An outstanding piece of music. That not only captures the joy of life but also marks Universal Children’s Day 2018 as Gruuv celebrates the date alongside UNICEF. The notes are as important as the message delivered by the tongue of Lazarusman who, as words progress, paints a positive picture of inspiration for young and old. Musically the Lucid Version smoulders eloquently with treated piano chords feeling poignant as rolling percussion propels the movement and thought forward. A Vivid Version compliments reworking the elements, while remixes come from Tiefschwarz who injects more energy into the arrangement, plus there’s an excellent Audiojack mix who likewise add more power to the drums while teasing out the tension to almost nine minutes of ecstasy.
Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty, James. There’s a great picture of you holding a copy of your latest release: So Long (Crosstown Rebels) outside of Phonica Records. How did it feel to have in your hands your first release on vinyl and why for you has the format remained such a potent force?
Hi. Thanks for having me. That was a very special moment for me. Not necessarily because it’s a ‘vinyl’, I’m not a purist in any way and I embrace all formats. It was more the fact that when I started DJing as teenager, I went to record stores to buy music. The guys making those records were heroes to me and inspired me to start making music. To walk into a shop like Phonica and buy my own record bought all those memories back and that was a really nice feeling.
Pete Tong recently premiered the Solomun remix of ‘So Long’. Can you tell us about how the choices for the remixers where made: Solomun and Audiojack?
That was all down to Damian Lazarus. He’s an A&R guru! From FFRR to City Rockers, and now celebrating a landmark 15 years of Crosstown Rebels, he has created such an iconic brand through his musical vision. When I first sent him the original for ‘So Long’, he was very excited by it. That prompted him to invite the likes of Solomun and Audiojack to add their take and the EP took it’s form.
And what is it about Pete Tong which has made him such an influential voice on radio for the past three decades?
Well if there was a definitive answer to that then there would be hundred’s of ‘Pete Tong’s’. Who knows? It probably has something to do with the fact that he’s been able to pioneer underground music on a commercial stage, giving a platform to young up and coming artists as well as showcasing the industries most accomplished acts. I think that’s where the longevity comes from.
Can you talk us through how you created So Long. Where the initial ideas came from and how you then produced them as music, your decision on creating a song rather than an instrumental, plus working with Jem Cooke again who delivers such a smouldering vocal.
The initial idea was a to create a track that would work in a club but also translate to something you could add to a playlist and listen to in the car or at work. The track went through many versions. When I sent it to Jem it sounded completely different. Some of the elements were there but it was a different track. When she sent it back to me I loved what she had done but realized the track needed to change to really combine with the vocals. I had another few days on it and the lead pad that comes in from the start pushed forward into the mix, setting the tone for the arrangement. It’s always a pleasure to work with Jem. She’s a pro, and she’s from Twickenham where I grew up.
Who are your main influences both within and outside of electronic music? Any particular artists, painters, writers etc that you like to refer to for inspiration?
I don’t have one in particular. I’m influenced by all sorts of sounds and music. Sometimes it’s house, sometimes it’s rock, hip-hop or electronica. I try to keep my ears open all the time for inspiration. It really can come from anywhere. Then I take those inspirations and try to interpret them in my own way.
How have sounds evolved for you in Dance Music since you started producing. Do you think it is important for the music to keep moving forward rather than revisit the past too much for inspiration?
Music is always changing. It has to otherwise it gets boring. I’m not a huge fan of remixes of classics from years gone by. I think a classic is a classic because it emerged at the right time in the right place. It’s very rare to find a remix that delivers the same emotions as the original, probably because that original conjures up memories of good times. On the other hand, having a good knowledge of what has shaped the scene before you is vital. I like to hear sounds being recycled and reinvented in a new way. If you can combine that with your own unique sound then that, for me, is very exciting.
You have a busy touring schedule as a DJ too. How have you found time on the road? Have you read The Secret DJ?
No I haven’t read that yet but I have been meaning to. I have traveled and toured as a DJ to places like Ibiza, Australia and Asia as well as around the UK, but not to the extent that I would like. Hopefully with continued dedication and a bit of luck that will come, but managing to fit everything else in is hard. You have to be dedicated and also have a good balance between work life and downtime with family and friends.
Can you talk us through your studio set-up? And tell us about any particular favourite piece of software/ hardware you like best?
My studio set up is quite simple. I’m not a huge tech-head. I like to mix organic natural sounds with analogue synthetic elements and I have found Omnisphere to be perfect for that. I like to use U-he Diva as my main synth. I think it’s better to master one or 2 instruments at a time than to fill your hard drive with hundreds of plug-ins that you don’t know how to use. I’m a big fan of the Fabfilter pro bundle. I’m getting great results using their EQ and compressor on my group busses to add an extra punch during the mixing process. Last year I upgrade my monitors to EVE SC207’s and they are really fun to work on whilst staying transparent. I haven’t ventured into the world of hardware much but I have just bought the Moog Sub 37 and can’t wait to get stuck into it.
And finally. What are your plans for the remainder of the year?
To keep making music as much as I can. I have signed an EP to Audiojack’s label Gruuv Records which I have been a fan of for years. The lead track featureds my good friend Penny Foster who I have worked with many times before. I’m working on a collaboration with Habischman, who’s music I really respect. I also have another EP for Crosstown Rebels on the go which is a work in progress but we’re getting there. ☺
Behind schedule. But bang on time. I’m reviewing this latest gem from youANDme post release simply because life doesn’t always allow for being precise. Though never mind that, it sounds as vibrant last week as it does this and will no doubt continue to do so ad infinitum. Stare at the artwork. Does it remind you of anyone? Or is that just me. Raw, loose fitting drums add fuel to the fire as throbbing bass plus gritty stabs ignite what is essentially first- rate, audibly fiery House Music on Common. Audiojack supply the remix which feels that bit more energised reworking the elements into a differing and very satisfying conclusion. Meanwhile, Orange Loop sees Heidi enter the frame as tough edged rhythms are underpinned by tribal flavoured beats plus suitably atmospheric keys, again adding grit and grain to the sequential electronics.
Label head Danny Daze begins the Omnidisc Swim Series with this release from amazing French producer, Sebastien Bouchet. And happy to say it’s rather excellent. Take ‘Sailor’ which begins the EP in earnest with the sort of unfussy groove that proves to be hyper funky as uncomplicated, sassy percussion and bass notes produce magic in succession. Next, Jeff Goes Riot again hits you with heavy-duty basslines this time over nagging synth lines as ice-cool vocals feed off occasional warm chords. Etna, then feels fused with electricity as soaring synthesizers prove bright and seductively breezy over commanding electro beats. The atmospherically charged Pacific Seb ends on moodier notes which are by no means any less rewarding on what has to be said again is an excellent EP. Next please.
By way of an explanation: ‘Slow Futur features two jugglers (Elsa Guérin and Martin Palisse) on a treadmill (8 x 2m) which carries them along a neon light installation which delimits the choreographic space as a kind of space-time tunnel: the hyperspace.’ Lifted from the performance of the same name are these four tracks from Zombie Zombie aka Cosmic Neman, Etienne Jaumet, Dr Schonberg which not only highlights the labels inquisitive nature but also the musician’s creative impulses. Hyperespace, starts the exploration with organic feeling machines producing an enthralling blur of sounds accompanied by the demanding beat of drums. The excellent, futuristic strains of Extra Life proceed via pumped-up rhythms next, while the title track then eases down into a different trance. Finally, the brilliant Blue Screen ventures into ambient territory albeit a darker one with haunting sights and sounds completing a great release.
Richard Burkinshaw and Jamies Rial aka Audiojack deliver this creatively intense set of three productions for their long standing residence at 2020. Which thankfully for us sees the duo in a more playful mood with the mind expanding Fluent opening proceedings via a pulsating, uber-cool funkiness which is not only thinking forward but very definitely hypnotic in the process. Stutter, then tears at the envelope with more energy injected into its insistent hi-hats, accompanying syncopated bassline plus off the wall vocal edits. Leaving the aptly titled Vowels to continue the theme by twisted the French language around darker flavoured drums and their sparse arrangement to produce yet another intriguing sequence of ideas.
Gramme’s long overdue but most welcome debut album sounds more than exciting in 2013 than it could have done at any time in the past. Because just like everything else takes its cues from historical influences which in this case range from the genius of ESG to Liquid Liquid etc – i.e. Gramme live in inspired company! But moving beyond easy comparisons, and from their initial EP released way back in 1999, this collection of spiky Punk-Funk and interesting soundscapes is also an edgy blend of razor sharp vocals and hot danceable grooves. Try the heavy percussion of Rough News or indeed the punchy Acid of Laugh Out Loud for potential starters. However the Factory referencing rhythms exist far outside of Manchester’s winter grey and are broadcast via the colourful imagination of Tim “Love” Lee’s NYC record label Tummy Touch. Check the videos for the very excellent ‘Girls Talk’ & ‘Too High’ below and get animated.
Initially only released in 2011 through his website GFI Music this collection of smoky grooves now gets a full vinyl outing. Nail aka Neil “Nail” Tolliday is perhaps best known as one half of Bent, however this evocative blend of all and sundry feels just as delightfully imaginative as much as it does tough and raw-edged. Kicking off is the superb Bad Drainage with its stunning chords and liquid bassline proving that this is music to get lost in and/ or move too if you so desire. Never falling easily into any one category, which is certainly part of the enviable charm, this hints at funk on the closing Blueberry Pill while journeying through the gritty Dub of Fucked Off along the way. Beats Per Minute….
Don’t Do That EP
Something Different Records
Keeping up the pressure from Something Different is Junior Gee’s latest title. Put simply Don’t Do That is devastating heavy-duty House music that again sees the label move in a more exciting direction. Powered by a hypnotic drum loop and insistent hi-hats this comprises of a peculiar amalgamation of sounds that sit somewhere between clocks and piano, but which result in this notably original production. Stop and Spin delivers yet more of those pounding grooves, leaving the more topical This Society to play out with jazzy snares, dark messages and strange notation. Excellent.
It’s always refreshing to hear melody adding colour to music and with the first release of the new year from Audiojack’s Gruuv imprint that’s exactly what happens. Emotive, breathy vocals adorn the original version of this in style as bass punctuated rhythms succeed in giving it all a frisky edge. Remixes come from Chris James aka Coat Of Arms who treats the voice to a sizzling variety of pulsating electro beats and deep keys. Plus from X-Press 2 whose version applies tribal flavour to the drums backed up by weird and wonderful synths creating a defining edge. Next, is Tom Budden’s own production Falling which sees chiming basslines offset by funky handclaps that you just know are going to sound absolutely huge on the right sound system. OOFT! supply the remix with classic Chicago/ Detroit influences sounding every bit as big as that suggests.
Italian producer / DJ Tony Barbato sets the clock back to 1961 to relay his message about war and cash, which is no doubt a timely one from then to now. Although, perhaps the breezy combination of melody and music, albeit with a taught funky backing, lend themselves better to sunshine listening rather than such serious subject matter. Jazzanova/ Sonar Kollekitv stalwart Alex Barck then rearranges the sentiments to give the vocal more depth of feeling while adding a contemporary twist to the production via tense percussion and moody synths . Last but certainly not least is Patrick Podage’s excellent remix with its deliciously in-vogue bassline coupled with undulating electronics that award the edgy selection of treated words a heavy impact.
Classic through the eyes of: Severino
The Classic Music Company
For one of the most emotive intros around please press play. Nail’s 1997 classic ‘Time For Change’ opens with timely piano notes and warm pads to set the soulful scene on what then soon alters to something altogether darker, deeper: LIT ‘Brown Dwarf’ (Hyena Stomp Red Giant Mix). Not a problem of course as the music proceeds to traverse the full scope of House taking in everyone from Robbie Hardkiss to Rob Mello, while winding up at Brett Johnson’s extremely sublime ‘Slow Down Baby’ (Severino Remix 2012) – yet another album exclusive. As you’d expect from the label the music doesn’t easily slip into any particular cliché, which along with the diverse nature of Severino Panzetta’s stellar selection only lends the album its unique strength. Recommended.
Odd Parents & Maceo Plex
This Odd Parents and Maceo Plex combination does of course hit all the right buttons when it comes to hard-hitting House music, twisting together computer-funk rhythms from one extreme to another. The obscure nod to melody, introduced towards the end, comes via a sinister sounding vocal loop which lets the acid synthesizers sizzle away underneath while feeling never less than funky. Mark E supplies two versions with his ‘Remix’ giving it a spacey mood, plus the stunning ‘Future Doom Remix’ which delves deep into classic keyboard sounds over the course ten minutes, and has that rare quality of transporting you somewhere else entirely via the use of sound alone.
Francesca Lombardo’s effervescent journey into sound is nothing if not completely captivating, relying upon strange evocations and weird twists of fate. Eyes, is an amazing piece of music that stands well apart from most other releases that you will hear in the coming months, not least of all because it speaks its own language in terms of originality and use of instrumentation. It crosses acid rhythms along with dark pads, invigorating beats and the occasional vocal treatment speaking in volumes. Wander and Wonder, featuring Julien Riachi’s delicious voice then adds a funkier edge to the array of pulsating sounds, and again locks you into another excellent production. When words are not enough…
No Equal Sides is one of those knowingly satisfying tracks which are tailor made for the dancefloor. It’s a simple enough premise but a devastatingly effective one none-the-less as deep, pulsating bass builds over reviving keys and shuffling beats to induce the desired effect. What more can be said: this works! Next, Tunnel Vision begins with sci-fi electronics but then develops into an unexpected, and very impressive vocal cut which you will find yourself returning too repeatedly. Dished out over smoky, broken beats and reversed chords these spoken words are direct enough to offset the spine-tingling atmosphere created by the music. In Principle, finishes by again playing with shuffled rhythms, although this time aided by moodier stabs and techno bass that sit strangely somehow in-between jazz and funk.
feat. Art Department
Our Time In Liberty
What else needs to be said of Jamie Jones meteoric rise? Nothing, apart from that you need to listen to this. Powered by dark, brooding stabs this pulls no punches whatsoever combining not only a sense of urgency via Kenny Glasgow’s hot vocal: I Know It’s The time, but also by a devastating succession of deep, pulsating beats and rumbling basslines which make it feel never less than anthemic. In one word then: HUGE. Russ Yallop continues the prediction by running the classic chord progression over yet more outstanding atmospheres, which only serve to enhance the experience still further. In other words: equally HUGE. 9
Great release from Audiojacks’ Gruuv Records however I’ll try to spare you the references as the first track is called, 92. Of course it’s time related but who cares – that much – as this has a funky JB snare break sounding irresistible over fuzzy pads and timely voices. Uplifting, and yet very tastefully deep. Pol_On provides the Edit with an impressive alternative take on the bass plus thumping toms coupled with inspired cinematic strings, and with such an unhinged arrangement this can really only be described as excellent. Next is the fiery, Mia which lifts the tempo and atmosphere while hitting more 90’s notes in the course of refocusing your memory to youthful times – see jealous. Rodriguez Jr. provides exemplary remixes that only heighten the dancefloor appeal with excellent percussion fuelled by big-time keys and MK styled vocals. Perfect. 9
Alex Jones and Ste Roberts (also of Hypercolour) along with Dave Elkabas have formed the Initials imprint and the deceptive, The Art Of Doing Nothing is their second release. Jay Bliss, having previously released on Bang Bang and Dynamic, gets straight down to business with low-slung bass and old school sensibilities pitted against moody organ and an edgy vocal loop. An easy formula for sure but one that works a treat – the bassline is extremely hypnotic. Second track, X continues the text with deeper tones and evolving keys feel just that bit more poignant. Petre Inspirescu then reinterprets X over the course of fourteen minutes and astonishingly there is never a dull moment in all of its electronic sequence. Added to the digital release is bonus, Atonement which isn’t as sombre as it suggests and certainly re invigorates you with pulsating rhythms and excitable keys. 8
The labels second release from two of its talking heads’ is somewhat of a killer combining energised dancefloor sensibilities with breezy melodic appeal. It’s all about the drums, the bass and the voice here, and this cool combination of all three feels instantly infectious along with a hefty sprinkling of funky guitar – indeed, you can just picture the smiling faces on the dancefloor. The Mole then turns it all upside down with a feverish remix transforming the elements into something moodier, darker but no less intoxicating. 8