Having been on a steady rise over the past 5 years, Swiss Belgian melodic producer Paradoks is now releasing his new track New Beginning. He's also set to embark on a new chapter in his career with his first self-release on his new musical home, Antinome. Several releases that we now talk about with him, recalling his first steps and first contacts with industry people, the doubts he had about himself as an artist at the beginning of his career and the subsequent reflections, and some of the best and worst moments he has experienced throughout his career.
He will stream a very special set tomorrow on his YouTube channel, not only because of its beautiful location – the Cascade Du Dard, (Switzerland) – but it will also feature his own tracks, and eight out of eleven are unreleased, some even unfinished. “It's a set that goes from soft and light music all the way to dark and cinematic music, plunged into the incredible scenery,” he says.
A few days ago, you shared your most personal track, New Beginning, on your own imprint Antinome. This is a very important and emotional moment in your career, how do you feel?
Indeed, it is a big step for me. It’s a good feeling to see your own vision come to life and to be able to bring out music by yourself, opening endless opportunities. Nothing will stop my music from reaching its listeners now, and it’s great to be in control and not have to rely on the opinion of anyone else than myself. It comes down only to my own efforts and my trust that my music will resonate with my community and beyond.
This is a turning point in your professional career. Having been on a steady rise over the past 5 years, now you’re opening a new stage. How long have you been working on it? Have you always dreamed of this moment?
Not really, launching my label hasn’t necessarily been a dream. I’ve had and still have many dreams in my music career, but a label wasn’t really part of them. I always knew deep inside that I was going to launch my own label at some point in my career, though I saw it more as a future project, a natural next step rather than a dream. I just happened to launch it way earlier in my career stage than I thought I was going to.
The label itself isn’t that much of a big deal. I’m not trying to make Antinome the next revolutionary label, at least not at the moment. The focus isn’t really on the label itself, but more on the possibilities and the freedom to explore musical boundaries and to release very personal music without having to be validated by anyone. I really just wanted a place where I can touch people regardless of genre, and a place where I have complete control and artistic choice on what music I release, how and when I release it. Having this freedom will allow me to completely express myself and I believe it will ultimately lead to my most unique and personal music ever. It’s like truly embracing my own vision as an artist.
I started working on Antinome only 5 weeks prior to releasing New Beginning. That’s it. I sat down and thought when the best day would be to self-release my song, and only then started to work on everything surrounding the release, and the label was just a byproduct of this release. I had the name in mind for a year though. Antinome comes from ‘antinomy,’ a synonym of a ‘paradox.’ But in the actual creation of the label, it was all very short notice. I made a logo at the last moment, in 10 minutes, when I realised Beatport required one, for example. This showcases again that for me it’s real music first and label after. It’s been some really intense 5 weeks though, as I literally had to set up everything from scratch. From the artwork and animation of New Beginning, to setting up the release and label, to creating the whole campaign surrounding the track on all channels, from radio to streaming to social media platforms… It was really intense, but such a good learning experience
New Beginning pictures the story of someone’s initial struggle of belonging,” you shared with your followers when asked what your latest release meant. And you made parallelism with some experiences that you had lived in your personal and professional life, right? Could you tell us more about it?
Let’s start from the beginning. I had this strong vision when I was sitting on the bus on the way to school, listening to music and closing my eyes, imagining myself playing that music on a festival stage. It gave me such emotions and adrenaline. By then, I was already composing songs on the piano and a friend of mine told me one day I would live with music. I always took it as a joke, but the idea grew on me, in parallel with my university studies.
I played my first club show at 19 years old, and I realised how much I loved this. From that day, I was really determined to make a living in music. But this meant a lot of anxiety, obsession, and constant thinking on how to make my dream become a reality. The music industry really isn’t an easy place and my early days in the industry were quite difficult. My music wasn’t at the level I wanted it to be, and I had to learn not only how to improve my music but also go out there and network, most of the time without success.
My first contacts with industry people frankly weren’t the best: I got belittled, told empty promises and got ghosted countless times. I am quite sensitive to the energy around me, and what I initially felt with industry people was quite dark, which affected me and didn’t make it easy to fit in. I really had to prove myself.
Would you say you had to build your career by yourself? With barely any help?
I have built up my career by myself in the last 7 years, and it was a rather lonely path. A path of growth, for sure, but a really difficult one. I dealt with heartbreaking false hopes and tremendous self-doubt. This is also where Paradoks comes from. I wanted to live out of what made me the happiest, but in trying to do so, I was the most anxious I’ve ever been. This along with many other paradoxes made me pick the name Paradoks with the k from my real name Kobe. This all contributed to a struggle for belonging, an impostor syndrome. I made myself smaller around other artists as I constantly felt I didn’t deserve my place in the industry ‘yet.’ This happened until very recently still.
Also, as a child, we moved every 3 years for my father’s job. On the one hand, I am really grateful as this really opened my mind and shaped me into the person I am today. But all of this moving also meant my ‘home’ shifted constantly, which also contributed a bit to a struggle for belonging. And now, with my career, I’m travelling almost every weekend, so even to this day, and as much as I love Switzerland, I sometimes still don’t really know where my true home is, but I think I’ll figure this out soon.
Later on, when my career started picking up, people started liking my music for a particular sound, and there were clear trending genres and labels in electronic music.
Did this lead to any conflicts?
It led to inner artistical conflicts. Do I make music that would fit in, that people like, music that is popular for labels that are popular? This would for sure be the most logical choice to grow your career. But I didn’t feel it. It gave me more anxiety than anything else. But it was difficult, and it took some time to realize that. Now I am making music that really comes from within me. I strongly believe that our first experiences define our perception of the experiences that follow. Due to my first experiences in the industry, my belief system of the industry was that it was an obscure place, but my belief system is really changing now to a more positive place. Now, I feel I am outgrowing most of these paradoxes and inner conflicts. I’m letting go of thoughts, emotions and people that don’t help me in my life. I met some truly amazing people in the industry and am selective about whose energy I want close to me. There will of course always be challenges, but now I’m rather confident and trust the music I make and the people I surround myself with. I trust my path and my timing.
With Antinome, for example, I can just really express what I feel, whether that will be through acoustic piano EPs or banging club music, there are no more boundaries. Long answer short, if you pay close attention to New Beginning lyrics, they basically encapsulate most of what I wrote here, with room for the listener to interpret it in his way. Quoting the lyrics of the second part of New Beginning: “I guess I’m close to where I’m supposed to be,” both mentally and physically. The ultimate message behind the song is that despite the difficult times, despite not knowing where you belong, ultimately if you trust your path enough, you’ll get where you’re supposed to be. I hope this can reflect on the listener and help them through any moment they might need.
Have you ever doubted yourself, have you felt that you were not worth enough? How have you managed to trust what you do?
As I mentioned above, of course, I have been through years of self-doubt, of trying stuff that could work instead of doing what I really felt. I think it’s normal for any artist to have some degree of self-doubt at the beginning. You can have all the motivation in the world, but if you’re in the first months of music production and your music objectively sucks, then of course you will have days of self-doubt. But every moment of self-doubt is also inviting a reflection of the self. As long as you have passion, drive and work hard, ultimately you will see that your music gets better. You will see that it gets picked up by great artists and that people feel it, either by sending you DMs to tell you how much the music touches them or by seeing videos of packed dancefloors dancing and cheering to your music. And then you will go through self-doubt again, but over time, the confidence and trust in your music will win ultimately.
So, to answer your question, trust your vision, stick to it and only time will make you trust what you do. But also, be open to changes and listen to your heart and your emotions: if your heart tells you something else, if you have to pivot and change direction, time will tell. Listen to it and you will finally trust yourself.
Opening new chapters in life means looking back to close past stages. Also, those that have not been particularly good or that have posed some obstacles. What has been the worst moment of your life?
This is such a great question. I honestly can’t recall a certain worst moment of my life so far. The past is anyways a place I don’t like to look into too much, and I think my worst moments are buried deep within. As mentioned previously, I don’t recall such good memories of when I made my first steps in the industry. It was very difficult to cope with it alone. It’s difficult to find one particular ‘worst’ moment since this was all over a very large time span.
I recall one particular false hope, where they confirmed a release on a dream label of mine back then, all of this to then be ghosted and the slow realization that none of it would happen. Not a strict no, but rather the hopes of a dream slowly burning away with every single passing day. Imagine waking up every morning to check your email to see if you got any news regarding the release, only to realize after a few weeks that it will never arrive, as you don’t get any answer to your email. That was quite depressing and demotivating.
Now I don’t take it personally anymore, and it all contributed to making me stronger both as a human being and as an artist. I take it as a life lesson that until it happens, nothing is for sure, and I, therefore, don’t celebrate early anymore. Instead, I focus on what I have control over, let go of the things I don’t, and trust that everything that happens is part of my journey, good or bad.
And the best so far? What has music and sound brought you in your personal life?
Just as I don’t recall a specific worst moment, I don’t recall a specific best moment either. As much as I lived many difficult moments, I also lived a lot of truly beautiful moments. It’s generally mostly through periods, I recall some periods where I felt extremely present, happy, and connected to life and the people around me. I’m a sensitive person and I really feel a lot, so just like when I feel bad energy around me, the contrary is also very true: when I feel really at peace or happy with the people surrounding me, I feel it very vividly.
The moments I was the happiest were the most basic moments, surrounded by my closest friends and afternoons full of laughter. Music has brought me many friends, brought me to countless places I would have never thought of, and created memorable moments both on and out of the dancefloor. More than anything, music brought me immense inner growth and shaped me into the person I am today. But I know that the best is yet to come, both in my personal life and my career, and I am ready for it.
Do you now feel closer than ever before to your listeners?
Yes, I’m feeling closer and closer to my listeners because I also feel that I’m releasing more and more music that is an authentic reflection of myself. I feel more connected to them by the day. More and more often, when I get to a club, my fans really give me a lot of energy and make my night. It’s a very different feeling of having people that know your music and truly connect with it, that come to see you play and cheer when you’re on.
In the first years, people didn’t know who I was: I was an unknown artist that surprised people. This had its magic as well as people came without expectations. But there is nothing better than people approaching you and telling you how much they love your music and that they travelled all the way to come and see you perform. It feels like a community.
I also receive heartwarming comments and DMs on how much some people identify with my music and how it helps them through difficult times. I had, for example, someone thank me for my music, as he lost his father a week before and my music really made him feel close to him. Or a known consciousness influencer and coach that shared my track New Beginning wholeheartedly, stating that this song programs you positively. This is really what it’s all about for me and it just makes me so happy when people truly connect with my music.
You have toured all over the globe in recent years. Social media sometimes only show the most beautiful part, the love of the crowd. But there are also more complicated moments, right? How do you deal with difficult moments having so many things on your agenda?
Touring is really beautiful and fun. I see so many different places, meet so many amazing people, and share so many moments and smiles. But indeed, it can also be really daunting and exhausting. Sometimes the show isn’t that good, sometimes the logistics can be a mess, it can be really stressful... Very often you are sleep deprived on tour. I’m rather prone to anxiety, though I control it rather well. But when you don’t sleep enough for various days, it can take a toll on your mental health and also changes your perception of the world around you, in a negative way, giving way for fears and anxieties to surface. But it’s not just touring. As an independent artist, there are so many things to do, from negotiating deals, logistics of touring, promotion of your music, drafting agreements, social media presence, content creation, in my case the label launch, artwork and infinite background things people have no idea about. And of course, composing, and producing music, which I haven’t been able to do properly since April this year. This is extremely overwhelming, and I don’t know many artists at my level that do everything by themselves. I’m doing like 10 jobs in 1. So, the way I deal with touring now is by making sure my health and sleep go before anything else. In India for example, I made sure to have only afternoon flights to ensure a proper night of rest. And despite being in a beautiful country with so much culture and diversity, this time I didn’t go out to explore. Because that would have meant shortening up my night of sleep which was already quite limited considering I had a 20-hour trip to India, with three late-night gigs in three cities with three national flights every day and a 20-hour trip back home three afterwards. Had I tried to wake up earlier to see anything, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it anyway and I would probably have crashed. This happened to me already in Colombia: I once fainted in the hotel corridor, woke up blind with one eye and blurry with the other, because I had just done 4 shows without little to no sleep, dehydrated and in a heatwave. The next day in the clinic I really realized that this is not the way to tour. So now I drink a lot of water, make sure I can maximize my sleep, and don’t cheap out on flights anymore. The way I deal with all the other things on my agenda is still something I’m working on, and I am starting to look into building a team around my project for 2023, otherwise, it will hinder not only my growth as an artist but more importantly it will burn me out. 
Let's talk about Antinome, your biggest release to date. What can you tell us about this new project?
New Beginning for sure is one of my most special tracks because the lyrics really allowed me to add another depth of meaning to my song. It could convey a concrete message that I couldn’t do beforehand. Of course, there was always feeling and meaning in my music, but without lyrics, it’s done in a more abstract way, whereas New Beginning really speaks from my personal and artistic life. A message stating that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. As mentioned previously, Antinome will, for now, only be used only to give birth to my own songs and to release music that is beyond what most labels would see fit to release. In the end, it allows me to make my own mark.
In this project, you encompass your love for club music, as well as melodic and classical sounds, allowing for endless possibilities and free rein to delve into every fibre of your sonic identity, as we read in your manifesto. What are the pillars on which your sound identity is built?
I feel like a circle is closing. I started music by teaching myself the piano and shortly after I started to compose my own songs. This led me to do some small piano concerts before I discovered my deep love for electronic music and the endless possibilities of music production. Then I started to focus on darker electronic music, to later evolve into melodic techno. And now I want to reconnect with the piano, as every time I sit on it, time stops and melodies just start naturally flowing. This is where I feel that the circle is closing: I now want to connect my love for contemporary classical cinematic music with electronic music. The idea of doing a live set including the piano, much like the piano concerts in my early days, but in electronic music, dancing concert format is starting to pulse through my veins.
So, to answer the question, my musical pillars are deeply rooted in melodic music from the contemporary piano, combined with strong electronic elements. I have those two sides in me, the energy and the longing for exciting, powerful music, but also the soft, introspective and deep music. I really want to bridge all gaps between emotions and adrenaline and explore all shades of that sound, from soft, emotive and contemplative music to strong, dark and bold music. 
And to celebrate the release of Antinome, you're going to be live with a stream on your YouTube channel from Cascade Du Dard (Switzerland).
Indeed, I will stream a very special set on Wednesday, 7th of December 2022. This is a very special stream not only because of its beautiful location, but it will also feature only my own tracks, and eight of the eleven are unreleased, some even unfinished. It’s a set that goes from soft and light music all the way to dark and cinematic music, plunged into the incredible scenery.
What are your goals five years from now?
I have so many projects and ideas. First, to start a live set, then maybe later to expand it to a symphonic experience. I want to continue to tour the world, both as a DJ and as a live act. My goal in five years is ultimately to reach more and more people through my music and hopefully make their day better. All of this with financial freedom, allowing me not to have to rely almost entirely on touring. This will give me peace of mind and therefore probably better music. I’d also love to make music for film and TV, though I think this is more something for later than five years
And what message would you like to send to the world?
I want everybody to go out and do what their gut tells them to do, regardless of the challenges. This might sound cheesy, but don’t settle for less than your dreams. Sacrifice comfort for a life that might be more difficult at first, but ultimately the only one really worth living. Listen to yourself, and discover what your heart is pushing you towards. It can be anything really, whether that is being a loving mother, a teacher, a CEO or a famous movie star. It doesn’t have to be big, It has to be you. Become what you are always meant to be. Don’t get pressured by society to become a certain thing, listen to your true calling and go all in.
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