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Interview with Lee Haslam ahead of his headlining set in the Addiction trance room at the massive tidy & Extreme Euphoria 1st Birthday Fiesta
Reported by mostwantedkat
Submitted 01-09-06 15:00
18 months ago dj and producer Lee Haslam made a decision to move away from a career spanning nearly nine years in hard dance and go back to his original roots in trance. Since that time he’s had to make some tough calls and work tirelessly to establish himself in one of the hardest scenes to break in dance music.
On October 27th, at London superclub Heaven, thousands of clubbers will be able to judge for themselves as Lee heads up the massive Addiction trance room at tidy & Extreme Euphoria’s 1st Birthday Fiesta. It’s been a year since HarderFaster last spoke to Lee, and he kindly joins us to give us an update on how his transition is going, his latest productions and how it’s going developing his own new digital label and website.
Rumour has it that you have started up a new trance label called Digital Remedy Recordings. Can you give us the lowdown on your decision to move to trance and why you set the label up?
I am indeed mate. The time has come for me to do my own thing really and as you quite rightly point out I have enough experience. I have been running tidy the label for nearly nine years now so I feel I have the contacts and the know how to move my own label forward.
The reason I set the label up is mainly as an outlet for my own productions. Around 18 months ago I took the bold step to move away from the hard dance scene and go back to my trance roots. In that time I have really had to make some tough decisions and not do any harder gigs and work hard on things like setting my website up and getting the message across to clubbers and promoters that I really mean business.
Obviously one of the best ways to do this is through my new productions and things have started off really well. I have had a single out on Monster Tunes called ‘The Future’ which got plays from Johan Gielen (who made it his single of the week on his massive Fresh FM show), Armin Van Buuren, Dave Pearce and Riley & Durrant to name but a few.
Then I did a remix for Inspired Records of a track called ‘Barbed Wire’ which has been getting plays from Sander Van Doorn & Marcel Woods and more recently I have completed another remix of an old classic for Purple Eye in Holland. It’s called ‘Instant Moments’ by R.O.O.S and is a huge favourite of mine from yesteryear, so it was a great honour to be asked to do it. I have only recently finished that and it should be getting promo’d in the next few weeks, but early plays have been getting great reactions.
This may seem a lot but I really wanted to get more of my original productions out there. There is so much music and not as many labels around these days and I was finding it increasingly difficult to find homes for my productions, so it seemed a natural progression for me. Digital Remedy will now be the main hub for all of my original material and by having my own label I am in total control and thanks to digital distribution, I am capable of putting out as much material as I want.
Judging by the name, I would assume that the tracks you put out are going to be purely in a download format only. Is this the way you envisage all labels going at some point in the near future and is this a good thing or a bad thing?
Totally. Digital distribution for me is the future. It has completely changed the rule book for the music industry. In some areas you could say it has nearly killed whole scenes through illegal file sharing etc, but I think things have and may get worse before they get better. I think people are slowly now embracing this new way forward and learning to use it to their advantage, whereas before they may have been a little frightened by it, and I’m not just talking about the music buying public here.
There is no doubt that for a label, digital distribution is a more attractive proposal than releasing vinyl, purely and simply on the less risk policy. There are no manufacturing costs, you never run out of stock, labels can release material quicker and if they don’t sell it hasn’t cost you anything so it’s a no brainer really. I think over the last few years music has become more of a disposable commodity so for the punter buying online and digitally it’s easier, quicker and more importantly more cost effective to them. There is no doubt that digital distribution is a good thing and as time goes on I am confident that sales will increase as we move forward.
Recent feedback from gigs across the country certainly seems to indicate that people are really starting to appreciate the high energy, uplifting trance that you play in your sets now. If you don’t mind me asking, have you encountered any challenges along the way in changing people’s perceptions of the Lee Haslam sound?
I have encountered problems, yes. People still expect me to play what I did a few years ago and it is very frustrating, but I just have to keep to what I am doing. I always have to think back to where I was this time last year and see how much I have moved on since then as a dj and producer. I know that if I continue with what I am doing then it won’t be too long before the transition is complete. Obviously I am still head of music at tidy and I think that tag will always stay with me until the day I leave but at the end of the day it’s a job and I think, or should I say hope, that once people see me play regularly and hear all my new productions on a regular basis, that fact won’t be a dominating factor in my djing profile. It’s already starting already so I think in another six months or so I will be in an even better position.
Since the change of musical direction you have had bookings coming in from some of the biggest trance promoters in the UK in the likes of Godskitchen, Creamfields and the Gallery and have also done an Essential Mix on Radio 1 to great acclaim. What are your goals for 2007 and beyond?
To be a regular on the trance circuit is my main goal really. It’s been really hard to even get any support from these clubs in the past so it’s a great sign that I have managed to get in at all in the last few months. It’s really important for me to be accepted by the trance die hards too as I know a lot of them still see me as a hard house dj whose is “trying to make it as a trance dj” but I think even some of them are starting to take me seriously now. In the past I have never really tried to set goals too high as you are setting yourself up for disappointment so I just try to take each day as it comes and work hard at what I do and hopefully things will come good.
There’s also been a fair few international appearances on your calendar this year, from Norway to New Zealand and Japan. When you go abroad do you still play the same as you would here or do you have to tailor your sound to the different crowds in other countries? Did you think of getting a Beckham hair-cut when you went to Japan?
LOL, definitely not although I did take the big step of growing my hair back from the usual tidy corporate hair cut a few years ago, arguably one of the better ones I have made. When it comes to my performances it’s important that I am consistent with what I play, otherwise I am putting everything I am working towards at risk. It’s very hard to do because I still get asked to play ‘Music Is The Drug’ or play tidy stuff, but I just have to say “No, sorry I don’t play that anymore”.
I do feel really bad sometimes as like I said earlier, it’s what I became popular for, but the majority of people have been very good and supported me a lot. At the end of the day I have to follow what I believe in and the material I am playing and producing now is everything to me. I am so much more settled and happy playing the material that I am doing today which speaks volumes to me.
Most djs in the current day and age seem to have a heavy presence on the web. Where can we find out information about what’s going on in the world of Lee Haslam? Do you have your own web-site now or a MySpace page that we can visit to keep up to date? How important do you think this is?
This is one of the areas I have been working really hard on in the last few months and these portals are my main promotional tool for everything that I do. Before I could rely on tidy to promote me as an artist and dj but it’s important for me to do it all alone now and this is an area I intend to increase capacity on the in the coming months. www.leehaslam.com is my main hub for all things Lee Haslam. It tells you upfront news on everything that I am doing, new production soundbites, gig lists, dj mixes, and in a few weeks my own download site covering over 300 labels and their music!
Other than this I am in the middle of getting www.digitalremedyrecordings.comfinalised, which will run along side my main site and be totally devoted to the label and its releases. And if that wasn’t enough there is also myspace. My page is up and getting overhauled in the next few weeks too so visit www.myspace.com/leehaslam01and add me!
During your time working in dance music you must have had some amazing experiences. What would you rank as your top 3 most memorable moments so far?
Christ, there have been so many really both in djing and in my full time job at tidy. I started in 1997 and I didn’t know a thing about the music industry and I have learned so much. I have had some great moments and some bad ones! But I think there are three that I am most proud of:
1) Being able to dj week in, week out is always memorable. My djing is everything to me and if I had to choose, DJing would be the one I would go for every time. I have played some amazing gigs in the last nine years from my Essential Mix on Radio One, Weekenders, Magna’s to gigs all over the world.
Every one of them are special in there own way, but the one that I will always remember would be tidy’s tenth birthday at Magna. My dad had suddenly passed away a few months before and he never got chance to see me play, but that night my mum came along to watch me. It was very emotional for a variety of reasons, but a night and gig I will never ever forget.
2) I am very proud of all my productions and in what I have achieved in this area. I have had some amazing people to work along with like Guyver and Michael Dow who have been great people to work with and great friends. You can’t beat the buzz of watching a crowd go off to one of your tunes.
3) Setting up www.tidydigital.comis something I am very proud of. A lot of people think that there are lots of people who work here at tidy HQ when in fact there is only five of us! I am the only one who works on the label side of things so getting and indeed keeping tidy the label to where it is today, as well as setting our digital platform up and maintaining it to the standard it is at, are things I am very proud of.
A lot of people say that djs don’t make good Producers and the same is true in reverse. Do you think there is any truth in this and are there any obvious exceptions to the rule or is it just a load of cods-wallop?
This is always an area that seems to cause controversy with some people, clubbers especially. First of all I think you either start off your career as a dj and then get into producing later on, or visa versa. If you are a producer and get into djing hardly a word is said but if it’s the other way around a lot of people seem to give the dj a hard time, as there is always the “Someone made it for him” comments which I think are very unfair. If you are a successful dj, you should know how to work a crowd and what works on a dance floor, and obviously have a passion for the music and if you have these within you then you are capable of making a decent record.
Obviously not all djs, me included, are musically trained or can work a studio fully on their own but that shouldn’t be and isn’t a problem. As long as you can work with an engineer who can work the studio with you and can translate what you tell them to do, making it your own, then it doesn’t matter. There is no doubt that without Guy, and now Michael understanding me and getting the right sounds that I asked for and doing what I want them to do, then I would have struggled to make the tracks that I have done — but purely and simply from a production point of view.
I know for a fact that I was the person that was ultimately in control of every track I have written. I have always gone into a studio with a clear idea of what I want and how it’s going to sound.
At the end of the day I know how to produce a record, I know what works on a dance floor and I know how to get the right end result, which is ultimately what producing is all about. As the producer, the final decisions in that studio is yours. DJs like Tony De Vit, Andy Farley, Lisa Lashes, Marco V, Ferry Corsten, Tiesto, Carl Cox, even The Chemical Brothers have all had or used engineers or had their own productions co-written with another producer and these are some of the biggest producers and djs on the planet. Nuff said.
Why is it that people think djs don’t dance? You can often be seen behind the decks having the time of your life and this really makes an impression on the crowd. Do you think that people get more immersed in a dj’s performance if they look as though they are really enjoying the music?
To be honest I used to dance all the time when I was a clubber, but then I got into djing and then I used to stand and watch djs play for hours on end. I do love to go a bit nuts behind the decks though, especially now because I am so into what is out there currently and what I am producing. I used to love watching djs really get into what they were playing and interacting with the crowd which is so important in my eyes to keep the atmosphere high tempo.
The trance scene as a whole seems to be really healthy at the moment with some fantastically talented new producers coming through and giving the big boys something to think about. Which of the new breed are really impressing you?
Michael Dow is a young lad who I admire so much and I will push as much as I can. He is such an amazing talent and a cracking lad to boot. Michael engineers all my work and we have a great understanding already so I hope things continue for a long time to come. He is already starting to get a lot of stuff release under his Chrysus name but watch out for more from in the coming months.
Sean Tyas is another producer I really admire and he is really knocking some amazing stuff out at the minute, as is Fabio Stein, who is another big favourite of mine currently.
Studio wise, you seem to do a lot of productions on your own. Is this because you are really fussy and you know exactly how you want your tracks to sound, or is there anyone out there that you would really love to collaborate with?
Yeah, the only person I have done collaborations with is Guyver and that’s because we have a great understanding, we’ve worked together for years and have similar ideas. I think a lot of producers can do too much collaboration work which can ultimately work against you, and I have just always preferred to go it alone and try to establish my own sound and approach each production I do a little differently. That said, I am about to finish a collaboration with Michael Dow so watch this space!
A quick fire round . . .
If you could travel back in time and live the life of one person for a day, who would it be and why?
A day in the life of Jim Morrison would be cool!
What’s the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
Some weird Sushi thing in Japan which I was told was sheeps balls . . . I threw up afterwards!
If you were stranded on a desert island and you could have 3 things with you — what would they be?
1) Amber of course
Did you have a nickname at school?
Lels or Hazza
If you opened a restaurant what would you call it?
Fu King Chinese
What’s your favourite animal at the Zoo?
Lion . . . I’m a Leo you see.
Favourite school subject?
What was your first bike?
It was called a Raleigh Striker! Awesome
Which record in your collection would you rather people didn’t know you owned?
‘Dancing Queen’ — by Abba . . . Ian M’s Death Mix
Finally Lee, you are headlining the trance room at the upcoming Tidy & Extreme Euphoria 1st Birthday Fiesta at Heaven on Friday the 27th of October. What’s can we expect from you at this event?
A variety of things really. As I mentioned earlier I like to mix it up a bit in my dj sets and productions. There will be some euphoric stuff but also some dirty and hard tech trance to keep the balance right. I always like to build and move my set around to keep it interesting. Either way it’s going to be a great night and one I am really looking forward to, so make sure you pop in!
All images provided by Lee Haslam and tidy & Extreme Euphoria. Not to be reproduced without permission.
Tidy Extreme Euphoria, B'day Fiesta!
Friday 27th October
23:00 - 07:00
£15 Advance / MOTD
£15 advance tickets available from www.ticketweb.co.uk //
London ticket outlets - Cyberdog Camden - 0207 482 2842
Maria Never Enough - 07813 684 399
Click here to buy tickets
Hard house senors and senoritas all over the country are gearing up for what is going to be the most colourful birthday celebration in the history of dance music! Grab your sombreros, line up the Tequila shots and be prepared to party fiesta-style!
On Friday October 27th Heaven in London will be rocking to the sounds of the biggest DJs around. The TIDY BOYS and ALPHAZONE will mix it up all over the main stage, providing filthy beats and dirty sounds to a faster generation that loves it! They’re joined by the cream of the UK’s hardest DJs, including AMBER D, LISA PIN-UP, ANDY FARLEY and BK!
In the STAR BAR, PAUL MADDOX, ED REAL and friends are on hand to spin the fiercest selection of tunes you’ve heard in your life! JP & JUKESY, GUYVER, BEN STEVENS, JAMES LAWSON and NICKI S take it in turns to decimate any previous ideas you might have had of a good night out!
Fancy a change of pace? Every good fiesta should have a healthy dose of funk. This time the excellent GROOVE FACTORY take on the beats and twist them into a delicious dance floor experience in the HOUSE ROOM.
LEE HASLAM joins new hosts ADDICTION in the DAKOTA BAR for some of the very best uplifting trance music London has to offer. Both rooms will bring something special to the Fiesta-ivities and we look forward to opening Heaven’s gates up to them!
And if all THAT wasn’t enough, then get your maracas round this – a fifth room that’s full of giant games! Massive Jenga and Connect 4, body-bending Twister, and four Nintendo consoles with huge screens so you and your mates – and everyone else – can see how good you really are!
So to re-cap: the biggest DJs in Hard Dance, the best dance music for miles around, a room filled with mental man-sized games, the only 7AM DRINKS LICENSE in Westminster, and over 2,000 up-for-it clubbers with one thing in mind – PARTY! It really is all going on and as expected, tickets are already selling fast. There are still a number of advance tickets available for £15 at www.ticketweb.co.uk so catch them while you can!
The tidy & Extreme Euphoria 1st Birthday Fiesta – make a wish!
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The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.