Let’s start with the Art as the cover is the very first thing to grab your attention. Designed by Lyon-based street artist, Brusk the incendiary nature of the image matches the driven rhythms occupying Cook Strummer’s excellent selection inside. What sets this compilation aside is the exciting diversity of the music along with the different moods and atmospheres realised. Vocals are touched upon, heavy drums explored and futuristic synthesizers expanded all in the course of this explosive journey that never loses sight of the dancefloor, or for that matter the emotional thought process underlying it.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Cook Strummer. What struck me about the music you have released to date is just how varied it has been starting with Memories back in 2014 and more recently this year’s club fuelled, Atmosphere. How important is being musically diverse for you as an artist?
Thanks for having me, Sixty ! About the variety of styles I released so far, my music journey has been quite a ride. I started more than 20 years ago, playing rock’n roll with bands and touring. I moved to Berlin 10 years ago, that’s when my music changed, and slowly switched from live recorded productions/sets (with a band), to analog live sets, and finally to a hybrid setup.
Musical diversity in my case is a synonym of adaptation. Adapting to a momentum, a time frame, in order to reinvent myself. I have respect for everyone out there who has the guts to express its individuality, no matter what type of music. That’s my current mindset. Respect, assimilate, adapt.
Do you feel that modern electronic music can lack the power of voice and words to convey meaning, given that they are so often not used in favour of instrumentals? Tell us about the process of how you write words for music – do you have a particular microphone you use to record vocals?
Modern electronic music is so vast ! Business techno tracks often include just a couple of words, while house music is sometimes built around meaningful vocals. I personally come from Rock music, singing and writing songs represent the core of my musical journey. When I start a new track, very early in the process, I spontaneously drop words / sentences and most of the time these are final, defining the main story line. Each song I write is inter-connected with the others, like a big puzzle. But I have been writing songs since I’m 14 years old, and the topics I approach (spirituality, self-development, clubbing, etc.) are part of an ongoing lifetime’s work. I record most of my vocals at home with a Rode NT2-A.
Your forthcoming selection for Get Physical’s, Berlin Gets Physical series begins with For Berlin. Can you talk us through how this track was created (or another one from the album) including any favourite hardware / software you like to use?
‘For Berlin’ is a track I’ve made to pay my respect to the city I’ve been living in for 10 years. It’s about partying, being in a club with friends and not being able to leave. ‘Last round’ refers to the ‘last drink’ before leaving, leading automatically to another dance, then another drink. And in Berlin, the clubs usually stay open for days, so it can be an endless circle if the party is good 🙂
I produce mainly with VSTs and Ableton these days, except for the basslines (I record my Fender Rascal bass), guitars (Fender Stratocaster) and vocals (Rode NT2-A)
What is the story behind the stunning cover artwork?
Glad you like the cover ! This collection will come digitally but also as two different vinyl versions – one will be available publicly, the other is a special edition. The artwork has been produced in collaboration with the Belgian gallery, Mazel Galerie. The cover art for it was designed by Lyon-based street artist Brusk and the original will be auctioned by the same gallery in Brussels.
Do you think Dance/ electronic music is in a healthy place creatively? What effect do you think nostalgia has on the creative process?
I think there’s never been SO MUCH music out there. I find it amazing. The way we can find music instantly, look back, trace the evolution of micro genres… So many references, it became like a huge melting pot. My recent releases are representative of this momentum, digging in many references, creating something new, with a hint of nostalgia for cold wave / post punk. Nostalgia to my point of view is analogic reasoning, being self conscious about references that shaped personal musical backgrounds, and embracing these.
What are the origins of OBSOLET? How was it set-up and what is the philosophy behind it?
OBSOLET is a crew and record label from Berlin, composed of Max Joni, SoKool, Mukkimiau, Dan Buri, Marvin Jam, Modshape and myself. Nothing is OSBOLET, everything is.
When did you first start playing guitar and who influenced you? Which guitar is your favourite to play?
I started playing guitar when I was 13 years old. Before that, I played piano from 6 years old till 12, classical and Jazz. My parents told me that if I keep up till I become 12 years old, I can choose my instrument. I used to be obsessed with Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, the songwriting and the atmosphere they managed to create. I also was influenced quite early by The Clash, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Joy Division, Black Sabbath, Motor Head…
The Telecaster was my first fancy guitar, I played it for 10 years, then I switched to the Stratocaster due to its sound versatility.
Detroit Gets Physical is almost the beginning and the end of this review because the title says it all. Touching upon many different bases this selection of readymade gems sees the music flit excitingly between the soulful to the downright dangerous. Opening with DJ One Five’s own superb – Love on Dexter Ave the numbers include tracks from Laurent Chanal – Carbon (Vince Watson’s breath-taking Reshape Part 1+2) through to the delicious looped intensity of Gino – Dam I Wrong. Plus with excursions from the likes of Roland Leesker/ Scan7, GPU Panic and Biz it’s hard to beat the consistently high grade on offer.
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 â€˜Elegy’ signed with Get Physical (big brother label of Kindisch) coming out early 2020. A few months down the road, we had â€˜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 â€˜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 â€˜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?
â€˜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 GonzÃ¡lez IÃ±Ã¡rritu, 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 â€˜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 â€“ 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.
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