Name: Sister City Limited
Vibe: Experimental house and techno, improvised, hardware sessions
Location: Los Angeles and Portland
Upcoming releases: Rites of Dacia
It may still be in its formative years, but Sister City is already proving itself a force to be reckoned with. Fueled by a desire to break free of the mold of the regular club circuit, producers Dean Grenier, Eprom, and Hej Fund have banded together to pursue their own creative desires. The result of their efforts is a bold and unique sound and label, Sister City Limited, which speaks a new musical language that dares to continue pushing the boundaries of house and techno.
With a passion to challenge what we know of four to the floor and the generic club experience, Sister City Limited have no intentions of playing it safe. We recently got in touch with the trio to find out more about the evolution of the new imprint and what they have in-store.
THUMP: How did the label come together?
Dean Grenier: James (Hej Fund), Sander (Eprom), and I have been collaborating together for the last few months pretty solidly and we'd built up this big collection of music. We just had so much material so we started getting into shopping it around. It just wasn't really feeling right because it feels like there are so many people out there who have really strong visions about what their label is, and they only want to sign music that fits this narrow vision. And, you know, that makes sense. They have a certain they're going for and that's respectable. But we just wanted to carve out our own lane, not only with our own music, but something where we can fulfil our own vision.
How would you describe your sound and vision?
Eprom: We're making techno and house, but all three of us are kind of outsiders to that scene. We're not DJs who have been playing in the scene for a long time and decided to start our own label. We just love the music and we love making it. I'm not one of those DJs who is combing the internet for new techno and house tunes, I just lock myself in my basement and make it because its fun for us. It's just an outlet for us to explore new territory.
D: Being outsiders of that world is actually a big part of it. We couldn't just call up any of our friends in the techno and house world and just be like, 'Hey, listen to our track.' We know some of those folks, but we don't come from that world and that also informs some of our creative decisions as producers.
Eprom and Grenier, I am familiar with your dubstep productions before this latest project. Where was the jump from dubstep to the Sister City sound?
D: For me personally, its kind of a combination of a few years of exploring different music after dubstep. I stopped making and DJing dubstep a few years ago, but it's taken me some time to figure out where I wanted to go after that. That scene and that world wasn't creatively fulfilling for me anymore for a few reasons. In all honesty, there wasn't really any intention behind it. A lot of the early sessions that came out with James and myself, we were just making music we liked. It's been an evolution of music and sounds.
How did the collaborations with Max Ulis and Sergio Levels come about?
D: They came about because I was on tour in Canada last year and did some gigs in Vancouver and Calgary, and I just happened to get in the studio with those guys. Basically, we just wanted to start this label, and we weren't really quite sure how to start it. So I was just like, "Guys, look. I've got these two tracks that I did with these friends of mine in Canada. I really love them. Lets get these mastered and I'll make some artwork and let's start the label with these!" It was a way to get things going.
What have been some of the challenges that come along with starting your own label?
D: Its crazy to me just how many hoops you have to go through. We've had to file for business taxes and pay money. It's really expensive! You have to get a distribution deal and there's all this paperwork that has to get filled out for that. Most record labels are not all that profitable, so its a labour of love. It's so gratifying and we love it so much that it just makes it all worth it. We feel we have something to say as artists, and we have material that we are in love with. We want to add our voice to the chorus and create our own context.
The three of you will be playing What The Festival and Bass Coast Festival as the Sister City trio this summer. What will this be like?
Hej Fund: I've been to What The Festival, I've never been to Bass Coast. I'm really looking forward to that one (Bass Coast), I've heard nothing but great things. I think they're going to be really receptive to the kind of set that we're putting together. We're doing a full live set at both of these festivals. What The Festival is always a great time because the grounds are always so beautiful and the sound systems are top notch. It's probably one of the best sound systems I've heard in a long time. So, that seems to reflect the kind of people that we would want to be playing with at both of these festivals. I'm excited about that personally.
Is playing live a new thing for you guys, not only together but also separately?
E: I've been playing live for a while, but I don't do things in hardware so much. I mostly use Ableton and a MIDI controller. This is the first time we're going to be doing a show where Ableton isn't even a part of the picture. Everything on stage will be hands on.
D: The logistics of the way we are building this live set is actually completely new territory for all of us. It's not going to be three dudes staring at the fucking screen. We're going to be in the moment creating this music. It's pretty ambitious, but it's also going to be really fun.
Tell me about the process of working together on your latest release?
E: That process was basically the result of us working together in my studio in Portland. It was a funny session because every time we make a new song we'd basically rewire my entire studio, change the layout of the whole lab and put everything together in new configurations. It was mostly just us setting everything up in a new way, and then jamming and seeing what happens without a whole lot of planning and overarching song structure. We're all pretty happy with the results. One we made in L.A., and then two we made in Portland.
Where are you planning on going in the future with Sister City?
H: We're hoping to play this music and perform as Sister City across all the appropriate festivals, tour Europe, and travel the world. As far as the label, obviously one of the biggest reasons that we do this is because we want to be able to put out our shit. Right now, as far as the immediate scope, is that we're sitting on so much of our own music that we just really want to focus on that, put our stuff out there and really let people get a feel for what it is that we're doing. We always have our ears open for what's good, and we're always looking out for new artists and artists that other people aren't familiar with. But right now, it's really just about our music and making as much as we can and getting that out there.
D: We're definitely not limiting ourselves with the label, but right now we're just very focused on carving out our own little corner of the world. Between the three of us, we have this vision and we get it. Over the next few years, I definitely see us doing bigger and bigger things both with the label and live, and a couple of other ideas that we have beyond that. We have a lot of ambition, but we're trying to stay really focused. We're just going to see where these things take us.
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