Artist Spotlight – Oliver Cattley
Any trance fan will tell you that trance is more than just music
For some, it is just passion, but for others it consumes them and becomes a part of their identity. I know this from personal experience, so I can usually spot it in others. Oliver Cattley has become ‘trance’ from his early years of clubbing, to DJing and producing, which now 20 years later he is on the verge of breaking out. Staying positive and focused, Oliver hopes to weather this storm [Coronavirus] and help bring back the scene he fell in love with 20 years prior.
With his passion, dedication and drive, this social distant break might just be the boost he needs to make it all a reality. And while he speaks on the U.K scene, his ideas and concerns are similar across the world.
Hello Oliver, and thank you for connecting with me for this interview. First of all, how are you doing during these crazy times? How has the shelter in place, and closures of nightlife affected you?
Firstly, the pleasure is all mine and thank you for having me!
As with the majority of people, the coronavirus thing has affected me massively. I work in healthcare and see and prescribed for approximately 100 patients a week. The level of work involved since the risk was announced has been overwhelming at times but the whole service is working to try keep those vulnerable people safe and limit the risk of transmission.
It’s my birthday on 18th April this year and, rather coincidently I was booked to play a main room set at a launch night in my home town of Leeds, UK. The promoter of Elysium put a hell of a lot of effort in to the night and I was looking forward to playing alongside heavyweights such as the Thrillseekers, Bjorn Akesson, Will Rees and Ciaran McAuley. The idea of doing what I love the most on my birthday turned out to be too good to be true and it has been postponed due to covid-19.
Working so hard in my day job and family time has left me too tired to produce on an evening so this has slowed down a little over the last 2 weeks too.
You just released a 20 years of trance podcast in 2 parts. Describe to us what the last 20 years were like for you in trance. What have you loved the most? What would you change? What do you foresee for the next 20 years?
I released part 1 and 2 together because Soundcloud would not allow me to upload 12hrs of continual mix so I had to split it.
To be honest, I love trance just as much as when I first started listening to it. The majority of people from the UK would say the same with regard to what they loved the most I think. When I first went clubbing around 2000-2001 the whole scene was on fire. The clubs had a lot of charm and it was great to feel part of an underground community. Dance music was not commercialized then and only good music ever found its way to the shelves because of the costs involved with vinyl. Brands like Gatecrasher, Gods Kitchen, Passion, Sundissential etc. meant that there was always a good night to be had every weekend. No mobile phones, aggressive people or fashion victims, just good times.
I’d change a few things now. I see how it happened and can’t blame anybody for it but for me promoters need to take more of a gamble. I see the same line up on every flyer knowing full well that there are better DJs and producers out there who aren’t getting a look in. This is UK specific I think.
I’d also change the attitudes of many people. [People with a massive sense of entitlement do not belong in dance music.]
Dance music scene should be inclusive and its part of the reason I fell in love with the genre.
You have your podcast/radio show Tranceform Sessions which is on weekly and on many platforms. How do you keep the demand to keep the show fresh? You also do occasional guest mixes for other shows. How to differentiate your own mixes for your show and guest mixes for other shows so they don’t sound the same?
Well, I spend a lot of hours sifting through music. I’m a massive fan of music in general so I could start off by playing an intelligent mix of techno, progressive or even house then build it up. I think one of my unique selling points is that each show is played and structured like a set – i.e. a journey with progression rather than just a load of tracks put together which is what most shows are.
In terms of keeping demand fresh, I notice there are a select number of people (about 300) who listen religiously. They are the ones kind enough to comment and share and for that I am eternally grateful. I rely heavily on people sharing them if I’m honest. Facebook throttles my reach on my page, bans me from posting for minimal activity and even made it so that my avatar pic isn’t visible to my friend list. It’s always a great feeling when I see a comment from someone new and it inspires me to keep going!
I have been hounded for guest mixes and for the first time I’ve actually had to say no. I see guest mixes as more of an opportunity to showcase the label, my own stuff than I do my show because it may be reaching new ears.
I follow the same principles for a guest mix that I do the show and try to include more exclusive content. Everyone will likely have some forthcoming material on Tranceform or from myself.
Your recent track, Enlightenment, currently out on Vandit, is doing well and getting a lot of play from big artists. How important is it that you get play from big names when your track is first released? How much promo do you feel is necessary for a track to be successful?
Well, again, I’m banned from posting on Facebook and most of my friend list don’t know about the release because my avatar is blocked and reach throttled. So any efforts to promote have been a bit limited. I am over the moon that Paul Van Dyk played it 3x. The track was originally going to be a collab with him but due to time constraints it didn’t happen.
To me a good track is a good track and there is an over emphasis on who played it or not. To a lot of producers, having that support is key for reaching new audiences. To feel that your track has been “approved” by someone who may be your idol is a great feeling.
What I’d say to amateur producers though is that if your track doesn’t get A-list support then it doesn’t mean it isn’t good. They get sent thousands of tracks a month.
You describe yourself as a producer, label manager and a DJ. If you could only do one of these, which one would you choose and why?
Oh, I love producing but this is a no-brainer. I’m a DJ. Nothing brings me more enjoyment and it’s sad that there aren’t as many opportunities for me to do so.
Hand on heart if I could do that full time I would. The other stuff ties in though, as I was discussing with a friend after a set I played last year. He asked about a few tracks I played he’d never heard them before. One was mine and the other two on the label. So I guess it’s a unique selling point to some degree because you won’t hear them elsewhere.
Hailing from Leeds, UK, how would you describe the trance scene in Leeds compared to the rest of the UK, and Europe?
In Leeds back around 2007 some friends launched a night that is still going. The landscape has changed a lot though a lot of nights have veered towards the commercial side.
Two years ago, I tried to create a new brand with someone. My vision was to showcase underground trance, progressive and techno artists but since my vision differed from my partner; it never took off.
Leeds will see Elysium launch soon and I’m proud to say that I’m a resident. I can do what I love and what I’m good at! It’s a promising brand and the future is certainly bright.
I think the rest of Europe are leading the way through the Netherlands in particular (but this has always been the case!).
Finally, if you could only live by one motto, what would it be?
I enjoy seeing people achieve their potential. I also think we need more tolerance, understanding and unity in the world so it’s this:
We were all humans until race disconnected us, religion separated us and politics divided us.