Carl Cox & Eric Powell become ‘MD Funk Connection,’ share stories of their roots [Q&A]

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Legends Carl Cox and Eric Powell remain heroes in the house and techno sphere. Despite clocking in three decades each behind the decks, their passion for their craft and drive to continually move forward musically allows them an endurance that has stood the test of time. Paired with this endurance is a profound connection with their dance genres of choice, stemming largely in part from their roots.

Jazz, soul, funk, and disco are as deeply embedded in house and techno as they are in Cox and Powell’s musical backgrounds. Both their parents exposed them at a young age; Carl, for example, recalls a childhood playing classic records at family gatherings. Similarly, Eric’s hunger for jazz and funk led to him sneaking out of school to ravishly consume new albums. Hearing of their pasts greatly clarifies the present — it seems as though curating and purveying these soulful sounds that moved them so much, in one form or another, was a path they were both meant to travel down.

Three decades after earning their stripes on the DJ circuit, it’s time for Powell and Cox to pay respect, and revive the jazz/disco/funk side of them. Their evolution subtly made its introduction a decade ago, when the two began throwing their Mobile Disco (MD) parties across Australia. Throwing events simply wasn’t enough, however; there was a desire for something deeper, more tangible. Thus, both icons converged their talents and creative vision into a brand new project based around the Mobile Disco brand: MD Funk Connection.

The main M.O. of the project aside from its event arm is to gather new and old live artists currently upholding the music that is the backbone of Cox & Powell’s existences, and output music alongside them. Based off the first single, what we have is a refreshing endeavor that elicits an organic, empathetic response in its listeners. They’ve taken Mass Production’s classic “Shante,” and remastered it with a bit more of a modern flair that preserves the original’s integrity. In the future, more original works are expected.

Curious as ever, Dancing Astronaut flagged down MD Funk Connection to spill some details on the project’s inspiration, the profound influence their roots have played in their dance careers, future plans, and more.


Obviously both of you are very familiar with just how much funk, disco, & jazz have influenced/helped the birth of dance music. We’d love to hear you guys give us a history of this influence in your own words!
We both have West Indian heritage – Carl’s parents are from Barbados and Eric’s dad is from St Kitts, Carl grew up in the south of England and Eric grew up in the north of England, listening to soul, bluebeat, reggae, funk and jazz.

In our teens we went to All Dayers – Caister/Blackpool Mecca – great times and great music. Amazing self contained bands – Slave, Mass Production, early Jeff Lorber Fusion, Funkadelic, Parliament, Maze, Brass Construction, Eric says he always thought he was a rebel sneaking off from school to listen to new jazz/funk albums. A ten year old Carl Cox would play records at his dad house parties. Spending your last five pounds on an album, having to walk home because you had spent your bus fare on records. When we old enough to go out, it was at the end of disco for some people, but looking back it was the start of house music, with the benefit of hindsight you can see the musical progression.

What is it about jazz and funk that make them such soulful and timeless genres, in your opinions?
The musicians, the singers – gospel vocals mixed with experimentation of jazz and the locked down groove of funk – the perfect storm allowed the genre to grow and develop.

Who were your favourite musicians growing up that have played the most influence in your sound?
Nile Rodgers, George Clinton, Ronnie Laws, Randy Muller, all grooved based producer musicians and all little bit different – Nile Rodgers and Chic was disco with soul, George Clinton the ultimate funk producer, Ronnie Laws, including his sisters and brother Hubert Laws, Debra Laws, Eloise Laws, Randy Muller and Brass Construction almost rock but never with out his unique brand of funk, probably our favourite producer was Jimmy Douglas – he was so young when he produced “Slave” Eric Powell thinks those albums were his heaviest influence especially “Snap Shot”.

Carl’s favourite “Slave” album is “Just A Touch of Love”

On that note, did you two have any specific songs, artists or eras within funk/jazz/disco in mind to emulate while writing ‘Shante?’
Shante is a version of Mass Productions “Shante”, its a track we had been playing at our Soul and Funk parties, other tracks are “Welcome Aboard” – Webster Lewis, “Lovers Holiday” – Change, P-Funk All Stars – Hydraulic Pump

Who are your favorite acts in jazz and funk at the moment? Dream collaborators for future tracks?
We have a house/disco collaboration with Nile Rodgers that we are working on, we would love to work with Jimmy Douglas, on the U.K. side we are also hoping to do something with the Incognito guys and we are really excited about a revisit of a George Clinton classic – we got access to the original twenty four track tape.

We read that MD Funk Connection arose from your Mobile Disco parties that you’d throw in Australia. Any plans to bring those parties out to an international setting?
We are just about to do a “Mobile Disco” party in Bali, the location is off the hook – Ulu Cliffhouse, absolutely amazing venue, Both of us are looking forward to doing something in Europe and the States in the near future.

Tell us more about the decision to create a whole project around Mobile Disco in general. Why is now the right time to unleash it, and was there a particular moment that made you want to evolve the project past simple parties in your localities?
We have been doing our soul, funk and disco parties for ten years now, after seeing the response to some of those classics and the hard to find tracks we personally thought we were at a stage were we could re-imagine some of the tracks, write some originals, we have got a fantastic producer/engineer in “Joe Roberts” in the U.K. and Chris Coe in Australia plus an amazing array of musicians in both Australia and the U.K. – the timing was just right for us and we think that we could do justice to the soul funk disco genres.

What is your methodology for recording music under the MD Funk Connection project? Do you employ live instrumentation? Do you write through jam sessions and edit on the computer, or are all your sounds synthesised already and you mostly produce as you would a usual track?
So far all the tracks have been live musicians, We have a brain storm, talk to Joe and Chris, work out if we can find the right musicians and vocalists, then off we go – it is really exciting, its a different way of working than when you are solo in front of the computer. We are still into writing tracks in front of the computer but this gives us a slightly different creative outlet.

Which record stores are your favourite for finding jazz & funk records for your collection? What other places do you go to to search for records?
We both have extensive record collections, its more about disappearing sorting through our vinyl, coming up with tracks and artists that we forgot about. A track might come to mind then its scouring online retailers rather than going to record shops, we don’t live that close to any vinyl stores.

When did you two first start building your collection of jazz and funk records? Carl, I believe I read you began during your childhood?
We both started as kids – very young around nine years old could have even been younger, its amazing how similar, both of us would ask for albums for birthdays and Christmas.

If someone wanted to know more about jazz and funk, which tracks would you tell them to start out with?
Expansions by Lonnie Liston Smith, Jazz Carnival – Azymuth.

What other plans and ideas do you have in store for MD Funk connection in the future?
Its pretty organic project – no rush, enjoying ourselves in the studio, working with live musicians – we are finishing of a reggae track at the moment, the next track will be on a latin tip maybe.

#End.

Order a copy of ‘Shante’ here

Feature Image found on: joy.org

Flume just dropped a brand new ID at Australia’s Field Day Festival [Watch]

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Flume headshot photo

A definitive time scale by which new Flume music will arrive remains elusive, but the ID that the Australian producer shared during a recent performance at Australia’s Field Day Festival arrives as evidence of time spent in the studio.

Defined by its eccentric electronic embellishments and mounting percussive elements, the ID bears the distinct trappings not only of a Flume release, but of a would-be fan favorite, pending release.

H/T: Run The Trap

Calvin Harris pledged to remix a Spice Girls song if Australia legalized gay marriage

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Back in 2012, Calvin Harris reportedly pledged to remix the Spice Girls classic “2 Become 1” if Australia eventually legalized marriage equality.

Calvin Harris likely forgot about the promise he made half a decade ago, but Filip Odzak has certainly not forgotten about the Scottish superstar’s agreement with him. After the Australian House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of same sex marriage, Odzak was quick to remind Harris of their gentleman’s bet.

Odzak took to social media following the legislation’s passing, proclaiming that “We made a deal — sealed with a handshake,” adding that he has been waiting a lengthy five years for this. “I’m very excited to hear what you do with the track to celebrate the occasion.”

Even Spice Girl’s own Emma Bunton weighed in on the wager, “Let’s spice up Calvin Harris! It would be fab for Calvin to remix ’2 Become 1,’” she told British outlet The Sun.

It is unclear whether or not Calvin Harris will follow through with the bet, but Odzak is holding out hope, going so far as to state in an interview with Australia’s Power Back Radio show, “You’re very rich, you can have anything you want. I’ve got nothing, just do this for me.”

Here’s to hoping, for Odzak’s sake, that Harris does good on his word.

 

Calvin Harris

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Alison Wonderland helps women propose at Australian show in honor of gay marriage

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Australia joined the ranks of 25 other countries to officially legalize gay marriage on December 7, causing a wave of celebration over a legal battle that has been drawn out in the country for 13 years.

Alison Wonderland was on tour in home country at the height of festivities surrounding this development, and thus decided to use her gig in Sydney to show her support in an emotive fashion. The songstress assisted a woman in making her proposal unforgettable bringing the happy couple on stage and later giving them a shout-out on Twitter while expressing pride in her country.

The battle for marriage rights began in 2004, when the parliament amended the Marriage Act to ban the institution for gays. Since then, an overwhelming display of support for the return of their rights led to a new vote that officiated gay marriage as a legal right.

 

Alison Wonderland

 

 

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Cashmere Cat’s love for Australia inspires new mix

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On most every front, Cashmere Cat has had a standout 2017. The enigmatic producer released his debut album, 9, that marked a pronounced move into an intriguing experimental style — to say nothing of his production credits on some of the biggest hits for other artists.

The Norway native isn’t slowing down, however, as he’s released a new, near hour-long mix inspired by his love for the island continent of Australia. Originally broadcast on Australia’s Triple J radio station, the mix features tracks from the likes of Four Tet, Machinedrum, frequent collaborator Sinjin Hawke, and, of course, Cashmere Cat himself.

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Sydney’s getting an insane new warehouse venue as a part of ‘The Warehouse Collective’ music series

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Time to head down under, as Sydney, Australia is set to welcome a vast new warehouse space.

Set to open in Technology Park, the venue is part of an upcoming music series entitled The Warehouse Collective, a project created by the Sydney-based event organization The Division Agency, the mastermind behind events like Days Like This festival and the Goodbar events.

The new space comes on the heels of a questionable future for Sydney’s nightlife. Introduced in 2014, the city’s infamous lockout laws forced a 1:30 a.m. lockout at all clubs and 3 a.m. cease-service policy for all nightclubs and bars in central Sydney and the Kings Cross precinct.

Numerous lockout-law opposition groups have propped up in the city over the last three years, with artists following in their footsteps, offering their support. Nightlife regulators, ones like the Division Agency, still manage to further the musical endeavors in a city. They’re calling The Warehouse Collective “a warehouse experience on a scale never before seen in Sydney”.

And while the group is an innovator of all things house and techno, their new warehouse space will surely see out a series of huge lineups, pristine sound and lighting, and serve up unforgettable experiences.

The first of the events will take place Dec. 16 and will be headlined by the legendary Australian duo The Presets, featuring a formidable cast of support acts including Bag Raiders (live), Kilter, Nyxen, and LUCY CLICHE (live).

Tickets and more information are available here.

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Photo Credit: TheWarehouseCollective/Facebook

The Gaslamp Killer’s Australian Tour has been canceled following sexual assault allegations

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Following the sexual assault allegations recently levied made at The Gaslamp Killer on Twitter, the LA-based producer has been experiencing massive professional fall out. First, the LA party series Low End Theory announced it would be parting ways with the artist known as William Bensussen.

Now, Bensussen’s upcoming Australian tour has been cancelled, with promoters, The Operatives, saying it was “the only option.” The producer was booked for Melbourne New Year’s Day event “Let Them Eat Cake,” Western Australia’s “Breakfast,” and New Zealand’s Northern Bass festival.

The Gaslamp Killer has also issued a statement in response denying the allegations that he drugged and assaulted two women back in 2013.

H/T: Mixmag

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Listen to Flight Facilities’ Samsung S8 x Boiler Room Sydney DJ Set

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Few duos in the world of dance music have amassed as loyal and global of a following as Australian supergroup Flight Facilities. Known for their enchanting brand of nu-disco and deep house, they’ve created an unmistakable trademark style and sound. This year the twosome formerly known as Hugo and Jimmy made their Boiler Room debuted in their native Australia to a packed out crowd in Sydney. Flight Facilities showcased their immense musical prowess throughout the nearly two-hour performance, filling the intimate setting with a quirky and euphoric blend of music that communicated their aesthetic.

Boiler Room has long established itself as one of the most cutting-edge events in dance culture and this performance from Flight Facilities perfectly sums up what listeners can expect from this iconic brand. Watch the video from Flight Facilities’ performance in Sydney on Boiler Room’s Youtube Channel.

 

 

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Australia’s on site pill testing trials at local festivals will not proceed

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Australia was poised to take a step in an unprecedented direction with the establishment of the country’s first pill testing initiative at a festival. The effort was set for its first deployment Canberra’s Spilt Milk music festival, though it has now been cancelled.

The trial was previously approved by The Labor Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government in September after the ACT engaged in talks with the Safety Testing Advisory Service at Festivals and Events (STA-SAFE) consortium. The consortium had agreed to take on the responsibility for running and supervising the testing service.

And yet, despite the ACT and STA-SAFE’s prior negotiations, organizers of the Spilt Milk festival released a statement that noted that they had not received the documentation from STA-SAFE that would permit the trials to be run on federal land. In order for the trials to proceed, Spilt Milk producers would need an operational plan, a risk assessment, and insurance and legal framework information. With the proper documentation in their possession, festival orchestrators would then be able to submit the paperwork to the National Capital Authority (NCA), the body that would then need to issue a permit to allow the trials to run. Without this documentation, a permit could not be obtained, and the trials would halt before even getting a chance to get started.

STA-SAFE member, Dr. David Caldicott told ABC Radio that STA-SAFE had not fielded a request for such documentation, commenting that the group has “…provided every piece of documentation that has been requested.” Caldicott gestured towards political pressure, identifying such pressure as the likely culprit in the trials’ failure to advance. The ACT Liberal Party’s health spokeswoman, Vicki Dunne, was quoted in August stating “The Spilt Milk festival is at Commonwealth Park, which is on Commonwealth (federal) land. Pill testing will need Commonwealth Government approval and I doubt that they will give it.”

The ACT Liberal Party has since taken credit for thwarting the pill testing plans.

H/T: Mixmag | Source: ABC 

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Man arrested after police find bag of MDMA with contact info

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There are several things people should put their contact information on: phones, wallets, a drunk best friend on her 21st birthday. Drugs, however, might not be the smartest thing to label “return to sender.”

An attendee of Maroochydore Music and Visual Arts Festival in Queensland, Australia was arrested at the end of August after a police dog found his bag of MDMA — complete with contact information. The baggie, labeled “MDMA, if found call,” was also inscribed with his full name and phone number, making it easy for officers to find the 21-year-old.

He’s due to appear in court at the end of the month, and is charged with possessing a dangerous drug.

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