Receiving kudos and support from industry heavyweights such as Tiësto, Pete Tong and Carl Cox, native Russian Serge Devant chats about his first artist album, his Soundgarden remix and why he doesn’t play trance.
Wanderer was released in June. How did you decide which vocalists to work with?
I went and researched the tracks that I liked and used to play myself and decided to reach out to [vocalist] Emma Hewitt. Nadia Ali, we’ve been friends for a while, and she’s on the record as well. I also like to look for undeveloped talent, so I posted an ad on my MySpace that I was looking for people, and I got a bunch of responses and picked Hadley, who appears on four tracks on my album.
How involved are you in writing the lyrics?
Most of the stuff was written by me and my co-writer, Danny Inzerillo, one of my close friends for years.
In a Beatportal interview, you said you “don’t make or play trance.” Why?
I guess 10 years ago, there was only, like, three genres: house, trance and whatever else [laughing]. Nowadays, producers get so creative with music that it’s really hard to put your finger on what exactly it is. It could be a tech-y record with some trance elements. Then somebody’s going to say, “Hey. This is trance.” And somebody else is going to say, “No! It’s progressive!” I try to step away from the whole labeling thing. Maybe I’ll produce a melodic track with some synth lines which could borderline what some people would say is a bit trance-y, but I don’t play trance in my DJ sets.
How did your recent remix of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” come about?
When I was growing up, that was always on MTV with the crazy, bugged-out video that totally freaked me out all the time. But I loved the song. Then I lost touch with it.
I was over at my friend’s house playing Rock Band and saw “Black Hole Sun.” I was like, “I love this song. I wonder if anybody’s remixed it,” as I’m drumming away. So I went and researched and Googled, and there was not one remix that I could find anywhere. I was like, “Oh my God. Nobody’s touched this classic? I’ve got to take it upon myself and do it.” So that’s how it happened. Afterwards, I took the original file of the video and edited it myself to my remix to make things more creepy.
You have years of classical music training. Would you ever do a live performance, maybe with keys or synths onstage?
I’m just using CDJs and some effects. Nothing too complicated. There’s a lot of guys who do the whole computer thing and try to say they’re live, but to me, just standing and playing a track from a computer and turning knobs, I don’t consider it a live act. Unless they come up with some creative way and a step above just having a computer on the stage, to me, I’m not going to touch the whole live act. So it’s just DJing for now.
In the future, I don’t cross out the possibility of trying something creative onstage. But I am going to have some vocalists. I’m having Emma and Hadley perform a few dates with me, so I’ll have a live element to the show. Both of them will be with me in Vegas.
How do you think Wanderer translates to the dance floor?
I play close to half of the album in my set. I didn’t want to make the whole album club tracks, because to me, an album is more for listening; it’s not going to be played live in clubs. I wanted to give variety to the listener, something for everybody to enjoy.