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…

 

 

 

Kanye West wants to make 52 records in 52 weeks

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Kanye West wants to make 52 records in 52 weeksKanye West Teases The Life Of Pablo Tour On The Steve Harvey Morning Show

Oh Kanye… a man who knows how to keep the people on their toes; back at it again with another headline. 

After releasing a slew of music in the past month from his own album ye, to his collaborative Kids See Ghosts album with Kid Cudi, along with three additional albums which he produced for Pusha-T, Nas, and Teyana Taylor, it seems as if the G.O.O.D. Music patriarch can’t be stopped. On top of it all, a Chance The Rapper album is now confirmed to be underway too. Upping the ante however, in an interview with Jon Caramanica from The New York Times, West boldly claims that he wants to find a place in Wyoming that will have less distractions and then create 52 records in as many weeks — essentially claiming a whole calendar year of Kanye West.

Whether that means completely done songs, just beats, or a delicate mixture of the two remains unclear. Whether that’s even operationally realistic is another question. However, with the knack for project construction that Kanye West has demonstrated since releasing his first album in 2004, if anyone could pull it off, it would be him. Rather than 52 records in 52 weeks though, others might be more drawn in by the idea of one Kanye West record that took 52 weeks to produce, but that’s an entirely different discussion altogether.

Xan Griffin unveils the story behind his conceptual ‘Zodiac’ album [Interview]

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Xan Griffin has been producing music for nine years — half of his life. 

When he was just 9 years old, the young music enthusiast being creating his own compositions. He loved the idea of concept-style arrangements and swore to himself that when he honed his craft, he’d work on a large-scale project based around a concept or theme. At the time, he was interested in Greek mythology and the 12 astrological zodiac signs, which led to a genius idea.

“When I was 10, I researched the zodiac signs and couldn’t find evidence that anyone had ever done an album based on the zodiac signs,” he recalls.

No one had tailored a song to each personality of each sign of the zodiac and released them at their corresponding time of the year. But Griffin didn’t want to try to put such a project together at such a young age. He decided to put the idea in his back pocket and revisit it when he thought his production skills were up to par with the concept itself.

“I told myself that when I became proficient to the point where I could create anything I can imagine, I would pick the idea back up,” he continues. 

Fast forward six years to early 2016. Griffin has begun to make waves in the electronic music sphere with a successful set of remixes for the likes of Just a Gent, Botnek & I See MONSTAS, Illenium, and Bright Lights. He wanted to work on a big original side project to keep the momentum of the remixes going.

Then, “I remembered the zodiac idea,” he says. “I said to myself, ‘I’m going to spend the next two years grinding and working on this and doing as much research as I can. I’m going to try to make the best music I can to represent each one of these signs.’”

Griffin felt he finally had the skill set to execute his vision, and he got to work.

His first release came in May of last year with its corresponding zodiac symbol, Gemini (his own zodiac sign). The collaboration with WILD has since garnered nearly half a million plays on SoundCloud and served as an exceptional launching point for his zodiac series. From there, he spent the next 12 months leading up to the full release of his Zodiac album by releasing the corresponding time period’s song.

The production process for each track was different, he says. Of the album’s 14 tracks, 10 of them feature collaborators, and each of them came about in a different way. “Capricorn,” for example, “was the most unexpected thing ever.” Griffin had been hanging out with WOLFE and practicing on his CDJs for his first show. When Griffin showed the producer the original instrumental for “Capricorn,” WOLFE revealed that he was a Capricorn and wanted to lend some vocals to the concept. This led to the track in its final form and has become a fan favorite.

Overall, Griffin says went into Zodiac without a specific direction. He he dove into each piece wanting to recreate a feeling rather than a sound — a theme that carried through the entirety of his two-year production process on the album.

“In ‘Scorpio,’ for example, I wanted it to be dark and inspirational and mysterious,” he says. “Instead of focusing on the sound, I focused on melodies and how certain things could harmonize to create the character I was going for.”

Gemini artwork by Peter Mohrbacher

As each one of the tracks was released, fans not only fell in love with the unique and varied qualities of each zodiac sign, but also the artwork that accompanied each one. Griffin had called upon the talents of Magic: The Gathering card game artist Peter Mohrbacher, who created the otherworldly designs that provided a visual representation of Griffin’s creation. 

“He loved the idea of collaborating,” Griffin says. “I sent him the songs, and he based every piece of artwork on the characters in the song, along with the knowledge he had of the zodiac signs.”

Zodiac was released on Seeking Blue on May 24, 2018 — Griffin’s 18th birthday. It features a track for each of the 12 signs of the zodiac, along with a title track called “Zodiac” and an extra called “Ophiuchus,” which draws its meaning from a large constellation located around the celestial equator.

As the embodiment of his sign — the Gemini — Griffin says he’s always going to be changing. “There are so many different genres in this album,” he says. “It’s diverse, and I want to prepare people for what’s going to come in the future.”

As for the future, Griffin just graduated high school a few weeks ago and is preparing for his next steps in life. He’s already working on a second album: another conceptual-type series, filled with “some pretty big curveballs.”

“Some of my favorite music I’ve ever produced is on that album,” he admits, excitement audible in his voice. “It’s going to be a visual-focused project… think music videos, 3-D and 2-D animation. I want this to be executed to its fullest ability.”

When asked to describe his music in three words to someone who’s never heard it, Griffin immediately fires off the first two: “emotional and unpredictable.” He takes his time to come up with the third, which seems to truly sum the thoughtfulness behind his projects: “metamorphic.”

“What I represent is the epitome of a Gemini,” he says. “I always want to be changing and never get in the comfort zone of making the same kind of music.”

Featured photo: Pablo Sanchez

How Positiva Records has shaped the dance music scene since 1993, A&R director Jason Ellis tells all [Interview]

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Positiva Records has been a unique influence in the music industry since its birth 25 years ago, known best for its eclectic roster of artists and breathtaking productions. With all the support Positiva has garnered over the years, the imprint has become more than just a label, but a flourishing platform for artists from all over the world to share their creations. Positiva Records has released it all – from Vengaboys’ UK No. 1 single, “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!” in 1997, to Martin Garrix‘s big room, chart topping, “Animals” in 2013, the label has amassed major worldwide success with several number one hits on the UK and international charts.

Jason Ellis has served as Positiva’s A&R director for over 15 years, and through his time at Positiva, with patience, perseverance, and expertise, he has developed the label to what it is today. He has kept the label diverse by choosing a wide array of artists and not confining the brand to one specific genre of music. Jason has given countless artists a foundation for their musical growth, allowing up-and-comers as well as renowned musicians to reach a massive audience of avid listeners.

Jason started his journey in the music industry at a young age, collecting vinyls from numerous artists, developing his keen sense of spotting talent by listening to many different genres from a variety of musicians.

“I was an avid record collector in my teens with quite broad tastes – Talking Heads, Tears For Fears, Japan, Simple Minds were very influential to me at the time. I worked for HMV in Birmingham for several years, and as a singles buyer in the early / mid 90’s had to be across what was big in the dance world. I started to take more interest in the scene around 1992, started DJ’ing and was hooked from then on, really. As for many of us in the dance world, Pete Tong become the main inspiration for me and I’m thrilled that he will be hosting the Positiva panel at IMS for us.”

As Jason has perfected his craft for finding and featuring producers, he sheds light on the process of choosing artists saying that the way to select,

“It depends on where they are at in the career really, but certainly talent, ambition, a certain level of commercial appeal and a good understanding of where they are as an artist and how we can help get them to where they want to be. Signing to Positiva isn’t right for every electronic producer / artist – we know that. We just want to work with talented, respectful people and help grow their profile and business.”

Along with the prosperity Positiva has earned, there have been challenges along the way. The internet, for example, has influenced both the way we consume and perceive music. “Understanding the shifting market and continuing to have hits is always a challenge,” emphasized Ellis on this new beast. “Keeping the label operating on the front line of a major label for 25 continuous years is something I’m very proud of – no one else has come close to that.”

“The anniversary campaign is a great opportunity to remind the industry and the wider public just how influential the label has been over the years and highlight the amazing artists and tracks we’ve had the privilege of working with.”

The imprint’s “ace-in-the-hole?” Jason asserts that much of Positiva’s success stems from giving artists from all genres of electronic music an opportunity to be featured on the imprint. “We’ve never been confined to one (sub) genre of electronic music, so have always been able to reflect what is popular in clubland at the time.” Competitors often lack in diversity, and when their sound goes “out of style,” it could spell a premature ending unless adaptation is involved.

That said, making a hit isn’t the most important, all-consuming thing for Ellis. Artistry is key as well, and sometimes the underdog releases end up having the most longevity. “Being part of a major label means that we’re ultimately judged on success and having hits, but it’s important to get the balance right,” he notes. In fact, he even admits that, “some of the most important and influential releases over the years haven’t always been the biggest sellers.”

“We’re no bandwagon jumpers and have always lived and breathed the electronic music world, even when it may not be fashionable to do so. I also believe strongly that how you behave and are perceived as a label during the tougher times or when things don’t always work out well can pay dividends when things pick up again.”

Jason says that the most important thing he has learned over the years, in addition to the pillars of “passion, commitment, and respect,” has been following his intuitions. Trusting oneself, in his opinion, is essential in the path of success. “Always trust your gut instinct,” he advises. “I’ve been talked out of signing a few records over the years that have gone on to be huge. Not a great feeling!”

“Be true to your word – it’s all well and good promising the earth when trying to sign a track or artist, but you have to back that up with your actions. Communication is key – even if the news is not positive.”

Some inspiring events during his career at Positiva have shaped Jason’s perspective as an A&R director. When recalling these events, he points to 2003 as a particularly developmental year. This was when he first signed Paul Van Dyk. “He was one of the biggest DJs in the world at the time, and very much an album artist as opposed to just putting out singles.” As a result, he says, working with the German superstar, “helped broaden my approach and skill set considerably.” His new skill set “paved the way for working with the likes of Deep Dish and David Guetta, plus Swedish House Mafia and deadmau5 once we joined Virgin in 2009.”

As for his own, personal strengths as an A&R director, Jason feels his ability to “balance between an undeniable passion for the scene and being able to navigate the major record company structure and politics on behalf of our artists and releases” are what put him ahead in his role. He points out once more just how much digital consumption has dominated and changed the industry in a more global way, and mentions that his experience with Positiva as a major music force makes him “well-placed to take advantage” of this change.

“On most occasions, we’ve been associated with artists during a really pivotal, positive part of their career – Morillo and Reel II Real, Guetta and ‘When Love Takes Over’ and more recently, Martin Solveig and his return to form with ‘Intoxicated’ and ‘Places’. So many key artists and moments where we have helped broaden the awareness and appeal of the genre that we all love.”

Positiva has become one of the most influential forces in the dance music industry over the past couple of decades. The label, with Jason Ellis at the A&R helm, has continued to make its mark on the dance world for its mastery in finding artists who are bringing novel sounds to the table. Some notable accomplishments since he took over the reins include chart-topping singles “When Love Takes Over” by David Guetta, “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, and “Wizard” by Martin Garrix. Twenty-five years since its inception, Positiva certainly shows no signs of slowing down their brilliant streak of discovering and representing the best of the best in dance music.


How has the success of Positiva over the years shaped the record label as a whole?
We’ve never been confined to one (sub) genre of electronic music, so have always been able to reflect what is popular in clubland at the time. Being part of a major label means that we’re ultimately judged on success and having hits, but it’s important to get the balance right – some of the most important and influential releases over the years haven’t always been the biggest sellers.

From it’s start in 1993 to now, what were the biggest challenges Positiva faced?
The internet changed so many things of course, particularly in dictating how tracks are consumed – moving from vinyl to CD to download and now streaming. Understanding the shifting market and continuing to have hits is always a challenge. Keeping the label operating on the front line of a major label for 25 continuous years is something I’m very proud of – no one else has come close to that. The anniversary campaign is a great opportunity to remind the industry and the wider public just how influential the label has been over the years and highlight the amazing artists and tracks we’ve had the privilege of working with.

What does it take to make a record label successful?
Passion, commitment, tenacity, respect. We’re no bandwagon jumpers and have always lived and breathed the electronic music world, even when it may not be fashionable to do so. I also believe strongly that how you behave and are perceived as a label during the tougher times or when things don’t always work out well can pay dividends when things pick up again.

What was the most important thing you’ve learned over the years?
Always trust your gut instinct – I’ve been talked out of signing a few records over the years that have gone on to be huge. Not a great feeling! Be true to your word – it’s all well and good promising the earth when trying to sign a track or artist, but you have to back that up with your actions. Communication is key – even if the news is not positive.

Tell us about one of the most inspiring events during your career at Positiva? How has this changed you?
There’s been several, but perhaps a good one to mention would be signing Paul van Dyk and going to the Berlin Love Parade with him in 2003. He was one of the biggest DJ’s in the world at the time, and very much an album artist as opposed to just putting out singles. It helped broaden my approach and skill set considerably, and paved the way for working with the likes of Deep Dish and David Guetta, plus Swedish House Mafia and deadmau5 once we joined Virgin in 2009.

When choosing artists for the label, what qualities do you look for in them?
It depends on where they are at in the career really, but certainly talent, ambition, a certain level of commercial appeal and a good understanding of where they are as an artist and how we can help get them to where they want to be. Signing to Positiva isn’t right for every electronic producer / artist – we know that. We just want to work with talented, respectful people and help grow their profile and business.

What is your greatest strength, and how has it helped you in the music industry?
Tough one! I would say having the balance between an undeniable passion for the scene and being able to navigate the major record company structure and politics on behalf of our artists and releases. For many years, successful dance labels around the world were almost entirely independent. But as digital consumption has taken over, release strategies had to become global rather than local, and I was therefore well placed to take advantage of that.

How did Positiva shape the dance music scene from 1993 to the present? i.e in your eyes what has Positiva contributed to the industry as a whole?
We’re making a documentary about the history of the label at the moment, and have done some amazing interviews with many of the key artists, DJ’s and contributors to the label’s success over the years. One of the key things that stands out to me from the interviews is that on most occasions, we’ve been associated with artists during a really pivotal, positive part of their career – Morillo and Reel II Real, Guetta and ‘When Love Takes Over’ and more recently, Martin Solveig and his return to form with ‘Intoxicated’ and ‘Places’. So many key artists and moments where we have helped broaden the awareness and appeal of the genre that we all love.

How did you get started in music? What/who were your greatest inspirations?
I was an avid record collector in my teens with quite broad tastes – Talking Heads, Tears For Fears, Japan, Simple Minds were very influential to me at the time. I worked for HMV in Birmingham for several years, and as a singles buyer in the early / mid 90’s had to be across what was big in the dance world. I started to take more interest in the scene around 1992, started DJ’ing and was hooked from then on really. As for many of us in the dance world, Pete Tong become the main inspiration for me and I’m thrilled that he will be hosting the Positiva panel at IMS for us.

Have you ever produced music before or have a musical background?
No, not really. I played bass guitar for fun when I was younger – Mick Karn from Japan was a big inspiration. But I sold that to buy a pair of decks and the rest is history…!

What are you most proud of and why?
As I said before, 25 years on the front line of a major label is no mean feat and I’ve been here for 18 of them. I’m very proud of having helped develop and break so many great artists and tracks – highlights would be Spiller, The Shapeshifters, Axwell / Swedish House Mafia, Guetta, Avicii… and now Jonas Blue.

Hear more about Positiva’s evolution on Friday, May 25, at IMS Ibiza:

25 YEARS OF POSITIVA RECORDS – THE CHANGING FACE OF A&R with Jason Ellis, Dave Lambert and Nick Halkes Interviewed by Pete Tong.

ODESZA interview reveals how they got into production [WATCH]

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When ODESZA aren’t busy on their monumental “A Moment Apart” world tour, performing live on Jimmy Kimmel, or headlining back-to-back weekends at Coachella, the Seattle-based duo actually takes quite a bit of time to sit down and talk to fans and the media about their humble roots.

Earlier this month, Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight sat down with The FADER to share working with their dream collaborator Leon Bridges, what the weather is like in Seattle, and how they found themselves eventually making electronic music.

“I love blending different genres and styles that necessarily shouldn’t work together and finding a way to make them work. You can just kind of manipulate sounds in so many different ways that you can come up with so many different styles. We appreciate so many different forms of music that trying to tackle different genres is a really fun thing for us,” says Mills of their unique ODESZA sound.

Via: The FADER

Techno Tuesday: Avision tells a tale of techno and working hard for success

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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.

Passion, patience, and persistence are three especially crucial ideas when it comes to making it in the music industry; especially during a time where the market is more saturated than ever, and less friendly overall to creators. Most musicians don’t become overnight superstars, and for most, the process of transitioning into music full time takes years on end. But, when that goal is accomplished, it’s worth the effort.

Avision is intimately familiar with passion, patience, and persistence, imbuing this principal into his everyday life and career. He is quite the prodigious talent, having first stepped behind the decks at the young age of 12 and scoring his first residency by age 16. Over a decade-and-a-half after making his entrance into the scene and moving with intense drive and desire, he is finally breaking through the surface. Furthermore, he made himself an internationally-recognized talent while staying based in the United States — a rare feat in electronica, where artists often move to Europe to advance their career and receive higher amounts of support and income.

We got him to open up a bit and tell his artistic story — from the trials and tribulations, to the triumphs. Additionally, Avision just released a dark, scintillating new EP on Matter+ titled Free Your Mind. Its three originals are bursting with soul and hints of funk, capturing what made early techno great and tossing this sound into a modern ambiance. Let it provide a background as he tells the tale of his comeup.

 


I started out DJ’ing around New York & New Jersey 10 years ago when I was 14. My first residency was at Club Abyss in New Jersey, which was the hottest club night for teens in that area of the U.S. and it would average at least 1500 kids per night. I also started producing around that time; working on remixes first and then original tracks. When I was about 16, I went to Electric Zoo festival in New York. It was the first time I realized who my cousin (Victor Calderone) really was, and also the first time I heard Techno and Tech House. It changed everything for me, and I started digging deeper into those genres and began finding new tracks and artists that I really liked.

After that, I started to change my sound and began making tech house and techno, which led to me going out a lot in the NY scene. The first real night club I went to was District 36 when I was 17 to see Victor, and it got me to see how everything worked outside of the teen clubs I had been playing. Then I started going to Pacha NYC when I was 18, and those nights really helped me learn everything, how to go through certain tracks throughout the course of a night and control a crowd. That’s when I started DJ’ing at 21+ clubs when I was 18.

Before I started releasing music as Avision, I hadn’t really found my sound yet. I had been releasing music on a bunch of labels under my real name, but I was really just finding my sound and experimenting on who I was as an artist. Once I finished around a hundred tracks, I really figured out what my sound was and the direction I wanted to take with my music. The first Avision release was just over 2 years ago on Victor’s Waveform label, and it went over really well. There was pretty strong feedback from a lot of DJ’s that I respect, and Carl Cox and Joseph Capriati played my track “Conception” at Awakenings in 2016.

After that first Avision release, I sent Mark Broom a Facebook message saying that I was a fan of his and his label Beardman, and sent him an EP that same week. He ended up signing it and he remixed a track from it as well, and this release really kicked things off for me. Mark is such a highly respected figure in techno, and the release on his label really helped give my name credibility in the scene. Ben Sims, Truncate, and many more DJ’s were playing that EP. Having top techno artists supporting my music has been a big foundation of my career so far. I had a release on Carl Cox’s Intec label last year which was a highlight, as videos started popping up of Carl playing my track all over the world (he opened his set at Movement Detroit last year with my “Mind Of The Man” track). I’ve also released on Carlo Lio’s On Edge Society (and have a follow up planned for later this year), another release on Beardman, and also an EP on Ben Sims’ Hardgroove label up next (which will be my first vinyl release).

One of the most challenging things for me has been patience when it comes to gigging. I first started playing at Pacha NYC and building my name in the NY area, and at that point I was taking pretty much any gig that came my way. In NYC, there’s enough parties going on where I could probably be spinning somewhere every week, but since I’ve been releasing as Avision, I’ve really been picky on how many gigs I’ve taken as my goal is to be touring globally in the very near future. Now in NY I probably spin every couple of months or so, and I try for the most part to make sure that the gig is with a bigger DJ I respect and/or with one of the leading promoters and venues in the area so that I’m able to keep building my name up. Lately, I’ve been able to tour more around North America, and have crossed off some key gigs at venues like Stereo Montreal, Space in Miami and The BPM Festival in Mexico.

In the U.S., the techno scene keeps growing and getting larger, but a lot of the people that go out in the U.S. pay attention to what’s going on overseas, and what artists are big there. As an American artist in Techno, in a way it feels like you really need to “make it” and have that stamp of approval by the right clubs and fans overseas in order to breakthrough as a bigger artist here in the States. The club culture in Europe is highly respected, and over here it feels like a new cycle of that club culture has started only in the past decade (with the current wave of electronic music). My focus next is on breaking through in Europe, and I’m working on my first dates there for later this year.

Some key things that have helped me so far in my career:

Mentors: I think it’s really important to have mentors to learn from, and I’ve been lucky to have one right in my family. Victor has been a great mentor to me, and when I started producing I would constantly send him big groups of tracks at a time. He would always give me constructive feedback, but in a positive way so that I was never discouraged.

Networking: Building relationships is something that takes time to create, and I think it’s important to take advantage of any opportunity that comes to you. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve gone to see a DJ that plays my music, and from that have built a connection and now have an amazing relationship. Everyone likes to put a face to a name. I like to try and take advantage of any opportunity I can to say thank you to a DJ for playing my music, or ask them where I can send new music to, etc.

Work Ethic: I’ve been doing this for 10 years now, and I haven’t taken a day off since. What you put in is what you get out of it. If you’re not in it for the long run, there’s no point in starting. It’s important to take pride in your work and know how to change and evolve over time. Really focus on your strengths and improve your weaknesses.

Team: Having a team behind you is a big aspect in having & building a career – you can’t do everything alone. It’s important to have people in your life that care about you & your career, and to help you build and grow as an artist.

Love: Lastly, it’s important to just love what you do, and to recognize that things will be up & down, and not everything will be sunshine & rainbows all of the time. Keep your focus on the big picture and your long-term goals!

 

Order a copy of ‘Free Your Mind’ here