In conversation with Sied van Riel on ‘Rielism 2’
Just after New Year, Sied van Riel and I sat down for a chat. The aim was to get a bit of background/extra perspective to the release of his just-out-there (and pretty darn special) mix-comp 'Rielism 2’. What came out of it I think was a strong insight into his process for the release, as well as some often personal and sometimes unexpected elements that became part of “Rielism's long-awaited ‘Pt.2’.
Tim: Welcome, Sied. How are things in the Riel world at the moment? Good festive period!?
Sied: Things are looking bright in the Riel world! (your choice of words, not mine!) Had a great time during the ‘holidays’. Spent most of it on the road and at events, but you will never hear me complaining about that!
Tim: Any New Years resolutions we need to know about!?
Sied: I'm mentally preparing myself to quit smoking. I’m sick and tired of ruining my health, abusing my body and having a little thing like a cigarette controlling my life. As with everything that I do, I think about it a lot, and gear up for it before actually doing it. This way I'm better prepared than just doing things impulsively.
Tim: Very much the way to go! Now, we’re here today primarily to talk about ‘Rielism 2’. It’s been close to two and a half years since you brought out the first ‘Rielism’ album - maybe longer than the average for a ‘Pt.2’. Why do you feel that was?
Sied: The past years have been, I guess you could say, perplexing for me, in several respects. Things changed rapidly and I had a hard time to adjusting it that. Or maybe better to say I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do and how to evolve without losing what I stand for. There were a lot of things going on in my private life that really affected me, and the way I thought/felt about things. If there's one move that I didn't want to do was to release Pt.2 in the middle of all that and thus send the wrong signal to the world. So the obvious thing to do for me was to hold fire on the release. Thankfully the guys from Black Hole Recordings were really patient with me and gave me all the space I needed to do that.
Tim: Was there anything you particularly wanted to ‘say’ with this album? Or is this more of a straightforward ‘next chapter’ mix-comp.
Sied: Yeah I wanted and want to show people what I stand for, and that's Trance. It’s the reason why I'm here and that's the predominant feature of ‘Rielism 2’.
Tim: How does the music mix & style vary (if at all) from your first ‘Rielism’ installment?
Sied: There is a noticeable difference in track choice for sure. It shows how I was thinking two and a half years ago, how I look at things in the here-and-now. There is a significant difference between the two.
Tim: Give us some insight into the process that each compilation goes through, in terms of its compiling and mixing?
Sied: Well for me the first aspect I consider is: "what purpose does it have"? It's not a club or festival situation. Compilations are listened to in-car, at home, pre and or post parties, the gym, airplanes and a whole manner of other casual situations.
Then it’s onto "what vibe do I want in both mixes"? During this process I sit down and actually try to imagine the vibe of situations where it would be played. To relive moments I've experienced, I think about crowds that I play for; the faces, expressions I see when certain tracks are being played and the reactions to them. It's hard to describe; I hope you understand what I mean.
Tim: So you’re saying that you’re trying to determine from your behind-decks experience if/how a track will work as well in a casual situation as opposed to a club one?
Sied: Yup that’s pretty much it. Does this track match and fit the purpose of what I had imagined it to be.
From there its moves into a “how do I get there" phase? Which type of tracks am I looking for to create the vibe I’ve envisaged at each point of the mix? I made two intro tracks for the start of the CDs. The warm up to 138 and from there you’re looking for tracks that are going to create the right ebb and flow to the mix. The peak, drops, layups, etc. From there you consider what type of vocal tracks am I looking for; which producers and or labels out there can hopefully help me with getting to where I want to go. I asked certain producers for tracks and some sent me ones that weren't destined or meant for Rielism 2. After hearing those tracks and finishing some collaborations, I asked if I could use it for the compilation and thankfully every single one of them said yes. Pure Light, Sherano, Bogdan Vix, Sneijder, the co-op I did with Wezz Devall and the one with Eximinds are just a few examples of those.
Once we’ve got those tracks in hand I start to experiment with tracks at certain stages in the mix. Checking transitions and track choices over and over again to make sure it's done exactly how I want it to be for the compilation. If a certain track didn't match the timing, I either pushed it back on the track list or in few occasions remove the track from the contention. Then after completion I transferred both mixes to Arny and Mark from Black Hole and waited for their feedback. One thing about me, I have to mix first then the track list can be cleared. I can't base 2 mixes on just seeing the names of the tracks and listening to them separately. So far I've never had an issue with a track not being cleared thankfully.
Tim: What’s the day-one start-point for the mix-comp?
Sied: hour-one starts with a huge amount of coffee, an empty mind and by opening up a big ole book of patience!
Tim: Ah! So in your experience it’s never a straightforward process?
Sied: Nah, never is!
Tim: Do you find compiling or mixing the toughest aspect of the compilation’s creation?
Sied: For me personally both bring a lot to the table as you've probably noticed above. The 2 have to come together at 1 point in order to make it work for me. That said I did spend more time on preparations than actually on the sequencing/mixing it in Rielism 2’s case.
Tim: How close a representation do you feel it is to you ‘average’ club set?
Sied: It's pretty close, although as I've said I didn't mix the compilation with the aim for it to be a club or festival type of thing. When I play live there's more mayhem presented! Depending on the time of my set, mixing between tracks will follow each other more rapidly and track choice is done ‘in the moment’, 90% of the time.
Tim: There’s obviously a lot of music that’s close to you heart on there. If you had to pick one artist from the tracklist that you see as a bright, shining hope for 2014, who would that be and why?
Sied: I’d say (and not simply because he's a friend) that Sneijder is my future hero. An amazing producer and an awesome guy. After we met during a tour in Australia we became good friends and honestly everything this guy is sending me is spot on. But let's not forget about Bogdan Vixx and Sherano - two very talented producers if you ask me.
Tim: There’s notably a lot of you own, thus-far unreleased material on there. More so maybe than the average mix-comp. In the absence of a Sied van Riel album, is this a form of stopgap for fans, do you think?
Sied: Well you know, 2013 was a quieter year when it comes to releases from me. After ‘Past Present Future’, ‘Adagio For Wings’ and the collab with JOC on Subculture, I was preparing this compilation and a lot of new singles for a long time. There was a big build up. Then when I made up my mind I was like, ‘you know what, I want to use more new material on Rielism 2’ so this is the reason why the new stuff ended up on there. I didn't want to give it all away so it was more obvious for me to ask for the collaborations to be featured on and not 7 new singles from myself and give everything away. Hope that says enough!
Tim: Tell us about some of the producers you’ve collaborated with for you tracks for the album and how they came about?
Sied: I met Exminds at ASOT 600 in Minsk. Cool guys and shortly after we discussed a collaboration and actually completed it quite fast. The collab with Forbes (David) happened when I was in Glasgow as I use the same studio to mix tracks as he does. "Beast Within Me" just happened as we went. With this track it was all about bass, edginess and melody. A bit different, but we are both extremely happy with this one. Wezz (Devall) and me, well we’ve been in touch for a long time over Skype. Very talented guy, so it was a matter of time before we did anything together. ‘Razor’ is groovy and sounds big when I play it live. The Signe G intro has a different story. She actually sent me a full vocal, but then I was creating an intro for disc 1 and I had the urge to use a short vocal sample. This is when I was like.. ‘wait a minute!! she's saying "breathe in breathe out". Perfect!
Tim: Among the tracks ‘8 Decades’ has caused more than it’s fair share of comment. Most recently MIXMAG said it had both “melody with uplift, without ever losing its cool”. Its about to appear as a single, with a new vocal - tell us how that came about?
Sied: There's a story behind 8 Decades that probably no one expects.
On the day my grandmother passed away Leon Bolier & I produced ‘Dark Star’, but after that I had the need for something more personal and with more depth.
‘8 Decades’ was produced, the title referring to her little over 8 decades on this planet. I didn't do anything with the track for 2 years. Then Giuseppe called asking for tracks for the ‘Pure Trance 2’ compilation. So I was like, ‘dude do you like this one’? And he instantly said ‘yes’. Shortly after this he told me about his plans for starting Go On Air Recordings and asked me if ‘8 Decades’ could be the first release on his label. Obviously I said yes as it's a big honor for me. Then I was like, why don't I add a vocal and reproduce the track so I can offer something new and exclusive to the people instead of just an extended version of the track. Adina Butar and I met during a New World Punx boat party in Ibiza and we discussed working together. So I sent the track to her. Shortly after that she sent me 2 demos and the lyrics. 1 instantly caught my attention so after we adjusted the lyrics a bit she recorded the vocal. We're both very happy with the result and so is Giuseppe. So there you have it. That is the full story behind ‘8 Decades’!
Tim: Knew there had to be a good reason for it! So based on the response to this release, do you think we’ll be seeing a ‘Rielism 3’ at some point in the future?
Sied: You can count on that! It feels so good to be back. Ain't no stopping me now.
Tim: Rielism 2 is obviously a great jumping-on point for the year. In terms of what you know, what does 2014 hold in store for you?
Sied: I'm extremely excited about 2014 and very glad I took a step back in 2013 to think about things and prepare for the coming year. A new USA and Canada agent is in place, new management and the release schedule is looking very good. Next up are "8 Decades", "Share This Night" with Chris Jones, and Regulators with Bjorn Akesson on FSOE recordings. I've also just remixed "Dobenback ft Joanna - Please Don't Go" for Armada. After this, well you'll just have to wait and hear!
Tim: Finally Sied, how ‘Riel’ is ‘too Riel’!?
Sied: Ha! Man, that last name .. I mean Rielly! You can never be too Riel if you ask me :) And if you don't believe it, ask somebody else, because Riel People Know *cough cough!