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Basic Soul Unit – Addicted Podcast #11
What differs Stuart Li aka Basic Soul Unit from many people in the game is his approach to the way he sees his ‘career’ (quotation marks are intentional) evolving which may seem somewhat laidback. Residing in Toronto and spending most of his time outside of the music bubble, he still manages to preserve his passion for the wide diversity of sounds. We are very happy to welcome him as an author of our new podcast and are sure this mix will stand out as a special one for many of you music lovers.
- Being a person who doesn’t make a living out of music and has a regular job, how would you describe your involvement in the international music scene? How much time you spend on making/playing music, let’s say, on a weekly basis?
- It’s hard to define involvement, but if you mean DJing or performances then I would say moderate, with this year probably being the busiest so far. As you mentioned, having a job (albeit freelance) and a family makes it harder to get out there. I like living in Toronto a lot and because my family and extended family are mostly here, I don’t see myself moving to Europe anytime soon. As far as connecting with people and the music community, it’s not so hard with the internet these days. But it’s always nice to meet face to face when I travel of course.
I think I’ve rarely spent more than a full day working on music at a time mostly because of the aforementioned reasons, but also because inspiration and creativity never strikes in a consistent manner. Sometimes I’m on a roll and get a few good productive hours done. Other times I’ll work for a whole day and come up blank. Then I’ll just leave it for a bit and reset myself doing something else.
- Without any particular reason, just listening to your records and knowing how you call yourself as an artist, I’ve always thought you were a retrospective person. Do you consider yourself one? I read you had most of your music-related education coming from the 90s when you used to be playing out as a dj rather than from the times when you started releasing music – is it really like that?
- Certainly the late 80s to early 90s were a big influence on me as I grew up listening to the sounds of a fresh and exciting new chapter in dance music. So music from that era is very close to my heart. But at the same time I’ve always kept an ear to the present and even the future as well. Over the years, outside of House and Techno, I was also taking in Nujazz, Broken Beat, a bit of Drum n Bass, and also diving back into disco, jazz, soul & funk. I wouldn’t call myself so much retrospective (even though my first productions are more blatantly so) but more as trying to create a continuity between the past and now. At least that is my goal.
- Is that true that it was only this year when you started performing live at your gigs? What took you so long? What does your live set sound like – is it an attempt to strictly reproduce your studio material or there’s also a significant part of a live improvisational feel to it?
- Yes it’s only my first year of doing live sets. Although it was always something I was interested in exploring my passion was always in DJing and I never made a conscious push to do this in the past. In the last year or 2, I got more requests for live shows so the opportunity presented itself. Still it took me about at least half a year to figure out how I was gonna set it up. It’s a combo of the studio material on Ableton with a 707 drum machine & a X0XB0X. There’s a bit of rearrangement, editing and some added sounds and changes but the tracks are not unrecognizable. Certainly I want to keep improving and add more of an improve feel to it but I’m happy with how its going and the response I’ve received so far.
- I know you’re coming back to Europe in November and December. What does it feel like playing here in comparison with the shows you get in America? What places that you have already been to you liked the most, apart from the obvious Panoramabar?
- Europe is of course better in the sense that there is a bigger tour circuit and the musical knowledge and appreciation of underground dance music is more widespread. Even the smaller cities usually have a decent scene. However, in the last couple of years I’ve been getting more North American gigs, and the gigs here have been getting better and better. I’ve always had a good time no matter the size and turnout of the gigs in Europe but stand out moments I recall were in Oslo and Sweden. Besides Pbar, I’ve always had a good time in Berlin in general too. One other difference of course is that in general, clubbing hours in Europe tend to be later and go longer. It’s nice because you really get the time during a long set to play and program a wide range of music. You get to go a bit deeper than you might with a shorter set.
- Finally, can you please describe your Addicted podcast? What is the idea behind the mix?
- As with my Dj sets, I always try to create a flow. So that’s my approach here, to try and link a spectrum of the sounds I like to play and create a sense of progression and momentum. In the club setting this usually happens organically as I never plan my sets. But in this case I spent a bit of time programming the tracklist. Hope you enjoy it!
1. Gaust - Vacant Depth (Intro) [Other Heights]
2. Basic Soul Unit - Black Ice [Midnight Shift]
3. Ike Release - Phazzled [MOS Deep]
4. Cassegrain & Tin Man - Visitor [Killekill]
5. Steffi - Shraper [Ostgut Ton]
6. Aardvarck - Tape Mix [Studio Soulrock]
7. Alden Tyrell - Tntus [Clone Basement]
8. Tuff City Kids - Sfs [Unterton]
9. Cosmin TRG - Vertigo [50 Weapons]
10. Untold - Caslon [Hemlock]
11. Fishermen - Dhow [Skudge]
12. Kevin McPhee - Outs [Tectonic]
13. Imugem - Gemikunat [Chronicle]
14. Steven Tang - Metropolitan View [Dolly]