Intergalactic techno from two of NYC's finest.
What a serious pleasure it is to welcome Aurora Halal and DJ G! Without doubt two of the classiest operators in the NYC dance scene, Aurora and Gareth are some of the people behind parties the likes of Mutual Dreaming, Sustain-Release and Nowadays, and are two of our favourite DJs in the biz.
Joining us for their first mix together since the height of the 2020 lockdowns, where their combined palates seemed to gel effortlessly across the downtempo and d’n’b spectrum for the wonderful Juanita’s series, their follow up offering remains cosmic at its core, but with dance floors back in full swing we’re hit with a high octane amalgamation of souped-up alien techno, mysterious atmospheres and wonky futuristic breaks, ever progressing with blends of the surgical variety. Strap yourself in, this one’s a mind trip!
Welcome guys, I hope you’ve both been well! I know this one has been a little while in the making but we got there in the end! What’s the feeling like in NYC at the moment with the warmer months approaching and nightlife thriving again? I can tell you’re both pretty flat out with events and touring which is great to see..
G: It feels real nice out in this direction right now – leaves on the trees again and balmy nights incoming after what feels like a really, really long winter. I’ve just spent the last six weeks or so deep in preparations for our outdoor season at Nowadays. This time of year is always full on for me between continuing to run the indoor space and getting everything related to the backyard ready to go. It’s always a lot of work but we’re up and running across both spaces now and it’s great to be able to chill comfortably outside again.
AH: Parties re-opened here since last summer, so It’s been intense for a full year at this point! It feels like a primordial soup in NYC at the moment as there’s lots of new movements, artists and crowds getting off the ground, so I’m excited for the next few years as it continues to evolve. The whole scene in America has become more local because of Covid and there’s interesting stuff going on in cities like DC, Pittsburgh, Miami, etc.
I remember reading that the first mix you recorded together for the great Juanita’s during the 2021 lockdowns was meant to be a “soundtrack for cyclists and the lone stoned headphone wanderers”, I’m wondering since dancing and nightclubs have returned what kind of approach you wanted to take with this mix, and what might have inspired it?
AH: If that one was for a spliffed up bike ride, this one is for a dance floor on mushrooms. That time period around making the Juanitas mix we were listening to a lot of downtempo things, and I basically found harder music intolerable during that period (shoutout to Animix & Skylab for soundtracking some lovely chill times). So we made this in a totally different, more energetic mindset. I’d say the Juanitas mix was more about exploring common influences and this one is more of a reflection of what we’d dance to together. Gareth has a different style, so we’ve been finding where we meet in the middle – cosmic, darkly futuristic, and genre-omnivorous.
G: The vibe on this one is more drag racing on the rings of Saturn for me. I was hoping we’d emerge from this with something that feels ever-deepening, driving and momentous but also diverse and colorful. I’m drawn to sounds that feel souped-up with a sort of alien quality to them so I did my best to try and pack that sort of mood into it. I haven’t tried it out yet but it’d probably work zooted on a bike too.
Aurora, I see that you’ve got your first Mutual Dreaming party in around two years happening over there this month featuring some special guests, that must be a pretty sweet feeling! Tell us what you’ve got planned for the big comeback?
A: Fart In the Club really blew the roof off at Sustain-Release last year so a proper comeback had to be done. It’s gonna be in an indoor skatepark, there’s a dance floor in a half pipe! We’re using the same squishy foam floor, sound and lights from Sustain which I trust to push things into that state of mutual dreaming. With DJ G and Sepehr, I think what they all 3 have in common is pure swag.. and a uniquely freaky funky style, so I can’t wait.
You’ve also got a live set coming up at Texture in Detroit next month alongside some amazing acts. I was wondering since I last caught you play live at Pitch Festival in 2020 how the set has evolved, and how do you generally like to prepare for a live set?
A: My live set up is the same way I write all my music: an Octatrack which has all the drums and samples and sends out midi to several synthesizers. That live set in Perth was the last one I did in 2 years and I almost got stuck in Doha on the way home because covid lockdowns just kicked in, crazy times..!! But yea I’m excited to be writing a new one, been at it for a few weeks and now in crunch time to finish it. I try to make it a flowing journey to hopefully transport you into a special headspace of intensity/intimacy, and fun.
G, on the Nowadays front, as a booker you obviously had to constantly adapt to ever changing restrictions over the past couple of years, and were involved in creating some great virtual music events which fostered a real sense of community online while people couldn’t connect in person. As you look back now with regular event programming having recommenced, what did you learn from the whole experience and what kind of direction will you be taking things in this year?
G: Doing the Virtually Nowadays project through the early days of the pandemic was an eye-opener in many ways. I always knew that our space and this culture mattered to a lot of people but the full extent of it was only really revealed when it all shut down back in March 2020. The outpouring of support from the community built up around the space was extremely humbling and way beyond what I ever could have imagined. That goes for both the dancers / listeners who logged in from home but also the DJs and organizers who were down to be part of it. The whole thing went a long way to making sure that we were able to reopen again fully in 2021.
On a personal level, I feel very motivated to continue to do what I can to create environments and experiences that help people to feel release and real life connection to music and to one another. Even within our culture this can come in many forms and I’m excited to continue the experimentation with the rest of the gang involved to build on what’s already been created. The sky is the limit!