From the depths comes the mysterious echoing frequencies of a man enchanted. With a rare spirit and extraordinary delivery, Michael Red is a creator of magic. Through his many beautifully overlapping projects, this man works in the medium of sound and light, mixing them effortlessly with space and darkness.
As head of the forward thinking Vancouver sound system collective Lighta! Sound, Michael Red reigns supreme in the dance. In another light, he channels an alternative energy, a deeper emotional expression with Low Indigo. Going deeper still, you might find the music of souns, another more exploratory AV creation of Michael’s. Most recently, he has paired with Gabriel Solomon aka GBS of Yellow Swans to create Chambers, a name which quite accurately suggests the style and sound. Through these many channels, Michael Red crafts a collection of frequencies all his own.
Last year at Bass Coast, I had the chance to speak with Michael about his music and his involvement with the Bass Coast Project. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the interview was never published, until now. Like a vaulted wine, ingesting these words and rhythms will provide you a taste of Red which would stimulate the palate of any contemporary music connoisseur.
Check out the interview below, and be sure to have a sample of the many sounding flavors of Michael Red. For those headed to Bass Coast this weekend, BIG UP YOURSELF. It’s going to be superb. More info on Bass Coast here.
GANJAOLOGY :: We are here with Michael Red at Bass Coast 2013. Maybe we can start with a brief intro…
MICHAEL :: My name is Michael Red. I’m from Halifax Nova Scotia, and I’ve been Vancouver based since ’98. And, I’m into all sorts of different things.
GANJAOLOGY :: Excellent. I know that you’re a part of Lighta! Sound and you have some other independent projects. I guess let’s start with Lighta! Tell us about that.
MICHAEL :: Ok, I’m not exactly sure when we formed, but it may have been 2004ish. It started off initially rooted in ragga jungle, dancehall, and soundsystem culture. At the time when it was forming, it started off as a fusion between dancehall and jungle. Later on it started to define itself more. Now, we can backtrace it to say “Oh, that’s what’s happening.” But, at the time it was just fresh and really moving fast. Slowly artists came on board… It’s definitely Vancouver based. I like to think it has a West Coast flavor with a real Vancouver identity.
GANJAOLOGY :: Who were the originals and who is involved now?
MICHAEL :: The originals… Well I invited everyone on. It starts with the logo, which I view as an icon. It has an impact. it’s a kind of statement to be perceived in a certain way. I had the image in my head for years before putting it into physical form.
Because we were strongly rooted in Jungle and fusions around that, the starting members were people that are not active now. But that was Condition Red, who is from Victoria. He’s the Jungle archivist here on the west coast. He’s got the biggest collection and the most knowledge. That made sense. This guy knows his stuff and we were playing shows together. And then after that it was Angst, who is San Fran based now. I think he’s from San Fran originally and he came up to Vancouver, spent some time and then went back down. He was very much holding a torch for Ragga Jungle up here. He was on it with the Ragga Jungle resurgence which was happening at that time.
Next I believe It was Calamalka. I met him at a party and he gave me a record he had pressed himself. It was like hip hop dub fusion. Very rooted in dub… that whole dub aesthetic.
Essentially what it is now and where it comes from is sound system culture. It’s about the live experience. Today it’s a lot of dancehall reggae. That’s a very strong element which will always exist. And also, modern sound system culture… What dubstep was and arguably still is in a purest sense. And any extensions of that. My view, and I think our collective view of sound system culture is always pushing forward. When you look at Jamaica and that sound, it’s always the next thing. Lighta! is so diversified now… with all of our different members and what they do.
GANJAOLOGY :: You said you had 12 on stage today. Who are they?
MICHAEL :: Myself, Calamalka, Max Ulis, Self Evident, DJ Tusk, Tank Gyal, Mandai, DJ Cure, Daega Sound, Taal Mala, and…
We haven’t made an official announcement yet, but it’s no secret. Our latest member is Librarian. And we’re all super excited about that. And it just makes sense. It’s not really any sort of decision. She’s just obviously part of the family. We’re a family you know.
GANJAOLOGY :: I honestly thought she was already party of the crew.
MICHAEL :: That’s why. A lot of people are like “oh, she’s not a part?” So that’s why. And that speaks to my personal interpretation of the whole thing. That’s just what makes sense and feels good. It’s right. It feels right. That’s kind of what people want it to be. It’s already understood.
GANJAOLOGY :: Anything else you want to share about Lighta?
MICHAEL :: I don’t know… We’re stoked. It’s cool. There remains a potential which is really strong. It’s in no way stagnant. Theres lots of room. There’s lots of direction. There’s lots of future pockets to be filled. You know, we’re a family… and we’re excited.
GANJAOLOGY :: It’s a pretty inspiring group for sure.
MICHAEL :: It’s a collective, you know. It’s bigger than the sum of all of us.
GANJAOLOGY :: So that’s one project. There’s this other project, maybe similar. Chambers… Can you talk about that?
MICHAEL :: Sure. Chambers. We started about a year ago. It’s me and Gabriel Solomon aka GBS. He was a part of a duo called Yellow Swans. If you want to talk about intuition and ethereal stuff, we came together in a very dreamy way. I feel, and I think he would agree, that it’s not even realized yet. It just feels right, and we’re going somewhere and we’re not sure where. It feels good. It’s a lot of improvisation. It’s absolutely rooted in dub. In traditional dub aesthetics.
GANJAOLOGY :: Is it live?
MICHAEL :: Ya it’s live. He’s playing guitar with analog effects like delays and reverbs with a mixer. He also uses cassette tape loops. I have my live PA setup which is three midi controllers. I take a live feed of what he does and I put more effects on that. And live, we jam. It’s about spaciousness and attention to space. It’s minimal with a focus on the deep details. The micro details. it’s heady. You know, you can lose yourself in it. I do. He does. I know others can too. I’ll say, It’s heavy in a subdued way. I think that is accurate.
GANJAOLOGY :: The other major project that I know you’re involved with is Low Indigo. Tell us about that.
MICHAEL :: So… in sequence from all that you’ve asked, Low Indigo is the most undefined. And undefined in a very comfortable way. It’s like my experience with Lighta’ and how it formed, and made sense later. From that experience, I’m kind of surrendering and letting it go to see where it ends up.
Musically speaking, on average Low Indigo is more left field, abstrakt, slower, more moody, chilled out, and more on the fringe. It’s not main room. The way Lighta! would be main room, we can do the hype party kind of thing. Low Indigo is what was the rave chillout room. That is the place for more exploration. It’s more participatory as well and thats the way I kind of left it undefined and it’s kind of slowly defining itself over time. Through the FB group, people are contributing with “Hey check out this artist, or check out that project.”
There’s a rap artist, Sol from Anticon. He and I got the chance to collab on a track some years ago. I think he just makes lyrics up off the top of his head, like he’s channeling something. I always remember one of his phrases in that rap. He says, “that which is perfect is finished.” As soon as you define something, it has boundaries. And people can say it’s this. It’s not that. It’s black and white…
I’m interested in the grey. I’m interested in the organic reflecting real life which is not defined. It’s exploratory. “Let’s see how this goes” kind of thing. I view Low Indigo to have it’s own soul. And for now I’m a facilitator of that. So I guide it and we’ll see where it ends up. And Like I said, it’s rooted in the more exploratory fringe stuff so naturally that equates to left field, fringe thought as well. Like those sparkles of inspiration. In a setting like this at Bass Coast, I’m interested in affecting individuals so they’re like, “I’m gonna change my whole life right now.” You know, it may or may not happen but it’s those moments, regardless of what happens next. I’m interested in those moments of inspiration and life changing epiphanies and stuff like that. Which I think a lot of that music lends itself to. That dreamy, lose yourself, meditative introspection.
GANJAOLOGY :: What can you say about Bass Coast?
MICHAEL :: From the very start… Well, let me tell you for a second. As soon as I saw Andrea, the Librarian in Whislter… Wow. She was DJ’ing with myself, Daega Sound, 2562 and Mat The Alien at his night up in Whistler. She was opening up and none of us knew her and Mat was like… “Ya man, she’ll do a good job”. As soon as I saw her and heard her selections and her vibe, I literally said to her… We need to work on some stuff. Tell me what you’re up to because… Let’s do something. And she says, “well actually I’m thinking about doing this festival called Bass Coast this coming summer” And I was like alright! let’s keep in touch!
GANJAOLOGY :: You were quick to support.
MICHAEL :: Absolutely. In an instant. A bunch of Lighta artists got booked and we supported it all the way. It was very clear to see that big things for Bass Coast were soon to come!
I think that the amount of growth and potential that Bass Coast has, at this point is still pretty much infinite. A lot of people that come here feel that as well. And that is one of the reasons why I believe in it and support it wholly. Because it’s a feeling. People come here because it’s larger than just the experience itself. We all have the potential for larger than what the media might tell us. Or in our day to day, what we might believe, our ego; we are larger than that. Here’s a place that actually realizes that and expresses that and helps facilitate people growing in that way. That’s what I think Bass Coast is… and that’s why I love it!
GANJAOLOGY :: It’s been almost a year and Bass Coast 2014 is around the corner. Last year you were working on a release with Modern Math, plus your Low Indigo music and of course Chambers. Any updates?
MICHAEL :: Absolutely. The Modern Math EP since dropped and did pretty well. Chambers has secured two vinyl releases for Digitalis. One in the fall and the other in the winter. Very stoked to have it mastered and pressed by D&M and distro’d by Forced Inc. Plus Boomkat going to get behind it and the artwork is developing quite nicely. I’ve just completed my work for the debut vinyl for Undone, a really great Vancouver-based blog who are branching out into releasing music now. That release is split with Taal Mala. We each have a tune on there, and are remixing each others work on there too. Low Indigo’s got a few more releases out since we last spoke. Lots more releases being incubated currently, plus a video coming out this September and a much healthy distro network secured now too. Two tunes for South Fork Sound before the end of the year, a souns tape for Digitalis and a remix on a limited CD for IO Sound, and lots more being worked on as well. Had my first vinyl appearance earlier this year on a Hybridity comp – a remix for Sabota, which I’m happy how it turned out. ..Busy and excited, basically.
GANJAOLOGY :: What excites you most about Bass Coast this year?
MICHAEL :: Genuinely very excited to check out a pile of friend’s sets this year, like any year though really. I know a few folks have been pouring their hearts into live sets that they are going to be debuting this year. Not going to miss those. And just being surrounded by the extended family that makes up everyone there, you know.. stoked to be “home” again.
Big Thanks to Michael Red, Lighta! Sound, Bass Coast Project and everyone out there listening and sharing this extraordinary music. #Respect
Lost Tapes Pt 1. w/ Daega Sound Here.
Muffled kick drums and filtered snares echo into your auditory field as distant serpent synths weave gently into your awareness. Soon, splashing cymbals and rising sonic tides elevate your ears into an ocean of technical intricacies washed and tumbled by waves of emotionally driven atmospherics. Imagination takes over and you’re launched into the land of Daega Sound. To breath underwater never felt so natural.
Hailing from a forested coastal island in the Strait of Georgia beyond Vancouver, this dynamic pair of Canadian dub producers come together to create an undeniably unique sound. Known for their technically advanced rhythms and dynamic synth work, Daega Sound seamlessly fuses the frequencies that we may commonly refer to as Dubstep, Drum n Bass or Techno. With their strikingly keen ability to navigate the depths through their music, it’s no wonder that these boys literally shared the same womb. If you’ve ever seen these guys perform, one thing is clear… They are brothers.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Daega Sound at Bass Coast in Merrit BC last summer. Unfortunately, shortly after the interview the recordings vanished. Like a long lost treasure which surfaces at the opportune moment, the recording has been recovered, just in time for Bass Coast 6 – Mutiny. #YAR!
Check out the interview below and be sure to tune in to some of the tunes from Daega we’ve included throughout this article. The boys had the opportunity to follow up to share what’s new in the world of Daega Sound since last year. Jump to the end for that, but don’t miss what they had to say about Bass Coast, what’s happening in the world of electronic music, and the bass music scene’s dirty word “Dubstep”.
So tune in, listen up and recognize that no matter how someone may choose to categorize your favorite music, only one phrase fits when describing the music of Ben and Josh Searles. This is Daega Sound.
Check out more from Daega Sound on Facebook and Soundcloud. Also check out their recent releases with Brooklyn bass music label Tuba Records. Lastly, be sure to check back at GANJAOLOGY this coming week for The Lost Tapes Pt. 2 with Michael Red!
See you all at Bass Coast, August 1-4 in Merrit, BC!!
Here’s the interview…
MICK :: Alright, this is Mickey and Nala with Ganjaology and we are here at Bass Coast with Daega Sound. Why don’t you guys just introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about the project?
BEN :: My name is Ben, This is my brother Josh…
JOSH :: Hey
BEN :: And we make bass music, and well…
JOSH :: All kinds of stuff
BEN :: A lot of what we put out is in the 140 dubstep world, although we’ve got a release coming out soon with Loxy and Resa on the Cylon, which is a 170 DnB release.
JOSH :: We come from a pretty diverse background in music. We were trained classically when we were younger. And so as we sort of grew up, we started to thirst for some new sounds and stuff and as we didn’t grow up in the sort of mainstream world of music, we didn’t go pop or mainstream we sort of went underground, deeper and deeper and we never looked back or came out of it.
MICK :: Sweet. So, are you guys Vancouver based?
BEN :: Ya we live just outside of Vancouver, a short ferry ride, about 40 minutes outside of Vancouver. We are some what isolated so we can focus, we’re also close enough to the city that we can stay connected. It’s a perfect kind of balance.
MICK/NALA :: Ya we’re both familiar with that ferry ride into the city, we do it to in Seattle.
JOSH :: Oh no way.
BEN :: Killer…
JOSH :: I love it. It’s the best because you get the best of both worlds. We like to be not distracted… You know and in a place like that it’s like one stop light between you and the grocery store, get like good maximum studio time. In the winter anyways, summer’s ridiculous.
MICK :: Absolutely. Ya so it’s like “underground…” I guess, would you use an other words to describe your music?
BEN :: It’s kind of introspective.
JOSH :: Ya, and it really melodic, soundscape-y.
BEN :: Atmospheric, Soundtrack-y, a lot of people call it deep…
JOSH :: But it’s heavier and headier than “deep”. It’s not slow. It’s pretty syncopated. Ben was a drummer growing up and I played guitar so we kind of had a good thing going with rhythm and melody so there’s always those things are always the mainstays but everything comes from another place. We just do whatever, we’re like conduits.
BEN :: We used to DJ like drum n bass and techno, so you hear a lot of that drum n bass in there.
JOSH :: The neat thing about that sound, about the 140 “dubstep” sound, at least when we got into it, there were little bits of everything. Like there was DnB elements and there were some techno elements in there. Some dub, well lot’s of dub. We both are huge into like reverb, delay and all this. So it was a good sound for us because we were writing all sorts of stuff and we could kind of coalesce these into one place where we could focus it.
MICK :: And you guys are brothers, is that true? I mean blood brothers?
BEN :: Yes. Yes..
JOSH :: Ya we been doing this a long time. Our mom was a choreographer and a dancer and our dad was a composer…
BEN :: Haha, ya been doing this kinda thing for a little while.
MICK :: Ya, I come from a drummer father and my mom’s a dancer.
JOSH :: Oh cool, ya we spent a lot of time backstage thinking…
BEN :: “Oh.. those are some cool lights and buttons.”
MICK :: Nice. So maybe you guys can talk about any new releases, maybe recent releases that you’ve done or you’re working on.
BEN :: Ya we put our first record out on black box, which is probably one of our biggest releases. It’s a UK label, it’s got acts like Headhunter and Kryptic Minds and Jack Sparrow and a lot of guys that we sort of looked up to for a long time, and still do. And in our sets you hear a lot of those guys.
JOSH :: Ya we’ve played a lot of their stuff and a lot of stuff off their label. And we have another upcoming release with the in the fall. We put some stuff with a newer imprint, Tuba.
BEN :: Well, they’ve been around for a little while actually.
JOSH :: This is our fourth release, I think. So we’ve got another one coming up and then as Ben said the Locksee and Rez, it’s a CX Digital… Our first official drum n bass release. So branching a bit. We’ve had plans for an album, sort of sneaky in the background for a while and we thought we were going to be able to pull all that out this year, but…
BEN :: Ya, it’s gotta take it’s own time.
JOSH :: We’re not a quantity type of couple of producers, we’re more like the Tool. Putting one record out every four years sort of thing. You know, put the time and effort in to make it count.
BEN :: When we’re letting the ideas percolate it’s always nice to spend a summer going and checking out new acts and new sounds and getting new inspiration and you take that energy back into the studio. Get in the shed. It all sort of steeps and it comes out in new ideas.
JOSH :: Were gonna be doing… As far as performance, we’ll be keeping up our writing as we have been. We’ve got ideas to launch a new Daega Sound music store, so we’ll be able to do a lot of our own stuff. But also, as far as performance goes we’re gonna stick to the two by four now, so we have a lot more scope and range as far as DJ sets go… With four decks. And then we’ll be doing a lot more live stuff coming up. We’ve got enough material that it makes it worth it.
MICK :: So you guys run two decks each?
BEN :: Ya, two decks and two mixers.
JOSH :: It’s like a brother thing, you know. Everything has to be shared. He’s got two turntables, I want two turntables.
BEN :: Ya it keeps us from getting bored.
JOSH :: Two deck sets are fun, but you know. You can just do so much more.
MICK :: Well cool. This is a good seg-way into we’re here at Basscoast, so why don’t you give us the scoop on Bass Coast. What’s this gathering all about?
BEN :: This is like a big extended family out here.
JOSH :: Pretty much every level of infrastructure here has got people from our crew.
BEN :: We’ve been around since the first one, so you see the evolution go from like 700 or 800 the first year and there’s thousands this year. The production each year, it’s just grown. And it’s sort of getting into its adolescence now. It’s getting to feel more comfortable with itself and the systems. Its a new site here, so they had to go through a lot of learning curves I’m sure to get on top of everything that goes with getting a new sight, but from the front it’s seamless. It’s been an awesome experience.
JOSH :: It’s kind of like an outdoor Mutek in a way, where you have really high level production sound, lights, and talent – but you’re in an outdoor setting in that way.
MICK :: Cool, so any words of wisdom for up and coming musicians out there?
BEN :: The one thing that we’ve always been told and what’s kept us going is perseverence. You just don’t stop.
JOSH :: And to be really honest with what you do. Write the music that moves you, not what you think is gonna… You know, because I think people are receptive to honest music so just let it come naturally and just don’t give up. That’s what we were told.
BEN :: And our older brother Ron is an engineer and he always says… While there’s a lot of music out there right now, more than ever before with the technology that’s available, there’s always room for good music. People will always be ready to hear good stuff, so don’t be afraid.
JOSH :: The other thing is that everything takes its own time.
BEN :: Music is sort of a life long interaction or relationship with the individual that is creating it, or a part of creating it. It’s always been there, it’s always gonna be there. You now, take your time with it.
JOSH :: We like to think of music lasting forever. You know, you think of some of those composers that wrote in the 1500s and it’s still being played today. That’s sustainability. I mean that’s what I classify as timeless.
MICK :: You’re a part of Lighta! is that true?
BEN :: Ya we’re a part of the Lighta! Sound.
JOSH :: Ya, I guess we’ve only been Daega Sound for about 5 years. This is our fifth year now, In 08 so it just kinda got blown there. And that’s when we joined up with the Lighta! guys which is great because they’re a good bunch of guys to roll with. Good inspiration, support.
BEN :: We’ve got some sort of compilation ideas coming along with a whole bunch of us that are making music as well, putting music out. So it kinda makes sense that we do something together like that.
JOSH :: Ya we do events together. It will be nice to see where that goes this year.
MICK :: We recently did an interview with Self Evident where he mentioned you guys and he said that, Daega has been saying that there’s a reimergence of dubstep in it’s truest form. So do you have anything to say on that?
JOSH :: It was Youngsta actually that I remember reading an article on talking about that in Europe because in the UK… Imagine the ripple effect. You drop a stone in the water in the UK and it as it moved out it kinda stopped. But I think theres a whole new generation. I think the young guys that were into the “bro-step” are growing up a bit and searching for stuff thats a little deeper.
BEN :: They’re curious.
JOSH :: They’re curious and there’s bigger numbers now toward that sound. Or it feels that way at least.
BEN :: We’re just at the point where another wave is about to spill over.
JOSH :: It does feel like that. We’re always listening to new music and what’s going on and there was definitely a period where things were kinda quiet.
BEN :: We were talking to Goth Trad earlier and he was saying that there’s a lot of guys doing stuff in the 130 bpm range in the UK now but you see in Holland and Belgium a lot more 140 happening.
JOSH :: It sort of moves around the world like that, that sound.
MICK :: It’s a beautiful culture we got going on.
JOSH :: It’s really fucking cool.
BEN :: It’s a big international family.
MICK :: Cool, well much respect to you guys.
DAEGA SOUND :: Yes, thanks!
GANJAOLOGY :: It’s been a year in the life… What’s changed since last year’s Bass Coast?
DAEGA SOUND :: We’re always refining the sound and how we go about creating and performing it, it’s an ongoing evolution. There’s a bunch of new dubs in the stock pile and tunes coming out including a 12″ up next with NYC’s TUBA imprint. Our Daega Sound Music store will be online soon, excited to see that coming to fruition. Also keep your ears peeled for Daega Sound radio shows in the near future.
Thanks to Vasho Photography, Bass Coast, and Daega Sound for the photos.
The Basscoast Mutiny lineup has been revealed, and as expected, it’s stacked with an impressive array of musical talent. For the past three years the Ganjaology team has adventured north into the Canadian wilderness to share in one of the highest vibes parties this side of the Kootenays… and you better believe we’re gearing up for another round!
Year after year the Bass Coast Project continues to amaze, enliven and inspire. Once again, this year The Bass Coast Girls (organizers Andrea Graham and Liz Thomson) have outdone themselves. Performances for this year’s bush session include Addison Groove, Tribe Called Red, Bogl, Cure, D Bridge, Danny Corn, G Jones, J.F. Killah, Kir Mokem, Mat The Alien, Max Ulis, Natasha Kmeto, Nick Wisdom, Philthkids, Self Evident, Sweater Beats, Tank Gyal, Librarian, and Yan Zombie among others!! We’ve listed music from many of the musicians below.
Listen to the sounds and imagine yourself in the forest, the beats filling your auditory field. Notice how you feel as these frequencies are filtered through your receiving centers. Are you inspired? Does the music make you move, make you bow your head and hum… Do these sounds suggest to you love or lust, laughter or longing? Are you sick with excitement?
Whatever the case, our physicians here at Ganjaology Institute prescribe one fat dose of BC trees combined with all manner of creation from raw to refined (super pun here, please smirk responsibly). Coincidentally you can get all this at Bass Coast. Do your body a favor and get up to Merritt, BC this August for Bass Coast 6 Mutiny!
A THOUSAND YEARS
A TRIBE CALLED RED
ANDREW VAN HASSEL
DJ K-TEL SUNDAY SOUL SESSIONS
DJ LORNE B
EL PAPA CHANGO
FORT KNOX FIVE
HEART TO HEART (BRON AND MOE LOWE)
JANOVER & RESUNATOR
JPOD THE BEAT CHEF
KRYSTLE LOVE B
LUCITERRA & CHRIS MURDOCH
MAT THE ALIEN
SWEET SOUL BURLESQUE
THE FUNK HUNTERS