The world of Trance never sounded so good. Our guy from Cali just killing it with ‘Erhu’
Interview : Dan Prince
Mr Chen welcome to DMCWORLD, where in the world are you right now?
“Hi Dan, back in my studio in Irvine, California after a long tour in Australia and Japan!”
Well you have done it again young man, a massive new track sending shock waves around the globe. This time it’s the wicked ‘Erhu’ that’s smashing up dancefloors, talk us through the tune that has got everyone’s attention thanks to this wonderful two stringed Chonese musical instrument…
“I’ve always loved the Erhu and the way it sounded. It’s beautiful and emotional and I wanted to modernize this instrument into trance music. It’s something original that’s never been done before, and I wanted to showcase that while keeping an Asian-influenced sound into the song.”
Does this record contain the biggest drop you have ever created?
“Yeah, it’s one of the biggest! I wanted to take the listener on a beautiful melodic journey with the Erhu, then go really heavy with the drop.”
What was your first reaction to ‘Erhu’ on completion. Did you leave it alone and come back to listen to it, or did you know you had created something pretty special immediately?
“I knew it was something special because the emotions were there. This track is something I’ve always wanted to do and when I played it out live, there were huge reactions right away so I knew the song was special.”
You are in the middle of your new album, last count was 8 tracks finished, 5 to go. What can you tell us about the direction on this long player?
“The album is like my baby and I want to push the limits of trance music so it’s really special to me. Each track is very personal, so I want to send people on a journey and hope that they can see the emotions and creativity behind the songs that I have made, and the stories behind them.”
DMC are of course the organisers of the World DJ Championships which has brought us legends such as A-Trak, DJ Noise, Cash Money…and DJQert – one of the mighty Invisible Scratch Pickles, a team of invincible turntablists who releases a video that you bought to help teach you some of the tricks of the trade back in the day. Some people may find it surprising a trance DJ was interested in a predominately hip hop sound for tips?
“When I started out, I was interested in just scratching so the first VHS tape that I bought was by The Invisibl Skratch Piklz, and eventually that led to more mixing and ultimately producing my own music. It was good introduction to the art of turntablism.”
What do you think are your finest qualities as a producer?
“I think being a producer is hard because you have to be original and have your own sound since there is so much good music out there. I feel like I have my own signature sound that people appreciate and I’m always pushing the boundaries of trance. I never limit myself to the definition of what trance is supposed to be.”
You play many musical instruments, was this something your parents pushed you to learn or was it a genuine love of music that saw you learn them all?
“When I was younger I played a lot of musical instruments like the piano, violin, drums, and guitar and my parents were very supportive, being Asian parents. I learned most of it by myself just being interested in playing these musical instruments and it definitely helped me as far as my producing.”
What is the current top 10 you are spinning?
1. Shogun – Erhu
2. Dash Berlin feat. C. Novelli – Jar Of Hearts
3. Zedd – Clarity
4. One Republic vs. Alesso – Lose Myself
5. Tiesto – Adagio For Strings
6. Armin van Buuren – Beautiful Life
7. Above & Beyond – Mariana Trench
8. Porter Robinson – Language
9. Paul van Dyk feat. Plumb – I Don’t Deserve You
10. Shogun – Lotus
True or false : One time at a party the firefighters arrived to close the party down due to noise complaints…and ended up staying at partying until the end!
You celebrated your birthday this year in Tokyo whilst on your previously mentioned Asia / Australia Tour. What were some of the highlights of that trip?
“The tour was great, I played to a lot of big crowds and got to celebrate my birthday at the same time. Tokyo is a magical place and the Australian fans are always full of energy and life.”
Where are some of the DJ dates in your 2014 diary that you are especially looking forward to?
“I’m looking forward to Zouk again and also Argentina, it’s always crazy there. Also playing home in LA is always special.”
You shot up again the DJ100 Poll last year, congratulations. You are big buddies with most of the big producers in the trance scene, now be honest. Do you all chat about the 100 wondering where people are going to hit or is it not that important to you?
“It’s not that important personally because numbers don’t justify an artist’s talent, but on the other hand, it’s a tool for promoters and clubs to follow, so it can be important business-wise. Position isn’t as important as long as you’re still booking gigs and filling up clubs, which most trance DJs are! The call for trance shows is bigger than ever.”
How do you chill out away from the studio, how do you take your mind off music?
“I like to a lot of relaxing chill out music, and eat good food. After a long tour it’s great to go back to your own bed and just relax with loved ones. I also enjoy playing some video games.”
Can you try and put it into words the first time you heard ‘Communication’ by Gouryella and Armin van Buuren…
“A friend played this track for me and it completely changed my outlook on music. Before, I was into more industrial, like NIN, Prodigy, etc. After hearing the melodies in trance, I knew that’s what I wanted to spin and produce and have ever since. Now to be part of Armin’s label Armada is a dream come true.”
Tell us about your studio set up…
“My studio is all digital now and I use a lot of soft synths and plugins to produce. I also have some Star Wars figurines for the geeky side of me.”
Who are some of the producers from around the world you are giving high fives to right now?
“Dash Berlin, Armin, W & W, Tritonal…”
And finally, what is coming out next from you studio wise?
“I’m focused on my album now so expect a lot more originals. There’s gonna be big instrumentals like Erhu and also massive vocals anthems.”