N-Trance were formed in 1990 by Kevin O’ Toole & Dale Longworth who were then students studying sound engineering at Oldham College. At first it was just an excuse for four or five students to get a load of free studio time & to mess about with all the college’s equipment but after a while they began to produce stuff which they thought was comparable to what was in the charts at the time (with the ‘rave’ scene just taking off in the U.K.).
They made their first demo tape in 1991(a dance version of the theme from the children’s T.V. cartoon ‘Roobarb’!), which failed to get any reaction from record companies, so they decided to try something a bit more serious. The next track to be demo’d was ‘Back to the bass’, a hardcore, sample-laden tune which brought them to the attention of Dead dead good records (Charlatans, Oceanic etc.). Just as they were about to sign for DDG, Pete Waterman heard the song and he came in with a better offer and the band signed to PWL’s Manchester company 380 Records.
Back to the bass was re-recorded at PWL in London and was then put on hold because of sample problems. By this time the band had recorded four or five new songs, one of which being ‘Set you free’ featuring Kelly Llorenna (from the same college as Kev & Dale). PWL decided to put this song out and white labels were pressed and a release date set. Due to unknown problems at 380 Records the release of ‘Set you free’ was postponed a number of times during the next twelve months until eventually the band had had enough and they split from the record company.
In 1993 N-Trance signed to new label All around the world (Love decade, 2 for joy etc.) and ‘Set you free’ was at last released, reaching the dizzy heights of number 81! During this time the band had started to gig regularly and the reaction to ‘Set you free’ in clubs (especially in Scotland) was phenomenal. This led to the song’s second release which actually made the top 40 (number 39!). The follow up to this was the more Euro style ‘Turn up the power’, which featured Rachel Mcfarland (later of Loveland) and rapper T-1k. This reached number 23 in October ‘94 but still wasn’t enough to kill the buzz generated by ‘Set you free’. The record company were asked for it daily by the shops so it was decided to give it one last try. In January ‘95 it reached number two, stayed in the charts for five months, sold 600,000 units and went on to be the eighth biggest selling single of the year. It also opened up new markets abroad for the band, charting in Europe and Australia.
During the summer of 95 the band recorded their debut album ‘Electronic Pleasure’ which features no less than seven different vocalists (Kelly Llorenna, Viveen Wray, Gillian Wisdom, Ricardo Da Force, Jerome Stokes, Rachel McFarland & T-1k) as well as David Grant & his choir. Having such a large range of artists meant that they could produce an album containing many different song styles. Rap, Techno, Pop, Gospel, Ballad, Euro, everything is covered and no two tracks sound the same.
The next single (in September 95) was a cover of the Bee-Gees’ disco anthem ‘Stayin’ Alive’. This track was the first to feature Viveen Wray and ex KLF rapper Ricardo Da Force. N-trance have always cited the KLF as one of their biggest influences and this collaboration proved to be their biggest hit to date, charting in every European country, Japan, USA, South America and reaching number 1 in Australia, Canada & South Africa. It became the second biggest selling British single in the world that year, with only Seal’s Kiss from a rose ahead of it.
In January 96 the title track from the album ‘Electronic Pleasure’ was released, featuring Ricardo and Gillian Wisdom. A more serious dance song than Stayin Alive with loads of club mixes, it reached number 11 in the UK chart. The video (shot in a freezing cold morgue in a disused mental hospital!) featured the band’s latest toy, a World War II army tank!
The rest of 96 was taken up with recording their second album – ‘Happy Hour’. The first single from this album was cheese anthem D.I.S.C.O. which was released in April 97 & also reached no. 11 in the U.K. This was closely followed by ‘The Mind of the Machine’, a nine minute superfast techno tune sung by Kelly (her first since ‘Set you free’), & featuring legendary British actor Steven Berkof!
It was back to the seventies for their next single – ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’. A cover of the old Rod Stewart song, it had the dubious honour of containing the longest vocal sample ever to be cleared! The video was shot on location in Japan but due to a falling out with Ricardo he had to be edited in afterwards!
1998 saw the release of two more singles from ‘Happy Hour’, the tongue in cheek cover of Guns ‘n’ Roses’ ‘Paradise City’ (complete with ‘Spinal Tap’ video), and ‘Tears in the Rain’ featuring Kelly & Jerome naked!
Also in 1998 N-Trance worked with Jeff Wayne on the remixed version of his classic album ‘The War of the Worlds’.
Their next single, in 1999 saw them up to their old tricks, reworking the seventies Jacksons classic ‘Shake Ya Body’. Also around this time it was noticed that there seemed to be a lot of unauthorised remixes & bootlegs of ’Set You Free’ around in the clubs. It was decided by the record company that rather than try to pursue these legally it would be a good idea to collect the best ones together & release them properly. The new remixed package was released in September 2001 & reached no. 4 in the U.K. giving the band their eleventh top 40 hit.
2002 saw the release of ‘The Best of N-Trance’ which included all the hit singles and more from the last ten years. Taken from this album were two new songs, ‘Forever’ which reached number 6 in September 2002 and ‘Destiny’ which peaked at number 37 in July 2003.
During 2003 a new studio was built and Gillian Tennant (formally of Q-Tex) became the lead vocalist. She debuted on I’m In Heaven and was the singer for N-Trance for the next 3 years on live work whilst the new album was being written. Work on this album was delayed, as a side project started by Kev & Dale had a surprise hit with ‘So Much Love To Give‘. The Freeloaders have recorded an albums worth of material, and now focus has shifted back to recording new N-Trance tracks.
N-Trance are currently touring with Rachel (Vocals), MCB (Rap, MC), Junior K (DJ)