On Friday, November 28th, trance heroes Super8 & Tab made a stop at The Observatory, Santa Ana on their Unified Tour. The night was driven by trance anthems both familiar and new, and filled with tracks from the Finnish super duo’s recently released studio album titled “Unified.” Prior to this, we were given the opportunity to discuss the elements composing the album, future releases, and going-Gaius-Julius on some rivers. To get in on all the juicy details, keep scrolling.
DB: Describe your sound in five words or less.
SUPERTAB: Five words or less… uplifting, progressive, trance, melody, and… that’s four.
DB: One more! One more!
SUPERTAB: *dramatic pause* Good. Hahaha.
SUPERTAB: Yeah, amazing. Haha.
DB: Amazing, then. Okay, cool.
DB: At what BPM would you say your heart beats?
SUPERTAB: Around 128 to 132.
DB: And what instruments do you play? What’s your preference?
SUPERTAB: Well, these days we mostly play with the keyboard. With the computer, you have all the instruments there, so it’s easier. Back in the day, we played the guitar and drums.
DB: I prefer the guitar.
SUPERTAB: Yeah, but nothing too crazy. These days it’s so easy to have all your instruments in the computer, and they travel with you everywhere you go.
DB: So, basically “why lug all these things around when it’s all in one place, in my computer?”
SUPERTAB: *double* Yeah.
DB: Who are your current and all-time favorites in the music industry? Doesn’t have to be EDM.
SUPERTAB: We’ve been liking Andrew Bayer’s stuff, lately. Quite a lot.
DB: He’s doing pretty well.
SUPERTAB: All-time? Above & Beyond, Coldplay, and The Prodigy. The Prodigy is doing a new album, which we’re really excited about. That’s something that we started to listen to from a really long time ago. These guys are still around, and they’re doing great!
DB: They’re still alive and kicking, huh?
SUPERTAB: Yeah, they’re one of our influences.
DB: Oh my god. I was absolutely blown away. That was “Song of the Night,” for me. It was incredible — it almost felt like the laser show was conducting it, like the conductor of an orchestra. And I must ask, how did you and 7 Skies go about giving it that name? Why “rubicon?”
SUPERTAB: It was the result of a little bit of Googling. I believe that Rubicon was the name of the river that Julius Caesar crossed. So, there’s no turning back! You gotta…
DB: You just gotta go forward, right? Like, you gotta go into the drop, kinda thing?
SUPERTAB: So, that’s how it came to be.
Ahh. There’s just no turning back from a laser show like that.
DB: And how did you and 7 Skies approach it the way that you did? Why the heavy drop? It almost sounds like a throwback to old trance: your older sound.
SUPERTAB: Yeah, melody kinds of things, big breakdown. It just happened. We started with a beat, first. Then, we were like: ‘Okay, we need to have an epic breakdown.’ And then we started to work on it. And we were like: ‘Okay, we need a little bit of a bang,’ as well. When it goes off, it goes like this big explosion.
DB: It just felt right, right?
SUPERTAB: *double* Yeah. It was a really natural process.
DB: That’s usually how the best things are made, in my opinion. Well, great track.
SUPERTAB: Thank you.
DB: Congrats on the release of your second studio album “Unified.” I’ve gotta say that I’ve been listening to it during my studies and all that good stuff — it’s been getting me through some things. What core elements would you say set it apart from “Empire?”
SUPERTAB: This is more club-oriented. But it still has a lot of the same elements that “Empire” had. There’s a lot of different kinds of sounds. The core is probably that it is more club-friendly; most of the tracks we can play during our sets. A big thing which we noticed with “Empire” was that when we were playing, there were people asking ‘Play this!’ and ‘Play that!’ We couldn’t fit the tracks into our sets. This time around, we wanted to do it so that they would. They are still listenable, easy to listen to wherever you are, not too banging.
DB: So more generally-friendly to your audience?
SUPERTAB: It’s more clubby.
DB: So, it fits the scene — the venue?
SUPERTAB: It fits our sets. No matter what kind of environment. We can play those tracks out and fit them into our sets, allowing the set to grow and build-up, and everything. If you listen, you’ll know that they aren’t really like club tracks. But, we can really build-up our set with them. “Let Go” is a good intro to the set, and “Rubicon” is during the set’s climax. At the moment, we’re playing six to eight tracks from the album in our sets. It reverbs. Something we couldn’t do with “Empire.” We just couldn’t play “Slow to Learn,” until Maor Levi remixed it.
DB: Right on.
DB: What would you say is the album’s theme? What kind of message are you trying to portray through it? With titles like “Let Go,” “Unified,” “Clairvoyant,” what’s the theme you’re trying to convey to the audience?
SUPERTAB: They’re truly ‘let go’ kinds of tracks: big build-ups, a drop that goes off that lets you really dance and party to them, beautiful melodies, nice chords…
DB: Melody is key, that’s for sure.
SUPERTAB: That’s what’s always been the core. The core of Super8 & Tab.
DB: How did you determine the track order? Would you say that it’s important when you’re making an album?
SUPERTAB: The track order? We play around quite a lot with these tracks, kind of like ‘which tracks flow together’ When the album was basically ready, we felt that we needed one more track. So, we made it “Clairvoyant.”
DB: It fit the puzzle together.
SUPERTAB: And, of course, all of them are album edits. What we play in the sets are extended mixes, so there is more of a kick and bass-line to them in the beginning.
DB: That’s great to hear.
DB: I’ve been listening to “Let Go” for a while, featuring the lovely vocals of Julie Thompson. I know you’ve been working with her for a while, but can you tell me a bit about how and why you approached that track the way that you did? How did you know she fit the track despite working with her previously on tracks like “My Enemy?”
SUPERTAB: Well, she was there. Haha. In the studio. She came up with this great melody.
DB: That’s wonderful!
SUPERTAB: With “My Enemy,” we sent her the track and she wrote on it.
DB: Oh, so she writes them herself? That’s awesome!
SUPERTAB: Yeah. And then, we produced, and produced, and changed it, going back and forth to find the right piece. With this specific album, we wanted to have all the vocals written and recorded in the same room so that we could actually be a part of the writing process. When Julie came to our studio in Helsinki, we were there for three days and wrote four tracks together.
DB: Wow. Four tracks in three days.
SUPERTAB: She was there for five days, and our goal for the week was to write one good track. And in three days, we had four. It really worked out. Though they came out quite well, those four tracks didn’t fit the album. So, maybe we’ll be releasing them, some day…
DB: Oh, yeah? That’s good to know.
SUPERTAB: She’s super talented. It’s so easy to work with her. The chemistry in the studio *resonating snap* just works. It was obvious that we wanted her to be on this album as well. *dramatic pause* Maybe more to come? Hahaha.
SUPER8: We’ve been there for a long time. My first release was in 2001/2002.
DJ TAB: Mine was in 2003. From the beginning, we’ve been growing with the label. It’s almost like our home. And Paavo is from Finland, as well. It’s always been easy to talk with him in our own Finnish language. Of course, there aren’t any barriers when talking with the other guys in English. But it’s easier, especially in the beginning, to relate with someone. Also, why not? Anjunabeats is a great label.
DB: No, of course. I totally agree.
DJ TAB: And we’ve been releasing stuff on the other labels, as well. We don’t have anything against anyone. Anjunabeats just fits: a good home, a good place to be.
DB: So, what should fans be expecting from your current tour? Do you have any freshly baked IDs to share with us tonight, or what?
SUPERTAB: At the moment, we’re concentrating on the album. There will be more single releases and remixes to come from the album. It’s only been one month out, so we’ll be celebrating that for a while, haha. It feels so great to play those tracks out. Every track we play from the album, people recognize them and it feels so great. Of course, we’re already working on stuff. We’re saving those IDs for the future.
DB: So there’s an interesting divide in EDM: there are deejays that tend to cater to the masses by performing an exceptionally grand show backed by club/big-room-oriented music — like Hardwell, Martin Garrix, and Tiesto — and producers that tend to do their own thing regardless of public taste — like deadmau5, Soundprank, and Porter Robinson. Where would you say that you are along that spectrum?
SUPERTAB: Not at Garrix. We do this for the music, and we do music that we feel is best in the studio. Then we come out and play it. Martin Garrix’s is not the music that we feel in the studio. We do what we feel we need to be doing.
DB: I feel like you produce something better that way.
SUPERTAB: All the tracks we’ve been doing, we really feel them. And it just feels right at the moment. We’ve been trying a lot of different kinds of things in the studio. And, for some reason, they always end up to be like that “Super8 & Tab sound.” That’s us. We want to do our own thing, and it seems to be doing quite okay. Tonight is sold-out. We love to do our own thing, and it gives so much back to us.
DB: And how do you maintain your sound in an industry that is very over-saturated? As in, music is becoming more generic, big-room is taking over, deep-house is rising. How have you managed to maintain your “Super8 & Tab sound?” Has it just naturally been that way, or what?
SUPERTAB: Yeah, I think it’s natural. Of course, we listen to a whole lot of genres and pick-up a lot of ideas for sounds and creating our own sounds. It’s important to not stay in our comfort zone, but to go out and explore. With the album closed, it’s so great that we can make all kinds of different tracks and experiment. It’s quite fresh.
DB: Yeah, “Say U Luv” isn’t really standard trance. It almost has that dub-steppy-like influence in there, which is nice; I actually enjoyed it a lot.
SUPERTAB: That’s one of the things with these melodies. We’ve always been trying to sort of break the barrier of sound by not going through the same approach over and over again, to hear that the melody is dead. We start fresh and new with every track.
DB: I feel that. That’s great!
A piggyback off of ‘going through the same approach over and over again, to hear that the melody is dead,’ brought to you by Martin Garrix.
DB: What would you say is the largest issue in the world that we’re facing right now? And if you could change anything with the snap of a finger what would it be?
SUPERTAB: Wooow. I went to this place in San Diego. There was this thing on the wall about how much CO2 we are producing at the moment*, and there was a prediction for where it’s going. And that was really scary. Really scary stuff. So, I’d love to say wars and whatever, but that’s even worse when it really kicks off. And when it goes off, there’s no turning back. Everybody’s saying a lot about this ‘global warming thing,’ and it’s really happening. We can see it quite a lot in Finland, especially in Helsinki at that latitude, with the weather changing so much. We should have proper winters and proper summers. Actually, this year, there was more snow on the ground in mid-summer than there was during Christmas. Of course, it’s like one day or two hours, or something, but it shows how mixed-up it is. It was snowing during a mid-summer festival and we were like: ‘What the…’
*See The Guardian‘s datablog on greenhouse emissions “World carbon dioxide emissions data by country: China speeds ahead of the rest” for a comprehensive look into CO2 emission by country at hope.ly/1vWDOIj.
DB: After fighting in the north for eight years in the name of your country as a proconsul of Rome, the Senate has ordered you to step down from your military command and return home. Do you illegally enter Roman Italy with your army as an act of supremacy, or relinquish your command? In other words, do you or do you not cross the Rubicon?
DB: Yeah? Take your army into Rome? “Screw the Senate, we’re gonna do what I say,” right?
SUPERTAB: The saying with the Rubicon goes “once you cross the river, there’s no turning back.”
DB: You’ve got to go full-force?
SUPERTAB: We’ve been doing that all the time. Otherwise, we’d be doing 138 trance.
DB: Yeah, like the olden days, so to speak.
SUPERTAB: Yeah, like “Who’s afraid of 138?” We are. Hahaha.
DB: Hahaha. Fair enough.
SUPERTAB: Though we do support 138.
DB: It has its time and place.
SUPERTAB: Actually, we played a classic set last summer in Amsterdam.
DB: Oh wow.
SUPERTAB: There is that “feeling” that reminded us of why we played this kind of stuff. But is that going to give you something that you’re looking for when you’re doing tracks in the moment? Not really.
SUPERTAB: And it sort of feels great to play what we do at the moment. There’s more stuff; we can play a much wider spectrum at the moment.
DB: And it doesn’t have to be only 138.
SUPERTAB: Yeah, because if you play 138, you can only play harder, faster.
DB: You start hitting 140 and 145, and then you’re like “What’s going on.” Hahaha.
SUPERTAB: Hahaha. But you never know. Maybe in five years, we’ll be back to 138. You never know.
DB: It might come back.
SUPERTAB: If we feel like we want to do something like that, nothing can stop us. We can do what we want.
DB: That’s awesome.
SUPERTAB: It’s not like “No, we definitely can’t.” So we can cross the river, again.
DB: I like that.
SUPERTAB: But at the moment, this is where we are at right now.
DB: And what’s the golden rule behind your success? Do you have any words of wisdom to share with the world out there?
SUPERTAB: Yeah, trust your instincts and do your own thing. Though it may not take you to the other side of the world, it’s still your creation no matter what it is. Just do your own thing. I think that’s where you get the most back, I dunno, like…
DB: Like soul-satisfying?
SUPERTAB: Yeah… satisfying.
So, reader, be sure to pursue the creation of something that satisfies your soul: whether it be producing a song, making a blog, writing a book, starting an exercise routine, or even crossing a river. And hey, try to do this before the new year so you can have the momentum to actually follow through with your New Year’s Resolutions! And, now that we’re on the topic of resolutions, don’t miss out on Super8 & Tab when they drop by your city next year! Especially if you’re looking for a performance that will take you on an emotional, energetic journey. Start twenty-fifteen off right by taking the first step toward satisfying your soul at Pacha, NYC on the 2nd and Avalon, LA on the 3rd of January.