but always with a strong focus on the emotion and story behind each piece of music.

How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard of you before?

My style is not a fixed thing and I treat every song differently but I think what’s common to most of my productions is the focus on harmony and melody, organic feel and deep bass. My music is also often multi-layered and has a progressive feel to it.

What do you have upcoming for the next few months?

I’m traveling to the US for some shows and collaborations in March, I’m going to spend the whole month there. During the rest of the spring I’m spending time in the studio finishing up projects and also starting new ones.

What does your music production setup consist of?

My setup is quite simple, I’ve got a Universal Audio sound card and dsp box that gives me access to classic hardware sound. A laptop, speakers, a mic, a keyboard for MIDI mostly. I also have a keytar, a MIDI mallet instrument (like a xylophpne) and a drumpad but I use those mainly when I’m practicing the live performance. Most of the stuff happens inside Ableton.

Where do you call your home town?

I’ve had many hometowns but Helsinki, Finland is where I’ve lived most of my life so I’ll go with that.

What is your favourite thing to do away from music in your hometown?

I like to cruise around with my longboard and watch the scenes go by. I’ve probably have some music on my ears though… music plays a role in almost every part of my life which I’m very happy with.

Away from underground music, who is your favourite artist and why?

Probably The Beatles. They were highly innovative and their music has endured time very well. I also love the way they were influenced by Indian music and how they blended it with their style.

Do you prefer working with software VST plugins or hardware when working in the studio?

I don’t use any hardware processors and my keyboards are mainly for midi, I much rather use emulations (like UAD) and analog synth emulations if that’s the sound I’m looking for. Most of the time I do my sound design with the tools in Ableton, that’s where I can be the most creative.

Hardware also is very expensive, takes a lot of space, requires maintenance, you can only have one instance at a time, the environmental aspects of it, transportation if I relocate, the list goes on… it all seems very cumbersome to me.

When working on your own music, what point of the track do you normally start?

It depends much on the idea I get, but a good place to start for me is some drums and a plain rhodes sound that I can start thinking about some chords with. I later delete the rhodes if I want something different, but it’s a good sound to come up with the harmony for the song. I like to be completely on the map what the chord is in every part of the song, even if there is no sound playing an actual chord.

Where is your dream relaxing holiday location?

Somewhere in nature where it’s green, my mind relaxes in the forest!

March 12, 2020