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With numerous DJ mix albums, singles, and additional releases under his guise as a successful label head, Bill Hamel has made a definitive mark on the course of dance music for several years. The Florida-based head of the prominent Sunkissed and Teknology has only now begun to receive the accolades that he has been working toward for over a decade with his current Grammy and Dance Star nominations.

"Bill Hamel has the extraordinary rare gift of balancing the deep and subtle with the melodic…a shining star in a sea of faceless DJ's and producers." – BT

Hamel, who first moved to Orlando, Florida to attend college, claims that his introduction into the dance music world took place because he happened to be in the right place at the right time when the house music scene was first starting to grow. Like many of the Orlando-area locals in the late 80s, Hamel attended the weekly nights at the legendary Beacham Theatre, where DJs like Kimball Collins and Dave Cannalte reigned supreme alongside several international DJs making their first stateside appearances, including Sasha, John Digweed, and Dave Seaman. There's notable smile across the phone line as Bill states, "hearing Sasha's sets were an influence."

Bill has made a name spinning at clubs throughout Florida and beyond - no matter where he plays, the first thing that strikes anyone who meets him is the amount of love and energy he derives from the music and his local scene. He is an amazingly driven individual who finds himself longing for Orlando to once again regain its glory as a mecca for the clubbing community.

While his label Sunkissed Record's releases have been featured on over 30 releases from the prestigious dance labels Ministry of Sound, Bedrock, Global Underground, Nettwerk America and Perfecto. now his own producing talent has him on the brink of becoming a global luminary through several high profile moments in the past few months, including working on tracks with BT for his Emotional Technology album and Hamel's remix for Seals track "Get It Together" earning both Grammy and DanceStar 2004 nominations. Hamel, who will be in attendance at this year's Grammy event, recently took some time to speak to Raves.com about his recent successes and future aspirations.

"Each year in my career has had something big happen for me," Bill says. During a conversation with Bill last year, he was asked him what projects he had been working on and was very excited about the Seal track in particular at that time. When asked months later how it feels to have that track be a Grammy nominee, Bill comments, "It feels great! It's great to see the response and I'm always happy to receive accolades for my work." Bill first received the news of the Grammy nomination from his manager, Mark Dienger, who called and asked him, "isn't that cool you were nominated?" Bill said, "Who?" to which Mark replied, "You."

It's this sort of reaction that shows Hamel is in this for the love of what he does whether working as a DJ or in the studio, not for the mainstream attention that drives many others. Hamel then added that when he first completed the Seal track, he was confident it would do well; however, his good friend Brian Transeau aka BT, "told me not to get my hopes up, he (BT) said it is really hard to get in, even for established people in there." Bill adds, "I really knew it was a hit when Deep Dish came to Orlando about a month after I finished the track and they played it back to back during their set."

"Bill's production prowess and his keen sense of melody and song structure has never ceased to amaze us. His impeccably-detailed yet 'human' approach to music-making is a breath of fresh air from the seemingly emotion-less and barren soundscapes which permeates much of our brand of electronic music these days" –Ali of Deep Dish

Bill didn't enter into the Seal remix with any preconceived plan for what he wanted to do with the original version. "First, I listened to the track and got a feel for the vibe. I knew I wanted it to be a peak hour track, but still have a lush feel." After spending some time working out how to apply his style to the track, Hamel explains, "I tried not to overproduce. I really tried to let the vocal do the work." This remix was an experience that allowed Bill to work with Seal, an artist he had wanted to work with since first hearing Blue Amazon's work with the smooth British singer. "Seal has a great voice for house music." When asked what he thinks of his chances, Bill takes the high road and replies, "Its just an honor to be included in that group. I mean, Masters At Work are legends and Peter Rauhofer has won before. Timo Maas is an influence and an idol. There's just a lot of great talent there."

While Bill may be in awe of some of the accomplishments of his fellow nominees, he is well on the way to developing the same amount of respect for his own work. A good example of this is explained when he was asked what was the first remix he had ever produced: "It was Insight for Prophecy on Stress Records. The funny thing was that I was working at Underground Record Source in Orlando at the time and the day after we sold of it at the shop, I got a call from Dave Seaman looking to sign the track."

Bill Hamel's remix of Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River" peaked at #1 on Billboard's Maxi-Single Sales chart and #2 on the Dance Club Play chart. Other remix work includes the Yoshitoshi Brother Brown classic, “Under The Water,” set for release next year; Holly Palmer’s “Just So You Know” for Reprise which peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Dance chart; and a version of Prince’s “When Doves Cry.

Now with numerous chart successes under his belt (see italics above) and national attention now bearing his name, the question remains, what is on the scope for 2004? "I just did a track for the Microsoft NBA 2005 video game and I'm working on producing hip hop tracks." Two of the key things on Hamel's always loaded plate are his hip hop project with the brother of Orlando Magic player Tracy McGrady, and re-teaming with Karina, who provided the vocal for BT's "Moment Of Clarity," a track that Bill helped co-produce.

"Bill is currently one of my favorite re-mixers because he really understands melody and song." –Paul Oakenfold

Bill continues to be an entrepreneur at heart as he tells of how he would like to move into the video game market and how he is working with the folks at Apple Computer to provide downloads to their iTunes users. "I did a mix over the summer of new and old material from Sunkissed, Teknology, and Fluid. Its got some old stuff in there, but its mixed how I would play it in a club." And speaking of his labels, Hamel promises a lot of stuff from each in the coming year, which is sure to please many of the devoted that have found Sunkissed and Technology tracks indispensable from their record bags. Always the diplomat, Bill ends our call with a comment to the Raves readers, "thanks for all of the support. I am happy to be able to put music out there for people to enjoy."

-- interview by Shawn Wallace





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