Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Airwave

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Airwave

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about Airwave, a Belgian-born producer. After writing about him, I got my hands on a copy of In The Mix 001: Progressive Sessions mixed by Airwave. I had never heard of this guy before, but was blown away with this release.

Over the years Airwave has changed his name for whatever reason… You might know him as Blue Velvet or Cosmic Jukie. Heck, you might know him as PLG, V-Two, Green Martian, Larry Laffer or Planisphere. Or… Laurent Véronnez, his birth name.

After writing about his new release, I just had to learn more. I requested an interview and had a blast getting to know this guy. Remember, he lives in Belgium. I am always looking for another reason to visit the Kingdom of Belgium.

Guys, it is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Airwave.

Your new mix compilation is amazing… I’ve listened to it several times now. Tell me a little bit more about In The Mix 001: Progressive Sessions.
Well, thanks! This opener of a new series is the result of months of head scratching as I was trying to find the perfect blend between the more edgy sound of progressive house and the trance sound most people know me for without crossing the lines of what I don’t like in the genre. In the Mix 001 is my very first DJ compilation in years, as my previous one, Summer Euphoria, was from… 2008. I was constantly thinking that people didn’t want to see me as a DJ, and god I was wrong, but because of that, I believe I missed the plot for years. I shouldn’t have let it get cold like this, which is probably the reason why it took me months to get grips with a new compilation. And I know that this one had to live up to expectations, because of my actual discography. I’ve really had such a come back production-wise the last 3 years, but at the same time it’s important that people don’t forget that I DJ too. With an important discography such as mine, it’s one hell of a challenge. This is why I’m really happy with the overall result.

You worked with Solarstone, Sean Tyas, Audio Noir and Matt Holliday on this. But you would never know it. The album start to finish just feels like one continuous mix. Walk me through your process of picking artists to work with and why you picked the names that appear on this release.
I never judge a record by its cover! You have tons of unknown artists, newcomers, young people on this one. On top of that, when people that I know put out great records that I can play, well it’s the icing on the cake. I just got lucky for this one, my good pals came up with great records recently so picking them up was a no-brainer for me. Solarstone remixed by Gai Barone is a winning combo, and so is Sean Tyas going progressive and dark for a change. How could I pass on those gems? You have to know how many records I get, this without having the status of a superstar DJ. It’s unreal. The fact I’m into trance as much as I’m into progressive and even a bit of techno means that I get thousands of releases every single month. The only reason why those tracks were featured is because they sound great for me, they fit into my world, both as a DJ and as a musician. This is what matters most. Of course I had to make hard decisions at times as the first version of the playlist was already containing 40 tracks and the people I work with came up with another bunch of 50 great tracks! So I had to go down from 90 tracks to 30. It makes me sad all the time. I wish I could give everyone a slot. But I had to make those choices.

You are all over the world, but don’t seem to be on a consistent tour. I am going to be in Prague, but before your show in November. How do you decide where to play and can fans expect more tour dates in the coming months?
I’m into a very enviable position as I don’t feel the need to stand everywhere so everyone sees I’m active, so I’m not touring constantly. I’m a musician, I compose a lot of music today, my music is my very very best PR. That means that whenever I’m going for a gig, I’m truly going for it. Money made isn’t very important either, as long as I can entertain and educate the crowd. My last gig in New York in June was incredible. I’m so passionate about music and my fans that I do not wish to think too much about the touring business like many other DJs do. They need to play all the time to get somewhere instead of focussing on more important matters such as the MUSIC they should put into the first place. Where I play, for which crowd, are not so important. I don’t need to hold trophies, I’m on a mission for the future of music creation. For my gigs, I have agents who get me booked here and there and I’m happy that way with what I get, at the other side of the planet as well as in my country, like at the end of this month where I’ll play a beachside set. Actually this summer has been made quiet on purpose so I can focus on my music, while September will see me play Ibiza at The Zoo Project 2015, then two weeks after I’ll be in France, October is Amsterdam Dance Event period, so I’ll play at Hotel Arena in Amsterdam on October 14th, and November is the busiest, Spain on November 14th, and the week after I’ll play in Antwerp, Belgium while my “Classics Studio Set” will be broadcasted at Transmission in Prague. There are many more things in the works gig-wise. I’m proud of what places I’ve been to, but what matters are the music and the people I meet.

What is LCD Sessions?
LCD Sessions is my monthly radio show, every second Tuesday of the month, on Trance on Digitally Imported, 6:00 p.m. CET, right before Global Trance Grooves. LCD Sessions is the true representation of my everyday life as a DJ. I like the smooth intro and start and the peak moments, towards the end. A perfect blend between progressive house and psy trance. Because where I’m coming from there’s no line, no gap between those genres I play in LCD Sessions and In The Mix.

You are originally from Brussels. The last time I was in Paris, we spent the day in Brussels. I’m a huge fan of craft beer. Being from Brussels, safe to say you drink craft beer? If so, what are some of your favorite beers and brewing companies?
You’re going to laugh at me. I hate beer. I have never really liked it. If there’s one beer I can barely stand, that’s the Kriek. Everything else tastes just awful to me!

You have worked with a ton of record labels including JOOF Recordings, Mistique Music and Bonzai Progressive. How do record companies differ and as an artist, how do you decide who to work with.
While Bonzai Progressive is heading towards progressive house and trance at a slower tempo, JOOF isn’t afraid of some uptempo escapades as John has the exact same profile as mine as a DJ, but I have this huge story with Bonzai. We all play the same styles of music and we have this common vision after all. So depending on the sound I either go for Bonzai Progressive or JOOF, basically. Slower or darker regularly means it goes to Bonzai Progressive first, but there are exceptions though, look at my latest single, “A Touch Of Grace.” It’s very trancy and melodic, yet it’s on Bonzai Progressive. Uptempo and more melodic definitely goes to JOOF first, although the guys have a strong relationship with each other so we discuss who releases what all the time. That’s the 2015 way to do business I think, where labels aren’t competitors anymore and just decide everything together with only the artist’s exposure for sole purpose.

I love the In The Mix 001 album cover. Where did you take that picture?
I’m happy you like it. It was the photographer’s idea, actually (Xavier Portela). It was taken at Brussels Airport, the stairs going down to the train platforms. Today I wouldn’t be allowed to take this picture as meanwhile the national rail put security barriers. It makes it even more unique.

You have performed in front of some pretty big crowds over the years. Do you prefer bigger crowds like you would see at a festival or smaller more intimate crowds that you would see in a nightclub?
I have no specific preference if the crowd attending is up for it. The music should remain the same. I don’t like the idea of playing different sets because the venue is bigger or smaller, it’s complete nonsense to me. Music first, people first, not the venue, not the gig, not the festival.

Your first album Believe came out in 2002. You’ve released several more over the years including Touareg and Dark Lines. Out of all the albums you have released, do you have a favorite?
Trilogique stands out as it’s the broadest one genre-wise, but Dark Lines really did something to me too. Can’t choose! Help!

Listening to your music makes me think of early BT. Do you know Brian and have you found inspiration from him over the years?
We’ve known each other personally for 6 years. I’m still fond of his early records as much as his latest ambient tracks. Working with him on some remixes and projects was a dream come true for the musician that I am as he’s been part of a critical period of my early musician days. I’m quite flattered by your comparison to be honest, there is a lot worse than this one.

Over the years you have worked for more than 35 projects. From Blue Velvet to North Pole to V-Two, you can’t to decide on a name! Why did you pick Airwave and are you working on any more projects that we haven’t heard of yet?
This 35 projects names thing belongs to the past and for good. It corresponds to a period during which I was looking for my inner self into the music I was making. Today I would like to focus on Airwave, eventually a few side projects, and done because I have found myself, and the balance that comes with it. Besides that, it makes sense as people don’t see the credits on the record itself, as it’s been dematerialized. The only thing they see is the artist name and the title.

What’s next for Airwave?
Tons of great projects with Bonzai Progressive and JOOF. And maybe a few surprises in 2016. Can’t talk much for now. It’s cooking and I have to remain close to the oven. (Laughs.)

In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
Glad I can still do this kind of interview after 20 years in the business. Most people disappear after a decade and I feel lucky that some people still are interested in what I do without getting fed up with it. After two decades, it would be understandable. So, thank you!

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