Cor.ece is a whole vibe. The LA-based vocalist and songwriter recently exploded onto the scene through an incendiary collaboration with Honey Dijon on her Defected singles “Unleash” and “Work,” and now Cor.ece delivers his own unique musical statement with his solo debut on RNT, the Dance To Keep From Crying EP.
Leading the project is Possibly Impossible, with RNT’s JKriv on production and Dave Giles III on the mic. The A-side fuses airy and expansive vocal soundscapes with a certifiably infectious hook, and shows Cor.ece’s dynamism as a performer and songwriter.
Nothing But Me rides a low-slung groove, leaving room for Corece’s vocal percussion & lyricism, before Sky85 arrives as a moody late-nite R&B burner. With sultry vocal textures layered over a driving machine drum beat and electro bassline, the LA singer delves into darker vocal territory in this song that’s as hauntingly emotive as it is catchy.
The title track Dance To Keep From Crying, produced by JKriv and featuring the keyboard wizardry of Jason Lindner, elevates energy with crisp house kicks and a punchy analog-tinged bassline igniting the two-step, while closing duty comes with What’s The Word’s acidic synth-driven deviance featuring Danny Kane.
With interlude skits from Darrell J. Hunt sprinkled throughout the EP, Cor.ece brings it full circle on his first feature length project.
My pleasure, I believe I am a citizen of the world, but I was born in the mid-west of the United states; a haven for blues and soul music. I’ve been an artist since before I even knew what the word meant. I’m so happy that it has manifested itself in a few different forms of creativity, including making music. I currently have a project called “Dance To Keep From Crying” coming out on a super-hot label, Razor-N-Tape, a space that has allowed me to sing, write, perform, and create visual media to support the music.
Tell us where you are based today and where you are from originally?
I live just outside of Downtown Los Angeles, which L.A. is becoming the unexpected creative centre of the United States – a very unlikely cosmos. It’s nice to not only be in the mix, but to also impact it with my own art. Originally, I was born in St.Louis, Missouri and came of age in Chicago.
There is clearly a sound that is Cor.ece. What words would ‘you’ chose to define that sound?
From the beginning I’ve called my music hopeful-electro-soul. It still remains true. You can listen to any of my records and locate one or more of those themes.
Who are the artists that have inspired you in your life time?
Too many to even narrow down. It also depends on the day. Sometimes I’m thinking about Stevie Wonder or Nina Simone, Peven Everett, Frank Ocean or Rahsaan Patterson – my music would be a lot smaller without the work of these people before me.
If you had a pick a genre to ‘listen’ over everything else, what would it be?
This is a setup. How can I pick one? I think if I was stuck on a one-genre island I’d go with house music because it has soul, jazz, African roots, electronic – so many things. I’d be satisfied with the vastness of that genre.
What is your all-time favourite to ‘dance to’ record?
I just finished a mix for Razor-N-Tape’s podcast and I put some of those on there. Anything by Peggy Gou, like ‘Starry Night’, I love James Brown, Aly-Us ‘Follow Me’ and Mike Dunn ‘If I Can’t Get Down.’ I’ve also been listening to a lot of my friends’ records like Honey DiJon, Dave + Sam and Life On Planets. They are all in my dance mix.
How did you hook up with Razor-N-Tape to host your new release?
I worked with JKriv separately on a Honey DiJon record a few years back. We vibed and casually stated we wanted to create stuff specifically for RNT. Fast forward two years later and “Dance To Keep From Crying,” the EP, was born.
Talk us through the EP a little..
Certainly, it’s full of disco-funk, soul and dance tracks along with an especially emotional song called ‘What’s The Word.’ I worked with so many people I admire on this like producers Danny Kane, Tim K and of course JKriv. It has 5 songs, 2 very special – and funny – interludes. ‘Possibly Impossible’ and ‘Sky85’ were the first two singles, respectively, with the last single ‘Dance To Keep From Crying’ out now. The entire project is about finding a way to do what you need to do to be happy in a world that may not be all that concerned with our personal needs–so guess what? We have to be concerned. It’s thoughtful, yet still about moving and grooving.
This release is for lovers of …
Good music they can surprise a crowd with.
If someone wanted to get to know your taste, what album should they listen to, to know you more?
Where should we listen to this EP and what should we be drinking?
I hope you are drinking a Mezcal Margarita or some good Whiskey, neat. And you should definitely be listening to this at a discotheque, or at the very least in your living room with all of the furniture moved to the side–so you can dance.
What you got coming up in 2022?
My EP dropping August 5th is my biggest focus, but people can keep up with me across platforms by checking out @Cor.ece – I live on instagram.
Yannick Roberts is a Dutch producer who popped onto the Freerange radar following a rather tasty release on S3A’s excellent Sampling As An Art label. Yannick’s own take on the deep, disco-influenced Detroit house sound spearheaded by fellow countrymen Dam Swindle, Fouk and Nachtbraker is warm and punchy with a big sound which feels like the perfect fit for Freerange.
This four track EP kicks off with title track I Can’t Hide From Myself and rolls along perfectly with the help of an infectious roughed up bassline, crunchy hihats and saturated claps. Next up we have the shuffled bumpy groove of Glorious Illusions reminding us of early Dam Swindle complete with sampled stabs and necksnapping beats.
Flipping over we’re treated to Femme Fatale which continues the dusty chopped up MPC sampled vibe in fine style with looped up vocals adding bags of extra energy. Closing out the release we have Desalniettemin which treads a similar path but with a more jazzy approach cutting up some classic Philly soul and reimagining it into a late-night, heads-down basement jam.
Thanks for talking to us today Yannick! It’s great to chat ahead of your new EP ‘I Can’t Hide From Myself’ on Freerange Records.For our readers that are new to you, can you take a moment to introduce yourself?
Sure! My name is Yannick and I formerly made music as Ouvrijster, which might or might not be familiar. I have been doing this for a few years now, but actually work as a Finance Specialist and Event Producer in the film festival industry. I love making and playing music and will continue doing so in whatever pace and style I feel like.
You are based in the city of Amsterdam. How is the club scene there right now, good and healthy?
I think generally it is now really getting better for the venues after the pandemic, although I haven’t been clubbing a lot myself. That’s because musically there has been a shift towards more paced and darker music in Amsterdam. Combined with an increased drug minded crowd, I don’t feel connected on a dance floor lately. Additionally, I feel like the audience here is not aware or educated in what a DJ actually does or needs to do and that clubs here have turned into concerthall set-ups, which both result in too many DJ’s with too fast growing careers and clubs with similar programmes or even the exact same line-up as others. There are still parties for me, but I have to search for them.
Your sound touches on disco, with some classic house and Detroit vibes. How would YOU best describe the sound that is Yannick Roberts?
I think you described it like that in the best way and I don’t want to make it more complicated than this. As Yannick Roberts I tent to focus more on this classic house sound while I still love to incorporate older Disco and soul. So I keep searching for that groove, to dance too, and for that soul, to feel! There’s a lot of sensational producers from your city! Nachbraker, Dam Swindle, Frits Wentink. What’s in the water in Amsterdam? Haha, that is true. These producers are all connected trough Heist Recordings though, which made them all grew together. Dam Swindle still do amazing work in that sense for producers in this scene, in Amsterdam and in the whole of the Netherlands actually. They are unfortunately all more of an export product of the Netherlands than around here to dance too, which I think is too bad. Again, this is a result of the current club scene here I think. Also their music is inspired by or more similar to music from outside of the Netherlands, which is typical here. Besides the larger Hardcore Progressive EDM genres, I don’t think we really have our own musical club style in electronic dance music, so we mix it up and listen often to styles from other countries. That definitely broadens once scope, musical taste and feeling for music.
I was in love with your ‘Staying Sane’ release on Sampling As An Art. Very Moodymann!!! When you make music under your OuvriJster moniker how does the vibe differ for you?
Well, as Ouvrijster I often felt I was trying to make something out of sounds that wouldn’t fit actually and ended up sounding wrong. With that Staying Sane record I learned to let go of that and let the sample be what it wants to be, more of an approach by S3A himself or what Moodymann does indeed. Therefore, I changed the name so I can feel more often that I can let go not only through but also in the making of music.
What can you tell us about your label Dievegge Recordings? What is the next release planned?
I started Dievegge Recordings to test out things for myself and to keep a certain musical focus alive. Maybe also to create a community around it where friends could release music and earn all the profits, to be part of something. I experienced some great moments and label parties but it never really lifted off, so for now the project is sleeping until the right moment comes.
Who are the artists and producers that inspire the music that you make right now?
For inspiration, I currently listen to this older house music style, Strictly Rhythm stuff from Visual and Logic, but also Workin’ Happily, JohNick, Kenny Dope and of course Kerri Chandler. But I am also always inspired by music from Moodymann and Theo Parrish. However, to begin making music, I always start with Soul and Disco. So I listen to that, or Hip-hop that sampled it as well, most of the time actually.
How did you hook up with Freerange Records?
I have always had Freerange in my mind as a dream to release on. For me the clubbing and music making really started when I heard Brotherman of Dam Swindle when going out. Once those stabs got in I lost myself in dancing and was sold to the music. So once I made ‘I Can’t Hide From Myself’, I finally took a leap of faith and reached out.
Can you talk us through your new Ep a little?
As mentioned, I start out with Soul and Disco records. Everything you hear on this record is sampled. I always wanted to do something with Brass Construction and finally managed to do so for ‘I Can’t Hide From Myself’. I sampled and played around with the keys which you can hear by the distorted percussion. The title came from how I resonated to that vocals in the track, while the lead was added to comfort that feeling.
The same motivation was for ‘Glorious Illusions’ were I wanted to do something with Grover Washington Jr. for a long time. It asked for stabs, that I sampled from another record years before, in that old Dam Swindle on Freerange style. Slightly darker and again with a vocals from other records that resonated with me at the time. I just love that laughing vocal with that delayed drop.
‘Femme Fatale’ is mostly connected to how I made music as Ouvrijster and might be seen as this transition track for me. The groove of the Archie Bells sample gets me every time and the off beat sampling was so much fun to make. My Hip-hop side also got some room in this record, which I also love to make on off days.
The last track ‘Desalniettemin’, which is dutch for nevertheless, contains maybe 5 or more samples from different records. I really wanted to lay down a slower spacey groove with that wicked sound in the style of Junktion, who I listened to a lot then (and still do). That style is truly beautiful and he is one of the nicest persons in the scene. But also some clear Moodymann inspiration here.
If someone wanted to get to know Yannick Roberts a little better, what album should they listen to?
This is my first outing under this new moniker, so this is a good start for whatever comes next haha.
What do you do when you’re not making music?
I am actually doing finance at IDFA, the largest documentary film festival in the world, most of the time and produce this small open air film festival called Pluk de Nacht. I am also taking classes each half year to learn something new. Now I am dancing salsa, but I am thinking about taking singing classes the second half of this year. It is a way to keep developing for me in life. If we get to the city of Amsterdam this year, where’s a great place we should check? Well, if you want to go record shopping, you must stop by Rush Hour of course, but make sure to also check KillaCutz for House and Zap Records and Waxwell for Disco and Soul. For drinks I like to go to this gin distillery in my neighborhood called ’t Nieuwe Diep or beer brewery called Oedipus. And if you want to go clubbing, check club Lovelee and Sissi’s or organizations like Bibi and Late Night Burners.
Have you got any gigs coming up that you want to drop here?
Not right but I would love to play records out more! If you are reading this and would like me to come over to your party to play records, then please drop a line!
What else are you working on right now?
I have found the time and a pleasant pace to make more music, so I am constantly trying out stuff and finishing new tracks that yet have to find a home. I am also looking for a place, organization or club to play records more occasionally were I could grow together with others and discuss music more often. Sort of community or group to share music with.
SIRS returns to his own Sirsounds Records imprint with arguably his most evocative work to date, serving two sumptuous original compositions on the searingly personal ‘Moments Of Life EP’.
Berlin-based musical polymath Daniel Klein is SIRS (Sounds In Real Stereo), and his project has won over an abundance of admirers across the dance underground in recent years, with DJ Harvey, Sean Johnston, Palms Trax, and Roman Flügel just some of those regularly championing his far-reaching sounds. He’s produced and remixed for benchmark labels including Public Possession, Live at Robert Johnson, Compost, Future Disco, and Music for Dreams, and has been drafted to remix artists as diverse as 2raumwohnung and Ennio Morricone. His latest release arrives on the label he launched in 2017 to provide a home for his effervescent output as well as choice titles and remixes from the likes of Lovebirds, Tiger & Woods, and Residentes Balearicos among others.
‘Moments Of Life’ begins with an emotionally charged tribute to his former lover, Anna, who tragically passed away on May 1st, 2021 following a battle with cancer. Named after the Russian word for Istanbul, ‘Stambul (The Flowers Of The Garden)’ reminisces of treasured time the pair spent in their “city of love” during the throes of the pandemic. With most borders closed, Istanbul was the only place they could travel to from their respective homes in Moscow and Berlin. The music vividly conjures surreal moments they spent wandering the deserted streets of the usually bustling city – memories SIRS earnestly channels in the song’s powerfully emotive intro.
Providing vocals on ‘Stambul’ is Stockholm-based poet, singer and songwriter Aino, whose ‘Gingko’ track – released by her two-piece Askel & Aino – was a favourite of Daniel and Anna’s. Her bewitching vocal glides over a sumptuous backing track of delicately woven instrumentation, with haunting string solos soaring over Latin guitar as infectious slap bass and live drums maintain the groove. The profoundly beautiful song arrives in three iterations, with the ‘Instrumental Version’ allowing the intricate musicality to take centre stage while the ‘Radio Edit’ should ensure Klein’s heartfelt message is heard far and wide.
Completing a stunning release, the life-affirming waves of ‘Marimar’ serve as a gorgeously fitting counterpoint to the EP’s introspective mood. Set to a stirring tempo, shimmering synth melodies saunter across a crisp disco rhythm as optimistic bass notes and emotive chords combine for a sublime yet discreetly poignant dancefloor celebration.
This most intimate of releases sees SIRS lays his soul bare while displaying staggering range. The results are nothing short of enchanting.
For those of our readers that are new to your name can you take a moment to introuduce yourself?
My name is Daniel Klein, I am 19 years old and born at home.. Hehe, just kidding. Well…. I’ve been quite a long time in the music buisness and don’t know where to start to be honest. I started Djing in 1991 and had my first remixes and productions in the mid 90s. I did over the years close to 100 Remixes, tons of my own productions and various CD compilations (when the CD was still relevant). Recently I finished school for Filmscore as this is something I really want to do in the future, when kids don’t feel my music longer my music 😊
Tell us where you are from and where you are based?
I am German, born in the East part of Germany back then the socialism part of the country. This has influenced me a lot I guess, especially the 80s when I started to go the first time to a club, listening to Electronic body music and going to underground acid parties in East Berlin. And now I am based in Berlin since 2020, before I lived for 20 years in between Ibiza & Mallorca, living la dolce vita 🙂
Where are you today and what are you doing?
Today I am in Berlin, just returned from Mexico City and NYC where I had some shows. Gonna be for the next weeks in Berlin as I have to do finishing work in the studio and playing some little Berlin gigs.
If you had to put into a few words the type of music that you make, what words would you choose? Or is that just too hard?
Really hard to describe as I cover a wide range of genres from electronic, Balearic, cosmic Italo/ nu disco to leftfield, boogie & house-ish stuff. For productions when starting new tracks/songs/ or remixes I don’t use any template so that’s why I think all of my productions sound different. I always start from scratch as I like to experiment and discover new sounds and ways to express what I just feel in the moment. That’s why it often takes a long time to finish a track! I started many years ago sampling anything from my record collection ( disco, soul, boogie) kicks, synths, percussion, effects, vocal snippets etc. So, these are my fundamental base of any production I do. I started collecting vintage synthesizers which I include in my productions and so I work mostly outboard when it comes to sounds. And when it comes to DJ sets, there is music for every occasion that I like to present and play, whether it is at a beach club, a dance club or festival.
Is it true you were a resident at Space?
Yes that’s true. I had been a resident at Space from 1996 till 2000 at the infamous Sunday sessions and Manumissions Carry on(After Party) every Tuesday. I guess this has been the golden times before Ibiza became very VIP and in a way commercial. But still it‘s a beautiful island with lots to offer. Unfortunately Space closed down and since some years it’s now called HI.
Space is one of the best clubs in the world! What is your most memorable night at Space?
Yes, Space was voted various times the best club in the world. There are so many great memories I saved and it‘s really hard to mention just one. The special event back then when Carl Cox had his debut, or with David Morales, these have been some of those great moments to remember. I received so much love back then from the audience as I was playing a different type of sound back then in Ibiza. For me the greatest moments been the morning rituals, when Space opened at 8am and me drinking the Cola Cao (spanish choko ) and the boquadillo before starting to open the club. I always played on the terrace, back then the sound system was really shit but we got the most out of it. Those terrace moments have never been back that way. Together with Jose de Devina and then late Alfredo joined us. We had sooo many amazing mornings. Openings, Space B days and closings have been always the parties of the year in Ibiza.
I read that you did a remix for Ennio Morricone. What can you tell us about this incredible opportunity?
Yes this was a remix project organized by Compost Records & Sony Music. Many producers (Chicken Lips, International Pony, Alex Attias, Dan Curtin) have been involved in this project to choose one of their favorite Ennio Morricone tracks. I had been growing up with Bud Spencer & Terrence Hill´s Italo Spagetti Western and -My name is Nobody – and the film music was always one of my childhood favourites. Easy to remember and just a beautiful song writing. I still have it in my head. So I chose this one and was very happy to be part of this amazing remix project album.
Tell us about your new moniker SIRS and what does this mean to the evolution of Daniel Klein?
I never was really convinced about my given name Daniel Klein and rarely produced under that name. So, I always used monikers such Gucciman, Kiez Kidz, Santiago, Dara Band. SIRS stands for Sounds in real stereo and I started this project in 2007 when I remixed KOOP, 2 Raumwohnung etc. Growing up and learning by myself doing productions I was always in love with Stereo sounds – especially when it comes to the final mixing process handling each sound as a star giving it its own space. So I thought SIRS could be a nice name even leaving space to be joined in the future by other people )In the beginning people thought it’s a distribution company as I did also many Edits which I named SIRS CUTS – Eric Duncan was one of those who told me about it 🙂
When did Sirsounds Records begin and what was was/ is your vision for the label?
After a long break from music I started Sirsounds Records in 2017 as a platform for myself & close friends. I had another label from 1999 -2004 called. Flamingo Discos – together with Kiko Navarro. That label was very successful but at one point. Living in Ibiza I was kind of in the face of the lifestyle of clubs & music so got infected again! I had releases and remixes from artists such Lovebirds, Tiger & Woods, The Revenge, Manoo, Alkalino, Raiders of the lost Arp etc.The feedback over the years was amazing and so I continued to release from time to time on my own label. I try to release timeless music and of course it has to be within what like and feel. I never have been royalty driven when producing or releasing music. Its just about the music and the love for it.
Your album – Banana Hard & Disco Kisses – has a fairly cheeky title.
Hehe, yes indeed! It’s kind of a double meaning but leaving space for everybody else interpretation. If you know what I mean 🙂 Disco Kisses is an expression for little tingle tingle without going really further and deeper!I found it a funny name not really thinking about it. The music on the album ranges from Balkan beats to Italo disco, soul, and deep house.
Who are the artists that inspired you from yesterday and make it onto your record decks?
Master at Work, Roger Sanchez, MK, Chez Damier, Dj Duke, Idjut Boys, Faze Action. During the mid-90s I was a sucker for Dutch house music with labels likes Fresh & Fruit, Outland. There are some amazing timeless tunes which i still play like the After Midnight Mix on outland Records from Jasper Street Company – A feeling. It’s a killer ! Also, Disco & boogie from the 70s- 80s inspired me very much ending in collecting these records spending too much money on eBay auctions 🙂 Patrick Adams was one of my favorite producers & involved in so many impressive productions. I had some years ago the possibility to see & hear him in NYC at the Music of Patrick Adams by Red Bull Music Academy But there are so many more to mention …
Who is making great music today by which you are impressed?
I am sure I am missing out on so many – also with the tons of music releases in now days it’s difficult to have a complete overview (at least for me ). There are so many talented producers out there and its always great to discover new stuff. As a producer I really love the music from Axel Boman, Lipelis, Lovebirds, Dea Barandana, Midnight Runners, Niklas Wandt to name a few. As a Dj I really feel DJ Harvey especially his all night long / extended sets where he covers a big range of music. It’s just as it has to be, a pure pleasure to listen ! Can’t wait for his Mercury Rising at Pikes Ibiza 🙂
If someone wanted to get to know more about Daniel Klein, what album would you recommend they listen to?
Marvin Gay – I want you – Album
Talk us through your stunning new EP a little.
In my Moments of Life EP, I am processing two life changing moments which happened to me over the last 12 months. Stambul is dedicated to my ex-girlfriend Anna – she passed away 1st May 2021 from Cancer. This affected me very much as we have been on the peak of our relationship. Whilst the pandemic made it very complicated for us ( Anna – Moscow based, me Berlin based ) to travel and to meet, the only destination which was open to us was Istanbul. We walked the empty city ( because of the curfew ) many times. I tried to picture this feeling in the intro of Stambul. After Annas passing I was in a personal and creative hole. I had to accept the situation and tried learn out of this. Beginning 2022 I met my new partner in Berlin – Marija. Such a beautiful and sensitive soul. She was such a strong hold for me and inspired me again to continue with music. I fall in Love with here and the ‘Marimar’ track reflects the positive feelings I earned again for a person and my life. I am very grateful for this life lessons which made me grow, trying to become a better human every day.
What makes you happy Daniel?
Many things can make me happy, my Family and very close friends, and my new Partner Marija. Sometimes I walk the Tempelhofer field to inhale the spirit of the city. Seeing families and their happy kids makes me very happy. Honest and great feedback on my productions & DJ sets making me happy on a professional level.
What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve ever done?
I really don’t know what to say but I guess many things – but can’t talk about them 😉
What do you like to do to chill down?
Watching documentaries, playing chess, walking through parks, smoking weed from time to time, having a delicious dinner and a glass of beautiful red wine, sunrises & sunsets, storms, and thunder
Where can we catch you soon?
Berlin in July
Pollensa Beach Party Mallorca
Pikes Ibiza in August
Robert Johnson Offenbach in August
End November to December – South America tour ( Bogota, CDMX, Tulum, Guadalajara, Torreon)
December – February Asia tour (Singapore, Bali, Australia, Vietnam )
What have you got in the pipeline?
Next Release is on Live at Robert Johnson in August. There’s Lovebirds feat Stee Downes ‘Freedom’ (SIRS REMIX) September. Larse feat Stud ‘Forever’( SIRS Remix). SIRS Treibsand / Day after Anna releases in September on Sirsounds. Sirs Sampler with some Cuts & Moments of Life via Prime Direct in October. Also working on a few Remixes for Best Records.
Makèz have come a long way since they first sneaked into Amsterdam’s studio 80 at the age of 17 to hand over their demos to Dam Swindle. Those demos led to their debut EP ‘Different planets’ on Heist in 2019 which gained major support from artists like Seth Troxler and Chez Damier. Quickly after, they signed two records on New York based label Let’s Play House. Fast forward two years, and here we are: the release of their debut album “City of all”.
“City of all” shows an admirable level of sophistication and matureness and effortlessly bridges genres across its 13 tracks. You can feel the amount of thought that has been put into this record, with songs happily blending into each other as Makèz submerge themselves in their concept of accidental encounters, inclusiveness and what it means to live in a city like Amsterdam. On “City of all”, Makèz bring together all the musical influences they’ve picked up in their life as music fans, clubbers and art students.
The jazz-funk of opening track “The entrance” feels breezy, casual almost, like the freeform rhythms that are played in a jazz club during soundcheck. That energy also oozes from “Not so different”, which features the smooth vocals of LYMA. There’s a hint of the house-meets-R’n B vibe that made Anderson .Paak the star that he is now. The song is brilliantly funky and shows the songwriting and arrangement talent of Makèz, who cleverly use pop & soul cues to create one of the album’s highlights.
What follows is 4 cuts ranging from the syncopated Balearic funk of “Orbit”, the strings of album title track “City of all”, the organ-led jam “Gonna getya” and the downbeat “Sonder”. Allysha Joy -best known for performing in Melbourne Hip Hop collective 30/70 – is featured on the deep and jazzy cut “Looking up”. If Makèz and Allysha are all looking up, it’s clear they’re seeing the same thing. These kindred spirits perfectly complement each other on this track, where the deep bass, warm harmonies and jazzy percussion prove to be a perfect foundation for Allysha’s rhymes.
Is it an album all about jazz and soulful tracks to listen to at home? Far from that. There’s a nice bit of dance floor-oriented tracks, where the distorted filter funk of “Roselane” featuring Fouk proves to be a highlight along with what is arguably the heaviest cut of the album: “Bent with funk”. In an EP context, these house tracks would surely do their work, but they really come to life in this album format. No compromise has been made to storytelling and the house tracks all play their part while still standing their ground as powerful club tracks. It’s the expert production and smart arrangement that gives this album its casually funky feel. On “City of all”, Makèz showcase their remarkable talent for writing an album that goes to so many different places, but most of all, just really feels like home.
Thanks for talking to us you guys! You are a new name to our readers, please can take a moment to introduce yourselves?
Thank you so much for having us guys. We are Willem & Kees of electronic music duo Makèz. We’re two close friends who produce, play and perform jazz-injected dance music. We love to design records for the clubs, as well as to produce music to wonder off to on your own. So far, our discography is released on hometown label Heist Recordings and NYC’s Let’s Play House. After some EP’s we released our debut Album ‘City of All’ on Heist last year. We’re really happy to now be able to share this follow-up to the album, our Holy Sun EP.
Where are you from and where are you based today?
We grew up in Leiden (Willem) & Noordwijk (Kees) here in the Netherlands. After high school, we moved to Amsterdam to explore the city’s nightlife and study music production. We’re still located in the Dam, spending lots of time in our cozy studio full of synths, samplers & cables in Amsterdam-West.
How is the club and music scene in your city right now?
Vivid! There’s so much happening in our city. From club nights to a great number of festivals… It’s pretty overwhelming how many inspiring artists, venues and events Holland has to offer. Both inside- and outside of Amsterdam. There are lots of local talented artists, as well as bigger well-known names that love to be back here. We understand why, and our grateful to experience this.
How long have you been friends? How did you come together as Makèz?
We were introduced to each other by Willem’s brother 12 years ago, at a party where Willem was DJ’ing. We we’re 15 years old, and Willem played NY Stomp – The NY House Track. A bold track for a crowd that age, but Kees loved it. So we decided to jam together, in our bedrooms, what we called “our studio”. Fast forward a decade, and this jam is still going strong!
What are the characteristics of the sound of Makèz?
Soulful, electronic and joyful. Expect warm chords, which find their heritage in jazz music, loose rhythms sampled from old records and plenty of synthesizers. We have a strong love for both classic- house and hip-hop. Which is why we combine the sounds of today with vintage gear.
Who would you say are the artists from the past that have inspired the music that you make today?
Artists such as Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Alice Coltrane & Gill Scott-Heron layed the foundation for the sounds that inspire us. Decades later, pioneers such as J Dilla, D’angelo , Nuyorican Soul, Moodymann, Kerri Chandler and Theo Parrish amongst others would all bring innovative new takes on jazz-oriented music. New forms of music technology were involved, and musical styles from around the globe were fused. We love the combination of sampling techniques, and live-music.
How did you get signed to Heist?
Back in 2018, we had been sending demos to Dam Swindle for quite a while. We didn’t get a response. Not long after that, we hosted our own parties in Amsterdam and booked them to play after us. Before they took over the decks, we played the demo of what would become ‘Different Planets’. This is the title track of our debut EP on Heist Recordings. The guys seemed to like the track, and we gave them a USB-stick with a couple of demos on it. Later that week we saw a video of them playing ‘Different Planets’ at Wildenburg Festival. We were thrilled!
Your new EP ‘Holy Sun’ kicks off with a nu jazz stunner of broken beat flavour. What can you tell us about this track and how it was made?
One day last summer, the temperature was too high to enter our studio… So we decide to take our gear, and started to jam on Willem’s rooftop. Not much later, we had the first version of the Holy Sun instrumental. Untitled back then, but the name turned out pretty accurate after producing music under those circumstances full of sunshine. Willem met Ava Lavá a couple of years ago and was blown away by her voice. This track seemed like the right moment to reach out to her, and collaborate. She wrote the lyrics, and really locked into the feeling of that one sunny day when we made the instrumental.
What can you tell us about Ava Lava? What has she done before?
Annebelle Valentina Angelique (Ava Lavá) is a talented singer and producer from Amsterdam. Born to a musical family, her roots come from eastern Europe, where her grandfather played jazz piano and stood for freedom during the communist era. She began playing the piano and singing at the age of 5. From the very beginning she had been exposed to music from all over the world. Ava Lavá stands for the process of transformation, the element of fire, music as healing, and the concept of Phoenix. Ava Lavá is currently working on her first full length EP, and finishing the Jazz conservatory in Amsterdam. Keep an eye out for her!
You got the remix heavies on board in Retromigration. How did you entice him onto the record?
Maarten of Dam Swindle brought up the idea to ask Retromigration for a remix. We’ve been loving what he has been producing. So it was an easy decision.
This release is for lovers of ….
Jazz, house and broken beats. This one is for the dancers, the clubbers, the heads, the dreamers and the lovers.
What does Makèz have in the pipeline?
We are currently finishing the first 2 EP’s for our own new label. Next to that, we’re working on an EP for Chez Damier’s label Balance, which has been most influential to us while growing up. Last but not least, we are working on our 2nd Makèz album, which will include some pretty exciting featuring artists. First things first, though! We got some nice DJ gigs coming up this summer, including the release party of our Holy Sun EP at Radio Radio on the 14th of July. We’re celebrating together with Heist & Steppin’ Into Tomorrow. Album collaborator Allysha Joy will be there to perform a live set. We’re stoked for this one, come and dance with us if you’re in town!
When reading the comments under Georg Levin’s songs and videos you immediately sense a certain longing for new output. There is always someone wishing for a comeback of the producer and songwriter. For good reason: after all, Georg didn’t release any music under his name for over 10 years. This is almost surprising as he has been an integral part of Berlin’s music scene since the beginning of the 2000s and had significant impact reaching far beyond the local musical landscape in the course of the decade.
Georg grew up near Hamburg, Germany, playing keys and saxophone in local bands. Despite his ambitions to become a songwriter/producer he didn’t feel ready at the time so he studied communications at Goldsmiths College in London, had different jobs at film production companies and at MTV. He finally becomes serious with music after meeting DJ Dixon who co-produces his first single ‘When I’m With You’ and the house classic ‘(I got) Somebody New’ in 2002. Several remixes and collaborations with artists like Masters At Work, Jazzanova, Âme, Robert Owens, Felix Buxton from Basement Jaxx or Peter Kruder from Kruder & Dorfmeister follow as well as the LPs ‘Can’t Hold Back’ (2003 Sonar Kollektiv), ‘Take It Personal’ (2007 Four Music) under his and Dixon’s ‘Wahoo’ moniker and ‘Everything Must Change’ (2010 BBE).
It gets quiet around Georg Levin in the following years. Still playing the occasional gig or festival around Europe with his live band, he focusses on his music production company. In 2020 he finally released the singles ‘Echoes’ and ‘Fall into a dream’ that quickly reach millions of streams and which give an indication to where he now continues with ‘It Was Fun For A While’.
You can find Georg’s music filed under Electro, Soul, Pop or House at the record shop. His music has been described as ‘Blue Eyed Soul’, ‘Future Soul’ or even ‘Yacht Rock’. But in the end of the day, his music is not about recreating the past .
When listening to ‘It Was Fun For A While’, you hear references to the early 80s – a time of upheaval where RnB, Disco and New Wave had a brief episode together – but instead of entering the time machine back to that era, both music and lyrics play with a rather abstract nostalgia. An attempt to capture a fleeting but intense feeling, a longing to an unlived past, a fading memory that made it to the here and now. It is, after all, a modern song.
With an infectious groove, elegantly crafted production plus Georg’s smooth vocals supported by Simonne Jones and Amely, ‘It Was Fun For A While’ is that kind of song that you want to hear in the car, at home and on the dance floor.
Check out the Remixes by Tim Paris (already playlisted by Tim Sweeney for Apple Music.) Amberoom (aka Manuel Tur, Ramin Nouyan & Adrian Hoffmann) & Eitan Reiter.
For those of our readers that are new to your name please introduce yourself..
Hi, I’m Georg Levin, producer/songwriter/singer based in Berlin. I have released 3 albums and several singles on various labels in the 00s and took a long break until recently.
Tell us where you are based, and where exactly are you today?
I’m based in Berlin & I am in Berlin right now.
Which words best define the music that you make today?
I always have trouble describing my own music. A record label once told me to call it ‘Alternative Soul‘
What would you say is your most ‘notable’ release to date?
My best known song is ‘(I got) Somebody New’, my second single that is 20 years old this year.
What would you say is one of your tracks that didn’t get the reaction it deserved?
Almost all tracks from my collaboration album ‘Take it personal’ with Dixon under our name ‘Wahoo’. We went pretty much through all kinds of genres and featured lots of different lead singers on this one. Not very consistent & apart from one or two singles it was barely recognized. However, I listened to it again recently & was surprised that it still sounds quite fresh.
Who are the artists that inspired you from yesterday?
The Beatles, Earth, Wind & Fire, Prince, Trevor Horn, Kate Bush, Marvin Gaye, Roxy Music, Talking Heads, War, Bill Evans, Chic, Soft Cell, Quincy Jones, Wendy Carlos, Burt Bacharach, Henry Mancini, Richard Strauss and about a ton more.
Who is making great music now that you are impressed by?
Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator, D’Angelo, Danger Mouse, Mark Ronson, Tame Impala, Caribou, Floating Points, Inflo, Jamie XX, Mura Masa, Disclosure and lots more.
If someone wanted to get to know more about Georg Levin, what album would you recommend they listen to?
This EP 🙂
Talk us through the EP a little
„It was fun for a while“ is a song that I wrote a while ago & I was very careful not to mess it up so it took a long time to produce it. The reason I was so careful is that it’s a kind of song that would be hard (for me) to revisit or to make a similar song again. Musically it’s a personal memory of me as a kid in the early 80s stuck in a snowstorm on the Autobahn near Munich with my family. Outside was just darkness, snow and car lights & inside the warm car we were listening to Grace Jones, Roxy Music & Soft Cell from my older brother’s tapes. It was kind of gloomy but also fascinating.
I am lucky to have 3 great interpretations of the song by Amberoom, Tim Paris & Eitan Reiter who all captured the spirit of the song & took it into different directions.
This release is for lovers of ….
What makes you happy Georg?
Pretty average things: My kids. Summer breeze. Nature. Cute dogs. Good wine. When a song gets a life of its own & gets heard.
Tell us something that we would never read about you?
Georg Levin wins this year’s tournament in his local tennis club
What do you have in the pipeline for the rest of 2022?
This month sees Byron The Aquarius officially launch his TALKNOI$E label, the first release “Shroomz, Guns and Roses” is an all-original 5 track EP by the main man himself. When Byron The Aquarius talks about live frequencies, his enthusiasm is infectious! A keys player by trade, his love for melody and harmony has consistently drawn the attention of electronic music’s leading labels and producers.
In 2015, Byron released his solo album on BBE, “Planets of Love”, and when he wasn’t working on his own music, he was playing keys in the studio with Kai Alce. These creations got into the hands of Theo Parrish, who loved the sound of his sublime jazz-infected house and picked two tracks to release on Sound Signature in 2016, the “Highlife EP”.
In the years since, Byron has consistently released quality music on Wild Oats, Eglo & more. There’s been his “Astral Traveling” album on Mutual Intentions, and the “Ambrosia LP” on Jeff Mills’ Axis Records. Most recently, Byron released “The New Beginning LP” on Shall Not Fade. Byron has toured the planet playing festivals Dimensions, Dekmantel, Suncebeat, Lente Kabinet, and All Points East, as well as the worlds’ most important clubs.
“Shroomz, Guns and Roses” was born out of the pandemic. it was a time when Byron felt deep in nature and the studying of zen. In his own words “I felt like the pandemic brought out a darkness in me, and I combatted these negative thoughts with nature and mushrooms to create a balance in my life spending time in the mountains of Alabama and Asheville, North Carolina. I chose “guns” and “roses” as a way to juxtapose the violence we’re experiencing in the USA with the peace of mind a rose can bring as a balance in life. Music makes its way through these tough times we’re all facing, and to me, music is that rose. I paint a canvas of my emotions through synthesizers and drum machines to show the world balance can be found through even the toughest of times.”
Hey Byron thanks for talking to us today. For our readers that may be newto you, can you introduce yourself a little?
What up Doe? Legend of the Game / Dr. Doom that’s all to say right there. I’m a producer that pushes the sound of Black House Music; keeping it alive and pushing to inspire people to paint their own canvas.
Where in the world do you live now, and where do you call home?
I’m in Birmingham, Alabama, my hometown. I lived in Detroit for a while, working with Eminem’s producer Denaun Porter. I spent a good while in Atlanta too but I’m back in Birmingham now for the nature and peace of mind.
If you had to put it into words, what words would you use to define themusic that you make?
Ultramagnetic! Sounds full of vibration and magnetic force.
Who are the artists from the past who inspire the music that you make?
Jeff Mills, Theo Parrish, DJ Assault, Mike Huckaby (rest in peace), Patrick Cowley, George Duke, Parliament, etc… I love to soak inspiration from it all.
What artists out there today do you think are doing it well?
Thundercat! Love his sound & he’s always challenging creativity.
How did it feel when you heard that Theo Parrish loved your music?
To be honest, I knew my music would catch the OG’s, I always had that sound in me. Guess it’s being Black, having that inner rhythm through life and our common struggles, it’s just in our DNA…. but Theo’s mad inspirational to me cause he stay doing him not giving a fuck, that’s what inspires me. It felt really good to see that he respects my sound.
Which of your releases do you think has been the most notable?
Me being a perfectionist, I’m always thinking about the future & never listening to my releases after I put them out. My peers have to get me to listen to my past works. I’m always on a journey creating and try to stay learning to be a Saiyan of this music shit! You feel me?
What is your personal favourite record you have made and why?
No favourites, my music represents the different emotions of my personal being. I love them all. They’re all pieces of who I am or what I went through.
What is the last record you paid good money for?
I’m always crate digging for samples to chop or soak inspiration from in the cheap bucket. People don’t know but that’s where you find the fire shit! I do spend good money on synthesizers like the Prophet 5. Currently waiting for that new Oberheim OBX synth. That’s my hard addiction as a producer.
How did the idea of your new label come about?
Kind of crazy but I always had the idea of the label TALKNOI$E. Traveling and touring through Europe inspired me to finally pull the trigger on the label! Guess I was more waiting for the right timing, having a team to run it with me where I can focus on the creativity of it. Thanks to my management I can make shit happen with peace of mind.
What is your vision for TALKNOI$E?
My vision for TALKNOI$E is being up there with the biggest labels putting out a wide range of boundary-pushing music. Always looked up to Brainfeeder, Stones Throw Records, etc… I want to push genuinely good, fresh music because there’s not much of it these days.
What can you tell about the first release on the label?
First release was a canvas I created for the introduction of my label & myself. Shroomz Guns & Roses, some joints I been working on for two years but didn’t want to release on other labels. Guess it was just perfect timing to put it out myself for the world to hear……. freedom.
Is 002 already planned and what can you tell us about it?
Yes! It’s secret sauce, can’t spill the deets just yet but it’s gonna be worth the wait. 002 rawness!
You’ve spent most of your life dedicated to music. If you didn’t take thispath, what else do you think you might have done?
Maybe working for NASA haha. Huntsville, AL has a space program; I’ve always been into science, but music is my life! It gets me through the hard times, it’s my drug. Don’t know what I would do without music………
What do you like to do when you are not making beats? How does Byron TheAquarius wind down..
I love hiking, painting, & seeing nature with my family; there’s nothing like it. Keeps me inspired to go back to making music. Always got to have that space to just get away from everything, we all do, you dig?!
When you next visiting the UK as we cannot wait to see you!
Hopefully soon, my team’s always planning something nice! Hopefully will see you soon my G!
Medlar is back on Delusions for his third EP on the label and it’s a proper treat! One of the unsung heroes of UK underground house music, Medlar has released on Wolf Music, Wah Wah 45’s and West Friends. His remixes and edits for the likes of West End, Kon, Dele Sosimi, Glenn Astro, Disclosure and Billy Cobham always hit the spot with an authentic, raw and crunchy sound that work magic on the dance floor.
Here on his Interruptor EP we have 4 tracks which show off his range as a producer, taking in percussive tools, deep and dusty basement jams and blissful late night atmospherics. Lead track Interruptor is deceptively simple but devastating on a big system. Chopped up percussion, speaker wobbling bass and a heavy kick lay the foundation for crazy timbales and filtering syn-toms, all topped off with a familiar sample from back in the rave days.
Next up we have I Wish which features Kim Anh who delivers a brilliant vocal complimenting the low-slung disco drums, 808 percussion and fat bassline perfectly. This is our idea of what a modern day house hit should sound like. Raw and unpolished with a loose, un-quantized groove so you can feel the funk and a dynamic arrangement which keeps the energy high throughout.
Flipping over we have Cable Street which cranks things up with a techy house jam perfect for more peaks time sets. Once again, Medlar knows exactly how to make more with less and keeps the shuffling drums stripped back and simple stabs and modulating FX front and centre for maximum impact.
Finally, Turn Things Around brings a more 90’s deep NYC feel to the EP with floating pads, bouncing bassline, piano stabs and organ riff. Subtley epic and grandiose without being showy, this is a slow-burner that could just be one of those B2 tracks which become your favourite of the release.
Thanks for talking to us at NFA. Long been a fan of Medlar! Where are you today and what are you up to?
I have a day off after a couple of days at my day job following a week off at Glastonbury. This evening going to see some live flamenco at Saddlers Wells theatre with my girlfriend and my dad.
Are you still living South London? You can’t beat the South right?
I live in Forest Hill but have lived both north and south of the river and have love for both!
How do you spend your week mostly? How is the time carved up?
I have a day job then try to find as much time for relaxation and making music when I can.
The sound of Medlar is difficult to put into a box. Has it been your mission to keep the listening guessing about they might expect from you?
I wish it had been more coherent at points and there’s been times when life has got in the way of me giving it my all, but no regrets and it’s always been honest. I feel like I’m only just learning how to get things to sound how I want!
Who are the producers and artists who have an impact on the music you make?
Too many to mention but notably a lot of jungle and drum and bass producers, who continue to inspire now and will forever.
You’ve released on many labels over the years, with quite a few releases on Wolf Music. How come you release so much with these guys? What is it you love about the label?
It’s great for artists to have a label that will pretty much always trust you and release whenever you have something 🙂 We’ve been pals for a long time so is a natural fit.
The live between you and Deli Sosimi is pretty cool. How did this come about? How did you meet?
Came about from a remix I did for Dele in 2015, the label (Wah Wah 45s) introduced us, and we had some jam sessions and hit it off.
Tell us about your live act with Dele. What’s the set up? What parts do you both play?
So far it’s taken on a few incarnations, at first was an MPC, keys & guitar, then tried a clubbier version with no gaps and incorporating live loops and drum machines.. we’re somewhere in between now but ultimately features a lot of Dele’s amazing improvised keys and is built around that. I mute/unmute various parts on a sampler, dub it on a desk and play some additional keys and guitar. It’s closer to an electronic jazz show than house music, made for the sunshine..
This isn’t your first release on Delusions of Grandeur. How many have you done with these guys?
This is my third outing which is quite crazy. The first one with Dan Shake and it’s been a pleasure to work with Jamie and Tom since.
Talk us through the Interruptor EP a little.
There’s a vocal track with my friend Kim Anh who I’ve been wanting to do something with forever, then 3 club tracks all geared to different times/spaces.
What other exciting production projects are you working on this year?
I’m putting together an album and some more dancey singles.
Are you playing at any festivals this summer that you want to mention?
Fujazzi, Birkenhead LIVE w/ Dele Sosimi 23rd July
Lost Village LIVE w/ Dele Sosimi 26th August
plus a few TBCs to appear shortly!
What other artists have you got your eyes on right now? Who do you think is one to watch?
Moon on Wolf Music is a new artist with a really cool and unique sound.
What was the most recent record you bought?
Paprika Soul – Come With Me (Heels & Souls)
Where can we catch you next in London? Any gigs you want to drop here?
A few of us are putting on our own show in Peckham, an early show Thursday 14th July at Loading Bar in Peckham with Dele Sosimi and myself DJing and playing live, plus a DJ set from FYI Chris.
Landing on Cosmocities right on cue for the summer season ahead, Japanese producer Masumi Nishimura alias Inner Science deals out a new entry into his shimmering, shape-shifting mindset. Flying us off to a soothingly dreamy and colourful headspace, bristling with vibrant sound design minutiae to wrap your ears around, Inner Science exhibits the elevating power of his music through three original joints, complemented by two exquisite remixes from multi-faceted British genius Joe Goddard and Giegling staple, Map.ache.
The acid-infused glitter of “Unfold” paves the way with understated bravura; a piece of squelchy yet dazzling nature, organically making the rounds between propulsive club music territories and exotica-laced cascades of sound. “Quiet Track 3” follows a similar course with its phantasmagoric landslides of chimey melodies and driving bass traction on stealth mode, all scudding and mingling with haiku-esque spiritual balance, while “Never Fade Away” blows the winds of poetic transcendence through a finely engineered mix of forward-racing groove and a honey-dripping, rainbow-like shower of elementally lush textures and envelopes.
Flip it over and here’s Joe Goddard taking “End of the Beginning” for a slower, slightly less sign-busy jaunt across sun-soaked clearings and pastures. Laying further focus and emphasis on the synth work and build-up here, Goddard channels Inner Science’s many facets and wildland-like exuberance through a more directed, further orchestrated pathway. Tackling “Momentary Spread”, map.ache treats us to a further dynamic, floor-friendly approach, routing its listener onto proper functional, gridlocked tracks. Bleached-out pads evaporating into aether as the bass etches into your mind with durable effect, it’s a proper oneiric roller that engulfs you down its gushing throat of faded escapism and brittle, post-discoid melancholy.
Thanks for talking to us at NFP. Where are you today and what are you up to?
Currently in Tokyo, Japan making music!
Where are you from and where are you based today?
I was born in Tokyo and I’m still based there.
How have you spent this week?
I recently moved house and this week I am reconnecting our music equipment! I also assembled some shelves and am waiting for the internet connection!
The sound of Inner Science is difficult to put into a box. If you had to define the sound of Inner Science, what words would you use?
The simplest way to describe it is “Inner Science”. My feelings have already been put into the work, so I hope that the listener who hears my work will think and judge it as he or she pleases. In my opinion, that is one of the interesting aspects of instrumental music.
You seem like a pretty elusive character. Do you prefer to stay out of the light?
Haha, What I do is simple. I just make the sounds that I think are beautiful, put them in order of preference, and make the music that I like. It is enough for me if my music stays in the light. Of course, I get a lot of light myself during the live performance.
Who are the producers and artists who have an impact on the music you make?
The fresh ideas of 90’s HIP-HOP, the various records from around the world such as Abstract/Electronica/Experimental/House/Techno that lined the shelves of unique record stores in Shibuya in the 2000s, also feel that I’m influenced by Japanese artists such as Nobukazu Takemura, Killer Bong, Gonno, XTAL, Rei Harakami, DJ Kensei, and many others. And because I like them, I have tried to make as little music as possible that is similar to them!
What other labels have you released on? Tell us about your most notable release?
I have released on my own label “Plain Music”. Also on Assembles series, a collection of original music and sound collages that was released on an American tape label “Moss Archive” and “Lillerne Tapes”. The most notable release is always the latest, which is now Cosmo Tracks!
Talk us through the Cosmo Tracks EP a little.
It is three original tracks, with some great remixers in the shape of Joe Goddard and Map.ache. Their remixes are really cool and produced in a different manner than mine. I was very surprised and really happy with what they produced. Hope you will listen and take the time to compare he tracks with the original version.
What genre of music do you feel this release best sits in or alongside?
I would be happy if listeners or DJs who hear this music choose their favourite place on their own record shelf, ie. their favourite genre and place it in their own way.
What other exciting production projects are you working on this year?
My next piece. I’m really looking forward to having people listen to it.
What other artists have you got your eyes on right now? Who do you think is one to watch?
KILN has always been my favourite artist. I was glad to see Axel Boman’s album released.
What was the most recent record you bought?
Recently got the MAT studio 1 I was looking for.
Tell us an interesting fact about Inner Science.
My first piece of musical equipment was an AKAI S900 and a ROLAND MC-50.
Harambee means “let’s all pull together” in Swahili. Through several trips to Kenya, this homage to the country of Kenya was born. The track is a clever disco composition with funky brass and guitar, groovy rhodes and catchy vocals. Definitely a summer anthem that carries you away. La Gozadera is inspired by Cuban carnival rhythms. For the production, the two Cubans Jose Braide (piano/synth), Alcides Toirac and the Spaniard Alberto Garcia (percussion) came together. Driving uptempo latin with its own twist makes this song unique. The track “When we used to dance” is afro disco boogie at it’s finest, beaming you back to the 80’s. Voilaaa built around Bruno “Patchworks” Hovart from Lyon gives the original track Harambee a deeper feel. Nice “highlife” brass and guitars reminiscent of Ghana, give the song its own vibe.
It’s great to talk to you guys. I remember seeing you perform live at Dimensions back in 2017.
Hi! Thanks for having us. That gig was great. It rained all day, but just as we started the sun came out and people started to dance.
There’s something pretty special about playing to a large and appreciative crowd. The energy is infectious. You must be buzzing for days after such an event…
Yes, in any case! Big stages like Dimensions or the Paleo festival are impressive experiences, but we also like the smaller clubs where you are close to the people, this also has a special energy.
Have you been playing many gigs since lockdown broke?
Not that many yet, but things are picking up again. Of course, we are very happy about that. Like many others, the pandemic hit us hard. Next gigs are in Barcelona, Italy and Switzerland.
Do you have some more festivals lined up this year where we can catch you?
There are already some smaller festivals confirmed, Palp Festival in Sion and Eren Festival in St.Prex. Others will surely be added soon!
For those that are new to Alma Negra, how would you best describe what you do and what you are first in terms of DJ’s producers and live performers.
You can’t tell what comes first. We are a DJ & producer collective but also have our own label, and live band project where we work with different musicians. Diego and Dersu Figueira are the DJ Team of Alma Negra. Mario Robles takes care of the live band and label work. All three of us do the production. The first ideas usually arise in the box and are then worked out with live elements.
When I try to describe the music that you make, I find myself using many words. How would you best define the music that you produce?
Musically we are very open. A certain funkiness must not be missing. The result can be disco, deep house, tribal or afrobeat. Mostly with strong percussion and jazzy elements
Which aspect of what you do makes you most happy?
We love DJing. An electronic live project in the classic sense is not necessarily what we are aiming for especially since we are already performing our music live with the band.
Where are you all today and what are you up to?
We are all in Basel Switzerland, that’s where we live and work, even though we’re musically at home all over the world.
Is there a dedicated Alma Negra studio where the magic happens?
We have a studio that we share with a couple of modular freaks, but we also all work at home in our small home studios. The ideas are then usually compiled in the shared studio.
What are the most important things in your studio?
That is hard to say. Sometimes it’s this and sometimes that. We have a modular synthesiser in the studio, but also lots of percussion instruments and various keyboards. Everything is important!
The Harambee EP is a wonderfully warm and lively collection of beats. What can you tell us about this new EP?
Glad you like the EP! Most of the tunes were created during lockdown. (Diego) I missed Kenya and I wrote and sang “Harambee” and “When We Used To Dance” while Dersu was working on “La Gozadera”. When we were allowed to meet again, we worked out the songs with some great musicians Alcides Toirac (bass and vocals on “La Gozadera”), Sandro Corbat (guitar), Jose Braide (piano), and Alberto Garcia (percussion).
For the remix we immediately thought of “Voilaaa” who delivered a beautiful version of “Harambee”.
What other projects are Alma Negra working on at the moment?
The next EP is practically complete. They are recordings we made with the live band. At the same time, we are constantly working on new things.More to come in the near future!
Who are the other artists and labels that you like to keep your eyes on?
There are so many. Hard to say! Esa Williams with his Afro synth band, Pat Kalla, Voilaaa Sound system, and Arp Frique just to name a few.
What are your next ambitions as artists?
We want to play as much as possible, whether as DJs or with the live band and spread good vibes!
When you guys are not making music, what does Alma Negra like to do to relax?
(Diego) I like to play football. Otherwise, we are very sociable people and like to enjoy a glass of wine or beer in our favourite bars.
SofaTalk is known for his wide ranging tastes that spans house, funk, neo-soul, jazz, broken beat and downtempo. He’s the founder of Cognitiva Records and has a monthly residency on the ever-growing Universal Rhythms. His sounds can be found on Banoffee Pies Records, Yam, Ini Movement, Tusk Wax, Broken District, Omena, and Anma. Up and coming Italo talent XL Regular hails from Rome, and operates with the dancer firmly in mind. He’s been making a name for himself by skilfully mixing and cleverly blending a myriad of elements of jazz, hip hop, and jungle, all squeezed into broken beat. Together Piero Paolinelli and Alessandro Giacchi have released previously on Omena, ANMA, Cognitiva, INI Movement, Nómada and Monologues.
On the ‘Afro Quarters EP’ Sofatalk & XL Regular cook up a collection of loungey deep house and intricate broken beat, laced with the live instrumentation, the result being this wonderfully jazzy EP. It is comprised of four electronic jazz-funk infused house tracks which make for a perfect testimony of their musicianship. ‘Rumble Strip’ kicks off with broken beats turning into a 4×4 house beat filled with percussion, dreamy keyboard licks and sultry vocals to underline the floaty vibrations. ‘Afro Quarters’ is up next pushing further into their signature jazz infused broken beat house style, with funk bassline and key stabs that make it hard for the dancer not to move! Throw in some tastefully done flute and Rhodes solos for the mature sound they’re known for. Third track is ‘Easy’, and contrary to its name it’s not as chilled as you’ think! It’s incredibly groovy, and is reminiscent of the masterful work of Kaidi Tatham, with its heavy staccato bass and keys, and dreamy jazzy chords balance it all out. ‘On The Run’ closes out the EP while continuing the overall vibe of luscious warm chords and some unbelievably impressive broken house beats.
ST: I’m Pier (SofaTalk), musician, producer, sometimes DJ, I share my life with music and graphic design. I like to blend these two art forms as one thing.
XL: I’m Alessandro , producer, DJ and student (on my way to be unemployed)
Tell us where you are today and what are you doing?
ST: I live in Rome, Italy, I teach Graphic Design at university, I spend the rest of my time in the studio, working on my projects and managing my label “Cognitiva Records” with which I have a lot of fun scouting for new emerging artists
XL: I live in Rome as well, right now I’m dealing with the roman summer heat, hate this hahaha. I’ll start doing what I do every day (producing, digging & more) as soon as the heat will drop.
If we make it to your city, where should we head for a cold beer and some good music?
ST: I really like going to the Magic Bar, a summer club on the banks of the Tiber, where you can certainly listen to an excellent selection of music as well as drinks
XL: Can’t go wrong with this one – Frissón. It’s a listening bar in the centre of Rome, the first place to give me a solid slot to play monthly and explore all kind of sounds, beers, natural wines and food.
What kind of vibes can we expect to hear in your DJ sets? ST: I don’t have precise reference points in my sets, I love to mix many genres, I do a lot of research, listen and buy vinyl everywhere. I get carried away by my state of mind trying to create a story that however goes from a range that can start from Jazz, soul, Bossa, funk, Hip Hop and end with more electronic sounds such as Downtempo, House, Broken Beat, Global Bass, Breakbeat & Drum & Bass.
XL: I think Piero said everything. A couple of weeks ago we played our first b2b together (crazy that we didn’t before), and our vibes matched perfectly.
Who are the DJs, musicians and producers that have inspired you over time? ST: My “Idols” since I was a boy are Herbie Hancock and Yellow Magic Orchestra. I believe they have totally contributed to my education.
XL: I have too much influences and a lot of names I could tell you! I always try to change my listening habits and not stick to the same influences. Helps me to keep discovering new tunes. Music is a never-ending circle
If someone wanted to get to know your taste, what album should check?
ST: There are two records that are carved in my mind! “Two Pages by 4Hero”, released on Talkin Loud in 1998 and “Peace Orchestra” released on G-Stone in 1999. Milestones!!
XL: Hard question. I’ll go with Afronaught’s “Shapin Fluid”. I recently re-discovered this one after a long time and completely blew my mind again.
How did you come to work with the Outplay crew on this release?
ST: I’ve been following Outplay for a long time, I love their record line. It was easy, I sent them the demos and they immediately believed in this project.
XL: Since I consider Piero a mentor, I completely trusted him and I’m really happy to have this opportunity. One love for the Outplay Crew that had the patience to wait for us lol.
Talk us through the EP a little ST: It’s a project we both care a lot about. Born from the desire to do something together. We have known each other for a few years, I immediately understood that we could mix our creativity, we have a very similar approach and musical tastes. We had these songs that we had started, they were a but rough around the edges and we exchanged them. It’s amazing how well we managed to work well with arrangements, rhythm parts, each of us managed to fill the moments when something was needed. We are really happy with the result
XL: I consider this EP the most important, demanding & intense project I’ve worked on since I started producing. I’m really happy about how it came out, we combined our best skills on this one; working with Piero is always a time of growth.
The Afro Quarters EP is for lovers of ….
XL & ST: Good music!
Where should we listen your new EP and what should we be drinking?
ST/XL: I’d love to hear it played anywhere from a festival to a supermarket! The vibes are there and would be fun to play it in unconventional spaces. Drink whatever you want with it, try various combinations and see/hear how different it sounds!
What other artists do you have your eyes and ears on right now? ST: Today I follow artists like Kamaal Williams, Vels Trio, Joe Armon Jones, Zeitgeist freedom energy exchange … I could name many others. Among the producers I listen a lot to K15, Kyle Hall, Hanna, Glenn Astro & Max Graef and of course, Italians TurboJazz & Patrick Gibin. I love their sound. Sources of daily inspiration.
XL: I’ll give you 3 names: Prest – who just released his first EP, I like to learn about different styles and scenes from him. And grab the best tunes out of his Usb. Bass Toast – who is the next broken beat soldier and a super interesting D with wonderful selection skills. Alia – a real trendsetter, tastemaker.
What you got coming up in 2022?
ST: I have an EP I have an EP with the collaboration of Veezo, very talented keyboard player. It will be released on Boogie Cafè later this year. I also have a collab-remix for Skygaze with Angelo Mazzone aka FootNote, label owner of Anma Records, coming out at the end of the year on Flumo Recordings.