Calvin Harris: "I didn't set out to make trance"

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If you’ve been near a mainstage at one of the tent-pole dance festivals this summer (or last), you’ve probably sensed a theme to the biggest crowd-pleasers. You could join Tiesto in coining the anthemic, stadium-geared sound ‘trouse’, and look to acts like Laidback Luke, the Swedish House Mafia and Calvin Harris for examples. The craze has carried into the pop charts as well – or in the words of Nicolas Jaar recently, “Now all pop is trance and I’ve no idea where we can go from here.”

Back in 2009 (a year or so before he announced he was ditching the live show to become a full-time DJ), Calvin Harris went to the top of the UK charts with I’m Not Alone: a track that would end up with its fair share of facsimiles and straight-up rip-offs (hello, Chris Brown!). In an interview this week with Music Radar, the Scottish producer talks about how the track includes “a lovely preset called something like ‘Trance Keys’,” and the end result turned out to be somewhat of an accidental foray into “instant trance euphoria”.

“I can honestly say that I didn’t set out to make a trance tune,” Harris quips in the interview. “At the time, trance was really out in the cold. Yeah, you’d got your hardcore trance guys who’d been there since day one, but, in terms of the mainstream, trance was old hat. No one was interested.

“I was actually quite worried that people weren’t going to get it. It was dance, but it was pop, as well. It had this big trance riff, but then it had guitars. It was quite upbeat, but there was a bit of darkness in there, too. People didn’t really know what to make of it. When it first went to the radio stations, they all said, ‘What the hell is he playing at? He’s made a trance record!’ … If I’d have actually sat down and thought about it logically, I probably would have said, ‘Hang on, this is trance. No one will take it seriously’.”

Harris also goes on to say that the I’m Not Alone template has been bastardised since the song’s release, and his 2012-slated album will be a different beast – if it ever gets finished. “I think the main thing I’ve tried to do with this album is not cover the same old ground,” he says. “It’s still sounding quite epic, but that whole I’m Not Alone thing has been done to death. Loads of people have jumped on that sound. I want to do something different. I want to challenge myself and feel in danger of messing up. Sometimes, you need to do that to get the best out of yourself.”

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