Jun 20, 2016
Celebrate 200 Episodes Of Darklight Sessions!
On the heels of the landmark 200th episode of Darklight Sessions we caught up with Fedde and his team to discuss what goes into Darklight Sessions each week and what it means to them to reach the landmark episode. Enjoy the episode as you get insight from both Fedde and his team!
Congratulations on the 200th episode! How does it feel to be reaching 200 episodes?
Fedde: To be honest it surprises me a bit. It just went so fast. It feels like only a few months ago that we started. It’s kind of crazy, but that’s probably a good thing.
Team: Thank you! It feels like 2016 is filled with milestones! We rang in the year with the biggest GRAND to date, then we had Fedde’s new album Something Real and now this anniversary :) Darklight Sessions actually developed from a previous show Fedde did for 1LIVE which was two hours and loads of fun to do, but it definitely was an amazing moment when we expanded on from there into the Darklight Sessions we know now. We work on the show really closely and as Fedde knows exactly what and how he wants things, by now it’s a well oiled machine and we’re ready for another 200!
When you started the show, were you envisioning it being something that would last for a long time?
Fedde: This show actually came from a show I did before on German Radio. That’s where the format slowly came together. When we started this radio show, we kept the main idea which is that we play a little bit of everything. We try to go from A to B in the show regarding everything that is house. We don’t do hip hop or trap or something along those lines, but anything house from 120 BPM to 130, from deep house to EDM or however you want to call it. I think that’s the main thing that we’ve kept in terms of format.
Do you feel like you’re able to showcase your broader musical tastes with the radio show as compared to what you play in your live sets?
Fedde: I think that’s the great thing about radio shows in general, you can broaden your spectrum a little bit more than during a live set. But still, it has to be close enough that it’s not a complete surprise to people. I think that’s the trick, to find the common ground where it still represents you, but also gives you a slightly broader spectrum.
What was it like when you first launched the show? How have things changed or stayed the same?
Team: A lot has changed!! When we first started working on the previous show it was a different world still, good DJs and producers were scarce and so were good records. The tracks were a lot longer in arrangement, which called for much more editing. So mainly good developments since then, making our jobs a lot easier ;) The excitement and accomplishment of putting up a great show for a bunch of listeners across the world definitely stayed the same though!
Fedde recording liners for the 200th episode
Can you discuss who is involved in the making of each episode and what it is like working with Fedde?
Team: Well a lot is actually just Fedde! He’s a guy who knows what he wants to hear so he is as involved as possible. He tours around with a mobile recording setup so he can do his voice IDs in whatever time zone he’s in. Working two labels definitely helps to keep the load of new music up to date, but it’s still an ongoing search. I think we go through about 50 GB per month of just MP3s and I wouldn’t want to know how many emails. A lot of the production we do in-house and Fedde mixes the shows himself. One of the most important factors for Fedde is that his mixes have a clear beginning and ending, growing in groove and energy in between, which makes the mixes a great tool to exercise to :)
How much effort to you put into making each episode?
Fedde: I think the most work is always getting the tracks. And not only me, but all of us. We get sent so many promos – between 300 and 1,000 each week. It’s a lot of music to sift through, but after a while, you get quick and only need a few seconds to figure out if it’s going to fit you.
Where does the name Darklight Sessions come from?
Fedde: It comes from the fact that we don’t necessarily do one style. That’s also the way I play. I still do a few festivals where I play like six hours and play really underground. And then again I’ll play more mainstream on the mainstage. Darklight represents the underground and above ground parts of the scene.
Are you doing anything special for the 200th episode?
Fedde: A little bit. There’s some unreleased stuff from my label and new music, but mostly I wanted this to just be a great solid show without too much craziness.
Team: The 200th episode had to be as fresh as possible, so a lot of new music is featured in this session! Fedde went back to the core of the format, mixing a set that works on radio and also on the floor! So no edits, just hard grooves :)
Are there any particular artists/ track in this episode you would like to highlight? If so, why?
Team: I’m a personal fan of the Tigerstripes remix :) The beginning reminds me of Fedde back in the day. Also Roulsen did a great (re)mix and master job on his Heart FX remix which was released on Flamingo Recordings. This guy sounds better with every release! Finally Raiden who remixed "Keep On Believing" did a great job on his mix and this is his first release ever. Nonetheless, all killer tracks in this session!
Raiden joining Fedde on stage at Ultra Korea to play his "Keep On Believing" Remix
Do you have any pieces of advice for an aspiring producer sending a promo?
Fedde: The main thing for me is always the idea. Even if the production is not completely there yet, that’s always something that you can figure out later. For instance, one of the tracks in this episode even went through several reviews to get it where we wanted it to be. I think that’s important, to help your artists. I mainly help with mix issues because I don’t want to push artists in a direction he or she doesn’t want to go. I think it’s important that the main idea still comes from the artists themselves.
Team: One big tip would be to only send in stuff that’s completely mixed and mastered. As there are so many tracks out there, a first selection criteria is definitely sound. Anything not up to standards will usually not make it into the show as a drop in sound quality is not acceptable but also not the easiest thing to cover up, and with a weekly show, nobody is looking to do extra work that’s not needed. Lastly, the more info you can cram into the title of your file the better (unreleased / bootleg / official remix / etc.). The amount of new music we go through is insane, so the more ease with which you have all info at hand when there is a track you really like in there, the better it is for sure.
In that sense, you give them 100% creative freedom, and use your experience to help with fine-tuning everything?
Fedde: Yeah. I run two labels, Darklight Recordings and Flamingo Recordings. That’s actually the reason why we started Flamingo Recordings. Back in the day, we were kind of fed up with all the A&R talk. “Change this high hat,” etc. – we thought that was sort of bullshit, and so that’s basically why we started our own label. We try to honor that and have the artists be free. We’re always looking for people who aren’t afraid to do something different and be a little weird or quirky compared to everything else that’s out there.
And then you use the radio show to showcase the new tracks coming from the labels?
Fedde: I always send them out to my colleagues, but usually the first play is in the radio show.
Team: Of course we play a lot of the tracks that are released onto Flamingo and Darklight Recordings. The approach for track selection for the shows is the same as the tracks for the labels. It’s never about only playing popular tracks or tracks from big name producers. It’s always about the music. This already starts in the selection process. We download a lot of tracks in one go, and then the shifting starts. Most of the time we keep about 100 tracks per three weeks in all styles in our first selection and when Fedde has his final listen, we are happy if we end up with about 15 good tracks...Do the math ;)
How do you keep up with the show when you’re traveling so much?
Fedde: I think getting the music is a constant process, no matter what. That’s true for the radio show as well as my live sets. I usually make two stacks with stuff that I want to play live and stuff that I need for the radio show. In my case, I usually use Dropbox, and I always do the layout of the whole radio show and still mix it myself, which is nice. That was the biggest problem, when I was traveling with a big mic or needed to find studio space. Nowadays, you can use your phone or your iPad. And I just bought a new mic which is amazing. Then I send it over to Holland where I have a guy who fixes all the IDs and makes the whole show clean, inserts my comments, and finishes the show.
Fedde recording liners for the 200th episode
How much overlap is there between the radio show and live set stacks of tracks?
Fedde: Actually, most of the stuff that I play in the show I will also play live. The extremely downtempo stuff, I’ll only play that when I’m playing longer sets. For instance, I’m playing the daybreak set at Tomorrowland, and for that you can start off techy and really build it up. I do play everything, but especially nowadays with festival sets that are usually an hour or hour and a half, you don’t have that much time to let the energy drop.
What does the rest of your year look like?
Fedde: It’s going to be a European summer, which means pretty much nonstop festivals: Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Ultra Europe, Tomorrowland, Romania, Spain, Sardinia, Germany, and of course The Netherlands and many more. The coming weekend we’re starting off with Slovenia, the UK and Denmark in just two days…I can’t wait, summer is always amazing. And after that it’s back to the States for Labor Day :)
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