With his upcoming album One Hundred Ten WKO, John 00 Fleming has a forward-thinking, more experimental vision for trance. The U.K. DJ and producer has been active in the genre since the 1990s, and with this release, Fleming’s looking to push past the genre’s club boundaries.
Unlike contemporaries claiming “trance is dead” or veering off into a new sound, Fleming holds strong to the genre’s classic elements; rather than sticking with an older formula, however, the producer starts from here to go ahead. What’s particularly unique is his incorporation of organic instrumentation, including strings and piano from an Abbey Road studio session.
Outside of this follow-up to 2011’s Nine Lives, Fleming scored music for major network and film productions, with inclusion in soundtracks for Universal, Warner, and Sony features. 2013 will see the launch of J00F Music Group, which includes not only his J00F Records but also artists and DJs from Platipus, Mistiquemusic, Baroque, and Renaissance. The labels’ joint effort will create a unified platform for new trance and progressive sounds.
One Hundred Ten WKO comes out on J00F Recordings on March 4. Before that point, Crossfadr got a chance to interview the producer.
Tell me about the process behind creating One Hundred Ten WKO. What inspired you to create the album?
John 00 Fleming: I think the ethos behind artist albums has been lost. Singles are the showcase of what you’re all about, music for the fans, and the artist album was the place where artists really expressed themself and showed the true musician within. Today’s artist albums just seem to be created as marketing tools, throwing as many big room hits on there as possible, laden with radio friendly vocals. Not my album. I’m expressing myself as a musician, so you’ll hear the more experimental side of me.
You’ve also been doing soundtracks and scores. How does this style of composition differ from your standard tracks?
John 00 Fleming: I’ve always been into the deeper hypnotic side of trance, which can get very complex, especially the string arrangements. The construction is very similar to real orchestras, so it’s quite easy for me to switch between the two. I enjoy making a fusion between live organic sounds and electronic music.
How did your collaborations with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra come about?
John 00 Fleming: My music gets used all over TV and movies around the world, and producers seem to love what I do. A few requests came in from some very big producers asking for me to write something really special… so I did! Then they wanted it replayed by a real orchestra and recorded… but not just by any old orchestra or studio; the Queen’s very own Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and at the famed Abbey Road studio in London, the home of The Beatles.
What’s your perspective on trance music’s current sound?
John 00 Fleming: Some say it’s evolving and I would agree, but to a more mainstream sound. It seems to have been stuck here for a while now, but this will just generate more evolving cycles as people start to get tired of the commercial big room sounds. I can already see the deeper side of things getting popular, so things are looking up for me.
Other long-time trance producers have been drifting away from the genre in recent years or redefining their sounds. How do you define your sound?
John 00 Fleming: You’ll always get DJs that follow the most popular trends. They want to keep with what’s current and be playing on the main stage. The fusion between house and trance seems to be the cool thing at the moment and it’s working for many. For me, I just do my own thing. If at any point I feel a new trend gets close to what I’m doing, I’ll move away from it. I’m not a big fan of playing main room stages, and the big guns do a superb job there already. That’s all alien to me. Stick me in a dark sweaty club with a huge sound system and I’m happy.
EDM has taken off over the past two years. Where do you stand on the genre’s more mainstream sounds?
John 00 Fleming: The coined phrase “EDM” is what has taken off in the last two years. Dance music itself has always been huge. EDM is the mainstream scene, which some say is manufactured by the big corporate companies that are investing millions of dollars into it.
J00f Music Group launches in 2013. How did J00f Music Group get started?
John 00 Fleming: Some forum people are speculating that I’m starting a new label group to save trance. I’ve actually done this to save labels and producers. Many are disgruntled with how the scene has turned corporate and commercial and are ready to give up. By creating this family of likewise labels and producers under one roof, we’ve made a solid unit of support to keep everyone in love with music and motivated. It’s working already.
Aside from your album, what other releases should listeners expect from J00f in 2013?
John 00 Fleming: JOOF is going from strength to strength. We’ve had so many superb releases, like Airwave’s fantastic artist album, as well as the usual JOOF regulars: Oliver Prime, Cosmithex, Timewave, Insert name, just to name a few. We’ll see more from these guys in 2013 and more! We’re also planning to start a series of mix compilations, which Airwave will be kicking off.
What has been your role in working with Pioneer to develop DJ equipment?
John 00 Fleming: I’m a self-confessed gadget freak. I’m happy getting stuck into new ideas, brainwaves and general futurist concepts. We have frequent brainstorming meetings to figure out how to get these ideas into reality. Then it’s test, test, test, until everything works perfectly. I love working on new products.
What do you use for DJ and studio equipment?
John 00 Fleming: You don’t need to ask regarding DJing… Pioneer! Pioneer CDJ 2000 Nexus + DJM 900 mixer. In the studio, I use Logic and a sequencer on a Mac. Monitors are Dynaudio BMa6’s. My fav plugs are Logic’s very own – seriously great tools!