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Latvia might not be high up on your list of clubbing destinations, but for the enigmatic duo, Queer On Acid, it’s been home, inspiration and a springboard to success.
Queer on Acid are two old friends and partners from Riga who discovered house music back in the 1990s. After many years in the music industry, they decided to form a project and record label with a hooligan title: ‘Queer on Acid’, which is about the gay culture and the electronic music to which they belong.
Hot on the promotion trail following the release of their sensational double A-side release with the legendary Robert Owens, the guys take some time out to chat to our News Editor, Simon Huxtable, about the rave scene, pandemics and their rise to fame.
Hi Guys, glad you can join us at Music is 4 Lovers. Without meaning to be too ironic, how’s your year been in 2020?
QoA: This year has been very odd because of the entire pandemic thing: we had to postpone the electronic music festival UNDER 2020 that was planned for the end of May – we take part in its organization since last year. But despite COVID-19 restrictions all over the place, we had quite a successful season of summer boat parties on open-air decks.
Also, 2020 has been very prolific music production wise for us: we have different monikers we produce music under, so we had releases on King Street, Ovum, Runemark, our label Amber Muse and lately on Shadow Child’s Takeout.
How would describe your sound? House? Techno? Something in between?
QoA: Queer On Acid is in between house and techno with a fat nod to raves and warehouse parties of the ’90s to ’00s.
Ha! that’s fantastic! So you’re on the promo campaign for your new release, the double A-side ‘Take Me/In My Life’ on Takeout. Talk us through the creative process of making these tracks and how you hooked up with the ‘voice of House music’, Robert Owens.
QoA: We used to promote Amber Muse events in Latvia (and sometimes in other Baltic countries and cities), and for the past decade have booked Robert Owens to Riga three times, so this is how our friendship with him started to arise.
Last year we made two new house tracks and felt these needed a vocal part. When Robert came to our Das Boot party last year we offered him to collaborate on the production and he agreed. We sent the instrumental tracks to him and he wrote the lyrics and recorded the vocals in Berlin. So two vocal house tunes were born.
How much of a thrill is it to have a release on vinyl in these times of streaming and digital?
QoA: A great thrill in the digital era and especially in pandemic time! The release was postponed a couple of times since the spring, so we weren’t sure about the vinyl. But finally, records were pressed, and we look forward to getting our copies!
The labels have chosen a couple of really inspired remixers for the project. Exclusively, on the vinyl release is Fear-E and Polymod, and on digital, MASC (Shadow Child and Mark Archer from Altern-8). Did you have any say on the remixers? And what were your first thoughts on hearing how these artists had interpreted your vision?
QoA: We didn’t advise remixers’ names, but could guess Shadow Child himself will make one. In the end, he took part in two versions for the release: under his Polymod moniker and in duo with Mark Archer. We liked that all the producers kept that old-school warehouse vibe we are hooked on as Queer On Acid.
Let’s move on. Tell us about the clubbing scene in Latvia 20 years ago. How much access to ‘Western’ music did you have, and can you remember which DJ was playing the night you guys met?
QoA: Clubbing scene in Latvia two decades ago was very rich. It was the time after the 90s when the electronic music culture came to the ex-USSR through Latvia. And after the Millenium we had few ‘super-clubs’ in Riga, plus smaller underground venues for more sophisticated crowds, and a lot of raves happening around the country.
At the time, Bogdan had his weekly radio show broadcast over the Baltics, so he had access to the upfront electronic music, and played in town with headliners such as Bob Sinclar, Dr. Kucho, Chus & Ceballos, Danny Rampling, and Pete Tong. It was a period when labels used to send vinyl promos, guests often brought some records as gifts with them too, and Juno online record store actually operated since the late 90’s – so there was access to new music… We actually met in a small club located in the backrooms of churches in Old Riga, where Bogdan was DJing that night.
How soon after meeting did the genesis of your partnership develop?
QoA: After half a year or so after we met we already promoted the first party together, and sometime after launched Amber Muse Records, which now is not only a record label but also an events agency, radio production and media company. So we do everything connected to music. A few years after the launch of the label we had a go at music production too.
‘Bad Drama’ dropped in 2019 and was instantly picked up by many tastemakers. What were your first reactions? Shock maybe?!
QoA: Queer On Acid isn’t our first production project. We have been doing music as Taran & Lomov for the past 10 years, and we have received tastemakers support before, but anyways it is always wicked to see the top guns show their love to your new project too.
The groundswell you’ve created over the last couple of years has put you in a good place in the scene. Can you tell us about any plans for 2021 to grow your fanbase even more?
QoA: We constantly work on new music, and besides releasing it on our Amber Muse and Queer On Acid labels, we’re trying to sign some of the tracks to other imprints – we see this as one of the ways of widening our fanbase.
We also do an international Amber Muse radio show (presenting as Taran & Lomov), and this is also a good tool to deliver our music and vision to the audience. Plus, hopefully, we will be able to organize the UNDER Festival next year and play there as well to give our music projects even more exposure.
Finally, we hear you have a new release on Shadow Childs Takeout label next year. Can you give us any info on that yet?
QoA: We have a three killer Queer On Acid tracks that hopefully will come out on vinyl too, hopefully early next year. Looking forward to it very much!