Owen Norton

Owen Norton Presspic 1X1

Course Studied: BTEC in Music Technology

Year of Graduation: 2018

At only 19 years of age, Owen Norton has already experienced success that others can only dream of. Gaining notoriety for his official remixes of The Chainsmokers ‘Sick Boy’ and Selena Gomez and Marshmello’s hit collaboration ‘Wolves’ – rising star Owen is undisputedly an emerging talent.

Signed to Devoted Management and with over 250,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, Owen has recently returned from a headline tour in China. With a musical maturity well beyond his age, he has accumulated significant experience as both DJ and producer and received support from the likes of Martin Garrix and Tiësto. 

Here, Owen discusses his approach to creating a remix and details how that has provided a platform for releasing his own original material.

How did you first get into music?

I’ve always been in a household surrounded by music - my dad has a huge record collection and as a young child I used to love playing with his turntables. 

What’s your approach to creating a remix? How does this differ to creating your own material?

First of all, I only remix songs that I like. Once I receive all the stems, I usually strip it back to just the vocals and chord progression. From there, I can usually get an idea of what I want to do, and can make the whole thing in a couple of days. The good thing about a remix is, the base is already there - it's all about putting your own spin on it.

When I’m working on something original, I’m starting from scratch, but I still begin with a chord progression and build it up from there. 

How did you begin working with the likes of The Chainsmokers, Selena Gomez and Marshmello to create an official remix of their tracks? 

Every project is different. With The Chainsmokers, I started sending tracks to them 4 or 5 years ago when they first started to blow up. Over the years they have given me a load of advice and feedback on projects I was working on - eventually they asked me to remix one of their tracks.

Most remixes start with the label or artist contacting me, except for the Selena Gomez mix. With that one, when I first heard the song I knew I wanted to remix it, so I made a rough idea of how my remix would sound, and sent it to every contact I had a link with at Selena's label. Luckily, they liked it and sent me the official parts to finish it!

What’s important for you when selecting tracks to rework?

It’s important to me that I like the original track, but have a clear vision of where I can take it. If I don’t like the song to start with, it’s almost impossible for me to create my own version as I get bored of it way before it’s finished.

Does being a DJ naturally lend itself to remixing and being able to provide a fresh perspective on an existing track?

Definitely! With most of the tracks I play out live, I make little edits. Sometimes I put a well-known acapella on an instrumental track, or change the structure slightly so it fits my set better.

With a remix, my priority is to make something that I know I can play live and will work in both mine and other DJ sets in a club or at a festival. 

How did studying at Leeds College of Music define your approach to songwriting, electronic music production and DJing?

What I loved about LCoM was that I was surrounded by musicians from different backgrounds. A couple of years ago, I worked pretty much 100% electronically, and never really used real instruments in my productions.

Since going to LCoM, I’ve found myself working a lot more organically. A lot of the more radio friendly singles I have coming up started on a guitar with just a basic chord progression and vocal melodies. 

You’ve recently returned from a headline tour in China. How did that opportunity arise?

Yes! The guys at LOL International, an Asian Event Organiser, reached out to my management about a year ago - and wanted to bring me out to China. It took a while to work out all the details, but it eventually fell into place and they were some of the best shows I have played to date. I can't wait to go back there. 

How do the projects you work on and performances you give provide a platform for your own original material?

At the moment I have close to 100 original songs that are unreleased. Until now, I’ve done a lot of remixes as it’s helped me to establish my sound and build a core fanbase. From now on, I want to focus on original releases. The great thing about playing shows is I get to test out a lot of the stuff I’m working on, and see what works and what doesn’t. 

You’ve recently signed for Devoted Management – what will this allow you to achieve in your career that you perhaps haven’t been able to do so far?

I signed with Devoted early last year, and they’ve helped so much with guidance both musically and personally that has allowed me to progress. With Devoted, I’ve signed with Cloud 9 Publishing, who are working on my upcoming releases, and connecting me with other songwriters and producers for collaboration.

Also, I played the mainstage at Don’t Let Daddy Know, at Victoria Warehouse Manchester, and not to forget my debut in Asia with the 7-show tour. There’s a lot we’re planning that I can’t talk about yet, but to summarise I’m really happy with the partnership I have - I’m looking forward to spending many more years working in collaboration with them.

What’s next for you in terms of projects or releases?

I'm constantly working on new music. I’ve got a lot of tracks that are pretty much finished - we’re just working out the best release strategies for them.

On top of that, we’re working on confirming another bunch of shows, so I'm looking forward to see what the next few years have in store!

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