Good things often come in threes, and that’s certainly the case with the Thunder & Lightning EP, just released on Hot Creations, which sees Lee Foss, Detlef and Anabel Englund team up on an impressive collaboration.
The two-track release, which was unveiled last Friday, marks the first time that Foss has teamed up with Greek producer Detlef on a project, however the Repopulate Mars head honcho previously worked with house songstress Anabel Englund on tracks including Warm Disco and Brazil, among others.
Thunder & Lightning is available to stream/download here.
To mark the release, 909originals caught up with the trio, in a special three-way interview.
Thanks to you all for chatting to us. We’re nearing the end of an unprecedented year – how has it been for each of you? Did you find it was a productive period?
Lee: It’s been a great/fruitful year for making music. I can’t say it’s been a good year in terms of stress, or financially for musicians – or anyone for that matter except Jeff Bezos – but I think for the most part I’ve been able to focus on making, signing, and teaching music and to get closer to my family and loved ones.
There are things I would still like to get better at, but for the most part creatively I think I’ve done a good job.
Detlef: Yes, it’s been pretty strange. At times, I’ve been super productive and then at other times I would feel like not doing much at all. Since there haven’t been any gigs, I’ve had the time to experiment and try out different methods of production in the studio without any time pressure, so that’s a positive.
Anabel: So much has happened this year! In the beginning, I had a lot of anxiety around COVID, and the harsh reality of racism deep within the American system. It seemed like anytime something ‘new’ happened it was destructive and heartbreaking, and didn’t seem to have an end in sight.
Somehow the fear of it all lost it’s hold on me and I was able to put whatever I felt into action or let the anxiety go. I’ve been as safe as I can getting tested often and always wearing my mask. I’ve protested, marched and used my social media platform as a way to take action against racism.
Through all of that I found my creative flow again, started doing more and more sessions and met more producers and songwriters – virtually, of course. The year has been a rollercoaster but such a necessary one. I’ve gotten to know myself on a much deeper level than I ever have before.
Do you find that your approach to making music has changed this year – given that it might be a while before many of the tracks being produced are heard on a dancefloor?
Detlef: Yes. I’ve focused on involving more musical elements as people aren’t in the clubs anymore and are listening in cars and living rooms. As artists, we’ve had to alter our production style slightly to suit home environments like these.
Anabel: It’s changed in the sense where all my sessions are now done through Zoom, which is such a trip! I never would have thought this would be a reality.
Sonically, I still make music the direction my heart goes. I don’t really put limits on myself and what I can and cannot make despite the circumstances.
Lee: For me, I don’t know that it’s changed at all. I’ve been able to largely focus on non-dancefloor type tracks or songs that function as well for streaming as they do for DJs, but I’ve always made music like that.
I think I excel at songwriting and making music that is listenable as well as playable, and the trends have been swinging back that direction the last year or so anyway. With clubs and festivals closed, it kind of suited my style of writing and production.
Lee and Anabel, you have worked with each other quite a bit recently. Why do you think you work well together?
Lee: We’ve written a lot of great music together over the years, but I think this year has been especially good with Only the Gods, Warm Disco, Thunder and Lightning, I Have Synthed, and an upcoming release as well. I think we’re making the best music together we’ve ever made.
We’ve both grown as a team, and early in quarantine we were working together and still seeing each other as a part of a small group of people, so we had an advantage that we were able to be productive writing/recording/making music videos.
Anabel: We’ve known each other for almost ten years now and have grown individually and together as artists and friends. We also both like to fit a lot of words in spaces that most people wouldn’t. It’s always fun writing with Lee and making songs that are silly and weird. It’s fun to have that outlet and know that it exists. I’m very grateful for our friendship.
Detlef, you have a couple of releases on Repopulate Mars under your belt, but is this the first time you’ve worked alongside Lee, as well as Anabel? What is it about their productions that you admire?
Detlef: Lee uses a lot of analogue equipment in his productions and I really like the old school sound it achieves. Anabel is extremely talented. Her voice is incredibly unique and I’ve been a fan for a long time, so I’m really happy to finally collaborate with her.
Also, you recently launched the Issues imprint. What are your plans for the label?
Detlef: I had plenty planned for the label, but frustratingly it’s all been put on hold because of the pandemic. For now, I’ll continue to release music as life must go on. I owe it to the listeners to provide new music and keep them entertained.
Lee, this year marks ten years since Hot Creations was founded by yourself and Jamie Jones. How has the label’s approach changed, if at all, in the past decade?
Lee: I think Hot Creations will always be changing and trying to stay ahead of the curve. How much the label follows my taste will come and go, as Jamie has always had a bit more say than me. Rightfully so, as that was always going to be the case from when we started it.
I think with Hot Creations we really focus on finding and breaking new styles and artists but have an underlying quality that can’t be denied. I think ten years of running a vinyl and digital label of this quality is something to be really proud of!
Anabel, this has been arguably your biggest year to date, with a raft of hit singles and collaborations. Has that been somewhat bittersweet, given the fact that so much of the industry remains closed?
Anabel: OMG, it’s been definitely my biggest year to date. Career wise, I’ve loved this year so much. Of course it would be fun to be playing shows as well, but I don’t think it’s the time for that yet. I really trust where I am right now and why things worked out the way they did.
I felt relieved when everything got put on hold. It has been an opportunity to slow down with the entire world and take a breath and see what was working in my life and what wasn’t. Was I happy? What were my goals or was I just on auto-pilot?
This sudden stop of everything allowed me to look at all that and now I feel so rejuvenated and I see my future, what I want to do and how I want to do it. I have a choice now, whereas BC – Before COVID – I was just going going going without a moment to stop.
To all of you, how would you describe the new release, Thunder & Lightning?
Detlef: It’s magical! You can hear each of our distinctive styles in the record and the result is unreal.
Anabel: Playful, sexy, vibey.
Lee: I think it’s forward-thinking techno funk for the future. Date music for Cyborgs.
Last question… and this is one for you to get your thinking caps on. What sort of a dance music industry will emerge from the other side of the COVID-19 crisis, do you think?
Lee: I think it’ll be a challenging industry for promoters/venues for a few years, but people will be so excited to go out and hear music again that it will also be a really special time to perform, and to play all the songs that came out this year that no one heard.
Musicians and producers are making great music now and when people can hear it again live it will be sweet.
Anabel: Perhaps an authenticity to the artist that’s releasing the music. Maybe a rawness and humility we didn’t have before.
Detlef: I don’t think anyone can really say but I believe that things are only going to change for a short while and will go back to normal much sooner than anyone thinks.
House music culture can’t be changed – I don’t think any virus could ever do that.
[Thunder & Lightning is available to stream/download here.]