Shades Of Gray 'Unlock The Rhythm' In This EXCLUSIVE Interview w/ Traxsource.
Sydney, Australia residents Nick West & Michal Schwa formed the Shades Of Gray duo in 2005. In the few short years they’ve made a huge impact on the house music scene with releases on Om records, Lost My Dog, Dark Energy, Tonkind, Reckless Republic, I records and gain support from the likes of Shur-i-Kan, Miguel Migs, Luna City Express, Miss Kittin, Jimpster, Pezzner, Laurent Garnier, Smash TV and The Timewriter. They also created their own label “Beef Records” in 2006 with featured talent like Kruse & Nuernberg, Kinky Movement, Matthias Vogt, The Timewriter, Joyce Muniz, Moodymanc & Dale Howard.
1) Firstly, thanks for taking the time out to chat with us. Tell us where you are and how you are ! feeling right now.
Right now we are in two different countries Czech and Australia busy preparing for our European tour and promoting the new album. It’s really exciting times as we are looking forward to performing our new material live. We have a string of gigs lined up all over Europe so it will undoubtably be a lot of fun!
2) Obviously, the topic for today is your ‘Unlock The Rhythm’ Album – tell us in your words a little bit about how ! it came to be and what you were trying to convey to your listeners…
It came about very organically. We always write music when we get together. Which these days is when we are on tour. So the album was started when we got together in Prague and Sydney. The time limitations and different environments where the ideas were spawned really shows in the diversity of the tracks.
3) Where does your artist name emanate from, what’s its meaning & why did you choose it?
We’ll the artist name derives from a soft porn novel for bored middle aged house wives. Only kidding! The name really came from what we were intending to do with our sound. We didn’t want be locked down to one generic sound we wanted to have the freedom to evolve into gray areas with our music.
4) You have some great artists featured on your ‘Unlock The Rhythm’ Album – how do these types of collaborations differ from producing solo work?
For the remixes we approached people that we know personally and who play played or toured with in the recents years. Like Smash TV, Terry Lee Brown Junior, Kruse & Nuernberg etc. There are also a collab track with our mate JML, who is a good friend of ours for a long time. It makes sense to work with people who you like and respect.
We have always been into the idea of collaboration. It’s something we’ve always done. If we are touring with an artist or vice versa it’s pretty common for us to get in the studio and have a jam. This has continued on the album as we’ll with featured artists and vocalists that have added their flair. It gives another dimension to the tracks.
5) What’s it like running a Record Label – and what do you want to accomplish as an imprint?
Michal Schwa has been running the label before we got together and started producing as Shades Of Gray. For our own music, for example for the album, it’s a great platform and it allows us to be in full control of the financial side of things, artworks, pressing and distribution… And no one is stressing us with deadlines. We are pretty bad at those. That’s why it took us almost two years to put the album together.
6) What keeps you both motivated after all this time? Tell us about the highs and the lows…
The music and the friendship are probably the key factors that keep us motivated. We have been going at it together for close to 10 years now so I suppose there’s been plenty of highs and lows. I think the highlights have been when we are playing the music live and getting that direct feedback from the crowd. That’s the main reason we make the music and you just can’t beat that feeling. There aren’t too many lows. We are doing what we love.
7) Any interesting, funny, inspiring, memorable moments during the album process you can share with us?
The best thing about the album process was that we were bouncing around in so many locations. One memorable part was when we went to Michals farm house in Czech. It’s in a small country town away from distractions and internet! We set up our synths and keyboards in overlooking rolling grassy hills and jammed for 3 or 4 days. That’s where the track ‘Disappear With You’ was written. Oh, and also not forgetting the keys while we arrived there was pretty funny. We had to break into the house by smashing one of the windows.
8) What are some of your personal favourite cuts from the album/release and why?
It’s hard to keep perspective on things when you’ve been living with an album for a few years and put so much work into it. But a couple of our favourite cuts are “a night at the spice cellar” which was started by sampling a live keyboard riff when we were at a mates club in Sydney and “Disappear with you” which was written at the farm house in Czech. These two tracks sum up the evolution of our sound nicely. One is a low slung house Grover where as the other draws influences from techno.
9) What is the one piece of kit that you simply cannot do without?
It’s hard to say as we are gear junkies and have a lot of analogue synths but it would have to be the Moog Voyager. This has the most amazing bass sound going around and it features in a lot of tracks on the album. It is also pretty solid for effects as well.
10) Where can your fans catch you in playing over the next few months and what is next for you?
Dates are still being locked in for the European tour but it’s looking like we will be playing Brussels, Slovakia, Berlin, Brno and Prague. So keep in touch via our Facebook page for more updates. We hope to see you on the dance floor .