Mark Sherry: For me, trance is tech trance. I LOVE percussion and that’s why trance developed into an addiction to tech trance [Interviewing Artists]

I have such a music crush for Mark Sherry, that finally meeting and chatting with him is definitely one of the highlights of my trancer's "career". When I was getting ready for my interview with Mark Sherry, I had so many mixed feelings, the butterflies from my stomach got really really confused.

It left me speechless: to meet the amazing man behind the name. He is such a nice person, a very kind human, beside being this great artist we all know and cherish. Very open to all my questions, and so good with storytelling.

Prepare for a very long read. Prepare for a very meaningful read. Mark spoke all about his beginnings, favourite gigs, artists, trance tracks and many more.

Who is Mark Sherry and how did it all started?

For me it all started around 1992 when I used to listen to Radio 1 religiously every Friday night. Pete Tong had his Friday night residency and on his show you were always guaranteed good music alongside amazing guests like Carl Cox and The Prodigy etc. I took a lot of inspiration from these guys. Also, in 1994 there was a club in my home town called The Hanger and it was just the best club ever. Proper dance music, rave, techno, breakbeat, Italo-house, happy hardcore, trance, acid, had it all! It was really energetic music every Saturday night, but the DJ’s also played house music as the warm-up, it was very different to what it’s like nowadays. There was always a proper musical progression throughout the whole night.

Today, there is trance, techno, house, EDM etc..but back then you had only one stage, under one roof, with no rules, no restrictions, no genres, just open-minded people that were there to hear all types of music, tempo or styles! You had 1000 people in a room going crazy and you could play any type of music. All of these factors inspired me and made me the DJ that I am today.

In 1996 I formed a rave band with a local DJ that I looked up to, Trevor Reilly, and we produced a lot of tracks together. He was a big inspiration to me and then after that I started branching out on my own as a DJ up until 2000 when the whole madness of Public Domain kicked off for me. Finally, in 2004 I started working under my own solo name.

Who is Mark Sherry in real life? Beside the artist, the DJ, the producer?

I am just a normal guy that loves his music, loves to make music and loves to entertain. If you met me in the street i’d like to think that you would also think that I’m just a normal person. I am not anything special.

I consider myself to be very lucky with what I do for my job, with all of the amazing gigs I get around the world etc. I am just very thankful of my mum and dad buying me a keyboard when I was 7 years old and then taking me to piano/keyboard lessons. I’m lucky that I entered the music world at such a young age and managed to make a career out of it. But the man behind Mark Sherry, is just Mark Sherry. I am just a normal person. In my eyes at least haha.

Why did you chose trance? What does this genre mean to you?

Trance is just…well for me it’s not just trance, it is tech-trance. I’ve always loved techno but also always loved trance. My mum has a real fascination about drums, she loves festival/carnival type drums, tribal percussion, Brazilian drums, live drums, and I am the exact same. Big drum sounds and sequences  can give me goosebumps just as much as emotional chords can haha.

I LOVE percussion and that’s why trance, for me, developed into an addiction to tech-trance. I like techno tracks with groove, but I also love melodies with emotional strings and pads etc. Even though I don’t play many vocal tracks, sometimes a nice emotional vocal track can send everybody crazy, so I like to keep my options open and play all types of genres whether it’s techno, trance, tech-trance, uplifting, vocal..whatever works best on the dancefloor at that specific moment works for me.

What do you think is the most important moment of your career?’ve got really difficult questions haha… I think when Public Domain ‘ Operation Blade (Bass In the Place)’ came out in 2001 that was a really big moment for me. It was a global smash all over the world and it went on to open so many doors for me as a DJ and producer. We were just young guys messing around in our bedroom studio and having fun, and then the next thing we ended up playing all over the world. It was a big big turning point for me in my career. I went from being a ‘bedroom producer’ to a globally touring band and DJ. It was crazy, absolutely crazy.

Also, playing on the main stage at Trance Energy in 2008 alongside Tiesto, Sander Van Doorn, Marco V and Ferry Corsten etc was also a very big achievement for me. That was really my first big solo gig in the Netherlands and in many ways the world, basically. It was just me on my own again, no Public Domain, it was Mark Sherry..and I was extremely proud of that.

What was a mistake you made in the industry and what did you learn from it?

Ohhhh. How long have you got? Like 5 hours?

Let me keep this interview positive by saying, yes, I made a load of mistakes back in the early days, but after that hellish period of my life, I have spent the rest of my time learning from the mistakes that I made and also trying my absolute hardest to never make them again. Even if I had the chance to go back in time and do things all over again, I would probably still make the same mistakes again, just because I learned so much from those bad experiences and bad decisions..and they also made me a MUCH stronger and wiser person...

How do you actually produce your music? What’s the inspiration behind the tracks?

I get a lot of inspiration from Sci-fi. I am a big sci-fi nerd haha. I love Star Wars and films like Sunshine etc. Films that have huge soundscapes and epic soundtracks etc. You can probably hear this coming through in my music, tracks like ‘Pillars of Creation’, ‘Music Of The Earth’ ‘Gravitational Waves’ etc etc.

They all have big strings/pads, big riffs, trippy arpeggios, sampled scifi/scientific vocals and all that kind of stuff. I get a lot of inspiration from these kind of films, the big blockbuster type movies. I love going to the cinema and being blown away by the music just as much as the actual action and special FX.

What do you think makes a perfect track?

For me, it is always going to be a tech-trancer. I love groove, so a track has to have a really good kick drum, a good bassline, chunky percussion, but then in the breakdown I want to hear a melody that gives you severe goosebumps, but then I want the track to build up again with some synth madness before kick and bass comes back again, at that moment I want things to go back to raw tech again.

Have you ever experienced the creator’s block?

Haha of course, god at least once a month, sometimes weekly lol. I try to combat this though by keeping a huge folder of music by my favourite artists, but also a lot of other producers across different genres like techno, especially. I like listening to the guys that have been making tech trance for a long time, if I get stuck I just listen to 3 or 4 tracks by them and then I can get some ideas and start to feel inspired again.

I’ll also take a day off from actually creating/writing music and just go through my synths and plugins to find some new ideas. But if things are really bad, I’ll just turn off my PC and go home to chill and just ‘switch off’. Then I’ll go back to the studio the next day and hopefully things will be better.

What is the biggest challenge of Mark Sherry as a DJ?

The travelling is brutally hard sometimes, it knocks the absolute s**t out of you sometimes. You’re dealing with different time-zones and jetlag, a lot of additional stress and pressure, running back and forth etc. For example, sometimes you can fly for 12 hours straight and then you have to race to the hotel, quickly grab a shower and change your clothes, get some food, then go straight to the club and jump on stage and you’re like ‘hey look at how crazy I am on stage’ lol. Sometimes it’s very surreal, like you’re living in the twilight zone half the time can be really exhausting.

It is a lot easier when you see the crowd though, you can feed off of their energy and that replenishes your adrenaline levels.If the crowd is energetic, and they are all shouting for you, you feel like they are really appreciating the fact that you’ve travelled so far to see them and I really feed off of that energy. It makes you smile and you can really go for it. I can’t complain about anything though, I love my job!

You clearly played a lot of places. What is your favourite gig?

I’ve done a lot of amazing gigs in Argentina, LA, Colombia, NYC, Montreal (Circus) and also Toronto. I celebrated my 20th anniversary as a DJ in 2014 in Toika with Ozmosis and  that was a very special gig.. I started with music from 1990 and kept on bringing it more and more up to date as the night went on. I went from 1990 to 2014 in around 6 hours. It was a small club, but the whole place was electric – it was a very special gig for me! I also had my first Canadian ‘Outburst’ branded event in Toronto too.

Trance Energy in 2008, was really special one for me as well. I was so nervous, because the DJ booth was really high and I had to climb up huge ladders to get up there. I got to the top and Jorn, Sander Van Doorn’s manager at the time saw my very white face peeking over the top of the ladder and he said ‘Mark are you feeling OK? ” and I was like ”Yeah…I think i’m ok.” Haha.

Let’s go a little bit into technicalities:

What’s your favourite DAW?

Cubase. I’ve used Cubase since 1994.

Can you name your top 3 VSTs?

I mainly use Spire, Sylenth & Massive for my synths. For EQ’ing I use Fabfilter ProQ 2, for reverb I use ArtsAcoustic,  but there are so many effects that I use. For delays I use Bionic Delay. I use Slate plugins and URS as well. For other synths I use Massive, Serum. Nexus: a lot of stuff basically.

Sound banks or Sound design? Which is the way to go?

I don’t do much in the way of sound design to be honest. I know how to get a sound and mould it into something new to make it to fit into a track, by changing its parameters and adding a lot of effects etc..but making sounds from scratch is something that I don’t really do. For me that doesn’t really matter so much. It all depends on what you can do with the sounds that you have at your fingertips.

Hardest question of all: Can you name your Top 3 trance Tracks of all times?

  1. Westbam vs Red Jerry - Wizards Of The Sonic (Matt Darey Remix) (This track can easily bring me to tears on a dancefloor, for sure
  2. Solarstone - Seven cities (V - One Remix)
  3. System F - Out of The Blue (I heard this for the first time while I was driving to a gig in Scotland and Judge Jules played it on Radio 1 for the first time. When I heard that melody coming in I nearly crashed the car .. I was like f****ck!)

What is your favorite album?

Phooaa. That is a difficult one. I don’t actually know. Let’s say for now: Mauro Picotto – The Lizard Man…I’ve always been heavily influenced by this album!

What’s the simplest advice you’d give to someone fresh in the industry?

Make your own music, simple. If you don’t know how to, then learn. Analyse what other producers are doing in a track, make a similar groove, learn about the sounds, make the same percussion patterns, reference their melodies, their layers, but once you know to do all of that, you then have to become different and develop your own trademark sound.

You have to create your own uniqueness or else you’ll just get lost in a huge sea of producers. You won’t have that unique sound that will make people want to travel to come and see you. You have to have something that’s different about your sound.

Talking about the studio before, what are 5 things each producer has to have In his studio?

Good acoustics, a good set of monitors. If you don’t have good speakers and if you don’t have good acoustics, it is just not going to happen. I would recommend having a decent sized midi keyboard as well, like at least 4 or 5 octaves. It’s not worth buying a small one with only 1 or 2 octaves. You can experiment a lot more with bigger keyboards. Sometimes a sound can sound really bad up in the higher octaves but as soon as you play it down a few octaves it can take on a whole new dynamic and really come to life.

So, have a decent sized midi keyboard, good plugins, good effects, a really powerful computer if possible, with big hard drives. You don’t just need a lot of storage space, you also need to have a fast thinking and efficient machine, a perfect brain on your computer to control everything or else it will kill your workflow.

Any upcomers  we should watch out?

There are a lot of new guys breaking through in the scene at the moment, some of the ones on my labels are like EverLight for instance. He’s making a lot of really good techy stuff just now. He actually reminds me of me when I was his age. There is a new guy called Systembreaker too that’s just released a track on Outburst Twilight called ‘Sleep Paralysis’ that I played at Lumi – it’s totally HUGE!

I’ve got also got some real legends on the label that have recently released some bombs and have more great new releases coming up: Richard Durand with ‘The Air I Breathe’, Scot Project with ‘Don’t Go’ I also debuted a new B2B project with Frank at Dreamstate called ‘Gentech’, my good friend David Forbes with ‘Extra Dimension’, he’s doing a lot of new stuff for Outburst at the moment. The same goes for Maarten de Jong. I played his latest single at Lumi (Cast Iron) and it absolutely wrecked the place..and of course my good buddy Alex Di Stefano has also just released his latest new new single on the label too ‘Now Get On Up’. Alex is amazing,  he’s one of my favourite relatively ‘new guys’ to burst into the scene. When I first listened to him in 2014, I was just like ‘wow, this guy is absolutely incredible’.

What do you think about the trance community? The fans?

The fans are the best. The fans travel everywhere to see you. I even got a comment on Facebook tonight from a girl who said: “I’ve seen you 4 times this year, in 4 different countries and tonight (Luminosity) is going to be my 5th”. It’s crazy. The amount of passion, commitment and devotion that you get from some of the trance fans is just incredible. They travel so far to see you and it is amazing to experience that.

What do you think about the trance community, the colleagues in the industry?

I can honestly say that there are only about 2 or 3 guys in the whole scene that I try to avoid, just because they have let success get to their heads over the years. I used to say hello to them but now I don’t even bother. I’m not going to say any names though because 99%  of the guys that I work with  are all really good guys, guys that I can trust and get on really well with. A lot of them have become really good friends too which is cool, sometimes I wish some of them lived in Scotland so that I could see them more often.

How is the work with the label? With Outburst?

It’s amazing, I’m extremely happy with the way that it’s all gone. I’ve wanted to have my own label since around 2007/2008 but I just didn’t feel that it was the right time. I felt like I wasn’t happy enough with my own productions. Some people may think that they were good enough, but in my head I thought ‘I want to be better than this before I have my own label‘, just because I want to be able to release my own music on my own label and feel really proud of it. It took me a few years to build up enough confidence to feel OK about starting up, but since it all kicked off in 2014 it’s been really amazing. It really exploded in a way that I never felt it was possible. And I feel really lucky about that.

What are your plans with the label?

To be honest, I am not trying to grow into a massive label or anything. I don’t want it to become a multi-genre label collective that is so big that it needs a big office with loads of staff etc. I want to try and keep it small and focus only on the styles of music that make my dancefloors shake and not my pockets bulge with cash..and that’s the honest truth.

I want to try and keep it small. I always want to keep a very ‘one-to-one’ and direct A&R connection with all the guys that I sign. I don’t want it to become so big that I lose touch of what’s actually going on with each artist. Yes I want the label to become bigger, but not huge. I want to keep it at a decent manageable size.

If you could change places for one day with another artist, with whom would it be?

I think it would have to be one of the leading techno guys, maybe Adam Beyer or Carl Cox, just to experience what is like in the techno scene. I do go to techno gigs whenever I can, but I would just like to see what the gigs are like and what the techno scene is like and compare it to the trance scene that I know so well.

Everyone has a hidden talent. What’s yours?

I can do impressions of people, but you wouldn’t know any of the ones that I can do .. so I am not going to do them just now haha. If you get me drunk enough, and ask me to do some I might haha. I’m a good swimmer, I can skateboard and I can also breakdance a little..  :P

Do you have a message for the readers?

I love playing in Romania. I hope to come back really soon. I’ve always loved to play in Eastern Europe. I have so much passion for playing over there. Scotland has a very crazy crowd too, we are a crazy nation, so me going to a club and Romania is pretty much the exact same as Scotland. High five to the Romanian crowd and I hope you enjoyed this interview.

Markus Schulz: We are the positivity that the world needs to see. We are the light. [Interviewing Artists]

Let’s start to talk a little bit about your latest album: We are the light. What’s the actual story behind the album?

So last year, you know I did Dakota - The nine skies project and it was kinda my response to what was happening in the world. I felt a lot of despair with all the things that were going on in the world and I needed to express myself musically. When I started this album it was almost like a rebellion. Like enough is enough. And when I wrote the song “We are the light” with Nikki Flores , that’s when it became very clear to me what I wanted to do with this album. I wanted to make something that basically said “We are the positivity that the world needs to see”. This is the message of the album. Because when you go to the festivals and you see people at the festival, all these different flags, all these different countries, all these different types of people all together smiling, having a great time and loving life together. “We are the light" is a message that we should be the example for the world to follow. So all of the songs kinda come from that idea.

“Upon my shoulders”: I came up with the idea when I was on stage at Tomorrowland looking out and seeing all the flags and the people on each other shoulders I was like: “I wanna write about this moment. I want to capture this moment and write a song about it. ‘Cuz this is amazing. This is like a beautiful image to see." All of the songs on “We are The light” come from experiences like that.

How was the creative process of the album? Did you ever actually experienced the creators block during making this album?

I did. The hardest one was “Upon my shoulders”. Because we wrote that song with just a guitar and a vocal. And it seemed like everything that I did to it, was over producing it and taking the soul away from it. And the original version you see the video of, it was so hard to make it because I kept adding things, pads, pianos, this and that, and it just felt too much. Took away from the soul of what we came up with in the studio when we were writing it. So, that was really hard. It took me a like three months to get that one right.

How did you snapped out if it?

I don’t think I ever did. I just said that is enough. I don’t know what I am doing anymore. I am so confused. I don’t understand what this song is anymore. So I took a break from it and when I kinda went back and un-produced it. I started muting things, that didn’t need to be in there. And this was it. This is as simple as I can get it, or the complex as I can get it without losing the simple soul that it had.

How did you actually chose the vocalists?

With each one I’ve had a personal connection with. Emma and I have been wanting to do music together for a long time and she lives in Miami now, so it was a lot easier to work with her. Christina Novelli, we were on the Groove Cruise together and we were like: “we gotta make music together”. Capital Cities (Sebu) - I have an old connection with them, since their remix for Safe and Sound a couple of years ago. Jes - is a legend. I’ve known her for a long long time.

And then all the other artists: Smiley (he is from Romania) is a very good friend of ours. I spend a lot of time in Romania and when I am in Romania, I love to go in the studio. And I’ve been going to HaHaHa  which is Smiley’s studio many times, and worked in the studio there. We were in LA and me and Adina wrote this song “The Dreamers” and we had a friend of ours sing the demo vocal. And I asked Adina: “Who could sing this song? It’s kind of a song about “I remember when” and we need to get back to that.” And she said: “Call me crazy, but I think Smiley would do an amazing job”. So, I presented it to Smiley and he was like: “I’ve haven’t had a song to make me feel this way in a long time. Let’s do this”.

I’ll tell you a funny story: Smiley nailed the vocals so good, so good to the original vocal production that I actually had the original vocal on one channel and I had Smiley’s vocal on another channel and I made a render of it where I accidentally muted Smiley’s vocal and left the original demo of vocals and played it. I didn’t  even realise it, until Adina sent the video to Smiley: “Look at this (I think this may even have been at Untold festival) look at this. Everybody is going crazy” and then he replied back and said: “Aaaa. That’s not my voice”. I was like: “Ohh my God”.  Smiley nailed the vocals so good to where I didn’t even noticed. But it’s a special song about nostalgia and “I remember when”. When all we knew, all we had was enough. Our times of innocence. When we didn’t know any better. Everything that we had was enough for us. We were dreamers.

And then my other with Alina. Alina is a very good friend of ours as well. She worked with one of our artists Novaspace and she filmed the video in Miami. So, she and her boyfriend came and stayed with us for a week in Miami and we said: “When the time is right, we need to work on a song together”. And I always knew I wanted to work with her and with this song I said I wanna do something with Alina that she hasn’t done before. So, I went to a good friend of mine. He is a legendary writer, Raz Nitzan and I said to him: “I have this friend who has a beautiful amazing voice, charisma. I wanna write a proper trance song for her. I don’t want a pop song, I want a proper trance song”.

So Raz and I put our heads together and we came up with this beautiful song, presented it to her and same thing. She fell in love with the song. One afternoon we were in the studio, we recorded it and WOW. I think both Alina and Smiley really showed how talented they really are and diverse. Especially when you listen to the acoustic versions. You really hear the beauty in both of their voices. I think Romania should be very proud.

Do you think of collaborating with them again?

Of course. We had such a great time and we are good friends, so why not?

What was the most challenging track to work on?

I said it. That us “Upon my shoulders”. Every time I would do something to it, it was changing the soul of what was originally there. It gave me the most stress out of all of them.

What is your favourite track from the album?

That’s so difficult because each one is like a baby. Each one has a special message. I mentioned “The dreamers”, it’s also a song called “Utopia” in there, which is beautiful. Also there is the “coordinates” track. If you type them down, it takes you to Eschwege, Germany , where I was born. And the song is about: “We haven’t lost our way”. The coordinates, the song means we haven’t lost our way. It’s basically saying “Me personally, I’ve never forgotten where I came from.

That’s where I was born I’ve never forgotten the people that I’ve known along the way and that’s kinda my tribute to now only where I come from, but to all the people that I’ve met and inspired me along the way”. I remember I did an interview a couple of years ago, maybe last year, right around Watch the world and they asked me: what’s next? What’s next for me is my legacy. Working on my legacy. So something like this is all about legacy. To let the people know I’ve never forgotten where I come from.

Can you define Markus Schulz in 5 words?

I can define it in 2 words. Complex and eclectic. And I think my fans they know what I mean by that. They know that I am a complex artist, I have many different moods, but they all understand them. And I am also very eclectic. When you listen to my albums and the acoustic versions and everything, you understand musically how eclectic I am. But the important thing is that all the music comes from my soul. So it has the same soul. If you go all the way back to Do you dream and Progression which were really dark songs and even the Dakota stuff and then into “We are the light” it still comes from the same soul. It still has that same soul. So I think my fans understand complex and eclectic.

Why did you actually chose trance music?

It’s the same answer. Complex and eclectic. I love trance music. Because it is complex and I love trance music because it is eclectic. You have everything from progressive to big room, uplifting trance to techy, techno, trance. Some of the new music, some of the new techno that it is out right now it’s not techno it’s trance. Same words. Complex and eclectic.

You clearly have a lot of experience in the field, but like a lot of the other artists you also did some mistakes. What was one mistake and what did you actually learn from it?

There was a mistake. But I wouldn’t change it. But I did learn something from it. It was when I did a track called Sleepwalkers under Dakota. When I first started in the music, I was a breakdancer. I loved breakdancing and always said that I wanted to recreate the Beat Street scene, a scene from the movie - the battle scene in one of my music videos one day. And we did Sleepwalkers and I said this is the video. I wanna do it. I contacted Melle Mel who did the song that the battle was on; I contacted his management and asked: Would he be interested in doing a cameo appearance in the video?

Because how cool would it be to recreate the scene and the have a cameo appearance and they told me “Not only does Melle Mel want to be in the video. He would love to write a rap on it. And I was like: you’re kidding me. Melle Mel he is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This is my hero. So I am like: “Ohh my gosh, this would be amazing”.

So I flew down to Miami, I was in the studio.. he walks in: Melle Mel, Scorpio from Grandmaster Flash and Furious Five and Wonder Mike from the Sugar Hill gang. These 3 guys walk into my studio and I was just like: “Are you kidding me? This is unreal”. Melle Mel put down a verse and we released it. We put the video out and for me it was like a childhood dream. To work with heroes.

But Ohh my God. The drama that was online, it was so sad. Because my soul was so happy; to be able to work with these guys. I wish that every artist out there could work with one of their heroes. But the response online was so evil. And so bad. I learned something from that and that was that people don’t really understand. Maybe I didn’t learn anything. But it hurt me. It really hurt me. Was it a mistake? Yeah. Because there was so much drama around that. But at the end of the day I would do it again because the teenager in me deserved that moment.

Can you name a top 3 trance tracks ever?

For me Perception is number one. That song changed everything for me. I was on the dancefloor at Ministry of Sound (I think It was) and I heard that come on and it changed my life. So Perception will always be number one.

Number 2 and 3 can change: Solarcoaster by Solarstone was amazing. And let’s say also …Obviously I think we all had that moment when first heard Silence by Delerium ft. Sarah McLachlan (Tiesto Mix). It was like WOW. Everybody from house DJs to trance DJs I think they were like: “how is this possible, to have such a drive and beauty in a track. The ying and yang.

And I will mention one more: Age of Love by Age of Love (The Jam and Spoon mix).

If you could change places for one day with another artist, with whom would you change places and why?

Probably with one of the commercial pop artists, to show that you don’t have to be as cheesy as you are. And I am not going to mention any names, but you can do what you’re doing without selling your soul. You can be commercial without selling your soul. At this point, I wouldn’t even be surprised if we end up having an EDM remix of Macarena. And we will have all the Tomorrowland doing the Macarena.

Honestly. What’s next? We’ve got every trick in the book that they are doing now. It’s like a wedding dj. Now we are going to do the hokey pokey; now we’re going to do the chicken dance; now we’re gonna do the Macarena. That’s what sometimes the mainstage is like and it doesn’t have to be like that. The experience. The mainstage experience doesn’t have to be like that.

Everybody has a hidden talent. What’s yours?

My hidden talent. Hahahah. First of all breakdancing. But I can’t break dance anymore. And one of the other hidden talents that I used to have (I am not kidding. This is crazy). But I used to be a hula-hoop champion. We’ve had a hula-hoop contest and the last person standing won. I was able to do a hula-hoop for like 30 minutes; an hour. I just kept going until I was the last one. I was very talented at hula-hoop.

Starpicker: Trance has that special something. That's why it is a part of my life. [Interviewing artists]

Starpicker interview alert! I've been working on this for a while and I am pretty happy Dan has finally agreed to answer to my questions. Interviewing close friends is always the hardest thing to do. :)) But it had to be done. He is an amazing trance producer and deserves this. So, enjoy the read!

Hello Dan! Where in the world is this interview catching you and what were you doing right before starting reading this?

Weekend, watching series and chill.

Let’s start with the beginning: Who is Starpicker -the artist? How did it all started? The love for music, the producing, the DJing?

For trance it all started in general school when my sister bought some compilation cds with tracks from ATB, Schiller, Marc van Linden. I remember I was listening a lot to the track that started the love for trance music: Marc van Linden - Clubiemus. It was more like a euro house track but the lead melody sounded a lot like uplifting tracks so it did the job. After that I knew I want to learn how to produce music and in college I started with FL Studio and then I switched to Ableton.

Who is Starpicker in the day by day life? Beside producer, DJ, artist?

Automation Engineer, love travels, soccer videogames .

Why Trance? What does this genre mean to you? How does it make you feel?

I listen to all kinds of music but trance just has that special something if you know what I mean.

What would you say it is your biggest musical accomplishment till now?

Playing this year at Afterhills Festival. :)

Which single track that you’ve produced had the biggest impact on your career?

I also had tracks under other aliases but the biggest track so far is “The Traveler”.

How do you actually produce your music? Do your tracks tell a story? What is the inspiration behind your tracks?

Usually I open my DAW and play with something or go through older projects and and if something new comes to mind, I write it down. But mostly the good ideas come when I have to do something else with a close deadline. :))

Who influenced your work the most? Simple people, other artists, works, etc.

People inspires me a lot. From other artists I can say that Giuseppe Ottaviani inspires me along side Thrillseekers and Solarstone.

What do you think makes a perfect track?

I think that the melody is the main reason you will look again for a track.

Have you ever experienced the creator’s block? And if yes, how did you snap out of it?

For me there is a time of the year when I write some melodies and then all the year work on finishing them.

Let’s go a bit into some technicalities: what’s your studio setup?

A nice PC with a Komplete audio 6, Audio Technica M50 and recently I got a pair of Yamaha HS7 who are not at full power because of my room but at least I don’t have to work on headphones all the time.

Favorite DAW?


Can you name your top 3 VSTs?

Spire, Sylenth, Serum.

Soundbanks or sound design? Which is the way to go?

Sound design usually, it takes longer but its worth it. Sometimes I use presets too.

What is the simplest advice you’d give to someone else that is starting this journey?

Dream big and work hard. If you love this enough you will get where you want.

You favourite trance subgenre?


Any favorite artists?

Giuseppe Ottaviani, Solarstone, Thrillseekers, Ferry Corsten, Suncatcher, Exolight, Daniel Kandi.

Any artist a trancer should definitely follow these days?

If you want nice melodies with alot of energy and a driving bassline Nikolauss is your man. His tracks are insane these days, you should definitely check him out. Suncatcher and Exolight are also top producers with big support lately and with a good year with great tracks. Also check Sundancer, Bogdan Vix and Keyplayer, they are on fire.

Any new projects coming up? What can we expect from you in the next months?

Solo projects a few and 2 collaborations.

How was the Romanian Trance Gathering party? What can you say about that night? You had a very special b2b with Nikolauss.

I really enjoyed the party. I meet great people there and made new connections. My set with Nikolauss was the first b2b for us and we did a great combination of our styles.

What can you tell us about your work with Nikolauss? When can we actually hear something from you 2?

We worked for a while at a few projects, finally one is ready now and will be soon out there. I think I may give it a spin at Afterhills Festival.

What about the work with Exolight and Suncatcher? How was it? Working with these 2? Anything new coming up?

It was awesome, the fastest collaboration ever ha ha. I sent over something and then they came up with some great ideas about it. With Exolight is another one in progress and I think will be a good one.

Congrats of becoming part of the Afterhills line up. What can we expect from you?

Thank you! I am very happy for being part of it. I will do my best and hope you will enjoy the my set.

What do you think about the trance community - the fans?

I think it’s a great community all around the globe and it’s bigger every year.

And what about the trance community the DJs/ producers (the ones you encountered till now?

I met a few of them and they are good fellows helping each other.

If you could change your place for one day with another artist, not necessarily trance artist, with whom would you change places and why?

Giuseppe Ottaviani. His Live 2.0 set is insane and I think it’s amazing to watch and learn from it but no one could do it better than him.

Hardest question of all: Can you tell me the top 10 trance tracks of all times?

There are so many! Here are 10 that came to me right now but not in a specific order.

  1. The Thrillseekers Pres. Hydra - Amber
  2. Ferry Corsten presents Gouryella - Venera (Vee's Theme)
  3. NuNrg - Free Fall
  4. Ram - Ramsterdam (Jorn Van Deynhoven Remix)
  5. Darren Porter - Spellbound
  6. Paul van Dyk - For An Angel 
  7. Kamaya Painters - Northern Spirit
  8. Chicane - Saltwater
  9. Solarstone - Seven Cities
  10. Airbase - Modus Operandi

Do you have a message for our readers?

If you think my writing is good then you didn’t listen to my tracks.

Everyone has a hidden talent. What’s yours?

Finding everything funny and making jokes about it especially in serious situations. I don’t this is something that helps but I can’t change it :))

Exolight: A perfect track is one that makes you feel something you can't control. [Interviewing Artists]

Hellooooo Exolight! And welcome to ^_^ I can finally share with you my interview with a very hot name in the trance scene right now. The man, the music man is amazing and I am happy I finally met him at the Romanian Trance Gathering last month. He is the same as in all our online conversations: simple, smiley and genuine. He really know how to tell a good joke and I enjoyed the lunch and all the talks about this music we all love so much. Funny story: we should've had this on video, but you know how planning around a party can be. A loot of work to do, and after it a lot of rest to consider. So we ended up by doing this online, the old fashion way: in writing. But better, 'cuz I got to find out his top 10 trance tracks of all time more easily! Enjoy!

Hello Cristi! Thank you for accepting the interview. Where in the world is this interview catching you and what were you doing right before starting reading this?

Hi Oana! My pleasure :) Right now, I'm home in the studio, working on a new track.

Let’s start with the beginning: Who is Exolight -the artist? How did it all started? The love for music, the producing, the DJing?

I'm just a normal guy who loves music!

The love for music started years ago when I was a little child. My father is a musician so I was always surrounded by music. I started playing the piano at the age of 5 or 6, and a few years later I also followed some guitar lessons until I got bored haha.

The love for DJ-ing started in 2002 or so. I was always fascinated by DJs when they were mixing and spining vinyls and stuff and I always wanted to do that myself but I didn't have money to buy gear. But later that time, a friend of mine showed me a mixing software (AtomixMP3 I think) and that's how I started to "DJ".

To produce I first started 10 years ago, in my first year of college. I installed Cubase and I started to play around. A few years later I switched to FL studio and I also started to play the keyboard again.But I didn't have too much time and ambition back then so I dropped this idea of producing. All,  until 2 years ago when I met Bogdan (Suncatcher. It's funny how we met because I was always a big Suncatcher fan and we ended up being co-workers by accident. Anyway, right after we met, I posted a video of me playing on keyboard a trance track on Instagram and he saw the video. Right after, he told me that we should make a track together. Imagine the excitement :D However, after a few weeks, I sent him an idea and that's how 'Nothing Like You' was born. This is how it all started and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for being such a great friend and mentor during the last couple of years. (Cheers bro!)


Who is Cristian Moga/ Exolight in the day by day life? Beside producer, DJ, artist?

In the day by day life I'm just a normal person who works as a QA Engineer, loves ribs and life in general.

Why Trance? What does this genre mean to you? How does it make you feel? How do you actually define it?

I can define trance as being the best thing that ever happened to music...and to me!

I also listen to some other genres like classic rock, alternative or post rock, house music and the list goes on but I can only find myself in trance. On the other hand, as a producer, trance is for me like a getaway. A way to express myself, my feelings, emotions etc.

What would you say it is your biggest musical accomplishment till now?

With no doubt, the fact that i was invited to play at Luminosity Beach Festival is my biggest musical accomplishment so far.

Which single track that you’ve produced had the biggest impact on your career?

Definitely 'Day To Remember' (w/ Suncatcher). The track is very special to me. Some people are still writing me about how much they love it.


How do you actually produce your music? Do your tracks tell a story? What is the inspiration behind your tracks?

Every track of mine tells a story and has some feelings in it. It's hard for me to tell how I actually produce my tracks... I just write the music based on how I feel in that moment.

Who influenced your work the most? Simple people, other artists, works, etc.

I'm mostly influenced by the great trance artists I grew up with. Daniel Kandi, Ferry Tayle, Suncatcher, Armin, Tiesto, Above & Beyond are just a few names. And of course there are other people in my life who influenced me, like the people I love.

What do you think makes a perfect track?

For me, every track that moves you, makes you cry or makes you feel in a certain way that you can't control, is a perfect track.

Have you ever experienced the creator’s block? And if yes, how did you snap out of it?

We all do. Usually when this happens to me, I try to find something else to do for a while.

Let’s go a bit into some technicalities: what’s your studio setup?

I don't have a fancy studio: a Behringer UMX-610 keyboard, a Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 soundcard, a pair of Audi Technica headphones, a decent PC and a 25" ultra wide monitor.

Favorite DAW?

The one i'm using: FL Studio.

Can you name your top 3 VSTs?

I'm working a lot with Sylenth1, Spire and Massive.

Sound banks or sound design? Which is the way to go?

Definitely sound design if you want to make your tracks to sound different and define to your own style. But with sound banks is more easier because the sounds are already equalised and it saves you time to focus more on producing.

What is the simplest advice you’d give to someone else that is starting this journey?

Work hard, practice, ask for feedback from experienced people and don't give up!

You favorite trance subgenre?

Uplifting, of course! But I also like Progressive, Chillout Trance and other subgenres.


Any favorite artists?

Yes, here they are: Suncatcher, Daniel Kandi, Ferry Tayle, Steve Allen, Daniel Skyver, Amir Hussain, Alex M.O.R.P.H., Ferry Corsten, Factor B, Arctic Moon, Gareth Emery, Driftmoon, Craig Connelly, Kaimo K, Mhammed El Alami, A.R.D.I., Dan Stone etc.

How is working with Suncatcher?

It's awesome! I love working with him! He's a great guy and a great producer and we're always on the same page when we are producing.

Any artist each trancer should definitely follow these days?

Factor B, Amir Hussain and Frank Waanders are just a few names that come to my mind right now. Great producers and I can't wait for some fresh stuff from them. Also to mention my Romanian trance producers friends: Suncatcher, Nikolauss, Starpicker, Bogdan Vix and Sundancer (which is going to have his first release soon).

Any new projects coming up? What can we expect from you in the next months?

Yes! Lots of new tracks, both originals and collabs, gigs, new musical project and some other surprises :D

How was the Romanian Trance Gathering party? What can you say about that night?

It was AWESOME. I always wanted to play in Bucharest. The crowd was very responsive and I have met some very nice people.

All the DJs impressed me there:

Skydreamer - Excellent warmup!
Sundancer - Very nice set!
Bogdan Vix - No words for this guy!
Nikolauss B2B Starpicker - Incredible back to back
George Andreas - Very nice and unexpected performance
Alkalin - Probably the best vinyl set i have listened in a while. This guy has the trance music in its veins. I have not seen yet a DJ more passionate about electronic music than this dude!

I cannot wait for the next Romanian Trance Gathering!

Congrats of becoming part of the Afterhills line up. What can we expect from you?

Thank you! I'm very happy to part of this amazing festival and i'm looking forward to play there! I promise a magical set wth lots of new tracks!

Another big achievement, maybe the greatest for a trance artist is to play at Luminosity Beach Festival. How was receiving this news to you? How did you got to be there? Anything special prepared for it?

Yes, definitely the greatest achievement for me so far! To be honest, when Bo wrote me and invited me to play, I almost cried haha. It was incredible to hear that the man behind Luminosity Beach Festival likes my work and wants me to play there. I promise to play there the set of my life!

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What do you think about the trance community - the fans?

As Armin (i think) said once: "Trance music has the best fans in the world", and I have to agree with him.

One thing I don't really like these days is the fact that the comunity is somehow divided by subgenres. I miss the old times when trance was trance, and people did not argue that much about which trance subgenre is "the best" or "the real trance", as you can see all the uplifting vs progressive vs psy "battles" these days.

And what about the trance community the DJs/ producers (the ones you encountered till now?

I didn't have the chance to meet to many producers. I promise to tell you after I get back from Lumi!

If you could change your place for one day with another artist, not necessarily trance artist, with whom would you change places and why?

Hmm...Chris Martin from Coldplay or Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters. Both great artists.

Hardest question of all: Can you tell me the top 10 trance tracks of all times?

Oh my..this is hard! Ok, these are some of my favorite tracks (but not in this particular order)

  1. Suncatcher - Are We There Yet
  2. Cold Blue & Del Mar - 11 Days (Sebastian Brandt Remix)
  3. Way Out West - Killa (Orkidea Remix)
  4. Simon Patterson - Brush Strokes
  5. Solarstone & JES - Like A Waterfall (Solarstone Pure Mix)
  6. Daniel Kandi & Ferry Tayle - Flying Blue
  7. Sean Tyas - Lift
  8. Skin - Faithfulness (Tiesto Remix)
  9. Above & Beyond - Home (Above & Beyond Club Mix)
  10. Ferry Corsten - Anahera

Do you have a message for our readers?

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview and THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for all the amazing support!

PS. Everyone has a hidden talent. What’s yours?

I can do funny impressions of people. Or at least I think they're funny haha.


Exolight– FacebookTwitter, Soundcloud 

Nikolauss: the #140 music man [Interviewing artists]

I did it! I finally did it! Interviewed Nikolauss for You already know he is very close to my heart and will forever be my life crush, but I had to do this too. Because he is also an artist, a very good trance producer, an amazing music man. His work in the past years sounds great and I am pretty sure his determination will lead him to a looot of good things. Without too much talking, here it is! I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

PS. Press play first. ;)

Hello Andrei! Where in the world is this interview catching you and what were you doing right before starting reading this?

Hi Oana! To be honest I wasn’t doing too much. Some Facebook scrolling, and then the Rome vs Liverpool match in the UCL semifinals.

Who is Nikolauss -the artist? How did it all started? The love for music, the producing, the DJing?

All this started long time ago, during high school. I had a couple of DJ friends at a local club and seeing them doing what they were doing and people enjoying it, I said “how would it be if I will do that myself, be in front of the crowd and lead them to madness’’ and that was it. Even my father in his early days was a DJ for local parties. I inherited the gene, the music gene from him. Music has always been a part of my life and will forever be. It took me through a lot. About producing it all started like every story: I installed FL studio out of curiosity, and I started to play around. I changed to Ableton 6 years ago and playing with samples, later with plugins and so on became more fun. I had a lot of fun experimenting. I think this is the best way to learn something. 

Who is Nikolauss in the day by day life? Beside producer, DJ, artist?

I’m just simple human being like everyone else. I am a  building services engineer by profession, but a musician by heart. Maybe musician is too much, but this is how it feels. I breathe it, I dream it, I feel it. I am also a friend, a boyfriend. I like simple things in life: playing soccer, boardgames, videogames, cycling, home cooked meals, stuff like that. 

Why Trance? What does this genre mean to you? How does it make you feel? 

It’s the most complex electronic music genre in my opinion. I love the feeling that this music gives me. Trance because it brought me such many friends, so much happiness,  including my love.

What would you say it is your biggest musical accomplishment till now?

Being part of the Afterhills lineup in my hometown. Having the opportunity to play in front of my family and my closest friends.

Which single track that you’ve produced had the biggest impact on your career?

Speedforce for sure. Seeing it played at Luminosity while it was raining pretty hard and people still dancing on it it’s a memory I will not forget too soon. It also had pretty much support from the biggest names in the trance scene. Special mentions to Obscurus and my #140 remix of GoRiel for Giueseppe Ottaviani and Sied Van Riel, for being played on ASOT this year. 

How do you actually produce your music? Do your tracks tell a story? What is the inspiration behind your tracks?

Well it depends on the mood, depends on how you feel that day or how inspired I am when i’m starting to work on them. Usually all my tracks tell a story. If you listened to them you can see that every track it’s unique in it’s own way. As for inspiration, it comes from simple things in life: while having a beer with your friends, while listening to others people music, or simply while doing a shower (happened to me once and it turned pretty good haha)

Who influenced your work the most? Simple people, other artists, works, etc.

One of the biggest influence in my tracks is Sean Tyas. I’m a huge fan of him. Also I couldn’t be here without the continuous feedback and help from my good friends and Extrema partners: Astuni and Manuel Le Saux. Beside that, I would give a shoutout to Darren Porter. I always loved his tracks and his style.

What do you think makes a perfect track?

I would call a track perfect, the track that when you listen to it over and over again and it still gives you shivers. 

Have you ever experienced the creator’s block? And if yes, how did you snap out of it?

Yes, it happend so many times. The only thing you can do to step out of it is to keep trying and trying and trying until something comes to your mind. Or you can try sound design or layering leads, bassline pads. Or you can listen the tracks you like and try to rework them. These are some things that worked for me. Also, taking a break sometimes works too. I usually take a break by playing a videogame, or hanging more with my friends, or my girlfriend. Remembering to relax is very important. 

Let’s go a bit into some technicalities: what’s your studio setup?

My studio hmm, dunno if i would call it a studio, its my bedroom haha. There is a pretty good PC, a Scarlett 2i2 soundcard and a pair of DT880Pro 250 ohm version of Beyerdynamic headphones. Bonus a 5.1 Genius soundsystem (i can call it studio monitors - NOT).

What is the simplest advice you’d give to someone else that is starting this journey?

There are plenty of tutorials on the internet so you can continuously improve your sound. Make comparisons with the tracks you like and the tracks of which sound you aim to have. Try reworking the tracks you like, see how they do it, try to do it yourself and compare the results.

You favorite trance subgenre?

Uplfting. 140 is the way :D

Any favorite artists?

Sean Tyas. I love this man music he’s also a nice guy. Manuel Le Saux and Astuni - love the work with these guys at Extrema, Darren Porter, Giuseppe Ottaviani.

Any artist each trancer should definitely follow these days?

I’ll give a big shoutout out to my best friend Starpicker. He’s a pretty good producer and he can write some nice melodies easily. Also Exolight & Suncatcher, they work well together and always you can expect nice tracks coming from them. More to mention, Matt Thomas aka Asteroid, Amos & Riot Night and Unbeat ( all his tracks are insane, you can’t expect less than quality from him)

Any new projects coming up? What can we expect from you in the next months?

Yep, lots of unreleased stuff, first of them its a remix coming on State Control at the begining of June and many more. Can’t say much now, but just keep an eye on my page for more info.

How was the Romanian Trance Gathering party? What can you say about that night? You had a very special b2b with Starpicker.

Well, this one was a bit special. Not only because I got to see again a lot of my trance friends, but also because of my B2B set with Starpicker. It was the first time we did this officially at an event and it worked pretty well. It was nice to see that people received it so well. They said we combined the melody of trance music with its power very good. I am looking forward to see what is in store for the Romanian Trance Family and I just only good things will happen for the community from now on. 

What can you tell us about your work with Starpicker? When can we actually hear something from you 2?

Hmm we’re struggling to finish something together for some time (more exactly since we know each other, how much could it be, like  6 years? or so.. too much time for sure) but, we finally finished something which i can’t say too much about it atm. Maybe I’ll give it a play at Afterhills, who knows :)

Congrats of becoming part of the Afterhills line up. What can we expect from you?

Thank you! Very excited about this. You can’t expect less than only good music. Not different than what I’m doing in my radio show and other shows. Expect the same story and energy I’m giving every time I play.

What do you think about the trance community?

What can i say. It’s a big family. You see familiar faces everywhere you go. You can never go wrong with meeting a trance fan and get along with him/ her. 

If you could change your place for one day with another artist, not necessarily trance artist, with whom would you change places and why?

I would go with Giuseppe Ottaviani. I want to experience all the things his doing during his live sets. I want to experience the mastermind he is. 

Hardest question of all: Can you tell me the top 10 trance tracks of all times?

  1. Will Atkinson - Numb The Pain
  2. John O' Callaghan - Stresstest (John Askew Remix)
  3. Gouryella - Ligaya
  4. Mauro Picotto - Lizard
  5. Armin van Buuren Feat. Cathy Burton - Rain
  6. Luminary - Amsterdam (Super 8 & Tab Remix)
  7. Jorn Van Deynhoven & Manuel Le Saux - Nardo
  8. Paul Webster feat. Amanda - Time (Sean Tyas Remix)
  9. Sean Tyas - Turbo
  10. Darren Porter - Spellbound

Do you have a message for our readers?

Thank you for supporting me and believing in my music.

Everyone has a hidden talent. What’s yours?

I’m pretty good at cooking :) [Oana here] I would say you're pretty good (excellent actually) at sleeping. :)


Follow Nikolauss on Social Media: FacebookTwitterInstagramSoundcloud.

Amir Hussain: Trance is not a casual thing. It's a lifestyle. Every person who loves trance music, makes it their life. [Interviewing artists]

This will be a long read. But a very good one. Amir Hussain is one of the most genuine people from the trance industry I met till now and he had a lot to say about it.

He made my day, when he recognized me at Luminosity and told me he likes my writing and work with I never in a million years I would have dreamed an artist I listen to and appreciate would come to me and tell me he knows me by my project.

I am grateful he accepted my invitation and for telling me all the stories: of who was he, how he started out, who is he now, challenge he came across, projects he is working on, people he appreciates and support and other tips and trick of the industry. Sit back and relax while reading this interview. And I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Who is Amir Hussain. When do you actually started music?

Amir Hussain used to be a student, a school student, from Bahrain, which is where I am from, a small country in the Middle East. I went to school there. And I wasn’t very good at school. I was playing games all the time. I used to play World of Warcraft back in the day, and this was my life back then. I would go to school, come back from school at 2 pm, 3 pm, and just play WoW, from the minute I was back, to the minute I had to sleep. Basically, through playing these games, I would watch on Youtube, compilations of people who make videos of the game and sometimes they would put trance music in the background. And I would listen to it. And I’d think: This is really nice! What is this music? And then, I would see the track names, I would look them out, I would listen to them and then I see other similar things. And at the time, I didn’t know it was called trance. For me, it was all, what they called Techno. Where I am from, this is just techno music. See, is this house music? No. It is techno. Trance? No. This is techno. As long as it goes like ntz ntz ntz ntz, it is techno. I didn’t know any better. I used to be one of those people. You know?

I remember when I first found out it is Trance music, and I remember the very first time I googled trance music. And I remember coming across that radio station, which was DI fm. And that is how I started listening to a lot of dance music, not just trance. But then, I figured out actually: trance was the one I listened to, the most. And basically, narrowed it down to listening only trance music. It was just trance. So, that is how I got to find out about Armin, Markus Schulz, you know, all the big names. And that is when my life started to change: from someone who was obsessed with gaming, to someone who was obsessed with trance music.

My intention was never really to produce music. My intention was to DJ. I thought: there is a lot of great music out there, what am I going to offer? There is a lot of good music anyway. This is amazing. And what’s a guy in Bahrain, gonna do anyway? So basically,  my first interest was DJing. And through DJing, I realised, you can’t actually do too much with Djing. I had moved to Uk and I started to go the events here, and meeting all these other producers. Some of them happened to be engineers as well, like sound engineers and with the little knowledge I already had about production, I had the opportunity to sit-down and work with these engineers and learn from them. This contributed to my knowledge about production to this day. For me, it was always about DJing. But because DJing, you can’t actually go too far with DJing if you do not release music, or produce music, that is how Amir Hussain started out.

Through working, and sitting with other producers, and learning from them, that is how I started releasing music and that is how I started to slowly improve my skills, not only in music production, but also in a lot of things. In social media, and knowing how to network, my social skills with people, etc, etc.

So, who is Amir in the day by day life? Beside producing music and Marketing and Public Relations graduate?

From a day to day life, I am still the same guy who got into this music. The 18, 19 years old kid from Bahrain, in his bedroom who got into trance music and thought it was the most amazing thing ever. I am still the same person. I do not view myself as different and to any fan or any person in the scene, because we share the same thing. In common. Our life is trance music. We both love trance music and it is our lifestyle. Trance is not a casual thing. Every person who loves trance music, is their life. I never met anyone who is casual about trance music. I don’t even know if that is a thing.

But me, in my daily life, I am a massive football fan. If you follow me on Instagram, you will also notice that I am a massive foodie. I like to eat, I like to cook. I like to try new restaurants, - probably not the best thing to weight gain. I like to travel. This is a nice perk of this job. That it gives you the opportunity to travel, to go to places that you’ve never been before.

I am just an outgoing chilled out guy, who enjoys making people laugh, make people happy and for me, if that is what trance does, with my sets or any music that I am releasing, that people listen with my name on it, then I am happy for that. Because, for me it is like sharing what makes me happy. And for them to be happy about it, it is like a 2 way thing. So for me, that is who I really am day to day. That is a nice summary of who I am as a person.

Do you ever regret taking the decision to move to another country?

No. In fact, my family actually told me: Amir you should go.

I do not know. Some people are too afraid to move away from their own country and they might not be able to live abroad. They may think they won’t be able to handle it. They might leave and they might see that this is too much, but for me, I already grew up into a westernised kind of life back in my home country. I used to speak English the same way I speak it today, fluently, I used to enjoy a lot of things from western culture, so moving here for me, was not a culture shock. It never was and it still isn’t. I visit my family at least once a year. Sometimes I miss it, but then I go back and I realise why I left in the first place. Some people see it a a brave big decision, it is, sure, but it was certainly not a struggle.

Do you wish to have moved somewhere else? In another country?

Well, tough one really. I had the chance to play in Australia, back in 2015 and I immediately fell in love with the place. I haven’t visited Canada yet, but I have family there. And Canada seems so interesting. All I hear about Canada is good things. So Canada, seems another interesting option that I probably may have or could’ve moved to. I’ve been to the US, twice as a tourist, twice to play as a DJ, also interesting country. So intriguing that is so different. Like I’ve been to 4 different states and each one is different from the other, or completely different from the other.

But, would I have preferred moving to another country than in the UK? I would say NO. Because 2 of my loves at the time, which I still have today, football and trance music are very massive in the uk. Europe has a massive trance scene, so I would not say I would’ve preferred to go to another country. I am happy with the decision I have come to the Uk. And since I am here, 90% of my friends are from here. Unfortunately, not in contact with many people back home. That’s what happens when you move away from home for so long.

What should be your biggest musical accomplishment when you look back till now?

Hmmmm. I’d say, for me quite a few. The first one that comes up in my head now, would be: I never in a million years imagined to go and visit Australia. Because it is too far. And it is too expensive to get there. A plane ticket to Australia is too expensive. But for me, to have someone to pay me to play there, and pay for my plane ticket to get there… I played a 3 cities tour. I played Sidney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

And the funny thing is, when I played Melbourne, the Melbourne gig wasn’t very crowded. Sidney gig was crowded. Melbourne gig, it wasn’t empty, but it wasn’t very crowded. The people that were there (around 50-60 people), really enjoyed my set and they told to one of the bigger promoters in Melbourne, that I was here and that they enjoyed my set. And the bigger promoter booked me to play the following weekend. This was not scheduled, this was no in the plan. For me this is a big accomplishment. It is a nice accomplishment. Not only that I impressed people enough to get a bigger promoter to book me while I was there, but that was one of my favourite gigs full stop. I think there were easily 500-600 people. It was packed. And I played the closing set and that was absolutely incredible.

Also, a massive accomplishment was to play Future Sound of Egypt 450 in October 2016, in Manchester at Victoria Warehouse. That was such a great gig. That was immense. I played back to back with Liam Wilson, really really great guy, underrated producer, a great DJ. That was a good one also.

Another accomplishment, I would say. It is probably an accomplishment that many DJs would say that they have. And that is coming across to the artists you looked up to you were listening as a fan and then them knowing who you are. For me that is an accomplishment. That is a great accomplishment. I was at the Amsterdam Dance Event in October 2017, and I had the chance to meet Armin. And to chat with him. And that was really lovely. Because he knew who I was. And he was telling me to keep up with the music and that he likes playing my music on the radio show. That was really nice to hear.

Even Markus Schulz, who doesn’t have a history of playing 138, 140 bpm. I met him at Luminosity last year and I told him: Hey, I am Amir. And he was like: Yeah. I know who you are. I listen to this faster stuff sometimes. I do appreciate that as well. And we were chatting and one year later I’ve just released a remix for him for Markus Schulz ft. Ethan Thompson - Love Me Like You Never Did.  For me that is an accomplishment. Because he was my first idol in the trance scene. Markus Schulz was my first ever, like GOD. And for me, to remix him, to get asked to remix for him that was a huge accomplishment. And for him to know who I was even more.

Which single track that you’ve produced had the biggest impact on your career?

The track that had the biggest impact on my career wasn’t an original track. It was a remix. It was a bootleg remix actually: Mat Zo - Lucky Strike. That remix was huge. It had a lot of support. People came up to me and told me how much they loved it more than any other track. And it really propelled me. 2015 was a great year for me. I played some really nice gigs in 2015 on the basis of Lucky Strike. That much it did well for me.


But as an original track, I would say it is a tie between Time Lapse on WAO138 and To the Lost on In Trance We Trust. Those had great impact for my career and also happen to be my 2 favourite originals. Third one is a track called Tylos, but those 2 are the greatest from me till now.

To the lost, came right after Lucky strike and that did also well. So it was like BOOM impact. And then Boom impact right after. So it was such a great start of the year for me in 2015. Many DJs played those tracks. It was great. And I need to hit those heights again. I need to something as good as that again. But it is not easy. No one is a constant hit making machine. It is impossible.

How do you actually produce your music? Do your tracks tell a story? What is the inspiration behind your tracks?

Some people say that inspiration comes from having a glass of wine, smoking a joint, going out and enjoying the sunset, walking in the park.. It’s none of these things for me. None.

For me, inspiration comes from listening to other tracks from now and in the past. And you’d think: Aye, that is a nice idea. Let me see if I can make something similar, but twist it to my own original idea. And that is my main source of inspiration. Sometimes I just wake up in the middle of the night I have an idea, and I record it on my phone, like I whistle it, or I’m like tu tu ru tu dumm, like an absolute idiot, and then I test it out.

What is funny for me, (I know I was mentioning food earlier), the idea to remix Lucky Strike it is a really funny story. Here it is how Amir Hussain got the idea to remix Lucky strike. Here it is how Amir Hussain got the idea to remix the track that did the biggest for him.

One day, I was having lunch. I was having lunch at KFC. I finished my meal and was walking out and then it just hit me out of nowhere: Mat Zo - Lucky Strike. Hey, that is a great track. That is a really good track. The melody is so good. Has anyone have remixed it? And I’ve went and I looked. And no one remixed it. And I thought to myself: You know what? This could do with a remix. Cuz’ that melody is huge. Maybe do an alternative version, with the main melody as the main section with a nice big lead and it worked. I do not know what it was. What was the inspiration. Was it fried chicken, or was it just me walking outside of the restaurant? I do not know. So, sometimes it is just random.

Sometimes, the tracks do tell a story. I can’t say every time a track has a story, because my life is not that interesting. I do not have that many stories. To the lost for example, was actually dedicated to my grandfather, who passed away, not long before that track. I had to dedicate something for him somehow. This track was going into a direction that I knew it was going to be one of my best ones.

Some tracks have stories. Some don’t.


What do you think makes a perfect track?

In trance, I would say a perfect track boils down to a very very important thing: a damn catchy good melody. Trance is all about the melody. And the emotions that the melody has. So if a track is so well produced, but it has no melody, then I can guarantee you it will be overlooked compared to a track that is not so well produced, but has an amazing melody. So that is the most important thing in a trance track I think: a good melody and obviously drive, a good drive, good base. And for me, I am a big sucker vocals, not like sung vocals, but like non spoken vocals. Like the vocal effects to hear in tracks. Like the aaa, uuu, all that kind of stuff.

I always have them in my productions and my main sections. Or even in the built up and in the breakdown, I love female vocals in my tracks.

So I would say those are the things that really make a trance track great. If people can feel the emotion, behind a good lovely catchy melody and associate with it, then with trance you’re onto a winner with that.

Have you ever experienced the creator’s block? And if yes, how did you snap out of it?

Yes. Many times. By continuing. And continuing and continuing and continuing. Until you snap out of it. Simple as that. I’ve had quite a few creative blocks across my career. That is actually a good question.

I remember the first time in 2013 (i think) or 2014, I did a bootleg of an Armin van Buuren track: Armin van Buuren - Rush Hour. I did a remix of that and Armin played that so many times. That track had a lot of good support. And it put my name on the map. But after that, for like maybe 4 or 5 months, I didn’t have anything as strong as Rush Hour. And it started getting to me. Like “mmm.. Ohh, have I peaked?” / “Can I ever be as good as that?”.

So that is the thing. And I continued. I continued until one day I decided “You know what? , Let me have fun with a track. I just wanna have fun with this track. I don’t want it to be uplifty, to be techy, I just wanted it to be Amir Hussain music. And that track was called Catharsis. It was signed to Monster Tunes. Basically, that track, when I finished it, I was in new Zealand. I was in New Zealand to see a friend. And I remember at 4 am 5 am in the morning my phone kept buzzing. It kept buzzing. It kept buzzing. I said: Ohh God! What is happening here? I hope everything is ok. And I wake up and I see that Armin played the track. And I was like : Oohh. Ok that is great. ok. I guess this is good. Maybe I am out of creative block now. Things have started to come back to normal. So that is why I always have a fond memory of that track. Because that was the first track that got me out of my first creative block in my music career.


But the key is to just not give up. Don’t give up! Some people get success quickly, some people get success over a lot period of time. Whether you get success or you don’t. You might never get success, sure. But you will never get to know if you give up. The point is to never give up. And to try and keep improving and to resist. And keep going and going and going. And that’s how you get out of it.

Do you ever get the “help me being a better producer” / “give me feedback on my track” requests

Yeah. A lot. I actually do not mind. But sometimes, I do not always have the time. And if I do have the time, I always give constructive criticism. Like if I like something, I will say why I like it. If I do not like it, I’ll say why I don’t like it. And I would say how I think it can improve, and  I will say like: look, this is not there yet. Or this is nearly there.

And I think all producers do. All DJs do. Even I do it sometimes. I always have specific people I ask. I do not ask random people. I ask specific people. I have specific people I ask. It is for example, like an engineer, like a studio engineer I’ve worked with, or if it is one of my producer friends or something. I do not ask anyone for feedback. Because some people are not in a position to give feedback. You know? So that’s the thing.

What is the simplest advice you’d give to someone fresh in the industry?

You have to be patient. Patience is going to pay off.  Be patient. And keep at it. And you need to develop 2 things to succeed in this industry: no. 1 patience. no. 2 thick skin. And what I mean:  you need to be mentally tough. Because you are going to get a lot of the time you can be overlooked, ignored, criticised, even bashed. Some people literally bash you. You know? Some people say : ohh.. this is rubbish. Ohh this is crap. Ohh this is bla bla bla bla bla. You have to learn to accept that. And just take it and move on. And be patient and learn from it. So that is my best advice for anyone new.

Any new projects coming up?

Yes. Quite a few for next year. I have a new tech trance original coming out which I’ve signed with Grotesque, and it is coming on a very big compilation, can’t reveal which yet.

I also have collaborations: one of the collaborations I’ve got coming up is with one of the new comers who is a favourite of mine, this guy called Leroy Moreno. He is from USA, he’s done a track with Paul Van Dyk on his album last year, sorry this year, and I really loved this guy’s melodies and vocal chops. So I heard this guy’s music and I thought wow I have never heard of this guy before, and he impressed me with one or two tracks. I got in touch with him and I said to him how much I like his music and proposed to work on a track together. And we finished it. Last year in December.

Also, I got a remix of a Christina Sotto track. I love her vocals. She used to do vocals with Tritonal back in the day. Those are 3 I can tell you about now. The rest is too early to tell.

Have you ever thought of releasing an album?

Yes I have. But, not in the near future. Not yet. Because, I still want to establish myself and my sound and my brand, at a higher level before I release an artist album. I do not want to release an artist album for the sake of releasing an artist album. I want to release an album at the right time for the right reasons.

So what is your favourite label? Trance label? And why? Off all time?

And why? Ok. Of all time? That’s easy. Coldharbour Recordings. Coldharbour has a special place in my heart. Some of the most amazing music that I’ve come across was on Coldharbour recordings. Remains to be my favorite label of trance music.

I am also a huge fan of Electronic Elements. It is not going anymore, it stopped I think around 2012. Electronic Elements was gold. They had some of the most amazing progressive trance from back in the early 2000s and mis 2000s.

Recently, I’ve really enjoyed a lot of stuff coming out on Digital Society, WAO138, Future Sound of Egypt.

Any upcomers we should watch out?

Yes. I already mentioned Leroy Moreno, but 2 others I really recommend who I think are underrated and I think they are going to have incredible careers:

1. Sam Laxton - huge hige fan fan of Sam Laxton, both as a person and as a producer. The guys is younger than me and he is smarter, and more talented, and better looking than me when I was his age.

2 Another one is my Spanish hermano a guy called Mike Sanders. Mike Sanders is a really talented guy.  Underrated, awesome productions. Really hope he develops more for him next year.

Who else? Niko. I do like Niko/ Nikolauss. He does some great stuff. He sent me 2 of his latest tracks the other days and I said: I am gonna play these as soon as I can. These are really great tracks. So shout out to Nikolauss, as well.

What do you think about the trance community in general?

The trance community, you mean, the trance community like the scene I operate in which is like the DJ’s and producers, and the promoters or are you talking about the fans?

Let’s talk about the fans first.

Ok. The fans. This is going from a DJ/ producers perspective. You have different kind of fans really. You have fans they really know their stuff. Some fans are so educated. And those are the fans every producer and DJ loves and wants. Those are the educated people that you know that you’re not gonna have to keep making the biggest amount of effort in terms of PR for, because they are already on the dot. But you also have other fans, who are biased. They are biased because they follow the name rather than the music. Because they follow the name even if the name can sometimes be average, they will still religiously follow the name. For what ever reason.

But the trance community is great. Honestly, my personal facebook it’s reached maximum capacity and 75 % of it are people that I not actually physically met. But they are my friends, more than people who I actually met. So, that tells you something.

For me that’s the trance community. That’s what it does. Trance music, it makes people friends even tough you haven’t met yet, and it is wonderful. I prefer to see them as friends, and of course.. the fact that they are fans.. is something I also appreciate.

In terms of DJs, well, the name of the game is respect. You give respect, you earn respect. I am close with some DJs, some other I am not. Some other I don’t really know them very well, or like our personalities clash but it doesn’t mean I do not respect them. You have to respect everyone. Because no one gets where they do just like that. Anyone who thinks that a producer can get lucky, or like say buy his way into success, or what ever, .. sorry for my language.. but that’s bullshit. For you to get somewhere, you’re doing something right. And that’s what many people fail to see. Just because you don’t see, it doesn’t mean that is not true. I have a respect and a relationship with as many names as possible, and I try to support as many of them as possible.

If you could change your place for one day with another artist, not necessarily trance artist, with whom would you change places?

I don’t know. Maybe, I would switch with Markus Schulz. For a day. Just so I can see his music library and see all the tracks I may have not come across from his library and I can go and listen to them. He has quite a nice lifestyle with the DJing.. so I’d like to switch with him for a day.

Can you tell the top 10 trance tracks of all times?

I am gonna tell you a top ten, but please don’t take this as a top ten in order. This is not in order.

No. 1 is number one. But the rest is not in order.

My favourite trance track of all time. The one that changed my life completely, completely, completely is Sean Tyas - Lift. This, for me is the greatest trance track of all times. It is fucking amazing. The melody, the acid, the breakdown, the lead. The melody itself the kind of melody where .. as anyone who remixes it they can’t make it sound too different to the original. Because the melody was meant for the synth lead that the original has.


  1. SeanTyas - Lift
  2. Simon Patterson - Us
  3. Armin van Buuren - Rush Hour
  4. Mat Zo - Lucky Strike
  5. Jochen Miller - Lost Connection
  6. Thomas Bronzwaer - Close Horizon (Giuseppe Ottaviani remix)
  7. Garry Heaney - Citation
  8. Jon O'Bir feat. Fisher - Found A Way (Joint Operations Centre Remix)
  9. Alex Monakhov - Roundabout (amazing progressive tune on Coldharbour)
  10. Markus Schossow under his Progresia alias - a track called Shelter.

Those are my top ten trance tracks of all time. I say this now, but maybe next year I might have a different opinion.

Everyone has a hidden talent. What’s yours?

I am a good goalkeeper. When I used to play football, I always played goalkeeper. Not because I was picked last. I actually was one of the first people to be picked on the team because I was that good of a goalkeeper. So yeah.l I guess that’s my hidden talent.

Do you still play?

No.. not much anymore now. I just watch it. I don’t play it anymore


I don’t know. I don’t have time. It’s more fun to watch. Easier to watch as well.

Do you have a message for our readers?

Of course. Thank you very much first of all. Thank you very much taking the time to read to this interview, to listen to the music that I am putting out, or the sets that I am mixing. Thank you very much for interacting with me on social media. Thank you very much for supporting me and the scene and the music. Thank you very much for help and support to get me where I am now. And I wish you guys all the best. May you be as happy as you can be this year and may I continuously be lucky enough to get your support over the remained of my career.


Photo credits: Martin Grant Photography, Steven Cunniffe Photography, Photo by Pedro.

Giuseppe Ottaviani: You need to produce good music, but you also need a little bit of luck in this industry [Interviewing artists]

Happy trancer is happy! I finally had the chance to meet THE music man, Giuseppe Ottaviani and have a proper chat with him. After years and years of listening to his music, I couldn't lose his return to Romania for Timeshift Bucharest Music Festival. It was a great honour to have this interview with him and it still is. I find the talk to be inspiring and it definitely made me think of the future and what I can do more about my love for trance music. He will forever be one of my very special music crushes.

I was lucky enough to see him setup all the hardware and prepare for his set, and to hear that yes for my interview. We went in a more quiet place and I enjoyed every minute of it. Even before I started asking all the questions, he answered to some of them. But we actually digged deeper, we talked about his background, his love for this music, his inspiration, his work and many more.

Giuseppe is a very kind and patient man. He took his time in answering my questions and he avoided none of them! I had fun, Giuseppe had fun. And the set he played that night is indeed a set to remember. Seeing him on the stage and his new Live 2.0, was something I will not forget too soon. I know this interview may seem long for some of you, but it is definitely worth it! Enjoy!

Who is Giuseppe Ottaviani and when did the idea of producing music first occur?

I think I started with trance music around 1996-1997. I started with all the gear, actually. Back in the day, only a computer, a laptop wasn’t enough. You needed a synthetizer, computer, mixer, other hardware and figure out how to connect all the stuff together.

Then I met new friends (Andrea and Jacopo) and we started to make music together. And ended up calling ourselves Nu NRG. We made this project back in 1998 and started releasing some tracks with a small Italian label. In 2000, we got signed to Paul Van Dyk’s label, Vandit, because one of those tracks was pretty good. (smilling) Finally. They liked it, asked for the license for Politics of Dancing 1 and yeah. That was it. We stayed in touch, got invited to play at Love Parade in 2002 and that was the starting point of my music career.

Easy (laughing). And lucky. You need to produce good music, but you also need a little bit of luck in this industry.

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How would you describe the day by day Giuseppe Ottaviani? How would you describe your life?

It is hard to split music from my private life. Because music is part of my private life. It is my hobby. It is my favorite hobby. And now because it is my job, it is actually taking a lot of time of my life. But normally I have a family. I have 2 kids. And I just do normal life. Normal dad life. I am family guy.

I also hang out with friends. When I can. Because it is not easy. Between my job and my family, it is not that easy to stay in touch with all the friends I want to. So I had to scale down the number of friends. Somehow. To the very very extremely absolutely close friends. (laughing)

It is like a day job for me. I used to make music during the night, before the kids. But this is not possible anymore. I just work on a simple day time schedule. Like a normal office guy. Finish around 6, spend time with my family, go out on weekend if I am free. Normal Family life.

My favorite question of all: Why trance? Why did you choose this music genre?

Because I am coming from classical music. I have about 9 years of classical piano education and classical music is the music I grew up with. Because that is the music my parents used to play all day long.

I have a weird background because I switched from classical music to pop music, to rock music and then eventually went into German techno music. Very minimal, dark and I used to love techno music. I still love it. But, back then I said ok. I love the beats, I love the energy but I am missing the melody from classical music. So, when Adagio for Strings by William Orbit came out I said: ok. Hold on. I like it. I really like this. Basically,  the remix of Ferry Corsten for Adagio for Strings brought me here. That was the track that made me slide. This is it. It just fits.

What should be your biggest musical accomplishment when you look back in the past till now?

Well, I made it here. (laughing) It is like 16 years since I am in this business. Which again it is not a business. It is a hobby. The best part is that I am not feeling like working. I am having fun. The best thing is that it’s been 16 years that I am not working. But I am getting paid. And this is quite nice.

Which single track that you’ve produced has had the greatest impact on your career?

I have 2 tracks. The first one is Dreamland, and it is together with NU NRG. That was the track that allowed us to be signed to Vandit, Paul’s label.

And then I have my first track as a solo artist, in 2005 which is called Linking People. That was the track, after we split up, the track that allowed me to stay within the Vandit Records family and that made my career. Because I had to start again. It was the starting point of my solo career.

How do you actually, produce your music? What is the inspiration behind your tracks?

Well, before at the very beginning, I didn’t had too many bookings of course. So I was just looking at the other big names, their gigs, looking at the crowd, and then I was inspired by the DJs, playing in front of such big number of people. And I was just pretending to be myself playing for the people and getting the inspiration to make music. Now when I finally have my crowd, I just go play, get inspired and make music the day after.

Do these tracks tell a story?

It is really made by inspiration. Depends on the party, the country, the crowd reaction. Everything. It does not necessarily tell a story, but it is about a particular moment of my life, in that particular place, with those particular people. Every track I do is linked to a certain place.

For example. 2 years ago I made Musica. And that track was born in San Bernandino, for Dreamstate. The first Dreamstate I ever played. And it is linked to that place. Linked to Dreamstate. And it will forever remind me of that very special moment.  I made another track on the plane going to Liverpool. And I called the track Liverpool. I played a rough demo at the event I had and it went great. I just told myself. Liverpool it is. And that was the track.

Do you ever experienced the creator’s block? And how did you snapped out of it?

No. (Laughing)..  I have an idea. I always start with a melody in my head. Especially with my new setup, I improvise in front of the crowd. If I hear a sound, it can be even a distortion, something that inspires me and let me hear a melody, I just play the melody and record it straight away. Even at home, whenever I hear something in my head, I go to the piano I have in my living room, hit record on my phone, play it and then listen to an older stage.

And it is always about getting inspiration from the outside. world. I was in Miami 3 years ago, one car passing by, with loud music (you know those cars with big stereos, very loud music coming out) and I heard a little piece of a melody which started looping in my mind. I do not even know what kind of music that was. I was just listening to this and it just started looping. And then I made a track for my Magenta album. Which is called Waterpark. So you know… It just happens.

We last saw you at Luminosity Beach Festival. And we enjoyed a lot your set, but also your Pure NRG set. How did you actually had the idea to play a part of the Lambada on the set?

(Laughing).. Well, it is summer time. We play at the beach. Let’s do something extremely stupid and play Lambada. And it was fun.

We prepared the set. We decided what are we gonna do, what are we gonna play and after a couple of glasses of wine, we just had a very interesting conversation:

Hey, what do you think if we play 30 seconds of Lambada?
Ahh. That will be nice. Yeah. Ok. Let’s do it.
You sure?
Yeah. Let’s do it.

That was the first and the last time we do something like that.

How do you prepare for a set? Together with Solarstone?

You know, with Pure NRG, we do not play like a normal dj set. We do not go on a fly. We need to select the tracks we want to play. The sequences we want to play. We need to know what are we going to play. We just decide we are going to play this and that. You are going to play the drums in that track., I will play the keyboard. We need to organize, to plan what are we going do.

How is it? Working with Solarstone?

It is cool. Whenever we make a track it is either me flying to his studio, or Rich flying to my studio. But definitely we spend time together in a studio.

I saw an interview about Prophecy being the first online track. Are you planning to do more? Because that sounds really good.

Thank you. But, Prophecy took us some time. Because working online it is not that easy. It doesn’t actually feel the same. Because music has to do a lot with feelings. And we didn’t really fell right working online, for some reason. Also, because we are friends, we hang out together. We spend time together and have a very good time. And we make more music. Almost, one track per day, when we work together.

I am not sure if I can ask you this. But what can you tell us about the Go on air label? We saw that the last Hot or Not compilation is actually the last one…

Yes. It is the last one. Because the Go on air radio show it is not a weekly show anymore. The new concept, the new Go on air show it is monthly one and it is a live recording of one of my gigs. So, there is no reason to release a Hot or Not anymore. Because Hot or Not was connected to the old radio show and it is like a talent selection of music. And it is not going to happen anymore. Something is changing. I can’t tell you, to be honest. But it is changing into a very interesting and good way.

Under a new name?


About the live 2.0 show… How do you prepare? The same flow as preparing with Rich?

No. That is the thing. I do not prepare. It is completely different than a Pure NRG set. I do not prepare with my live 2.0. because it is my music, of course, plus all the live improvisation I do on the stage. It is called improvisation. So, I do not prepare.

I just prepare the hardware part. I do the sound checking. But as soon as I jump on the stage we will see about the rest.

What would you say to someone new in the industry? To someone that just starts producing?

The quality should be at a certain level. It doesn’t need to be amazing. Because you can always fix something in post-production, with mastering and stuff. But it must be at a certain level. You can’t actually, pretend to produce music on your iphone headphones. It is not going to work.

But then, as a label owner. If you are a new one, and you want to grab some attention, do not send 10 demos at a time. Sometimes, I say something like: This one is nice. Ok. But not still there, and then he immediately sends me another one, and another one… and then another. Saying: I am really quick. I can do a track in one day.

No, you can’t. It is not that easy. You can’t do it in one day. Fix that, make sure you spent enough time on one single track and then send it.

I am looking for an idea, but it also has to be at a certain level. Because if you have a massive idea, but it sounds bad, that means you need to sign the track but also get someone who can remix the track. Which is not ok. It doesn’t show the skills of the producers. Because at some point if you want to invest in a producer, then the producer must be able to deliver a finished product. One time is ok to get a remixer. Second time, not really.

Any upcomers you actually know and support?

Well. One of them is here (showing at): Starpicker. I signed a track from him because it got a lot of votes on Hot or Not a year ago. And then I was like: ohhh, this should be a single release. But I had no free slots in the singles release, because I was planning all the other ones. I said ok. Let’s put it on the Hot or Not EP, and then suddenly Armin played it as Tune of the Week. And I was like: There you go...  After that, he reached me out for a second track and I said let’s do a single release this time. And it was good. And now I am just wait for the third one…

I know this is one of the hardest questions to ask someone. But can you tell me a top 3 trance tracks of all time?

1. Like I said, Adagio for Strings – William Orbit (Ferry Corsten Remix). This is the track that brought me here. That brought me into trance music.
2. Of course. There has to be Paul Van Dyk -For and Angel. Because it has to be. Seriously. That was the track from which I got the inspiration for that classic pluck sound that I am still using and that really influenced my sound, since ever.
3. And something more recent, I am really, but really in love with Ferry Corsten pres. Gouryella – Venera (Vee’s Theme). I even texted Ferry: Hey, remember me to give you a hug when we see eachother next time. Because it is an incredible melody. Definitely, one of my favorite Ferry’s productions.

Can we go to 5?

4. Aly & Fila with Ferry Tayle – Napoleon. – beautiful one.
5. A track that I am playing right now from 1996. Robert Miles – Red Zone. I know it is not Children. But it Is Red Zone, Part 1. A very beautiful melody for me.

With which artist, would you like to swap the places for one day if you could?

Neah. I wanna be myself. I do not care. Seriously. I like to get inspired by the others. I like to watch what others do. And I love to listen to what they do. But I want to do it in my own way.

What do you think about the trance community?

It is great. It is a real family all over the world. And it is a strong family. People think that is an underground thing. But it is not. It is a global movement. I am lucky enough to play all over the world and I can tell: the trance family. You can really feel it.

What do you think about the statement trance is having a big comeback?

It is true. (Laughing)… For comeback, it means it is getting more attention than before. Because it never left. But it is definitely, getting more attention. Thanks to a lot of factors. But also thanks to the americans pushing trance quite a lot now. A thing that it was impossible to imagine a couple of years ago. Personal opinion, is that Dreamstate is the best thing that happened to the trance music in the past 5 years, or even more.

P.S. Everyone has a hidden talent.

I can make an absolutely, great carbonara. Laughing…

THANK YOU, Giuseppe! Thank you for accepting the interview! Thank you for being such an amazing music man!

And thank you guys, for reading this till the very end. You all rock! Trance on!


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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 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:

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.

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!

  1. Gouryella – Tenshi (Ferry, Tiesto and Vangelis, three of my favorites in one track. Still love it!)
  2. Midway – Monkey Forest (Always loved Ralph's metallic sound. So much energy, and the theme is so simple yet so memorable)
  3. Mesh – Esthetic Visions (Love the theme!)
  4. 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!)
  5. 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!)
  6. 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.)
  7. 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).
  8. Push – Strange World (That theme is so simple yet so powerful. Love the chord changes!)
  9. Andain – Beautiful Things (One of the best produced trance tracks to date. A wonderful fusion of organic and digital. Great atmosphere, wonderful vocals)
  10. 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:

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!


Credit photo: Alan Donaldson @Luminosity Beach Festival.

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Special interview is special! I finally get to show you my interview with the amazing Darren Porter! I had a blast meeting him for the first time at Luminosity and after that grab a drink in Manchester at FSOE 450. I got really inspired after chatting with him, and even now, after a couple of months. Darren is the perfect person to snap you out of your blank/ gray zone. Just by telling about music, his passion he gives an energy and optimism like never before. He is and will always be one of my favorite artists and one of the biggest names in the trance scene.

As you already know, I am asking every artist I interview about a Top 10 Trance Tracks, so here it is Daren's top 10:

  1. Binary Finary - 1998 (Gouryella Remix)
  2. Gouryella - Gouryella
  3. Paul Oakenfold - Southern Sun (Original Mix)
  4. Rank 1 - Airwave
  5. Verchocha - Carte blanche
  6. System F - Out of the blue
  7. Gouryella - Walhalla
  8. Rank 1 - Awakening
  9. Robert Miles - Children
  10. Vincent De Moor - Fly away

Quite a top 10 to choose. Full of memories. Full of classics! What do you think about this top? Do you like it? What would you add to it?

I hope you guys enjoyed this interview as much as I did and don’t forget to follow Darren on Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, Beatport.

Also, huge, but huge thanks go to Copthorne Manchester for allowing me to do the interview there and for helping me with everything I needed.

Thank you guys for watching it and don’t forget to follow on Facebook, Youtube and Instagram, because lots of awesome things are going to happen. Trance on!

Short talk with Nick Parker

We're always trying to talk with trance producers and discover what triggers them to this genre and what makes them come with such beautiful tunes. We talked before with artists like Simon O'Shine, Manuel Le Saux, Alessandra Roncone, Emanuele Congeddu, but upcoming artists deserve a spot here too. This time we had a really nice chat with Nick Parker. Wanna know who is he and what he does? Check out this quick interview with him:

Let's start with the beginning. Who is Nick Parker - the artist? When the idea of producing music first crossed your mind?

Hello, first of all a big thank you for conducting this interview with me. I produce under the name Nick Parker. I believe we're all artists to some extent. What sets us apart is acting on it and going the extra mile. I developed a passion for uplifting trance after being introduced to it by a friend. It's hard to come up with a single moment that triggered the whole thing as much as it was a series of moments where I found myself capable of doing more than just listening. I wanted to express myself and Trance seemed like the perfect genre that translates my emotions.

Why trance? Why this music genre?

Trance is a very diverse genre that holds absolutely no limitations, you can pretty much jam any type of sound into it and it would fit. I had to go with Trance because despite it being melodic for the most part it can trigger all sorts of emotions and take you to whole different world, universe, galaxy, pretty much a ticket anywhere.

Who is Nick Parker in the day by day life? How would you describe your life?

I'm an Astrophysics student so my life is pretty much occupied with doing a lot of research. In my free time I produce music. If I had to describe my life i would probably say it's an endless search for answers.

How do you find inspiration for your tracks?

I'm often inspired by nature, previous or current life events if you find that link it becomes much easier to become expressive through melodies.

What influences you as an artist?

Pretty much everything. I learn from everyone involved in my genre, there are far too many inspiring people to look up to.

Which track had the biggest impact on your career till now?

I would say my latest release on Trancer Recordings ”Without You Now”, i've gotten a lot of positive feedback and support from very big names that I used to dream of being featured on their shows when I first started.

What are your plans for next year? Any upcoming gigs you can tell us about? Any special plans?

For now I'm committed to producing but I'm open for all ideas in the future. My plans are working with other producers and doing remixes as well. I have a few collaboration projects slowly coming to life so 2017 will be a very big year for me hopefully.

Top 10 trance tracks of all time?

In no particular order:

1. Andy Blueman - Time To Rest (Original Mix)
2. Mike Shiver - Morning Drive (Original Mix)
3. SYSTEM F - Out Of The Blue (Original Mix)
4. Afternova - Serenity ( Original Mix )
5. Luminary - Amsterdam (Super 8 & Tab Remix)
6. Aly & Fila - Key Of Life (Original Mix)
7. OceanLab Satellite (Original Above & Beyond Mix)
8. New World - Ushio (Emotional Intro Mix)
9. Aria - Dido (Armin Van Buuren's Universal Religion Remix)
10. Selu Vibra - Divine (Original Mix)

With which artist, would you like to swap the places for one day if you could?

It's gotta be Afternova, he is someone I've become very close to this year and he's truly a genius down to earth person with a lot of ideas and positive energy.

What do you think about the trance community?

It's a beautiful community and such a blessing to be a part of. I've met a lot of interesting people through the trance community that I can call friends.

Everyone has a hidden talent. What's yours?

I'm gonna go with being a good listener. I have a talent of bringing the best out of people i'm close to. It's no more a secret now.

We're reaching the end of this interview; do you have a message to our readers?

Thank you so much for reading and your continues support! Stay tuned for my upcoming release it will be worth it I promise. Thank you Oana for this interview and all the hard work you put into your interviews. You're doing a wonderful job!

Thank you Nick Parker, and you guys don't forget to follow him on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Beatport.

Also, always support your favorite artists and keep listening to this awesome music. Trance on!