- 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 enormous amount of experience which helped him to 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
- Published on Thursday, 12 October 2017 09:06
Microscope series is back again and this time we are having a very well known name from Netherlands – Roger Gerressen. Born in Arnhem and currently living in Nijmegen continuously spreading his name across the world by his house and techno infused productions and smooth as butter sets. Roger just joined Paris based Yoyaku label which led him to release his music on imprints as Joule, Aku and Tartouffe. With their support he is about to launch two more labels to meet his output and give him his creative freedom– Irenic Records and Autodidact Records. As being a co-founder of ESHU records having numerous releases and collaborations with big guns as Ivano Tetelepta, Dilated Pupils, ARC and Novio Dub Tribe you get an image that this is the guy to keep your eye on. We can’t wait to dive in the interview with this talent and check his exclusive MEOKO Mix.
1. Hey Roger, pleasure to have you with us! How are you doing?
I am doing good sir, I had a series of gigs last summer that went great and I just had a few weeks off to finish some music/remixes and get ready for the winter season.
2.First of all, tell us more about your involvement in the club scene. How did you get in the scene in the first place and what made you decide that you want to become a part of it?
I never expected to be involved in house music at this stage in my live. In the 90’s the only electronic music we grew up with was the trance and gabber that dominated in the Netherlands. Those styles had massive airplay on the radio and even took over the pop charts. Good electronic music was already out there, but it never reached me at that age. I never got into the trance/gabber music, the melodies felt cheesy to me. I was always more interested in breaks and loops and became a fan of early 90’s hiphop when I got introduced to A Tribe Called Quest. To this day it’s the music I play the most at home. I just love sample based loops.
At my 18th birthday coincidence happened. My friends bought me a ticket to a big techno event (still pretty much against my biased will), I had my first experience in the scene and immediately seemed to understand what this music was all about. I found another type of new loop-based music I love. I got some second hand belt-drive turntables and a mixer a few weeks afterwards and here we are today.
3.Do you remember the first record or artist you heard that clicked to you? Can you tell us shortly how did you get from hearing your first record to playing your first gig?
The first artist that clicked for me was the dutch legend Steve Rachmad. My sister was dating a guy back then who was also into dj’ing and he gave me the mix-cd ‘Sterac - Emerging’. That cd still is like a bible to my beliefs in techno music. Mixed live in a club with an amazing vision of hypnotic techno. I immediately drifted towards that sound from then on.
My first gig was a DJ contest in 2004 at Planet Rose, our local clubnight. Even though in my memories everything went great, I didn’t make it to the finals haha. But I was already happy to have performed for a crowd at that point.
4 .As you been raised in Nijmegen do you see a change in music and clubbing there? It is a quite remote city isn’t it? Do you have some special nights, clubs or events that are worth visiting?
Nijmegen used to be a very underground-minded city with one mayor clubnight called Planet Rose (the venue is called Doornroosje, the longest running clubnight in the Netherlands, which has been going strong for more then 22-years now) that has influenced everybody in my town. They had an amazing venue for techno music, high quality acts like Jeff Mills, Derrick May and Laurent Garnier came by on a weekly basis to play for a very open minded crowd. Outside of the Dutch borders, not many people know of this place, but over here it has a legendary status. A few years back they were forced to move out of their filthy old graffiti covered venue (which I loved ofcourse) and settle into a very new state of the art building, which changed things for me. It has become too big for me now and as a result of trying to reach bigger crowds the programming has also become a bit more mainstream and predictable. Luckily you have a few smaller promoters in my town who are now stepping in (like ‘The Tribe’) and hosting some smaller high quality events.
But I still hold the memories of the old venue in my heart. It was an amazing place.
5.As living near by one of the Europe’s partying hotspots, do you find yourself going to Amsterdam often? How does it influence the Holland’s scene in general? Do you think the city dictates the trend for the scene?
The city definitely dictates the trend for the Netherlands, but my country is so small it’s not hard for influence to pass over to another city. But indeed, there are so much more events in Amsterdam, so much more creative people moving there, it’s a logical evolution. Most capitols serve that role I believe.
When I don’t have to play for myself I tend to stay home and create music these days, but coming into the house/techno scene I took plenty of drives to Amsterdam to see some amazing artists in amazing clubs. I often visited Club 11, which later evolved into TrouwAmsterdam. Trouw still was and still is my favorite place in Amsterdam, both on the dancefloor and behind the decks. I was lucky enough to play there a couple of times.
6.Talking about your musical history. I could call you a label guy. You been involved in so many affairs that is hard to count. How did you get in Paris scene alongside Yoyaku? What’s the story behind it?
Before I was connected to Yoyaku I was with an agency that didn’t really put a lot of effort in their artists or have a plan to move forward. So I was starting to get a bit impatient and unhappy with the direction and growth of my career. A few years back I played an event in Strasbourg, organized by the people behind Yoyaku and we just clicked and had a great time. We always stayed in touch, every now and then we had a short chat or they sent me the latest promo’s. They were just setting up their first labels when we met and they had already grown like crazy since then. When the day came my agency pulled the plug and seized to exist, I had a chat with the Yoyaku crew about me flying solo again. It didn’t take long for them to ask me to join the crew.
7.Introduce us with your two brand new imprints as well. Irenic Records and Autodidact Records. What were the ideas behind it and what we should expect from them?
Yes lots of thing happening! Both labels were created for me to have more output, but I also wanted to showcase some of my friends. Let’s start with Irenic, which means ‘Aimed at peace..’. This label had it’s first release a few months back done by Novio Dub Tribe (a collab by Sinan Alakus and myself) and we’re working on the second release as we speak. Irenic is really about the deeper side of the spectrum. Techno, house or dub: as long as the atmosphere of the music is right. The upcoming EP is done by my close friend Alex Jansen (U-GOLD / Rue de Plaisance, also from Nijmegen), he delivered a very deep and emotional 3-track house record that will be out in a few weeks. Future EP’s on Irenic will feature music and remixes by Novio Dub Tribe, Udmo, Bas Amro and myself.
Then we have Autodidact, basicly the same guidelines as Irenic. Created to have more output for my friends/collabs and myself. But with Autodidact anything goes. The first release is done by my friend Doyle Johnson and will be out by the end of October or early November. After that we have a jungle/dnb collaboration by Alex Jansen and myself for the second EP, which will feature two amazing 4/4 remixes by Chris Geschwindner. Can’t wait to present all the details soon!
8.Congrats on you recent release on Tartouffe dubby and groovy piece! As well as one on Joule imprint. I could find endless releases around, how do you approach making music? Do you already have ideas in your mind before even sitting down in front of you desk?
I wish I could give you a very artistic answer right now, but it doesn’t happen to me that often. I just start and see where it goes. Since I have many aliases and styles I do make a choice in direction when I start the project, but it rarely needs a special approach. When collaborating with Ivano Tetelepta in the past, we had a few moments where we tried a ‘Rhythm Roulette’ type approach and try to make records by sampling the majority of the project (like the Build from Wax LP on Nilla Records) or only use certain pieces of gear as a restriction (on the untitled ARC# album on Deep Sound Channel).
9.What are your main inspirations when it comes to your creative process? Are there any things you could not imagine working without?
A hiphop attitude towards house music. To be an underground artist is to create music with whatever equipment you have around you. So if you don’t have the money to buy the gear you want (or think you need), don’t freeze up and do nothing. It was my situation for the longest time, so I really learned to be creative digitally. So even though I love to fiddle around with analog gear, and my studio is growing, I am still a very digital orientated producer that really needs to do those final touches digitally, because the lack of gear pushed me that way.
So I couldn’t work without Ableton to be honest. My MPC is my second answer.
10.Talking about making music, can you take us through your studio gear? What’s your favorite piece? Is there a piece that you really wish for? Or some future purchases?
I have just a small studio myself, at home. I use: Ableton, RMA-fireface400 soundcard, MPC, Dave Smith Tempest, MFB, a Strymon Timeline delay and I have a few other simple pedals and fx.
So far very beat orientated gear so the next step will probably be a synth, but like many people I have been mesmerized by modular synthesis too. Let’s see. Even though my studio is still small, I honestly rarely feel limited.
11.As a music lover you must have some artists you admire! Would you like to share some of your favorite acts this year so far? Anything we should check out in particular that stuck in your mind?
I am an old school guy. A Tribe Called Quest is my favorite group ever, no doubt about it. Gangstarr, Black Sheep, Large Professor, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Brand Nubian. Those are my jams.
Too much new electronic music coming out right now to pick a few, but if I had to I would say Udmo (two mindblowing releases on Analog Attic) and Chris Geschwindner, because I love their fresh styles and both of them have remixed some of my works/collabs so I had to do a shout out!
12.Thank you for this amazing mix! Did you have a specific idea behind it or just went with the flow?
I spent many years warming up dancefloors in my hometown, so when I am recording a mix I try to take the same approach.. a bit of music for the mind, some music for the soul and I always try to end up with some music for the feet as well.
13.Thank you once again for having us! Do you have any last words for the fans? Any news on collaborations or some exciting upcoming releases? What do you think would be the best advice for the upcoming artist?
Yes I have a big release coming up on Sushitech Records as my latest project ‘Monoaware’. It will be a 2x12”, out by the end of October / early November. Very excited to be a part of this label and its artists.
And just be sure to support the upcoming Irenic and Autodidact records when they drop in the coming weeks!
And thanks for having me ;)
Was a pleasure, Roger and thank you for them mix!
Words by Matas Balta
- Published on Thursday, 07 September 2017 12:40
What is clear about Jasper is his absolute passion for sound. All the things that Ferro sprinkles into his productions, as well as for his MEOKO mix too. Ferro’s sound comes caked in a vintage dust, sounding as though his beats have been maturing in a draw before being unleashed on the world
Having had a busy Summer 2017 playing at some of top destinations with the likes of Sankeys Ibiza, DGTL Festival, Awakenings Festival, Infuse London, Welcome to the Future, Mysteryland Festival, Dockyard, Free Your Mind Festival, Pollerwiesen, We Are Festival, Loveland Festival, Paradigm Festival; still he is not willing to stop. His latest release on Oscillat was received very well and was played by Raresh & Praslea among others. You should also check out his new releases on Lessizmore & VBX.
1. Holla Jasper! It’s been a while, how are you doing?
Yes it is… Thanks for having me again. Good, thanks!
2. Are you ready to get not so serious?
Yes. Luckily that wouldn’t be too much of a problem as I'm overall not a very serious person.
3. Batman or Spiderman?
Batman, I prefer his hearing.
4. What would be the thing you could not imagine your life without?
5. Craziest thing you have seen in a party?
Bit of a crazy story.. Once during a gig, I had to pee so bad. The vibe at the party was so good though that I didn’t want to stop playing. Eventually the story ended with my best friend Karel carrying a bucket full of my piss through the audience...That must be one of the craziest and funniest things I've seen at a party. But hey, that’s what real friends are for right? haha
6. Your favorite karaoke song?
7. If you were the last person on earth, what would be the first thing you do?
Take off all of my clothes
8. Favorite food?
Stamppot, a typical Dutch dish. Best to google it..it's difficult to explain
9. If you could fly what would be your first destination?
The dark side of the moon.
(This could be a nice track title. :)
10.You could wish for anything you want, what would that be?
Wet baby wipes at every toilet in the world.
11. Would you rather stay vegan for the rest of your life or play 1 Britney Spears song in every set of yours?
Definitely to become a vegan for the rest of my life.
12. Your biggest fear?
To stumble across Bob of Twin Peaks in a dark alley.
13. Could you finish a pint in under 10 seconds?
Yes, but will probably throw up right after.
14. First thing you do when you get back from a party?
Take of my shoes
15.3 things to do in a near future:
To be honest I usually don’t think too far ahead. I do know the next three things I will do right after this:
1. Get into the plane
2. Get a Taxi
3. Enter DC 10
16. Best party pal?
17. Weirdest moment during a gig?
One time in the UK, people were throwing their socks at me while I was playing. I was so confused, I thought they may not like the music I was playing or something like that. After my set my friend told me that he had asked somebody in the crowd who explained: ‘He was playing so good, he blew my socks off’. Hahah
18. Your favorite club?
The club of 27.
19. Other things to highlight for 2017?
Upcoming VBX 004 release together with Reiss as Spokenn “Limbic Resonance EP”
See you on Sunday at the village called Underground for FUSE x VBX at Village Underground.
Words by Matas Balta
- Published on Monday, 04 September 2017 17:53
From house to techno to tech house to minimal, few artists in the contemporary realm can lay claim to being as diverse and eclectic as Romanian artist, Dragosh. Now living in Milan, the prolific producer has had his works featured on some of the globe’s foremost labels, with Moon Harbour, Desolat and VIVa just some of those who’ve featured his always unique sound. He’s been busy of late too, with releases in the works for the likes of Memoria, as well as a recently debuted live show that turned heads recently at Berlin’s Club der Visionaire. We caught up with the man in question recently as he talked us through some of his recent endeavors to go alongside the great mix he provided for us…
How are you Dragosh? How has your summer been?
Hello and thanks for having me. The summer was just great, I had some nice gigs in Switzerland and in Berlin and took some time out to relax for myself also. So I can’t complain.
We noticed you grew up in Bucharest but moved to Milan as a teenager. What promoted the move?
At the time I had to start high school, so my mother decided to bring me to Milan to better my future opportunities. So it was a family decision more than anything, I guess.
Was settling in Milan tough? How influential was music in your life back then?
To be fair it was actually pretty easy, the language isn’t so tough to learn! Musically it was a change, but I soon started to listen to a lot more Italian music like LucioDalla, Mina and many others. In Romania, I had been more focused on hip-hop and 90s electronic music. Finding a large Italian background in music definitely helped me to better understand other genres too.
So both countries influenced your music a lot then?
Well, yes. The Romanian side of me is probably more into ‘underground’ house, whereas my Italian side from Milan is probably more into banging music as well as more melodic, easy listening stuff.
When did you start producing music and where did your first release come out? How do you think your sound has progressed since back then?
I started producing pretty early actually;when I was around 16/17 years old. My first vinyl release actually came out on VIVa Music, Steve Lawler's label. But before that, I also had a track released digitally called ‘Cut’, a really minimal, banging one. From there I soon delved in to more tribal house stuff and other genres such as techno and tech house. The point is, I never know how my music will change because I like to keep doing what keeps me happy at the time. Sometimes it’s sad, sometimes it’s dark, but I usually just send the music to labels and see what fits. Naturally I don’t send house to techno labels, but you get what I’m saying I’m sure.
When working on a track for a bigger label, do you feel extra pressure? Or do you usually just mail them what you’ve been working on and take it from there?
Working with pressure is not creative for me. I always do tons of tracks then choose the best ones for that label and send their way. Normally I send lots of tunes and let the label choose. I prefer this way. The only bad thing is that sometimes they don't reply at all when it’d be nice to have a yes or no and some feedback. But I’ve recently started my own label, WEorUS as I understand it's hard to keep up with all the demos. Plus this way I can put out what I like. Luckily I also work with two friends on the label, so shout out to the DWM PROD guys!
What’s the idea behind the label then?
The main plan for WEorUS is to release good music from artists we really appreciate. We've been stuck for a while because of some issues but we will soon release the third release. We are not planning to release a lot, it will be more focused on the music we’re feeling.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of being a producer these days?
Big question! Probably the management aspect, something I’m really bad at. But these days you need to know how and where to market yourself when you have strong music. So probably dealing with the public relations side of things, yeah.
Do you have any formal music training? Do you think this is important these days?
I think it’s very important and better to have studied music at a formal level, but sadly it’s not an opportunity I ever had. But never say never, it’s still something I’d like to do. Here in Milan there is the Conservatorio, which offers lessons for beginners. So I’d love to take those classes one day.
You’ve produced on some of house and techno’s biggest labels. What do you consider your big break?
I still think it’s yet to come. Doing music is always a challenge and I always try to do better and focus not on the big break but on the music. If I do that, the break will come…
You’re a producer who’s just as comfortable producing minimal techno as you are house and techno. Do you think too few producers take risks with their sound these days and almost prefer to be pigeonholed as a ‘deep house’ DJ, a ‘techno’ producer etc.?
I don't like to be pigeonholed so that's why I try not to stick to one thing. It's more fun to let the creativity flow and to release only the things I feel have to be released. I've done everything from super jazzy to super acid techno stuff and breakbeat, but I don't want to release everything I do. And yes, it's a big risk because it can get confusing sometimes but I like to take this risk. When people, friends, label owners tells me "yes it's a different kind of music but it has your unique sound" that’s a big thing for me! That’s what makes me take risks.
You’ve been playing a lot with Dana Ruh at her Brouqade & Friends party recently. How did that relationship first come about? What have you learned from Dana over the years?
Yes, and this is probably my biggest experience in music to date. I’ve know Dana personally since 2013 when she invited me to play. But before the label night we hung out in her studio and had lunch and dinner so we bonded a lot. I've a good connection with Dana from the very beginning because we agree on most things musically and are focused on the same path and only ta;k when needed. I’ve learned a lot from her and the way she focuses on things is inspiring. Probably the biggest one is to not view a project in the short term, to stay focused and to bide my time.
You’ve been playing live recently. How did it go?
Yeah, I did it at Club der Visionare in Berlin and also at Circolodegli Illuminati in Rome (again with Dana) and both times worked really good! I'm planning to do it in other places soon and as a solo artist also. Transporting the gear isn’t easy but it’s a very fun way of playing music and seeing people’s reactions when you do something on stage is priceless.
What’s next for you that you’re really excited about?
I'm really excited for my next few releases and I have about 5 in the works for the next while. I’ll release on labels I’ve released on previously and labels I haven’t, such as Memoria Rec, CurteaVeche, Otaku Records and more. So certainly exciting times release wise.
Aside from music, what keeps you busy?
My day job! I'm an Optometrist here in Milan and it's pretty intense sometimes but also fun. My wife keeps me busy and happy but also helps me keep my feet on the ground! I have an artistic attitude to most things in life, to be honest…
Can you tell us 5 tracks that are really killing it in your sets recently?
Absolutely. HenrikBergqvist’s “Spin”, Conceiled Project’s “Pattern 3”, Onirico’s “Echo”, S.O.N’s “Untitled A (S.A.M Remix)” and Disuasiv’s “Project M”.
P.S.: Look out for Dragosh’s next release on Memoria, which is about to drop soon.
Thanks for your time and the exclusive mix
Words by Zac