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…

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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

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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!

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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.

sied3

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

For more information & tour dates visit:

http://www.facebook.com/officialsiedvanriel
www.twitter.com/siedvanriel
www.soundcloud.com/siedvanriel
www.instagram.com/siedvanriel
www.rielism.com

Grab a copy of Rielism, Vol 2 here

 

Redefining Electronic Music with TyDi

TYDI redefined

In just less than a month, the once break-out DJ of 2010, TyDi aims to build upon his musical legacy with the release of his newest album, Redefined.

Set to hit download portals on September 30th, the album contains twenty songs meticulously selected from nearly 300 works of eclectic electronic music. Considered by the Australian producer to be a collection of his finest works to date, Redefined offers an unrivaled variety of styles and sounds with the same detail-oriented production techniques that make TyDi a leader in the electronic scene.

Three years in the making—a product of love and determination – Tydi’s forthcoming album looks to shatter the success of his last artist album, Shooting Stars, which hit #1 on dance charts around the world including Canada and the UK, as well as #4 in the USA. These twenty tracks span genres and push the boundaries of technology and electronic music. Each song showcases outstanding vocal talents from distinguished performers including Melanie Fontana and Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional among the seventeen featured singers.

For a better idea of what to expect, check out the official trailer below!

Additionally, TyDi has posted an extended preview of one of the tracks, “Box of Legos”, featuring dual vocals of Kasmir & Sinead Burgess. With a break-beat back bone, orchestral melodies, and a few near-ambient touches, this gorgeous work sets the tone for the rest of the album. You can listen to “Box of Legos”, as well as his new preview of “Somebody for Me” on TyDi’s SoundCloud page.

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With the release of the full album less than a month away, keep an ear out for further previews, and pre-order your copy of Redefined on iTunes.

Also be sure to catch TyDi at the official closing party for the Play Music Festival on September 14th on a gorgeous boat cruise through Lake Ontario in Toronto!

Tickets: http://bit.ly/1lg1jJe

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Trance-port Trucker Alex M.O.R.P.H. Delivers Insight into Performances, Sets & Track Inspiration

Alex M.O.R.P.H. 03

This summer Alex M.O.R.P.H. returned to Toronto at the successful third installment of Canada’s largest dance music festival, Digital Dreams Festival. We caught up with Alex right after his set at the Trance stage, Fantasy Land, to chat about his career, inspirations and upcoming projects.

Trance United: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with Trance United. The energy today was absolutely incredible! You’re a very busy man these days between producing, and playing festivals and shows around the globe; tell us what setting do you most prefer? Where do you feel you throw down your best sets?

Alex M.O.R.P.H.: Best setting? That’s a good question – I think it’s both, it’s 50/50. I love club events because you can play longer sets and be more creative. Festival sets are a bit compressed for time with them only being an hour, or hour and a half and of course you have to bring all the energy in that one hour. They’re both a different challenge, but I love both. Today was great, it was a great audience, lots of energy, and I really enjoyed it.

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