Podcast 641: Arcarsenal
Stripped-back deepness from France.
Podcast 641: Arcarsenal
Stripped-back deepness from France.
Alan Mathias and Etienne Dauta connected in Berlin, Germany in 2010 and formed Arcarsenal after purchasing a Jomox 888 drum machine. Their references at this point were labels like Smallville and Dial, and New York artists like Fred P, Levon Vincent, and Jus’Ed. In 2012, they setup Bass Cadet Records as a platform for their music, and Dauta followed this by opening Neukölln’s Bass Cadet record store a year later, which became a hive of activity centred on the German capital’s thriving music community. Within months, Mathias and Dauta were touring as DJs and had signed artists like Jenifa Mayanja and Ron Trent to their label.
Things picked up pace from then on. After releases on labels like Underground Quality, Rue de Plaisance, and Finest Hour, and some solid studio experience, Mathias and Dauta presented a hardware-only live set, which they’ve been touring almost incessantly until recently. They’ve now closed the store and moved away from Berlin, and they made the decision to stop producing new music together in 2016. Their final piece of new music, the second part of Compendium, will land soon, comprised of tracks produced between 2011 until 2016 but never released for various reasons.
As it stands, there will be no more Arcarsenal music, as Mathias and Dauta focus on their solo work and pursue professional careers elsewhere—but that is not to say the project is written off. Mathias and Dauta are open to linking in the studio again but just not now. As they prepare for time away from the project, Mathias and Dauta prepared an XLR8R podcast, a dancefloor mix whipped up on the fly and full of their slick house sounds that underpinned their collaboration. Dauta also answered some questions about the project, the mix, and how he’s dealing with lockdown. (Hint: you can hear some of Dauta’s new music inside the podcast.)
What have you been up to recently?
We moved back from Berlin to France two years ago. We both come from south west France where we grew up and have our families. We are now living one hour away from each other so we see each other from time to time and we still talk a lot, but we haven’t been producing together for a while now. I, Etienne, am currently learning Naturopathy and will be therapist next year, and Alan is graduating to be a diving trainer. We both work on music on the side. Alan has set up a nice recording studio in his house, while I have stripped down my studio equipment and I’ll be working on new tracks as soon as I feel it’s time to make music.
Which artists or labels are impressing you right now?
I’ve been listening to lot of jazz and beyond recently. I’ve been digging Binker Golding’s latest solo album, and also Matthew Halsall, Joe Armon-Jones, Makaya McCraven, Yazz Ahmed, Steve Spacek, Fatima, Sarathy Korwar, and Thundercat. I also had the chance to see Kokoroko live, and had a blast.
On the electronic side of things, I’ve been into the latest Black Jazz Consortium album and I’ve also discovered some new deep techno artists like Konduku and Soela on Dial. I also like Forest Drive West, and I’m following my friend Valentino Mora’s work and all the deep techno scene around Donato Dozzy and Marco Shuttle. But I’m not following new releases and new artists as much as I have in the past because I closed the store.
How have you been dealing with the lockdown measures?
I have to say that I’m one of the lucky people. I’m locked down in the middle of the countryside, where I live. So I’m gardening, spending most of my time outside, harvesting plants, wandering in the woods and up in the hills with my three-year-old daughter. My wife is working from home, so we are having a nice family time but we’re conscious of being in these “luxurious” conditions when so many people and a lot of our friends are locked up in their flat in big cities. We’re hoping things will turn in a nice way for everyone soon and that we won’t get back to the states things were before the crisis. We need a bold change and to start building a new relationship to our environment.
What are you listening to in this downtime?
Mostly spiritual things. I’m also singing and working a lot of songs with my acoustic guitar. But from time to time I go listen to some of the newest jazz, electronic, and ambient releases I like.
Where and when did you record this mix?
The mix was recorded at home at the beginning of 2020. We set up a nice DJ booth nestled in the framework of my house’s roof. It was a nice and inspiring setup.
How did you choose the tracks that you’ve included?
We wanted to build up the mix around deep techno and stripped down house. I wanted a very mental core. It naturally flowed towards slightly more dancefloor things. The selection was mostly made while mixing. We had some key tracks, like Konduku “Caduta Di Massi” and Forest Drive West “Parallel Space” that we wanted to put in the mix, but almost everything came out while recording.
How does it compare to what we’d hear you play in a club?
A one-hour podcast is always a special exercise. When playing in clubs we like to play longer sets so we never stay locked in a style or mood. It always depends on the club, the crowd, our feelings, and the energy that builds up in the room over the night. We play a large range of styles going from vocal deep house, to minimalistic after-hours music or muscled up techno, so it really depends on the context. It’s hard to condense all the music we could play in this one-hour timeframe, so a podcast could never be a “business card” of what we are in our “natural environment.” Our club sets would be more diverse, because they’re longer.
What are your longer-term ambitions in music?
I’m working on a new solo project called Sylve, which will be focused on a deep sound going from techno and house to electronica and more experimental things. I don’t want it to be sticking to a specific genre, rather to a special introspective mood.
The track included in the mix, “Cloudless Raindrops,” is already set to be released on Laura BCR’s On Board music and I have some other tracks ready. I don’t want to put myself under pressure; nowadays, I just want to have a good time when doing music without having the pressure to release enough records each year to be seen and followed. This is my main ambition as an artist.
What’s next on your horizons?
As Arcarsenal, we will have the second part of Compendium, our archival project, out this year. This will nicely close a chapter of our artistic life, but Arcarsenal is not down. Maybe we’ll get back in the studio together someday or maybe do a few gigs, if we have the opportunity. We’re also working on the digital distribution of some of our catalogue so we can have it available on Spotify and other popular digital platforms.
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to download the podcast you will need to subscribe to our Select channel. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
01. Molly “Voovoo” [Groovement]
02. Forest Drive West “Parallel Space” [Echospace]
03. SYS “Exoplanet” [ESHU Records]
04. Dewemer “Long Rice” [Nous’klaer Audio]
05. Chaos In The CBD “Educate The Heart” [Mule Musiq]
06. Sylve “Cloudless Raindrops” [On Board Music] (unreleased)
07. Dorisburg “Gloson” [Hivern Discs]
08. Konduku “Caduta Di Massi” [idle Hands]
09. Galcher Lustwerk “Fathomless Irie” [Galcher Lustwerk Records]
10. Secretsundaze “Gigantic Impossible Large “(NYC Dub Mix) [Running Back]
11. Callisto “The Power” [Guidance Recordings]
12. Arcarsenal “Sweat Lodge Breathing” [Inner Balance]
13. Black Jazz Consortium “Brisbane” [Perpetual Sounds]