As I was prepping for my interview with The Aston Shuffle on Sunday morning before Sets on the Beach, I was having breakfast with my dad who was reading the newspaper. I said, “Sorry dad I’m just going to put on some house music.” His response, “That’s alright. We are at home aren’t we.” That my friends, is my dad! He is the absolute best. When I told Mikah and Vance of The Aston Shuffle this they burst into laughter, tickled pink at my dad’s humour.
Our conversation had many a laugh but also many a serious moment. Oh and a job ad. Even though Vance lives in New York and Mikah is still in Canberra, of which he says is the New York of Australia lol, this duo very much has it together. Respect boys.
If I’m not mistaken Vance this is the first time you’ve been back home in a year! What was the first thing you did?
Vance: Went to the Apple Store [laughs]. Of all places! I gave my parents a kiss a and a hug then went to the Apple Store.
What did you buy?
Vance: My phone didn’t work. For some reason it was locked to AT&T when it shouldn’t have been and the only solution was to buy a new phone, wait for my existing one to unlock and then return the new one to Apple.
Canberra is producing some hella good talent at the moment. There’s you guys, SAFIA, Peking Duk.
Mikah: There’s a whole bunch of cool stuff happening. I think in today’s musical climate it doesn’t matter where you’re from. If you’ve got a decent Internet connection and you’re making good music, chances are people will gravitate towards you.
Electronic music is going gangbusters right now. What are your thoughts on the progression of it all?
Mikah: Dance music has just become pop music. I think when we were coming up and learning to write records and DJing it was very underground and only involved people who knew about the scene.
Vance: The points of access were record stores, knowing the promoters and those going to the parties. You could live in a town and not know about an entire scene cause you weren’t connected to anything physical about it, but now social media…
Mikah: It’s served to you on a platter.
Vance: When it comes to making music the tools are cheap. Computers are cheap and extremely powerful and Ableton is plentiful. The churn rate of genres and what is popular is now quite high, but overall making it easier for people to make music is probably a good thing.
Mikah: Totally. The good certainly outweighs the bad.
I love the Only 100s that you just brought out. What a genius idea!
Mikah: We are the filter for you basically. Let us be your new music monthly.
Vance: It’s too hard to make it a countdown per say. It’s hard enough to come up with an hour worth. They’re all equal first tracks.
Have you guys got your eyes on any up and comers? Anyone you’re excited about seeing take it to the next level?
Mikah: We’re fortunate enough to work with a bunch of up and coming people, mentoring them. There’s a rapper in Canberra called Turquoise Prince, he’s very unique, amazingly talented and really out there. There are some dope producers in Brisbane like Jordan Burns, Young Jalapeno and Noi. In Canberra there’s a sick dude called Sun Rio who’s doing really dope house music. They’re just popping up left right and centre. That’s the thing as well. It’s so hard to keep your finger on the pulse. I’d like to think we’ve got our finger on the pulse given that’s our job with the radio but sometimes you’re like how am I missing this. We had to hunt for music but now it’s just there.
Vance: It can be broadcast like that but sometimes you may not be tuned to the right channel.
Mikah: I just need an intern man to filter through.
Vance: Is this you advertising for an intern [laughs]?
Mikah: I’m making job applications for interns at the moment. I can’t pay you but if you want great experience…
I’d love to get your thoughts on the Keep Sydney Open campaign.
Vance: My personal opinion on this is that it’s a political problem and it needs a political solution. Unfortunately it seems like the only part of the licensed venue that has a big political voice is the Australian Hotels Association, which represents pokie venues mostly. I think it’s been awesome to see the Keep Sydney Open movement come together and come out of nothing into a genuine grass roots movement though; it has visibility, it has a profile, it has a voice, but the step that’s gotta be taken is lobbying government directly and I hope that’s the next step with it. To the movement, they only see music venues as just anther place that serves alcohol and is indistinguishable from any other place that serves alcohol. They’re trying to regulate everything with the same brush where venues that act and serve as a cultural purpose that happen to also sell alcohol are getting screwed when their particular niche is not represented properly. Hopefully the scene and venues will suffer less over time.
Mikah: As artists who did our apprenticeships in Sydney clubs it’s really disheartening. I did a show there earlier in the year and my hotel was in Kings Cross and walking through there at 12:30am, it was an absolute ghost town. We’d walk out of nightclubs at 6:30am and it’d still be buzzing with atmosphere. I felt so safe but it’s disheartening to see how these terrible incidents have really tarnished a beautiful and cultural movement.
Vance: The lesson is: Kings Cross will never come back. We had it really good for a long time thinking there would never be a political shift in opinion from letting this exist.
We’re heading into 2017. Have you guys got any personal New Year’s resolutions or any for The Aston Shuffle?
Mikah: We just want to keep putting out dope records, or what we think are dope at least, keep playing at parties like this. I think this is the fourth time we’ve played at this and it’s seriously a party we hold dearly to our hearts; an Aussie highlight for sure. We’ll keep doing the radio next year, ‘Only 100s’, lots more touring overseas and here, working with amazing artists and talking to wonderful people. This year’s been a great year so just continuing The Aston Shuffle message.
Photo credit: Corey Harrison