Following Doza’s epic theme “The Nautilus” comes the warm and uplifting single-tracker “Andy, Wally & Ray”.
As where the former was an exercise in self-limitation, using only sounds from one keyboard, ‘Andy, Wally & Ray’ brings three key instruments together again: the Alesis Andromeda A6, Waldorf Microwave XT, and Ray Kurtzweil’s stalwart PC2x. Here, Doza illustrates the concept of electronic instruments as friends, complete with personalities and their own voices to be discovered and celebrated. With crecendos a plenty, ‘Andy, Wally & Ray’ walks listeners through choral peaks and valleys with layers of blissful electronic nuances perfect for dance floors and headphones alike.
“Andy, Wally & Ray” is available 25 May on Hunt & Gather PRE ORDER
Carlos, introduce us to Doza in one sentence….
Doza is a character I developed as a kid: born in the searing summer heat of West Texas, a dualistic, passionate and challenging son of two beautiful Venezuelan lovers, raised in the rich, damp soil of the Pacific Northwest, a follower of muses, a traveler and a sailor, and no-one at all because the self is an illusion and we are all one spec of dust in the eye of the universe.
Your home town Seattle, as we know, is synonymous as the birth place of Grunge. How would you say the electronic scene is fairing in a City that was built upon Band culture?
It’s interesting how this is a question I’ve gotten since I first started making music in the early 2000s. At that time a decade had passed since those bands had died or disbanded. We’re 25 years on now.
We like to simplify music movements as products of certain cities or regions or eras. Detroit with Techno, Berlin with Minimal, the U.K. with Progressive and Drum and Bass, and Chicago and New York with House. But those places don’t own those art forms, or vice versa. There’s room for all kinds of art within a city.
We had Rock here before Nirvana. We had Jimmy Hendrix, Quincy Jones, Steve Miller, Heart. “Grunge” was coined by some writer from L.A. or whatever. It was just a three-year Rock phenomenon around 1990-1993. We’ve been raving pretty hard in Seattle since then. There have been slow times for electronic music through the decades, yes, but we banded together and made it through. We’re lucky to have the longest-running House night in the U.S. called Flammable at a historic queer-friendly club called Re-bar that has hosted many of the most legendary acts in underground House and Techno history. Nirvana was once kicked out of Re-bar on the night of their own record release party. We’ve gone from hosting DIYs in Thai restaurants and small bars, to Decibel Festival taking over the city’s best venues for 4 nights every year with everything from Nicolas Jaar, Nils Frahm, Peter Hook & The Light to stalwarts like Dettman, Dixon and Hawtin. We’ve also seen a surge of young production crews coming up through our clubs, warehouses and galleries, bringing fresh artists and events. They’re picking up where Decibel left off and it’s been inspiring to watch.
Would you say the City has an influence on your own music at all?
l’d say aspects of the city do. The cloudy weather does foster more introspection, as I’m sure is the case with the other cities I mentioned earlier, or like Sweden which seems to have made an industry out of turning crap weather into hit music. And there are those moments in our dark clubs with a couple-hundred other friends when we all simultaneously experience the frisson moment in front of a great DJ. That happens a lot here. We form very eager audiences. My influences come from all over. I do travel a bit and take opportunities to hear artists and DJs in other cities and environments whenever I can. But I can’t omit the influence of my fellow Seattle music makers. We exchange techniques, war stories, plug-ins, gear and support. We share listening music, stuff we would never play on a dance floor. Maybe it comes from living in what many consider a distant outpost, even though it isn’t that distant at all. We feel like we’re out here together so we help each other. It’s one of the guiding principles of our label.
2015 saw you launch the Hunt & Gather label with fellow Seattle boys Pezzner and Michael Manahan. Lovely releases, musically and aesthetically – cool artwork and creative press releases. Having worked in Platinum Records back in the day you’ve experienced the ups and downs of the vinyl industry first hand, so why now and what are your plans with the label?
We sold mostly vinyl at Platinum so it was definitely affected, if not taken out, by the the digital revolution. Things are now getting closer to how it was, and we’re seeing more vinyl nights. The label is digital so far, and it exists more as an outlet for our own works and those of local artists. We do intend to release vinyl, when the art and artist calls for it.
Dave started the label and was trying to handle it himself at first. We’ve been friends for years and I wanted to help. He offered deeper involvement, and then we brought the idea to Manahan, a veteran in our festival scene and also an old friend. The energy in the union sort-of propelled us into action. That was the thing that told us “now is the time”, far more than market tectonics.
Rumour has it a couple of the artists who have released on the label so far might actually be alias’ of some of the label team. Can you shed any light on this?
Hunt & Gather encourages its artists to present their craft in any way or through any persona they choose.
Your new release, ‘Andy, Wally & Ray’, delivers pure sunshine vibes and kinda harks back to your earlier work as one half of LawnChair Generals (we’re fans). Can you tell us a little about the release and those amazing vocal harmonies?
Thank you! The song was made with the help of three of my oldest friends and collaborators in the studio: the Alesis Andromeda A6 (named Andy), the Waldorf Microwave XT (named Wally), and the Kurzweil PC2X (named Ray after Raymond Kurzweil, it’s creator). Wally had been in storage for a bit and this track is a reunion song, really. There was a moment when the theme was coalescing and I was elated seeing them all working together again. It was strangely heart-warming and reminded me how we can imbue so much personality into these inanimate things in our lives. The vocal sound comes mostly from Ray. Ray was meant to be a performance keyboard but was still given some of the technology of more complex models. If you tinker with the menus you can morph some of the realistic acoustic emulations into new and unnatural sounds. The resulting “uncanny valley” vocal inspired the rest of the track, and the reunion inspired the title.
It’s nice to hear and feel the emotion emanating from ‘Andy, Wally & Ray’, but vocals are a very personal thing for a DJ when its comes to playing out. Do you feel we’re missing this emotion in a lot of today’s house music?
It depends on what kind of “today’s House music” you’re listening to. There is a lot of emotional House music available, but maybe we don’t get to hear it on dance floors very often. I hear a lot of vocals lately that are tense and eerie. I’ve heard sets that are mostly tracks with pretty and delicate vocals and it can feel contrived, even gimmicky. But most often I hear a lot of beats and bass lines, a lot of big builds and drops and mechanical energy. I appreciate when darker moods are punctuated by interesting texture, color, or actual notes and chords. I love the sound of being welcomed. Sometimes voices can do that. Dance floors can either be a communal experience or a lonely one, depending on that balance.
If you had to select one track from your back catalogue to highlight to a new fan, which it would it be and why? (Maybe something that you feel flew under the radar and deserved more props)
I would choose a remix I did for my old friend Brit Hansen (Hanssen). Brit and my label partner Dave are Jacob London. We’ve all known each other a long time and helped each other throughout our music careers. Brit has a way of both encouraging and challenging her friends by placing them at odds with their own creative tendencies. She specifically chose the least likely remixers for each song from her album Seven Years Week, and assigned “Real Age” to me, which is a sweeping piece with broad pads and synth arpeggios. It was one of my favorite songs on the album but the furthest from my typical production style, which is why Brit chose it for me. In hindsight it was a very conflicted time in my life. I hadn’t made much music for years because of an intense office job. I was grappling with the loss of two close friends, one to cancer and another to suicide. In both cases the message they left behind was to do what we love, no matter what. I had just moved into a shared studio space with Pezzner and Real Age was the second project in my return to music. The result was a surprise to me; a catharsis, an expression of loss, a promise, and a goodbye. I am so grateful to have been chosen for that project, and I adore that I can hear so much of both Brit’s and my emotion in it.
What are Doza’s plans on the music and party front for the rest of 2018?
Summers in Seattle are glorious so I look forward to settling into a new home, writing more music, growing the Hunt & Gather artist family and playing locally as much as possible. In July I play my favorite festival Bass Coast in Canada with my Hunt & Gather brothers Pezzner and Michael Manahan, and then Cascadia festival in Washington. I’ll be back in Europe in the fall around Amsterdam Dance Event.
And Finally can we steal some Seattle tips from you….
– Favourite Place To Eat
Breakfast is my favorite meal and the best in town is Portage Bay. And for coffee, no-one beats Monorail Espresso.
– Favourite Place To Party
Flammable Sundays at Re-bar, hands down. 20+ years in action says a lot, and the promoter (and opening DJ) is one of the greatest music minds I know.
– Favourite Place To Relax
A sailboat! The Seattle area is interlaced with large navigable lakes and The Puget Sound. One of the best ways to admire this scenic city is to get out on the water.