TheFatRat swung by to chat about his forthcoming debut album PARALLAX after the release of lead single “Hiding In The Blue.”
Over the years, TheFatRat has earned a reputation for being one of the most influential gaming music artists and his immense online following has only bolstered that claim. His music has been synced to popular games like Rocket League and Dota 2, making him the go-to artist for e-Sports events like ESL and Dreamhack. And just this past year TheFatRat, with the help of a dedicated fan, fostered a Discord community that has grown to more than 20,000 users.
TheFatRat has always considered the internet his home and as he worked on his forthcoming debut album, PARALLAX, that home really came out to support. Starting today he will be releasing one track every week, starting with “Hiding In The Blue.” This anthem combines electronic dance music with orchestral elements to tell the story of the main character that was previously featured in tracks like “Close To The Sun” and “Stronger.”
In this track, she is retreating from the world to find space for healing both physically and mentally. This song really highlights the internal struggle of getting “the blues” when we stay inside of our comfort zone. Moreover, the featured vocalist, RIELL, is a fan that reached out to collaborate and ended up creating something beautiful while further showcasing that community aspect that TheFatRat has championed. And beyond the music, the artwork and lyrics will help tell a deeper storyline with imaginative characters as TheFatRat continues to build the lore.
Looking to gain some insight ahead of the release of PARALLAX, we caught up with TheFatRat to chat about everything from its lead single to his thriving community on Discord. Check out “Hiding In The Blue” on YouTube or your preferred platform, pre-save PARALLAX before it drops, and read on for the full conversation with him to dive deep into his mind!
Watch the visualizer for TheFatRat & RIELL’s “Hiding In The Blue” on YouTube:
Hi Christian, Happy Belated Birthday, I know it was earlier this month. Did you plan or do anything special to celebrate this year?
No, I was producing. The album still wasn’t fully finished. So my wife kept asking me, “Hey, what are we gonna do on your birthday?” And I was always saying, “yeah, I’m gonna tell you later.” That went on for two weeks and then it was finally my birthday and she asked “what are we going to do now?” and I was like, “yeah.” Now I don’t even know what we did. I think we just went for a walk or something and then I went back into the studio.
Ah, so studio time has been taking up a lot of your time.
Not any more. This week actually everything is finished and I’m getting back to life.
That must be a really good feeling. Storytelling through music is something you’ve definitely honed in on over the years, which makes your debut album Parallax even more exciting to listen to. What inspired this type of creation and how has the response been from your community?
It’s not like I found the storytelling, but more the storytelling found me. It was never a conscious decision. It just happened that the music I make, everybody was saying for all the songs, “oh it tells a story.” Then it became that I just can’t do anything else and when I make music it kind of forms the story automatically and also when I decided to make an album it was like automatically: “OK it’s gotta be one story” as if there wasn’t any other option. Sometimes we’re just made that way probably.
What would you say was the biggest challenge when trying to put the album together?
I kept making everybody around me mad by exchanging songs again and again. I would come out and say, “OK this is going to be the order and this is going to be the story.” Then I’d finish it, and I would think no, this isn’t quite fitting, let’s take this song out and put this one in instead and change other songs so everything really fits the story. Just getting those things right was quite the challenge. It really… Everyone started making fun of me. They started to say, “OK, what are you going to change next,” but I just said, “No, no, but now it’s really finished.”
The lead single, “Hiding in the Blue,” has such a beautiful vocal with a very video game-esque sound. Can you share a little bit about RIELL and how this collaboration came about?
Yeah, she just reached out like so many others. She said she wanted to work with me and I kind of liked the song but the direction wasn’t quite right and I told her, “hey I’m more searching in this direction.” Then she wrote like five songs in the direction I had told her. It was really cool but it was still too… “normal” for me. So I got her on a call and said, “can you just try something crazy.” Then I had this idea, maybe just write 40 different ideas, and about one week later she had them. Also, on the Zoom call we had, she had such a great vibe and I simply was so impressed by her dedication to creative work. So I invited her to Dubai for two weeks and we simply kept writing songs and we had an amazing fun time and yeah so that’s how that song happened.
Wow, that’s incredible. What an amazing story! Someone just reaches out to you and it has led to a beautiful collaboration.
Yeah, it showed me once more that when you have the dedication it comes easy. For her it didn’t feel like she forced it or anything she just wanted it, was having fun, and then it happened.
Really cool! In previous interviews, you’ve been fairly vocal about the limitations that can be created through record and label deals. What would you say to an independent artist that is considering a label or record deal?
That really depends on the deal. When you are really new, especially smaller labels, they can definitely make sense like Monstercat, NCS, and so on. When you already have success, most likely major labels will reach out to you and try to buy into your business for as little money as possible. Basically, I would recommend don’t do it or if you do it, really do the math. Calculate how much you’d make when you would not sign a deal and collect the numbers, do the math, and see what the difference would be. Because when you really do the math, you see how bad those deals are that they offer you.
I could totally understand that and it’s really good advice. Speaking of the business side of the scene, we’ve seen an explosion of live streaming over the past year, however, that came with a huge amount of copyright issues. Can you share with us some of the problems you’ve run into with copyright claims?
I had one big issue where I had a false claim on my own song. Back then it had almost 50 million views and someone else stepped in and said, “this is my song.” I disputed the claim but the guy who files the claim actually gets to decide if the claim is valid or not and this guy said, “no, it’s my song.” Then I reached out to YouTube and they said, “it’s not our business you have to figure it out with that guy/company.” But also I could not find that company. There was no address, no socials, nothing. OK, well I wanna figure it out and so I asked them for the contact and they said they’re not allowed to do that. So I told them I’d like to figure it out, but how, and they responded with, “Not our problem.” So I made a video about it and then the press got hold of it and the media started reaching out to YouTube. I got it back finally because simply the pressure on YouTube got so big.
How long did that take to get it resolved?
Maybe a week or so. That’s the thing, I started a petition back then and YouTube really reacted to that. Because I have enough leverage to make a big fuss about it and YouTube has no option but to react to it. There are channels with only 100K subscribers and they don’t have that leverage so that’s also why it felt good to step in there.
What kind of advice would you give to an artist who is just learning to remix tracks, in terms of tackling copyright notices through online platforms?
At this point today, I would only make remixes where you are officially allowed to make them. Because when I started making bootleg remixes on SoundCloud was a big thing but I don’t think that’s going to work anymore. Look for stuff that is open and you can officially remix or start with originals right away.
Your Discord server has grown to more than 20,000 members. What has it been like running this community, and can you share some of the highlights so far?
For me, the big benefit is that I’m learning so much. It’s always been like that. Even the fact that I have a Discord server is just because fans reached out to me and said, “you should have a Discord server.” Then one day a guy on Steam reached out and said, “I love your music so much, I’ve been a fan for many years, there’s nothing I could give you but I could, if you ever make a Discord server, I could really help you run that. I said, “You know what, let’s do it right now.” So I signed up on Discord, I made a server, I gave him basically all the permissions and told him, “here’s the server, go!” And that’s how the server got started.
So it was even like me on purpose, it is very run by the fans. Those things keep happening. We have these Friday parties, it’s like a Q&A where people can ask me stuff but they often ask, “have you heard this artist” or “do you know about this new mobile game or this new thing that’s happening.” So I have 20,000 people doing research for me on what’s happening in the world and always bringing me interesting stuff. So that’s a huge win for me and sometimes I invite other producers as well and learn so much from them because we’ll talk about what our favorite plugin is or what their technique is, or how they make unique sounds. For me, it’s all learning and staying up to date.
That’s really cool. I love seeing artists take such an active role in their community. Not only for the things you do for them but the way they reach out to you and give back to you.
I don’t even feel like it’s that I’m doing this for my fans, it really feels like the fans are doing it for me. I just say, “OK, thank you!”
You’ve also played at ESport events, ESL, DreamHack, and have had your music synced to games like Dota 2 and Rocket League. What are your thoughts on the connection between video games and dance music as a whole?
I think it’s a very important connection. Especially in the Asian market. People are spending their free time on MOBA games. So they are not listening to music or reading the news that much, they are on MOBA games all the time. The connection between those two is so important and inevitable so I think it’s super important to be there as an artist in the future.
Finally, is there a video game release that you’ve been looking forward to, or what has been your best new find in terms of video games?
I’m really looking forward to two games. Mostly at the new Breath of the Wild, where they recently showed some new footage. I think it will come out in 2022. Then my favorite recently that I started playing before I finished the album but I haven’t played in over a month now, but now I’m gonna start again is Cyberpunk. I think the whole thing with the bugs and everything applied on many of the consoles, but on PC it’s amazing. It’s an amazing game and an absolute piece of art. I’m looking forward to getting back to it now that the album is finished.
That’s awesome! I haven’t played it on PC but after hearing your words about it I definitely want to try it out.
If you’re into that sort of game, immersive, role play then you should really give it a shot. It’s really, really amazing.