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Interview: Secretsundaze

Published On 11/06/2018 | Interviews

For 16 years Secretsundaze have marked themselves out as one of the most distinct, vital and consistent voices in dance music.

Having long since bloomed beyond its London home base, every branch of Secretsundaze’s complete identity stems its co-founders, the DJ duo of Giles Smith and James Priestley. As a DJ/Production duo, party brand, and record label, Secretsundaze continues to exemplify the “DJ’s DJ,” whether digging in solo, handing off between marathon sets, or throwing down back-to-back.

On 15 June, the duo bring their latest single, “Still Hope”, to Phonica Records where they team up with British born Cypriot award winning poet and essayist, Anthony Anaxagorou, as well as with Ex Slum Village Detroit producer Waajeed on remix duties. Here, we discuss the upcoming release with Secretsundaze, as well as getting some insight into their own tricks for longevity within the scene’s rigors.

“We have been touring for many years and have enjoyed the hedonistic side but both are becoming more health conscious”

We’re speaking here around the your latest release “Still Hope’. As I ask every creative with a new project, what was the original seed that sprouted into the final version of the original mix?
The original seed was sewn from a studio session where we just laid down a very simple stripped back house groove and immediately thought an interesting vocal could sit well on the track. Many artists that operate in our field might go for a deep US kinda moody-spoken-word-vocals but we wanted to represent the UK and imagined a London accent on the track. Our good friend and collaborator Simbad had done some sessions with UK poet Anthony Anaxagorou and he hooked us up. We are really happy with it and stoked to work with him. He’s a serious wordsmith with deep and potent lyrics. Check him out!

Anthony is an award winning poet and essayist, but what is it about his approach to words that resonates with you?
Quite simply Anthony speaks the truth and straight from the heart – anyone that communicates in this way wins us over. There is so much injustice in the world right now and Anthony’s lyrics cover so much ground tackling many subjects from homegrown issues like Grenfall to wider political themes like Imperialism. Also he manages to skillfully connect with younger readers and listeners on a street level by being so well informed, knowledgeable and eloquent.

The release also features remixes from Wajeed. Why was Wajeed that right person to offer his (multiple) interpretations of the track?
Waajeed was one our top choices to remix ‘Still Hope’ so we’re super stoked to have him feature on the 12′. We have been huge fans of his work for years from his days with Slum Village working with J Dilla and co and now with his more house-y stuff. The x2 12’s he released on his own ‘Dirt Tek Reck’ particularly the track ‘Winston’s Midnight Disco’ was a favorite of ours in 2017 and we constantly bumped it on our DJ sets and on our monthly show on NTS. His latest track ‘Mother’ on Planet E was dope too! He submitted about 5 diff loops and we chose a more gnarly banger (the Hardcore Dub) and a deeper more jazzy ‘Searching dub’ to balance it.

Explain your approach to the “Poems In The Heart Floor” version?


The original is quite a purist track for special moments for a slightly more bold DJ with the lyrics taking over the track and maybe not for the peak time moments. We wanted to do an alternative more dance floor orientated dub that was slightly easier to drop in most DJs set. The Poems in the Heart Floor version serves this purpose.

The package will be released via Phonica Records of which you have some nice things to say about. Can you explain a bit about the creative environment and relationship with Phonica Records and Secretsundaze?


We have a very long-standing relationship with Phonica and particularly Simon the manager of the store. We were friends pre-Phonica around 15 years ago when he was the manager at Koobla records in Berwick street in Soho. He then moved onto Phonica which he was instrumental in setting up and of course we followed him there as regular customers. James did a stint working there back in 2005 or so. We just sent Simon the demo and he was straight back to us saying he wanted it and it felt totally natural and fitting to release with them.

What does the future hold for Secretsundaze through the rest of 2018?


We have a really busy few months ahead with our parties in Barcelona during Sonar week on the Friday and Sunday, then we play at the first Kala festival in Albania and Love International in Croatia soon after. A weekend out in the USA at the beginning of July playing Nowadays in NYC, Smartbar in Chicago and Flash in DC. Then Paris and Valencia and a Berghain gig again in September. 

Release wise we of course have this Phonica record out Friday 15th June and then have another 12′ signed to Mule Musiq out September time. We are really enjoying hosting our monthly show on NTS right now so more of that. Party wise in London we continue our monthly All Night Long sessions at The Pickle Factory each month which is definitely or favourite small club to play in London, then our big birthday party on August 26th at Oval Space with Floating Points, Waajeed – live, Carista, Charlie Bones and Lorenzo and special surprise guest from Detroit! 



I’ve been asking a lot of artists these days the following question also: What do you do to maintain mindfulness/stay grounded during the rigours of artist travel? Do you have any processes or rituals
We are both getting far more aware of this. We have been touring for many years and have enjoyed the hedonistic side but both are becoming more health conscious and exercise a fair bit. Giles does quite a bit of yoga and meditation and James always takes his running gear on tour.

“Still Hope” is available 15 June on Phonica Records PRE ORDER

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About The Author

Steve comes to Amsterdam by way of Brooklyn, Connecticut, Mumbai, and Tokyo. He researches media culture at UvA, while already holding degrees from UCONN (CT) and The New School (NYC). Aside from DHA, Steve is the Senior Editor for cinema platform IndieNYC.com, and writes on issues relating to film, culture, politics & electronic music. Every so often he also dabbles in photography and filmmaking.