Just over a year ago, Manovski decided to sell his studio in Sydney and move to London, where he joined the emerging tropical house scene that was started developing at the Tileyard Studios Complex, where songs like Kygo’s "Stole The Show" and Sigala’s "Easy Love" were conceived. Shortly he began collaborating with Sigala, co-writing and co-producing his UK top 10 single "Give Me Your Love" feat. John Newman & Nile Rodgers, and the latest single "Just Got Paid" feat. Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor & French Montana. Following on from this, Steven has further songs with Steve Aoki, Jason Derulo, Flo Rida as well as Hardwell & Austin Mahone (he co-wrote their collaborative single “Creatures Of The Night”).
1. First of all, I would like to know a bit of your background story. How did you get involved in the music industry? Please describe the moment in which you first knew that producing music was what you wanted to do as a career.
My love for music has always been with me for as long as I can remember. I started off playing drums mainly and a bit of keys and guitar, I think my first instrument may have been an accordion my dad purchased for me.. but I soon grew bored of that! Skip forward to my teens when I was in a band and found that I was always the one pressing the buttons and shaping the music in our home studio, I really think that’s where my love of the studio really became apparent.
2. Do you believe that success is down to hard work or innate talent?
It’s definitely a mix of both, I don’t think I’ve met anyone who’s had a long career that doesn’t have an amazing work ethic.
3. You co-wrote and co-produced with Sigala, John Newman & Nile Rodgers the summer smash single "Give Me Your Love". How did this partnership come about?
Sigala is a fellow producer at Tileyard Studios in London where we became friends before he had his break with the track ‘Easy Love’. One day I got a call via my manager asking if I’d be up for a session with him and John Newman and of course I was more than happy to spend a day making music with them!
4. You have had success writing for other artists, what drove your decision to embark on a solo career?
At first it was the fact that I’ve got some amazing songs sitting one my hard drive that no one was getting to hear, but now I think I like the fact that I have complete control over the track from conception all the way to release.. as a producer there’s something liberating about not having to change your vision for anyone.
A fun dance floor banger that makes you feel happy!
I’m influenced by a massive range of music and I feel that it comes through in my work. I spend a lot of time making individual parts sound perfect and that usually leads to a tight polished production.
7. What pre-production work would you normally do with an artist before entering the recording studio?
I don’t usually prepare too much for sessions, I prefer to get in a room and let the magic happen organically. Also I rarely make a track prior to a Topliner coming in. There’s something special about capturing a vibe in the moment, together with other people in a room.
It depends who I’m dealing with. If I’ve got an idea I’m always happy to voice my opinion. I can usually gauge who will fight me on things so sometimes I just make my idea sound really polished before I show them. I’m also happy to try everyones ideas out.
Most of the time I write a song together with the artist and hopefully capture a vibe. If needed I’ll spend a day working on it by myself before presenting the ‘first’ version. From there we will go back and fourth with ideas until it's perfect. Ultimately it’s the artist who is putting their name on it so they’ve got be happy with it.
10. What are a few key lessons you’ve learned about producing that other aspiring musicians and producers could take advice from?
When you are in a writing session, it's usually about creating a vibe super quick. My advice would be to get to know your plugins, samples and tools, so when there’s an idea from someone in the room, you will be able to execute the idea without loosing any momentum. Another good piece of advice would be to know how your room actually sounds compared to other set ups: it is vital that your mix can translate to all speakers.
11. What types of gear and software do you use to produce? Do you work solely as a producer or do you engineer as well?
I’ve spent lots of time being an engineer, although these days I’m usually the producer in the room. I use protools through an RME sound card and usually my ns10s or APS Klasiks. On the front end I use my Manley gold. Plugin-wise I’m a big fan of Serum and VPS Avenger. I also can’t live without Fab filter, Izotope and Slate digital.
12. What’s your most treasured tool in the studio and what’s so good about it?
When I’m playing guitar I’ve got this small piece of material that I use to damper the strings at the bottom end of my fretboard… without this there would be all types of bum notes in every take.
13. Mastering is often described as a "black art", what exactly would you say the job of the mastering engineer is? What do you think makes a really good mastering engineer?
I’ve been through a number of mastering engineers over the years and have realised that a good mastering engineer doesn’t change your mix… they just enhance it and make sure it translates over different speakers. Also sometimes they don’t change much at all but knowing its been looked over by them allows me to have peace of mind and to be confident that it sounds great.
14. What has been your hardest decision as a producer?
Knowing when to stop and go home for the day!!
The landscape is forever changing and I think as technology progresses even further. So I guess that we will see even crazier concepts from creatives in a more multimedia way.
16. Studio or stage?
Studio for sure.
17. Is there an artist you want to work with that you have not yet had the opportunity to work with?
I'd like to work with Zara Larsson: she has got a great energy and I feel she fits the 'Manovski' sound perfectly.
18. How many times have you fallen down, and had to get back up and get yourself motivated again to continue?
I’ve not so much fallen down but sometimes found myself stagnant in my career. I’m constantly trying to push things further. I can’t remember a day where I wasn’t thinking about music and how to move forward with things.
KANYE! Just so I can work out wether he’s bonkers or a genius.
20. What do you like to do for fun outside of working on music? How do you recharge your creative batteries?
I almost never switch off, when I do it usually involves sitting on the couch with my wife binge watching a Netflix show.
I miss my family, I only get to see them once a year if I’m lucky! London is amazing though: there’s an endless supply of amazing creative people to collaborate with, each with their own unique story.
22. Thank you for your time! What can we expect from you over the course of the next year and beyond?
My pleasure, I’ve been working on some really awesome tracks with 2 top American artists and have some great collaborations due for release in 2019… stay tuned.
Interview made by Adriana-Laura L, DJs Arena 2018