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Wednesday 17th, September 2003
Johan Gielen (2003)

On the 15th of September 2003, Trance.nu contributor Twan van Loon a.k.a. Dancemania went to Johan Gielen's house for an interview with this popular DJ, producer and remixer. In Johan's nice Japanese garden the following interview was held:

T.nu: Some time ago your new episode of your mixed cd series “Recorded” has been released. What sorts of reactions did you get on it?
Johan: The first reactions are starting to roll in, I’ve got a few via Email. All of them are positive, people are very happy to see it’s a double-cd. I especially sorted that, CD1 is called “On the Beach”, containing the summery tracks that work very well in the summer and on Ibiza and Greece. CD2 is called “In The Club” and contains somewhat more building, pumping tracks. A lot of styles I spin, are mixed on this CD actually.

T.nu: You cooperate with Sven Maes a lot; Together you are responsible for projects such as “Airscape” and “Svenson & Gielen”. You’ve worked together for a couple of years, but Sven has never seen the spotlight like you have. Is Sven also a DJ or is he just the producing man in the back?
Johan: Well Sven has seriously tried to start spinning in the past also, but never actually succeeded to gain the interest. See, if you are a good producer, why should you also be a good DJ? We work closely together in the studio, but for the new “Johan Gielen” album, I’m also working with other producers. That’s a choice I made, since we don’t want to produce an album for Sven and for me. It would be so timeconsuming, and it would mean we, together, should produce 24 new tracks. Wasn’t that much of a good idea. Resulting in a smaller diversity in sound, so we chose not to. I’m producing tracks with different producers. For instance I’m working with the guys from “Three Drives”; Erik de Koning and Ton T.B. I’m also heading to Ronald van Gelderen this week, to produce a track in his studio. Theres also plans to head into the studio in the UK with a couple of producers, but nothings certain so I can’t fill you in too much about that.

T.nu: So theres a Johan Gielen Solo Album planned?
Johan: Yes, that’s correct. Its planned for May or June next year, 2004.

T.nu: The last Svenson & Gielen release was Beachbreeze, with the vocals of English vocalist Jan Johnston. Are there plans to work with other singers in the future?
Johan: Offcourse; The Svenson & Gielen story has not ended yet! Theres gonna be a special DJ EP (12”) with tracks of the album, that are well suited for the clubs. But alongside this all im working very hard on my solo album, and for sure, there are gonna be a few guestsingers! We are still negotiating this issue, but there are big names among the list.

T.nu: This EP you just mentioned, are there gonna be remixes of Svenson & Gielen productions?
Johan: I’m still looking at that, but I myself would like to remix “Twisted”. Since this track is still so succesfull in the clubs. If you place that track on the turntable the floor will instantly ignite into a dancefrenzy. Its definitely one of the better tracks on the album. Maybe we might lay our hands on “The Beauty Of Silence” again, to remix it. That would be considered a bonustrack if we succeed.

T.nu: Can we expect new Svenson & Gielen remixes, or a Johan Gielen remix in the future?
Johan: Surely, new Johan Gielen remixes can be expected beginning next year. Though I tried to keep off the huge amount of remix-requests. I still receive requests for remixes weekly, but I did not do them, because we would be in the studio for 2 weeks. Its been so busy lately, we just did not accept them. I think I can better spend the time that I have left on my solo album, than on remixes. My album is my top priority at the moment.

T.nu: Are there ideas to re-release original Airscape tracks like “Amazon Chant” and “Pacific Melody”, with or without new remixes of those tracks?
Johan: No, I can be short about that. My old recordlable has treated me so bad, I don’t allow them the comfort of new releases. They could however re-release the original old versions, but new remixes I wont allow! I promise though, to produce new Airscape tracks that will be just as good or even better than the old ones!

T.nu: You’ve also got your own radioshow on ID&T called Lift-Off. You’ve already spun the new Airscape track a few times, but everybody’s wondering what the title is, and when its going to see a release?
Johan: The release is planned for ending this year, beginning next year. White Lables are going to be spread amongst the DJ’s offcourse. Some DJ’s do have it exclusively; Tiësto, Ferry Corsten and Judge Jules for instance. They’ve been supporting the track for some time now, which is offcourse great! I chose to release it towards the end of the year, because I think the track could be well fit around New Year.
And yes, there is already a title for the track. I have chosen a Japanese title, all regarding my former recordlable. Luckily I’ve finished off the deal with them, and we got Airscape not related to any labels anymore. Its not exclusively connected anymore, so I own the name now. In respect for the license partners we had back then, also in foreign countries, we stayed off producing Airscape solotracks. We did do some remixes though, for instance Airscape – Silence. The remix we did for the Delerium track After All, was made under our guise Svenson & Gielen. But I can announce Airscape will return into the scene, and it will be stronger than ever! We are even planning an album after 2 or 3 releases.

T.nu: You’ve been active in the music scene for a very long time now, and you’ve seen the musical style change over time. Where it began as club and melodic, it has pretty much transformed into a harder, tougher style. What do you think of it and what is your preference?
Johan: Ive always tried to keep an own sound, and im not used to spinning too complicated music. I always spin my music for the public and the audience and never for myself. But to be honest the last one and a half, two years, ive started to spin a broader selection of music. It always depends on where to spin, who was the one that spun before you and the one that climbs behind the tables after me. Also in which country you spin, is a factor. But I can be honest, next to my main-sound – the trance sound – I also like to expiriment with progressive and techno sounds once in a while.
What seems to be hot at the moment, are the electro-inspired tracks. They work very well, and I enjoy spinning those. For instance the new Ferry Corsten track “Rock Your Body, Rock”. It has gained my interest, amongst other tracks. But I think every DJ has a different intuition about what music to bring to the audience at that time, but my goal has always been to get the party started and to bring the house down! It means I don’t spin too complicated, and I wont spin the same set twice; Ever. Unlike some of the UK DJ’s that go to Ibiza beginning June, with a recordbox full; And ending September they return with the same recordbox still filled with nothing new. You have to be open for new things and always try and test new sounds on the floor. My Lift-Off show on ID&T is perfect for that. It gives me great impulse, I get a lot of reactions on the show. People always tell me if a record was great. And this way I can tell what people like and what people dislike.

T.nu: You’re a busy DJ visiting a lot of continents around the world. Can you compare the scene in Europe, America, Australia and Asia or are there big differences between them?
Johan: See, huge differences between the scene in different countries don’t exist. The one place people are a lot more enthusiastic than the other. For instance in Holland I do have a lot of people who support me all the time; A group of a few people that follow me wherever I go spin. I can clearly notice that in the last couple of years the group of supporting people behind me is growing. But that’s something you got to work on, by spinning good quality music in different places.
Japan is like a second home to me, I’ve lived and worked there for 2 years and everytime I spin in Japan its an instant insane party from the first to the last record I put on. Isreal is also a very good country musicwise, last time I visited it was totally cool. And even in America we found a way to spin trance, not to forget after what Tiësto has done there. Ferry and Armin are also getting more interest from Americans. We ourselves are working hard to find a way to reach some goals in America, but that’s not a matter of a few days, it takes years to succeed. In Holland on the other hand, I think I’m almost at the top of what you can reach. I wont forget them ever, and I try to spin at least 2 weekends a month in Holland. The other 2 weekends I fill up with foreign gigs. Whats there to know about whats going to happen next year? If we only knew!

T.nu: Are you going to do a DJ tour in Australia or Asia?
Johan: Asia is lined up, we are still planning a lot and working on it very hard. We will do the tour beginning next year. Our Australian tour is set though; Second and Third week in February 2004 we will visit all big cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbayne and so on. We got 7 gigs lined up. America is also in the pipeline for next month. Club Glow, my 3-monthly residence, celebrates my 1 year anniversary residency. I will visit that again next month. Curacao, Aruba also planned. Those are not the best locations or the biggest places you can spin, but its so much fun to do. You will spin outside, in the open air on the beach. A few thousand people who share this experience with you, those are the cool things to do. Also offcourse that theres a nice holiday for me around the gig. Furthermore Montreal and New York have been planned, so that’s going to be a very good tour. And next year there will be tours, longer periods of time where I will tour around. See, travelling around the world, sitting in a plane for a couple of times in a short period, just to visit 2 gigs, does break you down. Its very heavy to do it.

T.nu: If you were asked to do a free DJ Set for charity, would you do that?
Johan: Absolutely, I tend to do a lot for charity. For instance “Wessel van Diepen” [Red.: DJ at Dance Department, a radio show on Radio 538] has set up “World DJ Day” for Holland, but it has been pulled onto the entire globe. I just participated for the second year, and it means I just offer them one booking for free. This year it was for charity “Emma Kinderziekenhuis” [Red.: Dutch Childrens Hospital]. But offcourse, if it’s so important for someone of something to see me doing something, I will not think twice and do it. For instance I visited a very ill boy some time ago. He was such a big fan of mine, it was very emotional. Considering the fact it was not sure if he would ever recover from the disease. Those are the things that are important in life. Its not always about money, you have got to care about those little things, for instance charity.

T.nu: This year DJ-Mag Top100 sees the return. Last year you were placed at spot number 50, what do you think about this concept? Do you think it’s important?
Johan: I never tend to care too much about those lists. But to be honest, the DJ-Mag list is one of the, if not the best, charts around. Last year saw me being surprised to be in the Top100 out of nowhere. Offcourse such a chart helps you building your carreer, but to be honest if you are listed on 99 or on 3, it doesn’t matter. And remember your place to perform is behind the turntables and not on some list on the internet. Offcourse it helps the hype around you, and its good to see you on that list, but your carreer doesn’t depend on it at all! At least that’s what I think.

T.nu: For a few months you got your own radio show on ID&T Radio called Lift-Off. How is it to do the show? Did you like it at first or was it tough to get going?
Johan: Actually its not my first radio show, as I have done little radio shows on local stations in Belgium in the past – before I became DJ in clubs. Ive gained a lot of experience back then. Lift-Off is not more than a reflection of what I spin and what my style is. I want to entertain the people that plan to go out on Saturday night, with my music. I try to get them warmed up for the night. And I think that’s exactly what the shows doing. Also the reactions I get in the show and the item called “Massive Three” (supported by Massive Records), are very good to get in touch with the audience. Massive helps me out on a lot of things, they make sure I get the good tracks and they send me the best stuff. It’s a nice experience to have backup from such a lable that thinks its important to have me play it.

T.nu: How many promo’s do you receive weekly?
Johan: 20 to 30 for sure. And offcourse since the effect of technology the past time is the sending of CDr’s to me. The recordindustry is offcourse, just like the economy, not at its peak, maybe well negatively influenced by downloading music! The recordlables get some DJ’s to spin their CDr’s to see how the crowd reacts and then the press whitelables. And this way I get a lot of exclusive material, of which im proud.

T.nu: What would be your favourite track of the year so far?
Johan: “Polaroid – So Damn Beautiful (Dogzilla Remix)”. I’m one of the few DJ’s that actually got the record and spin it, also because its still not released. I’ve been spinning that track for 4 months now. That track is a track that has got something! The original is already 7 or 8 years old, sounding a bit like “Dido” does right now. It has also been used in a few movies, for instance “Trainspotting”. I think its going to be released somewhere in the near weeks, and I dare to predict that track is going to hit top 3 in the UK. Ive been saying that ever since I got it in my hands the first time. Its surely one of my favourites.
For my own tracks, I would say the latest Airscape. I could see things happen with that track too.

T.nu: Do You have tips for beginning DJ’s?
Johan: Absolutely! Be original, be driven by your passion, be positive about yourself, and keep your feet firmly on the ground. I think if you keep doing that, the goals you set to yourself can be reached. Offcourse don’t think it can be done in one night, you can ask all big names around, it will take its time! Most have worked hard for 10 to 15 years now and finally succeeded.

T.nu: Do you have other hobby’s next to spinning and producing?
Johan: Yes, Scuba-diving, my Japanese Garden and my Koi-Fish. It’s a 180* spin around, its the other way of my busy lifestyle when spinning or producing. Scuba diving calmes me down totally. Two or three times a year I try to keep doing that. The Maladives I tend to visit the beginning each year. And for instance on such a party on Curacao, I will also hit the water when I am there.

T.nu: What could we expect in the near future of Johan Gielen?
Johan: I try to keep up spinning the way I am spinning now; See, when you become a bigger name in the game, you shouldn’t change your style or your spinning. I think I became big because of the style I spun and that’s the way I try to keep at. As long as my health can cope with it and I’m still enjoying what I do, I will continue. If sometime theres a day that I wake up and I cant do it anymore, or that I wont enjoy it anymore, I will surely pass it on to new young talents.
Furthermore my Johan Gielen Album is very important to me.

T.nu: Do you have a final word for the visitors of Trance.nu?
Johan: I would like to thank everyone very much, all the people that have been supporting me. I think Trance.nu is one of the best sites there are. I don’t have a lot of time to regularly check the internet, but IF I do, I do visit it. It’s a very good site. Also enjoy the signed CD’s Trance.nu is going to give away in the competition. happy

T.nu: Thanks for this interview!
Johan: Thank you too!

Link: http://www.johangielen.com

Translation: Paul Moelands

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