Halon (Espen) is a Norwegian producer with a hidden talent up his sleeve. Under various aliases he has composed some really interesting trance and house tunes. He is by no means an established name and has no official releases to date, but when I came across 'Halon Feat. Veela - Tell Me' on soundcloud it got stuck on repeat. It’s one of these tracks I'd play insanely loud when cruising the German autobahn in my BMW. Ok, I admit it would be in a somewhat less powerful car, but the stamina of this track more than compensates for that!
Or take 'Halon - A New World', a splendid track with a great epic feel. Definitely something for next time I cross the ocean to the new world in a big silver bird!
We're always interested in talking to great talents out there, so we decided to ask Halon/Espen for an interview.
To kick of this interview, what or who inspired you to compose and produce trance music? Why specifically trance?
Like many others, I 'discovered' trance back in the days, like ATB, Paul Van Dyk, Ferry Corsten, Solarstone, Cosmig Gate, etc.
I remember being a huge fan of something called 'Goliath', which is 12+ CDs with mostly progressive trance, but also some uplifting in there as well. All CDs were mixed by DJs many may know about, like DJ Dream, DJ Snowman, Angy Dee etc, and some CDs contained tracks from producers like Cosmic Gate, which I am a huge fan of, back in the old school days and now.
I also started liking trance after I heard about Cosmic Gate, one of my first producers I really got in to. Progressive trance all the way. Now they have changed style, but for the good I suppose.
Why trance? Well, the word 'trance' has a meaning to it. When you listen to trance, you'll get in a 'trancey state of mind'. Nuff said.
Progressive Trance. That’s what got me into the world of trance in general actually. As I mentioned, Cosmic Gate did that, but I also really love uplifting trance, like Nitrous Oxide, Super8 & Tab, Above & Beyond, etc.
When it comes to producing, I mostly produce, progressive trance, yup, you guessed it, but also uplifting trance, house, mostly deep & progressive house, and also progressive breaks and downtempo. I guess I'm a flexible person, I like experimenting with different styles and genres,
and I produce what I feel like from day to day.
At the moment, I'm working on some old projects, some House tracks, with a deep, progressive, ambient touch to them I made a couple of years ago, and try to finish them actually. There are a lot of things going on atm, like finishing old projects, to remixes of other producers tracks, to my other productions.
You say something interesting in your soundcloud profile. You highlight the fact that you're also a philosopher and that you get your inspiration from life itself. Can you elaborate a bit on that?
Yes, I get inspired by life, yes. Life is precious, And yes, I'm a philosopher. I think about life everyday. I use to stare out of my window, and look at the majestic mountains that I see everyday in Norway. There is something about them, and I get inspired by them. Also, the fjords, the sky, especially the night sky.
I often glaze at the stars a late Sunday night, and wonder about if we are alone in this universe, which is something I don't believe. I believe the universe contains more life, life we don't know about yet. So those thoughts give me a lot to think about, and get my inspirations flowing.
Would you say you give a scandinavian touch to your music?
That is a hard question. I actually don't know. Look at Orjan Nilsen, Naden, Hawk amoung others.
They have they're own style, especially Naden and Hawk. I like that style, deep, enigmatic, mystical sound, which is life.
So yes, maybe I have a Scandinavian touch to my music, I don't know.
I read that FL Studio is your main DAW. What is it you like about this DAW? Do you use any other sequencers?
Yup, FL all the way!
I have always used FL, and will always do. Why? Well, the answer is simple, in fact, FL Studio is simple. Very simple and straight forward. What I like about it is the easy interface, the step sequencer (thank god for that), the piano roll, and the easy-to-use dropdown menu where I can locate all my favourite drum samples, percussion, etc.
Overall, the best DAW out there, for me at least.
I do have other DAWs as well, like Cubase, but I never use it.
Can you tell a bit more about your current studio setup? Hardware? Software? Any favorite VST's?
Currently, i'm producing on an Acer Aspire 29207-Z, Intel Pentium Dual CPU T 2330, 1,60 GHz - 2.00 GB RAM. It's an old laptop I have owned for about 4 year now. I just love it.
Favourite VSTs? Easy. RefX Nexus 2, Sylenth1, ANA, U-he ACE, Z3TA+ and a very nice ambient/soundscape VST called Protoplasm.
'Tell Me' has a great intro/break and the release is like a turbo gets fired up below you. What an energy! Can you tell us a bit more about how you composed this track? Any specific VST's you used?
Well, Thank you!
The VSTs i used is RefX Nexus 2, Sylenth1 among others.
First of all I was browsing my vocal archives for a good vocal I thought might suit this track, and I chose some of 'Sirens By Veela', which I have mentioned below.
Then things just got in the right place, I made the main melody, and things fell in place as I was working. I usually get ideas while working, so that is how I made 'Tell Me' Actually.
I wanted an uplifting track, with a lot of energy.
For those of us who'd like to experiment a bit with vocal trance, can you tell us how you got the vocals for the track?
The vocals? I was searching though the 'sounds' archive at Beatport, where i discovered 'Sirens By Veela', a great vocal pack. It’s mostly fit for trance, and Veela’s voice is incredible! I just had to buy it!
I recommend always buying vocal packs and checking out the vocal packs at Beatport. It's worth it!
In general, how do you start out composing a new track? Do you have a clear plan or do you just fire up your sequencer and start tweaking?
First of all, I start with the 'basics', which is, at least for me, starting with the drums, then claps, hi-hats and percussion etc. After that, it's pretty much straight forward. I get inspired while working, and I get these melodies in my head all the time, so it's pretty easy to arrange and create the melodies imo.
What do you usually start out with? Chords? Melody? Groove? Or does this vary?
Sometimes I actually start with chords, if it’s house. But yes, it varies actually. As I mentioned above, I mostly start out with drums, and I continue from there.
Midichords.com aims at helping others to compose electronic music, beginners and more experienced alike. Do you have any tip/trick or good advice to share with our readers?
My advice is, get inspired and use your time. And don't copy other producers as you want your own sound! Also, I would recommend starting with drums or percussion, hi-hats and fills etc, because that is the easy part! Or maybe the other way around?
What are your short term and longer term plans for the future as far as your music is concerned? Are you aiming for your tracks to be released? Have you taken any steps towards that?
My goal is to get one or more releases some day. Right now I'm working on some tracks that I'm about to send away to different labels, mostly small ones, but also two or more bigger ones as well.