Having just released the stunning 'Hanover' EP on the Stereo Sauce imprint, Jamaican duo Echomatik are certainly pointed in the right direction and ready to push through the winter months in style with more high level productions set to continue to impress. Check out what happened when we caught up with the guys recently.
We took a break until this year & decided to get back in the studio again, this time taking it more back to both of our roots which would be house & techno....Hi guys, great to get the chance to talk to you today. So let's jump right in to Echomatik - how did you guys first meet and how long was it before you started creating music together?
Jeremy here - we met about 11 years ago (although we had a lot of friends in common from way before that), when Chris moved back to Jamaica and set up a digital music distribution company here (the first one in the Caribbean) - we worked together on a business level, but in early 2011 we kind of randomly realised that we were both also really into electronic music and started producing and DJing together.
We called ourselves Stereo Massive, produced a popular record with Congorock and Sean Paul for Ultra, but the dynamics at the time both in Jamaica and in what was happening in electronic music kind of put a damper on it, so we took a break until this year and decided to get back in the studio again, this time taking it more back to both of our roots which would be house and techno.
The scene here had been relatively small, mostly house & tech house at small bars & special theme nights at certain nightclubs...It is quite niche to have a techno duo coming out of Jamaica. Could you describe what the scene is like over there?
The scene here had been relatively small, mostly house and tech house at small bars and special theme nights at certain nightclubs, but of course it exploded when the Progressive House fueled "EDM" scene blew up worldwide.
Jamaicans historical tend to like very lyrical music with big singing voices, whether it's pop music or RnB. Hence the love for the vocal anthem type stuff with the long breakdowns and huge drops. Then of course the dubstep and Moombahton style stuff also took root with kids here because of the heavy borrowing of Jamaican dub and dancehall elements. The techno scene has always been more for the slightly older crowd that has more roots in original house and deep house, and as the EDM wave is fading and the dust clears, we're starting to see those theme events re-appear again.
Jamaica obviously has a rich heritage when it comes to music, do you feel any of that is present in the sounds you produce today?
Maybe it comes out in the basslines or the swing of the instruments....maybe the accent of the sounds? Lol! You should tell us! I don't think we deliberately try to force any "Jamaicaness" on the sound. Techno is a mood and Jamaican music is a vibe. These intangibles function creatively from our subconscious when we make songs.
Techno is a mood & Jamaican music is a vibe. These intangibles function creatively from our subconscious when we make songs... I think it would be too obvious and perhaps even slightly corny to be like "Oh let's make sure to add this Jamaican thing here or there." It's actually been done quite a lot by other artists in various dance genres. Perhaps we have a more subtle reference. The EP is entitled "Hanover", which aside from being a city in Germany that has a proper techno scene, also happens to be the name of a parish in our native Jamaica!
What was your earliest memory of music, when did you realise it was something you wanted to pursue, and has it always been techno.
I've been playing guitar since I was 10 years old. Chris played piano as a teenager. We both ended up deejaying in our early twenties in Kingston, Miami, Montreal, San Francisco, Toronto...Block parties, raves, college radio. Of course this is before we linked up professionally, but during those years we both dabbled in everything from early garage, house, techno and industrial. At the same time we did the Caribbean scene as well with Dancehall, Reggae and Soca music. The influences are wide, but I think it's fair to say even though we play instruments; it was always about being deejays first and foremost. That's a big part of our musical DNA.
Chris is the idea man. He's listening to more music; he's coming up with concepts and titles. I'm more of a sound geek... Do you each take on specific roles when working in the studio? Are you better at certain aspects of the creative process? Who does what?
Chris is the idea man. He's listening to more music; he's coming up with concepts and titles. I'm more of a sound geek. I will fight to get a kick and bass jelling together for 30 mins before I can move on.
So when I get overly technical Chris will say..."Yeah but...Jeremy... it's not funky". Or "The intro is kinda boring"...lol! Conversely he may send me an idea and I'll cast doubt over the compression he's using or not using on the synth riff.
Nowadays we both work in Ableton Live, so sometimes we start an idea together creatively and then Chris will leave me to fix all the technical stuff later, or maybe he'll send me an idea and I'll change the drums and flesh it out. There's no set process, it can start from either direction. I will do the final mixing and mastering but it has to pass the "Thumbs Up" test from Chris before it's ready for the road.
What about when you get behind the decks, is it a simple b2b?
Not really. I think we prefer to play in segments depending on our mood or the mood of the dancefloor. I may get locked into a certain vibe and it's working, so Chris will just do effects or maybe drop some acapella snippets or add percussion stuff. Or maybe he'll have a beer and have fun with the crowd. Or maybe he will get a better read on the crowd and I'll fall back and let him take it over.
It's like driving a car together. You can't have two people with four hands on the wheel... You can't have two people with four hands on the wheel. Neither of us NEED to always be the driver, as long as we will get there in one piece by the end of the set.
What would you say is your most used and influential piece of equipment in the studio?
Honestly? The CDJ setup for playing reference songs and mixing or own material. It puts us in a deejay frame of mind. Drum machines and software come and go all the time. Inspiration can come from any piece of gear, any variety of tools.
I could list all kinds of brands of gear or software, but that could change tomorrow if something new and shiny comes out...haha! But there's something about cueing up a track on CDJ's from a thumb drive or deejay software (or even turntables for that matter) and grabbing a fader on the mixer...dropping the headphones to your shoulder and adjusting the EQ...Right away you just know whether the track you've made cut's the mustard or not.
As deejays you're usually thinking "This will work in a set together", but as artists it's more like putting together separate acts of the same play...What was the process like when creating your recent Hanover EP? Where did the inspiration stem from? How long was it from start to finish?
The process really began as just a production schedule of various singles with different moods. Make music; be inspired by what you had for dinner. Or maybe NOT be inspired, just start crafting loops and sounds together and tweak until your foot starts tapping unconsciously. After a couple months we started noticing certain themes developing, and we began to say "Ok this belongs over here...But that belongs over there".
We still have some material which we can't even place and we've put on hold. It may never come out, who knows. But as we sifted and sorted, we discovered we had a collection of songs that felt like they were a part of the same journey. As deejays you're usually thinking "This will work in a set together", but as artists it's more like putting together separate acts of the same play. So it remains individualistic, but they connect to one story. Hanover is that story.
Do you have a favourite from the EP? Why does it stand out to you?
Oh that's so hard to say...Hmmm...I think Realise was the impetus for the project. Once we had that in the bag, we felt the engine was running and we had moved off. But Zurich is the funk. And we love the funk. So...Every track is a favorite depending on how the sun is shining that day!
To finish off guys, what one track will always remain in your record bag?
Jeremy - DHS - House Of God ($50 Mix)
Christopher - Maurice - This Is Acid