Astral, the Australian production duo made up of Melo & Lobe, released their official debut in 2013 with ‘Eleven (Deluxe Edition)‘. The largely instrumental record smoothly blends jazz, hip hop and electronic music along with US and Australian guest emcees popping up for a few appearances. We caught up with Melo to discuss the making of ‘Eleven’, their creative process, what’s in their playlist and the next Astral record. Stream the record right here via Spotify and read on below the player…
[SM] What are you currently listening to?
Melo: We’re currently listening to a bit of CJ Fly, a bit of [some] Australian groups such as loose change and Theodore Kennedy, Some moods, Astrological, Flo Filz, Illa J, Kero One, Substantial. A bit of Mac Miller, Pete Philly, Mr Scruff, Miles Davis, J.A.M, Frank Sinatra, P. Smurf, Pez, N.E.R.D,DJ Quik, Mosaek. A bit of Phora and Lupe Fiasco’s earlier stuff and a bit of De La Soul here and there. Astro, Earl sweatshirt and some of Tyler the creator’s old stuff. Some drum and bass, mostly goodlooking records and LTJ Bukem type stuff, and some house and club music here and there.
[SM] For the making of first record, Eleven, what equipment did you guys use, and who/what inspired the sound & style of the tracks?
Melo: For Eleven we would get together at the studio and sample search…We liked jazz music to start off with, and both liked hip-hop, so we thought why not fuse them both? And make what we want to hear? [We’d] make around four beats a day…using an [Akai] MPD 26 and a Behringer NuControl Keyboard. The main software used was FL Studio, which we have been using for years, believe it or not. Lobe was using GarageBand [on] some of the tracks (don’t judge he’s actually insane at using it!)
…mix and master the [tracks] we liked properly, and add them to the record. Moods and Astrological were big inspirations.
[SM] You each produce tracks and have solo material & group projects aside from Astral and beyond instrumental hip hop. What is the difference in the creative process when your working on an Astral project compared to solo work or with your group Clear Minds?
Melo: When making Eleven our goal was to have listenable instrumental beats and keep them clean, sticking them all with the same feel…when doing our solo stuff, because there’s no set project or mood, we can experiment and do what we want…for example in our spare time we like to make a bit of intelligent or atmospheric drum and bass and Lobe loves to rap as much as making his beats, [so] when he’s making a rap project it’s a bit different because when your making beats for rap …usually you change the structure…when producing tracks for lobes rap mix tapes [ Lobe: http://www.lobe.bandcamp.com ] we tend to make them more “rap” beats, all in great fun though…With Clear Minds, because we all have our own style, the beats have to be pretty diverse to showcase each member, it’s great fun having all four of us in the studio though because we’re all good friends.
On Drum & Bass vs Hip Hop…
Making drum and bass is a lot different because its a lot more time consuming…With this it’s a similar structure, but a different sound completely. You have airy pads here and then fast drums with a big 808 kick bass here, [while] playing everything on the keyboard, with no samples, takes a lot more time and thought. Hip Hop will always be our first love though…
[SM] What can people expect from the next Astral record?
Melo: People can expect a clean pair of shorts. ‘Eleven’ on steroids, ostarine and creatine [mixed] into one needle. It’s gonna be real different, but at the same time you’ll tell we produced it. It’s still Astral.