WORDS: Alex Caslano
When Optimo describe NOO as “21st Century Disco Sensations”, you better believe they mean it. Arriving in Glasgow to perform at Optimo’s ever-extravagant Hogmanay bash next week, the curious, funk-fuelled duo of Sami Liuski (Bangkok Impact, Putsch 79) and Daze Dasen (Plastique De Rêve) have tailored a sound which is so irresistibly danceable that it could easily be beamed directly from the dancefloor of Studio 54. Based on the reasoning behind their name, that may well true. “We called ourselves NOO because we imagined something like the disco ‘Noosphere’, a place where the sum total of all electronic dance music was stored which we could channel and then remodel to our liking” says Dasen. “Influences are many and cover a very wide range…Gino Soccio, Larry Levan, cosmic, boogie, breakdance…even later things like Daft Punk and Jedi Knights” continues Liuski.
If the “Disco Noosphere” really exists, then Dasen and Liuski have certainly discovered an untapped and bountiful resource. With two sell out EPs on the Optimo Music Disco Plate series, their productions have a magic, nostalgic appeal, spiraling from past to present. Press play on ‘Must Be The Music’, a ten minute dancefloor epic with lush keys, classic strings and a breakdown straight from 1980’s New York and you can certainly appreciate their sphere of influence. ‘Heaven’s Gate’, meanwhile, incorporates psychedelic synths and a spoken word sample proclaiming “planet earth about to be recycled, your only chance to survive is to leave with us”. Performing these tracks for the first time live at Optimo Hogmanay, there’s no telling what might happen – maybe they’ll rip the musical space-time continuum and we’ll all enter the Noosphere never to return. If that does happen, at least we’ll be dancing.
Listen to both EPs NOO have produced for Optimo Music below and check out our full interview in which we talk samples, influences and what we can expect from their debut live show:
SynthGlasgow: We only just discovered NOO, but you’ll be delighted to hear that your EPs have been on heavy rotation ever since. How did you both meet and what inspired you to start producing music together?
Sami: Great to hear that, thanks! We’ve been really thrilled by the response to these first EPs. And the next one is coming out pretty soon!
Daze: We met in Berlin where we’d both come to live and work about 10 years ago. We had very similar backgrounds, influences, musical styles and ‘skills’ and very much admired each others’ productions (myself as Plastique De Rêve or Sami as Bangkok Impact / Putsch 79). We were first booked together at several events and became very good friends – and also close neighbours - and then very naturally started producing music together at the end of 2013.
SG: Both your releases on Optimo have a really classic, authentic sound which is quite simply built for the dancefloor. The galloping bassline on ‘Must Be The Music’ in particular reminds us of Chic’s ‘Dance Dance Dance’. Were there any tracks or artists you were listening to or influenced by when writing the Optimo releases?
D: Beyond the reference to NEU and the current ‘new disco’ thing, we called ourselves NOO because we imagined something like the disco ‘Noosphere’, a place where the sum total of all electronic dance music was stored which we could channel (like Ashtar Command, Cayce’s Akashic records or any ordinary FM radio) and then remodel to our liking. So the influences are many and cover a very wide range…
S: For the first releases it would be Gino Soccio, Patrick Cowley, Ganymed, Larry Levan, but also Vince Clarke, ZTT, The League Unlimited Orchestra, cosmic, boogie, breakdance…even later things like Daft Punk and Jedi Knights. The next one is more ‘early 80s’ and YMO, but we’re not limiting ourselves to disco; we’ve actually already started producing some early house and acid house things - the likes of the Hotmix 5, Fingers Inc., Azari & III and Bicep, with some touches of KLF or FSOL.
SG: For us, you’ve perfectly captured everything that is exciting and sexy about disco in 'Must Be The Music' and that’s not easy to do. How do you even begin writing a 10min dancefloor epic? Is the process as fluid as the end product would have us believe?
D: We always start as a free improvisation, like two musicians with their instruments except that here the instruments are our studios, which we’ve blended together. We invent and bring in things as we go, and it just flows from there. Once we’ve played with that and danced around possible parts and structures, we record our live improvisation, and then edit that more precisely. Later we will often rework things quite a lot and come up with several different versions, but we try to retain the energy of the initial live version.
S: So the process is quite fluid, but we also do sometimes spend weeks around a bassline while the rest is building up...we also work with the mastering studio to keep things authentic, not compress the sound too much; find the right ‘spirit’ for that kind of music.
SG: We understand you implement quite a few samples in your music; what attracts you to a particular sample and where do you go looking? Have you got a library of records to go sifting through?
D: Samples sometimes bring a particular grain or grit that you can’t get or reproduce with anything else. We do many sounds on our own but we also sample lots of different bits from vinyl, which I’ve been collecting and playing for many years as a deejay. We also sample real instruments, gadgets, iOS music aps and games, youtube clips, tv ads; anything that we think could work musically, and this then forms a library we can dig into.
S: We also work for sample and soundbank production companies on the side, so this certainly ties in. But we use both digital and analogue gear, so it’s not only about samples; we’re also big analog synth freaks.
SG: You’re performing your debut live show at Optimo’s Hogmanay party in Glasgow. Can you tell us a little about how you translate your sound to a live environment?
D: We’ve shortened and edited some of the tracks, remixed some parts and added others especially for this. Sami plays live keyboards and does the live mixing, I play live electronic drums and also some keyboards, TB-303 and vocoder and we’ll be accompanied by our beautiful friend / actress / dancer / singer Silla on vocals.
S: So hopefully it’s like the records, but even livelier. It’s also about dancing and having a great time together with the crowd and not spending NYE with our heads in our laptops!
SG: Seeing as you’ll be bringing in the New Year with Optimo, what would you describe as your ultimate midnight song and why?
S: ‘No More’ would be great. Like being on the dancefloor of ‘the Love Boat’, but in space?
D: Or Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’? Or Moroder’s ‘Chase’ from Midnight Express. Suddenly you wouldn’t know what year it is anymore, but you couldn’t care less!
NOO perform live at Optimo Hogmanay at The Art School – also featuring JD Twitch, JG Wilkes and Highlife. Advance tickets are available from Tickets Scotland priced at £23.00. Noo’s ‘Must Be The Music’ EP is available now via Optimo Music.