Interview with bitbird’s Discovery Talent from Berlin, Dust of Apollon

Young producer, singer and songwriter from Berlin, Dust of Apollon, has been experiencing a fortunate and well-deserved upswing following his releases on San Holo‘s bitbird, ‘I Wonder’ and ‘Lie to Me’, and most recently, ‘Around Me’ on Lowly.  Beyond landing records of top-tier labels, at the age of 19, Dust of Apollon has already made his on-stage debut with a hybrid set at Amsterdam Dance Event for ‘A Night with bitbird’ and has remixed Said The Sky with a signature sound full of grace and swift drops.

Heading into 2023 with big announcements on the horizons, we reached out to Dust of Apollon for an exclusive interview to discover more about the origins and intentions of the burgeoning talent before he blows up.  Sample Apollon’s set with Absent Chronicles for bitbird, his best releases, music that inspires him and delve into his creative process.

Dust of Apollon

Dust of Apollon ‘Around Me’ [Lowly]:

Can you share the anecdote around your recently released EP ‘The Aftermath of Ignorance’? 

“The Aftermath of Ignorance” is an EP that I’ve worked on for the last 1 ½ years, mostly during  lockdown, and is talking about some of the experiences I’ve made in the last years. At the time, I didn’t have much self-esteem and justified lots of toxic behavior towards me, with having to “be grateful, for someone at least being interested in the person I am.”

I wanted to take the listener on a journey through my thoughts in different stages of my grief about a past relationship and about the twisted feelings I had. One day being completely over it and wanting to leave the person behind, but the next day not being able to stop thinking about them. Sort of bittersweet, if the sweet part was dark chocolate so like a 50/50 chance it tastes nice or you feel horrible.  

The songs themselves have very contradictory messages, which is meant to portray how confused and overwhelmed I was at the time. The only thing that was an outlet for my feelings, was music, which is why most of these songs were written while I was experiencing those emotions and seem rather honest and unfiltered. 

Can you share about the sound design on the new EP?  

The sound design on “The Aftermath of Ignorance” is driven by granular synthesis and lots of heavy processing. I am a huge fan of taking samples and messing them up to a point where the original is basically unrecognizable. 

I’ve been working a lot with analogue sounds like flute or guitar samples and playing with them to create some electronic sounding stuff that is either super distorted and a bit crushed or very eerie.

Creating sounds from scratch is honestly not my biggest strength, but I’m working to get better at it and try to even that out with my knowledge in post-processing, which has helped cover up my tracks hahaha.  

Can you tell us a little about working with bitbird for Create Together Vol. 2 and Vol. 3? 

I’ve had the pleasure of being able to release two songs (“I Wonder” with Sam Day & Hendrik Joerges  and “Lie To Me” with Absent Chronicles) on bitbird as part of their Create Together project. Every  year, bitbird hosts a competition within their discord community for visual artists and musicians to come up with an artwork/a song within a month.

The process is accompanied by workshops and  community events and leads up to an Album consisting of 20-30 tracks, featuring all sorts of genres  and artists from the bitbird community. This has given me the chance to work with friends of mine to create a tune in a very limited time for one of our favorite labels and is also one of the reasons I got to play at ADE this year. In addition to that, I’ve met many amazing people through these  competitions, which I am extremely grateful for.  

Can you tell us about your ADE performance?  

When I got hit up by the bitbird team on August 2 about a chance to play “a night with bitbird” at ADE, I could not believe my luck. Performing has always been a huge part of music for me, as I’ve  played in multiple bands and am part of a choir, so having the opportunity to play the music I write in  my little bedroom studio live in front of an audience was absolutely mind blowing. What was even  more insane, is that it would be in one of the coolest venues ever, Melkweg, as part of the  Amsterdam Dance Event. Even now, three months later, I still cannot believe my luck and feel so  honored to have been able to perform my debut show like this.  

It was quite funny because this was my biggest show to date and for some weird reason, I wasn’t nervous.

Dust of Apollon

Earlier that year, I played a little show at my former high school’s talent show and had a  literal panic attack before going onstage, but in Amsterdam it was just pure joy and excitement. Well maybe mixed with a little bit of stress because the soundcheck didn’t go as we hoped, due to some technical complications in our setup, which led to us literally finishing up the soundcheck when the doors opened hahaha. But still it was an absolutely phenomenal experience, also because my parents  came along and watched me perform my own music for the first time, which made me so incredibly  happy.  

For 2023, I’m currently working on getting more shows like this on the road because that feeling I got while being on stage, seeing my friends, my family, and my fans, was just absolutely unforgettable. 

Do you have any live sets people can listen to? 

As part of bitbird’s Create Together Vol. 3 online festival, I visited my friend Danny (Absent Chronicles) in  the Netherlands, and we recorded a little live set with guitar, drums, vocals, piano, and trumpet. I  personally really love the set and the songs we performed there, so if you wanna check it out, you  can watch it here:  

What are 5 tracks you find at the forefront of electronic music? 

If you could break one world record, what would it be? 

To have the most ducks per person. I feel like that’s a cool thing to have to your name. 

What is the origin of Dust of Apollon? 

Growing up, I was (and still am to be honest) a massive Percy Jackson fan. What Harry Potter was to  most people, Percy Jackson was to me. It got me into Greek Mythology and History, to the point where I became this huge nerd, who could name way too many gods and their involvement in  ancient myths and legends. That book series significantly influenced me in my early days and also led  to me naming my first ever artist project “Icarus”.

After a few months it dawned on me that this  name was too commonly used and there was also a different artist going by it, who had lots of  success already. I decided I needed to rebrand, and put up a poll on my Instagram, to which a  childhood friend of mine responded with “Apollon”, the German and also Greek version of “Apollo”.  The reason why I went with “Dust of Apollon” is, because in Greek mythology, the musicians were  children of Apollo most of the time, and I felt like “Dust of” sort of implied a very old ancestry, which I think is kind of cool..

Can you give us some insight into your creative process? 

I usually start a song with either a sample from splice/my library or on an instrument. If I want to  focus on production first, I’ll lay down a basic arrangement around the sample and will then do  vocals sort of midway through, but if I start on my guitar, or the piano, I’ll try to sketch up some  vocals around basic chords and take care of proper production later on. 

What I love to do is play around with the arrangement in ways that are very untypical in EDM.

I like to take some inspiration from rock and jazz records to see how they break up the usual verse-bridge chorus order and how I could use these techniques in my songs. In addition to that, I’ve been teaching myself to play the drums, which gives me the ability to lay down basic drum grooves that feel natural and then just replace the samples with the ones I feel like sound the best. I then usually just play around with lots of atmospheric sounds and weird percussion samples to achieve a strong background in the mix without that many elements, as I think less is more a lot of times. Mixing sessions aren’t really a thing I do because I mix as I go, but when I feel like the arrangement and  recording process is done, I’ll sit down and go over every single element and see what more I can do  to help the bigger picture.  

Every song I make has a different process behind it and most things just happen because of random ideas or influences, but I think I use all of these steps I’ve just described frequently and hopefully managed to give you a bit of an insight.  

Dust of Apollon

Who have been some of your inspirations lately and over the last 10 years? 

Back in 2013, Launchpad covers were a huge thing. Seeing live drumming being combined with a live  show was absolutely captivating and also the reason I bought a launchpad myself. I wasn’t sure what  to play though, as I didn’t really listen to much electronic music, so naturally I downloaded the most  

popular projects, which at the time were mostly Skrillex songs. I was fascinated, to say the least, by  how avant-garde these tunes sounded, as I had never heard anything like this before, which led to  me going down the rabbit hole that is commonly known as EDM. After some time, I started to get  into more melodic stuff, like Porter Robinson, Illenium, and San Holo. The way these artists  incorporated organic elements, and mixed it with electronic elements was extremely inspiring and  made me pick up music production. My parents used to listen to a lot of indie rock and pop, so  naturally I developed an affection for that, which I now wanted to use and mix with my newly  discovered likes for electronic music. 

Over the last two years, I have found myself growing fond of the most opposite-feeling genres, in and  outside the electronic music scene. I get a lot of inspiration still from rock- and recently also metal  bands like The Arctic Monkeys, Bring Me The Horizon, Kasabian and so on, but then I’ve also been  loving the sound of Sam Fender, Jacob Collier, Django Reinhardt and EDEN, which tends to be more  soft-spoken and warm, rather than aggressive and harsh. Electronic music wise, drum and bass really  had me hooked last year. It started with me listening to Fox Stevenson and then my Dad showing me  his playlist of the most insane roller and jump up tracks I had ever heard. I’ve just been grabbing lots  of inspiration from all of these different influences and trying to incorporate a little bit of both worlds,  electronic and organic, into my sound.  

What are some of your favorite venues, festivals or events? 

Lollapalooza Berlin is actually the only festival I’ve ever been to, so I have lots to catch up on regarding that, but venue wise I really loved Gretchen and Heimathafen in Berlin, Ministry of Sound  in London, and Melkweg in Amsterdam. Every single show I’ve been to in these places was amazing,  and I hope I can cross a few of these off my „I wanna perform there“-list soon (luckily, already 1  checkmark there).

Venues and events that I haven’t been to, but feel like would be amazing to see in  person, are definitely Red Rocks, Madison Square Garden, literally any Brownies and Lemonade event, and Royal Albert Hall. I’ve seen so many cool pics and vids from these places and hope I get to  visit them sometime soon.

What is next for you? 

I have lots of things planned this year, which I’m super excited about, for example I want to design  some merchandise, as I’m really into fashion and think this could be a cool experience, I’ll be  releasing lots of new music, hopefully I’ll be playing some shows, and I’ve got a very big secret, which I sadly cannot tell you much about just yet.

I am extremely excited about the coming months and all the projects and opportunities that are just waiting around the corner, and cannot believe all that  has already happened. If I told my 15-year-old League of Legends playing self where I’d be in four  years, I don’t think I would believe any of it. I’m genuinely so grateful for all the support I’ve received  and can’t wait to see what this new year brings. 


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