Unedited, straight from the heart, check out what Paul van Dyk has to say about each of the tracks on his recently released sixth album ‘Evolution’. Paul spent much of a recent flight to the States writing and reflecting on the album making process, sharing background and anecdotes on how the various productions and vocal collaborations came into existence. Here, in his own words, track-by-track, is the evolution of ‘Evolution’.
‘Symmetries’ feat. Austin Leeds
“At the start of ‘Evolution’s production I assembled this hybrid studio set-up which I could take into clubs. Through keyboards and effects boxes, it allowed me to work pretty much any type of new element you can imagine into a track. I’m not sure if clubbers realized it at the time, but they were essentially interacting with the music making process of ‘Evolution’. Their reactions were showing me which direction each of the tracks should take. Austin started ‘Symmetries’ by producing this piece that had the drums, percussion loops and bassline and sent me this wonderful backing track. I had a piano hook line in my head and in the club I started playing it over the top. This was the first time that the two parts came together and the track we arrived with at the end became ‘Symmetries’.”
‘The Ocean’ feat. Arty
“I met Arty in Russia sometime in 2010 and we talked at that point about making music together. That has led to two tracks on the album. On ‘The Ocean’ I was sent over some strings and sequence patterns, which I was really feeling. I then came back in with other elements and it turned into this big back-and-forth mechanism. Arty brought the topline, which is really harmonic and angelic and we used it really more like an instrument than a vocal. We both felt very strong about the parts that had gone in and I then took it and began to properly produce it.”
‘The Ocean’ (inc. Las Salinas Mix) is released on Beatport, July 2nd.
‘Eternity’ feat. Adam Young
“Eternity’ was actually the third track that went over to Adam before he was really inspired to write something. When the first one went over to him he came back and said, “you know Paul, I really don’t know what to do with this – it’s a completed track!” I said: “ok, no problem, let’s try something else”, so I did and he e-mailed me back saying: “wow, this is realllly complex. I don’t really feel there’s the space for me to write something”. So we ended up jumping on the phone and having this incredibly wide-ranging conversation, talking about everything from the weather to life, religion, the universe and everything. I found he was this clever fascinating guy with a really inspired perspective way of looking at life. So then I went back and started to work on a production that had more of an open end, that didn’t box Adam in. It allowed him to add in the story element to the song and that dynamic worked beautifully.”
‘Verano’ feat. Austin Leeds
“To me there’s this definite attraction-of-opposites with Austin and myself, which I find pretty absorbing. When we were making ‘Verano’ I was going to the studio in Berlin, which was covered in snow at the time and Austin would be dialling in from Miami. We’d be working on the same track, but he’d be looking out and seeing cloudless skies and palm trees! With my music making, it always has its start-point in the dark and dirty basement clubs of Berlin. When that meets Austin’s background – Miami: very expressive, very outgoing, sunny, irrepressible - I think the strange connect that lies between those two elements is what makes if work so well.”
‘I Don't Deserve You’ feat. Plumb
“Plumb’s this singer/songwriter who has gotten really big through Tennessee’s Contemporary Christian scene. Watching TV one evening I heard a track of hers and was really impressed. We contacted the show’s musical supervisor and he put us in contact with her. ‘I Don’t Deserve You’ was quite a tricky one to pull off. I was after something that had real depth to it, which would suit her voice. At the same time it was really intimate but also had some lift to it. It was quite a precise balance to strike. She came back with the most wonderful lyrics and vocals and the minute I heard them I absolutely knew they were going to work in the track!”
‘The Sun After Heartbreak’ feat. Sue McLaren & Arty
“Arty and I went into the composing phase on the track and basically came up with something that was very straight beats, 132bpm, with a kind of progressive house lean to it. As we got further into it, I started to see that it could work better as something much more ‘lifty’ and at that point we changed its direction and gave a lot more momentum and drive. So with the tempo rise, we began to test the drum&bass elements and felt that really worked too. For me Sue McLaren is one of the best new vocalists to come along in the time since ‘In Between’ and ‘Evolution’. I just really, really love her voice. I’d been working with her on a different track, but one that was in the same key and one day I had this flash of inspiration, tried them together and the synergy that was happening between all the aspects became really compelling”.
“This track came about through a fairly unusual path too. I’m a big fan of this group from Liverpool called The Wombats. They had a new album called ‘This Modern Glitch’ due out and they asked if I could work on a remix for the first single ‘Tokyo’. Their label then had a change of heart, switched things around and opted for another track as a single instead. I was in the studio trying to work this out, trying to make something of this other track – which funnily enough was called ‘Techno Fan’! - and it just didn’t seem to be working. I got so frustrated in a way and needed to do something to release the musical pressure. That ‘release’ resulted in ‘Rock This’! It was kind of like an outpouring of artistic frustration!”
‘Dae Yor’ feat. Ummet Ozcan
“One of the attractions for me with working with Ummet was that he’s not ‘everywhere’ artist yet. Like Sue McLaren, for me it’s about catching very talented people early in their career. So Ummet’s still a fresh name and he’s doing really cool, quite underground and different tech-ish trance. We met at Tomorrowland and we talked about doing something together at that point. Ummet started sending files back and forth and ‘Dae Yor’ was what came out at the end of that development.”
‘All The Way’ feat. Tyler Michaud & Fisher
“Tyler started out doing some tracks for VANDIT, as well as a few remixes and during the A&R process he sent us over this track. The note that came with it said he wasn’t really sure what to do with it, or which direction to take it in. At that stage it was this really kooky, quirk-filled, kinda dubstep-ish, electro. I liked both of the elements but I told him I didn’t feel they worked together. Sometimes you get a cruel irony like that. So he asked if I’d be interested in coming in and working on it. I recorded a basis that I felt was a lot more compatible to Fisher’s song”.
‘If You Want My Love’ feat. Caligola
“Caligola are these two guys, Gustaf and Bjorn, who front Swedish alternative rock band Mando Diao. They were telling me about this whole new persona they’d created, under the name Caligola, which was more like an artist collective than the band. They were in the final stages of writing their album and they suggested that they take something from it and turn it my way. I was very touched by this. It was a generous thing for them to offer. So I took the track and came at it from quite an avant-garde angle, while still, I think, keeping the strong rock presence of the vocal in. Its very much a sidestep for the album, one of the least expected tracks on there and quite an experimental one maybe.”
‘Lost In Berlin’ feat. Michelle Leonard
“Cities are a pretty communal inspiration in general and I mentioned to Michelle that I’d done ‘New York City’ on ‘In Between’ and felt that I was a bit uncomfortable with never having done anything based around my home city. She didn’t miss a beat and said ‘leave that to me.’ She came back 3, or maybe 4 weeks later with this incredibly beautiful track that somehow really captures Berlin’s past/present essence. The lyrics are quite voyeuristic too. She’s never told me exactly what they were about and of course like all songs, they’re open to interpretation. To me though ‘Lost In Berlin’ feels like it’s about a relationship that may or may not make it. Sometimes hopeful, sometimes melancholic and introspective but with this beautiful, slightly damaged edge to it.”
‘Everywhere’ feat. Fieldwork
“Fieldwork is Johnny McDaid under a new artist name. With the song he was aiming to deconstruct the traditional love song, I think. As standard, love songs always define everything as huge – big, grand gestures, full-size words - lots of heavy import and meaning. It’s kind of love through the Hollywood magnifier, I guess. If you’re really being honest about it, love is in fact something small, intimate and personal. It’s about relatively minor details because after all, it is only about two people at the end of the day.”
‘A Wonderful Day’ feat. Giuseppe Ottaviani
“Aside from being one of the most exceptional musicians I’ve ever met, Giuseppe is also the most wonderful, stunning captivating character you can possibly imagine! We’ve done a lot of music together in the past and that’s going to continue for a long time. For me it’s not foreseeable to have a Paul van Dyk album without Giuseppe’s involvement somehow. There has been studio chemistry there from the start. You can be in the studio with him for 5 minutes and after that time a track is already in motion. There’s no ‘trying’ with him, we’re always in sync and there’s only fluid production.”
‘We Come Together’ feat. Sue McLaren
“For me the unification of people on the dancefloor is one of the most enduring, motivating factors throughout my career to date. Electronic music has been bringing people together for 25 years now and I think its done it more effectively than any other music movement in modern history. The fact that it draws people together from all different backgrounds, religions and citizenships and marginalizes negative attitudes and violence is wonderful. I spoke to Sue, and her co-writer Stephen Massa about this and they came back saying they thought they had an idea for it. I gave them a backing track, which had quite a melodic trance tone to it and they quite quickly brought the draft vocal for it. I loved it as it encapsulated what we were talking about perfectly.”
‘Heart Stops Beating’ feat. Sarah Howells
“I met Sarah for the first time at a big festival in Hamburg. I grabbed her as she came off and said ‘hey, listen, I’m playing all the tracks you’re singing on anyway, why don’t we collaborate in someway?’ She sent me ‘Heart Stops Beating’ and I really lost it. The track has trancey elements, it has electro aspects and there are even rock parts in there, with the great boomy, bassy guitar. With every year that goes by it becomes harder and harder to categorize a greater percentage of electronic dance music that’s released and that I find a generally a positive trend. Maybe one day terms like electro, house, trance and techno will cease to be used entirely and music will either be ‘good’, ‘bad’ or ‘ok’! Who knows!”