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Tuesday 03rd, April 2007
Lee Haslam

Lee Haslam has been one of the most solid and consistent producers and DJs on the harder side of trance for over a decade now. Behind many a hard dance anthem and remix including the immense ‘Music Is The Drug’, he has appeared on countless compilations worldwide. Recently he left his position as Head Of Music at leading UK hard dance label Tidy Trax after nine successful years. Since leaving, he has set up his own label, Digital Remedy, and returned to his first love, trance. With three Lee Haslam EPs already released on the label, each one bearing his signature attention to detail and quality, he is on a roll. Operating from his hometown of Doncaster, he has also set up his own night on a Sunday afternoon, Lee Haslam & Friends. Trance.nu caught up with Lee to chat about his reasons behind those decisions and his plans for the future.

t.nu: Firstly, thanks for taking the time to do this interview with trance.nu, how are things with you right now Lee?

LH: Very good thanks mate, enjoying life after tidy and being able to get my head down and work on my production, my label and my DJing so things couldn’t be better.

t.nu: You recently left Tidy Trax, where you were head of music, what were the reasons behind that decision?

LH: Yeah I was Head Of Music there so it was my role to control everything to do with the label from it’s Licensing, Business Affairs, Manufacturing, Distribution, Ringtones, Digital Downloads, Mastering, Production, Marketing and Global Brand Management so basically project managing all of it’s 12” single and album releases.

At the end of the day I had a number of reasons for leaving but all revolving around the music and the direction I wanted to go in as a DJ and producer. From 2004 hard dance for me became very samey, you could almost predict what was going to happen when and what sounds would be used. When I started DJing in 1996 I played trance and when I started at tidy in 1997 there was such a plethora of styles and productions from Signum to Trauma to Jon The Dentist to Untidy Dubs. There was something for everyone but as time went on the hard trance sound took over and most importantly record labels really started to struggle with sales as file sharing got worse leaving labels with no option. In hard dance labels had lost the ability to push the boundaries and experiment with new tracks, remixes and ideas because they could not take the risks anymore. What they released had to be an obvious “hands in the air” anthem as they were the only things that seemed to be selling at retail which meant for me the genre lost its way. It had lost it’s groove and originality which attracted me it in the first place. It is very difficult to break the mould of a tried and tested formula, especially of one which you know works and sells records but when I was still hearing tracks sent to me that sounded just like “Music Is The Drug” from four years ago or constant re-works of classics it really started to get me down as the genre wasn’t progressing and developing, it was constantly looking at the past and emulating it or updating it rather than pushing forward and being different and that just wasn’t me any more so I needed to leave.

t.nu: Do you think hard dance has had its day and will it ever come back?

LH: I sincerely hope not but I do think it needs some changes if it is to have longevity. As I said earlier it all seems to be bootlegs of classics at the minute and not that much really good hard house about but I am sure it will come back round again. Music has a tendency to do that as proved by hardcore which has now exploded again in the UK.

t.nu: How is your new label, Digital Remedy, going?

LH: Very well, I set the label up before I left tidy in October 2006 because it was something I have always wanted to do and it was important for me to develop a portal where I could release my music through on a regular basis. I was getting tracks picked up by other labels but it would be six months before they were getting released and I wanted to be releasing ten singles a year so it just wasn’t viable for me anymore. Already I have had a track signed to Christopher Lawrence’s new Gatecrasher Album and to Avex in Japan so its had a great start.

t.nu: What made you decide to go totally digital with the label?

LH: For me this the future of music distribution and I like the flexibility of it. You haven’t got the long selling in periods as you do with vinyl at retail and with virtually every single DJ playing off CD now there wasn’t really any other way of doing it for me.

t.nu: So far it has been a platform for your own productions, will you be releasing tracks from other producers?

LH: I certainly hope so, the next two releases are collaborations with Guy Mearns & Michael Dow with people like Joey V, Lee Osborne and Will B all pencilled in to do remixes in the near future but at the minute it is really important for me to get as many tracks out there as possible to push the new sound as unfortunately it appears I am too well know as Lee Haslam from tidy and not Lee Haslam the trance DJ and producer which is something I have to change very quickly.

t.nu: You said that you would return to your first love, trance, but you’ve added a techier twist. How would you describe your sound now?

LH: I take a lot of influences from people like Randy Katana, Richard Durrand, Sander van Doorn, Fabio Stein and Marcel Woods but I like to feel that I am creating my own sound which is a hybrid of many influences. I do swing to the darker side of tech trance though in my tracks and it has to have power and bags of energy for it to even attract my attention.

t.nu: You’ve just started up a new night in Doncaster, Lee Haslam & Friends on a Sunday. With Doncaster not being the clubbing capital of the UK and being on a Sunday, what makes you think this will work?

LH: I don’t, I am taking a gamble but it is my home town and I know the area well. The Lee Haslam & Friends project though is something I want to develop and Doncaster is where it will start but if it doesn’t work there then I will try somewhere else. The Sunday idea was to do something that little bit different. I love the vibe you get when you go Sunday clubbing and that vibe is something I want to create with my own night so that I can push my style, my name and the Digital Remedy label.

t.nu: Do you have any big name guest DJs lined up?

LH: Yeah I would love to have all the DJ’s that influence me over to play but it’s early days for me to be paying big big money. The next event will be in June or July and I have already earmarked some people but it’s a night that will have to build to that scale. I think it’s important to get a following for a night and a good core fan base first.

t.nu: Which producers in tech-trance do you admire and who do see as the best up and coming talent?

LH: Well as I mentioned earlier I love people like Richard Durrand, SvD, Marco V, Fabio Stein and Randy Katana and these DJs and producers really do influence me and I respect them greatly but on the up and coming front I would have to say people like Michael Dow, Lee Osborne, Will B and Joey V have all proven themselves that they are names of the future.

t.nu: Tech-trance is the ‘in’ sound right now… do you see this trend continuing for the foreseeable future?

LH: I think it will yes… one of things I love about it is that you never know what you are gonna get with it. No hard and fast rules or formula that everyone is sticking to and for me that it was makes it so appealing, which lets face it was what attracted me to hard house in the early days. It can be melodic, techy, minimal, uplifting, groovey, hard, whatever you want.

t.nu: Finally, do you miss the madness of the Tidy Trax days? Is there a particular anecdote you can tell us?

LH: Ha ha, far too many to mention to be honest and yes I do miss them a lot. I had nine amazing years there and had the pleasure of working with some amazing people like Andy Pickles, Amadeus Mozart (The Tidy Boys ) and Russell Pate who is the current M.D. To see the label and the brand develop to where it is today is something I am very proud of and something I hope to emulate again with my own imprint and with my own DJ and producer career so watch this space.

t.nu: Many thanks again Lee and best of luck with everything you do!


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