Thursday, 18 December 2008

In Love Tempo

Tricky Disco crew member Christophe - one of Bristol's finest DJs, charity shop crate digger supreme, hardcore party animal and graphic designer to the stars - has launched his own blog. It's Called Love Tempo and it's rather good. For starters it features a hot array of mixes from Chris himself, which are always essential downloads. His latest mix is particularly good. There's also some mixes from Futureboogie/Seen leg end Joe 90.

Head over there by clicking here >>

Friday, 12 December 2008

Tricky DiscoMix: Sell By Dave's 2nd Seasonal Selection

It wouldn't be Christmas at TD Towers without the obligatory "Seasonal Selection" from yours truly. These mixes tend to feature no Christmas-specific music of any description, instead offering a mix of the new and old, forthcoming bits and the odd unreleased gem. This year's effort is no exception. Like last year's mix, it was put together pretty much on the spot with no forward planning. Hopefully it feels a bit spontaneous - that's the idea.

Tracklist wise, it boasts a mix of some of my recent faves - The Revenge, that Aeroplane mix of Friendly Fires, Downtown Party Network – some classics (Metro Area, Pet Shop Boys, Kelley Polar) – and a heavy dollop of unreleased/forthcoming fare. Look out in particular for the soon-to-be-hyped Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve version of Franz Ferdinand, Mungolian Jet Set's rejected remix of Tough Alliance (never to be released, the Mungs tell us) and a cheeky dab of deep disco house from Ron Basejam's 2009 solo debut. Stylistically there's chugging slo-mo house, nudisco, Italo-pop and more besides. Hopefully you'll find it entertaining - I had fun drunkenly putting it together.

1. Intro/Ron Basejam - Fear (unreleased)
2. BBE - Be Mine (Still Love 4 Music)
3. The Revenge - Night Flight (Jiscomusic)
4. Friendly Fires - Paris [Aeroplane Remix] (XL)
5. Metro Area - Caught Up (Environ)
6. Downtown Party Network - Days Like These [Vocal Version] (Eskimo Recordings)
7. Holy Ghost! – Hold On [Mock & Toof Remix] (DFA)
8. Tough Alliance - A New Chance [Mungolian Jet Set's Rejected Remix] (unreleased)
9. The Glimmers & Pete Herbert - No Head (Diskimo)
10. Franz Ferdinand - Ulysses [Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve Interpretation] (Domino)
11. The Flirts - Helpless [DITS v Orlando Edit] (Disco Exotique)
12. Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls [DJ Hell Remix] (Parlophone)
13. Kelley Polar - The Rooms In My House Have So Many Parties (Environ)

Download here >>

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Winter Warmers

Apologies to those who've been loitering around here recently, only to be met with the same content we uploaded back in October. This time we have an excellent excuse - Team TD were down in Australia sunning ourselves, playing records (thanks to Neil at A Disco Stole My Baby in Sydney) and generally enjoying life on the other side of the world. Now we're back and intend to make up for it over coming weeks with a hot selection of mixes, articles, opinion, interviews and random nonsense. Business as usual, then.

Since our arrival back on British shores, the weather has been irritatingly cold and frosty – so much so, in fact, that we've taken to wearing thick orange Arran sweaters, wooly socks and those middle aged slippers they flog in M&S. Don't judge us - it's a practical thing.

Luckily, we've found a few musical gems lately that have warmed us like a steaming mug of mulled wine. Perhaps most worthy of praise is Moonboots & Balearic Mike's 'Originals' comp on Mudd's Claremont 56 label. We've always been big fans of Mudd (inviting him down to play at our party in a boozer last year, playing his records, telling everyone what a thoroughly nice chap he is etc), Moon and Mike, and 'Originals' really is a marriage made in heaven. A proper CD comp (which, incidentally, is also available digitally 'for tha kids'), it features a heart-warming selection of quality Bally-eric tuneage hand-picked by Manchester's finest vinyl-hoarding dad DJs. We have to admit to being a bit clueless when it comes to the origin of most of the material – a mix of long-forgotten Balearic fodder and new material – but we can tell you it's a fantastic selection. It's delightfully eclectic, moving from dubby sunset Balearica (Band Aid's 'A Tour In Italy') and off-kilter electronic European pop (Byron's 'Too Much', the ecentric Italian stylings of Radio Band's 'Radio Rap') to piano-tastic 80s grooves ('Dance' by The Night S-Press), spooky late night fare (Bdum Bdum Sound) and lilting acoustica (Mountaineer, 5th National, Smith & Mudd). Although largely downtempo, it's about as far from 'standard' chill out fodder as you can get – honestly, it's an essential purchase in our eyes. Head over to the Claremont 56 website to buy a CD >>. There are only 800 available, so act fast!

Also wholeheartedly warming our cockles this month is the latest collection from the DJHistory camp - that's renowned writers Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. The duo have been putting out some good digital-only fare lately - the SWAG best-off, for starters - but their latest venture is easily their best comp yet. 'Le Disco - Tele Music Remixed' rescues a load of old library music by some of French disco's best players and gets it touched up for modern discoid dancefloors. This basically means re-edits - and the odd 'proper' remix - of exceedingly obscure, little-heard disco tuneage by the likes of the Idjuts, Faze Action, Toby Tobias, Ray Mang, Al Kent, Mudd and the Unabombers. It's got to be hot, right? Yep. From what we can gather the majority of the edits are pretty reverential, with contributors simply rearranging the excellent source material with the odd dancefloor tweak. It's an approach that pays dividends, with each of the ten edits feeling both authentically swinging and deliciously playable. Being Brewster and Broughton, you also get a PDF boasting full sleeve notes, a history of Tele Music's players (many better known for things like Voyage, Cerrone and Arpydys) and a load of information you never knew about French disco. Yes, it's download only, but at 8 quid for 320 MP3s or 9 quid for the WAVs, you can't argue. Heartily recommended. If you're interested in downloading it for yourself, soundclips and such are available at >>

We've also been getting our long johns in a twist about the most recent Aeroplane material (but, hey, who hasn't?) and the forthcoming solo effort from Ron Basejam, AKA Crazy P's Jim Baron. As far as we know Jim's not found a home for it yet, though talks are underway. We hope it finds a home, as it really is rather lovely - a frostbite-slaying mixture of groovesome discofunk, deep house and fireside dancefloor grooves. It's called 'Deep & Meaningless' - look out for it in the Spring.

Right, best dash. Expect some new mixes very soon, including the first ever Thumbs Aloft mixtappe and a seasonal selection from that pesky bearded chump Sell By Dave. Yowzers!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Tricky DiscoMix: RUNAWAY (Rekids/DFA/Wurst Edits, NYC)

Back in January, Tricky Disco headed to New York City for a frenzied weekend running around the Big Apple, meeting as many DJs and producers as possible. Our task was to investigate the state of the NYC disco scene, which many had said was undergoing something of a renaissance thanks to the likes of Hercules and Love Affair. Whether it is or not is open to much debate - views differ amongst the small disco community in NYC, for starters - but that's for another day. While we were there, we called in on Wurst Edits chief My Cousin Roy. Hanging out in his Lower East Side apartment, we were surprised to come across one Jacques Renault, sometime DJ partner of DFA Records' Justin Miller, building a set of shelves in Roy's bedroom-come-studio. We exchanged edits CDs, and Jacques filled us in on his forthcoming releases. We thought little of it, until a few months later Rekids sent us a sneaky upfront CD of a piano-heavy house track called 'Brooklyn Club Jam' by Runaway - Jacuqes and studio buddy Marcos Cabral.

Since then, 'Brooklyn Cub Jam' has become a bit of a slow-burn anthem. It's finally out on DFA and Rekids (the former licensing it off the latter and getting new mixes from Brennan Green and others). To celebrate this fact, we thought it was about time we got Jacuqes and Marcos to do us a mix… and answer some questions. So they have, putting us together an exclusive live house mix-up (with the odd dash of disco and techno). We're grateful for them for doing it for us (and especially Hacques for answering our inane questions), as soon they'll have pretty much no spare time - check the interview below for details of all of their forthcoming projects. Incidentally, there's no tracklist for the mix, but expect a blend of European and US house old and new, with a distinct dubby finish and more than a nod and a wink to disco.

Download TrickyDisco Mix: Runaway's Brooklyn Bounce >>


So chaps, how's life in New York? It looks like you're the busiest men in the world right now, with umpteen gigs a week, numerous records on the go, remixes etc etc. Do you ever find time to sleep?
"Yes, we've been busy and working on a lot of music for the past year so we're happy to see everything coming out! New York this time of year is fantastic. Summer's over so everyone's back and doing stuff in the city. There's some new spots in the city and it's hard to leave New York but we're planning trips abroad and looking forward to it!

Most of our readers will know little about Runaway, though may have heard 'Brooklyn Club Jam' and your edits on Wurst. How did you guys first get together and what inspired you to head into the studio?
"We met early 2000 @ Marcos' record store, Sonic Groove (R.I.P.). We've always had similar tastes in the new and the old, even had a club night together on different floors. I knew Marcos was familiar in the studio as he had a few releases on Trapez, so when I switch from Protools to Ableton Live I asked him to come over and show me a few tricks. We made a few tracks together and our Wurst release was born. We've been working together since.

You hold various DJ residencies around New York, and seem to play almost twice-weekly. If we were to head over to NYC right now and check out one of your sets, what would we be likely to hear? What's inspiring you musically right now?
"There's no room for sleepers in New York. You'll hear us mixing up Disco and House, classics and the new, and nothing too dark to scare the anyone away. Good times party music, that's why we play all the time in New York and abroad. That's the inspiration, going elsewhere and seeing how other cities react and taking that with you back to New York. It works out quite well."

You both have quite different musical histories and inspirations… is that the key to the success of Runaway? How does it manifest itself in the studio?
"Yes, exactly Marcos comes from a freestyle/chicago house/techno background as I come from a classical / post-punk / disco background. We work really well together, bringing different sounds and ideas in to the studio. We like the same feeling / vibe so it works. We're hearing different things and consistantly surprise each other in the studio. It's been productive and a lot of fun."

Easily your biggest tune so far has been 'Broooklyn Club Jam', which treads a far housier – and, specifically, typically mid-90s NYC – path than the disco that you were initially known for. So are you really feeling house right now? What inspired you to make a heavy tune like that?
"We love house, we love disco, we love big room tunes too. We make them all. I remember the afternoon we made that track very well. It was last summer on a Saturday afternoon. We were feeling great and we're like "let's make a big tune." we got working quick with a few ideas and "Brooklyn Club Jam" was born."

Rather shamelessly, we love pianos in house music – and the pianos in 'Brooklyn Club Jam' are sweet. How do you feel about pianos in house? Should the revival start here or should house pianos be consigned to history?
"Are you kidding? Pianos will NOT rest. We're happy to join the resurgence of piano house!"

You seem to have a lot of releases in the pipeline. What can we expect musically from Runaway in the next six months?
""Brooklyn Club Jam" will be out on DFA with a Brennan Green mix in October, followed by "Putting in the Overtime" on I'm A Cliche, our 2nd release on Cosmo Vitelli's label. We've got a new Chinatown 12", another Wurst 12", and remixes for the upcoming Confuzed Techno series on Mantra Vibes, Jackpot on Service/Permanent Vacation and LCD Soundsystem for 45:33. Early next year you'll see our official "New York Disco" mix CD for Rekids."

This tune you've got coming up on Chinatown… that sounds interesting.What can we expect from that?
"It's a great track called "Alberg 30" with Brennan Green's version on the flip called "Alberto Triente." It's very "special" and we're happy to join the Chinatown roster with that one :)."

We're also excited about this mix CD for Rekids. What can we expect to hear?
"The mix CD is going to be a taste of what Marcos & I have been playing along with some personal favourites so it will have some classic NYC disco, house, techno and some new jams too."

You seem to be an integral part of the DFA crew these days, DJing with the guys and even releasing records on the label. Do you think you'll put out more material on DFA in future?
"Yes, for sure. Marcos & I have been working on tracks for our labels and it's only a matter to find the proper home for the music. We're working on something special for DFA too."

Speaking of DFA, we see you've remixed '45.33'. When the hell are those mixes coming out? We've been waiting so long we've actually wet our pants!
"Yeah, it's been a big project but it will be well worth the wait! Hopefully in early 2009."

It would be wouldn't be an interview with a UK blog if we didn't ask you a bit about what's happening in New York right now. From the outside there seems to be a buzz about disco again. Is this a fair summary, or are we getting over-excited again?
"It's totally fair, as New York has some great talent these days doing things and making it special. You can tell there's a buzz all over the city as you hear it more and more in the places you love and then the places you wouldn't even expect."

Listening to some of your forthcoming material, there seems to be a real space and dubbiness to proceedings, and a sound which seems to fuse elements of disco, house and techno. Are you both heavily inspired by dubbier forms of dance music?
"Dub is a big influence indeed; in the music we make and the music we play."

Do you like to make your DJ sets equally dubby? That's a real NYC trait…
|You can definitely hear our influence in our sets. We like to use added effects and get playful with the EQs to keep it fun and interesting."

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?
"2009 is looking good, expect to hear a lot more Runaway!"

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Tricky DiscoMix: Vast & Bulbous present I FEEL SPACE

We haven't treated the TD faithful to a new mix for a while, so we thought we'd share this one we were given from fast-rising Bristol duo VAST & BULBOUS.

The pair are residents and promoters at I FEEL SPACE, a student-friendly disco, Italo and cosmic party that takes place at our regular best before: base, The Bank. They've also thrown parties at Native and will soon be making their debut at Timbuk2, with a Thursday night bash later this month.

This promo mix for I Feel Space boasts a bunch of their fave tracks, taking in DFA style disco wonk, Italo, electrofunk, classic disco, lo-slung electro, tech-house and even the odd bit of Yes. It's good fun and well worth a listen. Enjoy!

Tricky DiscoMix: Vast & Bulbous present I Feel Space >>

1. Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - Pena [Reprise]
2. Holy Ghost! - Hold On (Mock and Toof Remix) [DFA]
3. Popular People's Front - Ron & On & On [PPF]
4. Hot Chip - Over and Over (Maurice Fulton Dub) [DFA]
5. David Keaton - Space Patrol [Cosmic Dancer]
6. Escape From New York - Save Our Love (DITS Dub) [Disco Exotique]
7. Yes - Owner of a Lonely Heart [ATCO]
8. Zoexenia - Nu [Connaisseur]
9. Tim Paris - Widow Diskow [Marketing]
10. !!! - Intensify (Sunracapellectroshit Mix) [Warp]
11. Mark Shreeve - Assassin [Supersound]
12. Gaz Nevada - Special Agent Man (Female Version) [Vintage]
13. Brooklyn, Bronx & Queens - Dreamer (Dub Version) [Cooltempo]
14. Rufus & Chaka Khan - Ain't Nobody (Frankie Knuckles Bassapella) [WEA]
15. Candi Staton - Nights On Broadway [Old Gold]
16. MIA - Paper Planes (DFA Remix) [XL]
17. Tommy Walker - Sure As [Dissident]
18. Li'l Bo Tweak - Got Dat Bass [Loungin']
19. Dexter - Echt Vet! [Clone]
20. Casionova - The Visionary [Cyber Dance]
21. Dee D Jackson - Meteor Man [Mercury]
22. Ivan - Fotonovella [CBS]
23. Ghecko - Firelight (Flemming Dalum Edit) [Flexx]

Monday, 29 September 2008

Horse Meat Disco in Bristol

Last Friday Jim and James from Horse Meat Disco made their debut in Bristol, as best before: hosted the second room at Wonky at Warehouse. It was a terrific party - a wonderfully up-for-it and open-minded crowd, keen on dancing all night to quality disco records. Jim and James played a blinder, too. Here's some video footage we took on the night of the boys in action.

Friday, 19 September 2008


This week, German house/techno producer STEFAN GOLDMANN released his debut album, a double CD set comprising the dancefloor-centric ‘Transistory State’ and experimental ‘Voices Of The Dead’. While the former conatins all the comforting club-friendly goodness we’ve come to expect from the man behind ‘Sleepy Hollow’ and ‘Lunatic Fringe’, the latter boasts something we’ve not heard much from Goldmann – edgy, unsettling, beatless experiments in the Stockhausen ‘electroacoustic’ style. We thought that warranted a bit of a chat…

So Stefan, how are you?
“Oh, I’m well. A bit busy because of the album releases coming up. It’s basically all just interviews at the moment.”

Your new album comes on two discs, one of which, ‘Voices Of The Dead’, is a series of beatless, ‘electroacoustic’ experiments. Do you think people are more open to beatless, experimental music these days?
“I wasn’t sure before I actually tried to do it, because very few people seemed to have done things without a beat for the last few years, but now the response is really good. I think people have been missing something for the last couple of years. Just from the response I’ve had, I think the time seems to be right.”

Certainly, there does seem to have been a bit of a revival of experimental, beatless electronic music of late. Throughout the 90s there seemed to be lots out there - we think of Pete Namlook and those guys - but then it seemed to disappear. Perhaps it was there but we weren’t paying attention…
“I think maybe it wasn’t really there for us because a lot of the so-called ‘chill out rooms’ at parties and festivals seemed to disappear. Also, on the techno/house labels people stopped producing and releasing material like that because it was considered a financial risk. The rooms for that kind of music didn’t exist in the house and techno scene, and that might be a reason. I really don’t know where this stuff has been performed for the last eight years.”

Occasional dedicated experimental events, we assume…
“Maybe, yes. It’s great that Berghain have decided to feature this music in their club, which is a pure techno club usually. Maybe we can get things back together again.”

What inspired you to make a beatless album?
“Well, I have been experimenting for some years with music which doesn’t have beats. I didn’t have a proposal to do that for a label, and I had to think about how I could give it a form, because usually a lot of drone/experimental stuff is just noise. I searched for myself for ways to structure it in a way that would make sense to me. What I came up with is to employ this wave producing msuic for tasks which are something out of my musical fantasy. Like how could something sound which is not actually possible to do. What I was trying here is to think which elements of music have been around for all times, ever since music began. You can’t fit that onto one CD, but you can try ato find a way to get close to the fantasy and the idea of how that would sound. This is what I was trying to do – to imagine which sound elements are universal really. It’s a bit too big to really produce that, but it is a point to try and aim your work at. This is the result I could come up with. It’s very personal.”

A lot of those who are familiar with your work will be DJs. How do you think they’ll react to ‘Voices Of The Dead’? Is this something you worry about?
“Not really. A lot of producers, labels and Djs underestimate what people will be interested in. I know a lot of people who go to the clubs complain that the music sounds all the same. I have played experimental sets in the opening few hours at Fabric and Panaramabar, and people react very positively to it. This encourages me to do something which is not 126-128 BM and have the hi hat between the kick drums. You can do stuff that people will find interesting when they encounter it in a club, it’s just that labels were scared off doing it without trying it. Now I am doing it – I just hope it works out.”

It’s certainly an interesting album to listen to. At times it can be… not quite hard work, but certainly unsettling and discordant.
“My friend called it ‘Zombie ambient’.”

That’s a good description. From reading other interviews you’ve done, you seem to be at pains to point out that it’s not ambient…
“Yes. Usually my association with ambient is harmonies and chords and pads. I really tried to avoid terminated harmony where people can say ‘this is an E Minor chord’. Ambient isn’t a word that fits this album.”

Possibly because the connotations surrounding the word/genre are very ‘new age’ and floaty. ‘Voices of the Dead’ is not like that. It’s a lot darker.
“I really like darkness”

There’s some darkness in your dancefloor material as well, but plenty of interesting elements going on. Even when it’s dark it’s not claustrophobic, which ‘Voices Of The Dead’ maybe is. Is it true that this album is the first of a trilogy?
“Yes. This will take some years to come, actually. The idea of the trilogy was to do things that go beyond what people expect from a dance music producer. It will always be like these impossible to realise tasks. I have an idea for the second one – I am more uncertain about the third one. I think it will take me some years to do that one.”

We’ll come back to you in five years then…
“I am hoping to be able to finish the second one in a couple of years, maybe the third one in five years.”

Making this sort of experimental music requires different skills and processes than if you were making music for the dancefloor, doesn’t it?
“Yes, definitely. The thing is, when you do a record for the dancefloor you have a structure in mind. So you have a beat intro for the DJs to mix it in. Then after a minute and a half you have the bassline coming in, or a melody or chord, whatever makes the tune besides the beat, then an outro. When you lose that structure, you have to come up with new structures and work out how to build a track. How to just arrange elememts. You can easily get lost in that if you have just been doing dance music before. People who decide just to produce an ambient track, they end up doing a house track without the beats – so they have the same structure, appeggioed stuff and so on. I think it’s kind of funny. When you have somebody coming from a totally different field and doing dance music, you would often think ‘this guy has no idea of how this sounds in a club or how house music is done’, but when house producers go the opposite way they often don’t think enough about it. It takes time to build up the skills to compose experimental music.”

Is it something you’ve been developing for a while, then?
“Yes, sure.”

How long would you say?
“I think I started like seven years ago or something.”

So, even when you were doing material for Classic and Ovum, you would be producing house records, and then making experimental music on the side?
“Yes. I just couldn’t find a label willing to release the stuff back in the day. I had one track, ‘Turret’, which Richie Hawtin used on his ‘DE9 Transitions’ album in about 2001, but that’s it. So this album has taken seven or eight years to produce.”

It sounds like this is something that’s really important to you.
“Yes. But I don’t separate things too much. Often I do some research and at some point see which sounds will fit into a house track and which would make a wonderful experimental track. In the initial process of doing sound research it is not a different thing for me, but when it comes to building the track or arranging it, then it becomes an issue.”

You’vce described this style of music and methhodology as ‘electroacoustic’. It’s not our specialty, so what does this entail?
“Actually, this is probably the word that will replace ‘ambient’. Normally if a track has no beat they say ‘ambient’. Basically Mika Vainio of Panasonic is one of the people who calls his music ‘electroacoustic’, but actually the term is a lot older – 1940s. It’s related to, though wouldn’t link myself to, these academic electroacoustic producers like Stockhausen. I have been aware of these all my life. Also, I studied here in Berlin at the Institute of Technology, where they have a huge ‘electroacoustic studio’ which is designed specifically to make that music. It means it’s just made for speakers. There are no microphone inputs. It cost several million euros to build. The only sound sources they have are synthesized. They just don’t use microphones and produce music for speakers. Within that tradition, production techniques involved making music in a studio without microphone input.”

So there’s a lot of making your own sounds…
“I never use presets, even in a dance music context.”

We came across someone recently – it may have been Jacopo Carreras – who was very into using mathematical equations to make his own sounds. I guess that comes with the territory…
“There are a lot of compositional techniques which come from that background, including using statistics and mathematics formulas to get really weird sounds out of synthesizers, basically. You can go into any direction with your research, but what’s more important is how it sound. People often tell you they have programmed their own algorhythms to get a sound, but at the end of the day how does it sound? How will it relate to people’s perceptions somehow?”

This ‘electroacoustic’ music is something you’re obviously passionate about. Are you still passionate about making dancefloor music?
“Oh yes, sure. The really important thing about dancefloor music to me is that there is a social space where it happens – this amazing club scene all around the world. This is something that no other music had 40 or 50 years ago. For a relatively small style of music you have DJs booked from here to Japan. All around the world you have this club structure. I even played in Botswana recently. This is something so unique. I really love that you have places where people enjoy this music and so relate to it. It’s such an important part of people’s live. This is something that really has value, and I really enjoy aiming my music at that. It’s not a commercial move to say ‘if I do house music I have a market to sell to’ – it is something I really enjoy.”

What do you think of where techno and house are headed right now?
“This is a hard one. Maybe I think that ‘tool’ approach to records is dying. Of course, you still have hundreds of records a month which sound all the same, which is just a looped beat out of Ableton, but these records sell less and less every week. At some point these sales will drop so far that it won’t make sense to even press it to a limited edition of 300 copies or something. People will just get tired of going to a club and listening to one loop all night. This is not saying minimal is dead or whatever, because you have this structure in any sub-genre of house and techno – you have loopy deep house records with the same chord going for five minutes. Music that is done by a strict formula has no future. A lot of producers are starting again to push the boundaries and find their individual sound, because it’s the only thing that has a future – tracks that have a personality and something indivdual about them. This is the only way to stand out from the inflation of anonymous records which are released every week.”

This is a problem which has been compounded by the fact that almost anyone can release their own records on Beatport or wherever…
“The thing is, millions of people play football, but how many can you see on television in the Champions League? What’s happened with dance music is that everyone is playing Champions League. Access to the market was just too easy. People have the feeling now that they didn’t need to do much to get a record out and be stacked next to Carl Craig in the record shop. This doesn’t work. It wouldn’t be a problem if everyone could have their success and have their tracks out digitally, but Beatport are trying to cut down. People want to make music and spread it somehow. Nobody should have the right to say that you can’t share your music with people, but if that is just done over the internet, sending tracks to mates, that is cool. But you have to raise awareness with people that putting out vinyl is something altogether different. After putting out three or four records that sell 150 units each, people usually get the message that losing £1000 per release has no future. But there are so many people trying.”

It’s interesting what you say about identikit music. There is an argument that says that it’s down to Djs who play in clubs not to play those bog standard, functional records. Really, they are the problem…
“That’s also a problem. DJs are also producers at some point. How do you start out as a DJ these days? Of course you can play at a friend’s party, but at some point everyone who DJs will start a label just to promote his DJ name. That’s why there are so many labels who release a record every two weeks. It’s not because they have some great records, but because they are a DJ and they need the label to get their name out. This is one of the reasons why there are so many low quality records about. Maybe if promoters thought more about what music was on the labels – yes, this DJ has a label, but is it what we want to hear in our club? There are just so many people DJing, what criteria do we book them into the club. Nobody has the masterplan, this is the problem.”

We’re interested in what you’re doing with your label Macro and the ‘Prototype’ series. We were really into the Pepe Bradock version of the Pete Namlook track. So, what’s the idea of the series?
“There is this big group of people who dig cosmic disco or Italo, and they always go for some style from 1982 or something. I thought it would be interesting to search for the records that stand out on their own and don’t lose their quality at all. There are such records. This Namlook track is from 1994 – it sounds like it could have been released now, and it doesn’t sound like any other track I know. I’m basically just searching for tracks that stand out in individually and quality, and coupling them with remixes by the most interesting producers of the moment. Ricardo Villalobos has done the remix for the second one.”

Friday, 12 September 2008

TD interviews… MORGAN GEIST

This month Morgan Geist releases his first solo album in 11 years, 'Double Night Time'. Featuring vocal contributions from Jeremy Greenspan of the Junior Boys, it's the Environ Records lynchpin's attempt at a proper, grown up electronic pop album. We think it's pretty stunning, if truth be told, and thought it was about time we dropped MG a line to find out more. Below is the transcription of our email interview. Enjoy…

This is your first solo album for 11 years. So, why the decade-long pause between drinks?
"I’d say the dominating factor was fear, really. Lots of self-doubt and worry that things aren’t good enough, and fear of the permanence of releasing an album to the public. You can’t retract or edit or revise, and perfectionists want to do that all the time. That’s the folly of perfectionism – it’s not even like perfectionism makes the album better! It just delays completion. I kept starting and stopping, discarding songs, changing directions.
But there were also just practical matters, like not having enough time – I run the label by myself, I was doing Metro Area, I was producing and mixing Kelley Polar. I was doing remixes and touring. Part of having a label with other artists on it besides yourself is the tendency stop paying attention to your own career while developing the business and the rest of the roster."

‘Double Night Time’ seems to be quite a personal record for a number of reasons. What inspired you personally to make an album like this?
"I think I’ve always been attracted to pop music, and as I get older I want to make good pop music. I wanted to explore lyric writing and vocals. It’s quite a trite, predictable development as a musician gets older, I think. I was also struggling with a lot of problems while making the record, and it’s hard to get the emotion out sometimes just doing dance music. I also find dance music pretty conservative and boring, especially for a genre that prides itself on inclusion, open-mindedness and experimentation. I think that’s a self-perpetuated fiction most of the time, and I tend to call that out a lot, or bitch about how lame and boring I find most new dance music. I think doing a record like this one, a record that wasn’t caring much about DJs or dancefloors, was my way of expressing that opinion musically."

One of the things we like about the album is the seeming interplay between the upbeat and the melancholic. Is this a reflection of how you were feeling when you made the album?
"Yes, definitely. Thank you for noticing this. I love the interplay between those elements. It’s an easy trick to add depth. Think of “Walk On By” - with other lyrics, that might be a sweet, simple love song; indeed, maybe it would even border on just being a joyous song without those lyrics. But with the sad story the lyrics tell, it’s just turning up the depth and dissonance between message and sound. I love that! And yes, I think it’s a reflection of how I was feeling while I made the album. Public self-reflection is potentially embarrassing, maybe even something you’ll regret – you have to temper it a bit with contrast and contradiction. So my depressing, introspective approach was tempered with snappy 808 patterns."

‘Double Night Time’ is a very different beast from ‘The Driving Memoirs’, shot through with a strong electronic ‘technno-pop’ feel. Are you a big fan of smart electronic pop? Has it always been an important musical influence for you?
"Yes, I am when it’s done right. I thought I was stuck in the 80s with my memories of New Order, OMD, YMO, Pet Shop Boys, even Alphaville or (this is terrifying) Erasure when I was younger. Remember, this shit was considered weird in the US, it wasn’t all mainstream like in the UK! Kraftwerk, YMO...I love that stuff. I also loved truly weird electronic pop too, like Severed Heads, who were one of my most important influences (more philosophically than sonically). But then a new band like Junior Boys comes along with all of those influences minus (I feel) a lot of the detrimental, cheesier elements, and I like that too. I hope there are more young, new bands doing fantastic, smart pop that appeals to me. I feel like a lot of people are just doing referential, ironic stuff. Lame. Put some feeling in it!"

Those following your career closely won’t be surprised by any of the contents of ‘Double Night Time’, but some of those who’ve only heard Metro Aarea may be. How do you think the album will be received? Do you care?
"I’d love to say, “I don’t care.” But the truth is I care somewhat. I am not going to change the music I make simply because I want an album to be liked. I’ll do what I want. However, I’m not going to pretend I would be unaffected if everyone ignored it. That would be the worst. If everyone hated it, it might be depressing, but at least hatred is a reaction. Of course I’d prefer people just like it. That’s what pop music is, really. Public reaction is really what defines what is pop, right? Otherwise how could “White Lines” or “Fish Heads” or Crazy Frog be considered pop? They’d just sit in their own genres and never be considered pop."

Aside from human vocals and a bit of trumpet on ‘Lullaby’, almost all the album is made up of electronic sounds. Was this something you felt passionate about? Was it an aim of yours to make it as electronic as possible?
"Yes. I wanted it to be distinct from Metro Area, which has lots of live instruments. Metro Area has a human feel, and I wanted this to have that idealistic, early-synth feel of YMO, Logic System, Kraftwerk, mixed with what I felt was contemporary songwriting. I love how you can hear the naïve excitement in those early synth-pop records, where you just know people are having fun with the studio. I guess I was also being a bit reactionary. I wanted to feel versatile and not just do a Metro Area record with vocals. Detailed, precise music spills out of me a bit more easily than the Metro Area stuff. I like making crafted records, as Kelley Polar might say. So it was nice to go back to that."

Speaking of vocals, the songs with Jeremy Greenspan work wonderfully well – it’s almost like he has the perfect voice for this kind of warm electronic pop. Do you think that’s a fair assessment? Do you think the songs would have worked as well with another vocalist? Could you imagine anyone else singing the same vocals?
"I could imagine someone else singing the vocals, but I don’t think they’d work like Jeremy did. Jeremy has a voice I really like, but his feeling, or the mood of his vocals, something... it just fit. I knew I wouldn’t have to explain the approach to him. Plus it’s fun to work together. We have very similar senses of humour, and I learned a lot from working with him."

Lyrically the album is interesting, and like a lot of classic techno-pop/synth-pop the songs seem to fuse quite personal, often melancholic/introspective musings on relationships with fairly upbeat music. Was that something you were conscious of?
"Yes, it was something I was conscious of. Unfortunately I was conscious of everything! Although I grew up with that interplay (I’m just thinking of a lot of Vince Clark stuff, Yaz...where there’s almost a disconnect between the electronic backing and some intimate vocal on top, which sounds like it fell onto the music by accident) and I’m sure that influence made itself known subconsciously while I was creating the music."

Speaking of the lyrics, am I right in thinking that you wrote the majority of them yourself? If so, how did you find this? Is it something you’ve done much of before?
"I wrote everything but “City of Smoke & Flame.” It’s terrifying. It’s difficult. I tended to want to express really complex, detailed ideas, or say too much in one song. It was as if I’d forgotten everything I learned while making instrumental music, which is that less can be more, or that there is an undeniable elegance in simple ideas. The lyrics are at about 50% of what I wanted. I hope to improve. But I still think they’re good enough, and man, the bar is set pretty fucking low in pop right now."

Was it a difficult album to make? How did you get the sound so rich? It’s an incredibly “full” sound, even though there’s plenty of space in the mix and lots of subtle fills, sounds etc.
"It wasn’t technically difficult. It was just emotionally and creatively difficult. Technically, I just do what I always do, but maybe a bit more neatly and carefully. I also was really into stacking simple sounds to make complex ones. I had a semi-modular synth, some really complex stuff, but I kept reverting to using simple monosynths and stacking the sounds and arranging as if each sound was its own instrument or section. I am pretty meticulous, much to the displeasure of people I collaborate with, so I’m glad you can hear all the work and that there is something positive coming out of that! People seem to like the way the album sounds, which is really important to me, especially in this day of making music so that it sounds good on a cell phone. Again, the bar is pretty fucking low."

On a more nerdy tip, is that your voice on ‘Nocebo’, because the harmonising has a very Kelley Polar feel to it…
"It has a Kelley Polar feel because he is the one doing the vocals. I wrote the line and he sang it, but then of course added all of this brilliant stacked harmony to it that I could play with. He also does some textural vocal work on “Palace Life"."

How long did the album take to produce? Was it a real intense labour of love?
"It was labour. It was more obsession than love. It was made in a tough time, over the course of three or four years. Under different circumstances I could have made it in a fraction of the time. If I don’t quit music completely, the next one will definitely be more fun and a labour of love once again."

'Double Night Time' is released by Environ on September 26

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

TD salutes… DIYNAMIC

As deep/tech house label Diynamic prepare to release their first compilation, we talk to co-owner SOLOMUN (right) about soul, deepness and the state of the house scene…

We’ve always been fans of proper deep house here at Tricky Towers, so it’s nice to see the genre getting some decent props at long last. It wasn’t all that long ago that admitting a love of melody-driven, emotion-rich deep house was a major fashion faux-pas. Not that this ever worried us, of course – we’re all about as fashionable as a button-up M&S cardigan – but it must have been frustrating to those who produce and play the stuff for a living.

There is certainly a strong argument to say that interest waned in deep house because it got a bit, well, dull. I used to buy and play deep house all the time, but got turned off by the glut of identikit, supposedly ‘soulful’ 12s that began to flood the market. I like a nice bit of jazz as much as the next bearded nerd, but there are only so many flute solos and boring Hed Kandi-does-broken beat remixes you can take. No wonder most producers and DJs looked elsewhere for inspiration.

Now deep house is back, back, back! Not that it every truly went away – the Detroit connection, East Midlands soundsystem types and other ‘usual suspects’ kept putting out decent material. The difference now is that there are a whole host of relatively young, enthusiastic, up and coming producers pushing their own take on deep house. Inlfuenced by recent trends in techno and tech-house, they’re coming up with tracks that take the best of tech-house and add an extra-hot dollop of emotion. There are plenty of sweet melodies amognst the bleeps, blips and hypnotic chords, too.

One label that’s consistently been at the forefront of this belated deep house revival is Hamburg’s Diynamic, home to Solomun (part owner with sometime studio compadre Ariano Troillo), Stimming and H.O.S.H, amongst others. The Diynamic sound is far more warm and melodic than, say, Innervisions, but sharper and brighter than some of the Omar S/Theo Parrish style material. There’s space in the mix, but it never gets too sparse – there’s always some musical element to tug at the heart strings or set the pulse racing. Just look at Solomun and Stimming’s ‘Eiszauber’ – the perfect fusion of deep and techy.

In October, Diynamic will release their first compilation, ‘Saturday, I’m In Love’ (no, we’re not sure what they’re on about, either). As you’d expect, there’s a disc of label highlights mixed by Solomun which really sets out the Diynamic agenda. It rounds up two years of releases, treading a fine line between the familiar (the previously mentioned ‘Eiszauber’, H.O.S.H’s ‘Steppenwolf’) and little-known. Perhaps of more interest, though, is the first disc, an unmixed selection of brand new, unreleased cuts.

It’s here that the comp really comes into its own, alloing each of the label’s now familiar artists – and friends – to strut their stuff. As you’d expexpect, there’s some great stuff, much of it exploring the blurred boundaries between tech and deep house. Solomun and Stimming’s opener, ‘Lemniskate’, is a particularly good example of this; icy, haunting and sparse, yet deep and rich, too. Similarly detached is ‘Your Lonely Nites’ by Trickski, someone you’d always rely on to provide suitably hypnotic fodder. There’s plenty of melodic fare, though, too. Take Solar & Poppcke’s quietly anthemic ‘Night Train’ or Jay Shepheard’s ‘Beast Regards’, a midtempo workout that will please nu-disco heads as much as deep housers. The rubbery synth bassline is particularly good. Then there’s the seemingly impossible to pigeonhole efforts of Oslo’s Ost & Kjex. Their ‘Sicksnack’ is just plain bonkers; vocal house from another dimension, complete with Detroit synths, dub harmonica and satisfyingly old skool drums.

It’s a fitting celebration of one of the most on-point house labels of recent times. It’s also a good excuse for us to talk to the label’s totem, Mladen Solomun himself. He’s not an easy man to track down, but he eventually calls us from his cousin’s house via Skype. “I’m in Croatia,” he tells us enthusiastically. “It’s a beautiful country. Here is where my aunt and cousin live. The water’s so clear and everything is perfect. You must come to Croatia!”

It turns out the Bosnia-born German is on holiday, taking a much-earned break. There’s no doubt that he’s earned it – over the last 18 months he’s gone from a virtual unknown to talked-about househead number one. As well as his material on Diynamic, Mladen has released a string of must-hear 12s on Compost, Sonar Kollektiv, Dessous and Four:Twenty. It’s made him the toast of European dancefloors. And so, we reckon, he should be.

“I don’t know about that,” he says modestly. “It’s great if there’s someone outside who loves it. What is important is that I like it, and I’m not always 100 per cent with a track. You know how it is – every artist thinks he can do it better. There are other people who are better.”

Perhaps, but few have had such an impact on a scene that was, as we have discussed, seriously in danger of becoming stale. At times lately it feels like we’ve been drowing under a mountian of boring, soundalike minimal records and snooze-worthy, prog-tinged tech-house. The Solomun/Diynamic sound has been a thrilling antidote to this – a veritable gust of fresh air.

“Over the last three or four years there have been more fans of this sort of music we are making,” Mladen agrees. “It’s very hard to describe what is happening right now. In every track you have a little bit of techno and a little bit from deep house, but what genre it is I don’t know. Whether it’s a tech-house or minimal or house record, it needs a small hook. A bit more harmony and soul. It doesn’t matter whether it’s house or minimal, it needs that hook.”

“Soul is very important to me – it is the number one thing. It could be a techno track or a house track I am making, but it is always important to me that there is soul.”

Soul is most definitely evident on such quietly anthemic outings as Feuervogel (one of many collaborations with his friend Stimming), the string-drenched Samba’ and undeniably big ‘Deadman’. Even defiantly early morning offerings like ‘Beauty & The Beast’ feature an element of funk and soul amongst the rumbling sub bass, aquatic beats and old skool bleeps.

This balance between heavyweight dancefloor pulse, hypnotic rhythms and soulful melody is something Solomun has been working on for a long time, first through years DJing in Hamburg – most notably at his own DIY parties – and latterly in the studio. “I think my sound is a mix of the things I’ve heard over those years, the music I am passionate about and the music I have played. All the stuff I produce has influences from all these things. When I DJ, if it is a good party and I have the chance, I like to play 124 BPM all night. That way there is a lot of space.”

Originally a hip-hop, funk and soul fan with an obsession with breakdance-friendly B-Boy beats, the 32 year-old first fell in love with house and techno in the 1990s after years obsessing over the new wave synth-pop of New Order and Depeche Mode. After re-igniting his passion for DJing eight years ago, he first stepped foot in a studio in 2003: “There was a good friend of mine who had a hjip-hop label. We started working together once a week. At this time I was so full of ideas and I really wanted to produce my own music. For me it was also practice time – I learned so much from my friend. I saved some money to buy my own stuff and from three years ago onwards I spent all my time in the studio to check things out. It was a very massive and important time for me.”

Fired up by spending time in the studio, Mladen teamed up with sometime DJ partner and friend Adriano Trolio to launch Diynamic at the beginning of 2006. Their first release was the ‘Solomun E.P’, a three-tracker featuring collaborations between Mladen, Adriano and Gebruder Ton. Slowly but surely, over the next two years the Diynamic sound took shape, and the label began to grow. More local producers joined the fray, most notably H.O.S.H and Stimming. As well as releasing their own well-received material, each collaborated with the label’s fast-rising front man.

“Working with these guys, it was amazing. Stimming and Hosh are the only people I’d like to produce with, because we have the same opinion about music and the same flow. There are no arguments. It’s my opinion that everything you do in your life, it’s good if you have two or three good friends beside. So I am very lucky that now everything is cool with these guys and we have a nice future altogether. These guys are great - they have the same heart like us and are honest.”

With the compilation due to drop soon, we reckon Solomunn’s stock – and that of friend Stimming and Diynamic as a label – will rise considerably in the next 12 months. So what can we expect, music-wise? “The next release on the label will be a track by Stimming called ‘Una Pena’ with a remix from Argy. After that comes a collaboration between me and Ost & Kjex. It’s also a very funny track. It’s got a Hamburg version and an Oslo version. These guys are crazy. They always have a lot of ideas. Too many ideas for one track!”

And what about you, Mladen, we wonder – is there an album on the way? He’s surprisingly coy on the subject. “I am thinking about an album, of course. I’m hoping next year, maybe winter. First, I need a little bit of a break and when I get back I have some remixes for NRK and King Street, then a release of my own on Diynamic. It is important for us to make the album for Stimming, and we want to do two video clips. I have met some guys who can do it.”

And with that, we let him go and enjoy his holiday – we reckon he’s deserved it.

Monday, 18 August 2008

TD Interviews… HATCHBACK

Last year’s debut Hatchback single, ‘White Diamond’, was undoubtedly one of our favourite singles of 2007. Like mate Dan Judd (best known as Sorcerer), Samuel Milton Grawe makes magical music – star-gazing instrumentals that owe as much to Neu! and David Axelrod as they do to obscure electronic disco and classic European prog rock. With a debut album set to drop in September on Lo Recordings, we thought it was about time we caught up with the man Hatchback

TD: So Sam, what first inspired you to make music? We’re guessing you were playing around with sound long before ‘White Diamond’ came out…
SMG: “Well I’ve been making music for a long time – since I was 14 years old maybe. I’ve always loved music and at an early age, the first time I saw a synthesizer I was fascinated by it. That was when I was maybe five or six, and that was a little Casio. Since then I’ve always loved music. I always loved listening to tapes in my Walkman. I traveled a lot as a kid and that was the thing that you had with you. At high school I really got into progressive rock like Yes and Pink Floyd, and I started making music like that on keyboards and on the computer. After that I got into stuff like Tortoise and Stereolab and Future Sound of London, and started digging more electronic music. Since then I’ve steadily been plugging away making music that sounds good to me. I have influences in the thousands and there’s no one thing. I think you’ll hear it if you listen to the album. There’s not one thing I’m going for, more so I feel like every track is its own little world.I like the way that if you listen to a later Beatles track, every song has its own production universe and sound that they’re going for. That really interests me. Artists now with the way labels are, their albums will have a “hit song” and the rest of the album tries to sound like that. I love those kinds of records where every song sounds a little different, like Simon and Garfunkel or the Beatles, so that’s kind of one thing that influenced me.”

TD: The first track we heard of yours was of course ‘White Diamond’, which was a revelation when it first came out last year. It seemed to fit in with the Balearic/cosmic mood of the moment, despite – we’re guessing – not being directly influenced by either…
SMG: “As far as ‘White Diamond’ goes, I wasn’t trying to do something Italo or Balearic – I’d just been watching the movie ‘The White Diamond’ and I was trying to make a kind of floaty new age track. That’s what happened…”

TD: Lets talk a bit about your debut album, ‘Colors Of The Sun’. Although it’s pretty varied and takes in a lot of influences, it hangs together particularly well. We’d say that was down to the distinct atmosphere you seem to generate. The same could be said for your material with Dan Judd as Windsurf. Does Dan have similar influences to you?
SMG: “Dan I always think of as the Jackson Five, hip hop and R&B music from the 80s, and I’m Pink Floyd and Krautrock, and somewhere in the middle we meet. I think those are the things he came to earlier in life. I love those things now, and he loves krautrock and progressive rock. That was definitely what I was nto when I was 14, 15, and I appreciate a lot more now. We just came from different places to be in the same place.”

TD: We hear from Prins Thomas that there’s a Windsurf album due very soon on Internasjonal?
SMG: “Yes, it’s done. We’re waiting. It’s due any minute.”

TD: That’s Norwegians for you. Mind you, you guys are in California, which is a pretty laidback pace itself…
SMG: “Well, we both have jobs and we do other stuff, so we’re just happy it’s happening. In a way we’re both waiting for albums to come out. The Hatchback album represents maybe two and half years of tracks I made for myself long before there was talk of an album. So if it comes out next month or the month after it doesn’t matter, we’ll just keep making more tracks.”

TD: Do you think being based in California has any influence on the kind of music you’re making? California does have a musical history that includes both quite freaky psychedelic sounds and really laidback stuff…
SMG: “I think that it has. It’s not an everyday thing when you’re living in a city and just farting around, but there’s a natural influence, maybe more so than musical. An influence of driving North along the coast. I forget, having been here for ten years, how mind-numbingly beautiful it is. That kind of space, that environment, has had a profound influence on me as a whole. Both Dan and I have traveled together – we’ve been down to Mexico and other places in California – and those experiences are always fun. They always refresh us. Whenever we’ve come back from Mexico we’ve always made great music, because you still have that vibe in your mind.”

TD: I have to admit that when I first listened to ‘Colors Of The Sun’ I had this image of you and Dan driving round California in a clapped-out old bus, Ken Kesey style…
SMG: “I wish! I definitely have hippy commune dreams. I wish I lived in a geometric dome and raised goats! Maybe one day if I sell enough copies of the album!”

TD: Musically, although there are strong electronic influences, ‘Colors Of The Sun’ is not a dance record by any means, but those getting into yours and Dan’s music are primarily DJs and clubbers. Do you find that odd at all?
SMG: “I don’t know. We’re definitely not DJs – I don’t think either of us know how to beatmatch. There are things about that kind of music that we like. We’re certainly making some form of electronic music, it’s not necessarily club music though. DJs in general, and hip-hop DJs… I’m always amused that Dr Dre found some sample from David Axelrod. It’s strange to think of him listening to those 1960s records to find that sample. With DJs it’s the same. Prins Thomas, for example – he owns thousands and thousands of records, I’m sure he doesn’t just listen to club tracks at home.”

TD: One of the things that’s interesting about [Prins] Thomas and Hans-Peter Lindstrom is that although their influences are different to yours, they’re very much into interesting 70s synthesizer music and progressive rock - which is a trait shared by quite a few of the Norwegian ‘space disco’ producers. It seems strange that there are these parallel scenes going on across the other side of the world where people are influenced by similarly odd things, and the music that results shares some similar atmospherics and characteristics…
SMG: “There was an interview for a local newspaper here that talked about the Norway-Bay Area connection, because there are a couple of other artists here – ARP and Dominique Leone – who are signed to Norwegian labels. I don’t know why – maybe it’s because we both have West Coasts, maybe it’s because watching the sunset over the ocean is profound. I could have something to do with the environment.”

TD: You traveled around a lot with your parents when you were young. You must have had some amazing experiences you on your travels - at such a young age - which shaped your outlook and opened you up to different types of music…
SMG: “Yeah. One thing that I always loved was film soundtracks. My parents were really into Abba and the Eurhythmics for some reason. Obviously I was exposed to a lot of Indian music and different sounds and places. I saw a lot of the world. It’s a special experience – it’s not journalistic. I can’t just recall all the places I went, but there are still times when you smell something or hear something and it brings back memories. There’s something about music and smells that brings back experiences. Sometimes you try and get a vibe where it’s recreating something from that.”

TD: You mentioned film soundtracks… is that a big thing for you?
SMG: “Oh yeah. I always loved film soundtracks and just instrumental music in general. A lot of club music is instrumental, but it serves a different purpose. It’s functional music. Bands like Tortoise or what we’re doing is serving a different purpose.”

TD: You like to get a cinematic feel to your music, and when it works – as we’d argue it does on ‘Colors Of The Sun’ – it allows people to imagine whatever they want really. It might conjure up certain images for them, but it will be different for every person…
SMG: “Exactly! In a way it’s a shame you have to put titles on songs, because it should be that everyone can title it for themselves. I kind of think of it as a soundtrack for what I’m doing – riding the train to work, or driving my car at weekends, whatever it is. Before I was releasing records, that’s what the purpose of my music was – entertaining things to listen to on the Walkman. Now it’s cool that other people are into it and it’s somebody else’s soundtrack too.”
Hatchback’s ‘Colors Of The Sun’ album is released by Lo Recordings in September

Friday, 18 July 2008

Tricky Disco talks to... MOVE D

For a man who’s released some wonderful techno records over the last few years, Heidelberg’s David Moufang isn’t all that positive about the way the sound is heading. “Techno isn't very exciting to me these days, as to me it lacks depth,” he sighs. “It sounds to me like music just being made for purposes. This is why I and many others seem to be rediscovering deep house. You may argue that the substantial deep house records were made about 20 years ago, but my point is that there is substantial deep house coming out right now – Underground Quality, Workshop and Sistrum to drop a few names.”

Moufang has always appreciated music with depth and melody, so it’s no surprise that he’s finding techno’s current obsession with the abstract and linear tough to hande. Those who’ve followed his near 20-year career celebrate him as a producer with a keen ear for soul and melody, even if few of his productions could be categorized as ‘soulful’ (not in the conventional sense, at least). If it’s emotion-rich electronic music you’re after, then Move D productions will certainly be right up your street.

“To me music only matters if it is emotionally involving,” he states. “From Bach over Monk to Larry Heard, Underground Resistance and Squarepusher, music has to touch me emotionally – maybe that's why I never really got into minimal techno as they do it today - the true minimal techno was done over 15 yeras ago by people like Rob Hood and Sähkö. This music also had emotional value - I don't want to get personal, but i don't hear this in most of today's mnimal stuff.”

Moufang’s love of emotion-rich music manifests itself in the way he makes music, particularly in his use of certain chord structures and sound sets. “Harmonically I have some preferences which prevail through most of my stuff,” he muses. “Clearly rather minor than major, looking for slick, yet unpredictable chords, progressions and arrangements. So even if I explore different styles, I hope that all my work features some of the same qualities like depth, space and colour.”

Moufang has never been one for pigeonholing, and has enjoyed a career as varied as you’d epxect for someone with nearly 25 years experience in music. He started off playing in bands in the early 80s, before taking up DJing in 1987. Since then he has achieved so much – largely to little widespread acclaim – making everything from ambient dub to slinky house via IDM, spacious deepness, electro and jackin’ dancefloor fare. Hell, there was even an 80s disco-influenced outing for Compost Black Label.

“Throughout this time there have been a few moments where I felt that a change is imminent,” he reflects. “Most clearly when I started to get into house and techno. On the one hand I felt a big excitement, but a lot of it was caused by the techno scene as a movement and the changes it brought in social, cultural, clubbing and even political aspects. On the other hand there was a sense of great new musical freedom, which I had been dying for after 80s dance music – especially R&B and hip hop – had become so formulated. It was very clear to me that there was a great potential for stuff that hadn’t been done – this is why Jonas Grossmann and I started the Source Records label and made us confident that we would have something of value to add to the whole.”

Moufang and Grossmann forged a reputation as purveyors of dubby ambient, IDM and electronica as Deep Space Network, using Source as a way of releasing similarly interesting electronic music in the early 90s. “The early 90s were a very good point in time to be there at the forefront, helping shape the future," he enthuses. “After all this time i think that we actually succeeded and there are a number of releases on our label which laid out blueprints for later explorations – albums like 'Electronic Congress', 'Sato Yumiko', 'earth II infintiy', 'kunststoff', 'Kobat', 'Live&Final fridge', 'Conjoint', 'Personal_Rock' and 'Sad Rockets'.”

With such a vast and varied discography behind him – including releases on Warp, Modern Love, Philpot and Plus8, amongst others – you’d expect Moufang to be a touch world-weary, and certainly not as fired-up and excited about the future as he is. “Today I still get excited about good music and probably there have never been better times for finding good electronic music - despite the state of the industry," he chirps. “There is so much good and diverse stuff out there – it seems that nearly everything has been done or at least tried by now. These days my motivation rather lies in redefining than revolutionizing music.”

Moufang is certainly trying his hardest, and recent years have seen a spate of quality releases. For all his talk of finding techno boring, his releases on Modern Love – ‘Drane’ and “Ac1d’ – are both superb examples of pulsing, sparse modern techno. Yet it’s his more deep house flavoured releases – some of which should probably be classed as tech-house – that have been most impressive. It’s almost as if he’s taken the best aspects of European techno – the pulse, the space – and added a touch of much-needed soul and emotion. His new 12” on Shanti, ‘Between Us’ (featuring the wonderful ‘Lush Summer Rain’) is a particularly good example of this.

Yet despite this deep house success, Moufang has no plans to limit himself in future. “Music to me is all about variety – be it as a DJ or a producer. I would not be happy to do just one thing and I often get bored when I am out and I hear a DJ who is playing one single style all night. Recording artists that I admire have the power to reinvent themselves – like Miles Davis, The Beatles, Talk Talk and Richard D James.”


Deep Space Network – 'Earth II Infintiy' (Source Records)
“This is important as it was how things started for me and Source Records”

Move D – ‘Kunstsoff’ (City Centre Offices)
“I think it seems to stand the test of time and some of it still sounds as if it had been done tomorrow rather than yesterday.”

Reagenz – ‘Reagenz’ (Source Records)
“This was the first time that I enjoyed a collaboration as a fruitful realtime live improvisation. It was with Jonah Sharp.”

Conjoint – 'Berger/Kodge/Moufang/Ruit' (KM2)
“Because of the dialogue of the generations - it was a blessing to work with such experienced and gifted players and composers like Karl Berger and the others.”

Move D – ‘Featuring DJ Late’ (Workshop)
“It put me back on the map.”

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Tricky DiscoMix: The Kelly Twins' 'Galactic Jams'

We've got a bit of a treat for you today in the shape of a brand new bodypoppin' old skool mix from our very own turntable robots, The Kelly Twins. Those who've heard any of their sets in Bristol (where they are residents at best before: and Byte, as well as running their own UFO bash) Plymouth or at Dulo in Sheffield last Saturday will know what to expect - a booming selection of shit-hot old skool tuneage masterfully mixed. Sean and Dan are not known as "the robots" for nothing.

So here it is: their very first old-skool mix up: Two DJs, two turntables, one mixer, recorded live to disk in the old skool manner. No edits or overdubs - the recording is as it was when they recorded it. Yours truly was on hand to witness the recording and there was a great flow and vibe. The resultant mix is fantastic - a proper journey through old skool electro, P-funk, Miami bass, freestyle, electrofunk, 80s funk, synth-pop and gawd knows what else. Enjoy!


1. D.St - Crazy Cuts [Long Version](Island)
2. Whodini - Haunted House Of Rock [Vocoder Version] (Jive)
3. Man Parrish - Hey There Homeboy (unknown)
4. Donna Allen - 'Serious [Dub Version]' (21 Records)
5. George Clinton - 'Scratch Medley: Do Fries Go With That Shake?/Pleasures Of Exhaustion (Do It Till I Drop)' (Capitol Records)
6. Newcleus - Space Is The Place (Sunnyview Records)
7. Royal Cash - Radio Activity [Vocal Long Version]' (Royal Disc)
8. Tramaine - 'Fall Down (Spirit Of Love) [Dub Version]' (A&M)
9. Midnight Star - 'Operator [Vocal/LP Version]' (Solar System)
10. Two Sisters - 'High Noon' (I.R.S Records)
11. L.A Dream Team - 'Rockberry Jam' (Dream Team Records)
12. The World Class Wreckin' Cru - 'World Class [Remix]' (Kru-Cut Records)
13. Jamie Jupitor - 'Computer Power' (Egyptian Empire Records)
14. Rodney O - 'These Are My Beats' (Egyptian Empire Records)
15. Hashim - 'We're Rocking The Planet' (Cutting Records)
16. Chris 'The Glove" Taylor - 'Tibetean Jam' (Ploydor)
17. JJ Fadd - 'Supersonic' (DMC)
18. Dynamix II - 'Just Give The DJ A Break [Club Version]' (Cooltempo)
19. Omega II - 'Sonic Boom [Vocal]' (Showroom Records)
20. The League Unlimited Orchestra - 'Things That Dreams Are Made Of' (Virgin Records)
21. The Cure - 'The Walk' (Fiction Records)
22. Kissing The Pink - 'Big Man Restless' (Atlantic)

Download The Kelly Twins 'Say No To Crack' Mix >>

Visit The Kelly Twins' MySpace >>

Wednesday, 25 June 2008


First of all, apologies for the lack of updates of late - things have been super-hectic in Tricky Disco land. The good news is that we're back with a bang! Yesterday we had a wee chat with Norwegian disco daddy Prins Thomas about his forthcoming Full Pupp label compilation, future plans, forthcoming projects and life in Oslo. We were going to stick it up in a few weeks time, but since Thomas told us some interesting stuff about his plans for a solo album - and what his next album with old pal Hans-Peter Lindstrom sounds like - we thought we'd share it with you. So here's the interview in full...

TD: So how are you Thomas? You seem to be very busy these days…

PT: “Yes and no. I can decide whether I want to be busy or not. I only need two factors to satisfy me – to make music and spend time with my family.”

You seem to be out DJing so much these days though…

“Yes. I can’t really take any more gigs though. It seems like my career is going well [laughs]. I would never have guessed it. Everyone knows you normally get a year or two if you weren’t established in the 90s or something, but the gigs are still there and people keep inviting me back, so I can’t be shit [laughs].”

When we get out and about we hear so many good things about your DJing. We visited Make Up in Ghent a couple of months back and Dirk - who’s also your boss at Eskimo - had a lot of nice things to say. You’re off back there next week aren’t you?

“Usually I never know where I’m going - I know where I’m going this week, but if I try and remember where I’m going in two weeks I mix them all up and I think I’m going there this week. With the gigs I try and think just a week at a time - like I know I’m going to Berlin and Ukraine this weekend. For most people that’s more than enough, travelling to two countries. I don’t know where I’m going the weekend after, but I think it’s Belgium!”

Things seem to be going well with the label [Full Pupp] - or should we say labels now, as there’s Internasjonal too…

“Yes. I never talk about figures when I talk about success. For me, I think it’s going well because I’m allowed to put out the music I like and there are always some people who are into it and buy it. But it’s not big numbers or anything.”

Yes, but selling any records at all in this day and age is very good…

“Of course. I’ve been thinking long term from the first 12” – I don’t think ‘this record must sell this number’. I don’ really mind putting out stuff I know that people won’t get. Like I just put out this Discodomo 12 that I really love, but it’s really hard for people to get into. Even people who are into the same stuff as me might not like it, but it doesn’t really matter. Long term it has to make sense when you look at the whole back catalogue.”

One of the things we love about Full Pupp and Internasjonal is that there’s always plenty of variety to the releases. Some releases you can play to a wide variety of dancefloors, while some of the others are brilliantly strange and specialist. Is that a fair appraisal?

“I think that’s up to the listener or buyer to decide - I never really think about it. Almost everything I make now - or have been making the last couple of years - I don’t sit down and say “right I’m going to make a dancefloor track”. I may have a vague idea, but in the end I often can’t make up my mind. I might put out some 12” tracks that 99% of people might think ‘you can’t put this out as a 12” track’, but I don’t care. It’s up to the listener. Maybe some of the tracks I pick as personal favourites that work, and maybe some are personal favourites that don’t work, but it doesn’t really matter.”

Internasjonal was set up to put out non-Norwegian stuff wasn’t it?

“Yes…generally. I’m not saying there’s never going to be Norwegian stuff on there as well - I’m already getting some remixes from friends here of Internasjonal stuff - but the plan was not to fuck up the one good idea I had for Full Pupp, which was to release my friends’ stuff and keep it in the family.”

That’s what gives Full Pupp a unique identity. Because the releases are all from Norwegian artists it gives people a focal point for what’s happening in Oslo…

“It’s our one selling point, besides the fact that I think the music is great. Like you said, although there is lots of different stuff coming out it tricks you into thinking that there’s a unity to what’s happening. At the time when I started my first label Tamburin, which was 2001 I think, I was just fed up with everyone complaining that there wasn’t anything happening in Norway. Everybody was working on there own and everybody sent out demos to English labels and Americna labels. They wanted to be identified with, say, Paper Recordings or whatever, but in the long term that doesn’t give anything back to you as a producer or the Norwegian ‘scene’, if you can call it that. The only thing you’re contributing to is another catalogue number on Paper or whatever. So one of my ideas was to hopefully in time build up something that would make people look to Norway for exciting stuff and maybe get more excited about making stuff here, which I guess it has, together with what Hans Peter [Lindstrom] has been doing. Obviously there’s been stuff before in Bergen, but that had very little to do with what was happening in Oslo. It was inspiration wise - people like Erot and Bjorn Torske meant a lot to me personally and inspirationally, but what was happening in Bergen was very hyped. A lot of people jumped on the bandwagon and wanted to be part of it. At the same time people started like slowly making music here in Oslo, but there was never any hype surrounding it.”

Until we came over and hyped it up in iDJ magazine last year…

“Yeah. The press have managed to hype it up a bit, but at the same time it isn’t dead yet!”

Well, we tried to be realistic about it, be enthusiastic but say that it is a relatively small bunch of people and only a few clubs. One of the things yourself, Per Martinsen and Strangefruit were saying last year was that it may look from the outside like there’s a lot going on, it’s only a relatively small thing. However many people there are, it’s still exciting…

“I know there’s a lot of stuff that wouldn’t have happened or been noticed if it hadn’t been for me, Terje and Lindstrom having more success. A lot of people who gave up a long time ago and said ‘I’m not going to put out 12”s any more, there’s no point in doing it’ have got back into it. I’m not saying we were the first to do it, but what we did was show people that it is possible to get your music out and get gigs if you work hard at it. With most hype, people can sit in their studio, make a single and become part of a wave in some city somewhere. Here, people actually work - most people at least - hard. For me, it’s a 9 to 5 job now. I still enjoy it as much as before, but I’m going to the studio 10 till 3 or 4 Monday to Thursday. If I’m going somewhere on Friday then obviously I’m not going to the studio, but then traveling at weekends, back on Sunday or Monday and straight back to the studio again.”

The last few years have been pretty productive for you with solo stuff, remixes and the stuff with Hans-Peter. What are you doing studio wise at the moment? We know you’ve been doing another album with Hans-Peter…

“Yes. We’ve finished the album for Eskimo, but have no idea when it’s coming out yet because we have to wait until Hans Peter’s album is out. We made a point of not rushing anything. Eskimo heard the first tracks from the album three weeks ago - until then they’d not heard anything since the last track from the ‘Reinterpretations’ album.We made so many tracks - there’s probably 180 minutes of music. We’ve chosen roughly 76 minutes for the CD and then all the other stuff we’re trying to work out what to do with it. It might be two CDs coming after each other, we’re not sure yet. There’s also quite a lot that needs doing if we’re going to have a 12”, because the album is 95 per cent live - us playing live in the studio.”

So it’s a bit of a progression from the first album then…

“You could say it’s a progression or a regression! I don’t know!”

You’ve got back to your live roots then…

“In a way, but at the same time I feel it’s definitely going forward. With the last album we tried to make an album - now we’ve made an album. Nothing was planned, everything was based on what we played in the studio. It came naturally, although we tried to give each other some kind of limitations, like trying not to start working with MIDI stuff to early in the process. As little as possible syncronized stuff - most of it should be live. That’s one thing. I’m also working on my own - in the last few months I’ve more or less come up with an album of my own stuff, so there’s definitely going to be a couple of singles from myself on Full Pupp and most likely an album sometime next year. I’m also spending a lot of time co-producing stuff on both labels. A lot of the stuff I get sent now is demos. Instead of passing it back and forth, people ask me if I can mix it down, which suits me fine because I work really quickly when it comes to stuff like that. Some stuff I get sent completely finished. We’ve just mastered the full Windsurf album…:

I bet that’s good - the E.P was very good…

“I think the album is better. It’s probably easier to get the 12” the first time because it’s only four tracks to listen to. Now you get a bunch of other tracks and they’re all quite different to each other. To me, it’s just like when I’m listening to some of Hans Peter’s stuff - they use quite a lot of unusual chords and chord progressions. It’s not just major minor chords. If you listen to most of this cosmic stuff it’s basically just a groove, a few loops and some boring samples.”

Certainly, it could be argued that there’s a lot of stuff coming out in the cosmic/nu-disco sphere that’s getting very cheap and predictable…

“Yeah. It’s a really cool combination - some cool drums and some funky bass and some echo - but at the same time I hear all these tracks coming out which sound like a really bland version of what I’m getting bored of myself. At the same time it’s kind of strange, because for me naturally because personally I’ve gone on to do other stuff. There are always people who expect you to ‘flog the dead horse’ or whatever, otherwise you’ll turn your back on what you’ve created.”

That old thing of “I’d like a remix - can you make it like that one you 18 months ago which I liked’…

“Yeah! But hey, that’s life. I’m not in the music industry, I’m making music. It’s funny - the most positive feedback for the Windsurf stuff came from James Holden. I think that says a lot. You have all these nu-disco producers who were saying ‘I don’t like it - I can’t play it’. But then you have these people who you think are blind musically because they only play techno, they’re the guys who actually picked this up.”

If you expect that every release that Full Pupp or Internasjonal puts out will be a certain tempo and style, then you’ll be disappointed, but that was never what either label was about…

“Yes, but it would have been good if people actually listened to the music instead of talking about it. And I’m saying this to a journalist… [laughs]”

Coming back to the new compilation, how did you settle on which tracks to put on ‘Greatest Tits Vol 1’, because not everything you’ve released is on there…

“The criteria I used was that it had to show some of the variety of the label. I wanted to pick an interesting 80 minutes rather than a bland CD of samey sounding stuff, and not just play all the obvious stuff. None of the biggest sellers are on there - neither Todd Terje’s ‘Eurodans’ or my ‘Fehrara’ are there, for example.”

We were quite excited to see that there were quite a few unreleased tracks on there…

“I think you’ve got to do that or otherwise it’s just a cash in [laughs]. To me, it’s like I’ve been doing the label for quite a long time now. For me personally it feels longer than three or four years, because I did the other label and worked with some of the same people on that label. Full Pupp is a continuation with what I did with Tamburin. I felt it was just time to do a round up, because when we started the label we planned one release at a time and things went quite slow - it was always a few months between singles, and people were asking all the time ‘have you wrapped it up or is anything coming again?’ Now the schedule is pretty tight. Also, people have been asking to get the old tracks digitally, so this is a way of getting some new listeners…”

And reward the old listeners as well…

“I think it’s a pretty good package anyway if you’re into that sort of music, because there’s some stuff on there you won’t be able to get in other places. There are some unreleased tracks and also some older, really obscure tracks from the first label.”

‘Prins Thomas & Full Pupp present The Greatest Tits Volume 1’ will be released on July 21