Henry Fong has been a force in the dance music scene for a hot minute now. His latest single “Young Hearts” featuring Nyla and Stylo G saw the producer move in a bit of a different direction than his previous works. We caught up with him after his recent tour in Asia to see why he’s moving in this new direction and what plans he has for the future.
Henry Fong – Young Hearts feat. Nyla & Stylo G | Download
1. You just got back from touring in Asia! Any notable tour experiences?
Yeah, I went to Vietnam for the first time, and loved it! My new favorite place. The food is the some of the best in Asia. The promoters were awesome and showed me around to all the good local food. You gotta try ‘Bun Bo Hue’, it’s like Pho on steroids, the real shit!
2. Tell us a bit more about how the collaboration with Stylo G and Nyla came about on “Young Hearts?”
Well my buddy Reid actually had done a songwriting session with Nyla and put me in touch with her. It was awesome working with some session players as well. I got the trumpets done professionally, I did the guitars and bassline with my buddy from a reggae band, and then did all the drums and arrangement last. My vision was for the track to really have the live feel and be able to be performed by a band one day.
Next, I hit up Stylo who has worked with a couple of my buddies previously. He can do real proper dancehall but also has a great voice for singing too. He was the perfect balance to really finish off the track right. It was a really long process making a track like this, I’ll never hate on anyone who makes radio oriented music again. It’s very tough to orchestrate and pull off successfully. I have also learned how important vocals and good song writing is.
3. “Young Hearts” is a different direction from your previous singles. Tell us your inspiration for creating a more reggae, dancehall-infused single?
Well my most supported breakout club tracks like ‘Hot Steppa’ and ‘Wine Dem’ and ‘FEAR’ were very reggae/dancehall inspired and those seemed to be received the best by other DJs and fans so decided to focus on that sound more.
Those two really seemed to click for me and they both got a ton of DJ support. It feels more like me and what i actually listen to outside of EDM. I wanted to take that sound and make something more melodic though that you could listen to anywhere at anytime, beyond the club for ‘Young Hearts’.
4. Can we expect the same musical direction in your upcoming releases?
Yeah from here on out most of the tracks will be dancehall/reggae inspired but still with my signature energetic main stage sound. I’m the most inspired by 90s early 2000s dancehall riddims. I’ve sampled a bunch of them, like my track FEAR that came out on Calvin Harris’ label Fly Eye. I sampled the famous ‘Coolie Dance’ Riddim. I love that era because it’s what I used to listen to at parties in highschool and on the radio growing up in South Florida haha. There was so much caribbean music on the radio during that time especially in South Florida. You could flip on any station and it was playing reggaeton and dancehall.
5. Your other recent releases like your remix of Bugle x Shaggy’s “Ganja” and Sage The Gemini’s “Now and Later” are more Electro/Moombahton oriented. Many of your peers have deserted these sounds in favor of a more “futuristic” style. How do you feel about other DJ’s been pressure by that wave?
I kind of did the opposite and went back to more bare-bones club music. Less serum bass growly electro sounds and more groovy drums and vocals. Been really into the 100bpm range the last couple years — to me seems to be the best tempo for dancing (not the jump up and down kind haha). I feel like my strength is making tracks that make people dance, not really in depth fancy sound design. As a producer, you have to play off your strengths.
I’ve seen a lot of DJs switch to making future bass. It’s basically the current evolution of what 2009-2012 Avicii/Alesso/SHM type progressive house was but with a trap beat. DJs always gotta have some melodic tunes in the arsenal, so I think a lot of guys that didn’t make Trap jumped on it because the older style of progressive house wasn’t as popular as it used to be, but it was more natural for the Trap producers to do it. Tons of guys are making great future bass though, like Graves and Illenium–they’re sick!
6. We’ve seen you and Hardwell dropping your collaboration “Badam” during your sets recently. Tell us how that collaboration came about and when can we expect a release date?
Well I had this rough demo, it was a dancehall type beat but more big room feeling to it. The main concept was to have the drop be the chorus of the vocal, so I thought to send it to Robbert (Hardwell) and he finished it and got Mr. Vegas on board. Hardwell and I have been friends since he signed one of my first records in 2013. He came up as a bubblin’ beats/Dancehall DJ in Holland before he was even making the Hardwell music you know him for now. He has a pretty big knowledge of dancehall so thought he’d be perfect for the collab! No release date yet, but hope soon…I know the fans really want this one and I’m excited to release it!
7. What’s your best piece of advice for up & coming producers within the current state of dance music?
You really have to have very very good unique music at this point to break through. It’s a lot tougher now that everyone has access to the plugins and can make crazy sounds with VSTs like serum at the touch of a button. Before you really only had massive, sylenth, and razor and had to get creative and detailed with sound design. Also your branding and marketing has to be so good now to stand out, music and branding has to be in a cohesive package.
8. Any upcoming releases on your label Banzai Recs?
Yes! have about 3 demos signed, working now on a creative way to release them! We are still going to push club music even if it’s not the stuff getting all the streams and making the money. Banzai is a passion project for me and harder club oriented music is such an important part of why EDM is where it is now and people can’t forget that.
9. Mixing it up in honor of your love for surfing… What’s a dream surfing destination on your bucket list you’ve yet to visit?
The Mentawais in Indonesia! That’s probably every surfers dream. It’s so isolated and you have to take a boat from Sumatra to these little islands, once you get there you take these boat trips and the captain drives you around to all the waves. I have been so close yet so far in Jakarta on tour.