alley cat music club

When Will the Atlanta Underground Scene Come Together?

When Will the Atlanta Underground Scene Come Together?

Bullet Music was created to bring light to the acts of underground Atlanta. We continue to showcase the love of house and techno this city truly does have at it's core.

[Interview] Dave Angel on sweet dreams and blown speakers.

Sitting in my kitchen at home, I await the incoming call via Skype from Dave Angel. A DJ whose experience deserves nothing but deep respect. As we start our conversation, his personality is so humble and good-natured that I almost forget I'm talking to a legendary artist. His story-telling is second to none, and his amicable spirit is contagious. I get completely lost in his stories. The stories of his childhood and his younger years in Brixton. The stories of carting around white labels to record stores door to door, all to make a name for himself. And his excitement for Atlanta. He recognizes in this city the fresh, new energy he felt in the U.K. when the scene was budding overseas.

Have there been any tracks or mixes that you had an idea for, but when you sat down to produce it, the piece surprised you and took you a completely different direction than originally expected?

Oh, many, many times. Especially remixes. I used to do quite a lot of remixes, probably two to three every week. And sometimes you hear a track and you think I wanna do this or that to it. I’m really ruthless when it comes to deciding what I keep. If I like it, I’ll keep it, but if I don’t I’ll get rid of it right away. But sometimes you find yourself just keeping small elements of the original track and completely rewriting the track. And then you sit back and think to yourself, 'What relevance does this have to the mix?’ I try to stick to the original but add in my flavor as well. Sometimes it can go a bit beyond the boundaries, sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s not so good. You just take it as it goes.

Having grown up with a father and brother in the music industry, did you feel any pressure to create music or was there always support from both of them?

I never had any pressure, no way! My brother wasn’t so much into music, it was my two sisters. One is a rapper, the other a singer/songwriter. I mean, my father tried to get him (my brother) to play the trombone, but it just wasn’t his thing (chuckles). For me, there was never any pressure to get involved in music, it was just a natural progression for me. I’ve always loved music. I’ve always seen and felt it differently, even as a child. It wasn’t until I started DJing on the radio station and a friend of mine and colleague said to me, ‘You never listen to a track just on the overall scale. You literally strip it down.' It’s true, that’s what I do. I don’t just listen to it for the top lines or the vocals. For me, I rip it apart and listen to each and every individual element within a track. I don't think I needed any pushing or navigation into music, it’s just something that I’ve always loved for myself. I can remember when I was a kid, my bedroom was close to the living room. I would be laying there when my dad would have people over, listening to the music, and I was just listening and stripping it down, even back then.

The last time you were in Atlanta, you and DJ Pierre played quite the memorable set that went well past closing time. Is there a particular memory or story from that night that sticks out to you?

I’ll tell you the truth, I think the past couple of times I’ve played with Pierre, both sets were memorable. I can’t isolate one particular moment because it was just so full of energy and really kind of organic, you know? Both of us just bounced off of each other. And that’s the thing, I really do feel a connection with Atlanta. I like being there, I like the scene. You know, Dee Washington, Hernan, Bobi, all those guys that are involved and play music. I’m feeling the whole scene, it’s really a nice and intimate scene. Everybody knows everybody. And it reminds me of when it all first started in the U.K., and everybody knew everybody. Thursday night, everyone was down at Rage, or Wednesday night everyone was down at Knowledge. It was just a movement that was fresh with good vibes, and that is what I get from Atlanta.

Being a DJ, producing and traveling the world, what is your experience like also being a parent? What have you taught your son about music?

(laughs) That’s a good question, that one. Sometimes I have to fight to get back into my own studio. I’ve got to say, ‘Miles, you can have the studio on Wednesday.' They (my children) will be in there working on their tracks and recording, using my equipment. They’ll end up saying, ‘Ok dad, we’ve got it to the best that we can, can you mix it down for us?' Then I’ll do a quick balance for them and they’ll stand there observing, asking questions, which is nice. But, there is also a bad side. I’ve got a pair of speakers, Yamaha NS-10 speakers. And one day I was upstairs in bed, and Dane, my oldest son, had a DJ gig to do on that same Saturday night. I heard the music just sounding really, really loud. It woke me up! I come downstairs and into the studio, and I could hear my NS-10’s flapping. He had blown them. The horrible thing about it is you can't get replacement short drivers for them, so that hurt a bit, but there you go.

Back in the day, your daily podcast in the U.K., Phaze One, was one of the major factors that launched you into the techno scene. How did you get involved and how did it shape who you are today?

There was a guy called Mendoza, he was the owner of the station and it was a pirate station, we didn’t have a license or anything like that. He makes all of his money through advertising, it’s urban advertising. If you had a barber shop you wanted to advertise on the radio, they would do that, and everybody in the neighborhood listens to that radio station. I go to Mendoza and I ask him if I can get a show on the radio, and he asked for a demo. I made the demo, but I didn’t hear back from him for weeks. Finally I get a call back and he’s like, ‘I like your demo and I’ve got a show for you. I don't know if you're going to like the times, but it’s 4-6 a.m. every day.' I was just like, ‘Yeah, man, I’ll do it!’ I am doing this show for about two weeks when he calls me in a meeting and tells me that he likes the show, and asks how would I feel about doing a daytime show, 2-4 p.m.? I said of course, let me have it! I remember going to the record store and hearing acid house for the first time and immediately I thought, ‘Oh man, what the shit, what is this music?!’ We had never heard this before, it was funk and that kind of vibe. I just bought it and played it on my show. Mendoza calls me back into a meeting and tells me that everybody is going crazy, and in our little Brixton club as well, and that everyone would come (to the studio) once the West End parties ended. And this evolved into us hiring Astoria, one of the biggest venues in London, and we played acid house the whole night to the crowd. It evolved and grew from there. I started working with some top notch guys, and we all started branching off into playing different genres and sub-genres. It used to be all just house. But honestly, if it’s good music, I don’t care what genre it is.

You’ve created so many tracks and mixes for countless labels, is there one particular production that holds a special place in your heart?

It would have to be the "Sweet Dreams" nightmare mix that I did. Nobody commissioned me to do it, it was a bootleg. I didn’t have a fancy studio or anything like that, I had two turntables, two cassette decks, a toy keyboard and a record collection. That was it. I pull out "Sweet Dreams," and I’m mixing it and thought, ‘Woah, this sounds good, this is wicked.' I go down to Black Market Records, the local record store, and have the owner take a listen to it. He liked it, but I had no money in it, so I asked if I could borrow some and promised to press up 500 white labels. I took them around to all of the record shops, dropped them off, and tell them I would came back next week for the money. They (the records) were just flying out, the stores kept asking for more of them! A major record label, Eurythmics, sought me out and called a meeting with me. They are singing me praises, they loved the track and wanted me to recreate it in a proper SSL studio. I said, ‘Yeah, I think I can do that.’ (laughs) That was it, I was officially a remixer and it grew from there. But that was the most important track for me, it was special.

What goals do you have for yourself personally and for your career in music?

In terms of goals, I think staying healthy is paramount for me right now. I don’t know if you know, but I got diagnosed with Crohn's Disease about seven years ago and had two major operations. I’m feeling good and healthy at the moment, so staying healthy is really paramount. People don’t always understand. They think it’s glamorous, traveling the world, DJing everywhere. But you’re not eating healthy, you're not getting the right amount of rest, you're traveling in different time zones and it soon catches up with you. It caught up with me. Now I am more selective with what I do. I'd rather be in my studio and be productive, only picking the gigs I want to do.

Dave Angel will play at Alley Cat Music Club in Atlanta on June 18, presented by Wiggle Factor.

Event info and tickets here.

David Gtronic: Atlanta Welcomes a True Talent

It's the beginning of the weekend, and even though Shaky Knees has used up some of the city's energy, the house and techno community of Atlanta still manages to keep it moving late into the night. Early on at the Alley Cat Music Club, support from Koba and Attila stirs upstairs. More and more people, building up an initially intimate crowd, which sets things off to a nice start. David Gtronic begins his set around 1:00 a.m. firmly grounded in house.

Immediately, there is a definite jump in level of complexity and intensity. Hard, round bass and fat, cutting hi-hats are still bouncy somehow. This, coupled with lots of spacey tech sounds and an often swinging feel, fuels the feet and delights the imagination, an impressive balance to strike, no doubt. Bringing things back down to earth for a bit and then building back up with a harder approach to techno, he finishes the night out strong.

Before his set, David agreed to speak with us about his life in the world of dance music.

You recently played New York and Miami back to back. How were your experiences there?

New York for me is one of the most special cities. I really love the fast-paced lifestyle of the city. There’s so much diversity and different styles of music. I really like the Brooklyn scene. You get a lot of underground warehouse parties. New York and Miami are the two key cities in the United States to come and play. I do it every chance I get to. Miami is always special because I grew up there. Every time I play in Miami, and this is the third time I’ve done it, I do open to close sets. I start at 11 p.m. and end at 5 a.m. It’s really nice, because (I see) people that I grew up with in high school come, who I haven’t seen in five years. It’s nice that they come to support me. I’ve always gotten a lot of really good support from Miami, so it’s always really special for me to play there.

What event do you consider the most pivotal in launching your career as a dj/producer?

I wouldn’t say an event, but when I made the move from America to Ibiza in 2013, it changed everything for me. I already had my name growing slowly from releasing music, and I was lucky enough to get support from some of the big guys like Marco Carola, Loco Dice and Dubfire. All these guys were playing my music in 2011 and 2012, before I really had a chance to get out there. In 2013, I finished my sound engineering degree and moved to Ibiza. I just bought a one way flight thinking that I was gonna come back at the end of the season. I met so many people. I ended up living in Berlin. I never came back home, technically. Just to visit.

Of all your various residencies, which has been your favorite and why?

Right now I’m with the Vatos Locos crew, which is Hector, my friends from back home, Randall M, Chad Andrews, my roommate in Berlin, Sece. It started last year, but this summer it’s kicking off a little more. We’re doing a residency in Club Der Visionaere. We have one party each month for the next four months. This place is, I will say, one of my favorites in the world. Some people will laugh at me because it’s a small bar for 150 people, but the vibe that it creates is just incredible. People go there on a nice summer day, have a beer, hangout with their friends, and maybe go to panorama bar after. If you really want to keep partying there you can. Ricardo Villalobos plays there every other month. It’s a special place where people want to come and play. It’s not about the money or anything. People actually pay their own flights to come and play at this place. Have you seen it before?  It’s just next to a river and in the summer it’s beautiful.

The Terrace Podcast has over a million downloads. What do you attribute this success to?

It’s funny. I started this podcast when I was sixteen. Back in the day, I used to listen to Tiesto’s podcast. I listened to it every week so I could see how he presented the podcast. I wanted to do something like this. Growing up in Miami, you can’t go out to clubs until you are 21. I managed to get a fake I.D. when I was 16. I was going to the terrace in Space and I was obsessed with this music and the after hours. That’s why I named my podcast the Terrace Podcast to resemble after-hours music and underground music. The funny thing was, people started thinking that it was the official podcast from Space’s terrace. I got a lot of traffic from that, but eventually they realized that it had nothing to do with Space. They liked what they heard, so they kept listening and more people came.

The great thing about it is I never put any marketing behind it. I never promoted it, and I don’t post about it. I just create the podcast, make the artwork, release it and it just promotes itself. It’s a really cool project. I personally like to think about it as my little musical diary. I love collecting a lot of music, even though I don’t get to play more than half of it. When you come to play in the United States you have to bring something stronger. They are not too open for these weird minimal sounds, but in the podcast I get to do this and express myself in another way that I couldn’t do in the club. That’s what I like about it the most.

Your collaboration with Lilith, Lagrimas Del Sol, reached new heights of musical sophistication. What was your inspiration behind this work?

The title of the EP, Lagrimas Del Sol, means tears on the sun. This was during a really hard period for me economically wise. I was going to school, and I had to choose between working and having some money, or just going to school full-time and making my music on the side. I chose making my music on the side. A lot of the times I was without money and it was very difficult

I met Lilith. She had released under Monique Musique, which is a label that I worked with before.  I started messaging her, saying I really like her music. We met and had a Skype conversation for five hours. We decided to try some music together. She is the same as me in that she is very sensitive and expresses her emotions through music. We didn’t really have a plan, but we wanted to combine, I wouldn’t say classical music, but something like that with techno. She had a friend from Amsterdam who plays the cello amazingly. She recorded a bunch of cello recordings and we had a few piano recordings, and there’s also one track where we have a tango. We grabbed little elements from normal music that we liked, and made it into a techno production.

Do you foresee creating more techno session musicians?

Yes, for sure. I actually have a new record with Lilith coming out that’s called Cello and it’s a twelve minute track with a cello throughout the whole track. This was the first track I made when I arrived in Berlin. It always reminds me of that moment when I was struggling to make the transition to a new city. We definitely will do that more. I love classical music. When I travel, that’s all I listen to - the piano, Eric Satie, Beethoven. I love really abstract piano sessions. I definitely want to keep doing that in the future.

What do you enjoy most about performing at tINI & the Gang, Ibiza?

I haven’t worked with her for the last year or two, but when I did, the most magical thing was being on the beach in Ibiza with all your friends and watching the sunset in front of you. I remember the last time I played was back to back with Chad Andrews. We played right before tINI, so we had the sunset set, and the sunset was directly ahead of us. We were playing and the people were screaming and dancing, watching the sun go down. It was really a special gig. Even Resident Advisor wrote an article about it. That’s the most special part about tINI & the Gang. It’s a free party. People don’t have to worry about paying 40 to 60 euros like they do at Amnesia. You already come with a chill state of mind – have some beers, hang out on the beach with your friends. listen to good music and to new upcoming artists you’ve never heard of before. That’s the good thing about tINI. She always gives new DJs a chance to come and play. That’s something you need to do for the newer generation. You can’t be so egocentric. You have to open the platform for new guys and give them an opportunity. Just how she and I got an opportunity. It’s important to do that.

What are you most looking forward to in the near future?

I’ve never been that type of guy to plan ahead, but I’m really excited for this season in Ibiza. I want to focus more on studio work, and every time I go to Ibiza it’s impossible to get work done out there. One time I even brought my equipment and everything and I didn’t even use it one time. I already know when I go to Ibiza I do some networking, a little partying, a little raving, but I can’t make music over there. This summer I want to focus, staying in Berlin working in the studio not getting distracted that much. I’ll spend June and September in Ibiza like I usually do, but take July to focus in the studio. I’ll be coming back to America at the end of July for one week, and maybe do a gig in New York and L. A. and Denver, and then back to Europe for the rest of the summer.

[Interview] SIAN chats about style, influences and his success.

SIAN calls his sound “classic modern techno.” The boss of well-known Octopus Recordings, his experimental style and ambitious musical vision have earned him a place high in the ranks of the current techno audience. 

We talked with SIAN earlier this week about his style, influences and the incredible success of his label. 

You were born in Dublin and have spent a lot of time in both Spain and France. Tell me about your time in the U.S. What was your initial impression of the music scene here and how has it influenced your sound? 

I think it’s really healthy. I think it’s getting better and better every year. Maybe because there’s  a ton of new fans coming into the scene. Maybe they access it through EDM or post-EDM. It seems like there’s a lot of new blood and new life being injected into the scene.
    
The music you create is incredibly diverse, ranging from the happy bouncy sounds of glitch hop to the darker tones, with a myriad of sounds in between. Is this diversity a reflection of your personality and life experience? 

To be honest, I play two types of techno. I play a little bit lighter more groovy based stuff, and then maybe one or two tracks in the night would be heavier, darker techno. I think that’s pretty much the spectrum that I go from, all including those sounds. My favorite type of music is new techno. It’s what the label is all about, kind of futuristic or forward-looking techno. 

In an article for Thump you mention a “classical education.” What did you mean by that? 

I went to some pretty interesting schools. Nine in total. I studied a wide range of subjects, I actually went on to study biology for a short period after school. It didn’t last long, but it was a good entry into a lot of different interests in science. I still try to learn and keep up-to-date with developments in science and the technological side of it is a big influence in my music for sure. 

You wanted your label Octopus to be an outlet for unique styles that weren’t being represented in the industry. Do you feel you have succeeded in this? 

Yeah, I think so. We are one of the top five selling techno labels in the world, so I think we’ve got a niche and people seem to respond to the sound that we put out. I’m proud of it. It’s kind of my baby in a way. 

What are the new goals for the label? 

We are taking the label parties up a notch, we are doing some pretty big shows like Movement, we’re always at BPM, Sonar, Miami. We are trying to expand the label brand in that way, that it becomes a recognizable label showcase at all the big events.

You’ve spoken about “getting people to think” with your music. What do you mean by this? What are you trying to inspire in them exactly? 

I think it’s important, even if you are releasing dance floor music that’s hedonistic or for parties, that it has an intelligence or a type of subversiveness to it. A bit of art in there to try and point people in a different direction. Like using experimental sounds in accessible music to make people think more. 

Have you found the freedom you were looking for?

Yes, absolutely. It’s my label, we can put out things that we think are interesting and not have to worry about getting approval from the established structure of a company.

How do you build your songs? 

I’m kind of different than most people. I start with a synth sound or a more melodic thing or something that was musical before I would go to percussion or drums. Most people start with drums and build a groove then put melodies or sounds on top of that. Putting the music first just comes naturally to me. 

I grew up listening to anything electronic. I listened to the 80s disco and electro pop stuff on the radio in Spain. I was really interested in early breakdance, or hip-hop especially, things that were made with machines and synthesizers. I loved a lot of the early (American) hip-hop like Lembata and the kind of wild breakdance music that came of the states. 

 Are you excited about the show in Atlanta on Saturday?  
 
Always! The first time I played here was this kind of warehouse thing with Dee Washington and a few others. I love it (the south), it’s really nice, good food too. 

 
 

Check out Bleu Detroit, the Octopus Recordings official Movement after party on May 28 and keep an eye out for SIAN’s new single that he will be releasing on June 13. 

Sian stops in ATL on May 14 as part of his world tour to play at Alley Cat Music Club. 

Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

Atnarko brings Hypnotic House Music to Atlanta

Atnarko is a small locality in British, Columbia in the south of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park where you can see moose, coyotes, foxes, eagles, and bears. It is also a river in the same area in Canada where Atnarko Bear Ross was born. The now American-based DJ and producer mesmerized Atlanta on April 22 at Alley Cat Music Club.

His influences include the dirty south, Swamp house, George Clinton, Afrika Bambata, Freestyle - among others. Atnarko dropped proper house, funky, deep, and techno beats that made the ravers, including myself, dance all night long.

The night started with a set from Ernesto Cardenas, an Atlanta resident who has been working in the underground scene in Ibiza for the last few months. Cardenas was followed by the well-known local artist, Tocayo, who hopped into the booth a few minutes past midnight. Hernan Piraquive, aka Tocayo, set the grooves for a merry-go-round of house and techno rhythms. Meanwhile, Atnarko shared the vibes with the crowd, made new friends, and talked about life experiences before he treated us with what he does best, music.

Once on the decks, Atnarko delivered a groovy set with a very careful track selection that kept us dancing from beginning to end. During the three hour set, party goers experienced a bit of what he called “hypnotic house music,” a mix of deep house, underground and hypnotic sounds indeed.

This Feeling EP, his last work released under Viva Recordings, includes two original mixes, "Before Sleep" and "This Feeling." Atnarko Bear has also joined other recognized labels such as NoirLazy DaysRobsoul2020VisonFaceless, and Motek.

[Interview] Tripmastaz chats about a new EP, his vinyl only record label, and the upcoming show in Atlanta.

tripmastaz.jpg

By Liz Turcotte

April 14, 2016

Reigning from Russia, one of the few DJs to come out of The Land of Tsars, Tripmastaz has managed to gain respect worldwide from the underground scene. Tripmastaz held residencies at the top clubs in Moscow and has worked with huge producers like Richie Hawtin and DJ Sneak. Recently, he started up a vinyl only label, Tripmastaz (by numbers). Alley Cat Music Club will host him Friday, April 15, alongside Atlanta's rising-star producer, Ralo, and Alley Cat favorite, Tito Mazzetta. Here's what he had to say when we talked to him earlier this week.

What do you think it takes as an artist to gain international respect?

From my perspective, it's honesty and hard work. If you strive to be different, to be yourself, to share your point of view and your character through the music, at some point people will recognize it and will follow. Word to Rakim.

Your style of producing seems to have a techy undertone. Is there something about that style that pulls at your heart strings?

Let's not forget that house and techno are the leaves of the same tree branch, so to speak. What can be more exciting than a mixture of a house grooves and electronic textures ? It gives so much artistic freedom. Pure science to me.

What DAW do you prefer to use in the studio?

For the past ten years I've been using Ableton Live.

Really digging your latest EP, Wax Mania, out recently on Desolat. Tell us about what went into making this album.

That EP is the most techno record I've ever released. The funny thing about the title track Wax Mania, is that Loco Dice been playing it for a few years thinking it was a bootleg of mine. When he found out that it was actually an original, we wrapped up the EP quickly.

 
 

You made a video for the track "Ride Heights." What was that experience like? Where was the creative vision inspired from?

I had footage of my boy, Krussia, riding a bike in NY. Not only he is he a dope rapper/beatboxer, Vice named New York's Best Russian Rapper. He's a serious bike fiend. We took 40 minutes of his Go-Pro footage and edited it down to an intense four-minute groovy ride. I love to see the empty streets of New York in that video. It gives you a bit of a surreal feeling of the city.

 
 

When you DJ do you use a laptop or a USB?

For the past three years I've been using USB sticks with piles of digitized vinyl on them. And sometimes, the actual vinyl which I still love to dig for and to buy.

What can we expect at your show in Atlanta this weekend?

Groovy trips and trippy grooves.

What are your musical plans for the rest of 2016?

I've spent a month out in L.A and finished the third EP for my vinyl only label which is Tripmastaz (by numbers). Also, the track for my friend Barcelona's Yakazi Records. I'm almost done with my EP for New York's Inmotion Music. I'm excited about the massive remix for Chaka Khan's new vinyl single. I'm currently working on a remix for my Canadian pal, Paolo Rocco. Sorting out the next four releases for my label, Plant 74. And more to come as I finished a lot of new music in the past three months. Really a lot, Tripmastaz work is never done!

Tripmastaz will make Alley Cat Music Club twerk on Friday, April 15 with Ralo and Tito Mazzetta. 

Buy tickets HERE.

Grab more information HERE.

[Interview] Nitin proves what passion, and a little elbow grease, can help you achieve.

By Kristin Gray

Photos by Teddy Williams

A hardworking, impassioned DJ out of London, ON., Nitin is a prime example of the guy that can do it all, and do it well. It was not only his words which told me so, but his actions and the success he has had over the past twenty years in the music industry. Experience is certainly important, but you have to have a special spark in you. A driving force that sets you above the others in your determination to be true to yourself and never stop loving what you do.

We sat in a hotel lobby in Downtown Atlanta, surrounded by more glitter than I have ever experienced. What I can only guess was a cheerleading competition going on nearby. We could only observe and giggle at the teenage drama unfolding. Amid the din of a herd of 16-year-old girls, we talked about Nitin's beginnings, his goals, and the work that goes into achieving your dreams. Nitin went on to headline at Alley Cat Music Club later that evening. Which by the way, was absolutely bumpin', if you happened to miss the show.

Did you have any role models or influences growing up that led you to your first big DJ gig at the age of seventeen?

I was influenced a lot by things I heard. A lot of hip-hop, a lot of early dance and house music. There were definitely a few artists that played a role. One of the guys I met very early on was John Acquaviva, who is from my hometown of London, Ontario. Basically, {I met him} from hanging around the record stores. He was known as kind of a local hero. He was one of the first international DJs, along with Richie Hawtin, from that era of the early to mid 90s. I would say those guys definitely had a big impact on my career because they were both people I met early on that were international DJs traveling.

Detroit has been a major influencer of your music, though you grew up in Canada. How have these two places led you to where you are today?

London is two hours from Detroit. The {Detroit} influence was definitely within the city, within this very small community that existed in the 90s. By meeting people and learning about music from Detroit, Germany and the UK, this played a pivotal role in the music that I’m still into today. Also, listening to house music from New York and Chicago from that time as well. Those were the early days of Green Velvet. “Preacher Man” came out and I remember hearing that at the first party I ever played. All these elements helped shaped my sound. I can still say that a lot of the records that I had, and bought, back then are some of the stuff I still play today.

How did “What They Say," your recently released remix alongside Jonny White, of Carlo Lio’s track come about? Is there a story behind this track?

There is actually. Originally it was meant to be an Art Department remix of Carlo Lio. Johnny had been working on it for a long time. I think maybe he had a very hectic schedule of touring. He happened to be in Toronto, which I have a studio there and he really needed to finish it. I opened up the studio for him and in the end we were both working on it so we just decided to do it as a split remix. We have done one other track together before that came out on No. 19 called “La Cueva." This was sort of the second thing we have done together. We have a ten year history together. We decided it would be a cool thing to do, have it go under both our names and to remix a track from a good friend of ours who is also from Toronto. There’s a very homegrown vibe to that release.

 
 

You have experience in almost all facets that go into producing, running the No.19 label, advertising, and performing. Is there one area that you feel most passionate about above the others?

DJing is my number one. I’ve been doing it the longest. Everything else I love and I wouldn’t trade it in, but that’s been the one thing that’s been a constant for me for twenty years. Production came to me later. I’ve only just started producing within the last ten years, and really only seriously doing it within the last four or five. 

You are known for having a huge passion for what you do and for having the dedication to keep strong at it. What is the fuel that has consistently been feeding the fire for so long?

I couldn't imagine doing anything else. This is something that you have to just keep at what you love doing without trying to be famous or a super star. I have only ever done this because I love music. I am very lucky that it has translated into some success and allowed me to travel the world and play music for people. I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. The idea that I can have a career in making music and playing music is definitely a driving force for me.

You’ve been in this industry for twenty years now. Is there any piece of advice you would give to DJs looking to make a career out of music?

I would say do you. Do yourself. Don’t try to hop on the next trend of whatever genre that is or record label that is. Just stay true to your sound, and definitely hone your craft. Try to set yourself apart from the masses, because no one notices that. People notice when they’re taking chances and they have a uniqueness to them. I have seen it now so many times where there’s a new hot label that has a certain sound, and every demo we’ll get for the label will all sound like that. As a record label owner, that’s not what we look for. We look for raw talent and people who have a uniqueness to them, not who sound like the hundred other producers who are floating around. If you're truly passionate about it and you’re truly dedicated to it, it will happen.

Do you have any dreams or goals for yourself on a more personal level that you want to achieve?

Absolutely. I really want to put an album out. I have been talking about it for two or three years, but it just hasn’t been that moment. I have been compiling tracks that I feel are something I’d like to put out as an album. Personally, and in my music career, that is definitely something that i want to do. It has been a constant learning process for me in the studio. Being more confident in the studio and gaining more knowledge about sound and sound design is something that I am always working towards. Traveling to new, exciting places never gets old to me. I am making my first trip to Iceland at the end of June to play this big festival called Secret Solstice where Radiohead is headlining.

[Interview| Jonny Cruz talks about traveling the world and his diverse approach to music.

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By Frank Duke

Jonny Cruz is a multi-faceted Dj and producer who explores many styles of electronic music to keep ahead of the curve.

Jonny will be playing at Alley Cat Music Club this Saturday alongside Atlanta party guru, Tocayo.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. How has the start of spring been treating you thus far?

It's been pretty good, can't complain. Been in my birthplace Puerto Rico since getting back from Berlin in December. I've literally just been locked in the studio working on remixes and new material.

You just had a release on Gold Records. How did the EP come into life?

At first Namito hit me up with the idea to do a vocal for a track of his, I felt like I could send him more than just a vocal so I also did some musical arrangement and send it to him, it worked out and the track has had a very good response.

 

Last I heard, you were in NYC, but now you are in Berlin. What inspired the move and how did it transpire?

Berlin in the summer is just a lovely place to be. I've been on and off living in Berlin since 2010 I have a lot of friends there. I really enjoy the inspiration it brings to my music when I'm there. Also, the nightlife is second to none. I'm actually moving to LA after a few gigs in South America in May.

How many places have you lived after you were born in Puerto Rico?

I was born in Puerto Rico but I grew up most of my childhood in San Diego, CA. I've also lived in Venezuela, Taiwan, Miami, Orlando, London, New York, and Berlin.

What are two bucket list items for you?

Haven't done Burning Man yet. I also really want to go surfing in Indonesia.

When you approach a DJ set or a new track, what are some of the main elements you consider?

Above all, good sound. Usually If it sounds good, chances are it's good.

You’ve done a lot of work with My Favorite Robot Records in your career. What about this imprint draws you to continue to release and work with them?

I haven't released on MFR in two years, I think it's time for a new EP. I came in contact with the label back in 2011. I liked the music they were releasing because it was a big fuck you to everything else I was hearing coming out at the time. I've always had that same kind of, "I don't give a shit about trends" kind of style. I think they liked that about me as well.

If at all possible, could you tell us a bit about your other aliases and some of the styles that they revolve around?

I have the Discern alias with Silky which I think is more of a melodic, techno kind of sound.

Ominous with R.A.D. (Ricardo a. Dominguez). This is my live act, it's more an electronica live band kind of thing.

And little ol' me. I don't really pigeonhole into one style I do all kinds of different stuff.

What are you most looking forward to about playing in Atlanta?

Making booty's shake!

Do you have any news that you can tell us about for projects in the rest of 2016?

The relaunch of Discern. Silky and I took almost two years off of making music together now we're back full force. More music with Ominous and performances together. And a lot of new solo material.

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[Interview] Preparing his visit to Atlanta, Till Von Sein communicates his laid-back vision of the world.

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By Frank Duke

Till Von Sein is a laid back guy with very big thoughts. A pensive man who truly understands what it means to go with the natural progression of daily life as a DJ, producer, and human.

He will be playing at Alley Cat Music Club tomorrow night alongside local masterminds Elio Stereo and Funk Manchu.

With a break in your traveling schedule coming up, how do you most prefer to spend your down time?

It depends on where I am. I played at the conference in Miami. I’ve just been hanging out in South Florida. I love spending time relaxing, chilling in bed, watching movies, and sleeping. I’m still in Miami right now. I’ll probably go down to the beach here soon.

In terms of when I’m traveling, I always try to go places that I have good friends and can do some stuff. I hate being bored in a hotel room or an Airbnb.

When you were first immersed in the music scene, did producing or DJing come more naturally for you?

It’s actually kind of funny. I first started off as a rapper, 20-something years ago, when I was 14 or 15. I always sat down with people producing beats. I loved what they were doing. I was really interested in what they were doing. Then I started Djing shortly after that. Producing came to me three or four years after that.

What made you move away from Germany to now call Capetown your home?

I’m still in Germany. My parents moved to Capetown. I try to spend as much time down there with them as I can. I don’t spend so much time in Berlin since I travel all the time. Anytime I can get home I will always go.

Where is your mind at when you are in the studio creating new sounds and mixes? 

What I try to do is just be at myself at home. Don’t think about anything. Drink some wine and smoke some weed. Just really immerse myself into the music. When I’m traveling I relax and take some down time. Then I dive into some music when the inspiration hits.

You have been releasing for Dirt Crew Recordings for some time now, often alongside Tigerskin. What has that journey been like and the relationship between you two as such complimentary artists?

When we first started I was a new kid on the block. At that time, he was legendary to me. Over the years, everything was so natural. We worked on remixes, he had all the gear that I needed for my album. We really understand each other. We’re very close friends. I’m very happy and grateful we have met each other.

Was there ever a turning point in your career when you made some major change, either in producing music or in your DJ jobs?

I dunno. It’s just a step-by step process. I just go with the flow of the natural progression.

When you are performing at a club, what type of energy do you strive to create for the crowd?

It always depends on where I’m playing. I always try to create a certain energy. It’s always different. If it’s a tech house party in Italy, or a gay party in Berlin, or whatever. I try to show them what I like. Capture them. Then run with it. I play a lot of different venues, clubs, and festivals. The vibe is always different. I just adhere to where I’m at, the space, the people, and the music.

 
 

 

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[Interview] Margot LOX talks chill vibes, dope scenes, and future escapades.

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By Clara Goode

Photos by Teddy Williams

I walk up the wooden stairs to the newly built second floor of Alley Cat and I'm greeted by a room glowing from the string lights hanging behind the gauze draped ceiling. At a high-top table near the bar two people are leaning, sipping on recently acquired beers and talking amiably. The young man with dark hair looks up, sees me and immediately  walks over to greet me with a hug, reintroducing himself as Ramzi, aka Ramouz. I met him for the first time at Alchemy, he is the front man of Exposed who is sharing the stage with tonight’s headliner, Margot LOX.

Margot walks around the table to hug me. Her energy is laid back and she is all smiles, wearing a green hoodie and sneakers. She asks me if I want to go outside and have a cigarette and do the interview.

You’ve played a lot of festivals. Is there one experience that stands out to you above the others?

I’ve played maybe four or five. The first festival I ever played was actually Belize Electronic Music Weekend. That was fucking amazing because it was my first festival and in paradise. I don’t play too many festivals, more in clubs. I’ve played at Burning Man and I’ve played Afrikaburn. I’ve played a couple of desert parties. I’m going to play another desert party coming up at the end of April.

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Tell us about the upcoming desert party you'll be playing, that sounds interesting. 

It's a super dope venue I played at for a friend's birthday at the border of Mexico in California, east of San Diego. Someone who was at that party decided to take over the venue and do his own party and asked me to play. He said I was one of his first choices when he started booking. Just good, like-minded people getting together to have a special experience. 

You travel all over the globe. What led to the decision and/or ability to move beyond simply playing in your home city of LA?

I was working full-time in my corporate job. I worked in the ad sales industry for seven years, and for about a year and half of that I was DJing, like two to four nights a week. I was really fucking tired so I decided to quit. I knew that I didn’t want to stay in LA, I wanted to travel. I wanted to take the money that I had saved all of those years and travel. I didn’t know where. At first, I wanted to move to Mexico and then I decided ‘why just one place?’ I want to see as much as I can. And then, obviously, I want to be DJing all the time so I just worked on talking to friends and just making friends wherever I went. When you have more friendships and more relationships then {you can} just play all over. I don’t call it networking, I call it making friends. Because if I don’t vibe with you on a friendship level, I’m not going to vibe with you in any other capacity. I do get along with most people. It's important to me, not networking but making friendships. Also, I have not been to Australia or Asia, yet...

What was it about house music that made you fall in love with it above other genres?

House is the reason that I started DJing. I was so obsessed with the music and always going to the club and seeing my favorite DJs and my friends perform. Going {to the parties} wasn’t fulfilling enough. I needed to actually be behind there, controlling that vibe, controlling the music, and connecting with everyone.

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Are you still making plans to produce in 2016?

Yes. I have a lot of friends who are talented producers and I want to work with them and learn from them. So as I travel around, I plan to be working with people and learning from them. This year the goal is definitely to release music.

You mention your family quite often on social media. Are you very close to them? What do they think of your chosen path?

I have family spread all over the country - Tennessee, Florida, and I grew up in California. My mom and dad's family live in Tennessee. Yeah, I’m super close to my family, very much. Even though we don’t live in the same city and I’m always gone, I love them, a lot. They laugh and they are super impressed with my path. They think its amazing, no one else in our family has traveled that much, or, you know, quit their job. My grandfather always says that he admires me, that he doesn’t know many people that decided to quit their job and follow their dreams.

You mentioned in an article a couple of years ago that you prefer vinyl for your own collection, but play mainly off of CDs in performances. Is this still the case?

When I DJ in clubs its always on a USB. All my tracks are on USBs. I have a vinyl collection, but because I’m traveling, I don’t get to play with it, which sucks. My vinyl collection is a lot of old school techno and house, but mostly old school hip-hop, like from the 90s. That's my heart right there. I can throw down on the old school hip-hop.

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You have eight shows coming up in the next month. Talk to me about the amount of work it takes to have such a stringent schedule. Do you enjoy it?

I’m super fucking excited. This is the first time I’ve played in two weeks, I’m already antsy {about playing} and have been bored not playing. This next set of gigs are probably going to be the most grueling. I’m going city to city in Mexico, which will be an adventure in itself. I’m so excited. The more I work the better because even if I’m tired, even if I feel like shit, this is what I want to do.

In terms of preparing, it's just an everyday journey of listening to promos. I listen to Soundcloud, pick out tracks on Beatport, and some days I won’t find anything. Some days I’ll find 20 tracks, then I’ll leave it there go back and listen to them again. After I listen again, I may hate all of the tracks except for maybe three, but those are going to be the magic. Then sometimes, if I play the track in the club it may sound terrible and then I never play it again. It's all trial and error and constant music discovery, it's a never-ending job.

 

After we chatted, we walked back upstairs to dance to the hypnotic melodies of Bullet Music's own, Frank Duke. Throughout the night, Margot showed the connectivity she talks about. She is a vibrant woman who is kind and open with the people around her. You can see she is genuinely invested in sharing positive energy with all who cross her path, not just through her music, but through her life as well.

[Interview] Hoj keeps us on our toes with a night of mischief and genre melting mastery.

By Kristin Gray

Photos by Teddy Williams

The Alley Cat I had known up to this point has transformed since their grand opening with Simon Baker. Now their headliners perform upstairs. It’s dark, minimal and sweaty. It is exactly the underground venue you go to if you want to just absorb the music and dance your cares away. The sound reverberates off the exposed brick walls as Vince Lin and Ian James start us off with chill vibes that smoothly escalate to a late night house set. An industrial fan is set up for those of us a bit more vigorous in our dancing or faint of heart in the heat.

Hoj takes to the decks and I swear watching him was almost as mesmerizing as listening to his music. It's as if the relationship he has with his music will forever remain in the sweet honeymoon phase of love and never-ending excitement. Each new track he seems completely enthralled by, and even though he knows the upcoming selection, his face lights up with each new phase in. Then there was the music. His style I would describe as both figuratively and literally keeping us on our toes. Switching from house to techno and back again, the energy was an ever changing flow that kept up an air of intrigue and seduction. Prior to his set we were able to weave our way onto the outdoor patio where we sat, relaxed, enjoyed the fresh air and chatted about Burning Man, his musical journey and ice cream.

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You recently finished a stint in Miami and Playa Del Carmen, where you got to play alongside some great talent, including a few long time fellow collaborators. Can you tell us about that?

Everywhere I go to play, I am surrounded by friends in one way or another. Whether I’m playing with Lee {Burridge} or any of the All Day I Dream guys, or Behrouz...or anybody, it’s always kind of amazing to go play when you know the other DJ’s. You’ve hung out with them, you’ve been to their houses and they’ve been to your house, and you know you have similar sensibilities. It’s always nice musically too because you know what they’re gonna do and they know what you’re gonna do.

What is the story of you becoming one of the founders of Opulent Temple at Burning Man?

Oh, that’s a long time ago. The story is that I had never been to Burning Man, and I was a resident for Opel Productions at the time in San Francisco. We threw parties in San Francisco and Opel was run by Syd Gris. Syd had been to Burning Man a bunch and had done some sound camps, and wanted to start his own. He had a meeting at his house with me and a guy called Rich who did metal art installations. Basically, Syd told us he wanted to go to Burning Man and start Opulent Temple, and {asked} did we want to come help out? So I said, "Yeah, I’d never been before." We brought a bunch of wood and Rich built what we called the “O-Pod,” that shot fire out of the top of the roof. It was small, it just had one DJ booth, but we worked our asses off so over the years it grew and each year they would add stuff. And now it’s a pretty big sound camp. This started about thirteen or fourteen years ago.

What inspired your creation of the deep and mischievous music you are so well known for?

I just want to play something that’s true to my personality, and I like to cause a little trouble when I can. Also, I started going to raves in San Francisco when I was really young, like fourteen or fifteen years old. Back then, they were playing funky house and deep house and there were guys like DJ Dan. Those were the cats I grew up with and we would just go to dance. I was in a break dancing crew, we’d go in with cardboard and duct tape and we’d do a dance in a circle all night. I always wanted to keep it danceable when I moved on to make music of my own. And that’s where it partly comes from. And the mischievous part comes from my personality. I like to get into a little trouble. Not too much, but a little bit.

Can you describe what your journey has been like, from your discovery of your love for music to where you are now?

The best way to describe it is to talk to anybody that’s close to me. If I don’t listen to music pretty much on a daily basis, or I am away from it for a while, I kinda turn into a grumpy ass hole. And people will tell me ‘you need to go listen to some music’. For me, the journey has always been that music is a really huge part of my life, and without it I turn into a grumpy old guy. The journey has been feeding that beast as much as I can. Now it’s grown with All Day I Dream and we’re getting to play a lot of the music we love to play. It’s really been a pleasure.

Last year you were on tour with fellow Listed Productions DJ and long time friend, Atish. What were some of your fondest memories along your European tour?

Oh, so many! We had fun everywhere we went. I called him my DJ wife, and he called me his DJ husband. We will still text or call if we’re traveling a lot just to check in to see what we’re doing. But the tour, man, Beirut was amazing. There is a lot of down time when you’re touring, you’re playing Friday and Saturday so then you’re in a random place from Sunday to Thursday. You’re lucky enough to have really good locals to hang out with and show you around. Everywhere we were… Istanbul and Beirut… we got to really learn a lot about the culture and see how they lived and partied. You’re really comfortable when you’re there with one of your closest friends. And we ate a lot of ice cream.

(So then I had to ask as a fellow ice cream lover) What’s your favorite flavor?

That’s a really good question. Persian ice cream is the best ice cream that there is. It’s saffron and rose flavored. It’s the only flavor they have, if you go to get Persian ice cream in Tehran, there is that one flavor. And we actually did a photo shoot with DJ's dressed all in black but with ice cream cones. Then every city we went to we got an ice cream and posted it to Instagram. People still come up to me at clubs and ask me if I want an ice cream.

 

We just got to see Lee Burridge for his set in Atlanta, can you tell us the experiences of getting to play alongside such a masterful DJ?

Lee Burridge is my favorite DJ. And over the years we’ve become close. I’ve gotten to play with him and before him and after him, all of those. It’s always effortless. He brings the best out of you and you’re also standing next to your favorite DJ. You kind of elevate your game but without the pressure. And he’s so open and very much believes in you and wants you to play whatever it is you want. I never got a sense that he was uncomfortable, and it’s a very warm, open experience. I consider myself one of the luckiest guys alive.

What was involved in your latest mix Alpha, and the process that went into it’s creation?

I always try to do mixes as kind of a whatever I’m feeling at the time. Sometimes they come together, but there’s a lot of mixes that don’t, and I’ll just scrap them after a while and you tell yourself that this mix isn’t happening today. Alpha was one of those where I was touring quite a bit, and after you’re touring and playing every week you get to learn of a lot of good music. Alpha was literally, I was in a hotel room and had just gotten back from a gig, and instead of sleeping I just started to program the mix, and it kind of put itself together in a very quick amount of time. I barely even thought about it. It was what I was feeling, and they were the tracks that if I were to play a set at the moment, those were the ones I would have played.

Any upcoming projects or releases we can be expecting from you?

I like to do the mixes a lot, so I think in the next few weeks after the Winter Music Conference I’ll probably put out a new mix. And there’s some original productions that I’ve been working on, so we’ll see what happens with those.