In the past year, Los Angeles-based duo Ship Wrek has stepped into the spotlight. The individual members of the production pair, Tripp Churchill and Collin Maguire, connected in 2019 and subsequently saw their originals and remixes played out in live sets by Skrillex, The Chainsmokers, and Chris Lake, shortly thereafter, invigorating the electronic circuit.
Their latest collaboration, “Only A Fool,” includes chart-topping Swedish duo, Galantis, and features vocals from R&B superstar Pink Sweat$. For the 210th episode of AXIS, Ship Wrek allow the uplifting new release to get some air time alongside deep dancing cuts such as the Bellecour remix of Wuki‘s “NYC 2 LA,” Chris Lake‘s “I Remember,” “Downstairs” by CID and Jaquell, and some own Ship Wrek’s own celebrated originals. The main attraction of the AXIS installment, however, is the high volume of IDs piled into the 60 minute showing, making for a large collection of unreleased gems.
Finding two ingredients that work together with seamless fluidity is a cause for celebration. Chocolate and peanut butter; strawberry and banana. These sweet examples aptly reflect the synergistic nature of Kaleena Zanders and VenessaMichaels‘ own pairing, which has yielded a new single demonstrative of the duo’s creative chemistry, “Creme Brûlée.”
Like many relationships in the 21st century, theirs began with a complimentary Twitter exchange back in 2017. Fast forward over three years and countless evenings at Saddle Ranch—Los Angeles’ resident honky-tonk—later, the two have become a powerhouse of musical exploration.
Both Zanders and VenessaMichaels immediately bonded over their shared extravagant, no-holds-barred senses of humor and unhindered passions for their craft. For Zanders, “craft” means her role as a dominant vocalist and multi-talent who’s previously worked with Moon Boots, AC Slater, SNBRN, and more. For VenessaMichaels, it signifies her status as an ace producer and DJ whose reputation has largely been defined by the diversity of sounds that her music engages.
Together, they have used their shared qualities to bring out the best in each other, a path to collaborative prowess that has culminated in the launch of their creative platform, Go Off Studios. Go Off is the living manifestation of why these two artists work so well together: their affinity for various forms of media and entertainment, coupled with a vibrancy of personality that flavors their inventive outputs.
Go Off Studios, however, is just the beginning. Zanders and VenessaMichaels are currently preparing to release their five-track EP, Sunset Situations, due later this year. The EP is led by “Creme Brûlée,” the first single from the project to gain a release.
Dancing Astronaut spoke to Zanders and VenessaMichaels about their new single as well as the shared niche they have carved and continue to chisel with their new creative co-venture.
You two have clearly come a long way since meeting on Twitter. At what point did you know this partnership had so much potential and how does it feel coming so far from that first interaction?
Zanders & VenessaMichaels: “Literally our first session together, we were cracking each other up over the lyrics and ideas that we had. We just kept throwing ideas back and forth and we would be like, ‘write it down.’ It was effortless because we are both uncensored and confident in our process. We really just made it an experience, and we knew it was only the beginning. During the process of making this EP, we’ve grown so much as producers, writers, and just creators in general.”
“Creme Brûlée“ is the first track off Sunset Situations, due later this year. Being that this song is already very diverse sound-wise, what sort of musical exploration can we expect from the full EP? Leading off of that, can you also please describe the shared workflow that leads to such eclectic music?
Zanders & VenessaMichaels: “You can expect a little bit of everything in Sunset Situations. Overall, it’s an electronic multiverse with a touch of ’90s, alternative r&b, hip-hop, club, and house. We wanted to showcase the variety of genres that we love and that inspire us. We wanted to tell a visual story that lives in 2090. 2090 is the world we can imagine being in if the ’90s was born in the future. It is an all-inclusive, vivid, [and] bright world, and there are no limits.”
“Creme Brûlée” marks the first release from Go Off Studios, your shared label and creative platform. You’ve put out one video in the past, which combined elements of music, animation, comedy, and eccentric visuals. How does that aesthetic, which draws from so many different art forms, represent you two as people and how does it represent your friendship?
Zanders & VenessaMichaels: “We both love every form of expression and believe we aren’t limited to just telling stories through music. We both have experience creating music for TV, films, and other artists, so naturally, we are thinking in 3D. We love to pull in other characters from our daily lives, and love to get our friends involved. We bounce ideas off of each other until they come to life, and that’s why we have such a strong connection as friends and collaborators.”
With Go Off Studios touching so many different art forms, what is your grand vision for this project? Where do you see it going in 3 years, 5 years, and even 10 years?
Zanders & VenessaMichaels: “We want to have everything! Short films, feature films, music videos, merch, episodic cartoons, events that GO OFF!, a record label, a spacecraft, and a sailboat. We are literally manifesting all of it and more.”
VenessaMichaels, you’ve described your own genre of music as “2090.” How would you explain 2090 to listeners, and how does that style come to life on “Creme Brûlée?”
VenessaMichaels: “2090 is a world where cultures align from past and future worlds to indulge in a vivid, new-age experience. The world is kind, bright, and bold. ‘Creme Brûlée’ is the perfect example of 2090; the song is nostalgic, but has its own identity. There are influences of the ’90s within the emotion of it, but it was born in a futuristic state of mind. It’s an original, unique, bold, and beautiful bop.”
Kaleena Zanders, you’re known all across this scene as a vocalist, with features on hits across genres. How does it feel to be stepping into a larger role as a curator and creative director with this new EP and Go Off?
Zanders: “It feels extremely significant, because I do desire for people to see me as more than just a singer/vocalist. There are quite a few creative passions I have. In fact, I started off majoring in Radio Television and Film, but music took over my life (in the best way). It has been an amazing platform to now showcase all that I am capable of.”
With the future of shows and events still very much uncertain, what are you two focusing on for the rest of 2020 and beyond?
Zanders & VenessaMichaels: “We are focusing on our music and dialing in the world that we are creating visually, and these will be experiences that live online. We hope to collaborate with other creators to expand our project, and also help others through this time that is uncertain. It’s going to take all creators on deck for everything.”
Make no mistake—dance music is born from black culture. Without black creators, innovators, selectors, and communities, the electronic dance music we hold so dear would simply not exist. In short, dance music is deeply indebted to the global black community and we need to be doing more. Black artists and artists of color have played a profound role in shaping the sound and culture of dance music and now more than ever, it is necessary for everyone in the music community to stand up for the people that have given us so much. Dancing Astronaut pledges to make every effort to be a better ally, a stronger resource, and a more accountable member of the global dance music community. Black Lives Matter—get involved here:
Nowadays, Madeon is one of the biggest artists in electronic music. With two albums under his belt, each of which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic chart, and his monumental Sheltertour with Porter Robinson, the French producer’s career has only continued to soar to new heights.
The beginning of his massive success can be traced back to “Pop Culture,” Madeon’s viral Launchpad mashup created when he was just 17 years old. In an interview with Dancing Astronaut in 2019, Madeon reminisced on the track, stating,
It changed my life and I still really enjoy it, listening back to it and performing it in sets. It was so spontaneous because it was literally the first thing I did when I got a launchpad. I just had that idea, I went to the store and then shot it that night. I just saved it and didn’t put it out right away because I wasn’t that secure about it I guess.
Then, I got more confident like, ‘You know what? This will probably do 10,000 or 100,000 views.’ So I put it up and went on vacation. It blew up and I didn’t even see it so my manager called me and was like ‘Hey, so here’s what’s going on.’ I was on vacation in somewhere with no internet so I could only go to the cafe every few days. Between the time I arrived and the first time I went to the cafe, it had several million views which was so cool.
Nine years later, “Pop Culture” remains a bright example of Madeon’s inherent sonic ability and his keen ear. Made all the brighter by the dazzling body of work that Madeon has gone on to release in the time since, his 39-song mashup will certainly be remembered as a landmark moment in electronic music history.
English singer-songwriter FKA twigs released a new short film, We are the Womxn, on July 9. The three-minute video, created as part of WeTransfer’s WePresent series, documents the artist’s time in Atlanta during and after her 2019 performance at the Afropunk Festival. In addition to her closing set at the festival, twigs hosted a women-centered celebration featuring a moon dance led by spiritual leader, Queen Afua, and a gathering at Blue Flame, Atlanta’s first black strip club.
The film details these events, capturing twigs, her fans, and the dancers at Blue Flame dancing for one another in a celebration of their own femininity. The result is a stunning and empowering tapestry of female power and healing.
The reason for holding the event at Blue Flame is twofold. First, to pay homage to an essential landmark in the history of Atlanta hip-hop, and second, to turn the tables on a patriarchal, male-dominated space, celebrating pole dance as an art form as opposed to an object of male fantasy.
Speaking on the experience, twigs said,
“My experience at the Blue Flame solidified that, although historically [women] are often pitched against each other of their looks of their assets by the patriarchy, when left to our own devices we are incredibly nurturing and healing for each other.”
Shadient‘s new EP, Infinite Structure, is a revelation for fans of experimental bass music. The London-based producer’s third EP is full of twists, turns, and spirals that create an immersive sonic landscape in just three tracks. The dark, moody synths in “Fade” give way to whimsical melodies sung by vocalist fknsyd in “Miles of Mind.” “Erode” is the perfect contrast between the two, beginning with an uptempo, dance-worthy beat before spiraling into an eerie, bass-heavy drop.
Since the release of his 2017 debut EP, winter=reality, Shadient has been on the rise, capturing the attention of esteemed dance entities like REZZ, Porter Robinson, Madeon, and RL Grime. Infinite Structure, released July 10 on NGHTMRE and SLANDER‘s GUD VIBRATIONS, is surely just a taste of what is to come from Shadient.
All proceeds from Infinite Structure will be donated directly to Reclaim the Block, North Star Health Collective, and Louisville Community Bail Fund.
Erica Synths has announced that it is discontinuing its legacy DIY eurorack projects, and making them open source so that they can still be available to synthesists that want to DIY their modules.
The collection of projects includes an all-in-one acid bassline synth voice, BBD delay, MIDI-to-CV module and enough designs that once could build up a complete system.
Erica Synths plans to introduce a new collection of educational DIY kits for simple and affordable Eurorack modules, in collaboration with Riga Technical University. They plan to announced the new line in Autumn 2020.
The open source projects include:
Bassline – all in one synth voice for acid basslines and drones
BBD delay/flanger – all analogue effects unit based on V3205 BBD IC Delay – tape and digital delay unit with tap tempo, tempo sync, reverse, hold and add functions
Dual VCA – Polivoks architecture inspired dual VCA, rare Russian differential op-amps are now replaced with AS3330
Envelope – recreation of Polivoks envelope generator with loop and end of attack functions
MIDI-CV – Polivoks functionality inspired dual MIDI-CV converter with glide function
Mixer – simple 3 chanel audio mixer
Modulator – Polivoks functionality inspired LFO, noise and S&H module
Output – Output module with headphone amplifier
Polivoks VCF – authentic recreation of the Polivoks VCF
Swamp – their take on the Wogglebug module
VCO3 – Polivoks inspired VCO with nice extra – VCO Sync input
The projects are available on Github. Each project folder contains complete information and files to build a module: schematics, Gerber files for a front panel, Gerber files for PCBs, BOMs, component placement with values and designators and assembly manuals.
By making these projects open source, Erica Synths accepts third party use for personal, educational or commercial purposes. Since they are available as free and open source projects, Erica Synths will not provide technical support.
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