Onirik, DJ, Producer and manager of not just one but two record labels, Serialism and Mean is a busy young man. He took time out of his schedule to chat to Pulse's Ellie Hewitt about being a gansta, being patient, some seriously trippy dreamy atmospheres when he was in India and his partnership with Cesare Marchese.
You’ve got a new EP coming out, ‘Broken’, what were the influences for the release? I'm sure I'm forgetting someone but mainly I would say Boards of Canada, Delano Smith, Dj Qu, Jus Ed, Omar-S, Patrice Scott, Moodymann, Fred P, Rick Wade, Villalobos, Mountain People, Audio Werner, Cesare vs Disorder, Arpiar, Pablo Tarno, Daze Maxim, Cristopher Rau and more generally the sound of labels like Underground Quality and Perlon.
One of the tracks is called ‘Gangsta Patience’, how long did you spend working on this release and are you a patient man? This release is a bit of a mosaic...I started making beats 2 years ago and Broken is one of the very first tracks I've done. Cesare loved it straight away and signed it. After that it's been a really weird journey until the Ep was ready. Broken was my beginner's luck. It did haunt me a little bit. At that point, being at the very early stages of production knowledge and also being self taught meant that every track I did after that was very different in sound and style and quality. I had very incoherent results. I got very frustrated from time to time. In the end it was a good thing to wait. I'm still a beginner in many areas, there's so much to know, it never ends. Two years are nothing. I also still haven't got a proper home studio. The tracks of this Ep have all been done in very different moments and places. I'm really craving the moment I'm gonna be able to sit down in my own comfortable creative space with the right equipment and shut the door/phone for 3,4 days. I really can't wait for that moment. One of the good things until now of having moved to Berlin is that I could use Cesare's studio to do the final mixdown, sit down with him, work on our track and finish the EP. In London things were really dragging. I can be very patient and also extremely impatient. I'm a bit of a contradiction. Gangsta Patience is named after the sampled speech from Boardwalk Empire.......gangsta!
It says that you enjoy creating ‘trippy and dreamy’ atmospheres, where and when was the last time you felt you were in a truly dreamy atmosphere? It was in Danushkodi (India) in January, on the south east coast, near Rameshwaram. I was walking on a strip of sand that ends up almost connecting India with Sri Lanka...They say you can see Sri Lanka when you get to the tip. Indian tourists usually stack themselves on a truck to reach it. I wanted to walk. The atmosphere was really something from another world, the strip of beach keeps getting narrower, sea on both sides, you keep walking and walking, giant butterflies overtaking you, the last glimpses of civilization being an abandoned church and a fisherman's village lying among the ruins of an old train station destroyed by a tsunami in the 60s... It's definitely the most remote place I've ever been. Magic.
There's actually a much more detailed and funny version of this story, maybe one day I'll put it up on the internet. Almost everyone I sent it to were like.."stop the music Fede"...great, thanks guys...hahahaha.
You studied at the school of African and Oriental studies, tell us about the course and how has it influenced your life? I did an MA in international studies & diplomacy there. SOAS is a great environment to be studying in and the course was interesting but deep down I kinda knew I wanted to go in a different direction afterwards. I started deejaying in Brussels while I was doing my BA and that's all I was thinking about, obsessed with it. All my money went on records. I would get out of bed and turn on the turntables without even washing my face or eating, playing for hours in boxers for the "joy" of my flatmate and neighbour. I can say university has influenced the way I look at global politics, probably creating a more cynical version of myself, that's for sure.
You’ve lived in several cities, Brussels, London and now you’re in Berlin, do you feel like you’ve settled down for now? I think I will stay in Berlin for a while... London was the kick in the face I needed after almost sinking in heavy Brussels lazyness. Berlin is the laidbackness I needed after spinning for five years in London's hecticness. I must say Berlin reminds me a bit of Brussels, the city where I grew up, with its many trees bordering streets...But it's also very very different. Anyway, I just moved here 2 months ago so don't want to get too much into comparisons. I don't think I'll be living in Europe all my life. I'm not sure how and when but someday I might sail towards Asia/South East Asia. We need more mystery in our life...Can't find much of it in Europe anymore. I don't like to call it spirituality, mystery is fine.
Where are your favourite record shops and what records have you recently bought? Doctor Vinyl in Brussels. Phonica Records in London and the many second hand exchange shops in Soho. Space Hall, Rotation and Hard Wax in Berlin and Discogs online. Recently I've bought the repress of the second Main Street 12" (Basic Channel), the Stablo 9995 and Panash (Jackson & Pepe Bradock) on Atavisme but still haven't put my hands on it because I was travelling a lot in the last month before leaving London so the guy tried to send it twice but I never got it...actually, I need to email him haha.
You manage both Serialism Records and Mean Records, what are the differences between the labels? Serialism has more of a housy and dancefloor edge. MEAN has a more experimental and dark side.
Both imprints you run with Cesare Marchese, what’s it like working with him and what are you aims for the music you release on it? At the moment logistically we complement each other pretty well, he's touring a lot while I'm positively stuck in Berlin. Another reason of the move to Berlin was that I thought that we needed to see each other more often since his tour schedule had got busier and busier...email was not good enough anymore. It's quite inspiring working with Cesare, he has a wide range of musical taste so we can really have fun imagining different scenarios for the labels. He also made me become a more hard working person towards my passion and being around him or in contact with him pushed me a lot and gave me confidence at times when I wasn't so sure about some things. Music wise I think we can safely say that the recent releases on Serialism all have their very unique sound, not really bandwagoning trends, keepin it deep on the dancefloor but in an interesting way. MEAN is about keepin it weird and completely free.
In my opinion, your productions aren’t dance floor stompers but have a different vibe, what would you say your intentions are with your sound? At the moment my only intention is to release music that I feel completely comfortable about, without really applying a formula or following a "pre-established" direction. When I start a track I have no clue what I want to do or where I want to go with it, for which label etc...I do have a certain set of sounds that I dig and that influences my direction but I want to keep it as instinctive as possible. I'm not so much of a dancefloor stomper guy, also as a dj, I like closing sets, morning sets, long sets where you can really build up slowly, working on the long run in an hypnotic way rather than smashing it out in the peaktime hours. Right now I'm really into the deep trippy atmospheric raw loopy sound. Since I arrived in London I really sunk heavily into house and since then I've been really fascinated by repetition in dance music more than before. It happened at the same time I started to listen a lot of 60s/70s funk/soul/jazz. it 's kind of a logical combination. If I have a good groove, jazzy/funky hats, warm rhodes chords...I can listen to the same loop for hours. It's like Rick Wade said in an interview I read a while ago...there's something about the combination of certain sounds (talkin about the Rhodes and a fat drum machine groove) that just makes it so timeless you can't resist. I can understand some people have been really fed up with the deep house revival if they were already into it in the 90s, but for me it's been really great to discover gems from the past and develop my own direction. As a dj right now my sets are more flowing or "flat" than before, more consistent in genre...Again...maybe more boring for a certain public. Interesting loopyness is a virus, you need to get it first, it's not automatic. Four or five years ago I would have valued more quick variations in transitions and selection. I would play a set with electro-house (when it was still good...), minimal, electrotechno, detroit electro, disco, not really building it up slowly but more jumping around, which can be good as well if well done. But right now I'm hooked on a few specific sounds/feelings and that's what I want to play/make.
start selling tickets with ease
start sharing your music for free