Rewind: Shanti Celeste on “Set It Out”

Posted: February 1st, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

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In discussion with Shanti Celeste about “Set It Out” by Omar-S (2003).

So what was the first time you heard this track?

I wish I could say it was in a club where I had a life changing experience bla bla bla, but it was actually a much more ordinary scenario. I was buying some birthday records on Juno just after it was repressed in 2009. I didn’t know much about Omar-S at that point, had heard the name once or twice, but that was about it. So the answer to that question is – the first time I heard this song was on the mighty Juno player.

What drew you to it? The simplicity of the groove? The addictive synth line? How it erupts into a heartfelt song? Or something else? Or all of it?

All of it! The vocal and the beautiful rolling pad in particular though, then the nice toms and the clap, too! I just think it’s a beautiful track, it can make you feel so happy and grateful. I love singing so I just start belting out along with it as soon as I hear it or even when I play it in a club. It is just so simple but so powerful.

For me this is foremost a prime example of a very fine Vocal House record. Lyrics, singing and sound work perfectly with each other. It seems nothing is missing, and there is nothing to improve. But is it really as simple as it sounds?

Yes and no, there isn’t that many elements which I guess is what makes it simple, but it is cleverly constructed. I always think that spreading a synth line across four bars creates more interest because it gives room for all the other elements to play without sounding too loopy and repetitive, even if it is that way. Also let’s not forget what a great vocal can do to a track, in some cases it can completely transform it.

I think his track „Who Wrote The Rules of Love“ with Colonel Abrams also comes close to what Omar-S achieved with „Set It Out“. Are you a fan of his in general? Are there other tracks you like nearly as much?

I agree, that’s also really good and again a perfect example of a good Vocal House track, if I’m putting it down to just a feeling though, I prefer „Set It Out“ but they are so close! These are probably my two favourites. I do like a lot of his others as well, he has done soooo much! One of my other favourites is him and Kai Alcé’s „Not Phazed“.

I like that Omar-S is absolutely not very fussy about either producing or marketing what he produces. He is not very concerned about other opinions on what he does either. Is this the way out of modern PR obligations, just delivering the tunes?

I think part of it is a way of delivering tunes! Imagine if he did the whole PR thing every time he released a record, especially at the start when he was releasing lots, it would be a PR overload! And now people trust him and will probably buy his records anyway.

There is whole lot of discourse about Detroit in club culture. But does the origin of Omar-S really matter with „Set It Out“?

To be honest, I’m not sure. To me it just sounds like Omar-S!

UK also has a healthy tradition with Garage House, even if it evolved into something different. But to my ears the production of this track is not too dissimilar to UK club styles, or am I wrong?

I actually think there are other more garage-y tracks from Omar-S that sound more similar to UK styles. „Set It Out“ is quite straight and I always think of UK Garage House as a lot more swong. But I guess that“s the beauty of music, eh? Everyone hears it in they’re own way.

What is important if you infuse a dance track with vocals?

Tricky, I will always notice a good vocal track if I like the vocal and the way that it’s been placed on the track. It’s very important that it’s effortless and soulful but not trying to be too gimmicky and „classic house vocal’. Also sometimes it helps if they use the whole accapella, like in „Set It Out“, or if it’s a vocalist that they arrange with more of a song structure. I like the way it sounds when it’s chopped as well but it has to be done right. Basically, it has to to work great and not just for the sake of it.

I must admit that I much prefer this kind of vocals in a dance track to the majority of tracks of recent years that include a singing style usually more associated with indie records. But I would not go as far as to maintain you cannot create a good club song without a Soul aspect. But what does a good club song actually require?

For me it requires a physical and an emotional aspect. So a really good groove that you just can’t help but dance to and a melodic aspect of some kind. I’m not saying it has to be super melodic with noodly bits everywhere, although that’s the route I tend to take because I just can’t help myself. But something to go along with the groove that’s making you dance your ass off.

Is there a way that „Set It Out“ is reflected in your own productions?

Maybe yes, it’s probably influenced me in more ways than I know considering that I have listened to it so many times over the years!

The defunct Face magazine used to have these little messages at the bottom of their last page. I always have this one particular issue in the back of my mind where it read „Vocals matter“. But do they still?

They do to me!

Electronic Beats 02/16


Rewind: truly-madly on “Hats”

Posted: January 6th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Michael

In discussion with truly-madly on “Hats” by The Blue Nile (1989).

How did you come across this album for the first time?

In my early teens I was quite nerdily into hi-fi – it didn’t stop there to be honest – so there would always be a copy of „What Hi-Fi“ knocking about, covered in drooled saliva at the valve amp page. The magazine had a small music review section – I don’t recall usually paying much attention to this but for some reason I read the entry for „Hats“. I don’t remember what it said but something in it must have appealed to my inner angst – nor did that stop there either – at that time. Surely the word ‘melancholy’ was used. So I bought it blindly (the cassette). At that time I was listening to bits of everything, early House, Synth Pop, Indie, and I was buying vinyl but had this odd mental divide that meant I would buy albums on cassette and singles on 12”. And actually I only finally bought „Hats“ on vinyl fairly recently – random find at Rough Trade Portobello in London.

Why did you choose „Hats“ for this interview? What are its special credentials for you?

It would probably be too difficult to choose a House or Techno album, which might be the natural thing to do, and this was the first that came to mind otherwise. I still think it’s quite obscure in a way, despite being part of the mainstream, and seemingly more popular than I realised.

My first encounter with The Blue Nile was probably hearing „Tinseltown In The Rain“ on the radio, from their first album „A Walk Across The Rooftops“, released in 1983. Do you like that as well?

I like all their stuff but don’t remember anything pre-“Hats“. I now know Tinseltown was some kind of hit but don’t directly recall it from the radio, etc. But occasionally I’ll hear it, in a cab or something, and think there is more to it than simply having listened to it from the album, that maybe I did hear it around the time it came out. That first album, and „Hats“, they are the best ones for me.

For me it is a topic worthy of thorough academic research how the electronic music of the Synthpop era and beyond is so often pared with very charismatic lead voices. Is this only for contrast, or is there more to it?

Erm, is it too late to change my album? Read the rest of this entry »


Rewind: rRoxymore on “KMS 049 B1”

Posted: December 7th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , | No Comments »

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In discussion with rRoxymore on “KMS 049 B1” by Chez Damier (1993).

What was the first time you heard this track?

I think I heard that track on a recorded DJ mix that was often played in a local radio where I grew up. It was a mix by Darren Emerson, if I remember correctly, recorded during one of these epic raves at that time. Eventually I had that mix recorded on a tape myself, and I was playing it from time to time in my teenage bedroom after school or on weekends. This was in the mid 90’s I think. I never knew who was the producer of the track at that time, I discovered it years after.

Why does it stand out for you? What makes it so special?

It brings me right back to my raving teenage years, just listening to that tape in my bedroom. I think what has always caught me in that track is that gimmick, the weeping sound of the chords, it sounds almost like breathing, and also it is difficult to identify how that sound has been made. Is it the sound of a keyboard chords, or strings, or voices mixed with strings and something else? It has always been a mystery for me and and it still is. That sound, which is obviously the signature of the track, has an unusual character. It is almost some sound design. Even though I guess it is a just preset on a synth, haha. It has always stood out from the dance music production of that time and still is. Maybe because it makes it more difficult to categorize it. Just compare it to the A side which is obviously a House music track. The B side is much more ambiguous stylistically in terms of aesthetics. Is it House music or is it Techno music? That is why I like it so much.

The A-side of this record is probably as legendary. Do you like it as well?

Yes I like it too, but for me it sounds definitely more like a classic House track. Even though, as you said, it became legendary. Read the rest of this entry »


Rewind: DJ Fett Burger on “Homework”

Posted: December 3rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

DJFB-Logo

In discussion with DJ Fett Burger on “Homework” by Daft Punk (1996).

How did „”Homework”“ found its way to your years? Was it by coincidence, or did you seek it out on some recommendation?

It was totally by a coincidence. I think it was back in the fall or winter of 1996 or something, I can’t really remember. My brother and me were listening to the radio one evening in the kitchen. Back then, we always listened to the radio when we were eating or hanging out, usually making drawings. In Norway around the time it was a channel called NRK P3. It’s still around, and it was one of the main National broadcasting channels. There were three of them. NRK P1 the original, NRK P2 mostly for culture, and NRK P3 for the younger generation. This station was aiming for a younger audience – but in a very different way than today. They used to have a broad selection of different programs. My favorite was the programs in the morning and afternoon because they had a lot of intelligent humor and also sometimes pushed things a bit further in terms of what was socially acceptable, at least back then. In the evenings, six days a week, they had different shows dedicated to music belonging to a certain scene or niche. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday it was Roxrevyen, which later became Karlsens Kabin, and Hal 9000. Karlsens Kabin mainly covered indie music, but also electronic music. Hal 9000 with Harald Are Lund was a broad selection of rock, electronic and experimental music with a very open minded approach. A lot of older things got played as well. Friday, it was National Rap Show with Tommy Tee, Hip Hop concentration mostly on early nineties East Coast Hip Hop. And then, Saturday, it was DJ Dust with Funk and Disco, DJ Strangefruit with his eclectic selections, and later in the evening DJ Abstract with mostly House and Techno. On Sunday it was Chill Out with DJ Friendly in the morning and Ambolt on Sunday evening, which was dedicated to Metal and harder Rock. Overall, NPK P3 had a pretty broad selection of music from different scenes. It provided a great musical education for when you are young and from a small Norwegian town. These programs were so dedicated to their scene, they always played a lot of demos or unreleased music. Karlsens Kabin and Hal 9000 played some of our oldest music, even things only made on CD-R, so it was a very supportive scene on the radio back then. You can just imagine how crazy it was for us back then being played on national radio!

OK, now back to the question. First time I heard something from Daft Punk was through Karlsens Kabin or Roxrevyen as it was called then. It was a mid-week evening, and suddenly “Around The World” was on the radio. This was before it was a big hit, and before people knew what Daft Punk was. It was probably a radio promo that was played or something like that.

It just blew my mind at the time. Back then it was so cool, different, even strange. Right after they played the song, they said the name and title of the song. And one second later I forgot it all, except the song. But a few months later, Daft Punk was everywhere with “Da Funk” and “Around The World” on MTV all day long.

Do you like the album as a whole, or are there personal highlights, or even tracks you do not like as much?

I like the album as a whole. Before when it was new, you could hear the hits everywhere, so I was pretty familiar with them. I remember when my brother and I got the album. It was an interesting listening experience, since most of the tracks were actually not hits or mainstream material. For instance, “Rollin’ & Scratchin’, “High Fidelity”, “Rock’n Roll”, “Indo Silver Club”, “Alive” or the intro “Wdpk837 Fm.” But, since everything was on the album, it just became associated with something mainstream.

Now it’s a classic of course, but back then, it was the combination of making something catchy, a bit more demanding, and for a scene. In this case, obviously House and Techno. You can hardly say that something is demanding or edgy on the album anymore, because of its place in music history. I think there still are some tracks that are edgy. Back then, for a 15-year-old kid without any experience, this was a big and new thing. Just imagine what influence this had. I remember even in the beginning, I didn’t like “Rollin’ & Scratchin.’ However, it changed after I gained more of an understanding for where the song and its influences came from.

For me, the whole album is a personal highlight. There are different vibes to the tracks and your mood shifts. Some songs are more uplifting, some more mellow, and some noisy or slow. But everything is a favorite of mine in different ways. They all have different elements of influences for me in terms of musical education. The whole album is a favorite of mine. Everything, from how the sound is mixed, the way Daft Punk samples, the artwork aesthetic, the music videos and Daft Punk’s anonymity at the time. It’s a whole package, and I embraced it all. I loved it all and still do! Read the rest of this entry »


Rewind: Aiden d’Araujo on “Rhythm Zone Vol. 1”

Posted: November 6th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , | No Comments »

HOUSE HUNTING

In discussion with Aiden d’Araujo on “Rhythm Zone Vol. 1” (1989).

You chose the cassette compilation “Rhythm Zone Vol. 1“. A format that in the 80s was probably still more common for discovering new music than its according CD counterparts. Were you taping radio at a young age, and was this your first foray into purchasing what already had caught your interest?

Yeah taping radio shows was a ritual when I was a kid – got that off my Mum who would tape mixes religiously. In the early nineties around ’92/’93 we had a studio in the loft with loads of gear like Junos and Rolands. The two guys who had the studio (you may have heard one of them under his Deadly Avenger alias who released the ‘Deep Red’ LP and now scores Hollywood films) lodged with us and I remember like it was just yesterday all the trippy, ambient electronica comin’ outta the studio – I would say reminiscent of acts like the Future Sound Of London. No doubt this influenced my Mum and she amassed a series of tapes that had early electronic auteurs on then such as Pete Namlook, Move D and Biosphere (she’s still got ’em!) whose nocturnal opus ‘Novelty Waves’ never fails to transport me straight to my childhood – you remember that iconic Levi’s advert featuring the steam train with that track on it right? Anyway, all these deep as the ocean odysseys would be the soundtrack to when I went to sleep. Warp’s ‘Artificial Intellgience’ comp was another fave, and I’d always be messin’ around with the FM dial to try scope out some more otherworldly obscurities…

Another interesting development was one of my Mum’s mates who when not spraying murals (he was and still is a revered graffitti artist who very kindly sprayed the House Hunting mural for me) would host shows on Birmingham-based pirate radio station Mix FM which he would sometimes transmit from our attic. This would be my introduction to Hip Hop – whether the Britcore of Gunshot and London Posse, West Coast flavour of Snoop Dogg and Souls Of Mischief or the politically-charged Public Enemy and ghetto rap of Biggie and Wu-Tang. GZA’s ‘Liquid Swords’ and Souls Of Mischief’s ’93 Til Infinity’ always on rotation must have proper wore those tapes out on my Walkman. As well as Hip Hop on Mix FM there would be some Soul, Funk, Disco, Electro and House – which when you’re 8 years old listening to all this was a pure mind trip…

So I didn’t really need to buy tapes as there were so many avenues where I was exposed to it. Another influence was my Dad who was split from my Mum so I would stay at his on weekends 10 mile up the road in Leicester. He was in a band that covered a lot of Rock and Blues classics who were a bit of a hit in the mid-nineties with loads of bookings all over The Midlands. Anyway Leicester has a big Afro-Caribbean community and every year hosts the Leicester carnival (second only to Notting Hill in size and scope) with Aba-Shanti representing so Dub and Reggae was also the sound of my Dad’s household – he loves all the Rhythm & Sound albums I’ve got him!

Did you try several compilations and this was the one you liked best, or was this the only one at first, and by coincidence it was also the best choice to get introduced to the US import dance music styles it showcased?

This was the first I bought and I remember clocking the naff early 90s trippy artwork complete with the tag line “A galaxy of imports for under a fiver”. It was a quid so had to be copped – I thought it may be like the deep trips on my Mum’s armada of ambient tapes. It was pure coincidence that the first one I got was the best introduction to Chicago House, Detroit Techno and New York Garage. Not long after I bought ‘The Rave Gener8tor II’ tape where again the cover art enticed me and had some choice cuts on it like the Underground Resistance remix of ‘The Colour Of Love’ by The Reese Project and some Murk flavour via Liberty City’s ‘Some Lovin’. There were only a few decent tracks on this one though as was on a more hardcore tip which I weren’t feelin’ as much. Always went back to ‘Rhythm Zone Vol. 1’. Read the rest of this entry »


Rewind: Roual Galloway on “Garageland”

Posted: October 7th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , | No Comments »

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In discussion with Roual Galloway on “Garageland” by the Clash (1977)

So what was your first encounter with ‚Garageland‘? Listening to the radio as a teenager?

I got a copy of the first Clash album in 1979 from a record shop in Edinburgh called GI Records, aged 11. My dad had done some work for the owner and payment was made to him in vinyl. Which meant that my sisters and I all had three records each to choose from the stock. I can’t remember what my sisters chose, but the three I selected were The Ramones “It’s Alive,“ The Skids „Scared To Dance,“ and the self titled Clash album. At the time we lived in a Scottish newtown called Livingston. In later life you realise that all newtowns are built in three stages, which are in the following order of building houses, attracting people and offering jobs. We moved there in 78 in between stage 1 and stage 2. This meant that unemployment was high and the youth were left disenfranchised. Like most newtowns it was badly designed and architecturally awash with concrete grey. Punk seemed like a natural rebellion against the injustices imposed on the youth of Livingston and had a massive following there. A local punk band called On Parole used to cover it and I suppose it became ingrained in my consciousness from that. I saw them live for the first time in 1979. I’ve always liked the sentiments of the lyrics, of standing up against selling out and of doing things for yourself.

Have you ever heard something like it before, or was this your first experience with Punk?

I was aware of punk in 1977, but I was too busy kicking a football about and chasing girls at the time. One of the first records I bought in 1978 was „Denis“ by Blondie, unfortunately the other two were „The Smurf Song“ and the Official Scottish World Cup Song of 1978. I bought these whilst I was living in Nottinghamshire just before we moved to Livingston, Scotland. There was no escaping punk in Livingston.

I have to ask this question. Why The Clash, and not The Sex Pistols?

The Sex Pistols released one proper studio album in 1977 and then Rotten left. They were never the same after that, although the cash-in albums were hugely influential at the time of release. The Clash on the other hand released six studio albums in their existence. They matured with each album, apart from „Cut The Crap“. The one regret that I have is that I didn’t see them at the time. If I had to choose between the Pistols and the Clash it would have to be the Clash every day of the week.

Garageland“ was published as last song of their debut album. Did you like the album as a whole, or is this their standout track?

The first album is filled with classic song after classic song. From the opening with „Janie Jones“ to „Garageland“ it’s all thrillers with no fillers. How can you not like an album that’s as strong as this! Read the rest of this entry »


Rewind: L’estasi Dell’oro on “Passages”

Posted: September 7th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

lestasi

In discussion with L’estasi Dell’oro on “Passages” by Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass (1990).

Do you remember when you first got a hold of „Passages“?

I would have to say approximately 8 years ago. I believe that I first became aware of this album through familiarity with Ravi’s work, as opposed to the more likely channel of Philip’s. It was just the well-worn process of hearing a great musician’s work for the first time and then digging through as much of the rest of their discography as time allows.

What makes this album so important for you?

The simple answer is that this is the best collection of modern music that I’ve ever heard in my life so far. There’s other individual songs that I feel reach higher than any single piece from „Passages“, Jimi’s „1983, A Merman…“ for example, but taken as a whole, the variety and almost unwavering quality across the 55 minutes are very impressive to me.

Are you generally interested in either the Minimalism school Glass is a part of, and the heritage Ravi Shankar represents, or are there preferences?

Both traditions are of interest, for both similar and differing reasons. The Western minimalism side’s long form accuracy of performance is astounding. Of course many pieces utilize synthesizers or machines for part or all of the sound, but there are many examples of highly trained musicians playing these very fast and demanding arrangements in sizable groups with amazing accuracy. Hearing a quartet of woodwinds or vocalists arpeggiate 32nd notes for 20 minutes in synchronization is certainly impressive, especially when each player is playing in the pocket of another’s notes and one weak link could lose the all-important groove.

I feel that the general Hindustani music I’ve been able to discover, not too much beyond key names are readily available to foreigners like myself unfortunately, is an amazing marriage of musical rules and improvisations. Other cultures undoubtedly have similar structures, but the long form interplay between a sitar and tabla create a sound that appears loose and informal at first, but one where the performers are very highly trained and aware of their actions as a group. I’m certainly not deeply aware of the compositional rules of ragas & talas, etc. but familiar enough to appreciate what those musicians know themselves. Even in the related vocal styles of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Pakistani performers, the communal aspect of group support for the soloist is wonderful.

In common, the two traditions place emphasis on extended songs beyond the popular format, which when done correctly, can leave a profound impact on the listener. Also, the aforementioned backing of smaller choral support often features drawn-out vocal melodies that really appeal to my ear, especially with the female voice. I’ve enjoyed working with a couple vocalists in this style, which can even sound great just floating over a groove alone without the usual emphasis on a soloist drawing the main focus. Read the rest of this entry »


Rewind: The Maghreban on “Spell Of Three”

Posted: August 7th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Sequence 01.Still001

In discussion with The Maghreban on “Spell Of Three by Jazz Hip Trio (1967)

How did you become aware of „Spell Of Three“? A chance encounter?

I went to a car boot sale in Bath early one Sunday morning with my Dad and my Brother. I was looking for records, there weren’t many private sellers but there was a man who had a record stall. Normally I wouldn’t buy from a record dealer at a car boot sale, but there weren’t many records around so I had a look. He had this LP out for £12 or something. It looked interesting, just looking at the sleeve. It was the English Pressing on Major Minor. I took a chance on it for £10, which is not normally something I would do on a record costing that much.

Why did you pick this song, and not the whole album „Jazz En Relief“? What makes „Spell Of Three“ so significant?

When we got back I listened to the LP and was transported by that track in particular. Other tracks were nice, but none really moved me like that one did. Just the depth of emotion it conveys, kind of hopeful and sombre at the same time, it gave me goose bumps.

Is the late 60s your favourite period of time for Jazz, and is this style a personal preference?

I guess it is, yes, although not just the late 60s. There is a particular type of Jazz tune that I like, and most of them are from that time. Or some were recorded later but are in the 60s style. Tubby Hayes “Sasa Hivi”, “Pedro’s Walk”, Cannonball Adderley Quintet Plus “New Delhi”, Alto Summit “Native Land”, Ray Bryant Trio “Cubano Chant”, those kind of tunes. Some are a little Eastern sounding.

Would you say that Jazz-hip Trio have a typically French take on playing Jazz or does origin not matter?

I think they do actually. There is something there that reminds me of some Claude Bolling, Jacques Louissier. Or maybe its because it is a small band and it was recorded at that time. Something in the sound of the ride cymbals.

Their music sure has a cinematic quality, as exemplified in a lot of Jazz-based scores for films of that era, and they even interpret the seminal French film composer Michel Legrand. Is this just a cliché or did this film and music in that aspect just work well together at that time?

There is definitely something cool there, something cinematic. I could see this tune in a French New Wave film. Anna Karina smoking a cigarette. If it’s a cliché it is one that I like. I think the combination did work very well. Read the rest of this entry »


Rewind: Flemming Dalum on “Mister Game”

Posted: July 3rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Il Discotto Car and Flemming

In discussion with Flemming Dalum on “Mr. Game” by Klapto (1983).

Of all the options in that field, why did you choose „Mr. Game“ for this interview? Was it the record that had the most impact on you? And is it maybe genre-defining as well?

It was very hard for me to choose one single record for this interview. I have approximately 100 personal Italo top favourites which all did it for me back then, and now over 30 years later they still mean so much to me. I guess I chose „Mr. Game“ because it‘s really so Italo all the way. To me it contains all the classic Italo elements and I really thinks it captures the essence and pure vibe of Italo. At the same time I also think this record defines the genre very well. Personally I love the early sound of Italo the most, particularly the sound around 1983. Another record could have been Koto’s „Chinese Revenge“, which also blew me away back then. Pure synths all the way.

Did your instant love for Italo Disco connect with a taste in music you had before, like electronic Post Punk, Disco and later Synthpop?

Yes. I actually discovered synth music from UK around 1980. Artists like Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Human League, Soft Cell etc. I was simply very fascinated by the new sound universe of synths becoming a bigger part of dance music. I even bought some synths and played in a band for some years. Digging deeper into this synth music led me to discovering Italo, which had an even bolder and more spacey attitude. I was instantly totally blown away. It seems to me that they somehow tweaked the synths a bit more, maybe due to shorter production time and maybe less producer experience, I don’t know. But I think they came up with a very unique result. A sound and style never heard before, or even since. Later the Italo became more well produced, MIDI controlled and so on. Italo actually ended up too well produced and became more commercial. By then the magic was gone for me, around 1986.

There were Disco productions in Italy from the late 70’s on, but usually Italo Disco is associated with a sound that surfaced in the early 80’s. Why do you think it could be so unique and popular at the same time? Was it a novelty effect, or just good Pop merits?

I think the Italians where outstanding in capturing the vibe of the music trends in electronic dance music in the early 80s. They where clearly inspired by the UK scene and of course other musical subcultures around. But they added that charming unique Italian twist to it, which made it so very special. Actually I can hear if a track is Italian or not in a split second. Over 30 years of listening experience has had a huge impact on me. I’m sure other lifelong Italo freaks are also able to instantly tell if a track is from Italy or not.

In my youth in Northern Germany, Italo Disco was mostly cherished by people who would else rather listen to Hard Rock and charts music. The clubs it was being played at usually had a program that tried to cater to low and common denominators. It was certainly not hip. Was it the same in Denmark at that time?

Only few Italo records were played in the Danish clubs in the early 80s. US and UK music was clearly dominating, no doubt. But some clubs played the most commercial and popular Italo records like Gazebo’s „I Like Chopin“, Ryan Paris’ „Dolce Vita“, Fun Fun’s „Happy Station“, and Raff’s „Self Control“.

Instead of browsing local record shops for Italo Disco, you went straight to the source on trips to Italy, visiting distributors and labels. Which is quite similar to the efforts European Rare Soul collectors in the 70s made on US soil. Did you purchase the core of your collection that way, at that time?

Yes, it was impossible to get all the Italo records here in Denmark with no internet back then, so I had to get them by travelling all the way to Italy. So mainly I got them from the famous distributors and labels like Il Discotto, Disco Magic, Non-Stop, and famous shops like Merak and Disco Service. I took eleven trips in the years from 1983 and 1986, and inbetween the trips I was in close contact with Il Discotto and Disco Magic and also a great record shop in Firenze, called Disco Mastelloni. Basically I managed to find all the records I wanted and got a 100 % complete collection back then. Read the rest of this entry »


Rewind: Call Super on “My Answer”

Posted: June 4th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Features | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Juno 4

In discussion with Call Super on “My Answer” by Charley’s Vault (2000).

How did you come across „My Answer“? Was it in a record store, or in a club?

A club. The End in London.

Why does this record mean so much to you? Is this a time capsule of a certain kind? What is its appeal?

It very much is. Although it is of its time in certain ways I don’t really feel it has dated. It was a record that I heard quite a few times before I had any idea who it was. I was usually too shy to ask DJs back then and there were lots of tracks that you would hear and just know because you’d heard them before and maybe one day you’d actually turn it up in a store, or meet someone in the club who could tell you, or it got used on a mix. Which is how I found out what this one was.

The thing I love so much about it is it creates a mood that is perfect at any time of the night or morning. It has the exact balance of menace, tension, joy and release that the perfect DJ tool needs. The mixdown is really nicely done, the way it ebbs, flows and kicks at certain points. I have a distinction between what often gets called ‘tools’ which to my ear are usually just drum tracks with a stab or a pad or something and the really useful stuff which usually has a fair bit more going on and can always take you up, down, reset, roll out, maintain… anything that you ask of it. This is one of those tracks.

I guess most people stay true to their formative years in the clubs of their youth. What made The End so special?

It was a club that was very well designed. Loosely based upon The Tunnel in New York but with a crucial difference of placing the booth in the middle of the floor so the DJ was cocooned by the crowd, who were in turn were cocooned by the sound system. The fact that this set up existed in a tunnel created two opportunities. The first was that it was very easy to lose yourself at the back by the system without feeling any disconnection from the place. The second was that this architecture created a particular atmosphere that I think must have meant certain DJs would have fun in a way that more disconnected settings don’t encourage. Its obviously a truism to say that good DJs play to the setting they are in, whilst bad DJs do the same thing no matter where they are. Well, this was a space that I feel coaxed the best from people.

I went maybe twice a month on average for about two years, then less frequently for the next few years because I had relocated to Glasgow, but in that time almost every night held surprises at what had been played, or how it had been played. The video of Mills covers a little of that ground. You cannot understate the importance of having these experiences to draw on when you end up doing this for a living, your own constellation of places and people that inspired you. That’s what gives you your distinct voice and I feel massively grateful to have had that club incubating me. Read the rest of this entry »