We recently sat down for a virtual interview with Berlin based SK_Eleven frontman Setaoc Mass for a chat about lockdown, labels, hardware, the future of clubbing and of course, the upcoming release from Phara which is out on SK_11 as part of their X Series tomorrow.
As a DJ and producer, Setaoc Mass is part of a select cut of young artists who are absorbing techno’s legacy and carrying the torch into tomorrow. Whilst overseeing his own imprint SK_eleven, his releases push a galvanising brand of techno, steeped in a sense of urgency, ever-propulsive with acute detailing and nods to a futuristic space-age. In addition to a debut release on Len Faki’s Figure which has caught the eye of some of the scene’s most respected DJ’s. As a selector, the Mancunian’s extended DJ sets pull from an expansive spectrum of material both new and old.
Phara, the latest label contributor, is a kid of the 90’s whose music breathes in industrial chaos and exhales warehouse vibes. With a sound so powerful, dense and direct his career took off by storm. With a full album as a debut release you can surely make some waves, and that’s exactly what happened. With the first ever LP to see the light on Black Sun Records, a label that kickstarted the careers of renowned artists such as Blawan and AnD, Phara gained immediate support around the globe.
We had a chat with Setaoc Mass (Sam) about recent times and whats to come in the future.
Hi Sam, thanks for talking to Four Four. How have the last few months been for you?
Hey, thanks for having me, it’s a pleasure. Well, as for everyone in the industry I think it’s been really tough, especially not being able to have the outlet in a club scenario as well. I was pretty productive at the start enjoying a lot of time off and spending so much time in the studio. Towards the latter stages I got quite lazy and bored, slowly trying to find rhythm again now.
What have you been listening to recently?
Generally, I listen to a lot of my own productions, when I’m finishing new tracks, I’ll listen to them for hours. When I’m in the car or somewhere else, it’s a general mix of ambient, cold wave and synth pop stuff.
What’s it like being a producer during lockdown, have you been working on tracks more or less?
Definitely more, it’s an obsession that ever increases. Whether it’s working on tracks or messing around with idea’s or new plug ins.
Have you been using any hardware or production recently?
Yeah, I bought a few new synths when lock down started, DSI Evolver, ASM Hydrasynth and the classic Korg MS2000. I’m still undecided which exactly I prefer more VST’s or Hardware, it’s always a debate.
SK_Eleven has been up and running for a while now. What’s the story behind it, and how do you feel about the direction it’s taken since its conception?
The birth was always an outlet for my own music, I had a lot of false promises in the beginning and it only made me stronger to succeed and run my own label. The direction is always based around the logo, that’s my thing that’s closest to me, also my first tattoo before the label was born. So, the concept’s surrounding the artwork can change but the logo will always be centre point.
What’s the difference between SK_Eleven and SK_X? Why did you start SK_X?
I was getting sent so much good music from Yant, he basically made me start the SK_X series, it’s a side project to SK11 as SK11 will always be for my own releases, and releasing new people on SK11 seemed like it may take away the special feeling that SK11 gives to me. So, the only option was to run a side SK11X series.
The artworks on SK_Eleven are as gritty and intoxicating as the tracks
themselves. What, for you, makes a good artwork for an SK_Eleven release?
Ha ha I have an amazing graphic designer who doesn’t like to be credited for his work, I leave most of the idea’s to him, and I trust him whole heartedly to come out with the vision which is in my head – we have similar minds, so it works.
Are there any artists you have your eyes on for a release on the SK_X series?
Mr. Rene Wise! I’m so happy to have him locked in for a release in the not too distant future, everyone’s buzzing about him and rightly so.
Has lockdown affected running a label? Do you find lockdown has altered people’s interest in music?
Hmm, it’s a tough one and it’s hard to gauge. It seems like the live streams have been so popular that I don’t think people have yet lost interest. I think everyone’s just waiting patiently to hear techno on a loud system, and I think that will lend to the club scene being so strong once this is all over. I didn’t release much music on SK11 or SK_X during this period, but there is a couple lined up now. I think sales are still the same as usual to be honest, people buying records will always buy.
What are you working on at the moment, any big plans for the coming
SK11009 is the next one from me, it’s a double pack containing 8 tracks, pretty much all of them were finished during COVID times, I’m producing so much that the only way to release this music is in a longer format so this will be a nice double pack EP (not an album!! Ha ha)
Are you looking forward to getting back to performing live? What direction do you think clubbing will take over the next year?
I can’t wait! I already have a show lined up in Bulgaria end of this month (thanks Dimi)
it’s going to be such a buzz to get back up there and play the music I love to ravers I love. Also, I can’t wait to travel outside of Berlin again. To be honest like as I said it’s going to be coming back strong, although a little restricted for people’s health and safety but all in all its going to be powerful.
Phara’s EP, Life of Krumar, is due to release on your label this month [July 10]. What about Phara’s sound excites you most?
I love Robin (Phara), such a talented guy, I think we cross over musically quite similar, from techno and also to older 60’s/70’s music we adore. He’s always someone that I’ve respected, releasing timeless techno records with a solid production. We discussed doing an EP with him last year in Brussels, so I’m super happy to have him onboard for the first and not the last.
Which track is your favourite out of the three and why?
Honestly, they’re all amazing, it’s such a solid EP.
Interview by Podge Daly.
We’re delighted to bring you the premiere for Life Of Kumar from this stunning three track techno EP which available to purchase from tomorrow. You can preorder or buy the vinyl here.
Check out Life of Krumar by Phara now over on our Soundcloud