Orjan Nilsen Interview
It’s been almost fifteen years since Orjan Nilsen jumped the queue and shook the scene with ‘Red Woods’ as the brilliant breakthrough track under his DJ Governor moniker, and a lot has happened since then.
The Norwegian DJ and producer became one of the most lauded personae in the electronic music world, known for spoiling the global crowd with one iconic masterpiece after another whilst wreaking havoc on the live front as well. And now, to honour his roots and plunge the dance music world into that specific brand of old-school Trance once more, he has given in to popular demand and unleashed a brand-new DJ Governor track onto Armin van Buuren’s Armind label: ‘Re-Election’.
We caught up with Orjan where he reflects on spending 15 years in the industry.
T.H.E – Hey Orjan! Welcome to T.H.E – Music Essentials. How have you been coping with the COVID-19 lockdown, have you been keeping productive?
Orjan Nilsen – It’s kind of surreal to have spent so much time at home since it hasn’t happened to me in more than 10 years. I never thought I’d say it, but I do miss travelling! I am however super inspired and super productive and I am sure I will have enough music for like 2 news albums by the time this is all over haha! But yes, working in the studio and being a dad is the two main activities I’ve been keeping myself busy with but I can’t wait to get moving!
T.H.E – 15 years in the music industry! Did you ever imagine this?
Orjan Nilsen – Not in a million years, although I did know that I would still be making music even after so long (and if you ask me what the next 15 years will bring, I would probably tell you the same!). But it’s amazing to see how far we have come in terms of technology, reach and overall on how big dance music has become. The one thing that hasn’t changed is my love for doing what I do, but everything else – man, can’t even begin to compare.
T.H.E – If you have to look back and pick the 5 most influential moments that have kept you going, what would they be?
Orjan Nilsen – I’d definitely pick each one of my albums and the first time I played EDC and Tomorrowland. Those are achievements that really have shown me that I must be doing something right and knowing how much work I’ve put into getting where I am today, those are amazing tokens of recognition. I will, however, forever cherish that first MSN video call I got from Armin van Buuren asking to sign my first record ever. I mean that changed everything…
T.H.E – To mark this moment, you revisited your DJ Governor alias. What does the alias mean to you personally, and why did it feel the right time to mark your 15th anniversary with a DJ Governor track?
Orjan Nilsen – I was thinking of what can I do to mark this anniversary and Governor was the only thing that made sense. It’s an alias that already had history and carried some sort of a legacy. Bringing forward something from scratch didn’t make sense, as it is all about reminiscing about those past 15 years. So I decided to bring it back under the condition that I will include a modern twist to it. And ‘’Re-Election’’ is a good example, it starts very clubby and modern and falls into that old-school Orjan-style melody in the break. It’s the best of both worlds In my opinion!
T.H.E – “Re-Election” is old-school trance with a modern twist. How did it come about, which tracks/artists inspired you for this one?
Orjan Nilsen – A lot of people ask me to do those old-school Orjan type of tracks, however, I have learned so many new techniques over the years from experimenting with different genres, I couldn’t just do something straight-on old school. So this is where the idea came from, a challenge to myself to make a trance song with a modern touch, something that you can still play in the clubs, keeping it short, yet sounding exactly how we loved trance to sound like back in the day. I am very proud of it and people have reacted very positively to it and that makes me very happy. There will be more DJ Governor tracks, I promise you that.
T.H.E – You briefly touched upon how trance tracks used to be 7-8 minutes long, and now they are 3-4 minutes. Personally, what are you a big fan of? How do you, as a producer, manage to capture the essence of a trance track, in half the duration?
Orjan Nilsen – I don’t mind a long track, but I definitely mind it in a live set. If you have seen me play live you’d know that I’d easily fit 20+ tracks in an hour and that’s what keeps the dynamics in my set so high. I can’t do that if all tracks are 7-8 minutes long! When I play a classic track (whether live or in my radio show), I always make my own edit of it to shorten it as much as possible without affecting the essence of it. And let’s face it, nearly half of those 7-8 minutes it’s just an intro/outro, so the main melody would always remain intact I mean I even managed to cut ‘’La Guitarra’’ short!
T.H.E – What can we look forward to, in 2020?
Orjan Nilsen – Lots of new music, a whole bunch of collaboration lined up and a whole new set of energy as soon as I can get on the road. I honestly can’t wait, and I am sure that everyone feels the same, so good times are ahead of us. Until then, stay safe!