INTERVIEW: John O’Callaghan (2013)

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It’s nice to meet a big name producer who is completely down to earth.  Irish producer/DJ John O’Callaghan has achieved great success with massive club records (“Big Sky,” “Find Yourself”), international tours, high rankings on the DJ Mag list, and his own record label (Subculture, distributed through Armada).  Even through all this, he keeps a level head and is one of the most pleasant chaps I have have ever interviewed.

DJ Ron Slomowicz:  Congratulations on your spot in the DJ Mag list.  I see that you fell down a few spots (52-55), do you think that has a big effect on your career?
John: Not at all.

RS:  So the DJ Mag list is just a popularity contest?
John: No, it is important for people that are in the Top 10 or 15 because those are the people that get paid the most money. If you’re not in the top 15, it doesn’t matter if you are at 21 or 77 it is just nice to be on the list. I don’t think that you get paid or booked by what number you are.

RS:  Plus your music speaks for itself; it isn’t really about the placement.
John: Yeah, I could go to a country that I have never played in before and do great or go to a different country and not do so well. It changes every week, dance music is up and down. As I said, unless you are in the Top 15 popular acts, you’re playing to a completely different crowd.

RS:  Where is your favorite place to play?
John: Argentina.

RS:  I heard they are getting a big trance scene down there now.
John: Yeah, it is already massive.

RS:  What is the party scene like in Ireland?
John: It is massive; we have big shows, come to Ireland and see.

RS:  Do they treat you like royalty there?
John: No, I am just another commoner.

RS:  When you made “Big Sky” did you have any idea that it would become as big as it did?
John: No, because it was my first vocal track and I was just happy to have it finished and to know that Armin was playing it was good enough for me. When it got signed to Armada and became the track of the year it was incredible.

RS:  Do you not usually work with vocals?
John: Yeah, I do all the time.

RS:  Okay, because you said that it was your first vocal track.
John: It was at a time when I was still learning in my career.

RS:  Are you using Logic or Cubase?
John: Cubase

RS:  Where you a DJ or a producer first?
John: I was first a DJ in my bedroom with CDs and CD decks, I didn’t have vinyl. From DJing in my bedroom I went to the clubs, and then from there I went to production.

RS:  What was the first track that you ever made?
John: Oh man, I don’t even know, I know that there were a lot of bad ones though.

RS:  What was the first track that Armada picked up?
John: The first track that Armada signed was a track called “Mercury.” It was a 10 minute long acid ambient trancer with no real structure. It was an experimental track and back then you could get signed from tracks like that, but I don’t think they sign tracks like that anymore.

RS:  How often do you do your radio show,  Subculture?
John: I do a radio show every month for Subculture and it is on podcast, SoundCloud, and on a lot of FM stations too. That is where we put the new music and tracks out.

RS:  Does Subculture reflect your live sets or is it a different thing?
John: Some of the podcasts are live and direct records, we also do studio stuff and get more music.

RS:  What are you working on right now in the studio?
John: I just finished a new vocal track that is going to be coming out next year with a new vocalist from the UK.

RS:  What is her name?
John: I can’t announce that yet, it is all brand new so we will see what happens. After that I have my Subculture compilation that will be on CD in December. It is a mix from the club and a mix from the studio. It’s all good stuff.

RS:  I read that you did a track under the name Joint Operations Centre.  Why use an alias?
John: I have two very different styles, one is uplifting trance and one is tech trance and I didn’t want to confuse both styles with one name.

RS:  Where do you see trance music and EDM going?
John: I think that electronic dance music is massive, it is bigger than hip-hop and I don’t think that it can get any bigger.

RS:  A lot of people are saying that after the dirty Dutch sound the next sound is going to be a trance 2.0 where it brings in elements of other genres and a lower BPM, do you see that happening?
John: I think that it is already happening, unfortunately trance is slowing down because there is more of a mass appeal of the growth of EDM in general. The BPM has slowed down and it is more accessible to the public,  but trance as I know it will always be high tempo, which is what I learned from and what I am sticking to.

RS:  If people want to follow you is Twitter or Facebook the best way?
John: Yeah, Twitter.com/jocofficial.

RS:  What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
John: Thank you for all of your support, all the tweets and Facebook messages and for voting in this year’s poll. Without you I wouldn’t be doing this, so thank you!

Interview conducted during Amsterdam Dance Event 2012.

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