The following article encompasses the interview with Apollonia prior to their set at Paradigm Present\’s Halloween 2014 party. For information on the event itself, please see the event review article: Ghostly Grooves: Paradigm Underground\’s Halloween Party Review.
One Record Per Rotation
The Paris Underground. Berlin. Ibiza. Fabric. DC10. Panorama Bar. Richie Hawtin\’s Enter. Infamous Marathon Sets. Back to Back Synergy.
While all of the descriptive terms and locations listed above are commonly found in the stories of some of the most legendary underground artists, very rarely can they all be used to describe a single act. To Apollonia, every term is used to detail the progression the back to back trio from Paris have experienced from their first sets together at underground parties to their recent full length album release, Tour à Tour
John C: Thank you for taking the interview. I have really been looking forward to the opportunity to discuss music with you and am really excited for tonight\’s set. Since you have just released your first full length album, Tour à Tour, lets discuss the process behind it. What is the creativity process like for you guys and how has the collaboration process been as it transitions from performance to the studio?
Dan Ghenacia: That was a weird process, because we had been touring for two years and we had our solo careers, but things were coming together fairly quickly. After the two years we just decided to sit down in a studio and make some tracks. That was the idea. We headed to Berlin because the best studio is Shonky\’s studio and he is living in Berlin, Dyed also. So we spent last winter, the whole winter, in Berlin. No gigs on Thursday, no gigs on Sunday, only the weekends, so that was like 4 days a week of full work.
John C: How has the move from being located primarily in Paris to living between Berlin and Ibiza been for the group, has it had an impact on the music? The environment influence the sounds?
Dan Ghenacia: I think so. We started the album at the end really long season in Ibiza so we were full of the energy of the Island. Berlin is a really peaceful city, its really really quiet. So it was the perfect environment for us to go to for the creativity.
John C: From the initial days when you guys were just playing together, did you see at that point that you would continue playing together to become a group act and producing music together?
Dan Ghenacia: The thing is, playing together is something we just did. We had been doing it for a long time. We were playing at after parties, just for us and for fun. We have known each other for 15 years and it is a music friendship. So what is happening today is just the result of a long friendship, but when we started we were just having fun. It just happened naturally, it was never planned. When it became professional, I would say, is when we decided to do this style of back to back. To make it good, we couldn\’t make it messy. When you are playing a back to back with friends, you can play 2 records, 3 records, you know? But we decided that we were going to play one record each. That is what creates this sort of hypnotic style or loop between us, you might have the same type of style between the records but the back to back creates this hypnotic session. That is also why we like to play these longer sets, because it might not be working after 30 minutes or an hours, but by the end of the long set it is definitely working.
John C: With the style of playing one record each, you are relying heavily on the three of you being on the same vibe and able to perform within a certain flow of each\’s other\’s tracks. Do you think your history of a long friendship has made it easier to work in that one record style?
Dan Ghenacia: It is very easy. The difference between, I mean even when we do just back to back, like if I do back to back with Shonky or back to back with Dyed, there is a…I wouldn\’t say competition, but similar. But when we all play together, it is very different, we are no longer each playing, we are playing as one.
Shonky: And also, I would like to say….
(At this moment, Shonky, who had arrived slightly later than Dan and Dyed had just finished getting into his giraffe halloween costume. As he entered the conversation and the attention was directed towards him, Dan and Dyed, who for the first time are noticing that Shonky is in his giraffe outfit erupt into a laughter that temporarily took over the room.)
Shonky: We have been playing alot together over the years and when you play together, you learn about each other and you share alot of music, we don\’t keep the music to ourselves. We share alot. We learn from each other and we end up together nearly all the time. We had been playing together so much that it just became natural for us to be together in the club. In fact when we played together, we didn\’t practice or plan it, we didn\’t even have to try, it just happened.
John C: I think the natural synergy is apparent in your success. Your success as a back to back trio has led to regular play at some of the most legendary clubs. Speaking of club events, this year marked your first year playing for Richie Hawtin\’s ENTER party. How was that experience?
Dan Ghenacia: It was nice, it was really, really good. We played the Terrace at Space. That was a first for us, you know we are residents of DC10 in Ibiza. I have been a resident there for more than 10 years, Dyed a few years and Shonky also. It is good to go to another club and touch another crowd, but not really because we have come to know everyone in Ibiza. But it was a super experience.
John C: Electronic music has been rising in popularity lately, especially stateside. It is becoming much more popular than it had been for us in the years prior. Do you think this wave of popularity will have an effect on the underground side of our music, and do you think it will be positive or negative?
Dyed Soundorom: It is hard to say. I think the industry is doing really good. There is a strong EDM world and there is a strong underground, and that is good. If one affects the other one, certainly to a point. But, the difficult thing for us today is when you play to a big festival, say an EDM festival, and you are playing at a designated underground stage, I don\’t think that works to well.
John C: Sure, and I think that leads to a another point to discuss. Recently Seth Troxler, who has been the outspoken voice for the underground, has commented on that recently. In his opinion, they should exist only as two separate cultures and they shouldn\’t intermingle.
Dan Ghenacia: We do it. We have accepted the gigs. We have tried for the last two years to play the festivals, and I can honestly say we tried, but it is not really working. It\’s not the same. I can say for EDM you go for the energy and for the throwing your hands up. In the underground its about closing your eyes and getting lost in the music. It is really different approach to the dancing and the music.
Dyed Soundorom: We try to be positive about it. EDM music is all about the huge stage. But I like to think, somehow, these young kids who are getting into it as an introduction to what we call \”electronic music\” and maybe it will be the first step, and we can call it, you know electro, whatever you want to call it. However maybe they will meet someone new and they will be introduced to our world and love what it has to offer, so I think we can use that to stay positive about that scene. But mixing those two together, no, not really or at all.
John C: I can certainly understand that. One of the concepts behind why I was willing to take this writing position was because I shared your view and I thought it gave me an opportunity to introduce the music we love to some of them that might not be aware of it. On the point about it being a first step, or an introduction, here it is almost the logical first step, from ads on the radio to artist spotlights in articles, it follows the popularity of the \’EDM\’ world, so it is naturally where most people find themselves.
Shonky: 15 years ago, or whatever, when there was a wave of dance music and the productions were pretty bad, it was already the same problem. When you mentioned electronic music, they associated it with that kind of music and it was not the case. When I started to listen to electronic music, and I mean the electronic music you heard on the radio, it was really bad and it was already going on in the same way. It was two different worlds and there was no comparing them. It is the same now. There can be a trance scene and there can be a garage scene and they will remain different. There is no reason to compare them, and I don\’t understand why people from the outside try to compare them.
Dan Ghenacia: I think in the beginning of techno culture, people liked it because they felt a bit like rebels, you could feel different. You could listen to music that others didn\’t listen to, and that made you feel as if you were part of a movement, and unfortunately that thought process doesn\’t seem to exist anymore.
John C: I think here at least we are starting to see growth in our underground scene with more people attending, more events being held. You will see that tonight. The party these guys have put together have been well received, and there are others in the city that are contributing to the scene\’s integrity as well. So hopefully we can hold onto that cultural aspect here, and with that, I thank you for making it out to Chicago and playing for us tonight.
Apollonia (All together): Thank you!
John C: I also was able to catch your performance at Riverwest. That festival provided a unique contrast to the other festivals we see here in that they concentrated on the artists that are big in the underground scene, artists that I appreciate more and you would be used to playing with. Do you think these smaller festivals that cater to a specific segment of the music can be more successful than the mixed genre festivals for the underground scene?
Shonky: I think it depends on the target and how big you want it to be. You can do a big festival or a small festival. I suppose you could try and make it work if you cater to different scenes, having an EDM crowd and an underground crowd, but the mix of the crowd is not good. They don\’t match up much, the people will mix together and the scenes wouldn\’t stay separate. People expect different music or different things. You can have a trance scene and you can have a big room scene, but they don\’t normally mix well.
John C: Out of all the places you have had the opportunity to play for, does once place in particular stand out to you. Is it naturally DC10 from your history there, or something else?
Dan Ghenacia: The top 3 are DC10, Fabric and Panorama Bar, easily.
John C: I guess it would be an easy choice when you are playing at clubs that are that well regarded.
Dan Ghenacia: As for reasons why, in some ways it is a great experience to play the three clubs, they have different sound systems, the vinyl is working perfectly…
Shonky: …and the energy.
Dan Ghenacia: The energy, definitely, the lights, they are the definition of good clubs for us. They represent three different styles, but three very good styles.
Dyed Soundorom: Here in the US, we like Output in New York, Space Miami, and here we really like Spybar.We also really like Stereo in Montreal, especially for their sound system which is magical.
Shonky: I think what can be said for the states in general compared to Europe, is a lot of the clubs in the states are refurbished and everything is new, so alot of the decks are working good. In Europe, some of the clubs are 30 years old, and not refurbished, so the sound system isn\’t always the greatest. Here in the states, it is almost as if the club always feels new, so there isn\’t as many issues with the systems and that is nice.
John C: Well we are about 5 minutes from your posted set time, so I will make this the last question. Apollonia has become notorious for their extended marathon sets. I am someone who will do a night at the club, then an afterparty until the morning, and the next day start it all over again. By the end of the weekend, I can barely stand, yet you guys keep on going. Whats your secret?
Dan Ghenacia: Swimming.
John C: That simple, huh? Just keeping active?
Dan Ghenacia: Yep, 2-3 times a week, I have to. I have no choice. After 40 years old you have to do something.
Dyed Soundorom: I think to do it properly you have to take off a weekend, maybe every 2-3 weekends, you take one off. But most importantly you have to love what you do.
(Both Dan and Dyed turn to face Shonky for a response who is midway through taking a drink of his coconut water).
Shonky: …and you have to drink a lot of coconut water! (Room fills with laughter again).
I want to sincerely thank Apollonia for taking the interview, Stephanie who coordinated the time on behalf of the artists, and Joe from Paradigm for his assistance in linking me with the artist.