GUEST INTERVIEW BY | Emily Tan

COSMIC GATE are German trance DJs/producers, NIC and BOSSI. While on the road playing more than 35 sold-out dates on their latest North American tour in support of their fifth studio album, WAKE YOUR MIND (Black Hole), the duo spoke with DJ Times journalist and BPM-TV television host, EMILY TAN. Here is a snapshot of life on-the-road…

Tan: We’ve been tracking the fan feedback following your shows on the WAKE YOUR MIND tour – both online and by talking to readers in local markets across North America – and judging by the audience reaction, your crowds seem to go consistently “mental” from the get-go! Do you agree, and to what do you attribute that?

Cosmic Gate: We only can totally agree to this! The Cielo show [in New York City] was a perfect example how fortunately most of our U.S. shows go! The atmosphere was simply fantastic, the crowd followed us through the night, and if we played brand-new or known stuff, it was simply absolutely mental as you say! Sure, it has a reason that we play nearly 70 shows this year in the U.S. We simply love to come and play for you guys.

Tan: How much are you varying the actual set list on this tour? Are you varying it in terms of just the order of tracks played — while trying to play mostly the same tracks each night so fans get a consistent tour experience – or are you altering your set list dramatically from one night to the next?

Cosmic Gate: When we play a two-hour set on tour, we sure play a lot of tracks because we want to play them and our fans expect them, as well. We play tracks from the new album, Wake Your Mind, and some of our classic tracks from the last 12 years of Cosmic Gate. This we like to fill up with new stuff from other producers. We like to give it a cool variety from one gig to the other.

Tan: Will you ever throw any dubstep into your live sets?

Cosmic Gate: We are not the biggest dubstep fans in general to be honest, but we have heard some really cool tunes also. For this reason we would not say, “Never ever there will be any song with dubstep influence in our set at all,” but a pure full-on dubstep track we could not imagine in our set, to be honest.

Tan: In all my years of going to Cielo in New York, I have never seen the crowd behave so desperately ecstatic as when you played in October. Do you feel that trance as an EDM genre is still by far the biggest/strongest in terms of draw?

Cosmic Gate: We think that EDM in general is the most attractive and interesting music for young people and those who are young-at-heart, for sure! The feelings transported through this music, in our eyes, is so fantastic. The “we are one” feeling that dancers have in such a night is far beyond what you feel when other music is played, and this makes a big part of the success of EDM for us.

Tan: It amazes me that you can go onstage and put in a grueling performance after not sleeping (due to delayed flights, jet lag, other stressors) and after eating dinner. What secret food do you always eat/drink at dinner before a gig? What food do you always avoid before a gig?

Cosmic Gate: [laughs] We wish it would be like that and we had a secret food, drink or whatever that keeps us going! Actually, we prefer not to eat too heavy right before the gig, as we do not like that “full-full” feeling onstage a huge steak or pizza would cause. We prefer Asian food, especially sushi, but also better at least like four hours before stage time. In general you are right; we and our colleagues often have to play with a huge lack of sleep, being really tired is not unusual. But for us, somehow entering a club, the adrenalin kicks-in and gives us a lot of energy. We simply love our jobs and we both squeeze the last bit of juice out of our bodies during our performances. We do not like DJs just to be standing still. We like the energy to be flowing back and forth with the crowd, and a mental crowd like at Cielo for example is really feeding our energy levels, so all the tiredness is gone in a second!

Tan: Vinyl sales are experiencing a surge at retail in the U.S., although vinyl only accounts for less than 2% of total recorded-music sales. (Vinyl sales — as opposed to CD or digital downloads — enjoyed a more than 30% increase in the last quarter.) Do you see yourselves breaking out the vinyl anytime soon? Surely there’s satisfaction in playing an edit you own on vinyl which is extremely rare or out-of-print, yet one which earns an enormous crowd reaction.

Cosmic Gate: Most of the classics are played in new reworks, like the Tiësto Remix / W&W & Jonas Stenberg Remix of Delerium’s “Silence” that you’ve seen us play on tour a lot. Or our own new mix of “The Theme,” simply because the beats are more up-to-date or the sound quality is better. The style of the old classics simply is often impossible to adopt in a 2011 set, and surely for this reason, more of these timeless classics will get a facelift sooner or later.

Tan: In the days before social media, before smart phones, and before the widespread scourge of illegal file-sharing, a DJ’s role was partly to “educate the crowd,” musically. How important is that to you as performing artists today? Do you still feel a responsibility to educate the crowd when everything is available all the time online?

Cosmic Gate: Yes, to educate a crowd is always important, even as it is harder to play that hidden kind of track these days. We see educate more in the meaning of not playing tracks or styles the crowd definitely knows, to just introduce them to new music, try out new tracks. If we club DJs don’t do this, who else should set the standards, bring in new influences and so on? So it is important for sure. It always will be important to push music to new levels.

Tan: I feel – and many of your global DJ/producer brethren have voiced this exact same sentiment – a great sense of hope and enthusiasm for the state of EDM in the U.S. right now. Many DJs are skipping certain European shows in favor of touring here in the States, not only in markets like Vegas where the fees are astronomical, but also in secondary and tertiary markets where the money is less but the crowds are perhaps more enthusiastic. What is your take on the health of the EDM/nightlife scene in North America at the moment? Do you feel hopeful?

Cosmic Gate: We started touring the U.S. already in 2000, so we have followed the development pretty well. We have to agree that the U.S. market during the last two or three years has been exploding. We also agree that the energy level the kids have in so-called secondary or tertiary markets is simply off-the-hook, so indeed a lot of colleagues including us are coming to the U.S. a lot, and still we are only at the beginning! A lot of U.S. media starts to find out about EDM only now, so let’s hope all will not blow up too fast. We hope that the parties stay well organized and that it will not be all about the money. First and foremost it should be about good electronic music!

Tan: What are your plans for WMC 2012?

Cosmic Gate: Sure we will play our yacht party again in Miami! We had so much fun the first two years, so we think it will be a sure shot in our Miami 2012 calendar again. Besides this, we are working on two or three more big parties to play in Miami. It will be a great WMC again for sure, and one that we are looking forward to already!

For more information, visit Cosmic Gate and Black Hole Recordings.