Discovery : Sons of Maria

Let’s get some latin influences that time as we head towards Barcelona, Spain to discover s a project called Sons of Maria, signed by some a bit less latin label called Enormous tunes (which is a quite exact description of what the signature of that label sound like), based in Glattbrugg, Switzerland (un das ech jo Tip top! 😉 )

After several nice releases, and amazing remixes for Nora en pure (a swiss deep house artist that will soon be reviewed here too I think 😉 ), the Sons of Maria come back with a track called Feels like summer that really… feels like summer, and to be true it even feels like a potential international summer hit with every kind of possible feel good elements. From the happy whistled intro to the harmonicas (quite original for that kind of music) and of course the cool relaxed beat, this piece of music has just got everything to put a smile on your face and enjoy your friend the sun on a mediterranean beach.

Definitely a song that will take your worries away and get you in a positive vibe all through the day. Congrats, Sons of Maria for landing that sweet audio gem !

Discovery : Castiello

A DJ/producer with palmtrees on his official logo can only please me, especially when those really reflect the wonderful summer vibes that emanate from his excellent (progressive) house production. Summer freaks, our dutch friend Castiello is there to please our heatwave thirsty ears.

His music is a nice blend of progressive and some slight of tropical vibes that really take you there, on a sunny beach far, far away from our grey daily lives. While he uses the standard elements of such music (a strong beat, synth pizzes,…) his music is also spiced up with some electric guitars and an ethnic instrument here and there that makes his production a flawless and thrustworthy : Flying on air Castiello is the assurance for a great sonic holiday.

Two of his tracks, Florida dream and Belize caught especially my attention.

Florida dream is exactly what it’s title says. Sunny, relaxed, modern, full of good vibes. While the production is standard within the style – while perfectly executed – What else do we need to feel good ? Maybe the excellent electric guitar parts that really add to to coolness of that excellent track full of sunshine.

Belize, named after a little state between Mexico and Guatemala, on the Carribean coast in front of Cuba, really takes you there. It’s got a slight latin influence due to the use of (FM synthesized) guitars and marimbas in it’s arrangement. Again a very effective track to create the lovely evening at the beach feeling we all look after when we’re listening to such music.

To sum it all up, some great tracks for your summer parties by a producer definitely worth to follow.

Artist interview : DJ Crillo

Today I open up a new section of that blog : the interview section ! As you can guess, it will feature artist/producer/DJ/… interviews I’ll do over the years.

Those interview will provide you information on who your favorite artists are, but also on how their musical journey went on and what the realities of todays music business are.

Our first guest – DJ Crillo Aka Christian Eriksson from Gothenburg, Sweden (An artist I reviewed here) – answered a few of my question in a long but very interesting and insightful interview that covers his musical journey and the journey the music scene went through from the 90s to the present times.

So fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride…

Artist / project name / handle :
DJ CRILLO

Official websites :
http://djcrillo.blogspot.se/
https://www.facebook.com/djcrillo/

So let’s start this interview… Could you talk a little about you ? Who are you ?

I’m a quite positive person, I smile a lot, this makes it quite easy for me to connect with people. I am also a bit spiritual… and sensitive. I have a powerful internal drive that makes things happen, I hardly never ever slow down. I do believe in the relationship between people, people gives me energy and motivation.

I’ve loved music since I was a little boy. I started playing on my first keyboard when I was 4 years old. My mother was dating a guy who was a pioneer of synthesizers… He was the distributor of the famous PPG synth in Scandinavia. The first synth of its kind. He had at least 10 different synthesizers in his house. When I got to visit his studio for the very first time, 6-year-old, this experience lit a fire within me… this experience started a journey…

Christian Eriksson aka DJ Crille with his guitar

Christian Eriksson aka DJ Crille with his guitar

How did you get involved in the music scene ? When did it happen ?

I met with Magpie (Magnus Liljengren) in high school, we became best friends the first time we met. We were of the play music for the next 10-15 years together, in different musical projects and genres before we split up doing things on our own. We started 1987 by playing instrumental synth pop and we managed to sell over 500 cassettes at our school.

I met Black Snake (Milton Hebbert Watson) in the 90s for the first time. He was doing one of his great “toasts” on a track I was producing for artist named Innervision. We immediately became friends talking about everything from love to music.

Black Snake (Milton Hebbert Watson)

Black Snake (Milton Hebbert Watson)

Black snake live on TV

Black Snake then joined a Europop band together with me and Magpie, Johan B and Kim Kärnfalk called X-RAY. Black Snake and me always had a very special spiritual connection. We work really good together, with great respect for each person characteristics and capabilities. He’s extremely quick, sometimes I send him an idea and responds back with a set of vocal takes within a day, really amazing.

Europop act X-ray, back in the 90s

Europop act X-ray, back in the 90s

xray

Two members of the Europop act X-ray in the 90s

Do you see your production only as a hobby, a potential future career or is it already your career (i.e. you can make a living out of it) ? What’s your vision on this issue ? What advice would you give to a newcomer on this subject ?

During the 90s music was my life. Producing and composing was my identity. But it was always tough to earn any serious money, so I worked in a musical store to manage and be able to pay the rent. But the dream and vision was always clear. I never became reach and famous on my music, but I have met with fabulous peoples and had the chance to experience amazing things I ‘d never had a chance to if I had not been doing music.

It is probably worth much more than money can buy … such as we are under water festival in Stockholm where I go the change to meet the Spice Girls and also got to play with George Clinton’s & the P-Funk Allstar Band. We got to play for 10,000 people in the royal garden. Memories that I will always carry with me the rest of my life.

But when I met up with Black Snake and Magpie again for a couple of years ago, we started a new journey, and we have to see where it takes us… 🙂

DJ crillo live

DJ crillo live

George Clinton & P-funk - All access pass (1995)

George Clinton & P-funk – All access pass (1995)

Clinton, wow ! BTW, the music environment of the 90s – where record sales drove everything – changed due to the recording industry crisis (driven, according to them, by online piracy). How did you go through that episode ?

It was tough, I had to take on other normal jobs and I did also work as an touring musician. I never had the luck to have a hit or other great success of that kind. The record companies were looking for products quite ready to sell. In the end of the 90’s all the boy bands had great success. We were never a ready to sell concept. I think we never had the change to connect with the right people with the cool contacts. I lived in Gothenburg, I town with tons of Rock N Roll bands… not many RnB, Dance music artist back then… the pop music scene was quite small in comparison to Stockholm.

Are you signed to a label/labels ? If yes, tell us how did you get noticed by the label’s executives and in what the label helped you in your musical career

I have been signed with a RnB Soul /Rap band called OLC (Raymond Gustavsson, Björn Holmberg, Björn Starfeldt & Carl-Fredrik Corneliusson). We signed with a big record label called BMG, and we were promised the universe and more… but it never really took off..

RnB / Soul / Rap band OLC, back in the 90s

RnB / Soul / Rap band OLC, back in the 90s

Soo these days with digital distribution and all, we manage to distribute our music by our self. We should however be open for connecting with management or a record label for collaboration.

How did you, back then, got that contract with BMG ? How did they – or not – develop you & your career as OLC ?

We release one single 1996 called SWING, and we got great review from the press and all. Our A&R (Peter Swartling) promised to release an album and to push our music to Luc Besson (famous Film Maker). We then work the album for a year. We recorded and produced 10 songs, some of them were really really good. When we met with the record company again they found one song that was very different more of a RAP song… they told if we did 9 more like that they sponsor us with 1 million… But we felt, hell no… we been working so hard with the album and we loved the songs we had recorded. We went back home, very sad and depressed. Then the phone rang, it was a famous produced and composer Anders Bagge who called to say that He wanted to met with us, he loved the music. So we continued to work with him for another year recording in is big studion in Stockholm. However, we had bad luck, as he decided to ditch us for another similar project that he felt was better…

How would you describe your style ? Why did you choose to express your creativity through that music style ?

DJ CRILLO & Black Snake stands for creativity, we do what we feel from within our self. Of course, one hopes that someone out there in the world enjoy and understand our work and music. The style is a mixture of pop, electro, house with Caribbean accents… but we will continue to develop and get better.

What artists inspire you ? Tell us who and why, how you discovered them, everything…

I’m always impressed with music that sound good and that are properly mixed, with an  interesting sound, vocals or performance. Melodies are very important, that what you hear starts some sort of reaction within you. Music is a passion, I like so many different artist and genres, but to mentions some artist: Seal’s music is always great with a god pop-soul touch. There are some fantastic performing artists like Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake. When it comes down to electronic music, I think that I became very influenced by Denniz Pop‘s sound in the 90s it completely changed the music for many years to come. I frequently listen to: Sonny Alven, Marcus Schulz, Will Young, Michael McDonald, Medina, Laleh, DiploZedd, Seven Lions, Faithless, Dua Lipa, Setsuna, MNEK, EDX… Many times when working you are very impressed with the sound quality of other artists as with Otto Knows and Axwell Λ Ingrosso.

What elements OUTSIDE THE MUSIC WORLD inspire you for your creation ?

Meeting people, relationships, life stories and the beautiful ocean. I remember coming back from London very inspired to make a remix of Hillforts Sons – Alone, a track I produced of couple of years ago. The visit to London really inspired me to make something more “club:ish” than before.

Your own mood and feelings will also effect what music you creating at the moment.

Do you consider yourself more (or only) as a producer or a DJ ? Why ?

I’m a producer, most of all, I make things happen, an orchestrator and project leader … I connect different elements to each other, performers, songwriters and musical landscapes. It’s great fun being a DJ sometimes, you learn a lot of what works or not.

As a producer, in what environment are you working ? What is your equipment ? Your DAW ? Your go-to plugins ? Tell the world everything about the technical side of your artistic work.

Many things have changed since I started with electronic music in the 80s using an Atari computer connected via MIDI to +15 synths, mixer and outboard effects.

Dj Crillo's Atari ST based studio in the 90s

Dj Crillo’s Atari ST based studio in the 80s

Now days all you need is a very power computer and a DAW, the rest is up to you. I used to work in Reason because of the workflow and the amazing groove mixer, but as Reason is limited to using their own plugin I moved to Logic Pro X a couple of years ago. The most important part of all is your listening, your monitor and headphones. I very recent came in contact with a company called Sonarworks who makes a calibration plugin/software for your monitor and headphones… and I must say it’s best investment I ever did… All my recent mixes translate so much better now. I still send them away for mastering to Wired Masters in the UK, Kevin is really good. He has mastered our two lasts tracks: Smiling Dreams and On the wall (in my mind).

Why don’t you master your songs yourself ? Plugins like Ozone make this possible nowadays ?

When I been working for long time with a track producing and mixing, I think it’s good to have a 2nd opinion on the mix. Also they are experts on Mastering and they give the extra touch to the music. Ozone is great, for me it’s easier to Master other artists work as I will then to that with a fresh ear.

You said your mother was dating the distributor of the PPG wave while you were a kid… Do you nowadays prefer hardware or software synths ? And what about that famous PPG wave synth ?

I used to have many analog and digital hardware synths. I think I had like 30 different models. The plugins do not sound as good as hardware gear but they are extremely convenient. We’ll see in the future if I will buy me some nice synths for that extra feel. PPG was very special as it contained sampled waveforms, the start for a new type of synths that could sound like both analog and digital gear.

Doing great music is one aspect of the game, but what about the marketing part ? How do you get people to listen to your productions ? How do you market your art… and yourself ?

With new technology you are able to reach people all around the world. Social media is very important and so is also Soundcloud. Soundcloud is great and unique as it’s possible to communicate with other artists and fan’s. I also use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN in order to distribute music and stories to friends and fans.
The big dream is to be played on national radio, but it is almost impossible. We have tried everything, sending them candy, calling them… they won’t play the song. I wish they did…

Any idea why ? Have you got feedback from them ? Did you try being played in smaller radios first ?

They receive many songs every week, they do not have time to listen to every track. The record companies and publishers pay radio station in order to get the music played (editor’s note : this system is known as Payola).

What is your relationship to fame ? Do you seek it ? Do you wanna remain somewhat hidden ? What is your relationship to the concept of having a public image ? Are you more Justin Bieber or Daft Punk ?

I think that most of us doing music wants to be recognized as an artist, composer, performed or producer. I do not seek fame at all, but if it appears I will take it from there. I think that Daft Punk is doing a really smart marketing trick by hiding within the helmets and creating a secret icon. We have not done so with any of our projects, but many succeed by creating an image like that.

Do you also do live performances (whether instrumental, vocal or DJing) ?

Yes, we do. We will bring both synths and a DJ-kit. Black Snake will then sing and perform live on the music back track. Works really well as you still can control the length of the song you perform with the DJ-kit.

What are your plans for the future ? Your dreams also…

My biggest dream is to be played on radio or TV, or if a famous artists discover our music… to make a cover or a remix. I still think my passion to music will take me to new places and the possibility to meet with new interesting people.

Do you have advices for young (or less young ? 😉 ), aspiring producers who’ld like to make it in that activity / business ?

Dream big, keep om practicing and do the music you like and use all the new digital channels to spread it to the world. You will never ever know what will happen. By every release and encounters with listeners you will learn new things and get new ideas… never stop dreaming and never stop trying to be different.

Thanks Christian for taking this interview, and for providing us with insightful answers. Keep up the good work with your mate Black Snake and may the force be with you !

Discovery : DJ Crillo & Black Snake

Our talentscouting journey takes us further north today, as I invite you to take a trip to Gothenburg, southern Sweden to meet Christian Eriksson aka DJ Crillo, Music Producer, Audio Consultant, Remixer and DJ who’s motto is to wish the funk to be with you.

On his new project, M. Erkisson teamed up with Milton Hebbert Watson (aka Black Snake), a Nicaraguayan painter, artist, composer and very talented singer, a co-op that shows that music has no border and that the cultural mix between the soul of that carribean singer and the famous swedish talent for hit music does again great. BTW, the story of Black Snake, and how that Nicaraguayan guy landed up in Sweden is well told on the duo’s blog, right here.

Sweden meets Nicaragua

Sweden meets Nicaragua

The music they do together is a smart mix of house and pop music, which puts bot the spotlight on Christian’s great melodic and producer abilities, with Black snake’s voice shining on top. Some elements – like the trance gate in tracks like Smiling dreams – have some nice 90s revival feel to them, and – somewhat – that duo have some 2k10’s Doctor Alban feel to their excellent work. Some people may call this too commercial, I just call it hit potential, not just on the commercial side, but also in its ability to catch your mind and soul.

On top is definitely the place that killer duo desserves as their music is really great stuff, hit after hit, a quality you rarely stumble upon while browsing the soundcloud goldmine.

Enough blah yet, better let their music speak for them… and believe me it does better than I ever could here !

Discovery : Jimss

Let’s head towards the eastern border of France to discover that new talented producer I discovered while browsing the soundcloud goldmine. Living in Strasbourg, Jimmy Tonussi aka Jimss kicks on the electronic music scene with some great house productions filled with wonderful postive summer vibes that should meet the requirements of anyone building his/her feelgood playlist.

Among his productions, two tracks he did stand out in my opinon : The moon and Enjoy the sun.

The moon features an incredible mashed up vocal samples melodic riff that gets directly to your heart and soul, and repeats itself throughout the track, sometimes played with different instruments, including a sax (I guess this must me the Korg M1 sax, as I hear several other M1 sounds, like the famous organ 2 throughout that track). A track that definitely shows the real power of a killer melody. The light beat behind it, with some nice percussion, adds the necessary rhythm to make this track a fantastic summer and good feel anthem. A pure audio gem for our sunthirsty ears. Congrats, Jimmy !

Enjoy the sun opens up with some nice warm synth stabs (that sound definitely like some sylenth1 stuff). Then a nice tropical house vibes kicks in, with some cool percussion elements and a light kick drum and again that M1 organ 2 patch that comes back in fashion nowadays. A nice track that carries a cool laid back feel, the kind of stuff you need when you want to enjoy the sun on a tropical beach, spiced up here and there by some nice melodic vocal samples. Maybe not as perfect as The moon – Jimss’s instant classic – Enjoy the sun is still an excellent follow up to this producer’s masterpiece.

Let me know if you enjoy Jimss’s music as I do…

…and promised, next time, I’m gonna take you somewhere out of France on my talentscouting journey 😉

Discovery : Delta

Another gem coming from France hits this blog. This time, 2 hours south of Paris, let’s take a trip to Lyon, one of France’s major cities to discover Delta, a nice producer (group of producers ?)  providing great music to our ears.

My personnal favorite is a track called Ain’t Nobody (feat Patricia Edwards) that features a nice blend of acoustic guitar, female vocals and a light but effective house beat. Unlike my two previous discoveries (16 bit lolitas and Croquet club), this producer (band ?) seems to work both with electronic / programmed and live stuff, blending the best of those two worlds together to create a nice, warm and organic sound, definitely radio ready.

A very interesting – but very secret – producer / band / whatever – that will for sure be the source of many great tracks in the months and years to come, making it definitely worth keeping an eye on him / them.

Again, Delta, if you want to be interviewed for this blog, just drop me a line about it 🙂

(This invitation is valid for any artist in the deep / progressive / green house style, and in electronic music in general)

guitare

Discovery : Croquet club

Very little is known about that quite secret french producer. Actually except the real name of the man behind that project – Jeremy Villecourt – and the city he lives in – Paris, nothing is to be found about him online… except for his music. And what music !

Sonar X3 Quadcurve EQ

Croquet club is one of the most interesting projects to follow in the current deep house scene. Signed to Anjunadeep (again!), this french audiogenius provided me – and hopefully soon you too – with some of the best tunes I heard in the last years.

Careless love is as simple and magic as it’s cover artwork. Slow paced, it starts with some minimalistic plucks, then builds into a light beat supported by pads and then some delightfully loungy vocals kick in, just before a nice rhodes piano alike sound fills up the soundscape. A lovely soft atmosphere merging the best of the wonderful 70s music and its contemporary avatar. An ideal song for a cozy, yet modern atmosphere.

But Jeremy’s masterpiece – to my ears atleast – is his amazing Only you can tell release, which is one of the greatest tracks I heard in the last years, the kind of music that makes you literally feel like being in paradise. Starting off with some heavily sidechained pads that play throughout the track, a light beat then comes in, a delightfully haunting vocal line and some nice muted guitars that play a kind of arpeggio throughout a track that builds up more and more, breaking once again the boundaries of the genre and setting us free from the chains our daily life put on us. 4 minutes and 31 seconds of pure audiopleasure I’m glad to share with you :

Enjoy that club, folks !

P.S. : I searched and searched the internet for an interview of Croquet Club but found none. If some of you know one, please let me know. And if none is available, Jeremy is always welcome to contact me and we’ll find a way to arrange you that interview that will be made available here 🙂

Discovery : 16 bit lolitas

OK, this discovery isn’t really a discovery – in the term of being a new, emerging talent I might have discovered before anyone else – as they are some of the biggest stars on the well established UK deep house label Anjunadeep. However, as they are still not as famous as Justin Bieber (altough they’re way better than him!), let me introduce that fantastic duo.

Don’t let yourself fooled by their name – those guys are no ‘lolitas’ ! Ariaan Olieroock and Peter Kriek, two Producers / DJ from Amsterdam (The Netherlands), working under the project name 16 bit lolitas, produce some of the finest deep house around, often breaking the boundaries of the genre (which is the trademark of all artists with a strong vision), always trying to take their art a bit further, while remaining accessible to a mainstream audiance.

Among my favorite tracks of that legendary duo are Beat Organ and Premium Emo.

Beat organ is to me what a great deep house release should be : Simple, with a strong idea, and still evolving while building something emotionally strong. In their case, those stabs, most probably done in Sylenth1,  that are introduced at 00:16 of the original mix, with a nice delay effect over it. Nothing fancy you might say, but that’s where the magic of that track is : those two guys managed to make this simple gimmick very strong by all the little elements that come in here and there. Glide pads, little arps, a reverbed bass (again a non conventional approach to that instrument), and a simple beat. In other words, a track that perfectly embodies the expression “simple but efficient”, resulting in a deep house milestone. Congrats, guys !

Premium emo, from the Deep in my soul EP, is my favorite track from that duo, as it features some strong melodies that make this track break even more away from the traditionnal deep house. Actually this track sounds like Coldplay or the Joshua tree era U2 meeting deep house vibes for a perfect feel good sunset track, the kind of music you’ld like to enjoy while being with your girl/boyfriend on the perfect tropical beach, watching the sunset. A track that embodies that simple but ultimate bliss feel such great moments can provide.

Various of melodic lines blending themselves perfectly one into another form that masterpiece which is on top of my feelgood playlist. No wonder I would for sure have been ultra mega giga happy I’ld have come up with something only 1/1000th as good as this.

But more than words, let the music speak for itself :

I hope you’ll enjoy that genius Deep house duo as much as I enjoy them 🙂 !