S.H.O.K.K.’s contribution to hard and uplifting trance music is hefty indeed, spanning two decades and responsible for timeless classics such as "Folie a deux’, 'Isn’t it All A little Strange’, as well as the massive conjuncts, ‘Amnesia’ and ‘Back To Earth’.
In this very first edition Hard Trance Europe interview, we catch up with the Swiss maestro for a quick chat....
Hi Claudio, how are you and what's been happening this week?
All good thanks, given the circumstances we are all faced with.
You've been on the Hard Trance circuit for some time, please tell us about your early years and initial breakthrough with S.H.O.K.K. how did it all get started?
It all started in Marco's (Reverb) basement. We were in the same class in school and both into trance and computers. We got to know Daniel with whom Marco then formed Flutlicht. As a DJ, Daniel was more into uplifting whilst I was drawn to harder sounds. So instead of having a 3-some project, Flutlicht and S.H.O.K.K. were born. The rest is just countless hours of experimenting driven by teenage boys, wet dreams and the passion for the music.
We just imagined how amazing it would be to have a track of ours played out loud by some reputable DJ at a rave. What it would be like to hold a pressed vinyl of your own track in your hands, play it at a gig yourself! Back then music produced solely on soft synths was regarded as "meh" by many and hardware was ridiculously expensive. But Marco had the unique gift and creativity to get those amazing sounds out of some very basic software synths. When we finished "Folie a deux" we just took a punt and sent the demo to Overdose records. As you can imagine we were over the the moon when they signed the track to sister label Pulse.
At around the same time Marco and Daniel landed their first "Flutlicht" tracks with Drizzly. "Das Siegel" was out first and I vividly remember the three of us going to "Goliath" Megarave in Switzerland. We didn't spell it out, but we all hoped someone would play it. Then, at peak time it happened, Swiss Icon DJ Snowman played it... in front of thousands, loud, it sounded ok, the crowd reacted and we were in the middle of it. It still gives me goosebump
Originally from Switzerland, but now residing in London. How much of an impact has the move had on your music career overall do you think?
The UK has been very loyal and supportive of the S.H.O.K.K. sound since it all started 20 years ago for which I am very grateful. Although I moved over for personal reasons, it did have positive side-effects. You are just more accessible e.g. it's easier for promoters to engage and book you for a gig. But more importantly - fellow DJ's and supporters have become good friends.
We have our 100th release just about to hit the digital shelves, featuring yourself and a certain vocalist, please tell us the story behind it all?
When I got married to my wife Tina last year we were looking for an acoustic singer to play at our wedding. You'll find it's not that easy to get someone who's got some dance classics up their sleeves. We were lucky enough to find HATi. Not only did she already have classics such as ‘Toca's Miracle’ in her repertoire, she learnt Above and Beyond's ‘A Thing Called Love’ specifically for us. Her performance made an already magical day even better.
When Nick and I decided we'd explore vocals for the HTE 100 collaboration, I just couldn't resist to ask HATi if she would consider lending her writing skills and voice to harder trance - and luckily she did. The result is "Force Majeure". We couldn't be happier with how it all turned out.
With just so many S.H.O.K.K. classics through the years, what are your own personal top 3 releases and why?
I'll just pick one here - Isn't it all a little strange? It's all the personal memories and excitement from back then pressed and preserved on one double-sided vinyl.
What are your general thoughts on Hard Trance music right now?
In whatever shape or form - giving people a good time is all that matters really. Hard Trance still has it in it!
You have played a big part in Hard Trance Europe since dot one, what have you been your personal highlights from the last 3 years?
The whole journey is a highlight. HTE has given me a spiritual home. It's got what it stands for in its name - simple. What continues to impress me is how Nick managed to create a sense of community through a lot of hard work and dedication. It's amazing to see it growing and be part of it. The stand-outs for me were the HTE Floor at Trance Sanctuary's 8th birthday at Fabric and HTE stage at Captured Festival Ibiza - brilliant nights! (and days!)
Any new projects you'd like to shout about for 2021?
The Force Majeure trilogy continues. The SHOCK:FORCE remix is imminent. It's their first work in five years and oh boy it's a cracker. Great to see them back. To top it all off, the remix by the mighty SHUGZ will land just in time for Xmas, so you won't need that new gym subscription to train those mince pies off, promised!
Early 2021 will see me co-mix the new Hard Trance Europe Vol. 3 CD compilation. My mix features a Laura May remix of my new tech influenced S.H.O.K.K. single "Ashes Quarry" as an exclusive premiere. I am also collaborating with fellow Swiss producer Wavetraxx for the very first time, which is currently in the making., All coming soon on HTE Recordings, so keep your eyes peeled.
Finally, you have toured the world extensively, can leave us with one amusing story from your DJ'ing escapades?
Rather embarrassing than amusing, but in the early days I did manage to fall asleep during a set!- standing! Luckily my good friend Darkmind clocked it and jumped in. In fairness it was at an after-hours party after a long week and a fair bit of drinking, but still.... not ideal.
S.H.O.K.K. & Nick The Kid feat HATi - Force Majeure is out now on HTE Recordings,
Including a SHOCK:FORCE remix - a first SF studio output in 5 years! - BUY HERE