Each and every October, a video surfaces online that Chicagoans hold near and dear to their hearts. It’s shared on …
Beyond the Booth is a feature dedicated to the hidden side of artists that exists outside electronic music— a side rarely discussed with those outside their immediate circle. We venture “beyond the booth,” so to speak, and dive into their deepest passions that tie into their unique personalities. After some self-introspection, each participant then returns to the booth, providing an exclusive mix for the Dancing Astronaut audience.
Brazilian powerhouse producer FTampa is living the dream. An artist whose passions in music speak volumes to his fans and counterparts alike, Felipe Tampa has been experiencing a non-stop wave of triumph within the past couple of years due to his gleaming output of full-bodied productions. From a young age, FTampa set his sights on a life outside his own, one that would allow him to express his innermost creative drifts and demonstrate his overwhelming need to create something much, much bigger than himself.
Tampa’s musical career began early on his life, picking up the guitar and keyboard in his hometown of Conselheiro Lafaiete and performing in various bands. However, the moment he discovered the expressive versatility that could be found in electronic production, the artist opted for a more solo career – and never looked back.
Compelled by this unquenchable drive, FTampa would go on to produce a mellifluous catalog of standout records ranging from progressive house to more pop-leaning melodic pieces like his recently released single, “Light Me Up.” His breakout moment came when the Dutch luminary Hardwell began spinning his track “Kick It Hard” in his sets in 2013, spotlighting Tampa’s instantly accessible production and catapulting his name into the spotlight. The artist would then go on to accept invitations to perform at Burning Man, Rock in Rio Las Vegas, and most notably, the main stage of Tomorrowland.
While Felipe Tampa’s meteoric rise is significant, his road to success did not come without hindrance. The artist speaks candidly about his life in Brazil, where at a very young age he suffered the loss of a parent, then later on, would deal with waves of depression despite his progressing career. His discussion about his struggles provides intimate insight into a frequently ineffable subject for developing and touring artists like himself, while also giving him a platform to speak to the roots of his creative vitality regardless of whatever turbulence he experiences in life.
Rounding out a profound fifth installment of Beyond the Booth, FTampa then follows up the interview with an impassioned, exclusive 60-minute mix that faultlessly captures his glowing and vigorous production that has him standing out among today’s up-and-coming talent.
You were born in a small town in Brazil. What was the community like there?
When you grow up in a small town in Brazil like I did, a lot of people feel the need to pursue an “ordinary” career. It’s hard to open your mind to the unlimited opportunities that there are in the world, and because of the humble beginnings people start off believing that their dreams are too big to be realised. I was told so many times that I was never going to make it in the music business… Many of the people that tried to push me back are now living the life they imagined as the right path, but I made my way out and now I’m here traveling the world! The close-knit community of my friends did teach me how to follow my dreams and emotions though!
What’s the music scene like in Brazil? How has it had an effect on your own style?
Brazil’s scene is always growing, but somehow I don’t feel that I’m a huge part of it to be honest. I mean Brazilian DJs make music that people love but it is quite different from the worldwide scene, which is what I’m inspired by. I’ve been living in Brazil for a while now and I’ve never changed my style (I believe I’m actually one of the few DJs who hasn’t changed to adapt to the Brazilian sound) and I will continue doing so and pursuing the music that my heart tells me to… I’ve always wanted to make pop music, ever since I started this journey, and now I have this great fan base that gives me the chance. I’m so grateful that people like what I’m doing! So I think the scene hasn’t really affected my style that much… If anything I’m the alien… haha
You lost your mother at a very young age. That must have been incredibly tough. How were you able to deal with her passing? How has that event shaped you as an individual?
It was a really tough time, I had my grandparents who were really there for me and they helped me a lot… They were really amazing and they made me the man I am today. I had a really hard time when I lost them also, but music was the key for me to cope and I embraced it.
Is what you’re doing now what you always wanted to do growing up? Did you have any other aspirations?
Oh yes! I always wanted to be a musician growing up. I think my biggest dream and my next step would be to create my own show where I would be playing guitar, bass, drums and keyboards all live, playing just my own tracks! That’s the real dream!
You recently created a mix titled “Numb” in response to Chester Bennington’s passing. Along with the mix, you mentioned, “To be an artist is sometimes very lonely, sometimes you are your only company and the only one you trust.” For people who may feel alone, what steps have you taken to overcome that feeling or make life on the road a little easier or friendlier?
I had a very difficult period in my career because for a time I didn’t have a team that really cared about the project as a whole. I went through a tough period and fell into depression, and I really wanted to understand why I was feeling so sad if I was achieving so many of my dreams, it was a terrible moment for me. I’ve always been a big fan of Linkin Park and I empathise with whatever Chester was going through. Currently I’m working with all my friends from my childhood, all of them are aiming at the same goal as me and we are all pursuing all our dreams together. I’m very thankful to have them on my team and for their unconditional support.
From what you’ve overcome, do you find your past has a huge influence in what type of music you produce? Do you think your music would be the same if you hadn’t lived through any of those experiences?
I’m pretty sure it does, because for me music is all about feelings and emotions. I’ve always liked to listen to songs that touch the heart and make you feel something. My influences always came from Rock’n Roll because I felt the strong emotions and heard the direct messages. I like to feel a connection with the audience when I’m performing. If I have to play for people when they are just hanging out, talking and drinking it makes me really sad. It’s not my thing. I like when people interact and go crazy… Rock’n Roll !!
Outside of musical inspirations, who else have you looked up to as inspiration? Why?
My life has been all about music, so pretty much all of my idols are related to music, I do admire a lot of people but I wouldn’t say I have them as a huge inspiration for my music to be honest.
Do you have any touching moments in your life that continue to inspire you?
I just had a son and this changed everything about who I am and has inspired me very much. One day my manager said something that I will never forget: “I’ve already made some bad decisions and I could have chosen a different path in life, but when I see my daughters I am sure that I did the right thing and I wouldn’t change it for anything”. That is my feeling today.
Your recent release “Light Me Up” is filled with uplifting energy. Can you tell us a little bit more about what led you to create this song and the meaning behind it?
This is so amazing! I was playing along with some Red Hot Chilli Peppers tracks on guitar at the time. I simply love everything the guitarist John Frusciante creates, and I came up with the Guitar Intro for ‘Light Me Up’ just after I’d been jamming to RHCP… Then I made the rest of the track really quickly! Powerful drums with a funk guitar and bass having a conversation over the top! It was lot of fun! I’m thinking I’ll record it on acoustic instruments to release a live version. I’m really using guitars to create my new songs and this is amazing for me because it brings everything full circle as I was a former guitar player in a band. The lyrics were written by Gia Koka, an amazing singer and songwriter, she really captured the emotion that the song deserved, both with the lyrics referring to the desire of having something that you know is bad for you and with the emotion she displayed while singing it. I love the song, and I’m so grateful that others do too.
FTampa – Light me up
Zara Larsson – Only you (FTampa Remix)
FTampa – Glowing
FTampa ft Kamatos vs Tujamo ft Sorana – One to our way (FTampa Mashup)
Jetlag ft. Ana Vilela – Trem bala (FTampa Remix)
Cat Dealers & Santti – Sober
Bruno Martini ft. Isadora – Sun Goes Down
FTampa vs The Weeknd – ID can’t feel my face
CAZZTEK ft. Kiyoshi – LIT
Rrotik & Lliam Taylor – Bounce Back (Lothief Remix)
Dirtyloud – Better
Bob Sinclar vs Aylen ft. Goshfather vs Vinai – Everybody Spread this Party (FTampa Mashup)
Linkin Park – Numb (FTampa Remix)
Bougenvilla – Onik
Sonic One – My Beatz Are Raw (Vion Konger Remix)
J Balvin & Willy William – Mi Gente (FTampa Remix)
Bounce Inc. X Daav One – Down Low
Skrillex ft. Poo Bear – Would You Ever
Tove Lo – Habits (Stay High) (FTampa Live Shows Remix)
Avicii ft. Sandro Cavazza – Without You (FTampa Remix)
MAGIC! – Red Dress (FTampa Remix)
Sigma vs Sikdope – Snakes to love (FTampa Edit)
Throttle – Hit The Road Jack
FTampa ft. Anne M. – Love Is All We Need
Feature photo credit: Sam Mendes
Pressing “play” on a Rinzen production can be equated to stepping into a different universe. From the first hit of percussion to the closing note, the LA-based artist effortlessly lures listeners into his domain and traps them there with distinctively brooding, cinematic soundscapes.
Creative to his core, Rinzen’s purpose as an artist is to venture beyond the realm of dance music. “From an early stage of the project, I realized I wanted to create entire worlds with my tracks. Almost like building a landscape or environment and then telling a story within it,” he explains. Furthermore, his overarching vision involves creating these worlds with a mélange of mediums combined into a single plane.
“I think there are enough artists making purely club music out there — and there’s nothing wrong with that. I see Rinzen as my opportunity to try and make something different: to integrate all my interests such as writing, poetry, film, and music into one creative pursuit.”
Forbidden City marks the first step toward manifesting his artistic purpose. Landing on Mau5trap, the trilogy tells a hero’s tale discovering a secret temple and facing multiple trials within, “the conquering of which leads to a new sense of self-knowledge.”
It begins with its title track, which courses through beds of dramatic, sweeping orchestral elements and a distinctive bass-line. A sense of longing takes over the beginning, before the track picks up pace to become bolder and adventurous in nature. Indeed, it is entrance to the “Forbidden City.”
“The title track best exemplifies the overall tone of the EP. It hints at feelings of awe and reverence, yet also features more ominous undertones.”
“Belly of the Beast” brings forth the next chapter of the saga, where the listener, or protagonist, faces their true test. Tension fills the air as roaring synthesizers belt out a menacing melody that is pierced by flutters of keyboard and crisp high hats. If there’s one thing Rinzen does well, it’s certainly conveying a message by clever sonic manipulation.
Finally, Forbidden City closes with the powerful “Triumph of the Human Spirit.” The “beast” has been conquered, and victory is communicated by way of pungent kicks and a soaring breakdown. Yet, a sense of darkness lingers within the piece’s confines, signifying with stark cello accents that the protagonist will never forget what they overcame.
“Triumph of the Human Spirit” was interestingly enough a triumph for Rinzen himself. He explains how it was the toughest track he had to wrangle with on the EP, and that “it took a marathon 50-hour struggle (over the course of a few days) to complete it.” The finished product ties Forbidden City up in a tidy fashion.
“I’m hugely inspired by Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero’s Journey,’ which is basically the concept that there is one singular narrative which all our stories and myths are telling. I wanted the tracks, and the track order, to follow this framework.”
Despite the closure of one chapter, however, this is merely the beginning of Rinzen’s story. “If all goes according to plan, he says, “these worlds that I’m creating will just get bigger and bigger. Eventually, I plan to bring these worlds on tour and accompany them with film.”
May his own hero’s journey bring success and enlightenment.
Photo credit: Michael Drummond
If we’re not mistaken, Rinzen means “sudden awakening.” What are some awakenings you’ve gone through as an artist?
From an early stage of the project, I realized I wanted to create entire worlds with my tracks. Almost like building a landscape or environment and then telling a story within it.
I think there are enough artists making purely club music out there — and there’s nothing wrong with that. I see Rinzen as my opportunity to try and make something different: to integrate all my interests such as writing, poetry, film, and music into one creative pursuit.
Give us the background story/inspiration behind each song on your Forbidden City EP. Also, get into why you grouped these songs in the way that you did. Is there an overarching story you’re looking to communicate?
“Belly of the Beast” was the first song I ever wrote on my Moog. I finished it right after travelling in Japan, with the beautiful, mystic scenery of Kyoto fresh in my mind.
“Forbidden City,” the title track, best exemplifies the overall tone of the EP. It hints at feelings of awe and reverence, yet also features more ominous undertones.
I wanted a big climactic finish to the EP, and thus “Triumph of the Human Spirit” came about. It was the hardest track to finish. It took a marathon 50-hour struggle (over the course of a few days) to complete it.
I’m hugely inspired by Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero’s Journey,’ which is basically the concept that there is one singular narrative which all our stories and myths are telling. I wanted the tracks, and the track order, to follow this framework. It’s the idea of being pulled out of your ordinary reality into the unknown and facing a series of trials — the conquering of which leads to a new sense of self-knowledge.
How do you go about choosing names for songs?
I’m very specific about song names, and try to attach them to a concept portrayed by the track. Most of my track names come about from concepts I’ve read about in either fiction or philosophy texts.
You used heavy orchestral elements to help convey emotions in your EP. What draws you to such classical sounds in particular?
There’s something really timeless and enduring about classical music. I find myself listening to it more and more these days. I wanted to incorporate a bit of that influence into the EP. I see it as something that will only become more prominent in my music throughout the years.
Any last thoughts/things you want to say about this EP?
Ultimately, the EP is just the first step in my vision. If all goes according to plan, these worlds that I’m creating will just get bigger and bigger. Eventually, I plan to bring these worlds on tour and accompany them with film. Forbidden City is only the beginning.
Icon Collective has solidified its reputation as the premier educational facility for electronic music production on the West Coast. The North Hollywood arts school has become a breeding ground for the next generation of talent, as evidenced by its formidable track record, which includes the likes of Jauz, MAKJ, Slander, SNBRN and more.
To spotlight some of the amazing talent coming out of the school, we’ve teamed up with Icon for a new series highlighting tracks from the past month from both current students and Icon graduates.
This month’s Icon Spotlight serves to highlight the sheer diversity of the talent coming out of Icon’s halls. First up is Soul Bandit, who provides a haunting ode to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” that is pure nostalgic bliss. Next up, vin damato teams up with fellow Icon grad Just Because for “Mirage,” a beautifully soporific number with a chilled out bass music backbone. Manuk channels a similar energy, blending downtempo beatwork with Eastern-tinged strings and soulful chords on “No Glory.”
Meanwhile, HVPPY HOUR goes head to head with OSOJACK for a fresh, guitar-laden future bass collaboration titled “Solo.” Lastly, Bricks makes expert use of 808s for a clever booty house-meets-breaks original titled “Move Your Body.”
Check out all five tracks below for this month’s Icon Spotlight:
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.
In his recent memoir Porcelain, house and techno trailblazer Moby reveals how his track “Go” helped to globalize electronic dance music to its current widespread acclaim. Chronicling Moby’s ascension from 1989-1999, the autobiography dedicates an entire chapter to “Go” where the artist layers “Laura Palmer’s Theme” from Twin Peaks over the B-side to his debut single “Mobility.” “Go” quickly became a 90s rave anthem and stands today as one of the most widely regarded remixes of all time.
27 years after the release of “Go,” Moby celebrates the art of the remix by enlisting over 40 producers to rework a handful of his most seminal tracks. In an initiative dubbed the Black Lacquer Remix Project, Moby calls on a wide range of artists with diverse electronic music backgrounds to rework tracks including “Porcelain,” “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad,” “Natural Blues,” and “Go.”
Under his HI-LO alias, Oliver Heldens puts a deep house twist on “Go” by adding thumping percussion and orchestral organ sounds to the original. The new remix embodies Helden’s HI-LO alias, revealed in 2015 to be “all about the groove, bass lines and the way the music builds up and gets people dancing.” Heldens employs bass house, tech house and underground UK house elements on the new remix, returning “Go” to the forefront of club music.
The Dutch Heldeep Records label-head joins a high-profile list of remix artists including Above & Beyond, Hardwell, Loco Dice and more on the Black Lacquer Remix Project. Listen to HI-LO’s fresh take on “Go” below, and dive deeper into his creative process on the remix as follows:
Have you read Moby’s recently released memoir, Porcelain?
Yes, it’s a fantastic book. I really enjoyed reading about the old days, especially from the perspective of a legend like Moby.
Are you familiar with the Black Lacquer Remix Project?
Yes I am. I think it’s a really cool project with Moby reaching out to a diverse spectrum of electronic dance music artists to re-work some of his most seminal tracks. Of course I’m very honoured that I could participate as HI-LO for the “Go” remix.
What does Moby mean to you?
Moby has been a huge inspiration for me. He’s one of the biggest-selling electronic producers of all time, with his roots in rave and techno bangers. I listened to his music a lot and I still do.
What does this track mean to you / why did you choose this track?
“Go” is regularly dug up and remixed for the modern dance floor, and it carries an emotional power that continues to resonate today. I thought it would be very cool to make a remix of it. I added a raw edge to the track with cool organ sounds, sweet percussion, deep bass action and a nice melodic breakdown.
Any tips for up and coming producers on the art of remixing?
Give your own swing to the song. Find your own sound that feels personal and don’t blindly follow trends. And of course do all of that with respect to the original track.
What about “Go” makes it so iconic? Is it attached to any memories for you?
“Go” is widely considered as one of the greatest rave classics of all time. I felt that the track had a right fit with my moniker HI-LO and of course I listened to the track a lot.
Describe your creative process for this remix. Where where you and how long did it take to create?
I’m not totally sure about where I made the track. I produce a lot while on the road. I do know that it didn’t take me too long creating the remix. I was simply very enthusiastic to remix “Go” into a version that fits today’s dance floors.
How does your remix of “Go” differ from other remixes you’ve done?
The track itself is already so cool. I added some sounds but tried to keep the original alive. Instead of mixing it into a house-y track I choose a deeper side with HI-LO.
If Moby were to remix one of your songs which one would you pick?
Oh wow, I would be very honoured. If it’s up to me, he’s free to pick one out of all of my songs.
5 artists you have to see at BEMF 2018
The Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival is coming up next week, and although there are going to be plenty of incredible artists bringing their unique flavor to the three-day festival, we have handpicked 5 artists that you absolutely cannot miss. From bass-heavy showcases to deep house dynamos, the 2018 BEMF will once again assemble some of the most innovative names in dance music to the best venues all over Brooklyn. From October 12-14, BEMF’s tremendous array of artists will take over the borough – grab your tickets for BEMF here.
Tokimonsta is ready to return to the forefront of electronic music after her recent battle with the serious brain disease Moyamyo. With her new album Lune Rouge out now, the Young Art label head is set to give fans a look into her extremely personal project, which she crafted during her recovery. BEMF goers will surely not want to miss Tokimonsta’s killer debut of her fresh new tracks, like “Don’t Call Me (feat. Yuna).” Tokimonsta will be taking the stage at House Of Yes on October 12.
Pete Tong is one of the most well-respected tastemakers in the world of dance music. His BBC Radio 1 show has become a fundamental aspect of dance music culture, and the British DJ is by far one of the most influential people in the world of music as a whole. Whenever this living legend gets behind the decks you can bet that things are going to get hectic. It’s not every day that Pete makes appearances in the Big Apple so this set is definitely going to be a treat. Pete will be hitting Analog BKNY on October 13.
Low End Theory
Low End Theory began as an experimental hip-hop and electronic club night in that takes place every Wednesday night at the Airliner in Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles. Residents Daddy Kev, Nobody, Gaslamp Killer and D-Styles will come together to bring an authentic West Coast bass vibe to the east coast and all bass music lovers will not want to miss this one. Catch Low End Theory at Paper Box on October 13.
The Hot 25 is the definitive playlist series running through dance music culture and hand-delivering you the essential tracks of the week. Whether it’s the hottest or quickest trending tracks, brand new music from your favorite artists, or songs from the unknown that should be landing on your radar, Dancing Astronaut brings you 25 carefully selected records that reflect what’s happening in our world.
This week’s playlist starts off with a fiery edit of Tiesto and KSHMR‘s collaboration, “Harder.” Next, Dillon Francis lends his touch to Halsey’s “Bad At Love” that showcases the commercial side of his production prowess. Additionally, multi-instrumentalist talent Gryffin introduces us to his next radio-primed single “Nobody Compares To You” while fellow rising stars Louis The Child serve up a playful number titled “Right To It” with lyrical assistance from past collaborator Ashe.
For those looking for a wonkier, left-of-center Friday soundtrack, Tokimonsta, DROELOE, and Just A Gent stand out for their flavorful newness. Finally, house heads can enjoy pumping four-on-the-floor cuts from Wolf Story, Bali Bandits, and John Christian.
The Heat of the Week: Ekali – Babylon (feat. Denzel Curry) [Skrillex & Ronny J Remix]
Skrillex has been on a release frenzy as of late between his melodic co-write with PooBear, “Would You Ever,” and heavy remix of Kendrick’s “HUMBLE.” Now, the OWSLA head lends his prolific talent to rising label star Ekali’s urban-electronic, Denzel Curry-assisted single “Babylon” alongsideRonny J. For fans of his “HUMBLE.” remix, this Skrillex flip is the ultimate follow-up.
The Breakout Select: Alpha 9 – Blossom
Arty has been on the come-up with his progressive side project, Alpha 9, and his uplifting new single under the moniker, “Blossom”will be the mid-day pick me up listeners need to carry them into the weekend.
Launchpad is a playlist series showcasing music we love, hand selected by our staff. The tracks come from both emerging and mainstream artists; it’s all about the quality and the unexpected. If you’d like your music featured in Launchpad, submit it for consideration here.
We’re still reeling from yesterday. The terrible tragedy in Las Vegas and the loss of a music legend have been tough to comprehend. Music has always been a coping mechanism for some people, and with that in mind, here is a Launchpad playlist with some Mood music spanning melancholy indie electronic to deep house. Find what suits you.
DA Launchpad Selects:
Lyves – “Cover Me”
Lyves is the alias of London-based singer, songwriter and producer Francesca Bergami. Her bio notes that she first studied psychology, embarking on a career as a support worker and mental health advocate at a psychiatric hospitals. Despite this selfless career path, she felt something was missing in her life and began releasing her emotive blend of deep soul, alternative-R&B and subtle electronica. She has performed to packed stadiums across Europe, having been chosen by Coldplay to open 15 dates of their ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ tour.
Tontario – “Northern Confessions (feat. Sarah De Warren)”
Tontario is a relative newcomer to the scene; he started releasing music only a couple years ago from his home in Finland. He brings a fascinating combination of elements into his music, eliciting comparisons to Bob Moses, with hints of Bon Iver. His Instagram is one of the more interesting artist profiles we’ve seen in awhile, filled not with promotional content but rather dark, nature-filled images, presumably from his home country.
Lyves – “Cover Me”
Tontario – “Northern Confessions (feat. Sarah De Warren)”
Lone – “Saturday Night”
Chay & Dead Space, TomCole – “Be In Time”
Other – “Safety (feat. Brandon Banks) (On June Remix)”
Jack Trades – “Hurt You Hard (feat. Taylor Mosley)”
Baron Inc. – “Ride The Snake”
Joshua Moriarty – “All I Want Is You”
BRB & JackEL – “Late Summer”
Gorgon City have already reached great heights relatively early on in their career, yet it seems as though they are still just getting started. Shortly after Foamo (Kye Gibbon) and RackNRuin (Matt Robson-Scott) began gaining a little local traction in their native London, their combined effort swiftly propelled them to the top of the global dance scene. Now doubling as revered performers and chart-topping tastemakers, the British duo has big plans for the future.
The dynamic duo were part of an important movement in electronic music in the early 2010s, helping spur a global acceptance of house music into popular culture alongside acts like Duke Dumont, Disclosure, and Route 94. While America may have taken an extra moment to come around to this new sound, the movement has become intercontinental, with a ubiquitous presence in clubs and at festivals. Singles like “Ready For Your Love” and “All Four Walls” have definite mass appeal, though ultimately it would be unfair to pigeonhole the artists into their approachable sound. Gorgon City are here to represent and uphold the underground culture, while also making catchy music with quality songwriting:
“We love to be able to do a track that gets on the charts and the radio and the BBC playlist, but also we love playing at Amnesia every Tuesday and playing techno and house to thousands of people. We don’t really see ourselves in the commercial scene or the underground scene, we just see us as Gorgon City, like the act in itself. But we love being in the house music kind of family of DJs that we’re friends with. People we see in Ibiza every week, people like MK, Duke Dumont, and Solardo and people like that. We’re part of the same scene, we play together all the time. We might have a bit more commercial aspect to our brand but we’re still in that scene, in the UK house music world and we definitely feel part of it.”
A distinctly London act, both members of Gorgon City grew up on the vibrant jungle, drum ‘n’ bass, and garage scenes of the British capital. It was in these grassroots scenes that Gorgon City realized their desire to be involved in the scene: “It was those raves that really made us want to be DJs…When you see it happening at that young age, it’s like this crazy, mad world.” The duo’s music pays obvious homage to the past while maintaining a contemporary and innovative edge to their sound as a result.
Gorgon City are now exploring all the options that the scene has to offer after their debut album was met with wild success. Coming off a residency at Amnesia in Ibiza and a live show with Rudimental, the DJs are returning to the road for a tour of DJ sets across the United States and Canada, all while producing music for their upcoming project. Dancing Astronaut had a chance to sit down with Matt Robson-Scott and talk about club culture and new music just before they depart for on their North American tour.
You guys are heading out on a new North American tour of DJ sets, is there a different mentality behind your DJ sets as opposed to your live shows?
We DJ kind of constantly, whether we’re doing the live show or not, we’re always DJing. Whether its in Ibiza or at after parties for the live show. We basically play a lot of unreleased material, that what we’re going to be bringing to the tour in the States because we haven’t been there for a while so there will be a lot of new music from us in our studio, also from all the producers we’re loving at the moment. Also, we’ve got our weekly radio show, Kingdom, which we showcase some of the acts that we support, and also some will actually be supporting us on the tour. People like Camelphat, Solardo, Detlef, and like, we just bring an aesthetic of house and techno, tech house, some deep house as well. We’re bringing loads of amazing artists with us, its going to be like a proper event. Each party isn’t just going to be about us. Its going to be about all the acts that are with us. We’ve got really high caliber DJs coming with us from the UK and America, so its gonna be a fun tour with a lot of great shows.
What are your favorite cities and venues to play, and are there any specific places you’re excited to return to?
We always have an amazing time in San Diego; we’ve got an amazing following there. I don’t really know why, we just feel very welcome there and our shows sell out really fast every time. I think it might have something to do with CRSSD Festival, we’ve always had an in with those guys, and we did a great headline show a couple years ago there, maybe that helps. Also, we love playing in all the major cities, like New York, LA, San Francisco, Chicago. And also we loving coming to Austin, Texas. We love touring in America, and I can speak for Kye as well, I know he’s really looking forward to this tour. He can’t wait to get back out to America, so we’re really looking forward to it. It’s gonna be a big one.
Do you notice any differences between American and European crowds? Do you find that you have to play a little different or can you expect something similar no matter where you play?
Yeah, it’s pretty much similar nowadays. I think, like a few years ago, before the UK artists started really blowing up in America, people like Disclosure, Route 94, and us, there weren’t so many house and deep house nights, but now it definitely feels like America is kind of in the same place as the UK and Europe, maybe before they were kinda more into EDM shows, just maybe less awareness of housey that was popping off in the UK quite a few years ago. At that time, it felt like America was a little bit in a different time than Europe, but now it kind of feels like one big global house scene. It’s really good.
You guys are from London, which has such a rich history in house and techno. In some other interviews, you guys mentioned how much you love drum ‘n’ bass, grime and dubstep. What were the building blocks that inspired you to star making music? With all the great clubs around, were there any live shows in London that you went to that kind of set you on the path of making music?
I think, for the first really proper gig that I went to, I went to see Cypress Hill when I was like really young, like 13 with my brother. When I saw that live, I thought, “Wow this is amazing.” But then obviously, when I got old enough to get into clubs – well, I mean, I wasn’t old enough I had a fake ID when I was like 16. There used to be a venue in London called Bagley’s, which is like a big warehouse in King’s Cross. It basically had lots of mad jungle, old school hardcore, and sort of like drum & bass and garage raves like every weekend. It was like a really crazy place. And that really influenced me and my friends to really get into London underground music culture, and then start producing tunes in our bedrooms. I used to use my mum’s computer in my house with FruityLoops. It was those raves that really made us want to be DJs of drum & bass and jungle, and I think Kye is the same. When you see it happening at that young age, it’s like this crazy, mad world. It was even crazier back then as well, this was like 15 years ago when we first started going to these raves. They were pretty mad. It’s a shame, because those kinds of parties don’t really happen in that much London anymore, because its like, there are no venues left. They’ve gone to become luxury apartments, and all that stuff, there’s only a few clubs left.
You mention all of these clubs closing in London. There have also been restrictions on clubs in Ibiza dealing with noise restrictions and beach access. Are there any better ways for governments and dance music to work together, or do you think it’s a situation where we’ll always be at odds?
It’s been a problem since the beginning of dance music. Whether they’re illegal or legal, obviously the UK have had that problem when there was a repetitive beat order introduced in the 80s, any gathering with repetitive beats had to have a certain license. To be honest, it’s not always the government causing the problems. In London, it’s actually residents. They complain to the council and its not actually the government going out of their way to stop these clubs from carrying on being in business. People who live in the area who move in, they’re older or they just don’t like loud music and people being noisy outside their apartment. That’s the main problem that we have over here, mainly just people. It’s a shame, because they’re probably just old, angry Londoners who want everyone to be quiet and not have fun anymore. It sucks, but we just need to…I don’t know… just not be so greedy.
All these developers just want to turn these clubs and warehouse spaces into luxury apartments. Its just money. And it’s happening in the US too. In Brooklyn and all over America. It’s just greed man. In the society that we live in, people just want to make loads of money, and nightclubs don’t make much money. They’re there for people to have fun, and maybe some of them make money but you know, its not as much as luxury apartments. I think people just need to keep pushing and keep opening new clubs and trying to find spaces in dark and derelict places and keep going. It’s mad, because electronic music is the biggest it’s ever been globally, but all the clubs are closing. Where is everyone going to go to listen to this music? It feels like everyone is going to be using VR in their living room watching raves from an iPhone rather than being there in person. Hopefully that won’t happen, everyone just needs to have a bit of balls and take risks. It’s difficult to open a nightclub, it’s one of the hardest things to do in the world. The business is intense. It takes a lot of investment, it takes a lot of risk, but people who take the risk are the ones that are fighting for us to be able to party. I’d love to open a club in London but it’s a nightmare trying to get it all sorted.
Let’s switch gears, I want to talk about some of your guys’ music. You had a bunch of singles released for your upcoming album, Kingdom, but it’s been quiet recently aside from “Real Life” with Duke Dumont. What’s the plan for the rest of the album rollout? I heard it was originally supposed to be two parts is there anything we can expect from this project in the near future?
Yeah, so we’re actually launching a new track next week with our new label. We’re launching a record label called Realm next Friday. It’s going to be our avenue for underground tracks that aren’t necessarily going to come out on the album. So we just wanted to get that done, and that’s going to launch next week in time for the tour, so that’s really exciting. We’ve basically got another record that we’ve finished, it’s another album that’s going to be coming out before the end of the year, or early next year. It’s going to be kind of the record of Kingdom, but it might not have that name. It’ll be under the Kingdom identity but it might be under a different name. We’ve finished all the music and it sounds great, we’re really happy with it.
Speaking of your music in general, your quality songwriting has led to popular success that many electronic artists do not reach. However, your mentality for your music and shows seems very club oriented. So, when you’re kind of straddling that line, where do you guys see yourself in the scene?
We love being able to do both sides of it. We love to be able to do a track that gets on the charts and the radio and the BBC playlist, but also we love playing at Amnesia every Tuesday and playing techno and house to thousands of people. We don’t really see ourselves in the commercial scene or the underground scene, we just see us as Gorgon City, like the act in itself. But we love being in the house music kind of family of DJs that we’re friends with. People we see in Ibiza every week, people like MK, Duke Dumont, and Solardo and people like that. We’re part of the same scene, we play together all the time. We might have a bit more commercial aspect to our brand but we’re still in that scene, in the UK house music world and we definitely feel part of it.
Talking a little bit more about your songwriting, you guys have cited Massive Attack as a big influence, you’ve talked about Radiohead and Jimmy Napes as well, all of who use live instruments. Do you feel that using live instrumentation adds to your production experience?
It definitely helps, when we started the live show properly it definitely affected the way we produce music, because you start thinking about how we’re going to play each part live, how it’s going to work as a live song. We just kind of really wanted to have the opportunity to translate all of our songs into a live setting. And the way we make beats as well kind of changed a little bit. It also just gives us more confidence about jamming and not caring as much about basslines and chords and stuff. Sometimes we’ll just jam out with our drummer in a rehearsal space creating new songs and stuff. It’s added to our various techniques of producing music.
You guys have released a huge amount of official remixes of your stuff, and you guys remix a bunch of stuff on your own. Do you ever play out remixes of your own work?
We definitely do, we’ve been playing the Solardo remix of “Real Life” a lot this summer, we always play the Weiss remix of “Imagination” in our DJ sets. There are certain tracks that we really love. The reason that we choose these artists to remix our tracks is because we’re big fans of them. When they deliver a banging remix we support it and play it a lot. It’s amazing to get our favorite acts to remix us; we’re really lucky.
On the topic of DJs that you’re fans of, who are your favorite Djs, producers, or live acts out there right now?
A lot are on our lineup for our tour, people like Camelphat, they’re really killing it in the UK right now. Solardo obviously are smashing it. There’s a guy called Eli Brown, who’s really good. He’s got some new tracks out that you should check out, we’ve been supporting him a lot. Disciples are doing their thing over here too. But really anyone on our lineup.
Is there anything you want the people to know about the tour or the album?
Check out the label! Realm is launching on Friday with our track “Primal Call.” That’s going to be an interesting release. We’ve also got another track dropping soon after that, another underground one so keep an eye out for that one. And obviously check out gorgoncity.com for tour dates and tickets for the tour.