We caught up with Madeleine Carr (AK Sports) ahead of her Irish debut in Wigwam this Friday and her ‘Lost In The Sauce EP’ that is due to release on Brisol’s Shall Not Fade at the end of the month. We spoke about how she’s feelings ahead of the release, her early music taste, highlights of her career so far and more.
Sydney born, Los Angeles and London based AK Sports is pioneering nu-rave with high NRG sets that explore a multitude of genres that range from (but are not limited to) beefy breaks, deep-cut bass and exhilarating blends of techno. This frenzy of sound can not only be heard throughout her sets but also within her immensely impressive productions too.
AK Sports has gained a significant amount of praise from Dummy Mag as one of the top 10 best emerging female, trans and non-binary producers from BBC Radio One’s Jaguar. Club Glow being dubbed as one of the top compilations of 2021 by DJ Mag and with Beatport naming her as one of their Emerging Acts. It’s clear to see this fiery streak has no signs of slowing down.
Releasing on Club Glow with Kessler, Dansu Discs, Raiders Records (Berlin), Toofelz Music, Mad Decent and an upcoming release on the notorious Shall Not Fade is no mean feat. With this upcoming release you can expect much of the same mayhem that can be heard in previous AK releases. Subliminal synths, anthemic stabs, coupled with shifting soundscapes and thick as nails breaks to keep the listener on their toes.
Having held down a solid 3 year residency on Balamii and having had a hectic year performing across 3 different continents, AK Sports European tour finally drawing to a close. We took the opportunity to pick her brain about past inspirations, present feelings towards her release and future collaborations with artists.
Hi Madi! Your ‘Lost In The Sauce’ EP with the mighty Shall Not Fade was just announced yesterday and is due to release on October 28th. Would you mind sharing how you’re feeling ahead of this release and how it came about in the first place?
‘Yes! Looking at the tracks I realise this was music that was written in various places over the world. For some crazy reason during the real peak of covid I was moving around a bit. There’s actually very specific references to the locations and feelings in each track. B1 Kurupt is a nod to London, (if you know you know) A1 Robots are Forever is LA. I was actually working adjacent to Daft Punks offices around about the time they announced their deactivation, A2 Sayulita is a small hedonistic beach town wherein I was living in Mexico for 3.5 months when I wrote this it was exactly what you would imagine living in Mexico was like, and B2 Xoxo I think I was having a mad breakdown and running/flying back home to Australia without telling any of my friends. This EP is definitely multi-genre, full of movement, fever, change and yeah I guess is a good reflection of the tumultuous, free, uncertain, unruly, but also very wild and wonderful time that was 2020-2021. I hope this explains the EP name too 🙂 It came about when I finally replied to Kieran giving him my unsigned demos to which he very quickly snapped up this sauce’y bunch.’
How would you compare your ‘Lost In The Sauce’ EP to your debut EP release ‘Polarize’? Are there any glaring similarities or dissimilarities between these releases that stand out to you?
‘Both EPs are a celebration of a spectrum of sounds, but I guess these ones are a bit more DJ mix ready where as maybe Polarize was more radio friendly. The music I’m currently working on and playing out is more warehouse ready techno hybrids. I seem to be just getting faster and heavier as time goes on with productions. A place I’ve always wanted to be but have just had such a great time writing various genres that inspire me and making sense of them all under the AK SPORTS project.’
Would you care to elaborate a bit on the artwork? What is the idea behind it? It stood out to me instantly when I saw it yesterday.
‘I’ve always wanted to work with James Lacey / Pointless Illustrations so it was fantastic that SNF have a great relationship with him. The EP title came to me as I reflected on my feelings about the time in which the music was written and I think it worked well with his playful style so I didn’t need to give any direction and BOOM we got this. I’m also a big fan of tomato (or red?) sauce and not so much BBQ (or brown?) sauce so he really nailed that. The smashed tomato too on the vinyl is so so so dope. It’s simple but it really nails the energy, and sort of a youthful feeling that the EP has to me.’
You make your Irish club debut with Loose Tooth Dental Club x Citizens Arrest in Wigwam this Friday. How are you feeling ahead of this gig?
‘Mate as soon as the show got announced I had a bunch of messages, particularly gee’ing up the venue so yes very excited. It’s my Irish debut actually so hoping to raise the fkn roof and meet some great people. In fact I have Irish heritage so it feels special to get up there. I’m a fan of and homies with some dope Irish producers as well ..shout out Pagan! Kessler!’
I understand that some artists that sculpted your early music taste comprised of acts such as Moby, Fatboy Slim and Daft Punk. Do you think that elements of these artists’ sounds shine through in your productions, or do they act as a different form of inspiration when you produce music?
‘I mean that was discman skateboarding days.. In a way Fatboy and Daft Punk are still inspirations. I can pick out elements of all the music that I enjoy and sometimes do come through in my productions i.e. Moby has some really emotional, beautiful, pretty elements, heart-wrenching even & as such there seems to always be one emotional track that creeps onto the end of my EPs, or even in remixes! Fatboy is breaks and samples and movement and tension and release and v. playful productions – I definitely am deeply inspired by that energy. Daft Punk is prolific and ground-breaking and trendsetting not that I am those things but if I could be they are the GOATs. Fun fact.. I somehow managed to put one of their helmets last year. It’s a secret as to how and why but that was wild.. give me a couple pints and I might tell you.’
What is your favourite track that you have ever made? Why?
‘Thus far my music has been quite diverse.. Bugaboo (only on Bandcamp soz Spotify) is a very free and experimental banger then there’s ‘Back In The Game’ from my Club Glow tape which is cathartic and euphoric and then my fav track on this EP would be SAYULITA. I never in my life imagined Id have the opportunity to live in Mexico especially during a global lockdown and the title is an ode to all the beautiful people, parties and experiences I had in that crazy beach town. Including a controversial gig / super spreader event where everyone got covid including myself. Mischief managed.’
I see that you hold a monthly residency on Balamii. Can you outline advantages and potential disadvantages that are involved in hosting a radio show that you may have encountered in the past?
‘After three years it just finished up actually! I am grateful for the time I had there and happy to move on now. Radio shows are wonderful because you have a place to ‘play’ and experiment as a DJ, sometimes even to just do your craft if the shows aren’t rolling in which luckily for me during covid I was able to keep working and evolving as an artist in that sense. If it wasn’t for Balamii giving me the opportunity to throw down jungle at 4pm on a Tuesday and put it on the internet I wouldn’t have linked up with the Club Glow dudes, as we were all spinning fast, hard jungle tunes a few years ago on the station before that really picked up. This led to them inviting me to release on Club Glow with Kessler so we made this fun rave tape 45 minutes each side with tracks we stitched together with various interludes and of course an intro and outro. We received some acclaim on DJ Mag and props from some big DJs so I feel it kick-started my momentum in the UK/EU. No real downsides to radio. It’s definitely a lot of work and commitment but we do it for the love. The last two years I had guests on my show and that was amazing to celebrate friends and DJs around the world from now big dogs like Interplanetary Criminal to homies Nora and Eram down Brazil to my Warp Mode Crew: Bianca Oblivion and Star Eyes in LA and Aussies on the up like Daws, Mincy, Jennifer Loveless and Crescendoll.’
A similarity I noticed between Ireland and Australia as time passes is that once an artist reaches a certain level they tend to move elsewhere. In most cases this ends up being to either London or Berlin. What are your thoughts on this? Is it something you agree with or feel that is necessary or required to continue to grow and build as an artist in the wider dance music industry?
‘Ya gotta export to import baby!!! Na but real talk moving to London really gave me much much more creative freedom and inspiration which lead to opportunities that may never have come if I stayed at home. I love Australia but the scene is smaller and still developing in many parts of the country. I’ve also always had a deep yearning to move overseas, especially after our many years of struggle with the lock out laws in Eora/Sydney. It was very daunting, I was tiny fish in massive pond nay vast sea of DJ/Producers and still am but I love a challenge so I gave it a red hot crack and there seems to be a ball rolling now so I am said ball just rolling where the wind blows me. :P’
Seeing that you’re based between LA and London, how do you manage such a busy schedule and general day to day life when travelling between so many places for shows and other music related projects?
‘I didn’t mean to spend so much time in LA but I do now and it is quite difficult with constant subleasing and not being able to hold down any other form of consistent income due to being on the move so much is extremely risky, but I’m chasing the dream and every month I don’t really have much security to make it to the next one but so far it’s working out and I am making more friends in various cities and feeling more and more connected to the crazy circuit which is grounding in a strange way. It’s definitely not the life for everyone but something about packing up and moving on feels freeing to me and one day it will have more structure but for the minute it’s a rollercoaster of risky business but I’m making it work with an industry and people within who continues to inspire, nourish and ground me.’
If you had to choose a highlight of your musical career so far, what would it be?
‘Oooft I count all my blessings to be honest. I think this year being able to tour so much over three continents is the biggest highlight. Some stand out shows have been Splendour in the Grass main dance tent to about 10k people that was wild. Lost Sundays is a fantastic new event in Eora/Sydney really bringing us back into a musical time we haven’t seen since before the lockout laws which shut the whole city down for many years and made it hard for new events, venues and sounds to develop. That was my fav show and the energy was insane. And then here was my first hard ticket headline gig in Sydney and we hit capacity that was a dream. Hör and Fabric recently are also a highlight! Who knows when it will stop but for the minute I’m being very present and taking it all in.. feeling ~blessed~’
If you could only listen to one mix for the rest of your life, what mix would that be?
‘Holy f*ck ~~ Skream & Benga Live from XOYO 2001-2005 Dubstep Special .. I wish I was there. So fkn rowdy. What a G. What a time!’
What does your studio setup look like right now?
‘I was moving into more hardware but honestly I trained in the box and I’m comfortable in the box so unless I’m collaborating I really only need studio monitors, a sound card and/or just my average UE boom and headphones.’
How long have you been DJing and producing music? Which do you prefer and why?
‘DJing since 2015, Producing since 2018. I love DJ’ing because it influences my producing and I love producing because it develops my sound and artistry. I love DJing because I can also play music that’s better than my own and support artists, friends and colleagues from all walks of life, particularly minorities who are making dope shit. I have always held great responsibility in my ability to support minorities in music. When I can write music that fits into my sets it’s truly special.. I can’t choose – DJing and producing are the one beautiful, dynamic ecosystem for me.’
3 artists that you would love to collaborate with?
Honestly a lot of my friends but I’ll save them that pressure were all very busy let’s aim elsewhere..
What’s your favourite festival? What makes it different from other festivals to you?
‘Pitch Music and Arts festival just out of Naarm Australia in Rural Victoria. I have been going since it started a handful of years ago. It’s truly a ground-breaking festival for Australia .. in the most special part of Australian the tranquil Grampian plains… the punters are very knowledgeable about music and also really open to new sounds, the music is forward thinking and the festival supports the Aussies doing something slightly different and also brings in international artists at the top of their craft. Definitely a destination festival!’
What’s your favourite label at the moment?
Can you name an artist that we should keep an eye on for the future?
‘BIANCA OBLIVION, MINCY, STÜM‘
What genre of music could you not live without?
You can purchase tickets for AK Sports Irish debut in Wigwam here and pre-order her ‘Lost In The Sauce EP’ on Shall Not Fade here.