An interview by Rob Mendoza at his Test Drive radio show, aired on July 4th 2015. Originally the interview was recorded live and available as an audio record. For your convenience, you can find a text version below.
Intro: Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of „Test Drive“, the global Progressive Trance raido show, and I’m happy to say that this month interview we have actually one of the guy who brought me back to listening and doing electronic music, Daniel Lesden — great producer from Russia. He currently live in Israel with his wife, and this is the guy who released „Chronicles Of The Universe“ with JOOF and lots of other releases on on labels such Digital Om. True star in the genre right now. Also don’t forget to tunning in to his show on DI.FM, Rave Podcast, monthly broadcast of the great music. So, with all that, let me introduce Daniel Lesden.
Hello Daniel, how are you doing?
Thanks Rob! Thank you for having me tonight. Doing great! Thank you for this introduction.
You do a lot of stuff man, so not surprise! I guess the first question I ask everybody Daniel is how you get into Trance.
Oh I came into Trance from another genres of electronic dance music. It was about ’97 or so. I was young, full of energy, so I’ve listened to Hardcore, Gabber, you know, all that music that called one word „Rave“ music. So basically I came from this, and then in about ’99 or millenium I heard early Goa trance that instantly caught my ears — there was Astral Projection, Man With No Name, probably even early Yahel. These guys took me into Trance, and here I am now.
You know it’s really funny as like everybody that gets into Trance either by one of those names that you mentione, I’ve started with Astral. I think there is something magical about trip to outer space with this music.
We were limited in information in that times, so of course if we could find anything it was on weight of gold.
It is! And you know Daniel, I was thinking about it, including of those guys, they had to do a lot of analog, not the digital stuff that we have now.
Not only in terms of production, but also in terms of communication with audience, it was much harder that these days we have Facebook and other things. You can chat with different continents and countries with no problem.
Astral Projecttion’s Mahadeva — one of the first Goa track that hook me up
You’re right! Okay, so you get into Trance, and when did you feel „Okay I gotta start doing something more here, I have to create my own music“?
I was a lucky kid, and in the age of twelwe I’ve got my Yamaha synthesizer, actually a keyboard. But it enough for me to get started with compose something and experiments. I never had an intent or never tried to release something, didn’t had an ambitions. I just played around, while some other kids played football outside, I played with my keys. It was about the process, not the result. Tweaking and this sort of stuff, that it was all about.
And when did you feel „Wow, I can make a song, I’m actually do this“?
That was at the teenage, it was like „wow I can make a song“!. But looking back at these days I realize it wasn’t even a song, just a kick or some simple sound, I though that was huge. Seriously I came into profession much more later.
Alright. And how did you feel when your first track got picked up by a label? That must be a great feeling?
Yes it is! Actually before that, when I realize that I want to connect music with my life, being more than just a listener and I want to go deeper into profession, I went to a music production school to level-up my skills. And as the resuls my first track „Contact“ was born — I did it for the final exam for graduation — and later it was releases on Ovnimoon Records as my debut track.
Yeah and it wasn’t just any label. That a great label! That’s really impressive Daniel. You one of those guys who really study, put your heard into this and doing on a professional manner. And not only that, but you’ve developed your very unique sound for your productions. Do you feel it is hard now to have an original sound with all that producers these days?
I couldn’t say it’s hard, probably not the right word. Originallity came inside, how I developed into music. Even the genres I listened before, like Progressive Trance and even Hardcore which I’ve listened as a kid. it’s all about the experience which I get during the life. Originality it’s not about tweaking the sound, it goes deeper to your personality. I wouldn’t say it’s hard, it’s just came to you during the life.
I guess it’s hard from the listeners perspective cause there is so much competition all around. And I’m trying to say „when I heard this guy song, or production, or a track, whatever, — that’s him“. So when I buy a track of his, I’m expecting this. The cool thing Daniel, you’ve not only that, but you’ve also steered away from some usual stuff. I remember recently, in the beginning of the year, you released a couple of tracks on JOOF, and they weren’t really Trance, they are more like Progressive. Tells a little bit about that experience, do you really like doing a slower tempo stuff?
I do what I like to do, I think it’s the most important thing, and I don’t want to sit in the borders of a one genre. In the end it will be just boring if I will make like 5 years long the same things, with same BPM. I wouldn not develop as a person if I will do the same things all the time. So yes, I like and I do experiment from time to time, I call it „to go out of comfort zone“. The music I usually produce, the PsyTrance trance, it’s my comfort zone. I know the kick, I know the bass, so it’s pretty easy already when I do it. But the other tracks, like that one „Life Simulation“ on JOOF, it was absolutely new experience. It was much harder because it was my „non-comfort zone“ if you know what I mean.
Yeah I can understand, I guess when you’ve done it so many times in the genre, you already know what the basic structure gonna be and you already have the sounds.
Yes exactly! When you do a little experiment, like in that tracks, you have to do everything from skratch. From kick to bassline, from hats to the whole structure and idea, you have to everything from blank page. And that’s much harder but it pays off, I believe. It gives you much more experience from producing one track in another genre, rather than a five tracks in genre you’ve already produced before. It’s like a personal level-up.
That’s really great Daniel, and it leads us to the next question: how do you feel working with labels like JOOF and Digital Om? All those label which picked you up, they give great support and you even doing some A&R stuff. How do feel working with these guys?
Honestly, I’ve honoured to with these labels and these people. Personally I’m a huge fan of JOOF Recordings since 2006 I guess, and furthmore I’m a fan of mr. Fleming as he guides me through the music, like an example of DJ in the best meaning. So I’m trully honored to work with these people. And also Digital Om, it instantly caught my ears with „Universal Religion“ compilation I heard last year. It absolutely gorgeous and I believe this label doing the best, probably on of the best in Progressive and Psychedelic scene.
Yeah it’s very „selective“ label as I’d like to call it, they pick up really well.
Yes, and they do care about the sound quality and even cover artworks. I appreciate it.
Now let’s talk about the artwork, because it brings me up to another thing. Usually a lot of the things in PsyTrance scene have to do with hallucidenics stuff. But what I like in your production Daniel, that you mostly focus on the Space things, it’s like listening to great music and watching documentaries. You really are into the Space and science fictions stuff, I was wondering to ask you — any books, writers, movie makers that you’ve always liked?
First of I’d like to say about the drugs and all this stuff. Of course the both worlds of Psychedelic music and drugs live together, for some reason, but I don’t believe it’s right. There is a world of music and there is a world of drugs. Some people do like to mix. You can absolutely enjoy the music with any additional stuff. And about the space, I can’t name you exact autors or writers or films that inspired me, as I fascinated by the Cosmos in general. Sometimes I can read an article on Wikipedia and get inspired to a new track, so it doesn’t have to be a book or something like this. For example, the album „Chronicles Of The Universe“ was completely based on facts. I believe we are as the humans have focus more on interstellar exploration.
Well yeah it’s one of those things that astronomy leads you from one world to another, and I guess it gives you a perspective on how small and meaningless we are comparing to the vast universe out there.
Fascinated by the Cosmos
It’s a really great point. One of the tracks I’ve been played a lot is „Ignition“ from your last EP. I like „Another Earth“ too, but Ignition is a bit more punchier and it have that Goa-thing. You’re doing so well Daniel with this modern sound yet with oldschool feel without going overboard. How do you feel about that last EP, where you going for?
Personally I very satisfied with the outcome of this EP, I like a little bit new sound that I’m trying to push. Yes as you’ve mentioned I have some oldschool vibes combined with a modern tech stuff, and that’s how I do at this moment.
You are very selective about your sound samples of your tracks. I was always wondering „which movie does this guy watch, where did he get all those samples“. I like the Ignition’s one because it’s not only the takeoff, there is an approach and it talks about the counting things like „we’re five clicks away“ or something. So it’s really good and makes a nice build up, you always surprise a listeners and build more tension. You think it’s hard now to get an atmospheric track in Psychedelic trance? What I’m trying to say is some times we tend to confuse listeners atmospheric with a lot of effects, and they doesn’t do the same things.
I wouldn’t say it’s hard, but atmospheric track for me it’s about the effects or even the pad/strings sounds. Atmospheric it’s having a story inside a track. Like you said in „Ignition“, when you listening to it, you can imagine how the things are going right inside the track. It’s like reading a book. That is what atmospheric tracks for me and that’s what I’m trying to achieve in every track.
Do you plans ahead when you producing a track?
I couldn’t it’s a plan, but definitely I have a some sort of picture in my head when I start to producing a track. For example, I set myself some restrictions. I can’t create a some track, it have to be a very specific. For instance, „this track have to be with a tribal voices, around 135-136 BPM, with a long breakdown, with some acid sounds“. And during the production I’m trying to not go over this restrictions.
Another Earth — the latest EP on Digital Om Productions, featuring track „Ignition“
Oh man, that’s interesting! One of the other things that you do, and I wanted to ask about this, is how did you came up with the idea of the blog? You one of the guys out there who put out a bunch of articles of how you do things in your career music wise. Not only in production, but how you handle yourself. What was the idea behind it?
When I’m tried to find some information as being a beginner , and I couldn’t because for some reason artists are not the people who share it. So I’ve decided — why not? It’s a not a secret formula of success, and I’ll share this stuff and I don’t make more „competitors“ around me. So yes, I do share information whatever it’s music production or organization stuff. Some people think „I will become a super star and then I will share my success“. Obviously I’m a not a super star yet, but I do share my experience during the move, during the my way up.
That’s very generous of you, and it’s true. I mean, I guess a lot of artists believe if they share their secrets, well the other people will follow and will be more succesfull. That’s pretty strange.
I will be just happy If more people will be more successfull based on my advices.
Yes exactly! People afraid, but you can’t copy an original.
Also I’ve noticed that running a blog makes your mind much more organized. It especially good when you learning something. You can always go back to your own notes and read it back, it absolutely great.
One of the thing that you’ve wrote about is mixing. Your style of mixing is very unique. It tend to do long mixes, blending the basslines, because you do it harmonics. You do it very progressive, like a way of Sasha back to the undergroud days. You can’t start when one track started and another ended. In PsyTrance it even a little bit harder because it have a breakdown every 64 bars or so. How did you came up with doing this, is it came up naturally?
Thanks Rob. I think I’m more like a traditional DJ in this way, like building an atmosphe not only inside each track, but also as entire mix as a journey. So I’m kinda olschool’ish in whis way. Artists who basically started their career as a DJs, for instance like John 00 Fleming or Sasha as you’ve mentioned.
What comes up from you in the future? Some tracks ready to go?
Yes absolutely, I have a lot of tracks to go. For instance collaboration with Cosmithex, pretty much long-awaited. Probably you have a teaser I have previously shared. It will be spiced up with a couple of gorgeous remixes. And also I have few more remixes and EPs coming up, but I cannot share details at this moment.
Can you share the labels?
Sure, it’s one for JOOF, one for Digital Om, and one for new the label I haven’t been released there yet.
Daniel you never stop!
It wouldn’t be me if I’b stopped.
Yes! And again it’s an honour for us to have you here, I know you’re pretty busy. So I appreciate your time and I’m proud of this podcast that I do showcaing Progressive PsyTrance.
Thank you Rob, your words are very appreciated and I very appreciate your questions, great interview.
Wish you nothing but the best, thank you man!
Thank you for having me tonight!