dephazz_pitPit Baumgartner's "Tales of Trust"

I first became aware of sampled spoken voices in songs back in the Stone Ages when I was in high school and grew obsessed with Pink Floyd's “Dark Side of the Moon”. The audio clips on that album (well, 8-Track to be completely honest), of crazed-sounding men saying things like “I've always been mad, I know I've been mad” and “I don't know; I was really drunk at the time” sent me into outer space. Of course the 70's-era wacky weed didn't hurt, and gazing at my blacklight poster of a ship sailing through constellations only added to the effect. But the point is that I realized decades ago that sampled spoken voices inserted into songs could absolutely change the aural dynamic.

Pit Baumgartner, who is best known as the creative genius behind the chillout sensation De Phazz, released an album this year that takes sampled elements to an entirely new level. Of course, electronic music, and chillout in particular, is rife with sampling. Tosca and Moby stand out as pioneers of using not only sampled human voices, but also chords, street sounds, crying babies, animals, whatever snippet sounds right. Likewise, Rob Garza and Eric Hilton build many of their songs around sampled elements, including snarfed guitar riffs and basslines, and even named their band “Thievery Corporation” in a winking nod to their ongoing thefts.

Mr. Baumgartner's new album is titled “Tales of Trust”. The album art (above) comically and explicitly states that “This Is Not a De Phazz Album”, which is to say that it pretty much IS a De Phazz album, albeit a solo work produced without his usual cohorts, singers Karl Frierson and Pat Appleton. Baumgartner, who has always been the creative force in the group, considers his approach to music production more akin to collage or painting than traditional composition. His musical constructions mirror the found-object visual art of Joseph Cornell, who famously scoured old book shops and secondhand stores in New York for the elements of his art pieces. Baumgartner does essentially the same thing by scouring old songs, TV shows, movies and instructional videos to find his components.

Like Baugartner's work with De Phazz (such as the masterful “The Mambo Craze”; see the video below), the chillout-centric songs on “Tales of Trust” serve up lush orchestration, lovely pads, appealing melodies and amusing lyrics, all glued together with sampled voices, chords and baselines. No “Trust” track reveals this more beautifully than the song “Turn The Page”. On paper it sounds silly: a spoken-word fairy tale about dogs and cats on the moon, with a man and a woman (who sound as if they're doing voice-overs for a 1950's era instructional film) repeating the phrase “turn the page”. All of this set to twangy electric guitar riffs and lush violins. But it all works to great effect.

(Note:  All of the "Tales of Trust" songs in this article can be heard in their entirety by clicking on the linked song name; the links take you directly to the song on Pit Baumgartner's MySpace Video page.)

The track “Noh Song” combines classical piano, strings and electric guitar with seemingly discrepant vocal components—sounds of an urban street fight; a male voice repeating the phrase “turn to god”— all meshed together with a maniacal soprano operatic voice singing something that to my ears sounds like “slipping and sliding”, but who knows what she is actually saying, if anything. The way Baumgarner pulls these elements together, the voice is used as a musical instrument, and not metaphorically.  And a bit of existentialism at the end when a man with a Southern accent opines "Now, reincarnation to me is a bum trip anyway.  I mean, who wants to come back here?"

There are 22 songs on this release, all of them interesting and appealing. My only complaint is that some of the tracks are too short. When mixing sets, I've solved the too-short dilemma by mixing, for example, the title song “Tales of Trust” into itself to double the 2:25 second length. This opening track is hysterical, by the way, sounding something like Gershwin meets Ellie Mae Clampett. Unfortunately Baumgartner has not made this song available on his MySpace video page, meaning to hear it you must buy or download it (if only so Mr. Baumgartner can afford to continue to ply his trade.)

Three more noteworthy songs you can hear with a click are “Virgin Forest” and “Easy Goodbye”, both sweet downtempo gems, and “Higher Love” which, typical of Baumgarner's work, is an amalgamation of appealing electronic sounds, lovely singing and an amusing spoken male voice repeating the words “something subversive.”

Subversive, indeed!

Pit Baumgartner on MySpace

deadbeatsinterviewThe Deadbeats are back releasing material at their new home, Wax On Records.  After nearly a decade hiatus since their last full length release "Lounging", Damian Stanley and Ged Day have been busy, traveling, working in television and the online music industry.  Now, we find the two joining forces once again with  Emma Hyde to create more downbeat vibes for their upcoming release, "Made in the Shade", due out later this year.  Slackline Radio caught up with the two to ask questions about their past, present, and future, and what may be for dinner.

Slackline Radio: It has been a little while since the last full length release of the Deadbeats.  Where have you been and what have you done?

Damian Stanley: After taking a break from recording studios I began working in television stations worldwide including BBC, MTV and ABC NEWS. After a while, the constant traveling became too much so I returned to England to settle down and start writing "Made In The Shade" drawing from my travels for inspiration.

Ged Day: I moved to London shortly after we'd finished recording our debut album "Lounging", to work for Ideal Distribution. They were distributing 2020Vision at the time so I got to see "Lounging" flying out the doors like the proverbial 'hot cakes' (much to our relief!).  After that I joined Warp Records in 1999 and became involved in a whole bunch of good stuff including helping to set up Warp Films and founding music download service After 7 years I left Warp in 2006 to do my own thing and created People's Music Store.

Slackline Radio: What brought you over to the WaxOn label to work with Nightmares on Wax and produce your latest tracks?

Damian Stanley: We've been fans of Nightmares On Wax for years and so the move to his label seemed the right thing to do. With George being signed to Warp, Ged decided to give him a copy of some of our new material. George loved it and suddenly we found a new home with the guys at WAX ON.

Slackline Radio: Tell us a little about the relationship between Ged, DJ Emma and yourself and how you came back together to put music down for your new release as the Deadbeats?

Damian Stanley: Originally, we were all members of a sound system called DIY back in the early 90's organizing free parties and club nights. Ged managed the DiY record label Strictly 4 Groovers and I was the studio manager and sound engineer. I was working for various other labels at that time too, including Strictly Rhythm and UMM. Emma was in charge of running the DJ booking agency and had a couple of releases under her belt including an E.P. for Back to Basics own label and a number of remixes too.

Ged Day: Yeah, we spent a lot of time partying together at some amazing events and with us sharing so much in common it was only a matter of time before we worked on something together. Natural progression I guess.

Slackline Radio: Is the Deadbeats name an expression of a lifestyle or music style?

Damian Stanley: Its a bit of self derogation - it encapsulates the idea of the dope beat, something not too polished with a few rough edges here and there, so I'd say it reflects both our musical style and attitude, 'no bling or hype'.

Slackline Radio: What is different now about the Deadbeats and what have you learned through your travels that might be causing you to discover a new sound on your upcoming release.

Damian Stanley: We've all matured and become more open musically. We aren't afraid to show our various influences now we're a little older - trying things that years ago we wouldn't have dared for fear of being 'uncool'... Also stepping outside the business for a while has allowed me to focus purely on the music, avoiding all the politics and distractions of the music industry.

Ged Day: Absolutely agree with Damian on that one. The range of music we listen to these days pretty much covers all styles of music and this is definitely reflected in our sound.

Slackline Radio: Can we expect any remix or collaborative work in the near future for the Deadbeats?

Damian Stanley: We've just remixed a beautiful track by Gelka called "Soon", which was a real pleasure to work on - what a voice, what a great tune.....

Ged Day: I think in the past, we would have remixed or collaborated with most artists without really questioning it too much. These days we only work with music and people we really vibe off. Our output is less, but I think the end result is always much better that way.

Slackline Radio: Dogs or cats?

Ged Day: That's a tricky one. I like both, but wouldn't choose either as a pet - I'm just not a pet kind of person. A gold fish would be about as far as I'd be prepared to go.

Slackline Radio: So, what did happen to the Space Hopper label anyway?

Ged Day: We had a production and distribution deal with Network Records (pioneering Birmingham based label who introduced Detroit techno to the UK in the late 80's) and released 5 EPs on Space Hopper before the unthinkable happened. Network were sued over the KWS hit "Please Don't Go" and then they went (into administration) .. shit happens

Slackline Radio: What are some like-minded artists that you feel our listeners should know about?

Damian Stanley: Red on Dealmaker Records is great, obviously the WAX ON crew, Fat Jon The Ample Soul Purveyor is great if you like minimal hip hop instrumentals and check out The Waxolutionists.

Ged Day: I can't say these are necessarily like-minded artists, but they're hogging my playlist right now - Martyn (on 3024), Bullion (on One-handed Music), Heartbreak (on Lex), Runaway (on Rekids) and at this exact moment I'm listening to Lack Of Afro 'Press On' (on Freestyle Records) - it's a  couple of years old but still sounds great.

Slackline Radio: Meat or vegetables, what may you be chomping on this evening?

Damian Stanley: Grilled Sea Bass fillet covered in lemon juice on a bed of Samphire (well you asked).

Ged Day: I'm not sure what just yet, but I'm betting it'll involve cheese (in one of it's many disguises).

solarosainterviewSola Rosa resides in the southern hemisphere on the island nation of New Zealand producing his signature sounds for nearly a decade.  Sola Rosa is actually Andrew Spraggon, a man of many talents.  We caught up with Spraggon and exchanged a few words just after a recent road trip promoting the new release, Get it Together, to hear about his new life as a father, crate digging, and what his other life might have been.

Slackline Radio: Sola Rosa is headed for the road in New Zealand even as we speak to promote the latest release, Get it Together. Tell us about the schedule, some new spots you might be visiting, and how the new release differs from some of the earlier Sola Rosa records.

Solar Rosa: Well I’m a bit late in my response sorry so I’m not writing this post touring. We went to the main centres of New Zealand (Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland). Then we travelled to Brisbane, Australia to play the Big Sound Music Summit. Kind of like SXSW in Austin Texas, but on a smaller scale. We stayed in Brisbane for two days, then it was on to Sydney to play in Bondi.  Sola Rosa was initially a solo project. Over the years its become a kick ass band. Get It Together is more of a live record than previous efforts. In the early days there was far more sampling going down.

Slackline Radio: You have a regular, weekly spot on BASE FM 107.3 in Auckland called The Spragga Selection. What do you enjoy about terrestrial radio as a dj and what sounds do you explore under this different moniker?

Solar Rosa: DJing gets me out of the house and keeps me inspired by new music. DJing weekly, you constantly have to search out new tunes so that keeps me digging, even though its mostly digital these days. I play all sorts really – funk, soul, jazz, hip-hop, latin, reggae etc.

Slackline Radio: So, how big is it, your vinyl collection, of course, and what do you seek in the bins these days?

Solar Rosa: My vinyl collection is reasonably big – i don’t know how many exactly but mostly they just gather dust. I’m lazy with listening so i mostly play the iPod. I don’t buy bugger all vinyl these days – sad to say.

Slackline Radio: New Zealand has sprouted a collective of great artists. Give us a lesson in the New Zealand music scene, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Solar Rosa: I have no idea why we are so into music. could be the small island mentality – Jamaica, Cuba etc. We feel like we have something to prove I guess so we strive for originality. That being said, there is some shit music coming out of NZ but its the same anywhere.

Slackline Radio: Tell us a little about your feelings regarding the purchase of your music by Warner Records?

Solar Rosa: Well I was signed to FMR, who then got bought out buy Warners. That was the end of an era really. I went from being respected and looked after as an artist to a nobody. I then decided that it was time for me to leave the label and go independent. Best move I’ve ever made. Although I can see the benefit of major labels when it comes to financial support.

Slackline Radio: How has fatherhood affected your musical career? Has it sparked a new wave of creativity?

Solar Rosa: Fatherhood made me sort my shit out and get things together. Hence the album title. I’m not going to wax on about how amazing it is and that it has changed me. I mean, it has in ways and I love my daughter dearly but I’m still the same guy, I just work harder and piss around less.

Slackline Radio: The Red Bull Music Academy has fostered an incredible resource for music lovers and creators worldwide. Tell us about your involvement with the Red Bull Studio in New Zealand and what it represents.

Solar Rosa: Red Bull are strong in supporting the arts and sports. For some reason they like what we do and have stuck with us over the years. its a good relationship. Without the use of their studio Get It Together would be something entirely different.

Slackline Radio: Beaches or mountains?

Solar Rosa: Beaches

Slackline Radio: What might your other profession be, if given the opportunity?

Solar Rosa: Chef

Slackline Radio: Word is you might have a weak spot for a culinary treat? What will you be treating yourself with at dinner?

Solar Rosa: Airline food… mmm…mmm.

You may view the full post at Slackline Radio

As always, we hope you enjoy your musical meal.

vanityinmindVille Koski, a.k.a “Vanity In Mind”, is an electronic music composer and producer living in Stockholm, Sweden. His main genres are downtempo and trance, but his music takes inspiration from a diverse range of musical genres. Ville's career got jump-started in 2008 with a trance remix of Eddie Sender's "Aliencity" which DJ Dave Pearce featured several times on his BBC Radio show “Dance Anthems”.  This year, five of his downtempo tracks were released on the Purha Records label, fast tracking his entree into chillout music.  

Strong, captivating melodies are the essence of Ville's music, yet his tracks are quite diverse. “Garden” features a sentimental violin theme; “Walk Me Home” includes an electronic, melancholic neo-tango vibe; while “Blue Philosophy” is a laid-back and jazzy noir-inspired song featuring the smooth vocals of fellow Swedish artist and producer Frelow.

Contrast is an important part of his downtempo sound, which often fuses elements of electronic dance music, like the slowed down drum and bass beats in the enigmatic "Heavens Falling" or the intense breakdown in the airy Asian-influenced "Cherry Blossom".  An upcoming chillout EP and several signed trance releases make for a promising 2009!


Below Zero resident DJ Jeff Stallings recently interviewed Ville Koski of Vanity in Mind. ibiza_vanity

Jeff: Tell us about your recent life and what's been keeping you busy.


Ville: I've been putting the last touches on a chillout track that's going to be out on an upcoming compilation and on my planned chillout EP, both on Purha Records. The track is called "Beams of Sun" and features the vocals of Frelow, who also sang on "Blue Philosophy" which you've been playing on Below Zero. "Beams of Sun" is an atmospheric affair, flirting with a retro new age sound but with a contemporary touch.

Also, I've been shifting some focus to trance recently, getting a few new tracks ready.  Earlier this summer I was in Spain for a couple of weeks with my girlfriend. The nightlife in Barcelona is just crazy, I really enjoy it! We had an amazing night dancing to French house DJ/artist Martin Solveig.

Jeff: Did you grow up in Stockholm?

Ville: I've lived in Stockholm all my life although both my parents are from Finland. I think my roots might shine through as classic Finnish melancholy in some of my melodies.

Jeff: You bill yourself as a composer and producer.  Are you also a musician or a singer?

Ville: A musician – well, I play the keyboard a bit, it's what I use for composing and improvising. During my school years I played the clarinet for about ten years, so I can read notation as well. As a keyboard novice I sometimes wish I would've started with piano instead.  But playing the clarinet was a great experience that I wouldn't want to be without, as it eventually got me into listening to and appreciating jazz.

About singing, I have never considered myself a singer, hardly even a bathroom one! I have been experimenting though, so one should never say never!

Jeff: The five chillout tracks on the recently released Ibiza Chillout Collection are all absolutely stunning. What creative process takes you from inspiration to completed track?

Ville: Thanks for your kind words, Jeff! Inspiration usually comes from listening to music or from consuming any kind of art, like movies and photography. When it comes to composing, I might start out by building a beat and improvising chords on top of that, and yet again melodies on top of that. Or I might come up with a melody that I then construct a track around.

I'd been wanting to do a piano-based tune for a long time, so I researched some jazz chords – that finally ended up as "Blue Philosophy", while the "Walk Me Home" melody came to me in the shower one day!

Jeff: The geographical reference point for chillout music is Ibiza.  Have you been there?

Ville: Not yet, but I definitely want to go there, and as an electronic musician I realize it could almost be considered a pilgrimage.

Jeff: The tracks you have released so far are chillout and trance songs. Your sound seems a natural for deep house.  Any interest in moving in that direction?

Ville: Absolutely, I would love to do deep house. The jazzy and laid-back sound of artists like Kevin Yost and St.  Germain is very appealing to me. I like listening to slowly evolving stuff, but I really have to strain myself to compose it. Some day I'll probably give it a serious try though!

Jeff: What artists most influence your work?

Ville: I'm usually influenced by good grooves or melodies in specific songs by almost any artist or remixer. When it comes to electronica and chillout, I like Massive Attack, Air and Parov Stelar (a very talented Austrian guy), and of course Thievery Corporation. Recently I had a period where I discovered and re-discovered some of the early trip-hop by Tricky and Portishead. It's really great stuff that still holds up and inspires.

On a more general level I have to mention the Greek composer Vangelis, whose songs have influenced me for many years. He makes even the most simple melody so mesmerizing. And finally Michael Jackson – I've been a fan since I was a kid. I think his songwriting was phenomenal and particularly his bridge sections are amazing. It's so unfortunate that he's not around anymore, who knows what material that was still in his head.

Jeff: What do you see yourself doing five years from now?

Ville: Hopefully I've managed to establish some kind of release catalog in both trance and chillout. I look forward to doing more vocal projects in both genres. If I've done really well, I might even be DJ'ing a little!

Jeff: How did you come up with the very cool name, Vanity in Mind?

Ville: I wanted something a bit different so I thought of artist names that I like. Some of my favorite artists and names were (and still are!) Masters At Work and British piano house/disco act Love To Infinity. Names based on three words, and the second being a preposition. It was just brainstorming from there.

The custom in electronic dance music is "one alias per project" so I'm a bit unconventional as I use it for both my trance and chillout projects. But I look at it as my producer alias and hopefully it'll help people to discover more of my songs. I believe that most people – just like me – love and appreciate many genres of music!

trotter-coverMason BZ: Hey Rodrigo, thanks for sitting down with Below Zero to talk about your music.  My first question is what does your name mean… Trotter?

Trotter: It is about horses, we are farmers from my Mom's side, and low profile life-style, easy going feeling, just keep the Trot .

Mason BZ: When did you first get into production and music and what lead you into the world of down tempo?

Trotter: I'm Brazilian , and I always had that "Bossa Nova Feeling" around me, but was missing something, maybe because I'm quite young for understand Bossa Nova, so the first time I heard Kruder & Dorfmeister I said to myself, "Its that" at least I heard that mood, but in a different way, with some new elements, electronic music elements, and this combination made great sense to me.  I think Vienna "HUG" Bossa Nova, and took it to another step in music.  That is why we had so many great artists and labels releasing so many great compilations & albums, just like 'Vienna Scientists', 'Eclectic Sound of Vienna', 'G Stone Records', all this is a mix of Bossa Nova - Reggae - Trip Hop - Drum & Bass, so this was the right music for me.  Before that I use to listen reggae, love old school reggae & Brazilian music.  I started making music almost 10 year ago, started in the software Fruit Loops, after one year i was already in Logic 4 or 3, don't remember anymore...  always had that downbeat feeling; so I released in many downbeat labels such as: Indica Music ( Italy ) - Chillosophy Music ( Sweden ) - Kagdila Rec ( Portugal ) from around 2003 to 2006.

Mason BZ: Tell us about your connection to Timewarp Music, you are located in Brazil and they are in Greece!  You were on Royal Soul Records?

Trotter: I always loved all the Timewarp Music releases, I would buy all the releases...  around 2005 & 2006, when i get the Quasamodo album "Truth to be Told"  I was really connected with that album.  I sent one email to Dimitris (Quasamodo) , and we started a friendship, so I sent him one of my tracks, and he asked me to remix one of his, for the EP,  "Truth to be Told Remix Vol.1", so i did the remix and it was released on, "Quasamodo - Party Time (Trotter Remix)", after that Dimitris intoduced me to Timewarp Music's CEO, Angelos.  Since that time I was looking to release my own album, and I asked about the possibility of doing it for Timewarp.  Angelos asked me for few tracks for one EP, after that we released my debut EP, "Trotter - Faixa Preta".  Many people loved the EP, so I started to produce the entire album.   So I guess you could say, that this is all about friendship.  I must say thank you to Dimitris (Quasamodo) and Angelos (Timewarp Inc & Timewarp Music) as it is a dream that has come true. I'm really happy about it.

As for Royal Soul Records, that is my own record label.  It is my second label as the first one I tried with another producer from Brasil, "Son&Sen Records" in 2005, we released one 12", after that we choose different paths in music and we closed the label.  From there I built my own, as a Producer & DJ for the last 10 years.  I have played all over Brazil and share the stage with many great artists & DJs.  Playing in all the major cities in Brazil I decided to select one theme to represent my work, Royal Soul Records.  Originally, I'm from Sao Paulo, and the label's first release was a 12", after that the last South American vinyl factory was shut down, so we started to release digital EPs. We are now up our 7th EP and it is going very well. 

Mason BZ: Where do you get your main inspirations from when it comes to your creating your sound and the album “Positive Culture”?

Trotter: Brasilian landscapes ... and the parties over here, we have just been going for it for 10 years playing in many great festivals.  I tried to bring back the 1970's feeling connected with 1990's & 2000's, with many reggae & bossa nova ideas.  Not sure if is that , but I tried.  This album is a mix of many tracks that I have been making all these years.  There is also a big influence from House music.  I was missing some positive points of view, hard to find these days, on this planet, but I think I found them and hopefully will make people listen and think in a different way, give a chance for the positive stuff that happens in this world.  My main influence is from: Noel Rosa - Wilson Batista -  Jazz - Soul - Latin Music - 70's Disco Boogies - Bob Marley - James Brown - Jorge Ben - Tim Maia - Quincy Jones - Afrika Bambaataa - Richard Dorfmeister - Baby Mammoth - Bozzo Bajou - Malente - All Good Funk Alliance - Quasamodo - Timewarp Inc - Fort Knox Five - and Neighbour.

Mason BZ: You are also a DJ going under the name Soneca?  What does that mean and what and where do you play out?

Trotter: Yeah , DJ Soneca , it is me , well I'm a DJ here in Brazil, and that is just my nick-name.  I have had it since i was really young.  These days though I'm focusing in on Trotter only... but Soneca in Portuguese means sleepy, heheheh, its a very old nick-name. ;)

As Soneca I have played in so many different places such as: Glade Festival 2009 - UK -- Sonica Festival 2005 / 2006 / 2007 - Italy  --  Boom Festival 2008 - Portugal -- VooV Experience 2006 - Germany -- Sutra Lounge 2007 - NY : USA  -- Saphire Lounge 2007 - NY : USA

And of course all over Brazil, I just came back from one GREAT festival that happend here; Savassi Jazz Festival (In Belo Horizonte City)  You guys can check the pictures HERE.

This is my press release for 2008 as well, which needs to be updated a bit.

My DJ set is absolute Nujazz - Nufunk, for sure many tracks from Timewarp Music, Royal Soul Records, Jalapeno Records, Good Groove Records, Funk Weapons, Super Hi Fi Records, and Home Breaking Records.  Normally I start my sets at around 110 BPM, and finish at 127 BPM, going up and trough the beats, till the edge. Almost in 12" and CD's, I only use my laptop for my Live set!

Mason BZ: What is your favorite dish to make if we came over tonight for dinner, and what would you serve to drink while we listen to some good chill-out?

Trotter: Humm, great question, I love Brazilian food...  rice, beans; the perfect dish for me is: Feijoada... and to drink, Caipirinha, you can learn how to do it HERE.  Everyone you must try!

Mason BZ: Thanks to Rodrigo for the time and taking a moment to share with Below Zero your music and some knowledge behind the studio console.

Trotter: I would like to say thank you very much, and keep up this great job with Below Zero.  Let me know if you need anything else.  All the best from Brazil!

Learn more about Trotter

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