The Origins, the Lives and the Aspirations of the next Trance Supergroup: Pure NRG

Pure NRG

This summer the trance world was brought to it’s knees when two of the most iconic names in the underground world of Trance performed together for their first time under the alias “Pure NRG”. As the beautiful melody of “Solarcoaster” swept across the Mandarine Tent in Buenos Aires, an angelic voice resonated across the arena. “I’m lost for words”… Never before had truer words been spoken. As Fadi of Aly & Fila said at the time, “This is trance history in the making”, and it was. Giuseppe Ottaviani And Rich Mowatt (Solarstone) truly did make trance history that day. These men have both cemented their names into the trance music hall of fame over the past two decades, and continually push the boundaries of the music that we are blessed to call our own. Join us as we explore the the foundation, the quirks, the imagination, and the vision of the next trance supergroup: Pure NRG.

 


TU: What is Pure NRG?

Solarstone: What is Pure NRG? Well, Giuseppe and I had a conversation about doing something together live. There’s sort of a DJ back-to-back thing going on right now, a bit of a trend – we thought we wanted to do something together but kind of take it to another level. That’s a bit of a cliché phrase obviously, but we wanted to take it to another level, so what we decided to do was write a bunch of new material, take some of our most well-known tracks and some obscure tracks as well, make new versions of those tracks together in the studio and then perform the whole thing live. It would be basically the way Giuseppe does but with two of us, so we’ve got kind of a mirror image of Giuseppe’s set up. So we’ve both got a Mac, a keyboard, a mini keyboard, and a controller. The main thing is that we play all the main lead riffs live but we are also free to improvise as well. We spent a week in the studio over in Italy and then another session of three days and we just blasted out ten tracks.

TU: That’s insane. Over a ten day span you accomplished all of that?

Solarstone: Yeah! So basically Pure NRG is kind of like – what does Giuseppe say? Musician-to-musician rather than back-to-back.

TU: I like that. Giuseppe, you’ve said in the past that you don’t feel comfortable performing as a DJ and you’d feel lost if you were asked to strictly do a DJ set, where as Solarstone is more used to doing that. Can you explain what it’s like performing with him on stage and what the process is when you are up there as a group?

Giuseppe: Well I mean I don’t feel comfortable playing as a DJ just for the reason that I used to be a DJ back in the day and I used to play with turntables and vinyls, and it was taking me at least one minute to beatmatch the tracks. That was a DJ job, selecting and mixing, so right now mixing is probably too easy and I’d get pretty bored just selecting music, then waiting for the next track, dancing around, and then wait for the next track again.

Pure NRG4

TU: It appears you like to keep busy!

Giuseppe: I never, professionally speaking, have never been a DJ, and I’ve always been playing live. I’m totally busy on stage, so this is how I feel comfortable with all of my stuff. It’s weird to say but I’m pretty shy so having the keyboard and all my stuff it’s kind of hiding from the big crowd, you know what I mean? I wouldn’t feel that comfortable if I had to stand there in front of thousands people just waiting for the next track to be mixed.

TU: I’ve always thought that was strange when you see people doing that, just looking at their crowd after they’ve mixed with nothing to do.

Giuseppe: Yeah I know, but I like to deliver the music from my equipment, from my keyboards and this is what we do as Pure NRG as well. We basically have a background music which is done in the studio of course and then we choose grooves, effects, and we play the main leads from the keyboards and build up the track, the full track, on stage. The great thing about performing live is that you can improvise and you can surprise yourself. This is what happened between me and Rich. This is something you cannot do if you play as a DJ because you play a track and that’s it.

TU: It certainly looked like you guys were having a lot of fun on stage!

Giuseppe: Yeah, and people feel when you’re having fun, and they have fun as well.

TU: I’m sure they feed off the energy!

Giuseppe: Yes, totally!

TU: So whose idea was it to fuse together the sounds of Solarstone and Giuseppe Ottaviani?

Solarstone: Actually I think it our manager Paula’s idea. We were on this Australian tour, doing the Stereosonic tour, and we had this kind of layover in Singapore where we stayed on this island called Sentosa, we were just sitting outside drinking cocktails. I wanted to perform live, and so did Giuseppe..

TU: And the cards just fell into play.

Solarstone: I’ve always liked the idea of performing live but I always sort of thought it would be quite boring… I mean, it isn’t boring when Giuseppe does it but I just don’t know… I just think the idea of performing live on my own didn’t really excite me. But the thought of doing it in a band with somebody else totally changes your whole perspective on it, because it is kind of exciting that you can bounce off of somebody else and there is a report between us, you know?

TU: When you first started getting into the scene did you do any live stuff with synths or anything like that?

Solarstone: Yeah, I mean in my first band called Emission back in 1989 to 2003 I sort of wrote and produced everything on this keyboard and then we had a guitarist and a singer. I would play a few bits and do background vocals and a bit of rapping (laughter)

TU: We have to hear that!

Solarstone: You will never hear it! There is a recording somewhere though, but you will NEVER hear it! And then of course there was The Federation band as well which I kind of performed live with too, and I’ve done a few bits playing bass and stuff. But this is the most live thing I have done so I was really nervous before the first show.

TU: And the biggest too! Obviously neither of you are strangers to performing as a group. Solarstone, prior to you turning into a solo artist, was a group. Similar situation with NU NRG. What are some things that you have learned in the past about being part of a group that you’ll be able to apply to Pure NRG? Past mistakes perhaps, life experiences, stuff like that.

Giuseppe: Well what I personally learned from all the past years performing live is… Get a Mac, don’t even think about playing with a PC! And also for me it was like going back 10 years when I was part of another duo called NU NRG. Such a weird feeling to be honest that made me quite nervous on stage, but super excited at the same time!

TU: Completely understandable.

Giuseppe: It’s that sort of feeling, you know? But after the show and everything went perfect I was really, really happy about the decision to make this new project with Rich. He’s the perfect partner on the stage because we can both play the keyboard, and it’s great, and above all, fun.

TU: And you, Rich?

Solarstone: That’s a good question actually, my experiences in my band and being part of a duo and being part of a trio and stuff? Well, it’s funny because Giuseppe is really, really easy to work with. I work really well with Orkidea too when we work together but with Giuseppe we don’t procrastinate. I think procrastination is part of the problem when you’re in a band in the studio because you can just spend hours and hours just experimenting and messing around and not coming up with anything, but with Pure NRG we had a real focus on what we wanted to do. I think some of the important lessons you learn being in a band is knowing where your boundaries are in terms of your relationship, you know? Me and Giuseppe are quite focused on the writing and producing and it doesn’t really go that much further than that yet. I don’t know him that well yet. However, having said that, I spent a week in his house with him and his family and that was great. I felt we became friends during that week.

TU: I was thinking you guys had known each other your whole lives the way that you act together on stage. Even behind the scenes you guys seem like really good friends.

Solarstone: We are I think. One of the guys from our company said he was really, really surprised that me and Giuseppe got along so well, he really wasn’t expecting it. But I find that Giuseppe is really easy going and he’s great in the studio. I mean he’s so fast in the studio. It’s really frustrating sometimes when – I mean I’ve been in acts before where I kind of did all the engineering and the other guys would come up with ideas, and I kind of felt like “Oh God, I’ve gotta do everything”, whereas with Giuseppe we can kind of both do it. We use the same software as well, we both use Cubase so it’s quite easy to, you know, just sit in the chair, do some work while the other one works on music and then we can just swap.

TU: It certainly helps that you’re entering as successful solo artists. You’ve been around and you’re not new to the game.

Solarstone: I’m thankful to the fact that we have both been around for such a long time, we both have experience in the industry, there’s no bullshit or ego problems at all, you know, we’re not out there to impress each other or anybody else. We just want to make good music, have fun and do something positive, something genuine, you know? I mean, in terms of the music that we produce it’s kind of like – there’s no pretension there, we’re not trying to do anything clever, we just want to do what we do in a new way and play it live so people experience it different every time. One of the things about the Pure NRG shows is that the intention is for every show to be quite different to the last. When you’re a DJ you can turn up and play the same set over and over again but with Pure NRG we kind of want every show to be unique. You’re never going to hear the music that we play at a Pure NRG show anywhere else. I’ve never even played the tracks in my sets, though I’ve wanted to. We want to. I mean, we probably will eventually once we have released a single. We have produced three brand new tracks and we thought about including them on compilations we are working on but we have decided we wanted to make a big splash with the first one. There’s three new tracks: Fusion, Ghost and Secret of the Sahara, which is more of a sort of a cover version of an Ennio Morricone track.

TU: There’s a riff from the melody from Fusion that’s also taken from a track called “England“, right?

Solarstone: Yes it’s a track called “England” by The National. It was also used on the MacBook Air commercial!

TU: Oh that’s why we recognized it when we heard it during the Pure NRG set in Buenos Aires!

Solarstone: As Solarstone I try to write my own stuff, but of course sometimes inadvertently I use something that someone else did. But with Pure NRG we are really upfront about the fact that we are going to do a track based on a sample of somebody else’s track because it’s about a live show. We also did a remix based on the track “Isolated System” by Muse. It was the last track we played in our set in Buenos Aires.

TU: You can’t go wrong with Muse. What’s the next year look like for Pure NRG?

Solarstone: Well we are trying to keep the shows to only festivals and big events. We don’t want to go down the club route because we want it to be something special. The stage concept doesn’t really work in a club, there isn’t enough room for it. We want to keep the number of shows down to a minimum just to really keep an interest in the shows because it is also in addition to my stuff and Giuseppe’s stuff, we don’t want to replace it. As soon as we announced it we had so many promoters asking us to do it but that isn’t what we want with Pure NRG. We’ve even had promoters asking at events we were both performing at whether we’ll perform as Pure NRG, and we just can’t. It really is strictly a live-stage type thing. It’s not quite the same as us doing our DJ gig. Although I did a new version of one of my old tracks, “Destination”, and I really wanted to play that out in my sets but I won’t do it yet… If it comes out as a single then maybe.

(Solarstone looks at his manager, Paula)

Solarstone: (Laughter) I’m not allowed. The whole point of Pure NRG is that it is all about exclusivity. You won’t hear the songs in my sets, and you won’t hear them in Giuseppe’s sets, you want to go see Pure NRG to hear Pure NRG.

TU: I certainly like it like that.

Solarstone: It’s true. It keeps it special right?

TU: Absolutely.

Solarstone: I mean we might only do it for a year or two years, it really depends how it gets around.

TU: It seems like you have a good flow, and you’re already getting a pretty big following on social media. It’s exciting. there isn’t really a duo that performs live at the moment like you do. I mean, there are duos like New World Punx and Aly and Fila, but they strictly play DJ sets.

Solarstone: One of the great things about Pure NRG is that we can make mistakes. I was so nervous about making mistakes that after the gig I was kind of glad I did!

TU: Well, if you did, we didn’t notice!

Solarstone: You should listen to it again (laughter).

TU: When we were talking to you in Montreal you were saying that you could never see yourself performing live on stage the way that Giuseppe does. Six months later here you are performing as Pure NRG at Future Sounds of Egypt, one of the biggest trance events in the world. How was that, performing live?

Solarstone: Yeah, it’s funny how that is. I was nervous and Giuseppe was nervous too. It was the first time I had performed live-live in years. It isn’t just playing the keyboard, I mean there’s so many things you have to do. Well, actually it is less complicated than I thought when I used to watch Giuseppe, you know? There were a few problems like being able to actually hear what I was doing properly because I was using in-ear headphones for the first time ever, and being able to hear what I was doing and all that kind of stuff, it went so quick. So I had a lot of problems but I was glad at the end because I know what to expect now, so the next one I should enjoy it more. I didn’t even notice the crowd really. I said to Giuseppe “Do you think they liked it?” because when you use in-ears you can’t really hear much. And then I heard the recording – and the crowd – I was like “Oh my god!”

TU: They were going ballistic. You could just tell the energy was insane there listening to it. What was your favourite Future Sounds of Egypt?

Solarstone: Buenos Aires [as Pure NRG]. I enjoyed New York as well [as Solarstone].

TU: What challenges do you face as a group that you don’t think you’d face otherwise solo?

Giuseppe: I mean as I said before we really keep focused on our solo careers anyway. This is going to be an exclusive. We aren’t going to overdo it with Pure NRG. You won’t see Pure NRG performing every single week. That we do on our own right now. But it’s a great addition to our project. It’s something different, it’s something… we always like to make revisions… to work around different stuff. Just like music, even DJing, performing, it can be you know, different in a way. And Pure NRG is the way we make this thing different.

Solarstone: I don’t think it is that different actually. I mean, it’s a little more work, but it’s also something completely different. The whole experience of going over to Giuseppe’s place for a week and working in the studio with him, I mean I’ve not done that ever. We announced the first gig before we had done any music.

TU: I guess you could tell pretty quickly that you guys were connecting well enough to make this happen.

Solarstone: We told Fadi about it in Miami and he was like “Yeah, I want to have it”! We announced we were doing it and we hadn’t even made a single note.

Paula (manager): The second gig was even confirmed at that point.

Solarstone: We kind of knew what we were going to do. I mean it could have been a disaster. I could’ve gone over to Giuseppe’s and we could’ve been shit. We could’ve not got along, you know? It was so easy though. We would do a bit of work and then we’d cycle off down to his bar and have a coffee and play with the kids. His wife’s an amazing cook. It was really cool. I think also, what you said before about challenges, we are in a different position now to the one that Giuseppe was in with NU NRG and the one I was in with Solarstone when there was more than one member. We were trying to become successful and we weren’t sure whether it was going to work; we were trying to get a record deal. It’s a completely different thing with Pure NRG because we are going in at a really high level, you know? I would compare the way I felt before the first pure NRG gig to the way I felt to my first ever solo Solarstone DJ gig. My first Solarstone DJ gig was at Gatecrasher with Paul Van Dyk and I had never played in a club before. So it was kind of crazy. I probably wasn’t as apprehensive about the Pure NRG gig but going in at a high level with Pure NRG you haven’t got any of that other stuff that new acts have to deal with – trying to impress people, wondering if there is going to be any press there, wondering if there is going to be any people at all there. I mean our first show we played in front of 8,000 people and there was a live broadcast.

TU: Impressive!

Solarstone: Yeah, we probably shouldn’t have done that (laughter). We basically gave away our entire musical catalog in an hour that we had been working on because it was all over the internet. Like I said, it is going to be different every time.

TU: It was so unique. It seemed like you guys had the set of the night to be honest. That being said, we might be a little biased towards you guys.

Solarstone: Well I think it was very unique.

TU: Do you guys do live mash ups or is it all planned out?

Solarstone: No not this time, everything was planned out. Actually I don’t think we would do something like that.

Paula: It’s impossible because all the music needs to be loaded into the computer systems. The good thing is though, even if they have a mashup, every show that mashup can be played differently because they can improvise.

Solarstone: It’s not just about the tracks you play, it’s also about the transition between those tracks. I mean we didn’t do this at the gig but when we were in the studio we were just going through one track to another, and Giuseppe looped something in, and then I started playing a melody completely off the top of my head- he started playing some chords with a bassline and we came up with this completely new track. It wasn’t recorded or anything and neither of us remember what we did, but the fact that we can do that is awesome. I’m not sure how it is going to work at the next show because I have no idea what is going to happen, but there is no reason that we can’t improvise. We’d probably fuck it up as well, but oh well!

TU: You absolutely could! I think it’s pretty cool that you are stepping out of the bounds of the traditional DJ concept.

Solarstone: One of the good things about the set-up is it’s always going to be synchronized; things are never going to go out of time no matter what we do. So that really helps a lot. I mean, at the Buenos Aires show I think I mixed the same record back into itself and I queued up the next track and it was the same one that we were playing and Giuseppe looks at me and is like “we’ve just done this one” and I was like “Oh fuck! We have!” (laughter).

TU: At least you can make those mistakes! I think the only people who are really analyzing what you are doing are the people who are standing on stage around you.

Solarstone: My manager, Paula would always tell me, “Rich, you know what you are going to play and what you are going to do – they don’t know.”

Solarstone: I like the fact that with my DJing you can go slightly wrong. I mean a lot of DJs who use Traktor and Ableton and stuff, everything is going to be exactly precise, nothing is going to be even slightly out of place. But when I mix I like to, you know, do all the beat matching live and stuff because when it slightly drifts I think people like that because you know the guy is actually doing something. As long as you are not train-wrecking of course, if it just slips I don’t think people mind that.

TU: It’s good to see that the person behind the decks are actually working. There is so much controversy about pre-recorded sets and people who aren’t really putting in the amount of work that they should be.

Solarstone: They actually are talking about how it isn’t about a DJ set, it’s about a massive show with pyrotechnics and the whole thing is probably synchronized.

TU: That was one of the things that I believe Guetta was saying, he had to play a partly pre-recorded set because it was all synchronized with the pyrotechnics at Tomorrowland a few years ago.

Paula (manager): That isn’t completely true because there is technology now-a-days that, for example, New World Punx used that was timed software, and they don’t use pre-recorded sets. It’s just the track itself they need to keep very strict on the time-coding but that doesn’t mean you can’t play around with the track order or whatever. But a few years ago you weren’t able to time everything. That’s the whole point now though, the whole show concept, the show elements has become more important than the musical concept.

Solarstone: Yeah, I don’t like that.

TU: It’s getting lost in translation, that’s for sure.

Solarstone: It’s also the difference between playing a festival and a club though because if you’re playing a big festival and you’re playing for an hour you can’t really take the crowd on a journey. You kind of play what they expect. But when you’re in a club if the crowd isn’t feeling what you are playing you gotta be to change what you’re playing, and if it’s pre-recorded you’re fucked. I’ve played with other DJs where you can see the tracks lined up. I did a gig with one guy a few years ago, a really big name, he had just started using Ableton, and I went on and I saw his computer and he had the tracks laid out in a sequence. And I looked and I thought, “What are you going to do if they don’t like it?” And all he was doing was switching the bass in cue. It’s like, “Jesus fucking Christ, man!”

TU: That’s embarrassing. John 00 Fleming has said in the past that the majority of your job as a DJ is reading the crowd; it isn’t about what you want to hear, it is never about what you want to hear, it’s about what they want to hear and what sounds best for that exact moment on the dance floor.

Solarstone: Yeah, sometimes you can really surprise yourself as well. You know you might play something with breaks in it or something, well actually I don’t do that anymore (laughter), and then you find the crowd really loved it and you’re like ,“Oh shit, I haven’t got any more tracks with breaks in it!”

TU: Tapio (Orkidea) brought in a little bit of breaks during his last set at Toika, actually!

Solarstone: Well I mean, Tapio is like the DJs DJ. You know? He’s like the Danny Tenaglia of trance.

TU: I’m sure he’d love to hear you say that!

TU: What unique characteristics does Giuseppe bring to the table that draws you to him as a DJ or producer?

Solarstone: He makes an excellent carbonara (laughter). He’s also really good at finding the melody. When I work with Giuseppe I kind of come up with something and he’ll just come up with that little thing. He’s quite good with major chord progressions, major melodies I think. I don’t know, it’s hard to say. I haven’t really worked with too many people. He brings a tougher thing to the table, a tougher aspect to the music compared to my style. And he also keeps things simple. When we were writing the stuff he would say “Okay that’s enough” and meanwhile I wanted to add another layer, and he would say “There’s no point”. The stuff we played was very, very stripped down. That’s probably why I started playing extra bits over the top (laughter). But I mean he’s right. When you’re performing live the clarity has got to be there. You’ve basically got a baseline, some chords and a riff and there isn’t room for anything else. Whereas I’d probably add another couple of layers.

TU: The less is more mentality?

Solarstone: Definitely. And I like that because it also makes it a little bit easier. Well, I won’t say it makes it easier but I guess you’ve got to be completely happy with the bits that you’ve got, right?

TU: and you, Giuseppe? What makes you want to perform with Rich as part of Pure NRG?

Giuseppe: Well, as I said Rich is great at the keyboard and a really fun guy. On top of that, he’s a great candidate because Pure NRG performs proper trance. Mainly uplifting trance… it isn’t going to be slower bpm. It’s definitely 136 – 140. It really depends how we feel at the moment. I like that we can work on exclusive music we make strictly for the project. Even if it’s a rework or remix, for example, we did a remix of London Grammar’s Strong and that’s exclusively made for Pure NRG. All the music we make and perform is going to be exclusively new for the projects. That’s the most important thing, so you will hear that music strictly when we play as Pure NRG. And not in any other sets.

TU: It’s going to be a truly unique experience every time we see you, and I can definitely see how Solarstone’s uplifting side would be desirable to have as a partner. Which label are we to expect the original releases to come out on? Black hole?

Giuseppe: Together it’s going to be on Black hole. Pure trance label from Solarstone is on Black Hole. GO on air label, my label, is on Black Hole. And when we make our own releases it will be on our own label but when it comes to a big release for Pure NRG which it means we are both together it makes sense to be neutral and release it on Black Hole, the main label.

 

TU: Giuseppe, Rich, we thank you for the bottom of our hearts for this interview. We’ve just got one last little part that your wonderful manager gave us the idea for! It will help showcase the similarities (and differences) between the two of you. Your answers will be completely unbeknownst to one of the other. Try to make the answers as quick as possible!

The Brains behind Pure NRG is?

  • S: Our manager, Paula.
  • G: Musically speaking, absolutely both of us.

The biggest city in the world for trance right now is?

  • S: What a question… I don’t think there is one.
  • G: Buenos Aires!

What’s more important, break-down or release?

  • S: Release.
  • G: A beautiful and dreamy breakdown.

What event does Pure NRG want to play at the most in the next year?

  • S: Glastonbury.
  • G: Tomorrowland!

What’s the best time slot?

  • S: As a DJ? Peak time. When everybody’s “ready” (laughs). It depends on the line up. A lot of the time the order of the DJs and the times is determined by the egos of the DJs and the demands of the managers. Especially at festivals.
  • G: It really depends in which country you play.

Two hour set or four hour set?

  • S: Two.
  • G: I’m a live performer so I go for 2 hours max.

Biggest disappointment in the world of trance was…

  • S: I don’t think there is one. I think there is just a natural progression of things. Sorry for such a boring answer (laughter)
  • G: Tiesto.

Number one electronic music inspiration?

  • S: For me, Petshop Boys.
  • G: Paul van Dyk.

Who made more of an impact on trance: Paul Van Dyk or Tiesto

  • S: Paul Van Dyk, for me. I had this trance Europe express quadruple vinyl album in the very early 90s with a Paul Van Dyk track on it and I think out of all the acts that were on that album he is the only one who’s still releasing music.
  • G: Objectively Tiesto, subjectively PVD.

Fastest rising trance DJ right now is?

  • S: Trance DJ? Bryan Kearney.
  • G: Aly & Fila are rising to the next level.

Who should we look out for?

  • S: Orkidea!
  • G: PureNRG, I’ve heard great things about the guys!

Biggest year for trance was?

  • S: 2014!
  • G: 2004. A trance DJ at the Olympics was incredible!

What’ should the world know about Pure NRG that we otherwise might not know?

  • S: That it’s fueled by espressos
  • G: Pure NRG acts like a duo, but it’s a trio in reality.

TU: Do you have anything to say to your fans as Pure NRG?

“Thanks for being open to something new!”

Giuseppe, Solarstone, We sincerely thank you both for giving us the opportunity to interview you guys as Pure NRG. Trance United appreciates everything you guys do for the scene. We absolutely need guys like you to keep the underground alive. I’d also like to give a special shot out to a certain unsung hero who does a ton of work behind the scenes and has brought to light many influential trance artists over the past decade. Paula, please keep up the incredible work as well, and thank you for everything you do.

Pure NRG: Soundcloud Facebook Twitter

Solarstone: Soundcloud Facebook Twitter

Giuseppe Ottaviani: Soundcloud Facebook Twitter

Headfuck Guru Ben Nicky on His Brand, the Future of Trance, and How the Scene is Different in the US/Canada

Bennicky

On September 18th, the beautiful city of Tampa Bay, Florida was treated to a rare U.S. show by the trance scene’s badboy, Ben Nicky.

The event, which was made possible by Eyewitness Entertainment and Solar Power Group, took place at the illustrious Kennedy for their weekly Icon Thursdays.

Trance United was fortunate enough to sit down with the “Headfuck” brand boss just before his set to chat about his summer of touring, how the trance scene is different in the U.S and Canada, and his upcoming projects among many other things.

Trance United (TU): This past year you have done massive amounts of touring: From LA to Ibiza and Australia to Florida, with some huge festivals/events mixed in (Luminosity, Nature One, Creamfields, etc.), which events were your favorite and why?

Ben Nicky (BN): If I had to pick one, it would be The Crown in Melbourne. Reason being it was only like 3,000 people, but literally every person had ‘HeadFuck’ merchandising on (which is my brand) and were going off to every tune. I have played festivals with 10-20 thousand people, but to me it’s more about the vibe and the passion. That’s my favorite gig this year but I’ve done so many good gigs this year. I couldn’t even count on two hands the amount of life-changing gigs I’ve done. But for me, that one in Melbourne was really, really good.

TU: Your tour included Ibiza, how was that?

BN: I have done Ibiza six years in a row so it’s sort of like a heritage to go and do that as an English DJ. But I’ve done [almost] every continent now and for me it’s now about exploring new places and expanding my name and my brand. I don’t care what country it is, how to get there, or how long it takes me to get there, as long as the place is good  - that’s all that matters to me.

TU: With all that touring, you have probably seen how diverse the trance music scene is all over the world. In your opinion, how is it different in the US/Canada compared to other places?

BN: First of all the clothing is very different [laughs]. Everyone in America wears this ‘kandi’ stuff and fluffy boots and stuff which happened in England like 10-20 years ago. There is a lot more of an EDM hype in America with the big names such as Steve Aoki, Hardwell, W&W who are massive here. They’re on the television a lot more. There are a lot more kids here that are into EDM here (I hate that term, but yeah, EDM). The 140 scene here isn’t quite as big but you have your regular 140 guys now that are pushing it (say like Simon Patterson, myself, Bryan Kearney, Indecent Noise, and Jordan Suckley) who are sort of at the forefront of the scene right now in America. I missed Aly & Fila as well, they are huge here. I think now there is a new wave of trance coming here, psytrance is getting huge here right now, in LA specifically.

TU: How about in Canada?

BN: I’ve only ever done three shows in Canada. I’m actually performing there tomorrow as well (Sept 19, 2014). Cananda’s quite a tough territory to crack. There are only certain names that work there. Luckily I am one of them that have sort of started to play there a bit more. It’s hard for me to comment on the market though because I’ve only played there three times. But I love Canada, its good fun and the girls are hot there as well [laughs].

TU: Where do you see trance music moving in the next 5-10 years?

BN: It’s hard to really comment. Everything goes around in circles. At the moment in England, deep house is massive, so like Disclosure, Duke Dumont, MK…these names are huge. I hope trance goes back to mainstream in a way because I think I’m at the forefront of that in my scene so maybe I’ll earn a bit more money if that does happen. But its not about selling out or being commercial for me. It’s about awareness and if I can play trance to more people and I can get more exposure in the next five years, that’s all I want. I think ‘selling out’ is changing your sound to make more money but if you stay in your sound and become bigger/the genre gets bigger, in my opinion that’s awesome.

TU: So what are your thoughts in regards to artists like Armin [van Buuren] who, when he plays main stage at a big festival, plays a more commercial style then when he plays at his solo/Armin Only shows?

BN: I understand. Armin’s a businessman. I would probably do the same. I do when I play in Asia or like Eastern Europe, where the money is really good. If you get offered a lot of money to play a show, say after Calvin Harris (like I did the other month), you have to play a bit slower. When it pays your bills and your mortgage, you’re not going to turn it down. I play for the crowd and sometimes you do have to play a bit slower. Ultimately I wouldn’t play EDM, I would probably play some techno and some cooler stuff, but I respect Armin. He is a very clever businessman. He gets a lot of stick from people for playing EDM but it’s his own choice. Everyone has their own career and their own path and I’m not one to comment. I don’t think people who throw cakes at people for their career are really good DJ’s but Armin knows how to mix and make good music. He does play 140 as well.

TU: Yes he has done a lot for the trance community.

BN: Yeah, at the end of the day, if young kids listen to his “This is What it Feels Like” track and don’t know about trance, they then might start listening to his radio show, and then listen to people like myself! In my eyes, he is helping people coming into the scene.

TU: Your IG followers were treated to a photo of you in Ian Standerwick’s studio. Does this mean a possible collaboration is in the works?

BN: Yeah we just signed it to Who’s Afraid of 138 label actually. I’m normally a Vandit boy. Paul van Dyk is my boy and I sign everything with him. But it was a bit too “psy-y” for that label so we went with WAO138, whom I think suited it perfectly. I genuinely think, hands down, that its one of the biggest uplifters of the year. Absolutely HUGE! Ian was nearly crying over it. I’m serious. The break down is so emotional…it deserves to be a big track. We put our heart and soul into it.

Follow @BenNicky on Instagram

TU: Well we are looking forward to it! What other projects are you currently working on?

BN: Yeah I just finished a remix of Paul van Dyk. I just did a collaboration with Paul van Dyk for his new ‘Politics of Dancing’ album, which I shouldn’t talk about but, I saw he announced it a few times elsewhere. I can’t really tell you anything more about it. I did a single with Sue MacClaren, which comes out in a few months, which I will play tonight…really big track. Basically I’m just going down the vocal route. All I want to do is vocals. Like my “Braveheart” track in every set I play just goes off man and its what people remember.

TU: The “Headfuck” brand has become a household name in the trance community. Fans are using it as a noun, “Still buzzing from last night’s HeadF**K” and as a verb “Time to get headfucked.” What was your inspiration for the idea behind Headf**k?

BN: You know without that word I wouldn’t be sitting here right now. I had an alright career as a DJ before, but I was just another average DJ…just touring. I just sat there one day and I made a mash-up of Porter Robinson’s “Language.” I put about seven or eight tracks mashed together and I though that’s not a mash-up. It’s weird…a bit of a fucked up thing and I just called it a “Headfuck.” So I sent it to Armin and I thought he’s never going to play a thing called “Headfuck.” It’s the worst swear word, and didn’t think he would ever play it…and he played it! From then on everyone just started saying “Headfuck.” So I thought I better make some more Headfucks.

Now people know me more for that name than probably my own name. The brand is fucking huge…it’s a very strong brand and a lot of my touring comes from the back of it, and I don’t want it to get cheesy or corny so I am quite careful with it. But Headfuck represents me; I am a bit crazy, a bit different. I don’t really care what people think of me. I am a bit outspoken and controversial but that’s me and Headfuck represents me and that makes me happy and I can be myself.

People like Paul van Dyk…at first I thought it may insult people like that, like you know when I work for someone on their label when I’ve got such a controversial brand, but he’s been really supportive and he’s behind me 100% with my brand. As long as we don’t “troll” people or say horrible things about people that don’t deserve it (which I am not about anyway). Headfuck is about just being a bit crazy and different and about having fun and the fact that my idol supports all that is good to me.

TU: What other hobbies do you have besides DJ’ing/Producing?

BN: I don’t get much time to myself as you can probably imagine. I am always fucking flying and in hotels. I like girls…I like meeting girls [laughs]. Not in like a sleezy way. I like to socialize, go out, and meet people. I love the gym. I am in the gym all the time. When I am home, I like spending time with my friends. And in general I am quite a homely person; I like to see my family as much as I can and walk my dogs on the beach. Underneath it, I am quite a normal guy behind the Headfuck brand. Obviously I am quite crazy when it comes to work, but when I am at home I like to just sort of relax, eat healthy, go to the gym, and I don’t really party when I am home. I party so much for my job that I like to have a normal life as well.

TU: What is your favorite trance album of all time?

BN: I’ll be honest with you, I don’t listen to any trance albums! That’s a hard question for me.

TU: Not even when you were going up?

BN: Above and Beyond. All the Oceanlab stuff like “Clear Blue Water,” “Sirens of the Sea,” and “Miracle.” Above and Beyond “Alone Tonight” and all that sort of stuff.

TU: So a lot of Above and Beyond?

BN: Yeah Above and Beyond were my influences massively…still are now. But album wise, I’ve already been asked to do an album next year and I’m not too sure if I want to do one or not. I don’t think it does much for your career. I think people forget about them in a week. They download it off Pirate Bay and don’t give a shit. But I appreciate people’s albums, they put a lot of hard work into it, but from a previous point of view, Above and Beyond all the way.

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TU: Thanks a lot Ben

BN: Thank you!

Check out the latest releases from Ben Nicky on Beatport and keep an eye out for his collaboration with Ian Standerwick released soon on Who’s Afraid of 138?!

Stay up to date with Ben Nicky on Social Media:

http://www.bennicky.co.uk

http://www.twitter.com/bennicky

http://www.facebook.com/bennickymusic

Interview conducted on Sept 18, 2014 by Jules Gia

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What the DJ Mag Top 100 might look like if Trance ruled it (Top 10)

It’s nothing new that this years DJ Mag Top 100 DJ’s list is a complete joke when it comes to ranking the DJ’s and producers on actual talent. It is, in essence, a popularity contest where certain DJ’s beg their fans to vote for them in order to obtain bragging rights and potentially charge a higher fee for their performances.

Anyone who appreciates quality music can tell you that the ranking is completely hogwash, mostly voted on by musically-uneducated people whom unfortunately have very little idea what a skilled and creative DJ/producer even is. But what’s even more appalling is that now record labels and management companies are doing everything in their power to get their DJs as high on that list as possible by buying votes and swaying the ignorant raver to vote in their favor. The biggest shock for me came this summer at the world-renowned TomorrowLand festival in Boom, Belgium…

Continue reading

Neelix Interview: We pull back the curtain on the man of mystery

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Toronto has been for many years a top tier destination for all types of dance music. So small is the list of artists who have not played here that the community has become bloated and desensitized to some degree by the gluttony of names.

However for the Trance community arguably the most demanded name to make a debut was none other than ‘Full-Prog’ Psy-Trance powerhouse Neelix.

His infectious and enthralling music swept through Toronto over the course of the last couple of years and when he was finally announced by Ozmozis Productions to play in the summer the universal reaction of sheer joy was seen across all forms of social media.

In the real world he is known as Henrik Twardzik, who originally began his journey in the late 90’s in Germany. However it wasn’t until the mid-2000’s when his sound truly became his own, and people around the world couldn’t get enough.

After his incredible, yet short set at Toika this past July we were lucky enough to sit down with the master of movement, and peel back a few layers to get to know Henrik on a more personal level.

Trance United: Hi Henrik. Welcome to Toronto. We hope you are excited to play here for the first time. How do you feel about playing to a smaller intimate audience at Toika vs at a bigger festival?

Neelix: I like it better actually. There is an interesting fact I heard about some big DJs, they don’t really like to play in the big outdoor parties because they’re so big with so many people, they can’t run away if they fail. In the club, if you start playing and it’s not good, people can go to the bar, smoke a cigarette; it can get empty. If I play for 20,000 or 200, I still have the same level of nervousness but I prefer the clubs. Today, I was jumping and the audience was just one metre away from me and we were all jumping together… it was awesome!

TU: Psy-Trance seems to be making a huge comeback in Toronto.  The Psy-Trance scene has been showing immense growth here and around the world. Did you ever think it would get this big?

N: It’s always the same; it’s over and over again like that. The mainstream sound takes influences from the underground and then the underground becomes the mainstream. And then something else is underground which mainstream will take from and it’s always the same. And it’s good that it’s like that. It makes me try to do something new.

TU: In a video interview you did in 2013 you said that you weren’t really into electronic music before and you don’t really listen to it unless you are producing/mixing live. Has anything changed since then? How does it feel to become a producer, in a way that’s different to most other DJs?

N: I didn’t start producing thinking I would become a producer. I was just bored at home and my flatmate had a computer… I had friends that produced and that were DJs and one of them showed me some good music and I didn’t really know what it was, I didn’t have a name for it.

A lot of people will say you’re a sell-out, you’ve changed so much but this story is proof (that I’m not)… a couple weeks ago, my friend said he found a CD of some tracks I had produced a few years ago. I can’t remember the names of the tracks but they were from me and they sound 100% the same as today. I think it should be called “Looking Forward” and it should be on my Soundcloud.

Before I was producing, I was an artist drawing pictures. Then I decided pictures were not enough, music was the next step. And then next would be movies. That would be my dream. I worked 10 years in the movies but my fee on the weekends (as a DJ) was double my income for the month. I could not come on Fridays and can only show up on Wednesdays and Thursdays which wasn’t enough so I had to quit my job. Sometimes I regret that…

TU: What makes you regret it?

Imagine wanting to have a family… but who would want a boyfriend that is away 8 months a year? I’m old! I may not look old but I am. One day I would like a family, but right now I can’t even have a dog. It’s not really bad but that’s a downside. I think the main problem of all human kind is that you always think forever, you need to stop that. I will do this another 5 years and maybe 10 but then I will retire.

TU: Do you still enjoy being involved in the electronic music scene? Having said that you don’t really enjoy the genre do you still take pleasure in live performances?

N: Yes I do. I don’t know how to explain it, in every artist there is a point where you are not sure if you’re doing it right or playing what people expect. This pressure and fear is always there and is part of the flow of creativity.

Imagine a picture in black and white and I show you the picture. I ask you “Is the upper 50% or lower 50% more white?” You wouldn’t need a second to tell me because it’d be obvious. If you ask 100 or 1000 people, they would all get it right. But if you repeat the experiment with another group of people and tell them that they would get $1000 if they got it right, a lot of people would get it wrong and it would take 3 minutes for them to decide. It’s the fear that you can lose something, which can take the fun out of it. When I play now it’s good because before I had a moment where I thought I needed to do something different. So you just need to have no fear.

TU: How would you describe a Neelix live set to someone who has never heard of you?

N: Coming here, I asked the driver what kind of music they liked as well as who else was playing. I didn’t ask specific things. I was in the hotel for about 2 hours and I arranged everything and I put sayings inside. Like some spoken word from Youtube, you can hear that in my set.

TU: Have you ever thought about experimenting with genres other than Progressive Trance or Psytrance under a different alias or even just with your current productions?

N: I did already but no one knows. I make music for myself. My scene is underground and the thing with underground and hippies are that they are the most conservative people in the world. They are not free and relaxed. They may say no to pain killers because they’re ‘bad for your body’ but then they ask for LSD?! They always try to teach you how to live but you can’t tell them what to do.

TU: Have you ever thought about starting your own label? If so what genres would you cater to?

N: I suck with label work. I have someone that does all my label work. I get to do nothing. Even my letters are taken care of. How can I answer letters when I’m not at home all the time.

(Referring to the comments about the underground scene) Usually when people have strong opinions, it stays with them, in their circle. Now there’s the internet. A lot of people follow me and they write so many bad things. I played last week at Tomorrowland, a big festival in Europe and they told me I was a sellout, asking me how could I play for these people… but it was the best party ever!  I wish I could tell these people to just follow people they like.

TU: Are you working on any big releases or projects right now that you would like to share with your fans?

N: I’ve been in the studio for two years but this last week I started on my album.

 


Stay up to date with Neelix:

https://www.facebook.com/neelixmusic

http://www.beatport.com/artist/neelix/33075

Interviewer: Erika Razzo

Intro by Greg Baron

 Addicted to trance? Stay connected with Trance United for more trance news, events, articles, interviews and more!
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Sied Van Riel Tells All: The Rebirth of his Career, Ghost Producing, The Evolution of Trance & More

sied

Back in April the city of Toronto was graced with an appearance by Sied Van Riel during his ‘Rielism’ Tour, at the famed nightclub Toika. We had the pleasure of chatting with Sied, who is easily one of hardest working, most prolific producers in the Trance scene.

We eliminated the constraints of a traditional interview that serves to only ask superficial questions, and instead dove deep under the surface. Sied opens up about an array of topics including his first music video for his brand new music video for single Gravity – Sied Van Riel ft Alicia Madison, production, ghost producing, personal tragedy, the rebirth of his career, his opinion on Trance & Trouse and much more!

After reading this interview you will gain a heightened perspective on electronic music, production, and the evolution of the Trance music scene straight from the mind of a veteran.

A few months ago you finished up your Tour promoting your ‘Rielism’ brand. How would you describe the ‘Rielism’ concept?

Sied Van Riel: To be honest, it’s just me playing music that I like – that’s basically the concept. I like a lot of different things within trance so I don’t think I can literally pin point a musical concept. I actually didn’t want to have a ‘Rielism’ tour or brand outside of the compilation. But of course, there’s always management involved and they said I had to do a tour. I told them I would do it – but be warned, you’re going to get me. Mixing a CD is a different experience than mixing for a live crowd in a club. Funny story – My PR management from the UK was throwing all these puns at me like ‘Keep it Riel’ and ‘Rielistic’ but eventually they chose the name ‘Rielism’. I didn’t have much choice – I just want to play the music I like on my CDs and in clubs.

You’ve shot your very first music video last May for your latest single “Gravity” featuring vocalist Alicia Madison in Toronto. Why did you decide to shoot your video in Toronto?

SVR: Well were shooting for two days and on the second day we were out at 1.30am freezing our tits off… well she was, but you know, I was freezing something else off! [laughs] It was a really cool experience because I have done a few more vocal tracks this year and management suggested the idea of doing a video for one of my vocal songs. I was working on the track with Alicia and I personally thought this track had a lot of content and it was more me… So I wanted to do my first video clip to this one. You know, it’s kind of like loosing your virginity a bit – you want to do something special! “Ozmozis” had already booked me to play at Toika, the crew is from America and from Toronto, and Alicia is from NY New Jersey… so we picked Toronto, since it’s in the middle of everyone!

Do you have any creative input in the direction of this video or do you leave that to video producers? What is the direction of the music video?

SVR: Well I have a bit of say in the creative part because the producer is a guy that I got to know when I was touring with Tiesto. He did all Tiesto’s stuff as well and he is very dominant but he knows what he wants, so I trust him. But still I have my own vision of certain things in the video… I asked for a cameo in the video because it was my first, but wrote the script with her and I being in the video the whole time… and I am not an actor! So I told him if I was in there, I wanted to use my idea of working with gravity, literally upside down, levitating – so we rented special cameras we recorded everything half speed, double speed – it was really active shooting. He is a director who takes no bullshit. If you are 5 minutes late he will freak out, which is good because it shows he cares about what he is doing. It was hectic and a very interesting couple of days because I was late a couple times… [laughs].

I will tell you a story – this afternoon we were in the hotel room and shooting the whole fucking day and I had to do a couple of shots for the video where I had to rip up pillows with feathers… but no body from the hotel knew we were shooting in the room! There were about 8 people in the room – makeup artists and whatever – so I rip up these pillows with feathers and the whole fucking room was covered in feathers! And I was worried the hotel was going to charge me up the ass tomorrow with 400 or 500 bucks in cleaning fees… so I went downstairs and this is what I told the cleaning guy: “I am hanging out with my girlfriend and she likes feather pillows, so we bought two and got into a fight and she ripped up the pillows and spread it all over my hotel room. So now my room is fucked and I need housekeeping!”… and they actually bought my story about the pillow fight! I gave the guy that cleaned my room $40 because I was smoking in the room as well, plus we had champagne and liquor shots… the whole room was reeking of alcohol and cigarettes and feathers were everywhere – so I just bribed the guy and they never found out!

sied2

You have been providing fans with instructional production videos on Youtube. Why did you decided to do this and what kind of feedback have you been getting? How did you learn to produce?

SVR: Fans always ask you questions – “How do you do this? How do you do that? – so instead of answering every single individual question, I throw a video online to explain. I am not showing them my secret tricks, but I am showing them basics – “This is how I produce music, this is why I did this and that”. So even for people that are not interested in production, maybe it’s cool for them because before they could only hear the music, and now they can see how music looks like when it’s being made on the screen. It usually takes me a whole day, but I really enjoy doing it, because when I was starting out people helped me out as well.

When my grandmother died, I went into the studio and I made a track. There was direct, personal influence for that track. Another time, Armin said no to one of my remixes and told me that I could get better. Eventually people will hear a remix that gets released, but before that there is a whole period where you did the wrong thing and your music doesn’t get approved. So I just explain the whole story behind certain productions and remixes, because everybody thinks that its all unicorns and rainbows, but its not. My music has been influenced by personal tragedy and I have been told my stuff isn’t good enough. I mean, there is more to music or a DJing career than just “everything is fine, I want to produce and spin in my spare time”. There is a lot of bullshit that people don’t know about, so I tried to show them a bit of it… if how I do it helps you out – fine. If it’s not impressive enough –move along and go to the next one.

Did you teach yourself to produce or did you have a mentor?

SVR: A friend, who used to be a Hardstyle DJ, did help me set up my equipment and showed me how to use the software programs. But after that I just practiced by myself for months and months and months and months… Even now I still have 15 hour days in my home studio! If you really want something – no bullshit, no cheese – you have to work your ass off for what you want. As I mentioned before, my grandmother died… and even today I still feel I should have spent a lot more time with her when she was dying. Sometimes I think it’s kind of fucked up – but I was so focused on my career; I chose to work on music. She kept telling me it was okay and that she supported me, but still I don’t know. What I do know is the people who say “Oh I worked on my music in the studio for 2 hours today and I’ll work on it for another 2 hours, sometime next week” shouldn’t expect a career anytime soon unless they use ghost producers. Personally, I don’t want to use [them] because I’m a control freak… every record label and management team I’ve had have tried to convince me to go more mainstream – but I refuse to do so. I have done ghost productions for other people though.

Speaking of which, have you ever been approached by big celebrities such as, say, Rihanna, to ghost produce tracks for them?

SVR: I’ve done ghost productions for other people for years and have been approached – through the label – by artists, wanting you to do remixes and such. But when people approach me with a request like “Oh, 4 years ago you made this track – make me one like that, I want that exact same beat”, I will say no to that. Of course, you always make money by ghost producing… but at the end of the day, if fans find out that I secretly made a track for a celebrity or an EDM DJ, they will think I am a sellout. And I refuse to be that guy. I stopped ghost producing for other DJs because we would be in the studio, and they would be sitting in the back, drinking or chatting or texting their friends, while I was sweating my ass off working on the music. And it’s not even about them getting the credit – that’s fine, that’s the choice you make when you agree to ghost produce for someone, but it got to a point where I would be working on a project for someone who didn’t give a shit about the actual music and I would think to myself “Why am I doing this? I already have a music career? This isn’t helping me get ahead and they obviously don’t care about the actual music”. I am a passionate guy – whether it’s DJing or producing music or drinking or smoking [laughs] – everything I do, I do it very passionately. Do something 100% or don’t do it at all.

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I noticed that you shared a very personal, sentimental story behind one of your newest masterpieces “Past Present Future” on Facebook. You “tweeted” that you will be sharing stories for productions/remixes for the week. What inspired you to “bear all” to your fans with these stories?

SVR: People think that being a DJ is just ‘living the life’ all the time… which of course, it is usually. I get to fly everywhere, play music in clubs – but to me, it doesn’t matter if I’m playing for 50 people or 5000 people. I’m sharing these stories to show people that I’m not just this guy that makes and plays music for them. I don’t share a lot of myself on the internet, but I shared these stories with fans to show them where I come from and who I am, separate from being a DJ or a producer. If people think it’s stupid or sentimental… Well, I don’t give a fuck. I’m not being emotional or trying to win people’s hearts – I’m just sharing the truth.

What are your thoughts on the current Trance music scene? Which direction do you see it going in?

SVR: I think things are going back to basics. I mean, things have to come full circle. People are getting back to the ’138 BPM’ stuff they used to love; they’re going back to the more ‘underground’ stuff. I hope we move away from the cheese and the ‘crossover’ sound. Trance in 1994 was different to how it sounded in 2001, which is different to how it sounds now- everything evolves. I mean 2 years ago, everybody was all about Dubstep… but where is Dubstep now? What’s happening with that? Musical genres are temporary. Right now everybody is all about EDM and commercial sounding ‘trance’, but that will change eventually. It’s up to the fans.

‘Trouse’ has been gaining a lot of popularity within the last few years… Do you think it’s just a fad or do you believe it’s here to stay?

SVR: It’s here to stay but it will evolve into something more melodic. It will come back to Trance eventually. In my opinion, everyone from different scenes took our melodies and incorporated it into their music. They were hanging out at clubs where Trance would play and Trance has these big buildups and massive melodies and beautiful drops – so they would take these elements and slow them down and put them in their music or in their genres. Back then I didn’t call this ‘Trouse’ I called it ‘Slance’… which means ‘Slow Trance’. Maybe we will go back to the old school Armin or Tiesto sound, but the one true thing that will stay is the melody. Trance is always about the melody. There’s too much out there at the moment, the market is saturated – it has to collapse. Like Wall Street. It has to return to old school, we will get back to the basics and go more underground.

End of in person interview (conducted on April 26, 2014) 

Follow-up E-mail Interview Conducted July 30, 2014:

How does it feel to have a residency at Full on Ibizia this Summer?

SVR: Awesome! It’s a beautiful place to visit and the parties are always good. You get a new crowd almost every week and they are all there to “lose it”. Having a residency at Space this year is a dream come true. It was THE club in Ibiza I wanted to play in and I can now cross it off my bucket list. Besides that, when I open up I can play tracks that I normally can’t play. This makes it more challenging and exciting for me because I keep the tempo at a lower BPM because I’m there to set the mood. When I close I can go ape… which is brilliant. Ferry knows I can play a wide variety of music and that I’m experienced at warm up sets and I’d never place myself above any name that plays after me.

How would you describe your summer so far in Ibiza and compare it to previous years?

SVR: I don’t really notice a difference from previous years when it comes to crowds and how busy it is on the island. The only thing that really changes every year are the venues DJs play at and the line ups maybe. My friends from Driftwood who do boat parties every year started a trance night called “Sunk” at Privilege. Which was a bit of a surprise to be honest, but a very pleasant one. It’s cool to see new promoters taking a big step on the island to do something like that. They have enormous line ups booked throughout the summer… every name in trance is playing there I think which is awesome. For me personally so far it’s been great. I’ve done 4 shows so far and have about 6 more to go. How lucky am I?

You are playing quite a few massive festivals this summer. Tomorrowland and then Dance Valley to name a few – how do you prepare for bigger festivals?

SVR: Normally I don’t prepare much. Sure, I’ll update my music and figure out what I’ll use to start with, but then that can change the minute I see and feel the vibe at a festival. I often change on the spot and take it from there. There are always tracks that I will use but at what point in my sets is the question. When I’m playing I always find a place to chill out just before my set so I can focus and control my nerves and or adrenaline. I’ll put on my poker face and act like I’m all good [laughs] truth be said… I still get that feeling in my stomach. I’ll never get used to that to be honest. Standing on a stage with a huge crowd in front of you is not normal. The minute I walk on stage though I feel [at] home and then I’m good to go!

Special thank you to Sied Van Riel for exceeding our expectations by providing us with thorough honest, thought provoking responses to our questions

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