- Published on Wednesday, 20 December 2017 10:59
When you’re steeped in the European minimal scene, it’s easy to forget that there is more to it than the Old Continent’s capital cities, that everything does not exclusively revolve around London, Berlin, and the occasional Romanian getaway. Just as comfortable spinning in his native Russia or his adopted home of New York, Maksim is the living proof that the scene is just as vital in many places around the globe, and he’s now part of those DJs from the periphery that have started touring Europe, rather than the other way around. Indeed, as a resident of ReSolute, Maksim cut his teeth on one of the states’ most infamous minimal dancefloors; it’s no surprise that, sooner or later, our European ears would catch wind of the man’s talents.
It surely helped that 2017 saw him release his first official EP on Aline Brooklyn — the three edits have encountered massive success and already fetch high prices on the second-hand market. Thankfully if you’ve missed the boat on this one, Maksim hints at more to come on the release front next year. And with a Moscow booking that places him along the likes of Eli Verveine, Dorian Paic or Livio & Roby for the New Year, his name is justly becoming an established one on the circuit.
As the list of his achievements is sure to grow longer in the coming years, it was due time for Maksim to get Under The MEOKO Microscope, with an interview that sees him talking Russian clubbing, edits, and… Spice Girls. And to soundtrack the read, Maksim offered one of his own favourite creations as a MEOKO exclusive. Nope, it’s no Spice Girls edit — we’re still hoping to ever hear this one — but this rendition of Chinawoman’s “Party Girl”’s got the languid groove that’s steadily becoming Maksim’s calling card all over it.
Hey Maksim, thanks for having us, a pleasure for me!
Thanks for having me, I was looking forward to it!
1- You’re one of ReSolute’s resident DJ since 2013, so let’s start from there. Can you introduce ReSolute to our European readers?
Resolute, resolute.. well, it's dirty, it's dark, and it's real. We have guests come from around the world to join our parties in everchanging venues in NYC ( mostly warehouses) and also throw international parties. The consistent component is the music. Don't expect to leave with clean shoes but expect to dance till sunrise. And a driving force behind all of it is Nektarios, with his charm and vision.
2- And what about you? What age did you move stateside? Can you tell us a bit about your backstory basically?
It was an accident. I had friends living in New York and was invited to visit so I got a visa but never used it. Then, after a long party, a fight with my girlfriend, and one brilliant decision... I walked out from the afterparty onto a flight.
3- You’ve been spinning for 6/7 years now but how did you get into electronic music and ended up becoming one of ReSolute’s residents? Are there some DJs that exerted a strong influence on you?
My dad was music collector and my mom was a ballerina.. well, actually not true. I was a fan of Spice Girls and had a Nick Carter haircut. No jazz in the kindergarten for me, I literally had a bad taste in everything. I was a part of all subcultures in the end, but I can still sing along with Britney Spears.
It’s okay to grow, to learn, you don’t have to be brilliant from the beginning. Look at me now, doing an interview for Meoko.
My first club job, at 17, was a favor to my sister and was in my hometown. I’m still not sure what kind of a shady business it was, but I got in as a lighting guy. Needless to say, I had no idea what I was doing. Aside from lighting, I also resuscitated the resident who drank too much. My "big chance" came when unable to revive him, I was asked to jump in and play. Eventually, I began to play on the weekends.Then I moved to Kursk and got a job at the club there. It was pretty commercial but it was huge and popular and paid. After 5 am we could play whatever we wanted, so I started to explore. Minimal came along, I fell in love, I got fired. But, don't fret, love of a woman did get me to Moscow and Arma17. Which finished shaping my taste
NYC was a crazy couch surfing, broke, no visa situation. But over time I made progress in the techno scene. Connie, who is a resident of Resolute, got me my first gig at a resolute Party. I guess I was okay because I became a resident shortly after.
When it comes to influences it’s Backstreet Boys.. joking. It’s Trentemoller who was ahead of his times, Led Zeppelin (yes) and Mathew Herbert. I love Mathews music and enjoy listening to his interviews. He often gets blamed for being too political and talking too much about societal problems, but I think that’s what art is about. I personally believe good music comes from a similar inspection of the struggles and debates of the times, but then again sometimes you just want to dance. Unfortunately, nowadays its difficult to be critical or have a differing opinion, the art of intelligent debate has suffered under social media.
4- You had a few tracks and edits coming out under your birth name in the past, but Aline 002 is really your first proper release. Can you talk about the label and the people behind it, and how this record came up? It seems quite mysterious…
True, I had a few digital releases back in the day. Different genre, not a big fan of those. but there is always a beginning ;) Then I started doing edits, they're more like remixes without stems. Some received lots of positive attention, like Who are we- on Ricardo Villalobos. One of my favorites is an edit on China Woman - Party girl. I love Rock and grunge.
I still wanted to have a record of my own, but it seemed complicated. Then my friend Nico (French, Young, Fabulous and Broke DJ) started his Aline label. I'm glad it seems mysterious, that's what Nico wanted. I showed him some demos and he loved them, then the long process of finishing started. Producing doesn’t come easily to me, I’m quite distractable, a bit of a goldfish in a bowl if you will. I may or may not also be a perfectionist, so it's a fine balance. I had no gear. I borrowed a sound card from a friend, I used Nikos home studio to check if everything sounded ok.
5- The release’s got a great feedback, how did you feel about that? Does it mean we can we expect more stuff on the production side of things from you?
I was very excited to hear the final product and hold the record in my hands. it sold out in 3 days, I was very happy about and also now I don’t have to buy presents when I travel for a least a couple months. I have few remixes coming on Minim Records, hopefully, right after NYE. And it's a very important project for me, you’ll see what I mean later. (insert intrigue here) I actually think you should release about 3 tracks per year, as a kind of quality control. 75% of iTunes don’t get downloaded ever, seems like a bit of a quantity problem ;)
6- What’s a good edit supposed to do for you?
It gives me the freedom to breathe new life into things I already love. No rules, everything goes. Rembrandt to Picasso.
7- You still play fairly regularly in Russia, do you follow the local scene?
Yes, I do. I can say it’s one of my favorite gigs. The nightlife is crazy in a good way! There are a lot of beautiful venues. You can party just in front of the Kremlin inside the Old Soviet Saunas for top politicians which are now a club, or in a club where you walk through a Chinese takeout Place to enter, and at the roof of an old factory by the river in the middle of Moscow. it always amazes me. A huge diversity of music and on any day of the week you can find something to do. Also, the parties last forever, last time I played there it went from Friday to Sunday. I think Slowdance is one of my favorite Moscow parties and definitely Stakenshnaider in St.Petersburg is very cool. Adjustment Bureau throws out some great productions and go see Pushkarev, Gorge and Izhevsky.
8- How is it different to play in New York, Russia or Western Europe? Different crowds? Would you ever move to Europe, to be closer to the “scene”?
Crowds are very different, that what makes it exciting and sometimes challenging to play different countries and cities. I have definitely considered moving to Europe, but right now I'm happy in New York.
9- In general, what’s the scene like in New York? What would you recommend our readers to check out if they get to visit? Any artists and labels you think deserve more recognition?
New York has a very decent scene! In recent years it's grown very much. Venues, Labels and real talents have emerged here. Definitely, visit Output, stop by at TBA for a drink. Of course, Resolute always has something special. There plenty of good small underground parties, as well. Resolute has a new label DisDat that's worth a look, Julia Govor just put out a solid record, and Mimin Records have released some good stuff. and of course, my fellow residents are worth a listen, all of them unique but gifted. Lauren is the lone real jobber and is a part of All Day I Dream. Connie plays the drums is a rock band and just wrote and made a video for a Pop song. Obee just finished a project for Pornhub ( yes, you read that right) Orazio our resident political thinker.
10- Have you noticed any changes in recent times? I know the cabaret law’s been repealed, there’s a new Office of Nightlife… do you think the narrative around NYC’s nightlife is changing?
Yes, it was finally repealed but I don’t think it will directly affect dance culture. The problem with throwing parties in NY is that it takes forever to get all the permits, it's very expensive, and the relevant hours are tough to accommodate. All this just forces people to get creative for better and worse. ;)
11- There’s also quite a nice house and techno scene, with Bossa Nova, Sustain-Release, the Bunker, Unter… Is it something you’re interested in at all? Are there connections between your people and them?
It's my guilty pleasure, gladly I’m a good friend with Julia Govor, so I get an in. We recently did Resolute with Nina Kraviz, that went very well, the music the crowd! you may expect more like it in the future! I really like the sound, it’s raw it’s more human, same when it comes to the house. I like it less perfect, more dirty, that you can feel it was made by a human. Not sure about connections, when it comes to crowd’s it’s absolutely different people, which I understand, but hopefully in the future, it will be more united.
12- Any recent highlights? How was the Get Perlonized party you guys did?! You’ve also had the 10 years anniversary!
Get Perlonized is definitely a highlight for us, when a major player in the scene does a party with you, especially for their anniversary, that means a lot. Proper warehouse, next to the railroad, night to day party! For our 10th anniversary, we're going global, recently we hit Bucharest Romania, at Guest House. Then Moscow's Gazgolder and much more to come.
13- And finally, can you tell us what’s in the works for you in 2018?
2018 will start with the gig in my beloved Moscow, I’m playing for Slowdance. Then St.Petersburg on the 2nd and I have a few gig’s in Spain, definitely, wait for a couple of new edit’s, I can promise it will be special. And of course a release on Minim Records, with a truly great story behind it. I always wanted to do something good, something I can be proud of and finally got a chance, and I’m not talking about me or music.
Thank you very much, Maksim, all the best!
Thanks to you! Poka
Words by Pierre-Alexis Chauvin
- Published on Wednesday, 13 December 2017 14:52
10 AM at an afterparty, and through the misty haze and your friends’ chatter, you can hear the twinkling arps of “Mahoney” rising. Or maybe you’re at a festival’s peak time, and it is “Frischfisch” that sends the crowd into a frenzy. Other places, other tracks, but what’s for sure is that Traffic tunes have been ubiquitous in the past year. Your favourite DJs probably played them, and it’s likely their favourite DJs did too.
Traffic records formed back in 2013 in the Frankfurt/Offenbach area — a region that evokes an important financial center to many, but which to dance music fans brings to mind some of house’s and techno’s household names. From Sven Väth to Robert Johnson, by way of Perlon, Playhouse, Roman Flügel and countless others, this city breathes electronic music like no other, in a very free-spirited way — and you can tell the Traffic boys did soak in its air. Technoid beats, alien sounds, synthetic textures. Few live up to the old techno ideal of machine funk the way Traffic does. In spirit at least, they’re proper members of the Midnight Funk Association. Even their graphics resemble strange textures, evoking the swirl of perception your dazed brain cannot process on a night out. Hell, this logo sure reminds me of my blurry-sighted intoxicated self, happily caught in the strobes and lost in the sound.
Martyné is one of the crew’s founders, and it’s little to say we’re excited he agreed to do an interview with us. In it, he frequently stresses the idea of crossing borders, of overcoming limits. Martyné knows his dance music history. He’s part of a generation of DJs who seem to have an unquenchable thirst for the most obscure records, those that will live on in the dancers’ memory long after the night is over, and be jealously guarded in the coveted shadows of the DJ’s bag. This passion for dance music’s legacy and their open-mindedness to cross-fertilization means the Traffic sound is a mixed bag of influences that exceeds their sum.
This also means that it’s a sound hard to pinpoint. House, garage, breaks, techno, electro? All of those, and more? Really what binds together the label’s tracks is more akin to a spirit than a music genre: at its heart is an inherent playfulness — a deeply infectious playfulness that explains the label’s success. As Martyné explains, this is the product of a close group of friends who grew up together, shared their first parties and ended up making tunes together. You could dissect these tunes for sure, study their use of drums and steal their synths. Yet the inimitable ingredient is this close bond that allows Martyné, Bodin, Jacob and the others to let go and capture the essence of a session — you may call it a feeling, or an aura, but this surely is what makes these sounds click.
At the end of the day, this is a group of friends having a bloody good time together, and you can hear it. This has clearly been there since day one. But as they mastered their gear, the mixture became deadly; a sound-transmissible virus aiming straight for your eardrums — to be fair, you’ve probably already caught it. This virus is very much present in the exclusive mix Martyné came up with for us: sprinkled with some unreleased tracks from the crew, it features breezy house, queasy bleeps, and a bunch of basslines designed to tear up dancefloors. Careful, it ain’t no cure — but why’d you want one?
MEOKO caught up with Martyné to hear about his and Traffic’s journey — a journey that took them from the Rhine banks to the breezy shores of Ibiza and saw them come up with a unique sound. Press play, and read on.
1- Who are the main characters running Traffic right now and what ́s your relationship? Apparently you and Jacob grew up in the same village...
The inner circle of Traffic Records consists of Bodin, Jacob, Patrick and me. We are the main characters and producers, running the label and managing everything linked to it. Jacob ́s brother Julian Chenaux is also co founder, belongs to the collective and is a very close friend. I know the Chenaux ́s and Patrick since the age of 15. We all grew up in a small town in the countryside next to Frankfurt where we had our first beer together and also our first party experience. So it ́s quite a long term friendship. In 2010 we met Bodin at a party. He was playing one of my first records and was hardly into it. So he is actually the only one of the collective coming straight out of Frankfurt and was more or less the last piece of our Traffic puzzle.
2- What led you guys to launch Traffic? Did you have a specific idea in mind about what the label should be, or was it a case of “let’s see what happens”?
The intention was to create a platform for our own creativity. Releasing several EPs on different labels is important for an artist but you always give away a small part of yourself. An own label is the best way to express your own identification or personality with different emotions and to show the specific style of likeminded musicians. Its a kind of a white sheet of paper giving you the opportunity to draw your personal picture and write down your own story. All our productions are reflecting exactly these inspirations and moods. Starting with more reduced sound, over garage, house till raw techno and breaks. Its a very personal journey showing a lot of different faces.
3- Do you feel like now you’ve reached a distinctive sound with Traffic?
After almost 5 years you can say the label is a cross-section of electronic music with the fingerprints of each of us. Coming from euphoric impressions down to sentimental, hypnotic grooves - you can feel and hear everything in our productions. This personal touch is very important for us and a kind of a trade mark not to sink in any hype. It ́s representing the development of our musical consciousness. Traffic Records is not focusing on a specific genre. It´s more about the variety of sounds. It really feels conclusive to me. Due to the fact that there are only some protagonists and key producers, the label got its own identity really quick. The releases by A2, Z@P and Edward were carefully selected to deliver even more variety. But all in all the label still keeps up the main spirit and it ́s identity. So I can say we reached a level where we can look back with no regret and we can be happy with our discography so far.
4- Traffic feels very much like a family affair between a close group of friends, what’s the spirit behind the label?
The spirit behind the label is based on friendship. We grew up together, shared big nights, experienced great sets and therefore we are on a very similar level when it comes to music. Everyone of us is following the same idea and is bringing in his strengths. Hate or jealousy are loanwords so we ́re able to create things with a free mind.
5- Frankfurt and Offenbach have got quite a legacy in terms of electronic music, how do you relate to the city’s old guard? Were some of them a big inspiration for you?
Yes, definitely! The former Freebase Records shop for instance was my very first base to explore electronic music. It was one of the places where I met many of my current friends and learned about the Frankfurt scene. Carsten Schuchmann aka MEAT (owner of Freebase Records) gave me the first opportunity to play at Robert Johnson, a very important experience for me back then. Another important spot was the Cocoon club where we started our first raves, listened to Sven and other big names. A lot of characters from the old guard and places from the past still have an influence on today ́s generation. Actually there are too many to mention right now but I would like to highlight Heiko MSO. Once I did an interview with him for my studies where he told me all stories about "Snap!", the development of "I ́ve got the power" or stories about fundamental movements of this city. It was really impressive and showed me how that kind of music stands for the area in and around Frankfurt. Many people connect Frankfurt with big banks and the stock exchance but in fact the most important cultural identification is its steady contribution to electronic music.
6- I know Robert Johnson played an important role in shaping you and the label, what’s so special about the club? Do you have any memories associated with it that stick out?
Robert Johnson is limitless and places with no limits are a rare good in this world. Artists are able to break through their comfort zone and to experiment with different kinds of styles. There is no need for steady floor bangers to keep people dancing. The venue represents a level of openness which I ́ve never felt in a club before. Robert Johnson is my personal school of sound and when it comes to producing music I always have it ́s floor in my mind. I don't know how many hours I spent there, but this club has had an big impact on my musical education. The experiences I ́ve made there are helping me to know what sound suits me and how my productions have to be finalized. When it comes to a specific, influential night I really can't figure it out, because we had so many of them. The crowd there is really into the music and together with all our friends every night is a special one.
7- What does a Traffic night at Robert Johnson sound like? I’d imagine it’s always special for you to play there.
Since the very first Traffic showcase at Robert Johnson in 2015 it ́s usual that we invite a guest who is close to the sound and idea of the label. We had artists like Binh, Onur Özer, Andrew James Gustav or Etienne in the past. At the moment we are planning to host different live acts when it comes to the next edition of Traffic at Robert Johnson. All these artists are likeminded in terms of our definition of musical quality and we ́re always happy to play alongside with them at our favorite club. It ́s very important for our development to have a residency in a well respected club and to gather experiences and increase our skills. From the proper sound system to the professional team on site - the whole package let you feel good and it ́s a great to have our label nights in such good hands.
8- I feel like release after release your sound has become leaner, crisper — more focused in a sense. Do you have a clearer idea of what you’re looking for when going to the studio, and do you feel more confident production-wise?
We never have a specific idea when we ́re in the studio. Most of our output is driven by inspirations, moods and emotions. So it ́s difficult to compare one session with another; but during the last years we ́ve been getting more and more experienced with our gears and the way of how to arrange all these different inspirations in our tracks. The beginning of Traffic around 2013 was also the beginning of our work with machines and hardware. So for sure we needed time to gain experience with it. In the past we always had the feeling the track needs more fullness and elements, but with every year we reduced this thought and this leads us to a cleaned up arrangement of sounds. With every track we come closer to the ability to recreate our imagination in a track and this is what its all about for me. Get away from "Try and Error" to a focused. clear view on producing music.
9- Many of the tracks on Traffic tend to be collaborations between you guys, how do you usually proceed? What does each of you bring to the table? What’s the atmosphere like when you’re all in the studio, behind the scenes?
These collaborations are an important factor and also a kind of a unique feature. The inspirations and influences of two guys are always more versatile and are leading us to better results. We share a special energy in company linked to a higher level of quality. It´s easier to cross borders together especially with someone you know for so long. It keeps your mind free and open for any impressions. When someone stucks the other one will always have an idea of how to proceed. All these components give us the possibility to work on a fast and focused level.
However, when I produce by myself it takes me longer to get lead just by my feelings and to reach a thoughtless state of mind. Therefore I need to do longer sessions to make sure to reach my personal intuitive flow. The differences in terms of the output itself aren ́t that big due to the fact that Bodin, Jacob and me are all on a similar level. Producing alone is an introvert way of working for me. It ́s also the time for me to come down a bit.
10- To me it felt like the label broke through big last year, and around the same time you really seemed to establish a distinctive aesthetic, did you feel any pressure following up and keeping things interesting?
No I don't feel any pressure to keep things interesting. We have a steady development in our studio work and never have the feeling that we reached a point of stagnation or boredum. Specific hypes doesn ́t affect us and we always stay real to our style and the people around us. That ́s what people feel when they listen to our music. You can feel the energy and situations we shared in that very moment when the track was created. With this attitude and behaviour in mind your music never get an expire date .
11- I know you’re on the Cocoon roster now, what did it change for you?
Cocoon, especially our booker Gregor, did a very good job in the last year. We played in well known clubs across Europe which brought us to another level. You can feel their long experience in the business and they have a sensible, professional way to handle our bookings and everything around. We are grateful to be in a roster of such an agency following their goals since 20 years now. Many important protagonists of our scene are related to Cocoon and have been part of their agency over the last two decades. Now we can bring in our part and we are curious about the plans for 2018.
12- You also played in Ibiza for the first time for a b2b with Bodin&Jacob at Amnesia, how was that? Were there any moments you wondered what the hell is going on?
It was definitely one of our highlights in 2017. We played the warm-up slot before Sonja Moonear and Ricardo Villalobos on the terrace. I cannot imagine a better way to make your debut at Amnesia. I ́ve been already there as a guest and its pretty impressive to go through this venue. It ́s a kind of an aim of life for many artists to play there and we had the opportunity to reach it. It was a proper night with a great line-up on both floors. Everything went very well and I ́m still impressed by the sound system and the atmosphere of Amnesia. A massive night and we had a lot of fun. Of course we hope to be back in 2018.
13- Were there any other highlights in this busy year, for you or Traffic?
Apart from Amnesia we were really happy about our first appearances at Concrete Paris. It was in March when Brice invited all of us to play the whole night on the wooden floor. In September Bodin and me returned for a Most Wanted showcase. Concrete really belongs to our favourites now. Another gig to highlight was our Traffic showcase at the famous Goa Club in Rome in October. It ́s a super nice venue and the Nozoo team did a great job to make our label showcase a real blast. Also our showcases at Robert Johnson in March and August have to be mentioned and we ́re really grateful to host a third date now in December. Apart from the dates together with Bodin and Jacob, I played my first gig alongside Sven Väth in Antwerp. It was a Cocoon showcase where I warmed up for him and took over for the final shift. That was really heavy and intense but it worked out pretty well. A very positive feeling and of course a night to remember. In general I have to say the whole year was a highlight. I really can't complain.
14- Whether in Ibiza or at a confidential afterhour, do you have a routine when preparing a set?
No, there is no specific routine. Of course it depends on my playtime but in general I just pick the records I like the most. I don't have a specific way of playing either. My aim is to absorb the mood of the crowd and to play with it in the most positive way. Every venue and crowd is different and when you know how to catch the mood you can act or react quite flexible. A good night for me is mainly based on the wordless communication between the artist and the crowd. If you have the sensibility to connect to that you can't pick wrong. Of course, sometimes that connection can be disturbed but there is no preparation for this case.
15- How important is the pacing of a night, from the warm-up set to the late-hours? Are you more of a peak-time sort of guy or do you revel in those hazy hours?
I feel quite comfortable in the early morning hours, this is my favorite time to play. People are getting focused on the music, they had their talks and met their friends and then its the time for the floor. It ́s a very thankful time and you get back what you give to them. You can bring some bangers or try to lead to a more mind based sound. It depends on you but in these hours the variety and the spectrum you can serve is not comparable to the main time or the warm up. But for sure also the main set is one of my favorites, I love to play out bangers and this is also characteristic for our sets.
16- With all the hype around the kind of sounds you’re pushing, aren’t you afraid it ends up becoming too formulaic? How do you keep things fresh?
I don't have a plan to keep my stuff fresh. A hype can be over in a second, so you should not concentrate on it. This whole movement creates a platform for a lot of amazing artists who are spreading their sound now. So to keep things fresh you just need to focus on your ears and listen. At the moment there is so much great output like I didn't hear for years now. A musical hype always ends when there is no variety anymore. It ends when everybody is jumping on that train and the market is flooded with similar, copied music and the loss of creativity. For sure this will happen somehow. You ́ve to keep a constant state of quality, don ́t get lazy and dig deep to keep things fresh.
17- Do you feel like the obsession with obscure records leads to some kind of exhaustion, or does the competition sort of pushes you to dig even deeper? Is it all about Discogs these days for you?
For me its the only thing which continously pushes me. I never get bored to search through this limitless amount of music. It ́s a task for your life and the feeling when you find great records is not comparable. In my opinion showing unknown, flashing music to the audience is the one of the most important parts of a dj. I get bored very fast as a listener so I always need some new impressions to keep on going. For example, I heard Nicolas Lutz and Binh recently at Hoppetosse and I danced the whole night. Djs like them are giving me the motivation and impressions to continue my game. So for me it ́s all about obscure, rare records. I don ́t criticize anyone who has a another opinion about it but I can't find my pleasure in another, more generic sound.
18- Do you play exclusively vinyl? How important to you is it as a medium?
Vinyl is my focus but I don't play it exclusively. For our own unreleased productions and the music of our friends we use USB. Furthermore there aren ́t so many venues focusing on this medium so you have to be prepared when it comes to problems with the turntables. But I have to say that our agency has a focus on artists playing vinyl. So the promoters are mostly aware to optimize the setup as far as possible to play records.
19- Is there any scene or genre that you’re particularly obsessed with in terms of digging right now?
Being focused on just one genre is not my style. I just go through a collection and pick what I like. I like listening to bleepy techno and electro but I also enjoy great house tunes. It ́s really difficult to figure out a specific genre which I listen to mostly. Sticking to a specific sound is boring for me. We can look back on such a long history and variety of music so why build up borders to yourself?
20- Speaking of digging, this is how you ended up releasing A²’s new material and contributing to put them back on the limelight, right?
Yes, that ́s right. First we found their records and we were really impressed. Then we started working on the EP. It ́s cool to work together with the older generation of producers. They have their own view on music and we learn a lot from their experiences. In general I feel another energy when I listen to old tapes and recordings. The aesthetic of these old tracks tells another story than the music from today. But the combination of impressions from today and the past is what keeps the music always interesting in my eyes.
21- Are there any other forgotten producers that were instrumental in shaping your sound, and that you might want to release as well?
We have no specific plan to release another artist from the past but we are always open for that. There are many artists out there who shaped our sound from today. A² is a great example.
22- On the other hand, one of Traffic’s most recent releases was by Z@P, how did that connection happen? Do you intend to welcome other producers to the Traffic family?
Z@P catched our attention when Vera played his Melliflow release at Robert Johnson. We asked her for the track id and the day after we connected us with him. He is a very cool guy and right from the beginning there was a friendly relation between us. After sharing some tracks we asked him if he is up for a release and he agreed. The tracks fit perfect and we are really happy with that release. Sadly we havent met him so far but we are working on it in 2018. We gonna try to get him over to our label nights. I really like the people I met from Montevideo. It feels like they are sharing the same idea like we do in Frankfurt/Offenbach. It was just a logical result to connect these two cities with this release. Of course we´ll welcome other producers to the Traffic family sooner or later. But right know I cannot mention any names.
23- You’ve been associated with a strong scene of labels (Pager, HardWorkSoftDrink, etc) achieving similar recognition lately, but are there any up and coming crews and artists from the Frankfurt/Offenbach area you’d like to shed some light on?
We have a lot of groups in Offenbach/Frankfurt and all of them are doing great in their own style. There is the crew around Orson Wells with more rough electro and the guys of Hotel International who are doing great parties in our area. Talking about the younger generation there are talented guys like Tom Ries and Robin Stern. They are doing a great job with their productions. In general there is always a development going on here and it is important to always have an eye on it.
24- The label’s already turning five next year, are you planning on celebrating in any way? More generally what’s in the works for Traffic? Any upcoming releases and gigs for you?
There will definitely be a proper rave to celebrate our 5th anniversary. We are going to start working on it very soon so keep your eyes and ears open :) Furthermore we´ve planned our first solo EP´s on Traffic Records. This is quite a premiere and we ´re really looking forward to it. Another highlight production-wise will be the EP on our close friends label Pressure Traxx. All three of us contributed here and it´s gonna be released at the beginning of 2018. Finally we are going to launch a new label which is related to our afterhour project called „Not on Earth“. 2017 will be closed with two label showcases. The first one at Robert Johnson together with Dopplereffekt LIVE and the second one at White Noise in Stuttgart. I´ll also play at RED58 together with Dana Ruh right before Christmas. All in all we want to take up that drive from 2017 and continue with it in the new year. There is still a lot to do and we´re are really looking forward to it!
25- Finally, can you talk a little about this mix you did for MEOKO? Was there an idea to it or did you just go with the flow?
I chose some nice house stuff and unreleased Traffic tunes for the mix. Hear it upfront the night, fits very good ;)
'Yes I do love drums and percussion – that’s probably the most important aspect of a track for me.': Traumer Interview
- Published on Wednesday, 13 December 2017 14:46
Romain Reynaud is a restless guy. He broke through as Traumer in the early 2010’s, releasing driving techno on Skryptöm, the label operated by French scene veteran Electric Rescue. This is a sound he diligently refined, sometimes on his own, sometimes as part of Skryptöm supergroup Möd3rn or with his many projects with another legend of the French underground, DJ Deep. But these days, this sound belongs more to his Roman Poncet alias. A creative frenzy has seemingly seized the ever-productive Frenchman: Romain came up with Marion Poncet to release his more housey fare, while Traumer ditched the techno and started churning out microhouse bangers. Romain can proudly consider himself a descendent of those 1990s producers who would casually craft house, techno and everything in-between under a myriad of aliases — bearing the spirit of a time where things seemed to be less compartmentalized. And this free-spirited approach belies raw talent too: no matter the genre he tackles, one can always rely on the now seasoned producer to provide booming kicks and a solid groove.
Put simply, Romain Reynaud is a diamond with many faces. And for us at MEOKO, it’s under his renewed Traumer monicker that he shines the most. Gettraum, the outlet he launched to host these minimal-leaning productions, is full of chiseled drums, odd and seductive vocals, and expertly timed breakdowns. Seemingly overnight, the already successful techno producer naturally became a sensation amongst lovers of the bouncier stuff. What happened though? Did Romain take a nap on Mamaia Beach a fateful day, and wake up determined to spread the gospel with the distinctive zeal of the newly converted? Or was this sound brewing inside him all along, ready to bloom? In any case, it seems obvious that he caught the virus, and is now as hooked as the rest of us — which we couldn’t be more happy about, since the string of EPs he lined up on Gettraum have been flawless so far. Don’t believe us? Well you can hear it for yourself, because Traumer will share the bill with Apollonia at Unleash’s December 16th party. So to get to know the man and find out about his truly uncommon trajectory, MEOKO caught up with him ahead of his upcoming London gig.
1- Hi Romain, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! I wanted to start talking about your touring. Between Traumer and Roman Poncet, you’ve been on the road all the time for three or four years, playing every continent, so how’s this lifestyle going for you? How do you manage keeping things fresh and exciting?
My pleasure! Travelling the word to play my music is probably one of the best jobs in the world – you’re always inspired by new people, new cultures, new places and so on. However, this can also create some difficulties – especially if you’re missing someone who’s waiting for you at home. In my case, there is someone waiting for me every weekend, during every tour. I can handle a single weekend away – but for the longer tours, like a week or two – it’s always a mental challenge for me. Even if the people I meet during the tour give me a lot of good vibes, when you get back to your hotel and you’re all alone, this is not so easy sometimes.
Still, I am very enthusiastic about touring, this is my passion, my thing. I guess having different monikers linked to different kind of music, also helps me lot in terms of keeping myself inspired.
2- Among these gigs all over the world, did any make a particularly strong impression? I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of crazy stories, could you share a few of those with us?
It’s almost impossible to give you a short selection of the best moments – there are too many. Maybe one though yes, because it’s very special, and isn’t part of the classic circuit : My friend Pepperpot and I were playing for four days (daytime parties) on a wood platform in the middle of the pacific ocean, in the Fiji Islands. The name of the venue is Cloud9 – it’s very small and it isupposed to be quite chill, music-wise. We had an incredible week over there.
Crazy stories: I’ve a million for sure hehe – again, it’s difficult to pick one specific tale. Also, I think I prefer telling those kind of stories in real life – face to face – I like to act it out a little bit, to mimic, to use gestures etc – trying to tell a real proper story, like you might do for a child. Come and ask me on December 17th…
3- Being at the top of the bill is a fulfilment for DJs and producers, so what’s making you dream now? Do you still have more ambitious projects you’d like to get on with, or places you wish you could play at?
With your first question you insinuate I am at the top – but believe me I am very far from there! I’ve been dreaming about living from my passion all my life, it can through DJing, producing, scoring, etc… Whatever it is as long as it’s related to music – but it can’t be “pushed” – it has to remain a passion, not something that is forced or unnatural.
4- Let’s move to your Traumer alias. Your sound moved to the minimal side of things with Gettraum, even if we can still recognize your touch. I was wondering what led to this change: how did you fall for the microhouse sound, so to speak? Is it something you were already digging in the past? Was there a moment that clicked with you?
That’s true, my sound has recently moved a bit but I guess it always did and it will always do.
This is how I am, I like to discover new things, even if I’m not “using” this new thing in my music. Let me explain: with the micro-minimal-house sound, I was listening that stuff for a while, way before producing or even playing it. I was introduced to this music through the big names first: the label [a:rpia:r], and everything around Raresh, Rhadoo and Petre – and naturally, when you’re digging for something, you progressively get deeper and deeper into the genre. I was just getting into something which was new for me at some point - and like every new thing I get into, if I decide to “try something with it”, to focus my music on it, the move will be made only once I think I can do it, because I believe at some point I know the minimum that’s required to get started with.
5- By the way, why did you decide to create your own outlet for these releases? Is it going to stay dedicated to Traumer or would you consider opening it up?
I was pretty sure that the established labels who focus on this style of music would not release my music, because of my “past” or because the music itself would not be 100% suitable. The only way I thought I could initiate this change of style was to control the platform which would showcase this new “me”. Also, creating a new label - especially when it’s your first one – may ‘intrigue’ the scene a little bit, that way you might get some attention.
6- Is it a sound you deliberately tried to pursue, or did you spontaneously start producing more minimal tracks? I was talking about new projects or dreams, was tackling a new style a way to challenge yourself in a sense?
For sure, I did try to pursue this sound – I wanted to for a while – it just took me time to work on it, ‘backstage’ you know. I like to challenge myself yes, I do it every day actually (I’ve got eight monikers at least for eight different kinds/variations of music). That’s what keeps me inspired – I never get bored of something, as I’ll move to another style before that can happen. It works for me.
7- The French microhouse scene these days is really healthy — new festivals, labels, artists… Where are you based when you’re not touring? Do you manage to find the time to party and stay aware of what’s going on in the scene? Are there crews, labels, newcomers or old-timers, clubs, that you’d like to give a shout out to? Basically, do you have recommendations for MEOKO readers who’d like to find out more about the French scene?
I’m based in Paris. Time to time I manage to find some space to go clubbing – mostly during the week – but not anymore like I used to (my favorite sober-observation party was Concrete on Sunday afternoon btw) – Now I keep my “ears in the game” through different social media groups (not only FB). To name just one, not because they are friends ;but also because they are simply very good, too: Beau Mot Plage; Check them out.
To be honest I’m not as much into the details of the local scene as I was few years ago – it’s very difficult to stay 100% connected when you (have to) do too many things – even if I’m making a lot of effort to do the maximum possible by waking up at 4/5.00am during the week. All the (very basic, I’m sorry) recommendations I can give to find out more about the French scene could be :
- Check that Beau Mot Plage group on Facebook – which is also a DJ Crew/Label.
- Check artists (you know probably most of them) such as : Lowris, Varhat, Cabanne, Nunes, Loop Exposure, Hoser, Schaa,… I must have forgotten a lot but I’m not good at lists.
8- I feel like a defining features of all your works, regardless of aliases, are your drums. Can you talk about their importance? How would you define your sound, actually? Do you see similarities between your aliases? Do you have some habits when you’re producing?
Damn! I do love your questions (and observations) but it’s more like inception of inception ahah – so many question in one!
Yes I do love drums and percussions – that’s probably the most important aspect of a track for me. I’m not super comfortable with the idea of defining my own music – I don’t know. I guess there are a few similarities sometimes, first I’m producing with the same set up for most of them so obviously, the core sound can be a little bit similar.
I’m pretty sure I have some habits, but probably I don’t notice all of them myself, because they are habits, which are often unconscious ;but I can say I like to build up a soundscape, an ambiance before everything. Not a beat, not a melody – something (which can be atonal sometimes) that will help me to bring all the elements around. This is like “the soul” of the track, you can’t see/hear it but still it’s the essence of the music. After that, I build up the drums, sometimes to the final state – and then I can work on synths, if necessary.
9- In addition to touring all the freaking time, you’re not lazy on the production side of things either! Do you have upcoming releases on your label or others’? In general, what’s coming for Traumer in 2018?
- I did a remix for David K’s Tone Series project – which just has been released few weeks ago.
- Our collaboration with Lazare Hoche, on his imprint, just dropped as well.
- A three tracker on All Inn, called “Mezon”, should be release mid-December.
- Late February should (could) see Gettraum 5 coming out.
- We will release our second EP with DJ Deep as Deep Traum.
- In April will be released our collaboration with Point G on the London based label : Infuse.
There are many other things on the way as well, with my other monikers but also with Traumer.
10- You’ve been involved in many collaborations. What’s different when you produce on your own and with others? Can you talk about your partners, especially DJ Deep and your Skryptöm mates? DJ Deep in particular has always been a multifaceted producer, do you think he instilled that in you? You’ve also got an upcoming release with Lazare Hoche, how did that come about?
Working with another person is not so easy – everything is about ‘balance’. The relationship in the creative / technical process has to be balanced. For example, it can not work if you have two people who both have a strong attitude and who want to control everything. You take sometimes and you give sometimes. The working relationship has to be balanced.
That’s mainly the difference between working alone or with others : alone you’re balancing yourself. I’ve always been a multifaceted guy, a schizophrenic guy (in a good way). When I started to produce I loved making remixes of Marilyn Manson while trying to reproduce Bodzin’s synth modulation. Anyway – yes we’ve got a release together on his label, I’m really happy about the process that led to this release, everything went super fast – which is not usually the case. Charlie sent me a beat with an Ableton arrangement – like this : “hey, check this out”. I liked the very spontaneous way of doing it – I did my edits, add a chord synth. He did it again with another idea – which was super rich, so I could have two different perspectives with all the elements he gave me. And there we were, we had three tracks.
11- Speaking of him, he’ll be playing B2B with Djebali for Unleash on the 15th, and Apollonia and Mathew Jonson are there too. I guess you’re pretty used to share the bill with the cream of the crop by now, but what do you think of this line-up? Are you excited to return to London? What can we expect from you?
Hehe you know what? I’m absolutely not used to sharing the bill with those guys. In fact it will be the second time I’ll be playing with those names. For sure I’m really excited to be back in London with the crew and especially to play for Unleash for the first time – as I have heard so much about this party, in a good way of course – so yeah, I’m looking really, really forward to spinning there. I don’t know what you can expect, but I hope it will be good enough to satisfy your expectations!
- Published on Thursday, 09 November 2017 00:21
A bright and shining artist - Lamache! French fella, from Toulouse, is now a part of the Berlin scene. His name is not new to the scene and you can find him performing alongside biggest names all around the world. His label discobar is still young, but already hosting showcases in Europe and beyond representing a talented group of artists such as Odd Soul, The Mole, Toba, Ark, Zendid, Alex & Digby, Robin Ordell. His influences from French house, minimal and techno can be felt through out his dj sets and productions. By travelling, he has gained an enormous amount of experience which helped him become a versatile dj who will make sure you will have the night to remember.
1.Pleasure to have you on board with us today! You have been on our radar for a while now. How are you doing?
Hello there, I am very well thank you. Listening to some music and chilling with the cats at home before the weekend starts.
2.House scene and dance music in general is a big deal in France. You don’t have to really dig to find good parties around, but as originally coming from Toulouse how do you think its scene shaped your sound?
When I started getting into this type music , the south played a big part in its influence in France, with some serious clubs popping up in Toulouse, Montpellier, Aix to name a few… I remember traveling all the way to Montpellier for a night to see some of my favorite artists, which inspired me a lot to carry on doing what I am doing today.
Nowadays the south isn't like that anymore, some clubs closed, the others took a different music direction that doesn’t interest me anymore. Paris on the other hand is on fire clubbing wise - every weekend, the clubs are full and the line ups competitive.
3.What was the situation or a party that made you think – “alright, I love this and I want to be part of it?”
Playing records in my bedroom was already something magic for me, but the day I started playing in bars and clubs, it was so natural to feel the people, and vibe with them; I loved it instantly. I remember the day when I saw Ricardo Villalobos playing at Razzmatazz in Barcelona, everything made sense. This journey he took us on was really special to me, it was just what my ears and body wanted to feel. That day, the whole room was connected, I will remember that forever. For me, this is what music is all about.
4.What were your favourite parties and places to go in Tolouse and France in general? Any secret record shops you would recommend?
Ufff, this is not an easy question… To start with Toulouse, my favorite places were “Beaucoup” (now closed), which was my first residency. It was this small bar/club where some underground magic was happening in the basement every weekend. This is where I taught myself to play on decks. Then later on, the go-to place was “La Couleur de la Culotte” where I played regularly with one of my best friends - we had some amazing nights there. I remember playing with Nina Kraviz there at the beginning of her career. Then onto Paris and my student life (ahah), I can’t really say one or two places because I had so much fun everywhere, but definitely REX CLUB, CONCRETE and BADABOOM are my favorite places nowadays…not forgetting crews like Crazyjack who invited me many times in different places all over the city.
Record Shops wise, I spent a lot of time at Techno Import back in the days… I used to find some amazing stuff that I still play. The owner was super nice and he was always helping you out not like some of those music snobs you can bump into these days. Synchrophone was also a big thing when I was living in Bastille.
5.As far as we know you love adventure and you been travelling a fair amount. What made you to decide to have London as your first stop? Were you scared before moving in?
I’ve always listened to my feelings and this instinct that I have inside me. When I moved from Toulouse to Paris, it’s because I was done with the city as it wasn’t inspiring me anymore. I wanted to learn more and discover everything that we didn’t have or couldn’t have there. I went on to study in Paris and that was 5 amazing years.
But then again, the feeling of ‘the grass is always greener’ came back to me. I went to play in London for Toi Toi Musik, those guys that I met once in an after party in Paris. It was amazing, and again something new, something more underground, in a city where the boundaries were beyond what I knew in Paris. It was a natural move for me to go there music wise, it was like a calling from London and I just embraced it.
I had 4 crazy years with Toi Toi Musik. London taught me a lot: meeting new people, discovering a new culture, the basements, the rain, the hard life because of the lifestyle in the city, the love, the break up, the anxiety and finally, the creation of my label “ Discobar”… many things happened there.. for better and for worse. Nowadays I’m based in Berlin and who knows where I’ll be tomorrow…
6. You did not take long to settle well in London. You became a part of amazing Toi Toi Musik collective, how did that happen? What’s the biggest memory you have with them? Any crazy moments?
Toi Toi Musik was always natural from the first day we met and we became close really fast. Basically Claus and Isis were in Paris for a weekend and they saw me playing for an after party. I was the only person playing records in that boat that morning. The records were jumping a lot due to the moving water below but I didn’t care, the vibe was great and I think that they liked that moment a lot. They invited me to play in their party in London, I will always remember this first gig alongside Delano Smith, Le loup and Voigtmann. Everything felt good again, we had so much fun so they invited me again a few weeks later and this was even better, I even remember my set… So when I decided to move to London, they asked me to get more involved into their project and invited me to be a resident with Jan Krueger, Daze Maxim and Voigtmann.
The next event I did the warm up for was the party for ZIP with Claus - I couldn’t believe it. I have so many good memories from this period that I can’t tell you which one was the best.
But if you want to know a funny one, it was that day when we invited Marc Schneider to play in one of those dodgy basements in Hackney. That day the party was so good and hot that a part of the ceiling fell apart right behind the DJ booth near Marc’s record bag. He was a bit shocked but I assured him that in London we say that when the party is good, even the walls sweat!
7.Your last venture is Berlin. How do you find it’s scene? Did you had the idea moving in before, or something happened that you made such a decision?
Berlin was a new page, a new chapter and time to learn a new culture and history. I’d never thought about moving to Berlin before this, I was never attracted by it to be honest, but this city is different than others, the life style is very different, noticeably slower than what I’m used to.
When you’ve lived in cities like Paris or London, Berlin teaches you how to breathe, and this was the best thing that could happen for my health.
It made so much sense for me to move here because all my friends I work with are based here. Also, my career took a step forward so I really wanted to spend all my time working with music, which I couldn’t afford to do in London. Berlin gave me this ability to focus 110% on my things, my label, my music and the studio.
8.Talking about Discobar, how is your imprint doing? Loving this name! What made you come up with a label? What were the ideas behind it?
Discobar is doing very well, I am very happy about it and what we have been accomplishing with it. The name came from a joke that we had with a friend and basically Discobar in Belgium is a DJ booth. So very simply this became the name of the label.
I always wanted to create something were I could grow my own family and friends. I really believe that music needs to be shared (in the good way) and I am also a person that believes in team work. Getting together is a beginning, staying together is very good but working together is a success.
The only concept for the label was music that we like from people that we respect and inspire us.
9.Thank you! Amazing stuff. Do you have some exciting new releases or dates to announce?
This year many things are coming actually, I want to release a lot of interesting new stuff on Discobar.
The Part 2 of Darren Allen debut on Discobar is coming out in January and I am very happy about it, I love it. Then a new EP of Zendid is coming with a great remixer that I am a big fan of.
And more to come for the 3rd birthday of the label…
10.What would be your number one tip for upcoming artists or people who want to start a label?
I would say, don’t try too hard, take your time, listen to a lot of different music, don’t follow the trends, do what you like and stick to it. If you believe in what you do, it will pay off at some point. And if you start a new label vinyl only like everybody wants to do, support the movement and buy vinyls! & Thank you for having me! It was a nice talk.
Thank you again, Lamache, for having us. Can’t wait to see you spin the records again at Half Baked 8th Birthday!
More Lamache; Facebook
- Published on Tuesday, 31 October 2017 19:23
We are back with The Under The MEOKO Microscope feature alongside a very exciting name – Clovis. Born in Los Angeles, now venturing Berlin and Europe’s scene won our hearts with his deep and hypnotizing grooves. His wide sound variety expands into deep explorations of the tones, forms with soulful elements and complex patterns making sure to move the peak-time dancefloor to the max. His hardwork and tirelessly spent hours in studio bagged him a lovely catalogue of labels such as Lessizmore and Body Parts. Being a resident at Berlin’s Club der Visionaire as well as Los Angeles’s Standard Rooftop gives you an image that his sound is going to places. Clovis can be seen playing alongside big names as Rhadoo, Petre Inspirescu, Magda to name a few and debuted in one of the biggest festivals in Europe – Sunwaves. We caught up with this talent in an interview, so let’s get into this and check his exclusive MEOKO mix.
1.Hey Clovis, thanks for taking time for us. Was really looking forward to this. How did you get into this music and what influenced you most throughout your musical journey so far?
By far the main musical influence in my life was my father. He was a music aficionado his whole life, and when I was growing up there was music playing at home during almost all waking hours. He liked a huge range of music, though he was most knowledgable and deep into jazz. He would always be playing something to fit the mood or the time of day, which taught me very early on that music can accompany you through almost any situation in life and enhance the mood or experience. There is appropriate music for the full spectrum of human emotions and something for almost any moment. So, in the mornings with breakfast, usually classical works or even church choir. Afternoons were freestyle...rock, alternative, jazz, peruvian or andean music,...anything. A rainy day could be married to some solo piano or Philip Glass. When I first moved out to live with different family for a year I was surprised and confused that music was something they only occasionally listened to on weekends, or only in the car. Though I do love quiet at times, it still feels to me that a day spent without listening to music for most of it is somewhat of a waste.
As far as dance music is concerned, I slowly began to gravitate towards more electronic sounds in the early teenage years, via Massive Attack, The Prodigy, Moby, the usual late 90s suspects, and then began to discover DJing and club music, progressive trance, house, and the journey of exploration has continued for more than 15 years to where I am now. I started to DJ when I was 20, in my bedroom in Los Angeles, while going out to see Sasha & Digweed or Danny Howells with a fake ID. (you have to be 21 to go to nightclubs in the USA). I don't remember exactly when I decided I wanted to try and earn a living from it, I keep doing it because it's fun and the exploration of music never ends.
2.As being a Los Angelian, how it’s scene shaped your music? Tell as more about it’s underground scene, clubs, records shops, parties.
The scene in Los Angeles was rather exciting when I became a part of it in the late 2000's. It seemed like it had continuous potential to grow and flourish. Some good friends launched a label, Culprit, and we had some great intimate rooftop parties at the famous Standard hotel in LA where we invited a lot of great international guests, and had wild after parties which allowed me to DJ long sets in more intimate settings, often b2b with the guests we would invite. But with the economic crash of 2008 things changed somewhat, and this seemed to coincide with my own evolution towards music I was hearing in Europe and less in the USA. Around 2008 I heard a Rhadoo record for the first time and became interested in the Romanian scene, little by little. They still did not play in the US so much except a few small appearances on the east coast. I travelled all the way to New York once in 2011 to hear Petre Inspirescu do an open to close set in a loft in Brooklyn, which I still remember clearly. I knew this was the style and approach to dance music I loved the most. I began to order records from Europe to Los Angeles because a lot of the music I wanted to play was vinyl only and not carried by the few local record stores in LA. Everything I wanted had to be ordered from european shops or discogs. I never had the usual record store experience where the shop owner understands your taste and can suggest things, I'm super happy that I now have this in Berlin with black.round.twelve!
I think the best impact that coming up through the dance music scene in Los Angeles had on me was to give me a broader appreciation of dance music. We have quite good disco house and techno scenes, and I used to go see DJ Harvey's famed Sarcastic Disco nights in which he played open to close by himself which were extremely educating and also probably the most fun nights I had in a warehouse in LA. With Culprit we invited a range of artists for smaller, more intimate parties. Losoul, Craig Richards, Shaun Reeves, Dyed Soundorom, all played an important part in informing my taste and DJing in the earlier years.
3.You were travelling in Europe for a while. How was the experience in comparison with Los Angeles? What was the most exciting/craziest moment, people you met?
I have been traveling and living in Europe on and off since 2012. I spent 7 months in Berlin one year, did 3 months of summer in Ibiza two years ago, and now finally after so many long back and forth trips to Los Angeles I decided in February of this year to move permanently to Berlin. Most of my best friends live here, most of my musical connections are here, and I cherish the strong feeling of community I have with all the people I love here, mostly based around Club Der Visionaere, which is definitely my musical home in Berlin.
The parties you can experience here in Europe are unlike anything possible in Los Angeles, simply because of the restrictions we have to deal with in the US. I have had many special nights in Los Angeles, and some of my favorite party characters and friends live there, but there is simply a much higher degree of freedom in the night life in Europe and the party culture is much more advanced because of it.
4.You have shaped a really original sound, do you have any plans on making your own imprint as a label?
It has become kind of cliche now for everyone to have a label...there are so many new ones popping up in the shops every week, it's amazing. I would eventually like to start my own imprint, if nothing else for the freedom it brings to release whatever you really like, and those beautiful gems from certain friends that have not found a home. Right now I have no plans to do so and lack the financial means to start anyway. At the moment I'd like to concentrate more on making my own music and studio collaborations with friends.
5.Seen you play alongside some great names as Ryan Crosson, Rhadoo, Fuse guys. How did you guys meet?
After close to 10 years in this music with a bit of travel, an open mind, and (what I think is) a good sense of humor you can meet a lot of people and make some amazing friendships. I think it is actually one of the things I love most about DJing and music: the interesting and great people you meet along the way and lasting friendships that come from that. I have known the visionquest crew since around 2008 when they came to play in Los Angeles. Shaun Reeves, Ryan Crosson and I have now played a few times together at Club Der Visionaere and this always entails a few long b2b sessions, and since we've known each other for so long those are always welcome.
Meeting Rhadoo was a fluke occurrence while in Mexico for BPM festival in 2013. I was opening a very big stage around 10 in the morning for just the bar staff at a beach club, and he came with a few friends and asked if we could play some music together so we had our own little party for just us. I'm not sure why this happened but this moment changed the course of my life as I decided from then to follow more intensely the music I really love and push myself deeper into the craft. This also led to an invitation to play at Sunwaves which opened all kinds of new doors and opportunities for me in Europe.
6.You were playing during sunwaves festival this year. How was the experience? Was it the first time you performed there? Would you come back again?
The first time I performed at Sunwaves in 2013 I had no idea what it was really, apart from seeing a few short video clips on youtube and listening to a few sets. I was completely unprepared for what I stepped into, the party is intense and does not stop! It requires serious stamina and a bit of planning and calculated decision making to enjoy fully. It was a very eye opening experience for me the first time and I witnessed some magic moments. It was also probably the most nervous I was to play anywhere in my life. Happily, since then I have gained much more experience and confidence in those situations, and coming back to play this year after enjoying last year's edition was so much fun. Of course, still a bit nervous before playing, but if you can relax and focus on just DJing and the decks you have in front of you everything is fine in the end, and I was able to do that and really enjoyed it. I am so grateful for the invitation, and to play on that beautiful beach front stage on the opening night was very special. I will definitely be back for each may edition, because it's one of the best places to hear many of my favorites.
7.You seem to be working really closely to lessizmore and body parts labels. What triggered this relationship?
As usual, a consequence of making good friends who like your taste. I have never released a full EP of my own, and so remixes and single tracks on compilations have been my main output over the years, and both lessizmore and bodyparts were always interested in some of my music. I met Jessica from lessizmore in Mexico in 2012 and we have had a long friendship since then with many fun party adventures, and playing quite a few showcases for the label. I met Denis from BodyParts at my first sunwaves in 2013, and after a great time in Moscow at the old Arma together, another great friendship was born. I have many friends running cool labels and asking me for music, so now I just need to make more!
8.You obviously spend a lot of time in studio crafting your sound. Talk us through your favorite gear. What is your opinion on never ending discussion between analog vs digital?
Actually, I have not had my own studio in years, I have always had to rely on using spaces of friends and whatever gear they would have at the time. I use ableton live for almost everything, and though I have some favorite plugins, namely Trillian for bass, and a variety of reverbs and effects, I strongly prefer to source sounds from analog gear. I don't really care about the analog vs. digital debate because I have always been of the opinion that ideas and creativity are more important. However, to me it's a lot more fun to use actual stand-alone electronic instruments in the studio than do everything on a computer, and analog machines can have very unique characters that simply can't be replicated. Two synths I used a lot when I was working in Los Angeles were the Moog Voyager and Roland's classic and simple Juno-106. I also spend a lot of time working with samples. I have an extensive library of jazz and classical music recordings that I got from going through my father's massive CD collection. Almost all my tracks contain samples from acoustic music, but mostly used in ways that would make them indistinguishable from their original form, and many tracks contain samples from 5-6 completely different sources, working together. In absence of having a full studio with acoustic instruments and musicians to play them, I find this is my favorite way to bring some of that color and texture to the music I make, and also makes for happy accidents as you go along.
9.Aside DJ things, give us few highlights of the year, your favorite clubs and artists you enjoyed the most.
I had some great adventures in Romania this year, Sunwaves, playing at Guesthouse in Bucharest, and the wonderful 3 Smoked Olives festival down on the Danube in the summer. Two other parties stood out most for me. In Los Angeles, my friends at Cyclone, almost out of nowhere, began bringing some of my favorite DJs to LA and pushing the sound that I enjoy. For the first time in years I found myself able to comfortably play exactly what I wanted when doing opening sets for some of my favorite DJs, and people more receptive to this style than ever before. Cyclone has curated a great list of artists that were strangers to LA before, last year we had Rhadoo, Pedro, Nu Zau & Sepp, and this year we've seen a bunch of diverse names, among them Stefan Goldmann, Lamache, DJ Masda, Leo Leal, and Akufen. In February Herodot & Gescu visited us in LA also for Cyclone, and it was one of my favorite parties I've played in the city so far. It was also really fun to host artists that I really respect and are good friends and show them around my home city.
The second party I felt an instant bond with is in Prague, for my friends at Wildt. After over a month touring in the US and dealing with all the issues and different rules we face in America to have parties, like the overzealous and constantly intrusive security in clubs, I was excited to go back to Europe and feel free to have fun, to dance and enjoy music as long as I wanted to, and most of all be silly, and laugh and have fun in unconventional ways. Wildt is a small bar with a beautiful green, tree covered backyard patio in the center of Prague, owned and operated by some of my best friends. It is also bringing a bit different music to a city that isn't quite used to it yet, but with a strong group of friends and local DJs to support it. These kinds of new scenes surfacing are always fun and exciting! In July I played there with my good friend Audio Werner and we had a great time. Recently they hosted TC80, and also Timur Basha from Closer in Kiev. I am fully supportive of this lovely place and I will be some kind of resident next year most likely. Already planning another visit in November, each time is too much fun!
10.Thank you very much for creating mix for us. Top notch. How do prepare for a mix series? What’s your inspiration and ideas behind it?
For this mix, I was trying to record something for over a month in the summer during my tour in the USA. At each stop where someone had a nice DJ setup I would give it a try. I had only picked out the first two tracks, and from there each mix was kind of a different adventure, which is what I usually do. I don't like making studio DJ sets on the computer at all and I can't really plan beyond a couple tracks what I feel like playing, it's more interesting to just follow how you feel and your intuition. In the end I came home to Berlin and wasn't really happy with any of the recordings I made, but after further consideration, this mix, recorded at my lovely friend Paulo's place in San Diego on a cloudy afternoon, actually seems like a very good representation of my DJing right now. It goes from a bit more minimal, deeper sounds, to more house and breakbeats. A good encapsulation, in around an hour, of the music I'm playing these days. After testing it out in some chill afterparties with friends, I decided I could use it for Meoko. I'm glad you enjoyed it and hope others will too!
11.All in all, thank you for your time. Any last words for fans about exciting new releases, collaborations or dates you would like to share?
My Cyclone friends in LA are starting a vinyl label, (they already have one called KNIFE), it will be called Cyclone to go with the party series. The project has been in the works for a while but hopefully it will be up and running soon, and I believe I will be the 2nd release with my own EP. I also have some new podcasts to do, after a year with very few, one for Fasten Musique in Japan and one for my Bodyparts friends. It's difficult to find good places to record as I don't have my own setup and I'm still trying to find somewhere comfortable in Berlin. I have some nice dates coming up, Mioritmic Festival in Cluj October 5th-7th, Moscow at Rodnya on October 14th. Berlin with Round The Corner at Katerblau on Sunday the 15th. Then in early November, it will be lovely to return to Guesthouse in Bucharest! And as usual...I will continue my TrackOfTheDay routine on my facebook page where I share stuff I'm playing and enjoying, new and old. People seem to enjoy it a lot and I am always happy to share music I like in whatever way possible, that's what music is for!
Again thank you so much!
Thank you Meoko for documenting our dear little music scene!
Words by Matas Balta
Press shots by Marie Streikt & Karim Rosati
'I’m just representing my tastes, the records and recent finds that I’m digging; so it was pretty simple for me.' Alix Alvarez Mix & Interview
- Published on Friday, 20 October 2017 12:08
New York City is a city rich in electronic music culture. Clubs like The Palladium, Limelight and Studio54 are proof of the fact, and despite the fact that all three are now gone, the scene in the city is as healthy as ever. Clubs such as Output are very much indicative of the fact, while DJs such as The Martinez Brothers continue to represent the city with assurance. Aside from the superstars though, there’s a healthy underground too, and it’s here where Alix Alvarez comes into play. The Queens native has produced music for some of house music’s biggest labels, with Dessous, Ovum, Innervisions and Rebirth among those who’s hosted his music. Alix recently contributed to Okain’s Talman Records label, as part of the Frenchman’s well-received Retro Future Chapter One’ release. His track, “No Chaser” was arguably the highlight of the package too, and with all this in mind we decided to catch up with him for a quick chat. He also supplied a mix for us too, which you’re sure to love. Without further ado, Mr. Alix Alvarez…
Hi Alix, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Lets start by going back a bit. You grew up in NYC. How influential was the city on your musical tastes?
Growing up in NYC had a huge impact on my tastes. I was exposed to so much music at an early age. When I first started DJing I was buying Hip Hop, House & Techno because all of this music was getting played on the radio in NY all at the same time. By the time I started clubbing I started seeing how diverse and open minded the crowds were. You could go to different venues and hear different styles in one night. I was fortunate to come up on some iconic Dj’s in NY and theres a style which has stayed with me to this day when Im either in the studio or Im in the dj booth.
I’ve read conflicting reports about the scene in NYC right now. On the one hand, it looks healthy – there are loads of nights on. On the other, I’m being told that the bigger clubs are swallowing up the smaller promoters. Where do you stand on this?
There was a time where the NY scene seemed like it hit a dead end. A lot of it had to do with stupid outdated laws and areas where clubs once were started to get turned into condos. But NY slowly started to make a resurgence. A lot of it was in Brooklyn where a lot of dope parties & venues started popping up. Some of the best nights are happening in NY now. I try and support my friends’ events when I can and there’s definitely always good crowds attending them.
And are you still based in NYC? Would you ever consider moving to Europe?
Yes I live in Queens NY. I considered moving to Paris a long time ago. Then it was Barcelona. More recently it was Berlin. I moved to LA for about 5 years, which was great. As far as living in Europe it hasn’t happened yet but who knows.
When did you first come to Europe to play music? How do you feel it differs from playing in the US?
I started coming to Europe to play around 2004. There’s always been more support for the music there. Europe has so many options. In the US you’re hard pressed to find good venues in most cities. The main places to play in the US are NY, Chicago, LA, SF & Miami and you have a handful of good venues at that. Europe has more cities with venues and festivals that support the music.
What do you see as the future of electronic music? And do you think EDM has affected the underground in the US at all?
The mainstream EDM stuff doesn’t affect what goes on in the underground. I think the majority of people in the underground don’t pay attention to what goes on in that world of music. Out of sight out of mind.
You’re part of a recent VA on Okain’s Talman Records. How do you know Sam and what is it about his sound and style that made you thought it’d be a good place for your music?
I met Sammy (Okain) about 6 years ago at an Ovum party I played at ADE. We kept in touch since then via social media so we’ve been cool for a while. He approached me with the idea to be apart of the VA last year and included other friends (Paolo Rocco & Steven aintleaven) so I was glad to be apart of it.
Thanks for the mix by the way! What were you trying to convey with this mix? Or was it more a case of picking tracks as you go?
I’m just representing my tastes, the records and recent finds that I’m digging; so it was pretty simple for me.
Do you plan your sets then? Do you sees parallels between how you DJ and produce?
I never plan my sets. I have an idea about what I’m going to play but I just feel it out as far as what direction to go. I could get into many different moods during my set depending on where I’m playing. There are definite parallels to producing & Djing. It really comes down to style & taste. I make choices selecting music during a set almost the same way I make choices about what sounds to use in the studio.
What’s next for you that’s keeping you excited?
Im always searching for music or sounds to inspire me. It never ends. Theres a lot of great music out there. I’ve been doing this a while now but I always feel like I’m still learning & growing as I continue and that’s exciting for me.
P.S.:Alix Alvarez’s “No Chaser” is out now as part of ;Retro Future Chapter One’ on Okain’s Talman Records label
Words by Zac
'Finding weird or slightly unusual samples is really exciting when incorporating them into your own music.' Bearface Interview & Mix
- Published on Friday, 13 October 2017 08:44
London is stuffed to the brim with incredible producers, so sticking out from the crowd in the capital can make for a daunting task. One man who evidently has what it takes to do so is emerging producer, Bearface. Though he’s been around for some time, it’s his recent endeavours that look set to elevate him further up the house music ladder, with his productions on his own Beartone label already perking the ears of some of the scene’s most revered names. We caught up with the man in question as he talked us through the mix he did for us, the influence Ibiza has had on his music and the unusual samples that often turn up in his records…
I wanted to start by talking about your home city of London’s music life. How do you think the city’s music scene has changed over the last while? Do you still love it or do you feel disconnected from it?
I’m a born and bred Bristolian and moved to London for my degree. During my latter school years I played percussion in clubs alongside DJs who would play house music. London has always inspired me musically. There is a vibrant scene here for most genres. Pick any night and you will find a good fit. Some of the best clubs in the world are here. Also a noisy city, full of sounds that can get stuck in your head like the planes overhead, bus engines churning and even the crazy birds that seem to never sleep.
So going back a bit, when did you first start producing music? Was there one moment or person who really inspired you to get in to the studio?
My first successful foray into house music was in 2004. I co-produced a track with friend and long term collaborator Dj Max Mistry with whom I shared a love of US style house music. We released our first track ‘Bare Brass’ on vinyl. It sold out pretty quick and went on to be licensed by Roger Sanchez’s Stealth records and featured on numerous labels. Defected and Vendetta records were a couple that really pushed our music.I suppose I first got my hands on midi gear while doing GCSE music in Bristol. The school music department purchased a load of gear including drum machines and hardware sequencers and I tried to emulate the music we called ‘bleep bleep music’ such as early minimal house acts like Altern 8.
We noticed some of your records have some unusual samples in, not least Bollywood sampled. Where do you source these samples?
Yea, I think samples can add a certain flavour to tracks, much like adding dry spice to food or stock from the shelf, pre made loveliness. Finding weird or slightly unusual samples is really exciting when incorporating them into your own music. Having Indian parents gave me access to some old, crusty sounding vinyl of Bollywood soundtracks of the 70’s. So occasionally I will chop them up in the MPC.
Are they obscure to the point where you don’t worry about licensing issue?
Most of the time I tend to add just a smidgen of vocal or chords and manipulate it to fit the track so it’s not so easy to detect the origin of the sample. I also use my own vocal or sound source and it will sound like a sample.
You even gained inspiration from an Ibiza supermarket on your track, ‘Supermercado’. What do you find so inspiring about Ibiza supermarkets?!
On one visit I spent more time at in the ‘Supermercado’ than any club or parties in Ibiza. Mainly to get provisions for my pregnant wife. It was always lively and provided me with loads of cheap entertainment - in contrast to a lot of the clubs which were over glamorous and not really about the music.
Another track of yours is called ‘Dalt Vila’. I gather Ibiza is a place that’s proved pretty influential for you over the years?
Yea - it is a good place to hear dance music for obvious reasons.The track ‘Dalt Vila’ is me imagining how dance music could sound if the monks from the monastery had been involved.
So tell us a bit about the label, Beartone. What made you start it and how’s it been going so far?
I initially setup the label as a place I could release music digitally. This was a response to diminishing vinyl sales from 2008.I am now releasing vinyl again on my third EP under my alias, Beartone.
Clever artwork seems a hallmark of every release. Is that something you’re conscious of? And why did you settle on a bear for your alias and artwork?
I’m very lucky to know great visual artists who are willing to help with the Bearface artwork. My wife Kim-Leigh Pontin and the artist z. Zenobia are mainly responsible for the look of the label. I feel it gives the music more impact and meaning.
The San Jose EP marks a comeback of sorts for you after a while not releasing records. Why was now the right time to start releasing music again?
This is the third vinyl in the series. I have been putting out vinyl although not so much. The San Jose EP has a slightly more laid back feel to that of the more recent stuff.
Was there a general idea behind the tracks you were trying to convey? Is your production style generally reflective of your DJ style do you think?
Not really. I sequenced most of the track in my MPC 3000 drum machine to give a particular feel and swing to the music. My general aim is to have production that flows in a musical sense maybe this is also reflective of my DJ sets.
Can you tell us a bit about the mix that you’ve provided for us here?
It’s mainly new music from artists I’m digging at the moment, some music from my label and a few older pieces. In the sphere of house but really back into the tech minimal sound that I started to produce in 2008.
What’s next for you?
I’m addicted to my studio so I definitely will be cooking up tunes for as long as I can. I live to travel, meet people, play and perform music so if I can do these things as much as possible that would be great.
P.S.: Bearface’s San Jose EP is out now on Beartone Records
Words by Zac