Texture Tape 027:

Airali & L.P.B (Co-Select)

Interview by

Returning after a few weeks off, we’re absolutely delighted to share with you a breathtaking new tape from Airali & L.P.B of Co-Select, a London-based collective advocating gender equality in DJ culture. This killer mix sees the pair dishing out glitchy, odd-socked IDM and drum & bass belters, like being dazzled by brilliantly bright billboards as you hurtle through a busy city at night.

What were your ideas or plans going into the mix?

Ilaria: We approached this mix with the idea of giving a twist to our usual B2B format, both for practical reasons (I live in London, Max is in Madrid), and also because we wanted to try a more extended form of collaboration. So we started sharing ideas on the general mood (get weird) and I recorded the first half trying to interpret that. I had quite a few tracks I thought would work very well together but that I’d never had a chance to play before, so I started from there and then went with the flow. Then I sent it off to Max, who responded with his second half. When we listened to the final result we were both really happy with how the two halves merged together, while still having their own distinct sound. I think this is very representative of a lot of the work that happens within Co-Select, where each one of us cultivates their own musical identity but they all end up complementing each other.

Although it wasn’t exactly planned, we also liked the idea of inverting the usual flow of energy that a lot of DJ mixes tend to follow, where there’s  a more gradual increase, and pretty much ended up doing the exact opposite.

Max: Get weird and have fun! I love playing with Airali. She really pushes me to find the tracks which are kind of clubby but weird and different so that’s what I was trying to showcase.

Co-Select is all about gender equality in the DJ booth – do you feel club culture is doing enough to address representation issues?

Ilaria: We’ve recently been reflecting on our journey and how London nightlife has changed in this respect since we started in 2017 and it’s undeniable that all the female and NB-focussed collectives that have flourished since then have had a profound impact. Balanced lineups are finally becoming the norm and the variety in bookings is noticeable compared to a few years ago. Having said that, this may apply more to the small local scene rather than the bigger parties and festivals, but there’s definitely been a positive shift in the last few years there too.

We’ve also had a big discussion around the use of rigid gender definitions and we’re moving away from strictly having B2Bs with a male- and female-identifying DJ, as we feel this kind of binary language doesn’t reflect our idea of inclusivity.

Max: I think things are definitely moving in the right direction but there is a lot to be done. I certainly feel that since we started, promoters and party goers have started to be more aware of the gender imbalance and now want to support parties which offer something different. This could also just be because now I’m looking out for it a lot more, some kind of confirmation bias!

Big festivals have got a lot of work to do I think, Houghton and Dekmantel need to sort it out a bit. It can be done SO easily (as shown by Primavera Sound last year who ensured they had a 50/50 split).

Soon we won’t even have to think about it, it will be the default, which will be GREAT! BUT there is work to be done yet. Change is happening, albeit slowly.

What have been your favourite recent releases and events?

Ilaria: Lots of excellent releases all the time, hard to keep up, but recently my heart was stolen by: A2A, a collaborative EP by AYA and Air Max ’97; Will Hofbauer’s EP Who Wants to be a Willionaire?; Alexis’ debut EP Refractions on All Centre; Ikävä Pii’s upcoming EP on Too Much Information (track included in the mix); the Hyperboloid 2020 compilation; Arthropods by 33EMYBW on SVBCVLT; Marco Shuttle’s Ritmo Elegante on Spazio Disponibile.

As for events, I had a blast at the last New Scenery party at Grow last month. Incredible mix of music all night and some proper sweaty energy going until the very end. Before that, some of my recent favourite nights have been the first Back2Bed party with JAY and Scientific Dreamz of U and Giant Swan’s gig at Elektrowerks.

Max: Corner at pickle factory. Was a SERIOUS vibe, best I’ve experienced in London probably. Stayed till 5-6pm. I’m a big fan of the Creatures nights.

You perform B2B within your collective a lot of the time – how do your tastes compare and do you find playing B2B provides a more challenging or exciting experience than playing solo?

Ilaria: The B2B aspect came partly from the idea to impose a constraint as a way to “force” more creativity. As cliché as it might sound, it has actually worked that way a lot of the time.

We all have slightly different musical backgrounds that are reflected in our styles and tastes while DJing, which means that between us we span a lot if not most of the dance music spectrum, and hence the B2Bs give us a chance to expand our music choices during a set while still trying to make it sound as if it was coming from one person.

Max: B2Bs are the best. They push you out of your comfort zone, force you to think on your feet and make for a super dynamic sometimes unexpected kind of set. I think it’s more challenging but also way more fun!

What is your fondest memory of a Co-Select performance?

Ilaria: Playing at Waywood, a small festival in the woods, last summer must have been one of my favourite experiences playing and watching a few other B2Bs from our crew. We were on this small owl-shaped stage and the atmosphere just felt right. Also our first time playing at a festival, which made it all the more special. After the stage closed we were still too excited to go to sleep, so we ended up throwing a party  in our massive tent and stayed up all night. It was such a beautiful bonding experience!

Also honourable mention to our resident Will Hofbauer for playing ‘It feels so good’ by Sonique during our last party at Unit 18 a few months ago. I love a good dancefloor moment and had to run to hug him straight away haha!

Max: Being in Grow at the back of the crowd and N.E girl (one of our residents) dropped a remix of Peverelist’s ‘Roll with the Punches’. People went mad, some drinks flying, shaking and climbing the stage where the DJ booth was. She looks up from the decks with this big smile on her face. It was a lovely moment.

Is there a show you wish you could go back in time and experience?

Ilaria: Not a very nostalgic person, but I would have loved to be at Field Maneuvres last summer or go to Brainchild where a few of us played the Lemon Lounge.

Max: Oh gosh, Princess Diana’s Funeral maybe, there was some beautiful music there.

A track you’ve always wanted to play out but never had the chance?

Ilaria: ‘Gaya scienza (third impact mix)’ by DJ $turmtruppen. More of a track that I’ve recently wanted to play but haven’t had a chance (yet).

Max: ‘Miserere mei, Deus’  by Allegri

Your dancefloor saver?

Ilaria: I can’t say I have one, but probably should!

Max: ‘Toxic’ (any edit)

Your favourite club?

Both: Grow grow grow! Where else can you have a banging night, meet the sweetest people, take a break from the dancefloor to eat pakoras at 4 am and get weird on a Sunday morning?

The soundtrack to your funeral?

Ilaria: ‘Angel’ by Massive Attack, just to make the whole thing a bit more dramatic haha. The crematorium would need some fat subs though obviously.

Max: Got so much for this, love the funeral vibe: Anaïs Mitchell – ‘Shepherd’, John Tavner – ‘The Lamb’, Arvo Pärt – ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ just to name a few.

And on a lighter note, the tune you’ll still be listening to in 50 years?

Ilaria: Judging from how quickly my taste changes this tune likely hasn’t been made yet! But if I had to pick right now and hope nothing changes in the next 50 years then maybe ‘Is it cold in the water?’ by SOPHIE.

Max: Pretty much any Skee Mask track, he’s a complete wizard, ‘Flyby VBR’ and ‘Shred 08’ are my particular favourites at the moment. But all of John Tavener, Bach, Brain Eno, Nils Frahm that kind of a vibe.