WHP FEATURE 028
WAZE & ODYSSEY
WAZE & ODYSSEY
Waze & Odyssey have managed the trickiest of feats. Having released the career-altering-ly massive Bump n Grind remix back in 2014, they refused to be defined by a single song. Where less self-possessed producers may have caved into pressure and followed up Bump n Grind with a series of ever diminishing copies, Waze & Odyssey turned off down a leftfield route, firing out wonky disco and deep house for a plethora of labels, and releasing countless underground bombs on their own W&O Street Tracks imprint. And now five years into their career, they’re looking to the future more than ever… What are you guys are up to at the moment?
Firas- We’re in Serge’s studio, just getting our head down and trying to finish up some music Remixes or originals?
Firas - Originals. We’ve got some stuff signed off; there’s a release coming out on Edible in January, and we’ve got a Metronomy remix coming out soon. We’re just planning for next year really. We’ve had a couple of tracks that we’re just getting finalised now. You’ve been together for five years now – where do you feel your sounds going?
Firas - We’ve not really approached it any differently at any point – the inspiration comes from the synthesisers we’ve been buying, the drum machines we’ve been buying. I think our early stuff was, if anything more varied. We did quite a few different tracks, if you look at the back catalogue it was kind of ‘something for everyone’, we had a lot of hits in different areas.
Serge – the sound is going to evolve into whatever we want to evolve it into. I like where it’s going at the moment, it’s quite plain and simple, and quite raw. It’s naturally moving.
Firas – If you think that when we started we were writing on computers and now we’ve moved out into writing on the Bassbot clone and the 808, the TR-09, the Juno 60, it’s given us a different way to write. You write so differently when you’re using a drum machine and a 303 emulator, your writing skills and the way you approach making music totally change. That’s been quite fun to explore, we’ve enjoyed pushing it and not staying in our lane with how we work. It’s time consuming and frustrating, but we definitely see it as a good experience to broaden our horizons. We see it as a bit wanky to say that it’s a journey – everyone has that, they start off in a certain way and move on – we’re generally always four/four kick and club orientated, but different influences come into play at different times, like if we may like a sound we're toying with because we had been listening to disco records or a funk record. All the pieces of kit you listed there were absolute classics, but are there any new pieces of hardware you like?
Firas – Well we’ve been messing around on the TR09 today and that’s been fun.
Serge – I’m very much a lover of old stuff, although modern plug ins I do like –FM8 or Massive or stuff like that, they always play a huge part in what we do. It’s kind of having vintage sounds on top of modern dance music
Firas – We use Maschine quite a lot, and we just got Maschine Jam which has been interesting. Combining the old and the new is the one; you can learn from both and mould the two, forming something brand new. It generally comes down to what works for the individual. Talking of mixing the old with the new, you had such a monstrous hit with the R. Kelly remix, and that’s a couple of years in the past now, do you feel like you’re finally coming out from under its shadow?
Serge – I think so. We have enough respect for that record doing what it did, we’re really glad for it and it took us to places we couldn’t dream of, but now it’s about setting the tone of what we want to achieve for the rest of our careers. Firas - It was a bit of a weird occurrence, and it almost got bigger than we could control. It got to the point where we had to release it because there were labels out there that were trying to copy it. It came down to the fact that we knew someone was going to re-do it, and re-sing it, so we felt like we had to put it out. We were very strict in how we put it out in regards to not changing any of it; it had to be the same record that people had heard already with no extra vocal s on top or changes. The way it went, it was a very scary time, but the feedback. We could tell when we first started playing it in the sets that it was huge – it was actually at Warehouse Project when it got played by Skream in the Main Room, and Horse Meat Disco played it in the third room. It seems crazy to think now that Horse Meat Disco were playing it
Firas - Well we’re good friends with Severino, and when it first came out people were like, ‘what’s that record’. Naturally DJs tend to move away from stuff that’s really popular because they want to base their sets around music which people haven’t heard and that’s fair enough – but it was quite a nice combination really, Skream and Horse Meat.
Serge – The thing with a record like that is that it can be a bit of a career killer if you don’t write anything else afterwards. What we did, is we knew that, so we started getting into the studio heavily and writing music that was away from that. I think we’ve written quite a good palette of music now, moving forward there’s plenty more to come, it’s not like it’s dried up, if anything our ideas have got better, and our drive to move forward and past that point is stronger. The goals we’ve set ourselves to see what labels we can get on our still there. Do you think the fact you both had some experience before the Bump n Grind remix meant that you were more able to deal with its success than if it had happened when you were just starting out?
Both - Yes
Serge – I think the pressure would have got to us both.
Firas – We’d released quite a lot of stuff before that. It came out in 2014 and took 6 months at least for the record to get going. We were lucky because we’d released a couple of EPs and got to play A fair few gigs at some really cool spots around Europe and the states, but it was a scary time. You don’t want to be known for one track, but there was a back catalogue before, so people knew there was more to us. There are some acts out there that just make that one track.
Serge – It wasn’t like, oh shit what do we do now?! We moved on.
Firas – You’re always gonna get a percentage of people who come for the record, but the fans we’ve got tend to be really appreciative of where we’ve got to and where we have come from. There was one guy who said ‘oh why don’t you play Bump n Grind’, and someone else turned round and said ‘because this is 2016’ which was quite funny, and quite nice to see that people have that awareness. I mean it’s not a bad thing – I think the dance music industry can sometimes be scared of the mainstream, but essentially you have to think of yourself as competing against guitar music and X Factor, and if you can get people excited and into dance music at an entry level – and we’ve all been there – then that’s a good thing. True. So I’m interested if you play your own tunes out – I know a lot of DJs tend not to.
Serge – Oh we definitely. Play our stuff out. It’s a real key point. It’s the sound you put out, and people want to see you play that kind of music. We keep it as fresh as possible coswe’re always writing. But to not play it would be a bit of a diss towards the people who’ve come to see you play. I think some people just can’t handle hearing their own tunes anymore-
Serge – And there’s the huge fear that if they see something they’ve written bomb it’s a massive kick, but that goes down to experience and age as well; I’ve seen tracks just not work at all, but that’s inspired me to go back to the drawing board and work harder as a producer, so when you do get it right it’s an even better feeling. And hearing your tunes on the huge speakers is amazing – we’ve only got little ones in the studio.
Firas – We like to think of ourselves as DJs as well. There’s a lot of people who are better suited to production work, but we came into this as DJs, so it’s good for us to give a taste of our record collections and what we vibe off as well as our own stuff. It’s a balance really. What’s going on with the Street Tracks label at the moment?
Firas - We’ve just had an Autumn sampler come out, that felt a like really solid release. We’ve also just signed something from Ted Ramsey from Sheffield which I think has shown a little more of the intention of the label, and the diversity we’re going for- we’re not just wanting to be so straight down the line clubby. We had a really good release with a guy called Lancelot – he did an EP and the track Mover got picked up by XL Recordings, and did well on Spotify, Bicep supported it – that was a really nice turning point, it gave us confidence with the label to do what we wanted and to take even bigger risks. How are you finding stuff for the label? Do people send you tracks?
Serge - One or two. We got lucky recently, obviously a lot of work goes into the number of messages you get sent of stuff you’re just not into, but one guy did get in touch recently whose music is great, we’re releasing something from him next year. Generally though it’s through friends putting us onto stuff. Coming up we’ve got something from Cozzy D, he’s picking up a lot of heat, and Citizenn is coming back again. Also got EPs from Krywald & Farrer & Mella Dee, it feels good. We’re looking forward to getting it to a hundred releases. Finally, Serge did you do a remix of a Stephanie Mills track about 10 years ago?
Serge – Yeah, the Purple EP. Do you know what, you’re the second person to ask me about that in a week. No one asked me about in years and now two people in a week. There’s a guy called Dave Phillips who used to be resident at Space and now he’s doing some parties again, and he’s asked me to send all of the edits I did years ago- including that one. I was like Jesus I don’t know if I could even find the files again. It’s raw in a nutshell that record is.
Waze & Odyssey play the Ants show at Store Street, December 2nd