Surprising Lessons About Achieving Success From The DJs Behind the Trap Hit ‘Poseidon’
If you follow the EDM and Trap scene there is a very good chance you have been on the Trap Nation YouTube Channel. If you have checked it out recently there is also a good chance you have seen Neptunica’s (@neptunicamusic ) new release ‘Poseidon’ blowing up, many calling them some of the best new trap DJs. Neptunica are relatively new to the scene, which gives the track a certain freshness that begs you to leave it on repeat. The two Germans behind Neptunica, Max and Nick, were recently signed to Kontor Records and are going to be touring, thanks in large part to the recent success of this latest drop.
As a relatively new group, I wondered what it took for them to get to this point. I know that the song was made nearly entirely on a computer, anyone who wanted to try and make a trap song theoretically could. So, what did these guys know, which allowed them to make a hit. We reached out to Neptunica, and tried to crack the code and answer the question, why them?
Talking to Max and Nick, something became clear. Simply having talent and resources is not enough to bring immediate success. These guys have known each other for 4 years, and have been making music together as Neptunia since April 2015. They did not simply fire up a computer and upload their first song to have it instantly become a hit. They released an EP 10 months ago, which saw one track “Like This” get 40k views on YouTube. A year's worth of work and practice went into Poseidon. They told me “Things always go slow when you start a new project, no matter how good the music is.” That’s the first lesson, expect it to take some time, and don’t get discouraged when things don’t happen as quickly as you’d like.
Who is your inspiration?
We get a lot of inspiration from each other. We both start new projects and send them to each other via sendspace, then we ask what the other person thinks of it, get inspired and continue sometimes or start it all over.
But we also have idols like Diplo, Avicii, Martin Garrix, Calvin Harris, Kygo, Flume and many more. We listen to a lot of stuff and often we say "Let's do something like this, mix it with this and get some of our own elements in it". I guess this is how everybody works – at least we haven't seen anybody doing it a different way.
Another big advantage they have, they work as a team. You could see this in their responses when asked about their inspiration. It’s interesting, when we think of a traditional band, we look at the members and classify them by the instrument they play. Traditionally you’ll have a vocalist, guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer. We see them by their role in playing the music, and I think, often forget the role they play in producing it. Computers may allow a single person to play every instrument, but their is no automating the creative process which thrives when there are multiple participants. Keep this in mind and then see how they respond to a question about the effort that went into making Poseidon.
Poseidon is hugely popular, tell me about the dedication and passion that went into making it ?
Max started the project and Nick instantly liked the chords of the break-part. The vocal chops were over it from start. Then Nick added the Indian percussion on it and this was it so far.
The project was lying around for a long time and we searched for vocalists who wanted to sing on it or suitable collaboration partners who do Trap-music to finish it, because it was the first Trap-ish song we ever did and we were not quite convinced, we could do a really good Trap-Drop.
Still someday we just went for it and the Drop was pretty awesome. The project-file went back and forth many times between us till we were satisfied with the result. We did not think that this song would get so much attention, because it is not really suitable with the mainstream. It has no real vocals where anyone can sing along and Trap music is not very popular in Germany at the moment.
When we have sent it to the labels, against all our expectations we got four times a "yes" and now we had to choose which label we will take. But we also recieved answers which suited our expectations. Our guy at Sony for example said something like "add vocals to it – that would give the song more chances".
We chose not to add vocals yet, let Kontor Records sign it and let it be uploaded on Trap Nation.
When I wrote this question, I expected to hear from them that they had a direction from the beginning, and with hard work and determination they got there. This response showed me that it was less about realizing a pre empted vision, and more just an organic development. This runs counter to so much of what we are taught about success.
We live in such a goal-oriented culture. How many times have you been told that you should set a goal, envision it clearly, and set a plan to achieve it? Yet here are Max and Nick, absolutely killing it, and straight up admitting that in the beginning they had no idea how exactly Poseidon would sound in the end. I’m not saying they didn’t show incredible dedication, but there is a valuable lesson here. The case for flexibility. The guys didn’t have a clear picture of what the finish line would look like on this project, and they didn’t have a specific plan to get there. This allowed them the creative freedom to, through trial and error, figure out what worked best. Only stopping when they both agreed that what they had was worth sharing with the world. This is reminiscent of a quote by Eric Ravenscraft @lordravenscraft ;
“Success is a slope, not a point. If you're closer to paying off your student loans now than you were five years ago, don't stress if it wasn't done on the date you want.”
Does it even feel like work?
Yes it does. Sometimes inspiration just kisses you and everything just goes like this, but sometimes at some point, you just sit there and you feel like nothing happens in your mind – or everything that happens is "not good enough".
Sometimes we send stuff to each other which we did and which we like and then receive really really bad feedback. We both need to like it in the end and sometimes projects result in the bin because we can not agree on something. But this is also where quality comes from. When we both think that our new track is dope, it most likely is in fact dope. But this process can be disturbing...
Which brings us to another lesson, sometimes doing what you love will still feel like work. It can be difficult sometimes to start dedicating massive amounts of effort with no guarantee of a payout. This is where it is key to remember, if you keep putting energy towards your dream, everyday you WILL get a little closer. Even if you can’t see the path, it will become clear to you as you go. You could say Max and Nick have leveled up at this point, they now have new challenges and new hurdles to overcome, the journey is far from over and I think we will be hearing a lot more from them.
A piece of inspiration for those scared to pursue their dream?
It's really risky to make a living just from making music. We both have not made it yet and we don't know if this really will pay off, but we hope we're on a good way. Nick has already taken this risk and Max will do, once he finishes school because we see the opportunity at the moment that this could really blow off huge. Maybe in two years we can give better advice in this and hopefully we can tell you guys "Just do it when you see the possibility.".
Huge shoutout to Max and Nick for sharing so much valuable insight.
You can keep up with their journey on social media;