For the last decade Lange has been at the forefront of the Trance scene, making him one of the most influentials artists in the genre. Ahead of the release of his third studio album we thought we'd catch up with him to find out more about the project.
It’s great to be speaking with you. Can you tell the readers where you are in the world today and what you’ve been up to over the last 7 days?
You too, a pleasure! I'm in Manila, having just played at the Cream Halloween Ball here. What a night! Apparently this was the biggest EDM event in Manila to date. Before heading here I've spent much of my week doing press interviews, album promo and catching up with a lot of stuff I had to let go of while I was finishing my new album. I'm itching to get back in the studio already after a couple of weeks away from it.
Your 3rd studio album ‘We Are Lucky People’ drops on November 18th can you tell us about the concept and the work that went into this 2 disc, 25 track album?
It all started 1 year ago when I made the single 'We Are Lucky People'. I decided I'd found the direction I wanted to go in for my 3rd album and was ready to take on the challenge. I wanted to try something new though; rather than simply hide away for the best part of a year I thought it would be cool to release singles the moment I make them, literally sharing the writing of the album as it happened. The idea was to then take all the music I've made through the year and give tracks a twist and make a flowing album with some more soundtrack-style, deeper elements throughout, which is what I've done on CD1. Basically it's a kind of 'concept' album with themes and melodies running throughout – there's some chill out but still much of it is EDM/Trance. I've also included a bonus disc, which is the complete collection of all the original club mixes I've made. Obviously I wanted to save some new exclusive tracks for the album so the writing became really intense towards the end and I notched up an extra 4 unheard tracks. They'll all be singles but you can get them on the album first!
So the album contains a large amount of reworked material with four new pieces. Why did you decide to go down this route? Did you feel you had unfinished business with these tracks or did you just want to take a different approach?
It was the plan from the start. Usually around 3 singles are released before an album and then a few more after the album release. I wanted this album to contain only singles - there are no filler tracks. I wanted to make an album you can listen to from start to finish with every track feeling it should be there. A proper album! I think this was easier to achieve with having written most of the club mixes through the year. It gave me the chance, now that I know the music so well, to revisit them all and make them feel a part of the whole project. I didn't feel there was unfinished business with the tracks although that said I wanted to bring out more of the beauty of Susana's vocal on 'Risk Worth Taking' after I'd completed the single. The album version is a much more laid back chillout mix to do just that.
You worked with lots of vocal artists on this project including Susana and Cate Kanell. What sort of role do you play in the studio when it comes to laying down vocals and have you got any tips for our readers?
This really varies, and I have to say more times than not, I'm sent vocals these days. I enjoy recording vocals in the studio but it doesn't bother me if the vocals are recorded elsewhere. Many of the vocalists I work with are recording their own or have a local studio they use. In any case, I spend a lot of time editing and treating vocals to give them the sound I'm after. Regarding the processing of vocals, my tip would be spend a lot of time making the vocals as accurate as possible, lining up backing vocals so they start and finish exactly with the lead. Also I tend to cut out many, or lower levels of the breath noises. If you're heavily compressing vocals this is essential. Melodyne is the most natural sounding tuning software and good for tidying vocals up and creating additional harmonies etc.
You’ve been at the forefront of the trance scene for the best part of 15 years, what major changes have you seen and has anything affected you?
When I first got started Trance was about to take the UK & rest of Europe by storm, since then the scene in Europe has had it's ups and downs, but also in this time the scene has spread globally, with the USA currently in the grips of an EDM explosion. Musically, the technology has opened up what's possible, and when you compare the sound quality today with that of 15 years ago there's a big difference. The industry side of it has seen some major changes too. Record sales are a fraction of what they were back in the late 90's. In recent times the genre walls have started to fall with house artists making much more epic tracks, many incorporating a lot of trance elements. Likewise Trance artists have taken influence from house and electro...it's all merging.
The EDM tag has become a big part of the music scene, where do you think trance music stands in all this?
Trance is very much a healthy scene. It's just not the current leading one, with big room/commercial house blowing up in the USA. That's kind of been labeled 'EDM', which has become a bit of a derogatory term for some people now! As I just touched on, the genres are more fluid these days. Although what exactly falls into the trance category is often debated, for me what sets apart a Trance track from a typical house track is it's emotive melodies, and more underground elements – it feels genuine, and you can feel a strong connection with the crowd when you're playing trance. People who write 'real' trance music aren't trying to jump on any commercial bandwagon with their sound and so I think you can be less tarnished by the current trends. I call myself a trance DJ but will play some tracks on the fringes of the genre. I've always been of the opinion that it's too one-dimensional to play only trance and it's always fun to drop in the odd curveball in a set. I have a similar outlook production-wise too, getting bored if I sit still for too long.
What’s your current studio set up? Has if grown over the years or has become more condensed?
My studio is very minimal now, it's all based around an iMac and I don't use hardware. It's so much easier to work on multiple projects now. Gone are the days of saving all the synths data and writing down all those mixer settings. Press Save and it's all there in one file – this is essential these days, with all the touring, studio time is precious and I need to flick between projects. That said I do kind of miss playing with all the hardware and the fact today's software can pretty much do anything can sometimes be overwhelming.
You’re album is of course being released on your label Lange Recordings. What else is going on with the label right now?
The label is now home to a number of great inventive artists such as Noah Neiman, Johnny Yono, Mateusz, and Tangle from the US, Stephen Kirkwood. Lee Osborne, and Rikkaz from the UK, and Lele Troniq from Italy. They show the diversity of what we're releasing on the label, from the more progressive through to Tech, and harder styles of Trance. There are no style rules as such. I'm still at the helm, heading up A&R and ultimately If, I'm into the track and feel I can get behind it fully, I'll look to put it out on the label. Over the past couple of years the label has expanded somewhat with our cooperation with Enhanced Music who handle much of the backend and distribution and also I have A&R assistance from Stephen Kirkwood. My new artist album is the first I've released solely on Lange Recordings, so that's been a key achievement for us as well as getting 2 music videos featured on MTV last year!
I’m sure all our aspiring trance producers reading this are dying to know how to get your attention. Is there anything in particular that you look out for when scouting for new talent?
I think the scene has suffered quite a bit recently with the amount of music being released at an all time high and a lot of it sounding the same. I look out for tracks with that different edge or some kind of twist and prefer music that avoids using some of the cliché techniques & effects many of us are getting bored of now. Got a track? Hit me with it! Demos [at] langerecordings [dot] com. ;)
What does the future hold for Lange?
It's been a return to an emphasis on melody this year for me. I feel the more melodic tracks resonate stronger with people, and they're more satisfying to write too, so I'm looking to continue along my current musical path. But I'm also thinking about some new directions for next year, perhaps for a side project. In the meantime there are still a number of singles to come from the album including a new one with Betsie Larkin. Also, my Intercity radio show celebrates 150 episodes this month and I have something big planned for that; - A 24 hour Live broadcast featuring mixes from the scenes finest Djs. Wait till you see the lineup! Intercity 150 falls in the same week as my album release so it's going to be an epic week!
A big thank you to Lange for taking the time to speak with us. Lange's forthcoming album 'We Are Lucky People' drops on November 18th but is available to pre-order at Trackitdown now!
Lange's Top 10 Track Recommendations
This one's been out for a while, but it's staying put in my set lists for some time to come. It's quite a unique sounding tech-trancer, and it's infectious groove and deep sub bass has been destroying every dancefloor I've dropped it on. A dark sawing riff rises out of what originally starts as a delicate trance breakdown with some really nice elements and then the mayhem begins.
Mateusz, has released a lot of music as part of the duo 'Tangle & Mateusz', much of it on Lange Recordings. Now he's on a solo mission and this track is a thoughtful trancer which really get's under your skin and lifts a club in a clever subtle way. Mateusz has some great stuff coming up so listen out for this guy!
I featured this on my Ministry Of Sound Trance Nation compilation a few months ago and it get's a single release very soon. Rikkaz is a relatively new name to the scene and he's firing on all cylinders at the moment. 'The Great Migration' is built on a heavy driving rhythm and bass and it's big moment is when that melody makes an entrance in the breakdown. I dropped this at Tomorrowland, Global Gathering, and South West Four!
Generally, I play very little 'breaks' in my sets, but this mix by Refracture has made it onto my radio show as well as in my recent sets. The track paint's an ethereal mood and the payload at the end of each inspiring breakdown is very satisfying both in terms of power and dirtiness. This is exactly the kind of curveball I like to throw into my trance sets, a real gem.
I've been really excited with the feedback on this one. It's the latest single from my forthcoming 'We Are Lucky People' album. Cate, a vocalist based in Boston, has an incredibly ethereal quality to her voice. This is only her 2nd EDM track. Get ready to hear a lot more from Cate, including another track from us next year.
I harbour big respect for the production talents of Rafael, arguably one of the finest producers out there at the moment. 'Masada' is an action packed track stuffed full of moving melodies and drama, and even goes a little more prog house towards the end. That's what I love about Mr Frost's recent productions, including his new one 'Go!'; they're not predictable and there's plenty of attention to detail.
A mashup I made last year that frequently get's an outing In my sets. Fortunately Perfecto and Garuda gave me their blessing to make this one official as an exclusive on my Ministry Of Sound Trance Nation compilation over the summer. No single release is planned but it's available as part of that album.
One of my tips for the future, Alex has put out an array of really impressive material over the past year. I've released much of it on my label with tracks such as 'We are One' and 'Freedom Fighter' and now 'Leave Me Behind. Never afraid to push it that little bit further, Alex has created a monster here with a distorted 303 line causing the devastation.
I've been a fan of Coldharbour Recordings for a long time. The lethal combination of a great vocal, emotive chords and some big room power make this remix by label boss and Unicorn Slayer himself something special.
Chris has been putting out great stuff ever since we first heard him making waves with his unofficial take on 'Zombienation' a few years back. I think 'Now or Never' is arguably one of his best to date. Great melodies, loads of power and a bassline that would surely make the most stubborn of atoms move at Absolute Zero.