It’s all blue skies and beaches outside, but Anthony Middleton is not working on his tan. He’s just working. From a villa in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, the British half of Barcelona-based duo Audiofly filters through thousands of new emails and Facebook photo tags following their latest coveted events running parallel to the BPM festival this January. One of which, a secret (not-so-secret) jungle party, inhabited an extraordinary handmade temple within the grounds of an eco, creative community. Flanked by towering candles and every major underground artist of the moment, Audiofly got to do what they’re now doing best: deep and dark house music designed to make your soul sing. Middleton talks to Kellie Holt about the perfect party, their new label Maison D’Etre, and his son’s unfortunate taste for David Guetta.
Audiofly’s Flying Circus party on New Year’s Eve and the jungle party, were not part of the official BPM program this year, or in previous years. What is the reason for that? We tried to work with the guys but we’ve never managed to be able to make it fit. They have a huge team of labels, artists, and people who want to work with them. And they only have a certain amount of slots. Flying Circus is very much about open air where possible, and nature and the right environment and everything else. So we just couldn’t just find the right formula between them and us. They were offering us places like Kool Beach and we were like no, it just not us. So its not that we don’t want to, we’ve tried to find ways, both of us, in times past to make it work. But at the end of the day, the variety of BPM is super good. I think everyone is starting to realise that now. Flying Circus and a couple of other off-site events actually bring colour. And look at the Burning Man crew too, like Robot Heart. I think this year there was the right balance. I think last year was too Canadian-American. And, well, when I say Canadian-American I mean more Canadian quiet honestly. It was too orientated towards one set of people. And this year there was colour; there’s been some beautiful colour in all the people around this year you know. So even though we haven’t managed to work together yet, I’m not even sure it’s necessary to be quite honest with you, because I think its bringing really great things to the festival and probably creating a bigger effect.”
Can you tell me a bit about the history and idea behind the jungle party, which is now in its third year? “The place is called SacBe and the whole project is the work of this guy Memo - Guillermo Siliceo…a super enlightened Mexican gentleman…who essentially built a temple to celebrate music and dance…If you noticed, it kind of has the shape of an inverted ear. So it has been designed to resonate with the human body. We are the only people lucky enough to be able to do a party there once a year. We chose two local charities to donate all profits to: Angel Notion (which helps street kids and underprivileged in the area), and Casa de Arboles (which plants millions of trees all over the world).
The party attracted every major underground artist of the BPM festival (either doing a set or as a guest) – Jamie Jones, Art department, Lee Burridge to name a few. What do you think makes this event so special?
Oh my god, the energy is a totally different level! You just feel free. And you know everyone is connected. A lot of times you walk in to an event and there’s an expectation that you do something, whether it’s at night or 4am, you bang it out. Clubs and music are very much fuelled by image and categorising, and this is not about that. It’s about Dubfire playing with Shaun Reeve and so on. And that’s how it should be. Here everyone is just so receptive and open to music. It’s kind of got that old-skool spirit. Everybody is just functioning on a higher level. Everybody paid for their ticket and know they are contributing…and the artists are all playing for free so they’re not going in with their normal attitude, or wondering what’s going on, or what time they’re playing. They just want to get in there and contribute. And that’s what makes the party a celebration. Last year it was very intimate. This year was the epitome of the perfect party. But very much thanks to the BPM guys because without them doing all this stuff, there’s absolutely no way everybody would be in such a good mood to give for free, the hotels are paid for, they’ve done their gigs, they’re on holiday. So everyone contributes, including BPM.
So clearly you’re not short of talent for the night. What is the trick to selecting the best line-up? Its super difficult. Damian (Lazarus), Philipp (Jung), Davide (Squillace) Luca and myself, we all started it three years ago, so there’ a family element in there definitely. There’s a huge Barcelona crew going on in there too. Every year we try and include people who always ask. But it’s really important to make sure nobody is playing for like 30 mins or so. We want everyone who plays to have a chance to just really let go. We try and get everyone to play a little differently too. I always say, 'listen, you’re playing in the jungle, imagine you could play anything creatively. You can play all those records you always wanted to play but couldn’t fit in your set, or because its too deep or too fucked up…play it!' So it’s an opportunity. And at the end of the day everyone just wants to play. And that’s why we love our jobs.
We started the day with a live guitar and vocal performance. Super mellow and chilled. Then Damian came on and did one of his super strange sunset sets. Not beat-ty at all. Then we just moved it up from there: Mr C, us, Davide, Dubfire. And it was a great way to move in to the night. It was a story, with a beginning, middle and end.
What do you make of this distinction between ‘underground’ and ‘commercial’ electronic music? In reality, can underground artists still stay true to their sound and also become commercial ie they are making a lot more money from it, and more people more know about them? I feel that, on a basic level, one leads to another and actually you know what, the other one can also lead in the other direction. I mean there’s several dance tracks in the past that have been great in their own successes and then have just become pop because they are such a good track.
My kid is 16 and he really likes David Guetta unfortunately. But what it has done is really opened his doors to the beats. Since he discovered David Guetta even in the last year and half, he’s got deeper, slowly. It’s a bit like when you drink wine when you’re young. You don’t care what it is, you just drink it. And then slowly you start to develop what you like. Like that, it’s a gateway.
And it’s all about attitude, and what bothers me massively is the attitude of pop music, which is very fake and plastic…we’re not interested in any of that. We made our choice. We don’t want to be that way. But at the end of the day, music is music; it’s just the mind and the heart behind it which is important. And I think people love underground music because they know artists are putting their heart into everything they write and everything they make. And that’s the difference with pop music. You can feel its manufactured and you can feel that it doesn’t make your soul sing in the same way.I mean it is about independence really isn’t it. Underground is just about independence, and people not wanting to do what they are told.”
You and Luca Saporito have been together as a duo for over 10 years now, but you only released Audiofly’s debut album, ‘Follow My Liebe’, in mid-2011. What was the reason for this timing? We actually did one whole album a few years before that. But when we finished it, we sat down by a pool in Acapulco and listened to it, got about 20 mins in and just went nah, there’s no flow, this is not an album its just a collection of records. So we just sold all the records off to different places and started again. And we were finally happy second time round. Essentially the problem is you’re on the road all the time and you lose your flow, or lose your connection to what you trying to say in a bigger piece. It’s not like when you just do one track, and you can just go there, do two days with no sleep, then you’re done and then you can just carry on back to normal. But when you do an EP or an album, you kind of trying to create a flow, a concept, and a story, it’s a long mental process as well as a physical process, and actually a lot of just having faith in yourself. And I guess the first album we just didn’t have faith in ourselves maybe.
Ten years is a long time in music, particularly house music. How has your style developed over the years? It’s changed a lot. We were kind of doing an electro sound in the beginning, actually it wasn’t really electro, more a house and electronic, and then minimal came a long and all of a sudden we weren’t playing the right music anymore. Everybody was like, it’s all about minimal. Then minimal left and melody came back again and it was like ‘oh, you guys are cool again’. We’re just doing our thing. Musically we pay attention to what everyone is doing, and we pay attention to the scene, but we just continue to do our thing. But that thing is constantly evolving all the time. We’ve been through several phases, but it’s all actually the same thing. Its just the people who pigeon-hole, not the artists.
Ten years is even longer in a partnership. You must have gone through a lot of changes and growth. What has kept you together as a duo? Oh my god yeah, we’ve both grown a lot…we’ve got a very long, old relationship together, and we’ve been through it all. And I think that’s one of the reasons we are still able to be together. There are all these duos in the industry and they are very hard work. I mean Deep Dish, anyone you look at, there’s always a point where everyone has a difference of perspective on where they want to go, of what the direction should be and what the right move is and the other one might not think the same. But because Luca and I are very much brothers, we are able to check ourselves in those last moments where everything could go really bad, because we know we’re family and we never take it too far.
You and Luca have very different personalities. How does this affect the working dynamic of Audiofly? Every studio needs one engineer. It doesn’t need two. In fact it becomes a bit of a mess. Luca is excellent at reaching out and communicating to people, fearlessly, and I’m very quiet. It’s really good. it really helps there’s somebody really fiery and there’s somebody who is really calm. I can do 12 hours of engineering and still be good and then Luca will come in and inspire with his energy and that’s how it kind of works.
You recently started a new label, Maison D’Etre, alongside your now 3-year old label ‘Supernature’. How do the two fit with what Audiofly wants to achieve musically? Supernature started because we were meeting amazing people on our travels and we kind of needed an outlet for all the music they were giving us. Maison D’Etre is a direct response to how the music industry right now is getting very disco and soft, and everything else. The Maison sound is more 4am…its deeper, darker, with melancholy and emotion in music. We’ve only done two releases and we’re just about to do the third release now. It’s brand new. We’ve been wanting to get the label up and running last year but obviously our main focus was Supernature…and getting these events over for the New Year, and now this year we are really going to start in earnest to develop the Maison sound.
With two labels, recording, travelling and your global events brand, Flying Circus, how is 2012 shaping up for Audiofly? This year we’re going to focus a lot on Flying Circus and building up Maison. And that’s about it really. We’re not going to release any more albums maybe until next year. Just a lot of singles and remixes and getting back to the music.”