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An Intimate Evening With Girl Talk

Posted by MTV News On December - 5 - 2011

By Zachary Swickey

NORMAN, OKLA. – I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that the world’s greatest party-thrower, Girl Talk, was going to be at the Opolis – a tiny venue in the college town of Norman, Oklahoma, that showcases indie acts and local bands with a capacity well below 200. This must be some kind of mistake, I thought, but just the thought of seeing such a huge act in such an intimate setting was awesome.

Turns out, Girl Talk – also known by his common name, Greg Gillis – is in the midst of a guerilla tour of sorts that is hitting up only eight college cities across the states. For the AXE One Night Only Tour 2011, Gillis is going old-school by performing secret shows in low capacity venues, announcing details of the gigs just days before show time via the AXE Facebook page (four more secret stops are scheduled for this Tuesday through Friday, so be on the lookout). Gillis treated me to a quick phone chat before the show and said this tour is a way to give back to the fans and reminisce over his pre-breakout gigs. “Prior to 2006, I would play anyplace, anytime,” he told MTV News. “The circumstances did not matter.”

Gillis performs anywhere from 150-200 plus times a year, so I knew he’d have some strange show stories. Asked if anything stuck out, in particular, he recounted opening for Blues Traveler and the Violent Femmes at Colorado’s famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre on the 4th of July in 2007. “I think they were expecting me to be some kind of background DJ or something who played music as everyone walks in,” he said. “Instead, I was up there shirtless and screaming doing what I do right as the doors were opening and the first 100 people were shuffling to find their seats.”

Girl Talk

I was also curious as to whether any of the musicians that Gillis has sampled have approached him to give their seal of approval, and was surprised when he told me that Big Boi caught his show in a “small, sweaty club” in Atlanta sometime in 2007-08. An even bigger glowing sign of approval apparently came from Mike Patton (singer of Faith No More). Gillis samples Patton’s group along with Busta Rhymes in a song and when a reporter asked Patton how he felt about it, he responded, “It was an honor to work with Busta Rhymes.” (How’s that for a glowing recommendation?)

When Gillis finally took the stage Saturday night, the crowd showered him with applause before things even began, and it didn’t take long for our party commander to lead us into “Oh No,” the opening track of his 2010 release, All Day, which finds the mash-up mastermind mixing the rhyming talents of Ludacris over the notorious “War Pigs” riff from Black Sabbath. I was wondering what a Girl Talk show without his onstage party henchman was going to be like, but lo and behold, he brought them! Two or three crew members (it’s hard to tell who was official or not) still managed to fit into the small venue to shoot confetti cannons and blast spiraling toilet paper rolls over our heads (not to mention the hundreds of small and giant-size balloons being tossed about).

It’s a good thing Gillis wraps his laptops in saran wrap for protection – he told me he’s had “only one” computer casualty this year – because by the time he got to “Bodies Hit the Floor” (which is the only time you’ll hear Foo’s “Hero” next to Luda’s “Move B**ch”) midway through the set he was drenched in sweat from head to toe and dripping all over the place as he danced while hovering over his laptop.

One of the crowd favorites – another All Day track, “Steady Shock” – was a trip down memory lane that brought together Outkast’s “B.O.B.,” Nirvana’s “Aneurysm” and some Bones Thugs N Harmony, while also keeping it modern with a little Nicki Minaj and J. Cole thrown in the mix. Time flew by as the show soon ended and Gillis flung himself into the crowd with high-fives coming from all directions.

I asked Gillis if he’ll be continuing his pattern of giving us a new release every two years (we’re due for one in 2012), and while he wouldn’t comment specifically on what he’s up to, he assured me he’d be releasing something in 2012 and that it might be “something different.”

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Interview: Mariachi El Bronx At Austin City Limits

Posted by MTV News On September - 20 - 2011

Mariachi El Bronx

By Zachary Swickey

Despite their jet lag and still donning their Mariachi outfits from their set at Austin City Limits, Ray Suen and Jorma Vik sat down with MTV News to discuss Mariachi El Bronx, the Spanish-flavored side project of LA’s finest punk rock bands, The Bronx. Their ACL appearance was a one-off break from their much-coveted opening slot on the Foo Fighters fall tour. El Bronx’s new, niche sound is winning the hearts of many, and the guys were kind enough to shed some light on the project for us.

First off, your name and all of the instruments that you played on the album?
Jorma: I’m Jorma and I play the drums and handle percussion for Mariachi El Bronx.
Ray: I’m Ray and I play violin … and some other stuff. (Editor’s note: I’ll throw Ray a bone here: He plays violin, guitar, harp, requinto jarocho, vihuela, jarana as well providing backing vocals.)

What is the technical term for the Mariachi outfits?
Jorma: They’re called Charro suits. C-H-A-R-R-O.
Ray: We had ours made out in East LA by a guy named Alyas. How did you find Alyas [asking Jorma]?
Jorma: There’s a really f**king cool part of LA and it’s like maybe a half mile square and it’s all these taco shops, mariachi shops and all these places that make the suits or instruments. There’s this one little corner called “Mariachi Plaza” where a bunch of Mariachi dues will be all dressed up and they stand there waiting for people to pick them up to play parties or whatever.

Why no Mariachi hats?
Jorma: We thought it was a little campy. You know people would think, like, the “Three Amigos” or whatever.
Ray: Well, we’re already combating some kind of prejudice and we don’t want to make a mockery of anything, so yeah, it’s exactly that. When people think of Mariachi, especially in the UK, people will say, “Oh like ‘Three Amigos’?” It’s like, “Nooo, not so much like ‘Three Amigos.’”

How was the seed fist planted for the Mariachi spin-off of The Bronx? Was alcohol involved?
Jorma: We got asked to play a TV show as The Bronx, but they wanted us to do it acoustic. We were kind of like, “Ah, that’s not really going to work so well,” so [guitarist] Joby had the idea of getting Mexican instruments and taking one of the slower songs we wrote and turning it Mariachi before we even knew what we were doing at all.

What song was that?
Jorma: It was “Dirty Leaves” off our second record, which is like the slowest song we have. And so we did that, and it was so much f**kin’ fun. We just, you know, had the instruments and just kept writing on them then it just kind of snowballed from there.

How did the recording process differ between the first and second Mariachi record?
Jorma: It was actually very similar. One of the cool things is, we have Ray in the band now where with the first record we hired someone to write the violin lines and then hired a few people that are actually from “American Idol.” They had to come in and play under assumed names, because it’s like they couldn’t even do anything.

It just sounds like there is a lot more going on musically with the new album?
Jorma: Definitely having Ray as part of the process, and having somebody there when we’re writing who’s thinking about the violin parts. You know that just helped a lot.
Ray: People were much more comfortable with the form. From everything I’ve heard from the first record, they were still figuring out or getting comfortable with a lot of the forms and stuff. With that being under everyone’s belt, it was like, “Now we can be more dramatic or strip it down if we want too” with just a lot more options. That’s why I feel like there’s a lot more different kinds of material on the new album.

Ray, what was it like to join and record with a notorious punk band under such a different project?
Ray: It was great because I used to get hyped to the first Bronx record. The first band I ever toured with, we would listen to the first Bronx record and get hyped to it. Then when I found out Mariachi El Bronx was a Swami [Records] band, my mind was just completely blown. But I got over the awestruck thing pretty quickly and felt, “Yeah, I want to help make this better.”

Did you already have experience in playing any Mariachi-esque music at all?
Ray: You know, I used to play in a tango band when I was younger, and the same kind of mellow-drama that happens in tango music is there. There’s no way you can be over-the-top, at least string-wise, in Mariachi El Bronx. So I already had a little bit of that in my system.

How does a band with eight members get from St. Louis to Austin in a single night (which they had to do for their appearance at Austin City Limits)?
Jorma: [laughs and sighs] We woke up at 4 AM today. Got to the airport at 4:30 and flew to Dallas with all our gear. Then flew here [to Austin]. Got here, landed, got driven straight to stage. Set up our s**t. Played our set.

And tomorrow you play in?
Jorma: Detroit.
Ray: Our flight is at 6AM.

Are there any pre-show rituals and do they differ from that of The Bronx?
Jorma: You know, we kind of do the same thing. We all huddle up like a f**kin’ football team and bro down for a second. We put our hands all together and dedicate the show to something, whatever is on our minds, usually something goofy, stupid, some kind of inside joke.
Ray: Today we gave it up to “street justice.”

Are there going to be anymore double-bill shows with Mariachi El Bronx and The Bronx playing sets like you had been doing previously?
Jorma: Yes, we’re doing a mostly Mariachi tour in the UK and Europe in November and December, but we’re doing I think four Scandinavian shows that will feature both bands. And we’re playing Finland for the first time, so that’ll be cool. Yeah, shows in Sweden and Norway have been f**kin’ rad.

You recorded two Mariachi records and The Bronx appears to still be on hold. Is this a bad sign for fans of The Bronx?
Jorma: We did, didn’t we? [laughs] When started writing this Mariachi record, we were writing The Bronx stuff at the same time, and the Mariachi stuff just started coming quicker so we just went with that.

Are you making a lot of new fans or are fans of The Bronx enjoying both?
Jorma: It’s a little of both. It’s wild when people come to see us play as a Mariachi band and they have no idea about The Bronx. So when we go on [as The Bronx] they’re like, “What the f**k is this?” But for the most part, all The Bronx fans have been real cool and opened-minded about it. I think that speaks a lot about the people who are into the band.

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Super8 & Tab "Empire: Remixed" – Sunny Lax Interview

Posted by Anjunabeats On August - 15 - 2011

Hungarian born producer Sunny Lax aka Levente Márton has been synonymous with the dancefloor since his debut release (“P.U.M.A”/”Cassiopeia”) on Anjunabeats in February 2006. An instant hit, “P.U.M.A.” was supported by Above & Beyond, Paul Van Dyk and Armin Van Buuren, making his presence across the scene well and truly felt. Taking influence from a variety of music, and indeed life, Sunny Lax has become an experienced and versatile producer – enjoying a productive 2011 indeed. Having made waves with his Anjunadeep debut “Big Fat Kiss” (as Levente Márton ) earlier in the year, he has since gone to remix Above & Beyond’s anthem “Thing Called Love” , and also Super8 & Tab’s “Free Love” for “Empire: Remixed” LP. We caught up with the man to talk about influences, future plans, and “Free Love”…

You began producing at the early age of 13. What motivated you to start in the first place? What were you listening to prior to this?

“I was a geek in those times, and so it began with a CD attachment from a geeky PC magazine. There was tracker software on the CD with a lot of demo music, and I just tried it. My music taste has transformed since this time from the rap and R&B stuff to electronic music. At first, the German Line reached me with a Dream Dance compilation. Actually there were just a few real trance tracks on this; the compilation was dance really, but I liked it.”

Did you have a musical upbringing, or was it largely inspired from your own interest?

“I never learnt music, but I have never felt at a disadvantage. I think your own experiences are worth more than somebody just showing you things. And music is an ART not an exact science. You can learn the main rules but some rules just restrict you. And then we have to step over the limits.”

What does it mean to hear DJs like Armin Van Buuren, Paul Van Dyk and Above & Beyond playing your tracks?

“It was always my dream, so it means my dream has come true. It’s certainly a fabulous feeling. I remember when James Grant sent me an e-mail saying: “P.U.M.A. was played in ASOT as Tune of the Week and Paul van Dyk also played it in his show.” I just wrote back something crazy like “WOOOOOOOOOW. OMG, I can’t believe it!!!!!!” or something like that, and the answer back was just: “Welcome aboard!””

Your inspirations include Coldplay, Moby and Vangelis, who are far from the world of trance. Are there any trance DJs or producers that you particularly looked up to as you were going through your teenage years?

Certainly trance DJs have also inspired me. Mainly the biggest like Above & Beyond, Armin, PvD, Tiesto, ATB. There are some nice albums by these names still in my cabinet, and they are dear to my heart.”

With regards to “Empire: Remixed”, you revised and transformed a striking, downbeat track, into an uplifting trance anthem. How did you approach the remix?

“It wasn’t so difficult. The original track is 68 bpm, which is exactly half of a good uplifting track, so it works pretty well with my 135 bpm. Also I wrote a chunky groove underneath, and a whole new track with new chord progressions. That was the hard part, because I loved the original chords, but I tried to write something similar in mood with more party vibe. I didn’t plan to write an uplifting track but somehow it came.”

Who would you say has had the most influence on your career? Personally or professionally?

“Life has the most influence on me. Every good and bad thing can inspire, but my sweetheart is my muse, and she is also an artist; a photographer. But she also has very, very, good hearing. She always checks my tracks before I finish them. And she always has some instructions.”

Is there anyone in particular that you would love to collaborate with?

“It would be great to do something with Mat Zo.”

And finally, what should we expect from you five years from now?

More music, and I think more vocal tracks! And I hope to make my own album. Lately I’ve been focusing on my sound designer side, so there’ll be more sample libraries and sound-sets!”

Sunny Lax’s remix of Super8 & Tab feat. Jan Burton “Free Love” is featured on “Empire: Remixed”, which is released on Anjunabeats on 22nd August. To pre-order on Anjunastore click HERE.

To pre-order on iTunes click HERE.

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Super8 & Tab "Empire: Remixed" – Protoculture Interview

Posted by Anjunabeats On August - 4 - 2011

Nate Raubenheimer aka Protoculture has been stamping his presence all over the trance scene for the best part of a decade. With three highly acclaimed artist albums behind him on the psy-trance influenced Nano label, Protoculture is now setting the trance scene at large alight with high profile remixes of tracks like Grace’s timeless classic “Not Over Yet” and, of course, Super8 & Tab’s “Black Is The New Yellow” – which will bring his magic to the “Empire: Remixed” album.

Ahead of its release, we catch up with the well-travelled Cape Town Native to find out about his influences, the Super 8 and Tab remix and the (busy) future of Protoculture

As a child, you played around with jazz and classical piano music. Do these styles have much of an influence on your work today?
“Yes. I think everything you do has some kind of influence on your work. I don’t think I draw specifically from jazz or classical these days, but I’m definitely from a more traditional musical background, which does have an impact on the way I do things. I’ve been tinkering around with a piano since I was about 6 years old, and got my first computer with music software at age 12.”

You’ve played all over the world. Do you get a chance to relax and take in your surroundings, or is it all work?
“I do try, but a lot of the time things do tend to pass you buy. I always try to take a little time to experience a new place. I’m know I’m very lucky to have a job that takes me all over the world, so you want to try and make the best of it. Although places I’ve been to a number of times before do tend to be more about getting straight down to business.”

Looking back at your first release, “Superhighway Samurai,” has the approach that you take to writing changed much? How has your sound evolved?
“Yes, definitely. For a start, the technology has changed such a lot since then. I remember putting that track together with a Waldorf XTk, and Cakewalk 2 or something like that. These days I’m based in Cubase mostly. I think the approach to writing a track for me is far more focused as well these days. Back when I did “Superhighway Samurai”, it was very much trial and error for me, a lot of experimenting and learning, and rather innocent songwriting.”

Who has been your favourite artist to work with in the past and who would you like to work with in the future?
“I’ve enjoyed quite a close partnership with Max Graham lately. We really get along very well, and have a lot in common. He’s been quite instrumental in my move from the more underground psy-trance scene to progressive trance, and he introduced me to guys like Armin van Buuren and Markus Schulz. As for future collaborations, there’s a ton of artists I’d love to work with like BT, the Crystal Method, Simon Posford, Hybrid, Charlie May and a ton of others…”

Have you noticed much change in the Cape Town trance scene over the years?
“Yeah, trance used to be abundant in South Africa in the ’90s, but it kind of took a turn for the worse, for me at least, in 2000. I was heavily involved in the outdoor psy-trance scene after that. But in the last two years there’s been a big resurgence of trance in South Africa. We’ve had a ton of big names like Above & Beyond, Ferry Corsten, Armin van Buuren, Marcus Schulz and others perform there recently and it’s looking really promising for the future of the scene in SA.”

How did you come to remix Super8 & Tab’s “Black Is The New Yellow?”
“”I had actually just released the remix for M.I.K.E’s “Art of Love| a few months before I got the request from Anjunabeats, and Super 8 and Tab and Above & Beyond had been dropping it in their sets. When I was asked to do the remix for “Black Is The New Yellow”, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to do it, as I’d been a big fan of the original as well.”

What’s next for Protoculture?
“Lots! It’s been an awesome year for me so far and it has just inspired me to work even harder on new stuff. I’ve got some new singles coming up soon, as well as some remixes and collaborations on the cards. I’ve also got a pretty busy tour schedule for the next few months but I’d like to hopefully also sit down and start work on another album at some point as well.”

Protoculture’s remix of Super8 & Tab feat. Anton Sonin “Black Is The New Yellow” is featured on “Empire: Remixed”, which is released on Anjunabeats on 22nd August. To pre-order on Anjunastore click HERE.

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Super8 & Tab "Empire: Remixed" – Maor Levi Interview

Posted by Anjunabeats On July - 29 - 2011

From musical prodigy to production heavyweight, Maor Levi is still going from strength to strength – his recent big room remix of Super8 & Tab’s “Slow To Learn” the latest in a string of anthems this year. From his first major track “Lital” six years ago, Maor’s style has continually expanded and experimented – blending a range of influences and genres into a uniquely potent force.

Here we chat to the Israeli producer about his recent “Slow to Learn” remix, his musical motivations and his future aspirations.

You released your first major track, “Lital”, on Anjunadeep at the age of 17. Has your production style changed much since then?
“Quite a lot. As time went by I was listening to more genres and was open things that I didn’t listen to before. I was mostly a trancehead! I learnt new techniques and explored lots of new software, articles and hardware gear and developed the quality of my sound. Also, gear-wise, I’ve earned some money and upgraded my studio.

Who influenced your work in the early days?
“People like Tiesto and, of course, Above & Beyond, but I was also listening to some hard-trance and psy-trance by Infected Mushroom, Doof, Astrix and also lots of old musicians such as Beastie Boys, Pink Floyd and Rage Against the Machine. They have all somehow blended inside my music ever since!

Living in Israeli, you spent three years doing national service full time. Did you take a complete break from music or did you get the opportunity to keep producing while you were serving?
“Not a complete break but yeah I was quite silent while serving. I had too much stuff to do before I went back to basecamp, and while working on music I need my inner peace, which I didn’t have.”

What is the main difference between Maor Levi and your alias, 123XYZ?
“Maor Levi is towards melodic trance & progressive house/trance and 123XYZ is more on the underground side of things…such as techno,tech house, minimal, jackin house etc. I prefer dividing the two, like a Twin and his Evil Twin.”

How do you approach remixing other peoples work?
“I basically get a lot of offers from record labels to remix other people’s work. I prefer staying loyal to record labels I know and that I can benefit and earn promotion from, which is what I deserve from my hard work. Certain labels these days won’t really do any promotion or pay their artists for their hard work! However, with bootleg remixes, ideas come to mind and you can quickly translate them to music.”

What has been your favourite track to remix?
“I really enjoyed remixing Hybrid’s ‘Disappear Here’, which started off as a bootleg and ended up released on Distinctive with another remix by me. It was fun because I’ve never worked with Hybrid. It was quite fun messing around with the awesome stems from the original and turning it into something different, yet keeping the original feeling in it.”

Did you have a clear vision of where you wanted to take Super8 & Tab’s “Slow To Learn?” How did the remix take shape?
“Not at all, I always had a problem remixing vocal tracks…but once I had the baseline ready on this remix, I had it all basically written in my head. Call it a good blend of house & trance I guess, and I finished that remix three days after I was asked to remix it. Inspiration came on a golden tray!”

What did you like about the original?
“The original track’s simplicity is what makes it a winner, it has a very old school atmosphere to it and reminds me of the old progressive trance style I used to listen to when I was 14. Top work!”

Your sound is constantly changing and evolving. What’s next for Maor Levi?
Quite a lot, I try not to stick to one signature sound, but expect more stuff towards the house genre as well!

Maor Levi’s remix of Super8 & Tab feat. Jan Burton “Slow To Learn” is featured on “Empire: Remixed”, which is released on Anjunabeats on 22nd August. To pre-order on Anjunastore click HERE.

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