Simon Patterson is one of shinning lights in trance music today. 2 years ago he went from feeling "lost" to becoming an innovator within the scene thanks to his powerful productions and by successfully introducing psy-trance and techno into his live sets and radio show. Back when artists were combining mainstream sounds into trance, Simon went the other way and sought influences from the underground. The result? Simon has enjoyed 17 Beatport Trance #1 hits.
His latest project was to mix the next Trance Nation compilation series for the Ministry of Sound. Known as one of the most important compilations within the European trance scene, it was an honour for Simon to be asked to create the next album. EDM Canada managed to talk to Simon about this and so much more within this extended interview below.
If you're into trance and are a fan of Simon Patterson, then this interview is a must-read. Enjoy:
Do you feel like you had a helping hand in veering the trance scene more towards the underground?
Simon Patterson: I think the Open Up radio show helped shape that a little bit. Once psy-trance and techno became a focus for the show, I noticed a lot of people jumped on psy-trance more than what they had before. At that time the up and coming DJs weren't ready to take that risk and it wasn't as popular as “EDM” at that time.
I'm hoping I changed the scene a little bit and introduced people to more underground sounds. Since the Open Up launch I've noticed more and more DJs from my scene play that sound, which is a good thing because it's helping grow the underground. So I'd like to think that yes.
Armin Van Buuren named you as one of his favourite artists. Do you think your influence in trance helped Armada to move toward the underground by creating the “Who's Afraid of 138” sub-label, as well as Armin to take a chance on the psy-trance ASOT episode 666?
Who knows, but hopefully. I don't have time to listen to Armin's show but I'm so grateful that he mentioned me. I just think Armada are clever in the way they have marketed the whole thing. I don't think to tag things based off of BPM because it's so irrelevant. Armin knows that the 140 BPM sound never died and never will die, and whether you call it 138 or 140 or 141, it doesn't matter because it's a unique sound following suit from the old discover sound that was around 4 years ago. The strong kick drum, upbeat bass, and plucky melodies is something Paul Van Dyk has been playing for 10 years.
Armin found a really smart way to market it and I think it's really good that he supports the faster sound because without him and his radio show, who else is going to reach the masses like that? No one. I'm not sure if Armin listens to Open Up or even knows that I play psy-trance, but if he did and take influence from it, then it's really an amazing thing for me.
Tell me about Trance Nation, your upcoming double disc compilation project.
I'm not sure how relevant Trance Nation is in Canada, but in the U.K., especially from 10 years ago, it's been a legacy. Judge Jules did Trance Nation in 1999 and it was the first time I had bought it. Ferry Corsten took over from him and it just continued from there. It was such an amazing CD that pushed trance music. Being asked to do it is just an honour for me because I bought the CD since then.
My Trance Nation release is going to be a double CD and it includes everything that I want people to think what I'm about. It has laid back sounds that you'd want to hear on a Sunday to full on club tracks to vocal stuff. There's loads of exclusives that's really hard to get in the album as well. It's just a complete journey of sounds. It took a long time to do and I hope that people are going to like it because it truly represents what I'm about.
Trance Nation will feature a brand new original from you called “Drop The Bass” - can you tell me about it?
“Drop The Bass” is a track that was half finished quite a while ago and Ministry wanted an exclusive for the album so I went back to it and polished it up. It follows suit from the old “Thump” sort of sound. These days everyone likes the drop so it's a track that is 140 BPM and its uplifting with loads of crazy samples in it. The track evolved from the oldish sound that I used to do. I hope people like it.
Were you being a bit cheeky when naming that track?
There's a sample in there that goes “Drop The Bass” and I was just being lazy in the fact that I couldn't think of a name to call it. I just called it that because you can hear the guy saying it.
(The next few questions were from the Reddit r/Trance community)
What do you think of the recent influx of psy-trance into tech/uplifting trance?
If it's done really well, then it's really cool. The reason why I like psy-trance is because the production is far greater for me than what's produced in the full-on trance stuff. It's cleaner and so much tighter and it sounds fatter in the club. If people are going to try to emulate it and put it into tech-trance tracks then it's gotta be way better than what the psy guys do or don't put it in at all. That's the way I look at it. It's cool if it's done right but I don't want it to be in-fluxed too much where it takes away from psy-trance and how cool it is.
If it gets overplayed and overused then I will move away from it because it will get boring, and it will be less quality. Even right now there is only a select few psy-trance that I listen to every week that makes my sets because so much out there. The same applies to tech-trance and trance because it literally has to be cutting edge or there's no point in doing it.
Who do you think has had a greater influence on the type of music you play: John Askew or Astrix?
Both. There's no one greater. Askew always believed in me and supported me while I grew up listening to Astrix. He's been my hero from such an early age. He started me with psy-trance; Askew supported me on what I do – and without either of them I wouldn't be here today.
"I was restricting myself on what I made and John Askew let me open my mind up allowing me to create anything."
What kind of role did John Askew play in making you the artist that you are today?
I made “Here and Now” in 2012 for example which was pure “EDM” and I've never even played that track out in my life. I was lost. Everyone was starting to make that sound and it seemed to be the only way to continue my career otherwise I was going to give up because I wasn't feeling the faster stuff anymore. I was so bored of it. So I slowed things down and tried to make more hit records.
Then Askew came on board and we decided to go a certain way. He was really instrumental in making me believe that I should play darker stuff. And if I wanted to play psy-trance or techno that I should take that risk while keeping my fan base happy. We did that by creating Open Up and releasing a new 140 BPM track, a slower track, and a psy track every 6 months. I was restricting myself on what I made and John Askew let me open my mind up allowing me to create anything.
He showed me Blazer and I never even heard of Blazer before. John Askew showed me sounds that I also never even heard before. And that's where I got all of my influences from. He's like a mentor and he never lets me put out stuff that he thinks is not good enough. He can be really critical but also really fair and I need someone like that to push me. It's really important to have a team of people behind you to let you know that you're doing right or wrong. Without him, there would be no Open Up.
Do you have plans for creating your own label or resurrecting your Night Vision label?
I'd love to do that but after the nightmare I had with Spinnin', which wasn't their fault but it was just the way the music was going – it was just chaos. It was fun whilst I did it but I just have so much work to do as it is, it's just extra work to even think about a label. I'd love to do one one day, even to just release my own stuff, but have no plans to do that in the near future.
When you first created the Open Up radio show, did you believe that it would take off like it did, that it would create such passionate fans?
Not really to be honest. I thought I was taking a risk. It takes a lot of work to do the show every week. When I first started I had a lot more time to focus on the show as I would spend so long planning the tracklist. But now I just do a live mix, or a guest mix, or just do a studio mix to just get it out there because it takes so much time as it is. I never knew it would be that successful and thought people would be put off by it because I was playing so much underground stuff.
Back then all of the radio shows sounded the same to me as they played similar playlists. I wanted to make sure, if anything, that the playlists would be different for Open Up. I'm glad people did check out my show.
We're now a few months into 2015 – what is your view of the trance scene and the electronic dance music world today?
It's picking up for sure. I think “EDM” is dying, thankfully. But I can't be too critical because without “EDM”, there would be no way the trance that I play or even the underground stuff would be back again. This is because the kids that listened to “EDM” back when they were 18 2-3 years ago are not into that sound anymore and they have started to look for something new. That's allowed the underground and harder stuff to come through.
Whenever I come around to the U.S. and Canada, the shows are always packed whereas even 3 years ago it wasn't as strong as this. I think it's coming back and trance is in a really good place right now.
With techno, a label like Drumcode which has been around forever, is only now catching onto a wider audience. I hear 21 year old kids talking about Adam Beyer, who has been around for so long, and I have been listening to him for years. That's going to be a big sound for the next couple of years.
What about Chris Liebing's CLR label? Why hasn't it taken off along with Drumcode?
I love his stuff as well. Techno has always been there and it's never going away. I don't know why Drumcode has kicked in so much but it doesn't matter, just as long as style is supported and that the clubs are busy. Asia is a bit weak for me and for my sound as they are more into the commercial stuff but the States, Canada, the U.K., and Europe are really strong.
What can fans expect to see from Simon Patterson in 2015 besides Trance Nation?
I've got a new vocal track to be released on Armada called “Time Stood Still”, to be released next week. I have a psy/techno track which I'm finishing this week on Perfecto Fluoro and I haven't gotten a name for it yet. It will be a follow-up to the first remix I did for Neelix called “Leave Me Alone”, but it will be a faster and crazier. Then I've got another vocal track coming out, and I plan on starting a collaboration with Astrix. John Askew and I are planning to do a track so there's loads of stuff in the works. I'm focusing on making tracks individually and not focusing on an album. The plan is to release something every 6 weeks.
So no albums plans – do you find the EP route just a better way to go?
For the amount of work I put into a track, and that I'm so picky, I couldn't focus on creating multiple tracks at the same time for an album. For me I'd just create 11 singles. I need to focus on making one track at a time, finish it when its at its best, and move on. I can't have 10 things going on at once, it's impossible for me.
Do you have anything that you'd like to say before we wrap up?
I'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone in Canada which is without a doubt one of my favourite, if not my favourite territory to play in. I love Toronto, I love Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver. I have such a good time when I'm down there. The fans are always so supportive so I'd like to give a massive shout out to the fans in Canada. I really appreciate all of the support over the last couple of years.
My thanks to Simon Patterson for this interview filled with a ton of insight. Simon is one of the most exciting trance artists and will continue to be for some time to come.
Be sure to support Simon Patterson on his latest 2 disc compilation for Trance Nation, out April 5th! Click here to buy it on iTunes.