Tag Archives: Parklife

Armand Van Helden: The Man, The DJ, The Duck.

Armand Van Helden talks to Sawyer on everything from Duckzilla Vs Major Lazer and David Guetta Vs Barry Manilow, to Boney M. Vs that song… woo woo woo woo woo woo woo (best V-erse ever).

Interviewing one of the Big Apple’s biggest DJs, it’s…Well, it’s a long interview so let’s just get into it…

In 2010, you came out to Australia for the first time as Duck Sauce for Field Day. In an interview you did with them you made some New Years resolutions, so I’m interested to see if you’ve kept them. Did you learn to drive?

I didn’t learn to drive but I did get my learner’s permit.

Do you own a car?

I don’t, and here’s the funny thing. I would have had a car by now, but all my friends in New York don’t own a car. They can all drive though, but they don’t own a car. And my one friend that owns a car is always like “I’ll take you, I’ll take you” (to get the car). But then I’m like, you know, we need two cars because I’m not allowed to drive. So when we buy the car and go to pick it up, I need another person who can drive. So it’s kind of like this whole thing.

I need one car to go there, right, and two fully licensed drivers and me. And then we can buy the car and all come back, you get what I’m sayin’? It’s an excuse but it’s been the only hold back.

You also mentioned in the interview you were going to release a new album in 2011. Is that finished, is it out yet or is it coming out soon?

Yeah, we finished the album earlier in the year and it will be out soon. I don’t know exactly, I can’t even tell you a date ‘cause I’m pretty much in the dark, but it’s being worked on.

I spoke with Diplo last year when he came out for Stereosonic as Major Lazer and asked him, “if Major Lazer and Duckzilla had a fight, who would win?” So I’d like to ask you the same question.

Oh. Definitely Major Lazer.

Do you wan to hear what he said?


He said Major Lazer as well. He said “Duck Sauce is just a stupid duck. If it be like me and Switch Vs Armand and A-trak, Armand would win because he looks like a crazy muscle head. I’d probably be evenly matched with A-trak but Switch against Armand would just lose.”

See I think quite the opposite. I think Switch is the craziest of everybody and can just handle it on his own. To me, it should just be like all of us against Switch and we’d all lose.

You recently tweeted about your trip to Las Vegas that you were searching for Barry Manilow. Did you find him?

Yeah, A-trak does all the tweeting. I don’t really have an account or anything. He does the Duck Sauce one; him and I think somebody from Fools Gold. The funny thing was, we were in the car as soon as we had landed in Vegas and I saw Barry Manilow, like in a couple of big ads, they almost look like a massive flat screen TV. And I just see Barry Manilow in the Jesus pose and he has that hair and everything. And I was just cracking jokes with A-trak and going “Look! It’s David Guetta”.

Can you tell who's who?

So I think he maybe tweeted something about Barry Manilow, ‘cause we were just having a laugh in the back. We weren’t saying anything bad about David Guetta, but it was just about, you know, when you do like the Jesus pose as a DJ? The Jesus pose is when you’re on the decks and you throw your hands up in the air like you’re on the cross, but the Barry Manilow ad looked like the David Guetta ad is all I’m saying. Was just funny.

My friend is a photographer and he often gets some good shots of DJs pulling the Jesus pose. I think it’s becoming sort of a trademark of a rockstar.

It’s grown into the trademark, oh yeah.

Ascetically it’s a really good shot, if you get the light coming up behind you…

Oh yeah, you get the sun going down and everything…

Speaking of Sunsets, you played in Sydney on New Years Day for Field Day. How was that?

It was fun, we had a good time. We did the day time set. You know I like our sets all hours, but sometimes it feels like our sound can translate better in the day time or to that degree. But we’ve done a lot of the festivals. I mean we could do the night thing, it’s not that much of a big difference, but the day time tends to be, for most people, the toughest crowd. Cause everybody can still see thing so good so it’s kind of hard to win over a day time crowd. But our music is so kind of chilled in comparison to most of the dance things that exist, I guess, that our daytime set seems to be just this really warm, happy environment. Cause it’s in the day time! Which is cool…

I’m sort of learning to be a DJ myself as part of a competition at the moment, and they’re always talk about the lost art of the warm up DJ where you’re just building, building, building up for the main act. When you play at a festival, is that something you think about when you are playing in a day slot, or do you just go out and bring out the bangers?

I think most DJs have two or three different kind of runs, set runs if you wanna call it that. Like a regular one if you’re like in a club or even at a festival and you’re on at like 1pm or 2 pm. You know that’s going to be your main kind of run through and you know what you’ve gotta do. When your on early as a warm up there is a different kind of flow, so you kind of want to make sure you have a lot of your big bangers at the end. There is some truth to that, for sure.

I was also very curious to ask you about my set list. I’m going against the trend of everyone else in the comp, who’re playing traditional house and tech-house, with a retro 90s set. What would be you song picks if you could give me some tips?

Like just 90s?

Straight 90s.

Oh god. Man that’s a big decade. I mean the 90s was just a massive decade of debauchery – but also amazing music. I mean it’s just like triple what the 80s was in terms of information. But um, for me on the dance level, I was spinning house back then so if you’re trying to play like 90s house I would say, wow. Something that always gets them… actually I’ll give you stuff that’s not normally as known and that could be better for you.

Play Underground Solution’s Luv Dancin’. Play Bobby Konder’s Nervous Acid or The Poem. Play Hot Music by Soho, or Earth People – the songs called Dance. I mean I could go on and on and on, 90s is a big era. That’s a big era man! I mean you’re talking… there’s a whole bunch of stuff!

I’m a big Boney M. fan. My favourite track, probably almost of all time, is Rasputin, so I have to say I really love what you’ve done with Barbra Streisand, just the simplicity of it and how you’ve turned it into something that has over 61 million YouTube views. How do you know when you’re on to something big like that?

Um, you don’t know. In short. That’s about the easiest way I can answer it. ‘Cause when you’re doing the kind of music, like when me and A-trak are together it’s very stylised, it’s not something you can predict. We are as much as in the dark as anybody else as to what’s gonna work and what’s not gonna work. Duck Sauce music is propelled by good will, basically. That’s how it works.

Are you going to be taking Duckzilla around Australia, like tweeting some pictures of him? Where are some places you would like to see him at?

I would say we would get down at Bondi and just put him out there in the middle of Bondi. Put him on top of the Opera House. In Melbourne, put him out on that bay thing or whatever that is. Put him on Ayres Rock. I think that would be the key. That would be the top spot to put him on, Ayres Rock. That’s the one. That’s what we’re shooting for.

Do you get to do the tourist thing when you come out on tour, or is it all just work, work, work?

Um, no. I mean I do a pretty good job. I mean sometimes even solo I just go into the towns on my own. I literally go to the hotel concierge and go “where’s the main street, like the hang out block or for sitting outside for some cappuccinos or maybe some shops”. And they just go “oh good!” and then they break out that map and I just kind of go on my own, my little own adventure. I like to do that when I can and I love to be alone in a new city. It’s like one of the funner things I can do.

You wear a lot of New Era caps and Mishka clothing, who are a NY brand. You’re very much a New Yorker, when you find brands like Mishka do you like to help promote them?

It’s all loose. I don’t know any of these people too well, I do know one of the Mishka people, but I was wearing it before I knew them. I’m not in contact with anybody. I mean if I just like something I just buy it I guess. It’s on that kind of a level.

I’ve been vintage my whole life, but I’ve really been vintage these days. I might wear like a cap, that might have a name brand or something but the rest, I dunno. I definitely love vintage ‘cause you can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be unique. And I think that’s the thing I like to project the most.

Are you into movies at all? A lot of the music I like to source comes from film. For example the movie Uncle Buck has a pretty amazing 90s soundtrack, it had house of Pain and Wild Thing by Tone Loc.

Um, yeah. There’s a movie that I’ve been kind of a big fan of since it came out and I think it’s one of the more genius ways to use a movie soundtrack. Iit’s this movie called, Hot Rod. It’s with Adam Samberg from Saturday Night Live. It’s a stupid comedy movie, I think it’s hilarious. But the one thing he did in it, which I thought was genius was about 85% of the movie soundtrack was from this one album, from this one band called Europe (yes, the one with Final Countdown).

This album came out in like 1987 but he used 6 or 7 songs off that album in the movie. And it’s a shit album, like there’s no classics on it nobody cares about this album, but he put 6 or 7s songs from this album that was not anything in this movie. And it’s so good. ‘Cause you won’t believe how it matches the scene. So I thought that to be quite genius. And I know it’s him controlling the music. It’s a genius idea.

When you and A-trak got together, was it kind of natural or did you sort of poach him, like ‘he’s too good, I’ll either have to join with him or battle him to the death”?

Nothing like that, we had mutual friends and he had kinda just moved to New York. He’s a newbie from Montreal. And it was either bound to happen or to a degree as we kept seeing each other in the same circles. In a way, it was like the forces that be were putting us together. That’s the easiest way I can explain it.

In Australia we have this massive rivalry with New Zealanders, and I guess it similar between Canadians and Americans. Do you kind of hang shit on him for being from Canada?

Actually I don’t. What’s weird with my personality is that I’ve never been that way, because I grew up all over the place. So I never had that thing or vocational fun poking aspect. I don’t know why, but it’s just not in my personality. I mean I have my other funny sides, but that one, I don’t know why. Just never cared about where people came from. But I do find it funny when people come from super rural areas and they tend to be amazingly creative, like from a small farming town. That blows me away. How in the hell did something like this come out of a town like that? That I find interesting.

Tickets for Parklife Music Festival are available via Moshtix or their website

Michelle Sawyer, September 2011

Aussie Pride Or Cheap Tricks

We Aussie’s are a creative bunch, especially when it comes to music. But do we still need to rely on some clever marketing ploys (or in my case, puns) to get our work over the line…

There is a lot of love for Australian music at the moment. Much of which has come thanks to a little duet from a top bloke named Wouter “Wally” De Backer, who you probably know better as Gotye. The sombre post break-up ballad, Somebody That I Used To Know featuring Kimbra (she’s a kiwi but we won’t hold that against her), is Gotye’s first commercially successful, knocking off the more internationally known Adele’s Someone Like You, from the top spot in the ARIA charts after a seven week run.

The creative clip, which features a naked but painted Wally and Kimbra pouring their hearts out against a wall, has already soared well about 2 million views on YouTube. And then there’s Twitter, which has seen a cavalcade of praise, but maybe none more important than actor and Cougar man-bag, Ashton Kutcher’s, who tweeted about the clip to his 7 million (!!) strong fan base.

*Tweet image courtesy of The Music Network.

I’ve been a fan of Gotye for years, all the way back since his 2006 single Learnalilgivinanlovin and (my fave), Heart’s A Mess, so it’s great to see one of Australia’s most talented and creative, self taught musicians getting the recognition he deserves; but I do have to wonder if it’s come to commercial light thanks to a little help from Hollywood? Fair to say, it doesn’t really matter, as the Australian media have jumped all over it too. Take a look at this very cool and interesting, in-depth analysis of how Wally’s first Number 1 came to be, posted by The Vine’s Tim Byron, (seriously good read).

Another creative kudos, which is also receiving some good Twitter action, is Gyroscope’s genius ploy of letting their fans pick the songs of their set list for their upcoming and self explanatory named, “Choose Your Own Adventure Tour”. Before they make their merry way around Australian in October – November, the Perth lads are letting fans pick the hits they want to hear, all very cleverly tied in with a promotion on their Facebook page (double marketing happiness). So there will definitely be no complaints of “they didn’t play my song” from any punters who will 100% “get what they paid for” – all round ingenious idea. My pick from Gyroscope’s back catalogue would have to be the lyrically loved up, Baby, I’m Getting’ Better, though I do also love Snakeskin… And having seen these boys bangin’ both tracks out live at Groovin’ The Moo 2011 I can say with 100% honesty fans are in for one hell of a show (fan-picked set list or not).

Another creative Tweet-worthy Oz music happening is the theft of a Parklife 2011 billboard in Perth. Now I’m not completely convinced this isn’t a ploy to pump up the presence of the major dance event. With what suspiciously sounds like a competition, the dude or dudette who finds the billboard get’s a couple of their More Expensive Tickets (METs) for nicks. Though having worked in Advertising me knows how expensive a high traffic billboard can be, so it is probably a genuine show of gratitude from some very annoyed (and perplexed as to how one would even fit a billboard of that size into one’s boot) Parklife promoters. To show I’m not making this up I have cut and pasted the Press Release as sent to me, word for word (word)…

Thursday 18th August 2011 – “Today, a reward has been offered to the person who can track down a Parklife advertising billboard, which was stolen in broad daylight at around 4pm on Sunday from Whatley Crescent, next to the Mt Lawley Subway in Perth.

Perhaps inspired by recent anarchy in the UK, bandits have taken off with the signage that is emblazoned with all the big names featured on this year’s Parklife bill. A passerby managed to capture this photo (below) from their car and have sent it to Parklife event organisers. They have described the two assailants as male, Caucasian, wearing navy blue, Hard-Yakka style outfits.

Parklife organisers commented, “We can assure you that this is no PR stunt. We actually think its pretty funny and hope these guys are just passionate Parklife fans who want this as a keepsake. God knows how they got away with it and where they’re hiding it, but we hope they have it somewhere safe!”

The reward for whoever comes forward with the whereabouts of this billboard includes two More Expensive Tickets (MET) and a side of stage experience at the Perth Parklife show on Sunday 25th September at Wellington Square. No legal action will be pursued.

Please contact events@boomtick.com.au with any leads.”

Now in my own cheap attempt to score some SEO points, here are some handy links for Gotye, Gyroscope and Parklife tickets and downloads.

Gotye tracks, including the single Somebody That I Used To Know for download on iTunes:

Gyroscope’s Choose Your Own Adventure Tour tickets go on sale Thursday, August 25th from the following outlets:

The Zoo, Brisbane – Wednesday, Nov 17th
Corner Hotel, Melbourne – Friday, Nov 18th
The Factory Theatre, Sydney – Saturday, Nov 19th
via www.oztix.com.au

Prince Of Wales, Bunbury – Thursday, Oct 20th
Settlers Tavern, Margaret River – Friday, Oct 21st
Studio 146, Albany – Saturday, Oct 22nd
L’Attitude 28, Geraldton – Saturday, Oct 29th
via www.heatseaker.com.au

The Gov, Adelaide – Thursday, Nov 17th
via www.venuetix.com.au

Parklife 2011 tickets are available via:


Michelle Sawyer, August 2011

What To Make Of Markus Schulz’ Dakota: Thoughts Become Things II

With the announcement of Summadayze 2012 – featuring non other than US based German trance-man, Markus Schulz – I thought it was a good time to scope out his latest offering, Dakota.

Who: Markus Schulz

Album: Dakota – Thoughts Become Things II

Background: Born in Germany, but now based in Florida – inevitable that he was going to become a Trance DJ and producer, Markus is the founder of the EDM label’s Coldharbour Recordings and has remixed everyone from Depeche Mode to Gabriel & Dresden and Madonna, finding not one, but two Billboard Club Chart #1’s with remixes of Jewel’s Intuition and Stand.

Here’s where Schulz last left us…

Now you are up to speed, I will begin…

Firstly, you switch the sound on and immediately Gypsy Room take you away from your shitty cubical desk job, and out floating through the skies across Fantasia on the back of Falcor, fist pumping the air (the last little thought might be different for others). Seamlessly transitioned into Red Star (I had to check which track I was on it was so dam smooth), the mood cranks up a notch and continues to do so but always maintaining its positive vibes.

The title, Dakota, is quite fitting, as this album has a lot of tribal elements – something I would imagine a bunch of progressive American Indian natives would dance and chant to around a bon fire – but it also keeps it’s modern trance sensibilities; unique, individual tracks that converge without ending up as just noise. This is not offensive trance; you don’t need to understand the genre (or culture) to enjoy this music, but if you do, you’ll love it even more.

Someone else who will love Dakota are DJs (like myself, sort of) who are looking for a solid dance track with high production value and sound builds, which could easily fit on a cross genre set list. There are going to be some clear clubber faves like Sleepwalkers, In A Green Valley and Sinners, but you’ll also find weekend house party anthems like Terrace 5 am and Miami. It could even be the soundtrack to a pretty out there road trip!

It’s rare that us Australians, due to our logistically challenging location, that we get to see such accomplished artists like Markus in the flesh. So if you are heading to Summadayze 2012, maybe head to Dakota first. I can’t guarantee your thoughts will also be that of Falcor: The Luck Dragon from The Never Ending Story, but this album will definitely evoke some trance-itional thinking.

Michelle Sawyer, August 2011

Mash-up Magicians

Taking one great track (or in Madeon’s case – 39) and blending it with another is what maketh the mash-up. But what maketh the makers?

The equation seems logical enough;
1 awesome track + 1 awesome track = A MEGA awesome tune!
But finding tracks that are both mergeable, as much as they are magical, is not quite as simple. So after a 17 year old French kid’s ‘spare time’ project Pop Culture – a collage of no less than 39 songs – went viral, the music world made note: there may be a lot more to the mash-up than we first thought. But is there?

Pop Culture by Madeon. Bet you watch this more than once…

Whilst it’s not necessarily a new concept, technology has definitely made merging songs and sampling a lot simpler – so much so that all it takes is the touch of a button. Madeon (that 17 year old French kid) and his music have almost single handily turned the underrated mash-up art form on it’s head, over night gaining a solid social media following with fans that include Martin Solveig, the Bag Raiders and just about every other electronic enthusiast alive. Not to mention all the blog coverage… (insert irony). Whilst the technique has been around for decades (I mean let’s face it, in it’s simplest form isn’t it just sampling?), this new hybrid version displayed by Madeon has been labeled as “the future of electronic dance music”. But let’s stop and take a minute to give some of this hype back those other sort of French men who first showed the world the magic of the mash-up way back in 2004 with the release of their album Any Minute Now.

Yep, I’m talking about David and Stephen Dewaele aka The Flying Dewaele Brothers aka 2manjdjs aka Soulwax aka the maddest over 40 DJs alive (in my opinion anyway)! More than just their music, the mash-up has made it’s way across to their videos like NY Excuse, their live shows via the hilarious conversion of clips like a cut out of Nicolas Cage’s head with movable mouth; not to mention their posters, record covers – even their logo.

Who else would get away with displaying the Eifel Tower as a radio antenna? They are unquestionably, still the masters of mash. And in the midst of all this merging of pop culture, they have even managed to create some of their own…

Unquestionably an inspiration for fellow Frenchy, Madeon, their appeal has made an impact all the way over here in Australia too, teaching acts like Yacht Club DJs how to turn years of misspent youth into a money making music machine. And so far for them it’s working. I for one am hoping the mash-up works it’s magic for me when I attempt to turn tunes in the DJ comp Your Shot. How’s the DJ name ‘Michmash’ sound?

Editors Note, Jan 2012: Though I wrote this blog back in mid 2011, it would be remiss of me not to include a mention of the mash-up DJ of the moment, Girl Talk. Having owned the latter half of 2011, taking a long time to come to prominence as a popular artist, his has finally (and deservedly) become one of the most hotly anticipated acts in music. Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, has the skills of a surgeon when it comes to mixing tracks by punk bands such as The Ramones, with modern-day Hip-hop anthems the likes of Missy Elliot and Jay-Z. Girl Talk takes post-modernist music to a whole new level!

Check out this nice interview by Craig Mathieson for The Age on the American Monster Masher. If you are lucky enough to already have tickets (and I think there still might be some left if you don’t), you can see Girl Talk dicing and splicing at the Big Day Out 2012.

Michelle Sawyer, July 2011

A Serious Example

Example is not as black and white as his current album cover for Playing In The Shadows makes out.

If you’re a movie-head like me, then the first thing your mind goes to when hearing the name ‘Elliot’ is likely to be character from the iconic Steve Spielberg masterpiece, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (followed closely by the phrase “ET phone home”, thoughts of glowing fingers and Reece’s Pieces). Unlike like my tangent, the movie connection is actually not so alien when it comes to the charming contradiction Elliot Gleave aka Example.

Currently one of the most in demand vocalist, Example has been hogging Australian airwaves with collaborative tracks Shot Yourself In The Foot Again with DJ Skream , Wretch 32’s Unorthodox and now his own single, Changed The Way You Kissed Me. So it’s no wonder Parklife were keen to get him on their 2011 line-up. Seemingly new to the dance scene for some Australian fans, Example is certainly not new when it comes to Australia. “There’s a lot of Australians in Fulham (where I live). I went to the Walkabout (in Sheppard’s Bush) once because one of my Australian mates was having a leaving party. It was a lot like going to the Beach Hotel in Bondi. I lived in Australia for a year (Kings Cross for 3 months and Bondi for about 7 months), so I know the drinking culture and the behaviour of the men.”

Coming to prominence in 2006 with Vile, a parody remix of Lily Allen’s Smile, you could be forgiven for passing him off as just ‘another lad taking the piss’. But then in the same year, he also released a very serious single based on Chernobyl, What We Made. Confused? Example explains, “I used to really be into films. Like, I wanted to be a film director when I was at University. And I kind of just fell into music by accident. I mean I’ve done alright, but I never wanted to be a rapper, I just wanted to make films.”

“When I came out to Australia in 2004, was kind of when I decided what I wanted to do with my life and I wanted to be a TV Editor. I had a job at Fox Studios making props for movies and I was doing pretty well with that, and then I started releasing songs in my spare time. As a result of that, they started getting played on radio, and then the next thing I know I have a record deal and I was releasing songs and albums – I’m on my 3rd album now. I still have ambitions to get back into film, acting or directing, but my profile now is music. It gives me a bit more of an opportunity to actually use my name to get hired for films.”

With the success of Martin Solveig’s short film series for his album SMASH, and fellow Brit Plan B’s critically acclaimed album, The Defamation Of Strickland Banks, it would seem natural for Example to combine his own passion for film in a similar way, right? Not so, Elliot explains.
“Benjamin (Plan B) is a really good mate of mine, he’s an amazing song writer, but I don’t think Ben felt that comfortable opening up about his true feelings about women maybe in songs, and that’s maybe why he’s created a character, Strickland Banks. His next album is going to be a character driven album as well. But with me though, in terms of music, I know that fans have mainly relayed him to that person, like he’s not quite as accessibly as a person anymore, so I don’t think that I’d ever be the sort of person to go into character for one of my songs or albums.”

“When I’m out on the streets people come up to me and they talk to me and react to me like they know me already – because my songs are so honest and so open. People sort of see me in the street and go ‘Hey man, how you doing? Let’s go for a pint.’ Like I do really want to get into films, but in terms of my music, I just want to keep my music honest. I don’t really want to start making concept albums or anything.”
No better example of Elliot’s honesty in his music is his much loved single about love, Kickstarts.

“All my songs are based on real life. All my songs are about my experiences, whether it’s me as a kid or me now. The songs on my last album Won’t Go Quietly is more about me as a kid and sort of, being a little bastard basically. Not paying for Taxi’s and being a little bit of a rebel. But then there’s other songs like Watch The Sun Come Up which is based on a one night stand I had, and then Won’t Go Quietly is about an ex-girlfriend and Kickstarts is about my current girlfriend. Everything comes from the heart, from a really honest place.”

Example’s new album, Playing In The Shadows, is more of the same. So if you’re in for an honest and refreshing musical display, make sure you make an example of his set times on your Parklife hit lists.

Michelle Sawyer, July 2011

Holy S*** It’s A Holy Ghost!

To capture a Holy Ghost! you really do need to call the Ghostbusters.

Holy Ghost! fans were left shocked and saddened in 2009 after they were forced to pull out of (what would have been) a massive summer festival season for them due to the tragic death of their drummer. Nearly a year later, Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel will finally be haunting our shores with their 80s synth sounds as part of the line-up for Parklife 2010.

With aptly titled tracks like I Will Be Back, and the ability to float through walls, chatting with Alex was never going to be easy. After a trinity of obstacles (a NY cab ride, giving someone street directions and the Brooklyn Bridge) we finally caught our Ghost.

There are so many new electronic acts coming out of Williamsburg in NY at the moment like The Drums, you guys and MGMT. Is there something in the water or do you just feed of each other as inspiration?

I think there is a bit of myth about NY that’s there this scene happening in Williamsburg. There is a scene happening there but it’s not like we’re all, um, I guess from a business side. To be honest its like you get to see a band do so well and then we’re like ‘maybe we can do that too’. When MGMT’s record Oracular Spectacular did so well you have to take some time and sit down and listen to that and go, ‘how did they do that’? But that’s not really our style of music.

True you both have very different styles. MGMT are very modern were as you guys seem to have a genuine 70’s and 80’s style and sound. Is that because you’re children of the ‘80s?

Yer, we’re 80’s babies (both born in 1982). Both our parents were really musical, so we grew up listening to the music of that time, whether it was Michael Jackson or Steely Dan. My mom was really into dance music, she used to go out to discos and stuff… so that was playing in the house.

It’s not like we’re trying to be cheeky or ironic, like Calvin Harris, no offence. It’s not like we’re taking the piss. It’s more than nostalgia, it’s just a really big part of who we are, and we both think records just sounded better then.

So the old sound boards in your video clips, are they more than just props?

Yeah, the gear we use is almost all from that period and the way that we master our tracks. From the first stages to the final stages we try to avoid new technology ‘cause we think it just doesn’t sound as good.

What was the first album your bought?

Naughty by Nature, Kriss Kross and Black Sheep on cassette. I went to the record store and got them. It was a big problem ‘cause they all had parental advisory stickers and my parents didn’t approve of them.

So Missy Elliott must be big on your list to see at Parklife.

Definitely. I really hope we’re not on the same time slot as her. We tour a lot and it’s not a name that we see often, so there’s something special about that.

What about Classixx? We spoke to Tyler a few weeks ago and he said they were originally supposed to join Holy Ghost! but couldn’t due to “scheduling issues”.

That’s their line but I’ll tell you the truth, the parts were too hard. Tyler just couldn’t cut it. No I’m just kidding, they actually were too busy. Those guys know all the songs though, so maybe they can jump up on stage with a guitar or something.

Michelle Sawyer, July 2010

Just Jens: A Chat With Half Of Digitalism.

They don’t do care for Dubstep or that soundtrack done by those “Frenchies”, but they do care about giving Parklife one of the best live sets of the festival…

Courtesy Frank PR

Digitalism will be playing at Groovin’ The Moo 2012, along with a host of other gems including CHIDDY BANG – KAISER CHIEFS – ADRIAN LUX – 360 – BLUEJUICE – CITY & COLOUR – PUBLIC ENEMY – ANDREW W.K. – BENI – KIMBRA – THE MACABEES – MUTEMATH – MUSCLES – SAN CISCO – MATT CORBY and a shed load more.

Click on the following dates for ticket info;
GTM Bendigo – Prince Of Wales Showground, Saturday 5 May 2012.
GTM Townsville – Murray Sports Complex, Townsville Cricket Grounds, Sunday 6 May 2012.
GTM Maitland – Maitland Showground, Saturday 12 May 2012.
GTM Canberra – The Meadows, University of Canberra, Sunday 13 May 2012.
GTM Bunbury – Hay Park, Saturday 19 May 2012.

If time flies when you’re having fun, Jens “Jence” Moelle and Ismail “Isi” Tufecki aka Digitalism, are clearly having a lot of it. Nearly 5 years since the release of their debut phonon album, Idealism, Digitalism have returned to again turn digital music on it’s head with their long awaited second album, I Love You, Dude. In prep for their headlining appearance at Parklife 2011, I caught up with the more ‘vocal’ (pun intended) of the duo, Jens Moelle.

It’s hard to convey someone as down to earth and jovial as Jens on paper but here’s how my 15 minutes with the man went…

I was curious to ask this question, when I spoke with Dave Dresden (from Gabriel and Dresden) he told me he’d had had a falling out with Deadmau5 over a girl. Have you ever had any issues with another band/artist like that?

We do keep on having some beef with this crew Chase and Status at the minute. We clashed with them last year, I think somebody wanted to beat up others and stuff. We had some problems again this year because they just wouldn’t remove their stuff off the stage until 5 hours after their show and blocked everything. The other acts playing after them were like “can’t you just pick it up?”

You often get compared to French DJs, Daft Punk; were you a bit miffed that you didn’t get asked to do the TRON: Legacy soundtrack instead?

Not really. I think TRON was just perfect for those guys and they came up with some really nice music. I have to admit that I’m not a big TRON fan anyway. I have the DVD at home but I’ve not watched it to death or something, so it’s probably better for the Frenchies.

Your new album, I Love You, Dude, seems more pop than your previous, Idealism, and a lot more vocally orientated. Has that been a natural progression?

When we finished the first album, that’s when we got into song writing and we really liked it. Over the years we’ve played live and it was just so much fun performing those songs, that there was no doubt that we were going to write more songs this time.

Now we had that chance with the new album, we didn’t want to repeat ourselves this time. We didn’t want to write Idealism 2 and we do like to walk our own path. So we didn’t end up with Dubstep or Hard Techno on the record. We didn’t want to create a movement or something, it’s just like this is our new album and that’s it. It was probably an anti-reaction to what’s happening out there.

Dubstep is a really controversial topic out there in the DJ world at the moment. Where do you stand on the genre?

We really don’t dig it. There’s a couple of guys who are really good, like we like Rusko and Caspa who we are going on tour with in the states, but there’s so much stuff. I mean the formula behind it, it’s like two-step back then (UK garage). I predicted it dying after a couple of months and it did, because the formula behind it was so limited to what you can do so everything had to sound the same.

So that’s one reason why we don’t like it. The other ones because we’re so not into this harder and more compressed sound; it really annoys us at the minute. When we DJ’d at festivals over the past year there were kids jumping around, like mosh pits at a dance music festival. They were completely freaking out but we were like, “Where are the girls? There’s nothing for girls?”.

We’re really not into this take it to limit hard thing, where DJs go stage diving and stuff. It’s a bit too much I think. You have to bring back some sexiness.

Your recording studio is a WWII bunker. Is that weird?

It’s not weird. They had these bunkers that they couldn’t get rid off because they would have had to tear the whole neighbour hood down, cause they’re just these massive concrete things. Ours is actually in this quite posh area next to boutiques and hipster mummies and stuff, and there’s this bunker.

It’s ok. It’s very isolated in there, like you don’t know what’s happening outside, like you don’t know what time of day it is, because we don’t have any windows and that makes you really creative because we have to imaging things. We really can say we’re doing our own thing in there.

I read you work off Macbook Pros. I am kind of obsessively in love with my Macbook Pro, do you get a bit attached to any of your equipment?

Yeah, we fall in love with stuff that works for us and that’s reliable. We recently kicked out a couple of instruments that just really sucked, we loved them but they weren’t good friends to us so we had to kick them out of the set-up. If something f***’s up we’re going to get rid of, but if it’s reliable we love it to bits.

We’ve got a couple of synthies, for example, we’ve got about eight of them for back ups in the studio because they’re just so much fun, and you can rely on them.

You guys played at Harbour Party at Sydney’s Luna Park for NYE, how was that?

It was really nice. We played after Sneaky Sound System and had a chance to go outside and watch the fireworks – it was a magical moment. We were a bit jetlagged though. The night before we played in Brisbane and that day we had just arrived so we felt a bit weird. It was a lovely night as you say, we had a good time – always do it again.

It was also nice because going to Australia we were forced not to work on the album, because it wasn’t finished then and it was the best thing that could have happened to us, so we had a really good time.

You’ve played in so many festivals, what’s been your favourite so far?

That’s really hard to tell, but I must say, one thing that was really impressive when we played at Parklife last time, in 2008, we had just switched over from our old live show to our new one, on the road. We switched from using 8 channels to 30 and we didn’t have time to rehearse. So we had one day of programming in Adelaide, and then the next day we had to play in Brisbane.

We always end up doing stuff like that, doing stuff that we’ve never done before and we don’t know if it’s going to go well or not. It’s kind of addictive. So we played our new show, for the first time in Brisbane, in front of 20,000 people on the main stage and it went down well. That was one of those moments were you get shivers, thinking like “this could have gone really wrong”. It was brilliant.

One of the first Digitalism songs I ever heard was Digitalism in CAIRO (remix of Fire in Cairo by The Cure). Are you going to play some of your old stuff in your set at Parklife?

We still don’t know what the set list is going to be, depends on how much time we’ve got to play and all that. We just started playing live again a month ago so we have to check a few things. But of course we have a new album out so we are going to play loads of stuff from the new album, but we are also going to drop some old songs as well because they’re just so much fun. I don’t know what the ratios going to be, or which song, but definitely going to play some older songs.

Michelle Sawyer, June 2011

Parklife 2010 Rewind

The announcement of the 2011 line-up will keep the social media airwaves rolling for weeks; the evolution of this world-class festival continuing to surprise and delight. I was privileged to be review Parklife 2010 for Ciysearch.com.au. Here’s what happened…

When you’re waiting for your tickets and Kele drives past, you know it’s going to be a good day…

The Parklife adventure kicks off with some hard and heavy action from Sinden at the Sahara main stage. The lower than average crowd for 2pm in the afternoon is no less vocal in their enthusiasm for Sinden’s spin than St Kilda fans screams for an early siren. With perfect weather above and some 30+ slapped on the skin sections, we trot over to the sunny Atoll stage and set up camp under the big tree to the stage right entrance for a little A.C Slater, catching the last legs of an Adam Ant inspired face painted Dan Black (all in white, so very English of him).

“You got to show me love” starts streaming out of the speakers and the cheery crowd gathers closer; feels like something special is going to happen. Picking up tempo A.C drops a smack of dubstep, and who else should appear at the stage entrance but Darwin Deez. No sooner than we had spotted him, he moves out amongst the crowd; mingling, bouncing and thoroughly enjoying Slater’s dubstep selection with the rest of us; literally. Kaye stop petting Darwin you’ll scare him away! Crap, where’s the camera…

As if the Electronic gods could not shine down upon us anymore we are bombarded with some refreshing, free Lipton Ice Tea. Mmm, peach. Onwards (or backwards) we go to Sahara for Soulwax’s session. Dressed head to toe in some very spiffy grey, black collared suits, the four French gentlemen of dance take politely to their posts and get cracking on some serious synth. Sensational. Wondering if the plastic seats below our feet we are dancing on will hold out, better spread out over two, safety first.

Bounding back to Atoll it’s time for Chiddy Bang (well they’re pretty much amazing). Might stop for a Lipton Ice Tea along the way seeing as they’re free. Mmm, Lemon. Catch Tenderoni at Kakadu but no time to waste, we’re off back at Sahara for Busy P. Hands down my favourite of the day. Some ingenious picture play by his graphic artist So Me. Crowd gets particularly mental when they chuck up a spontaneous shot of Busy P with some front row fans (jugs out). So Me’s quick thinking makes it tasteful, and turns it into a Busy P portrait. Very interactive set.

My gosh when did the day turn to night, oh my god it’s Missy Elliott. Out come the electronic Oompa Loompa’s and her personal DJ Freestyle Steve. Quickly realise it’s the same set as her solo on Thursday (feeling like I have spoiled it for myself) so decide to head out of the Sahara surge to wonder. Stroll my way over to the Lipton Ice Tea stand (mmm, berry flavour) and see Mark Knopfler swaying and singing with The Dandy Warhols at Kakadu to a capacity crowd. Looking over the hill on my way to The Cave the crowd is compacted all the way to the drinks tents at the top screaming “Ching Ching get paid over here”.

Realised I’ve just missed Holy Ghost!, darn it, but in time to catch Grum. So many lazers. Trod back round to Sahara and catch end of Missy Elliott in prep for 2manydjs, grab myself a Lipton Ice Tea on the way (lemon again, think I preferred the peach). Hey it’s those guys again wearing the same suits as Soulwax, oh they are half of Soulwax, nice! Really enjoying the combination of animated pictures behind them, particularly Nicolas Cage’s Madame Tussauds shot and the dancing Eiffel Tower. The French DJ contingent is killing it.

Crowd roars as Groove Armada’s live outfit takes the stage. SaintSaviour shakes her new brunette crop and oversized feather vest as the band starts the baseline to Look Me In The Eye Sister. (Apologies to dance neighbour for out of control hair flinging and arm waving). Crowd calms down a tad with I Won’t Kneel; SaintSaviour is pitch perfect. We dance our way out of the front section and off too catch the last legs of Cut Copy (the boys are back in town). Head back to top of Sahara stage hill just in time for Paper Romance. Black Light Anthology over, Groove get old school with Get Down. SaintSaviour shouts “This is our last song”, collective cries ring out across the Music Bowl Amphitheatre. It ends with Easy, very fitting.

Standing on the top of the hill looking down waiting to hear Bag Raiders in the background but nothing is playing from Atoll stage yet. Groove Armada take back to the stage, bringing a set of Trombone players and Mike Daniels (aka MAD) with them. “Enter in the dance, Plug it in and we being”. Everyone is on their feet and jumping. As Groove Armada signs off (for good), with Superstylin’. Bag Raiders’ Shooting Stars bursts like a bullet out of the Atoll stage speakers. Sahara stage done, there’s a mad dash to catch the last of the Bag Raiders live set. Dan Black joins them onstage. Chris Stracey cries out “This is our last song’ (not again), lowers his vocals and keys the first chords to Way Back Home.

Parklife 2010 is over for another year, now if only we could find our way back to the car…

Michelle Sawyer, October 2010

Sawyer Vs Yacht Club DJ’s Gaz Harrison.

What do you get when you ask one random unit to interview another?

WARNING: The following interview may contain traces of nuts.

I was lucky enough to get to see you guys play in Geelong of all places; it was one of the craziest (in a good way) gigs I have ever been to…

Thanks. Cuts on my back and hands confirmed it was pretty nuts. I fell asleep upstairs in the pub, and when I woke up everyone had left, and I had to walk in the rain and catch a train back to Melbourne by myself.

There’s a quote on your Facebook profile “the ability to turn even the most well dressed crowds into a withering, sweaty mess.” Is that what crowds coming to see you on your Demons of Gymnastics tour can expect?

Definitely; want them to walk out looking like they’ve been at a bender at someone’s house for a few hours.

How did you come up with the name “Demons of Gymnastics”?

There’s a bar in Ballarat called The Mallow (which a friend of mine owns and another friend works on Monday nights, so we have a tendency to just kick everyone out and lock ourselves in), and we were watching a movie on SBS, I think in polish, and the subtext of the movie was the characters had all these demons in their childhood and they fought them off with gymnastics.

We thought it was just too funny a concept to leave alone. It was an in joke that followed us around for a few weeks, and I was sitting in the studio putting together a mix tape (of the same name) and we were trying to think up tour names. We have a fairly strict policy of having stupid tour names, so I just threw it out there, “Why not call it daemons of gymnastics and we can also fight out fears with gymnastics just like the polish kids did.”

You did Splendour in the Grass this year, how was that?

Splendour was amazing. We got given a really early time slot because we had the choice of either being on stage as a proper act or being just the guys who play in-between bands. That’s what we did when we played the first Splendour the year before. Whilst it was really good for us we just didn’t want to be in that position again, because our sets get cut short and we are off on a little stage to the side, so we played on the main stage but as a result we ended up playing at 12.30am in the morning.

We’d both stayed up all night drinking the night before, just to maintain our reputation, and we were standing on the side of the stage looking at about 50 people sitting in this massive tent going “holy crap, well we’ve had a good run”. Our manager was apologising to us and then out of no where, we walked out on stage and there was this enormous roar, and looked up and the tent was completely filled.

From the feed back that we got, we had as big an audience as the big bands playing later at night. It worked out really well and turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences.

Is that the biggest festival your done so far?

I think numbers wise yes, but we’ve become pretty accustom to playing the ol’ festival as you’ve probably gathered from our schedule. I think there’s a different vibe when you play Splendour, a really really good party vibe ‘cause it’s in the middle of winter and everyone’s come up from their cold Victorian and Sydney houses and it’s sunny and warm.

I’d say the best festival we’ve played so far would have to be the last two Merediths; they are absolutely unbelievable. That kind of festival can’t be beaten.

I missed out on tickets for Meredith this year so I’m a bit bummed…

I was thinking of tricking them into giving me ticket’s going “hey I’ve played the last two can I please have a comp”. I think I slept in the day the tickets went on sale and I missed out (too).

You guys are doing Sunset Sounds, Falls, Fatas Butter and Harbour Life this summer; which one are you most looking forward to?

There’s one we are playing in Tasmania next year with Mos Def, but then at Fatas Butter with are playing with Ice Cube. I think I’m going to turn into a total teenager. Normally I try to play a bit cool back stage and don’t talk to anyone but I think I’m going to turn into a 13 year old again and turn up in a NWA t-shirt and have picture and CDs to sign. I’ll try not to but I think the eternal nerd might come out.

Do it. I think they secretly love it…

Well we met The Gizza from Wu Tang Clan at a festival we played just outside Sydney and we were really excited to see him. Basically it was just him and us in this massive paddock and we went up to him and were like “pleased to meet you, how’s the turn been” and he basically turned around and looked the other way so he wouldn’t have to talk us.

He was less than a metre away from us in this paddock with no body else there. We were like “Ok, we got shunned by The Gizzar” though we did get two words out of him, but he was just too scary to continue that conversation. And he was angry ‘cause somebody drunk his Hennessy.

Listening to songs like Pass the Lion, it’s like a guess who of which songs you’ve mixed together…

Well when we started this what we really enjoyed doing was getting the CD’s by Girl Talk and 2mandjs and actually sitting around, trying to guess what was on them. We like partying to every genre of music and we try to find a way to do it. I think what we really are is music trivia for the dance floor before anything else.

I’ve got a few songs I’d like to throw at you, see what you can put together – David Bowie, pretty much anything from the Labyrinth or Starman, Boney M’s Rasputin, Gerry Raferty’s Baker Street (we’ve actually done that), Claude Debussy’s Clair de lune (that’d be one for Guy, that’s up his alley definitely), Little John’s Get low, Keith Richards’ Wired for Sound (isn’t that Roy Orbison?) No it’s Keith Richards when he’s on the roller skates. (I was under the impression Wired for Sound was Roy Orbison?) Maybe there’s two songs, and anything by Lionel Ritchie…

Well there’s a great band from Sydney named B(if)tek that did a great cover of Wired for Sound. I’d mix that with Dance Magic Dance by David Bowie and then segue into Let’s Dance by David Bowie. Then I would mix the Little John track Get Low, because that works unbelievable well (I’ve done that before).

Then I would do a ridiculous breakdown into Baker Street which would entertain us no end because on the Dapple Cities tour we had this big thing about Baker Street. Ned (the keyboard slash sax player) would always entertain us by playing Baker Street in the green room whilst we were waiting to go on. Then I suppose we could do a big revisit of all the songs that have been mashed so far and chill it out into Clair de lune, and that could be the end of it.

It’d be really quick. That’s just off the top of my head, so it’d probably sound like some horrific car crash involving a truck. But I had a crack and you gave me the excuse to use Dance Magic Dance, that is just the funniest song. I used to ring people at 4 in the morning after we’d all had a bit too much to drink and serenade them with Dance Magic Dance.

Michelle Sawyer, October 2010

Diplo Plank’s Parklife in 2011

If you’ve read Diplo’s Tweets lately (and there are a few), you’ll see that the sexy DJ’s new obsession is Planking. You’ll also see he’s one of the headliners at 2011’s Parklife Music Festival. Here’s how it went down when I caught up with him for Stereosonic last year…

The only thing you can expect when interviewing a guy who is one half of a DJ duo fronted by a cartoon army dude who has a laser cannon for an arm, is to expect the unexpected. Sure to be a favourite on the Stereosonic tour with both fellow DJs and fans; Major Lazers’ Diplo has collaborated (and drank) with just about everyone. One of the most relaxed DJs you could ever meet, Diplo aka Thomas Wesley Pentz shared a few laughs and stories with us…

If Major Lazer had a wrestling match with Duck Sauce, who would win?

Major Lazer. Duck Sauce is just a stupid duck. If it be like me and Switch Vs Armand and A-Trak, Armand would win because he looks like a crazy muscle head. I’d probably be evenly matched with A-Trak but Switch against Armand would just lose.

You did a cameo with Die Antwoord’s Evil Boy film clip, what was it like making that?

It was weird. Everything about those guys is just weird and unusual, I just loved it. It’s perfect for me. I love stuff when it confuses even me.

What’s the main difference working as duo with Switch as Major Lazer as opposed to doing your own thing as Diplo?

The only difference is that Major Lazer has a focal point. We know exactly what we are trying to do and we have a goal, in terms of attitude and style, as with me it’s a lot more random, I’m just kind of making it up as I go along.

There seems to be a lot of electronic artists emerging at the moment, why did you decided to go towards reggae style?

You go to clubs these days and everything just sounds alike, so Major Lazers gives us the vehicle to play everything, so we can play like the Pixies, and old school culture records and reggae, just whatever we want. The catalyst for Major Lazer was to mix punk and reggae together.

My hit prediction for Stereosonic is Perculazer; do you have a track in mind where you think everyone will just lose their minds?

We have some new stuff that we’re working, that we’re going to debut at the Major Lazer show which is really really cool, really heavy.

Is that from your new album?

We’ve got like 15 tracks so far, and a couple more and we’ll have it done at the end of the year.

You’ve collaborated with some pretty eclectic artists, like Lee Perry, Santigold and Vampire Weekend; who was the most fun / insane / professional to work with?

Santi is always professional. She just really knows what she wants and we’ve done some stuff with her before. Vampire Weekend, the guy, I love his voice. Lee Perry is so bizarre, so weird. It was very cool just to work with him.

He sounds like your favourite.

Yeah, he’s just like a legend. The way he dresses is kind of crazy too. He has these Doc Martins and he keeps collecting buttons that he super glues to his shoe and then these crazy boots that look like they’re from the moon or something, it’s really weird. His hair is red and white, and he looks like something from Mad Max, Beyond the Thunderdome or something.

Would he make a good side kick for Major Lazer?

We did franchise the cartoon and he is an actual character in it. He’s the voice of the sharmen kind of guy, who is the Master Splinter (TMNT) for the Major Lazer character.

You’ve done a lot of work with Annie Mac and Robyn who are also on the Stereosonic tour, any chance that you guys would all get out on stage together?

Well Annie Mac I just want to go out to the bar with her. She’s the best bar friend you could ever have. She can drink any man under the table, I love Annie Mac. Robyn, I’m not sure if she’ll be able to make the tour, she told me she was going to have to cancel at the last minute, so I’m not sure if she’s going to be there. Her show is so f***ing amazing though, it’s one of the best shows you will like ever see.

Is there anyone else your looking forward to catching up with on tour?
Tiesto’s a good guy to drink with. He’s always got cool people around, he’s cool. L-VIS1990 he’s a Don but he’s really good and they were part of the guys I want to see DJ. Him and Luciano, they’re both really good.

At festivals I always see guys running round in Major Lazer T-shirts. Is the new title of your upcoming album going to be as T-shirt worthy as “Guns don’t kill people, Lazers do?”


Have you already made the T-shirts, just waiting for the album to be released?

Yes the album’s going to be called “Buy a T-shirt” actually. And the t-shirt’s say “Buy a T-shirt” on them. I think it’s really clever actually. It’s actually just a work in progress now but Switch and I will make up something clever.

Diplo will be playing with Switch as Major Lazer at Stereosonic 2010, tickets are available from Moshtix.com.au.

Michelle Sawyer, October 2010