London-based Bxentric is making waves with their knack for warm and inspired disco. The trio already has under their belt a residency at Jaymo and Andy George’s Moda nights, remixes for nu-disco favorites Mighty Mouse and Flight Facilities, and play from Aeroplane in his January 2011 mix.
Now fresh from the release of “Surrender” on Glasgow Undergound, we chatted with members Dan and Bryn who were kind enough to share a mix curated especially for Blisspop. Our quick exchange about their love of Disco and preference for analog production follows below.
Can you tell us a bit about each of your musical backgrounds? How did you guys get together to form Bxentric?
Dan: I was working on an electronic nu-disco project with Emily, who I have known for a while through the Bristol music scene. The guy who runs the pub at the end of my road recommended that I hook up with Bryn, his best mate. We hit it off well, and after only two studio days, ‘Surrender’ was pretty much in the bag.
Bryn: I was working on a single with my musician friend Chris but unfortunately he was in an accident, so over the summer I was spending my free time making mixes for my best friend’s bar, he got talking to Dan and said that we should hook up, so on a sunny afternoon over a Sunday roast I met Dan to which we organized a weekend in the studio, this pretty much turned into our single “Surrender” over a magical two days of creativity.
What sparked your loves for disco? What was the first disco record you remember hearing?
Dan: I’ve always enjoyed the sonic quality of disco productions – even when it’s nasty, it’s nice! I love the way the bass, kick and snare on Chic records, when played loud, hit you just below the waist band, causing you to dance uncontrollably, but without making your trouser legs flap with sub bass, which wasn’t really around in the 70’s.
Bryn: My love for disco was born through the melodies I heard as a kid through my mother’s cassette tapes in her car; she loved all her new wave/synth pop, I have a funny memory of actually walking like an Egyptian as a kid, damn those Bangles! But yeah, later on in my early twenties I actually went to a gig and saw two guys warming up for Erol Alkan called The Riotous Rockers. They had me hooked from then on and were also a part of me getting my first gig. Through them and my further hunger for the sound, I slowly got sucked in and my love for old and new sounds kept growing. I honestly can’t remember the first disco record I heard but I know Arthur Russell has had a profound influence on me after hearing his Sleeping Bag Records material.
From where do you each draw your inspiration? What other artists have influenced your taste?
Dan: I love Curtis Mayfield, Gil Scott-Heron, Radiohead, Scott Walker, Ennio Morricone, Beach Boys, early Elton John, Pink Floyd, Slayer, Miles Davis, to name a few.
Bryn: I draw my inspiration from my imagination and the world around me, the people/nature/sounds, only the other day I found myself lost in the sounds of a river whilst sat down, listening to the ever-changing rhythm. I’ll feed off this and keep it in my mind ready for the studio. My taste is again forever changing as I discover old/new artists. Right now I find myself listening to Neu! Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno and Harmonica 76, Alden Shuman, Edgar Froese, Lindstrom and Cliff Martinez.
You have just released “Surrender” on Glasgow Underground. Considering that you were previously releasing a number of remixes, how was the process of creating an original production and finding the right label for it?
Bryn:Everything starts here in my small bedroom where I’m typing right now, I have a small pair of speakers hooked up with Ableton and I’ll bring my ideas together, be it a beat or a sound from one of the synths. For “Surrender” it started with a beat then the bass. Once I had that locked I recorded Chris on the rhythm guitar and laid some chords down, from that point I then started a small arrangement along with recording live strings from a couple of nice ladies in Ireland.
Unfortunately this is the time Chris had his accident and I put the whole project on hold making sure Chris was okay. As I mentioned earlier, I happened to meet Dan and knowing Chris was going to be okay at this time I decided to push on with the single. As soon as I hit the studio with Dan it soon became apparent some magic was happening, so we scrapped the initial idea and started again, we had “Surrender.” Glasgow Underground came to us after hearing the song through our manager. I was fully aware of the labels massive history and to hear that they were back in business and wanted us I had to say yes, working with Glasgow Underground has helped me develop with no pressure which, as an artist, is a dream. Kevin McKay is an inspiring guy and I’m honored to be a part of his label and all that it stands for.
You make it known that you guys craft your music using analog equipment, which has become more of a rarity these days. What lead you to choosing analog over electronic?
Dan: The sounds produced by the digital versions of old synths are getting very good these days. But the actual feel of the interface and the subtle but variable tuning discrepancies between each voice on an old analogue is a whole different ball game. I find it a much more expressive experience playing the real thing, particularly if using the sliders and knobs a lot.
Bryn: It’s the same for me basically, I’m able to express what I’m feeling through the synths, it allows me to feel the sound so whilst Dan faces me I’ll be tweaking the synth until I can match what’s inside my head. I actually suffer with anxiety a little and for some reason instead of playing around with a VST I’m calm and effective with hardware in my hands. I did try digital synthesis but that bored the shit out of me, I just enjoy the immediacy of hardware.