"It Felt Like A Really Organic Process" Duality Trax Profiled

"It Felt Like A Really Organic Process" Duality Trax Profiled

Holly Lester and Cromie on the exciting Belfast imprint...

When 17th Century French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes identified the concept of dualism in 1641, he was talking about the opposing forces of the body and the mind – the consciousness and the self-conscious. It has since gone on to become an umbrella term for a wide range of concepts, including Dualistic Cosmology – the spiritual belief that two fundamental concepts exist which often oppose each other.

Duality Trax is a new record label – founded by Irish DJ Holly Lester – that seeks to lay down a contemporary, inclusive take on the idea of Duality. As the world continues to evolve and gender minority voices grow louder and more restless, the original idea of duality – in relation to gender- is one of a bygone era.

“I’d wanted to start a label for years, but I wanted a concept that really meant something to me”, says Holly. “I got this idea to start a label focused around the balance in the industry between genders and particularly gender minorities. There has been a lot of conversation around the gender balance in electronic music recently, but I wanted to make it inclusive of absolutely everyone. At the end of the day, most of the people who have helped me in my career are men, so it was important to me that it didn’t focus on one particular gender.”

“It’s so important to support female and non-binary producers and DJs, I know that, I fall into that category, but I think it’s also super important to find a balance.”

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The first release on the label came from Dublin native and Radiant Love regular Fio Fa – with Lisbon based, naïve label head Violet on remixing duties – and the second comes from Zagreb born, LA based producer Cromie, this time with experimental electronic producer rRoxymore providing the edit.

“I sent you a recording of a warehouse party set here in LA for your Limbo radio show in 2019, so it was cool to represent how I would play in a typical setting for me”, says Cromie, appearing via Zoom. “When I was over in London with Liquid Earth, we had a gig on the Friday night at The Cause and I wanted to go to the Bugged Out Weekender the next day to see you play...”

“Taylor [Liquid Earth] had a gig in Bristol that night, so I remember packing up all my bags and heading to this little pub for a while and lugging my suitcase and backpack through the tube to get to Printworks. They were so strict with the bag check, I’ve never been through such strict control. It was like getting through an airport. The guy working cloakroom asked me if I was moving in.”

Cromie’s record itself buys into the idea of duality through its sound. The A-side consists of two deep, bleep-out cuts of high energy, fun dance music, while the B-side consists of what the artist describes as “some stoner LA shit, something you can just zone out too.”

When contemplating what the record might sound like, Holly was super keen to leave the work to the producer, even allowing the releasee to choose who they would like on the remix.

“I reach out to these artists for a reason – because I love their music – so I know they’re always going to do a great job”, says Holly. Cromie reaffirms, “Yeah, it felt like a really organic process. A lot of my releases are with friends or people I know, so it was cool to get to know Holly a little bit better through it which culminated in us eventually meeting each other properly in London and having a few drinks. It really reaffirmed how excited I was to be working with her on this record.”

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Coming across an old Cromie interview from 2016, I’m keen to learn about what influences the artists aesthetic. In this interview, he details coming across an old Kode9 mix from 2006 and how that led to him developing an interest in the cultural movement and golden era of UK dubstep.

“I was just going into college and my whole world was opening up, so that was exciting”, he says. “I was into a lot of hip hop at the time and dubstep felt like it was at a similar tempo with all these new features that I was hearing for the first time.”

“For this EP, a lot of it was influenced from going to Berlin and hearing the sounds that Taylor took on and came into over the last three or four years – a little more tech, but definitely still keeping the funk in those basslines. Simple ideas that work well to make people have fun and make people happy in the club.”

“I like it when it’s a little cheeky and a little funny. I’m a huge fan of regularfantasy and a lot of those Vancouver and Montreal crews. They always have a little bit of fun in their music. I can’t stand when DJs stand around looking all serious for two hours like they’re solving cancer or whatever. I think that comes across in the EP, the A side tracks are bumping and they’ve got some whacky samples in there.”

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As rhythms and textures bounce transatlantically between Europe, Canada and the U.S, it begs the question as to what might happen to the LA scene that Cromie calls home post-lockdown. With most of LA’s underground community partying in warehouses – “all you need is a good soundsystem and hope that the cops don’t show up” – Cromie is certain that the scene will get back on its feet, despite a lack of support from the government.

“When it comes back I think it’ll pop up”, he says. “We still have a lack of venues where you would want to be week in week out which support grassroots DJs. I think it’s going to be even more lenient in terms of the police and everything. People in LA love to party and love to be out, so I think it’ll be fine.”

With regards to the label, Holly Lester is not resting on her laurels.

“I’m currently working on the third and fourth potential releases,” she tells me. “They’re Irish artists, I can say that. I’m really keen to represent Irish talent so it’s cool to be working with them and hopefully we can get something confirmed soon.”

“I’m hoping to start having a more collaborative side to the label in the future. I think that would also be a really good way for female or non-binary artists to find their feet and their confidence; having them work together with another producer. That’s something for the future.”

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Words: Andrew Moore
Photo Credit: Louis Reynolds

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