Sam Laxton, the prominent Newcastle-bred trance producer who’s making waves across the trance scene in Thailand, has released a banger titled ‘Temptations’ today.

We interview the skillfully talented artist on his new release, his move to Thailand from the UK, and his thoughts on the trance scene in the country.

Three years ago, rising trance music producer Sam Laxton made a notable decision to fly to Thailand, away from his home in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

That isn’t to say the British DJ has been relaxing on the other side of the world. After being hit with strict lockdown regulations due to COVID, as music fans eagerly await the country to slowly reopen its nightclubs, Sam is busy at work churning out epic track after track including the highly emotive single ‘Start Again’ and uplifting melodic tune ‘Rocha’.

‘Temptations’, Sam’s latest track released via renowned DJ Andy Moor’s AVA Recordings label, has already gained support from some of trance music’s biggest stars including Paul Van Dyk and Andrew Rayel.

Being classically trained in piano at the young age of four, Sam employs the use of a beautiful piano breakdown that welcomes listeners to feel the emotion behind the music, and entices us to get back to dance, whenever regulations are lifted. Hopefully real soon!

We chat with Sam on his latest release and his thoughts on the trance music scene in Thailand.

AsiaLive365: Hi Sam, Nicky here from AsiaLive365! Tell us more about yourself. I noticed you started off with dubstep for the first few years, but what got you into trance?

Sam Laxton: I’ve always loved trance music the most. Growing up in the UK, I was interested in the trance classics from the likes of Tiesto or Ferry Corsten, but I never started releasing my own music until 2015. Around 2013, I was making dubstep which was very big around the time, and I was lucky to have a small breakthrough on social media before changing my direction.

AL365: You’ve been living in Thailand for some time now! What made you come here?

Sam: As of October 2021, I have lived in Thailand for 3 years which is crazy when I think about it! I am staying here long term, or as long as I can, as I really feel comfortable here and it has so many things to enjoy. It has also been good for my music, as I am much more inspired living here.

AL365: As you know, lockdown has been in place here in the country for some time although places are slowly reopening. As a DJ, has this year been challenging for you?

Sam: The most significant changes in my life have included not seeing my family for 2 years, and not being able to go to a club and play music or dance. Unfortunately, the travel situation does not make it possible to travel between the UK or Thailand without bureaucratic stress or quarantines, so I am waiting until the situation improves before I see my family again.

Fortunately, I can still connect with fans around the world on social media, and stream live sets with partnered brands such as Trance Lovers Thailand or LEO Thailand. It’s these things that can take your mind off the situation and keep you going!

AL365: You have just released a new track called ‘Temptations’ via AVA Recordings, and it has seen support from DJs such as Paul Van Dyk in his VONYC Sessions series. I’ve listened to it, and I gotta say, it has a beautiful piano breakdown. How did the track come about, and why name it like so?

Sam: Yes, ‘Temptations’ has just been released today! It was a really fun track to make as it has a big peak time club vibe in the drops, paired with that majestic piano breakdown.

The main focus for me whenever approaching a new track is that it has a very strong kick and bass. Some producers fall into a trap of using the same kicks and bass in their tracks because it is safe, so I try to avoid that and create my own signature sound a different way.

I had been listening to a lot of trance from 2007-2009 at the time, especially from Armin Van Buuren’s ‘A State of Trance’, and Tiesto’s ‘In Search of Sunrise’ compilations. The electro-tinged tracks around that time had something really special about them so I wanted to recreate that feeling. As for the title, I feel it works well for the new single!

AL365: Would you say the piano has been a core element for your music?

Sam: Absolutely. I have been classically trained as a pianist since the age of 4, eventually breaking off when I moved to university. Having a knowledge of music theory is essential to making music and I would recommend it as the first thing to learn before diving into the software side of things.

AL365: For ‘Temptations’, which artists did you listen to for inspiration?

Sam: Since I was listening to trance from 2007-2009, there was a lot of inspiration from artists of that time. One track in particular that I wanted to reimagine is DJ Eremit’s ‘Tanz Der Seele (Y.O.M.C. Club Mix)’. If you have time to check that out, I definitely recommend it!

 

AL365: You’re also set to release a collab single with James Dymond at the end of next month. What can you tell us about this song?

Sam: At the moment I cannot reveal too much, but we are really happy with this new collaboration. Our last single together was ‘Outbound’ on Aly & Fila’s Future Sound of Egypt label, which was really successful and is a highlight of my career since I always wanted to work with James.

The new single takes a different path. It is darker, there is no ‘big epic breakdown’, and has a mix of sounds from classic trance, breakbeats, psytrance. I also managed to record some acid lines from my Behringer TD-3, which is my first time using hardware for a trance track.

AL365: Your tracks usually don’t have any vocals however, they are recently featured in ‘Start Again’. What was the creative decision behind it?

I think it is just a coincidence that my own music does not feature many vocals, since I’m always happy to do remixes for other vocal tracks. It is also harder to convey my creative thinking when working with vocalists since they also have an idea of what they think the song should sound like. However in this case, working with Gid Sedgwick on ‘Start Again’ was very easy. Working with Rene Ablaze, I was sent his draft version of the song without any vocals, and I remade it on my side so that it was a 50/50 effort. After this, we sent the instrumental to Gid, and he layered his vocals on top. Simple!

AL365: Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?

Sam: There are people out there who think I don’t release enough solo tracks, so my focus will be on those for a while, but I would love to collaborate with some all-time heroes such as Paul Van Dyk or Activa. I think that would be epic.

AL365: How long does it take for you to produce one track?

Sam: The creative process can take days, sometimes weeks – it really depends if I’m feeling the mood of the track. If I write the melody first, then normally the rest will follow quickly. If I have no melody then it can drive me crazy haha!

After the creative process, I bounce everything down to individual channels and send them off for a full mixdown and mastering. This can take a couple of weeks. I really want to have the best quality releases these days, and waiting a bit longer for the mixdown/mastering is worth it.

AL365: What would you say are important elements to create a great track?

Sam: Specifically in trance, you need to have a catchy melody, strong and clear low end so that the kick and bass work well in the club, and you need to have a really good sound choice. If your kick and bass is powerful but you have a bad melody, the track will flop, and vice versa. There are a lot of other factors but the above are important to me.

AL365: For 2021, we’ve listened to some great tunes from you including the aforementioned collab track with Rene Blaze on ‘Start Again’ with heartfelt vocals from Gid Sedgwick, and ‘Rocha’ which is steadily becoming a personal fave of mine with its emotional buildup.

What would you say has been your personal favourite track to produce this year?

Sam: My personal favourite from this year is not released until next year, but it is by far my favourite I have ever done. It is already doing the rounds as an ‘ID’ and there’s many comments asking about whose track it is. I’m really excited to reveal it!

AL365: How do you name your titles to your songs? Do they all tell a personal story?

Sam: Most of the time they are picked at random, or decided after I write the melody. The personal element of the song is either the melody or the lyrics for sure, which helps make it easier to name them.

AL365: Which trance DJs should we look out for and why?

Sam: For the most part, I follow labels more than artists/DJs. I think the relaunch of Activa’s label ‘Borderline’ is going to be really exciting and I can’t wait to hear which artists are signing music with him.

AL365: What are your best moments performing in Thailand?

Sam: I really love playing venues and festivals in Thailand. It does not matter whether it is a small club or a big stage, the feeling is the same. I loved playing at Mystic Valley in Khao Yai last year (November 2020) because it meant I could play to trance fans and casual EDM listeners who were at the festival.

Also read: REVIEW: Exploring the sonic paradise of Mystic Valley Festival

AL365: What do you think about the trance scene in Thailand?

I think despite the smaller scene, we have a passionate crowd who are always attending events. Trance Lovers Thailand has a loyal following here, and before the pandemic, were bringing many international artists to play here. I certainly love to perform here, and I have made many friends in the process.

AL365: What do you think the Thai trance scene needs more of?

Sam: It would be great to see the emergence of new trance parties which focus on deeper/sophisticated trance, rather than the big epic club hits which we hear so often.

AL365: Thank you, Sam for taking the time to answer questions! Looking forward to your next live performance!

Sam: Thank you, and see you there!

Sam Laxton is scheduled to release a new collaborative single with James Dymond via Subculture in November.

Listen to Sam Laxton via Spotify below.

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