Featured Artist Interview MaRLo
This week we go far away to the land down under, Australia, to bring you one of hottest producers in trance music, MaRLo. MaRLo may be currently based on the sunny island continent, but is originally from what seems like the cradle of electronic music, Holland. This absolutely explosive producer has a long history that has seen him work with Armin van Buuren’s mega label Armada, as well as Spinnin Records and Blackhole recordings.
In fact, Ferry Corsten himself is an avid fan of MaRLo’s work having played MaRLo’s remix of his own “Brain Box” and “Punk” as recently as his set at Ultra this year (MaRLo’s remix of Punk was Ferry’s semi-final track opening for Armin at ASOT500). The quality of his productions frequently brings his work to top the Beatport charts and his original tune “Is it Real” was honored as the tune of the month by EDM publishing stalwarts DJ Magazine, Mixmag, and Tillate.
Although he may be categorized as Trance by Beatport, the simple term seems too constraining to properly describe his artistic style. MaRLo brings some of sharper melodies of techno and overlays them on the classic chords of trance. The results are extraordinarily high energy tracks that are almost equally haunting as they are euphoric. His unique talent in production has taken him beyond the usual tour circuits (yes, that includes Creamfields, Trance Energy, Sensation…. and much more) to perform one-of-a-kind acts such as when he was invited by the Cirque du Soleil to perform an electronic interpretation of their critically acclaimed musical pieces at the massive Uitmarkt festival in Amsterdam.
So straight from Australia, a man who at this very moment has 2 tracks, “Semtex” and “Forward Thinking,” simultaneously riding the Beatport Trance Top 100 for a few weeks now, MaRLo.
Interview with MaRLo
Starting from the beginning, before you entered electronic production, what was your musical background? How do you believe your roots/interests in other music genre’s influence your musical style today? What is your favorite non-electronic musical style/genre?
MaRLo: I actually started doing computer animation in high school… Then I needed sound effects, sound design and backing tracks for my short animations etc. which kinda lead me on a path of music production. I just love being creative and the idea that first there is nothing and then a few hours later there is something new, original and creative.
I honestly love all sort of different music (cliche answer, I know haha) but I really do love everything from Coldplay to Metallica, some pop stuff, Hip Hop etc…. I really believe that all genres have some gems in there… there is so much good music in all different styles/genres. Diversity is the spice of life.
Holland really does seem like the capital of electronic dance music. Its probably the only country to have their national soccer team party with Armin van Buuren after the World Cup. Did your interest in electronic music start at a very young age? What were some of the first sources of music for you? Favorite artists?
MaRLo: I started getting into electronic music when I first heard the early Aphex Twin stuff, and then later The Prodigy absolutely blew me away. Those 2 acts really kicked off my journey into electronic sounds and ideas, then later artists like Mauro Picotto, Ferry Corsten, Armin Van Buuren and Tiesto really excited me.
Trance is undoubtedly one of the more “emotional” of the EDM genres. Personally I find the emotion trance evokes to be one of its most important parts. When you make a tune, like “Semtex” or “Forward Thinking” – do you aim for a particular “feel?” If so, how would you describe it? What do you feel works best for your music?
MaRLo: I get influenced by all sorts of stuff, and I don’t really sit down and think “today I’m going to make a tune that sounds kinda like this” or anything, I just start playing around and go with the flow, I let the music and sounds take control and I just kinda go along for the ride as the ideas come to me… it always happens very naturally, and if it doesn’t then I take a break and do something else and get back to it later.
How has your experience in tech house and techno affected your style of trance productions? You have an undoubtedly unique sound, how would you characterize the difference between your music and more traditional trance tracks?
MaRLo: I read somewhere that Tiesto is now doing “Trouse”… so I guess I’m kinda doing a new style too… “Trechno” haha
I like all sorts of different music, and there are so many awesome ways of expressing an idea so I try not to stick to a formula or rules of how a certain genre “should” sound… once again though, I just kinda do what feels right for the track at the time and don’t force anything. I guess I am quite influenced by other styles and this also comes accross in my DJ sets where I play a lot of different stuff that I like. But it always has a signature “tough and techy” MaRLo sort of sound.
Trance has evolved, significantly from its early days. Even if we compared the trance from just 10 years ago to what we hear now, they seem almost completely different. How/why do you think these changes came about? Major influences from other styles? Any trends going into the future?
MaRLo: Yeah it’s changed a lot, but I think all styles of music have evolved and changed over the past 10 years… as people try to constantly push the boundaries and create something fresh. EDM is so competitive now, with so many great producers… and everyone wants to stand out from the crowd. I also think it’s great that all the different styles of music are “borrowing” ideas from other styles, I love diversity… keeps things interesting.
As for the trends of the future… I wish I knew that! let’s hope the next BIG thing is “Trechno” haha
House music has been seeing wider spread acceptance in mainstream music. And although EDM as a whole is growing in popularity, trance still sometimes seems to be more “underground” – or at least not played on the “weekly radio” while the 4-to-the-floor 128BPM tunes from artists such as David Guetta are everywhere. Have you seen signs of this changing? We’ve asked how other styles influence trance, but how do you see trance influencing other styles? There has been a definite increase in blending between electro house and trance, like for example Into You (Mikkas Remix) which uses the power of a trance build up with a electro house drop. Do you see a trend in this?
MaRLo: A lot of house, hip hop and pop tunes are using some of those big trance supersaw style sounds, so yes I do think that Trance has had a big influence on other styles, just like house and techno have had an influence on Trance… I think it’s a good thing.
So what makes up your collection of musical tools/instruments/weapons? What sort of DAWs and VSTs do you employ in production? Any particular hardware you love to use or anything you’re anxious to acquire? How does your setup differ in studio compared to a live show?
MaRLo: I used to only use hardware synths (Roland JP8000, Nord Lead, Korg Wavestation, Novation Supernova 2 etc.) but I’m finding that I only really use the computer for my production now. Now I use Cubase, some nice Dynaudio speakers (BM5a) a decent soundcard and a whole bunch of vst’s. It doesn’t really matter what you use though, it’s the person that makes the tune sound good. When I used to do Live shows, it was all hardware (Drum machines, samplers, synths, vocalist etc.)
Our classic question: It’s 2 a.m. with a packed dance floor, what track do you drop to really make people reach for the sky?
MaRLo: Well it totally depends on the party, but in the past the crowd always went pretty crazy whenever I played my remix of Ferry Corsten’s Brain Box or also my remix of Key of Life… I think from now on though that my upcoming track featuring Jano called “The Island” and of course my remix of Ferry Corsten’s “Punk” – will probably get a dancefloor moving.
So where do you go from here? What releases should your fans be getting excited for? Any particular venues or festivals you’re anxious to play at?
MaRLo: My next single “MaRLo ft Jano – The Island” I am very excited about it, it will have a professional video clip and I’m really happy with how the track turned out… it will be out at the end of May.
There are quite a few big events and festivals coming up, so you can subscribe to my mailing list on http://www.marlomusic.com to receive all the latest news and updates.