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.