Los Angeles-based producer Shallou recently released the remix package for his EP, The Long Way Home, featuring remixes from a smorgasbord of very gifted artists and is highlighted by Holiday87’s version of “Heartaches.”
Shallou explains, “When searching for remixes for this EP, I really wanted to recontextualize these songs for a club atmosphere but still keep the original charm.”
In 2020, Shallou released his debut album, Magical Thinking, which amassed more than 80 million streams, followed by “I Leave Again” with French connoisseur Petit Biscuit, followed by an extensive tour across the U.S. In 2021, he released his Long Way Home EP to vast acclaim.
Holiday87, aka Benjamin Ruttner, is not only one-half of The Knocks but also a songwriter, producer, and record label boss – HeavyRoc and Black Clay. During quarantine, Ruttner came up with the idea for Holiday87, mirroring his return to his musical roots while growing up.
Entry points on the EP include the KC Lights Remix of “Corners,” the shimmering Sultan + Shepard Remix of “Pacifica,” Holiday 87’s Remix of “Heartaches,” and Anemoni’s dazzling remix of “Heartaches.”
XS Noize caught up with Shallou to discover the impetus behind the remixes, his influences, and how he got started in music.
What motivated you to release The Long Way Home Remixes EP?
Post lockdown, people are going back to shows to have fun and dance. I think standing still, slowly bobbing your head, is just not the environment people are looking for right now. After doing the festival circuit a few times, I realized that audiences still go crazy for high energy drops, but I don't necessarily want to make that kind of music all the time. I thought it would be great to enlist some of my favourite producers to reimagine this very intimate, chill EP into something that works in clubs and those high energy environments but still works with my live sets.
How did the remixes come about? Did you contact various producers and ask them to remix certain tracks or what?
Me and the label made a wish list of who we thought could crush it, and luckily a bunch of producers I've been admiring in different subgenres sent versions that I loved. I love how diverse the remixes ended up being - Sultan + Shepard's is like a cinematic journey, whereas BRKLYN's could fit in at any club set.
Which of the remixes is the most meaningful to you personally?
I loved the remix contest element. I thought it was really fun to give out the stems and see what people create. I have a very positive community in my Discord, where I try to encourage new producers and interact as much as I can. I got my start doing remixes for people, so it means a lot to give someone else that chance. The winner, Anemoni, told me this is her first-ever release, and I think it will be really cool to see what she does from here.
How and when did you connect with Holiday87?
Holiday87 is Ben (DJ Broc) from The Knocks. It's his chiller side project where I think he's just having fun making great music aside from The Knocks' brand. Ben is one of the most talented producers I've come across in the scene, and I think will go down in history as an electronic music legend. The Knocks have collaborated with the biggest and best in multiple genres, from pop, hip hop, disco to indie dance and are always at the forefront of what's new and fun. I did a song with them on my album Magical Thinking and had been trying to figure out a way to work together again. I'm so glad Ben was down to try a remix for this.
How did you first get into music?
I started out messing around on my parent's iMac with GarageBand recording my friend's bands and making little beats. I also grew up singing and playing the piano. I was very inspired by the UK Downtempo scene and wanted to make music like that. I started getting traction on the more chill ambient stuff and fully discovered my sound around 2017.
Where are you from?
I was born in Washington D.C. but grew up just outside of it in Rockville, MD.
Did your hometown impact your sound?
It didn't really - I think the thing that stuck most with me was the DIY (do it yourself) scene of local punk bands - buy cheap gear, try to make it sound good and don't try to fit in; do your own thing.
Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you push it deliberately in a certain direction?
I was lucky that the stuff I was making naturally was picking up on streaming, so I rode that wave. I didn't want to get too pigeonholed, so I branched out a bit on ‘Magical Thinking’ and the ‘Long Way Home’ EP. There's still a common thread throughout the music that comes naturally as well. I can't put my finger on exactly what that is, but I think my fans feel it and understand what I mean!
Which artists/musicians had the most impact on your sound?
The trajectory goes Gold Panda, Mount Kimbie, Sampha, James Blake, Jon Hopkins, Bonobo, ODESZA, then lately Bon Iver, Sigur Ros, Coldplay, Novo Amor.
Which artists, in your opinion, are killing it right now?
It's hard to define killing it in the post-COVID era. I think anyone who stayed in music and has been releasing consistently is killing it in my mind because it has been tough to get motivated at times. The UK always has some new bright stars like SG Lewis and Elderbrook.
Who or what inspires you?
Nature, film scores, artists that take risks.
What can your fans expect over the next six months? New material? Live gigs?
Working on new singles, trying to figure out the direction my second album would take. I have a few festivals this summer. Also, getting some live performance/ DJ set fundraising streams up and running soon through Twitch for charities that I'm passionate about.