INTERVIEW: Tenishia (2013)
Maltese DJ/production duo Joven Grech and Cyprian Cassar, better known as Tenishia, have done a lot to put the island nation on the international scene. Their debut artist album ‘Memories of a Dream’ continues to spawn singles as the duo tour the world. Moving up to the Top 50 on the DJ Mag list is just one of the many signs that Tenishia are ones to watch.
RS: So you guys are from Malta, what is the scene like there?
Joven: Great, it was really good in the ’90s and it went down a little, but it is coming back up. We have a big fan base there and when we do a Tenishia concert, we have 1% of the population there.
RS: You guys produce all of your own events, didn’t you?
Joven: Yes of course, besides doing Tenishia in concert we do Tenishia events four times a year. We are currently working with some other promoters in the trance family on trance events in Malta.
RS: Were you all DJs first or producers?
Joven: I was a DJ first, but Cyprian started as a producer, we joined forces and from there Tenishia was born.
RS: What does Tenishia mean?
Joven: It doesn’t have any meaning, it is just a catchy name that we chose for our project.
RS: Didn’t Cyprian have a classical music background?
Cyprian: I did.
RS: How did you make the move from making classical music to electronic music?
Cyprian: I started playing the piano when I was 10 years old and when I was 17 I started going to parties and started producing from there.
RS: How did the two of you meet?
Joven: It was pretty funny actually, we met through mutual friends at a party, our discussion ended up in music and we discovered that we had that same taste. The next day we went to the studio and experimented and made huge steps forward, we took it from there and a few years later we signed the first track to Armada.
RS: Have you guys been with Armada for your whole career?
Joven: Yes, it started when we gave a CD to Markus Schulz who was playing at Malta, after a few months we went on his radio show and he said that he wanted to sign our first track called “Five.”
RS: Are you two playing together tonight or are you playing vs. someone?
Joven: No, we played together earlier, which was a pretty tricky set because it was the opening set, at the same time it was a warm up for Armin so we had to start really slow until the people came in and then do the progression.
RS: Is that the time that you usually play or do you normally play prime time?
Joven: I am not going to say that we hate it, because we love warming up, but we do play at peak times as well, even in our production and DJ sets we are pretty diverse so we can play anything from progressive to tech-y to uplifting, we like good music.
RS: I also noticed that you have worked with some of my favorite vocalists like Jan Johnston and Susana, how do you choose the vocalists that you work with?
Joven: Actually, we met Jan Johnston and Kirsty Hawkshaw in Malta; they were the very first vocalists that we worked with. It was a really big asset to have these two legends work with us when we were first starting our career. Jan Johnston is the first lady in trance and Kirsty Hawkshaw has all the hits, so it was a big push for us and a great honor to work with them, they helped us a lot.
RS: Probably my favorite mix of yours is the one that you did for Headstrong, how did that come about?
Joven: That track was an acoustic track that we originally heard on MySpace in 2007. Headstrong told us that he was going to take it and produce it and when he was about to release it he contacted us and asked us to remix it. We had wanted to remix it since 2007, because it was such a great vocal so it was our pleasure.
RS: When the two of you collaborate in the studio is Cyprian on the computer and are you shouting ideas, how do you work together?
Joven: Since we can’t be on the computer at the same time we both come up with ideas and exchange and argue them but always agree on the ending result.
RS: When you DJ, do you DJ by yourself?
Joven: No, we always do back to back from side to side and track vs track.
RS: How do you coordinate that?
Joven: I don’t know, we play spontaneously and we don’t prepare any sets. Obviously, we see the time slot that we are playing in and we figure out the tracks that we want to play and we alternate, it just goes from there.
RS: Who do you see as the next big trance guy coming up?
Joven: I don’t see anyone but Armin, he is keeping trance alive and A State of Trance is unbelievable, it is really turning the world into a dancefloor.
RS: I hear talk of Trance 2.0, a new flavor of trance that is a little slower that is supposedly a new sound coming after dirty Dutch, do you hear that coming also?
Joven: Yes. Look, we are into a good music, like I said we are very diverse with our production and DJ sets, so if this is coming, we are going to like it and play it.
RS: What do you have coming out, release-wise?
Joven: We released a whole album last July and we are releasing singles from it now. We just had a remix for Andrew Rayel’s “Where Do We Begin,” Armin played it 3 times on A State of Trance and it was the future favorite tune of the week. Next one is going to be another single from the album that we did with Chris Jones called “Memory Of A Dream,” it is a vocal track of course and I think that it is going to be really big.
RS: Who did the remixes on it?
Joven: We are working on finding a remixer for this one, we are very picky so we want to do the right thing and see who is available. We thought of a few producers but they were busy at the time so we are looking for the right person.
RS: If you could pick anyone in the world to remix it who would it be?
Joven: Armin, Dash Berlin, and Cosmic Gate would be really good, they have good sounds. We are really happy with the Andrew Rayal remix as well, there are so many people out there and a lot to choose from but it really all depends on the track and what kind of emotion it has. Everyone has something special to offer, and every producer has a certain kind of track that they are good with.
RS: Where were you guys on the DJ list?
Joven: We were at 91 last year and we went up to 50- we weren’t expecting it, but we have a lot of support from our homeland in Malta, and obviously the album helped with getting international votes, it was a very good year for us – we played big events like Tomorrowland. To be honest I didn’t think that we were going to go up that much.
RS: How do you think that is going to affect your career for 2013?
Joven: Obviously it is going to affect it greatly, with us being in the top 50 now promoters are going to look at us; it’s another selling point for us to the promoters.
RS: If your fans want to follow you what is the best way, Twitter, Facebook?
Joven: I think that Facebook is still the best; in our country Facebook is much bigger than Twitter. I know that in America Twitter is much bigger, but I prefer Facebook.
RS: Is Malta your favorite place to play?
Joven: Malta is our home and the people feel as if they are part of the Tenishia story. They have been there from the very beginning and they have seen us play in small clubs to bigger clubs to arenas to selling out our concerts, the helped us with the DJ Mag and support us on the internet. Malta is a small country made up of islands so there aren’t that many cities and places to play much there, but when we do it is always to play at home.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Joven: A big thank you, especially for voting for us.
Interview conducted during Amsterdam Dance Event 2012.