SHDW & Obscure Shape: “The art is now much more in creating one’s signature sound”

There are so many things happening in SHDW & Obscure Shape’s universe right now. One of the most appreciated producers duo in the techno industry is in a constant movement, strongly focused on new self-improvement possibilities and artistic expression. Marco Blaesi and Luigi Urban work not only on their own productions, but also create a space for other musicians to grow and develop their style.

Their new label, Mutual Rytm, has already signed contracts with artists like Lars Huismann, Alarico or Chlär – and it’s still just the beginning of its plans. Let’s check how exciting (and inspiring) the future is, seen and described by SHDW & Obscure Shape.

The grand opening of Polish music festival season 2022 belonged to Instytut Festival – one of the most anticipated events, since the beginning of the pandemic year. Famous not only for its unique location, historic Modlin Fortress, the event is known for its unique atmosphere, fantastic hospitality and the crowd full of passionate ravers. Everything starts with the music, and it’s actually Instytut that pays the biggest attention to the diversity and “trendsetter sense” of its line-up. SHDW & Obscure Shape performed there for the very first time and we just couldn’t stop ourselves from asking a couple of questions about this amazing event and promoter.

Agata Omelańska, T-Mobile Electronic Beats Poland journalist, asked Marco and Luigi about the event itself – but also about their biggest inspirations, emotions in the process of creating music and the future of clubbing & festivals.

Agata Omelanska: Marco, Luigi, for many years we heard some rumors about the famous “dusk of the techno era”; it is said that this genre became repetitive, can’t redefine itself so easily, as it’s quite limited, and it’s about to collapse soon. Is it true? What’s your opinion about it, has electronic music really reached the glass ceiling and it’s extremely difficult to create something new?

SHDW & Obscure Shape: Hi guys! First of all, thank you very much for the invitation. In our opinion, techno can no longer be reinvented. It’s either genre crossovers or further refinements, which define some slight sort of re-invention. Unfortunately, there is not much room left for innovation in music production in general – every melody and every rhythm has been played by now. The art is now much more in creating one’s signature sound.

But it’s also good that you can’t really reinvent techno, because this genre of music connects different cultures since many years, and stands for certain principles, because the music is the way it is. Electronic dance music is a language that is understood all over the world, and we should be incredibly grateful for that.

You belong to the electronic music creators world, where the lyrics are very rare, the production is based on mechanical sounds of machines and tracks seem to be emotionless. But there’s also another side of cool, distanced and measured by BPM rhythm of techno music – I mean, the extremely complex inner world. How do you work with emotions in the process of production? Is it possible to separate them from your music or it’s completely opposite – you draw a lot of inspiration from them?

We take the greatest inspiration from our emotions and let them guide us in the studio as well. Separating emotions from music is almost impossible for us. We can’t hide or minimize our current mood, because music is also something very personal and valuable. With music, we can express ourselves and, at the same time, open ourselves up fully in a way that is not possible for us otherwise. Our best tracks are made out of an emotion. It’s similar with the song selection when listening to music, isn’t it? When you are newly in love, the sun is shining and you are just happy. You are less likely to listen to Justin Timberblake’s Cry Me A River or any other tearjerker.

Techno music seems to find a universal language of communication between the dj and the crowd – they’re sharing the same vibe, no matter if it’s in the club, in the warehouse rave or in a festival. Have you ever experienced this kind of connection with your audience? Is the famous “rave energy exchange” just a myth, and the music should be put on the first place, overall?

The music should always come first, it gives the artist and the crowd an incredible amount of energy that makes you fly through the night, which is why this myth is true. We have experienced this ourselves countless times and are always amazed by it. You feel completely exhausted from the travel and lack of sleep, but the energy level of the crowd in the club makes you forget everything, so that time even flies by. Sometimes it’s really unbelievable, but without this energy exchange, many DJs would struggle with their touring schedule.

Speaking about the energy – you’ll be performing soon at Instytut Festival in Modlin Fortress, the event famous for its unforgettable atmosphere, lovely audience and great promoters. Are you happy to visit Poland again? Is there something that you can’t wait to experience here, and what makes your blood run faster?

Poland is one of our favourite countries to DJ in, so we are really looking forward to playing at Instytut Festival, as we haven’t performed in Poland for a few months now. The audience has an incredible energy level, is very warm-hearted and, above all, open to new things, which we really like. We can’t wait to finally present our live set in front of a Polish crowd one day. That will take some time, but it will definitely be something special. What not only makes our blood flow faster, but has already cost us both a few brain cells, is the vodka Soplica.

Polish techno scene observed from an international perspective. What’s your perception of Polish artists, producers, promoters? And who do you consider the most important & influential right now?

The Polish promoters are very hospitable, helpful and also very professional in handling an event. We always feel very welcome and highly appreciated, which is why we also have a close business relationship with many promoters, who have booked us in the past. It is very important to us to have a good relationship with them and to respect each other. We have often noticed that many club and festival line-ups in Poland pay a lot of attention to the quality and diversity of the musical program.

We think it’s great that promoters dare to do something, pay attention to quality and don’t just book sure-shots. It’s hard for us to name the most important and influential promoter, because many clubs and festivals do a great job over here – the scene has really blossomed in the past years.

Unfortunately, we have to admit that we don’t know too many Polish artists and producers. Deas is probably on everyone’s radar right now, and we’ve known him for a while. He recently released a great record on Chris Liebing’s label CLR. We really congratulate him on his success, as he has always been very passionate and ambitious. Blazej Malinowski is also a great producer, we really like his deep and hypnotic sounds. We discovered Sept only recently, as he has released various EPs on the Berlin label Voxnox. However, the most influential techno producer from Poland for us is Echoplex. His unique sound has definitely shaped the techno scene over the last two decades and has served as a source of inspiration for many artists, including us.

The role of the crowd in the club or at the festival. The pandemic time has shown us that it’s possible to perform without the audience, and many streaming djs and producers have become more popular on the internet and in social media. What do you think about on-line festivals or events of hybrid formula? Is it really the future of music?

No, we don’t believe that online festivals or events are the future of music. The experience you have at a club or festival and the emotions that go with it are something very special and can never be replaced by a virtual event. In case you don’t have the opportunity to visit your favourite artist in a club or at a festival, a livestream is of course a great thing. However, it won’t come close to evoking the emotions and replacing the experience of a real dance event.

Livestreams are a cool promotional tool for social media channels, but that was the case even before the global pandemic. Many promoters used this tool for many years already to raise awareness of their events. During the pandemic, livestreams were one of the few ways to entertain fans musically and visually with interesting content. And a set where you can watch your favourite artists mixing is of course more engaging than a simple soundcloud upload.

Here, of course, some artists have been more successful than others, because not everyone feels comfortable performing in front of a camera without an audience. We ourselves are not fans of livestreams without an audience, because we are missing the energy and inspiration that we take from the crowd.

Thinking about the future: you’ve just made a huge debut with your own label, Mutual Rytm, congratulations! It’s still the beginning of the label and you already have Lars Huismann and Grindvik on your board. You keep the standard very high – what are you looking for in received demos? How to become one of your artists?

Thank you very much! Honestly, we’ve approached all the artists who we work with so far on Mutual Rytm ourselves. Music always comes first for us, which is why the quality standard is very high and we spend a lot of time looking for new talent. Of course, we also try to include established producers alongside up-and-coming artists, as we want to bring together different generations and artist profiles on Mutual Rytm. Every now and then we listen to demos we have received, but we already have a release schedule planned far in advance and we also aim for long-term cooperation with all our artists, as we want to provide them a platform with the label where they can express themselves freely. We also want to grow together with them and support them in all ways possible and as far as it lies in our power.

Therefore, our capacity for new artists is currently at its limit, as we have signed great artists to Mutual Rytm in the last two years and there is an incredible amount of good music by Lars Huismann, Alarico, Chlär, Chontane, Invexis, Raffaele Attanasio and more to be released in the next few months. However, should we have availability again in the future, it is already half the battle if we play tracks from the artist in our sets, are already in contact and, at best, the demo email is longer than one or two sentences with a private playlist in which the tracks do not already have countless plays.

The electronic music genre that never goes out of style, is always fresh, timeless and inspiring is called… (and why?)

House and Techno music! These two styles are more than just a musical genre, they are a cultural movement. They stand for a philosophy of their own, based on the principles of peace and tolerance, sexual freedom and hedonism. Values that are more important today than ever before. That is why these genres will never go out of fashion

…and similar question regarding arts different from music. What inspires you the most in your daily work, apart from sounds?

There are many things that inspire us in our daily work. We like to be inspired by the impressions and the people we meet while touring. In addition, we also spend a lot of time in nature, where we are particularly impressed by the high mountains and the deep forests. There is something magical and mystical about it at the same time. We are also inspired by good food and people from our close environment, such as our grandmother, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday!