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Chats to MEOKO Archives — Page 2 of 5 — MEOKO

An Open Letter to: That Guy Who Can’t Take a Hint

By Chats to MEOKO, Hot Off The Press, News, Open Letters

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Dear Guy who can’t take a hint, 

First off, an invitation to talk to me is not an invitation to put your arm around my waist. I didn’t come to this club to get with someone, I came for the music. I certainly didn’t wear these clothes to get you to stare at me, but let’s face it; it can get really hot in here especially if you’re dancing. Now I’m not saying the male species is the only one that goes after the opposite sex in a club since inevitably you will find your average drug thirsty chick who in during her quest for chemical substances may do anything with a guy to get what she wants.

However, putting aside any confusion of this being a feminist rant, I’m afraid you males are in the majority of this phenomenon. And by phenomenon, I mean the ever persisting conversation you make a girl go through until you finally end up realising you have been rejected. Yes, occasionally some chats in the smoking area are a healthy form of socialising, but what about when those chats start getting out of hand?

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There’s several excuses and ways one can use to get out of such a situation that’s for sure, but why does there have to be a situation to begin with? I just want to bloody dance and enjoy my night out with my friends damn it. I don’t need to pretend I have a boyfriend (classic excuse) and I don’t need to pretend I’m crazy like that video by Jenna Marbles.

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It’s all fine and dandy when you’re talking with someone at first, unless he seems like a creep in that case he has already tried to touch you. Ah, that hand around the waist. Especially when you didn’t even get to look at the guys face but he’s been staring at your ass the whole night until he decided to act with actions rather than words. Well guess what, both options won’t get you any pal. In the words of MC Hammer, you simply can’t touch this. Can’t. Touch. This.

So mate, I shouldn’t even need to tell you I’m not interested, you should read it in my eyes when I turn to my friends whenever you get annoying, and if you don’t get that, maybe you should understand the phrase ”not interested” and take it for what it is. I’m pretty sure you’re just going to try the same thing on the next girl anyway, so why get upset about it?

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And as for the ladies who like to do the equivalent to men, maybe you should either get your own drugs and leave the nice guys alone, or better yet, try going after those who seem to like this kind of shit and leave the rest of us to dance worry-free.

Yours sincerely,

Every human being who prefers dancing to having a creep waste their night.

Written by: Thalia Agroti 

 

Ralph Lawson: A Roller Coaster Ride

By Chats to MEOKO, Hot Off The Press, Interviews

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Having played a pioneering role in electronic underground music for the past two decades, we feel very privileged to be interviewing Ralph Lawson. Apart from being a hero on our Island, he is also widely regarded as the crème de la crème in this industry. Ralph Lawson currently holds residencies at Back To Basics in Leeds, We Love Space in Ibiza and Barcelona’s The Loft as well as regular appearances at Berlin’s Watergate and London’s Fabric. Ahead of his recent showcase at the EGG this weekend, MEOKO chats with him about the highs of his musical career. 

Ralph, what is it like being a resident at Back to Basics for years now? 

Well it’s been a roller coaster ride, blood sweat and tears and it’s been a very long journey that strangely seems so short in a lot of ways. So much time has past and suddenly we’re 20+ years down the line and Back to Basics in Leeds is still going strong I’m really proud and happy to have been a part of it. It’s like being in The Rolling Stones dealing with Dave Beers, it’s kind of like dealing with Keith Richards as your cohort. It’s always interesting and I’ll always have stories from this time, we’ve had some ups, we’ve had some downs but we’re still here.

Do you find that there is a difference in the House scene in London with the scene in Leeds and hence do you consider that the scene in Leeds is still as strong as it was to begin with?

There’s definitely a difference for sure. I don’t think Back to Basics would have worked for as long in London as the scene move so much quicker everyone wants new things and as quickly as they can get them. It’s very fashion driven and there’s a need for everything to change so quickly. Back to Basics in Leeds is much more like a working men’s club everyone shares the same interests, it’s a place for people to go to week in week out. London is exciting it kickstarts a lot of scenes for the rest of the country and I love playing there. The crowds a bigger mix and much more cosmopolitan so you have to read the room slightly differently.

How did your interest in Djing in particular begin and what were the influences that directed you to that path? 

I was drumming and in bands and I went over to Manchester around the time of Happy Monday’s and The Stone Roses and that kind of led to Hacienda and the Manchester scene. It was a real intro into acid house which we then bought back to Leeds which inspired Back to Basics.

When playing live, do you favour using vinyls or MP3s or is it a mixture of the two?

I never play MP3’s, I’ll play Wavs, Aiffs or high quality digital files if I’m going to play them. I try to give the audience the best music quality possible. I love playing vinyl to as it’s got a nice organic sound I like to mix it up and play both where possible.

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What makes you decide on playing a particular record during one of your sets? Is there a criteria other than pure subjectivity, for selecting what to play next?

I just think it’s got to have a certain feeling  techno, electronic, house, soulful it needs to grab you in a certain way and standout.

How important is it for you to achieve a desirable response out of the crowd you are playing for? Do you believe in the possibility of “reading an audience” and how do you put this into practise?

At the end of the day I’m a massive believer in people as a DJ you can be so up your own arse. but it’s not about just you particularly. It’s about the night and the crowd and the party and what you can contribute to that. People have paid money to be there so even if you’re tired or you’ve got a cold you’ve got a responsibility, you’re getting paid, you’re the guy behind the decks who needs to get people dancing, enjoying themselves and creating the atmosphere. I feel like I’ve left myself down and the crowd down if I don’t achieve that which I normally do.

When in London, what type or which venue in particular do you enjoy playing at the most?

Fabrics the number one isn’t it? It’s the real benchmark for what an electronic venue should be it’s so so important. It’s since spawned this amazing warehouse scene.

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Do you feel that a crowd is actually able to appreciate the intricacies of complex DJing, if they don’t actually know what is happening behind the decks?

I actually think people are super clued up now about DJing, a lot of people have had a go. DJing is intricate but in some ways it’s very basic you’re putting on records whether its on digital or vinyl format and you’re mixing between the two. Even if people don’t know what skill is going down, most will appreciate how the music is being presented to the them. DJ’s work on so many different levels some people know the exact level skill that is going on and will be impressed by their technique whereas other will just appreciate that the music is flowing nicely and that it’s making them dance in the club.

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Between Djing and producing your own music, what is it that interests you the most and why?

I’m a DJ first and foremost; I never saw myself as some big producer, I like working with bands and producers, I like remixing and learning.
I realized I’d learnt more than I thought by hanging out in the studios with these great people and bands. I decided to make my mark later on than most people and I’m really interested and enjoying producing at the moment.

When producing, is there anything specific that you aim for or do you usually follow your intuition as you go along?

I just really want to make the best track possible.

Lastly, other than 2020 Vision, are there any labels which you are really fond of?

Yes, I like a lot of the classic labels that were there when I first started they might not even be around now. As far as modern labels there are some really cool ones; Running Back, Hyper Colour, Barnhouse, that Axel Boman release is really good there are so many.

Ralph is playing at EGG on the 19th of April for Mobilee Back To Back Tour alongside Ray Okpara, Rodriguez Jr, Ejeca and Ranacat.

More information about the event and tickets CLICK HERE

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ARM wrestling with Red D

By Chats to MEOKO, Festival, Hot Off The Press, Interviews, MEOKO Exclusive

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MEOKO chats wit Red D about We Play House Recordings and FCL + Exclusive Mix.

Red D is the seasoned veteran who has been playing house music in its broadest sense all over Belgium and beyond since the early 90’s. He started the label ‘We Play House Recordings’ in 2008 as an outlet for the music of San Soda, a friend he met through football in his hometown located in Belgium. The label soon reached a great recognition in the European House scene, as more artist started to get involved with WPH Recordings. It was only logical that Red D and San Soda ended up in the studio together and started the tandem FCL, named after the local football club they’ve both played at. FCL have been playing their vinyl trade together or separately as Red D and San Soda all over Europe and beyond in the last two years. A true Belgian legend with a voluminous knowledge about music and the industry.

Well, no further introduction needed. First of all let us thank you for the time to have a little chat with us. When you think back about last summer, what has excited you the most?

That’s a very open question 🙂 Last summer has been the busiest yet, especially because there was a lot of travelling going on. In Belgium I’ve been used to playing multiple gigs per weekend for years, but doing three gigs in three different countries in one weekend was fairly rare before 2013, and with the summer festivals adding to that I was kind of curious to see how I would handle that. And I have to say I really enjoy the hectic aspect of all that, although I have no idea if I’ll tell you the same next year… Other than that it’s those quiet moments in between gigs that I cherish the most. Looking for a late night snack in some remote village in the Netherlands on a warm summer night all by myself…and actually finding some Turkish place that was really good 🙂 Musically speaking there were so many great moments, but again most of the Dutch gigs are always among the best ones.

San Soda and you became acquaintances of each other through football. Nowadays your both busy with turn tabling, producing and with the label, do you still have time to meet up?

Well, with all the FCL gigs going on I think we’ve spent more time together on the road and playing than we did when San Soda was still living in Belgium. Of course to do music together we need to arrange it differently, but we don’t release record after record, so that all goes pretty smoothly. For anything we do we usually spend one afternoon together in the studio and then work on it separately, so no real distance problem there.

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So, no time to kick some ball together? 

No, and that’s his loss and well as the team’s. His loss because his stamina is disastrous by now (he’ll beg to differ :-p), our loss because he really is a great player. I myself am always happy to move my flights and stuff about so I can still attend the games. Way too much fun to miss out!

You’ve started WPH Recordings as an outlet for his music. Do you therefore see yourself as his mentor? How did you help Nicolas becoming the respectable DJ he is today?

Mentor is too serious and too big a word. From the first moment we met I was happy to share all the musical knowledge I had with him, both the creative side as the business side. With every young artist on the label I give them advice when they ask for it, and I give my candid opinion on everything, but in the end it’s them that decide what they do. I myself always loathed older guys waving their finger in my face like a school teacher, so I try and not do that myself. In the process I probably was/am some kind of mentor, but I just try to get people to get the most out of their talent by sharing what I know. San Soda will of course always be a special case, because us meeting each other is the very reason why we are doing what we are doing. I wouldn’t be speaking to you without him, and maybe you wouldn’t be asking about him without me, although I’m a firm believer that if you have talent and are working your ass off, you will end up achieving something.

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Do you think it is more difficult for young and talented Belgian producers to make a bust into the international industry in comparison with producers from the UK or other leading countries?

I don’t think so, I know so 🙂 But it’s not a black and white story. You can breakthrough really quickly as a Belgian artist too, but then you need to be on a big UK or other leading country label. I’ve been more than happy however that being from Belgium and doing the label from Belgium as well has allowed us to slowly grow and develop a solid fan base of music lovers who do not really care about hypes or trends. But I honestly have felt that for example San Soda and also WPH as a label haven’t gotten the attention they deserved in the first years. I’ve seen labels and artists from New York or Berlin or any other ‘credible’ city or crew who’ve done two or three releases and who are already doing tours and being hailed as the freshest thing on the block, quoting 1000 euro+ DJ fees and the works. If they get it and prove to be worth it later on, kudos to that of course, but to me it’s not how it should be. But it’s like when kicking a ball at 18 years old and being good at it: when Chelsea or PSG come knocking with a fistful of dollars…who can say no right? So to answer your question: yes, it’s more difficult, but also more rewarding when it does happen. I stay away from patriotism as far as I can, but I can’t help but liking the fact that I/we are Belgian and as such kind of exotic 😉   

Where did your love for electronic music sprouted from? And who has been your mentor when you started out?

I have no idea really. My parents didn’t have a record collection and never pointed me in any musical direction. My two uncles were Bob Dylan fanatics, and I hated that. At home it was more talk radio than something else, but for some reason electronic and black music was always better to my ear than anything white and rock or pop based. I recently heard one of my oldest radio tapes from around 1986 and almost all the tracks on there were already electronic or synth pop. And when I discovered both Public Enemy/hiphop and new beat in the same year (1987) there was no more turning back 🙂 Coming from a rural town my enthusiasm and endless searching for ‘my’ music are the mentors that got me where I am today.

I do believe you don’t agree on the fact there are arising different subgenres within House music. There is simply house music, good or bad. What is your opinion on these emerging trends and hypes?

I should even say that there’s just music, good or bad. But for lack of a better description I simply play house, even when it’s not… Hence the name of my  label: ‘We Play House Recordings’. Subgenres have only been invented by press and pigeon-holing people. Much to my own joy, whenever something is called some kind of sub-genre…I usually don’t like it. 99% of everything ever put in the tech-house/deep house category on *insert portal name here* should never have seen the light of day imo.

You’ve launched the series ‘Our Beat Is Still New’, in which producers of now pay tribute to the legendary Belgian 80ies new beat sounds. I don’t believe the new beat sound is very familiar with the younger generation these days? How comes?

Because as usual Belgium never truly promoted and exported their sound. People that have been ‘at it’ for years know about new beat, but it never really made it out to the world as a movement, so how could people know? Also when Belgium’s producers moved on and created the ‘hoover’ rave sound they wanted to steer clear of any attachment to new beat, so they specifically didn’t promote their background. That’s the big difference with for example Chicago house, because there any second or third generation was happy to quote their influences.

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How’d you come upon the idea to resuscitate this sound?

Well, because I still love the original new beat sounds, and because I felt that Belgium should start being a bit proud of its heritage. Without knowing each other, at the same time where I had my idea, some other Belgians were making a documentary on Belgium’s rich dance music history (The Sound Of Belgium), so now finally it seems we are coming to the world and telling people: “This is us you know!” 🙂

What can we expect of these takes?

What I certainly didn’t want to do was release a compilation with older tracks + remixes. That’s a bit lame and I see it everywhere. Let the past tracks be the past, but do get inspired by them! Hence the idea to ask a bunch of my favourite producers of now to make a new track inspired by new beat. Some of them knew about the sound, others had never heard of it. And that’s exactly what made the compilation special to me, a perfect mixture of new and old. People like myself who lived new beat simply made a track that could have been made 25 years ago, others made something utterly fresh. It also sums up WPH for me: use the old to make the new. No throwback like we’ve been bombarded with these last years. I don’t want to hear a ‘Jersey house chord’ that sounds like 20 years ago, I want to hear what a Jersey chord sounds like now.

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2013 is proving to be the busiest year for WPH and FCL yet, with the success of ‘Its you’ and multiple other releases. What do you expect for 2014?

We’ll just keep doing what we are doing and we’ll see where we end up. There is no grand scheme in anything, apart from doing and releasing the music that I like.

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You’ve composed a two-hour mix for us, how will you best describe the sound you’ve put together?

I’ve actually made a mix lasting 3,5 hours. I had three different podcast requests so I spent a full Monday afternoon behind my decks and made a mix that should give people a perfect impression of what it could sound like if I/we get to play a club night from start to finish. Building it from an empty room, welcoming people with slow stuff that’s perfect for lower volume and doesn’t demand dancing (although that can of course happen), moving to more housier territory and then building to rougher house and techno, only to end of more end of the night type of tracks. Part 1 is to be found here, parts 2 and 3 can be found through the other podcasts. Just like when digging for vinyl, now readers and listeners should do some searching for the rest of the mix. For the record, I called the mix ‘Monday Clubbing’.

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Links:

WPH Recordings: https://www.weplayhouserecordings.com/

WPH Soundcloud: https://www.facebook.com/therealfcl?fref=ts

Words by Paul Fluks

MEOKO chats to Trentemoller

By Chats to MEOKO, Hot Off The Press, Interviews

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Anders Trentemoller has risen from the shadows once more for his latest studio album, Lost. Released to critical acclaim from both fans of his early techno productions for Poker Flat to his previous LP, the experimental, live focused ‘Into The Great Wide Yonder’, the Danish producer has come a long way since his humble beginnings on the local techno circuit. After the album The Last Resort established him as an exciting talent to fans of dance and electronic music, Anders continues to impress new fans and intrigue long-time fans with his naturally formed and intricately produced hybrids of electronica, techno, live instrumentation and beyond. As he heads to London for his next live show in November,  MEOKO sat down with Anders to discuss the bridging of digital and live instrumentation, the mindset of isolated productions and the gradual open mindedness of electronic and dance music in 2013.

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You’re known for being quite an intricate producer no matter what style your music leans towards… how long did you spend on the new album?

I think I spent about 15 months on the album – I pretty much begun on it after my last world tour and I started about four days after because I was excited to get started with my new sound; we played more than a hundred shows so there was no time to make music, and I don’t make it on the road. I was hungry.

You’re a big fan of film, visual art and movies – your music often features great videos and artistic aesthetics – does this feature as a prominent theme in your work?

 I’m a big fan, but I love my daily life and not doing anything but you know, hanging out. When you are at a point of getting a little bit bored of things in your life, for me, that’s when the inspiration to make music comes. I think I take a lot from being bored, it makes me uncomfortable and it’s that what influences me. That’s the way I work, so as a result there is no theme behind the record, just the zone that I’m in at the time. I let things go naturally and eventually everything clicks together. You have to not be afraid of not being inspired.

 

But when you hit that point, do you often find yourself going back to productions and recordings to make changes?

Definitely, yes. But for me, I work on my own in the studio. There’s the heavy focus of the band live of course, but when I write, I do it alone. When I’m playing instruments and producing music, I’m in complete isolation usually for about a month. But yeah, sometimes it’s really hard to be your own judge and see your work from another perspective; sometimes after working on a track for a bit you lose perspective so the aim is it to view it from the outside and to take a break when needed. It can be a rollercoaster journey at times.

You don’t approach the album with a pre conceived idea of the music, but you went straight into it after a large tour; has this in some way had a natural influence, your time on the road and being surrounded by the live music world?

Actually, I don’t think so, because there are many live instruments on this new album and I play a lot of live stuff anyway. But for me it was natural thing to incorporate that of course, but I didn’t think about how the tracks would sound on stage at all or if they would work live. So although the sound is more live, I’m working in the same way I have always worked, very much on my own. It’s not just the music, but the atmosphere that I try to capture in my music.

You get used to playing with your band every night, especially sharing a bus haha. On one part, it was a relief to be back and discover my own space again, but on the other hand I miss the whole camaraderie and being with my friends.

The new album is definitely a progression from your last album which was heavily live, but this also sees you return to your more synthetic, techno leaning sound…

Yeah there’s lots of electronic elements in there and also a lot of shoe gazing stuff. Lots of different little bits– I’m trying to let the music dictate the output to me and it all depends on the vibe of that track as to what instruments suit that mood. In electronic music – and even in other scenes like indie – people are always searching to define the new sound – like what people dub the sound from Berlin, for example, to help process it. For me, it should be about music first.

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You make music naturally, but your music has actually changed over time and through the curse of your albums – do you think producers can be too genre specific? Is electronic music gradually becoming more diverse?

That was a big part of the scene, but I try to stay away from the ‘scene’ as such; I don’t consider myself to be a strictly electronic musician, just as a musician. Some people do really use their energy sounding like one thing, I think it’s actually a bit better now, and that people seem to be more open minded. Take a huge success like LCD Soundsystem – playing club music, but also playing it live with lots of elements of other music. I like if things have been produced by a computer but sometimes it needs a more human touch too. You can make a run of the mill house and techno track quite easily and be completely removed from it and that’s a bit boring.

By Joe Gamp

MEOKO chats with Martinez

By Chats to MEOKO, Hot Off The Press, Interviews

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From tribal rhythms, broken beat and spaced-out ‘cosmic house’ to Chicago-influenced house and the minimalist of tech, for over a decade Martinez has gone through countless house music styles and labels, incrementally evolving and finding new genres, sounds, and instruments to play with. Born Martin Swanstein, the Danish producer has become a household name for his unique interpretations of these different sounds, and in the process has been snapped up by the likes of Cadenza, Dessous, Cinematic, Moon Harbour, Inmotion Music, Lomidhigh, VIVA and the list goes on and on. When he’s perhaps needed an ulterior platform to push his ever-changing styles, he has founded his own labels, Out of Orbit and Re:connected, which have in their own right garnered massive support and industry respect. Dancefloors across the world are laced with his productions, as well as the man himself; expect to see him even more this year, especially with his Cocoon residencies at Ibiza’s Amnesia and elsewhere. Ahead of his upcoming set in London alongside DJ W!ld, we caught up with him for a brief chat about exploring even MORE new musical territory, why he switched back to vinyl and his love of hardware.

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Hey Martin, where in the world are you right now? What are you up to?

Hello…right now I am in Copenhagen where I live, working in my studio.

 

Where did you grow up? What was the first genre of music that you started to collect? Do you think it still influences your taste?

I was born and raised in the south of Sweden, in a town called, Helsingborg. The first music I collected was UK alternative and indie rock; I was really into bands like The Cure and Joy Division. Later I got more into Depeche Mode as well, before I discovered electronic music and was hooked on that. I am sure all that music still influences me somehow today, but I can’t really pinpoint how or draw direct lines. Though it definitely laid down the foundation for my musical perception.

 

Your last album on Moon Harbour – ‘The Paradigm Shift’ in 2011 really helped to put you on the global map. How important do you think it is to be able to express yourself over 10-12 tracks? Is there a follow up album in the pipeline?

Yeah, I think that something that comes naturally with time for any artist is that you want to present a full story, go deeper into your sound, and not only make tracks for the dance floor. I am currently working on material for a new album, though I have no idea when it will see the light of day in the form of a release. Hopefully something by the end of the year!

 

Since ‘The Paradigm Shift’ you have released many EPs and LPs on labels such as VIVa, Etruria,  Cadenza, Memoria and most recently on Superfiction. How do you feel your sound has changed since 2011? It seems to have gone much darker, would you agree? Why do you think this is?

Yes, absolutely. I think it’s important to develop your sound and try new things all the time. It would be so boring otherwise. Imagine making the exact same kind of sound and music for 13 years…

 

Do you pay attention to current trends in dance music?

Honestly no…

 

Is your production technique mainly hardware? You mentioned playing some drum sounds with an Irish Bodhran drum. Have you experimented with any other live instruments recently?

Yes, I use a great deal of hardware equipment. I like to work with real machines and I get more inspired by that. I am a musician and play lots of instruments too, so I often use instruments like drums, guitar, bass and piano when I record, though one of my “things” is to record for example a guitar and make it sound like something completely different. I use instruments as sound sources, but I like to modify them more or less beyond recognition. That was always what I loved about electronic music, the mystique of the sounds.

 

What is your DJ setup? CD? Vinyl? Traktor? Explain why.

For almost a year now I’ve been back on vinyl records only. I’ve always liked to play on turntables and with vinyl records…this is how I learned to DJ and so where I come from. In 2006, I started travelling more and more, so I decided to use Traktor Scratch with control vinyl, as it was easier for travelling but still allowed me the feeling of playing with vinyl records. But I got really sick of bring a laptop on stage and always having to connect wires and stuff like that. Also the way you choose music for a vinyl set is much better for me, I find far more interesting music and put much more effort into the selection. With Traktor I got lost in those long playlists of the latest promos, which just got longer and longer every week. So I play vinyl and I love the feeling of bringing my records to the club. I feel much more inspired playing music this way.

 

You have played in London a handful of times over the year, if you had to choose where to go for a night out (without your records) where would it be and why? What makes London different to other cities in the world?

I’d probably go for a nice dinner at one of my many favorite restaurants in the city, have some drinks with friends in east London. I’d probably hit some good clubs and just dance!

 

Catch Martinez playing alongside DJ W!ld and Outart at nouveau & Musiq Concrete on Saturday 11 May. Buy tickets here.

Check out the event on Facebook here.

Rework preview w/ Kozo (Arpiar) and Rico Casazza live

By Chats to MEOKO, Event Previews and Reviews, Hot Off The Press, Reviews

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It’s with pleasure that MEOKO announce the arrival of what promises to be another great series of events into our booming London scene. Rework are taking over Dukes House in East London, putting its bespoke Function system through its paces…

With their sights firmly set on high quality output, Rework’s policy of underground house and techno see them fly Arpiar’s Kozo into town for their first event on 15th March. Kozo’s stock has flourished with the strength of the sounds coming from Romania over the last few years. A key player in the Bucharest scene, Kozo has also had success from his own Understand imprint which he has been running with Praslea.

https://soundcloud.com/nightsro/kozo-nights-underground-012/

 

MEOKO favourite Rico Casazza plays alongside Kozo, representing his deep and minimalistic take on electronic music.  A fusion of futuristic funk, Rico’s sound is best described as ‘music from Mars’.  Check out his recent interview we did with Rico below which also includes a free track download…

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Rico Casazza chats to MEOKO

 

Limited tickets are still available for purchase here

Move D chats to MEOKO

By Chats to MEOKO, Festival, Hot Off The Press, Interviews

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David Moufang’s musical career, having begun in the early 1990s, has been long and therefore, quite predictably, cyclical in its relevance and reach. Currently, however, the apropos of his work can be felt more than ever, at a time when the pulse of the rest of the world has re-aligned with his own tempo and ethos. His solo debut album as Move D, Kunststoff, is often given the accolade 17 years later as one of the most timeless techno albums ever. Still, it is perhaps his many collaborative projects – from Deep Space Network in the early 90s, to Reagenz (first in 1994 and then recently revived) and his Magic Mountain High live project, through which he has expressed his most experimental and adventurous side. Having grown up discovering music via his stepdad’s record collection and grandmothers’ classical training, Moufang’s work is constantly stretching the boundaries between house music, ambient, jazz, and classical whilst still honouring the essential canon of all things techno. After the release of his Secrets of The Beehive album in 2008, Move D’s legendary status (although he wouldn’t like to call it that) within the scene has been rapidly accelerating and so MEOKO was truly excited to get him on the phone and find out first hand his perspectives on the balance between commercial success and authenticity, the joy of live improvisation and the timelessness of music.

 move d by yonathan baraki2

Your first interactions with music, rifling through your stepdad’s record collection at a young age, has been spoken of a lot, but was there a point at which you decided you definitely wanted to have a career in music, and who were the biggest inspirations for you at the time?

Yes, my love for music started very early on when I was just choosing records based on interesting artwork but I didn’t actually start picking up instruments until I was 10. At first I had weird fantasies of playing at City Hall and by the time I finished school I definitely knew there was nothing else I wanted to do. When I was in my early teens, I think I was just taking the turn from ACDC to The Police and maybe Grandmaster Flash – but that’s just a quick sum up. The big moment for me in my relationship with music was really when I was younger, as you said, and discovering The Beatles. They are still a huge reference and inspiration for me. 

And how did your relationship with the techno side of things come about?

It wasn’t until the late 80s, early 90s that a friend of mine started putting on acid house parties and I got sucked into the scene. It was huge. One of the really appealing things about techno was that it was so underground. People would just do records, press them up and sell them as white labels with no extra help – that was really intriguing. 

From this early involvement and fascination for the techno scene, how has it changed from your perspective and how have you navigated these changes within the industry?

Well it always keeps changing. In the beginning it was an underground thing; big clubs hadn’t heard about it and it mainly happened in warehouses. It wasn’t a money thing – more of a do it yourself thing, all about the decoration and the people. But then it got super commercialized with all the sponsorship of huge events with expensive tickets. Because of this it was easy for me to drift away from the mainstream scene. From ‘93 on, every year in the German press they kept announcing the death of techno and I was pretty disillusioned with it all.

But then new trends kicked in all over again – it always goes in a cycle. England especially was a big inspiration; going out in London where the DJs were playing breakbeat, which you normally wouldn’t hear in Germany. After another dip when the UK was listening to the same boring shit as everyone else, now 10 years later there is so much happening there again. I really think it’s where all the interesting imports come from. In fact it’s always been about London and the UK.

You said earlier you were intrigued about the underground aspect of techno, but now there is so much hype around it, even the mainstream media is fascinated with ‘deep house’. How has this affected the scene?

I think when techno’s popularity dipped dramatically it actually made the scene healthy again. Parties started getting smaller and it didn’t have to be DJs like Ricardo or Sven Vath for a party to take off. Now, I think it’s grown in a healthier way and all the attention it’s receiving in the press is well deserved. It’s still the type of music that evolves most quickly and has the most impact, not in comparison to the superstardom of Madonna maybe, but it is cutting edge and avant-garde.

I read you feel uncomfortable when DJing, is this true?

No, that’s not true I enjoy DJing alot! But, it’s true I don’t feel comfortable with the stardom of DJs. I think the idolization you see at big raves is ridiculous – everything we thought we overcame with techno, like the rock stage, is coming back. I don’t really dig it too much, I prefer being on the same level as people. Sometimes I might not feel comfortable playing too big a venue, which puts an anonymous mask on everything and you cant relate to the people, and visa versa. 

Do you get this same feeling when you play at events such as festivals?

Festivals can be great, but I would prefer a smaller one to a huge one and if I played at a large festival, I would enjoy myself more on a smaller stage at least. But I’m in good faith that Gottwood will be exactly the type of festival I’m looking forward to; where I can get a feel for the festival and meet some people. It should be lovely…  

All of this is wrapped up in the relationship between commercial success and being creatively genuine. How do you think you’ve kept a balance between your musical purity and your vitality in the industry?

That’s a good question. I really look it as two different things. With DJing, of course I love bringing music to people that they might not have heard or aren’t in to yet but ultimately I’m there to make them have a good time and I don’t want to preach to them too much. But when producing your own material, for me it feels super wrong to look at it in the same way. I shouldn’t worry about the purpose of the song. Sometimes I might leave a track for 10 or 12 years. Good music is timeless but a track could be better if it was brought out later, at other times people might not take notice of it. I think its wrong if you try and stay with the trends too much – it seems to work best if I just do my own thing, and be grateful if it aligns with the rest of the world, like right now. I was lucky to always have some faithful followers but at the moment it is pretty crazy!

In your career you have been pretty prolific and now have a remarkable back catalogue of productions. How much time do you normally spend in the studio working on your own music?

Not enough! Right now, I am playing SO much and as well I have other obligations with a 15-year-old son, taxes to pay and cleaning to do like everyone else. Usually when I do make spend time, there is normally something I can use and so a lot of wasted isn’t time. That’s probably because I’ve never really over-spent my time at the studio – you can’t treat it like a 9 to 5 job and expect things to happen. So there’s not a lot of time, but that’s the way the industry works at the moment and I can imagine my colleagues, so to speak, are in the same position. They have to keep playing to keep the money going so the studio is kind of left alone. Also working now it will be mainly for 12 inches or single tracks – the whole culture of albums seems to be quite lost at the moment but I’m really hoping it will re-emerge, because albums can grow on you and allow you to find new music rather than just waiting for the charts and the same old.

You’ve done a lot of collaborative albums, how different is that process in comparison to producing solo work?

That’s also about the time factor because with collaborations you normally only have maximum 2 or 3 days with someone and after you split, you don’t want to work it over too much, as that would be unfair to the collaboration. So naturally a result comes a lot quicker. Whereas, if I’m working on my own, I might stop to do something else and then the next week I don’t have time so stuff gets left and not worked on for weeks, months, even for years – and by then it might be a different flow. I like doing things in one flow.

Your collaborative albums have sometimes been your most experimental, for instance the Playtime album you did under the Reagenz moniker. Is experimentation the driving factor behind teaming up with another musician?

Yeh, that’s why I thought Playtime was such a fitting title because we really had fun playing with instruments that aren’t just machines; things like guitar, bass, percussion, conga, symbols, our voices and even my wife and son’s voices are in there. We had a direction and a vibe but we just allowed ourselves to play and experiment.

Jonah is especially talented at using hardware, but he’s also solid on most other instruments. On the other hand, I’ve worked with a lot of musicians who maybe don’t have that same background and they just have an idea about music, so they are more directing in the studio, which ends up with great results too. It’s different to when you are more an educated musician, when you are thinking of the boundaries of what you ‘can’ and ‘cannot’ do. 

How do you think your own musical background and education has influenced your music?

Well I had my family’s influences around me, and my grandma was a classical pianist but myself I never had classical training, apart from on the drums and the xylophone maybe. But at least I had the patience to listen to an instrumental piece of music which influenced a lot of the ambient electronics, I guess. As well, it crosses over with the work of Pink Floyd and Kraftwerk, who referenced classical music with concept albums and songs lasting half an hour with no lyrics.

Many producers might solely listen to electronic music, or even a specific genre within that, like house and techno. Do you actively try and source other styles and genres?

I listen to anything: jazz, rock, world music…I’ve just been through a serious Serge Gainsbourg phase. I’ve followed him for several years but a real turning point was when I discovered his History of Melody Nelson, a concept album from the early 70s. I could hear so much in there, even Nirvana sounding stuff, and I just wanted to know more about this man. I discovered he’s worked for such a long time and his body of work is amazing, having worked with The Wailers on reggae or his early album Percussions, which has tribal rhythms that sound so timeless Ricardo villalobos could easily play it in a set, I’m not shitting you.

I think house and techno wouldn’t get anywhere if everybody were only listening to house and techno. Artists like Space Dimension Controller, Floating Points, anything that’s good from the UK – you can’t look at them without referencing things from outside of the genre like funk, boogie, hip hop and even classical. And it ends up in this weird, great combination. 

In a culture that so rapidly consumes music, how does one work towards making your own material more long lasting and timeless?

Well I think that’s everyone’s aim, but I wonder how to get there. I’m sure its certainly not following the trends, because then what you are doing is always within a context and people will always be able to tell that. If you try to neglect everything and follow your own direction and instinct, you might end up with something unique – and that is timeless. Hopefully that’s something I do quite well with. I look back at stuff I’ve done years ago and it doesn’t seem dated to me. My release on Warp, I think would have done better now than it did in 1996 because back then there was sharp divisions; you either played four-to-the-floor or broken beat, never both. Whereas now, there is such a crossover especially with all the dubstep guys playing house, which I think is great.

Your own music tends to defy and blend genres in a similar way, but is there a continuity overall or anything you like to play with everytime?

Well no, I’ve done experimental stuff and I want to do slow stuff again. But through everything, I think there is some sort of permanent aesthetic value and I guess you could describe that as my ‘style’. It’s important to have this, but you just have to listen to your own beliefs and then your stuff will have a signature of sorts.

There is often a sharp distinction between your tracks that are slower, more experimental and those that a dancefloor-centric. Is this something you start off with knowing is going to be the end result? 

Well in some respects there is normally a mood that you want to go into. But in collaborations it varies wildly; there are situations when you just start jamming without talking and other times when you discuss doing something ambient or something more playable. But I love it most when it’s open and unplanned. That’s why I really like the Magic Mountain High project and the stuff we do live, which is fully improvised and unrehearsed. I really never know what to expect, just that the other two guys are great, accomplished musicians so no need to worry.

What equipment are you relying on in these live shows? 

It’s all analog. Our aim was to get rid of the laptop altogether. So basically we use a couple of old drum machines and synthesizers, mainly Roland ones. Either we take them to the gig or we try and ask promoters to get them for us, whether it is a Juno 60, SH101, 909. But either way if something isn’t available we can improvise with something else. There’s no staring at screens and the sequencing is all done on the spot, maybe while the others are jamming and so its organic, there’s no need to stop or pause.

It’s improvised, so things must go ‘wrong’?

No of course things go wrong, terribly wrong. Sometimes I have to lie down for a minute and let the others struggle with it, until the storm calms down and I can rejoin! But that’s part of the deal, how it works with people – the audien
e can feel the dynamics too, the whole room can feel it. It’s much different from having pre-programmed material and hopefully makes it a lot more interesting for people…even if they have to suffer for a while, but when it comes together everyone feels the same relief.

Lastly, you’ve been closing a lot of your sets with St Germain classic ‘Thank U Mama (For Everything You Did)’. It’s an astonishing record. When did you first discover it and why bring it back now?

I knew the track when it was released, as I was following him at the time. Ludovic Navarre is his real name and St Germain turned out to be his most successful project but he had many others at the same time. He’s in the same league as Derrick May but I don’t think he gets enough credit – he’s made some really, really great records. But now its kind of forgotten and I like bringing back old stuff that doesn’t sound old, that in fact sounds better than ever. It’s strange for me to think people don’t know it because it’s such a classic, but why should they? I like playing old tracks that matter to me personally – I remember what great times I was having around the time the record was released and then I can see what great times people are having now and so it doubles the fun in a way. I get to be like, “OK I’m going to show you this and I already know it’s fucking great”…maybe that’s one of the benefits of being a bit older.

Thank you so much David for your time, it was great chatting with you! See you at Gottwood 🙂


Words by Becky Young

Buy tickets to Gottwood Festival here.

Culoe de Song chats to MEOKO

By Chats to MEOKO, Hot Off The Press, Interviews

culoedesongbanner

The house music scene in South Africa recently found itself thrust into the limelight after Resident Advisor did a big feature on it and, as many readers of the piece and fans of SA’s house masters will know, the scene there has been thriving for quite some time now. One of the key artists to have sprung up from South Africa’s house scene is a man whose soulful, tribal rhythms have permeated into the lives of many, many house lovers around the world. Culoe De Song is his name, and MEOKO felt blessed to be able to ask him some questions recently… 

 

Can you tell me firstly when music first filtered into your life?

Music has always been a big part of my life, right from the beginning.

What’s your earliest memory of music?

In the early 90s I was always singing to myself and out loud…you know, all the big songs!

At what stage did you start to gravitate towards making music yourself?

I was 16 when I started learning how to play vinyl and began making music for the first time.

Who/what inspired you to start trying to make your own music?

Well there were so many musical inspirations, both internationally and locally here in SA. More importantly, I really feel like I was destined to do this… my name actually means Culolethu “Our Song”

How did you get started? What instruments or software did you use?

I used FL Studio. I can’t remember the version, but that was my first contact with making music and mastering the idea behind the art.

When did electronic music and house enter your life?

It first entered my life through all of the house music compilations in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I was exposed to all of the cassettes and pirated CDs of the countries biggest DJs. I used to love recording the mixes from the late night radio shows that played a lot of tribal house.

Who were the first house artists you listened to during this period?

Soha, Masters At Work, Osunlade, DJ Gregory, Ame – the list is endless!

What was the house scene like in South Africa at that time?

It was well known I guess, but very much favoured by the youth and the ‘cool’ adults. It’s still pretty much the same thing today, but there’s more young beat makers emerging all the time.

Have politics in SA ever had much of an effect on the club scene?

I guess people would generally party within their circles or cultures. A bit more natural than political, but either way that’s what I’ve seen.

Who were your local heroes and inspirations? Where did you go to hear house music?

I’d hear house music everywhere. Radio & taxis that would drive on with loud sound systems. Pioneers like Oskido, Bop, DJs at Work, DJ fresh had big albums that had music that I really respected.

Nowadays the South African scene has had the light shone on it with people like yourself and Black Coffee et al gaining international recognition. What effect has that had on you, and the scene in general?

It’s been awesome. The scene is buzzing and a lot more young blood is influenced by music to a point of activity. Travelling the world has opened me up and inspired me to explore my talents in music making and DJing. The art is infinite.

culoe        culoe2

Do you feel a certain responsibility for the scene and its growth/development? Do you work with any up and coming artists?

It’s important for me to tell other young artists about my journey and share a bit of how I do things. Knowing the circumstances of what I do and the discipline it requires, they then have a choice to pursue or not. That’s development…you watch, listen and decide.

With regard to that, who’s exciting you from SA’s younger generation at the moment?

I love a lot of music I’ve been hearing from our shores but I’m very much enlightened by the drive & willingness of the duo “black motion”. We need more young people to have a good attitude towards the craft. Also emerging producer “Da Capo”, I love the solo energy from him & he will attract more. I wish them all the best.

What about the rest of Africa (big place I know!) – what are the other hotspots, if any, for house music?

I’ve played in Botswana, Swaziland, and Lesotho & Mozambique. Great vibes there! But I hear Angola is also booming right now!

Thinking back to the beginning, how does it feel to have come so far?

I feel bold; I’ve got so much to do. The more you grow, the more you realise the infinite journey. But I feel great anyway. God has blessed me, I’m grateful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yLrLXobt2I

There’s a real strong tribal and soulful element to your music, where does this come from?

I’m Zulu by culture. There’s a certain rhythm that comes with that.

Have you ever attempted to make ‘minimal’ or less emotional styles of music?

Yes. I’ve made different kinds of music; it has added more value to what I’ve done before. People have a choice with my music. Even though real fans will always feel my natural element regardless of style.

What’s next for you? Any big projects on the go?

Right now in South Africa I’m working on “exodus” my third studio album. I’ve just released “Stig Boardersman” with Innervisions and I’m working on other remixes but mainly surrounding my album.

Where do you see the SA scene going? It seems to be really holding its own right now.

Time will tell. But, I feel greatness.

 

Culoe De Song on Facebook 

 

words by Marcus Barnes

 

Rico Casazza chats to MEOKO plus exclusive free track download

By Chats to MEOKO, Hot Off The Press, Interview & Exclusive Mix, Interviews, MEOKO Exclusive

 ricob

Rico Casazza, like many before him, left his native Italy at the turn of the millennium and moved his life to London. Attracted by the bright lights and bustle of the city’s multifarious music scene, Rico soon found his niche in house and techno, experimenting with the minimal craze before trying his hand at slower, more downtempo styles. Today, he produces across the board, still as keen and hungry as ever to make the best music he is capable of. With over 10 years experience on the streets of the capital, MEOKO thought it best to catch up with Rico and see just what it is about London and its relationship with music that has kept him invigorated all this time. 

rico1

Picture credit: www.stock5.tv

Hi Rico, thanks for talking to us. First up for those that may be unaware of who you are and what you do, could you give us a quick intro?

I have been making music for many years, always out of pure love. Music for me has always been an emotional output. I like to make music that causes goosebumps. I think about the dance-floor too, but my main drive is more psychedelic and deep, timeless music.

I started playing classical guitar when I was a child for a few years, then switched to electric, and then one day I bought a videogame for playstation called “Music 2000”. It was more than a videogame actually, you could create little compositions and edit sounds. From that day until today I’ve basically never stopped banging my head against the wall using various electronic devices. [Laughs].

Now that you’ve had some time to settle into 2013, how do you see the year ahead? What will you aim to build on and improve from last year?

I was lucky to release through some good record labels like Stock5, Release Sustain, Wavetec, Archipel, Serialism, Soma… This year I’m preparing a new live set that will showcase a lot of new, forthcoming music and some secret, unreleased tunes. I’m also preparing a second album, a lot of remixes and some new music. All in all, there are some goodies on the way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KJVVOxTjU8

I read you’ve been living in London since the 90s. Did you move here to pursue music? What aspects of the city and its scene have shaped the way you make and experience music?

I’ve only lived in London since 2001 actually. I moved here for music and also for an adventure. In my home town life and music were quite boring and the internet wasn’t fully developed like it is now, back then you couldn’t just log on and find music from any corner of the planet. I knew London was the home of trip hop, drum’n’bass and just considered the general European mecca of music. It is a magnet for dreamers and twisted minds and I understand the city well as I resonate with both categories. I was fascinated by belonging to a big city, where you can go and find interesting opportunities and totally odd experiences.

This city has had such an incredible influence over my musical career. It’s not even just the music, but the people, the parties – every moment spent in this city inspires you. There’s such a huge like-minded community in London when it comes to great music.

When I was a kid I used to listen to all kinds of music, remembering all the particular sounds that were more interesting and combining them with a lot of different, contrasting styles. I always loved the timeless melodies of classical and ambient music, the infinite dub delays and combining them with hard electronic drums to make a cosmic war!

How do you view the London scene today? Did you have any idea house music would take over East London in particular so dramatically?

The London scene has always been very strong. Something new comes up every year. In east London right now you can find many different type of music events. But yeah, house and techno are probable the biggest and the most mental [Laughs]. There’s a never ending cycle of new music genres springing up and dropping away – they stick around for a few years and then leave to allow for other, fresher styles to rise to prominence. I have been lucky to have witnessed the east London hype.

When you started producing, your tracks still carried that minimal aesthetic, whereas now they’re much fuller and more house-driven. Would you agree? Why the shift?

Yeah I hear you. I started releasing minimal techno in 2007 but at the same time I was making tech-house and broken beat/chill out music. The only thing is, these tracks got released after the minimal techno records. The track I’ve given to MEOKO for example is minimal, but I wrote it recently. If you asked me to choose between house and techno, I’d say techno. But I like to experiment with different genres, different moods and landscapes. I’ve enjoy writing trip-hop, dub, broken beat and ambient music – my first album ‘A Mother Love’ released on Bonsai Elemental on 2007 is a bit like that.

You’ve been releasing records solidly for over three years. Are you happy with where your writing ability and sound are at currently or do you still feel you have more to give?

I have been releasing music for the last 6 years. And yes I definitely have more to give and more to learn. I’m very happy with what I have achieved until now, but in terms of sound quality my productions aren’t the best they could be quite yet. I use Ableton and the sounds do lack crispness and clarity, whereas Logic gives a much fuller tone. But then again on Logic you can’t conjure up the sound you have in your head in a matter of seconds, like you can on Ableton. What’s important for me is the originality of the composition, more so than the sound quality itself. This is an endless debate, like vinyl and digital. A lot of people would disagree with me on that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5B867m9xtc

When you approach tracks these days do you ever feel pressured to make something that will really stand out? Something that will take your career to the next level?

When I sit down to make music I prefer not to work to a specific target. You can have certain ideas in mind or be inspired by a certain artist but in general I prefer to just encourage a natural flow to the process. I just make sounds, melodies and grooves and eventually it all comes together and a smile crosses my face. It’s kind of like when you’re cooking: combining spices and flavours to get that unique taste.

I think that if you set yourself a target while you make music, you will be influenced by the fact that your sound has to sound a certain way. It’s not natural. You should be wary of trying to copy something that is not within the competence of the manufacturer. The only pressure I feel is to make a better song than the previous one.

Your track ‘Ryuichi Dub’ on Bonsai elemental was really beautiful. Will we see more downtempo stuff like that from you in the future?

Thanks! ‘Ryuichi Dub’ is from an album I released in 2009; the track contains a sample of Ryuichi Sakamoto. That album sound is quite different than the trip hop stuff that I do now. And yes definitely, I’m preparing a second album of trip hop/downtempo music as we speak…

Your recent collaboration with Kozber on Soundbar brought a real full-bodied swing to your output. What was it about working with him that achieved that? Are there plans to hook up some more in the near future?

Yes, when we make music together, we make completely different stuff to what we would usually on our own. We’ve known each other for many years, we understand how each of us likes to work and he’s a kick-ass dj – and a nice guy too!

That Soundbar release was something we made last summer. We were thinking to make some edits of abstract funk music from the 70s and in the end we came up with ‘Gillett Square’. We are working intensely on new projects right now, including many remixes for great electro clash and synth pop bands, which will come out in a few months.  

https://soundcloud.com/ricocasazza/ax-musique-skin-on-me-rico/

Finally, what’s next for Rico Casazza?

I’ve got some music that will be released later this year for Holic Traxx, Cartulis Music, Save You Records, Stock5, Suspect Package and a good number of  remixes and collaborations with some good friends.  And of course my new album. More and more music to come! 

Rico Casazza exclusive mix click here

 ricko copy

To accompany this interview, Rico has very kindly donated an exclusive, unreleased track to the MEOKO readers. ‘Holy Kingdom’, as Rico mentioned above, calls on his earlier, more minimal influences, despite it having been written fairly recently. The record provides us with a rhythmic, percussive and slightly twisted insight into the mind of one of London’s most dedicated electronic musicians. Definitely one for the early mornings.

rico click here

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Half Baked chats to MEOKO about their plans for 2013 and beyond…

By Chats to MEOKO, Hot Off The Press, Interviews

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Half Baked are, without a doubt, one of MEOKO’s most cherished London-born parties. Beginning back in 2009, they successfully transformed the conventional party formula with their epic Sunday afternoon rave-ups that often combined quirky art installations, cinema, live graffiti and stylish people under one, thumping roof. The HB crew threw themselves passionately into constructing parties full time with large-scale productions and awesome lineups that showcased their own love for grooving, forward-thinking techno as well as inviting some of the scene’s most important artists and trend-setters. Since then we have witnessed them grow and grow, taking their inescapable vibe across Europe and around the world and MEOKO are ecstatic to see them flourish into both a booking agency (HBF Agency) AND a record label (Half Baked Records) in 2013. At a crucial time in the history of the Half Baked entity, MEOKO have caught up with Bruno and Robin from Half Baked to chat about the changing landscapes of the future, whether they’re enjoying their new expanded roles, and how they are remaining a family (and a half baked one at that..)

 

How do you reflect back on the year? What lessons do you take with you in 2013?

Bruno: Last year was a really good year for Half Baked in which we did events and attended different music conferences, such as WMC, Sonar and ADE for the first time and with completely unexpected success! This made us really happy with the results, especially travelling with the HBFamily and bringing Half Baked into new countries for the first time and have such amazing connection with the crowd!

We learned a lot from our mistakes in 2012 but we still have much more to learn and lots of exciting challenges for 2013 with all our new projects!

We are planning to have more solid line ups, which will be linked with Half Baked Records’ artists and producers. We are also really proud of being a vinyl-only label now, growing and sharing our passion for a full music experience.

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Which of the (many) parties from the past 12 months especially stand out in your memory? Why?

Bruno: That’s a really hard question! We had many parties that stand out over the summer and winter but personally there are three events that were the highlight for 2012: Sonar, Half Baked with Mike Huckaby & Hold Youth, and ADE with Harry Klein & Jeff Audio Family. Those events all had such an amazing vibe with all the residents and our good friends around.

Robin: We had a few special parties to be honest. I really enjoyed having Matthew Herbert and Fumiya Tanaka over especially, as they are two artists I am particularly affectionate for. I also really enjoyed doing Half Baked abroad, it’s new thing but cool as people had still heard about us! It’s exciting and motivating to play outside London representing Half Baked and to see that people are appreciating my music. I have travelled with the Half Baked family now to Moscow, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris and the feedback we get is insane!

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The greatest change must be the introduction of the HBF Agency. Tell us about the project and how it came to be.

Bruno: We set up the agency in late 2012 to extend the Half Baked platform, with the mission to continue to spread our passion for up and coming talent within the house scene, to bring playfulness and innovation to the table, and always operate as a ‘family’ whilst also being international. Also to spread our belief in delivering a full music experience, which is explored through the Half Baked parties. We have lots of new projects outside of our original Sunday Half Baked parties in East London and the agency will bring all these projects together. Keep tuned 😉

 

Is it going to be a conventional DJ agency, whereby you represent a select team of artists? If so, who is on the books?

No I wouldn’t say so. Yes, we have at the moment four talented resident artists – Rainer, Robin Ordell, Greg Brockmann & Rudolf – but we are a bit more forward-thinking and try to be more creative than just another conventional agency. We are lucky to have with us our latest family member, Nicole, who is working as our Marketing & PR manager as well as taking care of our boys and the whole family. Nicole is managing the agency, a very creative process. She is also building new partnerships abroad for Half Baked showcases involving our resident DJs – Seuil, Le Loup, Yakine, Mike Shannon and Julietta.

With the HBF agency we aim to promote culture and innovation in the modern music industry, targeting music lovers that want to connect with the sound and the artists. 


2013 will also mark the release of HB Records 001. Is the label part of the wider agency project? What is the vision for the imprint?

Bruno: Well, I guess it was a natural flow of the HB brand, as one of our aims is to have a solid underground name. HBF Agency has initiated the record label in order to complete the Half Baked platform, working with our friends, creating an imprint representing the music and artists we believe in, and each release will be released on vinyl only.

Robin: the Label is our latest project, operating under the agency. The idea behind it is to release music we like from people we’ve been working closely with – our friends mostly.


The first release carries a strong HB identity, with tracks from residents Seuil, Yakine, Le Loup and Robin Ordell. Will the following releases feel similarly homely or are there plans to branch out and include non-family artists?

Bruno: The idea for the future releases is to have our residents releasing their music and getting different artist, not from the family but good friends, to do the remixes.

Robin: There will be a bit of everything. It is important for us to keep a strong identity by working with people that are close to us but if I receive a great demo from an “outsider”, I won’t turn it down.

hblabel

Bruno, as co-founder of the HB enterprise, will you be fully involved with the agency and the label or will the parties remain your priority?

Funny question. Back in the days I worked in different booking agencies for two years and I learned a lot doing it. I always wanted to have a booking agency on HB and the better option was when the label came along. Anyway, Half Baked is my baby and whatever it takes to run it properly, I’ll be involved.

 

And Robin, how has your role changed – I take it you’re more than simply a resident DJ now? Will you be more involved in the record label A&R side of things?

Robin: Yes indeed, I’m working on the label’s A&R with my friend Fede. It’s a very interesting experience, especially when it comes to listening to new material and choosing music for the records. I don’t find the paperwork and administration stuff that thrilling though, I guess that’s why I’m not in charge of it…

 

Will the agency be an opportunity for HB to expand the family or is it simply a way to further consolidate the ties that are currently in place?

Bruno: We are simply consolidating the HB brand with the existing residents. So this way we can have more control of the Half Baked showcases and better manage the artist bookings.

Robin: We’re happy with the crew we have, we’ve been working altogether for a few years now and we’re getting along well too. There is always an opportunity to make things bigger but I’d rather focus on what we have at the moment.

Will the advent of the agency/label have any impact on the parties? Are we going to see a similarly busy schedule in 2013? Any special plans? Tell us about the next HB event.

Bruno: Not really, the agency will be bringing all our projects together, such as Half Baked Records, bookings of our resident artists, and Half Baked abroad. Regarding the parties, to keep them truly HB style we have a few new ideas on how to control the crowd, such as being stricter at the door with guest list only, as well as bringing in new Half Baked specialties.

Regarding our schedule in 2013, we are looking at having a similar amount of gigs in London but abroad we are planning to have more showcases promoting the label and the artists.

Robin: Many many special plans! But you guys will have to wait to see it coming. For future events we are having some really nice guests such as Bruno Pronsato live, Thomas Melchior, Mike Shannon, and many more that I can’t mention the names of yet.
 
Thanks to Bruno and Robin! MEOKO wishes you all the best for the future and we shall definitely see you at the next party…

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