Ryan Elliott Interview: Basslines Are What Make People Dance
- Published on Wednesday, 21 May 2014 10:57
''What matters most, is what comes through the speakers, it must be the right track at the right moment and it must be played in the right way." No one knows this better than Detroit's Ryan Elliott, his reputation as a DJ, remixer and member of Spectral Sound A & R team has grown steadily in more than ten years behind the turntables, he was also known already as a "DJs DJ" and "truthful apprentice a pure art form." Such a reputation does not just happen out of nowhere and the success Elliott has earned in every respect. His style has remained loyal, bassline-driven techno, house reduced essentials and conscientiously tuned to bring the audience out of their minds.
MEOKO has the pleasure to chat with Ryan Elliott about his journey within sound and gives us some insight to his work.
First off, you are in a very unique position seeing as you have a residency both at Panorama Bar and Berghain. Of course, they are both under the same roof, but how do you approach each of them?
Sometimes they are really different, sometimes they can be pretty similar. I'm lucky that I get to play at both. I usually play more at Panorama compared to Berghain. Obviously Panorama is more house and Berghain is more techno, but in Panorama it can be pretty techno and in Berghain it can sometimes be house. I don't know what I would do if I got stuck just playing at one because I play both techno and house and it always seems like good timing, when I'm tired of all my house records I'm ready to play at Berghain and vice versa. Especially, if you do the last set in Berghain then you can really go deeper into house and if it's peak time at Panorama you can play more techno.
Do the people differ as a crowd in each of them?
I'd say they are pretty similar. I think a lot of people enjoy going upstairs for a while and then downstairs. What I find unique about it is, a lot of clubs have two rooms and it just doesn't work that way. Because there is usually one really good one and then theres the other room... But with Berghain and Panorama, to me at least, it really feels kind of like two separate clubs, which you can walk in between to.
You are under the label of Ostgut Ton, what is it like being a part of such a strong German label? What are the perks of it and are there any ups and downs?
There really aren't any downs. I can't say enough good stuff about the label and our booking agency and the club. We have a big hand on what we release, we obviously have a label manager, but if we are going to do an EP or album we really have a lot of say in what comes out. We also have big team meetings where we all talk about what we'd like to see and do. It's an overall effort between all of us and we have a really good label manager as well as previously having Nick Hoppner as a label manager. There is a lot of attention to detail with the artwork and everything else, it's really nice to be involved in that. Yousef who does the layouts is really really good at what he does.
How do you feel about the recent announcement on mixes being released as free from now on through Ostgut Ton? How did this decision occur?
I see both sides of it, there are people who like to have the CD in their hands but on the other hand, it's 2014 you know... A lot of people if you ask them if they heard the Panorama Bar mixes they'll say yes and then if you ask whether they have the CD they'll say no. So, people get the music anyway and the way that we are going to do it will still maintain the exact same quality control, the mix will be mastered and include full artwork. So really, they are going to be the same way they used to be which means 1 or 2 per year, except there won't be a physical CD. Music is becoming more and more free and people will get it anyway. This way we can control it a little better. Also we are not necessarily constrained to a specific time frame with this set up and this provides us with more freedom.
How do you plan about your sets, beginning from when you go out to look for records or CDs to how you decide on the structure? Do u prefer to be organised or go with the flow in the moment of playing?
My plan usually is that, through the week when I'm buying records or when buying digital music, I try to be as organised as I can and then when picking the right records for what I think will be good for the club. Then, with my digital files, organising those in folders so I can access them quickly and then I usually try to pick my first record, I know that before I go into the club, but after that I've never ever programmed. Although I try to be as organised as I can before I go in and then from there and onwards it's all just going with the flow. Because you just never know, sometimes in your mind you have an idea about what the night is going to be like and it goes completely the other way.
Apart from being a DJ, you also produce and remix tracks, what is your preference on these, or if you will, which of these methods allows you to express yourself most fluently?
I've always considered myself a DJ first and I really only started producing and remixing very very seriously in the last 4 or 5 years. But just like when I first started DJing, It was really hard, not so fun, but I got really comfortable with it and I love it, I think its the best job in the whole world. Now, I'm having a lot of fun producing too. I'm comfortable enough with the equipment that I use so that I can get my ideas out into a piece of music and that's fun. For a long time when you first start to produce music, at least for me, you have these ideas in your head but what comes out is different.
How much of a conceptualist you’d say you are and if not how do you visualise or imagine what you want to create whether that's a set or a remix etc?
A lot of people that I've seen work, especially with computer based set ups, create in random and they go through loops and samples and they kind of find things that work. I'm not so much that way, I organise my samples and what I know works in a way that I know I can find them so if I have something in my head I can usually get there right away. It's not so much of just sitting there going through stuff to see if it works. If I do a remix, I have a process where I listen to the parts and keep what I like, change what I don't like. But with production it's a little more free. Sometimes I really don't know whats going to come out. I'll just have a few basic ideas and then from that, good things happen.
Back in 2010, you made a cassette only release, what made you choose cassettes as your format at that time and what do you find particularly attractive about them?
It's funny now that I'm doing the first of the Panorama/Berghain mix series where it's gone all digital. That's this side of the spectrum and that's the complete other side with the tapes. Tapes are just cool, I mean, when I first started Djing, you made a mixtape, that's how you did it, and it was one go, no edits and boom there it was. They are just cool, it's a little bit like a blast from the past. Kind of nostalgic.
Your sound is very basseline driven and this marks a clear distinction to it, now being a basslover myself, what is the quality of it that connects you to bass or is it just what u prefer to hear or play?
My favourite tracks are always the ones that have a really heavy or cool bassline. Basslines are what make people dance, basslines are what make people scream in a club. I think its kind of like the foundation for house and techno, at least for me. You can really express a lot with a really good bassline. I like it because it makes me dance and it makes people dance, it's that simple.
Apart from Panorama and Berghain where else have you enjoyed playing at?
Rex club and Concrete, those have always been really good for me. Right now Italy is doing really really good, there's lots of parties going on. All of the UK I love playing in and I play there often. UK people really understand the whole spectrum of electronic music and because I like to have a variety in my sets I enjoy playing there. Also, I had a really good show in Hong Kong last fall. I don't really have a specific sound and I don't think that's a bad thing, I think this allows me to enjoy playing anywhere and everywhere.
How is Detroit different to Berlin and what made you move there?
Detroit is my hometown, there's still a lot of really amazing music and great producers coming from there. But everyone knows about the troubles Detroit has had in the last 30 years, there's just not a lot going on there anymore. Maybe I'm biased, but I think the Detroit festival is one of the best festivals there is and if you come during that time there's all kinds of good parties. But there's not so many good parties the rest of the year, not so many clubs anymore. I moved to Berlin because I had a strong connection Ostgut Ton already and I have a lot of friends here and It just felt really natural. The first time I came and played in Berlin 7 or 8 years ago, I was really surprised at how similar Detroit and Berlin felt although most parts don't look alike. There's a lot thats different about Berlin and Detroit but they are really similar in the sense that they both have this rough, honest feeling about who they are. I felt really at home here, so the transition wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.
How do you feel about playing in London at the Secretsundaze event? Are you familiar with the crew and have you played for them before?
I'm completely familiar with them although I haven't played for them before. I always loved their parties, them as DJs, their label. I'm super excited as it's my first time playing for them. Also I think the new Joey Anderson album is amazing, I've always been a fan of Martyn and Steffi is one of my favourite DJs and I like what James and Giles play too so I'm really excited about it.
-We're excited about it too!
With several exclusive tracks coming up is there anything you’d like to share about them or will they be a well kept secret until July 6th ?
Hahaha, we're not saying who yet, we're going to let that marinate for a little bit, but its all done. They'll be 2 EPs, there will be 5 tracks on each EP and there's tracks from some of my old heroes, there's tracks from really new artists that some people probably haven't even heard of. There's tracks from some bigger DJs and some from other Ostgut artists. It's a combination of techno and house stuff, deep, ambient some dub. Across the 2 EPs I picked stuff the same way I play so, yeah, there's lots of good music :)
-And good music is what matters most!
To hear some of that good music... catch Ryan Elliott play at The Laundry, a new basement venue just a 10 minute walk away from Oval Space, a venue which may be virgin territory for many but it will surely blow your brains away for the nightime session for Secretsundaze
Click HERE for more information on the event
Written by: Thalia Agroti