In the world we live in, there are people that once the divine spark of creativity is ignited within them, they will do everything in their power to seek out the tools needed while pouring their very soul into mastering what has become their craft. Artists such as this are passionate, driven people that won’t stop until they accomplish what they have initially begun. “John Askew” and “Simon Patterson” easily fall into this category. Each of them have had their fair share of highlights and special moments in the scene they call home. Torch bearers of what they truly believe in, paving the way victoriously with their own unique sound, a sound that defines them as individuals and artists as well. If you have ever had the opportunity to attend one of their performances or are familiar with their music then you have quite a keen sense of what I am talking about. A selection of dark underground tunes infused with techno, tech trance and a strong dose of psy-trance. A performance so furious and invigorating you can not help but feel your heart pounding away in your chest as you lose yourself to the beats unleashed. With countless tracks and remixes under their belts, ecstatic ground breaking performances all around the world and the launch of the infamous “VII” label, there is nothing that these two can not accomplish. I am honored to have had the opportunity to do this exclusive interview with them for Trancefix.nl. Many thanks guys, keep on charging ahead at full force!
Question 1: Did music always play an important part in your life and had you ever dreamt it would take you where you are today?
Simon: Yes music has always been my number one passion and of course in the early days of being a DJ there was nothing but dreaming, hoping and focusing on a potential future of being where I am today.
John: Yes to both.
Question 2: You have been known to tear up dance floors worldwide with your aggressive, high energy sounds. How did you both come up with that special sound that defines you as an artist?
Simon: I play the sound I believe in. I play driving beats with an edge. The track has to be different level to anything else I play so I take as long as it takes to create my sound. I love uplifting melodies too but not generic. My background is rock so I am heavily influenced by tear jerking chords so I try to combine the both. I am hard to please so if when I play tracks in my set its got to have exactly the right ingredients for me.
John: I think being exposed to DJs like “DJ Dag“, “CJ Bolland“, “Westbam“, “Gayle San” and “Sven Vath” – who all played hard trance during my early days of clubbing – those were the DJs specifically that defined and still define my tastes, sound and style of DJing today.
Question 3: A) (For John) You had the honor of running one of the most legendary labels in dance music, the mighty “Perfecto Records” launched by “Paul Oakenfold”. What was that experience like and what did you take home from it?
John: I learned a great deal working with Paul. The word legend gets used quite flippantly these days but he is certainly a true legend and icon. I already had a lot of experience running labels when I went into the job, but he taught me a lot more about different aspects of the industry. I also learned a lot about myself as a person during that period. All positive stuff and I’m grateful to him for allowing me the opportunity to soak up so much of his knowledge.
B) (For Simon) You got into producing your own tracks long after you had success as a DJ. With “Apex” you gained worldwide fame as a producer and what a stormer of a track that was! Do you still enjoy producing tracks like that and how did you go about creating that monster?
Simon: Like I said above it takes me months to make a track. “Apex” is a stand out track, there’s nothing like it. Some people aren’t prepared to spend that amount of time on the tiny details but I’m not one of those people. “Apex” is one of many hits that contributed to getting me to where I am and giving me the fame or whatever you want to call it. I was making this style of tech trance since way before “Apex” – with stuff like “Smack“.
Question 4: What “daw” do you both use in your studios when creating your own material and remixes?
Simon: Logic X
John: Logic X for producing and Ableton Live for making the Re-Edits I play in my sets.
Question 5: If you could work with any singer/songwriter from the whole music spectrum who would it be and why?
John: I’m not really a massive maker of vocal trance. I prefer the instrumental side of things because it gives more of an alien experience. As soon as you add a voice, a verse, a chorus the track becomes human….or of this earth.
Simon: Well not sure about singers. The ones I already work with are my faves. But in terms of collaborating with another producer – I’d love love to work with “Junkie XL“. I love his soundscapes. The level of production he has is absolute genius.
Question 6: We have heard so many times that the trance scene is supposedly dead. On the other hand with every passing day we witness amazing new tracks emerging from artists old and new who are willing to push the boundaries further. What are your guys’ thoughts on the matter?
Simon: Who the fuck still thinks this? Are they blind???
John: I’m so bored of being asked this question. The people that keep saying trance is dead are people that used to go out but now have four kids and a nagging overweight wife who keeps them under the thumb. The scene has never died and is probably stronger and more vibrant now than it has ever been. Where exactly have you heard this many times?
Question 7: If you both could rework any classic trance track which would it be and why?
Simon: Right now I’m working on a rework of a “Chemical Brothers” record which is going to be massive. I’m also doing a remix for “Astrix“. Other than that I’m focused on new original material.
John: I’ve already reworked pretty much all of my favourites from that era – “Are Am Eye“, “Narcotic Influence“, “Alienated“, “Tell Me Why” etc etc….
Question 8: When roaming the world, playing major gigs, which city do you hold most dear to you by visiting and playing there?
Simon: Buenos Aires, LA and Melbourne.
John: Buenos Aires, Rosario, Melbourne, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, New York, Singapore, Mexico City….it would be impossible to choose just one.
Question 9: The “VII” label has become a force to be reckoned with. Can you share with us the story behind it all?
John: After running labels for other people (“Discover” then “Perfecto Fluoro“) for years I wanted to breakaway and do my own thing. I wanted to create a label that only released the music of the small group of artists signed to it. And I wanted all of those artists to all be my favourite producers and DJs from their respective areas in trance.
Question 10: With the success of the “VII” label and if the public craves it, will there be any special VII events happening around the world or perhaps a compilation showcasing the artist’s work?
John: Yes we are hosting our own stage at “Tomorrowland” this year and we have a few other shows which are yet to be announced that will also happen in 2018. A major compilation album is planned for June.
Question 11: It seems you both get along mighty well and testament to this fact are the back to back “Open To Close” sets you have been playing so far. Does each of you have his own idea of how he wants to play, set wise or is it a joined decision?
John: When we play back to back the only thing we discuss is who is going to play first. Then we do half an hour on and half an hour off. I guess we might also have a glance into each other’s folders of music in the hotel beforehand to make sure we don’t play tracks that the other one wants to play.
Question 12: If you didn’t have the career you both have, what do you think you would have liked to do?
Simon: Mattress tester.
John: Guitarist in a major touring rock band.
Question 13: In 1999 on wards we saw many trance tracks having a special space themed sound such as “Life On Mars-DJ Wag” or “Stage One-Space Manoeuvres”. Evidently outer space and the cosmos have always held a special interest to the dance music producers. Now with so many exciting discoveries, do you as producers find yourselves drawn to create such a track, combined with your own unique touch?
Simon: I mean I am into space and what’s out there interests me a great deal but I am not drawn to get involved in creating a themed song. If I find an idea that’s mind blowing then maybe. But most space themed tracks are either speeches about the universe or bleep sounds which I have heard since 1999!
John: Not really, although I did make a track called “A Million Stars” that was inspired by a night in Patagonia, Argentina where I slept out in the middle of nowhere, out in the open with no tent – with the most spectacular view of the stars above. So I guess there was some planetary, intergalactic influence there. I do often find myself thinking what else is out there…..