When you've been in the business as long as René ter Horst and Gaston Steenkist, you've seen a lot of things: electronic moving from underground to mainstream, the rise of festival mega-culture, and a business reinvented through social music platforms, just to name a few. However the Dutch duo better known as Chocolate Puma have weathered it all, having only a few years until the 25th anniversary of their first release back in 1991. Though the two claim their iconic name to be a simple product of chance, their place in the dance industry remains nothing short of legendary due to a prodigious amount of innovative releases and a hand in the careers of artists like Laidback Luke and Bingo Players.
1993 marked the year of their first big hit, "Give It Up", under the moniker The Good Men, a percussion-filled work that could easily be found on the lively streets of Brazil during Carnival. Chocolate Puma, it seems, first debuted at the millenium's turn with the garage-inspired "I Wanna Be U" and continue today with their upcoming electro track "Rubberband Lazer" with Maikal X. Out May 27th on Dim Mak, the electro collaboration bends genre barriers with pulsating bassline and an unforgettable, grinding mid that seesaws on your eardrums. To celebrate the release, Chocolate Puma have crafted an exclusive mix for EARMILK, a tour-de-force of varied production that demonstrates the duo's unyielding promise to explore all corners of the electronic landscape. Read on for an interview where we get the guys' take on the industry's current environment, an enlightening look on the "Rubberband Lazer" sound, and an unheard confession to fans.
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EARMILK: You've released on most every major label. Do you like the flexibility of the current industry? Has anything been lost with less strict label/artist ties?
CP: Yes, we like that flexibility very much, as we produce in many different styles. For us it’s very inspiring to be able to release on different labels. But we do appreciate a long running relationship with one label, as it can be good for the development of your sound and career. At this point though, we’re very comfortable with being all over the place and releasing on these different labels.
EM: What are your thoughts about the current state of production and the democratization of music through sites like SoundCloud?
CP: We often are blown away by the sound quality of a lot of tracks by young producers these days. The tools you have are amazing with all these plugins and computing power. The danger though is that sometimes these amazing sounding tracks aren’t very exciting or creative. So it’s basically very good sounding noise. You could say it’s a result of not going through the process of proper a&r’ing, having to press physical records, etc. But we do think it’s totally amazing that these days you can create and share your music to all these services like soundcloud within minutes. Feedback is instant, anyone can have it’s own podium and audience. And some really good music that hasn’t been noticed or even rejected by labels, still sees the light of day.
EM: "Rubberband Lazer" is your upcoming release on Dim Mak. How'd you get the specific sound for the track?
CP: Often it’s the little happy accidents that happen in the studio that lead to the cool stuff. We were fooling around with a new plugin and we had no idea how it worked. So after some random and clueless knob twiddling this massive bass sound suddenly appeared. It immediately inspired us to play this relatively simple pattern. When Maikal X came into the studio he thought it sounded like a really big rubberband lazer. Well we couldn’t argue with that, haha!
EM: Today's mix demonstrates your eclectic tastes - there's a bit of techno, deep house, electro and more. Can you talk about that and why some of these tracks stood out to you?
CP: Yeah, we’ve never been purists or very strict about what styles we should play. We always play whatever we like. For us dance music has always been about having an open mind. The things we like though are always kinda bass heavy, often in your face, but always funky. Lately we have been really into this new school UK garage kinda vibe. You could say our track "Step Back" is inspired by that, and in a weird way also "Rubberband Lazer".
EM: You've probably given tons of interviews. What's something fans may not know about you guys?
CP: We are afraid of lazers.
- Dim Mak Records