January 8, 2021 | Guest Mixes

#96 Steffan Todorović for Deeprhythms

Mixed by: Steffan Todorović
Location: Tallinn, Estonia
Gestalt Records Soundcloud

My Coymix Ltd label partner in crime, the Gestalt Records & Hidden Assets main man and ½ of the Abdul Raeva production duo (and an overall super nice guy) sat down for a chat and record his 2nd guest mix for the DR series (1st one here, under the Gestalt Recs. alias). Currently residing in Tallinn, Steffan is keeping himself busy with all things related to music. 

Before we continue to the interview, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Steffan for all the support he gave me when I started Echocentric (and continues to do so) and for being the stand-up label partner he is with Coymix Ltd. Glad to have you as a friend.

Hi there my man, how’s things? Can you introduce yourself briefly to our listeners?

Hey. My name is Steffan, I’m 31, currently residing in Estonia and working full-time as a quality analyst. I co-run Gestalt Records, Coymix Ltd and Hidden Assets, while also putting out music as Abdul Raeva, together with my buddy Joonas.

What’s been keeping you busy of late?

When I’m not busy with work it’s all about label management - answering a lot of emails, making sure orders are being shipped, planning future releases and listening to a lot of demos.

On the production-side it’s mostly Jo who does the studio hours, while I handle the external part of it.

The DJing is pretty low-key as I’m not really so into clubbing any more. I do have a few club-gigs from time to time, although I generally prefer sunny daytime sets.

What drove you to electronic music in the first place?

I didn’t get into electronic music until quite late actually. In the early 10’s I got a circle of friends who were DJing and doing house parties, so it kind of evolved from there. I remember watching a mate playing on a Serato controller and thinking “that looks easy, I can do that”.

So I started snooping around the booth, getting an idea of what’s what and then it just kind of snowballed. It wasn’t until 2016 or so that I started understanding what house music really is. Before then it was mostly into the mindless Beatport top 100 sort of stuff.

Name a few records or songs that had a big impact on you in your early days and why?

Oh, where to start. The first record I purposefully bought was Milton Jackson and Shur-i-kan’s “Finding Goa on Slip ‘n Slide. A release which to this day defines deep house for me.

Another one would be “Pansoul” by Motorbass (Timo's note: This!) A friend of mine, with no knowledge or interest in electronic music, played this for me while we were going through a stack of 80’s indie pop and classic rock LPs. He said this record had revolutionized music for him and I guess it was just such a contrast to everything else we’d been listening to that day, so it really stood out. I absolutely fell in love and he gifted me the album.

It was only a few years later that I understood what significance this release actually held within the world of house music.

What about DJ’ing, and how did you get started?

Well, as mentioned before it was just me being nosy and cocky I think. I’m very picky when it comes to music, so I figured what better way to enjoy a party than picking the soundtrack myself.

Actual DJing first happened later though, when my Gestalt Records label mate Zeljko started getting me into records and the whole digging process. 

Do you have any memorable experiences to share from your early days as a DJ?

Yeah, be patient and don’t go with the flow. It took me a lot of years to figure out what I, deep down, want to play out. And even longer to accept that I couldn’t please everyone - or sometimes anyone.

So do it for yourself. If a crowd sees you passionately feeling a track then they’ll love it as well. I guarantee it!

Tell us a little about your record collection and how you go about finding records to buy?

It’s not the biggest selection in the world as I like to keep it trimmed. As a label owner I have a great amount of respect for the effort that goes into pressing records, so I always thought they should be possessions of appreciation.

If I’m no longer into a release then I’d rather pass it on to someone who’d actually listen to it instead of me just shelving it for appearances sake.

Records are meant to be enjoyed - not just collected.

How has your collection expanded over the years - is your approach systematic or organic?

Well on the digital side nothing ever really gets deleted, so the database grows every day. It’s rare that I look for something specifically, most of it comes from my social feeds, groups and forums. Usually I just browse what people share, listen to a lot of mixes or dig through crates. From there on it’s pretty organic I’d say.

The only records I directly target are from friend’s labels, which I want to support (provided I like the music of course). But at the end of the day it’s manual labour - a lot of digging.

The vast majority of what I come across I don’t like, but that makes it so much sweeter when I finally do come across a piece of music which stirs up some emotion.

When you select records for your sets or radio mixes, what’s your approach like?

They have to complement each other. Often I find myself having to “kill my darlings”. I really don’t like forced mixing, where I need to build a set around one particular tune. 

So I guess I’m looking for diverse and encompassing tracks, that change in feel depending on pitch and whatever came before or after it. It’s a chaotic process, which I can never tie down and explain. It’s all about feeling I suppose. Hence the need to be patient, as mentioned earlier.

Do you have any good stories to share about the live shows or DJ’ing?

I once played a gig one-handed because I had wrist surgery a few days earlier. That was quite a challenge and actually something that really helped me become a technically better DJ I think.The party was great as well, full house from start to finish!

Name three to five secret weapons that you almost every time carry in your bag?

What have been your most memorable record finds? Any good stories?



I was fast-browsing Discogs with Zeljko when he suddenly pointed at the screen and burst out “stop, buy that now”. So I did as I’d been ordered to without knowing what I’d just bought. When it finally arrived my world was turned upside down. To this day it’s my favorite ever house record.

Funky Company - Rescue Me (The 3 Angle ''Dub'')

Do you have a comfort record, one you can put on that makes you feel good no matter what?

How’s your vinyl record collection organised currently? 

So I usually associate music with colours. Like, I hear a track and think “yeah that’s a green tune”. So my shelves are pretty much organised based on that. Dark techno is usually maroon or navy blue, while house leans more to red or orange. I practise the use of a mind palace, so it’s a technique that’s developed over decades. It’s pretty abstract to explain, but something that really helps me with storing and remembering information about a lot of weird stuff.

Name five tracks or releases that are currently on heavy rotation?

Out of your own releases, which do you have the strongest bond with and why is that?

The first track I ever made. I just sat down with Ableton and a baby blue Korg Microbrute and started doing stuff - no tutorials or anything. All the melodic elements were made with the Korg but because I had no idea how to work it, it all just came out by accident. It’s not the most significant piece of music in the universe or anything, but it was just really exciting to jump head first into something I’d never tried before.

And honestly I’m quite proud of how well it all came out, given my total lack of any production skills at the time. So it’s also the only demo I’ve ever sent out - and somehow it got signed and released on a cassette, which just made it that much more exciting. It’s not a tune I’d play out or anything but definitely one that holds a place deep in my heart.

1309ESO - Antivari

What does the coming 12 months hold for you in regards to releases, collaborations etc.?

Jo and I have some Abdul Raeva tracks signed to different VAs, one of them is out digitally later this month on Neptune Discs. Next year we have 2 tracks coming on vinyl, respectively on Mint Tea and Gestalt Records

You are involved in three labels incl. Coymix Ltd with me which has been super rewarding, min. Tell us about your vision for the labels and what’s in the pipeline?

With Gestalt Records my goal has always been to promote new names and keep it as open-minded as possible. We’ve had a few “bigger” names on the label, but the main focus was always on highlighting new talent. In January we’re putting out the second part of Bobo’s split album and in April we’ve got our anniversary VA, which will include a stunning electro cut from Long Island Sound. I can’t really say much more at this point, but we’re working on some pretty big releases in the background.

Hidden Assets is more of my personal playground where I can work with all the obscure and experimental things I like. It’s really fun because it’s a cassette label, where almost the entire production process is done locally. Duplication, print, packaging, even some mix and master. Plus I get to fiddle around with distributing it myself. For the next 2 tapes I’m doing a special double release with Ray Faded, an alias of world renowned vaporwave artist Rashida Prime. That’s a project I am seriously excited to bring into the world.

Then I’ve got Coymix Ltd which is the newest project that we work on together with you. This is the most “specialised” label of the 3 as there’s a pretty clear silver lining to it. Prog revival and euphoria to the core. Currently the third record is in the making. It’s written by Australian producer Guy Contact and will hopefully be out within the next 6 months. (Timo’s note: this will be huge I’m telling you! Check the 1st track on Stef’s mix...)

Pick one release out of the catalogue and tell us a story behind it, please?

Endamisi Salamisi’s “Mood Swings 4 Everyone” on Hidden Assets was quite the ride. I first met Niilo in 2018, right after moving to Estonia, and we quickly agreed to work on a release. Every time he sent me demos I was tangled up in other projects, so it just kept getting pushed. Eventually though we managed to plan it out and started preparing. 

That’s when the real work started. So, Niilo is an amazing artist - great ear and feel for the music. But he’s not that into the technical side of things. Basically I had 3 engineers work on the mastering, but all of them gave up because the mixes were all over the place.

I then employed 2 other engineers to fix the mixdowns using stems - but they both gave up as well. Eventually I had Joonas do a last-ditch effort, and he really ended up doing an amazing job. In the end Bobo, who I previously worked with on Gestalt Records, finalised the mastering. So I thought we were all good at this point. 

I then went to the print house for the tape sleeves but it turned out the designer had sent the wrong file and some text was missing. We finally got everything sorted and released the EP - only for the tape manufacturer to report back that one of his copies had a track missing and some issues with the levels.

So I had to check through all my back stock, start preparing a recall and replacing shipped orders. Turns out the manufacturer’s copy had been made separately from the main batch, so the issue was only with his tape. 

So yeah, I really hope whoever’s bought the release enjoys the hell out of it!

So the mix, can you tell us a little something about that? 

Over the past 12 months so much good music has surfaced, most likely because of the isolation and everything. So I wanted to put together a selection of what would’ve, under normal circumstances, been my ‘go-to club hammers’ this year.

There are also a few forthcoming bits inside, so keep an eye out for these in the new year. Enjoy! 

Many thanks, anything else?

Thank you Timo for the incredible work you’re doing! It’s always a pleasure contributing to a platform driven by pure love for the scene. And shouts to everyone who’s reading this!

playlist

Guy Contact - Cool Blue Liquid (Maximus Mix)
Alex Kassian - Oolong Trance (Paradise Mix)
Anderson - Sunbeam
Jad & The - Transorbital Express
Youandewan - Cauliflower Wing
Baby Rollen - Dirty Blonde (Filthy Mix)
Gene On Earth - Starter Pack
Midibasics - Flying Hook
Adam Pits - Solar Wave
Dylan Forbes - Closer
B.Love - Mind Dance
Harry Oscillate - Obelisk
Look Like - Giro Di Notte

https://buymusic.club/list/ssstodorovic-picks-for-deeprhytms

Download this mix

DJ profile
Steffan Todorović

Location: Tallinn, Estonia
Gestalt Records | Soundcloud

Label owner, record fanatic and deejay

https://soundcloud.com/ssstodorovic

https://bandcamp.com/ssstodorovic

https://discogs.com/user/ssstodorovic

Full profile

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