Now in it’s 21st year, the mystique surrounding Burning Man and its ability to draw in the biggest names in electronic music have shown now signs of abating. This year was no exception, with contributions from Diplo, Skrillex, and a Burning Man favorite — Tycho’s sunrise set.
One particular guest to Black Rock City that has until now remained rather elusive has been the legendary Carl Cox. Thanks to the folks at The Radio Department, fans of tech-house can now hear Carl Cox’s first-ever guest mix (beginning at the 58 minute mark) on John Digweed‘s radio show, Transitions.
Recorded live from deep within the playa this past September, expect to hear a carefully curated mix of techno and progressive DJs who are pioneering their respective genres, including Dance Spirit, Satori, Markus Homm, Connan Mockasin, Tiefschwarz & Yawk, and more.
When one’s passion is ardent enough, that which ignites it will eventually take over all aspects of life. Sacha Robotti — Dirtybird’s well-loved, Belgian-raised clan member — is an embodiment of this idea, having come to a realization well into his professional life that he was meant to pursue a career as an electronic musician.
Music had clearly been something that ran deep in Robotti’s veins, as evidenced by his professional pianist sister. “I played music [classically] until I was about fifteen or so,” the tech house commander recalls when discussing playing cello in his youth. “Then, I started DJing.”
Robotti’s tone subtly lights up when he mentions his beginnings as a DJ, and anytime the topic of his current profession arises in the conversation. His dedication and love for his art is infectious, and shows up in all manifestations of his being. This feeds right into his steadily-growing fan base, who revel in and return the enthusiasm with full force. He would be serving as a counselor to a raucous crowd at Dirtybird Campout in just a few days, and continuing a lengthy Slothacid tour right afterward — a testament to how a genuine attitude and talent can carry one far.
Before taking the leap of faith into DJ and producerhood, he faced an all-too familiar crossroads when moving into the young professional part of his life. “I had always felt there was a possibility I could make it as a musician,” Sacha began when asked why he didn’t decide to test his luck in the electronica waters straight away. “However, at the time architecture seemed like a more sensible career path, so I persisted down that road,” he admitted.
“In my opinion, you truly get better at something when you’re passionate about it, and ultimately my passion is music.”
He felt satiated for a brief while: “It was definitely a great field at first, because it made me travel and look at the world from different perspectives. I feel like you perceive everything differently once you know how certain things are built, and how people move around.” Having been born to an Italian father, a German mother, and being raised in Belgium, a tendency toward cosmopolitan habits is as ingrained in Robotti as music was.
Another thing that has remained unchanged is his selfless interest in creating a positive impact for others. Sacha let his creativity flow through some conceptual design work, but most enjoyed “participating in an area of architecture that was really useful to those who needed it.” Before turning to music, he had been working on a reconstruction project in a war-affected area of Afghanistan.
The former architect is a strong believer of sustainable development as well. To him, it’s “the direction we all need to go in to save the planet, especially with all the pollution and destruction happening right now.” He continues on: “We need to shift to a different outlook, and start building with more recycled materials and other power and water-saving supplies that don’t consume as many resources.” One day, when he’s ready, he’ll be building his own house in such a manner.
Sacha’s turning point came in 2005, when he “got invited to apply for a master’s in music at this institution in Berlin.” The sign he’d been looking for had finally arrived. “When I got accepted, I knew my path was to do music full time,” he affirmed.
His followers know the rest of the story. Influenced by the underground and other electronica influences that swept his home town of Brussels, Robotti built his own unique personality through highly danceable sets and thumping tech house works that caught Dirtybird attention in 2012. Through his music, he’s once again able to travel around the world and view things from different perspectives.
“I live and breathe music right now. I try to embrace everything that I can, and take any opportunity I get to travel, network, and see different places with my work. I find it particularly interesting to learn about new cultures and people all around the world!”
In music, he also gets to continue down a path where his output is something of use to people. While architecture manifested utility on a more physical scale, his music offers people a playful escape from the real world — always a welcome gift.
An innate desire to sweep people off to a pleasant place happens to tie into his association with sloths as a spirit animal and personal brand. When throwing a warehouse party one day, where the goal was to create a place “where one could feel comfortable, relaxed, and have a good time — unlike a club-type setting,” he decided to use a sloth logo. Fans soon started tagging him on all things sloth-related, and thus he became a “sloth man.”
“Like the sloth, I like to take time to balance everything in life. They really are a positive spirit animal for me, in a sense.”
The conversation ends on a gleeful note, as Sacha names off the new cities he’s played thus far on his successful Slothacid tour, where he’s looking forward to playing next, and of course, his favorite things about Dirtybird Campout. That weekend, he went on to be lovingly welcomed by his campers, where he returned their positivity with a wild set that shattered their self control and left nothing but dancing as a result.
Let’s dive a bit into your background now with architecture, the field you were in before music. Can you give us some details on how you got into it?
Sure! I studied architecture in Scotland and Berlin. It was definitely a great field at first, because it made me travel and look at the world from different perspectives. I feel like you perceive everything differently once you know how certain things are built, and how people move around. After eight years in the field, however, I realized that it wasn’t for me.
One big takeaway from my years in architecture is that I know for certain that I want to design and build my own house one day. Hopefully I’ll be able to do this soon!
Are you saving up for land and materials and such?
I wish, but not right now. Sometime in the future, I hope I can start.
Honestly, my life is just about music right now. I live and breathe it right now, and try to embrace everything that I can, and take any opportunity I get to travel, learn about new cultures, network, and see different places with my work. I find it particularly interesting to learn about new cultures and people all around the world!
What led you to study architecture in the first place instead of diving right into music?
I played music streadily until I was about 15 or so, and then I started DJing. My sister was a pianist as well, so in a way I always felt there was a possibility I could make it as a musician. However, at the time architecture seemed like a more sensible career path, so I persisted down that road until I realized it wasn’t more sensible for me. In my opinion, you truly get better at something when you’re passionate about it, and ultimately my passion is music.
Totally agree. If you’re passionate and driven enough about something, you can make it work! So, when was your turning point when you made the transition to being a full-time musician?
In about 2005. I was in Afghanistan working on a re-construction project. I got invited to apply for a master’s in music at this institution in Berlin, and when I got accepted I knew my path was to do music full time. I got a master in “music communication,” which is more or less a “deluxe” version of sound design. It was a more artistic side of the field though, with more theory.
Let’s get into some more music-related things. Tell us about your Slothacid tour!
It’s been great so far — I’ve been able to play in cities I haven’t been to before. There’s also Dirtybird Campout, which I’m super excited for. I’m playing at Sky Bar in Chicago too, along with another round of interesting places. I have about 20 more cities to hit in the next couple months. I’ll be travelling with some support as well — Kevin Knapp is coming, Rybo will be there, J. Worra, Pezzner, and Fancy Fox. I’m really looking forward to that!
Which cities are ones you’ve just played at for the first time, and which have been your favorites?
Vancouver is one, and I also haven’t been to Edmonton (British Columbia), Kelowna, Washington DC and a few others. I played in Boston as well, which was really nice.
Moving onto Dirtybird Campout – you’ve been to every one. What are your favorite things about it, and what sets it apart from other events you’ve played at?
The campout theme itself makes it different from every other festival I’ve been at. The boy/girl scout spirit, the games, the music being all Dirtybird, and the intimacy are all things I love to it.
DC underground stalwart, Sharam, is gearing up for the release of his album in a few days, but he is still riding high after the release of the third part of his Collecti project. Consisting of five tracks, Collecti Pt. 3 demonstrates a wide array of the producer’s various sounds and styles.
To serve as the bridge between this release and the upcoming album, Sharam has lent his hand to crafting an hour-long, exclusive mix for Dancing Astronaut. Blending his latest releases like “Dubbi” and “Napoli” with highlighted tracks from his peers like DJ Dep and Chance Caspian, the techno maven sustains a constant energy and groove while balancing light and dark tones in an innovative stimulating fashion.
Tracklist: Sharam – Dubbi Sharam – Techi (Renier Zonneveld Remix) Rudosa – Eyes On You DJ Dep – That’s Right Third Son – Sanguine Sharam – Napoli Sharam – Texi Chance Caspian – ID Stephan Bodzin – Powers of Ten (Maceo Plex & Shall Ocin Remix) Sharam – Spaci
Amidst their recently commenced world tour, UK tech-house twosome, Prok & Fitch, have released a three-song EP entitled Seagulls via prolific techno label, Relief Records. The duo accredits internationally-celebrated house and techno producer, Green Velvet, for his hand in getting the ball rolling: “We first started working on the Seagulls EP last year. As soon as Curtis (Green Velvet) heard a demo of ‘Parker The Virgin’ he wanted it.” The pair, who are no strangers to Beatport Top 10’s, has worked alongside house icons such as Mark Knight and Moby, with their remixes culminating support from front-pagers like Tiesto, Carl Cox, and Pete Tong.
The EP’s title track, “Seagulls,” with its steely beat and distorted vocal samples, is crisp and unconventional. Its stripped down sound design and clandestine, warehouse texture give “Seagulls” its raw tech-house energy.
Gorgon City has proved to be one of the most successful dance music duos in the industry right now, having sold 2 million combined global singles to date and recently acquiring their own weekly radio show on Sirius XM. The UK-natives have also announced a 22-stop Kingdom tour throughout the UK and North America, which will be their biggest tour to date. Now, fresh off a massive summer hit with Duke Dumont on “Real Life,” they’ve unveiled plans to start their very own imprint through Virgin EMI called REALM with their popular new track “Primal Call” being its first official release. The label is designed as a platform to focus on Gorgon City’s underground, more club-focused tracks. Matt and Kye had some words of their own to accompany the launch:
“We’ve been planning to launch our imprint for a long time and it now feels like the perfect time to release ‘Primal Call’, after getting great reactions over the summer. We wanted the debut to be a new track from us, to set the vibe of what’s to come on the label. We can’t wait to release more great music on REALM, so watch this space!”
“Primal Call” itself contains piano riffs, echoing pitch vocals and a euphoric breakdown that leaves room for the thumping house bassline and elongated sirens. The duo truly shows off their improved production skills, with a sound that will force anyone to stay at the club until sunrise.
To purchase tickets for their upcoming KINGDOM tour, click here.
Sebjak, Adrien Rux and Bedmar join forces to treat audiences to “Last Summer,” a sweltering, hot new deep house cut out on Bibliothèque Records.
Filled with a visceral intensity and melancholy vocals, the track has a dramatic, club-ready feel that puts it in a class of its own. True to Bibliothèque’s risk-taking, boundary-pushing reputation, the song’s filtered vocals, warbling bass, and imaginatively sequenced synths bring listeners on an unforgettable journey of sound.
Creating an immersive experience by stripping “Last Summer” down and building it back up, Sebjak, Adrien Rux and Bedmar bring a unique touch to the world of deep house.
Over the last seven years, Jamie Jones has gained notoriety for pioneering a unique sound. By way of the innovative Hot Creations label, Jones has paved the way for all that is house, techno, and disco — oftentimes seamlessly intersecting the three. Now, 100 releases later, Hot Creations is hotter than ever before. To celebrate the occasion is a huge EP from the man himself.
The illustrious EP kicks off with “Sound of Music,” an ultimate end-of-summer tune. Albeit, the track’s a cover version, originally released via Nookie, Jones’ take features Katy B on vocals, which ultimately creates the perfect lead into a largely melodic dance-floor-ready body of work that follows.
“Kooky Chords,” “Positive Pressure,” and “Parallel Universe” are each deeply infectious tunes, oozing fat basslines and enticing vocal cuts. After listening to the EP, which is rich in the very elements that have pushed Hot Creations to the forefront of the techno community, it seems appropriate that Jones is the one to deliver its 100th release.
“Birds of a feather flock together” — so goes the proverbial phrase for those whose indistinguishable interests, ideas, and characteristics converge.
In the pantheon of propelling tech and bass house to unforeseen heights lies the nest of a rather zany flock of birds. The Dirtybird nest — overseen by the venerable Claude VonStroke — hosts all kinds of crudeness, lewdness, depth, and darkness. For those unfamiliar, it helps to think of this crew as an eccentric ostentation of peacocks, really, over a stark flock of birds. The label cultivates a truly idiosyncratic array of artistry, whose ethos is exemplified in its artist’s stylistic differences. Indeed, Dirtybird soars in its artist’s abilities to create outside of the box material, seize a moment, a feeling, or fill a room with insatiably booty-clapping tunes.
Exemplifying the Dirtybird ethos is none other than the rising Brooklyn-based tech house duo Walker & Royce, comprised of Samuel Walker and Gavin Royce.
“I think what works is that our sound fits in with Dirtybird, but it’s not what people think of when they think of Dirtybird. I think that’s what Dirtybird and Claude VonStroke likes about us,” Sam Walker articulates of the duo’s unique output.
Together, the two operate like a well-oiled machine: relaxed and respectful in each other’s presence, interrupting one another when they speak only to double down on a point, get a laugh, or finish one’s sentence. It’s safe to say they’re most definitely birds of a feather.
Naturally, Gavin Royce continues on Walker’s sonic comment:
“We do try to bring in a little bit of disco, or a little bit of techno, or a little bit of other things from time to time so it’s not just straight up bass house. And a lot of times the breakdowns are these little things which happen to come together accidentally so a lot of this stuff is accidentally put together…. Happy Accidents. “
Happy accidents are something the two know quite well.
Walker & Royce got started in the DJ circuit in 2011, gaining attention for their unique track structure from a vast array of talent. With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, the outfit has bridged the sonic gap in tech house in-between outwardness on the dance-floor and inner contemplation at home. Their tunes additionally explore an altruistic and diversely passionate style of production known by few others, manifested through penning songs through a creative process normally utilized by vocalists.
Among their very first of releases as an entity was when Crosstown Rebels’ boss Damian Lazarus noticed their remix of SAARID’s “Future Lately,” on Nervous Records. The two were then recruited to the famed label with their EP You’re Not Welcome, and with that, launched into the dance music spotlight.
Around this time, the boys also went on to release a track on OFF Recordings that went on to become the house anthem “Connected.” The song was played in heavy rotation and even went on to become a mainstay in Solomun‘s performances. Thinking back on the sonic differences between their early releases, it’s easy to see that Walker & Royce was setting the stage for their diverse range of sounds that would follow. Their debut EP on Moda Black entitled Sister, released in 2014, was even picked up by tastemaker Pete Tong as his Essential New Tune, in turn becoming a staple festival track. Walker & Royce’s remix of Baunz’ “Out the Window” on Pets Recordings garnered support from many of the biggest artists in electronic music, further building off the success of Sister.
The duo have since found themselves in Claude VonStroke’s seminal Dirtybird Records’ nest, with a series of multiple releases under their belt. Tracks like “Boy,” “Hit Dem Draws,” and more, have continued to cement their standing as a strong force within the next generation of tech house greats. While the two admit they’re too close to their music to see it, their unconventional take exemplifies exactly what a subgenre that can at times sound all-too-similar needs. Walker & Royce’s output consistently surprises their fans as they come into their own sonically, but such is what they’ve come to know and love about the two. Fans are ensured that their creative process is cyclical.
Recent times have seen the two have buckled down forging an brand new body of work, a debut album, that is for both the dance-floor and home listening.“We want artists to challenge themselves to do a body of work like this, and I feel like it made us write music that’s a little bit different than what we usually do,” advised Royce.
Self Help is thus a career-defining moment for the two. The immensely clever project is sure to lure in listeners with its club-ready grooves, only to leave them in the numbers of sly contemplation. Take even just the project’s lead singles for example: “Take Me To Your Leader,” featuring Dances With White Girls, dominated the festival circuits late this summer. Meanwhile, a Green Velvet-assisted “Rub Anotha Dub” featuring Green Velvet is also on its way to anthemhood.
On Self Help, Walker & Royce invite music aficionados of all genres to get lost in the flowing constructs of their imaginationwhile they search for the constantly evolving remedy of what it means to help one’s self and others in an ever-evolving musical world that’s always in need of some companionship.
“Our goal was to have people that aren’t just dance music fans listen to this album. Dirtybird has such a huge fanbase and they’re so amazing, but we wanted to push them a little bit to listen to some different music and we also wanted to bring people in who didn’t necessarily listen to Dirtybird music in to listen to ours….” – Royce
Dancing Astronaut got together with Walker & Royce prior to the two embarking on their Self Help tour to discuss the new work, the art of the album, its place in an industry driven by singles and EPs, happy accidents, and of course— the Dirtybird Campout.
Read our full interview with Walker & Royce below.
Congratulations, first, to you two on your latest single, the earworm-inducing “Rub Anotha Dub, ”which has admittedly been stuck in my head since its early September release. What was the process like passing along your unconventional track structure to Green Velvet?
[Walker] It was kind of like making a recipe without all of the ingredients, and then to finish it later. We sent him [Green Velvet] a bed, he sang over it, and we totally reworked it. It was one of the last tracks we finished for the album and of course, it was a lot of pressure. We didn’t want to let him down, to be honest.
He’s got to be a tech house hero of yours.
[Royce] Yeah. But with Curtis, or Velvet, it was a little hard for us to get him off the celebrity, DJ thing. I mean I grew up listening to him. He had a track in 1991 that I grew up listening to, or like when I went to the Junior High Dance. I used to breakdance to him. He’s somebody we’ve looked up to forever. Before we even started making music.
Had you thought of reaching out to anyone else for the track?
He [Green Velvet] was definitely the first person we reached out to for the album and he was definitely the last guy to turn in a vocal for the album.
What was the collaboration process like?
At first he was really into doing the collab but then things come up and it really looked like it wasn’t going to happen. But we played a festival with him in Mexico and Sam had gone back with him to the hotel after the gig and I had hung out with him for a bit and he said, “Look I really want to get on the album.” I said, “I’m going to text you three times a day until you send us a vocal.” He said, “ok do it.” And I did and we had a vocal a week later. It was a lifelong dream to collab with him, a career-long dream I guess you could say.
I noticed on the cover of the single as well as the forthcoming Self Help there’s a peace sign, a yin-yang, as well as an Om from the teachings of Hinduism— and that the two of you despite what some may gather from your track titles— have long incorporated elements of introspection into your music. Is this cover an outward testament to those beliefs in any way?
[Walker] The yin-yang perfectly encompasses our relationship. Gavin and I have this very complementary relationship where all the things I suck at he’s good at and vice versa. We need each other and fill in all the gaps that the other person is missing. As for some of the other things and coming from being DJs, our idea with production was to write music we thought was missing. This is our Self Help, we’re writing the music that we can’t find. No one’s writing this music so we’re going to have to write it ourselves. I go back to when progressive house got really stale and I was still into it but I felt like I ran out of records to buy. Of course, though, it’s a little bit open to interpretation.
How personal is this concept of self help for you two?
[Royce] It means a few different things. Its both us laughing at the idea of self help, but also as we’re getting older it’s also us embracing it. I mean I do yoga now. Years ago things we kind of laughed at we’re into now. It’s also very much an, ‘if you want something done right you gotta do it yourself, you gotta believe in yourself kind of thing.’ In this line of work, you have a lot of people who are like what are you doing with your life and you definitely have got to believe in yourself to get where you want.
[Walker] You have to push through it. Especially if everyone’s telling you it’s wrong, because at the end of the day only you know what’s right.
Sort of a testament to your own career.
[Royce] Yeah definitely
[Walker] The one thing I want to qualify though is that we don’t want to take credit for everything that’s happened. We’ve had a ton of support but at the same time, there has to be something to support, right? Really things have only taken a good turn in the past year or two. We’ve had some successes but nothing’s really caught on. During that whole time when we were ready to give up and throw in the towel before these opportunities started happening, I feel like it was especially important at that point that we believed in ourselves. We felt so isolated. There were people that liked what we did but it didn’t seem to be taking off.
[Royce] We had friends and family members hinting at throwing in the towel and definitely us thinking we should throw in the towel and we pushed through ourselves. It means a lot of different things and of course, the artist interpreted self help. We didn’t demand that any specific symbols be on there, but he incorporated it all in its own right.
Did you have an audience in mind when you were first working on the record?
[Royce] The album is definitely a dance album but it’s us taking a step towards expanding our fan base. Trying to reach different people. We’re not trying to make pop music but we’ere trying to have more vocals and we didn’t want this album to be just club banging tracks, or just like a 10 track EP. We wanted this to be a body of work that worked from beginning to end as something that people listen to in full and at home not just at dance clubs.
Keeping in mind that more and more tech house artists are becoming well known—Dirtybird‘s garnering more fans by the day—and the tunes are reaching more audiences than ever before, how are you two as Walker & Royce maintaining your unique essence as a duo, specifically on the new record?
[Walker] I think what works is that our sound fits in with Dirtybird, but it’s not what people think of when they think of Dirtybird. I think that’s what Dirtybird and Claude VonStroke likes about us.
[Royce] We do try to bring in a little bit of disco, or a little bit of techno, or a little bit of other things from time to time so it’s not just straight up bass house. And a lot of times the breakdowns are these little things which happen to come together accidentally so a lot of this stuff is accidentally put together. Happy accidents. You talk to any producer and they’ll know.
There’s so much beauty in that…Happy accidents.
[Walker] Exactly. Yeah. Even on a side note the last couple weeks I’ve been looking through Beatport trying to find music to round out our set. A lot of our set, especially the shorter sets of ours, we play mostly our own material. So we want to branch out from that and it’s tough to find stuff that fits in with what we’re writing. We’ve got a lot of friends and other producers that occasionally give us tracks and we like them a lot but in general, I feel like this weird disconnect with the stuff that I’m hearing. And I don’t know if that means that there’s sort of a weakness or an opportunity in the scene but I feel like that’s where we fit in…
I think of older tracks of yours like “Sister” on Moda Black or “A Perfect Sound” with Louisahhh that saw out your rise to where you are now and the full attention of Dirtybird. Those early tracks feel much more sonically open, even on your Justin Martin’s “Feels” reworking the tunes feel more instrumental, more indie if you will. You’ve appealed to such a wide spectrum of artists in dance music and your music has stylistically evolved so much. What type of sonic space are you aiming to occupy in your new music?
[Royce] Since this is an album we wanted it to be different. We talked even years ago about it.
[Walker] One of the guys I used to work with Dennis DeSantis said, “I don’t make music. I make machines that create happy accidents for me to make music with.” And so with that in mind, the writing process is not always direct for us. You have to just let yourself write what’s going to happen and if it turns out really well then great. We’re trying to create these moments. We want to create moments on the floor. That’s a guiding principle for us. We’re trying to create a setup and then a moment but how to do that is always shifting. We go in with an idea like here’s the vibe we’re trying to do and when we finally hit it we’re like ok save the project now from here we have to finish it.
And when did you first begin working on Self Help?
[Royce] January. We had one track done when we started.
[Walker] We had some unfinished material that wound up becoming some of the tracks on the album. Once people sang on them. Some of the songs came from the same project although they’re wildly different, where the writing process forks. So yeah the whole thing took about eight months.
Papa Claude [VonStroke] played a role in the record, which has definitely got to be a treat, how specifically was he involved?
[Walker] We would send the music almost straight away to him.
[Royce] It was his idea that we did it. I think us as artists if you’d asked us ten months ago, if we were ready to write an album, I would have said no.
[Royce] I would have been like yeah maybe another year. But he was the one that pushed for it and was like no I want you to do this and we were kind of like well I don’t know let’s think about it. He definitely was the one that pushed for it and as we talk about self help he was somebody that believed in us. So that was a huge confidence boost for us.
Did he A&R the album?
[Royce] Yeah. He’d tell us if this was good or if something needed to change. We thought about maybe collabing with him but if you notice on the album all the vocalists are features. That was kind of the line we drew early on. Instead of doing just a bunch of collabs we wanted this album to just be features.
[Walker] On that note too, the album gave us a bit of clout to pull in some really good vocalists. If you’re just doing an EP if you talk to someone that’s a really good singer maybe they won’t want to be interested, but because it was an album we got to tap into that. A lot of these things wouldn’t have happened without the album’s gravity.
But you two were the ones who chose the respective vocalists?
[Walker] Green Velvet definitely, and Dances Gavin goes way back with.
[Royce] We had actually meant to do something together for awhile and he actually was the first person to get vocals back to us.
[Walker] He turned them around in like two days.
[Royce] If you notice there’s two songs with him on the album.
[Royce] He actually wrote another song on the album. It’s his lyrics that we had somebody re-sing. So he really had three songs on the album.
[Walker] That guy is writing machine. If you give him enough beats, beds or demos he wants to get you like ten different songs in a day. “Take Me To Your Leader,” he only did one time through. He did it the first time through. We thought about having him do it again and he said no. *Laughs* He literally sang it that one time through and never sang it again. His voice is so good and it didn’t any reworking or re-singing. Everything was clearly intelligible through the speakers in a club.
What’s the name of the track he wrote?
[Walker] “Pass That” with JPatt on the vocals for it. Dances came up with the concept and JPatt is a really good friend of both of ours and also Dances.’JPatt’s in The Knocks who’re Brooklyn homies of ours. We had talked about collaborating with The Knocks for the album and it didn’t end up happening so I had JPatt sing that song and he was cool to do it.
Collaboration with The Knocks would have been incredible and I’m sure JPatt’s is alone, but that’s a nice direction.
[Royce] There’s a few collabs that didn’t happen that I think are gonna happen in the future. There’s a lot of stuff that’s coming out of this album. We have a couple songs that didn’t get finished the way we wanted that we’re gonna put on some other stuff and we have a couple of collabs that we wanted to make happen before that we’ll make happen here in the future.
[Royce] Yeah yeah a little exciting cause it’s like ok we didn’t get in the studio with those guys but we can still make it happen anyway because everyone wants to do it so that’s kind of cool.
How’s it been working with the entire Dirtybird Crew more recently? They’ve got to be like a family at this point.
[Walker] That’s exactly what it is. It feels right for us. It’s the one home where we fit in really well, we’re friends with everybody, and it really does feel like a family, as cliche as that can be. We’ve been involved in other labels and they just didn’t feel right like this one does. I definitely don’t think that we’re like the typical kind of Dirtybird artists but I think that’s also what makes it better.
Family Reunion, Dirtybird Campout coming up right in the middle of your Self Help Tour. What’s cookin’?
[Royce] We’re kind of debuting the album! We just confirmed, and you can announce this, that Dances With White Girls is “hosting” the set. Not MCing the entire time but he’s gonna perform a couple of the songs live during the set which is going to be really cool. He’s more than welcome to talk whenever he wants we told him during the set. *Laughs* I don’t think it’ll be too much though I don’t think he’ll be like “ok everybody put your hands in your air the whole time. But I think Campout is great because we’re a couple of guys in our thirties and festivals are fun but I can’t stand to be at a festival longer than a few hours even if it’s even a day. *Laughs* I’m old, there’s too much noise. What I love about the Dirtybird Campout is that there are all these other things to do to keep you kind of fresh. You don’t have to be in front of a speaker the entire time. People don’t have to be hammered, intoxicated the entire time. We’re going Thursday, so the night before, and staying until Monday. I’m excited as anything about it. I think it’s going to be fun. It’s the only festival I’ll do that for and I know maybe I’m biased but they create an environment that’s unreal. It’s different.
Anything special planned? To attain as intimate of a performance as you can, sort of akin to the festival ethos… removing the wall from artist and attendee.
[Walker] We’re doing a couple things. We have a couple events lined up, a meet and greet and there’s definitely going to be specific self help stuff lined up at the campout. As for our set, we want to touch everything. I want to get in there and make custom edits of everything. There are a couple tracks that aren’t the same bpm as everything else so maybe what we’ll do is sort of bring them up and make them a bit more energetic so everything works in between.
Old and new tunes?
[Walker] Well and that’s the other thing, you had mentioned “Sister” earlier and we hadn’t been playing that one in awhile so I want to go in there and throw in special edits of older tracks like that. Some of the older tracks are so far out from what we’re doing right now and not connected. But definitely, the stuff that started this whole thing like some of the Pets material we want to do something special, something memorable, and something where you can’t just go out and buy [it] yourself. The album’s out on October 20th so people won’t have the album by then.
Speaking more generally about the Self Help tour, what are some of the things you’re hoping to emanate?
[Royce] A couple of stops on the tour we have some extended sets so we’re hoping to really flex our DJ skills on the tour. We’ve headlined a lot of clubs are parties but this is also the first time we’re doing an actual tour. Getting into this, we were DJs first, and so for me the longer we have to play the better. I’m really looking forward to be able to play these parties and digging a little deeper. Not just playing the obvious tracks. Definitely showcase the album but also a lot of the music that we’re into, where we’ve come from. I love DJing so much so I’m excited for that.
What track, if you had to pick right now, that’s not your own would you have to throw in your circuit?
[Walker] That Justin Jay Time song. *Uuuuhh in unison* We both love it. We want to do a remix of it. I don’t know if that’s going to happen with all the other modifications of other tracks we want to do before the tour starts but hopefully, we can do something with it.
Looking at the album now in hindsight do you plan to do another down the road?
[Walker] Definitely. I almost prefer the album. In the immediate future we’ll probably put out some EPs and we have remixes that are set to drop but the album process is great. You sort of knuckle down and create a whole bunch of content. You create a lot of material for yourself to rework like we were just talking about. These album tracks can turn into other remixes which we can delve back into. Rework the vocal into a totally different remix and now we’ve got two tracks where one may really work on the dancefloor and the other’s different. It’ll just be a constant cycle. Maybe taking a breather once in awhile but not much…
Anything else you want to share about Self Help, the record or the tour?
[Royce] I have a goal of getting people to listen to Self Help from start to finish. The thing that made us most nervous about doing this is we definitely do not live in an album world. Everything is singles and EPs and I think that was a big risk that we had to decide to take. Like we were talking about earlier if you had asked me ten months ago if we were ready to write an album I would have said no because I don’t think we live in a world that album’s really exist anymore. When I was younger it was all about the album, and it’s really hard to get people to listen to things now that are more than a standout track so I’m hoping people listen to it start to finish because we’ve arranged it and the tracks in a way that make sense, at least to us. I also hope that the album does come back…
[Royce] We want artists to challenge themselves to do a body of work like this, and I feel like it made us write music that’s a little bit different than what we usually do. Like you said before, I think the material now has a different sound than what we’d done before and we didn’t necessarily purposely do that, we wanted to make this album about more vocals, but I think that forced us into a corner we’re releasing a bunch of tracks all at once and it kind of changes things. Our goal was to have people that aren’t just dance music fans listen to this album. Dirtybird has such a huge fanbase and they’re so amazing, but we wanted to push them a little bit to listen to some different music and we also wanted to bring people in who didn’t necessarily listen to Dirtybird music in to listen to ours.
Walker & Royce’s debut album Self Help is out Oct. 20 on Dirtybird. Find them on tour here.
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