PLEASURE AND PAIN: JESSIE WARE’S NEW SINGLE, “TOUGH LOVE”

Jessie Ware took 2012 by storm with the debut album, “Devotion,” but the UK singer didn’t cease to stop there. Upon the album’s release, a cover of 1990’s R&B group, Brownstone’s “If You Love Me”  took to the blog-o-sphere and thus Ms. Ware has barely left our cranial void. BenZel, producer duo of London’s Two Inch Punch and Benny Blanco, who created the sonically-charged cover have laid another track for Jessie in newly released single, “Tough Love,” which we can only assume is the first glimpse into Jessie’s “Devotion” follow-up.

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Following the Brownstone cover’s lush synth and percussion, Jessie’s vocal stylings progresses throughout the track, alluding to the same kind of devotion and passion onto “Tough Love,” as we heard throughout that stellar first album. Check out the track below.

ELECTRONICA AS NARRATIVE: JON HOPKINS ON THE VERY HUMAN PROCESS OF PRODUCTION

Not to be confused with the top-rated university, Jon Hopkins reigns from a decidedly more contrary world — music. The UK electronica artist crafts tracks that manage to achieve a rare combination of emotive expression and technical precision. There’s a perfection in the atmospheric pulse of Hopkins‘ tracks, a meticulousness to every sonic movement. His ability to weave resonant narratives through electronic music has caught the ears of everyone from Imogen Heap, with whom Hopkins jumpstarted his career as a guitarist, to ambient legend, Brian Eno. With collaborations and remixes with respected electronic innovators like Four Tet and Nosaj Thing under his belt, Hopkins more recently found resounding success with his June 2013-released LP, Immunity, garnering his second Mercury Prize nomination.

We caught up with the rising musician ahead of his upcoming show (Saturday, November 30 at the Echoplex) and talk movie scores, technology, and the very human process of music production.

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LA CANVAS: You’ve spoken in interviews a lot about the tension between technology and human emotion – why do you gravitate toward electronic music in particular to express emotion?

Jon Hopkins: It’s hard to answer that really, I mean my primary motive is just following my instincts – it was just as soon as I heard it when I was a kid, I connected to it. It was just more exciting to me to hear sounds that I had never heard before. it occurred to me even then that it was like an open platform – it would evolve like people do. It’s impossible to imagine the type of sounds that will be possible to make in time – and I love that idea, much more than trying to find new ways of playing the piano – which is the other side of what I was doing. But as the years went on, what I wanted to do as a kid has come true. So now I can imagine the sound and make it.

LAC: Speaking of making any sound you want – you mentioned listening to raindrops coming down a pipe and really wanting to capture that sound – what’s been the most difficult sound or image that you have tried to capture?

JH: I don’t actually try to capture the [exact] thing, it’s more like inspiration for things. So the raindrop thing was actually water running through pipes in a hotel room – it happened to be resonating in a way that was inexplicable. It was like causing this chord to happen and it was a completely random thing. It seemed like a random passage. It wasn’t like I was trying to replicate the sound but more the feeling of it. I don’t go around with a recorder.

The sounds that are on the record that are real world sounds, are ones that I captured from around the studio where I am. To me they seemed really logical to include. It’s like incorporating the world and my own reality into it. So I don’t go to lengths to capture things around me unless I am actually writing.

LAC: You’ve worked on a couple movie scores…

JH: Yes, I’ve done four actually.

LAC: If you could pick a movie score – not necessarily the ones that you’ve worked on – but just in general, if you could pick one to represent your life, which would it be?

JH: Hm, the reality of my life – it would be Twin Peaks. It has a pretty exceptional score. Theres something incredibly dark and deep and beautiful about that score that really resonates with me more than any other score has. It is just so well arranged. We imagine some art closer to our hearts than others – and that’s definitely the one for me.

LAC: When we listen to your music we get the sense that it is deeply personal. Does the process for your music ever exhaust you emotionally, or do you find that it energizes you?

JH: It’s a total mix of those two things actually. When you said ‘does it ever exhaust you?’ I found myself nodding. It’s like I put nine months of work into that album. It really takes a toll – it really takes over your life. It makes it in some ways difficult – when you’ve had an amazingly intense day, and you’re making a breakthrough on a track, it makes it difficult to come home and relate normally to a girlfriend or anyone I see – you’re in a different world. The best thing to do is take a few days off to become a normal human being again. But then after I take a long time off – after a week or so with no music at all, it feels like I am lacking something, lacking energy. Somewhere in there, there is a balance. I just haven’t found it yet.

LAC: Are there any challenges translating your productions into live shows?

JH: Actually it’s a difficult part of the album cycle. You have in your head that there is this huge fanfare and you go to mastering and you commit to it and then you have to deconstruct it all again for the live album. It is painful- you have to get right back into it and figure out how to do it live. Then it becomes fine when you actually start doing the shows, you think you’ve prepared properly. You take the tracks even further than they go on the record … there’s more you can do in the live arena. You can make them longer, heavier, more extreme in some ways and you can even feed off the crowd. It’s a great opportunity to explore the ideas you didn’t have the first time around. Again, it’s difficult, but amazing.

LAC: We’ve heard you speak about being against trends, and how they lead to a sound that can be identified as old. But, has there ever been a new trend that has caught your ear and had  you a little bit tempted?

JH: Oh yeah, I mean I talk a lot of bullocks in interviews (laughs). It’s not quite as clear cut as that. But there are some elements of my sound that I can pinpoint, ‘Oh that was inspired by this’ everything was a trend at one time. So it is difficult – you really do feel differently about what you do everyday so sometimes you will say things like that…

There is a particular type of compression that’s very common, sidechain compression – I can’t really describe the sound – its like a way of making a bass drum or whatever part you like displaced with the part behind it and it makes everything sound fat and amazing. It is definitely a trend of the moment. I try to do it subtly so that it isn’t like super obvious. There are some examples where it is being used too extremely years ago when it was at its peak.

I just prefer to cherry pick the things I love the most and not worry about what trend they’re from, I guess thats a better way of putting it.

I do like the idea of combining sounds of all different times, whether it is right now or ages ago.

LAC: Do you have any guilty pleasure listening?

JH: I prefer to call it ‘proud pleasure listening.’ I am quite an admirer of ABBA and the production in ABBA – and not everyone is into that. My dad was always playing it. And Fleetwood Mac as well. Im quite proud to announce that I like these things cause there’s a reason why these things are so enduring, it’s cause they are amazing. They have a common level of skill and writing and production.

LAC: Lastly, what’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

JH: I don’t really know at this point. The album has opened up all kinds of new opportunities. You know if you asked me this a few months ago I might’ve said I was going to do another collaboration – but now I want to set up my own studio. I really want to start my own place that is custom built. Eventually I want to do my own solo album – take it to another level with that. So that may well be a two year project. But yeah, you don’t know who is going to call and have something exciting for me. You never know if you are going to get a call from a director and be linked to a 4 month project.

I’m touring ’til August, and everything else is happening after that.

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Catch Jon Hopkins playing at the Echoplex this Saturday, November 30 alongside fellow European electronic musicians, Clark and Nathan Fake. Purchase tickets here.

Photo: Oddbjørn Steffensen

INTERVIEW: UK DUO DUSKY TALKS BEATING OUT HARDWELL & MORE

UK duo Dusky grabbed some major attention last month by beating out mostly mainstream bangers for the coveted #1 spot on Beatport’s Top 100 chart. Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman, who make up Dusky, have been putting out a widely varied range of music, touching on everything from deep house to techno, all to much acclaim. Their ability to weave in everything from uplifting melodies to low-end density have marked them as a duo unafraid of the depth and originality that electronic music is often accused of lacking. We catch up with them below after their set at HARD’s Day of the Dead at the Red Bull Music Academy Discotheque Stage.

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Photo: Jerry Lin

 

LA CANVAS: Is this your first major US festival?

DUSKY: Not the first one, we played Tomorrowworld. We played somewhere else… uh, we played Decibel Festival in Seattle too. Oh we also played Ultra Festival.

 

LAC: Have you noticed a difference in playing to US crowds versus European crowds?

D: UK has quite a big repertoire of tracks that they know. They know our scene and people respond quite differently. The UK crowd like to be quite wild. That’s probably partly because of the amount of substances they like to take [laughs] and they like to drink.

LAC: The UK and drinking goes hand in hand.

D: [Laughs] Yeah, definitely.

 

LAC: Australia’s like that too right?

D: Probably worse over there cause they can’t get drugs over there so they just drink really, really hard. In the UK at least you can get cheap drugs, so, like, by the time it gets past 3, all the drunk people leave and all the people who are really wired are still there.

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Photo: Jerry Lin

LAC: Congrats on your #1 Beatport Hit ‘Careless’. What’s it feel like? If you look at the other tracks on the top 10, it’s stuff like Cedric Gervais and Hardwell.

D: It was a nice surprise. Very unexpected, it’s just kind of nice that it’s there. We made it kinda thinking ‘Yeah, we really wanna be Beatport #1. Then it happened and we were like, oh, cool, maybe we should try and get another one.’ [laughs]

LAC: Have you seen a surge of support from people who are like ‘Oh my god, you’re beating out so-and-so’?

D: Yeah, yeah, it was nice! We did a Facebook post, the timing was perfect. It was like the day after Hardwell had gotten announced as DJ Mag’s #1 DJ. So we’re like ‘House Music – 1, EDM – Nil (0). Wooo!’ It got shared like thousands of times and thousands of likes – more so then any of our normal posts. It was good timing. We’ll see, stuff normally takes quite a while to feel the power. If you get a #1 on Beatport it takes like 6 months or almost a year to actually feel the power, for it to translate into your shows. We’ll see how it affects us but hopefully it’s positive.

 

LAC: You guys started off on the label Anjunadeep. From an artistic standpoint, do you normally come up with tracks and decide where you might want to release them, or do labels come to you and you try to cater to their sound a little bit? The variety of your tracks is quite large.

D: We work with quite a lot of different labels. A lot of that’s out of necessity, because the tracks are so different. Some would work with one label and some wouldn’t. But we try not to try too much to cater to a particular label, we just try to work with different labels. Sometimes we decide we want to do something a bit deeper or techno-y, or garage-y, so we’ll work on relevant ideas. The way we tend to work is we have a huge bank of fragments of ideas. We sit on them and pick them out and take this and put it into a track. After we’re finished we’ll say, ‘Okay, what label will fit with this?’ I think it’s slightly different from a remix. If you’re remixing for a certain label then you’re not gonna put a 12 minute long or a 110 bpm tune. It’ll depend. With originals we just kind of write it and see where they’ll fit.

 

LAC: With your popularity growing in the US, where do you see yourself in the next 2 or 3 years?

D: Uh [Laughs]. Ask Andrew [their manager]. We never really looked at it like, ‘Oh we wanna get to a certain place,’ we just do it cause we enjoy it. I suppose that comes through in the music and the way we DJ. Hopefully that keeps building. We’re not like, ‘Oh yeah, in 3 years we wanna be Tiesto, or Hardwell.’

 

LAC: Or Duskwell.

D: [Laughs] Yeah, 13 city tour with Duskwell!

 

LAC: How would you describe LA in three words?

D: Three words? [Laughs]  Uh, what’s the word for spread out. ‘Vast?’ ‘Hot.’ Uh… I don’t know, I guess I was trying to think of a word to describe the architecture. Cause to me it’s like, I don’t wanna be rude [laughs] but I think the architecture’s quite bleak.

 

LAC: Alright, ‘bleak’! We’ll take that…[laughs]

D: [Laughs]. ‘Vast. Hot. Bleak.’ [Laughs] ‘See you next time, in 2014. Or never again.’ No, no. Don’t say that ! We’ll say fun. How about that?

 

Go tag-crazy with our photos from HARD Day of the Dead 2013 on our Facebook

RECAP: GOLD PANDA AT THE FONDA

Not too long ago, we had the privilege of catching UK beatsmith Gold Panda at the Fonda Theater. Known for his lush, electronic instrumentation, Gold Panda’s music is a textural treat to the ears.

Playing material from all three of his albums, Gold Panda moved seamlessly from track to track, demonstrating the ability to get the crowd moving to music one would not traditionally deem “dance music.” Though with an undeniably electronic heart, Gold Panda’s music toes the line between ambient, experimental and psychedelic, with a smattering of eclectic influences thrown in. It was only fitting that the accompanying visuals for his show held their own eery-trippy quality, as macro shots of aquatic life swayed and jerked in sync with the chops and drops of the beats.

We were particularly happy to hear tracks like “Marriage” and “You,” though it seemed that night that the audience of dedicated fans all had their own favorites, with each new track spun eliciting its own cheers of recognition. Reflecting on past shows attended, while Gold Panda’s night at the Fonda may not have been the most packed we’ve seen, it was surely the most crowd-involved show we’d seen in a while. Clearly those gathered there that night were genuine fans, and we left that night with a strange gratefulness for the special kind of camaraderie that exists between genuine, unabashed lovers of music.

THE CROSSOVER: PETE TONG MAKES L.A. HIS NEW HOME

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Brace yourselves, Los Angeles, electronic dance music’s biggest prophet has made our city his new home. Pete Tong, the legendary veteran DJ and radio host for the UK’s BBC Radio 1, is one of dance music’s loudest advocates. While the scene has climaxed to a foreign territory where many are skeptical about its lasting future, Tong is no cynic about the current situation, but instead, a belieber, believer and visionary in embracing the current disposition.

With his recent relocation from the UK to LA, he plans on taking refuge within this concrete jungle–a hub for talent and haven for creativity. This city has invaluable powers to introduce or hide its talented artists by its labyrinth of networks, something Mr. Tong plans taking full advantage of, to introduce even more brilliant talent from the UK and Europe. We’re reminded of the powerful article that Bill Gates wrote, ‘Content is King’, which spoke of the boundless capacity of the internet and its extension of networks.

Pete Tong’s innovative perspective plans on rewiring the current grid of EDM that happens to be playing it rather safe and replicated among many of America’s DJs. By stepping out of his comfort zone and channeling his sweeping knowledge and deep roots of the EDM field, this new market will be groundbreaking for his personal career and for many to come.


BBC Radio 1 – Pete Tong, Essential Mix featuring Disclosure

This Friday night. Sept 20, will be his first Los Angeles residency show at Sound Nightclub in Hollywood. Los Angeles, brace yourselves for a sensational evening fueled by some of the most emerging and captivating tunes that this EDM prophet has to offer.

Purchase your tickets here.

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RECAP: BRITISH DUO ALUNAGEORGE AT THE EL REY

What a belle époque to be a male-female music duo: Beach House, Sleigh Bells, Purity Ring, we really could keep going. One tag-team we’ve had our ears out for is British duo, AlunaGeorge. Producer George Reid and songstress Aluna Francis have been on the scene, serving infectious originals and brilliant features on tracks of other rising acts, like UK electronic duo, Disclosure. The pair has been building buzz with their sub-genre-bending take on pop music, Aluna’s distinctive vocals, and their protagonist verses. Following the summer release of their full length “Body Music,” the Brits hit the road on their first North American tour, and recently made their LA debut to a pumped-up packed house at the El Rey.

Aluna strutted on stage robed as a futuristic boxing goddess with George boyishly bopping on synthesizer, and backed by live drums and bass. As the digital and organic sounds harmoniously flooded the venue, the audience feverishly danced and sang along to favorites like “Attracting Flies,” White Noise,” and “This Is How We Do It.” Their cover of Montel Jordan’s timeless jam was a hit! Aluna’s bright vocals called and the crowd responded in deep refrains of the song’s memorable chorus. The show capped off with another crowd pleaser, “Your Drums, Your Love,” but left with no encore leaving attendees served and eager for more, as AlunaGeorge stepped off waving, blowing kisses and thanking fans.

So, what’s next for the pair? These two are young, talented, and are certainly onto something. Let’s hope the future proves that they’re ideal music mates, unlike some other past boy-girl duos… Ike & Tina? White Stripes? Sonic Youth… too soon?

INTERVIEW: UK DJ/PRODUCER “EATS EVERYTHING”

Eats Everything, a.k.a Dan Pierce, has seen a meteoric rise in the house music scene with a decidedly groovy and low-end-heavy breed of house. After struggling for years and even going on the dole (the UK’s equivalent of collecting unemployment), he cut a deal for his single “Entrance Song” in 2011 and the rest is history. Today he ranks #13 on Resident Advisor’s top DJs list, and is one of the most in-demand DJs in Europe and beyond. We share a conversation with the affable gent on the underground, drugs, and wrestling. Yes, wrestling. Read on for an explanation…

LAC: I read in an old interview that you were into wrestling as a kid… and that it was how you really got into electronic music. Can you share that story with us?

EE: Well I was actually into WWF as it was known then, when I was 10 or 11 years old. I had the ropes painted around the walls in my room and all the logos of Hulk Hogan, etc. painted on my walls. I used to wrestle with the pillow and listen to Radio 1. They played what I now know to be house music basically. And they played Felix’s ‘Don’t You Want Me.’ I thought, ‘wow, I haven’t really heard anything like this before.’ So I recorded the show, and every time I wrestled my pillow, I played that song.

LAC: So, basically a gay anthem became your entrance song…

EE: Yeah, exactly! My entrance song is basically a gay anthem, so just picture me wrestling my pillow, walking into my bedroom and ‘Don’t You Want Me’ is playing.

LAC: Well that’s got to be the most entertaining story of how anyone’s gotten into electronic music…

EE: Yeah, [laughs]

LAC: You’re into a lot of music, and consider yourself open-minded… why do you think electronic music in particular though, is so powerful?

EE: You want the honest truth? Because most people who get into it, take drugs with it, and they like it, the drugs give you a euphoria and I don’t think there’s anything more euphoric than a huge piano riff or, like, a big massive riff. Electronic music is very strict on its boundaries, with how it works, for example, it’s usually got a 4-4 kick drum, very definite broken beat, and so on and so on. You can really associate with it. Whereas, rock music, for example, is 4 different speeds, ranging from like from 100 to 200 BPM, I’m not saying in general, but me personally I could never grab onto anything. I like it, but house music you can grab on to it, you can grab onto the kick drum. There’s an element of that that works… It works for me and other people, it’s got something that really grabs you. EDM, it’s such a big thing in charts now, there’s a big culture around it.

LAC: Speaking of drugs, I’ve seen a rise in the use of psychedelics and there’s this discussion around the audio enhancement you can get on psychedelics. Do you think there are musicians out there who produce specifically keeping that in mind?

I do think there are definitely producers who do. But I mean, me personally, I don’t… well, I guess I do in a way. From the ages of 15 to 27 or 28 I was getting fucked up every weekend. And I mean, obviously when I’m making a record, I have an idea subconsciously how it might sound. And there probably are writers who do specifically produce for people on acid or [psychedelics]. Take psy-trance for example, it’s definitely produced for people on acid and stuff.

LAC: Thanks for answering that so frankly… Moving on, I’m curious about Claude VonStroke. What role has he played in your career and what’s it like to be a part of the Dirtybird family?

EE: He’s a real legend and amazing person. Really helpful. I mean, he’s out for himself, not in a bad way, but in the sense that he wants his label to do as well as it possibly can, he does this by signing the best artists and the best music, there’s no bad in thing in that. He’s given me a lot of advice and he’s really helped me a lot. The Dirtybird guys are my favorite guys in this industry, they’re great. Not just cause they’re my crew, but they’re really just my favorite guys in the industry. But really, there’s not really anyone in the underground-ish house scene who aren’t cool. There’s no arrogance, no cliquey-ness, anything like that. Also, we’re all a bit older, we’re all in like our 30’s, we’ve been around a lot..

LAC: There’re no egos right?

EE: Exactly.

LAC: I’ve always thought when the egos are thrown out of the mix the music is much better.

EE: 100 percent.

LAC: You’ve been in the game a really long time now. I’m sure you’ve seen the sound of the underground change from year to year.

EE: Yeah exactly, look at “Jack”, that was underground…

LAC: …But now it’s huge!

EE: Yeah, now it’s gotten to the top 10 in England! You know, I don’t even call myself underground really. I say [my sound is] underground-ish… I don’t think people and clubs and cliques could say that they’re underground but they’re not cause if you advertise on your Facebook and tell people “come to my party” or “buy my record”, then you’re not really underground. At the end of the day, you’re not underground. I would never call myself underground ’cause I advertise, lots of people know who I am, I have a Facebook, I say listen to this or that on the radio… there’s nothing underground about that. And it’ll continue to be like that forever, because the kids who are into Skrillex and you know (I mean I love Skrillex but it’s just an example), they’re always going to be wanting more or looking for something new. I just think underground will always become mainstream, because the kids will always want something new and their attention spans are already short, but I see them getting shorter and shorter. I don’t think there’s really any such thing as underground anymore.

LAC: You used to be into darker music… You’ve played everything from hardcore to jungle, speed garage to a funkier, groovier breed of house. Can you tell us a bit more about your transition from the heavy to the lighter? Would you say the heavy side still influences your sound?

EE: When I was a kid I was listening to, obviously, Felix. Then, when I was about 13, my friends who had older brothers who were basically you know, they’d go to raves and hardcore raves…

LAC: So you got into raves when you were a kid.

EE: I was from a small village, basically in the middle of nowhere, miles from anywhere. There was nothing to do, and you could either get into crime or go to parties. Luckily for my parents I got into partying and taking drugs a bit [laughs]. Yeah, I was taking drugs and enjoying myself [laughs] We’d listen to hardcore… it was all about breaks, jungle types of breakbeats and piano then all of a sudden they added all this shit… cheesy lyrics into the track, it kind of turned a lot of us off.

LAC: Are you talking about happy hardcore stuff?

EE: Yeah, happy hardcore! So basically the hardcore became happy hardcore so we got into jungle and drum ‘n’ bass, then it got darker and it kind of lost all the soul for me, so then we got into house music and into its emerging and amalgamating form. I’ve always been into the more banging heavier end of the spectrum, but, yeah, I would say I’m one of the more heavier DJs within this “underground”-ish scene.

LAC: I read that you have a collaboration album in the works in Justin Martin

EE: Yeah, I’m in San Francisco at the mall at the moment looking for a new shirt. (I’ve run out of shirts), but yeah I’m actually here to record with him, I’m staying at his house recording music! We’re trying to write an album of what we consider dancefloor-friendly, we just want to make an album of tracks that we can play and we can tour and play it in a certain way. We just want to make a lot groovier records basically.

LAC: I’ve heard a lot of your collaborations but haven’t seen so many of your own solo productions lately. Where do you see your career going, are you still thinking of opening a studio?

EE: My career, well, me and my management, my team, we basically have a plan for what’s going to happen. And the reason now I’m doing a lot of collaborations is, because at the end of the day, I’ve released a lot of singles, I’m doing a collaborations and then I’m gonna do a lot of touring, then after that I’m going to sit down and write an album, cause with this game I’ve learned more and more that things can get stale and you have to do different things for yourself, cause I don’t want to get bored. I know if I was in the studio all the time I’d get bored, so there needs to be a balance.

LAC: Understandable. Do you have artists that you’re thinking of collaborating with or artists who are just under the radar that we should keep an eye out for?

EE: There’s this guy German Brigante who makes fucking brilliant records every time. Every record is a winner. There’s also a guy Truncate who makes techno. He makes really cool, really crazy techno.

LAC: This one’s a bit random, but what are the best and worst foods you’ve had in the United States?

EE: That’s a tough one! I’ve actually never really had bad food here, I’ve liked pretty much everything. Let’s see, I had a really good meal at a place called House of Prime Rib. I like most foods so anywhere I go I’m pretty happy.

LAC: You play Splash House this weekend in Palm Springs and you just played HARD Summer here in LA. How was that experience for you? Do US audiences differ from UK ones?

EE: They do differ in that the US audience is a little less expectant of what they want you to play. US audiences seem a lot more open-minded, they kind of just let you do what you do and get down… whereas in the UK, the audiences are a bit more… difficult, in the sense that they want you to play certain tunes or records.

See Eats Everything get down this Saturday at Splash House in Palm Springs. From August 10-11, Eats Everything and artists like Bag Raiders, Poolside, Classixx, Perseus, Plastic Plates, and more take to the decks for a triple-header pool party at the Saguaro Hotel, the Curve Hotel, and the Caliente Tropics! More details here.