While New Zealand is well known for its invincible rugby team, we have some news for you, their house music is pretty formidable too. 2015 was the year when the two Kiwi brothers Ben and Louis Helliker-Hales had their international breakthrough after a few rigid releases like Midnight In Peckham on the English record label Peckham Rhythm International.
Chaos In The CBD were one of the international acts who participated in the Boiler Room X Ballentine’s True Music Lebanon concept. We were there, and we witnessed a mature DJ set of jazzy and dusty deep house and disco selection. Fortunately we managed to have a small talk with them about what is true music for them, their thoughts about the growing scene in the region and their upcoming Sandbox Performance.
How did you get into music production? Do you have any musical background?
Beans: I first got into music production by downloading an old version of Fruity Loops when I was 15 or 16. It was just a bit of fun at the time really - I was kind of treating it as if it was a video game or something. From a young age, I’ve always enjoyed the percussive elements of music, which comes across in our music today. I played the drums for many years and played in several jazz bands in high school.
How do you think moving to Peckham has pushed your career forward?
Louis: We were actually very lucky when we moved to Peckham - we didn’t know anything about the music scene or know anyone there, it was just where we were staying. Meeting Bradley Zero and then becoming an integral part of YAM Records helped us to meet more people in the area. These people were encouraging and gave us a platform to release our music.
How do you achieve the dust in your music? Is it all vintage analog hardware, or are you the type of producers who work in the box but manage to get an analog, warm sound?
Beans: I use a mixture of the two. I have a few nice outboard pieces, which help to add character to certain elements of the productions. I’m also incredibly meticulous when working in the box, I spend a lot of time tweaking and perfecting sounds. I’ve only recently started geeking out a lot on the sound quality of our productions and have been trying to take them to another level sonically.
Do you usually have an idea before getting in the studio to produce? or do you just fiddle around until you come out with something inspiring?
Beans: Usually I would have an idea to begin the process but lately as I’ve been buying more equipment, I’ve been spending more time learning how to use it. There is a lot of fiddling around at the moment and being patient until the right sounds come.
Producers sometimes (or most of the time) get stuck into a loop they made with no idea what to do next. How do you get out of this writer’s block?
Beans: This happens a lot with me but I’m generally working on 4 or 5 tracks at once, so If this happens to me I just switch to another track and try doing a little work on that. That helps me to remain productive, even in times where I’m struggling creatively. Also going for walks helps to clear my mind. You can take a step back and ask yourself “what is it you’re trying to achieve here musically?”
What’s the criteria for signing a track to your label “In Dust We Trust”? Would you sign a track that isn’t dusty?
Beans: I wouldn't say the music itself is dusty. The term dusty comes from our crew back home, The Dusty Bunch, whom the label is kind of an ode to. At the moment the A&R process has been pretty tight knit, just focusing on friends and other producers from New Zealand. The first 5 releases have been from just us and Jon Sable who we run the label with.
What do you think your role is in the True Music Concept? How do you help artists move forward? Is there a specific artist in True Music who caught your attention?
Louis: I like to think that what we do helps to inspire others, whether it be people directly from Beirut, or others watching the stream online. We’re sort of the only “house” artist on the line up, and we’ll hopefully invoke positive energy like we try to do with every set we play. We spent a bit of time with the Dollkraut Band the day of the show. They were really interesting guys and definitely left me wanting to know more.
You guys are playing the Sandbox Festival in Egypt in two weeks, are you excited about it?
Louis: Being in Lebanon and Egypt in the space of a fortnight is very exciting for us - we’ve never really spent any time in this region. I’m really looking forward to the festival, there are a lot of artists I really want to catch and I’m intrigued about the location (the festival is apparently located right on the Red Sea). It should be a great experience!
Seeing the music scene grow in the region, what is it that you think differentiates it from the scene in Europe?
Louis: The True Music event actually took us by surprise, as we didn’t know there was such a bubbling scene in Beirut until we arrived there. It’s always interesting to travel somewhere with slight preconceptions and then be pleasantly surprised. I hope we get another opportunity to return, as there’s so much more we’d like to see!