Florida duo Ascendants have taken their namesake seriously over the past year and are carefully building up their reputation with a string of wonderful remixes and originals. From their early days running the famed event series known as Neon Liger the two have spent time dedicating their craft in the studio and are now ready to continue to show the world what they’ve been cooking up.
The best part? We at LAMP in conjunction with our parent label PUZL Records will be releasing a BRAND NEW original from Ascendants next week! You can get a sneak preview of the track in this mix. MR PUZL got the chance to chat with the Floridians about their early days at Neon Liger, the origins of their name and how they first started working together. Oh and there’s a pretty sweet tracklist at the end of the interview.
MR PUZL: Vijaya and Shaan, welcome to our mix series. What have you got in store for our listeners this week?
Ascendants: We’ve been really into Techno and Tech House with live, tribal sounding drums lately. Naturally we focused on those records but we made an effort to weave back and forth between the two sounds to keep the mix interesting.
MP: Tell us a bit about how you both first met each other. What led to you eventually working together?
Ascendants: I met Shaan through Neon Liger actually (Which we will talk more about a couple questions down). We had a mutual friend that gave me a USB with one of his early solo tracks on it, I played it that night and him and his posse went bananas. I had him become a resident DJ shortly after and a year down the line we realized we were musically in the same wavelength. We started recording together at the end of 2011 and haven’t stopped since.
MP: I love the fact your name is a homophone. In its literal sense it refers to an awakening of the consciousness while as a homonym referring to prosperity. Reflecting on that notion; was there a moment or event in the early stages of this project where the music had reached a maturation point and you were ready to share it publicly?
Ascendants: We retired an older project in early 2015 and immediately started on Ascendants which then was still nameless. We weren’t in any hurry so we literally spent 18 months before we put anything out, it was our longest hiatus. There’s a ton of stuff that will probably never see the light of day, but it was all a learning experience and necessary to get into a new groove. We actually got the name from a video game that us and some other DJ and producer friends of ours spent way too much time on. It was called Destiny, and “Ascendant Shards” were a piece of legendary currency in the game. Actually, our original art direction was heavily inspired by the game as well.
MP: Neon Liger was born in Gainesville, Florida and you’ve just celebrated its 9th anniversary! What inspired you to first create the event series? Why did you decide to call it Neon Liger?
Ascendants: Gainesville is a small town and during that time (Late 2007/Early 2008) there was a couple solid weekly parties that played dance music. It was one of those situations where if you wanted to DJ you had to create your own environment because the others were already spoken for. We were just different enough that we established our own successful niche and the party was able to thrive. The name is pretty silly and actually was named after one of the co-founders pet cat. It worked well because it was unique enough that it always sat at the top of search results.
MP: Northern Florida can often seem like an unlikely place for electronic music to build and flourish. As we’ve seen over the years however that is clearly a misconception with acts like Hundred Waters truly making their mark. What is it about the scene and environment that you both grew up in that allowed for your events and now music to thrive and grow?
Ascendants: Gainesville has always been deep rooted in live music, ever since Tom Petty once called it home. Although it’s mainly known as a punk rock hotbed, there’s been plenty of talent that has owed it’s humble beginnings to the college town. Besides Hundred Waters, artists such as Kodak To Graph and Durante all started to find themselves during their time there. The same could definitely be said for us.
MP: Congratulations on the recent ‘American Surface’ remix. Naturally, I had a listen to the original by Fever 105 and fell in love with the guitar solo at the end of the track. The Supremes vocal sample added just right touch to this. Do you have a particular process when working on remixes versus originals?
Ascendants: Yeah definitely, we try not to remix songs that are already four to the floor dance tracks. We’ve both agreed that it’s counterproductive and in a sense disrespectful to the original record. We liked working on American Surface because we knew exactly where we wanted to take it, and had a deep appreciation for Fever 105’s production.
MP: Speaking of production. What kind of studio setup do you have? Do you usually work in the same space or bounce ideas back and forth remotely before diving into the studio?
Ascendants: We purposely lived next door to each other for several years during the last project. Shaan had a finance degree so about a year after he graduated he knew it was time to leave Gainesville and jump into the field. Since he has a steady income he’s able to fly into Miami, where I live now, fairly often. We used to share a studio but now most of that has been split into our respective homes. As far as gear goes, we run a pretty minimal setup. There was a time that I was buying whatever I could get my hands on but it all ended up being kind of moot. We had all these effect processors, controllers, and synths and just found ourselves using the one tool to rule them all; the mouse and keyboard.
MP: You’ve mentioned that there’s a very specific strategy to your releases this year, and the team you’ve built around you to help execute that.
Ascendants: Yes, shoutout to Marc Singer and his network which has really helped us get organized. We were attempting to do that all ourselves after we found some small successes in our early years. We’re a lot more focused now that we have our individual tasks with the same encompassing goal in mind.
MP: In your recent interview with Magnetic Magazine you mentioned a forthcoming WMC gig on the horizon. Can you share any more info on that with us?
Ascendants: I moved to Miami at the end of 2015 and am very fortunate to be in excellent company. We haven’t locked anything in yet but it’s really just about being patient. My closest friends run a large share of the nightlife market here.
MP: We’re very much looking forward to our forthcoming release ’Timekeeper’ with you on PUZL Records. Do you want to tease anything out about the track?
Ascendants: We’ve included it in the mix, it’s the 3rd track that comes in. It’s in the vein of ‘Drifting” with it’s deep, dark, Techno outliers and probably the closest thing we can call “our sound”. More records like that coming soon, let us know what you think.
Fever 105 – American Surface (Ascendants Remix)
Frost ft Leo Kalyan – On My Mind (Illyus & Barrientos Remix)
Ascendants – Timekeeper (Original Mix)
Mele – Sleepless (Original Mix)
Dario DíAttis, David Aurel – Cuentame (Original Mix)
Raumakustik, Terry Lynn – Dog Eat Cat Eat Mouse (Original Mix)
Offaiah – Run (Extended Mix)
The Golden Boy – Egyptian Lover (Latmun Remix)
Max Chapman, George Meddles – Zulu (Original Mix)
Solardo – Matador (Original Mix)
CamelPhat – Lizard King (Original Mix)
Layton Giordani – Where It Begins (Original Mix)
Ascendants – Drifting (Original Mix)