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We caught up with Laurent Veronnez and Jurgen Leyers the one time duo of Fire & Ice and now on the verge of their new release as Airwave & DJ Fire with “Kabalash”. Two hard working guys with studio and gigging taking up their time but we get a chance to get them settled and ask a few questions about their schedules and lifestyles.
Hi guys thanks so much for taking the time to have a quick chat with us, how are you both?
L: Fine here thanks. I’m having a very hectic schedule nowadays. I have no single second to breathe.
J: Hi Brian, I’m fine thanks. Actually at this moment I’m not doing a lot of DJing or producing, since I’m getting a room in our house ready for our second boy which will be born in a couple of weeks!
Congratulations Jurgen and Mrs Fire!
Outside of music what are your interests, what do you like to do in your downtime?
L: Back in the old years I would have had a ton of hobbies and things outside music. Today I’d say I keep watching movies, I still play games a tiny bit (10 mins a week? LOL), and most of the time gets spent with the kids as they’re what matters most after all! Teaching my daughters a lot of things about life is the most enjoyable experience in life.
J: I’ve always been into movies, usually the new stuff but a nice classic from time to time is nice too. Besides that I love playing tennis and travelling to foreign countries.
You have both been connected with Bonzai for a long time now, what is it about Bonzai do you think has allowed that relationship to last so long?
L: We’ve been connected thanks to Bonzai because the people running the labels, the management, are themselves devoted to only one thing, Good Music, which results into a sense of self-commitment. Many people inside the Music industry think about two matters, themselves and money. While it’s very important not to forget yourself in life and while there’s no acceptable alternative to money for the outside world yet, self-commitment and passion bring people together. I think you’ve got your answer. This thin and fragile line, almost imperceptible in a world where you’re blinded by money and fame, makes a relationship last forever.
J: Indeed, I was a customer in the Bonzai recordstore since the end of ’92, when I started buying my first vinyls. I met up with Fly and all the other DJ’s-producers that were around at the time. That way I got my first contacts in the business and started working in the record store a few years later. Bonzai is really like a family, I think that’s why I’m still working with them as a DJ and a producer. They’re weren’t only my employer, but also personal friends (which they still are).
Let’s take a moment to talk about your most popular project together, Fire & Ice. How did you guys got together for F&I and how did the working set up go, were you both in studio together or was there some remote working?
L: Back in 96-97, NO Internet, NO Digital Audio, NO virtual effects and instruments. I was fortunate enough to have a computer with a soundcard that could import Samples into RAM. Each piece of hardware would cost you an arm, but that was amazing. I remember Jurgen and I sharing some mutual ideas about music at the 97 Love Parade in Berlin, and get in the studio in September of the same year. In 3 hours, Lost emotions was born. The die-hard fans know the rest of the story I guess.
J: Fire & Ice started up by accident. Me and Laurent both were on the Bonzai Truck at the 1997 Love Parade in Berlin. During the long journey on the bus from Antwerp to Berlin, we started talking about music. I already had a project called Energy Source and Laurent had started up several successful projects which I liked a lot. So one thing led to another and a few months later we were in his home studio producing “Lost Emotions”. Still one of our biggest tracks to date!
The latest single Airwave & DJ Fire – “Kabalash” (which is awesome by the way) will be out soon, how did you get working together on this particular track?
L: You know, everything has changed today, there’s much more importance brought to sound and tech stuff. As we had this very tribal idea working for both our styles, we had to put ideas together very quickly, which we did in April of last year. Then it took us weeks after that to figure out how to mix it down correctly until the very last details, but it paid off. By far one of my favourite tracks on Parallel Lines and currently getting a well deserved bunch of outstanding remixes now.
J: Laurent contacted me since we hadn’t produced a track together in some time. He was working on his latest album and asked me if I was interested in doing a collab, since he wanted to do some collabs with different DJ’s-producers. Of course I immediately said yes, and because it wasn’t Fire & Ice he wanted to do something special, we ended up doing a tribalish track with some oriental influences. Wait till you hear the remixes, they’re amazing too!
Clearly you guys have a great understanding of each other’s style, what do you think the other guy does so well and why?
L: Jurgen in a good shape is like a train that never stops when DJing. That and his very good memory make it very easy to work with him into a studio environment. He has the “feel” that so many DJ’s lack today.
J: I think we’ve always tried to meet each other in the middle. Laurent is a bit more underground-prog-oriented than I am, so I think there’s a good mix between commercial-dancefloor music and high quality progressive. Since I used to play in clubs every week, I was able to communicate with Laurent what really worked on the dance floors. We blended ideas and came up with some good stuff that did well on the floors all over the world and was also on a lot of compilations and on track lists of the top jocks.
Given that you do work very well together can we expect to see some more projects from you both as a duo?
L: Of course! When Things Go Well (sigh!!), and get made out of passion, why question these facts?
J: Who knows? If we both find the time to do some work in the studio, I’m sure we’ll be back as a duo!
Laurent, rumour has it that you are revamping another of your past projects, can you tell us anything about that?
L: Oh yeah? Which one are you talking about? LOL. If I had to resurrect another side-project besides Planisphere and Velvet Girl, that’d be a big surprise in terms of sounds. For example, I think the Green Martian project would get the same 140 BPM beat, but going a lot more hypnotic. Oh, yeah, I am still open for collabs with past collaborators, but time will tell if they can happen or not!
Jurgen, you have many other guises you have worked under, do you have any plans for more studio work and do you think you will consider bringing back some of your past projects?
J: I’ve had some guises in the past, let’s think, Energy Source, Power Station, E.N.E.R.G.Y., Captain Kirk, Fire & Ice, Freebase, Intimo (with Mike-Push) and of course DJ Fire. I guess that’s it. Not nearly as many as Laurent! I’ve already started on some new studio projects, together with different producers. I think some completely different styles as well. I’ve already been in the studio with Manu Riga (big up and coming producer in the Bonzai Team) and DJ Bountyhunter. Normally these projects should see a release this year. I might consider doing a final but huge Fire & Ice with Laurent or a new Intimo with Mike. But that’s only possible if they’re up for it…
Recently gigging has been something you guys are doing more of, do you prefer DJing or producing?
L: I prefer simply making and performing music. The way I see things evolve is that DJing will remain a matter for Music Lovers and respect to that, while True creation will happen much more often on the fly. The Technology is here with us, only a question of months. The superstar DJ days are completely gone, although you still have a few exceptions, meanwhile EDM Musicians still make it on every level.
J: I do prefer producing lately since I’m getting more offers for classic retroparties, while I normally prefer playing new music. So I play on parties, but lately only play the classics… Producing is something I’ve started doing solo lately, so I might come up with some more stuff later on.
Last year you guys were the opener for Bonzai’s 20 Year party, how was that for you both?
L: Such a kick. That’s when playing all this music from 15 – 20 years ago that you realize how disposable and forgettable the mainstream music is today, just as it was back then, but now including the mainstream electronic stuff.
J: It was a cool experience, we already played together on some other festivals the past years. It always works out, although we didn’t really put together a track list.
Overall what do you guys have in the pipeline for the future, are there anymore gigs planned either as individuals or as a team?
L: I for sure have a few plans into my head, although Jurgen doesn’t know about them yet LOL. I’m now throwing parties in Belgium, starting from zero again, what a blessing and a relief it is! Jurgen doesn’t know but he’s part of those plans .
J: As a production team, there are no concrete plans just yet, I might make a new DJ Fire with Laurent if we can find the time to get into the studio. As a DJ-team I don’t think we’ve been booked this year, I have some gigs coming up in Belgium. In June there’s the Sunrise Festival and in September I’ve also got a booking for a new festival in Belgium. And in November there’s the big annual Bonzai anniversary!
And finally for now, you have both worked with some brilliant artists over the years, is there anyone you would really like to get studio time with (apart from each other of course)?
L: I have a ton of good names on a list, and you know what? Half of those already have confirmed they’re in! You see. My next few months will see me collaborate with great guys, Manu Riga to begin with, but also surprising collabs will see the light of day in the next few days already. Keep an eye on my blog-facebook and you’ll see!
J: I’d love to work with guys like Eric Prydz or EDX, I like their productions a lot. Also Jeremy Olander is on fire lately.
Well it’s been a real pleasure to talk with you guys, thanks again for sitting with us, take care.
J: Thanks for the interview!
Long time friends and studio partners Airwave & DJ Fire aka Laurent Veronnez and Jurgen Leyers have come together once again to bring us what can only be described as a “pure trance experience” with their new single “Kabalash”. The guys have a long standing history as collaborators and brought us many magical moments as Fire & Ice, here they bring the true force of trance back from the ashes which is sure to get the floors bouncing. “Kabalash” is taken from Airwave’s superb double album “Parallel Lines”.
The original mix lives up to our expectations when we hear this duo together. The intro is sublime as a reverbed kick drum fills the spectrum with a classy little bongo roll taking us up the levels. The track builds beautifully with quality melodic sequences coming together and subtle teasers of what’s to come. The break is something to behold as we are taken on an ethnic themed journey with some fantastic Eastern flavours, and the track thunders back to a solid trance groove in style that will have any floor pumping. Something very special here and a track that is sure to be on a lot of playlists.
Producer Van Bellen aka Yoogie takes us on a trip down prog memory lane with an eclectic take on the original. Cool, steady, solid rhythms are evident through a tight drum arrangement. The bassline gives off a retro vibe and brings back a time when trance was so powerful in its simplicity. Stunning melodies are built with sweeping pads and beautiful soundscapes that fit the sound so perfectly while the break brings out the main hook in all its glory. Hypnotic, euphoric deep progressive grooves that will force you to listen again and again!
Next up for remix duties is Kintar aka Jonatan Tesei. Kintar is synonymous with progressive house-trance and his own particular blend of ethically charged mystic vibes. He is a hugely acclaimed artist and DJ worldwide and he is in great demand for remixes and gigs alike. He founded the label Sudam and runs a monthly radioshow on Frisky called Sudam World. Here we see Kintar deliver his distinct sound on the remix with a deep progressive, hypnotic groove. Very subtle intro with a little percussion as the layers begin to take shape, an ethic flute brings the melody with tight kicks fading in and exploding into a full on prog fest with a stunning bassline. The arrangement spits out lots of quality percs and FX as the melody eases through, an acid type loop sits well on top of this track and on the break an understated build up has a huge effect as we kick back to the main track, superb stuff.
Fresh off the back of his last release on BP “Flying Fortress” LoQuai aka Konstantin Alt is on the remix next with his Tribal Shout Remix. Classic kick intro soon progresses into a full on tribal experience, stunning tabla and bongo combinations sit on a very effective deep bassline. The ethnic theme still runs here and the melodies are very much a huge part of this. Tension builds with huge risers taking us through to an awesome break and then right back to a tribal groove.
Australian based producer and recent signing to BP, Audio Noir, returns with another prog stomper “Sidewinder”. His last release “Abgeklart” gained support from all over and was featured on the main pages of top download portals.
The title track intros with a subtle kick and percussion combi and a whole host of FX making their way into the sound. The track begins its progressive journey when the superb bassline thunders through transforming it into the prog monster it is. Smooth and simple synth work adds texture while on the break the track takes a twist with a tough, gritty, raw hook taking over the sound. Something different here and unique, which will draw attention from all quarters.
Next up is “Don’t Stop” Climatic Mix, a cool ride through progressive house vibes. The track kicks off with a springy melody and a tight drum arrangement. Hypnotic vocals add lots of character and the track builds and builds up to the break where big synths lie in wait and they are filtered through taking this sound to new heights. After the break the track gets very clubby with an upbeat vibe that will get those hands in the air!
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New concept compilation series titled Tech House Toolbox 1 comes with original tracks and remixes by Beckers, Redraft Memories, Mario Foksa, Ecco, Daniele Kama, Darouge, Mylan, Filth & Splendour, Charles Ramirez, Stan Garac, Valeria Croft, Joal, Sean McCaff, Wonji, Lights Electronika, Yanysh, Poison Pro, Luckoni, Diego Alvez, Baum, Peker, MGC, Fabinii, Element, Recess and Project KF.
Zolex aka Frank Struyf returns to Bonzai with “Assault” and is backed up with a slew of quality remixes. The vocals come courtesy of Nikkie aka Jade 4 U who had great success with many projects notably Praga Khan. Frank gained notoriety with his Zolex project back in the nineties under Bonzai Records and through his many residencies in Belgium’s top clubs. He went on to create his own Zolex Records with many successful releases. Frank is still very much in demand for his DJ skills and now also for his production skills, we are sure to see a lot more from this man.
The original mix intros with a very ethnic guitar theme before the very unique vocal comes through. Super solid drum arrangements build up a steady rhythm and the track takes on an almost Indie rock vibe which breaks down into a strong progressive groove. The kick and percussion section drive through with Nikkie’s vocal becoming much more powerful and raw. What a great comeback from Frank, sure to be a big hit with jocks everywhere.
Danish producer Soren Aalberg is first up to remix duties. Soren has seen releases on Bedrock Records, Mindtrip Music and more, his sounds have been played by the likes of Richie Hawtin and Len Faki. Here Soren takes the track to its basics with a minimal approach, much deeper vibe on the bass and chunky kicks and brilliantly crafted percussion. A sinister sounding string fades through while Nikkie’s vocal is used to perfection to round of a top class remix.
Soren also provides us with his Add Lips remix which takes on a clubby vibe, cool, crisp and sharp hats are prominent and the kicks add a nice thump. Deep basses are accompanied by an intense fading in string that builds the track up to a climax superbly, big big tune for the floors!
Guss Carver is up next with his remix. Guss has been producing since the nineties and seen many releases across a host of quality labels. He produces many different genres as he loves all dance music and he has his own label called Hypnocat. Guss’s remix entrees with a nice solid kick, hat, snare combi over a deep droning bassline. On the break a rising synth thunders into a stunning hook while the vocal is perfectly slotted in at all the right places, just brilliant.
Belgian DJ and production duo Jean Delaru & DJ Philip swing by with their Dubbel XX remix. Both these guys hold residencies at some of Belgiums top rated clubs. Jean has seen releases on a few labels while DJ Philip would be considered a veteran on the scene with releases as far back as 1997 on labels like XTC – Music For The Mind, Tripomatic and Black Hole Recordings. The remix intros with subtle percs which soon build up to a pumping groove. As the track progresses the sweeping bassline adds depth with the reverbed vocal adding extra weight. On the break a real cool melody pans out before we get right back to that powerful bassline and tough groove.
Heading deeper into prog with Nocturno and his remix. Superb bass’s intro this track with FX work helping to build up the sound to an all out progressive monster. The kick and bass combi forms most of the track and keeps the deep vibe flowing throughout. On the break a simple melody transforms the setting and the bassline morphs into a hypnotic groove with Nikkie’s vocal holding everything in place, seriously tough tune that will be on many lists for sure.
Finally we have a short version of the original mix which would be perfect for a radio slot.
Rise And Fall debut on Bonzai Progressive with the stunning “Imagination” which comes packed with an awesome remix from Manu Riga.
The original mix is a true prog house affair with all the right ingredients for dancefloors to come alight. Very strong bassline dominates the arrangement with a fantastic thud on the kicks. Huge sweeping pads make an appearance which keeps the ears trained. Real deep prog vibe oozes from this and the relentless groove will have this appear on a lot of playlists.
The highly impressive Manu Riga takes control at the desk for his Prog Remix. Adriaan is a very busy man as he is completing many remixes and lots of his own studio work which is to be announced very soon. Here, he utilises his many skills to deliver an outstanding remix. Strong, solid vibe from the start as the basses build up and combine beautifully with the kicks and percussions. Ethnic flavours come through, while on the break the synths deliver an awesome arp with a beautiful whispered vocal. The track kicks back with style after the break and we settle into this amazing ride, top stuff.
Shimmer is back after his outing with LoQuai and their “Flying Fortress” track, a track that gained a lot of attention on major download portals with support from around the world. Here we see a monster release “Give Me” with a host of top quality remixes from some great producers.
The original mix is smooth ride through progressive house creating a relaxed atmosphere. Steady rhythms from the drums and percs with some real nice FX work. Bright melodic short synths build the mood with a wonderful chunky bassline underneath. Very hypnotic groove that locks you in for the duration.
First up on the remix is Chantola with his Give Me Techno Remix. Henrik transforms this tune beautifully with some quality techno elements, particularly in the kicks. Grungy acid blips formulate a great sound which becomes much more prominent on the break. Very well worked mix with huge appeal for many jocks.
Mylan takes us on one of his tech tours with his remix. Classic intro with kicks, hats and percussions building layer by layer. Groovy bassline adds a little bounce here and the FX work fits well. This track is a solid builder with teasing synths coming through on the break, top stuff.
Accatone takes things deeper with his Black Keys Remix. Staying true to the bassline as it bounces along we are treated to a masterclass indeed. Minimal percussions with a crisp hat and clap combi. The big focus of course are those keys, a wonderful display of deep house play that will stand up well in those late night rooms.
Concealed Truth return to BP with Cold Sun Ray Remix. Powerful progressive house at its finest with brilliantly subtle synth melodies and great FX. Nice and steady rhythm with another superb bassline will keep the bootys shakin to this. On the break the melodies are ramped up a notch and the vocal sample is the perfect addition along with the pads, very nice indeed.