First crossing creative paths back in 2014, long-time Circus fan and attendee, Bontan, reached out to Yousef offering his remix services. The end result was a fiery rendition of Louis Proud’s ‘So Many Promises’.
Since then, this friendship has blossomed and grown stronger everyday. Later that year, such a connection led to Yousef travelling to Bontan’s home studio to tweak some sultry vocals for a track on his third album.
Never ones to fizzle out of creative juice, the pair have locked their innovative horns more recently as they teamed up for their latest release, ‘The Nasty’. A Chicago-charged firecracker, their second collaboration showcases the melodic genius of Bontan with some uncompromising flavour from Yousef.
We caught up with both Yousef and Bontan to discuss their relationship together, the production process behind ‘The Nasty’ and their forthcoming dates in Ibiza.
The two of you have teamed up to release the ‘The Nasty’ EP. How did the recent collaboration come about?
Bontan: We had planned to do another record together for quite some time since we released a track together a couple of years back. I sent Yos over the idea for the track, then he finished it up his end.
Yousef: Bontan sent over some melodic parts and was wanting to do something more musical, but I had other ideas and turned it into something, well, nasty!
This isn’t the first time the two of you have worked together. How did you both initially meet and how long you have been working together?
B: I was a regular at Circus in Liverpool. I would go to as many events as possible and eventually I started hanging around with the team there. Then Yos asked me to do a remix a few years back for the label, which did really well. We’ve been working together ever since!
Y: I first met Bontan when I played a random gig for him in Southport for a bit of fun, the gig was in a dive bar, just before Christmas but it was great. We stayed in touch via Circus events, and eventually I went to his studio and we made a really accomplished track, ‘Believe’, with ‘The Angel’. He’s been part of the Circus crew ever since in my eyes.
Yousef, you have been on the music scene for 20+ years, whereas Bontan you’re relatively new, collecting the ‘Best Newcomer’ award at the 2017 DJ Awards. What has it been like to work alongside each other?
B: For anyone growing up in the electronic music scene in Liverpool, getting the chance to work with one of the most respected artists from Liverpool to hit the global stage is a true honour.
Y: For me it’s about vibes, Bontan is clearly talented and fresh but more importantly, he’s a good person and quite a Photoshop artist, so he’s great to have around.
How would you both describe the relationship between yourselves?
B: We spend most of our time sending each other questionable pictures on WhatsApp in truth.
Y: We talk music, eating habits and send each other photographs of things that would get us arrested in some countries.
Can you tell us a little more about the inspiration behind the EP?
B: I came up with the melody hook, but I knew it needed Yousef’s ‘nasty’ factor. He really took it to the next level with his thumping drums and arrangement!
Y: I didn’t know what we were going to do, we did this one remotely, so I just let rip, got the machines out and even got the mic out for the vocal hook. For me it’s one the best tunes I’ve released.
You both have different music styles, how did this work when it came to collaborating on the track?
B: I’d say this is probably a perfect blend of our styles. Melodic but absolutely slamming. It takes no prisoners!
Y: My style is the full spectrum of house and techno, from deep house to thumping techno but always with energy and funk and sometimes poignant, I think this track has all those parts.
What was the production process like for the creation of the EP?
B: I used my Moog for the lead and the bass and came up with a rough arrangement. Then sent the stems over to Yousef who flipped the track and took out the bits he liked and added his unique style to it. Along with a ripping vocal!
Y: Yes, I got the melodic parts, I happened to be in a friend’s studio in London when they arrived so we got out his old drum machines and his 909 and built the drum kit. I added more parts and arranged it again at home and then sent it for a super powerful mix down, and BANG, it was done. So quite a process compared with normal.
B: I’ve been coming to Ibiza for 12 years now. It’s my favourite place on earth. It’s cliché to say it’s magical but you really do feel it when you step off the plane.
Y: Yes this is my 20th year in Ibiza, I used to love the randomness of it all, the wild west, nomadic vibes but sadly they are almost gone now, I don’t want to be down on Ibiza as I still love it and the gigs are great, varied and plentiful, but its been purified and placed on the high street now. You’ll catch me at DC10, Amnesia, Ushuaia and Privilege this summer.
Yousef, you have been playing in Ibiza for many years now, as well as having a residency at Space. How would you say that Ibiza has changed over the years?
Y: I love that the island is more organised in some ways but it’s come at a cost, its spirit has been replaced with VIP “culture” and its heartbeat is being ripped out by the desire for wealth. The people that make Ibiza “Ibiza” can no longer afford to live or work there, the island is eating itself alive with such astronomical price rises. The music is still good, however although if I’m honest the need for a “big dancefloor moment” seems to now be more important than the night out as a whole – which defeats the point of the Ibiza experience. I guess that’s reflective of the instant social media culture we are all guilty of encouraging.
I still very much love Ibiza and the gigs are great, but part of me feels genuinely sad that its now finally made the real Ibiza people (from all over the world) feel almost unwelcome.
B: I’ve got a remix for Groove Armada coming up next. Then a remix for Hottrax and a couple of originals before the year is out. Then finishing up the year on a USA tour then over to Australia for a tour over Christmas and New Year.
Y: Constant touring, running Circus Recordings, running Circus events, finishing my fourth artist album and being an excellent dada!
Yousef and Bontan’s ‘The Nasty’ EP on Circus Recordings is available to purchase now here. You can listen below: