Southport resident writer Angel Mel catches up with Rhemi, the soulful duo of Ziggy Funk and Neil Pierce, ahead of the latter’s set in the SuncéBeat Dome at The Big 50.
There have been many famous duos over the years… ‘The Two Ronnies’, ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, which famous duo most reflects your partnership and why?
Brandy and Coke, as it always helps with the inspiration in the studio.
Rhemi is such a cool name. What does it mean and where did it come from?
It comes from the love of a particular brandy, but we just changed the spelling to make it more unique to us. I bet that wasn’t what you was expecting ha ha!
Ziggy and Neil you are both respected producers and DJs in your own right. How did the Rhemi partnership come about?
Neil: It all started with Ziggy co-writing songs for me on numerous projects which lead us to start collaborating on some original material. After a few sessions together we realised that we really clicked in the studio together and decided to make it and official partnership and out popped Rhemi.
When creating magic in the studio, how do you work together on each track? Who does what?
It all really depends on what we are working on that day, whether it be a original or remix. When it comes to originals the beat is always our foundation, and we carry on and build from there. We love doing original projects as its a blank canvas and we can explore sounds a lot more.
Ziggy is a multi talented Musician who play; Keys, Guitar and Bass, so obviously that helps us lay down ideas on the fly. Neil tends to work a lot on individual sounds to get them perfect for the track, and is great at working with vocalists. There’s no real set format to who does what (apart from making the tea, which is Ziggy’s job). All in all it’s a joint effort where we bounce ideas off each other. We allow each other creative freedom without the need to have set formulas or boundaries in which we work from.
Can you describe what it is about the Rhemi production that makes it stand out from the crowd?
We’re influenced by a lot different sounds, and for us we’re just trying to make good house music without being held into any particular category. Rocking beats and baselines are things that move us both, so that tends to be at he fore front of our music. As DJ’s, as well as producers, it’s also important to us that each record has a special moment which we know that will connect to the dance floor. When making a record we always ask ourselves these three questions:
1) Would we buy it ourselves?
2) Would we dance to it in a club?
3) Would we recommend this to anyone else?
I refer to Rhemi as having the Midas touch. Neil & Ziggy you have been responsible for some of the biggest dance floor anthems of 2013; ‘Warning’ with the unmistakeable vocal talents of Lynn Lockamy, the gospel vocal sensation ‘Hairy Mary’ (love to know how you came up with that name)? As well as countless quality remixes. For some artists, music block can be a real issue, especially after releasing successful tracks. How do you ensure that your tracks continue to turn to gold?
Thanks, obviously 2013 had been great year for us with a lot of success. It is very easy to get obsessed with the mentality to always make a hit. But we always have the mind set of making good music in the fore front , keeping a high quality control is also important and also not getting complacent and having the attitude to learn and develop more in our productions. We, like so many other producers have mental blocks when producing, but have learnt that when it’s not coming together to just scrap the project and start from fresh again! Just so you know “Hairy Mary” was named after one of our closet friends, as that’s the nickname we have for her ; )
The use of sampling tracks is still very much a common practice. I noticed you had sampled Yasuko Agawa L.A. Nights on your track ‘Holloway nights’. How does the use of sampling on some tracks enhance your music?
Sampling for us can be used in different ways. It could sometimes be the hook of the record that draws you in, or just as a loop to build upon to the point where you don’t even recognise the original sample. We try to always be creative when sampling is the main hook, as this is the main thing that people are drawn too and in some respects gives the tracks its identity.
Your back catalogue is looking impressive. I wonder if there were any particular tracks you loved making and which tracks were a beast to finish?
”Hairy Mary” and ”Dooms Day” were the most enjoyable to work on. We caught a vibe straight away and all the ideas seem to fall right into place instantly and took no time at all to finish which is always great. As for tracks that are a beast to finish, it tends to normally be our remixes for others that take the longest. it could sometimes take it up to a month to finish, as we go through so many ideas and grooves to find the one that marries well with the vocal. It can be very easy to give up and scrap the project at this point but we only take on projects that we know for sure we can do a great job on. Otherwise we see it as a waste of time for us as we don’t like to produce substandard material.
Neil, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on being selected to play at much coveted event Southport Weekender. Some might say that performing at Southport Weekender, is the pinnacle of their career. What does it mean to you to be given the Golden ticket to DJ at such a prestigious event?
Neil: Thanks Mel. It’s an absolute honour to be back on the Southport line up. The last time I played there was 5 years ago now, and I know that they only really choose DJ’s that that think are relevant, so it kinda validates all the hard work I’ve put in over the last couple of years. It’s the biggest festival of it’s kind in the world, so yes it is the pinnacle to many of us DJs. I seriously cannot wait to get up there and give it my 100%.
Ziggy, picture this if you will. It’s Saturday night in the club, everybody is in good spirits. doing their little two step and enjoying the vibes. Then you drop ‘Warning’, the tune that launched a thousand footsteps to the dance floor and the place erupts. Can you describe what it is like for you to see and hear people losing themselves in a track you helped to create?
Ziggy: Its great to see a great reactions from the crowd to the music you have been part of making. It gives me great energy and great inspiration to do more and strive in the work we do and go back and try new things that we feel people are going to like for years to come.
2013 was a tremendous year for Rhemi, if you had a crystal ball what would 2014 have in store for you? Do you have any more exciting projects in the pipeline?
We just want to continue growing our Rhemi brand. This will include introducing a live element to our shows, bringing through new artists on our record label and launching a Rhemi club night. As far as releases go, you can look out for remixes for Joey Negro, Rejoice Records, Terry Hunter and DJ Spen, as well as a ton of original material.
It is always good to finish on a song.
Ziggy, what 3 tracks best reflect your personality?
1) St. Germain – Rose Rouge
2) Michael Jackson – Working Day and Night
3) Nas – The World Is Yours
Neil, what 3 tracks will make it on to your Southport playlist?
Neil: I never pre plan my sets and always try to go with the vibe and energy of the room. One thing I’ll guarantee that I will be dropping some Rhemi exclusives : )