Hailing all the way from Sunny Scotland Jason Cortez is without doubt one of, if not the biggest DJ’s north of our border and should certainly not need an introduction to any self respecting Hard Dance fan. Founder and Co-promoter of Nuklear Puppy now in its 6th year and voted Scotland’s No.1 Hard Dance night by MixMag on numerous occasions, co-founder of the label under the same name, and author of ‘God’ arguably the biggest Hard Dance track of 2006, recent times have seen Jason turn his hand to another sound, one that’s been dominating the Trance / Hard Dance scene for the last year. Of course this can only be Tech Trance ! With his recent productions being supported by everyone from Marcel Woods, to Judge Jules, and even Scot Project! I caught up with Jason ahead of The Addiction X Mas Ball on Saturday Dec 9th @ Hidden where he’s playing not one but two sets! to find out more about his new found love for ‘the tech’, his feelings on Hard Dance and its future, and what’s doing it in his world right now ! Read on for all things Cortech!
AT: Let’s get stuck right in mate! You’ve been at the forefront of original Hard Dance for a very long time. With an impressive back catalogue of immense productions and collaborations including ‘God’ ‘Reality’ & ’88 mph’ why the sudden switch to tech trance?
JC: I wouldn’t say it has been a sudden switch; I incorporate trance and tech-trance in my sets north of the border, and have done for some time. I have had the pleasure of playing alongside Tiesto, Marco V, John OO Fleming, Scot Bond and Mauro Picotto to name but a few in recent times, and let’s be honest; hard-dance would just sound strange before or after any of these guys. I’m not known for playing this sound South of the border most likely because my productions are mainly hard-dance, so I therefore get booked to play hard-dance sets, but this is set to change, starting at Addiction!
AT: Certainly for me ‘God’ was the biggest track of the last year, and one of the most original Hard Dance tracks in a very long time. Can we expect a follow up anytime soon? Or are you now devoting all of your time and inspiration to your new sound?
JC: I think tracks that go down as anthems, or as something original are hard to follow up, with producers and engineers trying to better them but usually failing. I won’t be trying to beat ‘God’ up, but I am certainly following it up, and I have a series of releases planned. I have my EP on my Nuklearpuppy Records, featuring the tracks ‘Damn That DJ’ & ‘Tranzition’, and there’s my EP on Tranzlation Records featuring ‘Finally’ & ‘No Other Way’. I also have ‘Shining In The Ecstacy’ which was featured on The Tidy Boys Big Night Out album, it should be out on Nuklearpuppy Records as part of release number 10. As well as those tracks, I have several unreleased tracks to find homes for, these include ‘Brothers & Sisters’, ‘Solaris’, Take Control’, Stop The Beat’ and ‘Breath Taking’, but with plans to set up a new label to house these on so you can expect them in the not too distant future. With regards to my new sound, I have made my name in hard-dance and have no plans on ditching it just yet. I don’t see why producer and DJ’s cant experiment with different sounds and genres, so that’s what I’m doing. I like more than one type of music, so why shouldn’t I make more than one type of music? So far I have done cover versions of Chicane’s ‘Saltwater’, Humate’s ‘Love Stimulation’, Atlantis & Avatar’s ‘Fiji’, Mauro Picotto’s ‘Komodo’ and U2’s ‘New Years Day’, and I have plans to cover some other classics. Although doing covers may been frowned upon, its very useful way of getting noticed, and as long as you add to the original tracks, or take them in a completely different direction, they can certainly add to a DJ set. I am keen to break into the trance and tech scene’s with original tracks as well, and I am working on some new material as we speak.
AT: Your label Nuklear Puppy has also seen some fantastic releases this year including Brookman & Coe’s massive ‘Anybody, Everybody’. What have we got to look forward to in months to come?
JC: We have just released Nick Rowland’s ‘Communicate’, which featured an amazing MDA & Spherical remix. It’s gone down a storm, receiving some big plays along the way. I think it was always going to do well, as we combined a hard-dance veteran in Nick Rowland with two of hard-dances future stars in MDA & Spherical. In the near future you can expect releases from Adrenaline Department, we picked up their track ‘Saturday’, and I’m pleased to say that I’m doing the remix for it myself. We’ve also picked up a big trancer from Charlie G called ‘Unbreakable’, Phil York’s doing the remix for it and taking it in a German hard-trance direction. On top of these two signings we have our tenth release to look forward too, which will feature my ‘Shining In The Ecstacy’ track, and a new track from Phil York. We’re also looking at future releases as we speak, as we look to make Nuklearpuppy Records one of the best hard-dance & hard-trance labels out there.
AT: You’ve also recently launched Cortech Records. The 1st release being the highly acclaimed remix of Chicane’s Saltwater which has been supported by almost every DJ on the face of the planet lucky enough to have a copy. What’s the ethos behind the label? Is it purely to showcase your own productions or are you signing material from other prominent Trance and Tech Trance artists too?
JC: The ethos behind Cortech Records, as the name might suggest, is to showcase my tech-trance sound, with a series of remakes and cover versions lined up for the first couple of releases. I haven’t thought too far beyond that to be honest. With my name not known in the tech scene, I am just looking to release a series of hopefully high profile covers that will get my name out there then take it from there. With there not being any set plan, I have the freedom to let the label almost take on a life of itself and see what happens. I would like to collaborate with some other producers within the scene, as well as getting remixes from some bigger names as well, you’ll just have to keep your ears and eye pealed.
AT: On the subject of ‘classic remixes’ which are always a hot topic for debate on clubbing message boards and forums, what is your true opinion? Are they killing the music scene with producers more often than not going backwards rather than forwards, or are they in fact breathing new life into tracks which would otherwise just not be possible to work into modern sets mainly due to advances in production and mastering?
JC: I personally love older classic’s, it’s the music that I have such fond memories off, and some very blurry memories off…
With regards to remixes, bootlegs and remakes killing the scene, I think that’s maybe a little extreme, people on message boards can be very loud and opinionated without being correct all the time. I have heard some amazing remakes and remixes this year, Mark Sherry’s remix of BBE’s ‘Seven Days One Week’ and Sean Tyas’s version of ‘Lost In Love’, both took the original tracks in directions never done before, yet these same two guys have been responsible for making some of the most innovative and interesting original tracks as well, so are they going backwards or forwards? I have heard some terrible remakes of older trance tracks that might have been best left alone, I won’t mention any names, but I think the key is balance. As long as producers are making original tracks, keeping clubbers interested and pushing whatever scene they’re in forward, then I don’t see the harm in doing cover versions as well, as long as they are good, or different. I’ve heard loads of breaks & techno sets this year, with trance, house & even rap bootlegs being dropped without a word being said, is this because these scenes are supposed to be more credible, so its ok to bootleg stuff? Let’s be honest, when your dancing and you recognise the first couple of bars of an old favourite, it makes you smile and want to put your hands in the air… Now where’s the harm in that as long as it’s done well?
AT: Who are your biggest influences at the moment? and how did you find making the switch in the studio from producing Hard Dance to Tech Trance?
JC: I am loving Ferry Corsten & Marco V’s stuff just now. They are at the top of their game, but have also reached a period in their careers where they can experiment with their sounds, knowing people will go along with them. I am also loving stuff by Mojado and Pedro Del Gardo. I’m getting into my tribal and ethnic stuff, and you’ll here those influences in collaborations I’ve recently done with Mark Sherry & David Forbes, as well as future solo tracks I’ve done with Michael Dow. Not forgetting hard-dance, BK has been releasing some wicked new stuff, as have Vinylgroover & The Redhead. Phil Reynold’s, Technikal, Trevor McLachlan, MDA & Spherical, Colin Barratt and Nick Rowland always have a place in my record box as well. There is so much good music out there just now, its so exciting the fusion of sounds and genres, you just don’t know where the music’s going, and that gives me some hope for the future of dance music.
AT: In the past you’ve worked and collaborated with some of the biggest names in Hard Dance. Have you any future plans to work with producers affiliated more with the Trance / Tech Trance sound? And who would you like to work with the most out of any artist on the planet?
JC: I mentioned before that I have recently worked with Mark Sherry & David Forbes. I am very happy with the way both tracks have turned out, although un-named at current, I am excited to see how they do. I would love to get in the studio with some other names within the trance and tech scenes, but I think I’ll need to get a few more releases under my belt before that happens. I’d love to work with Marcel Woods, Sander Van Doorn, Jochen Miller, Bart Claessen & Sean Tyas to name but a few. I’d still like do tracks with some of hard-dances biggest stars. If BK, Nick Sentience, Phil Reynolds or Lee Haslam are reading this, then I’m free for some collabs, you have my number…
AT: At the forthcoming Addiction X Mas Ball you’re playing in both the Trance & Hard Dance arenas! This really is your chance to show one crowd just how diverse you can be. So our readers know what they can expect on the night, can you briefly explain how different the content of each set will be?
JC: I can tell you now the sets will be completely different! The BPM’s will be World’s apart for starters, with my tech-trance set being around 136 – 138BPM, and my hard-dance set at around 144 – 146BPM. Although they may not look to far apart, the difference is tremendous. At 136BPM it’s all about the groove and the drive, at 146BPM I like my music to be all about that feel good factor, with as many hands being in the air as possible. My tech-set will showcase a lot of my own work, including several remixes of older classics, as well as some exclusive new original material. My hard-dance set, well you’ve heard the tracks and the mixes so you know what to expect, high energy hard-dance, with lots of big room riffs. No matter what music I play, I play it the same way, with passion and energy.
AT: You’re playing alongside an all star line up, featuring the best of the old and the new. With Nick Sentience and Ian Betts representing those that have done so much for their respective genres, and new artists like Sean Tyas and Adrenaline Dept. who are both receiving nothing but praise from their piers and pushing new boundaries. Who are you looking forward to seeing play the most?
JC: Well I’ve played alongside Nick Sentience on several occasions, as well as hosting him in Scotland, and he never fails to impress me with his brave track selection and tight mixing. I haven’t seen Ian Betts yet, but am loving his tracks at the moment, so I’ll try to catch some of his set if possible. Regarding the new boys, well I’ve played alongside Thomas from the Adrenaline Dept twice in Norway, so know what to expect, but want to see more, as I’ve never seen him with his partner in crime, and Sean Tyas, well if there’s a more in demand name in trance at the moment then I don’t know it, so I’m very excited to be playing alongside him, I cant wait to hear what he’s got in store.
AT: With much speculation over the future of Hard Dance at the moment, what are your thoughts on the current state of the scene we all know and love? Running both a successful club night and record label, have you noticed a recession or are things bigger and better than ever?
JC: I defiantly think there have been some major changes within our scene, and those scene’s around us, some for the better, and some for the worse. One thing I have noticed is that as people speculate and moan about the state of clubbing, the nights, DJ’s, promoters, producers and venues seamed to have got better. With the scene getting smaller, everyone is having to up their game to get their cut of the pie, being not bad isn’t good enough anymore, now you have to be or have something special to keep people interested. There are so many good new DJ’s, producers and nights, I think the scene is on an upward rise again after a slight slump, I think people just need to give it time, and believe in it for it to work and gain strength. How many new great nights have started over the past year that some may say have risen from the ashes from parties before them? We have such a vibrant abundance of new producers just now, with MDA & Spherical, Alf Bamford, Adrenaline Dept, Mikey Dow and Digital Kid all establishing themselves alongside the older guard of BK, James Lawson, Paul Maddox, Guyver, Nick Rowland, Nick Sentience and Vinylgroover to name but a few. The futures bright, I just don’t know where its going, and that excites me!
AT: At Addiction we are firm believers that Trance & Hard Dance in all their forms can compliment each other perfectly under one roof, however more often that not the two genres are segregated and shunned by those who favour one or other. Is variety the spice of life? Or do you think the two should be kept separate?
JC: I think variety is definitely the spice of life! Up until a couple of years ago trance and hard-dance would never have been heard in the same club, but times change, and for the better in my opinion. Now DJ’s have a license to experiment with music, actually develop a set that without sounding like a twat, takes people on a musical journey that they can dictate. Its not only hard-dance and trance that are being fused, techno tracks like Murder Was The Bass and Pontape were mainstays in many hard-dance DJ’s boxes for many a months. Marcel Woods ‘Advanced’ and several Marco V tracks have found their way into sets by all the top hard-dance DJ’s, while German hard-trance, hard-style and even house/electro tracks such as Richard Durrand’s ‘Make Me Scream’ are getting plays. From a production point of view it has opened up so many avenues for people making music. You can now fuse sounds together, where before people wouldn’t understand why you did it. I’m loving music just now, I’m loving the variety, it’s what makes music interesting, if all music sounded the same it would be pretty boring… Having sex with the sexiest girl in the World in the missionary position would get a bit boring after several years wouldn’t it?
AT: What future plans have you got? Any tours on the horizon? New promotion or label ventures? Or any desires to enhance your performances with a LIVE set?
JC: I have loads of new stuff in the pipeline, but so do many people, the problem is making everything reality. I have been talking with Phil Reynolds about doing a mix compilation with him in the New Year. I think musically our sounds suit one another and from a business point of view you’re combining two fan bases, from North and South of the border. I am also keen to get an artist album out there, I have so many unreleased tracks, and older things that I want to update. I liked what the Edison Factor did with their album, a mixed CD and DJ friendly disc, so keep your eyes pealed for something very similar; maybe Tidy will let me do a CD for their producer’s series. Tour wise I’m confirming tours of Canada, Australia & South Africa at the moment, and looking at possible bookings in Japan & South America in 2007. As well as the international stuff I want to get more dates put in down South in 2007, with a string of releases and remixes coming up I hope that will help. With regards new promotions, I’m launching a new night in Scotland called Boombox, which will feature the phatter sound of dance music. Expect to hear tracks from Steve Angello alongside Marcel Woods, electro with tech, trance & techno. Again were back to variety, but it opens up so many doors, letting me book a variety of guest DJ’s. I’d love to have a night where Ferry Corsten plays one month, then Fergie, then Sister Bliss, Mauro Picotto, etc etc It keeps the night interesting, and opens it up to several social groups, hopefully bringing different people together under one roof. I am also in the process of setting up a new hard-dance label as well, as yet un-named, it will be home for loads of new productions, and some wicked remixes, so watch this space! As for a LIVE set or PA, I have spoke to Mallorca Lee (Former front man from Public Domain) about re-doing all my spoken vocals for a possible live set involving dub versions of some of my older stuff. I’m also looking at having him actually doing the vocals for some of my new stuff. I’d like to combine him with a live female vocalist, scratch DJ, and percussionist playing the perc from striped down versions of my tracks. It’s not a live PA, or a live set, but visually I think it could be quite exciting for a clubber seeing it…
AT: I’ve also heard you’re a bit of a party animal, and no stranger to the ‘crack on’. What’s the funniest post club tale you have to tell?
JC: I wont go into too many details, if only to save my blushes and those that that were involved, but… If anyone wants to ask me in person I’ll tell them about Edinburgh’s Waverly train station, me, a sledge, a fishing net and Jay Pidgeon. I can also tell them about Lisa Lashes, some wankey boots, and the Tidy Weekender… Erm, there’s the story about Ed Real, some mustard and a certain Paul Maddox…
The list is endless, but its fair to say I am partial to a crack on, and some dressing up, I’ll leave it at that!
AT: Finally mate, what’s the best piece of advice you can offer to aspiring DJs / Producers or Promoters looking to follow in the footsteps of someone like yourself?
JC: Erm, don’t do it to make money, or look good, and don’t do it cos it looks easy. If you’re meant to do it then it will happen. I’ve been DJing and promoting for over 10 years now, I still haven’t achieved everything I want from Djing, and am no where near it. I’m still learning, I am not under any illusions that I have made it, I take each day, each gig, and each event as it comes, hoping they all go well…
My advice is simple, have fun with it, treat people with respect and maybe something will happen, maybe it wont, but if it doesn’t at least you had fun and people still like you!
AT: Thank’s very much for both your time and some fantastic answers mate! See you @ Hidden on Dec 9th !!