Many moons ago, a chance meeting in the sky resulted in one of the more dynamic duos in modern dance music today. Pig&Dan, Igor Tchkotua & Dan Duncan, can be simply described as Spanish island dwellers (although Dan is an expatriate from the UK), world travellers and passionate producers. If you listen to their music you know they are simply good and so much more than that. With positive attitudes and innovative minds, they are the perfect people to provide a soundtrack for your night, be it one with fresh techno, underground vibes or chill out soundwaves.
Not defined by genre, only assured to focus on fun, these two great guys know exactly what to do to get it done. Their career has been a long one, starting out as talented solo acts, but they have taken off with their effective collaborative synergy, and now at the top of charts is their familiar territory. Frequently releasing on some of the biggest labels, and building up their own label ‘Elevate’, Pig&Dan cultivate a definitive sound that is loved by many, certainly by this author.
Recently I had the illustrious pleasure to spend some time with one half of Pig&Dan, Dan Duncan, and his wonderful attitude and seasoned insights confirmed that Pig&Dan is a group with substance, style and amazing personality. So, good music lovers, read on, and aspiring producers, pay extra close attention; Mr. Duncan dropped some beautiful wisdom you really need to let sink in.
Your latest release, Sandstorm, is doing quite well! How do you gentleman feel about it?
Extremely impressed by the support we have had. It’s been outstanding. Today it went to number 4 on Beatport techno charts and we were very much hoping it would have that reaction because on the dance floor it seems to be one of our strongest tracks in the last year since we released ‘Savage’, which was another one of our tracks that had hit the top five on Beatport.
Overall, of course we are ecstatic by the reaction. It’s been amazing, and the support in general for Pig&Dan right now is just overwhelming.
It’s a great EP and I can’t wait to see what else you guys come up with!
We’ve got some other things in the pipeline. In fact, they’re ready to go and we’re going to push that envelope a little bit further because if you’re lucky enough to be in a spot in your career that’s a bit hotter, then I think it’s a great point to push the envelope a little bit instead of just sticking to the same line. We always do that!
As it is well documented that you two met on a plane flight many years ago, do you remember exactly how it went down? How did this beautiful thing known as Pig&Dan come about?
Basically, I was flying from London to Mallorca, where Igor (or Pig) is from. He’s from Mallorca which is an island off of Spain, it’s a Spanish Island next to Ibiza. We were both on the same flight and he happened to overhear me talking about music with a guy beside me, he (Pig) was just one row behind me, and he sort of leant forward and said, “Hey! I’m a bedroom DJ and I heard that you had some success!” because at that time I was a drum n’ bass DJ that had quite a good career going on. So, I had been discussing music, and he leant forward and said, “I live in Mallorca, I’m very into music.” We talked very briefly and as we got off the plane we had another talk on the bus on the way to the terminal, swapped telephone numbers.
Ironically we never contacted each other for about another two years when a mutual friend of ours said, “Hey, you guys should hook up,” and he was referring to him as Pig, but I met him as Igor, so I didn’t put two and two together. So I went over to his house and I still didn’t clock the fact that it was the same guy that I had met on the plane until I left his house. I called him back straight away and I said, “Listen, you’re not going to believe this, but we met on a plane about two years ago!” and he said, “I can’t believe it! We have to do something together because it’s obviously fate!” It’s one of these situations where we both said “Look, we have to try working together because it seems we were meant to,” and the rest is history.
It worked out. It’s often very hard to have that synergy that we have together in the studio with other people.
What are a few words you would use to describe the Pig&Dan sound and aesthetic?
You know, we don’t stick to genres, so let me think of a few words. Dynamic, explosive, energetic, good time music, smiley face music I would say.
Why are you not concerned with genre in your production process? Are you just making music for the love of it and figuring it as you go?
Absolutely. I think from the very first day we were never really influenced by a scene because we were both living on this tiny island, and there is no kind of scene here. It’s not like if you live in London or in New York or LA or Berlin, you know, everybody kind of feeds off each other about what is happening at that point musically, whether it’s a minimal techno movement or tech house. We just wrote music that we wanted to DJ really, that’s the actual reality.
We’ve never ever thought about writing a track for one kind of genre and I think in the end it did become an advantage to us because it spread to a wider audience whereas sometimes it can be negative, being too wide variety, you know?
We’re just about to release an album with dub reggae, some soul, funk, and chill out on it. I don’t know where we’re going, that’s why the album is called ‘Destination Unknown’.
I was actually going to ask, are there any plans for an album in the near future?
Yeah, in fact, on the first of September, we’re releasing an album on Bedrock. This album came about because John Digweed actually called us and requested a track for an Ibiza chill out album, and I said, “Well actually as it happens, we have a whole album of chill out, maybe you could pick one of the tracks out of it.” We sent it over to him and he wrote straight back, “Actually I really want to sign the album.” However, he did suggest that we do a second part of the album, a second CD which was not just based on chill out music. We of course took that challenge, as we adore a challenges, and produced an album which has hip hop and soul, and a lot of voice, a lot of jazz. You know, different, really different diverse genres, completely different. So far, the reaction from the people that support us in the techno world seem to be really happy about accepting that.
Along that, what do you think are the strongest genres currently this summer in your opinion?
Well in Europe it’s very different from the states. I think Europe is quite spoiled on the electronic side which is quite ironic because actually Detroit and New York created that kind of whole electronic thing. It seems in the states right now, it’s a very fresh, new exploding market, the techno market especially. But in Europe, it’s always changing. You’ve got the dubstep, the electro, the drum n’ bass, the technoheads, but it’s an ever evolving scene here because everybody is very into being trendy. Techno is one of the only genres that has lasted through the whole comings and goings of genres in Europe and it seems to go from strength to strength in the states as well.
When you produce in the studio, how do you go about collaborating exactly? Is there a specific process or set of standards that are adhered to? Or do you go in there and let it happen and possibly have some intense fights along the way?
Well we used to have intense fights, but things changed purely because we have a lot more demand for us on the DJ circuit right now, so actually, honestly speaking, we write most of the ideas on planes. 90% of the collaborating part is on aeroplanes sitting thirty thousand feet above in the mile high club and becoming very inspired. We inspire each other a lot because Igor is a completely into the weird side and I am the more musically educated guy, so you have that mix and match of your melodic and musical side mixed with your dirty, strangeness of Pig, rolling round in his mud.
The end process is, we have two studios and we’ll both work on projects that we started and we’ll send them over to each other, but all the work is always finished in my studio because I do more of the production and the end result sound, the finishing touches are always done in my studio.
What is going on with your label, Elevate, this year? Exciting releases on the horizon?
We’re really proud to be presenting Dantiez Saunderson who is the son of Kevin Saunderson, you know one of our absolute idols and definitely one of the godfathers of the whole dance music scene. After working together with Kevin on the ‘Good Life’ remixes, we started listening to his son who is absolutely killing it right now with fantastic productions. Apart from that we have some new stuff coming up from Tom Hades, who is a very big Belgian producer over here, he’s got a massive amount of respect. Also, Steve Parker of Portugal, one of the people who works under Ovum, Josh Wink’s label. What we are trying to do is, you’re always trying to build a sound that is recognizable, but not linear. It’s not like, “Oh yeah, another elevate track…” but we do want to have a signature sound, and we are very picky about the fact that the production is exact. We’re very lucky that people are really sending us some amazing work at the moment, so the label is going from strength to strength.
We are about to have our first ever event in Amsterdam at the Amsterdam Dance Event, which is a festival that happens every year. We’re very excited about launching the events as well because we have a whole load of DJs that we would love to help get further with their careers and I hope as a team we can all bring some damn good times to people out there, you know, it’s what it’s all about!
How is Ibiza this summer?
It’s definitely, extremely full. I feel that if I am really honest about it, the scene has changed quite a lot, purely because of the EDM sound getting much more of the limelight. I mean, there is still a huge techno events, and they’re doing very well, but it seems to be becoming more and more VIP status and VIP tables and people throwing champagne over each other; whereas Ibiza was always about hippies and wealthy people getting together and not caring about who’s who and who’s wearing what. It was a very open kind of feeling.
I’ve been going for, gosh I don’t know how long, since 1987 I’ve been going there and I have kind of watched it evolve in a very positive way. However now it seems to get this more VIP thing, and I think that kind of takes the wind out of the sail for the people who are there for the music and just want to go and have a good dance, not care about what kind of clothes they are wearing, you know what I mean? Just let their hair down and have a silly night out, or a number of silly nights out, but it seems this time both Pig and I were a little bit shocked, this year definitely has more of that VIP status kind of feeling.
It’s changing, but you know change is a good thing, it’s just let’s see where it goes from there. I mean Enter. and Cocoon are both KILLING IT! Richie Hawtin and Sven Vath and you know that whole techno thing, Carl Cox night, they all are really, really full and I’m extremely happy about that.
I’ve been observing the Enter. parties and loving all the stuff coming out of there, as well as the Suara parties. You just played one of those parties recently, correct?
Yeah, absolutely, it was great, it was completely full, it was ramped. It did have a fantastic energy. It was in a club that I have never played, actually I had ever been at called Boom! It’s only existed for about three years. It’s a much smaller club than the sort of mega clubs, you know your Amnesia, your Pacha, or your Space. It’s a much smaller club, it’s definitely got a fantastic sound system, lights, they’ve definitely put a lot of positive energy into it. I think it’s definitely something that will build up over the next several years.
As I follow you on social media, you guys seem to keep a good sense humor while traveling. Is this intentional fun comedy or merely a coping mechanism to keep from going insane traveling the world over?
No, no, we are both bonkers, we’re mad. I think anyone who gets into this kind of job and works as hard as we do, it’s a very much seven day a week kind of thing, you have to be a bit off the normal path. We would never record a video or make a comment unless it’s with the correct feeling. It’s definitely not an act, it’s a reality. Whenever we do something, like Pig&Dan TV, or some stupid remark, it’s because that’s what naturally came to us. It’s nothing acted. We are humorous, we are humorous with each other and very much look at our job as not incredibly serious, it’s about fun. I said it before, it is all about fun and entertaining people, and you know, we’re not these kind of DJs talking about how long we mixed two records together. It’s much more about what is going on with the crowd and we are devoted to having fun, we are very privileged people and lucky to travel the world and do what we love. If you’re not happy doing that, then you’re in the wrong thing, big time.
On the topic of travel, what are you favorite venues or cities around the world?
Right now, well, there’s a lot, but definitely Buenos Aires in Argentina, it’s on fire. The crowds in Argentina in general in all the cities, every DJ I meet and agrees to the same thing that Argentina has the crowd which is on fire. In Buenos Aires there is a club called Crobar which is just outstanding. It holds a huge capacity and it has an LED ceiling which is about 400 feet by 200 feet and they are very clever with how they light it, which I think is very important. If you have a dark club, which we love, that sometimes explodes with light or strobes or this dynamic, it’s such a big difference, when you work in that kind of environment, and Crobar definitely know what they are doing. If you are going to ask me what is my favorite club in the world right now, that would definitely be number one.
Also, Tokyo, amazing. Holland, every time we play in Holland it seems to be incredible venues and the festivals are amazing. you know there is a lot of stuff going on right now all around the world, which is blowing our minds really.
What are your favorite tracks right now?
Wow, there’s obviously quite a lot of them, but if I have to point out three, I’ll give you the names and the artists of course.
Number one is ‘Does It Matter’ by Skober, which is an absolute stonker when you play it out, the crowd just goes insane, very dynamic record, and it seems to fit very well in a Pig&Dan set.
Number two is ‘Workout’ by Truncate. Truncate, we just seem to love everything they produce, it’s got a certain raw dirt to it, that’s just very loopy, but super refined. I mean I take my hat off to Truncate, I wish we could produce like them.
Third, last but not least, Hinz & Rumhardt, they’ve done a track called ‘Doch’. It’s also another anthem of the summer, it just blows every dance floor we drop it on to pieces. It’s a bomb definitely worth putting in your record bag.
Any parting thoughts or words of wisdom for aspiring producers?
It’s all about commitment. I think you have to be ready to dive into something like this with your full life. You have to live it, I’ve been down that road where I’ve literally starved, gone out on the street and asked people for a cigarette, back in the days when I smoked because you have to devote yourself to this.
Another thing that I think is very important is to realize that a song is never finished. Part of our evolution is we realized you do a track and then you move on, quickly. You don’t think about whether that was good or bad, or you could just change that little thing, just make a track and when you think it is okay, move on, do another track. There is no such thing as a finished record. You could spend a year writing a track, it just doesn’t matter. What happens, is the more you do it, the better you become at it, and the easier it becomes. So even though you producing a lot and you are throwing perhaps twenty, thirty percent of the records in the trash, you’re evolving much quicker than somebody who just tried to work for three or four weeks on one track. You get stuck and it’s a hole.
I’d say the two main factors are devotion and having the ability to move on from a track and finding that you’re satisfied with it, but you’re never satisfied with it because it just never exists, you can always make it better.
And feel free to follow me on twitter @kirkthewilliams.