On The Radar: Euphoric Nation
by Annette Lucero

On this week’s edition of “On The Radar”, we’d like to welcome Minneapolis local Euphoric Nation. Otherwise known as Don Ortega, Euphoric Nation has been one of the key individuals responsible for Trance’s survival amidst the Minneapolis scene. A few years ago, our scene’s interest in Trance was left as a dwindling vein, a stark difference to the current times of Above and Beyond’s growing popularity. Euphoric Nation will be headlining his own release party tonight at REV; Indrid Cold and Zan & Ezi will be found alongside as support. As for Euphoric Nation’s newest release, the track can be found on Beatport and is additionally featured below. If that’s not enough, this rising, Minneapolis Trance local boosts a radio show with over 300 episodes called, “Trance Paradise”. It airs on the #1 voted Trance radio station Afterhours.FM each week. We’ve scattered a few podcast links below; check out the interview for more!

Euphoric Nation’s newest track is available on Beatport

SIM: So talk to us about Euphoric Nation.  What triggered your decision to start producing, and how long have you been producing for?

Don: Euphoric Nation was originally a group of four people when it started six years ago. I was a self-taught DJ, and the other group members were self-taught producers. I learned bits and pieces with them, but once the rest of the group members left, I had to continue to learn the ways of music production on my own!

SIM: How has transitioning from a producing group to a single individual challenged you as a producer and DJ?

Don: I used a lot of Youtube tutorials to teach myself how to produce and DJ. At the time, I didn’t know of anyone else who DJed Trance specifically, so learning how to DJ Trance was purely practice. Also, transitioning from a producing group to just myself was challenging because I didn’t have a group to bounce ideas off of. But once I started meeting other producers in the scene, I created a network of people who would listen to my tracks with a critical ear.

SIM: Is Trance the only genre you produce in, or are you eyeing a few new genres down the road?

Don: I produce only in trance.  I have no experience in producing other genres…I don’t think I would ever produce anything else to be honest.  But I do have an interest in learning more about the higher BPM subgenres of trance, such as Psy-Trance and Uplifting Trance – I just haven’t really played around with them too much, yet.

SIM: Going along with production, what software did you start out with, and how has your production software evolved over time?

Don: I started out playing around on Fruity Loops but made the switch after a couple years to Ableton. I switched to Ableton because I found it easier to use. Also, Ableton is much more commonly used amidst professional artists.

SIM: After Euphoric Nation evolved into just your presence, how did you support network change with it?

Don: Funny story, I recently released a collaboration with my good friend and mentor, David Thulin. The label release party tonight is in honor of this collaboration, as it also features the voice of Avari. Before David moved on to Nashville in 2015, I used to go to his studio to produce. I’d observe his productions to learn tips and tricks, and he has probably been my biggest musical mentor. I have always felt super comfortable bouncing my ideas off of him, and he taught me how to take criticism… which was kind of a difficult skill for me to learn at first. As a perfectionist, it’s tough to hear your works of art are garbage, and you need to hear it when you start out. But I needed it to improve as a producer, and I have him to thank for that.

SIM: On the flipside of having such a good mentor, what has been one of your largest obstacles to overcome as a local?

Don: I think the biggest obstacle that I’ve had to overcome was the death of the Trance scene in Minneapolis.  Right as I started to get Trance gigs in our scene, we stopped bringing Trance artists. And in the scheme of local bookings, no one wanted to book a Trance local for a non-Trance show; it made no sense to. However, the lull in our Trance scene never caused me to change what I was doing, and it really helped motivate me to bring Trance back to Minneapolis. It made me stay true to trance because everyone had moved on to other genres. I was often asked if I would play other genres at events, and I’d say no. I started trying to create Trance events to see who else had an interest in Trance and wanted to play a set. I also created a Facebook group called Minneapolis Trance Family that now has 573 members. This was all done with the intention of continuing the Trance movement, even though promoters had no interest at the time.

As for the Trance Family, as a whole it is a global movement. It’s a group of people who love Trance and eventually evolve into friends and family. We have our own Minneapolis Trance Family out here in Minnesota; we enjoy going to events with each other, or just hanging out too!

I couldn’t be happier with how things are turning out for the scene.  In the last year and a half alone, we’ve brought a lot of major Trance acts, such as Aly & Fila, Jaytech, Judah, UCast, Cosmic Gate and now Sean Tyas and Kyau & Albert. It couldn’t have been done without the support of SIMShows and the Minneapolis Trance Family.

SIM: Is Euphoric Nation currently managed, or are you flying solo for now?

Don: It’s currently self-motivation!

SIM:  In your experience, how difficult is it as a local to have people give your material a chance?

Don: It is difficult, but only if you are too busy thinking about it instead of hustling. You should be thinking of strategies to get your music (whether it is mixes or productions) to the people that matter, and also finding your healthy balance between sharing and over-promoting your material.  Today, everyone can be a DJ with ease.  So, what makes you different from other DJs?  Are you in it for fun or glory?  I’ve been told by several people that my presence emits a passion for the music, and not a conceited attitude..  But, honestly I’m just having fun.  I’m doing something I love every day and I wouldn’t change a thing.

SIM: And what has been one of your proudest moments as a local?

Don: My proudest moment was being direct support for Cosmic Gate.  People were really psyched about me opening, and they found out before I knew I got the spot.  The reaction afterwards was incredible.  It was the most challenging set to date.  It’s actually really difficult to warm up a crowd… teasing them for the talent while making sure they don’t fall asleep in the process.  Most people don’t realize that I actually get really nervous before each set, even though I’ve been playing in front of crowds for six years.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure people are having a good time.  I was so proud that I my set was a success that night.

SIM: How have you challenged yourself to become a better DJ?

Don: I learned DJing by practicing beat matching for months with mostly the same song.  I trained my ears to detect when tracks aren’t aligned, meaning I don’t have to rely on digital outputs or cues to tell me I am off.  I would even cover the displays and randomly alter the BPM to see if I could still match them!

SIM: What are some of your next milestones that you hope to accomplish?

Don: One of the major milestones is to have a track of mine featured on “A State of Trance”, or any other major radio show.  The only way to get there is to continually produce and improve on my sound.  I have great support around me to make this a realistic goal.

SIM: And lastly, what is something you hope never changes about yourself as you become more successful?

Don: The one thing I hope never changes is remembering why I am doing what I am doing.  I love Trance music.  I love the way it mixes together.  I love being able to find unknown tracks that make people dance, and I love building relationships and friendships with the people who also love Trance music.  I think no matter how successful I become, these are cores to my being that will never be lost.

We’d like to thank Euphoric Nation for taking the time this week to speak with SIMshows. Make sure to stop by REV tonight to check out this rising local’s release party. Interested in keeping up with Euphoric Nation for more new music? Follow him below on his respective channels:

www.facebook.com/euphoricnation

www.instagram.com/euphoricnation

www.soundcloud.com/euphoricnation

www.twitter.com/euphoricnation

Snapchat: euphoricnation