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.
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.
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.
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.
2017 sees the launch of your new alias: Rowee with a single for Rebellion. What’s the story behind the name and why have you chosen to use an alias?
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.
Can you talk us through how you created one of the tracks from the initial inspiration to the final production? How would you describe the studio that you like to use?
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!
Your new single: One for the Heads EP is coming out soon on Rebellion. Each track connects between the transcendent power of the dancefloor and an inner spiritual quest. Can you tell us about how you discovered these ideas and what they mean to you in practice?
A lot of our inner spiritual quest has come from our own individual paths, our trials, and our soul searching and we try to reflect that in our performances and our music by creating music and art that stimulates the mind and body physically and emotionally. So much of the culture is trying to lose themselves in the moment rather than enjoying it, getting lost in the music instead of being liberated by it. It is our humble effort to give people a chance to connect and dance through the medium of dance music.
Do you feel that in today’s digital rush and seeming easy connectivity that we have lost something in translation? If so, how has Club Culture changed for you over the course of your career?
The age of convenience and instant gratification via technological evolution is quite a marvel of the modern day indeed. As we creep closer to a world dictated to us through technology it’s important to maintain a firm footing on the ground lest we be completely swept away into a direction we didn’t see coming or want. Social media has connected the world but divided us further. We look for connection online but it’s still pretty hollow. We are physical beings in physical matter, and there’s something to be said about the transference of physical energies.
The great thing about Club Culture is that it’s a mingling of people from all walks of life, and on the dance floor we’re all the same, coming together to celebrate life and love to the healing sounds of music. The faces change, the music changes, fashions and trends change, but that’s alright. I think the most constantly changing thing seems to be the business side, which most recently was hijacked by the corporate world for a moment as it tried to figure out how to capitalize off of a culture that prides itself in being anti-corporate, and as we’ve seen it didn’t work out too well as the too-big-to-fail model imploded on SFX and some larger festivals, but now that the dust has settled, I see lots of growth in the dance music culture especially in America right now. Music business is always a tough business, especially for the artists. But change is good — change is the natural constant of the ever evolving infinite universe. Whether it’s good or bad is completely subjective, so the most important thing is to remain forever innocent and wide-eyed with wonder and excitement, be inspired by change, use other’s changes to inspire your own growth, otherwise you succumb to a negative outlook which can jade and trap you in darkness.
Can you talk us through how you produced one of the tracks, and something about your studio plus how you approach the working day?
Well in this instance the title track probably has the most exciting story “One for the heads”. We had access to a killer studio and had just gotten back from the NYE-BPM happenings down in Mexico and went into the studio with our new Roland JP-08 and Roland Space echo. A lot of the rhythms in the track were inspired by a lot of music we heard in the jungles of Mexico and were for the most part were recorded live in the studio. The synth sounds were recorded from the JP-08 through the space echo and instantly perked our ears. The rhythms were created by using Euclidean rhythms which really birthed a beautiful hypnotic abstract rhythmic base to the track. By the time we had composed the track it was obvious we had created a very serious piece of dance floor material not for the faint at heart, hence the title of the track. We felt it was a piece appropriate for the sharp and educated ear of dance music lovers world wide.
This is the second release for the Crosstown Rebels family. How did you first hook up with the label?
We crafted this extremely crazy bootleg remix of Bjork’s “All Is Full Of Love” and sent it to Damian, and he was super in to it and we heard he was playing it out quite often, so we decided to give a shot at putting together an EP to submit to the label, which birthed our first Rebellion release, “Drowning in Irises”. Since then he’s invited us to play the Get Lost during WMC, as well as the recent one in downtown Los Angeles at the legendary Park Plaza Hotel.
What are you listening to, reading or watching at the moment outside of Dance Music?
Chris: Right now I am reading a few things, “The Secret Teachings of All The Ages” by Manly P. Hall, “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse, and “Tristessa” by Jack Kerouac. My listening always contains heavy listening of the Grateful Dead and Miles Davis. Modern stuff I love is Yagya, Tyco, and have been really inspired by late 90’s electronica. But in any genre a good song is a good song and I love it all.
Reagan: Currently I’m reading Taschen’s “The Hermetic Museum: Alchemy & Mysticism” right now with is an amazing compiling breakdown and analysis of all of the the alchemical art through history. As for music I go between a bunch of jazz, Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Ricardo Villalobos, Bjork, Radio Head, and this vaporwave band, 2814, whose album “Birth of a New Day” has been my sleep loop album for the past year now! I’ve also been re-listening to Sneaker Pimp’s second album a lot lately.
How was your experience of Burning Man this year. And how do you feel about the prominence of festivals these days?
Well we both had very different experiences, as Burning Man is a very personal experience for anyone involved. On the objective level, however, Burning Man is the largest social experiment ever conducted by mankind. There is so much to do and see and immerse yourself in that everyone’s experience and interpretation will be different. The prominence of festivals is a good thing — not only does it offer great music outlets for talented musicians and artists, but the efforts of the builders and the creativity involved is very exciting and stimulating. It’s also a great chance for people to make friends, hang out with old ones, hear great music, and and see amazing art. It’s really great to see new people going to Burning Man and being inspired to bring a piece back to their own communities and in some cases start throwing their own events in cities or towns that might not have had any exposure to the non-commercial dance music scene as it’s really helping the overall music scene in America — almost seems to be a mini-renaissance. The only thing to be weary of is over-saturation, but we see more people focused on building communities fostering love light and connection.
How would you describe the experience of playing ‘live’ to people?
Playing live is really special for us as we are able to fully immerse people in our harmonic interpretation of the universe and lead them on a journey. We write so many moods of dance music that it allows us to tell some really exciting stories. The current live set is mostly a hybrid, consisting of our music broken down in to 9 channels of stems, interspersed with some full tracks to help bridge between all the elements. We use our elektron machinedrum and analog rytm as well for additional percussion and elements, and sometimes Reagan does live vocals.
Stellar Wind/ DSC
‘Lovers Fall’ EP
This is a killer release, hopefully by anyone’s standards. Two tracks plus two artists grace the pages with Search The Skies from Stellar Wind opening care of a succession of beautifully succinct beats alongside a series of percussive keyboard and drum flourishes on this excellent, no compromise composition. DSC’s Lovers Fall happens next with a more introspective collection of pulsating keys and haunting vocal lines dancing in-between all that rich, powerful atmosphere. This is only the label’s third release yet with music of this quality you get the sense that quality-control is much more than just a byword.
The Complete Cathedral Oceans
Celebrating: Cathedral Oceans (1997), Cathedral Oceans II (2003) and Cathedral Oceans III (2005) this collection of all three albums now neatly converges into the one single definitive release. The inescapable word defining this shape-shifting landscape of sounds has to be ethereal. Or possibly heavenly – which on first glance seems all the more apt. I find music like this reaches into your soul altering your reactions as it probes and produces a never-ending shift of emotions. Ambient is the easy/ obvious word to describe the atmospheric rushes of sounds which come and go across the synthesized generations of both keyboards and holy voices here. Almost timeless, in the way that only electronic music of this nature along with, say, Classical is. However, in a sense it’s pointless my describing piece by piece the defining qualities of the track-list as each album breathes a fresh sense of occasion into the previous incarnation. It is an inescapably, wondrous journey through the sights and sounds of John Foxx’s imagination which ultimately transcends the timeline between then and now, and optimistically into the beyond. Play this at your exalted leisure.
Lifted from their new album, ‘EP1’ this simmering, brooding, sometimes dangerous feeling production tears at the fabric of your soul, while creating all sorts of new possibilities in the process. I love its meandering evolution of percussive and synthesized rhythms that leave you guessing as to what might occur next. That, plus the contrasting gentle ambience created by the background of voices appearing occasionally. The arrangement is a high-octane concoction primed for the dancefloor and indeed this must sound epic across the right sound-system. All sorts of influences going on in here too while creating their own definite sound means you’ve got to applaud this. Two versions available, with the aforementioned Tunnel mix plus the slightly deceptive Ambient Mood version which alters the grooves yet still packs a heavy-weight emotional punch.
Achieving a sixth artist album makes for quite an achievement in these days of impermanence. And producing an album’s worth of this quality is more than testament of any artists’ ability and consequentially worth. In abundance then Valor (which translates as courage in Spanish) begins with the emotionally drenched, Acid punctuated ‘Casa’ and ends up at the soulfully charged, Wakame. Love the fact that neither melody or musicality are ignored here while remaining resolutely fresh in terms of combining sounds with more traditional ideas and notions of arranging music to reach its fullest potential i.e. conveying a connection to you the listener. In-between the start and finish Dinky explores the technological edges in ‘Cut’ through to the more joyous revelations of, Milk. All in all Valor plays for an invigorating, life-affirming listen and long may that continue.
It Wasn’t Meant To Be / Running Home
The first thing that really strikes you about ‘It Wasn’t Meant To Be’ is just how much you miss Strings, as in those emotive, heart-wrenching lines which feel like nothing else. Theo Kottis then twists the emotional resonance up a notch with the additional of its commanding basslines, rousing vocals, and punctuating organ hits. And.Id deliver two equally first-rate versions with their Rave Nostalgia Remix again hitting those strings with reverence alongside commanding piano plus a rounder bass sound to exalt the tracks potential fully. An excellent stripped down Dub follows, with the second original composition ‘Running Nowhere’ combining fresh soundscapes in the shape of shimmering synthesizers and expansive pads accompanied by chiming keys for heightened tension.
Kicking off the New Year Mobilee sister imprint Leena has Kevin Yost supply another killer production. This deceptively uncomplicated number shoots straight to the heart of the matter with heavy-duty bass providing an irresistible lesson in low down theory. Accompanied by layers of haunting vocals and tough drumming alongside cutting synthesizer stabs Don’t Give In is much more than the sum of its message. I Don’t Get It, poses an unforgiving question which only underpins the moody electronics on sequence, with the third and final More, More replying via a more expansive production that is high on sounds with a certain jazzy, funkiness providing a suitably fine ending.
Life imitating Art as title track ‘Drowning in Irises’ is inspired by Van Gogh’s Irises painting. Equally impactful is Dance Spirit’s tough fusion of sharp percussion and bottom-end intensity alongside the fizzy addition of caustic synth lines transporting it all onto another level entirely. The sense of the otherworldly is continued with the addition of stabbing voices accompanied by a more blissful breathy ambience. The creativity then proceeds into Unfold with its darker tones settling into biting psychedelic sounds while contrasting melodic vocals lend this its own distinct edge. Completing is, In Between Spaces which marries minor pads together with gritty touches to produce something, again, rather wonderful as a result, swirling with ambience yet far from easy.
Rotten City Files/ Records
We like the breath of fresh air. And both originals define punky attitude along with a refreshing injection of life. Overdrive, sees the Madrid based trio deliver on the promise with moody rhythms augmented by fuzzy guitar plus an ice-cool vocal delivery. Addictive, certainly. The Jamie Paton remix retains that sense of occasion while blending it over pulsating electronic beats to devilish effect. The equally exciting Sriracha simmers with a kind of joyous melancholia that hints at 1980’s New Wave, and with an excellent remix from II Est Vilane who crash sleazy euro-disco into it this is all too hard to resist. Which then only leaves In Flagranti to hit Chipotle with a heavy dose of Acid frenzy for the bonus track.