DMC World Magazine Interview
The Portuguese duo back with the perfect end of summer soundtrack… This has been a very busy year for Voxels, the Portuguese production duo who keeps bringing warm and summery house vibes to the forefront of today's electronic music scene. After releasing a few EPs and remixing the likes of Buraka Som Sisema, Pedro Chamorra and Pedro Pinto have now delivered the follow up to their acclaimed Enchufada debut - the smooth and sexy 'Nasty EP' released last March - by creating a two-track 120 bpm affair which oozes tropical warmth and bittersweet house nostalgia, making it the perfect end of summer soundtrack. Dan Prince speaks to the boys about their brand new 'Every Girl' two tracker...
The two Pedro's - welcome to DMCWORLD Magazine! Next week sees the release of your new 'Every Girl' EP through your Enchufada imprint. Talk us through the tracks on this gorgeous House late summer cut…
"The single "Every Girl" is a track that shows more of our "pop" side with it's catchy vocals and melody. It's reminiscent of the 90's french house scene in the way how the samples are cut with a radio-friendly structure for your hot summer needs. We were very inspired by DJ Mehdi's "Signatune" for this one so this is also some kind of "homage" to him...The next track "Mayday" is our most recent work and indicates the road we're taking in the future: deeper and slicker sounds, more detail but at the same time it has a simpler structure. We still try to get strange elements to create a unique ambiance, and for this one we chose the sirens as a dramatic element, almost like a desperate cry."
It is claimed that you two fit so perfectly together as Voxels because you share the same core values, an admiration of the dance classics of the 90s and a willingness to explore new sounds and use weird elements. So let's start this interview off by you explaining when you two first met and the idea of forming a band came about…
(Pedro Chamorra) "Well, we met about 5 years ago, I was living in Oporto at the time, managing a studio and I had a bunch of projects that weren't going nowhere, really. We met thru some common friends and starting hanging out a lot, always talking about new and old music and gear and such (girls). Pedro (Pinto) was playing a lot as a DJ back then and I was really into producing, and he was just getting into music making and I was giving him little tips and helping a bit with that. Things just evolved naturally from that, he kept getting better on the producing side, and I was a bit more focused, founding Voxels as a collaboration with some other people. At some point we had the opportunity to make a remix together, we gave it a shot and it worked quite nicely. I mean, it wasn't the greatest remix ever, but it was a nice start, we found out we shared a love for good sound and good music and after a while I invited him to be part of Voxels cause we share those core values. With time Voxels became mostly the two of us, but we've always been open to collaboration with other people, normally up and coming singers that we really like! It just became a complete dance-music marriage between us, it was a bit tough for us to get exactly on the same page, but we're getting there and both really happy with it. Our songs are our babies!"
You are renowned for creating music in your magical bunker utilising, let's say strange objects. Pan pipes and Cologne sausage cans spring to mind! What are some of the other unusual items you have used in the past to record your sounds…?
"Damn, we tried so much stupid shit in that studio…! Well, besides the obvious monster patches involving completely over the top analog synthesizers and crazy Russian fx units, we've tried stuff like table banging, horrible kids plastic flutes and using shoe boxes as snares. The funniest was doing a vocal-only moombathon track that we never released!"
Tell us about the basketball playing - how serious an option was this for you career wise?
"Although I (Pedro Pinto) played in the Portuguese Secondary Divisions for several teams so many years, it was never a professional option. There's no real money in it but mainly because I wasn't really that good to be a pro. I might join a team this year thou, just for fun."
Your live set is incredible - unpredictability is the key watching you two. For the readers who haven't had a chance to witness your stage show yet, talk us through your live performance...
"Well, we had a really grandiose plan of making a super tight video synched live show, but we really haven't found a way to do that without being just a "press-play-everything-is-synced" kind of thing. So we just opted to make a big unpredictable mess and do a improvisation live show. We have Ableton live running as a sampler with some building blocks quasi-randomly thrown into it, a couple of controllers, digital percussion, some synths, some analog effects and a mixer and we just go with it. No structure whatsoever. We would really like to do something super tight, like the Chemical Brothers or Simian Mobile Disco live, but at the same time we're really attracted to the improvisation / noisy kind of show of Fuck Buttons or such, so we're trying to be somewhere in the middle. We really don't know where it's going when it starts, and we almost don't speak to each other while doing it, so it's just an emotional thing going on…it can go anywhere between 90bpm to 140bpm and it barely resembles our releases, which if fine for us, cause it gives us all this space to get a groove going with the crowd, instead of being a stale-let's-just-repeat-the-formula kind of show."
What is the current top 10 you are spinning?
5kinAndBone5 & Robert Jeffrey - Penis Power
Zombie Disco Squad ft. DJ Funk - Twerk
Simian Mobile Disco - Put Your Hands Together
Midland - What We Know (Motor City Drum Ensemble Rmx)
Justin Jay - Femme Fatale
Julio Bashmore - Au Seve
Jimmy Edgar - U Need Love
Daphni - Yes I Know
BreaCh - You Won't Find Love Again
Duke Dumont - Street Walker
Your tunes have received heavy support form the likes of A-Trak and Crookers - who are the producers from around the world you are giving high fives to at the moment?
"Yeah, we were really surprised about that, we have been having great feedback from a lot of our tracks, which is nice. I mean, we're ambitious and and all, but we have that attitude of "we're just two guys doing music we like", so it's always great to get some feedback for such amazing artists and DJs. Well, lately, I think the biggest high fives, was the feedback from Johnny Jewel for the bootleg/remix we made for Chromatics - Into the Black (fat props to the man, for releasing the drumless version of the Chromatics LP, that was brilliant). It was completely unofficial and he just loved it and gave us his full support. And now with Matias Aguayo, who's gonna produce and release one of our new tracks on his Cómeme label. We're really happy about it, as we love his work and it's the first time someone is gonna produce one of our tracks, which kind of a dreamy House-Cumbia track! We're really excited about that one! And Crookers playing the Chromatics remix on their sets and on their Kiss FM (UK) radio show, that was great also."
Where have been the big Summer events for you in 2012?
"Well, we weren't playing this Summer, cause I (Pedro Chamorra) was moving back to Lisbon, so I was a bit off that one, but i got really impressed with the Tomorrowland Festival. The decoration is a little bit cheesy, but it was just so original and impressing. It was like a theme park for dance music lovers, I think it's an awesome idea!"
And what has been your summer anthem?
"I (Pedro Chamorra) wasn't really playing a lot, so I just chilled at home and in the studio listening to old disco-rock-funk-fusion records looking for samples, that was my summer soundtrack!
"I (Pedro Pinto) did go to lots of festivals this year, unfortunately not playing any of them...but I guess one track that's going to be remembered as an anthem for this year's summer is definitely Julio Bashmore's "Au Seve"."
Tell us about your studio set up - who brings what to the production process - who is great at what?
"That's a tricky question…The studio is always evolving, we have a few go-to pieces like the Moog Voyager and Moogerfoogers pedals, but I'm always changing gear with sales and trades and bargains at thrift shops, just trying to find brand-new-second-hand inspiring and esoteric gear, so it's kinda hard to pinpoint a studio set-up, whatever's at hand, really! As for the process, we both come up with a lot of ideas, together or by our own and then we just bounce things around until we're happy with them! We both play stuff, sample and arrange the music, but most of the time one of us comes with an idea, the other changes that idea and we just have a big discussion to where it's going and it just ends up in some place completely different. It's a fun way of working, but very messy and we get a bit stressed out at times, like when we end up making 5 completely different versions of a song or a remix. As for "fixed positions", Pedro Pinto is very much the researcher of new inspiration, he's always looking for new and old tracks to get us going and i'm always the guy who give the final touches and does the final mixdowns. But we rely a lot on each other ears to get to the end of the process…"
Away from dance music - who are the artists you are listening to at the moment?
PC: "I'm really into SBTRKT, James Blake and Artic Monkeys right now. They're all such amazing artists…"
PP: "I'm really out of date with non-dance music but I did see a couple of good rock/indie concerts this summer like Alt-J, Conan Mockasin or Riding Panico."
What is the record that changed your life?
PC: "I've listened to so much music that it's impossible to pinpoint just one so, a few of them:
Michael Jackson - Thriller
Art of Noise - Who's Afraid Of The Art Of Noise
Beatles - The White Album
Daft Punk - Homework
DJ Shadow - Endtroducing
Amon Tobim - Supermodified
The Avalanches - Since I Left You
Daft Punk - Discovery
James Blake - James Blake
...I could just go on and on with this list!"
PP: "Yeah, it's hard to name just one...But in terms of what I do today, definitely "Homework" by Daft Punk."
What is the strangest request you have ever had from a cluber whilst playing?
"Happy Birthday", a specific version by famous old school Portuguese tv personality António Sala. This was asked at 4am with a full dance floor. You probably don't know him, but it's this guy: antoniosala.jpg
What is the bravest thing you have ever done?
PC: "Trying to have a career in the music business."
PP: "Leaving my graphic design studio I owned to make music. After investing most of my life learning and working, I got really disappointed with that business."
What is the best thing your parents taught you?
PC: "It was not with words, but with actions: my father died stupidly when I was ten, so "try not to die"."
PP: "They always encouraged me to pursuit my dreams. On the other hand, that's probably the reason I'm 34 and broke."
It's not great for our image, but we really like...
And finally, what are the next plans production wise from you both?
PC: "For now we're just sticking with releasing a few singles and ep's in labels we really like, and do some remix work of songs we love, but eventually we'd like to make a proper Voxels album. Besides Voxels, I'm just starting a new record label with a few friends, called Tunacat Records, so that gives me the opportunity to work with a lot of new and exciting artists I'm really into, which makes me happy!"
PP: "Yeah, besides the Voxels stuff I would really like it if we got production jobs from other artists. I'm also releasing some tracks and remixes under my solo name Dupplo and a new EP for my other project Twin Turbo (not Tiga's label, the project I have with my twin brother), probably coming out on Chamorra's label Tunacat."
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