A Sit Down With DJ Shah
Over the past two decades, Roger Shah has produced beautiful music while also DJing around the world. His musical abilities are amazingly diverse, ranging from productions in Trance and House to even creating orchestral scores for Hollywood. His career accomplishments include being named in the DJ Mag Top 100 five times and having a discography of more than 600 releases, many of which have been played globally.
"I just produce the music that I feel and sometimes you hit the right track at the right moment and it becomes bigger and also sometimes you dont, which means it is more for the real lovers of that particular style of music that I am producing at that moment."
Youre Sunlounger pseudonym is possibly youre best known work, pioneering the Balearic island sound, fans all over the world have come to love, tell us a bit about the origin of this project, and what makes it stand out as much?
I think sunlounger is my best know alias besides I just tour as Roger Shah, especially th elast 2 years I focused more on releases under my real name. I think that people love sunounger because it's a unique sound, very chill, deep and atmospheric with chillout versions and cool club mixes on one album and we kept the format for all albums.
For years you have produced so many tracks that you could easily confuse yourself with Oliver Lieb, who was also known as a producer, who had countless project names and virtually produced on the assembly line. Is it difficult to produce so much music and still be credible as a producer?
For me it was very easy, because I am a workaholic and always writing songs and melodies, even on a plane. I have to say that between 2005 and 2006 I had a hard time with financial problems, and I thought about giving up everything. But I told myself, I will try again and produce as much as possible and publish on various international labels and see if my situation improves, or if I just stop. Luckily I had the big hit with Sunlounger-Alias ??with "White Sand" in 2006 as well as a number one album with I-Tunes. Everything has since developed into a better direction. During that time, I could see who my true friends were and who they were not. It is very good to go through such times because they make you stronger.
Your tracks White Sand and Lost have enjoyed huge success worldwide. Lost was awarded Single of 2008 on the ASOT radio show. What other tracks, remixes or mix-sets would you recommend to someone that is not yet familiar with your music?
Im very diverse with my music and every album ive done has been special for me but also for the people because it became huge success. So the easiest is to check out my Roger Shah album "Songbook" including the hits "Going wrong", "Back to you", "Who will find me", "Dont wake me up" or the album "Openminded" including the hits "Hide u", "Morning star", "One love", "Island and then also my 4 albums under my "Sunlounger" alias.
We know that you have been involved with the creation of Balearic Trance. How would you describe Balearic Trance?
Its like tribal house, bongos, percussions, but then adding the trance melodies and guitars to it. I couldnt label it tribal house and its not really trance, so thats just why I thought to name it Balearic Trance especially because of the fact that I always go to Ibiza to write music and Ibiza is a Balearic island so thats why the name came up. I dont really think that its a part of it. At the same time, you dont have to label it. Even though I do Balearic Trance, Im still also a trance, orchestral, electronic artist. My music is always between house and trance, somewhere in between. Thats why it doesnt really matter if Balearic Trance is a term that is very popular now or not. People sometimes need to label it and say, Okay, I love psytrance or I like this or that. I dont really think that Balearic Trance term is existing, but it doesnt really matter.
You have a radio show called Magic island: Music for Baleric people when did you decide to start this, and what was the idea behind the name and concept for this radio show?
The name of my label and brand is called Magic Island, so it was just a natural progression to have my own radio show under this name as well. I play a 2 hour set every week, first hour is more trance based and second hour is more balearic, pumpin and progressive house, once again a wide range of music.
Which remix are you most proud of?
I got the chance to put my personal touch on so many amazing tunes, great voices and even all time classics, so its very hard to pick one out, I worked for and with artists such as Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, Sarah McLachlan, Moya Brennan, Kosheen, Bryan Adams, Ferry Corsten, just to name a few and this is what I am proud of in general.
What kind of relationship do you have with Talla 2XLC? He was already in business at the time you started, and a well-known name in the scene ...
He was the big man of the trance. I looked up at him and Diver and thought how great it would be to someday achieve something similar to these guys. Unfortunately, we never really had a relationship because he did his stuff and I tried to do mine, but I was always open to change that. Now I am very happy to finally hang out with him, and then also at the big Technoclub birthday.
Looking back on the last 2 decades, what were the most memorable & the most terrible gigs you played and what were the funniest things occurring during your performances?
Actually i never had really a terrible gig and can say overall this journey has been really amazing, better than i would have ever dreamed about it. Memorable are for sure all those big festivals I`ve played and some of my solo concerts.
Who would you consider to be your biggest inspiration in terms of music so far?
First of all, I have to say that I came from an orchestral background and I studied orchestral music. I accidentally made it into dance music and so my biggest influences and people I look up to are more like the Hollywood composers such as Hans Zimmer. Then I made it into Trance music and worked with all these big names (Armin, Tiesto, Paul van Dyk etc) and even then it didnt put me under pressure when meeting and working with these guys. I was a big follower of Tiesto and I have to say that even though now hes doing different kinds of music, we should not forget what he has done for Trance. The Trance family is generally very protective about the genre and they tend to forget that from the artists point of view, they want to try out different things. I mean, you as fans wouldnt want to go to the same club or eat the same food everyday and even as artists you are always thinking I made this, so whats next?, so sometimes you might want to go outside the box. I remember when Armin and I made Going Wrong and we received so much hate mail for it. People were asking what was the point of the best DJ in the world and the master of Balearic Trance collaborating on a rock influenced track and we received so much hate for it back then, even though it became a classic track at the end of the day.
What is your personal opinion on mixing up of different genres in electronic dance music, are you a purist or believe in the concept that at the end of the day all these sub-genres fall under electronic music, which is all that matters?
As it is quite clear from the fact that my artist album itself is named openminded, I most definitely prefer the mix of genres. I was never a purist or got stuck to one genre. Thats why I always had different aliases for different sounds, like for pure trance on a trance label like armada or anjunabeats, but I also had an alias for a very tribal house or progressive house track, even my balearic sound was always a fusion of house and trance, what I called balearic trance is now called the progressive house sound, its just a bit more pumpin and with less guitar riffs. So for me everything falls under EDM and EDM would be much bigger if people would not try to devide a genre into another hundred subgenres, whats the point in dividing dance must first into house, trance, techno and then again into deep house, tribal house, progressive house, vocal trance, uplifting trance etc. I dont get it. Dance music could be so much bigger!
Youve produced a lot of amazing collaborations in your career. Is there a particular artist that is your favorite that youve worked with?
No, its not really favorites. If I point out one favorite, it would be saying it wrong to all the others. When I work with people its because I respect them music-wise and what they do. The main reason for doing collabs is to get a different influence. For example, I work with Fadi from Aly & Fila. Fadi is also one of my closest friends from the industry. We always have this great vibe working back and forth. I work on melodies and he puts his uplifting touch to it and it always works out great. I think that is why we had the tune of the year last year together because we have great synergy together and it fits. We have different influences from different artists and different singers as well.
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