Helen Giles spoke to dynamic duo Cosmic Gate about their new album, collaborations and their favourite location to perform.
Last updated: 23rd Mar 2017. Originally published: 21st Mar 2017
Ever since the chance meeting of Nic Chagall and Bossi in a Cologne recording studio 18 years ago, Cosmic Gate have pushed past the boundaries of dance music with electrifying results that continue to attract a mighty following all over the world.
Although forming in 1999 and releasing a number of incredibly technical tracks including original production ‘Exploration of Space’ and The Wizard of Oz themed ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, it was timeless club classic ‘Fire Wire’ that catapulted the trance duo into the spotlight in 2001. Incorporating the harder elements of trance music with minimal synth patterns lacing in with a heavily distorted bassline, this style of production brought a new lease of life and a fresh should into the clubbing industry, and still to this day it is recognised as one of the most iconic dance tracks of all time.
Rather than keeping themselves confined to the realms of hard trance, Nic and Bossi explored new sounds and production techniques to continue to engage in their worldwide audience. With an impressive seven studio albums under their belt, thrusting them into the highest ranges of the dance tables, the duo also have an impressive back catalogue of remixes that showcase their remarkable talent, reworking titles from some of trance’s biggest names including Armin Van Buuren, John O’Callaghan and Vincent De Moor.
More recently whilst working on their latest album Materia Chapter.One, Cosmic Gate teamed up with trance legend Ferry Corsten for highly anticipated collaboration ‘Event Horizon’, the perfect meeting of musical minds that revisited the roots of their formation, encompassing uplifting synth undertones with a beautifully constructed melody that provides a faultless accompaniment for everyday life, and perfect promotion of their latest studio album, released in January.
No strangers to live performance, Cosmic Gate have appeared at over 1000 shows in their 18 year career, including appearances at Ministry of Sound, Privilege Ibiza, Tomorrowland, Creamfields and joining Armin Van Buuren at the ‘A State of Trance’ nights at Ushuaia in 2014. Their energy and passion for the dance music scene is evident during their live performances, and with a wealth of experience between them they know how to get a crowd jumping for joy. This, combined with their technical and visionary talent in production is what has secured their position in electronic music’s hall of fame.
We're only a few months into 2017 and you have a brand new album out, including collaborations with some highly-regarded producers, your own radio show airing weekly and a show-stopping concert tour in the US. Is there anything left for you guys to turn your hand to? Do you ever have any time to switch off and relax?
That’s a good question. Well at least we try to, we try to keep a weekend off every two months or so, we try if possible to have the shows booked in blocks so we do not have to fly intercontinental too much and be jet lagged all the time. But yeah, it doesn’t always work like that, we won't be off for sure for a good while now, but we will try to get some time when chapter two of Materia is fully produced.
The album is already making quite the impression on the dance music industry, already hailed as a Mixmag ‘Album of the month’. How does it feel to finally share your new, creative ideas with your fans?
In the end, even now after seven albums that we have done already, we are of course eager for the release and super excited and maybe a bit anxious even to see how our fans react and if our colleagues play the tunes in their shows. In the end, we hope we hit people's spots, so we can simply hope it will get shared and appreciated, which is probably most like every other artist as well…
Materia Chapter.One beautifully combines your signature bass-heavy sound with fresh bursts of the more contemporary styles. What inspired you to focus the albums on collaborations with other artists?
Well its always good to get some input from outside added to an album, a good collaboration sure adds up to the quality of an album, new sounds and styles find their way into our music. That’s why it’s a good thing for us, and we will continue so on Chapter two, more collaborations are to be expected.
To reflect the concept of the album, do you have any plans to collaborate with artists on a tour (in a similar fashion to John O’Callaghan and Aly & Fila a few years ago)?
We in the end are not planning to go on a tour with any of the talents on the album, most are busy on their own already anyways, and we have done quite some touring with for example Ilan Bluestone in the past already. Ferry and us play so many shows together anyways, so we focus more on extended DJ sets, which is nice with a new album and so many tracks we want to play out.
Do you have any advice for any DJs planning on collaborating with other artists following your experience in this way of working?
In the end every collaboration works in different ways, sometimes you hit the studio together, sometimes one side starts an idea and the other one adds to that, there is no advice we could give how these things work, its basically freestyle all the time, and this is the interesting part of it.
What's most complicated often is to find time and keep a deadline with so many busy schedules involved, this might be the hardest issue to solve, when the musical side harmonies it still doesn’t mean its easy in the end when all parties involved travel a lot, but somehow in the end so far we got it worked out somehow.
Your Materia album tour is now underway in America, much to the joy of your adoring fans. Do you have any plans to bring it over to the UK and Europe?
Oh absolutely! We will come to Europe and Asia in April and May, after we go back to the US and July and August will be basically build all around the European Festival Season and Ibiza, thinking about your first question, seems there is no real breaks for us momentarily indeed…
Have you formed any bond with any of the countries you have visited? Where has been your favourite place to perform?
Oh we surely do, there are plenty of places we love going and spending time at, never as much as we would love to because the next show is basically waiting around the corner again most of the time. In general we feel blessed about how many gorgeous places around the world we had to chance to visit because of our music and job, it's just crazy, and a part of the reason why we simply love what we do…
‘Fire Wire’ has got to be up there with some of the biggest trance anthems of all time, and is a personal favourite of mine/ours. What was the original idea behind the creation of this track?
Fire Wire at the beginning actually was just the fun B-side to our cover of 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow', but very soon after the release it showed to be very special to people somehow, a real fan favourite maybe because its very recognisable and different in its style to most other tracks that were out. Still, we were very surprised to shoot into the UK top 10 sales charts for sure, something you simply can not plan, it just happened, one of these tunes that goes through from the club to the charts and back…
It must be very humbling to have someone appreciate your work enough to provide their own take on it, and there have been so many artists who have achieved this with ‘Fire Wire’! Is there a remix of the track which particularly stood out to you?
Oh yes it certainly is, it's always great to see other artists lay their talent on the plate to rework some of our work. About 'Fire Wire', we always have been fans of Frank Zenker and his Scott Project sound, so his remix is maybe our most favourite!
You produced a remix of James Horner’s ‘I See You’ – the main theme from the film Avatar, which saw you receive worthy recognition with a nomination for ‘Best Remixer’ at the 2010 IDMAs. How did it feel to be asked by Atlantic Records to do this?
Well at first the movie was not released yet. We had no idea how big it would be in the end, but only the name James Horner itself was giving us goosebumbs, he’s a legend simply and it’s an honor to get asked to work on it, and even more in the end to be selected as the only official remix from his side.
What were your initial ideas for the remix? What did you want to achieve with it?
Well we didn't know about the movie at first, which would’ve been helpful maybe, but the theme itself inspired us a lot, and we just tried to turn it around, add our signature sounds to it to make people dance. We wanted nothing but to transfer this ballad kind of theme into a dancefloor hit. After finally seeing the movie weeks later we were pretty happy and relieved cause we felt our remix fitted the vibe of the movie, fortunately pretty well. It's just an excellent original movie theme, what can we say…
Off the back of album Wake Your Mind, released in 2011, and a string of iconic concerts centred around the concept, you decided to launch ‘WYM Records’. What made you decide to go it alone with your own label?
We simply wanted to release our own music on our own label, plus have the chance to release other music we like on it as well, to give new talents a chance and platform to release their music, that’s why we started WYM records. If you have any good demos you think we might like, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You also have the WYM radio show that has now been airing for almost 3 years, and it seems to be a common trend in dance music to host your own radio shows or podcasts. Why do you think so many producers do this? Is there much competition or rivalry between similar shows, or do you all support each other in your broadcasting ventures?
We do not see competition here actually, there are a lot of shows out of course, but we don't look much to the left or the right, we simply play tunes that we like. When they fit our style we play them, if not then we don’t, its all about the show and music, and not about names for us.
We want to present music that is new and maybe not played a lot, to give new talents a chance, and give our fans the option to listen to music we play because not everyone has the chance to see us DJ in a club. A weekly radio show is the perfect platform to make all these mentioned things happen.
Cream is one of the biggest and most recognised clubbing brands in the world, and their Ibiza tour comes to Motion, Bristol in April. How did it feel to be asked to play the event alongside trance icons Gareth Emery and Eddie Halliwell? Who are you most looking forward to seeing play at the event?
Well what can we say, it's just a great line up and it's always fun to see the colleagues. We haven’t had the chance to catch up with Eddie for a while for example, so we are really looking forward to play in Bristol! On top of that we do not have the chance to play in this part of the UK a lot, so yeah for Cream who are such a strong club brand brought an awesome line up together, we are looking forward to the night and we hope to see as many fans as possible.