A message to Airbase fans
First some background. After signing Emotion to Alphabet City in 2001, things happened quickly. Within the next couple of years I had released more singles and made more remixes than I can keep track of. The trance scene was booming and I was churning out music like a machine. The momentum kept me going for many years, and only momentarily was writers block an issue. The scene exploded, so many great new artists popped up, seemingly amazing producers from day one. I know intellectually that I should’ve focused on my own work and not care so much about others, but I failed. I started comparing myself and my work to those of others. Combined with the high expectations I have on myself I almost always ended up unhappy with my own performance. This spiraled into a long period of writers block that I’ve now realized I've never really fully come out of.
For the last five years, I’ve released about one single per year. Compare that to 2004, when I churned out 10 singles and 9 remixes in one year. In my opinion, the releases of the last couple of years are some of my best work. The fight with writers block combined with comparisons to the competition has made me throw away a hundred ideas before I push through with one idea good enough to make it to the finish line. It’s a heavy burden, but I still love it when I finish something I’m truly proud of. Where I’ve actually fought my own creative demons and won.
I’ve come to realize I put a lot less pressure on myself when experimenting with anything that is not trance (like with Togarashi and Ufony). Perhaps because I’m doing something where I don’t know what I’m competing against or even where I’m going with it. You can never go wrong or be late when you don’t have a defined destination. It’s like hobby stuff as a side hobby to my usual hobby. Music to me has always been a hobby, I've made it because it's been fun. And it has taken me around the world to amazing events and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people that appreciate my work. It’s the best feeling ever when people like what you do. But as soon as the labels, the fans and my own expectations demand from me to deliver more and better (or sometimes more of the same), I kind of creatively lock up.
Since being a little dormant in this business for a while, I’ve also realized that even though times in the studio can be really tough when you’re creatively blocked, I still miss DJ-ing. A very strange thing to say for someone like me, an introvert nerd with stage fright. But performing is addictive. So to not lose my DJ-ing skills, I’ve kitted my home with a brand new Pioneer DJ setup for casual mixing for the fun of it and to keeping my skills up to snuff and also learn new tricks and opportunities of truly digital DJ-ing.
A funny thing happened when I started DJ-ing again. I stumbled across the weird EDM/reggaeton hybrid genre Moombahton. Just about the last genre I’d expect to find interest in. It’s slow paced, latin infused and annoyingly chaotic, but also tremendously full of energy and bass. And it's fun! I played around with it for a while, and slowly slipped into digging deeper in the current state of EDM. There’s a lot of nonsense in this genre, but there’s also huge talent and a lot of creativity. Creativity I’ve been missing from the trance scene for a very long time.
The trance scene has never been very open to change, it’s one of the more conservative electronic dance music genres I can think of. I remember the days when the big name trance DJs had reached all possible goals and dreams in this scene and needed somewhere else to go, and EDM was an option. How angry some fans were. Some are still angry. I never fully understood it, but perhaps it’s because I’m a producer and that’s my perspective. To constantly evolve, you need to follow your heart where it takes you. And if it tells you to do something else, that’s what you got to do. No one will be happy if you stick to a genre or sound because you feel obliged to do so. Fans will not like dull attempts to emulate the passion of your previous work when your heart is no longer in it. And you will grow to hate yourself doing something you don’t love. That is pointless.
And that brings me to my future. As an outlet for my casual DJ-ing, I ended up creating an EDM podcast called Friday Mix (check it out!). I do this under a new alias: Ufony (as in euphony, the opposite of cacophony). It’s not a bad alias, but it’s not great. I never was good with naming things (see: most of my track names and aliases). But I’ve now decided to phase out the short existence of Ufony and simply merge this all into Airbase. Why, you might ask? Why not. I shouldn’t have to create another version of myself to be able to be myself. Airbase is what kicked it all off from the beginning, and I see no reason not to see it through til the end, no matter where it takes me musically. Whatever happens with Airbase in the future will not neglect what it has been in the past. The road of life is a crooked road, but I will always be me. And for that reason, I’ll stick to Airbase, no matter what musical direction I take. Some will hate it, but I will love making it.
Airbase is no longer only about trance music. It will be my one and only creative outlet for electronic dance music. I’ll be Airbase, nothing else. This opens up the possibilities to mix and match from whatever I find mix-n-match-able. Airbase might never sound the same as it did ten or fifteen years ago (or it might!), and that’s fine. To me that is liberating. I’ve never been about repeating past successes. I just want to have fun in the studio. And from now on, you can always be sure to find the result of my fun time in the studio being released as Airbase productions. Hopefully, some of you’ll enjoy it.
Lastly–and perhaps most importantly for you–from now on (and for the foreseeable future) I will release all my music for free. It will be available on all the usual streaming services. High quality downloads will also be available on airbasemusic.com. You’ll be free to copy/share/remix/remake/do whatever you want with the music, as long as you’re not selling it. Making trance has never been big bucks. The money was always in performances. So I see no reason to keep trying to charge for music. I much rather prefer to have it freely available to anyone, and as a great side benefit: I keep control over what, how and when things are released. For now, I’m choosing to skip labels for the benefit of me and my fans.
For those who really want to contribute, I've opened up Paypal tip jar here. It's completely optional, but truly appreciated.
That's all for now. I'm psyched for the future. Now I got to head back to the studio.
Oh, and new site launching soon.
All the best,