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INTERVIEW: with Nick Bracegirdle AKA Chicane about his latest album and single on Armada Music

In any other language apart from Chicane-speak, Nick Bracegirdle is Chicane. He is from Chalfont St. Giles and likes to snowboard and drive insanely fast – within the constraints of the law, of course! For a man addicted to some hair raising pursuits, it’s a more chilled side of his character that has brought him notoriety; he has written and produced some of the most enduring and haunting trance tunes of the last decade; Offshore, Halcyon, Don’t Give Up, Stoned in Love, Saltwater, Middledistancerunner. The list could go on for quite a while, but resting on his laurels is not a Nick thing. Pushing the concept of Chicane can sometimes feel to his fans, a strange thing to do, (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right!) but for Nick this is an obsession. “Slowly, I learned that I was Chicane, and what I brought to any song, or project, was to put my coat, if you like, over its shoulders”. The idea of repetition does not sit easily with Nick. When ‘Don’t Give Up’ first appeared, I remember seeing the band at a London show. There was a stonewall refusal to dance, six months later the track was a Chicane anthem. People have anchored life memories to Chicane songs. And long may that tradition continue.
Chicane released his brand new fantastic album "Thousand Mile Stare" and surprised the lovers of quality dance music with unexpected collaborations and timeless tracks that can be played again and again, year after year, and never go out of fashion. The latest single from the safe hands of Chicane is an incredible collaboration with Ferry Corsten for the track that brings together the summery calming melodies of Nick with the thunderous rocking beats of the Dutch trance master. ‘One Thousand Suns’ is the result of a magnificent collaboration that Nick seems to enjoy a lot. ‘One Thousand Suns’ is shaped to become one of the big summer anthems, so it is a big honour for us that Nick decided to respond positively to our request, and he replied to our questions in such a wonderful way. Press play on your CD player or Spotify account, and while you listen to ‘Thousand Mile Stare, and ‘One Million Suns’, read this fantastic interview. I’m sure that you will perceive the album in a totally different way.
Interview was written and conducted by Dimitri Kechagias, Radio/DJ/Music Journalist
Dimitri: First of all I would like to ask you what your feelings are when upcoming young artists reference your music as the biggest influence in their music compositions.

Nick: Has to said that it’s a great compliment, but is immediately followed by feelings of age and shock at how time has flown..

Dimitri:  Can you list for us the Top 5 DJ’s or EDM producers or other artists that have the major influence on your productions, and offer us a short comment about each of them?

Nick: To be honest, I tend not to draw inspiration from the dance scene, I get them from elsewhere, movie soundtracks and producers like Brian Eno and Trevor Horn. I have a lot of time for producers like myself, BT, Eric Prydz, but as I said, they are not really an influence upon me. Its artists such as Vangelis that inspired me many years back
Dimitri: Is it possible to recall how, and under which circumstances, your first big smash Offshore was signed, and if you expected the big success this evergreen EDM classic had? Can you reveal if the track refers to an existing location, or if it is about an imaginary place?

Nick: Offshore was written about the end of summer, kind of where we are right now. It is a bittersweet piece attempting to capture the essence of summer, but also the sadness that it’s over. As a child I had very long summer holidays and was always the boy left on the beach after everyone had left. It is inspired by many true locations and experiences. I hoped it was going to be a success as it made me feel a certain way, and people could make an emotional connection to the track. This is always key to a records success.

Dimitri: Your trance classics ‘Saltwater’ with Maire Brennan of Clannad and ‘Don’t Give Up’ with the rock star Bryan Adams on vocals for first time on EDM track, have helped you to reach the highest positions of the UK Top 40 chart. Can you recall for us how these two collaborations came about, and if was a challenge for you to work with artists from such different and contrasting musical backgrounds? From those two, can you choose your favourite and why?

Nick: Initially Bryan had contacted me about doing a remix for him of one of his tracks; we became friendly and asked him to sing on DGU.
The Saltwater track came about after I was demoing the track using a sample of the Clannad song, but was important to re-record it all again and add new melodies and other parts.

I didn’t want to come across as someone using someone else's material, and reaping the rewards. It was very important to work closely with Maire.
I can’t choose between the tracks at all..  Oh yeah, I do dislike the term EDM by the way, its very American and a little dumb. For some idiotic reason people have decided to invent a silly new label for something that has been around for two decades.  Hmm?

Dimitri: In 2003 you became the victim of internet bootlegging, and as a result you lost two years work on an album, that I guess was never released. Would you like to tell us how you felt about that situation, and please connect it with today’s online piracy, and the growing tendency of younger generation to get their music for free from illegal sites, and actually being proud of it.
Nick: I find it deeply concerning on one level, and useful on another. A track can spread far and wide when it is hot and given away free.
You find it travels to places it never would have done if paid for traditionally. But to have a generation of kids believing it is something that should be made free to the world is rather worrying to say the least. Maybe I should wait for them to spend a lifetime in their bedrooms perfecting a skill only for me at the end to steal it from them? It’s pretty awful really.
I guess it’s because the theft is so remote via computers it does not seem real or a true crime? I’m fairly sure these offenders do not go down to their local shops and steal items directly? Its case of how you perceive your actions.  
Dimitri: This year is very important for you as you have released the awesome album ‘Thousand Mile Stare’. Would you like to tell us how long it took you to complete it, and what are you going to remember the most from the recording process?
Nick: It’s been one hell of a year so far; to be honest, I am rather tired and have been on the road endlessly too. I think the recording process took 1 year 3 months; the most fun was had with my crazy friends from Iceland, ‘Vigri’. We did some very organic and emotive music together, and hope to again in the future.   
Dimitri: Is it possible to describe your studio and pick up your favourite software and hardware which you enjoy working with the most? To what extent do you also use analogue instruments?
Nick: The studio has gone through many changes, and now its really very simple. Gone is the huge desk and room full of analogue keyboards, 99% of the work is now done within the computer.
They become so good now at modelling retro equipment; the argument for using the real thing is all but gone. I tend to use Logic pro and masses of plug-ins of synths. It’s a very simple and effective set up, one that saves time and gives me more space to use my mind creatively, rather than beating an old keyboard with a stick for going out of tune for the 20th time. 
Dimitri: The album stays faithful to the classic Chicane sound with new elements and sounds to keep it fresh and updated, but you did something pretty different when you decided to include some rap vocals in ‘Going Deep’. How did the idea come about to apply those vocals, rather than the ethereal female ones?  
Nick: It’s a case of moving forward and trying something new. It would alienate some fans, but also bring new fans to the project too. It’s super important to be trying something new or collaborating with somebody a little unusual, this is where the magic happens.
  Dimitri: It would be great to take on a small tour in your album and give us a short comment about each track. This can include your feelings, emotions about it, and the collaborations with other artists. Nick:
1. Chicane & Vigri - Hljop (Original Mix) (05:12)   My favourite from the album, emotive, analogue and heartfelt.
 2. Chicane - The Nothing Song (Original Mix) (06:16) Love Sigur Ros, tried to put a whole new spin on this beautiful track
 3. Chicane - Windbreaks (Original Mix) (05:12) Typical chicane, you tell it’s me from a mile off
 4. Chicane - Thousand Mile Stare (Original Mix) (07:01) Again a very me production, slightly melancholy epic tune.
5. Chicane feat. Kate Walsh - Playing Fields (Original Mix) (05:22)  Love this too, in some ways a lot like No ordinary morning, but also not at all..  
6. Chicane & Vigri - Solaruppras (Original Mix) (04:46) Again analogue and epic stuff from me and the Icelandic’s
   7. Chicane - Going Deep (Moogmonkey Rework Mix) (07:35) Big powerful rework of the rap track
8. Chicane - Goldfish (Original Mix) (03:41) Epic widescreen chicane drifter
 9. Chicane - Flotsum & Jetsum (Original Mix) (06:38) Love this collab I did with Nick Muir
 10. Chicane - Super Mouflon (Original Mix) (05:00)   Silly name, great track
11. Chicane - Going Deep (Original Mix) (07:12) You should hear this track live, its amazing, so is Aggi Dukes
12. Chicane - Fin des Jours (Original Mix) (02:52) Written for my Gran, who left us last year.
Dimitri: Did you work on it full-time and under a heavy schedule and strict deadline to meet, or were you recording tracks whenever you had an inspiration for it?
Nick: We did try to get it finished asap, but you just cant rush these things, fortunately it came quick, It has taken me 2 years plus to finish an album before.
Dimitri: Your latest single is your collaboration with the Dutch EDM DJ and producer Ferry Corsten for the track ‘One Thousand Suns’. Is it possible to let us know how you met with Ferry, and why you took the decision to work together on this track?
Nick: Again I wanted to work with someone new, I wanted to create a big summer tune. Ferry has been going as long as I, and we have similar ideals, so the fit was slick. The track has been going really well and has received a lot of play
Dimitri: Did you actually met up with him in the studio to produce it or was the whole production process done long distance with the exchange of sound files?
Nick: It was done over a period of 3-4 weeks online, our schedules simply didn't give enough time to be in the same place as one another for long enough, so we would send 'stems' back and forth to each other until we got the writing done. Then we mixed it and lived with it for a bit, and then it was done. Really quick to be honest.  
Dimitri: Is it easy to distinguish on ‘One Thousand Suns’, the elements that each artist actually brought to the production?  Which elements are easily identifiable with Chicane, and which ones with Ferry?
Nick: Well Suns is actually a development of a piece I had already on my album, we simply had a starting point and did some new writing. I tend to do this; the end of one track becomes the start of another, a bit like a flowing orchestral piece. The concept for the track was that I brought the sort of epic beauty and chord movements, and Ferry delivered the dance floor thunder and dirt, and we meet somewhere in the middle. I do think you can really hear this in the tune.
Dimitri: Are there any other producers that you would like to co-operate with in the near future? Do you enjoy collaborating with other artists? Do you believe that the result of collaborations is the best possible outcome for the listener, or is the result of many compromises in the studio?
Nick: Lots of people I would still to work with, producers such as Brian Eno and Trevor Horn feature high on my list. Collaboration is very healthy, it forces you into places you just wouldn't normally visit. Sometimes there has to be compromises, but it is the very nature of these that a collab exists in.
Dimitri: ‘One Thousand Suns’ includes an impressive remix package with Disco Citizens, Soundprank and the upcoming Danny Howard. Can you choose your favourite, and tell us if you consider remixes as vital for the success of a particular single?  
Nick: No real favourite as each mix is for a different angle, Danny has been great and has been championing the tune, not because he has a mix but because he believes it to be one of the songs of the summer, and it looks like he may just be right!!
Dimitri: Are you going to embark on a tour any time soon to support the release of your album? Are there any dates confirmed that we can announce to our readers?
Nick: Well, I am always out on tour, it never really stops, the weekends out on the road and the week days in the studio. Although we will be probably next year doing some more heavyweight touring of the US and Asia.
Dimitri: From your many Live Chicane performances please choose the most unforgettable one and explain why you consider it as the best?
Nick: Man, that’s another choice that’s impossible, they are all so different, no two the same. I have played some shows in Manila that we will never ever forget, crazy ones, come home broken type shows. There have a few terrible ones in there too where equipment has gone all mentalist on me. I can remember one in particular where some numpty plugged a fridge into the same power supply as the sound, and every time it came on everything crashed, that was interesting.  
Dimitri: Do you use Facebook and Twitter? Do you enjoy revealing information on your social networks? What is your opinion about artists that give a lot out about their even personal life, without any sense of privacy?
 Nick: I have become quite a twat of late and tweet very regularly, but interesting stuff, not what I just had for breakfast. I still tend to be quite private within reason. The collaboration with Ferry started with a tweet, so I find it very useful at times
Dimitri: You moved your label Modena to Armada music. Would you like to tell us your opinion about this record company, and why you decided to work so closely with them?
    Nick: I have been working with Armada and Armin for sometime now, and we felt it was time to really push what was possible working together. Armada are a very switched on bunch of people, who understand where music is today, and how to get the most out of it.  
Dimitri: Please give us as last answer, your advice for all those who would love to follow your path and get involved in the EDM scene?
Nick: Expect to work very hard and come again and again with your very best material, until things start to happen for you. The commitment level is severe to compete with what is out there, you simply have to love what you are doing or you wont make it. Sounds a little harsh, but its the reality of it. The X factor and similar shows are TV shows and just that, you can't shortcut the process of getting somewhere, as its a business of attrition and gaining knowledge as a producer. I started producing  at something like the age of 12, the tunes were shite, but by the time I got to 25 I had gleaned a lot of know-how, and dance floor savvy to make good tracks. So good luck to you all!
Many thanks to Nick for his fantastic answers. It is such a joy to read them.
Many thanks to Gesine Pertenbreiter at Armada Music offices for organising things
Many thanks to Tjerk at Armada Music offices for his support too
Many thanks to Paul Aldridge at 1mix radio for proofing the final version
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