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…
Hello and welcome to magazine Sixty Dean. Your label: Dazed & Confused is celebrating four years in existence. How would you describe the highs and lows of running a label in today’s environment?
Hi Greg, thanks for the opportunity, yes Dazed & Confused Records is now celebrating 4 years of existence, exactly on the 29th April were we will have our own label party in Malta. I started the label back when I was living in Berlin and the idea was to have an output for my music and music from artist that I liked, which didn’t have any labelling and just had great ideas to put out. From then on it just kept developing into having an office and a team in Malta, showcasing our artists through events and now pressing vinyl for the first time, this will be for the Summer Blue release. I feel very lucky to have gotten so far.
Congratulations also on your great new release for Tenampa Recordings: Tabula Rasa EP. Can you talk us through how you produced one of the tracks from the EP, including any favourite pieces of software/ hardware that you like to use?
Thank you for the compliment and also for having the premier. The Ep was done through a special moment in my life, it was the moment when i decided to go back home to Malta, hence Tabula Rasa which amongst many meanings it also means a clean slate. Along these years I have been traveling quite a lot so it was important for me to have a mobile studio.
Since some years now I have been using the Maschine for my beats, it has made my life much easier. Some months ago I also got a Roland JD Xi synth which I used for my main synth sounds. I really love the raw sound it produces.
What is the electronic music culture like on Malta? Any favourite bars/ clubs you would recommend?
The scene in Malta is a small but lively one, I call Malta a holiday Island so parties and good life are a big part of our culture. The electronic scene is getting more professional and varied by time and people are getting into the music culture day by day. As a holiday island there are a lot of tourists that come by and that helps influence the scene a lot.
At the moment we are running a monthly event at Ryan’s pub which has been a landmark for music enthusiasts. There are a lot of cool places to go actually!
Tell us about your working relationship with Lee Van Dowski and which tracks produced together are you most proud of?
Working with Lee was very stimulating and a pleasure as a friend and a colleague, we spent over 2 years working in the studio together, day in day out. We both learned from our strengths and combined them to get the best possible outcome. We had many highlights but the ones I’m proud of are the mobilee releases, it was a very big achievement for me personally.
What are your main influences both within and outside of electronic music?
I like to live a normal life as much as possible, so my influences are coming from everyday sounds and situations. As time passes i’m getting more and more selective of my music and releasing music which mean something to me and transports me into a particular moment.
Recently I started doing Dj sets, as of before I was just doing live shows for years. I believe that this triggered something different in the way I think and produce, so I feel I’m constantly evolving.
Where are you looking forward to playing over the coming months? And tell us about your plans for the rest of 2017?
Over the coming months I’m really excited to play in a festival in Brno (CZ) called Spilberk Open Air. We will be having Hosh a special guest along the team. Apart from this I’m also excited to play in Berlin at Kosmonaut on the 5th August along the Inmates team and another one in Malta alongside my old friends Pig&Dan.
2017 has already offered me and a lot and I really look forward to keep on developing both the label and plans and my personal career.
Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty Ben. Your striking new single: Reaching is out on Get Physical. Can you tell us about where the inspiration came from for the unique blend of sounds which informs the music?
The initial melody for Reaching came from my playing the piano in between periods of working on another track. I was playing the rising tones and developed it into a chord progression, which quickly sounded complete as an idea. Coming away from it, I developed a clear impression of the overall sound in my mind, so the sound creation really came from subconsciously thinking about the tones and movement and how well I could translate that to the recording. My acoustic piano sound remained in the recording until quite late, but I felt it too cold so I eventually replaced it with my Roland electric piano for a warmer touch.
Your distinctive, original style touches upon various influences. Could you talk us through what inspires you both within and outside of electronic music?
The most influential era of techno music for developing my production was during the more minimal years of the late noughties. It gave me an appreciation of hearing the individual textures of sounds and how the spaces between beats could enhance the groove. As far as other forms of electronic music are concerned, I’m heavily influenced by the intricacies and almost tangible qualities of glitch and the tension and harmonics of ambient. There’s no restriction to the many styles of electronic music that could inspire me though, especially if it offers a fresh perspective. For example, the Autonomic half step sound from Exit Records was a great source of enlightenment for me. I’m a lover of film music, which inspires a new project that I’m working on called Non Faction. It is an instrumental and electronic music project focussed on incidental compositions interesting soundscapes and rhythms, with vocal / instrumental collaborators.
How important is musicality and innovation in what you do? Do you think some of today’s ‘Dance Music’ is missing something, or do you think that music and club culture are evolving in a positive way?
Innovation for me is the most important aspect of the arts in general. The artists who have been the biggest influences for me have been massive innovators in their field, so that’s what’s worth aspiring to in the long run. Musicality is both knowledge and innate understanding of music, so I think covers all good artists and their material. I think with a traditional view of musicality, it falls short of explaining what current music and musician’s offers. For example, an artist’s ability to compile and engineer soundscapes or when they can build a beat with an attitude that it’s almost a character. These elements are musicality too. In a more traditional view, music theory and instrument performance inform a lot of the music I write, but they’re not necessary to everything. To mention, I feel the studio can be considered an instrument in its own right.
It would be great to see more variety at individual club nights. Gone are the days of the chill out rooms and I’d love to see something like that return or combinations of different scenes that may surprise you. That’s more about the culture than the music though. I feel all forms of dance music that were created before exist in some form today, it’s just very compartmentalised.
Can you tell us about the process of choosing the music and how you approached doing the mix for your forthcoming compilation for Get Physical (which Reaching has been taken from)?
Get Physical asked me to include artists with strong links to Ibiza and openly said that the sound of the compilation could cover anything from sunset through the morning, to reflect the true spirit of Ibiza. I reached out to artists I really respect in terms of their production who I knew were resident or were residents at nights / venues here – for example, Nima Gorji resident at Underground, Alex Kennon from Insane / Mosaic at Pacha, Frank Storm from Unusual Suspects, Eder Alvarez & Joey Daniel from Ibiza Talents / Bora Bora and Music On respectively, Clara Brea from Heart and System Of Survival, Audiohell, Tania Vulcano & Jose De Divina from DC10. It was important for me that the compilation also represented my own style and was true to my own personal tastes, as well as being in line with Get Physical’s label sound. The compilation includes some of my own brand new productions (a solo track “Reaching” and also a collaboration with Spanish producer Enzo Leep, “Cosmos Excerpt”), and I also worked on new edits for Tantsui and System Of Survival – both on a deeper, more downtempo vibe for the compilation’s opening. Every track on the compilation is previously unreleased and completely exclusive.
Radio almost seems like an old-fashioned idea in the digital world but its importance in communicating music has not diminished. How do you feel radio functions in 2017 and please tell us about your weekly “We Are Night People” which is broadcast globally on both Ibiza Sonica and Pioneer DJ Radio?
When I was young, I never used to listen to the radio. In fact, the idea of me being a radio host would have been very alien to a young me. But that is mainly because radio stations that were available did not present the music I was looking for at that time. Since then, we’ve had expanses of radio stations added with DAB and now internet radio, so it caters for more individual tastes. I listen to more radio now than ever before and that’s because of the variety of music available to stream and I can listen to Sonica in the car. We Are Night People is my weekly radio show to present the music and artists that I’m following and listening to. It’s focussed on club music with my preference of minimal grooves, deep selections and quality underground productions. I have regular guests that coincide with the music I play and I feel the show has built a solid style and family over the last 3 years. On a personal level, I’ve made many friends and collaboration partners through my contact with artists for the show.
Your studio looks amazing. How long did it take to get it to where you wanted it to be?
Thank you! I used to dream about having an amazing studio for many years until recently, despite building my setup for nearly 20 years. With the latest additions of Dynaudio B15a speakers, the awesome looking Artnovion acoustic treatments and Ableton I can say I’m now happy with the setup and I don’t have those dreams any more. I bought my first (Roland JX-305) synth at 14 and it’s been a gradual expansion since then. I’m super happy with it, but doesn’t stop me looking at the Dave Smith Prophet 12!
Do you have a favourite instrument? Do you own one?
Most of my tonal ideas start with the Synthogy Ivory II piano. The piano is my favourite instrument and it can provide insight for all styles and rhythmic and harmonic aspects. When my girlfriend and I designed our house, we kept a space for a grand piano, but we haven’t got it yet!
What are your plans for the remainder of the year plus for the next?
Much time will be spent working on more original, remix and collaboration projects with the awesome Enzo Leep, Iori Wakasa and others, with releases planned through the year. I’ll hopefully catch some good time to work on more Non Faction music too. I’ll be busy in the summer with various parties in Ibiza with the likes of Ibiza Sonica, Others, and Unusual Suspects, as well as the occasional sunset set which I love to do. I recently played Nicole Moudaber’s MoodDAY party in Miami, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to do more with Nicole. There’s of course my weekly radio show and the very important task of spending time on the beach!
Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty Davina. Tell us about where the inspiration came from for your new single for Hot Creations: Oh Mama?
Hi ! Thank you for asking. The inspiration came from attending last summer’s Ibiza season. After listening to so many different styles of music and watching countless amazing artists perform, I decided to make something special for the upcoming season.
Can you talk us through how you produced the track, including any favourite things you like to use in production?
I made this track in my studio in Ibiza using lots of internal plugs and I recorded my friend Isabelle in there, using her vocals on top of a melody I had composed for her. I was really excited as I’d gotten a brand new microphone u87 from Neumann and was eager to use for the first time in my studio.
‘Oh Mama’ features the emotive vocals of Issa Elle. How did you get to know her and ask about doing the vocal?
I’ve known Isabelle from quite a long time. She sang on my first album back in the days, in 2003 precisely. We stayed friends throughout the years; and when she told me she was coming to Ibiza for a few days during the season I immediately felt the need to include her back in my music. I’ve always loved her vocals and magical ideas.
What importance would you place on vocals/ song writing in Dance music today?
Well it all depends on the kind of dance music you write. If it’s like a fully commercial song or a pop piece, where the vocals are the main instrument, then by definition they are totally necessary. In underground music, there aren’t usually so much vocals, though once more it all depends on your tastes and inspiration of the day. Maybe the vocals in underground tech house tracks could become the main instrument as well!
Can you tell us about your background and which DJ’s/ Clubs inspired you to become a DJ/ Producer?
I started to make music in 2000 and made about 11 albums and a bit more than 350 tracks under different names. It was a totally different genre of music back then. What I am making now is inspired by Ibiza and all the people you meet there throughout the year. Everybody is an artist here, almost everyone is a DJ, and we are lucky to have a huge range of top artists coming over here, and who inspire you to produce music. I can proudly say that Jamie Jones and the Paradise parties have had a big influence on me since day 1.
What inspires you outside of the world of House and Techno?
Everything inspires me. From a water drop falling into a river to the sound of the wind. I used to be a dance and sports teacher so any good rhythm actually does the job and makes me wanna dance and re-create the beautiful sounds I listen to all day thanks to Mother Earth.
Do politics and Dance Music mix? What do you feel are the politics of Club Culture at the moment?
Well for me they don’t …. In my opinion they are as starkly opposed as the Yin and The Yang .
Love the cover art for Oh Mama. Can you tell us where it came from?
I love it as well. It’s by Mikey Brain, the Hot Creations illustrator based in London. He listened to my music and offered a few ideas but the both of us fell in love with the actual cover. It was just obvious that it would perfectly fit.
Can you tell us about Hola Sundays! And how is life on Ibiza this year?
Hola Sundays is the weekly Sunday winter social party organized by the magazine Fiesta and Bullshit. It takes place every Sunday at Ocean Drive in Ibiza. It’s a really friendly environment where we play and live stream it for our friends around the world. Life in Ibiza … This year has so far been very much like last year, just truly amazing !
Your new single: Grace’s Secret/ Skies Are Crying is due out in May on Manual Music. What is the inspiration behind the titles?
The track name for ‘Skies Are Crying’ is based on my experience on a flight I took to Berlin last summer. When the plane took off it rained pretty hard, so in a literal sense it felt as though the sky was crying and it was a strangely beautiful sight. When I came home I took this as inspiration to finish the track and so named it after this experience. The other track, ‘Grace’s Secret’ doesn’t quite have the same sort of thoughtful story behind its name. It’s named after a racehorse in the Peaky Blinders TV series!
Can you talk us through how you produced one of the tracks, including any favourite pieces of studio gear you like to use?
I really like to use my guitar, because playing on the guitar always calms me down and the combining of electronic parts with acoustic elements is one I really enjoy. It can lead to some very interesting and unexpected results! Also, I like to record all kinds of common sounds and noises in everyday life. Everything can be used in music and I really like the versatility of things. In terms of favourite pieces of electronic kit, I’m very impressed by the Roland TR-8 – it’s such a nice machine, especially for its cost! I really love that piece of equipment.
How did you become involved with Paul Hazendonk’s Manual Music?
When I released my first tracks on Eelke Kleijn’s Outside the Box Music label, he advised me to spread my releases on different labels and introduced me to Paul. From that moment we have had a really good thing going on. Paul is a cool and friendly guy, realistic and knows what he is doing. Therefore I wanted to release my album on Manual (‘Grace’s Secret’/ ‘Skies Are Crying’ is a first taste of what’s to come) because it feels trusted and natural to do it on his label.
You played guitar in a Punk band before immersing yourself in Electronic music. What ideas/attitude did you bring from Punk into Dance music?
Probably the attitude of being really, really stubborn and not willing to let go of your ‘own thing’. Besides that I also like to use a lot of distortion, something that is also really common in the punk scene. But the most important thing, I guess, is the no-nonsense attitude, just being myself and enjoying making music, like it or not.
What DJ’s/ Clubs first inspired you?
The list is endless, but to name just a few… Awakenings Festival was the first Techno festival I went to and it had such a big influence on me. Before that day I actually didn’t like electronic music that much. At least that was what I thought! The atmosphere, so many friendly people, and interesting and complex music made me want to be a part of this straight away. After that day I bought my first turntables and learned how to make music – that was 10 years ago and I still have that same passion and enthusiasm I had back then.
If I mention musicians that have inspired me, I always have to name Extrawelt and Dominik Eulberg in my list. Their sound is still the ultimate for me and I was so proud that I could make a release on Traum, just like these guys. Right at this moment I’m also really liking guys like Ame & Dixon. That’s maybe not a very surprising or original answer but, everywhere these guys play, it’s always so good and I’m really impressed by that. But there are so many very good artists at the moment, I could fill a whole page telling you about what DJs I would recommend that you should listen too.
What can we expect from your debut artist album ‘Figments Of My Imagination’? And how long did it take to put together?
This album is a translation of the last three years of my life. So the good things I experienced, the bad things, the pain I felt, the highs, the lows… So I think it incorporates a very versatile character. For example, the track ‘Standing On My Feet’ is about the infection I had in my foot. The doctors were fearful that I would lose a couple of toes or a part of my foot, but after being in the hospital for a month and then 3 months of antibiotics, the infection was gone and I could keep my foot. Thank god! But the pain and despair I felt at that moment is very easy to recognize in that track in my opinion. Then, on the other hand, a track like ‘You Put A Smile On My Face’ is about a girl I met and who made me very happy at that time…
How is life in Breda? What clubs/bars would you recommend?
Things there a really quiet and burgundy… The scene in Breda is in upswing with some nice projects such as Ploegendienst and Broeikas. For the more known parties, such as DGTL and Awakenings, you have to make the one-hour trip to Amsterdam and its surroundings.
Please tell us about your forthcoming tour of Holland? Plus any other plans for 2017?
For this moment we have three shows planned in Amsterdam, Breda and Groningen, and I hope to do a little private party with a live stream of the show. Maybe we will add some other cities to the tour, but at the moment this is it. Further plans I have for 2017 or the distant future are setting up a label. My brother and I are playing with the idea of starting an electronic music label and are exploring the possibilities right now. It’s still in its infancy but we are working on it.
Hello Gabriel and welcome to Magazine Sixty. Your label Tenampa Recordings has just released Dean Demanuele’s Tabula Rasa EP – which we had the honour of premiering recently. Tell us the story of how you came to sign the record?
Hey Greg, thank you.
Been a fan of Dean’s music since way back and got the opportunity to work with him a couple of years ago. We’ve released one of his EP’s (Blumen) back in 2015. Since then, we have been speaking regularly and have become friends. Thus far (with his latest Tabula Rasa EP) we’ve released 3 of his excellent EP’s. So we can proudly say Dean is part of the Tenampa family.
What are the plus and minus points of running a record label in 2017? And how do you predict things will go into the future for labels and generating revenue with the popularity of streaming etc?
The future of the music industry is obviously going towards the streaming platforms such as Spotify and Youtube. How will this turn out for Dj’s, not sure, yet…
As far as the plus points of running a label… For me, is having access to lots of quality music and to be able to work with artists that I admire. Not sure if there’s a minus… may be only to have to deal with a ton of mail!
What do you look for when signing a record?
It’s very simple, if I like it, I’ll sign it. We don’t necessary look for a specific genre on the label. The way I like the music to sound is deep, hypnotic and dark, if it has any of these 3 elements and I like it, I will sign it.
Well, I grew up listening to Proton Radio, so I hope my music thru this website can inspire people like I was.
Who designs the fabulous artwork for the sleeves and for the website?
This is done by one of my best friends from my home town and amazing artist: Xavier Fajardo. He’s the art director of Tenampa since day one and responsible for part of the success of the label.
Who designs the fabulous artwork for the sleeves and for the website?
This is done by one of my best friends from my home town and amazing artist: Xavier Fajardo. He’s the art director of Tenampa since day one and responsible for part of the success of the label.
How would you describe your studio set-up? What is your favourite piece of software/ hardware?
The piece of hardware that I like to use the most is my small Moog Minitaur for bass lines. It’s very easy to use, just select a preset, tweak it a bit and that’s it, sounding big and solid.
Who are your main influences, both within and outside of Electronic music?
My dad used to listen to Pink Floyd so I pretty much grew up listening to that kind of sound. Really like music to be progressive and soulful.
On the Electronic music side, my influences at first were the local Dj’s from my home town in Juarez, MX. To whom I used to listen until late time on the radio when I was 11/12. After that my biggest influence as a Dj has been John Digweed. I learned how to sequence and program my sets by listening to him.
What are your plans for 2017 and into beyond?
Plans for this year are a tour on Europe in July. Playing on Amsterdam, Berlin, Greece and Italy thus far. More dates to be confirmed…
And another tour by late 2017 on Asia. Also have music coming up on my label Tenampa with a Remix by Kiki. And also doing a Remix for Kling Klong Records so stay tuned for that 😉