Techno Tuesday: Ardalan and the philosophy of being ‘Mr. Good’

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Techno Tuesday: Ardalan and the philosophy of being ‘Mr. Good’Techno Tuesdays

Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.

Duality is a concept instrinsically connected with Ardalan‘s life and career. Born in Tehran to parents with international professions, he spent his youth living between Iran and his stateside home in the Bay Area and adapting to each locale’s different societal norms. Oddly enough, it was through his friend in Iran that he discovered DIRTYBIRD, courtesy of Claude VonStroke‘s megahit, “Who’s Afraid Of Detroit?” Not long after, he attended the very first BBQ as a young teenager. He released his first track on the imprint alongside Justin Martin by age 19, forever cementing his status as label family and one to be watched.

It was through this newfound success, and growth into adulthood, that the Ardalan noticed the contrasting nature of human existence, especially in the way one might present themselves to the world versus the person within. Thus, Mr. Good’s story was born. The key lies in its title track, and the more sinister “Mr. Bad,” which are the yin and yang of the album’s story. Just as everyone has a “Mr. Good” that they show off to the world, there exists a “Mr. Bad” to balance it.

The album as a whole is experimental, a step away from the lighthearted shade of tech house one migh have expected from his longform debut. Ardalan is no one trick pony, however, and he pulls off his album and its multi-genre exploration off with polished finess. One might even say that Mr. Good is an entrance into a new sonic era for DIRTYBIRD.

We chat more about the themes of Mr. Good for this Techno Tuesday, additionally taking a gander into its tech side, Ardalan’s artistic journey, his dual lives, and more.

Mr. Good really gave you a medium to explore your sonic range. In doing so, has your overall style in studio and behind the decks changed at all as a result?

In some ways I believe it has. I feel like I am always constantly testing new ideas and taking risks to do something different. Whether it’s in the studio or behind the decks, I really enjoy challenging myself to find a new sound. It’s fun. I look at it like its a puzzle, but with sound! I love playing different styles and creating a journey out of a DJ set. When I am in the studio, I always find a way to use or create something different with each track. I’m now excited to explore uncharted musical territories!

Which songs in particular really pushed you to go outside of your comfort zone musically, and in what ways did they do so?

“Lifted” with Claire George. It’s the one track on the album that isn’t 4 on the floor. I’ve never made a drum n’ bass tune in my life to this magnitude, so when I started working on it I didn’t really know what I was doing or know if there was a rulebook of sorts that I needed to follow. I was just jamming on the SP 1200 and having fun when I realized I could just work with the loop in half time and turn it into drum n bass!

Your dance music discovery really began in Iran. Can you take us to the time of discovering Euro house and techno there and how this ultimately prepared you for your full launch into the music world upon reaching adulthood in the Bay Area?

When I was growing up in Iran, I really didn’t have any sort of knowledge for music. I was just hearing all these cheesy trance melodies and some 90s pop house on bootlegged cassette tapes and satellite televisions from Europe. I was exposed to hearing Persian music as well. In the late 90s early 2000s, my brother got into Progressive House and Techno music from artists such as Deep Dish and Anthony Pappa. I got a taste of that and instantly got hooked. I then moved to the Bay in 2004 and really got into Boards of Canada & Aphex Twin. I then moved back to Iran in 2005 and moved into my brothers old room. He left his old computer behind with all the music mentioned above still in it. I started going through it and found James Holden’s Balance 005 compilation and that changed everything for me. I got into microhouse / minimal around 2006 and moved back to the Bay Area in 07. That’s when I heard Claude Vonstroke’s “Deep Throat” and ultimately DIRTYBIRD!

On that note, you’ve also mentioned that you made an effort to imbue the music of your ancestry into the project; how have you executed this?

I tried to incorporate a track that had those elements but I ultimately ran out of time and didn’t want to rush it as I want to do it right and raw yet keep those Iranian elements balanced.. I will go back to it in the future!

Techno Tuesday: Ardalan and the philosophy of being ‘Mr. Good’Ardalan Shot By Grady Brannan1 1
Photo credit: Grady Brannan

The album process was a long one for you, and with some tracks taking months to finish. How did you get over these periods of writer’s block or override what was holding you back?

Most of the tracks were finished in the last three months of the album process. But it took me forever to finish “Mr. Good” with PartyPatty. It was the first track that I was seriously working on for the album. I had never done an album and I really loved “Mr. Good,” so I wanted it to be perfect and I constantly kept changing it. I literally have about 250 versions of it. I took a break from it and read an article about how “perfectionism” is self-harm . I took a break from it and made “I Can’t Wait” and two weeks later I took one last stab at Mr.Good and I was happy with it. I grew so tired of hearing it in my studio during the album process, but now on my album tour, it’s one of my favorite tracks to play! Other than that, What kept me sane in that period was hanging with my girlfriend and family. Any chance I could I would take breaks as needed from the studio. I would dedicate some time to doing something different which I think really helped the album process for me as a whole. I got addicted to this mobile game called PUBG and was playing it with different producer friends like Sepehr, The Fitness, Option 4, and even Doorly! I thought I wasn’t gonna finish the album because I was having so much fun playing it. But it took some stress out of the process and when I went back to working on the album. I felt recharged.

You’ve gotten your hands on a lot of new hardware for the making of Mr. Good. What’s next in that regard? Have you considered trying your hand at modular production?

I think I have enough gear for now. Modular is a commitment and I know i wont stop once I start. So I think I will have to mess with VCV RACK until my new studio is 100 percent treated and complete. I have now moved to a new apartment and I have a smaller room to work with. I have so much gear so I think I’ll be okay in that department for now. Next thing for me though is to learn my new room the same way I learned my old studio and treat the acoustics more properly.

A major theme of this record is the duality of humanity; you have to be ‘Mr. Bad’ to be ‘Mr. Good’. Can you describe how this theme has played out in your own life, and how you translated it into the album/musical format?

I just think we go through different phases in time. Everyone has some sort of internal battle. Not everyone is 100 percent stress free, maybe a few souls these days. We all have ups and downs. Whether its mental instability, hardship of some sorts, or depression. Without all these negative experiences, how would we learn what’s good or positive in life? Sometimes we just have to accept that were not perfect creatures but we can learn from it and pursue happiness. I think it’s kind of funny because the theme of the album became about self doubt in finishing my album. I was hitting a wall and I wanted everything to be perfect. I was like, “this track needs to be “Mr. Perfect.” I learned that it can’t be perfect. Sometimes you just gotta let go of that self doubt and be bad or get freaky with it. Sometimes you wanna be a Mr. Bad and not sleep. Sometimes you end up going to an underground warehouse and lose yourself in the music till the next morning. These experiences turn out to be good for the soul sometimes.

Going off of the above, a lot of these tracks were written well before the themes of your album came to mind. How did the process play out in pulling these ones out of the archives and fitting into the overall story you wanted to tell?

I wrote a lot of tracks that didn’t make it on the album. There are only two tracks that were made before the theme. I guess in some ways I managed to fit them in the story. After finishing the Mr.Good track with Party Patty, I got really inspired to create tracks from scratch and not go to the old projects. I will eventually release all those. I have so much more music that didn’t make the album.

Now that you’ve taken this leap into album territory, what are some of the next milestones you wish to reach career-wise, and what are you doing now to accomplish them?

I want to explore new sounds and keep making more music. Even releasing different versions of the album perhaps. I am also trying to lean on making my studio more jam friendly and produce “live”. I want to make the leap into the live performance world at some point as well. I think that’s the next step career wise. It will be a fun challenge but very rewarding once I take it more seriously.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned over the years as you’ve blown up, especially within the last five?

I’ve learned to be extremely humble. I have met so many amazing people and fans in every city and im truly grateful for that. I don’t like being alone for long periods of time. I appreciate the time I have when I’m home. The album process taught me to be positive and not stress about the little things in life such as not allowing myself to get mad or complain that the coffee shop at the airport didn’t have almond milk. I learned to get excited about the small things in life. It’s given me the tools to push through the stress of being a touring artist. I have been touring since I graduated college in 2013. I try and exercise as much as I can. I play soccer every week between gigs. It’s my biggest passion after music. I try and go for a run as much as I can and during tour life. I think Justin Martin has inspired me in that department.

You’re currently on one of your biggest, if not the biggest, tour run you’ve ever taken in support of the album. Which places are you most excited about playing the first time?

I am excited to play at Meow Wolf for the first time!

Any final words or thoughts you wish to share?

I just wanna say that it’s been so amazing to see peoples reactions to my new album. I am really thankful for all the support!

Order a copy of ‘Mr. Good’ here

Techno Tuesday + Premiere: Gallya re-works deadmau5 & Grégory Reveret’s ‘Ira,’ reflects on her rise to global renown

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Techno Tuesday + Premiere: Gallya re-works deadmau5 & Grégory Reveret’s ‘Ira,’ reflects on her rise to global renownTechno Tuesdays

Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.

The electronic music spotlight grows on Eastern Europe as a new haven for sleek underground sounds. Gallya has found herself among the wave of house and techno greats rising out of the region, starting off on a strong note via Set About, a label which she started alongside fellow Bulgarian Metodi Hristov —who’d already become an icon at that time. It was clear from the get-go that she’s one to watch. A year later, she was nominated by Beatport for its ‘Top Tech House’ award. Her sound has continued to blossom since then, with Gallya turning in a darker, headier direction and a series of Eps on mau5trap backed heavily by label boss deadmau5. She’s also earned support from Sian and the Octopus camp, cementing her place in the techno realm. In the past year, her path to global stardom has really begun to unfold, where she’s traveled to places like Sri Lanka, Tokyo’s Sound Museum, Lebanon, and of course, the esteemed UK institution, Creamfields. Expect her base to continue growing at top speed through the next year.

Keen to hear what Gallya has learned through her deeper immersion into the global music space, we sat down with her ahead of her latest release on mau5trap—a remix of “Ira (ov)” from the acclaimed Where’s The Drop? The LP saw composer Grégory Reveret pair with deadmau5 to recompose a collection of classics into pieces fit for a symphony orchestra. She takes an industrial approach in this one, forging a grimy breaks track that lays on the bass. Her hometown influence can certainly be heard in this one. Gallya expounds further on her closer relationship with mau5trap, her ever-evolving sonic palette, running a label, and more for this edition of Techno Tuesday.

Techno Tuesday + Premiere: Gallya re-works deadmau5 & Grégory Reveret’s ‘Ira,’ reflects on her rise to global renownGallya Press Shot Courtesy Her FB 2

In passing we’ve read about former Soviet countries (Georgia being a big one) and their conservative policies presenting some difficulty when it comes to trying to grow dance music scenes in these places. Do these issues exist in Bulgaria, and as a result does the country have a huge underground scene that persists out of government sight?

The politics in Bulgaria make it very difficult for certain parts of the music scene here– the government really doesn’t really care about parties or nightlife culture. In the last two years, they banned outdoor parties after 10PM, which is hard because historically we’ve had amazing parties on the beach till 7AM. I don’t think that will last after this government is out, but it definitely makes it hard. With the indoor clubs there is less of an issue with the government–you can party until 10AM if you want as long as it’s outdoors. Because there aren’t as many regulations on the indoor clubs, the capital has a ton of different types of parties. You can find very underground stuff but also big ones on different venues and weekly events. It’s a nice balance, but it’s definitely not a huge scene.

Who are some other rising artists from Bulgaria that we should be paying mind to? Techno or beyond.

Through our label, Set About, we’re really able to shine a light on Bulgarian artists we believe in. Two examples of this are Peppou and Martin Stoilkov, two really talented techno artists who you should look out for.

Have you ever gone through moments of burnout or passion loss as a result of making music into a career? How did you/how do you reinvigorate your passion if so?

Yes it happens sometimes, but I get through these moments by reading motivational books or just going to a really good party. Sometimes burnout moments give you really good studio moments if you push through them, but sometimes it’s hard to tell when to keep up and when to just take a step back and take a break–every time is different. It is important in these moments to remember that it’ll pass and everything will be cool again. I try not to take it too personally and just know that it’s part of the process.

Now let’s talk more about Set About – what were the factors that led to you and Metodi Hristov deciding to create the label, in your own words? What makes you two a like-minded musical pairing?

Metodi and I have always had similar music taste and the same desire to do more than just release our own music. We had a similar understanding of the music industry, so starting label together just felt natural. It’s our shared brand and the way for us to express our taste and share music from other artists that we like.

Also we started the label hoping that as we continue to grow we can also release music from newer producers who aren’t well known yet. When we started making music, it was hard to get anyone to care about our music because we didn’t have a lot of followers. I hate that side of the industry, and want to make sure we’re just shining a light on good music. Every one deserves a chance to be seen.

The age of the internet has brought about a huge increase in artists creating their own labels. Do you think this has had an effect on the role of a label in general within the music industry into not so much a ‘gatekeeping’ platform, but more of a collective-type format that gives the owners full creative freedom and a place to support their friends and artists they like?

I think this ties into my answer for the previous question pretty well –yes I think it’s great that everyone has a chance because that way the labels releasing quality music are able to be seen. Also it makes the big labels work harder, not just to count on the bigger names they have on their rosters. The competition creates quality.

But I really only feel this way when talking about the way the internet impacts releases–it’s great that there are so many ways to discover music, but I think social media has made it really hard for artists to let the music speak for them. There are a lot of “artists” on social media who have huge followings but are relying on ghost producers and just posting nice pictures on IG. People who do it for the fame and the money take away from the ones who work hard to make it about the music.

You’ve expressed your love for techno many a time; as it’s such a broad term with so many different definitions and styles, what does ‘techno’ mean to you?

Nowadays the genres are so mixed, there are so many different subgenres and types of techno so I don’t think I can really define techno as a whole, musically. It’s funny because some people would say I’m techno but others would call it something completely different, it’s all about point of view.

But to me Techno is a lifestyle and a state of mind. Techno can be really varied but it’s mostly the darker side of the electronic music, which really resonates with me. It connects people in a very special way. Generally techno is about raving till the morning and dancing to harder beats.

Over the past couple years you’ve been working your way into the USA dance sphere; a tough land to crack into. How has that process been for you and what have you learned in general about successfully securing rights to work/perform in other countries, as well as growing your fan base abroad?

Yes! I have a pretty big fan base in the US but unfortunately this is the audience I haven’t been able to meet yet because of how difficult it is to get a visa. It’s literally the only place in the world I’ve had this problem with, so I find it hard to stay connected with the people there – there’s only so much you can do without being able to connect with people in a live setting. It’s something that we’re working on. Most places are actually pretty friendly for visas, it’s just thinking ahead and getting the proper paperwork done. The US is a little different; there’s a big risk of getting denied so it needs to happen at the right time. It’s definitely been an eye opening experience and a lesson in patience. We’re working on making it happen in 2020, so hopefully I will have the chance to party with my people based in US.

What are three quintessential Gallya tracks that embody your sound and why?

My style has definitely been changing a bit each time I create music, which I find is a normal part of the process, trying to evolve with each track. I think the tracks I just finished in the studio are going to be the most defining for my sound, which is really exciting. Since I can’t share those yet, my three favorite tracks I’ve released so far:

1.Gallya – Still On Earth (Original Mix)

2.Gallya – Elements (Original Mix)

3.Gallya – Machines (Original Mix)

What are some artistic milestones you hope to accomplish over the next few years?

Playing more festival sets and get my visa for the US so I can start touring there.

You just had a great performance at Creamfields. How was it playing that festival for the first time?

It was amazing, definitely the best experience I’ve had in my DJ career. The vibe on the festival was magical and really enjoyed performing on that stage. I closed out a huge stage and it was very interesting and exciting.

And finally to cap it off, everyone’s fave question: what’s next in the Gallya pipeline?

Next is this very special remix I did for deadmau5, I’m really happy to be giving you guys the first look. Also many more releases, collaborations and exciting things coming, but it’s still early to talk about some of it.

Order a copy of ‘Here’s The Drop’ here

Techno Tuesday: ‘A Night In The Life Of’ Boxia

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Techno Tuesday: ‘A Night In The Life Of’ BoxiaTechno Tuesdays

Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.

UK climber Boxia has asserted himself as a key talent in house/techno’s new guard. After honing in on his ferocious, big room take on underground music, it didn’t take long for Adam Beyer to notice the burgeoning talent and adopt him into the Drumcode fold. Since then, his name has become ubiquitous in the global sphere, and with good reason. A lifetime of DJing and producing experience under his belt has given Boxia a unique edge and ability to read his crowd, and adapt with chameleon-esque standards. Constant curiosity and will to self-improve is also a huge aspect of the producer’s ethos, which is why his music remains an ever-evolving force despite its overall cohesion under his signature sonic aesthetic.

This musical evolution is what eventually birthed Boxia’s upcoming album, A Night In The Life Of. It’s his first project of this type, naturally backed by Drumcode, serves as an aural expression and memory log of characters Boxia has met throughout his time on the dancefloor and beyond the decks. This isn’t so much an at-home listen, consume in one go type of LP; instead, it’s mostly club-focused, making the format more accessible and danceable. Curious to know more about the inspirations behind A Night In The Life Of, how Boxia brought his characters to life in song, and his overall process, we sat the producer down for Techno Tuesday to dish on the details.

Order a copy of ‘A Night In The Life Of,’ out June 3, here.

Techno Tuesday: ‘A Night In The Life Of’ BoxiaBoia Presspack 8122 Copy

Your album carries a melodic motif to it. What has led you to this sonic direction, and how does it play into the overarching theme of you recounting your rave days?

Thanks, very good observation. I love to be moved by music. It can happen in all kinds of methods and sounds in production, but a melody to pluck away at nostalgia as well as being something interesting can add new dimensions to a track.

Each of the album’s songs are ascribed to a certain club character you’ve encountered, correct? Can you pick out a couple of these characters in particular, the song that represents them, and how you expressed their personalities in musical form?

Yes, that’s right some characters, some situations. The track ‘Where Are Your Friends’ is about a close friend who’d always go missing when we go out. The melody from that is my interpretation of how he was feeling when he was bouncing around the place having the time of his life on his own!

The track ‘Under The Bridge’ was more about a situation when I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen for 10 years at the first Junction 2, they arrived around dusk and we were walking up to the main stage but unable to see the crowd yet, buzzing full of anticipation, sound resonating from the distance. Then you first catch sight of what’s in front of you from the top of the slope and it’s a sight to behold. It was a moment I shared with a friend I’ll never forget.

Why is now the right timing for you to release your debut studio album?

Erm, I guess this is different for everyone. I’ve always had so many ideas for tracks, and a good idea on how to make an album tracklist flow and the opportunity came up. I worked as hard as I possibly could for a year to deliver something I felt was right for now…

Were there any tracks that were especially challenging to complete? Why?

Yes, most of them! ‘Ephenomenon’ stands out though. I had a massive wobble quite late on and changed the entire track – high and low drums, lead, and even the melody. The first version just sounded so dated the more I played it. I’m really glad I persevered and changed it.

Tell us about a rave memory that helped secure your goal to become a full-time member of the dance scene.

There are so many. I had a quite successful career before I decided to drop everything, make some sacrifices and give this my full attention. It’s not a memory as such, more an experience. There’s a level of passion in this industry whether you’ve just got into it or been in it for years. It’s really nice surrounding yourself with people at both ends of the scale, as it exposes you to both new ideas, and experienced opinions.

How has the raving affected your outlook on life over the years?

I didn’t have the best teenage years. I really struggled to grasp any purpose at that time of my life… Then I went raving week in, week out for as long as I could do it and my whole outlook completely changed. Everything made sense after that, I owe it all to those times.

You’ve ascended the techno ranks quite quickly, becoming a notable member of Drumcode’s newer generation. What are some obstacles you’ve overcome to get to where you are today?

There are so so many obstacles, every corner and every day. Something which is an everyday thing for many artists on the up, is the trap of comparing yourself to others. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in what’s going on around you, wondering how this person does this, or how they got that show. You have to respect what happens around you and concentrate on your own thing. The super talent Honey Dijon articulates it so well in this post

On the note of Drumcode, what factors make you and the imprint such a good match creatively/sonically?

One of the things I love is that you just have to scan the back catalogue to see how the label pushes forward and I like being a part of that. Adam pushes me to deliver the best I can, and you just can’t argue with his level of experience, ha. The whole team is extremely professional to work with too which is a blessing.

Now with charting club singles, and album, and heavy touring under your belt, where do you see yourself headed next in your career?

Oooo, let me think…

I will hopefully tour more. The challenge of playing in new territories is something I really love. I’d like to do some collabs in the near future too. I have some bits I’m working on I can’t reveal too, you’ll have to wait for that!

What else do you have in your pipeline at the moment?

I have a remix coming on a new vinyl label called APE-X from the UK of an artist called ‘Markse’ which is produced by Man Power (Me, Me Me). The release also includes a remix by Spencer Parker. Other than that, I’ve just changed my entire studio workflow and setup so I’m knee deep in learning again while at the same time writing new stuff. As for the rest, you’ll just have to watch this space.

Techno Tuesday: Catching up with Moscoman on the ‘New Tel Aviv Wave,’ Gather Outdoors, and more

This post was originally published on this site

Techno Tuesday: Catching up with Moscoman on the ‘New Tel Aviv Wave,’ Gather Outdoors, and moreTechno Tuesdays

Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.

Record label owner and global sound purveyor Moscoman is an artist who needs little introduction. First becoming a pillar of the Tel Aviv underground, his sound that effortlessly smudges the lines between disco, electronic, global music, and house have since made him a subject of international intrigue. He eventually made Berlin his home base, where he launched Disco Halal in 2016. In just a few years, the imprint has earned a high reputation, playing an ever-increasing role in the rise of left field dance music with notable signings from Chaim, Red Axes, Trikk, and more. Moscoman also made waves in 2017 with his hybrid imprint/eight-part series, Treisar.

The artist has continued to build upon his recent successes in 2019, putting out well-received EPs from Trikk and Nicola Cruz & Auntie Flo while stopping by fellow avant garde leader DJ Tennis’ label Life and Death for Wave Rave. Like its name, the eclectic four-tracker is rife with new wave/1980s influences—with futuristic overtones. His and his artists’ output remains impeccable, and it’s clear that Moscoman has fully stepped into his own as an artist,

He also follows a busy tour schedule, with one of his key upcoming dates being Gather Outdoors. The festival, organized by New York scene shapers Teksupport, is putting on its first edition at the Holiday Mountain Resort in the Catskills region of New York. Moscoman joins the likes of Francesca Lombardo, Brian Cid, Audiofly, and more at the festival’s Members-curated Oak Stage.

Curious to know more about his take on the rise of global sounds in dance music, lessons he’s learned through his long-reaching career, playing Gather, and his curatorial influence, we had a brief chat with Moscoman for this edition of Techno Tuesdays.

Techno Tuesday: Catching up with Moscoman on the ‘New Tel Aviv Wave,’ Gather Outdoors, and moreMoscoman Press Creidt Nuphar Blechner
Photo credit: Nuphar Blechner

Learn more about Gather Outdoors and get tickets to the festival here.

If you weren’t able to DJ and produce for a living, do you think you’d still be working in the industry full time? We saw a Twitter exchange about publicity?

Ha, the PR tweet was a joke amongst friends, but i’m super into everything around this industry!

I would do something maybe in management or any other way to help out artists, and of course my daily label work is one of my favorite things.

‘Disco Halal’ has been described in the past as “a very Berlin based label” – can you give us a rundown on how your sound has changed and evolved since moving to Berlin from Tel Aviv?

I reckon that only in Berlin I really found my voice, and thus begun this era of New Tel Aviv wave. Both happened at the same time simultaneously. Disco Halal is a Berlin Label, but its influences are worldwide. There isn’t really a play-by-play of what happened. But in terms of content, it moved from editing remixing other people music to releasing originals and giving people a platform to release their truth.

On a similar note, you’ve also advised that Berliners tend to have a more restricted mindset. But in recent years with artists like yourself, Acid Pauli, Powel, etc, it seems as though the city’s mind has “opened” more toward world sounds and more melodic material. What do you think has led to this change?

Tourism, inwards and outwards. More DJs playing outside of Berlin and more outsiders play in it all became a melting pot, people need to dare more to standout these days (and throughout history for sure).

Why do you think people connect so deeply with your sound? It’s been crazy to see how much you and your brand have grown over the past few years.

I believe people connect to us because its very Mediterranean in its core. It’s like your mother’s cooking, its something you are familiar with or something you want to be familiar with. It comes from the heart and soul of all of us, its a story of unity somehow.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned since launching your own labels [Treisar project and Disco Halal]?

Not to want too much too fast, and everything has its moment. The smart ones know when the moment is right (I’m still working on that point!)

Do you ever feel as though you’ve sabotaged yourself at times in your efforts to release other artists’ music over your own on Disco Halal? Why not?

No, in life you give and get back, and never directly. This label is not my personal playground, it’s made for the music, for the fans and of course for the artists that are helping us to create and develop it.

Who are some artists you’ve signed as of late that are particularly noteworthy, and what makes these artists unique?

I have a personal relationship with all my artists, and I love to hear what they say and what they’re after. No one is after huge success really, and all are after their true artistic selves. That can be annoying as a label manager, but as an artist myself so i can also understand it. Ultimately every person is unique, but only a few standout.

Having lived in two distinct music towns, what are the similarities and differences you’ve noticed in terms of innovation, support for the arts, etc between Berlin and Tel Aviv?

You can’t really compare stuff. Tel Aviv has been about survival, Berlin invented many of the rules of this scene, when I moved I had no idea that things will pan out they way they are so I didn’t really notice too much. I would say that there’s great music from every city, and party wise there are better parties in Israel at this point, because the Berlin club market is over saturated which makes stuff a little bland. That said, the key clubs still hold their own.

How do you determine when the timing is right to release a certain track, or EP? Thinking about how you waited until the right moment (2018) to release your debut EP on Disco Halal.

I go with my gut, to be honest, no magic. I don’t live within patterns so I honestly do whatever i want all the time. It’s not always right, but it’s never quiet.

What inspires you the most creatively these days?

Free time.

You’re about to play the debut Gather Outdoors festival, which has a very specialist/underground lineup. What do you think this says about the US dance scene as a whole?

I love the change. From the first time I played in the US ’till now its been a crazy ride and I’m so happy that there’s place for people like me in the US Scene.

What excites you most about playing Gather?

The amazing line up, friends, and of course visiting the borscht belt for the first time!

Techno Tuesday: An aural biography of Andres Campo across 8 tracks

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Techno Tuesday: An aural biography of Andres Campo across 8 tracksTechno Tuesdays

Andres Campo has charted an elongated path through house and techno. The Spanish performer began booking his first hometown residencies at a ripe sixteen years of age, letting his sound simmer until he reached a global boiling point that saw him earning the support of his genres’ top players. Since breaking into the scene, he’s already been booked at marquee events like Zurich’s Street Parade, Tomorrowland, and more—in addition to helping break in venues like Printworks and becoming a regular at institutions like Watergate, Amnesia, and many more. It’s safe to say Campo is a modern revolutionary.

He just released a brand new EP, Forget, on compatriot Ramiro Lopez and Arjun Vagale’s imprint Odd Recordings—a searing double-header true to Campo’s deep dive into modern techno. The musician’s roots stretch far beyond what he makes, however; so, we sat him down to review a select number of tracks by artists that have played a great influence in his life to date. Campo shows off his expert curatorial sense that clearly began at a young age, digging in his memory bank to surface hidden gems like Piropo’s “Generation,” Alloy Mental’s self titled anthem, and more while explaining how each piece fits into his larger musical puzzle.

Vitalic – La Rock 01

“Well this was the first time I saw a dancefloor jumping like a proper punk concert! I love this track and it’s still kicking today. “

Alloy Mental – Alloy Mental

INTENSE AF!! This track has too much history in my Florida 135 sets, especially at the end of the night. I’ve been playing this since its release in 2005 – it’s such an anthem.

DJ Misjah & DJ Tim – Access

Picture it – me as a young stoned raver in the middle of somewhere happily stabbed by this heavy acid monster sound. Ahh nostalgia…

Kick-Side – Time To Blast (TS Mason Remix)

This was my past, hard house as its best. Nothing can beat this if you are on the dancefloor. I’ve played it tons of times at my residency at Coliseum, jump jump jump!

Piropo – Generation

This one breaks my heart… They called it euro-dance, well this track is so much more than that. It’s one of my favourites from my early years as DJ.

Mackenzie Feat. Jessy – Without You (Arpegia)(Club Mix)

While in Catalonia, Makina was a really strong style in my region (in Aragon). But in Pamplona, Basque country etc, trance was really well known; this track is in the same style as The Age Of Love. So good!

No faces meet dave 2002 – U know what

Well, this one drives me crazy. I’ve played this tons of times; at first I was apprehensive because it’s from my old school rave age, but believe me, nothing drives people as crazy as the break in this; BANGER.

DJ Looney Tune – The Egg

Imagine yourself high as fuck in a dark scary club with a proper sound system and this track wrapping around you; well I’ve been there before, and if hell is something like this, I want to stay there forever.

Andres Campo ‘Forget’ is now out on Odd Recordings. Get it here

Techno Tuesday: navigating the LA Underground, according to the stalwarts behind WORK & 6AM Group

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Techno Tuesday: navigating the LA Underground, according to the stalwarts behind WORK & 6AM GroupTechno Tuesdays

Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.

Throwing events in a saturated market—especially dance music—is risky business. On a large scale, we’ve already begun to see the festival bubble burst with many-an-event folding under lack of resources and ticket scales. Widespread gentrification and stricter, somewhat arbitrary laws work in tangent to shut down nightclubs that were safe havens for the genre and, in general, give promoters far more hoops to jump through when it comes to organizing an event. The result is stale, repetitive bookings due to promoters playing it safe, and often lackluster events.

Marco Sgalbazzini and Jia Wang, on the other hand, embrace risk. Through their companies 6AM Group and Synthetik, the two have quickly built a name for themselves in both the local and global scenes for their left field bookings and events that feel as close in proximity as possible to events one would find across the pond in hotspots like Berlin, London, and beyond. In fact, it’s their willingness to go against the grain that has led to their immense success over the past few years. Their bookings have earned them respect as a brand, while simultaneously putting LA on the map as a destination for proper, no-frills techno. Past events have included SHDW & Obscure Shape, Luke Slater, Rebekah, 999999999, and countless other forward-thinking artists changing the game in their respective arenas.

From the outside looking in, it’s difficult to see how Wang and Sgalbazzini have managed to be so successful. The truth of the matter is they’ve worked tirelessly to grow their brand from several organic, grassroots angles. Collaborations with potential competitors, honed-in social media marketing, and tapping into a wide network of friends and colleagues are never left off the table when it comes to throwing parties and their promotion. Now armed with their very own booking agency, Deviation (created with Andrew Souto), 6AM and Synthetik are already reaching to a level beyond the status quo, and their success is quite inspiring.

These two have quite a few lessons that surely other fledgling promoters can stand to learn. So, we nabbed them for our latest Techno Tuesday edition to dive deep into the mechanics of taking an event-throwing risk that pays off.

Before taking the dance music plunge, what were you doing before? What led to your decision to break into the music industry full time?

Marco: Well… I began working in the dance music industry while I was in college and honestly it was never meant to be a full time thing, and really it still isn’t — I work as the Social Media Marketing Manager for a few companies under the DownBeats umbrella. At some point in college in Chicago I was lucky enough to get an internship at DownBeats, while simultaneously being a very part time in-house promoter at Spybar and some other clubs in the city.

I moved to Los Angeles in Dec of 2015 and when that happened I sincerely planned to leave the promoting behind me, and effectively had. Then I saw an opening as a blogger for the 6AM site and applied, only with the interest of being somewhat involved with the local scene in a new city and keeping busy while searching for another 9-5 job, but never with the intention of doing more.

It wasn’t until October 2016 and a visit to Amsterdam Dance Event that I had somewhat of an epiphany and asked Jia to be more involved with the event side of events at 6AM. Everything sort of snowballed from there. Synthetik MInds, my own brand of events, and everything else I am involved with now came later. With that said, although people think I do the events full time, this is still a part-time thing for me, a passion project if you will, although the dream is of course for this to one day be a full time endeavor.

As Social Media Marketing Manager I run two blogs and a lot of other social media accounts, Yelp pages, mailing campaigns, etc for other companies and that takes a lot of my daytime hours. The rest of what I do, including being Editor of www.6amgroup.com, the WORK, Synthetik Minds and COMPOUND events, the 6AM services, Deviation Agency, etc, is on top of that.

JIA: I got into the electronic music world in Summer of 2006 but mainly just being a spectator and fan. I went to school for accounting and finance so I held jobs working as a financial analyst and eventually as an internal accounting staff for a small IT company when I moved to LA in 2008.

By holding onto that job for 9-years I was able to build 6AM on the side during evenings/weekends and was able to pursue this passion without having money being the root of why I am doing this. I’ve always felt bad for people who pursued this industry full-time without a strong foundation or clear plan to sustain this difficult journey. By the end of 2017, I decided to make the leap fulltime because I could no longer sit at my desk job and focus on any of that boring accounting work. It was a long time coming but the timing was ripe for me to finally make that jump. Let me make this clear, the struggle was (and still is) very real. Every day is a challenge when you don’t have a safety net besides your own conscious decision pushing things through, but so far no regrets whatsoever and I learn something new about life every day ever since making this decision to go all-in.

Give us a rundown of what each of your companies specializes in, and your role within each?

Marco: As I explained, I really only became a part of 6AM at the end of 2015, first as a blogger and then as Content Director for the entire site. As things progressed I became a partner at the company and assumed both roles of Events Director and Content Director, which I still hold to this day. The company runs like a start-up, we all have other jobs or hands in many other pies, if you will, so there’s flexibility on the duties we are responsible for… although I will say that I pretty much oversee the content, social media and event efforts of 6AM.

Synthetik Minds is a brand I started solo in 2017 as an effort to be a bit more involved with the events scene in LA on a personal level. Originally it was meant to be something small, a way for me to collaborate with “smaller” crews in LA that were doing some cool events here and there. I was broke at the time, living off little savings I had brought with me from serving tables in Chicago, and slept on a couch for a year and a half to use all the spare cash I could to begin this project. Honestly, that’s how it began, and it was only due to an unexpected turn of events that Synthetik MInds and 6AM’s WORK events brand began collaborating on bigger bookings and bigger events — it happened the first time for Ø [Phase]’s LA debut event in June of 2017 and it worked so well that we decided to keep going!

COMPOUND is a collaborative effort that sees Synthetik Minds and WORK by 6Am combine with our friends at INCOGNITO and Dirty Epic to throw bigger-scale events with larger production budget and lineups.

Then there’s Deviation Agency, the techno artist agency we launched last summer which Jia and I are a part of with Andrew Souto.

JIA: 6AM specializes in one thing and that is PROMOTIONS. It has been the bread and butter of everything we do and stand for since 2008. Simply put, we promote what we love and what we believe in which is the global electronic music industry. Our website and social media is a resemblance of that purpose and intent which is why we cover a wide range of artists, events, and music locally and globally to give everyone an equal chance of being heard… we really do try our best!

Though we have expanded our services in areas such as social media management and artist visa, at the end of the day I truly believe everything we do here at 6AM aims to promote the music and the industry we are a part of and to shine some positivity behind our brand messaging.

While I have held all positions within the company since day one, today I am truly grateful for the amazing team I have that literally runs 6AM, which allows me to oversee our entire operation between LA and Guam/Asia. As the “Working CEO” I still like to get my hands dirty (you can see me at 7am lugging supplies out from our events) but also understand the role I need to play to keep things intact. Most of my time is spent working “on” the business and not so much “in” the business which my team has a clear understanding of the difference and impact it has for 6AM.

How did your paths cross as promoters, and how have you both made each others’ operations stronger in the process?

Marco: Our paths didn’t really cross as promoters, but me applying to write blog articles for www.6amgroup.com. The promotion aspect of our work together came later when I asked Jia to be involved with WORK’s event bookings, and more in depth just over a year later when Synthetik Minds collaborated with 6AM on our first event together… the Phase one I mentioned earlier.

I would say that we both took our past experiences, mistakes and successful procedures and welded them to create what we have now. Naturally we weren’t completely clueless from the get-go, but we had a lot to learn for our first event together, and still do to this day. I have to say that I really enjoy working with Jia because we complement each other as business partners very well, and our connection extends beyond work to a true friendship. While he really has become my best friend, we are able to keep business separate and to hold each other accountable when it’s time to get things done.

JIA: My event experience working with Marco first stemmed from his involvement with helping out at our events, and after seeing his passion, work ethic, and general operational abilities it was a no-brainer decision when the opportunity presented itself for us to work in a closer dynamic. 6AM, as a company, was going through some very dark times during 2016/2017 that didn’t allow me to take on much financial risk and Marco was able to step in and truly become a event-partner to shoulder the risks involved in doing these events.

I always respect industry peers who put their $$ where their mouth is because this sh*t is hard and not cheap. I think through both of our experiences and our desire to do things as professional as possible we have really elevated the way we plan and execute our events. We hold each other accountable, never make excuses, stay positively stoic (laughs), and make the best of each event whether we win or lose. It is through this mindset and approach we instill onto each other and the team, that our events are starting to truly elevate both from an operational standpoint and attendance.

Marco: Jia is correct, there was a point where in order to make these events happen we truly had to sacrifice a lot. That period in 2016/2017 was tough for 6AM as a company, and was tough on us personally. I lived on a couch for a year and a half to begin to be able to afford even being a part of these events, sacrificing a lot of personal relationships and comfort in the process. I know the same was and still is for Jia and I to this day. I am not sure what idea those on the outside have of promoters like us in LA that do regular events, but it isn’t all glitz and glamour as it can be misunderstood to be.

You guys also seem to be linked with WORK. How does this company come into play, with your operation/bind your two operations together?

Marco: WORK is 6AM’s events brand, while Synthetik Minds is its own company. Essentially I oversee the bookings for both, but at times WORK will collab with other event partners, such as INCOGNITO, and Synthetik Minds will also do events with other partners such as Dirty Epic, or LA Structures. Then there are instances when we all collaborate for bigger night concepts… and that’s how COMPOUND and the soon-to-be-launched Deviation Events came to be.

JIA: As Marco mentioned, WORK is not a company but an event brand that falls under the umbrella of 6AM. In 2014 when I first conceptualized WORK I wanted our industry to realize how much effort (aka WORK) is actually involved in partying and putting together these parties. Everyone needs to put in some sort of “WORK’ in order to reap some form of reward…I don’t care what it is you do in life, nothing happens from doing nothing. People work their faces off to achieve what they want in this life.

The party scene, in general, is looked upon by mainstream society as a bunch of degenerates who want to do nothing but have fun, do drugs, and party. I wanted to promote something very different through our WORK events: if you want to have fun and party then go and WORK FOR IT! Tickets, Drinks, Substances, and just being out is NOT CHEAP at all. Partying is a privilege NOT a right (sorry Beastie Boys) – the moment we start claiming that getting fucked up is a right in society is when we start to see ENTITLEMENT behaviors in our industry or worse, people putting everything on the line to just party with no regards that leads to a dark path I wish no one ever has to go through.

Simply put, WORK is a brand message to the industry. When people attend our events, I want them to feel like they earned it because they hustled all-week and need this moment of escape to rejuvenate so they can continue to push forward whatever it is they are going through in life. When we work with partners, I want this brand to re-assure them that me and my team will WORK HARD to ensure we are the best (or one of the best) partners you will ever work with because we don’t mess around when it comes to getting down to business. We all gotta work hard to make these events happen and everyone will need to do their WORK in order for us to come have a good time during the weekends.

You recently moved into the agency space with Deviation. How did this idea come up, and what steps did you take to get off the ground? Have you learned anything new/interesting about being a booking agent in the process, and has this, in turn, helped your effectiveness as promoters?

Marco: Admittedly, the idea came from Andrew Souto of Dirty Epic. He had already been representing a lot of great artists in the States and saw an opportunity to build an agency and bring us on board. It’s been difficult to adjust to being an agent, but the experience as a promoter does pay off. Our goal is to be transparent as agents, and to work together with promoters and our artists to construct tours that are beneficial to all involved, but that first and foremost elevate local scenes throughout the North American territory, while increasing visibility for both our specific artists and techno in general throughout the States, Canada and Mexico.

As an agent I learned that not all promoters are as professional and easy to work with as I would like, and it has certainly made me think twice about the way I act as a promoter with other agents. Having experience on both sides definitely opened my eyes as to how the whole process works, and it has made me more understanding and patient regardless of the hat I am wearing in the booking process.

JIA: Andrew wanted to take his side-agency business to a new level and feel very honored and happy that he called upon Marco and myself to help him push this into a new direction. This is my first year playing on the agent side of things and I must say that I have so much respect for the work they do, because up until this point I have only been playing on the promoter side of things. This is definitely a big learning curve for me personally because being a (good) agent is really difficult, partly because, as Marco mentioned, not all promoters are as professional and attentive to details as others. I understand this is all part of the process in learning and growing so while it has been frustrating for me personally I know that with time, things will smooth out on its own.

What is your process for curating/booking talent at your shows?

Marco: There is no clear-cut answer to this. First and foremost I try to book artists I think are talented, artists who put out and play music that I respect and that the local Los Angeles scene will enjoy. I have always thought of a promoter as a taste-maker and educator, just like DJs are. Sure, I do book techno legends and big names, both because I respect their artistry as a fan, and because I know they may be in demand, but I also do my best to give space to up-and-coming talent both internationally, in the States and from LA.

We have been debuting a lot of artists at our events over the last year, including a ton of LA quality acts that have impressed us tremendously both through their professionalism and through their sets, whether Live or DJ. Some perfect examples of the latter are Komprezzor from Chicago, JGarrett from Vancouver, as well as Motionen, Mesme’, Tap Newo, Modus and Annika Wolfe from LA. There’s so much talent in this city, it’s crazy! All of these are just examples, and I am sure there are more, but I can tell you they played fantastic sets for us in support of some world-renowned talent, stepping up to the plate fantastically.

This doesn’t mean that I only book international artists I am personally the #1 fan of. Sometimes it’s about recognizing what your market wants and needs, as well as staying ahead of trends and booking artists that are on the come-up and deserve that recognition here in LA.

JIA: Since Marco and I generally have the same taste for Techno, I have given him my full trust in bringing artists to the table for me to review and mutually agree on the booking direction whether they are headliners or local support. Occasionally, I will pitch him options I think will work well and for him to keep an open mind on genres that don’t always resonate to “hard techno,” even though that’s really what we like to book but understand that there are other markets that need to be served and we also do enjoy music outside of the 134BPM floor-to-the-wall bangers (laughs)

I have been very happy with all of our booking selections and with each show, our relationships with artists and their agents grow so many times we will get pitched by them as well or ask to re-book them. As Marco mentioned, there isn’t a clear cut way we do bookings but rather a dynamic of things that get taken into consideration. Buying talent is no easy task, but it’s been amazing to develop personal relationships with artists and to see them wanting to return to play for us time and time again.

Are there any specific goals or milestones you hope to achieve in the next 5 years? 10?

Marco: That’s a tough one, as a lot hinges on what we are allowed to do.

Broadly speaking, I hope electronic music, and specifically techno, house and the more “underground” sounds if you will, can receive broader recognition in the States in the next 5 and 10 years. I know a lot of techno fans want the genre to remain purely underground, but then travel to Europe to attend ADE, Awakenings and other cool overseas festival and venues where techno has not only been clearly been accepted as part of local culture, but permitted to flourish, if not outright supported, thanks to local legislation and initiatives that allow for this to occur.

There is a level of hypocrisy on the matter which isn’t lost on me – I too want techno to remain pure and unadulterated, and I want events to be safe spaces filled with 100% well-behaved crowds. But I do truly believe that we are on the threshold to something bigger for the music we love, and that if we work together, patiently, to educate and improve things, we can find ourselves to be a part of a fantastic local music scene in Los Angeles, and beyond.

I do recognize that local and State restrictions make it hard to accomplish what we want in Los Angeles, and that’s also something that is sometimes not brought into the equation when criticizing the work some promoters (including ourselves) do in the local community. I think there are a lot of great people working their asses off to bring quality music to LA, sacrificing a lot on a personal level despite all the stops and barriers thrown at us by local legislation.

At first it used to trouble me when I saw these efforts become the subject of unjust and unconstructive criticism and personal vilification, rather than supported. Let’s be honest… no one is perfect, including myself and our events, but we do what we do because we absolutely love the music and anyone who thinks otherwise is unfortunately misguided. We are constantly looking at way of improving things, while also providing memorable music experiences to people in this city and sacrificing a lot personally to make these nights happen.

With that said, in the next 5-10 years I hope to be able to improve the way we do events, and to continue to educate our crowd on what it means to be a part of this movement. Naturally, I hope that our events can constantly improve as a result, both from an experiential standpoint as well as for the good they can do for the local community. We have already been taking some good steps with regards to this, including working with local charities that we don’t broadly post about, but the effort can and should only be increased in the years to come.

I also hope to continue to push the ethos of collaboration, and the notion that working together is the only way to improve things, rather than getting lost on social media antics that do nothing but divide our local community. I hope to be able to continue to foster relationships with local officials, promoters, collectives and artists that are married to these same goals and ideals, so that the underground electronic music scene in this country can continue to grow.

Our goal is NOT for events to be bigger, but for events to be better. Our goal is to elevate the experiences we provide and to one day work with the City of Los Angeles itself to underscore the power and beauty of techno and other electronic music genres, as well as the rich musical history of this city. I know it may seem far-fetched as a concept, but I truly believe it’s doable in five years… and later this year I hope you will already see the first stepping stones towards achieving this.

If you asked me whether I believe we could one day have similar events in this country as the Europeans enjoy overseas my answer is yes. I do believe it’s possible. I do believe it will take a lot of work, and that we must find our own identity through this process, but if we are just talking about the scale, appreciation and growth of this culture, this phenomenon that was born in this country then yes, not only does it deserve to grow, but it can… and if we put our petty differences and politics aside, I think it will.

JIA: For 6AM, our long term goal is to champion the Electronic Music industry meaning we are making a positive impact on our scene and for the people (both industry pros/artists and fans) using MUSIC and Event Experience as the medium to motivate and inspire everyone that we come across. How do we do this one might ask? Marco pretty much answered it in full detail above with respect to events, and with the ever-growing platform that is 6AM, we hope to be able to use our channel to elevate everyone in our industry who is willing to put in the work.

For me personally, I want 6AM to be at a point where we are able to fully employ people. As much as we started this as a hobby-passion, there are people on my team who have fully dedicated their lives to this and I have always felt a sense of responsibility to not just make this my full-time thing but a full-time thing for my entire team. We are almost 1/2 way there and I think within the next 5-10 years we should be able to manifest this into reality.

Quoting my favorite hip-hop artist at the moment, J.Cole (slightly edited for appropriation)
“What good is the bread if my homies are broke?
What good is first class if my homies can’t sit?
That’s my next mission, that’s why I can’t quit”

(laughs) Yep I just quoted a hip-hop lyric on Dancing Astronaut!

Can you explain why collaborations between promoters are so vital in our current events sphere, especially when it comes to say, booking ‘riskier’ talent?

Marco: (laughs) I have been hammering at this for a long, long time. Working together is the only way to improve things on a narrow and broader scale. We are never going to change the way the “outsiders” view techno and electronic music unless we are united. We are never going to be able to foster a healthy nightlife scene for Los Angeles unless we are united.

I didn’t used to always thing this way, and in the past I did hold an “us versus them” theory with regards to the “underground versus the mainstream,” but with my years of experience in this field I have learned that that viewpoint was narrow-minded and wrong. It may seem “cool” at first but does nothing to actually build and improve any local scene. In fact, it hinders progress.

Simply put: I love this music and want to share the feelings I experience on the dance floor to countless more. That’s why we do what we do. If you feel the same and are on board then let’s work together! If you feel only a select few/several hundred deserve to be introduced to techno in Los Angeles and the rest shouldn’t, then we can agree to disagree and we should go our own ways… no harm, no foul!

JIA: Before I got into the music industry, team sports, basketball in particular, were my entire life, so working together and collaboration is ingrained in my soul. I prefer to work with others than do it solo… it’s why 6AM over the past 11 years has ALWAYS had more than 3-4 people involved at any given moment because I knew since Day 1 that I wasn’t gonna be able to do this alone just like how no one wins basketball games playing 1 vs. 5

T.E.A.M. –> Together Everyone Achieves MORE – end of ball game. The same applies to why we formed Compound, Deviation, my no-brainer decision to work with Incognito, Synthetik Minds, Dirty Epic and Madhouse, and my pursuit to always consider new faces into 6AM!

Collaboration and partnership is what’s going to take the ENTIRE industry to the next level. Anyone who argues against this notion will not make it in the long run.

This leads into your COMPOUND events. Can you give readers who aren’t in the know a rundown of these events, and the process behind organizing them and finding good partners to work with?

Marco: We decided to do COMPOUND as a direct result of the above belief on the importance of collaboration. The partners behind COMPOUND work together on other partnership events throughout the year, but we realized that to do something better and bigger we had to work together, to pool all our experiences, know-how and skills into organizing these events.

To answer your question, the partners for COMPOUND are always the same. We adopt a “divide-and-conquer” approach to what it takes to putting these events together, recognizing that each of the partners involved may have better skill sets in certain fields, as well as different connections with vendors, agents, etc to put these events together.

That’s what COMPOUND is: getting together for the love of techno, to build something bigger and better so that we can spread this message and this music to more people.

JIA: This partnership formed organically over the years through many levels of collaborations in the past. Whenever you bring in more than a few cooks into the kitchen there needs to be an assessment on personality and working style. We focus on our strengths, flush out any dramas immediately, while constantly remind each other WHY we are doing this. Open communication is the key in all partnerships and I think this is one area we are constantly improving on to ensure each event is at the level we want to produce. COMPOUND has been an amazing experience for me personally, and one of the projects I am most excited to push forward in the next 2-3 years!

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as promoters?

Marco: To be honest, it’s the same challenge any business deals with… scaling! Throwing a 100-300 capacity event is hard as it is, but when those numbers begin multiplying so does the work required, the attention to detail, and much more. It hasn’t been easy to deal with larger nights, and at times we could do better, but I do believe we have a very, very solid team that works very hard to improve our performances event after event.

I think at times the understanding of what it takes to throw some of these bigger events is lost on some people. As a promoter, I would love to be everywhere during one of my events, able to see everything and resolve any hiccups, and to be able to control every single attendee to ensure perfect behavior. It’s unfortunately impossible, and it’s unfortunately unviable to adopt a Berghain-type door policy for what we do. I have been to ADE and encountered shitty crowd behavior, same with many of other European countries including the UK, Italy, France and yes, even Germany. It happens and as events get bigger, the chance of this happening does increase and it can be a struggle for promoters like us whose hearts sink the moment we hear one attendee had a bad experience out of hundreds on the dance floor.

All I can say is that I encourage anyone that comes to our events to work WITH us to improve things. Please do alert us about anything that needs resolution and I promise I will personally do my best to take care of it right there and then, and the same goes for the rest of our staff.

Here is an example: we have been cracking down on camera flash use, as it’s an obvious disturbance in a dark music event setting. Rather than writing a tweet complaining about someone using a flash without even directing the tweet at myself or any of our event accounts, why not send us a Direct Message about what is going on, or better yet contact one of us in person? That will actually enable us to respond back, locate the issue and resolve it. Trust me… not only have I already been doing so, finding random tweets and contacting the person to assist, but there is nothing I would rather do at one of my own nights than to do everything I can to ensure that attendees have a great experience.

So yeah, scaling is a challenge but it is especially so when Jia and I really care about making every night as smooth as possible for all attendees!

JIA: Completely agree with Marco’s sentiments and I would go on to add that maintaining a healthy relationship with some of our biggest supporters and industry peers is one I find challenging. Everyone who knows me and goes to our events knows the “Jia face” and it’s not that I am not happy or having fun but the stress/anxiety that comes with throwing the shows we do makes it difficult for me to actively engage and, sometimes, appreciate the very people who make all of this possible…OUR ATTENDEES.

With a hundred things happening at once, sometimes I feel bad that I didn’t even take one or two seconds to say hello, even though I was very busy at the time. Maybe I am overthinking this a bit, but it’s something I always reflect on when everything is over and I’m sitting quietly in my room. I try to make a conscious effort to thank the team as well as the key supporters who are always bringing in good people and good vibes that make our event successful.

As a promoter, we’re never going to make everyone happy so I try to not focus too much on the negativity (if any) and only give my attention to the positive. That is not to say that if something negative happens to one of our event attendees (knocks on wood), we don’t address that situation and turn the other cheek! We definitely do handle it as professionally as possible so just wanted to make this part clear!

On that note, what are some common mistakes that beginner promoters should avoid when throwing their own parties?

JIA: Managing expectations… I think for the most part, every new promoter comes in with an upbeat and “glass-half-full” mentality, which is GREAT don’t get me wrong, but I think too many new promoters (including myself in the early days) have this unrealistic expectation for their events just because they see other parties popping off.

No two events are the same: even if you book the EXACT same lineup as another busy party it may not yield the same results for your own.

Most promoters start doing events with one intent and that is so they can book themselves to play, and while that is OK to do, I want to warn people to not let their own ego inflate the purpose of why they’re doing events. Don’t make this only about YOU, it shouldn’t be… ever!

Having good sound is key, never skimp on putting extra $$ on sound. It makes or breaks an event and one of the most common rookie mistakes we see and yes, I have made that mistake in the past

One of the best advice that was ever given to me was from Craig Pettigrew (BPM Festival) in what I like to call the “Max capacity rule”. Example, if you know you can only bring 100 people to your party, book a venue that only holds 80, if you know you can only bring 50 people then book a venue that only holds 40. You want your first event to build energy and the quickest way you’re able to do that is to pack the place out regardless if 1,000 people show up or 100 people show up, the goal is to build steam! I believe this was the approach he did with BPM where it started as a boutique festival that is now a global brand in the festival circuit.

I never really thanked him personally for that one advice so doing it now “THANK YOU CRAIG! Hope to see you around soon!”

Marco: Jia covered some very good points. One of the key mistakes I made early in my “career” in this industry, back in Chicago, was in partnering with the wrong people. Having a good partner that you can trust, rely on and with whom you can work together well is extremely important.

You will not always get along, but the way you resolve problems and conflicts will give you an idea of whether the partnership can and will work. I have seen a lot of shady things in this industry and I am owed a lot of money that was effectively stolen from me, but perhaps the worst thing I have observed is a partner who puts their personal agenda above that of the party, the event brand, the company, or what have you.

It happens often in business, and in this industry too, that a business partner is someone in your family, a best friend, a boyfriend/girlfriend or even your spouse, and while that can be fantastic, it can also be easy to lose sight of the company’s good in favor of one’s own personal agenda.

No matter what you do, strive to keep personal issues and company/business issues separate. That leads me to bring up social media: If you’re an event promoter, a DJ, a producer, a venue owner, or hold any position of relevance in this industry, burning bridges on social media or posting self-inflammatory content can be a surefire way to say goodbye to your career. Think before you type.

You guys have your web promotion game on lock, actively posting ads in group in creative and engaging ways. Can you pass on some of your tips & tricks for effective promotion campaigns online, and where you see online advertising moving to in the future with the current changes in algorithms, etc in social networks?

Marco: (laughs) Well people say we promote too much! All we do is try to find creative ways to promote our events, rather than just post a flyer and lineup and ticket link over and over. That’s why I post meme, funny stuff, and tie it back to the events we do. We use a mailing list that is ONLY comprised of e-mails from people who have bought a ticket from us in the past, or entered a ticket giveaway – that is not mass promotion in my eyes, but targeted promotion, letting past attendees know of forthcoming events.

I feel that some people have an “adverse” reaction to social media and promotion on it. They think it’s “not cool” or “not underground,” but we live in 2019 and social media is just a simple tool that can be effective if you understand it and use it well. It’s not complicated at all, it’s all about putting out smart content and understanding what each social network’s algorithm is focusing on, and using that to your advantage.

This is Los Angeles, a city of over 4 million people alone… and that is without counting people in nearby counties. Do the math!

I have seen people criticize the size of a 500 capacity techno show as too big or over-promoted, but how miniscule is that number really? It’s tiny! It’s nothing.. it’s really a drop in the ocean. It makes no sense to me.

JIA: (laughs) Couldn’t agree more, I like to add in the fact, or reminder from above, that 6AM is a PROMOTIONS company. I promote what I love and believe in with no shame whatsoever and I do find it a bit hypocritical that the very people who are complaining about social media are using SOCIAL MEDIA to complain…. they should just complain about it by writing on a piece of paper or brick wall! (laughs) Ok I kid but you get the point. Complaining about something that is inevitable instead of finding solutions is a big epidemic within our industry.

But to answer your question, content is king. Whether it’s memes, quotes, or music; content drives everything. With approach in promotions, people nowadays don’t like to be sold to, so finding a balance between organic promos and paid-advertising is crucial. We only do paid ads to a very targeted audience who we know WILL APPRECIATE the event info popping up as a reminder to catch their favorite techno acts when they are in town. With the advancement in targeting and segmenting, the future of promotions and ads are only niching down deeper into the rabbit hole. Those who understand their audience persona are the ones that are going to be able to get their message and content across with a bigger impact.

For those who want to go the organic route, build an AUTHENTIC COMMUNITY around your brand and speak your truth and be real as fuck. It’s working for us and have worked for others as well, don’t be scared to be who you are online and offline!

Now let’s think happy thoughts – what are some of your favorite moments you’ve seen together as a team? Who’s thrown down some particularly memorable sets in the past few years?

Marco: Oh wow… too many to count. Now I know how it feels when I ask similar questions to other artists and promoters (laughs).

Some memorable moments include our first show together with Ø [Phase], the first time Speedy J played for us was insane… what a crazy night, as were the first COMPOUND with Perc/Headless Horseman as well as subsequent ones with DVS1/Terrence Fixmer and Stroboscopic Artefacts. But now that I think about all the nights we shared there were soooo many other great ones, like FJAAK and Etapp Kyle, 999999999’s unexpected madness, the Synthetik Minds 2 year anniversary with the one and only Luke Slater… I could go on and on.

JIA: We do Electric Island Festival (EIF) in Guam each year since 2013 more on the mainstream side, and being able to launch and operate a 3-4K event for 6 consecutive years is something I do not take for granted. The feeling of accomplishing that is one of my favorite moments with the team. Though not all of the LA team goes to Guam for EIF, most of them have experienced working as part of that team. It is through that festival, did we become the company we are today. All of our pains, gains, and learning experience stems from this single festival 6,000 miles away from our LA HQ.

Seeing Marco’s Synthetik Minds brand take off to where it is now has been quite the ride and seeing some of his struggles along the way has been eye-opening for sure. The first event we did together with Ø [Phase] is what set the tone for where we are today with respect to our LA events

Launching our first COMPOUND and packing out a warehouse via Speedy J are two events that will remain in a special place in my heart. These two events were the gateway for us to really believe in ourselves to take things to the next level.

What’s next for 6AM/Synthetik Minds?

Marco: We have some great nights coming up including our debut Deviation Events night in May with a stacked lineup, as well as some dope acts rolling through LA, some for the first time.

I will disclose some for those who took the time to read through this entire interview (thank you!): SHDW & Obscure Shape’s LA debut, Oscar Mulero, Randomer & Clouds as Headstrong for the first time in the States, a 4 hour DJ Pierre acid set, a MORD showcase, UVB and Manni Dee, the return of Insolate and SNTS… and that’s just the confirmed ones for the moment.

We hope you’re ready LA, we can’t wait to keep improving these nights while bringing artists we truly love to a city we feel deserves all of this… and more!

But beyond the names, I want to sit down and work hard with our team on an effective plan to elevate the experiences these nights provide. We have some ideas already and it’s time to set them in motion!

JIA: Asides from producing events under WORK, Compound, Deviation, and EIF in Guam as well as continuing our quest to champion the industry, I feel like the next step for 6AM particularly is the brand message we want to continue hacking away towards this scene. People are putting a great deal of emphasis on pursuing their life passion and doing whatever it takes to get there so we like to serve as a medium that continuously supports the aspiration of ALL industry people (artists and professionals).

I don’t think anyone is fully taking that step to act as a BIG BROTHER/Coach/Mentor for the community and all I want is to do whatever we can to help ease the anxiety, stress, and mental strain that comes along with pursuing this industry and going through their own journey. I want to use 6AM’s platform and messaging to bring self-awareness so that everyone who is dedicating their life towards this path can find passion, purpose, and intent in all that they do. This is what I am most excited about what’s next for 6AM!

Techno Tuesday: Better Lost Than Stupid on collective innovation

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Techno Tuesday: Better Lost Than Stupid on collective innovationTechno Tuesdays

Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.

Last week, Dancing Astronaut debuted the vocal version of Better Lost Than Stupid’s electronica-inspired, “Inside.” The newly branded “supergroup” comprised of Davide Squillace, Martin Buttrich, and Matthias Tanzmann was conceived half a decade ago, and have since began operating at full capacity in the studio. An album is officially on its way, and prior to its release, we’ve seen the quirky, yet raunchy “Alto,” “Dynamite,” and the aforementioned “Inside” emerge as three distinctive singles that point to a diverse body of work that stretches beyond the members’ comfort zones.

Better Lost Than Stupid is an exploratory project, drawing upon a variety of musical influences that David, Martin, and Matthias have admired for years that might not fit in with their traditional molds of house and tech. The result of this new mindset is music that is accessible to a whole new audience outside of traditional dance music; yet, the group’s aesthetic is still adaptable to a club setting if performed correctly. To that end, the outfit are currently roadtesting new approaches to create a well-oiled live set that they’ll be taking on tour with them throughout the rest of 2019. Their chemistry together has already been proven numerous times since their formation, amplifying the anticipation for what Better Lost Than Stupid will have up its sleeve come album release time. To dig a bit deeper into their inspirations and MO, we invited this burgeoning supergroup onto Techno Tuesday for a chat.

Techno Tuesday: Better Lost Than Stupid on collective innovationBetter Lost Than Stupid Credit Andre Pattenden 2

Credit: Andre Pattenden

What makes you three good partners in the studio? Describe your chemistry.
First of all, we would like to triple mark how close we are as friends. Even being three very different people, this gives us the peace of mind of being together in a musical and creative environment without being stressed about performance or good behaviour. Things develop naturally. In the end it comes down to us three being children playing with music.

How does a studio session go for you three, given that’s quite a few producers in one room? Are you always together when writing tracks? What do each of you bring to the table during the writing process?
We don’t really have a fixed structure in our work flow. Martin is the one at the technical control more than the other two of us. When it comes to writing music, it is often a bit of trial and error. And sometimes we bring in some melodies or beats from our individual studios, so they can be tweaked into something BLTS could use.

Tell us about how “Inside” came together; how you found the vocalist, how the track was produced + with what gear, and inspirations behind this track in particular.
Theo apart from being a lovely person has been a great resource in finishing the track. We wrote this track quite a while ago. It was originally recorded at Martin’s studio in Hannover. We loved the melody and building up of the track, but we wanted vocals on top. We met up with Theo for a song writing session in London last year. He laid over some stuff and we instantly fell in love with it. Martin made the track even more beautiful with a few arrangement twists here and there and with a fantastic mixdown.

Is there a certain aesthetic that has been defined in making your album? Which specific “bands and other directions” have inspired your songs? For example, ‘Inside’ almost gives us 2000s indie disco/80s synth pop vibes
Obviously, all the music we have listened to and played in our lives have had a strong influence. But we didn’t have a specific band or musical style in mind. In fact, when we worked on the album we kicked out a few ideas because we felt like they sounded too much like this or that band. We took a lot of motivation out of the fact that we don’t have to think about where our music will have to fit in. This was an exciting reset after being around for quite some years. With Better Lost Than Stupid we are able to make music that is independent from our individual careers.

Can you give us a bit more detail into what your live show will look like when you go on tour? Any instruments involved?
We are in the process of creating how we will play the show. We have few options laid down from the classic old school set up with lots of instruments on the stage to maybe a bit more modern with just a bit of selected gear that does the job on stage. Or maybe playing some backing tracks and modulating them live. There are many options that we’re working on at the moment…

How do you/how will you set yourselves apart from other live electronic acts that are currently dominating the market? What makes you different as a collective?
In short, we’ve deliberately tried to be different. We’re aiming to bring an energy, and an enthusiasm, and… Well, basically, to just put the fun back into techno. After all, we’re three distinct characters that complement each other well, and our shows are going to reflect that dynamic – we’re very excited.

You’ve stated that it’s very important for you guys to go in a different direction than you’ve ever gone before; what led to your desire to go completely outside the box together rather than make a house & techno group?
We were trying to go beyond our individual careers and create something we haven’t done before. And we enjoyed it a lot. There were no boundaries when we worked on the music, no techno police saying this is cool or not. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to be in a techno boy band.

Has the way you three have created together affected the way you produce/perform as individual acts? How so?
Collaborations are always influential. When you work with other artists you are usually forced to break out of your creative routines. This will let you come back to your own studio or gigs with new ideas and inspiration.

Any final comments you’d like your fans + readers to know about the project, future goals, etc?
We are excited to have our debut album out later this year. Follow us on Spotify so you don’t miss it. And hopefully you can make it to one of our upcoming shows.

Techno Tuesday: Enzo Siragusa dives into the FUSE philosophy

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Techno Tuesday: Enzo Siragusa dives into the FUSE philosophyTechno Tuesdays

Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.

Fuse began as a humble afterhours party thrown by two house-loving cousins who’d been raving since their teenage years. When something is born out of love, it often flourishes, and such is the case with this—and such is the case with this gathering put on by Enzo Siragusa and Tony Cannatella. Their infectious energy, keen ear for quality deep and minimal house records, and a staunch loyalty to their brand regardless of what was trendy or not drew multitudes to East London every Sunday to partake in what would soon become a clubbing institution. Over the years they took on some new family members as well; Seb Zito and Archie Hamilton, for example, found their way into the fold during Fuse’s early years and have since been able to launch their own hugely successful careers that stretch beyond a mere residency.

The series has just passed its tenth birthday—a milestone, given a tough and saturated clubbing climate. What better way to celebrate than expanding its wings? Fuse will be hopping across the pond beginning February 8, where the brand will be kicking off its debut US tour in Brooklyn via Teksupport, a New York underground staple. Enzo, Archie and Seb will provide a night full of high caliber house music nestled in a warehouse for a particularly classic feel. We were able to snag the aforementioned co-founder of Fuse for a quick chat ahead of the touchdown, where we dug into his inspirations, the story of Fuse, and what the brand has in store for its next decade.

Grab tickets to Fuse’s Brooklyn appearance here


Do you feel the EDM bubble has popped in America? How have you seen the scene here evolve, and which US cities are your favorites to play?
I haven’t been aware of the EDM bubble to be honest. It’s not on my radar because it’s not part of the scene I’ve been in. For me, the US has always been the birth place and hub to house music which massively influenced me from the mid 90s. I was really into Masters at Work, and I’d always be digging through the ‘US imports’ section in my local record shop. Hip-E, Halo and Naked Music, DJs like Miguel Migs. I’ve always found a time and a place to play that music, and that’s what America is for me, not EDM. Choosing a favourite city to play in is hard! Miami always seems to go off, and the FUSE sound has really travelled well over there, perhaps Miami enjoy the bassier side of things! Flash in DC I always enjoy, and there are some really cool in parties going on in LA too. I really can’t wait for our FUSE10 tour to start this weekend.

You started your brand out of love for the rave culture you grew up in. What aspects have stayed the same over the years, and which aspects have you seen change (for better or for worse)?
When I started out clubbing it was rawer. The biggest shift I felt is when music became digital. It became easier to access and therefore quite consumable, driven by money and business. That said it’s not a negative thing, it’s exposed our music the masses and got new generations involved. I feel like we have seen around four generations of clubbers come and go at FUSE. The digital world made things com, go and come back round again.

Of course, a venue needs a good, tuned-up sound system and often could do without overly flashy lights when it comes to throwing a party like Fuse. What other aspects tie into making an environment perfect for a rave? Does layout play huge role, programming, etc? Describe a perfect party outside your own and what made it so.
At FUSE we cultivated a community of clubbers out of a group of core residents, and people then started to come because they wanted to hear what we were playing, week in week out. If you add in the right sound system, not queuing forever to get in, with a friendly reception from the door staff and security which makes you feel instantly welcome, there are so many little details. We strive to provide a certain experience, so the venue and execution of the event need to be at a certain operational level. It has to be an equal balance of all those things, those fine details help make the vibe of the party. As your party gets bigger you have to remember those core values and keep them all in place to keep the people coming back.

How do you organize your music/record bag when it comes to playing sets? For example, some djs have folders w/ moods marked down, some go in cold turkey + randomly, etc.
I have more of a loose system that tends revolve around the mood of the people I am playing in front of. I tune into the energy and vibe and the room and cater to that. A lot of it is set around what me and the FUSE guys have been making also.

What have been some of your favorite events to play over the past year, and why?
Our 10th birthday in November going back to our original home of 93 Feet East after 6 years of absence was so emotionally charged. I had people coming up to me crying saying how great it was to be back in the club with us, and that really touched me. Many of whom were people from our original community that I hadn’t seen for many years.
Sonus Festival in Croatia was also phenomenal. We did our own Saturday night FUSE party I don’t think anyone expected 3000 people to turn up!
I always enjoy playing Gottwood Festival in Wales, they put a lot of attention to detail into their parties and I’ll be playing a Drum n Bass set this year which was really cool of them to let me do.

Every DJ has at least one bad night in their careers. How do you/how did you cope when it happens/happened to you, and did you learn anything from the experience?
You have to take the rough with the smooth and the bad nights help you appreciate the good ones. You have to learn that you can’t judge, nor take things personally as there are far too many factors into why a night hasn’t quite gone your way. It’s all part of the journey isn’t it.

Tell us about the evolution of your music taste & what you’ve liked spinning in sets over the years, and which labels/artists you’re most excited about at this moment.
I have always played a melting pot of music that has inspired London. Deep House, Minimal, DnB, Jungle, House, rooted by warm basslines and big moments. I guess what you’d expect from someone who has been into raving for so long and been influenced by different parties. Your sound evolves to different time periods in your life. Doing a weekly party at FUSE had a huge impact anf we used to play a lot slower in the early days as minimal scene was really kicking off. As the party evolved and got bigger you play to bigger rooms and adjust again. As I got older and had a family, I started playing a bit deeper as I was in more of a reflective mood.

Artists that are exciting me right now are Burnski and his Constant Sound label which is pushing a more garage and dnb sound that resonates with me. East End Dubs is doing some great things, he is a wizard in the studio. Adam Shelton is doing a lot for the UK up in Birmingham. I feel there is quite a big revival with the bass / breakbeat sound. People are re discovering our past and it’s great to see.

As someone who’s been doing this longer than average, how do you “keep the spark alive” and find new ways to feel refreshed and inspired while remaining relevant enough to make a living?
I have applied myself to many more aspects of this business than just DJing and producing, and it’s kept me inspired too because I am forever learning and growing. It’s like a rabbit hole, keep digging and you find interesting things. From running and growing an event brand, to overseeing the FUSE and Infuse label offshoots. Also having an amazing group of pals like the FUSE boys, with such a shared strong passion for raving and music helps. We all have our own labels, and give each other advice, and the community aspect there is really inspiring.

You’re huge on meditation + healthy eating as a way to find balance and retain sanity while on the road. Are there any other key parts of your pre-show ritual that you must involve these days? Pro-tips for avoiding getting sick?
I meditate when I go on tour because I find it helps me with dealing with different time zones and gives me a quick rest and reset before playing again. Food wise I try to be mindful, but I love my food, I’m Italian so I’d say I’m more wholesome than healthy. I’m no spring chicken anymore, and so I have to make better decisions when on the road firstly with picking after parties wisely! Rest is essential and cutting back on alcohol really helps.

What is your biggest fear as an artist?
I don’t have any fears within the business, the only concerns are missing out on the family life. A heavy-duty touring schedule leads to your missing out some key moments of your children’s lives, and that is difficult.

Finally, the usual – what’s coming up for you throughout the rest of 2019?
As well as the upcoming FUSE10 USA dates, we have events at SXM Festival, Fabric London, Off Week Festival in Barcelona, Hoppetosse in Berlin. Rich Nxt’s Hard To Be EP is out on FUSE this month, and Seb Zito’s has an EP on the way in March. I also have a big project coming on the FUSE label in April soon to be revealed!

Techno Tuesdays: La Fleur on the necessity of being true to oneself

This post was originally published on this site

Techno Tuesdays: La Fleur on the necessity of being true to oneselfTechno Tuesdays

Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.

Destiny can’t be avoided, and La Fleur‘s was to be in dance music. In a moment of clarity during a sabbatical from her pharmacy job, the Swedish export realized her life’s calling was to be on the dance-floor making people move ecstatically along with the music she purveys. Once realizing this was where she meant to be, everything fell into place. Her seminal Flowerhead EP kicked off her label, Power Plant, off on a strong note, and she solidified her stance as a high caliber DJ with a long-term residency at celebrated Berlin club, Watergate.

Years of dedication to her craft have culminated in steep growth in recent times. Since 2017, the burgeoning artist has been signed as a remixer for Damian Lazarus and the Ancient Moons, made her Essential Mix debut, and played alongside Laurent Garnier. One can’t forget her anthemic collaboration with SashaFörbindelse (download it here) of course; not many producers can say they’ve returned to Last Night On Earth with a cosign from the label owner himself. La Fleur is certainly looking at more good on the horizon.  We had the chance to sit with La Fleur right before the holidays set in to talk to her about profound connection with music, Berlin life, working with Sasha, and what’s ahead.

Techno Tuesdays: La Fleur on the necessity of being true to oneselfPatricebrylla Lafleur 2429 Sw Highres

Photo Credit: Patryce Brylla

You’ve been living in Berlin for around a decade or so, correct? How has the scene there changed or stayed the same?

Yes, time flies when you’re having fun! The scene definitely has changed a lot during the 12 years I’ve been in Berlin. When I arrived in 2007 the minimal techno scene was still very strong and that was what most were playing in the clubs. Then in time with more and more tourists coming to the city, things have changed. I would put this down to a few factors including the wave of ‘housier’ sounds around 2011, more people moving to the city, many of whom arriving to pursue a musical dream. All these things have contributed to the city becoming more varied sound-wise I would say. There are so many clubs in Berlin now, and there are a lot of them which I haven’t had the chance to visit yet. The scene has become bigger and more varied I would say.

Would you consider living in a city other than Berlin with a strong club scene, such as Buenos Aires, Barcelona, London, etc? Or, is Berlin the best match for your personality and music?

I’d definitely consider this — Barcelona and London are both cities I’ve thought about living in. I want to feel in love with and be inspired by the city in live in, which was part of the reason I moved to Berlin. The choice of city doesn’t necessarily have to do with the music scene there. I come from Sweden, and lived in Stockholm before I moved to Berlin. A lot of good music is coming from Sweden, but the scene is not big. I am actually thinking about moving back to Sweden, although the scene isn’t as big as the cities you mentioned, I still would feel inspired there, and that’s the most important for me.

We’ve heard that bad music makes you feel sick – can you expand on this? What makes a song “bad” for you? Do you get nauseous when you hear it? And, does this extra sense help your own music in a way, ie you get the sick feeling if you feel your own production is subpar?

I am very sensitive to sounds and I feel a lot when it comes to music. I wouldn’t necessarily define it as bad music, just music that maybe I don’t fancy or don’t connect to it. First of all, it’s hard for me to work to music (unless I’m the one playing it in a DJ set of course, haha) because I have trouble focusing on the other tasks at hand, as it’s always calling my attention.

I have this very strong memory when I was playing an Open Air a few years ago. There was this certain style of house and techno that was really popular at the time, which I could enjoy when other DJs were playing it. I decided to buy a few of those tracks and play them out to try them in my sets. Although the crowd enjoyed them, I didn’t feel good playing them as I wasn’t staying true to myself and that never feels good. Afterwards hearing those tracks gave me this feeling of illness in my body. It might sound dramatic, but I think it’s just a normal reaction to when we do things that aren’t true to us – both creatively and in life generally.

So maybe it’s not the music itself, but the experience of not believing in yourself and backing your own instinct – whether it be a few tunes at an Open Air or doing things that compromise who you are and harm your creative soul.

I am also very sensitive when music I don’t like is played in confined spaces like a shop or taxi. It makes me uncomfortable and I need to leave the store or ask the drive to turn it off.

Music has always been a big part of my life and for as long as I can remember, I have always connected a lot of feelings to music. When I love a track, I want to play it on repeat a million times. Music gets underneath my skin mostly in a good way. That’s why I started recording mixtapes for my friends, why I sat next to the stereo and chose the music at house parties and why later on, I wanted to become a DJ, so I could choose the music I like.

Prior to making house/techno, you played the flute and the piano. Do you feel your classical training has influenced the type of dance music you’re into, or your methodology? How so, if so?

Yes, I think part of it, playing melodic and melodies on the piano and flute. I really appreciate and dig good basslines and nice synth lines in productions. I think it also comes from my many dance classes in classical ballet, the softness and the flow in the music and dance, but still with a lot of power. So yes, definitely it somehow has shaped my taste, at least the love of a four-to-the-floor beat. I love to dance, and when I discovered dance music, I knew it would be special to me.

You’ve been working really hard on developing and growing your label Power Plant over the years. What are some of the proudest accomplishments you’ve seen for your brand?

First of all, I am proud of starting the label in the first place although most of my colleagues recommended me not to, due to all the work I’d need to put in for no return. But that didn’t put me off, I wasn’t afraid of hard work and wasn’t going to do the label to earn money, rather I wanted it solely to have the creative freedom and a breeding ground for different creative projects I wanted to pursue.

The first EP Flowerhead was a key moment! I really liked the tracks for that first vinyl-only release and since no other label were interested in releasing them, I decided it was a good time for me to start my own label. The amazing artworks I secured for the cover slicks is something that has a lot of meaning to me. They were done by painters and illustrators such as Olaf Hajek, Hans Arnold and Dan Hillier. Another special moment was when I helped curate and exhibit Hans Arnold’s work at a gallery in Stockholm as part of the release party. And of course, the fashion capsule collection Power Plant Elements. Now I’m hoping to start a new era for the label in 2019, with a fresh look and focus.

Outside of music, you also help in fashion design for your Power Plant Elements capsules, and you’re raising your daughter! How do you balance family life with all of your different work projects? Any tips for time management to others who might be in similar positions?

I love my work and it is a big part of my life, so I think that makes it easier. Becoming a mother, I wanted in a way, to work even harder for her and for her future. I would recommend you to be organised, ask for help when you need it and build a team around you for support. I have big support from my partner, without him I wouldn’t been able to do it like I do, so I am very thankful for that. Also, to be able to take time off and spend it with your loved ones is the most important thing and will keep you sane.

You’re just coming off a collaboration with Sasha; a seemingly natural path based off your past release on Last Night On Earth. What led you two to work together initially, and how did the collaboration manifest itself?

Back in 2014 I saw that Sasha was supporting my music a lot and it made me very happy as I always viewed him as an iconic artist with very good taste haha. I reached out to him to ask if he would be interested in an EP from me on his newly launched label LNOE and from that came his suggestion we do a collaboration together. So, we started the collaborate, but since it took quite some time, I first released my Orbit EP in 2015. And finally, now life and music has aligned and we could finish the Förbindelse track. It was the first of quite a few tracks sent back and forth that really felt it had something in it for the both of us, and we finished it pretty quickly. Förbindelse” means “connection” in Swedish.

Outside your own label and Last Night On Earth, what other labels are really checking your boxes musically right now?

There are a lot of good labels out there, for me Kompakt always releases good quality music and Crosstown Rebels always delivers as I think Damian has a very good ear. Other interesting labels that I always keep an eye on coming from Sweden are Aniara Recording, BOSS musik, Studio Barnhus and UFO Recordings.

Also, which new artists are you feeling excited about at the moment and why?

Justin Massei and Johanna Knutsson are artists that well deserve attention for being hard working, creative and offering something a bit extra.

Finally, the usual: what’s on the horizon for La Fleur?

I’m super excited to present a new release on my Power Plant label after a little break in 2018 from releasing music on the imprint. I have an original EP of my own work coming in February. I have a remix for Damian Lazarus on Crosstown Rebels coming out, as well as a single on Kompakt in Spring. Next year looks super exciting already, so I’m looking forward to what the future brings.

 

 

Techno Tuesday: Namito on growing up and ‘Letting Go’

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Techno Tuesday: Namito on growing up and ‘Letting Go’Techno Tuesdays

Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.

Namito is a humble success story. The artist went through a lot in his youth; an Iran torn by a coup and general warfare led to fleeing to Germany as a child, where he proceeded to watch the tumultuous end to the Soviet Union unfold right before his eyes.

One thing remained constant to the young creative, though, and that thing was art. Dance music in particular was a guiding force in his life, and by 1992, Namito was on his way toward making it into a career. He’s since become a regular at some of the world’s most treasured clubs, including Tresor, Fabric, and more, while also wearing the hat of label owner to help cultivate the next generation of underground greats. Success aside, Namito has never been one to brag about his work or talk big on social media. Instead, the reserved talent keeps his head down in the studio, focused solely on evolving himself and being the best musician he could possibly be. This is the mark of a true creative.

His endeavors eventually led him to embark upon the most extensive project of his career: a double LP called Letting Go, a multimedia autobiographical album. It traces his growth, hardships, and triumphs as an immigrant adolescent who found his way into dance music — not just in song, but also through visual aids. A painter as well, Namito has paired each track with a unique image that drives in their meaning. Then, he tops it all off is a story alongside each.

In honor of the release, we invited Namito to the Dancing Astronaut offices to tell his story in a more succinct form that offers a taste of what we might hear come its December 7 release. We’ll leave it to him to tell the tale…

Techno Tuesday: Namito on growing up and ‘Letting Go’Namtio
When I was 13, I had seen a bloody revolution [in my home country of Iran] that took a huge toll on our family due to the tragic death of my uncle. I witnessed the war and Saddam Hussein’s bombs dropping over Tehran, but was not ready to live without my parents, my sisters and my friends. A week before my departure I was given it straight that it was best for me to leave, yet as a teen you take this very personally — almost as a punishment or rejection.

My parents put me in an Iran Air flight to West-Berlin via Frankfurt and my carer abandon and there I was taken care of by my uncle and his wife. I was under 14 years old and back then at this age Germany didn’t ask for a visa. What was extremely traumatic, though, was the fact that nobody asked my opinion about whether I am up for leaving everything behind and immigrating to another country, another culture without my parents or not.

So, the idea of telling my story [in album form] came back in 2003. After leaving Iran and seeking asylum in Germany, I could not go back for 17 years. The problem was that I could not apply for the German citizenship without getting released from the Iranian one, and the Iranian embassy refused to even answer any requests regarding that subject. It was only after the victory of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder 1998 that Germany allowed Iranians to have the dual nationality. I applied for it right away and 2001 almost got it but then 9/11 happened and now the authorities insisted on double checking my past again!

After finally receiving the German Passport in 2002, I went back to visit my family in Iran and also started to write a little blog. My Berlin friends liked my way of writing and encouraged me to start writing a book about my journey. Even though I had already finished 80 pretty well written pages in the past years, I realized that I am not a writer. I express myself more with music and paintings. The idea of telling my story [in album form] was first born came in 2003, and over the years the idea of telling my ongoing story in a different way became more and more clear. Ultimately it developed to be a hybrid trinity of music, painting and writing.

The concept of my album “Letting Go” is that every single track tells a story about a peak or special moment of my life from childhood till 1993. Each tune has its own individual painting portraying the situation and additional to that a story that I wrote to explain what happened.

The 23 tracks are divided in two parts, one Electronica part about the time in Iran (which will be released a bit later), one mirroring the events that happened in Berlin. The later part is obviously infused by club sounds of all sort. The memories are probably a bit different to the majority of the Western world kids usual recollections. The revolution of 1979 in Iran, war, cold war, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the explosion of electronic music in Berlin shaped who I am today and are part of the narration.

I’ve been reinventing my sound the past two decades again and again but one thing is for sure: I always try to tell a story within track and my favorite tool for that has usually been the melody and the bass. For example, the track “Culture Shock” in my album is about my very first encounter with a German upon arrival in Frankfurt as a boy at 13. I was waiting for my caretaker at the luggage belt as a stranger approached me and handed me a rolled up magazine. I didn’t speak any German and almost no English. I had no clue what he wanted but out of politeness I took the magazine and opened it. It was a PLAYBOY magazine and for the first time in my life I saw a fully naked woman. It literally was a shock, which I expressed through the surprise synth roar in the middle!

I am pretty happy with the acoustic translation of the situation into music, big thanks to my friend Luna Semara for helping me with that. Or the wild tune “Blank Check” that is about the anarchic situation in East-Berlin after fall of the Berlin wall, a situation that is probably not gonna occur ever again in that weird constellation. “Letting Go Prequel” was designed to reflect the melancholic nature of my birth place Iran. Slow beats and almost sad strings that always carry hope reflect the situation there. Especially the tracks with my dear friends Manaa and Hubert Watt add that special mood to the album that I had in mind. The complete story will unfold over the next weeks on my Instagram account,  and the whole album should make a lot more sense once people understand the story.

Order a copy of ‘Letting Go,’ out on Namito’s imprint Ubersee, here