INTERVIEW: “Soul-Naked” an interview with Airwave

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Airwave a.k.a. Laurent Veronnez hails from Brussels, Belgium and is one of the most gifted artists of our time. He possesses a passion for his craft which drips from every track he has produced since his musical inception 20 years ago. He is well-respected amongst his peers for his opinions on, and vision for, the trance music industry and he speaks honestly about how he feels and where he sees his musical vision taking him. Versatility and great skill in the studio has led him to collaborations with: Jurgen Leyers with Fire & Ice and E.N.E.R.G.Y., Marnik Braeckevelt with Antidote, Yves Deruyter, M.I.K.E., Armin Van Buuren, Marcus Schulz, JES and producer John 00 Fleming.

Laurent Veronnez is followed religiously by an army of fans the world over. His music is full of emotion expressed through sound. Many have claimed his music has changed their lives. I had the opportunity to chat with Airwave who was one of my first trance inductees, we chatted about his latest release Quest for Beauty; his Toronto gig presented by Trance Sessions at Populus, his many historical aliases, and here is what he had to say.

Logo-AirwaveIt is said you received the gift of music at the tender age of seven. What do you recall being so intriguing about music at such a young age?

I was born the year Star Wars EP. 4 (1977) was moving giant masses to the movie theatres so everything that came after was a combination of great new technology put into the hands of great people. I just got lucky that I was born and raised within that period, and that I could develop my sensitivity for art in general, and specifically music, over the years. Electronic music, back then, had no specific format. You had electronic music everywhere, and nowhere, unlike now where you have this giant EDM culture thing, which somehow explains why I (love) it so much today; fantastic times, great records high in the charts and still ahead of their time. This is what happens when you put great tech into the right hands.

You were influenced by 80’s and 90’s sounds from the likes of Kraftwerk, Jean Michel Jarre, Orbital, Oliver Lieb and BT. What was your process in developing your production skills?

I’ve never felt really talented or skilled. I simply adapted myself by listening obsessively to anything the people mentioned above did release. Due to the circumstances – their age too – these records have something magical, completely unforced. Some of their records are still invaluable today. They’re still a big part of my learning curve. I’m still developing my skills, and I guess I’ll never stop learning; this is how fascinating music making is for me.

“I Want to Believe” was supported by such producers as: Sasha, Paul Oakenfold, and Tiesto. Travelling back to this time, how did this make you feel? Did you feel a sense of accomplishment?

A few of the UK guys we were working with handed it to Sasha, who apparently fell in love with it, just like Ferry Corsten fell in love with the B-Side, Venus Of My Dreams. Global Underground was, back then, a huge source of inspiration for my music, just like Oliver Lieb’s label, and that release was the result of the early things I had learned. I still am amazed at how things went; too fast probably. This is a usual thing when any newcomer in the business comes out with a half-decent record, I guess?

Airwave-playingYou have 18 aliases and have been part of 23 groups. Why have you produced under so many aliases? Which one(s) is your favourite and why?

You’re talking about a long gone period in which we didn’t necessarily want people to discover we made some records we weren’t necessarily proud of, in which the release ratio was max twice a year per artist. We had to be creative. This is how those side projects came into being. This is why I did collaborations with many people who wanted to make records and who couldn’t on their own. It was a great thing, and I learned a lot over the years. My favorite is the only one that remains – Airwave – which is why people now know me under that name.

Quest for Beauty has three different remixes, including a “Jam El Mar Remix”. Is the vocal on it a sample?

This is the main source of inspiration for the whole record. The words of wisdom are coming from an interview of my first electronic hero, Vangelis, the guy who scored the very influential “Bladerunner” soundtrack, among others, only with synthesizers and zero orchestra. This guy was a genius to me.

 

What do you believe has helped you not to be pigeon-holed into one genre?

The fact that I evolve myself and that I didn’t fold under the laws of trade and commercialism maybe? I tend to follow my instincts when making music. Not a fad, not a trend, not a way to get famous or rich in no time. In these times of instant gratification, we tend to forget that great things get done with patience, courage and also failure. We’re so scared of failure that we unconsciously make the wrong decisions. Remember that when it got released, “2001 A Space Odyssey” was considered a bad movie by the masses as they didn’t get the whole message, which led the movie to a half-failure before the critics. However, the people who got it, saved its future. Kubrick was so frustrated apparently. This is apparently what it takes (to make it) with music, if you want to stay around for the long term.

Thing is, I see myself still making those records in 20 years, with the same enthusiasm, regardless of the trends, and the eventual mockery for being 60. That EDM corporatism world says that when you turn 40, you’re done. Actually, this is where it starts for many.

Airwave-bw-garage
Along with running Bonzai Records, what other things about sound design do you enjoy?

The fact that I can create sounds and inspires thousands to make their own music; there’s nothing more rewarding than hearing your sounds in someone else’s record. I know that Steve Helstrip (Thrillseekers), for example, likes some of my work in that area. His latest, Amber, made use of some of them! Did you know that?

LCD Sessions, your radio program, consists of so much diversity within and among artists. What is a basic requirement for a track to be featured on your LCD Sessions?

That’s a question I get to hear quite often but the answer will never change: be YOU when making your music. I hear a soul through the music when I get tracks in the mail.  I don’t want them to be perfect, I want them to unveil your most intimate human details. Whenever I make a track, I feel like getting soul-naked in front of the audience. The people then don’t judge me for my appearance, for my looks, for my money, for my car and all that irrelevant stuff, but only for the inner sides of my soul – the good and the bad. This is what I want to hear the most.

In your opinion what past or current producers do you feel are worth their weight in musical gold? What new producers do you feel will shine for the newer Trance Family generation? 

OLD: Junkie XL, who desperately owes us a great return to dance floor music one of these days. Same goes for Hybrid, and of course, Oliver Lieb. We’ve become good friends over the years, and the guy never lost his passion. Last but not least, John 00 Fleming, worth his weight not in gold, but in diamonds, for what he’s bringing right now to the scene.

ACTUAL: Solar Fields, who has been consistent for years, and who is my absolute hero today.

FUTURE: so many people are full of talent, but don’t use it to their full potential. Because of that EDM corporatism, they end up making commercial music to please the masses. There are a few exceptions though; we have this guy, Satinka, that I like, also David Blufeld. And a few more enthusiasts on JOOF and Bonzai Progressive who don’t want to make commercial music.

With Trance Sessions Toronto at the helm, you graced the decks at Toronto’s Populus. What did you supply for your Toronto army?

Tons of great music that represented everything I stated Airwave-playing2in this interview: my own classics, great bangers, great progressive tracks, and also timeless classics of Trance Music from the 90’s.

Do you remember the first vinyl you ever bought?

An obscure early trance record, Plankton “Sunrise Acid”; it was on a Belgian label called Dance Opera, and you probably never heard of it as it’s from 1994-95? It was great music, the birth of acid progressive, or psy-progressive at 120 if you prefer, but a long time before there even was a way to pigeon-hole it. TBH, I bought tons of CD’s before I got to vinyl.  That was my main source. Thanks to Belgium’s dance scene, before it became the third world of electronic music, Belgium was the leading country in the genre. Even with Trance.

What has been your most shocking moment during your career thus far playing a gig?

The mental atmosphere when playing Luminosity Beach Festival last year; I had never felt anything like that before, the connection with the crowd – unforgettable! Lately I had a great time in Sofia, Bulgaria, too. People were there for the music, nothing else. Fantastic people!

Would you rather be married to Paris Hilton or Charlie Sheen?

Paris could still learn some of my DJ Skills. It feels awesome being able to guide someone to their goals in life. So, I’d go for the girl, even though I’m not into blondes.

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Miss Raquel Richards – EDM TOR

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About Author

Miss Raquel is referred to as Toronto's “Queen of the Dancefloor”. She is the Host/Producer of The Miss Raquel Show, Founder of Scenester Magazine and Channel, and writes a blog called “Poppycock!” on gayguidetoronto.com. She’s well-known for being the beloved VJ for electronica on the now closed bpm:tv channel. She is a staple host of the Toronto Pride stages including World Pride 2014. Lawrence Chau of Toronto’s Metro News wrote, "She’s been crowned Toronto’s Paris Hilton of club culture, but unlike the hotel heiress, our blond scene-stirrer… actually works". She’s interviewed many international and local DJs and producers which has made her one of the most notable and respected interviewers in Canada’s EDM scene.

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