Craig Connelly In Conversation with Ervahl & PartyOwl !
You can certainly feel an evolution/revolution in his music. He recently released his debut album 'One Second Closer' and the album has already reached the top of the trance charts. While many artists are switching their musical style, he is still going strong with trance. The man behind tracks like 'Black Hole', 'History', 'Like Whatever' and many others. He is Craig Connelly.
As Craig will be soon flying down to India for his 2 city album tour. We got an opportunity to have a conversation with him. Also Joining us in this exchange of thoughts is Sagar Dawani (Ervahl), our very own trance wizard from Indore, India. So without any further ado let's dive into Craig's musical mind :)
Ervahl: Hey Craig! First off, Congratulations on releasing your album and starting a new Record Label! I can't imagine what you must be feeling in terms of accomplishment. How long did the entire album take to produce and finalize?
I’ve had a lot of these melodies / chords and ideas for years, they just never made it into the more club records I’ve made in that time. That being said the writing process I guess started as far back as 2011 (I wrote the backing for How Can I that long ago). The actual graft work of doing all the production started at the start of 2016 and finished around November 16. I only really committed to an album in the summer when I had 90% of the ideas and could see it would turn out good, as I couldn't put something mediocre out there. The hardest part which was surprising was engineering 'How Can I' and remaking 'Black Hole'. On paper they sound fairly simple in terms of a production but they both drove me up the wall. Everything else came together fairly easily, but those two were shocking to finish haha.
Ervahl: Yeah! so true, It takes a lot of time & creativity to craft an album. But when you finally create it, it’s the Eureka moment that you had been waiting for. Can you describe the thought process and creation of your album, “One Second Closer”?
Well I figured that I could make club music stood on my head but rarely do I have a chance to express myself in this way. Therefore the main focus was to write trance records in a way a singer could write a real song with real meaning to it. I aimed to make this record as melodic as possible, giving as much emotion and feeling as I could. The arrangements are designed in the best way to emphasise the meaning of the song rather than the generic dance music formula. Overall a story telling record.
PartyOwl: There's always a story behind the title of a song but the story becomes much deeper when it comes to naming an album. What's the reason behind the name "One Second Closer"?
I like to leave this title open to my listeners interpretation rather than insisting what it is about. The journey on the album is as much about the listeners experience as it is mine creating it, so my listeners can define One Second Closer however they like. Personally I experience it as my journey from where I was to where I want to go, the passing of time, and also my journey to ultimately the end of my days where I believe, I’ll see my father again.
We’re all on a limited timeline and our time can be up in a heartbeat so we should spend everyday doing what we absolutely love, keeping the end in the back of your mind helps you enjoy the present. This is coming from someone who has spent their life worrying unnecessarily which has escalated at times to almost depression levels, but when I lost my dad it all just hit home that what I was worrying about just wasn’t worth it at all. I try to keep this in mind daily but sometimes I slip back into my old worry habits, One Second Closer as an album project and a title/experience reminds me to stay present in the moment. If you were looking for a deep answer, there you go… haha.
PartyOwl: When an album is crafted, all the learnings and moments of an Artist's life are put together. Can you share one special memory or moment related with ‘Once second closer’ with us?
The main two themes throughout the album are ‘Human Experience’ and ‘Passing Time’. Doesn't make much sense right? haha!. Let me explain. A lot of trance albums are lacking real human elements to them, lyrically and musically so I wanted to bring that back, songs that actually mean something that people can relate to. Human Experience is found in these tracks for example: despair in love is explored in How Can I, Stay & Black Hole, the divisive times we are currently facing in the world with Elevate & Battleground, We Are explores an alternative side to a broken relationship, and One More Shot is a feel good look at not giving up on your dreams. An overall message of optimism is portrayed with not just the lyrics but the chords and progressions.
Ervahl: When did you start writing music? Did you get any classical training or do you have a musical background?
I actually started writing music as early as 11 (albeit very badly). I played guitar badly then piano badly but somehow got better at writing when I hit 25ish. I got into music production itself at about 16 but only really wrote decent music in my 20’s once I learned more about song writing.
Ervahl: Where does the motivation come from when you start with a blank slate? What’s your production process?
As previously mentioned a lot of these ideas have been around for years and just needed to be married to the right vocalist or top line so the slate was never completely blank. The key part of the process was making the demos for the vocalists as good as possible so we could yield good results with finding the right singers. Then once we have the vocals nailed over the demos its just a case of the long haul of going through the production process on each track.
PartyOwl: Over the years we have seen you dedicate yourself to uplifting and progressive style. While Trance lovers want their idols to carry the same style forever, do you plan to bring some changes in your musical style or even start a side project?
I want to make basically whatever music I want and I think I have shown that with the album. I don't just stick to uplifting or progressive, I just work the track into whatever style best fits the music im writing. I am considering some alias’s for different sounds, something deeper and more underground maybe. We will see what the next 12 months hold.
Ervahl: What are you looking for ‘Higher Forces’ and what are your plans for 'Higher Forces Radio'?
Everything from progressive trance / house all the way through to more banging uplifting sounds. We really just wanna hear amazing music. The bar is set really high, we’re not doing it for the money so won’t be releasing music every week, just the best new singles we can find.
PartyOwl: Many of the producers that you know including Gareth have toured India. What have they told you about the Scene here in India and is this your first visit here?
This is my first visit to India yes. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the scene in India, a lot of my DJ mates have mentioned about the educated crowds and great atmosphere so im really looking forward to showcasing my new sounds with you guys.
PartyOwl & Ervahl: Thank you so much, Craig, for all the Honest to Heart answers, It feels amazing to connect with great minds. Now before we get over with this conversation, can you share some tips for aspiring producers, both technical and musical?
Thanks guys! Focus entirely on the music and melodies. Far too often producers think that a good record is about the mix/production when the reality is the music wins peoples hearts, the production is just the delivery. Start every track with an amazing melody / chord sequence, and don't settle for less than amazing.
So that was Craig Connelly sharing his thought process with us. Much love to Craig and Ervahl for joining us in one of the most heartfelt conversations ever. This was great! To our reader, you can listen to full album below and buy it on Beatport. (Link) or better, you can listen him live in on 7th April at Hylife Brewing Company Hyderabad and 8th April at Blue Frog Bangalore.
Image credits : rickyleepotts.com