Watch Skrillex Give Katie Couric a Lesson in Dance Music

Despite being a veteran journalist and TV personality, Katie Couric certainly isn’t pretending to be a dance music expert. In her new sit-down with bass superstar Sonny Moore – aka Skrillex – the Yahoo Global News Anchor takes the position of a curious, slightly bemused mom, throwing down wide-eyed questions about ‘button-pushing,’ the divisive reputation of Jack Ü collaborator Justin Bieber, drugs and Moore’s personal life.

While some of the territory covered in Yahoo’s 15-minute segment will be familiar to even casual fans, the interview is revealing about the producer’s family and beliefs. On how he deflects criticism, Moore reasons, “I feel if people don’t understand something, it’s easy for them to immediately bash it. Because they feel insecure that they don’t understand what’s cool and what’s new. But all I say is, hey, if it’s that easy, you can go and do it too.”

Couric also gets a look inside Skrillex’s downtown LA studio, where he makes those “pulsating beats,” and hears what he makes of the much-derided trailer for Zac Efron’s new DJ movie, We Are Your Friends. Watch the piece in full below or at the Yahoo site.

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D&B Stalwart Moresounds Discusses His Return to Astrophonica, Live Setup & more

Fracture has become notorious in D&B circles for his exercises in experimental sounds, creating a haven for innovative formats by establishing his own label, Astrophonica. Though perhaps initially founded as an avenue to release his own sounds, the label has become much more than that – everyone from Machinedrum and Dawn Day Night to French producer Moresounds have found a home for their explorations with Astrophonica.

We last spoke with Moresounds at the end of 2013, while he was working on his self-titled EP. This week, he is back on Fracture’s label with his Pure Niceness EP, which explores more of the sound he has been refining in his own particular corner of the electronic music world. We reconnected with Moresounds to discuss his return to the label, his take on the current trends, and his thoughts for the future.

We last spoke when your previous EP on Astrophonica dropped, and since then you haven’t released a track I wasn’t in love with. You and others like Om Unit and Machinedrum have really carved out a niche in a whirlwind mutation of juke and footwork, hip hop, jungle, dub and half-time D&B. Are you seeing this sound starting to develop its own independent following?

Yeah. I feel like this sound had a very natural progression that’s been developed by all producers that are involved in this movement. Everything from hip-hop or dub to jungle to footwork, they’re all linked together and that’s what you are hearing. I think it will evolve on its own to maybe become something we have yet to imagine…

I like this melting of genres, it gives you a freedom for composing tracks, and I’m not confined to one style. I would love to release some proper dub tunes or some weird abstract music. I usually try to follow my intuition so I’m sure you’ll see some stuff like that pretty soon, but I will definitely continue to make tunes in the 160/170 scene for sure. I’m actually really proud to be part this movement, and I love listening fresh tunes and hearing ideas from other producers. There’s a lot of different combinations of ideas and some very exiting emulations going on out there right now. It’s very inspirational and keeps me excited to produce every day.

This new one, the Pure Niceness EP has a somewhat similar feel to your last Astrophonica EP. How’d you link up with Fracture and Astrophonica? What would you say is the difference between the two releases, or how has your sound evolved?

There was a great reception for the first EP, and just after the release, I sent a raw track called “Reality Tune” to Fracture. He wanted to release it right away on a second EP. I think, because both of these productions were so close together, this would explain the consistency between the two EPs. It’s kind of like a B-side of the first one.

At the end of last year, you had a track on Doc Scott’s label, ThirtyOne Recordings, as part of the Future Beats Compilation they put together. How did you get involved with that? Did Scott reach out to you personally?

Yeah, one day I received an email from Scott himself, yes. He was enjoying one of my tunes and asked if I wanted to be part of the Future Beats compilation. I was shocked, and was very honored to present a track alongside the kind of talent that you saw on this mad compilation. So yeah, it was a total surprise. I suspect Om Unit may have given him some of my material.
I meet him last summer in Sardina at Sun and Bass festival. I played with Fracture and SPY and in the next room were Goldie, Doc Scott and Grooverider. It was a totally crazy night!

Let’s talk a bit about your live performance setup; does this relate to your production set-up? What does your studio consist of?

Yes, it actually does. It’s same setup, but adapted for Live, like a small exploration capsule kit.
I wanted to keep the dub spirit for live performances rather than using controllers. I adapted my live setup to keep it as mobile as possible, so I have a smaller mixer and smaller gear.

For production, there is a mixing desk in the center of everything. This is the brain that everything is connected to. As a dub lover, I have a bunch of echoes and reverbs, also some effects and filters. I love everything that can alter the sounds and make them strange. I have a few synths and samplers, and I use both analog and digital effects with a bunch of plugins, too. All of it is good to work with, and it’s even better is to mix everything together.

Who are some artists that have peeked your interest lately?

Ivy Lab, Sully, Sam Binga, Dj Madd, Touchy Subject, FLTCHR MNSON, Crypticz, Coleco, Fanu, Dexta

What kind of releases do you have lined up for the rest of the year? Anything you can tell us about?

I have a forthcoming EP On 31 Recordings. I have some new remixes and collabs, and an upcoming self-released EP. Big up Cosmic Bridge fam, Astrophonica, ThirtyOne Recordings, LowRise gang… Shtrak!

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Spor/Feed Me Mastermind Jon Gooch Talks Art, Money & His Early Career

After a brief hiatus, Jon Gooch, the outspoken mastermind behind the highly rated Spor, Feed Me and Seventh Stitch aliases recently returned to his revered Spor drum & bass moniker for the release of Caligo, a new full-length LP on his Sotto Voce label.

His much-anticipated return to his bass roots was embraced by fans, but Gooch avoided conventional paths and chose to release the album in various forms, centering around a “pay as you like” download option via BitTorrent. With 500,000 downloads of the album to date, a headlining club tour in full swing and a firing Essential Mix  under his belt, we sat down with Spor to discuss his halcyon days in London, being a lifelong Prodigy fan and, of course, his stunning new album.

Read on for a rare glimpse inside the musical mind of the mercurial UK producer, and a short behind-the-scenes video of him backstage at London’s The Nest, before his sold-out March show.

You’ve been at it a long time. Do you remember what you were doing before Spor began?

Is that a backhanded compliment, followed by a question about my memory being potentially poor? I’d built a network of contacts online, I think I was the 80th or so member of DeviantArt, for example. I did some freelance GUI work for Microsoft. Worked in a bar. Played N64. Shuffled around in an indeterminate fashion wondering what the fuck life was all about. Kind of Charlie Brown with Photoshop and dial-up. Music dramatically skewed the direction of my life though, unquestionably.

Who were you listening to back in those early days that made you want to start producing?

I’m not sure I really thought of it as producing — I really liked IDM, particularly Squarepusher (something of a hero to me). I suppose the idea that you could map down ideas you couldn’t possibly play solo was enthralling. I remember my dad explaining how Mike Oldfield made “Tubular Bells” and it sparked my curiosity. I should also mention FL Studio, the usability of it meant I could almost immediately have a total field day sketching out ideas or experimenting.”

I was reading your AMA on Reddit and you mentioned your friend Martin P. I got swept into this narrative of you as the shy producer and Martin as the hustling friend, like a drum & bass version of “Entourage.” Was it like that, or am I romanticizing it too much?

It was exactly like “Entourage,” to the letter, except we were 18, in London, broke, drove in his mom’s purple Mondeo Estate and neither of us had ever had sex. So you’re bang on, really.

How the did you hook up with The Prodigy to remix “Nasty”?

Honestly, I’ve no idea. I got asked through my management. I thought about making up a story about how we carved the idea together around a campfire, but I think my coffee is wearing off. As a lifelong fan of their music, I was obviously flattered at the opportunity. Hopefully they like it and I represent a piece of dance music that isn’t “so fucking dead.” I did get a call from someone at their management who suggested some changes, and said that certain aspects of my remix were — to quote — “flippant.” When I disputed, I got told that “normally when I ask people to change their remix they say ‘oh alright then’,” to which I said I wasn’t “normal,” but it all seemed to work out. The response I got was overwhelming, and really inspired me to drive home the final touches to Calgio, so thanks all.

I think there was a bit of early speculation that the Feed Me brand might kill Spor altogether. Was it always your intention to keep all of your aliases alive for further possible creative exploration? Do you see yourself trying any additional projects in the future?

Yeah, why close doors for yourself? I would’ve released a Spor album back before — “Pacifica” was always intended for it as well as “Like Clockwork” — I made the prior almost immediately after hearing Keaton drop Benga & Coki “Night” at a show we played. It kind of splayed my brain open to the idea that other tempos existed. If I’d finished the album back then, it’d probably be a lot less D&B. Finding new ways of categorizing my work has been really enjoyable and easier to work with. I have another project, Seventh Stitch, with any luck that’s next.

I think most people would agree that you rank amongst the most technically gifted producers in drum & bass. I want to get into the specifics of your mental process rather than your procedural process. Is there a mindset you have to have going into production when you’re making something under Spor, that differs when you’ve done something under Feed Me?

Thank you. Not hugely. It doesn’t really feel like a struggle to settle into whatever alias I’m working to. I always enjoy being creative in the studio, I don’t have to mentally prepare, and if I’m free to work then I get on with it. I like being on my own really; it’s escapism. I’ve read people say all sorts of things about the differences and what they prefer in my various projects — positive or negative, it’s always good fun to read this all from what is, I guess, a quite unique perspective.

Your new album Caligo dropped with no huge, commercial promotional campaign behind it, yet people still showed up to buy it, moving the needle enough to rank it as one of our top selling D&B albums. What does that kind of success mean to you?

It’s obviously extremely humbling. But we’re all stuck in the same boat here — what the fuck are we supposed to believe in anymore? I’m tired of being presented with a vision (or an ethic), and then shown where I need to sign to pay for my piece of it. People suggested setting a minimum cost for the album but that defeated the point to me, it was liberating to be able to create a structure where we really put the choice in the hands of the community, and then really moving when people were choosing to donate money regardless.

I’m not sure I believe in paying for music. It only became a commodity when we worked out how to record it and then reproduce these recordings, before that you’d have to pay for performance. If you think about how music works — energy dissipating over a period of time, it’s totally intangible in many ways. It doesn’t sit on a wall in a constant state like a painting. I just saw Jay Z try and defend Tidal and he kept referencing fast-food, his prose was so lost in a capitalist business ethic, I couldn’t help feeling like he was missing the point.

A unit of music doesn’t pop out of the end of a factory line of workers, vacuum-packed. It’s infinite now. All these play count meters aren’t helping either when they only measure the expenditure of the reproduction, and not the user engagement. I’ve been affected more by pieces of music I’ve heard once or twice than some I’ve heard hundreds. So by blowing all this “commoditizing” bullshit apart we can — as artists and as art consumers — take back our vote to an extent.

What I really do believe in is supporting people who I want to succeed. Buying prints of artists I admire, paying to experience films I love in new ways, sponsoring projects that inspire me — I recently sponsored the Bloodhound SSC project for example. Taking my personal investment to the least diluted level.

Direct-to-artist is one system that will remain. In the meantime, I think we’ll see the corporate monoliths that the “commodification” of art allowed to bloat to such sizes thrash around in increasingly cunning and desperate ways to convince the public they owe them their income.

Beatport is nice though.

[Laughs] You have a ton of stuff going on with you, from art, to music, to buying sports cars… What kind of touring can we expect here? Where can we find out about your art? Is there anything else you have up your sleeve?

I want to find a better way of centralizing my work, as my current site doesn’t feel like it’s doing that particularly effectively. I’ve been working towards a gallery show, a second Feed Me album as well as some more Spor bits. I just finished a Spor remix for Vaults who I hugely admire — go and look them up.

Tour-wise, I’d like to do more live, but with Spor, we’re keeping it down to basics and just having as much energy as possible. Max Linguistics has been doing a great job hosting a lot of the shows, and you might see me curating some club night rooms soon too.

I love fast bikes, cars, anything with an engine, really. My dad taught motor vehicle engineering, always had motorcycles, loves aircraft — I grew up engineering orientated. Although I invest a lot of my income back into my art, buying expensive toys for myself still seems a bit hypocritical, at times, but as long as it’s keeping my mind inspired and safe from imploding I’m willing to entertain it.

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The #BeatportDecade Interview: Maya Jane Coles

#BeatportDecade is a series celebrating the past 10 years of dance music, providing insight into the artists, tracks and labels that drove the evolution of its sound and culture, and interviews with the people who made history.

In the male-dominated world of modern dance music, Maya Jane Coles has made her own way. Since bubbling up from the London underground, the aficionado of all things deep, groovy and dubbed-out has swiftly become one of the most sought-after DJs on the circuit.

While she’s a natural selector, Coles has been turning heads as a producer since her teenage years. From early experiments in hip-hop and dub, she became gradually drawn in by house, which led to her breakout releases on labels like Dogmatik Records, Hypercolour and Mobilee. Since then, her studio output has been prodigious, all the way up to releasing a debut album, Comfort, on her I/AM/ME label. As a remixer, she’s also put a seductive MJC stamp on tracks from Rudimental, Little Dragon, Bonobo, Ella Fitzgerald and more.

2014 has kept Coles always on the move. With a new EP on Mobilee and a full-length under her Nocturnal Sunshine alias approaching, she’s also found time to play Richie Hawtin’s ENTER.Ibiza night, Berlin’s Watergate, US dance massives like Electric Daisy Carnival and HARD Summer, London’s hallowed Fabric (she helmed the 75th edition of the club’s mix series) and many more stops in between.

Ahead of a whirlwind week that would take her to Amsterdam Dance Event and onto Moscow for a fly-by visit, we caught Coles in London to hear how early Trentemøller opened her ears, which track was her secret weapon of summer and why being a “good producer” is her main game.

What’s the concept behind the five exclusive tracks that you’re giving away in honor of #BeatportDecade? What makes them so special?

I only started I/AM/ME last year to release my debut album Comfort and recently my collaboration with Gaps [“In Dark, In Day“], so I guess these tracks are really just the start of something that I hope to grow. The things I release on the label aren’t going to be restricted to any specific genre. It’s just music that I really like that has its own identity.

What’s the point-of-view behind the 5-10 tracks that you’ve picked for the week (current stuff as well as other people’s music)? Why is it memorable to you?

It’s just a sound or a vibe that I have got from the track. Music is so subjective, but it has to move me in some way. It may the the progression of a track, how it affected me emotionally, or simply just a hook that I keep wanting to hear in my head and that makes me wanna dance.

What’s the theme behind your 10-track chart selection? Why do these songs stand out to you?

There isn’t necessarily a theme; they are just tracks that have stood out for me within the genre. These are tracks that will never really grow old and sometimes in dance music that can be hard to find. There are the classics that I felt had to go in there, but I also wanted to highlight a couple of tracks that I feel got missed the first time around. There are a lot of talented undiscovered producers out there if people take the time to really search.

Originally, what was the one track, artist or club night that turned you on to dance music?

I’ve always liked dance music in different forms. When I was very young I apparently kept asking my mom to buy me a jungle record I had heard at a funfair. That must have been my first subconscious step into dance music! I got more into house and techno when I started going out to clubs and parties in East London as a teenager. At the time, Trentemøller’s early productions and German labels like Poker Flat, Mobilee and BPitch were some of the first things that really turned me on to the sound.

What’s the one piece of DJ/production gear you can’t live without? The ‘desert island’ list?

Can’t I take my whole studio, please? I have a lot of bits and bobs and I need it all or otherwise I would have to build a raft and leave the island. But I guess as long as I have my laptop with Logic and all my custom sounds then that would have to do.

What is your fondest musical memory over the past 10 years?

There have been so many. Releasing my first ever EP Sick Panda on Dogmatik was a very exciting thing when it happened, then that evolved into self-releasing my debut album Comfort five years later. Being asked to do DJ Kicks mix so early on or remix Massive Attack was great too; and I’ve also been able to work with so many amazing musicians. There are also a few things coming up which I am even more excited about, so hopefully things will keep getting better!

What’s the biggest change in the scene or the sound you’ve experienced over the past decade? What has remained the same?

I think deep house 10 years ago and modern deep house are musically pretty different and there are tracks that I wouldn’t have considered were that sound that other people do and vice versa. Music is constantly evolving and I think labeling things can be a bit restrictive on creativity. Good music is just good music.

I mean, I wouldn’t consider myself just a “deep house” DJ, as I actually play a lot of bass, techno, dub, house — just whatever I like, really. It’s boring if you feel you have to stick narrowly to just one sound; it’s more fun to take the crowd and the night on more of a journey when the DJ is a little more unpredictable. I think recently there are a lot more DJs that cross over the different genres.

Looking forward, what’s your prediction for the emerging trends over the next decade? What do you see out there on the horizon?

I see more bass-driven and dubbier sounds coming back at some point and new genres will no doubt emerge. I think things also come in and out of fashion like the different divisions of house and techno. Dubstep came and went and that is reinventing itself again too. Personally, I’d like to see electronic music starting to become more open still and artists should also try to experiment with all kinds of different artists, including those from genres that aren’t even normally considered typical electronic territory.

What DJs — new and old — make you want to dance?

I managed to dance to quite a few of the girls over the summer like Heidi, Miss Kittin, Kim Ann Foxman, Magda and Ellen Allien. Boys-wise, there are lots too; I watched DJ Sneak play at a closing party in Ibiza and I definitely danced to that, as well as Dense & Pika, Catz ‘N Dogz and many more.

If you were to nominate a single young artist to be on the lookout for, who would that be and why?

One of my tracks of the summer from a new artist has to be Hodgson’s “One Spliff.” I’ve always gotten an amazing reaction from the crowd with that one. I’m definitely interested to see what else he produces in the near future.

What would you like for your musical legacy to be? If there was one thing in your musical career you’d want to be remembered for, what would that be?

There will be a lot of music that’s going to come through over the next few years that sees me producing music in many different genres and I hope what I actually get remembered for is making a different types of music and making it well. I wouldn’t want to be just remembered for one track. I’d prefer if one person remembered me for a vocal hip-hop track and another person for an instrumental techno track. Ultimately, I just want to be known as a “good producer” rather than a “good deep house producer.”

What’s next for you?

I’ve just about finished my Nocturnal Sunshine album [Coles’ dubstep alias]. I’ve been producing for other people too so more of that to follow soon, finishing my second album and my next EP is coming out on Mobilee in November. So lots more to come soon…

Ready for more Maya Jane Coles? Go to #BeatportDecade now and download some of her exclusive free tracks.

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