His next remix is one that Steve Allen asked him to do. “How can you say no to Steve Allen?” said the 33-year-old Scottish Trance producer, Alan Wyse. “I loved the original (Re-Given) that he and Jess Morgan did. I remember I was busy when he asked me because I was doing the “You Are” collaboration with Sue McLaren for Paul van Dyk‘s Music Rescues Me album, but I just couldn’t say no.”
Saying no is something that hasn’t been in Alan’s vocabulary as of late. With over ten remixes to his credit, he thrives on the ability to please others. “To be honest, sometimes it’s easier to remix because you have a starting point,” admitted Alan. “But, other times it’s difficult.” Case in point to the difficulty is his upcoming November remix of the Steve Allen track. Alan’s approach to the typically uplifting original song is a harder, Tech drive. To keep the extreme, uplifting sound known to Steve Allen, Alan found it extremely difficult. “It was a hell of a challenge. I struggled with that one,” said Alan in his easily understandable Scottish radio voice.
“I love playing other people’s stuff,” said an enthusiastic Alan as he sat in his red and black themed studio – more on that later. “One of my favorite artists to work with is Claire Willis. I know her personally, and she has such a beautiful, unique voice. Sometimes, when she creates a new song, she’ll email me asking if I want to remix it, and I’m like, ‘Shit, well of course!’ It’s probably to my determent. I should probably focus on originals more, but if it’s worthwhile doing, I’ll do it.”
As we continued to settle in for our chat, Alan described that the only reason he got into dance music was that his parents used to host parties and he was in charge of the music as a child. “I used to do the old twin tape decks and use the record and pause buttons to make mixtapes,” reminisced a laughing Alan. “Even when I ten-years-old, I got the structure of music and the way it was supposed to flow. I would wait for the build-up then release the pause button and record it on the other tape then search for another tape to put in while it was recording. You had to get it just so!”
In school, Alan learned to mix vinyl during lunch with his friends. “There were two belt drive record decks and a 2-channel mixer with four records,” remembered Alan. “That was it! But we had a lot of fun doing it!” The extent of his musical training in school ended there. “I can’t read music. I can’t tell you what a D# is,” admitted Alan. “I could probably guess what key a track is in today just from experience, but I had no formal musical training.”
Thanks to the advancement in production software, there are certainly pros and cons for users like Alan, who don’t have a music theory background. “It takes longer to write chords and melodies,” said Alan. “I have a friend who plays the piano and can touch three notes, and it works. For me, I can hear in my head how I want it to sound, but it takes a lot of trial and error to find the correct progression.”
You may be already concluding this is why Alan prefers remixes – because the melodies are already there. This is not the case. The truth is, it takes a tremendous amount of effort to provide someone with a quality remade product, almost a competition to the original, in a given timeline. It’s something he thrives upon. “When I have a goal, I have to do it, and I know what I want to do with it,” said an adamant Alan. “When I’m working on an original, it can sit for months on end.”
However, with that said, his last three releases have been originals and received critical acclaim – his latest release, “Knockout,” with Amir Hussain has been his most well-received track thus far. The above-mentioned, “You Are,” with Paul van Dyk and Sue McLaren is the only full uplifting track that Alan has produced but remarkably has been the most popular single from the Music Rescues Me album. “Balboa” was inspired by the “Rocky” movies and is a tech-driven, nasty track – in a good way!
With his well-positioned camera pointing to his himself sitting in his red and black gaming chair, and his production screen showing on his desktop monitor in the background, Alan began to tell why his studio is so special to him. “Some people can sit on their bed with a laptop and headphones and create incredible music. I can’t do that,” revealed Alan. “It’s all a mindset, but I feel and act more professional in a studio setting, and it shows through in my work, I think.” He continued, “My studio is in my garage! I converted the garage doors to patio doors, so it’s like another room, completely. My production level rose when I put the time and effort into my studio. Plus, it looks really cool!”
Speaking of the time and effort it took to build it, I first asked Alan, “Why red?” “You want the truth?” Alan asked. “It’s the speakers,” as he turned in his chair and pointed to his now-infamous red Monkey Banana Turbo 8’s. “You can only get them in red or black and I didn’t want a black studio,” Alan said more enthusiastically by the second. “I even painted my KRK Rockit 5’s red to match!” As he panned his phone around, I could see the red carpet, ceiling, and get this; a red mini-refrigerator stocked with beer for when his friends come over. “I never intended to go this far with it. I didn’t! But, once I started, my OCD wouldn’t let me stop!” He laughingly concluded with, “Here’s the interesting thing, my favorite color is blue!”
The red and black studio has served Alan well. When he’s not working his regular job as a mechanical engineer, he uses it as an escape. “The studio is a place to forget,” Alan proclaimed. “It’s somewhere I can go to get away from it all.” And, while we’re all emotional creatures, Alan doesn’t feel the need to take his emotions out through his music anymore. “I used to,” Alan admitted. “There’s a track called, “Rampage,” that I did where the title suggests what kind of mood I was in. But, anymore, I don’t let my emotions dictate my music in that way. I’m much calmer now.”
With his full-time job and his production work, Alan still enjoys DJing and has shows lined up in the coming months in Slovakia and at home in Scotland performing with the likes of his friend, Amir Hussain, Sean Tyas, and up-and-comer, Ashley Bradbury. As much as he would like to play more, Alan is comfortable with not chasing gigs like many artists. “Don’t get me wrong,” Alan proclaimed. “I enjoy doing what I do. I enjoy traveling and visiting other countries, but if I did it all the time, it would bore me. I don’t think I would enjoy always waiting for flights and the lot. I like having the stability of my job and being able to produce what I want when I want.”
And, his production numbers show it. Alan isn’t on a record label’s schedule to produce “X” number of tracks per year, and he’s perfectly content with that. Yet, his music has been supported by practically every well-known name in Trance. I asked him why he thinks his music has reached the Trance elite. “I don’t really know, to be honest,” Alan thoughtfully said. Some are friends of mine, but I guess the short answer is I prefer quality over quantity, and I got lucky.”
After a little pressing, Alan said, “The more detailed answer is that the Paul van Dyk track was actually a fluke. The track with Amir was a drunk moment when we met in Manchester! We decided to do what you do when you’re out, and we said, ‘Let’s make a track together!’ That was two and a half years ago! And, the “Balboa” song was sent to Heatbeat who have a label, AERYS, that’s a sub-label of Armada Music through the recommendation of a friend in Mexico,” Alan detailed. This, coupled with a few plays on A State Of Trance, where the top producers / DJs take notice, are just some of the odd yet obvious reasons why.
With his scattered engineering hours and continued production work, Alan still finds time to compose his monthly StreetWyse Sessions radio program. Much like a DJ set, the show begins with the lighter fare of Trance and progresses to proper Tech and Hard Trance by the end. “I enjoy doing the transition and growing the show with the 60 minutes,” Alan smilingly said. “It keeps me fresh on the decks as well.” Along with his selection of music, Alan also provides a unique flavor to the show by inviting listeners, and even artists of the songs, to send in audio shout-outs to blend in with the beginning of each track. “It gives a personal touch to the show,” Alan said. “It makes me feel productive. It feels good when someone halfway around the world appreciates what you do and sends in their message.”
In the end, Alan Wyse is a man who enjoys the puzzle-piecing way of life, but more importantly, he’s doing it on his terms.