Interviewing artists: AIRBASE
I am saying this in every interview, but it is real! Every interview I have is very special to me and each one has a special place in my heart. This time, Airbase “takes the stand” and makes me over joyed. Met him at Luminosity for the first time and instantly fell in love with the nice man he is. My music crushes are my music crushes and the most special crushes in my life. Of course I had to ask him if he wants to have an interview with Trancers.ro. Of course I also ambushed him with my #IHaveAThingForTranceProducers photo and I am thrilled he didn’t say no.
A couple of days ago I sent him my interview and he replied quite quick. But imagine my face looking even more surprised when I read his answers. He really invested the time to answer and make this even more special. Thank you, Jezper! And you , trancers take your time to read all of his answers and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. Trance on!
Hey Jezper, nice to speak to you. How are you doing? Where are you reading this interview?
Hello, thanks for having me! I’m great, just in the middle of a long vacation. I’m doing this interview from inside a sailing boat in the Swedish west coast archipelago. I know I should be outside, but the sun is taking it’s toll on my not so sun resistant skin. 🙂
Let’s start with the beginning. Who is Airbase and when did the idea to produce music first occur?
Airbase is me, Jezper Söderlund, a 36 year old guy living in Sweden. I come from a very musical family, so I’ve been actively listening to music for as long as I can remember. I was super hooked on the early nineties euro techno wave (2 unlimited, Capella, Ice MC etc). During a vacation with relatives in Finland (I’m 50 % Finnish), I was introduced to a software called Scream Tracker by one of my cousins. I was immediately hooked. I got a copy of it on a 3,5“ diskette, and got busy when I got home. Scream Tracker led to Fast Tracker, and later on I moved to Cubase. I was making so much (crappy) music back then. I had moved on a bit from the euro dance, getting into more German music (Members of Mayday, RMB etc) and somehow discovered trance music around the time Ferry, Armin and Tiesto really started to nail the modern trance sound. So I learned a lot about arrangement of trance music and tried to replicate and understand what makes a good track. From there on, I just tried to get better. So … that’s how it started.
Why trance? Why did you choose this music genre?
I don’t know, I guess I discovered trance at just the right time. It was the right sound for my mind at that time. I loved the melodic nature and energy of euro dance, but was also totally hooked on symphonic music after seeing the old movie The Rock. It was the first time I really noticed the music in a movie. I’m such a sucker for the melancholic sound of symphonic music, and to me, trance music was the mix of high energy melodic dance music with that anthemic and symphonic feel to it.
How would you describe the day by day Airbase? How would you describe your life?
Oh, that is quite boring. I’m not spending as much time in the studio or on the road as I used to. These days I keep busy with other projects, there’s so much I want to do. I’m one of the founders of the largest tech podcast in Sweden, we’ve been going since 2009 and won multiple awards for best podcast within the science and technology category. I’m also currently working on a new online service for charity. Basically we’re letting anyone contribute to charity when shopping online, for free (we make the stores they shop from pay). And every once in a while, I’m in the studio.
What do you consider to be your biggest musical accomplishment when you look back in the past till now?
This is a tough one. I can’t say any specific track, remix or event. I believe the biggest musical accomplishment for me is that I’ve simply made a name for myself in this genre. I was such a big fan of trance music before releasing my own music. To now be a part of the scene I was such a fan of, means a lot to me. Most people with any reasonable interest in trance music knows who I am, and that is very humbling. Basically, being a part of the whole trance music industry and history feels like my greatest musical accomplishment.
Which single track that you’ve produced has had the greatest impact on your career?
That must be Denial with Floria Ambra. It is funny, the tracks you least expect to have an impact, most often has the most (Escape was written in a few hours, basically as an album filler). Denial was basically thrown together in a few days, due to a super short deadline for In Search of Sunrise. We were pretty sure they wouldn’t go for it, but they did. It also led to being part of Tiesto’s In Search Of Sunrise Tour which took me to London O2 Arena, Tomorrowland, Privilege @ Ibiza and Scotland. It was an awesome tour!
How do you find inspiration for your tracks? Do these tracks tell a story? Are they a part of your life?
I’m not much for telling stories with my music. It’s more of a emotional journey for me. Perhaps you’ve noticed many of my tracks have long intros. I really like to build the setting, and then get on the journey. I’ve always been a big fan of Hybrid, they’re extremely talented with building a musical journey, they’ve been my inspiration for a long time. Content wise, I’m always inspired by other music, but never trance. I can find small things in the strangest of genres that I think I could bring in to trance music. I have a Spotify playlist specifically to save away certain tracks with small elements I would like to do something with. It can be anything little as a weird drum fill, a certain chord change, atmosphere or FX work.
What influences you, as an artist?
Creativity. I’m often frustrated with myself for not being creative enough. But I get super inspired when I hear others doing unexpected things. There’s nothing I like more than when songs surprise me. The world (both in general and in the trance scene) is so full of safe music. Same basic chords, same effects and the same basslines. That doesn’t interest me. I want something that dares to do things a little different. No need to totally reinvent music as we know it every time, but having the courage to do something a little different, not paying as much attention to what others do.
For those interested, I’m collecting new and good music in a Spotify playlist (no trance there). That will give you a little feeling of what I’m talking about: https://open.spotify.com/user/jezper/playlist/6OTcFvUc48h6dXYmBWDQ1k
What do you think makes a perfect track?
I wouldn’t say there’s anything like a perfect track. But when you get the emotions of a song just right, and the track sounds like it just couldn’t sound any other way, then you’re close.
It’s hard to convince in this industry (EDM). Are you just like those producers saying: “I am just doing what I love and try to keep it going”? What do you think of the famous EDM “trend”?
With EDM I assume you mean this fast food house music littering radio and dance floors the last few years? I’m divided. On the one side, it drives me insane that it’s so damn generic. On the other side, it’s electronic dance music, and any pop culture recognition of it should in theory be good.
I’ve had moments when I’ve cared way too much what everyone else was doing, trying to compete, and that is like an express ticket to writers block. It’s really tough to get out of that mind set, but I’m getting there. These days, I’m focusing of making music for myself. If I like it, I’ve satisfied my main customer and critic. Of course I’m happy when fans like what I do, but I need to be the first one to like it. So by that, I guess I end up in the camp trying to just do what I love doing. I’m sure I could’ve had way more commercial success if I’d tried to align my sound with musical trends, but that’s not why I make music.
What about the story that is wondering around that” Trance is making a comeback”?
I’m a little disconnected from the trance scene these days to be the judge of that. But a lot of big names have left trance partially or completely, for larger commercial success (I assume), and I’m not sure there are that many new talents out there ready to take the limelight and rise. Unfortunately, what I hear from new trance producers these days, is mostly very much generic. That is not the way to a comeback. I think trance music suffers from sentimentality. There’s new remixes of old tracks, and these days, also new remixes of old remixes of old tracks. That is not the way to keep trance fresh, modern and growing.
What do you think about the trance community?
It’s still amazing. A little scattered over the internet these days, but it never seizes to amaze me that everyone is so friendly in this community. For Luminosity Beach Festival 2017, I had a few friends joining, that have never been near a trance event. And they were so surprised over how nice everyone were. No fights, no arguing, no assholes. It’s just friendly people, young and old, from everywhere, all joined by the same love for trance music. That makes the best possibly crowd to hang out with. Love em!
We just saw you at Luminosity Beach Festival a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed every minute of your set. How was it for you? To be again in front of the crowd?
It felt GOOD. It’s been quite a while since I played out, and it was super fun to play a producer set (even though it was tough to select tracks for such a short set). The support from the crowd was fantastic, and I’m truly humbled by everyone showing up for my sets. I’m not much of a showy artist, I just love to be up there playing good music, letting the music do the talking. I really need to do more sets.
I have a thing for trance producers no. AIRBASE! Thrilled I finally met him at Luminosity Beach Festival. He contributed a lot to my love for trance music. And he definitely made my day by being such an honest, open minded and true human being. Jezper, you are definitely one of a kind! Thank you, music man! #trancersro #interviewingartists #trance #trancerslife #trancefamily #trancemusic #musicfamily #trancers #trancersgonnatrance #tranceis #tranceislove #tranceislife
Where we will see you next? Any plans you can tell us about?
Next up is the now famous Monday Bar Cruise from Stockholm to Riga in early September. I’ve done those cruises twice before, and they are off the hook. Can’t wait to play there!
What are your plans for the next year/years? What are you planning producing related? When would we hear a new track from you? It’s been quite a while since Lachrymose. We want more! 🙂
I got a new single coming out in August. Can’t tell much about it just yet, but it’ll be a vocal track. I’m writing on three new tracks right now. I’m not as fast of a producer now as before (well, I’m super fast in actual DAW work, but I’m more picky these days, so the tracks takes longer). I’m not much for planning years ahead, so can’t tell you much there 🙂
Have you ever experienced the” creators block”? How did you snap out of it? I know a lot of producers would be grateful for some advices.
I’ve touched the subject in a previous answer, but I sure have experienced it. After my album We Might Fall, I felt empty of ideas. I couldn’t write anything. It felt like I had forgot the basics. Couldn’t even nail a decent bassline. This led to me listening a lot to what others were doing, but that just made it worse. That’s many years now, and it’s been a very slow recovery, constantly reminding myself not to care what others are doing. Never let the choice of melody, arrangement or sounds be dictated by “would anyone else do it this way”. Nowadays, I try to replace “is this too weird” with “is this good weird or bad weird”.
What would you say to someone new in this industry? What to avoid doing? What to never stop doing? 🙂
Learning the basics of music production takes time. Some are faster, some are slower, but everyone needs to do the grunt work, figuring out what makes a track. This is going to sound like an oxymoron, but in the beginning, it’s very helpful to try and replicate tracks of others that you like. Disect the tracks, figure out what goes where, why it’s there, how it would’ve sounded if it wasn’t there. That way, you get a good understanding of arrangement, and the way musical energy works. Music is very much about tension and release. Build up, break down. Not only on intro-breakdown-buildup-climax-outro level, but also on a sub-level, small fills, variations, fx-work etc. Those details are what elevates a track to “release worthy”. Once you’ve got a good understanding of that: stop listening to what others are doing. Try it your way. What you might think “this doesn’t sound like other artists” might actually mean you got something unique already. I wish I had realized this sooner, that when your music doesn’t sound like others, it’s positive, not negative.
I know this may be one of the hardest question for a trancer, but what is your top ten biggest trance tracks of all times?
Wow, ten? That’s a lot, but let’s try. With comments!
- Gouryella – Tenshi (Ferry, Tiesto and Vangelis, three of my favorites in one track. Still love it!)
- Midway – Monkey Forest (Always loved Ralph’s metallic sound. So much energy, and the theme is so simple yet so memorable)
- Mesh – Esthetic Visions (Love the theme!)
- Questia – Crystal Clouds (One of those themes I wished I had written myself. This list could actually be 10 Vincent De Moor productions, but I chose my favorite. It’s brilliant!)
- Naxos Project – Cold Fusion (A track that pretty much no one knows about, but I love the edgy production. Simple theme but unique sounding and full of energy!)
- Cliff Coenraad – Gone South (Cliff really nailed this one. It’s as perfect as they come. This track couldn’t have sounded any other way.)
- Solid Sessions – Janeiro (Armin Van Buuren Remix) (Childhood favorite, still love the summery vibe. I was a big fan of Armin’s sound at that time).
- Push – Strange World (That theme is so simple yet so powerful. Love the chord changes!)
- Andain – Beautiful Things (One of the best produced trance tracks to date. A wonderful fusion of organic and digital. Great atmosphere, wonderful vocals)
- Sander Van Doorn – AKA (Sam Mix) (Old gem by young Sander. This version is fantastic. Great use of sounds, and that build up is massive).
With which artist, would you like to swap the places for one day if you could?
I wouldn’t want to swap a day with any artist. 🙂
We’re reaching the end of this interview; do you have a message to our readers?
Thank you for your support, and enjoy your summer! And why not follow me on Twitter, the best place to follow me for musical updates: twitter.com/airbase.
Everyone’s got a hidden talent. What’s yours?
Hehe, let’s go with the most useless hidden talent. I can ride a bicycle with my body reversed (back facing to the front). Reason for having this talent: Unknown. Amount of times this talent has been of any use: 0.
Thank you, Jezper! Thank you again for this wonderful interview!
And thank you guys for reading it all and don’t forget to leave your thoughts here or on Social Media. Trance on!