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[Interview] Blast Into the Past with Fleetmac Wood

From London to LA, Fleetmac Wood has revitalized the catalogue of Fleetwood Mac’s multi-decade history. They bring these old tunes to life for audiences around the world via remixes and originals, woven together into a tapestry of time and storytelling. Meeting the DJ-ing power couple, Lisa Jelliffe (Australia) and Alex Oxley (England), was an absolute delight. I managed to get a good block of time to sit down with them and dig deep into this night they curate, and to get at some of the motivations behind why they created the Fleetmac Wood project, and what it means to them today.

My first question is for Alex. Do you ever DJ with balls (referring to the iconic album cover of “Rumors”)?

Not yet, but I think that will happen at some point. We’ve had a few people. Some guy in Sheffield had some made out of squash balls, and then we’ve also seen white, fluffy, flashing ones.

To me, Fleetwood Mac is most closely associated with the massive outdoor hippie festivals of the 60s and 70s. What do you make of that sort of culture as it’s expressed today in the EDM scene.

Lisa: Well, I think there’s actually a lot more layers to it than that, with Fleetwood Mac. Because you’ve got so many eras. You’ve got a blues era. Then when Christine McVie joins the band and then it’s sort of bluesy, but there’s a female element to it. And then you’ve got when Stevie and Lindsey join the band and then it kind of explodes into this sort of stadium rock, hippie, sexy Californian icons. And then it changes into the Tusk era, and it’s all stadium. And then they get their disco edge, and it becomes much more 80s, and big hair, and hedonism. It’s still slightly mystical, but it’s not quite hippie anymore. It’s like the darker side of the 80s, and being a pop star. So there’s many layers to it. Now it’s sort of all that heritage rolled into one. I guess people need escapism now more than ever. We need it more than they did in the 70s, but it’s in these short, sharp bursts. Because everyone’s working so hard these days, and so focused on having enough money to live, and working on their career. They have very short moments to live out an alternate reality and get in touch with their inner selves. So festivals offer that outlet, and clubbing too. We want these really intense cultural moments, and we tend to condense them and look for getting more out of the moment.

Do you think young people today live less freely than in the past?

Alex: Yeah, I would agree with that. It’s a different time because of the whole social media thing. Everyone’s so locked into that all the time, and there’s less connection to going out to a club and just really losing it. People have become sort of sucked into this social media thing. It’s tricky.

Lisa: There’s more pressures to look good. I just think it’s harder for everyone these days to make money unless you’re really strapped into the finance world or business. We see that from living in London and LA.

Psychedelics are being talked about in culture now in a way that they haven’t been in many years. What is your take on the effect that drugs, and LSD in particular had on the band over their history?

Lisa: Well, if you’re talking about early Fleetwood Mac, psychedelics had a really detrimental effect on the band. Peter Green took a lot of acid, maybe too much too soon, in a short amount of time. This may have contributed to his breakdown, which meant he left the band. And then there was Jeremy Spencer and quite a few members who suffered breakdowns. So, they’ve had such an insane amount of people come and go, it’s a saga of characters coming in and out, with the present line-up obviously being the most financially successful. But some people come to our night and say they only want to hear the Peter Green era. Or they come and stay all night, but they say they’re here to hear “Hypnotized” or to hear Peter Green. And the some people come, and we play the Peter Green era, and they’re like “when are you going to start playing Fleetwood Mac?”. We say “Well, we have, but actually this is before Stevie and Lindsey joined the band. Sometimes they’re puzzled, and sometimes they’re like “oh wow, this is great!” and they’re Shazaming away. So, we like to think that we’re perhaps educating some fans on their previous work, because there’s so much great music in their back-catalog. All sorts of genres, and many, many talented people. So, it’s definitely a super-group.

You both DJ as other acts. How does the Fleetwood Mac project influence your other DJing, and how much of the other styles of music you like do you bring back into Fleetmac Wood.

Alex: I actually ran a dubstep night for some years. We play separately, and then together we play as Smooth Sailing. The thing with that is “romantic techno” is our angle. We play a lot of Balearic disco and house and re-edits.

Lisa: Yeah, more sort of the psychedelic, cosmic side of dance music. And definitely melodic. I haven’t been afraid to play remixes or dance music with vocals. Vocals were a dirty word for a long time in European dance music. It is hard to play the right kind of vocals that don’t sound cheesy. But, I think melody and vocals can add so much and you can trigger people’s emotions. They can sing along.

Alex: My top genre choices are electronica really, Aphex Twin, stuff like that. So we come together and it’s an interesting combination. Lisa’s more sort of disco or vocal focused, power disco really, and then I’m big into techno, and was in the break-beat scene for a long time.

Lisa: Well, we play less Fleetwood Mac in our other sets than we used to. We might play one edit or something if it’s a six-hour set, but we usually keep those for Fleetmac Wood.

Do you usually play longer sets like that?

Alex: With this, it’s between four and five-hour sets. We’ve done seven, but, like oh my god, you have to sit down after that. We have a residency in the Ace Hotel in LA with the Smooth Sailing project, and that’s always six hours. I guess you’ve just got to get used to it. I always prefer playing longer, any day of the week. Any time we get a one hour set, I’m like oh my god, what am I gonna play?

Lisa: DJing is rarely about banging it out. I think if you think that being a DJ is about having an hour-long set and playing everything the same tempo, then it just doesn’t happen like that. But you want to build a mood, and react to the crowd, and surprise people a bit. Early on in a night, you may want to test out a track. It may sound great on your headphones, but until you’ve put it through a big room, you don’t know. It just changes the audio completely, so something that sounded great doesn’t always work, and vice versa for other tracks. Our night is about the journey, and at first it can be a bit like when you invite people to your birthday party, and there’s four people there, and everyone’s really excited, but wondering if anyone is going to turn up as well. And they might be dressed as Stevie Nicks, and it’s all slightly awkward, but you all trust in each other, so it’s okay. We start with some slower stuff, maybe stuff that people haven’t heard before, or alternate versions. Definitely digging deeper into their back-catalog, so we approach it like any other set. We start off slow, and then we want to peak on some bigger ones. Mid-set we’ll get everyone dancing, so we try to craft it like any other set, it just happens to be all Fleetwood Mac.

I know people do dress up, particularly as Stevie Nicks, and of course the tambourine is iconic. Can you tell us about that a bit?

Lisa: Well, that was Stevie Nicks. She’s a vocalist, she doesn’t perform any instruments on stage except for her voice, so she wanted something to do with her hands. She’s not always singing in Fleetwood Mac gigs, there’s many other lead singers that are also in the band. So, she has this tambourine and that helps her to have something to do, but apparently it’s been hacked so that it doesn’t actually make any noise, so as not to interfere with the microphone. Little tid-bit there. The tambourine is great, though. It’s a prop. I like to play the tambourine in our gigs. In the UK, we managed to get our hands on hundreds of LED tambourines and they were really fun to give out.

Alex: Yeah, it’s become a thing at the parties. It’s cool when we’re playing places a second or third time, people will turn up and they’ve got the tambourines with them. It’s pretty cool that we get people coming back to the parties.

Lisa: It’s great to get people interacting. The night’s not about watching us. That’s pretty boring. I’ll twirl around a bit, just because I want to, but we want people to lose themselves. They close their eyes and sing along, and I think that’s something that’s hard to do these days. If you go see a concert, you’re watching and people are filming. It’s a visual spectacle, and often we have visuals, but not tonight. We love it when people do the stage invasion, and it’s more about people dancing than about us.

As you grow the Fleetmac Wood project, I predict that clones of your night will pop up. Are there any other epic bands you’d love to see brought back to life in this manner?

Lisa: We have some friends in London who do Prince.

Alex: Yeah, and I went to an amazing party in LA, the week after he’d passed, and it was amazing. I danced my ass off. I really went for it, and it was so liberating.

Lisa: I think you could do a night about a lot of bands, but you’ve got to be a fan. That’s got to be your guiding principle. Something that we try is to not do it too often. We do it once or twice a year in the city, and we tour the act a lot, but we don’t do it in the same place. It’s meant as a special occasion. We actually did a Rolling Stones night at Glastonbury before they played. We’d like to work more on that, but we need more remixes, and remixes take time.

Alex: I did a Kraftwerk one when they played in Los Angeles. I’m a massive Kraftwerk nut, but it wasn’t just Kraftwerk, because they haven’t got quite enough material for four or five hours. So I did a bunch of stuff influenced by them, which is basically everything in electronic music. Hip-hop, techno, house; it’s all there with them. So I’m going to do that again, when they play in LA in September at the Hollywood Bowl. It’s quite difficult, but I think a Bjork one would be quite interesting. Her fans are really into it, so like Lisa was saying, if you’re going to do it, you’ve really got to be into it. I remember when Lisa first told me the idea. She was like, “I’m gonna do this party, and I’m gonna do all Fleetwood Mac." And I thought, 'That sounds amazing, but are you sure people are going to want to listen to the same band all night?' And it just took off. It really took hold.

Last question: Anything you want to plug? Anything anyone should care about?

Lisa: It’s really important to dance. Our night’s about dancing. And it was surprising when we first did it, how much people dance to this music. I think dancing is really important for the soul. It’s good for your brain. It’s good for your body. Apparently it staves off dementia, Alzheimer's, all sorts of benefits. And I think it’s important to support your local club, your venues. We’re always looking for cool, small venues all over the U.S. and Europe, and Australia. It’s a dying business, so if you have a good local club with good sound, they’re not doing it for money. It’s much harder to run a business as a club owner these days. It’s hard work, and we know that the people who have these venues are doing it because they love it. Keep dancing and support your local venues. And if you see a venue struggling, people should make them co-ops and make them community focused. We’re getting to see a lot of America this way, and it’s interesting to see where cities are at culturally. And down with Trump.


I keep a notepad for the artists I interview to sign their names or write in, and Lisa wrote a simple and lovely poem, which I shall cherish privately. They are an absolutely delightful couple, and the perfect avatars of the dreamy, complex, and heart-felt music that Fleetwood Mac gave the world. If you missed their stop in Atlanta, you missed out on a truly great night. Sadly, not many people showed up that evening, but you wouldn’t have known it from the joy on their faces all night long as they played dozens of songs I’d never heard before, and many remixes of the more popular tracks in their collection. I highly encourage anyone who is a fan of Fleetwood Mac, or a fan of dance music in general, to make sure to catch them on tour. You will certainly lose yourself to dance, and might find something unexpected deep in the music. 

[Interview] Landis LaPace Gets Funky at The Music Room

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By Taylor Casey  

Photo by Avery Newmark

Landis LaPace, an 18-year-old up-and-coming DJ from Lutz, FL meets with me at Bone Lick BBQ in Atlanta, GA. He's playing at The Music Room and I couldn't be more excited to chat it up with him. He started working on music in the 7th grade on his friend’s laptop and now he's on tour playing in cities across the US. We sit down after eating and get to talking.

What was your first show like?

It was honestly one of my favorite shows. I opened for Ardalan in Orlando. The crowd was awesome and there was really high energy in the room. All of my friends were there. It was perfect.

What does it feel like to see people dancing when you are playing?

It’s so weird. Kind of awkward at times because people look at you and just think that you’re just pressing buttons so it’s not like you are playing an instrument or anything. But it’s an unreal feeling just seeing everyone dancing. I’m thinking, "Wow, I get to make people dance for a living.”

Any groupies yet?

[laughs} Nah...

How do you describe your music to people?

I just tell them it’s just like weird house music.

Is that how you describe your music to your grandma?

Yeah. That’s exactly what I tell her. {laughing} “Just trust me grandma.”

If you could play with any other artist in the world, who would it be?

Realistically, probably like Billy Kenny in Denver but if I could pick any person in the world I would definitely choose Carl Cox.

Where would this epic show take place?

In space! It would be so sick.

What should we expect from you in 2016?

Honestly, I don’t know. I just want to keep making music and progressing and growing as an artist.

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Having never been to The Music Room before I arrived around 11:00 P.M. There are just enough people to surround the bar. It’s a good vibe all around. The sound quality over all really impressed me. It was the perfect Goldie Locks ending. Not too loud and not too soft. The next day it didn’t matter about all of the smoke I had inhaled from the dancing machines at the venue. I didn’t have to yell to talk to people so my voice was still intact in the morning.

I see Landis casing the joint making sure everything is just right before he comes on at midnight. Even at a young age you can tell he really wants everything to be perfect. Landis keeps the party going with his funky beats and the crowd is loving what they are hearing. He might not know what 2016 has in store for him but I can only imagine that it will be great things.

[Interview] Time Traveling with Clarian at Alley Cat

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By Kristin Gray

Photos by Sara Vogt

I return to Alley Cat after a stint of time, and the changes this venue has made in those few weeks are completely transformative. The DJ booth now sports their feline logo, giving it a legitimate, tasteful look. Ramzi opens up the night, his set begins with a transcendent mixture of desert vibes and instrumental tracks that set a beautiful scene for us early birds. As the set transitions, we begin to hear nice bassy notes that get our heads bobbing and feet tapping. The beat picks up, the bass drops. The enthusiastic little crowd swells, enjoying this wonderful beginning to such a fine night.

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Tocayo steps up to the decks, ready to keep the party going strong. He keeps up a steady beat and the crowd remains pumped. As the venue packs out, I escape the crowd for a bit to have a chat with Clarian, our headliner for the night. His intelligence, desire to find the deeper meaning in things, and love for sci-fi make this conversation a special experience.

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Welcome back to Atlanta! How do you tend to handle the cold winters of snowy Montreal versus your summer getaway city of Berlin?

I think I handle it pretty well (laughs). I’m actually going next week to Berlin. It depends on shows. I try to travel as much as I can to play shows. The world is a big place out there, so it’s hard to jump around all over the place randomly so you try to organize it a bit. But generally speaking, you’re right. I spend most of my summers in Berlin. I like the cold winters though, getting to wear my snow suits.

As a lover of sci-fi, would you say this is a big influence in your music, or is it the other way around?

I like that question. Techno music is like this future dystopian thought of machines, and the sounds of industrialization. I think that they’re intrinsically locked together. I’m really interested in finding the link between the future of sound communication that electronic music seems to have as a platform. Other forms don’t really have as much liberty or freedom to explore future sounds. In my view, and from my experiments, from what’s exciting me in finding the music that I’m finding, a musical sequence can actually open up a portal into another gateway that can create space travel. And as ridiculous and absurd as it sounds, looking for patterns of unlocking the universe, maybe there are connections that we haven't even discovered between music and sound. I like to think about stuff like that.

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What first got you into producing your own music, and how did that effect your life at the time?

I started producing music when I was a teenager. My brother had a studio and I used to steal myself into it when he wasn't around. He had a mixer and guitars, I grew up on instruments. I was just trying to figure it out, and I loved recording so I tried to write songs on the guitar and piano and then take it to the studio. Without formal training, I intuitively would notice that if I took a vocal take, and then I doubled it, and took another one, then I played with the timing, I could create interesting phasing. I was doing all these things not knowing that the hell that I was doing. That whole world of producing is its own universe. That’s generally where I'm most happy, when I'm in the studio.

There is an interesting story to your EP Mission to Bars involving an Astronaut, his voyages, and his longing for whiskey. Can you tell us what inspired it?

I was in South Korea for a week, I was touring in Asia. I was by myself and I was pretty broke. I couldn't afford whiskey at one point at this bar and I was trying to write, I write sci-fi stories as a hobby. I was writing this story and then I got into this idea about this space man, and he was in his space suit. He could be on some strange planet but he could also be a delusional regular schizophrenic dude walking around downtown with a space helmet on, you don’t know. But the whole thing with this character is, he's an alcoholic obviously, and he wants to have a whiskey but he can’t have it. He orders it but he can’t drink it, so he doesn't know what to do with it. He can’t take his helmet off because that’s what is keeping him alive in his mind. So he just pours whiskey over his helmet in this sad attempt. It was so ridiculous and pathetic and amazing. I was laughing about it to myself like an idiot in this bar in Korea. Since then, I have been writing more stories about this space man. I have another story I finished recently where he's in a hydrogen depository, or that could all be in his mind, he could just be at a gas station. He's thinking about whiskey and meanwhile holding up the line. He's just pissing off all these strange creatures because he's so lost. The tracks that go with it are very dreamy and trippy. It’s called Ankh.

 
 

You gifted us with a special mix, NOCTURAMA, a few months back. What was it like bringing to the surface unreleased productions and collaborations from the past eight years?

Oh yes. It was good (laughs). It’s like digging through your journals or diaries, going through old essays from school. I have tons of that stuff in hard drives and disks, on recorded tapes, on floppy disks. Weird recordings and experiments that I try my best to keep track of because I travel so much and things get lost. I think most producers have tons of music that are these gems but for whatever reason the pieces get lost. Maybe they resurface years later or people find the outtakes, or even the demos but the demos are so good that they become hits. So you're always treasure hunting and I was putting all these together to make a mix. It was kind of cool for me, it tells a story, like sketches. If someone wants to see where my heads at and what I’ve been up to and trying different things and ideas. The last track on there I wrote eight years ago, it’s a ballad I made on a synth in this studio. It was the first track I wrote after Utopia. Each track signifies a point in time, they’re like the shadows of my music.

 
 

Your music seeks to explore the edges of space and time in an imaginative way. What have been your biggest challenges and joy with this exploration?

I’m trying to find connections with music as I get older. You know you get into all these scenes when your younger to find yourself, when you have the liberty and freedom to exist in these communities that don't ask to invade upon who you are. That’s what I think is beautiful about electronic music, about the culture of it. This movement that we do, that we've created. It’s a revolution in itself. At my point now as I'm getting a bit older I'm wondering where I'm going with my whole life. If I want to try to keep doing music and traveling, which I like and am so thankful for. Either I have to take some time off and try to make more of a contribution to the world beyond just the fun stuff, or find a way to do something a bit more original that I can provide to this community. It’s a hard question, but it’s a fun question. It’s the shit. I love coming here!

What can we expect from you for 2016?

I made another synth pop album, it’s very spacey. It’s more of a celebration of the style of music that I've been very obsessed with over the past ten years. I've realized it’s kind of like NOCTURAMA. The sound kind of evolves in my mind so when I did this album I did it last summer in Berlin. It’s a lot of Footprintz stuff that I've been doing and it has a lot of newer sounds that I've been patching and working on and creating. It’s very celebratory. Like an ending. Hopefully, I can get it out in a presentable way. That’s what I've been working on to find the right label and find the right way to put it out and make it special. That hasn't been easy yet but hopefully that will come together. Then I have the other Ankh EPs and Tiga’s album, which drops in March. I had the honor and privilege to work for such an amazing legend. That was maybe the most challenging and rewarding experience in the past few years. Working with people on that level. It’s awesome to work with guys like him. His album is called No Fantasy Required and it’s really sick. It’s really amazing.

And as a fellow sci-fi lover, I have to ask - what is your favorite show or movie?

Recently I've been really into the Expanse. I particularly love it because the character’s name is James Holden. I also love Logan’s Run. I love the old classic ones.

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We return to the foray and Clarian takes his place behind the booth setting up his Mac and prepping. Tocayo finishes out his set and welcomes our guest of the night. As Clarian begins, the crowd pauses unsure at first what to do. This music is dark and heavy, a complete mind trip in all the good ways. The dancing becomes vigorous, the crowd is humming with energy - bouncing together in a frenzied wave of movement.

Clarian’s music sends us on a galactic journey through the darkest folds of space, time seems to stop. The sound from his deep notes and other worldly synth create a frenzy in the patrons as we seek to entrance ourselves in this exploration. For a moment I completely forget about the world outside. This is a type of music not often heard in Atlanta and I look around to smiling faces of glee and disbelief that music can have such a guttural affect.

This set was as much of a physical experience as it was a mind experience and we relished in it. Though more of an experimental sound. I witnessed tonight that Atlanta is more than ready for this addition of musical pleasure.

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[Interview] Randall M on producing, vinyl and his family.

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By Clara Goode

Photos by Sara Vogt

My initial impression of the Alley Cat Music Club was one of trepidation. It shares a well-lit street corner with several boarded up buildings and what appears to be a convenience store. I cross paths with a group of young people who are laughing and chatting animatedly and I follow them through the doors. An underlit bar with a green flow immediately to my right, while an open path to my left leads to an outdoor patio.

I walk straight back toward the main room I am struck by how cozy the space is. The room is filled with dry ice which envelopes everyone in a glowing haze and, at times, obscures the DJs themselves completely. There is no stage, which sets the tone for a more intimate show, decreasing the distance between the performer and their fans. The club is still under construction, the hall to the restrooms glows with an eerie red light that highlights the broken concrete and dingy bathrooms, but somehow the grunginess of the exposed beams and unpainted walls adds to the allure of tonight’s show.

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The crowd here is different than what I have previously experienced. The majority of conversations taking place around me are in Spanish and people are more interested in interacting with their companions than they are getting lost in the music. The openers are setting the scene however, with simple, catchy rhythms and people are definitely feeling the music.

There is a very strong sense of community among the patrons of this club. At other shows the crowd has consisted of numerous small groups who seem to isolate themselves and rarely interact through the course of the evening except to fumble past each other as they make their way around the venue. Tonight the place is filled with large groups of people who seem to interact freely and comfortably, even with complete strangers. Each person seems entirely at ease both with the crowd and with the artists playing.

I sat down with Randall M. before his set. A polite young man, very easy to talk to.

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You were classically trained in piano and violin. Was there one instrument you preferred over the other?

I took lessons (as a child), but was not classically trained. Probably piano. I stopped violin lessons when I was four. Really, I prefer drums over anything.

What kind of influence does that training have over the music you produce?

It definitely helps with my ear, mixing things in key and choosing certain songs to go with others, I think it all comes back to that.

Is your family proud of you and your accomplishments?

They’re very supportive of it. I’ve been DJing for twelve years. It’s really all I’ve done and in the beginning they were very supportive. Actually, they’ve been supportive the whole time. There came a point where, you know, they were kind of questioning if I was going to be able to make a sustainable career out of it, but the last three or four years I’ve been able to do that and they’re very proud and supportive of it. I feel really lucky about that.

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Your love for your pups on your IG page is pretty apparent. Tell us about your fur babies.

I have three dogs, two are ten and eleven that I’ve had since the beginning of college. They live with my ex-girlfriend, but I still see them when I come back home and stuff. Then I have like, not a puppy anymore cause she just turned two, but a Cocker Spaniel as well. I’ve always loved dogs. I’ve love animals. I grew up with a Labrador and I just really love dogs. I wish I could have at home in Berlin but with the touring schedule and stuff it's just not practical. But someday I would like to have a little farm and have like five or six dogs on it.

What are some of your favorite albums you own on vinyl?

Well I have to say it’s not an album, but my favorite records, one of my favorite tracks from The Rolling Stones “Miss You” they did like a disco extended edit. It’s quite rare and my dad had it growing up and he bought me a copy a few years ago. So that one is pretty special to me. It’s all pink, it’s like 12 minutes long, and it’s amazing. Then my original hip hop stuff like Tupac’s On Death Row, Outkast, stuff like that. I love my techno records but the others just stick out for me. Also, I guess I’d have to say Efdemin, Chicago as well, one of my favorites.

What are some upcoming projects you have planned for 2016?

I have my own vinyl label called Thirteen. It’s coming out, the first release is in March and it’s something I’ve been working on for about over a year now and it’s like my baby you know? It’s basically my way to really showcase the music I love from people who I’ve come in contact with. Not only making good music, but cool people. It’s kind of like a friend group and we all share music and now I’m finally releasing some.

 
 

As the evening progresses, more and more people are distracted from their socializing and make their way to the dance floor and as Randall takes the stage the main room is packed to overflowing. Randall M uses deep, syncopated rhythms to keep them bouncing then adds a softer, melodic overtone. His lifelong experience with music is made evident by the diversity of sound, multiple instruments can be heard dancing through the layers of percussion in patterns highlighted with timed silences. His underlying rhythm is at a constant tone, not too low to be uncomfortable and not too high to be harsh. The perfect sound for continuous listening.

The ease with which the crowd interacts is evidenced through their relationship with Randall. He is not simply leading them as many DJs do, they are openly connecting with him. Chants spring up during certain sequences, people sing along with repeating melodies, there is a constant interplay between artist and audience. This is an appreciated contrast to many shows in which the DJ seems very separate from the crowd, manipulating them, sometimes in an aggressive way, to feel what they want them to feel.

 
 

 

The number of people on the floor changes constantly. Even with fewer people on the dance floor the ones that are dancing are fully committed. Many stand to the sides, nodding to the music and chatting, but it is not out of boredom. None are eager to leave or disappointed, there is simply an equal desire to socialize as well as dance. He keeps their attention to the very end of the show.

Toward the end of the night, I venture out onto the patio. The air smells sweet with cigars and lighter flames flicker between the faces of those gathered for a cigarette break and small talk. The music is still loud and one must speak loudly to be heard over it. Tomorrow our voices will rasp, and our clothes will smell of smoke and sweat, and we will accept these as fond tokens of an excellent experience.

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[Interview] Carlo Lio talks upcoming releases, kitties and his new label.

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By Frank Duke

Photos by Teddy Williams

Anticipation, hunger, timelessness, power, and restraint. Carlo Lio is known to shred dance floors and bring heat to any city. I have been waiting for this unforgettable moment ever since his last appearance in Atlanta.

I walk down the wooden staircase of The Music Room. Christian Chotro is bringing a warm driving groove that pumps through the speakers. In Atlanta, there is no question that the community of underground electronic music has any unfamiliar faces. We are family. As the crowd socializes, Christian opens up the atmosphere. Showcasing the vastness that is capable for the evening with lush melodics accompanied by ethnic percussions.

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The music evolves into a dense texture. Laughter fills that air. The crowd begins to adhere into one another. Bobi ready’s himself to warm up the room for Carlo. I sense an endearment of passion, culture, and an understanding of the crowd from Bobi. He keeps the groove flowing through the speakers. He begins to warp the tonality and the atmosphere of the music. The bass-lines become more aggressive, the melodies are not so tangible, and the breaks have a strong structure of movement.

The night progresses, the crowd prepares themselves for the man of the hour. Feet are tapping, heads are bobbing, bodies are moving, the music has engulfed the dance floor. Carlo arrives and the crowd awakens with even more excitement. This man carries himself with a humble and sincere demeanor. They start cheering and clapping for him as he sets up. Carlo Lio is no stranger to techno fans from all over the world. He has played some of the most prolific venues, and frequents festivals to the likes of OFFSonar, Lovefest, BPM, Get Wet, and ADE.

I spoke with Carlo Lio briefly before his set. When he arrived to the venue, I greeted him outside with some friends of mine. We walked to an undisclosed location and start talking a bit about his career, music, travels, and personal life.

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How has everything been with the New Year, recent travels, new releases, and with you?

The New Year's been great, I've had a bit of time off. I always take some time off after BPM because it’s just ten days of madness. For the New Year, I just had the release on Suara which is Coyu’s label. I also have an EP release on This and That, which is Davide Squillace's label. Then later, around March, I’ll have an EP on Art Department’s label, No.19. And yeah, that’s it for now.

 
 

How is it living in Toronto during the winter and in Barcelona during the summer? What’s the best part about it, and the not so good stuff about it?

I mean, I kind of get best of both worlds. I love my city. I’m going to live and die there. People always ask why it’s not the opposite. Obviously, in Europe the parties are always in the summer, so I need to be there. But I travel so much that I kind of boycott the winter. During the winters in Toronto is when I do South America, so that way I get to escape it.

How do you balance making music throughout your touring?

When I first started touring, I used to never make music on the road, I had to be in the studio. Lately as its been getting more busy, I had no choice but to figure out how to feel comfortable on a laptop and headphones, and now the tables are turned. It’s kind of hard for me to get comfortable in the studio now that I’m used to the laptop. It’s good, because you get some inspiration, and then you’re instantly banging out some beats. I like it.

You’re known to have a soft spot for kitties. Tell us a bit about your cats and the part they play in your life.

My first pet was a cat. My parents wouldn’t ever let us have pets. When we first got a cat, it was something very special. I found a huge love for them. Now with all the traveling I do; having cats is very convenient. I have two cats. One is named Treble and the other one is Clefy. Treble is the oldest one, and he's kind of psycho, a bit of a Jykell and Hyde personality. The other one, Celfy, is just the nicest cat in the world.

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You started Rawthentic Music back in 2005, last year was your ten year anniversary! How was the journey of building up the imprint, what does the future hold for it?

Rawthentic has been a staple in my life. It actually wasn’t started by me. It was started by Nathan Barato. We’re best friends and we were a DJ duo at one point. He started it in 2005 and I jumped on board in 2006. Rawthentic is now kind of on the back burner. It’s been ten years and I feel like it's kind of ran its course. I have started a new label called On Edge Society. It's only four releases in, and it’s catered to more stripped down, chunky techno. It was vinyl only and then we moved into digital four or five months later after launching. Check it out when you get a chance.

 
 

Can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to make music, and what steps you took to get to where you are now?

It all stemmed from the Toronto rave scene. I was just a partier. Toronto raves were so big and in a blink of an eye they just shut down. DJing and production were just my way to fill that void. I started messing around with them both at the same time. Playing around with vinyl and messing around with any music software I could find. I kept doing that and I wasn’t really releasing anything. I was just making tracks. My friends were telling me “Oh this is good! You should do something with this." If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have thought to send it out. I was super nervous, and in my head it wasn't good enough. It definitely worked out.

So you like sneakers a lot. What are some of your favorite brands? How many pairs do you have?

I stick to Jordan’s. I’m a Jordan guy. I would probably say I have about 100 pairs of shoes. In terms of other brands, I like what Adidas has recently been putting out. They are on point and have turned a new leaf. But I stick to the Jordans mostly.

What are some of your New Year’s Resolutions for yourself and career? What can we expect from you in 2016?

This year I have all those releases that I told you that I have coming up. I want to show another side. In this industry. You’re put into a box very fast, there is more to me than just techno. I love all styles of electronic music. I’m planning to show that with certain labels that I’m releasing on, venture into new styles, and keep attacking new labels that I haven’t been on.

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Carlo begins his journey and I make myself comfortable on the dance floor. I am ready to be swept away. I quickly become lost in the finest driving techno known to man. The room sounds pristine and powerful, a perfect match for Carlo’s style. He begins to elaborate on the dark, tech house vibe filling the air. He showcases Latin percussion elements, pounding basslines and saturated techno elements.

His set pays tribute to the theories of first wave techno with a new age flair. Sequenced melodies with atonal qualities that are contrasted with a vibrant low-end. The crowd is filled with joy as his unique and fresh style takes over. I watch his technique from a far as he utilizes Traktor and corresponding controllers. He has such an original use of effects, mixing, and track manipulation. You rarely see his hands stop moving. He is always working to bring in new track elements, while simultaneously using effects in a subtle but prominent fashion.

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As the night begins to close, the crowd stays strong, soaking up as much music as they can. Carlo closes out his final statement and thanks the crowd for such a great time. We all cheer and shout for giving us an indescribable and timeless evening. After his set I thanked him for everything. He replied, “Frank, this city is really starting to catch on.” I couldn’t agree more with him more. Atlanta is my home, and watching it become on the international map for underground electronic music makes me damn proud.

Matthew Dekay Gets Dreamy in Atlanta

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What can I possibly say about the magic that happened at Sound Table Saturday night? Bobi Stevkovski warmed up the crowd with his energetic vibes. Winding my way to the front of the dance floor, I staked my claim for the coming night full of promise and excitement. As we get into the groove and start to feel the music, Bobi’s set took several intoxicating turns throughout the night. From smooth jazzy tracks with a deep, thumping bass, evolving into a desert tempo with a bit of a jungle undertone that put us in a land far away. The sounds emanating from the speakers rooted me to my spot, nobody dared move away from the floor as we danced there, completely and utterly lost in the music.

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Though there was a slight delay in bringing up our headliner due to some technical difficulties, the fine people of Atlanta lent their support as Bobi continued seducing the crowd. You could actually feel the excitement from the people around me as we patiently awaited Matthew Dekay’s debut.

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Matthew Dekay’s infectious smile and joyous energy instantly set the mood for what was to be one of the most beautiful sets I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Based in Berlin, Dekay’s sound was tinted with a German grunginess that mixed in perfectly with the ethereal sound that is characteristic of the All Day I Dream label.

I can speak for all the patrons of Sound Table when I say that we were taken on a beautiful journey words cannot possibly describe. As I turn to friends and strangers alike, I can see the emotions playing across their faces. There were many times when all you could do was close your eyes and let his music take you with it on the adventure he was weaving for us. For lack of better words, Dekay’s music hit us right in the feels.

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Talking briefly to Dekay after his set, he expressed to have been able to play longer for us, but was genuinely happy to be in Atlanta and experience the rapidly growing underground scene. This was a man with happy energy and a sweet personality that only added to the already obvious talent and music prowess. We will await your return Mr. Dekay and cherish the magic created that night.

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Photos by Kayode Lowo.

Deep Jesus: Round 1

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By Kristin Gray

I arrive to Sound Table around midnight, and already the venue is packed. I squeeze through the dancing crowd ready to experience the already energetic groove being gifted to us by Bobi Stevkovski of Project B. It’s so crowded that finding a spot to dance proves far more difficult than I originally thought. I opt to head outside on the spacious outdoor patio. The freakishly warm weather makes this the prime spot to get some fresh air and share good conversation with friends.

Though the wait at the bar was almost painfully long despite the full bar staff, this didn’t stop anyone from feeling the good vibes. At this point the music has transformed into a beautiful flow as Deep Jesus steps up to the booth. Bobi’s undeniable energy and smooth sound already has the crowd bouncing. Deep Jesus of Desert Hearts takes over and the crowd begins to move with his beats. You can see people turning to each other and smiling, we can all feel the passion being poured into this set.

3 a.m. comes and goes, Soundtable is still as crowded as I have ever seen it. From my recently acquired vantage point in the DJ booth I get a fresh new perspective of how wonderfully excited this crowd is. No one is ready to leave, we are all still in love with the music and this night.

We begin our next adventure to the after party at Alley Cat, a fairly new venue with a lot of potential. As we are walking there, I am talking with Ryan (aka Deep Jesus) about his experience here. He expresses how comfortable he feels here from the kindness and welcome he has received from the city of the South. We talk about this underground scene and the people that make it possible. Down here, anyone who shows up is here for the pure love of the music. We love our DJ’s and the magic they bring to this city.

This time, Bobi and Deep Jesus continue the night in this intimate party of maybe thirty techno lovers unwilling to give into the coming morning. Finally, we all have enough room to really move our feet and get lost in the sound. The two artists work splendidly together as the sound reverberates through the floor. You can feel the passion and joy these men put into their music, can hear the soul that goes into producing such intoxicating sounds.

As the night, er, morning finally came to a close, I look around at us survivors and see a bouncing energy that feels like it could last forever. We share stories of the night, as well as the future. Great things and incredible talent is coming to Atlanta in 2016, and the folks that call this city home are waiting with bated breath and open arms.

Photo credit: twitter.com/deepjesus

Next Up with Ralo

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Raul illegally referred to as Ralo is a music producer from Miami, Cuba or Havana, Florida for that matter. Vicing in the South-side of the map, he arranged beats for money, initially in the realm of rap and hip-hop when emerging from the ‘90s bass music movement. Hip-hop wasn’t dead but it certainly felt like it was time to flip the page. For him, it was time to speed up the tempo.

What is your background? Cuban American

How do you think that shaped who you are today? I’m proud of where I come from. I realize how fortunate I am and do my best never to take anything for granted. In this country, we all have the opportunity to be whoever we want. My grandfather came to Miami with nothing but the clothes on his back. He started from the bottom, provided for our family and took the time to remind us that anything you want in life is possible. I lived with my grandparents for a while growing up. My mom and I moved around a lot when I was young. I always hated moving away from the friends I would make. Although no matter where we went it was easy for me to make new friends, probably because I’m outgoing and, unlike everyone else, I enjoy small talk. I constantly got into trouble at school for talking too much.

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