For this week’s edition of Global Vibe Radio we welcome Octopus Recordings’ rising star Juheun.
The techno producer, DJ and live performer, has been making waves in recent years thanks to a hard work ethic in the studio and a touring schedule that has seen him introduce his brand of minimal techno and intriguing basslines to dance floors all around the world. Although not new to the electronic music industry, more recently Juheun has been pushing the boundaries of his own productions and performances by integrating the newest technology and hardware into his sets, creating a dynamic and engaging experience set to his futuristic soundtrack.
With a strong passion for analog gear and the latest music-producing hardware on the market, Juheun spends a lot of time in the studio constantly honing his skills and cultivating an ever-changing sound that stays ahead of the game. His professional outlook to music production and live performance have made him an Octopus Recordings mainstay, his hard work rewarded with EP releases and label showcase performances under the wing of imprint boss Sian.
We talked to Juheun in honor of his guest mix for Global Vibe Radio Episode 052. Take a listen to the mix and enjoy the interview below:
Where and how did you get your start in techno?
When I was younger I was introduced to electronic music kind of accidentally. I would spend hours downloading music from the web when I was in grade school, eventually going down a rabbit hole of sorts trying to find more music from certain remixers that would get mixed in with the stuff I was searching for. This would lead me down to discover a bunch of DJ’s who I didn’t even know existed at the time. Guys like Sasha and Digweed, etc… I would end up downloading these really large files that I thought were just better quality, but come to find out they were live recordings from some random country I’d never heard of or been to. Eventually this led me to seek out places where I could hear this music, which naturally led me to underground warehouse parties/raves.
Who are some of the artists that inspire your sound?
There are so many artists that I admire and who inspire me each day, it’s tough to try and pick a handful, but I would say off the top of my head guys like Sian, Oliver Huntemann, Nicole Moudaber, Ron Costa, Pig & Dan, Egbert, Secret Cinema come to mind.
You’ve been releasing on Octopus and playing some of their label showcases. How did you first get in touch with Sian and the label?
For several years I had thrown a techno event called ‘Circuit with a group of people in Phoenix, and we had him out for one of our events a couple years back. Him and I ended up really clicking and he asked me for some music that I’ve been working on, later that year we linked up in Amsterdam during ADE and I gave him some more tunes. After that it’s all just kind of snowballed from there, releasing my music and playing some of their events.
Why Octopus? Why is it the right fit for you?
I’ve always been a fan of the tracks and overall feel of the label even before everything went down. Crazy thing is, I always just thought that Octopus was a label that was way beyond my reach.. so I never really took it seriously in that sense prior to getting some interest from Sian. I just really enjoyed the releases and loved playing them in my DJ sets. So I never really approached it in the sense of trying to get on the label.
You play Live sets and adopt a lot of analog use in the studio also. What are some of your favorite pieces of hardware?
I do love me some hardware lol. Even though I use Ableton Live in the studio and during my live shows, I try to include as much analog gear as possible. My studio setup revolves around Ableton Live with a Push 2 controller that I use to control the software with. Next to that I have a Native Instruments Maschine Studio that I can’t live without. I’ve been a user of the maschine for years, every single song I make has the Maschine in it. It takes a bit to get used to, but once you get your brain wrapped around it, you learn what a powerful tool it is. As far as analog gear, I have few pieces of gear that are the main extensions of the setup. I have a Moog Sub 37 and LittlePhatty that I love to use. I also have a Moog Minitaur and Roland 606 that occasionally make an appearance. I used to have some more pieces of gear, but I’ve slimmed things down and only try and keep stuff around that I use a lot. I l find that having too much gear ends up just becoming a distraction sometimes.
Can you describe your live set up and why you chose each item as part of your performance set-up?
Sure! I love interviews where I get to talk about my gear lol. For my live setup I have the new MacBook Pro running Ableton Live. It’s been a bit interesting working with the new Macbook Pro, but the USB-C inputs are actually really nice. Everything is happening within Ableton with the use of a few third party plugins and FX. I have a Maschine Micro that runs the Maschine software in Ableton for all my drums. I also just recently picked up a Novation Launch pad pro in favor of the Push controller for its ability to do a lot of what the push did but without so much control. I love the Push in the studio, I needed something a bit more stripped down but still able to handle my needs without putting too much wear on the computer’s processor. Finally everything centers around my mixer and effects controller made by Machinewerks. The CSX-51 was a bit of a challenge to find. I’ve been working on a live setup for several years now, and was constantly testing new solutions for the perfect setup. I would literally buy things just to try them out and eventually after some intense searching, I found the CSX-51. It’s a great piece of gear and the layout is perfect for my setup.
You recently made a trip to Tokyo with Sian, tell us about that?
What a life changing experience that was. I was really into Japanese comics like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Gundam and of course Nintendo video games growing up, so naturally going to Japan was pretty exciting on a personal level besides having the chance to perform with Octopus and Sian. We were out there for about a week, and did two gigs. The first was at Club Sankeys in Tokyo. The promoters took us out to a traditional Japanese dinner, that was my first experience having a traditional Japanese meal. Since I’m a huge foodie, you can imagine how big of a deal this was for me lol. After having some amazing dishes and flavors, and drinking a couple bottles of the smoothest sake I’ve ever had, we headed to the club. The vibe was exactly what you would hope a club in Tokyo would be. Sound system and VJs were on point, a totally great party.
Our second gig was at Dommune where we performed live on the internet. This place was crazy, it was in a residential neighborhood of high rises, and was down some stairs in a basement type of space. There were 2 doors to get through so that the massive Funktion 1 speakers inside weren’t disturbing the neighbors. This place was not the biggest space by any means, but big enough to have a proper Dj booth, a small dance floor, a full bar, and a sitting area. We were hammering it and you couldn’t hear anything from outside! Was a bit interesting performing in a small studio in front of cameras and a bright light, but an experience to say the least.
Much ramen was had throughout the week, not to mention extreme amounts of sushi. Some of the other highlights of the trip were hitting the Mandarake comic book store and tons of sneaker shopping around Harajuku. Its incredible to see the amount of order and respect everyone has for each other out there.
Where are you based by the way?
I’m currently residing in Phoenix, Arizona… but find myself going back and forth from Los Angeles quite a bit to work with the label.
How is the techno scene there?
It’s been several years now since we started organizing and doing techno events called Circuit, where we would showcase more of the underground techno stuff we would travel to see in Amsterdam and places like Detroit and Miami. It was a bit of a struggle to say the least, even though there was an electronic scene out here already, the techno sound wasn’t super hot.
The city is a pretty decent size, but things are spread out and trying to run a proper night takes the right kind of venue and vibe as well as making sure your not stepping on any toes. It was tough in the beginning to get the weekend nights for our events since they were being run by established nights like Solstice Saturdays with my friends Senbad & Pete Salaz, RBdeep who was pushing tech house/deep/underground sounds and just general open format and more mainstream type of nights. This caused us to start doing warehouse parties so we didn’t have to rely on other venues, and that really caught on, so the past few years the techno scene out here has really been growing.
We are going through somewhat of a techno revival in the States, with more and more of the genre being played at clubs and warehouse parties than in recent years. Why do you think that is?
The scene here in Arizona, especially Phoenix and surrounding areas has been around since the 90’s and it’s been on a consistent rise here since the 2000s. Clubs like Pompeii/Freedom, venues like the historical Ice House, and The Nile have all been notorious for some of the craziest parties. With the sudden popularity of dance music over the past few years, we’ve been seeing the parties get bigger and bigger. Some of the biggest warehouse parties I’ve ever played have been here in Phoenix. Most of the bigger events are based around the more mainstream artists and festival events, but that allows the underground stuff to get mixed in and expose it to listeners who may never have heard or seen it before. So I think this has been helping to grow the deeper, more underground scene.
Around here we are starting to see a lot more interest and hype over some of the bigger and well known underground acts. Phoenix based underground event promotion team, ‘RBdeep’ has been pushing underground parties since the mid 2000s and has really been ramping up their parties bringing names like Nicole Moudaber, ANNA, UMEK, Louisahhh, Claude Von Stroke, Martinez Brothers, Green Velvet. Next month, they’re putting together an entire stage at the very hyped Phoenix Lights Festival for April 8th and 9th with names like Josh Wink, Pig & Dan, and more. It’s a very exciting time to be involved in the scene out here at the moment.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I try not to look that far ahead to be honest. I’m all about setting goals and planning, but at the same time I think its important to live in the moment and enjoy the fruits of your labor. So hopefullyin 5 years I will be doing the same thing and enjoying it as much as I am now.
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