“My parents would always yell from downstairs, ‘Allen, turn that shit down!'”
Trance artist, Allen Watts‘ parents understandably weren’t that supportive of his music choices back in the 90s as the Gabber and Hardcore genres of dance music were all the rage in his native Holland. “I don’t think they really understood it,” said a smiling Allen.
At age 18, Allen discovered Paul van Dyk, Armin van Buuren, and Ferry Corsten and listened to their collections often. “They’re the ones who got me to love Trance,” revealed Allen. Coincidently, a dear friend of Allen’s had a FastTracker2 music program, and the two would begin to experiment with sounds. “My friend infected me with the creating of music,” said Allen. “We started messing around with it (FastTracker) quite a bit, and from then on, I knew I wanted to begin producing my own material.”
Purchasing his first iMac in 2007 along with an early audio interface version of Logic, Allen spent countless hours in his bedroom studying YouTube tutorials. “I would always practice creating tracks, but I wasn’t ready to send any off to record labels,” admitted Allen. “Back then, I always dreamed of releasing a track, but it had to be right.”
A solid five years went by, and Allen still had not sent anything to a recording label. “I was of the mindset that the track was never good enough,” proclaimed Allen. “I was scared to send it out for fear of rejection. I wanted to be happy and confident before I sent it out.”
After a couple of early demos to labels with no success, Allen sent a track that he believed was ready to be signed. “I had first to have some trust in the track,” admitted Allen. “I knew a guy at Black Hole Recordings and ended up sending, “What May Come” to him. He liked it so much that he sent it to his brother, Andi Durrand who happened to own Terminal 4 at the time.” The track was signed and released in May 2012, and it began a steady rise in what would become a fruitful career for Allen.
His second release, September 2012’s “Split Second” (In Trance We Trust) was played on Armin van Buuren’s radio program, A State Of Trance (ASOT). His second to be aired was the August 2013 track, “Tomahawk” (Monster Digital) followed by the December 2013 song, “Blackout” (Monster Digital). Armin van Buuren began to take notice.
Of course, Allen was releasing on other labels during this time, but the A&R at Monster Tunes, J.T. took a liking to Allen. In 2014, Allen sent a collaboration, “Step Into My World,” that he had created with producer, Amir Hussain to Armin van Buuren‘s recording label, Armada Music. “It was the first track I had ever sent to them,” revealed Allen. It didn’t take long for the track to be signed because low and behold, J.T. had since left Monster Tunes and was now an A&R at Armada. With the successes of his aired tracks on ASOT and his new collaboration now on Armin’s label, Allen was still at times struggling with his confidence.
Confidence is a mental state of mind, and all human beings have varying degrees of it. In Allen’s case, along with many other music producers, confidence can sometimes become stagnant or even depleted as it’s perfectly natural to second-guess ourselves. “It doesn’t matter how far up the ladder you are, you’re always going to have self-doubt,” confessed Allen.
People close to us are also sometimes hesitant to tell the truth when asked for an opinion. In Allen’s case he said, “All I hear are the positives when I’m working on a track. I think people are afraid to tell me when something is not good.” Whether we’re afraid of hurting their feelings or losing our social status with a friend, we’ve all been guilty of doing this.
Still though, after “Step Into My World,” subsequent original productions were sent to Armada’s sub-label, Who Afraid Of 138?! which catered to Allen’s style of music. To his surprised satisfaction, each received a distribution agreement with the aid of now Armada A&R manager, J.T.
2016 saw the time came for Armada and Allen to join forces, and an exclusive deal was reached. Allen is free to collaborate with and remix other artist’s tracks which are associated with another label, however, all original material must be approved by and signed to Who’s Afraid Of 138?!.
As Allen is now under the mighty Armada blanket, and one of the faces of Who’s Afraid Of 138?!, I asked if the pressure to release quality material that is consistent with the Armada sound is greater now than before. “Some of the Armada labels have that signature Big Room sound,” described Allen. “But, I don’t think Who’s Afraid of 138?! does. Luckily, I produce what I like, and the people enjoy it.”
So, that begs the next questions, “Has Allen finally found his talent?” “Does he believe that he can make a viable living at this?” He answered by revealing, “What got me here was hard work and practice. I’m grateful that people are supportive, but I’m not talented.” Allen continues to work as an assistant manager at a supermarket, albeit part-time now, and the fruits of his musical labor have paid off by visiting and performing in parts of the world that he once dreamed of. “I love playing in America,” said a joyous Allen. “Everything is so much bigger over there, and the scenery is beautiful!”
Allen’s productions are predominately vocal tracks as he prefers these over all others, and has worked with many of the industry’s talented singers. However, Allen is keen on collaborating with more and sites Suzanna, Haliene, and Sue McLaren as artists he aspires to produce with.
Along with these hopefuls, Allen is set to release collaborations with vocalist, Christina Novelli, In Trance We Trust artist, Maarten de Jong, and Colombian Trance producer, Steve Dekay. In addition to three original productions that are awaiting finalization, Allen will also remix Gareth Emery and Emma Hewitt’s classic, “I Will Be The Same” later on in 2019.
And, some exclusive news that was brought to our attention right before publishing: Allen has mixed one the two discs that will be included in the new Who’s Afraid of 138?! compilation album. Keep your eye on Allen’s socials for this summer’s release date, and of course, Trance Farm will share the information as it comes in.
As for Allen’s parents? Well, after seeing him perform during last year’s ASOT Allen comically says, “I don’t know whether they like the actual music, but they feel proud. They tell me that I must be doing something right!”
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