Imagine the most soothing melody paired with hyper-satisfying visuals calming enough to make you forget that 2020 still has 5 more months. With credit to Spanish artist, producer, multi-instrumentalist, sculpture, jack of all trades, Bichopalo, the aforementioned really exists. With the help of his two birds, Pico and Verdi, Bichopalo creates trance-inducing melodies that incorporate synthesizers, various percussions, spiralling water, marbles, a toaster(?!), and lots of nature that are just as much of a treat for the eyes as they are the ears. We caught up with Bichopalo to learn about how he came to create such works of art and if we can get our hands on his awe-inspiring musical sculptures.
Electric Soul: Tell us about your musical beginnings.
Bichopalo: As a kid, I always had instruments around. My father had a drum set in the house, so I started to play drums from a very early age. Drumming has become second nature for me. Throughout my life, I´ve been in contact with different musicians and every genre of music, but it’s only in the last 3 years that I became completely obsessed with electronic music and synthesizers. I got my very first little synth a couple of years ago (a Volca Keys from Korg) and I was fascinated with the enormous potential of this instrument and how this little thing can inspire such creativity. I needed to understand everything about how this synth worked and that was the beginning of everything.
ES: You’ve been called a musical sculptor. Is this how you describe yourself?
B: Personally, it´s very important that the music I write has a visual aspect so you can have a complete experience. If you hear a cello, it’s nice, but when you see the musician playing it and you see how the cello is vibrating and shaking, that’s a completely different thing. I consider all instruments pieces of art. They are beautiful. So, when I write music, I make it about how the instrument is actually playing the song. There is so much to explore and sometimes how it plays defines how the music should sound. So yes, “musical sculptor” would describe me quite accurately.
ES: Initial reactions to your instruments and pieces are “holy, that’s so soothing, but what is it?”. How would you explain your creations?
B: I don’t know. I just follow my intuition and create the things I would love to see and hear. Maybe trying to give an explanation of any instrument is irrelevant. I make the things that come out from the gut with no particular logic. I create just for the joy of creating. You know when you have this voice that says that you have to make something, regardless of time or resources, there’s just no option, you have to do it? Having that intuition and then seeing that the fantasy is tangible and functional is one of the most satisfying experiences ever.
ES: How long do you spend on a musical sculpture?
B: It really depends on the complexity of each piece. For the “Plantyflutesizer”, the last piece I created, took a year.
ES: How can someone get their hands on a Bichopalo instrument?
B: I’ve received a lot of questions asking me if I sell my instruments. For now, all the instruments I create are just beta versions, but I’m working to create simplified, yet robust and solid versions for any person interested in getting one.
ES: Is the visual just as important as the audio for you?
B: The visual part is important to me as accompanies the music creating a complete and unique experience of what you are listening to. But the visual is not the most important part. You can hear the radio and listen to music and feel transported to other places, but if you try to watch TV without sound, it just doesn’t make sense. Visuals help the listener become more interested and focused on what is being heard. These days, people are always in a rush with so many inputs coming from everywhere. So, if you want people to give the amount of attention that your music requires, you need an extra element. In my case, that’s where the visuals serve their purpose.
ES: You do some outdoor sound recording. What do you collect these sounds for?
B: I love having outdoor sessions and hunting sounds. You always stumble upon happy accidents, interesting textures, and flavours in nature that you would never be able to create in a digital way. All these textures are so incredibly useful. You can create all types of percussion, snares, pads, or melodic instruments to incorporate into your process. You can use your default library samples of your DAW and it’s totally fine, but using your own sounds is way more fun and helps to create a more personal sound, bringing it to another level, I think.
ES: It seems that the true stars of the show are your birds, Pico and Verdi. How important are they to your creative process?
B: There’s no doubt about that. They are rockstars. I always have been surrounded by animals, but in the last years, these little fellas appeared in my life. I never had birds before and I´m so amazed at the love that these little animals are able to give. Even though they are so small, for me, they are like real people. They have such strong personalities. I love making them part of my videos because they are always around me. They are really special creatures, and in a way, they have been on this path with me and I wanted to share their existence with the rest of the world. My pieces would not be the same without them, for sure.
ES: Where do you pull your inspiration from? Are there other musicians or artists you look to?
B: I listen to all kinds of music from Pantera and Napalm Death and Dream Theatre to King Crimson, the Beatles, Chick Corea, Daft Punk, Rosalia, and Bjork. I love when talented people from any genre try to do their best and push themselves to achieve the highest expectations. When I hear their music I always learn something. You always take a little something from here and there. On my RSS feed, I follow a lot of young artists that I think are incredibly talented, not only musically but intellectually as well, sharing their process and motivating emerging artists. An example of this would be the great artist, Andrew Huang or the genius LookMumNoComputer. Both are incredible artists and composers but also love to spread their knowledge and experience in their fields. In a musical level, I don’t have a particular reference when I write my music. It normally happens accidentally when I’m cleaning the dishes or the classic moment in the shower when a melody comes up and needs to be written down before it disappears! Visually, I do feel highly influenced by the master Marcel Duchamp and all his incredible collages, and of course, NATURE!
ES: How do you know when a piece is finished?
B: When I feel there is nothing more to take away.
ES: Do you ever plan to do live performances?
B: Sure! I’m currently finishing my very first album and as soon as it’s ready I would love to share it with people in different formats, one of them being live shows.
ES: What can we expect from Bichopalo in the future? B: More music for sure!
Too cool to limit his vibe to just one place, Mr. Ho hops between Hong Kong and Europe spinning hedonistic tracks. He’s both a record collector and record label owner that likes to keep things authentic and DIY when it comes to his shows and the biz. We caught up with him to chat about music scenes in different cities, how his label, Klasse Wrecks, came to be, and what we can expect from him in 2020.
Electric Soul is giving away 2 tickets for 3 winners to his upcoming show on March 21st! Keep checking back into our Instagram to win!
Electric Soul: You’ve been around the block in terms of DJing. With 15+ years under your belt, tell us about your musical career up until this point.
Mr. Ho: I’ve travelled around quite a bit for djing. I’ve released some records. I’ve met many like-minded and inspiring individuals, some of whom I can call my friends. There have been times I’ve gotten bored with what I do, but then something happens that brings back the excitement.
ES: You’re currently based in Hong Kong. What other cities would you call home and how do their music scenes differ from Hong Kong’s?
MH: Right now, I would only call Hong Kong my home. I used to live in Berlin, and electronic music brings about 50,000 people to the city to party every weekend, and around 1.5 billion EUR to the city a year. There is an electronic music industry in Berlin, and it is a significant part of the city’s economy. That’s just not the case in Hong Kong.
ES: You’re a bit of a record collector. Tell us what got you started and how many records you’ve collected to date. What is your most prized record?
MH: I started buying records because a significant portion of the music I liked was only available in that format and I also liked how the artwork was presented on the record sleeve. Currently, there are probably 2000+ records in my collection and I’m attached to about 1500 of them.
ES: Who is Mr. Ho as a DJ? How would you describe your sound?
MH: I’ve been called a “physical DJ” by my Japanese DJ friends. I like that. I would describe my sound as physical, sleazy, fun, and hedonistic.
ES: What is your favourite kind of crowd to play to?
MH: A good openminded crowd that likes what I play.
ES: What is your favourite show you’ve played? Where and why?
MH: Too many to mention! I’ve been lucky enough to have had more good gigs than bad. I do enjoy my residencies at Mihn in Hong Kong and Ohm in Berlin. I feel familiar there and it allows me to try new things out and develop my sound.
ES: You also are co-founder of Klasse Wrecks. Tell us about your record label and how it all began?
MH: Klasse Wrecks is an electronic music label that predominantly releases music aimed for the dancefloor. Our approach and aesthetic are somewhat DIY because we both have a background in the pre-big industry skateboarding and hip hop culture. The label started with my friend and partner Lucas Hunter a.k.a. Luca Lozano. We were both doing different music projects in a different scene which we no longer enjoyed. Luca had the idea to do a label (we used to be called Klasse Recordings) which could be home to our current projects. He asked me to come on board in the beginning and here we are- almost ten years later.
ES: What do you look for in a Klasse Wrecks artist?
MH: It’s difficult to answer specifically, we just have to like the tracks, the person who made it, and feel that we can be the best home to their music.
ES: What has owning a record label taught you about the music industry?
MH: It taught me that basic good business practices apply to the music business too. It’s important to do your accounting, chase up on your invoices, pay your people – just like any other business.
ES: What does Mr. Ho have planned for 2020?
MH: More time in the studio, so more original music released. Also developing more products for Klasse Wrecks. A bit less travelling for DJ gigs.
Dutch duo, Zonderling, is in its own category of electronic music. Comprised of producer Martijn van Sonderen and DJ Jaap de Vries, the two have produced countless tracks full of eccentric beats and otherworldly sounds. With a radio show and impressive collaborations under their belts, Zonderling shows no signs of slowing down now. We caught up with them to talk shop and see what the future hold for them.
Electric Soul: Tell us about your musical beginnings? How did you come together as a duo?
Zonderling: We met in our hometown Groningen, the Netherlands. Jaap was already DJing for some years and worked in the music industry. Martijn was active as a producer for many years.
ES: Your music is described as being its own kind of dance music. If you were to describe the music you make, without referring to other genres, what would you say?
Z: Electronic music with a lot of (unnecessary) detail.
ES: Are there artists or musicians you look to for inspiration?
Z: Not really. We do like a lot of artists of course, but for us, anything can spark an idea.
ES: Zone Radio is a new endeavour you guys embarked upon last year and you just released the first episode of season 2. What are your reasons behind creating this show and what is it you want to achieve with it?
Z: It’s a nice way for us to play music we normally don’t get to present during shows. Plus, it feels good to give artists we like, big or small, a platform.
ES: When it comes to music selection, what are you looking for? Is the show in tune with your particular likes?
Z: Absolutely, we do the selection ourselves without any restrictions and put in there whatever we feel like, just as long as it fits the Zonderling spectrum.
ES: 2019 was full of new releases and festival appearances. What are your highlights from last year?
Z: Probably our releases “I Do” and “Spotlight”. But, our song “Imaginary” is perhaps our personal favourite. We’re very happy with how that song turned out and the vibe it has.
ES: Already in 2020, you’ve released a collaboration with NØ SIGNE. Tell us what it was like working with him and how this creative partnership came to be.
Z: We got in touch online via social media. We liked a song he did and his productions stood out. He sent us an idea and we liked it. The song came together pretty quick and “Clouds” is what you hear today. Make sure to follow his career, talented guy.
ES: What can we expect from Zonderling this year? What are you most excited about?
Z: Lot’s of touring as always but we’re most excited about all the new music we have lined up, there’s more than ever. Keep an eye out.
Playlists in need of a little pick-me-up? Check out our latest interview with Dazzle Drums and add a little upbeat groove to your life.
High school best friends, Cameron and Andrew, alternatively known as Bad Decisions are taking over Australia and the world with their unique blend of trap, future, and pop. The DJ/producer duo just dropped their brand new single “Looking For You”. We caught up with them to find out how the Australian scene has shaped them and what it was like to drop a single on an international radio show.
Electric Soul: You both have different musical backgrounds. Can you tell us a little about them and how you came together as a duo?
Bad Decisions: We met in high school near Sydney and were the only “DJs” in the school at the time, so we decided to suss each other out. It resulted in many sleepless nights producing music together. Trying to figure out what we were doing led to us becoming best mates!
ES: How has the Australian scene shaped your sound or your careers?
BD: Hugely! Flume, What So Not, and Alison Wonderland all played huge parts in inspiring us to push our sound to make more interesting things. All legends.
ES: Is there a big underground scene? Do you guys have favourite spots to find killer music?
BD: There’s a great underground scene in Australia. Clubs like Chinese Laundry and events like The Wall in Sydney have been crucial in pushing new sounds and bringing new producers up in the scene. Finding music is a whole other thing. 90% of the time we use Soundcloud.
ES: You’ve found yourself on both national and international stages. What was your favourite performance to date and why?
BD: Going on our own national tour was amazing: seeing people react to the music we made and them knowing the lyrics. There’s no better feeling than that. We loved playing Groovin’ The Moo festival. We had so many people came out to see us and just go so hard the entire time.
ES: Does your DJ sound and music selection differ from the music you produce? Describe your sound for us.
BD: Depending on the vibe of the festival, we play a little bit harder than we produce. But then again, we have songs like “I Feel It” which is pretty hard. It depends on how we feel on the day!
Our sound is a mix of future, trap and pop. We try to be as experimental as we can while still having as much listenability as possible.
ES: Can you tell us a little bit about the live setup you guys have in the works?
BD: We’re working on a hybrid live show. Think of San Holo-esque and how The Chainsmokers do it. All we can say for now is when it does come to light, it will be a unique experience for people coming to our shows.
ES: Your new single “Looking for You” just premiered on Annie Nightingale’s BBC Radio I show. What was it like dropping a new release on an international level like that?
BD: It’s an incredible feeling being recognized on such a scale. It’s sometimes hard to grasp something like that, something that’s intangible. You can’t see it in the way you see a crowd when you play a show.
But hearing it live will be a moment we won’t forget any time soon.
ES: You have a few other guest appearances on various radio shows, including Tiger Radio, coming up. How do you work collaboratively selecting songs and finding your sound for different shows and audiences?
BD: We can definitely get a vibe of what the show is through knowing the artist and understanding who they are. For example, with the BBC mix, that is wholeheartedly us, from start to finish, it was stuff that resonates with us completely. With other mixes, we may go a little harder or a little softer depending on the audience. It’s all us, all the stuff we love, but it may swing a different way depending on the audience. We do work collaboratively on everything we do.
ES: What has it been like working with various labels? What have you discovered about yourselves and your music while navigating the music industry?
BD: Working with different labels, for the most part, has been an awesome experience. We’ve grown a lot since we started in the music industry. Being so young, you can get taken advantage of in different ways. Something we’ve learned is that you have to be aware of everything around the music to fully understand everything and not be taken advantage of. Originally, we weren’t very aware, so we had to change that.
ES: What can we look forward to from Bad Decisions in 2020?
BD: LOTS of music. Way more than ever before. So we hope everyone’s ready to get blasted this year with new music.
Duos are the new boy band. Get to know Tokyo-based duo Dazzle Drums.
Nagi and Kei Sugano, more effectively known as Dazzle Drums, are a Tokyo-based DJ and producer duo with proficiency for making catchy beats with danceable tempos and groovy melodies. The couple has made their rounds in the Tokyo electronic scene and is now making their way around the world, playing at festivals and in cities across Europe. We caught up with Dazzle Drums to talk about how they work collaboratively, if they’ve noticed changes in their music since they began, and how they feel about the electronic industry.
Electric Soul: You both come from different musical backgrounds. Kei, yours seeming to be more rooted in hip-hop and Nagi, yours in dance. How do you work collaboratively? Is it an easy process to work together or does someone focus on one aspect while the other focuses on something else?
Dazzle Drums: Of course we have different personalities, interpretations and perspectives. To turn that difference into a positive, we’re always talking about music, even small things. Luckily, it’s not really difficult to understand each other because we are DJing together almost every week. It’s harder working in the studio together than it is DJing. We create balance by changing roles and tasks depending on projects.
ES: How does the music you DJ differ from the music that you produce in terms of sound?
DD: For DJing, it totally depends on the improvisation, the atmosphere and location of the day. But we do get some edits/production ideas from performing. So, there is a synergy between both playing and making music.
ES: Your tracks have been played by a number of illustrious DJs, including Tim Sweeney, Louie Vega, and DJ Nori, during their sets. Which DJ were you most excited about playing one of your tracks?
DD: We were glad they all played our music. It’s a really difficult question. However, if we pick a few… Danny Krivit, Gilles Peterson and Louie Vega. We always get huge motivation from them.
ES: It’s been 15 years since the start of Dazzle Drums, in what ways has your sound evolved?
DD: In the beginning, we were making music with analog equipment like AKAI sampler and Juno106 (we used to have Cubase for DAW). Right now, we are making music with both Ableton Live and Logic. As for our musical expression, our tastes haven’t really changed. But we have definitely upgraded in terms of knowledge and experience, including technological evolution.
ES: Where do you two draw inspiration from? Is there a particular artist, genre, or city that you are influenced by?
DD: We often get inspiration from DJs and parties. We can’t pick really one person, but we are always influenced by DJ Danny Krivit.
We are most familiar with Tokyo’s various club scenes, but there are many cities we still want to visit.
ES: Tell us about the Tokyo electronic scene. How has it changed since you’ve been a part of it? Where do you see it heading?
DD: International guest artists come to Japan almost every day. This is nothing new. However, Tokyo’s local DJ scene has evolved. We don’t believe that Tokyo DJs are inferior to foreign DJs, however, there is limited opportunity for their music to be heard by non-friends and peers. Changing this is one of our biggest goals. In the last few years, we’ve been making our own parties by paying special attention to showcasing local talent.
ES: You’ve released music through a number of different labels, but also your own, Green Parrot Recording. Which is your preferred method of releasing music? How does one way differ from the other?
DD: Having one’s own label is a nice part of being able to do whatever you want, including artwork and other things. It’s great that music can be released immediately if it’s digital, but we are also happy to release an entire record. We’re looking to deliver music in both ways and finding a good balance.
ES: You’ve now toured Europe twice. Which is your favourite city to play in?
DD: Our music taste is really diverse. So we prefer a crowd that likes many types of different music. We agree that Worldwide Festival at Sete and Brighter Days, hosted by Kamma and Masalo, were wonderful. We have great memories from Malta, as well.
ES: How does the European scene compare to the Asian scene?
DD: Historically, Japanese people don’t have a habit of going to clubs and bars compared to some major world cities. It proves difficult for people to understand music for more than just drugs and some cheesy performances. It’s not really easy to carry on our music / DJing because of this. It’s sad that in recent years, like the electronic scenes around the world, it has become more about the number of followers you have than the music. We’re more about good DJs and music rather than what’s just popular now.
ES: What can we expect from Dazzle Drums in 2020?
DD: Our 3rd album will be coming out! We also just want to work to keep the Tokyo scene evolving.