Who are 'Where We Met'? MEOKO Discovers the Forward-thinking Sound Which is Reshaping Underground House and Techno, infusing it with Break-beat and Electro
- Published on Thursday, 17 January 2019 10:36
Since 2017, Re-UP and Riccardo Piazza teamed up on a new project, forming the Venice based record label Where We Met. Distancing itself from the old minimal tech background that distinguished Re-UP, the multi-faced project is not only a ‘traditional' record label, but also an independent DJ act, as well as a promoter entity. More importantly, WWM is pushing a forward-thinking sound which is reshaping current underground house and techno, infusing it with break-beat and electro.
The name Where We Met celebrates a specific moment in which the three of us had a mind-blowing experience all together, surrounded by inspiring music and funny scenes. Sunwaves 14 is Where We Met and that's also the story behind the name. Zip's magical 5 hours set and the unforgettable Ricardo Villalobos set in the middle of a storm were both essential for understanding that we were feeling the same energy , and from there our friendship has been growing with mutual respect and with the security that we share certain human values which are at the core of the WWM project.
That’s why Re-UP suddenly decided to invite Ricky to that dinner. As soon as the meeting started, things flowed naturally. Omar already had the name in mind, 'Where We First Met', so we just shortened it and here we are, ready to go!
- Published on Thursday, 27 December 2018 22:48
There is really no need for introduction when it comes to the unstoppable fun trio that is Wareika. For the past decade Florian Schirmacher, Henrik Raabe and Jakob Seidensticker have been at the forefront of electronic music, consistently developing and pushing their signature sound in every corner of the world with great success. Their finger work is finesse itself and has been universally appreciated, also and foremost by Visionquest, Perlon and all the labels they have charted on. Wareika are more a band that has fun experimenting with electronic music, but has a musical culture that goes well beyond it. Listen to any of their productions and you will discover atmospheres which refer to their own world and personalities.
From London’s iCAN Studios where I first met them 4 years ago, to Funkhaus in Berlin (for the 20 years celebration of Perlon), to London again at Ministry Of Sound and back to Panorama Bar in Berlin this August (for Get Perlonized) - I’ve been travelling between cities in order to get to know them better and witness them perform live. Trust me when I tell you this; I have rarely come across such masterful artists. However, I believe the main thing about them is that despite all their fame and success, despite all the collaborations and all the world class labels they have released their music on, despite everything that comes with it - these three individuals are genuine, humble and down to earth. Their love for music is fundamental, a sacred value that leaves no space for anything pretentious. To my eyes this is a rare quality, especially nowadays..!
As we say farewell to 2018 we had a proper catch up with Wareika in order to find out what they’ve been up to lately! In addition to the interview the trio teamed up with Meoko to deliver a “goodie bag” of exclusive audio & visual material for our readers, just in time for Christmas and New Year (well almost...)!
Afternoon mighty Wareika! It’s a great pleasure to welcome you back to Meoko! So, you guys toured South America recently for a duration of two weeks. How did it go?
Florian: We played in lovely Colombia and Mexico. Colombia is one one of our favourite countries. From the first time we were booked to perform there few years ago we fell in love with the people and their mood. Since then we go back regularly and always have a great time.
And what about Mexico? How was it there?
Jakob: It was a fantastic short trip to Papaya Playa Project in Tulum. This spot is like a paradise and at this time with not so many tourists. The dance floor is open air and just 30 meters from the sea. It was a full-moon Party with lots of people and we played very well. As our gigs are always different and not always perfect, I can say that it was a special one and we really want to go back asap, especially as it is fucking freezing here in Europe for the next months.
What do you think of the club scene in South America? Is it any similar compared to the club scene in Europe?
Henrik: It’s different for sure and it’s way smaller. The positive effect of this is that you have a very intimate feeling when you are clubbing there. Everybody knows each other. There is competition too but way less if you compare it with Berlin e.g.
You have travelled quite a lot these past years, is there any specific country that you would like to visit / perform and haven’t done so yet?
Florian: The electronic music scene is still young just like many countries in the world. For example Estonia had its hundredth birthday this year. Good reason to celebrate there. Cuba, Peru, Ethiopia, Ruanda, Armenia would also be interesting for me.
2018 marks 11 years (more or less) since the three of you formed the band. How has this journey been so far?
Henrik: First of all, AMAZING! It feels very special to share such an intense experience (like touring the world with your music) together with such good friends. I think I couldn’t do this on my own, like many DJs do it. I am so grateful to have... a BAND! Of course it is often not so easy, especially when you play mostly in smaller clubs, where even doing a proper soundcheck is nothing usual. Beside that, if you work together you have to find solutions together, you have to discuss things... It’s a family thing and that’s not always easy, but it is so beautiful!! From a musical perspective I could say, that none of us would have done what we could have done on our own. It has been possible because we did it together.
Did you expect back then that things will develop the way they have?
Jakob: When the three of us met about 10 years ago in Hamburg we had no idea of what was going to happen. We first experimented with different drums and percussions and recorded everything. The result was our debut single „Men Village“ on Connaisseur. Shortly after this release we met regularly in the studio of Henrik and mine. We were also trying out vocals with Florian for the first time. This mixture of different kinds of instruments and styles has probably brought us where we are today.
Henrik: Honestly, in the beginning all of us were really keen on making it out there and touring the planet. When that started to happen it was still very exciting, but also felt very natural in a way, because it was just what we wanted and what we worked very hard for. Everytime when we have the chance to go somewhere, and play our music for the people, it feels like part of the dream becoming reality, and that’s what life is worth living for, isn’t it?
If you could go back in time 11 years ago, what would be the one main advice you would give to yourselves?
Henrik: On a band level I have nothing to admit, we did exactly what we had to do together. Maybe for myself I could say that I started a bit late the process of going in depth with learning certain musical basics, so I still struggle to really play what I want to play, because I cannot play it yet. But I am on it!!!
On your set-up there is always some sort of little custom-made modular boxes that you build yourself Henrik. How do you do that? You’ve even built a custom-made lute, now that’s even more impressive! Do you find it easy building your own instruments? looks so difficult to me!
Henrik: Playing electronic music LIVE simply calls for very special needs in the field of instrumentation. You want to have lots of control about many musical as well as mixing aspects in real time. That led me to spend a lot of time experimenting with hundreds of different devices and their possible combinations, and even building things myself, because I could not find what I needed out there. But after all that process I have to say, that music comes first and foremost from your heart. We had some gigs where parts of the machinery decided not work with us, and we felt pretty naked on stage. But then we played the best music ever with very little technical stuff.
Back in February you released your 5th album “Water Sky Sun Wood” on Japanese imprint Mule Musiq. Could you give us a bit of an insight?
Jakob: We recorded a long session of about 1-2 hours at Henrik’s Studio in Bingen/Rhein (near Frankfurt). First I wanted to delete it because it had some crackle sounds in it but Florian insisted to keep it and this was a good idea.
Florian: Yes, I took the whole project to Berlin and worked on it for quite a long time. It was a bit like Chinese whispers, so Henrik got it back! (Henrik laughs)
Henrik: I took the whole Opus with more than 50 channels and bounced them in about 3-4 Stereo Channels and started to add new elements from zero. In the end I sent it to Jakob who speeded the track about 10 bpm up, added some more elements and did the mixdown. That was it! The album sounds like a 60min jam but it was lots of work (even though it was a 60min jam)! (Henrik laughs)
Also this year you have released many EP’s with the most recent being the Shamania EP on Sleep Is Commercial, expected out very soon. How did that come along?
Jakob: Not too sure how it happened, like I remember Henrik and I played together on his piano in his studio, the rhythm was so strange that we had no idea of how to loop it… in the end it was a 5/7 bar measure as far as I remember.
Henrik: Or was it 4/11??
Jakob: Maybe it was. Once we figured out what loop and bar measure it was we slowly started to build the structure around this first piano idea.
Henrik: Usually Jakob and Florian have strict ideas about what labels are suitable for our music but this time it was me that thought of Francesco Assenza from Sleep is Commercial. We have known each other for years and as you can see he was into it.
It’s not the first time we see Ricardo Villalobos remixing one of your tracks. This time he teamed up with Thomas Melchior and delivered two remixes. Whose idea was this?
Jakob: Mine (laughs).
Henrik: The guys from Sleep Is Commercial asked Thomas Melchior for one Remix. After a while the information came that he did two remixes together with Ricardo Villalobos. We don’t know what happened in between! :)
Do you have more releases coming out this year?
Florian: The year is almost finished, yet there are so many things coming up for Wareika it feels like spring-time. The Ricardo Villalobos & Thomas Melchior Remixes are for sure upfront and we are happy to release this double 12” as this was a process of about two years (to make this release with all the remixes happen).
A beautiful Remix will come out this month also: Its for our friend Sary called „Hear & Hakim Murphy - Motion Currents („Wareika’s Moon Aligned Remix“). Its a link between different worlds as well…
Jakob: The whole bunch of releases will come straight early 2019.
Is there anything particular you would like to see Wareika getting more into in the future?
Henrik: Taking over the groove from those machines. I love all kind of electronic music devices and my studio is full of them, but still I find the best grooves are played by humans, not by machines. Somehow we left the groove to the machines and sometimes we become slaves of the machines, without realizing it. Let’s free ourselves from that!
Last time I saw you perform live was back in August at Panorama Bar for Get Perlonized. That was an insane live set and the vibe was so special! From your perspective how does it feel when you perform there?
Jakob: Oh my god that one was fantastic! Everybody was sweating to the fullest, three o’clock in the morning it was still 34 or so degrees outside. So you can imagine the vibe inside. Insane. For me it was one of the best gigs we ever played! We also played about one hour longer. The people were just too hungry (laughs). Playing for Get Perlonized is always special though. It’s just a guarantee for a good party. Thanks to Tomo and Sammy for keeping it up for such a long time now!
I also remember the day I came across Florian randomly at Panorama Bar in January. How often do you go out clubbing?
Florian: I like to go out and experience new things! For example I also enjoy dancing to Salsa.
Jakob: I try to keep it low between the gigs, but it doesn’t always work as I like to visit my friends in clubs and dancing to good music. Henrik is rather in his family thing, less clubbing, more music production and making music with his refugee friends from Syria.
For someone who doesn’t live in Berlin what would be the top 3 places you’d recommend them visiting while in the city?
Florian: The Philharmonic Orchestra has a special sound. I also like the Teufelsberg, it’s such a cool venue and it has open doors for visitors. Also the Loop Gallery! It opens randomly but it is very special.
Jakob: For clubbing there are obviously way too many venues one could recommend. I like Club der Visionäre in summer best.
Henrik: For food there is also loads of good options. We often stay at Michelberger Hotel, Warschauerstraße when in Berlin. As I almost always ran out of time, I end up at the Haloumi place next door. That’s a good one too (laughs)!
As we speak of Berlin, Jakob when are you moving there (laughs)? Jokes aside this year you’ve been playing music in Berlin almost on a weekly basis, would you consider relocating or you’d rather stay in Hamburg?
Jakob: Yes! 2018 was intense. I was DJing as Jakob Seidensticker a lot besides our live gigs as Wareika and Silky Raven. I love Berlin but I also like to leave Berlin once the work is done (laughs). I love the city but it’s also too grey and dangerous for me. Coming back to Hamburg from all over the world has always given me a feeling of relief. I was born here and i will die here hopefully - (everybody laughing)!
What shall your fans expect from Wareika this coming year?
Jakob: As we are making music as Wareika for more than 10 years now, we are celebrating this with a huge collaborative double album with loads of brilliant musicians, friends and other inspiring people, such as Sonja Moonear, Maayan Nidam, Shonky, Radio Slave, Kalabrese, just to name a few...
That sounds brilliant! We’re definitely looking forward to that! Anything else you would like to share with the world before we wrap up?
Jakob: Merry Christmas! Enjoy the holidays with your loved ones. In case you don’t celebrate Christmas, just have a wine on me ;)
Henrik: See you somewhere on this lovely planet at the weirdest dance floors.
Thank you so much for your time and pressies Wareika! It’s been fantastic having you back! Merry Christmas from Meoko!
Words by Denny Kem
MEOKO Catches up with the Organisers of Epizode Festival after they complete their huge lineup with [A:RPIA:R], CRAIG RICHARDS, GUTI, PAN POT, PEGGY GOU, STEVE LAWLER, THOMAS MELCHIOR and many more
- Published on Sunday, 23 December 2018 13:08
Hello, and thanks for the invite :) Yes, organization of Epizod3 is challenging and sometimes unpredictable, but also rewarding in the same time. We’re creating something completely different in the region, a format new by it’s length, music, concept. Lineup that we’re presenting consists of many artists that never played in Asia, or they do it rarely. Some of them are playing music that people from the region are not that familiar with. So we have a big task: not just to locally promote a new sound and concept, but also to educate and hopefully, broaden horizons of the crowd. Also, we invest a lot into local community, showcase many regional acts. Underground scene is emerging, so does Epizod3 :) We see this relationship as a two-way street, and it’s exciting to be a part of one growing organism.
Circumstances in the region sometimes can be unstable and uncertain, indeed. Rules and laws are not the same as in Europe, neither the treatment of the big music events. Phu Quoc is a perfect place though, as it’s big island, well geographically located, prices are much lower than in Europe and USA and, needless to say - it’s stunningly beautiful. It has international airport and all important infrastructure, hotels, transportation, exotic food and friendly locals :) So far we’re happy to be having Phu Quoc as Epizode home.
Q2: The line-up of this year is astonishing. The festival will feature some legends such as Villalobos and Sonja Moonear, however I see some huge acts from different genres such as Goldie or Black Sun Empire. I think it’s great that you cover such a wide spectrum of quality dance music. What is the aim of your line-up choices and where does the inspiration come from?
On the territory of Epizode, the construction of art installations and architectural structures is already in full swing, the infrastructure is getting more comfortable and intuitive. Artists and architects from different countries are taking part in this magic work. The festival literally turns into an incredibly magical place - in our eyes, all the details are piecing all together, and it seems that Epizode is about to breathe, like a huge fairy-tale creature.
This year we are planning a diverse daytime program. In addition to sports activities, which include yoga, volleyball, SUP, frisbee, there will be creative workshops, body art, a movie theatre, colorful Holi battles, other fun activities and of course open decks for those who have always wanted to play at Epizode. We want people to come to the festival not only for night dances, but we also want them to discover and to be adventurous during the day. Epizode is a 24-hour fun :)
e a theory that, the first record that’s played at the festival, needs to be the right one, as it will define the energy of
ll afterparties last year were off the hook. Needless to say - the epic Ricardo’s morning set was the one for the books, as well as Luciano’s sunset set. Then, all Asian artists at Eggs stage, really showed what quality sound and good fun is. Also - I will never forget the moment when I walked in at the venue, heard many different languages and realized we created a truly international event.Q8: Can you summarise the vision behind Epizode for the readers? What makes it different than other festivals?
Thank you again for your time, we wish you all the best for this year’s edition.
' I want to keep learning everyday - learning about people, about myself, about music. ' Oskar Szafraniec Mix & Interview
- Published on Friday, 07 December 2018 13:04
It’s not everyday that you come across a DJ that has had an EP release to their name at the age of 13, but Oskar Szafraniec has done just that. Now 24, the Polish-born, classically-trained musician has 11 years of music production experience up his sleeve. Since then, he has been dedicated to the studio and the continual growth of his musical abilities releasing solo records with RAWAX, Cyclo and Closed Circuits.
In 2015, Oskar spent time in the studio with Ricardo Villalobos, and afterwards they produced separate tracks on a split record on RAWAX. Since then, Oskar has also collaborated and on several records and produced an album with Pier Bucci, as well as touring and working closely with a Guy Called Gerald. Now living in Berlin, Oskar has been busy collecting records and working in the studio, perfecting his sound. As can be deduced from listening to Oskar’s creations, he is very honest to his craft, and draws inspiration from a range of different musical genres, adding subtle yet unique elements into his distinctive minimal style. In the near future, Oskar Szafraniec is teaming up with Perlon’s Wareika, and also Caruan to produce some exciting new with an Italian jazz ensemble – definitely some projects to keep your eyes and ears ready for. We sat down to take a chat with Oskar to find out more about his career and life.
1- Hey Oskar. Nice to speak with you! How are you doing? What are you up to right now?
I’m fine, thank you! I am currently visiting my mom in Poland as unfortunately she has been fighting with cancer recently. She is in recovery right now though, which is such a relief. In these moments, it is very important to stay close to your family. My friends have helped me a lot, which I am extremely grateful for. I have my studio equipment here with me in Poland so I have been doing a little bit of work on upcoming projects where I can, and driving back to Berlin if I have any gigs on. I’ll be playing at Watergate this Wednesday, supporting System of Survival and Alexandra - I am really looking forward to dance with all those creative people at such a great location. I’m thinking I may play a bit more of an interesting set on Wednesday as my music selection will usually be a reflection of my personal life it - so let’s see where I’ll take it! I always believe that the best release for your emotions is to tell your story through music.
2- Very sorry to hear about your Mother, Oskar. But we’re glad you’re still powering through and making music. So tell us, you’re only just turning 24 but you have 11 years of producing and DJing. How exactly did you get into electronic music at such a young age?
It’s quite difficult to really pin-point point a single thing. I was always very musical, but became very curious listening to different types of music on the internet and it just escalated form there. I started researching about electronic music, getting inspired and trying to understand what electronic music was truly all about – looking back, I was definitely a big music nerd – I still am, really! I began to produce music, experiment with different instruments, sing, and eventually DJ… I got my first DJ gig when I was 14!
3- That’s pretty impressive! After all these years, do you have any rituals before going into music writing process?
I hope this doesn’t make me sound too OCD, but I have to admit I like to reorganise the studio room a bit before I start; put the cables and machines in the right place, clean up. A clean environment means a clear mind to me. Before I start recording I also like to finish all private things I have scheduled to do, I really need to feel free from distraction.
4- We know that you’re pretty experienced with using serious studio equipment; I believe that Roland once asked you to test out some of their new kits! What is your favourite piece of studio equipment right now?
At the moment it’s Space Echo. I’m actually using it on nearly each track I work on right now! My favourites come in waves though. A while ago it was an old Electribe ER-1, and before that, the SH-101. I really love sampling though as well. Anything what helps me to write beautiful stories with sounds.
5- Let’s talk a little about your inspirations then. What factors in your life influence your music the most?
It is usually the people I meet, situations, new instruments, and music I’ve never heard before. Recently it has been difficult for me to focus on new music and find inspiration as my mom has been sick but I have been trying to work with this as much as possible.
6- I guess it can’t always be all easy going in the studio sometimes and there are days where you struggle to find inspiration. How do you overcome writers block?
I don’t like to push things. It’s not like I’m working everyday on music trying to get the best out of it. I need to feel it’s the right moment; be inspired, be free. I believe if you push yourself to write, then your art sounds pushed, not honest. If I’m not inspired, I find other ways to spend my time. It is important to take breaks and come back with a fresh mind!
7- What have you got in the pipeline at the moment - can you tell us more about your upcoming projects?
There’s actually a lot of projects I have been working on lately! I have an upcoming release for Barac’s Moment Records, which I am currently tweaking some details on. I have also recently teamed up with Wareika for a new project, and I’m working on a track with the Swedish singer, Sailor & I. I have been collaborating with Otake Record’s owner, Piotr Bejnar, Round Up’s Bruno Curtis, and also the young artist, Assal (who I worked on the Meoko free release with).
There are several solo projects, too - records coming up on labels like Skylax, and some very high secret ones that I can’t mention yet (Ooooh!). I’m very fortunate to be working with such an inspiring, talented people with strong character. To be honest, I work only with people I personally like; people I can talk to about everything, whether it’s spirituality, family issues or art, people who has slightly different view on things and can’t be put in any frame. Oh! I am also travelling to Italy soon to work on a very, very special project with my dear friend Caruan and an Italian jazz ensemble. There’ll be no limits! We’re mashing up the styles: lots of instruments, bass guitars, piano, singing… I can’t wait!
8- Sounds like you’re going to be incredibly bust for the foreseeable future then! What are your goals for the next few years?
Constantly make music, be a better person. I want to keep learning everyday - learning about people, about myself, about music.
9- Alright, a (not) very serious last question now, haha! If it was the end of the world and you had to throw the last party, where would it be, and who would play?
I would have to go with a beautiful private Island in Africa with a line up full of young passionate musicians who haven’t had the chance to get heard yet, and crowd of true music lovers!
If you want to catch Oskar playing, he will next be playing at Watergate’s Mittwoch night on the 21st November, supporting System of Survival and Alexandra. Also keep your eyes out for his releases dropping very soon!
Words by Mikhaela Gray
- Published on Wednesday, 07 November 2018 23:09
UVAR is set to do their London debut remarking Vibe London's 1st anniversary with a special 8-hour b3b set from Ada Kaleh b2b Nu Zau b2b Sepp. The event will take place at Hackney's recent addition to the London clubbing scene Studio 9294, an open-air terrace during the daytime with the beautiful canal in the scenery, then the party will move into the warehouse space from sunset until sunrise . The day-and-night event is bound to be a memorable one with the venue's terrace for the day time part.
Vibe London has already throwed a reasonable number of parties in the capital hosting artists with the likes of Floog, Sepp, Nu Zau, Mahony, vlf to name a few. The next installment is their strongest lineup and no doubt on the quality sound provided over the night. Support will come from Sebastian Eric, Matje and the residents; Yuda and Amih. The Vibe crew has already made a strong impression over their first year and inviting Uvar seems like a perfect setting to honour the anniversary!
Oh, did we mention the after party? You know how it goes; Good Vibes Guaranteed.
Ahead of the trios London visit, MEOKO caught up with Ada Kaleh to speak about UVAR London Debut and his future plans.
So there you go: on Nov 10th, it’s in the Wick that the good things are, so it seems. you can already book your tickets here. See you there at the front-left speakers — after-party at The Cause.
1- Hello Ada, it is a great pleasure to interview you. First of all thank you for your time. How has life been treating you so far?
Hey guys and gals, the pleasure is on our side! You know how it is with life, ups and downs, just like everyone else.
2-What is behind Uvar? How did you decide to join forces as a trio?
The trio started all of a sudden, as a natural step forward. I did an EP for Uvar a couple of years ago, so the planning brought us together easily. Well, that and bonding by doing bad jokes on the internet. One day Gabi asked us if we want to do an Uvar showcase in Berlin, so we did it. That ended up in all three of us playing b2b. Worked like a charm, so we decided we should do this more. It's quite a special thing, so in that regard we did them in a few key places of the European scene, like Rex Club Paris, Supermarket Zurich, FUSE Brussels, Berns Stockholm and a few others, cant remember of the top of my head.
3- Uvar London debut is coming closer. What are your expectations about it? How did the project get structured?
Honestly I don't really have any expectations, we'll live and we'll see. We've all played London plenty of times already individually, some bigger events and some smaller ones, some very successful, a couple... strange. But all in all, expectations aside, we think this one is going to be quite good. Not to mention; we are going to play for an exclusive 8 hours, so better rest well until Saturday and be ready for the marathon.
4- What is your general idea about London Underground Music scene?
I see it split in two very differents sides. There's the smaller but thriving side of promoters doing off events, trying to bring their favorite acts, and then there's the money driven side of super production, aggressive promotion, ultra cheesy line-ups and horrendous crowds.
5- Uvar showcase has started to take place recently. How does it feel to play as trio and play as solo? Any other events in the pipeline?
For me these are two completely different sides, its like having split personality. When I play solo, I have a long term approach and dip in and out of genres, leading the crowd in certain directions. When I play with the fellas, it's much more spontaneous, as we tend to surprise eachother with of the stuff that we play. Next up, we have a Paris showcase being planned.
6- What are your main inspirations when it comes to your creative process? Are there any things you could not imagine working without?
Ah jeez! I have no clue how my creative process works anymore and where inspiration comes from. A few years back I thought it was nature and human interraction, now I'm not so sure about that. Well, I used to have a lot more free time back then, and I was a bit more naive. Now with the constant DJing something has changed. First of all it created a struggle between the producer side of me wanting to make odd and very musical compositions and then the DJ side comes in "saying" it has to be functional. So that creates a block that I have to get around. Then there is the time factor, its quite hard to get into a writing state when you're back home on Sunday evening or late at night, have a couple of days to decompress and then Friday you're back at it again. I mean there would be plenty of time if you wanted to do all this bullshit music of the new wave of producers, where they download a sample CD, make an arrangement and call themselves musicians, but if you want to write proper music, that needs time and patience. As I see it now, you can't be a great musician and a great DJ at the same time, you have to separate the two and do them in turns.
7- Anything else you would like to add for our readers?
Don't follow the hype.
Thank you again and see you all on Saturday night for a magical evening.
We are all much looking forward to our London visit and celebrating Vibe's first Birthday with you all.
Words by Erchin Jon
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'I’m looking to entertain the listener more with talent and artistry versus just beats and groove.' Delano Smith Mix & Interview
- Published on Friday, 12 October 2018 17:53
Of the original crop of Detroit DJs, Delano Smith is now the last. Reflecting on house and techno without his influence would mean viewing a very different musical landscape. Coming up at a time when the world was just discovering the influence a DJ could have, Smith battled his way to the top in a tough scene full of talent. With the guidance of the late, great Ken Collier, his early sets fusing soul, disco and early electronic sounds would plant seeds in the minds of many of Detroit’s subsequent generations of house and techno. Those dancing to his sets in the late 70s and early 80s would go on to become dominant influences in first rave then global music culture. Now, the circle is closing as Delano stands shoulder to shoulder with artists he once educated.
We are happy to present his MEOKO mix with an interview, discussing his upcoming projects.
1- Hi Delano, it’s a great honor, how you doing? What are you up to right now?
Hello, it’s my pleasure and thanks for the opportunity! All is well in my world, Just trying to finish my next two releases before I leave for my fall tour.
2- I hope you don’t mind going down memory lane, cause it’s not everyday I get to interview someone who’s been playing dance music since the disco days and I’d like to start with a few questions about those times. To some in this scene, Detroit might seem very removed — the music went through so many mutations since its inception. Do you see a certain continuity with what you experienced, say putting on high school parties in the late 70s, early 80s, and what’s going on now?
It’s actually a completely different world both musically and culturally. The music and the scene has morphed into something completely different from it’s humble beginnings I think. I don’t have a point of reference on how this musical revolution started in Europe, but in Detroit it started in the gay black community - then spread to straight black crowds and eventually integrated after the introduction of the Music Institute in Detroit where Derrick May and others began rolling post-Disco and early electronica. What started as Black Music primarily has now morphed into an entirely different thing spawning multiple sub genres - it’s crazy! But I like it!
3- Dance music has become a real industry in the meantime. What do you think of the evolution of the scene around you now, when you play in Europe for example?
It’s more industry driven in Europe than the States. In Europe, particularly in cities like Berlin and Paris, DJ culture is alive and well and a lot of people are connected to the scene in some kind of way allowing it to thrive. There are only a few markets in the States where the scene is strong. Europeans seem more open minded to various styles where as the States is more spectacle driven in my opinion.
4- You recently said it underwent some kind of revitalization since the heydays of Club Heaven — how’s the scene like these days in Detroit?
Time has changed the musical landscape in the D. It’s nothing like it was in the old days as technology has changed the way we think and interact with the music and the club scene. Right now, thanks to promoters like Paxahau (Movement Fest) and clubs like TV Lounge and Marble Bar, they have elevated the scene here to new heights. The scene here is very strong now.
5- Speaking of which, the Detroit Sound Conservancy launched a campaign to restore Club Heaven’s soundsystem. As someone who’s lived through it, what do you think of this initiative?
I think it’s great novelty, the youngsters in the scene now are not connected to it in any kind of way however- nevertheless, it would be good to have this piece of history restored though, I think it’s a good thing. Probably the only thing left in Detroit that is a directly connected to the beginning of how this all started in here.
6- More generally, how does it feel seeing things you’ve personally experience being granted historical and cultural importance?
It feels like I’m old now - LOL! It reminds me of simpler times in Detroit, when DJ culture and this music was still relatively new to a lot of folks. I think it’s only nostalgia if you actually lived through it - while it’s meaningful to us - folks that lived and experienced it first hand, I’m not sure if a lot of the younger crowd actually gets it. Only DJs and serious clubbers are interested in the relics of yesteryear - what are treasures to us are like MEH to this new digital generation. But it’s all good though.
7- Can you talk about the importance of this club and his resident DJ Ken Collier for the city and you personally? How have they influenced you as a DJ to these days?
Heaven was actually Ken’s House - it was where you could hear him in his most purest form - like Levan at Paradise Garage or Hardy at the Music Box. The system was like no other in the city and was a major influence to all the after hour party concepts that followed. Ken had other residencies throughout Detroit that were just as significant in the days prior to Club Heaven. His earlier residencies where the stuff of legend as well, it’s how we all became to know and love him. He was our ambassador to this music and culture.
8- How would you describe the Beatdown sound you became known for? It seems to be more about a vibe than a certain music genre, right?
It is more of a vibe. A stripped down vibe if you will, generally mid-tempo grooves that are soulful in nature - less electronic - more rooted in traditional House. An acquired taste.
9- You made it onto the scene with people like Norm Talley pushing that Beatdown aesthetic, do you think there’s a new generation of producers pushing that kind of sounds in Detroit?
Yes, I hear it all the time and I support the artists that produce this vibe as well. It’s a timeless sound and will never get old, especially with the a lot of producers pushing DAW-Less Analog rigs now, it’s a natural organic vibe. I’ve been hearing a lot of it at home lately.
10- How’s your sound received back home, by the way?
I think I’m still relatively underground in Detroit to the new generation, still new to the younger generation until they hear me or do a bit of research.. nothing like Europe though where my biggest market is. But thats the nature of things in the business now, loved more abroad than at home. I’ve accepted that fact.
11- I’ve heard you say you were making music for the clubs, which is a very DJ approach to it. Do you go out, whether you’re home in Detroit or when you’re in Europe, to sort of keep a finger on the pulse of the club scene?
Sure! I go out, listen to podcasts, stream DJ mixes on Soundcloud, YouTube, Be-At TV etc. in order to stay relevant you have to stay connected to the scene and adapt to it if you want to keep working. Plus, I enjoy watching and hearing other artists perform.
12- Your music remains obviously catered for the dancefloor, but after all those years, has your approach to production evolved?
Yes, somewhat. I’m longing for more musical elements in my sound now, more changes and progressions. I think this comes from age and attempting to escape monotony. I’m looking to entertain the listener more with talent and artistry versus just beats and groove.
13- From what do you draw inspiration then, when you produce back home, so removed from the club environment?
Thats a good one, and it’s hard to really say as it’s a variety of things. But I generally go in with some sort of concept as to what type of track this will be and go from there. I rarely just off the cuff starting with beat - bass- hat - etc.
14- Do you have any favourite clubs or parties to play?
YES. Paris is always fun, particularly Concrete (Rex too). Berlin is a great city too, but technically I’d have to say Contact in Tokyo is probably my favorite.
15- How did Europe and your success as a DJ it came to signify come to you? — you being first booked at Panorama Bar, your connections with Third Ear, now Sushitech…
Probably when I realized that I no longer needed a regular day job, when I realized that this was a sustainable career - now it’s serious and I no longer think of myself as just a DJ.
16- You released a new record on your own Mixmode Recordings after a 4-year hiatus for the label. What led you to re-launch it?
I decided to take a break from working with Sushitech as it monopolized mostly all of my production time with touring and all. That sound was working for me for years so I totally engulfed my energy into those projects. After the Lost Tapes album I decided to take a break from that sound and get back to some good ole House. I’m more inspired than ever now and have a lot of music that I will be releasing on the Mixmode label.
17- And what’s in the works for you, DJ-wise or personally?
I’m actually preparing to include some live elements in my DJ sets now, using a sampler, Drum machine and perhaps a bass synths to add some variety and perhaps doing a full blown live show. I will let you guys know when that's ready.
18- We’re super happy to host this mix, how do you feel about podcasts? Did you try to convey anything different from what you’d do in a club?
Yes. It’s generally peak time when I play at clubs so I have to try an keep the energy level up and the crowd dancing and entertained. With podcast mixes, I can chill out bit - to me - it’s more of a listening experience. I try to entertain the listener with down-mid tempo grooves. Although you can still dance, I feel it’s a way to introduce another side of my DJing - rather than just playing bangers for 2 hours.
Words by Pierre-Alexis Chauvin
More Delano Smith
'My Aim Is To Spread Positivity On The Floor And Make People Dance, Dance Happily, Dance Wildly, Dance Weirdly.' Voigtmann Mix & Interview - 4 Years of Oscuro
- Published on Friday, 14 September 2018 12:24
With meticulous dedication to his unique studio productions and versatile DJ sets, Voigtmann quickly gained popularity in the underground party scene and acquired the respect of his peers. After completing his mission with his previous label and party series Toi Toi Musik, Voigtmann went off seeking new musical challenges with the label Subsequent, on which he is releasing his debut LP ‘Sublunary’ this September. His new brilliant podcast for Meoko is dreamy and ingenious; the one-hour recording evolves in a truly natural way touching various influences from micro-house to UK garage, and feels like the perfect soundtrack for morning sunrise after a heavy night out. We are happy to present his MEOKO mix with an interview, discussing his new record and upcoming projects.
1- Hi Claus! First of all, thank you for the mix and for taking the time for the interview. This month Subsequent is releasing your mesmerizing full-length debut album “Sublunary”, which got support from the likes of Zip, Ricardo Villalobos and Sonja Moonear, to name a few. How did the record come to life? What is the concept behind it?
Hi Meoko! Firstly, thank you for the interview and glad to be back on your lovely series. In regards to the album, I believe it should be defined by the music on the two black slabs rather than by the people who support it. I think it’s an old-fashioned way of defining quality. Yes, I am happy I got the support, but new people with new ideas are on the rise and always falling back on to the same 4 people for definition is pretty boring and I believe they aren’t comfortable with that either, they are just like us, doing what they love.
The decision to make an album came about because I felt very comfortable in my studio. I had the best setup I could imagine in my little room and also felt I knew where I am going to take the album style-wise. I always knew I wanted to keep my debut album as classy as possible. The word ‘timeless’ is overused but I wanted to be able to look back in a few years and still be able to listen back without cringing.
Halfway through writing it, I realized that I literally don't care if people like it or not. I fell in love with the process. As an artist, you are ideally maneuvering outside your comfort zone, hence you are instantly faced with judgment from other people. The process of writing the album showed me that the result isn’t the main focus. For me, the beauty is in the process of writing and the amount of thought that went into it. Along the way, my sound changed to something wider, more grown up, more technical. I tried to circumnavigate any trend and really establish a very own body of work.
2- The LP features club sounds ranging from minimal house to techno and breakbeat but also presents an elegant touch in the style that feels closer to ambient music. Can we expect more of this coming from you?
I always had an affinity for sounds outside of house and techno… For instance, I have been collecting 70’s funk records for years now. It’s beautiful NOT to work result-oriented in the studio and just see what comes out… Sometimes it’s really weird stuff, sometimes it’s beautiful ambient pieces. I am planning to seek different challenges outside the 4/4 under different aliases next year… For example venture into broken beats/future jazz under V-Man (who would have thunk). I feel, I fulfilled a first milestone with the album and I am now open to all kind of influences.
3- The album shows impressive and versatile production skills. How did your studio set up evolve in the last few years? Can you name a piece of gear which was especially used for this record?
Thank you very much. The studio evolved more and more towards an analog side. I added drum machines and synths I love and could not live without anymore. The album heavily features the Analog Rhythm, The Oberheim OB6, and my computer. I do a lot of textures and the entire arrangement in Ableton while all the rhythm section and the main melody elements are analog. The digital bits sit very naturally behind the analog bits. It’s the best combination for me.
4- Can you tell us about the development of your DJ career in the last few years?
I am very proud and happy where I got to, mainly in the last year. I broke free from some chains and expectations holding me back. I also overcame the whole digger mentality; before I tried to fit into what everyone was doing and as an effect, I would sound similar. It’s bonkers, sometimes I felt I have to perform only for the chin scratchers on the floor. I couldn’t care anymore, my aim is to spread positivity on the floor and make people dance, dance happily, dance wildly, dance weirdly. My DJ sets got a lot more energetic but less heavy if that makes sense. The funny thing is that by simply being yourself you present a unique style already, you dig for your own style, you are unique. Once this penny dropped in my head I feel complete freedom behind the booth, playing an old vocal house track and bits I would have never touched before…it’s very liberating. Try it.
5- This Saturday you will be playing at the fourth birthday party of Oscuro in London. What is special about it compared to otherplaces?
The boys are doing a great job and pulled together a top-notch lineup. I played for them before and just feel my music is very well-received. I am succumbing a lot more UK influences these days and I feel the Oscuro crowd embraces that.
6- Can you share your highlight from summer 2018?
Houghton, Houghton, Houghton.
7- How would you describe your new mix for Meoko?
All my recent mixes were very fast and energetic, this time I wanted to create a very slow-evolving, unpretentious afterhours mix with simply a lot of unreleased material and tracks that I consider great music. No need to cram a mix full of the weirdest tracks you know, I find it quite relaxing just listen to the music evolve in one flow.
8- Do you have any other upcoming plans or projects you wish to share with the Meoko readers?
I am off to my beloved South America for a two-weekend tour. I had a studio break for a couple of months after the album but from October onwards, I will shift my attention back to the production/studio life. My book is filled with EPs and remixes this year so I will work through them and simply be a happy (V)man in my little studio. I plan to be positive and happy.
See you on Saturday at 4 Years of Oscuro.
Words by Giovanni Bodrato