The weekly RA Exchange is a series of conversations with artists, labels and promoters shaping the electronic music landscape.
The weekly RA Exchange is a series of conversations with artists, labels and promoters shaping the electronic music landscape.
EX.662 Shanti Celeste
"Because we're women, we just compliment each other. We're playing together, and we're not trying to one-up each other." The UK artist talks about DJing with friends, her artistic trajectory and finding solace in painting. Shanti Celeste is one of those artists whose personality matches her DJ style. Her fun-loving nature and breezy demeanour always light up a room, as do her vibrant sets that span sunny house music, slow-burning disco and emotive techno—just revisit her RA podcast for a reminder. Fresh off her Hessle Audio debut, the London-based artist sat down with RA's Martha Pazienti-Caidan for an honest chat about track selection, bad gigs and her approach to production. During DJ sets, the Peach Discs co-founder doesn’t like to focus on genres. Instead, "I think about, like, building and releasing tension and making sure that I stay in a specific energy level," she explained. "Whereas before, I think I knew the energy I wanted to bring, but I didn't know how to do that cause I was just thinking about everything in terms of genre." Reaching this holistic stage, however, took time. It was a process of acquiring knowledge and experience but also confidence, she described, adding how she previously had "really bad imposter syndrome." Learning to recognise that certain factors might be outside an artist’s control is essential to self-realisation, she continued. Recounting her experience of playing big festival stages, she noted the importance of "learning what side of yourself to channel" rather than compromise on music. For more details on her experience playing with fellow women DJs, her lockdown romance and recording her vocals, listen to the discussion in full.
EX.661 New York Nightlife In The '90s
"We were doing parties in Staten Island that were completely packed; Manhattan didn't want anything to do with us." Three New York visionaries discuss the city's '90s heyday. '90s nightlife in New York conjures images of Party Monster, jacking disco house and a rotating cast of mega clubs that saw thousands of revellers pass through their doors each weekend. From Limelight and Sound Factory to Palladium and countless others, clubbing was hitting its stride in New York, while producers like Joey Beltram, Frankie Bones and Damon Wild were producing game-changing 12-inches. But it was also the beginning of a decline, catalysed by the rollout of Mayor Rudy Giuliani's discriminatory policies that slowly gutted the club scene and the communities that called it home. To honour Resident Advisor's partnership with Wire Festival in Brooklyn this weekend, we're revisiting a panel recorded at our 24/7 party at Nowadays in 2018. We tasked the beloved Brooklyn fanzine Love Injection with presenting discussions covering five decades of dance music history. In this panel, Strictly Rhythm cofounder Gladys Pizarro, DJ and producer Lenny Dee and drag superstar and vogue performer Kevin Aviance spoke with journalist (and former RA staffer) Max Pearl about the rise and fall of the city's club scene during its golden decade. They also discussed how the city was sequestered, forcing many artists at the vanguard of '90s-era techno to make music and throw their own parties as the scene grew and shifted beneath the weight of city-wide reforms. "We were doing parties in Staten Island that were completely packed; Manhattan didn't want anything to do with us," said Lenny D. "So when we were doing it, we were making parties out in Brooklyn. A lot of music at that time was made here in Brooklyn—Joey Beltram, Frankie Bones, Tommy Musto, Damon Wild. So we had this scene where we're making great music, but no one's letting us play, so we're just going to do it ourselves." Listen to the episode in full.
EX.660 - Herrensauna
"You realise you're not just playing music. You give people the power to empower themselves." Cofounders CEM and MCMLXXXV discuss the revered party series and its fledgling label. Berlin queer party Herrensauna—which means "men's sauna" in German—started as a seed of an idea shared between friends Cem Dukkha (AKA CEM) and Nicholas Endlicher (AKA MCMLXXXV). They were teenagers in Vienna at the time, dreaming of becoming DJs in Berlin. When they finally relocated, they started throwing parties in the basement of a Neukölln off-location. This quickly snowballed into a residency at Tresor, and now a globally recognised brand that curates lineups at clubs and festivals around the world and counts Salome, SPFDJ, Héctor Oaks, JASSS and DJ Saliva as residents. In this RA Exchange, hosted ahead of Herrensauna's curated night at Wire Festival in New York, CEM and MCMLXXXV spoke with senior producer Chloe Lula about the party's origins and how its mission has changed, shifting from focusing on gay men to championing an all-inclusive vision of queerness. They also discussed their artwork and aesthetics—including their provocative re-appropriations of quasi-religious iconography—as well as the role that platforms like theirs have in shifting the cultural zeitgeist and attitudes towards the LGBTQIA+ community. Listen to the episode in full.
EX.659 Critics’ Roundtable [May 2023]
"You can trace techno's origins to the seminal 1988 album Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit, which featured many producers that are now regarded as techno pioneers." We discuss Detroit techno, Frankfurt's electronic music museum and more in this month's Critics' Roundtable. As we approach the end of May, and with it, Movement Festival in Detroit—one of the longest-running dance music events in the world—Resident Advisor returns to a discussion about electronic music's roots. In this month's Critics' Roundtable, RA music critics Kiana Mickles and Andrew Ryce talk with producer Chloe Lula about the newest release from Detroit "techno soul" stalwart Eddie Fowlkes and a breakout album from a newer Detroit name, DJ Girl, who just released on Planet Mu. The trio also discuss how techno's origins in Detroit's Black communities continue to be contested. The Museum of Modern Electronic Music in Frankfurt, which opened last year (and was written about recently in The New Yorker), has overlooked the city's key role in the creation and dissemination of techno, sparking backlash from the electronic music community. Mickles and Ryce lay out the implications of the continuous omission of Detroit from techno's narrative. Why is electronic music's origins an ongoing debate, and how do we honour its progenitors as electronic music moves further away from its foundations into the mainstream? Listen to the conversation in full. Tracklist: Eddie Fowlkes - Shake Your Hips DJ Girl - Technician Rhythim Is Rythim - It Is What It Is Jossy Mitsu - World's End
EX.658 Source Material: 15 Years of PAN
"It feels like every artist is presenting their work in the same way that a gallery or an art institution would." Seven artists share their thoughts on the genre-bending label and its legacy. Resident Advisor's April cover features Bill Kouligas, the singular curator at the helm of PAN. Now celebrating 15 years, the imprint's releases traverse a dizzying array of mediums and genres. As Whitney Wei writes in her article, PAN has long befuddled some people in electronic music. Its catalogue is a bricolage of musique concrete, improvisations, left-field club music, performance soundtracks and other strains of electronic-adjacent work that feel somewhat impossible to place. Amnesia Scanner's cyberpunk nu-metal and Eartheater's sweet singer-songwriter pop are some of the best examples of this immense range. But sitting in Bill's studio, she writes, everything makes sense in context. "I feel a lot of record labels tend to somehow fall under an umbrella of a sound, or a specific genre of music," reflect Amnesia Scanner in this episode of the Exchange. "With PAN, every artist is presenting their work as independent from the work of others, like in the same way that a gallery or an art institution would present work. Of course there are shared ideas and shared values and so on, but it's not built on a narrow idea of what kind of music PAN would represent." The label has garnered a devoted fanbase that recognises the vision uniting this seemingly far-reaching output. And as Kouligas has moved increasingly towards interdisciplinary interests such as fashion soundtracking and art directing, his audience has followed him. The music on the label has done the same, evolving from tracks for the dance floor to documentation of avant-garde visual art. This episode of the RA Exchange collects music and interviews from key individuals who have shaped PAN's trajectory and canon, including Anne Imhof, Objekt, M.E.S.H., Rashad Becker, Amnesia Scanner, Eartheater and Low Jack. Listen to the episode in full. If you're looking for more PAN content, be sure to tune into our live RA Exchange with fellow PAN artist Tzusing from Rewire Festival, which aired last week. Tracklist: Anne Imhof - Dark Times (Sex) Objekt - 35 (Cocoon Crush) M.E.S.H. - Search, Reveal (Hesaitix) Rashad Becker - Dances VII (Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. II) Amnesia Scanner - Faceless (Another Life) Eartheater - Claustra (Irisiri) Low Jack - Rough Rider (Low Jack Remix) (STILL)
"This is me dealing with how to be a progressive man in this era." The Sea Cucumber boss discusses his new album on PAN in this live Exchange from Rewire. Malaysian Chinese artist Tzusing is currently splitting his time between Taipei and Shanghai, but he spent a significant amount of time in the US as a young adult and university student. It was only after moving back to China in his early 20s and taking a long break from production that he amalgamated these diverse influences and refined his sound, releasing a string of EPs on the label L.I.E.S. and launching into his musical career in full force. His 2017 release, Invincible East, was his first exploration into more thematically loaded work that interrogated masculinity and power. His second (and newest) LP, Green Hat, builds on these tropes. The full-length—which came out on PAN in late March—examines Confucian values around familial obligation, the patriarchy and how to be "a progressive man" in 2023. It also brings together his penchant for trap, techno and industrial, while still mining Asian instrumental motifs. In Tzusing's words, the music itself is full of angst and fear, and it's his most intense output as an artist yet. In this live RA Exchange at Rewire Festival, he talks to Resident Advisor's senior producer, Chloe Lula, about the production of the album, Chinese club culture and his move towards a sound that isn't indebted to a singular genre or scene. The episode is part of Resident Advisor's cover series on PAN; read the article in full on our website, and listen to Tzusing's conversation in full here.
EX.656 Tama Sumo & Lakuti
"Going back-to-back makes sense. We live together, we really love the same music." The Berlin-based duo discuss their partnership behind the decks—and in life. Tama Sumo and Lakuti are two of Berlin's best-known house DJs. Partners in life and in music, they've played as solo artists (and together) since the early '90s, and hold residencies at Panorama Bar. Unsurprisingly, they have an unparalleled synthesis behind the decks and in conversation, and on this unique episode of the RA Exchange, they interview each other about their formative experiences in the music industry and the roots of their respective musical practices—for Tama Sumo, the bars and lesbian weekenders in Kreuzberg, and for Lakuti, disused warehouses in Johannesburg. They also talk about deeper, more intrinsic aspects of their crafts, their relationship, and their identities as marginalised artists navigating Germany's house and techno scene. This interview was recorded live at The Standard in London as part of the series TheirStories, an essential event In London's queer cultural calendar that platforms narratives from the LGBTQIA+ community. Listen to the episode in full.
EX.655 Surgeon Talks Live Performance and Improvisation
"Live improvised hardware connects so directly to the fundamental rawness of electronic music." UK techno lynchpin Surgeon reflects on his connection to machines and making music on the fly. Surgeon, also known as Anthony Child, has been one of techno's most influential and consistently brilliant artists since the mid-'90s. For the last decade, he has spent most of his creative resources on developing his abilities as a live performer, in his usual techno environment as well as more abstract settings. As Child reinforces in this live Dekmantel Exchange with Aaron Coultate, his live performance practice is at the heart of his creativity. "There was literally one day I woke up and realized that having the computer—DJing, as it were—was getting in the way of taking this form of performing further," he says. "That was determining the structure of what I was doing. And to be truly freeform and improvisational I had to be free of this imposed structure." This archived conversation comes on the heels of Surgeon's most recent LP, Crash Recoil, which RA music critic Kiana Mickles hailed as "one of his best albums ever." To get an inside look into this risk taking artist's production process and approach to dance floor composition, listen to the episode in full.
EX.654 Critics' Roundtable [March 2023]
"Dance music artists are creating in an environment where they can be more outspoken about their queerness, which means that their work becomes extensions of their queerness." RA's critics discuss expressions of gender and sexuality in the underground scene during this month's roundtable. Each month, Resident Advisor reviews a number of standout EPs, albums and singles, but there are some that resonate with us more than others. In this episode, our in-house music critics Andrew Ryce and Kiana Mickles join RA's Senior Producer, Chloe Lula, in a deep dive into the releases that they considered to be the most noteworthy from this month: Surgeon's new LP, Crash Recoil; Fever Ray's much-anticipated new full length, Radical Romantics; and I. JORDAN and SHERELLE's split two-tracker. Beyond just assessing the music itself, we also debate bigger questions that these works raise. We discuss how some of this month's music invokes themes of love, romance and desire—which are relatively new to the electronic music underground; how representations of queerness are shifting in the contemporary music landscape; and the perennial pop-electronic music crossover, which has defined the contours of the last few weeks' worth of releases yet again. Listen to the conversation in full. This week's intro and outro music, "Transience," was composed by Jo Johnson.
EX.653 Tony Andrews on Sound and Spirituality
“I actually believe that humans are made for more than what we're currently doing. We just need to switch on parts of our brains that we're not." Funktion-One creator Tony Andrews reflects on music and spirituality live from AVA London. According to visionary sound system designer Tony Andrews, the creator of Funktion-One, there’s a spiritual current that unites humanity—and good sound is the first way for us to explore our communal mind. In this RA Exchange recorded live from AVA London, the founder of one of the best high-end speakers on the market reflects on his experience engaging in the broader, spiritual meaning of music and the universe and how his decision to start Funktion-One in 1992 sprung from a desire to help humans connect with each other. Far from being a technical deep dive into loudspeaker design and engineering, this conversation delves into his first forays into the world of sound as well as the broader implications of music and how it can incite a paradigm shift in how we experience the human experience and consciousness. Listen to the full, live talk and Q&A moderated by RA contributor Will Lynch.
EX.652 dweller festival with OK Williams
Since the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, there have been renewed efforts to shine a light on dance music's roots in Black communities. Still, there's a critical need for more Black-forefronted collectives and programmers—as well as more thoughtfully curated and balanced rosters of talent in clubs and festivals—to keep the origins of electronic music alive. In comes Brooklyn’s dweller festival, founded in 2019 by Discwoman's Frankie Decaiza Hutchinson, which aims to highlight exclusively Black talent from across the globe. This year’s edition featured a live RA Exchange with Nigerian-British selector OK Williams, who spoke to RA music critic Kiana Mickles about some of the deep-rooted inequities that continue to bar Black artists from contributing to the contemporary dance music landscape. They also discuss Williams’ ascent on the global stage—beginning from her Early Bird residency at NTS and full-fledged touring career post-pandemic—and her first forays into production. This is a lively discussion that includes questions from the audience. Listen to the episode in full.
EX.651 Source Material: Music and Iran's Fight for Women's Rights
"I don't know what I would do if my life was on the line." In a new audio documentary, female Iranian musicians reflect on the implications of speaking out against the country's misogynistic regime. On September 16th, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini—from the northwestern Kurdish city of Saqez—was arrested by Iran's morality police for not wearing her headscarf in accordance with the Islamic Republic's clerical standards. The circumstances of her death were suspicious; while authorities deny beating Amini and insisted in a statement that the cause of death was sudden heart failure, eyewitnesses, including women who were detained with Amini, reported that she was severely beaten and that she died as a result of police brutality. The incident sparked a series of protests described by the media as the most widespread in Iran in almost 10 years. In honour of International Women's Day, this week's RA Exchange examines the ongoing fight for women's rights in Iran. At the time of this writing, the situation on the ground has escalated, with the government arresting and killing protestors who have spoken out against the country's oppressive policing practices, and even inciting suspected poison attacks against dozens of schoolgirls in the country's capital. According to our guests, women and minorities face more discrimination than ever as the Islamic Republic continues to extend and entrench its grip over Iranian society. "It is this conflict that has to do with the regulation of women's bodies that has been at the core of the Islamic Republic's main agendas," says one interviewee. "By controlling women, they're also somehow solidifying their power within the society." RA Exchange's Senior Producer Chloe Lula starts this episode with a reflection on RA staff writer Anu Shukla's news piece from last autumn, which documented the protests when they first erupted, before speaking with Iranian musicians Azin Zahedi, Farahnaz Hatam and a third woman who asked to be removed from this episode for fear of her life. They reflect on the repercussions of the protests, the implications for the Iranian diaspora and how music and art can amplify sociopolitical issues—and galvanise communal action and positive change. Listen to the episode in full. Tracklist: Jo Johnson - Transience Jo Johnson - Vigil Shervin Hajipour - Baraye
EX.650 Critics' Roundtable [February 2023]
In 2023, we're refreshing our Critics' Roundtable format, inviting RA's in-house staff writers and industry specialists to reflect on the releases that resonated with them, as well as the trends and news that's circulating around the music sphere. March's roundtable features Andrew Ryce and Kiana Mickles. In addition to discussing the much-anticipated EPs and albums that they've enjoyed—Caroline Polachek, Nene H, Fadi Mohem and more—the duo also raise important questions about the contemporary club music landscape: how should we consider an artist's core audience, especially when their music taps into an uncharted trend? What is the strategy behind releasing multiple albums at once, like Skrillex's recent double LP? What can we make of the new pop-electronic crossover, and what are the deeper implications of mainstream musicians appropriating underground tropes and themes? We explore these issues and more in this month's roundtable RA Exchange, and talk about our most anticipated new releases for the coming weeks. Listen to the conversation, moderated by RA's Senior Producer Chloe Lula, in full.
EX.649 Irvine Welsh: 30 Years on From Trainspotting
In this week's episode of the RA Exchange, we host an exclusive talk with Scottish novelist and playwright Irvine Welsh, who's best known for his 1993 book, Trainspotting. His work raises crucial and provocative questions around class, identity and the human condition, as well as running themes around nightlife and DJ culture. Welsh has always harbored an avid love of electronic music—and acid house specifically. In this live keynote interview at the Night Time Industries Association conference at E1 in London, he talks to RA's Senior Producer, Chloe Lula, about his enduring love of nightlife as well as the grueling creative process, his new record label and how club music has changed with the advent of new music production technologies and the rise of the bedroom techno producer. "All the good things really happen at night, the real freedom happens at night, the real expression happens at night," he says. Listen to the episode in full.
EX.648 Source Material: The Power of Radio in Times of Crisis
In honour of World Radio Day—which landed on February 13th—this week’s RA Exchange celebrates the power of radio in a documentary-style deep dive. UNESCO inaugurated World Radio Day in 2011 in order to commemorate its efficacy in reaching remote communities, connecting with people everywhere regardless of their education level, and providing a platform for positive and democratic discourse. It's also critical in spreading critical information during times of crisis or emergency. According to UNESCO, "increasing radio's journalistic standards and capacity should be considered as an investment in peace." On a more modest level, podcasting and radio, especially in the world of underground music, can help forge in-person and virtual networks and celebrate and spread new and lesser-known music. During the pandemic, it also held together underground music scenes when people couldn't be together in the club, and sustained a kind of intimacy and connection by letting people share music over the airwaves and community platform chat rooms. In this episode, we hear from various radio producers around the world—including Jamz Supernova, Hana Walker Brown, Dublab Barcelona and Hong Kong Community Radio, among others—about why radio resonates so strongly with them. "Good radio is always an exercise in connection, especially host-led radio,” says Rory Bowens, NTS’s Head of Radio Production. “The fact that it's a live experience is really crucial. People can listen to something in real time with a huge audience of other listeners at the same time, and that intrinsically connects them to each other." Take a listen to the episode in full.
EX.647 I. JORDAN
London-based musician I. JORDAN—a disciple of fast-paced, high-energy dance music—has undergone a creative renaissance since 2021. Last February, they were nominated for Best Producer at the annual NME awards, and they celebrated a jam-packed touring and release schedule, which included signing to Ninja Tune. Now, they're on the heels of a residency they oversaw designed specifically for trans and nonbinary artists, produced by Brighter Sound and Generator. They're also planning a tour with close friend and collaborator SHERELLE. "There is something really beautiful about trans only spaces, something that I can't put words into," they tell host Vanessa Maria in this week's RA Exchange. "It's just a feeling. Trans people get it. Trans people know it. It just does stuff to you, and I can't really explain." Their conversation touches on the power of queer community, the spectre of imposter syndrome and the growing importance of nurturing creative outlets for marginalised musicians. Critically, I. JORDAN and Maria also take stock of what the underground scene can do to support trans and nonbinary artists by reconfiguring some of the industry's deeply rooted discriminatory practices from the ground up. Take a listen to the episode in full. This episode was recorded at Qube in East London.
EX.646 DJ Perception and Timehri Records
DJ Perception is lauded as one of the leading voices in the contemporary UK garage landscape. His sets are widely known for being jam-packed with exclusive dubplates and sought-after cuts of slick 2-step, and his productions are just as highly revered, blending elements of UK garage with house and soul. “I like to make all types of garage, but never commercial music," he tells moderator Heléna Star in his interview. "It’s just underground.” In this live listening party hosted by Timehri Records and the Black Artist Database, the artist talks with Timehri head T Dunn about the production of his most recent LP, Journey To The Star, which landed on the label in October 2022. They also listen to segments of the record and discuss its wider concept and construction with a live audience. "The music I make has to be soulful," DJ Perception says. "It can be dark, but it has to be groovy and it has to be soulful. That's how I work." To hear more about the album, the diversity of the UK garage continuum and the underrated practice of bedroom music production, listen to the conversation in full.
EX.645 25 Years of Rush Hour
Amsterdam-based DJ Antal Heitlager needs little introduction. As a co-founder of Rush Hour—a globally respected label and distributor of rare and collectable records—he has been disseminating his distinct vision for buoyant house, hip-hop, disco and more for over two decades. For this special edition of the RA Exchange, the artist and entrepreneur is interviewed by Berlin-based DJ Juba about the label and store’s 25-year anniversary, as well as his first forays into record collecting and the changing landscape of vinyl distribution in an ever-digitalizing world. To hear more about the inception of his legendary shop front and imprint, listen to the conversation in full.
EX.644 Source Material: Scottish Music's Mythic Imaginary
In a scene dominated by thundering techno and its industrial iterations, Scotland’s experimental electronic landscape often goes unnoticed. This niche community of creatives finds inspiration in the country’s ethereal yet contradicting past, combining folk traditions with avant-garde production. In this documentary-style podcast, RA contributor Rowan Crerar speaks to artists, labels and festivals about the deep relationship between Scottish music and folklore. Hyperdub affiliate Proc Fiskal, musician Gavin L. Sutherland, Aberdeen's aerial community radio, interdisciplinary artist Abby Beatrice Quick and Glasgow label 12th Isle each discuss the complex nature of Scottish identity, highlighting how topics such as archaeology and science fiction influence creative practices. For more insights, listen to the conversation in full.
EX.643 Peggy Gou
Peggy Gou is one of electronic music's biggest celebrities. Her catchy productions, high-intensity DJ sets and personal style have propelled her to the upper echelons of stardom—a journey that's brought an equal number of fans and critics. "There are a lot of assumptions about me," she tells moderator Souhayla Ou-Oumar during a live RA Exchange at last year's Amsterdam Dance Event. Over the course of the 50-minute conversation, which includes a Q&A with the audience, the label owner, producer, DJ and fashion designer spills the beans on her decision-making process, how she deals with haters and maintaining authenticity. Emphasising the power of saying no, the Korea-born artist explains how she executes her creative philosophy by being selective on projects. "I have a great team who follow my vision but basically, I'm a control freak." She says she's never had a manager and does all social media herself because "I don't like it when people tell me what to do." To hear more about how Gou finds inspiration, why South Korea is a place of healing for her and the importance of listening to the body, listen to the conversation in full.