There’s no better way to kick off Miami Music Week than getting up close and personal with some of your favorite artists. Armin van Buuren’s storied Armada label invited me for a chat with 3 of their hottest stars of the moment; MaRLo, Andrew Rayel, and Thomas Gold. As this writer is a big fan of trance and Thomas Gold this was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. Starting out in Coconut Grove, Google Maps showed it was only about 20 minutes to get over to the Loews Hotel in South Beach for the meet and greet. One lesson learned that week is to quadruple whatever time estimate you get for travel.
Right on the dot we arrived at the resort and headed up to one of oddest hotel room parties you’ll ever experience. Much like a high school field trip, this hotel room was crammed to the gills with people, pizza, beer, and sangria. It was essentially like speed dating for DJs – just pick one for a chat and then everybody will rotate to a different area. Almost as quickly as we arrived we downed our sangria and were off to our next Miami Music Week event, but read on to see what went down during the interviews.
First up was Australia’s hottest name in trance at the moment, MaRLo, and his beautiful wife Jano. Taller than expected, MaRLo and Jano were both extremely gracious and genuinely thrilled to be there. He had only been to a few Miami Music Week’s but this one was his biggest yet by far. He kicked things off by closing Armin van Buuren’s party at ICON Nightclub and he also had an afternoon set at Sundays famed A State of Trance tent at Ultra.
The bulk of the discussion with MaRLo centered around his perceived duality, coming from his more “mainstage” trance side and his harder darker tech-energy side. MaRLo explained that Tech-Energy isn’t just psy trance or tech trance, but incorporates various kinds of harder trance at higher BPMs. He has also grown a bit tired of the two worlds living apart, so he has started to unify them in his sets. He said that all of his sets now are incorporating that higher energy darker sound that one would associate with his “tech-energy” style”, so that now everybody can become acquainted with it. While he’s developing that side more and more, he still plans on releasing some exciting vocals tracks soon and has no plans to abandon one side or the other.
At the first switch-off, we moved into the living room to meet Armin van Buuren’s protege Andrew Rayel all the way from Moldova. The young talent was only there for the third time, but couldn’t believe how quickly things had grown. In that short time he went from being relatively unknown to playing ASOT, having his own afterparty, and even playing a late night set at Miami’s infamous E11even club. In fact, Andrew remarked that of all the shows he’s ever played that had to be the craziest. You see, E11even is a burlesque club so while the front of the crowd was die hard trance fans he could glance back further and see strippers doing their thing in the background.
Andrew had been in the midst of planning his special Dreamstate set to fill in for Paul van Dyk and was honored to have the privilege to step into such big shoes. He explained that his Dreamstate set would be hard trance going up to 140 bpm and feature basically no vocals. He was ready to show a new side of himself to the fans, and perhaps it would be something he did more often if the reaction was good. Andrew explained that he had become frustrated when people questioned the evolution of his sound. He told us that after a while making the same sounding music becomes boring, and artists need to be able to experiment to find what they love. Lastly, he told me about his upcoming album and that like Find Your Harmony it would feature a variety of tracks, from the more vocal driven tracks to the harder trance styles that the purists like.
The last switch brought us out onto the summery balcony overlooking the captivating beach where a chilled out Thomas Gold was enjoying the view. Thomas had been to Miami Music Week many times unlike the others, and had been interested to see things change over time. He remarked how every few years there is a new sound that dominates and you can see how years ago it was the groovier, techier sounds that ruled Miami and now in 2016 those sounds are starting to return again.
He told me that he really grew as an artist working with Axwell and his Axtone label, but he wanted the freedom to spread his wings and try different things. Now he is working with Armada, Revealed, Protocol, and more. It provides him the ability to work with so many interesting collaborators like Rico & Miella that he might not discover otherwise. He also casually dropped the bomb that he too is working on an album which is mostly finished. Him and his team had narrowed it down to the final grouping of tracks and were beginning to polish things for the final push. He told me that the album will really have a cohesive feel that an album should have, rather than be a collection of singles. He is excited to share his full personality with the world through his album. For somebody who had been through so many years of this insanity, he didn’t seem weathered by it, but extremely chilled and going with the flow. He’s excited to see the groovier and techier sounds return because he has a big passion for that type of house music as well.