Sunday, January 20, 2013

EXCLUSIVE! Sirkus Sirkuz INTV!

After leaving Northen Ireland DJ collective, The Japanese Popstars in the fall of 2011, DJ Decky Hedrock has been thumping heads with his own brand of electronica. Hedrock, who now goes under the moniker Sirkus Sirkuz worked for most of 2012 on his own crafting a series of explosive EP's for fans and reinvented himself to the EDM world. Now, as 2013 brings on new sights and sounds, Sirkus Sirkuz has his eye on the prize to become one of the worlds most premiere DJ's and party starters. In one of his first interviews on his own, we spoke to Hedrock aka Sirkus Sirkuz about going solo, his new music and new direction. Take a look at our interview below.

What prompted the decision to go solo and do this on your own?

I think it originally came from the idea of being able to sit and write music for myself again and to get away from a major label or writing as a group with the pressures of being signed to a major label. I had built a new studio in March 2011 and started to feel I wanted to collaborate with other artists and also to write some music that was more me. I had an idea around November 2011 to step outside my own comfort zone and see if I could experiment with different styles or genres by working with other producers that I respected or I was actually a fan of. So there was probably a spark of Sirkus Sirkuz back then from that.
Somewhere over this period of time, I wrote “Rapier” and sent it out to a few labels, just to get some 3rd party feedback, and everyone I sent it to really liked it. I had about five different record labels offers to sign it, but of course, I was signed to EMI and part of The Japanese Popstars, so there was a bit of red tape and formality to release a track outside my normal world, as you could imagine.
Once I got the “blessing” from the powers that be, the ball had started to roll and I had actually then done a remix for an act called “Crossfaders”, now under this Sirkuz alias and had chatted about a few collab ideas with some producers and I had taken some time to write a few more of my own tracks. Everything started to get really positive and exciting!

What is it like to be on your own for the first time?

Well its not really my first time. I had been releasing as Hedrock Valley Beats from the late 90s, it was quite successful too. I even had a number 1 in Australia amongst various other chart places in different countries! So writing as Sirkuz, to me, is sort of like a return to my roots in a way.

Was this originally something you were going to do as a side project from Japanese Pop Stars or ultimately the reason you left?

Yeah, we all (The Japanese Popstars) had an idea to have our own “silent side projects” over the last few years, its an idea we all threw around to metaphorically let our hair down and we had plans to individually release separately under pseudonyms without any proper push behind them. It was all pretty casual. Just something where we could release some music quietly and keep The Japanese Popstars completely separate. When Sirkus Sirkuz started to kick off for me, I decided to focus my time on building that up instead. It was quite refreshing and a massive change from what I’ve been at for the last few years with the Popstars. Its allowed me to take full control of what I’m doing and get my creative juices flowing.

Do you still keep in touch with the other guys from Popstars?

Since we normally only really saw each other when we played out or when we got into the studio to work together on music (although that meant nearly every day and most weekends!), nothing really has changed although I haven't seen them in a few months. As we are all in different studios these days or touring and Gareth now lives 4 hours drive from me in Dublin, we don’t get to spend time together anymore, as we are all busy working on our own careers and not really getting a chance to catchup.

How did you end on the name Sirkus Sirkuz?

Well I have a habit of coming up with bizarre names that are hard to spell or basically make no sense e.g. Hedrock Valley Beats and The Japanese Popstars! So, I randomly got to thinking of different ways to spell “Circus” one evening and liked the nonsensical way that it confused me trying to spell it at the beginning. Yep, I couldn’t remember how to spell it properly for about 2 weeks after coming up with it but it still fell off the tongue with ease, obviously because of the Las Vegas casino with the same sounding name. So I kept it. Did you know, Sirkus is actually the Norwegian spelling for “Circus”? And between you and me I was originally thinking of calling it “Hot Beef”!

Why hide behind a name instead of using your real name?

My real name is Declan McLaughlin, which is probably one of the most common names where I’m from in Derry– its not very adventurous and there are far too many of us called that here in Ireland! Plus, there is actually another musician from Derry who goes by his name Declan McLaughlin and people get us confused with each other. There even was one time that I received some of his royalty cheques from the BBC when he had played some shows for them, and the BBC had mistakenly sent me his payment. But being an honest person, I sent them back and explained the confusion. It was then I decided to nickname myself “Decky Hedrock”, as I was “Hedrock Valley Beats” at the time, to try and break away from his name.

Anywho, as Sirkus Sirkuz originally started off as a “silent side project” it was all just a bit of fun at the beginning but then when it started to take off more, I thought I’d keep it the name rather than change it.

We have seen EDM explode over the last few years, as someone making EDM for a while, why the burst in popularity?

That's a big thanks to David Guetta in my book. Dance music has been pretty underground for years with certain songs becoming more mainstream and some electronic artists making a bigger splash than others. But America has never really embraced the dance culture until recently, yet it has been around for the last 20 years and probably even more “underground” in the US than anywhere else in the world. Its strange when you see that the roots of house music come from Chicago and Detroit but it was a tougher country to crack in terms of this style!

So, when David Guetta started to work with the pop icons like the Black Eyed Peas, it opened people up and made it accessible to the more commercial tastes of the general public. Although to me, what David has done with BEP is still pop music and in reality a lot of the music that has been tagged as EDM, is more pop music with some underground house ideas threw in.
I also think that the EDM movement just came a long at the right time, and then when America decided to embraced it, it became a big event.

From my experience of playing more shows in the USA over the last 4 years, I saw the scene grow and grow and get more serious. In my eyes, my gigs got bigger and better, to the point that lots more money was being invested in this “new” exciting scene that was taking off in America. Production values where getting insane and more people wanted to be part of these “audio and visual festivals of light and sound”. In fact, I heard that now some DJs are getting paid more than the likes of Bon Jovi or Van Halen where being paid at the height of their popularity in the 80s!

It is actually great to see and amazing to be part of this movement, atm.

 What is so different about your work that makes you proud to be making it?

That's simple. Because its me. I love making music. So to be able to get up everyday and switch on a studio to make music, it feels like a perfect job.

What are you doing now is loud and furious and thanks to you, Justice, Nero, Skream and Banga, we are hearing EDM get stadium style sound. Is this where you think the genre is headed?

Wow, where could it be headed? I’m not sure. I was never a fan of the dubstep sound thats popular now but I am more into the rave sound. These days I’m a big fan of the “Future Techno” or “Electro Tech” sound. I really like what's coming out of Belgium, at the minute, nearly every artists I’m hearing from there is amazing – it must be something in the water!! Also artists like Turbo Turbo, Attaque, Mumbai Science, Loops Of Fury are making incredible music!

What was it like crafting the three EPs for your trilogy? Did each mean more than the last?

It was only after the tracks where finished and when Projectzion delivered the artwork that the concept for the Trilogy EP came together. It sort of all made sense once the artwork came about. Projectzion had created these wonderful sleeves for the individual releases but I realized that they would be going to waste, as the online stores didn't allow multiple artworks for a single EP. So, I came up with the idea of making 3 EPs released as one on the same day. It sort of is a homage to the days of old when I would receive vinyl EPs that had 5 or 6 remixes of the main track, and then a month later I would receive another EP full of new remixes of the same track. I miss those days and this was a way to capture that feeling but also do something that had never been done before by releasing the 3 EPs together on the same day, from the same label, and linking all the artwork together. Thanks to Jamie (Projectzion) and Kevin at 9G Records they were big fans of this idea and we brainstormed various ways to make it work. Jamie devised the motif idea for the sleeves too which acted like a glue that holds it all together. It was then that it all seemed to fall in place. Plus I then decided to call it the “Trilogy” EP because we are all Star Wars fans, which you can see an influence in the motif, and funnily I had just booked my tickets to goto Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando, so I was buzzing on Star Wars at the time!

Once we had a plan I asked some artists that I to remix the various tracks and sent them the track I thought they would work best on to hear. Luckily they agreed and every remix was amamzing! Dollface Devereaux, Elektropusher, Galactus, McLennan, Kik Katz, We Take Polariods, Alexander Technique and Superstringz all delivered unbelievable music for this release. The package became even more diverse yet still working great together as a whole package of 12 tracks and now appealed to various different DJs. The feedback is coming through from promos and its very exciting, atm. Many thanks to everyone involved!

When can we expect a full album?

There are no plans for an album yet. My plan is simply to release more Sirkuz tracks. I’m also working on a some more collabs with artists like Shadow Dancer and Run Riot which should be released very soon and I have some remixes coming out over the next 6 months too. Touring as Sirkus Sirkuz is also my focus, so I’ll be putting together my live show and DJing more over the next while. An album could be down the line - yeah, thats still an option but I’d like to just get everything solid first before thinking of a Sirkus Sirkuz Long Player but who knows!
Anyhow, hope to see you on the dancefloor!