Fuelled by a bewildering sense of stereo Atacama does nothing short of stun the listener i.e. you and me into a challenged state of being. It’s no day at the beach either as emotions are engaged, lifted and bounced around the room with forceful release as abrasive bass notes hit you, yet the stream of emotive arpeggios soothingly reassures. The subsequent Damian Lazarus Re-Shape does precisely that introducing the human touch of vocals amid a swirl of atmospherically rewarding pads, punctuated by insistent percussion alongside a timely arrangement of lifts and drops realising each second.
I didn’t see this coming. But sure am glad it has arrived. This excellent cover of one of Pink Floyd’s very many seminal moments, in this case Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, was dated originally from 1968 (post Syd Barrett). Driven by crisp shakers and that signature bassline all sorts of wonderful atmospheric sounds are then added to the intensity as you would imagine of such a song. Particularly effective are the haunting strings as indeed is the vocal delivery which sounds suitably striking. Guy Gerber delivers a remix which transforms any notions of the sixties into something altogether future-charged with probing electricity existing readily amongst the various percussion and building layers of synthesized sound. Additional track, Guacamole proceeds to explore pulsating waves of resonating electronics providing a welcome contrast to the hazy strains of Set The Controls….
The smouldering tribal beats that inform Deniz Kurtel’s excellent release on the label once again prove that innovation, and being tuned into the future, isn’t always obtained by reverting back to a Disco that’s already past. The Fifth House fuses together echoes of dancehall voices over punchy organ hits that denote an energised sense of occasion as the sizzling arrangement courses throughout. The remix then comes from Marcus Intalex (who recently passed away) in the form of his Trevino guise leaving a legacy of well-respected productions to his name as indeed is this probing, Techno infused reworking. Second original, Coming From Dance finalises with a funkier release of rhythm shooting across darker basslines plus an array of sounds effects and treatments which set it all to go off.
Spanning delicate melodies evolving from Camille Safiya the producers elegantly highlight the power of voice via a punctuating, atmospheric array of instrumentation. This is simply a great track proving to be timely and beyond merely functional. And you realise that before mid-point. Next, and all of the differing takes are equally excellent, Serge Devant’s Floor Cut version adds a touch of sparkle igniting dancefloor possibilities, while Reboot’s ‘Kadaitcha Man’ Rework does like-wise. As does Art Department whose blissfully pounding Modular Perspective Remix does all of that and more, leaving his Jaded Perspective version feeling the total opposite with funkier drums and heightening tension getting relieved by the warm rush of melodic pads.
Release: June 23
As debuts go. This is unequivocally s**t hot. Smokey, rebellious while not afraid to tear at the edges of sound with its grainy, dark synthesizers Stimmhalt’s initial release for the label contrasts it all with some timely, rather sublime percussion adding a sense of soulful, funkiness to the arrangement. Evolving over some eight minutes and ending up with soaring, improvised instrumentation breathing bliss this is yet another standout from the label. Which, in this instance comes with a tougher rendition from Pezzner whose undulating sequences are things of compelling beauty.
Release: June 16
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.
Breathing like an old-time soul classic the beginning of Mitchel Kelly and Thijs Bastiaans aka Paris Green’s emotionally resonating You Got To Try feels every bit like a great record, right down to its relatively short life-span of 4:20. Time is inconsequential here as the smoky, downbeat vibes gather their own pace amid unfussy drums, low-end bass and David Stolk’s yearning vocal delivery. Ghost, then lifts the mood a touch with suggestive keys hinting towards a climactic sense of occasion inside shuffling machine drums and wobbly synth lines plus voices. But back to the title track and Steve Bug’s two equally striking remixes with the warm exhilaration of his Sunset version sounding particularly wonderful, while the Club Dub does just that via stripped down beats acquainted with fizzy synthesiser sequences.
Release: May 19
Mind, Body & Soul opens this excellent release in a blaze of Sci-Fi otherworldliness that wouldn’t be out of place somewhere on Forbidden Planet. The dots then connect further as brisk hi-hats and pulsating bass propel this creatively juiced affair forwards alongside its title as a spoken determination amid eventual warm sprinkles of keys colouring the emotional palate. Next the Matt Tolfrey collab, Habitual sees determinedly tougher rhythms ignite the electrics across engaging minutes, while Joaquin Joe Claussell’s Body Rhythm Soul Version of Mind… reworks it all beautifully with Latin-Jazzy references care of smoky Trumpet blasts plus hot piano and percussion leaving you feeling typically infused.
Joeski continues his journey into sound this time exploring African rhythms care of this forthcoming release for the forward-planning Crosstown Rebels. The production is, of course, exemplary with reverberating percussion sounds expanding the stereo field via timely voices alongside deep synth lines adding extra edge to the arrangement on his Tribute To Obatala. The theme is then reimagined next in Orisha Obatalá as deeper moods are ignited, while the proceeding Obatala Drum Reprise completes the story revealing all of those perfectly pitched drums in all their intoned glory.
Release: March 10
Listen/ buy http://classic.beatport.com/release/tribute-ep/1957163
Rowee comes from a story based on a profound feeling for music, representing an alter ego; it is the darkest part of me, and at the same time the hypnotic and mental part, music with a soul. Artists often have several different faces, and the decision to hide a side of myself in Rowee was immediately the right choice. I needed to somehow express a part of me that I hadn’t yet revealed.
The release ‘Disguise EP’ features collaborations with Thomas Gandey, KnowKontrol and Simon Wish. Tell us about how your working relationship came about with these artists? And with label itself?
I met Damian Lazarus at a party in Tuscany, where we talked about some demos I had tucked away in a drawer… I always thought that the best “home” for Rowee would be Crosstown Rebels / Rebellion. Damian Lazarus is a great artist whom I hold in the highest esteem, both for his musical choices as a DJ, as well as for the high quality of his labels. The Disguise EP represents a “voyage” divided into three different sections; “Earth To You” created together with our friend Thomas Gandey describes sensuality and essentiality through music. We created a minimal environment that serves as a background for a sensual, cutting edge voice. We got to know Thomas a few years ago, sharing the console at a well-known Italian club. We started collaborating on that day and have since cultivated a valuable friendship and in-tune relationship. The second track that gives the EP its name is “Disguise”, a collaboration with the singer KnowKontrol, a profound track with an authentic soul, “a lost sense of complicity hidden behind the guise of two people pretending that their relationship is OK”. I have always admired the vocals by KnowKontrol on tracks like “After Dark” by &ME on “KeineMusik” or “Shadows” on “Saved”, so the decision to collaborate with him was easy. The voyage concludes with “It Shows You”, a collaboration with our friend from New York, Simon Wish. We developed the track with an acidic sound and the right energy for the dancefloor, a perfect conclusion for this 3-Track EP.
Work in the studio is usually very fast and straightforward. I try to convey my concept based on inspiration from past artists and sounds that are often beyond just the dancefloor, to then go into the studio and work on all the ideas together and develop the album. I really like using Moog, Modular, Minimonsta systems; they are often a source of great inspiration for creating an album. In the case of the single “Disguise”, the entire concept was born from the vocals and the feeling they expressed; I just needed to create the right costume to perfectly fit the meaning conveyed by the voice. So with an ever-present and essential groove, a hypnotic riff and a moog synth that gives the perfect energy behind the vocals. The result was exactly what I was looking for, the right balance between groove and synths, emphasizing the vox to their maximum.
You’re playing at the BPM Festival in January. How do you prepare for such an event? And what are your feelings on the rise of festival culture (as opposed to having a residency in a Club)?
I think the BPM Festival today represents one of the top festivals in the world, with an enviable line up and the incredible backdrop of Playa Del Carmen. I am much honored to be part of the official line up. I love festivals that take place under the sun, giving the atmosphere positive vibes, plenty of smiles and energy. I don’t think it’s possible to compare a club and a festival, because they each give you a different sensation… a club makes you feel “at home” with the contact among the people immediate creating a great feeling on the dancefloor, with the “detachment” between the console and the public is totally cancelled out in a club. In contrast, a festival does not really have this aspect, because detachment is unavoidable, but the energy of a big crowd gives you a one of a kind, amazing sensation.
Tell us about your choice of music for the forthcoming BPM2017 compilation? What for you makes the perfect club track?
I usually don’t choose the music before the event, and I always try to let myself be transported by the emotions that are generated by the dancefloor as I am playing; that’s when I select the tracks for my set, often alternating my works with those from other artists. I don’t think a perfect track exists, but I do think that a DJ’s approach to the dancefloor makes any track the perfect one.
What’s the scene like in Florence at the moment? What are your favourite Bars & Clubs?
Florence is an incredible city, full of beautiful places for organizing parties, and the underground scene is very interesting. There are many talented people and interesting parties happening, like Nobody’s Perfect at Tenax, the Next Tech Festival (for the techno scene) and many others, like the Tropical Animals, who represent the essence of the Florentine underground scene.
How did you first get into producing music and where did you learn about it?
I began producing about 10 years ago, but my first real approach to music was when I was young and I studied how to read a stave and understand the notes, as well as studying acoustic guitar. I have always thought that studying is important, but I think it is just as important to learn from people who have a lot of experience. For example, Fabrizio Giovannozzi (a well-known engineer who passed away a few years ago) is one of those people I always admired for his body of knowledge and experience in the world of sound mixing. I learned a lot from him and I began to understand many aspects that cannot always be found in books. It is important to listen to and capture what you can from everyone, to then reinvent it within your own mind.
What are your plans for 2017?
2017 is just the beginning. Rowee debuts in the month of January with two very important EPs, one on the Steve Bug label and the other on the Damian Lazarus label. I am very happy to be part of an important crew like the “Crosstown Rebels / Rebellion”. I am already working on new tracks, and why not, maybe a new album? So stay tuned!