5th Day Residents Revealed: Abstract Man
The final part of our 'Residents Revealed' feature (3/3) brings Abstract Man to the limelight, a project uniting two hungry minds on a journey of exploration and discovery through the realms of techno.
"Some artists choose to hide their identities with a mask; we chose to come up with a creative outlet that is neither of us, but both of us at the same time, enabling us to create some distance from our own separate identities and egos and join forces to create a “being” with its own voice, which is always evolving."
With two EPs to be released within the next several months, and with an increasing number of memorable performances under their belts, exciting times lay ahead for the duo who share their journey so far here.
Support Abstract Man here:
Where did Abstract Man come from?
Katie: About five years ago I was starting out on a new chapter of my life and I was hungrier than ever to take my love for electronic music to the next level, a love that had been ignited when I was about 11. The dancefloor had always been a place of total freedom for me – where I could really connect with myself and with music to new, amazing levels; I could feel myself coming out of my shell more and more every time I went out to soak up music, and at home my decks and I were good friends, but it was a relationship confined to my bedroom. At the beginning of that new chapter in my life I suddenly found myself ready to step things up, to shift the focus and explore whether I could take people on a journey by being on the other side of the decks. I stumbled across Mantas and Egle’s DJ’ing school in Shepherds Bush and Mantas became my mentor, and here we are!
Mantas: Over time we found we were inspiring each other more and more with our individual sounds, and that our tastes were evolving in a very similar direction. We also both happened to be suffering a lot as over-thinkers, where you run the risk of thinking rather than feeling your way, which can be very stifling creatively. With time Katie and I recognised this in ourselves and in one another and one evening, we decided this made sense – to collaborate. Some artists choose to hide their identities with a mask; we chose to come up with a creative outlet that is neither of us, but both of us at the same time, enabling us to create some distance from our own separate identities and egos and join forces to create a “being” with its own voice, which is always evolving. Abstract Man allows us to explore and create more freely; it encompasses parts of us both, but it’s not about either of us independently. The creative process is now a shared one. Working in this way has meant we can support each other on a journey – and keep a watchful eye on the overthinking!
Tell us about the dynamics of playing as a duo. Is it different to playing solo; does being in-sync take work?
Going from a teacher/student dynamic to an artistic collaboration was a journey, that’s for sure, during which we both learnt a huge amount about ourselves and each other. You have to be ready and able to communicate very openly, be comfortable and even better, warmly welcome any disagreements that come up with open arms, as well as recognising and letting go of your ego so decisions are made for the right reasons.
We’re very in tune now musically – our taste and vision is 95% identical, and we're glad and grateful for that remaining 5% which is is really healthy too. We got to the point we're at now very organically, but it took time and patience and we had to agree not to rush things – to keep exploring until we found a distinctive sound and style that we both connected with. This happened after nearly 18-months of studio time and 50+ tracks which probably won’t see the light of day, but we’re okay with that.
In terms of playing out as a duo, we put a lot of time into prepping – finding music, selecting tracks we both connect with which each say something that helps Abstract Man to communicate a message. Digging takes a lot of time time, to find the gems, but its definitely an enjoyable process and we know what we're looking for: a certain feeling which is quite instinctive. Of course, it’s all about a tracks’ place in a wider journey – the narrative behind a set is very important to us – conveying a story and hopefully igniting something special for our listeners through that story.
We're at an exciting stage because we’re now ready to spice up our performances. We’re craving more - other ways of feeding off of each other’s creativity in the moment, perhaps via more of a hybrid set and so on. This is the next phase of things but it was important for us to wait until it felt like we were ready to evolve – rather than forcing it because we felt we should.
You’re making music in the studio and will be releasing a series of EPs imminently. What can we expect from your sound and what influences have been shaping it?
Of course there a lot of influences behind Abstract Man, but the important thing is that it now has its own voice – one which is constantly evolving as we continue to learn about ourselves, each other, discover new sounds, improve technically etc. Each EP we release will have a new twist, exploring different sides to us individually and as a collaboration. We’re not married to anything too specific although we definitely like things groovy with lots of texture and trippy elements.
The first EP will be out before the end of the year and includes a remix by Mike Parker, a huge inspiration for us. The second EP will see the light during the first half of 2018 and features a remix by Von Grall – up there as one of our favourite producers!
You’re two of the minds behind On the 5th Day. Organising events and running the podcast series takes a lot of time and effort, what motivates you?
As it says on our new website (shameless plug), On the 5th Day is a means of sharing our love for the underground electronic music scene, and the artists and sounds which inspire us, via events, a podcast stream and a label (coming soon). We have a simple mission which is to build a family of trusting and dedicated music appreciators and to create opportunities for them to connect with the music they love.
So yes, On the 5th Day is absolutely a passion project, which doesn’t come without its pressures and stresses of course but at the end of the day, what motivates us is quite simply a love for the music. The three of us behind the project are very close, so the fact we get to work together on something we care so much about is very motivating.
Our nights are also perfect for Abstract Man to play at, which of course makes a lot of sense given how this has all been shaped, but that’s an added motivation. Not to mention the fact the events and podcast series provides us all with the opportunity to interact and connect with artists who inspire us - that’s pretty amazing too
How do you design lineups for 0T5D? Is the vision always the same; what makes your formula distinctive from the techno on offer in London?
Our own personal tastes and connection to music plays a critical part in our artist selection. We’re about an artist’s sound rather than their name – both from a production perspective, of course, but more importantly from a DJ’ing / performance perspective – someone who we can trust to deliver behind the decks, with understanding of how to tell a story and take the room on a journey.
On the other side of things, we like to shape interesting line-ups where artists will potentially ignite something unique in another, pulling out a particular side of another artist’s sound, or complimenting their sound in a particular way. We try to think about the event as a whole, each artist as a piece of a puzzle. Of course, this approach is a gamble and a risk, but one we embrace in order to try and create a memorable night. So, for example, we won’t just put the biggest or most well-known name on the peak or closing slot, we’d rather be led by the artist’s sound and overall journey of the night. So in October, you might expect Etapp Kyle to close but we’ve given that slot to Takaaki Itoh, as we have no doubts this will allow Takaaki to really stretch his legs behind the decks.
We’re also looking at how we can incorporate more and more lesser-known, up and coming artists on our line ups, something which we've made a focus of our nights so far, but we want to step this up even more going forward. Now that we're beginning to built up trust in On the 5th Day to deliver, and we have quite a clear sound, people will hopefully trust our choices, even if they don’t recognise all of the names; they’ll be intrigued to come along to experience something/someone they might not otherwise know.
What are the signs that an OT5D party is really delivering as you’ve intended?
Simple, when the vibe is there… when you can tell people are connecting with the music and with each other and there is an electricity in the air. Success for us feels very instinctive and we’re usually always on the same page with this.
When we hear positive feedback from artists we book that is a big sign of success too. Perhaps they could feel they were in front of a really trusting, hungry and open-minded crowd which enabled them to really let go, and it’s clear that they On the 5th Day gig was a memorable, positive one for them. This makes us really happy.
Finally of course, when we hear that people come from across Europe to our events – that’s pretty special! The 5th day family is growing all the time and we’re seeing more and more familiar faces which is great and definitely a sign of a successful project.
All time favourite tracks question… 3 please?
Three tracks which have played a big part in shaping Abstract Man so far:
Abstract Man will be opening room one at our October event on the 21st, with Etapp Kyle, Takaaki Itoh and YYYY.