You are a trance DJ and producer from the US. Dubstep and electro seem to gain a lot of momentum Stateside, but trance still has its loyal following. How would you describe the current US trance scene?
Dubstep & Electro have definitely taken center stage in a lot of ways in the US; it’s a good thing that more people are getting exposed to EDM. I think what makes trance so timeless is the emphasis on harmony & melody that is often lacking in other genres; so once people start looking for something deeper in the music, trance will be there waiting. Look at acts like Porter Robinson, his track Language, it is very trance influenced. I think people will grow into trance once given time & exposure.
I think every market in the US is unique, it’s such a big country & there are major differences to the different regions. Some markets have no trance scene at all, some have great thriving trance scenes. I think it’s all about where you live. Seattle, where I currently live has a solid trance scene. There are a lot of great djs here, & some real quality producers like Channel Surfer/Chris Herrera, Michael Lee/Magnus, & Steve Kaetzel. Unfortunately the big problem with Trance is the most popular acts get all the hype, & the artist they play in their sets all day long are often over looked & forgotten. In this market you can have someone big come through like a PVD, or Above & Beyond & sell out a big venue 1500 people, then a week later have an artist like Thomas Datt who gets supported by both of them, and likely had his tracks played the week before, play to 150 people. It’s an unfortunate dichotomy because those top acts are so expensive you can’t have them come through frequently and you can’t have a big show without them.
You have always been a gear head. Which would be the one synthesizer you’d never part with? And what are its specific qualities?
Easy… My signature edition Moog Voyager in cherry. Hand signed by Bob Moog himself before he passed away. Only 200 were made like this in the world.
Your company Phase 3 Events is responsible for a lot of the trance events in the greater Seattle area. As a promoter, what do you feel are the most important elements to make your events a success?
We do different kind of events, & I think it takes different things to make them all work. Club events, it’s a combination of talent, costs, competition, and location. If you have a solid booking, with a good door price, at a venue people like, with no major direct competition (i.e. similar shows the same night, or weekend) you can have successful shows. Our big festival events like WHITEOUT/BLACKOUT/KANDYLAND are a little more tricky. You still need all the same things as a club event, but you need to have a solid theme that people can easily get behind. Like Whiteout (dress in all white) Blackout (dress in all black) those are brilliant themes because it takes little effort to get in theme. Everyone has a black or white t shirt, so boom you are set. It’s not like it was years ago when a theme for the party had everyone striving to outdo each other with the best themed outfit, so making the theme easily accessible to everyone helps get people behind it. For the big festival style events, flow is another often overlooked but critical aspect to event planning. We always try to program our nights with a musical trajectory. Our trance room would start off with some prog house, build in to prog trance, then grow to full on trance, & end with some hard trance. If you are at the party & you stay in that room all night, you won’t hear the same song 4-5 times, you get each artist building on what the last did through intelligent booking order. I don’t get all these one dimensional parties where there are 200 djs playing over 6 rooms all playing the same style of music. You go from room to room & it’s all the same. You hear the same song in every set, because it’s the hit of the day, & everyone wants to play the big hit song. I try to make my events evolve & let each act naturally build the energy by doing what they do best. Having an opener play hardstyle, then followed by a breaks dj, then big room electro, then dubstep, then hard core, then trance, its disjointed & can clear a room between acts simply because the genre changed so drastically. That makes the dj look bad, the party look bad, the promoter look bad, it’s just plain bad.
Is there one specific upcoming event we can’t miss?
Every event is a can’t miss event, if everyone had that attitude the scene would be thriving & we could have quality shows every week. (SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION) but if I had to pick one, Nov 16 Whiteout 10 at Neumos.
Do you become a different person when you get on stage?
I don’t think I become different, but I try to take in consideration that you are watching a performance, even if it’s just mixing cds. Crowd interaction & showing I am into my music is important to me. I can’t stand the bored dj. The bottom line is people who go out to clubs, go out to have a good time & let off steam. As the dj you are the one directing that through your music & your actions. You can build them up, take them to the edge & make them go ape shit, you have the power to give them that release that have waited all week for. When you see someone on stage you want them to be larger than life, it’s human nature. As the person on the other side it’s part of your job to live up to that.
What is your current top 5 of record labels for recurring quality releases?
Top 5… In no particular order….. Euphonic always delivers great stuff. Subtrax is another staple label pool I always get a lot of great music from. I have really loved all the new stuff on Lange’s label. Gaya is another new label I recently started getting promo’s from that I really like. Acomusic, George Acosta’s label I have really liked over the last few years, Gerry Cueto & George have done some great stuff on that label.
[wp-like-locker]Go back to his old style… LETHAL INDUSTRY is one of my all-time favorites, I love all his stuff from that Era. I mean you can’t say he isn’t doing something right, selling out tens of thousands of people everywhere, but I don’t really like his style now days, vs those days. Just Be, Adagio, Traffic, those were the good days of Tiesto.[/wp-like-locker]
You have been a sound designer for a long time working on sounds for video games. Does that call for a different approach than making a track?
Totally different. Sound design is similar, & it’s a part of writing tracks, you have to pick your bass, your kick, your lead, you have to make sure they all fit together etc, tailor the sounds to work best together, but game design introduces a lot of different challenges. Getting the game engine to do what you want, working with the middle wear, taking into consideration file size, load time, load order, voice priority, max voices available, making sure game critical info is not lost in the sound scape, all while appeasing the game producer who likes it, but it needs to be different, but can’t explain how, or why.
If you could share one simple production trick that is native to the Marq style, what would that be and can you explain the details to our readers?
Production trick, the magic delay formula… This was shown to me by a friend Brandon Steltz, back in the early 90’s when you had to use external processors for all your effects. Delays didn’t auto synch to bpm as they do now in plug ins, so you use the magic delay formula…. 240,000/BPM/QUANTINZATION VALUE, this will give your delay time in Milliseconds. Don’t ask why, it just is… so if your track is 134bpm, & you want a 1/8 note delay, 240,000/134/8=223 ms. Set your delay to 223 & you are perfectly in time. You can use this to find a perfect setting for anything that is Millisecond based processing. Need to know the attack for your side chain? 240,000/134/16 would give you a 1/16 note attack on your side chain. It works for everything MS based like magic, aka the magic delay formula. Go forth & synch your delays.
Do you feel it is good or bad that Beatport has that much influence on the scene?
Beatport has no influence on me, I don’t use it. I play exclusively promos that are sent to me from various labels and artists around the world. I am fortunate to be in a position that I get so many promos sent to me, and sometimes it’s overwhelming having so much new music to go through, but that is nothing to complain about. It’s obvious who Beatport influences as a dj, you can always tell because they play the whole top ten in their set. That is real easy as a dj to go download a top 10 list & play them, but it’s also super generic. MP3’s have made it so that tracks are easier to come by. It’s not like in the record days when you had to go to the shop on delivery day, wait for them to open the box & be first in line because they only ordered 2 copies of a given record that is limited print and sold out from the 1st press at the distributor. In those days having the records made a difference, because there was only so many made for the whole world. If you wanted to play it, you had to find it on record. In many ways I miss those days, but I don’t miss paying $15 a import for 1 song.
Is there a final thing you would like to say to our readers?
Thanks for taking the time to read my interview, remember to check out my free podcast Electric Dawn available on Itunes, Zune & podbean.com
Electric Dawn available at:
Photo credtits Marq: JT Studios