Daniel Skyver: “How ASOT & The Prodigy have Inspired Me to Live in the Studio”
Daniel Skyver is widely regarded as a rising star in the Trance scene. Known for his uplifting and energetic style, the DJ and producer from Portsmouth has been making waves with a string of recent hits. TranceFixxed recently caught up with Daniel before he went on stage at the Official Together Festival Warm Up Party, hosted by Journey at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff:
TranceFixxed: Hi Daniel, it’s great to see you! So, it’s Easter Sunday today – have you done anything special?
Daniel: No, not really, just been preparing for tonight’s gig…
TranceFixxed: …with plenty of chocolate?
Daniel: Well I’ve had a few eggs! I’m trying to watch the figure.
TranceFixxed: Oh yes, I can tell you’ve been down the gym this morning.
Daniel: You’re too kind!
TranceFixxed: Is this your first time performing in Wales?
Daniel: Yes it is the first time I’ve ever played here.
TranceFixxed: Excellent, well welcome to wonderful wet Cardiff! So for those of us who are less familiar with your work, tell us a bit about yourself.
Daniel: I started doing Trance seriously about 3 years ago, having been doing various other roles within Dance music. I rediscovered my passion for Trance how it used to be, back in 1999 / 2000, and decided that this is what I really need and want to be doing. So yes I have been in the studio since then, and now I basically live in the studio making tunes after tunes… and I’m slowly getting to where I want to be.
Daniel: Well that was my era. I was 18 / 19 and I used to go to Slinky in Bournemouth every Friday, and go to Gatecrasher and Godskitchen. That was my time really, and when Trance ‘got me’. Through the 2000s I got swayed by various other influences along the way, and thankfully about 3 years ago I was bitten again by the Trance bug.
TranceFixxed: So what was it that made you fall in love with Trance again? Was it a certain song or experience?
Daniel: There wasn’t really one defining moment, it was just friends of mine who are Trance fans playing me their stuff. I can’t remember anything specific but I started listening again from there and although I thought I was still really into House and Techno, I started to realise that I was listening to Trance more than anything else. One day I woke up and I thought “What am I doing?” and realised that I wasn’t putting 100% into what I was doing at the time, and that I was falling back in love with Trance again. All my peers were into House and Techno, and a couple of them were big names in their own right in their scenes. I had to turn round and tell them “Trance is now my thing”. I thought I was going to face ridicule – you know what people are like – but they were actually really supportive.
TranceFixxed: You’ve had some really good reaction since you have ‘come back to Trance’. My personal favourite of your more recent releases is ‘Tantrum’ (which I think is appropriate as I have a 2 year old son and see them every day!) and I gather there’s a new remix by Activa coming up?
Daniel: Yes, there is. I’m not sure of the exact release date, but I think it’s mid May. I know Activa wanted to release it after his Full On Fluoro (Vol. 3) compilation, which was released on Friday (18th April). The version he has done is amazing; the interpretation of it is something else.
TranceFixxed: It must feel really good having a big name like Activa wanting to remix your work?
Daniel: The guys at Monster told me that they asked Activa to remix something for the label, and they sent him a choice of tunes that they had coming up and he choose my one. I suppose it is more his style, and might have been the closest that they had to Psy Trance at the time.
TranceFixxed: The other one that came our recently, you’ve been working with Crystal Blakk on ‘Touching the Sky’
Daniel: For me, that’s the best tune I’ve done so far, from a technical point of view.
TranceFixxed: Yes, it’s had a good reaction. Jordan Suckley played it at ‘A State of Trance 650’…
Daniel: … I was there actually, right at the front. I knew he was going to play it, he told me he was going to play it, but he also played Tantrum as well which I wasn’t expecting. During it, Armin came on and was speaking to the crowd. When the song kicked in, all the smoke machines went off and the place went mental! For me it really was the highlight of my career so far. It’s really inspired me… Honestly, I want to live in the studio but there’s only so many hours in the day.
TranceFixxed: Inspired you to bigger and better things, so that can only be good.
Daniel: The tune has got to Top 20 on Beatport, so that’s quite an achievement as well.
TranceFixxed: I saw of Facebook that you have been working on a remix of ‘Beautiful Things’, a classic by Andain?
Daniel: I’ve finished it, that’s all done. It will be coming out on Black Hole Recordings in May sometime. Basically, I wanted to remix one of my favourite ever tunes. It was supposed to be in time for A State of Trance (650) but it ran over, but I wanted to see it through as it was going really well. I finished it and sent it to what might be considered the 5 biggest names and I sent their feedback to the label to see if they would be interested in a rerelease, and they loved it!
TranceFixxed: Excellent, that’s great news.
On Tour & Online
TranceFixxed: So have you got any other tour dates coming up?
Daniel: Gigs are coming in now, slowly but surely, which is nice. I’m headlining ‘Trance is Here’ in Salisbury on 20th June. I will also be performing in Newcastle, Plymouth, Glasgow and Peterborough in the summer
There’s quite a few things in the pipeline. I’ve recently signed to Apollo Artists Agency, run by Bo Van Eck who also runs Luminosity. He’s helping me a lot.
TranceFixxed: So if fans want to know where to catch you next, follow you on Facebook?
TranceFixxed: You’ve also got a Radioshow on Afterhours.FM, the ‘Daniel Skyver Show’
Daniel: Yes, has an original title!
TranceFixxed: You must have thought long and hard about that one.
Daniel: Yeah it took me a long time to be honest… I didn’t have much inspiration for that title, I must admit
TranceFixxed: Well if you’ve saved all you inspiration for your music, you can call it whatever you want.
Daniel: Exactly. There’s only so much inspiration you can get in one man’s brain! I was very happy to get on Afterhours, it’s a really popular radio station. They asked me (to join them) after doing my previous show on a different station. It’s only monthly, but my fan base is growing, which is nice.
TranceFixxed: A bit more of a general question, as someone who has been in and around Trance music for a while – do you feel that you can make a living from music?
Daniel: That’s a very good question and my honest answer is that only a fortunate few can make a living from it these days. In the past there probably was a wider amount who could (make a living).
TranceFixxed: Would you say that the Electronic music scene is worse or par for the course, compared to the wider Music Industry?
Daniel: It’s just all changed, hasn’t it? There’s money still to be made, if you can get gigs on a regular basis, you could probably make a living from it. If you are a producer now who isn’t a DJ, I can’t imagine that you would make a living from it any more. In the past you could have sold a Vinyl for £5 – £8 but now it’s £2 for an MP3, and that’s if you are lucky. Also with music piracy you are selling next to nothing. So there’s very little money to be made as just a producer now.
Influences & Inspiration
TranceFixxed: What do you do for fun, to chill-out and relax?
Daniel: I’m a massive football fan, Spurs fan. Probably the same as everyone else, I like watching movies etc. Music is my life, which is quite sad I guess. I listen to other sorts of music as well, different bands.
TranceFixxed: So what is the most unusual or unexpected song I would find on your iPod?
Daniel: Nothing that unusual I hope. I’m really into Elbow and bands like that. I like 90s Indie music. Remember Starsailor? The lead singer has just released an album and he’s one of my favourites at the minute. The Prodigy are my obsession though.
TranceFixxed: Do you like more of the newer Prodigy or their older, ‘classic’ releases?
Daniel: They can’t do anything wrong as far as I’m concerned! Anything Prodigy. I first saw them when I was 14, so anything they do I just adore.
TranceFixxed: Do you have an inspiration or is there anyone who influences the music your produce?
Daniel: The Prodigy are big for me. When you listen to my music, you don’t automatically think “Prodigy” but there are elements in my head I think “keep that, that sounds like The Prodigy”, and I try and use it.
Carl Cox is a massive influence for me, for DJing generally. Not just for one genre but for DJing… as an art. He is so cool and skilful. For Trance music, it’s people like Paul Oakenfold, the original resident DJs like Scott Bond, Matt Hardwick and the Slinky residents – they all inspired me. Thinking about more modern people, there’s John Askew; if he plays one of my tunes I’m very happy!
I was brought up by my Mum on soft rock and stuff, Bon Jovi and all that rubbish.
TranceFixxed: That’s fine, I don’t know many DJs who were raised in a Trance household! It’s such a young genre of music that not many people – Martin Garrix or youngsters who are 17 could have possibly – but it’s too young a genre for most people active in the scene.
Let’s move on – Describe yourself in 3 words.
Daniel: Erm… you’ve stumped me! I have no idea, I’ve never been asked that before… OK, if I think about Trance music, I’m really focussed now. I wasted a lot of time in my 20s. I’m 31 now and I feel like I’ve grown up a little bit and I’m a lot more focussed on what’s important to me. Not sure what else – I’m certainly passionate… Sorry, I can’t think of another.
TranceFixxed: Focussed. Passionate. Tantrum?
Daniel: Tantrum! Yes, that works
TranceFixxed: To finish up then, what else can we expect from you in 2014?
Daniel: I have quite a few releases in the pipeline. I have an EP with Manuel Le Saux’s label, 2 tunes on that. I have remix on Solarstone’s ‘Pure Trance’ label, which is a remix of a track from the most recent Pure Trance compilation. The Andain remix of course. I have a new tune just signed to Monster, called ‘Landslide’, along the Tantrum lines but not quite (the same). So there’s plenty going on, including many other things that are too early for me to talk about.
TranceFixxed: With all these ideas you have and multiple items in the pipeline, any thoughts on an album?
Daniel: No to be honest. I’m just focusing on producing original music. I don’t see the point of just doing too many remixes. Originality is important to me. If you really want people to listen to you – make your own music. Remixes are great in certain aspects, if it’s for a big producer or big label and you are making a name for yourself. For me personally, producing is where my head is at. Lots of people are approaching me to do remixes but I’ve not been taking any of them on.
TranceFixxed: So we’re going to see less remixes but plenty more new productions from you?
Daniel: I think that’s the way it’s going to be, I just want to be doing my original tunes. I have so many ideas floating around. That will probably be it for this year – originals and more originals. Labels can take their time releasing things so not sure when you will get to hear them.
Generally my productions are 138-140bpm, uplifting trance, some of it a but Techy-er than others but I want to explore some slightly deeper stuff. Still melodic. I come from Sasha, Digweed, Nick Warren, Dave Seaman, that Progressive era, when they also played Trancey stuff as well. I’m really influenced by all that, and I want to be doing stuff like that as well. Deeper Progressive music that’s still uplifting and melodic. That’s what I really want to do.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an alias along the line at some point. It would be Daniel Skyver presents, so you will know about it if and when it happens.
TranceFixxed: Bursting with ideas; that’s exactly what we want to hear.
Daniel: Yes, bursting with excitement and enthusiasm.
TranceFixxed: Well we are bursting with excitement to hear you on stage very shortly, in a bit over half an hour’s time. Thank you very much for your time.
Daniel: My pleasure.
TranceFixxed: Looking forward to hearing you and speak to you again soon.