Swiftly following Nick Warren & Tripswitch’s huge ‘Voight Kampff’ release, the recently launched onedotsixtwo label’s next unique artistic step forward comes in the form of another intensely creative collaborative pairing – Luka Sambe & Filter Bear. As two of Australia’s finest creators of emotional journeys bursting with melody and soul, these rapidly rising stars have created a truly unique and spellbinding experience in ‘Birds Of The Ravine’. This outstanding package is further augmented with an exceptional individual remix interpretation from each artist. When these two collaborate, something uniquely special always seems to flow from their hearts, so we thought it high time DMC caught up with them, to find out mor…
Luka & Filter Bear, a big welcome to DMCWORLD and congratulations on the release of your excellent ‘Birds Of The Ravine’ on Tripswitch’s impressive new onedotsixtwo imprint. The first thing we want to know is what’s the story behind your collaborative project?
LS: From my perspective, ‘Birds Of The Ravine’ was about inviting the listener to feel emotion in a not so direct way. We made a conscious effort to create a story in a way that did not fit the typical mould – it’s about challenging the audience, and this is our attempt at intelligent and mature progressive music.
FB: We made this track with a pretty carefree approach melodically. We didn’t place any set rules or guidelines, besides basically what Luka said – not trying to make something that’s been done before. Based on that, we actually ended up with something that flowed quite nicely and eventually became ‘Birds Of The Ravine’.
Talk us through the making of this new track? How does the creative process work when you’re in the studio together?
LS: It’s definitely always a long journey. I don’t quite remember how this exact project began, but we always take the music in a certain direction, push it, push it a bit more, and then pull it back a bit – a constant ebb and flow of compromise and atmospheres. For me, music has to deliver a certain atmosphere and it should always set a deep scene within you.
FB: The funny thing is, our creative process goes through both tense and very relaxed stages. At first we kind of improvise a few melodic/rhythmic ideas in a chosen direction, but it then quickly escalates to an intense concentration of ideas and sometimes, major roadblocks. A lot of the time after our collaborative studio sessions, we both feel like we’ve travelled to another world and it’s hard to come back down to reality. How did you get involved with Tripswitch’s new onedotsixtwo label?
LS: We’ve always been a big fan of Nick and his music, so when he invited us to do something for one of his labels we knew we had to do it. Finding space in our schedules for the studio time together is always the biggest challenge.
FB: As time goes on, it becomes more and more evident that it’s critical to only work with the right people, who have honest and true intentions. Nick is certainly a man of this nature and someone who’s an absolute pleasure to work with. Albeit a young label, when it’s run by honest, passionate and (most importantly) talented people, only good things can come of it.
For anyone not familiar with your music, how would you describe your style? Can you put your finger on the elements of your music that makes it so distinctive and engaging?
LS: I find it extremely difficult to describe our style, but I would like to think it combines melody, soul, emotion and energy with a slightly ethnic and tribal twist. I also think our music can be quite cinematic which I find very engaging.
FB: Luka sums it up very nicely. The only thing I would add is that we try to constantly surprise the listener with something unusual. Subconsciously we always try to avoid making boring records.
Great music is often described as being “timeless” – is this a concept that you can relate to?
LS: I can relate to it, yes, but it’s not something in our minds as we create. We just love to produce music that excites us and sends chills up our spine.
FB: I can certainly relate to it. I personally believe music means different things to each individual, so a bad song or composition to one can be a timeless piece to another. Therefore, it’s all in your personal perception. No one can truly dictate what “timeless” is!
Is defining music by its genre useful or limiting?
LS: I think it’s limiting. It’s helpful when shopping on Beatport, but apart from that I don’t think it’s necessary.
FB: It’s purely functional. Just like defining food by cuisine. At the end of the day it’s all one thing in many variations. It’s only limiting in my opinion when people start to define themselves or their style by genre. I think if used purely functionally, it does help to be more accurate in what the listener is after.
Do you find it easy to express your deepest emotions when you play and make music, or is this something that finds an outlet only in certain, special moments?
LS: Music is definitely the most powerful medium around to both express and feel emotion. It’s a wild beast that cannot be tamed. I find you truly have to work with it. If I try and pigeonhole emotions, then the beast will always get the better of me. Sometimes emotions come out that are not intended, you have to work with them, you have to bring out the best in them. At times it can be incredibly difficult, and other times it can almost feel too easy. The really special moments are few and far between, but I guess that’s what makes them so special.
FB: This is a very tricky question… Finding it easy is probably not the way I’d put it. When I create music, the “creation” process sometimes actually happens faster than I can feel any emotion, if that makes sense? What I then end up with is something that reflects my subconscious feelings through the music I’ve created. Then if you work back, it does end up being “emotional” music. The whole process is so complicated, foreign and hard to pinpoint, that it’s difficult to formulate into cohesive words, I find. In saying all that though, there’s certainly, more often than not, moments of not much emotion at all – simply hard work or a mental grind to get some decent ideas out on the table.
Which of your tracks do you consider to be your most accomplished creation to date? Why?
LS: Our most accomplished collaboration, in my opinion, would be ‘Close To Home’.
FB: Hard to pick one, but it has to be ‘Hebe XVI’, for me. Not necessarily the most complex piece, but the most beautiful in my opinion.
What piece of studio equipment could you not live without?
FB: My Dynaudio monitors – I can’t complete a track without testing it 1000’s of times on these!
Let’s rewind for a moment, what are your earliest musical memories?
LS: Blasting Ace Of Bass on my parents’ stereo and scratching their 12-inch ABBA vinyl until they came chasing after me to stop.
FB: My parents playing Russian pop music in the house, followed by dancing to the ‘Lambada’ as a little stupid kid.
What was it like growing up in Australia?
LS: Unbelievably good. We are so blessed to have been born and raised in such a beautiful country.
FB: Having moved to Australia at the age of 10 from Russia, I was old enough to appreciate the amazing country that is now my home. We have the perfect balance of culture, nature, people and diversity.
At what point did you get into DJing and producing? Who/what have been big influences in your music career so far?
LS: The production seed was planted inside me at around the age of 14, through the PlayStation game ‘Music 2000’. I was hooked from that moment. DJing naturally soon followed and I found myself DJing most weekends at birthday house parties etc. It was a really fun time with some really cheesy music! I listen to a lot of soundtrack music, so people like Hans Zimmer inspire me. I also love that really tribal and ethnic style of house music, so I look up to artists like Michel Cleis. I’m also absolutely obsessed with melodies that defy the English language, so legends such as Guy J, Joris Voorn and Robert Babicz, have all had a big impact on my sound.
FB: I started getting very intrigued by the hip-hop mixtapes and mash-up mixes I was hearing during High School, which prompted me to download ‘Virtual DJ’ on my PC to try and emulate what I was hearing. Not long after, I discovered Ableton and started off by chopping up vocals and making very basic mash-ups. The production bug kind of just grew from there. The DJing followed naturally as I started attending festivals, club nights etc. – I couldn’t stay away from this world! As I look back, the people who’ve influenced my music career so far have been artists that have maintained a steady level of success over a number of years. Joris Voorn, Eric Prydz, Luciano, Sasha and Guy J have all had their unique sound, style, persona and aura, that can’t be replicated. Whether they’re DJs or producers, they’ve managed to avoid the lures of pure commercialism and have stuck to their musical beliefs. Artists like them are proof of what can be achieved through pure talent, consistency and passion for their art.
Having witnessed the evolution of the underground scene in your hometown of Sydney, what’s your assessment of things now? Is the scene healthy? What could improve it?
LS: I would say it’s quite healthy, it’s still a small scene but it’s in good shape with passionate people and good music. The laws that we’re governed by could definitely improve it, but that’s an argument for another day.
FB: Agree with Luka – our scene has very unique and special elements, for sure, but if you compare to other parts of the world, we have a HUGE way to go (which is potential for a better future I guess!)
From an insider’s point of view, what places in Sydney should a visiting electronic music fan check out?
LS: Any night put on by the Motif crew is always great, with a nice selection of touring artists.
FB: SASH is a party that’s been going 7 years strong in Sydney and consistently packs out two of Sydney’s best venues every Sunday (both day & night). Their line-ups are pretty much always stellar as well – both local and international talent.
Where have you played recently? And, what new places are you looking forward to experiencing? Will we see you over in Europe soon?
LS: Our most recent gig was in Sydney, a 3-hour back-to-back set at Slyfox in front of friends and family. It was a really special night and one I’ll remember forever. I’m looking forward to experiencing international gigs, that’s certainly on my radar and something I have to achieve as an artist. I’m ready for Europe, so yes, hopefully you will see us there soon.
FB: I have to mirror Luka’s words about the recent gig in Sydney – that was truly memorable. 3 hours in an intimate setting, in front of our closest friends and supporters, was incredibly special. As far as new places, I certainly want to one day visit and play in South America – the stories and passion I hear are like nothing else. Europe is also high on the priority list, so it shouldn’t be too long before we get over there.
If you could play for a whole night with any DJ (ever), who would be at the top of your wish list?
LS: That’s an impossible question to answer… Andre Lodemann comes to mind.
FB: I would pick someone who’s known to do the all-nighters… Sasha… Sven Vath would also be amazing (and certainly different!)
After this impressive release on onedotsixtwo, what new projects should we watch out for?
LS: We have a collaborative EP coming out on Manjumasi next month, which we are really excited about.
FB: The Manjumasi EP will certainly get people curious, as the music is quite a departure from our recent sounds. Really looking forward to this one.
Any other Australian artists that we should be keeping an eye on?
LS: Matter & GMJ are always producing really beautiful and intelligent atmospheric music.
FB: YokoO (who lived in Sydney for a while) is an amazing producer and DJ.
And finally, what’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
LS: The most unique thing you can do as an artist is to be your complete self.
FB: Talent is fully wasted if it’s not methodically put to work daily. Also, finish your music projects, even if they’re not perfect. Never leave things half done.
Thanks for having us DMC!
Luka Sambe & Filter Bear – Birds Of The Ravine (onedotsixtwo) ODST0004