After last year’s change in direction Hamburg duo Digitalism are back doing what they do best: electro. This month see’s the enigmatic duo release their first DJ Kicks compilation.
Like many before them the duo have pulled out all the stops to make their compilation really standout. Not only do you get a perfectly executed mix of electro, disco and other odds and sods, but the duo saw fit to add 6 never released tracks as well as slew of exclusive tracks from acts as varied as Solomun to The Rapture.
The true test of any compilation is its ability to take you on a journey, and during the 60 minute mix you’re treated to a whistle-stop tour of some of the greats of electro, disco and techno. The mix starts on steady footing with Sharooz and Hey Today’s unique blend of up-front electro and techno.
From there you take in the sights and sounds of a variety of classic tracks from WhoMadeWho to Alex Gopher – while these tracks are great, the mix really comes alive when you start hitting tracks that you have never been heard before, from Digitalism’s ‘Fallin’ to Gai Barone ‘Alicudi’ which also gets a special Digitalism remix. The real meat comes in the form of the 6 original tracks from the duo – which are the real show-stoppers, and any distaste towards last year’s new direction melts away within a cacophony of compressed electro from the likes of ‘A New Drug’, ‘Silenz’ and ‘The Picture’.
Ultimately, Digitalism’s DJ Kicks finally see’s the duo reconcile last year’s indie leanings with their ubiquitous electro to devastating effect – with a slew of new material, it see’s the duo back to their very best.
HBF Rating 5/5
We managed to grab a few minutes with duo, it went a little something like this…..
HBF: DJ Kicks has been mixed by a wealth of talent over the years – were you both nervous creating a compilation for the first time?
It wasn’t the first time we’ve done a compilation – we’ve already done one in 2008, a Kitsuné Tabloid, but surely a very big thing for us. We still remember the series from back then when we met at a record store in Hamburg, selling vinyl there and browsing through music everyday. Lots of those DJ-kicks ended up in our collections; they’ve always been pretty avantgarde. Coming from a DJ-background, being asked to do one of these is a bit like getting the knighthood, so of course we took it pretty seriously, but we knew how we wanted it to be, so there was no nervousness involved.
HBF: Your DJ Kicks mix features a lot of new productions – were they made when you recorded your last album or especially for the mix? Did you consider releasing them as a separate album?
We got the request for the DJ-kicks in right in the middle of a production run earlier this year when we were hanging out in California. We set up a small studio there and were jamming out tracks. There wasn’t a masterplan for a new album yet, but then we thought the upcoming DJ-kicks could be a perfect platform for these and a few more tracks that didn’t get a release yet. Like the other previous compilations in this series, we wanted this to be more than just a normal DJ-mix, so we chose to put a bunch of new Digitalism music on there. ‘The Pictures’ and ‘Simply Dead’ have been in our sets for a while and finally deserved a release; ‘So Totally Good’, ‘Falling’ and ‘A New Drug’ were just finished, and the two remixes we did for Gai Barone and The Rapture were especially done for the DJ-kicks.
This release is taking us back to our origins as DJs, because it represents the various genres that we absorbed into our sound as a band and as DJs over the years, and it mirrors exactly how we started making music. We’d always make something new for the weekends to play, and on this mix you’ll find a lot of new original material, mixed with the other songs from our selection. It’s 2 in 1, a little mini EP embedded into a mix compilation.
HBF: The mix draws heavily on old-school electro; do you think it’s making a comeback?
As everything, also electro is gonna get recycled one day. At the minute electronic music is either pretty deep or extreme pop. We’ve always been fans of uniting scenes and audiences, we don’t like residing just in one particular genre too much. Digitalism was born out of boredom because a lot of dance music in 2002 sounded the same, so we went more leftfield and played not only house but also disco punk, wave, indie, breaks, hiphop and electro clash records. All these different genres as an entirety are our sound, and this DJ-kicks is meant to be a look into our history and favorite records and producers.
HBF: From when you were asked to make the mix to completion, how long did it take to create the mix? Did you enjoy the process as much as you’d thought?
Oh yeah, we had more fun doing it than expected actually. We took the historic approach and wrote down an extensive list of all the tracks, labels and artists that we used to play again and again during the last decade, added new stuff by friends and finally our own new music, and then started narrowing the whole thing down. There were tracks that turned out not to be as important, so they got deleted.
It was important for us that we’d cover our entire sonic spectrum, so a few of each were enough. Then we started working on the track order, and that dictated the rest and kicked some more tracks out. We like building mixes in waves, create a mood, take it to a peak and take the energy out again… So we did have to do a few tests when mixing. Overall we started in February and were finished two months later. It wasn’t too bad actually!
HBF: What made you choose classic tracks from Vitalic and Hiroki Esashika? Were they just old-favorites or were there other reasons?
Vitalic has been one of our favourite producers of all time, combining 80s electro with heavy techno, and Hiroki Esashika’s ‘Kazane’ was a track that we’ve been playing for ages in our sets, so they both had to end up on our DJ-kicks of course. That’s our selection method – the tracklist was supposed to mirror our personal tastes and history.
HBF: How did you record the mix – was it a studio mix or done live on CDJs or Ableton?
It was a mix between parts that we recorded live on CDJs and Ableton, where we edited the whole thing and did the post-production.
HBF: You’ve been performing as a band for your latest album – do you enjoy playing as band more than a tag-team DJ duo?
We love both, and we get bored so easily that we keep on switching back and forth between playing live and DJing. The live show has developed and become pretty big over the last six years, and last year we did 90 shows in 6 months with a live drummer on board. It was fun, but this year we changed the whole thing again and been touring it a lot. There’ll be a lot of DJ-gigs in 2012 too, though, and that’s usually the perfect opportunity to test new stuff out. When you play live, people sometimes don’t get it when you play something that they’ve not heard before. We’ve done that too, though.
HBF: What’s next for Digitalism? Have you started thinking about your next album?
We spend a lot of time in the studio again and collect ideas on the road. After having done ‘the second album’ we feel pretty much free to do anything now, which is exciting. We’ve established out sound and pushed our boundaries on ‘I Love You, Dude’. First the DJ-kicks, and then people should get ready for the next step of surprises. We like the nature of that.
If your studio was on fire and you could save one thing each what would it be and why?
Our EMS Synthi A, because it’s super rare and is from the 70s and built into a suitcase. You can route anything through it and it’s got amazing spring reverb. And our first computer that we made ‘Idealism’ on – it’s still there and full of dust, but running.
Out June 25.
01. AXEL LE BARON & KURBATOV – MENACE (ORIGINAL MIX)
02. SURRENDER ! – TRAVELLERS (SHAROOZ REMIX)
03. HEY TODAY! – 83
04. ALEX GOPHER – BRAIN LEECH
05. TWR72 – SUMMER
06. DIGITALISM – FALLING *
07. GAI BARONE – ALICUDI (DIGITALISM ELECTRO CLASH EDIT) *
08. DIGITALISM – SIMPLY DEAD *
09. WHOMADEWHO – THE SUN
10. KÖLSCH – LORELEY
11. GRAUZONE – RAUM (ATA’S EXTENDED MIX)
12. TOMAS BARFOD – CAME TO PARTY
13. DIGITALISM – A NEW DRUG *
14. DIGITALISM – SILENZ *
15. HIROKI ESASHIKA – KAZANE
16. VITALIC – SECOND LIVES
17. DIGITALISM – SO TOTALLY GOOD *
18. HOUSEMEISTER – SOMMER
19. THE RAPTURE – SAIL AWAY (DIGITALISM REMIX) *
20. THE SNEEKERS – TEDDY (ORIGINAL MIX)
21. AUTOTUNE – KEEP IT WRONG
22. DIGITALISM – THE PICTURES
* = DJ-Kicks exclusive
A1. DIGITALISM – FALLING
A2. GAI BARONE – ALICUDI (DIGITALISM ELECTRO CLASH EDIT)
B1. DIGITALISM – SIMPLY DEAD
B2. DIGITALISM – A NEW DRUG
C1. DIGITALISM – SO TOTALLY GOOD
C2. DIGITALISM – SILENZ
D1. THE RAPTURE – SAIL AWAY (DIGITALISM REMIX)
D2. DIGITALISM – THE PICTURES
012 marks the 27th anniversary of !K7 Records. The label will be celebrating with a series of live events, releases, and special projects incorporating music and artists from past, present and future of the label, and the DJ-Kicks series.
For More Information, Check Out:http://www.dj-kicks.com