For over a decade he has been roadblocking dancefloors with a procession of illustrious club classics, all-out anthems and critically acclaimed albums. As a DJ, he performs weekly at clubs around the planet, and for globally recognized names like A State of Trance, Cream @ Amnesia, Ministry of Sound, Gatecrasher, Full-On-Ferry, Zouk and countless others.
He left an indelible mark on EDM with one of his very first releases. ‘Seven Cities’ scored a UK Top 40 hit, has been remixed by Armin van Buuren, was re-released 3 times and cumulatively went on to sell in excess of ½ million copies. Give a warm welcome to SOLARSTONE!
You recently launched your new label Touchstone Recordings under the supervision of Black Hole Recordings. What makes this label different than your other labels and could you tell us a bit more about the philosophy behind it?
Up until Touchstone all my labels were administered for me by a specific company with a certain reach & influence, upon signing to Black Hole I decided to use their status and experience to launch a new label, aimed directly at Djs & fans who were embracing my new music. The music policy is geared towards the Pure Trance sound, so it made sense to start afresh.
Your most recent album Pure features several highly acclaimed stars from the international EDM scene. How did all these collaborations form? Collaboration seems like a recurring theme in your work since you also are known as the founder of the first social networking label Solarswarm.
Indeed, I’m a big fan of bringing like-minded people together with my music. Aly & Fila and also Giuseppe Ottaviani are both artists from the roster of my management agency Twenty4Seven – and we share the same love of a particular Trance sound, so it made sense to ‘keep it in the family’ so to speak. Both collabs were over the Internet – not my ideal way of working if I’m honest, but they both worked out well. Both tracks were fleshed out from demos I had already created, the other guys then added their parts and signature sounds, sent them back to me, then I finished them off in my studio. The Solarswarm thing is my attempt to give Trance fans the opportunity to get inside the workings of a label, to influence the signings, remixes and artwork for each release. It’s a fun project, anybody who is passionate about Trance music would probably enjoy being a part of it. The website is Solarswarm.com – it’s easy to join and take part.
You made a statement with your new album that you want to reclaim the meaning of trance. You have been a strong force of the scene for years on end, so to put it in a few words, what does true trance mean to you?
Trance is, for me, a spiritual thing; it goes far beyond just another sub-genre of electronic music. Trance music connects people in a way that other styles do not. The feeling of community and togetherness, which Trance music evokes, cannot be under estimated. Self-appointed style councils attempt to belittle and criticize the music, because they are not part of it and do not understand how important it is to many people. I feel very strongly about this music and that is one of the reasons I decided to stick my head above the parapet and start flying the trance flag in a more vocal way than most of my contemporaries. I’m proud to be a trance producer and Dj. You should listen to the music that moves you, not what is ‘cool’ or ‘the latest fashion’. Trends come and go, but a form of music as spiritual and deep reaching as Trance music will always endure.
Which elements in the trance tracks that you don’t like bother you?
It’s the obsession with being ‘fashionable’, the obsession with loudness and complicated production trickery which diverts attention away from the core elements of what I feel makes trance music so unique – warmth, melody, simplicity, that ‘close your eyes and be taken on a journey’ essence which defines the genre it is true sense. Of course, there is room within the scene for all kinds of Trance, I’m not saying that Pure Trance is better, but as Mixmag said in their review of the Pure Trance compilation; Pure Trance is just part of the genre’s labyrinthine make-up. To counterbalance every Trouse or trancestep variation though, it’s a very valuable one”. I think that comment is spot-on.
Is there a tour connected to the Pure concept?
Yes indeed, we launched the Pure Trance Events concept at ADE on October 18th – it was a sell out success, packed, hot and very passionate from all the Djs and clubbers involved. We are rolling tour out world wide in 2013 and details of all the forthcoming parties will be posted on the puretrance website as they are confirmed. I’m particularly excited about the USA shows we have planned, they will bring the pure sound of trance to those shores for the first time.
Your music has a very warm sound to it. Does that mean you get booked more often to play at hot summer night beach parties? Or do you find it a challenge to warm up a ‘cold’ room like a warehouse with you Balearic sounds and melodies?
I adjust what I play depending on the venue, the crowd etc. A sunrise beach party calls of a different vibe that a 4 A.M hot smokey warehouse in Helsinki!
The latest developments in technology continue to grow at lightning speed. Is there any sort of technology not on the market today that you would wish for? One future technology to utilize in your performances?
Not really, I’m not a slave to technological developments or trends. In the studio I tend to stick with what I know, rather than filling my computer with the latest gadgets I like to get inside the instruments I have and really make them work for their money. My guitars and other acoustic instruments can be incredibly expressive and create original sounds when I process them; I have less need of clever presets than a lot of producers. but that maybe because when I started producing, equipment was incredibly expensive and cumbersome, so I learnt to make the best of what I had.
We won’t tell anyone else, but we’d like to know.. Do you ever experiment with completely different styles than the one that people know you for? IE, are there secret dubstep releases floating around under an alias?
Ha! Not really, I did release one or two funky house / disco / electro house / breakbeat records over the years, but they are not a secret, they are all there in my discography.
How important are live instruments to your music like guitar and piano?
Well as I said previously, I love to create new sounds by processing my acoustic instruments. At the moment I am unfortunately piano-less due to moving to a smaller place with less room, but a new piano is on my buy list next year.
After a long day of work, what is your guilty pleasure?
I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan – the ones starring Jeremy Brett, I watch them nearly every day when I turn in. Midsommers Murders is another favorite. That’s about it for guilty pleasures.. And I don’t feel guilty at all about them!
If there is one thing you could change in the EDM scene, what would that be?
I’d like to remove all the fake votes, likes, followers & views from the scene completely. Fans don’t like to be cheated.
A last word for your fans?
Support the Pure Trance movement in any way you can, because together we are stronger. Oh.. And Happy Christmas!
Thank you Solarstone for taking the time for this interview!