A look at hyperpop production with Angelus, Blackwinterwells, and Alice Gas


Illustration: Robin Lewallen

If you asked five different fans or artists to describe the sound of hyperpop, you’d probably get five wildly different answers.

The burgeoning pop idiom has its roots spread throughout the last decade of internet music – PC Music, mid-2010s SoundCloud trap, dubstep, nightcore, cloud-rap, trance, and more. However, the ill-defined genre of hyperpop didn’t begin to visibly coalesce until the wake of 100 gecs’ unexpectedly popular 2019 debut, 1000 gecs.

But what is hyperpop?

Throughout 2020, the hyperpop community grew into a complex and highly-saturated web of artists who are all making slightly different forms of loud, bass-heavy, auto-tune-addled pop music. The origins of the term “hyperpop” itself are also quite convoluted. That didn’t stop it from becoming the go-to tag for this corner of the music world once Spotify created a playlist called Hyperpop, which exploded last summer and began launching some of its most popular figures into the major label stratosphere.

Some critics have argued, persuasively, that hyperpop’s arbitrary boundaries and convoluted DNA are a direct result of Spotify’s playlist, which currently boasts everyone from 100 gecs, glaive, and CMTEN to artists from outside the community like Rico Nasty, Arca, and NAV. The term “hyperpop” has become contentious, with many of the genre’s most significant artists openly disavowing in favor of other descriptions like “glitchcore” and “digicore,” or opting for no genre tag at all.

A genre, a style, or a scene?

At this point, it makes more sense to call hyperpop a scene rather than a definitive style of music. It could be defined by a group of artists with like-minded interests, politics, and aesthetics who do share a genuine artistic connection, even if they don’t all sound identical.

That said, there is an easily identifiable feature that does connect most of the artists in this scene: the creative use of auto-tune. Musicians like osquinn (aka p4rkr), Dorian Electra, d0llywood1, ericdoa, and Fraxiom are some of the most essential vocalists commonly associated with hyperpop. Although each can be characterized by their own unique delivery and lyrical preferences, their embrace of vibrant, flamboyant, and purposefully over-the-top auto-tune is something they and their many contemporaries all have in common.

However, an aspect of hyperpop that varies wildly between vocally similar artists, that also might be a little more challenging for the average listener to parse, is the production of the music.

A look at hyperpop production

Going back to the roots of this scene, some hyperpop artists are heavily influenced by dance music, while others are mostly familiar with hip hop. For instance, the beat on That Kid’s deliriously catchy “Taco Bell” sounds like it would fit well on a playlist between Cascada and Basshunter, while the instrumental on osquinn’s reflective “four am” is solely comprised of a fat 808 blast and a few crinkly hi-hats.

Despite their wildly different production choices, both of those songs are considered hyperpop, presenting yet another challenge to the confines of the genre – or perhaps challenging the idea of genre in general. All that really means is that there are countless approaches a producer can take when making music that fits under the hyperpop umbrella.

In the studio with hyperpop producers

For newcomers, that wide-open pasture of sounds can be both liberating and intimidating. So, we spoke with three distinctly different — yet equally quintessential — producers in the scene to create a primer for hyperpop production. Angelus, Blackwinterwells, and Alice Gas are all friends and collaborators, but each of them has wildly different musical backgrounds and their own individual styles.

We spoke to the three of them about how they got into producing, their creative processes, and their thoughts on hyperpop. Then, each shared some tips for fledgling producers who want to start dabbling in this exciting scene of sounds.



Who they are

Angelus is a 17-year-old producer and singer who lives 20 minutes outside of Paris, France. Although they’re still quite young, they’ve been an essential figure in the scene since 2019. They’ve produced songs for notable hyperpop figures like osquinn (aka p4rkr), ericdoa, and kurtains, and even branched outside of hyperpop and made beats for well-known rappers like Lil Tecca and Lil Tracy.

How they got started

Angelus started making lo-fi trap instrumentals at the end of 2017 influenced by XXXTENTACION-type beats, later pivoting to the cleaner, brighter form of late-2010s SoundCloud rap. “I started making DJ Plugg-type beats, I guess, with the 808s and shit,” they say. “They were very inspired by Pierre Bourne and Ginseng.”

As they improved, they started meeting other people on SoundCloud and began talking and collaborating on Discord. Participating in that community, which eventually evolved into the modern hyperpop scene, has had a big impact on Angelus’ sound. ”I feel like a lot changed when [osquinn] entered the scene and started introducing most of us to more experimental music, like 100 gecs. And it gave everyone the opportunity to try new stuff and we started getting inspiration from EDM stuff.”

Their sound

Most hyperpop producers have a variety of different styles they dabble in, but Angelus is a bonafide Swiss Army knife of sounds. “I can make some mainstream, Internet Money beats that I could send to Lil Tecca, who I’ve worked with before,” they say. “Or, I could make some really loud 808s and send them to saturn or something. Or, I could also make a pop beat but I don’t really use those a lot.”

Nearly every instrumental Angelus makes is different, but a good amount of it falls under what they call the “NOVA style,” which comes from the NOVAGANG artist collective they’re a part of. Angelus describes that sound as “loud, nightcored, and all over the place but it makes sense in the end,” which is certainly accurate.

Compared to the cloud rap of Blackwinterwells’ Helixtears collective or the neon-colored happy hardcore that Alice Gas makes, NOVAGANG artists more closely resemble hard-hitting trap music, but with a looser, more homemade intimacy.

We also had the opportunity to ask Angelus a few specific questions:

You’ve co-produced a lot of songs and are featured on the track “Among Us Cypher,” which features 16 different vocalists. What’s it like collaborating with so many people in the scene on a song like that?

“I would say it can be hectic sometimes, but it works. I remember when we made the ‘Among Us Cypher,’ Noki and 4am sent the beat in the chat and were like, ‘Okay let’s make a song on this,’ and we just did it. We just got everybody who was around to make the song. We all made the song in one day.”

We do auto-tune and mixing ourselves because we know how to make our own voice sound good. But when it comes to adjusting the volumes of everything, we just send it to the person who’s organizing it.”

How do you think the sound of the scene will evolve going forward?

“I feel people are still going to make hyperpop while others are either going to evolve into making indie music or real pop. Or, they’re going to make breakcore or they’re going to make drill – like Popstarbills or Kuru.”

What tips can you offer people who are just beginning to make hyperpop on their own and want to know more about the production?

“If you want to mix your beats correctly, buy my drumkit [laughs]. It has a lot of VST presets for Electra and Omnisphere and stuff like that. A lot of 808s. It has mixing presets for 808s, melodies, and all that stuff. For auto-tune, I just use Antares’ Auto-Tune. I also have vocal mixing presets on my drumkit, so that’s really good.”



Who they are

Blackwinterwells is a 24-year-old producer and singer from Hamilton, Ontario who’s one of the most prolific artists in the hyperpop lineage. They’re perhaps best known for the production work they’ve done for artists like osquinn, glaive, d0llywood1, and midwxst, but they also have a successful solo discography that includes the essential 2020 track “IRIS.”

How they started

Like many electronic artists in their age group, Wells had their mind blown by Skrillex and other dubstep producers in the early 2010s, and then downloaded FL Studio in an effort to replicate those sounds themselves. After a few years of that, they started making future bass and what they describe as “compositionally focused dance music,” while emphasizing that their music has always been sad.

Around 2018, they decided to pivot to making cloud rap that was inspired by Lil Peep and Bladee, and somehow got pulled into a group of artists who were developing louder, more energetic music that grew into the present-day hyperpop community. Once they produced osquinn’s early hit, “Bad Idea,” they became inextricably linked to the hyperpop world, even though their own music has a much slower, melancholy vibe to it.

What they sound like

“I find it very funny when people look at my shit and they’re like, ‘This isn’t emo rap,’” Wells says. “And I’m like, ‘I swear you’re wrong. There are just synths in it now, that’s the only difference.’”

Blackwinterwells is happy to be associated with the hyperpop community and has many close friends in the scene, but they strongly believe that their music is just misplaced emo rap. Even the Helixtears collective they founded in 2018 was supposed to be a dedicated cloud group, but now it’s been pulled under the extremely broad hyperpop umbrella.

“I also like soft and quiet music; a lot of the hyperpop is super, super loud,” they say. “I like to make ambient music – stuff that’s really ethereal-sounding. And a lot of that is the antithesis of what people say hyperpop is, which is why I think it’s interesting that somehow I’m grouped in with that.”

We also got to dig a bit deeper with Blackwinterwells on a few additional topics:

How would you describe your typical workflow for producing a track?

“I just open Fruity Loops and a synth and start making a synth patch – that’s how I do it. A lot of my stuff is a lot of normal subtractive synthesis – it’s not shiny and expensive-sounding, in my opinion. That’s why I’m surprised by a lot of the placements I get, because to me, I’m not doing anything super crazy. In a landscape where a lot of people use presets that have a whole lot of shit going on, making something that sounds really basic maybe is innovative in and of itself.”

Tell us about the writing process behind “IRIS,” which is your most-streamed song on Spotify.

“I wrote it really quickly, I made the vocal demo, and then every beat I made under it I didn’t like. I got to a point where I made this really simple synth lead with just a few notes, and it’s just a saw wave or something – and I did a saw bass, so pretty basic drums.

And then I bounced it all to tracks and I reversed the arp and put it over itself, and then cut that up. I cut both the arp up and the reversed one, so that’s why it has this weird back-and-forth, ping-pong sound to it. And then when I finished doing that, I rendered the vocal and beat out separately and added stutter edits to the beat and the vocal.

There’s also some funny stuff at the end that a lot of people don’t understand what’s going on. A lot of people commented on YouTube like, ‘What’s the sample at the end?,’ and it’s not a sample. What I did was I took the last vocal chop and I loaded that into an instrument channel, and I started playing it like it was a piano, and then I put another lead over that. So, that weird chromatic piano bullshit at the end is just my voice as a pluck sound.

There are a lot of Skrillex songs where the whole song is normal and then there’s a really weird outro. Because obviously, if you put something weird at the beginning people will be like, ‘What the f**k?’ But if you put it at the end, they can just skip the song. So, I’ve always been about including funny outros, because I think that’s where you get to do the experimenting you want with no consequence.”

What do you think are the most iconic features of hyperpop production?

“I think the most interesting thing about hyperpop is that every artist has very different instrumentals. There’s so much different shit instrumentally that’s going on under the ‘hyperpop’ name, and I think that’s what’s so interesting to me.

I guess the hallmark features are that it’s really loud, there’s usually a distorted bass, a pretty arpeggio, and a funny snare drum. The drums might be the most significant part, because everything else could be anything. Distorted 808s, distorted kicks, and distorted snares. It’s just pop-rap, but loud.”

How do you think this sound will evolve throughout 2021?

“At the start of 2020, everyone was making Bladee-inspired music. My song of the year in January was this emotional song that was this saw arp and this 808, and it was really repetitive and didn’t sound like any of the shit that happened the rest of the year. It was just this huge f***ing ride that I did not expect at all.

It either gets crazier and crazier and doesn’t stop, or it gets much tamer and more narrow and less fun. And I’m hoping for the former.”

What tips can you offer people who are just beginning to make hyperpop on their own and want to know more about the production?

“I think the biggest mistake I hear from new artists is that their shit sounds like everyone else. You gotta do something weird. Find your personality with this shit; if you just show up and you’re doing the same thing that everyone else is doing, that’s not going to catch my interest. That’s not going to catch anyone else’s interest.

Find something different that no one has done. I think it’s better to experiment than to be ‘good’ or the best. It’s better to do something first than to do it better than anyone else. If you find something that no one has done and you do it, then to me your music is better than something that’s expertly crafted.

The other problem I hear with new artists is that their music is so loud and I can’t stand it. Someone will send me their track, and it looks like a brick – there’s no part of it that isn’t ear-splittingly loud. You want it a little loud, obviously, but don’t destroy every speaker I own.

Get a mastering limiter so it isn’t clipping too hard. But, you can set the mastering limiter to act fast – that’s what I do. I have a mastering limiter and I set it to the fastest speed possible so it’s clipping, but it’s clipping in a way that sounds kind of nice. F*** around, turn it down. That’s my advice.”

Alice Gas


Who she is

Alice Gas is a 22-year-old producer and singer from Denton, Texas who has collaborated with many of the aforementioned artists, but is probably best known for her solo career.

How she got started

Alice started messing around on GarageBand at 11 years old, and then began making dubstep on Logic Pro from middle school through early high school. After a break from making music altogether, she started making indie-rock in college before quitting that and returning to producing music – but not dubstep.

“My friend showed me the 100 gecs EP from 2018 and I was like, ‘This is the craziest shit I’ve ever heard,’ she says. “Then he showed me 99jakes and that was another artist where I was like, ‘Holy shit, I can’t believe people are still making happy hardcore like this.’”

She began an online friendship with the Chicago producer Andrew Goes to Hell, and he invited her up to Chicago to start playing warehouse raves with the likes of 99jakes, 100 gecs’ Laura Les, and others. Since then, she’s been producing, singing, and collaborating at a voracious pace.

What she sounds like

Unlike the hip hop bounce of Angelus’ beats and the pastel steaminess of Blackwinterwells’ music, Alice Gas’ production is much more frantic, colorful, and rooted in dance music. Her most popular song, “Ferrari,” is built atop a pounding trance beat, features numerous high-speed drum breaks, and climaxes with a speaker-shattering hardcore part – sounds that are absent in much of the other music in the scene.

”I started out making music to play at raves, mostly,” she says. “That was pretty much the sole purpose I was making music for: to play it live. That’s why most of it is easy to dance to.”

Since the scene really came into its own in 2020 as COVID-19 raged throughout the world, many of her younger contemporaries started producing when live shows weren’t even an option, which has likely had some influence on the sounds they’re gravitating toward.

”I would say half of these kids in the scene started doing this kind of music after quarantine started,” she adds. “Most of them hadn’t even played a real show in their lives, which is wild to think about.”

Lastly, we discussed the following topics with Alice:

Who would you say are your main influences as a producer?

“I just pull from whatever I’m listening to at the time. Most of the time my biggest influence is old Machina happy hardcore mixes on YouTube. There are these 11-minute mixes that are seven songs – that shit’s amazing. It’s all super shitty quality and I just love it. I also love UK hardcore in general and MCs.”

Are there any specific production techniques or plugins that are essential to your sound?

“For the first year I was making this kind of music, I was just using stock FL plugins and Massive. I’ve been using Massive since I was 11 years old. I have way more plugins now. I use Serum and Spire all the time; those are my two most-used plugins right now.

Serum is a synthesizer – I don’t know much about sound design. Serum reminds me of Massive but there’s just more shit you can do with it. You can import your own wavetables; it’s really sick. Spire is supposed to be modeled after the Access Virus, which is this analog synthesizer. It’s really good for trance sounds and happy hardcore sounds.

Obviously drum samples and 808s. I process all of my 808s a lot but they all start out from a Zaytoven 808 that I have in my drumkit. I use samples all the time when I’m making stuff just for ideas, but usually, I don’t drop stuff with samples on them because when I sign with a label I don’t want to have to go clearing samples. My workflow is mainly using synths and stuff, though. Samples mostly for drums and drum breaks.”

What would you consider to be the most iconic features of an Alice Gas instrumental?

“Everyone always tells me I do this thing where I do drum breaks leading up to the part with the big 808s, like as a buildup. For most of my shit, I just use way too much distortion on every channel, and way too much compression. I use Soundgoodizer, which producers hate – I don’t know why they hate it. I just put it over everything because it makes everything sound good. It’s like a multiband compressor; it just makes shit sound louder and more full.

Usually, I start out by making a melody with some basic sounds – just a square wave, nothing too advanced, and I structure it out and add drums. Then, I go back and change the sounds from less basic sounds, add distortion, and do all the processing.

I use this plugin called Thermal a lot that I actually bought on Splice. It’s this crazy distortion and modulation plugin that I’ve been using on so much shit lately – it’s just so crazy.”

What tips can you offer people who are just beginning to make hyperpop on their own and want to know more about the production?

“If you’re starting out, I say this to everyone, but don’t overdo things. I feel like some of my songs sound crazier than they actually are just because they’re so fast. A lot of producers will have hundreds of VSTs and instruments open; my shit’s usually like 20 tracks or something.

I notice a lot of people try to make their basslines too complicated. I think with hyperpop, at the end of the day it’s pop music. You want to keep it simple – have a recognizable chord progression. That’s my main piece of advice: less is more.

For all my shit I just try to use the least amount of sounds as possible. Especially when starting out – once you get better, you can do crazy complex stuff. But if you’re starting out, keep things simple and don’t overdo it.”

But also… do whatever

There’s something else Angelus said about hyperpop production that feels important to underscore: “There are no boundaries; you can do whatever.” None of these producers have a clear vision of where the scene’s sound will go moving forward – and that’s probably the most exciting thing about it.

Do you make hyperpop music? If so, what tools and techniques do you use? Let us know in the comments below.

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February 19, 2021

Eli Enis Eli Enis is a news writer at Consequence of Sound and a freelance culture journalist who mostly covers underground music and the music industry. His work can be found in Rolling Stone, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, Vice, Splice, and elsewhere.