No need to introduce you to the Void Acoustics world of immersive dancefloor audio. Even if you didn’t know it’s Void, you’ve probably experienced their amazing sound systems at least once in your clubbing life. The Arad based ABC collective present themselves as the sole distributor in Romania. It goes without saying that their Void powered parties became sort of legendary when combined with the ABC signature sound. If you’re not familiar with Always Bring Cash, you should check their brand new digital label on the official bandcamp page.
Until the party season restarts (hopefully soon!), ABC partnered with Void for a sweet contest: you can win a Void Acoustics Indigo Home Cinema Sound by acquiring one of the ABC packages from here: a ticket pack for 3 ABC parties in 2021, worth 119 lei, an ABC T Shirt worth 119 lei or all the above for a cool 189 lei! This way you can upgrade your sound setup at home while offering a much needed support for small underground collectives like ABC, in order to survive these tough times! Hurry up, as the competition closes on the 28th of April!
We know the thrills of learning how to mix on vinyl. We all went through this at some point. We also know that spending a little fortune on a proper setup (2 decent pickups, monitors and a mixer) is not the best option right now. Not talking about starting to build a decent record collection. We heard your cry for help so we have a plan for you 🤗
Beginning this month, we are offering a couple hours every week to anyone who wants to take their mixing skills on vinyl to the next level. Each and every one of you will have 2 hours to spend at Misbits, with a pair of Technics SL1200, one Allen & Heath Xone mixer, a pair of headphones and lots of vinyl records just for you (yes, you can choose records from our shop to practice). And yes, there will be some free advices from our team, also 😉 And who knows, maybe you’ll be our guest for the next in-store streaming sessions we plan for this summer!
All you need to do is send us an email to email@example.com and we’ll get back to you with the available timeslots.
For a couple of years we shared quite a lot of fun moments with Sublee when he was member of our small team at Misbits Record Shop. We spent time chatting about what electronic music has best to offer, as he continuously sharpened his record selector skills. Sublee is Stefan’s producer alter ego, who made memorable appearances at labels like Metereze, PlayedBy, Introspections or Meander and more recently on his bandcamp page, where you can find a handful of extremely underrated gems. Last but not least, We Meet Again, a record that saw light at RAWAX, marks his coming to maturity as an artist, with his unmistakable blend of classic house music and insanely looped deep chords.
Don’t judge a book by its cover, they say. Well, you might heard this one applied for vinyl records also: you don’t need an artwork to sell the record. Opting for a dull cardboard sleeve will make you focus only on the music, right? Because it is the music that counts bla bla bla. Actually, and you may or may not share our opinion on this, a vinyl record is more like an experience. A good artwork will give you the proper mindset for the music inside. It may give you the cultural context for the music, it may even get you closer to the artist. And, in our house & techno underground context, it may transform the sometimes abstract sounds into amazing visual trips.
Here is where we met Juliana, a visual artist from Lithuania who loves to search for organic shapes in straight lines and harsh angles . Now based in Berlin, Juli Jah expresses her feelings through mural art or paintings and she sometimes narrates complex visual stories on record covers. You can easily recognize her uniqe style on records released by Subtil, UNIC, Memoria, Berg Audio or ROWLE.
Juli Jah accepted our challenge to reveal a bit of her complex inner world of colors and sounds with a short track selection, backed by a few of her works. Like choosing the right music for her amazing drawings… or is it the other way around? 🤔 For every question we had for her, she answered with one illustration and one track and this is how we have the most visual interview of all. Enjoy!
Living in Berlin as a visual artist
Educating your own shadows.
The state of mind you’ve experienced during the lockdown.
It’s when you think but you think too much.
The most persistent childhood memory.
Albert Hoffman without Albert Hoffman – a colourful ride.
Winter in your hometown.
Freezing but keeping the balance.
One sleepless week at Sunwaves.
That’s one hell of a long story!
Monday mornings after a weekend on the dancefloor.
Still on the dance floor, still trying to not forget to go home.
The clicks and pops of a vinyl record.
Pinching your body and soul.
The world as it is right now.
Closed airport becomes a vaccination centre – it is as it is.
Is it possible to listen to some Romanian flavoured electronic music while diving on the Great Barrier Reef? Well, not really sure about that, but you can get as close as Sydney for this type of experience (some minimal house parties, that is :D). Anthony and Jared became friends almost 8 years ago when they met in Sydney at some small underground parties. But it wasn’t until 2017 when they launched Unic, a platform that acts both as podcast and record label. UNIC explores the diversity of house & techno with a minimalistic touch, bringing together local artists as well as established international ones. Through intimate gatherings and amazing vinyl releases, the platform became an important outpost for promoting this particular sound we’re all in love with, even if it is so far away from its birthplace.
Curious about the context and keen to find out what sort of invisible connection is linking Bucharest to Sydney, we invited Anthony and Jared for a quick chat about the Romanian electronic music, Sydney’s underground, wombats and surf. Check it out below 👇
How did Sydney’s underground look like before this pandemic madness striked?
Things were really starting to develop. There were regular, wildly enjoyable warehouse parties, open air events on rooftops, and club nights were getting back to a semblance of normality given the lockouts we’ve been under for several years. International performers were touring regularly also. In comparison to Europe the scene here is much smaller, so it wasn’t as thriving but things were popping along and growing, a culture was definitely being established.
What was your very first experience with electronic music coming out of Romania? (party, record, DJ set….).
We both started in the minimal house world, discovering artists such as IO Mullen, Diego Krause, Tagir (SLOWDANCE), and as we dug deeper we discovered more of the minimalist world. We connected with music from artists such as Cristi Cons, Barac, Dubtil, Arpiar, expanding our musical tastes and becoming incredibly inspired by their work. It was then around 2017 we decided to build a brand around this style. Of course we realised those prominent artists aren’t easily approached, so we started to discover younger artists who were making music within the Romanian sound such as Dragutesku, RQZ, Bryz, etc and we began to build a rapport with these artists.
Romanian names for your sublabels, Romanian producers releasing music at Unic Records, Romanian DJs playing for your parties… Why? 🤔
They aren’t all exactly Romanian (Silat Beksi) 😉 but their influence is huge on us. It’s obvious to everyone within the minimal community worldwide that the Romanians are at the forefront of the scene right now. They’ve developed it in a new direction and it’s quite incredible. We wanted to share that with the underground culture here in Australian and educate ears within the Southern Hemisphere. Australia is a young scene so inspiration through art and music certainly comes from abroad. In developing the brand it was important to communicate the shared inspiration from the Romanians, so thus you find us using Romanian expressions.
The closest you’ve been, geographically speaking, to Romania until now.
We’ve both been to Europe and travelled in countries such as Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Italy, Netherlands, Czech, Switzerland, but still have not visited your beautiful place! It’s a dream that will come true one day.
Should we expect 2 new sublabels for Unic Records, foc and aer, besides the 2 already launched, apă and pământ?
Haha, thanks for the ideas! We’ve definitely considered it, but at the moment we’re working with a lot of incredible artists that embody the styles of these two sub labels. There are no plans for any more sub labels at this time, but people can expect a stack of amazing new music from us. We are always striving to develop younger artists as well as showcase established ones in a new light. Consistent growth with the music we release is important so we always strive for new sounds and ideas.
What are the differences in curating music for Unic Records, as opposed to your sublabels?
Unic is more focused on an artist revealing their true UNIC selves… we don’t really have an agenda of style, we just select an artist that we are truly admiring and have developed some sort of rapport with, and we give them creative freedom to express their true selves. The sub labels are similar this way but shaped through the theme of apă and pământ. So the artist can dive deep in to silky smooth, watery sounds or raw, rocking earthy beats. The sub labels are also our vehicle for shinning a light on upcoming artists, giving them a prime opportunity to reach a wide audience. It’s important for us to invest in younger artists so the scene keeps developing.
You are in a constant process of digging for quality music, for your website as well as for your labels. So we can say that you are a fine observer of the phenomenon. Why do you think there are still so many people who become loyal followers of this so called Romanian sound? Was it just a hype of the mid to late 2000s’? Can we still talk about a subgenre / a genuine sound? Some may say it has diluted in some other already established sounds.
We think it still has a big influence right now, but in that respect this influence has inspired a new generation of producers in different countries. Over time things evolve but given the quality of Romanian artist and their constant creativity people are still very much enthralled by the scene over there. The community is very special and the sound brings out energies in us that allows us to connect on different frequencies. The music has this magic to it that touches something deep inside us. Music has always been an incredibly transformative medium and the Romanian’s have captured an essence of that transformative magic that still holds true.
Guy From Downstairs has his own label, GFD, yet he released his amazing debut LP with Unic Records. Give us the story behind this one 🙂
Victor has been an artist we’ve admired for some time. His approach to music, his ear for detail and insane work ethic. This is what’s sets him apart from the myriad of artist out there. We were introduced to him via our very special friend Vlad Arapasu, who had just finished UNIC004 and a special tour of Australia with us. Vlad recommended us and we just flowed with Victor. It was funny when we both were discussing artists on our hit list for UNIC005 we both mentioned GFD so it was meant to be. On occasion it can be a bit of a process to sign the right tracks for Unic, but on this occasion Victor send us a stack and we basically wanted to signed 6 of them straight up. It wasn’t difficult considering the quality of music your given. What was interesting about this release was the idea of doing an LP. It was too hard to cut the tracks down to 3 or 4 for an Ep, so we thought, why not an album? And honestly we almost fell off our chairs when we realized no one had done this with Victor yet. He deserved a showcase like this. And because it hadn’t been done yet, this was unic 😉
Best record shop in Sydney when it comes to quality house & techno?
Definitely ‘Something Else Records’ There are quite a few record shops in Sydney but until these guys opened we didn’t have a dedicated store for minimal house and techno. Dave and Alex who run the store have thrown amazing parties over the years so it seemed like a natural progression for them. Jared actually works there, so it’s the perfect hub to connect like-minded people over this music.
Let’s say I’m an amateur surfer who also loves to party. Make me an off-the-beaten-path tour in Sydney for a weekend (place to eat, surf, party, chill, but not the usual touristic stuff 😀 )
There are a lot of great surf spots on the Northern beaches up the coast from Sydney. Newport Beach, Narrabeen, Avalon etc.. that being said we aren’t avid surfers ourselves but we know plenty of people who could provide the scoop. We’d stop into Marrickville to hit some micro brewery’s like The Batch, Philter and Poor Tom’s gin distillery, and a cheeky warehouse rave. Cruise through Newtown for a burger at Mary’s and vegan pizza at Gigi’s. Stop in a Something Else Records to dig some vinyl. Head into the city for some harbour side views on some cool walking trails. Rent some BEAM electric bikes and riding around Bondi, and definitely hit S*A*S*H for a Sunday dance service
You are put to choose between a pet kangaroo and a pet wombat! Which one?
Definitely a wombat… kangaroos are too cliché 💁🏽♂️
What’s on your to-do list for 2021?
Releases, releases and some more releases. Were fortunate enough to have three labels to experiment with, so there’s a ton of music in the pipes for this year. UNIC006 is signed and in the works, and UNIC007 not far behind. But we don’t rush these processes, as everything has to be just right. The intersection of art, music and the written word is what the main label is all about so expect timeless music from artists of a high caliber. For apă and pământ there are 2 -3 releases in the works for both labels, featuring some unic artists people may or may not have heard of before. It’s a very exciting time for us, so even though events are on the back burner at the moment, we have creative work to immerse ourselves in. Aside from this we are enjoying our beautiful country with hikes and weekends away in nature.
A few days ago we took a virtual trip down Lisbon’s thriving electronic underground with the help of the amazing crew behind Collect concept: a burger place, record shop, online radio and record label. As we share the same passion of record digging, a record selection coming from them was the most natural thing to follow. So we asked each Collect member to pick one record that has sparked this passion, a record that fits perfectly into a home listening environment. Without further introduction, here it is 🙂
João:Biosphere – N-Plants. Geir Jenssen can do no wrong and this album is one of my favorites. Perfect for home listening or to start a special mix. It was reissued last year, so if you like ambient music you should have this!
Deep down into our primitive brains, we’re still hunters-gatherers. And this may translate into the need to hunt for the best places from where we can gather those records that satifsfy us. Well, we went all the way to Lisbon, Portugal, to check this unique spot that satisfies both the physiological hunger as well as the spiritual one. Collect is a burger place, record shop, record label and radio that pictures the ultra diverse electronic underground from Lisbon. Jumping from downtempo to that mellow minimal house we all love, Lisbon has it all. And so does Collect.
We sat down with Joao, the owner, and Telma, in-house DJ and Collect’s digital communication specialist, and talked about what Lisbon means in terms of electronic music, what’s cooking (literally) under Collect’s roof and many other nice things. We found many common values we share, even if we are a few thousand miles apart. And above all, we share the same pasion for the grooves etched on vinyl records. A super nice read! Be sure to follow Collect on instagram, facebook, youtube and show some support for the Collect record label on bandcamp
What came first: the passion for burgers or the hunger for good records? Give us a small bite of Collect’s history: who is behind the record shop and how did you come up with the idea of opening one?
Records came first! Me and Mariana (n.r. Mariana Barosa) have been in the music scene for more than 20 years: buying, collecting and playing records since the 90’s. That kicked-off a long journey further on the music industry. From radio shows, other record stores, artist bookings, events and record labels. Pretty much anything involved with electronic music. My brother Bernardo loves music ever since he was a kid. He had also been working in restaurant/bar management for over a decade (even had his own bar called Cabaret in Faro, south of Portugal).
The 3 of us had the desire to create a new project, while doing what we love most. We are very close friends since forever, and we were always discussing ideas for new things to come for the past couple of years. We decided to all join our efforts and do what we know best, all in one place. So Collect was born: burgers, drinks, radio and record shop, in July 2019.
The record shop was always part of the concept. Maybe because I was involved in a record shop before, Carpet & Snares, which I co-founded and left some years ago to pursue other projects in music. But I’ve always loved the experience.
Records shops are very important to any city’s music scene. You contribute with what the local Djs play around the clubs and bars, but also for collectors digging endeavors.
Also, a lot happens creatively and organically inside a record store, when artists meet up and exchange ideas, music and thoughts about the scene.
How does Lisbon’s house & techno underground look like from Collect?
Lisbon has a lot of amazing producers and Djs. I’ve been around for over 20 years and I feel that now, thanks to our place and the online radio, I’m acknowledging way more talent than before. And that’s because of all the artists that hang around and about.
In a music perspective, we feel very happy and lucky with this project. For so long, I didn’t feel such energy and motivation. Now I feel like a young kid, full on and ready to get going!
We’ve been watching your streams quite frequently for the past few months, and we were impressed by the number of excellent selectors who took over Collect’s decks on a daily basis and also by the variety of good electronic music they come with. Is this a reflection of the city’s electronic underground?
Yes, we know a lot of great artists and now that we opened Collect we meet great, new talent every day. It’s been amazing!
As a live radio show, we are open to anyone who takes music selection seriously. We have various DJ sets from Jazz and Hip-Hop, to Drum n’ Bass, Trip-Hop, Disco, Soul, Funk and Ambient, House, Electro and Techno. Because bars and clubs are now closed (in the current pandemic situation), selectors are listening and searching for music differently. They’re more focused, they have a bit more time to spend, and when they prepare sets they want to explore different angles and experiment around. You don’t feel the slight pressure you get when on the DJ booth or dance floor. Also, there’s a lot of old school DJs that have been spending so much time at home because of Covid, that they can go through their old collections and re-discover a lot of gems!
A lot of DJs and producers relocated to Portugal, especially Lisbon. What’s so attractive about Lisbon, from this point of view?
There’s a growing community spirit. Small, independent places where kick-starting DJs and producers can showcase their skills and productions. It’s easy to meet up, gather and exchange stuff. There’s a bubbling scene in the electronic music field.
We all learn with and from each other. And for the youngsters it’s great to be in this environment. Lisbon also has awesome record stores for diggers: Amor Records, Carpet & Snares, Flur, Peekaboo, Groovie Records, Sound Club… the list goes on.
You have a large collection of second hand records in your shop. How many do you have at this moment and who does the selection?
We have roughly 2000 second-hand records at the shop. We are always searching for new collections, and we keep a lot of records on a warehouse ready to be moved to the shop weekly. I do all the selection at the moment.
Are there any criteria you follow when selecting records that are available in the shop?
We are mainly a second-hand shop specialized in House and Techno, Electro, Ambient, Downtempo, Drum n’ Bass, Trip-Hop and Breaks. Besides that, we buy new records, mostly old-school reissues, represses and future classics. We have a Discogs profile, but we don’t put everything there. Always like to have some records exclusively in-store for visitors.
Can you make a quick profile of a usual Collect customer?
Someone that most of the time knows what he’s looking for or simply wants to search for old records of a certain genre that we have. Normally he can’t spend money, but he does anyway (laughs). We sell a lot to DJs but also collectors.
Any Romanian releases in your record crates?
We have a crate where you can find a lot of A:rpia:r, Yojik ConCon, Understand, Amphia, Zimbru and other great Romanian labels.
Collect is also a digital record label. How do you choose the music you release? Is it only about local producers?
Collect music is a label that reflects everything we do and the diversity within the shop and the radio. We are open to all kinds of music. If it’s good, it’s good! Our first two releases (past one and upcoming) are both from locals. However, we want to extend to internationals in future ones too. The first one, released in October last year, was from Narciso: an instrumental 4-track EP around Jazz and Indie Pop (you can check it here). The second release will be from Datahunter (Pedro Andrade), a 5-track EP, electronic oriented, that takes inspirations from the world of Aphex Twin. This one is almost out!
Any plans for vinyl releases?
All the Collect Music records that came out on the digital platforms will also have a limited 7” vinyl release. We also have 2 vinyl only releases scheduled for the next couple of months. One is from Slope (old school project from Daniel Paul and Hans Schlaf aka Dj Honesty). We will reissue old tracks from them. The second release is a V.A. EP with 90’s tracks from Kumquat Kids (Old project of Julian Phethean and Steve O ́Sullivan), Synchrojack and Freddy Fresh. Very exciting!
Let’s say I am a tourist in a non-pandemic Lisbon, looking to enjoy a full weekend there, but not on the usual tourist guide tour. Give us a few tips (a club for a proper after-party, a place to with a traditional Portuguese breakfast to eat on a Sunday morning after a sleepless night on the dancefloor, a terrace where we can enjoy some nice music and a good glass of wine etc.)
You can start your late-afternoon at Collect, with a live DJ Set on our radio streaming, with some great cocktails, bio wines or simply a very good local beer. Then grab dinner at Vicente restaurant just next to us. After that, you must have a drink at Lounge (one of the oldest bars in town, with excellent music every day – concerts, Djs and live-acts).
Around 1am you go straight to 5A – the best micro-club in Lisbon with an amazing sound system and the best curation you can get if you look for a House and Techno night. Then you can go to Ministerium or Lux if you want to extend the night until 7am.
Finally, you go home for a quick nap and then take your car or an Uber to Praia Grande and enjoy an amazing meal at Bar do Fundo. Just over the beach, with the best view you can ask for.
This would be an amazing weekend experience for sure!
The star burger from your food menu…
You can’t go wrong with a classic: the Crispy Bacon. It has it all: cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, lettuce and a nice runny fried egg. What else?
We do also offer plenty of vegetarian and vegan options!
Why do you think people keep coming back to your shop?
Because we are an extremely versatile space, with a comfortable and friendly environment. People can come over and enjoy music, drinks, food, buy and listen to records, get together with friends, dates, family. Even work or meet in the early afternoon when the place is quiet!
Regarding the music selection, we’re very focused in what we do and try our best to keep the record selection as good and fresh as it can get!
Anything nice cooking for 2021 at Collect?
The world is going through very difficult times and Portugal is no different. We are doing our best to keep our brand alive and to bring the best music to people’s lives. Either with the live radio streams, the records online at Discogs and releasing more music and good online contents.
We’re not making any long-terms plans though. As things are still very much uncertain, we are surely living in the present and slowly build-up as we go!
Oh, boy, 2020 was a bumpy ride for most of us! Yet Misbits managed to survive it, also thanks to your support throughout the whole year 🤗 We managed to keep the spirit alive with our usual in-store live sessions, with our crates hosting a neat selection of records and with the same friendly vibe you’re already used to. So yeah, good bye 2020, we learned a lot from you, but now it’s time to get ready for the exciting things to come in 2021! Peace & Love 😘😘😘 To round up this year, we made a list with this year’s highlights, hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did while compiling it at Misbits Record Shop! Click on the EP links, as you might be in luck to find it still in stock.
Imagine a car displaying the smooth & subtle lines designed by Romanian creative minds, powered by a super efficient German engine… Well, translated into the electronic underground, it’s like having a German record label releasing music from Romanian producers… Wait, that’s not an utopia, it really exists! 7 years ago, Berlin based Subtil Records started to invest time and money into a sound that many considered it would be just a passing hype, like many other waves born in the house & techno underground. Even if it is rooted deeply into Germany’s minimal house, this sound developed into something unique but it needed imprints like Subtil to receiving its worldwide recognition.
Nils Weimann and Martin Glowacz, the team behind Subtil Records, bet on young producers by offering unconditional support. And it paid off right from the start. VRAC, Cosmjn, Iuly B or Mihai Pol are just a few Romanian names featured at Subtil Records, now hitting the 20 releases milestone with Direkt’s EP.
We approached Nils to tell us the story behind the record label, the invisible connection between Berlin and Bucharest and about how to run an underground imprint in 2020. Enjoy!
Do you remember how Subtil Records was born in the first place?
Subtil was established in late 2013 by Nils Weimann and Martin Glowacz. The decision to lead a record label is an extension of a longstanding friendship.. Driven by the passion for electronic music, the lack of vinyl releases as a result of the trend for Traktor DJing has grown the desire to take some action.
Is there a special sound you’re searching for in order to be released on Subtil? What are the key elements you’re searching for in a track?
Since the beginning, we navigate ourselves in two simple aspects: the music should contain something particularly special. Hard to describe it, however we believe that “danceable” can capture it very well. On the other hand, a kind of recognition value might exist. Link up music with memories, whether good or bad, enhanced the half-life of a piece of music.
The vast majority of Subtil releases are signed by Romanian producers. What’s so special about Romania’s house & techno underground?
A few years ago, Romanian producers gave a new boost to minimalism and in fact formed a new sub-culture. Those waves have been spread all over the globe, like in Berlin at the turn of the millennium. Currently, you can watch so many skilled artists, countless new music, and a great variety of nightlife and club culture, that you haven’t found everywhere.
What do you think: is this hype about Romania just a passing trend or has it become an influential sound that’s here to stay?
Romanian producers have increased their influence in recent years and I think it will not stop growing even though we live in uncertain times. As a label, we are here to support this growth and forge our partnership, working towards the same goal. We are convinced that they will stay longer.
How do you find new artists to release at Subtil? Through demos? Do you scout for yourself? Do you work only with selected producers?
Let’s say that it’s a mix of everything that you’ve mentioned over your question, however what we clearly don’t base our values on the fame of the artist. The only thing that matters is the music. This encourages new uprising talents to contact us. We won’t narrow it down to selected producers, everyone is welcome.
What’s the story behind the artwork? How did end up working with July Jah?
It was a random meeting at a party in Berlin through mutual friends. We figured out that we are living near each other and started to collab. Julia is a great artist itself. She’s contributing to the success of Subtil. We gave herself artistic freedom from the first release on, we simply trust each other.
How did this whole corona madness affect Subtil Records? Did you have to change your plans for 2020?
We have released three or four records, as every year. If we overlook our label parties, there were no big changes in our plans. Luckily the record sales haven’t went that much down as afraid.
You’re based in Berlin and work with Black Round Twelve as a distributor. Is BRT the best distributor you could work with when it comes to this particular house & techno sound?
Yes, it is! To find the matching distribution partner is probably one of the most important issues. We particularly appreciate the family-like atmosphere and professional work. BRT is not that big player in the scene, but it isn’t necessarily a disadvantage. This gives us room to increase our quality over the time, without pressure.
There’s a lovely side story. Since we teamed up with BRT, the entire manufacturing is made in Berlin. That makes things easier.
How does 2021 look right now music-wise? Tease us with a few details on what will happen at Subtil Records?
Well, our release schedule is set until summer. The plans are on going but not definite yet!
If you were forced to completely change the musical direction at Subtil Records (no more 4/4 music), what genre will you choose? 🙂
A super-rich person offers you 1 million euros for Subtil Records, but you must stay away from electronic music from now on. What would you do?
It depends on the person who makes that offer. An impossible thought to me, I have no clue…
That one EP that perfectly defines the Subtil sound.
That one EP doesn’t exist. Always the latest one (in addition to the past one). In this case, SBTL020 – Direkt – Path of the most resistance which which by the way, got released last week . 😉
With 2 seminal albums launched at the now defunct 50Weapons, releases signed at Hessle Audio and Rush Hour and a curatorial effort for his own record labels (Sportiv and Fizic), Cosmin TRG can be easily tagged as one of the artists who pushed the definition of techno deep into the uncharted territories of electronic experiments. By all means, Cosmin TRG’s unique perspective on techno required a constant digging on the outskirts of the underground, be it cinematic, visual or sonic. So this why we challenged him to select a handful of records that are really close to his soul. We were blessed with an eclectic selection, sliding from experimental to ambient and back. Enjoy!
The iconic Club Guesthouse has been at the epicenter of Romania’s electronic underground for the past 10 years. Julian‘s residency at Guesthouse came as an epitome of his record selector skills. In perfect sync with the crowd, these selections took us often to various places and states of mind. As remarkable as are his DJing performances, Julian runs also Eliptic Records together with Fengda Carissa.
We kinda got in the mood for those dusty club memories so we asked Julian to dig a bit through his record collection, to serve as an inspiration for our vinyl hungry souls. Enjoy!
Wondering how’s life at Misbits Record Shop? Well, with no parties around, all we did in the past few weeks was to dig for good music. Like serious digging sessions that sometimes took us days to discover something we reaaaaaally like. And from time to time we had this immense pleasure of discovering record labels with a lot of potential. This type of discoveries pushed us into exploring other areas of electronice music, so don’t be surprized if you’ll stumble upon some 2step grooves or futuristic downtempo. If we love it, we share it 🙌
So, no more words, let’s get down to the serious stuff. Six record labels worth following, each one of them with its unique vision about what does fine house music sound like. Check them out!
This label has made a mission out of digging unreleased mixes and forgotten classics and (re)issue them on vinyl. Neat job, right? From deep house evergreens from Herbert to some true UK garage, you’ll find here more than you’ve ever wanted. Speaking of UK Garage, we still have this one in stock
Somewhere in Norway somebody is cooking some dope house music. Quirk is the name and their latest release with the Berlin based duo Foehn & Jerome is soooo good! Watch out for B1 on this release (still available at Misbits).
The label that calls itself Swiftness is what you’re looking for when you are digging for something fresh coming from Romania. Straightforward dancefloor grooves from a not so distant future, available on vinyl here
Fancy some Belgian minimal house waffles? Look no more, as NightFlight Records delivers it, with some super sweet topping! Cosmic Ray Event might be their biggest release to date, so be sure you grab your copy from here
Over the years, a few prestigious magazines have tried to unlock the secret lying behind the hype generated by Romania’s electronic underground in the past decade or so. Many of them hurried up into proclaiming that the Romanian wave has long passed over the electronic underground culture and it is now becoming a thing in the past. Just a straw fire in the deep forest of house and techno. Yet observers outside Romania miss that one essential thing you need, in order to understand the movement in its wholeness: they are not Romanians. They lack the culturale heritage, with the good and bad. They didn’t inherit the transgenerational karma of opression all Romanians are fighting to overcome. Believe it or not, the subtle groove you could feel anywhere in this music is born out of the introspective and shy personalities of Romanian artists.
So it came as a big surprise for us when we read the long post made by Yaron Trax, the owner of Tel Aviv’s The Block Club. With a high level of awareness, Yaron has managed to describe a very realistic picture of what lies behind the Romanian groove. A groove he decided to bet on when defining the musical direction for The Block. Priku, Raresh, Petre Inspirescu and Herodot have taken over The Block’s custom mixer, alongside the new generation of producers, from Crihan to Dragutesku. A community was born around The Block and things started to get traction. After all, The Block is an essential outpost when we look at the Middle East house & techno underground.
Long story short, we invited for a nice small talk about Romania’s underground, about The Block and about what lies before us, when we have all passed today’s challenges.
We read the huge post you made about the Romanian electronic underground culture and we are quite impress of your level of knowledge, also on the more technical side of this sound. Where is this knowledge coming from?
I am so happy that my post touched so many people, it reached more than 250,000 people and got shares and comments from people literally all over the world, from all continents. This is how far and wide this music has reached. I wrote it from my heart, and I thought it will be an interesting read for music lovers. The technical knowledge, I guess that’s coming from my tendency to analyse things, I like to understand and I am very curious about art, and I spoke to many many people at The Block, DJs from all over the world. Although I did study sound and music technology in London, almost everything I know about sound is from reading internet forums and from experimenting with sound systems in different rooms. I just change things and listen, and then change again and listen again.
The music is so powerful, you don’t need to know a lot in order to feel it’s message.
You described in plenty of detail a more spiritual side of this music from a dancefloor-centered perspective. Do you think that the crowd needs a higher level of self-awareness to feel the music exactly like you described it?
Not necessarily. I am a strong believer that the spiritual depths of music and the nuances of sound can actually be felt by anyone. Sure, many times it is felt on a subconscious level, but that doesn’t matter, as long as it is felt and experienced. It reminds me of this morning in Sunwaves 2017 I think, we were dancing at the romanian tent and Pedro was playing. Suddenly in the middle of his set, hundreds of young Italians came rushing into the tent, I think Marco Carola set just ended in the other tent, At the beginning they were pretty loud and aggressive and didn’t fit in the beautiful vibe we had on the dancefloor. But after about an hour that they were there, you could gradually see all those aggressive faces turn softer and starting to smile. They got totally into the groove, because it was just impossible to resist it. The music is so powerful, you don’t need to know a lot in order to feel it’s message.
How did you manage to keep the high level of interest of the newly formed crowd coming to The Block during 2020, with all the restrictions applied?
Well, with the club closed since the beginning of March, and with all the lockdowns, people of the community met mostly only in the demonstrations that are being held here in the last few months, in protest against the government. The nightlife played an important role in starting these demonstrations. It may seem strange, but it also makes a lot of sense that the nightlife will be in the forefront of this protest. We have also used social media in order to support the protest, taking a stand and writing some very viral posts about the political situation in Israel. Apart from this, we did a couple of live streams from the club with the local residents, which were cool but ultimately we felt that we don’t really connect with this live stream idea so much, so instead we are now working on a new project that combines our love of sound and of video art – an online channel with exclusive musical and visual content. I am very excited about it. Stay tuned…
Will we still have the scene we had back in 2019, with all these strange times we’re living in?
I don’t know. I hope it will not return exactly the same as it was, because change is inevitable and good. I believe that whatever happens to us in life, we should try to make the best of, so now we have this pandemic, let’s try to find out what good it can bring, how can we change for the best because of it. Could be more time with the family, could be time for ourselves to contemplate, or could be a new project, doing something in a new way because of the changed prespective. We can see this as a great challenge, and challenges bring the best in us.
A few Romanian DJs who played at The Block told me about this amazing experience they had with the custom mixer. From what we’ve heard, the mixer was customized according to your requests…
No, it wasn’t customized according to my request, it was designed by me and built from scratch for The Block by an electronic engineer. That’s why it’s called Traxx1, google it 🙂 It’s one of my babies, I have a few. For the last 10 years I’ve been working on the next one, Traxx2, which I believe is a revolutionary DJ mixer, the next level from the first one (which is the best sounding mixer I’ve heard so far, you can hear it for yourself if you listen to XLR8R Podcast 477: Priku, this is a set recorded on Traxx1 and you can compare it with other sets online recorded on other mixers, you will be quite amazed by the difference). Many DJs have helped me conceptualise and develop the new mixer Traxx2, and Priku stands out as someone I’ve consulted with a lot on this. Unfortunately the new electronic engineer which I work with on this new mixer has disappeared for a few months now and he has the (unfinished) mixer at his studio, so now I just hope my baby will come back to me and finally be born.
Did you change / recalibrate the sound system to better fit the music Romanians are playing at The Block?
Well, I tune the sound systems on all the rooms at The Block on a regular basis and I also do many experiments with speakers placement and acoustics and electronics, always trying to find a better setup for the sound of each room. Of course I use reference music to listen to when I’m doing the experiments, and since I fell in love with the Romanian music(and the Romanian people also!), I’ve been using mainly Rominimal tracks to tune the systems and experiment, so naturally, all the tuning and setting up I did was based on this groove. You can actually say, tuned to this groove.
We had a chance to listen to a few young producers based in Israel and we’ve been impressed by quite a few. How does a cross-cultural concept label, featuring both Romanian and Israeli producers, sound, from your point of view?
Well, the Israeli minimal producers are the resident DJs at The Block. These DJs have heard and have played before, after and together with all the best DJs in the world coming to play at The Block on a regular basis for many years now. They are super talented and super positive and spiritual people. A cross-cultural concept label, featuring both Romanian and Israeli producers, sound amazing from my point of view. A collaboration between Israelis and Romanians in music production is already happening for some time now In fact, we did plan to do a label like this a couple of years ago, and we already collected many great tracks from Romanian and local producers, but back then the Israeli producers were still not at the level they are today, and also I felt that it’s too demanding for me to run a label + manage the club and lineups at the same time + be the father of 3 little kids, and being an obsessive perfectionist, it was all too much. However, I believe it will happen in the future.
Yeah, we are suckers for mysteries. You know, like Scooby Doo die-hard fans ’n stuff. Same thing applies for quality house music, especially when we know little about who’s behind it. And one record label that caught our attention lately is the already infamous QNQN series, with a back catalog filled with groovy edits and obscure bootlegs that have one thing in common: they’re danceable as hell. So, we did our own private investigation to get in contact with the person behind QNQN. Our short but fun interogatory was supposed to shed some light on the mystery surrounding the whole concept but it only gave us a few missing puzzle pieces. Until we solve the whole puzzle, enjoy the music 🥰 – check out here what we (still) have in stockfrom one of our favourite record labels.
What does QNQN acronym mean?
It’s more like mumbo-jumbo than an acronym. They’re the first and last letter from the word “question”. Who is it? Why does it exist? Why does it make your body move? Where have you heard this sound before? So many questions! The mistery game and intriguing the listener in order to start digging more, have always been part of the label’s philosophy.
People say that behind QNQN is Ricardo Villalobos’ step brother. Are the rumours true?
No, the rumors aren’t true. It’s actually his chiropractitioner!
We heard that you played the QNQN numbers at lottery and you won 1 million euros. What did you do with all that money?
I’ve finally bought that 1 million euro extra-rare potato, that looks exactly like Elvis Presley’s face.
Is QNQN all about sampling?
Well, even if the label’s concept was created from the idea of releasing bomb edits built around old-school tracks, for peak-time dancefloor moments, on the way it has evolved into different things. Including releasing original tracks. But generally, at the QNQN headquarters we do like a good illustration of sampling some long-lost songs from the past and giving them a new, fresh flavour.
The most successful QNQN release to date
I guess that’s debatable, but probablyt the first one (QNQN1415), that came out 4 years ago, had the most strong impact and helped jump-starting the label.
Name one Untitled Track from an Unknown Artist you enjoyed this year
Smooch Tha Dog, from our very own home of edits, of course! 🙂
We love electronic music and almost everything related to it! We love it so much to that point where we choose to buy some new records as our top priority 🤩 Alex Puicea knows best. We met Alex back in the days he worked in our shop, spending countless hours of geeky talks about wires, cartridges, modulars and sync clocks. His label, bearing the impossible-to-remember Rackmizar name, reflects his passion for digging out lesser known artists with intriguing sounds. Things changed for Alex, as he decided to leave Bucharest’s fast paced rhythm and return to his hometown, Severin, on the shores of the Danube river.
Eat first, then buy records! With this in mind, Alex Puicea opened a cozy bistro, Abstract, but he never left his passion for music gear behind. Just Jamis a video series with short live sessions from his home studio and well, this is just the beginning. Yeah, we needed to find out the connection between food and electronic music so we sat down for a quick chat with Alex Puicea about techno pizza and records.
You left Bucharest a few years ago, to return to your hometown and start something new… How is you life now, away from the big city’s hustle & bustle?
Moving away form Bucharest was a good thing for me on a personal level, spent more time with my family, opened my own bussines, focused more on making music. Got to know more cool people in Severin involved in art. Bad part about my life now, having a business is really hard work, when I get to have some “me” time, I go hiking or just make music, or make music when hiking :))
Tell us more about the Abstract concept bistro. How was it received and what are your plans?
So, let’s start form the beginning… After me and my wife got married we decided to make a caffee in our home town Drobeta Turnu-Severin. I wasn’t really excited at first but it grew on me. Abstract was a mind bender for Severin at first. Creativity, art, culture… people did not give us a chance. And it was really hard to keep things floating the first year, but things got better, more people started coming, we made more friends, met more people, things were looking up for us. But when things go nice they have to go bad too: our neighbours started complaining about the noise and we had to move our location. That’s when the bistro was born. We decided to make food because I really love food :)) Plans for the future…have more free time to make music :))
Will Abstract at some point involve electronic music also?
It already happened! It was called “Electronic Sunday” and I used to play deep house, people would gather, have a tea, listen to some vinyl. The concept was not about making a party, but just to show underground quality music to high school kids and open minded adults that did not have a chance to listen to the real deal.
What happenned to Cutiuta Muzicala, the club you opened a while ago? Any plans on reviving it?
Well it was good while it lasted, unfortunately it was a club in a club, like Expirat and Other Side was. The main room there did not make enough money to sustain itself, and Cutiuta was not open every week, it sometimes had big breaks between parties. I think often about reopening, but the costs just don’t work right now. So until I find the perfect space and context, it’s just a plan for the future.
You worked at Misbits for a couple of years. Does the love for vinyl still burn inside you? Maybe you’ll consider at some point opening a record shop in your hometown…
I still buy vinyl from time to time not as much as before but still do. At first I wanted to get some records at the old Abstract but now I know there is no market for vinyl in severin, and prefer not try.
If you’d want to make a techno style pizza, what ingredients will it have? 🙂
Hmm… Flour, yeast, salt, tomato, sauce with garlic and wine, mozzarella, chilly, fresh rosemary.
Talking about electronic music, you launched the JustJam series. What’s this all about?
I made a lot of music that I did not release or pubish in any way, so it just died. Either I got bad feedback from my DJ friends, or just forgot about it, the music just did not make it further than that. And that got my hopes down as a producer. So I decided to ”Just Jam”! I love making music, with no more pressure from labels or people. Just me and my machines. There is nothing cooler than hiking to a location and making music there for a hour or two. Then just record what you did .
2 years since the last Rackmizar release, your own record label you started in 2016. Not enough free time to plan new stuff?
Well to be honest the last two records were really good, but did not sell enough to get back even the master fees. And don’t have time to manage it well so, no record on Rackmizar for now.
3 records you’d play as background music for your bistro.