A Conversation With Lange, One Of Trance's Great Talents
Stuart Langelaan, better known as Lange, is one of trance music’s most prolific acts, with a 16 year career to his credit. Aside from having 20 UK Top 40 hits, 3 successful studio albums, 10 mix compilations, countless Beatport Trance chart topping singles like “Live Forever,” and “Hold That Sucker Down,” he’s also the proud owner of his own imprint, Lange Recordings. The emerging imprint’s releases encompass the definition of modern trance, and can often be found within the Top 10 of the Beatport Trance chart. We had the chance to sit down and talk about his latest artist album, as well as the brand new music video for his single “Insatiable” with Betsie Larkin.
(S = Sam Wangsness of EDM.com; L = Lange)
S: What was your motivation behind creating We Are Lucky People? Was there a story behind it, or some inspiration you had for it?
L: The idea for the title came to me while sitting on a plane. I was thinking how lucky I am to be able to do this every weekend--traveling, meeting people, and having a real blast. I didn't use the title until six months later on the "We Are Lucky People" single, which then lead me to feel it was time to write a new album, which had been three years since the last one. Writing that track was my inspiration; I felt I had a bit of direction again in the studio.
I set out to take a different approach this time around. Instead of hiding away in the studio and not having any output for quite some time, I decided to release the music as I made it and form the final album at the end.
S: I assume you spend quite a lot of time on airplanes then, since you're presumably touring weekly.
L: Yes! Plenty of time on airplanes. Lots of time to think!
S: Now the album is all different mixes from the originally-released singles, right? What was the idea behind that?
L: Yes, that's right. Basically, it was to keep the flow of music, and to keep things fresh when the final album was released. I released the club singles throughout the year, and then revisited each track in a unique way to produce home listening album of unheard material I think it seemed to work out quite well in the end.
S: What was your inspiration for "Insatiable?"
L: I've known Betsie [Larkin] for some time, and we've done a couple of tracks already. She wrote the lyrics, she sent me the song and I produced the music around it. That's often how these tracks happen with me; I get sent a vocal and I build a whole track around it. I thought it was a great vocal; it really fit in with what I was doing anyway in the studio. She's great to work with as well, and a good friend.
S: And how would you say the music video relates to it?
L: I think the music video suits the track though I couldn't be there for the music video filming. It was filmed in New Mexico. We wanted to keep with the theme that's developed over time with We Are Lucky People, and have something that reflected the visual look of the album, so we wanted a really nice location. I'm really pleased with how the video turned out. Hope others have enjoyed it as well!
S: What do you hope to accomplish with both "Insatiable" and We Are Lucky People?
L: This is just one chapter in my ever-getting-longer production career. With this, I wanted to go back to trance, but not in the same way that many people perhaps view trance. Trance music's almost becoming the EDM sound – which I do play a lot of, I have to say – or it's got to be the 138, which a lot of people are gunning for, particularly over in Europe. For me, trance music isn't necessarily any of those; it's just that feeling you get from music. It's a little bit more melodic, and with this album, like I said, the aim was to produce something listenable. I wanted to do a project that would hopefully stand the test of time and be worth listening to over and over, rather than a bunch of club tracks. That's what I was trying to achieve with that. With "Insatiable," I did the original mix for the album, which I feel fits in really well with that. With the video, I actually wanted to give it a new, fresh feeling and felt it needed another melody in there, so that's what's happened with the new mix that's just come out.
S: How long have you been producing and DJing?
L: I have been producing as a career for 16 years.
S: Does it feel like 16 years?
L: Actually it doesn't, no! It's kind of crazy. DJing, I've been doing for less; it's more around 11 or 12 years. I would say also, with DJing, it took quite a while back in the day for producers to get set up as DJs; a lot of the clubs – quite ironically these days – were not too keen on taking people who produce music. These days, of course it's essential that people have music out all the time. The DJing was a slower progression for me, but the last five years has probably been the most successful five years I've had as a DJ.
S: What exactly has happened in the last five years that you think has really benefited your career?
L: The touring has increased a good amount. In the last five years, I've put out three artist albums. Took me a while to write the first one. I think writing albums has always been seen as a milestone for any artist in dance music, maybe not as much now, but certainly over the last five years. I think that was important. Whether or not albums will be that important in the future, I have to question, as obviously things have changed quite a bit since then.
S: With the current marketplace of singles and EPs, do you think there is still room for an album in today's music industry?
L: I think there is. Whether it's the best way to do it, I don't know. I felt the album worked very well for me, I think it had quite a strong theme. Taking a different approach, we released the club mixes first and offered completely new reworks of the singles on the album. We weren't 100% sure if we were going to have a lack of sales at the end as a result of a lot of the music already being out. That wasn't the case, we managed to keep it fresh at the end, and actually doing it that way built quite a bit of hype through the year. For me, I would argue that if I did do another album, that would be the way I was going to do it, but you can definitely see the progression now into EPs, smaller projects, with less time to shape the project in the first instance. It keeps it fresher as well. You can see the way people consume music now is very quick. Sometimes tracks only hang around five or six weeks, and an EP keeps it fresher and keeps things on the move quicker. I think EPs are the way forward now.
S: They're probably easier to make too.
L: They are. With an album, if you want to get artistic about it, it does take a lot more effort, and I have to say last year was a very difficult year to maintain everything, to do the album. I wrote everything myself and did a weekly radio show and all the touring; it was pretty insane actually.
S: Now you released We Are Lucky People on your own label. What was the motivation behind doing that instead of using a bigger label like Armada or EMI or Universal?
L: I've got nothing against releasing on other labels. I do release occasionally on Armada, occasionally on Anjunabeats, some on Black Hole previously, as well. For me, it worked better to have it be on my own label due to the way we were doing it. Writing a track, promo’ing it three days later, simply isn't possible unless you can manage things with the label to make sure that you've got these scheduled dates in as you need them. It gave me the flexibility to do what I wanted. Also, the plan for promo changed quite a bit as we were going along with new ideas and stuff. I think it's easier when you can manage your project and have overall control to really do what you want to do with it.
S: Going back a little bit, you said you wanted to recreate what you felt was trance music. What is your feeling on trance music as it is right now, or electronic dance music in general?
L: I don't like getting too stressed about different genres. The thing is, I love a lot of different music; I like some techno influences, I like some trance but not all trance, and I'm quite into some of the harder stuff as well. For me, certainly when I'm playing my sets, I try to bring in all the different elements that I like, and try to produce a set that's going to surprise people in places, but then maybe it take it right down and maybe give people that nice moment in the club. You see a lot of people, certainly in the trance scene, getting angry that trance music is kind of changing and that artists are doing different stuff, but I think it's good that people are doing different stuff. The only downside to what's happening at the moment is that there's a lot of copying and cloning of tracks going on. There's obviously a lot of sample CDs and stuff that's premade, so it's easier to copy the latest Avicii or whatever, and we're in danger at the moment of EDM getting pretty boring. It's absolutely huge in the US in the moment, as you know. What's going to cause a problem is if everyone just turns their noses up at it, because everyone's copying the same thing. Innovation is the key thing that has to happen right now.
S: Would you say the music released on Lange Recordings are innovative?
L: Some of them are, some of them are pushing things forward. I'm not going to claim that they're all massively innovative. It's just really difficult these days to keep the level of music that people expect to hear from artists. They're expecting music every five or six weeks. It's hard to maintain that and be innovative as you go along. It was a lot easier to do ten years ago when releases were a lot slower, promo periods were slower, things were pressed on vinyl. Almost everything was slower, and tracks would be bigger in a way, because they would just keep growing over a long period. Obviously that's changed now. Music is consumed so quickly. But, every now and again, someone will drop a really innovative track to me, and I'll snap it up straight away.
S: With the album out now and with "Insatiable" out, what's next for you?
L: I'm playing around in the studio at the moment with darker and more driving stuff. I still am not 100% sure what my next big project is. Of course, there's more to come from We Are Lucky People: I've got a remix album coming out later in the year. I'm obviously thinking about the next direction for me, and it's a good time while I know I've got the remix album coming out and a few singles for me to play around and work out what the next thing is.
S: It gives you a bit of a buffer.
L: Yeah, it's great. I'm having a lot of fun, trying out some new stuff. I've never been a producer who wants to keep making the same thing. I did that in the early days, which is often what people do when they first start producing, like doing loads of different remixes all the same. You get stagnant and completely bored. I want one that does something a bit different, but I haven't quite decided what that is yet.
S: Do you think it'll eventually work into the same thing you did with We Are Lucky People? Releasing singles and then the album...
L: I really don't know at the moment. There's no rush to do a new album. It was a difficult year, I was like, "This is my last album, that's it." It was really, really stressful, but I might forget in two years' time just how bad it was and right on schedule, there will be a new album after three years.