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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 Lyon-based house masters Abstraal (aka Tutti and Castlez).

Abstraal, Lyon, France, Family Piknik Music

What was it like where you’re living? During successive lockdowns we lived in Lyon, the city of love! We lived a lot of months with restrictions. For a few months, all shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs were closed. We needed to have authorization to go out. We have other activities not impacted by COVID, so we were really busy, and we worked on music in different ways to prepare for the “After-COVID.” Our main motivation is stage and crowd so, sometimes inspiration was really low because we can’t play music and can’t test new tracks. With curfew, lockdown and restrictions, it was not an easy thing to spend a lot of time together in the studio. But we stayed positive, strong and focused after a few weeks of uncertainties, like everybody.

How did you spend most of your pandemic time? We worked as curator of our Spotify playlist, “Techno Melodic & Deep by Abstraal,” updated every week! We produced a lot of mixtapes for radio and promoters and channels to spread music and love all over the world. We curate our own monthly guest mix radio show on istreem radio, “Based On Real Facts,” with a lot of great guests such as Glowal, Moonwalk, Erly Tepshi, Nico Morano, Citizen Kain, etc. We are super-happy to have Maxim Lany on board for July!

Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? Our agency and management worked to find super-nice gigs before COVID, but a lot of shows were postponed in Europe and other parts of the world. We are waiting for shows in Madrid, Malta, Cairo, Beirut, Israel, London, Istanbul, Germany, India tour and more. So, we cross our fingers and let’s see what happens when borders re-open and restrictions come down. Slowly, but truly, clubs and open-air parties will re-open in France. So we will have gigs this summer, especially on Thursday, July 8, for Family Piknik Festival just after our release “Ain’t Around” in collab with Giza DJs, a super-talented Italian duo on the label. The main difficulty is to confirm gigs because things are moving super-fast in good or bad directions; it’s a very hard time for promoters, too.

Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? We worked on music to produce good tracks and to release it in future… but not too much, because if we have too many tracks in the same mood at the same time, we will lock in a tight genre and we don’t want that. If you listen to our latest releases, it sounds different because we have not produced tracks at the same time due to a long period far away from the studio, and we are happy about the results. We worked to reschedule our shows in Lyon and Paris with our company XLR Events and now we are ready to restart when we can. During this period, we learned that nothing is won in advance and the downtime confirmed us that hard work is the key to success.

What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? We never stop working on music and on different ways to stay in the mind of the public. We released two EPs on Family Piknik. One year ago, it was “Broken Smiles,” just after the first lockdown, and the newest “Ain’t Around” is out now. We released another original, “Falling with Her,” in December 2020 on Zehn Records, Tube & Berger’s imprint. And we had a lot of remix requests, too. “Ain’t Around” is our first original release for 2021 – we have four remixes before and now we work on others. We have three original releases scheduled for the end of year, and we are super-excited about it because it’s in collaboration with great artists and nice labels. As we said, we worked as curators on our guest radio show, “Based On Real Facts,” on our Spotify playlist and we developed with our manager our own Radio Show on Maxximum Radio called “Panoramaxx invite Abstraal.” All episodes are uploaded on Soundcloud and we are happy because it has grown a lot in recent months. We have more and more listeners every month.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? Our last real gigs with a crowd and solid sound system were one year ago in Toulouse with our Family Piknik crew and in Lyon at Bellona Beach club. So, we haven’t had a chance to play for one year, but we have more and more great feedback from all over the world about our music and what we do. For us, it means a lot and gives us a lot of motivation and forces for the future.

Have you done anything online recently? To be honest, we are a little bit bored by the live-streaming. We respect all artists and promoters who made it, but our latest was one year ago at Le Petit Salon in our residency club in Lyon. Live-streams are cool. Videos and pictures are amazing with drones, and locations are incredible – but, for us, it’s not the same feeling. For us, crowds are mega-important; in livestreaming, we don’t have the same mood and vibes. We feel like “robots” when we play for party people behind their screen. But only idiots never change. That’s why we are performing a live-stream for Family Piknik in a medieval castle in France for a special private session with the crew. We accepted without hesitation because we will spend the weekend with the crew in this beautiful location. We can’t wait to share it!

Any themed tunes recommended for the moment? It’s a tune about never giving up, staying focused, working hard, hitting our objectives, and always keeping up our motivation… Survivor’s “Eye of Tiger.”

Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? Hmm… believe in yourself and your dreams, never forget your closeness and your origins! Merci for having us in mind for the interview – it was a pleasure!

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

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