Katdrop may not be a household name quite yet, but with the release of his latest product, the emerging Chilean beat maker may have found his stride. Dropping off a melodic new dance piece, “Holding On,” Katdrop ropes together evident sonic influences from Porter Robinson and early Skrillex house fare on his latest single. The track brings emotive house elements together into a dance floor designed, radio-ready electro cut polished by infectiously catchy vocal arrangements.
“Holding On” comes by way of European house imprint, Tasty, which has proven to be a fitting home label for Katdrop’s growing catalog. Recalling the progressive house that dominated main stages at the turn of the decade, Katdrop’s newest piece suggests the young producer will be ready to ride the genre’s immanent resurgence.
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.
French Express conductor Jonas Rathsman is a wizard when it comes to house music of the melodic variety. His love for such sounds runs deep, beginning at a young when the Gothenburg native got introduced to underground electronic whilst organizing hip-hop parties. By 2011, he’d been fully broken into the international scene, having made his name over singles like “Tobaggo” and “Love Is My Middle Name.”
Rathsman’s organic, heartfelt approach to music is more than working for him. He was named “Future Star of 2013” by Pete Tong on Radio 1, and has since climbed to the upper echelons of the house and tech realm with consistently high quality releases on labels like Crosstown Rebels and Diynamic.
His future is only looking brighter as he continues to grow into himself not just as an artist, but almost a “jack of all trades” type of participant in the electronic music industry. Having created his ELEMENTS brand initially as a mix series, it’s now grown into a full-on label, as well as a name for one-off parties around the concept that have been met with success.
The Swedish icon graciously provided Dancing Astronaut some insight into his career explosion and ELEMENT’s growth ahead of the newest podcast episode’s release.
You’ve always had a tendency to enjoy music that is more on the melodic side; whether soulful, piano house or melodically-infused tech. What has drawn you to this type of music in particular, and would you agree that these sounds are beginning to come “back into fashion?”
I feel like right now it’s very much about banging techno, at least in Sweden it is. For me, I need something with some sort of melody – uplifting or dark, it doesn’t matter. I can’t really listen to rolling, generic tech-house for more than a few hours as it doesn’t really speak to me. I guess I’m an emotional person and I need to have emotional music to be satisfied.
Innervisions is one label that I think is doing everything right and have been doing so for a long time. Every track on the label has its place – they worked out a winning recipe which is the perfect balance between romantic techno and emotional house. They’ve released so many amazing classics like Frankey & Sandrino’s “Acamar” or the Âme remix of “Howling”, priceless!
Tell us about your ELEMENTS mix series – did you start that up as a way to almost force yourself to seek new music from unexpected places? Or have you always had aspirations to create a consistent mix show?
I’ve always enjoyed making mix tapes. It’s tough and challenging, but it’s a really good way to keep you updated on new music; it’s easy to be lazy and just keep playing the same tracks over and over (this has never worked for me).
I wanted to make an ongoing mix series for a long time, it just didn’t work while having really young kids and touring – any spare time I had I want to spend with my family. Now that the kids are a bit older, I have some more time on my hands. About 18 months ago it was a good time to launch the ELEMENTS series and I wanted to do something that was an extension of my personality in a way. We are surrounded by so much nature here in Sweden, and I’ve always felt a connection to the natural surroundings – I miss that when I am away in big cities! So this is where the name ELEMENTS came from.
It’s really gone above and beyond my expectations as I get so much new music sent to me now! I listen to everything that is sent, so much of it is really amazing – it’s a really nice way to come across new talent. A lot of the artists who have submitted their tracks I’ve ended up signing on the label and because of that they keep coming back and sending me more material. I really feel like these newcomers who understand my family vision for ELEMENTS.
One guy that I’m really excited about is Mario Bianco that I recently signed and another is Mimram. They both make incredible music and will be featured in the next mix – I’m really excited about their stuff.
Where are your favorite places to find the best new music?
A lot comes from demos and promos, but I also buy a lot of music. I use WhatPeoplePlay a lot. Their staff picks are usually really good and it just suits me better. I also often reach out to DJ friends to see if they have anything fresh they’d like to share and that usually works quite well.
Speaking of ELEMENTS, you also launched your own record label by the same name. What was the moment that made you realize it was time to venture into this territory? What are some of the obstacles that have come as a new label owner, and how have you overcome them thus far?
Since day 1 I’ve wanted to turn the mix series ELEMENTS into a label, but I wanted to build the brand organically. We decided to launch it as a mix series at first and let people get to know the sound so that the connection with the releases would feel more natural.
People started to send us music for the mix series that was unsigned, and there was just so much good music that I really felt a need to start the label. When Kincaid & Sinal sent me “Long-Haul Flight Bathroom Romance Scene”, I knew it was time, it just had to be the first release on the label that didn’t have my name on it! My management team also provide a promotional service so it’s very easy for me to work with them in-house as they do all of the promotion for the label on top of managing me. It is really exciting what we can do for artists through the label with that in place. I want to help make a difference to artists careers and I feel that we can do that through the label, mix series and events. It was great to see Kincaid & Sinal get to number one on Beatport with their release – it is a testament to the quality of the music.
Setting up a label does come with its challenges though, as I feel it takes a lot of releases to become that ‘established’ label that every artist wants to release on. It’s up to us to do our work on the records and build it organically. I am really excited about what is to come with ELEMENTS.
Aside from your own lovely label, what are some other up-and-coming labels we should keep our eyes on?
There are a few for sure. Kindisch, MoBlack and Rise to name a few. A label that keeps coming back in my mixes is Oleeva – there is probably one track from each series that comes from that label as they are doing amazing stuff at the moment.
What does a day in the life of Jonas Rathsman look like? How do you balance out your label, mix series, studio time, and all your increasing gigs?
It is tough at times, I have to be honest. I have two boys aged eight and ten, so first and foremost I am a father and I really try to spend as much time with them as possible. The oldest one likes to sing, and the younger one likes to play bongos on pretty much everything. My youngest also wants a banjo and I was like ‘what?!’ I will buy him a banjo one day, probably when he’s grown up and moved out! They are so much fun at this age though,we’re best friends!
As I said, number one priority is always my family, so the day revolves around them really. I get up at 6:30am to make breakfast and take the boys to school. I try to keep my working day in the studio to 9am-5pm – I can’t be in the studio 24/7 and stay up all night, it just doesn’t work! I like to be back at home in time to cook in the evening, and I help the boys with their homework or whatever needs to be done, so my working day is actually quite short.
Between the hours of 9-5, time flies by so fast so it can be hard to find time to finish music. During these hours I have to make time for management talks and label planning as we speak regularly on planning the releases and what’s happening with my career. Plus, for the last few months I have been building a new studio space, which is finally nearly finished! If you follow me on Instagram, then you might have already seen some pictures and videos, but I’ll share something properly once it is done. The day is just way too short for me, but I try to make the most of it. I make sure that I stick to deadlines and get the mixes, label tasks and my own music done within them.
I also don’t like to be on tour for too long, so I try to make sure I’m never away for more than ten days in a row because I miss my family and of course they want me back home. It might sound strange, as a large part of my career is touring, but I try not to take gigs every weekend as I like to also spend time with the kids on the weekends. I always feel a greater sense of balance when I am at home more, and that helps to drive everything else.
Monkey Safari have endured quite a journey in fashioning their latest album Odyssey, which is set to release on their Hommage imprint on October 27. What began as a “listening album” project soon evolved into a project aimed at dance floors, where their hearts and minds truly lie. The result — an eleven-piece compilation of pieces that convey their personalities in sonic form while enrapturing listeners with driving, hypnotic elements.
“Boulonge Billancourt,” the LP’s third piece, embodies Odyssey’s ideology in its purest form. Its duration is quite long — around 11 minutes, to be exact — but seems to fly by in the blink of an eye. Within, the mind is swept off to an introspective place by way of subtle percussion and long, drawn out melodic progressions. String accents add a poignant edge to “Boulonge Billancourt,” while hints of acid synthesizers hum along its entirety and help to conjure images of a dreary, industrial city while listening.
The past several years have been monumental for the brotherly duo, who’ve fully embraced their proclivity for all things melodic and progressive. Their complex and deeply intelligent music has rocked crowds across genres, leading to their recruitment to release on labels like Bedrock, Solar Distance, and more.
Now in it’s 21st year, the mystique surrounding Burning Man and its ability to draw in the biggest names in electronic music have shown now signs of abating. This year was no exception, with contributions from Diplo, Skrillex, and a Burning Man favorite — Tycho’s sunrise set.
One particular guest to Black Rock City that has until now remained rather elusive has been the legendary Carl Cox. Thanks to the folks at The Radio Department, fans of tech-house can now hear Carl Cox’s first-ever guest mix (beginning at the 58 minute mark) on John Digweed‘s radio show, Transitions.
Recorded live from deep within the playa this past September, expect to hear a carefully curated mix of techno and progressive DJs who are pioneering their respective genres, including Dance Spirit, Satori, Markus Homm, Connan Mockasin, Tiefschwarz & Yawk, and more.
Jeremy Olander is one who manifests success for himself by sticking staunchly to his guns. Carefully biding his time after breaking out through Pryda Friends, the Swedish phenomenon grew into his true artistic self through a series of carefully-selected releases and through the foundation of his own imprint Vivrant in 2015.
His moves and undying passion have thus far brought nothing but success, with freedom to release as he pleases and nurture the next generation of progressively-inclined talent, and access to the top of the music industry with accomplishments like his own night at ADE’s 2017 iteration and also a residency at Sound Nightclub that will be wrapping up in December.
The blissful horizon that is 2017’s conclusion officially kicks off with the release of Gattaca, a four-track EP carefully compiled by Olander as the milestone tenth release on Vivrant. Gattaca opens with an impressive title track, which possesses a refined nature that is conveyed through gentle synth work and percussion. Its melancholic, yet hopeful atmosphere is one that Jeremy is expert at creating, and will easily lead to many hands in the air when rinsed on the dance-floor.
“Gaansvort” is even more poignant than “Gattaca,” raising goosebumps with a moving, almost trance-y progression and a soaring breakdown. Nine minutes seem to fly by as the body is quickly entangled in the piece’s intriguing layers and gripping notes.
“Galheera,” which closes Gattaca, is a veritable gem of the EP. Originally dubbed “Bahrein ID 02” by fans, “Galheera” is the type of production that pierces the heart with striking melodies and sweeping background notes that amplify the already heavily bittersweet effect. It serves as a catalyst to introspection and getting in touch with one’s emotional side, transforming dance-floors into deeply bonded communities.
Music made with the heart had a profound effect on the listener, and Olander’s deep process of writing songs translates into an infectious energy that captures hearts and leads to a committed fanbase of Vivrant soldiers. Luckily, the coming months will be bringing his gleeful spirit to many corners of the globe, including a Vivrant showcase at ADE, his final residency stop at Sound nightclub in Hollywood, and various stops across the United States.
19 year-old Tim Engelhardt has landed himself on top of the progressive game despite his young age. He has an innate sense of musicality that leads to magic in each of his productions — a trait that makes him one of the more recognizable acts of the new generation.
Having released on Diynamic, Vivrant, and even Anjunadeep this year, Engelhardt’s newest EP landed on HOSH’s fledgling Fryhide imprint. Reality is quite the four-tracker, exploring often poignant themes within each track’s melodies, pads, and rhythms.
“Heart Resonance” exemplifies the themes of the EP well, truly leading to goosebumps with its haunting central melody and slow, arpeggiated synthesizers. Chimes and UFO-like samples line the background, adding to the overall forlorn effect that is communicated through the composition. Here, Engelhardt demonstrates his expertise once more at layering sound together in a moving fashion.
Rhythm Cult, a brand new moniker created by production duo Paul Loraine and Richard Seeley, have earned the supreme distinction of debuting their new work as an outfit on none other than Sasha’sLast Night On Earth label. Thus, Brutal was born — an EP that shows off the producers’ duality across two separate mixes with a lighter, acid house-esque original of “Brutal” that soon gives way into a brooding techno dub mix.
No EP is complete without an expert remixer, and in this case, Petar Dundov was tapped for the job. Having already demonstrated his handle over all things melodic and progressive with releases on Sudbeat and Steyoyoke, the Croatian talent has succeeded in molding “Brutal” into a completely different beast of a track. He builds an airy foundation around the original’s acidic elements, deploying subtle, yet haunting vocal notes in the background to create an even more hair-raising effect. The finished work fits into the LNOE aesthetic seamlessly, and is primed to easily accomplish its purpose of dance-floor destruction upon its October 6 release.
Natura Sonoris owner Henry Saiz set out on his biggest venture yet in summer 2016, launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund his very first audio-visual album. Its immersive concept involved the Spanish progressive magnate and his band traveling to unique and particularly magnifying parts of the globe to record vastly different tracks that incorporated various elements of each location within them. Fans rushed to meet the funding goal, and thus the vision has since come to fruition.
Pete Tong and the Essential Mix caught wind of the LP’s completion, and thus invited Saiz onto the iconic series to show off his world travel concept to the world. Moreover, it was his first appearance ever on Essential Mix, marking a milestone moment that shows off the return of progressive to respectability.
Needless to say, the mix was magic in all sense of the word. Immersive and ethereal, Saiz defied genre boundaries and put forth pure, caliber music for two hours. While his mix wasn’t specifically comprised of songs from his forthcoming LP, it was a veritable sonic adventure that served as an excellent preview of what’s to come. Listeners were taken all around the world, from Berlin, to Saigon, to Joshua Tree, and treated to a vast expanse of sounds from each new region the album “stopped” at.
Each new song was vivid enough in its sonic form to conjure intense mental imagery: didgeridoos fluttered around the background of the Australia-themed portion of the mix, stimulating pictures of Aboriginals. Meanwhile, elegant pianos and brooding melodies created a sonic representation of Europe.
Saiz has created a truly profound journey in his first Essential Mix, and Dancing Astronaut agrees it has the fixings for Mix of the Year.
Tim Penner has had nothing short of a monumental year thus far, and his momentum is showing no sign of slowing down. He returns to his breakout label of JOOF Recordings seven months after his last ethereal release, The Temptress, with yet another stunning two-tracker.
The Gatekeeper sees Penner exploring new realms of sounds and breaking away from the status quo. Its eponymous opener is indeed multi-dimensional, opening with subtle, haunting melodies that line a prominent bass-line and cheeky percussion before blooming into a celestial masterpiece pumped with futuristic synth-work. It beauty lies in its development, which twists and turns through never-ending peaks and valleys that keep the ears engaged through its entirety.
Where “The Gatekeeper” is euphoric and emotional, “The Keymaster” offers a counterbalance of brooding intrigue. Simple, yet dynamic, the composition creates a tense atmosphere with gritty bursts of notes that are underlined by almost sinister arpeggios. Penner ensures this sentiment is carried on in greater degrees with each tier, building “The Keymaster” into a multilayered roller built for the darkened, afterhours’ dance-floor.
It’s safe to say the burgeoning Canadian act will only continue to build strength as his tenure within the underground realm lengthens. Having cultivated his Slideways label and podcast into a successful entity, he’s fully primed to take on the progressive scene as its next major talent.
Robin Schulz will be releasing his new album Uncovered on September 29th, and he has dropped “I Believe I’m Fine” ahead of the full album release. The single, which is out now via Atlantic Records, features Hugel’s smooth vocals juxtaposed with an upbeat, progressive backdrop. “I believe I’m Fine” is fast paced compared to Schulz’s previous releases, indicating the German producer has some interesting things in store on Uncovered.