Over the past several years, Pete Dougherty has built a reputation as one of Anjunadeep’s most intriguing stars. Though he launched his career around the turn of the decade, Moon Boots broke through most resoundingly with his 2015 singles “Utopia” and “Red Sky,” which introduced his brand of complex, entrancing deep house to his broadest audience yet.
Two years later, Dougherty has honored his benchmark hits by featuring both of them in his debut album, First Landing. Released on Friday, August 4, the 10-track LP provides a thorough glimpse into Moon Boots’ stylistic penchants. Throughout the course of the record, a duality is present in Dougherty’s sonic brand.
The mesmerizing composition which defined “Red Sky” is further present in newer album singles such as “First Landing” and “The Life Aquatic.” Moon Boots also delves deeper into the soulful, R&B-inspired sound which pervaded the Janelle Kroll-assisted “Utopia” across the vast assortment of vocal-laden songs which make up the bulk of the LP. In particular, “Never Get to You,” “Keep the Faith,” and “Power” stand out as exemplars for this area of Dougherty’s inspiration – bolstered by lyrical contributions of Antony & Cleopatra, Nic Hanson, and Black Gatsby, respectively.
With a distinctly-crafted signature sound and a full-length Anjuna project to his name, Moon Boots has proven his astute understanding of how to succeed and evolve as an artist in the electronic realm. In the hopes of imparting his hard-earned wisdom onto the current generation of aspiring producers, Dougherty has taken it upon himself to outline his steps to success in this Dancing Astronaut Op-ed.
Don’t get attached to your day job
There are a lot of different beliefs on this and my advice is no better than anyone else’s. Honestly it’s hard enough to find a good career these days, so if you are driven or lucky enough to get one, you might want to keep music as a hobby. But if you can’t or won’t get a good job, don’t hedge your bets. Pay your rent working as little as possible (bartending / serving / temping / tutoring / freelancing / DJ’ing bars & weddings) and spend the rest of your week on music for as long as you can get away with it. You won’t have the bread for a nice apartment or vacations, but you’ll be getting paid to go on vacation when you get booked on the road.
Get some hardware
If you’re just starting out on the laptop, get at least one piece of hardware, whether it’s a synth, sampler, drum machine or something else. If you’ve never spent much time browsing you might be surprised what you can get for <$500, both new & used.
Don’t download every software crack you can get your hands on
Learn the stuff you have. Get good at it. Find the sounds that a person casually diving through presets never would. Then think about getting other stuff.
Make music everyday
This is so important, especially when you’re starting out. Don’t let producing be like the guitar that gets pulled out of the closet a couple times a year. You won’t get anywhere unless you make music every day. For a few years. Be patient.
If you already know an instrument, use it
It always mystifies me when I hear producers say they play guitar or trumpet or violin or sing choir but don’t incorporate that into their electronic music. It will set you apart from your peers and will probably make it more fun.
Don’t pigeonhole yourself; listen to all kinds of music
Don’t listen to new club tracks in your chosen genre all the time. It will make your music boring and one-dimensional. Find whatever speaks to you, whether it’s disco, old school hip hop, old trance / progressive tracks, quiet storm, dub reggae, classic rock, classical or all of the above. Or none of the above. Take ideas from those styles — snippets of lyrics, bass lines, melodies, chord progressions, drum fills, production tricks, etc.. — and put them to use in your music.
Find a crew
Some artists seem to spring up fully-formed with no help. This is almost never true. If you don’t have a crew, find one. If you can’t find one in your local scene, look beyond it. This even goes for music capitals like London, New York, Chicago, Paris, Los Angeles, Berlin etc. When it comes to getting your music on the springboard it will need to get discovered, you may need to look beyond your city. Or you might be so freakishly talented you get signed to your dream label on your first track (but you probably won’t.) In any case, try and find a crew of people who love music just as much as you do.
Don’t be a total shut-in, but also don’t be a social butterfly
If you aren’t too young or too geographically isolated to go out to clubs, don’t spend all your waking hours in your studio. I can think of a bunch of tracks I never would have written if I hadn’t been out on a certain night. Support your friends when they’re playing and check out the superstars and legends whose ranks you will one day be joining if you keep at it. That said, no one’s gonna judge you (or care) if you stay home and work. Some people have a harder time staying in than others, but without a good work ethic, you’re probably not going to get anywhere.
When things really get cooking, you’re gonna find yourself oscillating between two extremes. On the one hand, you’ll need to be comfortable in big crowds and crazy late night parties. On the other, you’ll have days and weeks in front of your monitors without much social interaction. It’s a schizophrenic lifestyle. You’ll be a mess sometimes but remember that you signed up for this!
Don’t read too many articles like this
It’s easy to get writer’s block and think that someone else has the answers. Maybe you’ll be able to write that great track after you finish those e-books / complete that online course / learn music theory / start practicing yoga and meditation. Some of these are good uses of your time of course, but often you’re just putting more obstacles in your place.
Stay humble, don’t get complacent or bitter, learn new skills, enjoy the ride.
Moon Boots’ debut album is available for purchase here.