On Breaking Through The Sound Barrier - Hennedub, Music Producer
Images by Daniel Birkebæk
What sparked the dream of becoming a music producer and has anything changed since then?
I have been listening to a lot of rap music since I was young, and I quickly became obsessed with the likes of 50 Cent, Lil Jon and Kanye West. I decided to try making my own songs at age 11, though after a while I realized that I didn’t have much to write about, lacking life experience. I started to focus on producing instead – and as I went on to become even more fascinated by that particular aspect of the hip hop genre, I stuck with it.
Years later I am still in love with making music and I cannot imagine a life for myself without it. However, a valuable skill I learned is to take breaks. Sometimes you get caught up in creating and lose track of everything else, and your brain might simply need some time off. At those times, it’s important for me to take breaks from the studio in order to return feeling even more inspired.
Another key thing that has changed in my progress is the fact that I’m much more focused on the good melodies compared to when I began. Naturally, I’m trying to be way more involved in the writing and toplining with the artists that I work with – obviously some more than others. I want to ensure that I do whatever I can to secure the best song.
You have lived and worked in America, and then returned to Denmark. Could you imagine moving abroad again for work?
I had an amazing time moving to Los Angeles. It was a really exciting challenge for me to try and work in a completely different creative environment where I definitely had to take an alternative approach compared to how I usually work in Denmark. I love the motivation I get whenever I’m there, as I know that I have much more to achieve.
However, on a personal level, Denmark is home to me, and I think I will always feel that way. That’s the reason I decided to move home after living in LA, and I have no plans of moving again in the future. Instead, I travel to the States once or twice a year for months at a time, primarily visiting LA, New York and Miami, working intensely to get the most out of my stay. But I’m always looking forward to return to Denmark after a trip.
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In your opinion, what are the most critical challenges you face, in your struggle for success?
Patience is key for the most part. Sometimes you get frustrated with yourself for not being in whatever place you want to be. But I always try to turn that frustration into motivation for bettering myself, spending more time educating myself and keeping up with trends – but not necessarily jumping onto them. As long as you stay patient and work on developing your own sound rather than rushing it, you’ll always gain from it in the long run. It’s also important getting the right people around you that are just as passionate about your music as you are yourself.
For me the definition of being successful is to be satisfied with yourself, and to have the opportunity to spend every day doing what you love. Also, I think it’s important to remind yourself what kind of an impact you have on people, and how the work you do has an effect on your audience. That motivates me and makes me happy.
How did you develop your sound?
As mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of time educating myself on the technical side of music, and I still do. Therefore, I’m far from done developing my sound, cause it’s constantly evolving. The main thing for me is to just keep things interesting. I love making music in all kinds of genres and sometimes experimenting with blending them together to achieve a whole new sound. In the songs I’ve released so far, I think I have only revealed a small portion of what’s to come in the future. But I think it’s apparent that I love doing different types of music if you listen to the versatility of my catalogue.
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Approaching a new project, how does the process unfold?
It comes naturally for the most part. As I mentally prepare myself for an upcoming project, I start envisioning the artist could be sounding, and I make sure to leave no idea unsaid. Communication between producer and artist is one of the most important things, so I don’t want to hold any of my thoughts back. The best artist-producer relationships are the ones where you feel completely safe and aren’t scared to be laughed at if you have a strange idea. For me, it’sreally important to know that the people I’m working with believe in me and let me try out even the weirdest ideas - even if it doesn’t end up working. No masterpiece ever came from “playing it safe”.
Which of your projects are you most proud of?
‘Imported’ by Jessie Reyez and 6LACK is my most successful international song yet, so I’m very proud of that one. I went to the Grammys because of this song, which was huge dream come true.
Then, my 2018 single “Holder Fast” featuring Danish icons Gilli and Lukas Graham means a lot to me as well, as it was my first release as an artist, and it went straight to #1 in Denmark.
Lastly, the upcoming album ‘BO4L’ with Danish rapper Kesi, features a lot of songs I’m really proud of. Unfortunately, I can’t go more into detail with those right now, but hopefully people will love them as much as I do.
Which is the one project or track, you wish you had produced?
That’s a very tough question, especially as I enjoy so many different musical styles of music. I would not be able to name a specific song, but if I had had to name an album, I would say ‘808s and Heartbreak’ by Kanye West. The balance between the simplicity of that record and how it simultaneously feels so huge is incredible. Also, it laid the foundation for a whole new generation of hip hop artists, making the whole genre more melodically interesting. And you know I love a good melody.