Interview with Novaline
This is the first in our series of interviews with Scandinavian producers and dj’s.
To read it, click on more!
We wanted to know more about the Swedish producer Novaline, therefore we set up a meeting with him at a cafe in central Stockholm on a cold Saturday in January.
Before we start, could you tell us a little more about yourself, on a non-musical front?
Well, I’m a 24 years old guy called Mauricio Unzueta Gubernati, and I’m just a regular guy hanging out in the city trying to find a job, producing music and going to the gym. Just the normal stuff.
I don’t have a girl at the moment, but I will try to find one in the future, but now I’m working on my career.
Your production ”Sakura” was opening Paul Oakenfold’s radio show ”Full on Fluoro” just recently and it has been supported by many great DJs. How did it feel, to be supported by such a huge producer and DJ, in a radio show like that for first time?
To be honest, I was like “wow, this can’t be true”.
It was the first time I was supported by Paul Oakenfold, who is a huge legend when it comes to movie and trance music. It felt amazing, totally amazing. It felt like my effort really paid off, I had finally achieved something good. Now it’s time to get even more serious. Now I know how and what I need to do with my tracks to get them out to the masses.
Was this the first time your track got played on a larger show?
It was the first time Paul Oakenfold played it, but Armin van Buuren has played “Sakura” too, although it was a remix. But still, my name was in his playlist.
You started producing tracks three years ago. What made you want to start producing tracks?
To be honest, in the beginning of 2003 to 2007 I was producing hard trance, tech trance and acid-tracks, but I got tired of it and wanted to make something with more passion. I started to experiment with my own trance style where I wanted to make trance my own sound instead of copying and stealing from others. I wanted to make something unique.
As a producer, your mind must be overloaded with ideas, and if only they were visible, we’d probably see musical notes orbiting around your head. Tell us something about your dreams, and if they at all are connected with your music.
My dream when it comes to this music industry, especially trance music is that I want to be famous and well known as a good producer, like Andreas Schmidt. He is the producer for Talla 2XLC, he has done a lot of beautiful music back in the days. I want to be known as a producer who can express his feelings through the music.
Do you have specific production sessions in the studio, or you just run towards your studio shouting ”eureka, eureka!” when a new tune beams into your mind?
Haha! Sometimes it’s like that, but usually I just sit in my studio, trying to create something and if I can do something with the idea, I do it right away. Otherwise it goes in my maybe-folder and I go back to it later on.
With “Sakura” I had that feeling. I got inspired by Japanese melodies and especially their culture, and when I sat down in the studio it just came to me.
I usually go back to the folder on my computer and listen to the samples there, and if the feeling is right I just go on with the track.
What would be the perfect recipe to make a hit trance tune ‘today’? Please describe it from your own perspective.
To make a good hit track you have to know what people want, and what works on today’s dance floors. Look at Dash Berlin and Armin van Buuren for example. They know what works and what people want and they have their own perspective on it.
It’s a hard question, but I would think it should be really emotional in a way that touches people’s hearts. Also it has to be a clean tune, not a messy beat or chord like trance from ’99 which sounds like crap.
Do you want to make a radio hit that’ll get played 10 million times, or a hit that touches people’s hearts, creates memories and emotional attachments? Something like Oceanlab has accomplished. They make cheesy tracks but people still have strong memories associated with them.
Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean, they know what works, they do stuff that is extremely emotional, but they also make some really cheesy radio stuff for DJs to play in bars and clubs.
That is what I want to do, but mostly I would like to make music that go into people’s hearts and minds.
How do you come up with the names for your tunes? Do you some up with them before or after the tunes are produced?
I have a story about a song I’ve done called “love at first sight”. That track is about my former girlfriend. The first time we met it was exactly like what you see in movies, that ‘love at first sight’.
I made that track after we broke up and it’s about that feeling, that magical feeling you get when you are in love for the first time.
Usually I come up with the names for the songs after they are done since my tracks are often based on real life moments.
If you were converted into a song, which one would you be and why?
I’ve got many favorites, but the last three years I’ve been listening very much to a Japanese artist called Taku Iwasaki and his track “Quiet life” from a movie called Samurai X (originally released in Japan as “Rurouni Kenshin”). It’s a really touching movie, also pretty brutal, but that’s another story.
I would say that particular track because I like pianos and violins a lot, and the orchestral music is so amazing and it touches you in a really great way. You can feel the music in your soul. It makes you think about stuff you haven’t thought of in a really long time. Just sitting on a rock out on the sea and just think for yourself.
Please throw light upon your forthcoming releases!
I can tell you that I’m working on a lot of tracks, but I currently have three tracks that are close completion. One of them is a track with Lisa Rose, a new one that is much better than “Run Away”. The second one is a track I made last summer with Kara Sun. We haven’t titled it yet, but it’s a banging tech trance. The third one is a track that my fans have heard before as a piano version. It has been on my YouTube channel for a while, called “Love at first sight” in a trance version.
What has been the biggest challenge that you have faced in the industry and how did you overcome it to get to where you are today? Any lessons learned that you can share with upcoming DJ’s/producers?
First of all I was stuck when I started with trance in 2008. I made trance with the ’99s and I wasn’t really satisfied with it. This was until I met Einar K from Lemon & Einar K, after he had contacted me on MySpace. We met up and he helped me producing “Run Away” with Lisa Rose.
He taught me so much about things I did not even think of before, and since then I have had my new Novaline-sound, which sounded perfect. I also learned how to develop my own sound.
He has really been a teacher, mentor and a really good friend, so don’t be afraid to ask someone, but talk to someone who can produce music with its own hands, not someone that uses presets and such.
And my advice is to work a lot with equalizers, compressors and programming the synths really accurate. The whole mixing part is super important.
That is how you get it to sound really good. I get the old Vanguard synth to sound really fresh and people ask me how I get it like that; it’s all about mixing the track and never stop until you are really satisfied.
As a producer you’ve produced both vocal and non-vocal tracks. Actually, when I listened to your YouTube channel there were a lot of beautiful down tempo tracks. Which one do you prefer producing and what are the challenges of producing a vocal track as well as the challenges of producing non-vocal track?
It depends on what day it is and what my mood is like that day. Sometimes I feel like creating a down tempo track, something that reminds me of old days and things that has happened.
But I make more trance tracks nowadays, but I also make orchestral and piano tracks while I’m working on the trance tracks, depending on what mood I’m in.
Do you write the lyrics yourself?
No, I don’t, I suck at it. It sounds too cheesy if I do it on my own. It sounds like I’m trying to get a girl or something like that.
Usually I do the whole production, the melody and beat and then I send it to a vocalist and they start working on the lyrics. I also adapt the track to work with the vocalists’ voices. Everything have to be perfect, you can’t make a track that doesn’t work with the vocalist.
It’s more of a challenge to work on a vocal track, you have to be more sophisticated. Instrumental tracks are both easy and hard, but vocal tracks can touch you in a whole different way.
If you were given the opportunity to work with any producer as well as to collaborate with any vocalist, who would it be and why?
One of them would definably be Nelly Furtado, she has a really special voice and style. When I heard the track she’s done with Paul Oakenfold I knew I wanted to work with her. She has this dark, swinging voice. She is unique.
Another one I would like to work with is Hans Zimmer, he has made some really good orchestral tunes for movies and such.
How are you planning to take on the future with your music? Is there an album coming anytime soon?
First of all I’m going to finish all my projects I’ve been working on since last year. I haven’t really thought about it that much. I’ve started a classical music project with my collaborate and friend Fabian Kempe.
I’m trying to do different styles instead of trance, like house, progressive trance and break beats, just trying out a lot of experimental stuff.
An album takes time to put together, I have to think about what it’s going to be about. I have some tracks but I’m never really satisfied with them. If I get a lot faster at producing than I’ve been so far, maybe in a year or two you’ll probably will be seeing an album by me.
Do you DJ? What styles?
Not exactly DJing with CDJ’s, but I do mixes with a computer in the program Traktor. But I’m learning and I have done a few live mixes. Very soon I’m going to be a ”real” DJ!
The styles varies between trance classics, tech trance, progressive and melodic trance. Pretty much everything as you can hear in the mix I sent to you guys.
Name three classics and three current tunes that you always bring with you to a gig.
I usually just take something I like and play it. It’s not like I have something I want to play every single time. I often listen to tracks people haven’t even heard yet.
Sometimes I like to play a track called “JK Walker – Line of sight”. It’s not a very famous track since JK is an underground producer but it’s a really great track to have in sets. I like to give the listeners a treat of both known and unknown tracks.
If you were to put your money on a country for its growing trance scene which one would it be?
Definitely Sweden! I’m not saying I hate hardstyle. It’s not my favorite, but it has expanded very rapidly over the past three-four years. But I will definitely say trance music. The Swedish trance scene has grown bit by bit and it has matured in an slow pace.
Everyone knows what trance is. Okay, not everyone, but almost! I want to make trance big in Sweden. I want to make it more accepted and not as hunted as it has been since the 90′s.
Quite a geeky question, but for all those aspiring DJs/producers out there, can you take us through your current studio set up? What does it consist of and what pieces of equipment/software would you say are the most essential?
I can start off by mentioning what I use. I use Fruityloops Studio and a shitload of VST-synths, for example the Vanguard DSP Discovery, which is a software synth of the Nordlead and sometimes the Omnisphere. It depends on what I want to make, but most of the time I use the Vanguard and the built in synths in FL Studio.
But the most popular synths today is actually the Nexus, tone2 Gladiator VST and the Sylenth1, but I don’t like them since the presets sounds are already finished and sounds like what everyone else has made.
What hardware do you use?
I only use my PC. I really would like to have an hardware synth like the Access Virus Ti, but it costs a lot of money and takes up a lot of space and I can’t afford it right now. But eventually I will!
Okej, so to the fast questions:
All-time trance favorite:
I have to pick a really old track but it is really good: Sören Weile – Riot.
Your favorite possession:
It has to be my mobile phone!
Own Productions or own Remixes?
Other favorite genres after trance?
Besides trance I like orchestral, break beats, ambient, chill out and older hip hop.
An EDM producer you look up to:
I look up to a lot of producers, but Einar K, Adam Szabo and Fabian Kempe aka Ultraform inspire me a lot!
When you are not making music, what can you be found doing?
In the woods by the outdoor gym, or in the city doing something crazy (just kidding).
Just doing different stuff. I don’t go out partying as much as before, but nowadays I just do whatever I feel like. Spontaneous stuff.
Three things you absolutely can’t live without?
I can’t live without:
1. My mobile phone
2. My computer
3. My necklace, I get super nervous if I can’t find it. It’s my lucky charm. It’s a silver ghetto-thug-style link.
One thing your fans don’t know about you.
Wow, A LOT of things. People think I’m a really soft guy but I can party really hard. Don’t challenge me in a tequila race.
Your favorite item of clothing?
Dark jeans, t-shirt…Just casual clothes.. I don’t really have a style, I just pick what I want to wear that day.
Most embarrassing moment?
Once at a party at a friend’s house I met a girl, and after some drinks we got to the sack and at one time she was under me and one of her friends walked in and asked where she was.
I couldn’t stop laughing but eventually I asked if she had checked the toilet.
After that both the girl and me said that it would end there.. it was too embarrassing to continue.
Best hangover cure?
At a Monday Bar Summer cruise last summer I had this really bad hangover, and I was in the cabin talking shit with Daniel Kandi.
This will sound really crazy, but I couldn’t speak Swedish at all, only English, until the hangover has gone away.
After that I was my normal self, but I didn’t feel like shit. So the best cure is to just hang around, talking shit and .. start drinking again!
If you weren’t a DJ/producer you’d be a…?
Years ago I was a construction worker, but it didn’t fit me and I got laid off due to the economy crisis. I don’t really know what to do if I hadn’t got the music, to be honest.
What´s the first record you bought?
My first record must have been a compilation CD called Sonic the Hedgehog-compilation with Prodigy and other great tunes.
But the first real full length album I bought was Backstreet Boys. I was really embarrassed about it but I liked it!
What is the most interesting thing you’ve heard about your music?
People often say to me that I have a really unique sound, and they say I’m one of the best producers. I really can’t take it in, but it makes me really happy to hear that. It keeps me going!
Which big music style plaguing EDM would you like to disappear right now?
Do you really want me to answer that?
One of them is definitely hardstyle. Hate me or love me. It’s extremely bad produced. It sound way too cheesy, it’s lame and sounds exactly the same all the time.
Second style is today’s Hip hop and third is today’s R’n'B. R’n’B has been too influenced by electronic dance music thanks to David Guetta, and it doesn’t sound good at all.
Actually one of the best pop artists is Lady Gaga, her sound is really unique and she sounds real, unlike everyone else on radio today.
Thanks for your time Novaline, we wish you all the luck on your forthcoming releases and we know we’ll definitely hear more from you!
Novaline has made bejbi.se an one hour exclusive mix that you can download here or listen to live down below.
Novaline -- Exclusive bejbi.se mix
1. Markus Schulz Vs. Deepsky -- You Wont See Me Cry (Novaline Bootleg)
2. Novaline -- Sakura (Original Mix)
3. Simon Patterson -- Always (Novaline Edit 2011)
4. Novaline Feat. Anthya -- Siren (Original Mix)
5. Kara Sun -- Into The Sun (Airbase Dub Mix)
6. Jaco -- Karma (Original Mix)
7. Sophie Sugar & Saona -- Isis (Alex Morph Remix)
8. Marcos feat. Emi Jarvi 2009 -- Cosmicstring (Marcos Mix)
9. Marcos -- Time To Believe (Jk Walker Remix)