Breaking Ties

Interview with Dense & Pika

Breaking Ties

26-11-2013 | 18.48

Individually, Dense and Pika are known as Alex Jones and Christopher Spero, a.k.a. Glimpse. Their own productions stand out as some of the best in house and techno, so it was only natural that this collaboration was to be no different. Their saturated techno sound has produced three stunning EP’s that will no doubt be making a few best of lists this year alone. They will be adorning Trouw’s stage with a live show for this coming Friday’s Audio Culture. The duo took some time out of their busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. 

How did the Dense and Pika collaboration come about?
We both have the same musical vision and wanted to start a project without any expectations. We try to make the sort of music we like to hear and play in clubs. We also share a passion for analogue synths & techno. So it seemed like a good idea. 

We now know you to be Alex Jones and Christopher Spero, a.k.a. Glimpse, but you did try to remain anonymous for this project. Why?
Not really, our aim was to put out music without any connotations or ties to previous labels or monikers, hoping that people would just like the tracks. The live set and touring came as a result of that. Being anonymous was not an important part of it for us, but it was necessary at the beginning in order to get an honest response from people. 

You have worked together as Glimpse and Alex Jones in the past. How does the Dense and Pika sound differ from that?
Working with four hands instead of two in the studio and doing lots of long recording sessions and live jams has helped the sound develop naturally. We also spend weeks bouncing ideas back and forth. The quality control in our minds is a lot higher than our individual projects.

The Dense and Pika productions are somewhat darker than either Alex Jones or Glimpse. Is there anything that has influenced this approach?
Using old kit and tape players gives us a much crunchier analogue sound that lends the productions a darker tone. Neither of us are massive studio geeks but we do have a lot of kit and don't know how to use allot of it properly so we end up finding ways to use things in our own way. Generally abusing saturation and EQs. We know how we want the tracks to sound so we just keep doing stuff to the mix until it sounds the way we want it to. 

Apart from the Whitelabels, all your releases were on Hotflush. Was this a conscious decision or happy circumstance? (Why did you specifically choose to release on Hotflush?)
Paul (Scuba and Hotflush Boss) blackmailed us!

You both have your own labels. Why was it not an option to release anything on either of them?
Dense & Pika was a new sound for us. We felt the new project deserved a new label with no ties.

You are doing a live show for your appearance at Trouw and judging from your previous listings, this is a preference of yours. Was this one of the pre-requisites for the creation of this project, or something that was decided later?
The aim of our live set was to try and recreate our studio environment on stage, so we could play in a spontaneous manner that kept us both interested. 

Your latest EP, Colt features a house inspired piano riff on the title track, which to me sounds like it could have originated from Christopher. Is each person assigned a role in the project or is each track approached in a unique way?
Actually that was Alex. We both have lots of ideas in all areas of production. Hopefully the best ones make it onto the record regardless of whom they are from. 

Does the same apply for your live show?
We have selected roles with the live show because you have to. Chris is generally triggering clips & the 909. And Alex is on various hardware synths, loops and out board effects. 

Lastly, Where does the name Dense and Pika come from? At first I, thought it might be a reference to each artist, but then I couldn’t believe that either of you would consider Dense as an alternative moniker. 
Guess again.
Text: Mischa Mathys