There has been a lot of hype generated from the signing of Rhys Merrett 27/11/08
The rise and rise of Canberra’s Aston Shuffle has been swift and immediate. It was only yesterday the DJ/production duo of Vance Muscgrove and Mikah Freeman were slapping clubbers around the head with their high-impact remixes of artists like Claude von Stroke, Green Velvet, Malente and LoStep. Before too long their music had been snapped up by the mighty Ministry of Sound, who also solicited the services of the Shuffle to mix one of their immensely popular Clubbers Guide To… compilations. So what was the next step for the jolly dance music lovin’ duo? They took the crown as the most popular dance act to ever emerge out of the ACT, or course. This year they hurtled into the top 10 in the Sony inthemix50 to grab the #6 place, and it’s the highest that an ACT act has ever ranked. This is what the duo had to say.
The inthemix50 results show that there is a strong wave of support behind you guys from the local scene. How does it feel to know that you have successfully established yourselves in the Australian dance industry?
It feels very gratifying to know that all our hard work is starting to pay off, but rather than dwell on the recognition and support I think we very much feel as though now is the time to step things up a notch or seven. We certainly feel as though we are still developing our sound as producers, as well as our DJ skills, so our overall feeling right now is that it’s time to roll up the sleeves and get stuck in harder than ever before.
Based on your experiences so far, who have been your favorite DJ acts locally and internationally?
There’s a lot of really talented Aussie DJs out there who blow us away. There are guys like John Glover, Raye Antonelli, Trent Rackus and Hugh Foster from Canberra who are across so much music that they can totally play any set in pretty much any venue and will be able to adapt and really pull it off, those kinds of workhorse DJs don’t get as much credit as they should. Other guys like Boogs and Ajax are just two steps ahead of everyone else, they bring such an amazing vibe and their technical skills are amazing from both a punter’s and DJ nerd’s perspective.
You mentioned in an earlier interview that an album would probably be in the works during the summer after you had guys had the opportunity to develop your own original songs. Is this still on the cards?
It’s very much still on the cards, but an album isn’t something we want to throw ourselves at without planning things a bit first. Thus far we have only 2 singles under our belt so we are approaching an album with a bit of caution, we don’t want to get in over our heads. So at the moment we are putting together an EP as a first step, we figure it’s the best way to build up towards an album.
How has playing in European festivals and clubs differed from your live experiences in Australia?
We’re just wrapping up our European jaunt and it’s been a big eye opener for us on a number of levels. The scene is just so much bigger over here and whilst we have our fans in various places (which is really cool), realistically we are back to square one in terms of profile, there’s some hard yards to be done to get our name and our records out over here. We really want to focus on building things over here because the gigs we have played have been amazing and we feel very much at home in Europe, the people over here are on a very similar wavelength to us, they just want to party and have fun and chinstroking doesn’t really enter into the equation, which we love.
Some of your recent tracks hold a crunchier and edgier undertone, reminiscent of the French electro sound. Is this the sound that you are interested in developing, or are you experimenting with a variety of different sounds?
Definitely the latter. We are both into different music and we both bring different influences to the table, and the French sound is definitely one of those influences, but we don’t really see ourselves fitting completely into one particular box. We get kinda bored with records that just do one thing, and in our experience so do punters, maybe that explains why our records tend to have so much going on in them. In our view, to be good producers in the true sense you should be able to do anything. It’s all well and good to be able write amazing breaks records (as an example, we aren’t dissing breaks or any other genre), but if that’s the only kind of music you can make you’re selling yourself short. We really look up to people like Nick Littlemore and Erol Alkan, they are amazing because they just know good music and produce amazing records no matter what the style or sound. We really aspire to be that versatile and have that kind of longevity. Genres come and go but good music lasts forever.
Do you feel that there is a distinct Aston Shuffle sound associated with your remixes, or do you approach a track without any preconceived ideas?
It’s taken a while but I think we definitely think we have an idea about what people like about our records and what people feel the ‘Aston Shuffle’ sound is. But having said that, we always approach everything we do, both remixes and originals, as a clean slate. We have never really just opened up an old project and changed a few things around and spat out our next record in two days flat, or consciously tried to just do the same thing twice.
Getting to remix heavy players in the international scene such as Claude vonStroke, Dizzee Rascal feat Calvin Harris and Pnau, and doing a collaboration with Tommie Sunshine must be a mind-boggling experience. Have you been able to adapt to your new environment and ‘celebrity status’?
Hahaha! We totally reject any assertion that we’re celebrities. We are incredibly lucky to be in a position where we can write and play music for a living, and it’s even luckier than we have any fans whatsoever. A career in music is far more precious and fragile than people realise, we are just concentrating on not fucking anything up because that queue at the dole office looks pretty long and uninviting.
Are there any particular artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
We are collaborating with some exciting artists on our EP, but as for our ultimate wishlist, it’s really long and many of them probably wouldn’t want to touch us with a 40-foot pole, but we would absolutely love to make sweet, sweet musical love to Tronik Youth, The Subs, Acid Jacks, Switch, Dennis Ferrer, Jimpster, Pepe Braddock, 2 Armadillos, Phones, Alex Gopher, Little Boots, Knightlife, Bag Raiders, Green Velvet, Joakim, Pnau, Ladyhawke, Holy Ghost, James Murphy, Nancy Whang, Metronomy, Interpol, Soulwax, Metallica, U2, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Mozart, Bartok... and while we’re at it, why not throw Jesus in there, that guy’s alright. We hear he’s got a ghost producer though, word on the street is it’s Sam ‘The Man’ La More who’s actually doing all the work in the studio.