Deep State’s inaugural ‘Reactor’ assembles new wave of progressive luminaries [Interview]
When Grum finally drew back the curtain on his long-awaited sophomore album, Deep State, in November 2019, he inevitably set in motion the coming of a new age. The full-length record both cemented the progressive prowess of the Glasglow ambassador, following his metamorphosis from the punchy Heartbeats debut into the development of deeper, analog sounds nearly ten years later, and opened the doorway to the label launch of Deep State Recordings. After minting the career milestone with a special Heartbeats: Ten re-release, Grum has sharpened his curatorial profile with another definitive occasion: Deep State’s inaugural Reactor: Vol. 1.
The first-ever artist compilation series welcomes 13 hand-selected cuts from a group of burgeoning acts, inducting Artüria, Local Dialect, Pete K, Dysnomia, KANE, OMAIR, and more into the Deep State family. Kicked off with a four-hour Insomniac Dreamstate-hosted live stream, the Reactor premiere showcases a nuanced range of progressive house in its club-oriented, underground flesh.
Dancing Astronaut spoke to Grum about the motivation behind Reactor and opened the conversation up to featured compilation acts. Celebrating a diversity of inspirations and backgrounds leading up to respective Deep State appearances, the roundtable feature spotlights the convergence of several producers’ into a common sonic thread.
Stream Reactor: Vol. 1 and read the full roundtable interview below.
What is the uniting vision behind Deep State Recordings?
Grum: “I don’t think this has really truly been defined yet. My goal has always been to go with music that is exciting to me, and that I might want to play in my sets, and this has carried us along so far. I think in a year’s time I can look back on all the music we’ve put out and it’ll be a bit easier to define what that sound is.”
What did you look for in your curatorial process for this compilation?
Grum: “The idea was to bring together a load of up and coming artists I’m a fan of who are making this progressive sound, and showcase their talent under the Deep State umbrella. For when events come back, we also now have an extended roster of label artists and friends from all over the world…Bring on 2021.”
What is Deep State Recordings to you?
Artüria: “Deep State Recordings, is not just a label to me its a home, its a family that is taken care of my music is the best possible way an artist can ask for.”
Local Dialect: “Deep State is on the forefront of the progressive sound that we love, and for us it’s a label that is a home for the clubbier side of our sound. We’re very grateful to Grum for the opportunities he’s given us! We’ve been huge fans of his for years, and it’s a dream come true to work with someone we’ve looked up to for so long.”
Midge: “For me Deep State is something I am very proud of being a part of. I have personally been a fan of Grum’s music for many years so as soon as I got wind of him starting his own label, I made it a goal of mine to get on there. Not only does the label put out incredible music, but it feels like the guys are building up a little family and following for the label. It’s exciting to see how much the label has grown in such a small time!”
Pete K: “I think it’s progressive, it’s dark and it’s forward thinking music.”
Dysnomia: “To me, Deep State is pushing the boundaries of progressive music, encompassing a diverse range of sounds that address the growing progressive music scene.”
Galatea: “First of all, Deep State is a brand and it’s an honour for us to be a part of the label. Secondly, it is a unique and high quality sound. Deep and enchanting.”
KANE: “Deep State represents the more underground and true sound of Progressive House—that perfect hybrid of techno, house, and trance. It’s a place for artists who sit just left of the mainstream sound to be themselves.”
Matt Gouck: “It’s a label I really respect, especially as it’s Grums label, someone that I have followed very closely over the years. I also really like how the label seems to focus on up and coming talent within the industry.”
How have you come to cultivate your sound, specifically for your Reactor Vol. 1 appearance?
Artüria: “I’ve followed Grum and Deep State for sometime now and knew that a record created for the label had to be something big, so I kept to my sound but adjusted the main lead to be right in the mix of the Deep State way.”
Local Dialect: “We use a small collection of hardware synths as our primary sound sources. We find these to be much more inspiring than using software tools, and the performance and recording process is a huge part of our style. We try to work quickly when composing, leaving room for mistakes and imperfections that add a unique character to each of our tracks.
For Nyx, we used our Moog Sub 37 as the bass and the DSI Prophet 6 for the lead sound. As we envisioned it being a darker, more club-oriented track, we held back a bit on the modulation to leave room for the atmosphere and groove to breathe. The result is a more expansive, spacious feel than most of our other work, which we think works quite nicely as part of the Reactor compilation.”
Midge: “I will be honest, I am a little bipolar when it comes to making music!! I enjoy making music when there is no formula and I just make whatever feels right in the moment. I just love so much different types of music so I often create various genres, but the main stuff I release tends to lean towards progressive house or the deeper side of progressive. I am aware that the Deep State sound leans towards the club focused progressive house—the banging stuff, maybe with a few trance elements in there so when I made ‘Transcend’ I instantly thought of Deep State and fortunately the guys liked it!”
Pete K: “I wasn’t thinking about anything specific when I started writing ‘Kenopsia.’ But as soon as I finished it I immediately felt like it was right for Deep State. I’m happy it fits so well in the comp!”
Dysnomia: “‘You Were The One’ takes on a darker and more analogue sound, which is a theme across the Reactor Compilation. This is something I was trying to achieve with the track from the start and caters to the sound Deep State is pushing out.”
Galatea: “We’ve been making music since 2010 and our tracks always had some deep and dark vibe. We’ve always loved to experiment with different genres and at different times our tracks had an impact from progressive house, progressive trance, and tech trance, and also techno. The idea of creating a track for Deep State was to combine those styles in one, while giving the track a special touch.”
KANE: “I’ve been making music for 10 years now, and my styles and influences have evolved dramatically since I first started. I’m involved in other scenes, and make it my number one priority to ensure I take influence from my other projects to create a unique sound that is my own. For this release in particular, it was really just a happy accident that started as a jam with gear and evolved into something a bit nostalgic, but with an edge.”
Matt Gouck: “I have been working on my music and crafting my own sound for years, for me it’s always about the melody. I did my usual style and thankful it was in-line with the type of music Grum likes and wanted for the album so I’d like to thank representatives for believing in my sound and having me on Reactor: Vol. 1.”
What have been your primary influences as an artist?
Artüria: “My influences are the likes of: Jeremy Olander, Fehrplay & Camelphat to name a few. Watching these guys take the listener on that journey is a special treat to have, and to be able to do this is incredibly good. So yeah these guys are certainly influences for me.”
Local Dialect: “We take inspiration from a lot of different genres, or ‘musical languages,’ both electronic and non-electronic. Of course Grum and the Anjunabeats/Anjunadeep sound was a big part of what got us started on our journey, and artists like Andrew Bayer and Lane 8 sparked our first love of progressive and deep house. At the same time, folks like Stephan Bodzin and Township Rebellion have been breaking boundaries on the melodic techno side, and both artists speak deeply to us. Apart from that, we also listen to a lot of R&B, hip-hop, indie rock, and a bit of classical to keep things fresh. We also take inspiration from the feeling of togetherness that comes from attending a club night or festival, and we hope that energy shines through in our music.”
Sokkary: “I remember the shock, a happy one when I saw that Grum downloaded my track from the soundcloud link I’ve sent him and messaging me back that he wants to sign it. Felt too good to be true. For ‘The Cave,’ for me the track is very heavily techno inspired. A lot of those dark grungy elements make the track interesting. I make many different styles of music and been heavily into techno and melodic techno lately which played a big part of the formation of ‘The Cave.’ Things played out for me since around the time of signing, Grum released ‘The Light’ which was #1 on the techno charts. I remember checking Deepstate’s releases and I said to myself ‘that’s definitely the one, I just hope they like the track.’ I’m just very happy to be part of all this and to be working alongside the great people behind this label and hopefully this marks the beginning of a great journey with them. My influences actually keep changing from time to another but I admire Skrillex and Calvin Harris a lot. They just turn whatever they touch into gold.”
Midge: “I tend to take influence from certain labels and artists. I have many influences when it comes to artists I admire: Eric Prydz, Grum, Cristoph, Sasha, Above & Beyond…….I could write you a list longer than my arm but what really inspires me is when I see artists who really make time for their fans and for smaller artists. Take Cristoph for example, the bloke always takes time out of his day to engage with his fans as if they are his mates and always gives smaller producers a platform and feedback—seeing someone on that level carry themselves like that definitely influences me as an artist!”
Pete K: “Deadmau5 was definitely the one who made me jump into music production first. I was and still am a big fan of tracks like ‘Faxing Berlin’ and ‘I Remember.’ Then it was Eric Prydz a bit later, with his Eric Prydz Presents Pryda Album.”
Dysnomia: “My influence as an artist stems heavily from early dance and rock music, including classic trance, techno, house and metal. Artists such as Eric Prydz, Ferry Corsten and even more recently, Porter Robinson and Yotto have been a great influence on my sound. My appreciation for a wide variety of music has enabled me to develop a diverse foundation of music understanding which I believe is key to progressing as an artist whilst not limiting yourself to one genre.”
Galatea: “There were many DJs and producers who influenced us. And we still find the new names who make us to change something in our music. But the main influence to make music and keep doing that has always been the desire to leave the legacy. The fact, that the music is endless has the biggest influence for us.”
KANE: “As I mentioned previously, I have multiple aliases ranging from industrial techno to new wave/punk. As such, I take massive influences from bands and artists like Depeche Mode, Hatebreed, Boy Harsher, Perc, Tears For Fears, and countless others. I think it’s crucial to listen to music that’s outside of what you make, because otherwise you end up running the risk of sounding like everyone else around you.”
Matt Gouck: “Growing up in Northern Ireland the music scene is pretty much dominated with trance, which makes it hard for a progressive producer and DJ. I kind of knew early on that I would have to go further a field to get recognition in the prog scene. For me I like taking people on a journey and I like to think that I do that with my music and my sets. The main artists I look up to are Eric Prydz, Jeremy Olander and Grum, these guys are pioneers of the melodic progressive sound that I love.”
Featured image: Insomniac Events