Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty Snna Oblack & Nacho Arauz. Can we begin by asking a little about your background? How did you first get into DJ’ing/ Producing and which artists/ clubs initially inspired you?
Hello, it’s a pleasure to be here with you.
When we both started out and were still very small we worked individually but when we met we decided to form what is now Los Pastores, from that moment we began to produce together we were influenced by artists like Luciano, Loco Dice, Matthias Tanzmann, Marco Carola or Hector Couto among others. The clubs that inspired us most at the time were Barraca (Valencia), Florida135 (Huesca), DC10 (Ibiza), Amnesia (Ibiza).
You have been running the label since 2012. How would you describe the state of the record business and can you tell us about the importance of vinyl to you?
We started with our Oblack label in 2012 with two formats, vinyl and digital. The vinyl format has always been very important for us, but we must bear in mind that this format is only used by a relatively small number of people, and from our point of view we have to accompany it with digital releases to reach as many people as possible.
Your current release is by Ogni – Point Of No Return. What do you look for when signing something to the label, and do you think it is harder or easier with today’s technology to be an original artist?
Yes, it’s a great EP!! Hehehe When we sign EPs for vinyl release we always look for the music to be atemporal, however for the releases of the Digital Series we look for a sound with a dancefloor focus. This year we have released our new series of digital music called “Raw Series” in which we release more avant-garde music.
We think that it´s much easier to be an original artist with modern technology, since there are so many different ways to produce electronic music nowadays.
Talk us through the creative process for you when making music, and can you tell us about your studio set-up?
We use several types of machines in our productions but the most outstanding are undoubtedly the Nord modular, Moog Sub 37, Nord Rack 2 or Roland TR-8 among others. In addition, we have always combined the old hardware technology with our favourite software, Logic.
Who creates the artwork for the label? Do you have a favourite cover to date?
For the design of our covers we work with different designers and illustrators, all the ideas are thought by the team, and after this process we materialize them. Our favourite cover so far is the latest vinyl EP OBLACK021.
What inspires you outside of the world of Dance Music?
We are inspired by good food, sports, good books, and generally healthy habits.
How did your collaboration with ARBG on Sit Down Recordings happen? What was the inspiration behind the production?
We met ARBG through an EP that he signed for our Oblack label and as a result we started to share music before collaborating with him. We are very happy because this EP is receiving very good feedback and has just been charted by Matthias Tanzmann in his Closing Ibiza Chart 2017.
And finally how do you see the label and yourselves as artists moving into the future?
Our label is well positioned within the European electronic scene, in our next releases you can see artists such as ONNO, Chris Wood, Diego Krause, DJ T, Alex Arnout, System2, Javi Bora, Justin Harris, Mihai Popoviciu, Christian Burkhardt, Sascha Dive, and many more.
As Los Pastores, we are going to be releasing on labels like Deeperfect, Roush, Oblack, Sanity, Yaya Records and many others yet to be confirmed.
Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty Francesco. Let’s start with your latest release “10191 EP” on Rhythm Cult Digital. Can you talk us though where the inspiration came from for one of the tracks and then how you produced those ideas as music?
Ciao Magazine Sixty-thanks! It’s a” terrific” pleasure to answer these introspective and detailed questions!
The inspiration comes from a question that I’ve been always wondering about myself during my DJ sets, specifically when I’m playing my favourites ‘bangers’ and people are going nuts. I ask myself: “Frankie, you should have few killer tunes from yours in your deck of trump cards, don’t you?” So I got really focused on what I like to play at that precise moment.
Writing music, for me, is such an instinctive act that for me it’s conceived in the club and gestates in my studio.
Going right back to the start and growing up in Rimini. Which DJ’s and Clubs influenced you most and how would you describe the Dance scene and the city at that time?
I’m too proud of my hometown to talk about it honestly! “La Riviera Romagnola” – all the area around Rimini’s coast, it’s the actual nest of the club culture and legendarily where the art of DJ’ing is born! (Don’t try to prove me wrong, have a look to DJ Mozart)
Clubs like Baia Degli Angeli, Altro Mondo Studios, Cocoricò, Echoes, Paradiso, Classic. They were all pioneers of the dance scene.
The first time I stepped into Cocoricò club and listened to DJ Cirillo playing it’s there where I was most definitely inspired.
P.S. Try to have a “piadina” at Ilde’s after a couple of days of raving, and you’ll know why I’m so proud of my city!
Where did you learn about music production? And can you also tell us about becoming an Apple Logic Pro Certified Trainer and Music Producer and what it means to you to be able to teach others about creating music?
Teaching and co-working with other artists is my everyday source of further inspiration and energy. It may appear on the outside that its just help and guidance for them, but most of the time it’s the straight opposite.
Everything started from my friend Marco, when he was mocking me about my “geekyness” in the studio. He said once: “Frankie, you are such a Logic-Pro-nerd, why don’t you teach other people?”. So I had a look, found a workshop in NYC, went there twice, got my certifications, met my wife at Paul’s Burger on 2nd Ave and Bowery.
How I learned to use Logic? I read the manual. How I learned to make music? I’m not sure I did it yet…
You currently live in London where you are resident and Music Director at the Mayfair Club – MNKY HSE. How did that come about? And how do you feel about the way club culture appears to moving in terms of festivals taking prominence over weekly club nights?
I have to be honest, it’s still confusing how I ended up there. I think MNKY’s crew embraced my vision and patiently accepted my quirkyness. I’m blessed to Direct an amazing spot like this – it’s a true diamond.
The “festival-shifting” has a more sociological meaning: the new generation is so over stimulated that music is not enough to entertain them. That’s why it’s an impelling mandatory act to have massive visual shows or to be in the VIP area sharing your pictures. The clubbing scene, as we loved it, has changed.
What does the word Techno mean for you? And how do you see the music moving forward in time – do you think it will ever become a set of clique’s like the 90’s House sound has become?
That’s a tricky question. I’m a spoiled kid from Rimini who loves Lucio Battisti and Star Wars. I’m not from Detroit, nor from Berlin. I experienced Techno when I listened DJ Saccoman playing some rare wax from R&S and when System Of Survival gave me a folder named “History of Techno Music” to learn – where the Techno sound comes from. So, for me, techno is knowledge and amazement and of course it’s that suspended fraction of a second right before the kick-drum drops.
More than anything else, Electronic Music is a wave, repeating itself in circles, so I think all this “labelling” has no sense for the music-lovers out there; but you know, non-music lovers worship labelling stuff – don’t they?!
What for you is expressed though rhythm (instrumentation) that isn’t expressed though words (song)?
I personally think that Rhythm is one of the many ways to meditate and enter a transcendental state of mind. Rhythm is the medium to carry yourself into an altered condition. Repetition, patterns and accents drive you and your body. That, for me, is the biggest expression. Alternatively, songs carry a message: they share feelings.
Which artists have had the biggest impact on you both in terms of music and in the world outside of it?
I’m a sucker for 90’s Electronic Bands: from Chemical Brothers to Air; Prodigy to Daft Punk.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet all my heroes and legends, to talk with them, to understand their journey. I really hope to get to that level, amount of wisdom and peace.
What is your favourite instrument? Do you own one?
My wettest dream is to be a classical trained piano player and movie soundtrack composer, I have keyboards, theory and score books everywhere. I keep on dreaming though… and that’s why my favorite instruments still remain my trusted AKAI MPC2000XL and its digital version Maschine.
And finally can you tell us about your forthcoming plans?
Re-patching and setting-up the studio is my first priority right now, as well as going back to piano classes (for the 99th time ahahaha)
Jokes apart, I’m finalising a six track album I wrote during my journey in Nepal: it will be released by a Berlin based label of really good friends.
New music in collaboration with my mate David Hasert is soon to be released, same for an incredible amount of tracks which I produced with the tireless Salvo aka SB-Unit.
Of course, to be a classical trained piano player and score composer is top priority!
Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty Ryan. Can we start with your breath-taking new single: SHADOWS. Can you talk us through where the inspiration came from for the track and how you then transformed those ideas into music?
Shadows was a song I had written quite soon after leaving my place of employment for the last 10 years. I was toying with the idea of going full time for way to long. The security of full time employment was great, but it really prevented me from pushing my music. This song kind of talks about that. It’s a struggle that most artists never see through. I can understand that, it’s a total gamble.
The idea really started with the pretty massive analog bass line. I wanted the track to be very minimal and to focus on a solid vocal delivery. This was something that I previously wasn’t very comfortable doing. As the lyrics progressed more elements where added. I used a lot of synth sounds that haven’t been used in a musical sense such as the modular style glitches. This was to sonically push my synth skills and sound. Finally the string sections. Strings are something I’m absolutely obsessed with. I had Rachael Boyd & Laura Mc Cabe brought in for that. Both stunning players.
Your recent session for Across The Line highlighted your use of analogue synthesizers. Which artists first inspired you to use those sounds and how would you describe the difference between the sounds they produce and those similar instruments recreated by digital plug-ins?
Yeah this topic is something I get asked by a lot of people. I grew up listening to loads of different genres. I’ve never really pin pointed one artist that inspired me.
I kind of started learning synthesisers when I was about 16. I’ve been collecting ever since.
I was never really against computers as such. It was more the case of synths were cheaper to buy at that time rather than computers and software. I’ve heard amazing software that can out do hardware and vice versa.
A lot of electronic music these days is more or less instrumental (especially Dance). What does your voice say about you, and do you think that there is anything that the human voice can’t convey which instrumentation can – or vice versa!
I think a combination of bought is now a good happy medium.
Your studio has an amazing array of keyboards. Do you have a favourite and why?
I would have to say analog my Roland Juno 6. Digital would have to be the ROLI GRAND.
How long did it take you to acquire them all? Where did you source them from?
This has been built up over 15-16 years of collecting. I’ve bought from all over the world now. Ebay has been the main search engine I’d have to say.
Tell us about how your involvement with Quite Arch and Northern Ireland Arts Council came about?
Quiet Arch was a label that myself and Lyndon Stephens started up to release an album called Sealegs. The album done so well that Quiet Arch began to grow.
The Arts Council have been amazing. They noticed me about two years ago and have been helping me develop. Support like that is vital these days.
How do you see the future of record distribution and sales in the digital world?
Vinyl unfortunately is dying off again along with CDs. Streaming is how us artists are going to survive.
And finally. Please share with us your future plans for live performance and your next album?
Wednesday I play in London with TALOS, Thursday I’m in Belfast & Sunday Dublin. Festivals are over, now the gigging begins.
Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty David. Your latest release: A.D.D. EP is out now on Hottrax comprising of four equally energetic tracks. What elements are most vital to you as a producer? Do you think it is important to be seeking out new sounds as an artist or do the older ones still do it?
The bassline is usually the first element I start with as I think it’s the most vital element of a track. As for newer or older sounds it’s definitely a healthy mixture of both. I love my classic 909 hats and claps with futuristic spacey synth elements to compliment it.
Can you talk us though how you produced one of the tracks from the release. From where you get your inspiration from and how you then turn those ideas into an arrangement?
Usually when I start a new track the inspiration comes from a new machine or plugin that I just bought. For instance with A.D.D. i had just bought the TC Helicon Voice Live Touch 2 and used it with my voice to create the A.D.D. hook. This was the same case with Playing in Space. I put down the drums, a few elements, and then just improvise an arrangement on the fly recording in Ableton and tweak from there.
How did you get together with the label? And how important is it to you to have your music signed to a certain label?
I passed some music to my long time friend from NY Lauren Lane, who passed it to Jamie, so shout out to Lauren for linking us together. I think its very important to have your music signed to a certain label, because everyone will associate you with it.
Listening to your DJ mixes it strikes me that you have a wealth of differing influences going on. Who has inspired you most both within and outside of electronic music?
Well I started out as an hip-hop/open format DJ so for many years I did all different types of events. From high fashion events to ghetto hip-hop, so growing up playing like this has kept me open-minded to play across the spectrum.
Tell us about life in New York and how Dance Music has evolved for you there? Do you have a favourite place you like to play at?
Life in NY is great, there’s so much energy and diversity, but the dance music scene has definitely changed. Seems like every year NY is getting stricter with codes, shutting down parties left and right. It’s a bit discouraging, but I hope this changes. As for places to play in NY, my favourite room at the moment would probably be the Panther Room for its intimacy.
What for you is expressed though rhythm (instrumentation) that isn’t expressed though words (song)?
The instrumentation for me ultimately expresses the mood of a track. Words just compliment it.
And finally what are your future plans for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018?
Will return back to my apartment in NY after a long first summer in Ibiza. Looking forward to spending most of the fall in the studio to finish some open projects and collabs I started. Have a few collaborations with Guti and a collab with Jessie Calloso that should be out on Cuttin Headz in October.
Hi Lavvy and welcome to Magazine Sixty. You founded Friday Fox Recordings in 2013 along with Christian B. How would you describe the highs and lows of running a record label since then?
Hey Greg, thanks for having me…. well we all know that the music business is not what it once was, so first and foremost you have to 100% love what you’re doing, cause if it’s just about the money then I don’t think that’s really sustainable. But we knew what we wanted to achieve with Friday Fox, and we also knew it might take a while, but we’ve stuck with it and I hope people feel the love and dedication that we put in. For me personally all the hard work is worthwhile when you get sent a video of one of your releases being dropped all over the world and you see people dancing and smiling. Nothing better than the feeling that you’ve helped people forget their worries and have a good time.
Your current release is by London Fields: Find Our Love. What attracted you to the track, and what do you look for when deciding to sign something?
We really loved the fact that the artist behind the London Fields project is a well established producer, most known for slightly more pop-driven dance, but he wanted the chance to stretch out and experiment somewhat.. and the result is very strong, this adventurous side is perfect for Friday Fox; the whole EP is really varied. I am naturally drawn to the unusual and quirky, for me that’s how we innovate – and this EP really fits the bill, especially the title track ‘Find Our Love’ which is warm and beachy, but has enough quirky features to appeal to those who are seeking something a little more avant-garde; a great balance.
The label’s releases are often defined by their musicality. How important are traditional musical aspects to you? And do you think anything has been lost through technology and the ready availability of the Internet?
Most of the team at Friday Fox are ‘of a certain age’, so we cling to traditional music and production values where possible – I think it makes a stronger track. Certainly, on productions from Christian and myself we always try to use homegrown elements including drums, percussion and mouth-effects, that way it feels unique from the start. I think there is an element of production being too easy to do these days, but you’ve still got to find your own unique groove and that takes talent. We are always trying to push musicality whether it’s the live trumpets of Michael Oberling, the jazz-funk keys of Rapson or my vocals, and we have plenty of projects in the pipeline that will continue in that vein.
Which records and artists have inspired you most (Dance or otherwise)?
Personally, I grew up in a House filled with Funk and Disco, and I pretty much have my parents to thank for my taste in general. I did find my own way in my teen years getting caught up in the Hardcore/Jungle sound with artists like 4 Hero and Goldie really shaping me. Looking into the samples used in the 90s led me back to Disco, Jazz and Funk and then I finally came full circle back to House. I do find that I am drawn to those who just do their own thing, the non-conformists – artists like Roisin Murphy.
How did you get into DJ’ing? How would you describe the music you like to play?
My first experience was in 93, DJing as a youngster on a local pirate station with Christian, this was mainly back in the Jungle days. I caught the bug, and with my friend Matt Rozeik, we explored DJing with vinyl and played around with different techniques – even to the point where we would have the same record on both decks and offset them by a half-beat to create a syncopation, then bring it back in time to get some natural phasing. I still try and DJ with vinyl where possible, but it’s an expensive game these days, so I do incorporate digital alongside. I play what I like – simple as that really. Mainly disco infused housey grooves. I try not to by defined by genre and like slipping in the odd surprise. I try and play as much fresh underground music as possible – as I think that’s a key job of a DJ; to bring fresh music to people.
Can you describe your studio set-up and where the inspiration comes from when creating music?
We have two studios’ that we use… I have a simple home set up to work on Solo material, and then for bigger joint productions we use the main Friday Fox Studio that Christian B runs. We really only write and produce music when we have something to say, or an itch that needs to be scratched. It always comes from the soul and heart. Inspiration comes from all over… lyrically I just try and write how I feel about things; for instance, ‘Got My Love’ was written shortly after my mother passed away, and ‘No Trouble’ was inspired by rioting in London. Musically we get inspiration from everywhere… we usually start most productions with a sample or a groove we like – that inspires the rest of the production even if the finished product is completely different.
How do you see the future of Dance music in terms of both releasing tracks and the function of Clubs?
Well, the scene needs to return to those who completely and utterly love the music, not those out to make a quick buck. It feels like the soul-less era of EDM has passed, and I think people are seeking something deeper with more soul and real-feel. We need to get back to incorporating more organic material in the productions, supporting talented live players. Also, I think NuDisco needs to move away from straight up lifting entire Disco tracks with no credit to the original artists, sampling can be a great thing, but it’s all gone too far and we need more original fresh music. Clubs needs to get back to basics, show some down to earth originality and let the clientele speak for them.
And finally. Can you tell us about your forthcoming plans?
Lots in the pipeline, fresh music from South Africa with Rudi Botha & Miggza, a new Christian B & Lavvy Levan EP and we’ve also just started a major project with Marc Rapson – so plenty to look forward to – including lots of Friday Fox parties! Christian and I also have several remix projects coming including remix work for 2 Bad Mice, Deepkeen, Joe Fin and Yoversion Records. I also have some fresh solo work coming on a brand new label from Tommy D Funk.
Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty Tyree. Could we begin by telling us about your Jack The Box project with Bobby Starrr?
Hi how are you. The Jack The Box Project came about some 10 years ago when Bobby Starrr had the idea to do our own events in Berlin while that whole Minimal scene. We thought because at that time while NO ONE was really fuckin with House Music we could do something about it and that’s when it began and making records came shortly after that…
(Photograph by Marie Staggat)
Love your remix of Ricardo Baez’s – SA-2. Can you tell about how the remix came about, plus talk us through the production process involved in creating it?
Thank You very much for diggin my remix. Well, when I heard the track I thought immediately that my mix should be “Classic Sounding” because of Ricardo’s love for Chicago House and House in general. So I kinda put myself back in those times when life was rough and shit was fucked up, socially and economically but we had House Music in its purest moment, and that’s where my focus went..
You were present at the birth of House Music in Chicago. What for you were the key elements of the music, and why do you think they have stood the test of time?
Yes I was at the very beginning of House Music Culture and I am Grateful to have made my contribution to the culture, as well as admiring the fuck outta it. There are far too many factors that play into any one key element because it was always dimensional, so I can’t really say that this or that was actual key element of the music. If anything the key element should be that we were mostly black people trying to do something that nobody else was fuckin with and we pull it off with a freekin boom… And why it still has withstood the test of time, because out an oppressed society something creative can happen and revolutionize the planet, so we were all hungry and thirsty to make our mark on the world, by making some of the hottest shit to play in Chicago. Then the rest of the world caught on in a roundabout way..
What are your memories of working with the seminal DJ International label? And how would you compare the process of making music back them with today?
At DJ International I had great times and bad times, just to keep it 100. But that experience I would not change it for nothing, because I got the opportunity of a lifetime to witness the music business up close and how it REALLY works. I’ve met so many talented engineers, producers, singers, and of course MC’s. The difference in recording music today then yesteryear, it’s much easier because it’s all laid out for you in your DAW system.
What is your favourite instrument? Do you own one?
My favorite instruments are: Drums, Bass, Woodwinds, and Sax… And no I don’t those instruments anymore, those were my High School Days..
How would you contrast life in Berlin with Chicago? And why the move?
There’s a lotta difference in contrast between the cities, but my move to Berlin was about being where my job was, sorta speak. Meaning, I was playing more in Europe then in America so it just made sense to me to just move. There are other more personal reason that I will not disclose at this time, and fuck no i was not running away from any persecution of any kind…
From your perspective I was wondering how much of an influence European Dance music (and other forms) had on the Chicago scene in the early days of House? Or was Disco the most significant factor? And who for you were the most important DJ’s from that time?
I put it to you like this, if you lived on the Southside and in a certain areas of the Southside then disco would be your influence. If you lived in the Suburbs then more than likely Italo Disco was probably your influence. If you lived on the Westside then more than likely you like everything, because of the tricks you could do with two copies. If you lived on the Northside then you were probably influenced more by Italo Disco. Chicago was one of the most segregated cities in America at one time, so here’s a taste of that division of people that created that sound called Chicago House.
And finally. Can you tell us about what you are working on at the moment plus your forthcoming plans for the future?
At the moment I’m about to release my seventh release on my label Chicago Vinyl Records. It’s a Hip House song I did with my friend Pure G.O.D. and it’s called “Back Home”. After that I have song that Adonis and have collaborated on from back in 86, and a song just finished as of July 9 2017 with Harry Dennis. Also I will be releasing my greatest hits album volume 1 with a couple of new tracks on there as well. So I’m just staying on hustle and taking care of my family, that’s it….
Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty Ricardo. Love your new release for Music For Freaks: SA-2 EP. Can you tell us about the idea behind the title for the EP and where it came from?
Hello! SA-2 is a basic and super cheap model of a little keyboard. I bought it in a market in Pietrasanta and one day after a long studio session of trying to find something good, using all my main instruments… I took a break and I started to play around with this new “toy”.. and the track just came out. Everytime, it’s magic.
You have an album forthcoming this summer. How would you describe the music on there, and how have you found the process of making the album?
Making an album is a challenge as I love so many genres of music. I’m trying to find a common thread in the sound in all the tracks as well as making the order of the tracks a priority. At the moment the album is not quite finished yet, but it will be soon!
Do you work best at night, or during daytime?
Night or Day for me is the same. When I’m inspired and I have time to give (for real) space to my ideas, without thinking about problems or being preoccupied, this is the moment to start working.
Can you tell us about your studio set-up, including a favourite piece of software/ hardware that you like to use?
I don’t have a fixed set-up. I always try to change, to find the best way to release my ideas.. I use ableton with all my real machines (old or new but real) and some samples or recordings that I make. I have many cool pieces: moog little phatty, all the Roland boutique and Roland Aira, tr 707 and more BUT the most important for me are all the instruments that I buy when I travel around the world. The last one was a Whistle Maya that I bought in Teotihuacan (Mexico). Every single sound is important for me and they all have a meaning.
Tell us about the choice of the legendary Tyree Cooper as remixer for SA-2?
Justin Harris felt Tyree would do a great remix so approached him with the track. When he told me that Tyree had accepted, I was so happy. Chicago House has shaped me so much in the past, in the present and for sure in the future and to have a remix from a legend like him … is simply amazing.
Who are your main influences both within and outside of electronic music?
I don’t have that many big influences from electronic music, to tell the truth. I love some artists but they can’t (and maybe I don’t want) inspire me with ideas for music. I listen to their music as I read a book or watch a film, to understand their history and emotions. Smile or Cry. Dance or be bored. My only 2 big influences are 1) my mother and my father and all the music they gave me to listen to and 2.) the big knowledge I am very fortunate to have my life.
Tropical Animals was born to represent my little world and to play only the music that I love. Now it is one of the famous clubnight’s in Italy (they say!). The main difference between Tropical and many clubnights, is that we heavily research new artists from all over the world and not only the big names. For us the most important thing is the music not the name. We hosted for the first time out of his/her home, artists like DENIS SULTA, BAMBOUNOU, DJ BORING, etc and for the first time from our country many many more artists. Since 2010, every Thursday, you can find your home.
How would you describe the scene in Florence? Which clubs/ bars would you recommend?
The Florence’s scene atm is really positive for dance music.
If you want to listen to big DJ’s, we have events and promoters that host some of the best djs in the world. If you want to listen to new music or new underground artists and great djs too, there are clubs Like CLUB21 (the Tropical home) or TENAX.
In the clubs you dance, in the bars you drink.. and FUSION and LOCALE are the places where I usually drink a few cocktails!
And finally. Do you believe Dance music has the power to change society for the better?
Dance music can change the people. In a positive or negative way.
Only the People have the power to change society.
I don’t know, but every day me and many others djs, artists, journalists and promoters, through our work and passion, fight for this…and this is a good way.
Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty. Your latest series of releases: ‘The Eysenck Suites I-IV explore the psychology of Hans Eysenck’s four temperamental categories and the emotions they encompass’. Tell us the story of how you encountered the psychologist and what was it about his writing that inspired you to put that into music?
Well… I was back home for the weekend and foraging in my parents’ loft for vintage Star Wars figures that had survived my childhood, when I stumbled across a pile of old Psychology books. One contained Hans Eysenck’s personality traits chart – it has four sections showing the distinct types of personality and how they interact. Those four sections would eventually become the EP series titles: Melancholic, Choleric, Sanguine and Phlegmatic. It was perfect, especially as I’d been looking for a concept for my new recordings, and I do love a good concept! For me, it gives a project focus, an impetus to create and the see things through, so I was galvanised, the project had officially begun. I started thinking about ways to write music to fit each mood, and how some of my already existing recordings and sketches could fit.
‘The Eysenck Suite II – Choleric’ is the next release in the series and comprises of vocal snippets amongst the array of emotionally resonating synthesizers. Can you describe the process of creating the music from one of the tracks beginning with the initial ideas to producing the final track?
The catalyst for a song just appears – it might be a place, a sentiment, a person, an object or curio. Sometimes the melody is present already, other times I just know a song is there to be written. These occasions are what I love most about making music – the first idea, everything sounding like the best thing you’ve ever written. Most of my songs start life on guitar or piano, and then evolve into something more electronic as I start to incorporate technology. I normally finish a song and then record vocals live over it. I then chop and edit them to become something else entirely. ‘The Divided Self’ on this EP is interesting as it was created very differently to my normal methods…
I was stuck at Oxford Street in Manchester, so decided to take some field recordings of trains and Tannoy announcements. There was nothing else to do while waiting for my delayed train! Luckily, I had my tablet with me, so I started writing a rough sketch on the Android app “Caustic 3”. It’s a great little app for getting ideas down on the go, if you haven’t got an instrument or don’t want to look like a busker.
So, ‘The Divided Self’ was written on the fly, about the hassle of train travel – homeward bound, fun having been had, now I just wanted to get home. Delayed trains and ugly Sunday journeys, over-caffeinated fidgeting in confined spaces, your ears being force-fed other people’s opinions and grievances… Some days you can meet an array of fascinating people, but some journeys are just sheer panic room stuff… The chords are supposed to be tight and woven to encapsulate all of the above. I wrote the end of the song at home – that’s the part when the chords finally open up – I was home and could finally relax. Writing this way allowed me to create a live commentary of the experience. The title of the song is based on R.D. Laing’s book ‘The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness.’
Please describe your studio and your collection of instruments, and which is your favourite one?
My studio set-up is a ramshackle collection of gear! I have an old piano (in desperate need of tuning), an old 70’s electronic organ (bought from a charity shop) and an Art Luthrie acoustic guitar. I mainly use these for writing the songs, although they do creep into some of the recordings. I use a Tascam 4-track for recording the vocals, pianos and guitars, connected to an SE Electronics X1 Condenser Microphone, and fed through an Ultragrain tube pre-amp to try and give recordings that lovely warm analogue sound. This can slow the process down, as the tube needs an hour to warm up, but without it recordings can sound really thin. I also use a SE Reflexion filter chassis, which means I can generally record in any room of the house – it’s a magic bit of kit, absorbing all of the natural reflections of a room, giving really dry recordings. Dry recordings that can then be obliterated with effects processing later! I also recently purchased a Zoom H1 portable digital recorder with two condenser microphones, to improve the quality of my field recordings and found sounds. Our house is also full of kid’s instruments, toys, kitchen utensils and leisure equipment, and these can provide great sources of percussion sounds. The opening song on my new EP – “Poa Trivialis” – features recordings of me hitting golf balls as percussion.
My DAW of choice is the open source software Jeskola Buzz. It’s archaic, buggy and a total pain but it is perfect for what I do. I’ve tried other DAWs but always come back to Buzz. The main thing I like is that it doesn’t come with a map – each time I open it I take a different route. It’s a modular environment that can deal with all sorts of inputs, outputs and effects chains. It doesn’t cope too well with pre-sets, so most of my effect chains are built from scratch each time I start a new song. Again, this slows the process down but it really helps me reflect over what I am doing as I do it. Do I need to add this chain? Is there another way I haven’t tried? You also have to work with hexadecimal numbers, as it doesn’t understand denary! Once I get into a rhythm though, I get totally lost in the moment and hours can fly by. Recording live in Buzz is good fun too – the unstable nature of it can certainly lead to some interesting results… I recently did a live version of the first EP “Melancholic” for Bloop London Radio, which was very different from the original EP, full of interesting Buzz related accidents – happy accidents as Bob Ross from the ‘Joy of Painting’ would say.
Should Electronic Music be regarded as an Art form? What qualifies as good and bad art in music?
Personally, I think anything that someone has created or tells a story should be seen as art. This doesn’t mean we have to like it – art can and should be divisive. I can go to an art gallery and hate something, but still leave respecting the artist for taking the time to show their perspective of the world. When we’re gone it’s wonderful that we can leave something behind for others to discover, hopefully learning a bit about the brief interval in which we existed. As long as someone’s imagination has been provoked by some sort of catalyst – it could be an original idea or even a collage of existing ideas – if a song makes just one person think or it inspires them, I believe it is art.
How do you feel about ‘Club Culture’ in 2017 and the potential of music to inspire change?
In terms of music inspiring change… Music is often associated with historical change. Didn’t David Hasselhoff perform on top of a crumbled Berlin wall? A movement always needs an anthem, but my example is the “Hoff”, so I’m not a sure I know enough to answer this question properly? Interesting though… I will have to do some reading on this. I think music definitely has the power to change emotions. That was the aim of my latest series of EPs ‘The Eysenck Suite’.
Who are your most important influences?
I’m doing “An Evening With…” for Nemone on BBC 6Music at the end July to coincide with the release of ‘Sanguine’, the third EP from the series, where I’ve been asked to pick 3 songs for my perfect night out, but I’ve got a shortlist of 48 at the moment…. So, deciding who my main influences are is clearly very difficult! For now, I will cheat and look at my Last.fm account… It says my Top 10 artists from the last ten or so years are: Stumbleine, BOY, Nathan Fake, Boards of Canada, Jon Hopkins, James Holden, Sigur Ros, Ash, Nirvana and Maps. I’ve omitted one from this list, as its far too embarrassing! Maybe you can ask me about that one another time? I think I’ve used the word catalyst about three times during this interview… As long as I can find a catalyst (four times), I am inspired to be creative. Creative reagents? Does that sound better?
How have you found the process of running your own label: Loki Recordings. What do you look for when signing a track?
I enjoy running Loki Recordings – as an artist it means I can do ambitious vanity projects… However, after 2013’s ‘Nostalgia Story’ I’ve learnt the importance of having trusted friends cast a critical eye over my ideas. That album was a little out of control! (Note: it was a sprawling thirty-seven-song flood of inspiration that was recorded live in one take!) It’s always been nice to have artists I admire come to me and ask to do something for the label. People want to be part of it – which is great! Also, discovering new artists such as Norsu. The label’s first single ‘Ammas Mountain’ is an amazing song and I am so glad we released it.
The label was on hiatus for a while, but we are back up and running now. Luckily the community is still interested – there have been lots of “glad you are back” and “long-awaited” comments. I’ve been sent some very interesting recordings by Mig Dfoe – so hopefully we can release that project later this year. Running a label is a lot of work, but worth it, especially when songs you are responsible for releasing are picked up by DJs such as Nick Warren and James Holden.
Who is the man dancing on the video for the labels first compilation in 2012?
Hahahaha… Amazing question, you really have done your homework! So… I dragged my wife to Washington State, USA, back in 2011. I wanted to visit every ‘Twin Peaks’ filming location possible, and she is a very patient woman. During the opening credits a bird sits on a branch, and I had found the location of that branch – it was on Bainbridge Island. We stayed in a Native American casino near the branch, and our balcony overlooked a grass area with a stage on it. A jazz band were playing to a huge crowd, with everyone sat down, nodding. I noticed this elderly man in a tie-dye shirt (the man from the video), and his wife had a matching tie-dye shirt! They were amazing! They suddenly jumped up and just started dancing insanely at the front, not a care in the world. They were free spirits, unsuppressed and there to have fun. When I’m old, I hope I will be as audacious and uninhibited!
And finally please tell us about any forthcoming plans?
The second EP from the series, ‘The Eysenck Suite II – Choleric’ is out now. This will be followed by the ‘Sanguine’ and ‘Phlegmatic’ EPs in July and September 2017. Then… I’m already in the process of putting together a remix EP for the ‘The Eysenck Suite’, as there has been a lot of interest from artists wanting to reimagine the songs. I’ve also started work on a follow-up album, so mainly writing songs at the moment. I have a concept but there is a long way to go. I’m in no rush and it will happen when the time is right. Someone also recently asked if I’m planning on doing an anthology type release. I suppose I have been going eleven or so years and it is something I would consider, but not yet – maybe in a few more years.
Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty. How and where did you both meet and what inspired you to start making music together?
Mitchel is a longtime friend of Thijs’s brother Bram since they started DJ’ing together. Later on the two started producing together and through that the two of us got to know each other and felt a sweet spot for each other in our vision about making music.
Tell us the story behind your stunning new single: You Got To Try and how it was then created in the studio?
“You Got To Try” is created during a session with David Stolk. David is a friend of us who we work regularly with. He is an insanely creative and fun guy to hang around with and he has an impeccable knack for catchy hooks. We wrote it as a song, just from a chord progression on the piano. David transposed it and from then on it was ‘instant magic’. The basis of the song felt so good and special that the Paris Green production grew around it effortlessly.
Your music resonates with many influences. Could you tell us about some of them both within and outside of electronic music?
We hardly ever listen to electronic music when we’re working in the studio. We try to find our inspiration from very diverse corners. Mitchel has a sweet spot for hiphop and soul music, while Thijs has checked out a lot of modern and indie jazz. We’re exchanging a lot of music.
So we end up listening together to artists like Frank Ocean, Radiohead, Robert Glasper and Mark Schilders. In electronic music we really dig music from artists like Floating Points, Nathan Fake, Luke Abbott and Kowton. But we’re also checking out upcoming cats such as Henry Wu, Neinzer, Ploy and Simo Cell.
Outside of the musical inspirations there’s also a very strong visual aspect that resonates with our music. We’ve got a natural interest in art, design, architecture and fashion. Because just as music, it uses textures and expresses a certain period too. We love clean, spacious designs that fit to our music.
What is your favourite synthesizer? Do you own one?
We have our go-to virtual synthesizers, but recently we also are experimenting with hardware synths, such as modular synths like the Roland System 100m and some synths that Thijs owns. The one we’re getting the most heat out of lately is the Roland Alpha Juno-1.
How would you place the importance of musicianship and musicality in today’s Dance Music?
We can’t speak for everybody else but for us it’s everything, it’s definitely the fundament of our music and where we try to make a difference. Without it our music wouldn’t sound even close to what it sound like right now.
Can you tell us about how you got the tracks signed to Rebellion, and also the choice of Steve Bug to do the remixes?
I think it all started with Kölsch who played our track in his BBC 1 Residency. Maybe before that, when we spoke to George Fitzgerald at a festival in Amsterdam and asked if we could send him some music. He responded that he really liked “You Got To Try”. That’s when we started to believe in the track. But the BBC Radio 1 play is where we gained a lot of interests from all kinds of parties. It was a bit of a rollercoaster because suddenly you have to make decisions which affect our career in the long term and we have a tendency to overthink everything. From all the offers we got, Rebellion just felt right. And from that decision we also got the opportunity to get Steve to remix our track and to us it’s just insane to have him on board of our first release!
What influence does living in Amsterdam have on your making music? Do you have any favourite bars or clubs that you would like to recommend – past or present?
(Mitchel:) there’s just so much happening here, it’s a city of many faces. Depending on the evening, my favourite venue is the Paradiso. It’s a very unique place where artists like Kurt Cobain and James Brown performed.
This is probably the most geeky answer that I can give but I like to hang out in the public library. I love the space and that it’s really calm. Sorry.
(Thijs:) there are a lot of cool spots to visit in Amsterdam. Such as the jazz sessions at De Kring, new clubs like De School, Shelter and Claire. And way too many nice bars, record stores, museums and parks to mention just here.
What plans do you have for the rest of 2017 and into beyond?
We really have a huge pile of new music just from 2017.
We’re still working on new music almost every day of the week. There’s material for a new EP, but first we have to see how our first release will work out, before we make our next move.
We’re really eager and ambitious, but we also know that we’re just getting started. We’re just gonna have to look at it step by step and I think that’s a really clear and realistic view on the situation right now.
Hello and welcome along to Magazine Sixty Cari. Exciting news to hear that you are launching your own label: Precarious Records. Where did the idea for the name come from?
Thanks! I appreciate the opportunity to share! It’s been an excited and often exasperating adventure, but we’re finally set to launch, so fingers crossed! The name really came from a mixture of what it feels like to launch a record label and you can see my first name is in there, too.
The label’s first release is from Kiki, Smash TV & Cari Golden – Using The Music. Can you tell us about how the collaboration came together, and also about the message behind the lyrics?
A few years back I was in Berlin and spent some time in the studio with Kiki, so we’ve been friends for a long time. I also met Holger Zilske at Arena club after hearing some of his work and was blown away. We decided to try something and the song was originally very different, but it was never released. When I decided to do Precarious I asked them if I could release it, and they restyled it to what it is now, which I think is wicked. The lyrics are really just a swirl of using/abusing the music…morphing back and forth…sometimes not knowing which one is being said. I feel like music can be like that, and of course the music uses you, too…
Who has inspired your singing most – both within and outside of electronic music?
That’s a really interesting question, and it changes a lot, to be honest. The voices I love the most in any genre are the ones that sound true, not affected. I’m a vocal coach in Los Angeles, as well, so I spend a lot of time getting people to find their vocal “center”, so gimmicky things have a tendency of putting me off a bit. My list of favorites is so long, but a few are Roisin Murphy, K.D. Lang, Sarah Vaughan, Marilyn Horne….that’s a pretty diverse cross section of genres.
How do you feel about the importance placed upon songs in today’s Dance Music as opposed, to say, Disco or 1960’s R&B?
I do know that classic song structure is really starting to come back. More and more people I collaborate with are doing radio edits, and song lengths are getting shorter in some genres I work in, which is consistent with rise in popularity of this kind of music. I get a lot more inquiries from music supervisors, as well, which is a huge clue about what the culture is feeling about it, and I think is really promising. I feel like it’s definitely time for a larger audience to have some exposure to music that has a bit more refinement and subtlety. As far as equating it with Disco or R&B, I’m not sure if you can, at least in a blanket sense. There are elements of all types of music within dance music, but dance music is so diverse that I can’t really say it follows a particularly narrow formula.
Love the artwork for the label. Can you tell us about who has created it and why the images are obviously such an important part of the labels identity?
The artwork representing the brand on social media was created by my good friend and Los Angeles based animator August Hall. The release artwork is a funny story. I’m launching this label with the idea of “lean and mean.” I’ve explored a lot of things, but in the end, I really wanted to represent Los Angeles in the artwork. The artwork for Using The Music is actually a photograph of the side of a dumpster in North Hollywood. No kidding. All of the art is publicly available in Los Angeles. I highly recommend if anyone lives here or visits, to take a day and just visit the street art. It’s amazing.
Do you feel politics and Dance Music mix? Should there be more or less of them in music?
To me, music is a platform for whatever you want to say. Go deep, keep it shallow, it’s up to the artist. I don’t shy away from any subject myself, but usually I come from a philosophical standpoint politically and not a literal one. I do know music has the power to shape culture and to change minds. We’re definitely in a “precarious” time politically, and artists are usually empathic, albeit strong minded people, so there is a responsibility to use this time to voice what we’re seeing and what effect it’s having.
How do you ideally like to record your voice? And do you have a favourite microphone you use?
I use an Audio Technica 4013. I’ve had it for years. Again, I keep it lean and mean. Honestly, I’m not a gear head at all, but if Neumann wanted to sponsor me I wouldn’t be pissed.
What do you look for when signing a track to the label? What advice would you give to someone thinking of sending you one?
I am definitely seeking new work always. I look for things that are classy and a bit off the beaten path. I’d love to hear some more jazz elements and analog elements in demos that I receive, but definitely in the techno, deep tech, deep house wheelhouse.
And finally what are your forthcoming plans for the rest of the year? After launching this label?
A vacation. Just kidding. I feel like I’ll be up to my eyeballs in conquering this learning curve, which is exciting and exhausting. So, more music, and I’ll probably start throwing events here in LA again. Not much time for a vacation…