Craig Connelly: Taking Trance To A Whole New Level (Interview)
British DJ, producer and Garuda A&R Craig Connelly needs no introduction to Trance music lovers. With hits like “Black Hole” featuring Christina Novelli, “Robot Wars,” “Decibels,” and his most recent smash “Shipwreck,” Craig has proved time an time again that he has what it takes to consistently produce Top 10 hits.
We got a chance to chat with Craig during a very exciting time in his career, ramping up for releases like his remix of Gareth Emery featuring Gavin Beach – “Eye Of The Storm” on Emery’s Drive Refueled album, a collab with Dan Thomson on “Welcome To Earth,” a North American Tour & much, much more.
Craig Connelly 2015 Interview
OTB: Congrats on your new single “Shipwreck!” It’s absolutely stunning. You’ve worked with some fantastic vocalists in the past, but this is your first time working with Cate Kanell. How did your relationship come about and what was your process in writing the song with her? Is there a specific song that she was featured on that inspired you to want to work with her?
CC: I first heard Cate’s voice on a Lange record called ‘Fireflies’ and I loved it! After that I knew I’d like to work with her at some point. I first started writing ‘Shipwreck’ straight after a big loss in my life and I almost had all the parts and arrangement laid out in my head. I sent Cate the backing a vocal melody line I envisioned she could sing. Then she married it to the stunning lyrics you hear now. The track all worked out quite fluid tbh, it went from start to completion in a matter of months which is unusual for a vocal record, they usually take ages to get right. Once I sent it to Armin he wanted to sign it straight away, a dream come true really.
OTB: You’re one of the most consistent artists in Trance, with your tracks continually making their way into Beatport’s Top 10. What do you think sets you apart from all the other artists out there?
CC: I have a ‘music first’ policy. I don’t tend to follow trends or particular sounds that are currently hot, like the 140 crowd or the more housey trance. I just always make sure the melody and chords are perfect before committing to producing the track. That being said, I guess I just produce a style that is most suited to the melody at the time. ‘Shipwreck’ for example needed to be uplifting and euphoric but not so banging it would be in the 138-140 styles. I think this is what people expect from me, emotional music, so it’s reflected in the charts I guess.
OTB: Tell us about a typical day in the life of Craig Connelly.
CC: Get woken by the cat scratching my feet and in front of the computer working by 10am. Then usually get through as much admin as possible before heading to the studio. I can easily spend 8-10 hours a day making music if Im not too busy with admin tasks. If it’s a show day I tend to take it easy and not rush around. I like to be as relaxed as possible before a gig. But otherwise I don’t stop, always working. I try to make time for regular life stuff like a gym session but these occasions aren’t as regular as I’d like haha.
OTB: What inspires you to write music?
CC: I tend to write music best at nights where it’s quiet. I do often get ideas for tracks when I’m either in the shower or in the car. I’ve been through a lot over the last 12 months so i’ve got plenty emotions and life experiences to get out through music. So expect a ton of emotional tracks this year and less of the tough techy stuff.
OTB: What’s your favorite piece of studio equipment and why?
CC: Oooo. My favourite from a fun point of view is a little sequencer/synth called Elektron Analog Four. It doesn’t feature in as many of my tracks as it should for the price tag, just very fun to play with.
One thing I couldn’t live without is a piece of software called Native Instruments Massive, it tends to be my g- to sound source for most things.
OTB: We’re a big fan of your podcast Decibels Radio. For people that haven’t heard it before, what can they expect?
CC: Well the radio show is like my playground for playing stuff i wouldnt normally play. The first 20 minutes is like a warm up featuring techno and progressive house then i move into the more techy trance stuff and Anjuna style tracks before moving into the uplifting big stuff at the end. I famously said on the first show ‘if you’re looking for EDM bangers you’re in the wrong place’ and this is still true haha, no cheese please Louise !
OTB: You must hear a lot of new artists being the A&R of Garuda. Who are some less well-known artists you think we should watch out for in 2015?
CC: Luke Bond & Alex Sonata are two priorities for Garuda at the moment, both are really good producers. I know Christina Novelli will have some more material for the label in 2015 but I can’t say anymore than that right now.
OTB: The US goes through a lot of EDM ‘crazes.’ First dubstep, then big room, and now it appears to be deep house. What do you think the next big sound will be and why? Are there any artists that you can think of that might pioneer this sound?
CC: I think it wont be a change in sound but a change in mentality towards dance music in general. I think once everyone has gotten sick of sounds changing people will settle down into what they liked the best from the last 5 years of changing sounds every 12 months. Naturally Eric Prydz has always been a huge artist, but I think the more commercial EDM market will start to look up on him even more. His melodic house sound could be what the mainstream EDM evolves into. He’s half way between the deeper darker house music and the more cross over commercial EDM so I think this will serve him well.
OTB: We heard you’ll be touring North America soon! What are some differences between playing to a US crowd compared to one in the UK?
CC: Yes, touring starts as soon as March so I’m really excited about that! I’ll have to wait and see to tell you that. I’ve played in the US before and they always seem pretty open to a variety of sounds compares to some other territories in the world which are into just one sound and wont be open minded to other sounds. Playing in the US will allow me to play some more slower / progressive sounds but it wont be much different to a UK show.
OTB: What else can we expect from Craig Connelly in 2015?
CC: Loads and loads of music. More exciting things with Decibels radio, possibly event branding later in the year. And hopefully my busiest touring year to date. Bring it on.
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