News

Jungle & drum n bass champions Serial Killaz headline Electrikal, Friday 24th Jan

24 January 2020 -

We’re excited to be welcoming jungle & drum n bass champs Serial Killaz to the Bongo this weekend.  Here’s a wee interview courtesy of the We Love Jungle website where they talk about their love for the sound.

What does Jungle mean to you?

A 20+ year-old sound that encompasses many styles of music due to the history of sampling and borrowing from other genres of music and working it into a different, faster tempo. It is the origin of what is now known as Drum & Bass. It is a vibe. It was always about the samples and vibes already captured in the music. Now all these years on, artists are writing original works with Jungle and the goal is always to capture a vibe that has soul to it, just like all the samples have.

Has your approach to DJing changed since you first started out?

Yes, when I first was DJing many moons ago now, I used to prepare all my sets and want everything to go perfectly. With more experience of different clubs and set-ups, I realized it was far better to freestyle and go with the flow of the club system and crowd. Some systems don’t produce enough bass, so certain tunes just don’t sound the same and my sets are adjusted to the sound system. I also like to be able to play the odd request, especially if it’s one of our own productions being requested, as I feel that gives a great connection to the fans. Ten or so years ago, I was playing out under my solo name, Vital Elements, a lot. When the Serial Killaz bookings came in, I would change the style I usually played, and I really saw a change in the vibe of the dance floor when incorporating more Jungle style and vocal lead tracks. This was a big influence in the sound I wanted to push more, as that certain vibe captured by Jungle really does make the dance floor a nicer place.

Where in the world do you think the best Jungle crowd is?

I’ve played to so many great crowds over the world, it would be unfair and too difficult to choose.

What’s your top Jungle tune to play out at the moment?

Our remix of ‘Professional Ganja Smoker’ has been getting a great reaction for some time, as is our yet-to-be finished collab with Jaguar Skillz (that) we’ve been testing, but I still think the most powerful track has to be Congo Natty’s “Code Red.” in any of its various forms. We’ve been lucky enough to remix it and have recently updated it too, they always go off, as does the original 20 years on.

What up-and-coming DJs and producers are impressing you?

Upgrade and his brother Limited have been very impressive. And of course our young mentees RunTingz, who have come on leaps and bounds since we took them on and got them in the studio for some vital training.

Describe your creative process in the studio?

It depends on what we are working on but it can usually be boiled down to catching that elusive vibe I keep mentioning: you gotta find the hook, be it a vocal, melody, rhythm, or groove.

How would you describe your sound at the moment?

Modern day Jungle

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?

Classical and differently tuned world music.

If DJing wasn’t your job, what would it be?

A chef, like I used to be.

Any new projects coming up?

Stacks, collaborations, remixes, original works…too many to mention. Just keep an eye out for any release with the name Serial Killaz in it – there will be plenty.

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Legendary Metalheadz co-founder DJ Storm headlines NYE at the Bongo for SSL XL

31 December 2019 -
We’re excited to be welcoming one of the founders of the legendary Metalheadz drum n bass label, DJ Storm, as she headlines SSL XL’s NYE event.  This recent feature by Becca Inglis for Dazed Digital back in January gives you the full back-story….
The story of Kemistry and Storm, the unsung pioneers of drum & bass.  20 years ago, the Metalheadz duo released their seminal DJ-Kicks mix – here, Goldie, B.Traits, Mumdance and more reflect on their legacy.

In our Under the Influence series, we trace the ideas of underground artists, designers, labels, and collectives, and the impact that they’ve had on pop culture as we know it, examining how the revolutionary aesthetics and attitudes of outsiders make their way into the mainstream – and importantly, how much that should be valued and not forgotten.

Kemistry and Storm hold an almost mythical status in the drum & bass scene. Their mid-90s sets captured their flair behind the decks, defined by an unparalleled track selection, long, carefully crafted mixes, and a potent chemistry between the two DJs that spurred the crowd on. “I knew they were bound for stardom,” says Goldie, who established the Metalheadz label with help from the two DJs and gifted them with their first set of turntables. “They would mix it, man. They were holding shit, arranging the drops, they would drop again into another double drop. They were underrated, and they were just so much darker.”

Kemistry (Valerie Olukemi A. Olusanya, or “Kemi”) and Storm (Jayne Conneely) both grew up in Kettering, a small town in the UK’s East Midlands, and would together help shape Metalheadz into one of drum & bass’s most notorious record labels. They inspired a new generation of DJs with their 1999 contribution to the DJ-Kicks series, a 17-track, one-hour mix that’s at times dark and dystopian, at others smooth and melodic. But their trajectory was tragically cut short when, just three months after DJ-Kicks came out, a freak car accident took Kemi’s life. “Kemi had always tried to find something where she could be who she was, and look like she was, and achieve something – and that was in DJing drum & bass,” says Conneely. “She’d found it and she was so content. She always said, ‘I just want to make a difference.’ And you know, that’s what we have on her plaque. ‘DJ Kemistry, she wanted to make a difference.’ And she did.”

Olusanya first introduced Conneely to rave culture in 1988, after Conneely, fresh from studying in Oxford, had qualified as a radiographer and moved to London to look for work. In need of a place to stay, Conneely took up Olusanya’s offer to split the rent on her bedroom in a Finsbury Park townhouse, where her friend proceeded to bombard her with the sounds of pirate radio stations. Conneely had so far missed the underground dance scene, but through Olusanya’s recommendations she discovered a love for the art of mixing. Together, they began practising on Olusanya’s Amstrad system, holding their thumbs over the belt drive to get their records in time. “We started getting really obsessed with raving and buying vinyl,” Conneely says. “We were kind of asking ourselves the question, how can we be with this music 24/7?”

Then Olusanya started dating Goldie, after he spotted her working in Red Or Dead on his cycle route to Camden. At the time, he was known as a graffiti artist, and had just returned home from painting and exhibiting in the US. While ravers were holding their second Summer of Love in the UK, he had been busy immersing himself in America’s burgeoning hip hop scene. Olusanya and Conneely took him to Fabio & Grooverider’s party Rage, credited as the incubator for early jungle music, at London nightclub Heaven, where he got his first taste for hardcore. “The tunes that these two were playing were the catalyst for Kemi and Storm,” Goldie says. “Kemi was the Fabio, Storm was more the Grooverider. I realised how passionate they were about these guys. I kind of related to that because of my passion for hip hop DJs.”

Goldie was quickly assimilated into this harder and faster genre of music, joining his friends every Thursday at Rage then piling back to their flat for afters. Olusanya and Conneely dragged their Binatone and Amstrad Midi-systems into one room, where they practiced mixing their huge bank of records. “That was my introduction,” says Goldie. “They introduced me to absolutely everybody that was making music in the way that I wanted to.” It was here, in the small hours, that he shared his dream for the trio: he would make the music, Kemistry and Storm would DJ, and they would all be united under one iconic drum & bass label. He paid for their first proper set of decks in 1991 off the back of his first EP, The Ajax Project, and set up Metalheadz in 1994. A year later, the Blue Note in Hoxton offered Metalheadz what would become the label’s legendary Sunday night residency, where they pushed a tougher sound to an increasingly international crowd. Goldie became busier when London Records signed him to produce his seminal album Timeless, and in 1995, he asked Kemistry and Storm to help manage the label.

“I think they were a big part of me getting on Metalheadz,” says Steve Carr, better known as Digital, who made his debut for the label in 1996 and has maintained a tight relationship with them since. “I wasn’t the obvious thing, and neither were they. I’d make one or two of the regular amen tracks, but then I’d make some quirky stuff. And they were into it, they championed me.” Kemistry and Storm helped foster a community of drum & bass devotees who were pushing the genre in new directions. They handled the promotion and A&R for classic tracks like Dillinja’s “The Angels Fell” and J Majik’s “Your Sound”, and hosted meetings where they offered advice to the label’s young producers, helping to steer the musical direction of a song or deciphering which DJs should be given the next release. “They always looked out for artists,” says Digital. “Not just in a music sense, but the people. That’s what made Metalheadz. They got that family vibe. They literally pulled people together.”

DJ Flight is best known in the drum & bass scene for her show The Next Chapter on BBC Radio 1xtra, but she hadn’t even considered DJing when she first encountered Kemistry and Storm. She was transfixed when she caught them at the SW1 Club in Victoria when she was just 17. “I was just staring at them, watching what they were doing,” Flight says. “One of the guys that I was out with came over and said, ‘That will be you in five years time.’” After that, Flight turned up to every gig she could, and with her heroes’ encouragement, created her first two mixtapes. Her big break came one night at Swerve, Fabio’s drum & bass night at The Velvet Rooms, when Kemistry and Storm asked her to make a tape they could give to Goldie. “They said, ‘We want to bring in a new girl into the camp and we think you’re ready,’” she says. But Kemi died shortly afterwards, and Flight only heard Goldie’s feedback months later when she bumped into him at a Metalheadz night in Camden. “He said, ‘Kemi and Jayne think you’re good. That means you’re good. Let’s give you a go,’” she says. By coincidence, Flight’s first set with Metalheadz was also one of Storm’s first gigs since the accident. At the end of the night, she gifted Flight with Kemistry’s decks.

“For women especially, to see somebody like you up there, it’s definitely inspirational,” says Alicia Bauer, aka Alley Cat, who started DJing in San Francisco and now manages her own label named Kokeshi. She met Olusanya and Conneely when she came to support one of their gigs in Germany, and later moved to London where she and Flight both became residents at Feline, a night promoting women in drum & bass that Conneely ran at Herbal in 2007. Alongside artists like Miss Pink, Mantra, and MC Chickaboo, they targeted the gender balance in lineups by filling both the upstairs and downstairs with women DJs and helped to create a space that prioritised women ravers in a male-dominated scene. “The great thing about it is that a lot of girls came out to our night, so it got skewed more toward the female audience,” says Alley Cat.

“Kemi had always tried to find something where she could be who she was, and look like she was, and achieve something – and that was in DJing drum & bass. She’d found it and she was so content” – DJ Storm

Kemistry and Storm’s contribution to drum & bass is crystallised in their DJ-Kicks compilation, which sits in a club culture hall of fame alongside entries into the series by Carl Craig, Four Tet, and Nina Kraviz. The series curators, the record label !K7, hunted for the duo for two years before they finally tracked them down in 1998, when a mutual acquaintance introduced them while walking the streets of Miami. “I thought they were very brave to back Kemi and myself,” says Conneely. “We were women in a male-dominated scene, even though we were doing well in our careers. It was nice to see that they had no bias and they just thought we were the best at what we do.”

Kemistry and Storm made a bold but fitting move for DJ-Kicks. Not only were they the first female duo to feature, theirs was also the first pure drum & bass and jungle entry on a predominantly house, techno, and downtempo-oriented series. “It was a Metalheadz vibe,” says Conneely. The pair seized the opportunity to showcase their favourite producers of that time. Their friendship with Goldie bestowed them a one-off version of “Hyaena”; a dubplate of DJ Die’s “Clear Skyz” illustrated the Bristol sound; and John B., J Majik, and Dillinja were some of the producers championed at Metalheadz. “It’s a good representation of that time,” says Digital, whose track “Mission Accomplished”, a collaboration with Spirit, appeared on the mix. “They covered a lot of the scene. It’s a good album to look to for a bit of proper history for the drum & bass scene and the different artists involved.”

“I’ve never rinsed a CD so hard in my entire life,” says B. Traits, the Canadian DJ who joined Shy FX’s Digital Soundboy label in 2007 and went on to host her own weekly slot on BBC Radio 1. She had just bought her first set of turntables when she listened to Kemistry and Storm’s compilation. “It wasn’t all the big tracks of that year. Every single track was excellent, and it was blended perfectly. Their skills as DJs cut through on that mix, as selectors and as master mixers. To actually see two female DJs that were successful was a game changer for me, especially when I could literally count on one hand the amount that I knew. And they were united. It was like, you can be a part of this crew and you don’t have to be a dude. You can be a part a movement.”

Kemistry and Storm styled themselves as one singular DJ, each retaining their own distinct style while sharing a box of vinyl between them – Storm was known for her deep, growling tunes, while Kemistry favoured more off-kilter sounds. Ordinarily they split their sets down the middle and they took turns to start or finish, but the DJ-Kicks album led them to create a more integrated mix. “We wanted as many artists that we cared about as possible to be on this album, so we had to break it down differently,” says Conneely. “I think that was a real true idea of how Kemistry and Storm work together.

But that union was abruptly severed just a few days after they returned from touring DJ-Kicks around America. On the drive back from a Southampton gig, a rogue cat’s eye, a reflective device used to mark out the centre of UK roads, came loose and flew through the windscreen. Olusanya was killed instantly. “We were very yin and yang, me and Kemi,” says Conneely. “We balanced each other out. So for me to lose half of myself… it was just so shocking.” When Storm returned to play a night run by V Recordings, she continued to split the set between Olusanya’s records and her own. “It was overwhelming at first,” she says, “but actually, it was the best thing I ever did, because it was the place I still felt Kemi. I’ve changed my style over the years to be more ‘Kemistry and Storm’ rather than just ‘Storm’. We were both brave, but I think Kemi was braver first to play that slightly more obscure tune.”

Conneely’s influence has now spread beyond drum & bass with the help of Mumdance, who saw Storm play with Kemistry when he snuck into Brighton’s Essential Music Festival at 13 years old. He’d never heard a DJ mix tracks live before, or experienced a sound system so loud. “That was probably the first dancefloor epiphany that I ever had. It was the first time I’d been physically hit in the face by sound,” Mumdance says. “The Metalheadz aesthetic, and that dark, dystopian dread that Storm specialises in, is probably the prime influence not only on what I do, but on what Pinch does, on what Logos does, and countless other producers.” Mumdance finally met Conneely at a Boiler Room showcase he hosted in 2014, where he invited some of the artists who’d most impacted his style over the years to perform. “She said it was quite pivotal to the next wave of her career,” he says. “A lot of kids who had never heard of her saw her come on deck and smash it. Now she’s been discovered by a whole new crowd.”

In today’s club culture, Storm gets to spread her dark and wild sound to multigenre events like Dimensions and Unsound festivals, and Mumdance’s label Different Circles’ nights. It’s an apt throwback to the genre’s origins, when Fabio and Grooverider were first mixing rave techno with breakbeat, watched by two fledgling DJs who were trying to emulate them at home. “We were like little sponges at the time,” Conneely says. “Fabio taught me how to tell a story, Grooverider taught me how to select. When Randall came along, he put the mixing into perspective. That is what we wanted to achieve, and I think we did. People started saying, ‘We love your style, it’s kind of the rough with the smooth.’ I think Kemistry and Storm took a little bit of everybody and made it into our own.”

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The Livity Sound crew take over the Bongo for Headset’s 5th Birthday Party, Friday 20th Dec

16 December 2019 -

We’re mighty excited to be welcoming (amost) the entire Livity Sound crew, from Bristol, for Headset’s 5th Birthday Party this Friday night.  Should be more than a wee bit special, not least as our festive 5am licence kicks in as well!

PeverelistHodgeBakongo (Roska), Anina and Danielle will join resident/promoter Skillis. TICKETS // FACEBOOK

The Skinny’s clubs scribe, Nadia Younes, did this interview (copied below) with label boss Peverelist in which he talks about the label, the Bristol scene and his involvement in it.

Peverelist on Livity Sound and Bristol techno

This month we take our label series outside of Scotland and look to Bristol’s Livity Sound ahead of the label’s showcase at The Bongo Club for Headset’s fifth birthday party

Edinburgh club night Headset has long been a champion of the Bristol electronic music scene, with previous guests including Peach Discs’ co-founder Gramrcy, Idle Hands’ boss Chris Farrell and DJ/producer Hodge (pic. above). It feels fitting, then, that for the party’s fifth birthday they would celebrate Bristol’s burgeoning scene with a showcase of one of its pivotal labels.

Livity Sound was launched by Tom Ford, aka Peverelist, in 2011 and over the last eight years has been responsible for releasing music by some of Bristol’s most exciting artists. In its early days, many of the label’s releases came from Ford himself, as well as Joe Cowton, aka Kowton, and Craig Stennett, aka Asusu – both of whom played crucial roles in the label’s formation. “I’d been working at a record shop called Rooted Records for ten years, where I founded a label called Punch Drunk which focused on documenting the music around the Bristol dubstep scene,” says Ford.

“Unfortunately the record shop was forced to close and I decided it was time to do something more focused on my personal interests,” he continues. “I’d been working on music with Joe [Cowton] a bit at the time and he encouraged me to start the label. In those early years I worked closely with Joe and also Craig [Stennett] to create the aesthetic of the label.”

Since then, the label has maintained a focus on releasing music by Bristol-based artists, but its growing success has also seen it attract interest from further afield, with releases from Simo Cell, Toma Kami and Laurel Halo. “I’ve always worked closely with Bristol artists and given support to other Bristol labels when they’ve asked,” says Ford. “It’s a cool city for music, although I’m not quite as involved now as when I was working at the record shop; that really acted as a hub for the scene – I miss it.”

Having previously performed at Headset himself, Ford will be making a return to the night as part of the label’s showcase alongside other returning guests Hodge and Roska, in his Bakongo guise. “Hodge is a label regular and my promotion partner for when we run our parties in Bristol – awesome DJ and producer to boot,” says Ford. “Bakongo has just had a release on the label and is a bit of a legend in my eyes for a decade of killer underground releases under his Roska alias.”

Fast-rising DJ and illustrator Danielle Doobay will also be making a return to Headset, having played three times before. Doobay is one of the co-runners of Mix Nights – a DJ workshop series for women launched with the help of Shanti Celeste and local organisation Bristol Women in Music – with Daisy Moon and Em Williams. Meanwhile, Anina (pic below) will make her Headset debut and is proving to be one to watch through her slot on independent Bristol radio station Noods Radio and releases on labels like Tape Echo.

“Danielle is a good friend of the label and a regular at our parties – amazing DJ who’s been really busy this year playing some of the best parties in the world,” says Ford. “Anina  is one of Bristol’s most in-demand DJs – always plays a belter. A lot of people will know her from her blinding set at this year’s Freerotation festival.”

If Bristol isn’t a city currently on your musical radar, then Livity Sound’s showcase is sure to prove exactly why it should be.

Headset’s 5th Birthday: Livity Sound Takeover, The Bongo Club, Edinburgh, 20 Dec

 

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Swedish legend Axel Boman makes his Edinburgh debut, headlining the first Storytime at the Bongo, Fri 8th Nov

18 October 2019 -

We’re more than a little bit chuffed to be hosting this one at the Bongo.  Hard to believe Axel Boman hasn’t played Edinburgh before.  Even more exciting that he will be making his debut here at the Bongo.

He’ll be well known to any seasoned clubber and music fans, due to his work as Talaboman (with John Talabot) and his record label (the wonderful Studio Barnhus, which he runs alongside Kornél Kovács and Petter Nordkvist) but for the uninitiated, this 2015 interview with The Ransom Note’s William Wasteman is a very good place to start…

If you’ve ever been out partying with me, you’ll notice that similar patterns emerge in the way I like to enjoy my after party. Firstly, I’ll buy more tinnys than is humanly manageable to drink, because beer is your friend, forever and ever, amen. Secondly, I’ll change into a pair of tracksuit bottoms, because I need to be comfy when I’m dying from beer overdose. Thirdly; and this is the only relevant bit, I always play ‘Hello’, by Axel Boman. It’s one of the most beautifully soothing tracks I’ve ever heard, with its haunting, catchy vocal sample and bassline deeper than talking to Carl Sagan on acid. It’s basically the musical equivalent of a nice, warm bath, which is good because it’s the closest thing I get to washing (if you notice from after party points one to three, hygiene isn’t on the list).

So from that track I became a fan and have been listening to his unique brand of ephemerally melodic house ever since. Then when I heard of his new project ‘Talaboman’; with top producer John Talabot, I was intrigued to see how the tracks would sound. On hearing their first single ‘Sideral’, I wasn’t disappointed. So, ahead of their headline sets at Corsica Studios on the 27th and 28th of this month I sat down with the Swedish born producer to talk about the creative process, his label Studio Barnhus and his favourite purple drank:

Hey man, how’s it going?

Axel Boman: Hey! I’m good man! Really good.

What you up to at the moment?

AB: Just working on a remix at the moment, for a band Hunter & Game a bit like Darkside so like really synth heavy, kinda darkish pop stuff.

Fair play. I saw the last remix you did was Maribou State one, do you push to do them yourself or do people commission you? How do you choose what remixes to do most of the time?

AB: Most of the time, its people just asking me, and offering money! But I do also feel like the tune has to be something I relate to as an artist, I can’t just take any ‘trap’ song off the radio and do it, it has to be something I can work with.

Do you feel more responsible over a remix than your own stuff?

AB: Yeah I feel like sometimes I can’t just strip back a track to just the basskick and hand it back to them and say “Here is what I thought was good of your tune”.  Like there was that amazing story of Aphex Twin doing a remix for Bjork in 20 minutes, where he had obviously just done nothing with the original track but just sent over something he had already done, but I don’t think I could do something like that. I think DJ Koze is a remix genius and makes everything better, like “What the fuck was the original? This is shit compared to the Koze remix”, but I do feel more responsible over someone else’s tunes than I would do my own because you have a responsibility toward the original song. I feel that I owe it to the original track to use parts of it in the remix that you can hear, to pay my respect that way.

What your fave remix that you’ve ever done you think?

AB: It was the one I did a while ago for Agaric, called ‘No way I Know I Feel’. I felt I got the melodies really well placed with the original song and it just worked. I added a sample from a completely different track that worked surprisingly well with the original I think. That’s my favourite remix for sure.

I’ll definitely look that one up. So apparently during the second half of June it barely ever gets dark in Stockholm during some weeks due to the midnight sun. What kind of parties do you guys have when it’s always light?

AB: Yeah we have parties in the woods like, every weekend. You just get a text from a friend saying “there’s a party in the woods”, then you get there and just follow the sound of the kick drum, but people can’t last too long cos they drink so much. Like obviously everyone is on drugs but we just drink so much we usually don’t last past the next day.

Is it not like Berlin?

AB: No, not at all. Berlin doesn’t have the same drinking culture, they are sipping on water and stuff, whereas we just get really hammered. We have a natural drinking affinity with the English, for example last night I was drinking 6 or 7 pints of beer, which is quite a lot of beer when you think about it.

And if it was Italians they would be like *puts on Italian accent* “What is this giant beer?”

*laughs*

That’s true! But even though you guys drink the same as us you know that Swedes have the longest life expectancy in Europe whereas in the UK we have one of the lowest?

AB: Oh really I didn’t know that. Well it’s got to be the diet. I’ve seen the full English breakfasts and stuff like that you eat whereas we have rye bread and a lot of fish…

I think we’re just becoming really Americanised with all the fast food that’s coming in…

AB: Yeah but then everywhere is these days, like in Stockholm it’s just getting Starbucks after Starbucks.

Yeah it’s shit. So your album Family Vacation was well received for how diverse it is, how did that kind of sound come about?

AB: Well I actually think it all sounds quite similar, which is like this playful house that has pop melodies throughout. I tried to keep a theme running all the way through the album which I think I managed to achieve. Now there is some distance from when I first released it so it’s easier to look back and think about it more objectively.

But when you are making music do you sample a lot, or is it more live music you use? Some of your music has a live feel to it, like you’ve been jamming as a band when you made it. So do you play as a band or solo and build it organically or does it always have a certain structure?

AB: Well I always have a synth melody in my head for days, and I’ll try and build it around that. I’ll also have about five or six samples that I want to fit in, so it’s a mixture of both.

Yeah like I feel that some of your tracks, like ‘Hello’ can drift in and out of melodies, is that something you are conscious of or do on purpose?

AB: Well I’m not a classically trained artist so I don’t always look for a melody and a harmony. I think it works to my advantage because whereas some people are always looking for the hook that fits a track I can just experiment with different samples and ideas until something clicks.

So are you a perfectionist do you think?

AB: Well I think that some people can be comfortable to put a bassline together and a sample and just think “that’s fine” but for me it’s almost never fine. Whenever I first put something together I never accept the first edit, because I know that if I add different things to it, it can make it into something much more than it originally was. So I keep going at it with different samples or different angles until it becomes something more that I like. Like I love Moodymann and the way he’ll have samples that just don’t quite fit together, y’know? You can hear that they don’t fit but it still works. I love that whole Detroit sound.

Is he a big influence on you?

AB: Oh absolutely, although I’m not just a house-head, I’m just as much of a fan of ABBA as any of the Detroit house guys too.

Are you a fan of Three Chairs?

AB: Three chairs not so much but individually much more. I feel like the expectation of those three together can never live up to anything they produce by themselves.

Yeah I know what you mean, like it’s expected that all three of them together will combine to make a better sound somehow.

AB: Exactly.

So carrying on with your creative process, what about creative blocks, how do you deal with them?

AB: Inspiration is for amateurs!

*laughs*

No well I do a lot of smoking weed and drinking wine. I also go for runs. Also we like to laugh and joke around in the Studio so it can come naturally, but it’s just as likely to pop into my head on a run than when I’ve been smoking or drinking. I just think it’s a matter of persistence. Like, I will just keep going at a track until something comes to me most of the time. But then some of the time I can be really lazy and if something doesn’t instantly come at me I’ll just forget about it but then other times you just have to keep going at it over and over until it works. I know there are some people who are just perfect like Roman Flugel, who just make one perfect track every day, but that’s not me; I have to work at it. It SEEMS that Roman does this.

I’m sure he puts in just as much effort as you behind the scenes though?

AB: No Roman Flugel is just one of those perfect people that does Ashtanga yoga, eats well, looks healthy and im sure he’s a fantastic lover. Every tune he makes is perfect, no matter what. He is just one of those sexy, perfect people.

Sounds like maybe you should try and get with Roman Flugel?

AB: No I am not perfect enough for him. He’s probably think I was too fat or something like that, plus I think he is into girls.

*laughs*

So why was the album called Family Vacation? Is about a family vacation you went on?

AB: No it’s not really about anything that happened in real life or any family vacation I’ve been on, I just like the way it sounds, like some kind of tragic sounding event,

Like a family vacation that went wrong?

AB: Yeah, like some eerie tragic story.

So you aren’t actually the son of a plumber either?

AB: No it’s the name of a Per Gessle album, the master mind behind swedish pop sensation Roxette

No…

AB: Well they are really famous in Sweden, I just stole it off one of their album titles so I wasn’t actually a son of a plumber or anything like that.

Ah OK fair enough. So obviously ahead of your shows I wanted to talk a bit about Talaboman. How did the partnership with John Talabot come about?

AB: Well he is a friend with (Barnhus label mate) Petters, and I always really liked his stuff and when we met we got on really well. I think the Spanish and Swedish have like, this natural affinity so we instantly connected.

Will you be releasing more stuff than the Sideral tune you did?

AB: Yeah we are actually working on an album right now. We have about eight tracks, not really sure if I should be talking about it as an album because it isn’t really that yet, it’s just a collection of tracks, but most of them are finished but like in a raw state.

When will it be coming out?

AB: Early next year, I think John has an album he is working on to release later on in 2016 so we want to get something early next year because I don’t want to get in the way of his album launch and stuff like that.

Will it be more stuff like Sideral?

AB: It will be a lot bigger, it will still have the emotional element that Sidereal has but we have been working a lot with synths so we have been trying to make bigger…

More, epic tracks?

AB: Yeah! Like stuff that is more expansive than some of the stuff I have done before.

So is it going to be like, big lights flashing, eyes closed, hands in the air kind of music at the raves?

AB: I hope so!

Are you going to be playing a lot of the tracks at the shows at Corsica Studios?

AB: Yeah of course! It is the perfect place to do it, I love Corsica and I love the system there and it’s very intimate too which I like so I can’t wait for the shows.

Do you prefer to play in the more intimate venues or bigger mega venues?

AB: Well I am not really used to play in these bigger gigs like John is so he has been giving me advice on it. But I have also been getting advice from DJ Koze, he gives me these classic one liners about handling it; like the best one he gave me was “play songs with less information”. Which I think is so perfect because it’s totally true in those situations where you have thousands of people to play to.

Like maybe the subtleties of some of your music can get lost when playing to bigger crowds?

AB: Yeah, exactly.

So I know you graduated from the Valand School of Fine Arts in 2010, what did you study?

AB: Well I was one of the last people to do the five year degree at the Uni, where they just gave us a studio for five years and let us get on with it, and check in every six months to see if we were OK. Now they only allow three year courses so I was one of the last people to do it.

What kind of stuff did you do?

AB: Well it was everything from painting, to sound, to film. By the end it was purely conceptual, like if I had an idea I would just build around this idea whether it was sound or film.

Do you have any of the stuff to show us?

AB: Hold on a sec…*checks computer for a while* No I don’t think I have any stuff. I think it may be somewhere on my dad’s computer. If I have any bit of advice it’s keep a hold of everything you used to do, keep every scrap book, every file on your computer.

I read an interview with you where you said lost a laptop with all your stuff but you felt it was quite cathartic?

AB: Yeah I had to start completely again. It was kind of like losing your phone though, with all the numbers of everyone you love.

So how did Studio Barnhus come about? And is it better releasing under your own label or just easier letting someone else handle it?

AB: Well we have been living together and working in a studio space, so we just naturally became friends and started making music together. So we moved into this studio which is on Orphanage Street (Barnhusgaten) in Stockholm, and the Swedish for orphanage is actually Barnhus.

In English the closest translation to it means like a shed or outhouse where farmers keep their tools and livestock…

AB: Really? I never knew that. In Swedish it’s less negative than orphanage though, like it’s a fun thing to do with youth, because I know orphanage is more a negative thing in English but in Swedish when a place is fun it can be described as a Barnhus.  I’m actually releasing a lot of stuff under my own sub label Barn-Barn which means grandson in Swedish which is funny because that’s kind of how it is to me and the label.

I’ll definitely be looking out for that. So your breakout tune Purple Drank was a banger, so I had to ask, what is your favourite kind of purple drink?

AB: At the moment I really like ‘Sanalepsi’, which is like Swiss anti-histamin drops. But there’s also another American drink I like, it’s kind of like this powder shit…

*asks his mates in Swedish*

Kool Aid! Yeah we got a lot of Kool Aid going on at the moment.

*laughs*

So finally; as your name is Axel, who is your favourite Axel: the Streets of Rage character, Axel Rose from Guns & Roses or Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop?

AB: What is Streets of Rage?

Like the old Mega-Drive game!

AB: Let me Google it…Oh yeah this game kicks ass!!! I used to love this game. That guy is called Axel?

Yeah!

AB: Well I’d have to say even though he is a woman beating psycho crazy motherfucker Axel Rose is still my favourite. But if I have to choose they are all number one!

So Axel Rose is first, then Axel from Streets of Rage?

AB: Axel Rose first, then Axel Foley from Beverly hills cop then Axel from Streets of Rage because I don’t know him as well.

Thanks Axel, can’t wait for the shows!

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Drum ‘n’ bass duo Hybrid Minds headline sold out date for Electrikal, Fri 4th Oct

04 October 2019 -

Drum n bass duo Hybrid Minds play a sold out show for Electrikal tonight and have just been confirmed to headline the promoter’s Woodland Festival event in May ’20.  NB Tickets are non transferable and there will be no tickets available on the door.

For a bit of insight, here’s an interview the drum and bass duo did with the native website, “where they talk production, inspo, and nurseries”:

“Two of the most innovative liquid drum and bass producers on the scene – We caught up with the pair to get a look into the inner workings of Hybrid Minds:

So to start off, what have you guys been up to today? What’s a day in the life of Hybrid Minds?

Matt: It’s nothing very producer-like for me, it’s been more of viewing nurseries – maybe let’s leave that one out. It’s been rock’n’roll really, y’know just trashing rooms, just smashin’ it.

Josh: We did a little bit of work on a new track today didn’t we, we’re trying to get some vocals done for a couple tracks.

Who are you turning to for the vocals?
Matt: Well a bunch of different people really, we’re sort of deciding who we’re gonna send things to – we’ve sort of got an idea in mind but nothing concrete yet. We tend to just send tracks around to different people and if we’re feeling it we roll with it and if it’s not quite right we’ll send it to someone else – we’ve just worked like that for a long time.

I read in one of your previous interviews that vocals aren’t really your area, you give it to other people and maybe have a little bit of input.
Josh: We sometimes give people a direction, but we really appreciate what vocalists can bring – that’s what they’re good at, so I don’t feel like we should get in the way of their ideas and, they sometimes bring things that we weren’t expecting that can really give a track a new life.

Do you feel if you give them directions you’re somewhat limiting the potential output?
Matt: Exactly. Yeah, we feel like we wouldn’t want to be restricted. They do what they do and we do what we do, and we wouldn’t wanna restrict anyone’s creative ability – just let them crack on. It usually works best that way, we usually find they’ll do a good job and we’ll just roll with it basically.

So I’m going to start my actual questions now! Can you guys talk me through your musical backgrounds and how you met?
Matt: Right, how did we meet Josh? We both ran record labels, god knows how long ago, it’s a long time ago.

Josh: At least 10 odd years ago.

Matt: We met through that and we used to do a little radio station together, it was like a little community and sort of how we started out and met each other. We were both into running record labels at the time and we sorta spoke and got to know each other through that really.

When did you decide to DJ and produce as a duo? That’s quite a big commitment.
Josh: We’d been quite close for a while, and then we did one collab that went really well and just enjoyed the process of doing it.

Matt: Yeah we were both really feeling the same things at the time, a lot of the liquid stuff. We weren’t really setting out to go anywhere with it, it was just more for fun really. It all sort of fell into place when we had our first tune released – it was actually under Sensa and Haste, not Hybrid Minds, it’s essentially to us the first release we ever did.

A lot of people know about it, it went up on UKF and did well. It was from then on out we kept on going and that’s it.

I’m curious to know about the creative process when there’s two of you – do you both have your specialities in terms of who provides what to each project or do you do a bit of everything?
Matt: It’s a bit of everything really isn’t it? We both do the same processes but we also have different areas where we specialise I suppose. Josh is a big details man, with me I like to bang out an idea, I get bored of it and then I wanna start a new idea.

With Josh he wants to go in on all the details, he thrives on these things – when we make a quick idea together Josh will go in on it and it’ll go from my repetitive loop to this thing that really comes together and doesn’t get boring.

Josh: We work over dropbox and share one folder that we have a bunch of tracks in and we can just individually open and work on them.

Matt: For instance, Josh could start an idea and if we’re both feeling it we put it in the dropbox but we might not get to work on it until, well it could be years later really. Like today, we’re just going through an old track, I sent it over to Josh, I didn’t actually know what it was and that’s sort of how these things come to be.

Old tracks that you forget about and you listen to a year or two later and you’re you like “actually, there’s something about that”. That one I sent him earlier, that’ll be going into the backlog of things to do. I tend to go through all the old ideas because we forget – there’s so many of them we just forget and end up working on new things instead. That’s how we work really, straight out of dropbox.

Sometimes you need some time to be able to breathe new life into a track.

Josh: Yeah you can get fed up listening to something again and again, like 8 bars. It’s similar to what vocalists do when they bring something new to a track. One of us might start something and fall out of love and the other person will find it a while later and give it a new lease of life.

Matt: Sometimes one of us isn’t feeling it as much as the other, I could send an idea to Josh that he doesn’t really like but give it a few months and we’ll both come back to it and think “actually there’s something about this”. You can’t usually make decisions on the spot unless it’s a really obvious straight up hit. Some things aren’t so obvious and need a lot more work but we get there in the end.

So presumably you both listen to a lot of the same music, but do either of you make or listen to anything that the other finds a bit questionable?
Josh: As we’ve been making music together for so long, we’re definitely not precious, and we tend to focus on the negatives rather than the positives and we’re quick to say what we don’t like in a track.

Whose the harshest critic?
Matt: I’d say Josh.

Josh: Yeah probably!

So you guys started your own record label, Hybrid Music, in 2016 and I’ve read in one of your previous interviews and you said the label had been even more work than you’d anticipated. Now you’re almost two years in, is it still hectic or do you have more of a handle on it?
Josh: If anything I’d say there’s even more work, we’re branching into doing a small club night, working on music all the time, dealing with distributors and whatnot – it never ends. But, it gives us such a drive to continue working hard and trying to put in enough hours every week to making music so it is, I think, an essential part of us working.

Matt: It’s a positive thing, you’ve got no restrictions. On other labels you’re gonna be working to their demands, what they want, what they expect from you. We can just put out anything, even if we don’t think it’s going to sell particularly well, we can still do that if we wanted to. We’ve got a good creative output to do whatever we want. It’s definitely more work but a lot better.

A labour of love.
Josh: Yeah.

Matt: Yeah.

Are there any record labels that you draw inspiration from in terms of both the music they put out and the way they operate?
Josh: When it comes to promotional approaches, I suppose we’ll constantly be inspired by what we see. We do keep our eye on what other people are doing and what we think are good ideas.

Matt: I think early on we had a lot of inspiration from labels but since it’s got busier we don’t listen to much music really. Well I know that’s the case for me anyway, if I’m doing a set I’ll go through my emails and pick the best sort of thing and most of the time I don’t know what the label is, sometimes I don’t know what the artist is!

So it’s hard to say where we draw inspiration from creatively as producers, but Josh especially listens to a lot of music outside drum and bass and links that to me, so I think a lot of inspiration really comes from outside.

Josh: Yeah, and just individual artists rather than labels, because we’re the only artists on our label, so we don’t want to be some big factory churning out loads of music, it’s not our aim. So I suppose we look up to individual artists rather than labels.

So you guys are playing at Volks on April 20th. Have you been to Brighton before? What’s been your experience in our great city?
Josh: Yeah, we play Brighton at least a few times a year and it’s always awesome. It’s a really nice place to visit, to go out for dinner before a show, grab a couple beers. We usually tend to get a hotel so we can chill out. Crowd-wise it’s always full of smiles which is good and people know our music down there which is definitely always a bonus.

That’s got to be the most important thing.
Josh: Yeah it is, sometimes you can play club shows and crowds can be enjoying themselves but when they actually sing your songs back to you it’s a whole new level, and that’s the sort of thing we get in Brighton.

Couple more questions for you. What other projects are both you working on right now? Music or otherwise.
Matt: We’ve got a few things in the works at the minute haven’t we? We’ve got a collab project with InsideInfo in the pipes.

We’ve been fans of for a while and, even though he’s in a completely different world to us, he understands our world and he brings that into the tunes. With this project we’ve been working on with him, it’s something different, I can’t put it in any category which is always good. Well, it could be bad I suppose, but I like the fact you can’t pigeonhole it and its not really a particular sort of style, it’s just a new thing.

But aside from that we’re just working on finishing a bunch of singles at the minute. We’re just trying to finish all the backlog of music we’ve got, which there’s quite a lot of, get that out to vocalists and hopefully be able to deliver some new music very soon. So the next single is actually going to be with Charlotte Haining, called ‘Paint By Numbers’, so that’s going to be the next thing out that people can expect from us. Then following from that we’re not sure ourselves, we’re just gonna finish the music and schedule it accordingly I suppose.

Josh: And we’ve also got our club night in London. The last one sold out way in advance so we’re quite excited to see where that goes and branching out to different cities and bigger venues hopefully next year, so that’s quite exciting.

So last question, what are you guys listening to right now?
Matt: You’ll be better for this Josh, I’ve been listening to nothing.

Josh: When I’m travelling or sat at my laptop working not on music, I’ve been listening to the album Dawn by RYX because it keeps me calm and not want to shout at people which is good!

Tracklist:
Hybrid Minds – Solitude feat. Alexa Harley
AI – True Colours
Hybrid Minds – Never Change feat. Grimm (GLXY Remix)
Dualistic – Station Six
Hybrid Minds – Skin & Bones feat. Grimm & Laurence Baker (Mitekiss Remix)
LSB – Rolling Sideways (Spectrasoul Remix)
Jome – Cinnamon (Hybrid Minds Remix)
BCee – Little Bird
Dawn Wall – Shy
Monrroe – Dawning feat. Emily Jones (Technimatic Remix)
Camo & Krooked – Ember (Hybrid Minds Remix)
Halogenix – Blej Alix
Perez – Forsaken
Dawn Wall – Never Say
Eastcolours – Keys
DRS – I Will feat. Patife & Vangeliez
Hybrid Minds – Skeletons feat. Grimm
BCee – Lost & Found feat. Rocky Nti (Hybrid Minds Remix)
D Kay – Thinner Edge
Indiana – Mess Around (Etherwood Remix)
Jakwob – Blinding feat. Rocky Nti (Hybrid Minds Remix)
Mitekiss – Some People
Artic Lake – Heal Me (Spectrasoul Remix)
Tokyo Prose – Dawn Chorus
Spectrasoul – Remember Me
Hybrid Minds – Pretend feat. Rocky Nti
Mohican Sun – Fixation
Alix Perez – Number feat. Benabu
Tokyo Prose – Saving Grace VIP
Feint – Take It In feat. Koven (Hybrid Minds Remix)

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German house duo Session Victim headline the Bongo for Oscillate, Wed 18th Sept

11 September 2019 -

We’re well chuffed to be welcoming Session Victim to the Bongo, courtesy of irregular midweek party-starters Oscillate. More info on the event / ticket link HERE.

Here’s a copy of a recent interview they did with Flux Music to give you a bit more background to this talented pair:

Trump, Brexit, divisive politics, the overzealous policing of raves and this general air of malaise has turned a lot of us into cynical and jaded folk – and in many ways, this seems to be mirrored in a lot of the darker music coming out. But they say you need the rain to have the rainbow, and Session Victim are exactly that – a burst of colour and optimism in a cloud of darkness and grey.

Hauke Freer and Matthias Rieling comprise the self-dubbed ‘2-man house band’, blending the rawness and spontaneity of a raucous live gig with the almost spiritual pulse of a DJ set where the entire crowd moves in unison as a nebulous school of dancing fish.

They are also accomplished solo artists in their own right, with releases on the Giegling and Delusions of Grandeur imprints amongst others – and Matthias’ new EP drops on Session Victim’s own label Pen & Paper this week. We caught up with Matthias and Hauke, based in Hamburg and Berlin respectively, to discuss the German music scene, their Pen & Paper label and playing house music live…

Hi guys. What’s the genesis of the Session Victim name? Is it somewhat autobiographical?

Matthias: Hi! I don’t remember exactly how we came up with it, but it was right before we released our No Friends EP on Real Soon. For us it describes that moment in the studio, jamming, when it transcends from you playing the music to the music playing you – if that makes any sense. When we told [Real Soon label owner] Paul Hammond about it, he instantly liked it so we went with it.

Session Victim often feels a little sunnier and in stark contrast to the darker, more brooding form of dance music Germany has come to be known for – would you agree with this, or is there a thriving Berlin/Hamburg community within which you cultivate this brighter sound?

Matthias: We are and have always been friends with a lot of musicians and DJs in Berlin and Hamburg, and we get to meet new interesting and inspiring people all the time. So, of course there is a bigger, loose community, but this community includes people from everywhere around the world just as much as it does Germany. What comes out of Session Victim is basically just the stuff that the two of us both feel together – that goes for what we write and produce as well as what we spin as DJs. However, we are lucky and blessed to be surrounded by so many talented people and I would love to name them all now – but it would be a very long list and I would forget someone in the end and feel bad about it forever.

Your ‘2-man house band’ vibe really shines through – there is this raw, live feel to it. The jazz club-esque intro at the start of Listen To Your Heart, opener ‘Over and Over’ followed by the sample of Rasa’s ‘When Will The Day Come’ really emphasises this. How do you guys manage to make it so cohesive and organic when collaborating remotely?

Hauke: To be honest, we don’t actually collaborate remotely. Our studio has been in Hamburg for the last 5 years. I take a train during the week and we lock ourselves down for 2 to 3 days. Many people mention that they perceive our music as organic. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but I think it’s a mixture of using many samples that come with their own rich colours, textures and timing as well as attention to layers and details. And really important is to avoid thinking too much within the grid.

What is the impetus behind the live show, and why is it so important to you guys?

Matthias: Because it’s a ton of fun! It’s something we practise but is spontaneous nonetheless, it’s chaotic, it’s emotional, it’s in that very moment, it’s sometimes scary but at the same time something we both feel super confident about… yo, it is a whole lot of things to us!

Your live shows at the Jazz Cafe seem to have gone down in folklore, especially with Matthias’ crowd surfing. The energy of your productions seems to come from both your music and your physicality when performing, an observation that’s drawn comparisons with the Duracell rabbits on YouTube. Where does the energy come from?

Matthias: Haha, that sounds too big and cheesy to me. We just play music, we get into it, emotionally and physically, we give our energy into the audience, and receive energy back. As for the stage diving, when that happened at Jazz Café, I was just overjoyed with the music and the vibes at that moment and the audience made me feel so safe and good that it just happened. However, it is not a premeditated stunt or gimmick, and I don’t do it every other show. It was just a very intense night – in a good way!

How did the collaborations on your ‘Dawn EP’ with South London’s Nebraska and the German Iron Curtis come about, and why/how did you approach it this way after several albums of it just being the two of you?

Matthias: Nebraska and Iron Curtain are longtime friends of ours, and they both visited us at our Hamburg studio last year to jam on music. There wasn’t a preordained plan to do a collaboration EP before, the tunes we came up with just felt right together and when we showed them to DOG they were totally into it as well.

You launched your label Pen & Paper the start of last year with three releases including Iron Curtis and solo stuff from Hauke. Matthias has a forthcoming EP out very soon – what can we expect from this release and what are your broader ambitions for the label in 2019?

Matthias: We started Pen & Paper as our own little playground, and the idea came up after we gave our track ‘Puzzle’ to Iron Curtis and VRIL and they came back with those beautiful remixes. Before we had them, there wasn’t the idea for a release at all, but suddenly it felt like a complete 12” all together. The A side of the second release, ‘Smile’, we had originally planned as part of our third album, but it somehow didn’t feel fitting with the rest of the music, so we decided against it. After ‘Mourn’ was finished, we both immediately thought these two tracks would make a great record together. Hauke’s Higher State of Confidence was a total no brainer for me and I would have probably sent it off to pressing right after I heard the first versions of those tracks. Hyped as I was, Hauke put some more detail work into it and gave ‘Part 1’ to our friend Sam Irl, who did an absolutely amazing job mixing the song. As for my upcoming solo record, I made at least 12 pieces for it of which 3 actually made the cut now, including a stunning Broke One remix of ‘Vibrate’. I’m happy that he pulled the whole EP into slightly friendlier territory with it, as I originally wanted the whole thing to be even darker.

What club or city in the world do you find your music most resonates – what crowds are matching the unbridled energy you bring to your live sets?

Hauke: In the end you can have a great party everywhere, and it’s never possible to predict the outcome of any night. When we play to an audience that appreciates being taken on a journey musically, it’s easier to establish a feedback loop between us and the audience and that’s when we are performing at our best.

What is the summer looking like for you guys? Can we expect some festival appearances?

Hauke: Cannot wait for summer, though sticking to our regular routine of hitting the studio during the week and being on the road on weekends. We are playing around Europe mostly and making longer trips to Mexico, Lebanon, the US and Down Under a bit later this year!

You can listen to and buy ‘The Stone Tape EP’ here.

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Bongo nights happening elsewhere during the Fringe/August

30 July 2019 -

Holidays (700 px)

We are now ‘on holiday’ until the end of August, due to the lease for our building being taken over by Underbelly, as happens every summer for seven weeks (scroll down for more details).

Bongo nights happening elsewhere during the Fringe/August:

Friday 2nd August
Headset at Mash House
Soulsville at Mash House
Messenger Sound System at Mash House

Monday 5th August
Headset’s Gay Garage at Sneaky Pete’s

Tuesday 6th August
Midnight Bass at Mash House

Friday 9th August
Headset at Mash House w/ Roska
Hotline at Mash House
Messenger Sound System at Mash House

Saturday August 10th
Dr No’s Ska Club at Henry’s Cellar Bar

Monday 12th August
Headset’s Gay Garage at Sneaky Pete’s

Tuesday 13th August
Midnight Bass at Mash House

Friday 16th August
Headset at Mash House w/ Hodge, Debonair & 12th Isle
Messenger Sound System at Mash House
Disco Makossa at La Belle Angele

Saturday 17th August
Overground at Mash House

Monday 19th August
Headset’s Gay Garage at Sneaky Pete’s

Tuesday 20th August
Midnight Bass at Mash House

Friday 23rd August
Headset at Mash House
Messenger Sound System at Mash House
Disco Makossa at Mash House

Monday 26th August
Headset’s Gay Garage at Sneaky Pete’s

Tuesday 27th August
Midnight Bass at Mash House

We re-open on Saturday 31st August with Messenger Sound System and look forward to kicking off the new season with you then.

Enjoy the festivals and have a great summer.

NB OUR REGULAR COWGATE VENUE DOES NOT BELONG TO US AND THE BONGO CLUB DOES NOT MAKE ANY MONEY AT ALL DURING THIS PERIOD.

The Underbelly is a Fringe theatre/comedy/arts business based in London; The Bongo Club is a trading subsidiary of Out Of The Blue Arts and Education Trust, an independent arts charity and social enterprise based in Leith.

So, if you come down to the venue at this time, you will find none of our events happening and none of our crew here (except those few who have been hired separately by the Underbelly to work for them).

However, you are likely to find more space open than usual – the Underbelly’s licence is much broader than our own – and a thriving Fringe operation in full swing.  So, by all means, please feel free to check it out but remember it has nothing to do with us.

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Durban’s DJ Lag headlines our Summer Closing Party for Headset, Sat 13th July

12 July 2019 -

Durban’s DJ Lag stops in Edinburgh for Headset this Saturday, as part of his current tour off the back of his Radio 1 Essential Mix and huge international success.

Check out Crudo Volta Radio‘s documentary video (‘Woza Taxi – Gqom Secret Stash Out Of The Locations‘) below and Sean Harper’s interview for the Ransom Note blog (also copied below) for a much better idea of where this music – called ‘gqom’ – comes from and how it’s grown.

TICKETS / MORE INFO


Ransom Note interview by Sean Harper:

To an outsider, South Africa’s music sphere appears volatile and unpredictable. The cultural hangover that the apartheid left in its wake rendered individual scenes divisive at best, and insular at worst. As such, it’s fascinating to hear DJ Lag imply that gqom, the hybrid strain of South African house that he played a singular role in proliferating, had to break out internationally before receiving even a modicum of attention in South Africa outside his home city of Durban, where he and a band of peers laid its foundations.

“For me, it really helped because when the international crowd started taking note of the sound, gqom became a big thing in South Africa as well. People who didn’t know about gqom in South Africa got word of it because of the international exposure, and they started searching for it, trying to get the music, and it became a big thing in the past two years”, he explains.

It’s been a couple of years since gqom first made the headlines. In 2015 its international hype compounded tenfold, as tastemaker and Hyperdub mastermind Kode 9 had begun to incorporate the sound into his sets after an introduction by South African-born Hyperdub signee OKZharp. This push thrust gqom into what relative limelight these pockets of electronic music can offer, and the genre caught the attention of Moleskin, who operates Goon Club Allstars; the London label responsible for Lag’s first release proper. He has previously spoken humbly of his disbelief that a label from outside Durban would even hear his work, let alone release it.

And yet, occupying a void between raw and refined and provoking a more bodily response with each new track, Lag’s brand of gqom has  since catapulted him to notoriety on the international circuit. It’s been around two years since gqom broke out, and I’m intrigued as to how it’s international communities of avid fans have influenced its communicative effects back home. He simply states:

“When people from South Africa found out that a South African genre was being played a lot internationally, that’s when they woke up and started taking notice of it.”

This statement speaks to a wider, deeper paradox that seems to plague contemporary musical styles with their roots in South Africa. In a recent conversation I had with DJ Okapi, he spoke of the strange reticence South African music fans have towards music that originates from their home. Perhaps an amalgamation of nuanced sociopolitical reasons is to blame, and yet the same story is told of each widely adored South African export: they must prove their worth internationally before finding their footing in their country of origin.

However, thanks to the tireless graft of DJ Lag and his contemporaries Rudeboyz, Emo Kid, Dominowe and countless others, gqom’s reputation the world over has resulted in its eventual embrace by their home country. Now, “for sure, gqom is getting bigger and bigger. The sound is taking over South Africa. Every club and every radio station – they play gqom” Lag discloses proudly.

The vocal strain of the genre has proven particularly popular, with records by Distruction Boyz and Babes Wodumo enjoying enormous success. The former’s 2017 debut album Gqom Is The Future was even awarded gold certification by the Recording Industry of South Africa as recognition for it having sold over 20,000 copies.

Lag says “there were vocalist growing up alongside Gqom producers, and as we grew, so do they, but I honestly feel like Babes Wodumo brought gqom to the mainstream with ‘Wololo’”. Taking in the trademark gut-wrenching gqom grooves that Lag employs and icing them with impossibly catchy hooks, ‘Wololo’ is a deserving breakout. And yet, once again, this is a success story marred by controversy. I am noticing a macabre pattern emerging. As she released follow-up single ‘Mercedes’, Wodumo instantly found herself the subject of a tabloid with-hunt “The lyrics on the tracks were open to interpretation, and a lot of people thought they had bad meanings, like referencing drugs” Lag explains, which led to the track being banned from the airwaves by the SABC.

In spite of these setbacks, Lag is perfectly optimistic about gqom’s future, and charmingly humble. He’s also refreshingly grounded in comarison to the lavish imagery of the gold-certified producer-vocalists Distruction Boyz. “I can say for myself that I will continue touring the world, pushing the sound abroad. I want to make it recognizable to everyone in the world. I’m dropping my next EP in April under London based label Goon Club Allstars. And of course, continuing my worldwide tour, visiting new countries and revisiting others.”

It’s not all he’s got on the horizon. As he continues his world tour, he has the following to look forward to: “The international crowd is completely different to Durban crowd and how they react to GQOM music is a bit different. In Durban when GQOM is playing, we’ve got a unique way of dancing which is called ‘bang’, whereas all over the world they just go crazy with no specific style.”

The frenzy of the international dancer is hardly surprising. To have led the way on a vital genre borne of a DIY movement at the age of 21 is enough to incite envy and awe in equal measure.

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Messenger Sound System ft. MC Ista host our Windrush Day Party, Sat 22nd June

07 June 2019 -

Celebrating the music, people and culture brought to these shores from the Caribbean.

Stevie Messenger has been wanting to do a ska and rocksteady night for years, so when we realised that Sat 22nd June is Windrush Day, it seemed like the perfect opportunity!

LINE-UP:
Messenger Sound System feat. MC Ista Lion

Playing ska and rocksteady from the vaults of Studio 1 and Treasure Isle, the sounds of young Jamaica!  There should even be some calypso early doors as well.

NB This is not a ‘Messenger night’ exactly and the music will be quite different from the usual dub reggae programme at Messenger.

Also, a percentage of the profits will be donated to the Windrush Justice Fund.

Easy skanking.

TICKETS

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NYC house & techno legend Levon Vincent makes his Bongo debut for Substance, Sat 27th April

24 April 2019 -

We couldn’t be more excited to be welcoming Levon Vincent to the Bongo for the first time, courtesy of the evergreen Substance crew.  This recent interview with him by XLR8R gives an insight into why he’s such a talented and successful producer…

Levon Vincent has been producing records for nearly two decades, starting in Manhattan, New York. His music taste and processes were shaped by early ’90s house music and the energy that surrounded him in places like the Lower East side and Alphabet city. The explosion of music sampling in the ’80s informed his processes and, influenced by the elder producers in his orbit, he began his own experiments using an Ensoniq EPS-1, one of the first few affordable samplers on the market. He released his debut EP, No More Heros, in 2002 via his own More Music NY.  “I have quite a lot of experience as a student,” he explains. “I’ve never shied away from tracking down a producer or engineer to ask them 100 questions.”

Vincent’s ensuing releases landed with regularity: Complicated People and The Thrill Of Love came next, with a slick, warm house sound, before 2005’s Love Technique saw Vincent present a harder acid-infused techno aesthetic. This evolution continued as his signature became dark, chunky, and raw but groovy, psychedelic, and, well, sexy—at once driving and meaningful. “It can make you dance and it can make you contemplate,” says one enthusiastic Discogs user. (Case in point: “Double Jointed Sex Freak.”)

The culmination of this came with 2015’s self-titled album debut, a release—offered as a free download as a stand against the corporate machine—that exceeded even the huge expectations that surrounded it. It spanned atmospheric dub techno, lush deep house, and explorations into the darker realms, cementing Vincent’s reputation as one of the most original producers in contemporary techno. Often it takes two or three listens to properly understand his message; to really appreciate how he says so much with so little.

Vincent has been hard at work recently, preparing a series of EPs that’ll drop this year, expected to be one of his busiest yet—his first release of the year was “Dance With Me,” an old-school house cut on the January edition of XLR8R+. After some informal exchanges, he invited XLR8R into his studio, located in the spare room of his spacious Berlin apartment. He’s always been a bedroom producer, so this is where he feels most comfortable. Although distanced somewhat from the analog heavy lairs that we see so often in contemporary production, there is some seriously heavy duty equipment. “I am proud to be a bedroom producer and not too flashy,” he says. “This is independent music and should be in the hands of anyone who wants to make it.” To learn more, we sat down for a lengthy and candid discussion with Vincent, and below you’ll find a (slightly) shortened version of what was said.

To start, can you describe your current studio setup?

Today I am working with a few Roland synths and a Jomox drum module. For tracking, I use a combination of Aurora and Great River pre-amps and UAD conversion. For mixing down, I use JCF conversion, an SSL G-series compressor clone, and I sum through the Chandler mixer. I am a fan of the DSD (Direct Stream Digital) format and I use Korg and Tascam recorders. I own a pair of trusty US$30 Logitech multimedia speakers, as well as a monster pair of Barefoot monitors for reference purposes, and some other goodies.

I’ve put any profits over the years into recording gear so I’ve really cherry-picked the exact items I need. I went through a lot of extra items while figuring it out and now I am down to just what I need, so if there is a piece of gear in my studio nowadays, I use it. I don’t have a synth museum or anything; those setups come and go for me, depending on my disposable income at the time. I also use a Yamaha digital piano, and while it’s nice, I left a Kawai MP7SE stage piano in New York when I moved to Germany, and I miss that one a lot.

Has your setup changed considerably over time?

My setup is constantly changing. Not the recording gear—it’s too important—but the instruments always change. I usually buy a few synths, make a record or two, then sell them on Craigslist and repeat. Overall, there is less equipment now; I choose not to have an exorbitant amount of sonic “toys” at the moment. I will start buying again soon, just a couple things here and there. I am holding out for Behringer to announce a Jupiter 8 clone.

Why do you feel the need to constantly change the gear?

Hmm, good question. I like that first feeling you get when you put a couple of synths together and you learn what type of personality they have. That comes from reading about Miles Davis, how he was so widely recognized as having a knack for putting band members together. I always liked that concept, so I enjoy the skill of combining different synths and drum machines. So a Walforf Pulse might have a very muscular character. That would be a nice compliment to a Juno, which has a more buttery sound. Mixing and matching the different instruments is akin to orchestration.

“..an artist must believe in what they are doing because there is a great sacrifice involved in dedicating your life to music or the arts.”

You spoke earlier about how you learned a lot from apprenticeships in New York. What are the most important lessons that you reflect upon?

This might sound like a negative but it actually was a positive for me: one lesson I will always remember was when working for the engineer on Steve Reich’s Violin Phaserecording for Nonesuch. And I had spent several months with him but he had never heard my music. Finally, the day came and I played him my CD. He listened, and I asked him what he thought, and he said, “If you weren’t in the room, I would throw this disc in the garbage.” Sounds like a tough one, right? But it gave me a thick skin—it was better than being coddled and that experience forced me to evaluate what I was doing. I do believe it was good music, and I did release some of it on Novel Sound to great success. So, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. But I had to go back to make sure I really believed in what I was doing, and I learned pretty quickly that you have to take things with a pinch of salt if you are going to succeed; an artist must always believe in what they are doing because there is a great sacrifice involved in dedicating your life to music or the arts. It can be a frightful leap to take because you never know if you will always be able to eat properly, or sleep in your own place, or have health insurance, etc.

It’s interesting that your studio is still in your bedroom. Do you want an external studio?

That has never appealed to me. My space is very personal and it is a very important part of my work process. I like smoking weed and working, getting all dubby—and I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that outside of my house. Also, I often wake up in the night with an idea and go immediately to the piano. That happens every couple of weeks, where I have a good idea in the night, and just jump out of bed and go immediately to working on it. I have written every song I have ever released in my bedroom. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else. Well, now I use an office room in my flat and not my actual bedroom, but you get my point.

If I can’t make music with just 18 simultaneous preamps then something is wrong with my approach.

It doesn’t look like the most organized of spaces.

Yes, I do have a bit of a sloppiness problem with my work area. Not dirty, just messy. Truthfully, the messiness is a habit I developed from collecting records—just having too many records, the hoarding aspect. At one point I had 17,000 records. I didn’t even know what a few crates were. I also collected comic books and graphic novels when I was younger. I like collecting things, as long as it doesn’t disrupt my life. The way I learned to conquer the vinyl addiction and manage the hoarding is by first getting rid of that entire collection. It was difficult but a very healthy thing for me to do. And now every few years I give away several crates of records. I’ve passed out gear too. It frees you up. Regarding the equipment, I have always been buying and trading gear. The 1990s were worse because I worked for a music instrument shop and was able to buy things at cost. That got out of hand. For the past 15 years or so I have had a “no patch bays” rule: I have 18 inputs on my preamps, and that’s it. If I can’t make music with just 18 simultaneous preamps then something is wrong with my approach.

Why do you think you’re more drawn to recording and processing equipment more than instruments?

Well, I was born in the ‘70s, and I came up in the ‘80s, and the era was dominated by sampling technology. It was a revolution. Synths are cool too, they are the instruments that belong in the studio. I love it all. I love a good machine—I always have time to appreciate a piece of gear that is designed and assembled well. I realize that I like machines that do one thing really well. I’d choose an MPC if I could only have one piece of gear. That’s a New York thing. Although I moved to Germany 10 years ago and haven’t looked back, some things stay with you throughout your life. I will always have a fondness for recording gear and old samplers.

Are you still sampling a lot nowadays?

Nope. December would be the last time I sampled my synths or drum machine. I sampled my Moog Source most recently, three octaves worth, and layered it with noise from the Anamod ATS-1. The result was a really fat sounding disco bass patch. It sounds like the octave bass from “Blue Monday.”

Why do you think your practices have changed?

It’s because my library is so big now. It’s more important for me that I update what I have and bring it into the present time. Like my FZ-1 diskettes, I need to update those, and I have a bunch of zip disks to deal with, etc. I have an enormous library of 12-bit drum samples that I could use to make some really cool personalized drum machines. That’s something I really love doing—making my own drum kits, and then thinking of and treating them as if they are a rare drum machine, one that only I have. Then, I will spend a month making beats with it and really getting to know the sounds and how they work. I also like to pilfer the Jomox module, which is really punchy, and combine it with bits from my older kits. I sampled the hell out of my long-gone Linn Drum, for example. So I might take a shaker or a Tambo from that archive. Something I go back to a lot is a DAT of a Roland TM-404 drum machine that someone gave me in the ’90s, which was a prototype model that never came out commercially, and I sometimes mix a few sounds from that machine too. In the end, you have this really unique drum kit, which is like your own personal beat machine, and it’s cool to assemble your own drum kit because there’s only one “drum machine” made, so it’s like having serial number #001.

Do you think what you’re looking for with your setup has changed considerably since your New York days?

Yes, because I have grown a lot since my early days with production. It’s been a great journey. These days I have a higher success rate when working and I know what tone I like. An artist’s approach to their tone is one of those areas of audio that is regarded as esoteric since a lot of the boutique audio gear is subjective in its fan base and their opinions. So much of what makes a good record for me is in the areas of tone and timbre, but trying to explain what makes my clocking system so important is not always as readily agreeable as say, mentioning a Prophet V, which is a universally recognized work of art. I also reference my VU meters these days, which is something I ignored for a lot of years and regarded as a rock approach, where you are mixing live drums etc., but it’s an equally pleasant approach for dance music, making sure those meters are gently riding rather than jumping all over the place.

Are you currently using any in-the-box instruments?

I am a big fan of Native Instruments’ Kontakt. I have 25 years worth of my own samples stored on about 300 floppy disks, which I need to convert to Kontakt since I sold my Akai S6000 recently. I am already thinking about just buying another S6000 though. Otherwise, I will take the plunge and buy a copy of Chicken-Sys Translator. Then I can convert all my Ensoniq and Casio floppies too, so even though it might take a week or two of studio time, I would only have to do it once to be future-proof. The main thing is finding a way to preserve my aging library because I have put so many years of work into it.

Software-based instruments are awesome but can also be a point of contention for me due to struggles with timing issues. There is a competitive race to create the most extravagant, over-the-top-sounding beast of a synthesizer plugin but these instruments require buffer sizes of 256 Kbps or higher. This is unacceptable. If I can’t run my sequencer at 64 kbps, or maximum 128, then I will use a hardware sequencer instead. I can make music more reliably, whether it be with hardware or software, when working with small buffer sizes because I like to play instruments in real time—that’s why I like hardware samplers. I also like getting piano sounds or Rhodes sounds from my Korg TR-Rack, for example. Those are ROM-based machines. There are all kinds of sound generators. Analog synths are cool and fun but I generally don’t use more than four simultaneously. They are always necessary for funky and nasty bass lines, however, that’s a department where I really feel they shine.

It’s funny because I have made some of my personal favorite songs with delay compensation completely off, and a buffer size of 64. I like to work without delay compensation engaged because what you hear is what you get. I don’t like to disrupt the timing because I like to play my instruments and I want that snappy feeling. I hope that with the advent of the ELK system we are going to be able to use software instruments from within a Eurorack at extremely low latencies. That is tech worth paying attention to as it develops. That could really be big.

Is there any particular piece of gear that you feel like you’re missing?

I really like the Deckard’s Dream synth. A number of notable producers have expressed their happiness with that synth, Ellen Allien, for example. One of my “grail” synths would be an Ensoniq Fizmo in a rack. Also, Armen NYC refurbishes Akai MPC60s with hugely upgraded RAM and storage, new buttons and everything mint. That would be ace. I mostly would be happiest this year with a pair of racked Behringer Jupiter 8s. Dare to dream, right?

You’re rolling out EPs pretty quickly at the moment. Is this a good time for you?

Yep, I am in a good place. 2019 is off to a great start with regard to Novel Sound. It’s a dream come true to release music professionally. I always tell up-and-comers it is completely worth all the work to become a producer and touring DJ.  Music has so much to give, and there is always something new to learn. On top of that, we are in the midst of a technological revolution. If you survey the history of music, we are in one of the most innovative eras ever.

“I have made plenty of sacrifices in life over the years, worked shitty restaurant jobs to get by when I really should have been doing music, etc. But with my music, I have a clean history.”

How do you maintain quality when you’re releasing so frequently?

I have a rule not to take any short-cuts, musically speaking. I put everything where I think it should be, and I won’t accept lazy decisions from myself during the process. There are, of course, mistakes, but I have managed to adhere to a strict rule: never compromise with making music. I have made plenty of sacrifices in life over the years, worked shitty restaurant jobs to get by when I really should have been doing music, etc. But with my music, I have a clean history.

Do you perceive this to be a purple patch when it comes to music making?

Not really, because I have never had to deal with writer’s block. There is always something for me to do, even if it’s just cutting up recordings of previous sessions. I truly enjoy all of it. If I were to describe my own catalog as I have experienced writing it over the years, I would call it a steady trajectory rather than ups and downs. I am dedicated to music, and each time I work I get a little better. There is so much to learn. You get out of music exactly as much as you dedicate and the coolest part is sometimes you can sit down and listen back to your catalog and it’s like a type of journal. You can hear where you were in life, or maybe one song will remind you of someone you loved, or writing a song in a flat you really enjoyed, etc. And that’s so cool because it’s such a bonus.

What does “Anti-Corporate Music” take you back to, and even that whole album?

It was really just about enjoying life, my enjoyment of life and the joy that DJing and music have given me. The song title, of course, is more serious but the music and the LP was an expression of a joyous life. Actually, when reviewing life and my catalog, I can give that same answer for pretty much any release! Did I mention I enjoy making music?

Do you remember the processes behind this particular track?

That’s an example of a track where I wrote the beats first, and then I became obsessed with making effects stand as a valuable musical element. I had this idea at that time about building an effects chain that you wouldn’t want to change for months, like one delay so elaborate and that would give such a rich tone that the effects in itself would be a type of composition. It was like a Rube Goldberg of reverbs, flangers, and other pedals, all for this one dedicated effect. When I look back, I always like those effects and how thick they are. I still use that approach today some times, where I put everything I have into one effects chain and then write around that.

Did you expect it to be such a success?

I had no idea. The actual reason I gave that tune away as a promo before the LP release was because the digital was a different version than what was released on vinyl and I wanted them both to make it to the listener. Honestly, I still get quite surprised by which tracks find success. The first track on my latest release on Novel Sound #26, the Dance Music EP— that record sold out faster than anything I have done in years, and I almost did not include the tune that people are playing right now. You really never know what will happen. That’s always so exciting about watching a record release.

I always notice that your tracks are filled with all sorts of inspired melodies—warped, melancholic, tense, foreboding etc. Are you playing these separately live? Or sequencing and tracking them along with the drum-machines?

I work alongside drums most of the time, especially for improvising. Lately, however, I have been writing the melodies first at the piano before I turn any other gear on. When you write the melody first, the result will be more songwriter style because you can do the harmonizations and other things like tuning your drums all in support of the melody. The result is, therefore, a melody-driven tune. For other tracks, more grooving and in the pocket tracks, you can make the drums first and then play alongside them as they loop around. One approach is not better than another. You can also let chance take part. For example. John Cage used a pair of dice with his notes assigned to a corresponding number on the dice, then he would roll and let them “write” the melody for him. That approach can be used not only for melody, but you can make the kick #1 on the dice, the snare #2, open hat #3, etc.

“I’d say a lot of my songs—most of them, actually—are the result of experimentation, I really like to answer the question ‘what if?'”

You’re clearly open-minded when it comes to production.

I need to be. There’s no one way to approach music: you get different results from different processes so I orbit different modes of working and I enjoy the variety. Sometimes you sit down and write a tune, or other times you just jam. Occasionally you enter with prepared ideas. Ideally, you are just sitting there and something comes over you. Those are the best moments in music, when you seem to be channeling something bigger than you. I’d say a lot of my songs—most of them, actually—are the result of experimentation. I really like to answer the question “what if?” So, “What would it sound like if I did this?” Then I can go into my room and work to find an answer. I am productive when driven by curiosity.

So how much is jamming and how much is actual writing songs, from left to right?

I bounce between the two. Sometimes I will write melodies on paper, other moments I play them out by ear. Arrangements can be done on paper, too—I like doing it that way because you can map out Phi points and use them to accentuate parts of a song. You can easily sit down with a pen and paper, and work out the Golden Mean, the Fibonacci sequence, or Harmonic series, then use it in your music. There are a number of patterns in the big Euclid book, or from visual art textbooks, etc., all of which can be applied to pitch, loudness, timbre, or duration. I actually made a frequency chart, which I rely on heavily for all things equal-temperament. I have a giant one on the wall in my house.

Can you explain more about how you incorporate these visual art elements or non-direct musical theories into your work?

I like abstraction methods and impressionism and I use those techniques in my music. For example, recording sounds in nature or city areas, then using those recordings as templates for sonic events. Or, if you think of “La Mer” by Claude Debussy, how he created the sound of waves crashing by playing on the piano—that’s musical impressionism. You can take that further using today’s technology, and make literal abstractions of recorded sound effects and environments. So, if he was writing “La Mer” today, he might have first recorded real waves, then used them as a template for his sound. It’s taking the feeling of inspiration from his great work and thinking about how to update that concept using software like Logic or Tracktion.

How would a producer incorporate this chart into their practice?

The Novel Sound reference chart lists the note and corresponding frequency. So, for example, if your bass line has an Eb which is too prominent and needs to be tamed, you can look quickly to the chart to know which frequency to dial up and attenuate. Or, if you want to make that note warmer, you can refer to the chart for the fundamental, and then either boost some even numbered partials or reduce some prime-numbered ones. Even-numbered partials are where the warmth resides, and prime-numbered partials give you “edge.” It’s also interesting to look at what frequency resonates with you sometimes. I find that it helps you to get to know equal-temperament intimately, since it makes up so much of Western music, for so many centuries. If you strike a note and it moves you, look at what frequency you just played, and think of how it makes you feel. Eventually, you know what you like or dislike with a broad range of notes of combination therein.

Can you give an example?

Here is a 232 bar song arrangement (See screenshot below.) By determining where the PHI points lie, you can use these moments to illustrate climactic or memorable parts in a song. You do this by multiplying a given amount by .618, and this will give you the next point. The first line is the whole, or 1/1.

The second line demonstrates the primary point of interest, at 144 bars. I multiplied 232 by .618 and rounded to the nearest logical measure. This marks where the beat comes back in after a long breakdown in many songs, although you don’t have to do the most obvious event there.

Next line, you have the PHI point of the main PHI point so something musical can happen here at 89 bars which will point to the main event. By repeating this process of determining Phi points and their PHI points, you come up with more PHI points, such as 55, 34 and 21 bars. These are building blocks—places where events can happen that accentuate a groove, perhaps where cymbal crashes occur. All these blocks have a forward and inverted position in the timeline, and there is a vortex that exists between them. So, for example, from 89 measures to 110, that’s where something very attention-grabbing could happen. It all comes down to observing one main ratio: .618.

This is the same ratio found in all aspects of life, just like a nautilus. So, by observing these ratios, you are working with nature and people can often feel it, though they may not be able to turn around and explain why everything happens at “just the right time.” You can also break these rules and that will give you something that goes against nature—which is another type of tension in itself. You can ignore it completely too, but by using established forms like this, you can create tensions, releases, or romanticism etc…with consistent intentions.

Basically, the blocks are laid out in this arrangement, and if you have events happening at these points in your song, it will be perceived as being “logical” by the listener. You can continue to find the PHI points of the PHI points, right down to the smallest rhythmic increment if you choose, and by doing this you are creating a conceptual model of some of the most dominant patterns that exist in life and creation. Or, by going against this form, you can really freak people out! Your call.

What percentage of tracks do you release?

It may surprise you to read this, but the answer is almost all of them. I’m not a producer who is sitting on a giant surplus of material. If I see a project through to the end, I release it. I mean, it’s a bit of a fluke that I had the track available for XLR8R+. I had been sitting on the multis for it for so long because I just knew there would be a time and place for it, simply because I liked the song.

How do you know when a track is finished?

I don’t mean this sarcastically, but basically, when you press stop on the recorder. You know while it is recording that you have captured a good take because you feel it.

Looking back at your biggest records, “Man or Mistress,” “Woman is an Angel,” were these different to the rest of your catalog?

You know you are on to something special when you are making the tunes but nobody can guarantee a hit record. I don’t see them being different to other songs though, they are all part of my catalog. It would be boring if I only made hits.

The benefit of being a bedroom producer and keeping in that mindset is that you can easily just make something you enjoy, then think about the other stuff later. I had an interesting experience lately because I am working on an LP right now. And I was driven to make something as advanced as I could, trying to push my own limits and musical technique, etc. But alongside this I have been making some other tunes, a bit more simple, just having fun and blowing off steam with them. And it dawned on me only this week that the tunes I have been noodling around with for fun are the ones that will make up the LP! I was blindsided with this notion. That’s a great benefit to being an independent label owner and artist, because I can just do a total 180 if I want to.

What determines whether a track will be released?

Honestly, it’s a tough question to answer definitively because there is no right way to do things, and there isn’t just one direction either. I make music all the time—I am a music addict. I make music for peace of mind, I do it for joy. I suppose I could say the songs that are giving the most to me when working on them are the ones I release. It’s a gut feeling, if that makes sense.

Do you finish all the tracks you’re working on, or how do you know when to ditch a sketch?

Yes, for the most part. Ninety-nine percent of the time writing a tune I will see it through to the end.

Do you ever produce and keep specific tracks for your DJ sets?

I do. I play exclusively my own music and edits in DJ sets.

So do you have different processes: one for DJ-friendly tracks and the other for tracks that you wish to release?

Yes, exactly. Although, I use different classification. I might think: This is gonna sound really cool! or, I wonder what would happen if I combined this and that, or even, how can I make people feel this certain emotion while on the dance floor?

At what point does it become clear that you’re producing for a release or a DJ tool? And how does this influence your processes?

Just legal limitations, I observe copyright laws with Novel Sound releases but with edits or anything in-between, I play those without publishing limitations. It’s not illegal or even disrespectful to play things in your DJ sets which could not be officially released. For example, I made a track which samples George Kraanz “Din Dah-Dah.” I made this tune knowing I couldn’t release it but I always liked that record because I heard it when I was about 11 years old and it had a big affect on me. I could never get the sample cleared in order to release it, but that doesn’t matter. I do play it all the time and people love it. And I like having all those tunes that are unique to my sets, because it means I am offering something unique as a DJ.

Is music making an immersive process?

Yes. I do like to live inside a song as it unfolds. Some come easy, some take all your life force away. Neither are really better than the other, however they are entirely different beasts.

 

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