INTERVIEW: Sied van Riel (2013)
In addition to having just about the coolest last name, Sied Van Riel is very much a character – creating big room trance with a melodic edge. His recently released track “Carved By Your Hands” is a great example of how he blends trance and progressive to mold his own sound. As busy in the studio as he is on the road, I spoke with Sied back stage at the Armada showcase during the Amsterdam Dance Event.
DJ Ron Slomowicz: So tonight you are on Armada and doing a versus set with someone, who are you playing against?
Sied van Riel: Tonight, I am playing with Max Graham.
RS: Have you two played together before?
Sied van Riel: Not in a back-to-back, but we have played on the same event so I am really curious and kind of excited.
RS: Are you going to play one track and then he will play one track?
Sied van Riel: Yeah, he had the idea to do two tracks but we decided that one track would work better when doing a back-to-back.
RS: How different is your musical style versus his musical style?
Sied van Riel: I play some of his stuff, but my sets are more tech and in your face, he has a more deeper progressive sound, that’s why it is going to be very interesting. I am going to adjust a little bit to his sound.
RS: Are you playing the first track or is he?
Sied van Riel: He is going to do the first track.
RS: Do you know what it is?
Sied van Riel: No, we just had dinner and we decided that he would do the first track and I would do the last one.
RS: Do you know how or why you two were paired up?
Sied van Riel: Dan, my manager, actually asked me who I would prefer play to with and that was when I first dropped his name along with a few other guys. They went down the list and asked the first guy, who was Max, and he said yes right away.
RS: Are you on the Armada label or do you have your own label underneath?
Sied van Riel: I am signed to Armada. I don’t want my own label, I think that it is more important to build up my own career first and then start with a label after that.
RS: When were you signed to Armada? ?Sied van Riel: Last year. I had been with Spinnin’ Records for three years and always wanted to do stuff on Armada, but since it was exclusive to Spinnin’ I couldn’t do it. The first chance that I had, I went straight to Armada.
RS: What, to you, is the difference between being on Spinnin’ and being on Armada?
Sied van Riel: I feel that now I have more musical freedom compared to the period that I was with Spinnin’. I only recently got used to it because I was very focused on a slightly different style of trance than what I wanted to do. Now I have musical freedom again and I can basically do whatever I want.
RS: When you say the kind of trance that you want to do, what kind of trance is that?
Sied van Riel: I like the big riffs, big room melodies, simple music that has a lot of energy. I haven’t done one of those for a couple years, now I am actually finding my style again, it was kind of lost.
RS: Is having more freedom is helping you find yourself better??Sied van Riel: Yes, we evolve and so does music, you want to find your style again and then update it a bit. I have succeeded now, and the first new tracks will be coming out soon and hopefully people will like it.
RS: I spoke to W&W they talked about trance 2.0 and the different styles that are working together. I keep hearing that trance is going to be even bigger again after Dirty Dutch, where it is not as fast but has the prettiness of trance, where do you see the music going?
Sied van Riel: The tempo has dropped a bit but I think that it is going back to where it all came from. I don’t use the slogan “trance 2.0″ too much, because I think that it is still trance that just evolved. 2.0 means that it stopped at one point and I don’t think that it ever stopped, it just evolved. Different styles are merging but real trance is still real trance.
RS: If I am correct, you started out in the Acid House days, when did you start producing your own tracks?
Sied van Riel: Only about 5 years ago, I have been DJing on an amateur level forever and I realized that if I wanted to have a professional DJ career I needed to produce music. I borrowed money from a friend to buy a studio and learn whatever I had to learn, and basically did well from there. It was like 5 or 6 years ago when I started.
RS: Are you working in Logic or with Pro Tools?
Sied van Riel: I use Logic now but I still use Cubase and Ableton as well.
RS: Do you DJ with Ableton or on CDs?
Sied van Riel: CDs; I use USB now.
RS: Have you thought about going the laptop route?
Sied van Riel: No, it’s not my thing. I am an old school vinyl player, so I need to have the feeling of actually doing something. To go to USB was as if I was losing my religion because now, you just plug things in and that is it. I still have the feeling that I am playing, but if I was to do it from a laptop I think that it would be different.
RS: Don’t laugh at me, but is Rielalistic the new radio show?
Sied van Riel: It used to be Rielalistic but now it is called Rielism. I thought Rielalistic was a little too cheesy; Rielism, in a way, is as well because I am abusing my own last name. It is a radio show that I am doing biweekly. I don’t want it to become too important, I just do it on the side because I can show a different side of me during the radio shows.
RS: How is it different?
Sied van Riel: Well there is no crowd in front of you, and you don’t have to worry about keeping the crowd dancing. With the radio show, you can start out slowly and gradually build up using different tracks than I would play live.
RS: Do people that follow your radio show expect to hear that in your sets though?
Sied van Riel: Sometimes yeah, but I am always clear about it, there are some laid-back tracks that fit the radio show but would never work live. I want to have energy when I am live, unless I am doing a 4- or 5-hour set, I will start out with that stuff. Normally I only get an hour and a half and the only thing that I need to do is make sure that people dance, have a good time, and that the energy is high, some tracks just don’t work.
RS: Do you miss being able to play the long sets?
Sied van Riel: Yeah, I did a 4-hour set last week here in Holland and the week before a 5-hour set in Argentina. I love the long sets because you can really go on a rollercoaster ride, you can take it down a bit and let people breathe, go to the bar and get a drink, or go to the toilet and after 3 or 4 tracks you can take it up again. I love to do that.
RS: So you have played in America before, how do American crowds differ from European crowds?
Sied van Riel: In New York and LA they are nuts, I did Beyond Wonderland and there were 25 thousand people standing in front, jumping up and down and going crazy. Here in Holland they enjoy it on a different level and are not as wild as the US crowd; whenever I go to the US I know that it is going to be good because of the crowd.
RS: Are you on the DJ list?
Sied van Riel: I was for 2 years but like I said, I lost my style a bit and so I took a hit. It never influenced my gigs; I have had more gigs over the past few years than when I was in the Top 100. I don’t focus on it as much as maybe others do.
RS: Do you think that you are going to get back on it this year?
Sied van Riel: I hope so; I am going to do my best. In a way it is important and you also get recognition. People can love you but it is by votes and they will vote for their favorite producers. You can do a killer set but it’s the music that makes a difference these days I think.
RS: I agree. When you are in the studio working on your music, are you thinking about what is going to work on the dancefloor or the radio, what is on your mind?
Sied van Riel: I start off just doing something, and from there I polish it. Sometimes I work from feeling and then I can tell it’s not going to work on the dancefloor because it is too long. From there I polish it a bit, make it shorter and make sure that the drop is phat. When I work on drops and breakdowns, I imagine myself on stage and think how it would go down, it is the best reference.
RS: What new talents do you see coming up that you are really inspired by?
Sied van Riel: Oh man, there are guys like Tom Fall, Thomas Heredia who is a young guy from Buenos Aires, Chris Schweizer, who is also from Buenos Aires, has amazing music, every track you get goes straight into the sets, they go nuts.
RS: That’s surprising; I never knew that Buenos Aires was such a hot place for trance.
Sied van Riel: It is one of the best cities to play in, the crowd there goes nuts, it’s like the states, they enjoy music on a different level, trust me- you have tons of people crying. There is the “Sit Down” that originated in Argentina which is the ultimate respect for a DJ when you are playing. It shows that you are doing a good job and they appreciate you, the whole crowd, 3,000 people sit down and then when the drop comes they stand up and jump, it’s crazy.
RS: What inspired you to get into trance music?
Sied van Riel: Like you mentioned, I used to start out with Acid House and from there I went to hardcore, which also had melodies… It was rough, but they did. From there on out I basically started following guys like Sasha, Digweed, Ferry, Armin, and Thais (Tiesto), they had the melodies and slightly less aggressive music and that is what drew me into trance music.
RS: If people want to follow you what is that best way, Facebook, Twitter, your website?
Sied van Riel: I think that Twitter is the best, people always say that I post the weirdest bullshit on Twitter, it is my life in a nut shell. On Facebook I am slightly more professional, it is Facebook/officialsiedvanriel and Twitter is @siedvanriel.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Sied van Riel: I love them, as long as they love me.
Interview conducted during Amsterdam Dance Event 2012.