From its humble beginnings as the dark, throbbing soundtrack of underground parties, to the hand-raising euphoria of today’s late night anthems, progressive dance music has evolved and refined itself into what has become the choice of a generation of electronic dance enthusiasts. As the sound gains popularity around the globe, talented producers are emerging everywhere at a shocking pace. Perhaps none are so well poised to bear the torch for America as Deepsky.
Hailing from Los Angeles, J. Scott Giaquinta and Jason Blum, the electronic production duo that make up Deepsky, are New Mexico natives who have produced world-class music that has impacted dance floors and stunned armchair listeners alike for almost a decade. Their style and dedication have pushed them to the forefront of progressive dance music. Even their earliest recordings for the seminal independent label Fragrant Records (which helped jump start their career as well as those of Christopher Lawrence and Sandra Collins) remain well loved and highly sought after by DJs and fans alike around the world, and their relentless, high-energy live performances have garnered critical acclaim throughout the North American continent.
Deepsky will celebrate an important milestone with the release of their first full-length album of original studio tracks for Kinetic Records, In Silico. The self-produced material features Deepsky’s signature driving rhythms, keyboard passages and tricked-out melodies, many of which are based In Silico–essentially, “in the silicon”–with an overwhelming majority of the music created in the digital realm using virtual instruments. “Originally we considered calling it Deus Ex Silico, or ‘God from the silicon’, but we found that to be a bit too much of a mouthful,” says Jason. “The computer is the ultimate musical tool for us. The technology behind music production has finally progressed to the point where a single PC can produce professional results, effectively replacing an entire studio full of gear. While a few traditional keyboards and outboard processing units were used on this album, the vast majority of the music was created and mixed entirely in the computer-entirely In Silico-and we wanted to acknowledge that with the album title.”
A few of the album’s highlights include the stunning first single “Jareth’s Church,” a beat-based track titled for a friend named Church and his son Jareth in their home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico; the opening “View From A Stairway,” which features in their sonic landscape Spanish classical guitar played by Scott’s step-grandfather; “Mansion World,” a Deepsky rework of the single by the Elijah Blue-fronted band Deadsy; and “Three Sheets To The Wind,” on which label mate Dave Ralph lends his production hand. (An early version of Deepsky’s “Until The End Of The World” appears on Ralph’s most recent mix CD Naturalized. Another single of note is the fiery “Smile,” which features the voice of Saffron, the lead singer of former U.K. group Republica, marking the group’s first time working with a live vocalist. Originally titled “Shot Down In Flames,” the song features not only her dynamic vocals but her lyric and vocal melody writing skills as well.
Scott and Jason met in Albuquerque more than a decade ago through mutual college friends. The two initially came together as rave promoters and organized some of the first dance music events in New Mexico, but both quickly realized that their passion lay not in organizing raves but in the music itself. “We both had keyboards-well, one keyboard each,” says Jason, “so we figured if we pooled our resources, we might be on to something…” Indeed they were, as the duo continued collecting a formidable arsenal of studio equipment over the next decade and brought it to bear on a wide range of successful singles and remixes.
Deepsky’s success began with the duo’s first commercial release, a three-track EP on Rampant Records titled “In My Mind.” The title track landed a coveted spot in Nick Warren’s mix for the best-selling compilation Cream Live 2. Shortly after the success of the first EP, their follow-up release “Tempest” was selected as the theme song for MTV’s novel electronic music video program “Amp” and also appeared on Nick Warren’s Global Underground – Live In Prague. This high-profile placement rocketed Deepsky to new levels of worldwide recognition and opened the doors for a flood of additional licensing and remix work.
In 1997 Deepsky parted ways with Rampant Records and began a new relationship with Los Angeles-based independent label Fragrant Music. The new partnership was a dream fit-a production team with a clear focus on groundbreaking electronic music, and a label with its sights set on breaking the genre in America. Deepsky’s first Fragrant release, “Stargazer” was an international smash hit. Caned by DJs like Sasha, John Digweed (which appeared on his Global Underground – Live In Sydney mix compilation), Nick Warren, Micro, Tom Harding and other heavyweights around the globe, “Stargazer” blazed straight to the top of numerous charts around the world, establishing Deepsky as a significant force to be reckoned with in progressive music. In 1999 the single was re-released with slamming new mixes by Andy Ling, X-Cabs, and Meat Beat Manifesto-a testimony to the staying power and worldwide demand for the timeless classic.
Two years after the initial release of “Stargazer,” the duo produced a strong follow-up record titled “Cosmic Dancer,” featuring vocals by world music major Jai Uttal. The beautiful fusion of Uttal’s remarkable voice and Deepsky’s pulsating music earned a ranking by the U.K.’s premiere dance music authority magazine Mixmag as the fourth best Trance track of the year (1999). A remixed version of “Cosmic Dancer” appears on In Silico, breathing new life into the song. “Fans of the original will definitely appreciate it,” says Scott.
With work appearing on more than 30 12″ singles and numerous compilation and mix CDs, it’s no surprise that industry heavyweights such as BT, Carl Cox, Sandra Collins, The Light, Energy 52 and others have sought out Deepsky for production assistance and remix work. In 1998, Deepsky paired with Sandra Collins and produced “Red” and “Ode to Our,” two hard-hitting tracks that created considerable international buzz and quickly found their way into the record boxes of progressive luminaries like DRC and John Digweed. Their remixes of Carl Cox’s “Phuture 2000,” Kaistar’s (a BT project) “Promethean Groove,” Energy 52’s “Café Del Mar,” and numerous others continue to be peak hour favorites around the world.
Although Deepsky’s vinyl has achieved remarkable success on its own merits, the duo are by no means a studio band alone. Their live performances are at the very core of the grassroots following they have been building in America for the past six years. The many die-hard fans that travel hundreds of miles to catch a show are a testimony to the cult status Deepsky shows are attaining with dance music aficionados around the North American continent. Few live performances of progressive dance music offer the same intense presence and raw energy as a Deepsky show, with Scott skillfully manipulating effects and synthesizers and Jason relentlessly pounding away at electronic percussion. The performance is rapidly becoming the stuff of legends and remains a favorite with audiences and promoters alike worldwide. A national tour to support In Silico is in the works for February and March.
The new millennium promises to be a remarkable era for electronic music as Deepsky moves boldly ahead and further defines the progressive American sound.