Separately, Ilan Bluestone and Jerome Isma-Ae are two well established producers in the dance music scene, known for their fresh take on trance and progressive house. Their first collaboration “Under My Skin,” was a massive success, which led to their second track “Tension.” It was not only featured on the Anjunabeats Volume 11 compilation this summer, but also resulted in a North American Tour. Last month, Your EDM had the chance to sit down with both Ilan and Jerome in Philadelphia, midway through the tour.
YourEDM: Jerome, you’ve toured the US much more than Ilan. Do the two have different approaches to each stop on the tour?
Jerome Isma-Ae: In clubs I play much deeper because I have time, but at festivals my sets are always more pumping. Tonight maybe I’ll start at 122 bpm and build it to 129 bpm. But if you play a festival, you only have one hour so there’s no time to build. You have to start at the peak and stay there.
Ilan Bluestone: Jerome’s on the more proggy, dark side of things and I play my own sound mixed with the more Above & Beyond style. He’ll play, and then I’ll come in and change things around. It works really nicely.
YE: What was the main difference between producing “Under My Skin” and your new record “Tension”?
Ilan: Well I flew out to Germany to stay with Jerome to produce “Tension.”
Jerome: Yeah, for “Tension” we were physically in the same room, but for “Under My Skin,” it was via Skype and FaceTime.
Ilan: For “Under My Skin” we sent each other’s ideas back and forth, and for “Tension” we were in the same room so we managed to nail a great melody and built a great track around it very quickly. We set out to achieve a sound that was as good if not better than “Under My Skin.”
Jerome: Also, it was a long working period and we developed one idea for a very long time. I think we have 10 different versions of “Under My Skin” until we decided on the final version. And it took us 5 months for “Under My Skin” whereas we finished “Tension” in one weekend.
Ilan: Less than that. Literally 48 hours. Because we knew how we worked together. “Under My Skin” was a test to see how we get along with the production side.
YE: Jerome, what do you think Ilan’s biggest strengths are production-wise and vice versa?
Jerome: Ilan’s biggest strengths are his melodies. He’s very good with pads too. And transitions between pads and chords.
Ilan; Jerome can take any beat and turn it into an absolute gem. He, to everyone, is the King of Grooves.
YE: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from spending time together DJing?
Jerome: On this tour we learned…
Ilan: …we both love sushi!
Jerome: Yes! And we get along very well together. And it’s better if I play before him and not him before me so we can make a good transition throughout the night.
Ilan: Right, because Jerome starts really dark and proggy, and I then I kind of bring out The Sun.
Jerome: So at the end we play back-to-back and switch between trance and progressive tracks.
YE: Would you ever play back to back for an extended 4 or 5 hour set?
Ilan: We haven’t yet. Four hours was the longest time we played on the tour so far but not back to back the entire time. I think we would definitely be up for it.
YE: What’s a track you play in your sets that is different from your regular style?
Ilan: I love the new Arty track, “Lift Me Up.” And when I play it’s obviously quite bouncy and has that 70s groove so people are like, “What the hell is this?“,You know? And people look at each other confused but then when the track drops they get really into it.
YE: So what’s in your future as a team?
Ilan: More hits.
Jerome: More hits, more tours!
Ilan: We’ve managed to find our sound together and now there’s more of it. We’ve started pushing out some ideas for new tracks.
YE: Would you continue to release under your separate names or create an alias?
Jerome: Both of our names are too long so maybe we’d have to think of an alias. Jerome Bluestone? Ilan Isma-Ae?
“Tension” is now available exclusively on Beatport. You can also order Anjunabeats Volume 11 on Beatport or iTunes.