When James Priestley and Giles Smith kicked off their secretsundaze party 11 years ago, they couldn’t possibly have foreseen the impact it would have on the city of London. Slowly building their brand, their daytime parties grew from the confines of 93 Feet East to spread to other clubs around the capital and further afield, to the rest of the UK and Europe. They have long championed their personal tastes, something that is reflected in their peerless lineups and more recently their record label as well. Previously known for his work with Dan Berkson, like Smith, Priestley has himself been contributing to the label. First appearing on their mix CDs and album samplers, he last year released two well received 12″s with MarcoAntonio Spaventi. LWE got in touch with Priestley to see how you keep a party popular after 11 years, what some of his personal highlights have been along the way, and how he collaborates in the studio. He also put together our 159th exclusive podcast, which — if you were in attendance at the secretsundaze summer opening party yesterday — will be a familiar reminder of Priestley’s expertise behind the decks.
LWE Podcast 159: James Priestley (54:55)
01. Typesun, “Heart Maths” (Peverelist Remix) [Root Elevation]
02. Julian Neumann, “Unbearable” [Kann Records]
03. Lady E, “Seems To Me” [Thug Records]
04. Orpheus, “Waiting For Your Call” [Sequencias]
05. Steven Tang, “Verged” [Aesthetic Audio]
06. Mr. G, “Conscious Mindfood” [Phoenix G]
07. A Guy Called Gerald, “Groove Of The Ghetto” [Bosconi Records]
08. E.R.P., “Lunar Ruins” [Harbour City Sorrow]
09. BLM, “Sudden Death” [Secretsundaze]
10. Amir Alexander, “Don’t Go” [Secretsundaze*]
11. Ron Jason, “Cosmic Paradise” (Larry Heard Underground Remix)
12. Soul Capsule, “Lady Science” (NYC Sunrise) [Trelik]
* denotes tracks which, as of the time of publishing, are unreleased
LWE interviewed Giles in 2011 and he mentioned that you guys have known each other since about the age of 15. Did you both share a love of dance music back then?
James Priestley: Yeah, that’s right. I was around 14 when I first started to discover dance music. Before then I was quite heavily into jazz, both playing and performing and going to quite a few gigs and concerts with my Dad, but it was around that time that I got the bug and made a move over to dance or electronic music really. A lot of my discoveries came initially from a pretty rampant scene of swapping mixtapes with people at school, checking out some local radio stations and then making my first forays into going to clubs and raves. Some locally such as the Love of Life parties at Cambridge Corn Exchange (later at Kelsey Kerridge) and further a field to places like Club UK in Wandsworth, Labyrinth on Dalston Lane, Milwaukees and The Sanctuary in the Milton Keynes area. At the time I had absolutely no idea how this music was created which was all part of the charm and attraction really. I would avidly collect flyers for the parties, I have a dope collection somewhere probably in my dad’s attic. I spent any spare money I had on going to these parties and soaking it all up. It wasn’t until 2 or 3 years later that I actually bought turntables and started playing and collecting records.
Your secretsundaze parties have been running for over ten years now. When they started were you holding down a regular job? How long before you knew that doing the parties and music could be a career?
I’d considered studying some kind of music course at university but in those days, if you wanted to go to a decent university, which I did, you basically had to study classical music, which obviously wasn’t very appealing to me. So I studied Economics and Business at Nottingham University but within the first term, I began to get heavily involved in the music scene within the university and the city as a whole, and it was from that time that I knew somehow I would forge a career in music. I still graduated but all the way through university, music was my life really, and my studies were on the side. So I was putting on parties, DJing a lot, doing some production courses, I even set up a magazine/fanzine with my friend George, called Big Daddy. Keb Darge was our first major interview, it was mind-blowing speaking to him, such a dude. That was back in ‘99.
I worked at Selectadisc record store in Nottingham all through university and when I moved to London, I started working at their store on Berwick Street before getting a full time job at a record distribution company called Timewarp. That has been my only ever regular job since university. I started working there the same week we launched secretsundaze, which was every week at the time. It was pretty hardcore holding them both down. I would come in every Monday having lost my voice, like clockwork, around 8pm on the Sunday. My job was selling records over the phone to stores so, not having a voice, that didn’t go down too well with my dragon of a boss. I lasted there a year before deciding that I could support myself on my DJing and the little money that was coming in from secretsundaze then. Haven’t ever looked back since.
What have been some of your personal highlights of the party over the past decade?
Oh gosh, so many. I have to say in those early days, when secretsundaze was quite small and I was generally partying a lot, I knew or was hanging out with a ridiculously high percentage of the people coming to the party. Those days in Shoreditch were really something else in my mind; I’m talking around 2003-2004. I also lived in the area and it just seemed like a massive adult’s adventure playground — mad days. The feeling of playing records at your own party to so many people you know and rocking it with them, well, that was pretty special. I remember Johnno from Bugged Out came up to me one afternoon at The Poet when I was warming up playing loads of Lindstrom & Prins Thomas records, which I was heavily turned on to at the time, smiling saying, “I think you must have the best job in London, James.” It really felt like that. The days at The Poet were glorious in my eyes and the place and times will always hold a special place in my heart. Similarly some of the bigger parties we did on the roof of Canvas. For their scale and audacity, they were off the hook too.
Internationally, some of the first parties we held in Ibiza were incredible as well. They came a couple of years later but so many people traveled for them from London/UK; they still retained that intimacy despite the numbers. There was one special party where Ricardo Villalobos played for us in September 2005 at the Blue Marlin. Unsurprisingly the place was absolutely road blocked. We had 2500 come, all the roads around were literally blocked and I closed the party after him. That was definitely a highlight too. There was this massive street party we organized in Shoreditch for a few years, they were off the hook too and certainly the biggest crowd I’ve ever played to — more than 5000 people. It was pretty insane, that shit would never happen now. It’s easy to think of these early days but the party is still going so strong and there are still so many amazing moments. The 10th anniversary party we did in 2011 with Moodymann was in my mind, some of the craziest and strongest energy and warmth we’ve ever had in the last few years — testament to all the older heads and fresher faces that have embraced what we do.
Your first tracks were with Dan Berkson, who you had already done a few remixes with. Had you been producing on your own before these remixes?
Not really, no. During uni I used to go to on these courses at Hyson Green Boys Club, which was in the area I lived. I was the only white kid to go there and it was around the time that UK hip-hop was really exploding. Big up Courtney! I did two courses I think, one learning how to use an Akai sampler, and one basically learning how to use a big mixing desk. Through various means, mostly my DJing and promotions I managed to save up about £5k that I wanted to put towards a decent computer and studio equipment. At the time, things were moving quite quickly technology wise, particularly soundcards. I was not all that technologically savvy (and still not) and I found it hard to get my head around it to be honest. Stupidly, in fear of spending the cash on the wrong gear and it becoming quickly obsolete, I never got around to buying anything and sadly never really got the production bug myself. That again was in 1999 so quite a shame really. I’ve since done a few basic edits in Ableton, etc, but nothing of any note. So in terms of production, I’m totally reliant on working with people like Dan and Marco.
How did you and Dan meet?
We met in Shoreditch, I think at a secretsundaze party first. He had recently moved to UK and to London and our paths just crossed. We had a lot in common, musically as well as other interests; we got to know each other better and decided to start doing some music together.
More recently you’ve released a couple of 12¹s with Marco Spaventi. How do the two differ in their approach in the studio?
They have a lot of similarities but also a lot of differences. Both of them have a penchant for vintage synthesizers and gear which I find much more satisfying working with, not only for the process but for the results too. I think the main difference is the speed with which they work. Dan, like me, is quite a perfectionist and some of those early tracks we did, both “Chariots” and “The Source,” we both labored over. I definitely think you can hear that in some of the details and the final result, Dan does get a really quite polished high-end sound.
Marco is a bit more of a jammer — he just loves to jam! In fact, I have to really reign him in sometimes as otherwise we could just be in the studio for hours wigging out on tracks. That’s great fun but then going back through some of these super long takes and trying to find bits that work, and editing them, can be quite tedious. I think Marco is possibly more into the use of samples than Dan and is a bit free-er in his approach, whereas Dan is more into editing and sound design. So two quite different approaches. The other main thing is that Dan and I were working in Logic for our writing whereas Marco and I were using Ableton; that’s a totally different mindset and vibe.
I’m interested in the Speed release that you did with Marco for the secretsundaze label. I understand the release was homage to the club night Speed at Mars Bar. What are your memories of the club?
Actually I don’t think I ever went to any of the Speed parties at Mars Bar. I was more of a Swerve boy, which came slightly later and which I went to fairly religiously. The naming of that track was quite retrospective really. In the writing process the Maya Angelou sample popped into my head and seemed really fitting. Plus to me that track does have a lot of the same elements of the Speed/Swerve-esque music of that time, albeit with different drum patterns and tempos. But in a world that is so house, house and more fucking house, as the Faith crew and Dixon coined — which don’t get me wrong, is great — I just wanted to give a nod to a different era and world and one that was certainly very inspirational to me as an artist. I can’t underestimate what I gained from the likes of Fabio and LTJ Bukem at quite a crucial turning point in my life, and that is certainly one of the reasons I’m sat doing this interview and mix for you guys today.
Can you tell us a bit about the label? Do you and Giles curate the label exclusively? What are the criteria for the releases on the label?
The label first started back in 2007 as a platform for the compilation series that Giles and I did. But more recently we have started to release singles and yes, the two of us curate the label exclusively. There is no fixed criteria as such. Of course, both Giles and I have to be really into it. We don’t compromise on that; i.e. one of us might chose to A&R one release, the next the other etc. We want the music that we release to be a reflection of the scope of sounds that form what we do and that secretsundaze stands for musically. Whether that be the more classic deep house of Brawther, that was our first release, or the pairing of that material to the George Fitzgerald remix which has a definite more modern/UK slant. We’re definitely keen to move the music forward and certainly don’t want to release a sleight of deep house records for example. We’re definitely looking for something more edgy and contemporary but that will also hopefully have some kind of timeless appeal to it.
Up until now we’ve worked exclusively with artists signed to our sister booking agency, The Secret Agency. We see the label as a platform to further their development as artists, while strengthening the sense of family around what we do. We’re also keen to release music by UK artists. Over our history as a party we’ve always championed music from non-UK artists, booking many for their first performances in UK, whether from U.S. or Europe, but we feel there is a lot of home grown talent these days, right here in UK and we wanna support and nurture that as best as possible. You only have to look as far as Ethyl, Flori, BLM, and Youandewan, who have all released with us to wide acclaim on the label, to see that. That said, if we were to hear, be sent or pick-up something that didn’t fall within the above and we were both really into then we certainly wouldn’t be shy of releasing it.
As for the party, secretsundaze is held these days at different locations. How do you ensure that each party fulfills the same standards and meets everyone’s expectations?
Planning is key really. Developing close, strong and trustful working relationships with the venues themselves, as well as building on our experiences and learning from over the years. I have to say that despite semi-spearheading the off-location scene here in London, we’re actually turning our backs on this now. When we started we could get away with murder but these days we live in a very different society here in London. Although the process of Temporary Events Notices made using off-locations for small numbers of people easier for a while, doing events on a larger scale was difficult, and now the authorities are reining it in. It’s a real shame in many ways but hopefully it will mean we will get some more decent clubs opening in London again. Only this week Cable was the last in a long list of high profile club closures here.
If you’re organizing an outside party, pretty much anywhere in the Western world that I know of, of course you are going to sometimes have to compromise on the level of sound that you can run to compared to an inside venue with no windows etc. — that’s the deal right? Most people aren’t stupid and realize that, although you always get a few of course. We always strive for the best we can, but there has to be a certain level of responsibility if you’re ever going to get any longevity out of a space or spot. You could really push it the first time you do a party there, but cause such a fuss that you might fuck it up, not only for yourself as a promoter, but also for the venue too. As a venue owner in the past myself, I’m obviously sensitive to that.
I have to say that our good friend Kristophe who was one of the founding fathers of secretsundaze, still looks after all of our event production and does it damn well. Plus we have a great team with Jozef, Ali, and the guys helping run the events. This takes the pressure off Giles and I, allowing us to concentrate on spinning ourselves and hosting the party.
There are always new parties and crews coming through in London too. What does secretsundaze have planned for 2013 to make sure they stand out from the rest?
For the first time ever, we made an announcement earlier in the year detailing our whole summer season, in terms of the line-ups, dates and venues. We’ve always veered away from doing this as we wanted to keep the excitement levels up, not knowing when and where the next party is. But in the UK, and London especially, there is now a very strong culture of advanced ticket sales and people are announcing and selling their events far longer into the future. So we decided to go along that route this year and to have all that information out there at once. It looked and felt great; people can really see where we are at musically, in terms of our bookings and the way we get across the breadth of the music we love and want to push.
I think something that does set ourselves aside from other promoters is, especially over the last few years where we’ve been booking more than one or two guest artists, that we’ve developed a real curatorial aspect to our programming. We very rarely for example would have more than one artist from any particular crew or label perform at the same event for us. We think very hard about the programming of a party from the opening to closing sets, the flow is key to us. It’s not just about booking X, Y & Z DJs, throwing them together and hoping it will work. We select artists that both can contrast as well as compliment each other, often from different territories and even of different age. For example for our opening party (yesterday) we have Derrick May, Soundstream, then London based, relatively young guy, Midland playing during the day.
A lot of other London promoters are just booking label showcases perhaps, which while it can be cool, I feel doesn’t show much imagination and doesn’t always have that range of appeal. If you’re booking quite different artists the crowd you’re going to appeal to that will come will be quite varied too, and we all know that diversity within the crowd of a party is paramount.
What can you tell us about the mix you’ve put together for us?
I actually put the mix together, in terms of selecting the tracks and order of them, two or three months ago. But because of other commitments, I only got around to recording it yesterday. That part came pretty naturally and I really just selected from some favorite records I’ve been playing for the last year or so. I certainly wasn’t trying to be too upfront with it or anything like that. Artist-wise it’s mostly drawing on UK and U.S. artists, which is very much where I’m at the moment; some younger dudes and some more heritage guys still at the top of their game.
The third track is by Ben “Cozmo D” Cenac with his wife Yvette “Lady E” Cenac on vocals. It’s called “Seems To Me” and whether it related to their own relationship or not, I’m not sure, but it’s a tale of a man being a naughty boy, staying out, getting into trouble and basically getting kicked out the house. The record or song is amazing and it formed the basis of the inspiration for the rest of the mix. It’s not something I necessarily set out to do, but from that cue, I felt a real narrative in the mix, a back and forth between an imaginary couple. For example the next track is this fairly muscular yet emotive acid thing that I feel is his response to her words and which eventually drowns her out! There’s a lot of sensitivity in the records I’ve chosen, and once I got that idea in my head, I couldn’t get it out and so on that level, it totally works for me. There’s quite a few vocals in there, like “No More Mind Games,” “Don’t Go,” etc. Hopefully you’ll get the picture. If it was to finish on the penultimate track, this Larry Heard remix which is quite dark in it’s tone, I feel it would have been somewhat of a depressing ending but with “Lady Science” it definitely resolves things on a positive note. The mix was recorded at home using 2 x Technics SL-1200MK2s, Vestax PCV-275 mixer and 1 Pioneer CDJ-1000MK3 (used for the unreleased Amir Alexander track).
And what can we expect from James Priestley over the next year?
Maintaining my focus on everything secretsundaze, so the events, label and our booking agency, The Secret Agency. Quite a lot of touring is already booked in for the second half of the year with a number of shows in Ibiza already confirmed, including secretsundaze on the main terrace of Space on Tuesday May 28th with Efdemin, Portable live, and Tama Sumo. We’re also busy working on the next edition of Go Bang!, the mini-festival we launched last year which again will take place on Sunday August 25th here in London, day and night. Other than that, I hope to find some more time to head out to Amsterdam to continue my work with my production partner there, Marco Antonio as well as maybe forging some new partnerships here closer to home. And on a more personal level, I’m getting married towards the end of the year so I’m definitely gonna have my work cut out keeping my wife-to-be happy over the next few months.
LWE’s 74th podcast was a one-take, all-vinyl set of textbook deep house by Secretsundaze part-owner Giles Smith. Be sure to add it to your collection before it’s archived this Friday, January 27th.]]>
The easy and popular thing for producers to do at the present is write a house track that references Chicago’s golden age by adopting its palette. Emulating the 707 drum kit, 808 claps and Juno-6 bass affords some of Chi-town’s gritty immediacy, although these sorts of tracks so often enter one ear and out the other, replaced by the next crop of epigones or someone’s vintage house collection. It behooves producers, then, to look past the building blocks and study the more intricate rhythm patterns in which they were originally used. Doing so might not yield something staggeringly original, but the results have a better chance of being memorable, especially among bland peers. UK duo Ethyl & Flori take this tact on their Shelter single for Secretsundaze.
Where previous E&F collaborations for Freerange Records, Quintessentials, and Fear of Flying landed on the functional side of deep-house, “Shelter” is altogether more lyrical and vintage sounding. It glides on the backs of swooping synth-strings and their mellifluous piano counterparts, but bears a toughness imparted by early Dance Mania-influenced percussion — an array of stop-start shakers, nagging hi-hats and shrugging tom patterns. This pairing seems to beckon to the weary with its melodies and protect them with drums, all while hearkening back to the time when Chicago’s well-loved club Shelter first existed. While veteran producer Rolando likely remembers that period, his remix is more contemporary and streamlined in nature. He breaks the original’s melodies into pieces that arise from a stream of insistent hand percussion and ostinato tones, occasionally congealing into the familiar motif. Shelter finds Ethyl & Flori exhibiting considerable growth as producers and provides for a broader range of jocks, continuing Secretsundaze’s run of quality singles since turning its focus to artist-led releases.]]>
London party-cum-label Secretsundaze follows up its promising debut artist EP from Brawther with a turn from recently quiet house duo Two Armadillos (one of whom, Giles Smith, also heads up the party and its label). Like that first release, People of the World is pleasantly reserved, dressing down the usual London excitability in favour of pinstripes and pocket squares. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of overtly jazzy touches in my house music, but the potentially gimmicky acoustic bass line on “Warriors Return” packs a fierce low-end bump that sounds as if it’s going to knock the smoothly trucking track askew. It never does, of course, but the tension is thrilling every time that bass goes on the ascent.
The two tracks on the flipside are less acid jazz but no less classy: “People Of The World” takes broken shards of a string section, smooths off the edges and sends them sailing over a gently bumping bass line (what Onra might sound like in a cocktail lounge), at least until the hi-hats pull the track into more straightforward territory. The EP’s least notable but still solid track, “Night Ridin” funnels a fidgety bass line below a resonant chord riff that sounds like it’s constantly doubling back on itself, a slightly psychedelic touch that lends the tune a new layer to chew on. People Of The World isn’t about to change the world or the minds of the people in it, but it’s a solid three-tracker of no-frills house, perfectly appropriate fodder for a Sunday dance party.]]>
As one half of Secretsundaze with James Priestly, Giles Smith has been providing London with a soundtrack of house and techno via their bi-weekly parties for the better part of ten years. From modest beginnings, Secretsundaze has slowly grown to become an established quality brand in the saturated party market of England’s capital. Their Sunday afternoon events have played a major part in day-time clubbing, drawing in guests from all over the world to play at the ever-changing, outdoor and secret venues. They have also taken the parties on the road, sharing their intimate, colorful vibes all over Europe. In more recent years Smith has also been stepping in to the studio with fellow Englishman Martin Dawson as Two Armadillos, with the pair enjoying critical acclaim for their run of deep, organic house on labels like Motivbank, Dessous, Buzzin’ Fly and Sthlmaudio. With Secretsundaze about to celebrate their tenth birthday and their Secret Agency curating room three at Fabric on Feb. 19th, LWE caught up with him at a local Dalston eatery to talk about the past and future of the parties and what’s up next for Two Armadillos. Smith also recorded LWE’s 74th podcast, a one-take, all vinyl set that encapsulates why he’s sought after around the globe.
LWE Podcast 74: Giles Smith (71:43)
01. Hector Pizarro, “Agua Loca” (Gowentgone’s Spreadoutintospace Remix – Beatless Version) [Vidab Records]
02. Christo, “The Trust is Gone” [Atjazz]
03. DJ Jus-Ed, “Maryland Jam” [Strength Music Recordings]
04.Wamdue Kids, “Echoes and Instruments” [Guidance]
05.RNDM, “Hideaway Lane” (Dub) [Laid]
06. Anthony “Shake” Shakir, “Travellers” (Mrsk Remix) [Rush Hour Recordings]
07. Walt J, “Reborn 1″ (DJ Qu’s Journey Towards Birth Remix) [Petite]
08. Spirit Catcher, “Voo Doo Knight” [Moodmusic]
09. Jovonn, “Definition of a Track” (Two Armadillos Remix) [Late Night Audio*]
10. Two Armadillos, “Ronin” [white*]
11. Tornado Wallace, “Always Twirling” [Delusions of Grandeur]
12. Fingers Inc., “Never No More Lonely” [Jack Trax]
13. Tyrez, “Technical Love” [Dolly]
14. Pawel, “Crillon” (Sistrum Remix By Patrice Scott) [Dial]
15. YMC, “Tranceatlantic” [Yoshitoshi Recordings]
* denotes tracks which, as of the time of publishing, are unreleased
First of all let’s talk about Secretsundaze, how long have you and James been doing the parties for?
Giles Smith: This next summer the party will have been going for ten years. So we started in 2001. It’s quite unbelievable that we’ve been doing it this long. We’re planning on doing some parties in London, but these days we are looking to do more and more international things. So after ten years of doing the parties we are going to start broadening our horizons and doing different things. I mean we have the agency, the Secret Agency which is quite a big concern of ours; we have about fifteen artists on it. And the label as well, we’re planning on a big year for the label, we’ve got a number of releases planned for that. Because in the past it was more for compilations. We did do some vinyl samplers lifted from the mix albums, but now we’ve just taken on a new label manager and we’ve got the first releases planned for April. Obviously the party was the grass roots for us but looking ahead I don’t think we’ll keep doing them every two weeks, we’re not so young any more.
So what was the party like when it first started?
We did it every two weeks on a Sunday, from 2pm to 10:30pm. So it’s been going like that since right from the beginning. We didn’t have any grand designs when we first started doing it, it was just that old cliché of doing a party for our friends and playing the music we liked in a nice space. It started in the old loft at 93 Feet East which is well since gone. But it became quite peripatetic because we lost a few venues due to sound pollution and complaints and stuff like that.
When did the agency come about?
We only started it last year so it’s a relatively new thing for us. We have fifteen artists on our books exclusively, so we look after a nice range of cats from within our sphere of music. Some older heads like Chez Damier, Delano Smith, Patrice Scott, through to newer people like Wbeeza and Ethyl & Flori. We’re looking to grow the agency and as much as we love deep house and U.S. house, we’re not going to confine ourselves to just those styles. We want to branch out and take on some people with different sounds too, so recently we’ve taken on Adam Marshall and Sven Weisemann.
How long have you been DJing?
I started when I was about 20 so I guess for about 13-14 years. I was actually buying house music from the age of 15 and had been buying vinyl so I knew quite a lot about it already. I had never planned to become a DJ, it happened quite organically. My friends all pushed me in to doing it because they knew how into music I was, but I hadn’t really considered it because I came from a fairly traditional school and had always thought I needed to conform and get a proper job. So it wasn’t really on my radar for a long time, but I started doing it and really enjoyed it. I was actually working in fashion PR for a very short amount of time before I got the sack for the cardinal sin of being rude to a journalist. But that ended up being a really good thing for me because it gave me a kick up the ass. I had already been DJing a little bit but I focused on my music more and more after that.
How long have you and James known each other?
We’ve known each since we were about 15. We both went to a school in Cambridge called The Perse and I went there from 7-18. So James started when he was about 14 or 15, so we’ve known each other for nearly 20 years. We were both more into bands and indie stuff at the time. I loved the Creation stuff, My Bloody Valentine, the teenage classic bands like The Smiths and The Cure. But around that time of being 15 I remember going with some other friends to a couple of raves. My oldest friend Jimmy who I’ve known since I was three, he was in the year above me and when you’re 15, hanging out with someone even one year older than you means you do very different things. So he introduced me to raves and doing that sort of thing, and that was it really.
And how about producing, when did you start doing that?
Production is a relatively new thing for me, only in the last five years really. I mean I’m definitely more a DJ than a producer, whereas Martin (Dawson, Giles’ production partner in Two Armadillos) is a highly trained engineer. I make no bones about that either because some people skirt around the fact that they don’t actually engineer their own tracks. I have had a major role in everything we’ve done, but I haven’t actually engineered it. Martin has been doing it for 15 years so he knows exactly what he’s doing. It was one of those things where I could have spent lots of time on my own, which I didn’t really have with doing the parties and everything. But we met and he asked me to work with him, because he liked the style of music I played and he wanted a different outlet I guess for his music. So we did our first EP for Dessous, which we completed after about three or four days. I don’t personally feel it stands up the best of what we’ve done, but it was apparent immediately there was some chemistry between us. We’ve pretty much just finished off our album, which we haven’t signed to anyone yet. We were approached by a few labels who prospectively asked us to do an album, and instead of agreeing to sign to any of them it just gave us the impetus to go ahead and make one. So we just finished a couple of weeks ago and have pretty much everything done, though we may get a couple of vocalists in for a couple of the tracks.
Did you consider putting it out on Secretsundaze?
I think for an album it needs to come out on a more established label. I think Secretsundaze will become a really good label, but an album needs quite a significant investment to promote it properly. It’s different for an EP, you can put one out on a half decent label and with some brand awareness the music will do the talking, but I beg to differ with albums. Certain labels are known for putting out good albums and they get good distribution around the world, so for our first album we want to go for another label. Also just to have some third party avocation as well.
Have you and James ever worked on music together?
We did once and it worked pretty well. Toby Neumann did a mix for Secretsundaze a few years ago and one of the bigger tracks on the album was by him and Onur Ozer as Sensitiva and the track was “Viola Tricolor.” We remixed that track for the mix and that was kind of the peak of the mix. The track was unsigned at the time of the mix so we wanted to put it out and remixed it too. So we did that but we do have pretty separate and defined tastes in our music, even though there is quite a bit of crossover in what we like and play. So I guess we don’t rule out working together again but we choose not to right now.
Who are some of the people you have on your first releases for the Secretsundaze label?
We’ve got a young French guy called Brawther, he’s a protégé of Chez Damier. I had put this track of his on a podcast I did a couple of years ago and it was his first track he’d done as Brawther and it was on Chez’s Balance label. It was called “Stardusts and Asteroids” and was this beautiful deep house/techno track. He got in touch with me after the mix came out and we stayed in touch. He’s got a deep knowledge of the music for someone so young and is an excellent DJ as well. So he’s doing the first release, then the next one will be Two Armadillos, and that’s quite a Detroity, anthemic track, which is a lot more techno-ish than we usually make, but there are still live elements in there like a stand-up bass and that sort of thing. Then we also have an EP from Ethyl & Flori, a very promising UK duo and they’ve already had some good releases out too.
Tell us about the mix you’ve done for us.
Well it was pretty classic in the sense that it was recorded in my bedroom, doing it in one take, which is how I like to record mixes. I know it’s easier to do them using something like Ableton but I prefer to make it like a proper DJ set. The most time I take is in thinking about it and programming it, picking tracks that are going to work well together.
What can we expect from you in the next year?
Two Armadillos have also got a few other releases planned for the coming months. We’ve done a remix for Jovonn who is a bit of a US house legend and has made some amazing records. He’s just done a track for Late Night Audio, so we’re doing a remix of that. We’ve got the EP on Secretsundaze and then we’ll be doing one for Chez’s Balance label too. We’re also planning on doing a Two Armadillos live set later in the year. Hopefully once we have the album out the way we can get our heads down and start focusing on that. It’s a bit of a pipe dream at this stage but we’d really like to include some vocalists for the live set too. We do have a few people we’ve worked with in the past and it would be good to have that extra live feel too.