Interview: Christina Novelli

Nina Ristivojevic

August 30th, 2023

Could you have ever imagined that Christina Novelli would end up DJing at the most prestigious trance venue in the world? It’s true! This year, one of the most sought-after and talented vocalists and songwriters in the music industry made her debut at the Luminosity Festival. It may surprise many of you to learn that this angelic voice possesses a number of other talents, including DJing which she has mastered for 10 years. Quite impressive, isn’t it?

Most likely, your introduction to Christina Novelli was through her iconic track “Concrete Angel,” a collaboration with Gareth Emery that catapulted her into the music universe in 2012. Since then, she has gifted the world with one new trance gem after another. You might also recognize her as a two-time Best Female Trance Artist winner. And who could forget her masterpiece track “The Air I Breathe,” created with Richard Durand in 2018, which claimed the title of Tune of the Year on the A State Of Trance radio show? Regardless of how you came across her, one thing is for sure – her alluring energy and angelic voice have touched many hearts.

Attending the Luminosity Festival I couldn’t resist chatting with Christina about her impressive career and deep connection to music. Our conversation led us through game-changing moments in her life, and her forthcoming album added to the excitement. This opened up many amusing topics and if you’re curious to learn more about Christina Novelli, I advise you to keep reading.

Christina, if we consider your music career, it spans roughly two decades. However, I’m curious to know what your musical journey looked like prior to your discovery of the EDM scene. Can you please share the story about your musical background and experiences during that period?

So before I came into the electronic dance world I didn’t even know too much about it. My focus was on the other side of the musical spectrum, deeply involved in bands, playing guitar, drums, singing, and writing songs. Music was my passion, and I was constantly engaged in the creative process. However, fate had a different plan for me when I was unexpectedly thrown into the EDM realm. At first, it seemed like I had no choice, but little did I know it would turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. The EDM world opened up a whole new universe filled with incredible and wonderful people.

You are recognized as one of the most wanted vocalists in the world of trance music since your debut with “Concrete Angel” alongside Gareth Emery in 2012.

It has become a timeless classic, unbelievably incredible. Time certainly flies, doesn’t it?

It sure does. But as you reflect upon your journey from that period to the present day, what do you consider to be the most significant changes that have occurred in your career?

When I initially set my goals, becoming a DJ was never on the list, it was never part of the plan. However, embracing DJing turned out to be one of the most incredible decisions I’ve ever made. It was a significant and unexpected change in my life. I never imagined that I would enjoy it as much as I do now. Experiencing this transformation has been truly remarkable. I’ve undergone many other significant changes as well, but the most rewarding part is when people approach me, expressing surprise and admiration for my diverse talents and interests. It’s a testament to the amazing possibilities life can offer when we remain open to new experiences and opportunities.

“Concrete Angel” served as a breakthrough moment in your career, introducing you to the world of electronic dance music, specifically trance, and garnering immense success and recognition, including an Annual International Dance Music Award. What was it that made you realize this was the world in which you could truly live your dreams and pursue your passion?

You know what? I received a video when Gareth was trying out the track, and at that point, I still had no idea about the incredible world we are part of. As I watched the video, witnessing the crowd’s emotional response, with tears and overwhelming enthusiasm, it dawned on me that this track had a profound impact on people’s lives. The love for the song was evident as everyone online was eager to know its name. It was a moment of realization that this track was something special, and from that point on, its popularity soared and reached new heights around the globe.

The year 2018 proved to be another pivotal moment for you when Richard Durand asked you to add your beautiful voice to his already massive hit “The Air I Breathe”. Soon after that track was added in your portfolio of best trance tracks of the year. Do you remember how this opportunity came about, and did you expect the overwhelming success it gained?

This song was already incredibly popular, and it’s truly a fantastic track. When Richard reached out to me, I felt quite nervous. He asked me to write something over the song and add vocals. I must say, Richard is one of the most talented individuals I’ve ever encountered, and I hold him in high regard. He’s not only immensely skilled but also a genuinely lovely person, and I have a deep affection for him.

Initially, I had some doubts about adding lyrics and vocals to something that was already so great; it could have gone either way. However, Richard’s support and encouragement made me feel at ease. To my delight, our collaboration resulted in a tremendous success. Since that moment, we’ve continued to work together, creating some truly amazing tracks. Richard has become one of my absolute favorite people on this planet, and I cherish our partnership dearly.

And I know another track is in the making.

Oh, yeah, it is. And it’s It’s very good as well.

Well, I don’t expect anything different than brilliant.

It’s all him! I am telling you, he’s truly amazing. I had the opportunity to watch his live set from Luminosity online, and the energy he brings is phenomenal. Every single song he plays resonates deeply, and you can feel the passion in his performance.

You have collaborated with numerous artists, many of whom are currently performing at Luminosity Festival, such as Richard Durand, Markus Schulz, Ben Gold, Sneijder, and RAM. Some collaborations have even been repeated. However, there must be a list of names with whom you desire to work but haven’t had the opportunity yet. Who currently tops that list for you, and why?

Absolutely! There is a lot of individuals I’m eager to collaborate with. I have a long list of writers and artists I’d love to work alongside. One of my ultimate desires is to create a track with Armin van Buuren. We did have a project in the works before, but unfortunately, it didn’t come to life. Nonetheless, the idea of collaborating with Armin remains appealing because, well, it’s Armin! Additionally, I have a strong aspiration to collaborate with the iconic Tiësto. Both of them are exceptional musicians who have made a significant impact in the industry. Honestly, there’s a wealth of incredible talents out there, and I’m enthusiastic about the possibility of working with many more talented individuals in the future. But if I had to choose right now, Armin and Tiësto would be at the top of my list.

Your debut album, “Through My Eyes,” was released three years ago and received resounding success. You mentioned that you draw inspiration from your personal life experiences when creating songs. Do you believe that this connection to your own life resonates with fans and plays a crucial role in your success?

Guess what? When people come up to me and share how my music has changed their lives, I do believe them, but it’s still surreal for me to fully grasp. I think about my favorite artists and how their music connects with me, and then I can understand the impact my music might have on others. Yet, sometimes, it’s hard for me to believe that I could have such a profound effect on people. Music has this incredible power to unite, bringing people together, and that’s the most significant aspect of music production for me. When you successfully create music that resonates with people and brings them together, that is the power of your music.

At every stage in my life, there’s a song that represents it, a song tied to cherished memories. Music is woven into the fabric of my existence; it’s an inseparable part of my life. I can associate a song with every important moment, every emotion, and every memory. Music is the essence of my life, and without it, life would feel incomplete. It may sound dramatic, but it’s true.

New album is in the making, as we are all aware of that, right?

Yes! Currently, I’m working on an album, and I’m thrilled about it. It is being released in three parts! The first EP ‘Heavy’ has just been released and my second EP is coming out very soon! The first single is a collaboration with Sarah De Warren and Myself ‘Leaving Me’ and is being released on the 1st September. This next EP is all vocal collaborations with some of my favourite vocalists and the most sought after singer songwriters out there! This is a completely new experience for me, and I believe it’s essential to embark on this journey because its new and exciting and I love the idea of two people telling their stories together, singing our stories together and uniting people through our music. Both of these EP’s will form part of my debut album in late 2023!

None of this would have been possible without the support and belief from Arny Bink and my manager, Tara Sirrell, who have both played a crucial role in making all these opportunities a reality for me. Their belief in me has been instrumental in shaping my musical path. It may sound like a cliche, but it’s true that someone’s belief in you can be a driving force in achieving your dreams. Many pieces need to come together at the perfect moment to make it all happen. It has been an exhilarating journey, with its ups and downs, but I’m thoroughly enjoying every bit of it. Embracing the ride with all its twists and turns has made it exciting, as a straight and predictable path can be quite dull.

It’s not widely known among trance enthusiasts that you began your DJing journey in 2013. To be honest, I wasn’t aware of the exact year either. However, I’m curious to know what specific catalyst sparked your deep appreciation and love for the complete package that EDM offers.

What year was that? 2013? Oh, that’s fascinating! It’s great to have that information because I’ve been wondering when I started. (laughs)

I believe my interest in DJing arose from my desire to have control over my performances, coming from a live band background. I wanted to learn how to do it, mainly to sing my songs during my performances. But as soon as I began, I fell head over heels for it. I was like, “Wow, this is insane! It’s a whole new world, and so much fun!” My very first DJing gig was at Pacha, a huge event in New York. It was an overwhelming experience, being in a packed club, feeling terrified and sweating, yet strangely watching myself from the outside. It was surreal, like a moment of disbelief – “Is this really happening?” I’ll always remember that day.

I also remember this event that happened in Malta, when a friend of mine left the decks, and I ended up jumping on them without having a clue about DJing. We can laugh about that one and agree it doesn’t count (laughs).

Whether it’s production or DJing, music has an immense hold on me. I run two record labels with Tara, and writing music is a significant part of my life. It’s not just a passion; it’s deeply ingrained in my soul. Every morning, I wake up with songs in my head, and I’m constantly humming tunes. Music is like the air I breathe, and its influence on me is infectious, it’s something I can never escape from, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Could you explain the variety of music that Christina showcases during her gigs? How would you personally define your style when it comes to DJing and selecting tracks for the crowd?

To be honest, my style can be described as manic. Right from the beginning, there’s been no consistency, and I never realized it until now. In the early days, I simply played whatever I loved and explored various genres to understand my preferences better. As a result, my sets would include a diverse range of styles, from trance to all sorts of music that I enjoy. I make sure everyone is having a great time, but at the end of the day, I play whatever feels right to me. When I’m up there playing, you can see that I’m having the best time, and that’s what matters most to me.

As someone who excels in singing, songwriting, and DJing, you undoubtedly have valuable insights regarding the inclusion of vocalists in tracks. In your opinion, how important is it to incorporate vocals in tracks (especially trance), and does it make a big difference in the overall composition and acceptance of the track?

People have different preferences when it comes to vocals in music; some enjoy them, while others prefer instrumental tracks. As a vocalist and someone who runs a vocal label, I may be biased towards tracks with vocals, as they hold significant importance to me personally. It aligns with my artistic identity. However, I believe that music should not be confined to strict boxes or limitations. We shouldn’t restrict ourselves by saying, “You can’t play this, you can’t play that.” Music is a fluid and expressive form of art, and it all depends on how I feel at a given moment. I don’t limit myself to playing a consistent genre throughout my day, week, or month because music is like a healer.

As this is your first appearance at Luminosity, I’m curious to know if you experience stage fright in general. How excited are you about taking the stage at Luminosity and showcasing your skills to the audience?

Playing at Luminosity is an absolute honor, and I’ve dreamed of this opportunity for so long. Being here fills me with immense joy. I believe every trance artist envisions this as the ultimate pinnacle in their career, and being chosen to perform here was beyond my wildest dreams.

Despite the excitement, I must admit that every time I step on stage, I feel a rush of nerves. My hands tremble, and I get that feeling in my stomach like I’m about to throw up. It’s nerve-wracking, but I’ve come to realize that this sensation is a sign that I genuinely care about my performance. I have a strong desire to deliver the best possible show, and I’m my own toughest critic. I believe that if you don’t experience this kind of rush, then you might not be in the right profession. The adrenaline coursing through your veins, the heart pounding at 100 miles an hour—this is what makes it all worthwhile. Before I start playing, it’s like a surge of dopamine, and the excitement amplifies even more when you press PLAY.

As we wrap up this incredible interview, what exciting plans can we expect from Christina Novelli for this summer and the end of 2023?

I’m thrilled about this summer as I have a lineup of exciting European shows ahead. I’m returning to Creamfields, which is absolutely fabulous, and being here at Luminosity is simply amazing. The cherry on top is my long-awaited album release, featuring some incredible remixes and exciting collaborations (which I’ll keep under wraps for now).

When I work on my solo projects, I can infuse real and personal emotions into the music, making it an authentic representation of myself. Collaborations, on the other hand, bring a beautiful synergy of ideas, making it a two-way street of creativity. For this album, it’s the perfect combination of both. The anticipation is exhilarating, and I genuinely can’t wait for it to be out there. The feedback on the first half of the EP has already been overwhelmingly positive, which only heightens my excitement for what’s to come. Creating this album has been a remarkable journey, i have really poured my heart and soul into this and I can’t wait to share it with the world.