Celebrating the Tilly Jam’s tenth release is this excellent piece of music from label head Till Von Sein. It’s almost understated relying as much on subtle intensity as it does rigorous emotional content. Soulfully charged as it tears at the heart-strings and yet the drums feel almost brutal by way of contrast. Simple strings, piano and occasional vocal touches all produce that sense of occasion rather wonderfully on the aptly titled, Winter. Next, 61 State Of Mind expands the ideas into something more akin to Deeper House as classic drum machines inform the landscape of moody pads plus sprinkles of tasteful keys to complete.
Kicking of the first of three tracks for Archie Hamilton’s tasty Moscow Records is the title track, Fill Callings. The first word here is Jamaica as its deep, pounding bassline sequences that heritage firmly into the punchy rhythms generated by the drums, plus a succession of stabs of various twists and turns. The Premiesku member Floog remixes by exciting the groove with more intense beats and bass, adding a rugged yet breathless quality to the number. Chaboi, then digs deeper via chugging House basslines coupled with an uncomplicated, direct arrangement of sounds, leaving the more robust Anak to take off once again via its sizzling hi-hats and more playful keys.
Contrasting another sense of stillness this resolutely beautiful work from Tokyo artist Chihei Hatakeyama pursues its purpose via the evolution of looped sounds. The result is a stunning one piercing the passage of time as seconds drift by. Again this album is the sum of its parts, or to put that another way forms part of one whole. The listening experience is immersive, as all notable succession of sounds should be, and its personal reflections tell their own life-story. Quietly and yet with great impact. The magic of music is the connection it enables across the globe and this tale of lucid movements transports the listener to elsewhere entirely. A sublime experience.
What’s left to say? Stillness Soundtracks the suggestion that there may be a whole left undiscovered, hinting at something beneath the surface that isn’t instantaneously recognisable. Rutger Zuydervelt’s journey into the remote landscapes of sound is far from a solitary one as the music, mysterious as it is, invites you into its imagination as expectations reveal themselves. Sometimes blissful, sometimes altogether darker in temptation. This soundtrack to the visual artist Esther Kokmeijer’s exploration of Antarctica terrain is also an intensely private affair between you and what springs from the speakers. Five pieces form the moments and although it would be unfair to highlight one in particular the warm rushes of emotion and melodic textures emanating from Stillness #9 (Hanusse Bay, Antarctica) are very appealing. Leaving you with the concluding Stillness #10 (Antarctic Sound, Antarctica) by also equalling the charm, this time via choir-like poignancy which is quite breath-taking, the score completes. The accompanying artwork is typically striking, likewise from Glacial Movements, which is incidentally just as well as Rutger Zuydervelt designs them all.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Armando. What struck me about your debut album: Parallel Universe, is the sheer depth of musicality it explores given that a lot of today’s electronic dance music lacks any real emotion or meaningful purpose. Is that a sentiment you would agree with?
Hey guys, thanks for the interview, pleasure to have this chat for Magazine Sixty.
Yes, absolutely. What I wanted to portray with this album was exactly that! From the first track to the last track to be a truly musical experience for the listener. Cohesive, coherent, emotional and a blend of genres within the electronic music spectrum. Also my background has a musician and producer collaborating with other international renowned artists such has Robert Owens, Jinadu and Ithaka.
I believe the album took over two years to complete. Can you tell us about why you dedicated such a long time to creating it? At what point do you feel satisfied that you have completed a piece of music?
I had in mind to put together an LP like this for a while now and also it’s my debut LP and introduction to my music has a writer and composer to the world, It’s sort of a compilation of my best work.
So that’s one of the reasons that it took so long to develop. Because this album was very complex and though trough, I’ve put a lot of work and all my knowledge over the past 20 years has a musician into this album. How it should sound like, the artist collaborations, recording locations, etc… Now looking back, it was a long process but the end result is extremely satisfying and I’m very proud of creating this LP and the people who are part of it as well.
I’m a true believer that what ever you do as an artist nowadays has to have commitment, passion and respect for the art form. Other wise if you compromise those points you’re compromising your legacy and how people perceive you has an artist. Also it’s very important to have musical integrity and make sure you reflect that in your work. I’m sure if you abide to that your work will excel amongst others.
Why did Turquoise Records feel like the right home for the album?
Paraphrasing your first question ¨ today’s electronic dance music lacks any real emotion or meaningful purpose. ¨ Since the music industry is having an identity crisis and it’s hard to filter “Good Music” these days I believe that the timing is perfect and artist who are true and passionate about their work, will always standout in the current climate.
That will always be the mission of Turquoise records when it comes to releasing music and the artist involved on the label.
Going back to beginnings when you studied music production at SAE in Barcelona in 2008, what are the most important lessons you learnt from that experience which have stayed with you since?
It was a great learning experience and I was lucky to be surrounded with the most amazing people in the industry and teachers. The most important lessons I learn was to be true to your art form, be creative and sharpening your technical skills. This will take you a long way and keep you on top of your game.
No Regrets features the unmistakable tones of Robert Owens. How did that relationship come about?
I’m blessed to have such an iconic and one of the pioneers of Deep House music. Larry Heard and Robert were a huge influence when I started to listen to electronic music.
I met Robert in Berlin doing a warm up for him and that’s when I established contact for the first time. He’s a fantastic down to earth humble person, so we started talking and we clicked musically instantly, so later on I asked him to collaborate in one the tracks for the album. And the result was the mellow and heartfelt song “No Regrets”. One of my favorite collaborations on the album.
Tell us about your studio set-up? Do you have a favourite instrument – do you own one?
I’m very analog oriented in the studio, I like to have all instruments and synths at my disposition in case I’m working an idea so I can instantly pick up a bass or a guitar, plug it in and recorded on the fly, very hands on. It’s a simple set up but very practical and easy to work with.
I think my favorite instruments in the studio are my Double Bass and the Korg MS20. I’ve used them on every track of the album.
Outside of the world of music who are your most important inspirations in terms of artists, writers, painters etc?
I get inspired by many things whether its paintings, sculptures or architecture, for instance one of the artist that inspired me the most living in Barcelona was Salvador Dali. He’s work in unique and stimulates the mind in order to be creative and approach your art with a different perspective.
How did you get into DJ’ing, who were your initial influences, and what do you get from playing other people’s music that is different from creating your own?
It was a natural process. Since I was 16 I always loved creating music, rehearsing with bands, and being up on stage. I guess it runs in my family too due the fact my grandfather use to be choir director and my dad is a drummer. So it was inevitable no to follow their musical steps.
Back in my town Porto I used to work for a record shop and I always love the fact that I could recommend and advise people music and curate music for an audience. Not only that but I was drawn to the club atmosphere and has a DJ the ability to create a mood and a vibe for people to get together and enjoy themselves.
I believe my biggest influence and introduction to electronic music was a night club in Porto called Trintaeum back in early 2000’s there I heard Moodymann, Carl Craig, Dixon, Henrik Schwarz and many others of the genre. They definitely influenced me to start creating electronic music and djing as well. Shout out to Rui Trintaeum, great dj and club owner at the time!
And finally. Tell us about your forthcoming plans for 2020?
For 2020 I will keep promoting my album and also do a tour around Europe and Asia. So, see you on the dance floor…
Beginning at the start with this thought. Some music is more important, more meaningful than others. That is not to be elitist, it’s simply a statement of truth. Listening to Armando Mendes journey into experience conjures up that implication as sounds, moods and musical possibility are all visited upon the listener via a joyous intent. The first thing that strikes you here is the sheer breadth of sight and notation which has been soaked up and then transferred through the stereo of life. Quality and imagination are bywords. For example experience the warm, poignancy noted across the beautifully haunting Things U Do 2 Me, Acid is then consumed by the grainy rhythms of the fierce Acid Yardies, while the soulful tear of Robert Owens is laid bare upon No Regrets – with one of his finest vocals. Never sticking to a single idea the music evolves in many exciting ways such as on the ambient bliss generated by MS20 Interlude, leaving darker impressions to contrast with One Night in Bangkok, or on the sublime electrics of Parallel Universe. It’s all just about discovery. But back to the very beginning as Ithaka ignites the thought-provoking This Life’s All We Got in low-slung, funky ways by breathing the anticipation of life into all the happens next.
Launching Saturn Return into 2020 Rowee delivers on a promise with four tastefully produced gems. The title track, Euphydryas slides into vision via booming, sumptuous kicks plus an accompanying melodic chime and atmospheric richness that you will already associate with the artist. Desert Rain neatly contrasts with Jazzy reflections amid taught drums and bass, this time alongside a flurry of treated voices. The more introspective and excellent Jewel Of The Seas follows suite, leaving the final mallet strikes of Origami to end on a further high completing this inaugural release from the brand new imprint.
Inner World is a spectacular piece of music in anyone’s book. Reading like a trip through a rich, musical landscape touching upon a series of seemingly random events that inform rhythm and soulful imagination in equal measure. Hinting at a cosmic Jazz-Funkiness as solo’ed synths soar skyward both the drums and stabbing, bass guitars feel tastefully cosmopolitan, while soaking a myriad of heady influences. The chugging, Indicus follows with spiritually inspired voices augmenting the landscape of sound unfolding the experience as you listen, aiming with pointed syncopation amid a swirling intensity.
There is a touch of something timeless playing out here. Maybe its Matty Eeles self-assured yet poignant vocal that causes the sensation, or perhaps the drifting guitar lines which accompamy the shuffling drums that paint the intensity. Either way, Don’t Go is a first class piece of music that highlights the repeated demand of the power of song and musicality. One Together, then pushes the envelope further with piano igniting the delicate voice tentatively, as bass twines around warm suggestive tones alongside a brisk rush of percussive punctuation.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Nesker. Your new single: No Escape features a stunning vocal. Is it you? And can you tell us about the meaning of the words and how they came to be written?
Nice to meet you thank you! Yes I did the vocal part. Before I started to produce electronic music, I sang in a band and that’s why I really wanted to release a track with my own vocals! The lyrics go back to the time when I had to go abroad for my main job. I often felt a sense of loneliness and I kept asking myself if this is really the life I want to live for the next years. The Track was written during my time in Sweden and it tells exactly about these feelings. Sometimes it felt like there was no escape from this situation and so I came up with the title ‘No Escape’. I often went out into the woods to get a clear head and that’s where the lines were actually written.
How did your relationship with Goeran Meyer happen and what was it about MYR that attracted you to the label?
Three years ago, Göran liked one of my tracks on SoundCloud and since that day we had more and more contact. Everything has developed into a great friendship! He told me a lot about the music industry, because he has been working in it for many years with his independent label. It was only a matter of time before I would release my first EP on MYR.
Can you talk us through how you produced No Escape including any favourite software/ hardware you like to use?
When I start to produce a track, I usually don’t have a concrete idea in my head and that’s how it was with ‘No Escape’. In 90% of the cases I first build the beat, look for a suitable bass-line and then play around with different melodies until I find the right one! The lyrics then come at the end. Most of the time a suitable line comes to my mind completely by chance at the most inappropriate moments. Fortunately you always have your mobile phone with you to record these ideas!
For this track I used the software synthesizers from U-HE, because I am a very big fan of those! These plugins appear in almost every production of mine. The drums all come from sample packs, because I’m mainly ‘in the box’. I recorded the vocals with the Rode NT2 right after getting up, because at this time of day my voice sounds different and better.
Tell us about how you first got into DJ’ing and who initially inspired you?
Back in the days I always took care of the playlists at our little parties. One part of the list was always Fatboy Slim! I watched videos of him and from that time it was clear to me that I wanted to have DJ equipment as well! At Christmas I got my first Midi-Controller and a few weeks later I played for the first time in front of an audience. I can still remember that moment when I almost threw the controller off the table because of all the excitement and trembling! 😀 However, I stopped DJing after a few years, because we then formed our band and I spent all my time on it. It was a very cool time to be on stage as a singer and to sing my own lyrics, but eventually I had to go abroad because of my job and we ended the band. I wanted to continue making my own music and so I came to produce my own music!
Where can people get to hear you play? And what is the scene like where you live?
I live near Augsburg and I’m on the road here more often! The scene is constantly growing and there are more and more private parties. There are some cool locations, be it the Kantine, the Club Paradox, or the Mahagoni Bar. But the annual highlight is definitely the Ikarus Festival in Memmingen. It takes place at an old military airport and it always has a great lineup! You should definitely check out this festival if you haven’t heard of it yet!
I have confirmed a few dates which I will announce on my social media in the new year. Just drop by and stay up to date!
Who would you say are your most important influences both within electronic music and from the world outside of it?
There are so many artists and I feel inspired by almost any kind of music! But most of all I like the music of Rüfüs Du Sol! I like almost every track and I am fascinated by their work every time!
Outside the electronic music world, it’s definitely my mother. She passed on all the creativity to me and I am really grateful to her for that! But when I’m sitting in the studio and nothing useful comes up, I grab my headphones and drive into the forest. This is the place that really gives me the most creative input! It’s really cool to have something like that right at your front door!
What are your thoughts on the current state of Club Culture in terms of clubs/ festivals, streaming and the future?
In my opinion it is getting harder and harder for the clubs because of all the restrictions! More and more locations have to close. That’s very frustrating, but it doesn’t stop electronic music from soaring! No matter who you ask, almost everybody likes to party to electronic music!
As far as streaming is concerned, I’m a bit divided. On the one hand, it has become much cheaper for you to listen to so much different music compared to the time when you spent a lot of money on CDs. On the other hand, it is anything but profitable for us artists. Sure, you can increase your reach in a very short time, but due to the flood of new music, the individual releases become more and more short-lived and that is a real pity! As far as the future is concerned, I’m really curious about what is still to come!
And finally. Can you share with us any plans moving forward into 2020?
At the moment I’m doing the promotion of my EP. Besides that I’m working on a remix for MYR and of course on other tracks of my own. I’m just at the beginning of my plans for my music and there is a lot in the pipeline!