The word Joy popped into my head when I opened the box to reveal what lay within this tastefully packaged compilation of gems from the history of movie soundtracks. So it turned out to be entirely relevant as this selection charts moments of elation, alongside deeper darker terrain. From outright Classical via the brilliance of Claude Debussy and Beethoven through to old-time songs from the likes of Ray Charles this release contains it all. It’s enjoyable to let the sounds escape and weave from the room to room filling empty spaces, as not only music but likewise the accompanying pictures generated in your mind while remembering snippets from celluloid, or even imagining new ones. There’s also lots of Mozart with a great quote on the sleeve stating: “Mozart is for eight in the evening. Beethoven is for midnight”, Jean-Luc Godard. If indeed you did need reminding about the sheer strength contained in orchestras, as well as the traditional assembled array of played by hand instruments, then this is also an excellent place to start. Besides, Erik Satie is present too with his lone piano and for beautiful, unequalled poignancy there is none better: Gnossiennes No.3 Lent. A diverse selection of films are drawn on across the three-CD boxset from such disparate classics as Rosemary’s Baby through to The Italian Job and Clockwork Orange, alongside The Man Who Fell To Earth via the outstanding Mars by Holst. There are so many movements that feel reassuringly familiar, and yet almost forgotten until you reengage with them again – preferably with the volume turned up. And you really should engage again.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Nico Stojan & Timujin. Let’s begin with your new release for Rebellion: Oktoberfest. Can you tell us about where the title originates from and how your relationship with the Crosstown Rebels’ sister label happened?
Hello hello, thanks for having us!
The main track of the EP is named after the big folk festival in Bavaria. We both have never been to this festival and always wanted to go…the voice in the track is manifesting it for us.
The release moves across moods and atmospheres impressively with sublime use of guitar and both Satsang and Higher Altitude. Can you tell us about the influences which have informed those more musical aspects of what you do, and in particular about your favourite guitarists?
It is a beautiful instrument with a lot of charm if you know how to play it. Our friend completed the idea that we had in exactly the way we were writing the notes for him. We wanted him to play it in the mood of joy. We also blindfolded him and told him that he couldn’t leave the studio until he delivered the final piece!
Can you talk us through the process of how you produce music together: how initial ideas are realized and then turned into tracks? Are there any pieces of software/ hardware that you always like to use when creating music?
It’s pretty simple. Just searching for the right dead body in the cellar and try to reanimate it with combining the skillz of our musician friends while putting a lot of pressure into the session so they will deliver what you want and rounding up the track and make it alive.
How did the two of you first decide to work together? And can you tell us about the studio you like use?
We were both playing one night on two different art cars at Burning Man and the drivers were totally lost in the sandstorms. They crashed into each other and all over sudden we ended up playing b2b until the sun came up. So we decided to keep on collaborating
How do you feel about the place of nostalgia in music as your sounds feel very new and contemporary?
Aren‘t we all a bit happy and sad at the moment. That is how we would describe nostalgic. If we can put that feeling into frequencies and make people feel the same way when they listen to it you can call it a big failure at the end.
Can you tell us about the favourite places you have DJ’ed? And what feelings/ thoughts you like to convey to the people who dance?
When my great grandmother was turning 90 we took her to Fusion Festival and played house music for her. She loved it and got her groove on!
Outside of electronic music which artists, writers, painters etc have most influenced what you do?
Definitely Odem, Phos4 & Banksy and of course not to forget Damian Hurst. We just bought him in a glass container sitting on the toilet reading the news. We think Everyone should have his own Hirst!
And finally. Tell us about your forthcoming plans to work together?
We will see what happens but right now we are busy learning more about reincarnation and life after death.
Nico Stojan & Timujin – Oktoberfest. Released 24th May 2019 on Rebellion.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty Rich. Let’s start with your new EP: The Four Slip co-produced alongside East End Dubs. Tell us about how you first met, the decision to work together, and what the title refers to?
Cheers and thanks for this chat! I am very happy and excited that East End Dubs and I finally got together to make and finish an EP. We first met when FUSE was still at 93 Feet East every week. It was the summer of 2012. I had been on Beatport that week buying new tunes when I came across his stuff. When I heard them and saw the look of the artwork, I was thinking ‘hold on a sec this must be someone out of our East London scene’ and sure enough he came and said hi that very Sunday. I was playing his tune Jazz Me, we got on and have stayed in touch ever since. It took a while before we got into the studio together and that good because when we did it was nice an easy and natural, good timing. The title refers to when we work in his studio, we would wear slippers, so two pairs of slippers became the Four Slip EP.
Your production style is very intense and feels like a rush of ideas all at once. Who and what have most influenced what you do in terms of Dance Music? And are there any artists or writers etc from outside of the electronic world that have impacted on you creatively?
I have been influenced by many different types of music, from rock to hardcore, jungle to pop and loads in-between. In the early 2000’s it was more about club music, different shades of progressive, then new wave electro, then minimal house. I always want my music to have an impact, both physically and emotionally. People get the same amount of listening pleasure from so many different styles of music so it’s important when writing to stretch the boundaries a bit and do things a little differently. That said it would be wrong of me to try and pretend that our music doesn’t have a framework. Some things just don’t work on our dancefloors, but nevertheless the parts of our brains that might interpret the grunge angst of a Pearl Jam song are the same as those which respond to the intricacies of a subtle bassline harmony in a minimal house record. The maths and science are the same and music and its effect on feelings can be really subtle in its execution.
Can you talk us through the process of co-creating one of the tracks from the EP, including any software/ hardware that you like to use?
We just went into the studio and dived in. He had a basic loop that he was working on. I find it’s always better to start a collaboration with a loop, just to break the ice. We’d go through software, plug-ins and techniques that we enjoy using and as we talked and showed each other stuff, the track layers naturally started to build up. We left quite a long time before getting together again for another couple of sessions where we reviewed everything and started to realise the path of the tracks and way take forward to completion I really like using Native Instruments Battery 4, particularly for adding touches of percussion and FX to an almost finished track as glue to help the flow and feel. Whenever I am in the studio with a friend, I like to go through this piece of my arsenal.
In terms of the Art of production. Do you feel Dance Music is in a good place? And what are your thoughts on the function of nostalgia in it all?
I am really excited about where my dance music scene is. All of my label mates from FUSE and INFUSE are producing incredibly diverse, well produced beats with dancefloor impact. I am being sent loads of interesting music and taking it to DJ with real excitement. On the next What NxT Various Artists, I’ll be featuring as always tracks from established artists (Cuartero, Kepler and Nico Maxen) alongside newcomers (Antss, Aaran D and Marvin Morgan).
Regarding nostalgia, like any music, our music’s relationship with nostalgia can be criticised. Nostalgia for me works on lots of different levels though. My party experience travels with me everywhere I go and I want to recreate the vibes I have experienced for other people. Music always goes around in cycles, sampling has been around since the inception of the technology getting caught up in too much discourse around this or the merits of bootlegs, or whether it’s right to take from a sound that’s gone before, kind of takes away from the fun of it all.
You have been resident and involved with the development of FUSE since its inception over ten years ago. What for you are the most vital ingredients for running a party? And what is the most special thing for you being a resident DJ, rather than playing as a guest somewhere?
The most vital ingredients for a party as simple for me. Sound, music, people, venue and security. These need to be right or the rest doesn’t work. The most special thing for me about being a resident is the long term knowing of your sound and development, that feeling ‘coming home to play’ to our home party crowd, now that we all tour regularly, is a good one too. The party started here so just as important that as we take the sound on the road to all the great parties around the world, we still supply it here, where it all started, otherwise what are we?
Tell us about your history with 93 Feet East and what makes the club so notable for you as part of the FUSE story? How was the recent Bank Holiday event?
93 was really important as part of the evolution of my musical style. Being able to take my early tracks down week by week and test for the brilliant crowd and atmosphere along with the other tracks I would be playing helped me to learn what my DJ’ing style really was. When we returned for the 10th birthday after party last year, with all the people who were there from the start, reminded us of where this all came from and also showed how its grown. The recent bank holiday INFUSE event when I played b2b with Rossko was another perfect reminder of how we can still take it back to the roots and it still feels just as right as if we take it to Amnesia or Tobacco Docks.
And finally. Tell us about any forthcoming plans? Have you been thinking about developing what you do via an album?
My forthcoming EP with East End Dubs is dropping on Fuse London on 14th June, a month later I have an EP on Sante’s AVOTRE. After the summer I will release my 7th solo EP on Fuse London and the 6th release on NxT records which for first time has remixes on the label. What NxT is going to be producing two digital releases this year with some absolute dancefloor gems. Alongside all of this, I have completed remixes for Steve Bug on Snatch and Darius Syrossian on Moxy. About a possible album I don’t currently have active plans to seek to make it anytime soon. That said if it happens, it happens. Gig wise I have lots of look forward to like Cocoon In the Park, FUSE at DC-10, Deeperfect at BPM, Mint Festival and loads more… Nice speaking! 🙂
Love the tantalising combination of searing, dark beauty and pumping, succinct drums which never feel less than brilliant – also the accompanying artwork. There’s more than enough funk injected into the core sensations generated by this crisp, forward-reaching production that positively sizzles with tension as punctuating keys stab at the heart of the matter. And that’s just Signals. The effervescent, Intelligent Machines follows with more pace and furious rhythms dancing across the stereo as the warm musical rush of keys hit the airwaves during the breathless breakdown. More than enough…
Thonk! Sounds like completely the right title for this latest production from Dave Seaman. It sequences a wealth of creative flair with moments of poetic genius while always keep you guessing. Clocking up to seven minutes the experience sees you trip through a breathless reach of sounds that feel cosmopolitan in nature and yet worldly-wise and ultimately, perfect for the dancefloor. The excellent Whitesquare remix follows with guitar punctuated rhythms feeling even bigger than before, again signifying music of quality and distinction.
When the opening chords of Georgy Porgy wash over you in a tingle of anticipation, and then the voice of Cheryl Lynn arrives, you’re right back where you started from. Its moments like these that transcend time. This double CD compilation of the singers Columbia Records releases’ spans the years between 1978 to 1985, covering the best of six albums worth of R&B inspired gems. The title track, which she co-wrote, hits next and if you’ve been on a dancefloor anywhere in the world, or switched on the TV then at some point you will know this. But it’s not just the up-tempo numbers that gather harmonic pace as Cheryl Lynn’s voice shines on any occasion, fast or slow and low. It’s also surprising how many flashes of music are also seared into our collective consciousness such as the unforgeable bars of You Saved My Day. Keep It Hot and the life-affirming qualities of Shake It Up Tonight still remain personal favourites highlighting a time when music spoke an almost different language to what occupies dancefloors in modern days. By the second disc sounds softened with ballads featuring more heavily, including a duet with Luther Vandross on If This World Were Mine. Although standout tracks like the Jimmy “Jam” Harris and Terry Lewis produced Encore helped define not only the sound of American dance music but also that of the UK in 1984.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Noah. Your excellent new album: Therapy is Expensive sounds like a trip through the life and times of sound and experience. How much of it is an observation of growing up in New York and do you think it would have been possible to create the same piece of music without the city?
Hey! Thanks so much for taking the time to listen and for your kind words. Conceptually, the album is very much a conversation between me and New York City; filled with love, hate and everything in between. A lot of the songs were conceived from a place of conflicted emotions about a city that has so strongly shaped my identity. Looking around and being like…”wait, this isn’t the same place I fell in love with as a kid and I’m not even sure I identify with it anymore.” I’m not sure I would have created the same piece of music elsewhere.
A few years ago I broke up with my therapist because it was really expensive and my health insurance at the time wouldn’t cover it. I channeled a lot of my frustration with NY, existential crises and a myriad of other issues into making music. The demos I made got put into a playlist called “beats I made cuz therapy is expensive.” And here are are.
The album contains many hints of different styles of music, including a nod to classical. What for you are the most important elements in making music transcendent?
I think I’ve always been drawn to the emotion behind music: the way it makes me feel, the feelings evoked, etc. Regardless of what “genre” it is. I hate to deduce it to something so general – a “vibe” or a “feeling” – but to me, that’s what it is. That’s how I grew up playing, making and listening to music. In NY, we listened to everything. We had to.
If it’s authentic and it makes me feel something I don’t care what year it was made, who made it, what instruments (or lack thereof) and so on. If you make shit that’s authentic, no one can take that away from you. To me, that’s what keeps me inspired.
Can you tell us about your connection to Flocabulary and what it means for you to be part of it?
For sure! So, I also work as a recording artist for a company called Flocabuary – a learning program for all grades that uses educational hip-hop music to engage students and increase achievement across the curriculum. I write and record songs on all subjects which are later animated to videos and shown in classrooms all across North America as supplementary learning tool. I got involved with Flocab four or five years ago through my friend Lynas and have been working with them ever since.
I’ve been rapping since a teenager so it’s something that comes natural to me. I grew up freestyling in cyphers, battling in the park and making rap records with my friends. My mother, father and sister are all social workers – I’m the deviant artist child. So doing this works allows me to bridge that gap and use my talent as an emcee/writer for something greater than myself. Making and performing music can feel really self-serving at times so I’m always looking for work that I find fulfilling and meaningful in other ways. I also teach skateboarding to elementary and middle school kids through a weekly after-school program.
Can you talk us through how you created one of the tracks from the album, giving us a flavor of your studio set-up including any favorite pieces of software/ hardware you always like to use?
Sure. I have a pretty minimal set up because I get super overwhelmed with too much gear + I’m a shitty musician. I use an MPC-60 & TR-8 for most of my drum sounds. I spend a lot of time digging for samples, field recording with my Zoom recorder and tweaking sounds with plug-ins my engineer friends tell me to get. I record vocals on everything even if I end up scrapping them in the final stages or just using them as a layer in the track. My voice has always been my instrument of choice, so I try and use it as much as possible.
I don’t really have a specific formula for creating. I used to share a proper studio with friends and would come in during my time block feeling like I HAD to make shit even if I wasn’t feeling inspired. Now, I’ve moved my studio to my apt and can chase the creativity whenever it strikes.
One of my favorite songs on the album is 4eversforever. Probably because it came together really organically at a time when I wasn’t making much music or feeling creative. I was deep in a YouTube hole and stumbled on this short documentary about NYC in the 80’s and I was like, “oh this would be cool to layer into a track.” I ripped it, opened up a new session and just went from there. I had this folder of breaks my homie Devon gave me plus a ton of drum sounds I made but never used. Somewhere in the doc these dudes were letting off fireworks in the streets which I thought would be cool to add in. I chopped the drum break, arranged it with these other hits I made then laid down the bass and lead. I liked the vibe and pace of it so I tried not to overthink it and add too much more instrumentation.
I plugged my mic in and did the vocals I did in one take. I just freestyled it then played around with the pitch. The vox were initially supposed to serve as a reference which is why there’s a lot of mumbling and they aren’t that pronounced in the mix. But after I played it for a few friends, they were like, “nah, that’s it, just leave it, fuck it, it’s cool.” It’s significant because it was one of the first tracks I made where I was didn’t overthink everything. I just allowed the ideas to form naturally and then moved on to the next.
Love the cover shot for the album. Can you tell us about it, and why the choice of a black and white image?
Thanks! The original idea was to shoot an old Victorian therapist couch in the jungle but then I discovered the difficulty behind that so I decided to use a photo I took. My girlfriend and I each shoot disposables on trips we take together. This is her at the Bahai Gardens in Israel this past winter. I decided on black and white because it fit the mood of the album.
I’m also intrigued by the influences which have gone into inspiring the album. Who for you are the most important both within the musical sphere and from outside of it?
Musically, I draw inspiration from so many artists across the spectrum. I grew up on Seattle grunge, hip-hop & punk rock primarily. My parents played a lot of classical and folk around the house. My mom sang in a choir. When I first started making music I idealized producers like J Dilla, 9th Wonder, Large Professor and DJ Premier. I definitely carry that influence with me today and anytime I get stuck creatively I dig for a sample, try to be Dilla for a second, realize it’s not possible and move on. I think Dilla probably led me to Moodymann & Theo Parrish / Sound Signature who had a profound impact on me, especially when I started DJing.
Outside of the musical sphere, I’ve been really inspired by contemporary dance and movement. People’s ability to move their bodies in certain ways and the choices they make in performing is beautiful and fascinating to me. I’ve been fortunate enough to see Alvin Ailey here in NY and I always come away inspired. Also, my friend Lir and I worked on a video for “Mish Mish” where she directed a group of incredible dancers. Excited for that to drop.
What for you can the human voice add to music that sounds and rhythm cannot? What is the most important thing (or things) that music can say?
The human voice is the oldest musical instrument so its importance is obviously profound. The human voice can be used as a tool or instrument similar to any other you would play. I often use it as a statement or to add movement & texture to a track. The human voice devoid of the lyric is a versatile instrument.
What informed your choice to self-release the album? Would you recommend it for other artists?
The choice to self-release was tough. It truthfully came down to this: a few labels wanted to sign some of the songs but no one was interested in the whole project and it was all or nothing. For me, this album is extremely personal and even though the vibes differ throughout, there is a sonic and emotional consistency that I didn’t want to break up. I was also kind of on some “you don’t get it and I don’t need you” shit – haha. I didn’t feel like I needed to compromise. Which in today’s climate is true to some degree. You can do it on your own and control almost every aspect of the release, rollout, marketing, etc. The problem is, you don’t have a machine behind you.
My advice for those that thinking about self-releasing is save up enough money where you can invest in other aspects outside of the music itself; PR, merch, visuals, are all really important. Get creative with the rollout of your project. In my experience, if you can reach people in an interesting way on a personal level, they are more inclined to listen.
And finally. Where can people hear you play live? And what plans do you have for the remainder of the year?
I’m taking a few weeks off from playing here in NY and trying to put together a few special shows for July & August. We did a Therapy is Expensive takeover at House of Yes in Brooklyn a few months back so I’m looking forward to taking that concept to some other venues. Also working on putting together a live show that includes DJ’ing, vocals and a drum machine that I’ll hopefully get to premier soon enough. Until then, I’ll be in the streets lurking at my friend’s gigs.
If you’re in Miami I’m playing at Floyd on June 29th. Really looking forward to that one.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Philippa. Let’s start with the brand new label you have launched: At Peace Music. Tell us about the meaning behind the title and the decision to start your own imprint?
Thank you 🙂 There is a personal story behind the label name At Peace, of course, but I like the idea of it meaning whatever it needs to mean for people. The decision to start the label came from a few factors.. Really it was about timing – it’s time for all this music I’ve been sitting on to get out into the world.
The debut release is from yourself: Pronoia EP featuring three emotionally charged productions. There is a real sense of musicality weaving throughout the music and I was wondering about the artists who have influenced you most over the years?
Yeah that’s an easy one – I’m heavily influenced by 70s disco and soul (am currently a little obsessed with Leon Ware and anything produced by Chic in the late 70s / early 80s), and Detroit deep house, the likes of Theo Parrish, Rick Wade, Moodymann. I’ve also had a huge long term love affair with Chicago House, and I’m loving the resurgence of quality French deep house right now. I value song writing as a skill – by that I mean an expressed love of melody and harmony, and an understanding of the sweet magic that can come from a properly executed harmonic hook… weirdly I think it’s pretty rare to come across it done well in house music, but with Detroit house there’s often a soul based bluntness – a simplicity – that is super compelling. I also listen to a lot of classical music, and am a big fan of Sakamoto, as well as 20th century French composers such as Ravel and Debussy.
You relocated from your native New Zealand to Berlin a number of years ago. Tell us about that decision and how would you compare life living in the two locations?
I used to describe the feeling of living in New Zealand in winter (European summer) as the rest of the world being at a party you hadn’t been invited to. NZ is an amazing country – at the bottom of the world. It’s geographically isolated. I knew I had to come to Europe to be part of the huge international electronic music scene, and in the end it was an easy decision but a difficult journey. The culture shock was immense, it’s taken years to find my feet. I coped by throwing myself into music production – it saved me. Berlin couldn’t be more different from Auckland – politically, socially, culturally, historically, musically. It’s given me the space to grow and focus – I’m really grateful to have been able to live here.
Can you talk us through how you produced one of the EP’s tracks? From how you created the music, to any favourite pieces of software/ hardware you always like to refer to? And how you like to approach life in the studio?
I’m an early morning music writer – ideally I spend the first three or four hours of the day in music production. I tend to start off with samples, used mostly for harmonic inspiration, and from which chords are built. I draw from jazz, blues and disco mostly.. Sometimes the sample becomes a non-removable part of the tune – but often I pull the sample out completely. Once the actual tune writing has come together I move into vintage studio spaces at the Funkhaus – happily I have access to these amazing studios via the school I teach at.
Been enjoying listening to your recent Mix For Kate amongst others on Soundcloud. Can you talk us through how you put that mix together and about your choice of music for it?
Glad you like it 🙂 The mix was made for a very dear (and inspirational) friend who recently celebrated a significant birthday back home, which for obvious reasons I couldn’t attend. Kate used to throw a party in Auckland many moons ago and I was one of the resident DJs – as such there are classic records thrown into the mix which I knew she’d love, such as Mood II Swing “Do It Your Way”, DJ Sneak’s “Feel Your Body Talkin” and Moodymann’s “Shades Of Jae” – which was a massive record in Auckland back in the day.
How did you first get into producing? And can you tell us about your time teaching music, and what that has in turn taught you?
I’ve DJ’d for over twenty years – having begun in the late 90s – and DJ’ing is a serious passion. But when I got to Europe I didn’t have the 2-4 gigs a week I’d had for fifteen years in NZ, and that space freed me up to focus on music production. I was also teaching at dBs Music, and one of the amazing things about teaching is what you learn – the constant upskilling. There’s no doubt that teaching electronic music production has given me a firm skill base to create from, and I’m really grateful for that. DJ’ing is fun in the moment stuff – the right dancefloor with the right DJ at the right time can be pure unbridled magic.. But music production is a deeper more rewarding long term gift. I’m happiest when I’m productive in the studio, it’s by far and away my favourite thing to do.
What is your favourite instrument? Do you own one?
I own a Prophet REV2. But my fav instrument (whilst not technically an instrument) is probably the voice – which is the focus of the MA in Creative Music Production I’m currently undertaking.. Which I guess is slightly odd – as I don’t use the human voice much with House. Watch this space I guess.
The brilliant new EP from the hands and minds of long-term FUSE resident Rich NxT along with East End Dubs does all sorts of things. Firstly, E3 delivers hot, liquid funk that stretches the bounds of tension as its wild concoction of drums, twisted sounds and dark notes all hit the spot. Feeling full of energy, brimming with creative flourishes. Next the aptly titled Bubbles continues the theme, this time via hints of Acid teasing the edges producing with another starkly invigorating slice of music.
When you listen to One year On, the beginning of the new album from Solo Collective you feel lost and found. Something in your subconscious gets directly plugged into the piano as the keys unfold, drifting along only to be enhanced via an assortment of strings. What happens next is, For Hazel. And what I love about Solo Collective is the rich, diverse music that they draw from when creating their own sounds. In this case a heady rush of ambience informs the piece. So it continues. The heart-stopping piano of For Mathew. The brutal industrial landscapes of Ripness Is All taunt and tease. Ending beautifully on the Solo Collective version of Holy Island.