Artist of the Week: Arctic Quest
'The Meltdown', 'Renaissance', 'Offbeat', 'Strings & Guitars', ' White Smoke/Black Smoke', 'Femme Fatale' and many more. What do these pumping trancers with techy elements have to do with each other? They were all produced by Arctic Quest, a Dutch producer/DJ that has been enriching the halls, clubs and homes with his beloved sound. Almost ten years ago he had his first release, under the 'Relic' alias. A big amount of releases later, Arctic Quest is back with a new beauty: 'Love is a Bird'. Time to find out what's been going on in his career, life and musical journey. Arctic Quest: 'It has been a process, a quest.'
Man behind Arctic Quest is Emiel ten Hoor, who was born and raised in Dutch city Amersfoort in 1976. Playing piano since the age of 9, his musical interest and talents were already there during his childhood. In the early 90's, his interests changed. Emiel was captured by the beginning of an electronic era and with that the arrival of the personal computer. Emiel started using software like Scream Tracker and Impulse tracker to start producing. But unlike some other producers, Emiel wasn't that confident to make it as a professional producer. Emiel: 'Confidence? The confidence wasn't there at all! It has been a process, a quest you might say. The guys running the record store where I bought my records, DanceGrooves, offered me a job. Over there I could produce music, learn which music was most popular with the DJ's and at the same time meet the DJ's. Within short time I was sending out my productions, also to the Dutch big three: Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten and Tiësto. They all gave feedback and played my tracks! That was the real confidence builder. It was a great opportunity to start working at DanceGrooves, for which I'm still grateful.'
Emiel's first release was a different story. He quit his studies and dedicated himself to his biggest passion: music. In 1999 the first release, 'Relic vs. E-Craig - Feels like running' was a fact. No one less than DJ Jean himself signed the track to his iT Records label after a memorable visit at his home in Amsterdam. Emiel: 'I have some special memories concerning that record. When we (E-Craig and me) finished the track, we went to DJ Jean's house. DJ Jean's 'The Launch' was number 1 in the Dutch charts during that time. We hardly spoke a word since he was eating Bapao, so we were just sitting and listening to 'Feels like Runnin'. At the end of the track, he knodded 'ok' which meant he wanted to release it on his iT Records label. We knodded 'ok' too, trying to stay very, very cool in front of him. Once outside, we jumped and cheered like madmen! People were looking at us and probably wondering 'What the hell are those guys doing?!''.
'Feels like Running' turned out to be a massive hit, hitting the Dutch Charts and within short notice, also being picked up by Dutch Radio station 538, turning it into their Dance Smash. Emiel: 'After sending the radio edit, I told my friends full of confidence I was certain the track would be Dance Smash on Radio 538, which means being played on the radio every 2 hours. Since I had no proof or reason to believe this, they were laughing at me and telling me to dream on. Odd enough, one week later the record really was the Dance Smash!'
Euphoric feelings were about to be stirred up, when Emiel visited the legendary edition of Innercity, with Tiësto and Ferry Corsten playing there.'He discovered trance music. Emiel: 'Innercity was the first big party I went to. That night had the combination of incredible atmosphere combined with fascinating music, which was totally new to me: trance. Ferry Corsten and Tiësto were playing in a row. The night was simply emotionally overloading, 'mayhem' as I call it. The party even ended up at Sunday's 8 o'clock news, not for drugs or fights but for the positive feeling. Actually, Innercity gave me trance and it gives me a very special feeling time after time to be playing at such parties myself now.' A new love and passion was born, and Emiel set foot onto a new path: trance. But before this big change, he used to produce under several other guises, from Relic to Gabriel Crockett and team ups like Phantom Phorce, with M.I.D.O.R.. With the last one, he produced a cheeky track called 'Do You Watch The Toilet Paper After You Wash Your Ass'. Besides it being a very long track title, one might also wonder what's the story behind it? Emiel: 'Our longest title ever! I read a scientific article somewhere, really, about toilet paper. The conclusion of the article was that people who looked at the toilet paper after wiping their ass are insecure. Sounds pretty funny, right? So after reading it I asked everybody if they looked at the toilet paper, and ever since I always look at it myself! Midor couldn't stop laughing when I asked him and the title for the EP was born.' As you can see, inspiration can really come from the toilet. But no more tongue in cheek references to the dirty stuff. Instead, Emiel started concentrating himself on the Arctic Quest guise and trance completely. Emiel: 'My focus is definitely Arctic Quest now. I'm Arctic Quest and trance is my music. I'm a strong believer you can only achieve the best by doing what you like most and for me it's playing and producing trance. Occasionally, if a track really does not sound like Arctic Quest, it might be released under a different guise though.'
Emiel definitely made the right choice. His sound is loved by thousands of trance fans. A sound that is based upon the same euphoric feelings he experienced while visiting Innercity in 1999. Emiel: 'What I always strive for in my productions and sets is to take people to the next level. That's why my latest productions have a deeper and a more techy version: to get people either more in trance or more euphoric.' And like every producer, he's a perfectionist. Emiel: 'In general, perfectionists can never live up to their targets, resulting in insecurity. So perfectionism and insecurity go hand in hand. I could keep on working on tracks for ages. And there's always a part in my sets of which I feel I could have done better. Wanting to improve 'Renaissance', Armin's opening track on Trance Energy or 'Strings & Guitars' which Tiësto put on his list of favorite tunes of 2007, doesn't that sound crazy? It's about finding a mode in which perfectionism and reason match.' With that said, it's obvious this guy is trying to keep his quality high. And boy, did he succeed. Track after track has been supported by the big names, has caused major damage to the dance floors or has been sending the dance lovers straight to a euphorically few meters above the ground. Emiel: 'There's no trick involved. When a track is finished I ask family, friends, fans and Armada to listen to it. Their feedback helps me keep the quality high. Their opinion is very important to me and it automatically results in quality over quantity.'
Love is a bird
Out now on the Soundpiercing imprint is Arctic Quest's new track 'Love is a Bird'. This production has a deep and calm build-up and is pushed forward by the beat underneath the carrying wings of a calm break, with a profound bass and frisky effects that play with the melody. 'Love is a Bird' sounds like its title, with the Tech mix being a bit more dark and rougher, like a storm changing a soft breeze to a raging squall of sounds. If love really is a bird, we're certain you will be flying a couple of meters about the floor while hearing this. Emiel: 'Love is a bird is a deeper way of saying there are two sides to love: Love can fly away from you, when you don't want it to. Or love can give you wings. Both are deep basic emotions of life which most of us have experienced. In 'Love is a bird', the original mix is sweet whilst the tech mix is madness, pointing to the two opposites.' Be sure to keep an eye out for more releases of this flying Dutchman.
Exclusive Mix (October 2008)
Last week, we did a video interview with Arctic Quest as well.