While 2019 brought news of twin Grammy nods and an ARIA (Australian music awards) nomination trifecta for RÜFÜS DU SOL, fans were met with near radio silence on the original release front for the year. But that doesn’t mean the group isn’t still set on driving their release train to dance music superstardom this year. The avant-garde Aussie outfit’s 2018 LP, Solace, was lauded near and far, “Underwater” and above water, for its poignant and pensive approach to melodic dance music. But it seems the group isn’t done with the work just yet.
In a recent interview with Variety, Jon George, the trio’s keyboardist shared that, a recent trip to California’s picturesque Yucca Valley wound up proffering a fully loaded live album.
“We recorded a live album out there late last year,” George told Variety. “… But, we loved it so much out there we thought that we need to come back on our next writing trip and set up here for a couple of weeks and really dig into some ideas.”
This will be the first live release from the group to date. There’s no drop date in the books yet, but time has proven the trio is isn’t afraid to take their time polishing finished work.
Those who’ve seen RÜFÜS live know the ensemble’s synergistic capabilities onstage. Their visceral performances allow listeners to live in the happy medium between live music and synth-driven ecstatic energy. A live album from the RÜFÜS camp seems just what our ears ordered for 2020.
It may not seem like it through the lens of an Instagram filtered helicopter ride, but that doesn’t negate the fact. Artists require honest feedback on their work for the sake of progress. But they equally require encouragement from peers, critics, and consumers. When they’re receiving both, the music scene is at its healthiest.
The union of encouragement and appraisement invoke a sense of balance under the critical microscope. Honest feedback is well-rounded and multi-pronged: pointing out well-founded shortcomings, areas of oversight, regression, or misguided efforts, while real encouragement resides in helping the artist make use of critiques. Too much of either and the scene stalls.
Power like this, on both ends of the artistic experience, is frequently abused, often unknowingly—with people wielding words like weapons, either unaware or irreverent of their impact. Apathy, in this particular regard, in both fan response and critical exegesis is starkly embodied in Getter, who months after being abused about the shift in sound on his latest album Visceral is once again playing shows, producing music, and contributing to social media.
“No matter what you think, we are all humans with the same emotions and thoughts,” Getter tells Dancing Astronaut. “You have to remember that musicians aren’t here to serve you music sculpted by fans on a platter. There’s shit you’ll like, and shit you’ll hate, with every artist.”
An excess of encouragement means lackluster music permeates through the helm of the industry unchecked. On the inverse, too much criticism can stifle an artist’s creativity, curbing their hunger to try new things.
This illusive balance puts artists, critics, and fans in a precarious position. Unfortunately baseless detractors are often the loudest. And critics and fans, now equipped with the ubiquitous social media mouthpiece, have to be conscious of the power of their input.
Those familiar with Getter know that Visceral is a glaring shift in both sound and style from the jarring dubstep upon which he carved out an indelible niche. The album came out on deadmau5’s mau5trap label housing—known for its ghostly and symphonic approach to dance music.
“I’ll always be proud of Visceral,” Getter says. “Moving forward, I want to put out all kinds of music and mix it up. That way everyone’s happy.”
Getter was admirably trying to expand his musical range with Visceral; yet the most pervasive feedback he received from listeners on his album and tour was vile, hurtful, and downright destructive. So much so to the point that he eventually cancelled the remainder of his tour dates.
In an emotional address to his social media, Getter said,
Consider the gravity of Getter’s statement. Visceral long stood as the focal point of his life, albeit a luxurious life that’s coveted by many and shared by few. However, the razor-tongued naysayers who opted to use this fact to excuse their myopic comments are egregiously misguided. Money and VIP vacations don’t assuage robbing someone of their professional resolve.
Those who have spent a minimal amount of time on the internet know that its inherent separation from face-to-face interaction invites cruelty to run rampant. Because the chances of tangible retaliation are practically non-existent, it’s an open door to proceed without caution.
“At the end of the day, social media is enabling a part of your mind that you wouldn’t normally notice,” Getter says. “It inflates your insecurity.”
For the most part, it’s not against the law to type hateful things. If Getter was someone’s dubstep idol, and that person spent money to watch his Visceral tour only to discover that he wasn’t going to play any dubstep, that person has a right to be disappointed in the show.
That person does not, under any circumstances have the right to attack Getter personally. That pushes the needle nowhere and incites progress for no one. Not Getter. Not the person posting. Not the dance music community as a whole.
Getter’s a professional, though, and he audibly attempted to hear the concerns from his detractors and act on them. He understands that he needs to take feedback seriously if he’s going to succeed as an artist, and he tried his best to do so:
“Been thinking about the criticism of the visceral tour so far and have started to adjust a lot of shit in the performance,” Getter wrote to Twitter. “It doesn’t make sense for me to expect everyone from previous shows to be 100% down w the new stuff. Ima make this super special thanks for the pointers”
He acted professionally. Made adjustments to his set. But the trolls whittled his patience thin.
When he canceled his tour, he emphasized the importance of honest criticism:
“Criticism is healthy. My friends and I frequently critique each other’s work and it helps the final product. However, the constant hate and the disgusting attitudes I’m faced with are destroying me.”
As Getter noted, artists are not hired guns, paid to deliver a singular product to an eager, esoteric fanbase. Art is too often reduced to a commodity, and the state of music suffers.
The only reason to be so upset with an artist’s performance that it merits condemnation is if they’re too intoxicated to perform, show up late, or bail on the show. Other than that, it’s mutually understood that they’re doing their best to deliver for the crowd and themselves.
“I think that sometimes people forget what a concert, or a live performance is. For a lot of musicians, you go in, do the job, and leave. It’s a paycheck, it doesn’t have to be a well thought-out performance. But… you should remember that you are going to see them… if you truly appreciate an artist, you’ll know if its done for money or for the art. And if you’re going see your favorite artist or any artist for that matter, rather than thinking about how much it sucks or if they are selling out cuz of a new style, think about what they are giving the crowd. Maybe you don’t like it, but maybe someone around you is really attached to it.”
Again, there is a balance to consider here between criticism and encouragement. If negative comments can have such a staunch and lasting effect on him, then positive comments would theoretically do the opposite to a similar degree. It’s possible to share a negative review while praising an artist’s will to experiment in a single stroke of communication.
If every artist were condemned when they wanted to try something new with their music, the scene would go nowhere. Everyone would be stuck making the same songs over and over again, and dance music would die. Consumers need to understand this fact. But this is also why critics also have a necessary place in music, as Diplo recently articulated.
music journalists gotta eat too even if they dont like our music. we need critics
Among critics, Visceral was a modest success. Some reviews were more critical than others based on the more concrete musical merits of the album (which is commonplace given their subjective nature). But most of them were complimentary based on Getter’s willingness to expand his sound and express his emotions through his music.
Being a frequent habitué of digital critique in music, most critics are inclined to praise artists who try to expand their sound with verve. They often understand that is how the scene moves forward; how new sounds come about. This level of praise for Getter was probably one of the reasons he threw himself into his Visceral tour with as much vigor as he did, and in that sense, the critics did a good job. They encouraged Getter to continue on his musical journey.
“Critics stir shit up. They tell you what they think. And that’s fine, the world needs people to be real sometimes. I always appreciate constructive criticism, or if someone calls something ‘trash’ that’s fine too. But the understanding of why is a little more satisfying. There’s no comfort point you get to as a musician, you always want to move forward, good or bad, movement is key. Trying new things, innovating.”
Unfortunately, critics can often be too encouraging, as represented across every genre of music in the modern scene. When critics stop doing their jobs properly, commercialism has its way with music, and that’s exactly what’s happening right now.
This is why Instagram personalities are signing record deals. The general public has meshed the ideas of what sells and what’s good which is a result of critics cowering to offer honest and well-founded opinion.
Believe or not, people still listen to critics. People hear about albums that are widely praised like To Pimp a Butterfly and Lemonade because those albums deserve every bit of admiration they receive. So when critics let cookie-cutter party tracks pass unchecked, it devalues authentically brilliant music, it inflates the egos of the artists, and it erodes the role of critics themselves thus opening the door for the debate Lizzo started recently.
After receiving a few lukewarm reviews (alongside an influx of exceedingly positive ones) on her album Cuz I Love You, the steadily ascending pop artist tweeted:
“PEOPLE WHO ‘REVIEW’ ALBUMS AND DONT MAKE MUSIC THEMSELVES SHOULD BE UNEMPLOYED.”
The fact is, it’s better for non-musicians to review music. That way they focus on the product itself rather than the process. When critics review an album, they aren’t reviewing the effort the artist put into the album. They’re reviewing the album itself. If an artist were to do that job they would be inherently biased simply because they understand how hard it is to produce an album.
Critics understand the effort in the abstract, but their job isn’t to pat the artist on the back for trying. Their job is to explain the merits of the final work. In a perfect world, every album would be the best of the best, and the artists who made the best music would be the most successful. Of course, the world isn’t perfect and the music business will never work that way, but the critics are obliged to do their best to make it that way.
That includes being truthful when a piece of music isn’t up to par. Think about it. Just like when critics universally praise album, if critics universally denounce an album there’s a considerable chance that the album simply isn’t good. This is how inspired artists are separated from the contrived. A true artist will take that criticism and work harder as Getter did. Untrue artists will point fingers and find fault in critics.
It’s not right for any artist to have to cancel a tour, as Getter had to, after receiving endless vitriolic pelting for taking a chance. That is not the dynamic this industry needs. The artistic reward system for thoughtful risk is, frankly, off-kilter as it is now.
Music is, of course, subjective. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and no piece of music is loved by literally every human being in the ear-having macrocosm. But objective elements of quality are inseparable from music as well. That’s how songs like “Imagine” by John Lennon can actually change the world. Regardless of whether one or two people (including your humble author) don’t like the song, it is expertly written, exquisitely performed, and culturally galvanizing to the point that it helped inspire a generation to do the just thing.
This may come as a surprise, but talented artists are making music of that caliber every day, and with the right support system from fans and critics that music will come to light and change the world all the same. We here at Dancing Astronaut are fans and critics alike, and we do our best to support artists like Getter in this way because they are people, too.
Original gangsters of synth-pop, the Pet Shop Boys find their inner funk with a bit of “Monkey business,” the disco-directed third showing from their upcoming album Hotspot, due January 24.
“Monkey business” may be getting a 2020 release, but is more of a 1970s sonic pool party packaged into a three-minute radio edit as electronic luminaries Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe invite fans to shenaniganize with booze-drenched lyrics, harmonizing backup singers, and groove-laden vocoder. The upcoming album’s third cut is a sonic departure its first two singles, the radio-ready “Dreamland” and the acoustically introspective “Burning the heather.”
In addition to the new single, Tennant also sparked rumors of a Glastonbury appearance during an interview with BBC Radio 2’s Nicki Chapman earlier this week, stating “You have put me on the spot, let’s just leave me there…” when asked about this year’s festival. Glastonbury takes place between June 24 and 28, the same week that the Pet Shop Boys’ scheduled EU tour concludes. Hmm…
YouTube’s equivalent of Fallon (with 80 times the heat), Hot Ones is the only talk show with the gall to put its guests in not just conversational discomfort, but physical comfort as well, a quite literal hot seat, if you will. Host Sean Evans conducts his interviews in traditional fashion, with one exception: Both he and his guest eat a hot wing after every question, graduating in heat as the interview beats on.
The painfully entertaining online series has hosted the likes of celebrities from all walks of showbiz, from Kevin Hart to the Mayor of Flavortown himself, Guy Fieri. It’s the show that bred the infamous DJ Snake disapproval meme, for context.
Evans has now served up a hefty shot of EDM double trouble with the show’s latest victims, Dillon Francis and Diplo. The pair must answer a series of questions, via the show’s Truth or Dab segment, ranging from mild to flamin’ hot in regards to level of controversy (i.e., harmless, albeit insufferable industry trends vs. the wildly contentious waters of outing ghost producers). It’s only fitting the twosome appear together, given their longstanding friendship and Dillon’s tenure releasing on Diplo’s Mad Decent label housing. Viewers are in for a torrential treat.
After asserting their re-imaginative prowess on remixes of P!nk’s “Hurts 2B Human” and San Holo’s “Right Here Right Now,” Midnight Kids now channel their artistic energies to “Run It.” The fourth Midnight Kids-stamped single to gain a release, “Run It” broadens the duo’s stock of original productions, and as Midnight Kids disclosed to Dancing Astronaut, it won’t be the last to do so.
The Annika Wells-assisted number is but one Midnight Kids project to make the leap from the pipeline to streaming platforms. With a queue of unreleased music eagerly awaiting rotation, Midnight Kids are poised to further expand their electronic influence in the year to come. The producers delineate how “Run It” fits into their continuously expanding catalog, the sonic moves they’ll be making in the new decade, and more in an exclusive interview with Dancing Astronaut.
Arriving at the close of the year, “Run It” builds on a stream of singles, such as “Those Were The Days.” How, specifically, does “Run It” build on/expand the sound that you’ve developed over this past year?
We want every track to sound like it’s a step up in production quality from the last. With “Run It,” it feels like the culmination of everything we’ve worked on this past year. Great vocals, lush chords, and a rich, full soundscape are what make this record so special for us. “Run It” will give everyone an intro to the Midnight Kids world they haven’t heard or seen yet. This is a record we are very proud of and we’re so excited to see what everyone thinks of it.
How did you approach the production process of this record?
The production on this track came together incredibly fast and naturally. We were sent a batch of demo toplines and Annika’s original demo really stood out to us. We loved the way she sang the chorus. It had an incredibly bouncy, moving rhythm and we tried to preserve that as much as we could in the production process. Having such an amazing vocal to work with from the get-go made executing ideas that much easier for us.
“Run It” follows two Midnight Kids remixes: P!nk and Khalid’s “Hurts 2B Human” and “San Holo’s “Right Here Right Now.” What are the qualities of a song that attract a Midnight Kids remix, are there any particular hallmarks that you look for?
It’s sort of a case-by-case basis. The most important thing we pay attention to, though, would be the vocal. We love big and beautiful sounding vocals, really anything that is filled with tons of emotion. Most of the time, we end up building an entire new track using just the vocals for remixes, so as long as we like the vocal, we can end up making something awesome.
Your sound has a youthful, whimsical flair to it, and it’s certainly safe to say that its brought color to the electronic scene. As you continue to develop your sound over the next year, and in the extended future, are there any particular sub-genres or artistic approaches with which you hope to experiment?
We’ve explored the mid-tempo and house genres pretty thoroughly at this point, it could be cool to experiment more with halftime oriented records. We’ve been utilizing real guitar and instrument recording for quite some time now, but recently we’ve been experimenting with modular synthesis and feel it could elevate ideas to a new level creatively moving forward. Being able to physically create and manipulate sounds in the real world has infinite potential for new inspiration and ideas.
What’s in the cards for Midnight Kids in 2020, can listeners expect a long-form project?
You can expect a lot more music from us in 2020. We can’t say much at the moment, but we can say that everything you see from us for the foreseeable future is only a small part of something much bigger that we’ve been working on.
With dance music being such a flavor-of-the-week industry, it’s normal to hear an artist update his or her sound a few times over the course of just a single calendar year. A steady release schedule allows them to stay up with the trends and, more importantly, keep their names fresh in the minds of listeners. Not the case for Ed Banger‘s homegrown SebastiAn.
For the past eight years, he took a considerable hiatus from releases to hone his craft elsewhere. While the gap in his discography has left fans thirsty, the industry attention and resulting production gigs that the French producer (real name Sébastien Akchoté) has picked up in the meantime marks him as one of the most diversely qualified studio producers in the game.
Accordingly, SebastiAn’s sophomore album, Thirst, is served as a delectable tapas of the flavors that Akchoté has incorporated into his palate since we last heard from him. French electronic releases are often defined by their lineage and development upon the scene’s nostalgic sounds of yesteryear. But Thirst acts instead as a testament to the eclectic evolution possible when growth and expression remain an artistic priority. The album enlists a squad of A-list collaborators (including Gallant, Mayer Hawthorne and Charlotte Gainsbourg) and grabs inspiration not just from a range of genres, but a myriad of media types offering a new perspective on the wide, menacing sonic DNA that SebastiAn is known for.
We caught up with the SebastiAn to talk artistic evolution, creating personal challenges, movie scores and more. Checkout our interview below and to ask SebastiAn your own questions, keep an eye out for his Reddit AMA on 12/10.
DA: It’s been eight years since your last album, what can those who are new to SebastiAn expect from Thirst?
If I can be quite literal, I’d say it’s emotional but also challenging at the same time. It’s always difficult to put the music into words but it’s about representing hate and love in music. It’s not like if hate is on one side and love is on another side, but I wanted to express hate and love as one thing in my music.
Total was distinctly French-electro, whereas in terms of genre Thirst is more music without boundaries. How important is it to break away from the confines of a specific genre as an artist?
It’s important but it depends on the artist. Even some artists who I love have styles who’ve never changed, not over 20 or 30 years and I still love their songs. I don’t like to repeat myself in music too much, so the thing was trying to reinvent not by changing the DNA of what I’m doing but by finding another language to express, to create, and express the same intensity. It’s quite important not to be bored and search for new songs.
For example, when I did Total, all of my friends, like Justice or people from Ed Banger had already created sounds that, even years after, became not normal but more common, so it wasn’t the thing for me to come back to. If people still like those kinds of songs, they’re already everywhere, so I wanted to try something new.
I guess that also keeps your job as a professional musician fresh.
In a way, I don’t know if it’s French tradition, but in electro music, like with Justice and Daft Punk, we’re always trying to find something new on the next album.
People always have certain expectations for new releases for their favorite artists, particularly with Daft Punk, but it usually just takes some time for them to adapt to a new sound...
What’s funny with Daft Punk is when they release something new, everybody is disappointed because it’s not like before, then eight months later it’s seen as the norm. I was searching for something new. A new way to produce, a new process, or something that I’ve never done before. It was more like a personal thing, not one where I wanted to reflect recent music that I’ve heard.
A change in style is always most interesting when it’s done for personal reasons, rather than following trends.
You just have to do your thing and let people say whether they like it or not.
On the point of doing something new and challenging, tell me about the title track of Thirst...
It’s so common for music’s aggressiveness to come from the beat or something that can really punch. My thing with Thirst was trying to transcribe something hard without any hard elements, it’s more a representation of being punched for real. It’s the difference between having something really shocking in a painting or a representation of the violence in another way. I want to see if people feel the same.
Well it really does punch. Without the beat driving it, it almost takes on the feel of an early monster movie.
Yeah, you got it! I wasn’t so much into soundtracks as I was how they represent the contents of a movie.
In that case, what would be your dream film to score?
Oh, I’d like to do something unexpected. I was quite impressed with the work of Jonny Greenwood on There Will Be Blood, but for me… not a David Lynch movie because it’s not something I’d be much help for, maybe a big movie like Interstellar or The Arrival would be really fun. I think I prefer The Arrival strangely.
Seems like it all comes back to the idea of a challenge.
It’s funny, I’m fascinated by soundtracks and cinema but when I sit down to write music I have no images in my head. For me when I’m working the music is purely just something emotional. Mr. Oizo always has some visuals in his head because he’s a moviemaker. Justice always has some ideas or pictures in their head, but I have nothing. Nothing at all, which makes it funny when I hear that people hear my music as being cinematic.
You’ve worked with the visual aid before though, like your score for Mr. Oizo’s film Steak. How’s that creative process?
It can be easier for me because they give me the pieces that I don’t have. This is something that I love to do because it seems like you’re going to be confined by what’s seen on screen, but at the same time soundtracks are maybe a more freeing part of the music. You’re obliged to represent something, but the style that you approach it with is the most freeing thing ever. There are no boundaries, there are no lines, you just have to find something new.
There are new ideas coming from movies where you’re strangely more free when doing these things. I don’t know why, maybe it comes from the images, but it’s like the more restricted you are the more you are obliged to find new ways to do something.
How about your live shows? They’re known to be a bit more maximal than the sounds on your new album, are you doing anything new there?
To me, live shows are where you can liberate yourself into something hard. It’s not possible to play quietly during a live show. It’s almost something sociological for me. Sometimes people have a bad week, or they’re working a lot, and they come to a concert and want to explore or lose themselves and I really like to give them something strong.
And last, almost more of a personal question, it’s been 11 years since the first SebastiAn remix album. When can we expect another?
As soon as possible! I haven’t had time since I was producing my album, but now I’m going to get back to making a lot of remixes. I love the fact that you get a song and it’s possible to release it very quickly, versus the long slow process of an album or what. That’s why I started with remixes, because it was possible to have an idea in the day, give it back to the artist and having it out in a month.
This interview has been edited for both readability and clarity purposes.
Just before Avicii‘s equally plaintive and celebratory tribute concert in his hometown of Stockholm last week, his father sat down to speak a bit about his son and planning the enormous undertaking at the Friends Arena.
Klas Bergling (Avicii’s father) gave the interview to Sweden-held TV4. In the sit-down, Bergling discusses his son’s nascent anxieties as an adolescent, the impact his rise to fame had on his son, and even touches on his own difficult relationship he has with hearing his son’s music. He also describes intimate moments on tour, having to confront his son’s dependency on painkillers prescribed for pancreatitis, and Tim’s subsequent road to recovery outside of the limelight.
He describes his son as seeming to have never lost his “strong, fighting spirit.”
The concert, produced by the Klas Bergling-started foundation erected in his son’s name, will disperse the proceeds from the event to organizations that address mental health or work towards suicide prevention. Industry icons Adam Lambert, Rita Ora, and David Guetta were among to multitude of special guests in attendance to pay tribute to Avicii, the late, watershed force in securing electronic music’s widespread embrace.
EPROM newest five-track project, AIKON, was released through Zeds Dead‘s Deadbeats imprint. The talented producer and contributor to the Grammy-nominated Hi, This Is Flume (Mixtape) took time to answer some questions with technical leanings about his extended play. The Portland-based sound curator established himself as an innovator amongst fellow artists and fans alike, through wicked syncopation and tedious sound design that curate an environment of shock and awe.
In a press release about the EP, EPROM explained, “Each tune represents a unique point in my trajectory. For me, this release represents a step onto a bigger stage. I have always been reluctant to fully embrace the ethos of dance music, so I have previously kept my work underground, and to a certain degree, intentionally inaccessible. This EP is my take on pure rave music.”
Why did you call the EP AIKON?
I don’t wanna give too much away. If you look closely at the logotype you can certainly figure out where it came from. There are multiple facets of meaning in this made up word that interest me, secondary signifiers tangential to the source. I pronounce the word “icon,” so if you take that at face value combined with the aesthetic dimensions of the project, it may open the word up to further investigation. The word came about way before the EP. If you dig into the visual minutiae of my previous projects you may notice it crops up here and there.
Can you explain the album art?
As with the title, the art is an oblique commentary on fractured identity in our age. I prefer to leave it up to personal interpretation beyond that. You will notice that each of the singles has similar but slightly different art. Each uses the same technique and so they are all intended to function together as a larger work.
Do you have a typical production process? If so, what is it?
I try very hard not to have a “typical” process, although I do use a studio template in Ableton Live. I try to reinvent my approach to making a tune for nearly every tune, and often, that necessitates exploring a new tool. New tools require new approaches. New approaches create new sounds. The moment of unfamiliarity, before one becomes virtuosic in any particular field, engenders creative approaches, learning, and play. That is the most valuable period of music making for my practice. When you don’t quite know how a particular tool works, you approach it creatively, and that is the essence of experimentation for me.
What was your main takeaway from collaborating with G Jones on “Daemon Veil?“
Greg is a brilliant songwriter beyond being a producer, and he fleshed out the arrangement beautifully, handling a lot of the melodies on that song. I think our studio sessions are highly symbiotic and we trade a lot of techniques back and forth.
Your arrangements are unique, is there a special way you approach arranging the different parts of your songs?
I like to take agreed-upon forms like trap/house/bass with fairly rigid structures and attempt to approach them differently. I think in general my arrangements aren’t that out there, I usually stick to four bar structures and standard 4/4 time signatures, maybe with an occasional polymetric loop underneath or alternating between a standard dance tempo and half time.
What was a go-to synth for the EP and why?
I used a lot of samples on this EP. They’re faster to work with and I wanted to evoke a specific period of rave music, so those samples – e.g. old school rave stabs, 303s etc. – have a very concrete meaning to me. I also used eurorack modular synthesis to generate a lot of the kick drums and bass samples, and further processed material using Granulator II and other granular resynthesis algorithms.
What was a go-to MIDI controller and why?
I like the Arturia Keystep, it’s small and fit on my desk behind my computer keyboard and has a cool sequencer and it’s enough for me to bang out quick ideas. I’m not much of a keys player though so I do a lot of melodic sequencing on the piano roll in Ableton.
Any special VST that really took the production home?
Every track has some Valhalla Vintage Verb on it, as well as FabFilter Saturn and Monolake’s Granulator II Max4Live patch.
Do you have any pet peeves between you and your DAW?
Sure, plenty. They are small problems though, mostly having to do with how Live handles regions containing un-warped audio clips, which I use all the time. Some other things I wish Live had would be better multi-track automation handling, and per note automation (polyphonic aftertouch). But there are always ways around every problem. I love working in Live for the most part.
Which song took the longest work and why?
“Daemon Veil.” You can imagine how long it took us to program all the drums and percussive elements in that song. There are many tracks, several different drum kits, and a lot of sound design elements. We spent a lot of time playing with the balance between discernible rhythms and chaos.
What was the most difficult sound to conquer on the project?
The vocals on “Hope” are probably the element that took the most finessing. Because of licensing issues we ended up having to re-record the vocals from an old house tune with a new vocalist. I am pretty inexperienced with using raw vocals, so I had to learn a few things about vocal processing. I took the new recordings and tried to match the sound of the original 1995 acapella as closely as possible, using tape emulation, delay, reverb, eq, distortion, noise layers, etc. I feel like I actually got really close in the end. It was difficult, but a fun exercise.
Do you have any unique studio habits?
I tend to spend a lot of time on pure sound design, that is, not with any specific song-related goal in mind. I’ll sit down if I’m not feeling like making a song and knock out ten or twenty different kick drums or snares.
What was your most memorable in-studio moment while producing the album?
Working on “Hope” last summer with the window open, looping part of it to get some bass groove right, and my girlfriend asked me if I was making a house tune because the loop was of a 4/4 section in a much longer and more choppy tune. I just thought that was funny.
What is next for EPROM?
Working on the next release, can’t say too much about it yet because it’s still a nebulous thing in my mind.
In the context of Dabin’s continuously developing career as an electronic multi-instrumentalist, 2019 was a watershed. The highlights: the arrival of the producer’s sophomore LP, Wild Youth, released via MrSuicideSheep’s Seeking Blue imprint, an ensuing remix album of the aforementioned, and inclusion on ILLENUM‘s Ascend tour, not to mention a series of lauded singles such as “One That Got Away.” On the horizon in 2020 looms the launch of Dabin’s largest headlining live initiative yet.
Needless to say, the momentous activity that defined Dabin’s presence in the dance scene over the past year is poised for replication and, unsurprisingly, amplification. Dancing Astronaut invites Dabin listeners to momentarily revel in the present moment alongside Dabin, to gain insight on the artist’s shifts in creative vision, sonic bildungsroman, and everything that happened in between this year.
With 17 new remixes, Wild Youth (The Remixes) is a full offering replete with different takes of Wild Youth originals. Tell me a little bit about how this remix album came together.
I always loved remixes and definitely wanted to get a remix album going for Wild Youth. Out of curiosity, I tweeted and asked if anyone would be interested [in remixing the album] and the response was amazing. The remix LP is filled with remixes from good friends and new producers I’ve found. [It] has everything to chill out [music] to break your neck type of stuff. I’m really happy with how it turned out and am super proud to give my friends and these up and coming producers another platform to showcase their talents.
There’s a host of remixers on the album. How did you choose the artists that you did?
I personally asked a few good friends like Trivecta, MitiS, and Sam Lamar to do a remix. I’ve been a big fan of their work and definitely wanted their takes on the album. Some have had remixes done for awhile like Fransis Derelle, Inukshuk, and Astrale. I actually tweeted [asking] my fans who they would want to hear on the album. I had a crazy amount of responses from both fans and artists so I basically tried to pick the artists who I thought would be a great fit while also catering to my fans [to give them the artists who they] wanted to hear as well.
Was there one remix in particular that really blew you away; what was it/why?
It’s so difficult to pick one. All of them brought such a unique spin to Wild Youth. I genuinely can’t pick one as I love them all in their own right.
Let’s backtrack a bit to Wild Youth, your sophomore album. It’s been out for a few months now and the reception has been warm. Were you at all surprised that the album got the response that it did from fans/can you comment on the reception?
I was completely blown away by the reception of Wild Youth. I never really think about how well my music is going to do after it’s released. I think the best thing is to enjoy the process and be genuine to yourself and that’s what I did during Wild Youth, so I’m happy it was well received.
Can you talk a little bit about the making of Wild Youth and what you were specifically hoping to achieve with the LP?
Wild Youth started coming together a little after my Two Hearts LP, which focused on themes of love and loss. I wanted to tell another story with Wild Youth with similar themes, although I wanted to shift the focus to the idea of growing up. It feels like we’re out in the wild, innocent, just making our way through the world. It’s fun, it’s exciting, but there are also pitfalls and obstacles that we overcome and learn from. I wanted to package all of that into a musical story that paralleled my shift or rebirth into the crossover style I’ve been [cultivating over] the past few years.
It seems that with the making of each album, artists learn something about themselves and/or try out new musical approaches. Was this the case for you in crafting Wild Youth?
With Wild Youth I wanted to bring in as many acoustic, ethnic, and live elements as I could. My music has definitely shifted more towards that “live” or band feeling, and bridging the acoustic and electronic worlds is something I really enjoy doing. Wild Youth allowed me to hone in on exactly the kind of music I want to be making.
The album really seemed to further propel you into the public spotlight. You’ve had a pretty meteoric rise in the electronic scene. How does that feel?
It feels unbelievable. I’m grateful to my fans and my team for sticking by me and really involving themselves in what I have going on. Everyone feels like family to me. I’d say the best feeling in all of this craziness is when people send me messages about how my music has helped them in some way or through a hard time. I’m all for having fun at shows or enjoying my music at a party, but seeing my music increasingly help people overcome obstacles–that’s what really keeps me going.
With Said The Sky and Olivver The Kid on the list of “Hero” collaborators, three proves a party on this record. How did “Hero” come about, from the initial idea for the track to its creation?
I actually made the main guitar riff for “Hero” while I was on tour with Illenium in Australia. I showed it to him and he said he loved the riff and that it should be a song. I basically made this entire idea around that riff and sent it to Trevor (Said the Sky). He was in LA finishing his next album at the time and told me Olivver the Kid [had] made a great vocal part to it. He showed me via FaceTime and I absolutely loved what I heard. We basically finished the song in a few days after that.
You’d previously worked alongside Said The Sky on “Superstar,” which was warmly received, to say the least. Evidently, there’s a natural creative synergy between your style and Said The Sky’s. What is it, specifically, that you feel makes your styles work well together?
We come from a similar place musically. We grew up playing instruments, listening to the same bands, then got into making electronic music, and those worlds [collided for the both of us]. I think that we could sit down and make any style of music; the chemistry we have will always work its way into that. With our collabs, we’ve decided to stick to a certain style within our wheelhouse and it’s been great. But I think at the end of the day, it’s our strong bonds that really give our collaborations that synergy. He’s like a brother to me. What’s next for Dabin as 2019 winds down?
I’ll be playing shows with Illenium and Said the Sky, which will be our last shows as a band. We’ve all grown and got our own things going on and I hope we’ll get some reunion action down the road, but for now I’ll get to push myself in 2020 on my own and see where I want to go musically and as a live performer. End of this year may be a little quiet music wise, but expect a whole lot in 2020!
Decades ago, the electronic music scene was nigh unrecognizable from its worldwide integration and popularity today. Andrew John Clarke was younger then, attending illegal raves with his friends in the English countryside. One such party came to mind when someone sent him a photo from many years over social media, reminding him of years past.
“It was one of those parties where somebody put out a phone number to call, and you met up at a service station on the road. Then this big convoy of cars made its way through the countryside to this back garden [in Kent] and we had a rave,” he recalls. “That’s how we used to do it. But now look at the kind of stages we do at EDC Las Vegas.”
It would be years before Andrew John Clarke would become known to most as Andy C, and he never would’ve guessed he would be where he is today. But his love of music and what would become drum ‘n’ bass led him down an unexpected pathway.
He helped create what many view as one of the most influential drum ‘n’ bass tracks of the 1990s—”Valley of the Shadows” under his Origin Unknown moniker with Ant Miles—and began to make a name for himself through his energetic DJ sets. Around the same time in 1992, he created RAM Records with Ant Miles, not knowing the influence the label would have over the next 27 years.
“Things are doing awesome [at RAM],” Clarke says enthusiastically. “We have an absolute steady stream of releases coming out every week. It’s relentless, but that’s how we like it. We make up one part of this beautiful scene of ours, and we’ve been there for everything. It’s a beautiful thing to still be at the forefront, you know?”
RAM had incredibly humble beginnings, starting out with Clarke picking up records in the trunk of his dad’s car and stamping the labels in his bedroom.
“Now, we’re streaming millions of streams all over these new mediums and touring the world,” he says. “It’s unfathomable, really.”
Though things have changed drastically since 1992 for RAM Records, Clarke maintains an optimistic viewpoint.
“I always think change is for the good,” he says. “I like to look forward. I appreciate the past because it invokes so many beautiful memories for me, but I love to look to the future. That’s what keeps the excitement there for me.”
Clarke is as excited about today’s drum ‘n’ bass scene as he was years ago. He says he’s “seeing a resurgence” in the United Kingdom, where the scene has “gone up to another level” in recent years. He’s also enjoying seeing the genre’s boom in the United States, where it’s been steadily getting more recognition and gaining traction.
“We seem to be seeing a lot of social media talk from people [in the States] who play drum ‘n’ bass tunes in their sets or are wanting to make dnb,” he says. “It seems to me we’re turning it up a notch.”
But Clarke would love to see even more drum ‘n’ bass coming out of the States. In fact, he encourages it.
“I know the United States is full of sick producers and people who want to smash the sound,” he invites. “Bring it to us.”
To those pursuing production, he offers advice that rings true for many aspects of life:
“If you want longevity, you’ve got to be true to yourself. If you’re pushing a sound and you’re passionate about it and love it, then you should stick at it and somewhere, hopefully, the crowd will get on your wave.”
When it comes to the style of music, Clarke notes he’s noticed today’s drum ‘n’ bass returning to “rawer sounds,” which delights the producer since that’s background he comes from.
“It’s been great to see the younger generations sort of battling it out week in and out to see who can make the sickest drop,” he says. “That’s what I’m feeling right now.”
But trends in music are unpredictable, and many producers scramble to figure out how to ride the current wave while staying true to their own sounds. For Andy C, though, the capricious nature of electronic music is a huge part of what makes it fun.
“I have no clue what drum ‘n’ bass will sound like in five years or even six months, and that’s part of the excitement” he says. “It just takes someone to come along and do a genre-defying song or create the next big bassline or take on a beat, and then it goes off on a tangent. That’s the beauty of it. Time goes pretty fast, but I know [drum ‘n’ bass is] going to be in an even healthier position than it is now.”
Clarke’s passion for drum ‘n’ bass and the scene surrounding it is driven by “the energy, the people, and the sense of community.” He calls the genre unique and says that “when you feel it, you really get it, and it becomes a strong passion within you.”
Those who have embraced this strong passion span generations—something that’s truly special to Clarke when he performs.
“At the events I do, there can be people spanning a 25-year age gap, and everybody will be raving together. It’s all ages, but that passion is always there. There’s a real beauty to a passion that never leaves for a style of music.”
When asked if he thinks the scene has changed for the better over the past few decades, Clarke’s answer is instantaneous.
“Of course! As much as I like raging in the back garden with 12 people, I definitely love being able to play all over the world to thousands of people. I’m such a lucky guy. It’s humbling and beautiful.”
Catch Andy C at one of this remaining 2019 shows. Learn more and get tickets here.