Artist of the Week: Roger ShahNovember 13th, 2008
Roger P. Shah, Sunlounger, Black Pearl, High Noon at Salinas, Global Experience, Savannah and of course DJ Shah. No matter under which guise he releases it, every single track is a sunny, Balearic beauty with a warm touch to it. German producer Roger P. Shah has been heating up the scene with his production for many years already. No matter how cold the winter might be, there’s plenty of heat descending from the magical tones and beats of his sound.
Starting the fire
Roger’s recognition as a producer started spreading like a fire in 1999, when his first few tracks, ‘The Mission’ and ‘Tides of Time’ were introduced to a large amount of party lovers. But that was only just the beginning. His first hit came in 2003, when ‘High’ was released by UK’s Virgin Records Nebula imprint. Ever since, Roger Shah’s unstoppable inspiration and drive to produce music has been paying off big time. Reading Roger’s discography is harder than it seems, since it’s a maze of guises and collaborations. His tracks are spread out over 15 guises , 19 name variations and 21 collaborations, so it’s clear that Roger has been placing bets on more than just one horse. Roger explains: ‘When I started my career as a full time producer, it wasn’t possible for me to generate the income I needed, I couldn’t live from just one project. So I did a lot of different things with different labels and countries. This has been a great way to find out how each company works and what they do for me as a producer and artist. So that’s how I found out, that for me Armada is the best company to work with. Another reason for the aliases is that I do different stuff with different people, who are involved with several projects. For example; I have my well known ‘Black Pearl’ project with former star producer Ralph Fritsch, who is one of the best musicians I’ve ever met. He had his own big hit records and projects when I was just a beginner, so I’m really happy to do some stuff with him and that I could sign him to my Magic Island label for his solo comeback.’
Luckily, nowadays his work is limited to only a couple of guises. But there’s surely no limit to the diversity in his productions. From warm vocals to deep trancy beats and rolling basses, Shah’s been there. And the beauty of it is, that it does all have that characteristic Shah sound so many love. His Balearic sound has found the way to many headphones and speakers, all over the world. Roger: ‘I think it’s touching the people, due to the beauty of the voices and melodies. It’s music to dance to in the club or at the beach, but also to listen to at home during daily life.’ One thing’s for sure: it’s been heating up the crowds for many years already.
Keep the fire going
All of a sudden, in early 2006, there was this huge summer guitar riff stuck in the head of listeners to Armin van Buuren’s radioshow ‘A State of Trance’. It was that one contagious, delicious melody, that kept bugging the minds of so many EDM lovers. It was ‘White Sand’, Shah’s ultimate summer hit produced under his Sunlounger guise. The song was played in Armin’s set and radio shows for weeks in a row, eventually leading to a release on the prestigious Armind label and being the opener of Armin’s ‘A State of Trance 2006′ compilation. The support Shah received was overwhelming, as it catapulted him straight into the circle of big boys in music industry. Even though ‘White Sand’ echoed on for months and months, Shah wasn’t the type to stand still for long or wonder what to do next. He kept on making one monster track after another, and seemed to have found the formula to success with his productions, providing everyone an everlasting summer. The Ibiza feeling was no longer limited to a couple of weeks of partying and relaxing in July, August and September, but also available in the form of an mp3. Some heavyweight productions like ‘Aguas Blancas’, ‘In & Out’ and ‘Beautiful’ kept his status high and his production muscles flexed for even better tracks to come. He released two Sunlounger albums, of which ‘Another Day On The Terrace’ went number 1 on Dutch iTunes’ ‘all-music-genres’ chart, and his long-awaited ‘Songbook’ album, with amazing vocal tracks and Balearic beauties. It seemed as if Roger has been working day and night to finish these high quality albums, or was it possible he used some of his old stuff? Roger:’No, this was no old stuff. The quality of my old tunes from some years ago haven’t got the quality of the tunes I do right now. Or let’s say, since 2005 when I made my first international deals. I’m always writing music and composing melodies, so I always have my own back catalog of layouts and composed stuff. When I work on a new album, I always do a mixture of composing new stuff to express my current inspirations, but also look through my already composed layouts to see if there’s something that fits my current project.’
Roger had been working with some very talented vocalists before, like Jan Johnston, but he found some pure chemistry in the form of Adrina Thorpe. This American singer caused major damage with her lush vocals on ‘Who Will Find Me’, as it was voted number one track of 2007 by the listeners of the ‘A State of Trance’ radioshow and favourited by Armin van Buuren himself. If there was any track of which the crowd knew the lyrics, it was ‘Who Will Find Me’. Simultaneous chanting filled the air as soon as the acoustic guitar of the track was heard. Adrina, from then on, was locked into the hearts of many trance lovers. But Roger himself is a huge fan as well. Roger: ‘Adrina is amazing. To be honest, I think she deserves to be a superstar like Dido or Sarah McLachlan. I’m so happy that I found her and that she is up to work with me. I have some big plans with her for the future. Next year, I’ll start working with her on a full Roger Shah & Adrina Thorpe Album, which will be released in early 2010. I know it’s a long time to go, but it will be worth to wait. This will be a real beauty.’ More beauty came in the form of ‘Back to You’, which has just been released on the Magic Island imprint of Armada. Although it seems that Roger was quite busy enough already, he also settled himself with a surprisingly masculine collaboration. No one less than Armin van Buuren and UK’s singer Chris Jones found their way to Shah’s studio and blended their talent into smashing cooperation ‘Going Wrong’. As the first official single of Armin’s ‘Imagine’ album, it managed to enter the Dutch charts with a number 5 position. And it turns out that Roger has some exciting plans with Chris Jones too. Roger:’ I made the decision that next to my annual Sunlounger album series and another Magic Island album, I wanted to do an album with Chris Jones first, because marketing wise it makes sense to come up with new stuff with this great singer. We had a big hit with ‘Going Wrong’ and everywhere I play people are singing along to it. That’s why we’re now working on an album and we’ll do a big tour next year. We just finished the first songs and some of them are stronger than ‘Going Wrong’, in my opinion, especially emotional wise. The album will be similar to my Songbook album with 2 CD’s with club mixes in my style and acoustic & more crossover versions in Chris’s original style. I will also do some special instrumental dub versions as special download version for the DJ’s. That’s our plan, which means a lot of work!’. We can’t wait to hear it.
An outburst of flames
Roger Shah’s inspiration seems endless. After ‘Going Wrong’, Roger’s back with ‘Lost’ and ‘Back to You’. Roger: ‘I think that ‘White Sand’ in 2006 and ‘Who Will Find Me’ in 2007 have been really important for my breakthrough and to get the international attention, but let’s not forget my 3 big tracks from this year: the collaboration with Armin for ‘Going Wrong’, which ended in a top 5 crossover hit, but ‘Lost’ and ‘Back to you’ as well. Everywhere I go, I have to play these tracks, otherwise the crowd will kill me.’ That’s how far the popularity of Roger Shah goes. Even though his impeccable relaxing sound, or easy-going attitude might tell you he’s just back from another holiday, it’s clear that the little sun hours he gets don’t come anything near the time he spends in the studio. But let’s not forget about the gigs! Roger: ‘When I work on a track, I always try to create a special atmosphere in it. In the past I got my inspiration from my magic island Ibiza, where I spent some time every year, but nowadays I travel so much and play at so many nice places and beach parties, that this inspires me to create the sound and feeling in my songs.’
On fire: Magic Island
Only a few months ago, Roger felt it was time to team up with Armada Music to take care of the already respected Magic Island imprint. Roger: ‘To do this team up was a natural way after the great collaboration and interaction I had with Armada over the past years. We already started with some of my own stuff and I think it’s doing great. We had a number 1 at Beatport with the next Sunlounger single, ‘Sunlounger feat. Zara – Lost’, and my current single with Adrina entered on a number 2 spot, so I think it’s a great start for the label.’ And be aware, cause this label has got some pretty exciting things coming up! Roger: ‘The next big thing coming up is my Magic Island album for which I signed a lot of great new and 100% exclusive tracks and for which I made some new exclusive tracks under my different aliases . But the album also features some great collaborations with mates from the scene. We will release this album first and then schedule all tracks from the CD as single releases. So we have a busy schedule and a lot of amazing tunes to come, to push the Magic Island label fast forward. I have 30 tracks on the Mix album, that means about the same amount of releases to come over the next months. During this time, I’ll look out for the next pearls for the second Magic Island album.’ With the release of his ‘Magic Island – Music For Balearic People’ album and his next team-up with Adrina Thorpe, ‘Back To You’, coming up, it’s clear that Roger Shah isn’t even near the end of his inspiration. His Balearic sound will light souls for a long time to go.
Back To You
DJ Shah feat. Adrina Thorpe
Exclusive Mix (November 2008)