Find Out About Upcoming Tour Date[Click Here]Interview by: Alex Ostrovsky
Orjan Nilsen has been around the Trance circuit for quite a few laps. Over the years his sound has changed with the times and he seems quite happy with it. As he goes through new territory and is on the cusp of releasing a new album, we caught his Electric Zoo performance — one of the rare U.S. appearances for Orjan.
While this was his first Zoo performance, Orjan Nilsen was in no way a virgin to a midday set and his presence at Mainstage East brought new energy to the attendees who had just discovered the east stage existed. From his exclusive intro to dropping Xiing, no one kept the energy going like Orjan.
While there was a bit of a snafu and we did lose Orjan on the journey from the stage to the Media Tent. It was all quickly resolved via some very helpful PlexiPr staff members and he was discovered relaxing in the fortress of solitude aka the open bar. Orjan proceeded to clue us in on some interesting things including a hush-hush label that will be forming, how he views his music, and his favorite producers of the moment from across genres.
Voices from the Undrgrnd:
Undrgrnd Sound: What were your expectations of Electric Zoo, and have they been met?
Orjan Nilsen: Well, To be honest I didn’t know what to expect because it was my first time here. I was hoping there was going to be some fans.. I didn’t know it was going to be packed. That was pretty cool, especially since its so early… so it went far beyond my expectations, it was fantastic.
What did you think of the set up for the Main Stage East ? In the area of the top festivals, where would you place this one?
It’s fantastic! Its amazing. This was the first time in a long time we turned around to look at the visuals, and it looked amazing. I was really happy. Of course right now I’m kind of biased because New York has been fantastic. Right now, this summer number two is quite hard to beat [Tomorrowland] (laughs), but this was amazing.
New York tries to beat everybody! In regards to this summer, how has that been for you? How is the touring?
Yeah well.. it was amazing! Lovely people as well, the fans were so amazing, so its all good, its fantastic. Its been nonstop basically. I’ve been home for two days, washing clothes then going to another festival, like BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. Sometimes I have three festivals in a day.
Where are flying out after this?
I’m going to Vancouver tomorrow, Edmonton on Sunday. Then I’m going back home for a day before going to Berlin, and then I’m home for three days before going to Ibiza again.
So in that time period, and I’ve asked a lot of DJ’s and everyone of them goes, “I don’t know how!”, but how do you get your productions in?
Thats a very good question… Basically, I get SUPER inspired by going to festivals. Listening to other people play, not myself but other people, and listening to what works. When I get down to the studio, I can make a track quite fast because I know my way around the studio and of course that makes it much easier. The work flow always goes fast so I can finish maybe one or two tracks a day.
Do you do any production on the go? Like on a laptop here and there, or is everything in the studio?
Thats the thing.. I just cant. I need my comfort zone, I need my monitors, I need to hear the sound clearly. Just doing it on headphones and laptops is not for me.
How would you define your own sound? Your evolution has been interesting, do you see where you are going now?
Rhythmical. I like a good groove. Melodic, and I’m trying to combine the two, I’m trying to combine almost two or three worlds right now. I love the melodies of trance, I love the groove of house and I also love the progressiveness of techno. I have a little bit of a plan, we’ll see if it works out and if people like it.
Are you going to start producing Dubstep?
Probably not, I’m not much of a Dubstep fan, of course some elements are cool, but no in general it is not my kind of music.
Who do you think right now is innovating in your scene, besides yourself ?
(laughs) Well, I do love Dannic he does a good job. Hardwell obviously, Hardwell is cool Leon Bolier is good, but Mark Sixma is someone that is up and coming, I think people should watch him as well because he is doing a great job of combining the best of two worlds. Mark Sixma he is the one to watch out for!
Orjan Nilsen feat. Natalie Peris – Saint Out Of Me (Official Music Video)
Will you tell us a little bit about your new album, “No safer than me”? This weekend is when it came out correct?
Its basically a fusion of everything, its experiments and some of the old me. Yes, It came out today! It was a pretty special day for me, I woke up to a huge twitter explosion! That was pretty fun.
Do you handle all of your own social media? How does someone reach out to you by an app? I know of #TeamOrjan , so would you mind telling us a couple words behind that?
Yeah. Well on Facebook I have help. Twitter.. I’m a Twitter-Holic so I’m always on there. To be honest I cant quite remember who actually started it, I think it was a girl from Brazil or Argentina, who just started this “hashtag Team Orjan, “. And it just ended up being something that trended on twitter, so it was fantastic. If everybody tweets Team Orjan, I always have a search column with that on so I will see it.
Thats great. Do you get a lot of promo submissions? How is that like? When you start off you’re sending music out to everybody, and now you’re getting thousands and thousands of submissions, so what is that like?
Oh yeah. Im trying to listen to as much as possible. I also have a manager and a couple of friends who can help me listen to it. Lets face it, not everything is gold, which can easily be taken out of the bunch. But usually if theres a doubt, they’ll say you should listen to this one. I try to listen as much as possible.. its quite hard these days. Like i said I have a good team around me who help me sort out the gold.
Are there any personal plans to get bigger, like with a label of your own or anything like that? In 2014 maybe?
Well its funny that you ask.. there WILL be a label. I cant say when it comes, but its coming.I think actually a bit sooner than that as well. Its still quite a secret!
What was it like working with Adam Young?
That was amazing actually! He sent me and email, I think it was April or March last year saying he likes my tracks and he likes my style, wondering if I wanted to do something together, and I was like Yeah sure. When we started I had a demo , which I thought would suit him, and he loved it. I don’t think i’ve ever worked with anybody as professional as him when it comes to vocals, its fantastic. It was so fun to make, and it was so different from what i’m used to. It was a fantastic experience and I would love to work with him again.
Orjan Nilsen feat. Adam Young – In The Air
Is there anyone out there not in the EDM world, or maybe in the EDM world, but outside of that who you would like to work with? A dream collaboration ?
Yeah, theres a couple. I love Amy Lee, from Evanesence. I just love her voice its really strong and powerful and it just pierces through your ears, I love her. Actually , do you remember Aha? From Norway? Mortan Hutticit the lead singer, he has a very unique voice. I actually sent an email to his management so we’ll see what happens, that would be cool.
Do you see your current sound, and your current progression as the general direction of trance?
No. Thats the thing, its unpredictable. You never know which direction its going to go, so I can’t say Im going this or that way. Well see what happens.. I mean the scene changes constantly, which is good, because then it stops getting boring. So what the future will bring? I have no idea.
I think the future is going to bring a lot more music from you, hopefully with the artists on the label you’re making! So one of our workers is a producer as well, he wanted to find out La Guitarra? Will there be anymore re-imagines of that or anything like it?
No, I don’t want to. I didn’t even want remixes on it, in the first place. Its just something that happened before the release. Its a track that just means to much to me, so I don’t want to update it or screw it up.
Thats alright! A lot of artists like to keep their music their music.. When you finish a track do you ever feel like thats a personal accomplishment? Do you prefer it to be private?
I always send it for feedback to a few certain trustees. Their amount of guidance have been huge, they’re always so helpful and they always give really good feed back. I have a couple of producer friends too, W+W, William Bolinger, Marcus Solstose, its really cool.
In regards to your US performances, this [Electric Zoo Festival] being one, did you prepare any different for that?…What was the preparation? All the big bangs?
Oh Yeah, (laughs) I did make a little bit of a twitter note about people requesting tracks and stuff like that, there might be someone out there who wants a specific track.. so I did that and also, the into track I made, I made especially for Electric Zoo. Its going to be a release because it really worked!
Awesome. Just letting you know this ones from our DC fans, they’re calling you down there! Yeah even at not one of the bigger venues like Echostage.. I don’t know whether you prefer big stages or smaller stages..
(laughs) Oh yeah?? Well, big stages are always the cool as well because theres such a massive response and it gives you chills.. But the cool part about smaller ones are you meet more people. I mean right now its impossible for me to go out in the crowd and say hi to everybody, so basically in a smaller venue you can just shake their hands and be more up close and personal. For me it doesn’t matter, it just depends on the night.
Can you tell us about one fun memory of the summer for you? How about one that stands out amongst the others to you?
Actually theres many fun memories… One that really stands out this year is actually me playing in Ibiza with my new girlfriend and seeing her be proud of me, that was amazing.
You’ve been playing piano for a while, whats your favorite composition?
I really love Samuel Barbers adagio, thats fantastic.. Theres also another adagio that I really love I just cant remember who made it ! Its been remade so many times in trance its not even funny anymore, but I love the original of that one as well. Adagio’s slow composition is amazing to me.
Orjan Nilsen Tour Diary (Part 2)
Before all of this happened, before you began to tour the world and having a great time, what was your life like before, like your day to day life?
Basically since I was 16 its been about music. I was a small town DJ, small town producer I did try my best.. But I would say, I worked at many different places. It was more unpredictable actually, than now. So doing this now gives me some sort of stability, now i’m certain of what i’m going to do, which I wasn’t back then. I worked in hospitals, I worked as a security guard, it was quite a messy life.
Is there any message you have for potential producers out there, people trying to make it like you did?
I would say first off you need to get feedback from bigger guys, that is crucial. People who know this industry have to give you feedback about how a track sounds. And push it. If you know you can do it, just do it don’t let anybody tell you you cant do it. Give it a good shot, put your heart and soul into it and if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t work out and if it does..
Then you know you did the right thing?
For the last question, the name of our company is UndrgrndSound, when you hear those words what are the first thought or images that come to mind ?
Undrgrndsounds? (chuckles) Its actually a movie that came from The States called Groove! It was about an underground rave party in San Francisco.
I think i’ve seen that…
That actually really pinpoints what underground sound is about. Its dark its secretive, and the sound is as well. So I think thats really good.. Undrgrndsound.