John O’Callaghan is one of the most loved DJs and producers in the international trancescene today. Releasing his stuff at Armin van Buuren’s world famous Armada Records, John has produced big room anthems such as “Big Sky”, “Find Yourself” and “Never Fade Away”. Although he is best known for these vocal bombs, he also likes the harder basslines and pumping beats. In the important DJ Mag Top 100 poll the talented Irishman climbed up to position 24, so he is knocking on the doors of trance music’s elite. All around the world the crowds are going mad while partying to his energetic DJ-sets. Now he is back at Technoclub Frankfurt to perform a special birthdayset at the big 25 Years-celebration. We catched up with him before that gig.
Interview: Miles Schmidt-Scheuber / René Schwarz.
Technoclub: John, you will be visiting the Technoclub again after playing there for the first time in 2006. What are your nicest memories of the legendary Technoclub in Frankfurt, Germany?
John: That was my first time playing in Germany and it was a great night. It was a very enthusiastic crowd and a great atmosphere. Looking forward to the next one!
Technoclub: Can you remember when you heard the name Talla 2XLC for the first time and what was your impression of him as an artist and DJ?
John: I remember when I was just getting into trance a long time ago I saw his name a lot. I must admit I didn’t know where he was from or anything, I just recognised the interesting name. It was so long ago actually I can’t remember the track name, but he has certainly contributed such a large amount to the trance scene. Good work Talla!
Technoclub: What kind of DJ set can we await from you in the Technoclub? Will you only play album tracks and hot new tracks or also some older John O’Callaghan classics like “Split Decision” or some of your older remixes?
John: No no, a lot of new stuff – there is some great trance around right now. So, on the night I will choose the best new stuff and maybe some of my best-known stuff, too, if people want to hear it.
Technoclub: Three or four years ago, Paul van Dyk picked you as a newcomer for the future and he was right. Have you been surprised by your rapid development as a producer in the last years?
John: It’s been a really enjoyable few years. I always just made music for fun and enjoyment; it was never a career until recently. So I’m just delighted that it has become a job and something I can make a living from. It certainly has been rapid as you described.
Technoclub: You released the album “Never Fade Away” earlier this year and it has seen 11 tracks cruise into the top 50 of Beatport. When you completed the album in the studio, did you even dare to think that it could be as big as it has gotten?
John: I rarely think about that when I’m making music. I just hope that people like the tunes and its well received. I know in my own mind what I like and I make music of my own vision, if I was to make stuff I knew the rest of the world would like I might not be making trance music. Electronic music is a passion and everybody who works in it knows we work for that passion.
Technoclub: “Never Fade Away” is really very beautiful. The atmosphere is breathtaking. When I was listening to it for the first time, it really was able to take me away to another place. How difficult was it putting this track together? What was your inspiration behind the atmosphere?
John: It was a chillout track of just strings and piano. Something I made on headphones one afternoon whilst it was raining outside. My fiancé wrote the lyrics for her sister, who was in a bad car accident. So overall, it’s a really meaningful song for both of us.
Technoclub: How much fun was it working together with Giuseppe Ottaviani? When you two guys work together in the studio, how can one imagine the separation of duties on a track?
John: It changes each time. For both our collaborations we worked mainly by our servers and transferring files. We both use Cubase so it was easy enough. For “Our Dimension” I made the melody and strings, and Giuseppe added the bass line, acids and FX. For “Liquid Fire” it was the opposite – Giuseppe made the melody, and so forth. It’s amazing to work with such a talented guy.
Technoclub: You recently released a mix CD called “Subculture”. The tracklisting is very tasty. What makes this compilation so special and different compared to other mix CDs and how difficult was it finding the right tracks?
John: It was a great pleasure as I had sooo many tracks to pick from. It could have been four CDs. So this for me represents the best in trance around right now, including some of my own exclusive new tunes. It’s very close to my DJ sets and the energy I like trance music to have. Check it out!
Technoclub: Last year you came in at #60 in the DJ Mag top 100 and in 2009 you jumped up to #24. Now you are in striking range of the Top 10. I think you could be the next solo trance artist to make the jump into the top 10 like Ferry Corsten, Paul van Dyk, Tiesto and Armin did the last years. What is missing for you to make that next jump? Maybe a top ten track in the UK charts or possibly something else?
John: I think it just takes time. If I keep doing what I’m doing who knows. I am happy with where I am and I’m very grateful to each person that voted for me. Who knows what will happen in five more years. The industry changes all the time, but I will keep fighting to improve.
Technoclub: You just finished a remix for Matt Hardwick’s track “Impossible”. How has the early feedback been so far?
John: Really good! I’m so happy with that remix because the vocal for me is stunning. And to take that into an energetic, light trance mould was perfect for me as I just love playing that vocal in my sets. It’s out very soon.
Technoclub: What was your biggest and non forgettable gig in 2009?
John: Trance Energy, easy!
Technoclub: What are your five favourite tracks at the moment?
John: Tom Colontonio – The One, Jordan Suckley – The Storm, Giuseppe Ottaviani – Thermopile, Simon Patterson – Miss You, Joint Operations Centre – Cramped
Technoclub: Thanks John for the chat. We are looking forward to see you in Frankfurt in December!