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After over two decades of Prescription, Ron Trent looks back on his musical journey, shifting through the releases to capture the essence of Prescription’s legacy.  The Chicagoan started Prescription together with Chez Damier from Detroit, and the label’s innovative discography became a landmark in house music.

Rush Hour spoke to Ron Trent extensively. As time went on the label changed, the sound changed. Sometimes the material that we picked up from other people changed as well. So we are aiming to secure the essence of Prescription, what it used to be and what it still is”, says Trent.  This trailer introduces the project, an extensive video interview with Ron Trent will be the follow up.

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Ron Trent presents Prescription : Word, Sound & Power
RH RSS 020
Release: autumn / winter 2015

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Video

Director: Bernie van Vlijmen
Story: Mijke Hurkx
Camera: Noel Schoolderman and Bernie van Vlijmen
Edit: Bernie van Vlijmen
Sound mix: Paul Gabriels
Color grading: Bernie van Vlijmen
Production: Mijke Hurkx

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William Burnett’s Black Deer project continues with “Pray For Us”, an indulging four tracker that is released now from Rush Hour Distribution.

The record takes us back to the beginning of the Black Deer project, where after the release of “Trail Of Tears” two years ago, we had the opportunity to speak with Burnett for RH’s House Of Music magazine. For the occasion we are sharing his story here:

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William Thomas Burnett a.k.a. Willie Burns, DJ Speculator, Grackle, PG&S, Black Deer, Galaxy Toobin and Daywalker, is a versatile man. He puts out great records on L.I.E.S., The Trilogy Tapes and on the Dutch labels Crème Organisation, Bunker and No Label to name a few. On his own label W.T. Records he releases whatever he likes, with ‘no real plan’. Alongside his musical pursuits, he also teaches swimming.

W.T. explained how he ended up combining his guitar playing with house and other electronic music, and how he became affiliated with the Dutch from De Hague years and years ago. A few times he said ‘be back in about 40 minutes’, and he took off to give swimming class.

…Swimming class?
Yeah, I teach all ages and levels, and some water polo as well. Today I substitute, and teach babies and little kids. Back in Texas I was a competitive swimmer from when I was about 8 until 18 years old. Then I played some water polo in college. It was nothing serious though.

Were you already into music as well?
Always.

You moved to New York, was it for the music?
I was living in San Francisco first. I skateboarded, bought records and played guitar in a band. I had a good job, nice friends, cheap rent, and everything I wanted. And I got kind of bored. I was too young to be that comfortable and had to get out of there. So I went to Brooklyn, in 1999. I had never been there before. I just showed up, got a place, started working and never stopped.

Back then you already knew quite a bit about music. Wasn’t music a reason to choose New York at all?
Uh, yeah. But I was into weird stuff, not into dance music. I was into indie rock and electronic music like Oval. And bands like Stereolab, Magnetic Fields and Palace Brothers. In New York there was stuff like the electronic punk band Suicide and you had all the no wave stuff. I was more into that, I didn’t know a thing about house. Or about disco or whatever. I got into that, only because those records were all here, and in the cheap bin. I just started listening to them, and discovered they had synths and drum machines, and were good songs. I didn’t differentiate, it was just music. It was really mixed when I got in New York. At a party one room would be with a rock band, another room could be techno, or gothic or hip-hop. I am talking about the mainstream parties. That was really one thing about New York, it used to be really mixed. This is how electroclash kind of got the idea, mixing punk with disco and electro.

Not long after you moved, you got in touch with L.I.E.S. main man Ron Morelli. He was your roommate, and at that time you already hooked up with the Dutch Bunker crew from De Hague. How did you get in touch with these guys?
They were just around. There was a mailing list called ‘electro punks’, a lot of guys were on that list. Like Dan Selzer, Ron, and Bryan Kasenic from Bunker. You would meet people at Sonic Groove record store, owned by Frankie Bones, Adam X and Heather Heart. It just happened at record stores and parties.

After a few years you started doing parties with Bunker crew in New York, and did tours with them in the U.S.
Yeah, I was doing parties with a defunct record distributor called Safety in Numbers. We also did parties with Vice, because co-founder Suroosh Alvi lived across the hall of my apartment. I met the Bunker guys at another platform. DJ TLR had a message board for Bunker records, called Global Darkness. Because of those message boards, we found out about music and underground parties before Myspace and Facebook and all that. We all used to hang out there, and the Bunker guys decided to come over and we did a Vice party with them.

What were the Bunker parties like in New York? Like in hometown De Hague? Raw acid, techno, and stroboscopes with LSD?
Haha, no. The Bunker parties here were at a fancy designer hotel called the Tribeca Grand Hotel. We were friends with the creative director and they did parties. It was a weird mix of people there. Downtown fashion freaks mixed with weirdos from Brooklyn. 2ManyDJs and Erol Alkan would always play in the basement and we would do the lobby and the back room of the lobby. Legowelt and Bryan Kasenic played there. It was more stuff like that… it was not that raw. We would also DJ there on Thursday nights and get paid way too much. Everyone played there because you would get free rooms. We also did tours with Bunker, the other parties in the U.S. were just at normal rock venues. Really shitty dive ones mostly.

So you did tours with Bunker as well and after that you became friends?
Yeah something like that.

How did these guys influence your music?
Well, I guess it was nice to be able to ask about gear and see how they did their live sets and just record shopping and listening to music. I think we were already kindred spirits so we had a lot in common, I don’t really know how they influenced me. It was nice to see they had a real do-it-yourself spirit. I met a lot of people around the world during that time and I think we helped each other. It was a good balance. Later I would go to Europe and they would hook me up as I did for them.

What has been a big influence for you?
I think finding the record store that I work at. It’s called The Thing. I was walking down the street and some soul DJ I know, called DJ Whiteshoes told me about it. I went there and I never left. It’s just a basement with hundreds of thousands of records. I would go in all my free time. And after a while I started working there.

Can you tell me a why it’s so special? What I know about it is that you get boxes and boxes of fairly cheap records in…
Uh… most of the records are from DJ collections. There are a lot of 12″ singles from every genre. I don’t know… it’s just so many records in one place… and you can bring your own turntable and just listen to records all day. You can listen to every record you don’t know. Some of the records are from like Larry Levan’s collection, or we just got Red Alerts records in… and we also get test presses. It is the best record store in the world. It is not that you are going to find what you are looking for. You have to be patient and discover new stuff. It is not for the weak or lazy.

Now you are well known as Willie Burns, your moniker for house music. But you have a lot of aliases. Every alias has its own character.
Yes, Speculator is for DJing and it used to be for some remixes. Then some band started using the name Speculator and I got bummed. So I only use it for DJing now. Then there is Galaxy Toobin with Eliot Lipp, Grackle is my psych disco thingy and Willie Burns is house. Black Deer is krautrock, PG&S is me and Professor Genius. Daywalker and CF is me and Entro Senestre, Smackulator is me and Legowelt. And I got a new one, that is called Odd Numbers.

Can you tell me more about Odd Numbers and Circuit, Burns & Hawk? Under both monikers you’ve recently put out records on No Label.
Odd Numbers is me, Secret Circuit and Susanne Kraft, the Circuit, Burns & Hawk project is with Secret Circuit and Torn Hawk. I was in Los Angeles and met Susanne Kraft the week before. Something happened with the place I was going to stay, so I called him and we met up. He asked me if I wanted to go to a studio the next day and I was like, sure. We ended up in Secret Circuits studio and we made some tracks. It was just one of those things, we got along and apparently we have lots of mutual friends. This actually happened already more than a year ago. I recently went to LA again to finish it up. On the same trip I also did the Circuit, Burns & Hawk tracks and that ended up being the release called ‘Live From The Legal Pad’. We jammed for 2 or 3 hours, Hawk played some guitar, and it was recorded. It went all really quick.

The Black Deer release on No Label, ‘Trail of Tears’ is about Native Americans, I still don’t know how you came up with this idea really.
Haha, I don’t know, it just happened. I thought that native American music was very much like techno, repetitive. My great grandmother is half Chakta Indian, so I don’t know… It was just an idea and something very patriotic and American without being all guns and hamburgers. And somehow everything I do ends up being kind of krautrock. I don’t know how that happens, I can’t explain it. It is probably just the guitar and what I was listening to when I learned to play.

You have started your label W.T. records because you really thought a track by Stinkworx had to be put out. So you decided to just do it yourself. You have treated us to quite some releases so far, what is your direction for W.T.?
I don’t have a direction, I just put out what I like. No real plan. I mean I listen to music all the time from friends and all over the internet. It usually just happens… I hear something and decide it would be a good idea. I actually don’t even know what my next releases will be.

No plans, no ideas at all?
I have 2 ideas… I want to release more stuff from people that already did records for the label. Entro Senestre needs more records out for sure. He makes good music and he records stuff all the time. And I Iike to do a DVD release. I’m thinking about it and making some plans, but who knows it might happen or not. The idea really came from talking to friends around me about the recent interest in our music. I thought it might be cool to give another perspective.

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Order Black Deer – “Pray For Us” (RHD-023DEER2)

Black Deer - Pray For Us

1 Pray For Us
2 Leaving The Station
3 Frost To Mist
4 Second Time Around

 

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House Of Music - Sadar BaharAfter RH’s second House Of Music magazine, it is now time to start working on a third one. We are so pleased that disco king Sadar Bahar is coming back to Somewhere In Amsterdam to play more fantastic hidden gems from his huge record collection. Reason enough for us to share Bahar’s story that we featured in the second HOM edition.

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Theo Parrish calls him one of the best American DJs around. His record collection is as large as it is famed. And because of the ‘Soul in the Hole’ compilation he did over a year ago, Sadar Bahar made quite a few new friends. Despite of all this, the endearing American has been struggling for years. “Chicago is a gangster city. Throwing parties is a huge challenge, but I have to do it.”

If you ever witnessed a DJ-set by Sadar Bahar, you know the crowd indulges in his great vibes. That happened at a Somewhere in Amsterdam party (regularly thrown by Rush Hour), at s sold out Lowlands festival or in the dampy caves of a former train station in Rotterdam. His sets of obscure disco, boogie and shreds of gospel usually win everybody over. Many fans even compare it to a spiritual experience. A few hours of dancing to Bahar’s history lesson leaves you with a huge smile on your face, a sweaty back and many new friends. Sadar Bahar is one of those DJs who bring pure joy to people.

For Bahar joy comes in a record sleeve: vinyl. He doesn’t play anything else. CD’s don’t interest him. Memory sticks and mp3’s even less so. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, he smiles. “When you’re behind your computer downloading music files you simply do not feel the same excitement as when you dig out a record.”

Treasure Hunting

Vinyl. Even Sadar Bahar’s dreams are captured in grooves. The record collection of the American DJ is so extensive; his own house is not enough to stack it all. Even his mother’s basement is filled with records. He confesses he sometimes owns as many as nine copies of a single release. “I know, even for me that’s pushing it, haha.” Wherever Bahar travels, he always pays a visit to the local record stores. Dusty old shops with boxes scattered all around are the best, he knows. “That’s where you can still find the gems “, he claims. Places where not even the owner remembers what he has in store anymore. Kneel down and wear out your jeans for hours on end, going through all those bins. It’s paradise, according to Bahar. No wonder he is looking forward to visiting the Netherlands again. “I always end up missing the record fair in Utrecht, but not this year”, he says, beaming.

Bahar has been specializing in singles lately. 7inches. He noticed the sources running dry. It’s now or never. “A while ago I drove for hours to visit a shop where I used to be a regular back in the days. When I finally arrived, a sign said ‘no disco’. Turns out the whole collection had been bought up by Japanese collectors.”

Later, when Bahar went to Japan for a show, he understood why. “Japan has some very fanatical collectors, their record stores look like ours did in the seventies.” Friends of Bahar tell him he probably owns more records than he could ever possibly play. He knows they are right, but giving up collecting is simply impossible. “It’s an addiction. Whenever I hear a super funky record I just have to have it myself.”

Frankie Knuckles

Sadar Bahar (1968) starts DJing on his thirteenth. He learns the technical tricks from DJ Charles Breckenridge, while Frankie Knuckles shows him the magic of the dancefloor. Later Bahar will play back to back with the Chicago house legend in Club Fisque. At the Music Box he meets Lee Collins, DJ and future soul mate.

Together with Collins, Bahar starts organizing dance parties in Chicago. First under the Goldmine Productions banner, later as Soul in the Hole. It turns out the name is derived from a record store in Detroit where both friends spend a considerable amount of money on a weekly basis. “We asked the owner whether we could use his name for our DJ and dance collective. He was cool with it and said: ‘I am not mixing and I am not dancing. I sell records. So go ahead’.”

Towards the end of the eighties house emerges in Chicago. Many colleagues of Bahar switch to this new and exciting genre. Sadar himself however stays true to his own style of disco, soul and boogie. “I did try it” he sighs, “but I just wasn’t feeling it. I need a drummer and a real singer who knows how to hit notes. This combined energy of a band is something that really resonates within me. My soul runs deep.”

City of Gangsters

While house music explodes everywhere around him and mutates into various different sub styles, Bahar keeps on doing his own thing. Steadily he builds up an enormous collection of disco records; buying up entire collections, and at the same time organizing his own parties. Chicago is known as the birthplace of house, but Bahar and his fellow promoters have experienced nothing but hindrance by the law. “Throwing parties is an enormous challenge. The police want everybody home at two. Twelve-to-twelve parties have become impossible. Chicago is a gangster city, you know. Everybody wants their cut, even the authorities.”

According to Bahar that’s the most important reason why clubs in the “Windy City” could never last. “The Music Box, the Warehouse and my own Kings & Queens have all been closed down within two or three years. At the same time, politicians are asking why the murder rate in Chicago is so high. People here are tense, ready to explode. So why not give them a place to release?”

Nowadays Bahar turns down most of his American booking requests. “To us it’s about the music. But often local promoters are more interested in making money”, he sighs. No wonder he prefers playing in Japan and Europe, where he has built up a dedicated network of music fans that love having him over. “There’s a lot of disco heads out there”, Bahar smiles.

He even lived in the Netherlands for a while and was determined to settle permanently. “I needed a break. Some peace of mind. In Chicago I became too distracted by side issues to be able to focus on music.”

But finding a permanent place to stay proves more difficult than he anticipated. As a foreign DJ with no steady income, getting a mortgage is too much of a challenge. These days Bahar is back in the Chicago, the city he continues to have a love-hate relationship with.

Lollipop

As a DJ, Sadar Bahar is all the way old-school. Not only because he solely plays vinyl (coming from cute briefcases filled with 7-inches), but also because he swears by the American technical set-up, that consists of a ‘lollipop’ headphone and a rotary mixer. Equipment used in legendary clubs like Paradise Garage and the Music Box that have become part of vinyl culture, according to Bahar. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, Bahar repeats. And again bursts out in laughter.

Will Bahar be doing the same thing in 10 years from now we asked him? “Definitely.” Even though things like reading the small print on labels and travelling have become a bit more demanding for him these days. “Already as a kid I knew I wanted to be a DJ my entire life.” Bahar sees DJing as his calling. Someone should spread the gospel. Let it be him. “There’s so much music around that doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves. Often made by musicians that aren’t even around anymore. On top of this, on a good night I get so much back from the audience. Even though they don’t know my music, they understand what I’m trying to do.” When Bahar played in the famous Panorama bar in Berlin last year, some people left crying of joy; one person even fainted. “That gig gave me more confidence. If I can even emotionally move people in a techno club, I must be doing something right.”

Text: Rene Passet
Translation: Andrei Vilcov
Editing: Max Cole
Cover photo: Joss Kottmann

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Somewhere In Amsterdam ft. Sadar Bahar
26th of April, 2015

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We recently released the second edition of Rush Hour’s House Of Music magazine. This edition also featured an interview with Chicago’s Vincent Floyd, that we partly shared on this website before, around Vincent Floyd’s first Rush Hour 12″ , the repress Your Eyes/I’m So Deep.  To warm up for Floyd’s second release on the label, his EP called Moonlight Fantasy, we like to share the entire HOM article. Moonlight Fantasy will be out very very soon, and consists of unreleased material…

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Last winter Antal met Vincent Floyd during his stay in Chicago to ask him if he had any more tunes lying around, since his quality output didn’t come in big quantities. It turned out that Floyd had enough tracks, and he selected some of the finest tracks to compile an EP. Of course, Antal was intrigued to find out more about the man behind the music, so he asked him some questions…

Can you tell me how you got into music?
I have always loved all genres of music, and was fascinated by the guitar when I heard Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, and Prince. I got a guitar for Christmas when I was 11 years old, and I started taking lessons and writing songs. My uncles played the guitar and the piano, and my older brother, Lee, played the saxophone. I was always surrounded by musical people and listened to a lot of music on the radio.

How did your first house productions happen?
My best friend Armando Gallop was a DJ, promoter and house producer. When we were in high school, he bought a Roland TB-303 groove machine and a TR-707 drum machine.  We programmed a lot of tracks in his basement. I later purchased Roland and Yamaha drum machines and keyboards, and started recording songs.

When did you think of putting out your first 12 inch record?
I had been recording r&b songs as well as dance music. Armando had released Land of Confusion and introduced me to Ray Barney at Dance Mania. I let him hear the house tracks that I recorded and he released my first record.

Why did you basically limit your output to only five releases and a few side projects?
Although I have recorded hundreds of tracks, my output has been limited because I released music during a time in my life when I had less responsibilities and commitments.  Since the release of my music, I became a single parent and spent the majority of my time on obtaining an education which included earning a master’s degree and becoming a full-time music teacher. This was necessary to support my family, as I needed a stable income. So life changed, however, my passion for and practice of music has been consistent and now that my life has settled some, I intend to focus more on recording and producing music. My love of music includes r&b, jazz, rock, dance, classical and blues. I am always playing, writing, producing, and learning new things. I love house and dance music, but I also spent a lot of time on the other genres of music that I am interested in.

How would you describe Chicago in the 80s and 90s? How did that influence you musically?
During the 80s, rap and house music were both growing in popularity. There seemed to be more of a house scene in Chicago during the 80s, rap caught up in the 90s. I was sort of a low-key house head so that was my thing. I spent a great deal of time working in promotions: going to clubs and interacting with different people influenced my music.

Which Chicago musicians are your heroes?
When it comes to people from Chicago, I would have to say Mr. Fingers, Jamie Principle, Mike Dunn, Terry Hunter, Bobby Broom and Common are the artists I admire.

Who has been the artist in Chicago that you felt you could relate to most?
I grew up with Armando, he lived across the street when I was a child, and we were together a lot until he passed in 1996 from leukemia. I learned most things about house music, house music artists, and event promotion from Armando. I was inspired musically by Larry Heard (Mr. Fingers). I played keyboard with Larry on some of his tour dates when he was signed to MCA; his recordings are classic.

How did you get in touch with Chan, the vocalist on ‘Your Eyes’?
Chan (Dwayne Chandler), like Armando, is a childhood friend who lived next door to me growing up. I wrote the music and lyrics, Chan did the vocals. He is an awesome singer.

Can you name a few records that influenced you back in the days?
I have a fairly large record collection of thousands of records. The artists who influenced my house music were Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Mr. Fingers, Pet Shop Boys and disco music in general. My biggest musical influence is Prince, I am a big fan of his music and have seen him live over a dozen times.

Have you been active in Chicago’s dance music club culture? Did you go clubbing to the famous places where the history of this music gets referred to so often?
When I was younger I went to the Music Box and the Warehouse, as well as promoting parties at many different venues. I am not really much of a party-goer. I’ll treat a dance music venue the same as I do going to a jazz club: I go for the music.

Text: Antal
Editing: Max Cole

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‘Moonlight Fantasy’ features a selection of Vincent Floyd’s previously unreleased classics, mastered from the original DAT tapes. All tracks are soaked in warm leads, dreamy drums and gripping melodies.

The ‘Moonlight Fantasy’ digi release features four bonus tracks, that were not included in the vinyl EP.

EP: http://bit.ly/MoonlightFantasyEP
CD: http://bit.ly/MoonlightFantasyCD
iTunes: http://geni.us/vfloydmoonlightfantasy

 

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Over the last few months Rush Hour has crossed Europe and hosted label nights from Berlin to Bordeaux.  The touring hasn’t finished yet, and it’s time for nightspot Dude Club in Milan next Saturday, featuring Anthony ‘Shake’ Shakir, Antal and the Milan locals The Barking Dogs. Also Interstellar Funk is jumping on the bandwagon; the young man who is better known as Olf van Elden here at Rush Hour HQ, where he works.

Van Elden is known for his “House Train” track on Voyage Direct, and for his cuts released on Tape Records, the acclaimed record label that he runs together with a couple of friends. As a member of Tape DJs, he also organizes great parties here in Amsterdam. Since he’s on the bill of the Rush Hour label night in Milan next weekend and he spent last weekend recording tracks with Dutch electro pioneer Das Ding, it is time to ask him a few questions.

1. This is the first time you join a Rush Hour label night abroad…
Yes, it is. I am traveling together with Antal, thats fun already. So far I haven’t played much abroad. The Rush Hour night is a great start now for the rest of 2014, because I am having two more shows in Italy this year…

2. You are playing with Shake, Antal and The Barking Dogs. How are you looking forward to this night?
It’s a big honor to share the bill with those artists, especially because this night represents the label. I’ve never played with The Barking Dogs before, and also not with Shake – which is a huge honor of course. He is a techno pioneer and has been a big influence.

3. You have already played at quite some Rush hour label nights. When can we expect your music released on Rush Hour?
There is some music around for those in the know…

4. Last weekend you went jamming with Das Ding. That is special. Can you describe what it was like? What did you record and what will happen with the output?
It was a very interesting experiment. The sessions were also a preparation for a live performance, that will happen the day after Dude Club in Milan. I will head to Nijmegen to play some of the jams live with Das Ding at a venue called Brebl. We never met before the jam sessions but it felt really confident. We started jamming on Friday afternoon and left the building on Saturday night. We recorded the whole session, let’s see what the future will bring.

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After the first edition of the RH House Of Music magazine, we really liked the idea of doing a magazine, and that has lead to the second edition in the making!  The upcoming HOM features stories on Invisible City Editions,  Sahel Sounds’ Mamman Sani and… Awanto 3! To warm up for it, we decided to put a part of Awanto 3’s interview online that we will publish in the second edition. 

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Steven van Hulle aka Awanto 3 has been a key figure in the Amsterdam electronic music scene for a long time. For more than 20 years he has been in all kinds of music and art projects like Rednose Distrikt, PIPS:lab, Klakson and more. Just a few years ago, he had the urge to create his first solo album under his Awanto 3 guise: and again we are hearing something so diverse. Opel Mantra is house music, but a lot of tracks go far beyond that, fusing exciting rhythms and musicians into a surprising whole.  Van Hulle tells us more about the versatility of his music and art…

You have been into music for such a long time, what have you been up to all these years?
I was born in Belgium, and in the mid eighties, when my parents decided to move to Noord-Holland in the Netherlands, it was all about electric boogie, skateboarding, graffiti, Doe Maar and Ciske de Rat for me. Thanks to Grandmaster Flash, the Furious Five, Herbie Hancock and of course Michael Jackson, dance music started to crawl through my veins. When I turned 17 years old, I started DJing for real with my uncle’s records. I started to buy hip-hop, disco, jazz and house records for myself… Later on I got also into spaced out jazz and funk and then there was also electro & techno… too much to handle.

But we are only now talking about your solo debut album. Why’s that?
Don’t know. I’ve put out quite some music, but most of them were collaborations, because I am quite a team player. I have never had a real long-lasting focus, I’ve been doing all kinds of projects with different people. I started with graffiti back in the days, and visual jokes and projects have always remained in my life. So like a lot of other graffiti artists, I ended up being multidisciplinary. I grew into a lot of different forms of ‘art’. Yes, it all has kept me really busy for a while.

Can you give an example of your diversity when it comes to your music projects?
I started Rednose Distrikt with Kid Sublime, and Aardvarck joined later. We used to combine weird musical contrasts, in a typical Rednose way. We took it quite far, sometimes to a level that we really annoyed the dance floor. People would have been dancing and enjoying themselves in the flow of the music, and suddenly we kind of scared them off with grind core fragments or carnival hits that fucked or hyped up the vibe totally for a few seconds. We kind of had that punk attitude, liked to be a bit wanton. On the other hand I like to point out Klakson, Steffi and Dexter’s label. I started Klakson with Steffi and released the first three records with music from my friend Dexter. I grew up with him musically as well. That was something completely different from Rednose Distrikt. The music was more electronic, more serious and dark. The crowd we reached was different, the parties as well, and so on. I mean you can see it now. Klakson has become big, while Rednose has never made it, due to a lot of reasons. One reason is that we not really had the intention to become popular with Rednose, and that was a part of our punky attitude.

The Awanto 3 album ‘Opel Mantra’ is very diverse, but consistent at the same time. It is house music, but it goes beyond that. The fact that you have worked together with musicians makes it sound very live, almost like a band. Is this the result of all those years of experience?
I actually hadn’t planned to work with musicians. After I finished the tracks on my MPC, I found out that everything was recorded mono. I was so disappointed in myself, I insisted to overdub all the samples with stereo layers. Then Jameszoo tipped me to go to the Red Bull studio, he had recorded a lot there too, and it was for free. I called up my favourite musicians – New Cool Collective’s Jos de Haas and Frank van Dok, and Zuco103’s Stefan Schmid for instance, musicians that I had worked with before. And Jungle By Night’s horn players Ko & Bo and and Tom Trago joined as well. So that is actually how it happened.

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Awanto 3’s Opel Mantra consists of 3 12″ and a CD. 
Find more info or purchase via the following links

Opel Mantra pt 1
Opel Mantra pt 2
Opel Mantra pt 3
Opel Mantra CD 

 

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After the first edition of the RH House Of Music magazine, we really liked the idea of doing a magazine, and that has lead to the second edition in the making!  The upcoming HOM features stories on Invisible City Editions, Awanto 3, Sahel Sounds’ Mamman Sani and more… To warm up for it, we decided to put Tom Trago’s feature online that we published in the first edition. 

We interviewed him when he was about to release his 3rd album called The Light Fantastic. Tom is doing really well, here you find photos of his The Light Fantastic North America Tour. That is just great. Enjoy the read!

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Tom Trago wasn’t going to stick around in Amsterdam. On the contrary. He chose to escape his daily emails, phonecalls and whatever could distract him from his plan to create his third album ‘The Light Fantastic’. He had a set plan to make a concept album, and nothing should change that. So he activated his auto email reply, rented a van, stuffed it with equipment and drove off to the forest for a month. Trago came back only a few months ago, but to him it feels like it has been ages already. 

I went looking for Trago at his studio in Amsterdam and we spoke about his album and about how much the Dutch capital means to him.

“So this is the place where I have done most of my music”, the producer says when he shows the floor where his studio is at. “I recorded my first two albums here, ‘Voyage Direct’ and ‘Iris’.” He plumps down on a red couch in the hallway, just outside of the studio that he shares with Maxi Mill who is recording stuff as we speak. Since Trago returned from his forest adventure, it has been business as usual. He restarted his international gigs and continued his life in Amsterdam. One remarkable thing is that his friend San Proper got himself a studio just down the hall. After a long studio session and just before this interview, Trago finds Proper asleep, lying on his couch next to his guitars.

“When I came back I finished the album tracks here. Although they were completed, I thought I could change quite some a bit of the tracks again.” Trago continues: “That actually happens a lot. Sometimes it takes more than 10 phases before a track is completed. Most of the time I record something, people listen to it and have tips or whatever. I play with the feedback and change the track.  For example, ‘True Friends’ went through 16 phases. I talked with Maxim [Maxi Mill] about it, with my manager Christiaan Macdonald and Rush Hour’s Antal Heitlager inspired me as well.”

Musical journey
During the process of his second album ‘Iris’, really anything took him on a musical journey, Trago says. “A lot of people say the tracks sound very widely influenced. They are right. In general I dig into a lot of different kinds of music, like hip-hop, disco, house, folk, jazz, funk and so on. That is just the way I grew into music.” But for his third album Trago had a very strong vision of the road he wanted to take. “For ‘The Light Fantastic’ I wanted to use less samples and more synths. And it had to be for the dancefloor. I didn’t want to make songs, so I didn’t want to be influenced by jazz and folk. Of course, every now and then I had to get my head off topic and I created a hip-hop beat. That’s just the way I work. I do all kinds of things. But in the end I was very selective about the tracks that I found suitable for the album. In the forest I had a good distance to overview what I wanted.”

And after tweaking his third album, the title ‘The Light Fantastic’ suddenly arrived on top of his work. “It is based on a poem ‘Tripping the light fantastic’. It means something like imaginagy or fantastic dancing. It really points out what happens when we create music with the joy of dancing in our minds.” Trago takes a moment to overview his work. “I think that my three albums are very different, but on all you can definitely hear my sound”, Trago says. How did that happen? Trago doesn’t have to think twice. “Amsterdam has always played a huge role in my music. People like Antal, Cris Backer and KC the Funkaholic and a few other DJs here like Cinnaman and Mr Wix have been a big influence. Thanks to the Rush Hour store and because I knew these people, I have created my sound.”

Influences
Trago’s musical journey kind of started by a Kid named Sublime. Talking about the versatility of the Amsterdam scene; Tom Trago got in touch with Rush Hour, because hip-hop head Kid Sublime released a house track that was sold at the store. “I used to go to hip-hop record store Fat Beats a lot, where Kid Sublime worked. I would always buy double as much when he was working, because he knew exactly which records to pitch. One day I heard he had his first record out, and I had to search for Rush Hour to buy it. Back then I only bought hip-hop and jazz, but I did buy it! My first house record. And I really liked it, because I felt where the music was coming from. At Rush Hour I started digging for disco, house and I got in touch with the Rush Hour crew and Rednose Distrikt. Not long after I met them I decided to quit school. Really, Rednose and all these guys gave me the feeling that you can do whatever you want, however you want it. As long as you truly believe in it. That you can shape your fantasy in real life.”

And around that time, Trago met Cinnaman. “Yuri [Cinnaman] was working at Rush Hour back then, and he was doing the Beat Dimensions project. I saw him being way ahead of time, dropping unreleased stuff on Myspace for example. I was collecting jazz and hip-hop while he was doing that future stuff, creating beats without sample loops.” Trago borrowed some synthesizers that he started using next to his Akai MPC and his beats started to sound more electronical. But one important thing was missing for the beat-creator. “In the club I couldn’t do jack shit with those slow, deep and heavy beats.” Trago started playing more and more housy DJ sets, at pop temple Paradiso for example. And one day it was really time for something else. “I hooked up with Yuri, he said: ‘let’s put the drum machine on 120 BPM, grab some Chicago synths and see what happens’.” And something did happen, it meant the release of the Yuro Trago record, and Trago’s next step in his music. Not very long after that, he dropped his first album, a collection of his first house productions.

Trago grabs the flabbergasting sleeve for ‘The Light Fantastic’. It looks really futuristic. “This is done by Machine. They do a lot of artwork for KC’s label Kindred Spirits as well. We talked about the idea and vibe, what I wanted for this album. This artwork and also that of ‘Voyage Direct’ and ‘Iris’ looks very digital, futuristic in a way. But if you look closer, you can see it still looks analog and organic. Like my music, it is a bit futuristic, but it hasn’t forgotten its heritage.”

Friends
Back to the forest, because that’s the place where most of ‘The Light Fantastic’ found life. Despite the fact Trago escaped his home town, he never intended to escape his friends. “I was staying in some hut in the middle of the woods and lots of people dropped by.” What was that like? “Well, Hollywood visited me for example and she wanted me to do a Chicago house track for her. She asked me what to sing on it, and I told her to just express her love for house music. So she popped a pill, and we recorded her vocals in one take. That became ‘Jack me’.” Trago shows lots of pictures of his friends playing instruments, chilling out in the hut or running around in the forest at night. “On my second album I chose to work with well known artists like Tyree Cooper and Romanthony, but now I want to show that the local people here are as great as those super stars, great enough to do a complete album with.”

And that is exactly what he wants to show with his label Voyage Direct as well, on which he only releases artists from the Netherlands, like Awanto 3, Maxi Mill, Dexter, Interstellar Funk and William Kouam Djoko. “There are so many talented producers around here, and that is much more important to me than the big names from abroad. The releases on Voyage Direct get great reviews at international music platforms. But how many people know that all these artists are friends that hang around with each other? I really recognize a typical sound from Amsterdam and I hope that in a few years people will hear our sound next to the typical Detroit and Chicago sound. At least, with Voyage Direct I’ll try my best to make that happen.”

Text: Mijke Hurkx
Translation and editing: Max Cole

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This Sunday! Just a few more days until we get back together again, Somewhere In Amsterdam it is! We invited three king connoisseurs of the broad-spectrum of soul, house, disco and far beyond – Ron Trent, Sadar Bahar and Volcov – who are gonna take us on a musical trip. For the occasion we like to highlight Volcov from Verona, Italy. How do you briefly introduce a man that has been representing quality music for decades? Let’s give it a shot…

If we have to introduce Volcov, we would say that you started collecting Transmat, Dance Mania, Nu Groove in the late eighties… A few years later you lived in London and via drum and bass you got strongly attached to the West-London broken beat scene. What is your direction now?
Well yes, I started with the Larry Heard and Lil Louis adoration in ’89 – ‘91 and went on discovering more things on the way. I was into drum and bass, because I did my first productions in that style. But I got bored quickly. In the mid nineties I began my search for rare grooves, Brazilian music, soul, disco et cetera. And in the early 2000s I started making edits – I did those NYC and SJNLR series. Nowadays I try to be pretty eclectic. If I have to put it short, I think I put more attention to vocals and melodies, rather than to beats.

Back then you must have run into Ron Trent’s releases as well… These soulful grooves must have appealed to you then. How did Ron Trent inspire you in your musical life?
Ron’s production output is huge and so influential. I think I own most of Prescription and Future Vision catalogues. Although a lot of people check especially for the early-mid 90s stuff nowadays, I have to say that the USG green Prescription labels era is my favorite. I also admire the fact he started pressing vinyl again, pressing Future Vision releases when vinyl wasn’t as fashionable as it is now.

Around 2000 you got attached to the West-London broken beat scene. This particular scene kind of dried up, although the artists affiliated with that scene, like Dego, Kaidi Tatham, Mark the Clive Lowe, are still doing their thing. How did the artists after that particular West London thing continue? I reckon you are all still close friends…
I think when it became more about the beats and less about the music, it became a bit boring, a bit formulaic. Music goes often in cycles… Those names that you mention definitely kept it going, more than others. Dego and Kaidi are my favorite producers from the last decade or so, I am very partial when it comes to their music.

Sounds Familiar is a label and booking agency that represents you, Sadar Bahar and Dego to name a few. How did you get in touch with Sadar?
Sounds Familiar is actually more, it’s also a production company and in general a group of likeminded people. The first time I booked Sadar was in January 2007 for a party in Verona, and since then I contacted him regularly for gigs in various cities in Italy. Together with the JAW crew and a few other friends we tried to get him more gigs in Europe, as we were all big fans of his music and attitude. Once Ornella Cicchetti decided to come back to the music scene, it felt natural to introduce her to some friends like Dego and Sadar.

So… Somewhere In Amsterdam this Sunday… We’ve been trying to imagine what the party will be like… It will be exciting, as the musical journey can really go in different directions. Have you ever played with Ron Trent before? How do you get prepared, are you packing some secret weapons?
I never played with Ron, only had the pleasure to meet him a couple of times. But I did play few times before with Sadar and Antal, some of my favorite djs. I think the night will be quite eclectic and soulful. Not sure yet what to bring, I guess quite a mix of things, for sure that new Theo Parrish ‘Footwork’ jam… I have to say it’s quite painful that I won’t be carrying any of Ron’s tracks…

Join us at Somewhere In Amsterdam!!

RSVP and find your tickets here

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After the first edition of the RH House Of Music magazine, we really liked the idea of doing a magazine, and that has lead to the second edition in the making!  The upcoming HOM features stories on Invisible City Editions, Awanto 3, Sahel Sounds’ Mamman Sani and more…

To warm up for it, we decided to put Xosar’s feature online that we published in the first edition. Enjoy!

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Very pretty, but far more bright, Sheela Rahman a.k.a. XOSAR picked up producing electronic music after studying neuropsychology. After her first release, not so long ago, she agreed with Rush Hour to put out a few beautiful records. In a short space of time, we got to know her as an interesting lady in her cockpit of electronic musical hardware.

We had a conversation about her releases on Rush Hour, about soundtracking scenes in life and how she conjures magic when she creates music.


Let’s start at the point of your first release. You hadn’t put anything out before your release on L.I.E.S., and then there was this really peculiar, dark but above all super refined EP called ‘Tropical Cruize’. To me this release sounded like you had been producing interesting stuff for a long time. Why didn’t you put out music earlier?

Releasing the tracks wasn’t a huge priority for me, I was more concerned with the feelings associated with making the music, the endorphin rush that each new melody would induce, that satisfaction synchronicity induces when the elements fall into place. I wanted other people to share these feelings, so I posted some tracks on the internet. Eventually people started contacting me saying they were interested in releasing it. They usually thought I was a guy and addressed me as “bro” or “man”, but I was ok with that. For some reason it made me feel powerful.  After flirting with the idea of becoming a faceless producer, I decided to just be myself, so here I am!

In a short time you have released quite a few records. As far as I know each one has got its own peculiar vibe, or story. Can you tell me more about how the releases came to be? Let’s talk about your output on Rush Hour, starting with ‘Ghosthaus’.

I recorded it in San Francisco, right after my room mates and I decided our house was haunted.  This excited me. I imagined that I was starring in a paranormal TV series. In each episode I’d be contacted by the central intelligence agency, they would inform me of my next mission, then I would go onto investigate whatever UFO landing site or haunted house I would need to go to and hopefully solve the mystery. After much time spent fantasizing, I decided I might as well concoct a theme song for the opening credits of this fictitious tv-series: ‘Ghosthaus’.

Haha, nice. How about ‘Nite Jam’?

When I was young, I wasn’t allowed to go out. No parties, no friends. Definitely no boyfriends. I lived in the suburbs, the closest entertainment within a 5 mile radius was a Vietnamese strip mall and a Toyota dealership. In my solitude, my only escape was music and books and I started to idealize this concept of seductive big city life in my head. The city is where all the energy is, where things happen, the jugular. In this vision, I’d descend unto the dusk, foot heavy on the pedal, wind against my cheek, deep and sensual beats blaring. I’d pull up to an underground warehouse party and immerse myself into the music and the atmosphere of the mystical gathering, sharing some sort of transendental experience with the other party goers. I would fantasize about this scenario and city life in general.  When I stayed with my parents for a week in the beginning of last year, I was remembering all these childhood fantasies of mine, trying to capture the imagined scenes, giving them justice by giving them a soundtrack. That was ‘Nite Jam’.

Last but certainly not least: ‘The Calling’.

I produced this in Los Angeles at the end of last year.  This isn’t so much soundtracking a fantasy this time, but more like soundtracking my real LA life. I was living in this wild mansion with seven people, I’d be meeting all sorts of new people every day. I went to the desert nature in palm springs on the weekends, and was working in a warehouse in downtown doing graphic design during the week. It is a colorful song to a colorful upbeat time in my life.

You have studied neuropsychology and you are a graphic designer. And, it can’t be ignored, you are a woman. What inspired you to start producing electronic music?

I started producing music on my mint green Kermit the Frog Casio EP-10 in the east side of San Jose when I was 5 years old. I took some time off to fulfill my trivial earthly requirements such as school, then I picked up where I left off about 4 or 5 years ago. I just had this unshakable desire to recreate certain vibes that I’ve either imagined or experienced but have always clung to because of the unexplainable mysterious magic they conjure.

I reckon you were the only girl around being into it?

Only girl? Hmm more like only person! After I took an interest in both electronic music and producing, it took several years for me to find like-minded people.  Where I grew up, everyone listened to hip hop and rap, and freestyle which was cool. When I finally went to audio engineering school there were only 4 people in the class. I was the only girl though, yes, along with a dubstep producer, a hardcore speedcore freak, and a 73-year-old one-armed medieval new age producer.

How did you pick up producing music? What were your first electronic musical instruments and why?

After many failed attempts at learning software myself and just not knowing where to start, I consulted with my close friend Adeptus to help me figure it out. He sat for many hours, explaining to me the intricacies of programming the Electribe using the EA-1. There’s something incredibly special about the Electribe. It enables you to glide through time and space with impeccable finesse, you never have to disrupt your creative flow with some decision about which Ableton preset patch to select. I practiced every day, recording bits and pieces into garage band.

This wasn’t good enough though. I wanted a more robust understanding of production and sound, I wanted a solid fountation based in fact and precision. After swooning over this audio engineering school for several months, I saved just enough money to afford it. I had a full time job and after work at 6 every day I would ride my bike 10 minutes to my audio engineering classes. When I was there, I finally got that foundation I was looking for, they taught me all about everything from how to program a synthesizer to music theory to breaking down the production merits of Aphex Twin’s ‘Selected Ambient Works 85-92’.

You moved to De Hague, how do you like it so far? From your point of view, how is San Francisco different from De Hague? 

Both are very beautiful, different places with a lot of personality. San Francisco has the big city vibes, the Netherlands has the old world energy. There isn’t a whole lot of raw nature in San Francisco as accessible as it is in the Netherlands. That’s one of the reasons I love the Netherlands for the time being, because I like to have easy access to nature, the beach, the dunes, the forest.

Xamiga and Trackman Lafonte & BonQuiQui are your collaborations with Legowelt. In what way do you find each other while making music and how do you approach the process of making music completely different?

Lately Danny (Wolfers, Legowelt) likes to sequence all his melodies in Ableton and I love to play them by hand. I like the idea of sequencing the melodies with a computer, and it’s probably more precise that way, but I feel like I can access and channel certain parts of your body and soul when I play live that you can’t attain quite as well when you are doing it through machine-like programming. Although you can achieve some pretty freaky intense results that way at least. Everyone is different and thrives under different conditions though. Danny has been producing for 10 years more than me, so he probably has advanced further into a level that I don’t yet understand fully.

You know that Kermit Casio I was talking about earlier? Well I still have it and I use it on Xamiga songs sometimes. For ‘Kermit’s day out’, I threw down some melodies onto a kick then Danny supplemented with additional percussive sounds then we kept sending the file back and forth until we got bored then we called it done.

I know Legowelt has a thing for his Amiga 1200. I was wondering… Is Xamiga a combined name, Xosar + Amiga?

It’s actually the name of a baby tiger we met in Las Vegas at Siegfried and Roy’s tiger refuge.

At this point you are working on your first album, it will be put out on Rush Hour. What can we expect? Or is it all still a big blur?

I’d prefer to let the music speak for itself, I’m more curious to see what kinds of worlds and fantasies the music conjures in the minds of the listeners!

Of course you still have dreams of things you’d like to do or that could happen. Can you give an example? 

You know what the biggest room in the world is? The room for improvement! I really hope to improve my production skillset and I guess my life skillset in general. I hope to jam with my friends more, and hopefully star in a paranormal tv series. ;)

 

Text: Mijke Hurkx
Translation and editing: Max Cole

 

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When the legendary Ron Trent enters our store on a Wednesday afternoon, we have to ask him the stories behind a few of his memorable records. Especially because we got a few classic titles in-store, one of the first Ron & Chez D records (early nineties style deepness) and another one that Ron Trent produced in the eighties: ERB – ‘The Weekend’. “I made this one in my bed room”, the house pioneer recalls. When we ask him to pick out one of his Chicago treasures, he finds another oldie by Melodious Miles and Bo…. Enjoy the video!

Records:
1. ERB – The Weekend
The official reissue of ERB, a collaboration between Braxton Holmes and Ron Trent on Clubhouse Records from Chicago.

2. Ron & Chez D – Same Titled
Superb Ron Trent & Chez Damier house!

3. Melodious Myles and Bo – Odyssey Love
Produced in 1986, Chicago 12″ – delightful string work on top of a bassline and choice drum programming.

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We already know that Antal met Vincent Floyd in Chicago last March. Since he is a longtime fan of Floyd’s work, he asked for unreleased music.  It turned out that Floyd had enough material, and he selected some of the finest to compile an EP.

Of course Antal wanted to find out more about the man behind the music, so he asked him some questions. This is just a tease, the complete interview will be published in our next House Of Music magazine.

How would you describe Chicago in the 80ties and 90ties? And how did that influence you musically?
During the 80’s, rap and house music were both growing in popularity.  There seemed to be more of a house scene in Chicago during the 80’s, rap caught up in the 90’s.  I was sort of a low key house head so that was my thing. I spent a great deal of time working in promotions;  going to clubs and interacting with different people influenced my music.

Who are the artists in Chicago that you felt closely related to?
I grew up with Armando Gallop, he lived across the street when I was a child, and we were together a lot until he passed in 1996 from leukemia. He was a DJ, I learned most things about house music, house music artists, and event promotion from him. I was inspired musically by Larry Heard aka Mr. Fingers. I played keyboard with Larry on some of his tour dates when he was signed to MCA; his recordings are classic. And Chan, who did the vocals for ‘Your Eyes’, is Dwayne Chandler. like Armando, is a childhood friend who lived next door to me when we grew up. He is an awesome singer.

How did your first house productions come about?
Armando was a house producer as well. When we were in high school, he bought a Roland TB-303 groove machine and a TR-707 drum machine. We programmed a lot of tracks in his basement.  I later purchased Roland and Yamaha drum machines and keyboards and started to recording songs. I had been recording R&B songs as well as dance music. Armando had released “Land of Confusion” and introduced me to Ray Barney at Dance Mania.

 

Vincent Floyd – ‘Your Eyes/I’m So Deep’ (RH RSS 10) is available at our store and distribution

Purchase via the store
Purchase via distribution

 

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On March 1st we are is going to hear and see Actress his first life set in Amsterdam after releasing his latest album ‘Ghettoville’. If that isn’t enough; on that same night we are also going to enjoy Moiré’s music. He is going to take us on a thrilling  journey, as he will be playing some unreleased material too – we will be his test dummies. In advance of this huge treat we spoke to Moiré, and apparently he is looking forward to it. We could say… quite as much as we do.

1. You released your first 12” on Actress his label, Werk Discs. How did you two meet and how did you find out that you could be (musical) soul mates?
It was abstract destiny, haha. My friend Lessons, who actually worked with me on this release, introduced me to Actress his ‘Hazyville’ album when it just came out, and I loved it. I had been massively into techno and house and also sort of other stuff  for years, buying records and going to raves. But I was also interested in some kind of ‘new’ attitude and sound – more abstract and uneven rhythmically. Something that would be challenging the ‘classic sound’ and Actress was the answer. His early records were quite inspiring. So when I finally got my ideas thogether and finished some of my own music, I felt that passing it to Werk Discs would be a cool idea. Then we all met , played some shows together etc. And the story continues!

2. In an interview you said that you don’t like to rush into things when in comes to releasing music. We haven’t seen a release for a while, what have you been up to lately?
The process of making and playing music is what I love the most. The actual time in the studio, and how it evolves to the moment I play in the club and release the idea to the crowd is what drives me forward. Pretty much on every gig, I play something unique I have just made, but is not out. Releasing music is the last step. I  just wanna make sure people get the best stuff. So in the terms of my music I like to take my time and write ’till its done. I’m in the process of releasing some tracks right now. There are a few tracks coming out, one is called Solar Signs and its gonna be out on Phonica Records’ 10 years release. Also I’ve been working on bunch of remixes too, which should be out soon.

3. What we can be on the lookout for is a next 12” on Rush Hour. Can you already tell us something about it?
Yeah for sure, but i don’t  know the details yet. I have loads of ideas that needs finishing and road testing, then we will decide what’s best and if there is something perfectly suitable we can put it out.

4. I also read that environments have an influence on the esthetics of your sound. You have been at Club Trouw before… what can we expect from you there?
Trouw is  special, I feel mega lucky to be able to play there. Of all the clubs I’ve ever been to, it is probably one of my favorites in terms of environment. Architecture is my background, so I do appreciate nice spaces. It just feels nice to play in an interesting building, it helps the music being heard. And vice versa;  music helps architecture to say something to people, then it’s not just a concrete building anymore.

Come join us at Trouw Amsterdam – 1st of March, check out the full line-up on the event’s Facebook page

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