A Sides and Makoto: Aquarian Dreams
‘We wanted to create something that you can sit down and play without skipping a track’
The fact that A Sides and Makoto have joined forces will cause any fans of killer, inventive liquid funk to cheer loudly. There’s Eastside boss A Sides: the force with Fats behind ‘What U Don’t Know’. Makoto: the mastermind behind ‘Golden Girl’… and these classics – bona fide, stone cold classics – are of course the tip of their respective icebergs. They’ve now culminated in the form of the stunning 15 track tapestry known as Aquarian Dreams which features some global cameos ranging from Robert Manos to Riya to Ena and more… plus did we mention the Marky remix?
We got the lowdown on how it all came together rather sharpish…
Hi! Very much love this album and there’s a feeling it was easy to work together on this as you’re respectively such masters! So when did work start?
Thank you, we are glad you enjoyed the album! We enjoyed making it too! We have spent a lot of time working together up to this date and it’s normally easy for us to work together as we both respect each others’ abilities and boundaries in the studio and that is important when working on collaborations together.
Trying to let each other’s styles come through individually and to capture each other’s sounds.
We were able to relax and enjoy the making of this album. We have two sets of ears that have both been making D&B for a long time so our judgements towards each other are normally always on point whereas working solo sometimes you can get lost in what you are doing.
The album has been a three year process since we started working on this project in May 2012 and to start with it was not going to be an album project.
Tell us more?
We had some time when we were both in the UK at the same time and we were both able to get into the studio where we managed to lay down the foundations for four tracks: ‘Articulate’, ‘Simplicity’, ‘Uplifter and ‘Searching’ and from there we decided it would be nice to do a joint album.
So now three years and 15 tracks later: mission accomplished!
And it was done where exactly?
The album has been written between London and Tokyo with A Sides & Makoto working at A Sides’ studio in London and Makoto’s studio in Tokyo and also doing some collaborations online.
I note R Manos on ‘Jupiter’ which is a brilliant inclusion. What. A. Tune.
Indeed. Robert Manos was amazing to work with and he did an amazing job with ‘Jupiter’. We know Robert from SunAndBass and from his work with Seba and Paradox. We’ve always been into his style and voice.
We wanted to work with vocalists we have not really worked with before so Robert was a perfect fit. After we made a demo of ‘Jupiter’ we sent over to him and he had the main vocal recorded for us. After that is was pretty much a case of him recording some ad libs and the rest fell into place. Robert is very good to work with. Very responsive, very professional and a very nice guy.
Tell us about the other vocalists here. How did they come about to be part of it.
We have always loved Riya’s voice and the projects that she has been working on and we managed to catch her at DJ Marky’s night at SunAndBass last year where she was singing over ‘Searchin’’ so we thought it would be good to have her do a vocal version as ‘Searchin’’ was a big track. But afterwards we decided it would be nice to have Riya have her own track for the album.
So we made an instrumental version of ‘Where Do We Go’ and then sent to Riya and she loved the track. She sent us a demo which we loved then she went into the studio and recorded the vocals for us.
And Spikey Tee?
We loved Spikey Tee’s voice as he had already featured on ‘Reminisce’ which was on A Sides last album Revisited. We asked him if he would like to be part of the album project and he obliged. Spikey has that certain ‘soulful lovers rock’ voice and we had to have someone sit in for Al Green so he was the perfect fit.
He gave ‘Simplicity’ a nice flip for us. That track was made in London. Vocals recorded in Sydney and then finished in Tokyo!
Also we must not forget Samurai Horo artist Ena for his guitar work on ‘Simplicity’. Pure genius!
Finally there is Tali. A very skillful and highly respect MC and vocalist who’s worked with everyone from Roni Size to Dillinja. She is a good friend of A Sides so when he was in New Zealand earlier this year he visited her with the demo for ‘Back In Your Arms’ and she was happy to get involved with the project.
Tali has an amazing vocal range, great diversity and killer harmonies. We love what she did to ‘Back In Your Arms’.
Took it to another level!
With tunes like ‘Night Flight’, you instantly become aware of the array of sounds you guys love and use, so much a fabric of your styles too, these sounds… so would you say that this album is a culmination of your history in the music?
‘Night Flight’ was a special one and we went through many changes before we reached a version that we were both finally happy with. I would say it’s a perfect combination of our styles blended together with A Sides beats and bass and Makoto’s soulful textures however many tunes on the album demonstrate this.
We would like to say that we have tried to apply some of our history and influences into every single track featured on the album but also given them our own unique twist.
‘Resistance’ is very much a ‘classic’ liquid, soul tune, can you take us through it?
This track actually started out as a loop from an old funk track which we then remade and used as a backbone to build from. We wanted to keep this one as authentic and analogue sounding as possible and Makoto has a lovely collection of vintage synths at his disposal – though not on this particular track – plus we both have some plugins too that emulate vintage synths very nicely. Hopefully we captured some of the old Detroit vibe here too hence the name Resistance as a tribute to Underground Resistance.
‘You Sexy Beast’ sounds as if inspired by the amazing Brazil scene, is that the case? Just my guess…
Funny enough ‘You Sexy Beast’ does have a Brazilian sound to it but the main influence came from a song from an American rock band called The Crykle and there track does have a Brazilian vibe to it as well. Really we made this tune for DJ Marky as we knew he loved the original track too and the name ‘You Sexy Beast’ came after the A Sides studio coffee cup which is made by Jamie Oliver and has the name Sexy Beast written on it.
Coffee and studio is a good combination.
… speaking of Brazil, I note the Marky remix here, can you tell us more? STORMING remeix.
Yes! He wanted to remix ‘Searchin’’ as it’s one of his favorite tracks and he has been supporting it since we made the original version three years ago.
In the remix Marky has kept most of the musical elements the same but has given the beats an update and updated the bass sound so now it’s a little bit more harder, a little bit more stripped down and better for the dance floor. Simple things and big up Marky for the remix.
‘Breathe’ and ‘Hurt My Soul’ are so shockingly good and direct, wow…
‘Breathe’ is another one of those tracks that took a turn into something completely different than what it started out to be.
We wanted to create something simple and effective yet heavy for the dance floor that had a harder distorted bassline, A track that moves nicely and is fun to mix with hence the rolling beats and something that stepped outside of the soulful D&B genre.
‘Hurt My Soul’ was our tribute to the Jacksons and is inspired by a track called ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. Makoto created the original version in 2008 where it slept on his hard drive for six years until A Sides rediscovered it and gave the drums a rework bringing the track up to date. It’s a trip back down memory lane: it’s all about fun and good vibes and it displays Makoto’s musical ability and skill very generously.
We’ve been receiving a lot of support on this track from a wide range of DJs and this was also selected by Hospital Records to be included on their upcoming Fred V & Grafix mixtape.
What about that album title? And how would you sum it all up?
Aquarian Dreams will be released on our own label Eastern Elements.
We put our heart and soul into Aquarian Dreams and the album name came about due to A Sides & Makoto both being Aquarians.
We wanted to create something that you can sit down and play without skipping a track. A musical journey so to speak that represents both of our musical background and styles: where we are from, where we are at and where we are going.
The album will see full release from all good download stores on July 13 and we also have a deluxe edition which will be available exclusively from our Bandcamp page from June 29.
We are also doing a vinyl fundraiser campaign for a limited edition double vinyl LP. If you would like to make a pledge the link can be found here
The album single ‘Searchin’’ is now available for download from iTunes or from our Bandcamp page.
Also feel free to stop by our website for any album or tour related info, at asides-makoto.com
Will we see you live soon? Are you going to go B2B?
Plans are being made for the Aquarian Dreams tour. There is a chance that some of the sets will be b2b depending on the promoters needs. We will be taking bookings for Europe in Sep – Oct 2015.
We’d like to thank everyone involved in the album. Shouts to Robert Manos, Spikey Tee, Tali and Riya for the amazing vocal contributions. Thanks to Ena for the guitar work and for bringing the funk! Thanks to Hiro for the artwork and design. Thanks to Beau at 1087 for the mastering. Thanks to all at Cygnus for the PR. Thanks to Gram agency and Bassdrive Bookings for the tour management. Thanks to qrates for the vinyl fundraiser.
Thanks to all our friends, family and supporters.
Aquarian Dreams minimix