- About Us
When Torsten first heard techno, he immediately felt that this was the style he had been searching for. He expanded his equipment and created his first tracks entirely on MIDI synthesizers, and released his first tracks in 1994 on various European labels. In 2000, he founded his most recent project, Wellenrausch, which quickly rose to prominence in the Vocal Trance scene. Torsten's productions and remixes for artists such as Blank & Jones, Luna Park, and PPK are on many compilations and many top DJs include his tracks on their playlists.
Find out more about "The Trance Experience"
|The Secrets of Electronic Dance Music|
It is rather uncommon for a producer to write a book about his work. Why did you write The Trance Experience?
Well, it was a very exciting project that contrasted my usual work in the studio. I want to allow beginners to get some professional insights into Electronic Dance Music and Trance production. I have no problem at all with aspiring young artists knowing the tools of their trade and therefore producing better results. On the contrary! I enjoy every good song. In the Electronic Music business a musician is usually a producer as well. There are millions of teachers out there who introduce their students to harmonics, but who tells them about studio work and production and mixing techniques? This book tries to close this gap.
Thanks to the computer revolution almost everyone can own a home studio now. All it takes is a home PC. What do you tell beginners in the field of music production, what should they learn?
Of course, on the one hand it has gotten a lot easier, achieving "professional" results only by means of a PC. The existing tools are unbelievably powerful. On the other hand it is extremely important to become familiar with these tools. There's no "one-click-to-make-a-hit" software yet, which I think is very good. I tell beginners to take a close look at harmonics. When you try to build a house you need to have some knowledge about architecture and the principles of building. Once you understand the fundamentals of making music it becomes a lot easier to find your own sound. It's not only about tools, it's about knowing how to use the available tools. What good is an idea, even a great idea, if you don't see a way to musically express it?
Let's talk about your production methods. How do you get the inspiration for new songs?
Since I'm not writing any autobiographical songs my ideas come mainly from experiments with sounds and melodies. It may well be that I am sitting in my studio cutting samples and then, Bang!, I get this idea for a whole song. Sometimes I ride my mountain bike, hum a little melody and very slowly it evolves, gets a certain shape and eventually becomes a song.
How long does it take until a song is finished? How do you start working with a new idea?
I take exactly as much time for a sound as it needs. Especially with atmospheric music such as Trance it is important to capture the right moment. This means a complete song can take a couple of weeks. I am very concerned about details; seemingly unimportant effects and sounds are very important in my productions.
What REALLY makes a great dance track? How does a good track stand apart?
Personally, I'd say its the atmosphere a song creates, whether it is a vocal track or a melody hook. A great dance track has to be special and not be just another clone of a successful concept. Since my work is mostly in the vocal trance genre I pay much attention to the sound and impact of the vocals. In contrast to most pop songs, trance artists utilize stunning effects and special vocal cuts to create the right atmosphere.
What is the most common mistake new mixers / re-mixers with home studios make?
Well, a widespread mistake is putting you under too much pressure. I heard artists say "I want to sound like this producer" many, many times, but this is just plain wrong. In order to become established in the music business you have to develop a precise idea of your personal sound. Yet I tell newcomers to listen closely to existing tracks by other producers so they can analyze and learn rather than copy. A very practical recommendation is to stick to a few good tools and master them. Browsing through sample libraries for hours is not an efficient way to learn.
How do you keep a track from sounding stiff or too automated?
I have a simple recipe for that: I take my time for every mix! Adding subtle sound effects and breaking up a beat by using breaks and fill-ins are key elements to me. That is the reason why you shouldn't try finishing a song in a single day, you just can't achieve a playful character that way.
What would you have liked to teach in the book that is just impossible to convey in text?
The hardest thing to explain is how to create an atmosphere. Capturing the moment in a song is dependent on one's personality. There's so much psychology involved that trying to add it to the book would have been impossible.
How long have you been making music?
As a child I had piano and guitar lessons. When I was 14, I started working on my own compositions and arrangements, mainly for computer games and demos. This was about 20 years ago. My first release on a label was over 10 years ago. The basis for my muscial development was - of course - laid out when I was a kid. Artists like Kraftwerk, Jan Michael Jarre and Vangelis made a lasting impression on me thanks to their "sophisticated" sounds. My work in the computer scene was another important aspect that influences my work. It was around 1992 when I listened to the first techno track: "We came in peace" by DJ Dag. It happened at a party in Belgium and I was overwhelmed! At that moment I knew I had to make music like that.
Do you listen to any other musical genres such as pop or rock?
Definitely! I listen to any kind of music that "gets to me", regardless of its style. If the music leaves me with a certain feel I do not care what genre it is, Trance, Pop or Rock. As a musician you have to stay open minded, sometimes you discover elements in other styles that I can use for my own sound. Especially the mixing of different sounds makes working as a producer and musician so interesting to me. If it were any different there'd be little progression in any style.
Is there a song that you wish you had written yourself?
That's simple: the score for the movie Blade Runner. It is incredible what Vangelis has done in regards to atmosphere, sound design and composition.
Do you have any creative projects you're currently working on?
Together with Markus I am currently working on a new single for our Wellenrausch project and several remixes that will be published under my name. Another huge project is a sample CD. This is going to be very complex and takes up a large amount of my time. If you want to stay up-to-date with my work have a look at my website.
Where do you see Electronic Dance / Trance music going in the next ten years?
Because many different styles blend into each other at the moment it is impossible to tell which direction electronic dance and trance music will take. The important aspect is that it keeps going. With the rapid development in the computer industry I believe studios will tend to substitute their hardware for software solutions, allowing for home studios with that "expensive" sound. In respect to the industry I'd like to point out that it is time the public opinion on software piracy changes. It is weird to see how much money people are willing to pay for a hardware synth and at the same time copying software tools.
There's so much new gear and software these days. How do you choose?
First of all I'd like to say the multitude of tools can lead to great confusion. New hardware is not necessarily the best. I like to try hardware synthesizers out at a local retailer or ask them to send me a demo machine. Testing software is quite comfortable, given there's a demo version. I add it to my existing setup and usually find out rather quickly if it's interesting or not.
Where do you recommend young re-mixers post or share their tracks?
A couple of years ago it was quite easy, there were websites like www.mp3.com with a fantastic support. Today I'd advise upcoming re-mixers to join popular trance forums on the internet. There is also a possibility to send me tracks via my website. If I like them, they'll get airplay in my radio shows.
How do you know when you've got a sound that is "just right"?
Who really knows that? (laughs) You need to adjust your ear to the musical style first to be able to assess a song. Beginners typically lack this adjustment, therefore they should rely on good friends at first. But since music is quite dependent on personal taste they shouldn't ask too many people, and try to ask someone familiar with the style. Don't give up if the first feedback is staggering. Keep going and you'll get better eventually.