Craig Connelly interview
Hi Craig, how are you?
Fantastic thank you, good to talk to you guys.
We are here to talk about your upcoming album release “One Second Closer”. First of all, what can we expect from this album?
Songs, lots of songs. I figured that I could make club music stood on my head but rarely do I have a chance to express myself in this way. Therefore the main focus was to write trance records in a way a singer could write a real song with real meaning to it. I aimed to make this record as melodic as possible, giving as much emotion and feeling as I could. The arrangements are designed in the best way to emphasize the meaning of the song rather than the generic dance music formula. Overall, a story telling record.
Can I ask why “One Second Closer”?
I like to leave this title open to my listeners’ interpretation rather than insisting what it is about. The journey on the album is as much about the listeners experience as it is mine creating it, so my listeners can define “One Second Closer” however they like. Personally I experience it as my journey from where I was to where I want to go, the passing of time, and also my journey to ultimately the end of my days where I believe I’ll see my father again. We’re all on a limited timeline and our time can be up in a heartbeat so we should spend every day doing what we absolutely love, keeping the end in the back of your mind helps you enjoy the present. This is coming from someone who has spent their life worrying unnecessarily which has escalated at times to almost depression levels, but when I lost my dad it all just hit home that what I was worrying about just wasn’t worth it at all. I try to keep this in mind daily but sometimes I slip back into my old worry habits, “One Second Closer” as an album project and a title/experience reminds me to stay present in the moment. If you were looking for a deep answer, there you go… haha.
You have worked with plenty of vocalists in this album. They all obviously mean something to you if you have chosen to work with them on this, but what significance do they have? Why did you choose them?
They were chosen really on a track by track basis. I always write backings first then send them to vocalists rather than just making a dance version of a vocalist demo. I find I get my best results by working this way. The good thing about creating the demos and backings first is you really get to look for the right vocalist for each track rather than just working with what was supplied. This way of working helped me keep the quality of the vocals as high as possible.
How long has it taken you to complete the album? What elements of it did you find the hardest?
I’ve had a lot of these melodies / chords and ideas for years, they just never made it into the more club records I’ve made in that time. That being said the writing process I guess started as far back as 2011 (I wrote the backing for “How Can I” that long ago). The actual graft work of doing all the production started at the start of 2016 and finished around November 16. I only really committed to an album in the summer when I had 90% of the ideas and could see it would turn out good, as I couldn't put something mediocre out there. The hardest part which was surprising was engineering “How Can I” and remaking “Black Hole”. On paper they sound fairly simple in terms of a production but they both drove me up the wall. Everything else came together fairly easily, but those two were shocking to finish haha.
Did you use any different techniques to make this album other than use a VST as I hear a lot of orchestral and band elements in a lot of your tracks? If so, what did you do and why did you choose to do it that way?
I’d say I was open to make music in a more free and easy going way, with an album it can be by design whatever I want it to be, so anything goes in terms of sound design. I hadn't really bought anything new or interesting to use that I hadn't already used for the previous 2-3 years, just used different parts of them. And yes it felt good to do more orchestral/band sounds in the tracks, I could use more of this in the album than I usually would have in a club record.
Having listened to the album myself, I found it took me on a journey, not only musically but also the lyrics and the track titles told me a story. Was that your aim when writing the album?
Yes, 100%. The story telling and journey was the most important part of the album. I spent a lot of effort making sure it flowed from one theme to the next smoothly but also had a variety of sound sets. I really hate trance albums that are just a rehash of one sound set 14-15 times, it makes me think… what is the point? They are the listen once albums and I didn’t want that. The album started with a moving optimistic piece at a slow tempo with “Alive”, then moves into some love songs with “We Are”, “Light the Way”, and “How Can I”, before going into some more experimental sounds with the break beat of “Battleground” and the underground sounding “Out Of Orbit”. I needed “Stay” to be before “Black Hole” to take the album up to that tempo without sounding like it was too banging. “Black Hole”, “Elevate” and “Home” are absolute Uplifting Trance peaks then it slides off in the SoulTrance (I just invented that word) sounds of “One More Shot” and finally “Small Box” is a nice way to sign off the album in a more calming way.
I absolutely love what you have done to “Black Hole”! Tell me, was it hard remaking this, given how much of a success it originally was? What are you hoping people’s reaction to it will be? As someone who loves the original, I also love how uplifting you have made this one!
It was a right pain in the arse, not joking! The pressure was on to recreate it in a fresh 2017 sound but also keep the magic of the original, not an easy task. I tried many different lead sounds before returning to the actual original sound but just engineered about a million times better. The original had now been streamed about 6 million times just through official channels like Spotify and YouTube, pretty big ask to remake something that people adore already.
What has inspired you to create this album? Like I mentioned before, the track titles seem to tell a story. They seem to be motivating us to do something. Even your artwork, you are stood staring out into a vast and beautiful open space, often depicted as inspirational. What message are you trying to portray?
The main two themes throughout the album are ‘Human Experience’ and ‘Passing Time’. Doesn't make much sense right haha. Let me explain. A lot of trance albums are lacking real human elements to them, lyrically and musically so I wanted to bring that back, songs that actually mean something that people can relate to. Human Experience is found in these tracks for example: despair in love is explored in “How Can I”, “Stay” & “Black Hole”, the divisive times we are currently facing in the world with “Elevate” & “Battleground”, “We Are” explores an alternative side to a broken relationship, and “One More Shot” is a feel good look at not giving up on your dreams. An overall message of optimism is portrayed with not just the lyrics but the chords and progressions.
If you could choose a bunch of producers to remix the tracks on your album, who would you choose and why?
I already have some pretty decent names working on remixes which I’m super excited about. I’ve always fancied a remix from Rank 1, who is a legendary producer, also some amazing progressive producers like Gai Barone, Luke Chable etc.
Are you doing a tour to celebrate your album launch or is there anywhere you will be showcasing your new album anytime soon? If so, when and where?
Yes we are finalising tour dates at the moment, already have about 10 across the globe and plenty more to come soon! Announcement coming shortly.
When can we expect to be able to buy this album?
NOW. All links to all download/streaming stores and our new web shop selling CDs & March is now live: www.craigconnelly.net