The democratization of the music industry should make it easier for talented artists to gain an audience, but if the last few years have shown us anything it’s that this was a blessing and a curse. There seems to be a constant flow of questionable and plain terrible music hitting the web daily, making it difficult for true talent to shine. This past summer Iron Galaxy’s “Attention Seeker” broke through the clutter and penetrated many of our social networks and for good reason – it’s emotive, danceable, and memorable. Within a couple of days it racked up a few thousand plays and was eventually picked up by Amsterdam’s Audio Culture. Fast-forward a few a months and Adam is preparing his follow-up record. We were anxious to find out more about him and offered him some time behind the decks to record Truancy Volume 64. Before that we had a chance to speak with Adam about his plans for this year and some of the relationships he’s made over the last six or so months. Without spoiling too much, there are quite a few influential people eager to give him a shot. For the next hour, expect to hear some Canada’s premiere talents in the world of house and techno boom from your monitors.
What have you been up to lately? “Around the New Year I finished up an EP for Born Electric. Other than that I’ve been working my day job and planning a studio move. We just got all the gear to the new place, finalized the layout (though we’re still waiting on a shelving company before that’s done) and now I have to complete the patchbay, order/make cables etc. Last week we started planning some dates in the EU, so it’s looking like I’ll be over there sometime in July.”
You have a pretty interesting day job as a music teacher, correct? Does that affect the way you write or keep you on your toes? “Yeah, music history and technology is one of the courses I teach. I get the Middle School kids to work with Ableton Live as part of that course. I’ve now made the switch over from Logic and that may have influenced my decision to do so. It’s easy to become complacent and teach the same thing to each group that you get. I always try and evolve some portion of the course. Now that I’m more comfortable actually teaching it’s easier to focus on new content and projects. The kids are always asking interesting questions that keep me on my toes or requires me to do some research.
I think my job is going to affect how I write music from this point on though because the new studio space is literally at the school where I work. We wanted to start a media lab, so they generously gave us some space and a bit of money. With video, photo and audio gear money doesn’t go far though, so I proposed bringing my setup to the school if I could have after hours access to it. That way the school didn’t have to buy a lot of the basics and I could get each kid on a real instrument. When they’re learning about using Impulse in Ableton we can go to the studio and fire up some old drum machines to see the origins of drum programming. I’m going to propose a course for the older students next year that’s more production based, maybe post production, foley work or music for film/video. They can collaborate with media classes, the drama department etc. With the new space it should be easier to get down to work. We had a good spot previously, but our friends lived there, so there were many distractions. When working there you would have to consider people’s work and sleep schedules. The neighbours were never a problem, but our friends lived and worked there.”
It’s safe to say your Audio Culture record acted as a diving board for you, what’s next? “For sure, I felt like “Attention Seeker” was well received. It helped put me in touch with a lot of musicians that I admire. I’m hoping people will be into the new stuff. I’ve finished an EP for Born Electric which is run by James Zabiela and his partner Mouj. That’ll be the 4th release on the label and should be out around April/May I’ve been told. About a month or so before that I’ll have a track on a vinyl compilation put together by “Room With A View”. I’ve just started putting together ideas for an EP on Audio Culture and almost have an EPs worth of tracks finished with my friend Dave. There’s a few other projects and collaborations on the go too, but everything’s in the early stages.” We’d imagine putting out a record on James Zabiela’s label is a pretty big deal for you. Did he approach you? “Yeah, I’m excited about the EP on Born Electric for sure. It’s four tracks, and there’s a bit of diversity on there. To be honest, James’ name was familiar, but I didn’t know much about him at first. He’s on another level, with a heavy touring schedule, playing a lot of big rooms. When I speak with him he has a genuine enthusiasm about the label, Born Electric artists, DJing, and the demos I send him. Last year I received a message from his roommate who said James was into my stuff. I think he just found me on SoundCloud. Just before the summer he got in touch to tell me his plans for the new label. James is a technical wizard on the CDJs, but more importantly he’s an all around nice guy who’s supporting a lot of the music I’m into. It seems like it will be a good crew to be involved with.”
Stream: Iron Galaxy – Attention Seeker (Audio Culture)
Canada, particularly Montréal and Toronto, has recently had a spotlight shown on it for its unique and what some would call uncharacteristically playful take on house and techno. How would you describe the scene there? “Whenever I’m asked this I feel a little unqualified to answer because I’m not super involved in Montreal’s music scene beyond what my friends are doing. There’s a lot of good crews putting on shows and after hours events, bringing great artists to the city. There was the Resident Advisor article about Toronto recently that seems to sum up what’s going on over there. There’s a lot of amazing artists who’ve come out of the two cities and are really busy touring and/or releasing records in Europe. It’s great to see people picking up on that. Martyn just released the Dovercourt EP that’s comprised solely of producers from Toronto. Every track on that is a bomb (I can’t believe I didn’t include any of them in the mix!). Label-wise, there’s a few people in Montreal doing interesting things. Turbo is obviously leading that charge, Jacques Greene started Vase recently, there’s Fur Trade, Infinite Machine, Parages Music. I’m sure I’m forgetting some. My friend Jurg just started a label called “Forbidden Planet”. The first release is a great D’Marc Cantu 12-inch that includes a DVS1 remix. It’ll be exciting to see what else they have forthcoming.”
What are the relationships like between other local artists? Is everyone supportive of each other? “DJs in Montreal like Lexis (musicismysanctuary.com) were some of the first people to play my music. He has a connection to Lefto, who supported the first record before it was out. I imagine that’s one of the ways it made it to people like Gilles Peterson. I had been friends with guys like Bordello and Addy from Footprintz before we even heard each other’s music. We’re all excited about what everyone’s up to individually and either have, or are about to, get together in the studio. It’s a small world, so I’ve slowly been meeting a lot of my favourite Canadian producers. Everyone seems very accessible, supportive and down to earth. Brian/Gingy is always willing to critique any demos I pass his way. Local DJs, producers and promoters are starting to invite me to play out with them, which is nice. I’ve DJed for years, but never got into promotion, or hustled for gigs.”
Are there any specific nights or venues you frequent? “Not really to be honest. I’ve sort of toned down going out. When I lived in London several years ago, I would never miss “Movement” Thursdays at Bar Rhumba. Here in Montreal, I’ll just hit up select shows, whenever somebody interesting is in town. When Thomas Von Party puts on an after hours party, you’ll usually find me there though.”
What were your formative years in music like? “I took piano lessons for a short time when I was super young. Around the age of 12 I got into playing guitar. I took lessons for a bit, but then just taught myself by learning songs and trying to solo over a few of my favourite albums. When I was in highschool I bought my first synth and started playing around with production. I think a lot of my early stuff was trying to emulate artists like Solvent and Skanfrom. Around the same time I tried producing Drum and Bass.”
Who were some of the artists you were looking up to (not necessarily electronic)? “Murderecords was a Canadian label I really loved when I was young. The first Local Rabbits record helped me learn the guitar. Thrush Hermit, Superfriendz, Eric’s Trip, Sebadoh and Sonic Youth were big for me at the time. The east coast of Canada was producing a lot of great indie rock stuff. Ian from Thrush Hermit is actually in that band Hiawatha with Egyptrixx. It’s interesting to see those worlds collide. At the same time I would have been into the obvious hip hop stuff like Public Enemy, Tribe, Mobb Deep, Black Sheep etc. I had my friends who were into metal and we would listen to Slayer, Sepaltura etc. The electronic stuff was the first time I really found something that nobody else in my world was picking up on. I started with Warp Records stuff and that led me to Suction Records, Morr Music, City Centre Offices etc. At the same time when I was listening to the “IDM” stuff, I bought turntables and started picking up some French House and DnB records. Soon my record collection was consumed with DnB. In the early 2000s Total Science, Digital, Spirit, Breakage, Alpha Omega, Sonar Circle and the whole Reinforced camp could do no wrong. Bad Company, Virus, Renegade Hardware, Marcus Intalex, Valve and so many more were on the top of their game for a period. I lost interest in most DnB produced after 2003. It’s great to see guys like Marcus and DBridge slowing things down and continuing to make great music.”
Take us into your studio, what’s the creative process like for you? Do you partake in any OCD-like rituals before getting down to business? “The creative process is going to change a bit, because now that we’ve moved I can set up the workflow differently. With our last setup I learned a lot about how I like to work, along with what frustrates me. I’m going to create a patchbay for all the CV and Gate controls now, so we can easily sequence a lot of the old monosynths with Ableton, or with an analog sequencer. Sometimes I come in with a tempo, a sample or a mild vision. Most of the time I just get in there and jam. Once I have a few things happening then I’ll record parts into the computer and edit it down into an arrangement. No rituals, but I tend to waste some time at the beginning, settling in, surfing the net.”
Is there anything you’d like to add to your studio or a skill you’d like to learn? “Ha, well, if money and space were no object there’s a lot I would love to add. I think my music is a product of really liking to work with hardware. I generally don’t buy the hardware to facilitate a particular style of music, but the gear definitely influences the end product. I may be enamoured by the sound or groove of a certain piece of equipment. I either like or hate the interface and that dictates whether it ends up in the studio. Something like the SH101 might not be overly versatile as far as its sound, but I love the sequencer, the fast envelopes and how quickly you can start making something with it. If anything, I need to scale back, but I’d love to have a Jupiter 4. There are wishlist synths like a Synthex, CS80 etc. which of course I would be amazing, but in a collectors market will never happen. I could see myself trying to find a deal on something like an MKS80. I just missed out on one that someone was selling for $1200. Did you see the reissued MS20 mini? The waiting list for that thing is going to be crazy. I think I’d like to pick up some more outboard effects and processors. I found an Ursa Major Space Station for next to nothing and it’s a really unique reverb/delay. I’m still learning many of the things that I already own. This summer I made the switch to Ableton from Logic. I need to put in some time with the SP1200. I just bought an Oberkorn analog sequencer, so I need to figure out everything that has to offer. It came with a modular power supply and a pitch quantiser module, so I’m sure one day I’ll get sucked into the world of modular synthesis.”
Is there a specific element or feeling you like to include or convey in your music? “I definitely know the feeling when I hear it, but I’m still figuring out how to get there. When I finish things i find myself sometimes second guessing the vibe. I like melody and things that are a bit sad or unnerving. I like a lot of things actually. It’s hard to not to go in a million directions. I suppose that’s why people have alternate aliases. With “Iron Galaxy” I want to find the line of having some range in my productions without seeming inconsistent.”
You’ve mentioned a side project with your friend Dave, how did that come about? “We both grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. When I started getting into electronic music, I didn’t know anybody else who DJed or produced, or who generally listened to the stuff. Some friends told me to see him and a guy named Justin perform as the Ninja Hawkz Sound System. They would quickly write a bunch of instrumentals the night before a show and Justin would freestyle the most hilarious lyrics over top. Dave became the guy I would ask advice from when I wanted to know about synths or samplers. We both ended up in Montreal and decided to pool our gear into a studio setup. We were going to call ourselves “Sex Life”, but are going to be “Iron Galaxy and…”. He needs to lock down a name. He may end up being “Sexlife”.” How would you describe the music you make together? “It’s still melodic, but has given us an excuse to create something a little more on the techno end of the spectrum. So far the arrangements are a bit varied, with an almost song structure. For the next few we’re trying to come up with an idea we can just jam on for 5 minutes. That Bruce Trail track on 3024 is a good example of what we’d like to strive for. A simple groove that has a solid melody, is a little tough or melancholy, but doesn’t get tired.”
When can we expect to hear this music? Do have a home for this music yet? “We’ve been really slow and Dave was busy with design stuff in the fall, so we’re going to try and get on a schedule when the studio is rebuilt. So far we’re on the 4th track with that project. Turbo has asked us to hold a few things so far, so when Thomas returns from India next month we’re going to sit down and figure something out. I think their release schedule is packed until the summer, so who knows when. I’m excited to get it out there though.”
Let’s say your house is on fire, what’s the one record you’d take with you? “Hmmm, that’s different from the desert island discs question. Do you grab the record worth the most on discogs? Hopefully my insurance would allow me to buy back a lot of my favourite records. Spinform’s “Superstjerna EP” and Board Of Canada’s “Music Has The Right…” are probably two of my most sentimental records. If I was near the DnB collection, maybe Q-Project “Slow Down/Spectrum City”, Total Science “Murder EP”, “Make Me Feel EP”, maybe Matrix and Fierce’s “Tightrope/Climate”. Nothing’s organized, so I probably would die of smoke inhalation before making a final decision.”
What’s the idea behind your Truancy Volume? “Although there’s a handful older classics in the mix, I wanted to play some newer stuff this time around. I included some recently released bits as well as some upcoming or unreleased tracks that a few producer friends were kind enough to send my way. There’s so much great new music out there these days, I didn’t even get a chance to touch the surface.”
And of course, what’s your drink of choice? “Whatever happened to Vanilla Coke? I know it exists somewhere in this world. Visiting the States is always a trip because there’s a lot of snacks and drinks that are either banned up in Canada because of the types of fats, sugars or additives they contain. Also, some things just aren’t marketed here. I just found a soda company called “Blue Sky” that makes a “Cherry Vanilla Creme” soda. That’s a pretty solid replacement.”
Tracklisting:Candido – Thousand Finger Man
Clark – Jak To Basics
Pitto – Richklap
Move D – Got 2 B
Severn Beach – Stitches (Forthcoming Audio Culture)
Locked Groove – Wear It Well (Forthcoming Hotflush)
Gingy & Bordello – All Day (Forthcoming Turbo Recordings)
Trikk – Prime Time (Forthcoming Hypercolour)
South London Ordnance – Revolver (Forthcoming Hotflush)
Leon Vynehall – Untitled017
I:Cube – Disco Cubism (Daft Punk Remix)
Brother G – Cold Pass
Unknown – Untitled (unreleased)
Bodhi – Deliquesce
Doc Daneeka – Babylon’s Burning
Tom Trago – Sky High feat. San Proper (Vocal Dub Mix)
Schatrax – The Almighty
Anthony Naples – Mad Disrespect
dBridge – True Romance (Pedestrian Edit) (unreleased)
Jack Dixon – E
D’Marc Cantu – Some Fantasies Are Good (Forthcoming Forbidden Planet)
Gingy & Bordello – Saturday Night Fervor (Forthcoming Turbo Recordings)
Nphonix – Tactix (Forthcoming Audio Culture)
Locked Groove – Hirondelle (unreleased)
Words by Jonathon Alcindor, 11 February 2013. Leave a comment
As one third of blog/label/collective Transmission Collective, Wolf Cub has been making waves as of late by working within the throwback style of house music that appears to be all the rage at the moment. As much as we’d like to disparage such a blatantly self-serving trend, artists like Wolf Cub, Bicep and Ejeca are the logical retort to the overwhelmingly aggressive brand of brostep and electro that has invaded the minds of North American teenagers in recent years. Formerly universal ideals like “establishing a groove”, or “funk” (outlandish, we know) have become secondhand to immediate satisfaction and tactless bombast. We don’t need to tell you this of course, but the idea that a whole generation has grown up with this as a touchstone for what dance music should sound like is depressing as hell. With the “Love High” EP, Wolf Cub puts himself firmly in the counter-current and while the Leeds-based producer might not introduce any brand new ideas, the fact that he’s meticulously improving upon tried and true sounds means that he’s playing an important role in the contemporary house music landscape.
The backbone of the “Love High” EP is quite simple: shuffling percussion, organ stabs, warm synth pads and diva vocals. However, the results are anything but ordinary. What differentiates Wolf Cub from the crowd of likeminded producers is his willingness to allow the funkiest elements of his music to drive the entirety of the mix. The kick drum is present, the vocals ring out and the euphoria-inducing organ plays, but the bassline is always the driving force. On “I’m Gone”, the bass tunnels its way through the other elements, but is always present and always prescient to the melodic direction the song takes. The bass in “What You Need” is more distinct, but almost sounds more reserved than the rest of the EP. The song is the bedroom anthem of the release, not through any lyrical declaration, but in its innate sensuality, pinpointed by the funky bassline. The EP’s closer “Kerouac” is the stomper of the release, eschewing the carefully constructed smoothness of the rest of the EP for a more overt stab at peak time madness. It’s difficult to predict exactly where Wolf Cub will take his sound on future releases, but “Love High” is an impressive outing for such an untested producer. While the endpoint of the throwback house trend appears to be near, Wolf Cub has the talent and attention to transcend the sound he’s eloquently put forth on “Love High”.
Stream: Wolf Cub – Love High (Transmission Collective)
Wolf Cub’s Love High EP is available now on Transmission Audio Recordings.
Words by Gabe Meier, 11 February 2013. Leave a comment
It’s well-documented, almost to the point of redundancy, how Oneman has built his reputation as a DJ and selector organically. Though despite having never dabbled in production, the Standard Place ringleader and Rinse FM veteran has managed to carve out a comfortable niche for himself. His sets are renowned for throwing up surprising little sonic fusions that you just know are Original Oneman Fire, which brings us nicely onto his latest project. Oneman dropped “Solitaire Vol. 1“ at the end of January - his first in what will be a series of independent mixtapes. On paper there’s nothing particularly jaw-dropping about the tracklist but unlike his rather limp Fabriclive contribution, it’s a whole other story when you let it play out. He kicks off by layering a Bone Thugs-n-Harmony a capella over Fatima Al Qadiri’s steel drum-laden “Hydra” – the combination has serious bite and sets the pace for the remaining eighty minutes.
Stream: Oneman – Solitaire Vol. 1
True to his signature style he seamlessly blends grime, 4/4 house and woozy rap joints without ever compromising the vibes. Peverelist & Kowton’s “Raw Code” and L-Vis’ “Ballad 4D” – both serious dancefloor weapons and alike in their sinister percussion-led grooves– sit astride the summery dancehall-lite of the “Diplo Rhythm“. Elsewhere, Machinedrum’s infectious “Van Vogue” rubs shoulders with Katie Got Bandz’s “Hittaz Only“. An additional personal touch is delivered by way of the Oneman edit, which are peppered throughout the mixtape. Whilst the TNGHT x B.O.B. track (christened “Still Bugg’n this Bitch“) has gone a bit stale since it was unveiled last year, there are rather inspired bootlegs of Flocka’s “Hand in the Paint” and Ginuwine’s “Pony“. After a relatively quiet few months for the 502 Recordings boss “Solitaire Vol. 1″ proves that Oneman is back on his A-game, and has everyone at the Truants Mansion excited for the next instalment.
Oneman’s Solitaire Vol. 1 is available now.
Words by Sophie Kindreich, 10 February 2013. Leave a comment
It’s been an interesting path for Sabina Plamenova. Moving between the worlds of dubstep and techno, featuring on Surgeon’s Fabric mix and collaborating with Jamie Woon (the pair met at RBMA 2008), she then drifted towards tough house music, often peppering tracks with her own abstract vocals. This led her to establish a new alias, Alis. She released the wonderful “Hybrids In The Attic” album late last year, and now she’s teamed up with one of our favourite labels, Don’t Be Afraid, for the “Azimuth” EP. It kicks off with the powerful stomp of “You Can Try“, its three-note phrases parading around with powerful grandeur. It’s a barrage of elements, hard-hitting kicks, sonic blasts and Alis’s floating vocals. After a percussive break the main theme returns, albeit in a less intimidating fashion, acting as a coda of sorts before wistfully disappearing in a sea of reverb. It’s quite something, although it’s hard to tell if this is aimed at the dancefloor or the headphones – it’s too slow for many a floor, but it’ll do more than just get your foot tapping while you’re on the train to work.
Stream: Alis – Azimuth/Azimuth (D’Marc Cantu Remix)
The EP’s title track is an expansive cut that’s swathed in chunky electro sounds, wallowing in giddy 80s kicks and bleeps that swarm like bees on a sunny day. Half-way through we’re pulled down a tunnel of emotion, with violent, swirling synths combining with more hazy vocals. It’s hard to call these tracks songs, as the vocals act almost as an additional instrumental element rather than a standout point. Remixer D’Marc Cantu takes those swirling synths, muffles them and builds a gripping house jam around them. It’s a deep loop of funk, one that you really wish would go on more than just the paltry five minutes we’re granted here. With its fizzing bass, and a dark pendulous two-note phrase that hangs over the track, it really commands your attention. “Imperium” is a languid disco groove, incorporating those harsh yet infectious synths explored in earlier tracks, perforated with strident semiquavers up and down the octaves. It, and the record, comes crashing to a close, like the breakdown of a computer or a carousel jerking awkwardly to a halt. Alis took part in the great DBA takeover of Boiler Room back in October, and you can get a glimpse of these three originals towards the end of her wonderful set. It’s the perfect manner to taste this release before you get your hands on whole thing
Stream: Alis Live in the Boiler Room
Alis – Azimuth EP is out on Don’t Be Afraid this month
Words by Aidan Hanratty, 08 February 2013. Leave a comment
With the fast pace of the internet music-sphere, and with so many artists teetering on the cusp of recognition, it’s really great to actually witness talent rise through the never-ending, ever-reaching crowd of music-makers. That’s not to say that Garry McCartney, also known as Ejeca, is in anyway a complete new-comer. He teamed up with his fellow Irishmen and good friends Bicep a couple of months ago, releasing “You“, a track that draws from the 90′s rave scene and received big love from people like Pete Tong and Waze & Odyssey, not to mention releasing tracks on AUS Music, Saints & Sonnets, W&O Street Tracks, Future Classic and more. The Belfast boy talks of long lasting respect for Orbital, The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers and “that wee phase in the nineties when garage was pop“, listening to tunes by Shanks and Bigfoot, Artful Dodger and the like. It’s a blossoming of music passion that we here at Truants can relate to, and we are absolutely loving the vibes on his newly released EP that is released on Last Night on Earth, the label of progressive house legend Sasha.
Stream: Bicep & Ejeca “You” (Aus Music)
Ejeca’s “Frequency” EP moves away from a fist pumping house vibe that was seen on his “Krunk” EP, giving us a more stripped back, refined, and introspective insight into Gary’s production technique. The first track “Hi Rollin” introduces a smooth atmosphere with an intense and methodical bassline typical of house beats, a tune that will in no way confuse the following he has already acquired. It is followed up by the similar “Neva 2 Far”, dripping with classic vocals and vintage house sounds. The last two tracks on the EP however really make you prick up your ears and double check you’re still listening to the same producer. “Nassau Storm” builds brilliantly, releasing a dub beat and subtle melodic line, only to then filter through each other like sand between your fingers. The bassline is an uneasy one – imagine a wolf in the wild with his hackles raised and you’ll get the general feeling of the entire thing. The last track on the EP “Time For Change” isn’t as dark as ”Nassau Storm” and you may find yourself reminded of the main man Burial, but nonetheless, it’s intelligent, gentle, and soothing, whilst still managing to hold down a chunky bassline and some poignant hooks. The snippets of rolling vocal are entrancing and we couldn’t help noticing the perfectly placed, sneaky last vocal sample of Donell Jones’ “U Know What’s Up“. We see you, Ejeca, and we like it.
Ejeca’s “Frequency” EP is available now on Last Night on Earth
Words by Jess Melia, 08 February 2013. Leave a comment