Decades after its inception, Trance has now become very diverse, encompassing a vast array of sounds and different signature atmospheric constructions throughout its spectrum. Perhaps underrepresented in today’s scene, Progressive Trance does have the benefit of attracting a handful of incredibly talented producers, among which Finland’s Jussi Paasonen.
The Fin started DJing in the mid 90s, having been perhaps nudged in that direction by his discovery of electronic music in the last years of the prior decade. By the turn of the century, he’d started producing tracks under the moniker most of us know him as today, Simon Templar. It is fair to mention that he was also part of Finnish trio Infinity in the early 2000s. Around the same time, Paasonen co-founded the duo Winkee, perhaps most well known for its releases under Pure Trance.
Speaking of Pure Trance, Jussi has finally brought forth his long-awaited debut album, Balance, which got released under the imprint earlier this week. We had the pleasure of throwing a few questions his way, so let’s not mess around anymore and hand it over to the man himself.
TranceMag: Hey, Jussi. We appreciate you taking the time to chat with us. First and foremost, could you tell us a little about what initially sparked your interest in music?
Simon Templar: I feel like I never chose music – it’s more like music chose me when I was a little kid. I have always felt music very strongly.
TM: Before choosing Trance as a sort of go-to, did any other genre grab your attention? Does it still do so?
ST: If music is produced with the right attention and focus, it’ll always turn out to be something good. So yes, I listen to music from different genres. My love for Trance started with synthesizer music when I was very young. For me, Trance is a state of mind. It’s somewhere between dream and reality. I want to mediate the same feelings to my audience that Trance has given me.
TM: Your alias, Simon Templar, is rather unique in the Trance scene, and perhaps the greater Electronic Music scene as a whole. Was the stage name inspired by the character with the same name from Leslie Charteris’ books, or are you a fan of the Knights Templar?
ST: It was the year 2000, and I tried to pick up a cool DJ name for myself, and this one popped up suddenly and sounded perfect. A bit later I realized that it’s the name of The Saint by Roger Moore. I was like ok, I think I can deal with that :). So it’s just a coincidence.
ST: Simon Templar was supposed to sound different than this EP, so I released it under the alias Composer. I simply had other plans for Simon Templar. I don’t have any intention to release under Composer anymore, at the moment.
TM: Around the same time, you formed Winkee along with Sami Törrönen. You two are responsible for quite frankly an absolutely astonishing remix of Orkidea and Solarstone’s Slowmotion II. Could you perhaps walk us through some of the highlights of your collective output over the years? Also, since it’s been a little quiet on that front, will we ever see some more material from Winkee?
ST: Yes, we have decent and timeless releases with Winkee, and I really enjoy working with Sami. I believe that you’ll hear from Winkee again, and not so far in the future ;). We have been working together for over 20 years – actually from the start of my career as a producer – and Sami has been good to spar with, and I have learned a lot through working with him.
TM: You’ve been involved in the scene in some form or another for nearly a decade and a half. In that time, has the thought of producing Goa Trance or even Uplifting ever crossed your mind?
ST: I started with Uplifting Trance in the early 2000s. My new album, Balance, includes a couple of my older uplifting tracks that have gotten updated. I don’t want to put Simon Templar in one category because I want to express Trance music in all its forms… But I think Goa is a little too hippie for me.
TM: There’s a very distinctive kind of Progressive Trance you put forth in your releases. What is, in your opinion, the most important aspect of the Simon Templar sound? Any favourite synths for example?
ST: Well, I try not to sound the same as the guy next to you. I want to sound unique and feel free while producing. Synths depend on the nature of the track and the mood within.
TM: What old school artists – or even tracks – would you say influenced you most in your career? Do you perhaps have a favorite track of all time?
ST: There’s three eras in my music career that have influenced me the most. The beginning and the end of the 90s, and the first half of 21st century. There’s too many influencers to name, but for example Jean Michel Jarre, RMB, The Prodigy, Marusha, U96, Solarstone, old Tiesto, Push, Orkidea, Slusnik Luna, Way Out West, and John 00 Fleming. Favourite tracks: Push – Universal Nation, Solarstone – Seven Cities, Orkidea – Unity.
TM: Some folks like to go at it alone and craft their tracks, others enjoy collaborating more than solo work. Having done both, which one do you enjoy most?
ST: Of course, it’s more fun and easier to produce with someone else when there’s two brains and four ears involved. But when you work alone, you easily fall far deeper into the track.
TM: Morning Sun, your latest creation – also included on your album, Balance -, is awash with nostalgia-filled sounds and soundscapes. Could you give us a little run down of how it came to be?
ST: It was an early summer morning when I composed the track, and that feeling hit me when the morning sun was rising and shining beautifully through my window. That felt like the perfect name for the track.
TM: Do you think that this mentality of a low shelf life for releases is at the root of fewer albums coming out? Is it perhaps also one of the reasons why you chose a later date for your debut LP?
ST: I always knew I’ll do album some day, but for some reason I didn’t feel myself musically ready until a year and half ago when I started producing Balance.
Many producers release tracks often to keep themselves in the spotlight. That is the spirit nowadays, and it’s quite understandable. But will that serve the scene? I don’t know…
ST: YES. It’s going to be a physical CD as well. But be quick, there’s going to be 200 numbered copies only. You can order it from Solarshop (Solarstone’s webshop).
TM: Let’s say you weren’t a producer or DJ. In what other field of work would you see yourself?
ST: Maybe a cook or pet detective 🙂
TM: Music is a highly creative field, as are the majority of arts. In your free time, do you perhaps engage in appreciation of these other arts like video games, movies, and the like?
ST: Of course. I love good movies and enjoy art a lot. I have also produced music for some different kinds of media productions. I can say that my dream is to produce full movie scores some day.
TM: Do you have a particularly memorable moment from your gigs so far?
ST: We had a very dynamic live group called “Infinity” in the early 2000s. There was me, Sami Törrönen, and Mika Helin included, and we had many memorable moments in our gigs.
TM: Many tracks have been written so far and many more will be, no doubt. Out of all of them, is there a particular production you enjoyed most being involved with?
ST: Yes, Meltwater was released at the time when my first son was born, and that brings me back to those emotions and feelings. I was surprised by the impact that it made. It was a pleasure to notice that there were so many people who wished to hear original Trance instead of EDM-influenced electronic music in that time.
TM: Do you have a pet? If not, we also accept completely fictitious examples. 😊
ST: It’s half spirit, half snake manbird. I’m also like Kin Ton Ti, which means “noble man who is loved by many animal who, in kind, he loveth, too.” 🙂
TM: Any last words for our readers and your fans?
ST: Thank you for your time, and I hope that you’ll find your own balance in life. I wish that you’ll enjoy my upcoming album Balance, and that it helps you to enjoy the moment for years to come.
Thanks a bunch, Jussi, for taking the time to read through our questions. Best of luck with your future endeavors! 🙂