We had fun chatting with Los Angeles based DJ & Producer Shay De Castro about her latest EP ‘The Hills Devise’ and much more! See what Shay had to say below!
Embarking on her musical career at the age of fifteen, Shay De Castro was raised in a place with no electronic music clubs to speak of. Through experimenting with different genres and adopting techno as her true passion, she rapidly rose to become one of the most thrilling talents to emerge from the US in recent times. Her releases have repeatedly entered Beatport’s Top 20 Techno Charts, including singles and EPs like Dichotomy with Nihil Young, remixed by Gary Beck in 2019, Assembly in 2020 and Let Us Free in 2022, to name a few.
Having solidified her place at the forefront of techno’s new generation, Shay is an unstoppable force that continues to flourish with every move. We at UFO Network have no doubt that her name will be a Household name in the very near future. We had an awesome time talking to Shay De Castro and you can see how that went down below!
Hi Shay! Welcome to UFO Network! Where are we speaking to you from today?
“Hi there! Thank you so much for having me! I’m at my home in sunny Los Angeles, California.”
How did you get into making electronic music?
“It wasn’t a very linear process. I had friends who were producing hip-hop and I started getting into learning production a bit that way. I was always in love with trance and house, and it was a combination of learning on my own and from friends over years to get to where I am today.”
You have just released your epic new single ‘Mapping The Heavens’ on Pleasurekraft’s Kraftek! Can you tell us about how this release came about and what the recording process was like?
“Yes, that’s right! I had already started on ‘Mapping the Heavens’ with the intention of sending over a few tracks to Kraftek. I’d released another track called ‘Altered State of Mind’ the month before on Techno Blazer’s label. Pleasurekraft had messaged me about liking it, and asked if I had anything for Kraftek. It was funny to me, because I’d already been working on something for him and I sent the track over.
I usually start with basic percussive elements (the kick, some hats, etc.), and build around that. In this case, I knew I wanted a really strong lead synth to take the spotlight for a very “epic-sounding” track. However, the original version I’d sent to Pleasurekraft was a bit different than the version that was released. It took some work getting that rich, robust quality of the synth and we removed extra elements that were perhaps detracting attention from that.”
We saw it was supported by Amelie Lens in her radio show, how does it feel to hear your tracks being supported by some of the biggest names in the game?
“Yes, I’m still a bit flustered over it! Amelie has fortunately supported a few of my tracks over the years, but I’ll admit it did feel really special to hear her introduce my track like that. It’s a great feeling, and is one of those things that you wake up the next day thinking, “did that really happen?!”
You have another release coming out this Friday on Respekt Recordings, ‘The Hills Devise’ EP. Can you tell us about this release?
“Indeed, I’m so happy to be back on Respekt with my first EP with them. This is a 2-tracker that I wanted to be equally as appropriate for the dance floor as in a movie soundtrack. ‘Don’t Stop Now’ is probably the more cinematic, dramatic of the two. I recorded the vocal with a more encouraging aspect – whatever that situation may be to the listener. ‘The Hills Devise’ is purposely meant to have a more ominous, creepy feel to it with powerful bass stabs and a danceable, transforming lead throughout.”
How do you find motivation for making new music?
“Sometimes you can’t wait for motivation. Sometimes it’s just about taking the initiative and being like, “this is what I want and this is what I have to do to get me there”. When there is motivation, it often comes from reading books and traveling – mostly spending time in nature.”
What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment in your career so far?
“Oh man, there have been so many! The biggest one was probably when Adam Beyer played my track ‘Assembly’ released on Codex during Tomorrowland a couple years back. One of my friends had messaged me saying he was playing it and I didn’t believe him. I was eating tacos at home and nearly choked when he sent me the video, haha!”
Who would you love to collaborate with and why?
“This is a never ending list, but probably Spektre to be honest! I’ve always been blown away by their productions and how they always manage to be so unique in such an oversaturated industry.”
Are there any changes you wish to see in the dance music world?
“Oh yeah, but there’s no perfect world. I’d like to see more space for LGBT artists. I’d like us to not take ourselves so seriously and remember that music is supposed to bring us together. I’d like DJs to take more risks and play tracks that no one on the dance floor has heard before.”
What is your go-to opening track, peak time track and closing track?
“I have quite a few of each, but here are my current selections:
– Opening: My own ‘Flexion’ released on Codex
– Peak Time: Brennen Grey – Full Frontal
– Closing: Robert Miles – Children”
What do you love most about being a DJ/producer?
“Just sharing music with others. Really, nothing in my experience can connect 2 people – much less an entire room of them – than good music. I also love being able to travel and learn about people and places I may not have visited on my own accord. It’s surprising how much you can learn about a culture from their musical tastes and how they season their food!”
What are your biggest passions outside of music and production?
“Traveling, just being in nature (deserts, mountains, beach, etc. doesn’t matter), spending time with my pets/loved ones, and of course – eating!”
Thank you for chatting to us today! Anything else you would like to add?
“I really appreciate you taking the time to interview me, and for the support I’ve received over the years. It’s just as heart-warming to receive support from a world-class artist as it is the DJ who’s just starting out and telling me they dropped my track at their first gig. That kind of positive energy is unbreakable, and is part of what makes music so beautiful!”
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Listen to ‘The Hills Devise‘ EP on Spotify