DJ/producer Telephones, aka Henning Severud

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words by Alex Kralikas, photography by Saskia Uppenkamp.

In a somewhat strange juxtaposition, the most popular music to come out of Norway in the last decade has mostly been heavy metal and disco. For a country known for its cold landscape and conservatism, it might be easy to perceive why a harsh style of music like metal would be popular. However, despite the former of the two fitting the mainstream stereotype of Norway better than the latter, Norwegian dance music is doing big things right now.

Any fan of electronic music can’t have missed the wave of Norwegian house and disco producers taking the world by storm. Their music is anything but cold and conservative – it’s layered, eclectic and spacey. Just listen to tracks by artists like Prins Thomas, Lindstrøm, Todd Terje and Skatebård. Prins Thomas’ latest album, Prins Thomas 4, is a really interesting, experimental disco album and Todd Terje’s first full-length album It’s Album Time, released earlier in 2014, is one of dance music’s biggest hits of the year.

We wanted to further explore this concept of eclectic Norwegian dance music and what better way to do that than to speak with a Norwegian DJ/producer. Henning Severud, aka Telephones, is a Berlin based DJ-slash-producer who is talented and creative in his own production style. He met with us to discuss personal influences and the electronic music scene in Norway, including the musical history that has helped shaped the scene that it is today. The former journalist has had a huge wave of success in 2013-14, releasing original tracks on Gerd Janson’s Running Back Records and Berlin record label Love On The Rocks, as well as touring Europe and playing regular gigs in Berlin.

DJ/producer Telephones, aka Henning Severud

“I’m kind of suspicious about DJs that don’t like to dance. I think if you want to make people dance you have to want to dance yourself.”

WT: You describe the genre of your music on your Facebook page as “disco-proto-balearic-house-tropical-technokraut-multiwave-confusion”. How do you come up with this stuff?

T: A lot of that stuff isn’t really even genres. It’s just a combination of different things. If I only wrote disco or house, it would be really open and could be interpreted by people as minimal house or as if I’m making disco with horns. So I just wanted to be more specific and not just use one term which is kind of limiting. I’m inspired by a lot of different music.

WT: What kind of music are you currently inspired by?

T: I like a lot of Balearic music, old techno, old Chicago house, and Italo-Disco. I also like Krautrock. But, I kinda wrote that about my music style partially for fun.

WT: Norway has a pretty cold climate, I hear, although I’ve never been there. Where does the inspiration to make Balearic and tropical sounds come from?

T: I guess it’s kind of a type of dreaming or escapism. Music is one of the most powerful forms of imaginative stimuli we have and it’s a good way of escaping wherever we are or whatever we’re doing. I dream myself away to different places.

WT: Is there a good music scene in the town that you are from?

T: I’m from Bergen which has a really rich music scene. It’s not really so cold there but it’s always raining. There are only around 260,000 people there and considering there’s a small population people often ask why the music scene is so rich there. I think it’s because the weather is so bad and there isn’t really anything to do. People just have to sit inside and make up their own extracurricular activities.

WT: It’s hard not to mention Todd Terje, Prins Thomas, Lindstrom, etc, when talking to a Norwegian electronic music producer. Can you say something about the roots of the Norwegian disco sound for those that don’t know much about it?

T: There is a lot of different music from Norway as well but within that house/disco/electronic stuff there are a lot of influences from original disco, house and Italo-Disco – music from the 70s and 80s, and tropical stuff. It’s been like that for a while though.

I had my first proper gig in Bergen 2001, and around that time there were a lot of British DJs coming to Norway like Idjut Boys, Maurice Fulton and artists from Nuphonic Records. The Bergen-godfathers Bjørn Torske and Erot had a lot of international connections – early nu-disco artists before nu-disco became the more typical cliché genre it grew into today. Nowadays if you say you make nu-disco, people already have a clear idea how that sounds – like big, powerful and melodic. I’m a little bored with that style to be honest.

I personally like all of the early music from all of the original genres which today are concrete genres with very defined sounds. I like all of the early, or proto sounds from these genres when people were still experimenting.

WT: Do you come from a musical family?

T: Not really. I mean when I was 2 or 3 years old I was listening to whatever music my parents were into, ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Dire Straits. My mother even had some Black Sabbath records. But my mother is an artist and my father is a writer so I guess that has influenced me a bit. I started playing guitar when I was 7 and was into heavy metal and thrash metal.

WT: Metal is popular in Norway, isn’t it?

T: Yeah definitely. I was into Iron Maiden, Slayer and Sepultura. I also got into punk music, mostly through skateboarding.

WT: You often tour with Massimilliano Pagliara who is really popular around Berlin and just released an album on Frankfurt label Live At Robert Johnson. Do you guys make a good team when you play at the same parties?

T: Yeah I think so but we’re also different in terms of playing. We have our mutual ground, I think. We both enjoy a lot of old stuff. Normally when I DJ I play 70% old stuff and 30% new stuff. Whereas Massimilliano plays more new stuff. The touring thing was because I featured on his album. He collaborated with a lot of people and I was one of them so we did gigs together.

WT: You also played at the infamous Panorama Bar recently. What’s it like to DJ there?

T: Really nice! I think I didn’t have that kind of feeling for a very long time. Soon I will have been DJing for 14-15 years, and normally I get some butterflies in the stomach before every gig but I don’t think I’ve had that kind of feeling for more than 10 years.

I think it’s because it’s an intimidating venue to walk into and start playing. It took the first hour to get into it but the last two hours were really fun.  It was my birthday the next day and I had some friends in town so it was probably one of the most fun gigs I’ve had. Also, it was a good feeling afterwards when I finished the set and six strangers covered in sweat came up to me to hug me.

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“It’s a good feeling to see hundred people dancing to something that might have taken one year all alone in a ten square meter room to produce.”

WT: I once read a post from a DJ who was thinking of quitting but then was re-inspired to continue his career after playing there.

T: I’ve never been short on inspiration to keep going, but when there’s 200 people there and you’re communicating with them and you get a relationship with the crowd, when it’s going back and forth between you and them, it’s a very good feeling.

I was there one or two months before and I can’t remember who was playing, but the DJ was playing one of my tracks that I just released. It’s a good feeling to see 100 people dancing to something that might have taken 1 year all alone in a 10 square meter room to produce. It’s a really good feeling to see that it works.

WT: It sounds rewarding.

T: Yeah. There’s always the discussion, does it feel good in an egotistical way because you’re doing it? Or does it feel good because you’re making other people happy? I think the best feeling is when you can see that you’re making other people happy.

WT: You’ve got a very impressive moustache! Can you tell us the story behind it?

T: That’s a funny story. I think it’s been there now for 12 years and I only took it away for two times during those 12 years and only for 2-3 months in total.

It started as a joke in Norway in 2001-2003, I was going to university then with 2-3 of my best friends. We moved to Trondheim, which is a city quite far North in Norway.The cliché there is that all the guys there wear leather vests and have a moustache. We all moved up there and when we were going home to Bergen for Christmas every one was supposed to come back with their Trønder bart (Trondheim moustache).

Everyone chickened out but me, so I had this pathetic patch of fur and I just kept it. Anyway, so it stayed and now I feel really naked without it.

WT: Nice! If there’s some up-and-coming disco and house DJ/producers out there reading this, what advice would you give them about building a successful career in your field?

T: DJ vs producing is like two different worlds. If you’re sitting alone and making music in the studio, it’s different to playing out and being able to read a crowd. But my advice would be, if it’s only DJing, then people who aspire to do this should be going out and listening to different DJs. I’m also kind of suspicious about DJs that don’t like to dance. I think if you want to make people dance you have to want to dance yourself. It’s about passion as well, if you have that passion you’ll spend all your money and time trying to find the right music to go out and play to people.

At the same time, it’s a little bit the same with producing. People that are doing it well are putting a lot of time and energy and money into it. It’s about picking the right machines and synthesizers, or plugins for that matter, to put the right ingredient on your palette. It sounds cliche but it’s like for painting a picture you need different colors. For producing you need different aesthetics and frequencies for different parts of your song. I picked all of the things in my studio to build the palette to make the picture. For me it’s a really good way to make my own sound.

WT: To finish off, who are your favorite Norwegian producers, past or present?

T: There’s a lot to pick from. Bjørn Torske and Erot have been my long-time musical heroes. Prins Thomas has also been a steady DJ favorite during the years. On the more current tip I would say DJ Sotofett and DJ Fett Burger from the Sex Tags Mania crew are favorites, as well as the unmistakable style of Skatebård. Looking through the years there’s a lot of great sporadic tracks too. I collected some of my all-time Norwegian favorites and stuff that’s frequented my DJ-bag.
WITNESS THIS readers, you can check out the said playlist in the link below!

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Follow Telephones through his socials on Soundcloud | Facebook | Resident Advisor.
Hayley and Samuel Kerridge, the minds behind CONTORT events.

Contort Atonal underground party with lightshow.by Kyla Callista. Photos courtesy of Sheena Veerapen (Mindpirates) & Camille Blake (Contort@Atonal).

Hayley W. Kerridge and Samuel Kerridge both are the minds behind CONTORT event in Berlin, which is a day time party that focuses more on the experimentation of music and sound, serving as a platform for experimental and electronic artists and as a space where all the “let’s get lost” people hang out. Hayley is also a member of the Boiler Room family in Berlin. As I personally got to know her from Boiler Room, she’s really lovely and totally fun to be around with. So, I jumped to her and threw up some questions.

WT: I’d love to just go back a little bit and understand about what the concept is, and how it all came together?

HWK: The idea stemmed from a desire to explore music outside of the usual club environment and seek out something that wasn’t so readily available in Berlin. For example, in the UK after-parties are quite common practice as all the clubs close relatively early, in comparison to Berlin of course, and they have a different atmosphere to night time events. So we wanted to create something with an after-hours feel, somewhere that you could come into off the street or directly from the club.

As you mentioned, musically CONTORT is about experimenting with sound. Our goal initially was to give upcoming experimental artists a platform as well as give more “well known” artists free reign to play what ever they felt like, something that they don’t usually get to play. The music itself was more often than not teetering into the darker side of electronic music. We’ve had techno artists play a jungle set, house artists play experimental techno sets and so on.
It’s also pretty irregular so you have to keep your ears peeled to find out when they’re happening.

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“This is not ‘just another’ techno party.
We want to keep people on their toes.”
– H.W.K.

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WT: How long has it been running and who are some of the people that have come down and played?

HWK: We began the project in early 2012 at the Mindpirates venue, which is a great location next to the river spree. After a year of hosting events there we had to look for a new location which was actually pretty heartbreaking as we had made our CONTORT nest. There were a couple of hairy instances when so many people turned up we were just too overcrowded, so after much deliberation we thought it would be best to expand and find a larger location. At this point I should probably mention that we’re a nonprofit event, we have a jar on the bar system, meaning people could give a donation which is then later divided equally between the artists playing. So moving to a larger venue wasn’t money orientated, it was solely about the safety and comfort of others.

WT: What’s it like for you to work in this industry and how did you get started?

HWK: I thoroughly enjoy working in the music industry, not many people are able to combine their passion with their work so in that respect I feel quite fortunate.

I actually started out organising events in Manchester back in 2009 (again with Samuel) which in all honesty weren’t quite as successful as we might have liked, I mean they didn’t totally suck but it wasn’t the packed out party we had initially envisioned, but it was a starting point. In 2011 I then began working for a London based PR company and not long after spotted a Facebook post on the Boiler Room page for a Berlin based intern. I wasn’t living in Germany but decided to take a chance. I applied, and got the job.

Turns out the position was a real mixed bag, working with BR host Michail on events such as Leisure System, Not Equal and of course Boiler Room. It was great because they were all rather different events and I got first hand experience. After the internship finished I stayed with the Boiler Room team and at the same time took on a separate role as a music publicist working on an album, events, and artist promotion. Most recently I’ve worked with artists such as Jeff Mills, Adam X, Cristian Vogel, and on events like Berlin Atonal & Bloc.

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WT: Tell us when is the next CONTORT? So we know when we need to contort ourselves.

HWK: The next Contort is on November 23rd. It’s actually the first CONTORT that I’ll be playing, which is rather nerve-racking.

WT: Anything exciting in the pipeline?

HWK: There is something very exciting brewing but I can’t actually give too much away right now but keep your ear to the ground for CONTORT news in the next couple of months.

WT: Cheers for your time K, any final shout outs or words?

HWK: I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has, does and hopefully will support Contort.


Witness the next CONTORT #11 event live in Berlin with this line-up:

Burma Camp (The KVB) LIVE
+ special guest TBA

Honzo /w. Fax LIVE A/V
Moopie (Jealous God)
Shaddah Tuum DJ/LIVE
Subkutan
Mogano /w. Fax LIVE AV
Hayley Kerridge

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CONTORT underground music event

Mornings In Shoreditch – A WITNESS THIS Guestmix album cover

“This set was inspired by my time in England, and the afterhours we had there. That music bangin’ in your head for another two days… Places close down around 2 a.m. in England, and while putting together this set I was reminiscing of the feelings I had back in those nights. We were just walking around London, totally chilled out. It was a great time.

So MORNINGS IN SHOREDITCH is dedicated to all those peeps who are searching for more after a really good gig before the Monday comes. Enjoy.”

TRUANT for WITNESS THIS, November 2014


Cover artwork with friendly courtesy of Tilman Zitzmann.

Tracklist:
1) Dense & Pika | Wandering Hands (Original Mix) | Hotflush Recordings
2) Anton Pieete | I Hold From You (Original Mix) | Rejected
3) Aerea Negrot | All I Wanna Do (Efdemin Remix) | Bpitch Control
4) Makam | Family Reunion (Delano Smith Reconstructed Remix) | Sushitech (Purple)
5) Konstantin Sibold | Nils (Original Mix) | Snork Enterprises
6) Trus’me | I Want You (Alan Fitzpatrick Remix) | Prime Numbers
7) Agoria | Under The River (YokoO’s Above The Clouds Live Edit) | Web Release on WITNESS THIS

DJ Patryk Truant Szulc from Warsaw, Poland.

Connect with TRUANT through Facebook | Resident Advisor | Soundcloud | Mixcloud | Booking Agency.

And make sure to check out our previous Guest Mix with Stalvart John HERE.

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Words by Alex KralikasPhotos by Saskia Uppenkamp


Do your dreams ever have a soundtrack? I know mine usually don’t. But what if they did? What kind of music would be playing? I guess it depends on the type of dream and of course your own personal music taste. But to me, it’s still easy to imagine deep or minimal house music playing, with its soft harmonies and elevating ease; it already conjures up different emotions while awake, including nostalgia and melancholy. Dancing to really good music can also give this feeling of dreaming. You can lose yourself during a great set at a club or a festival, and your mind gets transported to another place or time, or to nowhere at all except right where you are but still making you feel like you are dreaming and not even awake.

YokoO, real name Julien Beltzung, has been dedicating his career as a DJ/producer to creating and playing deep and melancholic sounds, and he’s been getting attention from the best labels within that field. After a handful of releases on world famous labels, including Moodmusic, Plastic City and Kollektiv Turmstrasse’s Musik Gewinnt Freunde, he’s about to release an EP on All Day I Dream, the label spearheaded by house pioneers Lee Burridge and Matthew Dekay.

YokoO is a cool cat – he’s happy and super easy going. When we met him for this shoot and interview the sun was shining on a brisk Berlin autumn’s day and he strolled up to meet us relaxed and smiling. His smile and laugh are contagious and he never stopped being laidback while we were in his presence. During the shoot we cracked a joke about using Photoshop to touch up the pics, should there be a blemish, but he simply responded saying, “I don’t need that, I am who I am.”

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The native Frenchman, turned Aussie, turned Berliner agrees that great house music can have a connection with the feeling of dreaming. “Through its warmth and intricate melodies, house music stimulates the subconscious and eventually leads to deep introspective feelings and thinking” he says. “It’s quite a strange thing to say and may be difficult for some to visualize but if you could make the warm hazy feel of a dream a sound, this is pretty much what it would be like”.

It’s no wonder YokoO has been invited to release music on All Day I Dream, with their label described as “an exploration of beautiful, gorgeous, & melancholic shades of house and techno”. Both YokoO’s production style and his attitude make a seemingly perfect match for the label fronted by house visionary, and Burning Man regular, Lee Burridge. Just listen to YokoO’s releases or to one of his sets live or on his SoundCloud and you can hear the connection between the two.

In collaboration with WITNESS THIS YokoO is releasing an exclusive new track today – an edit of fellow Frenchman, and house legend, Agoria. Download the track for free and read more from our meeting with YokoO below.

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“Our experience as human beings is far too short and wonderful to waste time surrendering to negative energies. I am learning how to embrace whatever happens and appreciate the good out of all situations. In the larger scheme of things, every experience is part of the journey and should be considered with objectivity.”

WT: What have you been up to lately?

Y: So much, yet so little! After traveling most of last year and relocating here to Berlin at the end of April, I have been focusing on getting my flow back in the studio, settling in, practising yoga, as well as playing a few gigs around the place. I’ve also been getting my bearings right and preparing for the year to come.

WT: How are you enjoying being now based in Berlin?

Y: As much as I miss Sydney – the Australian family I have built there over the past 9 years and the unbeatable lifestyle the East Coast offers, I am very grateful for living in such an inspiring, open minded and cheap cultural hub. Several of my friends from around the world have been relocating here, too, not that I spend much time being social these days, but that surely helps making me feel like home. I have no doubt I’ll be staying here for many years.

WT: Can you explain to us the meaning behind your name YokoO?

Y: YokoO (pronounced Yoko) has been my nickname since I was a teen. My friends named me after a cartoon character Yoplait had created to promote their brand. We looked alike, hence why the name stuck.

WT: I like your track ‘Spiritual’. Are you a spiritual person?

Y: I like to think so. I am not religious though. I do not believe in gods, rather in physics, the knowledge of nature that involves the study of matter and its motion through space and time, along with related concepts such as energy and force.

WT: What are your spiritual routines?

Y: Over the last year, I have been practicing meditation and yoga for a minimum of 1 to 2 hours almost every day, questioning everything, reaching towards a higher state of consciousness. It seems the more you learn, the more you realize the quest to knowledge has no end.
I am currently very interested in and dedicated to getting a better grasp of my brain capacities by being as healthy and gentle to myself as possible and restraining the consumption of goods which in term limit my spiritual growth.

WT: Is there a key moment in your life which made you become a spiritual person?

Y: I’ll always remember reading the Alchemist when I was around 15. That book triggered some feelings that changed my outlook on life forever. Even 14 years later, it keeps on delivering new messages every time I read it. Also, studying philosophy in high school initiated the expansion of my consciousness and helped me connect to the energy surrounding me.

WT: How do you do approach hard times in life?

Y: Meditation has proven to be really effective. Our experience as human beings is far too short and wonderful to waste time surrendering to negative energies. I am learning how to embrace whatever happens and appreciate the good out of all situations. In the larger scheme of things, every experience is part of the journey and should be considered with objectivity.

WT: ’Amazonia’ is definitely a pretty melancholic track and it takes me far away, especially giving me the feeling of being in a rainforest, do you feel a connection to nature?

Y: I am glad you feel that way; that was the idea when I wrote it. I do feel a connection to nature and I find it would be strange not to. Aren’t all living beings, including humans, and their creations, the extensions of nature itself?

WT: You recently played alongside Lee Burridge and the ‘All Day I Dream’ crew at their party in Brooklyn. How did you team up with the crew at All Day I Dream and get on the bill for their parties?

 Y: What an outstanding event that was! I feel really blessed and honored to play with Lee, Matt and the other artists who are part of the All Day I Dream family. Matthew originally noticed me in the summer of 2012 after he heard some of my music at a house party. We’ve been getting to know each other since then, and have become friends. In September 2013, he invited me to play at the launch of his baby label Für Die Liebe at Oval Space in London. Following the success of the party, he introduced me to Lee as someone who should be part of All Day I Dream. It was very natural for Lee and I to connect, and Matthew knew this.

WT: In your professional field, what can a young DJ learn from a guy like Lee Burridge? What is it that separates the good DJs/producers from the excellent in your opinion?

Y: Not only is Lee an amazing DJ but also an incredible role model for those that want long-term professional careers as an underground artist.
There are many factors that differentiate excellent DJs/producers from the rest. Talent, above all else, comes first. But what is talent without true passion, commitment, love, focus, dedication, self-confidence, belief, humility, and respect for others?

WT: Your productions fit into the style of dreamy house music; can you explain to us what the connection is between house music and dreaming?

Y: There is no explicit connection between house music and dreaming, although I think great house music inspires dreaming and dreams encourage creating amazing house music. I would say “dreamy house” inspires one to feel slightly deeper than other types of house; its main purpose being to evoke specific harmony related emotions within the listeners.

WT: What is your plan for the rest of the year and for 2015?

Y: Most of all, I’d like to be able to levitate, stop time, and master teleportation.
Besides that, I am going to keep on working in the studio as much as possible, since I’ve got my flow happening. I’ll be traveling to North America at the end of October, and Central-South America around Xmas/NY through until the end of January. After that, I will fly to Australia for a month-long tour, stopover in Bali, and then head back to Berlin to make music in the studio again. All super exciting stuff really!


Check YokoO’s website | facebook | Soundcloud and the
All Day I Dream project: facebook | Soundcloud

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“The inspiration behind this set originally came to me after seeing the beautiful illustration of Amaryllis by Tori Wheeler, which also happens to be the same design I used as the artwork for the set. In this set, I am trying to explain the blooming process of a flower through music. Each bud goes through a very complicated transformation during the blooming process. Flowers are something which I have always considered to be magical, and it has never failed to amuse me.

Science of Blooming will feature tracks from Acid Pauli, Mooryc, Apparat, Aphex Twin, Jon Hopkins, Douglas Greed, Kadebostan, Nu & Christopher Schwarzwälder, No Accident In Paradise, Hidenobu Ito, Thom Yorke, Mind Against, Moderat, Max Cooper, Dirty Doering, and many more.

Hope you too will enjoy the magical evolution of a bud to an astonishing flower.”

Stalvart John for WITNESS THIS, October 2014

>> YOUR WITNESS THIS GARDENER SAYS… >> Use headphones to experience music blooming inside your head.


Indian-born Stalvart John found his home in electronic music about a decade ago.
He started out playing for pirate radio stations based in the UK, and became resident DJ of Club 1100, Ramada Resorts, playing leading venues like Ava Lounge Dream Hotel Cochin, Lagoon Le Meridien Kochi, V Bar Hilton Garden Inn Trivandrum, and Pebble – The Jungle Lounge Bangalore.

Stalvart’s latest podcast goes by the name “In A Mind Place“. Its concept is not bound by the restrictions of genres. Instead, Stalvart’s idea is to take his listeners on an hour-long journey of sounds. You can listen to it on Tenzi FM every second Saturday of the month.
Other projects include ‘Civilization Of Sounds’ through which he tries to promote home-grown talents, and ‘Odyssey’ which curates pure chill-out, lounge, and experimental electronica sounds.

Connect with Stalvart on Facebook | Resident Advisor | Soundcloud | Mixcloud | Twitter.

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Sebastian Porter, one of our favorite Berlin electronic music DJ affiliates has released his latest piece on Yellow Tail Records today.

The four track EP contains a David Keno remix, and collaborations with Jazzil, cellist Thiemo Niggemann, and Florian Finis on the guitar.

The result is very sexy, and will make you want to get that sweet butt of yours bouncin in no time. Tune in, and read what Sebastian had to tell WITNESS THIS about the inspiration for these tracks.

FABELHAFTE WELT DER ANOMALIE was one of those tracks that grew with time. When Thiemo visited to play a Cello part for another release we recorded some more takes of which I used some in the ‘Anomalie’. This track showcases my production style of the past year quite well, because like many other of my tracks it tells a story that only unfolds when listening to the complete piece. I feel that if you really let yourself fall into it it embraces you, you can bathe in it, and it creates sexiness.

DIRTY DOLORES is more focused and was developed conceptually as an add-on track for the EP. I wanted to do something more powerful again after I had released many melodic and gentle tracks before. The guitar recording with Florian Finis fit really great, and comes across really sexy in my opinion, especially in the break. For this one I always see bodies moving erotically on the dance floor before my inner eye.

6 A.M. was developed in collaboration with Jazzil, very ‘tooly’ and weird, which is usually not my fingerprint but I believe it’s good to show some diversity and so it made a great B-side. I already released some more poppy things. I like showcasing a certain artistic broadness instead of producing the same stuff over and over while still keeping a red line.

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by Alex Kralikas

Sean Pineiro just recently released his debut album, Saved Once Twice, on Cologne-based record label Ki Records. Sean’s music is down-tempo, sample-based electronic music, which Ki Records praised for its complexity. In fact, it’s the complexity of Sean’s music that eventually led Ki Records to release his debut album.

Saved Once Twice is a layered, moody catalogue of tracks with a vast palette of sounds, ranging in harmonies and piano chords, with lush vocals and synths. The album fits nicely on Ki Records, who have an array of sophisticated releases from artists like Christian Löffler, Daisuke Tanabe and Arp Aubert.


Witness This caught up with Sean recently to talk about the release of his debut album and the musical path he went on to produce one body of work while switching between New York, Barcelona and Berlin. Sean talks candidly about his journey, from discovering J Dilla and Flying Lotus inspired beat music, to changing his whole production style when he discovered sampling to being stirred by ambient and experimental electronic sounds. Sean has a vast musical and production knowledge, but also has vision for exploration of new sounds and is inspired by the subconscious, like dreams and falling asleep to music.

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“I thought the way to make electronic music was just through synthesizers, or drum machines, but when I started sampling it really changed everything for me. Sometimes I sample up to 20 different artists on one track.”

WT: When did you start making electronic music?

SP: I was twenty-one years old or so when I started making electronic music. I also studied music composition at CCNY New York.

WT: Were you making music before you went to CCNY?

SP: Yeah I have been playing piano my whole life. Actually, originally I wanted to be a Jazz pianist.

WT: Does your musical education influence your production style?

SP: Totally. Most of my songs are super structured. There’s chord progressions, bridges, there’s an A part and B part – they are really written out pieces. The songs in the album are mostly structured in the way a band would structure a song – there’s a bass line, there’s harmonies and there’s a melody.

WT: When did you start sampling? Were you always good at that?

SP: Actually, when I first started making electronic music I wasn’t using any samples at all. I was just using soft synths. I thought the way to make electronic music was just through synthesizers, or drum machines, but when I started sampling it really changed everything for me. Sometimes I sample up to 20 different artists on one track.

WT: Wow. You would have to have a very strong musical ear to be able to hear all of those samples.

SP: You know, to me it’s like my own little inside joke. When I listen to my own tracks I’m hearing lots of different sounds. It could be a simple sound like someone knocking on a piece of wood, but I actually know it’s a John Cage sample. I’m sampling so many different things – from old TV commercials to movies. One thing I sampled, for example, is a promotional radio spot from the 1960s or 1970s where they are selling a Vocoder.

WT: Ki Records said that the complexity of your work is what made them decide to release your debut album. How do you come around with a track?

SP: Just totally messing around. It’s always these mistakes that somehow match up. I think there’s a lot of stuff you don’t hear in the track as well, I mean you hear a lot of samples but actually behind those samples there’s chords that I’m playing on synthesizers and that’s kind of like the structure. So if a sample doesn’t fit into that sort of harmony, then it’s not going to work. Or it could be vice-versa. I may really like a sample, and then shape a harmony around that. The second I have that main sample or that main harmony that I’m working with, the skeleton of the track is pretty much in place. But like I said, towards the end of the album, I wasn’t really thinking like that so much.

WT: Do you also sample real life sounds?

There’s a few times I’ve picked up a hand held recorder and sampled stuff, but it’s not my favourite thing to do. I prefer taking samples from somewhere else, and reformatting them myself. For example, I found a guy on Soundcloud who does a lot of field recordings.

WT: What software do you use?

SP: Ableton, only Ableton – and lots of plug-ins.

WT: I remember checking out your music back when you went under the name ‘Muramic’ in 2012 and your early track ‘Green Copy’ really stood out to me as chill out music. Would you say the same for the whole record?

SP: Yeah for the most part that’s how I would describe the whole album – headphone or chill out music.

WT: Were you going for that particular vibe when you starting making Saved Once Twice?

SP: I wasn’t actually consciously making an album or aware that I was going to make an album until there was about 4-5 tracks done. But after I started talking to Ki records about putting out an album with them I started working on it nonstop.
I wasn’t thinking too much about what I wanted it to sound like. Meaning, I wasn’t thinking I need to have ten super heavy tracks and two ambient tracks and two melodic tracks, I just wanted to make sure it had an album feel.

WT: I can hear an influence from Mount Kimbie, were they an inspiration to you?

SP: Yeah Mount Kimbie and also James Blake were huge influences. When I first started making this kind of music I was actually listening to a lot of Flying Lotus, and my earlier stuff really fits into the “beat music” genre. Releases like early Flying Lotus and Samiyam. At the beginning I just wanted to make super swung Hip-Hop instrumental music and I ended up making a bunch of tracks in this style. I think you can especially hear that with ‘Reaper’, that’s the earliest track on the album.

WT: So the album was made over a long time, were you listening to different music at the end of the production of the album to the start?

SP: When I was finishing the album, I was going to a lot of experimental music gigs here in Berlin. I can’t really pinpoint exactly the artists I was listening to after I started talking to Ki records, but I was into more ambient music. Most of these gigs were either instrumental improvisational music or noise or drone music. Where some of my earlier tracks had more of a solid beat, the beat kinda got lost as the album progressed.

WT: Has the club scene here in Berlin helped shape your production style?

SP: The club scene here in Berlin hasn’t specifically influenced the tracks in this album. The only thing I would say I took inspiration from in Berlin is the experimental scene here. Places like Ausland and the venue West Germany. For example, the track ‘Medallion’ is more ambient, and ‘Freylock’ came about when I wasn’t thinking about anything specific, I was just messing around.

WT: So your style has changed over time. Will you continue to produce the same style of music as in Saved Once Twice for future releases?

SP: Right now, since I finished the album, I’ve been making totally different music. However, I’m not ready to start talking about what it sounds like just yet. I might not want to go ahead with it, but yeah, it’s totally different to the music on the album. What I can say though is that it’s not dance music; it’s more closely associated with experimental electronic music.

WT: Cool. How’d you get signed with Ki Records?

SP: Sending demos. I was sending a lot of demos. I was working in a hotel at the time; I didn’t have time to make music so what I did every day before work was send demos. At the same time I had a lot of offers from other record labels. There’s a lot of good music out there, and a lot of shitty music, and a lot of the time you’ve got a lot of bad music going to good record labels and good music going to really small record labels that can’t really push the artists forward. I’m not saying I’m more, or less deserving of a release on Ki records, but my goal was to get the best record label that I possibly could.

WT: Are you happy about releasing on Ki?

SP: Yeah. I’m happy I went with Ki for many reasons. One of them being that it’s not just a “beat music” record label. I was really happy to have my music released on a label that has a wider scope. The record label spans over different genres with their releases, so that means there’s a more diverse audience it reaches out to. I consider myself quite lucky to get their attention.

WT: Why did you decide to send your demo to Ki?

SP: The reason I sent the demo to Ki Records was because of Daisuke Tanabe. He played at a venue here in Berlin called Gretchen, with Kidkanevil, this was over a year ago, a few weeks before the gig I saw an interview of his on Youtube where he mentioned Ki Records.

WT: That’s cool because he ended up doing a remix of your track ‘Grounds’. How’d that come about? Are you a fan of the remix?

SP: Yeah, that was really easy. I just told Paul (the head of Ki Records) that I really wanted a remix by Daisuke, and he was like, yeah no problem. And yeah, I love the remix he did, it’s great.

WT: Will you be doing a tour of the album?

SP: Right now I’m working on a live set, but I really don’t know what it’s going to end up sounding like. I’m not trying to jump ahead of myself. I’d like to have a live set with an hour’s worth of material that’s made up of a combination of tracks off the album and new stuff, like 80% new stuff and 20% of the music I’ve already released.

WT: If you could tell people how to view your record, what would you say to them?

SP: I really don’t care; I think thinking like that would drive someone crazy. Of course I want people to enjoy it, but I don’t want people to see it the way I see it. I want them to just have their own natural response to it, whether they like it or not.


Get your full copy of ‘Saved Once Twice’ through iTunes

or
Amazon U.S. | UK | Germany

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Mario Baumspringer and Diego Martinson are Casi Baile which is Spanish for ‘Almost Dance’.

The duo met in Barcelona, both obsessed with electronic music, and everytime they would meet they spent their time showing one another the latest tunes they had discovered. This accelerated more and more over the years, and became a DJ/blog project pushing the boundaries far beyond electronic music.

On their blog Mario and Diego publish DJ sets that are of an extraordinary intelligence, and that demonstrate a deep, true love and understanding for music. In particular, their sets blend musical notes from all genres and decades, going back as far as the 1960ies – a task that is really hard to accomplish without being awkward in the result. However, what these guys are doing is so seamless and tasteful that it took me by surprise.

Today, we invite you to let Mario and Diego take you on a musical journey spanning over the decades from 1970 to the year 2014.
Roger Waters meets David August? No problem, let Casi Baile teach you how to do it.

Fresh from Barcelona, witness ‘ALCHEMY’ – a WITNESS THIS guest mix. Download available.

“In the history of science, alchemy is an ancient proto-scientific and philosophical discipline combining elements of chemistry, metallurgy, physics, medicine, astrology, semiotics, mysticism, spiritualism, and art. It is said that the alchemists often had to cover their deficiencies using experimentation, traditions and many speculations to get deeper in their art. We invite you to listen to this set and others on our page and interpret this text as you please.”
– Casi Baile


Casi Baile Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Tracklist:
Linda Perhacs – Spoken Intro To Leonard Rosenman | Kapp Records | 1970
Robert Ashley – The Park | Lovely Music, Ltd. | 1978
Roger Waters – 4.41 AM (Sexual Revolution) | Columbia | 1984
Amon Duul II – Kismet (Pilooski Edit) | Dark & Lovely | 2007
La Femme – Le Blues De Françoise | Born Bad Records | 2013
Los Guacharacos de Colombia – El Cafetero (El Búho Remix) | 2014
Lee Dorsay – Ocapella | Polydor | 1970
Chet Baker – Almost Blue | Novus | 1989
David Terranova – The Way You Fake It Temp | 2013
Deniz Kurtel & The Marcy All-Stars – Wake Me Up | Wolf + Lamb Music | 2012
David August – Watch Your Step | Diynamic Music | 2013
Whodini ‎- Five Minutes Of Funk | Jive | 1984
Sabo feat. Nadastrom & Nidia Gongora – Timbiqui Hasta DC | 2012
Willie Wright – Right On For Darkness | Hotel Records | 1977
The Analog Roland Orchestra – Diverse | Pastamusik | 2009
ORQUESTA TROPICAl de Chicago – El Quinto Y La Conga
Boot & Tax – Acido | Optimo Trax | 2013
TBD – I Don’t Know | 2009
Tammy Wynette | Ode To Billy Joe | Epic | 1979

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Slower Expectations doesn’t lower expectations by any means. Christoph Woerner, responsible for one of my favorite sets of the year has just released a follow up set that is a little more down-tempo yet doesn’t lack detail and keeps you engaged all the way through.

I asked Christoph where the inspiration for his sets comes from, what would he say his influences are and where he seeks out his music.

“I try to play friends, artists that I know, and where I can feel the person when I listen to their music.”

One of the countless reasons that I connect with this culture is the fact that influence and inspiration can pass so easily and un-selfishly through hands and ears to friends and beyond. The ability to reach across the ocean and impact people through these curated pieces of music allows me to fall deeper in love with this genre.

Listen to more from Christoph on his Soundcloud and stalk him until you can go see him live when he plays next.

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This is the set of the year so far for me. Live from the Boiler Room Berlin, David August takes us on a journey through deep space. We start with a dreamy building soundscape that quickly develops into a jaw-dropping series of mixes. He plays the synth live, while mixing in everything from a segregation RFK speech on vinyl, to some of the funkiest move-your-fucking-body beats to come across Soundcloud.

Please take the time to watch the set below, as well as listen to it on Soundcloud.

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IMG_6763Images courtesy of Philipp Vogt and Shelley Pellegrin.


The air is filled with a blend of cigarette smoke and incense as I step into the studio rooms of
Marc-Alan Gray that are residing within the public-bath-turned-night-club halls of STATTBAD in Berlin Wedding.

The place is a known playground for artists, and it shows. Peaches’ Berlin studio is set up next door, and the entourage is coming and going, partly sharing the creative space with my host, rooms piled up with what bears witness to creative minds on the loose, paintings, sketches, art-in-the-making.

“It’s a lot of who you know.” Marc-Alan lights up a cigarette. We are chatting about success in the creative field. Marc-Alan knows the music business, that much is for sure. “A solid ten years” in the industry as a DJ/producer and you can tell, even as the layman that I am. His age, however, remains a mystery to me (it has become kind of a private joke between us that I keep trying to find out while Marc-Alan keeps telling me to mind my manners).

“I think two kind of people make it in the creative business. One would be guys who put out that immense body of work. That’s not me, you know, I am not shitting out music. And then you have the kind of person who’s just really good, and maybe they are hiding, unknown, and they do like a couple of really good things, and then somebody who understands talent is like ‘holy shit this is pretty good stuff, this needs to have a home’. Then you have your whole life to make your first album, and your first hit, and you have another year to make your second album.”

House music is pumping on the stereo as I squeeze my lemon slice into the ice-cold Corona Marc-Alan asked me to bring.

I am wondering out loud what kind of learnings a DJ veteran would share with people working in the creative fields. “In the music business I would say do as much work as you can and don’t get caught up in the small details. Put the stuff out, get it out. You are free, go, little child of mine. Sometimes you think ‘oh I want to save this’, or ‘I want to sit on this’, and I think that’s the biggest mistake. So put a little work out, defining who you are and what you are doing, and then… somebody relates to that and they latch onto it, and then, you know, you have a catalogue. How many writers… how many painters have had a hundred paintings before they ever had a show.”

On his screen Marc-Alan shows me a folder with songs he produced. Some names catch my eye as I read them. Wamdue Project’s Chris Brann is a close friend and collaborator. Marshall Jefferson. “One of the godfathers of Chicago house”, I am being instructed when my face shows an obvious lack of musical wisdom. Robert Owens, Paddy Boom from the Scissor Sisters, and, ummh, you kidding me – Andy Rourke from The Smiths? “He’s done vocals and played bass on three or four of my records.”
Not bad, buddy. Not bad at all.

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I wonder how all these songs came together. “Kind of a Miles Davis approach. I wish I was but I am not of the mental programming to go to the studio with five songs completely written from front to back. I don’t work that way. So my inspiration is random, that’s a bit of ‘the moment’ and a bit of ‘in my mood’.”

Marc-Alan’s productions are refreshingly different from what you hear on most Berlin dancefloors these days. “It’s indie dance. That’s how Americans who love to categorize music with a label would call it. Somewhere between the XX and… whatever.” His time in New York seems to resonate intense memories, and you can tell his work was inspired by the city that never sleeps. “I kinda got back into indie again, rock was having a moment in New York, and I was like ‘Give me the Strokes, give me Interpol…’ and we were having a really good time in New York for a minute. And than it started to mash again, to warp again, and then it became clubby indie stuff again, like Scissor Sisters, these guys came on the scene.”

There goes another cigarette.

I realize I’m talking in a foreign language to a true New Yorker club DJ, all the while still figuring out what exactly that means. “I have a hard-time being linear with art. I have a hard time putting things in boxes. I mean, first and foremost I’m a DJ. I mix. BPMs don’t matter. Styles don’t matter. I come from a frame of mind where you don’t play the same bpm, don’t play straight bangers all night in a row because nobody goes to the bar and buys drinks. Think about the truth to that. Don’t be scared to play an abstract record, or don’t be scared to play a mellow record, or a moody record that will clear the dancefloor. Don’t be scared to clear the dancefloor because they will head over to the bar and buy drinks. Then you get them back on the next jam. Those things are a bit different if you are hangin’ out at Berghain.”

Marc-Alan’s live sets are fun rollercoaster rides, and have only one mission: everybody dance. “Me going to Berghain and listening to 130 bpm for four hours blows my mind, I’m amazed by that but I’m like ‘wow I need a little bit more of a neurotic, non-linear journey’,” Marc-Alan says. Versatile in style ranging from Disco to Funk, Indie rock, Hip-Hop to Deep House, he knows how to play with the audience and set fire to the dancefloor just when you need it. “I’ve come to a frame of mind of music to where it’s an up and down. I am a New York club DJ. Anything goes.”

Marc-Alan is a busy bee. 300 to 400 new releases find their way through his ear canals each week, he tells me, and I am beginning to look forward to the mix he is about to release on Witness This.

“I do radio shows a lot…” Marc-Alan says while I open up two more Coronas, “…and those are the hardest gigs ever coz you’re going in there, and there’s no crowd response. You are staring at an engineer who’s probably not paying attention to you, probably texting his girl-friend. And so I think back to what has worked on the dance floor. It’s gutteral.”

And what about Berlin, I ask him. “Being over here has influenced me back into really being into house again. Cause there’s some really good music in Berlin. Really good underground stuff, man. You have good clubbing, good places.” And what about Berlin paralyzing creative productivity as many artists admit after a year of non-stop-partying in Germany’s capital? “A double-edged sword for sure”, says Marc-Alan.

I feel inspired as we take the elevator downstairs, descending into the depths of the abandoned public bath and into the Boiler Room where we are swallowed by a thundering bass and a crowd going mental.


Marc-Alan Gray grew up in Manhattan, NYC. He worked his way up DJing the dancefloors of clubs such as Limelight before exploring the European shores where he played the likes of fabric, Ministry Of Sound, and legendary Titanic in Moscow a little further east.

Catch him monthly for his roaming party Blah!Blah!Blah! at one of Berlin’s most infamous hedonistic temples, the King Size, if you manage to sneak past the bouncer. Or witness him live at one of his summer dates in New York, Oslo, Budapest, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Miami, Breda, and Washington D.C.

He is producing and releasing music on Defected Records and Loveslap. You can check out and buy his stuff here on iTunes.

For event dates and music updates follow Marc-Alan on facebook or Soundcloud.

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-K3A7733_vice_670Photocred: Anna Mascarenhas via thump Brazil


Electronic music in Brazil is coming of age. The electronic label Domina has just released Manara‘s debut album IHNTERACTIONS, and if you like experimental electronica this might be just your thing.

They say: House and techno are vague words that may come to your mind while listening to the album with its 12 tracks including vocal samples from Björk, Little Dragon and Mary J. Blige, creating an eerie mood (thump). Manara […] is sunrise techno in a Joy Orbison-meets-Underworld vein. (spin.com)

We say: Bursting with creativity, this moody, trippy piece of music feels like you’re on a weird rollercoaster ride during sunrise in a tub full of pink jelly. Manara draws inspiration from all corners of the electronic universe, mainly visiting house, techno, dubstep, and drum’n’bass. His debut is as dark as it is bright, a journey of sounds setting the tone right amidst the Samba rhythms at the Copacabana.

Listen to the album below or stop by Manara’s bandcamp to buy.