Steffi and Martyn talk their new compilation, Air Texture VI

New York label Air Texture asks two artists to combine tastes and put together a Double CD worth of unreleased music. The only rule is that choices should steer away from peak-time club music, other than that they are free to venture into any territory as they please. Ran by James Healy aka Escape Art, the label series has previously seen efforts compiled by the likes of Juju and Jordash, Oneohtrix Point Never, Wolfgang Voigt, Biosphere, Teebs and Legowelt.

For Volume VI, Healy has recruited Berghain/Panorama Bar residents Steffi and Martyn, who have called upon friends like Answer Code Request, Shed, dBridge, Actress, Appleblim, FaltyDL, Mosca and KiNK to provide previously unheard material.

Previously releasing music together as Doms & Deykers, both Martyn and Steffi have come off the releases of their own solo LPs as of late, with Steffi’s 2017 album World Of The Walking State, and Martyn’s recent effort, Voidsfor Berghain’s Ostgut Ton.

Catching up with the Dutch pair, we asked more on how they put the Air Texture compilation together, the history of their friendship, and what’s next for the veteran producers.

You’re back working together on the latest Air Texture series. How did it come about? Were you aware of the series before James approached you?

S: I had never heard of Air Texture actually. I was approached by James and asked if I wanted to select music for the new Air Texture CD. We had a nice chat on the phone and he suggested I pick a person to join forces with, so my idea was to do this with Martyn as we are very close friends and have worked together on various musical projects. The initial idea was to work individually and pick songs for one CD each but we decided to throw them them into one big batch and divide the songs over a double pack and work as a team.

You two have been friends for a very long time, how does this influence your working relationship?

M: When we met back in 2010 (I think that’s correct), we immediately connected, as we grew up in the same area of Holland. We even have a similar accent. We went to the same clubs and listened to a lot of the same records in the early 90’s. So you could say our ‘foundation’ is quite the same – I think that was why we became very good friends in such a short space of time. Through our personal relationship I think we slowly discovered each others strengths and weaknesses, helping us in our working relationship too – I do what I’m good at, and Steffi does what she’s good at. She helps out with stuff I’m terrible at, and I try to reciprocate this.

Tell us about your selections, and how you approached the project.

S: Martyn and I started to brainstorm and made a huge list of established artists, who we respect a lot and we also listed a lot of new people we wanted to feature. After the brainstorming phase we approached all the artists and slowly the music started rolling in, this aided in us collecting suitable material. Some of the songs were in a pretty rough sketch phase whereas others were already finished. A few of the artists asked for input and guidance, so in a way, we had quite a bit of direction as to if the track would fit with the rest of the selections. Of course, this is always a delicate process, as you don’t want to sit in the artist’s chair and tell them exactly what to do.

When digging for new music, how do you find it? Do you often share music with your friends, or keep it to yourselves?

M: You HAVE to share the music! You’re not just a DJ on the weekends! I have a couple of friends who love digging for music so we always exchange links, records, etc. I also love record shopping with other people, you learn so much, in a short amount of time about the music that others have been feeling. The other day I did a search for a friend of mine’s email address in my Gmail, and all his emails came up. The subject lines were things like “Found another belter!”, “Killer, check this!” and “Good God what a banger!!”.

There has to be a solid flow to mapping out a compilation – Was there a lot of swapping and changing when you were putting the release together?

S: No not really, it actually shaped itself pretty easily to be honest. We of course had to be aware of the limited amount of space, but somehow that all worked itself out. Martyn lives in the US so we don’t get to spend a lot of physical time together, but when we were traveling from Paris to Basel we had a few hours on the train to kill; this was the perfect time to sit with two laptops and move them around until all tracks found their rightful place.  

Steffi — It’s been a busy summer for you with festivals. You recently played the Sulta Selects stage at Jika Jika — how was that? Was it your first time in L’Derry?

I’ve actually played in Derry quite a few times, so the city is familiar to me. It was a really fun set and lovely to play before my friends from Octave One. Regarding a wild festival season, I only hand-picked a few key festivals like Dekmantel, Roskilde, Dour, and a few new ones this year that sound interesting to me. I don’t want to overkill it for myself. It’s a whole different ball game and I don’t want to stay away from clubs too long, I like sweaty walls way too much!

How do you both approach a festival set, considering it’s generally a much shorter set time?

M: I prefer to play live at festivals, like you said, you have a limited amount of time and there’s always a lot of people around that haven’t heard of you or your music; It’s a good opportunity to present yourself that way. I have a pretty big back catalogue with different vibes and energy, so out of my own music, I can build a pretty versatile set – that helps a lot when encountering different situations.  Besides, I’ve had lots of issues with turntables at festival stages, so just bringing (limited) gear out to play live instead of DJ’ing is easier and safer.

Finally, what do you both have coming up in Autumn?

M: Besides this magnificent compilation we put together… I’ve been working on my label a fair bit. In the next few weeks I have a Various Artists EP coming up with Baltra, Yak and the duo Juniper, which I’m really excited about. Later this year there will be a full EP by Yak on 3024 too. I’m working on some new music too and I’m part of the Marcus Intalex Music Foundation, an initiative in Manchester to establish a creative space for young and established musicians. Plenty to keep me busy!

S: I have quite a few new releases lined up for my labels by artists that haven’t released on Dolly or Klakson before. This is always very exciting, as I love to introduce new faces. I am back in the studio with Virginia and we are writing lots of new material. I’m always working on my solo projects and a few new tracks will appear on different vinyl compilations soon. One of them is called… Air Texture hahahaha, stay tuned!

01 Synkro – Observatory
02 Appleblim – Unfound
03 V.I.V.E.K. – Sad Smile
04 Answer Code Request – Pasiris
05 Shed – Into Bleeps
06 dBridge & Lewis James – Verloren
07 Tracing Xircles – Kaieteur Falls
08 Samuel Pling – Bottomfeeder
09 Herron – Touching
10 Steffi – Between Form and Matter
11 Afik Naim – Louie’s Beat
12 Mosca – Kidney Version
13 Stingray – Last Shift
14 Shed – When The Faces Went Down
15 Novocanemusic – Steelmill
16 Actress – Watercolour Challenge Part II
17 Mesak – Sauhu
18 FaltyDL – Going West
19 214 – Shelby
20 As One – The Ladder
21 Total Science – Cowbell
22 Basic Soul Unit – Light Out
23 Barker – Terminal
24 Late Night Approach – The Naus Galaxy
25 Martyn – Moves
26 KiNK – Tal Atonal

Air Texture VI is out October 5. 

Words: Rob Chadwick 

Featured Image: Camille Blake 

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