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With the resurgence of melody in house music has come a new wave of vocal stars making the dance tracks of today memorable, hands-in-the-air anthems. DJ Mag meets them… Words: MARCUS BARNES


I


n the beginning there was Jack. And Jack had a voice, but over time that voice slowly disap- peared from dance music, and vocals became mostly unacceptable in house, leading to the infamous minimal period that cropped up in the mid-2000s and dominated the latter half of that decade.


Through the late ’80s and ’90s, singers such as Robert Owens, Jamie Principle, India, Kim English, Jocelyn Brown, Byron Stingily and lots more helped instil some soul into the house scene. Though that soul dissipated for a while, over the past year vocals have made a welcome return to house mu- sic, from a slew of R&B-sampling disco-tech tracks to well-written, original songs — some of which have become anthems. Take Infinity Ink’s self-titled ‘Infinity’ for instance, or the mischievously infectious ‘You & I’ by Fur Coat, featuring the sultry vocals of Cari Golden: both dancefloor smashes with great lyrics. The reappearance of the human voice has helped facilitate a resurgence in the house scene, serving as a reminder that lyrics and choruses can be just as important as the music itself. We spoke to some of the scene’s leading lights about this turnaround...


CARIGOLDEN


CARI GOLDEN is the voice of one of this year’s underground anthems, ‘You & I’ by Venezuelan duo Fur Coat. She’s been hard at it for years, training as a singer in her youth and working her way into the electronic music scene after a fateful night at London’s Fabric seven years ago. Cari’s list of collaborators reads like a who’s-who of the house and techno world, and continues to grow by the week.


FAMOUS VOCAL APPEARANCES:


KIKI ‘Good Voodoo’


FUR COAT ‘You & I’ DJ T


‘City Life’


PAN-POT ‘Captain My Captain’


KIKI & CHAIM ‘Love Kills!’...


INSPIRATIONS? “Karen Carpenter’s voice was so perfectly velvety and alto smooth, and ironically my own voice has developed in a similar register and I do try to emulate her at times, although I’ll never totally succeed,” says Cari when asked about her vocal influences. “My next memory was my choir teacher, who was a total hippie, writing her own arrangement to ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ by Joni Mitchell. I used to spend a lot of time flipping through my mom’s vinyl to look at the artwork when I was little, and I remember seeing Joni Mitchell. Sure enough, we had the original song. I played it and that was that. I studied every single album and perfected my Joni. To this day, I know the words to just about every single Joni Mitchell song and I feel like she’s one of, if not THE smartest writer of songs about love and its many shades of grey.”


CURRENT PROJECTS? “I have stuff in the bag with Alex Flatner and MSMS, Smash TV, A Different Me, Bambook, Audiofly, Neil Quigley, Tom Flynn, Habis- chman, and James Talk,” Cari reveals. “By the


time you read this, my new little almost- nursery rhyme jazz ditty comes out with Anja Schneider and Kiki. I’m in the process of writ- ing a couple of songs for newcomers Climbers and Louie Fresco. Luckily, most of the stuff is spaced out release date-wise, and a lot of it I use different voices on so that I sound like different people. That’s the goal. I don’t want to be so recognizable vocally, so I adjust a lot depending on the mood of the material. But I am a prolific motherfucker, it’s true! Life is interesting; there’s a lot to write about.”


WHY ARE VOCALS BACK? “I can really understand why people don’t particularly like them when it’s super-girly trancey-dancey stuff, when you’re really an underground aficionado, but if and whenever possible I like to keep it dark and mysterious so that it fits the music. Sexy and song-orient- ed, and not too perfect, actually. In my case, I hope that people are liking it, because I love to do it. I definitely do it for the love of music and I believe that house music is a music made BY the people FOR the people. “I think a well-rounded set has elements of both, because I really do believe that proper electronic music is what I call ‘new sym- phony’,” Cari opines. “It’s orchestrated and landscaped and sometimes a vocal makes no sense when you have these amazing motifs working through a piece, but it’s nice to break that up with something recognizable and identifiable.”


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VOCAL MAJORITY!


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