A DFRNT Kind of Dubstep Has Arrived

DFRNT 
-noun
1.not alike in character or quality to your regular Dubstep producer.
2.not identical to the masses. Separate yet distinct: many DFRNT answers.
3.DFRNT styles, coming together to tell an auditory story.
4.not ordinary; unusual. DFRNT.

Take all your pre-conceived notions about Dubstep and throw them out the window. 

A web designer/DJ, born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, the sounds of DFRNT are a far cry from your stereotypical Dubstep producer du jour. His melodic instrumentals can make your rainy days seem like Los Angeles’ sunniest, but his deep bass lines will definitely rattle your neighbor’s bedroom. All of this while his endlessly layered synthesizers keep you guessing as to what is next. This is where DFRNT thrives.

After discovering his work through some Internet record digging, the Sinning in LA staff decided we needed to understand more about him and his special productions. So I spoke with DFRNT during his East Coast American tour, one that featured stops in Washington D.C. and two shows in New York (but sadly, no LA). I really wanted to know where it all started and to find out about DFRNT’s understanding and love for the Dubstep sound. I was surprised to hear him explain that it was inadvertent and took some time before it actually resonated with him and his peers.

“While studying at university, I noticed a flyer with Kode9’s name on it, I looked him up online and there were one or two things to download from his site. The strange thing was that I had no idea what I’d stumbled upon and it took almost two or three years and a compilation called The World’s Heaviest Dubstep, Grime and Bass for me to re-discover the style”.

Now that DFRNT had the sound and inspiration to work from, it was time for him to go from being a fan to producing that type of music that would help create his own rabid following of fans.

I guess the musicality in my production is down to a knowledge of those instruments combined with my love for melody in all types of music. I listen to so many other styles and sounds that they all amalgamate to influence my production in their own way.

At a young age, DFRNT learned brass instruments, piano and music theory, and listened to artists like Dusty Springfield, Marvin Gaye and Bjork. Today, he uses those influences combined with an array of production tools such as Native Instruments’ Massive Virtual Synth, and Absynth to push what he calls “a deep and experimental
sound.” 

This specific sound is most notably heard on his recently-released, first full-length album, Metafiction. Critically acclaimed amongst the electronic media, Metafiction dives into your soul and takes you on an instrumental journey. Rhythmic drum beats, combined with the use of non-conventional soft wobbles, still brings you the Dubstep style of the past while always giving you something new as well. The album’s structure contains songs of varying tempos and smooth grooves, going faster in pace and BPM at only the choice moments that DFRNT sees fit.

Unlike most albums that consist of only the artist’s work, Metafiction includes a glimpse into his circle of production friends who have remixed five of his tracks. One of the remixers featured on the album is Sinning in LA favorite, Synkro, who remixed the song “Tripped,” where he took the DFRNT formula and added in his patented soulful female vocal twist.

Joe (Synkro) and I met in Manchester while I was down DJing a night in the city, He’d already agreed to do the remix by that point however but it was a real honor to have him remix a track, since he’d been such an inspiration while I was making the album.

Dubstep is directly growing from what I call “digital digging,” where a music lover doesn’t have to go to the vinyl or CD shop to get their music, they use the Internet. Now artists, producers, and most importantly, fans, can access a plethora of websites that
showcase a specific sound. At this point in electronic music history, the options are almost unlimited due to the Internet, and DFRNT agrees.

“I like the way the Internet has given way to a DIY ethic too. I couldn’t run a label without it, and I probably wouldn’t have discovered the sounds of Dubstep without it, especially in Edinburgh. Plus, I doubt there would be anywhere near as much hype for the genre without it.”

While DFRNT’s sound has finally made its way to America along with his touring schedule, you may be surprised at what you will hear from one of his sets.

“I consider that stuff (his own tracks) a bit too chilled for playing out. I’ll tend to amp my sets up a bit when I play out. I’ll start deeper, then just work it up over the course of the set. Melody and unique sounds are key for me.”

Whether you are a Dubstep fanatic like myself, or just a fan of chilled-out beats in general, you’re in luck, because DFRNT has put together an exclusive mix for Sinning In LA that combines the best of both. His mix showcases the sounds that he is feeling right now, the Dubstep vibe, and even a brand new, previously-unheard track that he put in specifically for Sinning in LA! 

It will tide you over until he hits the West Coast and we’re already eagerly anticipating what will come next from the talented producer but one thing’s for sure, we’re certain it will definitely be DFRNT,

The Do LaB Brings The Best of Burning Man Home As Beats Antique Sprinkle Some Playa Dust on The King King Crowd

They say dust settles but “they” obviously haven’t encountered the magical dust that’s kicked up at Burning Man every year. Fortunately for those of us who weren’t out at Black Rock City, The Playa dust doesn’t settle back down to Earth, but instead it clings to Burners and makes its way back to the places they call home. Beats Antique, known as much for their music as their magnetic bellydancer, Zoe Jakes, was a festival favorite this year and brought the energy back to Los Angeles with their Do LaB-sponsored show at King King.

David Satori, Sidecar Tommy and the aforementioned Zoe Jakes make up the Oakland trio, fusing together a curious blend of electronic, Middle Eastern, dubstep, hip hop and tribal music in a way that feels at once both past and future. If you’ve not heard of their music before you should start with a sampling of my personal favorite, Oriental Uno, to get a good feel for their sound.

My dancing partner of choice, Monsieur Smash LeFunk, made the perfect companion for my night of vaudeville-inspired, aural escapades. I stood in the second row downing whiskey and dancing my ass off in a sequin mini-skirt and tattered tank top, all the while falling mesmerized by a pair of charmed necklaces that dangled low over Zoe’s bare stomach, clink-clanking audibly against her toned stomach with each slither and shake.

She had the entire venue visually arrested every time she stepped out onto the stage, contorting her body to the beats. Antique brooch clips and feathers adorned her hair, icing on the cake of her gypsy-inspired flowing skirts and embellished costumes.

Sidecar Tommy and David held reign behind the tables spinning tracks from their new Contraption EP and even snuck in a little Michael Jackson remix. The heavy bass and upbeat sway had me in the zone all night. At the bar, men in shoulder holsters and bowler hats flirted with forest fairies who spent the night kissing and dancing with their sisters in crime and wardrobe imagination.

A Beats Antique show is equal parts visual and aural, a full-sensory experience that indulges the crowd and leaves you assured that you’re at the best show in the city that night. Their fans embrace the dusty, vaudeville lifestyle and come out to play with a collective of musicians and artists that are unearthing the lost art of imagination in adults.

“I think the appeal comes from realizing that you can do what you want, how you want, and find people who’ll support you in it,” Tommy explained to me. He was drawn into the life in 1998, when he came to San Francisco from New York City. A few guys asked him to come play music with them at Burning Man. He’d never heard anything about the festival but he went anyway and ended up, “meeting all of the people that I currently call my family.”

Beats Antique are truly living the lifestyle of the music they create. They’ve been making their way out to Burning Man for the better part of the last decade and teamed up with Los Angeles artist collective, The Do LaB, to perform a full schedule of shows at this year’s festival.

“To me Burning Man means Expression, Exploration and Dust. It blew my mind when I was 19 years old and it still does,” says David. “This year we rolled in on Tuesday night, unpacked the car, and rode our bikes over to the False Profit Tuesday party where we played our first gig. It felt nice to land and then jump right into it.”

It’s hard to believe that the group played a total of nine shows over the week. Smash was on hand for a few of their sets and brought back tales of all-night dance parties infused with fire-play and exhibition.

Burning Man has always been a very bizarre experiment in what the body and mind can take and this year was additionally challenging because of the number of shows we had planned.

Lately they’ve been mixing up their DJ sets by including more and more live instrumental performances, playing everything from the viola and violin to the guitar, banjo, drums, and even an electric sax.

Going to a show where the DJ’s are playing live instruments is unique on its own merits, but then you throw in the visual aspect with Zoe’s dancing and you really have something special. “I incorporate bellydance, pop and lock, Indian, and pretty much whatever else catches my eye,” said Zoe.

She was performing with the Bellydance Superstars Dance Company in 2006 when manager and owner Miles Copeland (IRS records, The Police, REM, etc.) approached her to make a bellydance album.

Zoe and Tommy had played together in the “hobo cabaret” Yard Dogs Road Show for years and Zoe ended up asking Tommy and David to help produce the album.

“It was exciting because we were mostly touring, live musicians up until that point,” said David.

“I started playing drums with the Yard Dogs in 2001. They’d asked me to sit in one night at The Odeon, a local circus bar, and they had one song. We played it and everyone freaked out, so we improvised a 45 minute set of circus-infused soul jams and then two weeks later I joined them on tour!” recalls Tommy.

Zoe has been performing with the Yard Dogs for five years and gives the troupe credit as being “one of the most influential groups in terms of shaping my journey as a performer. The fearlessness of its members is really inspirational.”

Beats Antique definitely knows how to put on an extraordinary show and our night at King King was no exception. After a full night of carousing with a crowd of LA’s finest, we floated out into the night smiling wide, high on bliss and escape, tinted in dusty hyper-color Playa dust.

The Do LaB Magic Returns: Revisiting Lightning In A Bottle 2010

Somewhere submerged deep in the heart of Irvine, California, on the outskirts of Orange County, something magical transpired over the course of the Memorial Day Weekend – the return of The Do LaB’s unparalleled Lightning In A Bottle Festival. But this full sensory experience is far from your ordinary summer music festival. It’s a celebration and a convergence of a community that has continued to grow strongly in size, stature and spirit over the course of the decade since its inception.

Lightning In A Bottle is a place unlike anywhere we’ve ever been before and for our first time, we tried to adhere to the advice that The Do LaB so wisely instilled in us before we departed.

“I think that people should come here with an open mind,” said Dede Flemming, who along with his brothers, Jesse and Josh and their equally passionate partners at The Do LaB put this festival together. “They’re gonna see things that they haven’t really experienced at other festivals or other parties they’ve gone to before.”

“People try to take in everything at Coachella,” Jesse added.

Here they’re gonna miss half the things that they want to see because they’ll discover some nook that will suck them in and take their whole weekend away but they’ll have the greatest time.

For the festival’s rebirth (after a one-year hiatus to go in search of a new location to call home), the Flemming brothers spanned the entire state and eventually came to Oak Canyon Ranch. They teamed up with Gary James, the leaseholder of the property, who offered his unwavering support and helped them set up shop at the sprawling, mountain-encompassed site. The beautiful grounds also come complete with a large lake and ample amounts of greenery, which is a departure from the festival’s humble beginnings.

“It started about ten years ago as a mountain party in the woods for Jesse and Josh,” Dede explained. “There were about a hundred people. In year two, I think we had 300 people. Then five years ago we decided to make it a proper overnight festival where we charged people for the first time and that went well. But then we took a year off last year to really dial it in and get the right location to really do what we wanted to do which was throw a music festival.”

“We’ve kind of brought the right group of people together,” added Jesse.

The word of mouth has been pretty amazing over the years and I think that’s the best thing we’ve had going for us.

The steady buzz has intensified in recent years by the growing numbers of artists that now clamor to be a part of the eco-friendly festival. The musical acts that Jesse selected for the 2010 lineup were packed full of plenty of diversity and featured a plethora of new faces mixed among LIB veterans, such as our old pal from PANTyRAiD, Marty Party.

One of our first night’s adventures took us to see his slamming set at the Bamboo Stage (which was indeed constructed from ample amounts of bamboo reeds). He seemed to be having the time of his life and his infectious energy transferred directly to the thousands that were dancing euphorically in the open field in front of him.

“I always think of it as banging a hole through the consciousness,” he told me after his set as we sat amongst friends at his campsite. “All that shit I played tonight, all that energy has now gone out into the universe.”

For an artist like Marty, who has been tight with The Do LaB since those early parties, it was through attending an event like Lightning In A Bottle that helped him realize that he wanted to produce music for a living.

“After that I started writing music and now here I am playing one of the main stages, so this event is extra special because my friends throw it which is really important to me because we’ve been together for such a longtime,” he explained. “The Flemming family as a whole and all The Do LaB volunteers, I’m friends with all of them. I even volunteered one year to help them out at Burning Man.”

It’s the shared love for the environment and the community which The Do LaB has cultivated here that plays a big part in why so many artists are so eager to play here and help out in any way they can (such as Sidecar Tommy from headliners Beats Antique flipping veggie burgers).

“The artists are our friends too,” said Sheena Turlington, who served as the Environmental Director for the festival and is an integral part of the collective.

There’s just so much talent in our community as well, so it just keeps popping up and growing. If they’re not already part of the community, they come to one event and all of a sudden they are a part of it.

“I think a big part of it is that the artists want to play with us,” Dede explained. “They come here and look at this as a vacation. They don’t just fly in and fly out. We’re setting up tents for all of them and they’re hanging out for the weekend. They use this as their release where they get to be with their friends. So I think it’s something the artists really look forward to which makes it easier on us, because they’re calling us too, we’re not just calling them.”

When I spoke with longtime Lightning In A Bottle performer An-ten-nae after his well-received set on Saturday, he echoed those sentiments before departing to join the fray.

“With a festival like this on the West Coast, all your friends are here and it’s a good place where you can really party instead of not only performing.”

“Here it’s like the artists aren’t separated from the people that participate in the event so everyone kind of mingles together and I think the artists really appreciate that,” added Jesse. “I know the people do. There’s Adam Freeland just walking across the festival hanging out.”

For the aforementioned Mr. Freeland, who had just emerged from another camping expedition in the Joshua Tree forest, he seemingly couldn’t get enough of the outdoors and is an especially big fan of “The Flemm’s” and Lightning In A Bottle.

“It’s wicked,” he told just minutes before he took to the stage. “It’s just a great posse of people gathered here!”

“I never know quite what I’m gonna play but I’m just gonna do my thing with Rudy Coby.”

In what would become one of the most talked-about performances of the entire event, “The Coolest magician on Earth” teamed up with his musical hero for an impromptu Mad Scientist-inspired improv act. Coby brought along with quite a few cohorts on stage (including Freeland’s girlfriend) and their stage spectacle seamlessly synchronized to Freeland’s ferocious set. The crazy joint performance was as much a surprise to the audience as it was to Freeland, who had only agreed to team-up with Coby just days prior.

 It was during this spectacular set that I lost my mind (along with the rest of the crowd) to a particularly inspired remix of the Beastie Boys’ classic cut, “Sabotage” from Freeland’s labelmate, Alex Metric. When I finally gathered myself, I ran into the enchanting Ms. Krystee, another exceptional artist who had opened up the Bamboo stage the day before and who earned her slot on the bill by winning a mixtape contest comprised of a comprehensive mix of the artists that were to perform.

“This is my debut DJ performance,” she excitedly shared with me as we rocked out to Freeland’s closing songs. “It hasn’t even hit me yet. I opened the Bamboo stage, which is totally mental because Adam Freeland was the first person I danced an entire set to from start to finish and now here I am playing on the same bill with him!”

Lightning In A Bottle has that kind of mystical magic in the air at every turn. Anything is possible here because the open-mindedness and compassion that those in attendance have for each other and the festival is so overwhelming that when all seems lost, it’s through a chance encounter or a simple warm “hello” from a stranger that can really help to restore your faith in humanity.

“Thanks, I really need to keep hearing that because I’m having a nightmare of a time right now,” said Dede when we ran into him on Saturday during the peak of the madness. “But inside the (festival) walls, it’s been nothing but smiles and happy stories and amazing experiences. That’s why I needed to come in here and stop and not listen to this (walkie-talkie) for a minute and have a beer. Otherwise, what am I doing it for?”

While us and thousands of others were enjoying one memorable minute after the next, the tireless team of Dede, Jesse, Josh and everyone behind the scenes at The Do LaB were busting their butts to help control the unseen chaos.

“All of us are,” he explained. “I’ve taken in little pockets here and there, but there’s too much going on. We’re not here to have fun, we’re here so that everyone else has fun.”

We’re making shit happen right now but we’re also thinking ahead to next year. Like I told you about the owner, Gary, this guy is in the parking lot with me parking cars and he keeps talking about next year, so he’s been loving it.

After such a long struggle to find a suitable home, Dede and The Do LaB are certainly hoping that Oak Canyon Ranch can become just that as they’ve already got big plans for the future in mind for their new home.

“I hope to God,” he laughed. “We’re gonna get the whole lake next year and take this thing to the next level!”

“You still can’t swim in the lake but we want to be able to have camping out there,” he added. “We want to expand this festival because we’re bursting at the seams in the first year at this venue, so we have room to grow. I’ve talked to all the key players and everyone seems to be on board right now.”

The innovative ideas and passion that the people at The Do LaB have for their events is seemingly limitless. They’ve already sparked something special in the United States and now their forward-thinking events are headed overseas as well, with stops at some of the major European festivals this summer.

“As soon as we leave here we’re going there,” Dede shared. “We have a shipping container coming here next week when we break this down and it’s going straight to Europe. We’re gonna send two and a half months this summer doing seven different festivals.”

While Europe has long set the standard for forward-thinking festivals like The Big Chill, attendees have never experienced anything quite like Lightning In A Bottle. Richly infused with many different elements like music, art, performance, yoga, and thought-provoking lectures all wrapped around an environmentally friendly message (there were Biodiesel shuttles, waste-sorting bins and plenty of free water) Lightning In A Bottle offered up exciting and enriching experiences for people of all ages.

“We didn’t sit here and say, ‘Alright, let’s have a tree planting,” Dede explained. “It’s because we have friends that are really involved in that world that brought that to the table. So all the different elements and their strengths are what we incorporate into this festival and that’s why it’s so multi-faceted.”

“I’ve never been to anything else like this,” added Nosaj Thing, another of the talented artists that we saw perform. “It’s got a real open vibe which is cool and also the fact that there are a lot of creative people here.”

The people of Lightning In A Bottle certainly play a big part in what makes the festival so special. Upon entrance you feel welcomed from the start with a hug and it’s through the unique camping experience here where you can really get to know the people you came with better than ever as well as make new friends fast and even reunite with those forgotten faces you haven’t seen since Burning Man.

“All the people that come are super passionate about things,” said Heather Shaw, who helps Josh with the building and creation of the stage concepts. “We’re super passionate about the art, the music, the family and the community, which has just gotten bigger and bigger.”

Everybody that comes is part of this huge community that really cares about the planet and each and other wants to support each other and you can just feel that when you go.

Dede had some excellent advice for what the future holds for us and his thoughts on Sinning In LA’s coverage of Lightning In A Bottle.

“The next time you come to one of our events, you’re gonna come prepared to really dive into the culture and the environment that we’ve kind of set up for everybody.”

We’re only too happy to help play our part in spreading the message of the movement that The Do LaB is at the forefront of. We thank them and all those that were in attendance for their love, passion and immense dedication that they have for this creative community that we now call family.

When the wild weekend was done, I replayed through my mind the loads of inside jokes and lasting memories of new friends and plastic body parts (see the photos) but it was Adam Freeland’s final words to me that echoed around my brain as we drove out of Oak Canyon Ranch.

“Who would have thought you could have so much fun in the OC?”

Electrical Storm: The Electric Daisy Carnival 2010 in Review

 “So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”
-Hunter S. Thompson

There was a moment this weekend at the Electric Daisy Carnival when the whole thing nearly exploded. In my head, I mean, since even through all the fireworks, the Coliseum remains to this day in one piece.

But as your mind tries to comprehend what’s happening in front of your eyes, the synapses spark together so fast that they nearly burn down everything in sight. From glowstick-wielding dancers to latex-clad pirates, laser lights to confetti blasts filling the air, it’s all a full-scale war on the senses. A few hours of this and you have no idea what your life was like before you got here, and as you spill out to the streets at four in the morning, ready to come back for another day of the crush, you don’t really mind.

It’s important to note that we came prepared for this event. Smash resembled a mountain-climbing pirate, Duke played it cool wearing his Randolph Engineering shades long into the darkness, and I had on a flowered shirt that hasn’t seen the world since the last EDC.

It was always going to be a daunting task for Insomniac Events founder Pasquale Rotella and his team to top the spectacle and attendance of last year’s Electric Daisy Carnival. “We had an amazing turnout this year,” said publicist Alexandra Greenberg.

Friday was 85,000, Saturday was sold out at 100,000 – totaling 185,000 over the weekend. The latter makes EDC the largest attended music festival in America (per day).

This year, the stage shows were bigger, there were more carnival rides and art exhibits, and quite possibly the best top-to-bottom line-up of electronic music artists Insomniac has assembled yet for their signature event.

“Something like this is really exciting,” explained BT, one of the festival’s headline performers. “It’s amazing to watch dance music culture growing at the exponential rate it’s growing at in this country. I think the real tipping point has been electro-house infiltrating the hip-hop community and now suddenly everyone in this country is interested in dance music.”

BT’s influence spread out past his own stage, with Above & Beyond playing his Tiesto collaboration, “Love Comes Again (Bart Claessen Remix),” and Armin van Buuren mashing up D-Mad’s “She Gave Happiness” with BT’s “Every Other Way” as the crowd spun out of control.

The storm of life shook through five stages, where along with Sasha, MSTRKRFT, Moby, local heroes LA Riots, the liquid drum and bass of LTJ Bukem the lightning bursts of sound and energy surrounded Z-Trip, who played by far the most musically diverse set of the festival.

“It’s great when you have everybody there and there are so many different styles of music at each stage. I feel like it has always been my style to borrow from each piece of all the genres anyway, so playing a festival like this really works in my favor.”

Of course one of the biggest aspects that makes EDC so memorable is the unique atmosphere that has been created inside the LA Coliseum, which played host to the headlining Kinetic Field stage. The massive field served as host to the stadium-sized sounds of the Swedish House Mafia, Kaskade, Deadma5, Above & Beyond and the world’s number one DJ for three years running, Armin Van Buuren. It’s impossible to explain the feeling of watching fireworks explode in the sky while carnival rides spin past your head and a massive crowd bounces to high-volume tunes. You probably could hear it from Long Beach, but that doesn’t matter because it seemed like all of LA was inside the gates.

I’m also guessing we were the only ones who had attended the Dwell on Design show and then stumbled down to the Coliseum. I didn’t see too many people with brightly colored bracelets milling around the patio furniture.

Certainly you can stand on the shores of life, far away from the record-setting crowds and the swirling skies, but why would you want to do that?

The air here is charged, the daisies are electric, and as insomniacs never sleep, we’ll dream it all up again real soon . . .

Electric Boogie At The Roxy: Ursula 1000 Sheds Stereotypes And Shakes Hips In The City Of Angels

Alex Gimeno has always been the kind of artist that people could never quite peg. Sure his early Ursula 1000 offerings served up plenty of retro beats right out of the Bossa Nova and 60’s scenes. But it was during his recent DJ set at The Roxy, where he teamed with fellow beatmasters Fort Knox 5 and Kraak & Smaak, to show Los Angeles just how diverse his sounds truly are.

“That seems to be always the thing with me. I can’t remember when I’ve ever just gone out and spun a single genre,” Alex laughed. “Even when I was really into the drum and bass side of things, right in the middle of that I would throw random, ridiculous, French, 60’s kinds of tracks in there to throw people off and they always dug it. When I’m at home, I’m always listening to a gazillion different kind of tracks and I think that sort of seeps into your brain.”

That was quite alright for the rest of us, as the sounds of Ursula 1000 kept the grooves tight before Fort Knox and Kraak & Smaak took the stage. Having long been familiar with the Ursula 1000 sound, courtesy of Thievery Corporation’s ESL Records (home to Ocote Soul Sounds and Federico Aubele), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect for his DJ style, but had been promised by Fort Knox 5’s Jon Horvath that I had no idea what I was in store for.

Jon was right, as Alex’s set contained plenty of high-octane funk, breaks and even a few cheeky samples as a nod to his early works sprinkled throughout.

“It was pretty much like that from the beginning, when I was first DJing after having that (his ace debut, The Now Sounds of Ursula 1000) out, the sets were always super hyper-active,” Alex said. “The first record came out in 1999, so it was the big-beat era, the DJ sets were always pretty heavy. In the very beginning, there was some people expecting 60’s stuff, so even within the set I would throw some of that kind of stuff in there but then slowly but surely it started becoming more and more, clubby, always super eclectic though, from breaks to house and back again.”

But I wondered what it was about those early sounds and vibes that has played such a heavy part in the Ursula 1000 evolution.

“Not sure what it is from that era…specifically the mid to late 60’s, that’s so enticing,“ Alex pondered. “Maybe the innocent and optimistic look to the future of technology; the political uprising and voices of protest; the psychedelic era…..so much was happening. A lot of what I grabbed initially was that innocent, cheeky, party vibe aspect. The campy spy flicks. The funky Hammond organ grooviness and the boogaloo Latin vibe. All of that mixed with what was currently going on at the time…house, breaks, techno…making collages of those different sounds and eras, sounded like a fun thing to do. Kind of a mad scientist experimentation.”

But like most music lovers, Alex certainly opens his ears to plenty of other sounds as well and doesn’t plan on pigeonholing himself anytime soon.

“Other things make me tick too…I’m not just stuck in the 60’s,” he said. “So my love of early 70’s glam rock, harder psychedelia, R&B, hip-hop, electro and post-punk started to come through in my last albums. But I always gravitate back to the 60’s for inspiration again even with my latest obsession, which is trashy fuzzy garage rock. But as always, rocking it with a modern twist!”

There was plenty of twists on this night, the night before Halloween, as myself and fellow fans all dressed up for the party. Alex even got into the act with an all-black outfit which included a vintage prog-rock Spaceman 3 t-shirt and a handlebar mustache that made my make-shift Sheriff’s ’stache look pretty pathetic by comparison. The biggest difference being that my mustache was part of a costume but Alex’s was born out of pure love.

“It’s kind of a Jack the Ripper meets Alice Cooper kind of thing,” he told me about his new look. “This mustache was inspired by watching the Pink Floyd Live in Pompeii DVD. I always wanted to grow a mustache and just every time I was almost there, I was like, ‘Nah, I can’t take it anymore,’ but finally I got inspired by that early 70’s, Prog-Rock style that I like, plus my wife really likes it.”

Perhaps Alex is just trying to channel all of the new sounds he’s been dabbling in. After the release of his most recent album, the magnificent, Mystics, which showcased this ‘harder’ style of the Ursula 1000 sound, he’s already trying on plenty of new hats.

I’ve recently been listening to a lot of really trashy, garage rock, like heavy, heavy fuzz, which is kind of inspiring this new EP I’m working on.

He then added, “It’s very fuzz-guitar orientated,” Alex told us, exclusively. Coming out soon on ESL, “It’s four songs and it’s almost done, I’m just thinking about a couple of vocalists for them.”

Among those vocalists might be legendary B-52’s frontman, Fred Schneider, a kindred spirit whom Alex recently met and hit it off with.

“I have this one track that I think it would be kind of cool to have him on,” Alex said. “We were on a plane together, I walked by and was like, ‘Oh my God, there’s Fred Schneider!’ So after thinking for a second, I had to go up to him and it turned out that he had a lot of my records and then we kind of just kept in touch. He has this side project and I did a remix for it, which is a very cheeky, kind of 50’s Hawaiian kind of thing. I did a complete rework. We really revisited some of that earlier, punk-y, B-52’s kind of vibe.”

As if that wasn’t enough on his plate, he’s also been trying his hand at outside production, as he’s been making music for fellow label-mate, Natalia Clavier, who also happens to be Federico Aubele’s wife.

“That’s the other thing I just finished. We’re mixing vocals in about two weeks and then it’s done. This is my first producing job, which is for her second album. It will be done and mastered in about three weeks.”

He then shared a bit with me about what to expect on the songstress’ second effort.

“This one is kind of like electro-cabaret,” Alex shared. “There’s some tracks in English and some in Spanish and she’s definitely bringing some of her Argentinean roots to it,  but there’s also a lot of dubstep influence on it and of course my weird touch and those really pretty vocals she does so well.”

Alex has enjoyed his time in LA, spending the day before his show in Santa Monica and hitting up his favorite thing to do in the city.

“I always have to hit up Amoeba,” Alex told me excitedly. “I picked up this great Acid House compilation, The Hacienda Acid House Classics, so it was great to drive around and listen to that.” He then added another favorite that’s near and dear to our hearts as well. “KCRW is the best radio station. Jason Bentley, Liza Richardson and Nic Harcourt have been troopers from the get-go with ESL as they’re always playing our stuff.”

As for where that crazy Ursula 1000 name came from?

“I was living in Miami Beach at the time and started delving into 60’s culture…music, film, design, etc.,” Alex explained. “My interest in records from that time — mid to late 60’s also started and me and a couple of friends did a few kitschy lounge/Bossa Nova/groovy go-go boot kind of parties. This is when that whole lounge revival thing was happening with people like Combustible Edison and sampledelic artists like Japan’s Pizzicato 5. I was thinking about the actress Ursula Andress (blonde bombshell from James Bond flicks like Dr. No, 10th Victim, Casino Royale) and what a cool name it was. Also, I was thinking of atomic age products that had endings like the XL model or the 500 Series with these weird suffixes that somehow gave this futuristic touch. I mashed the two and voila.

In retrospect, Ursula 1000 gives a future/retro feel, which is what the music is all about!

He’s right about that and to further illustrate this, Alex has lovingly put together an exclusive installment in our beloved Sinning In LA mix series. You can hear for yourself and experience just how much his music and sound has evolved over the years.

As for what you can expect on it? Well, let’s leave it up to the man himself to handle that one.

“There’s always an element of nostalgia, but it’s not pastiche,” Alex told us. “I’m not completely reproducing something that sounds like some lost 60’s or Bossa Nova record, there’s always a break or some kind of electro or new modern aspect to it. You know it’s like time-travel in a way because it takes you to a different era – very future retro.”

Sounds good to us and no matter how many new sounds Ursula dabbles in, we’ll be there rocking along with him…mustache included!

The Flying Culinary Circus Lands in the Pacific Palisades

Gluttony and lust rarely make for a pretty pairing, but the men of The Flying Culinary Circus are out to create a paradigm shift in your thinking. Tor, Trond, Mathias, and Hans-Kristian are four, award-winning chefs from Norway who tour the world cooking and charming their guests, one night at a time. The guys are easy on the eyes and each specialize in something different, with Tor focusing mainly on the herbs and vegetables while Mathias creates the sauces and soups. Trond is the fish and shellfish expert and Hans-Kristian prefers to keep it simple: He’s the meat man.

Four, young, hot chefs who fly all around the world cooking at charity events and private dinner parties? Sounds like a reality show. And that’s exactly how I ended up scoring the invite to a private party hosted by Ms. Sarah Robarts at her home in the Pacific Palisades. The Circus had come to town and they were looking to land a deal. The guys were in LA for a few days talking to television execs about the possibility of doing their own reality show and took some time out from their crazy busy schedule to cook up a delicious dinner for Sarah’s guests.

Mathias Bugge, the sauce and soup man, tells me that, “We are working with Nordic Films in Scandinavia and the Conlin Company and Mercier Films here in the U.S. for different projects. I can’t say too much about the details for the concept, but it will be totally new and exciting and since we are the Flying Culinary Circus, it could even include some flying!” he says.

The open kitchen floorplan in Sarah’s beautiful home allowed for the Norwegians to chat up and charm the guests while they sliced, diced and sautéed the evening’s appetizers. Each of the guys took turns walking the party with trays, passing out their creations and winning us over with their adorable accents. We started with Tuna Sashimi smothered in a Wasabi and Apple Sorbet and after just one bite I had chased down Trond to insist that I must be granted permission for a second helping.

The “Soba” Salmon with Avocado and Cilantro Yogurt was a party favorite and I would’ve raided Tor’s tray for a third time if I hadn’t been introduced to Steve Dennis. Dennis is the author of Harper Collins’ new Britney Spears biography, Britney: Inside The Dream (The irony of Britney currently performing a circus-themed tour was not lost on me). He filled me in on the creative angle he employed in order to really get inside the mind of America’s Pop Princess. He actually visited a psychoanalyst as Britney, meaning that he went in for sessions armed with a bevy of information he’d gathered from the people around her regarding her past and her personality. He wrote the book from a more emotional aspect in an attempt to shed light on the reasonings behind some of her more infamous life choices. It was an intriguing conversation to say the least and was cut short by the arrival of the main courses: Miang Santa Barbara Shrimp and Quail with Foie Gras, Grapes and Mustard.

“It’s obviously difficult to say exactly what my absolute favorite dish would be because it really depends on the season and where we are, but my Norwegian favorite would probably be grilled stockfish with a green pea puree and bacon,” said Mathias.

The food was poignant and delicious and the men were witty and personable, making it easy to see why The Flying Culinary Circus have been flown around the world to cook and entertain for celebrities, royalty, and dignitaries. The only thing I was a bit disappointed in was the fact that there wasn’t actually a circus. I mean, I didn’t expect elephants or anything on a Cirque du Soleil level, but a little acrobatics or fire-breathing by the guys would’ve been nice.

Mathias told me that they do have plans to learn actual circus tricks at some point. “We were in Cape Town this past April shooting with the former Miss South Africa, Jo Ann Strauss, and they actually took us to a real circus school. We were all jumping in trapes (inflatable bounce house), which was great fun, and we’re currently developing some different elements to include in our future happenings.”

We have an idea to do the world’s freshest ice cream bar that would be frozen with liquid nitrogen, and one of us would actually set ourselves on fire!

Okay, so when I said earlier that they don’t perform any tricks, I guess I should revise that a bit to say that they don’t perform many tricks, because when I press Mathias a little more, he informs me that he can juggle. “If you’re asking who of us can actually juggle with three balls in the air? Well then that answer is me. But, if you are talking about ‘juggling’ girls, well, all of us do that,” he smiled.

He goes on to inform me that their name is more just a reflection of the fun and lively atmosphere that they try and create at their events. Circus tricks or not, the guys are in high demand and their adventures have taken them, and their sense of humor, from Malaysia, Singapore, Mexico, and Dubai to Hollywood and South Africa.

“This past June we were set to work a charity event in London for The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson. Tor was the one that met her to plan everything around the event and he had some difficulties with the language, so he didn’t quite understand everything. So, me, Trond and Hans-Kristian decided to have a little fun. We convinced the event organizer to tell him that The Duchess was expecting a show on stage for the 100 celebrity guests. Tor got so nervous that he couldn’t sleep at all the night before the event. He even tried to plan something he could do and when the organizers asked to see the show, it was a total disaster and they told him it had to be better!” laughed Mathias. “That made him even more nervous and he didn’t know what to do. Just before he was supposed to go on stage to have the show, we told him it was all just a prank. He was so focused that he didn’t believe us at first! We ended up going on stage and auctioning off a dinner from the Flying Culinary Circus for $19,000 dollars to raise money for the charity, but it was the funniest prank ever. You should have seen Tor’s face,” said Mathias.

A group of good-looking guys that can cook and make me laugh? Circus tricks or not – I’m smitten.

Get Lost Here: Alucidnation Creates A Soundtrack To Sinning In LA On His New Album

One of my favorite times of the day in Los Angeles is the earliest part of the morning, long after last call but still too soon for sunrise. It’s when there’s virtually no traffic to speak of and there’s as much silence in the air as you’ll ever hear. At Sinning in LA, we’re all nocturnal in nature and most times after some late night sinning at Miss Kitty’s or a massive musical festival takeover such as SmokeOut 2009, our minds need a soundtrack to slow down and relax to in this early hour. Countless times, the sounds of Alucidnation have proven to be the perfect fix. This ethereal downtempo project helmed by UK producer Bruce Bickerton, has moved, transfixed, inspired and seeped into my subconscious in every way imaginable.

I was turned on to Bruce’s first Alucidnation album, Induction through his association with the esteemed Big Chill Recordings, a UK-Based label that spun off of the massively popular Big Chill Festival, which for fifteen years now has offered music lovers a decidedly different and downtempo alternative to all the amped and massive “Coachella-esque” affairs.

“Pete Lawrence (original founder of The Big Chill) and a whole bunch of other people initially connected with ‘I’m Not Bad’, the single off of Induction, Bruce told us. “The Big Chill continues to support me as an artist even now that Pete’s left the fold, and I’m grateful for this. In the UK, which is saturated with music of every genre, I’m under no illusion that it’s important to have a platform, however small, to promote yourself from. As far as ‘understanding’ my sound, I’m not sure… music’s a very personal thing and one either connects with something or doesn’t. So to try and explain this rationally is beyond me, really!”

That’s because the sounds of Alucidnation are ever-changing but always lush, chilled, funky and decidedly downtempo.  On both his classic debut, Induction and his recent sophomore release, Get Lost, Bruce has crafted full-album experiences for his listeners that are packed to the brim with spine-tingling melodies, endless emotion and of course, plenty of Alucidnation’s trademark layers.

“Well, I’m glad you think so! You’ve got to remember that I grew up in the age of vinyl records, and was also very much into the idea of the ‘concept album,’ said Bruce.

I’m really into listening to music on the move, and there’s nothing quite like a good ‘journey’ album!

He adds, “You know, a sequence of tracks that as a whole, make up one continuous piece that you can really immerse yourself in. I feel as though both my releases achieve this, even more so on the new one.”

Most of Alucidnation’s work is made up of rich, melody-lead instrumental tracks but occasionally, Bruce’s own, unique voice will lead a track or two, such as on personal favorites, “I’m Not Bad” and “Anywhere.” While Bruce will never rival Bono for vocal prowess, his voice acts as another instrument, or layer, for the song and is just as melodic as his music.

“Yeah, I suppose it is unusual,” Bruce laughed. “Layering up my vocals in the studio is one of the most satisfying things I do; it gives me a lot of pleasure to hear the harmonies coming together. I’ve always loved that early 70’s California sound – I’m talking David Crosby, Neil Young and the whole Elektra/Asylum records thing, where vocal harmonies were particularly lush. Lyrics don’t tend to come that easily to me, so when they do, I work quickly; most of what you hear on the finished versions are live takes, warts and all. The same goes with the music, really. I’m really not into spending vast amounts of time attempting to ‘perfect’ things, when what’s more important is that initial feeling and soul one gets when committing something to tape.”

Bruce is also a gifted photographer and his album artwork reflects pictures that he’s taken. Each photo in the linear notes for his album reflects the music that it represents perfectly. On Get Lost, the cover is the direct result of a late-night tale.

“Yes, I’ve been a keen photographer for most of my life,” Bruce admitted. “I’ve got a huge catalogue of work and so it’s great that I’ve managed to marry my music and my photography into one neat artform. As far as design goes, well that’s what I’m qualified in (he has a degree in typography) and spend some of my week working as a designer in Central London. I took the photographs for the cover of Get Loston a walk home very late from a friends house back in February. It was almost freezing and was very foggy, almost ethereal, so I stopped to take some pictures. I was also pretty drunk.”

After I told Bruce how much his work had influenced our own late-night adventures, he was compelled to compile an Alucidnation installment for our Sinning in LA mix series. Combining the best of the old and new, this is the perfect primer to introduce yourself to the sounds of Alucidnation or if you’re already believer like myself, this is a lovingly created compilation from the man himself.

Here’s what Bruce had to say about his mix:

Think of it as the aural equivalent of taking a long, leisurely, deep warm bath, with soothing candlelight…that should give you some idea of what my stuff sounds like.

The mix is so stunning that it further enhances our hope that Bruce will one day bring his Alucidnation project Stateside. For now though, you can enjoy all of the Alucidnation sounds through his albums and of course the host of rarities and remixes that are available on his website.

“It’d be nice to visit the States. I get a fair amount of mail from people over there so it’d be good to do some kind of tour.  At this moment in time though, I’m ploughing any spare time and energy into re-developing my website and my online shopping facility, which is paying great dividends. I’m also writing new material when I get the notion – I’ve already written another album’s worth of new material so far this year. So I’m just carrying on as normal, really!”

The thought of another Alucidnation album to have for early morning adventures is incredibly appealing but for now I’ve got plenty more listens of Get Lost and even our own Sinning in LA mix to tide me over until then. For those that are new to these sounds, I’m now officially sinning because I truly envy your ears.

A Lover Like No Other: Johndrow Vineyards

The sky, dizzy with the wine-fumes’ aroma,
is staggering to and fro;
the angels, sipping pure wine from goblets,
pour down the dregs to the world.
From the scent of these dregs man rises to heaven.
Inebriated from the draft, the elements
fall into water and fire.
Catching the reflection, the frail body becomes soul,
And the frozen soul by its heat
thaws and becomes living.
The creature world becomes giddy,
forever straying from house and home.

One from the dregs’ odor becomes a philosopher.
One viewing the wine’s color becomes a relater.
One from half a draft becomes religious.
One from a bowlful becomes a lover.
Another swallows at one draught
goblet, tavern, cupbearer, and drunkards;
he swallows all, but still his mouth stays open.

Mahmud Shabistari

Here at Sinning in LA, we know that there are at least five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend, one’s present or future thirst, the excellence of the wine, or actually, anything pretty much qualifies. However, finding an affordable wine that was true bliss had actually proven quite a challenge until we discovered Johndrow Vineyards.  It really only took one sip, but like all lovers we decided to put them to the test. We were looking for flaws, scrutinizing, testing them out– but always ended up being pleasantly surprised and wanting more.  Always more. The best thing is, we always felt amazing the morning after. Never once did we wish they should come in smaller doses.  Never did we want to replace them with someone older, darker, lighter, sparklier or more well known. And now we cannot hold it back any longer: We are in love with them!

Their California Cabernet and Reserve cabernets both earned honors in the 2009 cabernet issue of Connoisseur’s Guide to California Wine outscoring notable cabernets such as Grgich Hills, Franciscan and Spring Mountain Vineyard by two points each and Stags Leap Cellars Artemis by three points.

Among their honors, the Johndrow cabernets received one star each, placing them in the outstanding wines category. We tried them and your friends will definitely love you if you pour these wines at dinner with lamb. They will also easily forgive you if there is no dinner to eat.

Johndrow Vineyards was created by Renaissance Man and wine connoisseur David Johndrow, his wife Maryann and Rob Lawson, a third generation Napa Valley winemaker. They have always been guided by their vision to make the best wine at the best price point. They strive to make their customers happy and they love people.

This is why they also got involved with Ally’s House. It has been established to help Oklahoma kids with cancer and their families. Donations will be used to help these families through this difficult journey. In addition to helping these families financially, Ally’s House host events to bring happiness to these children, and to brighten their day with ice cream sundae parties and amusement park trips. Sinning in LA knows that Ally’s House never ever gives up hope, and they try to bring a sprinkle of happiness in otherwise trying circumstances. We suspect that this resonates a lot with Johndrow’s own outlook.

David Johndrow is an optimist and lover of life. He is not easily discouraged. “We had one mantra that we followed. First we will be best and then we will be first! We followed that plan and made the appropriate investments with money and heart and in less than 2.5 years we were the safe choice in our given field for the highly sought after gaming business where at one time we handled 95% of the employment in Las Vegas within our human resource systems. I believe that timing is everything, in business and in life! We had a business plan that said we would sell within 3-5 years and we signed an agreement on our 3.5 year anniversary. We achieved our goals thru focus and no desire to be number 2. My mentor told me that number 2 was the first loser and I have always managed with that in mind.”

But still his biggest supporters, he said, were “friends and family.” He continued, “I also think it was internal. I have always believed that you should strive for the best and live your life with passion.”

“We have won a number of accolades,” said David, when I asked him what he’s most proud of,  “but my most proud “award” is the loyalty of our retail customers. They are the ones that are proud to serve our wines, pass along our story as well as share our belief that world class Napa wines do not have to be outrageously expensive.”

At Sinning in LA we believe that where there is plenty of wine, sorrow and worry take wings, but which wine heals a broken heart the best?

“Our Johndrow Reserve is a perfect healer… it is elegant, sophisticated and understated which I hope speaks to our customers. I want them to just enjoy our vino and not have to try too hard to figure it out like most people try to do in relationships. “

And of course, wine is easily the most romantic drink. But where in Los Angeles would be the best place to serve it up? “There are so many good places – I think wine is sexy anywhere. But my favorite place was when we rented a house on the beach in L.A. and opened a 2005 Johndrow Reserve right there on the beach. It was incredible served with the beautiful sunsets. “

In addition to being the featured wine for Bill Gates’ Bing Supper Club at Sundance Film Festival, Johndrow has now been selected as featured wine for the Academy Awards nominating party, a private party for all the nominees of this year’s Oscar’s.

“It was quite an honor to be selected for the celebrity wine dinners for the second year in a row. When you have Malin Ackerman, Katie Holmes, Bill Gates and John Legend in one room drinking your wines, and each an artist in their own right, it is really cool.

“I always say drink what you like and if you don’t like it spit it out,” he said when I asked about some final advice. “For the cab drinkers our JV California Cab for $20 is unmatched and if you like white our JV Clarity never disappoints.”

Sinning in LA could give our readers a thousand reasons why you should run out and buy a bottle of Johndrow wine right now. Don’t forget to invite us over.

Mako Makes Magic Once Again With Robata-Ya

The name Makoto Tanaka (aka Mako) strikes fear in the hearts of chickens everywhere in California. Best known for his namesake Beverly Hills restaurant, he’s more recently set up shop in Little Osaka, the Westside neighborhood running along Sawtelle, between Santa Monica and Olympic. The character-laden street, comes complete with Japanese toy stores, salons, tea shops but this quaint little communityhas really benefited from the addition of Mako’s exceptional new restaurant, Robata-Ya.

Myself, along with my cohorts in sin – Chase, Duke and the dapper Professor Bicklesby – made our way over to Robata-Ya and met up with Mako, eager to learn about his latest venture and even more eager to sample his highly-hailed fares.

First impressions are key and right off the bat you can’t help but to be impressed with the décor. The small space is open and contemporary without sacrificing the feeling of being comfortable and relaxed. The perfectly mild weather lent itself to our sitting outside where we gathered around a large wooden table on the front patio and really got a great feel for the neighborhood’s community vibe. Heavy foot traffic along the sidewalk out front and tons of eclectic style made for a more New York type feel. A first date would do well to start here, but this was no time for wanderlust – bring on the gluttony!

We started with a White Tuna Sashimi served with crispy onions in a ponzu sauce as Mako shared with some of his personal history. He moved to Los Angeles and studied under Wolfgang Puck, helping to open Chinois on Main, before deciding to try his hand in New York. “We opened the China Grill and I was happy, but I missed L.A.,” Mako mused.

After only two years in the Big Apple, he made his way back out West. “I love the weather here. Maybe if I’d never lived in California before I moved to the East Coast, maybe I would’ve stayed, but I missed California… and the weather.”

On arriving back in Los Angeles he served as Executive Chef at Spago before venturing out on his own with the aforementioned Mako restaurant, whose success made way for him to move forward with a new project. Hence, Robata-Ya was born. He named the restaurant for “robatayaki,” the traditional Japanese style of preparing food over a charcoal grill. “A lot of places do a yakatori, which is chicken skewers, but that’s different than what we are doing here.”

Mako and his team use very minimal spicing, preferring instead to let the natural flavors of the food speak for themselves. He believes that when the food is fresh and is prepared correctly there isn’t need to add much additional flavor.

I certainly couldn’t argue as my mouth absolutely melted for the Scallops in Pesto Butter Sauce. I noted just a hint of garlic, which according to Mako is the “authentic Japanese style” of preparing them.

We feasted for over two hours on Pork Belly and Braised Pork Rib, succulent Blue Prawn from Hawaii, Wygu Beef and more chicken dishes than what is decent to admit.

With so many different chicken dishes, it’s hard to fathom how Mako comes up with them all, but as it turns out he has an ace up his sleeve, which helps Mako in outshining his competition. In an unfair advantage over his cooking contemporaries, his partner, Dennis Mao’s, family owns a respected chicken farm in California that delivers fresh chicken daily to all of “the top restaurants in the city.”

Dennis and Mako met some fourteen years back when Dennis was delivering chicken to Mako in Beverly Hills. They became friends over time and started working together.

We have access to the freshest, free-range chicken – delivered daily. Nothing is frozen, everything’s fresh.

Dennis, unfortunately, was absent from our gathering, but for good reason – he was out in the desert for the annual Burning Man festival. Our very own Smash LeFunk was out on The Playa as well, shooting photographs and running amok and we joked with Mako that the two of them were probably sharing a flask of whiskey at the very moment that we sat sampling his family’s chickens.

Robata-Ya is a bit chicken crazy (in a good way) and when I say that no part of the chicken is wasted, I mean no part. At. All.

We sampled Chicken Gizzards, Liver, Tail, Skin, and two different types of Chicken Heart – yes, that’s right – I said chicken heart – which was served skewer-style with dabs of wasabi on top. You can order the Regular Chicken Heart or The Special Chicken Heart. The Special Heart is a small tender spot of the heart, a kind of heart inside the heart, and a must-try when you visit here.

Every dish seemed to top the one before and I must admit that I was a bit hesitant when it came to the hearts, but curiosity eventually won out and I actually found myself reaching across the table for seconds.

In fact, virtually everything we tried was delicious, but the award for standout dish of the evening has to go to the Chicken Tails. I know it sounds crazy, but one bite into the sizzling skewer and I was hooked. The Chicken Tail was superb and I swore then and there that I would never be satisfied with chicken wings again.

When I didn’t think it was possible to ingest anymore food, another round of specialties arrived. We finished the night off with Sweet White Corn that had been grilled and then shaved off the cob, Shiitake Mushrooms and a homemade Spicy Ramen flavored with – yep, you guessed it – Chicken Feet. Mako really wasn’t exaggerating when he said “no part goes wasted.”

Hard to believe that even after the incredible array of food we ate, we’d still only taken in about 40% of the menu. Robata-Ya is definitely the place to come when you’re feeling the gluttony kick in. My advice? Show up with an empty stomach and prepare to overeat. Chickens: You’ve been warned.

Missing Deadlines: Ulrich Schnauss Showcases His Finest Remix Work On New Album

We’ve got five copies of the new remix album from Ulrich Schnauss up for grabs! Just send an email to editor@sinninginla.com and tell us what you love most about Ulrich’s music and this storyfor your chance to win one!

In the electronic music scene, it’s now commonplace for artists to put out remix compilations of their work regularly. These usually involve a bunch of cash-cow remixes for heavyweight artists that pale in comparison to the producer’s usual production standards. Over the past decade, artists such as Sia, Depeche Mode and Coldplay have all turned to the German-based Ulrich Schnauss to help transform their tunes into the richly layered sonic soundscapes he’s best known for. But on his recently released Missing Deadlines – Selected Remixes compilation, Ulrich has eschewed the heavy-hitters and selected the songs that simply meant the most to him.

“To be quite honest with you, I wasn’t keen on the idea of doing a remix album for a long time but I thought if I’m going to do it, then it should be the ones that I really love,” Ulrich told me when we spoke with him on the day of the release.

These are my personal favorites rather than a compilation of the biggest names and tracks from a commercial point of view. The ones that ended up on the album are my definitive favorites from over the years.

While there’s nobody on the album near as big as Coldplay or Depeche Mode, the tracks that Ulrich has selected from his vast body of remix work are all full of the rich emotional content that can be found on his solo albums. Here he has helped reshape the sounds of some indie-rock, singer-songwriters and experimental artists that make up bulk of the tracks found on Missing Deadlines.

“I don’t think I’m too fussy when it comes to choosing what song to remix,” Ulrich explained. “I try to remix artists and songs that I like. What always helps is when you work with music that is songwriting-based because then you can focus on doing an alternative arrangement and on the sonics without changing too much harmonically or melodically. I think that’s what I really enjoy most about remixing.”

“Probably the best mix I’ve ever done is the opening mix on the album, ‘Setting Sun,’ by the Howling Bells because I think it worked very well to cross such different elements in that mix.”

He then added, “They do stuff that’s completely different from what I do but the end result was a combination of our two styles that probably neither of us on our own would have come up with, so I think that one came out particularly well.”

Ulrich’s music has always been ever-evolving, from his drum and bass days in the Nineties under his Ethereal 77 guise to his critically-acclaimed, ambient-driven solo work. No matter the genre, he always infuses each piece of music with memorable melodies and endless emotional content.

When I started this project about ten years ago, my feeling was that a lot of electronic music was very good in terms of creating interesting sonics but very few people tried to match that with more traditional songwriting element and that just seemed to me a good idea to combine these two approaches.

His now-classic albums Far Away Trains Passing ByA Strangely Isolated Place and his most recent, Goodbye in 2007, all featured Ulrich producing the kind of music that great late-night headphone listening is all about. However, in the years since the release of Goodbye, much has been speculated as to whether Ulrich might move away from his now trademark sounds.

“I’m actually working on a new record at the moment,” he revealed. “It’s still going to be an Ulrich Schnauss album, but it’s definitely going to change a bit. With that whole idea of trying to come up with an electronic interpretation of the Shoegaze sound, I’ve reached a level where I wouldn’t know where to take it next. I think I was a little in danger of starting to repeat myself and becoming bored with it and luckily at the same time, I started to fall in love with the more electronic sounds and that’s something I want to explore on the next album, which I’m about half-way finished with and looking to complete by this summer.”

He added, “I think it’s definitely a departure to a degree but at the same time it will still sound like something I’ve done in a lot of ways too.”

Not only does Ulrich have a new album on the horizon but he’s also finishing up his first film score, while also working on an ambient album with one of my favorite singers, Kirsty Hawkshaw, who has previously collaborated with the likes of BT and Way Out West.

“She wrote all the songs and I’m just providing the electronic arrangements,” said Ulrich. “It’s definitely more on the ambient and emotional side of things. So probably not too many floor-fillers on that one.”

“But I think the idea for me was because I thought that Kirsty didn’t get quite the recognition in this field that she’s deserved to get. I think a lot of people just saw her as a dance or trance diva but she did a couple of amazing solo records. I really liked her first one which she did with Mark Pritchard from Global Communications, so the idea for our record was basically to come up with a sequel of sorts to that.”

Ulrich has always been a fan of the ambient works of pioneers like Global Communication and much like their material, the Schnauss soundscapes are very cinematic and create an imaginary movie for the mind.

That’s one of the advantages of instrumental music is that generally that you’ve got a lot of space to make up your own images and ideas of what something communicates emotionally rather than having someone singing to you what you have to think.

“But it really all stems from the way I grew up in Germany. I had a bit of a rough childhood and there was a lot of violence around and lots of dark stuff,” he further explained. “Music was a great way for me to escape. It’s a great way to get away for a couple of minutes. If it works that way for other people and gives them that place of refuge, that’s great and the whole ambition of the project to me. You can reload your battery and get to a place where you can cope with what’s going on again.”

We have no doubt that your battery will be overflowing by the time you’ve finished listening to Missing Deadlines. The magic found within the music that Ulrich Schnauss makes is that rare type of electronic music that can move past sheer sonics because at its heart is endless emotion that stems from the passion with which it was produced.

The music on Missing Deadlines is a fantastic snapshot of an innovative artist at his best. So grab those headphones and set aside some time to get to know the ethereal sounds of Ulrich Schnauss!

Surf: Ulrich Schnauss

Buy: Missing Deadlines

Ulrich Schnauss’s Sinning In LA Mix Tracklist

01 w/trem: low pressure area
02 noumena: yours
03 martin todsharow: hanna’s longing
04 jerome froese: at marianas trench
05 lush: astronaut
06 david sylvian: silver moon over sleeping steeples
07 faith over reason: lullaby (mother love)
08 ashra: kazoo
09 psycho plasma: lhasa
10 propaganda: la carne, la morte e il diavolo
11 alec empire: shivers
12 zavoloka: rankova (midnight edit)
13 david sylvian: come morning
14 yellow magic orchestra: the city of light (ambient)
15 mark van hoen: soyuz a
16 tangerine dream: smile (instrumental)