2 Unlimited dominated the nineties with numerous hit singles including Get Ready For This, Twilight Zone, Tribal Dance and No Limit just to name a few. It has been a while but 2 Unlimited along with Technotronic, The Real McCoy and Dr Alban are heading to Australia for a tour this March. Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles spoke to Ray Slijngaard from 2 Unlimited about the good times in the nineties and this upcoming tour.
This Australian tour with Technotronic, The Real McCoy and Dr Alban is going to be huge?
Yeah man! It has been a long time coming and it has been a while since we’ve been there. It is good that we’ve finally got it together and I’m happy that we’re coming in March because the weather is going to be nice. We have so many beautiful memories of Australia and it will be good fun.
How long have you known some of these bands on the bill? The relationship must go back quite a way?
For sure, last Saturday we had a show with Rednex, Vengaboys, Culture Beat and we are touring with a lot of with these nineties bands. We always hook up and with Dr Alban this summer there is a big tour and it is like family. Everyone has known each other for over twenty five years and it is just fun as we have all experienced the same thing back in the nineties. It is a blessing that we can still keep doing this and people still want to come and see the shows. That is a good thing and a blessing.
Does the tour feel more like a party than work?
No, no, no! When I’m on stage, maybe the flight over which is twenty two hours, it is about entertaining the people. People ask whether I get tired of singing No Limit for thousands and thousands of times.My answer is nah, as soon as you’re on stage and you see the whole crowd singing along then you know why you are doing it. I’m going to enjoy it as much the people who are coming.
Do you have good memories of the nineties when you were on top the world career wise?
For me the nineties was some of the best times, it was a special time, no boundaries. It was a nice time. I feel bad, my eldest son is twenty one, sometimes I feel really bad for him that he couldn’t experience the time we had. Now, everyone is on their phones all of the time with their FaceBook and Instagram.
Back in the day we didn’t have that and we just went out and had fun. Even when I pick up my twelve year old daughter I’m saying stop looking at your phone and go outside and being independent of the internet. It was such a good time and I’m happy that I experienced that time and I think a lot of people my age or a bit young with similar experiences will think the same. We’ve already booked in a lot of tours for this year and even next year, it keeps on going on and on and on. That’s crazy man!
Are you fascinated by people’s level of interest in nostalgia and all these eighties and nineties acts that are making a resurgence now?
It is amazing especially when you booked to play a club to two thousand people then the next night a stadium to twenty thousand people. It is crazy that you can still that you can still attract so many people to come and listen to the music. It does take them back to their childhood and the good times that they had, now they are all married and have kids. We have a forty five minute set on this tour and we are going to take them back to the nineties and make them feel that feeling that they had before. It will be awesome!
Do you think the eighties and nineties was about good songs compared to what’s around now?
It isn’t the same now, I follow the chart because my daughter is twelve and listens to Justin Bieber and all that stuff going on now. In the nineties when you had a hit you would stay in the charts for twelve weeks but now it goes very fast. As soon as one song comes out then there’s another just as fast. Back then the hooks were so catchy and the sequences of the songs just stuck in your head.
It goes to show that twenty five years later you can still fill stadiums with those songs. In ten years time people will still be listening to these songs. Sometimes you’ll hear songs that some DJ put out then next month you’ve forgot about him already. In the nineties there was a long life with that music and most of the guys like Dr Alban and Snap wrote brilliant pop songs when you listen back to it.
Did it almost become an expectation that 2 Unlimited would keep pumping out the hits?
In the beginning when we started to write Get Ready For This with the producers I didn’t expect nothing from it. Then it just came and went to number two on the UK charts and thought that was just lucky until Twilight Zone came, then bam! Again number two and that kept continuing. I must admit that after No Limit it was like how long was the next one going to be in the charts because we got so used to it that you bring out a song, the video goes on MTV and it was so exciting to see where you’re going to be.
There are not a lot of artists I think that had so many consecutive hits in a row. Now, things are constantly changing with the internet and back in the day we sold tonnes of records, something like twenty million records and nowadays that’s unheard of. There’s Spotify and you can stream it but real sales of records was crazy in the nineties.
For me it is like being a soccer player such as Christiano Renaldo in that you always want to get a goal and keeping trying to score. In the nineties it was the same thing as you always want success and you work hard for it. Back in the day it was really different and I’m producing some younger artists now. They are trying to get the hits but in the beginning I never thought about the hits they just came. It’s not like we went in the studio and say today we are going to make a lot of money. It’s about the heart like the Motown artists that wrote beautiful songs from the heart.
Nowadays, these artists want to get the hits, get the money, get the fame and sometimes I feel that a lot of creativity gets lost because they are trying to adjust the songs for the radio. We just went in to the studio and did what we wanted to do and you just felt it. It is very hard to make another Get Ready For This. There was like ten thousand remixes but the Steve Aoki one was pretty good.It is a different time now.
Will there be some new music at some point?
Anita left the band last November and we had so many songs we recorded, maybe fifty or so. We were talking with our producer and record company and once you have that stamp of Get Ready For This they said forget about the new songs. I write songs everyday because I’m involved with different projects. With 2 Unlimited now I have a great singer and performer and she will sing everything live.
We have sneaked a little bit in to the studio trying to do some stuff so you’ll never know what happens but there is no pressure as I’m doing what I like by playing shows, entertaining people and travelling around the world. I don’t want to be to greedy! I’m blessed to be doing this so we’ll see what happens. Just get back to the state of mind of let’s just make music. Twenty five years later I’m still here and have the energy to keep it going.
2 Unlimited along with Technotronic, Real McCoy and Dr Alban play the following Australian dates as part of Mega 90s
Friday 17th March Perth, Metro City
Saturday 18th March Adelaide, Thebarton Theatre
Monday 20th March, Melbourne, 170 Russell
Friday 24th March Brisbane, Eatons Hill
Saturday 25th March Sydney, Big Top
Tickets and more information at ArenaEnt