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Australian Artist Tentendo Finds Purpose In The Beat

Written by on May 8, 2023

Melbourne-based music producer Tentendo isn’t caught up in trying to start the next music trend. Instead, he is more focused on finding his signature sound as a producer. In an interview with Vocalo, he explained the challenges of being a music producer, being influenced by other producers and making music uniquely his own.

Tentendo by Aldwin Cajili. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Tentendo’s love for producing started when he was in college learning the basics of Logic Pro, drawing inspiration from albums like You’re Dead by Flying Lotus and Early Riser by Taylor McFerrin. He recalls how producing music took over his studies, becoming his main focus he started working on crafting beats more than doing his homework. Now working as a music producer and collaborating with a wide range of artists, he is grateful for the supportive and relaxed nature of the Melbourne community. 

“I really love the creative energy from Melbourne,” Tentendo said. “There’s not a lot of pressure to succeed or make a hit, there’s a real focus on just making cool [stuff].”

Receiving his name from an inside joke about a mispronunciation of “Nintendo,” Tentendo brings an upbeat and soulful groove to his music. He described his sound as “soul-infused dance music,” and his song “Money,” featured in Vocalo’s April “In Rotation” playlist, is a prime example of his songs’ high energy. 

“‘Money’ was super easy to make, it felt like,” Tentendo explained. “A lot of songs aren’t, but this one just came together so seamlessly.”

Tentendo is dedicated to finding his distinct sound as a producer by blending influences from other artists to create beats. Although he feels more comfortable in the studio, he loves getting feedback from a live audience. In his virtual interview with Vocalo, he discusses producers he is inspired by, collaborating with Honey on his song “Money” and new music currently in development. 

Where are you from originally? 

I was born in Adelaide, Australia. But I moved to Melbourne, Australia when I was a few months old. 

How do you feel your hometown influences your identity as a musician, if at all?

I really love the creative energy from Melbourne. There’s not a lot of pressure to succeed or make a hit, there’s a real focus on just making cool shit. There are so many artists making amazing music in different pockets all around the city. It’s great to be a part of and be able to feel like you can take creative risks and be supported in it.

How did you get started with producing music? Who do you feel were some of your formative influences?

I started producing at university in a songwriting class. We were taught some of the very basics of Logic Pro and I was hooked. It overtook all of my university studies, pretty much. At that time there were a couple of albums that had a really big influence on me as a producer: You’re Dead by Flying Lotus and Early Riser by Taylor Mcferrin. Those projects really expanded my mind in terms of what could be possible for a producer/artist.

Can you explain your artist name? What’s the story behind it?

It came up in a joke of a conversation with one of my friends one night. I’d been searching for an artist name for ages, and nothing I came up with was right at all. My friend said, “Oh I love to play on my Nine-tendo,” and I said, “Yeah I prefer my Tentendo, you idiot,” and I just knew as soon as the word came out of my mouth.

In an article from ToneDeaf, your music was described as “hip-house.” How would you describe your sound to a new listener?

Probably “soul-infused dance music,” for the most part. There’s a heap of influences, and it definitely changes from day-to-day what I’m interested in making, but for the moment that’s fairly accurate for what I’ve been making.

Tell us a little bit about the Melbourne music scene and your experience so far!

I’ve got a heap of love for the Melbourne music scene. I’ve played so many gigs in different bands over the years and have a heap of fond memories doing so. Some of my favorite nights out are just rocking up to a gig and running into a bunch of friends you didn’t even know were coming. I don’t think we really realize how spoilt we are here in terms of the music culture that’s in this city

What inspires you most as a music producer, lyrics or beats?

For me, it’s always beats — not super surprising as a producer! I always gravitate towards the sound and mood of a song first before delving into the lyrical side of music. The beats always come first when I’m making music. 

Tentendo by Aldwin Cajili. Photo courtesy of the artist.

What do you think makes a good producer? What do you think is the biggest challenge of being a music producer? 

There’s a lot of things. I think a big one is being able to serve the song and detach your ego from it. Just allowing room for the magic to happen. 

I think it’s really difficult for music producers to find their own sound. It’s really difficult to ride the line of being able to hear influences in the music but not sounding too much like something that’s already been done.

“Money,” added to Vocalo’s on-air rotation for April, is a very upbeat song. What was that track’s creation process like?

Thank you! “Money” was super easy to make, it felt like. A lot of songs aren’t, but this one just came together so seamlessly. I made the beat and had the main vocal sample chopped in an afternoon, and then probably sat on it for a few months not thinking too much of it. I sent the beat in a big folder of ideas to Honey, she sent back the vocals maybe a week after I sent it. I spent a couple of days arranging it, and that was pretty much it.

How did you get in touch with Honey to collaborate on the single?

I found her song “like i love u” one day and just hit her up on Instagram to work. She has such a cool voice and I love her style of writing. I love how she writes parts that already sound like vocal samples before they’ve been chopped up.

You just performed at Melbourne’s Laneway Festival 2023. Congratulations! What was that experience like?

That was an amazing day. It was really special to get that opportunity, we played a really great set and it was received super well by the crowd. The backstage catering was unreal, too! I had a gorgeous bahn mi for lunch.

Do you prefer being in the studio or on the stage?

I think I’m more comfortable being in the studio, but I love being on stage playing with my band, too. It’s super rewarding to see a whole crowd of people experience the set all at once, and seeing how it’s affecting people. Like, it’s always nice to get feedback in messages or comments, etc., but it’s super beautiful to see the reaction to the music in real time at a show. It feels a bit more meaningful in some ways.

We’re sure you get asked about artists you want to collaborate with, but are there any producers you would love to work with? Explain why those producers.

I’d love to work with Rick Rubin for sure, it’d be very interesting to have someone like that around to guide my mind to be at its best. Of course, Pharrell would be incredible, it’d be crazy to see him at work. Also Skrillex, he’s an absolute wizard and makes such diverse music, it would be incredible to see him in action.

What is next for you creatively? Festivals, new music, touring?

I’m currently just writing a heap of music, doing some shows and figuring out how the next era of Tentendo will feel and sound like. Just always trying to push myself and make the coolest shit I can.

Tentendo by Aldwin Cajili. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Keep up with Tentendo on Instagram and Twitter, and listen to his music on Spotify below.

Interview and written introduction by Joshua X. Miller

Answers edited for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca

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