After earning his stripes in Brooklyn’s most beloved nightlife establishments, Aquariox emerges as a promising new producer. Through the ancient ritual of tribal dance, he embarks on a modern mission to support the advancement of human consciousness.
We had the chance to talk with Aquariox about his new release on Dance Artifatks, ‘Metanoia’.
Electronic Groove: Hi Aquariox and welcome to EG. Tell us about your musical background. What are your first memories of music and from there how did you evolve on becoming a producer?
Aquariox: Thanks for having me on. I think it’s extremely important not to trust a DJ who doesn’t dance or never did. My progression went from discovery, to dancing, to the desire to drive the vibe through selecting, to a deep need to personally create and wield the vibes being shared, so to speak. The dance music experience is about feeding the soul and that’s what feeds mine now.
This EP wouldn’t exist without the people who took the time to teach me, who took a chance and gave me DJ gigs, and of course, my crew at my side through all the life-changing experiences dance music has brought me. There are many pivotal moments that shaped me into an artist but I will just share a few fond memories.
I heard John Digweed and Nick Muir’s ‘Heaven Scent’ when I was 16 and it opened a portal that has never closed. At that time, none of my friends were remotely interested in electronic music and I had no idea what the rave scene was about, but I knew that this music interacted with my soul in a way that nothing else I had ever heard before did. So I became an avid collector with no thoughts of DJing or producing my own music.
At my first All Day I Dream event at The Well in 2015, Lee closed with the Timo Jahns remix of Sade’s ‘Pearls’ and just as everyone in the place was tearing up and the air on the dancefloor was so electric that the hair on our necks stood up, it was almost too perfect that we must have surely died and gone to house heaven, and then this summer rain began to fall and it washed every one of us clean and I knew that I needed to learn this magic.
So I got to work. A couple years later, I was blessed with the chance to play second in Output’s main room on a Saturday night, opening for Boris Brejcha. Nothing else before or after has felt quite that good, energetically speaking. This moment made me a DJ for life. In the background, I was working in the studio constantly evolving and learning, but it takes a long time to learn to make anything remotely usable let alone good. Fast forward a few more years of hustling and here we are, but this is only the very beginning of my story and the learning never stops.
EG: You are currently living in Brooklyn, right? Is this your native city?
Aquariox: Brooklyn is indeed my home, but I am also a proud Boston native, where my family resides. I moved here with my fiancée and muse 4 years ago because we were so inspired by the energy and creativity and freedom of Brooklyn that there remains no other place for us right now. We moved in together and to New York in one chess move, which more than a few people thought was crazy but we knew we are soul mates and it has served us well.
I fell in love with the scene in Boston scene through Rise Club (RIP) where Mike Swells was booking and playing quality underground sounds straight through the mainstream EDM boom that so many venues bought into. I gained a lot of dance floor XP on Stewart Street between Bijou (still crushing it today) and Rise. I don’t know where I’d be without the friends I met in the New England scene.
Boston is also where my production journey started. I was blessed to be living with a truly amazing person, jazz musician, and educator named Billy Buss (and his lovely wife Lauren, both of whom are also aquarians). Billy opened the door and showed me around, beginning a ripple effect that continues infinitum. Nate Almeida (B3RAO / Junction 27), bless his soul, answered at least a million noob questions after that and taught me to shape my admittedly lame early ideas into dance tracks when I was a ways off from making anything usable.
EG: Your debut EP is coming out on Dance Artifakts. What can you tell us about the inspiration and production behind it?
Aquariox: ‘Metanoia’ is a term that means a transformative change of heart. I’m not saying you’re going to find this every weekend, but if you look hard in the right places at the right times, the dance music experience can be something truly sacred and spiritually fulfilling. Communal dance is one of the oldest and most essential tribal experiences of the human species. The dance music experience, community and creative process were and are a pivotal part of my own path to the light, to evolving, to waking up, and of course, are all a hell of a lot of fun too. That’s the essential core of everything I do with the Aquariox project.
EG: What does it take to make a great dancefloor track?
Aquariox: I’ll answer this as a fan, not a producer. It’s a balance of anticipation and surprise, of story and groove, of nostalgia and innovation, and it must hold space that completely crystalizes the crowd’s experience into a fully present co-experienced moment. And if it doesn’t force people to move their feet involuntarily, then it’s not right. And lastly, if it could also disable all cell phones within a square mile, that would actually be the perfect track.
EG: How did the initial contact with the label happen?
Aquariox: Terron (Dance Artifakts label-head) had been running the Playdate NYC party series for several years by the time we met, and he invited me to play one of their parties and through that, I earned myself a residency, while continuing to hone my craft in the studio. Terron and Stephen Wilson have been my big brothers in sound and I’m extremely grateful to them both.
EG: Do you have any favorites from the label’s catalog?
Aquariox: Lost People’s remix of Jay Skelly’s ‘Last Days’ is a monster truck, Akari’s ‘If I Knew’ gets me right in the feels, and I have to admit that Never More’s ‘Paradise’ set a bar so high that after I heard it, I went back and made another pass of edits to all 3 tracks on my release before publishing.
“Metanoia is a term that means a transformative change of heart”
EG: How were your end of the year celebrations?
Aquariox: To be honest, I had a wonderful time at our private gathering and was quite disappointed upon heading out for the night. Holidays are tough around here; they bring out a lot of passers-through just looking to get bent. I’m also hoping to see continued growth of melodically interesting and energetically positive content taking center stage in the New York scene, especially as progressive house and melodic techno keep evolving.
EG: Do you have any gigs coming up your looking forward too?
Aquariox: I’m very excited to be right back in the studio hiding from winter and finishing up my next EP presently, but I do have something very exciting happening in April that I can’t announce just yet.
EG: Can you share 3 of your favorite tunes on rotation?
Aquariox: At this moment… ‘Eden’ by Coeus (Afterlife Records), ‘Where Is Home’ by Guy Mantzur & Khen (Bedrock Records), ‘Hayling feat. Hafdis Huld (John Digweed & Nick Muir Remix)’ by FC Kahuna (Subtract Records).
EG: Many thanks and we wish you nothing but the best!
Aquariox: Thanks again for the premiere, guys.
Aquariox’s ‘Metanoia’ will be out January 17th . Grab your copy here.