Getting to know – Sian
Getting to know – Sian. Inerviewed by Akshay Bhalla
Hello Sian, thank you for taking out time for Euphoric Magazine! Tell us which part of the world are you currently visiting?
Hey guys, my pleasure, I’m big fan of the mag! I’m in USA at the moment. I’ve been on tour here for 5 days. I played at Denver and here (Where I’m sitting in the airport.) in San Francisco… I’ve also got two more gigs in Washington and Boston this weekend, before I’m on my way home. I almost came directly from Argentina to Barcelona, and then onward here last week, so was a little bit of crazy travelling these past few days.
Let’s get started with this interview; you were born in Dublin, Ireland however you were brought up in southern Spain. Tell us how your musical journey began?
Yes, I’m Irish originally, and grew up in the South of Spain. I first got hooked on electronic music by sneaking into warehouse and club parties as a teenager in Dublin. I was back there dealing with the shock of leaving balmy Spain, into cold dark Ireland. This was so important though, to have that warehouse sensibility drilled into my head and an outlet for ideas. It was a free time. I try to take that into the main room stuff I make now. Since a very young age I was kind of fascinated by any music made with machines. So the next step was to push my way into recording sessions and find out how one person can make a track alone, as a producer, in a DIY way.
Previously you have released on some of the top techno labels in the world including Soma, Pokerflat, Bedrock and Sci+Tec. You have launched your own label called ‘Octopus Recordings’. Could you tell us how this began?
I began that way and was very pleased to appear on those labels. I really admire them, but I always felt my sound belonged on my own imprint, where I could do whatever the hell I wanted. Quite egotistical but I feel if any new artist is confident they have an original sound, I’d say start your own thing.
Today Octopus Recordings is considered to be one of the top 5 selling techno labels around the world. Did you ever anticipate hitting this landmark so soon?
No, I really didn’t. I felt we would take a long while to get in the running with some labels that have rocked it for 10-15 years already. We still make judgment mistakes and are always testing things out, and the market is so random these days I’m just happy we can stay afloat and live from what we love to do. We learn fast and I’m starting to know when we have a special track ready for release, but I’m always surprised at the public’s appetite for weird stuff. Like Shame Cube, my last single, if you listen to it, seems unlikely to be a big club tune, but when it came out it hit the number 2 position on Beatport in a few days. That gave us a lot of gumption to push our sound into bigger markets.
Your last artist album ‘Before Silence’ is an innovative and intricate 130-minute mix. It portrays a very forward thinking approach towards production and mixing. Could you tell us how this album came about and what goals you achieved with the album? How does it differ to your next album coming in December?
The last album was a nightmare to make to be perfectly honest. Making the tracks was great fun-but what I what did next was the hard part. I took the whole collection of tunes apart piece by piece and then made a cohesive 1hr 30 min mega track from them. Combined with a huge list of remixers, it was a mammoth project and got some nice press and kudos, but ultimately brain damaging. My aim with that was to give people a feel for a live journey type show with straight up club tracks, whereas the new album is like a traditional album, going from slow and melodic to banging and heavy big room moments. It’s more like the innovation is in the tracks this time. I spent a lot of time working with synths and some vocals this time. I was using some new techniques, arpregiators, cranking them through lots of processing, and to me the whole thing feels a lot cleaner and sleeker, way more developed.
You have played in every continent, spanning 100s of clubs. Which club is your favorite to perform at and why?
I get asked that a lot actually. For me it’s more like the locations make the memories. Like playing in South Africa, Australia, Japan, China, or India… These are places I looked at on a map as a kid and hoped I’d get to play there one day. Of course there is always a point on every single trip where I stop and think “Whoa, look at where I am now on the globe, what the hell!”
The Indian techno scene has exploded with some amazing producers. In fact, Octopus Black is set to release Arjun Vagale’s Kempai EP. Tell us how this all happened and what other Indian artists you have your eye on?
Yeah, he’s on fire now! We met at Sonar and then again when I played at Sunburn. We are big fans of the new stuff coming out of India and I think people in Europe are curious. There seems to be a real growing scene and Arjun, Unmute, and Anil, etc are really moving fast! I’d also keep an eye on DJ Aardy. I played with him in Bangkok recently and was very impressed. They seem to have a tight grip on Techno over there and its amazing to see them representing our sound at bigger events now alongside the EDM stuff that sometimes dominates.
Let’s get a bit technical now; what does your current studio setup and your DJ gear look like?
Ok, well in the studio I’m basing everything around Maschine. Its the brain of my studio and feels really natural to me, to make everything on there. It opens plugins directly now so I almost don’t look at my screen much anymore. It enables me to make everything from the drums up to the FX processing in a ‘hands on’ way. In clubs I’m using 4 channels coming from Traktor, with 4 internal FX units. I’m really into chopping up tracks and adding loops and stuff, so this is my perfect setup. My label is releasing loops and production sounds and tools now also, so we are really pushing this new frontier of digital DJIng. It’s crossing over into almost live production territory. It’s very exciting times, being able to use parts of tracks individually on different channels in your sets is something that’s changing how music is played in clubs and I want to use those functions.
The most important advice I could give is to try finding a label that believes in you and has a long-term plan. Most young producers make the classic mistake of releasing too much on too many labels. This dilutes so much of their profile and usually results in their quality control failing. It seems too tempting for young artists to wait and pick the right label. I guess its normal that they jump on first interested party, but if you find a good label they will help you build a career based on a definite plan. We look for some awareness like this in seeking new talent, it’s really important for new guys to be selective. This is how the old big guys did it. Less is more sometimes.
Speaking of Octopus Recordings, you have now started hosting label events, and a merchandising line. What is Octopus Recordings’ next agenda?
Yeah, we have now done label things at ADE, WMC and Sonar, which we will continue every year on these calendar dates. It’s so important to be there and it’s a great opportunity to meet artists we work with, but most importantly to show new fans what we do. We’re planning a big one for ADE next at the moment. We also plan to be at Burning Man and BPM soon. Those are big goals for the next year.
We have started this new line of merchandise. It’s super cool to see people in clubs or around big meet ups like Amsterdam, Barcelona and Miami with Octopus bags etc. Release wise, my own new album “2 meters above midnight” that I mentioned earlier is coming in December. With singles from Kaiserdisco, Jay Lumen, Ambivalent and more due on the label soon too. Another major project for the next while is our radio show, which I record from a different city each week.
Thank you so much for your time! Would you like to say a few words to your fans and followers?
Sure guys, I’d like to say see you soon! I hope to be back in India again at the end of the year. I miss the food and super nice vibes from over there… So you can keep up to date with my adventures on our site Octopusrecordings.com in the meantime, take care folks!
Interviewed by Akshay Bhalla