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

Monolink describes growing into his musical self and the inspiration behind ‘Amniotic’ [Q&A]

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In recent years, a new type of artist has been developing in Germany, one as unique as he is talented. This artist is called Monolink, and his music is a blend of his own voice, his guitar, and craftily arranged, satisfying electronica. His music has been so well received, in fact, that some are pointing to him as one of the most innovative new artists on the scene. After several years developing his  project and building out his repertoire, he released his highly anticipated debut album, Amniotic, on the boutique German imprint, Embassy One Records. We caught up with Monolink to see about getting a better understanding of who he is, and from where his music comes.


Amniotic is an interesting title for your debut album. Tell us about what that word means to you in this context, and why you chose it.
The title came to me when I was writing the lyrics for the opening track, which is also called “Amniotic.” Amniotic fluid is the liquid that an unborn baby lives in, and for the first months of our lives, it is the only reality we know, where we only float in our subconscious. The song is about being born, or maybe the moments right before, and I felt like it suited the whole idea of the album very well, since it’s my first full body of work.

You have such a unique sound. Who are some of your musical inspirations?
I always felt very much inspired by Nicolas Jaar and his approach to electronic music. For a long time, it was mostly based on sampling and editing old songs with new sound elements. To me, that sounded like the future, and a dystopian one, due to the quality of the old samples. When I heard Darkside’s (one of his side projects) first EP, it was unlike anything I had listened to before, and I knew this was something I’d want to do as well.

I was also always really interested in stories and lyrics. During the time I was playing as a singer-songwriter, my main inspirations were Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and all those old masters of words. So the whole idea for this project was to bring those two worlds together.

Tell us about how you got started making this form of live electronic music, coupled with your voice and your guitar. What lead you to start this project?
I guess moving to Berlin in 2009 had a strong impact on me. I was really inspired by the music scene here. The first years, I was playing in bars and on the streets, and I was all about folk music. I was then drawn into the world of electronic music, the clubs, and the whole community around it. It was completely new to me, and unlike anything I had known before—a different way of listening to music. There were still stories being told, not with words, but with energy and repetition. You would listen with your body, and not so much your mind. That fascinated me, so I soon started producing electronic music, taking material from the songs I had written before. I also realized I could play my songs live instead of just sampling them. I still wanted to play concerts and create a live music experience, but I also wanted to add a new layer of sound, letting people feel it and dance to it.

We know you’ve been out touring around the world for quite some time already. What’s one of your best stories from life on the road?
I once got to play for the queen of Thailand! After I finished school, I was traveling in Southeast Asia for some months, and I joined a Thai band in a little town close to Bangkok. We played cover shows in clubs and bars, until one New Year’s Eve, when we were booked to play the queen’s party, at her summer residency. It was a huge, beautiful place, all surrounded by a national park. When the queen arrived, the band had to stop the music, and we all got on our knees to pay respect. The queen, for some reason, was dressed up in a cowboy costume and walked right up to me (I was the only foreigner there). She asked me where I was from, and when I said, “Germany,” she laughed and replied to me in German, telling me that she studied in Switzerland. She then, for the rest of the night, made all her announcements in German, with me being the only one in the room who could understand her. It made me smile. This was long before I started Monolink, but still a story I like to remember.

After releasing a full-length album like Amniotic, what comes next for you?
I’m working on a full concert show with a band at the moment, which is really exciting for me. As much as I love playing at techno events, playing shows in concert venues will open up so many new possibilities: working with lights and visuals, creating a full body experience. We’re going to start touring in fall, and after that I want to start working on my second album.

We’ll close with a fun one. If you could have one artist remix a track from the album, which artist and which song would you choose? Why?
I would love to have David August remix. I can really relate to the music he makes; I feel like we have a very similar view on sound aesthetics. Which song is a difficult one, though. Maybe the opener, “Amniotic?” I don’t always like the way my vocals sound on record, but in that track, I love the way the harmonies work together. I think he would like it, too.

 

Feature Image Credit: Hailley Howard

Techno Tuesday/Premiere: Brian Cid debuts new single from ‘Intriga’ EP, dives into his musical evolution

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Brian Cid

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.

Melody and rhythm embedded themselves deeply into Brian Cid‘s psyche more or less from the beginning of his life. As he continued to grow up, he realized that his calling was to follow the path of music, and he has certainly charted an intriguing path of a career that has since dropped him into the deeper realms of the underground.

There’s a certain quality to Cid’s arrangements that seems to click; each output flows harmoniously, and is deeply expressive of the place the producer was in while writing it. His expertise stems from early on in his career, where he spent time as a mix engineer for A-List stars including Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, and Lady Gaga, among others. However, he still sought something that would lead to a profound satisfaction. Such fulfillment came from beneath the surface of electronica, specifically in the deep tech and progressive realms.

Now, Cid has earned a reputation as a masterful, and heartfelt musicmaker who travels across the globe proliferating his hypnotic grooves. In his quest, he’s manifested quite a few milestones — one includes the creation of his very own ENDANGERED. party series and record label. His single “Plot Thickens” was also chosen by Tale Of Us for their prolific Fabric 97 compilation.

How did exactly he make such a dynamic leap from one end of the musical spectrum to the other? Cid divulges this information in a thorough, and inspiring read on his influences, his comeup, and his transformation into a bearer of melodically-inclined dance music. Additionally, he allows us to debut “Petalos Sole,” the third track of his brand new Intriga EP (order here). Per his usual aural aesthetic, the Brooklyn-born musician peppers the introspective tune with chilling chords and carnal percussion.

 


“It’s been quite a journey so far I must say, a big challenge, self infused goals, huge dreams, big falls and high rises, a profound journey to discover more about who am I and why I’m here. My new reality, through the exploration of land and people’s mind & soul. It’s been a long interesting one, and I’m just getting started!

Music for me has been my safe place since very young. My escape. My shield. I did not realize it until now but music takes me on a deep meditative state of high energy release. Although nothing happens by mistake, it all started as a curiosity with sound. The need to understand why every time I hear music, I would get in a state of hypnosis. Never mind the lyrics, it was always about the sounds. As an 8-9 year old I would lay on the floor next to my father’s stereo system in the living room and place both speakers on my ears. I would dive deep and feel the chord progressions, the sonic story, the textures. I realized I had the gift of being able to see sound as shapes and colors. The shapes create a personality, a character. As soon as I was able to put my hands on an instrument, it was on!

Music took me through college and then I landed in New York City in search of a dream… one more in the bunch, right? Well… I didn’t think so. My plan was to become a master of my craft, earn respect and recognition. Prove myself that I could be among the best and after all, I did have a big talent. I just didn’t know about it until I stepped professionally in the studio and banged record after record. Landed big projects with legendary artists and record labels I didn’t even know about. It was all out of instinct. Before I realized it I was in sessions with guys who ruled the music industry. Legends. As I made my mark after several years of hard work, gold and platinum records did not mean much to me anymore. What was once a dream became a boring reality. Human nature, no? Walking out of the studio with a pocket full of money and an empty soul was truly heartbreaking. I felt accomplished and ready to take on my next adventure: the electronic music world. The underground. No rules, no etiquette. Just an underworld filled with rebels, soul seekers, free beings, odd characters. This is where I belong. I’m finally home! I am not here to be ordinary, I am here to be extraordinary!

As I dove into it first as a producer and then as a DJ, my perception and intention started slowly to evolve. All this time I was after respect and recognition, but as my music started traveling far and people around the world started expressing to me how my sound would make them feel, I realized something… this is not about me, it was never about me. This is about THEM.

My journey took me to a place of ultimate power. The power to reach people’s soul, create an emotion, a feeling, a moment in time, a memory. Make them feel good about themselves, to open up, to accept and embrace themselves, to connect, to forget and fantasize. It’s a lot of things. So it was clear that it all became my calling, my purpose of existence, the meaning of my universe. Addicted to the smiles and the healing power of my sounds. But most importantly aside from the music, it’s a tool to create a special personal connection with you and continue to fulfill my own purpose.

I find it hard to put my music style into a specific category as I use elements of all genres. I don’t follow trends, barely listen to other’s music. I need to keep my ears clean and virgin, so I can write from the soul. Instead I wash my ears with jazz, world, latin, classics and new discoveries. The radio makes me sad so that’s untouched territory. A healthy mindset, positive attitude, appreciation and gratitude turns me into a music making machine. I live music. I breathe music. I am music in flesh. This has always been me, I am just now realizing it more and more. Nothing else matters anymore. Just you, me & the music… the journey continues.”

Featured image credit: Alina Fisher

Get to know your Desert Hearts: wAFF & Mikey Lion

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wAFF

It’s hard to believe that Desert Hearts is already crossing into its fifth birthday. The Southern Californian transformational brand has grown from a humble, grassroots gathering into a veritable institution over its half-decade of existence, and only continues to thrive with its City Hearts offshoots. Now, Mikey, Lee, Marbs, and Pork Chop are celebrating their brainchild’s birthday in the most extravagant of fashions, holding the biggest festival to date and booking an equally immense lineup.

Damian Lazarus will be spinning a stirring four hour set, Doc Martin and Sublevel and SHADED will be bringing their live performances into the fray, and many other talented acts like Kenny Glasgow and Dance Spirit also making an appearance. Dancing Astronaut had the privilege of sitting down with a series of the talent on the bill, and hosting interviews that they conduct between themselves.

For those who missed our first installment of this series with Mikey Lion, not to worry — he has returned for a second interview, this time with house & tech mainstay wAFF in tow.

wAFF waded through multiple scenes to get to where he is today — from hardcore, to minimal — and throughout his early years participating in the underground sphere, grew an distinctive understanding of sonic direction and a clear vision of where he wanted to go with his music. These days, he lays down multitudes of pumping, percussive rollers that wreak havoc on the dancefloor. His talent, passion, and drive have led to a quick ascension through the ranks over his time as an international talent.

For this final edition of Get to know your Desert Hearts, our subjects dive deep into the New York vs. California debate, wAFF luscious locks, living life as a transexual peacock, and more.


Mikey to wAff:

wAFF Daddy Flex! Psyched to have you at the festival at the end of the month! What good things are happening in your world? What about in the world?
Yo yo you sexy twat! I’m all good, life’s great, I’m not as fat as I was 6 months ago and this weekend, whilst i’m writing this I have the weekend off so that’s nice, plus I’ve just bought the whole Oculus Rift Virtual Reality set up so life is absolutely wonderful right now. Just got back from Snowbombing festival where I was playing but also got to enjoy a ski holiday with 3 of my best mates which was sick. I’ve just spent the last couple of months producing loads of new tracks to get released this year, and so far so good. Got some BIG tunes ready for action, Hot Creations and Desolat have already taken EPs plus I have more remixes to come out this year too. Oh, and also working on another Drumcode EP, so yeah got shit loads going on.

Have you always had long, silky smooth hair? What were you like as a kid and where did it all go wrong?
No I actually haven’t, when i was younger and a little shit, my first hair doo i remember having was curtains with an undercut, like Peter Andrea’s hair in his Mysterious girl music video or Nick Carter from Backstreet Boys but way worse! (enter pictures). Then i remember after that, I got an even worse doo, i don’t know if you remember Scott from the band Five? Well he had stupid hair where it was all gelled and hair-sprayed together in loads of separated spikes, it’s hard to describe but here’s a picture so you can just see what the fuck I’m on about.

 

An approximation of wAFF’s hair back in the day

So yeah, I had that but what makes it even worse is that I bleached my hair bright blonde as well; which turned out to be pretty much yellow. So it looked absolutely shite and then my dark brown roots started coming through so as you could imagine I looked like a right cunt! Next after that, when i started to become closer to being a normal person and when GHD straighteners were the best thing to have, I had the petty boy Quiff which i rocked for a few years. I used to even take battery powered straighteners into my first and only job which was in a call center selling insurance and I would straighten my hair on my toilet breaks, I loved it!! Then, after that I had a mullet added to my perfectly straightened hair… then I think i became a weird hippy and just couldn’t be fucking arsed with it anymore and let it grow to be all sexy and smooth flowing curly locks! So thats my hairs life story for ya!

As a kid I was the biggest nightmare for any parents! I was sooo badly behaved. I was living in Blackpool which is the worst city in England in my eyes, it’s a stag and hen doo paradise. I don’t know if in the states you call it the same thing but basically where everyone goes to get wrecked before they get married. Everyone’s drunk all over the place, rough as fuck and a massive tourist hell hole! My parents got divorced, so i stayed with my dad in Blackpool and my mum moved to Yorkshire. My dad moved to the city centre and became a Landlord of one of the roughest pubs on the promenade. I was 13, never would go to school, and ended up getting into a really rough and bad crowd of people, I would be getting done by police all the time, fighting on the streets, I would sleep on the streets and the older lads I knew in these gangs would make me carry all their drugs and basically use me as a stash point for their drugs in case they got caught. I didn’t even know what drugs were then or what I was doing, I was just going along with whatever trying to fit in.

Anyway, I was going more and more off the rails, my parents never knew where I was or what I was doing as I would just run off and not come home half the time. And somehow I ended up losing my virginity to this girl named Salina that looked exactly like Carl Cox—gap in the teeth, long purple braided hair and she was big too, ha! So I ended up running away to the roughest part of Manchester called Moss Side for a week with her and her family which was awful and scary, i was shitting myself at the place we was at, I was the only white kid I saw. It was all gangs and just proper dodgy. After a week, I called my mum to tell her I was scared and I wanted to come home, so my mum told me “when you get home Jon, were taking you away from all this and bringing you to Yorkshire”

I think the little shit I was back then would have just said fuck off and not thought anything of it. But when i came home, my mum and dad arranged a secret kidnapping, I like to call it, so as soon as I stepped into my dads pub, my mum, dad and step dad all grabbed hold of me put me in a restraint hold and my step-dad pinned me down to the back of my mums car and they drove me to Yorkshire. When i arrived my amazing mum had already created a whole life for me there, I had new friends waiting at my door to say hi, a school sorted and everything. I was still a little shit for years, I got suspended from school about 10 times, I was the worst behaved kid at the school. I made everyone in school fake IDs so we could all get pissed up buying alcohol every weekend, I stole my mums car and crashed it into a farm barn and then set fire to the car which then set fire to the barn… the list goes on but then at some point I changed and started to love life and everything in it. And here I am now, some weird Jack Black look-alike boshing about the planet playing tunes to loads of sick humans. Life’s fucking mad!

California or New York? Why?
California definitely. Loads of reasons why, First of all the weather is way better in Cali. You can do everything from surfing to skiing. I’m vegan and its well good for vegans, especially in LA. In fact, Iwant to move over to LA at some point, I can definitely see myself there and I wanna get back into my acting and do Film so couldn’t think of a better place to live really. NY is dope but Cali is definitely the one.

 

wAFF to Mikey:


Whats the most mental, crazy situation you can remember ever being in? Could be something really funny, or a crazy LSD trip or just some fucked up situation you was part of.

Probably the most radical thing that I’ve been a part of in recent years was the tragic shooting that happened at BPM Festival last year. It was the final day of the festival and we had just thrown one of the best parties of BPM to cap off an extraordinary week. We were all on such a huge high and were so ready to celebrate at El Row. I walked in the club 5 minutes before the shooting happened and went straight to the backstage area which was only about 30 feet from the entrance. When the gunshots started going off, I honestly thought it was just the pyrotechnics or confetti drops that El Row is known for. People started running past me toward the exit and I was literally saying “Haven’t you people ever been to an El Row show before!?” But then the shooting kept happening and this huge 2nd wave of people starting bolting for the exit. It was absolute chaos. We all ran out into the streets and took cover in the back of a restaurant. Those moments waiting in the unknown were some of the most terrifying moments of my life. We didn’t know if our friends were safe, and it turns out Lee Reynolds was 10 feet from the shooter when it all happened, and literally ran for his life as people around him were shot. It was such a tragic way to end such a magical week. This experience was like a difficult psychedelic trip. It was a nightmare as it was happening, but in the end it gave me this profound appreciation for life and the community that I’m a part of.

How excited are you that I’m playing for Desert Hearts? (answer by using a metaphor too)
I’m as excited as Donald Trump gets hearing his name be praised on Fox News while eating a McGriddle and getting a blowie from Stormy Daniels. HIGH ENERGY!

At what point was it you decided to dress up like a wonderful transexual peacock and what gave you the inspiration to do it?
Haha nice! While prepping for my first Burning Man, I went to this killer costume sale that was specifically put on for Burners. I thought a top hat could be a dope way to dress up and get into the spirit of things out there. I had also been crafting a green fur jacket for weeks by literally cutting pieces of fur and glueing them onto a sport coat. I didn’t wear the top hat for the first half of the week but on Wednesday of the Burn, I took a fat dose of LSD and thought it would be a good day to try out the hat. I don’t know what happened but while wearing that hat and jacket I morphed into the peak possible person I could be, transcending the universe and becoming a party god in that moment. I think my brain melted into that top hat because every time I’d wear it, magic would happen. Literally every time I’d reach into the chest pocket of my jacket i’d find a freshly rolled doobie in there. The top hat has become a part of who I am and a part of my identity. There’s a certain weight to it that just feels natural to me. I feel naked when I party without it. Since then I’ve had a bunch of different top hats that I wear on different occasions. It’s become my signature style and I fuckin’ love it!

You know I love you and your whole DH crew, you’re the best people and full of love, everyone’s such a character and you’ve all got a great sense of humour. Whats the most special part of all of this for you, what is it that motivates you carry on doing what you do?
The most special part of all of this to me is the culture that we’re building with our community. We’re showing people that it’s OK to love themselves. It’s OK to love a stranger you just met. It’s OK to act hedonistically and take psychedelics and have profound realizations that alter your psyche for the better. We want to provide a home for the weirdos and the free thinkers to be the best possible version of themselves they can be. Every time we throw a party, no matter where it is, there’s a vibe in the air that you can touch and feel. I can’t tell you how often someone comes up to me and tells me that Desert Hearts changed their life for the better. It’s an incredible feeling and I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished so far. The best part of all of this? We’re just getting started.

Last of all……. if you had a gun at the back of your head and you had to choose out of all your MALE friends, who would you have sex with and why?
I can’t decide between Lee Reynolds and one of our Desert Hearts resident DJs, Justin Campbell. Lee Reynolds because he’s a savage animal and one of the horniest people I’ve ever met and he’d probably bust in 1 minute so it’d be over quick. If I really wanted to get into it and enjoy myself I’d have to go with Justin Campbell aka Sexy Jesus because he’s a motherfuckin’ dreamboat! He would be a caring nurturer.

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

This post was originally published on this site

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#End.

Order a copy of ‘Shante’ here

Feature Image found on: joy.org

Get to know your Desert Hearts: Doc Martin & Lubelski

This post was originally published on this site

Doc Martin

It’s hard to believe that Desert Hearts is already crossing into its fifth birthday. The Southern Californian transformational brand has grown from a humble, grassroots gathering into a veritable institution over its half-decade of existence, and only continues to thrive with its City Hearts offshoots. Now, Mikey, Lee, Marbs, and Pork Chop are celebrating their brainchild’s birthday in the most extravagant of fashions, holding the biggest festival to date and booking an equally immense lineup.

Damian Lazarus will be spinning a stirring four hour set, Doc Martin and Sublevel and SHADED will be bringing their live performances into the fray, and many other talented acts like Kenny Glasgow and Dance Spirit also making an appearance. Dancing Astronaut had the privilege of sitting down with a series of the talent on the bill, and hosting interviews that they conduct between themselves.

One thing Desert Hearts excels at is highlighting immensely talented local acts on its wistful stage. Our next two performers joining together for a joint interview are hidden gems who both call Los Angeles their home.

Heavily active members of the LA party sphere have probably heard of the distinguishable Doc Martin.He’s primarily known for its impeccable deep house curation and the intimate, good-natured vibes he fosters at each gig. He is also one part of Sublevel Live, alongside the vocalist Lilllia. Having been around since the dawn of raving, more or less, Martin knows how to command a crowd at any time of day, and consistently finds himself on the rosters of many transformational festivals.

Lubelski comes from the new generation of talent bursting out of his Southern Californian locale, and has made a name for himself as a part of the extended Desert Hearts family. His pyschedelic-inspired house & techno, splashed with a bit of obscurity, ensures his crowds are always moving and kept on their toes. He’s managed to grow a large network and solid reputation despite only a relatively short tenure producing behind his Lubelski alias.

Find out what happens when we pair old and new generations together for a discussion about their mutual industry.

 

 


Lubelski to Doc Martin:

Let’s go from easy to hard. What is your go to airline? This is one I’m still trying to figuring out. Also, what’s the farthest from home you’ve ever played?
I was flying United and I almost had 3 Million Miles with them. The last couple of years, Delta has been great as far as Service, Meals, Movies, and Comfort!!! As far as International Flights go I use a variety of Airlines….

Probably the longest flight was to Bali from LA.

What does an ideal gig look like to you? What’s the location? What’s the crowd like? This can be in the form of one of your favorite sets you’ve played or maybe one that’s in your head.
I think a great gig consists of an open, dancing crowd! Music being curated the right way, not just a bunch of names thrown together. I do prefer a good artsy crowd, that is open to great music. I also love long sets where I can play different types of music through the night and take the crowd on the full ride. Notable shows that instantly stand out are gigs at Cityfox, Circoloco, Desert Hearts,Oregon Eclipse Fabric UK, Sublevel, Deep LA, Subtract LA, Art of Sound, and most recently The Do Lab at Coachella.

Do you have a ritual for when you play or when you write music? If so, what is it?
When picking music to play I have a very particular ear. I’m looking for more of a vibe, than just a style of music. I listen to tons of tracks, and still play at home all the time. When making music, I will spend hours on just making a sound. Sometimes songs take a while to come together. I believe the most important thing is to stay extremely passionate about what you do.

You’ve been an absolute legend in the scene since the early 90s. What is one thing you miss about the early rave days that you don’t see around in today’s scene?
Things were a lot different in the beginning. The scene was a lot smaller. I was truly blessed, to be one of the first DJ’s to play in different cities around the country. Saying that, I’m having the time of my life right now. I’ve met so many cool people, while being on the road lately. It’s been a completely positive experience! I think it’s important to have fun, and always love what you do.

Has there been one definitive song for you that has stood the test of time that you still find yourself playing in sets every so often?
What an Impossible question to answer. I’m always looking for classics that maybe weren’t huge at the time. There are so many remixes that bring classics in to the now.

Lubelski

Photo credit: Charlie Winterhalter

Doc Martin to Lubelski: 

What’s the story behind the Lubelski name? asking for a friend 🙂
It’s kind of a long story but I’ll give you the short version. I used to go by another name that was derivation of my first name. Unfortunately it was taken by a Puerto Rican rapper that wanted more than anything in the world to be Latino superstar Pitbull. So in deciding a new name for myself, I wanted to go with something that sort of defined the origins of my last name. Lubell is a derivative of Lubelsky, where my family comes from in Poland!

Please give us a little background on your musical Influences that have helped you develop as an artist.
I’ve been playing instruments since I was just a kid. Always thought I’d end up in a band as a guitarist, but after years of trying to make it work with bandmates, I wanted to just do it all myself. As far as musical influences go, I’ve always been super inspired by guys like Moby, Fatboy Slim, and Led Zeppelin. They’ve always been artists that have tried to push the boundaries on what people considered to be good music and really defined generations of sound.

With so much music coming out on so many great labels. What is your favorite piece of gear and why?
There really is so much good music coming out. It always baffles me how people come up with some of the ideas for electronic music that they do.

I got to say my favorite piece of gear is my Doepfer Modular Rack. It’s the one piece of gear that I feel plays me, rather than I play it. It feels like I have to hold a conversation with it, if you know what I mean. It’s got its own character and is a bit haphazard at times, so it’s always refreshing to get lost in it and let the sounds kind of take me on journey.

How do you see the scene through your eyes?
Oof. This is a tough one. Without stepping on anyone’s toes, I feel like the scene is constantly at a tipping point. I feel because the scene is so saturated, it’s hard to say which direction it will go. Sounds, rhythms, and styles are all being overplayed and people are looking for the freshest thing. Artists like Four Tet, Jamie XX, Frits Wentink, and Danny Daze, I think, all have the right idea because they are focused on a forward thinking sound rather than whatever’s hot and just crowd pleasing, although I will say I still love party tech!

What are some of your favorite DTLA places/hangouts/Restaurants?
I love hanging out in Los Angeles Historic Park in Chinatown. It’s just outside of DTLA and a great place to look at the skyline and enjoy a sandwich ahaha

So many amazing restaurants in Downtown, it’s crazy…but to name a few – Tacos and Mezcal at Las Perlas, Sandwiches at Eat, Drink, Americano in the Arts District, Sushi at Enya in Lil Tokyo, and Mexican food at Bar Áma in the Old Banking District.

Who are you looking forward to hearing at Desert Hearts?
Sublevel Live, of course!!! Also Serge Devant, Damian Lazarus [4 Hr Set], SHADED, and my dude, RYBO.

 

Feature image credit: Danny Liao

Get to know your Desert Hearts: Lee Reynolds & Egyptian Lover

This post was originally published on this site

It’s hard to believe that Desert Hearts is already crossing into its fifth birthday. The Southern Californian transformational brand has grown from a humble, grassroots gathering into a veritable institution over its half-decade of existence, and only continues to thrive with its City Hearts offshoots. Now, Mikey, Lee, Marbs, and Pork Chop are celebrating their brainchild’s birthday in the most extravagant of fashions, holding the biggest festival to date and booking an equally immense lineup.

Damian Lazarus will be spinning a stirring four hour set, Doc Martin and Sublevel and SHADED will be bringing their live performances into the fray, and many other talented acts like Kenny Glasgow and Dance Spirit also making an appearance. Dancing Astronaut had the privilege of sitting down with a series of the talent on the bill, and hosting interviews that they conduct between themselves.

Two stalwarts join us for Round 2 of interviews. The first is an LA staple, known for his connection to house music and the underground scene. We’re referring of course to Egyptian Lover, who has dedicated his life toward helping the scene thrive and sharing his soulful and grooving sounds to the world. Outside the warehouse sphere, he’s releasing on the likes of Hot Natured, Ninja Tune, and more, and even earning his Boiler Room stripes.

He partakes in this series alongside “Papa” Lee Reynolds, the English transplant who has since become one of Desert Hearts most beloved leaders. There’s something so youthful and infectious about him that rubs off on those he encounters and inspires them to maintain a positive mindset. Catch him on stage rallying a full crowd of dance-loving individuals at the festival, or any of his brand’s offshoot events. Together, they share fond memories of past gigs, offer a glimpse into their inspirations, talk shop, and more.

 


Egyptian Lover to Lee Reynolds:

What’s the feeling you get when you play a song and people scream (in a good way)?
That’s one of the experiences that I live for and what I hope to achieve with every track I drop. Trying to hit that perfect vibe and frequency that gets the crowd totally in the moment, on the same wavelength and gives them a chance to detach from the all the bad news — we’re fed with the government controlled media. When I get the crowd whooping like a bunch of wild humans, I feel like I’m doing my job. One of the best feelings you can have! I’ve definitely been brought to tears during DJ sets from the energy I feel from the dancefloor.

I myself still play with vinyl records, what do you play with and why?
I mostly play CDJs these days for the ease of use and because I travel so much. It’s nice not to have to lug around a 50 lbs box and to know I’ve got a thousand plus songs in my coin pocket so I can take the party in any direction it needs to go. I’ve been playing vinyl for about 27 years and actually played my first all vinyl set in over a decade a couple of weeks ago, but I have to say that I’m officially addicted to the black crack again! Funnily enough I did play “Egypt, Egypt” which has always been a staple throwback track for me and gets worked into a set a least a few times every year. Having to dig through my collection to get ready for the gig was such an amazing trip down memory lane…many tears of joy and goosebumps were had!

If you could go back in time and be in the studio with any artist and do a Lee Reynolds Remix, who would it be with and on what song?
Great question. Wow, so many good ones. Kate Bush, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode (ate my first acid at a DM show in London), Siouxsie and the Banshees (my first candy-flip), Grace Jones, The Clash, Bowie, Talking Heads, Fleetwood Mac, Bauhaus, Art of Noise, Bjork, Brian Eno, Giorgio Moroder, Echo and the Bunnymen, Gang of Four, The Human League, Liquid Liquid, New Order, Dead Kennedys, Prince, Queen, The Specials, Can, The Stone Roses.. I’d give my left testicle to have shared the studio with any of those legendary artists and I know my old brain is spacing out on many others. But ultimately it would have to be The Cure, my greatest ever musical obsession! Really hard to pick one song from their incredible discography but I’m gonna say Other Voices.

You are paid $10 Million to DJ a super private party. What are the first 5 things you buy?
1- Dream home for my parents
2- Three month worldwide adventure with my amazing wife Zoe and our incredible girlfriend Dani
3- The ultimate nightclub in my hometown of San Diego
not sure if there would be anything left by this point 😉
4- A plot of land to start my commune
5- A 12 pack of lager

What’s your favorite drink when you DJ? What’s your favorite drink at home?
Lager, lager, lager!!! I grew up in the UK and I’m know to kill at least a 12 pack on a daily basis. I try to steer clear of the hard liquor but that seldom works as I do love a bit of Tequila!

Egyptian Lover – Photo courtesy of artist

Lee Reynolds to Egyptian Lover:

 

“Freak-a-holic,” “Egypt, Egypt,” and “Sexy Style” are the first three of your tracks that pop into my head and all jams that I still play when I’m looking for some proper old school electro. They all make me feel you were having a really great time in the studio, which one of these was the most fun to produce and why?
I would have to say “Sexy Style” was the most fun. I always go to the studio with friends and at the time, my band. But this one weekend everyone flew to Las Vegas with Rodney O. So I was alone and booked the studio. I went in all by myself and created this track and did the vocals and when my band came back I played it for them and they lost their minds when they heard it. I felt good about it. I then released it right away. It was out in the stores within a couple weeks.

We all know that you’re the boss of the TR-808 but what’s your favorite synthesizer and when/where did you pick it up?
The amazing Roland Jupiter 8. I went into the Guitar Center and asked what’s the best synth you have? The employee said the Jupiter 8 by Roland but it’s expensive. I said “I’ll take it” and add the Emulator as well. His eyes got so big as I had them delivered to the Studio and recorded with them that day.

You been on the scene since the very early 80s and have had a huge influence on myself and many others. What inspires you and who are a few of the artists that influenced to start this journey?
My biggest influences came from Prince, Kraftwerk and the song Planet Rock. That song hit me way deep down in my soul and I knew I had to do something like that. The rap style came from Prince and by putting both of these two together you get Egyptian Lover.

I live in San Diego and I know that this city has shown you a lot of love throughout the years. Do you have a favorite venue down here and any funny stories about performing in my hometown?
I played the Kava Lounge many times and I absolutely love it. Very intimate. Once I was shooting a video there and my cameraman’s wife’s water broke and had her baby in San Diego. I finished my show and we all went to see the new born baby.

We’re super excited to have you at Desert Hearts this year. Can you tell us a little bit about your live set up, what your favorite DJ mixer is and what we can expect?
I’m gonna just do what I do best and that is Rock the House to the Ultimate of Par-tay-stivity. You will witness the evolution of The Egyptian Lover. My crazy DJ set with turntable tricks, playing records backwards, and then playing my 808 Live. Then performing my own songs. I like 4 channel mixers like the Pioneer DJM. I can plug my 808 right into it and have full control over the volume.

Transcending imagination: Claptone talks forthcoming album & being a ‘Fantast’ [Interview]

This post was originally published on this site

Life is lived consistently in “mask on” mode for this modern house revivalist.

The ever-enigmatic persona by the name of Claptone proved himself a musical magic maker on Charmer, the producer’s debut album released in 2015. An LP comprised of sultry, sophisticated house selections and the dark pulsating beats that keep dancers moving on dimly lit dance floors, Charmer exerted a warmth that permeated today’s house circles and has smoldered ever since.

His sophomore album  Fantast — due for a June 8 release on Different Recordings and [PIAS] — is a sonic exploration of self. It will arrive to listeners as an invitation to venture further into the world of Claptone, and to better acquaint themselves with the mystique surrounding his talent. A clear sense of one’s nature preludes the knowledge of one’s identity, and this character certainly knows himself to be a “Fantast (French translation: Ghost).” Dancing Astronaut caught up with coveted performer to talk the album’s release, recent singles “In The Night,” and “Stay The Night,” and how the producer embodies his identity as a “Fantast” in his music.

Your sophomore album Fantast will drop on June 8. You’ve released two singles off of the album so far, in your words the “uplifting” “In The Night,” and the darker “Stay The Night.” Can you talk a little about what listeners can expect in terms of the tone of the album—will the album be more “In The Night,” “Stay The Night,” maybe a little bit of both? 

[Editor’s Note: Claptone has since released the third single off of the album, “Under the Moon“]

My new album, Fantast, pairs quite well with my first LP, Charmer: both bleed with unmasked personality, briefs looks behind my golden mask.

How has your approach in the production of Fantast differed from that of your debut album, Charmer, if at all?  

When it comes to writing music, I tend to let myself be guided by the winds of creativity. This time I was dragged out of closed environments into the great outdoors. Not sure if it was the moon pulling a trick on me or what exactly happened. On the quest to find myself through music I was guided deeper into nature in my dreams and in reality. I have never been so much in tone with the elements than on Fantast and this made me feel my animalistic side even more. Do I know who I am now? Rather not, but what I did find out is that I’m a Fantast.

Your songs “In The Night” and “Stay The Night” both have an association with nighttime, and this seems only to further contribute to your mystique. When “Stay The Night” dropped, you noted the tonal difference between both tracks, and said that you need your listeners to “experience the other side of my night.” How would you describe what your “night” is, since you’ve indicated that it’s a multifaceted concept.

A transitive experience, where dimensions shift, memories are made and reality melds into fantasy. It’s far more vague than daytime where putative truths make living for me almost unbearable. The night allows a far more emotive spectrum far less defined by science, work ethics and capitalism far more open to pain and joy, yearning and happiness.

You’ve stated that you “are and have always been a ‘Fantast.’” What does being a “Fantast” mean to you? 

All the answers that you may seek are within the music itself. But I’ll spoil you with one of my many truths: My mind is inventive to a stage that tends to transcend some peoples’ imagination.