Considering the new year is just around the corner, a lot of us will be making new year’s resolutions, setting goals, and deciding what dreams we should finally pursue that we’ve been putting off. These are 5 of the most inspirational videos, some of which I refer back to here and there, that help give me that extra boost when I’m feeling unsure of myself. I hope they can inspire something in you as well.

“The gap” is the idea that in order to make great art, you have to work through a period where what you are creating just isn’t very good. Every creative goes through this and it’s just something we all should acknowledge.
Short, but an extremely heavy-hitting realization.
Gary Vaynerchuk tells it like it is and I love him for it.
Whether you are a proponent of Apple or not, this is a powerful speech worth listening to, especially Steve’s story about death.
Not only is Neil Gaiman great at narrating audiobooks, he gave a great (and at times, quite funny) speech at the University of the Arts around the core idea to “make good art”.

Have a favorite inspirational video of your own? Message me on one of the socials and let me know what it is.

In celebration of my first solo EP release on a label, I have created a preset pack for you guys, which you can get at the bottom of this post, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the project files for both of the tracks.

Topics covered include: elements of the electro bass drops, breakdowns/builds, and melodic drops, drum fills, creating atmosphere with synths and samples, panning tricks, my session freezing (hah!), bass and synth/lead processing, and more. Enjoy!

If you have ever tried to send your Instagram followers to a link outside of the platform, you have most likely realized that there is only one location where you can place an actual clickable link: in the bio. I recently came across Linktree, which allows you to put multiple clickable links in a minimal, clean-looking format. You can then just use your custom link (here’s mine: in your Instagram profile and anytime someone comes across one of your pictures that refers them to click the link in your bio, they are sent to this page. Here, they can not only click on what they originally intended to, but can see some of the other cool things you have going on that they may not be aware of.

Here is a picture of what my Linktree currently looks like to give you an idea: offers a similar service called, however the cheapest option is $19/month. I don’t feel like it’s currently worth it for me to invest in this at this time, but I can see how it could be beneficial to a company with several products for sale, for instance. The cool thing about though, is the presentation is more like an Instagram feed, unlike Linktree’s approach.

The last suggestion I will make, is to use custom short URL’s when configuring your Linktree links. Websites like Bitly and smartURL offer these for free. Not only can you make custom URL’s, but you can see how many clicks each of them are getting.

I hope this helps you in some way. Are you using Linktree or a similar service already? Let me know your thoughts on how you approach your bio link in Instagram, either via the Contact page or DM me on one of my socials.

During a typical work day, I spend at least an hour and a half in a car thanks to my commute. In order to make the best of it, I’ve been loading up on podcasts, so that I’m always learning and being inspired while in the car. I would like to share some of my favorites with you. The first 4 are for anyone really, whereas the last 2 are geared a little more towards fellow producers, musicians, etc. I apologize in advance for the lack of uniformity between the different podcast links and embeds, as they all present them in different ways. For mobile users, I would suggest using either iTunes, or something like Pocket Casts from the Google Play store if you are an Android user.

1) Chase Jarvis Live – Chase, an award-winning photographer, director, artist, and entrepreneur, interviews creative professionals to dig into their insights, habits, stories, and more. He co-founded Creative Live, one of the largest online educational platforms out there, which has free classes every day.

Favorite Episodes:
Writer/entrepreneur Steven Kotler – The Formula For Peak Performance
AirBnb co-founder/entrepreneur/designer Joe Gebbia – The Intersection of Art & Business
Amanda Crew of Silicon Valley (the HBO show) fame – Conquer Fear & Self Doubt
Actor/musician/director Jared Leto – Jared Leto On Creative Live
YouTube sensation, actress, model iJustine – How iJustine Built Her Digital Empire

Chase Jarvis Live Website
Chase Jarvis Live on iTunes

2) The Tim Ferriss Show – Similar to Chase’s, and coming in currently at over 200 episodes, Tim Ferriss interviews top performers in their respective fields to figure out their secret sauce. You may have heard of Tim through his “Four Hour” book series, or his most recent (one of my personal favorites), “Tools of Titans”.

Favorite Guests (some of which have multiple episodes):
Filmmaker/screenwriter/musician Robert Rodriguez – The “Wizard” of Hollywood
Biochemist/fitness enthusiast Dr. Rhonda Patrick – Life extension, performance, and more & Smart drugs, fasting, and fat loss
Co-founder of Wired magazine Kevin Kelley – Most interesting man in the world?, Artificial intelligence and designer babies, & A.I., virtual reality, and the inevitable
Chess prodigy/author/martial arts competitor Josh Waitzkin – The prodigy returns & Tools of Titans: Josh Waitzkin distilled
Comedian/actress Whitney Cummings – Turning pain into creativity & The return of the money shot

The Tim Ferriss Show Website
The Tim Ferriss Show on iTunes

3) Song Exploder – Hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway, musicians from every genre go deep on the story, their creative process, and the inner workings of what went into making one of their songs. Little snippets of the various instruments are introduced throughout, with the full song being played at the end of each episode.

Favorite Episodes:

Song Exploder Website
Song Exploder on iTunes

4) Don’t Keep Your Day Job – Inspiring stories of people who have chased after their creative passion and are making a living doing what they love most. Cathy Heller has interviewed photographers, actors, designers, writers, directors, and much more.

Favorite Episodes:

Don’t Keep Your Day Job Website
Don’t Keep Your Day Job on iTunes

5) CDBaby Podcast – Aimed toward the DIY musician, Kevin Breuner and Chris Robley interview industry professionals in order to give up-to-date information and strategies on how to grow a fan base and make money as a musician.

It’s tough for me to narrow down my favorites on this one, but I would just say to look for what sparks your interest. There are gems in every episode.

CDBaby Podcast Website
CDBaby Podcast on iTunes

6) EDM Prodcast – Sam Matla interviews producers in order to gain insight into their creative processes, as well as industry professionals to dig into things like marketing, branding, approaching labels, and a ton more.

Here is a playlist with the most popular episodes:

EDM Prodcast Website
EDM Prodcast on iTunes

Honorable mentions
Radiolab: Hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, the show focuses on topics of a scientific and philosophical nature. The show attempts to approach broad, difficult topics such as “time” and “morality” in an accessible and light-hearted manner and with a distinctive audio production style.

S-Town: An investigative journalism podcast hosted by Brian Reed and created by the producers of Serial and This American Life. All seven chapters were released on March 28, 2017. The podcast was downloaded a record-breaking 10 million times in four days

Tap Tempo: Hosted by artist, music producer and composer, Matt Lange, Tap Tempo is your invitation to go behind the curtain when musicians grab beers, talk music, life, the endless search into the depths of the abyss and the sweet hereafter.

What are some of your favorite podcasts? Feel free to reach out to me on any of the socials (links in the top right) or email me at I would love to hear from you.

– begin (a course of action, especially one that is important or demanding).

The idea of doing an EP is definitely not a new one, but one I decided to take for a specific reason. While I love writing huge tracks appropriate for festivals or clubs, I also like to experiment with more unconventional ideas that may be better suited to just casual listening environments.

The EP starts off with an intro track. I was on the fence on whether or not to include one, but it gave me a chance to experiment a little, and I feel like it has context. Using various Kontakt libraries thanks to the folks at Native Instruments, I was able to create what I believe sounds like a space ship slowly starting up, with gadget-like noises bouncing between your ears and a low rumble that gradually accelerates to take-off. The listener is about to “embark” on a journey.

The second track, Resolve, is more on the deep progressive side. Once given the opportunity to open some shows, I quickly realized how important it is to slowly build up the energy earlier in the night. This sent me off to scour for some deeper, more chill tracks. I wanted to have some of my own material in this same vein, so I created Resolve. The intro and outro sections have more of a future house vibe, whereas the meat of the song is more on the deep side. There are some female vocal ad libs to humanize the track a bit and it builds into an energetic climax featuring a lead synth solo.

You can read the entire story behind Beacon in my first blog post.

Drifting Through Dreams was heavily inspired by Mitis. A couple of the synth patches are tweaked from a sample pack he released not long ago. It runs at 115bpm, with a bit more of a break beat groove to it. It features some plucky arps, pianos, and mellow lead lines. A friend of mine told me it made him feel “like I’m daydreaming, sitting on a bench, watching the sun set” which inspired the title.

The funny thing with Brought Back to Life, is that the pluck line you hear throughout the track was one of the very first melodies I ever wrote when I first started producing electronic music. I just held onto it in an old project file. One day, while going through old projects to see if there was anything salvagable, I thought “I could put this arp to use in something”, and BBTL was born. The intro features ominous pads backing the arp, which carries over into a verse-like breakbeat section, with DnB style basses and some more synth lead goodness. The second drop brings up the energy in a chord heavy 4-to-the-floor section and introduces a new arp which was put in just two nights before the release. Close call, I know, but I’m so glad I put in it in there because it is one of my favorite sections of the entire EP.

Lastly, we finish up with a more chilled out, cinematic version of Beacon. I really loved this vocal and wanted to do something completely different with it. I brought in some new pads made with Serum and Absynth, incorporated a variation of the plucks from the original, and created slowed down, breakbeat drums to fill out the arrangement.

This has been a huge undertaking for me, and I am proud to share it with you all. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed creating it.

– JS

Beacon is special to me. I have put more hours into this track than any other by a longshot, and for multiple reasons.

To start at the beginning, it was originally set to be an instrumental. The intro features these pluck-like blips and I thought, “this sounds like a pinging beacon, I’ll just name it that for the time being”. It was only going to be a working title. The original drop was eventually completely scratched to make way for what is there now, and many other sections have been tweaked to no end.

I cannot fully recall where the idea to bring in vocals came from but I am really stoked that Ellie and I worked them in. Without going into too much detail, some recent personal life events involving one of my closest friends sort of ignited the idea of feeling lost and looking for this beacon of hope.

Here are the lyrics:

Ellie and I worked together over two writing sessions and knocked out the entirety of the lyrics fairly quickly. This was my first time processing raw vocals and while there’s always room for improvement, I feel like I did alright after getting some feedback, and definitely learned a lot along the way.

Seven Lions is a huge inspiration for me, and I think it is probably most evident in this track out of any. There are break beats, growling basses, massive drops that include a half-time section for those who enjoy their headbanging, and of course, Ellie’s solemn female vocals. I had an absolute blast writing this one and I hope to create something in a similar vein in the near future.