Interviews In The Shade: Silicon Syndicate (Part 2)
Second and last part of our Interview with emerging New York duo Silicon Syndicate. Discover their influences, upcoming releases and music recommendations.
If you have missed the first part -> Interviews In The Shade: Silicon Syndicate (Part 1)
As mentioned, in your beginnings you were mostly a psychedelic oriented collaboration, while lately you have also included in your repertoire more progressive and techno vibes. How did your sound evolve over time and why?
Hugh: We sort of grew up and listened to a lot of other music that influences us. We got a bit tired of the typical psy trance tropes and I had been into the progressive psy sound since early on. Discovering labels like Mistiquemusic, LuPS, Vice Versa, and others a few years ago when I first ventured onto Beatport, I thought these deep prog house labels made a very good match with the progressive psy trance I had always loved.
Kent: Despite our roots in psy trance we’ve always wanted to work with our other influences including techno and some of the better, atmospheric house music out there. For instance, we have a track coming out on Midijum soon that was heavily influenced by a Joey Beltram set we heard at an old-school techno party last summer. Like most everyone at that party, we were blown away by the intensity of his set and the following week we were in the studio looking for that same punch we heard in the tracks he was playing.
Over time I’ve come to appreciate more and more how house music’s relaxed swing quantization has a great groove to it and wanted to incorporate that in to our love of stark techno and also trance. This was unfamilar to me because with psytrance at 145 bpm there wasn’t room for shuffled beats. Our current concept is if you can take the bouncing groove of house, combine it with the icy-cool flavor of techno and mix it in with some atmosphere, harmony and occasionally a little acid techno you come up with a great sound. This is what I think we are trying to achieve overall, while individual tracks may move closer to one particular style over another.
Hugh: You never know where a good sound idea is going to hit you or where it will take you, so it pays to widen your horizons and expand your potential audience as widely as possible without sacrificing the original plan—to make the best music we can and that we’d want to hear loud in a club or outside at a festival.
When I first browsed through the samples of Sonic Tectonic, I immediately heard some old-school vibes in it. Why don’t you talk about your current and past main influences?
Kent: Some of our chief sources of inspiration from the more distant past include progressive psy trance masters like Ticon, Son Kite/Minilogue, Vibrasphere, Atmos, Antix, Bitmonx, the German psy trance artists like X-Dream and classic trance like Der Dritte Raum and Jam & Spoon are still an influence on us in a lot of ways. These days, we’re pleased to say that our current influences are mostly on labels and affiliates.
Hugh: As far as current trance influences, we’re big fans of Ritmo, Klopfgeister, Sonic Entity, Ace Ventura, Phony Orphants, Neelix, Sphera and Rocky, to name just a few. I really love the new Beat Bizarre album on Iboga, too. That one is a killer from start to finish.
I didn’t miss that you are also djs. Given you were active at a time when there was a clear distinction between djing and producing, that has gone lost (somewhat) with the rise of superstar producers and cheap technology, what is your take on djing in 2013?
Hugh: Speaking as someone who learned how to DJ on two 1200s back when there were still record stores and the CDJ still hadn’t been invented, it’s definitely a lot more open to just about anyone with a laptop and some software, but I also love the freedom that software like Ableton Live and Traktor offer.
CD-Js have even gotten to the point where it’s more about track selection than seeing how fast and how smoothly you can beat-match a mix. The software takes care of that and lets you open your mind to adding new ideas and, hopefully, reading your listeners’ moods better to give them a good listening experience. In my opinion, it all boils down to being able to take listeners on a journey across the span of a set, of being able to read the energy of the dance floor and tap into it.
Kent: Well, Hugh is really the talented DJ in our group. I can pull it off and have had the occasional great gig but mostly stick to tweaking my production gear in the studio or on stage. I think it makes sense that DJs and producers are becoming one and the same because the tools are starting to blend together, although cause versus effect is hard to attribute to the DJ or the gear makers… probably it is just both influencing one another.
For example DJs and producers can now use the same software (Abelton Live) to DJ with and produce tracks. Many of the studio effects and DJ effects (glitch, filtering, delay, reverb swells, etc) are the same for DJs and producers, and I’ve learned a lot about how to produce and orchestrate tracks by working with Hugh and learning from his superb DJ skills. I don’t think I’d have my current rhytmic sensibilities if it was not for Hugh teaching me how to beatmatch, hear subtle changes in tempo and recognize and appreciate the sparser elements buried within drum patterns; it is clear to me that DJs and producers really help each other out.
Other trends are bringing producers and DJs together. Just the fact that a DJ can produce songs on a laptop while traveling the world it is no surprise that there is now this overlap in skills. Offering both products also helps with cross marketing. It is funny to see that we are at point though where everyone is doing the same thing: Djing, producing, DJ podcast every few weeks, SoundCloud account, Facebook/Twitter etc. The scene is kind of homogeneous structurally but I guess that is OK because ultimately it all boils down to the quality of the music and DJ mixes. In this way it is a great time to be a DJ and a producer although differentiating yourself is harder than ever, even if you have top skills.
Finally what are your plans for the near future? You have anticipated to me a fairly packed release schedule for the first half of this year.
Kent: We have a lot in store for early 2013. We have two releases coming up on the Dutch progressive house label Locked-up Progressive Sounds with the first of those, an EP called ‘Nailed Down’, dropping on February 6. It’s our first track to get remix treatment and we’re so pleased with the support. We’re honored to have two killer remixes of our original – the first from the label boss and founder, Jacco@Work, and the second from one of our favorite producers – the Colombian progressive house duo Cut Knob.
Our second EP on LuPS (‘Freefall’) features two original tracks with two remixes each. This time the remix support comes from progressive house masters LoQuai, Napalm & D-phrag, and AudioStorm. We couldn’t be more pleased by the support we’ve received from everyone at LuPS.
Hugh: Then later this spring, we return on Mistiquemusic with a double EP called ‘Pyrokinetic’ featuring seven massive remixes from a roster of our favorite artists – some previously mentioned and a host of new names, as well. This was a major coup on our part, assembling the talent for these remixes.
Kent: We haven’t forgotten our psy trance roots either – we’ll also be back on Plusquam with a two track EP of more psy-trance sounds on their Midijum sub-label. We’re not sure when that will hit the stores, but probably within the next month.
Hugh: I’m really psyched about this because I also own the first Midijum 12” release, back when they were called Medium. It’s such a kick to have a release on that label so many years later.
Kent: In addition to all that, we have five remix projects in the works with two completed and three still in production. We’ve got a pretty full plate at the moment, but once the remixes are completed, we want to get back to writing more original Syndicate material.
And last but not least why don’t you recommend us artists or releases (new or old) that you enjoy and would like to take this opportunity to give them more exposure.
Hugh: Here are some that I personally think deserve a good deal more attention and, if intuition serves me correctly, expect to see get big over the next year: Psychowsky, Jacco@Work, LoQuai, Napalm, Zan Preveé, 21street, Snorkle, Hector Sawiak, Franzis-D, Tuxedo, Constan, Jelly For The Babies.
Thanks a lot guys for your time and be assured we will keep having a special hear for your music.
For more information about Silicon Syndicate, check out:
- Silicon Syndicate – Freefall EP (Lups Records)
- Interviews In The Shade: Silicon Syndicate (Part 1)
- Review: Protonica – Form Follows Function (Iono Music)
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