Susana, the face behind the vocals
WHEN IT COMES TO trance music, the first few things that come to mind is that it is fast-paced and revolves around a particular melodic phrase which is repeated and built up and down throughout the track.
What people may not be aware of is that there are several subgenres in trance music that are differentiated by their beats, tones, messages, and intent. There’s hard trance, Ibiza Trance, Happy Hardcore, trance fusion, and there is vocal trance, which focuses more on vocals and melodies.
While trance vocalists have been part of the industry since the genre started developing in the early 90s, today they are becoming more prominent and better recognised in the music industry. Recently The Borneo Post SEEDS got to meet one unique individual whose vocal career began early on in the electronic dance music (EDM) industry, simply known as Susana.
Born in 1984 and growing up in Amsterdam, Susana discovered her talent and passion in singing from an early age. In high school, she was the lead singer for an alternative rock band which gave her the chance to develop her lyric writing as well as learning how to perform. She had also begun taking professional singing lessons with Kirsten Schotteldreier, a conservatory schooled opera singer when she was 15 years old.
“I never really explored electronic dance music (EDM) or anything of its kind until I was 19 years old when a friend of my family introduced me to producers Raz Nitzan and Adrian Broekhuyse who also produce vocals for a lot of DJs including Armin van Buuren and Ferry Corsten; that’s how things started,” she told The Borneo Post SEEDS when met during the A Land of Trance (ALOT2014) music festival held here recently.
The first trance collaboration Susana did was for Ernesto vs Bastian’s single called ‘Dark Side of The Moon’.
“Armin van Buuren – a prominent figure in the EDM scene – got interested in working with me after he heard the track I did with Ernesto vs Bastian and we eventually ended up doing ‘Shivers’ together.”
‘Shivers’ was the first single to be released from Armin’s second studio album in 2005, it was released on the Armada record label which also pushed everything – including Susana – into the spotlight.
Susana also went on several tours with Armin around the world, which gave her even more prominence. She received tremendous response from the audiences especially fans of EDM and trance music.
On what she liked about trance music, Susana said, “I love trance music, I love the scenes, I love the crowd and that had eventually made me realised that I really do have passion for trance.”
Susana is currently a full-time trance vocalist. She also writes lyrics and does radio shows as well.
“One thing that I came to realise is that I am a singer in a DJ-dominated scene. The scenes revolve around electronic music and DJs. I feel like an instrument that people put on tracks, not as an artist in their own right,” she said of one of her challenges in trance music.
Nevertheless, she also said that this had changed over the years, where DJs have brought the singers they work with on stage and given them stage presence.
“Social media has also really helped vocalists like me to profile ourselves as more than just a voice being hired for a track, but as an artist or vocalist which in just a matter of time will be on equal footing with DJs,” she added saying that trance fans also love to see the singers behind their favourite tracks live on stage and meet them personally.
During ALOT2014, apart from ‘Shivers’, Susana also performed a track called ‘RAMelia’, which she co-wrote with DJ Ram – also from Amsterdam – in dedication to his wife, Amelia, who had passed away.
The track was voted #2 for Tune of the Year 2013 on Armin’s weekly radio show ‘A State of Trance (ASOT)’.
“The emotions at the time of writing this piece was so real and fresh and it has touched many people who got overwhelmed by this song saying that it helps them to grief or deal with their own loss.”
For Susana, her inspiration in trance music comes from many places like her personal experiences travelling and seeing other parts of the world. However, she noted that most of her inspiration comes from the music and the emotions they bring up.
Her travels and tours have taken her all around the world including Spain, Russia, the United States, Malaysia, and parts of Latin America.
ALOT2014 gave her the chance to visit Borneo for the first time. “Borneo is so pretty. When I arrived here, I saw nice places and I am glad to be here as I can spend my two days visit in such a magical place with a very good temperature very much different than home. It makes me feel that I am in summer again. The crowd here is also very intense, their energy is very present.”
On the future of trance music here, Susana added, “Looking at the mainstream artists who focus more on EDM, I’m not really worried. I think it is a good thing that music as a form of art should not be regarded as much of a genre but should have fusions between different styles of music that can make it even more interesting.
“At the end of the day, music is all about emotions. Everything goes in waves with different stages and every each of it there will always be people who love and those who will criticize it. That is good because it keeps music interesting, so I am not worried about what the future of trance music holds, but I am really excited to see what’s the next few years will bring.”
Her advice to aspiring artistes who want to break into the musical industry is: “Obviously you need to have musical talent and work really hard for it. It is also useful to have good connections and influences which make you even luckier to grow in this industry since now there’s many talented people around the world. Don’t stop believing in your dream and never give up achieving it.”