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Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
Two titans have merged into a singular powerful force, introduced to the world as Marsian. Marc Houle is one member driving this new force, bringing his immense expertise in hardware and boundary-leaping electronica, house, and techno to the fold. Meanwhile, Octopus owner Sian adds a searing flair to Marsian that ties the group’s collective talents together.
Their time has been brief, but monumental. Marsian’s first release, X-Rays, brought to light just how complementary their diverse talents are. Since then, the pair have been impressing the music scene at large with their array of hard-hitting, technical works that explore the realms of techno, acid, and electro. They’ve solidified their presence in the underground through an introductory tour as well, which saw them pummeling their audiences with gripping live performances.
Who are Marsian, really? DA sought out to uncover more of this intriguing new act in this edition of Techno Tuesday, where we dive into the project’s nascence, inspirations, and where they’re looking to take Marsian in the future. Enjoy our premiere of “Convergence,” off their newest Chromatic EP, while learning about what makes Marsian who they are.
Let’s first talk about your history together. How long have you known each other/when did you begin working together, and ultimately what led to a more concrete partnership and the formation of Marsian?
M: This is a mystery to us. It’s like we woke up one day and it was all happening. I know we go way back I think right?
S: I think we first met many years ago and always just kind of clicked with our music and our renegade attitudes. The collaboration just kind of spawned out of us sharing some tracks and ideas with one another and seeing how well our sounds meshed.
Whose idea was it to come up with the punny, yet appropriate name for your project?
M: Frankly we think it’s kinda stupid how people from Mars are called Martians. It should be Marsians and everyone knows it. We’re just cementing the obvious out there.
S: Truth be told, myself and Marc both had some very interesting, supernatural childhood experiences, some people say abduction or surprise adoption…but we prefer to stay private about these things.
What kinds of things have you two explored (or are planning to explore) in this project that you normally wouldn’t express under your individual projects?
M: For me it’s like we’re heading down a dark road with parties going on all over. It’s a bit menacing but there’s too much fun going on for it to be scary.
S: With the live performance it’s really uncharted territory with each performance taking on a life of its own. With our productions each track we make feels like something fresh and exciting since we work a lot remotely bouncing ideas off of one another some really cool sounds evolve from what our normal style would be.
Your debut in Detroit was quite impressive; we enjoyed the live setup. Are you planning on doing live performances for all your gigs? What does your setup look like and what’s your favorite thing to play around with on stage?
M: I think it’s always going to be live. That’s the best way to get both our inputs at once. If it’s just a DJ set, everything’s sort of set in stone and lacks the flexibility we have going now. I’m still trying to find the perfect synth to take on stage that lets me have the wide range of sounds I need out there. The TR-8 kick has been a savior whenever we needed more punch.
S: The live aspect of the collaboration is so dynamic and ever-changing that I think that’s one of the most exciting parts about it so I don’t see us veering away from doing a live performance. Our setup is definitely ever changing and we’re always on the hunt for that next piece of gear that will bring some new other-worldy sounds to our performances.
You’ve noted in the past that your minds have melded together into a new style, and that what’s coming out of Marsian is a more experimental, club-oriented sound. Can you go into detail on some of the more experimental things you’ve been trying out? Ie, new synth techniques, sample usage, genre blending, etc?
M: On a lot of the tracks we’ve been working on, I’d make a whole bunch of synth parts and Graham (Sian) had the good sense to strip it down to the essentials and focus on the sounds and groove. I think the kick and bass are way stronger than on anything I ever make alone.
S: Marc’s so good at making those truly weird and mind-melting elements of the tracks and I think that coupled with the heavier grooves I tend to make it’s really created a powerful new experimental vibe that really works on the dance floor.
On that note, what is the farthest you guys would be willing to push the Marsian project? Do you ever fancy yourselves doing something completely unexpected, like dnb or glitchy modular music?
M: Right now I’m happy delving deeper into the sound we have started. If there ever came a time it was no longer interesting, I think we would have to rethink things. But we have so much further to go down this road that it’s not really a possibility.
S: I think the sound we’ve got going on right now is so exciting and seems to really be working at all of our performances, that we will likely keep delving into our current sound like Marc said, doing what we feel… but who knows what we’ll come up with next, the possibilities are opening up.
How do you two normally make music together given the distance? Do you fly over to each others’ studios and physically work together, or do you mainly email projects back-and-forth to each other? How does a general day of producing go in the Marsian world?
M: Luckily we’ve gotten to the point where transferring mass amounts of data back and forth is no problem. We work in separated parts since Graham is mostly in Ableton and this old man is still using Cubase. It’s kinda nice that way because we can use the best of both worlds and mix it all together. Speaking of mixing, the final tracks get mixed on an SSL desk with some great effects to add space and warmth.
S: It’s great to be living in a time where we can work together even though we live so far from one another. A lot of times one of us comes up with some ideas and shoots them over to the other and this process goes back and forth a bit till we have a finished product. Technology makes it so easy these days.
Generic, but difficult question – don’t you love these? Anywho…if you were asked to define ‘Marsian’ through just one of your productions thus far, which would it be?
S: I think “Chromatic” probably, it’s such a raw track that really highlights both of our vibes so well into one track. Both off center and also quite dance floor, weirdly works out somehow.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind this particular EP? How did it come about, and who got the ball rolling on it?
S: Well as we mentioned above, we both kind of get elements going for a track and then see where it goes, but “Convergence” really just started with one sound…..the rave stab. This was the anchor for building a world of sounds around.
When and where can we expect to see more Marsian?
G: After a busy summer of touring we’re taking a little break to get some new music out there, but we’ve got a USA tour coming soon. Stay tuned for more info & announcements.
Photo credit: The Octopus Team