[Photos Credits: OhDagYo Photogprahy]
It's a normal night on Los Angeles' famous Hollywood and Vine intersection; at least as normal as normal can possibly be in LA. Miley & Gaga BFF look-a-likes wander across the concrete stars, the Capitol building sheds droplets of light down into the streets filled with old-school classics parked next to blacked out Maseratis, and all the while the unmistakable sound of synth infused beats secrete gently through the walls of the Avalon Theatre.
Tonight, Kristina Sky welcomes guests into her irresistible world of dance music, slowly inviting Betsie Larkin's paralyzing vocals to the stage; preparing the crowd for the trance-paved path which will soon present itself. U.K Trance legend, Lange (Stuart Langelaan), is sitting in the green room downstairs relaxing- eagerly awaiting his turn to take the decks.
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Throughout our conversation, the pure love of his craft was crystal clear. This is someone who truly enjoys what he does; it's admirable, to say the least. Left in the wake of a meet & greet, the ringmaster takes to his circus and begins the journey. Lange's set at Avalon in Hollywood was a performance for the books. The power of music infiltrated our bodies, lovingly forcing us to dance, the purity of trance in every one of its forms elevated us to a different place. In just a few hours, Lange had managed to pick us up, and shift us into another realm.
Rewind back to the green room, before the wanderlust- before the adventure. Here is what goes on in the world of Stuart Langelaan. From the album of many colors (We Are Lucky People), to the great debate of Europe vs. USA, and everything in between-
This is Lange:
Talk to me about "We Are Lucky People." It released on Lange Recordings on November 18th last year-- and it was absolutely phenomenal. What has the response from your fans been?
The album has been really good so far. It has been doing really well and I have to say I've been blown away by the responses. Ultimately, that's what makes it all worth it. You know, we don't sell massive amounts of units these days, so this entire thing literally was just something I really enjoyed doing- to get the response that we have gotten so far is just, amazing.
It's amazing to see this kind of massive response. It's almost a rarity to see someone in the dance music industry release a full-length, hard copy album, much less a 2-Disc album! Technology and demand has artists putting out a lot of singles, digital EP's, etc. What does it take to create a full length album? How did it come together?
It took about a year to create the album. The original idea was to release 'album' singles throughout the year; so it was a slow release of singles and club mixes. In the end though, I had to do something special anyways. If I had just released all of these singles without doing something special, there would be nothing left to give. At the end of it, there were 23 tracks, all with a twist. Some were chill out, some were twisted tracks, I added some piano to some, and all of the little things like that created a natural flow to the album. It all meshed.
Speaking of singles... Tell me more about the mysterious "Track 26."
Well, I'll be honest... That track isn't finished yet. But, I am working on it! Bear with me. Originally it was meant to be released at the beginning of this year, but I suppose I've been a little bit sidetracked. I have been so busy with the album and touring. But I will get it out to you!
I will be looking forward to it! As I'm sure the fans will too! What about road recordings? Do you ever record while on tour? Or do you need your own space to zen out?
I started doing it, but it never sounds as good when you're doing it with just headphones. But I am starting to do it now, and actually "Violin's Revenge" was one of those tracks that I did at a hotel in San Diego. I will have to go on doing it again this year. You get used to it.
I love Violin's Revenge, it was a year defining track for Trance. Violin's Revenge, among other tracks on the album have hugely incorporated the use of classical instruments. Other trance producers have also been including deep piano and violin riffs in their tracks as well- What is the connection? Is this something that you are personally drawn to?
I've always enjoyed using strings. I'm not a connoisseur of classical music, but I do love it. So I think that classical music had to be a big part of this album -- It's a big part of what I do. Piano was used a lot in the album, but not so much over the years. The traditional sounds of the piano, and the strings give warmth to the tracks and make them enjoyable to listen to. So yes, I do feel it is something I am drawn to.
I think that the connection between classical music and trance is really amazing, and you don't necessarily have to love classical music to enjoy the part it takes in producing unique dance tracks. Where does the inspiration come from when you are producing? What drives you?
Can I be honest? I don't know! You know I have to say that I actually find producing really difficult. And most of the time I have to force myself to keep going. It's so easy to be distracted, there's always other stuff to be doing. I'm sure it's not just me, and it's absolutely the same for everybody. The most difficult task for me always, is producing music. For some reason, it just ends up at the bottom of my priorities if I'm not careful. I just find it difficult to write music! But I would say these days my motivation is "you have to do it. You have no choice but to do it." That's what drives me.
It's kind of a relief to hear the producing doesn't just come as simple as a snap to you, most often you'll hear someone say they were born to produce, or producing comes as easy as pie to them, you know-- they've done it their whole lives and it comes naturally. So you know, it is nice to hear that this is in fact hard work. You have to take time, and be dedicated to put out an album!
Yeah, you know-- some of the younger guys, the younger producers can do that. And I'm so jealous! They say, "oh yeah, I put that together in 3 hours" and I just wonder how they're doing that! I've talked Max Graham and some of the other old school producers like me about how all these young guys are doing it; I still spend weeks mulling over a track. I don't know what the secret is. Maybe theyíre just fresh. I think that equipment has changed a lot too. Today, you have all this technology at your fingertips, and back in the day we would have to spend weeks searching and perfecting just one sound.
Sitting where you are in EDM Culture, as a more a legendary producer; you've obviously seen this world grow and change- what do you think of the overall impact that dance music has had on the modern music industry and society?
Well, I think that you have a huge exposure of EDM over here in the US, I mean-- it's massive. We've always had that in the UK, but it was very specific to trance music. I was writing music that became chart hits, without them ever meaning to become chart hits. With any kind of commercialization though, people become drawn to sounds. And when that sound is created over and over, it becomes far too generic. Also- I think one of the sad things about the scene at the moment in comparison to when I started, is that so many DJ's are now paying for outside production instead of actually writing their own tracks. The hard work as far as I am concerned is the production, but that's the least paid job of them all. I mean, if everyone is beginning to use ghost writers, it's inviting a different group into the scene. They're all using the same writers, which in turn is going to make all of their music sound the same.
I think that's one of the touchiest subjects in this industry. It's crazy. Keeping in tow with the Europe vs. America thought-- from your perspective, What is the difference between playing here, and playing back home in the U.K? There's always heated debate about the sound of the music, the diversity of the people, or the culture in its entirety. What do you think?
It's weird. You have a big exposure over here and it has a commercial edge to it. But at the same time, America has always been so open. I mean, you have people that will go from dubstep, to trance, to house. You don't have that in Europe. Particularly with trance, people who are a fan of trance are only a fan of specific trance. So if anything, you're more open minded over here. In the U.K, you have London- where you can come and play whatever you want, but anywhere north of London, which is pretty much everywhere, people only want 138, 140. They insist on it! It goes back the U.K having a massive trance exposure in the late 90's. It's like they want it to continue to be what it always has been.
Well, we're similar in that sense! That kind of thing definitely still exists over here. One of the biggest U.S EDM debates to-date is that people are always looking back at "The Good Old Days" instead of embracing our culture and our music now.
Honestly, we all need to look forward and embrace what's going on now. All of this! All of this is good for the underground scene. And it is good for the commercial scene. It's good to go see Avicii or Hardwell, and immerse yourself in their sounds, and as you listen and see more, you will diversify your taste, and begin to settle yourself in the underground. We come from the underground, and go back to the underground. It's a big circle of music that we're in.
So what is the life of Lange going to look like this year? You released an album, and now comes the touring part. Any new productions in the works or planned for the New Year? Where do you want 2014 to take you, both personally and professionally?
Well, I am starting to tinker around with ideas. I haven't started to produce anything new just yet, but I am looking to do something a little bit darker this year, I kind of go back and forth between the emotional stuff and the groove stuff- I like both, and I play both in the sets. Last year was all about the feeling of "Trance," so I really put it all out there. This year, I haven't gotten any massive plans for new material, but there is still singles to come, remixes to come, and the album project still isn't done yet! You know, last year was crazy. From January to October I never had a full day off. I think that this year, it's time to get a little more under control. I don't have an album to write this year, so it won't be as heavy as last year. But I definitely have to keep up the momentum of this year, keep going, and keep driving. I just won't be going quite as crazy as 2013!
I have one final question for you. What is "Trance" to you? What do you think it conveys?
The sound of trance is continually changing, and many will debate what the sound of true trance is. But to me, Trance is about that vey specific feeling that people receive from the music. It encompasses all of trance, whether it be emotional, tech, or darker trance, it provides everything. They all have their place- and ultimately in a trance set, all of them will work together to take you somewhere. The end goal is to transport you somewhere else.
Special thanks to Lange for taking the time to chat with us. Here are a few more photos of a most epic night: