Producer and performer on the rise, F-ETHER has been recognized by A-Trak and Fool's Gold Records as "more than just another DJ", awarded a grand-prize winning remix in Grand Marnier’s #BlendOut competition. He has been dubbed “an experimental electronic dance music legend-in-the-making” by Queen City Sounds and Art, and one of the 'best electronic artists in Denver' by 303 Magazine as well as being nominated 'best of' in the 2019 Denver Westword Music Awards. He's been on the bill with internationally renowned artists such as Flying Lotus, Great Dane, Anklepants, Dan Deacon, Noer the Boy, Moontricks, and Itchy-O.
Needless to say we're thrilled to dive into his music, and wax on art and life.
We sat down with F-ETHER (aka Skyler Heck) to discuss his new remix release- a hot take on the song "Maybe" from budding producer/vocalist Litchee, out of Delhi, India.
We were struck by how F-ETHER effortlessly moves the textures of the original song- the vinyl crackle and lo-fi bedroom-beat feeling, into a new context and concentration. From the beginning Litchee's angelic voice is ushered through radio static, where it then lands softly in a drum and bass dream.
We're honored to premier the track "Maybe (F-ETHER Remix)" here!
Listen below and purchase the track on Bandcamp- "Maybe (F-ETHER Remix)" Then, read on about F-ETHER's process and the growth of his artistry through this trepidatious year.
I think it's rare to find someone so open to letting someone across the world that you've never met to dissect, dismember, and reanimate something as intimate as a work of art. That is really telling of Litchee's character...
DIRT: How did you meet Litchee and what was the collaboration process like remixing her song "Maybe"?
F-ETHER: I was scrolling through some hashtags on Instagram and I stumbled across a post or two from a musician that goes by Litchee. She had recently released her song "Maybe", and posted a short video snippet of her performing the song. I really enjoyed what I heard, and I tracked the song down immediately.
It wasn't long before I was head over heels with the original track, and I mustered up the courage to shoot her a DM and ask if she's ever had anyone remix her music.
She gave me total free reign over which direction I wanted to steer the remix and it fell together really organically. I wanted to keep the overall feeling that she presented in the track, as I loved the contrast of emotion to the lyrical content. I also wanted to give a nod to how compelling the simple structure of the original track was, so I applied that to the remix, albeit with new content and a different approach.
I think it's rare to find someone so open to letting someone across the world that you've never met to dissect, dismember, and reanimate something as intimate as a work of art. That is really telling of Litchee's character as both an artist and a person, and I'm so grateful that she trusted me in this process.
DIRT: When you're not remixing do you record your own vocals as well as producing?
F-ETHER: In my last release, "Fulcrum + Lever", a cover version of the song by The Faint, this was actually my first time using my own voice as a driving element of the song. It was still heavily processed to the point of it being almost unrecognizable as my own, but it was a great first step. I'm actually working on a song with a friend where I will be doing some vocals again, and I have some butterflies in my stomach about it... but I think a healthy dose of fear can be a good motivator! Ha ha
DIRT: Do you play any other instruments?
F-ETHER:I started my path as a musician around age 11 when I started playing my dad's drums when he wasn't home. Eventually I got caught, though, with his only words when he opened the door on me being, "Hey, that sounds pretty good," and closing the door immediately after. It was downhill from there, and I spent most of my pre-teen and teenage years behind a drumkit. I also dabbled in piano around the same time, and I continue to do so to this day. It's such a foundational element of being a computer musician and producer (for me at least) that I can't imagine not keeping up with it. It's the best way to explore new melodies! I've also been tinkering with guitars for a lot of my life, but until this year they never really stuck. It all kind of came together when my partner let me borrow her 5-string bass, and from there I've been pretty consistently playing with string instruments.
DIRT: What is your primary tool as an artist?
F-ETHER:It has to be my trusty 2012 13" Macbook Pro!
I realized that self-awareness, spiritual growth, and our existence as artists are not separate things, but are very much one and the same.
DIRT: What insights have you gained this past year and how has it effected your music and your process?
F-ETHER: My 2020 started out pretty rough in January already. I had just gotten out of an extremely toxic relationship that continued to create so many problems in my life, even after the romantic relationship had been removed. Ending that relationship really led me to do some deep, internal self-work and to recognize these behaviors and patterns that existed both in me and the energies I was inviting into my life. Then the pandemic started and day-to-day life really shifted. I was furloughed from my day-job that I absolutely love, and that threw me off a bit. I used my newly found free-time to dive deeper into my soul-searching journey and artistry as a whole.
I realized that self-awareness, spiritual growth, and our existence as artists are not separate things, but are very much one and the same. They are all a part of a very similar process, especially for me personally, and they complement each other to infinite ends. By focusing on our mental health and general well-being we can work through pieces of ourselves that we never knew existed before.
As for me I was able to rediscover a spiritual side of myself that had been dormant for quite some time, and in doing that I rediscovered the meaning of F-ETHER; what I had always meant for it to be from the start. I reestablished my relationship with myself and in the process reestablished my relationship with music in a way that I had never experienced before.
Do the frightening type of processing that you can pick yourself up from lighter than you were when you fell from the burden of it.
We all have the capacity to heal ourselves, deeply. In healing ourselves we are able to heal each other. We must remember that we function as individuals within a collective, but that the collective also functions because of the individuals that show up. So show up for yourself first and do the work. Do the messy work that helps you to find strength in vulnerability. Do the frightening type of processing that you can pick yourself up from lighter than you were when you fell from the burden of it. Do the brave work and deep healing that will make your ancestors proud. Do it for yourself, and do it for us all, because we need each other a lot more than most of us want to admit.
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