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Interview: Edem & Govan

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EDEM is an artistic project that mixes and artfully shakes parts of music and slices of heart along the diagonal path of the artist's life experiences: from the Deep House grooves and the junk food consumed through the cold streets of London to the Melodic Techno beats, the yellow rays of Ibiza, the yoga and vegan culture. Following the ow, today Edem is an highly esteemed producer and one of the flagship projects of the label Cigarette Music. In the crystal ball you can see his upcoming new releases and, in the middle, his performances through the best parties in Rome and worldwide. Meanwhile, GOVAN is a Romanian dj and music producer based in Italy. At 20 his passion from music led him to London to breath the influences of the new electronic sounds. Then he moved to Rome where he still lives working as a Dj and a music producer. Currently he’s one of the resident Djs for Dark Noon, Ibiza based international events’ format. Together Edem & Govan have carved out their own deep house sound which has earned the praise of world class DJs and industry tastemakers. Once again landing on their primary home of Cigarette Music, the duo has just released their much anticipated 'Never Enough' EP. We had a chance to catch up with the duo for an exclusive chat just prior to the release. Enjoy!

Hi Guys, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

It’s a pleasure for us, it’s 2 am right now and we were seated together with a beer in our hands listening to the Nothing But Thieves.

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be producers and DJs?

We are 31 and 33 years old and we are into this lifestyle since 15 and 17. I, Edem, started living in contact with electronic music in 1998 thanks to Rockafeller Skank and Right Here Right Now by the Fatboy Slim; Govan instead started by listening to the Culture Beat’s 1993 album, Serenity. Our dream of composing music started in 2007.

What music from your youth had the biggest effect on where you are today? Are there certain tracks or albums which profoundly influenced you?

The album that most of all left a mark during our early days was “2001” by Dr. Dre for Govan, and “Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers for Edem.

How has growing up and living in Italy shaped the music you make and your career path so to speak?

It’s easy to answer this question to be honest. In Italy the 90’s were so productive for many great producers who inevitably influenced our artistic background; for example, we are talking about legends of the caliber of Joe T Vannelli, Claudio Coccoluto, Ralf and many others.

How did you meet and eventually start collaborating?

Me and John met in school in 2007, we attended the same class until our diploma. Our strong will on making music together started during those days. During recess we did nothing but talk about music, the new music that had just came out, the discoveries on the Fruity Loops, samples that we were able to “steal” or the vst’s that we liked. One day we spent the whole evening in my room listening to my “recent projects”. In that moment, we decided to start collaborating, maybe as a joke.

A successful partnership is generally based around balance and compromise; how do you manage these things within the Edem & Govan dynamic? Do you have different roles in the production process? And if so, elaborate please.

These are holy words. Without agreements a duo doesn’t go very far. Our biggest strength is the fact that we are completely different but we somewhat complete each other. Me, a crazy visionary and him, a down to earth and practical worker. We didn’t have specific roles while composing music. Sometimes the main idea starts with my piano chords, other times with his drum loop, and at that point we start building the flow, brick after brick, in the way as it comes. The only step that John willingly leaves a side for me, is probably the mixing and mastering, thresholds and knees aren’t his favourite and they often bore him.

You have a new EP out this week on Cigarette Music, “Never Enough”, tell us a bit about the release and how they showcase your individualities.

We spent almost 6 months working on “Never Enough” and we put a lot of ourselves into it. The pressing bass and the instrumental riff are Govan’s signatures, while I composed the vocal lines, played the pads and the drum loops. The initial idea was that I had to sing; but after the label sent us an audio of Emma King singing our chorus, we fell in love.

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 your inspiration come from and was there anything that inspired these two tracks?

These last two years inevitably impacted our music. We haven’t traveled, we haven’t played live. It hasn’t been easy. Our wish of redemption brought us towards composing a more direct music, somewhat “happier”, with sang vocals and musically rich.

Walk us through the production process on one of the tracks, whichever you like.

Let’s talk a little about what we used for “Romance”, the companion track of the new Ep’s title track “Never enough”. The drums are composed by bass, claps, bongos, shakers, and hi hat loops from our personal files. The bass comes from the Arturia Moog Modular V which we use almost always for our bass lines. It’s a simple bass line, with only two chords that carry on the piece while never trying to be the main character. The pads and the textures come from Fxpansion Chyper2 vst, which we love to use for creating nature sounds, while the bell sounding synth is composed by two sounds, a native bell from Ableton Live and a pluck from Lennar Digital Sylenth1. We choose the piano from the Arturia Analog Lab presets, like always, and the few arpeggiated ones are from Arturia Arp 2600. The vocals are sang by Edem and worked on with a couple of different plug-ins from Waves.

What does your set-up look like? Do you share a studio? Do you favor physical gear over digital?

We share since always the same studio. Our setting is included with a good pc, the Ableton Live software, the rme babyface sound card, monitor krk vxt8 speakers, an arturia keylab essential 61 keyboard, a yamaha piano, a Neumann u87 microphone, a Novation Launchpad pro, a Keith Mcmillen Boppad and a universe of different vst’s and plugins! Although we can be the biggest fans of the analogic sound of synthesizers and hardware effects, wr have always chosen the fast and easy route of working in digital.

Cigarette Music has been your primary home, what makes the label such a great place to release your music?

It’s our main house, a flagship, the place where we can express ourselves for what we truly are. Our music has changed many times all over again, even changing different genres, and Cigarette has always had our back, showing us great loyalty and trust. A lot of what we do today is all owed to the label and the beautiful people that work everyday to keep it growing drop after drop after drop.

What’s a piece of gear that always gets used when you’re writing a track?

Piano and Arturia V-Collection!

How much road testing or friend feedback is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

Once the mixing of a track is finished, we usually spend a week listening to it from different outputs (car speakers, smartphones, laptops etc.) so to correct every single defect. The first feedback is always from our manager, as well as the founder of Cigarette Music, Bobo Capanna.

How do you guys see your sound evolving in the coming years?

I don’t think we can answer, our goal is to continue making music spontaneously, however it comes.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

It could sound as a simple concept but this is exactly what drives us: contributing to making the world a better place (and playin padel)!

What is your favourite food?

Luinguine (this is the real name, “Linguini” is a unforgivable mistake) with fresh tomato sauce and basil. I don't know if you'll ever know what we mean by this. Ok joking. Ok, not :)

What does the remainder of 2021 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

The first party on the decks after a year and half of inactivity. Incredibly exciting.

'Never Enough' is available now via Cigarette Music: https://bit.ly/3lnHH9i

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