If you aren’t familiar with The Aston Shuffle they’ve been making waves in the game for years now. The Australian duo are two of the many faces of the ABC (Australian Broadcast Corporation) as hosts of the wildly popular Triple J “Friday Night Shuffle” radio show. Over the years, Vance and Mikah have held the number one spot on Beatport as well compiled four different mixes for Ministry of Sound, my favorite club in the world and a renowned international record label.
We had the chance to sit down with the duo and talk about the current state of house music as well as their beginnings, and everything in between. Check out what they had to say in our exclusive Heard It Here First interview below!
H: What are your beginnings? What did the start of the Aston Shuffle look like?
Back in the early 2000s when dance music was on its way from underground to more mainstream we started bumping into each other in Canberra nightclubs. Mikah worked at the record store where Vance would go crate digging for vinyl. We soon realised we were into the same sort of music and, at that stage, Vance was already producing and had a few releases under his belt. We started DJing and writing together and in 2007 we released our first single “For Everyone” as the Aston Shuffle.
H: Who are you each listening to right now?
Mikah: I’m currently obsessed with Mac Miller’s album, ‘Swimming’. It’s a great shame he left the world so early. He was such an incredible talent. My favourite club record right now is Illyus and Barrientos, Shout. It’s a straight-up house banger!
Vance: I’ve been listening to heaps of Thundercat lately, basically on repeat.
H: Who are some of your influences? Inside or outside the electronic genre.
Mikah – I listen to a lot of 90’s R&B and Rap music produced by the likes of Dr. Dre, Timbaland and the Neptunes. I find myself referencing those records a lot. Personally, they’re so timeless to me. In the dance world, I’m inspired by the likes of Dom Dolla, Weiss, Riton, Pirupa and so many other house producers I could be here for days!
Vance: J Dilla is a huge influence, we would reference stuff of his in our early Aston Shuffle stuff and we still do to this day. Lately, I’m quite inspired by the production on Travis Scott’s albums as well, his stuff has a particular sound I’m finding myself trying to emulate from time to time.
H: You’ve remixed some of the biggest names in the industry; Avicii, Claude VonStroke, Green Velvet, Calvin Harris & Dizzee Rascal. What goes into crafting up a remix as opposed to an original?
The challenge with remixing big names like you’ve mentioned is to take a track by a great artist that people are already familiar with and try to put your own artistic spin on it. The great thing is having a palette to work from so our focus is on staying true to the artist and genre while having fun and making it distinctly ours. In comparison with writing an original track, it can sometimes be challenging starting from a blank canvas. An approach that often works for us on our own tracks is to spend a decent chunk of time writing chords and beats and then take those ideas into a session with a vocalist and see which ones they vibe out on most. At the end of those sessions, we’ll hopefully come out of it with potential song ideas that we can then take away and turn into Aston Shuffle ‘sounding’ songs. We find that open approach works well for us.
H: What is hosting “Friday Night Shuffle” like? Triple J is a huge deal down under, and to be running one of their biggest weekend shows is a big honor. What goes into that?
A lot of work goes into the show each and every week. On average we have to go through about 150-200 new songs in the lead up to the show. We play only new releases and make sure we cover as many dance genres as possible. We also push a lot of new unsigned artists music through Triple J’s unearthed site. It’s an amazing platform for artists to have their music heard on a broader national scale.
H: How does hosting your own radio show influence your own production/the direction of your music?
The radio show helps us stay on top of the constantly changing musical landscape. We’re always looking for new sounds to influence our own music but we are mindful not lot et that influence us too much. Every now and again a record or artist will blow up and become the musical focus for a period of time. For us, music is an extension of who we are so sincerity is key. So while we might be influenced by a particular artist or genre we always strive to make sure we have our own distinctive sound.
H: Some of the most brilliant minds in Electronic music are from down under, are there any fellow popular Australian artists you guys have relationships with?
The thing with Aussie artists is we’re all mates and super supportive of each other. If you look at who’s done remixes of our originals over the years you’ll see a huge list of our Aussie friends such as Dom Dolla, Rufus Du Sol, Flume and Tommy Trash to name a few. We’re constantly blown away by the quality of music our friends are producing. Artists like Hayden James, Anna Lunoe, LO’99, Wax Motif, and Cassian are all doing huge things on the global stage!
H: Did any of those friendships come from spending so much time at Triple J?
Our show on Triple J has definitely put us in touch with a lot of local artists but to be honest the friendships are more based around a mutual appreciation of each other’s music and appreciation of the ins and outs of being in the industry. We often hang out at the same shows or meet up in various countries while we’re doing tours overseas. In regards to the show, we’ve noticed that we’re playing a lot more Aussie dance music than ever before. It seems like the younger generation is really starting to resonate with dance music again post the explosion of EDM.
H: You two have been active for a while now, over ten years. How was the house music scene changed in that time?
When we first started getting into making house music we looked up to producers like Armand Van Helden, Paul Johnson, Todd Terry, Cassius and Daft Punk for inspiration. The crazy thing is 10 years on they’re all still the leaders of the house scene. Their music still sounds as fresh and feels as important as it did back then. Yeah, the internet changed everything in the way listeners consume music and how we produce and release it but the fact of the matter is that the original sound and ethos of house music still remain the same after all this time. House Music = Love and Unity man!!
H: What do you want your fans to know about your music in 2019? What’s next for the two of you?
We just released a new single called ‘Stay’ with our good friend Fabich featuring the incredibly talented Dana Williams on vocals. We’re so happy with the response so far. We enjoyed making that song a lot so to see people resonating with it as much as we do is a great feeling.
Last year we took a lot of time out to finish up the music we had been working on so 2019 is all about releasing that music. Stay tuned, we can’t wait for you all to hear it!
H: Thank you guys so much for speaking with us! Can’t wait for what’s to come from you two in 2019.
You can listen to The Aston Shuffle’s newest track “Stay” w/ Fabich here included in our Best of January playlist.