The producer who helped to bring quality tunes such as Pulser's Cloudwalking, Insigma's Open Your Eyes, more recently, his remixes of Matt Darey's Beautiful as well as the massive Jose Amnesia The Eternal speaks to i:Vibes about his past, present and future.
Andy Perring, part of the production teams Insigma, Olmec Heads, Pulser, Trinity Project, which has caused some of the biggest stirs in the dance music industry, having plays from everyone from Paul van Dyk, Oakenfold, Digweed, up to even Sven Vath. His productions and remixes have always been of the highest quality, and his more recent remixes of Jose Amnesia’s “The Eternal” has brought back one of the biggest classics of all time. Pulser – Cloudwalking was definitely one of the most awesome tracks featured on Gatecrasher ever, and it is one of the most sought after vinyls in the world.
Here, Andy talks about his latest projects, and what is to come in 2002.
Hi there Andy, thanks for taking the time to speak to us, first of all;
Tell us a bit about your background & how you came into the dance scene.
Andy:Since school I was always playing with music and computers. I used to make excuses to not see my girlfriend so I could go and play with my sequencer. I was totally into Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, New Order etc. and spent all the time annoying my parents with weird noises and thumping kick drums.
I remember hearing ‘Grace’s’ – Not Over Yet and thinking ‘That’s what I’ve got to do’. It took me years to send out my first demos and I was lucky to get a break almost immediately.
One of my CD’s made it into the hands of top producer Brian Higgins, who was behind Xenomania. They were responsible for a lot of big dance hits in the 90’s.
I was invited to their studio to try out as a programmer working on some Dannii Minogue tracks. It was a bit short lived, as I didn’t know their computer software so couldn’t really do much for them but being in that environment really gave me the enthusiasm to try doing some my own tracks.
I met up with Westy who was working at my local Music Technology store and we decided to pool our limited resources and make some music.
We started sending out ‘The Olmec Heads’ demos in 1997 and got a deal with UK/German label Colourbox within days.
I think it was pure coincidence that the type of music I was writing was becoming mainstream and getting airplay on radio 1. I don’t think we were aware of the emerging trance scene; we never went clubbing so it was a pleasant shock to hear that our type of music was breaking through and us with it.
Things really started to happen when a friend of ours (Mark Gardener) gave Paul Oakenfold a CD of our tracks. He just kept playing them, it was a massive buzz for me to hear the top man playing my productions and it really started to open doors for us.
How about your likes and dislikes in terms of music? In general?
Andy:I’m not into all that ‘Trance is dead, Hard House is dead, Techno is the big new thing….blah, blah, blah’ Bollocks that magazines seem to write all the time. If people want to go and listen to a 12 hr Tanaglia set they should be able to do so without someone saying they should just because its seen as a cool thing to do.
Credit people with some intelligence and let them make their own minds up. There’s room for everything! The greatest thing about dance music is that it never stands still, It evolves and although Trance/Prog/Techno/whatever might not be in the media spotlight, its not dead or uncool its definitely still there and getting better every year.
I try and stick to that way of thinking. I’ve made Trance for years because it’s my favourite type of music. Trance wasn’t the flavour last year but so what? I know if you go to any club there is always the demand to have a good time, that’s what Trance is all about!
I think one thing is certain; 2002 will be a good year for the clubs and a massive year for Trance!
Where are you at now? In terms of your music, your life, your style of play
Andy:I’m writing, remixing and playing out a lot. It feels like I’m starting to get noticed more as a solo artist and not just as one half of the Olmec Heads. I left the Olmec Heads nearly 2 years ago but now I’m busier than ever. My schedule is full, I’m enjoying every minute and just happy to still be here doing what I love.
I don’t really care if I become a ‘Big Name’ or not. I just love making and playing the music. It’s the best job in the world.
You've worked quite extensively with Steve Helstrip who under the Thrillseekers guise has brought out quite a few beautiful gems, how did that relationship come about and what is there to come from this relationship in 2002?
Andy:I met Steve when we were recording the second Olmec Heads track (Lift Off) in 1998. He was working for a studio near my home and as we didn’t have much in the way of equipment they very kindly let us use the facilities. (Well, actually we kicked him out for the day. I must remember to apologise sometime)
We’re very similar in our musical tastes obviously and we get on great as mates. We always seem to be doing the same sort of thing at the same time. We signed to the same label (Neo); we started DJing about the same time and were always on the phone like a pair of ‘geeks’ talking about studio equipment or records. When we get the time we write tracks together as ‘Insigma’. (There has only been 3 in 3 years so you can see how busy we are).
We’ve also just spent a mad week in Japan Djing together for the first time. It helps to have good friends in this business especially when travelling.
You produce under various guises; Olmecheads, Insigma, and Pulser to name a few. Is there any significance to the different aliases? Such as music style, direction or other?
Andy:The different names come about through working with other people. There’s not much point producing something that sounds just like one of you own tracks.
If each project has a uniqueness, its due to the cross over of styles, both musical and production.
Everybody I have worked with does things slightly different and its great when you put all that knowledge and experience together. One of the greatest feelings is when your in the studio working on a track and you click with the other person(s). It’s a massive buzz!
Working solo can be very difficult and can send you mad especially if you get caught in a loop or haven’t any ideas, that’s why its good to collaborate sometimes.
What do you rate as your favourite own productions/remixes, and what are the records that never leave your record box?
Andy:That’s a tough one! I usually have a hard time appreciating my own remixes/singles because I know them too well. It’s only when I hear another DJ play one of them and see a crowd’s reaction that I get enthusiastic.
I think my best remixes are probably: José Amnesia – The Eternal and GoldenScan – Sunrise (which features my girlfriend’s voice). I always keep ‘Spiritualised’ and ‘Open Our Eyes’ in the box but I’ve never played ‘Cloudwalking’ out (yet!)
My favourite own track has to be spiritualised. It’s what put me on the map. I didn’t like Ijà – ‘Atlantic Shores’ when I did it but I think its great now, I might even revamp it for Ibiza. Its pure summer! Probably the coolest thing I’ve done is ‘The Trinity Project’; one of the tracks ‘Mindgate’ got caned at Twilo in NYC before it got shut down. It didn’t sell many but the fact that it was played there more than made up for it.
I haven’t been a DJ for long so I’m trying a lot of different tracks out. You can usually find ID&T, Cyber, Perfecto, Blackhole and ATCR/Activation (of course) tunes in my bag and the odd ‘everyone’s playing it’ anthem.
At the moment I’m playing a lot of tuff European, percussion led tunes with dark synths and evil basslines (they’re probably all produced by M.I.K.E???) but there are loads of great melodic tracks coming through which I’m going to start trying out.
2002 seems to be a big year for you, with a few upcoming surprises, can you give us a little preview as to whats to come? in terms of your productions
Andy:Yes it’s looking very good this year. I worked hard in the studio during 2001 so I’ve got a lot of tracks ready. I’m just putting the finishing touches to my new ‘Pulser’ single, which will be out sometime before the summer. It’s called ‘Into The Light’ and I’m testing it out over the next couple of months. Its not got vocals yet but I’ve written the lyric, which is a first for me.
I’ve also been producing for a new act called ‘Sacred’. The first track called ‘Waiting for You’ has just been signed and is being currently being remixed by a couple of big names. I wrote it with Danny Kirsch whose name you might recognize from Lange’s recent big hit ‘Drifting Away’.
Talking of which, Lange and myself spent some time in the studio late last year writing a couple of different sounding tracks. We’re putting a few white labels out in March. It’s a big departure from our usual stuff so we’re just treating it as a bit of fun. I won’t reveal what it’s called because we don’t want it to get played just because of our names. We want to see if it is as different as we think and what DJ’s will play it (if any?).
2002 is also looking good for ‘Insigma’; we have just finished the vocal version of ‘Open Our Eyes’ so look out for it!
You haven't really been a big name in the international dj circuit except for your residency at Illusions in Finland and a couple of set gigs in the UK. Are there bigger plans for your Djing this year and where do you want to play at? Where is the best party you've played at?
Andy:Djing was never a priority for me so I limited my dates to the clubs/gig’s I really wanted to play.
I spent a couple of years playing live with ‘The Olmec Heads’ and I missed the interaction with clubbers. The thing I don’t miss is having to take the studio to piece’s every time you play out, so Djing is really my way of getting back out there without so much hassle.
The Illusions thing is very informal, I try and get over to Finland as much as I can and support their emerging scene. There are some great clubs there; it could so easily become Ibiza with snow.
I recently signed with a great agent who is getting bookings for me all over the world. I played a couple of times in Japan which was fantastic, I’m playing in Canada in March as well as a couple of dates in Finland and have bookings at some of the big festivals this summer.
The best gig I’ve played to date has to be at last summers ‘Illusions’ in Helsinki. I went over with Lange and played a very late Saturday/Sunday morning party. The venue had a retractable roof, which they opened to let in the sunshine. It was amazing, almost spiritual.
Where would I like to play? Everywhere! I’ve not really touched the UK/Ibiza/USA/Holland/Germany/ etc. yet so I’m really looking forward to playing everywhere I can.
It’s the clubbers who make it so enjoyable so wherever there are up-for-it party people I’ll be happy to play for them.
Insigma - Open Your Eyes, and Pulser - Cloudwalking are sometimes argued to be 2 of the biggest trance tunes ever, but yet there have not been significant retail releases; will there be plans to re-release any of your old tunes?
Andy:It’s hard to ever see your own tracks in the same way everyone else does and strange when you get emails and letters from people trying desperately to find your records because they love them. It does makes you feel fantastic though; knowing you have connected with someone on that level.
OYE and Cloudwalking have had massive support and still get it from big name DJ’s and clubbers.
Cloudwalking only had a small quantity released and that is why it’s so sought after. I’ve even had offers of $100 or more for my copy, which I don’t have anymore. I gave it to Tiesto for one of his Magik compilations.
I can reveal that ‘Cloudwalking’ is going to come out again very soon with some great new mixes. Although I’ve moved on a lot in my own production style since I wrote Cloudwalking I’m happy to see it back again (at least I’ll have a copy to play).
Insigma has just got a new vocal and a great remix (by ‘Chiller Twist) and it’s also getting a proper release later this year.
Something that we ask all the artists and Dj’s, is what you think of mp3s and the digital format, and whether it poses a significant threat to artists alike around the world
Andy:I’m in two minds about this. When I release a track on vinyl its mainly bought by DJ’s so it shouldn’t really harm sales. I do think there should be some kind of copy restriction on mass released music because as musicians/producers this is our day job and it’s stealing our income. However there is a major plus side as it enables more people to hear your music, its also great way of airing new talent. I’ve found a couple of tracks on the net, which I might even sign to my label. (Activation)
Any particular DJs you admire? Or consider to be the biggest talent on earth? Any up-and-coming DJs you have your sights on?
Andy:I’ve always respected Paul Oakenfold’s ‘lead by example’ way of doing things. He is a great ambassador for dance music and helps a lot of new talent through including myself. He’s always influenced what I do and he is who I look to, to see where the scene is going. He’s one of the few DJ’s you can label as unique and I have nothing but respect for him.
There are so many good DJ’s now but there are a few who I really love listening to: Jason Bye, I saw him a few times in Ibiza and he was inspiring. Tiesto, I don’t need to say anything, he’s just great. And a guy called ‘Tab’, he’s a big DJ in Finland and I think he will soon come through the ranks as a major player in the rest of Europe.
Who would you like to work with in the near future? Singer? Producer?
Andy:I’m already fortunate enough to have worked and continue working with 2 of the best trance producers in the world (Steve Helstrip and Lange). They are both good friends and I totally respect their work.
I’d quite happily get in the studio with Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, M.I.K.E or Ferry Corsten, but who wouldn’t.
Singers: I’d love to get Dominique Atkins (Grace) on one of my records, as she is still one of my all time favourite vocalists. Ultimately I’d love to produce for Depeche Mode or Madonna (But that’s never gonna happen is it?)
Where do you see the trance sound headed this year, and are you going to stick with that? Or go off on a tangent
Andy:I’ll always play around with other styles for my own amusement but Trance always comes first!
I think 2002 will see the return of the melody, those euphoric feelings we all experienced in ’99 and clubbers having fun again.
Progressive house has really dominated the last couple of years, which was cool, as it gave everyone time to recover from ’99 and the Millennium but club-goers are remembering the good stuff and they’re hungry for it again!
Anything else you want to add to this or mention? Just in general?
Andy:The new Pulser website will be up and running by mid-late March with all the latest info, DJ dates and exclusive audio clips of the new material:
I’d like to say thanks to everyone for supporting my productions over the last few years and hopefully I will see some of you out and about soon!
i:Vibes thanks one of the top producers of this world, and wishes Andy the best of luck for 2002 and beyond! Keep it up mate!