Back in 2011 Lovebirds, AKA Sebastian Doering, released a track called ‘Want You In My Soul’ through a friend’s label (Winding Road). Despite virtually no promotion the track, which features the brilliant Stee Downes on vocals, became a massive hit on the underground and a modern-day classic in the process.
We absolutely love the track here at Deep House London and were very pleased to hear the news that it will soon be re-released via Island Records with a couple of killer new mixes from Shiba San and Illyus & Barrientos! To celebrate the re-release we’ve got a very special mix from Lovebirds and we grabbed him for an interview, which you can check out below…
Can you begin by telling me about where you’re based at the moment?
I live in Hamburg, Germany.. but in a month and a half I’ll be moving to Berlin.
What’s the reason behind moving to Berlin? Was there anything beyond it’s great music scene that attracted you to the city?
Yes, well of course the music scene is great there but also, the main reason, is that I’ve been based here in Hamburg for 20 years now and I just had this moment where I felt nothing would ever change if I stayed here. My wife is Russian and she likes Berlin, too – some of my friends have moved there’s not a huge reason to stay in Hamburg really, so…
Have you found somewhere to live already?
Well, the most difficult thing is actually finding a studio space – I don’t just use a laptop and monitors, I have proper gear and I was worried it would be quite hard to find a good space. Luckily I contacted a guy, who I kind of knew and it turned out that he had a really nice room in a good location with great acoustics and other studios around it. It’s perfect, so I’m really happy about that and looking forward to moving to Berlin.
You say that you felt nothing would change if you stayed in Hamburg. What kind of changes are you hoping to achieve through moving to Berlin?
It’s mainly that feeling you get when you visit a new city, somewhere nice, a new location – you go to new cafes and such like, and it’s exciting, it opens you up to things. Whereas, staying in your town for 20 years, you know everything, you know everyone, it gets boring. Also I have an album project with a Japanese girl who lives in Berlin, so it will make it easier to do sessions with her when I’m there… overall though, it’s more than a music-based decision, it’s more of a life thing for me.
So, tell me how the re-release of ‘I Want You In My Soul’ came about?
I signed the record to Winding Road back in 2011, which is a small indie label. The owner had a few requests from bigger labels early on, but he didn’t think the offers were good enough. It took four years to get to the point where the package that was offered to him was right and I really respect that. As an artist you sign your music to a label and, once they own the rights, you don’t always have a lot to do with it – I didn’t contribute to the deal John made, but we’re good friends so I was informed about what was happening at every step.
It’s good, it’s nice that the deal came through for him and it’s not like an old record that nobody plays anymore. I think, to some extent, it’s almost become like a modern classic already and there was never any effort or promotion when it first came about. Obviously the label has a small promo list that the record was sent to, and there’s the little video, with countryside photos, which I did as my first iVideo project ever! That’s all the effort that went into it, so I guess people thought they should try to give it a proper push, maybe get some radio play and get it out to a bigger crowd.
Yeah, we were looking at the stats on the track and it’s had some incredible Shazam-related searches… over 200,000, with 2.2million Spotify streams and just as many, if not more, on YouTube. The demand is clear and it’s got that familiar air, so it’s deserved.
I wouldn’t mind some more success for it! It’s a proper tune, it’s something I can stand behind 100%. I love everything about it… that’s music, sometimes everything is just right; I was just running around on the interview, Googling and I found Stee on MySpace, which I never do. Sometimes things just happen, it was the first thing we did together, so you know…
What are your hopes with the re-release, a chart position maybe? Or are you quite modest in your dreams for the track and hoping that more people simply know about the tune?
Well, I’ve been in the music business a while now, always in the ‘underground’ department, so I’ve learned not to expect much so you won’t be disappointed! I have a hard time finishing stuff, doing the mixdown – with ‘Want You In My Soul’ I spent maybe six weeks on the mixdown, so you can imagine listening to a track over and over for six weeks you end up not really having the same neutral view of it as someone who hasn’t been so involved in the production process. In the end I was like, ‘Just take it!’, when I handed it over to the label. So I didn’t have any expectations of it back then and I don’t expect anything of it now! If it happens, that’s great, if not, it’s still a great record. My biggest so far, but I’m also excited about my future projects… I don’t think I’m a one-hit wonder producer, I’m confident in my future projects, too.
Tell me about the album you’re making with the Japanese singer? Are you leading the project or are you featuring as her producer?
We wanted to call the project ‘Minako and The Lovebirds’. I don’t see the point in using lots of different project names and then people discover that it was you years later. That might work for someone who’s a superstar who wants to do something a little secretive but, at my stage, I think it’s important to have my name out there.
I met Minako at a gig in Tel Aviv as she was living there for eight years. I told the promoters that I was heading to Tokyo and she actually had to return there due to a family issue and that’s how we got in touch with one another. She sent me some stuff over and I was crazy about it in the beginning but I sent her some tunes. I mean, only about 3% of the stuff I make gets released – 97% is in my hard drive. So I started sending her all the down tempo, different sounding stuff because she doesn’t have the typical ‘boogie diva’ type voice, she has more of a pop voice. I also wasn’t expecting because, through experience, a lot of people can sing but not many can actually write good songs. Anyway, she sent me back the first track and, the first time I listened to it, I was like, ‘I think I like it’. The second time I was like, ‘Ah, this is really good!’. And the third time I listened to it, I was like, ‘F*****g hell, this is really really good!’. There she was in the old room she grew up in in Tokyo and I’m throwing tunes at her – in two weeks we had around eight to 10 songs but I’m still not finished and that was four years ago! We will finish it this year though.
It sounds like it’s quite normal for you to take a long time to finish your music!
Yeah, I really need a partner who can deal with the mixdown part of the process. I’m more of a chaotic, intuitive type of person – when I’m making the music I don’t want to worry about whether the sound is good or not, I just want to put down my ideas. At the same time I’m still a perfectionist and have high expectations, so the mixdown presents quite a dilemma!
Is there anything else forthcoming besides the album with Minako?
Yes actually, talking about the problem I have with all this music that hasn’t been released I decided that I should put together an album using a few of them – my favourite ‘hard drive sleepers’. Nothing spectacular, like a big EP with stuff I really like. I have some remixes on the way, one for Chopstick & Johnjon from SUOL, and another one for an indie band called Corbu. A few releases on my own label, Teardrop… I have a track on there which is taken from Gilles Peterson’s Talkin’ Loud label, by a guy called Galliano, a rapper. I met him a couple of years and we stayed in touch, so there’s a track from him which is 81bpm, with a Roy Ayers summer groove to it. Then a friend is doing a liquid funk, DnB mix and I’m looking for someone to do a house mix. I’m always keen to do that to show the connection between the genres – the roots are the same, and I think the whole scene would be more interesting and open-minded if more releases were like that and avoided always being based around the same old grooves.
And to close up, can you finish this sentence.. ‘Without house music I would…’
I would have lived a different life. My plans after school were not based around music at all, it all happened by accident. I thought I’d have to do national service, then I wanted to study economics and business… then the whole music thing came along and changed my life. I probably wouldn’t be a DJ or producer now, and probably have a lot more money! But less fun probably as well!