The weekend has landed and all that matters now is clubs, drugs, pubs and parties. You’ve got 48 hours off the 9-5, it’s time to unbutton your hustle and breathe vigor back into life. Whether it be through losing your soul on the dance floor or grooving to it, we have your soundtrack covered. The EARMILK Weekend Selector, an exclusive guest mix series where we invite the latest budding talent from behind the booth to usher you through all the boozie and jam. From your morning bedside to tonight’s evening formal, your weekend selector is here to fill a void of good taste and allow fresh connections to flow vicariously.
Certainly not strange faces, Manchester duo Shadow Dancer has held an acclaimed name in the huddle of tasteful critiques but their refined aesthetic has yet to receive a matched translation for the droves. Perhaps because this four on the floor brotherhood was never born with the mob in mind. They stick to their guns, blasting the doors of constraint and compromise to only capture the truth in their minds, and it works. Their debute album Golden Traxe was a shoe in for Boysnoize Records pushing a reckless circuit heavy sound that tipped its hat more towards gutty techno than 2009’s electro which given the point, seemed snug in comparison. Fearless in a sense that these two have a knack to lead the dance floor into the deep end without drowning in asphyxiating experimentation. As evidenced by their catalogue of EPs and remixes that have won the appraisal of festival caliphs many times over. Murder Room was the release that suited them to the throne, showcasing their aptness in churning out timeless numbers like “Parallax” and later bestowing some of the most esteemed acid house tracks heard today in various compilation series on the Boys Noize imprint.
It never ceases to amaze me that in something supposedly as free-thinking and open-minded as ‘dance’ music, you are expected to be so one-dimensional.
April 16th marks the date of release for Second City their latest anticipated succession and one that further deconstructs any notion this duo is bound to. The self titled A-side is crowned at the peak of this weekend’s guest mix which gradually builds into a disorder of kaleiding leads and fiery Roland percussion. A demeanor Shadow Dancer is known all too well for. Kickstarting off a solid groove with brick walls like “It’s A Mood (Detroit Saved My Life)” and Addison Groove‘s 50 Weapons contribution to lay down the foundation for the shag that lies ahead. And give reason to explore basement cultures in eerie soundscapes painted by Chris Hanna‘s “Gramaphonen”. The mix turns up a notch when the boys cue up a classic slice of UK hardcore mulled into a neurotic re-rub by DFA’s Capracara. If there’s any track to clue in the crowd of impending techno madness it’s when they play out one of their own. Fresh off the third installment of the Miami Noize series, “Wolff” rains acid from the sky and preps the feet for floor shattering tracks like Kodiak‘s “Spreo Superbus” and Randomer‘s “Scruff Box”. It all wraps into a tight package with Lone‘s latest ADD diary “Crystal Caverns 1991” which dissolves the mix in some warm tranquil waters. Dive into our interview with the brothers where we talk 90s gear and future LPs below.
EARMILK: For some that might not know, you guys are in fact brothers so let me ask are you two a duplicate of each other in terms of music taste? Are there any differences in terms of selection or have you both been in line with each other since day one?
Paul: I think we’re basically 99% musically compatible. I was introduced to techno and stuff like Warp Records through tapes Al used to bring home from school so, in terms of more contemporary electronic music, we both started off listening to the same things. There are occasional differences but, when it comes to making music, it seems we both know exactly what we want to do. When we worked together in the 90s, it inevitably led to arguments. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen anymore.
Al: Growing up, sharing the same bedroom and stereo and having to pool our money to buy music meant that a lot of the time we both literally heard something for the first time together. I certainly have more of a fondness for 90s ‘stadium techno’ bands! I also think that as brothers there’s something slightly instinctive about making music together which is hard to explain if you haven’t experienced it.
EM: Let’s touch on that decade for a bit, I know you guys have been producing tracks since the 90s so what was on that bedroom stereo back then and what kind of tracks did you try to write? Considering the technology back then I assume you had some type of analog set up can you share what kind of gear you had in the studio that perhaps withstood the test of time?
P: In many ways, the music that influenced us back then is the same as that which does now. Detroit techno has always been the constant, and the influence of Carl Craig is certainly evident on a lot of our 90s stuff. But there were so many other elements creeping in, too: Bandulu, Funk D’Void, The Black Dog, Juan Atkins, Dave Angel, Darren Price, The Advent, Biosphere, even some – not very good – attempts at drum & bass.
We started out with a Commodore Amiga running a sequencer called Music X-2 and a shitty Roland “synth”, the XP-10. The big change to our sound came in 1997, when I bought a second-hand Akai S900 sampler. Despite it having less than 1MB’s worth of memory, the creative possibilities of sampling were a real revelation to me. We ended up adding a Soundcraft mixing desk, ART effects unit, Novation Drum Station, Korg EA-1, Korg MS2000R and Yamaha DX27. Everything was recorded to MiniDisc in one take. We actually still use the Akai: ‘Perfect Sense’ is pretty much the S900 and a TR909.
Al: The tracks were very raw, but some still hold up really well even today. We still intend to release some of our early tracks if we can find a label that will master them and is interested in doing a digital compilation perhaps.
EM: Onto the topic of sound, do you think the premise and design behind Shadow Dancer has been consistent through all these years? Through the 90s, the electro banger era, and now what seems like deeper techno and house. Listening to your past works I’ve been trying to put a finger on what makes a Shadow Dancer track. You guys seem drawn to the 303 sound or anything arpeggiated for that matter, but what other elements have you kept that can still be noticed in your music today?
P: It’s been consistent in that we tend to do what we want to do. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I always found it a little odd that we were considered a part of that “electro banger” era, as that was never our intention and seems more a matter of timing. The first Shadow Dancer EP is just a modern slant on 80s electro and the ‘Golden Traxe’ album was meant to be more of a listening experience than club-friendly. The mid-2000s scene came from a rock background, with all the posturing and fixation on “image” that entails, and we always preferred electronic because it was the antithesis of that.
As for what makes a Shadow Dancer track, that’s probably mostly defined by our being unwilling to just repeat the same idea again and again. People say to us “why don’t you make another track like ‘Soap’ / ‘Cowbois’ / etc?”….well, because we already did that. Why not try something else?
Al: I think that broadly our music could consistantly be defined as ‘techno’. I think the Detroit element – rhythmically complex but with melodic and funk elements especially, runs throughout. I don’t think there’s anything particularly po-faced or chin-stroking about what we do. It’s supposed to be exciting and enjoyable to listen to. Our live and DJ sets are certainly intended to be fun and to be danced to!
EM: Shadow Dancer has always been at the edge of experimentation when it comes to churning out tracks for the dancefloor, listening to your latest EP Second City I noticed you two have really gone over the edge this time with a mash of techno meets garage percussion in “Perfect Sense” and “Mashine Code” sounding like some 8 bit wasteland. Exploring new genres, is this where the future leads for Shadow Dancer?
P: It’s not really where we’re heading, as we’ve kind of always been there. We made tracks similar to ‘Perfect Sense’ back in the 90s, and it kind of reminds me of The Advent’s older stuff. The only reason it has a slightly offbeat kick is we found that, with it being 134 BPM, a 4/4 kick was just a bit too oppressive. ‘Mashine Code’ was made in 2002 (just like ‘Lo Fighters’ on the ‘Murder Room’ EP), so if it still feels right sat among the new tracks, I suppose that points to some kind of consistency in our sound. We’ll always explore different things, it’s all down to whatever we find excites us when writing.
Al: There are house, techno, electro, ambient tracks amongst our new tracks so yeah, I would say we are working on a variety of genres. That has never bothered me, though I think being unpredictable has hurt us in terms of popularity, perhaps disappointing people by not repeating what we have done before. We can’t help that though and we’re not about to change what we do. It never ceases to amaze me that in something supposedly as free-thinking and open-minded as ‘dance’ music, you are expected to be so one-dimensional. One of the 808 State guys said that in the early 90s they got slagged off for “Cubik” because it came out a year after “Pacific State” and was so different – people thought because they had a hit with “Pacific” they were supposed to make balaeric house tracks and that was it. Thankfully they ignored that and made Ex:El, one of my favourite albums of all time.
EM: I read somewhere that there’s an LP in the works. How has the progress been and can we expect it anytime soon?
Al: That’s probably down to us on twitter rather than anyone else to be honest! We are making an album and we have written a lot of new material in the last year for it, but whether it’s released or not is dependent on whether we can find a label that we think we can work with that actually wants to release it. I can tell you it won’t come out on Boysnoize Records and that it will not be anything like Golden Traxe, but the four of the five tracks on Second City EP were written with the album in mind, so that gives you an indication of where we’re going. I am a huge fan of albums so I take a lot of inspiration from electronic artists who have released great albums that work on the floor as well as gazing out of a train window. Hopefully we can go on to do this also.
P: We have written a lot of stuff aimed more towards an LP than an EP. With the latter, you have to be more explicitly aimed at the dancefloor, but this isn’t always a satisfying way to write. With an album, there’s so much more creative freedom. Hopefully, these tracks will see the light of day, one way or another.
EM: Just want to say cheers for the mixtape and the interview of course, I’m sure the readers will really enjoy this one.
P: Both were a pleasure! Thanks for having us..
01. Fhloston Paradigm – Chasing Rainbows (Original Mix): Hyperdub
02. Keith Tucker – It’s A Mood (Detroit Saved My Life) (Original Mix): Seventh Sign
03. Photonz – Spectre (Original Mix): Don’t Be Afraid
04. Addison Groove – Skylight (Original Mix): 50 Weapons
05. Infiniti – Skyway (Redshape Remix): Tresor
06. Chris Hanna – Gramophonen (Original Mix): First/Second
07. Guy Andrews – Textures (Original Mix): Hemlock
08. Maelstrom – Pool Chicks (Original Mix): Sound Pellegrino
09. Renaissance Man – Natty Jussi (Jori Hulkkonen Remix): Turbo Recordings
10. DJ Haus – Needin’ U (Capracara Remix): Unknown to the Unknown
11. Emeralds – Does It Look Like I’m Here? (Daphni Mix 2): Jiaolong
12. Shadow Dancer – Wolff (Original Mix): Boysnoize Records
13. I:Cube – Lucifer En Discotheque (Original Mix): VERSATILE
14. Shadow Dancer – Second City (Original Mix): Boysnoize Records
15. Destructo – LA Funky (BS1 Dub Mix): BNR Trax
16. Roy Apron – The Effect (Original Mix): CDR
17. Dark Sky – F Technology (Original Mix): Black Acre
18. Kodiak – Spreo Superbus (Original Mix): Numbers
19. Randomer – Scruff Box (Original Mix): Hemlock
20. Pearson Sound – Untitled (Original Mix): Pearson Sound
21. Shadow Dancer – Perfect Sense (Original Mix): Boysnoize Records
22. Model 500 – Control (Original Mix): R&S
23. Lone – Crystal Caverns 1991 (Original Mix): R&S
Grab the Second City EP when it hits the Beatport shelves along with a twelve inch on Boysnoize Records April 16th and April 30th everywhere else. Sure to go nowhere but up, follow Shadow Dancer as they continue to bag more tracks with an inspiring forte.
- Shadow Dancer on Beatport
- Shadow Dancer on Facebook
- Shadow Dancer on Twitter
- Shadow Dancer on Soundcloud
- Boysnoize Records on Twitter
- Boysnoize Records on Facebook