How’s your summer been?
Nice! I relocated back to Ireland after 10 years in England. Living in London there’s no space so I’ve got a proper studio in the top of my house now. I bought loads of kit over the last 10 years and never had anywhere to properly put it so now I’ve actually got somewhere to put it for the first time in my career after, like, two decades of making music. But aye, good, I feel like I’ve got a proper place to work for the first time – it’s not somewhere in the house out of the way, it’s somewhere I can use it. That’s been a big thing this summer.
Of course I’ve been doing festivals and working on music, so it’s all a balance really. Obviously the weather hasn’t been that nice, but that can help as during the summers when it’s nice weather, especially in London, it’s too warm to sit inside so you don’t make music and you get to the end of the summer being like ‘I’ve got no releases here!’, ha ha. So, I’ve been quite productive.
The album was done at the turn of the year, done a few remixes as Trance Wax and also the Ejeca thing, so it’s just all a balance.
I bet it’s refreshing to be back to your roots in Belfast.
Aye, and things don’t change! I was at a wedding with people I hadn’t seen recently, and nobody has changed – just more balding people!
Ha! Right, onto the music. It feels as if there has been a real surge in the popularity of trance lately. Not that it ever disappeared – but it feels like there is a ‘cool’ label attached to it now. Why do you think that is?
If you look at the age of people going to the gigs, it’ll be their parents listening to it. Makes me sound old, but I could have an 18-year-old going to gigs who’d have listened to the music I was listening to in the house, and that would be what they’re used to. It makes you wonder when bands are going to be popular again if everyone’s listening to dance music again. Who’s gonna get their kids into bands, and rock music, for example? It seems like everything is dance music. It must be a generational thing, like influences you hear from your family. It’s so big now.
Social media as well – going to a nightclub used to be so dark and dingy and now everything is so bright and it’s about visuals, how it looks as well as the music. It’s a big part of people’s lives growing up. At one point, it was something done at the weekend, now people go to festivals and go to Croatia or Ibiza for a week and experience the whole thing. It’s more than just a night out. It’s been made more than just the music.
As well, a lot of people call it trance, but in Europe there’s Eurodance which is similar. That was seen as cheesy, and now everyone’s getting back into that. A lot of Berlin people are playing Eurodance, or donk and hard house – there’s a lot of subgenres all related. DJ Heartstring’s stuff is being called trance, but they’re more Eurodance. Eurodance originated in Europe and then here we called it UK trance, which is a different thing. It’s all sort of come back and again, it’s kids who have grown up with it, they’re playing it and into it. They get that nostalgia thinking: ‘I remember that when I was five!’, you know?
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What do you make of these sounds becoming more in the ‘known’ domain, then?
Obviously I’ve been DJing for 20 years and there are some genres that are here and never go away, and then there’s some that go big and then go away. So, house and techno, as a genre, will never move. They’ll always be in clubs. Saying that, some of the techno people are playing trance right now! You’ve got things like drum ‘n’ bass, dubstep, some of those genres which will come in waves – you’ll hear loads of it, then it fizzles, and comes back again. Garage is another; it’s in the charts, and then it’s underground again. Things seem to ebb and flow, but as you know, things get too popular and people think it’s not cool.
We touched on it briefly before, but people might also know you because of your Ejeca alias. What made you decide to run two projects for your musical expression?
It’s funny, I did it as two different things because people didn’t like trance music and didn’t think it was cool! You could get away with having it as one act now, but they’re two different things in my head. I see Ejeca as house, a bit of techno, maybe some garage, but that’s the core of it. Tempo wise as well, Ejeca things don’t go anywhere near Trance Wax stuff. I’ll keep it below 130 BPM as Ejeca whereas Trance Wax can be anything. You can’t play trance tracks slow, really. People try it, but you can’t really have it at a low tempo. So, I treat it as that. As well, I had a decent career with Ejeca, so Trance Wax was a bit of an experiment. But aye, separating it has worked – I’ll see someone at the airport and they’ll say: ‘you alright Trance Wax?’ – they don’t know me as Ejeca. It’s quite nice.
I look up people who have different aliases too. If you think, Mathew Johnson [who has many], or Matthew Dear who has Audion, which has turned bigger than Matthew Dear, but he’s resorted back to the latter with his album stuff. Even some of the trance guys: Ferry Corsten on Discogs has like 20 aliases and his biggest tracks aren’t necessarily Ferry Corsten. I don’t think you could do more than two; if you did three or four aliases going at once and it was just one person you would definitely not have enough focus. I suppose if you’re in a group or collective it would be easier, but as one person, even with the social media side, you need to focus on getting the message out there.
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One of the singles that helped launch your new album was the remix of ‘Rhythm Of The Night’, how did that come about?
I make a lot of music! I have a folder of ideas with Craig, my manager, and that always has about 300 things in it – and that’s cut down. Some of these things though, could be 10 years old. I don’t delete things: there’s drum ‘n’ bass, techno, house, ambient, garage, trance, hard house… all the stuff I like. I found a track from about eight years ago where I’m singing on it, and I should delete it, but I just think that you never know, ha!
‘Rhythm of the Night’ was a loop I found. On Rekordbox you have things in certain keys and I found the acapella, thinking ‘these sound good together’ – so I just turned it into a track with that acapella. I actually made the instrumental first and the acapella fit perfectly. These things happen, but rarely – it was an accident, really. I didn’t sit there thinking I was going to make a ‘Rhythm Of The Night’ remix.
A happy accident?
Aye! I put it on vinyl – I forget which Trance Wax release it was, but I think on Discogs people are still paying about £300 for the white label of it. So that created a bit of hype. Some people got the vinyl and played it off there, and then others started asking for the .wav file – Solomun, I think Sasha asked for it quite early on – but the hype was driven from the vinyl being sold out so early on. That was like four, five years ago, and it has drip fed along since then.
There’s some releases at the moment, like where Calvin Harris puts out a track and plays it one week, puts out a snippet a few days later and then releases it… it goes to Number One and then that’s it! But there’s ones like this [‘Rhythm Of The Night’ remix] that take half a decade. Putting it out on vinyl takes nine months anyway to get the thing made, so there’s definitely a patience behind it but it also means that it sits for longer. There’s a bit more sustainability around the release if you can build it slower, like it used to be. So yeah, that’s what happened with the track.
I love the organic growth and the track’s own little journey.
Exactly, it’s not forced. It’s the same with a lot of Trance Wax stuff. I’m like| ‘here’s this’. It’s about letting the music speak and being natural.
Written by: Tim Hopkins