It’s extremely symbolic that Dan Solo and Evangelos Typist would be sitting alone in the unfinished basement of Local 522 conducting an interview while the March edition of Modern Math rages on in the floor above.
These two are both leaders ofCalgary’s burgeoning bass scene and the antithesis of it at the same time.
Both are members of the Rinseout Crew, the group responsible for bringing dubstep toCalgaryand helming the underground bass scene.
However, they also form “Sanctums,” an ambient cinematic hip-hop project completely removed from the sphere of electronic dance music.
The idea to start this project first came about a year ago.
“I think we were both at a place where we were kind of not entirely fulfilled with the state of electronic music,” says Solo.
“We wanted to make something outside of that world.”
“We wanted to make something that people who weren’t necessarily into electronic dance music could listen to.
“We were using all the techniques that we would use to make electronic dance music, but we had the intention of making something different, more musical, more downtempo, more for listening.”
With this goal in mind, the two set out to fuse their love of hip-hop, classical music and movie soundtracks into one project, with these influences present in every track.
“The sound of the album, it’s kind of like watching a movie,” says Solo.
“If you watch a movie with a really good sound track it all flows together, that’s kind of like how the album flows together. It exists for a film, but the film doesn’t exist.”
While these elements may seem disparate, they all play a role in the lives of both members.
“Beyond musical friends we watch movies together, we listen to hip-hop together,” says Typist.
Before electronic music, hip-hop was Solo’s original love.
“I was into hip-hop in the mid 90’s, then I got into electronica in the early 2000’s,” he says.
Typist, on the other hand, took a slightly different route.
“I have absolutely no background in hip hop, I’m like a hardcore kid from the ‘burbs,” he jokes.
After the two first met at a record store five years ago, Typist began attending Solo’s performances. This was his first encounter with hip-hop.
“He introduced me to that music and it became my passion as well,” says Typist.
Now the two both perform at Natural Selection, a hip-hop night on Saturdays atBrokenCitythat the two began last year.
Being able to escape to the world of hip-hop every week has given the two the room to take a critical look at the electronic music scene.
They’ve seen the scene grow from a small community comprised mainly of hipsters to the point where venues like the Big 4 are being packed by superstar DJ’s.
In their eyes, certain aspects of this growth and change have not been for the better.
“It’s pure commodification, the most extreme thing that goes against what music is about,” says Typist.
“It’s hyper-capitalism where music doesn’t mean anything. If a tune lasts a week it’s like a thousand years on the internet so people don’t really find the value in the songs.
“We wanted to escape that pressure, of having to write something that was fits into that context.”
“When you’re making electronic dance music, you have to follow all these parameters that current trends are saying,” says Solo.
This desire to escape was partially what led the duo to produce tracks at the hip-hop tempo of 77 beats-per-minute.
“We didn’t want to be anything that anyone else was doing,” says Typist.
“We didn’t want to do something that people could put in a box.”
After a year of work and redoing the album twice, the result is an album that’s made for everyday living. The two even incorporated ambient noise from Solo’s household into songs to relate the music to the environment it was produced in.
“It’s not ADD music,” says Typist.
“It’s not body music that makes you dance, it’s emotional music that makes you feel and think,” says Solo.
“I think that was our intention from the beginning, looking at our world and seeing how hectic it is and how ego-driven it is and how empty it is.
“We wanted to create a music that would maybe slow people down for a second and make them take a deep breath and make them reflect and maybe do some healing that is necessary in all our lives.
“We want this to be something for people to go into a personal place in themselves and heal and grow and reflect.”
To ensure that this happens, the duo decided to make the online download completely free.
Both artists agree that this year-long escape into the world of Sanctums has not only been beneficial spiritually, but it’s also had a positive effect on their activities in the world of electronic music.
Solo, ironically, has an electronic EP coming out the day after the release of Sanctum’s self titled debut.
According to him, if it weren’t for the production techniques he developed doing Sanctums, his electronic work would be nowhere near its current level.
“From the first half of 2011 to the second half of 2011, when you listen to songs that we produced, they sound like they were made by different people,” he says.
Even after the release of the Sanctum’s debut, the two plan on keeping the project going and taking it in new directions, always avoiding the “boxes” that music is so easily slumped into these days.
On the other hand, they will continue to perform at Modern Math and Northern Lights and showcase the avant-garde of the global electronic underground.
“At our most core level of who we are, we’re both just punks, we don’t like fitting in,” says Typist.
“And where we were fitting in with music at the time that we were writing this album, it was really frustrating and this album is a total breakaway. That’s about as punk rock as you can get.”
The Sanctums album release party is this Thursday, March 29th, at Understudy (1312 First streetS.W). Show begins at 7 p.m.