Trance has, for a while now, lived in a world of uncertainty. The ebb and flow of popularity has carried our beloved music through highs and lows, leaving fans to wait breathlessly for a hero, a beacon of light assuring us that Trance is alive and well. Richard Mowatt, known to the music world as Solarstone, is that light. Throughout his illustrious career, Rich has been a steady figure representing the values that Trance fans and producers hold dear. With his radio show, Pure Trance Radio, approaching its 200th episode on August 7, 2019, Rich took this moment to talk with Trance Farm about the exciting projects he has coming up, the state of the genre, and his place in all of it.
Of course, we jumped right into discussing the imminent Pure Trance 200. This is a milestone moment for the Pure Trance brand and Rich himself, although he hasn’t always thought so. “I never really celebrated 100 episodes because I didn’t really think it was that much of a big deal,” explains Rich, who has been putting on radio shows on-and-off for over a decade. “But when ASOT (A State Of Trance) started doing it, I realized it probably held more importance than I had previously attributed to it. So it does mean a lot to me, this 200th episode, especially since I have Paula, who’s my manager and other half, and Suzanne, who handles the distribution of the radio show.”
Pure Trance, of course, isn’t a solitary project. “We’re all gonna be at the recording of the show together, so it’s not just nice for me, it’s nice for them as well. It’s sort of like a family gathering,” Rich says. A lucky few fans will be joining the team at the live show, and shout-outs and messages from listeners will be sprinkled throughout the episode. “With Pure Trance Radio, I really have enjoyed connecting with fans on a much deeper level than I did previously in terms of the compilation and labels and events. There’s a real community there so it means a lot more to me now than it would have meant to me 5 or 6 years ago.”
Fans can look forward to more than just music for episode 200. When pressed for details, Rich revealed that the team has been “kind of been reticent about announcing too much in advance because we want people to be surprised when they tune in, but we’ve got some interesting panels this year.” With a hefty 5 hours to fill, Rich has made sure this episode will be something special. “Last year we talked about ghost producing, so we’ll be doing something else about that, and we’re also doing a feature about women in the industry. We’ve got all sorts of interesting guests coming in for that. It’s gonna be fun for five hours.” The legendary producer then went on to endearingly add, “I hope I remember how to use all the equipment! It’s pretty tough, there’s a lot to do. You’ve got to mix the tracks, put on the jingles, all that.”
It’s doubtful that Rich has much to worry about in that regard, or any other pertaining to the show. He has proven his competence a million times over, after all, and managed to create a brand that simultaneously goes against the grain of modern Trance while also defining it. “Pure Trance” is a name, a motto, a philosophy, that upholds the ideas and methods that Trance was built on. About the project, Rich explained that “the whole thing has grown really organically. It was never planned out or contrived in any way.” As a purveyor of quality Trance music for decades, Rich has a unique perspective on the genre, which led him to “a realization that Trance, that pure Trance music, was kind of dying.” Like a phoenix from the slowly-gathering ashes, Rich rose, to preserve the music loved by so many.
“When I realized that [Trance] meant so much to so many other people in the world, I wanted to connect them,” Rich says. With aspirations as pure as the music itself, the label remains true to its roots on the eve of several upcoming milestones like Pure Trance Radio 200 and their involvement in Amsterdam Dance Event. ”I didn’t really set out to build some kind of empire,” he explains. With the label’s success, he ended up with this thing which is kind of cemented in the world of electronic music now. We do these wonderful events, everyone comes, and you can tell it means so much to them.” And that’s what it’s all about.
Having someone so influential in the industry who understands what makes listeners tick is an invaluable asset for the genre. “For a lot of people, Trance is their way of escaping,” Rich accurately points out. “Pure Trance and Trance music in general, it’s such an innocent type of music. For example, in lots of types of electronic music, people go to the event because their mates go and they think it’s sort of cool, but Trance is like, so uncool. It’s like the whipping boy of electronic music.” It is true that Trance is more often than not a punchline rather than a respected genre in the eyes of certain publications and media outlets, causing these notions to filter down to the general public. In light of this, “the fact that these events are so
Nowhere will this be more apparent than at this October’s rendition of Amsterdam Dance Event, where Pure Trance will be joining a slew of fantastic labels, many of them Trance, for a massive celebration of electronic music. The Pure Trance will eschew the maximalist vibe these festivals can sometimes emanate in favor of something, well, pure. “We decided we wanted to do something a lot more intimate than the last couple of years,” Rich explains. Orkidea and I are doing an all-night party on a boat that holds about 600 people. It’s not a back-to-back, we’re just gonna do our thing from start to finish.”
Elaborating on the philosophy of the event, Rich says, “We wanted to do something a bit more bespoke. We’re not interested in growing bigger and bigger and bigger and filling stadiums because, the way I see it, if you keep trying to get to that level, eventually there’s going to come a tipping point and you’re gonna go back the other side.” This sustainable model falls right in line with Rich’s vision for the label and the genre as a whole. Trance’s aforementioned innocence underlies every party, album, and show that the team puts on. Keeping his eye on the modest prize, Rich says, “I just want to do my own thing, have my nice little family around me, and that’s it. I just want to keep producing music that I love.”
Rich has been hard at work doing just that, finishing up his full-length album which will complete the trilogy he began in 2017. The mysteriously-titled albums are named in Morse code, an idea Rich’s graphic designer threw out that ended up sticking. “I wanted to do an eponymous album called Solarstone,” he says, “but I thought that might be a little pretentious. So I said, ‘How can we present this in a really interesting way?’ My designer sent this random idea about Morse code, and we realized we can use it in so many different ways, visual, audio, etc. and they all came together into three nice concepts.”
His recently-released EP, ‘Landmark,’ offers a glimpse into what the album will have in store. While there is no official release date yet, production is close to wrapping up. “I’ve got one last track to finish before I can release it and it’s the most complicated one,” Rich reveals. “It’s got lots of strings and everything, it’s actually quite an ambitious track, so it’s taking me a while.”
Fans also have his annual compilation, Pure Trance Vol. 8, to look forward to this October. While he wouldn’t reveal who’s mixing it during our conversation, all will be revealed during Pure Trance 200, sweetening that pot even more.
“The compilation is sort of an extension of everything; the radio show, the club events, the compilation, it’s all trying to say the same thing,” he says. “It says, ‘Trance music is alive and it’s creative, and it’s interesting and it tries to take you on a journey.’” That journey is evident on both a macro and micro scale; compilations and albums from the likes of Solarstone and other Trance legends truly sweep listeners up and carry them away, while the genre as a whole has been with us for decades, through every twist and turn.
For those who have been on the ride from the beginning, the future of Trance can seem uncertain, and the present can pale in comparison to the effervescent glory of the past. Rich, steadfast in his ability to stay true to himself and his fans, feels differently. “I wasn’t really a part of that [90’s] era. I was stuck in a rut and I didn’t really exploit the popularity of Trance at all back then,” he explains. “I was working with someone who held me back a lot, and if I had made different decisions in my career, like if I had met Paula back then, that would have been my time. But for me, the year of Trance was 2012 when I kind of rebooted my career and Pure Trance started up.”
Without hesitation, Rich says, “I personally much prefer things the way they are now. I may not be doing these massive raves in stadiums but Trance parties are still the brightest and the best, with the absolute best people. So I would say, forget about 1999, it’s all about the future. Forward forever.”
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