17.02.2016 | Words by: Alex Rigby
It is 1.40am and Elias Mazian is smirking. Out of the soundsystem bangs Maurice Fulton’s suitably named Down in the Dungeon (a track he’ll tell me that at least six people asked him to identify later that night), and it makes palpable waves in the mass of dancers on the basement floor. For a first outing, there’s a remarkable sense of familiarity with where he finds himself. He’s comfortable. He’s having fun. And evidently, he’s already at home.
For many in the downstairs of the club, the poise isn’t particularly surprising. Elias is a recognisable face, albeit in a new context. As former Trouw resident and highly respected local on city’s club circuit, he knows exactly how things work round here. His characteristically informed sets and warm selections have truly ingrained him into the city’s thriving underground scene. Walk round town on any given day and you’d be hard pressed not to see his name slapped to a wall or two.
I talked to Elias about his provincial success, and the first, of what is surely to be many, sessions at De School.
The concept of these nights is that a Dutch artist invites someone to come play alongside them. Why did you choose Shanti Celeste?
It’s something Luc and I did together. She’s been releasing stuff that I really like in the past year; she did a track on a compilation on the Future Times label that I love from the Beautiful Swimmers guys. Also, the way she plays in her Bristol Boiler Room - the tracks she mixed in that set really fit the way I play. She’s a bit more house-y than I am but her energy and fun-factor are so good. It’s really about fun. House music can be really serious. She’s not. That’s why we chose her.
There’s an idea of having nights come to a ‘natural’ conclusion here. How important is a concept like that to you?
It gives you a lot of space. In your mind whilst you’re playing, you don’t feel rushed. You can try out different areas and go into different directions. You can take people on a proper journey. I hate that cliche ‘journey’ shit, but it’s actually like that.
Yeah, the crowd doesn’t leave feeling unsatisfied...
Sure. There’s an easier feeling around selecting. After two hours you’re only really getting into it. With this club, it’s two DJs playing 3+ hours.
I feel like this is kind of inevitable question, but how did that Saturday compare to playing Trouw?
On saturday night that crowd was really loose. It’s dark in there so people are tending to dance earlier. At Trouw it took longer. I mean this area is maybe a baby of the two rooms at Trouw… I can’t say if I like it more as there are so many good memories at Trouw, but I was blown away on the first night I was there. At 7am when I was cycling home with my girlfriend I was like ‘I can’t wait until the next one.’
And the sound?
I think it’s better. I saw two people dancing with their backs to the DJ booth, totally lost in the music. That rarely happens. I feel like you can play stripped down tracks that bring up tension in a way that I haven’t been able to do since Trouw closed.
What about the crowd?
It was nice. I felt like they trusted me. They told me at the door it was 50:50, guys to girls. That’s great.
Do you think that’s because of a female DJ?
Maybe. I’m really enjoying the fact that there have been a lot of female DJs here so far. Resom, Jennifer Cardini, Molly… Sandrien is going to play soon. There are so many good female DJs right now. With a new place like this we can really push that forward.
Yourself, Job Jobse and Luc Mast are playing occasionally as The Love Triangle. How did this come about?
Luc and Job were friends before. Then Trouw came along. We met. Job heard me play on NYD once, and he liked it. Then we started hanging out. We had a few things in common, like Dutch hip-hop, and ‘anthems’ (Elias laughs). It felt good. We started playing sometimes as three DJs and it became something special. We all got an earring; It was pierced the same day as our first gig. If you don’t know us, that sounds so cheesy, but it was the moment! But yes, it’s all about joyful anthems. We all cross over and surprise each other. Job will play a typical Elias track, I’ll play a typical Job track, and so on.
Haha. What’s a typical Job track?
There’s a track from Christian S. called The Power of Now. That was typical Job track that I started to play.
And a Luc track?
He’s the biggest James Holden fan I know. Something by him.
In 2014 you released your debut EP on Tom Trago’s Voyage Direct. Can we expect to hear more productions from you in the future?
Yeah, I’m just finishing my second EP and it’s coming out before summer. And some tracks for an album on Voyage Direct. Tom’s one of my best friends; I love that label. There’s a new-wave, kind of italo track coming with me singing on it.
Finally, could you pick one record that you thought stood out from Shanti on Saturday night and one from yourself?
For Shanti - Where’s Jason K by Syclops. That’s like mine and Luc’s thing. I was standing in the booth at the end, and Luc was like ‘Don’t watch what she’s about to play! It’s about to explode.’ Then she played it.
For me, hmm… it was a track called Jah Bedouin by Martyn. That was the first thing I played when we went b2b at the end. It was quick. I’d finished at 123 bpm, and when I came back later in the night she was on like 128-129. If you play house music on a good soundsystem at that speed it gets really shuffle-y and energetic. So I mixed it it in. I put the bass on, and I was like wow. It really took me.