With an artistic drive to create music encoded into his DNA, the half-Brazilian, half-Portuguese Fernando Seca exploded onto the psy trance scene in 2008 as Waio with over 200,000 plays on MySpace and reaching No. 5 in the Beatport charts. Following a succession of massive tracks over the past 10 years, Waio has since firmly established himself as one of the world’s leading psychedelic trance acts.
In between all of the jet-setting, tearing up dance floors at the biggest festivals on the planet, and just ahead of becoming a father for the second time, we caught up with Fernando ahead of his forthcoming performance at one of London’s most iconic venues, Troxy, with Infected Mushroom on Friday 28th of April.
Hi Fernando, thanks for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to catch up with us.
It’s my pleasure to share some time with you guys.
Tell us about your musical background. When did you first start producing? How did you get into it?
I played the violin from when I was six years old until I was 12, when unfortunately my teacher died and I decided have a break.
It was at the time when Napster and Soulseek and all of the internet era had started, so I found myself downloading trance and psy trance music.
I was curious and wanted to know how they made those electronic sounds and found the amazing synthesizers and their electronic sound. It doesn’t take long to search on the internet how it is made and find software and some basic information about music production.
At 17 I released my first music and was invited to play at The Gathering Festival in Japan, one of the biggest trance festivals in Asia.
With all of your globe-trotting and jet-setting your passport must be getting very full! You have taken to the stage at some of the biggest festivals across the planet: Boom Festival (Portugal), Ozora Festival (Hungary), Universo Paralello (Brazil) and many more. What has been your most memorable/best gig to date, and why?
There are always plenty of parties with their particular memories, but Boom Festival in 2016 was something very special over all of the time that I’ve been making psy trance.
What exciting gigs/festivals do you have coming up in the near future?
I will be playing in Tomorrowland at the B2B Stage as well as EDC Las Vegas, and I am very happy to bring psy trance to such huge events in the US and in Belgium.
On all of your tours you must have seen some interesting things and have some stories to tell. What has been the most interesting place that you have visited? And what is the funniest thing that has happened to you (or another artist) whilst on tour?
On one tour I was in Mexico with a couple of other DJs and the promoter left us at the hotel and had not booked us a flight back. So they bought our flights back using fake credit cards! It was not that funny at the time, but it is a very crazy rock 'n' roll kind of story.
Let’s talk tunes and production. How many tracks have you produced/released? How long did it take you to produce your album? How do you know when a track/album is ready to release? How much tweaking and live testing do you do?
I have made about 150—180 tracks since I started in 2005, some are released and some are just available at my Bandcamp.
The album took me about five years from when I decided to make an album with a different concept. The tracks had many versions of each and I never could decide when to release it, so over the last two years I completely changed the tracks and I’m very happy about how it turned out.
For new music it depends: it’s hard to say how many hours you need to write one track, but it all depends on the producer saying when it’s ready. You can always tweak a little here and there!
Being classically trained in music, do you notice you have a different method to other producers who are more self-taught? In what ways does understanding music theory empower your style and creativity?
It depends on how deep the producer wants to go in terms of the melody. Psy trance can just use one monotone and you can write one good musical monotone using detuned sounds, but it definitely helps to improve it by using more harmonies and melodies.
When you go into the studio, what are your main influences? Where do you get your motivation and inspiration from for starting a track?
It also depends the mood, or what I have heard, or some idea that just came out in my head – or a melody that’s come while playing some instrument. My latest tracks started with the main theme and the intro or the break and then the build-up.
Over the years you’ve remixed and collaborated with Simon Patterson, Killerwatts, Symbolic, Bryan Kearny, Sinerider and more. Who has been your favourite producer to work with, and do you have any exciting collaborations/remixes in the pipeline?
Each of them has their own unique way of work which is very interesting. I guess with Symbolic we got a nice dynamic way of working and it’s always a magic box when he sends me back what he’s done.
I’m finishing some remixes for Jordan Suckley and also have a track with Killerwatts, a new version of Wake up we made for 2017, to be release on their new album. Shiva with Avalon is apparently a promising release, and we’re very happy with that.
With so many releases, live sets and features on compilations under your belt, are there any plans for another album? What future projects do you have coming up?
I am slowly shaping my new album. I’ve already got a few tracks and I don’t pretend to change them like the last one. It may take a little time, as I’m working on a surround sound at the moment and it’s taking a lot of my production time.
For all of us studio geeks, talk us through your studio set up, and what set up do you like to use when playing live?
I use Dynaudio BM6 Speakers with Focal Sub6 and Adam a3x
Nord Lead 2x
Virus Ti Snow
Presonus Central Station
NASA Hackintosh (almost like a rocket)
Quick fire questions (that we’ve all be dying to ask...)
Mac or PC? Both
Cubase or Logic? Both have good features to be explored
DJ or Live? Depends the occasion
Favourite soft synth? Wiggle
Favourite hardware synth? Nord Lead
Favourite piece of kit? SSL Clone
What’s best for kicks: samples, synthesis or drum machine? Good hearing and acoustics
What studio monitors do you use? Dynaudio BM6A and Adam A3X / Focal Sub6
Sample packs or synthesis? Synthesis
Do you do your own mastering or use someone else? I do but prefer to send to mastering engineering
What’s your favourite plugin or FX unit? Tone2 Warmverb
And most importantly … what’s your favourite drink? Pure Vodka + water for no headaches
When was the last time you played in London (or the UK), or is this your first visit?
I have played many years ago in London, it was my first time and when I have spent a week with Leon (Avalon) doing some music, where we made Wake up and many other releases.
We are all very excited to see you perform. What can we expect from your set?
A lot of new music! I’m very happy I can blend my favourite genre of trance with the heavy beats of psy trance.
Finally, as one of the psy trance scene’s biggest acts, with a seriously impressive collection of releases and tour dates, do you have any advice for the aspiring DJs and producers out there?
You’ve gotta be original, persist on what you believe in and focus on delivering good music. When your music is ready, it will be when the music will speak for itself and people will come to you. Of course, don’t forget to have fun during the process, because if you have fun doing it, chances are someone will identify with it and that’s much more than just copying a trend.
Thank you Fernando for catching up with us... we look forward to your set at Troxy in London on Friday 28th April.