Dylan Griffin: AU Underground, DJing & Why Melbourne is Better

by J-Slyde

In the lead-up to our August edition of Prognosis, J-Slyde sat down with Dylan Griffin for a quick Q&A to grill the man on everything from the reasons behind his recent move to Melbourne through to future plans for his hugely successful podcast series, AU Underground. Read on for more!

Dylan Griffin

You’ve just recently moved from Sydney to Melbourne. What spurred on the move? It wasn’t just because Prognosis is Melbourne based, was it?

18 months in Melbourne town has flown by and it now feels like home, my other love besides music is wine, and the wine scene and the electronic music scene is more vibrant here and more to my taste and I wanted the change.

There’s big rivalry between Syd and Melb, have you noticed much difference as far as the electronic music scene goes? Melbourne’s is way more vibrant, right?

Haha, putting words in my mouth. Im going to try and be the diplomat here… they are different scenes both with their pitfalls and highlights, for example the dance floors can be slightly more energetic in Sydney than Melbourne, but in Melbourne the people are refreshingly less concerned about the hype and the look than the more image conscious Sydneysiders. And lets just say I connect a lot better with the music coming out of Melbourne and have made some very dear friends that made me feel like I was finally home.

In the decade since you’ve been DJing at a professional level you’ve manage to rack up a huge list of support slots for a bevvy of globally respected artists such as Max Cooper, Gabriel Ananda, Boris Brejcha and Kosmas Epsilon, to name but a few. Who were some of your favourites to support?

I’ve been very fortunate with some of those support bookings. Mostly for the sentimental value, the highlight would be my first role supporting a big international and that was warming up for Kosmas Epsilon (when he was at the height of his popularity) many many years ago that Subsonic had booked me for. I was super excited and with a packed room right at peak time trying my best to show some restraint in a heaving club.

Many will be familiar with your AU Underground Podcast series which has now been going for just over 2 years. Can you explain the premise behind the series and why you started it?

After working closely with record labels for many years I had made some great connections and relationships with producers… I also felt like I had gotten to know the Australian dance music scene intimately across the 3 major states NSW, VIC and QLD. I wanted to do something with that and coupled with the desire of having something of my own whilst still being a big proponent of Australian electronica. At the time there was also no podcast series firmly focused on exclusively Australian producers and DJs and I wanted to fill that void.

You’ve featured some hugely talented local acts and artists since AU Underground’s inception. Without picking favourites, can you pinpoint a few recent highlights? or a good place for a new listener to start?

Ignoring what I see as my then droll and nervous presentation I think 002 Trinity is a great place to start and still one of my favourites, other recent highlights include YokoO, Robbie Lowe and Christian Vance.

What’s planned for future editions? Can you let us in on who you’ll be featuring next?

Dean Benson from well known Melbourne crew Stable Music is up next. And AU Underground is going to take a focus on festivals and event crews over the summer too.

Do you think AU Underground has helped progress and open doors for your DJing career, or do you look at them as totally separate entities?

That wasn’t the purpose but it would be silly not to see that AUU has helped raise my DJ profile, no doubt, and the two go hand in hand. I listen to loads of music and do test and feature local producers in a lot of my sets.

Your DJ career has seen you not only traveling interstate, but also playing internationally in places like India and Thailand. What has been your favourite international gig so far?

Kolour in Bangkok has to be one of my favourite events, amazingly professional, sold out shows in unique and incredible venues, whether it be surfing wave machines at the show or playing a gig 20 stories high on a rooftop to a thousand people, these guys know how to throw a party !

Dylan Griffin Live @ Eclipse

What were some of the main differences when playing to overseas crowds?

Male to Female ratios on the dance floor can be a big one, especially so in India where it is so male dominant. And of course the taste in music can vary quite a bit.

Which leads me to my next question… Popular genres and “in” sounds can differ vastly from country to country, do you find yourself adapting your sound when you play overseas? or, on an even smaller scale, interstate gigs?

I’ll definitely take a little bit more cheese to some parts of Asia as back up in-case some of the more underground sounds aren’t as easily digestible, haha. Melbourne certainly has a different palate. I also notice Queensland, particularly Cairns, do go for the more progressive and up tempo style sounds than the other states, I think due to the big influence the Open Records imprint has up there. I really like the variety and change between countries and states to be honest, it can give me a chance to play something I wouldn’t normally play and in some cases take more risks.

What can we expect from your feature set at Prognosis on Aug 23rd?

Im gonna dig up a few old classics I think and put them into a fresher context with some new stuff I’m really digging at the moment as well some unreleased Subsonic Music tracks that I haven’t tested yet!

And last but not least – top five tunes that have influenced your DJing the most?

That is an almost impossible question, hahaha… shit! So here is 6 instead, of mostly all old tracks that inspired me and helped shape the way I wanted to move people at different times over the years..

Trentemoller – Moan (Trentemoller Remix)

Joris Voorn – Deep side of the moog

Layo & Bushwacka! – The big dream (Martin Buttrich Remix)

Stephan Bodzin & Marc Romboy – Ferdinand

Extrawelt – Soopertrack

Stimming – Melodica

For more on Dylan be sure to check out his Soundcloud and AU Underground.
You can catch him playing at Prognosis on August 23rd @ Loop

Return of The Murphy!

by J-Slyde

Simon MurphyRight hand man to Substance/Prognosis and generally awesome bloke, Simon Murphy, pulled up stumps and headed off over eight months ago on a trip to the northern reaches of Australia. Some said it was a pilgrimage, others mused that he was chasing love and some just thought he was running from the police. Whatever the reason it was, Murphy has now returned home, and whilst he may be slightly thinner and a little more tanned, his love and passion for music and life in general has never been stronger. J-Slyde caught up with the man to talk about his epic journey and what’s in plan now that he’s back in ‘Burn city.

Disconnected, with little-to-no access to the internet, and thousands of miles away from nightclubs and the music scene you love so much, one might question the reasoning behind your trip. What spurred on the decision to journey so far away from home?

Adventure. I had been working for the same company for over 7 years, going through the motions like a drone and living for the weekends. Things were great but as cliche as it sounds, I knew there must be more out there for me. My fiance had been working contracts as a nurse in remote indigenous communities for almost 3 years. This work and the stories that accompanied it always captured my imagination. Rather than continuously being away from each other for weeks or months at a time, I took a leap of faith, quit my job and headed north looking for adventure. Thankfully the universe stepped up to the plate with some assistance as everything seemed to fall into place. I got a great job working in the community that my partner was stationed and we set up base for the next 8 months. The work was tough but incredibly rewarding. A side of our own country that few see or fully comprehend. As well as working we had a bunch of time to travel, explore, hike etc so we really made the most of our time. Initially I thought I was taking a risk leaving my secure job etc but the gamble paid off in ways I could never have imagined.

So the North of Australia is somewhat of a desolate place full of snakes, crocodiles and other dangerous animals. Manage to get yourself in any hairy predicaments?

Thankfully the only hairy predicament I found myself in was being a full day’s return trip from the closest hairdresser with only a set of blunt clippers and a very patient fiance to tame my fro. In all seriousness though, there are a million and one ways a person can get themselves in some form of danger but a little common sense and preparation should alleviate the majority of these. This city boy’s camping expertise and survival skills extended about as far as a dedicated addiction to doofing and I lived to tell the tale. I saw crocs, snakes, spiders and just about every animal you can think of but these things just made the trip even more special. As someone who has done their fair share of overseas travel, one of the most rewarding parts of this year has been seeing just how amazing our own county is. I implore anyone with even the slightest desire to travel to move Australia up on their list because it has so much to offer.

And did you get a chance to experience much of the local night-life? Any Simon Murphy guest DJ slots at the local pub?

Living 4 1/2 hours from the closest major centre (Katherine) and 8 hours from Darwin meant that the closest thing I got to nightlife or DJing was running a disco for the community at the local primary school. Using a single speaker complete with hideous distortion, a laptop laden with dance-pop-rnb and two strings of fairy lights, these discos were definitely a favourite amongst the local kids with the tracks of choice being Hocus Pocus – Here’s Johnny and Bomfunk MCs – Freestyler (plus some Aqua and LMFAO thrown in for good measure). Besides a few obligatory deck pests, my ‘sets’ (select all – add to playlist – play random) were usually well received. The closest pub was a 90 minute drive on a busted up gravel road so I lived the dry life for the majority of the time I was away. I missed my turntables and my records like crazy but listened to loads of music in my spare time.

Despite the fact you’ve had such limited access to the internet you still managed to grace us with a handful of phenomenal mixes chock-full of new music. Was it hard piecing them together being so disconnected? or do you think it offered you a fresh perspective?

Minimal access to internet was definitely a major inconvenience and meant my tune purchases were limited to a number of huge binges. Having so much time to think, overanalyse and generally self sabotage any mix I started preparing was initially an issue but once I cut the crap and let the music inspire me, the creativity flowed. I definitely got a fresh perspective as I wasn’t buying tunes with particular gigs in mind, I was buying music that resonated with me and started from there. If I hadn’t have had my music with me I would have gone bonkers. For the last 2 months of the time in the community I didn’t even have a TV which increased productivity on the music front tenfold.

You graced Melbourne for a weekend earlier this year with a bit of a whirlwind guest DJ appearance supporting Max Cooper. Did you enjoy being able to support one of your idols?

Loved it. As I never really knew how long I was going to be away for, saying yes or no to gigs back in Melbourne wasn’t easy but I simply couldn’t resist coming back for a show by one of my biggest musical inspirations. It was an offer too good to refuse and I set about making plans to make it possible. 2 days travel time either way and flying out of Melbourne less than 8 hours after the gig finished was totally and completely worth it. Max Cooper is an incredibly talented artist whose music I have been a huge fan of for years so having the chance to play the warm up set was a huge honour. I flew back up north on minimal sleep with a mild hangover and huge smile on my face.

You didn’t have much time to adjust back to Melbourne living. Did you find it hard switching into “nightclub-mode”?

Yes and no. I had been away for 4 months at that stage so hadn’t been anywhere near a club for that whole time but fortunately I had a couple of weeks to prepare and get my mind back on track musically which was a huge help. It’s the chance to play sets like this that drives me to immerse myself in my music with the aim of playing the perfect tunes each time I step up to the decks. Preparation meant the game face was on from the start. Rather than being overwhelmed I was as excited as a kid in a candy store. I had really missed the loud music and party vibe so had a ball.

The contrast would have been amazing. Did it help give you much perspective on the trip?

Walking into a nightclub that had as many people in it as the whole community I was living in was definitely eye opening. Seeing so many happy familiar faces made me feel at home pretty quickly. I feel very lucky for all the opportunities I have had this year. Going back up North straight away was still exciting and I had a bunch of awesome fresh memories to keep me going.

I heard there was an interesting technical issue during Max’s set in which you had to spontaneously fill in for him briefly. Care to fill us in?

This is true. In a blink of an eye I went from dancing stage side to stepping in to play about 5 tunes when minor technical difficulties could have derailed the music completely. Although it wasn’t in extraordinary circumstances, I relished the chance to play some tougher tracks to keep the floor happy. Everything was patched up pretty quickly though and Max came back on to play a bunch more tunes which everyone, including myself, was thrilled about. These things happen, it was all part of the fun.

So you’ve teamed up with Fabel to form the aptly named super-group “Murphy’s Fabel”… what can we expect from your debut set at October’s Prognosis?

Over the years, Fabel and I have always recognised a lot of crossover in our taste in tunes but also a huge amount of variation in what inspires us musically and gets played in our sets. We have played a number of the same events over the years and this has given us a good sense of each other’s musical direction. Our set will be a fusion of our distinct sounds into something a little bit different. We are working towards a set that tells our musical story and will hopefully be playing some of our own material for the first time too. I’m really excited to be working with another DJ who is so passionate and driven when it comes to music.

Is this likely to be a recurring collaboration? and more importantly, can we expect some official Murphy’s Fabel releases?

This will definitely be a recurring collaboration as Fabel and I have been jumping into the studio whenever possible and working on a number of projects. Both of us have different strengths which has helped the creative process flow with some promising results to date. Fabel has classical training on a number of instruments, has travelled the world playing music and has a creative flair that has been further tuned through her years of DJing. I bring to the table a brain hardwired for electronic music in its many forms and OCD tendencies when it comes to sound design (which may in fact be a hindrance haha).

And whilst we’re on the production tip, how have things been progressing in the studio as of late?

I’m not going to lie, it has been a slow process, not due to lack of motivation, moreso a desire to want to learn the intricacies of the software and hardware before diving head first into something that I’m not completely ready to tackle. Now that I’m back in Melbourne and have a network of more advanced and established producers to bounce ideas off, i’m hoping that the pace starts to pick up a bit. With each new element I learn, I get further inspired so i’m excited to get stuck into it in a big way.

We heard you pieced together a bit of a mobile studio that you carted up north during your travels. Can you fill all of us budding producers in on your kit?

Due to space constraints the set up I took with me was verrrry basic. I had my Macbook Pro with Ableton, an M-Audio Axiom 25 Mini, my Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro headphones and a bunch of random samples collected over the years. Not being able to get more samples and sounds had its drawbacks but in the end it just gave me more time to learn the program and play around with sound. My natural curiosity into experimenting with sounds has meant i’ve kept myself amused with what I have had at my disposal.

Now that you’re back what’s plans for you as far as your music and DJing goes?

My time away has given me a chance to focus on the direction I want to take my music and i’ve come back even more determined to start writing some music and to play tunes to anyone who will listen. We have a great network of extremely talented artists and DJs in Melbourne and a scene that continues to evolve which I love being a part of. My music addiction has taken me this far and I look forward to embracing any opportunities that come my way. Some plans have been made to start a monthly podcast that will be broadcast worldwide so i’ll hopefully get this off the ground soon. Stay tuned.

Having only returned for a few days, the bookings have already started rolling in. Where can we catch you playing?

True that. I’ve been lucky enough to be booked at some of my favourite events over the next couple of months. You can catch me on 3Fold Radio, at Prognosis debuting Murphy’s Fabel, Boris Brejcha High Tech Minimal, Strawberry Fields Festival and Earthcore. The summer silly season is well and truly kicking off early with an abundance of quality shows. In the meantime, people can jump on my Soundcloud.

Annnd to round things off. Your top five survival tips when living in the Australian desert:

  1. Water. You’ll need A LOT. The outback shows no mercy.
  2. Crocs. Know your crocs. Freshies are scared of noise and splashing and will generally stay away. Salties will hunt you down and chomp you into bits. Don’t tempt fate.
  3. Music. Take more than you think you’ll need because internet is scarce and school disco just won’t cut it.
  4. Explore. It’s a big place and there are so many incredible things to see. Speak to the locals, they’ll tell you what you won’t find in tourist guides.
  5. Tyres. Cheapies get ripped to shreds and if you have a blow out…. you’re gonna have a bad time.

Interview by J-Slyde

Artist Interview: VERVE

by Simon Murphy

Ahead of the monster April Edition of Prognosis we are lucky enough to get the chance to interview the talented producer and DJ, Brisbane’s own Verve, who will be making his highly anticipated Prognosis debut.

Verve bio pic

Thanks Kieran for taking the time for us to pick your brain.

No dramas, thanks for having me.

For those unfamiliar with your music (i.e. those living under a rock), can you describe your sound?

I’d say my Verve productions could be summed up as: emotive and melodic, groovy with a dash of techiness. I try to avoid repeating the exact same sound twice, as certain producers do thanks to their templates, so my tunes can be quite varied – in saying that I do often place emphasis on the melodic content of a tune, as I try to capture a snapshot of a particular feeling or emotion which may come through on the day of production.

The last few years have seen your tunes signed to some amazing labels and you play some big shows. Do you have any personal highlights you’d like to share?

I’ve been lucky enough to be signed to some of my favourite labels, of those I think having my tune ‘Fusion’ signed to Particles (sister label of Proton) was one of those ‘cross that off the list’ kinda moments, as I’d been sending them originals for some time with no success up until last year. Fusion sold well so they decided to pull together a remixed EP, which should be out soon, along with a remix from a long time hero of mine, Danny Bonnici. I recently signed a 2 track EP to DAR Digital, which will see the launch of my new techno moniker ‘KC Roma’ – couldn’t ask for a better way to launch this new project!

Gigs wise, spinning at clubs in London was pretty cool, though I have to say the gig which I had the most fun at was a bush doof in SEQ, where I got to crank out a handful of my own tunes, full pelt on an epic system.

You’re originally from Brisbane but have also spent time in Europe. What is the Brisbane scene like? Can you tell us about your travels and how this experience has contributed to your music and the development of your career?

I grew up in Brisvegas but have made the voyage over to Euroland twice in the past few years, first in 08/09 and more recently in 11/12, I returned back down under in Dec last year.

One of the reasons I jetted overseas was to get away from the stagnation of Brisbane’s scene – as most big cities there’s no shortage of DJs playing cheesy tunes, but in the last few years there’s been some amazing gigs go down in Brisbane, thanks to a few local promoters like Rich Curtis and the Auditree boys – these guys have been known to throw a mean boat party. Rob Babicz played at one. Sun setting with skyscrapers in the background is a memory that has stuck with me.

Whilst in Europe I lived between Sweden and London. I embraced the clubbing culture to the max on my first visit to London, and was pretty overwhelmed with the amount of choice you have, often we had to sacrifice one gig for another – some heartbreaking decisions were made. I got over to mainland Europe as much as possible, rocked a few road trips with my mates and experienced some amazing places. The most influential city for me, as a producer and lover of dance music was Berlin without a shadow of doubt! Before moving to Europe I had no particular affinity with techno or minimal, but Berlin has a way of getting deep inside your brain.

There’s way to many clubs/festivals/street-parties to list here, but all I can say to peeps out there is if you haven’t done Berlin and you’re a fiend for dance music like me, you should have been there yesterday.

You’ve had the chance to remix a whole swag of quality tunes and added your own special touch. If you had the chance to remix any tune from the past or present, which tune would it be?

Touch question! Tunes from the past that come to mind are the classics of the golden era, like Underworld – Born Slippy or Orbital – Chime. For present stuff, being given the chance to remix anything by Stephan Bodzin, King Unique or Guy J would make me happy in the pants.

Can you offer your opinion on the current state of the electronic music scene, both locally and abroad? Do you think that the scene is still strong or has the global commercialisation had a negative impact?

Locally it seems like the scene in Sydney is quite healthy, since I moved hear 2 months ago, there have been gigs catching my eye more or less every weekend. I feel spoilt for choice moving from Brisbane. Like all places there are people who want to be part of the scene for the wrong reasons, but that’s unavoidable. Like Dosem mentioned recently, despite the negative aspects of the booming EDM scene in the US there are positives coming out of it like the gateway effect, and as time passes people with decent taste will dig deeper to find music with more meaning and complexity. The underground is stronger than ever though, so I’m happy to stay here for a while and keep doing my thing.

Your productions are turning heads around Australia and across the globe with support from some of the biggest names in the business (Hernan, Jaytech, Above & Beyond to name a few). For the budding producers out there, can you offer any insight into how to get your tunes heard and recognised on a global scale in such a competitive industry?

Focus on your own sound and identity; this is key for success in such a saturated market. Buy a couple soft synths after doing some research and get right into them and their architecture, know them like the back of your hand, so you can pull the sounds that you want quickly rather than digging through thousands of presets. Once you get your head around the technical aspect of production, and you’re able to develop unique ideas – you’re already half way there, and people will start to notice you.

Make sure you research labels and their prior releases before sending demos to make sure your sound fits, this is a big must.

In the studio, are you a software guy, a hardware guy or a combination of the two? What couldn’t you live without in your studio?

Used to be a big hardware guy a few years ago when my mate and I had our studios joined together in one huge downstairs rumpus room, but relocating to Europe, and the limited space most people have to live in forced me to cut down and condense the studio. That being said I’m still a sucker for analog synths. Love the warmth and imperfections in sound.

Still have my Roland SH2 and MKS70, but software has largely been able to replace my hardware, as I’ve multi sampled most of my synths and made custom Kontakt banks from them. I’ll take this opportunity to plug my Sound Design outlet, where I’m releasing these banks for Kontakt and EXS24.

Can you tell us about your current project ‘FutureForm’ music? What else is in the pipeworks for you?

This is my first label project, kicked off recently with my partner in crime, Pete Helskanki. We have our first release scheduled for 10 April, featuring an original from Quivver, titled ‘The Fog’ and remixes from Cid Inc and DNYO. The 002 sees Kassey Voorn deliver a remixed EP of Quivver’s original. We have some big tunes coming through from some really talented producers, so you can expect one release per month from us, to ensure consistency, quality and longevity of the label.

The label is actually one facet of the wider FutureForm Collective, an overarching brand that will also encompass other outlets such as a sound design department and touring services later down the track. It’s a life-long project that will hopefully grow and evolve organically with the assistance of a multi-faceted team of passionate and talented minds.

What can the Prognosis faithful expect when you hit Melbourne next month? Are there any artists, labels or tunes that are rocking your world right now?

They should prepare themselves for some serious fun! I’ll be dropping plenty of bouncy, melodic, driving tunes. A stockpile of my own productions as well as stuff acquired whilst overseas is sure to be unleashed. At the moment, I’m really feeling tunes from Bodzin, Romboy, Max Cooper, Cid Inc, Andre Sobota, Ryan Davis, Dousk, Kobana and Maceo Plex to name a few.

To settle an age old quandary, who would win in a fight; a toasted cheese sandwich or a taco?

Cheese toasty fo sho! It’d melt all over, crush and suffocate its weak and helpless victim.

And finally, no Prognosis would be complete without a wee tipple and a healthy dose of shenanigans, what’s your drink of choice?

It ain’t a real party without some shenanigans right? I’ve been known to get stuck into a few Zubrowka and apple mixes (the most deliciously dangerous vodka I came across in Poland), and I can’t say no to an icy Deustch Weisbier.

Thanks again for your time and we look forward to your set at Prognosis.

Cheers! Really pumped for this one.

More Verve?

You can catch Verve headlining our next Prognosis – April 20th @ LOOP

Interview by Simon Murphy

Oh Plees…

by Taran M

Due to some extenuating circumstances in my life I have been a mild hermit the last couple of months. Between a hectic schedule of sport, exercise, episodes of “Billy the exterminator” and constructing a life size replica of Noah’s arc out of stolen car antenna’s, I’m amazed I’ve had the time to conduct anything. I have  fielded a number of questions and answers to numerous people over the last few weeks, mainly back at police officers regarding the disappearance of car aerials in my suburb.

However I threw some questions directly at a cultural enigma that seems to have existed in the Melbourne dance music scene.  The first time you meet this man is like the first time you quad plugged MD caps and dropped two tabs of acid; mildly uplifting….. I first met Jules Plees at a Colour of Sound after party, after I bought him a scotch, he introduced himself as “Melbourne’s Tiesto” and bought me  a fruit tingle. Considering he said he invented the moniker to pick up girls, and given him buying me a fruit tingle, I thought he had ulterior motives. Carbon dating comparisons to such fossils as DJ Kat or Johnny L have proven to only slightly pre date this musical mastermind. Having burst onto the Melbourne progressive trance/trance scene in the Interview and 5am crews. Jules Plees has seen it all, or maybe he hasn’t, who can tell. The one thing I know is that throwing away all of the stories, all of the hype starting out in the early 2000’s, Jules Plees is one of Melbourne’s most gifted DJ’s. His passion and knowledge are worn as a sleeve of pride. Very much a “DJ” and not a tune dropper, a clear and concise direction in both his sets and also his career has lead to the latest reinvention of the JP. Conducted on Facebook chat, over grueling weeks and numerous episodes of “Storage Wars Texas”, I got to know him better and maybe in the future there will be time for another fruit tingle.

But for now, sit back and enjoy as we get to know the man, the music and the muse that is, Jules Plees.

So you’re back in the saddle again after nearly 5 years in hiatus? What has prompted the revamp of the Jules Plees moniker?

I’d been out of it for a few years and at first it was Curtis Tennant’s idea to have a look at starting something up. At about the same time MyAeon was really taking off as a venue and I managed to wrangle us a monthly slot there. We did that for a year or so – and then I went solo for another year – running the Melbourne leg of the Sasha Le Monnier tour. I found that DJing on the night that you are running to be way too much stress (I like to prepare heavily for my sets) and so have taken a bit of a break from the promoting side of things just to focus on my music – which is finally showing a bit of fruition. Its a basic desire to bring something fresh to the scene that is familiar with my own JulesPLees twist, musically that is.

So way back when the war began How did you start and where did your early success take you?

I always had a thing for electronic music – loved the futuristic/alien sound of it all. After doing the underage party thing and turning 18 i quickly found the rave scene. I was lucky enough to see some of the pioneers like Christopher Lawrence, Jeff Mills, Joof, Nick Warren, Saha/Digweed, Carl Cox, etc at their peak. I think it was after (literally) passing at salt watching Carl Cox i decided that I wanted to do it. I bought a crappy pair of Citronics (does that brand even exist anymore?) and a pretty dodgy 2 channel mixer and taught myself. I ended up getting in with the 5am guys who were a crew just starting up a friday night thing at r00m680 and from there it just kinda became its own thing. I got to support (play in the same stage on the same night) as some of my heroes – Chris Lawrence, JooF, Nick Warren, Pete Tong, Tiesto and quite a few more. I got to do all the big brands of the time (Gatecrasher etc). There were some awesome gigs in there – but to be honest some of the best ones were the local nights. Nights like Obsession and Interview in its early days and even smashing out the muzzatech at viper room was great fun. I wasn’t technically amazing or flawless – it was just that from about 2001-2005ish there was a massive hole in the melbourne scene for that sort of superclub sound. There were only a handful of us playing the slinky/gatecrasher style. It was either very hard and pretty cheesy or very very deep. So when when there was a big dj in town who did do that in-between thing there were literally 4 or 5 of us that could fit the bill and not much else. And then I took my break and when i came back – things had changed – big-time.

What exactly had changed? was it that the popularity had died?

That was a part of it – its a young mans game and extremely competitive. But the entire scene itself had shifted. I love lots of different music from iraqi ambient trip hop through to orchestral 18th century bach. But for better or worse I have chosen progressive & trance in its forms as the style i play. And when I attempted to resurface – progressive was in the midst of its tech house phase. i don’t mind the sound for a boogie but it just isn’t my style as a DJ. As far as pure progressive went it was pretty much dead and buried.  With the trance side of things two things had happened. On the more mainstream side the Armada explosion had gone into full effect and it has become a very homogenized style that does not allow for any type of experimentation. I find no hypnotism or euphoria in the sound – but hey the kids love it. The other branch of trance – the more fun branch was the psy side. I do enjoy psy (well its hardly psy to a purist – its just fast and proper trancey) and have toyed around with it – and to this day will crank it out in a tougher set – its just that the middle ground that had vanished. I think it is only now I have managed to be able to properly extract what i want from the psy side of the music.
But on the whole I had no idea what the hell to play and basically my sets ended up sounding like a pretty dodgy mish mash on a bad night or a fun but forgettable boogie on a good one. But now – for all the lament people make about the state of EDM (damn i hate that term) and the Guetta’s and Paris Hilton’s of this world – dance music is actually pretty good in a lot of ways in my opinion. There seem to be a whole bunch of producers, promoters and dj’s who grew up and have seen the same things i have. Its only now that this fresh generation seems to be getting its act into gear in a big way.

Id love to hear you mix bach with Iraqi trip hop. So where are the cannons of war pointing these days? And who gave you the moniker of “Melbourne’s Tiesto?”, what acts are getting you hard?

At the moment for a full rounded package – Joof is the man. Its funny saying this as he has been around for like forever – but his production, label (stable) and general sound is really getting towards being something special like Digweed had with bedrock at its peak. On the proggier side of things – Moshic, Quivver, Hernan, Zaiz, Kassey Voorn, Guy J, Echomen, Ian O’donovan etc do it for me. on the trancier side the Joof & Mistique stuff, Mindwave, Liquid Soul, Phaxe, Lish, Insert Name etc. But there are many many artists that seem to pop up here and there with these random bombs and this is where i find a lot of my stuff. its more fun that way.
I don’t know about having any major aspirations – 1 or 2 gigs a month at some awesome parties would probably fulfill me at this point. I’ve toyed with the idea of running a night again and maybe one day – production wise i fiddle around here and there but it takes time. At the moment all I’m looking is to give Melbourne a solid option when it comes to a guy who can play serious progressive and/or trance (the real type of it).
The “Melbourne Tiesto” thing developed a long way back and it was probably a line i used to use on girls. for a while there (many moons ago) i would use his sound to base my sets on. The thing is a lot of us would do a similar thing at the time – and there was another guy who sound-wise was probably a lot better than me at being Melbourne’s T-god. I just looked more dutch.

Let’ be honest you’re a bit of a loose unit and I imagine you have witnessed some impressive sights whilst out and about. Whats the most bizarre thing you’ve seen happening behind the decks and then, out in the crowd?

More surreal than weird was the time i was sitting in the booth with Tiesto. I walked into the booth and his manager said “whatever you do – do not talk to him while he is playing. After my 15th Heineken i asked him to autograph Traffik… he looked at me smiled – signed it (his real name) Tijs Vervewest…and threw my pen into the crowd (well more at them than into them)…at that point i thought i had gone too far, but afterwards he wanted to stick around and see me play… management dragged him away.

So Melbourne’s Tiesto got the attention of the real Tiesto? Score!!!!!!
Finally where are we going to be seeing you out ands about the next month or so?

Prognosis @ Loop on the 18th – Peak-time Progressive house set
Roomember @ Room 680 – Classics Progressive trance set
JooF Editions @ Brown Alley – Modern Trance set

In finishing, any words to, or for the masses?

I guess in parting I would like to give some shout outs and thank you’s but in all honestly there are so many I’m sure I would miss someone and then feel terrible about it. In this ‘scene’ I have met so many great people. People that have helped me out in certain situations for no other reason than that is how they are. I have also shared some pretty fun (and sometimes not so fun) experiences with so many promoters/djs/producers and punters – not just in clubs but in life and have made some friendships that I believe will last for many years to come. Along with the tunes it is the people that are a primary motivator in this. I know sometimes I may come across as aloof or arrogant – but that is just my way. We are all part of the same thing here – sometimes its more me being awkward than anything . Its also frustrating that I don’t get so see a lot of these people as much as I’d like. I can be quite crap at tending to valued relationships.  But to all you people that I knew back in the old days and the guys that have been around in what could be the slowest burning comeback in history – or if you are one of those ones that just keep on keeping on – I say – keep your minds free and your ass will continue to follow.

Interview by Taran M

J-Slyde: He’s a DJ… not Spiderman

by Taran M

J-SlydeI was initially shocked to find out during my interviewing of J-Slyde that he was not Spiderman. Especially since he is basically my non biological brother. I thought I knew everything about the man, but as it is, is indeed how it happened, he is not Spiderman nor is he Elvis. I’ve watched both from the booth to the dancefloor, worked side by side for many years and then stepped out of the way as the musical progression of one “J-Slyde” has taken shape. Very much an avid punter, turned DJ, come promoter. J-Slyde’s astute musical assertion is coupled only with a desire to progress not only his career, but his sound, whatever it is. Having ascended the ranks of the Melboune “Monopoly” infused club scene, he has landed on community chest, come second price in a beauty contest, but never never ever landed himself in jail.  So from the confines of Melbourne’s Hard Kandy, to running Substance and now pavementing the Australian progressive movement from the decks, we catch up with J-Slyde and find out exactly what makes him tick, tock and bodyrock.

So let’s pretend I don’t know anything about you, tell me where”J-Slyde’s” sound has evolved from? What genres has the good ship J-Slyde sailed through?

It’s definitely been a natural progression. I’d always been a heavy listener of all things electronic – from back in my early teenage years when I used to frequent underage dance parties, through to moving on to overage clubbing and going on my Trance-honeymoon to all the usual festivals and weekly club nights… *cough*hardkandy*cough*. Being introduced to breaks was a big turning point in terms of deciding I wanted to actually become a DJ. Trance and all of it’s sub genre’s were beginning to sound really bland and around 2003 I got swept up in the breaks boom that Melbourne was experiencing. Seeing locals like Nubreed, Phil K, Jono Fernandez and Sean Quinn (to name a few) really inspired me. It wasn’t long after that I begun to build up my record collection, shortly thereafter, decks were purchased.

Since those early days I’ve played around with a lot of different genres. When you’re starting out, it’s really hard to push your own sound, so a lot of my earlier gigs were spent adjusting to whatever sound was big, playing things like commercial house and electro-house. I think those gigs really taught me a lot about being a DJ – not just playing the music you want to hear, rather performing for a crowd and adjusting your sound to suit them… playing for them, not at them. With my taste in music being so broad, I was never really interested in pigeonholing myself with the one genre – when I was at home, I just played whatever got my ear. Prog, house, breaks and DnB played big parts in those early bedroom-raves I used to have.

What is your sound all about at the moment?

It’s still pretty broad! I feel there’s quality in almost all electronic genres, and love being given the chance to play a variety of different genres. But if I had to pick one main sound, lately I’ve been all about progressive house and techno, or as some are starting to categorize the type of stuff we’ve been pushing at Prognosis as, “melodic techno”. Genre’s are getting harder and harder to classify nowadays, and I try to play unique sounding stuff that draws on a lot of different elements.

What attracts you to this genre?

Production value, creativity, uniqueness, groove, emotion. The stuff that’s coming out at the moment is absolutely mind blowing. It really strikes a cord with me! Sure there’s a big saturation, but I think that’s apparent in all genre’s, and definitely a sign of the times. Any nub can download a cracked copy of fruity loops and make a tune – its the producers that put that extra effort forth to offer up something unique and different that interests me. It’s the tunes that bridge the gap between a variety of genre’s, stuff that i feel has longevity – not just music that follows a defined set of rules that safely slips into the one category. Genre bending shit, yo!

Who are your influences? If I was to get you three “Gig wishes” who would you choose to support?

I try to draw influences from everything I listen to, not just EDM. I’m a big hip-hop and beats head, along with ambient and chilled-out stuff, trip-hop and the like. I definitely find that broadening what I listen to helps breathe new life into the way i approach my DJing. Even though I might not play those genre’s they still spark ideas and help inspire me to try different things.

As far as “gig wishes” go…. Sasha, Hybrid and James Zabiela, would be the three! Simon Murphy and I had the opportunity to support Hybrid late last year, which was a dream come true. We also came close to supporting James Z when he was down earlier this year, but doors closed early and our set was cancelled. So yeh, let’s hope we get booked again when he comes back! Sasha – not much needs to be said on this one. I’d be so bloody nervous, im not sure id be in any fit state to play! haha

Is it true you are actually Spiderman?

Ssssssshhhhhhhh. I wear a mask for a reason! 😉

Let’s talk all things Prognosis and Substance. From a promoters/ Event organizers point of view what is the current state of Melbourne’s EDM?

That’s a hard one! As you well know, we’ve worked pretty hard on getting Substance to where it is now, let alone building up Prognosis. I definitely think running events is a hard area to break into – the Melbourne crowd can be quite fickle at times and very loyal towards certain brands, and night clubs. It’s great to see a lot of smaller type krews breaking onto the scene – specializing in boutique nights dedicated to specific sounds. There’s definitely a market for these type of smaller events – less risk for the promoters, and a good opportunity for newer DJ’s to break onto the scene and play music they feel passionate about.

Aside from that, in regards to larger events, I think it’s fantastic to see larger promoters collaborating with smaller krews doing side-room features and what not. I think this needs to happen more often, especially when the scene is so heavily dominated by “McFestivals”.

We’re seriously spoilt for choice at the moment. Honestly, I find it hard to keep track of it all. You can happily go out every weekend to a new event or club night and saturate yourself in whatever genre tickles your fancy. And as much as people complain about there being too much on, I think it can work in a positive way – there’s more competition, and as a result, more of a push for promoters to stand out from the crowd and offer up unique events. Promoters cant really just “get by” anymore – you need to smash shit up and blow people’s expectations out the window!

What are problems that you foresee in the current climate?

The current influx of celebrity DJs! What the faaark is up with that? Guys like us spend years and years behind the decks honing our craft, yet we’re seeing celebrities jumping up on the decks thinking that all it takes is a gem studded USB stick and the latest pair of Pioneer headphones? Granted, there might be a few that do have skills, but I think its clear that the majority need to learn to leave it to the professionals!

Honestly though, I don’t like concentrating on the negatives of the scene. It can really start make you jaded. Sure there’s always going to be negatives, that happens with everything in life, but instead of harping on about them and complaining, I prefer to just step to the side and do my own thing.

J-Slyde @ Prognosis

We hear you are quite an avid fan of Paris Hilton taking to the turntables, is it true you’ve booked her for December Prognosis?

Yeh mate. 3 minute b2b set with Pauly from Jersey Shore. Get ya glow stix and Ed Hardy get-ups ready!

I think one of the best things you have going with Prognosis is that it’s free. Do you think this makes it a bigger draw card than your guests or has the scene contracted so much you need this to maintain a loyal following.

Having it as a free event definitely helps BUT, I wouldn’t say its our main draw-card. I think our lineups and the music we play are what sets us apart – along with being at such an awesome venue… Loop is a very cool space! And, can’t forget the mind-bending visuals that vdmo Kstati and VJ Pied Piper provide for us. I think all of these factors go into making Prognosis what it is – they all contribute in their own way to make our vision come alive, if you dropped one of them out of the equation, I think it’d fall to pieces.

On the music side of things, we’re pretty pedantic with who we book and the way we structure the nights. It’s not just a free-for-all event where each DJ plays whatever they feel – we’re pretty strict with how we like to have the nights progress, and definitely strive to have a nice progression (lolpun) throughout.

I think I’m pretty bloody lucky to work with such an awesome krew, too! I definitely owe a lot to my partner in crime, Simon, who’s played a huge part of making the night as successful as it is. Add in our third wheel, Static, and you’ve got one sturdy residential team of beat-machines!

Do you think the economic restraint on people is going to impact on crowd numbers on big ticketed venues?

Honestly, i don’t think it will. If anything, I think over saturation of festivals will have a larger impact. As I’ve already mentioned, there’s just so much going on at the moment – and people can’t really afford to be going to three different $150+ events in a month. Sure it still ties in with the economy, but I think it would still be apparent with or without the restraint.

What is your whole feeling regarding the recent influx of psy events hitting the city. It seems that its the new Beiberin the Melbourne EDM?

Definitely not a bad thing! I’ve been scoring a few side-room gigs at some psy events lately and can safely say that their crowds sure know how to party! They’re also really open-minded with the music they listen to, so it’s great to be able to broaden some musical horizons.

Gig situation. You’re about to play to a massive crowd at a big venue. The mixer is down, but there is power, you can see the levels, the cdj is spinning. You have a photo of Steven Segal and Scott Alert, a musical triangle and a copy of “Whats crack got to do with it, The Whitney Houston story.” How are you going to get yourself out of this one?

I’d wear each photo as a mask, one on either side of my head, then bust out with the triangle like a boss, whilst reciting from Houston’s story. It’d go down well. DVD release would follow shortly thereafter, with a sold-out world-wide tour. Id call it “Triangle out with ya Houston out”.

More on J-Slyde:

Interview by Taran M

James Brooke: In trance we trust

by Taran M

James Brooke - Photo by Thomm BrookeI’m fortunate enough to know a few people who apart from being amazing, have dream jobs in the music industry. The first person to have career envy with was the head of A ‘n” R for Shock Records when I worked there. He was always meeting Millencolin or Pennywise, had an expense account and was a complete wanker. James Brooke is a self made man and very much not a wanker. He pretty much has every wannabe dance music aficionado’s dream job. He runs a label, enjoys coffee, is an uber famous DJ and loves long walks by the oceans and games of table tennis. The big thing is he runs himself. He didn’t fall into these positions, he did his time, worked his ass off and has become one of the most prolific and affluent members of a scene very much back on the way in. So just in time for Prognosis this Saturday we were able to coax this local hero into lending his ears and then even more so, his story and opinions. There are many words you could use to describe James and Pineapple, aloof or pregnant are not applicable. However diligent, honest and driven are definitely more applicable. So set your trance pants to five and enjoy the read as we get our chance to get to know the talented Mr. Brooke.

So James you’re the quiet achiever of the EDM, how did the love for electronic music evolve?

Hahaha yeah I guess you could call me that as a fair bit of my involvement in the scene has mostly been behind the curtain so to speak. Wow my love of electronic music starts back many many years ago to a time when I was just starting high school, when my older sister was buying up loads of CD’s and listening to new music. Some of which was dance music, and for some reason I became hooked, I’ll go into more on the start of my passion later in the interview.

But from there it just slowly grew and grew, to a point where I decided that playing the bass guitar in a band wasn’t the direction I wanted and purchased decks and started spending all my cash and time on records and mixing them. Naturally the love just kept growing and growing to a point now where I am now one of the lucky few who have actually managed to make EDM my full time job. So you could say that the love was love at first listen, and over the years it’s just evolved into being almost 100% of my life…

I didn’t mean it to be a detraction, you kick major goals without  making a ruckus about yourself. How did your spot Element’s start and what first inspired you to get on the air, your secret idol is Pete Tong isn’t it… It’s ok you can tell us?

You could say Elements came together back in July of 2010 when the Midnite Sleaze boys asked me to fill in for their radio show on KissFM whilst they went overseas for a 3 week tour. I had done radio before on JoyFM and Kiss as well but never on a weekly basis and found out that I really enjoyed doing it. The funny thing was the slot after them was completely empty, and being a Saturday night slot I though it was rather odd so I filled that slot during those 3 weeks and after that time I approached Timmy from KissFM with the concept, the show started in August the rest you can say is history. The main reasons I started the show was that firstly I love playing records, secondly I wasn’t getting many gigs around town to fulfill my passion, and lastly I had so many damn good records that needed to be heard, and lastly what DJ wouldn’t want a weekly show?

Hahaha I have actually stolen I few one-liners from Pete Tong, and I have massive respect for the essential mix, but I wouldn’t say he is my idol lol!

You’ve had a swagger of releases on 405 recordings, your own label. Including some big name festival compilations and some sweet Australian talents. What’s it like to be running a record label in the digital sphere? What are the major challenges that affect you? How did you come to mix those CD’S?

Running the label in the current age is great in many ways, the advancements in technology in the last 10 years has made most of what a label does easier and it requires a lot less staff as well. Things like promo systems, digital distribution, Ableton, fast internet connections, anti piracy company’s etc etc.

But that said there are quite a few things that make running a label at the moment quite stressful and downright near impossible at times… Piracy is the age old whinge from labels and artists, but you know what we can try and stop it as much as we like but its not going away until the culture changes. Also the margins are now quite small so contrary to popular belief we don’t make millions of dollars. The declining CD market also makes it hard to secure numbers into retail stores as well, I could sit here and complain or highlight the issues but at the end of the day its heaps of fun and we are actually doing well!

The CD’s I have mixed, well in short I was in the right place at the right time for the first one which was Godskitchen Summer Rush, this was before 405 and when I was working in the same office as the A&R of Central Station Records, he knew I liked trance and progressive music and when it came time to put together that years CD he came to me and asked if I would like to. That is also how the story of 405 starts, but that’s for another interview. The rest of the Gods CD’s that I have done came from how successful that first one was. The others all came about through 405 recordings, and my knowledge and skill in putting together mixes quickly using Ableton (most of the time having to bash out 2cds in only a weekend). Fast forward to 2012 and I’m mixing and putting together a total of 9 releases which totals just over 20 individual mixes/CD’s… so yeah that’s a lot of warping & Ableton screens hahaha

What do you make of the current stocks of the EDM industry as a whole, compared to where it was 10 years ago?

The industry has increased to a size in which its almost impossible to comprehend, there are so many new genres and sub-genres, so many new labels and even more bloody DJ’s . I heard a stat a while ago that decks were out selling guitars 2 to 1, I’m not sure how true it is or where I heard it but it does give you an idea of just how big the EDM beast has become. I mean clearly its cooler to be a DJ than a rock star!!

What it does confirm is how accessible EDM has become, these days anyone can become a DJ or try their hand at production. As long as you have the money to buy the equipment (which by the way is extremely cheap compared to what it cost 10 or even 5 years ago) and given you have enough talent and/or know the right people BAM you could be the next Armin or Guetta in no time… hahaha its nowhere near that simple at all but that’s what’s selling the decks and wav files… the dream.

This is a subject I can talk a lot about, but in short I think its changed in a very good way, and whilst the purists will argue until they are blue in the face that its all gone Pete Tong I completely disagree! There is just so much great music out there, and just as many amazing DJ’s across so many genres that its too hard to see it any other way. I mean just have a look around town at any one time, we are spoilt for choice… The only thing I think that is currently changing which I don’t like is that a lot of smaller clubs and venues are disappearing, and the focus is becoming more and more around festivals… Don’t get me wrong I love a good festival, but not at the cost of being in a dark club with 300 people rocking out to some of the best DJ’s from both overseas and locally… that shit is where its at! And please don’t get me started on the promoter DJ…… fffffff

Do you even have a genre anymore? Explain how you’ve created your style. Where has it come from?

Hahaha no I don’t think I do have the one genre anymore hey! I think it comes from my extremely varied taste in music, and the amount of genres I have explored over the years… I don’t like the idea of being locked down to one style or being put into a box. I go by the motto “if it sounds good I’ll play it”, my genre depends on the gig I’m booked for, the crowd I’m in front of, and of course what I’m feeling at that point in time…

What is the most bizarre thing that has happened/ seen out whilst playing?

Oh god I have seen some pretty whacked things happen whilst playing, the best was probably the girl who fell off the front of the DJ booth mid sentence at Room680 only to reappear 5 seconds later covered in her split drink telling me she loved me. The other I witnessed whilst out, was a punter go running up to the decks, yell something about the music being shit and then proceed to pull every cord out of the mixer.

But probably the worst thing was a DJ (who shall remain nameless) killing the tunes to yell out to his mate to get him a drink, this happened 3 times…

Playing for free, is it good to freelance for the start?

Yes it can be a good idea to kick things off playing for free, but it can become a tricky situation after awhile of doing free gigs. As if there is a cover charge the promoter and the bar are making money from your hard work (well if you’re doing a good job people will be dancing, and buying drinks). I mean think about it, you paid money for those tunes, cds, usb stick, headphones, the time spent practicing, securing the gig, preparing for the gig, promoting it to your mates etc etc. Why shouldn’t you get some of the pie?

It’s a good way to get your foot in the door, but don’t ever sell yourself short, if everyone else is making money then at then end of the day you’re the one getting dicked. That said use your best judgment, a few gigs to show off what you can do and get people talking is great, and there are some gigs I do for free because it’s a mate, it’s a free party or a favour… so in short yes, but be careful…

James playing at Armada Nights in Sydney - Photo by Luke Davids

When you take the DJ out of James Brooke, what’s left, what else does he do?

After you take out the label, the radio show and the DJing, there really isn’t too much left over as I really have made my life all about music… But I really like chilling out on the couch and watching movies and TV series. I’m also a massive fan of long brunches on the weekends, coffee and hanging out with mates. I also like to read (yes I’m old fashioned) and the occasional computer game or laps of the local pool…

Explain your sisters influence on your career…

Is there a word limit? Hahaha. Well to be perfectly honest I’m not sure I would be where I am today without my sisters influence and help over the years. From the point of actually introducing me to EDM many many years ago, to helping me buy my first decks and records, and then to sneaking me into clubs when I was underage and introducing me to all my fav DJ’s (who ended up teaching me so much about the industry and the craft of mixing records and playing to a crowd).

It actually goes further as well, as she introduced me to my first boss Derrick whilst I was underage at Private Function gig, I gave him a few ciggies and that ended up being the reason why he hired me a few years later. And if I didn’t get that job then I would never have met my current boss years after, and 405 Recordings would never have come into being.

And to this day Sara is still involved, quite regularly I will send her my mixes before they go out to the public, and will also seek her advice on certain tracks before a gig. For example she has already approved about 5 tracks for my gig at Prognosis on Saturday night hahaha!

Upcoming gigs?

Yes im playing this Saturday night at Prognosis alongside one of my fav DJ/Producers who was an early influence, PQM. I have just been booked for a massive warm up set in Sydney in September. There is also a national tour in the works for the same time of year, I have my weekly radio show Elements which airs every weekend around Australia and there is also something special planned for the 100th show in November so keep an eye out for that.

Finally you’re a big fan of the photobomb, a hobby we both share. Best photo bomb you have done?

Bahahaha yeah I must admit that is a fav club activity, my god there have been so many over the years! I think I recall un-tagging myself from most of them a year ago, but there was one with Jed that was pretty damn awesome, I think we managed to perfectly get just our eyes showing between peoples arms or something…
Another fav was completely ruining a fans photo with Carl Cox a few years back, was so good, I think the person might have cried when they got home!

You can catch James @ Prognosis this saturday the 16th of June 2012.

Brooke related links:
Elements FB Page

Interview by Taran M