Wu Tang Clanâs RZA- Most Hip Hop Stars Are Marsh Mellows
âA lot of the artists acting so tough and wanting to be gangstas are marsh mellows. If you see them (in real life) theyâre not the same person you see on TV. And when they get money they start acting even more gangstaâ. Itâs a lot of propaganda and bullshit. I remember when Wu Tang Clan used to come to the clubs, all those same artists would hide.â
Sitting in a luxury private members bar in Londonâs Mayfair, Wu Tang Clan founder and commander-in-chief Robert âRZAâ Diggs seems a million miles away from the bullets and bling of New Yorkâs increasingly violent hip hop world. Not that heâs too personally concerned by events such the recent murder of Run DMC guru Jam Master Jay, whose killers remain at large.
âSomebody knows what happened with Jam Master Jay but I donât think it was associated particularly with hip hop,â he told Skrufffâs Benedetta.
âThat kind of thing happens every day in our community, somebody gets robbed, killed, shot, whatever. It just happened to be a celebrity that day.â Despite his apparently flippant bravado though, heâs more than happy to drop his mask.
âBut none of us are so tough,â he admits.
âWe all got a certain fear.â
Gun crime aside, heâs firing on all cylinders to promote his new solo album The World According To RZA, a collaborative project between the Staten Island producer and the cream of European hip hop. Combining RZAâs songs and production skills with French, British and German collaborators (including Blade, Skinnyman, Ghostface Supakilla and IAM) the record highlights hip hopâs truly global nature as well as RZAâs unusually internationalist outlook (for an American hip hop artist, anyway.)
âThe album was originally going to be called War because Iâm having a war to break down the barriers people put up against each other,â he explained.
âHow can you have these borders where people are separated and try to kill each other if someone crosses the line. All itâs about (the Iraq War) is a small bunch of men in each of those places controlling the masses of the people. Itâs like big gang banging- for real.â
RZAâs use of Ali Gâs âfor realâ catchphrase also appears to be less than coincidental.
âAli G is crazy, Yo! heâs crazy,â he laughs.
âI didnât even watch the show then everybody started calling me saying âListen, this motherfuckaâs acting like youâ. I guess cozâ he had the glasses, the hat and the rings. I said âThis guy is funnyâ. He is funny, though, let me tell you, heâs crazy. I donât know if he chose to copy me or not but it looks like it. All my friends think so, anyway.â
Skrufff (Benedetta): The album was originally due to come out in 2001, why has it been delayed until now?
RZA: âWe had a lot of label problems then I guess the 911 situation happening and the music industry going through its recession also played their parts. Releasing it involved a lot of politics between labels. Originally we were going to release it on BMG then we switched to Virgin Records which meant we had to do all the paperwork and legal stuff all over again. Thatâs one of the sad things about the music business- it sometimes hurts the music because it hinders its release. Fortunately, Virgin recognised the importance of the record and its potential, so they picked it up and have given it a fair shot.â
Skrufff: Youâve cancelled quite a few trips in recent months, was that connected with terror threats?
RZA: âNo, no, no, the last time I was sick and I had family problems, that was in May, when I cancelled my whole European trip. I had too many things to do back home. The time before that, in March, it was due to bad scheduling by the record company. I was already on a tour and they wanted to fly me from Eastern Europe to London then fly me back for a concert and I was like âHold on, this isnât going to workâ. I was flying all over Europe, doing press then flying to concerts and it got to the stage where my knees were so stiff that I wasnât able to do my full energetic performance because I became fatigued. Not fatigued because I was tired, but rather from all the travelling- even now Iâm still clogged up. Itâs not healthy to travel like that, so I told the label âLook, the best artist is a healthy and happy artistâ.
Iâll do anything you ask me because I love music and I love talking to music writers, other musicians, anybody thatâs interested in hip hop; I love to give them my vibe and my way of thinking. Even this trip is hectic, Iâve flown in today when I should have flown in yesterday so I can rest, have a good meal and get a good night sleep so we could have focused conversation. Being an artist as well as an executive, I know how to do both roles and I know how to make it work.â
Skrufff: Four of your collaborators are from France what drew you to use so many French artists?
RZA: âAt first we only scheduled three of them, but what happened was we winded up meeting other artists that were friends of the first three, who were dope (good). NAP were friends of Passi, they were hanging together so we said letâs do a song. There were also some other songs from France that didnât make it onto the album, because we had too many tracks. We spent a lot of time in France and it was a really good vibe. I liked lots of music from there, thatâs why thereâs lots of French artists on the record, they were hungry to get involved.â
Skrufff: How are French artists and musicians seen in the US, since the Iraq war?
RZA: âI canât measure that because I have a lot of love for the French and Iâm shown a lot of love back. Iâm biased towards the French. Iâve heard people say things but to me theyâve always been cool, itâs more TV hype than anything else. People arenât really pissed off at each other, maybe at each otherâs governments but not each other.â
Skrufff: Who have you got from the UK?
RZA: âWe have Skinny Man, Blade, Bronz N Black and Mr Tibbs; all on the album. It was bad news with Bronz N Black they did two songs, one with Ghostface, but I couldnât find it until Iâd finished mastering the album. So weâre going to try and release that as a bonus B side single for the UK, because Ghostface went great with those guys. It also shows the unity of American and UK hip hop. We also have Skinnyman on a track, who I think is a very dope, up and coming artist from here. He doesnât try to be American with his style, he sticks to his roots, he has a perfect London English accent and he has his whole original character- heâs real hip hop.â
Skrufff: The UK hip hop scene still seems significantly smaller than the US, why do you think this is so?
RZA: âI was talking about this with Tim Westwood recently and we reckoned itâs because thereâs not a lot of artists out here who are being supported by the record companies. We both thought the problem is because this is an English speaking country, itâs very simple for British people to understand American hip hop artists so therefore the record companies, who are based in America, focus on the artists with whom theyâve already got an investment with, ie American artists. Youâve got artists like Ms Dynamite breaking out, and a few groups breaking out here and there. One of the greatest hip hop rappers of all time, in fact, is a native of London and thatâs Slick Rick.â
Skrufff: Youâre the producer of this project, what did that involve in practical terms?
RZA: âWe flew to seven or eight countries which involved a lot of planes, trains and automobiles. I stayed in lots of studios to record this album. It was almost like a tour but it was a really good experience. I actually recorded the whole record in 36 days. Then I had to go back home and fine tune it and add the American flavour. The European artists worked very fast, very well, they were hungry and ambitious and they actually rekindled my ambition. Lots of artists canât make music without money no more, that happened to me at one point, I couldnât make music unless a budget was on the table and you donât want to get like that. For this album there was no money on the table, it was a struggle, it wasnât in summer, it was done in a cold spring with lots of travelling. Iâm also a vegetarian, so I had a very hard time getting a proper diet. But I did it and I loved every moment.â
Skrufff: The albumâs called The World According to RZA, how do you see the state of the world?
RZA: âMy album was originally called War because Iâm having a war to break down these barriers people put up against each other. How can you have borders between four countries within a hundred miles, where people are separate and will try to kill each other if you cross this line. All it is about, is a small bunch of men in each of these places controlling the masses of the people. Itâs like big gang banging. For real. I donât really approve of it because weâre all the human family. Itâs been told by many great prophets throughout history and many great civil rights teachers, people like Ghandi. Even if you look at people like Stalin or Hitler who were terrible in history, their idea was to unify the people as one. Unity is the key. The euro is an example of people trying to unify but theyâre only trying to unify through the dollar and not through the heart and thatâs another problem.
Weâre knocking down all barriers and thereâs no separation in hip hop, weâre not going to say thereâs West Coast or East Coast hip hop, American hip hop or European hip hop, itâs got to be the movement of our generation, one hip hop. I like to say this quote; hip hop; the sound and soul of our generation, thatâs my favourite quote.â
Skrufff: But the Wu Tang Clan also looked very much like a tribe?
RZA: âItâs OK to feel part of a tribe or part of a group but we should still have a basic common law. But what happens is that each place has its own laws on top of its traditions. Traditions are one thing and law another. The law has been given to us in books already by a group of great men already. If you go to Israel, they have a book of law, Moses left a book of law. Buddha had a book of law for the Chinese, Krishna had a book of law for the Indians. And all these laws are similar, if you read them theyâre all talking about love each other, peace, take care of yourself, if you do bad shit bad shit will happen to you, itâs all the same laws. Native Americans had the same laws. People always try to use Government and ideology to overcome the natural law thatâs already placed by God.â
RZA: âPuff Daddy and Mariah Carey recently demonstrated against Americaâs horrific drug laws, specifically New Yorkâs anti-cannabis Rockerfeller Laws, where do you stand on it?
RZA: âIâm against those laws, should cannabis be legal? Of course it should be legal but controlled. Alcohol was illegal at one stage so they had gangsters and mobsters killing each other over whoâs going to sell alcohol. It was still there, and itâs still the same drug now, but the government controls it now and itâs legal. These laws are just about a bunch of greedy old men finding a bunch of ways to oppress young men. They know that any young kid is going to experiment with alcohol, or marijuana or any drug thatâs available, we all experiment and thatâs the duty of life. When you see something like that, it means these old men are looking to incarcerate more young men in jail.
Whatâs happened in America is that there are more weed dealers than crack dealers because some kids donât want to sell crack not only because of the strict laws against it but also because theyâre starting to feel guilty about doing it. They feel guilty about what it causes. Everybody sells weed, fuck, I sell weed, you donât feel guilty when you sell weed.. 60 to 70% of our country should go to jail if they really crack down on weed because thatâs how many people in our country smoke it. The guy that just interviewed me was about 50 and he said heâd been smoking weed for 30 years, should he go to jail if they found some weed on him?â
Skrufff: how do you feel about the anti-tobacco laws in New York?
RZA: âI disagree with smoking tobacco inside parties, because smoking is a bad feeling, to breathe someone elseâs smoke is horrible, there should definitely be designated smoking areas. I shouldnât have to suffer your smoke, but if you want to smoke, smoke your life away. If weed is illegal, then tobacco should be illegal. Artificial colouring should be illegal. Artificial is proven to cause cancer.â
Skrufff: Hip hop seems plagued by ultra-violence again, why is it escalating again?
RZA: âAs far as the violence is concerned, it escalates because itâs promoted. Hip hop is already a competitive sport naturally, itâs already a violent sport and it actually started out as a way to express violence without using violence, so the words have been violent for many years and very attacking. Hip hop was a way of expressing violence without inflicting physical violence on each other. But now the mediaâs got hold of it and taken it to another level. Then the artists start wanting to be so tough, everybody wants to be like Tupac, or Biggie, everybody wants to be what they âainââ so they act like that. A lot of the artists acting so tough and wanting to be gangstas are marsh mellows. If you see them theyâre not the same person you see on TV. Then when they get money they act even more gangsta. Itâs a lot of propaganda and bullshit. Thereâs always going to be some rawness. I remember when Wu Tang Clan used to come to the clubs and all those same artists would hide.But none of us are so tough. We all got a certain fear.
The sad part of it is the influence it has on the children, because the children do believe these guys are tough. You might think Sylvester Stallone really can fight like Rocky but itâs just a movie, itâs imagination. Or Chuck Norris, or Steven Segal. Theyâre actors. Look at Al Pacino, he was Scarface then in Dogday Afternoon he played a gay bank robber. When kids watch Scarface they go crazy for Al Pacino. Iâm a patriot, but America is a place that was born out of violence. So therefore, if they donât realise that and move away from violence theyâll be destroyed by it.â
The World According to RZA is out now on Virgin Records.
http://www.wutangclan.com (Wu Tang Clan)
by: Benedetta Skrufff (Skrufff.com)
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DJ Alixir from HKClubbing.com Interviews Joel Lai...
Q: Hi Joel, you're a prevalent name on the Hong Kong scene and have been previously voted as HK's No1 DJ by Absolute as well as recently by HK Magazine, just where and when did the whole DJ trip begin for you?
A: I started my first djing work at 1987 in a hotel disco called StarLight, and then work at Club97 at the same year.
Q: Your first gig in a commercial club, where and when was it? Do you remember how you performed and how the crowd reacted?
A: At the year of my djing work at Starlight & Club 97, I had to play extremely commercial sounds, all top 40s tunes, I can tell there was no personal style at all, just do anything I can to make the dance floor rocking all the time, and I did it!
Q: How has your style changed across the years? What are you currently spinning and what draws you to the style of tracks you play?
A: Well, my style has never been fixed in one type of sounds, as I love so many difference of music which is from House, Disco, R&B, Latin, Soul, Funk, Jazz, Bossa Nova etc...., so I played a really mixed up set in Club, but I play mainly still House music at all weekend party or other dance events, my House music style has been changed over & over again, since the first day I played the house music such as Chicago house & US Garage, and then I changed to play more harder stuff like Techno & Trance, and then John Digweed & Sasha made me influence to make me love Progressive house music at 1999, but now I am going back and playing mostly Funky Uplifting House, as I got really sick play set as a "Trip", I felt like I am tired of that Trip and it is the time to go back my HOUSE!
Q: It must have been an absolute buzz playing at the Unity party for Hong Kong's handover to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, especially with Paul Oakenfold's kind words about your performance. Was this perhaps the best gig you ever played to a home crowd?
A: Well, I can't say it was my best set I played to my home crowd, but it was a definitely the best event in HK ever, and I was so proud to be one of those people to rocked the dance floor with the top acts from all around the world!
Q: You've been touring across Asia and Europe for some time now and playing with the likes of Carl Cox, Sasha, John Digweed, Nick Warren, Paul van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold, David Morales, Roger Sanchez, Pete Tong, Boy George, Derrick May. Do you see yourself as a major player within the DJ community now? Are you set to branch out to other countries this coming Summer?
A: I don't see myself as a major player in a international market, as I did not really put that much time to other countries and stay there for promo myself, I got an offer to stay in England to build up my name and do some music production work with those top djs, events & records company, but finally I choice to stay in HK for my bar DROP!
Q: It's obvious that you're pretty busy with touring and every DJ likes a break now and again. What do you find yourself doing with any spare time that you have?
A: I gave all my spare time to my Son at the moment, otherwise I will play my favourite computer games.
Q: Two years ago you released your own CD mixed compilation "Club 1997 The Definitive Music" under PolyGram which at the time was noticed as Hong Kong's first underground dance compilation whist you were resident at the popular Hong Kong club. It received a lot of praise from the media and people alike. Have you any plans for another release as of yet?
A: That's what I have just done, my first compilation of Drop, and it is my personally the third CD compilations, and I believe I will keep doing on it and release more Joel Lai CD in the future, I am so glad to share my favourite music to all other people, and they like it too, there is something more than money that I can get for my life!
Q :Do you also produce these days? If not, have you any plans to get into production in the future or maybe start your own label?
A: I planned to do it for about 6 years, but I did nothing, technically reason I can say it is because I could find any good sounds engineer to be production partner, but personally reason is..... I AM LAZY!
Q: Is there anybody that you haven't played with yet but would dearly love to? What would be your chosen venue in Hong Kong to do this?
A: It would be nice to play with Danny Tenaglia in a beach!
Q: There are many talented local DJs that have appeared on the scene over the years like Frankie Lam (I had the pleasure of playing with him over Christmas - great guy) amongst others, do you have a lot of friends on the circuit and who do you normally perform with.
A: Not really, as I stopped to play at any HK events for almost 2 years now, in HK I am only play at Drop with djs such as Eric Byron & Derald Reynold, they are such great djs with a lots of soul & passion, not drugs!!!
Q: Where do you think is the hottest venue at the moment in Hong Kong with the best music? Why is this?
A: Of course there is somewhere in HK still pushing the top quality dance music, not drugs music, but I can't tell here to make any unnecessary exposure! the reason those venue is doing well, just because the right music draws the right crowd there, and those people knows how to enjoy themselves for their life, not fuxk up themselves for their life.
Q: Where do you see in the future for Dance Music based clubs in Hong Kong?
A: Depend on what you like!
Q: If you were to sum up the overall of Joel Lai live in one word, what would that word be?
Q: Thanks very much for talking to HKCLUBBING.COM and we hope your HMV Radio set goes well!
A: Thank you very very much as well, and respect you guys a lots to pushing & helping HK club scene big time, respect, respect, respect!
DJ Alixir from HKClubbing.com Interviews Dave Angel...
First noticed and quickly signed for his classic bootleg remix of The Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams" that eventually became a legitimate release, Dave Angel has moved from strength to strength over the years with his unique Hard Tech Funk sound. He's played almost every country and club worldwide and had many successful releases to date as well as being regarded as one of the Godfathers of the UK techno scene. HKClubbing's DJ Alixir caught up with Dave just before the release of "DA03", the third instalment in the "Dave Angel" mix compilations.
Q: Hi Dave, what kind of feeling are you expecting to instill into the listener with "DA 03"?
A: I hope I instil a reflection of a full on club environment to the listener.
Q: There's a lot of international talent on the CD, which artists would you love to collaborate with or remix off of "DA 03"?
A: I would love to collaborate with Danilo Vigorito, and do a remix of Olav Basoski remix of Noel Nantonâs track, El Ray.
Q: On "the mix" side of things, what forms of technique do you use to smoothe transitions from track to track? EQ? Cutoff filters?
A: I use EQ and volume, I try not to use filters when recording a cd as not everybody may like the sound it is ok in clubs.
Q: Mixers, less onboard functions or more onboard functions? Do DJ's have enough toys to play with these days? How easy is it to go overboard with decks and effects in your opinion?
A: More on board functions, if you have the facility and are willing to experiment, yeah it is great. When a DJ is using these effects its almost like he is remixing on the spot. It is quite easy to go overboard.
Q: Have you ever felt that you've ever gone a bit overboard with any productions or live mixes?
A: I do not think I have gone overboard with any own my productions this is for other people to say.
Q: Can you think of a country, place or club that you have yet to play but want to?
A: I have never played in Egypt; I would love to play in a party in front of the pyramids.
Q: If you hadn't been noticed for your "nightmare mix" of Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams", do you still think you'd still have aimed at getting into the music industry?
A: If I had not been noticed for my Sweet Dreams remix I would have kept on going I have been in this industry since 8 yrs old.
Q: What's been the main "high" of your career so far, and what has been your personal "low"?
A: The high point in my career to date is the Sweet Dreams remix and the low has been the last two years, I had a new computer that has given me nothing but trouble for the past 2 yrs but now it has gone a new one installed that works perfectly.
Q: Music career and family life, easy to juggle or a case of compromise sometimes?
A: With everything in life you need to compromise.
Q: Can you tell us about who has primarily influenced your approach towards the tracks you write? Do you have a structured approach towards starting a piece eg. bassline first etc.
A: I do not have an approach to the tracks I write I go into the studio with whatever vibe I have and it goes from there, I always start with the kick drum and the rest flows.
Q: Do you engineer your own tracks or leave it to another studio. If you do, what's your favourite tool for engineering be it software or hardware?
A: I do all my own engineering in my own studio my favourite thing is my Mackie mixer.
Q: What in your opinion is the ultimate synth of all time? Digital or analogue?
A: The ultimate synth is the Waldorf wavestation.
Q: I heard a rumour (i don't know how true this is!) that somebody stole all of you studio kit by floating it up a canal. If this rumour was true, how long did it take you to rebuild? Did you lose many tracks that were under progress?
A: Do not listen to rumours, this is all lies. Bit funny though.
Q: What are you going to concentrate on next? Are we to expect a studio album from yourself or a another mix album? Any remixes in the pipeline for other artists?
A: Next from me will hopefully be my third album and a mix compilation on my own Rotation Inprint. And many other projects that I am working on.
Q: Where can we catch you over the summer? Any plans on coming to Asia in the near future?
A: I will doing the normal DJ circuit over the summer you can get my dates on my web site, www.daveangel.com. I hope to be in Asia in September.
DJ Alixir from HKClubbing.com Interviews Chris Liebing...
Q: Chris, how long have you been involved in the dance industry now? Where did it all begin for you and what inspired you to start DJing?
A: As I was much younger an started to go out to clubs, I was sometimes annoyed by the sets of the DJs at that time. Since I already had quite a selection of records at home myself, I always thought I could do that better. That was around 1991. Whithin that year, I had my first Cub residency. Than I got addicted to DJing. Around 1994 I started also to produce.
Q: I know plenty of DJs who are good yet never had their own set of decks when they first started. Did you buy your own decks to learn on?
A: No, I never really had two decks at home up to like three years ago. As I started playing in Clubs, mixing was not essential, but I really wanted to learn it. So I took the key of the club I worked for and practised from time to time in the afternoon. The rest was learning by doing. I have actually never practiced at home to DJ.
Q: Once you were DJing, what was the first venue you ever played and where? How did you get your foot in the door? Was it hard to do?
A: Well, that was a small club in a small town near Frankfurt. My sister was working on the bar there and they were looking for a DJ for saturdays, playing all sorts of stuff. That was in 1991. I basically jumped into cold water, cause I only djayed on small private parties before. It was not hard at all, it was a great time to learn the basics of Clubrules....
Q: You used to spin Hip Hop, when exactly did you change to techno and what made you re-assess what your musical style? Do you ever play Hip Hop these days?
A: Well, I didn't spin only Hip Hop, it was mor a mix between Hip hop, Soul, Acid Jazz and some house. But around 1993 it got a bit boring musically for me, then I discovered the early Harthouse/Eye Q records in my local Record Store and that changed all. From then on, Techno got me. Today I don't spin Hip Hop, I leave that to the DJs who can do that.
Q: Moving onto your label, things seem to really be happening at the moment for you. I've heard your label is doing well and that you have plenty of releases pending for the summer from both yourself and other named artists/remixers. How did you go about setting up the label and how much of a financial risk was it at the time?
A: Well I guess around 1995 (where I started my first Label) my whole Life was a financial Risk, so that did not matter. I am very happy that is runs well right now, but there is a lot of work involved also. When I started being a DJ, it was because I wanted to be responsible for the Music in a Club. I think quite naturally, I started to produce my own music, so I could play my own stuff as well, not depending too much on others. Then to do a label was actually only a short step. I only needed to find a distribution at that time.
Q: You have had your tracks remixed by Marco Carolla and Renato Cohen recently, how do you go about finding artists to remix your work? Are these people you have worked with beforehand or had you just happened to hear some of their production work?
A: Both ways. Most of the Artists I know anyways for some years now and I know their styles. So when I have a track, where I think one certain Artist could do a nice Mix of, I just ask him/her. Marco I know for about 6 years now, cause once I licenced a track of him. Renato, I got to know in Brazil last year and since we managed to meet quite a lot. I really like his music and I am happy that all these Remixes work out.
Q: I've reviewed most of your current and future releases in which there seems to be quite a clear method of sound, hard and full on, although these tracks sit amongst a wide spectrum of styles from funky to minimal to pure industrial assault. What's the difference between the tracks you release as Chris Liebing and Stigmata?
A: Well, stuff which gets released on CLR can be anything I like and I would play myself on peak times in a Club. Stigmata is the Label of my production Partner AndrÃ© Walter and me together. On Stigmata are always four of our own tracks, which are more made for tools and the sound is a bit darker and meaner. It will now go into the next chapter, which will be called the Demon Chapter.
Q: Stigmata's albums have ranged from 1/10 to 10/10 with a Stigmata 10 Anniversary release to come soon. Is this the end of your collaboration with Andre Walter or will you both continue to produce great techno tracks together?
A: Oh, Andre and me are already sharing our studio for 8 years now and no End is in sight. Our collaboration works out wonderfull and I quess we keep on producing together till our ears bleed.
Q: With all the recent advances in software samplers and soft synths pushing us forever towards a predominantly computer based set up, do you find yourself using more hardware or software these days?
A: I definatly use mor and more software. The digital sound has improved a lot and there is so much more you can do to twist the sounds. I use Logic in the Studio.
Q: Dynamically, your releases are pretty harsh yet bright, bassy and punchy. Do you engineer your own productions or is that somebody elses job. If you do engineer your work, what's your favourite piece of kit to help you?
A: No, we do everthing ourselfes in the Studio. I don't really have one certain tool, which makes that sound. It is more like, that the basic mix already needs to sound good. Then, when I master the tracks, I don't really do much to it, besides maybe making it a bit louder/compressed, using a T.C. Electroonic Finaliser or various softerware, like the Waves Bundel. But as I said, the basic mix is already quite important for me.
Q: You're very busy at the moment with touring and producing, what major gigs have you got planned for the summer? Are you off to Ibiza the UK or Asia? Do you get time to yourself at all and if you do, what do
you find yourself doing?
A: Well, the Summer is quite busy, but then again, the whole year is always full of stuff, besides January, where we all go on holiday to Asia. This Summer, I have a nice USA/Canada Tour comming up in July. In August I am off to the Wire Festival in Japan and then later I go to South america. Also I will be playing most of the biggest Festivals though out Europe. Actually I will miss Ibiza this year, since no one wanted to book me there this summer....
Q: Are there any clubs or festivals or countries that you haven't played and would like to?
A: I think I would love to go to South Africa once and China. These are places, that I have never been to.
Q: If you could describe the Chris Liebing live experience in one word, what would you say?
A: FULLON !
For more information on Chris Liebing, please visit www.cl-rec.com
DJ Alixir from HKClubbing.com Interviews Disco Brothers ...
Q: Hi Disco bros, how did you both come to be working together? Long time friends or just coincidence?
A: We have been Djing as a back to back DJ Team since 1994 as we have been at the same school since 1990.
Q: After a lot of years of hard work finally paying off in a big way, have you found that work has gotten a lot harder or do you have a little bit more time to relax now that the first foot is firmly in the door?
A: You have to work hard every day to build your profile and fanbase for your productions and DJing. We never stop working as we want to succeed to the top level.
Q: You've experienced the evolution of hard house and hard trance/dance filtering onto the main club scene and floor, what was your musical progression into these categories?
A: We have never played just one style so we havent intergrated the styles as we seem fit. We have now stuck to techno grooves and uplifting harder edged trance for oour style and it stands out but is very difficult to program properly so thats the Dj challenge which we are championing.
Q: Now you've hammered the UK, touched upon the Ibiza circuit as well as a few international gigs, where is the disco style headed to over the coming summer?
A: We are residents in Ibiza with Tonic in Ibiza, playing at the Energy festival in Switzerland as well as tours in South Africa and Japan coming up.
Q: When DJing, are you always both together or do you venture off for singular pursuits? Do you always go back to back or take a hour each or....?
A: Always back to back for 2-3 hours. This gives you time to soak up the atmosphere and have a sly beer or two in between mixes!!
Q: How exactly do your styles differ or are they the same? Do you follow the conventional "Anthem" formula for mixing the last sixteen bars with each track being as Euphoric as the next or do you prefer a good bit of experimentation?
A: Tim is more techno orientated and Mark loves trance so the blending of the styles is important and works. We always use the eqs to really hammer the buildups and funky cut drops. Tim can scratch as well at the right time in the set,
Q: Do you plan your sets or merely play the whole gig by ear? What kind of journey do you expect to take each crowd on?
A: We need to take th crowd on the ulitmate journey so we never plan our sets as its important to build the crowd and react to the dance floor. Planning is cheating......
Q: Obviously, you must slip a few excellent Nukleuz tracks into your sets but what other labels do you regularly play tracks from? Who's your favourite artist at the moment for both DJing and production?
A: We play alot of smaller labels material like Scott Mac's Limit label and Marco Bailey's Mb Electronixs label. We are really into labels like Lupp, MB Electronics, Limit etc. We only play Nukleuz green and BXR UK tracks from Media Records in our sets.
Q:Leading us onto production work and style, you had a good stead into the industry with "Final Frontier", do you like to work visually whencreating tracks or purely from sound alone?
A: We work on instinct and create the vibe live when we are in the studio to give us the best results.
Q: Do you both work on the same composition together or bounce the tracks off each other?
A: Yes we always work trogether and always pick a current sound and push the boundaires on the sound and influences. Build your own vibe that suits your own DJ set.
Q: When hunting for new sounds, do you use presets? If not, what effects do you impose upon raw sounds to shape them more to your own style?
A: All depends - we make loops and use presets on the synths etc. It all depends on what we feel is needed for the track to really kick.
Q: The biggest problem for most engineers is balancing drums against basslines as in dance music, this has to be important as to how the track sounds and feels, how do you personally go about getting the sound right? What kit do you use when mixing your tracks down?
A: As you said the hardest bit of the mix is getting the balance between the bass and other elements on the mix down. We use compressors etc to get the right sound. Its a Disco Brothers secret!!!
Q: Is there a certain message or feeling you try to put across to the listening audience within your own tracks? When do you know that you've got sequences that work?
A: We like to have feeling, energy and atmosphere i n our tracks - something that we pound your brain but lift it into a state of Euphoria. We know by feeling the music and deciding what we need next...
Q:What future releases have you got set for summer? Are we set to see the Disco bros tour with a live show soon? Have you an album in the pipeline?
A: We have just remixed Ian van Dahl - I cant Let You Go on Nulife Recs and have Lost Tribe - Gamemaster and Dumonde - Human remixes to attack next. These will come out in September along with a new single we are working on at present....check www.discobrothers.co.uk for all info and updates. Album - yeah maybe in the future as we dont want to milk our sound.
Q: You've both had a lot of good comments made by the leading DJs in your field, how much do these comments influence the way you think and feel about your work now?
A: Its an honour really having DJ's like Paul Van Dyk, Scot Project, Judge Jules, Fergie, Dave Pearce and Armin Van Burren supporting our material. We have created our own distinct style so we want to get everyone to follow us if they wish. We just like making intelligent music with feeling that gets the dancefloor going.
Q: You've had a very successful string of dates in Australia and are becoming firm favourites over there, have you moved your sights to a full Asia tour yet? How would you imagine Hong Kong would receive the Disco Bros experience?
A: We should have been coming to Hong Kong in June 2003 with MOS but there was a problem with SARs etc. We have a good fanbase over in the Far East as our tracks are on the top line compilations and we would love to get out there asap. We had a great time in Australia and looking to revisit asap. We hope that we would go down very well in the Far East and look forward to coming there asap.
Q: For those clubbers that have yet to experience the Disco Bros sound, how would you explain it to them?
A: The Disco Brothers sound is uplifting techno trance that is cutting edge and we entertain the crowd. see you soon.......
Cream: Where were you born?
PVD: EisenhÃ¼ttenstadt, former East Germany
Cream: Where do you live now?
PVD: Berlin, Germany
Cream: Obviously the scene has changed over the last 10 years, in what ways do you see the differences?
PVD: Bigger, better, brighter
Cream: What was your highpoint in the last decade?
PVD: My marriage.
Cream: What was your low point in the last decade?
PVD: Just add all the hours waiting for delayed flights and take them for that point.
Cream: Describe your djing style?
PVD: Deep, clear and intensive electronic dance music
Cream: We hear youâre about to release a new track, tell us about thisâ¦?
PVD: Itâs âNothing But Youâ, featuring Hemstock und Jennings. Just hear into it and you will know everything!! Also watch out for Aaltoâs Rush. A really big one I even signed it up for my Vandit label. It is what people call progressive, quality club trance. For me itâs just an amazing musical journey. The song starts â how surprising â with beats and adds all necessary elements to become the theme of the night.
Cream: You are performing in the Cream arena along with the likes of Tiesto, Tall Paul und Eddi Halliwell at this years Creamfields Festival. Are you looking forward to this years event?
PVD: Yes, of course! Like I always look forward to Creamfields Festivals. Iâm expecting an open minded, wild crowd and a very good time.
Cream: Youâre also playing exclusively for Cream Ibiza every fortnight at Amnesia this summer, and have played for them over the last 4 years. It seems to be a great relationship between you both, with last years Cream Ibiza one of the only success stories last year, what makes the Cream Ibiza experience so special?
PVD: Itâs as special as most of the gigs, that Iâve got the opportunity to give. Enthusiastic people, that want to have a great time in a great club on a great island.
Cream: Are you working in the studio at the moment?
PVD: Yes, I am doing. Mainly Iâm working on my 4th album called REFLECTIONS, that will be out in late summer.
Cream: What track do you expect to take the roof off at this years Creamfields festival?
PVD: A lot of tracks
Cream: Who will you be checking out at this years festival?
PVD: My Turntables and records.
Cream: Whats your best and worst festival memory?
PVD: Travel in the middle of nowhere with no clue where to go.
Cream: What are your vices?
PVD: I don't have any.
Cream: Who do you see as a rising star in the DJ world at the moment? And why?
PVD: NU NRG from Rome are definitely a rising star. I follow up what they are doing over the last 3 years and each time I hear them they have developed and seem to get better every the time.
Cream: Whatâs your favourite film?
PVD: Canadian Bacon
Cream: What 3 things could you not live without?
PVD: Air, water, food
Cream: What would your best friend say was your best quality?
PVD: Ask him.
Cream: What was the last book you read?
PVD: War in Iraq - what the Bush administration does not want you to know by Scott Ritter
Cream: What are your favourite record labels?
PVD: I have favourite records
Cream: What was the first & last record you bought?
PVD: First: OMD Organisation Last: a package by massive records of great tunes
Cream: Please finish this sentenceâ¦Creamfields is?
PVD: something to look forward for!
Seb Fontaine: DJs Were Never Pop Starsâ¦Interview by Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)
âThere are probably a few DJs who would like to believe they are pop stars, but DJs are just people who watch plastic go round. If you turned us into pop stars we wouldnât be DJs anymore.
With an upcoming headline slot at Glastonbury Festival and his ultra high profile Radio 1 show, Seb Fontaine is one of the most likely candidates to be routinely dubbed a superstar DJ, though chatting from his West London home, heâs keen to stress his down-to-Earth credentials.
âDJs were born out of warehouses and grotty, seedy little clubs, thatâs where we come from and thatâs what we do and if you take that element away from us, we wonât be DJs anymore,â he insists.
âItâs nice to be recognised and for people to be into what you do, but certainly egos have become too big in this business.â
In recent months, in fact, Sebâs high status appears to have prompted a vicious campaign of abuse from the overblown egos of certain, presumably jealous, journalists, prompting a curious article by Pete Tong in a recent issue of Londonâs Standard newspaper
âType is the home of Seb Fontaine, also a Radio 1 colleague and someone who has overcome his critics in recent months following a spate of attacks from dance magazines keen to have the power to sway public opinion,â Tong wrote in a preview of Sebâs Kings Cross monthly.
âWell it didnât work, and Sebâs show on Radio 1 is still an integral part of the UKâs radio weekend, and Type is still one of Londonâs most vibrant clubs.â
Seb, himself, is keen to move on; preferring to discuss his new compilation CD Perfecto presents Seb Fontaine (out now on Paul Oakenfoldâs label Perfecto). Designed to reflect the kind of sets he plays these days (âit would be unfair to the punter, to come up with something completely different and unexpectedâ), the CD includes tracks from Salt Pervert, Agent Orange and David Guetta mixed together in a style heâs calling âelectronic house musicâ.
âItâs tougher that house, itâs not progressive and itâs certainly way ahead of trance,â says Seb.
âIt has more energy, itâs more electronic and typifies the new sound coming up. Itâs an emerging genre.â Itâs also the style of music heâll be spinning at this yearâs Glastonbury Festival as the headline act in the dance tent.
âI loved Glastonbury last year, people were dancing with absolutely no clue of who was playing, just for the sheer pleasure of listening to the music. They were really cool people, really open-minded, who could be hanging at one place for hours. Thatâs what festivals should be like.â
Skrufff: How was the whole Glastonbury Festival experience last year in general?
Seb Fontaine: âIt was absolutely amazing, it was my first time there and it was a real eye opener, definitely one of my best weekends ever. It was what festivals were always promised to me should be like, and it was just amazing. So much so, that I went back to the BBC and I asked to do a four hour special, creating a really good show with lots of things happening including live bands. Itâs taken a lot of preparation for this year, but I think itâs going to be really worth it.â
Skrufff: When you were in Glastonbury, did you stay in a luxury campervan or a tent?
Seb Fontaine: âNo, it was a caravan. The hardest thing was getting absolutely shit faced (drunk) after work and not realising that I should have put some sign or symbol on the caravan door before hand; there were thousands of identical caravans everywhere. It was like looking for one particular penguin in the Antarctic, theyâre all the same. But somehow I managed to find my bearings, eventuallyâ¦ Iâll take my missus (wife) this year, she couldnât come last year because she was expecting our baby.â
Skrufff: Are you planning to catch Radiohead and Moby?
Seb Fontaine: âUmmm, Iâm not sure about Radiohead, I find them a little bit too depressing, I have a love/hate relationship with them, I absolutely love a couple of their tracks, but not enough to go out and buy a whole album. Iâll certainly be seeing lots of other acts though. I remember meeting the Red Hot Chilli Peppers at a festival once, which was a high moment for me of my career. I also like The White Stripes.â
Skrufff: I saw on your website that you were supposed to be playing in Beijing this June, why did you cancel?
Seb Fontaine: âI didnât do it because of the SARS scare. I had to make a decision and it looked very scary at the time though I think the situation is more under control right now. Iâll be over there again soon, if not by the end of this year then at the beginning of next year.â
Skrufff: What about Australia?
Seb Fontaine: âI was there last year and Iâll probably go back by the end of this year too. Iâd love to travel a bit more if it wasnât for the radio show. You have to make choices in life and I know I really, really enjoy doing radioâ¦ much more than sitting on a plane, to be honest. Especially with the way the world is at the moment, where every bloke with a beard is viewed as a threat.â
Skrufff: Perfecto Presents Seb Fontaine has been internationally released simultaneously, how much did you make it with a global, as opposed to just a UK, audience in mind?
Seb Fontaine: âI did it completely with a global audience in mind. It makes sense, since UK CD sales represent such a small slice of the market right now. DJing is an international profession these days and DJs should be thinking internationally, I actually donât think in UK terms about anything specifically, except perhaps my Radio One show.â
Skrufff: How long did it take you to select the tracks?
Seb Fontaine: âQuite a long time actually, probably two months because I did half of it before Miami, then the other half when I returned to England. Then I went away again and on my return I decided I wanted to change a few things, againâ¦ I was tinkering for quite a long time over it.â
Skrufff: How do see the UK club/music scene at the moment?
Seb Fontaine: âI think itâs having an upturn at the moment. Last year it was pretty bad and everyone was panicking because clubs were quiet, but the recession has just affected the big clubs, the smaller ones are healthier than theyâve ever been. In London especially, there are some fantastic nights almost every weekend, from Bugged Out, to Underwater and so on. I really believe that in smaller environments the music works better, the days of the 2,500 people rooms are gone, quite frankly. This is probably a good thing because most artists were making music for large crowds and I donât think that was ever meant to be.â
Skrufff: How far ahead are you looking at the moment? Is Ibiza dominating your thoughts?
Seb Fontaine: âNot really. Musically thereâs something new going on which Iâd describe as electronic house musicâ¦ itâs tougher that house, itâs not progressive and itâs certainly way ahead of trance, it has more energy, itâs more electronic and typifies the new sound coming up. Itâs an emerging genre and I donât think Ibiza really covers it. Ibiza itâs great if youâre an American house DJ or a banging trance DJ, but I think in between, there something missing over there.â
Perfecto presents Seb Fontaine is out now.
By: Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)
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DJ Alixir from HKClubbing.com Interviews Simon Eve ...
Q How long have you been involved in the Dance Industry and how/where did the whole Eve trip begin for you?
A I started DJing in 1996 and made my first studio production in 1999. Label wise, I started Recharge with React Music back in 2000 before moving to Eve Records at the start of 2002. I brought the Recharge label over to Eve with me, and I manage it alongside the Recover, Discover and Retek labels here. Strangely enough, despite the name, Eve Records isn't my company - Pablo Gargano and Steven Lo Presti founded the label and continue to run it today.
Q How would you describe your DJ style and what kind of atmosphere do you try to invoke on the dancefloor during one of your sets?
A I'd describe my sound as the harder edge of house and trance - it's got to have energy and, with the house, an element of funk to it. During my sets I ultimately try to generate an energetic response from the dancefloor, and never by just playing obvious tunes.
Q Can you please explain for us where the name "Recoverworld" came from and what it personally means to you?
A OK, this is a bit of a complicated one, so I hope you're all paying attention! The Recover label was founded to 'recover' old releases on Eve Records, and is now our leading label. The Recover label combined with Antiworld promotions gave us the 'Recover' 'World' name.
Q Apart from Recoverworld, have there been any previous regular events you've personally brought into fruition?
A I've been involved with a few London based club nights over the years, including Sherbet and Wildlife at Heaven, but nothing to the extent of our Recoverworld night.
Q Recoverworld started in October 2002 and has been running ever since with several incredibly successful 1400 capacity sell-out events. What series of events led to the birth of the night and your showcasing of the finest talents at Brixton Fridge, London?
A Antiworld were already established as leading underground promoters in London, and with us being a leading London based label and looking to showcase our artists and expand our operations, it seemed like perfect partnership.
Q What do you see Recoverworld evolving into in the future? Are we to expect to see a world tour from your night in the future? Perhaps in Asia?
A Who knows - whatever the people want it to evolve into! We make our parties for party people and followers of the label, so these people obviously influence the style and direction of the night. We've already done tour nights at Dance Academy in Plymouth and Sinergy in Manchester in the UK, although I think a world tour is still some way off!
Q If you were to put the whole "Recoverworld" experience into one word, what would it be?
A Difficult questionâ¦ I think "Recoverworld" says it all really. It's the world of Recover and everything we do!
Q What came first? The night or the label?
A The label led the way and was launched three years before the club night.
Q What major future releases are we set to see from your label in the future?
A Coming up on Recover we have Neo & Farina present Wav Assassin 'Wav Assassin' and the new K90 single 'Dreamer', while Recharge has a new track from Mark Gray titled 'Why Am I?'
Q The trance sound, do you think you've managed to create a long lasting impression within the industry with your releases so far that will distinctly separate your label from the myriads of others? Are yourself and your artists aiming to shape the future sound of trance?
A With the Recover label I think the fact we've had over 25 releases already must mean we're doing something right, and we certainly seem to have built a loyal fan base over the years, so we're definitely making an impression with some people out there. We always look to push musical boundaries with our releases and events, although "Aiming to shape the future sound of trance" sounds a bit over the top - we're modest people here at Recover!
For more information check out www.recoverworld.com
DJ Alixir from HKClubbing.com Interviews Alex Bau ...
Q: Alex, whether you're performing as a DJ or a live act, what is the mood you try to set throughout your set? How do you go about achieving this?
Alex: well, first of all I am just djing, because I think that this is for the me personally the most likely way to ensure that the people get entertained. there are much better live acts than I could probably ever be, for example my label partner Sven. what I try to reach with my performance is a massive freaking dancefloor and a unique impression with the audience. they should leave the club in the morning with a happy feeling after getting served different sorts of uncommercial electronic music.
Q: Do you have any current residencies at the moment? Is there a certain venue or country you regularly play?
Alex: I don't have a residency in the basis meaning of the word. there are events that are promoted by a friend of mine in cooperation with me, where I play in average 4 or 5 times a year. I had a weekly resident club from 94 to 98 but I am now more happy with not being bound to the same venue every week.
Q: Do you normally headline every gig you play or do you sometimes guest or act as support?
Alex: both, there are event where I am the headliner, but I also appear on events where more popular names are obviously the main reason for the people to visit the party.
Q: Who gave you your first ever break at a club and how did you achieve it? Was it through a friend or by media means? How long have you been playing for now?
Alex: I started djing in 1992 on semi-professional events, for example school-parties etc. I played different styles, everything from jerry lee lewis or elvis over synthiepop like depeche mode (which I still love very much!) to rage against the machine or ministry, but also still the early techno records (without success at that time - people left the dancefloor...). at that time I never expected that the time would come where I could live from music! I expect this as a real gift!
Q: Can you name a gig in a country other than your own that you've played where a local unknown DJ has really blown you away? Where was it?
Alex: yes, it was an open air event in Yugoslavia last year, where a local dj, very young but extremely talented, really played an incredible set. with two decks he created an atmosphere as playing on three, very dense and fast as well as exact mixing in combination with really good records. unfortunately I don't remember his name...
Q: Setting up a record label can be a huge risk, were you sure that it would keep the rent paid? Have you had many troubled times when you weren't sure whether you were doing the right thing, or did you have friends in other record labels with good advice for you?
Alex: every day I again think about if it still worth to spend so much energy on the whole thing, but then, when listening to a single banging record, I am again totally dedicated to the sound. I expect it as a real privilege to be able to live from my hobby, even if it means less security as sitting in a large company and getting paid regularly. we had some experience with producing and labels before of course, but we wanted to make our own decisions.
Q: How exactly did you come up with the label name Toneman?
Alex: basically I don't know at all, it was sven`s idea. the basic meaning is that it's all about the combination of single tones, and the label is the "person" that transports the philosophy out to the audience. I am not good in explaining, I know...
Q: How long has it taken to achieve your current status? Do you feel that you have been working yourself hard enough? Do you constantly think and feel that there is always more that you could do?
Alex: I would not say that you can call my position "status", I am far away from people like vÃ¤th or liebing, who have achieved a real status over the years, even if I also work with the sound now for so many years. of course we have left the stage of beginners, but for me success can not be measured by counting the autographs you give through the night. it's more about getting a state of perfection in what you prefer to do, and for this goal you can never work enough, as far as I have experienced.
Q: If you wasn't a DJ and producer, what do you feel that you'd be doing with your life at the present moment?
Alex: maybe due to my studies (business administration...) I would work in a managing position in a company, I don't know. somehow, from a certain point I knew for myself that I will work on techno. as a child I wanted to become a bank-clerk. or maybe I would have become a pilot, I don't know...
Q: What's the best gig you ever played? Can you describe the feeling that you remember from playing it?
Alex: puh, difficult question. there were so many real good ones... it's funny, but the response to my last set last Saturday was tremendous, and when I found myself on the dancefloor together with the people at 3.30 in the morning, seeing them screaming and shouting even when I forgot to mix the next record, this is like being in heaven. I was part of the party, a part of the crowd, having a relation to the audience, this is something you can not explain! also quite good gigs I experienced in eastern Europe, especially Yugoslavia. they all party like hell! and they are just taking care about the music, not so much about the "popstar"-behaviour, some famous dj's unfortunately show up...
Q: Everybody has played a gig where maybe they weren't the right act for the night. Have you ever played a gig where it's all gone wrong from the outset!
Alex: of course I also had... but I deleted it... ;-)
Q: You've had some pretty amazing techno artists producing and releasing through Toneman. Did you personally know any of these before working with them or did you have to approach them with a proposal?
Alex: we already had a good connection to Chris liebing, pascal feos and rush even before we asked them to produce for toneman. over the years we then also established good connections to our new artists like multitude, maxx cavalerra or men of noise. we don't select artists by their names, we select them just on looking on the concept for the release or the question if their sound generally fits on toneman. as a result of trying to be flexible, we have many different acts on the label.
Q: Will Toneman continue to release inspiring techno tracks from the artists you already have onboard or do you occasionally look for new talent?
Alex: both, of course we are always open for new demos, but there are also some real famous candidates, we would like to see on toneman... ;-) it always depends on the records and the selected tracks. basically we want to push young talented acts by getting remixed by "big names" for example. there are many possibilities...
Q: Sven Dedek is co-owner of Toneman and your production partner. How long have you known each other. Would it have been a lot harder to get to where you are now without Sven? How long have you known each other?
Alex: we know each other since 1995, when Sven called me during my weekly radio show on a local station here in south-east Bavaria. we then started more and more common activities and became friends. some people say we behave like a an old couple... funny as we both are not gay!
Q: Propulsion has now been released and you're promoting the album with a coinciding tour. What artists will be featured within the tour? What country will you be mainly playing?
Alex: we had Justin berkovi, ian void, multitude, maxx cavalerra, Christian fischer (men of noise), mike-l and of course ourselves on the tour. we have been playing in Germany (8 out of 15 dates) as well as in Holland, Croatia, Hungary, Austria and Switzerland. brazil had to be cancelled unfortunately!
Q: What's in the future for Toneman? How are you going to achieve it?
Alex: we want to become the biggest label in the world, ;-)... no, basically we just want to promote our definition of pure techno in the usually sense. techno is still music, even if there are too many loopy productions on the market in our eyes. we want to promote techno, that has the potential to satisfy people with different tastes. how to achieve this? always trying to give the best I can... very simple, or?
For more information please visit www.toneman.de
DJ Alixir from HKClubbing.com Interviews Soul of Man ...
In the late eighties, producers Justin Rushmore and Jem Panufnik began to forge a new breed of funk that has been adamantly influential during the course of a style we know today as breakbeat. A sound first hinted at during the early eighties by fairlight wizards, The Art Of Noise, with tracks like âClose To The Editâ amongst other sampled break/backbeat classics. Originally, Justin and Jemâs Finger Lickinâ label was created as a vessel to launch themselves as upon the dance scene.
Apart from achieving their own recognition, Finger Lickinâ has become a stage for them to be seen as world class leaders amongst the ranks, with global heavyweight acts such as The Plump DJs joining their musical wagon of continual success. Justin and Jem have already unleashed breakbeat classics such as âKillabrewâ and âLove and Hateâ under the guise of âSoul Of Manâ, tracks that have dominated the dancefloor and become firm favourites with DJs and producers alike. HKClubbing.comâs DJ Alixir caught up with the dynamic duo and questioned them on future tours, an expected album release and all things that âbreakâ in the nightâ¦..
A: How long have you both been in partnership for producing music? What came first, the DJing or the music?
Jem: Justin and I first met and almost straight away started making music in '96- we started a tiny label as a way of releasing house tracks we were making called "Spirits of Inspiration". The creative relationship worked so well because Justin, a fairly prolific house DJ, wanted a musician/ producer to help put his ideas down, and I needed a much more specific club-angle to the funky grooves I was knocking out and he was able to provide that. The result was me learning about DJing and Justin about production and the mix is not only pretty balanced now, but goes hand in hand.
A: What lead yourselves into the world of Breaks? What inspires your sound?
Jem: We can both identify a point when we thought "wow - we can do that!" when we heard a Freestylers DJ set on the radio about seven years ago now. It seemed to fuse our passion for house with all other things funky and hip-hoppy, at a time when a lot of dance music was sounding very much the same and uninspiring. Justin had also started his record shop, Vinyl Addiction, and could see this underground genre bubbling away first- hand. It was a very exciting time.
A: Q As most of us know, partnerships take a lot of work but when they work, they work well. Has Soul Of Man always been about the both of you? How long have you worked together and do you often work apart from each other?
Jem: As said above, the roles were initially more defined - Justin with his DJ head on would come up with a concept, perhaps even a sample, and I would translate that musically into something we both dug and off it would go. We have both learnt an enormous amount over the years about each other's trade and the roles have blended somewhat now, but it still acts as a constructive factor, and we never proceed with something unless we're both happy. We are lucky to have a good communication and a good understanding of each other. We don't always agree - but that's life!
A: What lies at the bottom of the experience that is Soul Of Man?
Jem: Probably the things I have mentioned - we both have our musical influences - Justin with house, me with funk, and the way we've been learning to apply it to our music - the result is deeply funky hypnotic dancefloor monsters! Djing provides a lot of experience - knowing what you would want to play with behind the decks means getting in the studio and actually making it. There is nothing more of a buzz than witnessing something you've been hammering out in the studio, imagining it on the dancefloor, and then seeing it do it's job!
A: What do you believe that makes your sound so encapsulating and rewarding upon the dance floor?
Jem: The funk! There are an awful lot of breaks producers who seem to forget the general purpose of dance music - to make people dance! If we're not jigging about in the studio it's probably not going to make the crowds move...
A: Is there something formulaic about your sound or do you not tend to follow templates for production?
Jem: There's nothing formulaic - you will notice that not many of our tracks sound that similar, although there is definitely a production sound - inevitable when you do everything in the same studio. Tracks seem to take their own route a lot of the time. What may have been started with a specific concept will invariably take a life of it's own by the end.
A: Best gig ever played so far? Why was it so memorable?
Jem: The one that will probably stay in our memories for ever was the first time we played Field Day at New Years in Sydney in 2002 - it was a huge outdoor breaks-lead event that climaxed with a Finger Lickin' Allstars set at the end in front of 17,000 people - us, Plump DJs, Matt and Aston Freestylers and Krafty Kuts spun back to back in front of a sea of faces - it was an awesome spectacle from our angle! It was one of the happiest and proudest moments in my life - being on the other side of the world, and the people loved the music they were hearing. It will be hard to top that!
A: You've done a lot more remix work than current releases to date, was this intended or have you not had much time for the studio?
Jem: It is hard trying to make time in the studio - Justin deals with the business side of the label and has fingers in other pies too - it's pretty full on! It's ironic since Finger Lickin' was set up really as a vehicle for our own stuff, but it's totally taken over! We are on a mission though- we are aiming to complete an album by July and it is already shaping up pretty nicely.
A: Where are you headed for the summer? Big gigs and festivals abound?
Jem: Loads of big gigs and festivals - we're off to do a tour in Australia in July - setting off the day after Glastonbury which may be tricky (!), Big Chill, Shambahla in Canada, plus Poland, Spain, Finland, Ibiza - it's going to be busy!
A: You've already played acclaimed gigs in Japan and various other locations in Asia and Australia, is there anyone who's supported you in those areas that blew you away?
Jem: What most bowled us over in Japan was the excitement and enthusiasm for the label - needless to say DJs supporting us were also technically brilliant! In Australia the hat goes off to Jesse Kinobi - talented, energetic and a top bloke too.
A: What's up the evolutionary ladder for Soul Of Man, breaks forever or experimental dips into other musical genres?
Jem: It's never been "breaks forever" - there's an undeniably housey side to our sound and we both yearn to knock out some purely house monsters sometime...doing this album too has enabled us to be a bit more indulgent and we've been messing about with much slower tempos and sounds. Making tracks as 12" singles can be limiting in that you are providing music with one function - for DJs to play and people to dance to. An album is something people have in their homes and cars, and as a result you can take them on a different sort of journey - you can afford to be more musical and expressive. There is a lot of unchartered waters with our music making - limited only by the time we have to experiment. The mission is to make more time for it, and stretch the boundaries even further.
A: "The Lick" is soon to grace us on the other side of summer, will this release be twinned with a large scale tour of worldly proportions? Perhaps Hong Kong?
Jem: It's not actually going to be called "The Lick" any more! The album was initially going to be a sort of compilation of our remixes and bootlegs and that name suited that well - we're still going to do it, but further down the line. We're now instead producing an actual "artist" album (working title at the moment is "Soul Shaker"). There most definitely will be a tour to support it in October and nothing would make us happier than to come to Hong Kong! The Plumps had a fantastic time there at the beginning of the year and we want to see it for ourselves!
Visit there label website at http://www.fingerlickin.co.uk/ for more information.