Text & Interview: Alec Coiro
Photo: Christopher Nelson
Our last conversation with the multi-talented producer Adult Karate was all about his album LXII, his production techniques, his collaborations with vocalists like Adaline, and his work with Radar Cult. When we checked back in more recently, the subject had shifted to Maloney’s DJing renaissance and rediscovering his DJ skill set while creating “Mirrors,” the Adult Karate mix that shines light on some deep dance cuts. As a track, “Mirrors” is an experience in the signature Adult Karate dark groove sound, and for those who love reading the virtual liner notes, it also serves as a way to discover a group of underground artists who share the Adult Karate vibe. The experience has also re-piqued Maloney’s interest in easing back into the DJing live, provided he can find a space that will allow him to ease the music in slowly (he wants to keep it below 117 bpm). So check out the mix on Ravelin, read our interview, and if you’re in the L.A. area, hopefully check his DJ set out live sometime not soon after.
When last we spoke, your last album had just come out and people were abuzz about the bright sounds of your collaboration with Adaline on “So Low.” Where did you take your sound from there? What new aspects can listeners hope to find on the new EP?
“So Low” was definitely the brightest and most upbeat sounding thing I’d ever done. It was an experiment that worked out really well and getting Adaline to sing on it was such a blessing. She is really fun and easy to work with, and of course her voice is like butter mixed with diamonds. The rest of the tracks on LXII were much more melancholy and a bit subdued, which is what I was going for at the time. But the experience creating “So Low’ taught me that it’s okay to be upbeat sometimes. So for the new Indoors EP I wanted the whole “upbeat” vibe to be a little more consistent throughout. And I also wanted to get more into song structure, instead of making songs that were structured more like 12” dance tracks. So there’s a few soaring choruses on the new EP. And of course, I had to collaborate with Adaline again on a track because how could I not?! She’s too good.
Can you tell us about how you put “Mirrors” together?
A few months ago I was able to get some CDJs and a mixer after not having DJ equipment for many years. So this mix is the sound of me in my bedroom, falling in love with DJing again. I didn’t realize how much I missed it all these years. Although, instead of going to record stores and thumbing through endless piles of vinyl, now I can dig deep into Bandcamp, SoundCloud, etc. and find so many gems that may not even make it on to vinyl. The amount of new and exciting music that is coming out every day is mind boggling in the very best way. For DJing, I like stuff that is funky and dark with lots of analog sounds. Like disco but for sad people. And I’m very lucky to have access to so much of it!
What’s your connection to the artists featured in the mix? Have you met or worked with any of them?
I opened the mix with a track called “Shoreline Fade” by Engine Farm, which is one of my favorites from the past year. I found Engine Farm on SoundCloud after he commented on one of my tracks and I instantly fell in love with his sound. I reached out to him to remix “From The Dust” from my new EP and I was so happy he agreed to do it. He did an awesome remix and I just love how he is super into the sound of analog tape. He’s constantly adding tape hiss into his music, dubbing stuff to tape and then changing the speed… it’s these little details that really add to the experience as a listener. I hope he blows up because he deserves it more than anybody I can think of at the moment. I’m simply a fan of the other artists featured. I don’t know any of them personally…yet.
Do you DJ in L.A. (and elsewhere)? How closely would something like “Mirrors” approximate one of your DJ sets?
I used to DJ at a lot of underground raves and house parties in L.A.. But ever since I started messing with synths and DAWs, I stop pursuing DJing because I realized that making the music from scratch was what I really wanted to do. So I don’t actively seek out gigs anymore, but now that I have DJ gear again, I’m going to start. DJing live can be really, really fun. I’d love to find a party or club night where I could play a set like “Mirrors” and not get flak for starting at 105 bpm and never going above 117bpm!! I’m definitely capable of playing a set of stuff at a more “traditional” bpm. But in a perfect world I’d play for two hours, start really slow and just keep progressing and increasing the tempo the whole time. Kind of like sex.
Did you imagine a certain listener or listening context when you created “Mirrors”?
My hope is that the mix can work simultaneously on the dance floor, in the car late at night, or in headphones while working or studying. Or maybe someone who is studying while driving through the desert late at night, while actively dancing in their seat. But I guess ultimately I wanted to create a mix that someone like me would love.