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Feature: Dysco [Interview]

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One of New York City’s rising talents, Dylan Scott Farrugia, better known as Dysco, has proven his artistic ability to both fans and peers alike. Whether in his home country of Malta, or on the streets of New York City, Dysco completely immersed himself in the culture of electronic music from the jump. With a keen ear for the future sounds of the underground, and a quick mind for creating stellar music, Dysco was quickly recognized as an artist to watch.

Dysco’s passion and hard work in the scene were recognized as word spread throughout the NYC Nightlife community – ultimately leading him to perform the halls of legendary nightclubs such as Output, Pacha, TBA Brooklyn, Sankeys, and Cielo.

Flash forward through many late nights in production and vibrant sets across the years, Dysco is now taking his game to the next level through powerful original work that pays homage to the past, present, and future of Underground music. Now fresh off the release of his ‘Sleepless City’ single for SLC-6 Music, we catch up with Dysco in this exclusive interview. Enjoy.

Hi Dylan, thanks for sitting with us today! Tell us where in the world you are and what your plans for the week are.

It’s my pleasure! Right now I’m in Manhattan, New York. With everything going on, I’ll just be staying indoors. I’ll be wrapping up a few projects that I have in the works, watching some Netflix (Peaky Blinders is insanely good!), and playing some video games with my friends online.

Tell us more about your story. How did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a producer and DJ?

I was fortunate to discover electronic music at an early age. My older cousin (Godwin) was a raver and would burn CDs for my oldest brother (Patrick) that were being played at the clubs. While my classmates were all listening to what was on the radio, I was mostly listening to the techno and trance on those CDs. I even made them burn a few for myself! Fast forward a few years, my cousin’s best friend (Chuck) returned from the military -he happened to be a DJ, and we became very close friends. Let’s just say that at any party he DJ’d at, I was in the booth with him studying the ins and outs of mixing. The rest is history.

How did growing up and living in New York City, while spending your summers in Malta influence your musical taste?

The electronic music scene in Malta is great. I was able to see some great DJs and hear some quality music during my summers there. There are 2 names in particular from the beginning, DJ Ruby and JJoy, who I’m happy to call my friends. As for New York City, every year my brothers would take me to see Paul Van Dyk at the SummerStage in Central Park. Those events were all ages (I remember someone bringing their baby there!) and I think we went 3 or 4 years in a row. I even got to meet PVD at the old Virgin Megastore store in Union Square. Ah, those were amazing times. I was also definitely inspired to be on the stage after attending my first Electric Zoo.

Being based in New York, how is the city influencing the music you make?

My latest release, ‘Sleepless City,’ is actually named after New York City. An example in this one is a siren that I sampled as an atmospheric touch. You’ll hear those here at all hours of the day. While most of my favorite clubs have closed in NYC, we still have some quality venues that bring in some of my favorite artists from around the world on a weekly basis. Listening to all these different artists definitely spark some inspiration in my productions.

Tell us about your record/music collection, what were some of your early influences?

Ah, there are so many. I think my biggest influences stem from artists such as Paul Van Dyk and Sasha, to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Combine those trancy elements with the chill/ trippy vibe of those bands and you’ll get my progressive style. 

At which club or event did you experience electronic music for the first time and what memories have stuck with you from that moment? 

It would have to be those events at Central Park! The first one I went to was around the age of 12. As for clubs, it was at this venue called ‘The Rook,’ which is in Gozo, Malta. I was fortunate to sneak in there before they closed their doors. To give you a description of this place, you walk up these limestone steps into a fort. In the back area is an opened air dancefloor, with an elevated level surrounding it. Behind that was the Mediterranean Sea. When nights were windy, you’d get a nice splash of salt water! It was a gem.

Can you name five tracks that were influential in your musical development?

This is tough. I can name so many! Some that come to mind from when I was younger: 

Born Slippy – Underworld
Domino – Oxia
Nothing But You – Paul Van Dyk (as well as the whole ‘Out There and Back’ album, For An Angel, Crush, etc. I couldn’t just choose one from him!)
Beautiful Things – Andain
As The Rush Comes – Motorcycle

I know that I’ll listen to another classic and wish that I added it to the list. So here’s an extra:
Need To Feel Loved (Adam K & Soha Remix) – Reflekt

I think for a lot of artists, music allows you to write a sketch of your own personal universe in a way; your travels, life experiences etc. Is this something which is true for yourself? Where does inspiration come from? 

It certainly is true. There isn’t just one thing that inspires me. I’ve recently learned from this quarantine that just going outside and enjoying nice weather can inspire me. I also like to listen to all genres of music to get me in the zone before I start working on music. Surprisingly enough, I don’t usually listen to house music before I do so. As for life experiences, you’ll certainly hear where my mind is currently at in my productions. Whether I am hurting, or feeling on top of the world, you’ll hear it. Lights dimmed, candles on, and some incense are also a part of the routine.

How have you been dealing with COVID-19? You must have lost gigs because of it and the impact it’s having on travelling DJs is hugely significant. Will you be doing any in studio live stream sets? 

I’ve adjusted; however, my sleeping schedule is even worse than it was before! It’s been a bit tough working on new music but I’ve been keeping busy managing a few releases that I have coming out soon. As for gigs, I had a few that were cancelled, including my birthday party at the new Nublu and a show at Public Arts. I was planning my yearly gig with my friends in Poland for the early summer, as well as a few shows in Malta and Dubai. Everything is up in the air, but everyone’s health and safety come first.

You have a new single out now on SLC-6 Music, tell us a bit about how you approached this project and walk us through the production process on the original if possible. 

I actually started this track a few years ago. I felt that it had potential, but I wasn’t satisfied so I came back to it and changed it completely. I added to the groove with a new bassline, as well as some dark bass stabs throughout, a mellow arpeggiated melody, and some pads. I thought it would fit well with vocals so I messaged my friend from Malta, Yasmin, formerly known as ‘YEWS’ (now, Joon). Check her out, she’s so talented! Before she wrote the lyrics, I told Yasmin the idea that I had in mind for the vocals, and she completely knocked it out of the park. It was a pleasure having her on as I couldn’t have asked for a better result. After the original was completed, I sent the project to these artists who I’ve been following for a little while, Dhany G and Echo Daft & Shanil Alox. Man, their remixes are insane! Aside from this project, they’ve all been doing wonderful things for the electronic music scene and I hope to continue more projects with them in the near future. Finally, we told the story of the lyrics to our art designer. I think the artwork does a great job illustrating this release! 

You’ve released a few projects on SLC-6, with this being your first solo EP, why does the label feel like such a great fit for your music?

I am proud of this project and the growth of SLC-6. With the friendship David (label boss) and I built, I knew SLC-6 was the right home for my first solo EP. 

Which do you enjoy more, writing original material or remixing? And what do you look for when choosing a remix project? 

While I enjoy remixing tracks, I would say working on originals. Whether it’s groovy, or downtempo progressive, I have all the freedom to do as I please. As for remixes, I first look for any arpeggiated sounds and build around that. 

You’ve also collaborated a few times with SLC-6 Music boss D.J. MacIntyre, describe what that dynamic is like and how you guys go about working on music together.

It’s pretty fascinating how we met and what we’ve been able to achieve together since. I think we have a similar taste in music, where mine is more dreamy with a touch of dark prog, while his style is darker, with a touch of dreamy prog. It’s a nice balance. Either of us will start a nice chunk of the track, send over the stems, change/ add whatever we feel is necessary, and send back and forth until we’re both satisfied with it. We currently have one in the works that we swear is almost done, after the 80th revision we’ve made on it!

What’s a piece of gear that gets used on every track? And what are some of your favourite studio tools?

I love my Korg Minilogue. Aside from that, I’m mostly in-the-box, so just my laptop. Depending on what instrument I’m trying to emulate, I’ll use a different plugin and manipulate it with Abletons built in tools. For pads and any melodic element – Native Instruments Absynth is my go-to. For basslines, I use Massive or Serum. 

Describe how satisfying it is to see a dance floor unite to something you’ve written. 

It’s special. I’m always nervous to test a new track out but when it does well on the dance-floor, I can’t explain it. It motivates me to want to make more. 

As a DJ you’ve played some of New York’s finest clubs, Output, Pacha, TBA Brooklyn, Sankeys, and Cielo all come to mind. What gigs from your past would you point to as the most memorable and why? 

Ah, there are a few. Output was a big goal of mine and I was able to achieve that with my best friend, Mafia B. We actually played there twice and both times were so much fun. Another would be this past summer’s Inoki pool party at the Williamsburg Hotel, where I opened for Just Her and Sahar Z on two separate occasions. They were both 3 hour sets, and I was able to take the crowd on a journey with the landscape of New York City behind me. I had lots of my friends and family there, too! 

The industry and how fans discover new music has changed dramatically in the last 10 years or so. How do you discover new music nowadays? 

There are a few ways I discover new music. Aside from the promos sent to me, I’ll listen to podcasts from some of my favorite artists, as well as following my favorite labels and their releases. I’m not shy to Shazam any tracks at the club, either! 

There are a lot of factors that affect the perception of an artist other than his music these days, social media for one, how much emphasis do you put on stuff like this? And what are your thoughts on the current state of the industry? 

I think it’s important to keep your social media professional. I do try to post quality content, even though my social media doesn’t have any particular theme. I don’t think one’s social media should define an artist as much as the music they’re making. I honestly hate when an artist follows and unfollows you just to make their page look better. Those are one of the many pet peeves I have in regards to how artists utilize social media. 

Is there a movie you would have loved to have produced the soundtrack for? And if so, why? 

Hmm, I’m going blank for movies right now.. I do love the soundtrack of Stranger Things! It’s the first thing I tell my friends when I recommend that show to them.  

Current favorite tracks? 

This is also tough. I would say anything produced by Guy J and Jeremy Olander. Aside from their work, I have to include some bombs from 2019: 

Lanarka – Sébastien Léger

The Great Escape – Volen Sentir

Parthenogenesis – Juan Ibañez

The Past Behind Your Back – Dhany G

Path To Moksha (Mir Omar Remix) – NOIYSE PROJECT, Dylan Deck

Aurora Rain (Greenage Remix) – NOIYSE PROJECT

Helium – D.J. MacIntyre, Casper Keys

Unit (Gaston Ponte Remix) – Ewan Rill 

Apart from music, what makes you happiest? 

I’m an avid hockey fan. I’ve been playing since I was three years old and have watched 99% of the New York Islanders’ games since! I also love traveling and would love to eventually hit every continent. I’ve been all around Europe and I think South America is next on my list. 

What does the rest of 2020 hold for Dysco? Anything you can tell us about? 

I have a few exciting projects in the works. The big one this summer will be taking the reins for SLC-6’s dj mix compilation, ‘Constellations: Crux.’ I’ll be curating and compiling a selection of tracks from the label, and weaving them together in a continuous dj mix.  You’ll hear some new productions of mine on there, as well as some new originals and remixes from Leo Perez, Ewan Rill, Hypnotised & PatriZe, and others. I also have a few releases with my good friend from Argentina, Juan Ibañez. Keep an eye out for him, he’s a future legend in this scene!  

While 2020 is at a halt, I will just focus on bettering my productions, as well as networking with other music producers around the world. Once things start getting back to normal, I will be sure to throw a memorable party alongside the homies, Bryan Fein (Mafia B) and Harsch Ved (HVED), with our brand, Origins Underground.

‘Sleepless City’ is out now on SLC-6 Music, you can purchase the release here: https://bit.ly/3fPgvLD

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