After a selection of stunning remixes for Macarize, it’s a pleasure to see Russian duo Eximinds‘ first original on the label in collaboration with fellow countryman Aleksey Yakovlev, who makes his Macarize debut with ‘Serenity’.
The original mix of ‘Serenity’ is a blissed-out progressive house beauty, with its Balearic vibe and ethereal vocals enabling it to live up to its name perfectly.
Also making his debut on Macarize is Norwegian producer K.R.J, whose very distinctive synth and stab work adds a distinctive twist to his stripped back, laid-back, spaced out remix.
Rounding out the package, EDU’s remix features magnificently moody melodies, soaring synths and an epic breakdown which create an emotive atmosphere and take ‘Serenity’ deep into prog-trance territory.
All in all, another fantastically uplifting, melodic gem from Macarize – and a great way to round off what has been a truly fantastic year for the label.
‘Where The Sun Goes Down’ showcases the sheer style of Atlantis Ocean’s production perfectly. Pairing driving 80s style drums and rippling synths with a chip-tune influence and juxtaposing them with ethereally uplifting lead chords and piano hook, this track is an atmospheric wonder.
Meanwhile, the stunning sounds of ‘Sunlight’ will have you nostalgically harking back to summer as this masterclass in melody uses its soaring synths and subtle piano hook to tug at your heartstrings. Atlantis Ocean have truly developed a sound that is all their own, and this is yet another perfect example.
Do you remember where you were when you first heard ‘Pink Houses‘ by Answer42 back in 2009? I was walking down the street listening to an episode of Trance Around The World on my iPod, and it quite literally stopped me in my tracks! Since then the Anjunadeep aces have gone on to wow the world of progressive house with their uniquely warm, uplifting sound and in a very short space of time have become one of its leading lights. They’re also 3 of the loveliest, most down to earth and friendly guys in the business so it’s both an honour and a real pleasure to have been given an insight into the world of Answer42 as we talk early days, their name, their musical style and inspirations, studio setup, their production tips and more!
Hi guys! First things first – how did you guys get together and start making music as Answer42?
We originally started as X-Tence back in 2006, and at that time we were producing mainly trance. Our first works consisted of several remixes for the American singer Amuka, and some of them ended up into the popular Billboard Dance Chart. In 2008 we started to move into progressive trance with a project called Mooka (different name, but same people), which attracted some interest from James Grant at Anjunadeep. At the end of that year we produced the first Answer42 track (Pink Houses) and we signed it with them. Since then, we’ve kept Answer42 as our main alias and have started to develop its sound.
Where did you come up with the name Answer42 – are you big Douglas Adams fans?!
Definitively yes, we are big fans of Douglas Adams and his work. We were considering tons of possible names, but when “Answer42″ came up, it completely blurred out the others. It felt very simple, funny and deep (ok, maybe not that deep, Deep Thought!).
I’ve been hooked on your uniquely warm, uplifting sound ever since I heard ‘Pink Houses’ – but how would YOU describe it in your own words? And has it changed since you started out?
Thanks for your kind words.
Of course it’s not easy to classify our own work. However you might call our music “Tropical Trance”. Our strongest initial influences were mainly trance and progressive house and funk. Through the years we have added some more influences that now range from italo-dance to nu-disco, but still incorporating a strong trance component.
How did you get signed to Anjunadeep, one of the biggest progressive house labels in the world?
In 2008 we released a relatively successful remix for P8 – 1986. The release popped up in the Beatport charts and we were enough lucky to be noticed by James Grant.
Who would be your dream artist to remix, and who would you most like to remix one of your own tracks?
We really like the sounds that are currently coming from Jody Wisternoff, PROFF, Shingo Nakamura and Jaytech. We would love to remix or be remixed by any or all of them.
What are your Top 5 tracks right now?
In no particular order:
Dusky “Stick by this” (the whole album)
Soundprank – Beginnings
Jean Jacques Smoothie feat. Tara Buschm – 2People (Dcup Remix)
Luca Lombardi – Nowhere People (I-Vision Mix)
Dimo feat Michael Inge – Orbit (Answer42 mix)
You recently started a blog to share your production tips – what would be your top tips for aspiring producers?
Be unique. That’s the most important thing for us: there’s definitively too much mediocre and generic music around these days. Keep an eye on our website to get more production tips in the future!
What studio setup do you guys use yourselves?
Our studio is FL Studio based, but we have a hybrid approach involving external gear such as Virus C and Novation synthesizers. However we are moving more and more into the digital domain due to time and logistical constraints.
Can we expect any live Answer42 gigs anytime soon?
Unfortunately we don’t have any gigs scheduled right now, but hopefully in the future!
Recently you posted on your Facebook page: “Exciting things are coming up”. Anything you’d care to share – what are you currently working on and what’s coming up next?
We have just got the master back of our new track! We are sorry but we cannot reveal much about it right now, however it is going to be something new and different from our usual sound. Our sound so far has been mainly synth-driven, but we are now injecting much more samples. Somehow we are trying to merge nu-disco and progressive house, so you can hopefully expect something innovative!
We’ve also got a remix of an older track from an awesome artist, and this is going to probably be released as a bonus track next year.
Our latest remix for “Dimo feat Michael Inge – Orbit” has just been released on Usefull Records, and it’s incorporating nu-disco with progressive house and some tasty vocoding. Go check it out!
Lucy, thank you very much for the interview and good luck with your website!
Thank YOU guys – as a massive fan since the very early days of Answer42, I can’t wait to hear what’s coming next!
Follow Answer42 at:
And check out their remix of Dimo ft Michael Inge – if you like what you hear, buy a copy on Beatport.
Swiss producer Michael Elliot first caught my ear earlier this year with his stunning remix of Labtracks’ ‘Robotic Love’ on Macarize, which showcased his ability to combine progressive house, trance and nu disco influences to make incredible melody-laden music. Since then his productions have been supported by the likes of Roger Shah, Answer42 and Richard Durand and he’s about to release a rocking remix of Valentin’s ‘Decode’ on WeRecommend Records on Tuesday. So I caught up with Michael to talk top tracks, musical influences, his love for Macarize, his production style, dream remixers and what’s coming up next for the boy wonder…
Welcome Michael! As a relatively new face on the progressive house scene, can you please tell us a bit more about yourself and how/when/why you started making music?
Well first I wanted to say thank you for the interview! I’m 24 and I’m from Switzerland. My interest in dance music started when I was 7 years old – some older boys were outside running around with ghetto blasters and listening to some kind of happy hardcore. That was the perfect sound for a hyperactive kid like me – I spent hours trying to find this sound on the radio, but unfortunately couldn’t find anything like it and was really disappointed. My musical career started when I was 9 and took up the violin, but I was always more interested in the keyboard which my violin teacher had. A few years later, when trance was taking over Europe, my father was checking out some CD shops and bought me some stuff, including the official Street Parade 1999 compilation which was mixed by DJ Tatana. After that I knew I had to make music like this and I started going to record stores to buy vinyls. I took my first steps as a producer with a software program called E-Jay and Dancemaker, but after a few years of using this software it got boring and I wanted to create my own melodies, so I ended up using Reason – which I still use today.
How would you describe the Michael Elliot sound – and why the name Elliot as your artist name (Michael’s real surname is Lefebre)?
My sound is very melodic, happy but also meloncholic. It’s between trance, progressive house and indie dance/nu disco. I took the best elements of all these different styles I like and created my own sound. It always has to be more melodic and less minimal – but I’m really not the type to fit into genres.
With regards to my name – that’s actually a very weird story. The name Michael Elliot was created by a friend of mine. We always used to watch the TV show ‘Scrubs’ together and one of the characters is a female doctor called Elliot Reed, and in one show she has a boyfriend called Mike. Somehow they meet each other and say each other’s name – MIKE?? ELLIOT?? And after that scene my friend looked at me and said that would be a good name for you. So that’s the mystery behind the MICHAEL ELLIOT
You’ve already acknowledged your 80s influences, can you tell us more about who or what your biggest musical influences & inspirations are?
I was made in the 80s and I think it’s probably in my blood, but it’s not my main theme. A lot of my inspirations for my own songs come from old 70s, 80s and 90s pop songs. I look at the structures of songs and maybe take some inspiration from there – some example include Phil Collins, Kool & the Gang, Styx and Player. My biggest electronic influences are Chicane, DJ Tonka, Eric Prydz and Tiesto. In fact, Tiesto is the reason why I’m here and doing this interview with you Lucy. In 2002 the track ‘Lethal Industry’ came out and it just blew my mind. Then I discovered the ‘In Search Of Sunrise’ series and fell in love!
Do you prefer producing remixes or original tracks?
At the moment I would prefer to make more originals, but it’s good that I receive a lot of requests for remixes. I always try to make something different to the original, but I guess that’s what everybody says
What’s your favourite track that you’ve produced or remixed to date and why? Which one are you most proud of?
I love them all and they’re my babies. The one I like most is my bootleg of ‘De Nuit’. I loved the original but I think my musical interpretation of the track sounds pretty good. I can identify very well with the lyrics; everybody has had a summer love or a partner who left them, and the lyrics are about that memory of a beloved person. The chords and the bell sounds just came to me easily. A good track opens up images, memories and emotions – I think that’s the main point of music.
To date your tracks have received support from the likes of Roger Shah, Richard Durand and Answer42 – how does that feel?
It’s just amazing! I’m very thankful, because these guys are all like my mentors. I grew up listening to their stuff and it’s just an honour that they are supporting me. Thank you guys. If you give me your address, I will send you Swiss chocolate
Do you DJ as well?
Yes. I started with vinyls and changed 2 years ago to Traktor. But at the moment I’m more focused on producing.
Who would you most like to: a) remix, b) remix one of your tracks and c) collaborate with on an original track?
a) I would love to remix Lifelike’s Discopolis. This track is just so sexy. If you think it’s not sexy then just watch the official videoclip…
b) David Folkebrant. We have the same taste and I’m very curious about how it would sound. He was also one of my first supporters and we got to know each other about a year ago via Soundcloud.
c) Ellie Goulding. Her voice is just amazing. I saw her live in Switzerland and she’s a great performer. I like the way she combines electronic elements with acoustic/ classical ones.
What are your top 5 tracks right now and why?
1. Thomas Feijk – Hi (Original Mix) (Macarize)
This is the tune of 2011 for me. You can play it in a club because of the heavy bass and it has this lovely vocal sound which defines the whole track for me. The break is relaxing and not too long and then after a few seconds comes the heavy bass again. I would make it the same way – it’s just perfect.
2. Envotion – The Last Wave (Anjunadeep)
This is what I like about Envotion. They make progressive house but it’s completely incomparable to anyone else’s. The kick and snare could be from a rock song and the the synth lead is just inimitable. The title of the track and the sound just fit really well together.
3. Luca Lombardi – Nowhere People (Original Mix) (Neuroscience Deep)
I like the warm atmoshere of this track. It’s the perfect track to open a warm-up set to get the crowd in the right mood.
4. The Knocks – The Brightside (Lenno Remix) (A/M Octone)
It’s my good morning song. I turn it on and I’m happy! I’m a big fan of Lenno and I think he’ll be really big.
5. Pryda – 2Night
A classic Pryda track. This is my ‘workout’ song when I go for a run. I like how he created his own style and just continues with it. He’s already a legend.
Obviously you’re part of the Macarize family – what is that you love so much about the label?
I love Macarize. Kris is just a genius in how he sorts out tracks for his label. Macarize is not only a label, it’s a second family for me. If I had troubles he would try his best to help me, but he’s also very direct when he doesn’t like something. That’s what I like and need. I think we’re seeing the beginnings of a very big label in Macarize.
What are you working on at the moment and what’s coming up next for you?
I’ve just finished a remix for my Italian friend Vitodito of his track Fede. I also made an original for Macarize, but I’m not allowed to say any more right now
On 6th december my remix for Valentin’s ‘Decode’ is released and if you like 80s-influenced nu disco/indie dance then you should not miss this.
What are your ambitions for your music career and what do you hope to achieve with your music?
I love music and I’m on a journey to find myself right now and trying to pass on the love that I have for music to others. At the moment I’m trying to establish myself in the music world. I do it because I love it and it just feels natural to make music, not to make money or anything like that.
Thank you Michael! It’s been an honour to be a part of your musical journey and I can’t wait to hear what’s coming up next…
I hold my hands up, I’m seriously late to the Neuroscience party…but you know what they say, better late than never! And the old maxim is so true, because I’m really glad that I’ve finally discovered this UK-based progressive and trance label, and their forthcoming EP from American producer Soulforge is RIGHT up my street!
The Stronger mix of ‘Dreamfast’ starts off with a warm bassline and pads overlaid with haunting top notes and layers of enchanting, entrancing melodies that weave their way into your heart to make it melt; then a long and laidback breakdown leads into a satisfyingly driving prog-trance belter.
The Laidback mix is a perfect progressive house blend, sending waves of beautifully blissed-out chord progressions and intensely sweet piano melodies wash over you like manna for your ears. Again, there is a strong trance influence and I love the way his melodies sound so totally unique, unlike anyone else I’ve heard in the prog scene lately.
‘Ferris Wheel’ takes that unique sound to even higher heights, again introducing those intriguing top notes that instantly grab your attention. Powered by a summery, chilled out vibe and a great bassline groove, this track is just effortlessly enjoyable.
The Dreamfast EP is coming out on 22nd November…put that date in your diary now!
Jay Ardrey aka Mindset is most definitely at the top of my list of favourite up and coming progressive producers this year. At just 19, he’s already forged his own distinct sound, a well-deserved name for himself in this increasingly competitive genre and huge respect among fellow producers and the progressive house community.
His forthcoming original on Macarize, ‘Olympus’, is the perfect example of his talent in fusing progressive and trance with unique amounts of emotivee intensity. ‘Olympus’ starts off with warm topline melodies tinged with trademark Mindset melodic vibe, surrounded by shimmering waves of trance synths that lead into a HUGE breakdown with a piano hook so beautiful it actually makes your heart ache – before building you back up with massive layers of trance stabs, a deliciously old-skool sound and driving bassline.
Matao‘s remix unleashes a funkified bassline, kicking drums that will drive you straight to the dancefloor, soaring overarching synths and teasingly feel-good piano hooks…but it’s the killer combination of disco-edged electrifying stabs and effortlessly uplifting vocals that will really have you reaching for the lasers.
Meanwhile, stylish Swede David Folkebrant delivers a remix that’s more ‘pure’ progressive; its irresistibly funky bassline groove hooks you in straight away while his piano-heavy feel-good flourishes, instantly uplifting chord progressions and endless layers of twinkling topline melodies will steal your heart and never give it back!
‘Olympus’ is out on Macarize on 28th November – which can’t come too soon…
I’m hearing great things from NRG Dance Records, the label run by Wim Broersma – aka one third of Answer42 – and I’m particularly loving this upcoming EP from Dutch producer Vince Forwards, a real prog-trance gem!
‘Expedition’ is the deeper track of the two, featuring multiple layers of powerfully moving trance synths over a deep bassline and enchanting piano melody that tugs at your heartstrings.
‘Faded Glory’ follows a similar path, again featuring a gorgeous piano hook and airy, uplifting synths, coupled with a hypnotic chord progression…a dreamy delight, this will have you drifting off to a happy place in no time at all…
And kudos to NRG Dance Records for taking the time and effort to create a really beautiful video teaser for the EP, well worth a watch:
Look out for ‘Expedition / Faded Glory’, coming soon on NRG Dance Records.
Happy days – time to hear again from one of my favourite up and coming artists, Allan V! In my recent interview with him he mentioned a forthcoming release on Macarize, ‘Lost Angeles’, which has now finally been unveiled.
The original is a shining prog-trance gem, with fluttering, feathery topline melodies, a satisfyingly deep bassline, beautifully warm pads and wistful vocal stabs. However, ‘Lost Angeles’ isn’t all sugary sweet; watch out for the epic breakdown into staccato, staggered synths which give way to a tougher, techier track in the second half. And this is what I love about Allan V – his ability to always surprise and his diversity in fusing progressive, trance and tech-house together with a consistently creative melodic flair.
There’s also a superb remix from Russian trance duo Eximinds, who take the track up a gear and build on the original’s tech-trance elements. Their rework kicks off with a dark, squelching, hard as nails bassline and fiercely driving drums…but the supremacy of soaringly uplifting trance synths ensures that the intense emotion of the original is infused throughout.
‘Lost Angeles’ is released on 21st November on Macarize – so do your ears a favour and mark the date in your diary…