The duo behind Dance Loud prove that sometimes our differences are the very things which bring us closer together. Kristen Sanchez and Desereé Fawn Zimmerman have found that not only is this true when it comes to their work as musicians, but in their personal relationship as well. As a DJ, producer and engineer, Kristin’s influence of Chicago house and high-energy dance tracks is showcased in her live electronic productions while Desereé’s classically trained rock, metal, and jazz background can be heard in her powerful percussion, guitar, and vocal performances. With their musical tastes coming from seemingly opposite spectrums, together as Dance Loud they meet in the middle, creating an attention grabbing mixture of deep and emotional yet hard hitting music that blends analog and digital worlds.
After almost a decade of touring together as entertainers the Dance Loud duo began focusing on expanding their own creative sound, producing high-tempo emotional music that carries the messages of duality, time and energy which have influenced their lives. After a horrific car accident put Kristin in the hospital for a month, also destroying their gear and unreleased music, the couple’s future was determined as their dream to produce a full album completely from scratch was fueled by a GoFundMe campaign arranged by their friends. Coming up with a plan to produce “HiFi on a LoFi budget,” Kristen and Desereé built their own studio and put 100% of their attention into every stage of the project. From home brewing their beer and field recording samples, to handling their own marketing and promotion, their 2020 album release The Moment is the result of intensely hard work, unlimited passion for music, and a balance between two contrasting forces who find their bliss together in the present moment.
Still, they are just getting started. With a new focus on producing a totally immersive multimedia project which includes stop motion visuals, sounds in space, and possibly even virtual reality, there is much more to discover about Dance Loud.
Photo by Belen Romero.
I love that you each have such a different background in music yet the synergy works to create something unique. What would you say are the aspects or qualities from your early musical influences that make the most impact on the music you create today?
With Desereé having a rock and metal background and Kristin having a pop and house background, high tempo seemed to be the common ground between us. Desereé’s love for tonal acts like Pink Floyd and Radiohead created the melodic emotions. While Kristin’s melodic influences from Kaskade and many artists from Om Records drove us to create a unique complexity of deep and emotional high tempo dance music.
What were some of your first musical collaborations together like? Did you have an idea of how you wanted your work as Dance Loud to go?
Our first musical collaboration as a DJ and drummer had a jazzy uptempo house vibe. After years of touring as “entertainers,” we decided we wanted to concentrate on our “artistry” and find the sound within us. Clues from our true sound began from creating 10 unreleased songs, with no budget, in which some songs ended up being used for Desereé’s stop motion animations. After almost a decade of performing together, we had unsatisfied LoFi recordings unreleased for that reason. With the help of an unexpected GoFundMe from a bad wreck in our tour bus, we finally had support and invested in higher quality gear and top level audio plug-ins. Learning the true value of audio production and engineering tools, we came up with HiFi on a LoFi budget album. A major label studio would typically still utilize thousands of dollars more to create a HiFi sound. As we plan and progress, our immersive sound will hopefully be best represented using stop motion, visuals, continued depth in sound space, and maybe even roll that all into a virtual reality album.
We meet in the middle with house music.
Your music obviously holds a lot of emotions and deeper meanings — what are some of your personal life philosophies which you aim to transmit through your music? What do you think is the most important message for you to tell or for listeners to understand?
We put lots of underlying themes within this album project. We want to show folks that this world or universe we co-habitat in is all as one. Duality is the main theme. Time and space is another theme. We truly believe that lyrics should only be added if it’s something that needs to be said. We are not very political people but want to influence the people of this earth to have more compassion and love for one another no matter how your opinions may differ. One person may be a villain in someone’s story while being a hero in another person’s perception. We wanted to show depth within the duality by creating immersive sound to explain the gray areas of life, sonically. We are strong believers in perception. Along with time, Tesla said if you want to understand the universe you have to think about it in frequency, vibration and energy. We feel life can become an endless loop if you don’t grasp this concept with all of its highs and lows, and even death and regeneration. This is why we created this album as a concept album to be heard as an endless loop. The last and first song are two halves of the same long song titled “Time” and “Travel” to create this loop. We want to leave a positive message because what you put out into the earth could come back to you, times three.
I love the idea of duality playing such a large part in the philosophy of Dance Loud — I feel that duality reminds us that there is always a middle path as well. Where is the place where you both meet in the middle when it comes to your music and in your life?
We meet in the middle with house music. That was one of our first and easiest discoveries. Our brains are wired similarly to focus on percussion first and melody second. We find a happy medium within our dualities. For example Desereé loves cleaning up and organizing the mix. Kristin cuts and arranges the sequencing. She is very good with subtractive EQ while Kristin is strong in additive EQ. We both do drum programming and recording. In the end, our strengths and weaknesses are so polar opposite that it creates a perfect balance. In life, it’s the same. Desereé enjoys cooking, Kristin enjoys cleaning. Kristin likes to drive while Desereé likes to bike. Truly music keeps our fire flamin’ as a long-term couple. We both are obsessed with tonal melodic high tempo deep stuff. Music has always been a focused part of our daily lives together.
What are you most proud of with your work on The Moment? What does this album mean to you?
We treated our album like a fine dining restaurant and created everything from scratch. We are proud that we feel we accomplished HiFi on a LoFi budget and do not need to depend on Splice or other producers to create. Every part of this project came from us. We even homebrewed our beer and gardening to keep our brains enlightened during the creative process. We built our own studio, with our own hands to create this album. We studied and utilized, from our own research, to accomplish every single step of release from vinyl production to marketing, independently. This is really common in the DJ world where they are the label producer, everything all as one. Now we are proud to say we met that goal too. This album really showed us that where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Was there anything that changed along the way during the album creation process or do you feel that your original expectations were fulfilled?
We are grateful that we chose to create an album vs an EP because when we were finely done mixing the final song, we had acquired 2 years worth of knowledge and production equipment. We went back and remixed, reEQed and replaced instruments that did not meet our expectations and completed a final mix on the entire project prior to sending off to the mastering engineer. We just kept trying to perfect the mix until we went from a million things to be corrected, down to 1 or 2 things.
In a way, art is never complete. You just get to the point where you personally enjoy it and don’t want to do much more to it because you will change the emotion of it.
We built our own studio, with our own hands to create this album. We studied and utilized, from our own research, to accomplish every single step of release from vinyl production to marketing, independently.
What has been the most rewarding part of working in the music industry? What do you find most challenging?
The most rewarding is creating something you are proud of intellectually. The daily mix of work changes and you have to do web design one day, continue education on another and work on social media marketing every day. It’s a full time and diverse job that doesn’t have much financial reward but is emotionally rewarding. Even the not-so-much fun work, like emails, doesn’t feel like work. The challenge is not having a team. With more like minds a goal can expand. Kristin wants more label services to be available so it does not take away time that could be spent on creatively, while Desereé likes the change of going from marketing to creative. If everyday people understood the amount of work that goes into a project, it would be very unromantic. It feels good to know everything we have is something we worked very hard for!!!
What do you think have been some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned so far about being a musician?
In order to create, you need clear brain space. You can’t have things in your life that will take away thought from your creative flow. We make it a point not to consume TV shows and to only watch music related documentaries and movies to stay focused and inspired. As many musicians experience, there’s a need to find passive income outside of music. These side paychecks need to take the least amount of brain space. That’s why we are investing in real estate as opposed to a salary position. We spent 10 years as entertainers and not focusing on our artistry and blame that on all of our many side jobs. Which we are still thankful for because we were able to save up for a down payment to buy and create a studio. It just gave us a later start on finding our sound.
⚪️ Disclosure Statement: This record was not submitted as a promo.
What is your usual creative approach like? Do you set aside a time to get together in the studio during the week or is it more of a spontaneous situation?
We’ll set aside a year or so of high stress, high paying jobs to save for a goal whether it be building a tour bus or saving for live or studio gear. Once we have the sum of money we need for the goal, we’ll quit all our jobs for the empty brain space to complete the goal. We typically pound it out from start to finish 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, to the point our sleep schedules get very strange. We even experimented with the Uberman sleep cycle to get more out of our day. It’s very interesting, I recommend looking it up. Time becomes a very weird thing because you are experiencing 2 short days twice in one day.
I read that you really enjoy field recording and experimenting with recording techniques. Can you share some of your favorite recording moments featured in The Moment?
This is one of the many ways we accomplished creating a HiFi sound on a low budget by going field recording with a very wide stereo pair in a Tascam portable 24 bit recorder. It’s a cheaper way to find and create your own samples instead of buying sample packs. We also love that it’s like a game of going metal detecting, searching for a specific sound. Once you find it, your brain’s reward system and serotonin rush comes in. Kristin’s favorite field recordings are in “Time.” Both the knocking sounds are from our home fire pit and the real cicadas resembled a synth like sound perfect in the mix. We hunted for this cicada sound and went all the way to Starved Rock for the recording. The best cicada sounds didn’t come from the pile of them in the forest. It came from the parking lot further from the forest with one single cicada. Just being one made it sound clear and emphasized its pulse breathing synthy sound.
Kristina’s treasured old school Jeep Wrangler’s turn signal made a perfect rim shot vibe in our song “One Verse.” Mercury, our dog, has some barking in our song “Hollow” to add the fierce feel. It’s very buried but there.
Desereé’s most fond memories of field recording was going on a journey to St Louis & Nashville in order to find sounds while walking their streets. We went through parking garages, construction sites, etc. It’s the best, most productive cheap date besides the gas!
What are your goals for Dance Loud next year? What do you think matters most for your music to accomplish?
Right now we are in the earning and research mode to invest into equipment needed to create a surround sound, immersive project. We are going all out and are trying to find endorsement collaborations to create a multimedia album. Our other goal is to get more into mastering after hiring out and being inspired by their gear. It’ll be more in the long run because it’s quite hard to compete with London’s gear collection where our album was mastered.