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BEST OF 2017 Interview with XiJaro & Pitch

Your Name: XiJaro & Pitch (Xander van Dommelen & Anthony Reyers)
Your location(country,city): Amstelveen, The Netherlands / Leuven, Belgium

Dimitri: Can you mention your biggest music career achievements in 2017?
XiJaro: We were very pleased to have multiple releases on Black Hole Recordings labels this year, including our track Reveries, which was signed by John O'Callaghan on his prestigious Subculture label. It's our most successful track to date and received huge support from people like Armin van Buuren (ASOT), RAM, Jorn van Deynhoven, Indecent Noise and of course JOC himself. We were also featured on two mix compilations this year with our tracks for Rielism (Rielism Four and Rielism presents Misja Helsloot), which was another big milestone for us.
Dimitri: Can you mention your biggest personal life achievements in 2017 that make you extremely proud?
Pitch: Few people in the trance scene know that I was born fully blind. Aside from my passion for music, I spend a lot of my time moving other blind and visually impaired people forward in their lives by enhancing their social and technology skills. This summer I taught and managed a PR campaign for an international event that did just that. Helping other people and gaining public attention for our cause was particularly fulfilling for me.
1) Best Track from other artists:
It's very hard to narrow this down as we like a wide variety of music.
If we could pick 3:

- The new Pryda, Stay With Me, is a simply brilliant fusion of prog tech with classic trance elements.

- Saving Light from Gareth Emery & Standerwick delivers an incredibly uplifting trance melody and wonderful vocals from HALIENE.

- For something 138: FSOE ticked all the boxes when they released A Billion Stars Above. Gorgeous vocals from Stine Grove, mixed with the orchestral elements and powerful trance synths from RAM and Arctic Moon. Just pure bliss!

2) Your top 3 2017 personal productions
1. XiJaro & Pitch - Reveries [Subculture]

2. XiJaro & Pitch feat. Artifi - Maple Valley [Rielism]

3. Maratone & XiJaro & Pitch - Seize The Day [Digital Euphoria Recordings]

3) Best Artist (Dj & producer):
Darren Porter. His fantastic productions continue to amaze us (for example: The Calling with RAM) and he knows how to craft excellent sets behind the decks (just listen to his set at Trancegression Events Dresden 04-11-2017).

4) Best Remix from other artist:
Pitch:  Armin van Buuren – This Is A Test (Alex Di Stefano Remix), an absolutely mind blowing remix with an insane build and drop that is reminiscent of the old tech trance times.

5) Best Remix that you have produced?
We were very honored to have a chance to remix the amazing Ascension by our friend Type 41.

6) Best Remixer:
Pitch: Alex di Stefano
Every time this guy puts his hands on a track, he transforms into something entirely different, bringing the main theme to a whole new level and inducing it with his signature sound that combines the best of both worlds of trance and techno.

7) Best New Talent (Dj or producer):
With his newest uplifting stormer released  on Future Sound Of Egypt and excellent DJ sets, it might not take long before we will see this guy gracing the worlds biggest stages.

8) Best Electronic Music Album:
Pitch: Ferry Corsten – Blueprint
Besides the fact that the disk is filled with top tunes, what really did it for me was the narration that runs through the album. Being blind, audio books have always been my primary form of reading , and hearing one inside a trance album was truly an amazing experience.

9) Best Electronic Music Compilation:
Sied van Riel – Rielism Four
We honestly didn’t believe a cd box could contain so many high quality exclusive tunes until we listened to this one. This compilation is the beautifully resounding proof that the trance scene bursts with exciting new talented producers.

10) Best artwork/cover of an Album or Compilation:
XiJaro: The cover for Solarstone's .---- has a really clever, mysterious and unique design.
Pitch:  … they all look the same to me... (laughs)

11) Best Lyrics in an Electronic Music track (it can be your production or from other artists)
Ana Criado & Alan Morris - Border Line
Not only the lyrics, but rather their combination with the melody, the production and the voice make this song simply breath taking.

12) Best Vocalist/Singer featured on Electronic Music track:
Pitch: Emma Hewitt. No matter if she puts on a strong alt or lets go of all her sadness in a sensitive soprano,  the emotion in her voice is so vivid that it sometimes sends chills down my spine.

13) Best Electronic Music Label:
It’s not easy to pick one best label, but the one we play the most tracks from in our sets is undoubtedly Future Sound of Egypt. Almost every release is a true uplifting banger.

14) Best Electronic Music Video:
XiJaro: Technically this came out at the end of last year but I first saw it this year. I found the music video for "Sigma feat. Birdy - Find Me" really beautiful.

15) Best Online Social media for communication with your fans:
Facebook remains our favorite for now. Everyone has it  and the possibilities for communication are many.

16) Best Twitter or Facebook message or Instagram message you received from a fan or friend or you have read on someone else’s account:
Best message has to be this email in reaction to our demo of Reveries:

"guys... i love this !!
would you like it on subculture, if so please dont send it to anybody

Just immensely gratifying to get such a compliment from a legend you've been looking up to for many years and it instantly makes all the hard work so worth it. Can't thank JOC enough!

17) Best music composition software:
XiJaro: We made a switch this year from Ableton Live to Cubase. Unfortunately there is no perfect DAW that has all the features we would like in one place but we feel Cubase has a very strong offering that made us want to give it a try. No regrets so far and Live still has it's applications in our work as well.

18) Best Club Event or Open Air Festival:
We had a great time this year at the Rielism 2nd Anniversary party at Panama Amsterdam. Awesome sets from Arnej, Sied van Riel b2b Leon Bolier and ReOrder!

19) Best personal Dj Gig:
Pitch:  My best gig of the year was one I initially did not look forward too. I agreed to play on a fund raising party for the blindness-related cause that I talked about earlier. It was clear the audience would not be familiar with trance, but when I dropped our tune  Maple Valley everyone went absolutely nuts. I played trance for the rest of the night  and had the time of my life feeling all these people opening up to the world of melodic dance music.

20) Best Dj set of the year from other fellow Dj:
Pitch: Menno De Jong – Menno  solo sets. What I like about Menno is that he is primarily a DJ, and a good one too. As no other, he takes you on a journey  from the deepest Deep House to the most banging Tech Trance. And as no other, he knows what to play to keep the crowd moving.

21) Best country that you have played in 2017 and where did you met the best festival/event crowd:
Pitch: The intimate atmosphere at Trance Family Belgium with 200 people all going completely nuts together remains unmatched.

22) Best Radio show or Artist Vlog?:
Pitch: Corsten's Countdown. Not only does this show play music inspired by a wide range of melodic dance styles but all played tracks are also vocally announced, which is a huge plus if you are blind :p

23) Best Radio station:
Afterhours.FM. It continues to have a huge selection of trance radio shows and we feel grateful be part of it for so many years already. Can't wait for EOYC this year!

24) Best Online Record shop that you purchase your music:
XiJaro: It's a tie between Beatport and iTunes for me. Obviously Beatport has a bigger and more exclusive collection of the latest dance music but a lot of it can also be found on iTunes. The one click to buy, download and add music to your library is very convenient with iTunes. If only iTunes allowed you to search for labels and sub genres, it would make new music easier to find.

25) Best music related website that you visit frequently:
XiJaro: Sonic Academy is a truly fantastic resource for music production tutorials, tips and interviews. They have something for nearly any genre and the tutorials for trance by James Dymond, Bjorn Akesson and Protoculture were particularly inspiring for me.

26) Best Smart phone or smart phone application:
Pitch: Seeing AI
This is a free app that is able to describe the context of and recognize the text in pictures as you take them. It is a huge live saver when someone with normal sight sends you a pic or you want to read the labels on products you bought.

27) Best Dj equipment (software or hardware):
XiJaro: We use Ableton Live for pretty much all our radio sets and also for all the mashups we create.
Pitch: For DJ Sets, we also use Djay Pro, which is the only DJ software that made the effort of making it usable for people who use a computer without sight.

28) Best new sound or sample that has been used in Electronic Music this year perhaps introduced first by you?
XiJaro: I love how Eric Prydz took three prominent samples in his new Pryda track Stay with Me from just 20 seconds of film (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword).

29) Best tip that you learnt this year for your Djing techniques or music composition:
XiJaro: As a music producer I've struggled numerous times with my own creativity. Questions like: Does this sound too much like something else? Hasn't this already been done thousands of times before? Will I ever find a sound of my own? Daniel James, on one of his twitch livestreams (twitch.tv/hybridtwo) , said: "When you compose music, a lot of what you compose is actually coming from your subconscious. Humans are incapable of original thought, we can only create things from a pallet of information that we have stored in our subconscious. You can't create something without having something to base it off. It's very important as creatives, to expose yourself to as much art, media, music, films, games as possible." Basically the bigger and wider your pallet of information and experiences is the more you can draw from when creating something of your own and the better you will be as a creative. So I try to draw inspiration from everywhere rather than just listen to some music that is already very close to what I would like to make.

30) Best piece of advice you got in relation to your career in 2017:
XiJaro: Think things through before you express your opinion on something. An emotional response is not always the best way to make your message come across.

31) Best hobby or activity that you spent a lot of time in 2017:
XiJaro: Music is life. I wouldn't know what to do if I wasn't producing music. I hope to spend only more time on it next year. That said there is a huge amount of great tv series these days that I'm trying to work my way through. There is simply way too much for the amount of time I can give it though.

32) Best holiday destination for 2017 either to relax or to perform in a club or festival:
Pitch: Italy. Everything is nice there, the food, the people , the weather and the parties.

33) Best Electronic Music magazines in printed form not online:
XiJaro: Future Music and Sound on Sound have taught me a lot about music production.

34) Best Movie of the year that may inspire you to compose a track:
XiJaro: Loved seeing It. Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise and all the young actors were amazing! Also really enjoyed Bladerunner: 2049. An awe-inspiring audio/visual masterpiece. The score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch is a great modern continuation of the iconic original by Vangelis.

35) Best online/PC/video game of the year that you have played this year?
XiJaro: Overwatch is a big favorite here and the go-to-game when a break from music production is needed. Sure, it came out last year but it continues to be updated with exciting heroes, maps and of course skins, love those skins!

36) Best soundtrack for video game of the year:
XiJaro: Sadly, I have not played enough videogames from this year to be able to judge this. Can I just say that Netflix's Stranger Things 2 soundtrack is also amazing!

37) Best electronic music related joke you heard this year and make you still laugh:
XiJaro: Trance is dead. Great joke, people can't seem to get enough of this one.

38) The saddest electronic music news you heard this year and still makes u cry:
Losing the pioneer and legend Robert Miles was a big one this year.

Dimitri: Finally, please tell our readers your plans with your future releases, tracks, albums, collaborations, Dj gigs.
Xijaro & Pitch: On December 18th our new collaboration with Type 41, Chase Your Dreams, will be released on Rielism. Really looking forward to that! Around the same we will also have finished our new 2 hour yearmix. We have been doing these big megamixes for the AH.FM End Of Year Countdown events for a long time now and we are excited to continue this tradition once more. Expect 100+ of the best tunes from this year, ranging from deep house to psy trance, from bigroom to uplifting. Hit us up on of our social pages if you want to request your favorite tracks to be included. 2018 is looking bright with a ton of new projects that we are currently working on. For example, right now we are collaborating with Maratone on a vocal track (feat. Aylin Aloski) for his new album, which is gonna be great! We also just finished a collab with Madwave that we are really very excited for. We can't wait for the world to hear these and many more.
Thanks to Sied van Riel @ Realism for organising this interview

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