Lange has been in the electronic dance music scene for a long time as he has positioned himself as one of the most influential trance producers over the last 10+ years. 2013 has been very busy for Lange as he is working on a new album set to come out later this year, a 2-disc Ministry of Sound compilation, managing his label, and a touring schedule that includes several special B2B sets with Andy Moor at Tomorrowland Global Gathering, and SW4. We talk about all of this and more in this enlightening interview with Lange.
EDM Canada: How's your 2013 going so far?
Lange: It's going really well. Arguably one of the busiest years – I'm definitely working myself hard this year. It's been very busy touring but also I've got a lot of work in the studio as well with the new album and compilation that I will be mixing next week. I'm keeping myself busy but enjoying it.
Can you give me some details on the compilation?
The compilation is for Ministry of Sound and it's called “Trance Nation”. I'm guessing you can buy in Canada but the Trance Nation series is almost an institution in the UK with Above & Beyond, Ferry Corsten, Cosmic Gate, Rank 1 all doing them over the years. I've been invited to do that so I'm pretty excited about it. I'll be mixing that next week.
When will that be released?
I think it will be July 29th.
Will there be any other DJs involved in the compilation?
I'll be doing both discs. It'll be a chance to do two different mixes.
You're working on a new album titled “We Are Lucky People” due out later this year, what can you tell me and my readers about it?
As you said, the album will be released later in the year, around November. The idea behind it this time is a bit different. Rather than locking myself away in the studio for 6 months which I did last time, I'm keeping the flow and sharing the music as I write it and putting out singles. When I get nearer to the album I will be basically making album versions that will all come together to make a more special home listening album. Quite often when I've making a club mix, I feel I can't really develop the musical bits it as far as I want to because the club mix format is quite restrictive in what you can do. This gives me a chance to do something a bit more musical, something that flows from start to finish. That's the idea anyway. Hopefully it's going to work but it's quite exciting to literally make it up as you go along. It's been fun so far, but a lot of work.
On the new album: "It should be something that you do want to listen from beginning to end."
You mentioned that “We Are Lucky People” is geared more for home listening, can you give me a few more details on your reasoning and inspiration behind this decision?
I wouldn't say it was more about home listening as I see the singles very much as part of the project too. But once I've already released all of the club mixes there will be little point in me putting an album together with all of the club mixes on. I want to do something different with it so it's almost doing it in reverse if you like; rather than releasing the singles after an album I'm releasing first as i go along . At the end I'm going like look, here we go, here's something I put together which is inspired from all of the club mixes that I've done. I take all of the music into different directions and develop it in a different way. So for me an album should kind of be like that anyway. It should be something that you do want to listen from beginning to end. In this day and age, I'm sure less people want to listen to an album from beginning to end with people on iTunes just picking what they want to play but dance fans listen to DJ mixes, so it's kind of nice to make people want to listen from start to finish as intended.
So the 4 tracks that you have already released like “We Are Lucky People” or “Risk Worth Taking” are the club mixed versions. Will there be a different version or different feel to those tracks for the album?
Yeah. Basically I will go back to the tracks, and it's quite nice in a way because I will get to go back after knowing the track after playing it and sitting on it for a bit. There will be things I want to do to it to change it and develop it. So this allows me to do that afterwards. It's kind of a different way of looking at it.
Speaking of the track “Risk Worth Taking” featuring Susana which is your most recent club mix release as an example, have you already conceptually thought of how's it going to sound like in the album?
Not 100% but it will probably be more ethereal in the album. At the same time there is that 303 line that I definitely want to keep that in there. I'm not saying that the album won't have a lot of beats on there, there will still be beats, but what I'm saying is that it will be developed in a different way that flows from start to finish. It won't be a complete chill out album or anything like that. It will be designed to listen from beginning to end so that things blend together and there will be moments of calmness if you like with some of the tracks. Perhaps longer sections of calm than a club mix would allow.
“Risk Worth Taking” featuring Susana is a great 135 bpm track. Can you tell me how you developed it and was this the first time you have worked with Susana who was featured on the vocals?
Yes it was the first time I had worked with Susana. I've known her for quite a while. We've toured a few times together and we were threatening to do a track together for a while. It finally happened and I love her vocals, she's got such a strong voice and she's incredible live. It was really exciting to get to work with her vocals. How I developed the track? I don't know what to say about that really.
Do you have an inspiration behind it, did the vocals come first and then you developed the track afterwards?
The vocals came first. That's how I pretty much work most of the time I have to say. Either someone will send me a vocal they've already recorded or I'll send them a very rough instrumental, or even an instrumental that I've already made that's been released. I'll take the vocal and I'll write something completely new underneath it. I feel that way I can really get in the vocals in the track rather than having the vocals added on afterwards. So that's the way I tend to work, so yeah, vocals first. The vocals for “Risk Worth Taking” were at 135 bpm anyway so I felt I wanted to make something a little more upbeat because I've been doing a lot of 130-132 bpm so it seemed the right vocal to do it with.
How many vocal tracks will ultimately be released on the new album? Can you tell us?
I don't know 100% at the moment. As I said I am making it up as I go along. It's probably going to be 4 or 5 but don't quote me on that because it might change over the next 6 months.
Any vocalist name that you'd like to release that will be featured in the album or do you want to keep that under your sleeve?
There is still work to be done on most of the tracks with vocals so I can't release anymore at the moment unfortunately.
I had to try.
"Trance always pulls me back as there is something about trance music that makes it very special for me"
On your website's biography it describes you as an EDM producer, and not strictly as a trance producer - do you have any plans on adopting inspiration from other genres in your upcoming album?
I'm always open to other genres but I never wholeheartedly want to jump into them. Trance always pulls me back as there is something about trance music that makes it very special for me but I'm happy to bring in more electro influences, more techno influences, etc, etc. I don't tend to chase the genre fashions but if it floats my boat, I'll take inspiration from it. I love techno but I just bring a little bit into a few tracks. Trance is where I started and trance is likely where I'll end, it's in my blood basically.
You and your team have been busy releasing a ton of tracks off your label Lange Recordings so far this year. What has sparked this explosion of creativity from yourself and artists that work under your banner?
The label has definitely gone up a gear. We work closely now with Enhanced Music. We were completely independent before we did a deal with those guys and to be distributed and supported by them. Since then it has given us the chance to increase the volume on what we do. I have a limit of one release a week so we can focus on that specific track every week. That in itself has really gotten the word out on the label and we're really busy with the release schedule as we're going in to November-December already. Increasingly there are some exciting artists joining.
The other day I asked the trance community on Reddit on whether they had any questions they'd like to ask you. The first one is: “If I were to just start listening to Lange, what 3 songs should I listen to first? As in which songs are most reflective of your style?”
I guess something like “Angel Falls”.
That was predicted.
What else did they predict? (Laughs). I'm trying to think of another from this year I will probably pick “Our Brief Time In The Sun”. For the last one I should probably go old school with it and pick “Happiness Happening”. It's not really my modern style but it's still kind of got that Lange feel to it.
The second Reddit question comes from the user Permaphrost: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Unfortunately I cannot make music when I just feel like it so sometimes you have to force yourself to make music. But I do draw on stored up influences from my travels and just generally have ideas from things I see. It might be a news article or a track that someone has done that's given me a real good idea to do something else. Unfortunately it has to be channelled back to the time I got back in the studio which isn't always that much in some weeks.
Do you create tracks on the go or do you have to be in your studio to make them?
I still don't create tracks on the go. To be honest with you most of the time I've got sufficient amount of work, mixes, and radio shows to do and stuff. So I actually don't have that much time. I tend to come back to my home base in Oxford in the UK so I'm not away months at a time like some other DJs. But I tend to come back when I can to spend time with my wife and be in the studio where it is easier to produce.
"Trance is one of those genres that people like to bash or say that it's dying out. In part of that is because we have such a passionate following."
How do you view the overall state of trance music in 2013?
I think it's still pretty healthy. Trance is one of those genres that people like to bash or say that it's dying out. In part of that is because we have such a passionate following. The music at the moment is kind of shifting over the last 5-6 years. But that's just taking influence from other genres and to be honest with you it would be very boring if we just kept on doing the same old 138 bpm kind of tracks. Trance is healthy and I even think the EDM explosion in America is really a positive thing even though there is obviously a big commercial kind of tip to it. I think it's a good thing as it kind of brings people in and if they delved deeper and find some of the smaller genres underneath.
What do you think of the new trend of blending more big room sounds into trance?
I've got no issue with bringing in some of the more big room stuff in but if you play one track after another with sirens and big snares it just starts to get a bit boring. There is a lot of extra power being added with a big room edge and I do love that but every now and again I think you should kind of shift away from that a little bit. There is nothing wrong with it but I think the main issue I have with any kind of fashion like this is that everybody jumps on it and you do have a promo box full of generic copies and that's when it gets irritating. But I'm open to anything just as long as it's good quality.
In a recent interview Armin Van Buuren defined trance as “everything from 122 to 138 bpm” - Do you share the same opinion?
Totally. What the hell, let's define it all the way up to 140. I play stuff regularly in my sets that are from 126 bpm to 138 in the same 2-3 hour set. It keeps it exciting. I've never varied bpm as much in my sets as I do these days. And you know, why not?
How do you plan your live sets? Do you come in with an idea of ramping up the bpm's to a 136-138 level like Armin Van Buuren has so famously done in recent live sets?
I don't religiously do it that way. Sometimes I will come in a bit faster or a bit harder as it depends what gig it is or who was playing before. I do preparation before I go to the event obviously, I fill the USB drive with stuff and put it in a rough order that's going to allow me to work through it. But that normally goes out the window when I do actually start. Tempo often varies throughout; I speed up, then I go back down again, and speed up again towards the end, there's usually that little bump as I don't usually go in a straight line.
"Personally I feel if a record can rock at 132 bpm then all the better. Get's a bit more groove in there!"
What are your thoughts on the “Who's Afraid of 138?” movement in trance music?
There are people very passionate about the 138 thing. Personally I feel if a record can rock at 132 bpm then all the better. Get's a bit more groove in there! Nothing against 138 either though as I've made a load of 138 in my time and I got close recently with a record at 136 bpm. I wouldn't want to play a whole set at 138 as I like to mix it up and go down to have that groovier stuff. I have nothing against these individual sub genres of trance but I personally like to cross the board and keep it interesting.
You are set to perform at Tomorrowland with a back-to-back set with Andy Moor, are you excited?
Very. I've played Tomorrowland before for the Trance Addict stage and it was brilliant. The buzz this year is just insane. I think it was those videos that went worldwide from last year; it looked amazing. Everywhere I go everybody is talking about Tomorrowland. Really excited about that.
Have you performed a lot of B2B sets with Andy Moor in the past and do you have any plans in terms of future sets with Andy this year?
We've got several this year. We've been doing it since New Years Eve in San Francisco at the Oracle Arena where we had around 14,000 to 15,000 people there. We had an amazing time. We've done around 3 shows now. We have other shows planned, we've got Tomorrowland, and Global Gathering in the same weekend. We're also playing at SW4 in the UK. We're mainly doing festival stuff which is obviously a great time to have a bit of fun doing back to back sets.
Have you ever thought of making the duo official like Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten have done with New World Punx?
No, we haven't really thought that we need to go down that road with it. It's been a lot of fun, but we probably won't do it for an extended period, something like 6-12 months.
What are 3 up and coming producers in the trance world that we should be looking out for this year?
Alex Larichev from Russia, Noah Neiman, who is also from my label. I would probably go for someone like Tomas Heredia who is really making a name for himself at the moment.
Besides the new album and the compilation for the Ministry of Sound, what else can we expect from Lange for the rest of 2013?
We'll be doing something special for Intercity 150 to celebrate as the radio show will be 5 years old. Plans are being made, but I haven't had a massive amount of time to put into that at the moment because I've been so busy.