Sunday, 26 August 2018

DF Tram Interview

To coincide with his new album release on Liquid Sound Design. DF Tram took some time out to talk about his albums, favourite record store haunts, movie mixes and more ...

1) Firstly, thank you for taking the time out from your busy schedule to complete this interview. Could you tell us a little about yourself and what first appealed to you about music?

Hi Martin, first off, thanks so much for having me, i'm a big fan of your reviews and DJ mixes.

I've been DJ'ing and producing for over 20 years. I'm originally from Los Angeles but moved to San Francisco about 23 years ago (upon moving to San Francisco I began to learn to DJ and produce). San Francisco is a very inspirational place to be, I never really got into the club scene much but the natural beauty and creative energy there is very strong. It informed my work greatly.

I was also lucky that I lived with my oldest brother there for a while, he had an amazing record collection. He brought me my first DJ mixer, and I would go through his record collection and learn to mix different styles of music, he had everything, krautrock, jazz, spoken word, comedy, minimal music and everything inbetween.I fell in love with music. Being a pretty shy person, it was a great outlet for me and a way to communicate without talking my own words. Furthermore, when I was about 20 years old I broke my neck in a car accident. This incident changed my life forever and made me determined to pursue my musical dream. That is why there is a track called 'Broken Neck' on my new album.

2) You utilise a lot of samples in both your DJ sets and productions. How did this come about and how large is your collection?

Sampling was huge for me, when I first heard music from acts like the Orb and The Irresistible Force I was amazed at how the samples pushed the music even further, creating pictures or movies inside my head. I wanted to be able to do the same, not just to make music but to tell stories.

I have a very big vinyl collection and the biggest part of it is my spoken word and comedy records. When I go crated digging it's what I seek out most. I love the happy accidents that happen with sampling and the way it allows the listener to put the familar in a new context. I'm also a big film fan, so a lot of that comes out in my sampling.

3) As a fan of back of the bucket vinyl rarities, do you have any favourite music stores?

Amoeba in San Francisco is a favourite. I lived very close to there so it was always dangerous. I spent way too much money in there over the years. Some of my favourite records were found at flea markets, charity shops, and small record shops in San Francisco, like Jack's Record Cellar in the Haight/Ashbury district. I even found some great records the other day in an outdoor flea market while visting Split, Croatia.

4) Your first album 'Illegal Lingo' was released on Steve Miller's (Afterlife) Subatomic UK label. How did this come about considering you were based in San Francisco?

I was a big fan of Afterlife and one day I contacted him about the possibility of doing a remix for him, he said 'Forget about the remix, how about I produce an album for you?' A lot of the tracks on 'Illegal Lingo' were tracks I'd been working on over the years but never finished, he helped see my vision through. I think it's a modern day 'lounge' album. I think it fits in nicely in the Subatomics label catalogue. The track 'The Idea' from the 'Illegal Lingo' album was my attempt at making an 'Afterlife' sounding track, I think it sort of succeeds in that.

5) Your new album 'Serenitay Infinitay' is an imminent release on Liquid Sound Design. How do you feel it differs from the first?

I think 'Serenitay Infinitay' is more of a diverse album and has a definite psychedelic edge. It is also a more mature album, I think. My love of different styles of music comes out a bit more on this album. There is dub, spoken word, easy listening, comedy, 70's style synth music, krautrock, sound design, progressive rock, hip-hop, lounge/exotica, electronic, folk and of course ambient.

6) You've recently moved to Malta. How do you feel the European chillout scene compares to the States?

I think the scene is much stronger in Europe than in the United States. Here in Europe people have been listening to chill out music a lot longer, so you hear it a lot more in restaurants, bars, lounges, advertisements etc. That is partly why I moved to Europe, my music is better received here, as people are much more accepting of it.

I also just love Europe a lot and always dreamed of being here. Malta is an interesting place. I have to thank Salvatore Muscat (Sequcnchill) for introducing me to Malta. He is the ambient 'Don' there and I'm glad to have connected with him.

7) If you could play at any venue in the world, what would be your first choice and why?

Hmm, interesting question. I love old venues, One of the best places I have ever played was at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco. You could just feel the history there from all the old bands that had played there before. I'd love to do an audio/visual piece at an opera house or big old theatre one day. Maybe the 'Teatro Colon' in Argentina. I also love festivals an my audio/visual shows seem to do well at outdoor venues.

DF Tram & Cal-TV presents: The Great Movie Remix (Trailer) from John Callaghan on Vimeo.

8) You've collaborated and compiled 'The Great Movie Remix' and 'Stellar by Starlight' Could you tell us a little more about the process and what appeals to you about fusing your mixes with visual movie clips?

Movies had a profund influence on me, and some of my favourite music comes from film soundtracks and scores. I think the visual element adds a lot to the music I play. They just work well together. 'The Great Movie Remix' started off as a DJ mix I created with music and dialogue samples from my favourite movies. I would put dialogue from from one movie over the music of another movie.

An Irish visual artist 'Cal-TV heard this mix and went about finding all the films and movies I sampled and then edited in all the film clips. It's one of my favourite pieces I have collaborated on. It took the mix to another level, it's like a DJ mix but with movies. I liked it so much I did a couple of others with the visual artist 'Video Dub Poobah' ... 'Illegal Lingo' and most recently 'Stellar by Starlight' which features a lot of material from my new album 'Serinitay Infinitay. We just screened it at the Bestival festival earlier this summer.

9) Do you have any up and coming live shows? If so, where can people hear you play?

I am supporting the Orb on their up and coming tour of America. Needless to say this is a dream come true for me. I'll be playing for my hometown, family and friends (hopefully making some new ones too)

Thanks again so much for having me and the support.

Links ...

Thursday, 9 August 2018

DF Tram 'Serenitay Infinity' Review

Artist: DF Tram

Album: Serenitay Infinity

Label: Liquid Sound Design

Released: 24th of August

Dylan Yanez A.K.A. DF Tram is a D.J./Producer from San Francisco who has recently relocated to Malta. His D.J. sets combine a selection of crate digging rarities ranging fromambient, jazz and world music, which are infused with sampled dialogue from film, documentaries, adverts and cartoons. He goes further at times playing alongside film clips in what he calls a Movie Mix. His first album ‘Illegal Lingo’ was released on Subatomic UK and reflected the style of his mixes somewhat and also had a slightly different feel to the other sunset Balearic releases of that label. Dylan has made no secret that he is overjoyed that this release, which he produced in San Francisco was then mastered by Youth with re-mixes from his musical hero’s the Orb and the Irresistible Force. There are also vocal inclusions from Coppe Sweetrice (who appeared on Illegal Lingo) and Lina Fouro, piano from Clifford Borg and bass from Youth himself.

Now to get to the nitty gritty what is the new album like? The opener ‘Lounge Lagarto’ begins like a TV show and quickly moves into a dub fusion of the Middle East bazaar, which sounds like it could be plucked from an old movie rather than a newly produced piece. The track is over-layered with short samples of duck hunting and horse riding, which may not appeal to some depending on your stance of the subject matter. This is followed by the Orb’s Bravo Foxhole re-mix of ‘Lovers Radio’, which begins beatless and very much in the style of the early 90’s ambient dub, eventually a plodding four by four bassline is utilised alongside a vocal sample that I imagine relates to the bunkers used in the Vietnam war. Next up is the title track ‘Serenitay Infinity’ a slow burner overlapped with poetry, that you could imagine springing up in a beatnik bar of 60’s San Francisco. ‘Eagles Shield’ takes a funky turn, filled with samples and orchestral sounds that remind me of old movies, that is bridged with more of a country music feel. This would fit easily alongside releases from Coldcut or the Jurassic 5.

The album takes another turn with ‘A Thousand Knives’, where gentle piano leads to distorted vocals that provide a slight 80’s New Romantic undertone, before sampled psychedelic themed dialogue and a dubbier bassline join the throng. This is followed by ‘Body Fizz’ which again has an ambient dub feel, where the samples sound like they have been plucked from a story not too dissimilar to Alice in Wonderland and the vocals have an early 70’s pop feel. The album then moves on to ‘Stellar by Starlight’ the title employed to a movie mix, recently aired in Malta and this years Bestival in the U.K. The piece itself is very ambient accompanied by faint harmonic voices from Coppe which rise and fall in a gentle sleepy manner. The mood then gets initially darker on ‘Honeycomb where a deep dark bass gets us underway with vocal samples, before lighter tones juxtapose and sultry half spoken vocals and vocoder voices (initially reminiscent of Newcleus) are employed. Which are possibly a combination of Coppe and Lina?

The album continues once again with Beatnik like poetry, distorted fx, old Arcade game sounds and half sung vocals on ‘Broken’. While ‘Dawn is Breaking’ another slow burner which begins with lush analogue sounding synths and vocal dialogue samples, the track builds into something reminiscent of classic Tangerine Dream before calming once more. The final track of the album is the Irresistible Force re-mix of ‘Sandcastles’, a haunting piece of synthesized ambience which once again initially has a somewhat retro feel to it (in this case Berlin School) before the beat comes in and it morphs into a dubbier affair.

To summarise I’ve always found Dylan’s mixes to be a creative journey and this album reflects that more so than ‘Illegal Lingo’ the change of label may also open his productions to a whole new audience. Admittedly with it’s wider palette of sounds it may not appeal to those who strictly love the dub reggae but it’s definitely dubby and definitely psychedelic. I for one would certainly bag this for my collection.

Review by Woodzee

This album is available to pre-order via Liquid Sound Designs bandcamp page