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The Art of Live Performance w/ Floog

by Daniela Horeanga


Everyone knows about the phenomenal rise of Floog on the Romanian underground scene, and you don't exactly realise his impact until you do a Google search – partly out of curiosity, mostly to be able to know as much as possible about his numerous and exciting projects expanded on the global music scene.


There are DJ sets, mind blowing live set-ups, there is the Premiesku alias under which he operates along Livio & Roby, collaborations with Priku, Mahony and other artists alike. Then, there are DJ competitions won with flying colours, international tours and gigs at some of the world's most iconic clubs and festivals – from Sunwaves to Sonar and from Space Ibiza to Warung in Brazil. When you look at his music catalog, an explosion of quality productions unfolds: starting from his own label (Floog) all the way up to Atipic, Desolat, Vakant, Vatos Locos and even the mighty Visionquest. Moreover, if you were lucky enough to hear him perform, all his sets are absolutely mind-blowing.


Floog is an admirable presence on the world music stage, summed up in a diversity of music colours, input and contribution that are rarely equaled in the underground music world.


Today we would like to ask him about his wonderful career, his live sets, his influences and his collaboration plans and maybe he will share a thing or two about his upcoming music releases.


A.C.: What have you been up to during the lockdown ?


Floog: In the first weeks of the lockdown I was a little bit confused and my musical enthusiasm was really down, especially knowing I had gigs to attend and I will not be able to do that. Then, I realised I need to take all this time and use it in my favour, especially for studio and family. And it worked, I finished a handful of tracks and some of them were already signed to some favourite labels of the moment. Also I had some time to think a little bit out of the box about me, my life and my music journey that was really helpful :)


A.C.: We couldn't help but notice that you have been a busy artist in the past few years as you are headlining some of the biggest parties in the world. Where has it all begun for you and what are your most notable influences ?


Floog: I was lucky to start with a really great team aka Livio & Roby as Monochrome in 2006 and in that time we had the chance to participate to a global DJ competition called Heineken Thirst studio that had three stages: one in Romania, one in London and then Las Vegas where it was the final round. We went through all of them and, to our surprise, we got both global prizes, the jury's one and the popularity one so that was actually a really big boost for our career, especially outside Romania - in half a year actually we started touring all over the world.


My influences are vast as many other people but there some pivotal ones that I can mention into a small time frame: classical music and Kraftwerk (at a young age), then the biggest influence that become my passion and my drive to make music: Depeche Mode (after '90) and then obviously the clubbing scene in Romania that was continuously inspiring for me due to the big DJ's coming from outside but also because of our great local scene.


A.C.: How would you describe your music style?


Floog: I never thought about a particular style of music, but let's say my music is mostly melodic minimal tech (but not too melodic) :))


A.C.: You have been part of various projects enabling you to explore both your DJ side and your live side, tell us a bit about your Premiesku project and about your collaboration with Livio & Roby.


Floog: Actually I have never been an actual DJ/collector, I tried for a short period of time and it was not my thing so in all my projects I performed just as a live act.


Premiesku it is a project started collectively in 2010 after we had concluded Monochrome its a closed chapter musically speaking, so we started just with studio work on a different kind of sound and that work brought us in 2012 the chance to be part of a great team at Desolat / Artist Alife, the period when we started performing live with a really unique setup at that time that was based just on machines and with nice hardware customisation.


A.C.: We have seen your performance at Sunwaves 23 that was nothing short of great and we have also noticed your live set up. What gear are you using?


Floog: My setup as Floog is based on a MacBook Pro running Ableton with two midi controllers, helped by a Roland TR-8 drum machine, a Make Noise 0-coast semi modular synth and a bunch of guitar pedals.


A.C.: If you are to choose between a live set and a DJ set, which one do you prefer?


Floog: Obviously I enjoy a lot listening to DJ sets, they inspire me a lot into my studio work but for the performing side I always chose the live act, I think playing live is very personal, it is just your music, with all your emotions and feelings. Of course, everybody sees things differently, but generally speaking it's very important for performers to feel good in their shoes when doing it whether it is a DJ set or a live act.


A.C.: As we are writing this interview, “Suprapus EP” is playing in the background. It is a release on Visionquest from a few months ago. How did you end up collaborating with the Visionquest's magic trio ? (Shaun Reeves/Ryan Crosson/Seth Troxler?)


Floog: In 2012 when I started playing with Premiesku, Visionquest was really popular, but I was almost the only one in my gang liking their sound. I felt they brought something fresh into Europe where the music was starting to become a little bit “eroded”, and the future was going to show me that I was right :)


So when I started the Floog project one of my desires was to have a record signed by Visionquest. I got Ryan's email from a common friend, started to send him some music and after almost one year, I had the release. I was also connected to Shaun and met both of them at Sunwaves, where I found out that they are really great people, not just great artists.


A.C.: How do you find ideas for your live sets?


Floog: Mostly my live sets are based on the tracks I finish in the studio but sometimes I do have some special sounds/loops/synth-patches that I match with my actual stems, but as a rule in my live act mostly half of it is improvisation so I come with ideas on the spot also influenced by the vibe of the party.


A.C.: How did you gain knowledge/proficiency to know your way around live performances?


Floog: I started playing live in 2006 with Monochrome with tasks only on the synth parts and then, between 2008-2010 (as George G), I had to sustain a full show by myself and I used Ableton Live with a bunch of controllers, mostly playing in Romania. I think this last part really gave me the knowledge of how to approach a live act and to be able to make it as efficient as a DJ set even if the set time was just one hour or so. Then obviously came the Premiesku live act that gave me a lot of input especially related to reading the people, the venue, the adaptation to the concepts of the parties.


A.C.: What piece of software/hardware you can't do without?


Floog: It's a really simple answer, it's Ableton Live. When I started using it, it has really changed my life and just because for me it's a really big shortcut from the idea you have in your head to the finish track.


A.C.: When it comes to the art of live sets, what advice would you have for the budding artists? Where do they begin in terms of acquiring their gear and where do they gain their knowledge?


Floog: The hardest part of a live act is to find your performance recipe and to know how to balance between what you really do in your performance live and what will be “taped”, because obviously while being a one-man-show you can't do everything at once :)


For beginners, I really encourage them to start simple. If they want to perform their finished tracks in Ableton Live, they have to split the tracks in less stems to have more confidence about their performance vs. splitting the tracks in 16 stems for example, then get confused in the DJ booth and lose the connection with the audience. They need to think about the most exciting elements of a track when they play it live. For example, if they have 3 hi-hat channels, nobody on the dance floor will know that and it would just complicate things for the performer.


If they plan to play with machines, I advise them coming in the DJ booth with less equipment but that equipment needs to be able to make a difference and really give the audience a plus. When you have too many things happening in a DJ booth, you become chaotic and that will be translated into your music and for sure you don't want that :) Also, less equipment in the DJ booth means less stress for you when you set it up, especially if there is no time for a sound check, not to mention that the promoter will be very happy about it :))


A.C.: We have seen you perform in Europe, South America and USA lately, do you have any plans for performances in Asia?


Floog: I would love to, actually before pandemic I had a discussion with my agent about a small Asian tour (she is originally from Taiwan), hope the time will come soon :)

The thing is that I traveled a lot all these years, but I have never been in an Asian country, not even as a tourist, and I really want to because I love the Asian cultures in general and I also know they are very passionate about electronic music :)


A.C.: How is your record label doing?


Floog: My Floog label had 3 releases in 2 years up until now, but I am not in a rush with the next one, I want to have something really special to put out. I don't have this rule about “I must release something on my label”, when it happens, it happens. At the same time, I am really enthusiastic about starting a sub-label called Floog & Friends and the first release is a really special one with Priku. It is already on presale right now on decks.de


A.C.: How do you select your artists for Floog & Friends ?


Floog: As the name of the label implies its all about the connection in the studio that I form with a friend artist. I believe that making music with a friend that “sees” the music from a different angle than yours brings a unique combined vibe to it :)


A.C.: Most of your releases are on vinyl and less on digital formats, why have you chosen to release your music this way ?


Floog: Usually I don't think too much about this aspect but I think a vinyl is like a stamp of time, it’s like laying down a brick when building a house - you’ll always see it, you are able to touch it and you know it builds something in some point for you so you'll enjoy it more than a digital track from your computer.


A.C.: What have you got planned in terms of music releases?


Floog: This year I will have a release on Lied, Sepp’s label, one on Why So Series, Nu Zau’s label, later this year a track on a V.A. for Eastenderz in London, a collaboration with the Berg Audio and also one EP on another label I really love from the UK (but I prefer to keep it as a surprise for the moment). Also, I will start a label with Mahony for our specific sound that most probably will see the light after summer and hopefully, the second release on Floog & Friends later this year. A remix for a US label and various collaborations with other great artists.


A.C.: You are currently working with Demand Artists Agency, how was your collaboration with them and what party plans do you have in mind?


Floog: Demand Artists did a great job with my US and South American tours and hopefully the future will bring more to the table from our collaboration. For the moment I have some dates confirmed but honestly, taking into consideration this crazy period, I prefer to see them happening before saying anything :)


A.C.: Who is the one person/label you have always wanted to work with and you haven't had the chance yet?


Floog: Honestly, in our scene at this moment in time I don't have a particular label I want to release on, but keeping the spirit fun and idealistic, I would love to sign something to Mute Records and work in the studio with both Martin Gore and Alan Wilder :)) (a.k.a. Depeche Mode’s keyboardist - Martin and the former member, Alan)


A.C.: What is your favourite place to play in the world?


Floog: There are many great places I had the chance to play at and enjoy it a lot like Sunwaves, Fabric, Amnesia, Watergate, Warung, but one that really stands out for me is The Block in Tel Aviv.


A.C.: What's the funniest story from one of your tours?


Floog: I had a very important gig with Premiesku in Ibiza at Amnesia a few years back and the airline lost my checked-in equipment a few hours before the show was supposed to start. In my backpack, I only had a sampler with my live sound parts but I needed a charger for it to make it work. The sampler had really rare tech specs, it was around 8 in the evening and the logistics guys searched all Ibiza for something, but nothing came through, I was really down... then, as a last chance, I went to an electrical shop and of course that item I needed to power up my sampler was not for sale for years, so I really panicked. Premiesku is like a band, without some sound parts, the tracks will sound weird and unfinished :) The seller of the shop saw my white face and said: “How much time you got 'till the show? If you have time, come to my place, I have one from my old radio set”, and this is how the history was written for that night, went to his place, got the charger, arrived 5 minutes before the show started and we had a great gig :)


P.S.: I never knew your name man but I do hope you read this somehow, I just want to thank you again! I hope you never tried to use your old radio set again, cause I took the charger with me in the morning to Bucharest :D


A.C.: Your favourite producer?


Floog: It is hard to mention just one so I really appreciate most of the old work of Martin Buttrich, Mathew Jonson and Ricardo Villalobos.


A.C.: How do you find Romanian underground scene now that you have performed all over the world?


Floog: The Romanian scene is very vivid and colourful, the enthusiasm is really great from the clubbers’ perspective but also from the producers, DJ-s and promoters. I think that our scene has a lot of activity vs. other countries that I had the chance to visit, even though lately I see great changes started all over the world for the clubbing scene.


A.C.: Would you change anything in the local music scene ?


Floog: No, I think our scene is quite mature and established.


A.C.: Tell us a secret – what is the “guilty pleasure” in your music library at home?


Floog: I didn't have the chance to listen to it for sometime now but it can go to your mentioned category for sure: The Cure - Boys Don't Cry album :)


Source: Facebook

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