Since 2010 Electronica luminaries such as Modeselektor, Daedelus and Kode 9, have been spotted making stop overs at a tiny eco-resort called The Dusun, about an hour away from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After seeing how well the project was received, Cee (aka Christian Schwanz) and Richard Smith decided to use the „Jungle Studio“ as a platform to promote local Electronica, and to facilitate collaborations between local artists. He joined forces with Gerriet Schultz of the Border Movement and SoundLab, and that’s how SoundLab Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand & Germany 2016 was born.
We were interested to hear more about it and asked some questions…
Amazing that you got to pull all this talent back into the jungle! But this time it seems like you guys are mostly repping for your side of the globe. Why this shift?
With this project our aim was to connect the artists throughout this region and get them to collaborate together. I think that this is the only way to really help to develop a proper scene. When we first kicked the idea to the kind people at the Goethe-Institut (our main partner behind SoundLab) we wanted to focus on a single country and foster a partnership between a German artist and someone from the local scene. However, we were fortunate enough to turn the project into something much bigger and to bring artists from the entire region together. The local scenes here depend too much on musical imports, and this has to change.
What’s the biggest obstacle to creating a healthy, thriving local scene?
There’s a considerable lack of venues for edgy electronic music. The big room stuff has a platform, but that clearly doesn’t help to promote creativity. Organizers of major events know they need to involve the local artists, and they often do, but for them it’s just a promo tool. They’re not really giving back to the local scene. Another problem is that sound at these events is usually not that great, which makes the edgier artists not so accessible to most people. I don’t want to get all dark on you, it’s not all thick, dark clouds. =Our little network of promoters is actually well connected and we share many artists and help each other with tours. And the scene is definitely growing.
What do you think is the best way to speed things up ?
We need more projects like SoundLab. We need to get the Asian artists to tour across Asia, and we definitely need better sound systems! It would also help to take the music out of the clubs and bars. At the moment we are already planning SoundLab spin offs all over this region. So things are definitely looking up.
Tell me a bit about the sessions. From what I gleamed from the pics and the recordings, this time there was more of a hybrid thing going on with electronics and live instruments..
When we were creating the roster our main concern was versatility. We wanted to have a very wild mix of artists on board. The Asian scene is still small, so focusing only on one part of the spectrum would have not worked anyway. I think we had a great group of heads: there was Darko C, a key figure in the Myanmar punk scene, Nadia Reid, a singer / songwriter from New Zealand, who never really worked with electronic musicians before, people like Nguyen Hong Giang, a classically trained musician from the Vietnamese noise scene. We also had Born in Flamez who flew in from Berlin, just for this.
I could imagine everyone was blown away by the jungle vibes..
The impact of the jungle is always there. The jungle never shuts up. It’s a part of every vocal recording that was made here. I also think that the jungle was the reason why everyone put so much more melody into their songs.
Do you think these sessions will continue?
We are aiming to get the Myanmar spin off off ground next. Fingers crossed that we can get this up and running by the beginning of 2017. Music will, of course, always continue to be present here at the Dusun. A lot of interesting artists have stopped by our little spot here, since the SoundLab sessions. Lets see what happens next. There will be more stuff coming soon, for sure though.
In closing, maybe tell us a bit about these two tracks.
Similarobjects from Manila / Philippines was the main producer behind these two songs. Follow me is a great example of the session approach. A lot of this was recorded live, hence the blend of the analog and the digital. Vandetta & Darren Ashley, who are also featured here clicked with Similarobjects. Something very special was going on there. I think the three of them produced some real gems together. A lot of soul was caught on tape. Btw. Hiatus also features the very talented Najwa Mahiaddin