French production duo Amine Edge & DANCE coined the phrase “G house” to describe their low-slung, tough and funked-up take on dance music. Initially drawing inspiration from the gangsta rap of classic hip-hop acts like the Notorious BIG and Dr Dre on breakthrough tunes for 2DiY4 ('Going to Heaven with the Goodie-Goodies') fusing samples of rhymes with house beats — hence the G house tag — they draw from wider influences too for releases on their own CUFF label.
Catching up with the boys as they sit comfy in the New York setting of Sound Off Studios, Amine Edge & DANCE are recording in style. Sly & Robbie, Wu-Tang, Akon, Busta Rhymes and many more have laid down serious beats in this place, and the boys are set to follow. DJ Mag took time to explore the studio set-up of the leading lights of the G house movement.
The rather cool Sound OFF music studios is located at - 40 w 27th street, 7th floor New york, NY 10001
How did you guys get into production and electronic music?
Amine Edge: “I had the classic journey like everyone, nothing special — starting as a DJ, playing all the clubs in my town, then making some productions, signing onto a label, promoting myself on the internet, and then playing outside my town.”
DANCE: “Music has been my passion since I was a child, Amine knew I was passionate about music, so about 10 years ago he advised me to buy a computer and to try to do my own beats. I was listening to hip-hop and R&B all day everyday, so obviously I started to produce these kinds of beats. Producing my own music was such a good feeling. When my hip-hop beats started to get better, I got signed to a French label and started to work with bigger and bigger artists. I have worked with quite a few famous French rappers in the past, but then I decided to make some house music with Amine because it was just so fun, I had no idea big things were going to happen!”
What's your current studio set-up like?
Amine Edge: “It’s very basic, in fact the studio doesn't make you a good producer, your brain is your best equipment. I have a PC that I built myself, it is more powerful than a NASA computer! I have an 828 MKII MOTU soundcard, not the best one but good enough for me, a MOTU Express 128 MIDI hub to control my MIDI hardware, a Moog Voyager, Nord Lead 3, a Tascam US2400 motorized mixer, loads of sound banks and ideas. I have two Yamaha HS80M monitors, very cheap and not bad for the price; if you know how your monitors sound and how your music sounds you don't need the best monitors in the world, but it is good practice to listen to your tracks on many different systems (monitor, headphones, car, club) to check and compare against other tracks that you like and play often.”
DANCE: “Nothing really exciting, just Ableton Live, two or three plugs and one million drum kits and samples. When I travel I use my laptop, and then when I’m home I finish my productions on my PC. I can produce with anything. Even with shitty £10 headphones. Nothing can stop me. I don’t need a lot of stuff, just good ideas. Then for the mix and mastering I use my HS80 Yamaha speakers. I know they're really not the best, but I know them perfectly and I also use my headphones, SONY MDR 7580s.”
What's a typical day in the studio like for you?
Amine Edge: “First it must be at night when everybody is sleeping, no phones, no noise, no sun, that’s what gets me in the mood, I like this feeling, that I feel alone in the world and make music alone. Then I can make some serious shit, I can't make music when it's daytime. It's crazy, I should see a psychiatrist, ha. It can also depend on many things, I can be inspired by a sample that I want to use, or I can go in the studio with no ideas, start to play around with some melodies, and find some interesting sound which goes with the flow.”
DANCE: “I wake up. Drink a coffee. Smoke a cigarette. And then I open Ableton Live. It's like a reflex. I'm like a robot actually. I don't watch TV, I don't cook, I don't do anything. I just produce all day, and I love it. At the end of the afternoon when the track starts to be really good, I open a bottle of wine. Or I drink my favourite alcohol from Marseille, Pastis. Then I go out to see my friends. And the day after, exactly the same. It’s been the same since 2004 when it comes to me working in the studio.”
How do you start a track?
Amine Edge: “Over the years I’ve always started with a hip-hop sample, and then the melodies and stuff all come naturally into my head, and it works well with the drums. Sometimes I have a hole in the brain, so I stop, watch TV or chill and come back to it later when I am refreshed and have more ideas.”
DANCE: “I always start with the drums. Trying to do a sick, 'not boring' loop. Then when they're done, I look for a special sound that nobody has used before. I always do something different. I never re-use the same kits. Normally I have an idea in the morning, because I was thinking about it before sleeping. I’m not lying, I really think about it all day!”
You use a lot of samples in your productions?
Amine Edge: “I used to love some sample packs from Sample Magic or Loopmasters, but we are back on the 909 and 808 tip. 707 can be cool sometimes, but sampling some loops from disco and funk is cool too, sometimes you can find a snare sound in a hip-hop track, so why not use it if you like it? Same for any other songs.”
DANCE: “I love the Lex Luger drum kits. He produced for Rick Ross, Kanye West... It's all about the famous 808 and 909, but better. All the elements are sick. I always make house music with hip-hop samples.”
What software are you using for producing?
Amine Edge: “Ableton Live. I started with Acid when I was younger, then Reason and Ableton for years now. Ableton is amazing, the best I think. Many people say Logic, it’s like this stupid war between pro iPhone and pro Blackberry back in the days. The Ableton team create new technology and make it easier, and they also have the best time warping ever. Also, something that can be done in Ableton in one minute can’t be done as quickly in some of the other software. Time is precious, when you are the producer and you have many ideas at the same time, you can't wait that long.”
DANCE: “I'm just in love with Ableton Live.”
When can we expect an artist album from you guys?
Amine Edge: “We have been thinking about it every day for two years, we’ve hesitated to do anything more than that…”
DANCE: “It takes time to do a proper album and with all the gigs it's really difficult. When we get a break I think we're not going to hesitate anymore...”
Who came up with the term G house?
Amine Edge: “G house was a private joke to say 'Cool, this track is gangsta (cool, amazing), the word gangsta doesn't mean gangsta like how you would normally use it.”
DANCE: “Any house track can be G house for us. Even if there is no hip-hop vocal. A lot of people confuse it. If you really want to know what is G house is, you got to come see us playing in a club.”
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