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Thursday 11th, October 2007
A/B Project Interview

After a very successful year and with their latest smash Misconceptions about to hit the stores, we took the opportunity to catch up with Steve Anderson and Chris Breame, otherwise known as A/B Project!...

AB Porject Logo
t.nu: Hi guys, thanks for taking some time out to have a chat with us. How are you both?

Steve: Hi to everyone at trance.nu, and firstly thanks for inviting us over. I’m great cheers, been really busy this year - so not many complaints from me at all!

Chris: Yeah, we’re good. Plenty of time spent in the studio having fun, so I’m all smiles happy

t.nu: Ok, so your forthcoming single “Misconceptions” is currently being smashed by pretty much all the leading DJs. How have you found the reaction to the record, expected or warmly received?

Steve: I wouldn’t every say expected, but we’re definitely delighted with the positive reaction from everyone once more. Winning our second consecutive TATW web vote was a great start to the promotion of the new single, and it was topped off with the track being crowned “One For The Weekend” on BBC National Radio 1 in the UK. I was abroad when I got the call about that, and a few beers by the pool followed soon after that telephone call for sure. We also have the three guys who remixed the track to thank, for providing both us and Mondo with another great overall package. There’s something in there for everyone’s taste in Trance music.

Chris: Frankly, I’m really pretty chuffed about how good the reactions have been so far. I never thought that I’d be hearing my own stuff played on the radio and in DJ sets. It’s kinda nice to be driving around on a Sunday with the radio blaring and hear your own tracks come on!

t.nu: Eternal Optimism and Misconceptions have a definite vibe and we can clearly see you have a certain style, but as A/B Project how would you define your sound when working together?

Steve: Well actually, I would say that we in particular don’t have any rigid style or sound, we work hard to ensure that no-one hears any of our tracks for the first time and can immediately say “that’s “A/B Project”. Neither of us wanted to go down that road, and we will continue on this vein in the future. I suppose in summary we both share a love of uplifting melodies, paired with energetic drive and impact in what we produce - but after that we hope to keep on surprising you a little more each time.

Chris: Yeah, as Steve says we’ve been striving for a pretty different sound each time. Of course, you can’t help but have a few of your habits creep into each track which may be recognizable, but we really do try very hard to make each track stand out.

Steve Anderson
t.nu: Individually or together what’s been the personal highlight of 2007 for you so far?

Steve: Well, together first - I think the main highlight for A/B Project in 2007 so far must be the BBC Award, or simply the overall support we have had from the Trance community. Personally aside from that, I am overwhelmed with the positive global response I have received to my Trance Podcast at iTunes. I kicked this off around a year ago as an alternative to doing regular mixes, and I focus on showcasing 15 new tracks in a 1-hour mix each episode. I interact with guests and artists alike, provide information and early auditions of DJSA Records releases - as well as highlighting what I feel is really standing out at that given moment. It’s a great medium for everyone involved, and reaches a staggering number of people worldwide.

Chris: My highlight? Quitting my job to make music! There’s nothing like a beautiful sunny day, a cold beer and a hot studio to make you wish you were outside wink. Seriously though, that was the best thing that I’ve ever done and I’d recommend it to anybody.

t.nu: Can you let us know who have been/are your biggest musical influences to this date?

Steve: Well as Chris likes to remind me a few times each studio session (haha), I have a few years on him and have worked in music since I was 7. For the first 10 years I was a drummer and won world honours before fully making the transition into EDM, and so a few of my early influences are based around some great bands. I grew up on The Smiths, Sex Pistols, The Beat, The Jam, early 80’s Hip Hop and more before the UK House and rave scene took over me in 1988/1989. As a drummer I loved Stewart Copeland’s (drummer in The Police) stuff, and as for EDM a personal friend of mine named Dave Calikes showed me the way very early on in my DJ career. Dave sadly passed on at just 32 years old in 1996, and I vowed then that I would carry on his ego-free friendly attitude wherever things took me. He was a great DJ and an inspiration to me, and there should be more people like him around today.

Chris: That’s a big one to answer and really I don’t know…. I’ve always loved music from an early age. In fact, I never really went more than a few minutes without having some music blaring out somewhere. I’m sure it drove my parents mad. I used to love all the weird 60s and 70s music – prog rock and nonsense lyrics. I grew up on my dad’s mixtapes with classics like “Boris The Spider” and The Bonzo Dog Doodah band.

In fact, my dad forced a whole load of Pink Floyd (which I still hate to this day), Beatles, ABBA, Madness and Beach Boys on me. I love everything really (unless of course it’s REM). When it comes to dance music, I suppose I started out with jungle and drum & bass. Hype and the Ganja Kru, Andy C, LTJ Bukem, that sort of thing. Dance music has always been really close to my heart. I saw the birth of trance music and just loved it – it’s something that has always stuck with me. I’ve always loved the old classics such as Thrillseekers, Lange, Lost Witness, Matt Darey, Ferry Corsten, Paul van Dyk, Chicane and Darren Tate.

t.nu: Do either of you have any other artists/labels that inspire you?

Steve: Artists that inspire me vary a lot, I am a music fan first and foremost and can appreciate almost anything that is well put together, original and has identity. On that front I always smile when I hear something new from the likes of Above & Beyond or Darren Tate, because those guys have great natural talent and are at the top of their game. As for labels, I’ve always supported Mondo Records releases even before we signed to them in 2006. Anjunabeats are extremely consistent in quality, and a personal favourite for me has always been In Trance We Trust.

Chris: For the label, it’s got to be Anjunabeats. I’m always pleasantly surprised whenever there is a new Anjuna track out, and I’ve followed everything the A&B guys have done, ever since their very first track and any cheeky white labels they never released. Others I always keep my eyes peeled for are Signum for sure – so many of their tracks have been absolute stormers that I pick up almost everything they do. Daniel Kandi, Super8 & Tab, Alex M.O.R.P.H. & Stoneface & Terminal are firm favourites too.

t.nu: There’s a lot of talk about how the dance scene is constantly changing, both in club land and in the production circle. As a record label manager yourself Steve, what’s your current view on the state of dance music in general?

Steve: I agree that there is constant change, but then I have always seen constant change in the scene. It’s healthy for that to be the case, and the strong survive in an environment like this. I reviewed Lange’s “Angel Falls” a few months back for HarderFaster in London, which at the time was in advance of the original release – and that was a prime example. We all know the quality that Lange has provided our scene with in the last 10 years, but here he was with a totally new sound having moved with the times, adapted and delivered a beautifully produced answer to this very question. I believe that the state of dance music just now is as good as it’s ever been, and feel that more and more people are producing real quality output which we are all benefiting from.

This is partly a result of the tools required being more accessible to younger producers, so everyone has to really raise their game in order to stand out from the crowd. Naturally, the downside is the sales in a time where the internet is having such an impact due to filesharing. I do however believe that over time the situation will rectify itself again, because if there is one thing that is never going to go away – it’s the constant supply of fresh new music. DJSA Records has never been more committed to signing, remixing and releasing only the very best in fresh new Tech & Trance, something that will become very evident in 2008.

One thing I would add though is that the UK dance scene is extremely healthy just now. I really believe that we have some great talent here in the UK, and Scotland has a very strong representation within that too. When you consider that Scotland can currently lay claim to Mark Sherry, David Forbes, Terry Ferminal, Firestorm, Signalrunners, Davy Walker, A/B Project and more – it all looks very promising.

t.nu: You both produce tracks individually, which we’ll get to in a moment. But when you’re working together do you argue or is it perfect harmony in the studio?

Chris: We argue like an old married couple!

Steve: Haha – well I would say that we are both very strong characters, and we both have our say on everything that we do. I can’t say we ever argue….

Chris: He nags me like an old wife… haha

Steve: ….. but we do occasionally have differences of opinion on production decisions - which we work through to a compromise. If one of us has a particularly strong feeling to retain or scrap a particular element, then we generally accommodate each other. It really helps that we are both on the same page when it comes to writing anyway, and aside from the A/B work we are also very good friends. Chris is more mature than his years would suggest …

Chris: Why does toast always land butter-side down?

Steve: … and his professionalism is an essential thing for someone that I work with to have(!!)

Chris: Thanks buddy.

Steve: I’ve worked with or helped certain people in the past who can’t see past themselves, or who have taken credit for work that I or others have done for them. Those people get found out, and I’m happy to work with anyone who has a good attitude. Our A/B studio sessions are a highlight of my working week.

Chris: Yeah, the A/B studio sessions are always a good laugh and we’re both really passionate about working hard on our music.

Chris Breame
t.nu: Can you both tell us a bit about what’s going on in your careers away from working together A/B Project production wise?

Steve: This year has been my busiest since 2001/2002. I took the decision at the end of 2006 to spend 2007 in the studio, and it’s worked out as planned. My time is split between running DJSA Records, producing under A/B Project and other guises, remixing for the label, playing gigs in the UK and abroad, doing the Podcast for iTunes, and I’ve also now got back to producing some more solo material. Chris and I both share the view that our own respective solo work is also important on top of the A/B Project material, and we both have plenty on the way for everyone. Each of us did individual remixes for separate DJSA records releases this year, and they turned out to be the biggest tracks on the label to date.

The remix I did of Ignyta’s “Lost In Control” received a huge positive response this summer, and has since been licensed out for compilation CD release. At present, as well as A/B Project material, I am completing a new Steve Anderson track which also includes my own vocal - so expect to see that surface soon.

On top of everything I’ve already mentioned I also write Trance release reviews for HarderFaster.net, and lend a hand wherever I can to anyone that I can help out. When I started working in dance music 15 years ago this was the attitude that everyone had then, including me - and in that respect I haven’t changed one bit.

Chris: Well as I mentioned earlier, I quit my job to make music and I’ve been having a great time for the past 9 months or so. I’ve spent a lot of time getting my own sound down perfectly. In fact, I’ve got such an array of tracks which are ‘almost’ complete, I could probably make a few albums! There are a lot of new tracks in the pipeline and a new remix, and I’ve also been spinning some tracks on my new DJ setup. You’ll be hearing more from BRM in the coming months.

t.nu: Can you give us a little exclusive insight to what’s in store from A/B Project in 2008?

Steve: On the back of Misconceptions there are two new completed singles at present, which we will be announcing details of very soon. I don’t want to give too much away at this stage, but we are very happy with how these have turned out. We had ideas at the start of each track as to what we wanted from them, and we have managed to retain those ideas upon completion. If you liked the last two, then you will love the next two. They are both different again to the first three A/B Project singles, we have taken things forward and hopefully everyone likes what we have done with them. After that, we will now simply knuckle down and work on, pushing the boundaries and enjoying every minute of the ride.

That’s right, we’ve got some storming new tracks on the way. Both have beautiful strings and soaring melodies. One is a gorgeous trancer and the other a really dirty, tough, driving monster.

Steve: Apart from that, I was recently asked about the possibilities of a live show from A/B Project, which may be something to look at in the future – but if we go down that road then for us it would have to be done properly. By that I mean it would have to be based upon us actually bringing and playing live elements of our music, similar to Rank 1 when they perform - and not simply playing “live” (read: “pre-arranged!”) sets from a pair of laptops. That’s for certain!

t.nu: It’s often something that people love to read about so can you let us know a bit about your current setup? Do you work in separate studios or is there one studio you share. Is it Software or hardware? Or a bit of both?

Steve: Of course yeah no problem - we each have separate studios and use both for different things. I bought a new house last year, and while looking the first thing on the list of criteria was having a suitable area for building a home studio – properly! So my home studio was then built from the ground up with Chris’s help, and it’s now exactly as I want it. The setup is mainly inboard, with really the only hardware that I use being a Yamaha O1X desk, MIDI keyboard, Sontronics STC-2 microphone and a full setup of DJ kit. I am using a very meaty custom built PC… (Chris shouts “built by me!”) haha indeed it was - which is equipped with a high speed quad-core CPU (no freezing channels for me Chris! haha), Cubase SX 3 & 4, Ableton and a stack of plug-ins. I find now that everything I need is somewhere in a VST or VSTi, and the whole lot meets my ears via the gorgeous sounding Mackie HR824 monitors. The studio also has a leather suite, fully stocked bar and fridge, seated balcony and ensuite shower room – so I never really need to leave the place!

Chris: We generally tend to work on the A/B stuff in the studio round mine as it has a bunch of outboard gear. I’m running Cubase 4 on a custom built quad-core PC with dual widescreen monitors. In fact, I’m now sat right next to my O2Rv2 digital mixer, with a Virus TI, Roland JP-8080, Waldorf Q, EMU XL-1, BassStation, DrumStation, DBX 266XL, Korg Z1 and an Alpha Juno. Unfortunately, we’re starting to use the outboard gear less and less now, as the quality of VSTs has gone up so much in recent times. I’m constantly being impressed by the sounds which come out of some of the VSTi’s I’ve bought.

t.nu: If we wanted to catch you out DJing, where can we next see you performing?

Steve: Well for most of this year I purposely focused on studio work, and played only a few clubs. I was asked to run my SAturn promotion again this year at Eden in Ibiza - but declined the offer for this very reason. I no longer have time to promote nights, as my full-time priorities are now in production, the label and the other things that I mentioned previously. I can be found playing in the UK at the HarderFaster Xmas Party on Saturday 8th December, which is being held at club Hidden in London. I’m looking forward to road testing some of my new tracks there once they are complete, and meeting a number of people I have been working with this past year who are coming along. So if any of your readers are in the area that day then please come along, join in all the fun and say hello – I’m always up for meeting new people. And as for 2008, I’m always more than happy to play absolutely anywhere in the world.

Chris: So far, you won’t see me anywhere. I’ve always been in the production side of things and haven’t really taken the step to start DJing. That is all changing however, as I purchased a few choice bits of kit a couple of months ago and I’m honing my skills - before unleashing my sloppy cuts and distorted beats on the unsuspecting public.

t.nu: Where should we check for updates about you?

Steve: Well I suppose Chris will tell you that I am the better self-publicist of the two here, as all of our websites are mine! Haha – ok so here goes: www.steveandersonmusic.com, www.djsarecords.com, www.mondorecords.com, www.myspace.com/steveandersonmusic, www.myspace.com/djsarecords and finally www.myspace.com/abprojectmusic.

It’s no wonder i’m so damn busy..!!

Chris: I’ve never really been one for MySpace or the like. When it comes to A/B Project, I trust Steve to handle all the things on that side.

t.nu: Can you give us here at Trance.nu your Top 7 favorite new tunes of the moment?

Steve: Rather than the top 7 of the moment, I’m going to try and narrow it down to my top 7 of 2007 if that’s ok - as my picks are constantly changing. But for this year I have been impressed by the following tracks which really stood out for me, in no particular order:

1. Nitrous Oxide “Orient Express” (This was the Trancer of 2007 for me)
2. Daniel Kandi “Make Me Believe”
3. Terry Ferminal “Deep Inside”
4. Conrad S “Apologies”
5. DT8 Project feat. Alexta “Hold Me”
6. Above & Beyond “Home”
7. A/B Project “Misconceptions” wink

Chris: It’s pretty hard to choose just 7 tracks, as there are so many really good tunes out there just now. I’ll have a go though…

1. Tranquility Base – Oceanic [Original Mix]
2. BRM – The One [Breame’s ‘The Other One’ Remix]
3. Joonas Hahmo - Sound Of Sunday
4. Under Sun - Captured [Signum Signal Remix]
5. Mark Sherry vs Dr Willis - Here Come The Drums [Dave Schiemann Remix]
6. Mark Pledger vs Super8 & Tab - Worldwide [Original Mix]
7. A/B Project – Another Time

t.nu: Lastly what advice would you give to producers or DJ’s looking for their break?

Chris: My advice? Keep trying. Just keep hammering away until you succeed. Hone your skills as much as you can, and then keep honing them.

Steve: The advice I would offer here hasn’t really ever changed over time, and is more based at how to conduct yourself rather than technical knowledge. Each DJ or Producer should build their own style and sound, and not directly copy others. Don’t play what is simply in the big DJ’s sets, find your own music and build an identity of your own. Aside from that and more importantly in my opinion, be fair and honest when you deal with everyone – you will gain respect from the right people in doing so. It’s also a business with many more knocks than highs, so be prepared for that. As an ex-boxer I’m used to battling on when knocks come along – it’s all character building! But if you have talent, the right attitude, and are prepared to never give up – then I think you’ll do just fine.

t.nu: Guys, thanks for talking to us today - we look forward to Misconceptions coming out on 22nd October and also everything in store from A/B Project next year. All the very best!

Steve & Chris: Thanks a lot trance.nu, and everyone at the site for all your support this year. We have plenty more coming on the way for you again soon. Thank you!!

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