Oct 23, 2014

WORDS: Alex Caslano

Last year Numbers re-released a track called ‘Portland’ by an artist called Sparky. It came with a 30min remix from Ricardo Villalobos and helped celebrate the label’s tenth anniversary. The original version of the track is an infectious electro jam which was first written in 1998, later picked up by Numbers and pinned as a dancefloor anthem at their parties. To say ‘Portland’ has been on a journey would be an understatement – it’s taken on a life of its own, and it’s unlikely the man who wrote it could ever have predicted how far it would go. But ‘Portland’ is only one chapter in Dave Clark’s story, and if the music from his latest guise, LUMA, is anything to go by, then the next chapter is shaping up to be pretty special too.

Having first started making electronic music with a friend in 1991, Dave has produced and released under a series of monikers, first signed to JD Twitch’s label T&B Vinyl under the name State Of Flux. “Very soon after that we began playing live shows” he recalls, “our first supporting Black Dog which blew my mind as they were already complete heroes of ours. We released a few EPs and played loads of gigs in the UK and abroad but split in '94, and I carried on using the name 'Sparky'.”

Fast forward to 2013 and Dave has hooked up with JD Twitch again, releasing on his Optimo Trax label as LUMA. “I decided I wanted to make some no-nonsense club tracks which were a bit of a departure from what I'd done in the past” he tells us. “I thought a new alias was needed, so I guess that's the idea behind LUMA - dancefloor stuff.” Striking somewhere between Chicago house and upfront techno, he’s certainly delivered what he set out to achieve, with a new LUMA release earmarked for early in 2015. In the meantime, you can catch him playing at Simple Things Festival next weekend where the story continues…

Check out the extended mix of LUMA’s ‘Portland’ below, as well as his recent EP for Optimo Music and his Essential Mix for Radio 1. You can also read our full interview with Dave, talking more about the 'Portland' journey, the early Numbers parties and what he thinks about the new wave of Glasgow talent:

Synth: So it’s a pleasure to finally speak with you Dave, and although we’re checking in on you as LUMA, it would be a crime not to reflect on your early work too. For those that don’t know, when and how did you make your entrance to electronic music and the Glasgow scene?

LUMA: I started making electronic music seriously in 1991 once I got to university in Glasgow; I got together with a friend, and we began recording under the name State Of Flux. We sent out demos and one of the tapes was eventually picked up by Keith McIvor (JD Twitch) in late '92 who asked us to do an EP on his first label, T&B Vinyl. Very soon after that we began playing live shows, our first supporting Black Dog which blew my mind as they were already complete heroes of ours. We released a few EPs and played loads of gigs in the UK and abroad but split in '94, and I carried on using the name 'Sparky'. There is a 12" of tracks I made in late '94 as Sparky out in the next couple of weeks on Rubadub records.

Synth: Last year Numbers re-released your seminal Sparky track, ‘Portland’, with a special 30min Ricardo Villalobos remix; when did you become aware that Ricardo was a fan of the original? Reading some of the back story, it seems like that record has been on an incredible journey!

LUMA: Yeah, it's pretty weird how far that one track has gone. It was done live as a wee jam in '98 just to test out a new synth I'd bought that week, and it sat on a DAT for ages and I never played it to anyone. In 2001, Richard Chater from Numbers, who's an old pal of mine, had decided to start up his first label, Stuffrecords, and asked me for some tracks. 'Portland' came out on the first release and after a while we learned that Ricardo Villalobos had charted it somewhere. When Numbers decided to re-release it last year, they got in contact with Villalobos and he agreed to do the remix. Crazy how far a jam done in half an hour can go!

Synth: Looking back at the early 'Portland' sessions and particularly some of the Numbers parties where the song became a favourite, what was the reaction like when it dropped and why do you think it took off?

LUMA: The early Numbers parties were at small venues (Ad Lib/Brunswick Hotel) in Glasgow and they were very intimate and most of the punters were good pals. The atmosphere was always high energy basement madness, and there were many many anthems back then. 'Portland' just became one of those recognisable tunes that people wanted to hear, and maybe loved a lot because it was local and connected to the club. The whole crowd would hilariously chant the bassline melody; it would always send the room completely bonkers, despite being only about two and a half minutes long.

Synth: You’ve had quite a few monikers down the years including Truffle Club and of course Sparky, but it’s your recent work as LUMA which turned us on to you; how would you describe LUMA as fitting in on your musical timeline?

LUMA: After a stint remixing with JD Twitch I hadn't released much of my own stuff for a while. I decided I wanted to make some no-nonsense club tracks which was a bit of a departure from what I'd done in the past, so I thought a new alias was needed. So I guess that's the idea behind LUMA - dancefloor stuff. There's a new LUMA record coming early 2015 on a rather fine label…

Synth: We’re constantly amazed at the talent which Glasgow seems to be producing at the moment. As someone who has been prevalent both on and behind the scene for many years, has it been exciting to experience its evolution and see all these young guys come up?

LUMA: In the last 10 years or so, Glasgow and Scotland in general has been amazing in terms of new talent. Obviously Hudson Mohawke and Rustie need to be name-checked, but there are many many more. The Firecracker stuff, Linkwood, LuckyMe, Lord Of The Isles, Koreless, Denis Sulta, General Ludd to name a few. I think Scotland has finally found its feet and gained a lot of confidence recently in electronic music and won't be going away anytime soon.

Synth: Finally, we’re very pleased to see you on the bill for Simple Things Festival – the line up is looking tasty. What can we expect from your set? Do you work in any live elements?

LUMA: Not sure how to answer this one…..

Luma plays Simple Things Festival in Glasgow on Nov 1st. Check out the full line up here; tickets are available in advance from Ticketweb. The Tuff City, Ricardo Villalobos and original mixes of ‘Portland’ are available now.

LUMA on Soundcloud
LUMA on Twitter

Oct 22, 2014

RELEASE: Sad City – Introduction To Lisboa / Sloe

They say good things come to those who wait, and while Gary Caruth aka Sad City has taken his sweet time over new EP, ‘Introduction To Lisboa / Sloe’, our patience has definitely been rewarded. Following on from last year’s ambient gem, ‘You Will Soon Find That Life Is Wonderful’, the Glasgow-based producer returns with a six track tapestry of lush soundscapes and mesmerising melody, weaved together with stunning intricacy. With the first part of the EP inspired and comprised by a series of field recordings made on a recent trip to Lisbon, you’ll find yourself seduced by rich textures and distant echoes, descending like a mesmerising haze which envelops your senses. “I wanted the music and field recordings to meld at times” explains the producer; “to obscure what was conventionally the musical element and what were field recordings, blurring the line between found sound and composition in the creation of a whole other.” 

Listen to the EP in full below and catch Sad City live at Simple Things Festival where he joins us for Synth Presents:

Sad City ‘Introduction To Lisbo / Sloe’ is available on Oct 27th via Phonica Special Edition. Catch him live at Simple Things Festival in Glasgow on Nov 1st. Advance tickets available here.

Sad City on Soundcloud
Sad City on Facebook
Sad City on Twitter

Oct 21, 2014

FEATURE: 808 State - Back To The Future
WORDS: Alex Caslano

If you were of an age to party during the second summer of love, then chances are you will have lost your shit to 808 State. One of the most important dance acts of all time, their use of the iconic Roland TR-808 drum machine and prominence in acid house led them to soundtrack a generation. A collective of experimental producers who bonded at Manchester’s legendary Eastern Bloc Record store, they’re cited by Autechre and Aphex Twin as a major influence, having fused some of the most exciting sounds of the day to create something which was unequivocally theirs.

Harnessing the new technology which had become available, there was a sense of pioneering and possibility, as explained by Graham Massey, one of the founding members of the group: “we recognized a technology revolution, in that synths and other music tech that had seemed unobtainable was now becoming part of our world. I was on a sound engineering course and was able to come into contact with the new technology, but meanwhile we were picking up second-hand music gear at knockdown prices.” The process of making music certainly wasn’t uniform, but the results were extraordinary. 808 State’s debut album, ‘Newbuild’, was a challenging vision of the future, described as "what Detroit techno sounds like after Manchester roughs it up".

Of course, it would be short sighted not to mention ‘Pacific State’, a song which took on a life of its own and boasts one of the most recognisable sax lines to ever feature on record. It was the track which took them onto daytime radio, but never eclipsed the band’s pioneering and experimental reputation, a reputation which follows them to this day. “We still use some of the gear we've had since 1988” continues Graham. “I’m also using some of the new Roland hardware and I always like to throw in new software”. Still touring and appearing in Glasgow this Saturday, we ask about their set up on stage: “sometimes I decide on the morning of the gig" he tells us. "The size of the vehicle dictates what we bring…”

Check out a full stream of 808 State’s debut album, ‘Newbuild’, below, as well as the seminal ‘Pacific State’. You can also read our full interview with founding member, Graham Massey, in which we talk more about the revolution of technology during the 80s and how the 808 State story began:

Synth: Before 808 State you had a hip-hop group called Hit Squad Manchester with Gerald Simpson and Martin Price. Who were the artists that were inspiring you at that time and how did they influence your own productions?

Graham: The Hitsquad MCR was really just a record project born from a bunch of people who frequented the Eastern Bloc Store; hip hop Crews handing in tapes. We tried to get a grant from some local scheme to pay for some studio time, but in the end one of the guys at the store used his Gran's inheritance I think. Studio time was prohibitively expensive back in the day.

The idea was to record a couple of the hip-hop crews (there were 3 crews) and also do a sample record in the style of Double D and Steinski. So there were about 12 people in the studio all trying to make a record from bits of other records, and that's what it sounds like - a right dog’s dinner.

Within that initial group of 12 were 808 State members to be: Darren and Andy, Gerald and MC Tunes, Martin Price and myself. It gave us a chance to meet each other and from that we set up a few gigs and worked out how to do live shows using drum machines and synths.

As a spin off from Hitsquad, Martin, Gerald and I began State 808 (as it was first called) doing acid house at hip-hop gigs. We were bringing a lot of different musical tastes to the studio but a common one was the Street Sounds electro records. There was also a local radio show, ‘Stu Allen’, which played an hour of hip-hop and an hour of house and street soul. We all used to tape that show in order to keep up with imports, then we had Martin at the record store turning us on to stuff, and of course being musicians already we all had our own mad record collections. A journalist pointed out how much of a post-punk UK sensibility we had on records like 'Quadrastate’ and Ninety, and it makes sense; Martin and I had only just come through all that. The younger members still had eclectic tastes but more informed by hip hop and the break scene.

Synth: Do you think that the 80s are sometimes overlooked in terms of musical influence? Many people when they hear ‘80s’ automatically think of big overblown synth pop, but it also heralded the arrival of hip hop and Chicago house. At the time did you recognise it as a period of musical revolution even before acid house exploded?

Graham: Yes, we recognized a technology revolution, in that synths and other music tech that had seemed unobtainable was now becoming part of our world, through pawn shops and the rapid obsoleteness of older models of drum machines and analogue synths (or so it seemed at the time). Atari Computers were a revolution in themselves and also samplers becoming less than five figure prices; this meant that studios in the northwest invested at a basic level in new tech.

I was on a sound engineering course and so was able to come into contact with the new technology, but meanwhile we were picking up second hand music gear at knockdown prices. These days even places like Cash Converter are a little too knowing. Back then it was "have my SH101...why would I need it? It doesn’t have midi like my DX7."

In learning sound engineering I was listening to a lot of production by Adrian Sherwood and being very influenced by Miles Davis’ producer, Teo Macero, who did creative editing and sound processing. Editing was something that was still analogue tape splicing but it made you think about non-performance structures, juxtapositions, odd bar lengths and other spice.

Synth: You celebrated 808 State’s 25th anniversary last year and we’re actually just listening to ‘Newbuild’ now; do you find new generations are discovering your music and coming along to the shows? You’ve got a teenage son…he must be pretty clued up!

Graham: Yes, my son is doing music tech at sixth form College; his textbook name checks The Orb, Underworld, Orbital and the Chemical Brothers, so yes, that does erk me that once again we get left off that list of UK dance pioneers, but I guess we were never as easily definable, every record being an exploration.

Now with time I can say I liked this, or that period, but at the time you were never looking back. I do feel we kicked open a lot of doors…some era-defining singles, some era defining-albums; making a dent in the live scene as a rave act, taking UK dance to the US; but our timing was perhaps a bit out and we lacked the management when it was needed. Look at Warp’s 20th anniversary; Warp have loyalty and a proper dialogue with their artists and look after their back catalogue with respect, giving it a sense of continuity. ZTT hasn’t panned out that way due to various circumstances.

I can find all this history to be a bit stifling for creativity at times - you have to tend to it like a garden. We've all been finding other ways to be creative though; I still love playing as 808 State, and it’s not like we over-do playing gigs so it’s still a buzz. I do realise that it’s just as relevant to play it to the new generations as we have been doing in recent times - it doesn’t feel out of step.

808 State play Glasgow this Saturday at the 02ABC

Synth: Obviously electronic music and house music in particular is very popular in the mainstream at the moment, while there’s also some really exciting stuff coming up on the underground; do you pay much attention to what’s going on with dance music at the moment? Are there any artists who have really caught your attention?

Graham: I’m lucky to have a lot of DJs as friends, plus my son’s crew seem to have pretty similar tastes to mine; we are always swapping stuff off each other. It’s a bit of a pain when I’m trying to mix and he’s blasting it out in the room above, battle of the sub-bass!

Synth: We really liked the concept of the ‘Rebuild’ collaboration with A Guy Called Gerald, and you seem to be having a lot of fun with it; do you think it surprises some of the younger members of the audience to see you making music with all this machinery instead of staring into a laptop?

Graham: When we do Rebuild we really are making it up on the spot. I’ve no idea what Gerald's going to do and visa versa; it’s systems music and it will lead you to unexpected places. I think we are both at home with the equipment and each other’s sensibilities; it’s very engaging as music making, but nothing is ever repeated. We always need to find an empathetic promoter who will give us the space and time to set up such a fragile system. Promoters tend to put on a ridiculous amount of acts on one stage these days.

808 State live is much more of a band situation, delivering a structured high. There’s room for improvisation but it’s all about the tunes and I don't have a problem with using laptops so long as you don't have a problem with live drums and guitars or anything else.

Synth: I think it’s fair to say that people are pretty damn excited about catching you here in Glasgow this weekend where you’ll be performing live; in terms of hardware, do you still use some of the original gear from the early days?

Graham: Yes, we still use some of the gear we've had since 1988, but I’m also using some of the new Roland hardware and I always like to throw in new software - sometimes I decide on the morning of the gig. The size of the vehicle dictates what we bring…“let’s throw this stupid string synth in" - it can get a bit Rick Wakeman. I’ve recently had some old 1989 tapes baked, and that gives us access to samples and songs long forgotten. I’ll see how we get on; it’s still got to work as a set…

COMPETITION: We’ve got two tickets to giveaway to this Saturday’s show courtesy of Let’s Go Back…Wayback and 02ABC. If you want to be in with a shot, simply head along to the Synth Fanpage on Facebook and type '02ABCX808STATE' on the wall. We’ll select a winner at random this Friday and notify them shortly afterwards. Please be sure to check the terms & conditions below.

Terms & conditions: Please note that this prize is for two places on the guestlist for Let’s Go Back…Wayback and Academy Events Presents…808 State Live on Saturday 25th October. There will be one winner. The competition closes at 2pm on Friday 24th and the winner will be notified via Facebook comment (please check your Facebook entry in the hours following the closure of the competition). The winner must be 14 years or older. After we have passed on the winner’s details to the event organisers we then pass on responsibility for entry on the night.

Let’s Go Back…Way Back and Academy Events present 808 State at the 02ABC this Saturday. Tickets are available in advance from Ticketweb priced at £20.81 (inc fees).

808 State Website
808 State on Facebook
808 State on Twitter

Oct 20, 2014

FEATURE: Dado Prisco’s Top5

We suspect Dado Prisco is feeling a little weary today. Having spent the best part of a week at ADE where he was both playing and partying, the Brazilian DJ and producer has just kicked off his mini European tour, with the Amsterdam Dance Event providing the perfect launch pad. But while the punters have time to recover from Amsterdam’s delights, Dado has his eyes set firmly on the next gig, bringing his Uncle Jack party to Glasgow this Wednesday where he will feature alongside Edinburgh’s Hostage.

At just 22 years old, Dado is someone who you would describe as proactive. Inspired by clubs like the world-renowned Warung (literally up the coast from his native Floripa), he launched himself into music production a few years ago, moving to London to enrol in the Point Blank Music School and experience the grittier side of underground club culture. Inspired and motivated, he set about establishing his own studio on his return to Brazil, welcoming the likes of Gui Boratto and Kolombo to the mixing desk. His own music meanwhile is attracting attention for all the right reasons, delivering big basslines on labels like Kiez Beats and LouLou Records, while remixing Sharam Jey with production partner Bruno Be. He may just be getting started, but Dado Prisco certainly isn't wasting any time.

Ahead of Uncle Jack at the Berkeley Suite this Wednesday, we tracked down Dado to get his current Top5 and some of the tracks which are moving his dancefloor:


“I got this one a while ago when Dake was staying with me for the weekend in Floripa. He came to my studio and showed me this track, and I was shocked by the bassline when I first heard it; I instantly knew it was a bomb. A couple of days later Dake and I played back to back at my party with Fabo and it worked really well; it’s been my secret weapon since then.”

2. HECTIK RIVERO- SPARK IT UP (Push Play Records)

“I heard this as an intro on Amine Edge & Dance`s live set for Mixmag and I loved it. The beginning is crazy because of the vocals and how raw they sound. Straight away I was desperate to try it out, and when I got the chance my suspicion was confirmed…it hits even harder then I thought! This one is a perfect peaktime track.”

3. MARK FANCIULLI – THE FALL (Objektivity)

“I got this one by checking through the charts on Beatport; it was on Mark’s ‘Closing Summer’ chart. He's someone that I always check out, and an artist that I really look up to. This track is a good set opener, it has a very 'happy mood' and the vocals do a great job at getting people going at the beginning of a set.”


“This one is a very powerful track; I really like to use it on the transition from a chilled set to getting things a bit harder and faster. I got it from one of Oliver Koletski`s recent sets on Soundcloud. He's another artist that I admire a lot and I’m always checking out his tracks; this one I loved right away.”


“Floripa has a really big afterparty scene, and that's where I discovered this track. I was going to play at my friend’s afterparty, and we were driving to the venue together; he told me that he had track I would love and said it would be the perfect opener for the set. The venue was a house right in front of the beach and the sun was just rising as I started my set; he couldn't have been more right - it was amazing!”

Dado Prisco joins Hostage for Uncle Jack this Wednesday (22nd) at The Berkeley Suite. Tickets are £6 advance from Skiddle and Resident Advisor.

Dado Prisco on Soundcloud
Dado Prisco on Facebook
Dado Prisco on Twitter

Oct 16, 2014

PREVIEW: SENSU IS 10 // Life And Death Showcase
WORDS: Alex Caslano

There are only a handful of nights which go the distance; whether it’s financial, personal or otherwise, club nights are volatile ventures. Essentially it all relies on dedication, and the guys behind Sensu are fully aware of this. Launching way back in 2004, the hugely popular party has grown organically over the last ten years, attracting some of house and techno’s most sought after talent. Needless to say this didn’t happen overnight, but from the early events at the Q Club and Liquid Lounge to their current home at the world renowned Sub Club, it’s been a journey of highs, lows and invaluable experience.

“It really all started with friends getting together, hiring a space and playing some records together” says co-founder and resident, Junior. “When we started booking DJ’s to play for us we wanted to make sure we were the first people to bring them to Glasgow; ‘Glasgow Debut’ was something we always aimed for.” Over the past ten years, debut or otherwise, Sensu have made a point of bringing some of the hottest names in electronic music to Glasgow. Whether it was sweat dripping from the ceiling with Ricardo Villalobos on their 8th birthday or their more recent voyage with Eats Everything down The Clyde, they’ve always persisted with getting the right act at the right time, keeping their finger well and truly on the pulse.

“The first time Loco Dice played for us really changed things I think” reflects Junior. “He was just about to break and we had a very strong year bookings wise; the atmosphere was different to anything we’d experienced at Sensu before. That’s when things kinda stepped up a gear.” This Friday Sensu celebrate their tenth birthday with the first in a series of parties over the next few months, hosting a showcase from Italian imprint, Life And Death. Releasing intelligent, distinct and often emotive club music from the likes of Ten Walls, Pillowtalk and Thugfucker since its inception in 2010, it’s become a label revered for quality. With founders Tale Of Us and DJ Tennis joined by rising stars, Mind Against tomorrow night, that sentiment is certainly shared by their hosts.

Check mixes from all featured Life And Death artists below, as well as an interview with Sensu co-founder and resident, Junior, in which we talk game-changing sets and five behind the scenes moments which he'll never forget:

Synth: This Friday ushers in a series of events marking Sensu’s ten year anniversary, and in typical fashion you’ve nailed an incredible line up featuring seminal label, Life and Death. Can you tell us a little about what makes L&D special and why you wanted them involved?

Junior: We feel that Life and Death is a label which represents quality. This is from the artwork design to the musical output; everything is looked at in the finest detail. They also have a sound that, although varied, has a Life and Death stamp on it.

Synth: So if we head back to the start and the first party in 2004, how did Sensu originate? Obviously there were already a number of established house & techno nights in Glasgow – did you feel there was something you could bring to the table?

Junior: It really all started with friends getting together, hiring a space and playing some records together; your only way to really guarantee a DJ gig every month at such a young age with no agency representation was to throw your own parties. When we started booking DJ’s to play for us we wanted to make sure we were the first people to bring them to Glasgow; ‘Glasgow Debut’ was something we always aimed for. We always aimed to bring DJ’s for the ‘head’, but at a night that everyone would enjoy; not just guys standing at the side of a speaker stroking their chin. Everyone welcome. Everyone equal.

Ricardo Villalobos plays to a packed club in 2011

Synth: We just had a glance at the list of artists who have played Sensu over the last ten years, boasting everyone from Loco Dice to Guy Gerber; if you had to pick out one or two sets which really tore the roof off, who would you choose and why?

Junior: We got a little dizzy writing that list; we also remember about another 50 bookings that nearly happened. It would be very hard to name 1 or 2 special sets. Each resident would probably give you a different list as well. The first time Loco Dice played for us really changed things I think; he was just about to break and we had a very strong year bookings wise; the atmosphere was different to anything we’d experienced at Sensu before. That’s when things kinda stepped up a gear. I think in that year we had Magda, Dice, Villalobos, Tobi and Raresh; we then kind of ended up doing that every year since, so the energy levels have just continued month in month out. It’s good that we can go from a top 10 DJ to an up and comer or to a residents night and still keep people interested.

Synth: And we’re sure over the course of ten years there have been some personal moments (good or bad) that have stood out? What was the first of your infamous boat parties like for example?

I actually can’t remember the first boat party that we did. That’s worrying. If we were going to write an autobiography these would be some of the chapter titles:

1) Reboot breaks his foot
2) How to make a DJ miss three flights
3) Buying digestives with Derek
4) Rockmess
5) Wrong airport

Sensu celebrates pt1 of their tenth anniversary this Friday (Oct 17th) at the Sub Club with a Life And Death label showcase. Advance tickets are available from Resident Advisor priced at £25.00 (only 100 remaining at the time of posting).

Sensu Website
Sensu on Facebook
Sensu on Soundcloud