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Thursday 25th, February 2010
Bart Claessen 2010 interview!

Busy times for Dutch DJ / producer Bart Claessen! After releases such as 'Playmo', 'First Light' and 'Madness', he's back with his latest track 'Elf', which will be out very soon via Anjunabeats. Furthermore another new Bart Claessen track got signed to Flashover Recordings for the upcoming Ferry Corsten compilation 'Once Upon A Night'. Besides that, Bart recently finished some new cool remixes for Di-Rect, Funk D’Void, Paul Keeley, Meck and ... right now he's busy with remixing a track for 2 very big names!

Bart Claessen

Trance.nu: Bart, after releases such as “Playmo”, “First Light” and “Madness”, your new track “Elf” will be released soon. Right now the track has been played already in the radio shows from Above & Beyond, Ferry Corsten and Armin van Buuren. Which other DJ’s are supporting “Elf” as well?
Bart: Yeah, besides Above & Beyond, Ferry and Armin “Elf” gets support from Tiësto and Sander van Doorn as well!

Trance.nu: Is there a special meaning behind the title “Elf”?
Bart: Yes there is! It has nothing to do with elfs or something like that, but “elf” means eleven in Dutch. I was counting how many own productions (so without the remixes) I already had done and since I had no idea about how to name this track first, I decided to simply name it “Elf”.

Trance.nu: When will “Elf” be released? And will there be any remixes from it as well?
Bart: The release date for “Elf” is set on March 1 via Anjunabeats. Besides the original version, I made a remix myself as well the other day, which I called the “2001 Returning Mix”. I also received a surprising remix from Fine Taste (Freek Geuze & Johan Vermeulen). They loved the melody and immediately remixed it. But that one was late to be included in the release package of March 1st, so it will probably be released some time later.

Trance.nu: I’ve heard that you finished at least 2 other tracks as well. Can you tell us something more about that already?
Bart: Well, in fact I finished some more tracks as well. I wasn’t really happy with the amount of releases that I had in 2009, mainly due to shifted release dates etc. So I got a bit annoyed by that and I went back into the studio to work on some new material. And normally I’m not really fast with producing, but this time it went really good, so I finished some new things in a pretty short period. One of the tracks is called “Hartseer” and this one will be out later this year on Flashover Recordings. And besides that, it’s one of the new tracks on the upcoming Ferry Corsten mix compilation “Once Upon A Night”. I also finished a track for the upcoming Susana album on Armada. I did a track together with her, which was really cool to do. I also have another track finished, which is an instrumental one right now, so I’m waiting on the vocals for that one!

Trance.nu: How would you describe your own style?
Bart: I always call it tech-trance, simpley because it’s a combination of tech and trance. Mostly when I am starting on a new track, I start with something rhythmic which sounds pretty techy and then I add some trancey sounds to it, because I like melodic stuff myself a lot. So I just call it tech-trance!

Trance.nu: Would there be other genres of music that you would like to produce in the future?
Bart: I really like a lot of different styles actually and I still want to make some techno tracks as well. And lately there are so many good house tracks, so I might try to make a house track in the future as well. Especially because house and trance music are getting more closer, not only the tempo, but also production wise. So there are some trance tracks that sound pretty housey, but also house tracks that sound really trancey, Like for example, the Afrojack remix of the track “Shed My Skin” by Housequake & Anita Kelsey (originally by D*Note). It’s a beautiful house track, but you could also say it’s a sort of slow trance track. I find this very interesting and I really like it, so why would I not try to make something like this as well? For example, some things from Wippenberg, sometimes I can’t even tell if it’s house or trance, it goes into so many different directions. The problem is that I have so much stuff to do still, so for now I have no idea when I would start on this.

Trance.nu: For most of your productions, you work on your own, except for the track “Madness”. For this one you worked together with Polish producer Dave Schiemann. Are there plans for another track together with him?
Bart: Hmmm, we actually never really discussed that to be honest. The collaboration for “Madness” actually happened a bit by coincidence. In fact, I don’t plan a lot of collaborations with others to be honest, since I always have the feeling that it’s not really working.
I mean, you are with 2 people that want to do exactly the same, so for me I don’t think it’s going to work. You need to be two people with different skills to be able to get to something new, instead of two sitting in one studio, trying to do exactly the same. So it wouldn’t work with everyone if you ask me. With Dave it was a bit of a different story, since he did sent me a track that he finished and he asked me if I knew a label that would release it. The track was called “Madness” then already and it had an incredible lead sound. Though the production I thought was way too hard, too dirty and too fast etc. So I gave him some tips on how to change it, so it would sound a lot better. So at the end I told him that I would make a quick edit of it. But when I was busy with that, I made some new melodies and after all I totally re-produced the track from the beginning including the vocals and the trance melodies and the break down. So that’s how it happened.
So to answer your question, we don’t really made any plans for a follow up. It can always happen of course, though I’m not really a person who likes to collaborate with others to be honest. But … I’ve recently been into the studio with Raz Nitzan. Raz is not really a studio guy, but he always has great ideas, so the idea for this collaboration was that we wouldn’t make something complicated, but we’re just going to make a great trance track! Normally with every new track I try to make new things, new sounds and I want to do something that I never did before. But for this one, we just wanted to make something inspired by some real trance music, but then with my own touch. And that works really easy and fast for me, so in only 1 day we almost finished the entire track!

Trance.nu: Are there any other producers that inspire you while making new music?
Bart: Hmmm, not really by certain producers that I can name now, but of course I get inspired when I hear music from others. I am a person that really likes to analyze tracks and actually that’s something that I already did when I was a lot younger. So even before I started producing myself I listened to music and when I heard something that I couldn’t recognize, I rewinded the tape or CD, just as long till I analyzed the whole track! And that’s something that I still do, so when I listen to a track that I like, I want to know why I like it. So that can be a certain sound or rhythm, or maybe the chord progression etc. And I do remind stuff like that, so that helps me to get inspired and getting new ideas for my own productions.

Trance.nu: How long does it take you normally to finish a production or a remix?
Bart: That really depends, in the last couple of years I really couldn’t finish a track within 2 weeks, but now I learned that I work pretty fast under pressure, haha! So that helps a lot! I think it started around last summer when I had some remix deadlines, so one of the remixes I finished in like 2 days and that was like a complete revelation to me!

Bart Claessen

Trance.nu: And how do you actually work when you start on a new track? Do you start with the melody, or do you make a new rhythm first?
Bart: That also really depends, like for example with “Elf”, I made the lead sound and the melody first. I was trying to make this round, warm, moving lead sound, so when I found that, I started to work on the melody. After that I added the piano, some other sounds, then the bass and after that I added the rhythm. At that point I got stuck a bit until I realized that I could use the bassline as melody at the same time as well and from that point on everything just went really smooth. I think that most of the times I start with a riff that I have as an idea in my head already, so not really with the melody or the rhythm, but more a combination of the bass and the rhythm. But yeah, actually it’s different with each track that I start working on!

Trance.nu: Are there any plans already for a full Bart Claessen artist album?
Bart: Hahaha, yeah that’s a good one! I think people ask me that already since 2003! I was always very reluctant regarding that, simply because I know I am a real perfectionist and I was afraid it would take me ages to finish so many new productions! So for example, in the past I worked almost 2 days to get a the perfect bass or bass drum sound for a track, so I was a bit afraid to start working on a whole album, because I had the impression that it would take ages for me to finish it! But lately I started producing a lot quicker, so yeah, why not? I’m not sure if it will work out, but I’m going to try to work on an album in the near future for sure!

Trance.nu: You recently finished an official remix for the Dutch rock band “Di-Rect”. You got to remix their track “Times Are Changing”. How did this work? After all you’re both making really different music. Did they got in touch with you or did you contacted them to ask if you could remix their track?
Bart: That actually was request from the management of Di-Rect. They have some people working there who listen to EDM as well, so they thought it would be cool to have some dance remixes of the track. I was never a huge fan of Di-Rect, but I have to say that I really liked “Times Are Changing”, so I asked them if there were plans to let people remix this one and they found it actually a good idea, so that’s how it happened! There were actually some other people who requested the same, so I believe at the end that they let 2 people remix the track and I was one of them.

Trance.nu: How are the reactions on your remix so far?
Bart: Very good! Of course Dutch people know Di-Rect and this track, since it peaked at number 2 in the Dutch charts, but for foreign people it’s totally brand new. But even they seem to like it a lot, so it seems that the track works really well as a dance track! It got early support already from Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten, and Lange. Lange even signed it to his label, so it will be released in the UK early March via Lange Recordings.

Trance.nu: You also finished another remix not too long ago for Toolroom. I’ve read that it had to do something with Meck, but also with Madonna. What is the story behind this remix exactly?
Bart: Yeah, that one is called “Feels Like A Prayer”. This is more like a mash up between Meck featuring Dino’s track “Feels Like Home”, a track from a few years ago and Madonna’s “Like A Prayer”. Somebody once made a mash up of those tracks and Madonna used this one for over a year during her Sticky And Sweet tour. And now they will release this one officially, I did one of the remixes and those should be out soon via Toolroom!

Trance.nu: I’ve read that you did some other remixes as well and that you are going to do a remix for a big name in the trance scene. So what new Bart Claessen remixes can we expect in the next couple of weeks / months?
Bart: For Anjunabeats I finished a remix for Paul Keeley’s track “Paper Jet”. People might know this track from the Anjubeats Volume 7 compilation. I remixed “Diabla” from Funk D’Void, this is an old techno track, which was really cool to remix. This one should be out via Dave Clarke’s label Soma Recordings later this year. I made it as a bootleg remix first to be honest, but the label wanted to release it. In fact, that’s how it goes a lot to be honest. My remix for Riva started as a bootleg first as well, my remix for Meck’s Windmills too, so I think I have some sort of a bootleg history, haha! But when I hear a track and get cool ideas for a remix, I just start remixing it without an official remix request or so. When I have cool ideas, this works the quickest for me.
And a remix that I did under my old Barthezz alias just got re-released. That was a remix that I did for the System F track “Soul On Soul”, with Soft Cell’s singer Marc Almond on vocals. They put this remix on the bonus disc of the remastered “Out Of The Blue” album.
Last but not least, I was recently asked to do a new remix for the track “Love Comes Again” from Tiësto with BT on vocals. So I’m actually in the middle of remixing that one right now!

Bart Claessen

Trance.nu: You just talked about your bootleg history and I remember you also did a great bootleg of “Need To Feel Loved” from Reflekt featuring Deline Bass. This one got support from Tiësto, Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten and the list goes on and on! I think your mailbox almost exploded with requests from people if they could get a copy of your remix. But in the end it never got released. What was the reason for that?
Bart: That’s a really good question, I have no clue why the record company didn’t wanted to release this one. I know that the official release was out already, so the timing of my remix could have been an issue, though that would be a bit weird still, since everybody was supporting my remix indeed. So it wouldn’t hurt to release an extra remix package later in my opinion, especially since there was not a remix in that genre yet. In 2009 they re-released the track with brand new remixes and then I got an email from Positiva about my remix, but at the end they didn’t used my remix and actually I have no idea why. But since I got so many good feedback on my remix I decided to re-build this bootleg remix into a new track, so I based my track “First Light” on the Reflekt bootleg, haha! Because I really hate it to make something which is not getting released, so I thought this would be a good idea instead!

Trance.nu: In the past you already did remixes for names such as Ferry Corsten, Super8 & Tab , Chocolate Puma, Blank & Jones, System F, Bardo State, Tranquility Base etc. Would there be any artists that you would really like to make a remix for?
Bart: Hmmm, no idea, haha! Actually it’s not something that I’m thinking of. There is not really a band that I would love to remix. Yeah, I do like Muse a lot, so it would be great if I could do a remix for them once. Though I won’t have sleepless nights if they don’t decide to ask me, haha!

Trance.nu: What would be your own personal favorite production and remix of yourself and why?
Bart: Well, most of the times that would be the last thing that I finished. In fact, nothing ever leaves my studio until I’m 100% satisfied about the result. But I don’t really have a favorite own production or remix. Right now I still like the remix that I did for “Windmills” from Meck and of course “Playmo” will also be one of my favorites. And of course I can’t forget “On The Move”, so if I have to pick a production, I’m going for “Playmo” and also for “On The Move”. And for a remix, hmmm, “Aria Epica” from the Signalrunners is still one of my favorites and I really like the remix that I did for “Cold Front” by Remo-Con as well. But I don’t really have just one favorite remix, so I can’t pick!

Trance.nu: Besides producing and remix, you’re also still really busy with DJ-ing. What can expect people when they go see a DJ gig of you?
Bart: I think that if people know the kind of music that I’m producing, that they have a bit of an impression what I play in my DJ sets. But it can go from stuff like my Bardo State remix and my “Paper Jet” remix to the remix that I did for Meck, which is a complete different style and tempo. So that’s a bit the beginning and the end from my set, plus everything that you can find in between it. It’s always a mix of tech and trance, I don’t really play a lot of pure trance tracks to be honest. Most of the time I play 1 or 2 of them, but no more.

Trance.nu: Where can people see and hear you in the next couple of weeks?
Bart: I’ll be playing soon in Tokyo and that’s been quite some time ago, so really looking forward to that! Then I’ll be playing in Leeds, and after that in Delft, the Netherlands. We are also working on some exciting new bookings in some countries that I haven’t been before, so keep an eye on my website for more to be announced dates!

Trance.nu: You also have your own radio show since a while now. What can you tell us about this?
Bart: The show is called “Playmo Radio” and I really like doing this! It’s a lot of work, but I’m always really satisfied once I’ve finished a new episode. The cool thing about making a radio show is that you can really play everything you like, so you don’t have to pay attention to who’s playing before or after you etc. So in my radio show I also play tracks that I really like, but wouldn’t normally play out in my DJ sets. Plus I can reach a bigger crowd of people, so people that I would never see at a DJ gig, can still listen to the show.

Trance.nu: Where and when can people listen to “Playmo Radio” exactly?
Bart: Every first and third Wednesday of the month there is a new “Playmo Radio” via Slinky FM between 10 and 11 PM CET. But soon you can listen to the show via some more FM stations as well! Keep an eye on the radio website for more info! ( www.bartclaessen.com/radio )

Trance.nu: What made you decide to start a radio show?
Bart: I think that a radio show is a good way to let people know about myself and the music that I like. Every radio show has its own style and I think I have my own style as well, so in my radio show you can also hear really cool tracks that get no support in other radio shows for example. And I just really like preparing the whole show. I have an item in my show that’s called “Claessen’s Classic”, which is a classic track that I played a lot in my sets in the early days, but that has been forgotten by most people. In fact, some of the classics I have forgotten myself almost already, haha! But yeah, some classics are really forgotten, since when I played them out people want to purchase them via digital downloadstores, but some aren’t even available in digital format. Of course the famous classics are available, but the less known ones seem to be really hard to find! For some classics I have to check between my vinyls and record them to my PC because there is no digital copy available. For future episodes I made a whole list of classics already. Some people never might have guessed that I would have played those classics in the Barthezz period, but actually my style wasn’t really that much different from now and one of the highlights of “Playmo Radio” in 2009 was the bootlegs favorite edition, which was an episode where I played all kind of cool and rare bootleg remixes and mash ups that I used to play back in the days. So those were tracks from 2003 till now, like the Junkie XL remix from “Blue Pill Red Pill” for example. Yeah, so many cool tracks that I almost forgot and haven’t heard anymore in ages, so that was a really cool show to do!

Trance.nu: I’ve also heard that you have plans to start with your own label. What is the reason for that? And is this going to happen anytime soon?
Bart: Well, that’s because of a few reasons. The first reason is that I hear so many good tracks that don’t really get the attention they should get. Mostly on the somewhat smaller labels who maybe just don’t get the support they deserve. So I think that if I have my own label that I could push those tracks more to help them to get more attention and support from myself and others. Because there are so many good tracks that just don’t get picked up for some reason. Furthermore I noticed that there are a lot of releases who simply just got signed by a label, without any good comments to the producer on how he could improve the track, so it would even sound better! I mean like a demo track that got emailed to a label, they sign it and release it as soon as possible, while it would have been even a better track with just some small adjustments in my opinion! So that is something that I would like to do better myself, so that I listen to the demo material, do the A&R myself and try to make it a successful record! And of course it would be good for myself to have a sort of a home base for my own releases, so I can schedule my own release dates. And that is because release schedules are changing a lot. Of course that is something that happens, but when you signed some tracks to different labels and did some remixes for other labels as well, you don’t want that everything gets released at the same time of course. So that will all be a bit handier when you have your own label.

Trance.nu: Don’t you think that people will say something like “oh, another artist who’s starting his own label!” or not?
Bart: Haha, well I don’t mind if they will say that to be honest. If I come up with good releases on the label I don’t really see the problem to be honest. There are lots of artists with their own label, but that’s not really something that I see as a problem. I rather see an artist with his own label than a big record company with numerous small sub labels without its own identity. Most of the DJ / producers with their own label have a sort of an own identity and a sort of a recognizable sound. Those labels I personally find much more interesting.

Trance.nu: What can we expect from you in the near future?
Bart: Hmmm, well we spoke about “On The Move” before in this interview, so maybe I will try re-work that one later that year. I know I’ve said that before already, but I think that I will go try to make it happen this year. I think it would be cool to make a new version that I could play in my sets again. And I think that it would work too, like for example, when I was in Scotland somebody brought an “On The Move” vinyl for me to sign and some people asked me if I could play it in my sets, so I just mixed it in and played a small part of the theme and the crowd went nuts, the club almost exploded, so that was really cool to see! So I think I really should try to make a new version of “On The Move” later this year.
And for the rest, well, there will be some busy times because of my new label, the radio show and all new releases, so that’s about it I think!

Trance.nu: Thanks a lot for your time and good luck in the future!
Bart: Thank you too!

Written by:
Twan van Loon

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