Photo credit: Martin Vivian Pearse
Double Touch define the words “power duo.” Its members—classical piano icon Van-Anh Nguyen and ARIA Award-winning Mark Olsen—bonded over their shared love of house music a couple years ago, and have since combined their shared talents into their new production partnership. They bring a unique flair to both their productions and their live performances, seen through their graceful fusion of classical instrumentation and technique with electronic elements.
We caught up with Double Touch to talk about their new release ‘Wide Eyed’ on the Magician on Duty label.
Electronic Groove: Hi, Van-Anh and Olsen, thank you for joining us today. What a year, right? Where are you based right now? How have you handled the lockdown?
Double Touch: Thanks for the invite. It will definitely be a year to remember! We are based in Sydney, Australia at the moment. We have been here since March, which is when overseas travel was banned in the country. The lockdown has been tough for us, but we have tried to be as productive as possible. We had plenty of forced free time being stuck in one city, so we had the opportunity to write a lot of new music for Double Touch and scheduled our releases in till April 2021. Van-Anh also released a solo Classical Piano album, and I created my first Sample Pack for Zenhiser – ‘Organic House’.
EG: We know you come from different musical paths. How did your story as a duo begin?
Double Touch: We actually met in a music studio in Sydney. Van-Anh was doing a Piano session for me and we realized we had a similar taste in music. We both love Classical and Electronic music so we started to write together over the following year, and Double Touch was born!
EG: How would you define Double Touch sound?
Double Touch: We have released a variety of different tracks so it’s hard to define a sound, but I would say it’s dreamy house music with a blend of live organic instruments with electronic sounds. All of our tracks have at least one live instrument in the mix – whether it’s Cello, Violin, Piano, Vocals, or percussion.
EG: Was there always a clear musical direction with Double Touch?
Double Touch: When we first started writing together we were just having fun and creating anything we felt like playing. Some songs were 70bpm, some were 120bpm. After hearing some releases on All Day I Dream we realized that this was the style we wanted to focus on. It had a blend of Orchestral music and house music, which was a perfect fit for our two worlds.
“It was the first time we had been given the opportunity to request who remixes our music which was amazing”
EG: You recently released a new EP via Magician On Duty including 3 originals and 3 remixes. What was the inspiration to produce the tracks?
Double Touch: All three of the tracks were written pre-COVID, so they definitely come from a more positive time. ‘The Prelude’ and ‘Wide-Eyed’ both have massive inspiration from Classical/Orchestral music.
‘The Prelude’ is a homage to a Bach prelude which you will hear in the Piano during the breakdowns. ‘Sundance’ was originally an instrumental but Adrian from Magician on Duty suggested we try a vocal on there to see how it sounds. We gave it to Reigan to see what she could come up with and she took it to another dimension. We were worried about adding a vocalist into our music at first as we had only ever released instrumentals previously, but his voice is magical and it was a perfect fit!
EG: Was it harder to write new music during the pandemic? How was the production process?
Double Touch: It was easier actually as we were in one place together for so long. We are often in different cities/countries so a lot of our music writing is usually just sending files to each other over Dropbox. It was great to be able to write music together in the same room and also not be pressured by time restraints. Van-Anh had a partnership with Roland and they sent their GP607 Grand Piano to us during lockdowns – it has the feel of a real piano but it can also record MIDI, so we used this quite a lot with writing keys/synth parts. We would record these sessions at home, then I would take the files to my studio and put it all together.
EG: Related to the remixes, can you describe each one, and how was the selection process for each artist?
Double Touch: It was the first time we had been given the opportunity to request who remixes our music which was amazing. Adrian asked who we would like to remix a track and he would reach out to them. We had always loved PHCK from their ADID releases and we were following their new project Flowers on Monday which had just launched, so we were keen to hear what they would do with our stems. They did an amazing job of giving it a dreamy but haunting twist.
Hermanez has been looking after our mastering this year and we love his production skills. He always gets our own music sounding the best it can be, so we knew he would be a great choice for a remix. His version came out so clear and crisp sounding, so it’s no surprise he is the master of mastering!
We were playing some of Evren Furtuna’s music at our gigs and loved his vibe. Salmo Salar with Gab Rhome, and also Enceladus on Saisons were amazing tracks. He was the only remixer we didn’t know personally so Adrian reached out to him and we were lucky enough for him to agree to a remix. We loved what he did with his version, especially chopping up the Piano chords and creating a different chord progression to give it a new breath of life.
“All we really want is to play a gig where people can
dance with no restrictions”
EG: How do you see the future for dance music mapping out?
Double Touch: In Australia it looks like it will be smaller events for the next few months. Nobody is willing to risk putting on a large festival at the moment when government restrictions can change day to day. We are hoping things will be relatively normal by Europe Summer 2021 and outdoor festivals will be back on.
EG: Do you have other releases coming soon? Can you share some info with us?
Double Touch: We have a collab with Bross called ‘Cielo’ coming out on Amulanga in January which also has an amazing Fulltone remix. Also that month we have another collab with Bross on his TrybesOf EP. In February we have a collab EP with M.O.S on their own label which features the ‘Ascending’ track you may have heard on DJs live streams over the last few months. Then in April, we will have our TrybesOF EP coming out. This will be back to our more “after dark” instrumental tunes.
EG: What would you like to achieve during next year?
Double Touch: We would love to finally do gigs in Europe in 2021. We did have our first Europe gigs booked earlier this year but all of those dates were canceled due to the pandemic. Hopefully we can reschedule them for Summer 2021. All we really want is to play a gig where people can dance with no restrictions. We have only been able to perform one event since the pandemic hit us in March and that event was seated only. Dancing was banned.
EG: Thank you for your time, it’s been a pleasure. We hope you have a great end of the year and best wishes for 2021.
Double Touch: Thank you for having us! We are looking forward to seeing everyone somewhere around the world in 2021.
Double Touch’s ‘Wide Eyed’ is out now via Magician on Duty. Pick up your copy here.