stella key music

Interview: Stella Key on the Success of ‘Disturbia’

DJ, producer, and singer Stella Key has been hard at work refining her sound for more than seven years now. 

Along the way, her crossover pop-electronic music has earned her more than thirty million streams, as well as spots on major Spotify playlists alongside artists like Skrillex, R3HAB, and Zedd. 

In particular, Key’s dance cover of ‘Disturbia‘, a collaboration with The FifthGuys, has been a huge hit, racking up more than a million Spotify listens in the first month alone. The song also made its way to the Dance Cover Spotify playlist, where it’s gained even more traction. 

We had the chance to interview Key, and we specifically wanted to focus on ‘Disturbia’ as a kind of case study on what it takes to create a successful dance track. 

So whether you’re an avid listener or an artist trying to make their mark, this interview is the perfect opportunity to learn more about how hits are made and how it feels to see a song take off. 

Your songs have gone on to have tremendous success, including over 20 million streams, to creating a successful dance track, do you think there’s one key element or is it the result of many elements coming together?

The current music industry is very competitive, which means that to be able to be successful and compete with what’s out there, the quality of your songs has to be very very high.

For example in all of my releases, the drum and bass is super important, because that is one of the biggest focuses in electronic music. “Disturbia” and “One Last Time” covers are good examples, which together have gained over 7 million streams just on Spotify.

I think it’s the combination of many elements coming together and a key element or idea. A good dance track in today’s electronic music industry has to meet many standards. The drums and the bass or sub-layer are the most important parts alongside the vocals. On top of that, the ear candy and the arrangement are super important as well. The mix and master bring the track to a level that can compete with other tracks out there.

Let’s discuss one of your most popular tracks: the cover remix of your song Disturbia has gone on to gain nearly 6 million streams, and has remained on Spotify’s popular ‘Dance Cover’ playlist for over 1 year, which is a significant milestone, what were some of your expectations for the song when you started working on it, and can you discuss how you collaborated with one of the most successful acts from Italy ‘The Fifth Guys’?

I didn’t have specific expectations but I knew that the “Fifth Guys” were doing pretty good. For me it was important to put in the effort and make a good track and enjoy what I was doing, the hard work will eventually pay off.

How did the collaboration with the FifthGuys come about as it led to tremendous success What was it like working together on the cover remix of Shivers, which gained over 1.5 million streams in just four months- and has remained on Spotify’s prestigious editorial playlist since August 2022?

They reached out to me through social media and asked if I wanted to work with them. The process went really fast, they are very professional and work very fast. They also work with really good mixing and mastering engineers which improves the quality of the final product massively.

In general, do you prefer collaborations? Does your preference change based on the project?

In general, I prefer collaborations for the most part because you can complement each other’s skills and talents. On top of that, you can share your network and audience as well.

What was the toughest part of working on the song, if any?

Recording more than 30 layers of vocals in order to make the song sound big took a lot of time. Editing those layers of vocals took even more time. In general it was a time-consuming project but very much worth it.

You signed with one of the biggest indie electronic labels on the market, Magic Music Records which is a subsidiary of Universal Music in Poland.  They own some of the biggest playlists on Spotify with over 6 million followers and also on YouTube with over 5 million followers.  Your releases gained over 4 million streams with them. How did it feel when the track really started to take off, and can you discuss what goes into working with a major label such as Magic Music?

It felt really amazing, especially to know that the hard work was starting to pay off. “Magic Music” has multiple A&R’s who will have to approve the song before it can be released, they also work with different producers and singers. Again, the quality of the song is very important. Genre is another important aspect. Since Magic Music is mainly commercially focused, they are really looking for sounds and genres that are trending at the moment. So it’s a combination of different factors that determine how successful a song will be.

You’ve had plenty of successful releases. Is it a different experience each time, or is it something you get used to?

It is a different experience each time. I have a certain goal in mind which is either a certain label or an artist that I wanna work with while making sure that the quality of the song is high.

Coming off of a big success, how do you feel starting work on the next song? Are there higher expectations?

The expectations get higher each time, partly because I tend to be my own biggest critic. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the music industry because the dance music scene is very saturated and competitive at the moment. The industry also changes every second and you have to keep up with the trends if you wanna work with certain labels and gain commercial success. It does push you to work really hard as an artist and you are constantly learning which is great.