Amine Edge & DANCE are on a mission. Coming up from the not-so-mean streets of Marseilles, the production/DJ duo bonded as kids over a shared obsession for hip-hop’s greatest martyrs, Tupac and Biggie. Now, 15 years on, they’re injecting all they know and love about booty popping gangsta shit right into the heart of house music, and taking on the world with the slick, jacking result.
“At the beginning the name G-House was a joke,” Amine Edge starts, his shaky command of English still markedly better than DJ Mag’s French. “Like, you’re in the studio, you do a sick track and you say to your bro, “Damn this is gangsta shit!” So we started to name our tracks Gangsta House, and then G-House.
“We love to say this word for everything we like,” adds his partner DANCE, “Like "damn bro those trainers are so gangsta!”
No overnight sensation, Amine started producing around 2005, teaching himself [software sequencer] Acid, “doing some edits and mash-ups, some horrible shit”. After he switched to Ableton the beats started making sense, and he had his first release proper in 2007.
Grinding away for the next five years, his story is a case study in the value of persistence, and as the hours in the lab have refined his skills, his releases have got bigger and bigger.
Recent EPs on labels including Nurvous and 2DIY4 have hit hard, with the last five all heating up the Beatport Top 20. As they’ve wormed their ghetto-centric groove into sets round the globe, champions have ranged from Solomun to Laurent Garnier, to the man like Coxy.
Meanwhile, DANCE spent his time prior to linking with Amine honing a tight, bass-heavy studio technique and producing French hip-hop acts — “trying to create the exact same beats as J Dilla” — something he still does on the side, whilst describing the work with Amine as his “real job”.
The two first turned heads with their warm Jill Scott-sampling house jam 'Keep Me On My Feet' back in 2012, and haven’t looked back since. Now they’re devoting themselves to pushing the G-House movement forward — even though they’re not ready to define exactly what that means just yet.
When DJ Mag asks them to reveal the ingredients that transform an everyday house plodder into an ass-shaking gangsta house banger, they’re vague. Amine chats about bass grooves and feeling, and DANCE backs him up — “It’s just a vibe. It's all about that screw face you do when the bassline is coming, or when the track is just really good.
To be honest, in terms of kit, I have almost nothing, just a few shitty plugs and a lot of hip-hop drum kits. All these things are just tools and I don’t need a lot of them. We just do hits, man…”
They can at least agree that a street rawness and a hip-hop attitude — if not necessarily a hip-hop vocal — are essential to their tunes, going on to name-check the sparse, speaker-rattling beats of contemporary US hitmakers DJ Mustard and Clams Casino as particularly influential.
“I think the difference between us and the other guys who try and make this music is that we’re into all hip-hop culture, from the beginning, to the present, to the future,” Amine points out, “whilst most of the guys who try to do G-House stopped listening to hip-hop around 2002. It’s cos we’re French, we like new hip-hop!”
Having produced everything from progressive house to trap rap over the last 10 years, they clearly don’t want to be seen as being stuck in a rigid G-House ghetto. Whilst a lot of acts have followed a Beatport #1 with increasingly pasty sound-alikes, the duo are looking to constantly push forward, hoping to take their fans with them.
“People expect bomb after bomb,” Amine admits, “But the tracks we do are all different. I hope people like to be surprised because our evolution will never stop.”
“We’re gonna try to never disappoint,” DANCE adds. “Of course our music is in perpetual evolution, but we’re always gonna stay G anyway...”
The question remains, is the whole G-House scene just a quick phase for the producers, or can it go on and on? Amine is hardly bothered one way or the other, dismissing any concerns. “I have no idea what will happen. I do my shit and I don’t think. You start thinking when something is getting bigger and bigger, and that makes scenes die quickly, like minimal in the past, or progressive house. All we want to do is work this shit as much as we can and we’ll see.”
BIG IN THE GAME
They are, inarguably, getting bigger. With online plays regularly hitting the 100,000s Amine Edge & DANCE are set to make some serious inroads in 2014 — they’ve already had collaboration offers from big artists, drawn by the duo’s deft touch with a rap sample, but insist they’re not going to turn their back on sampling classics any time soon. “We had some requests from a very big name in the rap business but we can’t talk about it yet,” Amine confirms. “There’s a surprise coming!”
“But you know,” DANCE adds, “when you listen to Biggie, for example, nobody can rap like him so sometimes it's really good to use a sample. That’s why I’ll never stop using samples, even if one day I work with the biggest rappers in the world.”
Already with a packed release schedule of their own, Amine & DANCE have upped the stakes by launching their own label, CUFF. Kicking off before Christmas with a label comp that finally allowed eager fans to get hold of AE&D’s road-tested, Mobb Deep-sampling bomb 'Halfway Crooks', the collection then went on to cover everything from the freaky vocal electro of Dayne S’ 'All the Things' to the ghetto fabulous hip-house of Flex B’s 'Baby I’m Boss'. The sound was house-led, with lashings of sleazy funk, and testimony to an open-minded approach to curating.
“I just listen to everything I receive,” Amine announces, “and if I get goosebumps, I sign. I don’t care about G-House or house or techno, I don’t want my label to sign one genre, I just want to sign bombs.
CUFF is like my secret playlist; all the tracks that people are spending hours looking for on the internet without ever figuring out what the fuck I’m playing, now they’re gonna know — with a certain delay of course… most of the artists are unknown and extremely talented, and some of them are touring a lot since I’ve shared their track.
I’m happy about that, no one ever helped me. I imagine how I would have felt myself when I was young if someone had helped me, and it makes me happy for them.”
In which case, it looks like Amine’s going to be feeling happy a whole lot in 2014. After their own 'Porn Bass EP', ready to drop as the next release on CUFF, the duo claim to have over 20 more releases signed up and ready to go — enough, in fact, to say they’re going to be hitting the house music scene with a good, old-fashioned gangsta takeover. Watch this space.
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