Oct 21, 2014

FEATURE: 808 State - Back To The Future
WORDS: Alex Caslano

If you were of an age to party during the second summer of love, then chances are you will have lost your shit to 808 State. One of the most important dance acts of all time, their use of the iconic Roland TR-808 drum machine and prominence in acid house led them to soundtrack a generation. A collective of experimental producers who bonded at Manchester’s legendary Eastern Bloc Record store, they’re cited by Autechre and Aphex Twin as a major influence, having fused some of the most exciting sounds of the day to create something which was unequivocally theirs.

Harnessing the new technology which had become available, there was a sense of pioneering and possibility, as explained by Graham Massey, one of the founding members of the group: “we recognized a technology revolution, in that synths and other music tech that had seemed unobtainable was now becoming part of our world. I was on a sound engineering course and was able to come into contact with the new technology, but meanwhile we were picking up second-hand music gear at knockdown prices.” The process of making music certainly wasn’t uniform, but the results were extraordinary. 808 State’s debut album, ‘Newbuild’, was a challenging vision of the future, described as "what Detroit techno sounds like after Manchester roughs it up".

Of course, it would be short sighted not to mention ‘Pacific State’, a song which took on a life of its own and boasts one of the most recognisable sax lines to ever feature on record. It was the track which took them onto daytime radio, but never eclipsed the band’s pioneering and experimental reputation, a reputation which follows them to this day. “We still use some of the gear we've had since 1988” continues Graham. “I’m also using some of the new Roland hardware and I always like to throw in new software”. Still touring and appearing in Glasgow this Saturday, we ask about their set up on stage: “sometimes I decide on the morning of the gig" he tells us. "The size of the vehicle dictates what we bring…”

Check out a full stream of 808 State’s debut album, ‘Newbuild’, below, as well as the seminal ‘Pacific State’. You can also read our full interview with founding member, Graham Massey, in which we talk more about the revolution of technology during the 80s and how the 808 State story began:

Synth: Before 808 State you had a hip-hop group called Hit Squad Manchester with Gerald Simpson and Martin Price. Who were the artists that were inspiring you at that time and how did they influence your own productions?

Graham: The Hitsquad MCR was really just a record project born from a bunch of people who frequented the Eastern Bloc Store; hip hop Crews handing in tapes. We tried to get a grant from some local scheme to pay for some studio time, but in the end one of the guys at the store used his Gran's inheritance I think. Studio time was prohibitively expensive back in the day.

The idea was to record a couple of the hip-hop crews (there were 3 crews) and also do a sample record in the style of Double D and Steinski. So there were about 12 people in the studio all trying to make a record from bits of other records, and that's what it sounds like - a right dog’s dinner.

Within that initial group of 12 were 808 State members to be: Darren and Andy, Gerald and MC Tunes, Martin Price and myself. It gave us a chance to meet each other and from that we set up a few gigs and worked out how to do live shows using drum machines and synths.

As a spin off from Hitsquad, Martin, Gerald and I began State 808 (as it was first called) doing acid house at hip-hop gigs. We were bringing a lot of different musical tastes to the studio but a common one was the Street Sounds electro records. There was also a local radio show, ‘Stu Allen’, which played an hour of hip-hop and an hour of house and street soul. We all used to tape that show in order to keep up with imports, then we had Martin at the record store turning us on to stuff, and of course being musicians already we all had our own mad record collections. A journalist pointed out how much of a post-punk UK sensibility we had on records like 'Quadrastate’ and Ninety, and it makes sense; Martin and I had only just come through all that. The younger members still had eclectic tastes but more informed by hip hop and the break scene.

Synth: Do you think that the 80s are sometimes overlooked in terms of musical influence? Many people when they hear ‘80s’ automatically think of big overblown synth pop, but it also heralded the arrival of hip hop and Chicago house. At the time did you recognise it as a period of musical revolution even before acid house exploded?

Graham: Yes, we recognized a technology revolution, in that synths and other music tech that had seemed unobtainable was now becoming part of our world, through pawn shops and the rapid obsoleteness of older models of drum machines and analogue synths (or so it seemed at the time). Atari Computers were a revolution in themselves and also samplers becoming less than five figure prices; this meant that studios in the northwest invested at a basic level in new tech.

I was on a sound engineering course and so was able to come into contact with the new technology, but meanwhile we were picking up second hand music gear at knockdown prices. These days even places like Cash Converter are a little too knowing. Back then it was "have my SH101...why would I need it? It doesn’t have midi like my DX7."

In learning sound engineering I was listening to a lot of production by Adrian Sherwood and being very influenced by Miles Davis’ producer, Teo Macero, who did creative editing and sound processing. Editing was something that was still analogue tape splicing but it made you think about non-performance structures, juxtapositions, odd bar lengths and other spice.

Synth: You celebrated 808 State’s 25th anniversary last year and we’re actually just listening to ‘Newbuild’ now; do you find new generations are discovering your music and coming along to the shows? You’ve got a teenage son…he must be pretty clued up!

Graham: Yes, my son is doing music tech at sixth form College; his textbook name checks The Orb, Underworld, Orbital and the Chemical Brothers, so yes, that does erk me that once again we get left off that list of UK dance pioneers, but I guess we were never as easily definable, every record being an exploration.

Now with time I can say I liked this, or that period, but at the time you were never looking back. I do feel we kicked open a lot of doors…some era-defining singles, some era defining-albums; making a dent in the live scene as a rave act, taking UK dance to the US; but our timing was perhaps a bit out and we lacked the management when it was needed. Look at Warp’s 20th anniversary; Warp have loyalty and a proper dialogue with their artists and look after their back catalogue with respect, giving it a sense of continuity. ZTT hasn’t panned out that way due to various circumstances.

I can find all this history to be a bit stifling for creativity at times - you have to tend to it like a garden. We've all been finding other ways to be creative though; I still love playing as 808 State, and it’s not like we over-do playing gigs so it’s still a buzz. I do realise that it’s just as relevant to play it to the new generations as we have been doing in recent times - it doesn’t feel out of step.

808 State play Glasgow this Saturday at the 02ABC

Synth: Obviously electronic music and house music in particular is very popular in the mainstream at the moment, while there’s also some really exciting stuff coming up on the underground; do you pay much attention to what’s going on with dance music at the moment? Are there any artists who have really caught your attention?

Graham: I’m lucky to have a lot of DJs as friends, plus my son’s crew seem to have pretty similar tastes to mine; we are always swapping stuff off each other. It’s a bit of a pain when I’m trying to mix and he’s blasting it out in the room above, battle of the sub-bass!

Synth: We really liked the concept of the ‘Rebuild’ collaboration with A Guy Called Gerald, and you seem to be having a lot of fun with it; do you think it surprises some of the younger members of the audience to see you making music with all this machinery instead of staring into a laptop?

Graham: When we do Rebuild we really are making it up on the spot. I’ve no idea what Gerald's going to do and visa versa; it’s systems music and it will lead you to unexpected places. I think we are both at home with the equipment and each other’s sensibilities; it’s very engaging as music making, but nothing is ever repeated. We always need to find an empathetic promoter who will give us the space and time to set up such a fragile system. Promoters tend to put on a ridiculous amount of acts on one stage these days.

808 State live is much more of a band situation, delivering a structured high. There’s room for improvisation but it’s all about the tunes and I don't have a problem with using laptops so long as you don't have a problem with live drums and guitars or anything else.

Synth: I think it’s fair to say that people are pretty damn excited about catching you here in Glasgow this weekend where you’ll be performing live; in terms of hardware, do you still use some of the original gear from the early days?

Graham: Yes, we still use some of the gear we've had since 1988, but I’m also using some of the new Roland hardware and I always like to throw in new software - sometimes I decide on the morning of the gig. The size of the vehicle dictates what we bring…“let’s throw this stupid string synth in" - it can get a bit Rick Wakeman. I’ve recently had some old 1989 tapes baked, and that gives us access to samples and songs long forgotten. I’ll see how we get on; it’s still got to work as a set…

Let’s Go Back…Way Back and Academy Events present 808 State at the 02ABC this Saturday. Tickets are available in advance from Ticketweb priced at £20.81 (inc fees).

808 State Website
808 State on Facebook
808 State on Twitter

Oct 20, 2014

FEATURE: Dado Prisco’s Top5

We suspect Dado Prisco is feeling a little weary today. Having spent the best part of a week at ADE where he was both playing and partying, the Brazilian DJ and producer has just kicked off his mini European tour, with the Amsterdam Dance Event providing the perfect launch pad. But while the punters have time to recover from Amsterdam’s delights, Dado has his eyes set firmly on the next gig, bringing his Uncle Jack party to Glasgow this Wednesday where he will feature alongside Edinburgh’s Hostage.

At just 22 years old, Dado is someone who you would describe as proactive. Inspired by clubs like the world-renowned Warung (literally up the coast from his native Floripa), he launched himself into music production a few years ago, moving to London to enrol in the Point Blank Music School and experience the grittier side of underground club culture. Inspired and motivated, he set about establishing his own studio on his return to Brazil, welcoming the likes of Gui Boratto and Kolombo to the mixing desk. His own music meanwhile is attracting attention for all the right reasons, delivering big basslines on labels like Kiez Beats and LouLou Records, while remixing Sharam Jey with production partner Bruno Be. He may just be getting started, but Dado Prisco certainly isn't wasting any time.

Ahead of Uncle Jack at the Berkeley Suite this Wednesday, we tracked down Dado to get his current Top5 and some of the tracks which are moving his dancefloor:


“I got this one a while ago when Dake was staying with me for the weekend in Floripa. He came to my studio and showed me this track, and I was shocked by the bassline when I first heard it; I instantly knew it was a bomb. A couple of days later Dake and I played back to back at my party with Fabo and it worked really well; it’s been my secret weapon since then.”

2. HECTIK RIVERO- SPARK IT UP (Push Play Records)

“I heard this as an intro on Amine Edge & Dance`s live set for Mixmag and I loved it. The beginning is crazy because of the vocals and how raw they sound. Straight away I was desperate to try it out, and when I got the chance my suspicion was confirmed…it hits even harder then I thought! This one is a perfect peaktime track.”

3. MARK FANCIULLI – THE FALL (Objektivity)

“I got this one by checking through the charts on Beatport; it was on Mark’s ‘Closing Summer’ chart. He's someone that I always check out, and an artist that I really look up to. This track is a good set opener, it has a very 'happy mood' and the vocals do a great job at getting people going at the beginning of a set.”


“This one is a very powerful track; I really like to use it on the transition from a chilled set to getting things a bit harder and faster. I got it from one of Oliver Koletski`s recent sets on Soundcloud. He's another artist that I admire a lot and I’m always checking out his tracks; this one I loved right away.”


“Floripa has a really big afterparty scene, and that's where I discovered this track. I was going to play at my friend’s afterparty, and we were driving to the venue together; he told me that he had track I would love and said it would be the perfect opener for the set. The venue was a house right in front of the beach and the sun was just rising as I started my set; he couldn't have been more right - it was amazing!”

Dado Prisco joins Hostage for Uncle Jack this Wednesday (22nd) at The Berkeley Suite. Tickets are £6 advance from Skiddle and Resident Advisor.

Dado Prisco on Soundcloud
Dado Prisco on Facebook
Dado Prisco on Twitter

Oct 16, 2014

PREVIEW: SENSU IS 10 // Life And Death Showcase
WORDS: Alex Caslano

There are only a handful of nights which go the distance; whether it’s financial, personal or otherwise, club nights are volatile ventures. Essentially it all relies on dedication, and the guys behind Sensu are fully aware of this. Launching way back in 2004, the hugely popular party has grown organically over the last ten years, attracting some of house and techno’s most sought after talent. Needless to say this didn’t happen overnight, but from the early events at the Q Club and Liquid Lounge to their current home at the world renowned Sub Club, it’s been a journey of highs, lows and invaluable experience.

“It really all started with friends getting together, hiring a space and playing some records together” says co-founder and resident, Junior. “When we started booking DJ’s to play for us we wanted to make sure we were the first people to bring them to Glasgow; ‘Glasgow Debut’ was something we always aimed for.” Over the past ten years, debut or otherwise, Sensu have made a point of bringing some of the hottest names in electronic music to Glasgow. Whether it was sweat dripping from the ceiling with Ricardo Villalobos on their 8th birthday or their more recent voyage with Eats Everything down The Clyde, they’ve always persisted with getting the right act at the right time, keeping their finger well and truly on the pulse.

“The first time Loco Dice played for us really changed things I think” reflects Junior. “He was just about to break and we had a very strong year bookings wise; the atmosphere was different to anything we’d experienced at Sensu before. That’s when things kinda stepped up a gear.” This Friday Sensu celebrate their tenth birthday with the first in a series of parties over the next few months, hosting a showcase from Italian imprint, Life And Death. Releasing intelligent, distinct and often emotive club music from the likes of Ten Walls, Pillowtalk and Thugfucker since its inception in 2010, it’s become a label revered for quality. With founders Tale Of Us and DJ Tennis joined by rising stars, Mind Against tomorrow night, that sentiment is certainly shared by their hosts.

Check mixes from all featured Life And Death artists below, as well as an interview with Sensu co-founder and resident, Junior, in which we talk game-changing sets and five behind the scenes moments which he'll never forget:

Synth: This Friday ushers in a series of events marking Sensu’s ten year anniversary, and in typical fashion you’ve nailed an incredible line up featuring seminal label, Life and Death. Can you tell us a little about what makes L&D special and why you wanted them involved?

Junior: We feel that Life and Death is a label which represents quality. This is from the artwork design to the musical output; everything is looked at in the finest detail. They also have a sound that, although varied, has a Life and Death stamp on it.

Synth: So if we head back to the start and the first party in 2004, how did Sensu originate? Obviously there were already a number of established house & techno nights in Glasgow – did you feel there was something you could bring to the table?

Junior: It really all started with friends getting together, hiring a space and playing some records together; your only way to really guarantee a DJ gig every month at such a young age with no agency representation was to throw your own parties. When we started booking DJ’s to play for us we wanted to make sure we were the first people to bring them to Glasgow; ‘Glasgow Debut’ was something we always aimed for. We always aimed to bring DJ’s for the ‘head’, but at a night that everyone would enjoy; not just guys standing at the side of a speaker stroking their chin. Everyone welcome. Everyone equal.

Ricardo Villalobos plays to a packed club in 2011

Synth: We just had a glance at the list of artists who have played Sensu over the last ten years, boasting everyone from Loco Dice to Guy Gerber; if you had to pick out one or two sets which really tore the roof off, who would you choose and why?

Junior: We got a little dizzy writing that list; we also remember about another 50 bookings that nearly happened. It would be very hard to name 1 or 2 special sets. Each resident would probably give you a different list as well. The first time Loco Dice played for us really changed things I think; he was just about to break and we had a very strong year bookings wise; the atmosphere was different to anything we’d experienced at Sensu before. That’s when things kinda stepped up a gear. I think in that year we had Magda, Dice, Villalobos, Tobi and Raresh; we then kind of ended up doing that every year since, so the energy levels have just continued month in month out. It’s good that we can go from a top 10 DJ to an up and comer or to a residents night and still keep people interested.

Synth: And we’re sure over the course of ten years there have been some personal moments (good or bad) that have stood out? What was the first of your infamous boat parties like for example?

I actually can’t remember the first boat party that we did. That’s worrying. If we were going to write an autobiography these would be some of the chapter titles:

1) Reboot breaks his foot
2) How to make a DJ miss three flights
3) Buying digestives with Derek
4) Rockmess
5) Wrong airport

Sensu celebrates pt1 of their tenth anniversary this Friday (Oct 17th) at the Sub Club with a Life And Death label showcase. Advance tickets are available from Resident Advisor priced at £25.00 (only 100 remaining at the time of posting).

Sensu Website
Sensu on Facebook
Sensu on Soundcloud

Oct 15, 2014

WORDS: Alex Caslano
PHOTO: Clemens Fantur

“It’s just a f***ing great label, isn’t it?” Speaking of his musical home at LuckyMe, Austrian producer, Clemens Bacher aka Cid Rim, is quite confident he’s found the perfect match. Having released a self-titled mini album on the internationally renowned label in 2012, his profile has since surged, recently producing tracks for Theophilus London and finding himself in Frank Ocean’s limousine after a 12 hour recording session in Paris. It all sounds very fast-paced and thrilling, but honing his sound has taken time, and a lot of experimenting.

Described by LuckyMe as “forging his own sophisticated electronic music that defies contemporary classification”, Bacher is a true musician. A free jazz drummer and multi-instrumentalist who found his way into electronic music at school, his love for fluid arrangements and rhythmic beat patterns have nurtured a very healthy relationship with production, blurring the lines between live instrumentation and programmed beats. As a result, his music adopts a life of its own, loosely related to hip hop, but never constrained by genre. Appearing alongside label mates Éclair Fifi, Sevendeaths and Joseph Marinetti as part of a LuckyMe showcase at next month’s Simple Things Festival in Glasgow, expect to see Cid Rim in his element.

Check out some of Cid’s productions below, as well as an interview in which we talk more about hooking up with LuckyMe, his freeform approach to making music and that 12hr recording session in Paris:

Synth: So you’re heading out to join us at Simple Things Festival in Glasgow next month where you’ll appear as part of a special LuckyMe showcase. Were you a fan of LuckyMe before you hooked up? And why do you feel the label is a good home for your music?

Cid Rim: At the time I got in contact with LuckyMe I had just finished a couple of tracks that I really liked and that I thought would fit perfectly for the next bigger move. I asked myself, if I could simply pick a label where would I want my tracks to come out, and LuckyMe was the answer. I was a fan of the label ever since the whole of Scotland switched their Myspace icons to the 'ooops' cover! Also, I already knew one of the guys personally so I could just send them the tracks directly and they liked them and brought them out. And for the second question: It’s just a f***ing great label, isn’t it?

Synth: On their bio about you they suggest that your music doesn’t lend itself to genre labelling and there is ‘no rulebook’ when it comes to your approach; can you identify with that? Do you see your music as freeform?

Cid Rim: Yes, definitely. No matter what it’s gonna be, it comes down to finishing something that you really like in the end. That’s the only rule; kind of like my own quality management. Everything else is free. Every time I believe I’ve found a certain recipe to make a track it immediately gets so boring that I need to try and create something new and different. Sitting in front of the white paper is horrifying but filling it with new ideas is the most beautiful thing.

Synth: We were reading up on your entry to music and programming beats, where you describe there being no borders between computers and instruments; how easily were you able to establish a connection between the two when you first started (in terms of writing a beat and then recreating it live)?

Cid Rim: There was no need to establish a connection, it was so obvious. When you start playing drums your abilities are limited, you’re not tight; but the drum computer plays everything exactly how you want him to, and he's always tight. So you program more complicated beats that you're not yet able to play (especially if you're listening to fusion stuff a lot), and then later you fill those beats with life through dynamics that you have learned from playing real drums. And once you get better on the real instrument you try to play all the beats you have programmed already.

The LuckyMe showcase at Simple Things Festival

Synth: You produced two songs on Theophilus London’s new album after he heard one of your tracks at a party; can you talk us through the 12hr recording session you had in Paris? Presumably that was 12hrs straight?

Cid Rim: CDG then RER to Gare Du Nord, walked the rest; the studio was close by. I met Theophilus and we talked a bit, got to know each other and drank a coffee. I was surprised how much music of mine he already knew. I played him loads of new music I had made and he basically wanted to record over every single track, so we said “ok, let’s start working right now and see how much we can get done.” He wrote the lyrics on his phone and I was simultaneously working on the arrangement, adding details here and there; then we recorded everything. We did that from 1pm to 1am. Later we accidentally got into Frank Ocean’s limousine because we thought it was ours and took him along to some late night snack bar. That’s it. Both tracks ended up on his album ‘Vibes’ which is about to come out.

Synth: And back in Vienna at your home studio, what’s the production process like? Do you go in with an idea and see it through to the end or do you dip in and out of projects when the inspiration strikes?

Cid Rim: I mostly like making a track from start to the end; yet I believe the tracks and the whole record gets better if you work on the whole thing simultaneously. That’s more exhausting for me, but for my last EP this method went well so I forced myself to work like that again. But still, when it really hits me, I stop everything else and finish the track right away with the one goal to play it to my friends loud in the club the next Friday. That hasn’t changed since I was a teenager.

Synth: Obviously we’re pretty excited about checking you out in a few weeks; how does your live set usually take shape? Do you use both instruments and computers on stage too?

Cid Rim: The main thing I use these days is a midi pad. In every song I play different elements of the track live on that thing - either a synth solo, the main drums, percussion, chord steps or all of it at once. It’s fun and I’m very comfortable playing it; I’m really looking forward to playing in Scotland again! Y’all need to come through. Nov 1st!

Cid Rim plays the LuckyMe showcase at Simple Things Festival in Glasgow on Nov 1st. Check the full line up here. Tickets are available now for £20.00 via Ticketweb.

Cid Rim on Soundcloud
Cid Rim on Facebook
Cid Rim on Twitter

Oct 14, 2014

FEATURE: A Decade Of Symbiosis - Ten Years In Ten Tunes

They say there’s a night for everyone in Glasgow, and if you’re a fan of drum & bass, that night has to be Symbiosis. Running low-key but high energy parties in Audio (the smaller but comparatively more intimate club to reside under Central Station), this week they celebrate their tenth anniversary, standing testament to their dedication and popularity in a city which is often characterised by house and techno. Founded by residents Yellowbenzene and Calaco Jack as a simple way to share their passion for everything low-end and 170, the night has attracted a loyal crowd of regulars and heads who truly love their drum & bass.

Attributing Symbiosis’ longevity to the relatively small but friendly D&B scene in Glasgow, the night boasts a handful of trusted residents who know the genre inside out and refuse to pander to mainstream big-hitters. It’s a formula that works for them, and has done for the last ten years.

Ahead of their anniversary party this Saturday, we asked the guys to dig through the crates and pick out ten tunes which best represent the night’s musical timeline. From dBridge to Raiden, it’s time to go double time:

2004: dBridge - True Romance

“It seemed only fitting to start with a classic, and dBridge's ‘True Romance’ is just that. Ten years on from its release this is still a regular Symbiosis feature and a track that every member of the crew has played countless times.”

2005: Noisia - Block Control

“Another Symbiosis favourite; before Noisia became the global superstars they are today this was one of their first big hits, and it still packs a fearsome punch today. I've got great memories of rolling this out at our last all-vinyl special a couple of years ago.”

2006: Mindscape & Jade - Unpleasant Surprise

“A Yellowbenzene/Alcane favourite from the early Symbiosis years during the Citrus Recordings/Black Sun Empire neurofunk heyday. This novel combination of acid synths and an absolutely disgusting reese line always moves floors!”

2007: Temper D - Sunrise At Sonar

“Temper D's past appearances at Symbiosis have always been a treat; a machine behind the decks and always equipped with a fearsome bag of records. ‘Sunrise At Sonar’ with its cheeky tempo switch-up and driving beats is another perennial favourite.”

2008: Raiden - Bite It You Scum

“One of the highest profile guests we've been lucky enough to play host to at Symbiosis, Raiden's tunes have been smashing up the night for years. All the pace of D&B with a hefty techno influence and a truly original sound which is sadly lacking from the scene today.”

2009: Trei & State of Mind - Thunder Biscuit

“An absolute Calaco Jack anthem! The bass modulations make this tune instantly recognisable and a sure-fire dancefloor roller.”

2010: DaVIP & Encode – Vamonos

“I have immensely fond memories of throwing this one down at my first appearance behind the decks at Symbiosis in 2010. The intro alone is absolutely stomping, but the drop is something else...this one goes off, every time.”

2011: BCee - Captured In Time

“BCee's blend of rolling breaks, warm bass and infectious piano make this a firm favourite either for warm-up sets or as a tasty mid-set switch-up between bangers. Blissful.”

2012: T.E.E.D. - Garden (Calibre Remix)

“We couldn't have done this list without a Calibre track making an appearance somewhere, and this remix narrowly edged out his equally superb rework of Spectrasoul's ‘Away With Me’. So simple and so effective.”

2013: Digital & Spirit – Phantom Force (Fracture's Astrophonica Edit)

“This has barely left my sets since its release; between the swaggering half-time beats and the driving bassline this is an essential track, and proof that D&B still has plenty of room for innovation.”

2014: Phace & Misanthrop - Sex Sells

“A pinnacle of German engineering with a cheeky vibe, Phace & Misanthrop's latest is a no nonsense dancefloor weapon, and looks set to become a firm Symbiosis favourite for years to come.”

Symbiosis celebrate their tenth birthday this Saturday at Audio featuring b2b sets by special guests from the night’s history. Entry is free.

Symbiosis on Facebook