It's 3pm in Barcelona and much of the city is exercising its right to take some traditional daytime downtime. However, Venezuelan duo Fur Coat are also exercising their right not to partake of this somewhat old-fashioned practice. Instead they're “up to no good” in the studio, putting some finishing touches to their particular brand of beautifully deep, tripped-out, heart-rate pumping electronica.
Despite the fact that they made the choice to move to the Spanish city over three years ago, siesta time isn't exactly Sergio Murnoz and Israel Sunshine's thing.
“No siesta, only fiesta!” Sergio laughs.
“It's kind of annoying for us, the siesta thing. It's a crazy thing that happens only here. But yeah we love the city and we love the people, we're not complaining, but it's something that you have to get adjusted to.”
And there was us thinking it was also a South American way of life. It actually turns out that it's mostly a Spanish thing, because with Venezuela being so close to the States the country has adopted the 24/7 lifestyle. “Everyone does it here,” Israel agrees,
“but not us. During siesta time we have to work.”
A MATTER OF BALANCE
Our conversation immediately gravitates to their forthcoming 'Balance' mix CD, due for release at the end of this month. “We're really happy with it, I think it's going to expose the core of us,” Sergio begins. “Probably most days you get known as a producer, but we've been DJing for years. Israel has for maybe 20 years and I have for nearly 15, or something like that.”
There's little doubt that between them they have earned their badges of honour and merit in services to the dancefloor, having played separately and then together, going back-to-back, before their Fur Coat entity was born just over four years ago.
A bountiful knowledge of both vinyl and digital has allowed them to bring the two together in setting up selections for the legendary compilation series.
“It has that little bit of everything, some old tracks that we like, some new stuff. We want to do something fresh, we try to bring upcoming music, nice stuff from many producers and DJs.” Sergio, the chattier of the two continues. “We wanted to make a trip that you can enjoy, put it in the car, put it in your home and even put it [on] for the after-party when you go back home from the club. Just a nice trip for you to have on a mix CD.”
Was it difficult to pare down all their choices for the one mix that will then be seemingly frozen in time? “With just one CD it's not easy, but it's good. I like it when it's in one. And for me one that changed my life was Sasha's 'Fundacion',” Sergio ponders.
“For me that's really inspiring because from that time it was a breath of fresh air, it's so well-mixed, great evolution, it has a lot of senses in it, it's not that progressive, it's that vibe like when James Holden had that metallic sound. Really interesting tracks, trippy and into techno, something different.”
Not wanting to compare themselves with previous 'Balance' hosts, the pair concede that they're open as to how the mix is going to work for them, and keener still to point out that it's their wealth of experience that's brought them to this point, suggestive of the fact that many producers and DJs are arriving on the scene without having already paid their DJ dues. Is that important to them?
“Well maybe for the audience nowadays they don't care about it, but for us, well, we have the background. We have some knowledge of where the music has come from,” Israel continues.
When talk turns to a recent, stop-in-your-tracks, eclectic mix that they put together for Day Zero in Mexico, it's clear that an upbringing peppered with the music of Minnie Riperton, Barry White and the Isley Brothers has played its part in their wealth of experience and DJ know-how. “My dad used to be a DJ, just for passion. I'm living his dream,” Sergio tells us. And what about Israel's massive collection of vinyl?
Prior to moving to Barcelona he did have to sell some of it, and of course regrets it. So out of all of the ones that he kept, which one would he never ever sell? “Peace Division's 'Be U 4t'. It's a classic. I'm still playing it, it's one of my favourite tracks ever.”
Keeping vinyl alive is also something high on their list of topics for debate, and the ability to mix the format must surely in turn give them a headstart on the influx of burgeoning upstarts? “I think there was an era when you could get known as a DJ. I think probably Carl Cox is a good example, or Danny Tenaglia or whatever. They are already big names by being known as DJs more than as producers,” Sergio mulls over the idea.
“Nowadays there's a lot of producers who are really good at producing, but they are not good DJs.”
As far as DJ Mag is concerned, putting out a mix online that fuses together the likes of Bill Withers's 'Lovely Day' with snatches of salsa and dictaphone track 'Moondog Monologue', is a brave move. It's the stuff of greatness. “Thank you.
It was an opportunity to do something out of the box that people didn't expect from us. Although it's not a perfect mix, cos it's not the same beats and it's not four by four. You can see the wide range of things that influence us,” says Sergio.
His personal favourite being opener track Kool and the Gang's 'Summer Madness' which takes him back to repeated listens on road trips as a kid. “I think it's something that my dad did in my brain.” And the support they've had from Damian Lazarus and fellow Crosstown Rebels has allowed them a chance to really express themselves. “We're risk takers. We did it from the heart and from what we are.”
DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY
It's the tail-end of February and the duo are orbiting around the studio that they have based in Sergio's apartment; working on remixes for Watergate, Bpitch Control and a Stephan Bodzin track for Systematic.
Coming from a country that has “eternal sunshine”, one wonders if living in Europe with its four seasons is having an effect on their sound? “Yeah probably, we come from the school of house and techno, obviously you evolve your sound,” Sergio explains of their journey through minimal and beyond.
“Probably our sound now is techier and trippier at the same time, it sounds like a clash but something is happening right now, you know?”
Miami is on the horizon and there's much to be done in preparation for the trip. “We're very familiar with Miami, when we go there it's like going home. Our second home, if it's not our first home,” Israel points out.
With it being practically a hop, skip and jump away from Venezuela (well 12 hours' flight time, but that's not much in the grand scheme of things), they have a “tight thing” there, with extended family members and friends ready to join them. “We have gained a lot of followers and supporters on the Miami scene, we do three or four times a year there. It's a really good vibe for us.”
Fur Coat have success on the global underground circuit tucked under their belts, with their skills to play the kind of mind-tingling, exciting and edgy “space funk” that just makes us want to jump into a club and go crazy.
But how do they sustain that momentum and would they ever succumb to any pressure to play it more commercial? “I think there are ways to handle a dancefloor without falling into throwing a bomb. Getting people into your pocket as we say, and doing with them whatever you want. There's a way to get people interested in something, and when you have them you can go anywhere you want with them.
Obviously we're DJs and people want to have a fun night and it's their time to enjoy, it's not about being an asshole and putting on what you want. When you're DJing all these years, you have the tools and ways of doing things the right way.
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