Interview: Richard Durand

Nina Ristivojevic

September 25th, 2023

Richard Durand, a respected and devoted trance artist with nearly two decades of experience, has firmly established himself as a top-tier talent in the industry. As a skilled DJ and producer, he remains unwaveringly dedicated to his uplifting trademark sound. Richard’s impressive music journey includes five successful artist albums and six editions of the renowned ‘In Search Of Sunrise’ compilation series. He has delivered brilliant and energetic performances on iconic stages worldwide, such as Trance Energy, A State Of Trance, Dreamstate, Sensation, Mayday, Godskitchen Global Gathering, Avalon, Zouk, and Ministry Of Sound.

Richard Durand’s fourth artist album, ‘The Air We Breathe,’ under Black Hole Recordings, reached #4 on the Beatport Top 100 Trance chart. The album’s key single, ‘The Air I Breathe’ featuring Christina Novelli, achieved an impressive #2 spot, while an earlier release on Outburst climbed to #1 on Beatport.

After a couple of years in a row, Richard was again part of the Luminosity Festival and it would be a shame not to seize the opportunity to speak with this wonderful soul everyone loves. During chit-chatting with Richard, I learned about his significant challenges and successes. We went back to his first ISOS compilation release and touched upon his inspiring collaboration with Dennis Sheperd. When discussing significant individuals and slightly intriguing situations in Richard’s life, I was pleasantly surprised by his willingness to open up to me. If you’re interested in gaining further insight into the world of Richard Durand, be sure to continue reading this interview.

Here we are, gathered at Luminosity, the most special festival of the year for most trance DJs and trance lovers in general. However, it appears that this event holds a profound significance for you. Why do I say this? Well, in 2018 (and I had the privilege of being present), you took the stage here and unveiled a track that undeniably transformed your life – “The Air I Breathe.” But just a few months before releasing this track you wanted to quit music. Thankfully, you chose otherwise, and we are all grateful for that! What kept you inspired not to do so and keep following the music call?

Over the past few years, I constantly found myself caught up in chasing after the latest trends and trying to conform to the music scene’s expectations rather than staying true to my own artistic vision. However, after spending a year attending various festivals, I had an epiphany that it’s essential to follow my passion and create music that genuinely resonates with me. This revelation was sparked by listening to a track by Signum, a friend of mine, who expressed his disinterest in music and contemplated quitting producing. That moment, I realized that I needed to reach out to him and assure him that his music is valued and appreciated, just like my fans do for me. This realization became a game-changing moment for me, fueling my motivation to embrace my unique story and share it with my audience. Sure, there might be moments of hesitation, fearing that people may not like my music or want to listen to it. But I decided to overcome those fears and said to myself: “Don’t think, just do it.” By trusting in my creative instincts and staying authentic, I believe that I can connect with my fans on a deeper level, offering them something truly meaningful and inspiring. It’s time to break free from the pressures of the music scene and fully embrace my artistic journey, unapologetically following the path that brings me joy and fulfillment.

Initially, “The Air I Breathe” existed as an instrumental version, but you made the decision to collaborate with the talented Christina Novelli and incorporate her beautiful vocals into the track. And lo and behold, it happened… “The Air I Breathe” was voted as the best track of 2018! How did this incredible turn of events transpire, and were you expecting this result?

When I created the track without Christina, I felt an overwhelming sense of fear and uncertainty. I believed this might be one of my best works ever, but doubts began to creep in. What if people didn’t want to hear it? What if they didn’t like it at all? However, I’ve come to realize that sometimes you need to take risks and trust in your own abilities. While positive feedback is encouraging, it’s not always enough. Sometimes, you have to go beyond seeking validation from others and have the confidence to believe in your art. True growth as an artist comes from embracing challenges, pushing boundaries, and creating music that truly represents your vision. So, despite my fears, I’ve decided to put the track out there, and success happened.

When it comes to collaborating with incredible vocalists, you have had the pleasure of working with plenty of talented singers, including Christina Novelli, Emma Hewitt, Sarah de Waren, Haliene, Christian Burns, and many more. However, is there someone in particular whom you’ve always desired to collaborate with but haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet?

I had the opportunity to create a remix of Emma Hewitt’s song, but my desire to collaborate with her remains strong. I envision sitting together in the studio, crafting something beautiful on the piano, and eagerly anticipating what she brings to the table. I consider myself fortunate to have already worked with artists I deeply admire. So what I can say? (Laughing)

**While you’ve released a couple of incredible albums, with your latest being “Reactivate” in 2022, I cannot forget to mention the one of a kind “In Search Of Sunrise” compilation. The opportunity to collaborate on this magical project was presented to you by the Black Hole team and Tiesto back in 2010. Recalling that special moment, can you share your memories of receiving that call from Arny, offering you the honor to contribute to this iconic compilation series that went on for the next six editions? **

I recall hearing about Tiesto’s departure from Black Hole, which left me concerned about the fate of the In Search of Sunrise compilation. Around that time, I released my album, Always the Sun, and had a positive experience collaborating with Black Hole. They were a pleasure to work with.Then, Arny approached me with an offer to continue with ISOS. It was a bit different from my usual sound, as I was known for tech trance and more harder stuff. However, I accepted the opportunity with though to myself, “Why not?” Taking a leap into a different musical direction seemed like an exciting challenge worth exploring.

But which one is your favorite?

I believe the first one holds a special place in my heart because it marks the beginning of a new chapter in my life. It’s a unique experience that represents growth and transformation. However, I knew that eventually, I would venture into other territories, exploring new paths and opportunities beyond this initial stage. Life is full of exciting journeys, and I always look forward to discovering what lies ahead.

Again, year 2018, you had the privilege of being a part of Dennis Sheperd’s Trance Retreat project in Bali. Can you tell us more about this? Are there any plans for you and another Trance Retreat in the future?

I’ve known Dennis for quite some time, and I must say both Trance Retreat and Techno Retreat are fantastic projects. Personally, I find great joy in sharing my knowledge and experiences with aspiring artists, guiding them through the early stages of their careers and helping them overcome obstacles. Though I may not excel in explaining complex theories or the technical intricacies of plugins for example, I approached the teaching in my own unique way. I shared my personal journey, my struggles, and how I found my path in the music world. It was gratifying to interact with those enthusiastic students, witnessing their reactions and seeing how they absorbed the knowledge. The whole experience was immensely enjoyable, and it seemed that they appreciated my story and learned valuable lessons from it.

Is there any other Trance Retreat happening soon?

Absolutely, I’m considering doing one or two more projects, and why not? The timing usually aligns around ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event), so I’ll keep an eye out for opportunities and see how things unfold. Exciting times ahead!

While your passion for trance is undeniable, have you ever thought of pushing the boundaries and delving into other genres, considering the ever-evolving nature of music and the scene?

Music is constantly evolving, but interestingly, it also circles back to my roots. I began my musical journey 25 years ago with a genre called Euro Dance. Now, observing what Calvin Harris achieved, it’s evident that this style is making a comeback, and it’s incredibly enjoyable. As a result, we’re planning some side projects with a more commercial focus, reminiscent of Euro Dance. The fascinating part is that many people perceive this music as something new, unaware that it mirrors back to a sound from 25 years ago. Nevertheless, it’s fun to witness their enthusiasm for it. I firmly believe that if a track is well-crafted, it possesses a timeless quality that resonates even after several years or even a decade. That’s the beauty of music—it has the power to endure and captivate audiences across generations.

It always did. It always will. But did you accept and embrace the evolution?

Indeed, the internet has been the most significant role in the transformation of music today. Its widespread accessibility has revolutionized the way we experience and interact with music. Unlike 20 years ago, when discovering music from other parts of the world was challenging and nearly impossible, the internet now allows us to effortlessly access the work of talented producers from any corner of the globe. If a skilled producer in Asia creates something innovative, with just a click, I can listen to it and be influenced by their creativity. Now it looks like a music storm, where a flood of diverse sounds and styles pours into the global music landscape and we need to deal with it.

Beyond the undeniable impact of “The Air I Breathe,” what would you consider as the most significant moment in your career or life? It could be a remarkable track or remix you produced or came across, a specific situation that deeply resonated with you. Perhaps meeting someone who helped you truly understand the value of your creative being?

My wife, without a doubt! Over the past 10 to 11 years, she has had a profound impact on me. When I’m with her, I feel like a completely transformed person, and I hope it’s for the better. (Laughing) As time passes and we grow older, we naturally find ourselves contemplating life, making plans, and having expectations. Yet, having someone as valuable as my wife by my side makes all the difference. She is a true companion with whom I can share all the important moments in life.

And what exciting projects and plans does Richard Durand have in store for his fans at the moment?

Well, I am busy working on a new track with Christina Novelli. I’ve also crafted a piano piece for Sarah de Waren, and I’m eagerly anticipating what she will add to it with her writing. The creative process has been immensely enjoyable, and I can’t wait to see how the collaboration unfolds. It’s exciting and fun, and I am looking forward to the final result!