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Thursday 18th, August 2005
Art of Trance Interview!

Simon Berry aka Art of Trance is one of the pioneers of the trance scene as we know it, having produced some seminal classic tracks such as Madagascar and Breathe (ft. Caroline Lavelle). He took some time out from his busy schedule promoting the new album "Tales of the Unexpected" to answer a few questions for trance.nu...

Thanks for doing the interview Simon! First things first, what have you been
up to recently?

I’ve been compiling tracks for the forthcoming down-tempo compilation ‘The Art Of Chill 2’ which we’re planning to release in the autumn. It’s going to sound very different from vol. 1 and I’m really excited about it. We’re also planning remixes of Two Full Moons & A Trout’ by Union Jack.

Most of our users will know you from the track “Madagascar”, but you have been behind several seminal trance classics, which moments in your career are you most proud of and why?

This has to be signing Robert Miles’ ‘Children’. It was the 18th release on the label. It was a unique sounding track that sounded great in a club. I first heard one of a handful of test pressings in a club called The Firehouse in Orlando shortly after we’d come off stage from a Union jack gig. It blew me away with it’s lush spacious production and effortless euphoric appeal. I just had to find out what it was. I remember having quite a nervous excitement about putting it out as it was so melodic and a bit more commercial sounding than previous releases. It has to be remembered I had absolutely no idea of it’s sales potential. I thought at best it might sell around 3,000 copies. Little do I know it would go on to being the biggest selling trance release of it’s time, selling around 900,000.

What releases do you have coming up?

As well as this ‘Tales Of The Unexpected’ compilation, we’re planning new remixes of ‘Two Full Moons and A Trout’. There’s a few other new and interesting projects in the pipeline.

The new album “Tales of the Unexpected” hits the shelves soon; explain to us the idea behind the album.

At the moment we’ve decided enough is enough and it’s time for change. After 12 years of releasing records we’ve decided to have a rethink. Trance music as we currently know it has hit a brick wall, there’s a distinct lack of creativeness out there amongst producers and I’m getting increasingly less tolerant of clichéd and unoriginal music, for example instead of receiving a pile of exciting demos through the post last month, we’ve really not had anything of any substance and it’s got us thinking…’ This compilation is round up of the best new tracks I could get my hands on. Unlike previous Platipus In-house compilations, none of the tracks are on Platipus (bar one). There are a few surprises in there too – especially on the first cd which is quite a departure from the material the label has been releasing recently. I’m very excited and I’m proud of the track selection and package as a whole. Apart from that we’re planning a new high profile / credible dj mix compilation series I addition to another compilation concept that goes back in to time.

Which tracks on there are your favourites and why?

I love Luke Chable's remix of Terry Grant's "I'll Kill you'. The vocal is great and the production is slick. It was on the strength of that remix that i asked him to Remix ‘Two Full Moons & A Trout’. The other track on there I really like is ‘Distant Heartache’ by Re:Locate. Beautiful strings and harmonies, and just a classic trance track.

Which producers are you a fan of? Are there any producers you particularly admire?

I really like James Holden’s production. The way he processes sounds and fucks them up yet still keeping it really musical is inspiring. Ulrich Schnauss is in a league of his own too. The last Syntax album was a fantastic production - it should have got far more recognition than it did. I've always rated Royksopp, and there 2nd album was another great production. Jon Hopkins is definitely a new name to watch out for. He’s already been hailed as a ‘genius in the making’ by Brian Eno and the ‘Grandchild of Ambient’ by Echoes magazine. He’s just mixed the forthcoming Art Of Chill 2 compilation for Platipus.

Which DJs are you digging right now?

I like what sasha and Nick Warren are doing. Sasha’s new Fundacion album is technically excellent, both tracks and the mix, and very musical too which I like.

What are your favourite tracks of all time and why?

1st choice has to be 'Hardtrance Acperience' by Hardfloor. So many of it's individual production elements were groundbreaking. The build up was like nothing i'd heard before in a trance production. In the right conditions, the effect on the floor was devestating. The 3 time 303 lines , the dark hi-hats... the snare rolls (1st trance track to use them) i could go on and on...

The Martian (aka Underground Resistance) 'Stardancer' - In my opinion Jeff Mills' finest moment- Awesome 303 Bassline, flange-soaked keys, just an uber cool track. Originally released in ’93 as a b side and still sounds fresh 12 years on.

Capricorn '20 Hz' - Sounds like nothing else! One of the most dynamically challenging trance records i've ever heard. Beautiful little bell line too. Those drum sounds could potentially destroy a sound system if played too loud, but at the same time it sounds fantastic played quiet on a beach.

Vapourspace 'Gravitational Arch Of 10' – Completely unique sounding track. cinematic lead lines - big punchy sound - great production from Mark Gage

Joey beltram 'Energy Flash' – Obvious choice I know, but baring in mind it was released in 1990 you can’t knock it. Another cracking Bass line. Love the Oscar synth ‘wow’s’ too.

What is your opinion on the shift from vinyl sales to mp3 and downloads?

You can't stop progression & the advancement of technology, which we wholly embrace but there's nothing else like the look, feel & warm sound of vinyl.

When you’re not in the studio or behind the decks what do you do to relax?

I like to meet up with friends, in a bar, at a party or a nice restaurant – I love good food and wine. Maybe some tennis or badminton, or I might even visit a good old fashioned nightclub – although less and less these days!

How do you see your sound evolving?

Since I got rid of the 12 foot mixing desk and studio etc, my whole system is pretty much confined to one box (give or take a few modules). Since then I must admit I find it harder to get into the whole thing as there are so many thousands of choices with plugins and the amount of sound libraries and synth module construction in something like Reactor. It’s just too easy to get side-tracked into a completely different thing and by the time you come out the other side and give yourself a bit of a slap it’s time for tea!

And finally what are your ambitions, where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years time?

I have no idea. I think im going to take up the Ukulele!

Tales of the Unexpected is out now on Platipus Records


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