Inner World is a spectacular piece of music in anyone’s book. Reading like a trip through a rich, musical landscape touching upon a series of seemingly random events that inform rhythm and soulful imagination in equal measure. Hinting at a cosmic Jazz-Funkiness as solo’ed synths soar skyward both the drums and stabbing, bass guitars feel tastefully cosmopolitan, while soaking a myriad of heady influences. The chugging, Indicus follows with spiritually inspired voices augmenting the landscape of sound unfolding the experience as you listen, aiming with pointed syncopation amid a swirling intensity.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Behnam & Mehran. Tell us about how you first met and then decided to produce together?
We met over 12 years ago in Vancouver, Canada through a very special mutual friend who told both of us separately we would really get along due to our obscure sense of humour. From the moment we met we became brothers and from there we embarked on a whole musical journey DJing around different spaces and parties in Vancouver. Around 2011 we really became interested in making our own sounds so we found a garage space four floors into the ground and went there every night to practice and experiment.
Your track: Gilli has been included on Kindisch’s next Steps compilation. How did you hook up with the label? And what is the story behind its title?
We’ve been in contact with Philip Jung (M.A.N.D.Y) over the past year or so. We actually first got our track ‘Elegy’ signed with Get Physical (big brother label of Kindisch) coming out early 2020. A few months down the road, we had ‘Gilli’ in our hands and just had a feeling it would be perfect for Kindisch – so we reached out to Philip and he made it all happen.
The title ‘Gilli’ comes from Gil Scott Heron who was a legendary jazz poet and musician in the 1970’s – one of the true pioneers of rap music and slam poetry you could say. You can hear his words come in and out of the track as he weaves a grim narrative of Nixon and his toxic relationship with America. His words deeply resonated with us given the political climate right now and we wanted to relive the legacy of his words and the grim outlook of our future right now.
The track fuses together a diverse set of styles and emotions. How would you best describe the music that you create?
It’s hard to capture in words really. It seems like whatever is coming out of us has both elements of melancholy and color in it. Given that we are Iranian born Canadian raised German residents, we definitely feel a sense of rootlessness in that we don’t truly feel at ‘home’ anywhere. So that gives us the room to really tap into whatever styles that move us the most – soul, jazz, traditional Iranian, old school hip hop, Roma folk music and on and on.
Can you talk us through how Gilli was produced, including any favourite software/ hardware you like to use?
‘Gilli’ came out of a series of jams we had using a lot of old school hip hop drum sampling we had done. After jamming a few grooves along with a few guitar riffs we were on a mission with Gil’s words. And what came at the end was a free improvisation on keys for all the melodies and pads to make everything make sense. We do a lot of recordings when we get our hands on synths such as the Prophet 12, Nord Lead and the Sub 37. And when we come back to regroup we make sense out of everything in Logic Pro with what we capture.
Tell us about your main influences. Both within electronic music and from outside of it. Are there any writers, painters etc who influence what you do?
Hmm this is really hard to capture in a few names but within the electronic scene there are many class acts we look up to such as Stimming, Stavroz, Apparat, Max Cooper and so on. Outside of it we tap into a lot of obscure folk music from around the world along with other artists like film directors Jim Jarmusch and Alejandro González Iñárritu, and writers such as Elif Shafak and Hunter Thompson. Really all over the place.
Your studio looks amazing. What do you consider to be the most important thing in it (apart from yourselves)?
Honestly it’s not so much a particular thing as opposed to the sense of community that we feel in and around us. Since our studio is in Holzmarkt in Berlin, we have a lot of inspirational artists like Martin (Acid Pauli), Sascha Cawa, Mario (Douglas Greed), Marco Resmann, and Paji having their studios next to us. That moment when you’re in the studio and you feel like all the walls are closing in on you, you step outside and get grounded again with these guys’ experience and wisdom.
In broader terms how do you feel about the nature of ‘streaming’ and ways to make a living as artists through music?
Honestly with the nature of our kind of music and our peers alike, streaming doesn’t really serve us in earning a living. I think like everyone, we’re secretly wishing for a more fair streaming platform where we would be paid more per stream but it doesn’t look probable.
We’ve actually been working very closely in the past two years with a dedicated team in Sweden developing a live streaming app that allows artists to monetise through either setting up their own performances or just live streaming from their studio. The app is called Whalebone and is due to launch at the end of October. We’re really looking forward to using it and sharing it with our peers.
How was your recent trip to Mexico? And tell us about your remix for Lost Desert & Simon Vuarambon – Bloesem on Souksonic?
Mexico was truly magical. We just fell in love with the warmth of the people, the beauty in the food and the hospitality we received. We see ourselves going back there more down the road.
Regarding our remix of Bloesem, we met Patrick (Lost desert) and Sandra on a sunny spring afternoon in Brooklyn on the day we were playing for the ZERO Masquerade. One thing was crystal clear from that point onwards: they are the type of people you feel like you’ve known deeply for many lifetimes. over and over. Fast forward a year and a bit later and here we are remixing his track for his newborn label Souksonic. We’re really happy with the outcome.
And finally. Where can people get to hear you DJ, and can you share with us any forthcoming plans?
Yes we’re back playing in a few shows London and Toronto in November with a bigger focus on finishing a lot of new projects. Then we’re doing New York, DC and Miami all in December. And then a few Woomoon gigs in Tulum around New Year’s leading into a Saisons showcase mid-January in Montreal during Igloo fest. We also got a few new releases coming out with Get Physical and Saisons.
Defining the inescapable consequence that music is well and truly here the irrepressible Roland Leesker once again delivers sounds of note and distinction. Taking the fiery inflections of Chicago Acid as its starting point the arrangement channels robust bass and punchy drums together like an orgy of sleazy excitement. Addictively tantalising the rhythms are all hot and steamy while the commanding voice adds the human touch to the sizzling electronics. Who else then but DJ Pierre to provide the remix. And it comes as no surprise that the tough, invigorating results send snare drums dancing and grainy 303’s sequencing somewhere else entirely. Beautiful music may not always sound pretty.
Escaping the mindless boredom generated induced by the modern dilemma of tech-house is this set of three finely tuned productions from Ossaim. It takes a curious mind to create music that engages on all three levels but mind, body and souls are equally quenched via imagination plus illuminating flair. You can hear the influences seeping throughout the 90’s inspired Trickster, yet it also feels defiantly contemporary too. The excellent, No Way Back perhaps answers that call moving forward with an electrifying array of fiery keys and evocative, haunting sounds expanding the horizon. But back to the beginning with the chugging beauty of the aptly titled, Happi which loops tantalising voices alongside a reassuring rush of warm synthesizers.
Introducing itself via a beautifully dangerous, richly addictive intensity this record hits all the right notes joining soaring techno notation together with a relentless arrangement of ideas and energy. The original version feels that touch deeper, though no less impactful, as space is given to the drums and smouldering vocals to weave their magic on this startlingly, brilliant highlight of the year so far. The brutal stabs alone combine to produce one of the heaviest, most celebratory moments you are likely to witness, while Man Power’s remix hits you with deft percussion plus a bold rush of bass alongside those infectious chords, amidst the whirlwind of excitement leaving all breathless.
You only need experience the sizzling opening bars to Pezzner’s new release for Get Physical to feel the genuine charge of electricity that informs the very best of music in 2018. There is a brisk intensity to it all that plays out even before the introduction of Aquarius Heaven’s majestic voice seeks to command your attention. The producer creates a sense of unease with punctuating percussion probing as the edges amid grainy, uncompromising electronics while Brian Brewster’s questioning words tease out hidden answers. A Dub follows with reoccurring stabs adding a timely punctuation to the drums and vibes, and there’s also an acapella demonstrating the message in the music. As if you needed reminding.
When a record describes itself Strobe Light Laser ACID you can quickly paint your own picture of events. Although, it may not quite allow for the brutal brilliance of Chus & Ceballos’s unholy remix which adds extra Kick to the word Drum. An excellent production by anyone’s standard setting off tribal intensity against brisk Acid lines and that nod to Frankie Goes To Hollywood may all be a bit much to take – unless it happens to be 3 in the morning. Next, DJ Pierre’s Phuture project co-conspirator Lessnoise delivers a MoreAcid Mix proving to be no less captivating, though provides a more introspective take with rumbling Acid spinning out over resolutely tough beats and bass.
As the title prompts this is a gathering of the labels finer moments from over the year which to be fair have thrown more than one gem along the way. Highlighting this collection of excellent, important sounds begins with the deeply, heart-tearing strains of ‘Sun Salute’ by atish, Bengal. The rich, beautiful intensity then continues via the apt ‘Magic Footsteps’ explored by Modd which is complimented by the swirling rush of DAVI’s ‘Kayser Soze’ next. Moods then proceed to lift and fall over a total of 17 complimenting pieces of music that include Franck D’s hyper ‘Feelin’ plus Sandro Beninati’s rolling ‘Night Mode’ which also concludes the selection. Typifying a great year for both creative, forward-pointing electronic music and for Get Physical’s sister label. Let’s see and hear just what happens next emanating out of Berlin while moving into 2018.
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!
Body Language Vol. 18 by Tim Green
Get Physical Music
You pretty much instantaneously realize that you are listening/ experiencing something quite special with Tim Green’s installment of the popular series. And what you won’t find are a lot of hackneyed cliques but can discover beautifully fused together music moving across many different platforms from teasing vocals such as the smouldering ‘Still There’ by Landslide to Greg Haines rush of emotion on ‘Habenero’ which completes. In-between the selections flick between the funky and tougher over the course of 72 minutes featuring tracks from, of course, Tim Green, Justin Jay & Chris Lorenzo plus James Holden amongst others, yet all making perfect sense of the sequence in the hands of this renowned artist.
FINA Records A&R, and one quarter of the Melon Bomb crew, Corbi delivers his debut production for Anna Wall’s inaugural release for her brand new imprint: The Bricks. It’s an accomplished piece of music that is as much about emotion as it is about rhythm. Fuelled by a playful yet punchy Detroit styled bassline the sounds soon evolve via the addition of warm pads and also care off HYDE + SEEK’s lead singer, Binky who supplies a tender, yearning vocal. Only the one mix, but this says plenty into the bargain. ( Photo credit: Netti Hurley)