Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Swingamajig 2017 - part 3 - Chicken Brothers

Last but not least in this year's Swingamajig preview are the mighty Chicken Brothers - pioneers of the scene in Liverpool and festival fields around the land, scratch maestros and all-round good eggs. One member of the flock has just flown back in from Oz, setting a new world record for 'Longest Flight by a Chicken' in the process, so the answers are a little brief, but entertaining and informative none-the-less.

Jack: You’ve played a few Swingamajigs now – can you share your best memory of the festival, if you can remember any of them?

Our favourite memory would have to be at the first ever Swingamajig — playing the closing set with an audience made up of loads of UK producers, DJs and performers all getting down and interacting. A particular highlight of that set was when Odjbox approached us to request some Odjbox... He also went on to say that we were top of the list of people to play the electro swing office Christmas party, being "the dj's DJ..."

Jack: The Chicken Brothers have a habit of popping up during other people’s sets – have you got any guest appearances planned?

Not due to do any cameos at Swingamajig this year as we will be working all day helping to run the event in different areas. But we will be on hand to play the opening set at the after party, and as a reverse cameo we have our newest member Mike coming down on rooster duties [I think that means MC duties. Ed.].

Jack: You have a hand in loads of events and festival stages and so on. What is it that sets Swingamajig apart from other festivals?

Swingamajig is special to us because we have been involved in it from the beginning, and now help to run various areas of the production as well as perform. It's filled to the brim with our favourite acts, producers and DJs. Plus the crowd are next level awesome! It's a solid date in the diary every year.

If you've got your ticket yet, I think there's still a few left, but don't delay. There's so much more to do in addition to the music. I've been asked to take part in some sort of table-football event, so watch out for that; there's dance classes, something called the Bacon Cheeseburger Pie which sounds life-changing (or perhaps life-ending), and performances from the likes of Oh My God It's The Church, magicians and all sorts of scantily clad ladies. The festival's tagline is 'A show like no other'. They're not wrong. It is, as Odjbox said, the vintage remix world's office party, so there'll be some tired legs and sore heads come Monday morning.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Swingamajig 2017 - Part Two - Dutty Moonshine

Next up in the Swingamajig preview series is Mike aka Dutty Moonshine. Mike is not only a pioneer of the vintage remix sound, but he's also one of the most energetic and innovative people in the scene, always pushing boundaries. He's got a reputation as a shit-stirrer and a party-starter, is wanted for crimes against electro-swing, nature and common decency. Approach with caution. 

Jack: How important a role has Swingamajig played in bringing new vintage remix acts to the world?

Dutty Moonshine: The vintage remix worlds owes a lot to two places, the Mayfair field of Boomtown and the big, bad and heavy Swingamajig.

Swingamajig is one of those places that when you get asked to play it is a nod of recognition. The guys running it have such a finger on the pulse and they're providing such an amazing platform for some of these artists - to play in front of 4000 fans of the scene - that all the acts should be turning up with chocolates and flowers for the production team.

When Swingamajig says you're good the world listens.

It's also a who's who of the scene, so many people in the crowd run events or are acts that may have played previous years or the near future, bring your A game or don't bother coming.

Jack: Youve played at Swingamajig a few times, but i gather this time its not a swing set... what can people expect?

Dutty Moonshine: They can be expecting what I'm good at, mash up DJ-ing! It was mash up DJ-ing that got my early contacts which helped me launch Dutty Moonshine; it was mash up DJ-ing that gave me the idea of fusing big dutty basslines with swing music and it is mash up that will forever push me forwards to work out what you can and can't do.

I'm going to be rocking a big-ass-multi-genre party set and I'm bringing backup in the shape of DJ Binge. He's the DJ in the big band on stage and he's the DJ that inspired me hugely back in the day with his style.

Tom (of Electric Swing Circus and Ragtime Records) specifically asked me do a party-style set because while Swingamajig is a vintage remix festival it's also so much more. Hence seeing acts like Document One and Freestylers on the bill. Tom knows this is what I'm best at and he's asked me to unleash the fucking mayhem!

He also knows Dutty Moonshine is one of the few acts that can follow the Correspondents when it comes to high octane energy music. I hope you're getting your cardio in now, you thought my vintage remix sets were good wait until you hear this set!

We're going to be slaying party and bass tunes on 4 decks like there's no tomorrow.

Jack: Describe Swingamajig in three words.

Dutty Moonshine: Decadent Dastardly Mayhem

Next up, find out what the motherclucking Chicken Brothers have to say...

Monday, 24 April 2017

Swingamajig 2017 - Part One: Madame Electrifie & Emma Clair

When I was asked if I wanted to cover Swingamajig again this year there was only one sensible answer. A big fat, hairy yes.

There'll be the usual JtC review appearing at some point after the event, [watch out for the traditional 'I don't remember what happened after this...' line] but by way of a preview I've been in touch with some of the people playing at this year's festival to ask them what makes it such a special event.

Speaking for myself, I love any event where a huge chunk of the vintage remix family are together in one place; I feel sure that having all these amazing artists together in the same place has provided the catalyst for some cool collabs and innovative projects. The crowd at Swingamajig are always a super-friendly, stylish and hard-partying lot, the importance of which cannot be overstated. But what really makes the event special, for me, is the time, care and attention that the Ragtime Records and ESC put into it all - they love this scene, they love this sound, and that really shines through.

First up, I spoke to Jo, aka Madame Electrifie, who played at the first ever Swingamajig way back in 2013.

Jack: What was the best performance that you’ve seen at Swingamajig over the years? 

Madame Electrifie: There are too many to try and remember, it’s been great to see electric swing circus grow and develop into the amazing live act they are now over the years. And Smokey Joe and the Kid are a definite contender, I’m really looking forward to seeing them again this year.

Jack: How has the festival evolved and grown over the years? What have been some of the changes that you’ve liked most? 

It’s quite crazy how long it’s been running, I just had to check back and see that the first one was 2013 which is mad. I remember the first year was like a huge meeting point for all these artists that I was aware of musically but had never seen in person, I made so many long-term friends from that event, people I’ve since had the privilege of playing alongside many times. I was unable to make it last year so I am really interested to see how much it has grown since my last visit.

I like the fact that although Vintage Remix and Electro-swing are still at the heart of the event, the festival has grown and adapted as the scene has. There are some people who have been involved in the scene right from the start, so of course their sound and influences have developed over that time, which is great as it would be a bit repetitive otherwise. The festival has developed to accommodate that development whilst still offering a good slice of vintage action for the new comer. Bringing in acts from the Ghetto Funk and Breakbeat world really helps add another dimension to the programming, which is important to add some variation to the event and keep in interesting.

Jack: What has been your own personal favourite set (i.e. that you played), and what do you think you’ll be spinning this time around?

My first ever swingamajig set was so much fun, way back when! Although I couldn’t see over the decks if I remember, which happens far too often!

This year I’m playing before The Freestylers (WAAAAA!), one of my favourite acts of all time, so I’ll be visiting some old-skool breaks influences and splicing these with my all-time favourite floor filling electro swing tracks that have rocked previous years at Swingamagic – it’s one place you know the audience will want to hear them, so it’s going to be a bit nostalgic, but in a good way, and you know, banging too!

Next I spoke to one of the UK's most up-and-coming electro-swing DJs, Emma Clair

Jack: This is your first year performing at Swingamajig – have you been as a guest before?

I’ve never been to Swingamajig, as I have always been tied up with DJ gigs! So the fact it’s my first time performing and my first time experiencing the wonders of the festival itself, is unbelievably exciting!

I’m honoured to be playing the closing set on the Vintage Terrace with my partner in crime, Andy McBain who will be bringing an element of live performance to our set with his amazing clarinet skills! (shameless plug haha)

Jack: Who are you most excited about seeing perform?

Argh.. there are so many amazing acts on the lineup, it’s hard to single anyone out! But, for me, it has to be Elle & The Pocket Belles! I’m in love with their song “Swinging Together”, and I still regularly play it in my DJ sets.

I’m also really excited about seeing Sam & The Womp – they definitely bring the ‘fun’ element to Electro Swing, which is something I always try to push too!

Also The Electric Swing Circus (honest – Tom didn’t ask me to say this, it’s actually true) – They absolutely blew me away when I booked them to play at Prohibition earlier this year, so I can’t wait to see them in action again!

Jack: What about the sideshows and other entertainment – what tickles your fancy there?

Ooh again, this is really tough, there is so much going on!!!

I’ve heard good things about Vicky Butterfly, so I am looking forward to seeing her do her Burlesque thing.

The Swing Era Dance workshops are definitely on my list of things to check out!! I’m hoping to pick up some moves to bust out on the dancefloor… that’s the plan anyway…

And finally.. I will be paying the food court a visit! I’m hoping for some vintage treats to satisfy my extremely sweet tooth! 

Watch this space for Part 2. dropping later this week, and featuring the Chicken Brothers and Dutty Moonshine!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Laidback Mr Woox

Syed meets one of the most interesting producers in the Vintage Remix scene, Croatian born Mr Woox, aka Milan Vujnovic, whose unique take on swing-hop has earned him a reputation as a maker of some of the most evocative retro beats. In this wide-ranging interview, which is reproduced verbatim, we find out what makes him tick.

Recently, I wrote about the specific journey that I went through, which started from songs of Jennifer Lopez through to UK Garage swing. The journey has continued. I have been listening to a lot of Swing House and Swing n Bass but a Vintage Remix artist made me curious about slow jazz music with soft downtempo beats. I looked more into it and also found some similar songs by Boogie Belgique and Neroche who also specialize in blending Jazz music and hip hop beats. I started searching for similar music and found myself listening to a lot of Trip Hop, which originated from Bristol. UK. I asked on the public Electro Swing group on Facebook if the birth of electro swing had anything to do with much older trip hop sound.

In my last post, I mentioned how I was able to connect to electro swing music because of thousands of movies I’ve seen since moving to Canada in 2004. However, only certain kind of music could give that warm vintage feeling evoking New Orleans and New York City: music by Mr. Woox and Laidbackz.

Mr. Woox is a Croatian producer and DJ, who is known to make really warm jazzy, yet funky, beats which I like to think as ‘porn of electro swing’. Recently, I had a pleasure of speaking with him:

Milan: Hey man. Can you hear me?

Syed F: I can… Thank you so much for giving me this time. I really appreciate it.

Milan: No problem, no problem.

SF: I guess you don’t have a lot of time so I will get right into it.

Milan: Actually, I do have some time. We can have a casual Sunday conversation. By the way, it has been a great Saturday. The gig was really good.

SF: I saw your Facebook post.

Milan: It is actually…do you know the city where is the city I played? Do you know where I am now….besides Serbia? Do you have any idea?

SF: I don’t know.

Milan: Actually, there is a really big world famous festival called Exit Festival. Do you know about it?

SF: No, actually no. I wish I did.

Milan: It has been going on for 10 years now. It is one of the major festivals in Europe.

SF: So, people from all over the Europe were there?

Milan: Yeah, yeah. If it is the festival and it is during the summer then everybody comes to it. It is right beside the city where I am now. I just wanted to tell you that.

SF: That is amazing. I am sure many people already knew and some did not. Thank you for letting me know.

Milan: No problem.

SF: I know exactly what kind of music you make so my questions will be very specific.

Milan: Yes, sure.

SF: I know you represent a specific sub-genre of electro swing which is why I think your music has been really unique. I am going to be very careful when I use the term “Electro Swing” because I know you prefer the term “Ghetto Swing and Swing Hop”. So, I know, instead of using the term electro swing, you say that you make Ghetto Swing and Swing Hop. What got you into this music? Did you start your music career with this type of music? What were your early influences?

Milan: Basically…I think you were also in that conversation where we discussed…I think Michael Rack from Dutty Moonshine had some post regarding…I think you actually did comment on that. We mentioned the Trip Hop and whole Hip Hop, the roots of Jazz and Swing. What can we say about that? My late mother introduced me to the whole Jazz records…Jazz and Swing story and also funk and soul. She introduced me to the good stuff – the classic and original stuff. When I was 11 or 12 years, she played Aretha Franklin’s records, she played Billy Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald for me. I listened to a lot of that music when I was a little kid. And then, of course, there is Tom & Jerry music. I kind of grew up on that. Later on, you know how life goes and you meet with certain people in your life. A really good friend of mine, who is older than me, introduced properly. I listened to a lot of Hip Hop before by myself of course. When I was growing up….how old are you? I was born in 1988.

SF: Same here. I was born in 1988.

Milan: So, we are from the same generation. Then, I don’t have to tell you how we grew up. There was not so much internet. We really had to dig in order to find the stuff. It took half an hour to 45 minutes to download one .mp3. You had to really connect with people, from the music, to actually gain access to the quality stuff. Then, he introduced me to the labels like Ninja Tune and artists like Kid Koala, DJ Krush – all that Trip Hop/Hip Hop stuff. And, then, when he introduced me to those artists, we told each other to listen to songs, I was like: “Man, this is really good stuff”. That was like the melting pot of the music. I was introduced by my mother and this was like the upgraded version where it combined those styles. And, then, you have all these…you can probably tell by my music, I am a huge old hip hop fan – the golden era sound of the 1990s. (Some of the) hip hops groups were House of Pain, Funkdoobiest, Cypress Hill, DJ Premier  - that is the sound I was after.

SF: You had a very specific journey to get to this point, that’s is amazing. In your opinion, why do you think that revisiting vintage sounds, by an electronic music producer, work so well? What makes it so effective? Why do you think it works so well?

Milan:  You asked me about revisiting vintage…I can tell you why I started with production of that music. I needed that sound. I needed to hear it. I heard it from other producers and I liked it. I really needed to put my imprint on this. I liked the story of electro swing. It was a totally new genre which was representing the combination between old and new which was really….I was like, “Oh my God, this is it!” This is what I do. This is what I like. I like the classic stuff. Now, we live in 21st century. That really brings me back. It gives you a feel that you live in that time because I am really a huge fan of 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. I can see (some good material from) 1950s but that would be like mid-1950s. Till the end of 1950s – that is it for me as far as Jazz and Swing is concerned.

I just wanted to mention a couple of things I have in my mind about this subject. For me, I love that organic and warm sound. For me, jazz and swing were warm music. When it is Christmas time and it is winter, it has that something… I love (that) romantic dreamy abstract vibe. Of course, I love to dance. I played some dance tunes yesterday. That is not what I, Mr. Woox, am trying to do as an artist. L’Orange is one my favourites. That sound, he is after something – of course, I am going to do my style, my imprint but that is the vibe I am after. I love the noir. I love noir movies. I have seen The Godfather 500 times. When I was 11 years old or younger – Casino and those movies, I really loved. It is kind of like natural thing (for me).

When I was starting out or, I shall say, when I joined the electro swing circle about four or five years ago, I found it mega-dope. I listened to UK Garage-based electro swing bands which I found to be good. After a year or two, I could not really dig it. I was searching for certain vibe. That music was too aggressive for me. I am not all that bass heavy or dubsteppy. I want you to get a feel what vintage revival means for me. It is about keeping the warmness and authenticity of that era through organic drums, etc. but not too much electro stuff: crazy synths, etc. It has to preserve that (warmness).

SF: I understand what you mean. If you watch the older movies, they captured it really well. When I listen to your music, I really go back in time. Literally, I feel like I am there.

Milan: Thanks. On the other hand, I understand that every genre has to go pop at some time. Same thing happened to hip hop. Look at the hip hop now. It is fucking ridiculous. The trash, they call hip-hop these days, make me sick.

On my Soundcloud, I have this saying, “Swing is maybe the only music where suffering looks glamorous. We think that a certain song passed through our life, but it's actually the other way around. We passed through its eternity." This is where I have the moment of inspiration. This is what really matters to me. I do music. I did all my stuff ever since I made my Soundcloud account. I did this from the heart and my soul. I really wanted to do that so they can be eternal and classic. I don’t want hype. Of course, positive hype is good but I will not follow the trend just so I can be: “SUCCESSFUL DJ BIG MR. WOOX” who needs to play Trap Swing to be booked. I like to be honest. I like to say what is on my mind.

SF: In your live sets, do you play any other forms of electronic vintage/swing music, e.g. swing and bass, swing house, glitch and swing?

Milan: I wanted to clarify that when I say “Ghetto Swing”, I know the term “ghetto” is used in “Ghetto Funk” but actually “Ghetto Swing” should be like heavy bass sound.

SF: I know what you mean. I did hear a song on your Soundcloud page labelled as “Ghetto Swing”.

Milan: I just took the term “Ghetto” because I feel that this term is about ghetto music: I think of Brooklyn, I think of Bronx. (I think of) old neighbourhood (and) old ghettos. Then, this would be my soundtrack for that (setting) when you see it in a movie or music video. It is from the ghetto or for the ghetto. It does not necessarily have to involve heavy basses. It is kind of my own interpretation of that word.

(To answer your question), in the beginning, when I was doing my first mix, I was messing around with Swing and Bass and everything. As I told you before, I am not getting too old but I think of myself as a prolific listener. I make music. I play my music. I play music from other people. I am still a listener. I can dance to it (new music) but, as I am growing older, it is not my vibe anymore. In my hometown, my crew (from Yugoslavia) is known for doing some really good drum and bass. I went through that phase. I feel like it is for kids (laugh). It is like Call of Duty and Modern Warfare stuff (laugh). I am not saying that this is bad music. On the contrary, every now and then, I can listen to jungle but this is not something I like in terms of production and DJ sets. I play hip hop, house tempo and everything in between: from 80bpm to 126bpm maximum. I don’t like 128bpm – the standard club BPM.

For sets, I can tell you what I played yesterday. I started with classic stuff: jazz and swing records. Then, I went into my production which was jazzy and swingy. Then, I played some unreleased beats which were soulful, funky and jazzy. They were not deep and jazzy but more like funky and jazzy. Then, I constantly was raising the tempo up and then I finished up with funky/deep/jazzy vibe. I love to do a special intro song and a special outro song. It is very important to me – which song I begin with and which song I close my set. I did it all night yesterday but it was not for 8 hours. I played for four to five hours. You can tell a story, man. I had five hours. I had so many tracks I played. It has ups and downs. It is not like that I am playing a deep house set and I have an hour and the half, and I am going to drop bombs at you. It is all quality music but it has a story.

SF: I like the way you think. Where does your name Mr. Woox come from?

Milan: My last name is hard for you to pronounce but it is pronounced as ‘woo-i-no-vich’. It has that ‘woo’ in the beginning. I know you guys cannot pronounce it. My nicknames are “wooky”, “wooxy” – in high school, I was “wooxy”. Then, I thought that this could be really nice. I imagined it visually how would it look like on a billboard. Then, I thought that everybody has that prefix “DJ” in front of their name. “DJ <this> DJ <that> He is a fabulous DJ <blah blah> or DJ <flamingo>”. There are too many DJs. Naturally, I am a DJ. Also, one of my biggest influences was Mr. Oizo, who is a French electro pioneer and really dope, and, of course. Mr. Scruff. I had a pleasure of meeting him two years ago. We were playing at a festival in Croatia which had nice music and good crowd. I admire him a lot and it was an unbelievable feeling when I met him. He is down to earth and a really amazing person. I had a chat with him. I told him that I had “Mr” in front of my name partly because of him. He was cool. Everybody has “DJ’ who play techno or tech house music.

SF: “Mr” sounds classy.

Milan: Yeah, I am trying to get that vibe. So, I thought that I could take that and take something from my last name. Does it sound good to you?

SF: It does. It sounds very cool to me. Your name has that vintage vibe in it. Woox is derived from your current nickname and “Mr” has that vintage vibe. In my opinion, it perfectly describes the genre itself.

Milan: Yeah. If you look at my soundcloud profile picture and see the cover… of course, I could put out a picture of me DJ’ing as shown on Skype (the picture of Mr. Woox DJ’ing on a boat). This was like paradise. It was a cruise shop floating on Croatian islands. My friend, if you ever come, it is unreal – it is like Eden. For example, If I put that picture, many girls would like it (laughs). I don’t want to achieve that. I want you to listen to music and not look at me.
If you look at the guy (in my soundcloud profile picture), I like that shadow. Do you know the game, Fallout?

SF: Yes, I do.

Milan: Do you know the story of it? The whole sound is jazz and swing. You also have Bioshock and some other good games that use jazz and swing music. I am trying to get that abstract feel. You see the guy with a coat and a hat, and there is a clock. I talked about eternity before and this guy (in the picture) is trapped in time. Then, you look at the cover and you see this big city from the future but it is from the past. It is all blended together. Then, the music is the soundtrack for my imagination I have/had.

SF: You mentioned earlier that the (music) genres die eventually. There was swing. Then, there was rock and roll. Then, there was disco. Then, there was house. Even house music is unrecognizable now. I am a huge house music fan.

Milan: The track you linked me (Sisko Electrofanatik - Cocaine (Original Mix)) was awful. I need to link you good stuff. Of course, there is bad material. I tell everyone that you have to dig. There is so much dope music that you would not believe. You just need to dig. Of course, you need a proper source. I have tons of great music coming out. I am most grateful of my Soundcloud stream. Whenever I am down, I go there and I find gems. Also, I can tell you that, for my productions, I use hardware but, at the moment, I don’t have turntables at the moment which I want to change, of course. I am going to get me a pair of those. I download the original tracks. I found really cool sources where I draw my samples from. Also, I find such great things which I cannot find anywhere except fucking YouTube (laugh). By listening to my music, it is hard to tell where the samples are from. You listen to it and like/dislike it.

SF: Where do you think this scene is heading in next 5 to 10 years?

Milan: There is a small digression. I am optimistic generally in life. I like the movement which started electro swing. But, as we discussed many times before, I think it is starting to maybe run out of the good ideas. Let me break it down so you get a proper feel of what I am trying to say. I think most of the classical stuff has already been sampled. Now, worst producers will try to flip that sample and it gets worse. In most cases, I rarely come across something which is new and makes me go, “this is the track I want to have in my set”. Soundcloud had groups before. Nowadays, they are related. Now, for example, when I click on my track, on the right side, it says “related tracks” (not groups anymore). I think those tracks are listed by the tags. I would not agree that they are listed by tags because if you listen to those tracks, they don’t have any resemblance. They are not the same vibe but they are being put as related tracks.

Before, I was really following and was active in those groups. You had groups like “Swing Hop”, “Electro Swing UK”, “Ghetto Swing” and “Swing House”. Producers would upload their songs in those groups. As far as I am concerned, it was better. If I wanted to listen to Ghetto Swing, I would go into that group and pick good songs. I think that nowadays it is really hard for me to come across (good songs). If you take a look at my sets, Nick Hollywood said under one of the songs: “Really good work…” I think that the obvious was being missed here that the tracks in my mixtapes are rarely online. For example, I played Parov Stelar yesterday. I will do the afterparty of Parov Stelar. He will do the concert and then he will be in Belgrade. I will play in the after party. I am just going to try and not be better than him. I love him. He is the godfather of electro swing. Now, he has gone to pop (music). He is doing filling up the concert rooms. He has 5000 people, minimum, when he is doing the concerts. I think industry does that to you. At some point, you have to (play for) masses/wider audience. My stuff is for concerts.

I think this scene has potential but it lacks some really unique and fresh production that will be constant so that, in one week, you have at least seven dope beats to play. There is that lack of tracks. I played so many times where I was booked for electro swing. If I play for more than 2 hours, I have to mix it with something else. It feels boring. It started to feel boring especially those happy trumpets for those crazy drunkards who just want to dance (laughs). Sometimes, I am not happy. For me, Jazz is that mellow shit when I am in love or broken-hearted or when I want to dream.

SF: I do get that feeling. One time, I said that your music is like the porn of electro swing.

Actually, one of my favourite comments I ever received was from Mexico. He said, “Dude, this is awesome! I got laid to this shit” (laughs). For me, this is the feeling of (watching) football in Europe. In the Champions League, the feeling you get when the striker hits a goal, that is why I like music.

SF: That was a great comment and very funny.

Milan: That kind of emotion is what drives me to make music. Somewhere or some part/corner of the world, two people in love are making love to my music. Now, I am immortal and can die (laughs). That is my biggest ambition actually: to become immortal and die.

SF: Do you have any new stuff coming soon or any surprises coming?

Milan: Well, with regards to what is going on in my life music-wise, I will be heading to Belgrade in two to three days where I am going to meet with my partner in beats and my good friend: The ROA. We are Laidbackz. He is the other half of Laidbackz. We called ourselves that because we did not want to put “Mr. Woox and The ROA”.

SF: So, Laidbackz is you and The ROA working together, right?

Milan: Yes, yes. If you look at my Facebook wall, you will see that he is a really dope graphic designer. You can check what he did. We were sitting and talking about music. We are both big fans of Gorillaz. We wanted to do that too with Laidbackz. We are trying to get that. He is the left one and I am the right one. It does not necessarily have to be like that but I have seen it a lot that, when you are on stage, it is good to have something which makes you unique.

If you look at the actual swing scene these days, everybody puts suspenders [that’s braces to us Brits. Ed.] – the stuff which hold your pants – and immediately, you are an electro swing DJ. I am trying to somehow stand out from all that. I am trying to be very unique and I know it is hard because there is always something which cannot be avoided.

SF: I think your music is going to last longer than the current electro swing trend because you are very unique. Whenever people join the Electro Swing group, they are looking for mostly swing house. When they see something different…

Milan: Yeah. They are looking for the stuff that is already being put out there. I don’t understand either. They want to listen to Parov Stelar and Caravan Palace. Goddamnit, we have been listening to that stuff for six years. I understand that some people are new to it but it is fucking crazy. They don’t need you to like them. They don’t need you to repost their tracks. They have made it. I will always support and will return the comment under my songs. I love to find many people in my hometown and other places who come to me because they know I am about music and respect my work. Many rappers ask me about opinion and I always give honest feedback. I never lie to them. I won’t call them dope if I don’t think they are dope. If you ask for an opinion, I will give it to you and will give it honestly. This is how it should be done...

I am enjoying this conversation.

SF: Where are your future gigs? Are you going to play in other countries?

Milan: Today, I am going to head to Belgrade. I am going to spend a day with my partner. We are going to finish a couple of tracks. We have a 7-track EP which is so good. I think, you will be blown away. I am being modest, they are very good. Each of them is a story for itself. It is unbelievable. If I do an EP, it is seven tracks. In most cases, (for example) House EP has 3 tracks and that is it. Their lengths are different but you hear the same kind of sound. I love that we can make soundtrack EP and all tracks are connected in a certain way but they are all telling a different story. We have that EP ready. I am waiting for C@ in the H@ to respond. We talked about releasing it on his Ragtime Records. I feel it is a very good label to do it especially because they don’t have such kind of vibes on their label yet. C@ in the H@ told me that he liked the tracks very much. We are waiting - he has sent a couple of tracks to High Focus Records. They are really big. We are waiting for the answer in general to see who will do it. We are going to record that and master it. I hope it will be out in some day in April (2017).

Then, after Belgrade, I am going home to Velika. I think I am crossing my towns. I should be a resident DJ at a very nice location at sea during the summer. If that comes in, I will be settled for an entire summer. However, they are very backed up. I think they liked my story because they have that lounge bar and I am the guy for them (laughs). If I become a resident there, I would give my best to the owners and to bring somebody as guest to do sets – so we can do a good story. For example, Kiwistar comes from France who makes really cool stuff. By having an international guest, you can make a story with it. He popped up in my mind because we are friends. I will play at some festivals maybe and some single parties every now and then.

SF: Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

Mr. Woox and his partner in crime, The ROA, have been making some really unique and sexy music, which is guaranteed to make you all travel back in time and to the old streets of New York City and New Orleans.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Skellington Crew - Max Golfar gets to know Duke Skellington

Duke Skellington is an American electro-swing producer and DJ from Los Angeles, and he is also part of the production duo The Vaude Villainz. He is also a promoter for Electro Swing events in the West Coast of America and runs his own podcast with Professor Watson, called the Jitterbug Jukebox. I caught up with The Duke, and spoke about a few things such as the American Electro Swing scene, his own music productions and his history behind how he got to where he is now as a producer, and we also spoke about some of the projects that he is working on.

What is the American electro-swing scene like, could you tell me a bit about it?

I have my best insight in California, what I can say about it is that in LA it is growing. We have a core of people. It’s weird, a lot of people like the sound but they don’t know it is an actual scene. I went out to see Parov Stelar and I saw Caravan Palace and it was massive! Jam packed, really big arenas, it was crazy; but as far as the local electro-swing events, we haven’t figured out how to tap into that group yet.

I think what it is, these people hear groups like Parov Stelar and Caravan Palace, they don’t know it’s a scene, they think it is like house music with a bit of swing in it, and they say ‘I like it’! They think of these supergroups as being unique to themselves, rather than part of this global movement. I think there needs to be an education process in bridging the gap between those artists and your Dutty Moonshines and Catjams, the artists doing really great music, but they’re not as massive as those guys… yet.

Me and a couple other buddies, The Gentleman Callers of LA and a guy from Swingtronic, Marshall, we had a meeting at the beginning of the year. We have some big strategies in place to take over and bridge those gaps and to build the networks and throw the events! LA is tough though, it’s big and it’s super spread out. If we throw a big event in Downtown LA, all the people in the West Side and Long Beach, they don’t want to drive out to it because they don’t want to deal with drinking and driving and it’s super expensive to get a taxi! So we’re trying to bring electro-swing to every little community in LA, and we’re looking to build our base.

I feel with other cities in America, except San Francisco, they are right there with us, I think they are in a similar place, but I think they just don’t have as a big of a crowd.

We throw these parties called Trapeze parties, it’s like a warehouse rave, but with electro-swing mostly, and we have burlesque dancers in between, we have magicians sometimes too. We have a bit of a circus element. We have a certain crowd of what we call ‘Burners’, some gypsy, some hippy, artsy, folky kind of people, all kinds of ages, from late teens to thirties. A real hodgepodge of people coming to our electro-swing events.

Trapeze events:

What have you found Los Angeles crowds respond best to at electro-swing/Vintage Remix events?

That’s tough… there are different crowds that respond to different things. I’ve DJ’d at different events, like Swingtronic for example is an event which is people who are mainly into classic Swing and are into classic Swing dancing, but also there is a part of the night where we bring in electro-swing, and when I am DJ’ing there, I play less grime-y and less bass heavy stuff and more classic electro-swing like your Parov Stelars, and a lot of the Freshly Squeezed stuff. It can be House-y but it doesn’t get too electronic. Although, when I do Trapeze, I get really bass heavy and grimey, I bring out the stuff that crosses over into the really really glitched out and nasty stuff and people love it! If I were to talk about Americans in general, if I had to pick a majority, I would say they lean more towards the more electronic and bass-y stuff, but there definitely is a crowd for more ‘classic electro-swing’.

Where did the name Duke Skellington come from?

I was just doing plays on words and with old Swing artists names, and I was actually going to go by ‘Duke Skeleton’, and I was talking to a few friends about it but they kept saying ‘Duke Skellington’ and I was like why do you keep calling me that? I was then like, ‘wait a minute…’ if everyone is saying that, maybe there is something to it. So I did a poll with a few of my friend’s who I really value their judgement and I asked them what they preferred and they unanimously said they preferred ‘Duke Skellington’.

What plans do you have for your upcoming productions?

The plan for this year is a want to put out a free remix tune every month. It will be free for thirty days and each tune I want to ramp it up so that I can get more followers and stuff… on top of that, under The Vaude Villains I am releasing an album on Ragtime Records, four songs are coming out in the next month or two. Also, some stuff on Green Queen, on a compilation, it’s a song called Turtle Glitch, it’s a remix of a song called Turtle Twist. It’s a really fun track. I would like to have a 4 song EP out this year under Duke Skellington that is going to be mostly original joints, I want it to be with vocalists, and as much as I love doing remixes, I think I’ve got to break out of doing the remix thing and put out some originals too, so I can put my stuff out there in its own lane.

How long have you been producing and have you produced under different aliases before?

Yeah I’ve been producing since I was 15 or 16 years old in the late 90’s doing electronic music, back then the scene was so different… even before that I was a piano player and I wrote my first actual Swing song when I was 14.

I was into Swing music before I was even into electronic music. In the 90’s there was this style of music called The Swing Revival, Neo Swing. There were bands like Royal Crown Revue, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Squirrel Nut Zippers, and I was super into it! I was then playing in bands and then I got bored of the band scene, and then I got into electronic music. I never really thought those two worlds would collide and I always thought I would have to choose one and never thought they would end up blending together.

Since that time, since 1999, I’ve done a few different genres. I was really into Aphex Twin, what they call IDM. I did music under the name ‘Chad Cells’. It was very IDM-y and Aphex Twin-ish. I still have a soft spot in my heart for that guys music. I also used to rap! I did Hip-Hop for a long time, been in different Hip-Hop groups and put out some releases. All throughout that time I’ve experimented with House, DnB, a little Dubstep before it got too big, pretty much everything under the sun.

Chad Sells Rap Release ‘Skulls & Butterflies’:

Because of my age I’ve done a lot - I was in the military, I have a kid - so there were different points in my life where things would take me in a different direction and I couldn’t focus on music as much as I wanted to. So there was a certain point where I was like, I can’t let life keep taking me away from what I am passionate about, so in the last few years I’ve really started buckling down on production and I’ve been trying to learn new ways to do things in a quicker way and a more efficient way.

I think there is a point in every producer's path where they go ‘man it’s good but it doesn’t sound like the stuff I’m DJ’ing, it’s not quite there’. I think every producer gets to that. Either one of two things happen, they either quit or they go ‘you know what, I’m not going to stop until I figure that out’. That’s where that fire got lit in me, where I’m like ‘I’m going to figure this shit out’. I thought my songs would be good but they would have something missing. I’ve been developing these techniques to figure out what other people do and trying to apply that to my own stuff. I feel that’s been a big part of my evolution in the last few years, I feel my production skills have gone up. I’ve only been doing electro-swing for about two years, but it now feels like a natural style for me.

Which artists influence you and your music? In the electro-swing community, and outside of it too.

So definitely Aphex Twin and Squarepusher were my early influences for sure, outside of ES that is. Inside of ES it would be… you know what, it would be that song by Gramophonedzie ‘Do Right’, I heard that song maybe four or five years ago, I thought it was amazing and I didn’t even realise it was a genre. I loved hearing the old and the new mixed together. That kind of planted the seed, so that song influenced me back then. I now think songs like Swing Break, those more glitchy Swing tracks, everybody from Howla to WBBL to Phibes, those guys all doing there thing have been very influential to me.

So you run your own podcast called the Jitterbug Jukebox. Could you please tell me a little about it, what it is, and what you discuss on your show?

Jitterbug Jukebox is a podcast with me and my partner Marshall AKA Professor Watson, and basically we’re focusing on the music from the 20s to the 40s and the subcultures that surround it and also in its current form of Electro Swing, which is big in Europe and it is building here in the US. We focus on interviewing artists, fashion, dancing; Marshall’s a professional Swing dancer, so he talks about Electro Swing and Swing dancing and how those areas go together. We want to do more historical sections on artists from those eras, that maybe people don’t know about their history. We’re focusing on Swing music from the past to the present and we try and cover it from every angle.

Jitterbug Jukebox:

What is the Swing DnB and general Drum and Bass scene like in Los Angeles/America? What’s it prevalence in the Electro Swing community?

I’ll be blunt, there isn’t a strong scene for it, people don’t even know it’s a thing. It just gets lumped into Electro Swing in general. Drum and Bass though, I have friends who have been doing DnB for almost 20 years! I had a conversation with one of my buddies who has a DnB radio show, and his feeling on it is, and I don’t know if other people feel like this but, he thinks the UK is so prominently doing DnB that when he throws an event, he says he can’t get people to come out to it unless there is a big UK headliner. There is a core of people who love DnB, but they kind of look to the UK… but I know there are a lot of producers in the US who do DnB, but I’m sure there are American producers who have been successful with it, but I haven’t gotten too deep into American DnB producers. What I do understand though about the DnB scene out here is that they do very much look to the UK. Whilst other things like Trap, that may not be so much the case. I used to be into Jungle in the late 90’s, that was the shit! I was getting my mind blown every event I went to!

What production software do you use and why?

Ableton Live. I like it because it has treated me the best over all the years! I’ve used like five different DAW’s in my history of production, my last one I was using was Logic Pro and I was using that up to 2010, but yeah Ableton Live has some key features in it that I will probably keep using for a while longer.

What music, other than electro-swing do you particularly like?

I’m an Old-Skool Hip-Hop kind of guy, so definitely Hip-Hop. It’s funny my 9 year old son, he gets me listening to songs I would never listen to. They are like the pop radio Hip-Hop stuff, but I probably know more lyrics and songs that are on the radio than I have ever known in my life!

I actually tried to show him how easy it is to make a Trap beat, I build 808’s and I have drum kits, so I said if you want to make music like this, this what you have to do. So I started messing about, so I then decided I’m gonna make this into a Swing and Trap tune, it’s almost there!


Duke Skellington Soundcloud:

Duke Skellington latest song - ‘Life Goes To A Party’

Vaude Villainz Soundcloud:

Duke Skellington Facebook: