Exclusive Interview with Josh & Aden ‘aka’ Feenixpawl about some of their biggest highlights, the meaning of the name Feenixpawl, their latest release ‘First Light’ and more!
See our exclusive interview with Feenixpawl ‘aka’ Aden Forté and Josh Soon. Two of Australia’s most prominent house DJs & Producers. With numerous world tours, multiple Vegas residencies, over 4 billion cumulative streams, multiple awards including an ARIA, and even a Grammy nomination, the duo has cemented themselves as respected tastemakers across the electronic music culture.
After a breakout year in 2012 with the release of “In My Mind”, a Pete Tong championed Essential New Tune, the duo stormed onto the dance music scene and established their presence as two of Australia’s most prominent exports.
Back in 2019 they collaborated with fellow Aussie MaRLo to bring the world “Lighter Than Air”. The track shot straight to number one on the Beatport Trance Charts and became the eventual ASOT Tune of the Year for 2019. It then went on to be included in the ASOT1000 best trance tracks of all time. With even more huge tracks and collaborations on the way, the future is only looking brighter for the Aussie duo.
Aden and Josh, thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. We have always been big fans and this opportunity has been sparking some excitement here in the office! How have you guys been and what would you say are some of your biggest highlights as of 2022 so far?
“Thanks so much for having us! We’ve been really great. We are currently living in two different parts of the world. I’m in Los Angeles and Aden is in Melbourne. I’ve recently gotten engaged, which is definitely my biggest highlight of 2022, and Aden’s just had a baby. We’re finally growing up!” – Josh
“Great to be on the network! For me, it’s been really exciting being able to release new music after such a hiatus and I think Josh will agree we’re releasing some of our best music ever in 2022. Having the break over Covid and reconnecting with the people that are most important to us has really put things into perspective, so we’re really grateful to be able to continue to make music.” – Aden
Super keen to know more about the name ‘Feenixpawl’ and how you guys came up with this?
“We always used to tell so many different stories just for fun, because the real story is really NOT interesting at all! Truth is, Aden’s middle name is Phoenix and my middle name is Paul. We put them together, changed the spelling, and the rest is history! We’d always discussed our name being something that has meaning to us, but also honestly we wanted a name that never existed before so we could get all the social media handles! @feenixpawl and Feenixpawl.com were all available, so we went with it.” – Josh
Tell us about your latest releases ‘Drowning’ and ‘First Light’ – They have such a great summer feel and we have it on repeat! Where did you guys draw inspiration from and tell us what the creative process was like.
“So over the pandemic we literally didn’t release any music. We just shut ourselves from the world and hit the studio. We had a couple of collabs come out mid 2021, but we’d been working so hard on these solo tunes that are part of our “re-emergence” so to speak. This began with ‘It’s You’ at the end of 2021, and now ‘Drowning’ and ‘First Light’. Each release we have coming out is so different from anything we’ve done before, but you’re right, we’re definitely going for that “summer” feel. During the down time over the pandemic, we both were living by beaches in LA and Melbourne, and spending a lot of time there, as it was really the only place we were allowed to go over the lockdowns, so that was definitely an inspiration to us. I think as we’ve gotten older we’ve found ourselves pulled back in terms of our production, less driving, but still focusing on evoking emotion. Experimenting a lot more, and making music that we love, that we would listen to.” – Josh
“These releases for me were about getting back to our roots and drawing upon all the things that inspired us in the past. We’ve always been summer people, there was a period of time of about 5 years where we never saw a day of winter because we just chased the sun, and I think our latest two releases ‘Drowning’ and ‘First Light’ embody that reality for us. Writing during the pandemic made me quite nostalgic, after being trapped inside for so long (my city had the longest lockdown of anywhere in the world) it really made me miss those summer days and pool parties we loved to play at. ‘Drowning’ and ‘First Light’ are the result of taking inspiration from those days we missed most.” – Aden
Feenixpawl’s latest release ‘First Light’ featuring Crooked Bangs is out now! Listen on Spotify
Tell us something we wouldn’t normally find out about you online? Got any odd hobbies or interests?
“I’m a pretty private person, so there’s probably a lot. But I’m pretty into boxing, I owned a gym for a time before Covid so you can usually find me hitting the bag when I’m not in the studio.” – Josh
“I’m a gaming nerd. I’ve buried way too many hours in my PlayStation. I play Fortnite with my nephews, I collect all the skins. I think I’m just a bit of a geek in general because I’m also a die hard Batman fan. There’s Batman figurines scattered through my office.” – Aden
There have been some amazing DJs or producers out of Australia in recent years. Who’s an exciting talent we are to keep an eye on for the future?
“Right?! I feel like for such a small country we’ve left a pretty big stamp on the electronic music scene! Obviously some of these guys aren’t “up-and-coming” by any means as they’re already huge, but I think they’re only going to get bigger. But there are so many. I would say our bud Dom Dolla is only scratching the surface of what he’s going to be. He’s just played Coachella, and then EDC Vegas main stage, absolutely blowing up.
Another one is one of our closest friends, MaRLo, who is just crushing it and is the absolute king of trance in my humble opinion. Then you have Marcus Santoro, who is one of the most talented producers out there, we love his stuff. Can’t forget our ex housemate Blanke, who is now crushing the bass scene and is definitely one to watch. And of course our mate Benson, who’s just released a tune with Tommy Trash which is an absolute banger. I mean, I could go on for hours about how much Aussie talent there is out there. These are just the first few that come to mind.” – Josh
“What Josh said! Hard to really add much to that, however there is this guy I came across recently named Darby. My money is on him to break out of Australia pretty soon. He and another act (from New Zealand but close enough) called FOVOS are making some great techno/tech-house and I think they’ll blow up soon.” – Aden
How do you get a project started? Tell us about your production process, inspirations etc
“Usually for us it starts with a great vocal and builds from there. Obviously as we’re living in different countries, we have a very different workflow to most duos. We send projects back and forth. Makes tweaks here and there. In terms of inspiration, we find it anywhere and everywhere. I personally listen to so much different music, and to be honest, at home, very rarely do I listen to much electronic music. A lot of Jazz, a lot of oldies. We don’t like being tied down to a genre, and I think you’ll see that in our next few releases. Every single one has a different vibe.” – Josh
“It changes from song to song usually. We’ve gone through stages where we would start making the song from 0:00 and build from there, and other stages where we would make the main drop and work back from there. At the moment we really just want to get the overall vibe of the track down in Ableton and fill it out after. It’s important to us that we capture what we’re feeling early on rather than trying to manufacture that feeling later.” – Aden
What is your spirit animal?
“I think it’s just a dog. I understand dogs and they seem to understand me so it makes sense, right?” – Josh
“A wolf! I can be tough, but I also like a cuddle haha.” – Aden
We have been keen listeners of ‘Feenixpawl Selects’ since the first episode dropped in March. Tell us your vision and expectations for the show.
“So we actually used to have a podcast we did for about 3 years called Eclypse Radio. We decided to end it back in 2018, but ever since then we’ve missed it. We always find ourselves discussing music and trends, and one day recently we thought, let’s do it again! It’s different to a lot of dance music shows in that we do actually talk a lot. It’s not just a mix show, we want to be open and honest and discuss how we feel about different aspects of dance music. The industry, the hustle, the genres, the trends. I guess our hope is that we want people to be able to connect with us, join the conversation on some level, not just tune in for the music.” – Josh
“On top of what Josh said, we’re at the stage in our life where we’ve started caring less about how we say things, we just want to be honest. For a while I think we may have been reluctant to rock the boat too much, but I don’t think that’s the case now. We aren’t controversial people, but we do like to speak our mind and I think you can hear that in the new podcast.” – Aden
Have you guys jumped on the NFT train as yet?
“Not yet… It’s way too volatile a space for me right now. However, I totally see the benefits of the technology and can see where it can and will play a part in the scene in the future.” – Josh
“I have an y.at NFT for my dog but that’s about it. It’s something we’re looking at though…” – Aden
The relationship between a DJ and the audience is crucial, and yet it seems to be a fragile one – how do you see the balance between giving the crowd what they want and treating them to something new?
“That’s a great question. And we’ve always tried to ride that fine line of playing and making music that we like and catering to the crowd. In terms of sets we’ve always lived in that space between playing “cheese” but also giving them something new. We are big fans of the ol’ mash-up. I think that’s the best way to ride that line, give them a club track they won’t know with a recognisable vocal on it. When it comes to production though, we’ve always been hindered I suppose by that notion that we’re “EDM” or “Progressive House” producers. Obviously we were lucky enough to have a hit in “In My Mind” but that certainly has had us pigeonholed. Fans will always say “just make more stuff like In My Mind”, but we’ve already done that! We want to explore and evolve as artists, and I think you’ll definitely see that in our upcoming releases.” – Josh
“This is the ultimate question for every DJ. For me often it will depend on the gig. There is a difference between some shows where people are just there to party and people that are purely there to see us and hear OUR music. Understanding the difference is the first challenge. Having said that, we like to see people having a good time so we rarely go down the obscurity rabbit hole too often. A nice mix of music we’re liking at the time as well as our own new/unreleased stuff is always a good mix. We try to judge to see how far we can push it but ultimately, people have paid to come to this show so we’re going to make sure they’re entertained.” – Aden
Where can your fans see your shows in the upcoming months? Gigs, festivals? Where’s the party at?
“To be honest, we’ve just been both so busy with “life”, we’ve taken a break from touring. Babies, partners, families, travel, businesses. Also the fact that we live halfway across the world from each other. We do have some solo gigs coming up. Aden will be playing in Sydney, I have a show in LA, but I think we will revisit the “tour” life once these next 5-6 tracks come out and hopefully we can build some vibe around them and plan a proper stint.” – Josh
Thanks for chatting with us gents. Much appreciated and we wish you all the best!
“Thank you so much! Really appreciate the love and support and hopefully can do this again soon!” – Josh
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Checkout Feenixpawl & UFO’s Exclusive 1 Hour Guest Mix on YouTube