Interview: Spatial Awareness

Anja Schneider’s ability to discover new musical talent should come as no surprise to anyone at this point, with her Sous Music imprint pushing productions from new and emerging talents such as Matrefakt, BAUGRUPPE90, and Angioma.

The most recent aspiring producer to find themselves under the guidance of the German veteran is Essex local Spatial Awareness, who recently debuted on Sous with his new 2-track offering, The Day That God Went Mad.

Speaking to the British artist, we got to ask him about the new tracks, how he feels about working with Anja Schneider, how growing up in Essex might have influenced him to become a DJ, and more. Get the full discussion below.

This month sees you debut on Sous Music with your new ‘The Day That God Went Mad EP’, what’s the story behind the tracks on this one?

I’ve always had very broad taste musically, and that’s something that’s always found it’s way into my productions. I’ve a huge fondness for strings, especially in a widescreen, cinematic context – I’m a massive fan of John Barry and Scott Walker – and I’ve found that recently that orchestral feel has been getting more prevalent in a lot of my work beyond just the Solina sound that I’ve often used.

The Day That God Went Mad was one of a few demo tracks that I sent Anja, and she really liked it; I had another track that I was working on, which became Face Of Evil, which was in a similar vein.

They ended up complementing each other really nicely, both sort of cinematic electro. A little bit John Barry, a little bit Arthur Baker! The titles are from Tom Baker-era Doctor Who, as I have a penchant for that sort of thing.

Anja seems to really be pushing emerging producers with the label, is this something you noticed when discussing a release with her?

I think Anja has a long history of unearthing really great emerging producers, and that’s definitely something that she seems to be continuing with through Sous Music. In an area of the music industry that’s grown in a commercial sense over the last three decades into such a beast where so much is so utterly hardnosed, hype driven, and money-lead, it’s so important to have people like Anja who aren’t afraid to really dig for talent and nurture it with a platform like Sous.

And you’ve also released tracks on labels like Hottwerk Records and Interzone Music Club, what attracts you to a label when considering them for a release?

Well, Hottwerk I own, and Interzone I co-own with Pete Dorling, so they’re kind of my musical homes! It’s always about authenticity and integrity, really. For me, the key factor with labels is always the quality of the music. Does the music suit the label? Is the label’s primary concern the quality of what they’re putting out?

I went through a period a few years ago of thinking that maybe I should be making certain types of track in order to get signed to certain labels that would have been advantageous career-wise, because they were seen as being fashionable at the time. But thankfully I couldn’t really bring myself to produce in that kind of way.

I do think that there’s a perpetual avalanche of producers and labels guilty of putting into the world fairly mediocre, identikit tracks on the back of various bandwagons; but I think a lot of labels and artists get into a position where they’re kind of trapped into having to churn out continual “product” that ticks certain boxes and conforms to trend specifications. I think that’s a symptom of where the commercial end of the industry has allowed itself to end up. Pleasingly though, the whole tedious emphasis on follower numbers, plays, likes, and so forth does seem to be waning.

Which other labels might we expect to see you on soon?

I have releases planned for Hottwerk and Interzone Music Club later in the year, and I also have a release out on the iconic Shaboom Records in the summer. Plus another couple of bits and pieces cooking that I can’t say too much about yet.

Your catalogue of music includes a bunch of remixes; do you approach a remix project any differently to producing an original track?

Sometimes. Although I do have a particular way of working across the board, I tend to approach each project as an individual entity. Sometimes I’ll have a very clear direction for a track or a remix from the off, and the whole thing will be virtually written in my head, sometimes I’ll have a fragment of an idea. That said, sometimes I’ll have something in my head and I’ll end up taking a complete left turn and go somewhere totally different with it. I think the main difference is, with a remix you always at least have a jumping-off point to start with.

You’re Essex born and bred, were there any particular local clubs or DJs that influenced you heavily to wanting to become a DJ yourself?

Essex has such a rich history of electronic and leftfield music – Depeche Mode, The Prodigy, Nitzer Ebb, These New Puritans, Ben Sims, Dave Lee, N Joi, Alien, Empirion, just to name a few. But to be honest, the main influence on me becoming a DJ were my two older brothers who were mobile DJs who just played in discos occasionally; and growing up on Canvey Island, the legendary soul club The Goldmine was a huge presence (although sadly long shut by the time I was old enough to go out at night). But there were definitely DJs locally along the way who kind of opened my eyes to different possibilities and new musical avenues.

And who are some talents coming out of Essex right now that you think are set to do big things in the near future?

There always seems to be so much happening down here, especially around the Southend area; and lockdown has only increased that, the devil makes work for idle hands. Greg May is getting on a lot of peoples’ radars at the moment, he’s a long serving DJ who’s just recently started producing tracks, marinated in 25 years of dancefloor experience.

Pierre Codarin has been making waves over the past couple of years, and has a new label Spaghetti Club, also T. Jacques always seems to be busy! And Jordan who runs the Gather parties has a label of the same name that’s turning a lot of heads.

The UK seems to be recovering strongly from the pandemic, and clubs could be open again in the next few months, what’s something you miss most about being on the dancefloor?

I’m cautiously optimistic about everything opening up and going back to some sort of normality again; I’m hoping for the best – that the enthusiasm for going out is going to be back at levels not seen for several years! Maybe even midweek clubs will become a thing again, who knows?

The landscape of clubbing will certainly have changed; the toll of the last few years – Crossrail, Brexit, and now the pandemic – has been quite evident on clubs and venues, tragically mostly negatively.

I’m thinking that a return to the DIY, back-room-in-a-pub ethic is going to be a big thing. In terms of what I’ve missed most about being on a dancefloor, really it’s just that opportunity to get lost for a bit; I think that’s probably what a lot of folks have missed – the escapism of it.

And how much are you looking forward to getting back in front of a crowd yourself?

I absolutely can’t wait.

Spatial Awareness – The Day That God Went Mad EP is out now on Sous Music.