CloZee tells a tale of finding her way in the studio and the intricate album that results [Q+A]

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CloZee tells a tale of finding her way in the studio and the intricate album that results [Q+A]CloZee BangOn NYC Halloween

Out of France comes a blossoming new talent specializing in left-field bass and electronica. CloZee has quickly made her mark on the low end of dance music for her keen ear for sound design and for her moody, eclectic sound since her start in 2011, catching attention of other stalwarts like Emancipator, The Glitch Mob, and more. Having released her debut LP in 2012, the complex and instrumental OckeFilms Soundtrack, the arrival of her sophomore Evasion had been highly anticipated and comes with even higher expectations. Luckily, CloZee isn’t one to disappoint; Evasion serves as not only a fitting follow-up to OckeFilms Soundtrack, but also as a marker of her artistic progress thus far. She continues her play at different textures and free-flowing bass arrangement, telling a transcendent tale across ten tracks that feels even more put together than its compilation-focused predecessor. It’s the mark of an artist who spent a good while poring over her craft to put out the best product she could.

CloZee has been following quite the busy schedule as of late, touring in support of her album across the globe. Right before she set off on her leg around the states, we nabbed the forward-thinking musicmaker to talk about the inspiration behind Evasion, her identity, and beyond.


How does this album compare to your previous work?
My past projects (‘Harmony’, ‘Revolution’, ‘Inner Peace’ etc) were all EPs, so quite shorter, including different tunes I made without thinking of the project as a whole. There were more like « compilations » of tunes I made thorough the year of the release, whenever I had time to work in the studio between all my different tours.
For ‘EVASION’, I took the time to sit in the studio for a few months to compose all the tracks during that period, thinking of the story I wanted to tell, inspired by all my past adventures and experiences while touring, traveling, meeting new people and discovering new landscapes.

How does your extensive travel influence your music-making?
What inspires me the most when I’m travelling is to discover new landscapes, different type of nature, and all the memories that come with those moments. It could be a sunset in Malta, a hike in Hawaii, swimming in a beautiful waterfall in Costa Rica, walking by night in an empty street in Tokyo etc. Those memories and experiences are what brings me inspiration when I’m back in the studio.

What sort of emotions/atmosphere are you trying to evoke with this new record?
All my tracks have different stories, inspiration, but the main idea I’m trying to communicate with my music is always positive, motivating. ‘Evasion’ in French means « escaping reality » when it’s music related. I want the listeners to be transported into their own secret places, feel in peace with themselves, and feel like they can overcome any challenges in their life.

Can you elaborate on your live show experience?
For this tour, I wanted to increase the visual experience, instead of common DJ setup. For the first time, we bring production (lights, lasers) and we’re pretty much playing the same live show and story every night. When they enter the venue, I want the people to forget all their problems: I want them to get lost in the music, lights and lasers. I want them to be happier and recharged at the end of the show.

How has your artistic identity in general evolved over the years?
I feel like with this album I came back to my beginnings, my original feelings when I compose music. When I started to make electronic music (when I was like 18) I didn’t give a damn about trying to produce music for the dance floor. I just made the music I wanted, depending on my mood and emotions. This is exactly how I feel now again, but it didn’t used to be like that.

When I started to play shows when I was 21, my music switched a bit on the heavier side, because this is what promoters would book me for. They don’t want to book someone who’s gonna play Trip-Hop or Downtempo (at least not from an unknown artist). I was more categorized in the ‘Glitch-Hop’ and ‘Bass Music’ scene, and was more DJing to try to give what people want (to dance to). I liked that period, but it was more to put my name out there, and get to tour in clubs. At some point, I missed the more melodic and ‘storytelling’ side of my sets and songs.

Since 2 years ago, I felt like I reached a point where I could do more experimental music, propose something deeper and more intimate. In my sets, I started to play more and more my own tunes, and produce tracks that are all a part of me.

What sort of legacy do you hope to leave behind in the music world?
I didn’t think about that actually, I’m just doing my own thing, doing what I love and trying to make people happy. If my music leaves anything particular behind, then I’d be very satisfied, but it wouldn’t be on purpose.


Grab a copy of ‘Evasion’ here

Photo credit: CloZee’s team

Techno Tuesday: Jeniluv takes us beneath LA’s surface ahead of Secret Project Festival

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Techno Tuesday: Jeniluv takes us beneath LA’s surface ahead of Secret Project FestivalJeniluv Press

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.

Los Angeles’ vibrant underground dance sphere wouldn’t be where it is today without figures like Jeniluv leading the charge behind-the-scenes. The tenured DJ, producer, and music lover has been a prime fixture of both the San Francisco and LA scenes for a combined 20 years, moving back to LA permanently in 2007 to cultivate her Making Shapes events brand into the stalwart it is today.

Jeniluv is a respected figure for good reason; she’s never once compromised her passions, and continues to spend her time helping others up, either through booking, collaborations, or in showcasing the finest below-surface house, acid, and techno records one can dig for. It’s because of her deep understanding of and integration into the LA scene, and her proven history of successful event production, that Insomniac tapped her talents for their debut Secret Project Festival. The festival represents a whole new foray for the brand, pairing up with David Chang’s majordōmo to create an exclusive menu, and Apotheke for a cutting-edge array of cocktails. It’s an event for the more mature dance fans in their base, which is sealed into place with headliners like Carl Cox, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Dixon, Peggy Gou, and more. Meanwhile, Jeniluv and other LA crews have been brought on to not only bring a sense of authenticity, but also to show off just how thriving the city’s music culture is — if one looks deep enough.

We sat down with Jeniluv to quiz her a bit about her musical upbringing, her inspirations, playing Secret Project, and more ahead of the show. Last-minute tickets can be grabbed here.


Let’s get started with the basics: what was your path into the LA underground in the 90s? Did it happen by chance, or did you fall in love with the music and seek it out?
I was 15 years old and went to school in Long Beach, California. I collected classic rock records mostly; we listened to local emo or backyard bands like Sublime. We skated half pipe to punk rock and listened to Dj Drez hip-hop cassette tapes. I had never heard of House music, or dance music beats besides maybe 80s for example, or Everything but The Girl. One day, a latina girl I had a crush on walked up to me and asked me if I wanted to go to LA that weekend and hear some house music. I was like ‘Whats that??”

I jumped into her older brother’s car Saturday night and we headed to Echo Park to pick up a few of their friends. We stopped at a few places so they could spray some graffiti, before ending up on the east side at a warehouse on the railroad tracks. The music was not on yet, but people were arriving. I saw a crew of kids carrying several crates of records into the entrance, following someone. I remember feeling mesmerized by all the movement and the warehouse environment.

We were at an “Unlock The House” party, and once inside, the music started. Doc Martin was the DJ and his record crates lined the wall behind him, about 10 crates total. There were four turntables and a massive sound system pumping out bass like I’d never heard, sounds and rhythms both acid and tribal. “DEEP HOUSE,” they called it — and house music roots are deep in Los Angeles. The crowd was mostly chicano and local to Los Angeles. I was the loco white girl dancing on my first ecstasy that night and no one seemed to mind at all! I fell in love with house music and went “raving” every weekend. I am still good friends with those kids today, 25 years later we share dancefloors.

On that note, what drew you to electronica early on, and what is it about house/techno that has kept the fire alive for you for so long?
I found freedom. The music changed me as a person, the people embrace me as I am, the places I have traveled because of the music — and my global dance music family.

Can you spill a couple crazy rave stories from your time in the scene?
I need time to integrate my experiences but i just keep pushing on into more — it’s all a blur. Good times, bad times — this is a harsh and beautiful lifestyle. Most memories that come to mind are illicit, about death or too amazing to put into words.

You’ve made it on your own successfully as an underground artist for so long. The beauty is that you’ve done this while still keeping your integrity and humility. Do you have any words of wisdom to impart on younger artists about success/what it means, and what they can do to find this in their own careers?
If you love it, it will take everything you have to remain a part of it. To have it be what you do with your life, you will need to carve your own way into a rock. Don’t listen to anyone not worth listening to. Just do you — people respect that. Remain open to all kinds of music and your collection will build in many directions. Develop your own sound and style — people will catch on.

Who have been some of your biggest figures of inspiration throughout the years?
Doc Martin, Solar, Justin Martin, Jennifer Cardini, Juan Atkins, Move D, and DJ Harvey — to name a few for a variety of reasons… along with my current role model underground DJs and best friends in music, Heidi Lawden and Masha.

What is the current LA scene needing now (if anything), and what can we as fans do to help?
Its mayhem here, every weekend there are several parties with big line ups. We are one of the leading weekender hubs for dance music in the world, now. But what we need is a weekday scene.

Let’s pivot now into Secret Project territory – first off, have you ever played any events in Chinatown before? How has this area changed in your eyes over the years?
I have played at local Chinatown bar’s General Lee’s and Grand Star Jazz Club back when heavy disco laden nights like Sunny Side up and Full Frontal Disco frequented them. There used to be this big party in the alley next to the area where Harvey and Guy Gerber do their party — an alley take over as opposed to a block party, I forget who did that. It has a fun history, and promoters are taking more advantage of the unique daytime space now.

How did you get involved with Secret Project?
My partner in Making Shapes, SONNS, called me up and said we were playing together. I think initially we were going to do a back to back set, but now we have individual set times.

Aside from yourself (your set’s going to be awesome), who else should Secret Project fans be looking forward to most on the lineup that aren’t the main headliners, and why?
Octa Octa — live? Peggy Gou — good time! SONNS — LA prodigy and party boy.

What kind of set do you have planned for Secret Project? Are you going to douse us in acid, lay down some hard techno, some grooving house, a mix?
Depends on my set time, I have been buying, downloading, and throwing music in a folder waiting to dissect it closer to date. Probably early day stuff that’s interesting to both listen and dance to, beckoning you to the dancefloor.

What other aspects of the festival excite you most?
A two day line up in Los Angeles that is stacked with these artists just has not happened here before.

Do feel Secret Project has the potential to set a precedent for other large organizers to support local talent scenes?
YES

Finally, what else is coming up for Jeniluv in the near future?
Asia tour in February with Solar and DJ Nobu, also some snow boarding together! My new project ‘Psychicbody’ is a casual label, mix series and after hours event in Los Angeles. Also, The Dusk Festival, Southern California — tba

Australian producer Nyxen gives indie-electronic music a refreshing twist, and now we know why [Interview]

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Australian producer Nyxen gives indie-electronic music a refreshing twist, and now we know why [Interview]Nyen Press Shot

Sometimes the best electronic music producers are those who stumbled into the genre — rather than those who sought it out. The quickly-ascending Nyxen is a perfect example of the former, thanks to her cool, instrumental-infused tunes that are quickly making her a name in the industry. She is the perfect example of how a diverse musical background can lead to a fresh take on electronic music, and prove how sometimes even the most seemingly unrelated forms of music can come to life when a producer is able to pull from a wide array of musical influences.

Tokyo-born and Sydney, Australia based, Chelsea Lester grew up playing any instrument she could get her hands on. She began with the keyboard and the violin. At 11, she finally convinced her mom to buy her a guitar, which she cites truly sparked her obsession with music. She remembers, “when I was in high school, I’d play around with pretty much every instrument the school music room had to offer, and I’d sneak into my sisters room and play her bass guitar when she wasn’t home. Homework for me was dumping my books in a pile and plugging my amp in!” Her singular focus on music, while seemingly risky, has never been a choice for her. When asked what her backup plan is should music not work out, Lester notes that she does not have one. Music is it for her, and it has always been her one true passion.

Lester was initially inspired by the Synthetic Band phase in the early 2000’s, citing acts like Miike Snow and MGMT as early influences. She started recording her own instrumentals, becoming enamored by the idea that she could record herself, and modify the recordings to sound exactly as she wanted them to. This led to her playing around with Ableton, which allowed her to expand her sonic repertoire into endless opportunities that the software provides. She reflects on this realization, noting, “when I started using Ableton, it kind’ve opened up this whole new world where you can have all these different layers of sound complimenting each other, rather than just one or two layers.” That’s when Lester went from just a musician to an “electronic music producer.”

What is most unique about Lester’s experience is that her foray into Ableton and music production coincided with her 18th birthday, and therefore entrance into the world of clubbing and productions coming to life. She talks about this, saying, “I had just turned 18 at the time, so I was experiencing clubbing and electronic music in a new setting, so I think it was a super natural direction to go in because of all the sounds I was hearing in these crazy new environments.”

While the electronic music world was certainly not where she came from, it is a natural future given Lester’s fascination with production and blending her passion for instrumentals with the idea of her sound design coming to life. Lester’s moniker Nyxen has slowly been ascending into electronic music notoriety, and she really got her start in 2015 after signing to Unknown Records. Since then, she has amassed over 10 million streams on Spotify alone across hit tracks “Running,” “In The City,” and now newest release “Chains,” among others.

One unifying theme across her current roster of releases is that she is the featured vocalist on all of her tracks. She notes that vocals have always been a secondary component to her music, so she has not felt the need to bring in outside vocalists just yet. As her music progresses and she releases a few more instrumental based tracks, she says she would be interested in bringing in more outside vocalists to add a new dynamic to her music.

There will undoubtedly be a place for Nyxen in the electrosphere, as her music continues to spark interest thanks to its much needed and refreshing sound. While her touring is mainly confined to Australia for the time being, she dreams of performing at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, CO. Nyxen’s tunes are what anyone needs on a relaxing summer day, so take a listen to smooth “Chains” as the season comes to a close.


What is your musical background? You play a few instruments- can you tell us about that?
I grew up playing a few instruments (the violin and keyboard), but I was always fascinated by guitars. I begged my parents for one, and when I was around 11 or 12 my mum finally caved and bought me an acoustic, and my obsession evolved from there. When I was in high school, I’d play around with pretty much every instrument the school music room had on offer, and I’d sneak into my sisters room and play her bass guitar when she wasn’t home. Homework for me was dumping my books in a pile and plugging my amp in!

What inspired you to become an electronic music producer?
I really liked the idea of being able to record all the things I had previously been playing with my guitar. Instead of recording snippets of songs on my old Nokia, I could make something and have an mp3 file to listen back to, sounding exactly how I wanted it to. When I started using Ableton, it kind of opened up this whole new world where you can have all these different layers of sound complimenting each other rather than just one or two layers. I had just turned 18 at the time, so I was experiencing clubbing and electronic music in a new setting, so I think it was a super natural direction to go in because of all the sounds I was hearing in these crazy new environments.

If you weren’t producing music, what would you be doing in terms of a career?
I genuinely have no idea what I would be doing. Music has been the only thing I’ve ever loved doing, so I can’t imagine what I’d be doing if it wasn’t this.

Should we expect to hear your vocals in all of your releases moving forward? Or do you see yourself branching out and producing tracks with other people’s vocals at some point?
I’d definitely love to work with another vocalist on some music! I’ve worked with an amazing vocalist before on an unreleased song. I’ve always used my vocals within my songs- they’ve just not been the main narrative of the music. Most of the new music I’ve been working on has a main vocal line, so definitely expect more of that, but I’d like to put out a few more instrumentals, and would love to get another singer on board to add a different dimension/vibe.

Is there anywhere you are dying to play that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
There are so many places I want to play. I would LOVE to play at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre one day. That would be an absolute dream. It looks like the most stunning venue, and the idea that these rocks have just formed in that way over millions of years to form perfect acoustics is mind-blowing for me, so I’d completely lose it if I ever got to play there (or even just see a show there).

When you aren’t producing music, what are you doing in your free time?
I’m a little bit boring haha I just really like hanging out with my friends, eating ramen, and usually if I’m cruising around at home, I’ll pull out my acoustic and have a little strum. I also play on a basketball team, so you might find me in a park having a little shoot.

What’s your weirdest habit? Conversely, do you have any pet peeves?
I have a few pretty weird habits! I say “hectic,” “sick” and “boom” an excessive amount, and I talk with my arms a bit too much. I don’t really have any pet peeves. My friends would probably say differently haha, but I can’t think of anything.

What is something your fans probably don’t know about you that you would like them to?
I went through a pretty rough time a few years ago where I didn’t really have anywhere to live for a little while, and was super lucky that I’m surrounded by beautiful people who helped me out.
I ended up moving in with my friends’ family, who I consider my extended family now, and I was working as a truck driver to free up time to work on music. I’ve always used music as an outlet to express how I feel or how I want to feel, so it means pretty much everything to me that people want to join me on this journey.

If you could hand pick a mentor as you kickstart your career, who would it be?
I’d probably pick Jai Paul. His style of producing is the sickest thing, and he has this talent for getting sounds to breeze across the song abruptly in the best kind’ve way. It’s such a perfect mix of electronic elements and more organic sounds like guitars and vocals. I’d also really like to hear some of his new music because I’ve had three songs on repeat for about 6 years now.

Still doing the D.A.N.C.E. a decade later: Justice on 10 years together, ‘Woman Worldwide,’ and what the future holds for the greatest dance-rock band of all time [Interview]

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Still doing the D.A.N.C.E. a decade later: Justice on 10 years together, ‘Woman Worldwide,’ and what the future holds for the greatest dance-rock band of all time [Interview]Justice Julian Bajsel Coachella C014875

Growing up with one French parent, as a child I was exposed to a more-than-healthy amount of Gypsy Kings. My Parisian mother, her questionable selections aside, always maintained music as a strong element of family life. However, somehow in raising someone who grew up to be a dance music journalist, my parents often have no idea what I do for work. Occasionally some dance music does break through their Baby Boomer consciousness though, and most often over the course of the last decade, it’s been courtesy of French electronic icons Justice.

Harmonizing the perfect blend of disco, classic rock tropes, and electro — the band’s inimitable catalog undoubtedly boasts a multi-generational appeal. Justice’s seminal debut album, †, was one of my first real forays into electronic music, and when I fell, I fell hard. It was essentially my parents’ introduction to electronic dance music too, so when I told my mother I’d be interviewing Xavier De Rosnay of Justice, a French dance legend she’s actually quite familiar with, she insisted on joining me. In fact, there was really no negotiating. Anyone else with a French mother, De Rosnay included, probably understands. So I had my mom present to help me interview one of the greatest electronic music minds of all time just ahead of Woman Worldwide‘s highly anticipated release.

Still doing the D.A.N.C.E. a decade later: Justice on 10 years together, ‘Woman Worldwide,’ and what the future holds for the greatest dance-rock band of all time [Interview]Justice Ww Live AnthonyGhnassia Credit

It has been almost two years since De Rosnay and bandmate Gaspard Augé’s critically lauded third LP, WomanNow, the two electro luminaries have followed up with a new “live” album — an homage, or perhaps more accurately, a counterpart — to Woman‘s live production, rebuilt in the studio as what De Rosnay describes as a “proper Justice record.” De Rosnay explains the record’s complexion, detailing, “After maybe six months of touring, we were really feeling the music we were playing on stage every night, and we just wanted to share it with the people who are interested in it. So we thought to record it and make another live album, but we wanted to find a way to make it different.” In those six months, the “Safe and Sound” producers brought Woman‘s flooring live manifestation to Coachella, Lollapalooza, Sónar, and home to Paris’ AccorHotels Arena to name a few. De Rosnay continues,

“We love A Cross The Universe and Access All Arenas, but they were meant to capture what its like to be at a Justice show. We knew people were frustrated, and so this time we decided to make a very clean version, very hi-fi version of it.”

Justice on wax compared to Justice on stage are two very different, polarizing experiences. De Rosnay boils down his relationship with that dichotomy, painting a picture of everything he and Gaspard wish they could do on stage being packaged up and brought to the studio to be fully actualized. Expressing a limitation on the minimal processing they can engage in live on stage, eventually, performance notes collected night after night were brought to the pair’s state-of-the-art studio in Paris with the intent to merge the two experiences. With the time, space, and resources needed to make their live show emulate the quality of a crisp, clean studio album format, Augé and De Rosnay were able to cherry-pick the best parts of their hair-raising live set and recreate them into Woman Worldwide. “It’s a version of what we’d like to do every night that we can’t do,” says De Rosnay.

Still doing the D.A.N.C.E. a decade later: Justice on 10 years together, ‘Woman Worldwide,’ and what the future holds for the greatest dance-rock band of all time [Interview]Justice Woman Worldwide Photo Cred Pascal Teieira 2

Among all the sonic chaos the two manage to pack into each LP, there’s an obviously meticulous nature to the duo’s work ethic. Surprisingly enough, the process of writing music actually proves to be much more organic and emotional for De Rosnay than calculated and measured. My mom chimes in, prodding in French about De Rosnay and Augé’s knack for perfectionism: “Are you happy with how the final product turned out?” I can feel my ears and cheeks getting hot.

“We are very happy with the album. It’s not perfect, but it’s perfect for us. Perfect isn’t the right word… its very accurate in terms of being what we originally imagined it to be. It is impossible to make a perfect record, but it’s very faithful to our idea. The records I love the most are not perfect in a technical term. As long as we connect to the music, then we can put it out.”

Since their 2007 debut, the band’s artistic development has naturally progressed between predominating styles and themes, however, it has always managed to hold a sense of genuine timelessness. “We don’t mind actually being tagged in one category. It’s not for some people. But we don’t mind the categorization. Every time we hear a new band, the first thing we do is try to categorize them,” De Rosnay admits. Though s heady, distorted electro backbone stands in direct contrast in many places to Woman’s futuristic gospel-glam core that came a decade later, both albums still undoubtedly look, sound, and feel like Justice. It’s been a gradual advancement of style, “Yeah, it’s a little strange,” starts De Rosnay, “on one hand, we always feel like we’re making the same thing. The disco element has always been there, like ‘D.A.N.C.E.‘ is straight disco with rock elements, perhaps just in a different shape. When we finish a record we never know if its too similar to what we did before.”

“Even if tomorrow we’re making a hard rock record, or a rap record, or even a reggaeton record, I think it will still sound a lot like Justice.”

Though, the two producers are far from the same wide-eyed DJs they were in A Cross The Universe touring the states for the first time a decade ago. Sometimes the leather jacket and stud-clad version of Justice seems like a lifetime ago. De Rosnay concedes that the pretenses of a full-length visual feature similar to the band’s unforgettable tour documentary seems unlikely nowadays. He sighs over the thought, “99 percent of music documentaries have a band as the subject and then people all talking about how great that band is, ‘oh they’re so cool’ or whatever,” De Rosnay laments. “We didn’t want to do that. We made A Cross The Universe for fun. We didn’t want to make a documentary that says we’re great. Making A Cross The Universe was like Jackass — we wanted anyone to be able to enjoy it and find fun [in it], even if they aren’t connected to the music we make. At the time I think I was 25, [Augé] maybe 27.”

Still doing the D.A.N.C.E. a decade later: Justice on 10 years together, ‘Woman Worldwide,’ and what the future holds for the greatest dance-rock band of all time [Interview]Justice O2 Briton Academy Credit Guifre De Peray

A Cross The Universe was really about what happens when you take a new French band and you allow them to indulge in the rock and roll cliches we’ve always been told about. But we made it knowing that ten years later, we’d be in a completely different place.”

De Rosnay maintains his characteristically cool, tight-lipped allure when prompted on a possible visual element to Woman Worldwide, “We’re always trying things. If it’s good enough, it’ll exist. For example, we tried to make a film for Access All Arenas and spent a lot of time on it, but it wasn’t good enough, so we didn’t release it. But we’re always trying to create a visual tie to things.” In planning ahead, De Rosnay and Augé prefer to savor the moment, but with a cycle of nearly five-year gaps between studio albums and nearly equal measures of time between live projects, with Woman Worldwide’s release, the duo’s pattern suggests a hiatus is due.

De Rosnay politely laughs at my mother’s nudging as she pesters him about taking, “les grandes vacances” after the duo’s tour concludes at Austin City Limits in October. Even deities make obligatory small talk with mothers. He counters, “Sometimes it feels like we’re on a permanent vacation, but at the same time we’re always working. It’s been two years since Woman was released and in the time since then, we’ve been touring. If we started working on the next album right after the tour and that takes a year and a half, it would be finished by late 2020 — that’s already four years between two albums without a break,” remarks De Rosnay. “We do disappear in a way, though, since when we’re recording we don’t play live.” Has any new music been written since Woman’s release? “…No.” Ah, that abrupt, yet ultra-cool French temperament.

Still doing the D.A.N.C.E. a decade later: Justice on 10 years together, ‘Woman Worldwide,’ and what the future holds for the greatest dance-rock band of all time [Interview]Alice MoitieÌ Credit Justice Press Shot

After a brief pause, De Rosnay does creep forward. “With Woman, we worked a lot on the live show. Then we toured and spent a lot of time working on Woman Worldwide, and now we’re working on… things. But it’s hard to start writing a new album when we’re still on the last one. One of the greatest pleasures of making music is being in our studio, together with time and space. We could work on laptops in hotel rooms and planes, but it’s not a thing we enjoy. That works for some people, we just like the pleasure of being in our own studio.”

Somewhere between nu-disco and New Testament, Justice have crafted, and then re-crafted, a certified masterpiece with Woman and the ensuing Woman Worldwide. Now that we might be nearing the end of a prolific chapter in the visionary Justice narrative, De Rosnay departs with a seemingly innocuous, yet perhaps foreshadowing salutation. “We hope this continues as long as possible, let’s cross our fingers. The door is always open.” Here’s to another decade of Justice For All.

Kid Cudi and Jaden Smith reportedly want to do a joint project

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Kid Cudi and Jaden Smith reportedly want to do a joint projectKid Cudi Jaden Smith Interview Credit MATTEO PRANDONI

Kid Cudi interviewing Jaden Smith might be the best thing in hip-hop news all month. Appearing in The New Vanguard Issue of VMAN40, the topic at hand was sparked when Smith congratulated Kid Cudi on his most recent project, Kids See Ghost, and how generally well-received the Kanye-assisted release was. As Cudi begins talking about how much of a dream it was to work with Ye himself, he sneaks in a note on how he and Jaden should collaborate on a project as well. Perhaps the snippet is less an idea in passing and more or a foreshadowing to a future rap collaboration with serious multi-generational appeal.

Cudi offers, “Maybe one day we’ll do an album bro,” to Smith. Of course, the “Icon” rapper is all for it. Smith responds, “I’ll have to get a few more albums under my belt. I’m going to have to grow, but that would be the biggest dream of mine.”

The Man on the Moon crooner continues by praising Smith on how young he started his music career. What’s more — just last year in a Reddit AMA, Jaden Smith revealed his dream collaboration was Kid Cudi. Talk about putting things into existence, fingers crossed for this one.

Featured image: Matteo Prandoni

Techno Tuesday: Marsian tell a tale of their descent into new territory, alien abductions, & more

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Techno Tuesday: Marsian tell a tale of their descent into new territory, alien abductions, & moreMarsian Press Shot New Credit Octopus Team

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

Soul delving with Shallou: producer talks production of ‘Souls’ EP, translating musical vision to live performance [Interview]

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Soul delving with Shallou: producer talks production of ‘Souls’ EP, translating musical vision to live performance [Interview]Screen Shot 2018 04 29 At 11.17.42 AM

The expression goes that the eyes “are the windows to the soul,” but when it comes to Shallou, Souls is the “window” to sonic narrativization.

Released in April 2018, Souls set out to translate the cyclical intimacies and distances of a relationship into song. A delve further into a distinctive style of electronic sound comprised of indie, dream-pop, and ambient house constructions, Souls duly emerged as a refined conceptual project that showcased Shallou’s deftness in melding elements of different genres, and related a romantically centered story without total reliance on lyrical expression.

The romantic nature of the seven-track EP’s narrative focus is apparent in individual song titles like “You and Me,” “…Lost,” and “Lie,” but for some of the tracks on the EP like “Sigh” and “…Lost,” the titles provide the only concrete words found in relation to the given song, leaving technical elements like BPM tempo and instrumental tone to do the expressive work that lyrics typically perform. “You and Me,” Kasbo and Cody Lovaas feature, “Find,” “Vignette,”  “Lie,” and “Skin” by contrast offer listeners lyrically concrete developments in the at times tenuous relationship between the fictional lovers.

The production of an EP can parallel the course of a relationship in that the artist too might drift from and return to the project in the same way that one of the hypothetical lovers on Souls strays from the other, only to flutter back in time. Curious about Shallou’s in-studio approach to crafting Souls, Dancing Astronaut caught up with the producer to talk Souls’ track by track conception, and how Shallou’s musical vision translates to his live performances as the LA talent prepares for a slew of headlining fall tour dates.

Listeners can catch Shallou at Breakaway Music Festival on August 26. Learn more about the festival, here.

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Dancing Astronaut: Can you talk a little bit about your vision for your most recent EP, Souls?

Shallou: Souls was a pivotal project for me because I wanted to flesh out some of the visual and sonic ideas from the All Becomes Okay EP. Music-wise, these songs have more traditional song forms, some pop-appeal, while keeping the ambient instrumental aspects that helped me reach an audience in the first place. Visually, the artwork continues to build out this world the little character in the corner is exploring. I wanted to blend my favorite things about indie, dream-pop, ambient and dance into something that felt different in the electronic space, but something unique that doesn’t overly focus on drops. I wanted to create my own beautiful sound without limiting it to the edm world. Electronic music shaped me as a producer, but I have a deep love for folk and indie rock as well which I showcased in the Souls Sessions that just came out on Youtube. 

The idea of ‘Souls’ came from this idea of collaboration and exploring the intimacy of a relationship with the help of other artists and singers. Each song has its own story of love blooming or caught in flux, some lyrics expressing concrete emotions (“Lie”;”You and Me”) and some more ethereal concepts (“Vignette”, “Sigh”). “Souls” expresses the intense moments of intimacy and distance that come with every long-term relationship. With All Becomes Okay, I was inspired by the concept of the cycle of life (hence the Soul delving with Shallou: producer talks production of ‘Souls’ EP, translating musical vision to live performance [Interview]1f30eSoul delving with Shallou: producer talks production of ‘Souls’ EP, translating musical vision to live performance [Interview]1f311Soul delving with Shallou: producer talks production of ‘Souls’ EP, translating musical vision to live performance [Interview]1f331 all over my social media) but with Souls I was inspired by the concept of the cycle of a relationship.

Dancing Astronaut: Being that the EP tells a sonic story of two lovers who both gravitate towards one another and experience disconnects, I’m really interested to hear how you approached the EP’s production. Did you sequentially craft this story song by song, tailoring each individual song to the sonic narrative? Or did you produce these songs in a more random order, later finding a way to make them dovetail to tell this story? I’m curious about the extent to which the concept influenced the order in which you produced the EP’s 7 tracks.

Shallou: The EP story kind of just came together that way. I feel like everyone’s writing instinct is to speak about their love and relationships, so the songs with features came together first. I was then able to piece together a story from those singles and tracks that were written by just me specifically for the EP (i.e. Vignette, Sigh, Lost). I think the best way to craft a story is to just start with your instinct and see where it takes you creatively. Its much easier to make things for a story that happens naturally then to try and make a story from scratch. I sequenced the songs by key as well. Sigh was an intro I had been sitting on for a long time and I used that key and certain ideas from it to create the instrumental for “Find” w/Kasbo. Same with Vignette. “Lost” functioned as a sort of instrumental intro to “Lie” because they shared keys as well. 

Dancing Astronaut: Can you also talk a little about how your production of this EP differed (in any way) from your debut EP, All Becomes Okay, released back in 2017?

Shallou: The production on this EP has higher BPM counts, and thus a little more energy. For example, “Vignette” is 120 and “You and Me” is 113 which are my highest tempos yet. I think overall this EP is a little bit dancier and more vocal heavy. I think its easier for people to relate to tracks with vocals on them, evidenced by the recent explosion of producer-singer/rapper collabs across all genres. I really enjoy aspects of that trend and I wanted each track to have a perfect marriage of vocal + instrumental, some by throwing some of my own vocals chopped up in there so they feel like truly “our” songs.

Dancing Astronaut: You’ve clearly carved out a niche for yourself in ambient house circles, and there’s an inimitable indie influence that’s perceptible in your productions. You recently toured alongside Big Gigantic and played some of your very first headlining shows. What’s been most important to you when it comes to playing these headlining dates—do you have a specific vision for your live shows in terms of the ambience or production involved in these show dates?

Shallou: I have to admit I was a little intimidated going out with Big Gigantic. I had never seen them before and everyone had told me their set went very hard. My music is admittedly pretty chill across the board. I took that as inspiration to make a live-hybrid set. I added a drummer and amped up some of my slower songs to try and grab the audience more. I was really surprised by the crowd’s positive reaction; they were really there to have a good time and dance. I think thats the point of going to see a show; you want to feel excited and involved and I’ve kept that as a major element of my performance ever since. I’m excited to show this next tour how I’ve grown as a performer. I’m still singing live, playing keys and performing all my own music, but focusing on creating “moments” for the audience Theres moments for the ambient fans and dance fans alike. For production, we’re looking to make it as unique as possible, and try to bring the world from my artwork to life for people who have been following me since the beginning. Telling a story is a very important thing for me.

Phantoms reveal a new direction and how their pasts are shaping their future [Interview]

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Phantoms reveal a new direction and how their pasts are shaping their future [Interview]Phantoms

There is no conventional path to becoming a DJ, but LA-bred Kyle Kaplan and Vinnie Pergola have unique backgrounds — even as far as DJs go. Now better known as producer duo Phantoms, the once child stars appeared in series like Hannah Montana, Zoey 101, and That’s So Raven, among many others. Kaplan and Pergola grew up in Hollywood, navigating the joys of childhood, alongside booking their next TV gigs.

Fortunately for their now-fans, the grind of TV auditions became less appealing, and their interest in becoming actors started to wane. Simultaneously, Pergola and Kaplan found themselves at a Justice concert, which they cite as the beginning of their love of electronic music.

“We had been living in a music bubble of lame classic rock, and that show opened us up to the world of electronic music. It was a really exciting time for both of us. Once we saw all that world had to offer, auditioning for guest star roles on Hannah Montana or CSI seemed a bit silly.”

Even though they moved on from their child acting careers, their entry into electronic music remained unconventional. Kids of the Hollywood Hills through and through, the two started attending different house parties around LA, and DJing with a full light rig they bought for $700 at Guitar Center. After that, they learned how to produce their own music. Although they no longer act, Pergola and Kaplan are the first to point out the similarities between the two worlds, despite their now 10-year departure from acting.

“There are a lot of similarities – mostly with the people fresh to either acting or music. A lot of the younger DJs we meet remind us of kids who just booked their first job on a Disney or Nick show. There is an earnest excitement because it’s cool to feel your dreams coming true – but on the other end, there can be an ego – ‘Im the fucking best, and this is gonna last forever.’”

The duo has learned more than a few important lessons throughout their time as entertainers, two of which include that nothing lasts forever and to never take themselves too seriously. One Tito’s sponsorship later and a career that’s years in the making, the duo are doing something right. Their music can hardly be confined to a box, even though they most closely associate as electronic musicians.

Moving forward, they plan on producing outside that box even further, this time in the form of pop-infused productions. This means working with more pop-leaning vocalists, and they have recently drawn inspiration from vocalists such as Alessia Cara, Ella Mai, and SZA. The duo even has a new release in the pipeline featuring Vanessa Hudgens to kick start this new direction.

“They [pop songs] are fucking hard as hell to make, so it’s a good challenge for us. And yes, we do have some surprises that should be surfacing soon.”

Phantoms will be performing at Breakaway Music Festival later this month, where fans will be able to see them showcase their new sound and upcoming releases live.

Read our full Q&A with the duo below.


What artists started to inspire you to shift from acting to producing music?

The biggest shift happened for us around 10 years ago when we went to go see Justice live at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles. We had been living in a music bubble of lame classic rock, and that show opened us up to the world of electronic music. It was a really exciting time for both of us. Once we saw all that world had to offer, auditioning for guest star roles on Hannah Montana or CSI seemed a bit silly.

How did you all decide to start Phantoms and produce together as a group?

We wanted to start playing electronic music around LA so we named ourselves “Phantom” and would DJ house parties with a full light rig we bought for $700 at Guitar Center. Unfortunately, this was a few years before EDM blew up in America so people would get upset and beg us to play hip-hop. We kept DJing, but it got sort of old not playing our own music. That was when we switched to focusing on our own music and the live show.

Some say entertainers are entertainers. What are some of the biggest differences between people who were in your acting scene versus the music scene?

It’s funny, we actually talk about this a lot. There are a lot of similarities – mostly with the people fresh to either acting or music. A lot of the younger DJs we meet remind us of kids who just booked their first job on a Disney or Nick show. There is an earnest excitement because it’s cool to feel your dreams coming true – but on the other end there can be an ego – “Im the fucking best, and this is gonna last forever.” If we have seen one thing in both industries, it’s that nothing last forever, and you have to be really smart to give something longevity.

You all have crafted a really unique sound that has broken through the electronic music scene, and you’ve really made a name for yourselves. Do you think you may experiment genres in a major way moving forward? Do you have any surprises up your sleeves?

First of all, thank you! I know what we do can sometimes be hard to put into genre boxes, so it’s always nice when people get it. The only thing we’re going to be experimenting with moving forward is probably some more pop leaning vocals. We’ve crafted our project to be able to move between genres as long is it still sounds like us – so we want to try making pop music that sounds like us. We definitely did that a little bit on our first record, but it’s something we’re really experimenting with now because we truly love great pop songs. They are fucking hard as hell to make, so it’s a good challenge for us. And yes, we do have some surprises that should be surfacing soon.

Do you have any dream collaborations/vocalists you are dying to work with?

Right now there’s a couple singers we would love to work with. That song Boo’d Up by Ella Mai is just incredible, and her voice is amazing. Alessia Cara. SZA. All would be amazing vocalists to work with because I think we could make something really interesting mixing R&B vocals with our sound. We’ve also been dying to do something with bülow. She’s making some of the most exciting pop music right now, and if you haven’t heard it go fucking listen.

What would you say the hardest thing about this job is?

We love the travel and the business side of things, which I think a lot of other artists might find to be the hardest. For us the hardest part is probably finishing music and saying “ok this is done now.” You spend so long working on something that by the time you are in the final phases of mixing, you can start to hate what you’re working on, which in turn makes you second guess and over analyze everything about it. And then you add label notes on top of that – it can get a bit overwhelming. However, once a song is done, it’s nice to step away from it for a while. When you go back to it a couple of weeks later, you remember why you liked it so much in the first place. If you still hate it – then yeah that’s a problem.

We know you recently released a new single with Nicole Millar. Can we expect another album coming anytime soon?

Yeah we have a couple more singles in the pipeline and we’re working on the album right now. The next single is featuring Vanessa Hudgens, and that’s coming soon. We’ve been teasing it for so long I think her fans hate us now. But it’ll be worth the wait.

Your socials indicate you guys spend a good portion of your time intoxicated. What are each of your drink’s of choice?

Hahahah. Yeah we’re simple guys – we both drink Tito’s and soda. We drank enough Tito’s and talked about it enough to make them finally reach out and sponsor us. It’s become this weird part of the Phantoms world. At every show on our last tour people would scream “TITOS BOYS!” in between songs and pass little airplane sized bottles to us on stage. And yes we did chug them on stage because we love our fans, even though our livers might hate them.

Do you all think you would ever pivot back to acting? Or is that truly a thing of the past?

Acting is probably a thing of the past for us. Unless it will be something we make or whatever weird stuff we do on our socials, I think those days are over. The thought of going back to commercial castings or auditioning for three lines on Young Sheldon doesn’t sound very enticing anymore.

Featured photo by Caleb Donato

Techno Tuesday: Chicola speaks on his artistic development, his debut album, and deep bonds in the underground scene

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Techno Tuesday: Chicola speaks on his artistic development, his debut album, and deep bonds in the underground sceneTechno Tuesdays

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.

A longtime veteran of dance is reaching his second peak — his name is Chico Shuella, but the world knows him best as Chicola. The producer cut his teeth in his home of Tel Aviv, earning the attention of icons like Laurent Garnier early on and cementing his name on the world circuit as a force to be reckoned with. However, Shuella is not one to live in monotony. He took a hiatus from house music to instead stretch his wings and build an empire DJing smaller, private events before returning onto the circuit.

It’s safe to say that a break served Chicola well, as he came back into the scene swinging. This time, he’s chosen to enter the progressive realm, helping carry the genre into the future alongside his longtime friend and Lost&Found owner Guy J, Sahar Z, Guy Mantzur, and other greats from his home country. He’s been released on a number of heavyweight labels — such as Sudbeat and Plattenbank — and continues to push his sound and explore new depths.

In 2017, he released his debut studio album Could Heaven Be to critical acclaim. The LP explored all facets of his sound, from delicate ambient, to driving, tech-based productions that showed off his versatility and open mind in the studio. In fact, one of the record’s singles, “Yoav,” even utilized an improvised melody from the Chicola’s own son. His momentous success in 2017 has since translated to a fast-paced 2018, with appearances at Tomorrowland on the Lost&Found stage and a busy tour schedule across Europe.

Could Heaven Be has also received remixes from a slew of top acts — ones not normally seen on the Lost&Found label. Chicola went to other artists that have inspired his sound as of late, booking Diynamic veterans Johannes Brecht and Karmon to fashion re-works of singles of their choice, while also electing Ruede Hagelstein for a high-powered take on the title track. Dancing Astronaut had the pleasure of premiering Karmon’s rendition of “Velvet Afternoon,” which sees the act twisting the original into a mysterious, driving number built for kicking a set into high gear.
We tackled Chicola for an in-depth discussion on his artistic development, Could Heaven Be, and its remixes. He provides some intriguing insight on his outlook and philosophy, while also allowing for a look at what to expect in the future.


You got your start in house music. How did you end up discovering the music back then, and what inspired you to pursue DJing and producing as a career?
Hey Christina! Thank you for having me. I used to play at birthday parties in school when I was a kid, with tapes on a double cassette deck. From there, I worked in the record shop for many years and I have listened to so many different genres of music, from Fusion Jazz to Stephan Grappeli on the violin, to Aphex Twin, to Cesaria Evora. Good music no matter what the genre is still something that excites me to this day. I grew up in a very musical family also as my grandmother used to play me Julio Iglesias & Astrud Gilberto. I could sit down for hours and listen to those records, I believe its something I born with, a passion for music and I am happy I still feel the passion.

For a good chunk of time, you also took a bit of a hiatus from the underground, before being pulled back in. Why did you decide to go back into the progressive and techno sphere? Was it something you’d intended on doing when you went to take your break?
I think sometimes in life you need to search in your heart and ask the big questions, for me I always knew that’s what I wanted to do, but sometimes life can take you on a different path or a detour if you will, but the stars aligned and I eventually found my way back. I never stopped trying to be honest and still there is long amazing journey in front of me. You have to believe in your heart!

I really like lots of styles and genres I do what I like and I am not trying to do something specific like one genre, sometimes it’s more melodic and sometimes its really dark, that’s what I like in the studio.

Israel is a hub for psy trance, and for quality progressive, it seems. Why do you think these sounds have become so big in that region?
That’s a great question!

Israel was always a big place for melodies, since the early days of the Goa Trance. Maybe its something inside us as people? I’m not sure. The Israeli way of life is stressful and often requires hard work around the clock. I also think its something geographic, Israel is a warm country, the intense heat of the sun and the constant summer, this environment lends itself to emotion I think and there is a deep connection to our instinctive and spiritual centre that leads us to the melodies.

On that note, you’ve known the Lost&Found guys for quite some time, and you guys are all practically family. Tell us about how you all have come to know and inspire each other over time! Does your deep bond and constant collaboration lead to stronger music on all of your parts?
Absolutely, we know each other for so many years and the connection between each one of us and all of us is like a true family. We meet with families and we celebrate holidays and birthdays together, we speak every day and send each other music all the time, and when one of us is having a big gig we are all helping, pushing and happy for each other all the time.

We are so lucky to have each other, it’s a true friendship I will cherish in my heart forever.

Who is inspiring you most artistically these days, and why?
Wow there are so many, Nils Frahm because he is genius in what he is doing. I really love Architectural for his super dark quality stuff, Karmon is an amazing producer , Deep Chord does amazing Dub Techno, Johannes Brecht is amazing and also Ruede Hagelstein, which I am so happy they made amazing remixes for my album.

I’ve noticed you’ve been exploring the techier/harder side of your artistry as of late; “Backstabber,” for example, felt like quite a different step for you. Then you shared an Instagram video of another techno-ish heater in the works. What has been the inspiration to travel down this path?
I used to play a lot of techno back in the late 90s. I was warming up for DJ’s like Jeff Mills, Christian Varela, Carl Craig, etc, so I played a lot of stuff from labels like Tresor, Music Man, R&S Records, and I believe I always felt connected to techno. In my DJ sets I am playing a lot of techno still to this day and for me it’s the right balance between the melodies and the techno groove.

You’ve also assembled quite a list of remixers whose names aren’t normally associated with Lost&Found for your latest album. How did the process go of picking remixers? Did you reach out themselves or did you go to them?
I really love what Ruede Hagelstein, Karmon, & Johannes Brecht are doing, each one of them is unique and very talented. Guy is amazing person to work with on those projects and he helped a lot, we talked a lot about the remix EP and we are so happy with how they turned out. It’s a very special thing for me to have them on this project.

Are there any artists you’d like to collaborate with or are already working with currently?
Guy Mantzur and I are always talking about doing something together, I also really want to do something with Sahar Z again. There is always magic when we work together.

Let’s dive into your studio and production process. What gear are you currently using in your studio? Have you purchased any new toys that you’re excited about?
I am using a lot of synthesizers and routing everything into pedals and it sounds really crazy. My last purchase was the Moog Sub 37 and its one of the best synthesizers I have ever had. I also have the Poly Evolver from Dave Smith and the Prophet 12, Virus TI and Moog Slim Phatty .

What about your process? Do you have a particular starting point when it comes to making tracks, or certain things you like to have set in place first? What is the most important thing to “hammer down” in a song, in your opinion? Do you master your own music?
I make a lot of music for my DJ sets, and I play a lot of unreleased stuff so I make special tracks for different parts of the set. Sometimes I start a track from the center and sometimes with just a few loops in order to try and get a certain mood or vibe within the groove, sometimes I start with just with melody and take it from there, so i really don’t have a set process. Every project has a different starting point in a way I suppose. I do temporary mastering for my gigs and when I feel the track is finished I am sending it to one of the mastering engineers I work with.

Finally, what can we expect to see from Chicola in the near future?
We are having the first ever Lost & Found stage at Tomrrowland so we’re all really excited about that. Then I am going to have my first Australian tour and lots of music in the studio as well so stay tuned. Thanks for having me. 🙂

 

Techno Tuesday: Chicola speaks on his artistic development, his debut album, and deep bonds in the underground sceneCHICOLA PRESS PHOTO 02

Techno Tuesday: Fur Coat on the right time to start a label, the state of melodic techno, and their future

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Techno Tuesday: Fur Coat on the right time to start a label, the state of melodic techno, and their futureTechno Tuesdays

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.

Sergio Muñoz and Israel Sunshine are two kindred spirits when it comes to dance music; they both prefer house and techno of the darker, more melodic variety. They were brought together a decade and a half ago over their mutual interests in their home country of Venezuela, where together, they eventually transformed into Fur Coat. Their journey hasn’t been without its obstacles; the two spent quite a long time cutting their teeth on the local circuit and honing their brand of house and techno into something that would stand out from the pack. In 2012, their debut in the international spotlight came when Damian Lazarus picked up their Space Ballad EP for Crosstown Rebels. It wouldn’t take much longer for them to become the juggernauts we know today, as their music was well-received by the masses and they soon found themselves on labels like Suara, Hot Creations, and BPitch control. More recently, they’ve notched a Balance series contribution onto their belts and have become regulars on Tale Of Us’ Afterlife.

There’s more to Fur Coat than their own artistic career, however; the duo have now ascended to the point of success where they can not only take their own music into their own hands, but also begin looking after others under them. In 2017, the deciding moment to start a label arrived, and thus Oddity was born. It’s still in its fledgling state, making Fur Coat excellent candidates to quiz on the trials and tribulations of being an independent label owner in the current dance music climate. We got them to divulge on the process of forming their label, tentative plans for the future, lessons learned, and more. They also gave us some exciting looks at what’s to come from Oddity in the future — including a new track that one “wouldn’t expect” from them.

Listen to their brand new EP on Redimension whilst reading on about their time as Oddity head honchos.

 


You were in the dance industry for over a decade before establishing Oddity. What was “the moment,” or what were the factors that led to you deciding it was the right time to start your label?
FC: Yes, we have been in the industry over a decade, even before Fur Coat. The moment to launch our label just came and felt right in 2017, although we had for over 6 months before been working on designs and forming what we really wanted to do with it. The motive behind this was that we could showcase a bit more from us, not only music wise but also art-wise. As we are doing vinyl, the physical copies have great artwork that we would curate and work on. This platform not only lets us decide if we want to put an EP or record out from us when we feel its right it also meant that we don’t always have to deal with the scheduling of other labels and also we get to decide fully the tracklist of each EP, V.A or whatever we are thinking putting out. We can also showcase new talent that we get music from, and get people on board to remix or even provide originals. So far we have had original music from us, Natural Flow & Mathame, and remixes from Slam, Roman Poncet, Dubspeeka, Locked Groove & Cassegrain!

Over that decade we discussed about having the label, but I think we were focused on other achievements and thought this wasn’t our main priority or that we didn’t have the time to do it right the way we wanted to. At this point in our career we are more established, our sound has evolved and this all came at a time when we felt it was right. It’s a label that each release has to be 100% as we want it with no rush, we don’t want to compromise by running on a super tight schedule, things happen when they are ready, so that is also a privilege we have.

Is there a specific sound/ethos you’re trying to promote with Oddity?
FC: Oddity is not only about Fur Coat’s sound which leans more towards a techno, groovy sound sometimes with melodies or more experimental; but also focuses on music we play and the music of artists that we like. We try with most of the music that we sign to have at least 1 track that is something that we would have in our sets, but also leave free space for the artists to experiment, not only focusing on dance floor oriented material. Each EP has to feel complete, thats why we also spend a lot of consideration on what remixers to bring onboard. Genre wise, of course it leans to techno, but we are always open for variations, although it has to fit in with us, what we play and what we like. By this we mean we aren´t closed to sign an ambient record as part of an EP for example.

On that note, where do you see the “Fur Coat sound” going in the future? Trying anything new/fun?
The Fur Coat sound has evolved since its beginning. We come from a background of house and techno. We never want to be put inside the box, so we are always in the search for new things, always trying to stay on top and keep it fresh. The past 4 years our sound has shaped more into melodic but groovy techno. We always try new things, there is a track from us coming on Oddity 004 that you wouldn’t expect from us, not dancefloor oriented at all. Although as we said before it would be a complete EP and a great remixer on board!

Who are the artists inspiring you the most at this moment?
Our inspiration doesn’t come directly from electronic music artists when we produce. But in terms of artist we like and that we like playing their records we can name a few and also some we have had on the label. We like a lot of Dubspeeka’s work, there is always space to have a track from him in our sets, the same with Roman Poncet who has been doing great work. ANNA has been doing killer stuff, and a remixer that we always try to play or that probably releases music that we always like is the great Radio Slave.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned and challenges you’ve overcome thus far in being label owners?
Well, first of all we are two guys deciding what we sign to the label. Sometimes is hard to get to a concensus on what we want to sign, but the good thing between us is that we understand each other, and we can compliment one another. Sometimes I (Sergio) may find a track from an artist, and then Israel might suggest a remixer, so we discuss on this and try to make it as a team work. We always put on the table which names we want to have on the label, based on the music we have been playing and that fits our musical style.

On the art part, (Sergio) has good connections with some designers through a friend in Barcelona and we went through all the designing process with them.
So basically the most difficult part is pulling all of the details together to be ready send the distributor and arrange the release date. Usually our mastering guy (Xergio Cordoba) when we have the music ready masters the EP in couple of days but you have to have an appointment. Then the designer has to arrange all the titles, artists and remixers names etc. When all this is approved by us, and the artists are happy with the masters, we can deliver to the distributor and start the whole process. Sounds easy, but it takes a lot of time and back and forth, sitting down and listening and seeing that all is correct, to finally deliver it how we want it.

Sometimes you can have a schedule in mind, but due to certain factors and the fact we want to release on certain dates to get the promotion right this can get difficult! So if you are going to start your own label prepare for this!

Tell us about your biggest goals for the label – artists to sign, vinyl-only releases, label showcases/festivals, etc?
Well our format is Vinyl and Digital and we always have a vinyl only track. In a way it makes the vinyl more special to have you know? People who are supporting Oddity have come to us and given us great comments about the music, artwork and it feels nice that they have something extra when they are supporting the label.
On artists to sign, we have many names we want to have on the label, either as remixer or releases, or maybe in the near future a V.A so we can showcase a little more you know? But we don’t seek music directly based on artists, we seek music based on how it sounds and if we like it, specially for people who send demos. Basically we can reach out to a producer we like or just receive something from upcoming artists and combine it with an established remixer.

On the future the idea is to do Oddity showcases, first in clubs to grow the brand and expose the artists we are working with, in key cities with promoters who we usually work with. After that we want to organically expand and really see where things go!

Techno Tuesday: Fur Coat on the right time to start a label, the state of melodic techno, and their futureFur Coat Press Credit Their Team

Photo provided by Fur Coat’s publicity team

How do you feel about the role of a label in today’s music sphere? Sometimes it feels like there’s a growing gap between “mega labels” monopolizing things, and then streaming and such threatening the smaller labels. It seems hard to balance!
We can for sure see this gap growing but we feel that the role of a label is still the same as it always has been.. to find and release great music. To be fair the big labels were once also little labels and have worked hard of to get where they are at. Big labels on which we release have artists that have been working with them since the beginning but they also sign new talent, so working with them is about having the right music and having the patience for their busy schedule.

There is also the other side of the coin with smaller labels, the internet and all the tools available to people has made setting up and starting your own label fairly easy. You can see in Beatport so much music, and probably a lot that is very badly produced or makes no sense. So we feel hat the role of labels in todays music sphere is to actually really focus on quality rather than quantity.. Its very easy to pump out lots of tracks but you need to ask yourself weather you are a big label or small label weather or not your truly feel the music and this is something we focus on heavily with Oddity.

What are some plans you have for Oddity in the near future? Releases you can tell us about, etc?
Oddity 004 is the next one we have planned for this year which is an EP from us with a remixer that we really like and respect! After that we don´t have anything clear yet, as we are always receiveing music, but we probably want to do a V.A or maybe do an EP from an another artist. First thing on our mind currently is putting the final touches and recieving the remix for Oddity 004 to send to the distributor and start the whole process. As we said before, we take it very different from other labels, so we aren’t running on a super tight schedule, we just do our thing and aim to release the most complete EP no matter what time it takes.

Controversial question: do you agree or disagree that “melodic techno” is, in a way, trance reborn? Why?
We disagree that it is trance reborn, although it has elements that might feel ¨trancy¨ but we feel they are more like a journey or trippy. There are different structures, different sounds. Although we might have melodic stuff in our sets and in our productions, melodic techno really feels different than trance.

Not only there is a difference in BPM, but as I said before, classic trance is more raw and the production is different. In melodic techno you can find a bunch of different vibes, not only that with a “trancy” feel. Definitely producing it, making it interesting and getting it to stand out from the pack is not an easy work though…