Just Her’s striking production strikes at the very heart of why music matters in this day and age. That is to say it engages your mind and soul transforming the world of possibilities on offer to within your grasp. Its expansive, soaring array of sounds capsulate the mood of the moment via its cast of simmering synthesiser notes and brisk drum machines that only serve the introspective vocals faithfully, as it appeared on the labels 20th anniversary compilation. The selection of remixes that follows transforms or transports the original into somewhere else from the tougher more up-tempo rendition provided by Oliver Schories through to The White SHadow’s energy packed remix. However, it’s the deeper reworks that chime best with the vocal and the case in point is certainly Yost’s beautifully atmospheric versions, including a sublime Beatless Mix. Then again Andrea Arcangeli squeezes the emotional pips from the song to the fullest, followed closely by Armonica’s first-rate, bass punctuated remix. Choice.
Launching their brand new sub-label On The Fence is the complete opposite to the act itself. Its succession of chiming keys demand your full attention in a way that is both reassuring yet unsettling, and are backed up by a rigorous infusion of deep bass plus probing drums that thankfully never seem to leave you alone. It’s a captivating experience and one which will inform you for sometime to come. Three remixes follow beginning with a darker rendition via Bisharat’s excellent, engaging journey into atmosphere, then via the commanding architecture employed by Jordan Bernardo, and finally from a percussion fuelled Christian Thomas whose invigorating landscape of sound completes this great release.
Release: January 31
The title track sees Adam Curtain join forces with vocalist Gloria Adereti and co-producer Jack Riley to deliver a hint of 90’s referencing soulfully charged House that produces most welcome results. Dancing on tribal beats, gritty hi-hats and a brooding bassline the vocals proceed to add the human touch to this commanding arrangement of sounds. Alex Arnout then gives it all a funkier feeling via the combination of shuffling percussion along with cool keys and a reduction of the vocals on his great remix. Clunk a Trunk, hits Chicago with its inescapably pumping bassline, insistent synths and surge of sound effects colouring in the spaces. Leaving OD3 to end with further invigorating bass and this time Acid lines adding their own unique edge to the production accompanyied by splashes of â€˜Oh Baby’ vocals.
Release: February 3
Yaww’s third vinyl only escapade is unleased upon the world with the EP’s title track topically referencing that famous location in New York City via a smoky spoken narrative that blends perfectly with the tough, rugged drums and low-end theory. The light relief occurs in the sprinkle of bright keys on the Original Mix which is followed by a typically excellent remix by DJ W!LD who adds extra juice to the beats and a dark, filtered undercurrent to drive it all home. The second first-rate remix is from Fidia & Abner who then treat the voice to a burst of FX and again lend the arrangement a tenser, dangerously edgy atmosphere. Second original Follow That Car completes the package with a combination of Detroit styled stabs and splashing, breathless drums that leave no room for doubt.
Release: January 27
My best friend and I left Australia nearly ten years ago – we had finished school, we were super young, didn’t really think about what we were doing, had no real plans (or money) but off we went on an adventure and we never went back. At that point I didn’t really know what a DJ actually was. I’ve always loved music. It has always been my one true love since I was a little girl. I had learnt music & instruments and had played in a band in Sydney. I lived for going out and raving every weekend, but had never considered being a DJ. I then worked for a long time as a Nanny in London – it was during this time that I learnt to DJ. It wasn’t anyone one or anything in particular that inspired me to do this. I just knew I loved music and I had lots of fun planning and putting together playlists for when I had parties at my house. And that’s what I imagined a DJ to be. I knew nothing about turntables or CDJ’s or anything like that! So i paid a guy to teach me. Borrowed people’s decks to practice then blagged a few gigs! I started off playing at venues where I would be playing 6/7 hour sets which when you’re a beginner was pretty daunting of course, but it made me a much better DJ, much more quickly. I started producing 18 months ago.
Your latest track is available now as a free download via XLR8R: Up All Night (Waiting For The Angels). Where did you get the inspiration for the track and talk us through how you produced it?
The track is a kind of a cover of a cover. It’s based on Greg Wilson’s cover of Grace Jones “Williams Blood”. Everything has been re recorded – the only sample I used from the Jones original recording is her vocal snippet “I’m waiting for the angels” in the breakdown.
I had wanted to try and do a cover or remix type thing of a track for a while. I play the Greg Wilson remix at some bars that I play at, so I thought I would have a go at that one. The Grace Jones original is particularly spectacular though.
Like most of my music, production wise there’s not loads going on; when you strip it down, it’s pretty simple. The baseline based on the Greg Wilson version was made with a Vermona synth. That beautiful and melancholy chord progression based in the original track, is a Juno. I recorded my own vocals, which I do in most of my music. I often process them in the same way by throwing on some cool little reverbs and delays. I tend to use logic’s stereo delay or H-Delay, and I normally layer the space designer with some ratshack reverb and maybe the Valhalla Freq Echo.
There’s some fairly basic drums and percussion in there, another rhythmic chord pattern that comes in from the breakdown, which is actually just a logic preset. I mean, it’s not a life changing piece of music. It’s just a nice little vibe track which I wrote after being inspired by music I love.
How important do you think it is for contemporary Dance tracks to contain a musical element along with the use of vocals, when a lot don’t focus on either element?
For me personally it’s essential. I cannot bear generic and ‘perfect’ sounding dance music. For something to connect with me, I need to feel something. It could be any kind of feeling; euphoria, a feeling of being on the edge, melancholy, anything! But that’s how I connect to a piece of music. I need to feel like there is a soul, or some small sign of human life behind a song. I need to feel like someone actually made this music, that their passion and soul went into making it. And the way I feel something is mostly through real musical elements, as opposed to just making beats. That’s what helps creates soul in a piece of music, it’s the interesting or emotive chord progression, or a stirring pad, it’s a beautiful lyric, a quirky vocal, a string – a sign of life!
You are planning to start your own label: Love Story Recordings in the new year. What is the story behind that and what do you have lined up as the first release?
Yes I am!
I’m going to be super honest and say that the thing that pushed me to do this is that when I send music to people, 99.99% of the time I never hear back from anyone. That’s just the harsh reality. I’ve been lucky enough to land a few releases here and there, but ultimately sometimes if you want something done, you just have to do it yourself. I have music that I have lying around that I want to share with people and no one wants to put it out right now – so instead of moaning about it I just figured I’d get on with it and do it myself.
I’ll also be releasing great music from other people; and that can be anyone! The motto behind the label is that it is a ‘friendly and all encompassing electronic record label.’ No attitude, no egos. I want to provide a platform not only for my own music, but a place for people to be able to feel comfortable sending their music, being assured that their music will be listened to, and feedback provided when and where possible.
It was wicked! I cannot explain how grateful and blown away I was to be asked to play. I was truly humbled. I played in room 3 which I felt was much more suited to my music than the other rooms which was cool. I opened the stage, which was perfect as I really love warming up, and gradually creating something from nothing. My only disappoint of the night was the severe shortage of women in the crowd. Honestly I was shocked. It was like, the biggest sausage fest! Which kind of makes me sad. Where are you ladies, and why do you not want to go out and listen to dance music? I was chatting to someone about this the other day actually. He was talking about the early acid house days and what a great time it was, etc. and I asked him what the ratio of men to women was back then, and he said 50 50! I’d like to understand more as to why this has changed.
I want to convey happiness through music! Because that’s what dance music is all about. That’s why we go out in the middle of the night and dance in sweat pits. Because it’s fun and it makes us happy. I feel like this can sometimes be lost in dance music today, and the industry at times can take itself a little too seriously and give off the ”too cool’ vibe. So I’ve consciously made a point to myself to be all encompassing and always maintain a sense of fun. After all we are not saving lives; we are out having a laugh and a dance.
Tell us about your forthcoming release for Vitalik Recordings â€˜Under My Skin’?
This has been a long time coming and I’m super excited about this! I sent this track out on a mailout and Ryan from Vitalik left some really great feedback – so I got in touch with him and when he found out it was unsigned he offered to sign it. The EP will included 2 remixes, one from Luca C’s new alias, and another from Path (aka Will Berridge). It will be out in March 2017.
Please talk us though your studio set-up, including a favourite piece of software/ hardware?
I produce in Logic. I share a studio in hackney, but to be honest I find myself pushed for time most of the time, so I often write basic tracks and sketches on the go with just my laptop and headphones. Before work or in my break at a coffee shop, or curled up in bed just before sleep is when I write basic outlines of tracks. Squeezing in an hour here and there when I can. Then I’ll use the studio to fill them out, record my vocals and finish them off.Â The only bits of kit I actually own are a bass bot 303 and a very average mic. The studio has loads of cool stuff I can use. An Sh101, there’s The Juno 106 which is something that I use a lot and some lush Focal monitors. Now there’s a Jupiter 8! But I haven’t used that yet…
I don’t really have any plug in software synths. If I do use them I just use logics own synths. I also use samples in my tracks that I find on Freesound, which I chop, process and try to be creative with. I also get help with my mixdowns. I know what I’m good at right now and what I’m not good at. I haven’t been producing long enough to have the time to be able to be good at mixdowns at this point in time, and my skills in this area are basic – so I need help with that!
I probably listen to way more music which isn’t dance music on a regular basis. I love music so so much! I go through phases of listening to stuff.Â At the moment I’ve been listening to Elliot Smith, The Kills, Kevin Morby, Beyond The Wizards Sleeve new album. I’ve been listening through all of Moby’s albums and feeling nostalgic. I still listen to the Amelie soundtrack most days and have done for years now. I was listening through Carole King’s catalogue the other day. Like how the hell can one person write so many bangers?? Banger after banger! I get obsessed with songs and play them like 25 times in a row every single day for a few weeks before moving onto to the next craze. At the moment it’s Jean Michel Blais “Nostos.” If there is just one thing you do today, please please take five minutes out and listen to this incredible piece of music. I’m biased towards music from the 50’s through to the 80’s.
I only read on holidays – I love non-fiction books on super dark and depressing subject matters, or I like to read about spiritual stuff and the universe. I’m also a sucker for the worst kind of mind numbing reality TV. Like the kind of stuff you go to hell for watching.
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Yet another sterling production from Nolan who makes it all sound so effortless but then that’s life after all. The original version slides by in a haze of shuffling funk driven by probing bass stabs accompanied by synthesised flourishes and capped off by Forrest’s deft vocal dexterity. Raumakustik deliver a cool contrast with their remix adding an edge to the groove but then explore a rousing rush of chorus mid-point. Next, P.A.C.O. transform it all via looped electronics plus deeper moods which unfurl into hypnotic piano punctuated emotions suiting the vocal right down to the ground. Kitball have released a number of gems this past year, this is one more.
Apologies with being slightly behind with this review. But then microCastle release music that defies time and space. Fabio Montana’s tough opening production Ortygia combines all sorts of attributes touching upon dark, brooding edges yet retaining a life-assuring warmth courtesy of the crashing waves of FX and delicate piano lines. The remix comes from Love Over Entropy who combine seventies styled drum machines with twisted keys turning it all into something altogether more haunting in the process. The equally tasty Akragas sees the second original composition chase rumbling bass across punchy drum hits and layers of evocative keyboard. This time round the remix comes from My Favorite Robot who add a definite crunch to the drums along with a simmering tension to the electronics which as always are guaranteed to cause a big sensation.
Wallowing in the tedium that passes for tech-house these days (it doesn’t merit capitals) we find ourselves in the company of Flabaire who stands heads above the crowd. You know this within seconds of the Twin Peaks referencing title tack, Laura Palmer. Its pulverising, funky grooves simply ignites the airwaves with the sort of danceable energy that is so often missing these days. And not just because it seems to reference the past but because it feels alive in all sorts of joyous ways. It speaks without the need for actual words through its enticing, warm, human feeling rhythms in a place where the usual tired formula’s and bored expectations can be safely forgotten about. Aubrey, supplies the remix lending a more spacey mood complete with meandering synth lines. Shabbat Jam comes next this time easing down the tempo to a suitable shuffle of nice jazzy-funkiness, leaving the punchy drums and Acid atmospheres of Urquinaona to finish off this great release.
DJ Hell rarely refuses to tempt and tease you and this taster from his forthcoming fifth studio album ZUKUNFTSMUSIK is certainly not shy in coming forward. Collaborating with Tom Of Finland Foundation on the sleeve plus video the music cruises through a sleazy late-night monologue that touches upon industrial hi-energy sounds, while also referencing tastefully dark, cinematic synthesised atmosphere’s which feel just as poignant in any era. Two excellent remixes make their presence felt firstly from The Hacker who injects a tough New-Beat sensibility into the affair hitting you with an irresistible bassline plus cowbells galore to move you. Next is from Martin Matiske who contrasts it all with a gentler, though no less hard-hitting, version which proves just as addictive with its shinny keyboard motifs and punctuating stabs and classically trained drum machines.
Cherry Red add to their sterling series of comprehension genre selections with this fresh rendering of early Independent UK Punk numbers. I’m confessing to personal involvement with the era playing bass in the initial incarnation of The Defects around the time that Belfast’s Good Vibrations records store plus label was in full swing, and it’s timely to hear the inclusions from back then by The Outcasts â€“ Greg Cowan’s crowning glory bassline: Just Another Teenage Rebel – and Rudi’s perfect antidote to what it all became: Big Time. The title of the compilation is gleaned from Alternative TV’s dead-pan yet catchy single of the same name and what’s so breath-taking here is the sheer wealth of energy and intense commitment to some sort of belief in ourselves. In reflection perhaps it may all sound a bit naive, or crass even, through todays more cyclical (self-centred) glance but for anyone who loves this music so many of these songs still strike that chord. Funny, I thought this would all now feel terribly dated but in fact the opposite is true. It sounds even more vital, more real given today’s fantasy society of glitz and false credit. There is of course an obvious parallel to be drawn today between Punk’s picking up a guitar and saying something with it and by contemporary readily available electronics – creating something exciting then sharing the idea. Meanwhile, Action Time Vision provides a fascinating, pointed contrast to the first blaze of synthesizer inspired noises also coming out of the UK in the later seventies via Cherry Red’s equally important compilation: Close To The Noise Floor. I guess that’s all simply down to attitude? And that’s where and when the story got all the more interesting for me as new musical possibilities blended with the thought processes’ offered by Punk.
PS. Kris Needs supplies an excellent, indespensable 64 page spread of all you need to know.
Release: December 9