elektro exclusive interview with Cosmic Gate
Part of the reason Cosmic Gate has been so successful over the years is their deep-rooted and uncompromising passion for bringing us music that moves the soul. From the insider days of 140 BPMs, to today’s EDM explosion and celebrity DJs, the two longtime friends and co-producer continues to deliver quality, transcendent music without sacrificing the essence that has always been ‘the Gate. Hot off the release of their recent ground-breaking artist album, Wake Your Mind, Nic and Stefan caught up with us to talk about the creative process, their roots, and maintaining balance.
Over the years, what’s the biggest shift you’ve seen within the electronic dance music culture?
Nic: Say ten years ago, it used to be more of an insider kind of music. You were listening to electronic in the US…it wasn’t as mainstream as it is now. There was hip-hop on the radio and that was the Top 40. EDM music…everybody knows the songs. So of course the crowd is a little more mainstream, but we were saying this before fighting for dance music, trance, progressive, whatever you call it, to break through and to get bigger. Back then Madonna was dance music. There are positive and negative factors to this big bubble now that this is bringing.
You’ve truly managed to stay true to your sound throughout the years. How do you find that balance?
Nic: Its nothing we really think about. The travelling, the DJ, and the reaction of the crowd when we play give us a big influence, and then when we’re in the studio…we never think, “Ok, we have to do it this way.” It comes naturally when we’re producing.
Stefan: Of course we adapt, because when you travel…say the speed was 140 BPM in ’98, if you stay on 140, you totally lose that 99% of the crowd. Of course, you get slower because everything now is slower. But the rest of Cosmic Gate is our chemistry, our taste, and our music that we’re bringing.
Can you take us back to when it all started and what sparked the initial passion in you to begin DJing and producing?
Stefan: We started to play very early. I started when I was seventeen and Klaus already was playing.
Nic: There are a lot of young DJs in this age but back then, to play as a seventeen year old guy was really rare. You were the nerd if you were the DJ. Our friends were asking us, “Why are you doing this? Let’s go party!” But no, we’d be there in this hidden secret corner playing the music that we thought was best for this party, and this is still the love that we have for it—playing the music that we think is good and will touch others like it touches us.
Favorite points in your musical career?
Stefan: We have so many. There’s Tomorrowland, Trance Energy 2002 when we played for 20,000 people in one indoor club, EDC, A State of Trance…the kind of gigs you play where every couple of minutes you get shivers just doing what you do…fortunately we have a lot, a lot of memories.
What does it feel like when you’re in the studio and you create a track that you know is going to touch people?
Stefan: Oh, that’s a question.
Nic: There is this moment when we’re working on a track, where we kind of look at each other and we know, that’s it.
Stefan: There have been times where its just like, ‘bang bang,’ where we feel it big time. We think to ourselves, “Wow, we hope the crowd feels it that way.”
Nic: You feel certain things; you’re never sure, you call it maybe a little bit arrogant to project your own taste on other people, but when we’re both looking at each other we give each other a high-five and turn up the volume.
What are you listening to right now?
Stefan: We don’t listen too much to EDM outside of this, because we listen to so many demos and when you’re out there, its nice sometimes to just listen to nothing and just chill.
Nic: Mat Zo, though, for the last two years is doing amazing, Arty, especially in the last year…I also listen a lot to deep house stuff like Solomun. I think that stuff is getting really big. Techno is coming up in the US a lot too. It’s so needed too; for the last couple of years it’s been all of these ‘Woo-woo’ bangers, but now two or three of the main promoters here in the West are focusing on techno. Even within trance though, we need some change again.
Stefan: For half a year we’ve been thinking, “Who is the DJ up there?” A lot of them play the same stuff, one banger after the other.
Nic: There are no middle parts, no mixed parts, just one banger after the other. When playing shows, we try to at least listen to half an hour to forty-five minutes of the artist before, to feel the crowd and see what’s going on. If you just get in from a flight, how can you get in the groove?
Stefan: We never know exactly what we’re going to play.
How much music do you have to choose from when you’re on stage weaving your set?
Stefan: We have USB sticks full of everything. The good thing is that we are two people, so while one is mixing the other can go through the songs and search for the new tracks, think what direction we’re going in, amp it up or go more trance-y.
If you weren’t doing this?
Stefan: I have no f*cking clue.
Nic: Maybe living under a bridge or something. Fortunately it all worked out.
The Deluxe Edition of Wake Your Mind (out in April) features remixes by some of the brightest established artists and rising stars, including Orjan Nilsen, Tritonal, W&W, Omnia, Ferry Corsten, and Alexander Popov, as well as co-writes with Arnej, Myon & Shane 54, and Andrew Bayer.