Often found floating just beneath the mainstream, Trance producer Arnej is truly one of the most innovative minds in the industry. Join us as we talk to him about his unique approach to production, and the uncertain future of his 8 Wonders alias.
Arnej - We Need Them (Original Mix) [Coldharbour]
LessThan3: Your big break came in your career in 2008, when Armin van Buuren fell in love with your track Rendezvous and pronounced you “Producer Of The Year.” Tell us about your journey as an artist and how these recent developments have impacted your career in the past couple of years.
Arnej: It was a great honor to have someone so high up the ranks call you his favorite. Ultimately, Rendezvous marked the beginning of my journey and was the first Arnej titled track. Prior to Rendezvous, I did not have an identity as a producer. My records sounded like a dozen other guys and this was basically because as a beginner, I relied a lot on the clichés of the genre back then. In a formula like that, the end result will always be washed out. Eventually I came to a point where I said “screw it” and went my own way. This is when I decided to ditch the 8 Wonders moniker and just do whatever came. I think the end result speaks for itself! It’s been a steady progression ever since then and now I am at a point where I am quite happy with what I produce and what has now become my own sound.
LessThan3: What has the response been thus far since the release of The Journey Unknown: The Collected Works? Was it the feedback you expected?
Arnej: There is a lot of confusion about this collection. A lot of people think it’s my album, when in fact it’s just a collection of some of the best Arnej records, with a few new ones dispersed throughout. Feedback has been decent so far, but in all honesty I really did not expect much from this. It was moreso a treat for fans, to get sixty minutes of Arnej in one harmonious mix.
LessThan3: You seem to use advanced production techniques in your soundscapes, beats, and melodies. Tell us about the genesis of your ideas and how you utilize your sound skills to create such beautiful music.
Arnej: All my music, no matter the genre, always has one unifying focal point–the melody. That is essentially the core of my music and is the first step in the music-making process for me. Once I have a melody sorted, it essentially becomes the story of the track. The rest is just filler. The production techniques I’ve used are not much different than anybody else’s, but I think it becomes more so a question of when and where to use certain techniques. I don’t try to go overboard with production gimmicks because to me music should be about the music and not about how many cuts, slices, filter fadeouts, etc. you can squeeze into sixteen bars. I feel like there is quite a bit of music out there that is wonderfully produced, but lacks the musicality of earlier works. Sometimes I even opt for a relatively simple track and let the beat and music carry it. A perfect example of that would be They Need Us. I’ve read some criticism about the simplistic nature of the percussion, effects and such. It was by design!
LessThan3: Do you follow a certain structure or approach when working on a remix?
Arnej: I am not one of those producers that has a set mind on what it is they want to do before they do it. All my music comes from the same process, which is experimentation. I don’t know what it is that I am making until I am basically done.
LessThan3: We love your use of euphoric vocal samples in tracks like The Strings That Bind Us. Will we see any new vocal tracks in the near future?
Arnej: I’ve always been a big fan of chanty vocals, so in short… yes!
LessThan3: Can we expect any collaborations with other producers in the near future?
Arnej: I would say that I am a very difficult person to collaborate with–sometimes I can’t even collaborate with myself. I think my general way of working is too chaotic for others and I often end up changing and scrapping tracks, sometimes on an hourly basis! I think this would piss off a lot of people. But we’ll see what the future holds, I am certainly not closing any doors to such possibilities!
LessThan3: You always seem to choose rather thought-provoking track titles; It seems as though they are not just titles, but messages of significance. How do you usually go about choosing titles for your tracks? How big of an influence do you think this has on the way the track sounds and feels to listeners?
Arnej: The music I write is full of passion and emotion and I try to convey that with the melodies and track titles I choose. I see music as a form of storytelling which is why there is always an underlying message in them. In short, I think it makes for much more memorable music if a person can relate to it on some emotional level. Some of the titles I’ve chosen are from personal experiences, others are more self-interpretive. Frankly, I get more comments on the track titles than the tracks themselves! This is one core element of my music that will not change.
LessThan3: Earlier this year you created a track with your alter-ego 8 Wonders in a production called The Beginning of The End–a theatrical song with loads of energy. Will we see a follow-up to that sound? What is the future of your 8 Wonders alias?
Arnej: Ironically, the title itself is an explanation of where the 8 Wonders sound is going. The idea behind this track is that you’ll see a merger of the two sounds, a unification if you may, between what was the 8 Wonders sound and what the Arnej sound is. I am still not 100% certain as to the future of 8 Wonders. Perhaps I will stick with the name only for remixes of a certain sound, which is what I’ve been doing recently.
LessThan3: Who do you think are the some of the “it” trance producers of today?
Arnej: Sander van Doorn has always been on the top of my list as an all-time favorite producer. Benno from Rank 1 never disappoints; it’s always a treat to hear something new from him. Some other guys I’ve been digging lately would be Jonas Stenberg and Evol Waves.
LessThan3: When can we expect Arnej to visit the US?
Arnej: I’ll be in Los Angeles on December 4th for the Winterfresh Music Festival! The US itinerary will fill up more in 2011. Keep your eyes and ears peeled!