It’s not often, in fact it is very rare that we review two releases from the same label in the one week but Yulia Niko’s inevitably stunning new single merits it. I’ve probably said this before too as for me important music feeds the soul with imagination, emotion and even radical discourse (personal or otherwise). The thought processes that occupy Man like Star ignite all of those attributes with each sound and rhythm being carefully selected for maximum effect. This is musically soulful but also probing, questioning the nature of things via its spoken, cinematic voice-over alongside an array of musicality. Two remixes accompany the original, both excellent, with Farid Odilbekov’s rugged bass fuelled version feeling particularly tempting, as indeed is August Artier’s sizzling, percussion-packed take that never fails but to excite with the keys and voice all adding extra punch in context.
The first thing that strikes you about Yulia Niko’s excellent new EP, apart from being excellent, is the sheer emotional intensity it captures on the opening, Caminando. But also just how fresh it feels despite the instrumentation playing on the traditional elements of organ, drums and bass, all of which is contrasted by a haunting whir of radical electricity. What equally sets this apart, defining its own space, is the inclusion of Sil Romero’s free form vocal, which is complimented in turn via a remix from Cioz. Remaining originals are the breezy Paradise and the probing, smouldering Acid inflections of the first-rate Es Vedra. Another sublime release of self-defining sound from the artist.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty Rich. Let’s start with your new EP: The Four Slip co-produced alongside East End Dubs. Tell us about how you first met, the decision to work together, and what the title refers to?
Cheers and thanks for this chat! I am very happy and excited that East End Dubs and I finally got together to make and finish an EP. We first met when FUSE was still at 93 Feet East every week. It was the summer of 2012. I had been on Beatport that week buying new tunes when I came across his stuff. When I heard them and saw the look of the artwork, I was thinking ‘hold on a sec this must be someone out of our East London scene’ and sure enough he came and said hi that very Sunday. I was playing his tune Jazz Me, we got on and have stayed in touch ever since. It took a while before we got into the studio together and that good because when we did it was nice an easy and natural, good timing. The title refers to when we work in his studio, we would wear slippers, so two pairs of slippers became the Four Slip EP.
Your production style is very intense and feels like a rush of ideas all at once. Who and what have most influenced what you do in terms of Dance Music? And are there any artists or writers etc from outside of the electronic world that have impacted on you creatively?
I have been influenced by many different types of music, from rock to hardcore, jungle to pop and loads in-between. In the early 2000’s it was more about club music, different shades of progressive, then new wave electro, then minimal house. I always want my music to have an impact, both physically and emotionally. People get the same amount of listening pleasure from so many different styles of music so it’s important when writing to stretch the boundaries a bit and do things a little differently. That said it would be wrong of me to try and pretend that our music doesn’t have a framework. Some things just don’t work on our dancefloors, but nevertheless the parts of our brains that might interpret the grunge angst of a Pearl Jam song are the same as those which respond to the intricacies of a subtle bassline harmony in a minimal house record. The maths and science are the same and music and its effect on feelings can be really subtle in its execution.
Can you talk us through the process of co-creating one of the tracks from the EP, including any software/ hardware that you like to use?
We just went into the studio and dived in. He had a basic loop that he was working on. I find it’s always better to start a collaboration with a loop, just to break the ice. We’d go through software, plug-ins and techniques that we enjoy using and as we talked and showed each other stuff, the track layers naturally started to build up. We left quite a long time before getting together again for another couple of sessions where we reviewed everything and started to realise the path of the tracks and way take forward to completion I really like using Native Instruments Battery 4, particularly for adding touches of percussion and FX to an almost finished track as glue to help the flow and feel. Whenever I am in the studio with a friend, I like to go through this piece of my arsenal.
In terms of the Art of production. Do you feel Dance Music is in a good place? And what are your thoughts on the function of nostalgia in it all?
I am really excited about where my dance music scene is. All of my label mates from FUSE and INFUSE are producing incredibly diverse, well produced beats with dancefloor impact. I am being sent loads of interesting music and taking it to DJ with real excitement. On the next What NxT Various Artists, I’ll be featuring as always tracks from established artists (Cuartero, Kepler and Nico Maxen) alongside newcomers (Antss, Aaran D and Marvin Morgan).
Regarding nostalgia, like any music, our music’s relationship with nostalgia can be criticised. Nostalgia for me works on lots of different levels though. My party experience travels with me everywhere I go and I want to recreate the vibes I have experienced for other people. Music always goes around in cycles, sampling has been around since the inception of the technology getting caught up in too much discourse around this or the merits of bootlegs, or whether it’s right to take from a sound that’s gone before, kind of takes away from the fun of it all.
You have been resident and involved with the development of FUSE since its inception over ten years ago. What for you are the most vital ingredients for running a party? And what is the most special thing for you being a resident DJ, rather than playing as a guest somewhere?
The most vital ingredients for a party as simple for me. Sound, music, people, venue and security. These need to be right or the rest doesn’t work. The most special thing for me about being a resident is the long term knowing of your sound and development, that feeling ‘coming home to play’ to our home party crowd, now that we all tour regularly, is a good one too. The party started here so just as important that as we take the sound on the road to all the great parties around the world, we still supply it here, where it all started, otherwise what are we?
Tell us about your history with 93 Feet East and what makes the club so notable for you as part of the FUSE story? How was the recent Bank Holiday event?
93 was really important as part of the evolution of my musical style. Being able to take my early tracks down week by week and test for the brilliant crowd and atmosphere along with the other tracks I would be playing helped me to learn what my DJ’ing style really was. When we returned for the 10th birthday after party last year, with all the people who were there from the start, reminded us of where this all came from and also showed how its grown. The recent bank holiday INFUSE event when I played b2b with Rossko was another perfect reminder of how we can still take it back to the roots and it still feels just as right as if we take it to Amnesia or Tobacco Docks.
And finally. Tell us about any forthcoming plans? Have you been thinking about developing what you do via an album?
My forthcoming EP with East End Dubs is dropping on Fuse London on 14th June, a month later I have an EP on Sante’s AVOTRE. After the summer I will release my 7th solo EP on Fuse London and the 6th release on NxT records which for first time has remixes on the label. What NxT is going to be producing two digital releases this year with some absolute dancefloor gems. Alongside all of this, I have completed remixes for Steve Bug on Snatch and Darius Syrossian on Moxy. About a possible album I don’t currently have active plans to seek to make it anytime soon. That said if it happens, it happens. Gig wise I have lots of look forward to like Cocoon In the Park, FUSE at DC-10, Deeperfect at BPM, Mint Festival and loads more… Nice speaking! 🙂
The fabulous Italoboyz deliver typically infectious beats, rhythms and basslines direct to your sensory cells with this selection of music that invites you to engage, react and return. The haunting information posed via the trippy vocal lines of the title track has Midnight Summer Dream expand your mind and thought process with a teasing, tempting array of sonic possibilities reaching out towards fifteen minutes of finely tuned ecstasy. Yulia Niko’s brilliant remix follows suit yet alters the mood with an almost deeper, more intense succession of smoky drums cumulating in a rush of pulsating emotion around mid-point. Then, alongside Blind Minded, things take a turn for exhilaration in the shape of the Acid infused 5.05 which employs illuminating atmospheres together with taught, squelchy basslines reimagining a positive future past.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Marco and Federico. Let’s start with your new single: Midnight Summer Dream for Crosstown Rebels. How did your relationship with the Crosstown come about? And how important for you is it to have your music released on such a significant label?
Hi guys, it’s a pleasure to be here! We have known Damian for many, many years, and doing something together was just a matter of time, really… We have endless respect for him and his music, and for what Crosstown Rebels represents. It’s great to be able to finally have found something special that fits with the label.
Talk us through how the track was created, where the original ideas came from and the use of the spoken words?
The spoken words are a little bit of a mystery… the rest of the track was made by arpeggiating a very nice yet simple melody with a Korg Polysix. All the drums are made with the Roland 909 and with a Roland Handsonic, and then there are several other little random sounds that came from…somewhere. It came out spontaneously in a day, there’s no big deal behind this track, it was just one of those moments when things come up naturally and everything flows
Tell us about the choice of the brilliant Yulia Niko to remix Midnight Summer Dream? And how do you feel she has contributed to the track?
She is part of the Crosstown Rebels family and she did a very good job, her remix takes a completely different direction, and is a great addition to the release.
The second track: 5.05 AM was created along with Blind Minded. And reaches an amazing seventeen plus minutes. You also mentioned experimenting with guitars and pedals in that process, which ones appealed to you most? And how did it feel using an organic instrument such as a guitar as opposed to a synthesizer?
We have a quite long history of making music with organic elements and different instruments…. We’ve collaborated with many musicians in the past, including drummers, bass guitarist, guitars, violin players, trumpet players, etc), I could name dozen of songs we did by recordings musical elements and then adding our own twist, our FXs, our “touch”. We always did and we will always continue doing it. Watch out also for March, we are going to release on This and That Label a collaboration we did with a guy who plays Hang.
Listening to your recent mix for bloop. radio you impressively cross a diverse selection of genres and moods. Tell us a little about your personal philosophy when it comes to DJ’ing and your thoughts on breaking rules and boundaries?
Bloop radio is run by an amazing team, they give me total freedom on music selection. I l constantly listen to many music genres, and Bloop is the right place to melt them together. When it comes to being a DJ, the main approach is making sure you know exactly where you are. The idea behind the Bloop show is to deliver on the first part of the show a blend of less clubby oriented music, more suitable for an afternoon and the second part more dancy. Same for Dj gigs in clubs or festivals: a dj-set varies, depending on many factors (type of crowd, time, size of the club, how long we are going to play and few others). Breaking rules, being different and taking risks is something that every DJ j should do, in our opinion. But you must be in control of what you are doing and be able to understand when you and the crowd are on the same page. It’s actually one of the best feelings ever, when you know you own it, you feel you are in control of the situation. The same record/tune can either empty the dance- floor or can make people travel to the moon, it just depends on….you.
Who are your most important influences both within and outside of the world of electronic music? And are there any particular writers or creative artists which most appeal to you?
Martin Margiela is a great artist, not just a designer but a full on an artist (in fact in this days he is a painter). He took everything that was already there, he deconstructed and reconstructed, he never showed his face and at a certain point decided that he said what he has to say and he disappeared completely. Same for Bill Drummond & Jimmy Cauty better know as THE KLF. They Became number one on UK charts with a record made out of already existing records, they wrote a manual about how to do a number one chart song. On 23 August 1994, The KLF – one of Britain’s most incendiary bands, in more ways than one – burned £1m on a remote Scottish island. They then vowed to put their careers on hold for 23 years. So at 23 seconds past midnight on Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017 they made their comeback with a book, launch in Liverpool, called 2023: a trilogy.In all this year they were doing lots of fine art pieces, all secretly. The duo were greeted by 500 fans as they arrived at the News From Nowhere book shop in an ice cream van that played their hit What Time Is Love? and O Sole Mio. HOW CRAZY/COOL IS THAT!?! ☺ ALSO, A special mention also must be given to Futurism in general… We’ve been milking from those early 1900 poets and artists so much across the years, and also… the vocal of Midnight Summer Dream – that you were asking me about is also, somehow, related to Futurism
How would you describe Superfiction Recordings and what are your forthcoming plans for the label?
Superfiction always wanted to be something that encapsulates our different taste for electronic music, our own space where we don’t need to await any external filter, but we do exactly what we want. It’s born like that and will always be like that. The plan is to keep releasing our music, but with an eye on other people and eventually, more and more collaborations with other dj/producers who we respect and we are inspired by.
Yulia’s imaginative use of sounds which appear at just the right moments lift this way beyond the usual repeating rhythm tracks. Yes, the rolling bass and raw drums all produce that addictive sense of wanting more, but it’s actually the introduction of simmering Acid lines alongside an unexpected, yet resolutely stunning, breakdown which set Cheap Story cleverly apart. The equally fiery, Not For Everyone follows again playing with acceptable notions while letting creative fever run free via more hot Acid this time complimented by the rush of emotive chords, which only heighten the levels of intrigue. Either way a great release.
Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty, Yulia. Let’s start by asking how living in and then moving between Russia, America, and Berlin has informed what you do in terms of sound and also your approach to life?
Hello Sixty, and thank you so much for having me. Always cool when a DJ can talk to people instead of just sharing music.
My favorite approach is thinking, “If you want be creative, you need to forget about all fears.” Meaning, fears about moving from place to place, or not being supported by people, or that your art is just not good enough. Just forget about all of it and try to do something. Sometimes it actually might not be good, but there is always time to improve, study, and learn from mistakes.
I’m girl from a very small town in the South of Russia, and somehow I was born with the brain of an international traveler. When I was seven years old and went to school, we had French class, and I loved it when the teacher would call me Juli, because I knew I’d become an adult and go travel around the world someday.
Anyway, music became a lever for my traveling and I made the decision to leave Russia after five years of DJ experience there. With very bad English and almost no savings in my account, I traveled across the ocean to New York, where I started to make serious changes in my life. I went to music production school and met the best artists and people from the industry. Now I’m in Berlin and all of it is hitting me more and more. I always keep my funky housey sound, but I’m improving it with every move I make from country to country, because each has its own music history, which I study and learn a lot from.
Your excellent new single: Casa en el Agua for Rebellion (Crosstown Rebels) feels like an amalgamation of creative processes. Can you talk us through where the initial ideas came from and about how you then produced them as music, including any favourite pieces of software / hardware you like to refer to?
“Casa en el Agua” is actually a real place that exists in the middle of the Caribbean off of Colombia. It’s an incredibly unique place. I had the chance to be part of an evening with Archie Hamilton, Niklas Stadler, Serdal and many more DJs. We had to travel for three days to get there. I just recorded some sounds of birds during the night on my phone. I record a lot of stuff on my phone that I can sample afterwards and use as inspiration in my music. After almost a year I found this recording and was just playing around with it and some other samples I recorded from machines. It was all super quick. Maybe two hours and the track was finished. I’ve learned that if you sit down and make something quickly, it’s always the best idea. If you spend a lot of time and go back to process again and again, the track will never sound good or be released.
I’m very happy now about the new Ableton 10, still using a lot of Minilogue by Korg, Electron MKII, along with the perfect work of the Apollo interface — it all makes it sound very nice.
Who are your main influences both within and outside of the world of electronic music? Any particular writers, musicians, painters you admire?
I can’t mention artists like Michael Jackson or Madonna, actually inspiration for all the last tracks I’ve made for Crosstown and Hottrax. I really like to read Paulo Coelho, I do like modern, trippy art, but I can’t point to anyone in particular.
Listening to you DJ, you touch upon many different styles. Can you choose three tracks which highlight that variation for us?
Absolutely. These are three tracks I play all the time. You can see the transaction between disco, techno, and acid minimal. How about that?
Nick Minieri – Heat Index (Original Mix) [Soul Clap Records]
How important do you think it is for a DJ to keep moving forward with new sounds? And how would you describe the way in which instrumentation is so prevalent now (and how people react to rhythms), as opposed to the song-based sets of the past?
Creating something new has always been important. Our ears react right away to new sounds. I think right now this is the main purpose of the DJ/producer. Before, we were only focused on new records, and making a perfect transition during the set. Now, we’re spending days at the studio trying to create something unique that will make us different from all the others and give us our own sound. Just now a Ukrainian producer, iO (Mulen), comes to mind. I’m so proud of Eastern European artists, and how many quality projects have been released in the last few years. This guy created his own sound and I’m sure everyone can recognize him right away.
You also have a track: Cheap Story forthcoming on Jamie Jones’ Hottrax. How important has it been for you to have music released on such prestigious labels? And can you tell us about how the track came to be signed, and about the Acid influence in there?
It was made together with “Casa en el Agua.” I had a break in January from everything and was just making a little album. Honestly, I sat down and asked myself who I wanted to send tracks to first, after I was done with it all. I was focused on Jamie and his sound, so in the end it was easy. I sent tracks to him and he picked two of them right away. I guess the key is to always focus on something and believe you can get it, no matter what.
I think now’s a time of a new wave of Acid basslines on tracks. I’m really enjoying it and just trying to use it as much as I can.
And finally, besides your busy touring schedule, what are you looking forward to for the remainder of this year and into next?
I’m excited for the little tour with Damian Lazarus for the Spirits 2 album on Crosstown Rebels in November. It will be my debut at Watergate and couple of places around Europe. Very nice EP “Acid Meow” on Get Physical by the end of the year. And I’m just going to spend most of my time at the studio in Berlin after a very intense summer season at Ibiza. Let’s see what happens for me and where my destiny brings me in the end.