Artist Interview: Varien

Nick Pittsinger, aka Varien, has shown time and time again that not only can he make any genre, but he can set the bar while doing it. His music has collected over 10 million streams on YouTube and 2 million plays on Soundcloud, which has lead to several Beatport chart toppers. Pittsinger has also worked on films like Furious 7, and his music has been featured in The Walking Dead, 300: Rise of an Empire, The Purge: Anarchy, The Loft, Bones, Face Off & many more. Varien has also collaborated with legendary musicians such as Skrillex, Two Steps from Hell, & Celldweller; and spent much of 2014 showcasing his productions while on a sold out tour with the Pegboard Nerds.

Despite all this success Pittsinger has had with the Varien moniker, the legacy of the project has only begun to be chiselled; as a debut album on Monstercat is upon the horizon along with a new live setup. With so much excitement surrounding Varien’s future, we can only assume he will continue to dream big, and deliver even bigger.

Not only do you have thousands of fans on social media but you’ve impressively reached over 10 million combined Youtube views and over 1 million Soundcloud plays, and these increase on a daily basis. Were you ever expecting this sort of reaction to your music?

Honestly, not at all. I'm very grateful for all of the love and listens! I'm just a young dude living in Tampa who loves to make music and tell stories, and it's super cool that people want to join me on this journey.

Congratulations you were named in Alternative Press Magazine’s ‘Top 100 artists you need to know’. How did it feel to be named alongside some of the other artists which featured in there?

It was validating, considering I've been a fan of Alt Press since I was in high school.

You define your genre as magick, what makes it so unusual from other music out there at the moment?

I think ALL music, ALL art is magick. Art engages our senses and makes us feel and experience things that may not even be in front of us. It connects us with others, changes our emotions, moves our bodies, and drives us into the present moment. No ritual needed.

As far as my own music, I just combine my many influences into one idea, and out comes something that may sound unique! I don't know what to call it, it's just... my music.

You’ve said that 2015 is the year for stepping out of boundaries with your music and that you’ve started working on some tracks that are not your ‘normal’ sound. Do you like to experiment a lot with your music rather than sticking to the tried and tested route? Do you feel electronic music is an easy genre to be able to do that?

Electronic music is a great medium to explore new sounds – a guitar is a guitar, and a piano is a piano, but a synth can be blended and reworked into infinite new sounds. I love to experiment – I find that when I'm feeling without boundaries or pressure, that's when my best music comes out. When I'm “trying” - it usually comes out bland and uninspired. My motto in the studio is “why not?”

It’s been said that your music blends dark electronic, cinematic orchestral music, heavy metal and has conquered many other genres. Are these all types of influences and music you enjoy or is it just the type of music which comes naturally when your inspired?

I enjoy all types of music, and I feel that especially this year, my music reaches far beyond those influences you listed. Lately, I've been playing with minimal house, trap, and really glitchy tech-y stuff, all mixed with world music elements. If I just tried to be a “dark electronic orchestral metal guy” all the time, not only would my fans get bored, but I would too! And I have.

How long would it usually take you to complete a track from beginning inception to completion?

Depends, but on a good day, 6-8 hours!

When you create music do you have a particular set up which you learned to favor over time or does your equipment tend to change depending on what you’re working on?

My setup is simple. FL Studio for electronic music and rock, Cubase for film scores. In all honesty though, DAWs, hardware, etc. do not even begin to stack up to knowledge of music theory, which you can carry across all genres in all eras of any trends!

Whats your favorite piece of gear of all time then?

I don't do gear, but I've been loving Zynaptiq Morph 2 for blending organic and synthetic instruments into one hybrid sound. I like that word a lot, hybrid, I feel it described my music a lot. And myself, a lot too.

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You’ve recently wrapped up production of your debut album. How did the process go? Are you more excited or nervous to unleash it on the world?

Writing “The Ancient & The Arcane” was a very spiritual experience. It came after a long period of writer's block. Finally I said “fuck it”, and just made whatever came out. What came out, was something that I'm extremely proud of. I can't wait for the world to hear it.

You’ve managed to work with some other super talented artists such as Skrillex, Two Steps from Hell and Celldweller. How was it working with those acts? Are there any other particular people out there that you’d love to work with?

It's always a learning experience working with people, no matter how famous or successful they are. All those collaborations have a special place in my heart, as they forced me to up my game. Working on Furious 7 was the same too. It's always a good thing to be challenged, even if in the moment you feel scared, unsure, ill-equipped, etc!

I don't really have any desires to collab with anyone specific, but I do want to write more songs for other people! At this moment I'd love to work on pop, rap, and even some Japanese music (specifically this guy named Aoi Shouta, who I think is really awesome). Also, scoring – definitely always keeping that kind of thing on my plate!

You’ve landed features in trailers for films such as 300: Rise of an Empire, The Tomorrow People and The Purge. Was writing music for movies something you made a conscious effort to do? Or was it more something you fell into? How did you get these placements?

Of course. It's been my intention since day 1 – I've been wanting to score games and movies since I was a little kid. I still geek out about game soundtracks even today! When I set out to make music my career, I started developing two sides to my path. On the frontend, kickass music for the masses. On the backend, writing private production music for TV, film, games, etc. Over the years, both paths have merged into one entity known as Varien.

To answer your question though on my methodology, a big component is that I never took business personally. I just kept making connections, and if things didn't work out, I'd move on to the next thing. If you take these things too seriously, your ego gets wrapped up in it, and then you start thinking silly things like, “I should quit.”

When you’re creating music for movies do you tend to find the process alters? Or is it a similar process to when you create your own music?

It's a matching game, which is always fun. Match the instruments and the overall feel and timbre of the cue to the timing and mood of the picture. The process isn't changed too much, because when writing original stuff, I still play the matching game, but the picture is in my head!

You recently collaborated with Two Steps from Hell on music used in the promo clips for The Walking Dead. How does it feel knowing that potentially thousands of fans have heard the music played alongside the show clips? (Scary?!) You said you haven’t watched it before, are you not even tempted now you’ve been involved in the musical production?

I'm much more of a Game of Thrones fan, to be honest! Zombies are my cup of tea. I feel very grateful to be a part of something that big, though!

Finally if you could give one top tip to budding musicians what would you tell them?

People say to “think outside the box”. There's no box to begin with. Anything is possible. Also, show gratitude for something every single day!

Varien's Sample Pack is out now! Click here

varien-PRIME LOOPS-Varien

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