RAD Spotlight: MaRLo Interview

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From Amsterdam to Australia, MaRLo has captured the hearts of trance fans across the globe.

The Australian based Dutch DJ and producer has been repeatedly voted as one of the top DJ’s in the country. His unique and unmistakable sound has been inspired by those across all walks of electronic music. Combining elements of trance, techno, house and even hardstyle, the artist has grown to become one of the most sought after trance DJ’s in the world. This year’s sold-out crowd at ASOT900 were treated to an exclusive and rarely performed tech-energy set. I got to catch up with MaRLo before the show and find out more about his unique sounds and style, as well as inspirations and life on the road. 

You’re about to head over to perform on the main stage, how do you feel about playing at ASOT900 tonight?

I’m really excited! I’ve been a part of the ASOT franchise for a long time, I’ve played a lot of times. I think the first one I ever did was ASOT500! So it’s amazing to be a part of it again and tonight I’m doing a tech-energy set.

How do you think the crowd is going to respond to your tech-energy set as opposed to your regular sets?

The good thing is, I think people now understand what it is; which is basically the musical freedom to do whatever I want. It’s a mix of hard trance, techno, hardstyle and a bit of uplifting sounds. As long as it’s powerful and energetic, I’ll play it! I’m not worried about what genre it fits in. It also takes me back to where I started, which was playing recovery parties; playing from 5 to 10 am and having to keep people on the dance floor when they actually wanna go home and they’re tired. For me, it’s a nod back to my roots in a way, where I used to play hard trance all that kind of stuff. 

What inspired you to play tech-energy tonight rather than your normal style? 

I think, I only play that sound twice a year, two or three times a year… and I only want to do it at the best events in the world. So for ASOT, to play at the main stage at the set time that I’ve got (4 to 5 in the morning) I think is the perfect opportunity to showcase a sound like this and to be honest, I love doing it! It’s really fun! 

Photo credit: MaRLo

Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

Probably the things that first got me into electronic music are The Prodigy first and foremost, and then Aphex Twin as well. From that path, it led me more to the club type music when I started going clubbing; which would have been Armin, Tiesto, Ferry Corsten and then tech trance side of Marcel Woods and guys like that, so a lot of Dutch DJ’s. I’m originally Dutch and I moved over to Australia when I was a kid. I wanted to have a sense of identity with my past in a way as well; so I looked at a lot of Dutch DJ’s and sort of thought that’s my roots, but I consider myself an Aussie completely now!

You’re about to play in front of a massive sold-out crowd, do you prefer playing these types of large events or do you prefer a smaller more intimate club vibe? 

They each have their perks. The cool thing about playing a big event is that it’s so dramatic! You go through such a rollercoaster of emotions before the show, you get a little bit nervous… and the grandness of it like doing all the interviews. It’s just super epic to do big shows, and then you see the sea of the crowd and hearing them roar and all move; it’s really overwhelming. But doing a small club show, when you’re a meter away from the front row and you can see them sweating and you see every emotion, you see when you drop something powerful and they can feel it. Sharing that connection is really special as well. I don’t think I would choose one over the other, it’s nice to be able to have a combination and mix of doing both. 

Do you have any routines or rituals before you go on stage to perform? 

I just like a moment of quiet; just a moment of ‘don’t talk to me’. Just to get focused and get in the zone; especially for big shows like this If it’s a smaller show like this, I don’t really have a routine but a big show like this, just leave me alone for a couple of minutes before I hop on so I can get into the zone. 

Photo credit: Katarina Cvetko

Do you have anything interesting or unusual on your tour rider? 

No, but I want to add some weird stuff, I really want to. I’ve got Japanese whiskey and there’s a drink I’m getting into lately called ‘umeshu’ which is like a Japanese plum wine, but it’s not that weird. It’s not like I’ve got yellow skittles or anything like that yet but I feel like I need to do something exotic because a lot of other DJ’s put weird stuff in there. I feel like I’m missing an opportunity! 

You’re currently on tour right now, have you been able to find the balance between your personal and professional life so you don’t burn out?

I think finally in the last 12 months, I can say I have. This was a one month tour where I’ve done Europe for two weeks and then I’m going to do the US for two weeks. I looked at the set schedule and I thought you know what, I’m taking my wife and I’m taking my son with me for the first two weeks at least, just to break it up; so they’re here with me. 

Would you say you perform better when you’ve got your family with you or have you become used to touring without them? 

I don’t think it affects my performance, to be honest, but it definitely affects my mental state. I get a little bit anxious sometimes if I’m away on tour for a long time. Last year I did a tour for five weeks straight without family, when my little son was just quite young and that’s tough you know. You feel like you’re missing out on something, like you’re not a part of your own identity, of your own life. You don’t see your friends, you don’t see your mum, you don’t see your family, you don’t eat the food you like to eat. You don’t have your own house and your own stuff around, so that kinda becomes a bit of a bummer. But then if you’ve got friends or family coming with you, it’s amazing! 

Photo credit: MaRLo

What are your goals for 2019? What would you like to see yourself achieve this year? 

I’m bringing Altitude back, so Altitude is my own concert show where I play a four-hour set, with one and a half hours of it being tech-energy, and a warm-up DJ and a live vocalist. It’s more like a concert-style concept. So I’m definitely bringing that back. My other focus is my label called ‘Reaching Altitude’ and nurturing new talent. 

You’re also playing at Transmission Australia in a couple of weeks, how are you feeling about that? 

Yeah, that will be really cool, because it also gives me an opportunity to clearly, without having to use words to explain, show what the difference is between tonight’s set which is live broadcasted and the transmission set where I’m playing earlier in the night. I get the opportunity to play some more of my new, upcoming music as well, and just to showcase the diversity. I like a lot of different music so I feel really blessed to be at a stage in my career where I feel the freedom to do what I want.

Did you want to add anything before we finish up?

Thanks everyone for all the support, I really appreciate it. It sounds cliche but without the support, I wouldn’t be where I am and that’s 100% true. 

Keep up with MaRLo on Facebook and Instagram and relive his incredible tech-energy set at ASOT900 below.

Feature image credit: MaRLo
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Katarina Cvetko

Katarina is an international journalist and photographer from Sydney, Australia with a strong passion for music festivals. Since her first solo adventure in 2015, Katarina has travelled to over 30 countries in 5 continents and has attended over 100 music festivals worldwide. After conquering a bucket list journey of 52 music festivals in 52 weeks in 2018, Katarina continues to live a digital nomad lifestyle, travelling to festivals in a different country every week and sharing her experiences on social media.

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