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Trance Retreat Chapter II: An Insider’s Look.

Knowledge. Since the ancient times once accumulated over one’s lifetime it was passed down from generation to generation, like a flaming torch, bringing light into the darkness. It was also entrusted to like minded individuals who wished to learn and develop skills even they didn’t know existed within them. Following this ancient tradition, four renowned and established DJ/Producers have set forth to pass on their knowledge and tricks of the trade to eager, enthusiastic people who, like them have a true passion for the creation of gripping dance music. The project was called “Trance Retreat” and the very first edition was held in the exotic summer infused location of Bali (Indonesia). Following the huge success of this endeavor, one of the creators of the project DJ/Producer “Dennis Sheperd” decided to bring forth the second installment of “Trance Retreat”, inviting fellow masterminds: “Menno de Jong“, “Bjorn Akesson” and “Adam Ellis” along for the ride.

Bringing the project closer to home, this time the setting is held within the winter wonderland at his homeland, Germany. The team are inviting people from all over the world to participate in this thrilling adventure. The project will take place within a Baroque manor, located South of Berlin. Envision learning some of the most enticing secrets of music making straight from the artists themselves, within the luxurious decorated rooms enriched with history and culture. An environment that will surely inspire the participants to learn and forge their own sound perhaps while having loads of fun doing so. Each artist is highly acclaimed and has his own signature sound that utterly defines him. The nominees once chosen through short interviews and careful thought, will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to explore what it feels like to learn, widen their musical horizons and create their own sounds while under the undivided attention of some of trance’s  finest instructors. The adventure begins on March 4th 2018 and will be completed on the 10th of the month. Before it all begins I had the unique pleasure of conducting this mini interview with all the artists involved, exclusively for Trancefix.nl.

Question 1: You must really be stoked about being involved in the second installment of “Trance Retreat”. What was it like to be a part of the very first “Trance Retreat” in Bali (Indonesia) and were you one of the originators of the concept?

Dennis Sheperd: Trance Retreat is the brainchild of Edwin, my business partner, and me. Edwin has been a former student of mine and we became business partners when I told him about my initial idea regarding Trance Retreat! With Bali being the first retreat of its kind, I must say it exceeded all expectations. I can honestly say that we instructors and especially the participants had the time of their lives! Everyone traveled back with new friends and lots of inspiration and most importantly additional knowledge!

Question 2: What was the most special experience or moment you took back from the previous retreat?

Dennis Sheperd: There was no particular moment to be honest. Every day was just so special and the overall experience is what I will always remember. It has been everything I wished for and more. Some of the participants are releasing their first records now and have been working even harder in the studio after the retreat. Four of the ten participants from Bali are coming to the next Trance Retreat as well. I would say, that speaks for itself!

Question 3: Can you please share with us some of what you have in store for the new class?

Dennis Sheperd: We are covering almost every aspect of music production. This includes (amongst others) Mixing & Mastering, Sound-Design, How To Create A Track From Scratch, Creating a Bassline and making it work with the Kick and Sub-Bassline and even Business Tips. And all of that is taught by our very experienced and skilled instructors Menno de Jong, Adam Ellis, Bjorn Akesson and me!

Question 4: Being a German, it must be very special to bring “Trance Retreat” home to such a beautiful environment during the Winter. Did you come up with the idea or perhaps discover the manor in which it will be held and is there a story behind it all?

Dennis Sheperd: Edwin and I were brainstorming about the next destination of the Trance Retreat and I came up with the idea of Berlin. I find the setting extremely beautiful and learning in a castle is just something else. After all our main goal is teaching music production in beautiful and inspirational spots. And I am confident a castle south of Berlin fits that criteria.

Question 1: What made you want to be a part of this enticing project? Did you always wish to transfer your knowledge to eager minds?

Menno de Jong: Up until a few years ago I was giving classes in electronic music production at Herman Brood Music Academy in The Netherlands. I was randomly asked by a friend who worked there to fill in once and they offered me a regular weekly class and tutorial sessions shortly thereafter. It was very cool to be involved with talented young producers and it reminded me very much of how it felt when I started making music myself. It’s a really amazing experience to transfer your knowledge to others and see them grow, both as musicians and people.

Most students at that music school were from a very broad range of genres mostly unrelated to Trance, so when asked to be a part of Trance Retreat, where I can share some of my specific knowledge about producing Trance, I immediately accepted.

Question 2: What are your goals for this year’s installment of “Trance Retreat” and are you excited for it to begin?

Menno de Jong: I hope to push every student that I work with at Trance Retreat to a higher level in their career, not only from a technical standpoint when it comes to producing, but also how to manage the business side, build your brand and everything that you may encounter on your journey in the music business.

Question 3: What do you wish to teach to your future pupils of the project and what would your biggest accomplishment be once the project is finished?

Menno de Jong: I’m particularly interested in the melodic and uplifting side of Trance, so I’d say it would be great if every student walks away knowing how to produce a solid piece of uplifting Trance, that could be signed to a label and played by the bigger DJs in the genre.

Question 4: What do you believe are the foundations for learning the art of producing extraordinary dance music?


Menno de Jong: It helps to have some musical feel, but the very biggest factor in becoming a successful producer is your motivation. If you are willing to go above and beyond you can learn and achieve everything!

Question 1: What made you want to be a part of this enticing project? Did you always wish to transfer your knowledge to eager minds?

Bjorn Akesson: I love music production and I love inspiring and teaching people. To be honest I haven’t really been giving teaching that much thought until recently, but I do love passing on knowledge. It’s also a great way to learn more myself by teaching others.

Question 2: What are your goals for this year’s installment of “Trance Retreat” and are you excited for it to begin?

Bjorn Akesson: My goal is to inspire new producers and give them my view of dance music production as well as showing them what I know. I also want to inspire them to make a change and add some freshness to the current trance scene. I’m very excited about it.

Question 3: What do you wish to teach to your future pupils of the project and what would your biggest  accomplishment be once the project is finished?

Bjorn Akesson: I wish to show them the way of music production and give them hope to put a mark on the trance map. My biggest accomplishment would be to inspire the pupils so that they see the trance scene from their own perspective and be able to develop their own sound and personality. 

Question 4: What do you believe are the foundations for learning the art of producing extraordinary dance music?

Bjorn Akesson: The foundation is definitely passion, drive and the hunger to learn. I’ve shown many people the ropes over the years and there has been so many that just doesn’t appreciate the information and will come back, so that I have to show them the exact same thing over and over again. If there’s a strong will then they will be able to learn effectively and make good progress. It’s also good if the person realizes that the learning will never end, there’s always room to learn more and revise things you already know.

Question 1: What made you want to be a part of this enticing project? Did you always wish to transfer your knowledge to eager minds?

Adam Ellis: I work in the music industry full time and I earn the majority of my income through full time tuition. I have taught over 200 people from 15 + countries since 2013 and seeing results and helping people gives me massive job satisfaction. It’s such a great feeling passing on your knowledge to those fortunate enough in a position to afford lessons. When I saw Trance Retreat I instantly wanted to be part of the project. I knew my knowledge would be a huge benefit to those involved and just as important to me, TR came across as an immensely professional outfit. It’s a match made in heaven.

Question 2: What are your goals for this year’s installment of “Trance Retreat” and are you excited for it to begin?

Adam Ellis: There is only 1 goal for me ‘To make each participant walk away with a new found knowledge, confident and understanding on how to make Dance music to a high level’

If we achieve that then quite simply, we have done our job!

I am hugely excited. I do not know what to fully expect and I like it like that. Its going to be a unique experience.

Question 3: What do you wish to teach to your future pupils of the project and what would your biggest accomplishment be once the project is finished?

Adam Ellis: As long as the participants are learning and making improvements in their sound, I am doing my job right and everyone is happy. It’s a two way street for me.

The biggest accomplishment is to be content with a record. Too many times as musicians we tend to fall out of love and criticise our music… Being truly content with your sound takes years of mastering and when you achieve it, its special. Of course you may nit pick, but being happy with the overall creation is a wonderful feeling.

Question 4: What do you believe are the foundations for learning the art of producing extraordinary dance music?

Adam Ellis: The foundations IMO are as follows:

– Musical ability

Without this natural instinct, you won’t get as far as someone who does have it.

– Passion and determination

These 2 things are obvious and cannot be taught. Without passion, a fire in your belly and the absolute burning desire to get somewhere with your music, you won’t succeed.

– Talent

Without some form of natural talent you just won’t get to the highest level in terms of making professional music.

– Patience

Patience is a virtue and without it, you’re buggered.

Many thanks to all artists for their time! It has been an honor!

For more info: http://www.tranceretreat.com

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