Trancefix Interview - Allende

Hensmon

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Allende: Trancefix Interview

[18.10.2020]

We're pleased to have talented Finnish producer Allende aka Anssi Hohti for our first official Trancefix interview on the new platform. Hope you enjoy reading as much as we enjoyed asking the questions.

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Hi Anssi! So despite everything that 2020 is throwing at us, how has your year been so far? Are you in a good place creatively?

Yeah all things considered it's been a pretty good year for me. I just became a father few months ago, so in that sense 2020 will always have a positive memory for me. And since I don't do dj gigs, I haven't been as affected by the pandemic as some of the other producers/DJs. Creatively I think I'm in a good place, things are moving forward, sometimes I'm even a bit overwhelmed with all the new ideas and techniques I'm coming up with that I forget to focus on the actual music and get tracks completed.


Congratulations on fatherhood! You now have some wonderful new inspiration to draw from in your life. Have the new ideas and techniques you've been exploring still sit within the realm of Trance music, or are there other musical influences and avenues you working on?

I do compose all kinds of music in various genres, soundtrack music, hiphop beats, different EDM sub-genres, but the main focus is still on melodic, harmonic, atmospheric, synthesizer heavy, electronic dance music however people want to label the end product. The influences are mostly other than trance at this point. Trance right now isn't really the most groundbreaking and the current (popular/dominant) sound isn't really what I look for in trance. It seems most of it is done with big arenas and festivals in mind. For my taste I feel it has lost a bit of it's intricacy and sophistication. It also seems like the "template business" has hit trance the hardest from all the EDM genres.


Solarstone has seemed to be quite supportive of your music in regards to releasing your more unconventional release like Motions, Mosaic and Simpler Times. How was the response to these tracks and what’s the relationship like for an artist working with Rich’s label in particular? I feel like he is doing some really good things for the scene right now

To be honest the overall response for those tracks has been pretty underwhelming, but it's not like my other tracks are getting much hype and play time by big name DJs either, so I might just as well do what I do. My most popular tracks are probably False Memory and Essence, which are both relatively straight-forward in arrangement.

Working with Rich and Pure Trance is great. Everything is handled super casual, yet at the same, when needed the most professional and transparent way of doing business I've experienced. The only real problem (in good and bad really) is that Rich insists doing most of the work himself, so the combination of being a successful prolific artist / hard-working DJ and a label A&R (who probably gets hundreds of demos daily), he can be a little hard to reach every now and then. But musically I feel blessed to be a part of the label. He has just the right amount of artistic direction and criticism, so he doesn't just release all the crap I put out, but at the same time is willing to take some risks with more unique compositions. I also feel we have a somewhat similar taste when it comes to trance, so that helps. Ultimately I'd like to experiment way more combining different genres as well a tempo, time signature and key changes, so we'll probably see where the line for experimentalism is.


That leads me nicely onto a question I wanted to ask about the alternative ways of releasing your music, for example on platforms like bandcamp, which remove labels (somewhat) from the process. I know you released the incredible ‘Forgotten’ tracks on here, which were extremely popular on our forum. Do platforms like this offer a valid solution for releasing under-the-radar Trance or your more experimental/multi- genre material, without the constraints (and fees) that releasing through labels bring?

Yeah absolutely, but it's gonna take a lot more work to get people to hear them. While you don't really need labels anymore with all the free distribution services and sites like Bandcamp, the promotion and visibility labels provide with their already established fanbase and followers is still very valuable. Forgotten was a pretty successful experiment, but I think it had a lot to do with the track being more of a throwback sound and something that wasn't being released anymore. Had I released a more modern production, I think it would have flown under the radar. And it really didn't get much attention outside Trancefix, no DJ supported it and the Spotify/Youtube/Soundcloud plays are quite low. So you can make it work independently, but you really need to have quality music and know how to promote it. What I love about Bandcamp though is that it has set me free from that awful demo submission cycle, where I'd spend months sending demos hoping at least someone would pick my track up. Now I just sent them to Pure Trance / Black Hole, and if they don't want it I just put it out myself.


Those two labels seem like natural places for you to release your music, but the fact it's only two places shows the current limitations the Trance scene can be dealing with. Anjunabeats seems to be releasing more Trance orientated music again and even some oldskool sounding breakbeats. Perhaps a sign of a shift? Have you ever approached them?

I was a big Anjunabeats fan back in the day, the 2001 Uplifting era and the 2005 Anjunadeep era. Their style has evolved a bit out of my taste and I haven't been paying that much attention to their releases. I was pleasantly surprised by those Trance Wax tracks though. I did send them demos years ago, but it was mostly just a poor imitation of something they already had or something that really wasn't their thing at that time. As long as Pure Trance (or other Black Hole labels) keep releasing my tracks, I really have no interest releasing elsewhere. I really just need to focus on getting better and writing better songs instead of what label releases them.


What music you are currently working on and what releases we can look forward to seeing from you in the rest of 2020.

My next release is the full version of "Fate" that was featured on the Pure Progressive vol.1 compilation. And I have a new track called "Evenfall" out now on the new VII vol.2 compilation (also mixed by Orkidea). I also might have something for the next Solarstone compilation coming later this year.


Great to read. I think getting tracks featured on compilations is quite an honour and achievement, as usually a lot of thought and time goes into making them special, so congrats on getting onto 3! I was certainly surprised to see an Orkidea mix on VII. Is the next Solarstone compilation you referenced Pure Trance Vol 8?

Thanks! Nothing is sure yet and I can't comment on the Solarstone compilation more than that. But since he's released an annual compilation 9 years in a row, I don't think it's a major spoiler to say he might be releasing one this year as well.


What music do you find yourself listening to for inspiration when making tracks, and what music do you generally listen to in your free time?

I'm a big record collector and a huge music fan in general. I got everything from late 50's jazz to modern metal. Right now I'm mostly listening to progressive rock and metal, which really inspires me with arrangements and song writing. It can sometimes be hard to to adapt those ideas into dance music though. From electronic music I'm mostly listening to old vintage stuff right now, like Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre, and I try to listen most Pure Trance releases if I can. I also listen to a lot of film music, with or without the movie. Danny Elfman is probably my favourite composer, but I also find a lot of the electronic stuff very inspirational.


Any Progressive Rock artists or tracks to recommend?


Sure! I'm currently very much into "Camel", their first 5 albums are all great with "
Moonmadness" being probably my favourite. Big "Yes" fan as well, amazing musicianship, long intricate compositions, unusual time signatures, unusual scales and sometimes even chaotic riffs and themes, that provide a nice contrast to the more harmonic parts that eventually follow. "Renaissance" is another band I'm just getting into. The rare female vocals in progressive rock genre. A bit on the popish side at times, but bunch of beautiful melodies. And then ofcourse all the usual Pink Floyd, Genesis, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Kansas. From the more modern stuff it's mostly progressive metal.


What is your production set-up for making music, and do you have a particular or go to process when developing a track?

I have hybrid set up, couple of hardware synthesizers and guitars combined with the software. I try to make sure each track has some sort of special idea or a melody, whenever I get an idea I either sketch it out right away in the daw or write down my idea somewhere. I have hundreds of ideas written down in notebooks and text files, and I wonder if even 10% of those ever get used (or is worth using). I also try to separate the creative process (of coming up with ideas and writing melodies) and the mixing/ arrangement/polishing phase. I try to do something every day, so even if I don't really feel inspired, there's plenty of mixing and arrangement work to do.


Interesting...as someone who has never produced music I am curious as to how musical or production ideas can be written onto paper and then translated back into music?

They are mostly just simple things like: Make a track using a specific mode or scale, just chords I come up with messing with the guitar or maybe even just a title that in itself represents a certain mood or style. For instance my track "Simpler Times" would have something like "Trance with a 90's rave middle part; breakbeats, Korg M1 pianos; FM bass"


Who inspired you into Trance music when you were growing up and what makes Trance music special for you?

For me it's the melodies, harmonies, atmosphere and layers of synthesizers that intrigue me the most in trance. I think it's a perfect genre to express instrumental synthesizer music. When I was a kid I was a huge Pet Shop Boys fan (I still am) and I remember loving all those Greatest Synthesizer Hits albums (bought back all of them few years ago), so that was my first introduction synthesizer/electronic music. Then I kinda got lost into other genres for a while, until the late 90's I found tracker music which sparked my love for electronic music big time. Among all the incredible demo-scene/game music in the tracker scene, bunch of people were also doing covers and remixes of trance tracks, which eventually introduced me to the originals. But the biggest influence for me getting into the more sophisticated and hypnotic trance music was Orkidea. He hosted a radio show in Finnish national radio around late 90's to early 00's, that was huge in Finnish dance music scene. I think he has single handedly shaped the style and taste of most Finnish trance producers with his DJ sets.


Can you remember what that radio show was called?

I think it started out as just "Tiistain Tanssi-ilta" which translates to "Thursday's Dance Evening", I think another name that was used was "Radio Unity", which Orkidea re- launched as an online radio show some years later (on Ah.fm if I'm not mistaken). Someone probably has all of those shows recorded, but all I can find is this
tracklist archive, and this soundcloud playlist (which not only have some of the newer Radio Unity shows but also couple of the older ones). I think you guys really should interview Orkidea to fill in the gaps!


Do you feel there is a particular Finnish style or sound of Trance that can be defined?

The sound that Solarstone calls Finnish trance I think is that Orkidea sound, which is semi-progressive, melancholic and pretty atmospheric. Gated pads and vocals, emphasis on 16th notes, or at least that's how I see it. I'm personally a big fan of the aeolian mode and most of my melodies start and end with a minor chord. But on the other hand the biggest Finnish artists like Super8 & Tab, Tempo Giusto etc don't really sound anything like that, so I don't know.


This year we had a discussion in our forum about the 'Trance Tracks of the Decade', with a lot of different suggestions and styles. What tracks would you personally consider as potential contenders?

The best Trance of the last decade is hard as I haven't really thought about it before. I'm probably forgetting a ton but here's a few favourites:

Bart Claessen - Elf (All Mixes) (2010)
Michael Cassette - Crockett's Theme (2010) Solarstone - Nothing But Chemistry Here (2014)
Eric Prydz - Opus (2016)
Solarstone & Orkidea - Slowmotion (I-V) (2010-2019)
Orkidea - Revolution Industrielle (2015)
The Thrillseekers pres. Hydra - Amber (2016)
David Broaders - Rumspringa (2018)
Mike Saint-Jules - Parachuting (Original + Vast Vision Remix) (2018/2019) Astrosphere - What Lies Between the Stars (2018)
Maor Levi - Disconnect (2019)



And for our final question (another tough one)...What are your top tracks of all time?

My all time list is also ever changing, but here's 20 amazing tracks:

Way Out West - Domination
Way Out West - Intensify
Leama - Labrynth (Orkidea Remix) Paragliders - Paraglide (Humate Remix) Deepsky - Stargazer
Paul van Dyk - Forbidden Fruit
Solarstone - Seven Cities
Saints & Sinners - Peace (Humate Remix)
Salt Tank - Eugina
Goldenscan - Sunrise (Tiesto Mix)
Joker Jam - Innocence
Slusnik Luna - Sun
Three Drives - Sunset On Ibiza (Above & Beyond Remix) Ralphie B - Massive
Midway - Monkey Forest
Mark Otten - Tranquility
Cosmicman - I Love You
Aalto - Rush (Super 8 vs. Orkidea Mix)
Paul Oakenfold - Southern Sun (Tiesto Mix)
Jonas Steur - Castamara



Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us @allende. Look forward to those upcoming releases and for all the future great music from yourself. See you in the forum!
 
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Gagi

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Great guy, seems so down to Earth, with artistic integrity and loving what he's doing. And it shows! His tracks these years were just beyond brilliant, some of the best from recent years. Enjoyed reading this, great job Hens!
 
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Manofearth

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That was enjoyable read, thanks. Didnt know the Forgotten track, the 99 Returning Mix is a really good one.
 
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