Johan Ekman will be making his debut at the legendary Technoclub on the 6th September alongside Darren Porter and the icon Talla 2XLC. We caught up with this very talented producer from Sweden to talk about his forthcoming gig behind the famous decks and everything trance...
Born in the beginning of 1987 Johan Ekman from Örebro, Sweden knew from an early age that his passion in life was to produce music. After hard work and many hours spent editing his creations, time paid of and Johan evolved a unique and an original sound. In 2008 Johan Ekman released ‘Timeless’, being charted 2 whole weeks on top 10, hit the number 1 spot for a week and Timeless became one of the biggest tunes of the year! It was the starting shot for Johan Ekman’s career.
Today Johan has released many big hits like Duende, So On, So Forth, Take It Back and created a well-known name in the trance scene. Ekman’s music is played/aired on numerous radioshows as Armin Van Buuren – ‘A State Of Trance’, Simon Patterson – ‘Open Up’, Indecent Noise – ‘Radio Bosh’ and getting huge support from John Askew to mention a few.
Releasing hit after hit and working together with other famous artist Johan Ekman is on his way to be one the greatest in trance music. You haven’t seen the last of this guy he is here to stay.
i:Vibes: Johan thanks very much for talking to ivibes.nu. How are you and what has been your summer highlight in 2014 in the club and in the studio?
Johan: Hi there, it is my pleasure! Thank you very much for interviewing me.I am very good thank you, actually soon in the middle of moving to a new flat and try the city life a little bit, I have always lived out on the country so its going to be interesting! The highlight, well, Luminosity Beach Festival 2014 was amazing, the crowd reaction and everything was just unreal! And lots new productions has been made which already got great support from John Askew, Angry Man, Aly & Fila and many more, just amazing!
i:Vibes: You hail from Sweden and in a country where the famous Swedish House Mafia have made a name world wide with guys like Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso or Axwell, how was it that you came to find unending goose bumps for trance?
Johan: Yeah, I’m born and raised in Sweden, the first moment was when I was a little kid and heard ‘BT – Flaming June’, that’s when I fell in love with Trance music, all the leads and beats and the harmony, I could really feel the track you know? Was something I never felt before within music so that was something that I needed to listen to. All thanks to my biggest brother that brought home all kinds of electronic music and grabbed my interest big time!
Then after a while when ‘Blank & Jones’ came more known in the scene with ‘Cream’ I listened over and over and then I wanted to try make my own music, so I began with ‘Reason’ at 11-12 years old and tried different programs, but then I moved on to ‘FLStudio’ when I was 16 (Thanks to Fabian ‘ Ultraform’ Kempe for introducing it to me) and there I felt I belong, and nowadays I’m in ‘Cubase 7’ (Thanks to Indecent Noise for making me give Cubase another chance).
i:Vibes: Which artists worldwide inspired you most early when you were developing your trance sound on the decks and in the studio?
Johan: From the beginning I was a real Hard Trance fan, still am of the older Hard Trance, and then I started to listen to ‘Alphazone’, and I knew where I wanted to go with my sound, hard and melodic and yet make some pure pumping madness! All the inspiration I get comes straight from my heart, the tracks you hear are the sounds from my feelings.
i:Vibes: When you came on the scene in 2008, Swedish trance hero´s Mike Shiver and Airbase had already had hits around the world and established a name. How important were these artists for you giving you the notion that Sweden can produce good trance artists?
Johan: I have always been a fan of ‘Mike Shiver’ and ‘Airbase’, magial sounds, and then finding out they were from Sweden I thought was really cool at a younger age, so that made me feel that its not only the rest of the world that can produce Trance music and make hits. It feels really fun to have fellow producers in the same country, same goes with ‘Sebastian Brandt’.
i:Vibes: Your first release/hit was timeless. When listening to the track, one discovers right away that you already had a keen sense then of making your sound tight and very credible. What memories do you have of making this track. When you look back are you surprised that it came out so well?
Johan: First, thank you very much! I made that track after my first trip I made to England in 2007 where I had my old manager, and we went out to ‘The Gallery’ when it was at Turnmills, amazing parties, and straight away I got so much inspiration and felt that I have to improve my sound and move up some levels. Then I first made the first test of ‘Timeless’ and sent it to my manager and she sent it to Discover, and then ‘John Askew’ replied with some changes he thought needed to be done, but he loved the track. So I made some changes and re-sent it, and boom, he loved it even more and was satisfied with it! When I made the track I didn’t know where everything came from, I worked harder on making all the sounds better and cleaner and really sat a long time on each sound to make it as perfect as I could. And then I took my knowledge and brought it onwards and developed it, and I’m still developing. That’s what makes music producing exciting, you learn new things all the time!
i:Vibes: You have released many tracks since 2008 and one hears in your tracks that your music has developed. The music is more banging and you obviously know how to play with a break to give it that anthem feeling. How would you describe your studio sound now in 2014 and how has it developed?
Johan: Yeah I wanted to go more to the harder edged style because that’s where I feel the most when playing, a big riff and driving bass and you just feel it rumble and pumping, and then of course when playing a harder sounded track with rough bass and acid it gives you the same but in a different way, haha that ‘Oumpf’ feeling.
This year I think it has been harder than before, jumping to Cubase I started to make the driving trance and mix it up with the harder sound, I like to experiment and see where the imagination takes me, even lots of times I work on one track and it turns out later to a 2nd track so I got 2 tracks from that was supposed to be one. But yes, I think I have gotten more harder lately. But I got some new tracks coming up that are more softer pumping so chill it down a little ;)
i:Vibes: Now a days it seems like everyone is producing trance and it is easy to release tracks in the digital age. How are you able to continue to make innovative trance music? There are many trance artists that keep recycling their sounds. How difficult is it to keep entering the studio and not making bla bla trance, but credible trance?
Johan: Yeah, new names are popping up everywhere but few remains I think. Or maybe all are there still but the ones that you think of are the ones that stands out and doing their thing and not following the “fashion”, they go their own way and bring you some feelings you never heard before. And that, template tracks can’t do. But, recycling is sometimes good, if you are happy with a particular sound in a track and want to develop that style more its good to work more on it and improve it and make something even phatter than before. The imagination and inspiration is the limit.
i:Vibes: I really adore your track Duende. The break is breathtaking. When you have some time and can sit back and enjoy listening to this track and if you are in deep thought, where does this track take you to when listening to it?
Johan: It takes me back in the days at that certain time it was made, many feelings in it, but it also makes me feel glad for what I have achieved so far and exciting what more to come. It brings up a lot really, and when the drop comes it makes me feel “yes, I can do anything” haha.
i:Vibes: Off there is also an incredible track. You really have a severe talent of making amazing breaks. What artist in the trance scene really blows you away with their ability to create amazing breaks?
Johan: Hmmm, that’s a tough one, some breaks in different tracks are amazing, but when I heard ‘Christian Stalker - Twenty Second’ it really got me some great feelings! Beautiful break and main part in that one, need to check it out if you haven’t heard it! Other than them its hard to mention, there are some amazing tracks out there! .
i:Vibes: My favorite track is Bring it. That atmosphere really, really blew me away. Was this a difficult track to produce? What was the most difficult thing you had to get down in the studio that made this track 100% perfect for you?
Johan: Actually it first was an old remix I made which never got released, so I remade it and changed the main lead and then it felt even better than before. But at the time I produced it I worked lots of the bassline, layering maybe 5-7 different bass sounds and tweaked a lot, it was a lot of work but really worth it, and I played around with some effects which made it even more fun. Its fun to just try doing something outside the box and go your own way of making tracks. The most difficult thing must have been to make it as driving as it got and get the sounds to blend in well and make the harder feeling intro part with the acid and everything.
i:Vibes: You will be giving your debut at the Technoclub in September at the Technoclub Vol 46 release. How excited are you about playing in this legendary club?
Johan: I am over the moon excited to play there! I have seen so many awesome names playing there and I could only just dream about playing there one day. And then Talla asked me if I would like to come over and play some tracks with some friends, “oooh yes!” haha. It was an amazing feeling getting that question, it made me feel that I’m on my way forward!
i:Vibes: When was the first time that you heard the name Talla 2XLC? How is he seen in the Swedish trance scene?
Johan: That was a long time ago, and the tracks I listened to back then, must have been in early 2000, was amazing! The trance scene isn’t that bad actually, we have great parties from Kollektivet, Club Noise, FSOS and Monday Bar, I was playing in Stockholm a few weeks back and the crowd was really crazy, they sure love their trance!
i:Vibes: Darren Porter came on the scene a little after you did and has made a name for himself. He has worked with artists on tracks. Could you imagine going into the studio with him? How would the Ekman/Porter sound, sound like?
Johan: Yeah Darren has really gotten a big name in the uplifting scene, so many great tunes! I would for sure be up for a collab with him, the sound of that collab would be a really driving rougher sounding melodical track with a twist of acid.
i:Vibes: I listened to your set at Luminosty 2014. It was an incredible DJ set. One notices that you play very many of your own tracks like in a mix. Some critics might say that is self promotion. Is it more self promotion or just the best way for people to hear the best DJ sound of Johan Ekman?
Johan: Yeah, I have actually felt that too that it might be to much self promotion playing my own tracks, but then, isn’t it why people are there to see me? I think it more gets as an act if the DJ play their own productions too. Would you go see Metallica and hope they played Coldplay tracks? (would be cool though). I like to play others tracks too of course, but I felt a bit that as I’m still a bit unknown to people I want to show who ‘Johan Ekman’ is, and what better way to give them a show when he play his own works?
i:Vibes: Your mash ups of Armin´s tracks Sound Of Good Bye and Yet Another Day are also incredible. It seems like mash ups come and go. If you had to pick one mash up that you have liked in the last 10 years which would you chose?
Johan: The mash up of ‘Sound Of Goodbye’ isn’t mine, a friend of mine called ‘Q’bass’ did it. The guys behind ‘Too Many Artists’ makes the best mash ups I think, so many tracks putted together in one track and it sounds just awesome!
i:Vibes: What kind of DJ set can we await from you at Techno Club? What surprises will be in store? Maybe the one or other trance classic?
Johan: After previous question it wont be any Ekman, haha, but I will bring some newer tracks and then others of course. It will be very Energetic and a little rougher and yet melodical! There will be some classics in there somewhere too!
i:Vibes: Sucker Punch is coming soon. What have been the first impressions in the clubs where you have played it?
Johan: The reaction so far from ‘Sucker Punch’ has been amazing, when the drops comes and the bass and kick punch their way through the speakers people have gotten crazy, and for me to see that behind the decks makes it even more crazy haha, I couldn’t imagine getting this response from this track or any of my other tracks really, I could only dream about it!
i:Vibes: What other releases can we await from you in the next months?
Johan: I got releases coming out on Blackhole, Perfecto, Critical State and hopefully some Mental Asylum soon. And lots of remixes are on the way!
i:Vibes: You recently played your first gig in New York. What kind of experience was it playing in the big apple?
Johan: It was incredible! Wanting to go to NYC for many years and never thought it would happen, I got booked there and play for an awesome crowd, just wow! That’s all I can say.
i:Vibes: What is your whole impression of the current EDM rise. Tiesto sold out 8 years ago while even an Armin Van Buuren seemed to have played a very unlike Armin set at Tomorrowland. Is this movement another thorn in the side of trance and its future?
Johan: Some artists choose to change direction to something they feel maybe are something more suitable for them and want to try. For me I think the trance know where it wants to go. For me its not up to one or some persons where trance should go and not go.
i:Vibes: If you could be locked in the studio with any artists for 24 hours who would you chose?
Johan: That’s a tough one! There are so many to choose from that are incredible. But I would go with John Askew, Indecent Noise, Angry Man, JK Walker, Audiowarp, Robbie Van Döe.
i:Vibes: What are your five all time favorite tracks?
Johan: Haha even harder question! 1// BT – Flaming June 2// Blank & Jones – Cream 3// Paul Van Dyk – For An Angel 4// Cloudchaser – Aerodynamic (Alphazone Remix) 5// Talla 2XLC – Can You Feel The Silence (Flutlicht Remix) .
i:Vibes: If you could chose between Eric Prydz or Avicii as to who you could have dinner with who would you chose and why?
Johan: I would go with Eric Prydz, I would really like to know how it all began for him and listen to his journey within the music.
i:Vibes: If you had to play one last track at your last DJ set what would you play?
Johan: I would for sure go with DJ Scot Project – Overdrive, as it is so good and pumping and the whole track is perfection!