Cosmic Gate Prepare For 'Start To Feel' Album Release & Tour [Interview]
Cosmic Gate is a name that should be immediately recognizable to anyone who claims to know anything about trance music. Legends in their own right, the duo has been around since the late ‘90s, and has produced countless original tracks and remixes, including what is likely their most recognizable track, “Exploration of Space.” In addition to all that, they have made five studio albums, with a sixth one coming out on June 27, titled Start To Feel.
We had the honor to chat with Bossi, who makes up half of the duo, about their coming album and what it means for Cosmic Gate, as well as how things have changed for them over their long and illustrious career.
(S = Sam Foxhill; CG = Bossi of Cosmic Gate)
S: How long has Start To Feel been in the works?
CG: That’s a good question. We have been working on it for 9-12 months. Basically, a year with segments of November, December, January, February...the last four months have been hardcore in that we were doing nothing but DJing and working on the album.
S: Is it hard to do studio productions when you have a busy tour schedule?
CG: Yes. When you’re not having ghost producers, it’s very hard. *laughs* We do have a lot of intercontinental flights, a lot of time changes, jetlag. When you play 140 or 150 shows a year, you can imagine that you need some downtime to just relax and not totally burn out. To do an album then, it’s hard work. But you get into the flow and when things starts to build up, and the first songs start to get good, you push yourself and get some optimism--even if you have to squeeze every minute out of your timetable, push everyone away, and just focus on what you’re doing.
S: Was there a central theme or story that you were trying to tell with the album?
CG: Start To Feel is not just a name. When we started to produce the album, we had the feeling that this whole “EDM” thing that everyone seems to play is really getting to be too much, and that we’re missing out on a certain feeling in music. Start To Feel is our statement. We think it’s more melodic. We want more touching songs that really tell a complete story, that don’t just end up on a drop with 10-15 seconds of hands in the air. The album is our statement of doing things a little bit differently, because of us being tired of a lot of stuff that was getting played.
S: The press release mentioned that you wanted the album to be music a person could go back to months later.
CG: Not months...years later, actually. We think a lot of music out there that is just made to work for the moment, but when you come to one of our shows, we play a lot of tracks that are three, five, eight, ten, or some are even 15 years old, and the people are still requesting them. We want to write music that still will be requested in ten or 15 years, and is not just made for this summer. We want our music to last longer, and hopefully still make people smile, remembering back when they were in the car listening to the album or something. That’s our intention with writing music.
S: With today’s music industry and how fast releases are expected from artists - you need a single out every six weeks - do you think there is still room for albums?
CG: We definitely hope so, because an album gives us more artistic freedom. We can write different music. There’s tracks on Start To Feel that we would never write if we were just releasing singles, because for us as DJs, singles have to work on the dancefloor too. An album is a totally different story. We have tracks like our new song with Emma Hewitt that have a very light kick, that aren’t the typical four-on-the-floor pattern, that are just chill tracks. We think this is important for an album. To have 14 tracks that just start with a kick, have a heavy bassline come in, and end up the same doesn’t make sense to us. An album has to tell a nice, complete story, and that’s what we want to do with it. We think there will always be people that don’t want one club stomper after the other.
Of course, it’s still mainly a dancefloor album. We’re DJs. We’re often producing first for the dancefloor, but we definitely tried to write an album that stands for itself, that you can listen from track one all the way until the end. There are tracks that work on the dancefloor, but there are also tracks that you can listen to in the background when you’re at your computer, music that works in different environments.
S: If you could sum the album up in just a couple sentences, what would they be?
CG: It’s always hard to talk about music. It’s a feeling, a very personal feeling. People feel the same track totally differently. We were trying to put in as much as emotion as we can. We want people to listen to it and not just be like, “Okay.” We hope they love it, or maybe even hate it, but not to leave them cold. “Okay” is shit. So yeah, we tried to wake emotions with what we did, to make people dream, dance, sing along, but definitely not leave them cold.
S: What do you hope to achieve with it?
CG: At first we write music that we like, and we hopefully a lot of people like the music we write, come out to our DJ shows, want to see us perform some of these tracks live in our shows and when we bring our singers. “Achieve” is a big word. This is still a very underground kind of music compared to what is getting played on most radio stations, so we don’t want to achieve selling millions of copies. We hopefully make people happy and smile with it; that’s what we want to achieve.
S: Having performed for so many years, have you found it difficult to evolve your style while still maintaining your signature “sound” at the same time?
CG: That’s a good question. It’s music at the end, but I think that Nic and I as Cosmic Gate have a very signature handwriting together. Of course, in 15 years, a lot of things change. We started with totally analog equipment, being in a room filled with synthesizers and drum machines, and now we’re basically sitting in front of our laptops producing music. This is totally different. You go from album to album and you hear that the sound changes, that we progress in how we are as personalities - we’re getting older, we’re hopefully getting a bit wiser, we see more from the world, we travel a lot...all these experiences go into our music. At the end, even with the totally different sound of what we did in ‘98 and ‘99 compared to now in 2014, I think our handwriting is all over it. This is the most important.
S: Having been in trance for so long, what do you think is next for the genre?
CG: If we knew this, we would go to the studio again tomorrow and write something. It has gone back to 138 bpm, but we were there 15 years ago. It’s not really something that we want to do again; it would be like a step back. We do like a lot of these melodies they use, but we would combine it with different beats, with something that is - in our eyes at least - more forward-thinking. So many different music styles have been mixed up together, and right now trance is sometimes a mix of house beats, a progressive feeling, the trance melodies, sometimes even tribal-ish beats. This is good. Bring together different kinds of musical styles, different influences, and create something new. It can never be something bad.
S: With that being said, do you think the trance community is different than the rest of the electronic dance music community, and if so, how?
CG: It’s absolutely different, because when you’re a trance lover, you live for music. You know about your DJs, while most of the other scenes...I think they’re more consuming music. They’re not as deep in it. Trance is maybe not for everyone, but when you’re in it, you’re way more connected with the people and with the whole scene. You know more about your DJs, which is really a good thing. There’s not so many of us, but if you’re a trancehead, you’re in it with your whole heart and soul, while I don’t think that someone listening to electro is really into it.
S: Trance is not quite as popular as, for example, house or dubstep. How does one make a living in trance music?
CG: It doesn’t sell at all. That’s why the DJs that do trance are actually in it with their heart, because if they’re not, they would make pure “EDM” tracks. It’s the same in the trance genre like in every other genre. The sales go down, the royalties go down, and that’s why tickets for concerts have really been getting more and more and more expensive. If you want to get into a club show, you have to pay more. Every artist, whether it’s a DJ or a musician, is making money from shows. That’s how it is.
S: Is there going to be a tour themed around Start To Feel?
CG: Absolutely. We’re doing a big bus tour basically the whole of August through the US. I don’t know, it’s like 20 shows or so. It’s our first bus tour, and we’re really excited about it. We actually play in the US and Canada a lot though, so just check out our Facebook and see the dates.