Artist of the Week: Signum
A constant line in quality. Ever flowing beats, inspirational melodies and banging stuff in between. A range of successes in the past and an impressive amount of new, exhilarating stuff ahead of them. Trance duo Pascal Minnaard and Ron Hagen have been enriching the scene with their sounds, holding a steady position they're not planning to give up soon.
The wind of change
2008 saw quite a few changes for these Dutch guys. Luckily, the wind of change was one that blew them in the exact right direction. For a first, they've entered the alluring yet most talked upon poll in DJ's history, the DJ Mag Top 100. In October 2008 they entered with a number 72 position, a well deserved spot that showed Signum has a far from dusty old veterans-image, and are still part of today's elite in music industry. Although 'elite' isn't exactly the first association you'd have with these Dutch guys. Both guys grew up in Zoetermeer, a little city near The Hague and in highschool discovered they both shared a passion: music. Interesting fact is though, that both fell in love with trance after first hooking up with hardcore. Ron: 'When I was 16 or 17, I got infected with the clubbing virus. I went to all kinds of party's with friends every weekend, and got more and more addicted to the EDM vibe. I even visited hardcore parties. At one of those parties, there was a hard/goa trance area, and I instantly liked that type of EDM. Once you really like a genre, you want to know more about it. At that time I discovered so many new artists and different styles, and that's when I really fell in love with trance.' Pascal: 'I think for me it started with tracks like 'The House Of God', 'Setup 707' and all those tracks, the 'real classics'. Same thing for 'Charlie' from the Prodigy, I loved all their tracks. That really got me into EDM and later on it became hardcore, the harder stuff. From there on I started listening to Goa and psychedelic music. I was already trying to make all sorts of music with my Atari. Slowly it got more and more melodic and I noticed that I had a feel for it, so I started focussing on it a bit more. Later the style got known as 'Trance'.' So far their remarkable journey through sounds that led to the type of music they preferred most: 'Diverse, driving, emotional, uplifting, whether it's progressive, electro, trance or techno', which is a good description of the sound we know them for nowadays.
Club anthems & inspiration
After graduating, Pascal and Ron lost contact for a while, but a reunion was part of life's plan. Pascal had a record contract at Dutch label BPM Dance and released several tracks with the Signum alias. With Ron signing to BPM Dance as well, Signum was complete. Their first sketches of music chemistry led to the release of 'What You got For Me' in 1997. The track became a true club anthem, and secured their names as upcoming trance duo. Many more highlights followed, from the likes of 'Forever' and 'Take U There' to 'On Stream' and 'Coming on Strong'. Remix request came in from several big names, all wanting the Signum sound on top of their productions. ATB, KayCee, Tiësto, DJ Jurgen and many more all craved to receive that special Signum touch. But life had so much more in stores for these two music freaks. They soon picked up the right mixing skills and started doing DJ gigs all around the globe. Everything came in prosperity. But right before the happening of something good, things went and looked a bit less bright for Signum. BPM Dance was having difficulties, being a small record company with a lot of competition. No troubles there though, cause Signum had some luck left as a backup: Armada Music. Signum: 'During the summer of 2002 we met up with Armin and Maykel in Ibiza, had dinner and just talked about a lot of things. We had a really good conversation and made a deal for a remix. We stayed in close contact with each other. After some time BPM dance wasn't doing so well, because they had a hard time for the smaller record companies. We were looking for a new record company and Maykel called us, telling that they (Armin, Maykel and Dave) were setting up a brand new record company called Armada. And they wanted us on their team as one of the first producers! We talked about it, made a deal and here we are today!'
Getting signed to Armada Music made it possible for them to show their sound to an even wider audience. Massive trance classic 'Push Through' was released on the A State of Trance imprint and announced the beginning of a new period of creative challenges and prosperity. Many trance smackers, like 'First Strike', 'The Timelord' and 'Cloud City' followed, including a team up with trance lady Anita Kelsey on 'Come Around Again'. And after all these years, Signum still didn't run out of inspiration. According to Ron and Pascal, it's a natural thing though. Signum: 'It can be anything, really. Sometimes you watch a movie and there's beautiful music in it that makes you want to hit the studio straight away. Or going to a club and hear a great track you've never heard before, and you're like 'damn, that sounds awesome, I want to make something like that! I can't wait to get back home, and start making a new track.' Or some event in life that gives you inspiration. But most of the time, inspiration comes at night while playing the keyboard. You just start playing, and all of a sudden your hands find this awesome key combination, and in your mind you can already see it evolving into a track...'
Make a move
A new source of inspiration has reached at least one half of Signum. Pascal moved to Norway only a few months ago and for the first time the duo was forced to work separately from each other. A hard decision, but definitely worth it. Pascal: 'I fell in love with a Norwegian girl about 3 years ago and we travelled back and forth for some time. It became really serious and it got harder and harder to say goodbye every time. After about a year we were so sure of each other that we decided to get engaged, so something had to change. We talked about it a lot and since I had the most flexible job, we decided that it was the most logical I would move to Norway. I talked to Ron, my family and Armada about it and they all supported me...so I moved! I packed together my own studio equipment so I could do my work there, which was, of course, very important. It was a hard decision to make and it was very emotional to say goodbye to everybody, but sometimes you have to make hard decisions if there's something you want very badly. Norway is a beautiful country and I don't regret my decision. Plus, we have internet nowadays, which makes the world very small. Things always happen for a reason!'
They sure do. And as faith has shown them in the past, they managed to find a way of working together, be it at distance. Ron: 'We've been working together for over 10 years now, and always in 1 studio. Now that we're working in 2 studio's we can produce twice as fast. We both have our own qualities and ideas about how a track must sound like. And those things put together makes Signum. We still share our ideas, only now we share our arrangements through the internet, and help each other out. It works perfectly. We both work on our own projects, but still for the same team.'
The future of Signum sure looks bright. After more than 11 years they're still rocking it big time, working the crowds with their addictive sound and hitting hard with records and mixes only they can manage to produce. So what remains left to conquer? Their last challenge came in the form of a radioshow. With an already saturated amount of radio shows on the net, it was a tough task to get their 'X-Posed' radioshow in the picture. Signum:'The show is doing great, we have a steady pack of listeners, that grows more and more every month. With already so many radio shows on the net, it's difficult to get noticed, and we thought long and hard about it, whether we should do it or not. We're really glad AH.FM has given us the opportunity to host our show and they've made a great effort in promoting the show. We're getting emails from all around the world, from people saying how much they like the show and the music, it's great and feels like a big pay off!'
A new challenge is already in the pipeline though: their artist album. Signum:'Currently, we're working very hard on it and already have some new tracks finished for it, which we try to keep exclusive. It's a challenging project but it's getting there. We want it to be a very diverse album to show people that we can do much more than only the uplifting trance stuff people know us from. Our goal is to finish most of it this spring and then aim for a release next summer.'
The nearest dose of Signum is available much sooner though. 'Distant Signature' will be the new Signum track, which represents the new phase in Signum's career. Pascal: 'Distant Signature is the first track that I finished in Norway and it's one of those trance tracks people know us from. I worked on the original mix and Ron worked on the 'Alternate mix', which proves that we can still produce on the same level. We already had great feedback on it and it will be released on ASOT the 1st of December...so be sure to buy it!' Signum was, is and will be on fire. Need we say more?
Exclusive Mix (November 2008)
- Distant Signature (Original Mix)
- Distant Signature (Alternate Mix)
Also out now:
Worldwide Trance Sounds Vol. 6
Mixed by Signum
Signum Top 10
01. Signum - Distant Signature
02. Ferry Corsten - Radio Crash
03. DJ Shah ft Adrina Thorpe - Back to you (Aly & Fila Mix)
04. Steve Forte Rio - A new Dawn (Original Mix)
05. Sunlounger & Zara - Lost
06. Robert Nickson & Daniel Kandi - Rewire
07. 8 Wonders - Fading Memories
08. Stoneface & Terminal - Blueprint (Club Mix)
09. Jochen Miller - 9 minutes
10. Signum - Royal Flash
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