On the cover of The Entertainment Issue this month, we feature one of the top trance duos in the world — Cosmic Gate.
Claus Terhoeven and Stefan Bossems hail from Krefeld, Germany. Like many modern DJs, both have nicknames that they are best known for: Terhoeven goes by the stage name of Nic Chagall, while Bossems is respectively recognized by the fans as DJ Bossi.
The duo joined their efforts after an unexpected meeting in a recording studio in Cologne. With an incredible expansion over the course of the following 15 years, they have remixed the compositions of many Hollywood composers, such as Avatar’s James Horner, conquered Electronic Dance Music capitals, sold out arenas and festival halls, hosted their own stages at major festivals, and 10 years into their career became the highest climbers on DJ Mag’s Top 100 chart.
Today, they catch up with FAJO to share what they like most about their jet setter lifestyle and why they are big fans of DSquared2.
ADA YAKOBI: So tell us, where did it all begin for you?
NIC CHAGALL: It’s an interesting story, actually. We spent about a year talking and had a lot of mutual friends. It was about 1998, and we were playing in nearby clubs. One day, almost a year later, we ended up in the studio and made the track The Drums, but didn’t really touch it for about two to three months. And then, after that, people really liked the track and there was a lot of hype about it, so it got signed. We couldn’t believe it but it was something that was spreading fast and now, almost 15 years later, here we are.
Is there one track in your career that stands out the most for you?
DJ BOSSI: That’s a difficult question. It’s like asking a mother of five kids: who’s your favourite? The answer usually depends on the kids’ best behaviour!
It really is hard to say: the track Falling Back has a great following, but the album Start to Feel would be the pick. It’s an album that is really close to us and has a lot of emotion in it.
What inspires you?
NIC CHAGALL: It’s hard to say one thing in particular, but it’s really the people — whether it’s at a festival or a club, their emotions and reactions really influence us. Also, a lot of the travelling we do inspires us: the new people and new places.
You have a lot of vocal collaborators. How do you make those partnerships work?
BOSSI: We usually start off with building the instrumentals, so we do all the harmonies and piano melodies. We find that it’s usually easier for the vocalist when it’s not fully ready or arranged, and then they work with the [existing music]. But when we worked with Emma Hewitt, she actually first wrote the lyrics and only then we wrote the music. It varies with every track.
You’re always traveling. What do you normally pack? Are there things you can’t live without?
NIC CHAGALL: (laughing) Bossi’s scarf! He can’t live without it!
BOSSI: Well, it’s always really cold on flights! Also, definitely noise-cancellation headphones and ear plugs … the silence is amazing.
Who is your favourite Canadian DJ? And favourite Canadian city to play in?
NIC CHAGALL: I guess we would have to say Arnej. We love to hang out with him, he’s a great DJ and a very cool guy.
We love Montréal and Toronto, but I think we prefer Vancouver for the weather. The winter in Montréal and Toronto is a little too hard to handle!
BOSSI: But we really love Canada. The fans are great, they are very educated and really know their music.
What is it like working as a team? Any arguments?
NIC CHAGALL: Surprisingly, not at all. There are not a lot of groups that were friends when they started, you really get to know each other as time progresses. Bossi and I are very different people, but we have the same ideas and vision when it comes to music, so we don’t really fight about it.
When one struggles, the other calms him down. We both want the best for the project and respect each other’s opinion.
If you could live in one city in the world, where would you settle down?
NIC CHAGALL: Barcelona! One of my favourite cities. But there are so many …
BOSSI: … traveling so much makes it hard to just pick one. I love so many cities.
Let’s talk about fashion. How would you describe your style? What are your favourite brands?
BOSSI: There really are no rules anymore when it comes to fashion. Everything is such a personal thing. Our fashion style is mainly a nice pair of jeans and a T-shirt. Or ripped jeans! The Golden Goose sneakers are definitely a must, they add a little something extra to your style. We also saw that you guys interviewed DSquared2 a while back at FAJO; we love them! Definitely very big DSquared2 fans.
Music and fashion go hand-in-hand, they really are a dynamic duo. There are so many great artists like Madonna, who have such amazing stage clothing, fashion and music. But there are no rules anymore and that’s what makes it so great.
Could you tell us more about your latest album Start to Feel?
NIC CHAGALL: Years after Wake Your Mind, we have developed a lot in the production style. Everything these days is so different; attention spans are different than what they [used to be] two or three years ago.
This album reflects a lot of years and emotions, we wanted it to sound different from a typical drop track. We wanted it to tell a better story, and we didn’t want to produce tracks that are just for playing in clubs.
In this album, we really let our creativity flow and it is definitely more melodic. We have had some amazing singers and songwriters work with us; we are very close to this album. We want people to really feel the music again — that’s why it’s called Start to Feel. Music is not created for it to be taken-in on a shallow basis — we want people to listen to it and let their emotions flow.