Over the past week I've delivered snippets of this extensive interview with the Finnish trance duo Super8 & Tab because I thought it was that good and worthy of multiple posts. But now the time has come to finally publish the full interview in all of its glory. Miika (Super8) and Janne (Tab) were very forthcoming in this discussion as they revealed their meticulous work method, details about the new album, views on the general trance scene, and more. So please take the time to read through it because it's one of the best interviews I've done to date, enjoy:
EDM Canada: Describe the Super8 & Tab style.
Janne: It's melodic.
Miika: It's uplifting.
Janne: It's trance, house
Janne: Techno, all mixed up together. But still we call it trance.
There's been much talk recently of some producers wanting to return to melodic tracks, but it seems like you guys have been doing that all along, does it feel good to see fellow producers wanting to create more melodic inspired tunes?
Miika: It's great that they are coming back to their senses once again. (laughs) That was a joke! But for us when are in the studio it feels right to do melodic music with proper cord progressions, percussion’s, etc. If we don't get the right emotion off the track in the studio then we can't get it done actually. It will be such a shit track. So that's the way we work. Our tracks have to have emotions, that's the thing.
Do you usual start with the melody first?
Miika: Usually but it varies. We might like several melodies with a track before we have the beat. Sometimes it works straight away but sometimes we have to work on it for 2 weeks. It all depends.
Do you usually find inspiration and create a track quite quickly or is it a longer, more methodical process to make a track for Super8 & Tab?
Janne: I think all the tracks we've created have many, many edits...
Miika: Sometimes there's been a few tracks that have been pretty quick but usually it takes many too long. (laughs)
Janne: But we test them a lot when we go out to play. During this current tour we've played a lot of new stuff from the upcoming album.
Miika: I think we've tested around 6 different tracks altogether.
Janne: So we go back to the studio to tweak them and then play them all again.
Miika: And if the crowd response isn't what we expected it to be in the studio then we fix it so that it works.
Both of you have been touring all over the world for many years now, do you consider trance music a universal language?
Janne: Yes. Especially these days. Everybody has access to all of the same tracks and listen to all of the same radio stations, mix CD's, or whatever.
Miika: Somehow it feels that trance lovers from all over the world have a pretty similar mentality.
You guys have had a long history with Anjunabeats, but recently there seems to be a shift happening away from trance from that label created by Above & Beyond, are you guys noticing that as well or am I off the mark?
Janne: I think it's been since day 1 of Anjunabeats that their sound has been changing. If you look at their history over the past 10+ years, there's always some progress going on inside that label.
Miika: A few years back the entire trance scene changed quite a lot.
Janne: They're not releasing 138 bpm tracks anymore. But I think they are still trance in some ways, so I think they still consider themselves as a trance label even though they are releasing under the Anjunadeep sound which is more house.
Miika: .. And hip hop. (laughs)
You're referring to a couple of tracks released under Mat Zo's new album?
Miika: Yeah yeah. But it's okay because Mat Zo is from a Drum N Bass background actually.
Janne: That's his background.
Miika: So why not? But I couldn't see us doing a hip hop track but you never know.
Back in early 2012 there was a lot of talk about “trance 2.0”, is that concept dead in the water today or is still living?
Miika: That's the evolution, trance is at the 2.0 stage right now but people have taken that label away.
Janne: Trance has always been changing and getting influenced from other genres as well. If you look at the way trance was sounding in 1994 as compared to 2002, and 2013, you can see the journey that trance has taken. So maybe we're in trance 3.0 today.
Miika: Maybe we're in trance 2.5.
Miika: Trance has changed, it's just that people don't talk about it anymore.
Janne: They accept that it is changing. It's the same thing with house music, and even techno is changing.
Where is Super8 & Tab's sound at in 2013?
Janne: Hopefully still sounding like Super8 & Tab. (Laughs)
Miika: We've been using 2013 to work on our sound to go into different directions while still keeping it as trance. We still want to retain the trance cord elements and I think we have found something very interesting, especially for the upcoming album. I think we found a new Super8 & Tab sound while staying true to our Super8 & Tab style. We didn't want to do a total turnaround and go somewhere else. We just want to polish our sound.
I've been obsessively listening to your entire discography for the past 24 hours, do you think that your sound has a sort of timeless quality to it?
Miika: It's probably the melodies and how we use cords and what kind of harmonies that we use – that's the Super8 & Tab sound.... And also we like lots of cowbell in our build-ups. (laughs) We should actually do that, and instead of snares we should do cowbells!
Do you purposefully try to keep to a core sound for all of your tracks, or is that sound just who you are?
Janne and Miika: That's what we are, yeah.
Miika: It's like what we are talking about before, when we are in a studio and try to create a different style it doesn't work out well.
Janne: The core is always that we need to have the melody on the track.
Miika: And good chords.
Janne: That gives energy for us. But of course we are bringing a lot of new sounds to our tracks.
You mentioned in a previous interview that trance is on the verge of something new. Can you elaborate?
Janne: What we mean is that trance is always on the move and we're seeing that there is a need for trance in the market at the moment. When we play our tracks live you can see from some people that it's something that they haven't heard before and they're reactions seem overwhelmingly positive to our sound. There's a place for this type of trance that we are playing and I think it's growing worldwide actually.
Miika: Tiesto is warming up his trance background again...
Janne: When we were talking with BT while working in our studio a few weeks back, we had shared the same idea. BT wants to create trance as well.
You're collaboration with Julie Thompson for “Your Secret's Safe” is just beautiful, do you have any plans to work with any other vocalists?
Janne: We are working with Julia Thompson, but also with Jan Burton who we recorded a few tracks with him for the album. We are working on a couple more but let's see how they turn out the way we want first. We don't want to say that much until we've got a finished product. We are working with quite a few collaborations that include vocalists and other producers as well.
Miika: If they turn out to be good we'll put it out on the album and if not we'll keep them and nobody will know. (laughs)
And you won't name drop any of them at this point right?
Janne: No, it's better to keep quiet because we don't know if the track will turn out to be good enough. We've been recording lots of tracks which we'll never release.
Miika: It's better to be quiet until there's something that we're really happy about.
Janne: The one thing we can say is that we're working on a track with BT.
That's the 18 hour session I read about in other recent interviews?
Miika: Yeah, that was really crazy. He flew into Helsinki and when we went to our studio, we worked for 18 hours straight.
Miika: We were working the entire time. Usually after 10 hours it starts to get really slow and what happens the next day you just end up working off of an earlier project file. But with BT we were progressing the entire time to the point of a virtual finished track by the end of the session. But with BT being a perfectionist (and us too), he wants to do some edits in his studio and we'll continue to do some tweaks as well.
Janne: We actually didn't have anymore time because he had arrived at 10 am on a Monday morning, and left the studio at 5-6 am where he had to catch a flight back to the States at 2 pm the next day.
That was intense. So did you guys create 1 track from that session?
Can you tell me if it's a vocal or a non-vocal track?
Miika: non-vocal. It's instrumental. So far!
Janne: You never know. (laughs)
What's the length of the track?
Janne: Around 7 minutes. I think we managed to incorporate both BT and Super8 & Tab's signature sounds into that one track.
Miika: And it still sounds fresh.
You're returning to Vancouver and Calgary this week, what do you have planned for the Canadian Trancefamily?
Janne: You'll get to hear a lot of unreleased tracks that we're currently testing right now. We played in Vancouver a year ago and it was really really really good.
Miika: Can't wait to be back!
Janne: But with Calgary I think it was 2 years ago the last time we played and we haven't played at Marquee before so we are super excited to be back in Calgary.
Miika: We're happy to be back in Canada and excited to try Vancouver sushi. (laughs)
How far along are you in your new album? Are you more than 50% done?
Miika: Basically yes but sometimes you think that you're 90% done but then you want to change things. (laughs) And then suddenly you realize that you're only 50% done. Sometimes we change our opinion on a track and want to remove it from the album, and other times we might want to re-record the vocals. We were originally going to release the album right about now but the current plan is to release the album next summer.
Janne: But it's ready when it's ready, that's what we've been saying to everybody.
Miika: We need to be happy with it because we're going to play those tracks for the next 4 years! (laughs)
My thanks to Super8 & Tab for taking the time for this extended interview!
If you're a fan of these guys like I am then you should definitely check out their SuperTab Radio show that's broadcast live on Afterhours.fm every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month. You can listen to the last episode on their Soundcloud right now:
In January Super8 & Tab are potentially planning something special for their 50th episode, so follow them on Twitter to get the latest on that.