Creating space music from a mind developed from working in the deep technology industry, at one of the world’s most defined scientific hubs, Las Alamos National Laboratory, is the new New Mexican Producer, VARIANT with his debut release ‘GENESIS’.
With influences echoing the likes of Skrillex, Zedd, Krewella, Hanz Zimmer, and Thomas Newman, VARIANT crafts music that invites listeners to witness the birth of a sonic universe. Fueled by a motivation to inspire greatness, VARIANT sees his beats as more than notes; they’re a powerhouse that propels individuals to conquer life’s peaks. In his sonic alchemy, music becomes the catalyst, a force capable of toppling relationship dragons and life’s toughest challenges, laying the groundwork for a future where limitless possibilities and wild imaginations reign supreme.
The VARIANT saga has just begun, and the future of sound is about to explode.
VARIANT shares on his debut release, “”GENESIS” is the beginning of my musical journey to showcase the cornerstone of my true musical vision going forward. From the visuals to the sounds, I am so happy to be able to showcase this track to you. I hope it takes you on a journey as it has for me time and time again.”
In ‘GENESIS’ you will get flavors of future bass that resemble tracks by DROELOE or Marshmello. The atmosphere VARIANT cranks for this high energy dance music release is beautifully illustrated in the futuristic and cinematic cover art. Except to be lifted to rave mode during his initial sonic experience.
Alongside VARIANT’s debut release we discovered where the Cybersecurity Technician and music producer is coming from, insight into recent scientific developments from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, his top 5 dance music tracks, the technical inner-workings of the sound design for ‘GENESIS’ and more during our fruitful interview.
By definition, VARIANT is a form or version of something that differs in some respect from other forms of the same thing or from a standard. What is an interesting variant to you?
Artificial Intelligence has grown to be much more prominent in everyday life. I think an “interesting variant” would be the branch of education and occupation surrounding Prompt Engineering or “the process where you guide generative artificial intelligence (generative AI) solutions to generate desired outputs.” This is something that I feel will be a basic work requirement/skill like knowing how to use Microsoft Office products in the future. I can also see this being a part of the workflow in music making software as well.
Agreed, there are a ton of music production tools that will free up a lot of time for producers. What we do with that extra time may lead to more evolution. How has your family influenced your love for music?
My love for music stemmed from my Dad not learning how to fully play “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. My mom was tired of hearing my dad loop halfway through the song over and over again, so she signed him up to take guitar classes at my local college so he could finish playing it from start to finish. To this day “Stairway to Heaven” is taboo in our household and it was never quiet in the house ever again.
This was pivotal for my sister and I to start singing and playing live together with my Dad. My Dad also had top-notch custom sound systems in his vehicles. While I was growing up, he would blast iconic songs from the 50’s to the early 2000’s with my sister and I in the backseat. It was here where my palette for music started and continued to grow. As time went on my Dad formed his own band and my sister grew to become a solo artist in the Country and Spanish music scene.
Even though their music has taken them down different paths, I accompanied and helped them in live venues and recording sessions. When we were recording, I asked and received a lot of advice from producers we worked with about their gear, techniques, and workflows which sparked something in me and made me love music even more.
What are some details about the sound design of your debut single, ‘GENESIS’?
One interesting sound design detail is the creation of the main melody in the buildups and the drops. I started by using a female vocal sample, dropping it an octave and chopping the sample up into a unique vocal chop melody. From there I sent this new vocal chop melody through several electric guitar amplifier emulators using Native Instruments “Guitar Rig” until I found one I liked. I then stacked the amplified version of the vocal chop melody with itself in a higher octave to fill in more space sonically in the song.
Another detail is the strings I used in “Genesis”. They are from some amazing Native Instrument String Libraries which I used to manipulate and build to my liking from Cellos to Violas to Violins. The main purpose was to build drama into the track which I feel complimented and brought contrast into “Genesis”. Lastly, is the dragging pluck that is heard in the beginning of the song and after the first break of the track. I used Sonic Academy’s “A.N.A” not only to build the dragging airy synth, but also the pluck that introduces each long note to glue the arp that carries the intro into the trance arp lead section.
What is one of the first things you learned about electronic music production and what is the last thing you discovered?
The first thing I learned about electronic music production is how difficult it was to start. Back in 2011 there were not very many videos on YouTube explaining every facet of every Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) so learning how to navigate a DAW (in my case Ableton Live) is a feat in itself. From there learning about Production Gear, Sound Design, Song Structure, Production Techniques, and Third Party Plugins; it all becomes vital points in the outcome of your music.
The last thing I have discovered about electronic music production is to make music that you love and don’t be afraid to be unique while doing it. It gives you your own trail to blaze.
What are 5 tracks you find at the forefront of electronic music?
Everyone’s tastes are different but these are my choices of tracks. I think these artists were/are instrumental in making what EDM is today.
What is one of the most interesting things that you can share about working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory?
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is a very dynamic facility to work at due to all the facets of work and research that occur there. It’s a place where individuals from all walks of life and academic backgrounds can collaborate, innovate, and develop solutions for a better future.
By now most of have seen the new movie Oppenheimer, the true story about the man who founded the LANL camp and worked alongside Albert Einstein, so that sparks the question, what are some recent advancements or new theories that scientists have developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory?
There is research being done on Bio-Plastics using bi-products from microorganisms to create bio-polymers that soak up Carbon Dioxide. This will help break the dependency on fossil fuels and lower the carbon footprint for the creation of plastics for the masses.
Another topic of research is the advancement of battery technology. LANL is helping in designing new hydrogen fuel cell technology which has up to a 50% higher performance than current, state-of-the-art technology, with improved durability. This new electrode design advance may help optimize next-generation fuel cell technology to power emission-free medium-and heavy-duty transportation.
Lastly, LANL continues to push the limits for computing power, with their newest supercomputer that they constructed called “Crossroads”. According to LANL, Crossroads should deliver roughly 4x-8x the processing performance of their last supercomputer named Trinity. That system, introduced in 2015, was capable of 41.46 petaFLOPS of peak processing performance.
What is one of your favorite lessons from your studies?
One of my favorite lessons while pursuing my Masters was learning about Computer Vision. With computer vision, developers can enable computers to identify and understand objects and people in images and videos using Artificial Intelligence. Since working in Camera Surveillance, being able to make a program that can identify people, pets, and vehicles was really eye-opening for me.
What is the next step for Variant? Is there any long or short term direction?
The next step for me is releasing a lot more music. I have been experimenting with other genres, but still keeping the orchestral/cinematic aspect for each track. After having enough of my music released, I do want to perform live in local venues and hopefully branch out from there. Meanwhile I will see if I can get my music on labels like Monstercat. Long term, I would love to get my music into and or make music for games or movies. It would be a dream come true to see that happen.