In the latest edition of our interview series, we speak to UK-based electronic duo Siente about new music, lockdown and collaborations.
PW – Hey guys, welcome to Pastel Wasteland. So first question, for those who haven’t head your music before, how would you describe your style/ vibe?
Hey there, great to be here! Our music has been described as ‘ready for both the poolside and the dancefloor’, ‘bedroom Daft Punk’ and ‘underground pop’…the real answer probably lies in a combination of those. If we were to try and label it, we’d go for something like synth-driven, disco house music. At our core we’re DJs who make music we’d want to play to a crowd – though we work pretty extensively with vocalists and songwriters, which perhaps makes our music a bit more accessible to those who aren’t fanatical House-heads like us. Think Crockett and Tubbs, drinking martinis…on a yacht party off the coast of San Antonio.
PW – You recently released ‘On Guard’ featuring Nic Hanson. How did that project come about, and how did Nic become involved?
‘On Guard’ started as the chord sequence you hear at the start – we’d been playing around with a new synth and hit upon this weird, vocal-sounding pad which we knew we wanted to use on a song.
Following that, it stayed as an instrumental for about a year or so but was missing the ‘spark’ that would turn it into a tune we’d be comfortable releasing. That changed when we met Nic last November after a gig he did in London with Moon Boots (whom we’re both big fans of). It was an amazing night; Nic absolutely smashed the songs he performed, and we realised he was someone we’d really love to work with.
Afterwards we got chatting and realised he had some time to kill between gigs on the tour, so we made plans for him to come over to Steve’s home studio in Brixton for a session and try out some new ideas. Nic was super laid back and brought an amazing energy and enthusiasm to the process; he wrote the first draft of the top line in about 10 minutes, which is crazy, when you consider how intricate some of the harmonies are.
PW – Your unique brand of crossover dance/electronic has gained millions of streams worldwide. What is it about this style and genre in particular that inspires you?
We never really had a clear idea of how we wanted our music to sound when we started the project, but we were heavily influenced by producers at the time like Tensnake, Darius, Moon Boots and Chris Malinchak. In a market which was dominated by EDM and Deep House they were making this disco-inspired, laid-back House that had an emotional, longing quality. Really it was an extension of what the French House masters like Alan Braxe, Cassius and Daft Punk were making at the turn of the century – music that slaps at 2am in a club, but which you could also comfortably listen to whilst studying, or relaxing on the beach.
There’s a nostalgic quality to the combination of dance music with pop writing-sensibilities which really inspires us – the touchstone is probably something like Stardust’s ‘Music Sounds Better With You’, you could never get tired of that song.
PW – Lockdown has obviously been very difficult for everyone, for a variety of reasons. For artists, the lack of live events or places to showcase work is particularly difficult. How have you dealt with the new limitations, and how has it affected your near future plans?
It’s definitely been a challenge, mentally. Like everyone we go through ups and downs: at times lockdown has felt like a chance for a breather and some much-needed self-reflection, but its also easy to get stuck in your own head, particularly as boredom sets in.
Musically, it hasn’t really been a limitation for us, as we’ve always worked remotely anyway. Its a real shame though that we haven’t been able to get out and play some of our new music to a live audience.
For example, we’re part of a new collective, ‘Boys Next Door’ with our good friends Fabich, Pastel and Jafunk and have put on five or six shows together over the last year. The plan before lockdown was to put on a regular night in London and invite some of our favourite DJs to come and headline, but that one had to take a rain check. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to put something on before the end of the year – the world needs ‘feel good’ music more than ever at the moment!
PW – What can we expect in terms of new music? Do you have any upcoming collabs you can talk about yet?
We’ve been working with some genuinely incredible singers and producers recently and can’t wait to share the output – we think it will surprise lots of people. We’re probably sitting on about 5 or 6 tracks at the moment, which is some of the best material we’ve written yet.
Whatever we release will be true to our style, but our next few singles are perhaps a bit clubbier than our most recent output. Before lockdown we’d been DJing a lot and wanted to make some more music which we’d be more comfortable including in our club sets – so generally speaking, more in the 120+ BPM range.
In terms of collabs that we can announce, we’ve got this synthy, spacey, pop-house joint in the works with the US singer Camden that we’re super excited about. He’s another vocalist who we’d been fans of for ages and that we knew we wanted to work with at some point, it was just a question of when.
We’ve also just started on another collab with Danglo, the producer we collaborated with on ‘Feel So Alive’ and remixed earlier this year on ‘Running Wild’. It’s early days but we’re all pretty excited about the idea – the music we make as Siente is fairly different from Danglo’s originals, but for some reason when we get our heads together it just seems to click.
PW – In this kind of industry, it can be tough to feel like you’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you battle these feelings when they come up, and do you have any advice to other people who might be struggling in a similar way?
There’s only one real tip we can give, which is the exact same one that has got us through whenever we’ve felt low in the last eight years: every single musician, no matter their level of success, has the same anxieties and worries that you do.
We’ve been working with some pop artists and producers recently who I think it’s fair to say are at the top of the game, and even they get the same feelings. No matter whether you’re getting 5,000 streams on a track or 50,000,000, you’ll always be looking over your shoulder at other artists, or worrying your stagnating, that’s just how it goes. Social media doesn’t help as well – everyone should try to limit their time on socials, as all they show you is the ‘perfect’ version of everyone else, making you feel worse.
I (Steve) still remember the phone conversation Nick and I had when our first single ‘Wonderful’, hit 1000 streams. We couldn’t believe it – it genuinely felt like we’d won the World Cup…I think we said something like “are there really a thousand people that want to listen to our music?? That’s wild”. Now, whenever we’re feeling low, I remember that conversation and think about how far we’ve come – it’s important to keep a sense of perspective on things.
PW – Now for a fun one- if you could do a dream live show/ gig in the future, post-lockdown, what would it be and why?
Can we be greedy and go for two…?
Some of our best nights out together over the last few years have been in Lisbon, so I think for a club set it would need to be there. Its an incredible city with this laid-back, creative vibe that really fits the whole ethos of Siente, and as a bonus it’s got an incredible disco community – guys like Xinobi and Moullinex have been smashing the scene there for years now. Maybe a primetime set at Music Box? Or perhaps Lux, though they’d need to let us in first…getting into that place is harder than Fort Knox.
Thinking bigger, it would have to be Glastonbury. Its undoubtedly the best festival in the world and something we always try and attend when we can – there’s really nothing like it. Let’s go for a 3pm Friday slot on the Other stage (the best, despite what those Pyramid-purists would have you believe), when everyone is still fairly sober. Though to be honest, we’d take a 4am slot in a dark corner of Shangri-La.
In short if you’re reading this Emily Eavis, book us please.
PW – And final question! It’s more of an invitation actually. Use the next few sentences to tell us what you’re up to next, and where we can follow you online 🙂
Thanks guys – its been lots of fun!
We’ve got more music, more remixes and hopefully (when lockdown is over), more shows. First up we’ve got a remix for our friend Ash Reynolds coming in July – Ash is one of the greatest underground disco producers in the biz and it’s an honour remixing one of his tracks on his own label, Slightly Transformed.
Before then, make sure you check out ‘On Guard’, its available now from all the usual places and the response so far has been incredible. You can also follow us at the links below. Ciao!