mardi 31 janvier 2012

An Interview With Maceo Plex

2011 was the year Eric Estornel, aka Maceo Plex, aka Maetrik, went supersonic. His deep, dark, melancholy house captured perfectly the mood on the dancefloors, and, riding the euphoric wave of the 2011 house revolution, Maceo Plex was the name on everybody's lips.

His work as Maetrik is darker: heavy, cavernous techno. But it seemed that his releases as Maceo Plex – lighter, groovier, soul-infused and apparently “for the girls” – were what really drove people crazy.

His 2011 long-player, 'Life Index', on the innovative and impeccable Crosstown Rebels imprint, was a perfectly timed, soul-steeped stunner. This was followed by the epic, hook-laden nine-minute belter 'Can't Leave You' - further displaying his versatility. The love – and the hits - just kept on flowing. He launched his own label, Ellum Audio, with the addictive 'High and Sexy' EP – deep, dark house music at its most hypnotic.

I had a chat with Eric before his set this Friday at Return to The Future.

So the last year has been insanely big for your Maceo Plex moniker. Has it been fairly dizzying becoming so massive so quickly?

It's kind of been dizzying, I was used to gigging and making music but not at this pace. It was just all of a sudden I had to get really busy – work really hard, do a lot of touring. It was kind of dizzying but a nice feeling – it's just been really perfect actually.

House was totally the London vibe in 2011. It was an amazing year in house and your sound seemed to catch the mood perfectly. Did you have a sense of that happening at the time and did it influence you as you were producing?

Yeah I kind of did. I know that a few years ago it was a different type of house – that Mannheim thing was taking over and before that the whole minimal thing. I felt that at the beginning of 2011 there was a major shift going on with the help of Jamie [Jones] and all the Visionquest guys. I was trying to make a newer, fresher, futuristic type of house with a lot of romance but with a lot of new sounds you don’t normally hear in house. As I was releasing I could see the reaction of the fans: they were getting really into it really fast. You could almost see it happening right before your eyes.

At parties I was playing – the Hot Natured and Visionquest and of course the Crosstown parties as well – you could see that each party was better than the last, each release was better than the last. And now we just have to keep it up.

Your music, although soulful, has undertones of darkness and a real air of sadness at times...are you making it intentionally sad?
Yeah it's pretty intentional. I really like playing a lot of types of house music: happy and darker stuff, but I lean toward a melancholy sound that can be uplifting but is also a little sad. I know that Art Department – I couldn’t say for them if it's intentional – but they were some of the first people to make a really melancholy, deep house sound. At the same time I was working on stuff and I thought it was a really good idea. It's my own take on house: a little bit melancholy but still pretty uplifting and really groovy.

I'd like to ask about the construction of 'Can't Leave You'. There is so much going on, but each hook is given room to breathe. How did you start that tune? What came first? And how did it all come together?

That was written pretty fast because it was written for another group. I've made music for other artists that I’m not gonna mention, but I was making it for another group. And it was coming together perfectly. And – this is a little known thing – I sent it to them and they didn’t want it. So I thought, OK I’ll release it myself. I added the vocals afterwards and changed it round a bit to make it slightly more discoey, slightly more housey. But basically it was something I wrote in a couple of days – I thought it was really cool – but I never thought it was going to be a hit or anything like that.

Your 'High and Sexy' EP kicked off your label Ellum Audio – is this a good example of the sound you're aiming to showcase?

Yeah, that's why I released it first. But it's not the only sound. I thought it was pretty fitting to follow up 'Can't Leave You' and 'Stop Your Hate' with something a little darker and a little deeper. The ultimate goal is for Ellum to be dark and deep house but, in the end, if it's something cool that I get, we're just gonna put it out. We're not gonna think too much about having a certain theme or vision. Certain labels want to have a great disco sound, others want to have a great pop sound – we're just releasing stuff we think is cool.

Are there any young new house hotshots that you’ve got your eye on?
Yeh there's a new group – they're actually friends of mine out of Philly. I did some vocals for them on their new record coming out on Ellum - it's called 'Fame' and they’re called Odd Parents. It's a very similar style to me and we work together on the music. It fits perfectly with the sound we want to put out on Ellum. Very deep and dark, futuristic house, with my vocals.

There's also a new talented artist out of London that sent me a really amazing demo. He goes by the name of Eric Volta – I think he plays with the Loki crew. He sent me a really awesome demo. Every now and then you get a demo that sticks out, and he continues to send me really good music so we're going to release some of that. I think he's gonna rise up pretty fast this year.

And then there's my friends – the My Favourite Robot crew, of course Tale Of Us and all of them are continuing to raise the bar on what we can do with the sound that we're coming up with right now.

What would you be doing if you hadn't made it in music? What was your plan B?
I never had one. I've been making house and techno for 15 or 16 years, 'cause I'm kind of old now. I'm not gonna tell you how old but since I was in high school I've been making house and techno music. I never thought about plan B. I just worked really crappy jobs until I could live off it. I never cared about getting into any other kind of career. I was either gonna be a waiter for the rest of my life or I was gonna be a music artist. There’s nothing else that makes me happy. I have to be honest, I think other people have more glamorous alternative plans.

Who are your musical heroes, dead or alive?
Obviously everybody says Michael Jackson. That was when I was a little kid. It wasn’t until I discovered new wave: New Order, Joy Division, the Smiths that I really found my musical heroes. In the past 20 years my musical heroes have been mostly DJs. Laurent Garnier, and in the late '90s I was really into the London tech house sound – Bushwacka, Terry Francis. They’re still kind of heroes of mine. I think they make amazing music. And they influenced me greatly.

What's going on with the house scene in the US? Is it as big as ever?
I think it's sporadic – it's spread out, there's still a lot of really good American style house music – people like Brett Johnson and JT Donaldson making really cool tracks, but as far as pushing the envelope and pushing forward it's few and far between. I don't want to say anything bad about the US 'cause its where I'm from but at the same time in the club scene it's so difficult at the moment.

A lot of people are coming up with really innovative stuff that is maybe kind of over our heads, that we can't understand at the moment. And then there’s people making house music we can play now with a more classic sound that's not necessarily pushing the envelope.

The guys from Detroit, they have their thing going on, then there's the San Francisco crew, Dirtybird making their own sound, but really for a country of 300 million people there's not that much coming out of there. There should be a lot more.

OK so final question. The dancefloor is flagging, what's your failsafe tune to rev it up?
A couple of tunes I've been playing lately are this tune from the late 90s called 'Not Reggae' by the Idjut Boys and another new tune remixed by Pezzner. It's a remix of Roy Davis Jnr 'About Love'. And that is it right there. As soon as it starts coming in it works. I don't think people know it but it's got an amazing beat and an amazing vocal. It's a really perfect tune.

samedi 28 janvier 2012

Deniz Kurtel Interview

Catching Up With...Deniz Kurtel (Crosstown Rebels)

Last year, we were wistfully swept away by the sensational debut artist album of Crosstown Rebels leading lady, Deniz Kurtel. Straddling the disciplines of New York's most sophisticated house and techno with ambient sweeps and dancefloor bounce, ‘Music Watching Over Me’ has left us tentatively set for when we’ll next get an entharlling glimpse into the greatness of Deniz's creative prowess.

So you can imagine our excitement when we speak to Deniz ahead of her highly-antipated Room One live show next Saturday, alongside Perlon's Sammy Dee and she tells us there's a collaboration album soon to drop on her regular staple spot Wolf + Lamb, followed by a second solo album where she hopes to feature her own lyrics and vocals. If it all seems too good to be true, read on to get the whole story here first.

Hey Deniz, how was your New Year, where and who did you celebrate it with?
I played at the Electric Pickle in Miami with Wolf+Lamb, Soul Clap and Tanner Ross, it was an amazing party both outside and upstairs. The Electric Pickle feels very homey to us since we've been in Miami both last winter and this winter and I have a residency there. We also had a bunch of our friends visiting from New York so it felt very special.

Following the huge success of your LP, ‘Music Watching Over Me’ - do you have plans for a follow up album?

Yes, I have a collaboration album coming out in a few months on Wolf+Lamb, with tracks I made with a bunch of Wolf+Lamb artist including Tanner Ross, Gadi Mizrahi, Wolf+Lamb, Voices of Black, Pillow Talk and Thugfucker. After that I'm gonna start working on another solo album.

We read you’re interested in writing lyrics and vocals, are these new passions or something you have always wanted to do. How are ideas developing for this?
No, I never thought of it before I made my first album. I really enjoy using vocals from other singers I think it adds a fresh element to the tracks when it comes from a completely different source, but I also want to try singing myself and write lyrics. I tried writing lyrics for one of the tracks on the collaboration album and tried singing on another one, that's about it. It will take some time to get it right but I definitely want to have more on my next solo album.

What’s it like having Damian as a mentor- what’s the best piece of music advise he’s given you so far?

He's been good at pushing me to reach my potential. When he signed my album I had no experience playing whatsoever and a few months after I started playing, even though I had wrapped up the album he suggested that I should make some more music for it with the experience of performing live and he felt like I would make a big dance track, and I made "The L Word" which did ended up being the most popular one.

What new faces on the Crosstown roster are you really excited to share with the rest of the world and what involvement do you have in finding/ welcoming new talent to the family?

There is a new artist on Crosstown named Amirali, so far I only heard one track from him but he seems to have a pretty unique sound. I just remixed his first single "Beautiful World", which had really cool, melodic elements. He also sings on it and has a really cool voice.

What was your favourite Rebel Rave memory of 2011?

 I haven't been in that many Rebel Raves this year but the one in Los Angeles in August was one of my favorites, followed by the 12 hour road trip to Burning Man with Damian, Jonny and Kenny.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far in your career?

The touring part is perhaps the most challenging to me because I'm not so used it and it's a bit of a distraction from studio time. The traveling also gets a bit exhausting, but it's definitely worth it. Being in Miami with the Wolf+Lamb family the last 2 winters has definitely helped keep a level head for all of us, being in nice weather, eating healthy, enjoying each other's company.

We’re waiting in anticipation for the return of your live show in Room One at the end of the month. In what ways have you been developing the live project since we last had you with us? Can we expect another sensory overload from you?

Both times I've played in that room so far has been magic, so I'm really looking forward to sharing my new music there again. Since last time I've been incorporating a bunch of new material into the set, from new tracks and remixes and also some rework on older tracks. I really wanted to include a LED installation like I had the first time I played there but unfortunately I'm using all my LED supplies in two other projects at the moment so I won't be able to do that. Next time I play there I will make sure to time it right and bring a new LED installation!

Are there new plans to explore DJ sets or do you prefer to play live and if so why?

DJ'ing hasn't been a priority for me yet. I'm definitely interested but music production and my LED projects, together with the touring isn't leaving enough time to get into DJ'ing. Hopefully next year I'll have some time.

Are you consistently working on your LED installations? What’s new and exciting you about your very special and personal project?

Yes, I've definitely been working on more LED projects this year since I finished my album. I've built a LED installation inside a trailer, which I showed at the Electric Pickle in Miami for Art Basel and NYE. I'm planning to go on a road tour of the US with it in April as part of my album tour, starting in Miami with WMC, ending in California. I'm also designing a new club in Istanbul which is scheduled to open in February, for which I'm building a bunch of new LED pieces.

In your attitude and artistry who do you always look to for inspiration in life and in the music world?
I look to my mother a lot for inspiration, who has played a huge role in shaping my artistic approach, and musically I feel very lucky to be part of such talented group of friends that are constantly inspiring each other.

What projects do you have in store for us in 2012?

Main projects I have in store are the collaboration album, the Trailer project, the club project in Istanbul, and a bunch of new exciting remixes.

Finally, if we left you on a desert island tell us five things you couldn’t live without..
Food: coconut water
Music: jazz
Companion: My family
Book: Beast and Man
Gadget: Telescope

vendredi 20 janvier 2012

Gavin Herlihy / Laura Jones - Witching Hour / Inner Place (CRM091)

Making their debuts on Crosstown Rebels with a fitting tribute to Valentines, one of the undergrounds favourite twosomes Gavin Herlihy and Laura Jones unite on ‘Witching Hour / Inner Place’ - a double a-side that sees their smooth and intricate styles collide in an immaculate execution of modern house music.
Gavin brings his warm, textured grooves in ‘Witching Hour’ - a deep house gem that winds off the beaten track in true quirky Herlihy style. With an ominous low-end and warping looped vocal structures, shards of crystalline synths cut through the shadows rendering a mood that is epic and uplifting.
An established figure on the global DJ circuit, Irish born, Leeds based Gavin Herlihy, has built up an illustrious career over the past five years, including a stint in Berlin where he crafted his trade at Panorama Bar, Bar25 and Watergate. Gavin has dropped releases on some of the most prestigious labels on the planet, championed by pioneers like Pete Tong and Ricardo Villalobos. A recent collaboration with Detroit legend Delano Smith on split EP, ‘Krypton Factor’, was widely regarded as one of last year’s standout tracks and the latest on Culprit ‘Endless Feeling’ has been one of his most successful releases to date also marking shift in style.
A classically trained musician and vocalist, Laura Jones has catapulted to the forefront of her game in the past six months with massive releases on Visionquest (‘Live A Little’) and the Leftroom anthem ‘Love In Me’ – recently honoured by remixes from Maceo Plex (reaching #1 in the Beatport deep house chart as the original did), Eats Everything and Kate Simko as part of a special package. Now entering the hallowed Rebels camp, Laura is set to become UK house music royalty as 2012 will surely see her climb the ranks even higher as one of the scene’s most in-demand artists.
The piano hook central to Laura’s cut ‘Inner Place’ was an early idea born at the very beginning of the journey into Logic and formed the basis for this groove, highly emotive yet moody and deep with resonating strings and bass. In the beautifully spaced out ‘Beatless’ version, the haunting atmosphere is fully realised. It’s little wonder Laura’s signature touch on the melodic house sound has brought her to another of dance music’s leading labels.

Gavin Herlihy - Witching Hour (Listen on Soundcloud)
Laura Jones - Inner Place (Listen on Soundcloud)


Label: Crosstown Rebels

  • Cat no: CRM091
  • Web:
  • Distribution: Above Board Distribution
  • Released: Mon Feb 27th, 2012

  • vendredi 6 janvier 2012

    Amirali - Beautiful World (CRM090)

    Beautiful World

    Emerging from the Crosstown Rebels camp and into the limelight, Iranian/Canadian producer Amirali is heading for big things in 2012. Launching the year with first single ‘Beautiful World,’ this dynamic pop-infused bomb will instantly captivate the dancefloor along with its trio of potent reincarnations.
    Laced with the gothic sound of Depeche Mode colliding in the future with the spawn of Art Department and Underworld at Burning Man’s Robot Heart, the original cut of ‘Beautiful World’ is a seductive, space-age concoction of weird and groovy magnitude to enliven the body and feed the soul. Driven by bass swagger and imbued with an air of cinematic harmony, the penetrating vocal injects a gothic pop sensibility and marks out Amirali as the new voice in dance music. In this near epic package, the song is given cubic dimensions by a pool of current world-class talent.
    Suol-mate Daniel Bortz delivers a percussive treat in his remix with bongos and shakers rolling over a deep disco house groove as moody inflections on the vocal and slower swirling pads create lush space between the original elements. Bortz has made a meteoric rise in dance music since his RnB inspired EP ‘The One’ dropped on Suol Music last year. The German producer is also known for his huge re-edits of James Blake, Nirvana and Unkle.
    Next up, the queen of atmospheric house Deniz Kurtel is back on Crosstown ahead of the release of her second artist album later in the year. Bringing down the pace, allowing for plenty of spooky spaciousness, Kurtel’s rework is one of those holy end-of-the-night records, effortlessly gliding from futuristic bleeps to funky licks and utilising the melody to devastating effect. Taking things in an entirely fresh direction, Canadian producer and brother of Mathew Jonson, Nathan Jonson aka Hrdvsion (Wagon Repair) creates a more spikey electro version in the final remix that’s offset with the warping futuristic pads and metallic beats.
    Since opening the Get Lost 4 compilation with the track ‘My Way’, Amirali has been as bubbling talent just waiting to blow up the Rebels camp in 2012. Having been working closely with Damian Lazarus over the past year, the completed album is set for a release this Spring and will see the development of this true musicians unique sound, blurring the lines of techno/disco/funk and electronica along with that mysterious and haunting voice.

  • Label: Crosstown Rebels
  • Cat no: CRM090
  • Web:
  • Distribution: Above Board Distribution
  • Released: Mon Feb 13th, 2012


    Listen :
    A1. Beautiful World by Crosstown Rebels A2. Beautiful World (Daniel Bortz Remix) by Crosstown Rebels B1. Beautiful World (Deniz Kurtel Remix) by Crosstown Rebels B2. Beautiful World (Hrdvsion Remix) by Crosstown Rebels

    jeudi 5 janvier 2012

    Mother Of Seven - Forthcoming Album on Crosstown

    Mother Of Seven is Alejandra Iglesias [AKA Dinky] (music lyrics production mixing ) and Matthew Styles (additional production and mixing) duo based in Berlin..
    Album to be out in 2012 in Crosstown Rebels / K7

    Latest tracks by Mother Of Seven

    Damian's Interview for i-D Magazine

    Starting out as Music Editor of Dazed & Confused, Damian Lazarus took to the tables as an international DJ before founding electronic imprint Crosstown Rebels. He is the unstoppable, go-to source for up-and-coming, underground music.

    Art Department, Maceo Plex, Jamie Jones and Deniz Kurtel all threw down floor-filling anthems last year, released via Crosstown Rebels. Signing trend-setting talent, scouted instinctively, former A & R scout Damian lives in East London and listens to friends and family when looking for new artists. Affected by alternative, experimental sounds, he founded his label in 2003 and has overcome adversity and bankruptcy to establish his house/techno/minimal imprint as an essential home to the unbridled talent of tomorrow.
    Already well prepped and ready for the exciting prospects of 2012, Crosstown Rebels will be releasing albums from Amirali, Jamie Jones, Fur Coat, Maceo Plex, Art Dept and Deniz Kurtel over the coming months. i-D online got exclusive access to Damian in his down-time to find out all about his top tips for 2012, tunes that you will soon be dancing to when the sun goes down this summer.

    When did you first begin the label? Late 2003.

    How do you discover the majority of the new music you sign? Friends, family and like-minded deviants.

    How do you define what you consider to be good music? It’s such a subjective thing, but one must trust one’s instincts and it has to enlighten and/or inspire you. It’s also got to make you dance, in one way or another.

    Who are your strongest musical influences and references? Sound people we’ve met along the way.

    What are some of the barriers to entry you have encountered whilst establishing your label? Three different distribution companies going bust on us, taking all stock and money, each time. Also, Internet piracy has a constant debasing effect of sales. Dwindling vinyl and CD sales.

    What are your plans for expansion? More good music, expanding into other complimentary genres from some great new artists.

    What are some of the up and coming D.I.Y record labels you tip for 2011?
    Hot Creations, Visionquest, Ellum Audio, No19, Culprit

    What is the strongest band or artist you have signed to the label? Jamie Jones or Art Department or Maceo Plex.

    How do you describe the aesthetic and ethos of the label? Have fun all the time, but be nice to your Mum.

    What have you got coming up for the label in 2012? Albums by Jamie Jones, Maceo Plex, Fur Coat, Amirali and Mother of Seven.

    Describe a typical day at work at the label? 12 hours at the sonic coal face mining for gold!