Exclusive Interview: Trance Legend ATB Discusses neXt and Career Milestones
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Exclusive Interview: Trance Legend ATB Discusses neXt and Career Milestones

ATB on Producing neXt, the Good and Bad of EDM and His Personal Favorite Tracks

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Exclusive Interview: Trance Legend ATB Discusses neXt and Career Milestones
ATB Facebook Page

Trance legend and pioneer ATB has been active since the late 90s when he released his first track "9 PM (Till I Come)," arguably one of the most recognizable dance tracks around the world, and has continued his legacy with frequent album releases and touring. His 10th studio album, neXt, was released earlier this year with an accompanying tour.

ATB headlined a 9/22 show at Marquee and answered some questions while in New York. In the segment below, he chats about producing neXt, his take on the good vs. bad of EDM today, and special tracks he loves -- all the while, conveying an undeniable passion for music and gratitude for fans. Check out the full interview below:


Welcome back to NYC! The last time you played a show here was a while ago. How does it feel to be returning?

Hey, thanks very much! You're right, it has been a while and I'm really happy to be back. I've played here quite a few times, but it's always a highlight on my schedule.

Has your preference for location or venue changed over the course of your career?

I'm not a big fan of rankings, every venue has its own character and particular history. I always enjoyed playing Pacha. Webster Hall too. But they have both gone for now. This time I'm at Marquee and the energy levels are absolutely amazing. It must be a New York thing, the people here can add a special flair to every location.

Congrats on the new album released back in April! All of your studio albums share the same massive tracklist which fans love. You really went all out with your 10th studio album neXt (2 CDS, limited edition, scarf)…What was the main concept or message you wanted to send listeners with this album?

The X in neXt is the Roman numeral for ten, this was the idea for the tenth studio album, I'm kind of proud to have reached this number but I'm not thinking about stopping yet! Already looking forward to getting back into the studio! neXt features a great range of collaborations again, which is important to me. The sound is very much ATB, but bringing in different artists creates something new and refreshing as well.

Can you tell me about a song on the album that had an interesting backstory or creative process?

Absolutely, the Pages track which features HALIENE. We'd almost finished the album when Stuart Squires (HALIENE's management) sent us the Pages vocals over one of my rough backing tracks. I fell in love with the recording straight away and rushed back to the studio. I worked on the track day and night, HALIENE has such a fantastic voice and I was thrilled to get the song ready in time to add it to neXt.

It’s been 18 years since 9pm (till i come) was released! Congrats! Looking back on all these years, what were some of the biggest milestones for you?

DJ Mag tweeted the 18th anniversary, otherwise I would probably have missed it (laughs)! 18 years is a long time, so much has happened since then. After 9PM, it was important to me to show the broader range of my musical spectrum, with tracks like Don’t Stop, Killer and The Summer. That signature ATB guitar sound is just one element in my creative arsenal. So Let U go was undoubtedly a milestone for me, a completely unique track that unlocked a new chapter in my story. I was already touring in the USA at this time and had so many unforgettable gigs. Each and every album since Movin’ Melodies has been a milestone for me, and of course neXt as the tenth studio album is extra special. I would never have anticipated that 18 years ago, not in my wildest dreams.

Can you tell me about a song or two you produced that you hold dearly, but that might not necessarily be that popular?

I have a very song-orientated approach to making an album, the whole thing has to tell a story, it should take you on a musical journey. I've never been keen on downloading individual tracks from an album, it takes them out of context and they can often lose their impact when you do that. You need to listen to them in order, there's a good reason for spending time on a tracklisting, you need this to get the full effect. I spent ages compiling the tracks on neXt. For sure, some songs will be more popular than others, particularly as my albums usually cover 2 CDs, but that doesn't mean I love some tracks any less. Take Restart, for example, that was my motto in 2016 so it is a significant track in my life.

There’s a lot of up and coming artists in the scene, is there anyone new who’s caught your eye and who’d you want to collaborate with?

The way technology has advanced, the opportunities for young talents to make music have exploded compared to the mid-1990s. You can craft a whole track with just a laptop and the internet makes collaborations so easy, we just couldn't do that back in the day. I'm always listening out for interesting voices and sounds for upcoming tracks, but right now I don't have anyone in particular on the radar.

Having been in the music scene for 20+ years, you’ve probably taken note of the changes in the industry throughout the years. How would you say music fans relationship with EDM has changed?

It would be really sad if nothing had changed in our scene over the last 20 years. The rate of development has been especially strong in the USA. DJs used to be hidden somewhere on the third floor or hidden behind a wall, they weren't really a part of pop culture. We had to practically rebuild whole stages when I was on tour back then, I wanted to be closer to the crowd, to let them feel the energy of the music and interact with them, it was kind of groundbreaking to be honest. Then boom, along came EDM, although it's really just another name for the electronic dance music genre which was already there. Suddenly, festivals starting popping up everywhere and the scene grew and grew incredibly quickly. This gave the whole music style a real boost and dance music has become an integral part of the music scene today, both in niche genres and as one of its main foundations. It's brilliant to see, although sadly the distance between the DJ and the crowd is often just as big at festivals now as it was in the early days of electronic music. Sometimes it's hard to see who's up there on stage, unless their logo is projected on massive LED screens, which is a bit of a shame. Being close to the fans and engaging with them is an extremely important part of our scene and shouldn't be neglected.

As far as the relationship of fans to EDM goes: earlier, you tended to be a fan of one style of music, such as trance, and you identified totally with that genre and only went to events where trance was playing. Nowadays, kids go to festivals more as an activity in itself, they want to be a part of the event, like EDC in Vegas for example, and perhaps they'll discover new styles or fall in love with new music there. It's a much more open spectrum now.

What are some big things you’re working on besides the obvious producing and touring? Your film documentary and production/management company?

Well, as I said, I've been touring the world for some 20 years, not forgetting a few years with my project Sequential One which came before ATB. My work–life balance has become really important to me. If I'm not on tour or in the studio, I'll take some time out, maybe go travelling ... quite happily on a road trip. If I'm on a plane I always feel like I'm on my way to a gig (laughs)! When I'm on the road, the impressions I collect serve as inspiration when I'm back in the creative phase in the studio. But of course I have goals I want to achieve. We're developing new artists through Ruhrtone and maybe one day we will release an ATB film documentary ...

Wishing you the best of luck for the rest of the year! Any words you’d like to say to ATBfamily?

Wishing you all the best too.

@ATBfamily: It is so amazing to feel your loyalty in 20 years of making music, and seeing so many familiar faces at gigs all over the world means an awful lot to me. It gives me so much motivation and I'm itching to start work on the next album! Thanks to you!!!

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