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Friday 27th, October 2006
Menno de Jong
Updated: Thursday 28th, May 2009

Dutchman Menno de Jong is known from projects such as ‘Halcyon’, ‘Myth’ and ‘Sayla’. Under his own name Menno de Jong he released the tracks ‘Guanxi’ (On the ‘Anjunabeats’ label) and ‘Tundra’, that was released in 2005 on his own label ‘Intuition Recordings’. Recently Menno did the track ‘Spirit’ together with Paul Moelands for Paul’s ‘Re:Locate’ album ‘Rogue’. And with Leon Bolier he worked together on 2 tracks under the name ‘Solar Express’. Furthermore we know Menno de Jong from remixes for artists and acts such as ‘Octagen vs Progresia’, ‘Hydra’, ‘Mark Otten’ and recently he remixed ‘Karen Overton - Your Loving Arms’. And last but not least Menno is a well known and very active DJ as well! You can not only see him at parties and in the clubs, but he’s also one of the DJ’s that’s on air a lot in the radioshow from ‘Intuition Recordings’.

Trance.nu: Menno, you are only 22 years old now and you are pretty active in the world of dance music. When did you became interested in (electronic) music?
Menno: My interest for electronic music started at a very young age. I’m not quite sure when, but well before the age of 10 I was listening to music from acts such as 2 Unlimited, Twenty 4 Seven, Dune, Robert Miles, Moby and much more. As a child I always had a fascination for music as well as electronics, with the both combined I found my true love in electronic (dance) music. My dad is a hobby musician and had a lot of musical instruments, my mom was singing with me since the day I was born (not much left of that singing bit now, I sound like Chewbacca these days!) Even at the age of 2 or 3 I was jamming away on the keys on a regular basis!


Trance.nu: When did you start producing music?
Menno: Between the age of 8 and 11 I lived in Berlin for 3 and a half years. During that period I started with piano lessons (later also drum lessons), and I spent more and more time trying to ‘compose’ music in one way or another. When I moved back to the Netherlands and started going to high school, some friends and myself discovered MS-DOS based sample sequencing programs such as Fasttracker. At the time I was 13 years old or so, and although what I made sounded terrible, it did lay a great foundation for making music. After that I moved from programs such as Madtracker to making music on an old Atari, then discovering Rebirth and later on Reason, and finally ending up with Cubase SX in combination with hardware and VST instruments, in which most of my released tracks have been produced (except for ‘Myth - Millionfold’, which was made in Reason).


Trance.nu: Were you inspired by any producers? Who?
Menno: Some of the earlier on mentioned names have inspired me to begin making electronic music, at the age of 14 however I started to specifically get into trance music. During the time I found out about music from artists such as Ferry Corsten (Especially ‘System F’ and ‘Gouryella’ stuff), Chicane, ‘Rank 1’ (and all their related aliases such as ‘Carlos’, ‘Kamaya Painters’ etc.), Tiësto, Oliver Lieb and many others.


Trance.nu: What (and when) was your first release ever?
Menno: My first ever release on CD was ‘Myth - Millionfold’, it was used on the ‘Clubcharts.nl’ CD dating back to 2003. ‘Clubcharts’ is a Dutch website with many talented young dance musicians on there (eg. Leon Bolier, Bart van Wissen, Phynn and Jonas Steur.) My first vinyl release was ‘Menno de Jong - Guanxi’, which was released on ‘Anjunabeats’. ‘Millionfold’ was released on vinyl after all only a few months later by ‘Gesture Music’, something I was very proud of since I made the track when I was only 17 years old!


Trance.nu: How would you describe your sound?
Menno: My sound is very diverse, I can play anything from progressive, trance, tech-house and techno to tech’trance - all irrelevant in the end since I just pick the music that I intuitively like the sound of. A few words that can describe the feeling of my music can vary between: Mysterious, melodic, harmonic, deep, energetic and uplifting.


Trance.nu: Are there any styles that you would like to try as well besides the trance related releases?
Menno: I might just venture into some progressive or techno, but I don’t feel any need to make things that are mainstream popular now such as hip-hop, electro or house. Trance has always been my main thing, and will remain so!


Trance.nu: What do you consider to be your best production and remix so far and why?
Menno: Personally I really like ‘Solar Express - Momentum’ (together with Leon Bolier) and my remix for ‘Mark Otten - So Serene’ the best. Those were the tunes I could listen to most without getting tired of them (which is very often the case since you hear your own song a million times before it’s finally finished.) This changes on a day to day basis though, sometimes you haven’t listened to one of your own tunes for a while, and then when you hear it again you think “hey, this wasn’t as bad as I thought!”


Trance.nu: I’ve heard that you are busy with an album. What can you tell us about that?
Menno: It’s actually a mix album which I have been planning for quite some time now. I’ve been gathering exclusive material for it the past few months, and from the looks of it the final track listing should near completion within the next month or 2. I’m trying to make this as special as I possibly can, and representing the sound that we have established with Intuition in the past two years. It will be a single CD, with 14 tracks mixed into a lovely flow. If all is well it should be released in the first quarter of 2007, so keep an eye out for it! This will be great stuff for on your way to a party in the car, or just chilling at home and listening, or whenever you need to get your mind off things. The CD will feature exclusive material from artists such as Kimito Lopez, Jonas Steur, Airbase, Whirloop as well as myself and a lot of other top artists - the full content will remain a secret for another while though.


Trance.nu: Will there be a release party for the album as well?
Menno: There definitely will be. Since the exact release date has not been determined yet we’re not quite sure when and where yet. It might be during the ‘Intuition Winter Event’, or during an entire event of it’s own. What we do know though is that it will be something special, and celebrated spectacularly!


Trance.nu: What are the future plans for your projects ‘Halcyon’, ‘Myth’ and ‘Sayla’?
Menno: For ‘Halcyon’ there aren’t any plans for the moment, it might just reappear sometime if I make a track that feels right for it. ‘Sayla’ and ‘Myth’ are on the go though, there are several tracks sitting on my studio pc (which they usually do for a while before I finish them, I’m not the fastest producer) that could suit these projects.


Trance.nu: You already worked together on tracks with people such as Paul Moelands and Leon Bolier. If you had the chance, what would be the producer you would like to work with and why?
Menno: Tough question, but I think it would be ‘Moby’. He is someone that has made so many tracks that have all sounded so different, yet great in their own way. I think sitting in the studio with him would be an awesome experience, he seems like someone that has a lot of fun making music, and is very creative in doing so.


Trance.nu: Are there any vocalists that you would like to work with?
Menno: I really love the singing of Sarah McLachlan and Jes Brieden, my two favorite vocalists! Pure quality!

Trance.nu: You did remixes for acts and artists such as ‘Hydra’, ‘Octagen vs Progresia’, ‘Mark Otten’ and you recently remixed ‘Your Loving Arms’ by Karen Overton. Can we expect some other remixes of you soon?
Menno:Yes, I am currently working on a remix for a track called ‘Whirloop - Cirrus Station’ which will appear exclusively on my mix album early next year.


Trance.nu: If you had the opportunity, what song would you like to remix once?
Menno: It would be ‘Jam & Spoon - Stella’ if it hadn’t already recently been revamped by someone. That track has always meant a lot to me, not to mention that the two guys behind the project were some of the most influential producers in the history of dance music!


Trance.nu: What happened to the remix you were making of ‘Solarstone feat. Jes - Like A Waterfall’?
Menno: I made 2 attempts, but both were unfortunately not approved by the label I was doing it for. I think in the end we just didn’t have the same idea of what a ‘trance’ remix of the track should have been like. I think they were looking for something more conventional to apply to a broader audience, whilst I was trying to do something ‘different’. In the end I decided to just leave it for what it was, I can’t release a production or remix that I don’t fully support, and can’t remix something in a specific way someone wants it. Music is a creative process and I like to just let it go and see what happens. Always using the same sounds and samples kills creativity, so each production and remix I start with a total clean project, and look for new samples.


Trance.nu: How long do you work on a track or remix?
Menno: It really differs, if I’m lucky something can be finished in 3 days, but I have the tendency to spend months on tracks, somehow I just find it difficult to let things go and I’m very critical about what I do. Your music is an extension of yourself, so I don’t settle for less that what I want it to be when I’m producing a tune!


Trance.nu: Do you have your own studio? What kind of equipment do you use a lot?
Menno: Yes I do. My favorite pieces of equipment are:
- Access Virus Ti Desktop Synth
- My digital Piano (it’s what I use to play all the melodies in my tracks)
- My Dynaudio Air 15 speakers (just recently got them, and can’t live without them anymore! Best speakers I have ever heard, perfect for producing music!)


Trance.nu: Do you prefer hardware or software to produce with? What do you like to use most?
Menno: I’ve always tried to combine the two, and don’t have a specific favorite. Sometimes I have a phase in which I only use hardware to make my tracks, yet somehow for some reason at times I just find the right sounds in software. That’s why I just go for the best of both worlds!


Trance.nu: How (and when) did you start you DJ career? Was that around the same time as you started producing?
Menno: Both did actually start around the same time. During the time I was first making music with Fasttracker I was also playing at school parties, birthday parties and that sort of stuff, just using normal pop or dance music CDs. Around the age of 15 I started spinning vinyl, and focused more on trance music. Although I had some nice gigs along the way in the end DJ-ing really took off around the time my first records were released, so producing did play a key part in the whole thing!


Trance.nu: When you just started out as a DJ, you played a lot in small clubs in and around the city of Eindhoven. How were those gigs? Do you have any nice stories about that time?
Menno: My first real residency was when I was 17 years old at a club called ‘Downunder’ in Eindhoven. I was actually playing at a school party and finished off with a couple of trance records, since I had been practicing hard at home and I thought it would be cool to do for real in a club, the manager of the club really liked what he heard and asked me to come back! Although Friday nights and Saturday nights were R&B at this particular venue, Thursdays and Sunday nights were dance music. About one and a half years I played weekly 5 hour sets there, which was a great experience and really helped my DJ skills both technically and musically since I played a very broad spectrum of styles in the long sets. After a while I approached ‘Club Yes’ to organize some parties there. It was a rather small place in which they normally played harder styles, nevertheless the 3 parties we organized there were great fun. About a year ago ‘Club Yes’ was renovated into a nice new venue called ‘Backztreet’, where we held ‘Menno Solo’. This was a nice moment since I had played there so long ago. In the future we might just do a nice party in Eindhoven again sometime at a different venue.


Trance.nu: You played at a lot of parties and festivals already. But is there a festival or big party that you never played at so far, but that you really would like to do?
Menno: There are actually several events and clubs that are very high on my list. One of them is definitely ‘Coachella’, a big music festival in California. Coachella is known for booking groundbreaking acts and musicians from a lot of different styles as well as a lot of dance, they have had nearly every significant musical act in de the dance scene play there before they ever became big in their area, so obviously it would be a great honor to play on such a festival, they seem to have a perfect nose for talent. Two big events that I would really like to play at in the Netherlands are ‘Trance Energy’ and ‘Innercity’, both these events have provided me with some of the greatest clubbing experiences of my life, so to stand behind the decks there would be a dream come true. Unfortunately the latter is no longer possible since Innercity no longer features trance artists, so all my hopes are on ‘Trance Energy’ now! Lastly the club venue in which I would really like to play is ‘The Guvernment’ in Toronto. I haven’t really seen much of it, but every DJ I speak to that has played there is simply awestruck on all grounds, the sound, light, atmosphere and crowd there is apparently amazing - which I can really believe since I get a lot of nice messages from Canadians!


Trance.nu: What is the exact story about your cancelled gig(s) in the US a few months ago? What happened? Will you still perform in the US in the future?
Menno: Well, a lot of DJs travel to the USA to spin, some with a special artist visa, but most of them without simply because it’s a rather expensive and time consuming ordeal to get it (although it is good for a longer period of time.) Since I do my own bookings and was rather clueless about how to get the visa I did not have the visa. Unfortunately I got searched at customs, and they weren’t too happy when they found out I was DJ-ing in the USA, even though I was only getting expenses paid because the flight was so pricey (the gig was arranged fairly last minute, and I thought it would be nice to have a vacation in LA after my university exams.) I got sent back that day, which was really a pity - I was looking forward so much to that gig and the though of the fans there not being able to see me really hurt me.

The good news is that I’ve been working hard on getting the visa, and it should be sorted by the beginning of 2007. Hopefully I’ll be back full force in the USA by then! See you at Miami WMC perhaps?


Trance.nu: What can people expect from you in the near future?
Menno: In a few weeks my remix of ‘Karen Overton - Your Loving Arms’ will be released. I spontaneously did this remix because the original by Billie Ray Martin really inspired me a lot back in the days. During my travels earlier this year I listened to the remake a million times but didn’t get to play it often because it’s a bit slow , hence I decided to give it my own spin. Luckily enough ‘Supra Recordings’ and ‘Armada Music’ have agreed to release the remix, so hopefully it will be available to everyone quickly!

In the meantime I’m also preparing for the 100th episode of the ‘Intuition Radio Show’. This will take place on Wednesday the 29th of November, and feature exclusive guest mixes from the Intuition residents as well as special guests: Armin van Buuren, Paul van Dyk and Markus Schulz. It will be an 8 hour special, with the usual quality stuff you hear in the Intuition show!

For the rest I am working hard on material for the mix album coming up early 2007. I really hope people will enjoy the CD and all the preparation has been worth the while!


Trance.nu: Where will you be playing in the near future?
Menno: Here are some upcoming gigs (selection of my full agenda on http://www.mennodejong.com ):

28-10-06 Sensation White (Poland)
11-11-06 19 Years Illusion, Lier (Belgium)
18-11-06 Trancegate, Milan (Italy)
24-11-06 Asta pr. Tiësto & Menno de Jong, The Hague (NL)
02-12-06 Electronic Sessions, London (UK)
16-12-06 Intuition Invites, Asta, The Hague (NL)

And many others before, after and in-between!


Trance.nu: What can people expect when they go to a gig of you?
Menno: Well, I tend to get a little enthusiastic when I am playing the music I love, so in general I will be dancing, jumping and smiling a lot! I always get into this flow, or trance, and if the audience enjoys the music as much as I do this always creates some sort of connection. If this happens, well, fireworks! Those are the best gigs I ever play, whether for 100 or 10.000 people!


Trance.nu: Who are your own favorite DJ’s?
Menno: It changes every so often, in my opinion a DJ is as good as their last gig. But in general in the past 5 years or so my favorite DJs have been Tiësto, Sasha, Eddie Halliwell, Proteus (not because of the music he plays, but the amazing performance he puts on) and Marco V (probably the most consistent DJ in the DJ Mag Top 100 if you ask me).


Trance.nu: What is you opinion about the DJ Mag Top 100 list?
Menno: Anything that grows as big and important as the DJ Mag Top 100, a superstar DJ, a powerful politician, a good football player or tasty soda is destined to be criticized heavily. I feel that people are complaining too much about the influence of the DJ Mag Top 100, in the end it’s just a list, no one is telling you to think it’s important! In the end only you can decide who’s gigs you go to, what music you buy and who you support. As said though, the list does have it’s importance if you want to get somewhere as a DJ. I was very happy to find out that I got into the top 250 last year, and it is a great feeling to know that your fans are supporting you by voting. I think that is actually the key thought of the DJ Mag in the end, it shows how supportive people in general are of a certain DJ, and hence it’s a good way for a club to see if it’s a good investment to book them. Obviously I was very honored to find out my fans voted me to the 72nd place this year, it’s great to know so many kind people are enjoying your music and supporting you in any way they can.


Trance.nu: Which advice would u like to give to everyone who's starting to DJ or produce?
Menno: Enjoy it, once you do so and you feel like you want to make more of it than just a hobby you will automatically start thinking about how you can achieve that. In the end there is no other advice that I can give than: “WORK HARD!” There are so many DJs out there you will have to have something to special to offer, whether it is good music you produce, amazing turntable skills, your ability to find the hottest tunes for your label, or the dedication to playing the best sets in your radio show - in the end it doesn’t matter, if you can convince people of the good music and feeling you have to offer, you will find your way to success! All the means are out there now that internet has opened up borders knowledge and international promotion, all you have to do is go out there and get/do it!


Trance.nu: You run the label ‘Intuition Recordings’ together with Paul Moelands. How’s everything going with the label at the moment?
Menno: Things are going very well, we’ve had some terrific releases in the past and have some great material coming up. Before the end of this year we will be releasing an EP produced by Cliff Coenraad and Leon Bolier, which although it might be a surprise to many considering it is a mish mash of techno, tech-house and trance, we think will be 2 of the biggest tunes of the year. ‘Bolier & Coenraad - Mighty Ducks / Mohawk’ is the complete title. ‘Mighty Ducks’ is simply said a techno record with a trance break, it’s very empty yet well produced, which makes it totally banging in the clubs! ‘Mohawk’ is a masterpiece in its own right, the rolling techy beats are backed up by atmospheric pads, beautiful melodies, all leading to an incredibly cool theme with a surprising chord progression that leads to a peak-time climax. It’s quite a groundbreaking EP when compared to the other trancy stuff out there at the moment, and also quite a spin off style wise for Intuition, both of which make me believe that this one will do amazing, every gig I go to I can’t wait to play these tunes.


Trance.nu: A few times a year there are special parties organized by your label. So far they are only in The Netherlands. Are there plans to organized Intuition parties outside The Netherlands as well in the future?
Menno: There are thoughts about this! Until the beginning of this year the Intuition parties were organized mostly by myself. Since this was so much work in combination with my producing and DJ-ing Intuition has recently welcomed Rob Keunen and Michel Kuklinski to join the events team. The co-operation is going very well at the moment, and whilst we are learning more and more and doing better and better at some point we could very possibly take Intuition events international, and provide people in other countries with our great trance event concept.


Trance.nu: Do you enjoy partying as much as playing music?
Menno: I certainly do! Always have and always will, nothing beats a good dance party, whether it’s trance, techno, progressive, house or whatever, the atmosphere at a dance party is often so cool that I can hardly stand to go to normal bars anymore! Clubbing is in my blood!


Trance.nu: What do u think about the actual trance music scene and the future of it?
Menno: I’m actually really positive about it at the moment. It seems that everyone is getting over the complaining phase and is starting to appreciate the fact that trance has become an underground style again. Commercial pop-trance seems to be a fading memory and there are new trance events, communities, DJ and producer talents, and listeners popping up everywhere. I really think a new generation of DJs and producers is about to emerge, all the young producers are becoming better and better and hopefully this will lead to more and more good music.


Trance.nu: What are the highlights in your career so far?
Menno: Releasing my first record, playing for the first real trance-minded crowd, setting up Intuition Recordings, playing at the A State Of Trance 250th Episode at Asta, spinning in over 25 different countries in the past 2 years... Actually I absolutely love everything about what I do, it’s hard work, but worth every bit of it, music is my life and there’s not a chance I’ll ever do something different!


Trance.nu: Thank you very much for your time and good luck in the future!
Menno: Thanks for the great interview. Trance.nu has always been very supportive of what I’ve done, both the crew and the community members, it’s really a personal milestone for me to have done this interview considering all the news that has been on the site since the very first gigs and productions I have done, as well as the gigs I have gotten by meeting people on the site. I once browsed to Trance.nu to read about interesting things in the trance world and now I get to tell my own story on there, how cool is that! So much love to all of you, don’t forget to follow your musical intuition and hopefully I’ll see you somewhere, sometime!

Love,

Menno


Written by:
Twan van Loon

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