Anyone who knows about Wolf +Lamb will be well aware of their history, their influence on the New York scene and their discovery and support of some of today’s brightest young stars including Nicolas Jaar. They are also responsible for launching the Crew Love concept, a collective which tours the globe bringing the very best party vibes to every venue they attend; with DJs and live acts representing all through the night (or day) at every event. We’re big fans here at Deep House London, so we caught up with one half of the duo, Zev Eisenberg, to find out what they’ve been up to lately. Here’s what he had to say…
What have you been up to? Have you been DJing much?
No, we’ve been taking it easy on the DJing. We did a couple of shows here and there, but for the most part, we’ve been busting out tracks. Gadi put us on a strict schedule of 30 tracks before the year’s up- remixes, tracks… whatever! We’re not doing too bad, for not doing any in January anyway, we’ve got six going already.
So, when did you sit down and get all that planned out?
It wasn’t like that, we actually just started hitting it and making a bunch of tracks and everything was gelling real nice.
What have you been working on so far?
The whole spring is jammed up with albums from our artists. We really wanted to make a club track for each of the albums. That was really the start of the whole thing and we’ve pretty much wrapped that up now. We’re just working on the Slow Hands remix. They’re all like club bombs, because all the albums are all pretty mellow.
I don’t want to refer to it as “coming back”, but, do you feel like you’re going to have more prominence this year?
It’s weird because we’ve been at this for so many years that I think we just stopped looking at it in that way. We come, we go, we come, we go. It’s really hard to classify it. I think one thing we do want to do is hang back a little more this year and make more music, that’s for sure.
Is there a particular reason why less music was made and why now, you’re focusing more on hanging back and making more music?
No. I mean everything with us goes in waves and we don’t control them. We’re both very different personalities and we both have other shit going on. When planets align and everything is great in our musical sense, then we do production. Then, when we try to sit down, and we’ll sit down a couple of times, and nothing happens, then we give it up for a couple of weeks or months. Then try it again when we feel. There’s times when both of us are in the right head space, we want to tour and we do a lot of shows together. Then sometimes we don’t, so we do them separately. We’re very, very flexible as partners and give a lot of space to each other to have our own orbit. Then, when the orbit’s fine, we do what we want to do.
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I completely understand. It’s one of those things, like with anything that’s creative or that comes from the heart or soul, you never really want to force it. There might be times where you have to give yourself a kick up the arse, but you don’t want to be forcing yourself to make something happen, when it’s clearly not going to happen, for whatever reason it is. Especially where you guys have the option, or different kinds of outlets, like you say. You can go and play music, go gigging or touring for a while, then you can also kick back and hit the studio, when the inspiration is right.
Totally, and there’s also a lot of other work that we have going on, too. There’s a lot of Crew Love work that we handle. There’s a lot of other work going on that we believe, after so many years, everything is equally as important. If you’re a touring artist, you have to tour, you have to make music. If you’re running a label, you have to run the label, you have to do A&R, you’ve got to come up with ideas. There’s so many different things you have to do and all of them are important. So, because of that, none of them are important! So, really, I think that reflects on the nature of our label. It goes in spurts. We’ve never had label staff who show up every morning with things to do until very recently, for example.
So, how would you say your attitude and approach, to what we would define as a career, has changed and evolved since you first started the whole thing?
I think because of the way that our career in this industry grew very gradually. It grew from throwing parties in New York and transitioned from throwing parties primarily, to making music, to having a label. It evolved very, very gradually, over many, many years. Also Gadi and I had quite a tumultuous relationship in the beginning, because we were younger and dumber. We were just anxious to do things. However, I got sick a whole bunch of times in my twenties. I had cancer three times and that really kept on pulling back the reigns, if you will. Therefore, everything evolved very slowly and became about the preservation of the relationship, first and foremost. Everything fell in line behind that principle. Whenever we felt overwhelmed, like we weren’t being creative or that we were getting on each others’ nerves, then that dictated a step apart to regrow, individually, as artists and as people. Then when we did come together, we would have a lot to contribute to each other. That was the real survival skills that kicked in and everything, still, is dictated by that to this day. No project is important if we’re not in the mood or if it’s going to create a situation where we’re not working well with each other.
Would you say that your health issues possibly led to that point where u would take a distance from each other? With the dynamics of the relationship now, was that impacted by your health issues or was it just a natural kind of evolution that led you to separate?
Yes. Everything was impacted by my health issues. Everything was impacted by that. My own personal life, obviously, and my partner, who was pretty much at its mercy, like me. I was at the mercy of this thing that I wasn’t in control of and so was he. I’ve been in remission now for six years this January, but even after this went away for the last time, I’m still guided by my own self preservation. I can’t go touring for weeks on end. I have to stay relaxed, I have to stay calm and I have to constantly be putting myself in a situation where I can take care of myself. That means that I’m going to be in Miami for the winter and try to sit in the sunshine, have time to cook, meditate, take care and go shopping. These kind of things can’t be done on the road, it’s just not possible. Maybe I would like to go hang out in, Mexico, say, for a couple of months or whatever. However, it’s just not conducive to the things that I believe I have to do to survive.
I think at this point, both of us aren’t fighting with it anymore and we’ve learned to make the best of it. There was a point where we both had the option, where we did actually branch out and set up our own kind of things. Gadi more than me. He’s done solo work, he’s done a lot more collaborations, he DJs as Baby Prince and has a lot more shows under his belt. All of that has given him the option to do whatever he wants on his own and it’s not a problem, but we’re both extremely supportive of each others’ solo work. It just works out that we both shine a lot when we’re working with each other. So, there is options, and it’s hard to say, and maybe this is just something that came up in hindsight. But that kind of slow chug that we had, the accent to being world renown, touring the world and our labels growth, that taking off, taking off, and then pulling back again, because I got sick for 6 months, then taking off again, then pulling back again. That stop and go way of taking off probably contributed to how people take us. We still have this older, kind of, New York institution that’s been around forever. That’s not necessarily true, but the slow build has given us something which we embrace and we’re like, ‘you know what, that’s not a bad thing to have’. To be able to survive long term. Maybe it doesn’t shoot up so high, but it doesn’t dip down quickly either.
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I’m not really into hyped top acts at all, and the same with a lot of people I know. It’s a fast accent but it’s a fast decent as well isn’t it? Usually, people can burn out pretty quickly when they get over- hyped. So it’s nice to have that slow- burning effect. I think it gives you a bit more credibility as well. It shows that you can maintain for a longer period of time because you are creating music that resonates with people, for a longer period of time.
Yes, but that all ties into my health issues because that was absolutely like what was going on. I mean, we were ready, we had all the fuel, we were all geared up to take off, we had what we needed to take off. The first round of take off artists that we had was when Nico [Jaar] was part of it and we were ready to go straight to the moon. Then, everything just stopped for months and months and months, while I had like treatment or tried to figure out what to do, and had surgery or whatever I needed. It happened three fucking times. So that really, really changed the trajectory of, not only our career, but of all the people that are around us and that join together for the journey.
Well, its great that you’re still doing it, man!
Hey, part of that survival instinct is what we were talking about all along in the beginning, which is to say that, we’ve got a lot of pots in the fire. Then that way, for whatever cycle we’re in, for whatever mood that we’re in, for whatever situation I put myself in, because of my health, there’s always something for us to work on. There’s always something for us to be creative about. There’s always something for us to come together. Not just me and Gadi, but Soul Clap and WLSC – which leads the whole Crew Love thing. There’s always something for us to come together if we’re feeling creative. There’s always something fun to work on, that’s appropriate for that time.
So what else are you working on at the moment, apart from doing your music?
Ok, so, we’ve got the Music stuff. Touring is on hold until the big Crew Love album tour, coming in May, June and July. I’m pretty much hanging back until then as far as touring goes. The Crew Love Album is a big project that we’re all working on. Gadi and Eli had the actual musical content, the remixes, all those kind of things. Me and JMac do the media, artwork, graphics, the technical things and some of the financial things. That’s a lot of work right now. Then we have the Crew Love site, which is pretty time consuming but also growing at a nice rate. We also have the Wolf + Lamb label which has a lot of stuff going on.
Yea, tell me about that because you guys have got a lot going on…
We have a brand new act, which is Life On Planets. They have just injected this whole new feel, this whole new sound, a lot of new vocals and a lot of new stuff to play with. We’re having a show with them in New York this weekend, in and out in 24hrs in New York, then back to Miami. It’s just going to be us and them, which is something we like to do. We’ll have a showcase where we can really meld our sounds together and present a new sound. They also have an album coming out on Wolf + Lamb. Slow Hands has an album coming out on Wolf + Lamb, which he’s been working on for a really, really, really long time. We then have another new artist, Cameo Culture, who’s got an album coming out as well. So, there are three albums coming out and Crew Love’s album is also coming out on Wolf + Lamb. It’s actually a pretty tremendous amount of output, as some labels are geared up for that, such as Defected. Some of these labels’ have just churned out every week since they started and that’s their thing. Our output is much more limited because we tend not to put out albums or records from people that are not closely affiliated with us or that we wouldn’t really stand behind. Therefore, our output is very seasonal and has to do with when people are in the mood and making music.
Tell me a little bit more about the new guys then. Obviously, I was aware that Life On Planets were connected with you but tell me a little bit more about Cameo Culture. I didn’t realise that he had become connected with you guys?
Yes, he’s become connected with us, very behind the scenes, for a long time as he’s been working on Slow Hands’ album. He’s much more of an engineer which means that everything could take a long time if you’d let it. He’s just a super perfectionist, where as everyone else is much more off the cuff. I also think he has a foot in the disco/nu-disco sound which is probably why he has such a strong connection with Slow Hands. He had an album that he put together, we both liked it and we are going to put it out. He’s not really touring with us quite yet and I don’t know if that’s on the cards right now, but he’s definitely a friend, so that’s his connection with that.
The album was really cool, it has a really unique sound, very clean and polished. Very easy to digest. It’s an exciting project that’s been around for a minute. Interestingly enough, even before we were going to put it out, when he was making it, there were already collaborations with Crew Love artists like Greg Paulus, with his trumpets and singing… really, really incredible music. I had that about a year ago and pretty much rinsed the shit out of. It’s a good time for this to come out. It’s really weird that all these things got backlogged and now they’re all coming out one after another. But, it’s just the way it is.
So, in terms of the rest of the year, besides obviously having a target in terms of how many tracks you want to get out there/get done, is there a firm plan in the direction that you’re taking or are you guys at a stage now where by you take it as it comes?
We’re very rarely saying, ‘Ok, now this is gonna be the year that we do this and that,’ because, from our past history with each other, we already know that’s a bad idea. We’ll only end up putting stress on the relationship. It’s one thing when you’re in your twenties making music with someone, taking drugs, going out, girls, partying. But, when you’re in your early to late thirties, all of a sudden relationships can become very, very delicate. Therefore, I think the 30 tracks goal is something that we know we can do easily and we had such a good head start on that goal that it’s just gelling right now. Music is coming out, it’s working and we’re able to play it in our sets at peak time, which is something we had a lot of trouble dong before. We were making tracks but we had a very hard time playing them. Now, we’re making music, we’re playing our own music, which is really exciting, and I think that’s really getting us excited to just push them out.
Tell me a little bit more about the Crew Love album. Is it done now?
It’s around 95% done. Our track in there is electronic punk and is really way outside of our normal zone. It’s probably the best thing we could have put on there. It’s really, really different music and there are singles and tracks that can be played out. A lot of it is new, interesting directions that none of us have taken before such as hip hop and rock…
The Wolf + Lamb remix of ‘Cranes’ by Monkey Safari is out now – buy it here.