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Friday 05th, October 2007
John O'Callaghan Interview

John O’Callaghan is celebrating a hugely successful year, which has seen him release his debut artist album and go from strength to strength as both a producer and DJ. He is currently riding high on the success of his first solo vocal track, the immense ‘Big Sky’ featuring Audrey Gallagher on Armind. He was also chosen by Paul van Dyk to remix one of the biggest trance records of the year, the inescapable Filo & Peri – The Anthem on Vandit. We caught up with the popular Irishman for a chat.



Hey John, thanks for doing this interview with trance.nu. How and where do we find you at this present time?

JOC: No problem! I’m great; the weather here is nice for a change! Right now I am in my studio; I’ve been working on a new tech style track for my Joint Operations Centre alias. So far it’s sounding really good!

This year has really seen you stamp your mark on the trance scene after an already successful 2006. What have been the highlights of the year for you?

JOC: Seeing the reactions to my track with Audrey Gallagher, ‘Big Sky’. The buzz about that has been amazing and I’m really delighted to see that people like it. Making a vocal track is a very tricky process and I always wanted my first one to be good – so it’s great to see so many people give great feedback. Gig wise I would say playing at Planet Love, Ireland. It was a fantastic day and the crowd was just amazing for my set. Also going to Argentina was a really memorable trip and one of the best crowds I have ever seen. Bring on 2008!

This year you released your debut artist album, “Something To Live For”. How difficult was it for a producer of mainly club trance and tech-trance records to put together an album and how have reactions been to it?

JOC: Reactions so far have been great. The second pressing has completely sold out and we are looking at a third pressing in different territories. It took a while to get the album together but I am quite proud of its eclectic mix of styles. Most people will know I just don’t produce trance all the time, and if you check out my album you will certainly hear that. I didn’t intend to “write an album” at all. It started as a selection of tracks and then later I made the decision to expand on it to try to bring an album together. I think it turned out well and I hope in the future people still listen to it!

With the dance music industry in the grips of DJ Mag Top 100 fever at the moments, what are your feelings about this PR merry-go-round?

JOC: I think the poll certainly serves its purpose, although some of results in the past I have found to be a bit confusing. I just hope that I can get in there at some point, so that at least one day I can say, “I was in the Top 100”. It’s a PR thing, but I don’t lose any sleep over it. This year I’m not sure where I will get, if at all. I would just be happy to be in the top 100 as I do know I have had a lot of support this year, and it would be nice to see that reflected in the poll.

Your biggest track at the moment is “Big Sky”. This is your first attempt at a solo vocal production, yet you have pulled it off with style. How difficult did you find it producing that track?

JOC: Not at all. It was totally enjoyable from start to finish. Making vocal tunes is way more fulfilling than instrumentals, as you feel you really are creating a song, rather than a track. It took six months but it was worth every day in the studio. And I learned a hell of a lot in the process.

Speaking of anthems, you have remixed Filo & Peri – The Anthem for Vandit. Was it an honour to be picked to work for Paul van Dyk’s label and how did you approach working with what many people regard as the cheesiest vocals of the year?

JOC: It was a massive privilege for Paul to personally choose me to remix Anthem, as he had predicted it would be one of the biggest tunes of the summer. It was a tough job and I just tried to take the best parts from the original condense it down and give it a much more direct club feel. It’s a love or hate tune. I am really happy with how my remix has done so far.



You produce a huge variety of styles, from tech to uplifting trance, even pulling off rock anthems like “The Space We Are”. Does this come naturally and do you have a particular favourite?

JOC: I would say it comes naturally. That’s part of the enjoyment I get out of producing; trying new things. If I wanted to make trance all my life I would have quit by now. I don’t find it a challenge to make 20 tracks that sound the exact same so that’s why I really push myself to try new styles when the situation allows it. A particular favourite… yes my remix for Ronski Speed was really a big milestone for me as it was so successful – but in a totally different style to what people normally expect from me.

You produced one of the most perfect trancers of recent years “Exactly” with Bryan Kearney. Could any future collabs with him repeat that success?

JOC: Yeah why not! When we made ‘Restricted Motion’ we didn’t think we would make a bigger tune. Then ‘Exactly’ came along. I will admit it’s a big task but Bryan and I are quietly confident about our next single, it’s already started and so far we are both buzzing about it.

What do you use to produce on and how much time do you spend in the studio?

JOC: Cubase SX. I spend 3-4 days per week in the studio. But its not all constant music work. A lot of the time it may be getting tracks together for DJ sets, radio shows or preparing remix work, or even doing contract work for clients. My studio is a relaxing place with lots of room, so I quite enjoy my time spent in there. And when I get bored it’s not too far to the nearest pub!

What upcoming productions do you have coming up?

JOC: John O’Callaghan feat. Audrey Gallagher – Big Sky [Armind] December 2007
Joint Operations Centre – Shortwave [Armada] November 2007
TBC – Rotterdam [Doorn Records] TBC
New Lost World Double A-side single, Armada 2008.
Out now – Cartel – Moments @ vonyc.com



There is a strong wave of young British trance producers coming through at the moment. What do you think of the trance scene, especially in the UK and who are your tips for stardom?

JOC: Yeah there is a lot of fine talent emerging from the UK at the moment. I’m happy to see the trance scene get a bit of a revival. For a while things looked a bit bleak but I’m confident over the next couple of years we will see it come full circle and be really successful again. In terms of tips for stardom – two names always spring to mind. Activa and Thomas Bronzwaer.

You have had a rapid rise to the top, what were your big breaks and what advice can you give to bedroom producers looking to make the breakthrough?

JOC: The main thing is to focus on quality and try to have a goal. If you have nothing to aim for then your quality will take longer to improve. A lot of people are into production right now and it’s a long learning curve before you start making quality output. Keep your head up and read all the production magazines, and practice, practice, practice. Everyone gets a break sooner or later.

You work closely with Discover, who are fast becoming one of the biggest trance labels in the UK with their very distinctive sound. The fact that you can recognise a Discover track as soon as the bassline comes in, do you find that restricts producers on the label or is it its biggest strength?

JOC: I think it’s a case of both. The Discover sound certainly is very popular but I think in recent times the sound has become a bit diluted due to other producers trying to emulate that style. When the Discover style is done right – it’s amazing. When it’s done badly, it’s awful. This is one reason why I always strive to make productions in different styles as I never want to be seen as somebody who just makes that style. I think the label will develop style wise and from hearing future releases it looks like that is already happening. I think people do tend to generalise a bit, and if you look closer at certain Discover releases – you will find the quality of releases there is very high. It’s a matter of taste at the end of the day.

Your DJing has taken you all over the world, what has been the most exciting destination for you so far?

JOC: I would definitely say Argentina. It’s such a beautiful country and the people are so friendly and passionate about the music. It was one of the most amazing gigs I have ever played and I can’t wait to return next year.

Finally, being Irish you must love a drink or two. What is your favourite tipple?

JOC: In a bar, either Heineken or Stella. But I love drinking a few cans at home with mates, and some PS3. Can’t beat it!!

Thanks for doing this interview with trance.nu, you definitely have many supporters on this site so we wish you best of luck with the Top 100 and your future career!

JOC: Thanks very much!

Among many other gigs, you can catch John playing for Qudos @ Club Mango in Reading on 9th November, who were very kind in helping set up this interview for us. For more information, give this flyer a little clicky:



For full gig details, head to www.johnocallaghan.net


Written by:
frombeyond

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