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Dense & Pika talk techno in Ibiza

The British techno duo on why the genre has no boundaries

As a production duo, Dense & Pika have been knocking out a unique breed of industrial techno since 2011. When they first infiltrated the dance circuit with a series of white label releases, their identities were cloaked in secrecy, but after the dance community stood up and took notice with an EP release on Scuba's label, Hotflush, they were revealed as one part production dynamo, Glimpse, and other part label owner of Hypercolour.

Over the course of the past two Ibiza seasons they've been fuelling their reputation as a formidable pairing, with techno transmissions at Space, DC-10, Vista Club at Privilege, Benimussa Park and Ushuaïa. In 2016, their authority is advancing with an EP on Drumcode, remixes for Audion and Tiga, a retrospective compilation on Hotflush and gigs across Europe, Australia and Asia. Out here, on our little techno-soaked island, they've drilled in support for ONYX - Mikaela's new progressive venture at Space – and they'll be returning in support of another residency making its debut, Solid Grooves, as well as returning to island favourite, Paradise.

After their first Ibiza date of the season and in between dicing across global destinations, we got the lowdown from them on what keeps their techno clock ticking.

What is it that appeals to you most about techno and why?

"Of all the genres within electronic music techno is definitely one of the most open. It can be so many different things - from hard, soft, deep, melodic, driving, emotional, fast, slow and everything in between. It's got no boundaries so anything is possible. This means as an artist you can operate very freely."

So given the popularity of techno at the moment, do you feel it's a particularly exciting time to work in the industry?

"Definitely. At the moment electronic music in general feels like it's going through a surge in popularity - now it's main stage music. For example, we played to 15,000 people recently at Awakenings and we didn't have to compromise the music we played at all. There are also lots of great young producers coming through all the time, which is exactly what keeps the scene fresh and exciting. The whole industry is fed on youth so keeping younger generations engaged in the music is the key to its longevity."

What's the biggest challenge in producing techno?

"Without a doubt, trying to carve your own sound. Technically making music has never been easier due to all the new cheap software out there. But it's important for young producers to do it themselves rather than chuck someone £200 to make a track for them in a day. People seem to be in such a rush to get a 'bomb' record out as fast as possible, and they don't realise that it can take years and years of learning, trying, and often failing. The most important thing is to do it yourself - get some kit, learn how to use it, press record and have fun. That is when the most exciting things happen. Once you know how to make sounds the way you want them the rest is essentially decision making."

What countries would you consider to be major players in your success?

"We have been touring relentlessly for two years now, so we've played in most countries, but the ones we especially enjoy are Holland with the Awakenings crew, obviously Fabric in London, and Ireland and Scotland never fail to impress. Ireland especially has got a really exciting scene at the moment - great crowds and really strong line-ups. We play there about seven times a year at and it's always packed to the rafters and going off the whole night."

What's your current studio setup?

"We have tons of kit in our studios, ranging from modulars, drum machines, various synths, compressors, Valvee Eqs, loads of out board stuff, guitar pedals, guitars etc. However, we are not particularly interested in kit - it's just stuff that's accumulated over the years. Some of our best music was made on the most minimal equipment. Having too much kit in the studio can be quite distracting. It's far more useful to have fewer machines but know them inside out."

From Alex's Hypercolour label to Dense & Pika's Kneaded Pains, how do you look at acquiring new music and artists?

"We just wait for things to land in our laps that are a bit different, really - going out and asking people for music is not really our thing. We're not after a massive roster of acts or anything like that, so we never go out looking for stuff. The idea of Dense & Pika at the beginning was just to put out our own music on some hand stamped white labels with no press, no Facebook or socials, and see what happens. And if the music was popular we would do some touring - luckily it worked out. Our management persuaded us it would be a good idea to get a Facebook account so we've had one for a couple of years now."

Can you tell us a little bit more on one of your recent signings, Melody's Enemy?

"Melody's Enemy are actually a couple of drum'n'bass producers, so they have a really interesting view of techno that you can hear in their tracks. We are putting out an EP from them after the summer with a remix from us. It's easily been the biggest track this summer for us."

You've recently done remixes for Audion and Tiga. How does the creative process differ when putting your own spin on someone else's work as opposed to producing your own?

"We are very selective when choosing remixes - it has to be something we are both 100% behind rather than just any old techno record. Remixing is about putting your own view on someone else's music and giving it your own stamp - we spend months on ours."

You've been playing at different venues in Ibiza for several years now - this year you're back at Paradise, but you're also with debuting parties, ONYX and Solid Grooves. What are your feelings on being back with an island favourite and building what could potentially be big Ibiza brands from the beginning?

"We always enjoy playing in Ibiza, whatever the venue. Onyx was great and has really unusual line-ups for Ibiza, which is very refreshing to see."

We love Ibiza for being a hedonistic clubbing haven. What are some of your weird and wonderful memories of Ibiza's dancefloors, either as a clubber or DJ?

"We played after Dave Clark at We Love a few years ago. He's obviously a brilliant DJ and a very hard act to follow. He completely tore the roof off and left us at about 142 bpm to close the main room with our live act, which was challenging."

Elsewhere, your touring/gigging schedule in 2016 has been fairly packed. How do you balance globetrotting with family life as parents?

"We both have families and touring vs family life can definitely be a hard thing to balance. Saying that though, both our wives are really understanding and have their own careers. I don't think either of us will be taking our kids or wives on the road anytime soon though."

WORDS | Aimee Lawrence

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