Born and raised in Holland, Ramon Tapia is the son of an incredibly musical family. His father was in fact a revolutionary Chilean musician, and having such a strong musical influence from a young age meant that it was inevitable that he himself would go on to become a musician in his own right. After his older sisters introduced him into the world of dance culture with tales of ‘dance floor epiphanes’, he moved to Belgium to study as a jeweler, but having bitten by the techno bug, he found himself becoming increasingly involved with the music scene in Antwerp. From these foundations, Ramon has gone on to become one of the most active names in the scene, with releases on labels including Great Stuff, Plus Minus, Craft Music, Remote Area, Turbo Recordings to name a few, as well as his own imprint ‘Say What? Recordings’ which continues to go from strength to strength. We were lucky enough to get a few moments with him amongst his busy DJ schedule to elaborate a little on everything from memories to future plans, to his opinion on the scene and the importance of establishing his own imprint. Oh, and he also provided us with a killer mix for our podcast series. Check it out here:
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us! We’re big fans of your work, but could you describe your sound for someone who’s not familiar?
That’s quite simple: From house to techno and back.
You’ve worked with Hermanez on some great tracks like Organo Scuro, and now co-own Aella Music… how did you two meet? And what encouraged you to start a new label together?
We met in the Belgian club scene, and we were on the same line directly. So, after some releases together, we started brainstorming about what the next step could be for us. We decided we wanted to do a label together – and Aella Music was born. In the beginning we were not sure where to go with it, but that path was found very fast and now we are doing really good supporting the new talent, and there is a lot of new talent out there!
Aside from Aella, you also established Say What? Recordings last year! What are the advantages of putting out your own tracks?
I can do what ever I want; I’m my own boss, which is good. I’m still quite picky on myself too which is good, and I can choose it all myself which I really love.
Despite this, you still regularly contribute to other labels, ranging from Great Stuff to Strictly Rhythm, and of course your new release on ‘I’m A House Gangster’. You seem a perfect fit for the label; can you tell us a little about the release?
Sneak asked me to do a new EP for his new label, and I already had some tracks finished but I wasn’t sure he would like it. I sent them over, and I got the answer “BIG ” back, so it was signed quite quickly! The EP itself is a mixture of minimalish techno with house, and is of course mostly aimed for the dance floor.
What makes a house gangster?
Love for house music in heart and soul.
You were brought up around music, first from your father and then later from your sisters as they discovered the world of club music. Is there a particular track that reminds you of your youth?
For sure: S Express still is – and was – one of my favorites ever.
Later on whilst studying, you worked in a record shop in Antwerp, which no doubt helped shape your music taste. How do you feel the rise of the mp3 has changed the way we listen to music? What effects do you think this has on the scene?
In the beginning it was quite a hassle, because you had to burn CDs and all that… but when the computer got introduced I was really stoked about it! But then, after a while, the sync button came and it actually fucked it up a bit. At this moment, I only play with USB and it’s made things a lot easier for me. I don’t need to fix the cables and all that, I just plug and play!
In general, I don’t think it changed the scene that much. People still want to come and listen to the DJ no matter how he plays the music. It did change the way we buy music, and it’s a lot easier. Lots of music is now just a click away.
Can you remember the first time you played your own track out at a club? What was it, and how did it feel?
It was and still gives me a good feeling, because you never know how the crowd will react on a new track. It’s also good to listen to it loud, so I can fine-tune it afterwards in the studio. If the reaction is big, you feel king of the world for 6 minutes 😀
It seems your compilation for Strictly Rhythm helped firmly establish your name worldwide, but before that, how did your first release come about? Was it relatively easy, or was it a struggle to get signed?
I sent so many tracks out, it was ridiculous, but after a while I got interest from the great stuff camp, and 30 tracks later I signed my first EP: Ramon Tapia ‘Sweetlullabye’. So, you see things didn’t come easy, but if you keep on going, the outcome will always be good.
What would your advice be for people looking to break into the music scene today and get their first release?
Be yourself, and don’t get let down if a label tells you its not good enough. Keep on going, and don’t look back!
Are there any producers you have your eye on for either of your labels at the moment?
Pig & Dan, Christian Smith, Leon and Zoo… and many more.
If you could collab with anyone on a track, who would it be and why?
Pharrel Williams – just because he’s pure genius.
Thanks Ramon, it was a pleasure speaking with you!
Stay in the loop with I’m A House Gangster as well as Ramon Tapia by following the following links:
Few are more closely entwined with the London after-hours party scene than Rich NxT, who lives and breathes music – and has done for years now. A resident for Fuse London since its early days, and one of the key contributors for the label, his sound takes influence from the minimal tech-house sounds of Romania, yet stands apart – thanks to his training as both a drummer and keyboardist. Intrigued to find out how the man Richard came to be involved with such a pioneering collective and label, we caught up with him for a quick chat after returning from the Fuse residency at Sankeys Ibiza and he also provided us with an exclusive hour long mix for your listening pleasure (stream and download below).
Click on image below to listen to Rich Nxt’s MEOKO mix
Hi Rich, thanks for taking a few moments to speak with us, 2013 has been a big year for you, but you have been bubbling away for quite some time now. How did you get into music initially?
My mum took me for surprise keyboard lessons when I was ten years old, so that was it initially. I also started in bands as a teenager and it all just progressed from there!
Could you give us one track that reminds you of your childhood, and explain why it does?
We used to like playing my Dad’s pop and reggae records and, as he is a West Ham fan, his copy of ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ was played a LOT.
Obviously you’re heavily involved with Fuse, which has played a big role in getting the London after party scene going after a bit of a lull. What do you think of the state of the scene in London at the moment?
There have been a lot of clubs closing in the past few years. This can’t be a good thing for promoters or DJs, and the licensing can be so troublesome with warehouse venues, which have kind of replaced these clubs Obviously Fuse is going strong and I do see a few more early morning after parties happening, which is probably healthy, so the Sunday scene continually seems to thrive. I also usually go to OneMore, a monthly Saturday night run by some friends.
You’ve just been in Ibiza for Fuse this past Wednesday actually haven’t you? How was it to be back on the White Isle?
Yes, have been over there for week. Fuse was great and I soaked up some of TiNi’s party on the beach. Apart from that we spent time catching up with friends and seeing some new parts of the island. Stayed in a really cool little place in Sant Jordi this time, close enough to everything but also nice for a chill! There’s never really a time when you want to come home from there!
Do you find yourself playing different sorts of sets when in Ibiza compared to in London?
Hmmm…not so much really. I guess I can go deeper and experiment a little more with the flow in my hometown compared with most places, but this is definitely dependant on the location. For example, outdoors versus indoors, bigger versus smaller, higher ceilings versus lower and what the sound is like etc. These dynamics all have a bearing on what you play. The audience is obviously integral, as is how you feel on the day or night!
What are the key influences that helped define your sound?
Musically, my informative years were spent listening to both Indie rock and early jungle. Quite a contrast, but I love them both. I got into house music because my band mates worked on the door for Hooj Choons’ part-hosted night Elements, where Peace Division used to be residents along with Red Jerry. Then it simmered away over years in East London basements and the party I was involved with, D-late, through the electro, then minimal, scenes until….Fuse! I guess being involved in that unique atmosphere gave the platform and confidence to finally make the music I wanted to make, and let all these influences come out
What sort of set up do you use to produce? Is there any one bit of kit in particular (hardware or software) that you couldn’t live without?
I am still quite software based. I have been using sequencers for years since the days of Atari STs and Notator and until now at least, it’s Ableton Live for me definitely! Of course it gets put down, as its so popular and it is said that people’s tracks sound the same but I don’t think I would have found a way to realise some of the tracks I have done in any other sequencer.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
Yes, am working on new music for Fuse: collaborations with Enzo and Ittetsu, and one with Seb [Zito] as a follow up to our Gophers EP. I also have an opportunity to do an exciting remix for another artist…more details of which will follow!
Your bio talks about a love for ‘carrying on’, and to me at least your tracks and mixes feel perfect for after parties. Would you say you prefer playing after-hours sets? What do you think makes it different to a normal set?
I think the lines can be a lot more blurred these days between after hours and after parties etc. Fuse, for example, started as an after party, as it used to start at 10am on a Sunday morning but then as it developed it became a party that people would go to ‘fresh’. The music didn’t change though, it evolved and the homegrown stuff became the sound of the party. Typically though if I were to think about something on Sunday morning that starts at 6am with a captive audience from a few other parties that have just finished, then yes, I think the tracks have got to be smooth, the mixing, not big tracks. You have to play music that’ll make you get down so much that you almost miss work on Monday, but without wearing people out before they get there!
You play both drums and keyboard – have you ever considered incorporating a live element to your sets?
Watch this space! 🙂
Name one record that never leaves your record bag…
One of these for me is Exercise One’s remix of Unbreakable by Sweet N Candy, which came out on Dumb Unit in 2006….
Amazing! Thanks for chatting with us Rich….
FUSE010 is going to be released this summer including Enzo Siragusa and Rich NxT’s ‘Enriched’ remix of Seb Zito’s ‘Never’.
We are delighted to announce our first official MEOKO event since launching back in 2011: The MEOKO Project is our way of celebrating our achievements over the past two years and saying a big THANK YOU to all those who have supported us along the way. So please join us for a truly special party that represents everything MEOKO is about – celebrating music, art, culture and more.
The MEOKO Project is a 12-hour musical and cultural experience located right in the heart of East London at celebrated arts venue, the Red Gallery. Alongside a stellar musical experience featuring rare London performances from the likes of Cadenza’s Valentino and Jun Akimoto of the London label and party collective, Fuse, it will bring together individuals, brands, and collectives under one roof to showcase the creativity and innovation that surrounds London’s colourful nightlife and music culture.
Spread over two floors, from 5.30pm until 6am, The MEOKO Project will feature a host of ‘exta-musical’ activities, including a London Nightlife Photography Exhibition curated by celebrated underground photographer, Daddy’s Got Sweets, alongside a ‘pop-up’ fashion market showcasing some of our favourite up-and-coming street wear brands including festival-ready Puckoo Couture and Fuudhoods.
We are also massively proud and excited to announce that we will be hosting an exclusive London premiere screening of new electronic music documentary, BEATZ: Divergences and Contradictions of Electronic Music which features over 150 artist interviews with industry professionals, label owners, managers and DJs such as Craig Richards, DVS1, Luciano, Loco dice, Derrick May, Carl Craig, Monika Kruse, Laurent Garnier and more. The screening will take place in Red Gallery’s basement from 7.15pm onwards, and there are limited tickets available with only 80 places – so please make sure you purchase your tickets for the BEATZ screening & party as early as possible to avoid disappointment. Watch the trailer below, and buy your tickets here.
Plus, of course, it wouldn’t be MEOKO without a delectable house and techno lineup to take us through the night and for this party we have gone deep into the underground to bring you nine hours of partying with a selection of our favourite DJs and producers from Slovenia, Germany, Japan and London herself.
Labelled as one of the “founding forefathers of Slovenian techno”, Valentino’s laid-back but skilful approach to his craft (providing serious tech-house music and sets to the masses) has taken him around the world thrice over, making him one of the most respected vinyl DJs. As well as founding his own label, Jesus Loved You, and his own clubnight in Ibiza, Next Wave, Valentino is a celebrated producer with releases on Cadenza, Tenax and many more, as well as being selected to feature on Richie Hawtin’s upcoming Minus compilation.
Flying in from Japan, exclusively for MEOKO, Jun Akimoto’s return to the Big Smoke has been long awaited by all those who know and love the London institution that is Fuse. Jun’s love for electronic music truly began to flourish when he moved here in 2003; mixing, producing and striking up a passionate affair with dancefloors across the capital. 93 Feet East (RIP) was a particularly special haunt, and is where he met and became inextricably connected with Fuse London, a relationship that has allowed the musical careers of Jun and his frequent partner Ittetsu to blow up rapidly. Now with a collaborative project with Yaya Desolat under his belt, we expect to see big things from this artist in 2013.
Listen to Jun’s MEOKO mix below
Although a Dusseldorf native, Binh’s name and reputation is inextricable entwined with the modern underground Berlin. When he finally settled in Germany’s capital, he immediately made his mark with a residency at the reknowned Club der Visionaere and founding his own night, Noon. He has since taken his refined, deep techno style around Europe’s most iconic clubs and festivals, rapidly gaining fans and industry respect even before releasing any of his own material. Nevertheless, his first release on Concrete Music is imminent and the scene is waiting with baited breath for more to come…
Gaining a reputation from early DJ sets as resident and co-promoter for Toi.Toi.London, Voigtmann has, in a considerably short space of time, established himself as an electronic music producer with an ear for high quality underground output, as well as co-founding new label and DJ roster Toi.Toi.Musik. As a DJ, gigs at fabric in London, Rex in Paris and Club der Visionaere in Berlin have further cemented his reputation as a vinyl mixologist of the highest calibre. Now with a solid release just out on Assemble Music and many more in the pipeline, Voigtmann’s patience is paying off and MEOKO is excited.
Listen to Voigtmann’s MEOKO mix below
In today’s day and age of over produced and over hyped tracks constantly doing the rounds, it’s rare to find a young producer who has forged such a unique and special sound. MEOKO describe his experimental style as ‘Music from Mars’, futuristic funk meets deep minimalistic techno and house grooves. Rico Casazza certainly has our attention.
Listen to Rico’s MEOKO mix below
Friday June 28th, 2013 17.30 – 06.00 Red Gallery, 1-3 Rivington St, London
Him_Her_Self, two ultra-talented electronic music producers, are making waves with their tight and crips productions that waver between the duality of house and electro, dark and light, bumpy and swift, vocal and bassdriven. Hailing from the Midlands, the male-female outfit honed their skills in countless sweaty back rooms, never losing momentum despite struggling against unimaginative club structures in their native town of Leicester. After ten years of cutting their benchmark individually, Leon Baggotts and Claire Spooner finally got together as a production duo, which has led to an exponential output on labels as varied as Crosstown Rebels,Circle Music,Elite Records, Eskimo,Dialtone Records, Planet Acetate Records, to name but a few. Ahead of their upcoming show in London, we caught up with them to find out more about their unique sound and also managed to bag an exclusive mix from the duo, which you can listen to and download below.
CLICK BELOW FOR EXCLUSIVE HIM_SELF_HER MIX
Hi Him_Self_Her, thanks for joining us. For those that are unfamiliar with your work could you introduce yourselves and what you do?
Thanks for having us! We kind of like our music to speak for itself, but to give us a quick introduction…we are a male/female DJ & production duo based in the Midlands UK, and we make house music with feeling!
I assume that before you both met, you were individual producers in your own right. Why did you decide to team up and pursue music together?
Yes we were, in fact we had both spent well over ten years working really hard on the Midlands house scene as DJs and event promoters trying to catch a break. We both started out playing on vinyl and moved through a range of electronic genres over the course of that decade. We found ourselves playing a lot of the same events, quite often before or after each other, and our style and track selection always seemed to click together really well. After a while we made the decision to get into the studio together, just for fun at first… but the results were so instant that we knew we had to make it a formal partnership, and Him_Self_Her was born.
Explain the dynamic in the studio. Is it a very shared experience or do you have specific roles?
We often joke that if people saw us in the studio they would think we were crazy! We always have so much fun when we are producing and put so much passion into it and we would like to think that comes across in our music. All our tracks are produced with us both there together from start to finish so it is pretty equal in that respect, but we do have individual roles in the studio. Although people often misjudge the partnership, Claire actually takes the lead on the technical side of the productions after completing a Degree in Music Technology and spending the last few years really developing her studio skills. Leon has a huge creative input though and makes a lot of the decisions in terms of style, sounds, structure and so on.
The main thing is that we really bounce off each other in the studio… maybe one day we will post up a video clip or two of us in the studio and let people see just how it works…if we feel brave enough!
The name Him_Self_Her is clever. It suggests that despite being a duo, you both feel it’s important that your individual selves come through in the music. Would you agree?
Definitely. We actually spent a long time working on the name and went through lots of ideas that weren’t good enough before we came up with Him_Self_Her. We were even trying to imagine Pete Tong reading the name out on his show to make sure it sounded cool enough, ha ha! But once we thought of this one we were really happy with it – and you guys have summed up exactly what we were trying to say with the name.
You’ve certainly developed a very robust, contemporary sound. Where does this come from in both of you? What are your main electronic influences?
Thank you! Something that really seems to have helped our sound is the fact that we are both total music fanatics and we always have been. We take influence from all genres of music and never stop listening to tracks, old and new, and are constantly sending each other links to tunes we like and can take inspiration from.
We both have massive vinyl collections from all styles of electronic music from the last 10 years that we can dip into, but we are also really open to what’s going on around us on the current scene, as there are so many amazing producers out there at the minute. Our current favourites include Franck Roger, Deetron, Hector, Maceo Plex, Fur Coat, Fabio Gianelli, Martinez Brothers, the list could go on and on!
You guys are big into your bold house vocals. Where do you source your vox from? Why are they such a recurring theme across your body of work?
Lots of people ask us this question! We both love vocal tracks as there is so much more feeling in them and they are so easy to connect to, so we knew that would be our main style. Neither of us was keen on using sampled vocals from old tracks, which seems to be happening a lot at the minute, and so we both decided we would rather stick to writing our own original vocals. Luckily, Claire is a Lecturer in Music Technology by day, and the vocalists so far have actually been students of hers! This includes the vocalist on ‘Gone Too Long’, Kieran Fowkes, who is an incredibly talented musician. We are working on more material with him and he is definitely a name to look out for in the future.
The usual process is that we write the vocals ourselves around a rough backing track, source a vocalist and teach them the vocal part. We then record and produce it, reworking the backing track to suit the vocal. We have also started working on some new material featuring vocals from one of us, we will let you guess which one for now…
Tell us about being signed to Crosstown Rebels. How did that feel? What exactly do they do for you?
This was a bit of a shock to us to be honest, as we obviously had targets for our material but we didn’t think we would reach such a big label so quickly. The opportunity actually came about as a result of a DJ in Mexico playing ‘Gone Too Long’ as the last track of his set before Damian Lazarus took over (we still don’t know who this was so we can thank him)! Damian loved it and asked who it was by, and then he got in touch with us. The day the message popped up in our inbox was a very happy one!
At the moment we have a single coming out on Crosstown in the next few weeks, with a remix from a VERY big artist (can’t say who yet though!) featuring vocals from Kieran Fowkes again.
The label have also just obtained the license for ‘Gone Too Long’, so it looks like this will be re-released with remixes later this year, which is really cool, as we are sure the track still has further to go yet with the right exposure! In the meantime we are working exclusively on material for Damian, with the hope of developing an artist album on Crosstown Rebels in the near future. Exciting times!!
What are the main things you would like people to take away from listening to your records?
We are definitely about the feeling in our music. We just want people to feel emotion from listening to our tracks and to connect and be moved by them.
You are signed to The Underground Agency, how has that helped you in your career so far?
This has definitely been a key factor in our success so far, especially in terms of the amount and level of gigs we have been lucky enough to play. Kal at The Underground took a chance on us when we were still unknown and we started a trial with the agency before the “Gone Too Long EP” had even been released, so we are very grateful for this. Luckily that track did pretty well (haha!) so we are now fully signed to The Underground alongside amazing artists like Finnebassen and Dale Howard. Kal has secured us some awesome gigs so far including international performances in Germany, Holland and Denmark and our upcoming tour schedule seems to be getting busier which is great!
What are the main goals for 2013? What’s next on the horizon?
Obviously our main focus at the moment is our material for Crosstown Rebels, as we are really hoping that we can put together an album for them this year, so that is the main studio focus at the minute. It’s great to be able to take our time and really develop material that we love and that’s filled with feeling and emotion.
We are also developing the ‘live’ aspect of our performances and are working with Traktor, Ableton and Maschine, plus live vocals, to get really creative when performing our own material and this is something we hope to start showcasing later this year.
Amazing. Good luck with all your future plans and thanks for taking the time to talk to us!
We would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone that has supported us so far, we really do appreciate it so much! And thanks to MEOKO for chatting to us 🙂
Him_Self_Her are headlining the Cultured party on Saturday 6th April at Nomad club, London. Check out the event here.
MEOKO’s brand new feature sees our correspondents set foot on foreign soils – in this first edition Bj Daly ventures to the land of cheese and mountains to see what our friends on the Continent are getting up to.
Geneva, Switzerland, is not a city one associates with a thriving underground scene. A financial city by nature, Geneva’s picturesque waterfront is fronted by banks, luxury goods shops and old world watchmakers. Yet this Easter weekend, tucked away a little downriver from where Lake Geneva drains out and becomes the River Rhone, a scene of a quite different nature is unravelling- Electron Festival is celebrating its tenth anniversary.
Touching down into Geneva airport at 10pm on Friday night nursing no small hangover due to the previous evenings’ festivities with Mulletover (which did much to restore their reputation), with no time to lose I immediately make my way into the city centre and downriver past the Batiment des Forces Motrices, an imposing opera house and exposition center which sits in the middle of the river and previously served as a hydroelectric power station until 1980. On the opposite riverbank, I happen upon the ‘Usine’, French for ‘Factory’ which is the main nerve center from which the festival started 10 years ago. The Usine is much akin to the legendary Kunsthaus Tacheles art center in Berlin (closed as of September 2012) and in a similar fashion houses concert halls, a nightclub, art spaces, studios, a theatre and a cinema, all used to various extent by a non-profit artist collective to promote art, culture and music.
Temple of Boom- L’Usine Cultural Center
With no time to hang about, I immediately head over to pick up my press pass in the staff area and bump into Andre Joye, one of the festival programmers, who gives me the quick low down on what Electron is all about.
“What did you set out to achieve with the artistic programming of Electron on this, your 10th anniversary?”
AJ:“We wanted to take a look back retrospectively at music on the international circuit over the years. A lot of hype is created over artists who don’t yet deserve the acclaim and we endeavoured a return to old school values. As such, whilst the programming is very diverse in genres and offers a nice mix of established and emerging artists, we have tried to place the emphasis on legends and pioneers of many varying genres. This edition for instance will feature techno and acid-house pioneers LFO, House legends Derrick Carter, Theo Parrish and DJ Sneak, digital punk-hardcore act Atari Teenage Riot and mythical reggae collective Trojan Soundsystem. Let’s not forget either the legend that is Daniel Miller and also special mention to the 20-year anniversary showcase of the seminal German Techno label Kompakt, to which the opening night was dedicated and which featured Mohn, Sascha Funke, Justus Köhncke, Saschienne and enchanting Brazilian producer Gui Boratto.
“How do you feel Electron is positioned within the over saturated electronic festival scene in Europe?
AJ: “The Internet creates so much buzz around artists who may have only released a handful of records. As a result, festival line-ups easily become influenced by this hype and many across Europe begin to look a bit identikit in look and feel. We try to offer a programming both musical and artistic which is diverse and different as we feel our public is curious and hungry to discover new artists that have perhaps hitherto been underrated. It is also important to us to respect our own artistic scene without which none of this would be possible. As such the festival features many talented Swiss and local artists such as Quenum, Crowdpleaser Dachshund, Oram Modular and Kadebostany – to name but a few featuring alongside more established international contemporaries.”
“Finally Andre, what is your “Coup de Coeur” of the Festival?”
AJ:“For me it’s got to be The Bug feat. Daddy Freddy. I’ve been a Drum n’ Bass DJ and producer for many years and he has been a massive influence on me.
As soon as I finish with André, I’m on the run again as I’ve scheduled an interview with French producer Rone. On my way over from the Palladium concert hall, the largest capacity venue of the festival’s eight separate sites, I can’t help myself from pulling up at the Kompakt pop up store, loaded with almost every Kompakt release over the last 20 years. The place is a goldmine and I make a promise to myself to come back and dig through the crates.
I meet Rone, or Erwan Castex in the backstage area of the downstairs venue of the Usine, meandering first through graffiti covered corridors and staircases that typify this kind of European art center, which feels very much like a mansion squat in places (that’s a good thing!). Rone is one of the revelations of 2012 following the release and widespread critical acclaim of his album, Tohu Bohu, French for ‘Hurly-Burly’,on Agoria’s Parisian label Infiné. (catch the full interview next week on MEOKO).
Aside from being an excellent producer, Rone turns out to be a really sound guy. Something about producers who don’t DJ typifies them in the loveable geek mould. After a long 30 minutes spent chatting over some vodka red bulls served up by Rone himself, I return to the press area to drop my gear and on the way back manage to catch about 20 mins of LFO from the VIP balcony area. Although LFO was originally a 2 piece act consisting of Gez Farley and Mark Bell, Mark Bell is now the sole representative of this groundbreaking, pioneering act, and has since achieved notoriety as the producer behind Bjork, as well as remixing the likes of Depeche Mode and Dave Clarke. Given that LFO predates me, I am particularly excited to catch him / them live for the first time after growing up listening to them at a tender age. As I watch from afar, I see Mark with a minimalist table set up entice a curious crowd with glitchy, frantic high-octane noise. As for me, this is no doubt the first time most people here get to see first-hand what LFO is all about and the massive influence they have had upon electronic music.
LFO’s Mark Bell
Eager to catch up with some old friends, I make my way back to L’Usine and head upstairs to the Zoo, the main club venue. This place smells like sweat, smoke and alcohol, a good combination for any club. With just the right amount of production value put into lights and visuals, the place is professional but raw – a fine balance to achieve by any means. As I arrive, house maestro Derrick Carter is playing his signature blend of Jazz infused Chicago house. The crowd in here is busy and pent up with TGIF party energy- people are dancing, chatting, and whistling as the main man DC effortlessly takes us to Ibiza and back to Chicago with another saxophone infused house track.
A glance at my phone tells me it’s just gone 2am, which means its time to go back downstairs to see Rone, a concert I have been eagerly anticipating. As I push my way into the crowd for a better position, its clear that this guy is not unheard of here- the crowd is bumper to bumper and wolf whistles are going out before he’s even come on stage. Playing on Ableton live, he starts out his set with dreamy, melancholic tracks to which the crowd sways, gradually building up and interspersing long beautiful synths with more tech-minimal, glitch wizardry. In between tracks, which last on average 12 minutes, there is rapturous applause and you get the feeling this is a really special moment for Erwan, who is humble in his appreciation as he bows and bows again before getting on with the show. He gradually builds his set up to an intense crescendo, and the crowd go wild, lost in rapture. Finally, he closes with “Bye Bye Macadam” sending shivers and goose bumps down every spine in the room.
Rone “Bye Bye Macadam”
Rone is swiftly followed by Drum N’ Bass twosome Loadstar. The contrast in energy and genre is markedly different, a smart programming move which serves to re-inject fuel into the crowd, who’ve just been lulled by the magic of Rone. Loadstar proceed to whip the crowd into a UK-style frenzy, and the smell of joints in the air is palpable. After such an intense auditory experience, I head back upstairs to the Zoo making my way past people hanging out on good vibes in every corner. I finish the night listening to Anja Schneider play some deep and reasoned afterhour’s techno, allowing people to breathe and catch up on each other’s nights. Anja’s forever big smile and infectious charisma permeates through her sound and makes this the ideal end to a great night- Thugfucker and Tale of Us’ “Morgana” is a particular highlight.
Anja Schneider closing Friday night in Zoo club
I make it back to the festival site late Saturday afternoon in time to catch a showing of “Real Scenes: Detroit” in the Sputnik cinema, again housed within the Usine building complex. Detroit’s influence on electronic music is often referred to in the past tense, but this short documentary shows us that despite the bust of the auto industry and economy, Detroit will continue to be an influence on electronic music for years to come with old hands like Kyle Hall passing on their knowledge and skills to a new generation of beatmakers, including 14-year-old Reuel Walker (you heard it here first!).
With a bit more time to kill before the night’s action begins, I head over to the centre of contemporary art and check out some of the expositions, workshops and conferences going on there as part of the festival. This area doubles up as the festival chill out area, a nice touch given what’s on offer for those with sore legs and tired ears. I’m particularly drawn to the art installation of teamlab (Tokyo), an interactive walk-through structure supporting a collection of helium-inflated balloons that react to actions provoked by the public. Other attractions include ‘Feel the Food’ an experimental sensorial experience mixing sight, sound and taste and an exhibition put on by students of the Haute Ecole D’art & Design entitled “Sound experimentations, hallucinated landscapes & sharing the atmosphere”.
Interactive art installation by teamlab (Tokyo)
Later on, with not much more of real interest to me on the programme I head to the large venue Palladium to catch a bit of Erol and Tiga. A guilty pleasure perhaps, but both of these know how to make people dance and Erol is particularly bumping, playing classic electro and tech house backed by visuals which would make a blind man have an epileptic fit. Elsewhere, Jon Convex (half of duo Instra:mental), Shackleton and Mala in Cuba are playing, these acts among other lesser known ones in the genre – an indication of the high level of appreciation for Reggae-Dub in this part of the world and again the diversity of the programming to cater to a unique, international crowd of all ages and backgrounds. At one point I am intent on going to see Theo Parrish who’s playing a six-hour set but it’s a bit of a walk to the venue and security tell me I cant get back in to the main area if I go. As it turns out, Theo Parrish’s set was fraught with sound problems and the feedback I received was disappointing, a real shame for a guy of his stature. I end the night back in trusty Zoo, with Geneva local Dachshund playing a blinding minimal-tech set. The vibe is positive and groovy, best summed up by the 2012 anthem “Future” by Kevin Saunderson / Inner City (Kenny Larkin Tension Mix) which gets dropped at some point to the general merriment of everyone present. Dachshund epitomises the kind of burgeoning Swiss underground talent who are well respected on the continent but have yet to feature prominently in the UK.
* (Dachshund featured for MEOKO back in September 2012- if you haven’t already heard the mix, give it a listen here- you won’t be disappointed! Click above.)
Dachshund (left) and Erol doing their thing
By the time Sunday rolls around, I’m feeling the effects of three nights on the go, including an official after-party hosted by up and coming Swiss techno label Wasserflasche. Nonetheless, I make it back to the festival site for one last hurrah. On this final night the festival is scaled down to just the two venues inside L’Usine. I catch Quenum first, a legendary Swiss DJ who has a CV that reads like a book. Along with Luciano (also Swiss), who founded Cadenza Records and has released ove
60 records over a long career spanning back to the 80’s and is also behind one of the most seminal techno tracks ever in “Orange Mistake”.
Luciano & Quenum “Orange Mistake”
Next up I catch Australian Berlin resident Deepchild, who plays a dark and quirky techno set, the kind you would expect from a guy who plays regularly in Berghain and Tresor. DJ Sneak follows, driving the room with his gangsta take-no-prisoners attitude and slamming house, marked by his signature sound of tight snares and high hats. He moves back and forth through genres including tech house, ghetto tech and techno and at one point he drops Shadow Child’s “23” as the crowd continuously go mental. You can tell there is real appreciation for Sneak and he seems to be enjoying the real, raw and unpolished atmosphere of the club, taking several videos on his phone and hanging about after his set on stage as Swiss house maestros Round Table Knights take over until close.
DJ Sneak- The Original House Gangsta’
Unable to move my legs to the jackin’ beat anymore, I head downstairs just as Peaches and a posse of scantily clad female dancers wearing devil-goat masks and covered in fake blood are finishing up terrorizing an audience with some kind of transgressive/S&M show backed by her trademark electroclash-punk head banging sound. Swiss act Luluxpo follow playing slow deep, hypnotic Peyote-Techno similar to Rebolledo and Matias Aguayo, and like with Peaches, the emphasis is on the show as an enchanting Burlesque dancer takes to the stage to tease the audience with intense sexual energy. It’s an intelligent programming decision and the ideal end to the festival, as the focus on the performance element in both these shows allows listeners to rest tired ears and legs and watch the theatrical displays on offer.
Luluxpo feat. Emma Mylan (Burlesque dancer)
It’s hard to sum up Electron in one word. I guess for anyone who’s been there, its most similar in its DNA to Sonar by day, with a diverse array of cultural and artistic offerings to be enjoyed, from an eclectic musical programming to dance performances, art expositions, cinema screenings, conferences, workshops and more. In all areas of the festival, one can feel the omnipresent influence of extremely well heeled programmers of art school backgrounds who appreciate a range of genres and offer up a fine selection in order to not only please audiences with well loved acts but also to make them discover and appreciate new music and art that they might not have otherwise been exposed to. Perhaps most striking is that as Geneva does not feature prominently on typical clubbing calendars, unlike say its bigger regional brothers Amsterdam, Barcelona or Berlin, Electron promoters are free from Internet buzz hype, the need to appear outwardly ‘cool’ or to meet pre-defined rave culture stereotypes. The result is a friendly, convivial festival that celebrates art and culture in all its forms and an embracing, appreciative crowd is of all ages and backgrounds.
Meoko highlights: Rone, Dachshund, Quenum, Dj Sneak, Deepchild, Kompakt Pop Up Store, Art exhibitions
Special Thanks to Danièle McClellan, André Joye and Erwan Castex
Meoko Horizons is next reporting from Timewarp, Mannheim, (April 6th)
Mr. Statik is known to many from his hugely successful residency at Athens’ place-to-be, ‘Six D.O.G.S’. Originally heavily influenced by the 90′s breakbeat and early hardcore scene, Statik went on to gain international recognition in the contemporary techno scene, a long standing contribution to the community that included numerous slots at many international renowned festivals and releases on some of the world’s leading house and techno labels. Right before he moves to Berlin , MEOKO caught up with Mr.Statik to discuss his first release for 2013, why he is leaving Greece and some top travel tips for touring DJs by the man himself !
CLICK BELOW FOR EXCLUSIVE MR STATIK MIX
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Mr Statik. We know you have a busy schedule – how has everything been going?
Happy to be on board! Actually 2013 has already wiped the floor with 2012, I was in London for almost the entire January, started working at Six D.O.G.S in Athens on booking/club coordination, signed to the lovely crew of Love City Central, and the first of several EPs came out already on Berlin’s Rotary Cocktail – can’t really complain to be honest, these are exciting times!
I know that you are about to move to Berlin, what are your plans there?
Well I recently got a very interesting job offer from the crew that runs Red Bull Music Academy to join their upcoming Berlin HQ, so if all goes well I should be heading out there before the beginning of the summer. First class opportunity to also get a bit closer to the heart of things – most of the labels I work with these days are German so I guess it’s a win-win situation any way you approach it.
So what’s something that you’re going to miss from your daily life in Greece ?
Given the fact that these couple of days its already 20+ degrees in Athens and I was just seeing friends posting snowy pictures in Berlin, the sun seems to be the first thing! Good thing that I’ll have to move during the summer and ease my way into the darkness. Besides that family first and foremost, my circle of friends too, in general the attitude of Greek people towards the hard situation that we’re going through right now, as many guests from abroad have pointed out they can’t imagine many people from other European countries facing such setbacks the way we do. Having said all that, I wouldn’t mind migrating a couple of proper Greek restaurants to Berlin, it seems that the city needs them as well….
‘Carnal Haze’ on Rotary Cocktail is the first release we heard from you for this year. Tell us some more things about this mind-blowing track.
Well there’s quite a story here. At first my Italian buddies, Cosmic Cowboys, contacted me to do a collaboration for their upcoming album, which is actually the laid back Digital bonus of the EP, ‘Lazy Daze’. They sent me a couple of tracks to choose from that were broken down into parts and then I sliced and re-arranged everything so as to give my own perspective. This actually worked out really effortlessly so we decided to do one more. Same procedure, definitely felt like going to a clubbier direction and since at the time I was already working on some material with my fellow Greek artist and dear friend, Lee Burton, he came on board providing the vocals/lyrics on ‘Carnal Haze’. Nico from Cosmic Cowboys then sent these two to Martin from youANDme, for some primary feedback, couple of weeks later I hear back from them that they are signed on Rotary Cocktail so there you go 🙂
In regards to your own productions, what projects are you working on at the moment?
Well actually the heavier amount of studio work took place through out 2012, now I’m in the process of sending pre-masters of all the signed material. As you mentioned, Carnal Haze came out already, so now I have one track on the upcoming BPitch Control Where The Wind Blows compilation at the end of the month featuring the enigmatic Beatrice Ballabile on vocal duties. We just received the masters to the upcoming IRR release together with Lee Burton called ‘Tentonine”, sporting two interpretations of the title track, should be out in mid April. June marks my return to Mo’s with ‘Roll down the shutters’, two dub cuts featuring one of my favourite vocalists of this scene, Sasha Perera of Jahcoozi fame, plus remixes by label head Dapayk and Daze Maxim, and hopefully at some point around the summer you’ll will find my debut to one of my all time fave French labels, Karat, with the ‘Synthia Moogatu’ EP. Besides all these, got some side projects too such as Steamupunk’d, which is focused on mine and Lee Burton’s mutual love of analogue, bleepy, micro house, plus a Subbed Out related one which stems from the same-named bass-oriented club night we do with my buddy Runner, and also finally STTK MSTR which will be techno only (finally!).
It barely takes a pair of ears to tell that you have a real passion for techno. How were you first exposed to these sounds and what artists did you grow up on?
Well actually for many years since my original involvement with electronic music in the early 90s, I was more of a hardcore/breaks/jungle fan thanks to a pirate radio station in the city of Volos where I grew up and two older private English schoolmates that introduced that sound. Techno didn’t really kick in properly till I moved in Athens for political science studies in ’98, its where I grew up as a clubber initially and a reluctant selector – I would hardly call it DJing what I did in the beginning. However getting familiar with the early Plastikman era, Jeff Mills, James Ruskin, Fumiya Tanaka, Surgeon and the Scandinavian scene really shaped up the sound I was into. It wasn’t up until 2003 and my participation in that year’s RBMA in Cape town, and the interaction with like-minded AND different oriented musicians from across the world that brought a diversity in my DJ sets and a gradual decrease in BPMs. I’d say that right now I’m hiding in the shadow that techno casts upon house, or is it the other way round, can’t really tell…
Apart from electronic music, what other genres do you feel have helped shaped the sound you bring today?
Well I’m a big fan of soundtracks, I always try to find the time and check out as many as I can. I’ve always found it so challenging to be able to combine audio and visual in one seamless way, to be able to catch the moment and still make sense on a stand alone level. On the other hand I’m a huge NIN fan, have been following them since the early days and really excited that they are coming back – super happy too that Joshua Eustis (of Telefon Tel Aviv fame) will be joining the new roster, he’s such a talented musician and I had the luck to work with him couple of years ago on my first EP for BPitch Control. TOOL would also be a band that still inspires me a lot, both on a musical and a visual level, they love storytelling and I guess I’m more fixated in conceptual artists than genres on a horizontal level.
With all the traveling and the constantly expanding technology and gear, what is something that always stays in your DJ bag. What is something you always have to have with you?
Records? [laughs] Well I’m not the typical example of your state of the art, hi tech, DJ dude. Still love my vinyl and If I didn’t have a slip disc injury last year I’d be still playing 100% vinyl. These days I got to split between the two formats and I’ve “shamefully” come to admit that a USB stick with fresh promos, new beats, on the fly purchases can come in extremely handy. Dunno if it counts as something but I never travel withiout a copy of Perlon 026 😉
What would be your top three travel tips for touring DJs?
Try local cuisines, there’s always a chance you’ll be wonderfully surprised.
Arrange flights (when possible of course) so that you can spend at least a bit if time to check out the city/country’s history, sometimes we tend to forget what lucky bastards we actually are.
Get a sleep mask, airplanes aren’t the friendliest sleeping environment and sometimes you might just not want to scare off the person sitting next to you.
What was the most memorable set you’ve played recently?
Well I had a great time playing for the first time in Brussels at the Wood, really lovely venue/crew of people literally in the woods at the outskirts of the city, snow out side, and the crowd although seemingly young was quite receptive of a certain amount of freakiness. Klub D in Cyprus was also wonderful, first time there too, there’s a very passionate team behind it and you always have to respect the extra effort of receiving such quality in places so far away from the heart of the scene. And then there’s that Six D.O.G.S place in Athens that I hear is quite a treat.:)
What’s one thing that you don’t see enough of in the music industry that you’d like to see?
Well I always root for the unsung heroes and the storytellers no matter what, so I guess I’d like to see the industry revert back a bit to what the DJ is actually all about – both an entertainer AND an educator of sorts – unfortunately things are turning uneven towards the first category these days. I understand that this, in the end, is still a money business but the people behind this industry should “allow” the performers to take their risks, interesting things always come out of risks. In the end one of the most revered DJ mixes/compilations of all time for me (and hopefully other people too) is ‘Letsallmakemistakes’ by Matthew Herbert…and he’s not often wrong, is he?
There’s a certain charming, confident air about Terje Bakke. The young Norwegian may have been releasing records since as early as 2006, but it was in 2011 that he really started to make waves, ditching the big-room sounds of trance, tech house and minimal for deeper, more subtle tones. Having spent the previous 12 months locked away in the library finishing his studies, Terje is back and raring to go for 2013. Widely considered mature beyond his years behind the decks, MEOKO thought it time we catch a word or two with Terje and delve deeper into the mind behind the music (plus, he made us an hour long mix you can download below!)
CLICK BELOW FOR EXCLUSIVE TERJE BAKKE MIX
Hi Terje, thanks for your time. Now that 2013 is well into its stride, how has the year played out for you so far?
Salute! So far so good…There have been some quiet months recently with proper studio time. I love when I get the chance to sit for weeks in my studio.
One of the highlights of your career to date must have been the inclusion of ‘Ekaterinburg’ on the Visionquest Fabric mix. Do you remember where you were when you first heard the news? How did it impact on you as an artist?
It was a big moment in my life, one of the best ever. You know the feeling where you just feel totally alive? I was standing there in the shower, you know, all naked and shit, and this big voice came from above telling me I was the lucky chosen one to be a part of the forthcoming Visionquest compilation fabric series. I was like “OH REALLY??” I started to cry because then I finally understood I’m going to be a superstar….
Ha, no. Honestly, this was not one of the highlights of my career. Do not misunderstand me, however. I’m forever thankful that they included my track on the compilation and it gave me great exposure for sure but there are several other things I value more than being a part of a CD compilation, no matter what compilation it is or who is behind it.
I feel like after 2011, 2012 was a much slower year for you. Why was this? Will 2013 see you back to full-fitness?
I’m glad you’ve asked this question because I have the urge to tell the world why! The reason why it’s been silent/slow concerning me the last two years is because I have wanted to focus on finishing my studies properly before going all in with music. I’ve been working on music all this time as well, but I put a lot of effort and love into my productions so I figured I wanted to work hard on some quality, rather than just spit out some random work just to keep my name warm. I haven’t released new original music in almost two years. I finished my studies last June and have worked on new material harder than ever since then. The process takes a long time with me, but in the end I’m sure it will all be worth it.
2013 will definitely see me back in full-fitness, as I’ve finished dozens of new tracks including forthcoming full EPs on Visionquest and Be Chosen. And this time I won’t look back! I’m working on music full-time now and don’t have any obstacles in the way anymore.
Where do you want to take yourself as an artist in 2013? Do you set yourself end of year goals?
I have a lot of goals. My 2013 goal is to establish myself on a higher level as an artist and tell the world “Hello, I’m back” with my upcoming releases. Then 2014 will be there year of Terje Bakke. Long-term goal is total world domination… [Laughs].
For a long time you were balancing making and playing music with your studies. Is that still the case? That must have been difficult. Did you ever feel like abandoning your studies to pursue music full-time?
It’s been very difficult to be honest. My dream, a long time before I ever started my studies, was to make it as a musician. Right after I started my 3-year Bachelor degree, things started to loosen up and I met the right people in the scene. So I had to balance it for many years and often thought, “I should just quit school and work on music full-time.” I also had a part-time job and it was a big decision for me to just say, “fuck it, I’m leaving.” Saying goodbye to security you know?
But I’m proud of myself that I kept going and now have a grade to fall back upon if I don’t succeed with music in the future. I would love to take a Masters as well at some point, as I really enjoyed what I studied. My dream is to combine my grade and music in the future and soon maybe I will! I studied ‘Information Science’. The term is vague, but it’s basically about providing information – everything from programming to database to marketing to digital communication.
Like a lot of people, your entry into electronic music was through trance. How did you first encounter these first records? And how is it that you arrived at the deeper pastures you now inhabit?
I found the world of trance naturally through the net. I was young, naïve and loved straight melodies in the face. Trance was my obvious choice at the time. When I got older I understood there is more depth to music than just straight melodies in your face and structured grooves. I like to say I got more intelligent when it comes to approaching music and my style and taste evolved and got more playful and creative. I wish I was “smarter” at a younger age but I also like to believe that the path I’ve chosen has shaped me to become the artist and even DJ I am today. I still love melodies, and producing strong melodies and stories comes very naturally to me.
How do you rate your abilities as a producer? Do you feel you have a lot more still to give?
I once asked Thomas Melchior that question and he told me he still has more to give because creativity is a natural process in his blood. He would never get empty of ideas and always knows he will be able to pull it off. And he’s like 50? I don’t know though – I’m not saying I’ll be another Thomas Melchior but I feel I’m in the same boat as him when it comes to natural creativity. Ideas come completely natural to me and I’m never afraid of not being able to express my art, because I simply have too many ideas. I’m totally free from notes, scales and structures when I create music. My music will therefore always naturally evolve and never get stuck in the same veins. I think it’s a massive quality that I simply cannot control.
Techno-esque repetition seems a strong feature of your productions. What is about 1 or 2 bar loops that you feel convey such a strong, particular message?
My music is made for DJ sets not for the radio. Similarly I produce music for my own DJ sets, not for live gigs (because I’m a DJ, not a live artist). I produce and play music that is to be told in a story (several tracks), not track by track. My message comes from this repetition of subtle changes forming a complete story. I believe if served right, people can reach plains of intensive pleasure and happiness in their body – what do you call them…endorphins? Just pure happiness. I think the repetition in production (and whole DJ sets) can be looked upon as a kind of hypnotisation process, so when the crazy after-hours DJ pulls off some mind-fuck in the morning sun and you just stand there and feel pure happiness and love for life, then the DJs before him did their job well! Then the whole story of the evening has been a success: the hypnotising process worked and the cool after-hours DJ can now play with your minds. A good DJ can fuck it up real good, and I’m sure drugs can make that trip even more crazy… [Laughs].
As these are still the relatively early stages of your career, do you feel a constant pressure when DJing to present yourself to the absolute best of your ability? In hyper critical age of the internet, do you feel like you’re constantly being judged and picked apart?
No. I feel completely free when producing and DJing. I know what I can do and what I’m good at. If people like it then, “Heyyy you’re cool, lets find an afterparty” and if they hate it then, “Hey, fuck off wise-ass”. Ha but seriously, if people want to pick apart and judge or just get all hating, then that’s their issue really. I wish I was as confident in real life as I am with my music!
Finally, what’s the next big challenge for Terje Bakke? What would you especially like to achieve in the next 6 months?
My next big challenge is to establish myself on a higher level – how do you say it? Go from Championship to Premier League. This means getting enough gigs and income to be able to keep on living my dream. Easier said than done, but I think I’m one of the lucky ones who has the possibility to pull it off now. I also have some exciting projects I’m working on that I want to launch and establish this year!
Thanks for chatting with us Terje – we look forward to the world domination you speak of!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Something pretty special is happening in Mexico at the moment. While most of the globe readily associates the Spanish-speaking arm of North America with nothing but burritos and body bags, thanks to BPM Festival and the influence of US club-culture, Mexico is fast putting itself on the map as one of the world’s most vociferous consumers of electronic music. Hailing from the border town of Mexicali, DJ and production duo Climbers have found themselves at the forefront of this sonic drive, notching up releases on Culprit, Get Physical and Moodmusic, to name but a few. MEOKO caught up with JB and KD to discuss their beloved nation’s newfound obsession with 4/4 and the role they have to play in all of it.
Hey guys, thanks for talking to us. First off, I have to ask you. How the hell was BPM? I’ve heard nothing but amazing things.
KD:Well what can I say about BPM … it was sick! This year was our second time there and it was really amazing, the people, the music, the weather, the parties and the vibe were all perfect! We saw a lot of friends we met on our travels from different parts of the world and we had the opportunity to share good moments with all of them at the festival.
There seems to be something really exciting happening electronic music-wise in Mexico at the moment. Why now do you think? What’s changed?
JB: Right now electronic music is growing really fast in our country. We have to admit the fact that electronic music is now popular on radio stations, TV shows, movies has contributed considerably. Now all the mainstream artists are “electronic”. By that I mean the sound they have is electro, progressive, dubstep or some other type mixed with the pop sound, so that’s making all the new generations know more about this type of music and they are searching the internet for more of the same, which is the interesting part. Because that way they find more music, different artists and DJs and producers that are doing other things, not just what the media are offering.
KD: Last month we had the opportunity to play with Miguel Campbell in our home town Mexicali and there were like 8000 people there! The majority were kids between 15 and 18 years old. The first time Miguel played here there were like 300 people, and that was like 2 years ago. I guess that’s a good example to show the levels of popularity the music has reached.
Could you tell us about the music scenes in Mexico, and specifically in Mexicali, when you were growing up? Did electronic music have much of a place?
KD: Well there’s a lot of scenes in Mexico: rock, pop, hip hop, house and many more types of music, but if you wanna know which one is the biggest I guess I’m gonna choose the regional music, that’s definitely the biggest scene in our country.
JB: Yeah regional music is the bigger one in Mexico and it’s the same in Mexicali. The house scene in our town has always existed, but obviously before it was underground, there were parties and everything but you need to be really into that to know where or when there’s gonna be a rave. Now its different, we have festivals and you can see the whole city holding flyers of the new event or the DJ that is coming.
A lot of the artists that have come through have strong ties to this modern Hot Creations/Crosstown Rebels/No.19 house sound. Do you think this style captured the imagination of Mexicans in a way previously unseen?
JB: Well I guess I can’t speak for the whole country but at least for me these guys bring something to our country that has changed the whole vibe of electronic music. Before that we just heard techno or tech house, but I remember the first time we saw Lee Foss here, my friends and I were like what is this? We connected with the sound and after that the whole scene changed and we started looking for more of this new ‘thing’.
You grew up in Mexicali right on the border. Is the scene in Mexico regional or is it very concentrated in Mexico city?
JB: Well Mexico City is the capital of our country, and is one of the biggest cities in the whole continent so of course there’s a bigger movement there than elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean it’s better than other parts. It depends what you’re looking for. In some places they get bigger crowds, in others they have small crowds but the people are just as educated and really into the music.
KD: The USA has a big influence over us because as you said before, we live on the border, but I guess that doesn’t define if we can have good music or not. I mean we have good music in our town, like what the Mexa guys are doing now, but that came from the culture of the person, not from the area they live in.
Do you see any relationship between the burgeoning electronic scene and the recent full-on crackdown on violent, drug-related crime in the country? Has that made Mexico and Mexicans more secure and free to explore and enjoy music?
JB: I think even though the violence in our country is undoubtedly an issue, it has also brought the best out of the youth because we see so many positive movements all around the country. Kids are painting, making music and engaging with so many others disciplines of art.
KD: I think the scene is growing now because people are desperate to enjoy themselves and have a good time while there is a lot of pain and suffering around them. Mexican people are particularly honest about that, which I love.
You’ve put together a mix for MEOKO. Could you tell us a bit about it and the approach you used?
Jb: Well we just put in some new tracks we’re feeling, some of our upcoming work and bound it all together with love.
Finally, what exactly does 2013 hold for Climbers? It must be shaping up to be one hell of a year for you both.
JB: Well yeah we’ve got a lot of new ventures on the horizon. We start touring in 2 weeks: we’re going to Canada, Europe, Australia, Brasil and some other countries. We’ve got 2 EPs to release with our great family label Get Physical, including one in the company of our girls Blondish and also a new EP on Culprit, which will feature the vocals from our new talent Yasmine Asaiez. We also have an EP with the great German label OFF Recordings, where we’re collaborating with Barber and Silky and the Price of Power EP on Electronique with a great remix, but I can’t say too much about that one.
KD: Another big thing for us to look forward to is the release of our label Faceless Recordings alongside our homies Barber and Silky which is going to be a real step up for us in our careers.
Ian F grew up in Slovenia only to build bridges via sound and musical concepts, is carefully welding together both, his own productions, and his djing activities, to come forth with something intrinsically authentic: The multifacetted mastermind, driving force behind the Coloursmusic net label, oscillates actively between all his creative outlets and outputs, be it organising events, managing labels and artists, djing, and producing, and this wide-angled take on electronic music and the culture behind it is something which inevitably shows and gives his sound an emotional component. Driving, eclectic and smooth, his mixes and productions are meandering like a river towards the Meditereanean, sparkling, quirky, yet laidback and profound. Djing is actually a spiritual moment for him, and this is just one of the many truths he talks about openly in this short but precise interview.
Hi Ian, happy new year to you. How do you reflect back on 2012? What lessons do you take with you into 2013?
Hello MEOKO, happy new year to you too! 2012 was pretty intense for me.. It was a bit exhausting but also a lot of good things happened. I had to make some decisions in my life and change a few things but at the end I gained a lot as a person and as an artist as well. I have travelled and performed abroad more than in the previous years, met a lot of nice people around and made a few good friendships for which I’m really happy. So at the end I can say that I’m very satisfied about everything. In 2013, I would like to continue this way and one of my main lessons will be to believe more in myself 🙂
Last time MEOKO spoke to you, you were looking forward to working on your first artist album. How is that coming along? When will we see a release?
It’s still too early to talk about the release of my album but I can say that I’m working on it and I moved few steps further since our last talk.. I’m more a DJ than a producer so I’m constantly trying to learn as much as I can about production to reach my own sound that will satisfy me. And would definitely like to release a few more EP’s before I will decide to put out my album. We are also finishing some new tracks with Francesco Del Garda and we’re looking forward to make an EP together so maybe this will be the next thing coming out soon.
How would you currently describe the electronic scene in Slovenia? Do you feel challenged and inspired living and working there on a day-to-day basis?
In my humble opinion there is too many “wannabe” DJ’s, promotors and all kind of people who don’t have a clue how they should work and build a quality scene but they act as they are the creators of this culture in Slovenia. Most of them are there just because of the profit or even worse, just because of the hype.. Unfortunately quantity replaced quality and this is wrong. So this is not a real scene for me 🙂
If I talk about the real thing I can say that there is a small but quality underground scene in Slovenia with really good artists, true supporters and few promotors that know how to do their jobs.. Beside this, I have noticed that there is a younger generation of DJ’s coming up who are able to see this difference and who are buying vinyls and they really dig music. I’m surprised more and more every year and this is very positive. But our country is small and you can’t survive as an artist only from this scene.
I don’t feel really challenged living here because of DJ-ing but I feel inspired and creative anyways. I’m surrounded by nice people and friends and we support each other. Beside this I live on the sea side, we have almost a mediterranean climate, a lot of nature is around, the area is calm, there is no violence.. It’s a good place to live or have a studio here but it can be also boring sometimes so it’s nice to travel around while I’m DJ-ing and I’m really thankful I can enjoy both sides.
Your ‘Colours in Music’ project is really interesting. Tell us a bit more about the concept, who is involved and why you set it up in the first place.
We started the project in 2010 with my good friend Aneuria. We’ve been collaborating since many years before, digging similar music, working in the studio together, sharing a lot of common ideas connected to the music and club culture through all the years.. So we decided to do our first event in April 2010 at club K4 in our capital city Ljubljana.
Immediately a lot of things started making sense for us and we got the right vision how to put all our ideas and brainstormings from the past in one concept, so we decided to open a label as well under the same name. Our vision was to connect also with other crews and new, younger artists that we respect and support and to create a network all together where we can share the music and other art forms which inspire us.
So one year later we invited Vid Vai and Evano to join Colours in Music. They are a bit younger than us but in my opinion very talented DJs and producers from Ljubljana who are helping us to expand the project even further and making it even more colourful. From this winter on also Francesco Del Garda from Italy joined our crew and we are very happy and proud to have him on board. There is also a younger generation of slovenian DJs that we support and believe in.. Dj Fraku, who recently joined our crew, than dj Royce is also an interesting name and there are some other guys that we believe will rise in the forthcoming years..
Why did you decide to focus in on the notion of colour so specifically?
We realized with Aneuria that our ideas, music, productions, are developing and changing through time, which is normal and natural in my opinion.. It’s somehow colourful, if you wish to describe it in one word. And colours were a good synonym to describe this work, music and process. The best way to explain this is the actual description of our concept:
Because for us music is very colourful, boundless and through this, we process our sounds through the machines which results in it having a very organic attitude. Producing and performing music is a spiritual thing, a purifying process that fills the chakras with the energy, which connects us to the nature and places us on the right spot in the cosmic order of things. Or in a more rational language: creating and consuming music in the right environments with the right crowd makes us feel good. This is our approach to the music, clubbing, supporters, art, party, culture and everything that goes with it
How have the public responded to the ‘Colours in Music’ parties, releases and to the project more generally?
Very good actually and we really appreciate it. We weren’t expecting such support at the beginning. I am very satisfied because we have people at our events in Slovenia at K4 who are coming to our parties to hear something new and to get educated with music and this is very important for us. I can never say thank you enough to all our supporters 🙂
Part of it is a free digital download label. Why did you choose to release your music for free?
Because we support vinyl and didn’t want to open just another digital label and put it on all mp3 music stores.. But since we can’t afford to print our releases on vinyl yet we decided to give the tracks for free also as a courtesy to all our supporters and as a gift to the DJs that we respect. People who download the music for free can still donate if they wish, it’s up to them. This is all part of the expanding network that we created which I was explaining before.
Right now we are about to release our first various artists CD which will be on sale and will be limited edition with hand made cover and we hope we’ll be able to start also with our first vinyl release this year.
Could you tell us about some of the music/events you have lined up for 2013? Will you be in the UK much?
In February we’ll have our next Colours event in Ljubljana with Valentino Kanzyani as guest, where I’ll play back to back with Aneuria, then I’m going to Rijeka – Croatia, in the same month I’m playing in Rome – Italy, then in March I’m going for the first time to Moscow – Russia, to play on a Next Wave event, in April I’ll be in Club Der Visionaere in Berlin, in May I will perform again in Croatia on Lighthouse festival and for the summer I will be in Ibiza for the whole season playing for Next Wave events as a resident dj.. All my scheduled dates are on my Facebook fan page anyhow..
You’re playing for Undersound in London on Saturday 19th January. What can we expect from your performance? Will you be fully representing the ‘Colours in Music’ brand?
Sure, Francesco Del Garda and me will be fully representing Colours in Music and will try to bring as much positive energy as we can and of course quality music 🙂 I’m really looking forward to this event and hope that people will enjoy it with us. Thanks.