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Monday 15th, July 2002
Simon Berry

Simon Berry, famed for his Art of Trance moniker, has been at the forefront of the scene since starting the Platipus label almost ten years ago. The concept, Simon claims, was “purely to put out my own productions”, but after a couple of early works, he found faith in his friends’ productions, and it all took off from there. Now, the label has been outlet to 100 releases and home to some of the scene’s most credible, consistent and intelligent producers to date.



“Now as the music splinters into even more finite definitions, I think styles such as ‘progressive house’ are becoming over-saturated by the band-wagon-jumping producers who are contributing to scenes becoming formulaic and sterile in a similar way to what happened with goa trance. It’s unfortunate that the minority of people out there making quality music in their genre are suffering as a result. On the upside to the lull in these waves of popularity in the different genres of music, this is the time when musicians make a more concerted effort than ever to deliver music that’s refreshing and innovative,” he further adds.



As with any label, the sound over a decade in the scene will have altered, but can the purposes and intentions remain unchanged? “I look back on all 100 of the releases that have come out on Platipus and the earlier you go back, the more innocent and untainted the tracks were, especially the early ones,” tells Simon. “There were no rules or restrictions back then. The tracks that I signed were all original in their own way and didn’t conform to this DJ or that DJ, or the hundreds of different sub-divisions that the press have now pigeon holed the sound today. I’ve always tried to ignore all that bollocks and just sign each track on it’s own merit, and I’m quite proud that in my opinion, most of the tracks achieve that individuality and strength of identity that makes them stand out from the rest. All in all, I think the main reason Platipus has survived the long haul, is because I’ve never compromised on what I’ve put out. Right now, trance has hit a bit of a divide. People are either going really deep and proggy, or really commercial and cheesy. Platipus seems to sit comfortably in between these two styles providing accessible yet credible deep, melodic music, where the production is progressing forward and stretching the non-existent boundaries if you like. There is plenty of scope in the future for Platipus to continue to do this.”



Simon confirms ‘Children’ by Robert Miles, as the key-record to Platipus’ success and recognition. “I was fortunate to hear one of two existing acetates at the time, after we did a Union Jack gig in the Firestone club in Orlando. On first hearing, it blew me away. Within days of getting back to the UK, I managed to sign it. If it wasn’t for that track, Platipus could still be running out of a bedroom studio. It turned out to be one of the biggest trance records of all time, selling almost five million copies worldwide. What’s significant to the label as a whole though, is the fact that it made all the releases that followed it, accessible to a wider audience. As the profile of the label increased, this afforded the luxury of not only getting my productions to a larger audience, but the ability to attract the leaders in the field on board, to release material and remix tracks for the label. I shall always be indebted to Mr. Miles for that.”



The management of the Platipus label has run parallel with production under the Art of Trance pseudonym. Simon’s profile took a significant advance when ‘Madagascar’, perhaps the most momentous trance release ever, was distributed among the DJing elite. “Releasing ‘Madagascar’ has done me loads of favors and helped propel the awareness of Art Of Trance to greater heights, although it has to be said, I can in no way take all the credit for this. First time round, Cygnus X remixed parts and made the whole thing sound ten times larger. It became one of the biggest trance tracks in the 1999 – the so called year of trance – the timing couldn’t have been better as it cleaned up over the summer in Ibiza etc. Since then the requests for it at the office haven’t really stopped, so we thought fuck it, let’s release it again! This time we got, amongst others, Push in to do the remix. It was a really hard task as it had already been done so well by Ferry. We thought what else could possibly be done? But Push pulled it off, freshening it up for the 2002 floors with a different twist to the harmonies. We released it a few weeks ago and it went to No.1 in the UK dance charts, No.1 in the UK independent singles charts, and No.41 in the official UK singles chart. Not bad considering it was only going to be a track on the forthcoming Platipus ‘10 Squared’ compilation.



‘10 Squared’ Simon claims, is a “celebration of the 100th release on Platipus and tens years of the label’s existence. When compiling the album I wanted to capture the two main styles that Platipus has adopted. The first CD, represented by Parks & Wilson’s mix, winds into deeper, more atonal elements of progressive trance, and the second CD, mixed by myself, ventures into more melodic, uplifting and epic territory. All in all, it’s a choice selection of juicy trance cuts from the label, both past, present and future. The track listing was obviously quite difficult, with over 100 releases to choose from plus a load of unreleased mixes and forthcoming tracks. We commissioned a few brand new mixes of previously released tracks like Universal State of Mind’s ‘All Because Of You’, getting Sunday Club to do a mix of this. We also got Mojique & Zidan to do a brand new mix of the previously released ‘I Want You’ by Z2. This was in addition to the new Push mix of ‘Madagascar’, which was initially done especially for the album.”



So, Park’s & Wilson were, hypothetically, unable to do the mix. Who then? “Good question. It’s always difficult because a lot of the most A-list boys are tied up in contracts with other labels. Either that or they’re committed to mixing other compilation projects for the next 12 months or so. So we were quite lucky with Parks & Wilson. Knowing I wanted to mix the more uplifting CD, they seemed the perfect choice to represent the deeper / darker side of things. To answer your question though, I don’t know who we’d have chosen if they couldn’t do it. I’m sure it would have been a compromise on the finished product we were lucky enough to end up with.”



The future of Platipus looks promising. Simon has managed to capture the balance of melodic and progressive, and he assures more of this in the future. “We’ve already got some really exciting releases lined up ‘til the beginning of next year. Out last week was Dino Lenny’s new project Indiana, a track called ‘Do Your Hear Me?’ with mixes by Art Of Trance and Classified Project. Following the new Art Of Trance track is Jon Occlusion’s ‘Psycho Drums’ again with an Art Of Trance remix. After the summer there’s another of Dino Lenny’s projects, Jamnesia, and the fantastic ‘She’s My Friend / Get Busy’ tracks, with another Indiana to follow that. Plus Solar Stone and Praha remixes of Mona Lisa Overdrive’s ‘Born To Synthesize’. There’s a load more stuff lined up with audio clips on platipus.com. At the end of July, they’ll be a new Art Of Trance single out called ‘Love Washes Over’. This is already getting really great reactions, especially from the Pheric remix. Other people to do mixes are Mojique & Zidan, and Airwave. I’m currently in the studio working on a third Art Of Trance, which should be around at the beginning of next year.”



Many thanks to the duck-billed don himself, Simon Berry.



<A HREF=http://www.platipus.com target=blank>www.platipus.com</A>




PLATIPUS 10 SQUARED – OUT NOW.

Thanks out to Tom @ Cypher for arranging this interview!


Written by:
Gonzo

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