Hello to you all once again from the plane. It is an early Thursday morning and I am on my way to Dubai for a gig at The Lodge. A massive weekend awaits all of us, but first, I want to get you all caught up on my Easter weekend in London, Chicago and Montreal.
Friday April 10th – London
I got into London pretty early on Friday morning. After checking in to my hotel, answering a few emails and getting the blog finalised for you guys, I slept the morning and afternoon away, and didn’t get up until around 6pm! I went out to try and find something to eat, but because it was Good Friday, most of the shops were closed. As a result, I had to have a guilty Kentucky Fried Chicken as my meal for the day. Once I got fed and watered, I started working on a couple of edits to play at Ministry of Sound later that night.
One of the tracks I worked on was Sander van Dien – Aurora. I love the melody in that tune, so I played around with it a bit so that you could hear the melody throughout the majority of the track, not just in the break. When I am asked in an interview about why people regard my sets and sound as being unique, one of the things that I always stress is that you have to personalise your set in every way possible. I guess a lot of you probably wonder how I typically spend my time in a hotel before getting picked up for a gig – the answer is that I constantly work – tweak a few tracks here and there, plan and program the beginning of my set, and have as many options as possible depending on the energy and mood of the crowd in the club.
I got picked up at around 12:30am to get to Ministry. I was playing a 3 hour set from 1:30-4:30. As I walked into the main room, I could feel a real intense heat coming from the dancefloor and the DJ booth. Gareth Emery was doing a great job with his set, playing some cool groovy tunes such as Smile When You Kill Me, Unprepared and his own track Exposure.
To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about Friday night, because it was a holiday weekend and I was worried that the crowd might have been a little thin as a result. But they were plentiful and really up for it. I started off a little deep with a couple of Dakota tracks and my edit of Aurora. The crowd went crazy though when I played Red, Dressed in White and Biscayne, which in particular has been one of the constant anthems throughout the first year of my residency.
The 3 hours flew by, but I have to admit that when I was done, I felt worn out and very tired. I don’t know if it was the heat in the room or the overnight flight that caught up with me, but I was feeling it at the end of the night. The crowd were great though, another chapter of the residency in the books, and one that I was happy with. I welcomed former Gatecrasher resident Matt Hardwick to the decks as I was finishing up, and after hanging out backstage with a few good friends, I went back to my hotel and started working again. There was no point in trying to sleep, because I was getting picked up at 9:15 to get taken to the airport. So I grabbed some breakfast, worked some more, and headed off to the airport for my flight to Chicago.
Saturday April 11th – Chicago
It probably didn’t take a genius to work out that I slept for the entire flight from London to Chicago. I got a good rest though and was raring to go for Saturday night at Vision. It’s a really amazing club with a unique layout. If you have ever seen pictures of the club, people are lined up on the balcony that runs for the entire perimeter of the dancefloor, so if you are looking up or looking down, you can see people dancing and cheering. It has always been one of my favorite clubs and cities to play.
Having debuted Chinook on Global DJ Broadcast last Thursday, everyone was anticipating hearing it coming in. I waited for just the right time to drop and it and set the room off! I have been playing it in my live sets for about 2 months now, but Saturday night was by far the loudest reaction I heard when playing it. Chinook is going to be the first track released from the Dakota album, with three mixes all done by myself – the original, an Afterhours mix, and an Uplifting mix. I’ll let you know the release date of the track as soon as I get confirmation from Armada.
The crowd were absolutely incredible at Vision, they always are. I love how welcoming their support is. I treated Saturday night as a test run to see if we could do a successful World Tour stop for Chicago in the future, and I think that everyone there will be delighted to hear, that they passed the test. It probably won’t happen this year, but Vision and Chicago are definitely pencilled in for a future World Tour destination.
Before drifting off to sleep on Saturday night, I was able to reflect on two really strong gigs. But I knew that the main event of the weekend was still to come.
Sunday April 12th – Montreal
The big day had arrived, the 15th edition of Bal en Blanc, and my first. A 15 hour party for a crowd of over 15,000 people. I was excited. Once I got checked in, I got straight to work again. Because I was playing for such a large crowd, I wanted to throw in a couple of slightly older tunes that I knew from previous experience were perfect for stadium sized audiences. One of the tunes I dug up was Dave202 – Generate The Wave. This was a huge tune in my festival sets in summer 2006, and also in my set at Trance Energy 2007 so I thought bringing it back to play at my first BEB would be a massive moment.
I got picked up and taken to the arena and it was already packed. I mingled backstage a bit but my focus was entirely on the 3 hour set that lay ahead. I built the set up slowly, and the crowd became louder and louder as the set went on. I have to tell you guys, standing in that booth seeing a sea of white is one of the most breathtaking sights you will ever see as a DJ. Between that and the visuals, you sometimes have to snap your fingers and remind yourself that you have a job to do and you have to perform!
At the end of the set, it was time to perform the anthem live, with singers and all. I had never done anything like this before, so it was definitely an interesting experience. When I was approached with a view to doing the remix, I immediately fell in love with the riff. I knew that there was a Coldharbour element in there that could be expoited. The theme probably got the biggest cheer of the night. For me, it was also the moment where I felt relief, because my work for the weekend was done.
After my set was over, I split my time in the house room checking out Offer Nissim, and the trance room listening to Jono and Paavo from Above & Beyond. After doing a couple of interviews, the rest of the night was a bit of a blur. I was not able to stay and listen to Armin’s set because I had an early flight back to Miami, but I knew that I would be seeing him next week in Birmingham for ASOT 400. I was able to get an hour of rest before heading to the airport and a flight back home for a few short days in Miami.
Back in the Studio and remixing Cosmic Gate
One of my goals for the gigs last weekend was to test out the new remix I mentioned in the blog that week that I had been working on. As you all know, the guys from Cosmic Gate stopped by the house during Winter Music Conference week. I love their Sign of the Times track from their artist album of the same name, so I asked them if I could maybe get the parts from them and have a go at remixing it. I played the remix in all 3 of my sets this past weekend, and it got pretty solid reactions each time. But this week I spent some time in the studio tweaking a few things to get it finalised.
I’m officially going to debut the remix for radio during my set in Birmingham on Friday night, so keep an ear out for it.
A State Of Trance Episode 400
There is another huge weekend in store for yours truly. On Friday, I am back in England again, but on this occasion in Birmingham, to play at Godskitchen for Armin’s A State Of Trance episode 400 celebrations. I’m very proud to have been asked again to participate in the live event for the third straight year running. Most of you will already know how far Armin and I go back, not just professionally, but personally too. We have always tried to help each other out at every opportunity – whether it is recommending the tunes that were doing the best business in our live sets or the ones that were getting the best responses on A State Of Trance or Global DJ Broadcast.
We had a lot of fun doing the special shows together back in 2003 and 2004. In November 2003, I flew to Amsterdam and did one of his XXL episodes live in the ID-T studios. Then in October 2004, Armin and I were playing at a Godskitchen event at ICE in Las Vegas. We recorded the entire night and flew back to the Coldharbour studios in Miami, and did a crossover episode, where we co-hosted A State Of Trance and Global DJ Broadcast together in the same week.
Nowadays, we don’t get to see each other as often anymore because our respective tour schedules usually take us to opposite sides of the world at the same time, but on Friday night we’ll definitely be sharing a champagne toast and talking about these nights in the studios.
Air in Birmingham has some pretty special memories for me too. Back in June 2005, long before the GDJB World Tour concept came around, I recorded a set from there to air on the show the following Thursday. Back in the early years of Global DJ Broadcast, I used to record a lot of my North American sets, but this was the first recording I did overseas – and the first that included live crowd noise. There are a lot of people who I see at my gigs and they mention about how that set in particular was the one that made them a believer in the Coldharbour sound. So I guess you could say that the seeds for the World Tour were sewn within the walls of that club. I haven’t been back there for a little while due to my residency commitments with The Gallery at Ministry of Sound, but I’m really looking forward to it.
Global DJ Broadcast: World Tour – Wroclaw
If Friday wasn’t big enough already, Saturday is on an equal par in terms of importance. I make my return to Poland this weekend to perform at the Godskitchen event taking place at Centennial Hall in Wroclaw. Over the past couple of years, Poland has almost become the mecca of trance music, with so many fans and more and more big arena events taking place. Since the inception of the World Tour, I always wanted to cover Poland because of how passionate my fanbase is in the country, but the unfortunate thing was that there weren’t too many big events that took place in the country’s marquee cities. But now, the time is right to make it happen.
So if you are going to Centennial Hall on Saturday night, I challenge you all to make it the loudest World Tour recording yet. You have tough competition already this year from Athens and Melbourne, but I hope that Poland can show the world that despite it being a small country and relatively new in terms of DJs and producers originating from there, that it stands up there as one of the absolute best.
And with that, I must wrap up for this week. Time to get to work on another important weekend, with 4 gigs in 4 days. Dubai, Birmingham, Wroclaw and Nicosia. However, I am staying in Cyprus for an extra day before I go back to Miami, so I think I’ll try to make it out to the beach to unwind a bit.
It’s a hugely important weekend, but I’m going to make sure I enjoy it as much as possible. I hope you all enjoy yours, and I hope that you can tune in for my set live on A State Of Trance 400 this Friday night, beginning at 10pm EST / 3am UK / 4am CET, and join the guys over at the forums for the live tracklist and discussion.