Based in Los Angeles by way of Paris and Beirut, Dead-Tones has been carving out a unique place in the deep house underground with releases on Dialtone, Kindisch and Motek Music. With a new remix out now on Magician On Duty we catch up with him in this exclusive interview.
Hi Kamel, thanks for joining us today, tell us a bit about yourself, how old are you, where are you living and how long have you been producing music and Djing?
Thank you guys for having me, I’m 28, born in 89, just early enough to be an 80s kid. I am currently based in LA during the winter and live in Ibiza in the summer. I got into electronic dance music around 2008 and started Djing early 2009. Producing on the other hand came much later, I would say about 4 and a half years ago.
How did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a DJ and producer? Where do your early influences lie?
My friends took me to witness Sasha behind the decks. He always has been considered a legend in Lebanon It was during his Invo2ver tour and my mind was blown by the energy exuded from the speakers and the crowd’s answer / involvement to it. Producing on the other was a necessity for the advancement of my Dj career due to the highly competitive environment of the underground dance music scene. Djing is rarely enough nowadays as you guys probably know. My early Dj influence were Sasha, Digweed, Nick Warren, Guy Gerber, Hernan Cattaneo to cite a few, whereas my producing influence came from a lot of synth based music such as Tangerine Dream, Klaus Shulze, Emerald Web.
You contribute having lived in Paris, Beirut, and Abidjan (your hometown in West Africa) to your ever-evolving sound. How has being enriched with these experiences kept things fresh for you in the studio?
Growing up in Ivory coast I always have been inspired by local rhythms although I was not aware of music production yet. My Lebanese ancestry has instilled in me an ever growing interest in non western sounds, although at the current moment, I feel that I am stepping away from it since the scene is very saturated with middle eastern sounds, some authentic, and some not. Which is why I find myself more interested in analog synthesis at the moment. Last but not least, Paris taught me about the sounds and impact of classic house music.
What prompted you to move from Paris to Los Angeles and how has this had an effect on both your sound and career?
I saw an opportunity as Point Blank opened in LA and decided to convince my family that I wanted to learn more about music production. Graduated and left my life back in Paris and Studied at UCLA, Point Blank and Dubspot. It definitely impacted my sound, I feel that every city has a different influence on the way you write music and I think I wrote my best tracks over here. Blame it on the weather I guess (laughs) Moving here also gave me 2 mentors, my current job working for one of my early influences Guy Gerber and my residency at Rumors Ibiza. Which I could only dream of back in Paris.
You studied design at two of the best schools in Los Angeles, Dubspot and Point Blank, had you released music previous to this? and tell us how much of an impact it made on your productions.
I had some music ready but unreleased yet. A Producer friend of mine called Gab Rhome used to help me quite a lot at my beginnings before I could purchase all the analog gear I own today as I was always drawn to the warmer sound of dance music and didn’t have the tools to make it. He has been a great advice and I am still very grateful to him as of today. I would say that coming out of a school you now know what you are doing right or wrong which allows you to break the rules in total confidence and become more original as time goes on.
Tell us a bit about the scene in Los Angeles and more specifically Deep House which seems to be on a steady rise.
The underground Scene in LA has definitely been booming since I moved here couple years ago. A lot of promoters are making huge efforts to bring rare acts to the west coast and I am very happy about moving here at the moment I did to witness the change this city has been going through.
For a city with so many artists, DJs and events the LA scene must have its fair share of frustrations as well, how could it be improved?
With all my respect to the scene out here, I feel that if you are not a “big” name, you constantly have to show your face everywhere, support every parties…etc I have done it but the thing is it is also time off the studio for me and money spent which most of the time makes me feel guilty the next morning. So right now I have been backing off from the scene a little to focus on making more and more music. I am lucky enough to work with Guy’s studio while he is away, therefore I am trying to do it as often as possible while I can.
You played a few dates with Guy Gerber’s and Rumors in Ibiza last year, tell us about how you got connected and how was the experience.
I got contacted by my old school Point Blank saying that Guy Gerber was looking for a studio assistant and so I jumped on the opportunity, passed the interview, and tried my best to become a valuable asset to him and the team. One day after a couple months working for him,he was resting and let me use the studio, he walked in on me as I was finishing a track and was pleasantly surprise to see that I actually was making techno music. We became closer over time and he kindly proposed me the residency in Ibiza.
You’ve got a new remix of Facundo Mohrr out this week on Magician On Duty, tell us how you approached the project and the production process behind the track.
I actually felt really bad about it because I had the stems before moving to Ibiza and turned it in after the season. (laughs) I like to pick the sounds I would like to use from the original and build some kind of arrangement with them and then send them out of my soundcard through some guitar pedals I have at home. This allows me to give these sounds a bit more edge and originality in the processing. I then tracked a live bass guitar on it with a friend, edited it and the job was done.
You’ve also recently started a podcast series, tell about that and how often fans can expect it.
My Eargasm were the first thing I actually posted on soundcloud. I built a community thanks to it. I just didn’t have much time this past year to record mixes and recently decided to start them over on a more regular basis. I will try to post them once a month. I usually try to play in them tracks that I don’t get to play on a dance floor; more melodic, not necessarily 4 on the flour and always warm sounding.
What five tracks are you currently loving the most at the moment?
-I just discovered on Phonica’s instagram a vinyl only debut release from “Rat edits” (Ratedits001) which I think is “alex and digby”
-Art crimes – obsession
-Dorisburg – Tecken II
-Savannah (Pooley’s atmospheric dub)
-Guy Gerber – What to do – (out soon on Rumors)
What can we expect to hear from you over the rest of 2018?
I am trying to finish as much music as I can at the moment before heading back to Ibiza for the summer season opening of Rumors. Working on a lot of different things but I am trying really hard to keep my tracks danceable too. After getting more experience behind the decks, I feel that a new producer’s music is supposed to make people dance with his music if he wants to get supported by the biggest acts in the scene; which is not that easy for me as my productions always had a sad trippy and melancholic edge to them which works better for a podcast then a dancefloor.
Dead-Tones has new music out now on Magician On Duty, you can purchase the release: here