Bicep on House Music: "It Became Very 'Throwaway,' We're Intending to Change That"
Are you club rats sick of the '90s house revival yet?
We didn't think so. After all, nothing gets those fist-pumps and footwork going like some classic jacking house -- it's not even a guilty pleasure anymore. Just ask Belfast DJ-production duo Bicep.
The pair got started spreading the love of music on the beloved Feel My Bicep blog. But 2012 has seen the Bicep boys gain even more buzz with a series of delectable cuts on labels like Throne of Blood and Aus Music. And their sound absolutely reeks of '90s nostalgia, but in the best way possible: lush, deep four-on-the-floor jack.
So it makes perfect sense that the Electric Pickle would book Bicep for this Friday's 13th anniversary celebration of Aquabooty, Miami's longest-standing deep house party, alongside Yoruba Records chief Osunlade.
Check the cut for Bicep's interview with Crossfade about the Northern Ireland scene, vinyl purism, and putting the fun back in dance music.
Crossfade: Who is Bicep? How did the partnership come together?
Bicep: We're old school friends who shared common love of music and partying. We all played rugby together, from when we were 6 or 7, I think. We knew each other a few years before that. Collectively, maybe 6 people contribute to the blog from time to time, all of which went to our school when we were younger in Belfast. Although, it's Andy and I that do 85 percent of the work on it. One thing lead to another and we began tinkering with production. As things progressed, we took it more seriously. And here we are, working on it all flat out.
Do you find that the blog has become an essential tool for marketing and promoting your work in this Internet age?
Marketing was never something we actively did or do. It's handy, but the blog is purely to keep people in the loop with our changing and broadening musical tastes. That's why it was set up, to share music of every type. It's great to link up what we're currently working on, etc. But I think for promotion of our own work and having everyone else play our tracks, SoundCloud is really the best way.
What can you tell us about the dance music scene in Northern Ireland? How did it shape your musical tastes?
Yeah, the music scene has always been awesome. Between the boys at Twitch, Isodisco, Belfast Music Club, and then Stiff Kitten/Shine, there is a hell of a lot of good bookings that go on in Belfast. You can usually see someone pretty awesome each weekend -- obviously not quite as forward-thinking as London, not by a long shot. But it's great to be able to pop out on a Thursday night in Belfast and see Prosumer in a packed-out club.
People got a great taste in music back home. It's never about the anthems back there, more about proper techno and early '90s stuff. The crowds, along with Scotland, are the best in the world. Ask Levon Vincent. The buzz when stuff goes off over there is incomparable to anywhere else we've ever, ever, ever played. The whole Beatport minimal vibes are pretty heavily frowned upon in most clubs too!
So why the name Bicep? Is it a statement about the muscularity of the classic jacking house sound? Or are we reading too deeply into it?
Because it's cheesy and daft and not something you immediately take seriously. I think that's pretty important in something that's as "serious" and heads-down as dance music. Needs to be a little more fun.
There's a rich classic analog sound to your tracks. What sort of gear do you use in the studio and how do you approach the production process?
We like stuff that sounds and feels older. Clean computerized hi-hats and flat snares literally make us feel sick. We use a mixture of sampling, hardware, and the odd little VST, which we're careful about. We're open to anything as long as it produces a result we're happy with. Currently, we've got a Yamaha DX21, a Korg M1, a Juno 106, and the biggest collection of found samples and noises/recordings you could imagine.
What is the impetus for your vinyl-only releases? Are you deliberately favoring a market of vinyl purist listeners by making it tough for digital downloaders to access your music?
Quite simply, by restricting something, you make it more special and it tends to last longer. Music became very 'throwaway' for a fairly long period there, we're intending to change that where we can.
So what's next for team Bicep? Any forthcoming projects or releases?
Our new label is taking up most of our time. We've got a few remixes to finish that were taken on months ago and another release for AUS. But yeah, the label is what we're focusing on developing in terms of sounds and vibe. A common place to put everything we do.
Bicep and Osunlade. Friday, October 12. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.
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