Balance Selections 067: DEMI
One of the more celebrated releases in the Balance canon is the 13th edition mixed in 2008, compiled by a trio of artists collectively known as SOS: Desyn Massielo, Omid 16B and Demi.
Inspired by the music dexterity and skill from music greats such as Laurent Garnier and Danny Tenaglia, to the mixing artistry of pioneers like Sasha and John Digweed, both technique and selection go hand in hand for Demi. Recordings and experimental jam sessions alongside prolific and respected deep house producer Omid 16B as part of the SOS collective, lead to Demi’s own development in the studio and ensured his production accelerated to the next level. (Several of those session productions were debuted on the acclaimed Ministry of Sound presents SOS – The Club compilation in 2010)
Demi also received engineer credits on the Balance 25 compilation release by Danny Tenaglia who at the last minute whilst on tour in the UK, was called upon to sit in a session to help complete the project. On the 10th year anniversary of Balance 13 mixed by SOS, we have managed to catch up with DEMI (one third of SOS) for a chat and an exclusive podcast.
Balance Selections Q+A
ASOY / Wood Drift
Labels affiliated with:
Secret Music / Techfui / KMS Records
My last 3 releases:
What music did you listen too as a child?
A lot of time during my childhood years was spent hanging with my cousins. We were a large family but we were all very close to each other and probably the most standout pieces of music I can remember us all growing up to were albums by George Michael and in particular Michael Jackson.
My Mum’s brother was also a frequent visitor at the house when we were kids and often stayed over extended periods of time. I always saw him as the cool Uncle within our family. He had a razor sharp tongue and engaging personality never mind a super cool ear for music too which mostly consisted of a lot of soul, classic funk and disco. There was also a stash of records left in our garage that were left there from a club another extended family member was running called RIFLES back in the 80’s. Anything from the mainstream pop sounds of the 80’s by the likes of Sinita, Cathy Dennis, Samantha Fox to Fatback Band, Parliament, Kym Mazelle and Prince were records and treasures there waiting to be absorbed by my curious little music mind at the time.
When was the first time that you realized that you liked electronic music?
During my mid teens. Growing up through my senior school years was a tough gig for most of us and it was no different for me. I was a 90’s kid and during that time there were two music explosions happening and in our school, it felt like there were two clear music camps that had formed. One one side you had all the long, curtain hair looking kids into the indie/heavy metal sounds the likes of Oasis/Blur/Nirvana/Guns & Roses and Metallica. On the other side you then had the dudes who were into the more hardcore and jungle sounds.. I say dudes as I was in an all boys school for my entire school life. Not cool!!
I was the odd one stuck in between both sides as my tastes leant more to the funk, soul and early swing-beat and hip hop sounds. But I was always listening and absorbing everything all around me anyway. For me I always stood by the notion that a track is either good or not regardless of the style and vibe it creates. So through my friends who were into the more hardcore and rave sounds, it was acts like the Prodigy, Orbital, early Chemical Brothers, Underworld and Shy FX which began to engage me more into the more electronic sounds. Then Ibiza happened in 1997 The sound of Armand Van Helden and following shortly after that seeing Daft Punk live at the Southampton Guildhall where I had just begun my university degree flipped the script for me after that.
When was the first time you saw a DJ in a club?
I wasn’t really paying attention to the DJ’s when we went out clubbing. Not many of us at the time were to be honest. It was more about the experience of going out with your mates, meeting new people, and dancing and pilling your nuts off on the dance floor. If I had to remember the first DJ though I guess it was Graham Gold – Peach at the Camden Palace in Camden Town. Goooooood times
Which producers/artists/acts inspire you?
The most singular inspiration back then, now and even in his untimely death and beyond is PRINCE. And my first real introduction to him was his double album Sign of the Times.
That album made me realise there were no barriers involved to what could be musically possible and has influenced me for better and for worse in my own musical output. I say worse because my ideas and styles just flow at times all over the place and at times lacks the consistency sometimes needed.
But Sign of the Times had it all. From synth-drums on the Lim Drum to meta-funk explorations with psychedelia that were effortlessly exhibited by his masterful use of the CMI Fairlight Sampler to rock-guitar heroics and mainstream pop. The most bizarre thing about how that album was put together was because of an artist disagreement with his label Warner Bros about a triple pack album he had intended to put out called ‘ The Crystal Ball’.
As a result, he had to scale down and in turn, ‘Sign of the Times’ was stitched together consisting of songs he had composed dating as far back 1982.
I can thankfully say I lived through this period of time when he was alive and I was fortunate enough to see him play live on many occasions in venues as large as Koko in Camden here in London, to the more intimate setting of Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club. Nobody had come with that level of impact since Jimi Hendrix..
Michael Jackson you can almost put in that category. But like Jimi, Prince was miles ahead of the pack. He was such an all round musical genius but with such showmanship, who literally had the whole package. I don’t know if we will ever see the likes of him again. IN later years what I seemed to take inspiration from him more then anything was his fight for controlling how his music was released and distributed. More then ever artists need to take ownership of their own body of work and realise now that there are the tools and means to be the master of your destiny.
What was the last album that you downloaded/bought?
An electronic album of club tracks by Cedric Dekowski & Felix Reifenberg and it’s simply called L’Album on the HardworkSoftDrink imprint from Frankfurt.
I lived in Paris for around 9 months last year and came out from my time there super inspired and musically replenished. I had befriended a super cool cat there in the city called Dawidu who runs a great record shop there called Te Lubesc & Sapology, located slightly east of the city. It’s a brilliant record store and social spot for fashion, arts and with super friendly vibes there if you are passing through. I owe this guy a great deal of gratitude as he welcomed me in and helped introduce me to some cool cats in the city who were throwing their own underground parties. What impressed me especially was all of them were clearly very meticulous with their DJ’ing skills and music selection. One such guy was Felix Dulac. A young kid but with bags of energy and enthusiasm and so in tune with the music he loved to push. He has a super cool music basement room with decks and had rows of records and would frequently throw intimate afterparties there too which was always an ‘experience’ into the morning hours.
I spent one afternoon at his place ‘chilling’ and he pulled out a test pressing that he was playing which was a double pack vinyl of this album. Turns out he had invited Cedric and Felix over to Paris to play a gig with them and invited them back to the basement for an impromptu afters as well that went on for 20 odd hours.
I had to fish it out on discogs shortly after. Glad to say it’s fetching quite a bit now if you look. Frankfurt has always had a rich history of club culture and dance music and these guys are typical of the current new wave of crews who continue to push this forward. One of their tracks called ‘Fingatoes‘ is featured on this Balance mix.
What is your current production and DJ set up like?
My Dj set up has remained the same the last few years. Playing via USB stick and if the clubs can install adequate facilities to play vinyl, then I’ll always bring a bag with me too. I’m now trying to migrate my music files into Rekordbox and it seems to be taken forever to fully integrate the capabilities of that software. I think the process might speed up considering the rate at which I’m losing my USB sticks!!!
Regarding my studio set up, I have just finished a revised and improved work flow and pretty happy with how the current set up now sits. Its a hybrid of hardware toys all finally working together in sync with some external sound modules alongside Ableton Live with Push 2 as well.
I’m a big fan of the old Electrix sound modules. I use the MO-FX one on most of my productions at the moment and on the look out for the filter FX (Green) one which I hear is mean and was a favourite with a lot of DJ Sneak productions. I recently acquired the SH01A which is a boutique version of the iconic SH101 – Since I refuse to pay the obscene rate they are going for these days, this was the next best alternative and it is as good to be honest with you.
At the heart of most of my work at the moment is the SY1 – Syncussion – This is an absolute beast of a toy that conjures up these wonderfully weird bubble bass sounds that is just an instant vibe starter. It’s a staple amongst some of my favourites producers like Martin Buttrich and Frank Wiedemann from Âme.
What releases do you have on the horizon?
I’m excited to finally release the debut EP under my ASOY guise with SLF who’s not only a brilliant and warm soul but one hell of a gifted producer as well who is based in Berlin now and doing some very cool modular performance based work now. He came on board the latter stages of the process, initially for the mix down but instead we ended up making it a full blown collaboration. One of many to come. Rumbleface which features on the Between the Beat EP is featured in this mix.
A track called ‘Coffee in Karthadastim’ has been finished off and signed to Rui da SIlva’s Kismet label. This is another one of a few collaborations I’ve enjoyed of late. This was testing the waters with a great friend of mine from Colombia and Toronto called RASEC a few years ago and expect a release some time the end of the summer with this.
A remix under my Wood Drift guise called ‘1532‘ by Lebanese based producer Diamond Setter will feature on a Various Artists compilation for a cool tech house and techno sound label called Techfui. This is exclusively showcased in the Balance mix and will be out late summer time.
And finally there’s a cheeky cover of ‘Papa New Guinea‘ that’s been passed onto some of the high profile DJ’s in Ibiza that you might be hearing about very soon too
Where can we hear you perform?
www.demidjmusic.com for any dates forthcoming. And the occasional impromptu gig through my Instagram channel is where they tend to get announced – @demi_eyetone
Tell us more about the podcast you made for Balance?
The general feeling of the mix is something sonically chilled for the mind that I wanted to deliver which has been a little reflective of my mood in recent years as I start to feel a little more comfortable once more with my own skin and with a tinge of that laissez-faire attitude to boot as well. I think that may have been due to my time in Paris a little bit as well. I wanted to keep the mood fairly light paced throughout. A soundtrack for the daytime than so much for the night, especially the morning hours where I think the music can take on a more profound meaning and significance.
It’s not a club mix but there are some club sounding tracks sprinkled throughout. The rough playlist was put together then mixed on my XDJ-RX2 unit the day before submission. I’m sure many can relate when I say the ideas start to flow out best when there is that little bit of time pressure applied and this was no different.
The mix features in total 4 contributions from myself, 2 of which are original and 2 which are remixes to come out. There is a never before heard rework of a track I made called ‘Cactus‘ which came out as the first release on my Eyetone imprint. It was also featured back in 2011 on my compilation album Sounds of Alola Volume 2 (https://open.spotify.com/album/3q5z0JGyI6TZpEUvZm3hsi) as the encore track which was listed as a SexonSubstance track
As this mix was concluding ‘Cactus‘ came up as a random shuffle play selection which did spook me a little but bizarrely enough seemed a perfect fit in one of the transitions. Music never lies does it !!!
The original intention was to release this as part of a collection of SOS material years back when Omid 16B and I were working out of a professional mastering studio we were renting. ‘Cactus‘ was reworked by Omid first but for now it remains in the vault as does a fair few other unreleased projects.
One notable mention is the inclusion of a remix under my Wood Drift guise called ‘Static Travel‘. It was a total pleasure to work on this and is by a brilliant producer and musician called Ski Oakenfull. He was a session player for Incognito during their touring days and now is one of the leading mentors and tutors at the Point Blank Masterclass courses that happen here in London. This remix has been sitting on the shelf for about 5-6 years now and who knows if and when it might see the light of day – I’m a firm believer in time putting things right eventually and that the most important thing for me as an artist is to simply keep creating and keep stimulating my soul in this way.
Finally a mention of also a private rework of one of my favourite ever Prince songs which seems to have an eerie resonance now more then ever with his lyrics. IF you could speak from the grave, these words would pretty much be the gospel. Originally remixed by the brilliant William Orbit and in fact slayed typically by Prince himself.
I hope you dig the whole story of the mix weird and wonderful people of the world x
The top track in my DJ wallet currently is:
This is just something that remained in my wallet for 6 months now and has delivered overtime when I’ve dropped it. A banger but with a bit more substance than most generic nonsense out there.
If I could recommend only one of my tracks for you to listen to it would be:
Rumbleface that comes out next month on Secret Music – I’ve not made anything else that sounds like this and very proud of it.
If I could recommend only one track for you to listen to it would be:
Cool, smooth and for your number one girl by David Essex called ROCK ON
My favourite Balance compilation is:
Balance 013. A little biased maybe. But 10 years on and it still gets me. A lot of those progressive sounds seem to be cropping up more and more in DJ’s playlists these last few years. Disc One is one of those desert island top 3 possessions.
The last movie I watched that I really liked:
Zero Theorem – Christopher Waltz at his genius best
My favourite TV show:
Eastbound & Down. Another Will Ferrell classic
If I could choose anyone to compile a Balance comp it would be:
I would love to see Fred P put one together. Having been a long standing admirer of all his studio output, I had the opportunity to catch him play live in Paris at the Rex club during a period of time I spent living there.
The man for me is one inspirational mofo.
1. Oberg Aman – Syncronicity
2. Cedric Dekowski & Felix Reifenberg – Fingatoes [Hardworksoftrink]
3. unknown – On the Pulse
4. Dark Matrix – Date 06 (BEAT) [Childhood Intelligence]
5. Soultek – Lighter Path [Fortune8]
6. ASOY & SLF – Rumbelface [Secret Music]
7. Diamond Setter – 1532 (Wood Drift Sunrise Mix) [Techfui]
8. Mount Kimbie – ‘Blue Train Lines’ ft. King Krule (Nina Kraviz Tool 2) [Warp Records]
9. DEMI – Cactus (Omid 16B Remix) Unreleased
10. Dark Matrix – Data 06 [Childhood Intelligence]
11. Prince – Future (William Orbit Remix / DEMI Rework) [Warner Bros]
12. Ayota – Static Travel (ASOY Sunrise Remix) [Primaudial]