On Thursday, the 20th of November, Cosmic Gate stopped by Bassmnt in San Diego to spin their current favorites in trance, as well as tracks from their most recent album “Start to Feel.” Prior to this, we were given the opportunity to speak with them about future tracks, crushing synths, and just starting to feel. For more info on all the juicy details, keep scrolling.
DB: How would you describe your sound in five words or less?
CG: Abso, lute, ly, un, possible. Hahahaha. In five words, I don’t know. But our music for us has to be emotional, touching. It might be melancholic in some way or the other, but sometimes also quite euphoric. Emotion is the main word. Emotional. Touching. Feeling. We don’t want to write tracks that are just tracks. It has to be a little bit deeper. We’re doing dance music. If you listen to the album, you’ll see that we want music that isn’t just playing during the summer. We want people to hopefully be listening to it in ten years from now — like “oh my god, that was my soundtrack,” “it’s still touching me,” “I’m hearing new elements now.” We wouldn’t release it if it wouldn’t touch us. Seeing them jumping isn’t enough for us. It has to touch you at a certain point in the track, for sure. That’s important.
DB: And do you think that this sets you apart from others in the industry?
CG: You have to answer that. Hahaha.
DB: Hahahaha… fair enough.
DB: What instruments do you play? What’s your go-to?
NIC: I play the piano. I started when I was about nine. I did it for nine years: lessons every week.
DB: That’s incredible. It paid off.
NIC: When I was fourteen/fifteen I wanted to quit, obviously, because I wanted to play soccer and all that stuff. But my father said “There’s no way.” He literally made me do it. And I’m so thankful.
BOSSI: I’m gonna say one thing: he is a good soccer player, but fortunately he’s a way better pianist.
DB: Hahaha. I love the support system.
DB: Who would you say are your current and all-time favorites in the industry, and why?
CG: We love Carl Cox. He’s outstanding. What he’s doing no-one else is doing. We don’t like to talk about what other deejays and producers really do, but Ilan Bluestone and Andrew Bayer are the new trance sound. They really do awesome, awesome stuff. There’s more people in the deep house and techno world that are doing great things: David August, for example, gives an unbelievable feeling. We couldn’t even put a genre on his music.
DB: Do you think that Ilan Bluestone and Andrew Bayer are the future pioneers of the industry?
CG: I mean, Andrew Bayer and Ilan Bluestone are doing a lot to. And I hope we are doing the same to keep trance music interesting, to keep it alive, and to bring it to another level. That’s why we love those guys. They do it in a different way. We all love the sound of 1999, but it is 2014. For example, a soccer or basketball team that plays the same soccer or basketball from fifteen years before has no chance these days to win. That’s the same with music. We all like “that” sound, but you have to try to keep the feel and give it a new beat — add something new, something different. We love the old sound, but it doesn’t help to always look back and say “oh, those were the times.” You have to always keep on, and keep on. Otherwise, you’ll be left behind.
DB: When you produce tracks that are purely instrumental, how do you go about giving them the perfect title. Like “Crushed,” why “crushed?”
CG: “Crushed?” I’m glad you asked that. Sometimes it is hard to give a title to tracks, but for “Crushed” it was easy. It’s a typical thing for us to include a lot of claps and high hats with the beat. We use a certain plug-in, and we crush them: a bit-crusher. It reduces the bit-rate, so it makes it crispy.
CG: It makes it sound old, but it makes it sound dirty.
DB: Kind of like a white noise almost?
CG: To crush a party… it has so many different meanings. We said, “Crushed.” We liked that, and it fit the track. But you’re right, it’s sometimes hard when you’re just trying to find something. Obviously a vocal always gives a track a name. But we try to find something that is a little bit meaningful. Like “Barra,” for example. Barra is a part of Rio de Janeiro, where we were writing the song. No one knows this. But to be honest, there’s also tracks that we made and we needed a name… and we just went through names and found one we really loved.
DB: Huh. That’s really cool to hear.
DB: Congratulations on the release of your sixth studio album “Start to Feel!” What core elements set it apart from the previous five? What would you say is the album’s overall theme? How do you determine the track order? Would you say that the track order is equally important to the production of the album itself?
CG: Thank you very much! Well, “Start to Feel” is not just three words to give the album a name. “Start to Feel” simply is the album’s theme; it brings the musical idea to the table, and the name is more than only a small hint to the music. It’s all about emotional music: music that touches and creates emotions within the listener. It doesn’t go down the road of a lot EDM tracks that mainly focus on the drop — music that certainly works at the moment, but is pretty short-term thinking in our opinion. We simply hope our music lasts longer. We want to write tracks that are still in our fans’ music libraries in ten years, as many of our older songs are still played and requested in our shows to this day. A particular track order for an album, of course, is important. We want to tell a complete story by putting the listener on a journey; much similar to a deejay set. So, we tried to find a order that made sense to us, knowing that with seventeen tracks it would be a discussion depending on mood and environment.
DB: I recently heard your single titled “Alone,” featuring the lovely vocals of Kristina Antuna. Can you tell us a bit about how and why you approached it the way you did? How did you know that Kristina would be the perfect fit for the track’s vocals?
CG: Our music is all about feeling and emotions, and we both instantly loved Kristina’s voice after hearing her for the first time. She sounds ‘modern,’ but also has a lot of soul in her voice. She’s got such an amazing talent, and we thought she would fit our style perfectly. And the success of “Alone” may be proving us right. A follow-up single is already in the making.
DB: From hits like “Exploration of Space” to “Be Your Sound” and “Falling Back,” what drew you to Black Hole Recordings and Armada relative to the other big names in the industry? What inspired you to form your own label, WYM Records? What do you look for in an artist before signing him/her onto your label?
CG: We’ve always been close with the Armada crew, so it was a logical step to have “Start to Feel” and “Wake Your Mind” as records working with Armada. With the start of our own label Wake Your Mind, it was time for us to begin something new. It was time to finally have a platform for our own music, our own home and brand: something that we are really standing for. We want to give the artists that we sign a home for their sound. We look for young talent we believe in, music that fits our sets, and music that inspires us. Sends us your demos!
DB: At Group Therapy 100, I was in pure awe when Above & Beyond played “Yai” accompanied by the vocals from “These Shoulders” by Julie Thompson. The Garden’s backdrop featured a flock of sky lanterns floating along the night sky; everything was just perfect. What do you think about their vocal take on “Yai?
CG: It’s definitely a very nice bootleg — we like it! Funny, at the same time we started working on a vocal mix of “Yai,” and we have one of our absolute-favorite female vocal artists singing on it. We are sure you will admire this one as well. News to come soon.
DB: Aside from the “Alone EP” and “Start to Feel,” what should fans expect from you and your shows?
CG: Besides the tracks from “Start to Feel,” we play our current favorite club tunes and some classics. We go on a journey with the crowd, we party together, and we simply have a good time. If you have not been to any of our shows, come check us out!
DB: Would you say that the scene has changed? As in, do you think that these events are more about the music or the show itself?
CG: The show aspect unfortunately gets bigger and bigger in the deejay world. To use the microphone, which was a no-no for every electronic deejay, is normal these days. Some acts’ performance demonstrate that the show is clearly more important than the music that is played, so of course things have changed dramatically. We still try to carry the crowd with our music, and hope that there will always be an audience that prefers a good set over throwing cakes or getting yelled at all night on the mic.
DB: Where do you think EDM shows will be seven years from now, considering live acts like BT, Infected Mushroom, and Netsky? Will turntables forever dominate, or will electronic-based instruments triumph?
CG: This is really hard to answer. Maybe it will be a mixture of all. Technology can’t be stopped, but at the end it’s still the human being behind the decks or synthesizers (or whatever is up there on-stage that is deciding for the outcome and programming of a night). Let’s see where human skill takes us before technology maybe totally takes over, who knows.
DB: What would you say is the largest issue that the world is facing in this day and age? If you could change anything with the snap of a finger, what would it be and why?
CG: Next to the obvious things like power and money, intolerance and the fear of everything that is different and unknown is maybe the reason for most issues in the world. Give it a snap, and we would say no more war and hunger in the world, but with the motives we stated at the beginning and as easy as it should be, it may unfortunately never happen.
DB: What’s the golden rule behind your success? Do you have any words of wisdom to share with the world out there?
CG: We always say that if you are in the scene for the right reasons — the passion and love for music, and not making money and trying to get famous — then give it a go! Work hard, but don’t follow trends, as these will be over soon, again. Write the music that you really feel. Be unique and stand out. Have a signature sound. We think only then will you stand out and be recognized as a true artist and be out there for longer than a few singles. Good luck!!!
‘Have your signature sound,’ and this certainly does not apply only to music. Hop on Cosmic Gate’s space shuttle and go on an exhilarating, emotional journey with them at Sutra, OC on the 29th of this month and at the famous Echostage, DC with Orjan Nilsen on the 7th of February. And remember to take care of each other.