Tell us a little bit about yourself and how Botnek got started?
E: Ehhhhyooo Its Erick: I’ve been making electronic music since about the age of 12. I’ve run the gamut making/listening to all kinds of electronic music! It really wasn’t until I heard progressive breaks acts like Hybrid that I are really delved deep into sound design and more nuanced atmospheric elements in dance music. I absolutely loved the cheesiest of trance music but then also the deepest IDM acts. You can like more than one genre :). Botnek got started when we met at a party in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Neither of us really knew anyone else in the city that made electronic music so we naturally just started exchanging ideas and went from there! Botnek officially started when G and I collaborated on a remix for Felix Cartal. The track was ‘Skeleton’ and I highly suggest you listen to it right now hahah!
G: Damn I can’t believe that was almost a decade ago. Ya we used to meet up after work and drink beers, click around in Ableton and listen to music from blogs. Before I met E, I was just starting to learn Ableton after making poppy synth funky italo disco kinda house music with some synths and an MPC. We won that remix competition shortly after we started hanging out and I don’t even know we had a name for the project when they told us we won. It was like “oh shit, well I guess we shouldn’t just call it Erick & Gordon”
What was the point that you guys decided you wanted to steer off course and go for a more underground sound?
E: I think of our new releases as more of going back to our roots. We steered off course for a number of years because we really didn’t know what we were doing musically. We saw the ability to get shows, we saw money coming in, and we were both desperate to not work our day jobs. I’m not ashamed to say we went a route that can be seen now as “selling out”. What ended up happening is we really felt uninspired. Makes sense right? If you’re not inspired, what you’re making will more than likely be crud. We came to a realization that we both didn’t want to do this anymore. I was living in Seattle and going to a lot of house music shows. I have a lot of friends in the scene there and it was really damn exciting to listen to music and see djs playing amazing music; not putting on an edm extravaganza yelling at the audience and playing 10m long mashups lmao. I got really excited to make weirdo music again (see Botnek – Plonk!).
G: I wouldn’t really say “selling out” so much as opportunistic. All the way up north in little Halifax, Nova Scotia we signed a deal with Dim Mak for a bunch of records, and Dim Mak to us meant Bloody Beetroots and MSTRKRFT, not Chainsmokers and throwing cakes. But it was fine. It was our opportunity to quit our jobs and tour. In those years we went from total amateurs to at least starting to know how to make music professionally and how to DJ. I have some regrets, mostly that I think we outgrew the EDM sound and scene a long time before we admitted it to ourselves or our fans. That was the time when we started to feel a bit lost and not nearly as inspired as when we started the project. It wasn’t until this year we finally got comfortable with at least trying to do something different and more honest.
Is there a particular feeling you have about the music landscape right now? What has changed since you first got into the game?
E: I’d say the landscape is really similar to when we started in the sense that although the people and music have changed, the underlying enthusiasm has been consistent. I think it’s just so much easier to connect with like minded people because of the internet (so cliche to say this I know). 🙂
G: Haha well while Erick is dating a lot of DJs on the internet, I agree that now’s a weird, but cool time in electronic music. People just don’t give a fuck right now. What’s popular is out. At least I’m seeing the people winning are the ones embracing their own voice.
Since we started this project, in the popular “above ground” scene we’ve seen several trends come and go. It was Blog House, then Electro House, that switched to Dubstep. Then Skrillex came along, then Swedish House Mafia came along, then trap happened, then Chainsmokers. Blah Blah Blah. But now its like after years of half time bass music, or “1 2 3 Jump”, Fisher is nominated for a Grammy. People are hearing dance music again in what feels like a “post EDM” phase of electronic music. Ya the popular sound has changed drastically over the last few years, but my point is, like us, people are discovering their own tastes now, they’re digging a little deeper. I’m meeting producers that don’t give a shit about whats popular now and wanna do their own thing, and I’m stoked because I think that’s what we originally set out to do.
Let’s talk studio. What’s a plugin(s) you cannot live without. How about hardware?
E: I love my suite of U-He products honestly. Omnisphere is a must have as well! I also use a lot of max4live plugins in Ableton10. I haven’t purchased any hardware yet sadly. That’s for 2019 🙂
G: I’ve inherited, or own, some toys. I mean, I’ve got this shiny Moog sitting in arms reach whenever I’m making music, and I just bought this thing called a Tensor that’s made by Red Panda I’m stoked to try out, but I’m usually just opening Serum like everyone else. I need to one day get somewhere nearly as good at u-he Diva and Repro as Erick. But I don’t really use much, even in terms of mixing. Just FabFilter ProQ on everything, Pultech EQs, some LA2A emulation… that’s it!
What do you have coming up in the pipeline?
E: SO MUCH MUSIC! I have a few side projects I’ve been working on the last few years that are finally started to get near some semblance of a finished state. As for Botnek, we’ve been working with a much more focused trajectory, focusing on our Label, radio show, and having a lot of fun making music. We’re actually excited to show people our music again 🙂
G: It’s true! We made a conscious decision this year to just be laser focused on moving Botnek away from the main stage sounds I mentioned earlier, and more towards the music we actually pay attention to lately. So that means we’re sitting on a pile of demos, and making tunes with a sense of natural excitement. That vs comparing what we made to what everyone else was releasing and trying to make what “works”. It’s all very groovy, with a bit of our usual tongue-in-cheek quirkiness. We’re trying to slowly really dig into our original influences again.
Alongside our own stuff, the radio show and the label are growing faster than we ever expected. Lots of exciting releases coming out on the label from those young producers I mentioned before, all leading up to Miami WMC next year. So stay tuned!