Exclusive Interview: ilan Bluestone On His Debut Artist Album Scars
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Exclusive Interview: ilan Bluestone On His Debut Artist Album Scars

Experimenting on Scars, Bringing Trance to the masses and piloting

Exclusive Interview: ilan Bluestone On His Debut Artist Album Scars
Jamie Sloane

Anjunabeats heavy-weight ilan Bluestone has been gearing up for his highly anticipated debut artist album Scars with momentum that has yet to slow. Since 2011, ilan and his distinct production style have attracted the support of DJs like Armin van Buuren, Tiesto and Seven Lions and built a steadily growing international fanbase. Ilan's talent and experience has ranged from collaborations with the legendary BT, Andrew Bayer, Jason Ross to performances from Wembley Arena to Red Rocks Amphitheater.

His most recent single "Another Lover" debuted at Above & Beyond's ABGT250 show. While in New York for his show at Schimanski in Brooklyn, ilan delved into the circumstances surroundingScars, the key to bringing trance to the masses and his passion for planes.

Welcome back to NYC! You just finished a show at Schimanski a few nights ago in Brooklyn. How was that?

Ilan: Amazing, it was sold out and great.

You've officially experienced most of the main venue types that New York has to offer -- Madison Square Garden, Brooklyn Warehouse and now Schimanski. How have things differed each time?

Ilan: I think each time it gets more and more intimate. I think the fans are incredible. I find that each time I play here I connect more with the people. I see a lot of familiar faces as well. Some dude came up to me at Schimanski and he goes, “this is my eighth time seeing you bro, each time you’re taking it to that next place...I can’t wait for your album” and I'm like, "dude, thank you so much". It’s amazing and there’s a lot more fans joining the party.

Your debut artist album Scars is set for release! Can you tell us what point you’re at right now in perfecting and releasing it?

Ilan: I’d say about 85-90% done, just the final touches. I’ve been reviewing the music with Above & Beyond; they obviously want to have involvement to make sure it’s perfect for the label. I don't just want to release the track because every track means something to me. I’m a perfectionist. This album was really meant to come out like towards the beginning of this year. Because of my health and because I was touring so much, everything was on pause. My health is more important than an album, so I put that aside, but I’m back on it now. This tour has been kind of like a testing field to see how the album sounds on the dancefloor.

Testing tracks?

Ilan: I played a new track at Schimanski. I'm like, "okay, I can turn the kick drum bit down here." So I'm still perfecting it and I want it to be perfect so it won’t just be played in a car or someone's work environment – it’ll be played in the club.

Any surprises that you encountered along the way while working on Scars?

Ilan: I encountered many from a music producer’s aspect. A lot of new sound design skills that I picked up on and new techniques of recording vocals. A lot of my stuff in the past has been more instrumental. Except for “Bigger than Love”, “Frozen Ground”, my track with BT, all my stuff has been very instrumental -- the music speaks for itself.

You’ve mentioned that Scars is an opportunity for you to experiment musically. Are you waiting to receive feedback from fans or do you think you're already going down this path of experimentation?

Ilan: I'm definitely going down the path of experimentation for sure, especially this album. The next album I’m already planning -- it's just going to be bangers. This is my first debut album...I want to show the world what I can do; not just trance, there’s chillout, there’s deephouse….so it's kind of a mixture of everything that I like to produce in the studio.

That kind of answers my next question...Do you feel that you’re experimenting in a way that you’re expanding your music broadly or that you’re delving into one certain sound?

Ilan: Now it's kind of like experiment and show what I have to offer. It’s been real fun. There’s about 13 tracks on the new album. The next album will be more targeted towards that Anjunabeats type of club banger, anthem-style album.

So you said you learned all these new skills and picked up a bunch of stuff mostly on your own?

Ilan: Yeah. You’re always learning as a music producer like let me decide to present myself in new ways. I'm not one of those music producers who are like, "hey, this is my sound." I'm always learning to develop my sound musically. Music producers always learn from other music producers. There's no stopping. You're constantly learning, you hear, you develop, you create.

What were some key figures that you were inspired by throughout this album in particular.

Ilan: I’d say A&B has been a very big inspiration. A lot of '80s stuff too.

You’ve talked about how you want to bring trance to the masses. What do you think is the key to making this goal happen? What kind of elements will make trance more digestible to first-time listeners?

Ilan: Trance has developed in many ways, I think it’s coming back onto the scene a lot better now. It’s becoming more of a festival thing even for trap artists. I think that's great, but as you can hear a lot of people say, is this stuff even trance? To me trance music is about being on a journey, incorporating the old classic trance sounds and slowing them down a bit. Why? I can't keep up with the pace of a 138 bpm. I love trance music, I love everything about it. But me, trust me, I'm getting a bit old.

My max tempo is like 132 bpm, which I can actually move to and actually enjoy and not get sick of it in a festival or a club. That'll keep you going throughout the night. I think a slower tempo would appeal to more people for longer periods of time. I think if you're listening to 138 bpm for two hours straight, after an hour, you're going to stand there and enjoy the music in that way, which is not a bad thing, but when you're in a festival or in the club, you just want people to let go, go, go, go, go, go. And they can when the tempo is slower.

So you'd say the key is the bpm?

Ilan: Trance for me will never change. Yes. There are a few tracks I've done which are a little bit crossing into that cheesy water, but when you compare to everyone else they’re not. Not gonna name particular names, but what I'm trying to do is bring that trance sound back, making it bigger and more appealing to people who haven't heard trance music before. People who do love trance...the purists...I want to bring their friends and the only way to bring their friends in and then make them appreciate 138 bpm is by bringing them in at a slower tempo. Once I’ve caught them in the center, then they can listen to 138 and appreciate it. If you play someone who's never heard trance 138 bpm trance, they're not going to like it.

Like a gateway situation.

Ilan: I’m the gateway.

Some producers/artists either refrain from listening to music or derive inspiration from completely different genres than the ones they work in. What’s your approach to generating creativity?

Ilan: That's not a bad thing, but as a music producer listening to other genres is very important, being able to accept is very important, being able to experiment is very important. Sounding original is the hardest bit because a lot of people listen to other songs and they copy and that’s where you’re gonna fall. You take elements from other songs, understand why they work, why certain beats work on the dance floor, and what’s in that beat that works sonically. For people who aren’t music producers, there’s a reason there’s a kick drum in a certain track, which sounds like that and in another song it sounds different, and that, as Armin says, "the kick is the holy grail". The kick drum in a specific song can change the whole atmosphere whereas some songs have no kick drum like ""Sun in Your Eyes". People can listen to that and be taken through a journey... whether you like it or not, that is a trance track. It shows you, Anything can be a journey. So there's a lot from the production side and the opportunities are endless. So my only advice to music producer, never stop.

Your lesser known passion is airplanes and you can pilot yourself. How and when did this come about?

Ilan: When I was a kid, obviously music was my main thing and I was always playing with planes as a kid, listening to music and pretending that I'm flying somewhere. Then, I got on board the simulators while listening to trance music in the background. So that kind of flying and letting go and soaring through the sky and mechanical engineering was always something that trance pushed me towards. I guess they’re all connected.

I knew I wanted to get a pilot's license and start learning. I haven’t been at it for health and touring reasons so I haven’t had chance to have Ilan time. At the moment, I'm trying to finish this album off and once the album is done, I'm going to continue with my pilot license, get that done and out of the way.

So how did you feel pursuing a second passion of yours with your busy schedule?

Ilan: I felt great. I flew myself to my own shows.

I have one last question for you. You eventually want to have your own label at some point. Any other projects in the works that you can tell us about?

Ilan: I'm looking forward to opening up my own label at some point. It will definitely have the word Bluestone in it. I’ve got 24,064 emails, about 70% of them are promos from labels, friends and people that’ve got my email somehow. I don’t listen to anything and the only reason is because I have no time to give feedback and I don't want to let people down. When I open my own label, I’ll have a team of about 5-10 people as A&R going through every demo. I'll be selecting the best music out there. I know there's a lot of talent out there; I have heard people who have good music and who just need guidance, so I'll be able to give that guidance and create the best effing label for trance music. Anjuna, Armada, FSOE and Silk…these are the only things I listen to really. I can’t listen to anything else and I don’t have the time to listen to anything else so I’m trying to be original by coming up with new stuff. There's not much that I can connect to and enjoy these days and it’s a bit sad.

Thanks so much for chatting today! We look forward to your album release!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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