Since its launch back in 2015 the New York City based Absence Seizure imprint, launched by Abe Duque and Matuss has been a platform for the latter’s original material. For the tenth release, co-founder Abe Duque joins the party to mark the labels tenth vinyl release alongside label regular Julia Matuss.
Hey Julia, thanks for taking the time to speak with us, the next release on your Absence Seizure imprint is just about to drop with new music from yourself and a track from your label partner Abe Duque, for those yet to hear it could you tell us a little about the project, how it came together, what inspired the music and what Absence Seizure’s ethos is?
I met Abe Duque at Dubspot, back in New York, 2012 when I started to work there. Soon, I was taking his classes as well and during this time he influenced many of my decisions on a label subject – such as name and vinyl only concept, for example. I never was a fan of a particular format with all the borders and limits when it comes to music..so he told me, that it’s probably better to start my own label, rather than trying to fit. I mean, we have description as deep techno soulful minimal and shallow house as a joke, so it explains pretty well where I stand with all the formats and pigeonholing in this business 🙂 I can agree on electronic, but that’s about it. He gave me a couple names and I liked Absence Seizure, because it’s the closest condition to describe my music writing process. Immediately, I thought of having Rorschachs as art. My dearest friend and talented painter Anastasia designs every artwork herself specifically for each EP, so it has a personal touch. Idea was to make it just about music and art, none of the other things. Simple, black and white. Also, there is a write out of the brain function that happens during absence seizure on the back side of each record jacket.
You’re originally from Ukraine but now based in the United States, could you tell us a little about your earlier experiences and influences in music back on your home turf, was there a thriving scene during your formative years like there is now or was it just beginning?
I come from very very small city in Ukraine. Club nights back than had breaks with slow songs for couples dancing, which was a torture for me . Noneless, there were 187 lockdown, Antiloop, Prodigy, Apollo 440 Westbam and KLF that I would always drop conversations or whatever right in a middle, so I can run to the dance floor every time I heard something like this. Or stage more likely. I was sort of a hometown hero for all the crazy dancing and bad behaviour and now, I really feel like going and watching Antiloop – In My Mind, ahah. I think it was formative and it feels like there were way more gems vs. nowdays – it’s much harder to find something really badass. I have no idea how, but we had access to some really good stuff and people were hungry for music. Local Djs were my friends and very dedicated people, I owe them big time for educating me. Since I started going out when I was 12, it wasn’t until 16 when I really got into a big club. I had enough money for 1 apple next morning, so I took 4 hour train trip to Donetsk for free, running from the conductor and completely lied my way into the club to not pay the cover. Danced my ass off, slept on some bench and took another train to go home. That still stands as one of my best adventures and completely blew my mind. Then it was very first Kazantip and my grandpa used to give me 30 bucks at the end of each school year, because I did very well. I saw a commercial on a TV and was absolutely determined to go. Grandma made me a special outfit, like a red jumpsuit and it was very important that it was handmade for me, because later, many years ago I bought bunch of old magazines on a train station and found an article about that very first Kazantip. Strangely, it was Playboy and there was a picture of me next to the fence in that handmade red jumpsuit. I called my mom, freaking out like: “Look ma, I am in Playboy, ahahaha”. That was a good one and the festival was complety out of this world. Everything was so raw – music, people, location…probably the fact that it was a first time and I had enough money just to get there made it even more special. Low budget trips create many adventures on the way 🙂 also, I realised I can go really far and do a lot for a good partying and hear a lot of great music.
You’re now based in New York, what made you choose this city and was it directly linked to the incredibly history in all things House, Disco and Techno linked with the big apple?
New York just really feels like home. You just know, you belong there. When I look for an apartment, it’s a similar process – you walk in and it’s like, this is it. I can’t really explain 🙂 when I am there I become very happy. Yes, of course you get ups and downs, it is very fast and competitive and a lot of pressure, blablabla. But on a bigger picture, just being there makes me happy. And music, yes, you have everything here and it makes the city very special as well. Plus, everybody is always doing something – so you can’t get lazy as well, very inspirational.
Your biography states that you were once touring the globe as a dancer with acts like Junior Vasquez and Armand Van Helden which sounds incredible, could you tell us a bit about this experience, where you went and what’s involved in this kind of career?
When it comes to dancing, I always had this special connection…like I can translate through my body exactly what is going on in music, so I really liked improvisation. I learned few different styles here and there, was really into breakdancing. At some point I had a street team and battles, etc. I have no idea, honestly, what people saw in me as a dancer (because I completely lose it, when I like the music and I can’t analyze it) but I mostly got all the jobs because somebody saw me dancing, pretty much. It was also times of no Instagram or Facebook and such. So the only way to like something was to see it live, I guess. Also, I knew I was different and sometimes it was hard to find a match for me and to have someone as “crazy” or I would say as intense. It was this story in Moscow once, when I was just going down the street and saw pretty lights behind the window. So I knocked and the security guard tells me I should go to Propaganda and I have no chance to get in here. That was a club called Gallery. I was also looking like a marvel – red jacket with light reflectors, red boots with huge white platforms and and hat in a shape of a bird with eyes made again, from reflectors. Go figure. So I tell him, that I am a dancer and I need to speak to somebody, because I want to work here. Owner was inside an overheard us, so he comes out asks, if I can dance right now. He puts music on, I do it right there and just like that I was hired in one of the most “fancy” clubs of that time in Moscow. So that was a good start 🙂
Listening through your back catalogue your music has ebbed and flower through many styles and genre’s or music which is bound to happen as you grow as do your tastes but i can hear a distinct micro house aesthetic in many of your more recent compositions, have you been drawn to artists in this field lately like Ricardo Villalobos, Thomas Melchior etc?
I never had a chance to hear Ricardo or Thomas live just yet, unfortunately. But I do have couple of records from them in my bag – Who We Are? EP by Ricardo, I play both tracks pretty often. When it comes to production, I never really tried to analyze it – since I just let it happen and write whatever I feel like. When it comes to listening, I just want something that “touches my heart”. It always does or it doesn’t 🙂 I hope that makes sense.
What’s next for Matuss and Absence Seizure, anything in the limelight aside from this new EP you have planned?
Right now I am traveling outside of the US for the first time in 12 years, so I am quite excited about that. Going to record shops and parties in Europe, meeting new people and getting all kinds of inspirations – Atonal alone was absolutely next level. And I really want to spend some time in Tokyo.
Lastly, is there anything outside of music that’s been drawing your attention lately you’d like to share, art, literature, nature or anything else from the world and beyond?
Don’t drink and drive Seriously. My attention lately has been drawn to meditation, it is definitely a subject to explore and I am very glad I had enough discipline for that and physical activity as well. It was very hard for me at some point to relax, like ever.. and that’s no bueno. Body and mind connection is undeniable and very fascinating, I think everybody should pay attention to that and try to learn little more about it.
Abe Duque / Matuss’ ‘Absence Seizure 10’ is out 10th September 2018.
Photo credit: Nichole Washington