Aside from Kelela, do you have any new projects with vocalists in the works?
Daniel: We have people in mind, but it’s too soon to say. We are hoping to continue down that road of producing club tracks for vocalists, though. Were trying to touch base with different rappers and vocalists, but nothings been recorded yet. It's more of a wish list right now.
What about US rap and R&B production are you feeling right now?
Asma: I love the stripped down quality, especially with people like DJ Mustard. It's not too much information. He gives it to you so proper. He can do so much with just a little synth line and a clap.
Daniel: I like a lot of the melodies being produced by guys like Sonny Digital, Metro Bloomin, Young Chop - even 40, still. I do think that a lot of current rap production is really standard and boring, cranking out purely functional beats that aren't forward-looking.
I know what you mean. I love DJ Mustard's beat for YG - 'Left, Right': the little fiddle in it, almost. It's functional, but clever.
Daniel: I really like it because it doesn’t strike me as all that functional. It hits a mood, but it makes me want to wile out.
Exactly, I love that shit. Like, that 'Show Me' beat
? Where he slows down that Ralphi Rosario sample? I love it when people experiment with sounds that aren’t very comfortable: a flat note, a really heady buzz, a distorted kick. That’s what were interested by in 2014. It’s about hearing the unexpected, not following the guideline of tropes or genres - surpassing that, even. Becoming timeless, or indescribable.
"Timeless" is such a fertile word. Right now, for me, I have this weird fantasy of music as sounding as digital and non-sample based as possible.
Asma: Well, I got to hear Kelela’s new demos recently, and that’s what I’m thinking of in terms of "timeless". You don’t get the same warmth in strictly digital tracks as you do with hardware, or with a voice. When I hear her sing, I feel she's jazz, do-wop, but also like Lauryn and Janet and - it's a heavy weight to carry on one set of shoulders, but that's when you know you really have something, y'know?
I don't necessarily mean digital as inviting, or warm, or the "ideal sound", but the idea of having a purely digital sound is fascinating in of itself. It's not strictly applicable, but it reminds me of Fatima Al Qadiri's WARN U EP as Ayshay. I remember her telling me that there are no samples in that record at all, and I found that amazing.
Daniel: Even with all the tools at our disposal now, it's a very difficult thing to undertake in a technical sense. If you use Logic synth sounds or VST, or manipulating presets, whatever you're controlling is still essentially a sample. Even your drums are samples. You could make tracks entirely from scratch using sine waves, but it is a real endeavour.
Is that something that you think can do, should do, or is even worth doing?
Daniel: I'd be into it. It's not what I'm doing right now, and it's very time consuming, but it's a very interesting concept. However, I don't think that the future lies solely in digital sounds. Bok Bok is really into being very analogue, and his shit sounds like the future. Even with us, people are surprised to see how much hardware we have in our studio. It's possibly a bit theoretical, but I don’t know what people mean when they say "digital". Do they mean technique, or an idea of what digital could be?
Asma: Not only that, the blending of digital and analogue can mess with these concepts. Digital sound can mimic analogue quality. It's a mimicry, but people can be tricked.
Do you find that people overlap the two when they talk to you about your music?
Daniel: Well.... for better or worse it's been difficult, because we’ve never figured out a routine or mindset to work within. Every track is a new struggle. People ask us how we work, and we never have an answer for them. I can show them, but I can get frustrated because I don’t even have a plan. I bounce from computer, to MPC, to hardware like crazy.
What do you think your sound right now is working towards right now?
Daniel: I do feel that things are moving in a more rich and melodic direction. I want it to feel more dynamic in that respect. I’ve always been attracted to things that feel raw and have that tactile nature, versus the contrived and the clean. Knowing what our tendencies are, though, I try to work against these tendencies to keep things interesting, but whenever we try to do something totally new, we still end us sounding very much ourselves. I have no idea if that's a good or bad thing yet.
Asma: For me, the endeavour is part of it. If you try to make music to sound like someone else, all you have is the end product.
Listen to Nguzunguzu's THUMP mix here