Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you would have heard of Chris Stussy. Himself alongside Prunk have grown PIV to be one of the most globally recognised labels and parties in the industry at the moment.
Recently the artist has launched his Up The Stuss imprint with a 3rd release expected in April after EPs from the likes of staple names in the scene Fabe and East End Dubs. His recent ‘Take A Leap Of Faith’ on Constant Sound has really turned heads with it being a nod to the deeper side of his productions. We caught up with him for our Not So Serious series..
1) If you could choose any stage, festival, or a city (or all in one) to play your first gig after the lockdown, where would it be?
That’s a tough question. There are so many places that I love playing. I think it would be in Amsterdam. A ten-hour set at Thuishaven during the day as a ‘festival’ and then ending the day in a club setting… somewhere like Shelter, with one of the best sound systems we have in our country… Haha, sorry I was just daydreaming about being back in the booth for a marathon like that.
2) Without thinking, name your most memorable set – either yours or any one of your choice?
Loveland Kingsday 2019. What a day… I was super anxious before the set but I was also full of excitement. Thinking back to this day makes me think of ‘Fury’s Laughter’ by S.A.M. – I’ve never seen a crowd reaction like that and afterwards, my inbox exploded because of everyone who wanted to know the track ID… the rest is history! I’m getting goosebumps while I’m thinking about that moment again!
3) Can you recall the last vinyl record you played at home?
So Inagawa ‘Yours Sincerely’ on Cabaret Records. When I discovered this track a few years ago I knew I had to grab the vinyl. I was playing some records at home last week and closed with this track. If you have a soft spot for deep chords, this is your tune.
4) Making a track feels like…
One of the best feelings. Being in the moment, just create whatever you want, no boundaries. I even forget what time it is haha. I sometimes say to my girlfriend I’m coming home in 30 minutes and 2 hours later I’m stuck in the groove again…
5) I find inspiration in my hometown when I think of…
Travelling, being around friends, having a good time. Going to a good party where the music is amazing. Hearing new tracks from my friends, there’s a lot of stuff that inspires me really.
6) Favourite drink after (or during) a set?
7) I’ll never forget that time when…
You have to dig for hours and hours on Discogs to find a track that you’ve heard at a party the weekend before – it happens a lot so it’s hard to forget!
8) If you have to pick one rooftop for a 12-hour set, where would it be?
I would say in London. I love the vibe in the entire UK, I feel really comfortable testing out new tracks there. The crowd is always very open to new music, it’s a very educated crowd so to say.
9) You are trapped in the jungle and are waiting to be rescued with 10% battery on your phone. iTunes/Spotify/Soundcloud are all working offline, name three tracks to accompany your waiting…
Richard Earnshaw feat. Ursula Rucker & Roy Ayers ‘Rise’
Georg Levin, Clara Hill ‘I Got Somebody New’
Robert Glasper ‘What Are We Doing’
There are not many artists who manage to define a particular era in music, and there are even fewer who know how to evolve beyond such achievements and find other creative paths down which to travel. We caught up with one of industries finest to learn more about his new EP, sampling tips and much more…
Photo credit: Petronille Gontaud-Leclair
1) Thank you for joining us today. How are you?
– The pleasure is all mine and I thank you for the invite to speak. I’d like to think that I’m doing alright overall, considering the rather challenging and uncertain times we live in since last March. Although I must admit that the complete standby of performing arts events feels like an unforgiving cleaver for many artists, including myself, who made a living from touring. It’s definitely a major game-changer, but we’re in this together and I’m hopeful that we will overcome this situation in the end. Meanwhile, I’m taking things a day at a time, focusing on my family which keeps me grounded and helps me in embracing resilience.
2) I think it’s safe to say you are very selective with your releases and labels that you work with – how do you decide what labels are right for you?
– I wasn’t always selective, to be honest. I had my fair share of unfortunate experiences, which made me grow eventually more cautious and more selective over the years. When you’re a newcomer, it’s easy to succumb to the temptation of spreading fast by releasing on as many labels as possible. Which is understandable. But to be fair, I had more pleasant experiences as my career blossomed. Nowadays I don’t release much, but the labels I choose to release on are the ones that I feel understand where I’m coming from and where I wish to go. In the end, I just wish to collaborate with good and reliable people and feel like I’m part of something greater than just a commercial output, Perlon being the finest reference I could cite. When I met Thomas, Markus and Chris in Montreal in 2000, we became friends at first and then I had the wonderful privilege to become a part of this family of fantastic artists and very lovely human beings, which is Perlon.
3) Your new EP on Onysia Records is another fine example of your work In the studio, What did you use to produce it? – First off, collaborating with Joseph at Onysia was a true pleasure and I salute his generosity and kindness. Joseph gave me complete freedom, which is a rare thing these days when you deal with labels. What I found exciting was his sustained enthusiasm, which is very similar to mine when I started. Now, I rarely if never discuss gear, tools and tricks. I think every musician in their own right and for their own good has to figure out for themselves what works best for them. There isn’t one way to do things, and the most effective one will always be your own. We never ask kids to list the type of crayons, paint, paper and glue they used for tinkering in school. All I could suggest is, try out all sorts of stuff, never restrain your imagination, don’t think of the trends and just play around and have fun.
And I had fun recording this one.
4) Your use of samples in your work is some of the best in the game and so distinctive. Any tips for upcoming producers when working with samples and crafting their sound?
– Just be attentive and listen very carefully. Wherever we are in our daily lives, sounds surround us. The most insignificant noise can become a part of something beautiful and unique. Listen to them and what they are telling you. The art of sampling is partly intuitive and partly reflexive. In the end, you’ll figure ways to connect them and hear them converse.
5) It’s not very often you do interviews and you are very much famed for letting your music do the talking – do you think the media has become too much of a focal point around electronic music and artists?
I’m always glad to open up when I feel it’s relevant. Other than that I don’t feel the obligation to unnecessarily fill the corner of a page of some DJ magazine, to sell my mug, share my tricks and brag about my lifestyle, which isn’t very glamorous. I am as selective with journalists as I am with labels, and friends. The journalists I respected over the years have become friends. There is nothing wrong with the media becoming the focal point around electronic music and its players. What’s concerning is the focal point on the glitter rather than the music itself. I just despise the star rating, following and liking culture, and journalism in general which is validating and discrediting often without discernment. You’re either in the game or out of the game. Art is too personal to give it a thumb up or down. This is straight out of the Roman Empire playbook.
6) Back in your early years you were active in the scene in Montreal under many other aliases. What made you move to your Akufen sound?
– So much! An insatiable appetite for music, films and books. Years spent in art school, and most of all, a constant need for change. The idea primarily behind the Akufen sound was to work from my intuition and subconscious. It was also very much inspired by the “automatic writing” and “cut & paste” methods, which was developed by the surrealists, the beat poets and the automatists collective in Canada in the forties and fifties. These techniques have been at the centre of my creativity since as early as my childhood. I have fond memories of meticulously crafting large collages of pictures cut from magazines and working with double tape decks in my bedroom, rather than playing with other kids outside. It’s about creating an unpredictable, and unique sound environment, and a story which leaves more room for personal perception and interpretation as it unfolds. I believe that my generation was lucky as we came at a time when everything was possible, and people were ready and all ears. You could throw a Tito Puente piece in a set and the crowd would go nuts. Today, there are too many politics and laws to embrace in order to fit in. There are still some oddballs out there who amaze me, but the music sales business has made their music less accessible to the general public, sadly.
7) You’ve graced your presence at some of the world’s best clubbing institutions and have seen many changes in our industry and clubbing landscape over the years – where do you see it going from here, particularly with the current situation having such a significant impact on venues and promoters?
– I could not say honestly. We are all still in shock, trying to adjust to this new reality. Options and ideas will unfold as we start healing and getting our lives back to some kind of normalcy. The pandemic has put on the back burner all public music activities and I believe it will affect not only the scene but the music itself. I have a feeling that the music will evolve in unexpected and surprising forms, and it will be interesting to see how artists will adapt and overcome this situation. I for myself, don’t want to speculate much, I am not even sure that I will pursue my career on the road. I will, however, remain active as a musician, there is no doubt about that, but I’m contemplating other avenues such as film scoring, art installations in collaboration with artists from other fields. I might as well return to visual art and graphic design which I studied in school. It’s clearly a time for radical changes, and I’m hopeful we’ll figure something out. Having said that, we must not look back in nostalgia, because things will never be as they were. Clubbing or not, music will prevail, one way or another, and that’s what’s reassuring in a way.
8) Your live show is something which has brought a lot of attention. What is your set up for this and what made you want to move into a live setup?
– I’ll be bluntly honest, playing live is what puts bread on the table for most of us. I was able to feed and provide shelter for my family and send my kid to school with touring. I am overly conscient of the luck I had to be able to travel doing the greatest job. It had its flaws at times, but overall I can only be immensely grateful. I’ve always made it a priority to be as generous and available as possible for those who support me and who will sometimes travel miles to hear me. So performing is not only a way of making ends meet but also a responsibility and an act of loyalty. Night after night you have to leave the rest behind and give your best, no matter how tired or sick you may feel. We must never forget that without the record labels and club owners, the promoters, bookers, agents and the public we wouldn’t have the privilege of doing what we love most. As for my set up, there’s not much to brag about, I use a laptop, a soundcard and a couple of controllers.
9) To stay so relevant for so long takes a lot of drive and passion. How do you push yourself to achieve your goals and keep creatively motivated?
– I believe honesty and integrity were the main keys in remaining relevant, in my case. Being stubborn and uncompromising creatively comes at a high cost, but I agreed to pay that price at an early stage in my career, and I don’t regret it. I couldn’t live with myself otherwise. I rather enjoy a more modest success based on loyalty and which will last after I’m gone. What’s left of us, is what makes us immortal. Not in a glorious historical sense, but rather in a humble inspirational way, primarily for my daughter, and the generations to come. Not only as an artist but as a man of my times. No matter what you do, you got to have faith, you also got to have doubts, never take anything for granted, and be grateful for everything you got. I have to remain continuously.
Photo credit: Petronille Gontaud-Leclair
10) Where does 2021 take you? Do you have any new projects on the horizon you can tell us about?
In January, I launched “Ourway”, my new record label, introducing a first Akufen release which you can currently listen to and purchase online at Juno. The name of the label speaks for itself. I’m aware that starting a new label is a bit of a gamble right now, but I thought it was worth giving it a shot.
I finished recording the new Horror Inc. album last year, and I am in the process of discussing its release in 2021, on “Anoma”, a Montreal based label run by my buddy Ohm Hourani.
There is also a possible 20th Anniversary re-issue of “My Way” on the new label, but it has to be confirmed. As for the new Akufen album, it’s done, but I don’t see it happening until next year.
2021 isn’t gonna take us anywhere. We will have to take 2021 somewhere. Sadly, I had to let go of my studio when the pandemic started, and everything’s been sitting in boxes since July of last year. Relocalizing is complicated for now, but I have faith that I’ll find a new place when the social restrictions soften. As for now, all music work is on hold. Stay tuned, we will return after this pandemic.
For today’s talk, we’ve invited Wlad, 1/2 of the HedZup record label alongside his partner in crime Mancini. The Frenchies have built a solid label/family over the last years, affirming themselves as chiefs of one of the most respected labels in the deep and tech-house scene. In fact, HedZup has seen steady growth, releasing quality tracks from the likes of Fabe, Rich NxT, Toman, Chris Stussy, Tuccillo, Diego Krause, Josh Baker, Ray Mono and many more.
Hey Wlad, great to chat with you!
Hi guys, thanks for having me.
What would you say you have learnt about yourself during the lockdown?
I think it made me re-focus on myself. I had a lot more time to take care of myself, cook and call my family, my friends, even over long distances. In fact, I did not at all feel locked up as a bad thing. I am a great traveller, I have done 2 world tours and I really have this notion of letting go. I live in Paris which is a megalopolis and it’s easy to get into the rhythm of being frantic and not stopping for time for oneself. We must constantly run and outdo ourselves. So this period really allowed me to find what I have on a trip and especially to concentrate on music production and the label.
What has been the thing you have missed the most?
Of course, even if I didn’t really suffer from this confinement, being able to play music especially at parties outdoors was really strange. We have so many great terrasse in Paris to play. It was very nice and warm in Paris during the confinement. We also had several international label showcases postponed and especially the big come back of our famous HEDZUP party in Paris with Rossi, and DJOKO cancelled on March 14, day of official French lockdown 🙁
In your opinion, will dance music be very different or will it get back to normal after this?
Of course, it will return to normal. The music and the strength of people are stronger than anything. It is obvious that it will take time and that we will have to adapt. Personally I think it is a good thing because it allows you to surpass yourself. Always find new ideas. We must not wait, we must always innovate, it will make us even better.
Tell us about your hedZup label you run with Mancini – what is the sound, the vibe?
Originally, Mancini and I only made vinyl. Then we started to get known and get lots of great demos, we didn’t have enough space on a disc to put all the music we wanted to release. So we decided to start digital in September 2018. We are still keeping the format of our vinyl releases, 4 pieces per digital release. It’s quite difficult to give a real style to our label. Mancini and I release the music we like, and even if we have our own style of productions, we are in perfect harmony with the musical choices.
Do you want to build a label family and bring them all through with more releases or is it just about the music at the moment?
hedZup Records is all in one, label and family. Mancini and I went out a lot in clubs and other parties around the world. Every year in Ibiza, Sonar Barcelona, ADE Amsterdam. We build our network like that. We have lots of friends everywhere. We only look for friendships. So all the artists that release on hedZup become part of the family. If they become part of hedZup, it means that they still release on the label if the music is good and also play on the label showcases.
About your own new ‘Full Squad’ EP – what inspired or influenced it?
I want to tell you something, it is the very first time that I release a full EP on my label, so I’m quite happy! I was a breakdancer when I was younger and I come from a Blues, Jazz, Funk and Flamenco musician family. I play African percussions myself. So I always have a pretty funky and dancing touch in my tracks. I added a touch of sunshine too because it comes out at the start of summer. It must be my Mediterranean origins 😉
Is your music made for a certain club, moment, party? Are those things in mind when writing?
Definitely, I really love music make me dance, so I try and try always until I feel this dancing feeling. Because in this music when you producing one little element can change all the feeling of the track. So probably make more peak time music but this is not me has to say
How did you choose the remixer Rich NxT? What did you think he would bring, and did he?
I chose Rich NxT because I am a big fan of his music and of the Fuse London label. Rich has a good approach in his music and whatever the track is, it’s always a treat on the dancefloor. He already had great success on our vinyl part with his track “Come Alive”, so it is just a pleasure to have him again on the label. He is a very talented and busy guy and I really thank him to considerate to remix me on this EP. Big up mate x
What else have you got coming up?
I have a remix on Surge that we will release this summer and have my EP with Mancini with a remix by iO Mulen and our Parisian friend Djebali. We are working on the 5 year anniversary double vinyl with some amazing artists and my digital collab album. So many good stuff is coming this year on the label with some good surprises. Stay tuned, Wlad 🙂
George’s path has been something unbelievable: from his Premiesku venture (alongside fellow-Romanians Livio & Roby) to his current Floog project, this man has constantly researched for the sound that could most represent him from time to time, risking and developing a discernable “Floog’s stamp” of thousands of facets. In just one year he had releases on labels such as Mulen, Bleu Ciel, Hoarder, SCI+TEC, Atipic, GFD, QNQN, Croosed Grooves and Joule (Yoyaku) and also on his own FLG label. His sound, filled with catchy melodies and groovy hooks, results to be the perfect crossover of Romanian minimal with a more dancefloor-oriented house and techno. Over the years, Floog’s tracks have been played by the likes of Apollonia, Petre Inspirescu, Raresh, Livio & Roby, Priku, Sonja Moonear, Sammy Dee, Dubfire, Seth Troxler, Ryan Crosson, Shaun Reeves and Tini. George is also famous for his live performance, using drum machines, analog synths, a small modular rig and a bunch of controllers, his set being energy-oriented, melodic, alternating raw sounds with a more minimalistic approach, having a lot of improvisation moments were artist feels is right for the audience and the type of venue.
We know you both for the splendid productions and for your live exhibition. Tell us more about going live rather than a regular DJ set (as Floog and as Premiesku).
In the begging when I met Livio & Roby I had interest just into making music and didn’t think about the performing side for about 2 years, then in 2005 when I had my first project with them (called Monochrome) we have chosen to perform live cause that was more or less our approach from the studio. Indeed in 2009, I tried to be a DJ/collector for about 6 months but it was clear that was not my thing, I was not attracted about staying all day on Skype with people, on Beatport to dig for music, making folders and CDs etc, I rather wanted to spend that time in the studio and making music and building something from scratch.
My opinion about this is that everyone has a way of express artistically and the art of DJing and a live act are quite different approaches regarding performing music, you just need to feel “in your shoes” when you do it and personally I feel that when I play live my own compositions and improvise.
Your early career started as George G, which also is the moniker you’ve used with the Premiesku project. How difficult is to change alias (into Floog) after such a successful one? And what does “Floog” mean?
Both George G and Floog represent each a part of my musical journey, let’s say Floog came naturally as another chapter, a new challenge and new sound territories. Back in 2012 when I met my actual wife, one day on an afterparty we played with our first names – Florentina and George, and we came with FloG and after we google it to see by curiosity if this makes any sense we had a lovely surprise cause we found this meaning for Floog word on the Urban Dictionary: “Floog” is a connection between two people who share a bond much stronger than “like” or “love”. Those who are in floog experience something that the vast majority of people are never lucky enough to have”. So in 2017 when I was looking for a name for my new project this was the first and only option 🙂
Going even further back in time, what was your first contact with electronic music?
Actually it’s a funny begging for me, it was in 1983 and I was six, we were on the communist times when access to music was really hard in Romania and my father was a collector of classical music vinyls. The source of the vinyls mostly was from a guy that brought them illegally from Bulgaria and one day he mixed up the vinyls with someone else and by mistake, we got in the package a vinyl with Kraftwerk – The Man Machine. I was immediately intrigued by the cover of the vinyl and when I played the first track (The Robots) I was totally blown away by the sounds on it! That was something I’ve never heard before! Then, after the ’90s, when access to music was finally free, I realized that I was so lucky to discover and hear the godfathers of electronic music so early!
Are you still working w/ Livio & Roby as Premiesku?
Yes of course, actually we had some studio sessions into Roby’s mountain vila before the epidemic crisis and we started choosing tracks for our next Premiesku album.
Talking about collaborative projects, we know you and Mahony have been cooking some stuff together over the last couple of years. Are you working on more collabs?
Yes, I have a few into the pipeline, one of them being a release with Priku that will see the light after summer.
Tell us about the Joker005 you did with Mahony, which has been one of the most requested IDs in 2019. How the idea was born?
Mahony came with this idea and initially, I thought that was almost impossible to come with something cool due to the melodic intensity of the original track 😀 but in the end, we found a way to make it fit with our sound 🙂
What about your own FLG label?
I launched my own FLG label back in 2018. Since then, I’ve only made 3 originals EP and all of them gone really well. I’ve always been in favour of the “quality over quantity” motto. This year I will start another label with my dear Mahony specifically for our sound and also a sublabel for FLG will see the light, more info about after the summer!
Is there a label that you’d like to release on? And why?
There are a lot of really interesting labels these days but I don’t think I want to chase any when a track is good for a certain label it’s attracted like a magnet 🙂
We’ve seen some great tools in your studio! What’s your favourite one?
I’d say the 0-coast by Make Noise, it’s a lovely semi-modular synth and does wonders both in the studio and live. Highly recommended!
Why is the Romanian scene so lively and forward-thinking? Do you think it will continue to be a point of reference even after this COVID emergency?
Many things come to my mind: one important thing is that Romania had a gap of freedom and access to music till 90’ and then when big DJ names came here we had a lot of enthusiasm and joy for electronic music that naturally was translated also to local DJs, producers and passionate. I think you can actually hear that enthusiasm translated into this music 🙂
Nevertheless, our roots are also important, being a Latin country surrounded by different other types of cultures it had a great influence as well.
Also, another important factor, from my point of view, was the “innocence” of the producers, many of them didn’t have as reference old skool music (in particular) and also most of them are not musically trained, they just made/make music by “filtering” the sound they heard in their surroundings and that was mostly in Romania, so that was like a “feedback” coming back to the music scene and making it very evolving but in a certain sound range.
Yes, I dare to say scene will continue like this, musically speaking; like how we call now some particular styles “Berlin sound”, “Chicago house”, “Detroit techno”, “UK garage”, also this wave of minimal electronic music will have the “Romanian stamp” on it, even tho I have to admit that there are a lot of great producers coming from many other parts of the world that add amazing value to this music.
What’s gonna be the opening track that you will play at your very first show when clubs will finally open again?
It’s a track that I’ve made during this crazy period called “Pale Blue Dot”. It’s about our home, the planet Earth, that we need to love and take care of more than ever now.
Since its inception, PIVhas brought a unique and recognizable sound to the music world. The Dutch collective’s first release dates in November 2015. Since then, their output has been exceptional, delivering bomb after bomb by blending the most delicate and lush deep house sounds with the modern tech-house grooves. The PIV-sound has flooded every club, festival and Spotify playlist since. Among the artistic gems of Chris Stussy (A&R) and Prunk (founder), the label has released sublime tunes from the likes of Toman, DJOKO, ANOTR, The Willers Brothers, S.A.M. and many more, establishing itself as one of the leaders in the scene. Their success is partially explained by an outstanding crew dedicated to making the PIV brand bigger and better every day. Today, we hear from Kevin, one of the cornerstones of the infamous crew, who will tell us what’s behind of PIVand the latest People Invited mix series.
The name is an abbreviation of People Invited. As a funny side note, it’s also VIP spelt backwards, which basically sums up the meaning of our brand, which is based on inclusiveness.
Where do you think PIV’s success comes from?
Not easy to say, because it has to do with many factors. First, we hope of course because the people out there feel the same way about the music we release as we do ourselves. Then second, all the people behind the label are present and active in the scene. What we mean by that is, our team draws experience from both sides of the spectrum, as our collective consists of artists performing live and people who are more engaged in the crowd. Thirdly, our brand identity has been consistent with a recognizable output in our artwork and finally, we have been fortunate that a lot of our affiliated artists have developed their careers into different directions. The synergy between label and artist has played a big part in that way.
Was there a turning point into your rise to the top?
Not really. For us, we never really viewed it that way. It’s more like an ongoing journey. When we first started the label, we just wanted to be a platform that was a source for quality house music, as we really feel it’s a cultural legacy that has been left to us by previous generations. As time progressed, we started noticing more artists and upcoming producers, who were starting to feel attached to our philosophy. As a lot of these affiliated artists started progressing their careers while staying attached to the label’s identity and it helped both the label and the artists grow in their own way.
Which are in your opinion the 3 most significant tracks released on PIV so far?
We can’t get around Chris Stussy – Evening Drive, that has been #1 on all deep-house charts for so long. For the rest, we would like to let everyone decide for themselves 🙂
When we noticed a lot of events were being cancelled because of the circumstances, we reached out to artists that have released or played with us including some upcoming artists we have been following for a while now. We set a deadline and everyone who was on board at that time was included for the series.
What is the common point of all these artists?
It’s a collection of renowned and more upcoming artists from different sides of the music spectrum we represent. Some of them are more deep-house influenced, some a bit more minimal tech and some just plain club performers. We like the variety of it.
Prunk b2b Menado: will there be more of these unexpected b2b?
Perhaps there will still follow a few more. It’s always nice to come together like that creating some unique sessions.
Are there other artists that you would have liked to involve in People Invited?
Yes many more, but unfortunately we had to draw the line somewhere on the deadline date.
The PIV brand/label saw an unstoppable rise last year. With this “corona” tough moment going on, do you think that this will slow down your plans?
We think everyone in the scene will be affected by this with so many events cancelled already, but also in times like this, there are opportunities to analyse plans for the upcoming year ahead. We are in the fortunate position to be a flexible organisation, so, for now, we just focus more on running the label and as soon as the bans are lifted we can plan ahead for events again.
Will there be more initiatives against the quarantine/stop of parties from you?
Like mentioned above, it’s a good time to review your strategy and to make sure all the things are running smooth with the label, this podcast series was the least we could do for now and for the rest we just keep releasing music to hopefully make peoples time at home a little less stressful. We would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone the best and send our sympathy for everyone thas has been affected by this.
Half Is Enough is a Romanian artist collective based in Bucharest that focuses on delivering forward-thinking music and has now decided to create a new brainchild: Introspections. The launch of the new imprint arrives and with their first release, Luna. The album’s first and homonymous track is no other than a collaboration by Priku and Dinu, a delicate and thoughtful downtempo masterpiece which serves as the common thread for the release. The name Luna alludes to the mysterious allure of nighttime. ¨Luna¨ means moon in Spanish and Italian, a name that truly evokes a nocturnal ambience and elegant tension apparent as well in the album artwork. Sublee and Lizz are on remix duties and deliver a perfect closure to the work as a whole.
The Luna EP is a perfectly balanced yet edgy, three-track recording that showcases the original work by Priku and Dinu, which directly contrasts and complements the latter reinterpretations. The original version of Luna takes form as a downtempo song, with swinging jazzy instruments, improvising piano melodies along with, syncopated percussions and subtle atmospheric electronic sounds. While, Sublee adds a very smooth yet dynamic twist to the piece, driving you on a highway to a deeper sound realm, perfect for any dancefloor. Lastly, Lizz takes on a more progressive approach which keeps the listener moving back and forth. The release clearly expresses a unique sense of intimacy, as an experimental take on minimal and dancefloor music. Introspections is a label and concept, that allows for artistic freedom and then takes form as deeper reinterpretations upon the dancefloor to complete the circle. This is what Introspections is all about.
To remark the occasion, we invited Sublee for an interview to hear his personal thoughts on the release and his production in general.
How was working on the remix of such a totally different track?
It was very inspiring, I love working on downtempo/experimental tracks and approach them in my style.
Do you feel more comfortable to approach on downtempo/experimental tracks like this or a “regular” 4/4?
I feel comfortable approaching the mood, the momentum, so I enjoy working on both themes the same, as a producer. Also when remixing, it is about feeling the track no matter its style and of course feeling I can bring something there.
What do you think of the overall concept of “Introspection? Would you like to provide “A-side” stuff too?
This approach is like a multiverse. Sounds morphing into something else, transcending genres, music taking shapes and states of self.
Sometimes I do this myself, a track in both interpretations. Since long I work on experimental/ambient projects so I would be happy to share some introspections.
Which are the original stems that inspired you the most while working on the Reinterpretation?
I love the whole vibe of the track and I think all the elements have their role in this composition. For me, the most inspiring were the jazzy percussions, the bass and of course the piano.
Do you think that with this lockdown/studio days producers will release more of this kind of unusual stuff?
I think in this situation that we are now having time to experiment more will lead for sure to some amazing and unusual ideas.
Have you dedicated yourselves into more activities aside from music production during this lockdown period?
I worked on my schedule, diet and tried to rest better and train more because it was a long period of playing music every weekend and I really needed some time out. Also having time to spend every day with my son and my wife makes this period overwhelmingly beautiful.
Your tracks always sound so gentle but at the same time, they work great on the dancefloor. What do you think it’s your secret to have this perfect balance?
The secret is listening again and again and again.
What’s gonna be the first track that you will play at your first gig after this pandemic situation?
John Tejada – Soft Spread
Will see how I will feel then. I really hope that will happen soon because I miss dancing and people a lot.
Words by Daniel Ordoñez / Interview by Francesco Quieti
Please could you introduce yourselves to our readers who may not be aware of what you do?
We are a collective of musicians that perform live and improvised techno and related influences using classic drum machines and synths, stringed instruments and vocals.
Playing mostly at clubs, raves and warehouse parties we have released three physical records and a few digital-only releases as well as some full improvised live sets over the last 5 years.
Last year we toured in India and had our first tour in Europe where we played at the Fusion Festival as well as Berlin Clubs etc. We have played extensively in NYC and on the U.S. East Coast with emphasis on underground warehouse parties as well as certain clubs we have really connected with like Flash in Washington DC, Mono in Mexico City and the now-closed Output in NY.
How did the three of you first meet? What made you decide to team up as a band?
We met in college about 15 years ago. Since then we have collaborated with each other in various functions and formations. Our love for electronic music, parties and improvised music brought us together to form N/UM in 2015. It started with jam sessions with electronic gear and evolved into this project that is very dear to us and has brought us to so many places and is making people happy through music. For years we were all very focused on improvisation, mostly through the jazz idiom because this is where the improvisation game was mostly confined to or at least was strongest in that realm. However, we always had a feeling that there was a need to break with the set and settled stylistic traits, the defined sound and general approach in musical interaction that the jazz tradition always seems to carry with it. This holds true even though we all have a deep love for Jazz still and in fact, still do a lot of our work in the jazz world. We also often go out to let ourselves soak in the music from the incredible scene that continues to exist in our city for jazz. There are a lot of amazing artists that really push the boundaries of the style. Starting N/UM was a way for us not to keep pushing the limits of the style but rather leave the style all together while keeping the sensibility and notion of a kind of musical telepathy which the history of jazz has brought to such a high level of development.
Band members tend to have more clearly defined roles. How do you split up your responsibilities? Does each of you bring specific skills to the table?
For the most part, it is very even. Of course, musically we all bring a very personal style and taste to the table. It has been very interesting and rewarding to combine them into a cohesive whole that is bigger than its parts. Since Jeremy is an incredible engineer, he is doing the mixing and mastering (with input from Emil and myself). I feel when one of us makes a particular connection or gets passionate about a certain thing they might take the lead on that. Many of the skills needed to play in this very interconnected and technologically complex context we had to learn together as we went along and bit by bit developed our setup and technique to what it is now. It continues to evolve and change as continually experiment and as we change as humans and as musicians, learn and gather inspiration. It all goes into a process.
Can you tell us more about your live set? Which equipment do you use and why?
Elias: Our live sets are totally improvised. We tried in the beginning to recreate ‘tracks’ that we liked, but we found out that the pure improvisation feels most alive and groovy. There is something really beautiful about having an experience with an audience that is totally original and in a way not repeatable. You had to be there!
I’m playing mostly guitar that I feed first into a 2 track looper that then goes into two different effect chains. One effect chain is the guitar sound processed with pedals like Red Panda’s Particle and Tensor, a freeze pedal, an octave pedal, delays, reverb and a Frostwave Resonator Filter pedal. The other effect chain is a Meris Enzon guitar synthesizer with an Erika Acidbox III filter pedal and a delay. Since the loop is before the effect chain, once I have set up a loop I can freely use my hands to extensively morph the sound with the effects. The two tracks are completely independent. Everything gets clocked by a master clock.
Jeremy: I use mostly 3 drum machines, the Roland Tr-909, I love playing it!! it sounds incredible on big systems, it’s very playable as an instrument. it’s an absolute classic, the same as a guitar player would cherish their vintage fender guitar. the second one is an analogue drum synth of any sort that I trigger with the 909, usually the Simmons SDS or UDS Marsh (it’s a vintage Russian drum synth) I love drum synths because I can make them sound however I want on the fly, I can turn a snare sound into a Hi-Hat, percussion or bass drum in a matter of seconds, it helps to have instruments that are dynamic in a free improvised setup. And the last one is the Elektron Octacapture, I use this mainly as a sampler, I have a collection of samples that I like to warp change reprogram, it gives me a more organic texture to the beat.
Emil: I use a wide variety of analogue synths, mostly clocking with cv in one way or another to control oscillators or filters in order to connect rhythmically to the rest of the trio. We always joked that we are three people playing one instrument. Of course, there are actually many units that go into the chain but the connectedness of the rhythm that drives the majority of our sound and the ways in which the instruments affect each other very strongly gives this feeling of one big instrument. In addition to synths, I use my voice a lot. I use looping and effects on both synth and voice to be able to layer elements and carve out fleeting soundscapes that can form either the thematic basis or a sort of ambient background for what sometimes is in the end perceived as songs or “tracks”. We never have any songs going into the improvisation but when things are flowing they appear out of the moment.
You’ve shot a video set in the mountains around Ri Kynjai, Lake Umiam in Northern India. Can you give us a little insight as to how the idea came about and why you settled on that location?
As mentioned earlier we were touring in India in early 2019. We performed at the ‘Nowhere Is Here’ Festival in Shillong on New Year’s Eve. The father of the festival organizer is the incredible architect Prabhat Dey Sawyan, who built Ri Kynjai. We spent some afternoons there and were mesmerized by the beauty of the architecture and nature. We had some free days and our friend and musician Hammarsing Kharhmar and his brother Larsing Ming Sawyan, who curated the festival, helped us to set it up.
The breathtaking surroundings in India were so inspiring, we felt the need to document our time there and to make an artistic testimony in some way out of our experience there. The 3 of us sat down and discussed if it was possible to realize or not, somehow everything quickly fell into place with the help of the organizers and their amazing community.
Can you tell us about who directed it and how you hooked up with them?
The video was shot and edited by The Hillspeople, a local video collective that also shot some videos for the festival. They were great! They had a team of just three people and made everything very seamless and focused. We had very little time to make the shoot happen and they were incredibly good at what they were doing so it was easy for us to just focus on taking in the scenery and the immense solemn energy of the place and give our best shot at turning it into music.
It looks like the location posed some unique challenges for a live set – how difficult was it to get set up for the shoot?
Well, we have the luxury of needing mostly power and speakers apart from the equipment that we bring ourselves. So once we had that setup, it was no problem for us to play. For the camera people, it was a little more difficult, since they had to film multiple angles at once and figure out on the fly (literally) how to stay out of each other’s shots.
As your performance was fully improvised – how much do you think the environment influenced the music?
Very much. Nature and architecture, as well as the fact that we were playing the three of us without an audience, influences the music immensely. I think it is definitely more relaxed and chill than what we play at 6 am in a dark warehouse. That is the beauty of improvisation that all these factors as well as how you personally feel that day combine into something new.
And did the thought that it was being filmed make you approach it differently?
Not much. We try to focus on the music. That is always paramount.
Some would say this is a bit of a dream location, but what would each of your actual dream locations be?
Emil: I think our dream location is really wherever open-minded people are willing to suspend expectations and run along with our risk-fueled approach to musical performance. It goes hand in hand with a culture that celebrates experimentation and alternative ways of thinking and realizing ideas over prefabricated, neatly packaged and marketed experiences.
Elias: The advantage to playing in a great club or festival (which we are fortunate to do in many places) is that the sound system is great, which is very important especially when you’re improvising, and that you get so much energy and feeling from the people who share the experience with you. The connection with the audience is the most amazing thing about playing music. But since we mostly need speakers and power I always had this dream to improvise in some unusual settings and places. Maybe a forest, in the mountains, in an old abandoned building… I think the vibe we would get from these locations could lead to some very interesting music.
Jeremy: The dream location for a party is not really about the location, but more about the people, the vibe, the decor the sound system and setup of the place, it could really be anywhere, the location can help to make a moment even more memorable but It’s even better when you get surprised by it!
Can you tell us about what’s next for N/UM? Anything you’re particularly working on?
We had a tour planned in Europe again this summer, but those plans are postponed for now for obvious reasons. We did two lengthy recording session where we spent days in the studio earlier this year, which yielded a lot of material that we are looking forward to putting out. We are going through that right now to decide what and how to release it. We also have some recordings from 2019 that we still have to release, which will be around the summer or early fall. Right now we are also trying to figure out if we can play remotely and somehow push the latency of streaming to each other to such a low level that we could perform being in different places. That would be quite fantastic but it has proven difficult with the complexity of the connections we have going. We’ll see if we manage in the coming weeks. We are working on another video project as well. This time in a very different way where we will not be in the video ourselves but instead have some very talented animators and film wizards work with their own creative freedom to form a visual world to merge with a recording of ours.
The current times are quite dark and in many ways tragic. The mood here is unusually heavy for NY, being that we are currently the centre of the crisis and don’t have much of an end in sight. We are doing our best to stay productive through and do enjoy the time allowed for introspection and seeking new inspiration and knowledge in books, films and music that we would not otherwise have time to delve into so deeply. That said, we cannot absolutely wait to be back out in the night playing together again surrounded by the irreplaceable force that is the energy of people, gathering around music and the collective experience.
Our best wishes to everyone. Stay safe and stay strong.
You are very prolific but do you ever have times when you don’t have inspiration and ideas? Do you still go into the studio and try and force it?
First question, yes. Second question, not anymore. I just came out of a little writer’s block and I learn more and more how to deal with that. It’s essential to put the focus on results (tracks) aside. This could lead to a change in my workflow. I could get rid of something that bothers me and messes with my workflow or add something new. The last option is the one I prefer the least as GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) is a serious threat to creativity and can lead to unhappy feelings and restless behaviour. I know rationally that I could spend 2 lives learning and making music with my current gear. Emotionally I’m hungry for more and allow myself a gear snack every now and then.
Sound design is the best activity when stuck in a writer’s block or similar situation. You should force yourself to really delve deep into the equipment you have. For example, in my head I sold my Analog Rytm 5 times, now I rediscovered it because I started using it solely with my own produced drum kits. If things bother you, don’t use them or use them in another creative context. Organising my samples and presets is always a good activity, it’s very rewarding. Most of the time I’m stuck searching for suitable timbres and going through a heap of crap that I don’t use or sounds like a mediocre preset. Get rid of that.
Another trick to get inspired is “the new context with one piece of equipment approach” and letting go of the resulting focus, just messing around. If this doesn’t work, I just start working on other things besides music and audio. You need to clean your head then. Inspiration comes from tools but also from boredom.
To be honest, I was always a very unhappy person when I didn’t finish productions, It was addictive, I was really addicted to making tracks. I learn more and more to let go and find different ways of getting satisfaction. Sound design is the way to go, it’s just an endless inspiration. The problem in the studio nowadays is not “what you use”, but “what you don’t use”, especially in the world of software.
How is life in lockdown for you? Are you locked down?
When you are a lab rat studio guy like me, life in lockdown ain’t different. It scared me a bit when I came to this conclusion but after a while, it eased on me. All social pressure is now reduced to a minimum. I see people freaking out, not knowing what to do with their lives once they don’t have work… I don’t have that at all. I can be creative in a relatively small space, I was able to do so in my entire youth.
Now is time to connect with your loved ones as well. What freaks me out is that people use this world pandemic catastrophic situation for their own PR benefits. When doctors are saving the lives of the vulnerable and even healthy people, certain creative individuals are more afraid of losing their self-centred moment of attention for a weekend or two. Don’t get me wrong, it’s bad for everyone, club scenes, companies, self-employed people including myself who see all their income disappear in the coming months, it’s a disaster alright. It’s time to unite and support each other, with real hopeful initiatives. But yes, people try to survive.. 3 days in, I already saw labels and artists begging for money on their PayPal accounts from their fanbase. I would stay a bit more reserved, to be honest. I say this whole situation is a big wake up call if you’re not ill and have time to overthink life at least. We still don’t have any idea how long this situation will last. Many will be forced to re-invent their lifestyles, jobs and god knows what more for some time… It’s a test for people and I think nature receives it with loud enthusiasm. You see that society is still running for the most essential labour, this period already made me realise how much unnecessary luxury elements society holds. People with real essential jobs should get all credit right now. We still have groceries and fresh tap water.
How was the year before this broke out? What had been good for you?
For my musical career, things started to finally get a little better again. I had some good shows, one specifically at Tresor at the start of the year. I started picking up the DJ’ing stuff again and got rid of my screen, it felt good to do that. Gig wise however I think this scene has become a total rat race and not something I initially signed up for. You need a long breath to stay in, is my conclusion, especially if you’re not hot and happening.
Consistency is worth very little in a world where people are continuously addicted to the “NEW” stuff. Tendencies come and go faster than ever, I have a hard time to keep up with it. I learn more and more to focus on my own bubble, favourite artists and interests. One can only do that in times of total overkill.
Starting more sound design orientated projects was a good decision and gave me new energy, in the near future I also want to start doing online classes and finish writing my own tutorials about music inspiration, creativity and not so much the technical side of production. Currently, I’m developing this. Production-wise I had a long period of disinterest in making tracks so I forced myself to do other things like sound design, making patch libraries, recording loads of samples and organising my workflow.
Tell us about your new album ‘Manifold’ for 20/20 Vision – what inspired it, was there an aim for it from the start?
There was no intention to do an album actually. I had an album ready, something more downtempo and experimental but that was not suitable for 20/20 Vision. This is still in progress and will see the light of day soon. I made so many individual tracks in a short timespan when I got my hands on a Korg Monopoly. I sent this folder to 20/20 as a second option for EP’s, they were blown away by the tracks and said that it was perfect to release this as an album.
I had no intention in doing a DJ friendly electro album as I think there should be more variety on an album. I changed my opinion on that along the way and came to the conclusion that tracks worked really well together and formed a consistent piece. Hence that it was made in the same time period so things tend to have certain similarities.
Actually a completely new album was born out of a second folder with more beat orientated electro tracks, and then Ralph Lawson and I then made a selection. The title stands more for having different elements in one. It’s how I always like to approach albums, with a certain diversity but still coherent. That is always the challenge. Nothing highly conceptual this time, the focus is still more focussed on moods rather than distorted beats.
What gear did you use, is there a fav bit of kit that really defines your sound?
I would say that gear is not defining my sound, it’s always shifting. Your reference to sound quality is the most important. I always say: analog ears, digital production.
Lately however the Elektron Digitone (sound-wise my favourite Elektron gear) and the Korg Mono/Poly I also worked a lot on the super cheap Roland JV1080/2080. It sounds very lush and warm for pads, strings and anything atmospheric. It’s crazy how a piece of old digital equipment can still sound better than a 2019 VST plugin that is supposed to have the same functionally.
I was so motivated to program a full sound library for the JV1080 with mostly pads and ethereal sounds. A few weeks ago this was published at Gumroad.com/Conforce People can use my patch library now and make music with that.
Another thing I started to invest in is making my own drum-kits. I always struggle with drum sounds, I got really bored with all Roland drum sounds. Even my precious 808 is collecting dust. I decided it was time to make analog synthetic drum sounds myself on various synthesizers. It is a work in progress but I managed to already record several kits with the SH09, Nord Drum and Mono/Poly. It is a good way to learn your synth.
How do you work – do you just jam and record the sessions then edit them into tracks, or do you write parts or?
I never write down ideas and I never spend time writing down melodies before going into the studio. I love to do things on the fly and get in “the zone”, most of the time tracks just arise out of sketches or simple ideas where you’re messing around with a plugin or piece of gear. My way of working is very simple, when I’m playing with the outboard gear I just record all those on separate tracks. Sometimes the tracks are instantly done.
Another way of working is pre-recording all elements from your equipment into loops and then doing a live take on a mixer after you recorded the elements. After that comes post-production but I’m the type that already works on his mix during the production process… Before I wasn’t doing that. I was too impatient alright, now I have more patience and spend more time on my mixes. It’s a process that sometimes freaks me out and drives me insane. Especially bass drums.
When I’m producing fully in the box it’s sometimes very easy to get things done, it’s convenient but not always the most pleasing sounding result. I like the hybrid approach I guess. Use the best of both worlds. I take time to finish arrangements or takes.
Why did this one come under Versalife and not any other alias of yours?
I feel it instantly in the studio when it’s a Versalife mood, it’s just all about machine funk I think. Broken beats with evil bass and sometimes a certain melancholy. Some tracks are more retro-esque and others have a more contemporary edge to it. I would say Versalife is a certain mode. It’s really a switch in my head, I can’t really explain it properly but the music does so I think. I try to push myself with new technology and equipment to stay inspired. The character of an album changes with every new one but at the base, there will always be a Versalife soul.
My last Conforce album saw me adopting some of the influences from other projects but I think that is just a good development, meaning I’m getting closer to my own sound and not imitating other artists too much. Not saying that is a bad thing. Cross-genre stuff is the most interesting for me.
And how did it land on 20/20? What was it like working with them?
I found it to be a very easy going work process. Ralph Lawson works fast and was on point, at the same time you work on something highly creative but you also know it’s a business thing. I think we connect well in both worlds at the moment. I trust strongly on my intuition and feel Ralph is also allowing that with the music selection. His enthusiasm is much appreciated and I am a quick worker so all goes well. I can’t lean on projects for weeks or months, I lose my attention and interest. They are a dedicated bunch of people at 20/20. As a teenager, I was buying records from this label. I like their open approach to pure electronic music.
At the same time, they don’t put any restrictions on what I’m doing, I take their advice and suggestions seriously. Labels like 20/20 have a quality value for me, they know the biz model and also how to properly release an artist album. It’s not an easy market today for the type of niche music we’re doing right now. So far they do an excellent job.
What did you learn about yourself or how did you challenge yourself with this album?
I think it was an out of the box challenge, I would say that 80% is all produced out of the box and later slightly post-produced. One of the centrepieces on the album was a recently bought Korg Monopoly. It’s always interesting when there is new gear, you are completely fresh and start at zero. It’s really an interesting moment where you should record as much as possible. I have this mostly with outboard stuff, you invest in it, it grabs you or not and when it does you just want to get the maximum sound potential out of it and search for the real sweet spots. A lot of the tracks use this synth in a variety of contexts resulting in grumpy fat bass sounds, arpeggios, weird effects. I discovered this synth is really a great all in one electro machine, I could produce with this only. I even made a complete electronic drum kit on it and recorded that separately. If you force yourself to stick to once piece of equipment, that is where you start pushing and become pretty creative. I’m easily lost in a computer most of the time, thinking what to do, the options are endless…. It’s great if there is some hyperfocus.
What will be the first thing you do when the lockdown is over?
Visit some family mostly, get a big fix of nature and play a couple of previously cancelled shows after that. Hopefully, if they get rescheduled… I think I miss the musical interaction and social aspect of the touring artist life a lot. Things start to become linear at some point.
What else have you got coming up/are you working on?
I have been really productive in the last months on several free projects, the base is there for let’s say 2 new albums. Also, I had a good run in the studio again as Versalife during the self-isolation period. All I need to do however is make selections and look for the final pieces of the puzzle. A lot of sketching was done and it’s a matter of doing the takes. Hopefully, it results soon in a new Severnaya ambient LP, I’m still not 100% satisfied.
Besides music I’m very active with an online wine magazine together with my girlfriend, it’s called winemugs. We write about consumers, producers and all who love to spread a bit of the joy of life. We make articles, portraits and produce educational videos with a twist.
We often hear talking about how the European scene has been rapidly caught by the ro-minimal sound but how is America adapting to this movement? Miami-based Lulla is surely one of the leading acts to this new wave of producers. He has established himself release after release, seeing his tracks played on the biggest stage by the likes of Priku, Raresh, Janeret, Triptil, Vlad Arapasu, Nu Zau, Bernat, Cosmjn and Ted Amber to name a few. His trippy and cosmic vibes, certainly unusual for what is the American reality, are also shared through his successful Cedesciu Wax label which has released tracks by Robert Apetrei, Sonohat, Macarie and Lulla, confirming himself as one of the most interesting names in the US panorama.
How’s the scene in Miami?
We actually have quite a good selection of events and venues that curate a minimal aesthetic, we have a very interesting scene that goes back many years with events like the Winter Music Conference every March; its easy to see names from all over the world concentrated here for a few weeks!
Best parties in Miami?
The Un_Mute collective does a great job at bringing quality artists year-round, we are quite lucky to have such a well-curated selection of artists on a weekly basis. just last December we had artists like Ion Ludwig, Suciu, Sit, Sepp, and Varhat to name a few.
Tell us about this mix, which artists have you played in?
I started by selecting tracks that I’m really enjoying at the moment while also keeping in mind a continuous flow of energy so it’s pleasant to hear as an entire piece over showcasing songs or productions, the mix is structured with a peak hour selection for the first half then a gradual outro/sunrise curation. I played songs from artists like Sandro Khune, Juliche Hernandez & Charlie Banks to name a few, also featuring a special outro by the legendary Brian Eno.
You also own Cedesciu Wax label. Tell us how’s the label came to your mind and what are some exclusive anticipations for the future.
I had conceptualized the label in sometime in 2015 but it was not until I met the right people in 2018 and had a clear idea of the sound I wanted to promote that the label actually came to life; we currently are focused on showcasing specifically new artists from all over the world while leaving the remix duties to heavyweights creating a nice connection between new and established artists. Our future catalogue is quite exciting, for the next release we have a new artist from Argentina named Szyszko and the record will feature Nu Zau and triptil, this will be available during late summer of this year. Future releases will include names like Vlad Arapasu, myself and a few talented friends.
After leaving their hometown in 2005, the pair found themselves either side of the Pennines, Bobby in Leeds, Daniel in Manchester. In 2007 Bobby started a residency at the already well-established System, whilst in 2008 Daniel started the now legendary Zutekh parties, as resident and co-promoter. During their combined 25 years at their respective residencies, Daniel & Bobby have shared the decks with everyone from Villalobos, to Jeff Mills to Chez Damier as well as gigs every year at The Warehouse Project and Cocoon in the Park.
Since collaborating a year ago and forming The Molecule, their first E.P is now ready for release, on Bobby’s well regarded E-Numbers imprint.
What’s the first memory that you guys have of each one of you?
Daniel: I first met Bobby in a Media Studies class in 1997. We were 16 years old and it was our first day at 6th Form College. The teacher had asked everyone to stand up and introduce themselves one by one to the rest of the class – “Hi, my name’s Bobby and I’m divorced with 3 kids..” was the way he chose to introduce himself. I remember finding that hilarious and knew at that point we were going to be mates!
Bobby: Haha, that did happen, I should probably point out Henny was the only person in the whole class to laugh at my weird intro! His answer I think was – “Hi, I’m Daniel Henriques but everyone calls me Henny’. After that, we ended up becoming best mates. I think we always had respect and really impressed each other from a very early age musically, it’s almost weird how long it took for us to collaborate.
Tell us everything about The Molecule project: how and when it started?
Daniel: It started a couple of years ago. I live down in Brighton now and before that, I’d been living in Manchester for 10 years doing the Zutekh parties. Bobby was over in Leeds during that time doing his System residency and we’d kind of lost touch since leaving our hometown. He got in touch and asked if I fancied going up north and making a tune. Everything just seemed to click straight away. That first session we made ‘Make The Trip Work’ – one of the tunes on our first E.P, soon to be released on E-Numbers.
Bobby: Yeah it’s been a case of that, with Henny coming up North each time. We made the first bits in Southport, then I moved back to Leeds. It’s been amazing to see my old mate again and to get stuck into the project. On reflection, we could have been more in touch, but life sort of takes over.
Daniel, what’s the best part of working with Bobby?
Daniel: I can’t really think of any negatives, to be honest. We seem to agree on everything – whether it’s making music or DJing – hopefully, this translates well in our music. I’ve always regarded Bobby as one of the best producers I know and it’s a pleasure to be doing this with him. Of course, it’s also great to have one of my best mates back in my life on a regular basis.
Bobby, what’s the best part of Working with Daniel?
Bobby: The best part is the results we’ve been getting together, Henny has a great approach to music and life in general. I’m quite erratic in the studio, so it’s been perfect to be creative with someone so calming. Also, we’ve got a really good crew in Leeds, it’s ace having him over and being part of it all.
Who’s the studio nerd between you two?
Daniel: Bobby for sure. A good chunk of my time is taken up with my work down in Brighton, which isn’t music-related. Bobby is now running classes teaching music production in Leeds and spends the majority of his time in the studio. He actually taught me how to use Ableton 15 years ago.
Bobby: Yeah I’m extremely nerdy about all things music-related and always have been. Where I still buy a lot of records, Henny is the more nerdy there. I remember him back in the day, mixing techno on three decks, after becoming obsessed with Jeff Mills. It was fucking mind-blowing how he could do that, and still can! So he’s still a proper nerd too!
From what I gather, you live pretty far from each other. How do you manage to work remote?
Daniel: For us, it’s important, whenever possible, to be in the same room when working on music – whether that’s making a track or deciding on tunes for a podcast – everything takes much less time and almost always seems to come together as it should. The studio we use is in Leeds, so at the start of the Molecule project, I made the commitment to travel up wherever possible and spend a long weekend on music every time I’m up there. Up until recently, I was travelling up around once every month or so. For now, though, I’ll be staying down in Brighton waiting for the pandemic to end.
Bobby: Yeah we don’t work remotely and hopefully never will do. I find it too impersonal and not collaborative, I mean how could it be really. It might take a bit longer if you take travel into account, but musically it’s quicker and it’s the only way to work for us. Also, it’s the perfect excuse to see each other and make a weekend out of it. Obviously there’ll be no more anything until the Corona Virus fucks off.
What are your next steps?
Daniel: Since the coronavirus outbreak, everything’s kind of in limbo. Our scene has obviously been hit really hard and there are no gigs to look forward to for the foreseeable future. We’ve also made the decision to delay the release of our first E.P on E-Numbers until this has all blown over. It’s not great timing, as the E.P had just gone to cut when the situation with the virus started to become serious. So yeah, everything is on hold. I am of course more than happy to wait it out as long as needs be – the main thing at the moment is for everyone not to be out partying, staying safe and at home.
Bobby: There’s not much more to say here other than that.
And what your main goals as The Molecule?
Daniel: Just keep on doing exactly what we’re doing I’d say. We’ve got a good thing going, so just keep working hard on it all and hopefully, the project will do well. We’ll be making more music and sending it out to some labels we respect, in the hope of getting something signed. I’m really happy with the way things are going in terms of us Djing together too, so definitely looking forward to the time we can play out again!
Bobby: We’re both ploughing on with this project very much and I’m just doing projects in general and having a bit of a break from releasing my solo stuff. We’ve been getting the correct types of bookings, so once the world can get back to normal, more of that for sure.
Any anticipation on some E-Numbers’ future stuff?
Daniel: It’s all very early days but we’ve spoken about a Molecule remix for an upcoming release on E-Numbers. Keep your ears peeled for that! Bobby has also been working on a pretty big E-Numbers party up in Leeds later on in the year, which we’ll be playing at if the lockdown has ended.
Bobby: On E-Numbers after The Molecule release I’ll be showcasing some new artists I believe in and two of the most talented people I’ve met. The first is KG93, who I’ll be putting out an EP together with as KB Gems. He’s like a brother to me and an incredibly talented all-rounder, who is a wonder when it comes to music and making it. He’s also a choreographer. Pure talent! I’m also putting a release together with Konnie. He’s not only one of my best mates but a seriously talented DJ, drummer and beatboxer (he won’t mind me saying that). Then who knows really! More releases and I’ll speed up the rate of them once it’s all back to normal and start asking people for demos.
Any shoutout or final thanks?
Daniel: Absolutely – Huge shouts to everyone that’s booked us to play so far. We’ve really enjoyed every gig and it means the world that promoters have put their faith in us. Also a big shout and big love to my wonderful lady Corinne who is nothing but supportive of what we are doing with The Molecule. I’ve been away a fair amount in the past year and I’m sure plenty of girlfriends wouldn’t be too happy! Also to my 4 Zutekh brothers, especially James and Dave for asking me to come on board at the very start. I still remember our little meeting all those years back… I’ve learnt how to play out properly as a result and also what it means to be a resident. I’ll always be grateful. I’d also really like to thank Steve O’Sullivan for giving us the opportunity with the last podcast we did for his Mosaic mix series. We had some nice feedback on that and a couple of ace gigs came from it too. It was a massive platform for us, as is this opportunity with Meoko, so a big thanks to you too! Really hope you enjoy the mix..x
Bobby: Yeah, to be honest, I’d like to give a shout out to all the Mint Club family and especially Shane for giving me the chance of being a resident all those years ago. It’s shaped everything that I do and warming up has taught me how to be a DJ properly. I’m so utterly grateful for it. Also a special shout out to Danny Robinson for being a consistent dude and the best dick head in Leeds.
Also from us both, on a final note, we just wanted to say a massive shoutout has to go to all the doctors, nurses & health care workers around the world during this absolutely insane time. It’s hard to even begin to imagine what they are dealing with at the moment. Also to the people working in food shops, delivering, helping the homeless, key workers and everyone else doing their bit. Respect..x