Cosmic Gate’s DJ Bossi talks musical chemistry and the problem with festivals

In a trance: Cosmic Gate—Stefan Bossems, right, and Nic Chagall—perform at Marquee this weekend.
Gerard Henninger
Sam Glaser @sammyglaser

After 13 years, four albums, 28 singles, 46 remixes and over 1,000 shows, German trance duo Cosmic Gate is one of EDM’s most enduring acts. The Weekly caught up with Stefan “DJ Bossi” Bossems to chat teamwork, technology and the state of trance.

Cosmic Gate was born 13 years ago. What has kept you together for so long?

We have a very, very special chemistry about what we like music-wise. We’re actually pretty different guys, but it’s never about one ego. It’s always about what’s good for Cosmic Gate, and still after all these years, we like the same music, we have the same visions, and this is what’s keeping us strong.

Describe that special chemistry.

Once there is a bass sound that we like, next it’s a groove, or a melody, or a vocal, and we always put it together in a different way, and then we follow our visions. We work it for the dancefloors for, like, 90 percent, when it’s not, say, an album track that is maybe done to just chill or listen to.

What has been the biggest change during those 13 years?

It was ’98, ’99, a total different time. The sounds, the studio, everything was still analog. Say, like, 2005 things went more and more digital, so the whole production process changed. The studio looks totally different. Now we’re sitting in front of our MacBooks, but actually how we work didn’t really change. It’s more where the sounds are coming from. Now it’s plug-ins, before it was synthesizers and drum computers—it was freaking hot in the summer!

Besides the technology, how has the industry evolved most?

Man, actually it’s two different worlds. The maybe biggest aspect that changed is that whole marketing thing. Like DJs, producers, bands that had a big following that you maybe built during many years; today you have hundreds of thousands or maybe millions of followers on Facebook and Twitter. Record companies are not that important anymore. You can build your own brand; you can let your fans directly know what’s going on.

What is trance’s role in EDM today?

Actually, trance is very, very big, but it’s not big under the name of trance. Most of the big DJs that play this mix, the whole world calls it EDM, but there is a lot of trance influence in these songs. It’s not with the typical trance bass lines; it’s slower, it’s more in a house-y context, but the melodies and the harmonies that are used, there is a lot of trance in it.

How does the Cosmic Gate experience differ from club to festival?

Club sets are longer, you play two or three hours, while on a festival you play an hour. There is no journey. … You just have the highlights, it’s more punchy. Most DJs just bang it out—there are no ups and downs, there’s just go, go, go. While in the club, you’re closer to the people, the energy flows back and forth, there’s an intimate kind of connection between the DJ and the crowd.

A lot of artists crank out singles and remixes. Why have you always been more EP- and album-oriented?

Back in the vinyl time, we liked to have one melodic track, and then the other more bouncy. This is maybe the two hearts that we have inside of us and what we always try to give to the people. … Now we like albums. We can tell a better story and show our variety of what we are capable and what we really like only in an album. Because a single these days, it has to be pumping. On an album you can do different stuff that maybe is not necessarily made for a dancefloor.

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