Meet the Winners of the DJ Harvey Remix Competition

We hear from winning duo Synth & Soda, who brought something extra to DJ Harvey’s original track.

4 min
DJ Harvey header image 3 1536x715
Sept 24, 2020
Cameron Holbrook

Here’s what DJ Harvey had to say about the competition and the winning track:

“I was so impressed and humbled with the response to the “Berghain” remix competition. I wasn’t quite expecting the number of entries received. It really gives insight into the range and state of the art of remix production today, with styles ranging from drum & bass, through trance, balearic, techno, and house. There were many standout pieces, and I think we now plan to release the best of the top 20 or so in the future to showcase these other styles submitted. It was a hard call, but in my mind, the winner was chosen purely from a creative standpoint. It includes most of the original elements, but it also has extra dimensions through the production with added instrumentation, which leads to a whole new take on the track.”

“Congratulations to the winners! I listened to all of the entries virtually blind of information, so purely on the music alone, it was great to now be informed some well-known and favorite producers of mine had also submitted. I’m delighted with the winning selection and have really enjoyed this process. Thanks to Beatport for facilitating, and congrats again. I hope you enjoy the great prizes that were generously donated by Moog, Genelec, iZotope, Loopcloud, Plugin Boutique, and Beatport.

Get to know our winners by checking out the interview below.

Synth Soda Feature image 1536x715

Congratulations on winning the Beatport x DJ Harvey Locussolus remix contest! How do you feel?

Danilo + Mario: Thank you so much! I definitely had to look twice when I saw the email! It feels a little unreal, like a shock. The night of the day I found out I didn’t sleep much. I could not wait until the next morning to call Mario. I am in NYC, he lives in Rome, but we celebrated via video chat! We believed in what we had created; we expected to be noticed, but certainly not to win.

How did you two first meet to form your duo, Synth & Soda?

Danilo (AKA Synth): Mario and I met back in 2006 in Rome when we were working in the same movie post-production studios as sound engineers. Mario is our violin maestro, a man of many hats. He is a composer, producer, and performing musician. Since the mid-‘90s, he’s been a trusty live sideman to Italian pop stars and he’s even performed in Roma with Nile Rodgers and Chic. In the studio, he has been the secret weapon for artists such as Norah Jones, Jovanotti, Max Gazzè, Ornella Vanoni, Daniele Silvestri, Ron, Antonello Venditti, and the seminal Italo Disco artist, Gazebo. He has been equally at home with his trusty violin throughout his career or with his bass guitar or drum machines and samplers.

Mario (AKA Soda): Danilo started DJing parties in Italy in 1986 at the age of 13 and later worked as a sound engineer in Rome at various music studios. In 2012 he moved to NYC, where he founded The Sound of New York City — an online radio station dedicated to the music from his adopted home, and a music production studio filled with vintage gear from his father’s collection. Since moving to the US, Danilo built a strong reputation as a club DJ, known for his relentless energy, meticulous technical expertise, and eclectic music selection, ranging from African rarities to Italo disco, all through the prism of classic old school sounds of Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and of course, New York.

What is it about the Locussolus track “Berghain” that first captured your imagination?

Mario: “Berghain” is a sea of ​​sounds and emotions that hits and drags you from the first second! DJ Harvey always manages to surprise me because his sound is very original. He combines sounds from different musical cultures and manages to make them live together beautifully! We imagined ourselves on the dance floor, overtaken by electric energy, so we did nothing but translate what we felt into this remix.

Danilo: I imagined Harvey playing the track, the way he mixes with aggressive effects, transporting you to a surreal dance floor experience, where you find yourself hypnotized by the eclectic selection of the master. I love how he can surprise me every time, and I am very, very picky! He is a huge inspiration.

Since the two of you are based in separate cities — NYC and Rome — how did you approach the remix’s production process?

Danilo: No sharing platform, no video chat, we just sent each other sessions, adding stuff, taking stuff out. We are not afraid to speak up and push each other in the right direction. Sometimes the first idea is coming from Mario, sometimes from me.

In this case, I saw the ad for the Harvey remix contest and suggested we play around with the tracks. I sent Mario a rough session with drums and a little harmony that I came up with, and I went to sleep. While I was asleep, he played a new bass line following the Moog melody and added some simple Rhodes lines, nothing fancy but good sounding. He also added this crazy electric violin riff, sent it to me, and he went to sleep.

The following day I had fun with a few synths and arpeggiators, I worked a bit on the arrangement, and I decided that a soft trumpet would be a great contrast to the heavy techy sounding elements. I decided to call up my friend Agu Gonzále (AKA Spanish Horn). One hour later, we had the trumpet part!

In this remix, we used electric violin, Fender Rhodes, Electric Bass recorded by Mario. Roland 303, Roland 606, Roland Jupiter 8, Roland 909, Roland JX-3P, Fender Rhodes, and Danilo’s percussion. We were almost late for the submission, but in two days, the song was done. The different time zone actually helped to make things faster!

Following the release of your track on the official ​Locussolus Remix EP ​on Harvey’s General Store​, what can we expect to hear next from Synth & Soda?

This past Sunday, we released our first single, “Back To Me.” We also have a couple of EPs ready to go. We were waiting for the right moment to put them out, and I guess that thanks to this unreal victory, the time will be soon. Stay tuned!

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