TF Interview - Stoneface & Terminal

Stoneface & Terminal Interview

Massive pleasure to interview with these two legends. I remember hearing Blueprint in 2008 and instantly fell in love with it, and have big a fan since (so I indulged myself with a back story on this track). True scene veterans, and still still going strong and delivering quality music for us. Enjoy the interview everyone!


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Welcome SF&T! How has your year been so far, both musically and personally?

So far this year was good, music-wise. We are working on lots of ideas for our musical projects and we are busy with our label CLANDESTINE. This year we also get more remix requests again, which shows us that we still do the right thing with our music, maybe :)

The last 2 years has seen you release a lot of fantastic productions, many making our top 100 last year. You’re very prolific in this regard. What wondering what keeps you going and motivated after so many years in the scene and how music production fits into your life. Do you enjoy spending as much time in the studio as possible?

Thank you, and thanks a lot to everyone who is supporting our tracks! We love being in the studio being creative for our projects or work with other acts. Over the years we've taught ourselves all the production steps by try and fail. Now our workflow is very efficient and we can take more time finding new interesting stuff, different styles and sounds. Our motivation is to spread a good feeling, to cause some emotion when we release and play our music. Music always has been the big thing for us and as long as the fire is burning, we will use it to light up our life (and maybe some other's life for a moment). The best feeling for us is when we find a great melody or a really cool rhythm, a kick and bassline that hasn't been used 30 times already... And to play in front of great people is the best way to test our stuff, very exciting, every time!

What new music can we expect from you over the next year?


We just released our collab with a very talented guy called SinSonic on Solarstone's Pure Trance, our follow up to 'Moonscape' called 'Moonraver' on FSOE in August, our collab with Solarstone called 'Mist on the hill', a remix for Robert Nickson and a remix of 'Darkside Of The Moon'. We also found the right label for our new Gundamea track and we are working on a new exciting live-project... but we will tell you more when we are ready to rumble.

What’s the production process like working as a duo? How do you work with ideas together and what unique strengths and styles do each one of you bring when compared with the other?

Usually we throw ideas back and forward via internet since Matthi moved to Hamburg some years ago. We try to work together as much as possible in our production-studio in Goerlitz but we also set up a studio in Hamburg with stuff like a Pioneer XDJ for our Twitch streams and equipment for live-sessions. We really appreciate the internet (as long as it works in Germany, hah). Sometimes Matthi comes up with ideas for a rhythm or a melody and sometimes Henry. Together we collect all that stuff and produce something till we see if it works or not. We don't argue about style n stuff so much as we both are very open minded and we have almost the same history. We always give any idea a try and see if we are happy or not. (A tip for young producers: Produce as much as you can, record all bad ideas and melodies, don't keep them in your head, spit them out... and you will have more space for the good ideas.) We do call each other every day and just stay in touch. The final production is happening in our main studio in Goerlitz where we also do the mixing and mastering.

Could you also tell us about your production set-up. What software, hardware, plugins etc you are using and any shots of the studio would be awesome too!

We used to have outboard equipment like the Korg Prophecy, MAM MB33 rack, Doepfer MS 404, Roland TB 303, Yamaha CS1x etc. What we've kept is the Yamaha, the 404 and a Boss Dr-550. We've sold the 303 at a very good price when we set up our virtual studio in 2003 and the Roland 303 vst is pretty good, to be honest. Speaking of vst plugins: we are working with modern stuff like Diva, Pigments, Serum, Sylenth but also with great 'older' synths like Texture, Albino 3 and Oddity. We had to bridge those as Cubase doesn't work with 32 Bit vsts anymore. We wanted to update to Cubase 12 actually but it doesn't work, so we stick with 11 Pro, which is totally fine. To be honest, there are so many plugins out there... you can lose focus on the important things. In the end, all those plug-ins cannot help to fix a crappy melody.

You feature across a number of different labels. Do find yourself producing with labels in mind before you start, trying to fit a sound?

Usually we do a track first and afterwards we look for a label that could be the right one for it. Of course, we always try to sign with established labels that we love because of their network, more people see their releases. In the past we've also released on new, smaller labels but we need to trust them somehow. Many of them just try some releases and are off the market after a year when they see that they have to work hard for it. All in one we are happy too that we are part of the FSOE group. It is like a homebase for us. Here we have our label Clandestine (which is going more in the techno direction in the next coming months because we love to work between techno & trance) and there are sub-labels we can work with, like UV. Not to forget the main FSOE. It's not a bad idea for an Artist / Producer to have a homebase and guys who have faith in your work. With that backing by a label you can work on ideas and productions, also with other partners, without having too much stress. We are thankful for this opportunity.

The clubs are reopening again and you’ve been playing gigs. That must feel great. What’s the atmosphere and experience been like since returning?

Yes, it's an amazing feeling to be back, of course! But it was a great feeling before Covid too and it will be amazing in 5 years. At the moment we are still having big problems to get gigs. We've been told that promoters are still afraid that the restrictions are coming back and so they only book the biggest acts to make sure that they sell tickets. Anyway, we are working hard and we are happy that we are going to play gigs like Tomorrowland and Street Parade but some more gigs would be awesome. We saw the lockdown and re-opening as a chance to bring some more diversity in the scene when it comes to line-ups. But it looks like they use flyers from the past years again and again. That saves some time but is not very exciting. Another question is, how to introduce new talents or quality acts that are working in the 'second row'? Nevertheless, we do our best and are happy if we can play gigs.

You’ve been in the scene for 20 years now. How did it all begin with you both? What have been some of your highlights and proudest achievements?

We met at school in 1984 for the first time. The music brought us together in 1991 or so. We messed around with some small Keyboards and a C64 computer and threw school parties. When we finished school in 1993, Matthi started to DJ in clubs in our hometown of Goerlitz and Henry moved to another german town for an apprenticeship and began to produce with an Amiga 500 computer and a tracker program called DSS8+. In 1998 Henry came back to Goerlitz and we released our first CDs under the guise of 'Terminal'. We sold those CDs at fuel stations and other small shops in our town. After sending our music to countless labels, we released our first vinyl singles in 1999 on labels like Energized Records and P-Style. Some years later we released a single as Stoneface vs. Terminal on another bigger label but their focus was not on our S&T music. They asked us all the time to produce for another artist (young upcoming producers may know what we mean). We decided to run our own label. We founded 'Electric Department Records', pressed vinyl and sold them worldwide. The music was very Techno-oriented until 'Summerscape', our first own Trance single. Euphonic from our neighbour town asked us to release on their label, so we did as they were a big Trance label at that time and we liked the guys. We released 'Incognition', 'Venus', 'Super Nature', 'Blueprint' and many more singles and albums before we signed to FSOE.

I'm Meanwhile we are the label heads of Clandestine and also release on many other great labels. From time to time we have to recall what we've experienced in the past just to remind ourselves that not everything is bad, hah! We are traveling the world since 16 years, which was one of our biggest dreams when we were young. And now we can say to our 13 yo egos 'Hey, one day you guys will be playing in cities like New York, Sydney or Buenos Aires to thousands of fans at the biggest clubs and festivals! You'll have more than 100 releases and remixes + some albums out... and you will find wifeys and be great fathers to some wonderful children!'.

In 2008 you released Blueprint, an awesome track that featured on Armins A State Of Trance 2008 compilation. What’s the story behind this track?

First there was this major pad. We kept it going in the loop and played with some melodies until we've found the right one and the right sound. Then we've built some drums around it and the original track was born. But we still had the feeling that it's not the final version and that we would need to make a more club oriented version. So we sat down again, which was the right decision. We tested some ideas with other pads and we worked with different basslines and turned the track into a real club-track. Euphonic, the label, loved the idea and they knew that it would be a big club hit, which it was at the end. Above & Beyond preferred the original track and Armin van Buuren sent us a personal email to tell us that the club mix was his track of that year - 2008. That was an amazing feeling!

What music are you listening to in your free time?

Henry: I still love Italo Disco, some 80's and 90's dance stuff and some 'newer' Bands like Coldplay or Snow Patrol. I'm more into tracks than into artists when it comes to electronic music.

Matthi: I like the 80's and Italo sound too. I'm also a big fan of Yello, Art Of Noise and KLF from the past days. Today i keep an eye on the work of Paul Kalkbrenner and Jon Hopkins. Back in 2001 we were inspired by Dennis Waakop Reijers, who produced most of the tracks for Tiesto and we still love what Mauro Picotto did and still does.

You’ve worked with some of the industry's biggest labels and musicians…Can the scene be as brutal or unfair as often claimed it to be?

The music business is a business like any other business. If you have good connections, some money and some talent (whatever that means) you can make it in the business. Brutal or unfair... hard to say but you should know who is running the label or the company you want to work with. They are looking for their own advantage and business and you are just a part of the plan, right at the moment you sign. You work for that company now, even if it's only for one track. You have to know that this track is there to push the company in the first place and not to make you happy as an artist. It is in your own hands to push your career. A label or the bigger artist behind it is doing the best for the label or his own business and he's using your track and your name to keep the brand up and running. Do the same thing and work for your own name and take anything you can get for your own profit. We are sure that any 'super stars', DJs, artists, brands or whatever, wouldn't be on top without using elbows. Call it brutal of unfair, anyway, maybe you would do the same if you had the big chance to grow your own career.

Is Spotify and streaming services the solution for music?

It's no solution to find the cheapest way for the listener to consume music. Spotify statements are good for the very big labels and names with billions of streams and has a very, very small portion for all the 8 million other artists. If you like a track – buy it instead of streaming it or ripping it off Youtube, buy tickets not only for the biggest festivals but also for smaller shows of 'smaller' artists, buy merch, like, share and comment (not only on posts by the biggest names), you can also watch live-sets on Twitch and tip the DJ if you enjoy his/her work... it's dead easy to support good artists.

What makes Trance music special for you?

There is a lot of diversity in Trance music. Trance can be uplifting, sometimes more deep, sometimes more melodic, sometimes more progressive and sometimes more techno and sometimes more... whatever makes you falling in trance. As we said, trance is more a feeling than a genre, at least for us.

Trance is now around 30 years old. If it’s going to continue for another one, two or three more decades what might that look like?

Everything has to change and evolve all the time. Whether it's computers, cars, mobile phones and also music. We also live in a world driven by algorithms. The shorter the tracks the bigger the chance to get into the big playlists. You see it on TikTok, Spotify etc. If you are at a festival you always see that people are waiting for the next drop, with smartphones in their hands just to film the drop. Actual Trance music is different and it's not following this path. To fall in trance needs time, just let yourself go during a DJ- or live set. Most people don't know this feeling or forgot how to enjoy music. They just wait for that one moment to catch it on video and totally forget to close their eyes and to fall into an amazing feeling when they dance. A 'trance' oriented track needs space to breath but most labels ask for shorter versions because Spotify is picking tracks under 4 minutes length. Then you have the chance to get into an 'important' playlist. That is not the way to make people fall in trance again.

The Trance scene, hopefully, will be filled with music lovers in the future. And we hopefully go back to smaller clubs where people enjoy longer Dj- or live sets (more than 1hr), where they are keen for 11 minutes tracks and just come to dance and not only to be seen with 'big' names. But we are just dreaming...maybe it will stay a dream and the crowd is just there to be part of the 'Who has the biggest crowd?' contest. Let's see what the future brings and let's hope that some of the producers, artists and labels don't give a f*ck about Spotify algorithms and robots who dictate them which length their tracks have to be. But again: it is in everyone's hand to support the scene by supporting artists and clubs.

What’s the best Party you’ve ever been too?

We had lot of good parties in our career. To pick one as the 'best ever' is almost impossible. But you ask and we try to answer here: From the size, of course Tomorrowland, Creamfields, Mayday, Nature One, Zurich Streetparade, Love Parade - Afterparty, WEMF Montreal, Asot, Dreamstate... That amount of people is impressing and you will never forget this feeling. But the real cool parties we've had were mostly in clubs and more than two hours playtime like Trance Room @ UniClub Buenos Aires or longer sets we've played in Adelaide, Australia or Pasha New York. We also have some great memories of our sets at Ministry of Sound London, Avalon LA, Avalon Singapore, Exchange LA, 1015 San Francisco... We are really thankful for having the chance to play such places with our music!

You’re sent to a desert Island and can take one Trance compilation and one Trance label’s discography, what do you choose?

Compilation: In Search Of Sunrise (only the ones mixed by Tiesto). Label: Bonzai

Who's your most missed producer from the scene?

We miss the ones who passed away, whether they were ill or died in an accident like Markus Löffel (Jam & Spoon) or Torsten Fenslau (not really a trancer but electronic music producer). We know that everyone is talking about how great it would be if Tiesto came back to the Trance scene. But Tiesto is, and always has been, a brand. Trance music was big, back in the days, and after some years Tijes wasn't into Trance anymore as Trance got back to a niche music. He did the best for his brand and he still is one of the biggest names in the game. If he'd go back and Dennis Waakop would start producing for the Tiesto project again... we are not sure if it would be the 'rescue' of the scene. The scene has many great producers and DJs. And again, it depends on the people to keep the scene alive by supporting artists and clubs (we can't say that often enough).

If you were to submit 10 tracks for a Top 100 Trance tracks of all time, what would they be?

  • LSG – Hearts
  • LSG – Netherworld (Oliver Prime Remix)
  • Humate – Love Stimulation (Club Mix)
  • Three Drives – Carrera 2 (Original)
  • Cosmic Baby – Loops Of Infinity (Original)
  • Mark Clement – Berlin Last Station
  • Sven Väth – The Beauty And The Beast
  • Slam – Ghost Of Cirklon (Len Faki Remix)
  • Sasha – Xpander
  • Coast 2 Coast ft Armanda Jamison – Be With Me

Which one of you is Stoneface and which one of you is Terminal? :)

Stoneface: sometimes Matthi, sometimes Henry. Terminal: sometimes Henry, sometimes Matthi. And sometimes Matthi is Henry and the other way around. We don't care anymore. We are Henry & Matthi from music groups called Stoneface & Terminal, Gundamea and who knows, maybe one of your favorite tracks is written and produced by Henry & Matthi ;)



And thats a wrap. Thanks again to Stoneface & Terminal for their time :)
 

Exodom

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Amazing guys!!! They have been a huge influence for me when getting into Trance and I’ve seen them play 5 times in my life. Thanks for doing these interviews I love to read them but this one in particular is the best for me. I’d like to hear more from the bigger or uplifting Trance guys if you can get them, like Solarstone, Will Atkinson, Factor B, John O Callaghan. Even Aly & Fila, to get some difficult questions in.
 
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jetflag

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great too see these legends on trancefix. class interview ✌️
 
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IXM

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Thanks for the interview. I will admit to the scouts that so far I have not had the opportunity to delve into your music. Although your brand is always known to me. I do my homework and I will be happy to know what you wanted to tell us, I love emotions in music. I wish you good luck and further success. Music comes back after years. 15-minute trance will also come back. then you will drink the cream of good luck!


thank you especially for the advice for young artists, very full-bodied and honest material, respect
 
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Hensmon

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So the labels are asking for 4 minute tracks so they can work on Spotify

Yeah its bad isn't it. Even having to chase certain playlists. Thats almost more important than compilations now I guess. Still unsure if Spotify has been good for music overall, feels like it has been detrimental to scene health.
 
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Bobby Summa

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Fabulous and inspirational.
Thank you Hensmon 🫶

Thought:

Do what the labels want. ( but be part of a collective maybe trancefix is a collective) do 4 min spotify tracks.
At the right moment when members of that collective have a name and presence. Create a platform enthused by the love of long trance tracks both for ‘good’ big ish names, the collective and up and coming artists and young un heard of producers. Do a donate per track billing service. - have involvement with djs with how they can spread the vibe of ‘actual’ trance.
To summarise

Do the Spotify thing.

Get a name.

Reveal collective. ( people will say, wow all those great artists are part of this thing , a movement.

Create platform.

Help others.
Ideal result: Propper trance starts reaching the masses again.

“For a dream to come true, first you have to have a dream”

I got over harsh mental illness because i never gave up hope.
🫶. And never stopped dreaming.
 
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Bobby Summa

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Had that request a couple of times. I flat out refuse, they can chop up their own 4 minute version if they must.

In fact: next original track i'm making will be 20 minutes long, because F you, thats why
Had that request a couple of times. I flat out refuse, they can chop up their own 4 minute version if they must.

In fact: next original track i'm making will be 20 minutes long, because F you, thats why
Thats a good statement to refuse actually , and i expect more useful for trance than my idea i posted in this thread. Just today a Spotify playlist that Spotify has made for me ( without permission 😂) was looking good until i played it an all deep trance / house tracks like Ben Bohmer were 4 mins. Since joining this forum i have had more confidence in my own music and yeh i could write a 4 minute track. But be resentful if it means cutting it well short and basically not having the necessary’Tranced’ affect/effect. So must be labels wanting to get more plays or appealing to some kinda audiences. I know a musician who doesnt listen to Spotify as he disagrees so much. I do listen but its on subscription and i also subscription to YouTube premium, but I doubt the £25 paid each month goes to the right places. Ie. Artists. A bit like the health sector i work for. Crushingly underpaid, and no matter what people say. It adds to a feeling of being under valued. Same with producers who release tracks with big labels i expect.
 
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Tievb21

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Great interview! I really like them, have supported their tracks and imo they have become big name in the scene, their tracks have an impact in every compilation they're part of, played in every radio show etc. Congrats.
 

Juna

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I like the interview, very good. Could you try and get psy guys, maybe Astral Projection or Man of no Name? Thanks.
 

Dmoore

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Great interview. They're still going strong in my view, good to get a little insight into their lives and production process.