"At the end of the day, you're getting house and techno from us," says Scott Smart, one-half of the DJ duo Brodanse. "It's not deep house, tech house, this house, that house… it's house. If it has a vibe that we know is suiting to us, we'll put it out."
Scott and Austen Smart are the red-haired brothers who DJ and produce together under the name Brodanse. The Cambridge-born, Manchester-natives are united by blood, business, and beats. Although they had been working on music separately for years, the brothers teamed up officially as Brodanse in 2011. "A school friend of Austen's showed us this track by Joey Negro," says Scott. "It was a funky house track and was the first dance track we ever listened to."
"I was living in Milan and got into the disco sound," adds Austen, who left his job in a toy distributing business to pursue music full-time. "Scott was deep into the techno scene in Manchester every weekend. So you can imagine when we did get together, we had these two similar, yet distinct, tastes. It just worked."
Brodanse is pure, modern house music. Despite their current embryonic career span, the Smart brother's sound is distinguished by authenticity and sophistication. From the techy robustness of their classifying track "Sweat" with Groove Armada, to the complementary concoction of moody basslines and spirited crescendos from their recent Train of Thought EP, each Brodanse release is a step ahead of itself. "It's not an intellectual thing. It's above groove—that's it—if you're not moving then that's not it," says Scott. "Yeah, any track that we sign, we're gonna play," adds Austen. "What you hear in our sets is what we love to hear."
Their corresponding record label, Danse Club Records, has a parallel standard. To date, Danse Club has amassed releases by artists like Oliver Dollar, Emerson Todd, Nathan Barato, and Deepchild, and has made rounds in London with their Danse Club parties.
The brothers are unanimously ambitious. They teach Ableton and mixing classes at a local high school in Manchester, they're amateur ginger models appearing in the book Red Hot 100 by photographer Thomas Knights, and Austen doubles as dog show handler and manager of his similarly ginger furred Instagram famous pup, Redfers. THUMP sat down over Skype with the two producers to chat about what else is on their insatiable plate.
THUMP: How did you decide to work together on music?
Scott: I had been doing this stuff for a while, but at one point I was getting a bit disinterested because I didn't think I was seeing any results. We sort of said, 'shall we make a go of it?' We love music mutually and thought that travelling around the world every weekend would be the best thing in the world.
Austen: We made a few tracks and a few got signed to Fresh Meat in Chicago. Then we did a remix competition for Kollektiv Turmatrasse—it was dead quick, took like two hours, all done in headphones as well [laughs]. The results came in and we were one of the winners. That gave us a nice start, a bit of momentum.
Is there a process you adhere to while in the studio?
Scott: I spent a good 1000 odd hours watching YouTube videos.
Austen: Then I asked Scott what he got from the videos and made him pass on the good stuff. Scott's brain, fortunately, works like that, whereas I would manage about two minutes into the video and get distracted [laughs].
Scott: We bring ideas to the table, but format independently. One of us will come up with something and show the other and see how it goes from there. One person does the majority and then we'll spend the last 10 percent mastering it together.
Your collaboration with Groove Armada, "Sweat," seems like the track that really propelled you both into the spotlight.
Scott: Absolutely. It started after one of their gigs at Village Underground. We knew Groove Armada they had been playing some of our tracks, thanked them, and suggested working together.
Austen: They gave me their emails, but I had been drinking that night. I was like, "Scott, please, do you remember what they are?" Luckily he did and we reached out. They basically said, "So when did you want to get the project started?"
What influenced you to start Danse Club Records?
Scott: Number one—you know where your music going. You know every part of the process and you can put in as little or as much effort into getting your record out.
Austen: So many times we'd do a track and there's little PR involved. In a world where there's like 300 releases on a Monday, you need to invest in the music to get it out there. Proper promotion is a part of that.
How did the Fabric nights come about?
Scott: We started going there a lot. We became really good friends with the club, the bookers, the promoters, and the sound engineers. We became friendly with everyone.
Austen: Often after a DJ would finish in another club around the city, they'd come to Fabric and hang out. You would meet a lot of people through that alone.
Scott: We ended up doing three shows there. We try not to play anywhere else in London to keep it with them. It's the best stage in London for house music. They're not into trends, they just do as they feel, which is likely why they're so successful.
You just had your Ibiza debut at Emerging Ibiza. What is Emerging Ibiza?
Austen: The event tries to discover and showcase new talent on the island. They do this by selecting a few industry acts as experts, like Bill Patrick, and Yousef was one last year, which mentor new talent in some way. We always said we wanted to go to Ibiza. I think we'll probably end up going for five or six months next year.
What do you think you learned?
Austen: It's always really eye-opening when you go into new clubs. It's one thing to make music in the studio and bring it to the clubs you're familiar with, it's another thing when you go to a new place and hear how it works there. I've never been to a club where there are over 2000 people, let alone 9000 people. You realize quickly how different music sounds in each place.
Tell me about the Red Hot 100 experience.
Scott: Essentially the photographer who started it went to some modeling agencies to look for ginger models and there was none. He figured that surely there are some good looking ginger guys. So he started finding all these ginger guys, taking their photos, and collecting them for Red Hot 100, which is the 100 hottest red head guys. It's become really quite big. We've become the official DJs for Red Hot.
Austen: Yeah, I'm doing some modeling out of it. It's kind of crazy. That's where our press shots came from anyway, it's from Red Hot 100's photographer Thomas Knights.
What else can we look forward to?
Scott: We've just released our new single on Danse Club with DJ W!ld remix, which is getting a lot of support. We've got a remix coming out on a label called Under No Illusion on August 31. The main one is the EP on Ray Okpara's AMA Recordings.
Austen: We've just launched a new sub-label, where we put out vinyl only versions of our tracks. We're working on an EP selection, so we'll be releasing something every two weeks. Keep an eye, there will be lots.
Listen to Brodanse's Dutch Dub remix of "Hammerhead" by Retrospekt & Platkovsky above. Grab the track when it comes out on Slime Recordings on September 18.
Rachael is on Twitter.