Henry Johnstone, Sydney - Australia - on 27/8/12
Sydney based DJ and producer Shivers* has recorded an exclusive mix for Pulse. To accompany, we have a chinwag with the man whose Ma calls him Timothy to find out all the who, what and whys that have have shaped the artist he is today, as well as the lowdown on his recent 'Strangers In the Dark EP', which has been pricking the ears of DJs like Kiki, Fur Coat, Deetron and DJ Sneak. Along the way we also discover that he's a bit of a hippy at heart.
Pulse: Tell us about how you came to discover electronic music. SHIVERS*: So I came to discover electronic music almost twenty years ago, I was going to school in London and an older friend invited me to what I naively thought was some kind of dance. Well it wasn't - it was a warehouse party and I was blown away… my eyes had opened and my mind felt as if it was exploding in some kind of wild sensory overload! It sounds cliche, but I experienced something that had a profound, life changing effect on me and my will was galvanised from that moment, this was everything I wanted.
Was it your first love as a teen or were you into other types of music? Up to that point, I was pretty much like any other kid in the late 80's and 90's, I lived for hip hop and thought I was a hustler. NWA, De La Soul, Public Enemy and Ice T was my thing and being obsessed with hip hop and that culture lead me to the discovery of the original records that these crews where sampling. So eventually disco, funk, soul 70's and 80's rock, some punk and loads of dub, ska and reggae all became part of my musical palate and I began collecting records in a pretty serious way in the early 90's. I literally ran out of room in 2004 so had to stop my crazed collecting, but I still love listen to really always vibe on diverse styles of music.
When and how did you start DJing? Well after that first experience with the warehouse party scene, that whole phenomenon kind of took over my life, it totally became my focus. I didn't care about school and pretty much thought I would be fifteen forever, so I completely immersed myself in the culture, the people, the clothes, the warehouse sound and the records! Around the same time my parents split up and we left London and I found myself in Sydney (where I was born but had never lived) reeling from a massive culture shock! I eventually picked myself up out of that funk, met some of my best friends and got involved in the rave scene here and began to fixate on learning to DJ...but I still didn't own Technics! So with a little help with my Ma, I bought my first pair of direct drive turntables in 1993 and have been working pretty much as a career DJ since then.
The DJing came before the producing then, yes? I was a DJ for more than ten years before I seriously considered production. To be fair, for most of the 90's vinyl still ruled supreme in clubs and dance music production was still quite specialised and good equipment cost big $$$'s! So I was waaaay to obsessed with collecting records and Djing to seriously consider production.
So when did you start making beats? I had been dabblin' and experimenting with my mates on clunky Amiga's and Atari's for years, then at University I had my first experiences with proper DAW's and was pretty excited by that. Not long after I finished studying, I was asked to do a remix of an Arrested Development's track for a local remix package, that was roughly eight years ago. Been working under a few names and aliases over the time, but right now I am writing music for love and not for money and that feels pretty incredible!
Which producers inspire the style of house you create? Well it is often said in interviews, but my sound is truly amalgamation of my past. Of course I am affected by contemporary influences and sounds, but I am mostly inspired by my own personal and musical history, rather than by a specific group of producers past or present.
Fill us in on how your ‘Strangers In the Dark EP’ came to be picked up by the German label Mother Recordings? I have know the team behind MOTHER since 2009 when I toured Europe as part of another production outfit. On that tour Nhan (now Mother) helped us out with some fantastic shows in Berlin and across Germany and we have remained in contact as friends since then. Before I had even heard that the Mother label was launching, I sent 'Love Falls' across to Nhan to get his feedback and he came back telling me about his new label and wanted to sign me immediately! It was a perfect coincidence, and I am so happy to have my first EP with them, I love the guys and the team is crazy talented and have a fantastic vision of the future.
Both tracks from the EP 'Love Falls' and 'Strangers' were written someways back and then in January this year refined into the EP as it was released. The response has been incredible with the likes of Kiki, Fur Coat, Deetron, DJ Sneak, Gregor Treshor and other heavyhitters supporting it.
How would you describe your sound? It is basically house music. It often verges into the deep and techy spectrum, but always retains a disco feel or some kind of nostalgic influence, this is expressed in my choice of sample, vocals, bass, synths, FX or drums. Old habits die hard with me; house music was my obsession since the early 90's, I have seen it change a lot, but it is what I have always loved and always been playing in some form or another. House is quite fashionable again right now - so I guess its a good time to be a house music producer!
What’s the story with your bio? Are you sick of reading the same old DJ bios where people wax on about how they’ve been playing piano since they were 3 yrs old, or are you actually a bit of a tripper? Yes I am certainly a dreamer, a hippie at heart and I guess...a tripper ( in your words!). I am a firm believer in 'each to their own' mantra, but agree that most DJ bios tend to be full of cliches and repetition. At the risk of sounding like one - Shivers* is intended as something pure and I would prefer to be represented by my output, rather than tired marketing spin.
What do you love about the Sydney clubbing scene? Right now, it feels like it is a wicked, vibrant place and there seems to be a real resurgence around the house music and the warehouse phenomenon. It is totally inspiring to see crews and clubs promoting cultures and parties in interesting ways that don't purely revolve around money.
What do you dislike about the Sydney clubbing scene? Well I am usually an eternal positivist, but I am also honest so for me it is dodgy f**king promoters that don't pay their bills!
Can you tell us a little bit about the mix you produced for Pulse? How did you approach it? I was excited to undertake a new mix and I crafted it with vast amounts of love to represent Shivers*. It covers the lighter shades and the deeper undertones that make up my musical persona and shares a lil' snapshot of the sounds are inspiring me right now. It is made with a listening environment in mind, rather than the club or dancefloor. There are some exclusives from the Mother, Niem and Mexa in there to enjoy!
Vinyl, CDs or mp3s? I play all three, but wax is too heavy to travel with (unless you are Sven Vath) and I don't feel good burning 20 CDs a week, so mostly it's mp3s, or WAVS these days.
Name 3 of your all time fave tracks. Impossible question! There are just too many incredible amazing songs, across too many styles to choose just three. I always say no to these questions in interviews, but we have history so I will share my spur of the moment pick for today.
Marvin Gaye - 'Funky Space Reincarnation'
De La Soul - 'Eye Know'
The Fog - 'Been A Long Time'
What does the rest of 2012 and beyond hold for Shivers*? Well its been a crazy year in all areas of my life, but positive crazy rather than negative crazy if that makes sense. Production wise, I have just signed my new track called 'Let It Play' to a UK label Runnin Wild - the ace new imprint from BUBBA and Chris James. These guys are both fantastic producers, tastemakers and pals, so I am excited to be on board with them for this release. My second EP is basically finished, right now I am pretty happy with the three tracks that I have, but I am a total perfectionist, so ask me tomorrow and it may be a different story! I am negotiating with some fantastic labels at present and hope to have the release out before the end of 2012. Oh and hopefully I get to visit the zoo!
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