Q&A with emerging producer and DJ Exstra

We sat down with New York producer Exstra, who unveiled a scintillating single ‘Frozen’ on May 31st, 2024 via the Enormous Chills imprint. Nora En Pure played the song on Purified Radio 404 which aired on Sirius XM ahead of its release. The track was mastered by Grammy-nominated producer and engineer Christian Hirt, who has worked with Nora En Pure, EDX, and many more. Exstra boasts 1.4 million streams across platforms, making waves with releases on renowned record labels like Colorize, Enormous Tunes, and Zerothree. He has received radio support from KISS FM and SiriusXM, and publication support from EDM Identity and collaborated with vocalist Britt Lari (Tep No, Big Gigantic and CloZee) on the track ‘Let Go’, with more vocal collaborations slated for the coming months. He performed for the We Belong Here music festival in Miami in February 2023 (alongside headliners Kaskade and Lane 8) and as DJ support for Martin Roth the following month. He graced the stage at We Belong Here music festival in NYC on May 24th, 2024.


Stream ‘Frozen’ while you read our interview with him below.


Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

Music has always been a special form of expression to me. It’s a language that transcends boundaries and allows people of all backgrounds, cultures, and dialects to communicate emotions and ideas in a way that words often can’t. Electronic music is unique in that no sound is off limits. It’s a world that invites experimentation without constraint. I love the opportunity to take a listener (including myself) on an immersive journey. Connecting with our feelings and each other is what it’s all about!


Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Usually a melodic idea and then a sound, but it really can happen either way. I like to pick a key and write against an atmospheric pedal note that helps set the tone for the record. In some cases, I’ll create or stumble across a sound that defines the melodic idea.


Does your material feature any collaborations? 

Yes! I worked with Dezza on a record that was released on Colorize in 2021 (‘Bloom’). In 2022, I released a record called Let Go’ featuring the vocalist Britt Lari on Zerothree. Britt just performed our song live at her gig in LA on May 25th, 2024! Two upcoming releases this year will include vocalists MØØNE and Frýnn. MØØNE has worked with Yotto and Le Youth, and Frýnn has worked with Camelphat and Mathame.


What’s on your current playlist?

Marsh – ‘Warrior’, Enamour – ‘Hyperdrive’, Camelphat – ‘Turning Stones (Mind Against Remix)’, Romain Garcia – ‘Digital Diva’, Nu Aspect, Jem Cooke – ‘Distraction’, to name a few.


Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

I was a DJ before I was a producer, so performing will always hold a special place in my heart. Sharing the energy and excitement with the crowd in a room is such a unique form of connection. It’s a mutual exchange of energy that makes each performance special and memorable in its own way. More intimate shows are such a blast because you can really make eye contact and share in a moment of musical magic. I’m always trying to engage with the crowd throughout a set to get a sense of where the next stop of their journey should be.


What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

I love experimenting with a mix of techniques to craft a sound that is truly original. I often include field recordings or found sounds in breakdowns and intros, layering them with synthesized elements to create unique textures. Using resampling and automation allows for a hands-on approach to sound design, where happy accidents can lead to really interesting ear candy or grooves. I also love to play with various distortions, delays, and reverbs to get unique sounds that have a ton of depth and character.


Take us through a day in the recording studio.

I usually start a track by laying down an atmospheric pedal note. I like to then write a bass line progression. From this, I’ll build out the chords and harmonic structure. Then I’ll write a melody. Then come drums, starting with an offbeat high hat (multiple layers) and a clap / snare (sometimes multiple layers). Then additional percussion, drum loops, etc. Then arrange, add FX, automate, add ear candy, and mix to perfection!


Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

Seeing Avicii perform in Washington, DC in 2011!


What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

My iPhone 🙂


Any emerging artists on your radar?

I’ve been really enjoying what the artist 19:26 has been putting out. Emotional club-forward music that works so well on the dance floor.


What gets your creative juices flowing?

Spending time in nature! Hikes and walks in forests are always super inspiring for me.


Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

I love all of the UAD plugins – incredible recreations of the most famous compressors including personal go-tos like the 1176 and LA-2A. U-he Diva is my go-to for synth leads and I love all of its subtle randomness and variance. Xfer Serum is great for wider sounds since you can use unison. I love that Serum gives you a ton of control over individual harmonics, allowing you to do things like make a really wide bass sound that doesn’t clash with the fundamental of the sub.


Any side projects you’re working on?



How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I’ve continuously refined my craft through a combination of practice, collaboration, and learning. I’ve spent countless hours in the studio experimenting with new plugins and techniques, always seeking to improve my sound design and production skills. Working with mentors has been instrumental in my development, providing guidance and insights that have shaped my approach to production and mixing. Watching tutorials and videos to learn about new techniques have helped me evolve my style while maintaining my unique sound. Collaborating with other producers and vocalists has exposed me to different perspectives and ideas, which has been invaluable for my growth as well!


Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

A bunch more new music, including two new songs with vocals. One with MØØNE and one with Frýnn!


Famous last words?

“I’ll be back by midnight”.


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