All Jochen Miller needs to be happy is a good set of vocals. Whether it’s a club leveling banger or a softer, trancier tune, the Jochen Miller signature sound has always focused on tight melodies and strong lyrics from some of the most talented singers all over the world. As he prepares to release his next album Fearless on May 29, he stays true to himself, regardless of how much the music scene is changing around him. Last week I got to chat with the Dutch producer about the album’s latest single “Fearless,” his first attempt at vocals, and more.
At what point did you decide to make the album?
There was a really good vibe in the studio so I made a lot of tracks just looking for a new single. But when I went to Armada they said they liked all of them and wanted me to release eight or so tracks. We all thought it was the right time to release an album so I figured why not. A lot of the tracks are perfect for the summer season.
Are you taking a break in-between the album and making new music?
Of course, but I’m always searching for new sounds and new beats to keep it fresh for myself, to get a lot if inspiration on new material. When I produce demos I’ll go to Armada and we decide what’s a good option before I go back and produce the rest of the song. It’s a long process to make a track from start to finish so it never really stops.
How do you find a balance between making an album, touring, your radio show, etc?
Skype helps (laughs)! It doesn’t matter where you are, you can do anything. When I’m on tour the only place I can’t do anything is on a plane. If I’m in a hotel room I can do so much just from my laptop.
Do you ever stop??
Actually, I have a lot of free time. It sounds like I’m always working. But I don’t see it like work. It’s a hobby. If it feels like a hobby you can handle it easily because you’re still having fun and enjoying what you do every day. In my free time I’m a Playstation addict, and I try to go running at least twice a week or Crossfit. I’m actually going on a night run with 15 people this week while I’m off.
Do you have time to workout while on the road?
Absolutely, I have to stay healthy. I have a rhythm when I’m on the road: I arrive, sleep, go to the hotel and work out, sleep for two more hours, and then play the show. When you’re healthy and in good condition you can handle jet lag better. When I didn’t work out four years ago I couldn’t adapt to the jet lag. But now I can handle short nights, and traveling in a plane for 15+ hours.
What track on the album was the hardest to make?
‘Fearless,’ actually. We originally had another singer on the track. Rupert really liked it and was an amazing singer, but at the same time a single with his band became a huge hit in Holland and his management said he couldn’t be the voice on the track at the last moment. Luckily we had another really good option with Chris who was a finalist for The Voice: Holland. He’s really talented and I’m really happy with him. We had different singers after we heard Rupert was out, and they just weren’t on the same level. But Chris came and Rupert worked with him and now it’s the same level.
It took two weeks total, but it was right before the deadline for the album. I made the demo in Melbourne and brought it home and I sent it to the team for the vocals while I my buddy Sander and I finished producing all the other tracks. I had to send the album in on Friday, and Chris sang the track on Thursday so I was stressed to finish, but it made the track that much more special. I just saw the video for ‘Fearless’ and it’s really good too.
Did you feel like a a weight was lifted off your shoulders when it was all done?
I just want to share it with the world! I finished the album months ago, but you have to wait and plan the promotion and release the singles in order. It’s a different approach and this was the first time I did it with Armada. Their team has been great.
What’s your favorite part of the production process?
When we make a demo and we hear the demo vocals for the first time. It’s like a puzzle trying to make it right. We have vocals in our head when we make these demos, and the voice has to go with the sound we create. Sometimes it doesn’t work and some times it’s perfect. It’s not easy, but then again it’s not supposed to be. Making good music is hard work.
Have you ever sang the demo vocals on your own track?
(laughs) there’s one track on the album called “Turn It Up,” and that’s my voice. We created a vocal encoder like Daft Punk does on their records. We needed a sample as a placeholder so I just said turn it up and it sounded cool so we kept it! We created the pitch downs to make it more interesting and it doesn’t sound like me too much.
What led you to name the album Fearless?
Well there was the one track on the title called “Fearless,” but also when I do an album, I show a lot of sides of myself, of Jochen Miller. You don’t have to be afraid to show it to people, you know what I mean? That’s to me, the most important message I want bring – to show that I can do a laid back track that I loved to produce, but also a strong club banger that’s also really nice to do. With an album you can show different music styles all at once. But always there’s a that signature Jochen Miller sound: strong bass lines, but also really catchy melodies.
Do you think artists have a lot of fear when making music, whether it’s fear from their fans, record labels, or even pressure to make the same music everyone else is?
I don’t know. For me, I never choose the easiest way. The whole trance genre scene and sound has changed. It’s more progressive house, or a little slower in bpm.”Brace Yourself” is a trancey track but it’s not 130 bpm, and a lot of people think that I’ve always played trance but I’ve always played different music styles which is what I wanted to do with my album. I really love the poppy twist in trance now. There are poppy chords and melodies with the trancey beats and that combination is really interesting for the future and it’s a good sound for the scene.
Do you think it’ll help trance get on the radio and become more mainstream?
Hopefully? I don’t know. It depends on what the radio wants. In Holland deep house is all over the radio, but it’ll change in a couple of years or even a year. Maybe trance will be next. Music is always changing and evolving to new sounds. We’ll see. Either way, I don’t make tracks based on what’s popular on the radio. I follow my heart and make the music I want to make.
Photo Credit: Michel Mees Photography