It’s been fashionable to hate trance almost since I started DJing 15 years ago. I’m a DJ of many genres of music, I make my living playing music for people. Although I can DJ a wedding just as well as a Drum and Bass party, I will always consider myself a Trance DJ first. I started on trance and I’ll always consider it my first love, and the fact that everyone else seems to hate it for no reason makes me love it all that much more.
A Breakdown of Trance (and a bad pun)
Trance is coming up on it’s 20th birthday. It’s been around since the mid 90’s and is easily identified by it’s tremendous emotional overtones and energetic buildups. Although it’s evolved somewhat over the years, spreading into subgenres like psy trance and uplifting trance, each very different from one another, trance still holds many of it’s core concepts true.. those being high energy crescendos and driving basslines accompanied my beautiful vocals and emotional synths.
A look at the top earning DJs over the years heavily favors the Trance genre… and maybe that’s what has sparked so much continual snobbery towards trance. Europe has always been a hub for the genre, and in the US, it’s managed to hold onto many of the superclubs in major cities. It’s never had to make a comeback, because it’s always been there.
So why all the hate?
Back when I lived in Philly, which is decidedly a House town, it was a tough job getting anyone to listen to me. “Oh you’re a trance DJ? Trance sucks.” I heard this from a lot of veteran DJs too… the kind of people that have been doing it long enough that they realize that there are different strokes for different strokes, and just because it’s not your taste doesn’t make it bad. It went beyond that though. Promoters and club owners simply didn’t want any trance in their clubs.
I never understood that. One of the best parts about electronic music is how I can go hear 40 DJ’s and none of them will play the same music. Or… I could go to a bunch of sports bars where the DJs play top 40 and hear the same tired shit ad nauseum.
We all dislike some genres of electronic music, but those of us with a mature attitude can still respect the talent the artists at the top of the genres we don’t like, even if we don’t necessarily “get” the music. For example, I’m not into dubstep, but I can respect Skrillex for the tremendous talent he has.
The worst offenders in my experience has been the House music DJs… because for the most part, DnB, Hardstyle and other minority subgenre DJs were facing their own discrimination. House has always had a firm grip on the USA, I get it, not sure where the hostility towards trance comes from. In terms of structure, it’s similar to house.
In fact, there was several people so committed to trying to tear down something that they didn’t like that they made a websites and tshirts emblazoned with the phrase “Destroy All Trance”. Nevermind the fact that the clubs that did play trance were some of the most revered and most talked about clubs in the city. There’s actually quite a few people out there that will go out of their way just to take a shot at trance whenever I post something about it on facebook.
What I Like About Trance
Trance is usually grouped into 5 year blocks. Every 5 years, there’s a distinct aural signature to much of the music produced at that time. I can hear a track from 2008 and know instinctively that it was produced around that time. Same thing with trance from 2003 and 1999 and even trance produced yesterday… or me, it’s ALL good. That means that every time I listen to trance, it’s the best time for trance.
Trance is also one of the few genres that routinely has very melancholy lyrics accompanied by high energy, uplifting music. Oceanlab’s “Sirens of the Sea” is a good example of this. Although it’s several years old, and is a little lower key than most standard trance, its a good demonstration of how flexible Trance is.
And lastly, trance just makes me feel good. The energy and layers of sound always know how to warm me up on the inside, which is something I wish more people would let themselves enjoy. Whenever I’m tired and ready to fall asleep, I can count on a good trance track to wake me up like it was 4 shots of espresso. When I’m in my car, a good trance mix makes the world fly by faster.
And lets not forget the goosebumps. A phenomenon that occurs for me whenever there’s a crescendo or bassline key change after a climax. It’s a physiological reaction, which occurs when dopamine floods your brain in a similar fashion to when we’re having sex or the way a drug addicts’ brain lights up in anticipation of getting a fix. Yeah, I guess you could say the music is our drug.
Trance Community— Keep the Family Growing!
Trance heads and Junglists are the most closely knit crowds in the electronic music community. I know I can go to a club with an Anjunabeats shirt on and walk away with a brand new friend who respects trance as I do. There are Trancefamily groups all over the country that make extra effort to keep the community together and support artists. There’s trance fans all over the globe making sure the community stays connected by setting up meetups and even arranging meet and greets with the bigger names. It’s good for the scene, it’s good for everyone. Get involved, you won’t regret it.
One of my favorite things to do is bring someone new into the trance family. I often do this with co-workers or some other people I strike up conversation with. I’ll send them over some entry level trance tracks usually with vocals (especially for the ladies) and based on their reactions to it, send them other tracks. Maybe if they respond really well to it, I’ll take them Castle Nightclub and let them experience for themselves firsthand how awesome the music and the people can be.
Here’s some helpful links to some trance communities
Trancefamily Chicago (facebook page for the local Chicago TranceFamily)
Chicago Trance Formation (meetup group)
Joel Quest is a lifelong lover of music, and has been a part of the underground scene since the mid 90’s. Joel holds onto a niche market in Chicago as a wedding DJ for upscale and unique couples. In addition to music, he is a avid private pilot, animal lover and trouble causer.