Fluid Electronics returns in 2021 with a collaboration between Dutch veteran Jarno, the man behind Trouw’s infamous Below night, and Fluid Electronics’ owner Shirazi. The EP features remixes from Amsterdam’s Love Over Entropy and seminal Rotterdam based duo, Duplex.
The A-side finds Shirazi & Jarno dishing out a vaporous dub with the title track ‘Late Night Thoughts’. Engineering a mix of reverb drenched atmospheric techno, laced with hedonistic house and mystical melodies on a dreamy tip. Love Over Entropy is known for his meticulous audio crafting, blending experimental IDM and other worldly melodies with techno. Here he ups the tempo and overall vibe, propelling the listener in a blazing corridor of synth arpeggios and luminous chords. The flip side sees Shirazi go solo on the ethereal ‘Continue Learning’, where evocative spaciousness and textural finesse merges the immersive depth of Basic Channel-esque vibes, with straightforward dancefloor dynamics. Rotterdam’s Duplex started making soulful, deep techno in ‘97. Since then, their music has spread the world over via the hallowed Clone Records and Frantic Flowers. On the remix the Dutch duo provide a tight and jacking version, tweaking it into a clinical and club-ready, dark and dangerous weapon.
Artist: Shirazi & Jarno
Title: Late Night Thoughts
Label: Fluid Electronics
Release Date: 2021-05-27
Interview with Shirazi
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today Amir. How have you been this last year? Have you managed to stay motivated? 2020 was a very tough year. Firstly, there was the fear of catching covid. Secondly, I am very blessed with having lovely family and friends. Not being able to see them normally or hug them was very frustrating. Thirdly, it is sad to see small companies, bars, clubs, restaurants, gyms, etc. struggle not to go bankrupt. All these people have families to take care of. The Dutch government tries to help, but that might not be sufficient. Still, I tried to stay positive and concentrate on things I can influence like being there for my family and friends who need help. I also have a daytime job which needs to be done. Working hard on the start of my labels was also a way to try to forget all the misery around us.
Where are you based? How is the mood and the situation where you live now? I live in The Hague in The Netherlands, but my roots are in Rotterdam. At the end of the 2021, we are moving back to the Rotterdam area. A few artists on the labels are also Rotterdam-based. Therefore, I can say that the labels have a Rotterdam foundation. In the Netherlands, like in many countries, we are longing for a life without covid. Hopefully, we can reopen many parts of the economy, so people can earn a decent living. It’s time that we can enjoy ourselves again, without too many restrictions. Rotterdam is known for its hard-working mentality. We will get back on our feet. I do realize that in many parts of the world the situation is worse.
You launched last year two labels side by side. Tell us about music policy and direction of Fluid Electronics? And your label Fluid Funk? When I was sending around demo tracks to labels, the answer that I got the most was: we like the music, but it does not exactly fit the genre we are aiming for. I understand that a label needs to make a choice about which genre it wants to represent, but sometimes this strategy feels shallow. I love underground electronic music across the board, and I wanted to be able to present all these genres to the world when running a label. That’s why I chose to split the electronic spectrum in 2 parts. Fluid Electronics focuses on techno, house, ambient and other genres that have the same intensity, while Fluid Funk focuses on soulful house, disco, funk, soul, etc. By running two labels, I can release whatever I like. Even in this set up, it’s sometimes difficult to decide where a certain type of music fits the most. The sound of Floating Points for example would suit both labels. Both labels aim to brings artists and listeners together, but also artists themselves: collaborations could lead to the nicest results, when artists start working outside their comfort zone. It has always been one of my passions: bringing people together.
How do you go about finding new music for your labels? Some producers find us directly, but in general we tend to approach producers ourselves. It’s fun to search for talent on Soundcloud or Spotify. There is also a large community of talented artists in the Netherlands, mostly based in Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
What were you doing musically before you set up these labels? What is your background as a producer? My life as a producer has several stages. I started producing music with a high school mate in the early 90s. We used to create tracks on an old pc and a Casio keyboard with an extremely limited number of sounds. We would take a floppy disk with midi files to an older friend who had his own hardware studio. We would replace every sound in our tracks with sounds from professional synths and drum computers. We released music on compilation CDs of Precious Records from The Hague, which focused on Dutch talents. This was also the starting point of Armin van Buren’s career, who was also a high school student at that time. After a while we accepted that building our own hardware studio was extremely expensive and we could not combine it anymore with going to college. This marked the temporary end of my production life. In 2006, I discovered the Dutch techno label Delsin and found out that one of my favourite producers on the label (Quince) only used software to create his warm Detroit techno sound. I approached him and he helped me a lot with getting back into the production game. I got signed by Team Records, which was founded by Secret Cinema. I started performing live on stage in the Dutch club scene for a couple of years and was aiming for gigs at Dutch summer festivals. Unfortunately, the global credit crisis ruined my plans. I had a daytime job in the financial sector and the crisis meant that I had to spent most of my spare time in the office. It even ended the second stage of my production life. A few years ago, I restarted my production activities for the second time, which was followed by the setup of the two labels. I still have a daytime job in the financial market, I have a family and the two labels. It’s a challenge to run all of this at the same time, but if it gives me positive energy. I will continue with my musical activities.
Can you share some of your release highlights? My highlight was the release of the Morning Drive EP on Team Records in 2008, which included a remix of my hero Vince Watson. The EP was supposed to be released on Vince’s Bio label, which unfortunately it went belly up. To make up a bit for my shattered dream’ to release on Bio, Vince was so kind to contribute to the EP with a remix.
Talk us through the concept of the ‘Late Night Thoughts EP’. The two original tracks were created in different periods. The track Continue Learning was created first. It was the result of private production classes I took with Love Over Entropy. I tried to incorporate all aspects that I learned during these classes into this track like sound design, stereo imaging, arrangement techniques, drum programming, automation, etc. When I finished Late Night Thoughts with Jarno, I felt that the two tracks fit together quite well. The final step was finding the right remixers.
How did you get together with Jarno? What’s the story on your collaboration? When I was performing live on stage in 2008, I was booked at a party in the Sugar Factory in Amsterdam, alongside DJs Nuno dos Santos (Something Happening Somewhere label) Jarno, Love Over Entropy and Baikal (Maeve label). It was a great night, and I had a special click with Jarno who was releasing music on Amsterdam’s Rush Hour label at that time. We decided to work together on new music, but it took years before it happened.
I hear that Laurent Garnier is a fan of veteran producer Love Over Entropy! What have LOE done on the remix to the original track? How have they reworked it? LOE has a signature sound which really appeals to me. We wanted to ask a remixer that we know well, because the original track felt like our baby which should be treated carefully by someone we trust. Asking LOE was therefore an easy choice. He was able to keep the vibe of the original track and blend it with his own hypnotizing sound. We are happy with the result. He even delivered 2 remixes, the vinyl edits, and the longer version, which is only available digitally.
Techno legends Duplex is a name we know well with their countless deep and soulful Techno releases on Clone and klakson. How did you get the duo onboard? I know Duplex’ Chris Callahan via our mutual friend Otto Koppius. Otto used to run the techno label Keynote and discovered Joris Voorn (Muted Trax Part 1 to 3). I sent the 2 original tracks to Chris and they decided to remix the track Continue Learning. The result is stunning.
Do you think it’s essential to have remixers onboard releases? Having remixers on board is not a necessity, but it can provide broader exposure for the original artist and the label. It is always a mutual decision of the label and the original artist to go for a remix. Together we decide which remixer we want to approach.
What are the ingredients you think makes a good techno record? That’s a good question. For me, a good techno track must have emotion and soul, even though the sounds are played by machines. It must be timeless, which means you can still play it 20 / 30 years later. Occasionally, I can enjoy a more loop-based track, but I love melodies and pad chords. Love Over Entropy once asked me: can you produce a track without pads? My answer was: I can, but I don’t want to.
What do you think is one of the greatest techno records of all time? It’s extremely hard to choose. Two tracks that have influenced me a lot as a producer are Vince Watson’s Mystical Rhythm and Aril Brikha’s Groove La Chord. The former is extremely melodic, and the latter is a dance floor bomb. I must mention this one too: Laurent Garnier – Acid Eiffel.
We are premiering the title track. Talk us through the composition of this a little? I created the foundation of the track with the bassline and lead synth and made a basic arrangement. I sent it over to Jarno who added multiple drum layers and the piano-like sound. Especially that piano sound was exactly what I needed to finish the track. I also added some vocal snippets from a CD that I bought in a Chinese city called Lijiang with music from the Nashi community.
When you create a new track do you have a particular production process that you follow? It depends, sometimes I start working on the drums first, but most of the times pad chords and a bassline are the first ingredients. It doesn’t really matter where I start. If I feel that the track is going somewhere, it’s worthwhile to continue.
What is your favourite piece of studio equipment that you used in the making of this EP? Why do you like it? I never actually used hardware in my studio. I once bought an old Ensoniq synth, which was recommended to me by Joris Voorn. He used it to create his debut album, which I loved. I switched DAWs a few times, going from Cubase to Reason and finally to Ableton Live, which I also used for my live setup. The software synths are getting better and better, and I did not feel the urge to buy hardware equipment. Years ago, there was always a discussion about software vs. hardware, but many producers use both. I am a huge fan of the classic Roland 808 and 909 drum sounds, especially the 808 kick.
When you are making a track, I am curious to know how do you know when to stop tweaking? Good question. I had a period of not being able to finish a track. I would tweak it that long until it turned into a completely different track. I really needed to learn two things: stay focused on finishing tracks and leave tracks that are not good enough. Time is precious and should not be wasted.
As a DJ, how do you source new music? It has always been my passion to discover new music. Back in the days, I would go to local records stores in Rotterdam, but nowadays you don’t even need to leave your house. A bit of the charm is lost in this way. I receive a lot of promo tracks but finding that one track which you heard somewhere in a club or a festival remains a magical moment.
What are your thoughts on Spotify as a label? How do you use it? Spotify has changed the way that people listen to music. Streaming is a very efficient way for consumers to have an unlimited number of tracks to choose from. Artists and labels are very much focused on increasing the number of streams, also by chasing Spotify and private playlists. Unfortunately, this is all about statistics and algorithms, but artists and labels do not get a fair share of the earnings from subscribers. We need another platform that supports creativity instead of technology. A good alternative is Bandcamp, where there is more interaction with fans and a fairer share of revenues flow to the labels and artists.
What advice would you give to young people starting up a label? Think about why you want to start a label and which type of music you want to represent. The music determines the identity of the label, but the artwork sets the visual identity, which is also important. Try to work with companies (distributor, PR, designers, etc.) which are reliable and professional. The is also important when you start a project with an artist. It is a mutual effort to make a release successful. Only work with artists who want to make that journey with the label.
What’s coming up next for the label Fluid Electronics that we should look out for? The pipeline is quite heavy. We have a split EP coming up from Love Over Entropy and French veteran Steve Sibra. Dutch Detroit techno legend Orlando Voorn will release a 2-tracker and the French brothers, G-Prod, will release an EP with remixes from Derek Carr and John Shima.