Fresh off the release of “We Know” on Enhanced Progressive, StanV dropped by to chat about his rise, Atmospheric Journeys, and more!
Stijn Vermeulen or as the scene knows him, StanV, is a Belgian producer on the fast track to stardom, filling his life with the powerful sound atmosphere of progressive trance. Inspired by DJ Tiësto in the ’90s and dance music from the early 2000s, he’s developed a style that pays homage to the past while keeping it fresh for the interest of today. Centering his attention on delivering lovely weightless melodies, he also has a side that’s filled with depth and mystery that has caught the ear of some of the scene’s biggest artists.
One look at his discography only further emphasizes the point that StanV has been serving up dancefloor perfection. Standouts include his latest release, “We Know” alongside Larsson, a track that will shoot you far off into another galaxy. Of course, there’s also “Hamarki” and “The Vault,” two serious tunes that will help your soul transcend space and time. And then there is “Lifesaver,” a powerful offering that ignites the spirit in mic drop fashion, or “A Little Brighter,” which promises to make you feel rainbow-bright from the inside out. It should be noted that this is an artist who was self-taught; a visionary who relies on his internal gut to guide him in the studio.
With his career on the up and up, everyone’s trying to get their hands on his work and he has already been included in some really fun compilation albums including LW Recordings’ Ibiza Summer 2020 Progressive, Elliptical Sun Melodies 2020 mixed by Nick Hayes and Mind Of One, as well as on Enhanced Progressive’s Ebb & Flow #2. To further his reach, StanV has recently begun his very own mix series, Atmospheric Journeys, to showcase his grand musical vision, as he has chosen a life as a studio producer rather than a touring DJ. And we were all thrilled to see him step behind the decks for his first-ever livestream this past week, hosted by Enhanced Music.
StanV’s pin-point focus and unquestionable prowess are certainly paying off and we simply had to get to know this man a little bit more. So, press play on his exclusive guest mix below which includes some of his greatest singles and remixes, and continue on for our conversation.
Stream EDMID Guest Mix 272 || StanV on SoundCloud:
Hello StanV! Thank you so much for taking time out to have a chat with us. Let’s kick things off by giving readers an idea of who you are as an artist. Without simply giving us the name of a genre, how would you describe your sound in emotional and technical detail?
Hi! A big thanks to you as well for having me! I think the words that best describe me are, melodic, atmospheric & energetic. As a kid and early teen, I was completely blown away by the classic trance sound, think early Tiësto, Ferry Corsten, Vincent de Moor, Rank 1, and many others. It’s exactly that sound that I want to incorporate in anything I do, but obviously with some extra twists and touches to make it 2021 and not 2001.
It wasn’t until about two to three years ago that I felt confident about taking this route. It’s really due to hearing people like Grum, Genix, or Andrew Bayer also drawing inspiration from that era, or at least having similar sounds in their music, that I felt ready to try and get my own music out there.
In your bio it says that you prefer making music rather than playing it. What was it about producing music that speaks to you more than focusing on a career as a performing DJ?
Well, in all honesty, I think it’s mainly because I don’t feel mentally ready to embark on something like touring, even just locally. It’s quite funny, the music genres I love, listen to, and produce, are the ones that fill up your regular night out… but in all honesty, I don’t really like going out that often myself.
Before this whole pandemic, the only things I did were visit some of the bigger festivals in or close to our tiny nation – think Tomorrowland, A State of Trance, or Extrema Outdoor – but nothing more than that. I actually often prefer easy nights at home, watching movies with my girlfriend.
Don’t get me wrong though, if an opportunity here or there would pop up, I’d definitely consider it, but I really don’t see myself taking on “the DJ lifestyle,” pulling all-nighters every week.
Self taught since embarking on your journey as a young teenager, what was the hardest challenge you had to overcome? Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I know it’s like kicking in an open door, but the hardest challenge probably has to be learning to have confidence. I opened my first DAW in around 2010, and it took eight to nine years of 99% rejection, with the odd lucky break here and there, before it finally clicked.
At a certain point, I made the mistake to deliberately try and make the type of music that was really popular at that point in time, think mainstage Tomorrowland stuff. I never should have done that, as I was just trying to follow the mainstream trend rather than really following my heart. I simply didn’t have the confidence in going the other way back then.
Based in Belgium, you’re literally surrounded by dance music influence. Have you ever had the opportunity to pick the brain of any of the major producers over there? If so, who was it and what did you take away from that experience to apply in your own career?
Back around 2011, I lucked into working together with Jan Vervloet. The name might not immediately ring a bell, but anyone who’s listened to some 90’s dance music might recognize the acts Fiocco, Scoop, or the insane classic Thunderball – Bonzai Channel One. He was behind all that. We worked together on the anthem of a local festival based on a demo I’d done. Eventually, it became literally the very first release I ever had, so simply being part of that was really cool.
But to be honest, the trance and progressive scene over here saddens me a little bit, as it’s almost non-existing. The only one who is still really getting the recognition he deserves is M.I.K.E. Push, but apart from that the country feels fully focused on the harder side of things, with acts like Charlotte de Witte or Joyhauser.
I don’t have anything against that genre at all, as I often play it as well. But it saddens me because their sound really is not that far away from what trance is, yet the distance in terms of support and recognition feels really big somehow.
You’ve worked with many labels like Enhanced Progressive and Elliptical Sun. What are some lessons you’ve learned while putting your music out there and do you have a dream label that you would like to eventually release on, and why?
Don’t forget High Contrast Recordings! It’s still crazy for me to see that I’ve been releasing on a label that has been the home of absolute legends such as Rank 1 or Marcel Woods.
The main thing I’ve learned is that the A&R process of good labels is there to help you. Whether it’s Enhanced, High Contrast, or Elliptical Sun, the respective A&Rs can sometimes frustrate you for a few seconds when they send over the list of feedback (don’t hate me, guys!). But I can honestly say that these rounds of feedback have taught me so, so much – much more than I would have ever been able to do on my own. With every single hard-fought, signed release, you’ve taken on so many little detailed feedback points that you’ll automatically fix in a new project.
In terms of dream label, well, I’m really happy with the relationships I have so far, so I don’t just want to continuously go around label hopping. But I’ll be honest and say that both Anjunabeats, as well as the ASOT imprint, still feel like a goal. Especially with Anjuna, I feel that they’re really providing the cutting edge in terms of trance and progressive, often riding thin lines between various genres. Would be cool to be a small part of that roster, someday!
“Hamarki” and “The Vault” are two of your tracks that have received major support from industry leaders like Above & Beyond and Ferry Corsten. Can you tell us the story behind these tracks and how has the support fueled you for the future?
I think both of these are, to its core, me trying to replicate that early 2000’s sound, but in a 2020-21 jacket. In terms of production process, they couldn’t be further apart from each other though: “The Vault” came about in like 2 days and was signed like that, while “Hamarki” underwent about four different ideas in terms of the arrangement to get it across the finish line.
Both the supports on ASOT as well as on Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy were pretty crazy to experience. I’ve been listening to these shows for like 15 years, and they’re a big part of why my love for this sound has continued to stay this strong, and then your music gets played on these very same shows, by these very same people.
To an outsider, it may seem silly because it’s simply your music being played by someone else, but knowing the quality threshold they rightly have, it does mean something. I talked about confidence earlier, well, something like this is an incredible confidence boost to confirm the idea that, actually, you might be doing something right?!
What are a couple tracks from your earlier production history that you want your newest fans to check out, and why?
Hmm, I’d say “Ancient World” which came out in 2019 on Dutch label Audio Treatment/Above All Records. I met the label owner, who’s also part of High Contrast Recordings duo Spark & Shade, at a music conference in Holland that year. This really was one of the first people that really enthusiastically supported things I did with my sound, so that track will always have a special place in my heart.
Another earlier track would be “Tales From The East,” which I released on Alveda Music in early 2019. The production quality is definitely subpar if I listen to it now, but I still love the atmosphere in that track.
Finally as a little bonus… Back in 2011, I made a bootleg of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used Know,” right before everyone else made bootlegs and remixes of that one. It suddenly got dropped by Tiësto on his radio show, and it just blew up afterward. I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but apparently, it became a pretty huge thing over in the US, with SiriusXM BPM even launching a poll to vote for either my bootleg or the actual Tiësto Remix that came out a bit later (Spoiler: I won).
I’ve still left it up on my YouTube channel because I have fond memories of it, but beware for those who want to check it out: it’s heavily compressed supersaw-banging-2011-EDM.
Let’s talk about your mix series, Atmospheric Journeys, which just saw episode 3 hit the airwaves. Can you go in depth about that project?
I honestly doubted for a long time about starting something like that. My day job has pretty long hours, meaning that it’s difficult to commit to a schedule music-wise. But in the end, I felt like I should spend some time showcasing the diverse palette of music that inspires me.
What I definitely did not want to do, though, was create the umptieth weekly one-hour show. There are great people out there doing these much better than I could, so I wanted to be a little bit different there. This series is deliberately put on a bi-monthly schedule because that gives me time and breathing space to really dig into great tunes new and less new.
Additionally, the series is always three hours or more, simply because I need that time to go through that whole range of BPM-spanning stuff I like. Things that all have the same kind of atmosphere, whether it’s trance, techno, or even house. In my opinion, the art of longer sets, with various music styles combined, has been losing out a little.
My hero as a teen was Tiësto, back when he was still called ‘DJ’ Tiësto. His six-seven-eight-hour sets blew my mind. It wasn’t just trance, it was a combination of a lot of genres. Just take a listen to some of his Dutch Dimension sets in the early 2000s, or the full eight hours of Tiësto In Concert 1 or 2, the latter being a show in 2004 where I managed to be present, as a mere 12-year-old kid.
He really took you on a journey, with ups and downs in terms of energy as well as the inclusion of tracks that might not be amazing on their own, but became amazing due to where they were placed in that journey. It’s exactly that kind of blending of styles that I also want to do with Atmospheric Journeys.
Now that the world is slowly recovering from the pandemic, what are some changes you would like to see in the scene during this industry re-boot?
Well, I think I’m kind of going to refer back to the previous question. I love your regular one-hour festival sets, but I really hope that we get some longer sets in the future. I’m fully aware of the congested line-ups and the fact that many artists deserve the chance to feature on the big stage, but nothing beats a proper two to three hour, or more, set.
Apart from that, something I noticed as well is that it feels like trance & progressive has kind of grown again over the past year, being one of the few electronic genres that people don’t mind listening to at home. So I hope that acts in these genres can also get the recognition they deserve in terms of shows, festivals, and success in general!
Finally, as I’m sure you’ve done some major soul searching through 2020, what are some of your major goals going forward into 2021 and beyond?
Basically I just want to continue building the sound I’ve been crafting so far, while also maybe trying to branch out a little bit to both higher as well as lower BPM’s. Don’t be surprised to see 135-138 BPM full-on-trance or 123-125 BPM proggy stuff somewhere in the future, while still staying true to the atmospheric feel I want to maintain.