Artist of the Week: Signum
Combine Dutch modesty with euphoric trance and Signum is what you get. Thought they keep both feet solidly on the ground, they do take it as their personal mission to get the trance fans carried away upon their uplifting, strong sound. They're responsible for quite a few memorable trance classics and upcoming anthems. This week, their revival of the Ron Hagen and Pascal M. moniker, 'Riddles In The Sand' is about to cause an after-summer quake, with lush acoustic guitar and a true Balearic feel to it. With a new Signum album and surprising collabs coming up, these Dutchies will keep on doing what they're good at: strive for perfection.
"We are working very hard on our album right now. It's a challenging project but it's getting there." In April, you guys told us you were working on an album. How far along is it?
Signum: "We are in the process of fine-tuning all the tracks and making edits. 9 tracks are finished, just 3 more to go! And we hope to have everything ready by the end of this month. This album has got to be perfect, or at least close to perfect, so we are not easily satisfied!"
"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." How is the diversity going so far? Could you give us some hints?
Signum: "The diversity is going great, we both have a very wide ranged taste in music and for our album we didn't want 12 of the same sounding trance songs. We want it to be a journey into all kinds of corners of EDM and challenge ourselves to make stuff we haven't made before. But still the main focus lies on beautiful atmospheres and melodies with a Signum twist, whether it is chill-out/down tempo, progressive, trance or tech trance. All of those styles combined will have to end up telling one big story. We carried a lot of ideas with us for over 10 years until one day we could work them all out. And those days are here! The world of producing has evolved in such a cool way, due to the fact of amazing new plug-ins, exciting new sequencer possibilities and wonderful sample libraries. That has completely changed the way how we used to work. And that triggers a lot of inspiration and diversity."
"And despite the fact we're doing this from 2 different countries, it seems to work out pretty good and it's going very well so far." Even though it works fine, don't you miss the time in the studio together? Do you also notice a difference in sound now that you're working from a distance?
Sigum: "Yeah, of course we miss it. When you're both in the same studio it's much easier to point out what kind of ideas you have and what you do or don't like in an arrangement while working on it. The big advantage now is, that you can do more in the same time with 2 studios and we can both develop ourselves in new ways and not sit in the way of each other."
"We are also busy doing collaborations with other big names in the trance scene and we're very honoured that they want to work with us." Enlighten us, who are they?
Signum: "So far we can only tell you that we have done a collaboration with Roger Shah, and that track is called 'Healesville Sanctuary', which is heavily supported by Armin van Buuren once more. There will also be 2 vocal tracks on the album, but the names of the vocalists will be a secret for just a little longer. Haha, sorry!"
"With already so many radio shows on the net, it's difficult to get noticed."
How is X-Posed, the radioshow doing?
Signum: "It's going great, more and more people tune in every month. It's so great to test new tunes from other artists and ourselves and get feedback on those tunes. And it really helps to pick out stuff for the Signum DJ sets in a new way as before, so we are really pleased with that. Also reading the comments on the forum while the show is on is great , it's a big meeting place for people from all over the world discussing their every day stuff, tunes and so much more. In case you haven't heard our show yet, Xposed is broadcasted every 2nd Wednesday of the new month from 18.00 - 20.00 CET on www.afterhours.fm."
"One great track after another is flying out of both studios! Also loads of cool gigs." How are the gigs doing right now? Do you guys still ever DJ together?
Ron:"We decided it would be better if one of us is going to be the face of Signum as a DJ, for a lot of different reasons. So now I'm the only one who dj's as Signum. This transition was pretty strange at first, cause we were used to experiencing everything together. Every gig this year has been amazing to me, a lot of people got reintroduced with Signum and our sound and the fan base is building and building again. Highlights this year so far were ASOT 400 (Wuppertal, Germany), Manarine (Buenos Aires) and playing at the A State of Trance special (Amnesia, Ibiza). Woooooow!!!"
"We both have our own qualities and ideas about how a track must sound like. And those things put together makes Signum."
Why did you release 'Riddles In The Sand' under Ron Hagen & Pascal M, and not Signum? Are you guys planning a few solo-releases?
Signum: "Well, 'Riddles in the Sand' sounded so different than our Signum stuff, we thought I would be cool to revive our Ron Hagen & Pascal M alias. If we would have released this straight away under Signum, it might have been too much of a shock towards some people."
"We've got a lot of studio mojo a the moment." 'Riddles In The Sand' is one of the results. What can you tell us about the track?
Ron: "Oh, that's a long story. Are you ready? At some point I was fed up producing with Cubase. I've worked with Cubase since I was 13 or 14 - started out on an old Atari ST - and I wanted to try out a new program to see if that would encourage creativity in a new way. My choice fell on Ableton, I also bought this new plug-in. While browsing sounds, I discovered this amazing sounding acoustic guitar. I had never heared a synth that could re-produce the characteristics of an acoustic guitar that good! When I was younger I listened a lot of smooth jazz records in order to learn myself how to play the keyboard. I spent hours and hours finding out chord progressions and just jamming, finding out how key structures work. This really helped me out in producing EDM as well. As long as I can remember I wanted to make a track with an acoustic guitar in it, but I only wanted to make one if that guitar sounded perfect and not some standard guitar preset that doesn't come close to a real acoustic guitar and doesn't have those essential characteristics. What also helped me was that I knew how an acoustic guitar should sound like in terms of right nuances. So I started playing on my keyboard and within a few minutes the melody for 'Riddles in the Sand' was born. 4 hours later the whole track was finished! Don't know what happened there, but I think it was inspiration at its best, thanks to a new sequencer with new abilities and an awesome new vst. I actually made that track for myself because I thought it would be too soft to release. I let some friends of mine hear the track, and they were like 'wow, this really is cool..'. So they convinced me to do something with it. This was late 2007/early 2008. I send it out to Sander (A&R) from Armada, and he really liked it as well. I wasn't completely satisfied with the first version so I was still in the process of tweaking it here and there. During that time, Orjan Nilsen came with 'La Guitarra' and that was a really outstanding track, so I thought to myself, 'hmmmmm.. there goes that idea'. I kept the track and did nothing with it, and thought to myself maybe we can use this track for the Signum album. In March this year I was in the car with Armin on our way to the Monday Bar cruise and he was telling me that he was searching for some laidback stuff for his beach cd (ASOT 2009). So I told him maybe I have something that will fit your cd. He said to me 'why don't you send It over, and I'll have a listen'. So I did some re-tweaking and sent it over. A few days later I got an email back from him, saying that he absolutely loved the track and that it perfectly fits the beach cd! I was absolutely thrilled by this news, and was wondering why I ever doubted this track. And now seeing the amounts of reactions on YouTube and forums puts a smile to my face!"
"You can expect a lot of massive tunes coming up!" Tell us, what's coming up in the next following months?
Signum: "Coming up in the next few months:
'Ron Hagen & Pascal M - Riddles in the Sand' (ASOT) with an amazing remix by Omnia.
'Roger Shah & Signum - Healesville Sanctuary' (Magic Island).
'Signum and Misja Helsloot - R.T.F.M.' (Cloud 9)
'Charlie White - Tears (Signum Old School mix)' (Cloud 9)
... and finally in Jan 2010 the Signum album!"
For more info on Signum, check their MySpace.