After touring for a few years under the name Sebastien-H, musician - songwriter - artist - producer Sebasiten Heintz has turned a new page in 2021 with the launch of his new project UNIVERS-ÎLS. As a connoseuir of astrology, Sebastien landed on UNIVERS-ÎLS, inspired by philosopher Emmanuel Kant's designation of galaxies as « islands in the sky». This new name and project has allowed Sebastien to come back with a fresher identity to share his new EP, Voyager 2, proudly released via iMusician on November 5th.
Voyager 2 is a collection of 5 songs blending french lyrics and prose with indie rock, ambient folk, and soulful electronic music. From the first few notes of the intro track, Voyager 2, the listener enters a very singular and unique universe. A voyage between french words, aerial guitar sounds, powerful synths, and delicate beats. The production is audacious but elegant, displaying the versatility of Sebastien and his co-producer/best friend Loric Mathez’s musicality.
As we've been rinsing Voyager 2 here at the iMusician offices, we decided to catch up with Sebastien this month to dive into his creative process, tips for building out a home studio, and how he has found success as an independent artist.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your musical project?
I started playing music at the age of 10 and started writing/recording songs at 12 on a 4 track recorder. Since then I studied music in London and toured around the world with different projects and bands. I now produce, write, and arrange music in my studio, tour with my bands and different artists!
Can you tell us about your inspirations and the process of creating your latest EP "Voyager 2"?
The songs were written between 2015 and 2019, so it’s been a patchwork of feelings and emotions. My inspirations vary from talks with friends, looking out the window of the van on tour, and staring at the beautiful landscapes the universe has given us. Irma was quickly written just after dinner with a good friend of mine who jokingly said “call me Irma" and I immediately thought there was a song lying in these few words.
Neptune was the last track written and was the quickest to be produced. I wrote it before adopting a bunny who - no joke - saved my life big time. He arrived in my life at a point where I was looking for meaning and he really gave me one. When I wrote Terre I was up in the alps on a ski trip and wanted to write a song to paint the beauty of Nature. It was really a few years later that I reconnected to the true message of the song, which just invites you to connect with yourself through connecting with Nature. It’s a really powerful message to me.
When I bring songs to life in the studio I like to paint a picture and really set a mood. I always like to enhance the message, but with instruments, so that even if you don’t speak French you can understand what the song is about!
What music was floating in your everyday life when you composed it?
Lots of Ben Howard and Bon Iver! Because I love french I’m listening to a lot of French artists too such as Raphael! I’m a big fan of ambient music, and by the end of the production process I discovered Rafael Anton Irisarri. I listened to his albums non-stop! I think combining all of these inspirations really works for me and kind of shapes my universe now.
Did you record the album in your home studio? If so, what gear did you use, and do you have any tips to share for aspiring producers building out their home studio?
The record was produced in my best friend’s parent’s villa where we built a studio. It’s not a home studio so to speak as we have professional gear and a proper setup BUT it really feels like home. We like that very warm feeling you know. To me, I feel like it’s the best to make good, intimate records. I’ve also recorded some guitars and piano at home with my UAD Apollo and some cool mics!
I think the best tip ever is to produce and record music as much as possible. Use the limitations of your setup to be creative and come up with your production style! Don’t overthink it too much. If your cheap mic sounds good then it is good! It’s not always about the price tag or the brand name on the gear. But I guess a good foundation for any studio or home studio is to get a DAW that works for you and a good interface! The rest is magic… well being creative!
Do you have an established strategy for promoting your new music? If so, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
To this day I’ve tried different strategies and I don’t feel like there’s a right or wrong answer. But I feel like the more authentic and genuine you are the more chance you’ll have to make it through all of the noise and connect with your fan base!
What does it mean to you to be independent in music?
Being an independent artist means wearing a few different hats! But it also means knowing what works for you and knowing your strengths so you can surround yourself with friends that know their arts and their craft. Independent doesn’t mean working alone! We’re stronger together! Also, don’t be afraid to try things out. The more you make, the more you create the better you become at being a 360° artist!
What are you working on right now / musical aspirations for 2022?
Well as I respond to your question I’m sitting in the most beautiful Swiss venue called Le Stravinsky (where the Montreux Jazz Festival is being hosted every year) and I have the chance (it’s a f**** dream come true!) to play here tomorrow with some friends!
Also, I’m working on a live set with my drummer-producer-best friend and we’ll be starting to tour a lot more next year! I’m also working on a few different EP for some really cool artists so that’s really exciting and I’ll be mixing our next EP by the end of 2022 to release hopefully early 2023!
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