After two years of predominately DJ gigs in the States, Simian Mobile Disco will play as a live act again this Fall! In addition to dropping their 5th studio album ‘Whorl‘, they will perform the entire thing for US audiences. The album itself was recorded in the live format, so what better way to bring this new music into the world? After an official album-release party in London, the duo will journey across the pond for 8 live dates in America starting in Washington, DC. Expect the unexpected friends, Jas Shaw and James Ford have cooked up something fresh for this run. See if they’re playing near you in the dates posted below!
Memorial Day Weekend has taken on a completely different meaning to the lovers of live music, and it would seem everyone got their own little piece of heaven this weekend, especially the techno junkies (guilty). From the furthest depths of the underground to big stage DJ’s, everyone got their fix as hundreds of performers from around the world shared bills at multiple festivals across the country last weekend. Detroit celebrated the annual Movement Electronic Festival with a seemingly endless bill of top-notch producers. Once again, Insomniac took over New York City with this year’s initial Electric Daisy Carnival. Then there was the Mysteryland Electronic Music Festival held in Bethel, NY which made history both with it’s first US appearance, and as the first camping event on the original Woodstock grounds since 1969! While it is true that the title slightly reminisces some pop star’s mansion that you’d never let your kids near, this fest actually proved to be really unique.
It is human nature to watch chaos unfold, even if we know the outcome will be disastrous. Anytime we walk way from such discord, we are fighting a primal urge to see it run it’s course. It’s kind of like watching Hostel for the first time. Many will curse the film and dismiss it as mindless dribble, to which we can’t confirm nor deny, but we’re willing to bet you watched it through to the end on your initial view. We’re not saying that the new guestmix from Raxon is anything similar to a sadistic group of rich murderers, but that voyeuristic nature does apply. You sense the darkness filling in around you as he delves deeper into the tracks, but you can’t pull yourself away. Check out this installment that Raxon did for Noir Music, released last week. It strikes fear into the dancefloor.
Ichisan, aka Igor Skafar, is a man of many melodies. The last winter months saw his official live breach into the US and over the recent weeks, followers here got an answer to a once unimaginable question: How does he do on stage? From the club infested Burroughs of New York City, to the smokey streets of Denver and back again, fans across the country finally got a proper introduction to our guest of honor, and the reviews are phenomenal. Last night you see, time was officially split into two parts for both he and his fans alike: The part before the moment happens, when anticipation is governing your nerves and all is unknown, and the part after, when the moment transcends into memory. We know our readers show their true colors in the moonlight, in a dedicated pursuit of the beats that bump in the shadows. We know all too well the endless search for the perfect note, and the perfect moment. We know what it is like to roll the dice on a musician you’ve never seen live before, but patrons hit a streak of fortune with Ichisan’s recent performances. House of Acid_Reviews founder Cody Bates got to catch up with him for an exclusive interview while he was in Boston last week, check it out below>
1. So, we gotta start with the name. Where did it come from? It doesn’t sound very-
Ichisan: ” -Slovenian? Haha yes I know. It all started with my co-workers at this photography job I had. “Ichi” is short for Igor in Slovenia, and one day I came in and one of them just yelled it: “Hey Ichisan!” Then I thought it could be a good moniker for me.”
2. Before, you juggled doing both professional photography and recording music, with occasional live performances as well. With this tour and the upcoming releases, do you still juggle the two?
Ichisan: “Oh yeah I still do photography. Lately it’s been a slow switch to doing the music thing full time, but I love photography. I will always do it no matter what.”
3. Do you see any future with Eskimo Recordings?
Ichisan: “I’ve been planning a solo album. I started it last year. I’ve been talking to Justin, my manger, and I decided I liked Eskimo for maybe doing the release. I’m good friends with the guy in charge over there. So yeah, the solo album possibly on Eskimo next year.”
4. I was able to meet Tensnake at his performance in Brooklyn the other week. He had mentioned you two were corresponding. Should we be expecting a possible collaboration or perhaps a shared live bill in the future?
Ichisan: “I don’t know, we didn’t talk about that we just met. We met before another time in Croatia at some festival and we became friends, and I don’t know, maybe. He’s here for three months he’s doing this huge tour. So I don’t know, hopefully yes, that’s all I can say I guess.”
5. Yeah he’s a blast to see. Are there any notable differences between playing clubs here versus Europe?
Ichisan: “Um, the United States is much bigger than Europe, and the venues are much bigger than Europe’s. US has a lot more people coming to the show, and, it looks like I have much more fans here than in Europe haha. I have bigger shows here, and that’s the main difference really.”
6. A lot of Americans idolize the European club scene, places like Ibiza, We Love.., Social Club, Ministry of Sound, etc. Do you find that sort of fascination where you come from for our “scene”? Such as the jam culture, like Phish, or The Disco Bicuits?
Ichisan: “I can’t really answer this question. In my view, I say yes, but I can’t really speak for everyone.”
7. Tell us a little about your performances. Do your sets differ from night to night? Do you improvise at all based on the vibe of the crowd?
Ichisan: “Yes, of course. I’m not the guy who is playing beginning to end the same tracks every venue. Actually I prepare 5 tracks, but the not the same as say last night. That’s how I start, and then I just go through the set and jam. I’m always watching the crowd. When I see what kind of music they’re hooked to, then I just go that way. On the second half of the tour with these guys [Boombox], I like to start off slow, maybe 110 bpms, slowly going up with the tempo. You know, you can’t open the show with a banger.”
8. Yeah I hear you. Well congratulations on a sold out show! I’ve never seen this place sell out before. Boombox brought a lot in, but you had a lock on that crowd second set, and don’t you forget it! Speaking of the live aspect, tell us about the synthesizer collection you record with? Do you use any analogue?
Ichisan: “Yeah for sure. I have the Oberhiem 0B8, um I have a couple synths actually. I have the Juno 106, everybody has that synth and a small Roland SH9 which is a base actually. Um, I played some new tracks I recently made which are gonna be released later this year, and I used that small synth a lot. It’s a good synth for those lead and bass sounds. Let’s see, I have a Moog prodigy, and Fender guitars, uh a stratocaster and jazz bass.”
9. Yeah, you record with live instruments mostly, correct?
Ichisan: “I try to record as much as I can with as much live instruments. So I record with a lot of guitars and bass, and the snyths. Especially on the new record.”
10. One of the most notable characteristics of your mixes is the fluidity and mystery to your tracks. You hear some of these other chart mixes, and lot of the songs tend to bleed over. What is your tracklist process like?
Ichisan: “I’m really glad to hear that man! Actually I didn’t know that about these tracks. All the tracks, well a lot of the tracks, are like European producers or maybe English guys, or producers in the Norwegian scene. I love the Norwegian sound right now. It’s funny like Todd Terje is not so big here, well he is here a little, but Prins Thomas not so much. He is HUGE is Europe!”
11. Yeah I know it’s crazy! Todd Terje is starting to make his mark over here. Prins Thomas though, no, and it’s so weird because he’s playing like 11 hour sets over in Europe and doing all this great stuff.
Ichisan: “Yeah it’s funny to me that I’m here, but Prins Thomas is not. It’s ridiculous actually.”
12. We really enjoy the spacey side to your music, but we’ve noticed you get really heavy on the disco vibe as well. Which is your favorite to play? You have a very good blend of both.
Ichisan: “Yeah actually, when I’m doing clubs I usually do more disco stuff, more disco-house stuff. When I’m recording these mixes, I’m recording them more for listening and less for the dancey stuff. I mean I also like mixing them, from space sounds, to these disco sounds, to techno, and stuff I play live.”
13. That makes sense. I’ve met fans who go to bed and rise in the morning to your music. What do you like to wake up to?
Ichisan: “That’s a really hard question. I listen to so many kinds of music, so many genres, that’s really hard. Usually I’m not listening to electronic music when I’m home doing something. I like this Balearic stuff, spacey stuff you know?”
14. David Byrne presented his “Reverse Creation Theory” in his recent book on the analysis of music. This theory basically states that the common idea of a composer sitting alone in a room, getting a sudden rush of inspiration and furiously scribbling a masterpiece onto a piece of paper, is a false interpretation of writing music works. The theory contradicts that notion, arguing that music is product of environmental factors. What do you think are some the environmental factors in making the music you do?
Ichisan: “A hard question as well. That’s correct. Probably the music I’m listening to you know? The biggest influence. I don’t know, maybe also the country I’m coming from, formerly Yugoslavia, where I was born actually. You familiar with the story our country? Slovenia, where I live, is a former republic of Yugoslavia. The Yugo Tempo album I made with Nakova a while back, was inspired by our childhood. A lot of the tracks come from Yugoslavia country stuff. Maybe there’s some Yugoslavian funk in my music haha.”
15. The internet, social media, and places like Soundcloud have changed the face of music in it’s entirety. The free trade of music has subsequently changed the recording industry. What advice do you have for upcoming producers/musicians trying to make music professionally?
Ichisan: “The music trade is great. I would just say just don’t quit, just do it. Go for it. Upload music, put music up for people to hear. You need to have to some, I don’t know, luck as well, but just do it. Don’t stop, just go for it and it will happen.”
16. Where do you see your career a year from now?
Ichisan: “Oh that’s another hard question to answer! Uh, it’s this, yeah it really is. What I’m doing right now, playing in clubs and venues like this for you guys, just having a good time. I love it.”
Amphitheater and stadium shows have their merits, but in those situations the experience is limited to the music, and the individual listener perceiving it. In the end it is about what you endured, the musicians themselves might as well be silhouettes in the big arena context. Their emotional tie to the music being played is irrelevant on some level, because you don’t get to really see it. This also leaves the performer(s) in complete control of the situation. Sure this is always true; it is up to them to command your indulgence, but in a big arena you’re taking the human connection out of the equation. In that context, connection only occurs in the audience. With these smaller club shows, the playing field is much different. The musician is on your turf as much as you are on theirs, and they are forced to connect and take responsibility for your intrinsic reactions. The eyes of the fans and of the artist playing are much, much closer, and when they meet it is on a deeper level. In this context, if the musician gets a lock on you, it has a significant emotional payoff that you just can’t get in the bigger venues. Ichisan apparently has this concept down, as this was the case in his performances.
Having just culminated his North American tour with Boombox last night in the beautiful white mountains of Vermont, Ichisan will be heading home for now. His next EP is scheduled to be released on the Prins Thomas label, Internasjonal, this summer. Add that to the success he has had with multiple sold out shows over his stretch here, and we’re sure he can find an excuse to come back. Yes, the journey is far from over. Deathwaltz Media Group has their hands on him, and they’ve built a solid reputation for hearing the demands of the fans. You just might see him here in the States sooner than you think.
Yes, that’s right, James Holden is appearing for a special extended set at Output in Brooklyn, NY at the end of next April, courtesy of The Bunker. The acoustically arousing, Funktion-One equipped venue is a perfect fit for an artist of this caliber. Selling out basically every show he books in the US, this will probably be no different, so we advise getting tickets immediately. Did we mention this is the only show he has announced in the US? We’d also like to say it one more time in big letters, EXTENED SET. In fact, posting this article will probably aid in our staff not being able to get tickets. Holden will be joined by Bryan Kasenic, Timothy J. Fairplay & Scott Fraser, and Mike Servito. You can find the link to tickets below.
Where as James Murphy used LCD Soundsytem to celebrate music in it’s entirety, James Holden examines the chronicle of technology in music, and it’s particular attributes in different contexts. He’s really similar to Roger Waters in the sounds that he designs, and that’s probably no coincidence. He’s been known to showcase synth-based tracks in his mixes ranging from the 60’s, to present day. His finesse with careful, expansive, psychedelic layering, is distinct to say the least. He’s also a shining example that you don’t need a heavy drum beat or bass line to make digitally produced music (that’s your Que, Pitchfork). Once acquainted, you’ll be able to identify his style anywhere. Last year saw the release of his album ‘The Inheritors’ on Border Community which sealed his canonization into both electronic albums and as a legend alike. It’s hard to truly fathom that this musician first made his mark on the charts in 1999. We could vaguely refer to him as a Minimal producer, and that would only serve the purpose of catering to human nature’s need to understand what’s being presented. I’m sure James could relate to that. The man is certainly on a different plane. If there was a subject deserving of the label “existential techno”, his music would inherently fit. This is because every sound, note, and effect, every instrument used to produce it, is being implemented for a specific reason. If you read some of his interviews, you’ll find that there is a unique method behind each of his releases.
Although we may not understand him, we can at least get closure in understanding his live methods/instrumentation. On stage and in studio (in which he typically records live) he uses a history lesson worth of equipment, including but nowhere near limited to, modular analogue synthesizers, effects pedals, MIDI and DOWO controllers, and various software. His performances are done with either a live band, which is comprised of him on synths, a drummer, a bass player, and other altering roles, or as a DJ set. Both have equal reward in experience. For a (likely) short window of time, you can seize the opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. What’s it gonna hurt to possibly see some genuine, unique talent perform in one of the most proper sounding nightclubs in New York City? The link to tickets is there if you want to click it 🙂