It is far from a bold statement to say that Australia has given the world a great deal of quality dance music over the recent decade. From Cut/Copy to the Presets, PNAU to Bag Raiders, it is safe to say we’re doing alright. I would take that even further now in saying that The Aston Shuffle are next to join the ranks of Australian dance artists conquering the globe.
The Canberra based duo have been hiding away for a great deal of time now, working on their debut album, Seventeen To Midnight. After years in the clubs and at the festivals, DJ-ing the nights away, Vance Musgrove and Mikah Freeman have officially transitioned into the realm of live music. Taking the time out of preparations for their upcoming inaugural live tour, Vance opens up about their latest project and how they came to reach the point of producing a full album.
“It wasn’t a plan from the beginning but it was an aspiration. We both come from instrumental backgrounds, pre-DJ-ing. Before we both DJ-ed, Mikah used to be a drummer in some bands in Canberra and I’ve been playing the piano since I was 3 or 4 years old. We both have backgrounds in music, playing instruments before dance music, let alone, before DJ-ing. You never really lose that sense of feeling a connection to an instrument or wanting to play an instrument.”
Their live show first debuted on New Year’s Eve at Shore Thing on Bondi Beach, with Armand Van Helden and David Guetta. The switch to a live format was nerve wracking for the boys, but, at the same time, opened them up to fans in a way that they have never done before.
“ Dj-ing is not not a performance but it is less of a performance in the sense that it is not your music. There is a slightly higher level of abstraction between what you’re outputting and what you’re putting of yourself into it. That was the one sort of big thing that immediately struck us when it came to wrapping our heads around rehearsals and the concept of doing it live.”
“ This is all our music, this is all stuff that is us. There is nothing to hide behind. It is all raw and exposed in terms of us making a statement of what we’re doing and what we’re about. “
“ I suppose the thrill of that is a lot more acute and we feel that a lot more. It is different to DJ-ing obviously, but it is difficult for us to really put our finger on. This is exactly 100% of what we’re trying to say. This is less about other people’s music and more about your own. That is what it all boils down to. It all comes back to that.”
The album itself features 12 tracks, with a re-release of For Everyone on the digital download. Vance describes the album as “very synth heavy” and “stuff that is going to make people dance and smile while they do it.” The live set up features Vance primarily on synths and keyboards with Mikah primarily dealing with percussion, but the two often switch for particular tracks.
Vance doesn’t have the excitement in his voice that you’d expect to hear from someone who is in the midst of a tour supporting his debut album. It sounds more like he is trying to keep himself on the level, taking in that they haven’t won just yet and they still have more hard yards to go.
“ It is difficult not to feel quite anxious about when it actually comes out but it is sort of partnered with a great deal of pride and relief”
“ I’m just looking forward to having the project done and letting it have its life and seeing how it goes as it hits the market place and people’s ears. There’s not too much forward planning at this point. We’re just focusing on making these live shows as good as possible and just see what happens.”