EDMTunes got the opportunity to sit down with the Norwegian trance & progressive producer, Orjan Nilsen, this past weekend where he made his Houston, Texas debut. After getting to know each other for a few minutes and talking about sports, I found out that Orjan Nilsen is actually a big Oklahoma City Thunder fan. Orjan is wrapping up the year by forming his new label “In My Opinion” and has big plans coming in 2014. Read more to see what he has to say on his new label, the trance scene today, his inspiration on two of his huge hits “XIING” and “Violetta,” and the possibility of producing some deep house in the future.
EDMtunes: On behalf of everyone from EDMTunes, I want to say thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us. It is a real pleasure!
Ørjan Nilsen: Thank you! No worries!
EDMTunes: You are making your Houston debut tonight. How does it feel to be playing shows in the States? How does it compare to playing shows in Norway or other parts of Europe?
Ørjan Nilsen: I think you guys are a little bit more excited. I think it’s because it’s pretty new even though it’s not but it’s still new in a sense of mainstream kind of way. It’s pretty new for me as well to be here because I only got my working visa this year, haha.
EDMTtunes: You were just at the 10 Edition of Transmission in Prague with Markus Schulz, Cosmic Gate, Tomas Heredia, The Thrillseekers, and many more. Please tell us what that whole experience is like? It seems like that is one of the best trance events to go to of the year!
Ørjan Nilsen: It is fantastic! As from an audience perspective, I can imagine this probably being one of the biggest experience because of the light show and also obviously you got a pretty diverse lineup as well, which is pretty cool! As for an artist, it is fantastic to see all those people standing out there looking at you just going with the flow. There was so many people! I think 12,000! It’s huge! It was a fantastic hall, fantastic venue, and great organization as well!
EDMTunes: It’s almost been 10 years since you’ve been an active DJ and producer. Explain how the trance scene has changed from the early 2000’s to now?
Ørjan Nilsen: Yes, I was signed in 2005. I am going into my 9th year. Back in the days there were fewer artists. Now, there are a lot of people fighting for the bone because it’s much more accessible with VST’s and everything being on computers. You got a much bigger scene! It’s changed more sound-wise. It’s going more minimal than it was before and i kind of like that. Less is usually more!
EDMTunes: And of course with social media.
Ørjan Nilsen: Social media in general is very important because of course people can connect with you more than ever. It’s fun for the artists as well to actually connect with the fans without actually being at the venue, which is pretty cool!
EDMTunes: What future plans and goals do you have for 2014?
Ørjan Nilsen: Definitely building my label a lot more! Just building it more with new artists and hopefully some undiscovered artists as well. I actually think i found a couple!
EDMTunes: Think you can spill this out right now for us? Haha!
Ørjan Nilsen: Noooo, I’m gonna wait a little bit, haha! It’s going to be a surprise! Also i’m going to make a compilation finally. I got some time to go through tracks. I was suppose to release a compilation two years ago. This year, I just haven’t had the time. I haven’t been home, but I just finished an album and that was pretty cool!
EDMTunes: Yes, “No Saint Out Of Me.” I really enjoyed that!
Ørjan Nilsen: Thank you! Yes, next year is going to be a compilation and a new album. I’m going to buildup my new label like crazy. It’s my little baby right now. Hopefully, I’m going to spend more time with my daughter too who now just turned 9. She has been so patient which is very unusual for a small child!
EDMTunes: How does it feel having not one but two of your songs, “XIING” and “Violetta” from “No Saint Out of Me” featured in most of Armin van Buuren’s sets this year? What was in your inspiration of making these two hit tracks?
Ørjan Nilsen: With “Violetta”, I wanted to go back to the old trance energy days and the days where you had anthems with a fantastic hook. I thought I wanted to make something easy and something powerful at the same time. So that was the reason why I wanted to make “Violetta”. I wanted to bring back the old school trance energy feel back. “XIING” was just a moment of madness where I had a small crazy little melody inspired by “old Norwegian folklorish” stuff with a new electric kind of sound and techno beat so I thought why not merge it all like one big soup? Haha!
Ørjan Nilsen: The way he discovered me was basically by a mutual friend. Armin heard my track “Red Woods” and he loved it and signed it to Armada. After that, I’ve always been in contact with Armin. I always talk to him and he’s a good friend of mine now and he’s my mentor.
EDMTunes: He’s not a bad person to have as your mentor, right?
Ørjan Nilsen: No, not at all! Haha!
EDMTunes: Speaking of labels, you have a brand new label out called “In My Opinion.” What can you tell us about this label and what direction are you going with it? Who do you have already signed on this label?
Ørjan Nilsen: The direction of my label is going to be one specific word, “good”, it has to be good. Genre doesn’t matter. As long as it’s good, it’s on my label. I made a few more tracks myself which is signed there. A new guy who I discovered called Fingerling, a friend of mine from my city – he’s got a new release coming up next year. He’s got a lot of talent and a lot of prospects so hopefully he can do a lot more in the future as well!
EDMTunes: Who are your biggest inspirations and what keeps you motivated to do what you do?
Ørjan Nilsen: What motivates me is people. It would be pretty hard to be a producer and not a DJ and the other way around as well. Going to shows, playing the shows, and seeing people react to my tracks is a huge motivator. Another one is the fact that I always loved this music. It is my passion and it’s always going to be my passion. I don’t think I would ever stop making music or playing it. So yea, the biggest motivation is definitely my fans and the people. It’s something I hope I’ll keep for many many years.
EDMTunes: Finally, what are some words of advice or tips for those that are wanting to become a trance producer just like yourself?
Ørjan Nilsen: First advice is don’t try to be like me, haha! Don’t try to be someone but yourself. I think that’s something I had a bigger advantage of is the fact that back in the days I did not have YouTube. I didn’t have any tutorials so I had to learn everything from scratch. Try to practice more but fail as well. Try to do it more yourself instead of doing the tutorials on YouTube even though I made one myself as well but it’s very basic. Basic tutorials is cool but if you go into deep, into other people’s tutorial you will end up making a replica of it. That’s something I wouldn’t recommend anybody. In the end, what you want to do is have your own signature kind of sound. It’s very important because there are so many people sounding the same. Try to find your own sound and try to do your own thing. If there’s one thing you’re gonna need in a scene filled with producers and DJs is identity!
EDMTunes: On that note about identity, do you feel like you have to re-create yourself and music and start from scratch over and over again now that the scene is bigger than it was before?
Ørjan Nilsen: I do that all the time! I feel like doing it all the time as well just because I don’t want things to get boring. I’m in a period right now where i’m making a lot of more big drop and bangers with my own kind of sound to it. It’s just because I like it. Now, i’m in a period where I’m actually thinking about doing downtempo stuff like real downtempo stuff.
EDMTunes: Any examples?
Ørjan Nilsen: Deep house. I love deep house! It’s always fun to test your borders and test your boundaries. You never know where you gonna end up, anyways. I mean, hopefully, you’re not gonna end up anywhere instead you’re just gonna progress throughout. That’s what I’m trying to do as well. I just want to go through everything knowing that I did my best at everything I wanted to do. If that means re-invent yourself from scratch, I’m gonna do it. If I fail then oh well at least I tried!