Steve Aoki’s DIM MAK drops first mixtape, an extravagant selection of trap sounds
In 1996, Steve Aoki founded DIM MAK and developed it into an influential independent record label and music lifestyle brand. Responsible for launching the careers of seminal acts such as Bloc Party, The Bloody Beetroots, The Chainsmokers, Deorro, Keys N Krates and countless others, the independently owned DIM MAK has consistently pushed new musical movements via its staunch DIY ethos. With a back catalog hundreds of records deep, a history of legendary live events, and a fully formed clothing line, DIM MAK continues its global mission of promoting boundary-pushing music and culture ‘by any means necessary’. DIM MAK has now landed in Pacemaker and here is their first mixtape with an extravagant selection of fresh releases.
Here comes THE ultimate summer deep house mixtape. Let yourself be surrounded by these proper beach vibes even if you are nowhere near any water. Take a swim in the sounds of Bodhi, Drake, Lone, Lapalux and enjoy the perfect jazzy-sexy waves @wrangle mixed up for you.
Time to tap your toes and bob your heads, @modal is in the house and delivers the grooviest, housiest, danciest rhythms. Get ready to hear new music and some oldies from Tube & Berger, Todd Terje, Lindstrøm and join us in trying to figure out what’s behind the title of this mix… we want to be hulmeanologists!
Young house genius Deorro showcases some of his best tracks on Pacemaker.
A Los Angeles native and proud Mexican-American, Deorro is a highly appreciated name among house music lovers and festivalgoers. He started DJing at the age of 14 and by the time he turned 17, he was already producing his own tracks. Since then he’s accumulated an impressive discography consisting of original productions, collaborations and remixes with Steve Aoki, Axwell, Diplo, Laidback Luke, Carnage, R3hab etc. His unique grasp on modern party music manifests itself in a special fusion of Dutch, moombah, progressive and bass elements. His highly anticipated debut album, Good Evening, is out now on Ultra Music and you can stream and buy it here. We’re happy to share his first Pacemaker mixtape, in which he mixed up some of his most successful tracks.
@moycoh2000’s summer hip-hop mixtape is everything you need this season. Soothing beats featuring your favourite rappers (Frank Ocean, Drake, Chance The Rapper, Kanye West), sensually sophisticated grooves from FKJ and KAYTRANADA. Exciting mixture, give it a spin!
The best surprises hit us when we push play and we’re not really prepared for what we’re going to hear. @tripmusicparis’ mixtape was one of these surprises and we absolutely love it! Ennio Morricone meets funky future house and together they embark on a jazzy journey of delightful melodies. One of the best feel-good mixes on Pacemaker, check it out!
Jody Koenders aka WHOISJODY is one of the most promising rising stars in the electronic music scene. Hailing from The Netherlands, JODY’s first single ‘Feelings’ got signed on Spinnin Records as the #1 track on their Talent Pool.
He creates super house, which is a mix between deep house, tech house and nu-disco, a unique sound with a definite party warranty. JODY just dropped his first Pacemaker mixtape with a delicious selection of house music, so we figured it was the perfect timing for a little interview. Find out more about WHOISJODY, succeeding in the music industry, dreams and inspirations.
WHOISJODY? Please tell us a little about your background. When did you get interested in music?
Like in many families, growing up with different styles of music was an important part of my music development. My mother is a jazz singer and my stepdad is a big fan of the Stones. Through my sisters I got familiar with all sorts of small punk and rock bands. I later gained interest for hip-hop and even started a hip-hop group with a couple of friends. We called ourselves ‘HomeBase’, with me on the drums, two other friends on the decks and bass guitar, hilarious…
Who were your biggest influences while you were growing up?
That would have to be The Beastie Boys, Michael Jackson and Nirvana.
Before you started your music career, you used to be a professional snowboarder. Quite a fascinating background! What’s the story behind that and how come you quit?
True, had an amazing time for 10 years traveling around the globe and snowboarding at the best spots. Competed in big air & halfpipe competitions. However, my career came to an end after a serious accident during a competition in Oslo. I was pretty lucky to step out of it alive. Took me a year to recover and getting back in the game wasn’t an option.
The Netherlands is full of talented DJs, artists and musicians in the electronic music scene. What do you think it takes to stand out and reach out to the audience?
Preserve what you love to do and keep doing it, that’s the main thing. As a beginner DJ/Producer you have to work really hard. Besides creating top notch productions you have to take care of your marketing & PR as well, especially in the beginning, you have to take care of everything yourself.
You have a bedroom (like… literally) studio, that is where all the magic happens. How does your setup look like? What tools do you use to make music?
Haha, true. Well my studio setup is pretty basic. I work with Ableton, have an M-Audio Oxygen 49 Midi Keyboard, 2 KRG Rocket 6 monitors and Ableton Push. Furthermore, I work with a lot of Waves plugins and different software synths, like the Sylenth, Moog, Korg M1 and Massive to name a few.
Since you have your studio at home, how does it work out for you to divide your personal and professional time?
Having your studio at home is sometimes a bit hard but also easy if you all of a sudden come up with a new idea. However, I have periods I when I don’t produce that much and other times I can be sitting for days. Hopefully I’ll get a proper studio one day, outside my bedroom.
What do you like the most about producing and DJing and what are your biggest challenges at the same time?
The biggest reward is of course people liking and dancing to your music. At the same time you always have the little devil on your shoulders saying: are you really going to release this?? But then again it’s very easy to get excited about creating a new track, it’s a big commitment, because you do it and then you have to live with it when it’s finished. It’s in your section in the ‘record store’ for ever. Besides the whole production procedure you have the whole ‘getting in contact with labels’ hassle. Which can be a pain in the ass sometimes, because there are more disappointments than positive feedback.
How do you discover music yourself? Do you buy records or you prefer digital formats and streaming? What are your most trusted sources?
I listen to a lot of mixes from other DJ’s and undiscovered music on Spotify. Besides that, I buy music on Beatport and Traxsource. And recently I bought some records again at the local record shop Rush Hour.
You define your sound as “super house”. So how is super house different from regular house music?
I guess I like to call it super house because I mix all sort of house genres (deep, tech & a bit of nu-disco), however it’s got to have that WHOISJODY groove: deep vocals, baseline and that rolling snare & hi-hat. You have to feel it!
If you would have to name 3 artists whose sound you really like at the moment – who would they be?
Kölsch, Dennis Quin, John Monkman.
Do you have a dream location where you would like to play one day?
Hmmm hard one… At this stage of my musical journey I guess I would love to play in a lot of different places. But if I had to choose one, then it would have to be Burning Man.
Your first single ‘Feelings’ got signed to Spinnin Records’ Talent Pool. I guess that is somewhat of a dream of every electronic music producer. How did you get in touch with them?
Feelings is actually the first step towards the new direction of music I wanted to make. I basically sent it over to Spinnin and they were enthusiastic about the track. The rest is history.
You also run your own label that’s been a bit more under the radar during the last years. Any plans with this in the future?
Eskill Records has been on the low key for a while… I needed to figure out what to do with the label and see in which direction it needed to go. Basically it needed a fresh new image and structure. So I gave Eskill a new corporate identity and music wise it will focus on house (deep & tech house). Soon Eskill will be releasing some new music again.
What would your advice be to young producers and DJs who want to make it in nowadays music industry?
Above all, persist what you are doing. You’ll come across more setbacks than positive moments. Believe in yourself and don’t forget to have fun!
What are you working on right now? What’s next for JODY?
At the moment I’m working on a couple of new tracks, which will be coming out this summer. Doing a collab with a singer from London in a couple of weeks which I’m really looking forward to. Unfortunately can’t tell you who she is yet, but you’ll know soon 🙂
Please tell us a bit about your experiences with Pacemaker for iPhone and Pacemaker+. How do you like the app, what are your favourite features and what would you like to improve?
It’s a pretty cool app, it gives you the opportunity to put together a mix really fast. I would recommend the + version, as it gives you more possibilities mixing wise. I quite like the fade in and out option, which gives you a more precise wave form view. And overall the easiness of adding or deleting tracks as you’re mixing.
The vibe doctor is back with another fabulous deep house mixtape. Let it blow you away!
Dirty Disco Radio is already a familiar name in the Pacemaker community – Kono Vidovic is our go-to person when it comes to the most carefully curated deep house tracks, someone you can trust with fixing your groovy needs. Our vibe doctor is now back with another fabulous mixtape that soothes both body and mind. Let him take you on a trip to the magical world of rhythms with this bootylicious and relaxing selection.
Sweet summer melodies coming from @trip_c’s mixing kitchen. Contains all the perfect ingredients for relaxing, chilling or partying, blended to perfection. It’s always quite a task to mix vocal tracks but he took the challenge and slow-cooked it for you to enjoy. Dance, pop with a hint of EDM.
Be it from sunrise to sunset or from sunset to sunrise, this tech house and techno goodie bag won’t disappoint your thirsty ears. @capturingphi knows his music and he shows off his mixing skills as well in this Pacemaker+ mixtape. No rest for the wicked!
Influenced by African and Asian sounds, Molikasi works, samples and magnifies his own voice and instrument, to give an impression of coming from faraway places and break the rules of electro pop. We had a little chat with the French artist and you can also listen to his excellent Kitsuné Hot Stream mixtape!
How did you get interested in music?
I got interested in music thanks to my cousin who used to play guitar. I wanted to do the same so I first learned some standard guitar songs. Then I came to electronic music and production.
Tell us a bit about the Soundress label.
Soundress is a label working with artists like Dim Sum, Clanch, Candidat, Le goût acide des conservateurs…
How’s life in Paris as a musician? What inspires you the most in the city?
Paris is a really cool place for musicians. You can easily meet people and see the artists live. But sometimes you also needs space and time to get inspired so it’s cool to leave the city for the countryside.
Name 3 artists who inspire you the most when it comes to making music.
Bibio / Mura Masa / Fleet Foxes
Name 3 tracks from this year that made a big impression on you.
Whitney “No Woman”
Louis The Child “Love is alive”
If you could swap bodies with another artist for a weekend, whose skin would you like to sneak in and why?
Thom Yorke… it could be interesting to be in his mind for a weekend
What do you do when you’re not making music?
I’m drawing while thinking of music
What would you do if – for some mysterious reason – there would be no more music from tomorrow on?
I would be drawing the music instruments of my dreams
What are you working on right now?
New tracks that I will release soon.
Please tell us a bit about your Kitsuné Hot Stream mix, how did you pick these tracks?
I wanted to start the mix with a danceable part so I chose Moullinex “Open House” and Allen French “Nova Vida” which both match well with my track “Danse de l’hiver”. Then I chosed to lower the tempo with Young Futura and Saux and to finish with this incredible song “Umbo” by IFE.
How do you like Pacemaker? What are your favourite features?
Pacemaker is a very cool app, I love the idea! I love that it works with Spotify so that you can easily pick tracks in your library.
We had a cool chat with the ever so amazing Young Franco and he even created a fabulous mixtape featuring Kitsuné tracks. The Australian genius started DJing when he was 16 and got into producing just a few years ago. He’s inspired by hip-hop, soul and funk and keeps sweeping the world off its feet (quite literally) with his unique funky beats. No dancefloor remains intact when he’s dictating the rhythm.
When was that point when you realized that music is going to be your biggest passion in your life?
Music was always a big part of my life and I think I never had a point I realised it just became more and more important to me.
You’re from Brisbane, Australia. How’s the electronic music scene over there?
Really good! Lots of cool musicians coming up at the moment. Feki, The Kite String Tangle, Tyler Touche.
You did what many are only dreaming of: put your studies on hold to pursue your music career full-time. Was this a difficult choice to make?
Not really, it was a very natural progression.
What and who inspires you the most when it comes to making music?
I think anyone doing something cool in their own respective field is inspiring. Whether it be art or music or anything in the creative field.
You’ve recently been on tour with Kitsuné in Europe. Which show and city was the most memorable for you and why?
All the shows were amazing and were equally memorable. I thoroughly enjoyed the Madrid show. Goya Social Club is such a vibe.
When it comes to the audience, do you see any difference between shows in Australia and Europe?
I think it’s just what people are used to listening to. Australia has a unique style and Europe has so much culture and vibe. I think people are always up to have a good time though no matter where you are from.
If you could go back in time 10 years, is there anything you would like to change?
Who would you like to collaborate with the most and why?
Kaytranada, such an amazing artist.
Is there a music genre you can’t stand listening to?
I generally don’t listen to. Maybe heavy metal?
Is there some music you like but you’re ashamed to admit?
I love classical music! Not ashamed to admit it but it is a bit different.
Who would you like to meet the most? Dead or alive.
What’s your favourite place in the world?
I don’t have a favourite but Paris is up there. So is Sydney.
What’s your favourite thing on the internet?
Videos of Dogs.
What do you do when you’re not making music, touring or DJing?
Watching YouTube videos.
What are you working on right now?
My next single.
How do you like Pacemaker? What are your favourite features and what would you like to add or improve?
I love being able to use songs from Spotify. I found it hard to give a proper mix between some of the tracks.
We had a chat with Sean Adams, the founder of Drowned in Sound, UK-based music website. Focusing on a variety of quality sounds from electronic music to pop and rock, they have published interviews with everyone from Björk to Paul McCartney. Sean shared a special mixtape on Pacemaker and now gives you some insight on how the life of a full-time music influencer looks like.
When and how did you get interested in music? Was there a certain moment when you heard something that made you wanna dig further and deeper into music?
There have been lots of steps into the abyss. As a kid I was lucky that my mum had great taste and car journeys would apparently involve me asking to listen to side two of Low or The Cure. My dad also had a lot of records and I remember one Saturday afternoon when I was about 10 listening to Otis Redding ‘(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay’ over and over, trying to work out why it was so powerful and what it was trying to say. It was a whole other world and ever since I’ve found myself riding on the updrafts of Kate Bush or being blown sideways by Nine Inch Nails or finding myself sitting in an imagined bar with Arab Strap’s stories coming to life.
Tell us a bit about the birth of your platform Drowned in Sound – it started almost 20 years ago as a fanzine and throughout those years it became a vital part of the (indie) music community.
My first email fanzine/newsletter started when I was 15 so that is almost 20 years ago… I started it because I found the web a bit empty for people passionately talking about music and a bit overwhelming trying to talk about music in general on forums and newsgroups dedicated to Radiohead or Smashing Pumpkins or whoever. I’ve never been a one band guy.
Drowned in Sound was an evolution of that newsletter which was becoming lengthy as other people began to contribute. Hearing Muse’s first demo and seeing their rise and rise and rise – despite the music press being dismissive and a bit snobby about them – was definitely a big catalyst and wind in my sail to spot and champion artists who might one day headline a stadium.
Nowadays there are hundreds of music blogs / webzines out there, coming and going. You have tons of experience in this field and you’ve been having difficulties yourself with DiS to keep it going. What do you think it takes these days to create a blooming community, to grab attention, to create content that is well-received and keeps readers/listeners come back regularly?
I think not chasing hits has been fairly key. We try to make a site that we would want to read. I’ve shied away from deluging and overwhelming our audience. Our recommendations are infrequent. Our tone playful but thoughtful. Then there’s the forums which are allowed to have the freedom for users to be whoever they want to be and we only very rarely need to reign people in.
Curating music takes a lot of time and energy – where do you discover music these days? What are your trusted sources?
I think my trigonometry of recommendations is kinda the same as it ever was. The three prongs are:
Seeing what other writers and blogs are passionate about – you can always feel the enthusiasm when someone is eloquent and inspired
Record labels – there are a lot of labels I trust and always new labels in different scenes who seem to have all the best flagship artists of a sound. I’ll always check out a new release of it’s on 4AD or Erased Tapes or Hyperdub or Anti- or Sacred Bones or so many other great independent labels. I probably trust record labels more than anything else as I know how much investment, time and risk is required to help out something new into the world, which is so much more of an undertaking than just writing a complimentary blog of a stream.
Luck is still key. You can’t account for having your ears open and finding yourself curiously checking out an act in your feed or being intrigued to see someone at a festival, then finding something really special.
How do you listen to music most of the time? Do you buy lots of physical records or do you prefer the digital streaming nowadays?
Mostly on Spotify. I’ve never really been that interested in having a record collection. I’m far more likely to buy a tshirt of a band I like than a record that will probably stay sealed for months. I find the inflow of music totally overwhelming and I’m constantly listening to music through Sonos speakers or my beloved Bowers + Wilkins headphones. I also listen to the radio a lot as a lot of DJs and their producers are lucky enough to be able to spend the majority of their time rummaging for gems, and have the ability to present and make sense of things which are unfamiliar in the context of things I already know and like.
You have at least 3 jobs and they are all music-related in one way or another. How do you manage to keep it all going, how would you say a regular working day looks like for you?
There’s no such thing as a regular day. My “portfolio career” doesn’t allow much time for sleep. I’m often working from 7am until 7pm and then meeting people for drinks or going to gigs or just collapsing on the sofa.
How did you discover Pacemaker? You’ve been using the app for quite some time now. What do you like the most about it and what would you like to improve?
I first saw and loved the idea of the device that preceded the app. I often get asked to play music before and after bands at gigs and festivals, which can often be last minute and not massively well paid. I loved the idea of having my entire record collection and more at my finger tips and not need to lug stuff around. The app is far better than having 4 CDRs wrapped in dog-eared pieces of paper and I like that I can easily switch tracks in without worrying too much how the song’s intro and outro might neatly fit together without always relying on songs I know intimately. It’s really great for my radio show (once a month on Soho Radio and archived on Mixcloud) as it means I can concentrate more on what I’m saying than how the songs are mixing – found my vocabulary massively dropped when worrying about crossfading tunes. Definitely helps that tracks can be best matched and that I can trawl all of Spotify for songs to include rather than rummaging for CDs or importing tracks and burning CDRs (like, I don’t even have a laptop with a CD drive any longer….)
Please tell us a bit about your selection for ‘Swooning (Not Swooning)’, the mixtape you made for us.
It’s intended to be a bit of a bedroom party. None of the tunes are going to be big floor fillers but they will hopefully light up and expand a little corner in people’s mind’s eye. Lyrically bits of the tracks loosely riff on similar ideas but I’ll leave the listener to find the tenuous discourse and narrative woven between the choices.
Serein is an independent record label based in Wales, the UK. It was founded by Huw Roberts in 2005, focusing predominantly on crossover ambient styles and delicate sounds. We spoke to Huw about running a label, the perks of Spotify, exciting new releases and of course you can listen to a mixtape as well, exclusively containing Serein releases.
Please tell us a little bit about the birth of the Serein label. One would imagine there are not too many labels specialised in ambient electronica in the Wales region.
Serein was born during a time when I was involved in the free music scene surrounding so-called ‘net-labels’. These were imprints that released music online for free, there was an extremely creative community of musicians, artists and designers involved and I loved being a part of it. You’re right that there aren’t many similar labels here in Wales, and that made the online scene I was a part of even more special – in the early 90s I was making global connections with like minded people all thanks to my PC and modem. I was a member of a group called Miasmah which still runs to this day (although, like us, they now release on CD and vinyl) and later I decided to start my own venture, Serein.
Serein was founded in 2005 and you produce physical releases (CD and vinyl) since 2010. How do you think the need for owning an actual product have been shifting since then, if it has shifted at all?
Well, I don’t think anyone really needs to own physical items beyond practical day-to-day items. CDs and records are luxuries which is why we put a lot of thought into the artwork and packaging of releases. Many people are now happy to enjoy music digitally, either by downloading music or, as is more often the case, via a streaming service like Spotify. Sometimes people are surprised to hear that I’m a fan of digital streaming – for me, the convenience is a major plus point, not to mention the extremely small footprint it has in terms of its impact on the planet. I do believe there’s a balance to be struck though, I don’t want my music collection to exist solely in the digital domain. Sometimes, a piece of music makes such an impact that I want to have a physical copy to keep and to cherish. Something that occupies physical space, that you can hand to someone and say, ‘look at this – isn’t it beautiful?’. The way I run Serein is a reflection of what I look for and enjoy as a consumer.
What do you think are the biggest challenges when running a small, independent label like Serein these days?
In some respects, a record label is a business like any other and comes with the same challenges: continued growth, turning a profit and so on. These are always present and we have to be mindful of them. Other times we might face challenges related to specific releases, for example, dealing with material that’s very difficult to cut to vinyl, printing issues, technical problems with our site and so on. We are always trying to improve every facet of what we do. Identifying problems and finding elegant solutions is a continuous process, one that ultimately benefits everyone.
One big challenge we have right now is integrating a new shop with our website, it’s taking a lot of time but it’s coming together and we’re really excited about it!
You put a lot of focus on the physical releases, both the audio and visual quality of the product. At the same time the label is present on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify and now you have posted a mixtape on Pacemaker too – how much of the original idea of the products gets lost when you’re only looking at them through a(n often) mobile screen?
As I mentioned before I really like streaming services. When I’m in the office, I almost always have Spotify open. I’m really organised with my playlists and I have a pretty big collection of music in my account. I just love discovering new music through it, and of course, when I find something I really connect with I will often track down a physical copy. To be honest, I don’t think listening to music via Pacemaker, Spotify or any other app dilutes the experience. In fact, I really like the idea that someone could be on a train journey somewhere, thousands of miles away from me, discovering the music of Serein as they gaze out of the window. I mean, how utterly futuristic and wonderful is that? That the music we so carefully curate can be discovered in this way is a dream come true in many ways – the idea of that person, sat on that journey hearing our music for the first time and it making an impression – that’s really special. I love the technology that’s available to us now, it’s like magic.
Let’s say someone would love to release their music on Serein. What would it take for you to get interested in a project and eventually release it? What sounds are you looking for nowadays?
I’m not looking for anything too specific, but what gets me interested is music that has its own identity and personality. It doesn’t have to be totally unique or wildly original (I’m not looking for material that totally reinvents the language of music), but it must have something to set it apart. Like other forms of art, creating music is an opportunity to tell a story – work out what you want to say and translate your personal experience into sound. Weave life into your music and people will respond.
You make music yourself under different aliases (Hidden Rivers, Nest – you can hear them both in the mixtape), but you’re lucky enough to release your music on your own label. Making music is not a privilege anymore, so there’s a ton of music going unnoticed out there… what would your advice be to young artists, how can you make yourself heard?
If your motives are pure and you create for the right reasons, the rest will fall into place. Those who are truly creative find ways to be heard – they don’t need my advice, it will happen given time.
This year is going to be an intense one for Serein. What are you working on currently and what could you tell us about the upcoming releases?
Yes, we have quite a few releases in the pipeline and it’s a lot of work organising each one – the best kind of work though! Up next we an album by a Latvian guy who produces under the name Selffish. He’s made a beautiful, delicate album of minimal electronic music combined with acoustic instruments like grand piano and double bass. It’s a bit like some of the music that came out in the early 2000s on labels like Mille Plateaux, City Centre Offices and April Records, but with a sheen and polish that sounds really modern, I think the classical instrumentation helps with that too. It’s called He She Them Us and will be out on April 21st.
There’s more to come after that but we’re keeping those releases under wraps for now. If you’re interested then like us on Facebook and join our newsletter so you can stay up to date with what we’re doing.
You’ve just shared your first mixtape on Pacemaker, containing exclusively tracks released on Serein. What could you tell us about this selection, what should the listeners expect once they push play?
The only way to get to know us is to listen. Expect a slow pace, romance, some pretty melodies…
Dirty Disco Radio is a weekly podcast on DeepFM by Kono Vidovic – a versatile DJ, producer and radio host from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Showcasing the finest electronic sounds, Dirty Disco Radio recently celebrated its 200th episode. The latest show was created in Pacemaker so you too can savour Kono’s excellent music taste.
Carefully selected deep house tracks, neatly packed and mixed in two hours. He is not only a good storyteller when it comes to music but also when it comes to being interviewed. While you’re listening to his mixtape, read our conversation about discovering, curating & enjoying music.
When and how did you get interested in music?
I always believed I was born with music in my veins. Just like a lot of other artists, DJs etc. As a young boy I had a big interest in anything where sound came out of, especially when those sounds had a melody. 😉 As I grew up, the interest in music grew in me and I noticed at a very young age that I liked to entertain people with playing music for them. Whenever my mother was away for work she told me not to touch her music collection and hi-fi stereo installation. Guess what I did every time she went to work?! That was how I discovered a lot of great artists in the 80s, which set the tone for my musical journey. After discovering music, I discovered DJing. The way I started was pure coincidence, but it was clearly something that needed to happen. From there my journey went through a lot of different styles and genres, and made my sound what it is today.
What made you decide to start your own radio show? Please tell us a bit about the birth of Dirty Disco Radio.
My DJ career started long before the internet revolution. I have always recorded my own mixtapes on cassette, later on CDs and even on mini disc for a short time. Do you remember them? Haha, moments like these make me aware of my age, thanks a lot! 😉 In the years when the internet became very popular, different platforms to upload your DJ mixes to, started to rise. But on a whole different level than these platforms are nowadays, copyrights and things like that were much more complicated than now. I really tried almost all those music platforms. When Soundcloud came, it was finally a proper and easy platform specially made for DJs. It was the time when the Nu Disco genre came in, which grabbed my attention right away. As I loved that sound and noticed that it was very underground and many people did not know the genre yet, I started to upload monthly mixtapes on Soundcloud called ‘Dirty Future Disco’.
After 4 months of doing this, I had a lot of listeners and followers on my account who really liked the sound I was bringing. Then a radio promoter from France contacted me and asked me if I wanted to do a weekly radio show. First I had those thoughts that everyone would have: can I do that? Is my voice good enough? Probably not. But I figured that with all those DJ mixes out there it would be different and something people would like if somebody finally started to talk to them during a DJ set. Not that I was the first one to do this. There were a lot of online radio stations, but 90% of these did not play presented shows just DJ mixes, nothing more. So I just went for it, to see how it would work out – and Dirty Disco Radio was born.
Curating music takes a lot of time and energy – where do you discover music these days when the possibilities are endless and it feels like there’s more and more new music coming each day?
Another great thing of the internet, the limitless possibilities of discovering and making music. The internet is a place where you can go wherever you want, as long as you know where to walk. It gave talented producers new possibilities to create and upload music. The whole digital revolution made it easier to create music for everybody with just a small amount of equipment.
Before the internet and digital revolution I was digging for music in record stores, which could take up days. Those times where awesome. I was always hanging out at local recordshops, met a lot of other people, and dug up some very good records. When the way we consume music has changed, I figured there had to be more places to find music than just the commercial online record shops like Beatport etc. In the beginning of Dirty Disco Radio, I was digging around on a lot of ‘underground’ blogs, which took a lot of time and energy. But that way you can find music not everybody knows and create your own sound. Next to that, you’ll discover a lot of unknown talents. This way I could give their music a platform at the same time and promote their music to a bigger audience. Now after more than 4 years of Dirty Disco Radio, I built up a network. I still get music from all kinds of places like blogs, Soundcloud and online record shops. But a lot of the music that I play comes from my network, record labels that send me their demos, DJs and producer friends.
Next to Dirty Disco Radio, I also occasionally play gigs. As I have a big love for electronic music and that is what DDR stands for, I have love for all kinds of music. In the residency where I currently play, I play a lot of Soul, Funk, Disco old and new combined. Because my musical needs are so big, I work a lot with Spotify. This gives me the ability to always check for new music, find interesting tracks and artists. Wherever I am, Spotify is with me. When I’m in the gym or driving my car, I often listen to the weekly refreshed personal suggested music playlist that Spotify creates for me based on my likes. This is a real cool feature and allows me to curate new music. Whenever I hear something that I like, I add it to a playlist or save it so that Spotify knows what I like.
Do you still buy records or do you prefer the digital streaming more nowadays?
First I was a very stubborn DJ. When all the other DJs started to play with CDs, I still carried my 20 kilos heavy record box with me to every DJ gig. I did not want to surrender myself to the new technology. It took a while, but I noticed that not only CDs came in which made it very easy to bring music and even more music with you as a DJ, but also the digital, which opened up a lot of new possibilities. From there I decided to stop being stubborn and go with the flow. I still like records, they have something magic and that warm sound to them. But I also like convenience, so I’m a really big Spotify fan. I can create playlists on the go. Find new artists and music, and even curate music and play it for other people while I’m not actually playing by creating and sharing mixtapes so people can follow you and listen to them. I see a lot of possibilities in the coming years.
How did you discover Pacemaker?
I’m always in the search for new technology and solutions for my musical needs. With me being a premium Spotify user I searched for an app or device that made it possible to mix tracks straight from Spotify, not for the big PA’s but for small parties this could be very efficient. But also to test which tracks could work well together and to have fun. That is how I found out about Pacemaker. I found more apps and solutions that made it possible to use Spotify, but these were never sophisticated enough. When I met Pacemaker, I knew this was the one to stick with.
You’ve been using Pacemaker for quite some time now. What do you like the most about it and what would you like to improve?
I know there is a separate version for iPad and iPhone but unfortunately I don’t have an iPad, so I’m using it on my iPhone. I’m not using it for professional needs, except this time when I dedicated a Dirty Disco Radio show to the app. But can you see me playing in front of a crowd from my iPhone? 😉 Well never say never, I can imagine some situations where it would be very cool. But with friends at home or in a nice place that gives you that home feeling, Pacemaker can definitely add and create an atmosphere like no other app can.
When I show the app to my friends, they get excited right away and start downloading and installing it themselves to get into the mix, since it’s very approachable. You don’t even need to know the DJ basics or understand DJing at all. That is what makes it really cool. Everybody can do it. Now that there is the social aspect to it, it’s even better, you can now share mixtapes inside of the Pacemaker community. Another very cool thing is that you don’t even need to mix yourself, you can let the app do it for you. This is perfect for home parties, like birthdays and other cosy nights with friends and or family. You can curate some tracks with Spotify, make a playlist of them, open up Pacemaker, open the playlist and just hit play! Pacemaker starts mixing it up.
There is one thing that I would like to see as a new feature, it would be a great thing if you as a user could assign your own cue points for even better mixes.
Please tell us a bit about your selection for the mixtape you made for us. What can our users hear once they push play?
Once you hit play, it gets started. 😀 And with ‘it’ I mean really anything. The party, the cosy night, the listening pleasure. Dirty Disco Radio is a feeling that takes you on a ride, you can approach it how you please. If you want it as the music for a party, no problem, if you enjoy your laid-back moments of peace, that will work out as well. The genres that I curate within DDR are very broad but within the electronic genre. Expect Electronica, House Music, Deep Discofied sounds. DDR is about enjoying every moment of life to appreciate the small things. I try to motivate people to stay positive and healthy, just to get the best out of themselves. You can dance, you can have your favorite drink or a cup of tea, sit back and relax. Just make sure you have the volume up to an acceptable level and enjoy!
Kitsuné is back with a guest mixtape created by Los Angeles-based artist Allen French. Read our interview to find out more about this mysterious melody maker!
Allen French got more than a decade of experience as a DJ, which is a source of inspiration in finding his own voice when it comes to creating music. He fuses the finest sounding electronica with tribal beats, Latin grooves and deep bass and his signature sound also shines through the mixtape he created on Pacemaker from the Kitsuné Hot Stream Mix #2 playlist. His own track is also nicely hidden in there, make sure you check it out and in the meantime read our interview to find out more about this mysterious melody maker.
You’re from San Francisco but you’ve got French roots – as your artist name suggests too. In your music you’re blending various cultures and vibes from all over the world. What would you say your most defining musical influence was in your early years?
I think living and growing up in San Francisco in general had the biggest influential impact by introducing me to so many different cultures and music communities. There’s been a strong local music presence in SF going back to the 60’s and 70’s which has always been interesting and inspiring to me. I was fortunate to grow up on local hip hops acts like Souls of Mischief and house legends like Miguel Migs and Mark Farina amongst many other genres and scenes.
You’re living in LA. How do you manage to navigate the broad music scene over there? How would you compare it to the SF scene?
I usually just try and support the local scene as much as I can and I love checking out my favorite artists when they’re in town. SF still has a good scene and there are so many talented local DJs and musicians but there isn’t nearly the amount of shows and parties happening on a weekly basis compared to LA.
How easy do you think it is to make it these days in the music industry? What does it really take to stand out and make yourself heard?
I don’t think it’s an easy road at all these days to make it. There’s so much talent out there and with all this new technology at our finger tips you really need to stay ahead of the curve. I think as an artist / producer it’s really important to set yourself apart by creating a sound and brand that’s unique to you. It’s easy to get caught up in certain music trends that may be hot at the moment but I think ultimately if you just do you, the rest will follow.
Who or what would you name as your biggest inspiration when it comes to creating or playing music nowadays?
My uncle who I actually never got the chance to meet is a big inspiration for me at the moment. He was an engineer during the rock revolution that took place in San Francisco and recorded acts like Fleetwood Mac and Grateful Dead. My family has been digging deeper into his life recently and it’s been really inspiring finding out more about his story.
If you would have to describe your music for someone who’s never heard it, how would you describe it in 5 words?
Warm, exotic, modern, dreamy, sensual
You’ve recently released your single ‘Nova Vida’ on Kitsuné Hot Stream. How did you get in touch with them?
Kitsuné had discovered one of my previous singles ‘Fiendin’ that I released last summer and when the time came to release Nova Vida, i knew I had to share it with them.
What are your plans for this year? More studio work and gigs?
I’ll be spending a lot of time in the studio this year for sure and I’m also looking forward to playing more DJ sets come spring / summer.
Tell us a bit about the selection in your mixtape, how did you pick these tracks?
It was tough narrowing down so many great tracks! At the end of the day I had to go with the songs that struck a chord with me the most. I think the tracks I chose all coincide with each other in some way which was also important.
It was the first time you’ve created a mixtape in Pacemaker. How do you like the app? What would you improve?
It was fun and really easy to use! If there could be a way to automate EFX during a transition or set loops that could be cool…