We caught up with both Universe & The Citizen and vocalist Angie this week to talk over their collaboration "Blame It On My Body." Read on to find out how the pair went about creating the single.
Good to have you both! Please tell us a little about yourselves… who are you and where are you currently based?
Universe and The Citizen: I am an overly ambitious person constantly caught up between exploring life and consciousness versus practicality. I am 25 years old and currently based in Bucharest, formerly a resident of South East London.
Angie: I’m Angie, a singer/songwriter. I grew up in Berlin but am now based in London.
Universe & The Citizen, how long have you been making music? What made you first want to write it?
Universe and The Citizen: I have been making music since I was 14. It all started with rock music and that was my whole universe for years to come, and a very opinionated one as a matter a fact, haha. I never touched a DAW until I was 21 years old, I don’t think Hip Hop E-jay counts, if anyone still remembers that. I remember listening to Linkin Park when I was 12 or 13 and being madly in love with how their music felt. Then I saw the Rolling Stones live in 2007 and I was mind blown beyond belief. The fact that I still pursue music is probably an energy residue of that night. While in London I met Richie Stevens one of the early Gorillaz collaborators and member of the SpaceMonkeyz and he mentored me in music production, which was an unbelievable experience for me. So I was in a position of knowing music theory, several instruments and now I had Richie’s philosophy and the whole universe of a DAW before me. I had multiple ghostwriting gigs and credits but ultimately Universe and The Citizen has been on the back of my head for a lot of time. All I needed was a bit more skill and understanding to be able to comfortably own what I do, good or bad.
What do you enjoy most about producing? What difficulties does it sometimes bring?
Universe and The Citizen: I think what I enjoy most is the difficulty itself. I still believe to this day that making music and succeeding at it is one of the most difficult things you can hope to achieve. It takes a special kind of crazy to pursue morale breaking odds and being aware of it. But the true artists do it out of pure love, 100% unconditionally. You can’t help yourself, and in time you learn to appreciate that about yourself. An artist is someone who understands at a deep level the context of what he is doing and owns it humbly. What I enjoy the most about producing is the level of knowledge you gain about yourself as a person and that satisfying, unbelievable short moment, when you listen back to your record and enjoy it as a listener not as the creator.
Both, do your surroundings inspire your music? How would you sum up your own signature sounds?
Universe and The Citizen: I don’t think my surroundings inspired me that much. My surrounding is the music that finds a way to amaze me from different points of view and the emotion behind it. That is the space that I live in as an artist. I have this energy and vibe when something inspires me and I just want to deliver it with as much elegance as possible. I always look for elegant and intelligent ways of communicating something simple and powerful. I think life works that way as well. The more music you make the more you learn to touch on the
authenticity of the moment and the feeling rather than the technical delivery, even though that it is immensely important as well and probably most of the job. That is where elegance comes in, from how you balance the two.
I guess my style comes from the quest of creating interesting
textures/arrangements, having 0 boundaries for genres and aiming to achieve top lines that could change someone’s life. Or maybe just change mine, haha. Other than that punchy drums, high energy, special arrangements and aiming for unique sounds as far as production style goes.
Angie: I wouldn’t say my surroundings inspire my sound that much but for my upcoming material my signature sound is definitely going to be fun, poppy and funky!
Angie, how did you meet Universe & The Citizen?
Angie: I met UTC in Cannes at the Midem Music Conference last year. We bumped into each other on the terrace during a jam session!
Can you describe the creative process behind the vocals?
Universe and The Citizen: Every song is a unique story. In this case it started with the title and hook from Angie. I flew in one of my good friends from Malta who is an unbelievable songwriter (I always tell him to release an EP) and then we built on the vision and searched for that feeling and texture that Angie would be in a comfortable and authentic position to perform. With vocals you need to understand that even though there are no rules ever in music, my personal rule would be that vocals are the center point of a great song. First of all the room for subtlety is huge and it adds that layer of complexity without having to overload sonics into your production purely out of concept. So by focusing on the Vocals, going into deep places emotionally and coming out of that with a simple delivery you create a lot of room for the music to support it effortlessly. And that’s where big producer choices really come from. When people say less is more there is so much to understand about that phrase, that really, less is actually more.
Angie: The process was very educational. I learned a lot during that time and had to constantly go back and forth switching and changing the delivery of the vocals.
If you could both work with any artist (alive or dead) on a track, who would you choose and why?
Universe and The Citizen: Alive or dead? Oh god, okay. Producers I would love to work with: Max Martin, Zedd, Soundz, Jack U, Don Diablo and Axident. As far as artists go, Justin Bieber would be my first choice since "Journals" really threw me into modern production and then "Purpose" really changed trends. Michael Jackson would be my top choice and then Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes right now and perhaps Dua Lipa as well. The quality of performance that you would get from any from above would be the standard to which music is measured. So it would be more than a blessing. That’s why I am still doing this. Not for money, not for acknowledgement, just to be able to get into a session with amazing musicians and learn from that. But honestly know, if I would write this list again in one week it would probably be slightly different. The amount of great musicians I look up to is huge.
Angie: I would definitely want to work with Prince because he is such an inspiration and a creative genius in my opinion!
UTC/Angie: what can we expect from you next? What are your plans and hopes for the rest of this year?
Universe and The Citizen: This year I’ll be launching “Closer To The Moon.” It might turn out to be a fully fledged album, but more likely just a slightly bigger EP. It’s been a long time coming and I’ve finally found out who I am and what I want to do so this would be my first cohesive musical project that is not ghost producing and I can own it 100%, good or bad. It is mostly a combination of what I consider to be pop music, in which “Blame It On My Body” comes under and straight up EDM tunes. I am so looking forward to see what you guys are going to think about it!
Angie: I will release some more songs and really just get my name out there a bit.