X CLUB. are one of techno’s fastest rising act. The Australian duo, made up of Benjamin Clarke and Jesse Morath first made waves in their home city of Brisbane before conquering their home country. With recent release ‘Sitting Ducks’ on FJAAK’s SPANDAU20 (CROWD) imprint and the launch of their very own ‘Hide the Junk’ label, they’re ready to take over the world. We caught up with the guys to discuss their origins, influences, studio workflow and more. Enjoy!
WWD: Legend has it the very moment that kickstarted the duo was a back to back set at a friend’s party. Was it obvious from the get-go you lads would get together and make tunes?
We were individually resident DJs at the same clubs in our hometown for a while and eventually got introduced. Soon after, we got booked as the last two DJs of the night at a local showcase and just decided to blend both our sets into one long b2b. It went so hard we just never looked back from there, pretty sure we got in the studio together for the first time that following week.
WWD: How was it coming from Australia though, which is more renowned for its warehouse raves rather than clubs?
We both looked at dance music from a different perspective, as we were so far and disconnected from Europe, which is the busiest place for techno. We were always heavily influenced by music coming out of the UK/Europe, but we had to figure out how to do things our own way to be recognised. We organised many warehouse parties in Brisbane, with local and international acts, it was very ‘DIY’. All of this most definitely shaped our sound. Our main goal has always been to do things our way, in Brisbane and across the world.
WWD: Your latest release on FJAAK’s ‘CROWD’ imprint features a ‘Chop’D n Screw’D mix’, a reference to the Memphis scene. Why do you think this unlikely association between slow, muddy sound and techno actually works?
We are both big lovers of hip hop and have been since we were kids. We both actually played much more hip hop leaning music when we were DJing prior to X CLUB. So we definitely take a lot of inspiration from the genre. There’s a lot to learn from old-school Hip-Hop, its grooves and textures are so unique and something we really admire. In ‘Hold On’, we threw in a bunch of short chopped off-kilter samples in the track to give it some rough, unpredictable energy. We were mainly just trying something new, but we can definitely credit the inspiration behind this technique to such sounds as boom bap and Memphis.
WWD: Speaking of vocal samples, they’re all over your tracks, whether they be single-word chops or full-on hooks. Is it usually the vocal line that informs the productions or rather the Contrary?
Quite the contrary to be honest. Vocals are often introduced quite late in the process. Also, often when picking out vocal samples, we are actually listening more to the textures and timbre of the sample rather than the actual words.
WWD: Have you always been attracted to such high-tempos in electronic music?
No way. We both have a love for pretty much every corner of music. Tempo really isn’t a boundary in any way. We both have a deep love for downtempo music, ambient, world music and deep house. Go check out project Slow Rotation Inc where we release all that kind of stuff.
WWD: Can you give me a bit of insight into the dynamic between one another in the studio? Is there a rough map of how you guys like to work or you more so leave it up to the energy of the moment?
We always have some sort of idea that we follow, and sometimes we use templates that help us get to our idea quicker. Usually we start with percussion and drums, and try to get the groove and low end really tight. We like to find ideas from new music that we listen to or a really exciting show that we’ve just played.
WWD: Are there some pieces of hardware (or software) which are particularly important in your setup? Do you mostly work inside or outside the box?
For years we’ve been going between hardware and solely in the box. Many of our tracks are created by using Ableton only. We grew up learning music production on a laptop, so our strengths are mixing and sound designing sometimes only using Ableton plugins. We do also have a studio with some essential hardware samplers and drum machines, like the Elektron Digitakt, Octatrack and Korg Electribe.
WWD: Cheers lads! To finish, what’s next on the radar?
Too many things to name and lots of secrets. We have some exciting releases on our label Hide The Junk and some amazing shows coming up, including some big things back home in Aus. That’s all we’ll say!
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