New York has long been a fertile breeding ground when it comes to electronic music. The list of artists to have emerged from the city is legendary in proportion, and it keeps churning out new talents at a rate that few other global cities can match. One such artist who’s recently arrived on our radar is Beartrax. The owner of the absolutely killer Melodize label, his releases have only come about the last few years, but are nonetheless imbued with a quality that belies his relatively short stint in the release game. Not just promising sounding, they’re also seriously assured and speak of a man who’s really hit on a rich, flavoursome and all-round discerning sound. We decided to check in with him for a quick natter recently, touching on everything from his clubbing history to his day job as a lawyer to his future plans for Melodize…
How are you, what’s good and bad in your world right now? What’s keeping you busy outside of music?
It’s been interesting to say the least- I don’t think anybody could have predicted this but here we are.. It’s been a pretty busy time for me honestly. I took it as an opportunity to really buckle down and work on the label as well as my own production and DJing. Having all of this extra time indoors has been a bit of a gift in that sense, and I’ve been able to knock out tons of work. I’m also fortunate to have a day job working as a lawyer and that’s kept me super busy as well. Not having to commute 1.5-2 hours every day has allowed me to get much more work done, so all things considered I’ve been doing pretty well. I miss going to parties/concerts more than anything, but I’ve taken the circumstances as a challenge to find inspiration in other ways and keep creating.
As an American, how influential was your country on your sound? What clubs, parties, and DJs influenced you to start DJing and producing?
So many amazing nights to pick from. The first one and most formative for sure was actually the first time I set foot in a club- I was studying abroad in Paris in 2011 and I went to Rex Club one night. I had no idea who was playing or what I was getting myself into, but I came out with my life changed. There was a M_nus label showcase that night with Troy Pierce and Barem headlining, and they absolutely crushed it. I’d never heard techno before and my mind was totally blown- I got a copy of Ableton not long after that and the rest was history.Seeing Extrawelt at Shelter in Amsterdam last year was a great experience too. That, like Rex Club, is a medium-sized, dark, intimate room and seeing my all-time favorite artists in that setting was a real experience. I’d say Panorama Bar was also a highlight as well- there’s nothing like hearing some new wave/synth pop while the sun’s coming in through the windows in the morning after a few hours of thumping house. I definitely gained a lot of inspiration from having the pleasure of dancing there.
Did you get to experience the halcyon days of NYC clubbing? Is that something you’d have loved to have been a part of?
No, Limelight, Twilo, Studio 54, Paradise Garage Can you tell us a bit about your favourite gig of all time?
What made it so special and what are the ingredients that make up a good night do you think?
House of Yes closing after Oliver Koletzki
You’ve enlisted the brilliant Carl Finlow for your latest release. What made you want Carl to remix your music?
Thanks! I first discovered Carl’s Random Factor work- he is so talented and has put out so much good stuff over the years on multiple aliases. I really like his melodic, musical take on electro which is why I thought he’d be a good fit on the label. He banged out an excellent remix and basically took all of the musical, acoustic parts of my track and recreated them into electronic parts which I thought was super cool.
Tell us a bit about Melodize. What motivated you to start it up? Do you make yourself goals with the label in terms of who you want to work with and where you want to be?
Thank you, glad you enjoy them. Per the name of the label, I’m in love with melodic music- I go after artists whose music is generally melodic and musical. This is due to my background as a violinist and having played in orchestras and bands growing up. I like to have people on the label who are musicians as well as a result. I really liked the remixers I had this year from John Tejada and Clarian to Lauer, Fort Romeau and Carl. I have some in the works for next year too that I’m super excited about.
Have you got to experience any socially distanced gigs etc? What are your thoughts on them?What’s been the most challenging aspect in terms of finding your sound do you think?
Thank you. I think Ethereal was a breakthrough in my sound and really represents the straightforward, honest, melodic aggression that I’m trying to express in my music. I think the violin solo fit well in the track too and that laying back in the beginning and letting the arpeggios set the tone for the rest of the solo was a good approach. Music has been therapeutic for sure- as I mentioned previously, being able to indulge in my passions has been a great way to spend all of this extra time cooped up indoors and I’ve just taken it as an opportunity to be productive with all of the extra time.
Can you tell us a bit about what’s more in the pipeline for Melodize and 2021?
I’ve taken the total opposite strategy of releasing quality over quantity- when I was coming up and releasing music on labels I too often saw labels release way too much mediocre music and not put much effort into promoting the releases only to see all of the releases get lost in the massive pile of digital music. A big reason why I decided to start my own label was because I wanted to make every release special and give them the care they deserve. As such, I’m only putting out about 4 records a year, or one record about every 3 months. With all the effort I’m putting behind each release, that’s plenty and I think it gives each release a shot to shine.
How have you managed to stay positive of late? Has music been therapeutic for you in that regard?
I think that this time has reinforced my perspective on life in that I know I’m doing what I love and appreciate the opportunity to spend my time every day on my passions of law and music.
Can you tell us 5 pieces of music/literature/cinema etc that’s helped you over the past while?
Borat 2. Lots of Italo Disco. Documentaries on NYC Clubbing, Party Monster Limelight
Beartrax’s Dream Riff EP (featuring a remix by Carl Finlow) is out 27/11 via Beartrax’s Melodize label.