What So Not is Australian power duo, Flume and Emoh Instead — equal parts lush, melodic songwriting, and heavy, anthemic club sounds. Their free-for-all experimental approach to dance music has earned them official releases on labels like Sweat It Out, Modular, Mad Deecent, and in 2013, they joined the OWSLA family with “The Quack” (WSN Club Dubs / EP / Remixes).
Today marks another massive WSN x OWSLA release, with “Jaguar” — some the duo’s best work yet. To celebrate, they’ve given us the premiere of their recent set from Stereosonic Sydney last weekend!
Read our chat with WSN member, Emoh Instead and grab a free download of the epic 1-hr live mix below.
First off let’s talk about something recent. I heard you had a bit of a scare in the mixdown studio?
Ahh, yes. That was an experience. Harley had just built a duel studio that he shares with long-time friend and mentor, Shawn. Shawn and I were finalizing the mixdown for “Jaguar”, and with the rooms being freshly constructed, we forgot they were air tight, and forgot to turn on the vents. A couple hours in, we both started to feel funny, and Shawn pretty much passed out (that was when I realized there was no oxygen!)
Thanks for the big-ups on the “Touched” write-up! You had said, “this movement feels like Modular uprise coming full circle.” Can you go into detail about this? Who do you think are some of the artists leading the current movement?
When I got into dance music (around 2006), it was the first wave of electro, indie, bale funk, bmore, glam, etc. being popular amongst teens — the whole Ed Banger / Modular / Bang Gang kinda vibe. It was the underground coming to the front and going big.
Soon, however, the big labels and mainstream artists started replicating it without much credibility. It was also the start of the ‘DJ / Producer’, and ‘Producer / Blogger’ generation — essentially, massive over saturation and low quality control. So within a couple years, it all went to shit. Everything sounded the same (quite stale and gross). I feel like what’s happening now is the journey coming full circle — the new uprising of some switched-on young people with innovative ideas and a thirst for something different.
Harley (Flume), and myself (Emoh Instead), are working away in this scene, as well as a stack of others like Chet Faker, Ta-Ku, Charles Murdock, Wave Racer, RUFUS, Motez, Elizabeth Rose, Touch Sensitive, and many more.
You seem to have a pretty steep hip-hop influence in your production, whether it’s the instrumentation or the samples you’re choosing. What got you hooked on this sound?
To be honest, this puzzles me a bit. I don’t know where it came from. I was never really into hip-hop. I was never into dance either — I did play the drums for ten years. Gorillaz, Flylo, and Prince are influences of ours. Maybe it stemmed from that? I do listen to a decent amount of Hip-Hop now, however.
How is hip-hop received in Australia?
Hip-Hop’s been on a come back over the last few years. It was all about electro and 4/4 club until the dubstep wave finally hit us around 2011/12 — which then moved into trap, moobahton, twerk, and hip-hop came with it all. Acts like A$AP, Kendrick, Theophilus London, Action Bronson, Danny Brown all have a lot of hype over here.
You have said that you used to hate dance music before you started DJing and producing. What would 17-year-old-drummer-Emoh think about these WSN tracks?
Ha, I dunno. I was pretty narrow minded. I remember there was this one NIN track, “The Great Destroyer” that blew my mind open to electronic productions. Death From Above 1979 were my crossover band, then, (probably ’cause of my alt rock background), I got into the heavy stuff from the Ed Banger dudes. Maybe 17-year-old-me would have liked it, but I was just never exposed to anything like that back then.
“Touched” sounds like WSN really settling into it’s own unique sound and style. What can we expect from future releases?
Yeah, it’s funny, “Touched” is kind of us getting back to where we started this from. We’ve often ventured into different genres and sounds when things have surfaced that influenced us. “Touched” is us taking what we’ve discovered and applying it to the core ideals of this project.
How did it feel to host your own show on Triple j for a month?
It was amazing to be the Mix Up Exclusives resident this year on the j’s. It’s a real honour to do it. Triple j gets you so much exposure in Aus. Shout outs to Nina Las Vegas for hooking that up : ). I put together 4 x 1hr mixes of mine and Harley’s biggest influences (past & present). It was a super fun project.
What have been some of the most surreal moments since working on WSN?
Probably meeting people you have massive respect for, and finding out they like what you do as well. That’s some other level kinda buzz.
Was there ever a conscious decision to distance yourselves from the “Aussie dance band” sound? Are the African, Eastern, etc., influences a part of this?
When we first got together, I’d never even used a soft synth and was really tired of the ‘blog electro’ going round. So we started with a lot of percussion based house/tribal house, and used animal samples, tribal chants etc for stabs and hooks. Harley would come in with some great melodies and hooks over this. Check out “Love Theme” from our first EP — this is a pretty good example. We weren’t trying to distance ourselves from the current “Aussie dance band sound”, we were just writing music we loved and weren’t hearing anywhere.
How did you guys end up working with Blood Diamonds?
‘Cause we’re all the way over here in Australia, we weren’t really sure what the vibe was in the US. So our old manager got Blood Diamonds to chat with us and got back and forth on some ideas on how to polish off “The Quack”.
Has producing changed the way you listen to music now? What do you look for in a new track these days?
Yes, 100% definitely. It’s even changed how I DJ. I used to get so technical — use 4 decks at once, and heaps of fx constantly. But I’ve learned to do that in bursts, and sometimes just let a good track breath and do its thing. When I listen to a track these days, I listen a lot more. I don’t just have my DJ brain on, listen to 1.5 seconds of it and say, “I wouldn’t play that in a club, next.” Harley taught me that.
It’s about the progression of a song — the repetition, the transitions, the chords, the timbres, the hooks. I tend now to find a a bunch of good albums and listen to them from start to finish while I do my press and social media scheduling.
What do you think are some of the factors that have made dance music so prevalent in Australian culture? Any specific iconic parties, labels, radio shows or personalities etc. come to mind?
It’s a lot of things. Isolation is a big part. Even in our own country we are isolated from each other. It’s so large, yet 90% of the population is on the coast, so everyone is spread out around this giant land mass. We are far removed from a lot of the world, so if artists wants to make it, they have to aim to be the best in the world, and do something different that will get peoples attention.
The climate and landscape also just begs for melodies and soul. I guess its quite ‘real’. It’s young kids in their bedrooms with big dreams, not corporate controlled heavy weights with teams making calculated decisions for them. I’d have to say as well, we have some pretty damn cool radio stations; Fbi, RRR, Triple j especially. It’s broadcast nationwide, and it’s all about cool, innovative music from all genres.
Top 5 favorite instrumentals?
I don’t have many instrumentals I’m overly fond of, so I’ll just name some cool tracks that are big influences for me:
DJ Sound – Kicking ‘N Doors (Feat. Kee Wee, LV & Lil Bay)
At the Drive-In – Arcarsenal
Jai Paul – Jasmin
Sa-Ra Creative Partners – Glorious
Para one – Dudundun (MSTRKRFT Remix)
What can we expect from this NHQ mix?
When we do clubs, we get pretty deep with elements of garage, house & trap — SCNTST, Shadow Child, French Fries etc. This was a live recording from our set a Stereosonic (which is Australia’s biggest EDM festival). We were on the Hard stage after GTA, so we went pretty big. So thats what I’d expect : )
What So Not Guest Mix: Live From Stereosonic Sydney 2013 Tracklist:
1. WSN Stress Intro
2. What so Not – High You Are (Original)
3. What So Not – High You Are (Astronomar x Emoh Instead Remix)
4. WALL x ???? – ???? – Nike (Emoh Instead Edit)
5. BOYS NOIZE – PUSH EM UP (SALVA REMIX)
6. DJ Funk, GTA – Booty Bounce Feat. DJ Funk (Original Mix)
7. Destructo, Oliver, Salva, Digital Lab – La Funky x Blaze (Emoh Instead Edit)
8. ETC! ETC! & Brillz – Swoop (Astronomar edit)
9. What So Not – JAGUAR (Original Mix)
10. TNGHT – Acrylics
11. JWLS x Ta-Ku – Lobster Mercy (Emoh Instead Edit)
12. Major Lazer – Get Free (What So Not Remix)(Emoh Instead Edit)
13. Flume – Holdin On (feat. Freddie Gibbs)
14. DJ Fresh, Diplo, Carless Earthquake (Astronomar Edit) + Biggie Sample
15 Toto – Africa
16 Mr. Carmack – Birth Control (Regulators Billionaire Boys Club Bootleg)
17 Matt Miller x Kilter – Gravel Pit (Flume Live Biggie Edit)
18 DJ Snake, Yellow Claw, Spanker – Slow Down (Original Mix)
19 Cakes Da Killa, Gesaffelstien – Run This Pursuit (Emoh Instead Edit)
20. Angger Dimas Ft Gianni Marino – Hey Freak (2Deep & Rawb Personal Bootleg Edit)
21. What So Not – Like This Like That (Original)
22. Brenmar, Salva, Martin Garrix, Victor Niglio – Let Me Animals (Emoh Instead edit)
23. What So Not – 7 Dollar Bill (Deiken Die Remix)
24. Rustie – Slasherr [Flume Edit]
25. Dillon Francis – Masta Blasta (THE REBIRTH)
26. Yo Majesty – Club Action (Smookie Illson Boot)
27. Banks – FallOver (DjembaDjemba Remix)
28. What So Not – The Quack (WSN Club Dub)
29. Disclosure – You & Me (Flume Remix)
30. Starlite Orchestra x Raf Riley – WSN King Henry Anthem Intro
31. GTA – FuntCantasy (Original Mix)
32. Flosstradamus Vs What So Not – Ov3r 7 Dollar (Emoh Instead Edit)
33. Astronomar – Kirbys Argument
34. Jackson and his Computerband – Seal
35. Bixel Boys – Black December (Original Mix)
36. Pusha T, The Reef, Crookers – Numbers On The Board (Emoh Instead Edit)
37. Van She – Idea Of Happiness (What So Not Remix)
38. The Only – The Launch
39. Astronomar – Like This (Emoh Instead ‘Jack’ Edit)