I don’t know what it was that initially sparked my interest in the Switzerland/Brooklyn based production team, In Flagranti. Perhaps it was the seemingly contradictory fact that they manage to guide their tracks into the hands and mix tapes of many of the world’s most well known performers while simultaneously keeping the spotlight almost entirely off themselves. Or maybe it was due to the plain and clear lack of regard for the opinions of others, as exemplified by the inability of their tracks to fit into any kind of mold I’ve ever seen before. Heck, it might have simply been due to my curiosity as to how a duo could possibly function so very properly (and not to mention deliciously) without ever working face to face. Regardless of the answer, the following text is the result of the many nights I lie awake in bed, due to the nearly magnetic mysteriousness of In Flagranti, and I ever so sincerely hope that the answers given shall save you, my friends, from a similar fate of eternal sleeplessness.
I suppose, however, that I should (despite the fact that it brings me a good deal of shame to think that there exist creatures in this world whom have yet to be touched by the wonders of In Flagranti’s version of disco) offer a couple tunes to put the following text in perspective. Well then–erm…
In Flagranti – Business Acumen
In Flagranti- Brash and Vulgar
In Flagranti – Louvre For Yo
[ 8/12/09 Interview taken at Scion’s Houseparty at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles]
UhOhDisco – So I guess my first question has to be how did you get your name? Does it have anything to do with the Latin phrase meaning, “caught in the act?”
Sasha (In Flagranti) – Well, it was just I guess Alex just said it one time, and we were like, oh it’s such a good name. We were just trying something new basically, and it stuck.
UhOhDisco – What kind of a background in music do you have? Were you professionally trained?
Sasha – I was playing guitar and drums as a teenager, and I was dj’ing for a very long time.
UhOhDisco – How did you get into dj’ing?
Sasha – The firs time I was in a club I was eleven, I think. And when I saw the guy playing records, that was it. I was like, I can do that.
UhOhDisco – So you just kind of jumped into it. You never studied music or anything?
Sasha – No, no. I mean I took drum lessons, but that was as far as I got.
UhOhDisco – Do you think your drums lessons influence the way that your music comes out?
Sasha – Well yeah, because dance music is a very beat oriented music so drumming was, you know. I mean it was good to kind of learn and understand like a groove, and how a different feel can change the song.
UhOhDisco – Before In Flagranti, were you involved in any other music projects?
Sasha – Yeah, umm. When I moved to New York in the early 90’s I started a party. It was like a weekly party, but not in clubs. We would try to find random spots, empty lots, you know. It’s been going for like eight years.
UhOhDisco – Oh, it’s still going?
Sasha – No no, 2003 was the last one. It was eight years every Friday night. And then at the same time we started Codek records, which we also released tracks on. But that was a bit different, it was more kind of dub, trip hop oriented stuff.
UhOhDisco – Right. So I guess how did you transition from the dub to the more disco kind of stuff. And actually, would you call what you do disco?
Sasha – Yeah, I mean I always loved disco. When I was really young, you know, I grew up with that. But um, the transition, it was when we produced another band, it was this couple called Crossover. I did the music. This was around 2000 right when the whole electroclash started. But I wasn’t really aware yet that there were people kinda getting into that kind of sound. But then we fell out, we had a big problem with the artists, so we decided to focus on ourselves instead of trying to produce someone else.
UhOhDisco –Were you [in the US] at the time?
Sasha – Yeah yeah, this was all here.
UhOhDisco – So more about your actual music. You use a lot of samples. Do you usually build tracks around the samples or do you build a track and then add the samples after that.
Sasha – Alex is a record collector and he kind of sends me the sounds. He just randomly records stuff and then sends me the files over the internet, cuz he lives in Switzerland and I live in New York so we work through the internet. So I kind of chop up the stuff he sends me into bits and pieces and that’s how it goes. You know, I start with maybe one loop, and then I add things to it. The drum is always the first, you know, to have a good solid beat so you can feel the ground and the bass.
UhOhDisco – So what’s it like working with someone who you can’t actually see face to face?
Sasha – I mean it’s great. You don’t have to argue. Because he does his part and I do my part. It doesn’t mean that—like if I do a track and I send it back to Alex, it doesn’t mean that he likes what I do. He can say, you know, it’s good, or it’s just okay.
UhOhDisco – So I guess he’s not afraid to tell you when he doesn’t like something that way?
Sasha – No no, because I have this respect. I know that he has a good sense for music that we are trying to write. But yeah it’s great actually. We never work together in person.
UhOhDisco – Ever?
Sasha – No, I mean, when we’re together we just talk. We talk about ideas. Even when he does all his graphic stuff, like he does all the covers and the clips, there’s nothing for me to do. It’s his thing, you know? And it’s the same when we’re producing, it’s really my world, so it’s actually better.
UhOhDisco – How did you guys meet?
Sasha – It was at a record store. He was looking for a certain style of music.
UhOhDisco – What kind of style was that?
Sasha – It was a very hypnotic kind of thing. Less of the like downtempo, dub. Almost like pitched-down disco.
UhOhDisco – So when you go to make a track, do you have any synths that you rely on regularly. Or sounds of samples? Or are you kind of building everything from scratch.
Sasha – Always from scratch, because you know you may have a sound that you like, but it doesn’t always work with what you’re working on, so you can’t use it.
UhOhDisco – Right, I mean I know artists that, when they go to make an album, they’ll use the same kick sound throughout the whole album.
Sasha – No, that bores me, because when I start out with something, I like that to make the sound of the track, you know what I mean? It’s like I want this to kind of lead me to a different place.
UhOhDisco – Where do you think disco is going right now? What’s in the future of the genre?
Sasha – Uh, to be honest, I don’t know. It’s the end of a decade, and usually that’s when things start changing, you know? It’s been like since 2000 that this whole electroclash thing has been around, and I feel like this whole electro has been explored in so many ways and I don’t even know where else you can go with that. There’s always going to be someone who’s going to open up a door, and everyone goes oh, look at this.
UhOhDisco – So do you want to stay within the electronic genre? I remember reading somewhere that you were also into punk and rock and stuff like that. Would you ever cross over to that?
Sasha – Yeah yeah, absolutely, I mean I’m totally open, and I can’t predict what I’m gonna do.
UhOhDisco – What kind of artists are you listening to right now?
Sasha – I don’t really listen to music like that. Because when I listen to music I analyze it you know. Like I cannot focus listening to an album. But mostly I listen to old stuff. Anything from the seventies. But yeah, I cannot think of anything I listen to.
UhOhDisco – So you don’t really associate much with the actual genre of music that you’re playing?
Sasha – No, not really.
UhOhDisco – Have you heard the guys that are playing here tonight?
Sasha – Yeah, I’ve heard the guys because I do my show.
UhOhDisco – But you’re just not big into it?
Sasha – No it’s just… It’s not that, it’s just when you make music you kind of lose that ability to just listen to music. As soon as I start listen to music I start focusing on how it’s so much work. It’s not relaxing, you know?
UhOhDisco – How much time do you yourself put into each of your individual tracks?
Sasha – Sometimes you have really good days where you finish a track in an afternoon. And sometimes you have times where you start and you realize you’re not getting anywhere. Like, it’s good what I have so far, but instead of just doing something half assed, I’ll just put it aside for a later time.
UhOhDisco – Of the people that you’ve played with before, what would you say was your favorite show?
Sasha – Umm….
UhOhDisco – Or where is your favorite place to play?
Sasha – Yeah I was just going to say that. As far as I can remember, Belgium has pretty much been the best. But um, I like New York. But I mean the best has always been my own party, with my own friends, because then it’s like my friends and people I know, like I know what I can do. Like last night, for example, Scion did a small party in a bar and lots of my friends came and, you know it was just so easy to make it happen. I know what I can bring to make them jump. That’s usually the best situation. When it’s your crowd.
UhOhDisco – So how do you think disco of today relates to the disco of the 70’s? Have it evolved any, is it the same?
Sasha – No I think it’s definitely different, I mean the 70’s disco was very–it was defined by a certain drum beat, a certain type of bass line, strings, you know all these kind of things. Now people are taking bits and pieces out of it and just focusing on that, instead of doing the whole orchestration. And now you find like some new disco tracks where it’s much more stripped down, partially because you can’t do that type of production anymore, you can’t have like an orchestra.
UhOhDisco – Why’s that?
Sasha – Because it’s too expensive, you know? And lots of people don’t even know how to do this anymore. I mean think about it, like. This music is complex. You have to have not only just someone recording it, but you have an arranger who arranges all the—and you have to get all these musicians into the studio and it’s such a big production to actually make a proper disco track. And now most people are working on a laptop in their bedroom. It’s not the same. It’s much more minimal actually. You just take a few parts that you like and that’s it. So yeah, it’s definitely changed. And I think it’s actually weird to just copy. It’s more of an inspiration. The way they created the sounds–for me it’s really amazing how they manage to record the drums to not really sound like—when you here the drum, it does not sound like a drum set, you know? There’s so much science to create that sound. You know the kick to be really fat, and you know, that’s what I’m really inspired by from the disco era. Not necessarily what exactly they played or the type of vocals they had. It’s really more about how they create grooves.
UhOhDisco – Do you create your own sounds, or are you usually sampling?
Sasha – Well I sample stuff, but, I do manipulate in a way. I don’t like really taking something and leaving it to the world. I like to take stuff and layer it. But you know, I don’t have the same kick I always use, but I do have a certain way of working that I’m used to now, so yeah. But yeah, I just love, for me when I got into this music, the sampler was the first thing. So that kind of started the sampling, you know.
UhOhDisco – What are you working on right now? Do you use a laptop, or are you still using samplers and such?
Sasha – Always on a laptop.
UhOhDisco – What software are you using, if you don’t mind me asking?
Sasha – Ableton. I use Reason a lot, and Logic, but then I just like Ableton, because I also use it for the live set. Instead of like using multiple programs, I kinda want to stick to one which, you know, I can sometimes–when I’m doing the live set I also improvise, and I discover some things while I’m doing it so I remember when I go home that they work, and I can make a track. So I can just stay in the same environment, in the same program. It’s easier doing work that way.
UhOhDisco – So when you do your Live sets, you’re not planning anything out ahead of time?
Sasha – Yeah, it’s kind of like when I dj, I have these— you know, I know what kind of works, and its all about the different combinations. And it’s also the timing, like when do you play certain things. But yeah, it’s always a bit different.
UhOhDisco – Do you have any goals for where you’re going with In Flagranti in the future?
SashaNo, I do not have any plans. Also the music industry has changed so much. I’m just trying to go with the flow, and adapt with the whole digital thing.
UhOhDisco – I was going to ask you about that. You said that Brash & Vulgar was going to be your last album. Does that mean that when you build a record, you’re not trying to build it as a complete twelve track record; you’re just going for the individual track?
Sasha – I don’t know yet, but there is a possibility that you—yeah, you don’t release—I mean what’s the point if you release an album, and then you can download individual tracks. I think it will change. I think the format will change eventually. It’s kind of the old way but with this new platform. I think the digital platform will demand a new form that makes sense. It’s just this old way of doing an album. But I find that—what we’re trying to do is just focus on one track for example instead of an album.
UhOhDisco – So the videos that you guys do both live and in the music videos for your tracks, where do those come from? A lot of it seems like vintage footage?
Sasha – Yeah it’s—Alex goes to thrift stores and finds stuff. And recently we’ve been using stuff from YouTube.
UhOhDisco – What kind of stuff from Youtube?
Sasha – It’s just random, you know. Just stuff that people put out themselves, dancing in their living room.
UhOhDisco – I saw that one, there was the girl dancing by her front door. Was that from Youtube?
Sasha – Yeah yeah, it’s all from YouTube.
UhOhDisco – Do you contact those people and let them know you’ve used them in your video?
Sasha – No. [Laughs] I mean that’s Alex’s thing. And you know, we’re not selling it. It’s not like it’s on MTV or anything, I mean it’s just for fun, it’s just on the website.
UhOhDisco – I noticed the video for How Did the Affair End was just a bunch of floating shapes and stuff. Where did that come from?
Sasha – I don’t know. I don’t ask Alex, he just sends me the clip and I’m like, oh yeah, cool.
UhOhDisco – How about the album art for Brash and Vulgur? I noticed there’s been some controversy over it? You have on your Myspace three images: The original, the album version, and the iTunes one.
Sasha – Because you know Alex does this box thing where he’ll take a background from different spaces, like 70’s apartments and cuts it out and so it has that 3d effect. And when he decided to use this for the cover, he put these black strips over her.
UhOhDisco – Did they ask you to do that?
Sasha – No no, that was his decision. But then when it came to uploading stuff on iTunes, the people that we work with that take care of the digital stuff, they asked us if we could cover up a little more, so he did that. And then we had the idea to do all three, you know?
UhOhDisco – One more question. What kind of stuff can we look forward to from In Flagranti right now?
Sasha – Well there’s this one song that we are trying to put out in a couple months and there’s a vocal that we worked with that singer for the last twelve inch. I don’t know the title yet, but we’re getting a few remixes done.
UhOhDisco – You’re doing the remixes, or you’re being remixed.
Sasha – Being remixed, which we’ve never really done. We’ve done remixes, but we’ve never been remixed ourselves. So that’s kind of like trying a new thing.
UhOhDisco – Do you know who the remixers are?
Sasha – Yeah we’re going to get Hercules and Love Affair, and a couple other UK guys.
UhOhDisco – Anything else you want to say?
Sasha – I don’t think so.