Dino Lenny’s most recent releases have been statements of intent. I’ve Learned That, talks that same language with a refreshingly, direct breath. On this occasion fuelling the words are rugged bass and resilient, jazzy reflections landing in the shape of emotive piano chords. Soulfully loaded, filled with timely lessons for life enhanced by the innate power of the music, both punching points home. Remixes come with his own funkier version along with Fed Conti, a hugely energised Shadow Child, plus a stripped down Jonathan Kaspar take that explores as much as it penetrates.
The message is in the music. Music being the key word here. Playful, jazzy, certainly sassy this hot combination of rhythm and words does so divinely as they celebrate their favourite Portuguese beach club, Yamba. Next is the remix of Ashes of Snow from Clive Henry who explodes the tempo while lending the production a much deeper, moodier feel that works beautifully with stinging hi-hats alongside driving bass and keys. Second track, On The Banks of The River then returns to more Balearic climes to end via its breezy, shuffling grooves and echoes of primetime Talking Heads.
A great piece of music that sparkles with not only a resolutely powerful sense of instrumentation but shines equally via its collaboration of voices from both parties eliciting a yearning, full of possibility moment. The desired effect is heightened further with the image of stadium filled unity capturing that sense of uplifting melancholy which chimes so notably with the times we live in. Indeed, this actually feels like you’re listening to a band playing rather than a pre-programmed fist-pumping robot, which is greatly rewarding in itself.
There’s little doubt as to the strength of this production as heartfelt, soulful emotions resonate from every pour, and in days like these that’s precisely what we need. Inspired by a speech given by Lauryn Hill the touch paper is ignited via rolling currents of electrical impulses gently yet intently gathering pace. You kind of want this to go on forever as it reaches out towards an open-ended conclusion, but then that is the power of good music. The chunkier Kaleidoscope featuring MC Coppa concludes employing more robust bass and a darker tension which draws you into its expectation.
Welcome to Sixty Magazine, Ae: ther. Where in the world are you right now and can you tell us what is happening in that part of the world regarding Covid-19?
Thanks for having me here. At the moment I am in Berlin and the situation after a bit of initial panic I must say that it is under control and I feel very lucky to be here at, unfortunately not all countries have the same strength as Germany.
Does the situation lend itself to being creative / productive, or not? Are you night-time or daytime person when it comes to making music?
Yes, I think so, it all started obviously when I was very young, my family has always been very rigid in the arts and especially in encouraging children to do something constructive. Fortunately, the music came by itself and the productive and creative moment today is something that comes naturally after years spent in the studio looking for something fresh to create. The inspiration varies, it is not always there but when it comes, it has to be grasped. When the songs arrive it must be written immediately or “hindsight they fade and never returnâ€ â€¦a lyric part of Vasco Rossi’s old song.
Your excellent new single (lifted from last year’s album: Me) for Crosstown Rebels is called We’ll Be Together. What does the title signify for you in 2020?
It is certainly very important for people especially in these days to convey in something positive that gives hope for a good omen and a return to hug each other soon. The title was given for another personal reason that I was living a year ago but now, that has taken a key meaning, alone we are worth nothing, alone it is also difficult to work or anything, and therefore the hope is to return soon all together.
Can you talk us through how you produced the title track? Are there any favorite pieces of software / hardware you always like to use?
So all my colleagues and friends laughed at least once reading the absolutely crazy titles that I give to my projects even if I have to say that I have improved now. One day a label manager of a very large label wrote me saying “We really like this piece and we would like to release it. It’s called” Fresh6stes1.2ripresaaudio2.3.4 can you send it etc etc? “ Often the titles are just notes, to write something fast because many times the right title doesn’t come out instantly. For some songs, however, the title comes out on its own because it is as if I already feel that the song is speaking to me and suggesting the title. I don’t have any favorite hardware or software, I always like to experiment. Mostly I have hardware like the Elektron or the sh 101 or the Eurorack that I use often but it depends on the song and on the moment.
What type of speakers do you use to listen to music on?
I am using the Adam 4×4 which is the type of small cone listening, while the 20/20 events which are a more bigger I use for the mix part or to listen recordsâ€¦ ..
You have lived in Rome, Berlin and London. I was wondering how you compare those cities as places to call home and to work in (before the virus)?
Each city is different, in each of those I have reached a different workflow with different people and different experiences, even the periods are to be considered because there has been an evolution on myself. at the moment I can consider Berlin home, because it was what I needed, tranquility, relaxation but with the right dose of art and inspiration that is felt in the air and that helps me a lot in the musical and non-musical work flow. In the other cities where I have been I have found very interersting moments and places but mostly more stress and loss of time than anything else, so for now I feel good, I am happy.
How do you think life, culture and the electronic music scene will alter? Will making a living as an artist change in any way?
Unfortunately yes, something is already changing, and things that seemed normal to us like a hug or a handshake are prohibited, we are in a state of emergency that I think is going too far and the gov is forcing people to stay at home against their will by controlling it, we could consider it a little dictatorial â€¦ In music or art in general we would see many more conversations, DJ sets or anything else recurring in streaming and many more videos of amateur DJs sets, maybe even radio shows that you can why not buy online and have your personal party at home and dance alone or with family. It will afflict many artists and musicians and all those who work in the background and in my account till the frontieres will be close. I have already started doing external works and collaborations to be able to earn something more outside of the partyies, probably one day we will get out of this horrible lockdown, and I really don’t like to be negative and i’ve must to be objective and so there will be worst things that await us, the earth is becoming very fragile and will turn against usâ€¦ ..
Outside of your usual set of influences have you discovered any new artists, writers, musicians etc which have recently caught your attention? Has not being in nightclubs or at festivals resulted in looking for different things to explore?
Yes of course the search is greater because time increases in the studio, I try to listen to vintage stuff, or something completely different that is difficult to find, but I discovered a new artist in particular, it is called ADWER purely this piece “OVERTURE”, let’s see what will happen nextâ€¦.
And finally. Can you tell us about your forthcoming plans for moving forward?
I am working for several ep and some few collaboration, but nothing I can say atm, just stay tuned!
Crosstown Rebels has remained a potent source of inspiration for many years now and this latest release from respected artists Dubfire feat. Carl Craig fits the bill nicely. Lotus, also has the pleasure of Kate Elsworth’s breathy vocal delivery which adds fire to the production that is in itself already smouldering, tempting you into an alternative reality. A fine piece of music with an array of subtle keys punctuating the heady rhythms and shuffling percussive motifs producing richly rewarding, beautifully atmospheric sounds. A Dub version follows, then it’s down to Tibi Dabo who provides a lusciously deep rendition which equally tugs at your emotions, while sequencing a slice of pure instrumental magic on the outro.
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, D.Ramirez. Let’s begin with your new single with Denney, â€˜Raven’ for Crosstown Rebels. What is the significance of that particular bird as a choice for the title?
Thanks for having me. I live near Victoria Park in London and I walk through there every day on my way to my studio; one day I noticed that the only bird I see in that park is the Raven and there are hundreds of them, and only them. One day I saw I guy in a car feeding them and there were literally thousands of them around the car. I wondered if they come from the Tower Of London where they are kept and that’s where the fascination started, Raven being an aptly titled name for the track.
What do you think the collaborative process brings to creating music compared with doing it solo? Can you tell us about how the two of you worked on the project, and talk us through how one of the tracks was made?
Working with a collaborative partner is totally different to working on your own and as such the process is also different. I find it takes a lot longer to get the track right as you have to think about the other person you’re with and their tastes and agendas. We work really slowly and how it works is Denney will come into my studio with an idea, or a vocal, or some sounds – then we sketch it out, take it away, we play it out to a few people and then we come back. This can go on for years!
Still I Rise, contains a vocal with a powerful message. Do you feel there is enough of that in dance music today?
We have a duty as humans to bring to light the struggles and the messages of our fellow people for the sake of evolving human consciousness and the poem from May Angelou is such a beautiful message, delivered with such sass and confidence, it resonates far beyond the words she speaks. Dance music is great a tool for delivering such a message and hopefully her words will resonate with even more people around the globe.
The faceboook picture of your studio shows you surrounded by synthesizers. How long did it take to build up the collection? Which was the most difficult to get hold of, and which one do you use most often?
I have been collecting synths for around 40 years, some have been sold, others are recent and new. My favourite is my original Korg MS20 which is over 40 years old now! I have a Roland SH101 that I borrowed (and never gave back) from my best mate back in 1983 and I still have it to this day in the east same condition it was when I got it. The one I use all the time is the new Sequential Prophet 6 and you’ll hear it all over any of my tracks. It’s an absolute beast!
Outside of Club music who are your most important influences? Are there any writer’s, painters etc who have had an impact on what you do creatively?
I’m very much into spirituality and consciousness and one of my main influences is Dr Wayne Dyer who’s message changed my life back in 2006 when I was introduced to him by my ex. He himself introduced me to another amazing guy called David R Hawkins who’s book â€˜Power Verse Force’ led me to another place in my life where everything changed. I live my life in a conscious, mindful way, and I no longer care what others think of me which has made working in the music industry far less challenging and I’m now free to express my creativity without worry of people liking what I do, or not.
Tell us about growing up in Sheffield and the music you encountered there? Any particular club nights you went to which left an impression?
Sheffield is an amazing place and back in the 80’s as I was growing up we had such a vibrant electronic music scene with bands such as The Human League, ABC, Cabaret Voltaire, Heaven 17 which heavily influenced the music I write today. In the late 80’s very early 90’s Warp Records started and had a club night where the DJ’s that worked at Warp Records played, the club was Occasions and the night was called Club Superman and honestly (speaking through rose tinted specs of course) was THE BEST night I have EVER experienced. Nothing has will ever come close to how good the music was there and the early Warp Records scene was and still is mind blowing!
What is the most important advice you would give to someone new to producing in terms of making their own studio, and also in terms of perseverance in today’s industry?
Quite simple – believe in yourself, don’t care what others say, don’t look for the validation of others, work hard and never give up, do it for the love and not for the fame.
And finally. Can you share with us any plans for moving into 2020?
I’m continuing to make music for the sheer pleasure of it while not putting so much pressure on myself so watch this space and let’s see what comes out. Thanks for the wonderful interview and thanks for having me.
There’s something about this production as it captures feelings not necessarily so sweet though clearly epic in proportion. Wild, abandon infuses the arrangement as the click of punctuating drums add a well-crafted funkiness into the rhythm section, leaving space for the smouldering bassline to shine in dark bliss. The atmospherics, which are rich and heavy, cumulate in the sort of ecstatic breakdown sound systems were primed for as the pulse of classic Detroit runs throughout. Raven is an edgy yet sublime slice of music supplying the luxury of forward thinking, finely tuned ideas feverishly into the forthcoming decade. Still I Rise, continues the theme this time with deliberately evocative voices spelling out a familiar message, yet always potent. The bass once again bites complimenting the compelling drums as electronics are suitably warped into submission.
What does music mean to you? Is it a collection of sounds signifying a certain feeling, or a location in time? Or perhaps it’s the distortion of reality you find all the more appealing? Whatever it does, it does have to transcend time. It has to feel the same way then as now. Afterall, that’s how good music lasts as seconds decay. Smoke The Monster Out was first released in 2009 on Get Physical and listening again to the two title tracks sparks the imagination all over again. Moment, regenerates that fuzzy, buzzy sense of probing uncertainty which excites as its intro builds, minus drums, into a joyous expectation soon to be offset by darker percussive, synthesized moods. New versions now also appear from Adam Port who transports it via heavier beats, while retaining the delicate piano and voiced melodies. And from Satori whose punctuating rhythms shuffle off into eastern climes care off sumptuous stringed instrumentation. Next, the short blast of Diamond In The Dark chimes acoustically like Pink Floyd mangled, and is now accompanied by Tibi Dabo’s future reaching, tougher interpretation exploring the rigorous imagination posed by the original recording. And somewhat beautifully too.
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