In such a competitive scene, it’s always good to see new talent emerge, especially someone who’s not only making it as a DJ, but is multi-talented, and uses these musical skills to produce his own music. Drums, keyboards, guitar and vocals - it’s all in the mix when Karuva makes a new production – and today see the release of his debut EP, ‘Shockwaves’, on Canadian label Phoenix Music. Join us for a journey into the deeper side of house music…
How would you describe yourself?
I'm a house producer and DJ that likes to think out of the box. In the studio, I play live instruments, in the form of electric guitar, freestyle piano and drums - which will also be incorporated into my live DJ sets.
How would you describe your sound?
Thanks to my musical background and travels abroad, I'm influenced by artists as wide ranging as Jamie Jones to Jimi Hendrix. My productions are house, but there is an element of deep funk and breakbeat in most of my tracks.
Who are some or your favourite house producers right now?
Really digging the musical output of guys including Hot Since 82 and Kolombo right now – it’s cool, it’s underground and it rocks dance floors.
Your debut EP is out today, can you tell us more about it?
'Shockwaves' is released by Phoenix Music (www.phoenixmusicinc.com), which is a cool Canadian house label. I'm glad to be signed by this imprint, as others on the label include rising stars such as Will Clarke and legends such as Todd Terry. The 'Shockwaves' EP is out today as a Traxsource exclusive followed by release on Beatport and iTunes.
What have you got planned for the forthcoming months?
My second EP (called 'Bomba') will be out in April; it’s a three-track journey through my interpretation of deep house. I've been taken on by a manager and booking agent, I'm starting a radio show and I’m looking forward to DJing in Ibiza this summer at various label parties.
How can people connect with you?
'Shockwaves' is out today, check it out below.
Central Scotland in the UK seems to be in love with house music all-dayers, with various bars and brands running their owe regular parties, many of them having built up a loyal following over the years. One of the most popular, taking place every Bank Holiday and a few other selected dates throughout the year, is We Love Fundays at Mini Bar in Glasgow city centre.
The events have been running for over two years and were created by good friends, Allan 'Culoblanco' Whiteford, Robert McGloan and Chris McPartlin who run the event with an ethos of playing the ‘most upfront house we can find’. With another event happening this Sunday, May 26, we catch up with the trio to find out more about the event and what we can expect this weekend…
What was the idea of starting the We Love Fundays events?
Daytime parties always seem to have a good feel and vibe about them, plus we wanted to extend our regular Sunday night to invite DJs from Glasgow that we rate and are keen to have play to our crowd. Plus everyone loves an all-dayer!
How are the events received by your regulars?
Our regulars love our all-dayers and every DJ we have come play for us always speaks very highly of the bar/staff/crowd and venue. It's always a great atmosphere and the regulars are very musically aware and we appreciate that. We try different things to keep the crowd involved and so it's not just another event with lots of DJs playing. In the past we've had a black light party, classics nights, Xmas jumper party etc. The bar is only small but it creates a great atmosphere.
What has been your favourite memory of the all-dayers so far?
We have had a couple of themed events over the years, which have worked really well…
Allan: Last summer we had loads of inflatables bobbing about the place. That was fun.
Chris: We had a classics all-dayer and personally for me anyways, Stephen Lee playing Gorgie Porgie’s ‘Life Goes On’ was a highlight. It took me back to my roots of the original room 2 in The Tunnel Glasgow and proper house music. Other than that, at one all-dayer, a punter turned up with a three feet garden gnome, which was bizarre but brilliant.
Robert: Our recent all-dayer on the Easter Sunday was pretty special, from the off you could feel the crowd and the DJs were right up for it. After only two or three hours into the all-dayer it was in full swing, the bar was at capacity and the front door was working on a one in one out basis. The atmosphere in the bar that day was second to none… also a couple of cheeky classic house tracks were thrown in that day too and the crowd lapped them up.
Who's the Mini Bar's clientele?
It’s aimed at those people who enjoy house music, those with a discerning ear. The owners, Ryan and Brett, plus the staff all really enjoy house music so that means we’re all on the same page on what type of crowd we try and get involved. Over the years the bar has grown from strength to strength and the We Love Fundays name is well known now in Glasgow.
How hard is it to do a house/dance event in Glasgow when the majority of the city seems to demand pop and R&B?
Very hard at times, demand for the MTV culture does make it difficult to push a sound and a night but we manage it quite well. There are some good house music promoters coming through though. You just have to look out for the right events.
Any plans to take the events into a club afterwards?
We have spoken about the idea and we are planning on doing this in the very near future. It's tough with so much competition out there. It’s all about getting our timing right to create something everyone will enjoy. It won't be a run of the mill thing though, we want it to be special.
What sets your all-dayers apart from others in the city?
Fresh house music with a cool mix of boys and girls. We plan our night properly, from what slots to give each DJ, to try and build a night perfectly. A lot of thought goes into each one and we constantly strive to keep it fresh. Lots of other nights are only interested in DJs who bring 50 mates, we’re the opposite. We would rather have a good DJ who plays the right music and is aware of the crowd than be banging it out just for their mates. We are not thrashing out techno or progressive bangers, we’re pushing good, upfront house music. The atmosphere is really good within the bar too, a lot of good friendships have been made from our night and within the bar.
Beatport Mixes recently announced a very special presentation by Ferry Corsten. The Dutch trance DJ had the honour of being chosen to be the front-page headliner and to showcase his ‘Once Upon A Night, Vol.3’ mix compilation in a unique two-part Beatport Mix. Beatport Mixes allows DJs to profile themselves, allowing visitors to purchase their DJ mixes and unmixed tracks.
After years of racking up tracks and remixes, Netherlands’ Ferry Corsten dropped his album ‘Once Upon A Night in 2010’, and it’s since become a signature part of his brand. He turned the release into a tour experience and has subsequently made it into a series, the third installment of which he released last year. Now Corsten is back with a two-part Beatport Mix which incorporates all of that music into a pair of hour-plus sets. To honour the occasion, Beatport grabbed the long-time DJ/producer to get his thoughts on the mix and to see what we should expect from him in 2013.
Do you have a couple of particular favourite tracks that you’ve included?
I have quite a lot of favourites from the compilation. To name a few; Analogue Sound Department’s ‘Greetings’, Yuri Kane feat. Jeza’s ‘Love Comes’, Cosmic Gate’s ‘Crushes’, Ferry Corsten vs. Markus Schulz’s ‘Stella’ and ‘Give It to Them’ by Festen. I have been playing these tracks during my live sets and the reaction of the crowd is always so great whenever I play them.
What’s your preferred gear setup for recording a mix?
Two CDJ-2000s, a DJM-2000 mixer and my Mac.
Any highlights of 2012 that you’d like to tell us about?
There have been many, really. The two Corsten’s Countdown specials have been amazing. The Full On shows in Ibiza and the big festivals during the summer were definitely some of my highlights of 2012.
What should we keep our eyes out for in 2013?
I will be hosting new Full On shows in 2013, which are going to be amazing. I will also be releasing new music which you should definitely check out!
With Toolroom Knights’ sixth birthday set to kick off just days after the brand finishes its season-long residency at Space, Ibiza, it’s little wonder that Toolroom’s flagship party has gone from humble beginnings to a worldwide force in such a short space of time. The celebrations this time around take in no less than six tour nights up and down the UK, but the six theme doesn’t stop there. We caught up with label boss Mark Knight for a rundown on what else to expect…
Hi Mark. You’re literally just about to round off a season-long residency at Space Ibiza with Toolroom Knights. How has the summer season been?
It’s been fantastic to see the night really grow and grow throughout the season. It was a big step up for us going from Monday to Wednesday and filling Armin van Buuren's shoes, but I have been overwhelmed by the amazing feedback so far. Doing 19 shows in total has really afforded us the opportunity to showcase the complete spectrum of Toolroom talent. We tried to make the line-ups like mini festivals, so there is a diverse musical flow to the night; not just the same records over and over. It’s been a great experience playing at all 19 shows, and I actually feel like I am part of the club!
Let’s talk about the next big set of gigs for Toolroom Knights – the 6th Birthday tour. You have changed direction from last year; can you explain a bit more?
The concept of the tour is this: 6x6x6x6. 6 parties in 6 cities for 6 pound and I will play for 6 hours in each. After doing last year’s sellout show at Brixton, in London, we felt it only right to this time around bring the party to you guys. We will be kicking the tour off on the 5th October at Digital, in Newcastle - just two days after our closing party at Space in Ibiza. We then go to London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Belfast, before finishing up in Dublin for the mother of all knees-ups! For more info of the tour and tickets check my website: www.djmarkknight.com.
Can you tailor each six-hour set for each club before you play it, based on previous regional experience?
When playing a long set, of course you need to think about what you are going to do, because the key to a set of that length is the flow; when to go up, when to go down and how long for. I usually break it into sections. But the real skill of DJing is reading the vibe of the room, understanding the psyche of the crowd and being able to adapt to it with a knowledge of your music that allows you do so seamlessly. I have various residences around the world where I play these kind of long sets, so I have plenty of experience to draw from. I love to do these sets, I totally immerse myself in the night; it’s about creating that synergy between me and the crowd that then allows me to be musically experimental and not a jukebox!
You’ve deliberately limited tickets – is this so each gig has an intimate feel? Can you explain the concept behind this?
After doing Brixton last year, which was as much a concert as a club gig, I wanted to flip it, and as you say do something more intimate. Dance music is going through a phase right now of massive grandiose shows - which are brilliant - but I wanted to strip it back to the fundamentals: one DJ playing a cross-section of music all night long. Switch the emphasis back to the music, which essentially is what Toolroom Knights is all about. We chose some of the best clubs up and down the UK and Ireland where we felt this idea would translate the best.
Even though tickets are limited, you’ve opted for an extremely low ticket price on this tour – just £6! Aside from the continued ‘6’ theme, why did you opt for such a low price ticket?
Club entrance fees have gone through the roof with the rise of the megastar DJ, so we thought it was time for a little payback. People’s credit cards will still be recovering from Ibiza, so at £6 hopefully everyone can come and party with us.
In the six years since Toolroom Knights conception, what has changed? How has the brand evolved, and are its core ethics the same?
The brand has grown and grown. From our humble beginnings in the baby box at MOS, right through to now, where we have global residences in the world’s finest clubs; from Moscow to Miami, Ibiza to Israel; from sell out concert shows, to hosting our own arenas at some of the best festivals across the globe. This coupled with a compilation series that has showcased some of dance music's superstars, from Fedde Le Grand to Funkagenda. But the ethic has remained the same; we are not about jumping on bandwagons or trends, the only remit we have here is quality. It’s all about being part of the family here at Toolroom and that’s been the secret of our success: pulling together as a team, from the artists to the amazing people we have working here.
Back to the tour; will there be any supporting acts?
The idea of the tour is that I play for six hours (club opening times permitting), or all night long. On the night I will be musically weaving through it all, from deep house to techno and everything in between – doing exactly what Toolroom Knights stands for. Our show in London at Ministry will be slightly different. I will still play for six hours in the box, alongside Jack from the Friendly Fires, who totally blew me away when he played for us at our opening party at Space in Ibiza - with possibly the best set I have heard all year! Also on the night we have German house legends, Lovebirds, alongside the UK's most underrated band, Crazy P, performing their sound system show which is a must see! All this plus the fantastic Toolroom Knights residents; Pete Griffiths, Mark Storie and George Andrews - who always smash it.
What’s the next big project you’ll be working on?
After we have finished the tour I am scaling back my live diary. November and December will see me concentrate all my efforts on nailing my first artist album. I am super excited about getting back in the studio. I have been talking about the album for a good two years, it’s finally time to finish it…
For more info, click HERE.
DJ Ralph Good specialises in house music that is custom-designed to evoke warmth and happiness, and DJs such as Fedde Le Grand, Dubfire, David Guetta, Chuckie, Tiesto, Axwell, Bob Sinclar, Erick Morillo, Pete Tong and Armin van Buuren are among those that have supported Ralph’s releases. We spoke to Ralph to find out exactly where his influences started and to find out his all time top ten tracks…
Hi Ralph, what are your first memories of listening to music and being fascinated by it?
My sister introduced me to some Djaimin mix tapes and his legendary Dancefloor Syndroma mix shows in the early-90s. From that moment, I knew that house music would fascinate me for many years.
Do you remember the first piece of music you ever paid for?
It was probably Snap! ‘The Power’, I’ve still got it on vinyl! One of my first CD singles was The Good Men’s ‘Give It Up’. For those not in the know, ‘The Good Men’ are nowadays known as Chocolate Puma, I can’t believe how long they’ve been in the game already. Big respect!
Did you play any instruments at all as a child?
Yeah, I’ve played the trumpet and before that, some keyboard. My sister learnt keyboard, so she used to teach me some chords when we were young.
When you eventually ended up interested in DJing, what DJs and music was it that really caught your attention?
One of my best friends was a DJ and I liked the way he did mix tapes with all that new unknown music. I wanted to get into the DJ thing as well. After getting into dance music through the Dancefloor Syndroma shows, I got really hooked by the Detroit sounds of Jeff Mills. Later on – as most of my friends were into hip hop those days – I gave it a chance and got introduced to mostly French hip hop (DJ Cutkiller, IAM etc.) and some good US and German stuff.
Do you remember the first time you played a gig?
Yeah, it was a pretty cool club in my hometown and I had to play for seven hours, which was pretty normal at that time. I mixed dance music and hip-hop… and it worked pretty well!
Talk us through your all time top 10 tracks and why they are special to you…
1) Coldcut – Walk A Mile In My Shoes
Sampling is an essential part of nowadays’ dance music. Coldcut were one of the first artists (if not THE first ones) to use sampling successfully in their records. They definitely deserve the number one spot on my top ten, especially after delivering one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard – with a great message: “Walk A Mile In My Shoes'.
2) De Lacy – Hideaway (Deep Dish)
One of the very best house tunes ever produced. Genre defining for over a decade and one of the tracks that got my heart and soul into house music. Pure class!
3) Notorious BIG – Juicy
My favourite hip hop tune – period!
4) Freundeskreis – Esperanto
Freundeskreis is/was my favourite German hip hop band. With ‘Esperanto’ they send a great message to the world: “Music is a universal language!”
5) Cassius – 1999
I loved and still love the French house/disco sound of the late-90s. Stardust, Modjo, Daft Punk… so many good tunes! The Donna Summer sample from ‘1999’ is probably my favourite tune out of that time.
6) Mos Def – Mathematics
With Mathematics, Mos Def and DJ Premier delivered one of the fattest hip-hop beats ever. It’s been released on the Flipside of Mos Def’s classic ‘Ms Fat Booty’. A fantastic EP over all and probably one of the reasons I kept on following the hip-hop scene while playing out house tunes in my DJ sets.
7) Stargard – Wear It Out
The golden disco times: It was tough to select a single tune that represents that era. It could have been Chic, Sister Sledge or Chaka Khan, but I’ve chosen Stargard as it got sampled by Pete Heller for his huge track ‘Big Love’, which is still one of my favourite House classics!
8) X-Press 2 – Muzik X-Press
The ‘Dancefloor Syndroma’ radio shows by Djaimin were THE radio shows that got me into house music as a teenager. ‘Muzik X-Press’ reminds me of those times more than any other. The early-90s were great times!
9) Prodigy – Breathe
When those UK guys released ‘Out Of Space in the early-90s, their sound sounded like it was from ‘out of space’ to me! So powerful – so fresh – so much energy! I’ve picked ‘Breathe’ to get into my Top 10, as it’s the one Prodigy tune I’m still playing from time to time in my sets.
10) DJ Chus Presents The Groove Foundation – That Feeling (De Poniente Remix)
This track gave me goose-bumps when I heard it first in Ibiza in 2002, and it still does! The guitar riff is second to none – pure magic.
The disposability of the digital era is becoming ever more apparent, and a casual glance over the Internet tells you that most people aren’t too happy about it. Anyone with more than a passing interest in the music business will no doubt have seen the vinyl-championing ‘no-one remembers their first download’ meme that’s been doing the rounds of late, and the digital versus physical debate looks likely to rage ever fiercer. For Dimitri From Paris though, the problem isn’t the particular medium used, but rather the lack of care that is put into the finished product. Obsessed with the details of things, care and attention are cornerstones professional outlook and values that are demonstrated in his latest endeavour, ‘Dimitri From Paris Back In The House’. Here, we speak to the modern-day King of Disco about his views of role of format in music, his approach to the art for the remix and his enduring love of disco.
What first got you interested in pursuing a career in music?
I never really thought of making a career out of music, I was a music lover, I was buying a lot of records for my own enjoyment and I didn’t know how to actually interact with the music other than listening to it. Also I was going to a lot of concerts. One concert was a showcase of US hip hop that had all the early old school rappers, dancers, graffiti artists, MCs and also DJs spinning the records over which they would rap, and it’s the first time I saw someone do something creative with the record which was scratching the records rhythmically, looping sections, beat juggling between one deck to the other and I was totally impressed. That was kind of like an epiphany that you could interact with the music, you could do more than just listening to it. I remember going back home and trying to scratch on my turntable. It was pretty horrible, but that was the starting point of me wanting to interact with the music that I loved and from then on I started making edits, mix tapes, sending those out to radio stations and I realised that other people were interested in what I was doing, and it became my job gradually from there.
What it is about disco that gets your blood pumping?
The fact that it is live. It is done by a bunch of people and you get to feel the energy from those people. There are two distinct sides; a quiet raw side with a rhythm section (drums, percussion, bass, keyboards and maybe guitars) and then the classical orchestra; a group of really classically trained people, usually older than the rhythm section. The two sides getting together to play dance music is quite unique, and I feel the soul of all the people involved there. The most classic disco sound is the Philadelphia sound and that is exactly it; a group of younger people from the ghetto areas of town and another group of older people, slightly more educated, coming from different paths with a really long dedication in music behind them. They would get together and it would work, there would be someone in the middle directing all this, usually the arrangers or the producers, and they would make those guys play dance music which would end up being on a disco, and I believe it kept influencing dance music years on, even though today we do use computers. They infuse some kind of a groove, a way of doing things that is still replicated and emulated in a lot of different forms of current dance and house music, so for me it really is the blueprint and the mother of all things dance.
Do you think that modern-day producers can really complete with the amount of time and money that used to be spent on creating music?
It is true today that there isn’t as much production budget in music as there used to be decades ago, but it’s not necessarily bad. The point isn’t to try to recreate exactly what was done years ago; it’s great to be inspired by it and find new, more modern ways, of doing it, and not having a budget actually forces you to be more creative. In a way it can be positive as long as you’re not lazing out and making things really quick without much thought which sometimes you can hear in too much music today. But if you actually spend time, and you have a love for what you do, you will always be able to turn out something that’s good artistically.
What has changed since you mixed your first ‘In The House’ compilation?
What has changed is the economy of music, it’s been going down gradually for the past 15 years. Now everything is digital pretty much; people do not feel the urge to own something that’s physical as they are happy to have tons of music in their digital devices. Music has become the air you breathe, the water you drink; you don’t think that much about it anymore. It’s lost a lot of that value whereas before you would save money to buy a record and when you’d get the record you’ll just hold it in your hands and look at it while you listened to it. I feel that this has been almost completely lost, but I am still trying to give the people who want something to hold to, something to look at and something to read. It’s important that music keeps some kind of value, not necessarily monetary value, but effective value. I think it’s important to carry on with physical objects that actually enclose the music that we love.
How long have you been collecting vinyl? Do you think it’s something you’ll ever stop doing?
For about 30 years, and you have to remember that 30 years ago you could only buy music on vinyl, so it wasn’t a choice to be cool or not to be cool; I wanted music, I had to buy vinyl. Today you have the choice to buy vinyl and it’s kind of a niche market, as oppose to the whole digital thing. I do not buy vinyl if I can find it digitally, but I still buy CDs. If there’s something that I really like I will store it for archive purposes. Of course I’ve kept all my vinyl from the past 30 years, but even though there are still a few things that I’m looking for, like some older disco tracks. I’m not an obsessive vinyl collector, because I have so much, and so much more that I haven’t even explored that I feel like I should rather concentrate on what I have rather than just stacking up, obsessively, new things. So I don’t buy vinyl so much, but I still use my collection; everyday I will digitise something, everyday I will try to pull out something I haven’t used, so it’s a real asset to have all this music at your fingertips. It could be in any form though; it could be digital, it could be vinyl, as long as you contain it, as long as you take care of it. As a music professional, it’s the music that matters, not what it’s recorded on to. If you want to enjoy the music more on vinyl I totally understand that there is the need to hold on to something, so both are valid. I don’t like the debate, vinyl against digital, where one is better than the other. What really matters in the end is the music; if the music is good and you want to hear it then that’s all you need to do.
You have quite a fastidious attention to detail, where do you think this comes from?
I am very much of a detail person. I enjoy things that are not just one dimensional; you can go back at them and every time you look at them (or hear them if it’s a piece of music) you notice something new. So when I set up to create something – like this compilation – there is a piece of music, the packaging, the artwork; there are many things involved and it’s very important for me that in all those things everyone can find their tiny little thing that they prefer. The point is that you won’t spot them necessarily all at once. Every time you go back at it you might hear something new, you might see something you bypass, and it makes the whole thing more interesting. In the long run, details make everything richer and that’s why I love them so much.
So you’ve just mixed your ‘Back In The House’ compilation... tell us about some of the tracks on there that really stand out for you…
When I do a compilation it’s not a question of finding hits and putting them together so that one track would stand out more than the other, or people would relate to it or know it. I’m trying to get a musical programme that flows nicely from the beginning to the end, however, there are still a few things in there that, personally, stand out because they’re from producers or artists that I think have their own and unique sound. Among them is Poolside. It’s a duo from California, and they have that total Californian sound, almost surf and beach boy, to their music which is made with very strong elements of house music and I haven’t heard anyone mixing it so perfectly before. Also in there are a few older tracks; one of the records I like from the past that I think sounds super-fresh today is Murk’s ‘Pain’ under their Fury alias. I found it amazing that it sounds so current when the track is a good 20-years old. Also I very much like Storm Queen and Morgan Geist, I have two tracks from him on the compilation and the way it is produced, the vocals of Damian Scott, give it a very unique atmosphere and that is something that stands out for me. Finally there is a disco track in there that is very dear to me because I did this remix a few years ago. It was commissioned and I wanted to try to get a release of it and it was really hard to make it happen and finally with the help of everyone at Defected we made it and I’m really proud to have Dan Hartman featuring Aleita Holloway ‘Relight My Fire’ on the compilation because it has been a true labour of love to make it happen. It’s right at the end of mix CD2 and it’s kind of unmixed. If you’re a DJ out there wanting to play it, I made sure that you could.
As well as the musical aspects, you’re always heavily involved in the artwork on your projects… tell us about the idea behind the ‘Back In The House’ design…
Every time I do a musical project it is also very important for me to have a hand in the designing and the packaging of it. It has to make sense with the music and also with my universe as a person and as an artist. So I always work with people that can build up off my ideas and in this particular case I worked with designer Juan Kelly, a true and very good disco DJ, but also a great graphic designer and on the photography side I was very happy to work with Jamie Baker who also worked on the first ‘In The House’ compilation. I came up with this idea that I wanted the whole project to look like a ‘60s American thing kind of inspired by the TV show Madmen, of which I’m a big fan. Since I never had the occasion to do such a design I felt it was a good thing with the ‘Back In The House’ to do the original ‘50s style.
How has the transition from vinyl to CD to currently laptop been for you and how has this altered your sets?
As a person I love vinyl, the object, something that I can hold on to, look at, read, listen to, but as a professional vinyl has been a tool, and this tool, to play music, has been superseded, first by CDs and now by digital files played off digital devices like laptops. I think this is progress in the sense that when I was only able to carry 80 to 100 vinyl in a record box, I can now have unlimited access to a huge music library and for me it’s much better the wider choices - the wider spread I have of music, the better for me. So it wasn’t difficult as a DJ, the only difficult thing was to digitise a lot of the vinyl or get copies that were clean enough to stand the test with the squeaky clean digital files. Once that was done I really enjoyed playing of CDs and I enjoy playing off digital software now because it actually allows me to do more and to be more creative than I was with just playing vinyl on two turntables.
In the past you’ve done remixes for major labels… did you feel there was any pressure to deliver a certain style or were you always allowed to do your own thing?
It looks like the major labels still act like they were doing 20 years ago by throwing like 20 things on the wall and trying to see which one sticks and concentrating on that. In the case of remixes I was always free to do what I wanted, they would use it or not but that was and still is the way they do things. Now, major labels can get like 10 to 20 remixes and instead of choosing the right remix for the right track they would just get everything they can and just throw it out there and see what happens. I think the best current example is Lana Del Ray; how many remixes have been done of her? I’ve totally lost count, it’s as if they’re not really interested in the result, just the quantity.
You’ve re-edited some ‘classic’ tracks in the past by some very high profile artists. How do you approach these – do you look to respectively tweak the parts you like or go for an all out change?
Every time I’ve set up to do a remix I think it’s essential that I don’t destroy the spirit or the memories the listeners have of a particular song, so I will be extremely cautious in remixing it, preserving all the elements and retaining the spirit. In the case of disco songs this means keeping all of the original recordings; not replaying the drums, not changing acoustic for electronic, everything I add I added in a way that you shouldn’t be able to notice it much, and that’s how I see remixing. I shouldn’t be taking the forefront, the forefront is the song. I should be on the background making it better than what it is, taking it to another area, like from a radio mix, taking it to the clubs with a more DJ-friendly mix. But I would never try to replace the original artist. I’m just the remixer, the producer, and I’m here to give my best to make the sound the best possible way in a direction that I’ve been asked to do it.
Tell us a bit about the difference between the two mixes on the compilation…
The compilation has two CDs; one CD is a live recording that was done at the Horse & Groom where Defected hosted one of their regular Thursday night parties in London and I really wanted to try and capture what was happening in a small and cosy intimate space with also the sound of the crowd reacting to the music. I’m not happy with live recordings unless you can hear them in context and that means with the crowd that was there that particular day. The other mix is a more traditional studio mix. I also love studio mixes because it allows me to do much more tweaks to make it as detailed and as flawless as I can so that it is a continuous flow of music that you can enjoy and it doesn’t have the urgency or the bumps of the live thing, so they can be good for a few different situations.
Where are some of your favourite places to DJ? What is it about them that appeals to you?
The best place to play would be any place where the crowd is open-minded and is up for a party, where they don’t expect you to be following some kind of rule or some kind of style. That could happen anywhere but lately I’ve found going back to London I got the same vibe I was having there maybe 15, 20 years ago but with a completely new generation of people. I always liked in England how people would react to the music and how music would always be very important to most of them and I can still feel that the new generation has carried that on from the older ones and its very inspiring that in this day of age this still happens. Another place that I’ve always enjoyed playing at, I’ve been playing at for like twice a year for the past 15, 20 years, would be Tokyo and Japan in general where the people who go to clubs would have quite a different approach from the rest of the world; they would go to a club to see a DJ as they would go to a concert to see a band or an artist so they’re very focused on the artist and they usually have a very precise knowledge of the artist’s background. They really know all about you and react really cheerfully and very emotionally to the music, so it’s a blessing for a DJ to have such a captive crowd.
‘Dimitri From Paris Back In The House’ is out 27th August on Defected Records.
Ben Watt interviews long-time Buzzin' Fly mastering engineer Miles Showell at leading mastering room, Metropolis Studios in London. With an apparent resurgence in the popularity of vinyl and many people claiming that vinyl sounds better than CDs, Ben digs deep with Miles to get his expertise on the technical differences and what sounds best and why…
There is a revival of a belief among home-listening record buyers that vinyl sounds better than CD. CDs seemed to have been contaminated by a dislike for MP3s. They're 'harsh', they're 'digital', people cry. It is causing people to reject their CD collections, and buy music on vinyl again often at very high prices. A love of 12" packaging and the rituals aside, it is baffling: surely for most people in domestic environments they are imagining things.
I completely understand your frustration. While vinyl records are truly capable of extremely high digital-beating fidelity, this can only be the case if the record was (i) cut well at the mastering stage, (ii) processed and pressed well at the factory, which is the really hard part, (iii) then kept clean and stored in ideal conditions and (iv) finally played on a decent turntable with a very well-engineered tone arm fitted with a good and correctly aligned cartridge that in turn has a clean and undamaged stylus all of which needs to feed a high quality RIAA vinyl disc pre-amplifier.
Exactly. Who is going to be able to afford or set all that up?
Yes, as you can see there are a hell of a lot of 'ifs' in there. Obviously all of the above is very possible but it is difficult and more expensive to really do vinyl records justice. It is just not feasible that all the people who feel records "sound so much better than CD" have been able to achieve all of the above.
I am sure part of it is that people tell themselves it sounds better because it is 'analogue' - a word that now has near mythical proportions enriched as it is with popular modern connotations of authenticity and organic content. People say vinyl sounds 'warmer' but surely this is invariably down to low-frequency boosts and compression put into cartridges to maximise volume out of a turntable - a bit like that old 'Loudness' button on old-fashioned amplifiers. It is not really anything to do with what is on the vinyl itself. Do you think there are also other reasons that have caused this perception?
It could be that they have very poor CD players (not impossible, as the CD player has been de-engineered of late as domestic audio equipment is being made cheaper and cheaper). Or maybe they are not playing manufactured CDs but home made burns made in computers. The CD burning drives bundled with most home computers leave quite a lot to be desired (poor jitter rates when burning audio CDs especially if they are burn very quickly ie x64 which people tend to do also).
And the blank CDs used?
Yes, the variability of blank media which can also have a very negative effect on the audio. This is especially apparent at the budget end of the blank CD market. Here at Metropolis we like to use Taiyo Yuden Gold blanks for audio CDs but these cost us something in the region of 70 pence per disc. Very few people in the real word would spend that much on blank CDs when they believe the hype (well, theory really) that "digital so makes no difference as long as the 1s and 0s can be read".
And the source material?
Yes, a lot of people burn CDs from their iTunes library so obviously they are starting with lossy compressed sources (MP3 and AAC) and not full bandwidth audio. Sometimes there is also the problem of compound compression: a manufactured CD is ripped at high speed using a lossy 'codec' to the computer, then a "copy" audio CD is burnt for a friend who, in turn rips it into his computer via a lossy codec and so on and so on.
So the chances are in most environments a CD player is still a good choice?
Yes, a decent mid-priced CD player will probably sound better than a decent mid-priced record player set up in most cases just because a decent turntable, arm, cartridge and RIAA pre-amplifier combinations are more expensive that their CD counterpart as well as difficult to set up correctly and maintain. But, I should also add, a decent turntable could quite easily beat any CD player (regardless of budget) fed with poor quality CDs.
It seems the playing field for comparisons is not exactly level...
As someone who also loves the vinyl format I am chuffed at its recent revival, however I am not sure all of the people who profess to hear a difference are really doing fair comparisons.
What do you choose?
Here in the studio, if potential or new clients want to hear how the room sounds, I will often play vinyl records and a lot of people are staggered at the potential fidelity of this pretty crude music carrying format. So it is a hard one to call. At home I will happily play vinyl or CDs (with a slight preference for vinyl probably because the RIAA equaliser in my amplifier is so sweet sounding) but as you might expect I have pretty good gear that I have acquired over time as well as access to an excellent engineering team who can help me tinker with it!
And for the average home listener?
For most people a good CD is as good as it ever needs to be. The problem is that CDs in the domestic environment - for the reasons outlined above - are often not quite what they used to be.
“For what it's worth, readers, I listen to my iTunes on shuffle all day long with tunes at varying levels of compression and quality. For me the tune rather than the obsession over its pristine sound quality is what matters on a day-to-day level. I agree with Miles that well-made vinyl can sound startlingly good on amazing gear, but surely one of the chief reasons the professionally made CD arrived in the first place was we were sick of the scratches and crackles and crappy tone-arms of the early-80s, especially when listening at home. CDs have their drawbacks but let's not imagine ones that aren't there. And then let's all bundle round to Miles' house to check out his vinyl setup when he has a moment!”
Commencing his dizzying journey at the tender age of 18, Avicii has unquestionably amassed greater success before turning 22 than most could ever hope to achieve in a lifetime. His tracks ‘Bromance’ and ‘Levels’ swept across every club in the world in 2011 taking the self-taught, fresh-faced Swedish luminary to become one of the most in demand acts in electronic music at the moment. This year, Avicii appears at Creamfields as he makes his debut headlining the South Stage, we catch up with him to find out what we can expect from his performance.
Creamfields is going to be your first festival date in the UK, are you planning to explore the festival a little while you’re there?
I’d love to explore the festival if I get the chance. Creamfields has an amazing reputation and is probably one of the coolest dance festivals in Europe. I'm really looking forward to taking part in it myself for the first time.
Have you been to any festivals in the UK before?
No, I’ve never played at any UK festivals before so I’m looking forward to checking out how you guys do it. I’ve heard it can get very muddy!
What can we expect from your headline performance?
As I say, I’ve never played any UK festivals before – I’ve been looking to do it for a while now so I’m super excited to be headlining Creamfields – I’ve heard it’s an incredible festival so I’m going to put absolutely everything into the show and hopefully show you Brits a seriously good time! Also, expect some previously unheard material that I will premiere for you!
Have you spoken to any artists about Creamfields who have played there before?
Yes of course, I’ve heard nothing but amazing things so I’m very excited!
You’re going to be performing alongside a predominantly Swedish roster on the South Stage at Creamfields, what is it about Sweden that allows for such a strong electronic music scene?
I guess it's because we inspire each other. We've had really strong producers for the last 10 years and the guys that really got me into producing were the Swedish House Mafia and Eric Prydz. If not that, it must just be something with the water in Sweden...
Your career has catapulted in the last couple of years, have you had guidance from any of your DJ peers?
The person who I couldn’t have made it without and who constantly provides me with a lot of direction, guidance and support is my manager, Ash. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without him.
How did you get into DJing and producing?
A friend of mine told me about a program that could be used to make music without playing any instruments, I got intrigued and downloaded a demo to try. I got hooked from day one
What inspired you to create the track ‘Levels’?
‘Levels’ actually started out as a remix of another track and was originally meant to have a different vocal line. I heard the track ‘Finally Moving’ by Pretty lights, which used the Etta James vocal and I fell in love with it. I placed the Etta sample on ‘Levels’ instrumental and it just worked so well!
Are you a fan of Etta James’ music?
Ah I’m such a huge fan – I think she was a truly incredible talent. Voices like hers don’t come around very often.
What advice would you give any budding DJ/producers out there?
The key is determination. Don’t give up and continue producing, putting your music out there and getting yourself noticed. Producing is really a full time job.
Can we expect an artist album from you in the near future?
Yes, I definitely intend to put out an artist album in the future, it’s called ‘Battery Packer’. No just kidding, we'll see about an album. Nothing planned yet but I want to.
What’s the difference between your Tim Berg track and an Avicii track?
Tim Berg is a little more underground. Not super underground, but it's more experimental, I can do exactly what I want with that. Avicii is a little more of my big room melodic sound.
Where does the name Avicii derive from?
A friend of mine once told me about the lowest level of Buddhist hell, called 'Avici'. Later on when I tried to register that account on Myspace, that name was taken, so I put an extra 'i' in the end of it. Since then I've really grown attached to the name.
You’ve described yourself as stubborn and ambitious in the past; can that make producing music difficult?
Ambition is very important in this business, and in any career path you choose. It’s what drives people and without it, achieving success is basically impossible. As for stubborn, I guess it’s not the best quality but it does work in my favour sometimes and gets me my way, I think it is important to stand up for what you believe in.
What are your aspirations for this year? And what have been your highlights from this year so far?
My biggest highlight was performing alongside Madonna on the Ultra Music Festival main stage back in March – that was one of the highlights of my whole career to date if I’m honest. That and the House for Hunger charity tour my manager Ash and I did in the USA in January. It was so good to give something back to one of the countries that has shown me so much love over the past couple of years.
Have you got a five-year plan?
Not as such, no. I mean I’m incredibly lucky to do what I love for a living. In terms of future goals, or a five year plan, I just want to keep doing what I’m doing for as long as possible. My manager is the one with the big plan. Hopefully I’ll be doing what I’m doing for longer than five more years!
How do you relax when you’re travelling and producing so much?
I watch a lot of series and movies and when I'm home I try to hang out as much as I can with my family and friends.
Who are your DJ heroes?
The guys who really got me into producing house music were Daft Punk, Eric Prydz and Swedish House Mafia.
What equipment do you prefer to DJ with?
Pioneer CDJ 2000s every time.
Have you always been a fan of electronic music?
Yes – well, ever since I was a teenager, but not exclusively. I also love ‘60s rock and hip hop. There’s so much amazing music out there and I listen to everything from classic to dub-step.
How do you decide on what tracks to play in your sets? Does it depend purely on the crowd or do you have a clear idea of the music you want to play?
I tend to play a lot of my own stuff in my sets, whether it’s originals, remixes or special edits that I’ve done. That doesn’t mean it’s not important to feel the vibe of the crowd – you can’t be a good DJ unless you react to the crowd and their response.
How do you get in the mood to produce music?
I don't know actually, the ideas and melodies just pop up in my head. When I'm on the road I often do rough drafts on the melody with my laptop and when I'm back in the studio I complete them.
Out of all the tracks you have made, which is your favourite?
That is such a hard question. I love them all in some way to be honest.
Is there anywhere in the world you haven’t played yet but would like to?
I would really love to play in Japan. I've heard so much about the people and culture there so I would love the opportunity to experience it myself.
Avicii will be headlining the South Stage at Creamfields on Saturday 25th August bank holiday weekend. Tickets on sale now www.ticketline.co.uk / Tel: 0844 888 4401 / Info: www.creamfields.com. Best be quick though, there are only 2 Day Camping ones left!
We think she has one of the most distinctive and best voices in dance music. She’s also pretty damn hot too, but we say that with no disrespect and without detracting from her obvious vocal talents. Nadia Ali’s voice is sensational and lends itself to a 4/4 beat with utter perfection, probably the reason she has supplied the vocals on some of dance music’s biggest tracks. With her latest track, ‘Believe It’, with Spencer & Hill, out now, thanks to Strictly Rhythm, we catch up with Nadia to talk music, DJs, influences and collaborations.
Hi Nadia, your new single is called ‘Believe It’, what is the idea behind the track and how did the collaboration with Spencer & Hill come about?
Spencer & Hill did a remix of my collaboration with Sultan & Ned Shephard entitled ‘Call My Name’. I loved the result and so when they approached me to do a collaboration with them I was very open to it. They said they were looking for a song that had a very fun vibe to it so I just wrote some lyrics about how it's important to unwind after working hard because it's easy to lose the sight of the work-life balance. Also, I wanted there to be a positive message to everyone. You can really do anything you put your mind to as long as you believe in yourself.
You've got some massive collaborations up your sleeve, working with Armin van Buuren, Sultan & Ned Shephard and EDX, how do you choose who you work with?
First thing I look for in a collaborator is the quality of their productions and whether or not I am honestly a fan of their sound. Secondly, it has to work as far as timing for both of our schedules. There have been plenty of times where I would have liked to work with a certain artist but because both of our touring schedules are not in sync it doesn't always work out.
How did you get in to the music scene and how did you end up working in dance music?
I've been singing ever since I was a child. I never planned working in dance music though. It was a fluke to be honest. I was a club kid and I loved listening to dance music ever since I was a teenager. I was working with my producer on more hip-hop driven beats but I asked him to try a dance beat for fun. We recorded one and it turned out to be a huge hit. That song was ‘Rapture’.
Where do you get your inspiration from when writing songs?
I get most of my inspiration from real life experiences but sometimes if I have a really interesting conversation with someone and they share something that they've been going through, that also serves as good inspiration for songwriting.
You have been described as the diva of the current global dance explosion, how does that feel?
I do feel very blessed to be in such a unique position in my industry. One of the highlights for me was the International Dance Music Awards earlier this year when I performed an acapella version of ‘Rapture’ into a full on performance of ‘Pressure’. I also won two awards that night and felt so appreciated amongst my peers.
‘Rapture’ was remixed by one of the biggest DJs of this year, Avicii, and it became a huge hit again. How did the remix come about and did you meet Avicii?
I was in touch with Avicii's manager, Ash, and I remember he had told me how much he admired that song. I already had a really cool remix done by Tristan Garner but I wanted something a little more commercial as part of the overall remix package. Tim Bergling aka Avicii was on tour and did the remix while he was on trains and airplanes but got the job done and as we all know now, he re-ignited the song for the younger generation of dance music lovers. I actually didn't meet Avicii until months after he had finished the remix.
You have quite a collection of club smash hits including ‘Pressure’ and ‘Rapture’, what’s your secret?
I just bring it from the heart. My songs come from personal experience and what seems like premonitions. Logistically I'm most in my creative zone when I'm writing in my studio. It's my wonderland!
Dance music has become massive in the US over the last year, why do you think that is?
Actually I was walking in the airport today and saw Deadmau5 on the cover of Rolling Stone. The entire issue is dedicated to EDM (Electronic Dance Music). I'm shocked. I think the music industry has always been cyclical and historically you've had booms in different formats; the disco era, the grunge era, the hip-hop era etc. Electronic dance music is finally having its time. However because the majority of this music is made on computers, I really do believe it's here to stay. Our world is in a technological utopia and there are younger and younger kids making incredible music. Dance music as we know it today will probably sound completely different in five years, 10 years and definitely 20 years time but I think its origins are eternal.
Where is your favourite place to perform?
It is a very hard question to answer but Egypt is one of my favourite places in the world to perform. I love the energy of the fans in the country and I've been fortunate to perform in some very exotic backdrops while I have performed in Egypt.
Who’s your favorite DJ at the moment?
This is a tough one. I will tell you two of my favorites right now - Tommy Trash and Diplo. Both have an original sound and when they spin live I find myself dancing through the whole set. They're not too commercial and switch things up throughout their sets.
Who would you like to collaborate with next?
Believe it or not, although there are a lot of amazing EDM producers/DJs that I would love to work with, my dream collaboration would have to be with Bono from U2! I have loved his voice ever since I was a child and he's been a huge influence in my musical career.
What’s your longtime goal in your musical career?
That line between dance music and other genres is quickly diminishing, and personally I'm ready to grow as an artist. In the long run, I would love to start writing and collaborating with artists in different formats and I think I can bring a different style of songwriting to other genres. I'll always stay true to my dance roots though!
There are a lot of women out there trying to break in the scene, what advice would you give them?
Just do it! (I swear I'm not sponsored by Nike, ha ha!) The EDM world is a male dominated and DJ dominated industry and that's a double-edged sword. On one hand, I stand out because I'm a female singer/songwriter. On the other hand, I am also treated as competition. In all honestly, you really have to get up every morning and feed your passion. My work is music and music is my life. That's how it should feel, always.
What’s next for Nadia Ali?
I'm looking at incorporating some live instrumentation into some future recordings and experimenting with some more traditional indie sounds. I'm also in the middle of expanding my live production and taking a bigger show on the road! Personally, I'm really excited about my move to Los Angeles. It's a brand new city and such an amazing new energy for me.
Spencer & Hill & Nadia Ali ‘Believe It’ is out now on Strictly Rhythm
Unedited, straight from the heart, check out what Paul van Dyk has to say about each of the tracks on his recently released sixth album ‘Evolution’. Paul spent much of a recent flight to the States writing and reflecting on the album making process, sharing background and anecdotes on how the various productions and vocal collaborations came into existence. Here, in his own words, track-by-track, is the evolution of ‘Evolution’.
‘Symmetries’ feat. Austin Leeds
“At the start of ‘Evolution’s production I assembled this hybrid studio set-up which I could take into clubs. Through keyboards and effects boxes, it allowed me to work pretty much any type of new element you can imagine into a track. I’m not sure if clubbers realized it at the time, but they were essentially interacting with the music making process of ‘Evolution’. Their reactions were showing me which direction each of the tracks should take. Austin started ‘Symmetries’ by producing this piece that had the drums, percussion loops and bassline and sent me this wonderful backing track. I had a piano hook line in my head and in the club I started playing it over the top. This was the first time that the two parts came together and the track we arrived with at the end became ‘Symmetries’.”
‘The Ocean’ feat. Arty
“I met Arty in Russia sometime in 2010 and we talked at that point about making music together. That has led to two tracks on the album. On ‘The Ocean’ I was sent over some strings and sequence patterns, which I was really feeling. I then came back in with other elements and it turned into this big back-and-forth mechanism. Arty brought the topline, which is really harmonic and angelic and we used it really more like an instrument than a vocal. We both felt very strong about the parts that had gone in and I then took it and began to properly produce it.”
‘The Ocean’ (inc. Las Salinas Mix) is released on Beatport, July 2nd.
‘Eternity’ feat. Adam Young
“Eternity’ was actually the third track that went over to Adam before he was really inspired to write something. When the first one went over to him he came back and said, “you know Paul, I really don’t know what to do with this – it’s a completed track!” I said: “ok, no problem, let’s try something else”, so I did and he e-mailed me back saying: “wow, this is realllly complex. I don’t really feel there’s the space for me to write something”. So we ended up jumping on the phone and having this incredibly wide-ranging conversation, talking about everything from the weather to life, religion, the universe and everything. I found he was this clever fascinating guy with a really inspired perspective way of looking at life. So then I went back and started to work on a production that had more of an open end, that didn’t box Adam in. It allowed him to add in the story element to the song and that dynamic worked beautifully.”
‘Verano’ feat. Austin Leeds
“To me there’s this definite attraction-of-opposites with Austin and myself, which I find pretty absorbing. When we were making ‘Verano’ I was going to the studio in Berlin, which was covered in snow at the time and Austin would be dialling in from Miami. We’d be working on the same track, but he’d be looking out and seeing cloudless skies and palm trees! With my music making, it always has its start-point in the dark and dirty basement clubs of Berlin. When that meets Austin’s background – Miami: very expressive, very outgoing, sunny, irrepressible - I think the strange connect that lies between those two elements is what makes if work so well.”
‘I Don't Deserve You’ feat. Plumb
“Plumb’s this singer/songwriter who has gotten really big through Tennessee’s Contemporary Christian scene. Watching TV one evening I heard a track of hers and was really impressed. We contacted the show’s musical supervisor and he put us in contact with her. ‘I Don’t Deserve You’ was quite a tricky one to pull off. I was after something that had real depth to it, which would suit her voice. At the same time it was really intimate but also had some lift to it. It was quite a precise balance to strike. She came back with the most wonderful lyrics and vocals and the minute I heard them I absolutely knew they were going to work in the track!”
‘The Sun After Heartbreak’ feat. Sue McLaren & Arty
“Arty and I went into the composing phase on the track and basically came up with something that was very straight beats, 132bpm, with a kind of progressive house lean to it. As we got further into it, I started to see that it could work better as something much more ‘lifty’ and at that point we changed its direction and gave a lot more momentum and drive. So with the tempo rise, we began to test the drum&bass elements and felt that really worked too. For me Sue McLaren is one of the best new vocalists to come along in the time since ‘In Between’ and ‘Evolution’. I just really, really love her voice. I’d been working with her on a different track, but one that was in the same key and one day I had this flash of inspiration, tried them together and the synergy that was happening between all the aspects became really compelling”.
“This track came about through a fairly unusual path too. I’m a big fan of this group from Liverpool called The Wombats. They had a new album called ‘This Modern Glitch’ due out and they asked if I could work on a remix for the first single ‘Tokyo’. Their label then had a change of heart, switched things around and opted for another track as a single instead. I was in the studio trying to work this out, trying to make something of this other track – which funnily enough was called ‘Techno Fan’! - and it just didn’t seem to be working. I got so frustrated in a way and needed to do something to release the musical pressure. That ‘release’ resulted in ‘Rock This’! It was kind of like an outpouring of artistic frustration!”
‘Dae Yor’ feat. Ummet Ozcan
“One of the attractions for me with working with Ummet was that he’s not ‘everywhere’ artist yet. Like Sue McLaren, for me it’s about catching very talented people early in their career. So Ummet’s still a fresh name and he’s doing really cool, quite underground and different tech-ish trance. We met at Tomorrowland and we talked about doing something together at that point. Ummet started sending files back and forth and ‘Dae Yor’ was what came out at the end of that development.”
‘All The Way’ feat. Tyler Michaud & Fisher
“Tyler started out doing some tracks for VANDIT, as well as a few remixes and during the A&R process he sent us over this track. The note that came with it said he wasn’t really sure what to do with it, or which direction to take it in. At that stage it was this really kooky, quirk-filled, kinda dubstep-ish, electro. I liked both of the elements but I told him I didn’t feel they worked together. Sometimes you get a cruel irony like that. So he asked if I’d be interested in coming in and working on it. I recorded a basis that I felt was a lot more compatible to Fisher’s song”.
‘If You Want My Love’ feat. Caligola
“Caligola are these two guys, Gustaf and Bjorn, who front Swedish alternative rock band Mando Diao. They were telling me about this whole new persona they’d created, under the name Caligola, which was more like an artist collective than the band. They were in the final stages of writing their album and they suggested that they take something from it and turn it my way. I was very touched by this. It was a generous thing for them to offer. So I took the track and came at it from quite an avant-garde angle, while still, I think, keeping the strong rock presence of the vocal in. Its very much a sidestep for the album, one of the least expected tracks on there and quite an experimental one maybe.”
‘Lost In Berlin’ feat. Michelle Leonard
“Cities are a pretty communal inspiration in general and I mentioned to Michelle that I’d done ‘New York City’ on ‘In Between’ and felt that I was a bit uncomfortable with never having done anything based around my home city. She didn’t miss a beat and said ‘leave that to me.’ She came back 3, or maybe 4 weeks later with this incredibly beautiful track that somehow really captures Berlin’s past/present essence. The lyrics are quite voyeuristic too. She’s never told me exactly what they were about and of course like all songs, they’re open to interpretation. To me though ‘Lost In Berlin’ feels like it’s about a relationship that may or may not make it. Sometimes hopeful, sometimes melancholic and introspective but with this beautiful, slightly damaged edge to it.”
‘Everywhere’ feat. Fieldwork
“Fieldwork is Johnny McDaid under a new artist name. With the song he was aiming to deconstruct the traditional love song, I think. As standard, love songs always define everything as huge – big, grand gestures, full-size words - lots of heavy import and meaning. It’s kind of love through the Hollywood magnifier, I guess. If you’re really being honest about it, love is in fact something small, intimate and personal. It’s about relatively minor details because after all, it is only about two people at the end of the day.”
‘A Wonderful Day’ feat. Giuseppe Ottaviani
“Aside from being one of the most exceptional musicians I’ve ever met, Giuseppe is also the most wonderful, stunning captivating character you can possibly imagine! We’ve done a lot of music together in the past and that’s going to continue for a long time. For me it’s not foreseeable to have a Paul van Dyk album without Giuseppe’s involvement somehow. There has been studio chemistry there from the start. You can be in the studio with him for 5 minutes and after that time a track is already in motion. There’s no ‘trying’ with him, we’re always in sync and there’s only fluid production.”
‘We Come Together’ feat. Sue McLaren
“For me the unification of people on the dancefloor is one of the most enduring, motivating factors throughout my career to date. Electronic music has been bringing people together for 25 years now and I think its done it more effectively than any other music movement in modern history. The fact that it draws people together from all different backgrounds, religions and citizenships and marginalizes negative attitudes and violence is wonderful. I spoke to Sue, and her co-writer Stephen Massa about this and they came back saying they thought they had an idea for it. I gave them a backing track, which had quite a melodic trance tone to it and they quite quickly brought the draft vocal for it. I loved it as it encapsulated what we were talking about perfectly.”
‘Heart Stops Beating’ feat. Sarah Howells
“I met Sarah for the first time at a big festival in Hamburg. I grabbed her as she came off and said ‘hey, listen, I’m playing all the tracks you’re singing on anyway, why don’t we collaborate in someway?’ She sent me ‘Heart Stops Beating’ and I really lost it. The track has trancey elements, it has electro aspects and there are even rock parts in there, with the great boomy, bassy guitar. With every year that goes by it becomes harder and harder to categorize a greater percentage of electronic dance music that’s released and that I find a generally a positive trend. Maybe one day terms like electro, house, trance and techno will cease to be used entirely and music will either be ‘good’, ‘bad’ or ‘ok’! Who knows!”
Dub Pistols, one of the most widely acclaimed acts of the past decade, are back with a new album 'Worshipping The Dollar', through Sunday Best Recordings. We grab main man Barry Ashdown and his talented band to talk music, consumerism and the forthcoming Bestival.
So, how are you guys?
We are good thanks. We’ve just finished the first part of out Worshipping The Dollar UK tour which has been a great success, and now we’re heading into the festival leg.
2012 has been a big year for you guys. Do you feel that this could be a breakthrough year?
Not sure you’re gonna see us taking the charts by storm anytime soon, as our records are not really the type of thing you’re gonna hear on daytime Radio 1. But, that's how we like it, music without compromise, the kinda cheese shizz that you hear on radio just ain't our way. That said, our tours are getting bigger and we have just picked up deals in the US and Australia. Our idea is to do it the good old fashioned way of getting on the road and playing to as many people as possible, building up a proper following of people that are into real music. It’s that which has given us longevity and credibility… it's better to be accepted by your peers, producers, artists and real DJs, than some celebrity daytime DJ who doesn't know anything about music. Keeping it real.
Your new album 'Worshipping The Dollar' seems to be a slight change of direction from your older material. Was that a deliberate decision?
It's not so much a change of direction as it is visiting some of the subjects we used to deal with pre-911. I just thought that with the current situation around the world financially and the rioting in England, that it was time to put back a bit of a social message in our records. We are not gonna bore the shit out of people like Bono but we felt something had to be said. We have also gone back to a more uptempo feel on this album, as it has been working for us live, so I wanted to take those ideas into the studio.
You're still with Sunday Best for this album. What do you love about them?
Sunday Best are our family and have always supported us in whatever we wanna do. The label has a great team and a fantastically eclectic roster, which suits the Dub Pistols perfectly. I've know Robby and Sarah Bolshi for years, they saved my career when we were down and I have the upmost respect for them
You're playing at Bestival this year. Are you looking forward to playing at such a huge festival?
Bestival has been our home since it started and this year we are playing the main stage on Saturday. There is no bigger honour or gig, we are a festival band and with no Glastonbury this year this is the big one, roll on September!
How did the collaboration with Rodney P come about?
This is the third album I've worked on with Rodney P, who is to me, the best UK rap artist out there. He blazed the trail that the others are now enjoying the fruits of and he was the first to rhyme in a UK style. Without him, there would be no Dizzie etc, he deserves respect and way more props than he gets, but I guess that's why we get on so well, he keeps it real. We met up a mountain in France years ago, partied hard and have been friends ever since.
What do you think the future holds for Dub Pistols?
Tour, touring, touring, touring, oh and touring! When the world’s had enough of us we will just fuck off!
From its old residency at Turnmills, to its new home at the Ministry Of Sound, The Gallery in London has been an institution in the UK’s Friday clubbing calendar. Now, with the recent release of the night’s latest compilation, ‘Social Deconstruction’, we catch up with its resident of nine-years, Gavyn Mytchel to talk music, memories, tunes and legacy…
The Gallery has turned into a ritual of life for many EDM enthusiasts in London and surrounding counties. You see many of the same faces every week. What particular aspects of the night do you think stimulates that level of dedication?
Big line ups week in week out, amazing production, fantastic members VIP bar where everyone hangs out at from 11pm till 1am. Everyone knows each other up there, which is great.
‘Social Deconstruction’ is the new Gallery CD. What were your aims whilst compiling it?
I was sick of seeing the same compilations with the same tracklists, I wanted to do something unique, something with dedicated tracks to The Gallery, their own experiences over the years from either playing at Turnmills or Ministry. A release for our Gallery fan base to have, which is a bit special.
How did you genre-structure the two mixes? What do you feel is the tone, vibe and progression of them is and how do you classify the music on board?
The Gallery has always maintained a musical journey throughout the night, not just trance from start to finish we always have tech house to progressive then building up to trance. The first two tracks on each CD are a bit more progressive sounding which is exactly what we provide at the club, getting the clubbers in the mood without wearing them out too early.
Unusually for a compilation, almost all of the tracks used are either purpose-dedicated or special Edits bespoke for ‘Social Deconstruction’. How did you set about coaxing all those artists into producing them especially for it?
I did 90% of the negotiating at ADE last year. Each DJ has been very loyal to us over years and all agreed without hesitating. They all said it was the first project in years that they have been able to go into the studio with fun ideas as they have certain memories from playing down there. It was more about doing a track for The Gallery rather than their solo careers
Your own ‘EC1 To SE1’ track leads out the first disc. Tell us a bit about that?
I made this back in 2008 when Turnmills had just closed and we had five weeks break before starting at Ministry, I never sent it to any labels, so thought it would be a good track to feature on the compilation. I knew that I would be opening the box every week and wanted to play more prog, leaving my end of night trance days behind at Turnmills. I played it out nearly every Friday and it always went off!
Do you remember where you were when you heard that Turnmills was to close!?
I knew back in 2003 that the lease was up in 2008. Danny Newman and I were doing the banking and he told me then. I was shocked as I never thought of it ending at that time, I had five years of knowing but never said.
The Gallery and Turnmills were, for years, synonymous. Do you feel that after five successful years at the Ministry, that has finally been put to rest?
Yeah for sure, we have a new crowd at Ministry (a very good crowd as well). The Turnmills clubbers are now all in their mid-30s and the new crowd never really knew much of the those days. So the transition has worked well. RIP Turnmills!
The Gallery’s imagery and flyer art has always been exceptional. Who’s the artist behind that?
ED Coward. The man is a legend. He has been with us for 12 years. He actually started two months before I started at The Gallery back in 2000. He used to do weekly artwork back at Turnmills but now we are at Ministry it’s a monthly flyer, he also does all Lock N Load artwork. Quality!
How does the work division break down?
It’s a two man team, I do all the bookings for all four rooms, all paperwork, flights, hotels, ground transport, itineraries, tech specs, set times, riders, guest list and also The Gallery tours. Nish is the online man making sure everyone is promoting through their online sites, listings and interviews, etc.
How long have you been resident and lynchpin for the nights now?
I have been resident since 2003, so nine years. I’ve been in charge of the night since 2006.
What’s the most vital attribute a DJ must have in order to be booked to play The Gallery?
Lots going on musically, large fan base, also someone who gets behind the promotion of the nights.
What is the craziest/ wildest/ wackiest thing you’ve seen during your time there?
Seen so many crazy things going on, most recently our Gallery girls got up on the bar in the 103 room with their iron boards and irons and started ironing t shirts then throwing them out to the crowd, they were like ‘what the f**k!’ Tea parties on the dancefloor. We had Predaton for the Judgement Sunday night, he was awesome and everyone had their cameras out!
What’s your all-out favourite Gallery memory?
It was back in 2001, Daniele Davoli’s last track of his set at 4am was a remix of U2’s ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’. The whole crowd was singing then Judge Jules came on, slammed some banging tracks on and the crowd were awesome. The Turnmills laser going up and down then the pyros going off – wow!
What is your personal all-time Gallery anthem?
Too many to chose from, I have a memory of so many tracks that are associated with certain DJs. Push’s ‘Strange World’ was one of mine when I was playing last set but I think Airwave’s ‘Above The Sky’ is the main one, classic!
Where would you like to take The Gallery next? What’s the next hill to climb and what would you like its legacy to be?
Sounds are changing, some line-ups are harder to fill the club, and it’s a hard job trying to do 48 Fridays a year. Keeping it fresh, pushing and pulling at the scene. I would like to keep doing more CDs and touring around the world. If we can reach 20 years old (2015) and being London’s longest running weekly club night, I would be more than happy with that, leaving a fantastic memory to thousands of clubbers.
The Gallery’s ‘Social Deconstruction’ is out now.
As the whole of the UK prepares for a massive Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend, we caught up with Catz ‘n’ Dogz to find out what we can expect from their set on Sunday June 3rd at Circus’ massive party at The Masque in Liverpool. On the same bill as Yousef, James Zabiela, Adam Beyer, Heidi, Lewis Boardman and Scott Lewis, this is shaping up to be one of the top nights of the whole weekend…
Hey guys, where have we caught you this morning and what are you up to?
After a long and exiting weekend it's time to do some really boring stuff, bank transfers, invoices etc. Than some time in the gym and finally get back to eating some healthy food. Usually Monday and Tuesday is pretty relaxing for us after a hectic weekend. We like to chill and catch up on some reading etc...
This weekend sees you make your Circus debut. What do you know about the party and what are your experiences of playing in Liverpool?
We've never played in Liverpool so we are very exited. Everybody we've spoken to has told us that the party is awesome and actually, of late, every party we've played in the UK has been very good. We have a couple of new remixes finished and ready to test and also some unreleased stuff from our label so we're sure that the party will be the perfect place to test them out. The line-up is huge and finally we're gonna have some time to hang out with Heidi, who we became good friends with when she was living in Berlin.
We know that your own productions range from blissed out house to booty bass. But how would you describe your sound and do you feel that you always get to represent it fully in your DJ sets?
From the very beginning when we first started out as DJs, we discussed what kind of DJs we were looking to be and we both agreed that we wanted to be able to play any type of music that we liked. This is actually why we changed the name from 3 Channels to Catz ‘n’ Dogz. Everybody looked at 3 Channels as a 'Minimal' project, and so when we started Catz ‘n’ Dogz we were always trying to make sure that people didn't think of us as just one style or sound. We think that this always allows us to surprise people and gives us the freedom to play new stuff that we are discovering. We literally listen to every possible kind of music.
Your Pets Recordings label is on fire right now and you have a strong core of artists and friends involved. Was this always your plan, to create a tight Pets family?
We are trying to keep a very friendly atmosphere in our label, that’s true. Almost 90% of music we release is from our friends or friends of friends. In this way we are always sure that as well as the music, we also like the people that are behind it. Now we feel that the natural way to progress is to start throwing Pets parties. We get more and more requests about them and we're gonna look to start on that arm of the label soon. Over the next year we are working on the identity and context. For us context is always really important, because these days everybody is doing label parties and we wanna do something special. We already have a residency at Watergate in Berlin for our label nights so it allows us to invite artists and also back home in Poland we are working on a lot of stuff.
Last summer saw the release of ‘Entrance Song’ by Eats Everything. An EP that went on to soundtrack, not just the rest of the summer, but the whole year, catapulting him into the spotlight. Did the success of that release surprise you guys?
We were really happy that people liked the track so much and so many DJs were playing it. It showed us that even being a small label without a team of 10 employees, you can still release successful quality music. Another great thing about it is that Dan (Eats Everything) worked so hard for so many years and this really put him into the spotlight. The record was kinda crossed genre too, and this is another reason why it was so successful.
Do you both take the responsibility of A&Ring of the label and are you constantly hunting out new signings or do you find that they are now coming to you?
It's a very complex subject, on one hand we are just signing people we know but as DJs we are constantly looking for new music. But we have also been chatting with some artists over Skype and email. KiNK is a great example. At the beginning we were just talking about music and exchanging ideas and then he did remix for one of our releases and now we are working together on a track. So yes, we are both doing the A&R. If it was only one of us, it would all look and sound completely different
Anything exciting from Catz ‘n’ Dogz and Pets Recordings that we should be keeping an ear out for over the summer?
The new Eats Everything ‘Jagged Elbow’ EP was recently released. And for summer we've prepared some exciting new and quite different material. We have some very nice new music from Chmara
Winter with remixes and then a big Audio/visual project that we are still working on, and after the summer we have a release from A1Bassline. We don't want to get stuck in the monthly release
cycle. There is so much music coming out right now that we really believe that keeping the quality is the most important thing. Otherwise people would get bored or lose interest...
Volkova Sisters are an exciting new band from Budapest, Hungary. Emerging from the underground DIY scene there, and attracting much attention after a head turning performance at SXSW this year, they’ve just released their new EP ‘Hope’ this week. We caught up with the band to find out more...
Hi guys, firstly nice to meet you. How are you?
Hey, nice to meet you! We're quite happy, there's a lot of positive vibes around us from fans. They seem to like the new EP and it's great to see them enjoying and spreading it.
Are you guys in Hungary at the moment?
Yes, we're currently based in Budapest.
What's the music scene like in Hungary at the moment?
It’s small, everybody knows everybody, but it’s started to change quite fast in the last five years. We have a lot of fresh, very talented people from the younger generation who are ready to go wherever it's necessary to gain the right feedback. As they grew up online, their taste buds are developed in an international arena, but it's combined with some sort of local aesthetics and sounds. They really should be more on the radar, people would be surprised what's been growing in Hungary and Eastern Europe in general.
How would you describe your sound?
Dalma: If I close my eyes, I see an abandoned shore before the storm… big wide landscapes, with lots of grey and blue tones. The tone is definitely a bit dark and you hear the ‘80s synth influence, which kind of qualifies the sound as darkwave, but it has also been described as folktronica, which can be true sometimes. But our favourite is goth tron!
You site your influences as broad ranged as My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins. Are there any other big influences on your music?
We listen to a lot of music all the time, so it's hard to say. When we first started working together at the very beginning, there was that DJ Hell track we'd listen to a lot – ‘Die Angst’! There was this great vinyl, and a good friend of ours were DJing at the place where we used to stay those days. We listened to this track so much that I can honestly say that the Berlin electronic sound influenced us and gave us a kick-start. Later on, we got influenced by many different and wider ranges of music based on the periods we were in. The sound-scapes we use and hear often remind me of the utopian worlds of cyberpunk because of the huge spaces and how they're built.
Would you say your music is influenced by the sometimes challenging political situation in Hungary?
Well I think we were reacting on the side effects, the general mood of the people, the forlorn atmosphere where you can't really see any possibilities, especially in the creative fields. But you can also see that people who used to be too lazy to care are changing because they also feel the surreal developments. And when it becomes personal, you have to do something against it. A lot of people actually leave for "inspiration" to other countries, but you can also see young guys becoming more active and want to let their words out. We've also been challenged by this, and our way of dealing with it was to write this EP - hence the title. We'll see about the next steps, but there are strong plans of moving our base elsewhere.
2011 was a big year for you guys, playing everywhere from SXSW to supporting Lamb on tour. Has 2012 been just as busy gig wise?
We got some great opportunities, especially in the region. There's Exit Festival in Serbia, which is a giant festival, so it's good to have our name in that circle. And, we'll play some great smaller ones that tend to be more experimental with really open-minded audiences e.g. Poke Festival in Slovakia or Black Noise in Hungary. Apart from the bigger names, there is amazing talent emerging from this area and it's really exciting to be part of it.
Do you prefer playing live to recording?
Even though we love to fool around and experiment with sounds in the studio, we're just as much a live band, and are constantly working on the show. All of us come from very live-oriented bands, so the stage presence is really important to us.
How would you describe the live experience at your gigs?
We don't really sense the people around us, when we play. It's more about the energy between us. If the energy is working, people are feeling and reacting to it.
Finally, what does the remainder of 2012 hold for Volkova Sisters?
Our second EP has just been released, although we have started work on our third one a month ago - we plan to release it in late autumn. The other plan is to move to other cities to work, we need different influences from what Budapest can offer right now.
We catch up with Carl Kennedy, owner of Wasted Youth records and resident DJ for Subliminal at Pacha Ibiza. As the Subliminal Sessions gears up for its new summer season on the White Isle, we talk to Carl about his roots, his influences and most importantly, his new ‘Subliminal Essentials’ compilation which was released today…
Hi Carl, your recent release ‘Once Upon A Time’ has proven to be a dance floor hit, you've been described to have a sixth sense when it comes to great tunes, what's your creative process?
‘Once Upon A Time’ is growing nicely and getting huge support from the likes of Tiesto, Pete Tong, Calvin Harris and Erick Morillo so I'm happy about that. A sixth sense, hmm I guess it's that feeling you get when you hear a record you just know it is massive or has the potential to be massive. Music is an individual taste and opinion.
How did the collaboration with Cheyenne come about and what was it like to work with her?
Cheyenne is a top model in Australia so she's pretty well known. I've been friends with her and her family for quite a while, Sydney is like a village so most people know most people. Cheyenne also lives in New York City now and she played me some of her ideas, one happened to be the lyrics to what is now ‘Once Upon A Time’. We laid the beat down the next day and she recorded the vocals in 20 minutes and that was that. Cheyenne's solo work is something to look forward to in the future. Since most Aussie chicks are brought up like blokes, Chey is a lot of fun to hang out with.
You also had the music video done for the track, what is the idea behind it?
Well it's only my second music video so I'm very open to let the director pitch his ideas. All I wanted was for it to be shot in NYC, it ends up with me being a male gigolo but you don't know it until the very end and Cheyenne is the madam. A little bit different I suppose.
You played at Subliminal's recent Miami party at Amnesia, how was it?
Like all Subliminal parties it was amazing, lots of fun, great energy and did I mention fun? WMC was my favorite to date. EDM in USA is going through the roof thank God. Also Amnesia is one the best clubs out there.
What was the highlight of the night?
The Subliminal party was great with the best lineup. It was nice to play on the same bill with one of Danny Tenaglia's last sets before he retired, that's historic.
You are known to live around the world, Australia, USA and other places. Where do you feel most at home? How does the house/dance crowd differ in different countries in your opinion?
For me, home is NYC now but when I'm in Ibiza I feel at home, when I'm in England I feel at home and when I'm in Sydney I feel at home so that's a hard question. I come from an Irish/English circus background so travelling is in my blood, I will always be moving around but as of right now NYC is my home. The scene is changing all the time around the world. Right now Australia is virtually non-existent on the club scene but has amazing festivals and USA is just setting new bench marks with clubs and festivals. On the whole people love music all over the globe so the world loves dance one way or another.
What's your most memorable DJ moment so far?
I don't really have one that stands out on its own. I'm lucky to play at the best clubs and with the best DJs out there. I think one that stands out is playing with The Swedish House Mafia after their groundbreaking Madison Square Garden show in NYC. That was epic beyond belief so I was happy to be part of it.
The summer is just around the corner, what are your plans?
My plans are to release the follow up to ‘Once Upon A Time’ called ‘Lost In Rio’ featuring Joel Edwards under my own label called Wasted Youth and to play Subliminal Pacha and Europe mainly. I'm really going to start pushing the brand of Wasted Youth and I have just signed an exciting young producer from Sweden called Oskar, so I will be releasing him into the world this summer as well. So a lot of work ahead and a lot of fun.
What's your prediction for this summer's chart topper?
Good question and who knows. There's a lot of good music out there and it's a great time to be making dance music. I'm just hoping my new releases do well with ‘Lost In Rio’ out June 12th and the third release with Nick Galea and Joel Edwards called ‘Out Of My Mind’, which I think will be a monster going into August.
You've mixed the latest Subliminal compilation, out today, what kind of vibe can we expect from it?
A little bit different to what I would normally play, a bit more of the new stuff from SYMPHO NYMPHO which is all just banging. A lot of energy, a lot of pumping and definitely fourth gear all the way.
How did you choose the track list for the compilation?
I had Subliminal and Strictly Rhythm send me all the new stuff that was up for contention and I spent about a week going through all the tunes whilst I was running around Central Park and flying to gigs. Then I just got it down to the final 14 and mixed it. You kind of see the mix in your head eventually so that's how I did this one.
Who would you say are the future big names in the house music scene? Do you have any particular DJ favorites at the moment?
I think the whole scene is strong and there's a lot of support between the DJs and for the young guys they really have to step up which is the way it should be. The Other Guys from Sydney I think will be a name to keep an eye on, The Authors again from Sydney but who are based in Germany now, Oskar from Sweden and my kid brother Jack Kennedy. It won't be long before he releases his own productions. When you're hungry enough, that's a dangerous fuel.
What's your favourite classic track?
‘You Don't Know Me’ by Armand Van Helden.
Finally, what's next in the pipeline?
To build Wasted Youth as a major player. Release originals and keep building my profile. Help kids with a charity in Brooklyn Bronx. Land on the moon.
‘Subliminal Essentials’ Mixed by Carl Kennedy is out today
As they get set for their Exit Festival appearance on Sunday 15th July, we catch up with Canada’s Art Department. Now part of the Crosstown Rebels gang, Art Department is Kenny Glasgow and Jonny White, two DJ/producers who between them have released some great music in their long-standing careers, particularly on Kenny’s Method 11/11 label and Jonny’s No. 19 label.
Tell us a little about yourselves, and the type of music that you play for people who may not of heard of you before reading this.
My name is Jonny White and I'm an alcoholic. Kenny Glasgow and I are both from Toronto, Canada. I'm currently living between Toronto and Barcelona, Kenny between Toronto and London. We've both been DJs for quite a long time, Kenny 20 plus years and I'm approaching 15 behind the decks. I started writing music about six years ago, Kenny's been writing for over 10, but was on "vacation" until I asked him to write an album for No.19 music about four years ago. As a younger DJ coming up in Toronto I can tell you from an outside perspective that Kenny was the most respected underground DJ in Toronto for ages and was actually quite successful internationally on his own about a decade ago when he was working with Tiga's Turbo label. Although I've been playing music for 15 years, I only just made music my soul focus within the last seven years.
How did you meet Damian Lazzarus and the Crosstown crew? How instrumental was that connection to the success of the Art Department project?
We actually met when I picked him up at the airport some six years ago to play a Canada Day event for my crew back in Toronto. We were doing a really small weekly Thursday night at a venue on College St and picked up the booking after the club he was meant to play had their sound repo'd. Imagine it hadn't gone down that way and we didn't cross paths… forward to four years later, with countless shows, festivals and after-parties together, we're now good friends and Damian's asked us to partner up and do a remix job for Crosstown which more or less lead to Kenny and I writing together for the first time. The success of this project is undoubtedly in part due to launching it on Crosstown. I don't doubt that we could have done similar damage debuting on No.19 but the stars were really aligned for Crosstown that year with Deniz's and Maceo's debut albums all coming out around the same time as ours.
How have the worldwide Social Experiment parties been received?
The events have been amazing! I've been blown away by all of them. They're all sold out shows and the events are really attracting the "right people". We started off the year with one @BPM in playa Del Carmen on the beach with about 2500 people and it’s been full steam ahead with these shows since. WMC in Miami, Chicago, Toronto, NY, San Fran, Manchester, Italy, Switzerland and looking forward to our show during Sonar in my home town with Konrad Black, Deniz Kurtel, Nitin, Russ Yallop, Miguel Puente and the rest of the No.19 family. That’s one of our main focuses this year. You can come up with all kinds of creative and interesting ways to present your product and relay the ideas and the vibe behind the label but there is no substitute for having the heart of your label, the artists, get together and play for people. Nothing can portray what we're all about and the energy and passion that’s driving the label the way a live event can.
How do you adapt your sound from clubs to festivals and what can fans expect from your set at EXIT?
We play really, really loud.
What are your feelings on the growth and commercialization of dance music in America?
I think there are obviously positives and negatives to what’s happening in America. It's great to see the music crossover and reach a bigger audience. It seems it was almost an overnight tipping point into America as far as how quickly it's become part of popular culture, even though house music's beginnings were in the States. You can look at it from several perspectives, being part of the underground and not necessarily being able to really relate to the type of dance music that people associate with this phenomenon. One perspective would be that it’s moving in the wrong direction and what the kids consider to be dance music today, the Skrilex's and Swedish House Mafia’s isn't "real" house or dance music, get angry about it and keep your distance. I think that although I don't consider our music to have anything in common with what they're doing, a lot of people are being introduced to EDM through that shit, and if it’s growth and acceptance into the mainstream means that there are more opportunities for us to play our music in the States then it’s a positive. We do what we do, and make the music that we make regardless of what’s going on, and if we're able to reach more people now because of what’s going on then I'm cool with the direction things are heading in…
Team Sneak or Team Angello?
What does the future hold for Art Department
We've been planning to make the move to a live performance for some time, that’s always been the plan but we've been touring too hard since we started this thing to put it together. There are always too many shows, too much travel, remixes to deliver and fun to be had, so it's been put on the backburner. We've decided to start working on our next full length album and we'll likely be writing with the idea that the music should be performed live this time around. We've got quite a bit of music coming out in coming months though… Jamie Jones & Art Department 'Our Time In Liberty’ (single on Crosstown Rebels), Storm Queen ‘Look Right Through (Art Department remix) (Defected), two new Art Department singles on No.19 Music, one being a collab with Konrad Black as well as the next mix compilation in the SOCIALEXPERIMENT series on No.19.
‘House Masters DJ Chus’ is a collection of 20 of the Spanish DJ’s original tracks and remixes, all brought together for Defected Records’ legendary House Masters series. Following on from luminaries such as Louie Vega, Dennis Ferrer and Blaze, Spain’s Chus L. Esteban is one of the country’s finest house DJs with not only great solo productions, he’s also part of Chus & Ceballos, where they developed their now famous Iberican sound with their releases. Compliments of Defected, we catch up with Chus to find out more…
How does it feel to be awarded the title of ‘House Master’?
Wow House Masters, now that’s a heavy responsibility. It’s an honour for me because this is a precious reward for all the hard work I have done all these years, but to be honest being part of the Defected house family is more than enough reward.
Your label Stereo is very well respected around the world… what is the most challenging thing about the running of the label?
I’m so proud that everyone knows about the label. One of the most challenging things about running a label is to keep your own identity but at the same time to evolve and improve your sound to keep your style alive.
Your love affair with house music started at the infamous Alien club in Madrid… what was it like to be involved in the acid house movement from so early on?
Starting my career in the acid-house movement was an eye opening experience. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 15 and it was so crazy!
When did your break come in terms of DJing?
I started to feel like a real DJ in the early-90s, in a paradise called Portugal. I was resident DJ in a club called (1.53) which was the place where thousands of international DJs came to play for real clubbers. I played alongside Carl Cox, Deep Dish, and Roger Sanchez. That was the place for the real music of the time.
Can you remember the first record you ever made? Do you still have a copy?
I had some musical experience before, but the record I perceived to be my first baby was ‘Voices Of Savannah’. This was a tribal record which was the starting point of the Iberican sound and from there I started to focus on percussion and lyrical elements in my tracks.
Tell us about your residency at Teatro Kapital… you were resident there for 10 years, correct? How did the club and music scene change during that time?
I was a resident at the first house club in Madrid for ten wonderful years where house music had the golden age in Spain.
Tell us about some of the records of which you’re particularly proud.
DJ Chus ‘Got Feeling’… this record was so huge in Spain, I became popular after that and I will always remember being told by someone that they will never forget me because they made love for the first time to this song, so beautiful! Also ‘Back 2 NY’, I did this track with my friend Rob Mirage. I feel like New York is my second home and this is my personal tribute to a city that gave me so many great things!
How do you see your career developing over the coming years? Are there musical goals you have set yourself outside of house?
I will keep working on the things that I love, I really believe in the things I do. Music for me is a way of life so for sure more and more quality music!
Tell us about some of the re-edits you made for this compilation.
‘Enjoy Music’ is a good one that I always play in my sets, people go nuts to it, it’s one of those records that puts everyone on the dance floor in the right mood. I had a really great time and a lot of very good memories doing the re-edits for the album, I am so happy with it!
You requested to remix ‘Future’ right? What was it about that record that made you want to create your own version?
The first time I heard ‘Future’ I knew that this was a track that would make history. The big moment for me came when at ADE last year, dancing in the middle of the dance floor and witnessing the live performance that came with a Defected party. So you can imagine how pleased I was when Simon [Dunmore] asked me to remix it, this was a very important challenge in my life and I put in all my energy into doing it.
‘House Masters DJ Chus’ is out now.
On Saturday 28th April, The Squatters are moving into The Spa, Scarborough, for Sessions! The Big One 2012! Armed with a backpack full of dance floor bombs and a black belt in chopped and screwed mixing, the guys have bad news for the roof at The Spa as apparently they are planning on leaving a bass-shaped hole in it!
With a great pr team behind them, the duo really have been making a lot of noise, and deservedly so with their mashed up house and electro bonanza which draws loops and samples from old skool, hip hop, rave, dubstep and everything else in between. These boys know how to throw it all in the cauldron and no matter where the influences drift, a high impact house drop is always lurking around the corner. We caught up with the boys ahead of Sessions, where they will be joined by Judge Jules, Utah Saints, Rob Tissera, Micky Slim and Majestic.
The Spa in Scarborough hasn’t seen a party of this magnitude since the ‘90s. Do you think the building will be able to cope with so many genres fused into one set?
Most definitely, it has seen some of the biggest raves and “apparently” before the refurbishment last year it had a sprung dance floor, which used to bend with 1000 ravers on it! I’m sure it will tolerate our arsenal of beats.
How does playing in the UK compare with the rest of the world?
The UK would be far better if we didn’t have government health and safety rules which we all know as “common sense”, as when we play abroad they kind of have no rules and limit to the party. I guess the UK has some pros and cons.
Where will you guys be over the summer?
Ibiza, Canada, USA, South Korea and Scarborough.
What are the best things about Yorkshire?
The puddings and the accent.
Do you have any unusual studio rituals?
Our studio has two toilets so we can choose which one we go to depending on the condition!
Which of you has the most hats?
Alex, as Oli is too tight to buy any and he just wears sponsored ones.
The Squatters have never…
Slept with their manager!
The last time you smashed up a hotel?
We wouldn’t do this, as we are promoters also, we know what problems it causes. Boring we know, but we are decent chaps.
What song would you have played at your funeral?
The Squatters ‘Any Room In The Box For 2’.
Who will be the last men standing at the after party, you guys or Micky Slim?
Do I dare write us? NO! Micky!
For the latest info on The Spa event, click the link:
With her remix of ‘Beautiful World’ released yesterday on Toolroom Records, we catch up with US native Gina Star, the in-demand female DJ and producer who’s Star (geddit?) continuous to rise with numerous releases and remix after remix for some of the biggest DJs in dance music. Her latest one for by Tiesto And Mark Knight, with the vocals of Dino Lenny, is pretty damn good too, so we wanted to find out how Gina was coping with her increasing fame…
Tell us about it your latest track…
The original came out last year and Toolroom was putting together a remix package with about six mixes… they decided to release my mix on the upcoming Toolroom compilation ‘Miami 2012’.
Will you be in Miami this year?
Yes, I’ll be playing at Club 50 with Paul Oakenfold and many other awesome DJs that belong to my agency APA. The club is on the rooftop of the 50-story Viceroy Hotel in Downtown and has sweeping views of Miami! I can’t wait!
Where was your first "big" DJ gig?
It was at a club in Dallas, Texas called the Lizard Lounge. It’s the oldest and most famous club in Dallas even now. I remember being very nervous and practiced a lot for it. Thankfully it was a huge success and they had me back many times after that.
Your release ‘I Want it Now’ sampled a Queen track. How did this come about and how hard was it to get the green light from Queen’s people?
Well I have always been a huge Queen fan, which I can thank my dad for, and I was at this festival last fall and they had this brilliant Queen cover band called Mercury playing there. As I was rocking out in the front of the crowd, the song ‘I Want It All’ came on and I suddenly had this thought that it would make a great anthemic style house record. I figured that someone had probably already done it but to my surprise no one had… so away I went to the studio. I originally made the record as a bootleg for WMC and when it got such a huge response from the DJs, we went down the avenues to clear it (not thinking it would ever actually happen). When EMI came back and said that Queen Music really liked it and wanted to see it come out, we were ecstatic.
Where has been your most influential city in terms of your musical output?
It’s a toss up between London and LA. In LA there is a very hippy approach to music creation and all ideas are welcome no matter how strange. In London, there is a better understanding of electronic music and more people to collaborate with.
How do you measure your success?
I think if you’re respected for your work in the field that you truly love - that is success, money or no money. I’ve only just cracked the surface of what will be my life’s work in music.
How do you approach your productions? Where do get your ideas from?
I usually start with the main synth line or vocal, as that will be the hook of the track, it’s pointless to move forward until you’re happy with it. Then I build the drums, bassline etc to work with the hook. The layout/sequence is the most difficult thing to get right, so I usually like to make a rough sketch as I’m making the parts, then let it evolve. The ideas can come from anywhere really, but most of the synth lines in my tracks are written from scratch.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
I’d love to work with Adam Levine, you don’t often find a pop singer that actually writes his own lyrics – and do it well. His high tenor voice really lends itself to dance music.
Describe a typical day in your life…
It’s hard to get into much of a routine because traveling messes that up. But, if I’m home then ideally, I get up around 9am, eat breakfast (two eggs on whole wheat toast and a cup of tea), answer any pressing emails, then go to the gym or go for a hike around my neighborhood. I then shower and have lunch, answer more emails, listen to new music, do interviews, work on new track ideas and take a short nap around sunset. I then finish up anything that can’t wait ‘til tomorrow, make dinner with roommates, play ping pong and relax, watching TV while getting ready for bed. I usually turn off the TV just after midnight.
What’s in your hand luggage when you board a flight?
I try to never check any bags. I travel with a very small hard rolling case and a big backpack. In the backpack are my laptop, neck pillow, laptop and phone chargers, big scarf, water, snack bars, and other miscellaneous crap that I acquire along the way. Also, a little kit that contains: eye mask, earplugs, headphones, sleeping tablets and contact solution.
Gina Star on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/ginastarmusic
Gina Star on Twitter - https://twitter.com/#!/djginastar
Noir is a producer, DJ and label owner responsible for some of 2011’s most enduring house records. This was the year that the deep, evocative, groove-led sounds championed by labels such as Crosstown Rebels, Get Physical and No.19 Music really came to the fore – especially in Miami and Ibiza – and Noir has cherry-picked the very finest examples of the genre with which to craft his mix for ‘Defected In The House Miami '12’. Here we chat to the Danish artist about his own experiences of Miami during WMC, the artists he grew up idolising, and blushing with embarrassment at some of his early productions…
How’s 2012 treating you so far?
It’s been really good. Things are better than ever for Noir and Noir Music. Fanbase, attention and support is growing quicker than I had hoped for if you had asked me a year ago and I feel really happy and balanced with what I do these days.
What are your own experiences of Miami?
They have always been great. First of all you gotta love the weather compared with cold Scandinavia. It’s like the first feel of summer, sun, pool-parties and a warm-up to Ibiza and the festival season in Europe. But the whole ‘feel’ surrounding the WMC in Miami is special to me because it was the place where I first felt that my music was appreciated and loved, not only by the clubbers, but also by the big DJs. My first time in Miami was during the WMC in 2006 and I had a couple of tracks out on various labels. I wasn’t prepared for being supported by the big DJs playing my tracks at the parties, I wasn’t prepared to be recognized on the streets (although I had a pretty recognizable Mohawk haircut back then) and I certainly wasn’t prepared to meet all the big names in the industry and learn that they actually loved and supported my productions. So it was all a very overwhelming experience for me and going to Miami always reminds me of that time.
Do you think anyone really gets any work done in Miami anymore? Or is it all about the party?
Well... not much business is done in Miami during the WMC, but… you do meet a lot of people from the industry and the networking part of industry has great importance for the future business. So what it’s good for is meeting people that you potentially end up doing business with. I have also become friends with a lot of DJs and producers after meeting them in Miami, and again looking back at the first time I was there it kinda changed my life meeting that many people from the industry and staying in touch with them afterwards. But yeah, sure... it’s mainly about the partying… and deals being made with too many vodka shots involved!
Who were the DJs you grew up idolising, the ones that really impressed you?
I was fascinated by Kraftwerk and early hip-hop when I was only six or seven years old. During my teens I was extremely fascinated by Depeche Mode and idolised their frontman Dave Gahan a lot. But at the same time I was also very impressed by the late-80s Chicago and Detroit house and techno and the whole acid rave scene that hit Europe. I used to tune into English radio stations to listen to tracks from Inner City, Bomb The Bass & D Mob as the Danish radio stations simply didn’t play that kind of music.
When did you first realise you wanted to pursue a career in music?
When I fell in love with the music of Depeche Mode I knew that I wanted to create electronic music and pursue a career in music. But it wasn’t until later on when I started DJing and got more into the club scene and house music that I was convinced that this was what I was born to do. After a couple of years getting experience and practising as a DJ I started getting into producing music and I think after five years making music I finally quit my day-job and without any safety-net or income started to pursue the dream. And boy, am I happy I had the guts to take the chance back then.
Over the years that you’ve been producing, your talents have obviously progressed. When you look back at some of your early records, are you still pleased with how they sound?
Not at all, some of them even make me blush with embarrassment. There was a time and a place, right? But I have been involved in a few projects that I am not particular proud of, that’s for sure. At the same time I really love that you can hear evolvement over the years. That’s actually one of the things that motivate me to do more and do better. And honestly, there have been some big producers/artists that have really disappointed me over the years because they refuse to take any chances. Being a producer, artist and DJ is all about evolvement in my opinion, and not being afraid of change.
When you’ve had a track that’s been as successful as ‘Around’, do you feel there is a lot of pressure on the follow-up?
Hmmm... I guess I have felt some sort of pressure, but I don’t let it get to me. I don’t feel I have to follow any trends, satisfy people and do what’s expected of me. I really do feel comfortable and balanced as an artist and just produce and release whatever feels right for me. I am really happy with the outcome of ‘Found Out’ [the follow-up to ‘Around’] which is a little deeper and certainly darker than ‘Around’. I am especially happy with it as it doesn’t sound similar in any way or structure other than the fact that its a Noir production.
The sound you as a DJ and your label champions was huge in Miami last year… do you think the same will be true in 2012 or will there perhaps be a bit of a backlash against its popularity?
The underground DJs will probably create a little backlash of the vocal and more melodic stuff this year because it’s been around for a long time now. But I still think it will be huge over the WMC this year and well for the entire 2012. A lot of the big labels and underground DJs are still in love with the deeper and more sexy sounding vocal tracks, so I think its gonna stick for some time to come before we get hit by another wave of instrumentals. I think techno will come back in 2012 in a big way… not the annoying, commercial sounding bleepy UK techno, but proper Detroit, Berlin sounding techno.
To a point, DJing is about being able to play records that not every other DJ is also playing. Now that it’s so easy to find music online, how do you make sure your sets are unique?
It’s very important that you have your own unique taste in music; believe in that and don’t be too influenced by what’s in the charts and what other big DJs are playing. I edit almost every single track I play in the clubs, so it suits my sets perfectly, but you also need to get to know the tracks inside out. I am very fortunate to get exclusive promos from some of the world’s leading labels and artists, then I have a very big platform of my own – Noir Music – which of course gives me the opportunity to test exciting demos and upcoming releases, remixes and projects that no one has heard of before. I never have anything planned before I am actually in the club playing and feeding off the crowd to choose the next track. Then of course like almost any other DJ I create a few secret weapons, booties and mash-ups from time to time to spice it all up.
Tell us about your Miami ’12 mix… what were you trying to achieve with it?
To be honest I just started compiling and mixing some of my favourite tunes and didn’t have a bigger plan in mind. I am very spontaneous and just do what feels right at the time. But just like my DJ sets I hope it ended up being quite deep, sexy, personal and… ehmm... VERY NOIR! Hopefully people will feel they are taken on a CD-length journey from early evening deep house tracks into a late-at-night techno vibed experience. I feel the tracks in my mix all have great personality and diversity. Those are the main factors for me to create something that stands out from the typical DJ mix.
Are there any particular tracks you’d like to highlight?
ALL OF THEM! They are all special to me and part of the entire ‘journey’ I ended up with. If I had to pick one it would be the exclusive remix Martin Thompson and I did of Tevo Howard & Tracey Thorn ‘Without Me’. That remix is only available on this compilation, so that makes it extra special.
With so many podcast and mixes freely available these days, what can you do to make a commercial mix like this an attractive proposition for people to go out and spend money on?
As I said, the exclusive remix included should hopefully be an attractive appetizer to draw people’s attention to the mix. I think the track selection speaks for itself. The majority of people spending money on music will look at the track selection, look for something they already know and can relate to and then hopefully discover a couple of new tracks they can fall in love with. The mix is also spiced with special edits and vocal tools that have been created especially for this mix CD.
What’s been the proudest moment in your career to date?
Noir Music has given me a lot of proud moments. I am very proud of having so many talented producers involved on my very own label and I am very proud of the reputation and success I have achieved with the label.
What do the next few months hold in store?
Lots of touring and hopefully some quality time in the studio to work on the forthcoming album. I am a perfectionist so it’s gonna take some time to finish all tracks and I am working with a lot of talented singer/songwriters to create great personality and depth to each track. So it’s gonna take lots of studio time and hard work. There’s also lots of exciting stuff from the Noir Music and NM2 (Noir Music 2) labels and a ‘5 Years of Noir Music’ compilation. Good times… I’m very excited about 2012.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about?
Gosh... so many new things happening every day it’s even hard for me to keep up. Follow me via www.facebook.com/Noir.Face. Unlike a lot of other artists I actually do all of the updates myself!
‘Defected In The House Miami ’12’ is out 27th February.
With Defected about to dominate London on Saturday night, we speak to MURK’s Oscar G ahead of their appearance at the brand’s party at London’s Ministry of Sound this weekend. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with seminal artists of the house scene, Oscar G and Ralph Falcon aka MURK were once again brought to the forefront of the scene in 2011 by their explosive Ibiza anthem ‘Amame’ under their Intruder guise. Long before this however they had firmly established their reputations with records such as The Fog’s ‘Been A Long Time’, Funky Green Dogs’ ‘Reach For Me’ and 'Fired Up!' and Liberty City’s ‘If You Really Love Someone’. Among the first pioneering house artists to come out of Miami, they have, over the last 20 years, cemented their legacy as producers and DJs of inimitable class and quality. Now, they are returning to the Ministry of Sound for the first time in... well, ages! Here we discuss their fond memories of the London club, the forthcoming WMC and their boredom of mainstream 'dance' music...
Nowadays music is easily accessible for the vast majority of us, but when you started buying records that wouldn’t have been the case… how and where did you hunt down records back in the day?
Miami always had a very active club/DJ scene so there were always a few cool record stores around where you could find current stuff. It was more a matter of finding the cash to pay for the records. I would DJ house parties for my school-mates when I was 12 for 50 bucks. My mom would drive me to the record store the day new releases came and I would give them my 50 bucks at the register. They would then allow me to listen to the records and as I chose the ones I wanted I'd bring them to the counter. They would add them up and let me take 50 dollars worth and put the rest on hold for the next week.
Have there ever been moments in your career when you’ve considered getting a ‘normal’ job? If so, what made you persevere with music?
Ralph and I became so committed to this at such a young age that we never really considered anything else. We have both definitely explored other art forms and experimented with film and painting, among other stuff, but this has been our bread and butter since our teens. We are blessed to have this abnormal gig.
Was there a particular moment in your career when you realised you’d made it, that you were successful musicians?
We will get back to you as soon as that happens.
Which of the many tracks that you have produced together took the longest to complete?
I can't remember specifically which one, but I know ‘Some Lovin’’ took much longer to complete than most. Back then we were recording to analog multi-track tape. There was an issue with the tape machine in the studio that was making the recording sound warped. We considered not releasing it at all because we were unhappy with the way you could hear it change speed slightly throughout the song. It ended up being a pretty significant record for us and you can still hear the flaws in it.
Your production on ‘Chunky Buddha’ marked the start of a transition from analog to digital, and the start of you using Logic right? How important are digital synths and DAWs to the way you produce now?
I made ‘Chunky Buddha’ the first day I ever opened up Logic. I'm not big on user manuals so I just jumped in there and started working. I love how quickly you can get into creative mode and how compact it is compared to the huge rooms full of gear we were used to. That being said, we are in the process of setting up all our old analog gear now… so I don't think it's ever really been about what technology or instruments you use to make and play music. It's all about the output.
Why have you used so many aliases over the course of your career?
I think we have always been a bit obsessed with keeping the focus on the music. We found the alias thing unimportant and just had fun with it. We also thought it was redundant and ego-maniacal to put our names on every record we released so we made up artist names. It's definitely not a sound marketing strategy, but that's never been our thing anyway.
Do you have any opinion on the current trend of mainstream artists incorporating house production values and arrangement in their records? Or is that something you stay clear of?
What are your fondest memories of Ministry of Sound?
The first time we played Ministry we were very young and could not wait to get our hands on the sound system we had heard so much about. It was definitely intimidating at first but once we settled in and got on, it was a great experience. A room like that really allows you to flex your DJ muscles and communicate with the audience. The best part was on the way out they gave us a bunch of great stuff… jackets, slip-mats, shirts, hats, CDs… you name it!
What can people expect if they come and see you there on Saturday?
I think we bring a unique take on house music. We have always tried to stay out in front of trends so we ultimately hope to bring people something new, something that makes them move.
Why do you think your productions have completely stood the test of time, while so many records made in the same year have been forgotten or sound dated?
I'd love to say we've had some secret master plan, but the truth is I think we have a great chemistry when we write songs and we are very honest with each other. We never sit there and force things; we just try to stick to what comes easy for us. We are big on the basics; grooves. We're probably just lucky though.
Miami and the WMC is just around the corner and as natives you are heavily associated with the city and its sound. Some say the WMC has changed for the worst, in your opinion is it still a worthwhile event?
It has certainly changed but I think it has turned into a great celebration of house/techno music. It is more of a festival atmosphere these days and folks are definitely out to make a buck. It is easy to get jaded about the whole thing… but I think it's great that people that love this music get to experience it. Besides, it's really fun to play at home.
What are your fondest memories of the WMC?
We did a party called ‘Masters at Murk’ for a few years in the ‘90s with Kenny Dope and Louie Vega. We had guests like Todd Terry, DJ Pierre and Danny Tenaglia... nobody was getting paid, no corporate sponsors, no booking agents or promoters, no Facebook or Twitter... we just printed up some flyers and passed them out around WMC. Those parties were amazing!
You’re fairly well known for a ‘big’ sound… was it a conscious decision to create records that are suited to the main rooms such as the Ministry of Sound, The Sound Factory, Pacha etc rather than smaller intimate clubs?
Our approach is to try and bring something original. We love to create the record people remember from a good night out, yet sounds nothing like the others they heard. If and when we can achieve this, the dimensions of the room it's played in become inconsequential.
What are the top five things to do in Miami apart from going to a club?
3. Cuban food, cigars, art, music, coffee
4. Miami Heat basketball
MURK play for Defected In The House at Ministry of Sound this Satuday (11th February). Last remaining tickets are available here:
MURK House Masters is out now:
Oscar G Soundcloud mix:
We caught up with Subliminal Records label boss Erick Morillo and regular production partner in crime Eddie Thoneick to find out more about their collaboration with legendary Skunk Anansie singer Skin, on their new single ‘If This Ain’t Love’.
Hello, where are you today and how do you feel?
Erick: I’m in Miami, I feel great!
Eddie: I’m at home in Germany right now, in my studio preparing some music for my gigs. I’m feeling very good because so many things are happening right now, it’s going to be an exciting 2012.
How did the collaboration for the single ‘If This Ain’t Love’ come about?
Erick: Skin is a good friend of mine from Ibiza. We’ve known each other for over 12 years and have been talking about doing a record for a while. Eddie and I have been working together for over three years now and decided it was time to do something a little bit different. Skin was the perfect choice.
Eddie: Erick and I were thinking about what to do next after ‘Live Your Life’ and ‘Stronger’. I had a couple of indie demos I did in my free-time which I sent to Erick. When we met in Miami at the beginning of last year we played around with some of the harmonies and found the basics for this track that were guitars, piano and bass. So it was a pure alternative demo at that time. As Skin has been a longtime friend of Erick and I’ve been a huge fan of Skunk Anansie for a long time it was obvious who to ask to work with us as a vocal-feature. After sending her the demo she came up with these amazing vocals. Once we’d laid the vocals down we then had to work to give the track the electronic feel, which we arranged in Erick’s studio in Miami.
You’ve worked together on several tracks, who does what when it comes to the creative process?
Erick: It tends to depend on the tracks but we’re both very musical and we both come with our own ideas. It differs every time we work together.
Eddie: I think that Erick and me are a fantastic combination when it comes to workflow in the studio. Erick has such a good feeling for song structure, arrangements and sounds. He always knows if something is missing or something is too much in a track. I’m a technical nerd when it comes to sound creations and a musician by heart playing guitar, bass, drums and piano. So I think we complement one another perfectly in the studio and the results are great.
What inspired a guitar lead piece?
Erick: Eddie came with the guitar for this track. Works really well with Skin’s vocals and the rockier side she’s used to working.
Eddie: We wanted to create something different to the sound that everyone is doing right now. As I come from alternative/indie music we decided, why not combine EDM and alternative, and the result was ‘If This Ain’t Love’.
Do you think making and playing music brings people to life in the real world?
Erick: Music has been a big part of my life for years. You can absolutely find a common bond through music… it’s weaved itself into social history since time begun. For me it’s a celebration, a way to let go, nothing else matters when I’m listening to some good beats.
Eddie: Totally, yes! I think without music the everyday world would be grey and dull. Music is one of the most powerful tools in the world. It doesn’t matter what genre, music is a communicative activity that conveys moods, emotions, thoughts, impressions and political positions. It’s important to bring people together to clubs, concerts and festivals so they can forget about their everyday life. For me, music means life!
You’ve both been playing the track at your DJ gigs for a while now. What kind of reaction do you get off the crowd?
Erick: I’ve been playing it since the beginning of the summer last year. People kept on asking me whose track it was. It’s a big festival, hands in the air track. It goes down a storm every time!
Eddie: Actually I haven’t played it yet to avoid recordings and floods of rips and edits. But I’m starting to do it now and I’m excited about the reactions.
How did you both meet Skin for the first time? Was it a club, a party or somewhere else?
Erick: I was doing a performance with Jocelyn Brown; Skin is a good friend of Jocelyn’s, our friendship started from there.
Eddie: Personally I met Skin at Pacha in Ibiza last year when I played at Erick’s Subliminal Invasion party. This was already after we finished the track. She’s an exceptional personality and wonderful person.
Skin also DJs, could we see a DJ set with all three of you on the decks, at Pacha perhaps?
Erick: I think Skin plays quite differently to me, but I’m definitely looking at bringing her to Ibiza this summer to do a live show with us. She’s an incredible performer and her voice is to die for.
Eddie: For sure! I haven’t heard her yet but I can imagine she’s a great performer!
You’ve done two tracks with Shawnee Taylor, now this single with Skin is there another Erick Morillo and Eddie Thoneick collaboration in the pipeline?
Erick: Now that would be telling, wouldn’t it!
Eddie: We have a couple of ideas which we will start on working soon!
As the vocalist on ‘If This Ain’t Love’, we catch up with legendary singer Skin, to find out what it was like to hook up with two of dance music’s top producers…
The single 'If This Ain't Love' is very different from the sound of your band, are you a big fan of house music?
Yes I love house music; I've been a bit of a raver for a very long time and have incorporated many ideas from house music into my band and solo projects over the years. Ministry Of Sound was the first club I ever went to as a teenager, I still feel it holds the best sound system in London, The End came in a very close second.
How did the collaboration with Erick Morillo and Eddie Theonick come about?
I've known Erick for many years, we've had many good times together! We've talked about it for ages so now it’s great to see we finally got round to working together. He introduced me to Eddie who's been fun and great to work with also.
Where did you record the single 'If This Ain't Love'?
I recorded the vocals in my friend Joel Shearer's studio in downtown Los Angeles.
You wrote the lyrics to ‘If This Ain’t Love’, what is the message behind the song?
The song is really about the community of being on the dance floor during your favorite tune surrounded by all your friends having the best time ever and feeling the spiritual connection dancing brings to people all moving at the same time to the same beat. All tribes throughout history have communal dancing woven very deeply into their societies, it’s about everyone feeling the sense of togetherness dancing brings.
How do you know if you are in love?
It’s different for everyone, sometimes you don't know until years after the relationship has ended, hindsight is always wise, bitter regrets all consuming. Sometimes it slaps you in the face so hard it makes your head spin off its axis and other times it ebbs and grows like a fine wine that can last a lifetime.
What did you like about the idea for the video?
I get to wear some crazy shit!
Have you seen Erick or Eddie DJ, if yes, where and what did you think about their sets?
Yes I've seen Erick play many times over the years from his effect driven sets at Space in the ‘90s to the powerful killa sets at Subliminal in Pacha, he's a true performer, he really connects with the people and knows exactly when to give the room space to breathe and when to slam it down. He style has beautiful movement and flow; I like his sets a lot. I saw Eddie play at Pacha last summer in Ibiza, I don't remember much that night but I do remember he killed it! Fun guy too!
You also DJ, how did you get in to the scene?
I originally started as a rock DJ at college playing vinyl but then Skunk happened and I didn't have time for it. Then around 2008 I started playing out again, this time playing more rock mixed with electronic beats but gradually I realised I enjoyed playing house music a lot more which was great because that's what people wanted to hear, so eventually I just went for it and started playing house music full time.
How would you describe your sound when you DJ?
I've endured many disadvantages being a DJ coming from another art form, especially a lead singer of such a big band but the main advantage is that people don't know what to expect from me so I can get away with playing quite varied music depending on how I feel and how the dance floor speaks to me, if you mix well you can really be quite imaginative. The roots of my sound is dirty bassline tech house, deep house and techno but I tend to throw in an indie-track or some weird wild card for fun if I feel the people can take it!
Where would be your dream place to DJ?
I'm going to keep that one to myself, don't wanna jinx it!
What is your idea of a good night out?
Start with a good movie, dinner with friends in a great place or home cooking. Getting ready, sorting out a good outfit over homemade cocktails, some friend controlling the tunes, quick drink in a great bar, (I hate pubs, they are too depressing), then off to a club to rave all night making sure I get home before the sun comes up (unless I'm in Ibiza) as I'm not a fan of the walk of shame.
Where is your favorite country to party in?
Easily it’s STILL Ibiza, I have a house there and although I've seen many changes over the years, some incredible, some horrific, it never ceases to be a place when I can properly chill and relax if I want, or party all night if I want. I think it’s finally getting the respect and reputation back that it lost during years of nasty TV shows like 'Ibiza Uncovered'. I'm happy to see it moving on, shaping and molding itself into something fresh and new. It still holds the crème de la crème of DJs and house music, the best of the big guys still rock giving guaranteed satisfaction, but I'm happy to see it open up for fresh young talent, new blood needs to course through its veins like irreverent anti-bodies if Ibiza wants to maintain its musical supremacy and world class reputation.
Erick Morillo, Eddie Thoneick feat. Skin – If This Ain’t Love is released 14th February. Pre order here: http://bit.ly/zXChh6
We speak to all three members of legendary group Inner City on the release of their stunning new record, ‘Future’, their first entirely original material for a decade. Anyone with even a passing interest in dance music will be aware of their legacy, with tracks such as ‘Good Life’, ‘Big Fun’ and ‘Pennies From Heaven’ among the most celebrated tracks ever written. Comprising techno legend Kevin Saunderson and singer/songwriters Paris Grey and Ann Saunderson, Inner City’s ‘Future’, has been written and produced in collaboration with another Detroit legend, namely Kenny Larkin, with additional production duties provided by the very talented producer/remixer Orlando Voorn. Devastatingly catchy and highly emotional, it exhibits all the soulful flavours and qualities you would expect from these celebrated producers and singers.
It has been close to a decade since you last put out an original Inner City record. What have you been doing in the time that has passed?
Kevin: We have not released a lot. We’ve been with our families as we all have kids now and have just been taking a break. We had a big run over the years with what we have produced, so it was about time to sit back, take care of our families and other parts of life. I have done some other things too; mostly DJing and Ann has been writing and singing with plenty of other projects
So it’s not like Inner city never really went away anywhere…
Kevin: Exactly. The voices are here and the writing creativity is still here. As it is with inspiration, sometimes with creativity you don’t push it or force it you just let it happen when it’s meant to be and when time allows it you just feel that inspiration. Therefore, as the time feels right now I believe that the creativity is back.
So is it fair to say that this is a new chapter of Inner City? What is the philosophy behind your plan? Why are you back now?
Kevin: Our philosophy is simple, we love music. We are creative people and we think that there is a void in music at the moment. I play all around the world and you don’t hear as many new songs on the dance floor these days. We know that we had a great impact before, and we also believe that we can offer that again by inspiring some people. But most significantly, we are re-inspired.
In terms of your new track; ‘Future’, tell us about how it came together and what it’s all about…
Ann: Paris and I got together once Kevin had sent us some music. It was basically us feeling the music. We were all going through different things at that time, we were thinking of the economic situation and different things that are going on in the world today. We wanted to address that and we always use our lyrics in order to do so. That’s why we decided to talk about what was going on.
Over the last 18 months or so, there has been a real surge in the popularity of tracks which are taking the ‘old school’ sound and bringing it up to date. Is that something that you have noticed? Was it a factor in Inner City’s return?
Paris: I’ve always known Kevin as being very forward-thinking. What he takes from the past is usually something from his own experience and his own creativity. Imbibing those elements with what he thinks is missing he’ll then create a new sounds from it. I guess Kevin can speak for himself of how much of an influence the past has had on his music writing
Kevin: I think what you or other people have done in the past always has some impact, however there are also definitely a lot of young artists that are taking direct influence from songs that we or other artists have created. They are either looping them or sampling and putting them back out now. I am conscious of it because I DJ all over the world and several of my records were done that way.
Paris: I think that in some cases, they don’t know how to find it within themselves, so they go back and it’s always easier to back and sample from old tracks. The fact is that it’s within this time and generation. That’s the way younger producers have done it. And when you have a certain ‘sound’ in one record which becomes a hit, then other producers start doing same then it becomes some kind of trend. We have been around since the beginning of this music evolution, so for us creating the energy with these new tracks maybe comes easier.
In terms of the creative process, obviously Kevin does the production and Paris and Ann contribute lyrically and the with song writing. Does one come before the other or does it happen at the same time?
Paris: It always starts with Kevin creating some sort of beat, rhythm and idea. Then he gives it to us and we decide the direction we want to take it. After that he comes back in and it’s back and forth. There have been a few tracks from the past in which we requested a clip track from Kevin and then suggested a melody and lyrics, asking what he could do with it. But mostly Kevin knows where the music is at, more than I say myself. I trust him as far of the direction of the music.
Touching on some of the seminal records that you have been involved with, such as ‘Big Fun’ and ‘Good Life’, why do you think they still resonate so strongly with people today?
Kevin: I think that it’s to do with our music and the way it’s written; in the melodies and the hooks. They are spiritual records and they make people feel good; they touch them from the inside.
Paris: They always came from a good place when they were written. I just remember being in a good mood every time I was listening to Kevin’s tracks, when I heard the lyrics and the melodies. It was not like a forced thing or a struggle. I was walking to the mall when ‘Pennies From Heaven’ came to me and I was in my room dancing when ‘Big Fun’ came to me and the feeling was just great. At that time I just felt good when I heard the songs, what I felt is what other people feel when they hear the songs today. I believe that’s why they have lasted for so long.
How about your plans at the moment? More than ever, touring has become the significant contributor to an artist’s income… is that something you are going to be doing more?
Kevin: Touring definitely, we went out on tour just a couple of years ago just to get a taster of what it’s like now. We have performed for big and small audiences, and I still enjoy it. The time is now therefore, that’s definitely something that will be a big part of our plans.
Tell us about how the set-up works when you perform live…
Kevin: With live sets it works in multiple ways; Ann and Paris just performing a straight up PA, or with me working my drum machines, using Ableton, my little computer setup and controlling it with a percussion player. It can also work with two keyboards and another percussionist; it can be up to eight people. We have done it in various ways, but in the last two years when we’ve been performing in the US we usually do the big tunes with lots of live musicians. We hope to bring some of that over to Europe in the future.
Finally, what does the new track ‘Future’ mean to you?
Ann: Hopefully it means that Inner City is going to be around for a long time into the future.
Kevin: It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, anything that happened in the past, find a way to move forward, keep a positive attitude on life and things will be better if you do. ‘Future’ represents that way of positive thinking.
Paris: What ‘Future’ means to me is touring. I like the idea of getting to meet the people that like Inner City’s music. When we go out to photo shoots, to perform or for interviews, I love meeting the people that support us. It’s probably one of the most fun things for me it always has been and it will always be.
'Future' is OUT NOW! - BUY & LISTEN HERE
Inner City will be performing live for Defected In The House at London's Proud2 this New Years's Eve - BUY TICKETS HERE
One of the leading House music artist agencies in the world, Colluded Talent recently announced that the legendary Brazilian top house DJ/producer, DJ Meme, is now part of the Colluded Talent artist roster. Brazil’s top House DJ and critically acclaimed remixer/producer DJ Meme gained recognition early in his career with remixes for major artists as far back as the early Eighties creating mega mixes for the likes of The Bee Gees, New Order & the Pet Shop Boys among others. In 1996, Meme remixed “Estoy Aqui” for the then newcomer Shakira which exploded on the club scene and became a worldwide hit, resulting in a huge demand from major labels for Meme’s ability to inject underground dance rhythms into popular music. As a result Meme went on to produce stunning remixes for major pop acts including Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Dido, Ricky Martin, Des’ree among many to great acclaim and scooping up no less than 23 Gold Records, 15 Platinum and 3 Diamond records and many awards in the process!
Fast Forward to today and DJ Meme’s magical heartfelt music is a regular on our soulful dancefloors worldwide, with his talent for producing beautiful emotional house laced with his signature strings and disco flavours sometimes spliced with echoes of his native Latin roots championed by the world’s DJ Elite and clubbers alike. Meme has earned himself the title of one of the remixers of the moment, remixing contemporary soulful anthems including Kenny Bobien’s ‘I Shall Not Be Moved’ (Soulfuric), Groove Junkies ‘Dr Feelgood’ (MoHo), Audiowhores ft Pete Simpson ‘Not Going Back’ (Papa), Kenny Thomas ‘Keep The Fires Burning’ (Soul-Fi), Jamie Lewis & Michael Watford’s ‘It’s Over’ (Defected) Knee Deep’s ‘Me Kumba’ (Knee Deep),and the massive orchestral dance anthem ‘The Cure & The Cause’ by Fish Go Deep (Defected) among many others, And with many more gems forthcoming, Meme is currently one of the busiest men in dance!
In 2005 Meme turned his hand to his own productions releasing “Viva” under the moniker Mandala, on Knee Deep Records, which gained broad DJ support worldwide and even reached the #2 position on DJ Magazine’s Hype Charts. His last single, a true disco-house fuelled giant ‘Any Love’ for Soulfuric Records exploded on the dancefloors, reaching #5 on DJ MAG’s Hype charts and #1 on Traxsource.com for three weeks in a row, and gained support by DJs including Dimitri from Paris, The Groove Junkies and Aaron Ross, just to name a few.
As a DJ, Meme’s unique and delicious recipe of smile inducing Latin and disco fused house is regular on the menu at the world’s greatest clubs. He regularly tours the World’s finest spots such as Germany, Spain, Ibiza, Austria, Romania, Hungary, France, Switzerland, Ireland, Italy, USA and as far afield as Indonesia, Dubai & Korea. May 2008 saw Meme’s amazing debut at the Southport Weekender festival (UK), with many of his remixes already dubbed as Southport Weekender anthems, he set a dancefloor of 2000 fans alight, resulting in an additional set the following night with the same results!
We spoke to Sophie and Sam at Colluded to get their reactions:
Sophie: “We are extremely happy and proud to work with such a legendary DJ/producer and an exceptional artist. On behalf of the Colluded Team, welcome to the Colluded family DJ Meme!”
Sam: “DJ Meme is a brilliant producer, we are very happy to have such a talented artist with us onboard. What I like and admire in his productions is the influence of his Latin heritage and his disco and soulful rhythms, welcome onboard DJ Meme!”
Here is what some of the Pioneers in the House music scene have said about DJ Meme over the years:
Simon Dunmore – Defected UK
“DJ Meme's work was first recommended to me by none other than Dimitri From Paris. I was super impressed by his production values, which blend the best disco vibes with the Latin rhythms of his native Brazil.”
Kevin McFarlane - M8 Magazine Editor UK
“Meme is a DJ's secret weapon. Already a famous DJ/producer in his home country of Brazil, his Latin influences are always evident in his productions. Think summertime partying and house music - think DJ Meme.”
Brian Tappert– Soulfuric / Traxsource USA
“Meme shows a deep understanding of musicality missing in many of today’s productions... and is destined to be a major player for a long time to come.”
Davidson Ospina, NY
"Memê had the ability and magic touch to remix my record in such a beautiful musical way, that till this day I cannot resist listening and playing his mix only..."
Toddie Freese - Knee Deep
“I fell in love with DJ Meme productions the first time I heard his work. One of the most talented producers at the moment.”
For more info:
It was the early version of this song that made us discover Meme:
It's always good to catch up with Seamus Haji, especially now as he gets set for new releases and remixes on his Big Love and Soul Love labels. It's the Soul Love release that's getting us particularly excited!
What have you been up to?
Travelling far and wide this year DJing. Highlights for me have been The Ivy & Mardi Gras after-party in Sydney, playing to around 10,000 people, Pride in Brighton playing to 10,000 and gigs in Canada, Singapore and South America have also been such an amazing experience.
We heard you started a new radio show, tell us about it.
Yeah, Seamus Haji's Big Love started in Oct and I'm doing the main slot 8-10 every Saturday on Brighton Juice, where I live, which is fantastic. It's a great opportunity to play some of my favourite club tracks and also play some tracks that are more laidback, deeper or just different to what I normally get to play out. If there's a drum & bass record that I like then I'll play it. The show's been getting great reactions, not only from Brighton and the UK, but all around the world as I have a podcast on iTunes. It's obviously a great way to connect with fans and dance music lovers around the world. The next step is to get the show syndicated globally.
Any new remixes?
I just remixed Jessie J's new single ‘Who You Are’, which was a real honour as she has an amazing voice! I also remixed ‘Amore’ for new UK artist Sarvi and ‘Temptation’ for another new artist called Zanda Bleck, who’s signed to Interscope in America.
Yeah, there's a few things in the pipeline. More imminent will be a single with Cevin Fisher called ‘I Love The Music’ on Strictly Rhythm. Manuel De La Mare and (I believe) Luigi Rossi are working on remixes. There's a single with EDX and vocalist Jerique for Sirup forthcoming and I've also been working on a couple of tracks with new talent Nelski from Chris Lake's Rising camp.
What's going on with your Big Love label?
Well for the last year I was A&R for Strictly Rhythm so I had to put Big Love on hold while I did that. It was a great opportunity as it's a legendary label but it got to the point where I didn't have enough time to focus on my own productions, which is what I'm getting back to full steam ahead and I'm feeling revived and excited about things. We'll be getting some of my tracks ready for release on Big Love, possibly the tracks with Nelski, and we already have a release set for our more soulful sub-label Soul Love - Sean McCabe remixes of my classic Mekkah ‘Race Of Survival’.
Check out the original version of 'Race Of Survival' below:
In advance of the release of his Nikki Beach In The House compilation, ATFC has put together an hour mix comprising no less than 23 records that have inspired him over the course of his life. Ranging from Herbie Hancock to Public Enemy, this is a highly eclectic journey through the musical mind of ATFC… enjoy!
1. Funkadelic - Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow
This seemed the perfect sentiment with which to kick off the mix and comes from a totally 'out there' album, apparently recorded within 24hrs while the band were completely off their nut. Not an unusual occurrence in those days but 'Free Your Mind…' took funk into another, heavier dimension.
2. Frankie Valli - Grease
From 1978 and one of my first musical memories. It's been so overplayed and hijacked by the tacky Saturday night Karaoke brigade one forgets how good the music actually is. Fantastically warm production which conjures up many good memories and a few desperate ones of my futile search for a fly leather jacket and Yale cardigan.
3. Michael Jackson - PYT
I recently dug this out to play at Cafe Mambo Ibiza and felt the atmosphere lift immediately as soon as it dropped. The groove is sooo tight and clean with Michael nailing the vocal to within an inch of its life and it's an often overlooked cut from the album. Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones….what's there not to be inspired by?
4. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - Live @ Union Square
I listened to this over and over with my head in my hands thinking 'how the hell did Jazzy Jeff do that?' From then on I collected all the Ultimate Breaks & Beats albums and began practicing…hard. I got some way with scratching and early turntablism and this set a benchmark (which I never reached I'm sorry to say!)
5. Herbie Hancock - Rockit
Before the scratching came the body-popping and breakdancing. I was fairly useless and this record was the soundtrack to many lost battles in my 'hood'.
6. Colonel Abrahms - Trapped
I once DJ'd at a gig where Colonel Abrahms was singing. My girlfriend at the time decided to keep him company while I was playing and at the end of the night she told me what a nice guy Colin was. I still ended up marrying her.
7. Aleem - Get Loose
Along with Release Yourself this is an absolute standout cut from Aleem who apparently shared an apartment with Jimi Hendrix. With Leroy Burgess on vocals it combined electro production with soulful overtones perfectly and was another excuse to buss' out the lino.
8. Bob James - Nautilus + Linda Clifford - Ride The Storm
A lot of Bob James' stuff can sound a little hotel lobbyish for me but this deep, dark jazz-funk groove is so atmospheric and menacing, if you close your eyes you'll literally feel 20,000 leagues under the sea.
9. Stevie Wonder - Living For The City
'New York, just like I pictured it. Skyscrapers and evrythang!' I waited many years to be able to say that but when I did, I blew an air kiss to Stevie on Madison Avenue. If I had to pick, he's probably my artist of all time.
10. Roy Ayers & Ubiquity - Life Is Just A Moment Pt. 2
This man is responsible for many of my £'s spent on records and entrances to Ronnie Scotts. I once interviewed him at the back of his tour bus and remember being speechlessly star-struck. A disastrous 10 minutes that ended my career in journalism. This is one of my favourite lesser known tracks and while Part 1 is pretty decent, I imagine this came after a step out of the studio, a quick fag and back in to lay down this heavy alternative take.
11. James Brown & The JB's - Mind Power
What inspirations list wouldn't include a bit of JB? Whenever I think of James Brown, for some reason I think of this...
12. The Fatback Band - I Found Lovin’
One of those tunes that got a roar as soon as the first bar cut through the system. So recognisable, and one that re-united the guys and the girls on the dance floor after the breakdance competition had climaxed. Brought back into blokey territory on a re-release by Steve Walsh and his 'You What? You What?' call to arms - I never understood that version….
13. Public Enemy - Bring The Noise
These guys were my 'Sex Pistols' I suppose, and as a white kid from the suburbs they should have meant nothing to me, but their angry, rebellious rawness appealed during my teenage years. Perhaps I was angry I had nothing to be angry about??
14. A Tribe Called Quest - Oh My God
Probably my favourite Hip Hop act and I was truly sad when they split. Q Tips flow and the simple but untouchable, lazy MPC beats of Ali Shaheed together with Phife's childlike pitch took The Native Tongues to another level. Although De La Soul and The Jungle Brothers were close contenders, Tribe win it for me in this inspirations mix.
15. Soul II Soul - Fairplay
When these guys arrived their sound was totally fresh and very much 'a London Thing'. I was lucky to see them at their club nights at The Africa Centre and The Fridge and bought the T-Shirt too. There has never been a more appropriately named album than 'Club Classics'.
16. John Coltrane - Acknowledgement
The album 'A Love Supreme' is made up of only 3 parts, is fairly heavy going in some parts but very spiritual and was on constant rotation in my room during my studies at University - a coming of age, 'grown-up' record.
17. MARRS - Pump Up The Volume
This had the same effect on me as 'Live @ Union Square', except in a production context. Years before I stepped into a recording studio I'd begun to wonder how these sounds were made and think it was possible I could do the same. In 1987 I would never have believed that 20 years later I'd be sat next to CJ Mackintosh, 37000 ft in the air, talking about how the record influenced me.
18. Jaydee - Plastic Dreams
It's a little difficult to classify this record and the proof of which is that it was my house hating friends that first put me onto it. At the very least, I don't think there are many DJs of any kind of dance genre who haven't played this record.
19. Barbara Tucker - Beautiful People
Although I'd bought a few 'House' records previously, this one helped change the way I saw it. One night I found myself standing on a speaker stack, pumping my arms in the air to the sound played by a dj from New York. I woke up the next day, threw a mix tape I'd been given the previous night into the cassette player and on came 'Beautiful People'. The 'feeling' came flooding back and I can honestly say that's the day 'House' music truly made sense to me. I got on the next train to London, straight to Release The Groove Records, and spent my student allowance on the latest shipload of US House and Garage.
20. Constipated Monkeys - Cro-Magnon
One of the last times I can say I was truly inspired on a production level was when Eric Morillo launched Subliminal records. It spawned a new era of funky but main-room House Music that I've tried to adhere to in the studio since then. Bridging the gaps between prog, tech, funky and deep house, Subliminal fired out a number of classics in their first 2 years and was a no questions asked must buy label. Cro-Magnon had me and Warren Clarke looking up at Harry & Jose as Deities for a long time after that.
21. Lil Louis - French Kiss
Another record that you'd hear all over the club scene regardless of style. One that on paper should be restricted to specialist techno dark rooms but thanks to its provoking breakdown and innovative 'slow-down' gained fans right out to the holiday resorts of Turkey and beyond, where I first heard it. I stupidly sold my original copy to the local dj in return for free drinks the next night…..
22. Nuyorican Soul - I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun (4 Hero Mix)
A major influence and possibly my favourite Dance producers were Masters At Work. I could have included a number of their productions in this mix but I chose, instead, to feature them as artists being remixed. The original by Rotary Connection is a desert island record for me and Nuyorican Soul covered it impeccably. This genius bit of A&Ring by Gilles Peterson gave rise to a Drum & Bass gem (a genre I've not been a huge fan of) and possibly one of my all-time choice remixes.
23. The James Gang - Ashes, Rain & I
I end with a track that contains the string sample (wait till the very end!!) upon which my professional career is hugely indebted to. I can't take the credit for unearthing it but when researching Norman Cook’s inspiration brought me to this, it proved to me that there is an absolute validity in sampling as an art. Inspiration can come at any time and from anything and while this list could have included music and songs that are more worthy and would, indeed, be higher in my iTunes ranking, these are the ones that came at a certain time and a certain place, and the ones which, like it or not, inspired me.
The UK number 1 record ‘Loca People’ from Spanish DJ / Producer Sak Noel has been dubbed a ‘marmite’ record and caused split opinion amongst critics. But what does the unknown producer think about the UK’s artists and what other controversial tracks does he have up his sleeve? Here we find out…
You’ve had you first UK number 1 with ‘Loca People’. How does that feel?
Being number 1 in UK it’s a dream come true and I never thought I could reach something like this. I’m the fifth Spanish artist to reach that so you can imagine how I feel. I’m just a music lover that tries to work hard and honestly. After the first euphoria I think the best word to describe how I feel is satisfied. Now I’m working hard to try to repeat it in the near future.
How did you celebrate?
I couldn’t celebrate it much because I was touring when I received the news but I remember I was very happy and, yes, maybe I jumped and shouted a little bit in my hotel room.
Has your life changed since you bagged your number 1?
All went crazy since Loca People! Now I’m never at home and I’m always travelling. I’ve been several days without sleeping, I’ve took 13 planes in 5 days, I played in a lot of amazing places, I met artists, etc. But I think what makes me more proud is that Loca People is played, at the same time, in countries that never find points in common. At least, with Loca People they agree in something and that means that they are not so different as they think they are.
Who are your favourite UK artists and who would you like to work with?
I love many of the UK artists, there’s a lot of talent in the UK. I’m already working with the artist Tina Cousins. If I had to choose my favourite right now, it’d be Calvin Harris, as a producer, and Example, as a singer. I would like to work with them. I have some projects and ideas to show and maybe we can make something together. It would be nice. Maybe I phone Example or Calvin this week.
I’m a newcomer in the music business and I want to make the things in the right way and I think that to reach this you need to learn from the big artists. If I have the opportunity to do it, I will!
Have you got any crazy fans since you became so successful?
No, they respect me a lot and I love them! I really think that all that happened to me and my song is because of them. My fans made the song big, they asked for it in the stations, clubs, everywhere. So I’m in debt with my fans. When they ask me for pictures, autographs, whatever, I always have time for them because they are the most precious thing that I have now.
What are your plans for the future?
My new single is done and I’m just finishing the videoclip. If everything goes in the right direction it’ll be published in November. It keeps the essence of Loca People but it’s completely different. I think my new single won’t be liked by the authorities, not only in UK but in the whole of Europe. I guess it will be quite polemic. It’s called “Paso (The Nini Anthem)”. “Paso” is a Spanish word, it means, more or less, “I don’t care”. If you want to know what is a “Nini” search it for yourself, I can’t tell that. One of my future projects, for my third single is try to discover a completely unknown female voice. And I’m searching for a girl in UK. In the next months I will arrange a casting in UK, open to everybody, to find the voice for my third single. I’m really thankful to UK people for making me number 1 and this is one way to give back all the love I received.
In a global way my plans are to try to work hard and do my best to improve and deserve the respect from the music business. And of course, to be satisfied with myself.
Grammy Award winning DJ / Producer Sharam is set to release 3 hours of his most talked about set this year, recorded live at the Warung Beach Club, Brazil on a record breaking night. Here he talks about that electric night, compliments from Pete Tong and similarities with Brad Pitt…
Your 10 hr set at Warung Beach Club in Brazil earlier this year has become quite a talking point as you smashed all club attendance records! What was the atmosphere like that night?
Electric! I always feel welcomed and connected at Warung, but this particular night there was an added energy in the room. Everyone felt it and I just kept feeding off of it. It was the best night I’ve had at the club, and I’ve had many great nights there. The funny thing is that was the first night in a long while that I recorded my set as I knew it might be a long night, and the rest as they say, is history.
How did you go about selecting just three hours of your marathon set for your forthcoming compilation?
I just picked three continuous hours that I felt most represented the entire night. I had to do a couple of edits here and there due to rights issues with some tracks, and some tracks had to be shortened, but 95% of the set is, as it was, recorded that night. Maybe I’ll do an encore and release some of the other sections of the night in my upcoming podcasts.
Where do you start planning which tracks to play for a 10 hr set? It sounds like a mammoth task!
I’m always buying and receiving new records and sometimes I keep certain records in mind for certain clubs, and naturally I have tons of them reserved for Warung or clubs like it. It’s sort of like the way Larry David writes the 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' shows. I have an idea and earmark certain tracks, peaks and valleys. I just vibe off the crowd and try to take them on a roller-coaster and give the thrill of their lives - I’d get bored if I knew exactly what I’m going to play. It’s a matter of knowing the records, the rest happens organically.
What’s your secret to keeping a crowd engaged for this length of time?
You have to treat them with respect. They are there to see you so they have certain expectations. You can’t go up there and play what you want to hear for 10 hours. You have to entertain them while educating them at the same time and make it all seamless. With that mindset, you just have fun. It’s like a house party with 4,000 plus of your friends.
Music aside, how do you as a performer prepare for a gig like this?
If I can, I take a nap before the gig. Sometimes that’s not possible given the crazy schedule, of course, but that’s what I like to do. Then a nice dinner with friends, some wine and a double shot of espresso.
For those not lucky enough to have visited the Warung Beach Club, describe for us its setting and why you think it’s nicknamed by locals - the ‘electronic music temple’.
The club is made out of logs. It’s like a huge mountain cabin in the middle of the woods that also happens to be beach front. It’s quite unique with all the nature around you. It has a long and cosy dancefloor - probably the longest in the world. The best part is when day light beaks. It’s something extraordinary when the entire floor raises their hands in the air and you see the sky and the beach behind them.
Is there anywhere on earth that compares to this venue?
Not really. It’s pretty unique. There might have been other clubs that have tried to capture that vibe and setting but this one is the original and it’d be hard to replicate it – in terms of location, vibe and uniqueness.
Pete Tong described you as being ‘on devastating form’ before the broadcast of two hours of your Warung set as a Radio 1 Essential Mix. Is this also how you see your career right now?
It’s nice to get compliments from your peers – especially someone of his stature. I've had my fair share of peaks and valleys over the years, but the funny thing is there hasn't been much change in my approach to music and DJ style during this time. People's expectations and interpretation of my last record to come out, make what I do a debatable subject. My main motivation and goal is to always push the boundaries, do what inspires me and do away with the status quo. Ultimately the fans are the judge and I’ve been very fortunate to have them on side.
You’ve enjoyed chart success which has brought the Sharam name into the mainstream consciousness, but at the same time you’re still a highly regarded producer on the underground scene. How have you achieved this balance without ‘selling out’?
As an artist I try to evolve as I find it very limiting to only play and make one kind of music. I read a quote by Brad Pitt recently that captured the essence of it. He recalled a time when he had a conversation with another movie star about a particular project. That movie star said: "My audience would never allow me to do that". He said it was like cymbals going off in his head. He never wanted to be shackled by that and wanted the freedom to do what challenged him with his different characters. That’s exactly how I've always approached it. I hate to be pigeon holed because it creates creative limitation, but some people have a hard time understanding me because they can’t put me in one category. I need the adrenaline of the unexpected to thrive.
You’ve been producing and performing as a solo artist since 2006. Do miss being part of the Deep Dish duo?
We did that for a long time and achieved a lot of things we could have never dreamed of, but it became necessary for us to spread our individual artistic wings as it was limiting at times for both of us. Being part of a duo is a lot of fun though so, yes, I do miss that at times.
There are a whopping 7 unreleased tracks on your Live at Warung album, with 4 of these forthcoming on your label Yoshitoshi. Which tracks are next up in the release schedule?
So many great records! A re-release of Jungle Drums from Tom Middleton with remixes from Robert Babicz and Sinisa Tamamovic. We’ve just released an amazing new Pig & Dan album – I played a few of their album tracks at Warung but only my remix of their Detonate track made it on to my album. There are tracks by El Mundo & Satori and Samio who make their debuts, plus a couple of my own unreleased tracks. I wore my techno hat again for 'Que Cubano' and my dub step fusion hat for 'In My Arms' with a Damez Jean remix.
You’re returning to play at Warung on 29th October. What do you have up your sleeve for the night?
Of course I will be playing a bunch of stuff from the album, but I also have tons of records that I have earmarked for that night already. You can find some of these cuts on my Wildcast & Yoshitoshi Radio episodes but I guess the best way to hear it all is to be there!
Sharam ‘Warung Beach Club – Live Brasil’ is out now on Yoshitoshi Recordings
For more on Sharam, click here:
House and techno’s biggest unsung heroes, Pig & Dan (aka Igor Tchkotoua and Dan Duncan) released their new artist album, ‘Then & Now’ on Yoshitoshi recently. It’s a musical journey of ‘Then’ and ‘Now’, straddling the sounds of dark house and high energy techno for which the pair have become infamous...
A taster EP of ‘Then & Now’ earlier this year gained support from a mixture of artists such as Monika Kruse and Riva Starr, and your existing fan base spans Felix Da House to John Digweed. Are you ever surprised at how diverse an appeal your music has?
We’re absolutely blown away by how our music has seamed to touch those from most genres of the electronic scene. So many of our idols (much to our surprise) have shown a great deal more support than we could ever have imagined. The funny thing is when we’re convinced that a certain type of DJ will hate a release of ours they give it the big thumbs up and of course visa-versa. Life's full of surprises luckily. Imagine we could predict the outcome, all would be rather f*cking boring
Your album is a musical journey of your productions from ‘Then’ and ‘Now’. Why did you decide to include tracks from years gone by?
Sharam thought we should look into this as a sort of celebration of a long stable relationship with Yoshitoshi. We agreed and suggested adding some new material with a few dirty sneaky remixes of other classic Yoshitoshi artists. We felt that the contrast would appeal to a larger market and perhaps the people who like the newer material would have a chance to look back at the past. It’s a sort of techy audio storybook.
Amongst other sounds, you’re known for experimental breakdowns, dark house and high energy techno. What can we expect on the ‘Now’ disc of your album?
It’s a rainbow of sonic madness to put it in a clearer light. It covers a large span of influences. There’s definitely a slightly more tech house edge to the groove if we have to generalise. However, it covers a vast valley of what drives us, deep basslines, melodic crescendos and vocal cuts that add the human touch. Also there’s a fair bit of actual playing, as in keyboard solos and synth work that’s made with human error and flaws. Strange that as technology betters itself and after years of trying to get everything in time, now we spend a lot of effort on making it wrong and out of time to add that touch that we all so miss. Groove is the key to our doors ;)
When you sit down to produce a track, do you know from the start which direction you’re going to go in?
We haven't got a clue and are very proud of that. The painter who decides he will paint that landscape can do it well, but can he do it with freedom? Some could and they were considered the masters of their trade, however, we don't look at ourselves as masters so let’s just mess around and see what comes of it.
Dan: I studied music from four years young at my own will. I learned it all and the day I completed that last step I turned and asked my father (a doctor in music): What now dad? His answer was short and complete: Forget it all son, if you don't, you won’t be able to create anything. I was furious after eight years of slogging it out however, his words were right. After working with non-musically trained partners like Pig, I realised that I still had some boundaries stuck up my ass from that training, but I knew my instrument inside out. Pig&Dan are pretty screwed without that hold on each other. That’s why it works; I correct his mistakes and he bends my rules right out the window thus creating a feel that’s not always built on trying to be perfect.
Do you each adopt particular roles when in the studio e.g. one of you works out a melody whilst their other works on the base?
No, that’s not the case really. We both just do whatever and push each other to go further with it.
Talking of back ‘then’, who are your all time favourite artists and bringing it forward to the ‘now’, which artists have you got your eye on to blow up?
The list is very long so we won’t bore you with it however it’s about artists that get under our skin. The ones who tickled or jogged that emotion we all look for in music or the arts. From Hendricks to Plastikman, from the Beatles to Sven Vath, it’s just how we feel it. If it gets you off then that’s what it does. If it scratches the surface it aint going to cut it honey.
You’ve remixed for such luminaries as Underworld. How does something this big come about for a producer?
We’ve always hoped it was because we were chosen for our talents, the honour was, and still is, indescribable to say the least. These situations for sure have an element of being in the right place at the right time which we were lucky enough to have fall upon us, we simply cant deny that, but really it brought shivers right down our spines to have the opportunity to work with Karl’s voice and with a group we both so looked up to as our heroes.
You run your own label Balushi. What are the main challenges you face today running the label?
You must work closely with Yoshitoshi label head, Sharam. What’s he like to work with – any inside stories there you care to divulge in?
Sharam and us both have had a long relationship over email but have only actually met in person a few times. He's a super creative guy who knows exactly what he wants and that’s always the kind of person you want heading the team. On a personal note he is very warm and a big time pleasure to have fun with so far. I can only see good times ahead as far as buddies and as artists on his label.
Most people associate Pig & Dan with Yoshitoshi and Cocoon due to your releases on these labels. What else should people know about Pig & Dan?
We both have a past of working in the commercial music world to cut a real long story short. Besides that, I don't think that there’s too much under our hoods that is not clear to see. We love entertaining people, we love music, and yes, we love food to ;)
You met on a flight to Spain 10 years ago where you discovered your mutual philosophy for music and so Pig & Dan was born. Who sparked up the conversation and what was said?
Dan: I was ranting on about my drum & bass courier (boasting according to Pig) to the guy next to me and Pig was sat in the row behind. He lent forward at one point and mentioned his interest in electronic music. We exchanged numbers on the bus from the plane to the terminal and didn't call each other for almost two years. A mutual friend then asked if I wanted to meet somebody called Pig who also made music in Mallorca (my new home). I agreed and went over to meet a guy called Pig. After hanging out and talking shop for a while with Pig, I left his apartment and suddenly it dawned on me that he was in fact that gentleman I bumped into on the plane two years prior. I immediately called him and explained and that’s when we decided it was fate and that we had to try something together. The rest is history in the making ;)
Igor, for those who don’t know, why do you go by the name ‘Pig’ - did you draw the short straw when it came to choosing a production name?!
Igor: I was named this after my best friend discovered my love for food and well, just about anything that was consumable.
Then & Now is out now on Yoshitoshi Recordings
Go get it now! http://www.yoshop.com