Exclusive: Claptone chronicles first Ibiza residency, soundtracks the season [Interview/Playlist]

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Exclusive: Claptone chronicles first Ibiza residency, soundtracks the season [Interview/Playlist]Claptone

In an auditory age when an artist’s popularity is largely predicated on clicks, likes, and oversharing, secrecy is sexy—now more than ever. And who on the house music hierarchy has remained more surreptitious than Claptone?

Little is known about the man behind the beak who averages an improbable upwards of 260 performances per year, often traversing multiple continents for performances across a single weekend. Soaked in soul and powered by four-on-the-floor club grooves that range from pumped-up to plaintive, Claptone’s production has been tapped for official remixes from a litany of likeminded counterparts: from the Pet Shop Boys to—most recently—Mark Ronson (a forthcoming release). Despite the explosive success the plague doctor-themed project has secured since its 2012 inception, the Berlin-based Claptone camp solidified a fiercely coveted milestone, even among bluechip modern electronic acts, in 2019: an extended summertime tenure in the White Isle. Claptone’s first Ibiza residency touched down at one of the island’s quintessential after-dark playgrounds, Pacha. The perpetually poised puppet master attracted an auspicious flock to his Monday Masquerades, which spanned this past May-September and included the likes of Diplo, Duke Dumont, Eli & Fur, Shiba San, and Bob Moses (to name only a few).

While he’s lauded for laying low, Dancing Astronaut caught up with Claptone to get a closer look at the man who’s made his mark with myth.

Along with a stylized playlist to score the summer residency, Claptone shared insights on the bygone summer season, some fond moments at Pacha, and a bit about what’s hiding in his aural incubator. He also reflected on the longwinded lore breathing life into his immaterial persona. Claptone’s face may remain never to be seen, but one facet of the DJ’s smoke and mirrors act is certain—there’s substance behind the subterfuge.

Did Pacha live up to your expectations for your first Ibiza residency? Why or why not?

It was my first season and I didn’t have any clear vision of how it might be really. I only knew it’d be a great party cause I know my fans and the international popularity of Claptone. I knew they’d come and enjoy this experience and they did. To be honest for the first season it surpassed my wildest expectations. So many amazing people that appreciated all the quite various line ups I had been programming. The greatest compliment surely was that so many of these great DJs whom I booked like Todd Terry, Kerri Chandler, MK as well as DJs whom I couldn’t have on the bill like Solardo, CamelPhat, Paul Oakenfold, Roger Sanchez, Erick Morillo, Martin Solveig came in private on some Mondays to just enjoy the party and the great vibe of the night. That for me says it all.

Tell me about the stylistic approach you took to your summer residency in the White Isle…

I made a huge effort in growing the regular stage setup of my The Masquerade parties—the huge golden mask above the booth and the smaller masks with the LED-lit eyes hanging from the ceiling, to match Pacha and come up with interior design ideas to go along with that. Same with the dancer and performer costumes. I had tailors from Pacha as well as tailors from Torture Garden in London work out details on costumes and designs I came up with. That’s why in the end there are about 30 amazing characters from futuristic Venetian carnival to cinematic Eyes Wide Shut from classic Circus to Dia de los Muertos dancing, wandering or even flying through the club. 

Can you tell me about a particularly impactful moment or night from this past season’s performances? 

It’s hard to pick just one or two moments when you just had 19 weeks of mayhem on a Monday at Pacha Ibiza at your very own night with your very own concept The Masquerade. The pure fact that I was able to program the line up, invite and play with Armand van Helden, Andhim, Audiojack, Basement Jaxx, Bob Moses, Catz ‘n Dogz, Chus & Ceballos, Danny Howard, Danny Tenaglia, David Penn, Dennis Cruz, Dennis Ferrer, Diplo, Duke Dumont, Eli & Fur, Faithless, Felix da Housecat, Hannah Wants, Heidi, Illyus & Barrientos, Jon Hopkins, Kerri Chandler, Lars Moston, Maya Jane Coles, Mat.Joe, MK, Nhan Solo, Nora En Pure, Pirupa, Purple Disco Machine, Riva Starr, Route 94, Shiba San, Shir Khan, Sidney Charles, SG Lewis, Sonny Fodera, Tensnake, Todd Terry, Tube & Berger, and Weiss was such a game changer for me.

It’s tough to put that into words and even harder to pick a favorite moment. But the back to back with Diplo was certainly a highlight for me as this was my very first and to date my last back to back ever, [considering] it was Diplo playing house music in front of a super excited crowd. 

Any new music in the works you can speak to?

You know I love secrets, but, well, I’ll make an exception. I just finished some remixes that went to mastering the other day. You are more than welcome to look forward to what I did to Mark Ronson as well as Charlie Puth and Michael Kiwanuka. Fasten your seatbelt. 

Describe the significance of the golden-beaked mask and white gloves…

This mask is part of my personality, one of my many faces. Its origins lie in the old Italian city of Venezia and for me hints at the rich history and culture we all share and of course at the masquerade balls [we’ve held for] centuries. A social tradition which allows us to explore our identity and to fathom our freedom as individuals in performative play. One aspect of it is being able to question authorities and hierarchies, structures of self-sustaining power, question the ones we kneel down before.

The beak with its birdlike shape is giving me access to perform beyond human abilities. At the same time it ridicules pop idols, who think they are more than just human and love to run around presenting their tail feathers. The resemblance to a plague doctors mask is not by accident either. You are welcome to perceive me as some kind of sonic plague doctor. The mask was casted out of titan’s gold. Gold for me reflects the treasure that I found in music. It simultaneously ridicules the greed and materialism of your average rock star or Hip-Hop hero. Last but not least, wearing a mask is liberating and it’s shielding your privacy, extending your personal freedom. This, together with reflecting on the mechanisms of media and popular music, empowers me to be in charge of my image and perform my artistic identity much more consciously. The gloves I just wear to not get my hands dirty.

A great deal of secrecy ensconces the Claptone masthead, specifically in reference to your identity(s). Can you speak to this? 

Claptone declined to comment.

Photo Credit: Jackmode

Shiba San rocks steady on new single

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Shiba San rocks steady on new singleShiba San

Parisian music mastermind Shiba San has already graced the music world with several new songs already this year, and the blessings continue with the release of “Rock Da House.”

Released via his own Basement Leak imprint, fans may recognize the effortlessly groovy tune from his live sets, where he’s been playing it out for months.

“I knew I had to release this track when every show went crazy for it the past few months,” he said in a Facebook post about the release. “I am so happy you love it so much.”

“Rock Da House” follows releases like the Some More EP in June and “My Harmony” in February. Shiba San is currently on tour, globetrotting from events like Defected Croatia in early August to Dirtybird Campout West Coast in October. Learn more here.

NMF Roundup: Skrillex drops new EP, Knife Party return + more

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NMF Roundup: Skrillex drops new EP, Knife Party return + moreSkrille Press Shot

It’s most important day of the week: New Music Friday. With the overwhelming amount of tunes hitting the airwaves today, Dancing Astronaut has you covered with the latest edition of The Hot 25.

With just a day’s notice, Skrillex has surprised-dropped a two-track EP on OWSLA, consisting of “Fuji Opener” and “Mumbai Power.” Knife Party came out of the woodwork, too, to reveal their first releases in four years in the form of the Lost Souls EP. Perhaps today’s biggest mega-collaboration comes in the form of Dillon Francis, Boombox Cartel and Desiigner’s “Drip,” and one of the biggest remixes is sure to be Gryffin’s remix of Shawn Mendes’ “If I Can’t Have You.” Golf Clap have cooked up a spicy remix of Madi and Robokid’s “White Horse,” and Far Out takes Zeds Dead and Delta Heavy’s “Lift You Up” to new heights. Madeaux takes listeners deep into a late-night club with “I Want You,” and Goldroom continues his string of new releases with “Nothing Matters.” DESERT STAR returns to Monstercat with “Carissa,” and Alesso remixes his own tune with TINI, “Sad Song.” Andrew Rayel and HAILENE prove to be a match made in heaven on “Take All of Me,” and Hardwell and Quintino take things up a notch with “Reckless” on Spinnin’. Ray Volpe and Aviella join forces for “Our World,” and Mark Knight’s remixed David Guetta and Raye’s “Stay (Don’t Go Away).”

As each week brings a succession of new music from some of electronic music’s biggest artists, here’s a selection of tracks that shouldn’t be missed this NMF.

Spring Awakening 2019: takes from the talent, with What So Not, Nora En Pure, Destructo, and more

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Spring Awakening 2019: takes from the talent, with What So Not, Nora En Pure, Destructo, and moreWhat So Not

A thick cloud of uncertainty loomed over the months leading up to the 2019 iteration of Spring Awakening Music Festival. A venue change for any festival leaves a precarious taste on a prospective attendee’s tongue. With one location swap already in recent memory (the move from its iconic Soldier Field footing to Addams Medill Park in 2016), organizers of the Midwest’s largest strictly electronic music festival had plenty of work ahead them following the announcement that Spring Awakening would not only be on the move again, but would be altogether leaving Chicago: its longtime, hallowed home. The somewhat nebulous news of the upcoming edition landing about an hour outside of Chicago, in Hoffman Estates, was at first daunting, as seen in the discordant social media reactions from repeat patrons of the festival. There were quite a few qualms to assuage—indeed.

Though, with the latest chapter of Spring Awakening, React Presents proved that its hallmark event has deservedly endured the treacherous festival front, where so many promising productions have folded in recent years.

The most apparent ingredient in the June affair’s success was a lineup that obviously spoke to its audience. Trend-setting talent from the bass-centric house domain came in droves, compliments of quintessential electronic curator, Gary Richards, and his All My Friends stage takeover, while deeper, melodic appetites found plenty of fuel from a long length of Anjunabeats‘ renowned repertoire. All the while, scene staples like REZZ, Chris Lake, Rusko, Illenium, and last-minute addition to replace an injured Martin Garrix, Kaskade, made the 2019 ticket all-the-more difficult to turn down. In its aftermath, the bygone roster of this year’s Spring Awakening echoes the famed Field of Dreams adage: “If you build it, they will come.”

But besides a robust, wide-reaching lineup, Spring Awakening saw its 27-acre Poplar Creek festival grounds succeed in rectifying much of the sound-bleeding issues it’s experienced in past years. Some traffic stoppages at the entrance and exits (mostly confined to the event’s first day), and a smattering of mud (mitigated partially by organizers as the festival stretched on) throughout the venue proved to be the primary, isolated complaints from the 26-30,000 attendees the festival amassed each day of its three-day run.

This year, Dancing Astronaut sought to get the artists’ perspectives on not only the newest chapter of Spring Awakening, but its legacy in the national and Chicago event spaces. We sat down with both first-time performers at the fest and well-oiled veterans, rounding up talent from different ends of the map, including native Chicagoans (Porn and Chicken), Aussies (Dom Dolla and What So Not), even a Frenchman (Shiba San) for good measure. Here are their takes:

Nora En Pure

Spring Awakening 2019: takes from the talent, with What So Not, Nora En Pure, Destructo, and moreNora En Pure

Real name, Daniela Di Lillo, En Pure has traversed the Chicago club scene quite extensively over the years, though 2019 was the South African-Swiss artist’s first Spring Awakening. The “Come With Me” producer has been a revered name in the deep/melodic four-by-four realm for years, touting a length of accolades for her mixing proficiency, ever-apparent in her radio show/event series, Purified.

I love playing Chicago. It’s a great city for me to play: very music-driven. It’s very rewarding. You can play more elaborately and really try things.

Of the 2019 lineup:

…very diverse, I like that there are not too many similar acts to me, so I can play my sound and people can appreciate it. It’s a mix between that really uplifting stuff and deeper stuff… sticking to the melody.

Destructo 

Spring Awakening 2019: takes from the talent, with What So Not, Nora En Pure, Destructo, and moreGary

All My Friends label head and taste-making guru, Destructo (Gary Richards) returned to Spring Awakening this past year, with a trove of on-the-rise talent in hand. As one of the first festival organizers to book acts like Diplo and Skrillex at his Southern Californian and now-ubiquitous brainchild, HARD Events, Richards is certainly no stranger to simply figuring out what’s cool from the underground, and feeding it to the masses.

My parent company, LiveStyle, owns the festival. It was a natural fit to bring an All My Friends stage here. But also too I feel like every one of our festivals we do needs that bass-house lane. It was fortunate enough that we got our hand in Spring Awakening. It’s just really worked out. I think it’s important for the scene as a whole to make sure this festival stays healthy.

On what goes into curating a stage takeover:

Finding the new breed of producers, trying to showcase new talent and bring up new people. Dance music’s all about the new. I think the masses only know the tried-and-true names, and I’m trying to break through new people to keep it fresh, but also to help those young producers really shine.

What So Not

Spring Awakening 2019: takes from the talent, with What So Not, Nora En Pure, Destructo, and moreWhatSoNot3 1
Photo: Luke Eblen

One of the most omnipresent talents in the electronic ether, Australian-born What So Not was another familiar face at the most recent Spring Awakening effort, having played the fest in 2017. A driving source of innovation not just in his cross-genre niche, but the scene at large, What So Not’s most prominent cuts — like “Gemini” and his “Innerbloom” remix — continue to resound throughout festival grounds across the globe.

It’s a great festival to come out for. Last time I played, I think it was at 3 pm; really hot. They were struggling to move—staring into the sun. I remember being like, ‘Come on guys, let’s dance.’ They all just kind of laughed like ‘We’re trying!’ I’ve got some friends coming on a little bit later I’m really excited to catch, like [DJ] Snake. The Bass Tent looks like it’s going crazy. I want to go in there, put on a hoodie, and go get sweaty.

Shiba San

Spring Awakening 2019: takes from the talent, with What So Not, Nora En Pure, Destructo, and moreShiba San

A Dirtybird crown jewel and more-than-seasoned purveyor of infectiously animated deep and tech-house, Shiba San returns to Spring Awakening as one of the lineup’s most coveted acts. Having established his very own label, Basement Leak, along with several acclaimed EP releases, the Parisian producer has certainly been busy since his last Spring Awakening stop.

Spring Awakening was one of the first festivals I played in the US, around the time I played HARD. It was so packed, and very special. I started my house music with the ’80s house music of Chicago. Each time I play in Chicago, I remember where house music came from. Chicago is house music. I’ve been waiting on an offer to play Spring Awakening again for a while.

I think they do a good job of placing up-and-coming artists at good times and fair stages. It can be hard for smaller artist to play a big stage at 2 PM, and then no one shows up.

Dom Dolla

Spring Awakening 2019: takes from the talent, with What So Not, Nora En Pure, Destructo, and moreDOM DOLLA
Photo: AleksandarJason

Another Aussie, by the name of Dom Dolla, made his Spring Awakening debut this year. The “Take It” artist is quickly proving himself one of the most enticing propagators of the forward-thinking tech-house sound that’s taken American festival stages for ransom of late.

American audiences are super excited: house music is evolving so fast for them. Australia has quite a few established cultures. We’ve got our tech-house scene, a bass-house scene, a progressive/melodic scene, and all these established artists who tour within them. But dance music really only started to hit America in a commercial sense a few years ago. It’s been a really interesting tipping point observing what I can get away with in a set.

I’m performing a lot tech-ier here than I was a few years ago. I think the focus [at Spring Awakening] is very much on dubstep, trap, and that EDM sound, but I think they’ve picked their house artists really well, Shiba San, Chris Lake. It’s a distinctly American house sound, that Blackbook Records, Dirtybird sound, which I love.

Porn and Chicken

Spring Awakening 2019: takes from the talent, with What So Not, Nora En Pure, Destructo, and morePorn And Chicken

Having played the festival every year since its inception, Porn and Chicken are the invariable authorities on all things Spring Awakening. Known for their outlandish and voraciously attended event series (of which, unsurprisingly, visuals of porn and chicken are a cornerstone), the Chicago-based “dubstep-rock” crossover outfit has had one the most intimate vantage points of Spring Awakening’s progression.

We first played the festival on the Red Bull truck, which is no longer here. The stages are 10 times the size. This festival has grown as much as we have over the years. I feel like we were babies when we first played it. It’s been very interesting to see how the festival has matured, as we have as performers over the years. The festival’s identity is almost parallel to ours. [Spring Awakening has] faced so many challenges… But it’s bigger than it’s ever been.

The curation of the festival has always been electronic dance music, but throughout the years I think the sub-genres have been represented equally. You can find dubstep, you can find techno, you can find house, and everything else in between. It brings together all the best the world of dance music has to offer. I remember one of the first years we played: You could walk over and see Green Velvet on one stage and see Skrillex just across the way.

From the local level to the headliners, the festival takes care of you. They make sure that the local artists get a chance to shine.

Featured Photo: Rob Mondo

Splash House shares stellar June 2019 lineup topped by Justice, A-Trak, Jai Wolf, Armand Van Helden and more

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Splash House shares stellar June 2019 lineup topped by Justice, A-Trak, Jai Wolf, Armand Van Helden and moreAlice MoitieÌ Credit Justice Press Shot

Splash House is back, programming a top-notch lineup for the poolside function’s 2019 iteration. This year, Goldenvoice roped together a complementary blend of dance icons and the moment’s current wave makers—pairing acts like Justice, Jai Wolf, A-Trak, Pete Tong, Medasin, CRAY, and Armand Van Helden together on one of the most colorful billings of the year.

Additionally, AC Slater, Dom Dolla, Troyboi, Dusky, Shiba San, and more round out Splash House’s June 7 – 9 run. Splayed out across four luxurious Palm Springs’ venues—The Renaissance, Riviera, Saguaro Hotels, and the the Palm Springs Air Museum—Splash House as reinvented the typical festival model over the years, and based on an impeccable 2019 lineup, might be primed for its biggest year yet. See the full lineup below.

Splash House shares stellar June 2019 lineup topped by Justice, A-Trak, Jai Wolf, Armand Van Helden and moreImage

Cardi B, Skrillex, Kygo, Tiësto, and more top phase one of 2019 VELD lineup

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Cardi B, Skrillex, Kygo, Tiësto, and more top phase one of 2019 VELD lineupDjsnake Veld

A veteran of Toronto’s electronic events circuit, VELD Music Festival will bring a balance of dance and hip-hop acts to Downsview Park for the the festival’s 2019 iteration. The first phase of the two-day affair’s lineup features headliners Cardi B, Skrillex, Kygo, and Tiësto. Alesso, Loud Luxury, Zeds Dead, 3LAU, Ekali, FISHER, Shiba San, and Gryffin comprise just another handful of VELD’s additional electronic talent.

On the hip-hop end, VELD so far is locked to see performances from Kodak Black, Jaden Smith, Rich the Kid, and Ski Mask the Slump God, among others. While the star power is evidently in no short supply from start to finish of the phase-one lineup, more remains, as VELD has promised to reveal succeeding phases over the next few months. The all-ages event will take place on August 3 and 4. Tickets to the festival are now available, here.

Cardi B, Skrillex, Kygo, Tiësto, and more top phase one of 2019 VELD lineupVeld Music Festival

Photo credit: VisualBass Photography

NMF Roundup: San Holo reveals new single, JOYRYDE returns with ‘IM GONE,’ Vincent releases debut EP + more

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NMF Roundup: San Holo reveals new single, JOYRYDE returns with ‘IM GONE,’ Vincent releases debut EP + moreSan Holo Freddy Mercury Stance Goldrush Rukes

It’s most important day of the week: New Music Friday. With the overwhelming amount of tunes hitting the airwaves today, Dancing Astronaut has you covered with the latest edition of The Hot 25.

Feed Me has at last revealed the full extent of his High Street Creeps LP, which kicks off with otherworldly “Perfect Blue.” JOYRYDE returns after “AGEN WIDA” with his first tune of 2019, “IM GONE,” and San Holo picks up his guitar in his new single, “Lead Me Back.” Afrojack and Chasner have unveiled their energy-filled remix of David Guetta, Bebe Rexha and J Balvin‘s “Say My Name,” and Party Favor and graves transport listeners to a festival main stage on “Reach For Me.” Vincent‘s debut EP officially hits the airwaves today, featuring heartfelt tracks like “Can’t Help Myself” with Pauline Herr. Manila Killa returns with his seven-track 1993 EP on Moving Castle, and The Knocks celebrate the end of the week on their new “block party mix” of Blu DeTiger‘s “In My Head.” It’s been almost a year, but RAM Records king Andy C has resurfaced to bring the world “Till Dawn,” a drum & bass number that’s simultaneously funky and intense. Vicetone‘s four-track Elements EP has arrived on Monstercat, featuring songs like “Home.” David Guetta dons his Jack Back moniker for a new Toolroom Records release with Cevin Fisher, “2000 Freaks Come Out,” and Louis Futon reveals his full 14-track LP, Way Back When. In an interesting turn of events, NGHTMRE, Shaquille O’Neal, and Lil Jon share a byline on their new single, “BANG,” and Diplo flexes on a new body of work, Europa, on Mad Decent.

As each week brings a succession of new music from some of electronic music’s biggest artists, here’s a selection of tracks that shouldn’t be missed this NMF.

Photo credit: Rukes

Disclosure, Justin Martin, Shiba San, FISHER, and more top Elements Lakewood’s 2019 lineup

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Disclosure, Justin Martin, Shiba San, FISHER, and more top Elements Lakewood’s 2019 lineupScreen Shot 2019 01 24 At 4.29.58 PM

As Elements Lakewood Music & Arts Festival looks ahead to its third iteration with the release of its 2019 lineup, the expression “the third time’s a charm” is particularly apt. Boasting a number of heavy hitters hailing from the house genre, Elements Lakewood’s lineup will bring Disclosure, FISHER, Shiba San, and Justin Martin to Elements’ Pennsylvania home, to script a bumping next chapter in the festival’s history of production. Spanning more than 100 artists in its totality, the festival’s 2019 lineup also sees Elements Lakewood organizers issue noteworthy nods to Big Gigantic, Sofi Tukker, Seth Troxler, Damian Lazarus, and Clozee, among other artists.

A favorite among camping enthusiasts, Elements Lakewood will once more blend talent from techno, bass, jam rock, funk, and other sub-genres on a sprawling 200-acre campground that offers attendees five different stages of musical diversion. Complete with wellness activities like aromatherapy and sunset yoga, not to mention a myriad of camp games including basketball and volleyball, Elements Lakewood ensures that attendees won’t spend a single second of their time at the event idle. In a credit to the diversity of Elements Lakewood’s offerings, event-goers will also have the opportunity to partake in kayak trips at sunset, water sports like canoeing and swimming, and post-dusk adventures like a stroll through a kaleidoscope light-decorated forest.

Back to offer the ultimate soul renewal experience in its seamless intermingling of outdoor fun and good music, Elements Lakewood is a bona fide must attend for 2019.

A limited number of early bird three-day GA and VIP passes to the festival’s 2019 edition are now available and can be purchased here.

Photo Credit: Julian Cassidy

Shiba San releases ‘Excluded’ EP

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Shiba San releases ‘Excluded’ EPScreen Shot 2018 08 11 At 9.57.05 AM

Shiba San has brought his hip hop infused house sounds to another EP entitled Excluded. The four-track EP sees the French artist join Sankeys‘ label Kaluki Musik for the release after dropping EPs on Majestic Casual and his frequent home at Dirtybird earlier in 2018. This new body of work shows off his subtler side, as he strips down to the basics and creates intrigue through infectious basslines and clever synthwork.

Excluded kicks off with its pseudo title track, “Exclusion.” Starting out in an almost minimalist fashion, it slowly builds to reveal funky synths and sampling, presented across funk-driven bass progressions that could qualify for the “Deepest Of The Year” award. “Look Back” brings the EP slightly out of house’s nether regions slightly, withs= a hypnotic, retro through line that highlights acidic synths to create a familiar, yet timeless feel.

 

Photo credit: Facebook/ShibaSan

Shiba San throws down Chicago house in new ‘Off To Funk’ EP

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Dirtybird deity, Shiba San returns to Relief Records with his newest EP, Off To Funk, his second release on the Green Velvet-founded Chicago-based label.

The producer’s patriarchal presence in the house and tech scenes began after the release of 2015’s wall-to-wall club track “OKAY.” Since, he has embarked on world tours and worked alongside some of the most prestigious names in his respective genre, including Dirtybird label head, Claude VonStroke and Green Velvet himself, for their collaborative 2017 EP, Fearless. 

The four-track extended play, Off To Funk, features two original extended cuts, as well as two coinciding, shortened club mixes. The EP sees Shiba embrace the deeper, classic Chicago style house and tech elements that are so very characteristic of Green Velvet and the Relief imprint. In “Back To Funk,” a deep bass line thumps alongside rattling hi-hats and the repeated sample chop, “Back to funk/Freak the funk.”Comparatively, “Off” proves more melodic, with a colorful, highly texturized synth line alongside a crooning female vocal cut. Coming in with four new, satisfying club-ready house products, Shiba San has found a fitting home away from home on Relief’s roster.