The Bedroom Tapes
Adam Singer and Vitaliy Levin don't get out much. When they're not working their nine-to-five jobs, they're either at Singer's parents' house, where Singer lives, or at Levin's mother's house, where Levin lives, glued to their computer screens and taking breaks only so Levin can have a smoke or a chocolate milk, depending on his mood.
"Nesquik, that's my biggest inspiration," Levin says.
And though the pair's infatuation with software (not to mention Singer's Matrix-code screen saver) suggests a certain undeniable nerdiness, it's not Halo they're playing all night. It's music.
"I have a whole music studio right here," says 23-year-old Singer, pointing to his computer-attached keyboard, custom-built hard drive, and duel monitors that display the track he and 27-year-old Levin are working on. "It's pretty advanced."
By day an operative at Pierson Grant Public Relations in Fort Lauderdale, Singer spends most of his nights either working on new electronic tracks or perfecting old ones. He strives for a lush and melodic sound in his music, a sound that requires layers upon layers of tracks, resulting in hours of work as well as an overloaded computer, evident by the Windows system's decision to shut down when he tries to play a new track.
On the rare occasion Singer does leave his house after the workday is done, it's to DJ at Space, Lime Bar, or another of the many clubs he's performed at since he began spinning four years ago.
"I really enjoyed blending already-made pieces of music together," Singer says of how he got into DJing. A graduate of the University of Florida, Singer was first turned on to club life in Gainesville, where after playing a few local venues like Simon's and Club Eden, he landed a residency at Vibe. In Miami, however, Singer has found musical success a bit more difficult to come by.
"The scene in Miami nightlife is very competitive," Singer says. "It's who you know, and basically it's kind of a if you're not in with the in crowd, you're not going to get any gigs. I'm going to go out on a limb and say I'm a different artist than a lot of the other electronic music artists here."
Aside from Singer's penchant for slower-paced tunes, a significant difference that separates him from other electronic artists is his full-time job. Because he has one, he doesn't rely on his music for financial support, which allows him to make the kind of music he wants without worrying about achieving mainstream success. Levin is in a similar situation, working as a financial manager at a local car dealership.
"It separates you from the crowd, wherein a lot of the guys are actually doing this for a living," Singer says. "We're doing it because we love it."
Though they met only a year and a half ago when Levin was searching for a coproducer on the popular electronic music Website globalunderground.com, Singer and Levin have become close, collaborating on electronic music releases as well as DJ gigs, like the one they have at Karma Lounge in Fort Lauderdale every first Saturday of the month.
"When you're playing with another artist, you feed off each other's energy," Singer says of their sets. "It's very cool."
The two take a tag-team approach to their performances, switching either every half-hour or every three records, unless the crowd appears significantly more into one or the other.
"If the crowd's really into it," Singer says, "we'll just let the other person keep going."
After graduating with a degree in recreational sciences, and minoring in music and marketing, Singer returned home to make a name for himself on South Florida's music scene. He found gigs at venues like Club Zone and Orbit opening for DJs like James Zabiela, Oscar G, Edgar V, DJ Hardware, and DJ Ghost while working to perfect his recorded music. Though Singer is the first to say Miami's scene is competitive and difficult to break in to, that fact didn't stop him from eventually playing to a full house at the renowned Club Space.
Recently Singer and Levin have been DJing together much more frequently than they've been releasing music together, though separately each has been prolific. Singer has self-released a full-length album and is working on another one he hopes to release on Amazon.com, and Levin is collaborating with other electronic artists throughout Europe via the Internet, e-mailing tracks back and forth with musicians thousands of miles away.
"We're struggling as artists to find a sound we can make together, " Singer explains, "but we have a sound that we can make separately."
The struggle lies in their separate musical interests. Levin enjoys percussion- and groove-oriented tracks as much as Singer enjoys melodies. Their differing tastes often cause arguments but sometimes create music better than anything either one could have done alone.
"When you meet halfway with a musician, and this happens every once in a while, you get a nice fusion of both the sounds," Singer says. "But if you're not working together well, it's almost like you're working against each other."
Yet this arrangement suits Singer and Levin fine, because as vastly different as their musical tastes are (Singer grew up listening to Nine Inch Nails; Levin listened to pop and gangster rap), they're still able to work seamlessly together when DJing, as if they've perfected the art of beatmatching their separate tastes and turned the results into a unique crowd pleaser.
"The energy reciprocates itself off the dance floor to the DJ booth and back," Singer says of their performances. "It's almost something that you can't describe."
"I go by head-nods," adds Levin, as he begins head-nodding himself. "When people start going like this, that's like a sign that people are feeling the groove."
Originally from the Ukraine, Levin describes himself as being lazy despite the fact that he works, like Singer, about sixteen hours a day (eight for his job, eight more for his music). Before he grew interested in DJing, he worked as a bartender and a club manager, both roles allowing him to admire what he'd eventually do himself.
"I was always envious of the DJ," Levin explains. "He gets all the chicks, he gets all the attention, and people are dancing to his music."
Levin's hope for this year is to release ten singles, mostly collaborations with other artists. Considering himself a perfectionist, Levin worries about the quality of the work he makes available to the public.
"If your name is on a track that sucks, then you suck too," Levin says.
"Me and my partner finished [a track] in two hours, and then it took me another month to tweak everything. The tweaking part is a pain in the ass."
As Levin works to complete his ten-release goal, and Singer toils to finish his second full-length album, the two will continue to perform their eclectic sets for listeners looking for something different.
"I'm really enjoying the nontraditional ways of expressing my music," Singer says. "My direction is overall to push things in a nontraditional direction and to write music that doesn't have a shelf life."
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