Must Be Brooklyn

Thus far in the build-up to our New York special on 25th September we have concentrated a great deal on the figures of New York’s music scene that have been around long enough to mature and earn the respect which we and many others pay them. But New York wouldn’t be such a vital place if everything exciting about it was consigned to the past, and as you’ll see from our list of top NYC tracks the city has produced possibly some of it’s best music within the past decade. Whether it stands the test of time is another question. In any case Wolf + Lamb is one of the best labels to come out of the city in recent years, and Gadi (who runs the label alongside Zev) kindly took the time out to answer a few questions.

Full disclosure: this interview was originally conducted for and published on the Warm blog.  He’ll be playing at Plastic People in London this Friday (September 17th).

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Gadi Mizrahi is one half of Wolf + Lamb, the production team and label that he runs alongside fellow Brooklynite Zev Eisenberg. The label was founded in 2006 but a change of tack from minimal to deep house has enabled them to bring their idiosyncratic take on dance music to a whole new audience in the last couple of years, with head-turning releases from some of the vanguard of today’s electronic music scene, including Seth Troxler and Nicolas Jaar. A unique producer in his own right (both alone and alongside Zev), Gadi has recently started a brand new label – Double Standard – which has thus far showcased two collaborative efforts from Gadi and Soul Clap, in addition to a release from No Regular Play’s Greg Paulus.

You’ve been DJing since around 2001. What were you involved with musically before that?

Yeah, I was in a few bands in high school, we were all in to Blind Melon, Pearl Jam, Nirvana etc.. I used to be lead singer, and played rhythm guitar. Funny cuz I started playing bass guitar recently, even use it in many of my tracks.

You and Zev have spoken a lot in the past about how important Burning Man was to the development of the Wolf + Lamb sound. This year’s edition has just finished: has it remained an important touchstone for both of you each year?

I think so. It reminds us of the vibe we should be going for. Many times on tour we get stuck in a “Club” environment, with people expecting it to sound like a club, but our whole MO in the past few years was to make things feel more intimate and friendly, and Burning Man each year grounds us.

How has the music policy at the festival developed over the past 2 or 3 years?

Actually, It’s been better this year then ever.

In 2007 you worked with Harlan Emil at Burning Man, with your party happening within the sculpture. Would it be fair to say that that kind of immersive experience is important to the way you do things? It seems to be reflected in the role of the Marcy (recording studio, living quarters, club, etc) and the Wolf + Lamb showcases that you’ve done in the last year or two…

Probably one of the most life changing experiences for Zev and I was going out to BM 10 days early to build a sculpture with Saul Melman and co. As for the label and the marcy, it’s all about a core crew wanting to help each other be and feel successful, everyone is totally supportive of each other.

The showcases came about out of necessity. Mostly because our artists (especially me) have a hard time slowing the tempo/vibe down after following an opener act. Most opener acts these days are just really trying to prove that they could bang it out (or that they could be great peak hour dj’s), so they leave you with some peak hour shit at the end of their sets, rather than being a good opener DJ and setting you up. So we decided to to have our agent book us the whole night from beg. to end, so that we could pace the night out ourselves.

The parties at the Marcy are a lot less frequent at the moment, and often unannounced until 24 hours before the show. What was the reason behind scaling things back? Was there a sense in which you needed to keep it from getting too popular? Someone told me about how the outside area has had to be shut down on recent occasions due to noise complaints…

The Marcy can only hold a few hundred people, and as of the last year it’s been tougher to keep word about it under wraps.
We are always really concerned that the right crowd, one that comes for the music come out, so we try different things to make it difficult to find out when things are happening, even just word of mouth sometimes.

How important has New York, or Brooklyn specifically, always been to the label? It’s always been pretty striking to me how you and DFA (for example) both seem to have managed to achieve a certain crossover appeal – both of you engage from time to time with certain pop sensibilities that contribute to this – but you both have quite different sounds. Is the music you make influenced in any specific way by living in Brooklyn?

Zev and I are both brooklyn born. Living in New York, we’re exposed to an abundance of every kind of music. So exploring different genres has been second nature to us. For better or for worse I also blame NYC for me getting bored of every genre quit quickly and looking for a new fix…hehehe

All of the artists that you release on Wolf + Lamb seem to make up a tight-knit family, has that sense of community always been important to you in the way that you run things?

Yes, absolutely. We don’t sign many new artists, we actually haven’t been accepting demos for a while now, I know that could seem pretentious, but, I keep on telling emerging artists to look for a local label, or start a label, because I believe that labels should be families that live near each other, to share ideas etc…

What releases can we expect on the Wolf + Lamb label in the coming months?

We are really excited about No Regular Play’s new release, both Zev, Deniz and I have remixes on it. We’re also very excited about the new artists we’re bringing up, “Voices Of Black”. I would describe their sound as “Moodyman on ketamine”

Tell us about the label you started this year, Double Standard.

DS is my baby. I love running labels, every aspect of it, so I decided to start my own. It’s vinyl only, so the tracks on it should be a bit harder to track down. It’s still “becoming”…I’m not sure what yet, but it’s been fun so far. I look at W+L’s sound as being pretty experimental, and I try to make DS even more experimental, take even more risks. I mean, being vinyl only I’m losing money anyways, so why not make it even more about music!

What has been the most valuable thing you’ve taken from your break from DJing and producing with Zev this year?

I realize how productive and efficient we work together, but I also need breaks in my life – from everything…

With Just One Night you’ve collaborated with Greg Paulus of No Regular Play. Is collaboration something that you enjoy more than working on music on your own?

Yes, I do enjoy collaborations more than working alone right now. I love working with greg because we’re best friends, and he’s a musician. Working with musicians rather than other producers who aren’t musicians is very different. Musicians seem to have an endless flow of ideas where as producers like myself, we experiment most of the time…

What releases of your own have you got coming up? Will there be new material with Zev soon or is that still something you’re both putting on the back-burner for now?

Yes, Zev and I have been working on a few remixes. We’re also moving in with Soul Clap for the winter – there are talks of a Wolf + Lamb vs Soul Clap DJ KICKS in the works… that should be fun.

Five records for Plastic People next Friday.

Antoine Dodson & The Gregory Brothers – Bed Intruder Song (feat. Kelly Dodson)
Axel Bartsch – Daight (Soul Claps og electro mix)
OutKast – SpottieOttieDopaliscious
Ron – Serious Edit
S.e.c.t. – M.E.S

Gadi Mizrahi – Love Fever Mix by warmhq

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