When Soundscape 4000 finally ended after three and a half weeks of non-stop dancing and a police raid, I fell down on the frozen tarmac with DJ Beatz and MC Manipulator, unfolded a piece of lined A4 paper out of my back pocket and hastily scribbled down the following with a nearby bookie’s biro:
1. This contract constitutes a complete and binding agreement between Dante Pascal and the musicians DJ Beatz and MC Manip-U-L8R. Agent acts only as agent and assumes no responsibility as between the employer and the musicians.
2. In case of breach of this contract by Employer, the Employer agrees to pay the amount stated in Section 6 (overleaf) as mitigated damages, plus reasonable attorney's fees, court costs, and legal interest.
3. The Employer agrees to be responsible for harm, loss, or damage of any kind to musician’s person or property while located at the place of performance.
4. The persons signing for Employer and the Musicians agree to be personally, jointly and severally liable for the terms of this contract.
And so on.
They both signed and we all made a lot of money.
My name is Dante Pascal and I was there in Dartmouth Park. I went halves and spent forty quid on an ecstasy with Charlie Hodge. I saw DJ Beatz drop Injected with a Poison a full four years before it was released. I heard MC Manip-U-L8R spit “fuck tha police” and “booyakasha” LONG before Craig David was born. I was there at the very coal-pit of dance music promotion in the West Midlands from the very start. In Dartmouth Park. I signed a DJ and an MC to an organisation I hadn’t even started yet. I created a new industry for myself, and others followed: I was the UK’s first dance agent.
Dartmouth Park had never seen the like before and was never to (have seen the like) again. Soundscape 4000 did not come back to Sandwell; it got massively liquidated the following year after a fire and was rebranded as Club Kinetic eighteen months later.
I still am a dance agent. I currently represent minimal artist Bill Pitt, minimal techno DJ Dancefloor Busta, minimal house singer songwriter EDManuelle and DJ Slag Hammer: Eastern Europe’s best minimal dub DJ. I, like EDManuelle, was at the bottom when I started. I, unlike Bill Pitt, worked hard. I made it to the top, I fell to the bottom again, I went a bit further down and made my way slowly back to where I am now; not threatening to do anything worth my while anymore but with enough experience to be asked to offer advice on how to make it in the dance music industry on websites like this.
Pascal as Visionary. Look at the hastily drawn up contract I wrote as an eager young minstrel maker. Ok, I’d clearly failed to include a section on travel insurance (literally a schoolboy error) but note how I’d changed MC Manipulator’s name to something a little snappier in the contract. Foresight. Sons and daughters shape the English language and I’m far too humble to say I had a part in changing the way society accepts the use of numbers as letters in text messaging, licence plates and as a generally cool way of communicating.
But I did.
Over the course of the next six weeks I will offer you all the tools you need to make it BIG in dance music promotion and grant you the insider knowledge that simply can’t be bought. You will find out what you need to start your business. I will tell you how to establish yourself and get your name known. You will find out how to stay on top and I’ll warmly welcome you to stop and stare at the mistakes I made. Treat them as a warning.
I have touched the heights that some of you will not even see. Those of you who do will remember this article very clearly and seek to thank me personally – and to help me financially if need be. I hope to enjoy telling you how to live your lives because, despite the unpleasant depths that regrettably follow the enraptured highs that are part and parcel of being a successful dance agent, I have loved living it.
Honesty is a characteristic I will be affording you more than I ever afforded my clients (pre-2009). I will be opening up to you more than I ever did with my wife and kids. I will tell you things I was too embarrassed to tell my counsellor. I will be Dante Pascal and YOU will be my audience.
Come back next week for episode two.
France has always been known for its love of a 4-4 beat, their love for house music manifesting itself through a range of sounds, genres and styles. Tucked away from the media propelled limelight of Paris' ambassadors, Cabanne and his Minibar label and club nights are keeping the underground fires burning bright. Unconcerned with trends and popular styles, the burgeoning imprint have passed the landmark 30th release; Cabanne took time out from his schedule to wax lyrical about France’s love affair with house and the label's growing trajectory, whilst Hamid (member of the family and creator of Minibar 31) turns in a special mix for MEOKO. Read on and get to know this trusted stable of underground quality...
Paris was once known for its love of electro and French Touch house - what is the scene like for house and techno these days? Does the sound mainly thrive in underground circles?
I think Paris was always about house and techno in the underground scene, what you refer as french touch and electro was what people could see from the outside, you can mainly blame medias for that, but if you look at the last 15 years here, they mostly were showing off for VIP audience and press conference party while loads of promoters were inviting the best names of house and techno culture!! It wasn’t like Berlin, we didn’t have that many places to hang out but there was still good ones.
Now we have new clubs opening all around for the last 2 years, Paris nightlife is becoming again attractive, it also changed a lot because of the new generation, it s packed everywhere, clubs and promoters are working very hard to make it happen, you can really expect to have fun.
For dance music in general, the city has thrown up some iconic figures and labels—D'Julz's Bass Culture imprint, Agoria's InFine label—do you feel you have made a mark in France's musical landscape? What is unique about what you guys are doing?
Little by little it seems that Minibar is getting more attention and we are happy about it but about the "mark in France's musical landscape" you’ll tell us, we're not that pretentious and it s not even the point for us.
What is the ethos of your label, Minibar Records? Why did you decide to start your own label?
At the time we started Minibar in 2006 with my friends Eric Vence and David Gluck, I’ve stopped my collaboration with Telegraph the first label I’ve managed from 1999 till 2004 with the guys of Logistic Records.
I would have probably never did a label alone, friendship and taste in music are often the first things to drive you into new musical projects, so we have no taboos at minibar.. we potentially would release anything we like.
You started before the digital boom and the age of DIY releasing—was it difficult to get things off the ground back then or was it slightly easier?
I don't see much more talented people struggling in our days than before neither than unknown folks becoming stars. Strangely enough it seems to me that everything is completely different but finally stays the same.
The equation of talent, work and chance will always remain almost unchanged.
The club, the label and sound all mirror other underground enterprises such as Hamburg's Diynamic - does dance music need more of these DIY brands, more concerned from building their name from the ground up, rather than the ever-increasing focus on capitalist investment?
As long as publishing won’t pay in our style of music I don’t think we can speak about capitalism, even if business is real in our scene it s a dj topic more than a label manager one.
How important do you think it is for people to have strong identities and ethos' for their labels? Or should it simply be all about the music?
Music is the only identity, the rest is for the fun of it.
You've reached over thirty releases for the label so far - how much (or not) of a struggle has it been to get here, considering the culture of instant, disposable gratification that we live in today?
I don't remember of any struggle so far except maybe when vinyl sales started to decrease drastically a couple of years ago, a lot of labels around had to stop. We’ve managed this crisis pretty well but the culture of instant you’re talking about is for sure dictating the way all of us are working and I agree that‘s a pretty big topic, and not only within art.
You've got some real underground heroes turning out some delicious EPs for you, from the likes of Audio Werner, Agnes and more. What do you look for when releasing music on the label? Or do the artists continue in the same tradition of a family of close friends?
We’re getting a lot of demos at Minibar and we did release some of them, Agnes was one of them in the early beginning.
Recently it’s been so much demos that it’s even hard to listen them all… We do, it takes time sometimes but we do… But for the main part I am lucky enough to be around musicians for so long, and most of them are friends so we always have a few records ready to be cut.
What can we possibly look forward to in terms of releases? Plus who are you keeping an eye on and championing at present, especially artists from outside of France?
Minibar 31 who just got out has been release by Hamid, a French dandy that lived for a decade in London and just moved to Berlin to see if weather would fit better to his tan, Minibar 32 is the return of Adsum from Bucharest for a 2nd release with a rmx from myself, then Ben Vedren & Leiris will show up for Minibar 33.
Keep an eye on these ones…
Listen to Hamid's exclusive mix for MEOKO here
LISTEN TO CABANNE ON MEOKO Music
Cabanne on FACEBOOK
Words: Joe Gamp
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Just like a piano, black and white keys are used together to create music, without the one, the same tune and feeling cannot be captured. South Africa suffered under Apartheid rule from 1948 till 1994 and the people, both black and white struggled to create harmony under a white majority rule. Nelson Mandela was a courageous and feisty young man from the rural Eastern Cape who had ran away to Johannesburg to start a new life but here he saw the degree of racism and became involved in the African National Congress (ANC). After many battles he was sent to jail for 25 long, hard years so that black and white people can be friends with equal opportunities socially, economically and politically.
As a South African, today in particular feels like we are a big family, as if Mandela was our father and now we are mourning his death. This is true; he is the father or our new democratic nation but I do think that the entire world feels it too. How do you prepare yourself for the death of family member? You cannot. Even though we knew he was very unwell for a while and that this day would come; we delayed it in our minds as a false dream. He has left us with enough inspiration and wisdom to carry on without him and to remember to stay united even under difficult circumstances. South Africa is going through turbulent times with political parties splitting, corruption in government and decisions in the country’s infrastructure causing unrest and anger. Mandela’s death has put that all to a standstill, as if a bomb has dropped and given us a wakeup call to remember what is important – unity amongst diversity. Madiba left me with the best memories of his colourful shirts, his gentle and distinctive voice and of course the Madiba Jive.
Like everyone in the MEOKO team and its readers, we have a passion for music, something we have in common with Madiba. The iconic “Madiba Jive” should be done at this weekend’s events, where ever you are in the world. We say goodbye to a great role model for his ideals of freedom, perseverance and most of all forgiveness. We salute
By Karo Van Rooy
Inaugurated in spring 2012, East London's Oval Space has since become a permanent fixture on the capital's clubbing circuit. The venue's stripped-back aesthetic has remained a favourite with partygoers, offering a reliable, no-frills alternative to the slew of faceless warehouse events saturating the city. In a bid to expand the brand, 2013 saw the launch of Oval Space Music, a series of parties run by an in-house team of likeminded music heads. The likes of Cobblestone Jazz, Manuel Göttsching and Jamie Lidell all made appearances across the year, kickstarting an exciting new phase in the club's trajectory.
Only recently, Oval Space made public its plans for OSM 2014. Chapter One will run from January through March, with a host of international house and techno talent booked to perform across six dates. Opening on Saturday, February 1st, techno doyen Robert Hood will join Luke Slater and Jerome Sydenham while Innervisions chiefs Ame have been booked to play all-night-long on the 28th. March will see Dennis Ferrer line up alongside DJ Qu on the 1st, with live performances from Kollektiv Turmstrasse and Evian Christ set for the 6th and 21st respectively. Wrapping up the first quarter will be a Dial Records showcase, with Lawrence, John Roberts, Carsten Jost and Pantha Du Prince all dropping by the club. Lending a helping hand across the season will be two new OSM residents: Londoner Jozif and former Watergate staple Fritz Zander.
OVAL SPACE CHAPTER ONE
To ensure 2014 gets off to a flyer, MEOKO have teamed up with Oval Space to give one lucky winner the chance to take themselves and a friend to every OSM event in Chapter One (NB: Only OSM events apply.) To win the golden ticket, drop us an email at
with 'OSM Golden Ticket' as the subject heading.
MORE INFO HERE
When you think about dance music, there is one brand that stands head and shoulders above the rest: Pioneer. Best known for their range of CD decks, or CDJs as they're more commonly known, the Japanese electronics giant first entered the industry in 1994 with the CDJ-500. Several new models emerged in the years after, but none ever did enough to win over the DJs. Vinyl and Technics turntables were still the dominant force. In 2001 however, that all changed. The CDJ-1000, with its efficient cue/play buttons and trademark jog-wheel, revolutionised clubbing as it had been previously known. Riding the wave of download culture, the 1000 was soon a fixture of every booth in the land, giving birth to a whole new realm of performance possibilities. As it became clear that lugging crates of vinyl around the globe was a thing of the past, and that there was more to mixing that just beatmatching, the product was quick to be endorsed by the world's top spinners. Today, Pioneer's latest model, the CDJ-2000, has not only overtaken Technics in the market, but eliminated even the need for CDs with its use of USB memory sticks.
To focus in on the CDJ however, is to neglect a wealth of innovative products from Pioneer. The DJM mixer series are considered the market leaders alongside Allen & Heath's Xone range, while its monitor speakers, headphones and all-in-one mixing consoles are easily among the best in the business. Pioneer only deals in top of the range.
With Christmas fast approaching, MEOKO and Pioneer thought it would be nice to say thank you for all the support and offer one lucky the person a chance to win a DDJ-SB DJ Controller and pair of HDJ-500 headphones…. All you have to do to be in with a chance of taking home this goodie bag is Like and Share THIS IMAGE send an EMAIL to
t with 'Dear Santa' as the subject heading. Winner anounced on Boxing Day.
To Enter: Click here to like and share
Pioneer on FB
MEOKO on FB
After hearing whispers of the return of the awesome La Peña imprint, MEOKO caught up with Frankfurt's Einzelkind, label ring-leader, DJ maestro, producer king pin and dancing superstar to get not so serious...
Hi Arno, thanks for getting not so serious with us!
My highlight of 2013 was…
All the positive reactions regarding our music and labels :
La Peña (back from beauty sleep) and Pressure Traxx that I am running with my good friend and partnter Frost. To make a living from what I love most…That was and is my musical highlight (of 2013).
La Peña. Tell us more…
Good friends and good music are two main ingredients for a happy life.
Since 2007 we call it La Peña.
If I ruled the world…
I would take it from the rich and give it to the poor.
And free all my sons, of course.
Who are the main influences for Einzelkind?
Prince, Fuchs, Friends, Roland, Dr. Hebel, Romanthony, Arthur Russel, David Byrne ..anything and everything really…
Animals. Beautiful things of nature to be looked after and adored or, delicious food to be gobbled up?
Producing bombs in the studio, or destroying dance floors whilst Djing, which do you prefer?
It always makes me laugh when I see other Djs posting stuff like this about themselves. ”Yea tonight we gonna destroy”…….Yea ok man just do your thing and keep calm.
Now back to topic. Best of both worlds. To create music in the studio then play it in the club and see happy people dancing and enjoing it is a very special feeling.. I couldn’t do without one or the other.
Meditate or medicate?
As long as you don´t hesistate.
Favorite music video?
All good things come by threes.
1. Peter Gabriel – Sledge Hammer
2. Neneh Cherry – I've Got You Under My Skin
3. Einzelkind & Robin Scholz – Are Back
‘Dance Music’ - Which is most important, the dancing, or the music?
Good music I dance
No good music
I not dance.
Die Schöne und das Biest.
What do we not know about Einzelkind?
That he is good at Bowling and used to call himself Dj Cybercut.
Click above to liten to Einzelkind's exclusive MEOKO Mix
A few weeks ago MEOKO had a chat with Boris Werner. This week it’s Tom Trago’s turn, one of Amsterdam leading underground producers and just like Werner a Trouw resident dj. Tom is well known in the Dutch scene and gained great respectability abroad due to his energetic and authentic sound. He is closely associated with both Rush Hour and the Trouw movement and recently became resident of the month for the latter. MEOKO had the chance to Skype with Tom and talk about his musical roots, Amsterdam, his live sets and about his upcoming gig at Village Underground.
Before we start the interview, let me thank you for having the time to talk with us Tom. How are you feeling? Where are you calling from?
I’m fine, totally fine. I have this nice studio in the Volkskrantgebouw, which is across the street from Trouw. I recently moved from one of the top-floors to the basement due to construction work in the building. But I love it, because this is actually the first time I have a permanent studio space which I don’t need to leave. And therefore the first time I finally can hook up my machinery and technology all together.
You’ve started out producing in Hip-hop. Are you still as passionate about Hip-hop these days?
Hip-hop always has captivated me. I still listen to it every day because the whole concept of the genre interests me. I started out producing instrumental Hip-hop because I liked the shortness and power of these particular beats. A good Hip-hop beat could be made in a few hours, while a proper House or Disco track could take several days or even weeks to produce.
The first House track you produced was ‘Live with the BBQ’. This coincidently resulted from what was an overpitched instrumental Hip-hop track. How did this happen?
This came into being around ten years ago when I was playing a lot of Hip-hop in clubs as well. I was fooling around with this beat on my SP-1200, which is an old drum machine. I was working a lot with samples by that time. As most of the Hip-hop producers know, some of the samples couldn’t be played slower than a certain tempo on these machines. I therefore couldn’t get the pitch down and it subsequently became a House track. This was actually the first record I released. It became a ‘cult track’ and eventually my initiation to House.
From this point, how did your love for Hip-hop further emerge into the genres of House and Disco?
‘Live with the BBQ’ influenced me a lot and brought me in touch with the label Rush Hour, where I got to know Cinnaman. He was already more familiar with House and Techno than me, as he was working with Rush Hour. We got along very well and we eventually wound up living together. These were my first encounters with House in its broadest sense. I went clubbing a lot and paid weekly visits to Club 11, which later became Trouw (at a different location though). Besides that I frequently started listening to artists like Moodymann and Theo Parish, which both really inspired me to start producing more House myself. Around this point I realized that House and instrumental Hip-hop don’t differ that much from each other. There is actually a lot of resemblance. The drums are very similar and they are authentic in both genres. Consequently it became an easier and smaller step for me to produce House music. I had to do it a lot faster, that’s all. The rest is history.
About a month ago you released The Light Fantastic, already your third studio album. You’ve planned to do an extensive tour, which started out in The States in September and will continue in the course of 2014. What’s on your schedule?
The European tour has unfortunately almost reached his end, but I’m looking forward to the last gigs I’ll have in the UK next month. In 2014, I’ll do a tour across Asia and The Pacific region, with multiple gigs in Japan and Australia. In March and April I’ll head back to The States to continue my live tour, where I’ll be visiting Chicago, Detroit, New York, L.A. and other cities. Obviously [I’ve got] a lot of things scheduled to look forward to in the forthcoming months.
How do you look back at the European tour?
Apparently, it is common for me to play multiple gigs every weekend but since the tour started I’ve only played live sets, which I’m not used to do every weekend. While playing a live set, you’re less involved in changing the vibe and the atmosphere of that particular night. You just do your own stuff and show everybody what Tom Trago is about. But I like the fact I still can be dynamic with the crowd. For instance I can play one of my tracks for ten minutes one night and just skip that particular track the next night because I don’t feel like it.
Any idea where you’ve played your best live set?
Good question, I had many great moments during this tour, but the gig last year in P-Bar is still fresh on my mind. It was my birthday, all my friends came over to Berlin and we had one of those nights everyone still cherishes... Those particular moments, you want them to last forever…
You’ve seen many places around the world, especially this year with gigs all over Europe and beyond. How important is Amsterdam for you?
Amsterdam is of great importance to me. All my friends live here, although I make new friends every weekend across the border. But the guys over in Amsterdam like San Proper and Maxi Mill are not only my friends, they’re studio partners as well and have had a great influence on my career. We work together a lot. We significantly give each other feedback and this is paramount for all of us. Amsterdam is also the home of my label Voyage Direct, for which we work with Dutch musicians only. So I’d like to keep an eye out for who could be the new kid on the block and for everything that is changing in the Dutch scene. Because there is a very healthy and vibrant nightlife in Amsterdam, there are a lot of things going on at the moment.
This year you’ve had many gigs in the UK. In which sense do you think the Amsterdam club scene differs most compared to the UK?
Foremost, in Amsterdam I sometimes miss the dark edges of the UK nightlife. Everything is so well managed and organized back here. But there is a flourishing educated crowd with a great love for electronic music. All this travelling around sometimes only reminds me of how nice Amsterdam is.
As we know, you’ve recently become resident of the month in Trouw. In the past, residents normally would only do the ‘warm-up’ for the more leading and renowned artists. How do you think the resident role has changed into a more prominent one as the electronic music scene is growing genuinely?
Indeed, the resident role has changed a lot. As a resident you are the face of the club itself. San Proper, Boris Werner and myself – we’ve experienced the Trouw residency from the beginning – we were really given the opportunity to sprout and develop ourselves as DJ’s. I appreciate and enjoy the fact that Trouw gave us a platform to perform, as other residents will be thankful for theirs. Being a resident among others also creates a community and family within a club itself. This community is of great importance for all the residents as they can help, influence and support each other. Back in the days we couldn’t sell a thousand tickets; we do now.
Village Underground has invited Trouw to invade London this Saturday. You will play a live set among other Trouw residents San Proper, Job Jobse and the general himself Olaf Boswijk. How did this initiative start?
Not sure, you’ll have to ask Olaf, as he is the initiator of the whole Trouw movement. But now is the time, now that Trouw has the reputation and backbone to do these daring things, to expand and do other projects outside the constricted borders of the club and the city and to prove it is more than just a location.
Do you think it is possible to transcend and revolve the unique and familiar vibe that hovers in Trouw over to London?
I’m looking forward to it. As a DJ one of your dreams is to fly around the world and play your music but the next best thing is to enjoy all of this with your friends. San Proper and me were always talking about the fun of being with a whole crew from Amsterdam and go abroad and bring a distinct sound, which reflects the nightlife of our hometown. This is finally happening and I’m a 100 percent certain that music can be transcended and revolved to other places. Sound wise, next Saturday is going to be a reflection of the Amsterdam nightlife. However I’m not sure if we can bring the familiar Trouw atmosphere over to London, because the Amsterdam crowd plays a huge role in creating this vibrant atmosphere.
Do you think you’ll need the Amsterdam crowd to recreate the whole Trouw experience? Are you therefore bringing some Dutch support this Saturday? Will there be some Trouw regulars travelling to London?
Some of the in-crowd is definitely visiting Village Underground this weekend. I already heard about some people who’ll be coming over. But I know the London crew of fans is great, they share the same liveliness and passion for our music as the fans over in Amsterdam. It will be a great mingle between the dark edges and the rawness the London nightlife offers and the prosperity and underground sound we will bring over from Amsterdam.
Tom Trago will play among Olaf Boswijk, San Proper and Job Jobse in the Village Underground this Saturday. TICKETS HERE
By Paul Fluks
MOTEK WAREHOUSE PARTY / THE SIDINGS WAREHOUSE / LONDON SAT 16TH NOVEMBER
FUR COAT, MIND AGAINST, ERIC VOLTA, THE/DAS (LIVE), JONNY CRUZ, SILKY, SUPERLOUNGE, BARBER, SIGNAL FLOW
In current times of economic austerity and amidst a notoriously competitive and over-saturated market, a promoter could be forgiven for sticking to the tried and tested in order to pull in a crowd. Motek however, are of a different sort, and since their humble beginnings in the back of Café 1001 have not been afraid to risk failure in sticking to their own beliefs and principles of what a good party entails, namely creating a friendly house-party vibe and being free to showcase a range of different genres and artists, both established and up and coming.
Previous events in their relatively short but successful history have featured some of the most progressive and forward thinking names in electronic music- Max Cooper, Mark Henning and Slam to name but a few. Motek however, is also about providing a platform for deserving up and coming talent to be heard. In this respect, last Saturday’s event at The Sidings warehouse is a perfect case in point, with no less than 9 acts featured including some of the hottest names of the moment, many of whom have been making waves with releases on heavyweight labels such as Life & Death, Bpitch Control, Kompakt, Cocoon and Get Physical which have been played out all summer by more established contemporaries such as Tale of Us and Âme.
Appearing early, Motek resident Silky confirmed his deserved growing reputation with an emphatic, assured set, and was followed by the more melodic and acid inspired sound of Eric Volta. Over in room 2, The/Das, who produce the kind of electronic-pop that could only come from out of Berlin, captivated the audience with an emotive live performance with Fabian’s vocals particularly worthy of praise. The standout performance of the night came next in the form of Venezuelan duo and Crosstown Rebels Fur Coat, who for 2 hours had the crowd mesmerized with enchanting, deep and sensual grooves; leaving the other main draw of the night, Mind Against, perfectly set up to follow with their dark and stellar cinematic productions until close. Barber closed out room 1 in some style with a blistering, uniquely original set marrying many different influences and working the audience into a stomping frenzy, and was definitely a highlight of the night and one to look out for in the future.
The real star of the night however, is the crowd that Motek seems to draw at each of their events and the vibe they bring with them. The atmosphere at a Motek party is unpretentious, inclusive and friendly; people come to have a good time and to meet others rather than just to get high and dance in a corner with whomever you came with. This in itself is a massive credit to the efforts and personalities of the Motek crew and is hugely refreshing in a scene where promoters are too often guilty of following the same big warehouse + Funktion 1 party formula with no further thought for creating a connection with their public. Motek have built up a loyal and dedicated following and with it, the promoter has gone from strength to strength, this being their biggest event yet. An impressive achievement largely built upon some good old-fashioned values of fun, friends and family that many promoters in the London circuit seem to have forgotten in their quest for success (and profit). We eagerly await the next instalment!
Words by Barry Daly- follow me on Twitter: @_bazmatazz
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
Listen to Red D's exclusive mix here
WPH Recordings: http://www.weplayhouserecordings.com/
WPH Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/we-play-house-recordings
FCL on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/therealfcl?fref=ts
Words by Paul Fluks
With central London venues shutting down and East London's council toughening up, South of the river displays a bright future with a strong crop of clubs urging clubbers to venture further afield.
For years there have been whispers in clubland of a possible move to the South, the opening up of a new frontier for clubland and its more forward thinking artists and promoters. There had always been the stalwarts of the South, the few clubs in around Brixton and the Elephant and Castle battling on - but over the past year or so, with the arrival of a rash of several new large scale venues, the repeated attempts to establish a super-club somewhere in the region of Greenwich, and the re-opening of the East London line , it seems the idea is starting to hold water and the South looks set to rise again.
Slowly, the idea of South London's steady transformation back into a viable central hub for art and music has gained credibility to the point where even the NY times were once again feeling the love, having described a visit to Peckham high St, as “… a countercultural challenge to the established North-of-the-river world of the Frieze art fair and the gentrified East End,”. Deptford, was once again "[an] unpolished location that [comes with the almost heady of urban ingredients: an edge.” LuckyPDF (luckypdfx.com), one such group, a grass-roots collection of artists and musicians are focused on pushing the Southron cause forward by re-establishing the art-scene along with long-time groups like Auto-Italia. Whilst at The Bussey Building groups as diverse as The Soul Train to Warp records stalwarts Plaid all hosting nights in the South.
The South remembers...
As spiraling property prices and increasingly powerful residents associations have ravaged their way through the city centre, the traditional stronghold of London's art-world and its clubland, a new generation of up and comers, having made their home South of the river, have been filling the bars, clubs and community spaces that make up their own local 'manors', giving rise and opportunity to the myriad of promoters and venue owners outside of the holy trinity of Shoreditch, Hackney and Dalston. Taking advantage of the chance to foster their scene safely out of the reach of the ever-expanding gentrification that is stretching out across every square foot of the city centre, demanding the attention of the local councils and noise-hating residents associations that oversee it, promoters are once again able to take the risks and establish new artists and concepts. Those that are willing to travel a bit (even from the North) are faced with a wealth of new and exciting clubbing experiences and promotions. There's the ongoing effort to establish a Fabric style super-club on the South side of the river, namely with Matter and its various incarnations, the latest of which, Studio Six, has been open for business for a minute now and is presenting itself as 'a blank canvas', opening its doors in October to a drum and bass fanfare featuring DJ Fresh, Shy FX and a host of big names from the drum and bass and urban dance scene.
There are also all the smaller venues that have been hosting loads of decent smaller-scale events for ages. The strength of the South has always lay within it's community spaces. The isolation and traditionally bad transport has meant fostering a reliance on mainly the local community to support all but the largest scale venues. Venues that act as theatres, galleries, cinemas, that act as community spaces for everybody, as well as clubs, have always done well, and for the most part, manage to avoid the more South-specific problems that often plague many of the Southron venues and only served to drive everyone to North London in the first place. The Bussey Building is an example of a popular multi-purpose venue, hosting club promotions at night and serving as a bar and community space with some immense views of the city, amongst other things, by day.
With the custom venues that made up the heart of the central London club culture, The End, Turnmills, Home, increasingly dead, or dying and with no end in sight to the ever-rising rents and property prices killing them off, with the myriad of problems only exacerbated by the reactionary focus on hosting "warehouse nights" in badly-prepared, non-specialist "venues", it is unsurprising that the club scene at large is finally ready to make the effort to tread new ground and try things a little further afield. With the attention the Olympics brought to London in general, clubbers and promoters in London are being presented with many new opportunities in the South. The quick and the clever shouldn't bemoan the past, but be quick to adapt and take advantage of what is still here, Remember, it's just a few stops further down...
THE BUSSEY BUILDING:
Also known as the CLF Art cafe', or just The Bussey Warehouse, the Bussey Building has become one of Peckham's biggest draws for the music and creative arts scenes. The building itself is HUGE, hosts 3000+ and features an amazing 360 degree rooftop view of the city. Featuring a hugely diverse roster of promotion and events across the coming months their website @ (http://www.clfartcafe.org/) is definitely worth a look. Bussey is definitely worth a visit if you haven't been before (even if just to take in the amazing 360 degree view of the city from the roof if nothing else), and with Warp stalwarts Plaid touching down in Nov, there's more than one good reason to head South of the river.
You can't say you've done the London club scene if you haven't hit up Corsica studios yet. It has consistently hosted great nights from its opening back in 05' and is still going strong today, which with the amount of dead and dying venues in the city is no mean feat. Capturing the South London and old skool' warehouse party vibe perfectly, Corsica has the sound system, the history and the vibes to hold its own against any of the central based super-clubs. Due to its location right by the Old Kent road Corsica doesn't quite suffer quite so badly from the South Eastern transport problem that plagues so many venues south of the river.
Of course you know about Fire. Home to a veritable whose-who of credible underground promotions over the years Fire, and the Vauxhall scene in general, are in large part to blame for the resurgence of interest in the South. Hosting a variety of flavours throughout the week any sabbatical to Southron clubland must involve a visit to its Mecca. '
Studio 338 is definitely a nice looking venue, with two massive floors and a covered terrace meaning zero restrictions on the sound. It definitely checks all the boxes for a unique clubbing experience, and looks and feels like one of the premier clubbing experiences south of the river. Its location closer to Greenwich village makes travel back across the river much more manageable than from N. Greenwich which is of course a boon for the venue.
Studio 338 a welcome arrival to the area and there are plenty of promotions heading over there. The venue has so far has hosted several well-received nights and also provide BBQ'd food which is always nice. Studio 338 have a lot coming up @ for the full line-up.
If at first you don't succeed... Re-opening toward the middle of October the venue previously known as Matter Proud2 has been re-branded as Building Six. With the 02 working alongside the London Warehouse Events team directly, Building Six is looking to capitalise on the desperate need for some large-sized, viable warehouse styled venues anywhere in the capital right now. With a huge 3000+ capacity and a refreshingly diverse series of line-ups and promotions already lined up, the plan looks like a good one. Let's hope Transport for London doesn’t pull any engineering work schedule announcements out from nowhere.
As far as reincarnations go, Brixton has seen it's own fair amount of transformation, with the arrival of new, super cool hangouts - plus the restoration of old ones. Set inside a listed building - a former cinema - Electric Brixton's £1m makeover has brought the grand architecture of the structure to life, making good of the old site which fabled (and debauched) club The Fridge stood before closing down for good in 2010. They've since swapped the glow sticks for viewing balconies, beaten up ice boxes for statuesque decor and garnished the whole venue with a top of the range sound system, playing home to the likes of Booka Shade, Gilles Peterson, DJ Hell and many more since its grand unveiling in September 2011.
THE PRINCE OF WALES aka The Lambeth aka Brixton Clubhouse aka Dex:
Who needs the beach, when you've got a spectacular roof terrace? Whatever its name, The Prince of Wales marks a new chapter in Brixton's ever-evolving landscape. Previously housing appearances from Balcazar & Sordo, Andrew Weatherall's A Love From Outer Space, Forrest, Crazy P and Late Nite Tuff Guy, this discerning house-heads venue has seen some changes over the years, but the music policy remains the same - deep, rolling house music of all shapes and sizes. With a 700 capacity roof terrace, a tweaked and customised Turbosound system and the likes of Motek, Troupe and more holding regular day and night parties, you could do a lot worse than this beacon for exciting, underground electronic music.
By Seun Mustapha
US House music don Marc Kinchen, aka MK, has been producing hit tracks since the early 90’s. Hitting number 1 in the US dance charts in both 1993 and 1994 with ‘Always’ and ‘Love Changes’, high profile productions and remixes for the likes of Celine Dion and Pet Shop Boys swiftly followed. With strong influences from his Detroit roots and peers such as Kevin Saunderson, the MK resurgence over the last year has seen Marc tour the globe extensively, pushing his upbeat house sound to the frontier of the scene with strong releases on the likes of Hot Creations, Defected and KMS. Here, Marc catches up with MEOKO to talk technology, tunes and Detroit.
Hi Marc, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to speak with us…
Before we start, I should say I’ve attended some of your latest gigs in London and have become a big fan of your sound. Do you enjoy your London gigs as much as we do?
I have to say that coming to London has been an incredible highlight in my life, the fans have welcomed me with an openness and warmth that has made me feel very much at home. They are incredibly enthusiastic and that energy is kinetic!
Your latest venture 'Defected - Mk In The House Mix' is a proper straight up dance floor friendly house music mix. Does it represent the MK sound and philosophy of 2013?
I tried to make it the collection so it would be diverse and groove oriented and based around some of my favorite tunes. And yes, I would agree that it is definitely a good Snapshot of my sound and vibe in 2013…
Your first releases were on local Detroit labels. Back then the city was known mostly for the more techno outings of Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins, Robert Hood, Underground Resistance & Jeff Mills. You’ve proven that Detroit is not only about techno and that there was space for house music too. How would you define ‘Detroit Techno’ and ‘House’?
I think that can be a question that has many answers, it depends who you ask…
For me, the history and nature of Detroit is such that it has always been the home and spawning ground for many genres ranging from jazz, funk, blues and soul, R&B, as well as being the home of the soulful sounds of Motown which, ultimately led the way to the grittier sounds of rap and hip hop that became synonymous with the streets and 8 mile.
I don’t know that I could singlehandedly define the difference for everyone else; I could only define it as far as my sound goes. For me, it is a matter of pace, bpm, use of melodies, vocals, bass and groove. They can both be very underground and they can both be more mainstream; it’s all about perspective and what your perspective is. For me, like I said it’s the groove, the vibe, the bpm and the vocals, always the vocals.
Many people don’t realise you’ve been releasing music since 1989 with your first single 'Somebody New' on KMS records. There are so many sub-genres of house now from when you started out; music can be like fashion, it’s always reinventing with new beats, new sounds, new trends. Which producers are really impressing you with their work right now?
Totally, there are so many people out there that I think are great and fresh, obviously, I think Jamie Jones and Lee Foss are amazing, but there is also Eats Everything, Route 94, Maya Jane Coles, Shadowchild, Skream, Duke Dumont, Hot Since 82, Beckwith, Dantiez Saunderson, so many new great producers.
Being a vinyl DJ for many years what is your opinion on the laptop DJ trend that dominates the dance music industry lately? Is it ok that some DJ’s don’t know how to use turntables, and if so should he or she call him/her self a DJ?
I can’t really say that I have a strong opinion about vinyl since I really started DJing seriously about 4 or 5 years ago and it had already pretty much changed over to digital. I know vinyl people are passionate about this but for me it has been amazing all the things that hindered me from going out and DJing are now solved because I always wanted to have the elements of my studio with me so I could mix live. Well, I got what I wished for - I get to make the music live now spontaneously if I wish, how could it be better than that? It turns DJing into a live medium.
Detroit Techno and House Music in general was always meant to be underground. Music for the mind body and soul, offering to the club or festival goer more than a couple of hours of hard, mindless, presence on a dance floor. What’s your view on the so-called ‘Electronic Dance Music’ that dominates charts, clubs and festivals worldwide?
I see it as big business coming in and needing to tag and name it so it is more sellable.
Can we consider it as part of the Electronic Music scene or is it just Pop Music, plain and simple?
It is supposed to stand for Electronic Dance Music, which in many cases crosses over to Pop, I think people are focusing on the wrong thing, I think they are really disturbed by the hijacking and the forcing of big commercial interests on their sub culture that belonged to them and now suddenly giant brands are taking hold of it and rolling it into their ad campaigns.
EDM artists and DJ’s charge ridiculous amounts of money for their appearances and often behave like they’re rock stars or much worse. Do you think that that is the right attitude and mentality for a person calling him/her self a DJ, or music should always come first?
I think music and your fans always come first, but if a promoter is making millions on selling tickets for people to come see you, it is only fair that the artist, rockstar, dj or poet get a fair cut. I don’t find any moral value in being treated unfairly, while someone else makes bank.
Are you still a Detroit resident? If not would you ever consider returning there?
I love Detroit, my mother lives there and many members of my family are still there. I moved a while back and lived in Brooklyn, New Jersey and then landed in LA. There were many more musical opportunities in LA… there still are.
LA is like London for music, so much of the business of the industry is in both hubs, even more than NY now. The sound of Detroit definitely affected my sound, Kevin Saunderson was one of my mentors, so I am totally influenced by him but also by the alternative music I always loved. Depeche Mode, Ministry, New Order were always favorite artists in my book.
What does Detroit mean to you? A city that recently became bankrupt but still remains vibrant when it comes to top quality techno music.
It makes me totally sad to see how Detroit suffers every day. The bankruptcy is a result of years of corruption and neglect, that is a whole other conversation. We could go on for days talking about it, I hear there is a great resurgence in urban farming there….. no gmo’s. As for it’s continuing vibrancy in music….I have always found that the greatest art, music, culture comes from the ruins, so this could be a rebirth all over again. So in other words, Detroit might be hurting but the music will bring it back.
Touring the world relentlessly for almost 25 years, would you like to tell us some performance highlights of your career?
It’s funny, a lot of people think I have been touring for all these years, it is actually only in the last 27 months or so that I have really done any sort of touring. Prior to that, once in a while you might see me do a gig, otherwise, I was a studio rat.
Have there been any unforgettable moments?
People singing along with me in Dublin during my set a couple of weeks ago, and the crowd getting on their knees in Ibiza and meeting Laidback Luke and him getting on his knees when he heard that I was MK. (hardly anyone knew what I looked like)
Funniest part about that day is that I had been working in the studio with Afrojack and he only knew me as Marc Kinchen. When he saw Luke get on the ground, he said, “hey luke, what are you doing?” Luke said to Afrojack, “dude this is MK,”… Afrojack said what….”I didn’t know that…Marc Kinchen is MK, you mean the real MK? We had been working together for a couple of months already when that happened. I got a major giggle out of that!
MK in the Mix is still fresh, but production-wise, what can we expect from MK in the near future?
I am working on new songs with Shadowchild, Duke Dumont, Pleasure State (which is Anabel Englund and Lee Foss), remixing Haim, Sam Smith, and a few more bits and pieces. Some big things in the works.
Do you have any London gigs scheduled before the end of the year?
Well, I am doing the big NYE show with my friends at Defected at MOS.
By Chris Kordas
Defected NYE at MOS
MK - RA
Flare Audio is a relatively new speaker manufacturer, but they're already making a fair amount of noise thanks to the innovative advances in audio technology they've managed to make in just two years. Not only have they picked up Plasa's 2013 Innovation Award, but they look set to give Funktion-One and the rest of the leading sound system manufacturers a run for their money. Head of the company Davies Roberts has immersed himself in the world of sound in an attempt to crack the secret of supplying pure, untainted audio to the masses and he think he's cracked it. By all accounts, Flare Audio's speakers do a very impressive job – even Andy C was blown away after a recent gig at the Brixton Academy. Here MEOKO speak with Davies about Flare, how he developed its technology and its repercussions for audio at all levels...
So how did you get involved with making speakers in the first place?
I got into it pretty late on in my life, around 2005 – I was a fireman for 13 years but had always been involved in electronics. I had a mobile disco when I was very young and was always a lover of music. My wife Naomi (who's also a director at Flare) started working for the council doing events. I went along to an event and thought, 'I can do this', so I borrowed some speakers, soldered some cables together and did this gig, for a live band. Without any prior knowledge or experience of live sound, I engineered the gig and fell in love with sound and the delivery of pro audio. Over the next few months I started Purple Audio in 2007, which was a rental company, I quickly established that company as a reputable, high quality sound provider.
Over the following nine or ten months I became aware that I wasn't happy with the sound quality that we were providing at Purple. I was noticing huge distortion and everyone was saying it was either not loud enough, or too loud, it was hurting their ears... all these different complaints about sound quality. So, in 2009, I formed Flare Audio – originally as a small manufacturer for our own equipment, again that took off quite significantly.
Nice one, and where did you go from there?
Well my first speaker designs took a different approach, we weren't tuning speakers like you would tune instruments. I wasn't getting a cabinet and I wasn't making it resonate. What I was doing was making the drivers become pistons and we started to realise, 'Hey there's still some wood in there shaking around, there's still some resonance', so we tried to really pinpoint where the problem was. Sound is very simple; if you think about your ears, they're just a flap of skin that moves backwards and forwards at different speeds to give us different frequencies. It's a compression and expansion of particles, it's that simple – so why are speakers not producing accurate sound? That was the challenge.
How did you go about tackling this challenge?
Around last June I realised how to solve the problems. There were two issues surrounding the speakers, 1) The cabinet resonating. You have a square box and a driver inside vibrating like mad inside, if the sides of it flex the internal volume changes – no matter how small the change, if the volume changes it affects the driver. Because a driver is like putting a bit of clingfilm over a box. To illustrate this, the way to understand it is: If I you compare a guitar string to the side wall of a loudspeaker, if I want to stop it resonating we don't want to put our finger on the thread because that will change the frequency, it's still going to resonate. We don't want to use a thicker string because a thicker string will lower the frequency but still resonate. If we're going to stop a guitar string moving we have to put some weight on it and stop it moving, and that's what Space Technology does. It applies compression to the speakers, to the front and back plate – you tighten up the bolts and it stops the structure from oscillating independently, it becomes one unified structure. That's the first problem solved...
And the second problem?
Once you've stopped the box resonating, the other issue is pressure. Through our research we've created what we call 'Vortex Technology': lots of lots of small vortices, which kill the sound energy but allow the pressure to evacuate the box – so it's like completely silencing the port inside a loudspeaker. Those two technologies together mean we have a structure that doesn't resonate and no pressure inside the box.
How long did it take you to get your head round all of this and put it into practice?
It's a long, hard process – from June last year up to now it's been all about getting the patterns formed. The way we've done it, as a pro audio company, is to consider the needs and wants of the artists, the engineers, the big events and taken our ideas of what a speaker needs to be and made a prototype. We've got a lab here, so we built a speaker knowing what the frequency range needed to be and so on. The interesting thing for us is, we're not just a professional audio speaker manufacturer, we're going into the studio market, domestic and home and we're going to be taking the technology right down to micro level because it can be applied to any sound producing or receiving device. It's going to take calm and control over the coming years – we've unlocked the secrets to clear sound, so we're going to now apply them to each market. Speaker boxes have been stuck in their ways for the last 40 years, and it's because they've been treated as instruments and not scientific devices.
The real turning point came when I realised that what was in ever loudspeaker was 'wadding', you know the fibreglass they put in speakers? That was the first realisation of where the key issues were coming because that adds significant amounts of friction. When the driver moves back and forth it's got to move all the air around that wadding and that's the bit we don't have in our speakers. Because we've isolated the resonance and there's nothing else inside our speakers but wood and metal, it's bare inside and that was the key.
And you've been roadtesting the speakers at events haven't you? Tell me about that... ?
We did two nights at the Brixton Academy, we did Andy C's Ram night. At that gig we had a Q18 along the frontal space, two hangs of X5A, which is a small amount for a two tier building. We had the new SB21s for surrounding and the X3C also for surrounding. That was the first time we'd used the technology at a large event and we were getting unprecendented levels inside – the clarity and volume was quite insane. The most impressive thing was, you could walk out of the main room and go by the production entrance and you couldn't hear a thing. That's one of the benefits of this technology is, if you create pure sound you can control pure sound – it's the distortion that's causing all the problems with noise control.
Earlier this year I went to IMS in Ibiza and I watched Jean Michel Jarre's interview there – he made a great point which was, as the technology to create music has evolved and improved, the means by which it's delivered has actually devolved. We now listen to low quality MP3s through laptop speakers, rather than having a plush home stereo system – I guess your technology could help in reversing this.
That hits the nail right on the head really. MP3s are a bad thing – but you can understand why they came along, at the time they were introduced, we didn't have the storage capacity on our computers. We need to wean people off them, WAVs are now completely storable, you can fit a lot of information on your computer now. The thing is, people have got to be made to hear the difference. At home, as the world kicks along things have got to be made cheaper and lighter and that has been a really bad thing for speaker technology in the home – you've got everything made in plastic, with cheap drivers, you can't even tell the difference between an MP3 and a WAV. We've got a new speaker that we're working on at the moment that's a flat panel you can put on your wall – the next step is to make a speaker that is very low profile, which we're also working on.
Do you hope that Flare will be used in not only for concerts and clubs, but in cinemas and places that need big sound?
Yeah, our idea is to have one unified platform where artists could go into the studio and make their track, come out of there into their car, or their home or even into a field at a festival and it sounds exactly the same. That's the mission of the company. Obviously the consumer market is very different from pro audio, you need to make things very cheaply and on a mass production level. We're taking one step at a time, but we're aiming to become a significant player in a short amount of time.
Tell me more about the company, as I know you work a lot with local businesses?
Yes, everything is made in Britain. We use specialist local firms to make all our parts, about a year ago I scouted the real talent in this country for making aluminium and wood and contacted them with regard to using their materials. Having something that's made really well is equally as important to us as the clarity of our sound, you don't just want to make a great speaker but it falls apart within a few months. We don't have to outsource to China or anywhere else, the speakers are simple and fast to make so they can be assembled here. We can train people up to do it here in Britain.
Since Funktion-One, Martin Audio and Void are among the most common audio manufacturers that are used in a club environment, I wanted to know how Flare differs from those and improve on the sound in a club?
We differ significantly. As I said, in the past speakers have been used like musical instruments – so they've been hand-tuned and electronically corrected. I won't mention brand names, but the designs have been used for years. Both of those approaches are what we call 'damage control', they're getting the speaker and trying to make it resonate nicely – which, to us, is fundamentally wrong. A loudspeaker should be producing sound without any resonance. It's like if you have a really sharp and defined sound, you wouldn't place it in a box, you wouldn't slap a reverb over the top of it. You've got a box with a port, the sound's bouncing around inside that box – it might come out deeper, or really rich, but you actually listen to the information in that tone it's all false enhancement, it's all tuning that really shouldn't have happened. With our speakers, because the drivers just react to what they're given it means that when you take any frequency, all the way down to 20/30hz, you're only going to get that out when it's in the track.
When you put our systems in a club environment, like the Knife Party gig at Brixton Academy last week, it goes incredibly clean. The resonance is the space then becomes beautiful. We've put it into churches, we've put into tunnels, we've put into spaces that are regarded pretty badly from an acoustic point of view (like Brixton) – because there's no resonance to start with, the room, the reverb of the room, adds to the sound. Whereas, before it was losing little bits of detail that were just about left in certain frequencies and making it hard to engineer. From a clubbing point of view, you're going to get really clean sound going into the space that has a beautiful natural resonance. That's why we want to get Flare into the Royal Albert Hall or awkward spaces, because you're going to have the acoustics coming into play in a positive way.
Tell me more about the reduction in noise pollution?
If you're producing linear tracks and frequencies, most tracks are generally flat and, of course, they have peaks where the transients come in. But if you're producing sound in a uniform, linear way and you shut a door then you can hear all the sound drop out because you're not hearing the 'thump, thump, thump' of 80hz, which is all distortion and all pressure coming out and travelling through walls. The key is, if you're prouducing everything evenly, you should hear it all drop down at the same level – the key is getting it linear.
Another aspect is the hearing. At Knife Party, where it was incredibly loud, no ear-ringing at all – myself and most of the engineers went all night without any ear plugs as well. You ears felt tired, but there was no audible damage to hearing. Distortion is one of the main factors in hearing damage, I certainly found if I'd had ringing after a gig it would be from a system that's been distorted, even at low levels.
I also wanted to highlight something else – you always know when you've got a flat linear system, or accurate system when you can play everything on it from classical to dubstep, rock to opera, and everything is a reference. That's what I always used to do when I was testing systems, if they could play one thing and not another, then they weren't that great! So that's the important thing with our technology, you don't need another system, you could play rock one night and dubstep the next. It's very versatile.
That's great! Just to finish up, where can people go over the coming months to experience the Flare system?
There's a place in London called Ace Bros, who've got the full range of professional kit and they'll be doing State London's party on January 18th. That will be one of the first outings for the X3A, which is our aluminium product – they're working with Pablo Godofredo to deliver a really unique experience in London. That will be one of the first club nights to utilise our technology. We have a full compliment of events happening at the Brighton Centre soon, too.
So there you have it, Flare Audio purports to be an innovation in sound and is set to revolutionise clubs, concerts and even cinema and home sound when it eventually starts to roll out. Check out yourself and let us know what you think of it...
By Marcus Barnes
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When MEOKO rang the WRDM help desk and asked me to write something, I initially thought it was Moloko on the phone. I know that they tend to get Sing it Back re-released and remixed every couple of years so I was excited for a few seconds.
The image of a Moloko – Sing It Back (Tonka’s Minimal Hard House Remix) CD single sat on a rack in HMV flashed before my eyes. “This has got number one on Top of the Pops AND the Beatport Top 100 House Chart written all over it”, I spat into over the receiver.
“I’ve got Ableton 9 and an Akai MPC20 controller. It’s a shit crack and I only have about fifteen instruments on it, but there are some good effects I can use”, I spluttered enthusiastically. “You don’t sound very Irish on the phone. I suppose you’ve spent a lot of time in England since the nineties and you must travel the world doing gigs. Fuck me, I’m rambling. Sorry. How did you get my, I mean, how can I help?”
I won’t lie; I was ecstatic when the young lady on the phone explained that she was calling from MEOKO. Me-o-k-o.
I’d been asked to write some words for the prestigious and serious MEOKO magazine, not remix a tired old dance hit that had been re-jigged a million times before. I blushingly agreed to write out of the kindness of my heart. Not to mention pride.
Here are the rest of my words:
If you don’t know who I am, my name is Tonka. I shot to fame after breathing life into the world famous Weekly Review of Dance Music. WRDM does what it says better than anyone else and it tells you what to think. WRDM won the prestigious Blog of the Week in The Guardian during a week in August 2013 and is featured on a regular basis in the Resident Advisor Feed. I chat with the great and the good in the world of dance; Ben Westbeech, Acid Pauli, Pittsburgh Track Authority, Jeremy Healy, Tim Sheridan, Mr G, Egyptian Lover and, most recently, Danny Rampling to name but a few have all forked out thousands of THEIR pounds flying and ferrying me around the world to interview them.
I have made zero pence from writing in the two and a half years I’ve been publishing online.
- Why Tonka?
- I’m a mug.
Writing for MEOKO is a natural progession.
Have you ever sat in on a Saturday night with a jumbo bottle of San Miguel, a grab bag of BBQ beef Hula Hoops, a Galaxy chocolate bar and listened to Heart FM whilst struggling to write a guest piece for a website? Club Classics with Mark off of The Only Way is Essex followed by Club Classics with Steve Denyer. Try concentrating on banging out an article with Funkytown by Lipps Inc, Ultra Nate’s Free and that DJ Sammy track booming out of your telly on Freeview channel 728. It’s nigh on impossible to get any cohesion or thread going and my feet won’t stop fucking tapping. Look…
…I went to the fabric birthday party recently and wondered why I was the only person in there not wanting to suck on a birthday balloon. All around me I looked, watching with lolloping jaw as chaps and wenches all took turns to suck the air out of balloons. I grabbed the weakest looking one by the shoulder and screamed inside her ear.
“Leave them fucking balloons alone, you cheeky monkey! This is a fucking birthday party! Some poor fucker had the job of blowing them up earlier on so leave them where they are and just enjoy the party you stupid fucking idiot! You’re ruining it for me, the DJs and the poor promoters who DON’T want to see their decorations pulled down and sucked off”, I rasped.
“Suck it and see. They’re full of laughing gas. It’ll take you further”, she replied calmly.
“Laughing gas?” I boomed, “I wasn’t born yesterday, love. Pull the other one.”
She placed the rubber hole to my mouth. I sucked and saw.
When crossing the road I always look both ways and I NEVER talk to strangers. No matter how cautious I am outside of a nightclub, I’ll clearly try anything inside one – the No Fear logo on the pants that peek above my belt strap say’s as much about my character as it does my style. I sucked the air out of a Fabric birthday balloon and my head zoinked off of my shoulders for 30 odd seconds. When it came back to rest I was asked how I felt.
“The same as when I sniff an open bottle of Liquid Gold, babes, but without the shame of being seen sucking on a big blue balloon.”
I poured a little bit of Mandy onto my palm and shared something back before advising her to fork out a little bit extra for a bottle of poppers next time. Sucking on balloons in a nightclub is a false economy; pay five pounds to the man in Growler for a bottle of something more effective, that should last you – and all of the scroungers that will surround you on the dance floor – all night, rather than spend a separate quid over and over and over again to look like a reverse child. Know what I mean?
I Can’t Stand the Rain by someone I don’t know. That’s on now and I’ve lost my thread again.
I hope to be back on MEOKO again someday soon. I might not though. I don’t know.
With great delight, Tonka x
Hailing from the capital Bucharest, Nu Zau is the latest Romanian talent to offer his take on minimal-minded house and techno. Citing influences as varied as Rhadoo and Nas, he eventually decided to focus his efforts on the glitchier, more drawn-out side of electronic music, culminating in the release of his debut album through pioneering minimal imprint Archipel in 2012. MEOKO caught up with the DJ and producer to discuss his musical upbringing, and to try and gauge exactly what's behind Romania and its minimalist obsession.
Yes Nu Zau. For those of us that don't know the city, describe what it was like growing up in Bucharest, from both a musical and day-to-day perspective?
Well, from a musical point of view, there isn’t much to be said. Growing up in Bucharest didn’t have that much of an influence on me, musically at least. I mean sure, there’s a lot of musical variety in the city, lots of genres to be heard on every street corner, but I can’t say that it had that much of an influence on my musical approach, other than early on, when I started producing, I was very much influenced by local hip-hop. I wasn’t really aware of electronic music when I was growing up. Now it’s a well developed scene and I guess lots of people draw inspiration from that situation. From a personal perspective it was nice, and it still is. I grew up in a really tight group of people, my older brother being a big part of my upbringing. We’re still kids, in many ways, the both of us, and we still act like we’re part of that group. The city is nice too, I haven’t grown bored of it yet. All the places I’ve grown up with still have a very special place in my heart.
Hip-hop played a big party part in your musical evolution. Were these mainly US artists or are we talking about a more local scene?
Well, locally I’d have to say CTC and La Familia. Both groups were very important to me and I still listen to their tracks even now. Regarding US artists I’d have to say Mos Def, Guru and Nas.
The sparse, stripped-back nature of your productions draws instant comparisons to the a:rpia:r crew. How much of an influence would you say they were on your music, and in what ways?
They’ve been a huge influence for me, sure. I mean they pretty much kickstarted this whole thing, the whole 'romanian sound' phenomenon. I’d have to say that the percussion work and the general vibe of their tracks have inspired me greatly. Also the textures and micro-sampling, creating small rhythms that keep the track flowing and even throw up a couple of surprises for the listener.
As you said, it's a sound that feels very Romanian. What is it about the scene there that has people pursuing this percussive, minimal aesthetic?
To be honest, I couldn't really say. I couldn’t put my finger on it even if I tried. The micro-minimalistic approach to electronic music isn’t by any means new, you’ve got loads of other artists who made this kind of music earlier on – Ricardo Villalobos, a whole bunch of other guys over at Perlon, Zip of course. I don’t know why the people here are so into this sound, I guess we just like it.
And what do you personally engage with and find so powerful about it?
The fact that you can pretty much do anything within the boundaries that have been set. There isn’t really anything that can stop you from doing what you want with sounds, percussion, basslines. Endless alternations and rhythms, you know, that kind of thing.
Exclusive Nu Zau Music on MEOKO
It's a style that lends itself to producing long tracks. When you're in the studio producing, what is it in the music and the process that makes for such extended compositions?
I try to make them as mixable as possible, so that I can play them out and maybe layer another track or even two over them. Also it gives other DJs the option to do that as well. Apart from that I can also experiment with the sounds and rhythms, maybe break it up at some point, try a different arrangement, that kind of thing. Even stretch it out a bit to the point of hypnosis.
The majority of your releases this year have been collaborations. How do you find the process of making music with someone else compares to making it on your own?
It’s very different, you never know what to expect. The final product might sound more or less like none of the people who contributed to the track and that’s the beauty of it. But then again it might take the shape of one of the artists intended, you never know. I haven’t worked with that many people and it’s still really exciting, they’re all very good friends and producers – Dubsons, Pake, Sepp, Sublee. I really dig their stuff so I’m excited to keep on working with them.
Signing your debut album to a label as respected as Archipel must have felt like a serious achievement. Will you continue to work with Pheek and co. in the future?
Of course it was huge milestone for me. I’ve loved Archipel for a really long time now and they’ve always pursued this minimal/micro soundscape that I’m very fond of. I also released a track on a VA for them and I’m looking forward to working with them again.
Finally, what does the rest of 2013, and even 2014, hold for Nu Zau?
Well I've got more releases coming up, but I don't want to get into that right now, I don't want to spoil the surprise. I'm looking forward to playing as often as I can and in as many places I can. I might take a bit of a break during the winter, just to be with my family and friends. After that it’s back on the train, wherever it takes me.
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By Carlos Hawthorn
2013 has been a tumultuous year for dance music. Daft Punk’s return topped the album charts, America’s mainstream has invested in ‘EDM’ and the ecstasy-related baggage that comes with it, social media has precipitated rows between the newly wealthy ‘press play’ DJs and the purist old guard, while from dubstep drops to deep house, pop music has embraced electronic sounds.
The beauty of the dance music industry is that it keeps chugging along with or without the various spotlights that are shined down upon it from time to time. Genres have exploded into the general consciousness on as many occasions as they have been written off for dead. Amid all of this, and perhaps as a reaction to it, those less bothered by the big time keep on making music and DJing for a smaller, but far more loyal group of clubbers and audiophiles.
One movement that exemplifies this rejection of the dayglow and digital is the more indie and analogue house and techno being made by a ramshackle group of producers and DJs in the UK. The sound seems neatly bookended this year by two albums, Andrew Weatherall and Timothy J. Fairplay as The Asphodells with Ruled By Passion, Destroyed By Lust, and Daniel Avery’s long-awaited debut Drone Logic. It’s probably fair to say that Weatherall is the elder statesman of this scene, as the man who gave Primal Scream some electronic oomph and started the legendary Boys Own fanzine, while Avery is the young pretender, growing up on Death in Vegas and My Bloody Valentine before being seduced by the genre bending of Erol Alkan’s Trash night.
Both albums were formulated at Weatherall’s near mythical Scrutton Street studios, where an axis of artists use the synth-strewn rooms to exchange ideas and create weapons to play at nights like Sean Johnston’s A Love From Outer Space. “We’re all drawing on the same sort of influences, I think originality comes by accident when you start doing approximations of things, so maybe we’re channelling the things we love, trying to use the original equipment as much as possible,” says Weatherall. “It’s taken me and Ivan (Smagghe) probably longer to not get hung up on originality than Dan (Avery), I don’t think he’s set out to be original, but he has by default because he’s channelling the music he loves using the equipment that was used to make it in a lot of cases. If you do that you begin to stand out from what may be more of the moment and by default you become more original.”
Avery’s star has been rising for a couple of years now, from a slew of fine mixes and remixes in his own name and under the early moniker Stopmakingme, to widespread plaudits for his own fledgling productions, culminating in his drone-y, acidic and assured first LP in October. He believes his sound and that of his peers has always been around in some respect, so it’s not necessarily a reaction to anything else. “One thing I’ve noticed is that kids at the moment are wanting and willing to dig a bit deeper into electronic music and some are discovering this sound,” Avery commented. “This is underground music: it’s not based on recognisable R&B vocal samples or bottle service drops. It’s not for the masses, but there is a level of depth there for people to explore; sometimes scenes just take a while to come into view.”
For his part, Avery believes that while analogue equipment is increasingly used, it’s not the sole defining factor. “To me, I hear a certain attitude and spirit running through these records; it’s psychedelic electronic music with a dusty, human soul,” he suggested, adding that DJing has regained its excitement and signing to Phantasy seemed like a natural move. “Sharing the label with individualist minds like Erol Alkan, Babe Terror, Ghost Culture, Connan Mockasin and In Flagranti makes sense; we don’t make the same music but are all something of outsiders when it comes to club music and I’m more than happy to occupy that position.”
Author of authoritative dance music history Last Night A DJ Saved My Life and webmaster of crate diggers paradise DJ History, Bill Brewster is well placed to assess the trend. “It’s sort of the people that are not involved directly in the orthodox house scene I suppose; those on the periphery of it,” he suggested. “I mean when I go and watch Weatherall he’s playing whole sets at around 115 bpm, that kind of chuggy sound is very en vogue in certain areas of dance music.” It’s hard to define, but tempos seem to be around that 115 beats per minute mark, there are plenty of references to old Krautrock and psych indie bands, and whilst digital processes inevitably come into the equation, many eschew protools and plugins laptop production in favour of vintage equipment and live instrumentation.
Another veteran of the scene is Justin Robertson, who these days produces under the Deadstock 33s moniker, but has guided the path of British dance music for over two decades under guises like Lionrock, Revtone and The Prankster. He is nervous about codifying the current trend for fear of creating another progressive house/minimal/dubstep backlash. “I hope it’s not a movement, because any orthodoxy tends to strangle itself with self righteous rules and restrictions,” Robertson opined. “think what we have in common is that we don’t want clean precision; we dig a raw but soulful electronic primitivisThere does certainly seem to be a group of producers and DJs who value a certain visceral, primitive, psychedelic aesthetic, a raw stripped back sound that draws its influence from drone, dub, psych and the motoric vibes of Chicago, Detroit and Dusseldorf. It’s really quite a broad church, from Factory Floor through to wigged out psychedelic disco, taking in the whole universe of out there vibes, but I think what we have in common is that we don’t want clean precision; we dig a raw but soulful electronic primitivism.”
Whilst talking to these proponents of the genre without a name, what is striking is that nobody’s willing to criticise the other electronic music trends currently crossing over into the mainstream. “I’m not a fan of the EDM sound, whatever that means, but fair enough if people are moved by it that’s their scene, that’s cool, but that’s not what I like in dance music, so I kind of plough my own furrow; what Andrew (Weatherall) once referred to as the path of most resistance!” commented Robertson. Brewster sees it as all just another cycle in the constantly evolving world of dance music. “It’s exciting to imagine all of those young teenagers now who are being introduced to dance music through the EDM boom, what they’re going to be doing in five or six years time with their cheap programmes like Fruity Loops and Garage Band; when they’ve gone through EDM and are looking for something more interesting.”
By Peter Walker
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As Paris' underground electronic scene continues to flourish, Concrete remains at the forefront of the drive. Following the success of Weather Festival back at the start of summer, the popular Sunday all-dayer remains dedicated to showcasing the kinds of lineups that both surprise and satisfy in equal measure. Since reopening for the winter season in early September, the boat has played host to the likes of Nina Kraviz, Rhadoo and Rush House recordings.
On November 24th, another action-packed bill hits the capital. Work Them Records boss Spencer Parker and Berghain/Panorama Bar regular Ryan Elliott will both spin, alongside a live performance from nascent talent Recondite. On support you have two of Paris' most revered resident DJs, with Rex Club's Molly and in-house pair Behzad & Amarou both on hand. Just in case you thought this party could not sound better, none other than Laurent Garnier has been selected to steer the ship safely into Monday morning. There still remains no better way to spend your day of rest in the French capital.
Full lineup /
Laurent GarnierRyan ElliottRecondite – Live Spencer ParkerMollyBehzad & Amarou
The lovely people at Concrete have teamed up with MEOKO to offer two lucky readers the chance to win entry for themselves and a friend. To enter, drop us an email at
with the answer to the following question:
On the 24th November, you and your friend will be dancing in:
a) a ship
b) a bus
c) a cave
Doors open at 6 AM on Sunday 24th November and close at 1.45 AM the following morning. Tickets are available online now from £15.
More information available HERE