Yesterday marked the drop of tyDi's fifth studio album, Redefined, which he produced completely on his own and already has him soaring to the top of iTunes' Dance Album charts, now ranked at #5 in America. Currently on his Redefined Tour, tyDi (Tyson Illingworth) is spending his autumn months performing new tracks from his latest dropped album, alongside some fan favorites in clubs and venues around North America. We had the opportunity to catch up with tyDi to talk more about Redefined, upcoming plans, musical influences you wouldn't expect and more!
From Queensland, Australia, tyDi was first signed to Armin van Buuren's Armada record label at the young age of 17 and was Australia's #1 DJ in 2008-2009, making him the youngest winner of the award. From there, he went on to drop his first album, Look Closer, which reached #1 on the Australian Dance charts, winning him Best Breakthrough DJ at the International Dance Music Awards in 2010. His second studio album, Shooting Stars, dropped in 2011, and again, soared to the top of the charts in a number of different countries. Then came Global Soundsystem 2012: California and Hotel Rooms. Pulling from influences like BT and Armin van Buuren himself, tyDi made a name for himself early on in the game, with rankings on the annual DJ Mag Top 100 DJs list for five years in a row.
"BT is and always was a very detailed composer and writer, he really pays a lot of attention to detail," tyDi explained. "His work is always very well thought out, so I've always admired that you can always listen to his songs and find something new every time. You can tell his songs take a lot of time, too, so I kind of set the bar there for the quality of how I wanted to write my own music."
It wasn't always electronic music for the songwriter, music producer and DJ, though. tyDi started performing on drums in a band at the age of 15, which is where he got his musical start.
"I played drums for five years, I'm really into bands! I even have a Blink-182 tattoo on my wrist to prove it," he laughed. "I always had a passion for indie, alternative and rock bands. Dashboard Confessional has always been one of my favorite artists, and still is today."
Pause there: would you ever expect some of your favorite alternative rock and electronic music artists to collaborate and collide into one genre? That's where tyDi comes in with the switch, incorporating both genres of music he is so fond of into his new Redefined album.
"For this new album, I actually got to work with a lot of these guys in bands I look up to. I drew all my inspiration from artists completely out of the dance world, purely just because I wanted to approach the album from a songwriting perspective," he began to explain the thought process behind his new album. "I've always envied how bands can get together in a room and really sit down and write a song. In the DJ world, many people sit down, make a beat and send it off to a vocalist in a different city, they write the vocals and then there's your song. I wanted to write music that was true to my life, stories that are real. Redefined is written like that."
Dipping his feet into something completely new, tyDi worked with insanely talented bands and songwriters for the process of his fifth studio album, stating, "we all sat down and I spilled my heart out to them about stories across three years. We wrote about 300 songs before narrowing it down to the 20 that made it to the album. For me, it's not an album that is designed to sell companies or be "what's cool right now", but instead, more of capturing the past three years of my life."
When looking back on the previous albums tyDi has released, he explains he learned he was somewhat detached from his previous tracks, but the long and dedicated work on songwriting improved this aspect, all while incorporating a variety of live instrumentals into the album.
"On my previous albums, I was writing the club track first, then thinking about the vocals. Whereas with this album, I didn't start any production until I wrote the songs with whomever I was writing with," the artist explained. "We wrote the lyrics, the story, played the chords on the piano, then we had a song that we could put on paper, but it wasn't produced. We did the whole album like that - songwriting first, then producing. I also worked with string quartets, guitarists and other musicians. Some tracks even have huge orchestral parts."
To switch gears, we touched base on some memorable experiences of the summer. For tyDi, moving to Los Angeles and performing at Nocturnal Wonderland definitely made it to the top of the list.
"There were thousands of people at Nocturnal Wonderland, pyrotechnics and fireworks going off," tyDi raved of Insomniac's incredible production of their end-of-the-summer festival. "Everything fell into place. During the set, whenever one of my own tracks dropped, the fire and the explosions all came out. To be behind the scenes and see it from my perspective was unreal and insane!"
Now that summer is over and Redefined has finally dropped, there's still much in store for the Aussie producer in the coming months besides touring and promoting the new album.
"Hopefully in the next six months, I will be releasing Redefined: The Covers. I will do a remixed album, getting all the artists on the album to cover one of the other songs. For example, Jordan from The Ready Set, I would love to get his band to cover another song, maybe one of the dance tracks on the album, totally switching up their styles. I want to get Chris from Dashboard Confessional to cover one of the other songs. Everyone is going to switch places, find a song they most gravitate to and release an album where all the artists are covering the songs in the way they would, not considering myself in the process," he explained the start of his next unique project in the works. "Everyone knows the lyrics I wanted, the concept I wanted and the story I wanted to tell. Now, I am giving them a song and having them cover it as if I had nothing to do with it. It's a complete switch around."
Concluding the interview, I was even more impressed than before (wasn't sure that was even possible) with the heartfelt and creative songwriting process of the eclectic work tyDi has recently put out. Stepping outside of the box, the young artist is setting the bar high for others in the industry, and "redefining" himself as a talented artist to look out for. While waiting for more to come from the ever-talented and well-renowned producer, songwriter and DJ, be sure to grab a copy of Redefined, an album portraying a perfect mix of collaborative acoustic and electronica, and catch tyDi live this fall on his Redefined Tour in a city near you!
PHOTO CREDIT: SCOTT WALKER PHOTOGRAPHY
AUTHOR CREDIT: AMANDA COWAN