Monday, January 23, 2012

Caytas & Patz "Are You Afraid" Interview

Alex Caytas and Aleks Patz are two producers from Stockholm. They are also cousins. This month the pair make a debut on Truesoul with a deeply hypnotic and darkly flavored track, ‘Are You Afraid. The track is released along with remixes from an all-Swedish line up - Nihad Tule and Joel Mull. Ahead of the release we caught up with Caytas & Patz to find out more about the latest signing to Truesoul….

For those people are not aware of your previous work, can you tell us about your sound?

Alex Caytas:
I think our current sound is difficult to give one name too. We have just focused on making tracks we like and that are interesting and new for us. We are trying to sound like something that we have not done before. Being focused on making tracks for the dancefloor – that’s the most important thing for us

Aleks Patz:
It’s really difficult to pinpoint the sound we play. It is everything between house and techno - 116 BPM through to 128 BPM. We try always to be vibrant. You can find every sort of style of music in our listening repertoire from classical, soul, jazz, blues and if you look into our back catalogue you can see the sound change every 3 months or so and I think you can find every sort of style of music in our repertoire.

How did you get into making music?

Caytas:
When I was at school I took some guitar lessons and Patz can play the piano but we started making music on the computer at home in our late teens but not in any sort of serious way and from there got into DJ’ing and then became more interested in production and started to take things more seriously.

You mention you are both DJ’s as well as producers. For much of the last two years you have held a monthly residency at Bern’s in Stockholm. How was that experience for you?

Caytas:
Berns is the one venue amongst few that is focusing on the non-commercial sounds. Booking smaller artists who are doing interesting things. Mostly in Stockholm the focus is on commercial music and commercial clubs. The crowd is great and they come to and create a really good atmosphere.

Patz:
It really helped us being able to play our productions to a good crowd before we released them. 2.35:1 in the basement with 200 people. We were so close to the audience and you get the best people for those nights. There are only a small number of people who are into our sound in Stockholm and they all gathered up for those events and made it a really special event. The booked good artists week in week out and this created a following because they were so consistent. The do shows twice a week, Friday and Saturday, you always know you get good music, good line up. There is quality all over – the sound system and everything; you know what you get when you go there.

How did this release come about? Have you know Adam for a while and been sending him demos?

Patz:
We actually had a deal with Sven Väth for Cocoon but we could not agree on a good way to release this track. A good friend of ours, Nihad Tule, heard the track and suggested we speak to Adam about it. We were never totally into the Drumcode sound although we have been playing some of Adam’s track for many years like China Girl which we played a lot but Nihad told us Adam was putting an effort towards Truesoul and moving the label more towards our sound. We were really surprised, as we never thought that was an option.

Caytas:
We always saw Adam as Drumcode and that was techno and that is more rough than the music we make our tracks. We thought for Adam we would need to send a track a minimum of 128 BPM. We always get that picture because he is so profiled with Drumcode. But now its not so clear what is techno and what is house. Its so spread out. You can have a dark track that if it was 130 BPM it could be a DC track from 1997 but if its 123 BPM you could release it on many labels that would be interested. For example, you go on to Beatport and listen to something which is labeled as deep house but when you listen its techno. Our track released on Cocoon this summer was 119 BPM and for me it was pure deep house but when it came out people called it modern techno. But that suits us well because we are versatile and we like to broaden our horizon.

Looking back to before you both started producing, what are you memories of the music that made you notice electronic music? What got you hooked?

Patz:
Around the age of 12-15 I was never really into electronic music as trance was so big around then and I felt that had no charm. Around 2000 I got into Acid Jazz and St Germaine compilation that was like house beats with Jazz melodies. So that really got me into 4/4 beats, between 120-125 BPM and from that it evolved to house, old school house like Strictly Rhythm and then it got deeper and deeper and we ended up here where we are somewhere between house and techno.

Caytas:
For me it was always house before I even knew what it was called. I remember wondering what the music was that I heard played at fashion shows. It was so cool. It’s a nice beat and no vocal destroying, feels so grown up and cool. Then I got into house and real house tracks which people like Danny Tenaglia were playing but it took me a while to get anywhere near techno. You need to learn to love or like techno. You have to through the easier music before you can reach the real techno. I remember I was really surprised when Dubfire started to release techno a few years back and it became more minimalistic and then there was this backlash with things getting harder. We’ve always liked techno but I can’t say we have ever done techno before. Our latest release on Truesoul is techno but its still 122 BPM.

So how do Caytas & Patz make music? What equipment do you use and what is the process you both go through to come up with your music?

Patz:
We started out using Fruity Loops on a PC but for the recent time we have being using Logic on our Macs. Hardware wise we had a Virus before but we sold it because we were satisfied with the plug ins we had and we never used it. For synthesizers we use the ones that are built in for Logic or use Predator for our basslines. We work separately on a groove or a bassline and then when we are feeling it and we feel this has potential we come together or send parts to each other. We rarely sit together from the start of the track. It works much better for us to fit in with making a track when the other is stuck.

Caytas:
To be totally honest, the process is also affected by things that just happen. We sold our speakers, my soundcard broke a while back and instead of buying new one I just plugged my headphones into the computer to produce that way, to borrow the soundcard to be cheap. That’s how we work. It’s nothing fancy. It’s supposed to be easy and done at home.

Patz:
So it’s actually true that our two biggest releases to date – for Cocoon and this Truesoul – were made in headphones! So it’s really ironic that the previous releases when we had the Genalex etc did not make it on to better labels. So its hard to say that what equipment you use will make a track better. It’s a very natural process for us and I guess its more about the spirit with which the tracks are made rather than the equipment that is used.

Caytas:
We don’t use a lot of synths and that’s because we love sampling. I mean this kind of music is done on samples and I think we have got really good at finding samples and we have our own way to work which is fast and fun. We don’t really need a lot of hardware etc.

You mention sampling… the main hook from the track is a vocal sample. Can you tell us a little about how you found that sample?

Caytas:
It’s sort of funny… The sample comes from a hip-hop track. It’s really old and was an intro line from a track so it’s hard to remember where it came from but we have had it for ages. We have tried it on loads of previous tracks before we decided to use it on this beat. It’s a really old thing we had lying around but it never worked out or we didn’t find a place to use it.

Patz:
We had the sample before in maybe 4 or 5 track but it didn’t have the “thing” the extra thing. But then we had the main groove and with the melody that come with the second drop we felt it needed something vocal that get the vibe 100% so you really get the shivers when you listen to the track because it s really kind dark. And then we remembered we had this vocal so we cut it, lets try it out, lets pitch it lower a little but and put some affects on it and everything. And then we were just looking at each other and it was whoa – there it is. That’s the thing, sometimes it fit perfectly and sometimes it doesn’t quite fit but this time it really worked. It was kind of the same with the cocoon track. That uses a vocal that is taken from a John Lee Hooker Blues record!

Patz:
When we first started out we thought we would not be make a proper track with out the Genalec 80/40. We thought we would not be able to finish a track without that sort of equipment. You are fooling yourself as you are taking it from the wrong angle. A good idea is always a good idea, you just need to tweek on the levels and stuff like that but that’s easier to do when you have a trained ear and you have made other tracks and you know how high this can be or you know what can be sticky or how a bassline should sound and you get preferences.

Did you have any input into getting the track remix?

Caytas:
Well, like we said it was Nihad Tule who gave the track to Adam and then he said he wanted to remix it so that happen very naturally.

Patz:
Funnily, we actually sent the track to Joel last winter because this track is one year old and he really liked it. When he heard we had signed it to Truesoul he asked if he could remix it so we sort of closed the circle to make a really Swedish EP. That was pretty nice because Joel is one of the old guys in the game who has a really great history and right now I am getting the impression Joel is very experimental in his sound, looking at new angles and stuff like that so it was really exciting to have him remix our track.

Caytas:
Its funny because we have never released on a Swedish label before and we are really happy that it happening and in such a Swedish way because we feel that it is important to support your local labels and artists.

Its been covered a hundred times in interviews as to why Sweden has managed to create so many producers but what is your take on it?

Patz:
It is because its dark man! It’s depressing. For 10 months of the year its minus 10 degrees and the only thing that can heat you up is the computer!

Caytas:
It’s true though. If you are a teenager or in your 20’s and you are not making music then you are a computer geeks! That’s how Sweden work/… but honestly, I think we also have a lot of tradition with a lot of good producers and artists, also outside of electronic music so I think that it is just in our blood.

Would you say there is a common Swedish sound?

Caytas:
I think the one common thread is the quality of the production. All those producers’ producer really well and have a really clean sound, leading the way in the technical part of it. I think Swedish music is always really well produced.

On the subject of the technical side of making music, I understand that both of you have trained on piano and guitar. Does this come through in your music? Does the guitar man do the basslines and the piano man does the melodies?

Patz:
Actually that is a really different from time to time. It’s 50/50 on everything. Sometimes Caytas gets a really good basslines, sometimes he gets the groove, and sometimes I get the groove. I think that’s what is so good about the way we work together; we have found a sort of way to compliment each other. The other guy can fill the gap that you want to be filled because you know what the other guy is trying to say. If we make a groove he get the feeling of the track and we go that way. I don’t know how other people do it but we are really grateful that we know each other privately because we are cousins and also because we have such an easy way to make track. We hear other artists have problems and disagree and of course we have differences of opinion but it always ends up being good.

Caytas:
Actually I have to say that Patz piano training could help more than my guitar training because I wasn’t really interested in the guitar. When I was younger I just listen to hip-hop all the time and to be honest I only went to the lessons to be kind to my mother. I was always asking the teacher why do I have to learn this because I cannot play Tupac on the guitar! But maybe it helped me in some sort of theoretical way.

So, Patz, do you still get a chance to play the piano at all?

Patz:
Sometimes I do but I would not say I play on a regular basis but sometimes I do to just get into it and play some classical music. But you know these days we are so focused on sitting and created a groove instead. Maybe it’s the next hit I’m missing!

Caytas:
In all honesty, who needs guitar training when you have all the samples we have collected. It’s quite easy when you work the way we do

At what point did you guys find producing became as easy as it is now? Was there a certain point that you r skills got to a level that it just clicked?

Patz:
I think it was after we stopped doing our Sour Grapes alias. After that we both felt we knew what we wanted to do. We had explored a variety of genres for two genres, but when we started Caytas & Patz we really felt we knew what we wanted to do and after that it was easier for us to break it down and do what we really wanted to do

Caytas:
We really explored a lot of options because we like to produce different stuff and before we tried to do kind of commercial techno that was harder than what we are doing now and we did a thing with Dave Spoon, Chris Lake, Tocadisco and remixed Deadmau5. It was fun but it wasn’t really what we wanted to do so when we backed out of that and started doing Caytas & Pataz on our own terms it felt like we had no pressure and we could do just what we wanted to do and that was a good moment for us.

Patz:
We had some time where we were 9 times out of 10 we were discussing what we were doing. We were having a discussion about what to do instead of actually doing it. After a while it was like, ‘hey, what are we doing here?’

Caytas:
Yeah, we were discussing it while being disgusted and that was the problem but once we found our way to being Caytas & Patz and doing what we love it has been quite easy and really fun.

Well, that sounds like a happy point to end the conversation. It has been fun to learn more about you and your work so thank you for chatting to us. However, before we go I thought it would be interesting to ask you guys… “Are You Afraid?” and if so, what of?

Caytas:
Hahaha… that one will be quite easy for me as everyone tells me I am a hypochondriac so I already have a list in my head!

Caytas & Patz Top 10 Are You Afraid List

01. Madonna

02. The spinning rainbow circle on my Apple Mac
03. Communism 

04. Greed

05. Pointless days in the studio

06. Poverty

07. Evil people

08. Boredom

09. War

10. Man Sh**ty winning the English Premier League

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