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When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?

So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from France – the Paris-based eclectic talent Samaran (aka Angga Raditya).

Samaran, Paris, France, Circa ’99

What’s it like where you’re living? Were you locked down? How did you spend most of your time? Right now, it’s nowhere. My studio is based in Paris, but when I enter it, I forget the city and I put myself in a no-time/no-place zone. I was locked down, yes, but as I almost live in my studio. It feels like the streets were just more empty when I leave my cave – not that bad in this town.

Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? If so, very briefly, what kind? To be honest, not that much in a way. I didn’t have many gigs planned so far, but as I had some releases in the last months. If gigs were about to be planned, then yes, I’m pretty sure I’d have many gigs to do… and fuck, I’d have loved to play this year. I really miss it sometimes. But I’m lucky enough that I still can rent my studio, do music, prepare new releases and work with some friends. So far, I don’t need much more than that. 

Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? I work with a lot of people in here, mixing tracks, EPs or LPs for other artists. So it definitely helped me this year to live and pay the bills. I just hope that the music industry, and especially the electronic scene, will be solid enough to have a proper comeback, to have clubs open, festivals allowed and people not too scared to go there. And yes, I probably learned things, but more about myself and how I handle this kind of situation, I kinda surprised myself, as I thought I’d be more stressed than that. I mean, I am, of course, but I’m honestly quite confident about the future. Behind all this shit, I never saw so many people that changed in a good way, that want to help and be useful to the community. So I hope 2021 will let these people free to help.

What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? I released two tracks this year. “Allo,” which came with a crazy good video – nominated for a U.K. Music Video Award, yes sir – and “London Madness” last week, which is kind of a response to “Paris Madness,” and well, 2020 seemed to be mad enough to a release a city-madness track. Besides that, this locked-down year gave me a lot of times to work on new material. I took time to re-patch all my studio, experiment with new gear, try new things and again, take time for those things… because sometimes, I just do things in a rush – not this year. So, yes, I now take times to finish my track properly.

In the studio, what’s your set-up? Ableton Live, always. For the vintage hardware, yes, my old Roland SH-101, the “Paris Madness” synth was this, and I still use it on most of my tracks. I still am impressed by its possibilities. It can’t be simpler that this, but still, it amazes me. The Korg MS-20 from the ’70s, too… that I use more for effects or crazy filtered sounds. But it’s so gritty that I prefer to stick with the SH-101 for the basses or round sounds. For the plug-ins, I do have some favorites. The UAD Ampex [Mastering Tape Recorder] is a thing for me. I love tape sound, not too much, but to give randomness and warmth to my tracks, as I don’t like super-HD sounds or super- crisp frequencies – tape always tames that. And I can also recommend, of course, SoundToys EchoBoy or PrimalTap… big love to them, or D16 plugins, too. They’re always good-to-go tools.

What’s your creation process in the studio? Most of the time when I work for myself as Samaran, I just jam a lot with my SH-101, sounds, sequences, ARPs and try it with my TR-8S – personal samples in a drum machine are so good. Ninety-nine-percent of the time I just jam with those two boxes for hours, maybe with the Moog Voyager or DX100 and then I forget that I didn’t recorded anything, and come back the day after and do the exact same thing.

What’s your typical DJ set-up & why do you choose that route? Really simple – two or three CDJ-2000NXS players and a DJM-900 mixer. I never mixed with vinyl. It’s really an art and a thing, and I’m not good at it at all. I don’t have the patience for that and I love working with loops, so … yes, CDJs. Two CDJs and a DJM, you’re stuck with really basic set-up, so you have to be creative to make it interesting, to try loops and cues before your set to have a flawless mix. When I use a third one, I just have a USB key with drum loops and effects. It helps a lot when some tracks have too-long bridges or builds, and you want to add some variations or textures to it. 

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? That I’m so much in the studio that some days I forgot we were in a pandemic situation. Best feeling you can have. Except when you leave the studio.

Have you done anything online recently? Have you seen any DJ video streams that impressed you? I’m honestly not that much into that. As I said, I feel very lucky that I can still pay my studio and flat. I don’t want to force promotion or visibility. This year was also a good year to take a step back to everything and I liked to not have to play the social game – so, I didn’t want to do that on social networks. The only good thing I noticed and loved are those musicians that streamed their ways of producing – and I especially think of Disclosure, big love on them – I learned a lot and they made it in a very natural and positive way. Good call on this.

Any theme tunes recommended for the moment? I secretly dream of a “Viva La Vida” from Coldplay, but for now I’ll stand with “Coma” from Ghost Culture.

To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.

DJ Times Magazine is copyright © 2020 by DJ Publishing, Inc.