Australia’s number 1 DJ, MaRLo has become synonymous with a sound and a feeling that has electrified crowds worldwide. Dutch-born and Australian raised, the globally in-demand DJ and producer has constantly evolved his own “MaRLo sound”, cementing his reputation as a genuine musical powerhouse. As well as his number 1 ranking in Australia’s Inthemix voting competition, He was also ranked #49 in the DJ Mag 2016 poll. Over the last few years MaRLo has really stepped it up a notch, He started his own concert style events named “Altitude” which have sold out in all 9 cities he has brought the shows to. Every year around 15000 people attend the Altitude events, and plans are in the works to expand them to bigger venues and in more cities around the globe. In combination with the massively popular events, He also launched his own label “Reaching Altitude”, a sub label of the legendary Armada Music, and is dedicated to recognising and nurturing the next generation of talent.
What inspired you to make your own record label, Reaching Altitude? What does Reaching Altitude mean to you?
My own concert events are called Altitude, where I play four hours by myself. All those events have sold out so they’ve done really well. But what that has meant is that a lot of people send me demos to play during my concert shows and they’re talent that are unreleased and that I really believe in, that I think are awesome and they’re not getting signed so I started my own label to help them out more than anything.
What sub-genre of trance do you gravitate more to? Psy-trance, dark, uplifting, big-room?
My thing has always been to do a lot of different stuff, to be quite eclectic. You’ll notice in my set tonight, I’ll throw all sorts of stuff in there. When I first started going out, I was into hard trance so that’s my background, like the German hard trance sound. And then when I was a resident DJ at a local club, I played an after-party so I had to play really tough, like 145 to 150bpm every morning just to keep them awake sort of thing. So that’s my background. So, I’ve always liked the harder sounds anyway. But then I also really like songwriting so I’m really interested in nice vocal tracks and beautiful melodies and interesting chords. So, in my sets, I try to show all sides of me, not just one specific sound, so it’s a bit of everything, a bit of psy, a bit of tech, it’s bit of vocal, everything. I’m telling my story of my musical past. When I was first going out, it’s very different to what’s happening now so I try to use those influences as well.
What does your creative process look like?
It’s very playful. I’ll sit in the studio and I don’t think at all about what I’m going to make. I don’t think, like, I’m going to make a trance anthem, or I’m going to make something really pretty or I’m going to make something really hard. I just play around, like literally, like a child. Hitting the keyboard, playing new instruments and experiment. Listen to really different sounds and different musical influences. My whole thing is I try to do something that when you hear it, you can tell it’s me. I don’t want to sound like someone else, I want to sound like me.
Can you give some advice for the amateur DJs. How did you acquire your DJ skills during you amateur years?
The actual technical aspect of DJ’ing is the easy part. It’s very important to read your audience and adjust your set according to the crowd, your set time and the general vibe. Also – start learning how to produce as soon as possible! Making your own music is key to being succesful as a DJ these days.
How do you learn to create tracks and the production process itself?
Practice every day for a few years untill you get good 🙂 – There’s so many tutorials for free on youtube, that anyone can learn how to produce music as long as you are willing to invest a lot of time into it.
Can you give us a bit of insight into how you craft an ASOT set as opposed to when you’re playing a more general audience?
I edit and create my own versions of every single song I play so my sets are always unique. But as far as pre-planning I don’t really do that… I kind of have a selection of tunes that I choose from though.
What do you like most about the trance scene?
I love that most of the time, it’s a community that … How do I put this? That share a moment together. There’s something that’s unique to trance out of any genre. I’ve been around a little while and there’s something unique about the moment you feel when everyone’s got their eyes closed and their hands in the air. And you really feel a moment and everyone in that room right there is sharing the same experience. It doesn’t matter what country you’re in, what your background is, what your religion is, what your political views, none of that matters in trance, in those moments. And for me, that’s really attractive, that’s something that I really believe in and that’s why I love it.
Any artists that are giving you that same influence or a kick out of your creativity?
Not really, but that comes across weird so I want to explain that. When I first started making music there were a lot of people that did influence me and opened my eyes to many new things. My initial influences were acts like Aphex Twin, Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers and then I was getting more into hard trance, which was at the time a German sound like Scot Project and guys like that. Then I felt a real deep connection with the more melodic trance sound with Ferry Corsten, Tiesto and Armin van Buuren and then I got inspired by the new tech sound. So I wrapped all of those experiences from my past that I was really into when I was growing up, bundled it all together, mixed it all up, and made my own music—the MaRLo sound, or if I’m playing a little bit harder it’s called Tech Energy. Right now I’ve let go of trying to follow anyone else; I’m making music that I like to make based on all of my past experiences. It’s not like I’m listening to music and saying, “Oh, I want to make music like this.” I’ve let go of all of that and just create music that I really enjoy to make and hope that people like it.
What can we expect out of your EDC set?
I’ve got a lot of new music, so you can expect some new sounds that I hope the fans will like.
Any last comments for your fans?
Without fans, I’m nothing. 100%. The fans mean everything to me, they’re the reason I get invited to play shows. They’re the reasons I get to do what I love to do, that’s the most important thing, I think. If I didn’t get booked for shows, there’s no money in selling your music anymore, especially not in trance. It’s not like people are on iTunes buying 10 million copies of your track, that just doesn’t happen in trance and it’s not supposed to, that’s not what it’s about. The fact that you build up a fan base means that you get to tour into all these special places, and get to see all this cool stuff and I’m really grateful and thankful for that.