Catching up with Ronski Speed & Dennis Sheperd

By: Matthijs Duijm

10 oktober, 2014

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They’re our special guests at next week’s ADE – Trance Academy. And for good reason. Ronski Speed and Dennis Sheperd have both earned their stripes in trance land, keeping it alive & kicking with their sets, productions and remixes. Read on, and get to know the boys a bit better!

Hey guys! Thanks for taking the time to reply to some of our questions, and what a great idea to do a duo interview! So, let’s start off with the obvious: how are you guys?

RONSKI:“Thanks, very fine. I’m on tour in USA in-between Chicago and New York.“
DENNIS:“I’m feeling great, although I just got injured last Sunday during a soccer match (yes, I play soccer in my free time!). My knee got damaged a bit but it will be fine again until ADE and I will be ready to rock 100%ly!“

There’s lots of similarities between you two. Both German, successful in music, rocking the trance scene with productions and gigs, owning your own record label. So, what we’d really love to know, from your own perspective, is: what are the differences between Ronski Speed and Dennis Sheperd? What makes Ronski Ronski and Dennis Dennis?
RONSKI:“That’s a tough question. I think everyone has their own musical background and style. I respect Dennis a lot. He is a great producer, composer and a good friend.“
DENNIS:“Oh, well, a huge difference between both of us is that Ron was already big when I wasn’t yet allowed to enter clubs in Germany officially. Apart from that I agree with Ron. We both have our own backgrounds but seriously: I love to meet Ron, we always spend a great time together!“

I guess we owe both of you congratulations on the launch of your own record labels, A Tribute To Life and Maracaido Records! 2014 has been a big year so far, huh?
RONSKI:“I’m very happy with the freedom of creativity on my label. We have now constant releases until the end of the year and the responses are great. I just released my new single ‘Sipoc’ there with great response from Armin, Cosmic Gate, Bobina etc. Very soon a new track with Lucy Saunders is coming… “
DENNIS: “Oh, great, a new track with Lucy Saunders? Why do I not know about this yet? Haha. Can’t wait to hear that one! Anyway, founding an own label is hard work, especially if you do everything on your own and not be part of a label family / be a sub-label. But I enjoy to have my influence on every part of the release (cover, marketing ideas etc.). And of course I enjoy the freedom to do whatever I want!“

Dennis, how do you plan on being the best label owner ever – and also giving a stage to the endless stream of talents out there?
DENNIS: “To be honest, the focus will be on my own productions first of all. But at the moment, I’m in the process of signing two great artists. One of them is the duo called Eonic from Sydney. I got to know them during my tours in Australia. Andrew & Nic are great guys and I look forward to have them as one oft he first members of A Tribute To Life! “

Ronski, in what way does having your own record label give you more freedom? Does it also have any downsides?
RONSKI: “A new label definately has to be established and this is a long way and needs a lot of good tracks. There are so many labels out there.“

In a time where copycats are everywhere and it’s extremely hard to be unique – how do you guys try to be innovative in terms of production?
RONSKI: “Truly, this is very hard because there is so much good stuff out there. It is basically more or less the very own style the people can hear inside the music. My style is definately melodic and progressive trance.“
DENNIS: “Listening to other music styles always helps to keep your mind fresh in my opinion. By this, you get influenced not only by tracks from the same genres which might end up in tracks that might sound boring. Apart from that, after a few years you develop a few unique production skills that will let your tracks stand out from the masses a bit.“

We know that neither of you are shy of experimenting with different sounds. Still, it seems you’re ‘loyal’ to trance and progressive. What do you boys think of more and more trance producer jumping on the ‘EDM bandwagon’?
RONSKI: “I basically all the time want to do what I want and the same is with all the other producers. If someone feels well with another style of music it is ok. Sometimes it is a sad to see producers changing their sound. “
DENNIS: “Each to their own I say! If some guys enjoy the EDM sound a lot, let them go and let them do whatever they want!“

What’s the secret to keeping your sounds fresh – but still true to your roots? Is there a secret?
RONSKI:“That is hard to say. I mean sitting in the studio and trying to find the right sound is definately a long process and it is hard to find yourself really happy with the right sounds. fortunately there are always new instruments to check out. This is really a kind of progress over the years.“
DENNIS:“Yes, alcohol! Haha, just kidding. With every track you further develop your style. So if you just keep on it, it will sound fresh on its own. And even if not, sometimes things just work as they are and don’t have to be forced to sound fresh!“

Now Dennis, there’s a new album in the making, a follow-up to your 2011 ‘A Tribute To Life’. How far along is it and what can we expect? Or should we expect the unexpected? Will there be a new collaboration with Ronski on there, too?
RONSKI:“It is not yet planned but I just did a remix for Dennis‘ new track.“
DENNIS:“Exactly, Ron just did an amazing remix for me! The Uplifting fans will love it, I’m very sure about that, it’s a banger! Apart from that I’m working on my new album constantly and hope to be finished with it end of the year! I cannot give you more information yet but I can promise that it tops my first album by far in my opinion!“

Ronski, last year you released the successful ‘Second World’ album. After you’ve finished one, are you the type to start building the next already, or do you like to reflect on what you’ve accomplished for a while first? Is there a new one in the making already, maybe?
RONSKI: “I don’t plan a new album at the moment. Honestly it is always a long process and it is nice that if you do a track to see it being released pretty soon.“

Now, radio shows have been there for decades. You both have one. How do you make sure the listeners stay engaged?
RONSKI: “Radio shows are really good to keep the listeners follow you and know what sound you are playing as a DJ.“
DENNIS: “I regularly engage the listeners by letting them ask me questions on Facebook that I will then answer during the radioshow! Also newcomer producers can send in their demos and I will give live feedback on those during the podcast! Apart from that I also have a Think Outside The Box track every month that is from another genre and is always a bit surprising.“

Speaking of engaging fans, Amsterdam Dance Event is coming up real soon, where you’ll be rocking Trance Academy at Club Lite! Looking forward to being special guests? What can we expect of your sets?
RONSKI: “I will present my new tune with Lucy Saunders ‘Calm Before The Storm’ in hopefully the first mastered version. Also new tunes from my label like Aimoon’s new tune with a brand new Photographer Remix.“
DENNIS: “I will play new productions, that’s for sure! For example my new production with Sylvia Tosun that will be released on my own label A Tribute To Life later this year! Basically it will be a banging Progressive set! “

These sort of events attract lots of passionate music lovers, people flying in from all across the globe. What makes nights like these so much better than the massive festivals?
RONSKI:“Exactly that what you said. People are passionated and well educated in the music. This is the best crowd you can get as a DJ.“
DENNIS:“I have to agree with Ron here. It doesn’t really matter how many people you have at a certain event. If you feel they are there for the music, it can give you the chills even if there are only 100 people on the dancefloor. There’s nothing better than getting this certain connection with the crowd. That can keep me playing music for 8 hours if I want to (and yes, I did that already!).“

Now, you seem like the type of guys to make the most of your time in a city like Amsterdam, right? Will we be bumping into you for some sightseeing or checking out other parties as well? ; )
RONSKI: “I will come already on Thursday to catch some of the vibes and see a bit of the city. Unfortunately I can only stay till friday to play my gig then I have to go back to Germany to play another show. Can’t wait for it. Thanks.“
DENNIS: “I’m coming with my girlfriend on Wednesday already and will have a look at Armada Night and Luminosity that night. On Thursday I will have a full day of meetings and in the evening I will go to Coldharbour / Flashover night. Friday is blocked completely for Trance Academy to calm down, relax and mentally prepare for the gig later on! Saturday and Sunday will be pure sightseeing with my girlfriend (Anne Frank House for example!). Can’t wait, I love Amsterdam!“

Thanks for the interview, guys! See you at Trance Academy!

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