For the past two years, Get Together has been a rallying point for both the Blueprint Family and VTF: a chance to share in the music we love and celebrate how far we have collectively come as a community. With Family Day weekend & #G2G2015 fast approaching, we at Blueprint felt it was high time that Vancouver take a moment to really dig in and learn what the Vancouver Trance Family (VTF) is all about.
Within VTF there are many key players, however, Aly Abji has been an ever growing presence since he first discovered VTF when it was is its infancy in 2010. Shortly after he took on a managing role within VTF and ever since he has continued to work alongside those who also shared his same passion and dream.
As we eagerly awaited #G2G2015 Blueprint sat down with Aly to reflect on VTF past, present, and future, local rising stars, VTF’s partnership with Blueprint, and most importantly—why trance fans should be excited for #G2G2015:
Blueprint: To start off, can you explain a bit about the Vancouver Trance Family (VTF) and what it means both to yourself and Vancouver trance fans?
Aly Abji: The Vancouver Trance Family started out as a Facebook group way back in 2010 to help the trance fans of Vancouver stay up to date on related events and to help people meet each other. Over the past 5 years it has grown to 7000 members and has now become one of the main hubs of the electronic dance music scene in Vancouver. We are more than just a Facebook group now; we are a well-developed and active community of fans, promoters, DJs, and producers.
While our roots and our passions lie with trance music itself, the community consists of people with all kinds of tastes in electronic music and has drawn the attention of many as we’ve been able to create a friendly fan-first environment that allows for the freedom of expression and a shared passion for music.
VTF’s core goal has always been to grow and develop the trance and electronic music scene in Vancouver. From a trance fan’s perspective, it’s not just music but a whole lifestyle that comes along with being a fan. There are so many great people involved within the Vancouver electronic music scene and it’s been such a treat to watch VTF become such an integral part as everyone has worked so hard to try to unite the scene and grow it into what it is today.
Blueprint: How has the scene shown growth in the last few years and what does this mean for the future of trance in Vancouver?
Aly Abji: Over the past few years we’ve seen a rise in the number of big name DJs that come to our city and the number of fans that come out to those shows. In our early days we worked hard to put on shows featuring local DJs: this allowed us to bring people together in the real world so that they could meet each other and build long lasting genuine connections. This sparked a wave of evolution as we began to work with local promoters to help bring out the DJs that the fans really want to see. Now when you go to a trance show in Vancouver you are never alone, just look around for a VTF shirt and you know you’re with family.
It’s such a cool environment to have had a hand in creating and the positive feedback has been overwhelming. To be honest we feel as though things are just getting started. If you look at the Get Together lineup this year it’s stacked full of some of the best trance acts in the world. Being able to work with Blueprint on a show like this is huge for us because the things that Blueprint does falls directly in line with our goals.
Blueprint: VTF has a number of resident DJs, for both diehard fans and those just getting in to the trance scene can you shine a spotlight on some of VTF’s most promising talent?
Aly Abji: We’ve always been about building up our local talent. It’s been my personal belief since the beginning that best way to build our scene and share our music is to have more DJs and producers making and playing the music that we love. Here’s a list of some names to watch:
1) Somna (aka Benjamin Leung) – He’s been around for a long time and recently has had some huge tracks come out which have gotten plays on A State Of Trance. He’s been working with some great vocalists like Jennifer Rene, Betsie Larkin and Michele C, and he’s got a monthly podcast called Somna Sessions.
2) The Noble Six – This guy is going to be huge! Recently he’s been featured on John O’Callaghan’s ‘Subculture – The Residents – Triple CD’ compilation. He’s been producing some huge tracks as of late and is definitely one to watch.
3) Brad & Victor H – These guys have been around for a while and have started to release some great music of their own. They like to mix things up a bit but their roots are in trance. Brad is also one half of the duo ‘COMBO BREAKER!’ who’s been a big part of the new Blueprint project RELIVE THE FEELS.
4) Giles Bjerke –Giles has been DJing for close to a decade and can now be found warming up the decks for some of the biggest international trance headliners when they come to Vancouver. Giles is a DJ that really plays from his heart and allows the music the drive him. With the experience he’s gained behind the decks over the last few years he’s at the top of his game and I think he’s only going to get better.
5) Luke Boyle-Stafford – He was one of our VTF DJ Contest winners a couple of years back and has since grown to be one of the go-to guys for trance support. He’s one of the most versatile DJs in the city able to flawlessly traverse: trance, progressive house, techno and deep house. It’s a real joy to be able to work with Luke as he’s started getting into the studio now and we’ll be working on a project together later this year.
Blueprint: Over the years Blueprint Events has worked closely with the VTF to curate the best trance event possible throughout the city: how have the two groups worked in tangent over the years to foster trance within Vancouver?
Aly Abji: Blueprint and VTF have a long history which goes back to VTF’s early days. Given that Blueprint brings a large number of trance acts it was a natural bond. VTF wants to see their favourite DJs and music represented in this city and Blueprint has a massive role in making that happen. Having worked on projects such as the VTF Sessions Series at L.E.D. Bar, regular trance events at Celebrities for Stereotype Fridays, as well as various shows at Caprice, Shine, The Commodore Ballroom and Blueprint’s massives, it’s clear how much we have been able to work together in a very successful way that benefits our scene and our VTF goals. It’s been such a great ride so far working with Blueprint and I’m excited for what the future will bring!
Blueprint: On Feburary 8th Blueprint is putting on the third annual Get Together at the Pacific Coliseum, and this year more than ever the lineup is trance focused. Why should trance fans be excited for #G2G2015?
Aly Abji: That’s an easy question to answer. If you look at the line-up for #G2G2015 this year it’s stacked full of some of VTF’s very favourite DJs, and this is the first time VTF has really come on board with a company like Blueprint Events to help present such a massive show. Gareth Emery has always had a special place in the hearts of Vancouverites and he came here very regularly before he gained global popularity. To this day he calls Vancouver one of his favourite places to play.
The rest of the lineup is also stellar, and I will talk about that later, but to top it all off, you’ve got our local masters of true progressive music, the UNIONdjs. Only one name stands out apart from the trance guys, Will Sparks. They call him the king of Melbourne Bounce for a reason and was recently voted Australia’s #1 DJ.
In my personal opinion this is the best line-up I’ve seen for a massive in Vancouver in years and there is something for everyone. It’s so nice to have this on Family Day weekend along with our Vancouver Trance Family, it’s just so fitting. There are very rare occasions such as Armin Only where we can really get all of the VTF out to be together as one—and #G2G2015 is definitely one of those times.
Blueprint: How have Gareth Emery, Myon and Shane 54, Ilan Bluestone, and Jaytech contributed to the global trance scene and what makes them stand out in the crowded dance music landscape?
Aly Abji: I’m not sure we could cover each of these superstar’s total contributions in a single question, but I can speak to some of their greatest accomplishments from my own perspective:
Gareth Emery has always been a DJ/producer who plays what he loves. He’s been a master of trance music since the early 2000’s. He’s produced some of the biggest tunes in the genre’s history and he’s always taken risks to do what he loves and be honest with himself and his fans. Gareth is a trendsetter on the global dance music scene and he stays humble about it.
Myon & Shane 54 are known as the mashup kings of dance music: they produced probably the biggest mashup of all time in my personal opinion ‘On A Good Day Metropolis.’ Their weekly radio show International Departures is always a must-listen and continuously brings fresh new music every week in a fun and creative way. Along with being such talented musicians, they bring a lot of personality to their shows and they leave a long lasting impression on their fans.
Ilan Bluestone was the biggest breakthrough artist on Above & Beyond’s Anjunabeats label in 2014. He’s worked very closely with Jerome Isma-Ae one of the veterans in the dance music scene and produced big hits such as Spheres, Big Ben, Tension, Snapdragon, and Under My Skin. He’s got to be one of the most consistent producers in dance music today pumping out hit after hit.
Jaytech is one of the pioneers of Above & Beyond’s Anjunadeep label. Over the years he’s evolved into his own experimenting with progressive beats while dipping a bit into electro house. He’s a very humble guy, very focused on his music. The consistent quality he’s been able to produce along with his impressive DJ skills has made him a force to be reckoned with. He’s recently launched his own label called Positronic Digital and I think this has really opened up a new era for him to experiment with his unique blend of sounds.
Blueprint: Finally, in your opinion what is 2015’s trance forecast?
Aly Abji: I think the momentum is only going to build. On an international scale we’ve seen the sound of trance evolve a lot and it has forced fans to explore all ends of the trance spectrum. Recently in Vancouver we’ve seen some big uplifting and harder trance acts come to town and it just goes to show that the higher 138-140 BPMs are still strongly coveted by trance fans around the world.
Coming up the same weekend as #G2G2015 we’ll have Simon Patterson playing the pre-party for Stereotype Fridays at Celebrities. In my personal opinion Simon Patterson is probably the best trance DJs in the world right now. He brings a wicked mixture of techno, trance and psytrance—he just puts it together unlike anybody else. I think we’re going to see a lot more of these kinds of sounds coming into the spotlight this year in parallel with the more progressive house and EDM trance that is currently so successful.
On the local end of the spectrum it’s clear given all the great shows that we have coming to this city and with #G2G2015 specifically that trance is just getting bigger and better. It makes me so happy to see where we’ve come since our early days with VTF to be able to have such a large-scale impact on our local scene and to do it in a way that brings people together and helps everyone be successful. Trance will always be an ever-evolving genre but the spirit and community that it brings together is something that will continue to grow and shape its direction.
There can be no doubt that the VTF has a bright future in the Vancouver dance music scene, and what better way to show the overall community that they can come out in force than #G2G2015. With a slew of trance superstars there is simply no way trance fans can miss this one.
– Ryan Hayes