i:Vibes has had a chat with Steve Helstrip, the man behind the legendary Thrillseekers! Read on to find out what he had to say when we asked him about his new production, the lastest installment in his Night Music series, private jets and more...!
Ever since the release of ‘Synaesthesia’ in 1999, Steve Helstrip has been one of the hottest and innovative trance producers on earth. It doesn’t matter if he released tracks as The Thrillseekers, Rapid Eye, En Motion, Hydra or Insigma, each track has had its own special quality and many ravers could probably recall a club experience where one of his tracks was played. It is now the eighth year that he has been producing breathtaking trance music and there are surely numerous ravers across the world that include one of his productions to their all time favourite tracks. As The Thrillseekers, he also released beautiful tunes like ‘Dreaming Of You’, ‘New Life’ and ‘By Your Side’ (in which Frankfurt native Martin Roth received great positive feedback for his remix). With his buddy and ATCR boss Tim Stark, he started the project Rapid Eye and had club anthems like ‘Circa Forever’, ‘Stealing beauty’ and ‘Santa Cruz’. With Andy ‘Pulsar’ Perring he brought the project Insigma into the trance community and had huge monster hits with ‘Open Your Eyes’ in 2001, a track that was played to death by Paul Van Dyk and ‘Avalon’. He also has the project En Motion, where he released ‘The Truth’, which Paul van Dyk played at Mayday and the very dreamy ‘Getting Away With It’. He also fascinated the dance scene with the track ‘Affinity’ in 2002 as Hydra. In 2004 he started his own label Adjusted, which releases tracks at a constant rate. Some of his big releases were ‘Safe To Dream’ by Russian act Evolve and ‘Alone Again’ by transatlantic duo Deep Voices. He has been touring the world as a DJ for many years. Some of his biggest club addresses have been The Ministry, GodsKitchen, The Gallery, PaSSion, Gatecrasher and The Technoclub in Germany. In the next months, he will visit countries like USA, Turkey, China and Argentina. In the past few years, his productions have become rarer, but the quality has remained top class. In 2007, he released the very dreamy ‘Waiting Here For You’, which was accompanied by the lovely Aruna, plus a strong remix by Breakfast. His ‘Night Music Vol. 2’ was received with a lot of praise. It has been a year since his last single release and he is about ready to release his new single ‘The Last Time’ featuring Fisher as well as ‘Night Music Vol. 3’. i:Vibes had the chance to have a chat with Steve Helstrip…
i:Vibes: Hi Steve, how are you doing? It has been a year since we last spoke during the release of ‘Waiting Here For You’ and ‘Night Music Vol. 3’. What have been your highs and lows in the last year?
Steve Helstrip: Hi - I’m doing great, thanks! Let’s start with the low point, so I can end on a positive one! My label’s distributor, Amato, went into liquidation last year, which had a huge effect on the scene. Many labels, including my own, took a huge financial hit, and it threw the whole future of physical releases for smaller labels into question. Luckily we (Adjusted Music) weathered the storm, but many labels folded. It was terrible informing the artists that appeared on Night Music 2 (and other releases) that they wouldn’t be getting any royalties, which they rely on to continue their work.
One of the biggest highlights for me was losing my phone in Denmark, only to have it found and returned! Bloody marvellous! This was offset, though, by losing 2 iPods, 3 pairs of headphones and disc 6 of my boxed set of Prison Break series 2 earlier in the year! Oh shit, wasn’t I supposed to be finishing on a positive note?!
i:Vibes: Last year, you had problems with hearing loss. Have you recuperated from this problem?
Steve Helstrip: Incredibly, yes. It’s almost as though my brain has adapted to the loss and now compensates in some way. I hardly ever notice my tinnitus anymore, which haunted me for months.
i:Vibes: You have been very quiet on the production front in the last year. Is their a particular reason why you are not producing as much as in previous years? Is being a dad to Eva taking a higher priority than trance music?
Steve Helstrip: Ha! Well, that will always be the case, but that’s not the reason. Recovering, or adjusting to the hearing loss took many months. I couldn’t work through this period, as music only aggravated the symptoms. It also left me pretty down for a while, which isn’t ideal when you need to be creative. I’m firing on all cylinders now, though, so lots to come.
i:Vibes: When you went into the studio in preparation for the new single, did you have any idea in what direction you wanted to go in or did you just start experimenting in the studio with sounds?
Steve Helstrip: I wrote 4 or 5 tracks before I started on ‘The Last Time’. I wasn’t really happy with them, then one night I started work on what was to become ‘The Last Time’ and had it pretty much finished within 2 days. Fisher went to work on the vocal and we finished it off over the following 2 weeks.
i:Vibes: Your new single is called ‘The Last Time’ featuring Fisher. What is this track about and what was the inspiration behind the track?
Steve Helstrip: Kathy told me just yesterday that the lyrics are about God. The inspiration for the track itself came from the sounds I just happened to stumble across that 1st night in the studio.
i:Vibes: Soundwise the track reminds me a little bit of the style of your remix of ‘Can You Feel’ by Sholan. Do you ever think about your older works when trying to create a new single for new inspiration?
Steve Helstrip: I think I just like a particular sound, so certain noises tend to creep back into my productions. I don’t consciously think of old tunes when working on new ones, though.
i:Vibes: How was the studio work with ‘The Last Time’? You obviously spent a lot of time working on this track. How much did you have to bleed with this track and what was the most difficult thing in getting the sound the way you wanted to?
Steve Helstrip: Actually, it all happened very quickly by my standards! As usual for me, there were over 100 separate audio tracks in the final arrangement; mostly subtle percussion and vocal effects, and so on. The most difficult thing was staying awake through the long nights to get it finished!
i:Vibes: What was it like working with Fisher? What did you like most about the vocals and what did the voice give the track?
Steve Helstrip: The voice gives the track identity, which is why I prefer to work on vocal tracks. I just love Kathy’s voice, so it was a joy to work with her.
i:Vibes: What remixes can we expect with ‘The Last Time’?
Steve Helstrip: Hot package to be announced soon!
i:Vibes: ‘Waiting Here For You’ is one of my favourite tracks in the last years. The atmosphere is just breathtaking. For me, you really accomplished producing a track that I have absolutely not have got bored of in the last 12 months. What has been the nicest compliment you have received about this track since its release?
Steve Helstrip: I think it just came from you! Thanks very much!
i:Vibes: You are also about to release ‘Night Music Vol. 3’. How difficult was it again selecting the right track list?
Steve Helstrip: It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without a picture for reference, but you can choose which tracks, to some degree, that you want to use. There are occasions where you really want to use a certain track, but musically it doesn’t fit, so you look for something that does, that makes sense and keeps things interesting. I found a few tracks that worked brilliantly, but due to industry politics I couldn’t use them. So, it’s challenging, but fun at the same time.
i:Vibes: The first CD is called Fast Forward with the hottest new tracks that will be released in the next six months. What track could become the summer hit of 2008?
Steve Helstrip: For me it’s Solarstone’s ‘4Ever’. I’ll never get bored of Rich’s sound and melodies.
i:Vibes: The new Breakfast track ‘Take Me Back’ is on the CD. Casey did a spectacular remix for ‘Waiting Here For you’. You seem to be a quiet fan of him. You don’t usually do collaborations, but have you ever thought of making a track with him?
Steve Helstrip: That’s not a bad idea! I’ll drop him a line... Casey, you up for a collab?
i:Vibes: The second CD is called rewind, which features your favourite tracks that you have played in the last 12 months. What is your favourite track of the last year on CD2?
Steve Helstrip: That’s a tricky one, but I’m going to go with Tiesto Pres. Allure Ft. Julie Thompson - Somewhere Inside (Andy Duguid Mix). Julie’s voice is just incredible, and her part in the second breakdown sends me into meltdown every time I hear it.
i:Vibes: The trance sound has really developed in the last 12 months getting influences from all kinds of musical sounds. Where do you see the Trance sound going in the next 12 months?
Steve Helstrip: I get asked this a lot, but I don’t really have the answer. So many people are trying different things. Some stick, some don’t. For me, I’m not that interested in fads, or trends. I just like to make music that I’m feeling without trying to be too different.
i:Vibes: Soon you will be celebrating your ten year anniversary since ‘Synaesthesia’. How have you developed as a producer? You obviously never lost your melodic roots!
Steve Helstrip: It’s all about melody and emotion for me. While I love to play hard and techie, I don’t get any satisfaction out of making that kind of music. How have I developed? Well, I think my productions sound a lot more polished now than they did 10 years ago. As for writing BIG tunes, someone told me they come around every 10 years, so watch out for a massive one to land soon… ;-)
i:Vibes: ‘Synaesthesia’ is obviously your most famous track. However if you had to choose one of your own tracks, which name has surfaced the most after the legendary ‘Synaesthesia’?
Steve Helstrip: It’s probably Insigma - Open Our Eyes or Hydra - Affinity.
i:Vibes: It has been nearly four years since you visited the legendary Technoclub to DJ with Talla 2XLC. Why don’t you give Talla a call about visiting again? Germany just doesn’t get enough good international Trance DJs!
Steve Helstrip: Yeah, it seems trance has dived in Germany. Last time I played there (2006) they just didn’t get it. A techno DJ came on after me, pushed the pitch to +12 and the room went nuts, and all he was playing was a kick drum. Later a hi-hat came in and the crowd went off again.
i:Vibes: England didn’t make the Euro 2008 tournament. How sad are you about that and who do you think will win the Euro Championship?
Steve Helstrip: I haven’t got a clue to be honest! I’m not really into football that much. Who’s your money on??
i:Vibes: In the last interview, you said your goal was to be able to fly to gigs in your own private jet. How soon will that become a reality?
Steve Helstrip: Ha! Well, I’m working on that. I’d like to think maybe next year, or the year after!
i:Vibes: Thanks Steve for the interview and thank you for your beautiful music!!!!
Steve Helstrip: My pleasure as always – thanks!