Apollonia "You can hear your own personality when you play your own different style"

Words by: Marcus Barnes
Posted: 23/1/13 12:39

Apollonia Apollonia are without a doubt one of my favourite DJ collectives – comprised  – they are house purists, with ample skills on the decks and a seemingly bottomless record bag full of hot new music and hard-to-find classics.

Always second-to-none with their mixing and selection, their back-to-back, one-for-one marathon DJ sets are a joy to watch, while their record label has put out some great releases so far... all in all they're a force to be reckoned with.

Ahead of their appearance at fabric in London on 23rd February, I caught up with all three members of the crew to talk about their story so far and what's on the horizon for the coming year...

So it's been a little while since you guys started the Apollonia project. How's it all been going?
Shonky: The label really started at the beginning of 2012 with our first release but we have been thinking about this since the end of Freak N Chic. It has just taken us a year to see exactly what we wanted to do for this new adventure. Everything is going really good so far, a lot of new releases are in the schedule.

Just now we are releasing the new EP from Dan, then a repress of Point G's 'Underwater' in February, the album of Chris Carrier and Hector Moralez, plus lots more. And touring has been amazing as Apollonia - we have played DC1O Ibiza, fabric and many others. We've also got a South American tour coming up and have just confirmed fabric and Panorama Bar for next year.

Dyed: Yeah, it has been going really well, and the great thing is we are all playing a lot and I have to say that playing more often with the guys makes everything easier. All the things I experience are even more exciting, we get to travel together and have a really great time.

Dan: We are really happy with all the gigs we have, we are really playing the parties we want and the festivals too... And the big studio session is going to start in February, we are hiring a studio for one month in Berlin, so we are also very excited for this.

Is it all working out how you'd planned?
Shonky: For now, all is working really good.

Dyed: I am surprised what we have done so far, the reaction of the people... I feel like sometimes they have been waiting for this for a long time because they know we are really close friends. I am super thankful for that.

We've known each other since the beginning & nothing is prepared - we know our own record collection very well, but also that of the other two. The goal is to be able to surprise each other with new records or records they have maybe forgot... I guess you're all used to playing back to back with each other, but do you ever feel nervous before you start playing as a trio?
Shonky: I think it's important to have a bit of stress inside of you.. You should never relax too much and always focus on doing your best.

Dyed: Actually no, I feel nervous when I play on my own, but because I am with my friends, there is no stress, it's just about the fun.

Dan: Yes, as Dyed said, I am a lot less nervous than when I am alone. This is the key from the minute we are together, at the restaurant or hotel, it is all about fun, the stress is not there.

I really really enjoyed your show at WMC in Miami, how would you say the whole thing has changed since you first started the b2b2b/one-for-one shows?
Dyed: It's been the same since the beginning I think...

Dan: We've known each other since the beginning and nothing is prepared - we know our own record collection very well, but also that of the other two. The goal is to be able to surprise each other with new records or records they have maybe forgot.

Can you tell me, individually, what you have learned about each other from playing as Apollonia? So...

Dan, what have you learned about Shonky and Dyed?

Nothing more with Apollonia because I have known them so well for many years.

And what have you learned about yourself?
That I love my friends.

Cool! And Dyed, what have you learned about Dan?
I have learnt from Dan, since the early days, that the size of the room doesn't matter, it's the way you gonna bring the track in, not how you play it. If you bring a track in the right way you can play everything you want.

What about Shonky?
For Shonky, he never loses the dance floor.

Finally, what have you learned about yourself?
Can't think of anything...!

Shonky?
I've learned that my friends are more relaxed as Apollonia, because as a band you feel more strong, we are less in this kind of hurry. I know that I can sometimes be too fast, I have learned that I need to be more relaxed. Apollonia gives me more confidence, with them I give the best because I want to play more underground or obscure records. When you only have an hour or two, it's jam after jam, with six hours, you cannot bang, so you need the right balance. I used to start always banging from the beginning, but with Apollonia, it's easier to be more considered.

ApolloniaDo you think playing as Apollonia has helped improve your approach to DJing as an individual?
Shonky: Yes for sure because, as I said, I have learned this year how to relax and not be too impulsive when I play. I try to take my time a lot more. Apollonia showcases are always at least five or six hours, meanwhile it's only two hours when you play alone and sometimes you get stressed and play too much in a hurry.

Dyed: Big time yeah, because there are some tracks that I will sometimes never play when on my own, but when I am with them I have no fear. I really play everything I want - it made me realise, finally, these tracks I can even play on my own. I get the confidence that they can work even when playing alone.

Dan: Of course, because you have two records before the next record with Apollonia and you realise the selection process is different than when you play on your own.. you don't play only for your self, it's a different dynamic. The good thing is you also hear the music of your two friends, so you get a lot of inspiration for solo gigs as well.

What's the most difficult thing about playing b2b2b?
Dyed: The most difficulties occur if you have an ego. We don't have these problems, which is why it works. It's about sharing music, not about a competition.

Dan: Absolutely nothing for me.

Shonky: I guess it's that you have to be one DJ with two other different people, so you think for all of you.

Has anything ever gone wrong so far?
Shonky: I have to say all of our showcases went great probably because we're so happy to play together and be together. If someone is tired at one point, the others can help him. We are united, so that makes us stronger.

Dyed: No, I don't think so. Sometimes it happens that I took off the wrong vinyl that was playing, but apart from that, no. I think we all did it once, but anyway, sometimes that can bring the energy up even more, because people are waiting for it.

Dan Ghenacia & Dyed Soundorom @ DC10Do you ever become competitive and try to outdo each other with the tracks you play? Or maybe have some fun and surprise each other?
Shonky: It's not about a competition, we play often together and we share a lot, but it is always nice to surprise the others and to make them enjoy it more... If we started to be competitive, Apollonia would suffer in the end.

Dan: Yeah, it's important to surprise in a good way,

Dyed: Yes, sometimes someone sends me a track just before the show and I don't tell them to surprise them!

You guys are seen by many as purveyors of a very 'true' sound, nothing too trendy just straight up house and techno with good vibes – who are the DJs/producers that really inspire this approach?
Shonky: Musically, I have been inspired by Dan for sure, from what he was playing at Batofar. What inspires me more though is the approach of certain DJs, the feeling they play with the records - Laurent Garnier and Derrick May are DJs I like a lot.

Also for example Zip and Ricardo Villalobos, I like the way they play. The way the DJ mixes, how they build and break at one point, for sure, Laurent or Derrick May, or Francesco Farfa. I am inspired by the charisma of a person and the way they act when they play.


Dyed: I would say Zip and I would say.. when I first started going out Jef K was a big influence.

Dan: For me the first DJ inspiration with this approach was a DJ from San Diego, he was my mentor in the 1990s, Mark E Quark. He was the first one I really heard play a range of stuff, like some New Jersey, some German Techno, but always creating the deep house flavour.

He was the first one that I heard play this deep sound, but at the time deep house was really classic. He was jumping from one style to the other, but keeping the same groove. We all do this. It's really interesting because you can hear your own personality when you play your own different style.

It must be a dream come true to be able to travel the world playing b2b2b with your good friends, but do you ever have any 'down moments'?
Shonky: No, that's the good thing. The first time we did back-to-back was for Cassy's birthday a year ago. The good thing is, most of the time we travel together and we spend all the time together. When you are a DJ, the travelling, eating etc... is usually on your own.

But here we are together and it's always super cool and super positive. If someone is tired, the others can help, if I am tired and on my own, people notice it, we give each other energy, it's a pleasure to be with them.

I saw pics of you guys taking a private jet somewhere recently, can you tell me a bit about that? It must have been a great experience!
Dan: I threw up the whole way back. It was great (laughs).

If you could go back in time and give some advice to the younger version of yourself, what would you say to him?
Shonky: Work a lot, don't follow too much what is happening, try to be yourself, trust yourself.

Dyed: I would say... stop saying that you wont go to the afterparty, because you know you will.

Dan: Go to the record store.

What's the one thing that would make life easier for you all?
All: If we could teleport, that would be amazing.
***

I love the physical presence of vinyl, it's hard to keep digital alive in a computer, the vinyl is in front of you. There is also some mystery with vinyl... You have to search for it...
Shonky
There seems to be a growing demand for vinyl, and a lot of vinyl-only labels – how does this make you feel?
Shonky: Great, we went back to playing a lot of vinyl, especially with serato. I love the physical presence of vinyl, it's hard to keep digital alive in a computer, the vinyl is in front of you. There is also some mystery with vinyl... You have to search for it. An MP3 is always on every website.

Dyed: I think it is great because there is more quality music, people have to go to the shop again and it makes it a bit more interesting.

Dan: For us it is really amazing and essential because the last few years the vinyl was working not so good. Now the promoters are really trying, especially when they know DJs are playing vinyl, to get turntables in the club. A club cannot be a club with no turntables.

How's the label coming along? You haven't put out loads of releases so far, is that the idea? To keep it quite regular but not flood the market with tonnes of music?
Shonky: Yeah, the first year we were launching slowly, 2013 is going to be way more busy with releases from: Daze Maxim - with a Dyed Soundorom remix, a re-print of Point G's classic 'Underwater', an album from Chris Carrier and Hector Moralez, I'm working on a solo EP, so is Dyed - and Dan will make another... and we will all be in the studio together in February... lots more to plan.

What's the ethos behind the label?
All: Releasing the music we all like. We can go from old school to new stuff, deep house to techno - if we like it, we'll release it.

What are you all working on individually?
Shonky: A new EP - we already made some music for Apollonia. Dan will be in Berlin for a month in February and we'll rent a studio to work on some music together.

Dyed: I have finished a new remix for Apollonia, for Daze Maxim on the label and I am working on my own EP. I have a bunch of remixes coming out, including one for Davide Squillace's label.

Dan: I have just released my solo EP for Apollonia and I am working on the next one.

What's does the future hold for you guys, do you have any firm plans – maybe some Apollonia label nights?
All: Lots of touring, including a big tour in South America in January. We also have Panorama Bar, Fabric...

February Dates
01st: Apollonia @ Gipsy, Moscow
02nd: Apollonia @ Face, Birmingham
10th: Apollonia @ Panorama Bar, Berlin
23rd: Apollonia @ Fabric, London

Apollonia Online
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Dan Ghenacia Online
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Dyed Soundorom Online
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Shonky Online
Web Site Facebook Soundcloud

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