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INTERVIEW: Alex Wright encounters Sam Laxton & Dennis Pedersen

Interview by Alex Wright
The very talented UK based DJ and producer Alex Wright, who has  releases on top labels like Always Alive, Levitate, Sundance, Veritas recordings and Elliptical Sun Energies with support from the biggest trance djs in the world including Armin van Buuren, every month selects and reviews his Top 5 tracks of each month for us and also from this month he has a second task to encounter electronic music producers for in depth interviews that are extremely interesting and very inspiring to read. Alex Wright has studied extensively music production and he holds BSc degree in Audio & Recording Technology from De Montfort University, Leicester (DMU). Do not miss his radio show  Trance Encounters that is streamed on 1mix radio every 1st Friday of every month with great success. 

Teaming up for the first time on the newly launched Emergent Skies label with their track 'Agadir', Sam Laxton and Dennis Pedersen are two hugely talented producers in their own right. As their individual styles complement each other very well, the result is a no-nonsense, clean-as-a-whistle uplifter with a powerful, driving feel and anthemic main melody. This month Alex Wright encounters Sam Laxton and Dennis Pedersen for an insight into the lives and work of the guys who made Agadir out August 8th on Emergent Skies. 

Interview was written and conducted by Alex Wright, Electronic Music Producer & 1mix radio host

Alex Wright: Hey guys! It's great to have the chance to talk to you ahead of the release of this amazing track and learn a bit more about yourselves as producers and what your careers entail, how have you been just lately?

Sam Laxton
Sam: Hey! Lately I have been travelling and squeezing in production on the road, writing a lot more critically than I normally do actually! I also had the amazing opportunity to play at the latest GOODGREEF event at home in Newcastle, playing a true Sam Laxton peak time set and seeing the reaction to new material was so encouraging! I think the perfectionist in me is really coming out this season and I can't wait to show what I am cooking in the studio!

Dennis: Hi man, good to be here. I'm doing very well, and I'm doing so much stuff, soundbanks, templates, and of course productions.

Alex Wright: When I first heard about you guys producing a track together I was very pleased, as I've heard both of your solo works and regarded them as top notch, well-produced uplifting. Who asked who to collaborate and what was it that made you want to work with each other?

Sam: Well I had been a fan of Dennis' work for quite some time and when I found out that he enjoyed my productions too, it was the perfect way to get to know each other. We both work in the same DAW so that made the process really easy also. Dennis mastered my remix of Gautam Khaw - Moonglade, and then we began our collab, deciding on the best melodies and sounds to use!

Dennis: First of all, I've been a huge fan of Sam's work before, so it was a pleasure when he approached me with previews etc... I don't think any one of us really asked to collaborate, we just kind of agreed that it was time since we both were huge fans of each other.

Alex Wright: 'Agadir' has an excellent clean mixdown and effortless drive, do you tend to do a lot of processing on your own sounds when you've chosen them from their source? If so do you keep libraries of your EQd and altered / layered versions of sounds or do you just select sounds from their original packs each time?

Sam: Generally I tend to keep a library of the 'best' sounds for particular themes, in order to speed up the production process, but a lot of EQ and layering is involved! I save custom reverb/delay patches also to speed up the process, which I can then alter on a track by track basis.

Dennis Pedersen
Dennis: The way Agadir was made was with heavy processing on a lot of things, as an example the kick was made over a long period of EQ / Compression and back and forth. Personally I keep the sounds like if I feel I made a really good kick sample, I will export it with processing and then maybe use it another time.

Alex Wright: I understand that both of you guys produce using the software program Reason, what made you want to work with this DAW and choose it over the other ones out on the market?

Sam: I have a long history with Propellerhead's Reason, starting in version 4 around 2007/2008. I was only 12 years old at the time so I had no idea about any other DAWs on the market, and with almost 10 years of experience in that sequencer, I can't let go haha! I love the ability to copy and paste sounds from one project to another, as this is a massive help in the production process. I have experience in Cubase, Logic and Ableton, but Reason will always have my heart!

Dennis: What made me choose Reason over FL Studio / Ableton was the fact that in Reason you had to "program" everything yourself. And I'm a programming kind of guy, I like to tweak those buttons to get a sweet sound.

Alex Wright: How long have you guys been producing and was trance music the first genre you worked with?

Sam: I began producing in 2007/2008 but my first serious released music was in the Dubstep/Electro House genre in 2012. The first genres I attempted to make include Happy Hardcore, Hardstyle and Drum & Bass actually, but I think it would be so embarrassing if anyone heard those haha!

Dennis: I've been producing since I was around 15 - 16 years old so that makes it about 12 years soon. Trance was definitely not my first style, I made a lot of Hard Dance / "hands up" stuff before I discovered Trance and the likes of Tiësto etc...

Alex Wright: Do you have any tips for up and coming producers who may have just started or have maybe been doing it for a year or two and want to progress as quickly as possible?

Sam: ALWAYS ask for advice! We all started somewhere, and the internet is full of tutorials, forums and of course it is easier than ever now to inbox people on Facebook for reviews and recommendations. I actually still send my work in progress to peers for review, as it can be a very constructive process. Dennis, A.R.D.I, James Cottle, Daniel Kandi, Riot Night and many more are like a second pair of ears for me whenever I need validation as a producer.

Dennis: Keep grinding, a friend of mine recently showed me the light by telling me that. I know it doesn't sound like much but I have been in a dark place for quite some times with my musical career and the only thing that came from it was the fact that I want to work harder now.

Alex Wright: Many producers including myself have been through times of frustration when wanting to improve sound-wise or from having writer's block? Have you ever experienced this yourselves and if so, how did you overcome these obstacles and become more efficient at production?

Sam: Whenever I suffer from writers block, I think it helps to listen to many styles of music, to take a break from writing music all together for a week can even work, as risky as it sounds! Sometimes working with a friend or talking to other producers can motivate you. Inspiration comes in the most unlikely of ways!

Dennis: One of my biggest issues is that I get punched out fairly quickly when I can't make the stuff that I want to. Say I want to make a melody and it just doesn't work today, I will sometimes put away music for a week. To come back and still not be able to do anything is the worst part about having to be creative. I have yet to find a solution to this but something that does help me sometimes is making something different. Say you are a Trance producer, make some Dubstep or Drum & Bass. Something really different can get you inspired.

Alex Wright: What are your biggest influences to your way of making music and the style that you are known for?

Sam: As a fan of music in general, I have had many influences from Morrissey (The Smiths) to Skrillex, to Above & Beyond and many more. However the biggest influences in my Uplifting Trance come from Push, Daniel Kandi and Rick J. Jordan (Scooter).

Dennis: My biggest influence is definitely emotions, emotions are what I make music for. If one person out there just enjoys my tracks with a tiny bit of goosebumps, I will be really happy.

Alex Wright: On the DJing front, have you guys had music experience of playing out? If so, tell us a bit about that.

Sam: I have been fortunate to play in my home city of Newcastle for events such as GOODGREEF and Elektriqa, also making my debut at RONG Manchester back in April this year! I aim to be as creative as possible with my sets, double dropping and playing mashups too! 

Dennis: Unfortunately I have not been DJing so far, it is on my to-do list and I hope to achieve this soon. I have just got myself a pair of CDJ1000s and a mixer, so it's time for me to learn how to do it.

Alex Wright: What are you up to in the future? Can you reveal any projects that you're currently working on or any future plans?

Sam: Along with our release of 'Agadir' I have my forthcoming Progressive release on Encanta - 'Chinami' - which combines a deeper house sound with Trance melodics! Other than that, more collaborations are happening along with more original material. I have also been working on a "Sam Laxton Spire Bank" for Production Master, which is due to be released very soon!

Dennis: My plans for the future are to see if I can branch out and start DJing on the weekends, and hopefully release some more beautiful tracks, including another with Sam hopefully!

Alex Wright: Awesome! Thank you to both of you guys for taking the time out to do this interview and I wish you good luck for the future, don't forget to buy a copy of Sam Laxton & Dennis Pedersen's track 'Agadir' which is released on Emergent Skies on Monday 8th August via all digital download stores.

Emergent Skies is brought to you by the team previously behind the rising Uplifting Trance label Elliptical Sun Energies, catering to fans of melodic Trance.

Kicking things off is a collaborative effort between Englishman Sam Laxton and fellow Danish Uplifting maestro Dennis Pedersen. 'Agadir' carries plenty of drive right from the word go with powerful drums and huge, epic synths that create a dramatic, towering atmosphere ready to destroy any Trance dance floor. The word 'anthemic' perfectly describes the result of their work and keeps us on the edge of our seats to see what the both of them have in store for the future as artists.

Showing their individual skills together in the best possible light, we present 'Agadir'.

Additional info:
● Connect with Sam Laxton:
● Connect with Emergent Skies:
Facebook: bit.ly/Skies-FB
SoundCloud: bit.ly/Emergent-SC
Instagram: bit.ly/Emergent-IG

Don't miss Alex's Wright Trance Encounters on 1mix radio every 1st Friday of the month from 20.00-21.00 for the very best in trance and progressive. If you wish Alex to feature your track in his show and reviews or to book him for your next trance event please email him: alex_dj[at]live[dot]co[dot]uk

▼ Connect with Alex Wright: