We talk to the Novel Sound boss ahead of his first commercial mix.
Though he's turned out his fair share of podcasts over the past few years, Vincent's never done a commercial mix until now, and you can tell from the tracklist that he approached this one a little differently: all of the artists included are from a core group of DJs and producers Vincent knows from New York. There's DJ Qu and Fred P, fellow alumni of Underground Quality, the Connecticut label run by Jus-Ed that helped bring Vincent to an international audience in 2009 (Jus-Ed himself appears as well). Then there's Anthony Parasole, the DJ behind the Deconstruct imprint and the now-defunct Brooklyn loft party House n' Home (these days he does a series with Jus-Ed called The Club House). Two lesser-known artists make the cut as well: Joey Anderson and JM De Frias. Seven unreleased tracks are included in total, five of which are upcoming on Vincent's own label, Novel Sound. "I had my release schedule for 2012 in the can so I just kind of appropriated it," he explains.
Reached at his apartment in Berlin, Vincent told us more about the mix, and why it was so important to him to keep things in the family:
When and where did you record the mix?
I did it in my cellar, maybe a couple of weeks ago. I have the best luck on Mondays when I'm still fresh from the weekend. I always make my podcasts then too, when I still have some residual feeling. I've only figured that out in the past couple of months but yeah, Mondays are the best. Usually my ears are so bad on Sunday that I just lay down. But on Monday my ears are OK.
What was your overall approach?
I didn't really showboat or anything so much as just showcase the music as well as I could. I think that gives it a better shelf life. Also, I never touched the side of the record with my fingers to speed it up or slow it down. That's the way guys like Mancuso play, where you only ride the pitch, and you get a really smooth mix that way. Maybe only other DJs are going to appreciate that, that was for the other musicians. So my main focus was showcasing the tracks with these really smooth blends.
The tracklist is mostly upcoming stuff on your label and stuff by some of your friends. Did that have anything to do with licensing restrictions?
Oh, no! I mean, who else would I pick? I just went to my friends and said "here's the opportunity I got" and they said "cool." We may be in other countries and stuff but we're still really connected.
How long have you lived in Berlin now?
About two years.
How has that affected your output?
It's great. I'm living a really isolated life here, but it's what I've needed for many years. I've never lived alone before. I've never had money to live alone before, I've always had a shitty house with shitty roommates and someone passed out on the couch and stuff like that. By the time I got here, it was only three days until I had my own space. I got lucky. The other thing I didn't think about that much is how much better my life would be without all that travel fatigue. 2009 was a big year, I was traveling most weekends to Europe from New York. When I would come home I would just sleep almost the whole week, I couldn't do much more than that. So that's a real blessing, I feel better. Yeah I love it, I love living alone. See I just bought flowers for the house, just for the fuck of it.
There was one guy on the tracklist I didn't recognize, JM De Frias.
He's a friend of Anthony [Parasole], I've only met him a couple of times. When we were all talking about collecting tracks, I came up with way more than I could fit on the mix, and I had to make choices so I could responsibly showcase all the artists without showing off as a DJ. There were way more guys that were almost on there but those are the tracks it came down to. I think it would be kind of lame to say who didn't make the cut, but there were originally a lot of my friends on there.
It's interesting how important it was for you to include your friends on the mix.
Well, it wasn't like "oh let me hook up my friends," it was really like, "what else am I gonna do?" We all might be reaching farther and getting more success, but there's a group of us that all have this particular style, this sound, so who else would I have gone to? You know, I could have mixed faster, put in more tracks, thrown a few from the '80s songs in there, maybe some Murk records, but there's one modern sound we have that's not looking backwards, that kind of deep tech, and of course that's my base.
Basically I wanted to use this opportunity to push my signature sound. I have plenty of other stuff, sometimes I experiment and dick around, but if I'm hit up for a commercial mix, it's gotta be the one concept I've been doing for so long. At least for the first time out. Maybe for the next one I'll be in a Speedo on the beach on the cover, but for now I'll keep it simple. I hope people say that I had a commercial opportunity and that I used it to do something artistic, cause that was the idea. I'm nervous about it, but I'm also really proud.
01. Joey Anderson - Earth Calls
02. DJ Jus-Ed - Blaze (Do Dah Dab Mix)
03. JM De Frias - Intrinsic Motivation
04. Levon Vincent - Stereo Systems
05. Levon Vincent - Polar Bear
06. DJ QU - Times Like This
07. Levon Vincent - Fear
08. Levon Vincent - Double-Jointed Sex Freak II
09. Joey Anderson - Hydrine
10. Anthony Parasole - Tyson
11. Levon Vincent - The End
12. Black Jazz Consortium - Blacklight
13. Levon Vincent - Early Reflections
14. Levon Vincent - Rainstorm II
15. Black Jazz Consortium - Far Away
Fabric Records will release fabric 63 on April 23rd in the UK and Europe and May 22nd in the US.