Archive | June, 2009

Hook N Sling: Hooked on success

22 Jun
Hook N Sling

Hook N Sling

How do you know when you’ve made it? It’s all very subjective of course, but some of the signs might be a headlining tour of the UK, which includes a set at Pacha London. An ARIA nomination for single The Bump with Kid Kenobi, and how about Carl Cox opening his radio show with your latest remix Rock With You – a collaboration with Goodwill?

“You always get a massive buzz from it,” says the amiable Sydney DJ/producer Hook N Sling aka Anthony Maniscalco. “Me and Will (Goodwill) were in the studio together on Skype to a mate of ours overseas and he goes, ‘I heard Carl Cox playing your record’ and we looked at each other going ‘what?’ Will quickly googled it and we did a few high fives and got back to work.”

Maniscalco is a little tired. Last night he worked in the studio till 3:30am and then got woken early by construction work happening next door.

“I thought I’d just get up and have a coffee. I’m trying to finish stuff of… all the deadlines are coming up for finished records for the European summer, so I’m setting myself impossible deadlines trying to get it all done.”

Apart from the recent remixes he’s done for Style of Eye and Calvin Harris, Maniscalco is working on new material with Adam K, a Snob Scrilla track, a remix of Fedde Le Grand’s single Scared of Me, plus his own material – most of which you’re likely to hear when he plays in Perth on Saturday.

“My Calvin Harris (I’m Not Alone) mix is going down really well at the moment, a lot of people are starting to pick up on that record. I have also done a new re-edit of The Best Thing and I’m slipping that into my set as well.”

The Best Thing is his remix of the ‘80s Boom Crash Opera classic, which is still getting lots of radio airplay.

“I was quite young when a lot of Boom Crash Opera’s stuff came out but I specifically remember watching Wide World of Sports on Sunday’s with my dad and The Best Thing came on with sporting montages and that stuck in my mind.”

THE PLUG: Hook N Sling plays Villa on Saturday. Tickets $20+BF from Planet Video, Mills, 78s and Moshtix outlets.

[As published in The Wire, The West Australian, Issue 04, 18.06.09]

Review: N.A.S.A @ Shape

11 Jun

N.A.S.A.

Saturday, June 6

Shape Nightclub, Perth

With all the hype surrounding LA based duo N.A.S.A. and their hip hop infused album Spirit of Apollo featuring an epic number of guest artists, it was a mystery as to how Sam Spiegel and Ze Gonzales were going to present this in a live setting.

Billed as a “journey through the galaxy from planet hip hop, through the electro-nebula, past the black hole of funk…” most people were under the impression the pair would be remixing the album on turntables with a live MC.

By 1am, Shape Nightclub was sold-out and heaving as N.A.S.A. got behind four turntables and two laptops. Spiegel looking dapper in a top hat and hoodie asked Perth, “What the fuck is going on? Are you drunk?” as rockets blasted-off into space on the LCD screens behind them and Queen’s We Will Rock You was sampled amid old-school hip hop beats.

No one could dispute the energy these guys generated as they flowed seamlessly between old classics like Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall to new tracks like Beeper by Nick Catchdubs, while all the while maintaining the beats needed to keep the dancefloor pumping.

But where were the tracks from Spirit of Apollo? It seemed we were getting a DJ set instead. Samples were being dropped left, right and centre and using Serato software, the duo could do all sorts of nifty effects, but it was hard to determine how much was ‘live’ and how much had been pre-programmed. They skillfully had control of the visuals from the turntables too using Serato’s video plug-ins.

There were also plenty of tricks to keep it entertaining, like a pretend live cross-over to Kanye West before their single Gifted and some cool vocal delays and effects on the mic with Spiegel making announcements like “this goes out to all the Aborigines in the house”.

Their latest Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Zero remix, the three tracks from Spirit of Apollo and crowd-pleasers like Public Enemy’s Bring The Noise, Gravity’s Rainbow by Klaxons and The Temptations’ My Girl all went down a treat, one dude in the crowd even did a reverse stage dive across the decks and everything suddenly stopped for a sec.

But what started out as fun journey through space and time was turned into something cheesy when Alex Gaudino’s Destination Calabria, Benny Benassi’s Satisfaction, and then wait for it… Metallica, White Stripes, Rage Against The Machine and Nirvana were all played. Who hasn’t seen DJs dropping those a million times over? Why revert to that over Brazilian funk rhythms, hip hop and break beats? After promising an intergalactic flight, N.A.S.A. suddenly landed back on earth with a bang – a disappointing way to end a fun set.”

[Edited version appears in The Wire, Issue 03, 11.06.09, The West Australian]

Review: MSTRKRFT – Fist of God

11 Jun

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MSTRKRAFT
Fist of God
Etcetc/Universal

“All I do is party” raps N.O.R.E on MSTRKRFT’s single Bounce and this sums up what their second album, Fist of God is all about. As the artwork of women’s legs and asses in the shape of a fist suggests, expect unrelenting Justice-style dirty stadium dance-rock, with plenty of flashes and lights, distorted synths, and a bit of R&B and old-skool house thrown in. It’s not that Canadian remix masters Jesse F Keeler (previously of Death From Above) and AI-P don’t do what they do well, there’s just not much finesse to it. This all works fine when you’re wasted on the dancefloor, but there’s a lot more intricacies to quality dance music than that. Relief comes in fifth track Heartbreaker featuring soul singer John Legend, but not even guest Ghostface Killah does much to improve the situation in the latter half. This album is like strobe lighting; you want it, just not all the time in case it induces a fit.

2.5 out of 5

[Edited version appears in The Wire, Issue 03, 11.06.09, The West Australian]

The Toxic Avenger: Punk at heart

11 Jun
The Toxic Avenger

The Toxic Avenger

What is it about Frenchmen and their masks? Guess we can now blame more than synth house on Daft Punk, with Danger (who played at We Love Ministry last weekend) sporting a balaclava to overcome shyness, and Simon DeLacroix aka The Toxic Avenger donning a scary-looking one in promo shots.

But DeLacroix unfortunately won’t be DJing with his mask on when he plays at Shape this weekend. “I don’t perform with the mask anymore for two reasons: One, because I’m better looking than I use to be and two, I had troubles with security at airports!”

Avoir les traits aside, we should be should be in for a treat – Rolling Stone Magazine puts The Toxic Avenger in the same influential electronic basket as LCD Soundsystem, Digitalism, Justice and Simian Mobile Disco.

DeLacroix is at the top of many a list when it comes to producing powerhouse electro-dance tracks.

“I’d say that if you are into rock and looking for something to dance to you’ll probably like my music, he says from the Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport on his way to Dubai. “I play guitars without guitars.

“Expect craziness. I can’t stand being behind the decks just shaking my head… I come from the rock’n’roll scene. I play electro. I’m sponsored by some fancy brands, but I’m really a punk!”

DeLacroix began his career at the age of 12, playing in punk bands as a guitarist and vocalist, and even doing a stint in a hardcore metal band. He attended his first rave at 13, which he states was “pretty boring” and instead cites a Morrissey show as a life-changing experience.

He caught the electro bug after falling in love with a girl, who worked at an electro radio station, and so in a home studio filled with “trash, cigarettes, synths, vodka, an old dead body, a 45rpm of Winnie the Pooh, a book about black metal, and some Pretty Girls Make Graves CDs” he began producing and creating remixes – Ladytron’s Ghosts in particular, receiving plenty of blogging attention.

Expect big things over the next 12 months with the release of a new EP in September called Toxic is Dead and a full-length album early next year. He says, “It’ll sound a little bit more pop than my EPs… But don’t expect my album to be full of love songs.”

THE PLUG The Toxic Avenger plays Shape on Saturday. Tickets $15 on the door.

[Edited version appears in The Wire, Issue 03, 11.06.09, The West Australian]

Fischerspooner: Entertain me

11 Jun
Fischerspooner

Fischerspooner

Casey Spooner started out as a painter before falling into theatre and then music. It’s not surprise then that Fischerspooner, Spooner’s New York electroclash duo with Warren Sischer, are renowed for elaborate art pop performances.

After a four-year hiatus, Fischerspooner are back with their third album, Entertainment, but “don’t call it a comeback” shouts Spooner flamboyantly from his “glamorous bus” in the midst of a 28-day US tour.

Spooner says the electro crossover act is the only creative form able to combine all of his interests.

“I couldn’t just be a painter or actor or musician – I wouldn’t get the answer,” he says. “I’ve never really worked in just one discipline. For the most part I kind of hate theatre, I think it’s a dead form, although I feel that way about a lot of things.”

But the theatre is where Spooner retreats to when things go pear-shaped.

“I worked in experimental theatre for about a decade before Fischerspooner. Then after (previous album) Odyssey, I had a general disgust with the music business. So I went to work with a company I had a great deal of respect for, called the Wooster Group.”

It’s no secret that after their last album the band ran into business difficulties and it was unclear if they would record together again.

“We fired our manager. We had a lame manager that was driving us to the ground for about three years and we gave him the axe eight months ago,” Spooner says.
“Basically we were in this situation where we got stuck on a major. We couldn’t get any work done with EMI and were struggling to get momentum. It was kind of scary because you don’t want to get work done under a contract like that.”

And the bad luck didn’t end there. Once they were released from the contact, they started on their latest album, only to be burned by the producer Spooner would rather not name but is prepared to diss.

“We started working with a really famous and totally established producer and it was a complete nightmare. He basically pocketed all our money and took three demos and screwed them up. He brought in musicians and did all the recordings without us and then handed us over versions of the songs, which we hated. He basically told us to take it or leave it.”

Entertainment ended up being recorded over a two-year period with Jeff Saltzman, who co-produced The Killers’ Hot Fuss.

“Jeff came in and was super-cool. We had one meeting with him and he was enthusiastic and ready to get to work. After two sessions we both knew it was a good fit.

“We’d never had a producer who’s worked with us from the beginning of the record to the end and it became apparent on Odyssey that this was something we could use.”

THE PLUG: Entertainment is out now

[As published in The Wire, issue 03, 11.06.09, The West Australian]

Nick Catchdubs: Obsessive compulsive

5 Jun
Nick Catchdubs

Nick Catchdubs

Brooklyn-based DJ/producer Nick Catchdubs is pretty fly for a white guy. Along with his buddy A-Trak, he founded Fool’s Gold, a record label that launched new music by LA Riots, Kid Sister and Kavinsky to the world.

For three years he was the Associate Editor of hip magazine, The Fader, and he used to hold a show called The Let Out on East Village Radio, where he hung out with (and remixed) M.I.A, Daniel Merriweather and Mark Ronson – who he did the Radio Radio mixtape with.

Nick Catchdubs, or as he’s sometimes referred to as “taste-making royalty who can break an act single-handedly”, is tomorrow night playing a bunch of his favourite tracks, blends and re-edits right here in Perth.

“I was always obsessed with music,” Catchdubs says enthusiastically. “I wrote tunes and played in bands all throughout high school and I dabbled in production and beatmaking while in college.

“The summer I graduated the light bulb finally went off that DJing was a way to touch on all the different stuff I was into at once, and not have to worry about whether or not my drummer was gonna show up.”

According to Catchdubs, his label Fool’s Gold is doing better than ever, despite tough economic times. “We have always operated separately from the music industry-at-large and have connected directly with our fans by putting out music that was true to us,” he says.

The label is just an extension of the many months Catchdubs and A-Trak spent sharing music and brainstorming on creative projects together. In the next few months they have a tonne of new releases including an exclusive from Sydney’s Bag Raiders.

Right now his favourite tunes to drop are You’re A Jerk by the New Boyz – a young rap group from LA; and the Duck Sauce EP – a soon to be released disco house collaboration between A-Trak and Armand Van Helden.

“I like to test stuff out and see what the crowd is going to be into. It could be all new electronic music or strictly hip hop, though the best nights for me is when I get to touch on a little bit of everything.”

THE PLUG: Nick Catchdubs plays The Manor on June 5.

[As published in The Wire in The West Australian. Issue 02, 04.06.09]

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