Cleveland-born producer and DJ Dan Curtin is one of the key figures shaping the Midwest Techno scene. He founded the label Metamorphic to mainly give new talents an outlet for their music. While continuing to support this scene and over 70 singles and 9 albums later, Curtin follows his passion for hip hop, funk and soul releases new music under one of his his many aliases such as Purveyors of Fine Funk. His refusal to lock himself into one style as well as his ability to collaborate with artists from a variety of genres has helped him to maintain his status as a legend.
Currently based in Berlin, his essentials are a genuine selection of items that portray his roots and source of inspiration to keep going – “When the music stops your mind and body return to the world of the sentient but you never forget your Origins.” said the press release of his “Origins” EP which was released under his alias Planetary 25 years ago. The re-mastered reissue was just released on Metamorphic.
1. SUNGLASSES (MYKITA, CHECK HERE): Sunglasses. Needed when there is light. Not sun, but light. Can’t leave home without them.
2. CRAFT BEER (STONE BREWING BERLIN , CHECK HERE):Really good, small run, independently run breweries producing excellent beer. Beer is one of my 4 vices and one of the two that I can mention socially.
3. LIFTING BELT (MY PROTEIN, CHECK HERE): Protects and supports the lower back. Heavy lifting and the gym in general is a daily must. It’s the one hour a day that I can truly escape and not think about anything at all.
4. SAMPLER AND SEQUENCER (OCTATRACK, CHECK HERE): It’s become my main sampler and the heart and brains of my live show. The possibilities for live sample mangling are endless and it works in a really intuitive way once you’ve finished banging your head against the desk for a year trying to understand it!
5. VINTAGE RECORDS (MY COLLECTION): It’s where I go to for pure listening, where I go to for sampling and all of my favorite music is to be found there. It’s travelled the world with me and it’s a life long project – the digging never stops.
UK-based artist Max Cooper merges electronic music, visual art and science through installations, live audio-visual and immersive sound experiences. Growing up, he pursued both of his passions – music and science, earning a PhD in computational biology. His background and education seems to now influence his creative process. Cooper shares that his projects start with an abstract idea / concept first which he explores further to make them tangible as well as relatable. His label “Mesh” is an embodiment of these passions and an outlet for music which is part of wider collaborations in the arts and sciences.
Following the successful multi-media “Emergence” album and tour, this year he released his third album “One Hundred Billion Sparks” with an all new and evolved 270 immersive audio-visual shows – a light field installation of countless shimmering points, hovering overhead the audience, creating 3-dimensional moving forms in sync with music. Experience the next one at Funkhaus in Berlin.
1. FLIGHT ESSENTIALS (A PERSONAL COLLECTION): This is my flight essentials pouch to cover the travel basics I need to maintain good vibes despite nasty turbulence, screaming babies, boredom, hang over, or any of the other common travel ailments.
Firstly there’s the noise cancelling headphones which allow me to work, particularly on low frequencies, despite the engine rumble, then there’s a few really handy headphone connectors – a splitter to share if I’m with a friend, a flight adaptor for those old style headphone sockets on flights which need two inputs, and most importantly, an attenuator: you know when you’re watching a movie and dosing off on a flight and suddenly there’s an announcement from the pilot waaay too loud in comparison to your film audio?….get the attenuator in there, turn up the film audio and turn down the level with the attenuator, so that any announcements are nice and quiet and you can maintain your zen.
Also in the pouch, backup movies and music on USB, spare earbuds cut in half for sleeping on, and painkillers plus diazepam for long-haul knock outs, waking up at the other end B.A. Baracus style.
2. SNACKS (RANDOM COLLECTION):Emergency stroopwafel and gummibärchen for the moments when I’m lost in the wilderness on tour and have no sustenance. These should give me a couple of days walking energy to escape most foreseeable disaster situations.
3. EARPLUGS (NO BRAND): Spare earplugs for noisy raves when I lose my proper moulded plugs. Earplugs are so easy to lose, drop them once in a dark club and they’re gone. So backups are very useful to save my already battered ear drums. Also I often end up giving them to my friends who come out unprepared for the audio barrage, when we’re lucky enough to get it in the places that aren’t so tight on their decibel monitoring.
4. BOOK (A BEAUTIFUL QUESTION, CHECK HERE): I have to admit I’ve been carrying this book around for some time, as you can see by the weathered cover. Over the past couple of years I’ve discovered that science audiobooks are perfect for travelling, allowing me to still learn something when I’m too tired to read on tour, and their narratives are forgiving to the odd doze off too. But this book is something special, and wasn’t available on audiobook format, so I’ve persevered. It’s about whether nature, fundamentally, embodies beauty.
Researchers often talk about using beauty and aesthetic judgements in guiding their paths towards discovering laws of nature. And that’s more or less the focus of my approach to music videos and live AV shows in the opposite direction, where I try to use nature and its embodiment in natural laws to provide something beautiful for us to look at.
So a great book to read, written by a Nobel prize winner no less. Other recent books of note would be Antonio Damasio’s “The Strange Order of Things”, and Peter Hoffman’s “Life’s Ratchet”.
5. ELECTRICAL TAPE (SCAPA, CHECK HERE): Boring yeah, but this can save me from all the music going off mid-set and everyone staring at me like I’m a massive moron who can’t figure out how to press play on a CDJ. Clubs generally have a lot of bass, and bass shakes things, and likes to shake cables out of their sockets. So I stick electrical tape on all the socket-cable connections. Generally only needed for USB connections, RCA/phono connections are fine.
6. MAGAZINE (NEW SCIENTIST, CHECK HERE): Great for the science news, properly explained and referenced. It doesn’t go into as much depth as I’d like, but many a good project idea has started with an article or book review in here which I’ve gone on to read about more deeply.
Los Angeles-based vocalist, musician and producer Sarah Winters AKA vōx (pronounced “wokes”) makes hip-hop-influenced spectral pop. Her productions and performances have a refined look and feel. Under the veil she wears on stage, Winters is hidden but present – guiding the audience safely through the unknown sonic world. She also has a talent for giving songs like Kendrick Lamar’s “i,” the unique vōx treatment while creating lasting moments.
1. NOTEBOOK + PEN (MOLESKIN, BUY HERE): My music making background came about through writing poetry first, so I like to have a small notebook with me at all times for lyrical thoughts.
2. EAR PLUGS (ACS, CHECK HERE):I think it goes along with my introversion, but I tend to be very sensitive to sound. I like to carry my molded earplugs with me, mostly for going to shows, but sometimes even a plane or a train is a tad too loud for me.
3. GLOVES (DEL’HACIENDA, CHECK HERE): Wearing things that make people smile and wearing things that make me smile is key. These are satin gloves my friends from Los Angeles, Del’Hacienda, made.
4. VEIL (NO BRAND): Being veiled is a big part of vōx imagery. It’s symbolic in the sense that it sets a tone of importance to what I’m doing. When I put a veil on, I’m embodying all the things that are important to me as a creator and a performer–being vulnerable, being open, being curious, being bold.
5. LIP BALM (GLOSSIER, BUY HERE): I always have one of these rose balms on me, sometimes more than one. So key.
Gerardo Cedillo is a producer, DJ and multi-instrumentalist from Mexico. As one half of the duo named Kry-Lon, he defined the “new rave” scene in his hometown of Tijuana. As Soul of Hex, Cedillo’s solo project’ he enjoys playing and producing deep house incoorporating classic techno and jazz influences. He is the founder of the vinyl only label Vicario Musique Recordings to create an platform to share “music for the future”. His essentials are a refined collection to accompany him when he is touring around the world.
1. PERFORMANCE SAMPLER (ELEKTRON, BUY HERE): It’s my most essential piece of gear and I take it everywhere with me. It’s such a wonderful machine which basically can sample and manipulate any sound or song and take it to the next level, with awesome effects and also it’s a composer so… it’s been in my bag since I got it sponsored by Elektron in 2016.
2. SUNGLASSES (RAY-BAN, CHECK HERE): These shades are cool I think, I always lose them but buy them again every now and then ha!
3. GRANULAR CONVOLVOR (RBMA, READ HERE):This little silver machine was given to the participants of this year’s Red Bull Music Academy it was created by the engineer Tatsuya Takahashi. It basically combines two sound waveforms and you can modulate them.
4. HEADPHONES (SENNHEISER, SIMILAR HERE): My headphones for standard DJ usage and travelling for sure, I’ve been using these for a year and they are excellent!
5. SNEAKERS (REEBOK, BUY HERE): Classic kicks, they are so comfortable! I used to take off my shoes to play long DJ sets, but… not anymore!
Indira Force is an artist from New Zealand. Her deep relationship with music is expressed in many different ways: composing film soundtracks, dance scores and even music for political campaigns as well as producing music under “indi”. The tracks on her first solo album Precipice are performed with saxophonists, trombonists and a violin to bring Force’s dreamy and delicate but concrete vision to life. Her collection of items are surprisingly functional and practial but essential to create the “indi” sound.
1. LAPTOP (GIGABYTE, CHECK HERE): I actually bought this earlier this year when I moved to Berlin from NZ. It has been essential to my on-the-go media-scoring lifestyle. It is really sturdy and can run huge projects without any problems.
2. EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE (SEAGATE, CHECK NEXT PARTY HERE):This is a boring one but I cannot emphasize how important it is to back up your stuff. I lost a whole EP of music projects once because my computer died and it was devastating. Honestly if you can afford it get like 2 hard drives and back everything up twice as well as uploading to the cloud. This holds a very precious part of my life.
3. SNACK (FRECHE FREUNDE, CHECK HERE): I think the translation is like ‘cheeky friend’ haha. They are freeze-dried strawberries and I just eat these almost every day because they are light and yum and natural.
4. HEADPHONES (HOUSE OF MARLEY, CHECK HERE): I use these constantly. They were a gift and I am so proud to own them as they are made from 100% sustainable and recycled materials. I go to sleep every night listening to the Harry Potter audoobooks by Stephen Fry which i know is a bit childish but so soothing.
5. YOGA MAT (NO BRAND): I have been practicing Ashtanga yoga since I was about 11. My family is pretty into it, especially my mum, so when I do yoga it reminds me of home and family. I’m not hardcore really- some weeks I may not do much depending on what is happening, but when things get intense and crazy I always know I can figure things out and breathe through it on this mat.
Berlin-based Jeanne Kaiser is a singer, producer and classically-trained cellist who performs under the name Jeannel. She is known for her her dreamy, R&B-oriented pop. Her performances are versatile: playing with a full band or playing with stripped-down stage setup or doing back-up vocals – Kaiser makes sure to connect with the audience. So does her collection of essentials share the importance of relationships to her music.
1. YOGA (PEACEYOGA, CHECK HERE): Peaceyoga Berlin is one of my absolute essential in-order-to-stay-sane/basic-need-place to go to. The jivamukti classes are demanding, sweaty, and lead by the best teachers I know so far. Peaceyoga is like my second home here in Berlin. I go there to keep my body and soul in tune. I love this place.
2. COMPUTER (APPLE, CHECK HERE):My whole musical identity is on that computer. Whenever I go out the house wondering if I really switched off the stove, it’s the only thing I am worried about. (Besides my plants.)
3. SHIRT (TRES RASCHE, CHECK HERE): That T-shirt just makes me feel good an powerful. Besides, the label is awesome.
4. BOOTS (DR. MARTENS, CHECK HERE): Same with the boots. I can wear them whereever, whenever. I wear them all the time. The help me keep my feet on the ground.
5. GUITAR (A GIFT): She was given to me by someone who holds a special place in my heart. She’s my baby.
BRUX is a singer-songwriter and producer from Australia. BRUX is also the ticket to a new type of audio visual experience the artist uses to explore the darker side of her musical interests with no inhibition and no rules. Story-telling with a strong look and feel is part of the BRUX effect. Her attention to detail, hard work as well as fun essentials have led to recent collaborations with LA producer Madeaux on “The Wave” on Fool’s Gold Records and artists such as dBridge and Kabuki.
1. EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE(WESTERN DIGITAL, BUY HERE): My external hard drive, my life. Having a backup of the backup of the backup is key. Also, I chose orange because it’s one of my favourite colours
2. SYNTH (TEENAGE ENGINEERING, BUY HERE):My op-1. I bought this powerful little beast 2 years ago and have not put it down since. Every song I write I use my op-1 and it’s my absolute favourite bit of gear in my synth collection.
3. NOTEBOOK (A GIFT): My notebook. I’ve gone through many notebooks over the years that are full of lyrics, life plans/calculations (lol but true) & manifestations but this is my latest and greatest. My boyfriend brought this one back from New York for me earlier this year and I love the colours. So far it’s only 1/4 full of world domination plans.
4. SUNGLASSES (NO BRAND): My favourite pair of sunglasses that always make me feel fabulous, they go everywhere with me.
5. MEDICINE (ARMAFORCE): Armaforce – my drug of choice when I start to feel a cold set in. All natural, all herbal and almighty.
Russian singer-songwriter and producer Natalia Salmina AKA Atariame is an explorer of sound. She found her mission to experiment the depth of fragile folk, warm ambient and soundscape downtempo together. Her instruments of choice to craft the complex sound include a synth, a 12-string guitar and a simple voice pedal. The selection of essentials give her energy and inspiration on this journey.
1. CHOCOLATE (ANY KIND): Since I remember myself I’ve always been eating chocolate: even during school lectures, even when I make music. Here at RBMA there was a lecture of Nina Kraviz, and she told that while making her first album she used to stay late, drink tea and eat chocolate — oh, I know that feel, bro.
2. STICKERS & LAPTOP (A SELECTION):My collection of stickers. Which is also a laptop. Dive is a bar in Tbilisi in which I DJed once, Balera is a nice place in Berlin where I used to hangout with friends, another sticker by a bank in Russia that keeps reminding me of a hipster-friendly marketing. There is also a sticker with Schroedinger and a cat, or.. without a cat?
3. HEADPHONES (PHILIPS, BUY HERE): Cheap headphones for making music. These are very cheap and old headphones that I’ve been using all the time that I make music: 5 or 6 years. They are most comfortable for me to work with, and even though I really have to change for something more accurate and transparent, I’ll keep these too for a quick work. I recorded and mixed my Fear is the World album and another upcoming album, so that’s a quite meaningful thing for my music.
4. PIN (VICTOR PIVOVAROV, READ MORE HERE): A Pivovarov’s fox. This is a pin from an exhibition of a Russian contemporary artist Victor Pivovarov. In his project, the fox is an imaginary God of an imaginary religion professed by imaginary folk. This fox keeps reminding me that I still have to read more about contemporary art, especially about performance art which I’m interested in right now.
5. TRANSPORT CARD (TROIKA, READ MORE HERE): This is a card for all the kinds of transport in Moscow. I keep losing these cards all the time, so I’ve got a bunch of them at my home, in bags and in pockets. The name of the card is the name of an old transport: troika, 3 horses harnessed abreast which people used to ride in the old time. I love the design and this historical reference, and this card keeps me excited about the new things happening in Russia right now – e.g. design, new creative people, music and this special sense of a culture code which we all understand and share.