T.H.E Interview – Eddie Cumana

T.H.E Interview – Eddie Cumana

After the success of “There is only One”, producer Eddie Cumana reunites with Lula and Alan T for this new release entitled “Like An Android” with the addition of Franklin Fuentes featured in a leading part of the Bridge.

This is a Techno Record with “House Music programming, sequences and techniques”, “hypnotic vocal hooks” with “a crowd connecting breakdown” and “4 Industry Veterans” all rolled up into one Record that will see you run to the DJ booth to ask for the song’s ID!

We caught up with Eddie Cumana to learn more about how the record came about, his studio set-up, and his thoughts on how AI is playing a role in the music industry.

Aditya – Hello, we’re glad to have you for this interview. Could you elaborate on the creative process that was undertaken to produce ‘Like An Android’?

Eddie Cumana – Thank you so much! Glad to be interviewed 😉

“Like an Android” which is out on June 2nd 2023 exclusively on Beatport for a month, all started with the inimitable force of nature that is Lula!

lula

Lula needs no introduction to the world of the underground as she entered the speaker in 1997 serving up the vocals for the groundbreaking and chart-topping underground classic, “Goosebumps” by Nylx [aka Danny Tenaglia, Dj Vibe and Rui Da Silva] on Twisted America [] and has never left the woofer since.  

When Lula came from Austria to NYC in 2009 to shoot the Video of Lula vs Alan T “There Is Only One” she also came to the Studio and recorded a few vocal ideas that she had in mind. One of those became “Last Night A Dj Saved My Life” (While Another One Gave Me Trouble) feat Papa Joe which reached Number 6 On the Top Dance Chart in Billboard Magazine] . 

She also recorded songs that Lilla of KULT had written for her. Those resulted in The Underground” by Jonathan Peters [Sound Factory and Pacha NYC Iconic Resident] [Licensed to Eon5 for re-release] and “Hours of Dancing” produced by me [Licensed by FATBOY SLIM for the Mixed CD enclosed in the 30 years of Mixmag Issue.]

Lilla wrote the “Hours of Dancing” hooks but Lula had the idea of the club callings they merged the ideas.  “Hours of Dancing” was also sampled by Eli Escobar for his “NY So.Hi” single off of his debut Album by Night People. Shout out to Fatboy Slim, Eli Escobar and Jonathan Peters.

Among Lula‘s brilliant ideas was one that involved those clubbers who were so meticulously groomed and botoxed, they looked like they belonged in a futuristic android convention. She recorded many funny vocal takes, chattering about these fashion-forward clubbers looking like androids with silicon skins strutting their stuff in Vuitton and Galiano.

We couldn’t wait to share Lula‘s vocal magic with Alan T, who was her co-vocalist on “There Is Only One”.

 But, fate had other plans. Technical glitches got in the way, and before we knew it, the project was put on the back burner. We had a gazillion other releases jostling for attention, including “There Is Only One” [alternative video mix] that took off running and Lula’s debut Album “The Underground Sounds Of Portugal and me”.

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So, we waved goodbye to the android extravaganza, at least for a little while.

Fast forward to 2023, we stumbled upon Lula’s vocals tucked away in a forgotten digital folder. After recording and producing the original track that you hear, I was joined by Lilla to play with the vocals; we embarked on a creative journey to have fun and create a captivating hook.

During our exploration, Lula‘s phrases “The Androids are coming to town” & “The Androids Are Here”  brought to mind Franklin Fuentes “The Robots Are Coming” which also was released on KULT. Franklin “If Madonna Calls” Fuentes is the Self-proclaimed creator of the bitch track genre and undoubtedly one of the most emblematic voices of the New York queer underground.  Inspired by these 2 words connecting, we edited out “Are Coming To Town” and we incorporated a sample from Franklin’s hit track seamlessly replacing Lula‘s vocals that mentioned the same 2 words : “Are Coming”

In addition, we asked Alan T to re-record his own version of the phrase “The Androids.” I am sure you are familiar with Alan T:  Club Space Miami host-extraordinaire and uber famous record performer with collaborations counting many top producers in the underground dance music industry including his and Lula’s smash “There Is Only One” and also co-featuring alongside Papa Joe Aviance in our collaboration with Eddie Amador entitled NOW [Here with Danny Tenaglia performing it.

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We decided to utilise Alan T‘s recording to replace Lula‘s vocals in that particular segment. This resulted in the birth of the catchy phrases “The Androids are coming” and “The Androids are here” with all 3 performers on the hook and we chopped the move dance walk talk like an android to be the other main hook; I then recorded the android remaining vocals using my voice through a Korg Vocoder;

We have lots of unreleased acapella takes from Lula and Alan T and also the idea to do more crossover mashups with “The Robots Are Coming”; Those might give birth to some new dubs with totally different vocals in the future.

[“The Robots Are Coming” is produced by the amazing Friscia & Lamboy / Mixes by Scumfrog, Richie Santana, Ivano Bellini, Gabriel Robella and Frank Knight]

Aditya – What inspired you on this track, and how did you come up with the idea for the sound?

Eddie Cumana – The idea of the sound came out organically playing around in the studio sourcing my inspiration from my countless nights in NYC at world renown night clubs Twilo, Tunnel and Vinyl, Sound Factory, Roxy ect; With an inspiration from the sounds of Kraftwork and Moroder.

Aditya – Is there any specific meaning behind the ‘The Androids are here’ that we hear in the track? 

Eddie Cumana – Absolutely. Once we created those new hooks and recorded new vocals the original idea that Lula had morphed given the times.  With all this talk about humanoid Androids and Ai taking over the world we wanted to make light of that fear and actually do a song of humans imitating Androids in a fun and light way.  

To quote from the Press Release : The “ANDROIDZ” for us are all those humans that use technology in their everyday hustle to free themselves from mundane tasks. Those humans are awake and march to the beat of their own drum without feeding into what society says to value ….

The “ANDROIDZ” are those awoken beings that actually live in the moment and create their life organically and not mechanically and do not follow Society’s narrow norms. They will try everything on for size at least once! Even moving, dancing, walking and talking Like An Android! 

Are you an “ANDROIDZ?”

Aditya – What was the biggest challenge you faced in producing this track and how did you overcome it?

Eddie Cumana – The primary obstacle lies in achieving comparable volume levels to the tracks released by renowned DJs and producers. While these tracks often consist of minimal elements and one-word vocals, making it relatively simple to achieve a loud sound, the situation becomes considerably more challenging when producing a track from scratch with over 30 channels and stems. Striving for a dynamic sound requires a delicate balance, as pushing too hard can compromise the overall dynamics, while not pushing hard enough results in a noticeably lower volume compared to the preceding track.

Aditya – How do you see the future of underground dance music evolving?

Eddie Cumana – Currently, I have a prevailing concern that the underground scene has been infiltrated by a corporate mindset having replaced EDM in the Festival Circuits, causing it to lose its original essence. When individuals contemplate the underground, they envision an environment that fosters uninhibited expressive art—an authentic counterculture that disregards the predetermined output of Major Labels and instead embraces personal choice in music selection. It is a realm where one seeks solace, allowing innovative and emerging music to wash away their troubles.

In our contemporary culture, festivals have become commodified events with high price tags, predominantly catering to the mainstream audiences purely for financial gain. Attendees often find themselves capturing moments with their cameras, fixated on DJs as the performers, rather than actively engaging with the music and experiencing it on a profound level through dance. This phenomenon is perplexing to me, as the true performance of a DJ lies within the auditory realm, with the music serving as a conduit for a transformative bodily connection to the pulsating energy surrounding us. The notion of making the DJ the focal point of attention appears, in my view, somewhat absurd.

Moreover, the social media promotional efforts for these gigs with countless Video Clips of the DJs and audiences with hands up in the air with their tongues out have grown monotonous, lacking originality, and resembling a repetitive cycle. It feels akin to experiencing the same day over and over again, reminiscent of the film “Groundhog Day.”

Creativity cannot be found in repetitiveness and we are at a point where everything is formatted and channelled thus it’s repeated with the aim of exploiting the talent through the corporate machine.

These observations highlight the importance of preserving the authentic spirit of the underground scene, with its emphasis on artistic freedom, personal musical exploration, and immersive experiences. We should strive to foster environments that encourage genuine connection and allow the music itself to be the driving force behind the collective journey. Let us celebrate diversity, innovation, and the true essence of underground culture, rather than succumbing to the homogeneity of corporate influences and to the politically created sets aimed at pushing the dj’s own personal agendas with their own ecosystem front and centre.

A new counterculture is emerging from the depths of the current once underground scene, characterised by impromptu parties that are affordable or even free of charge. These gatherings showcase an eclectic mix of music styles, ranging from broken beats and reggae to drum ‘n’ bass and beyond. They defy the conventional confines of house or techno, which many prominent DJs tend to adhere to within a specific vibe. While the concept of a musical journey is inherently profound, it has gradually become restrictive and lacking in creativity over the years, discouraging many from seeking repetition.

Aditya – What do you think of the latest AI tools in the market? Do you think they will replace artists?  

Eddie Cumana – Well, let me tell you, these latest AI tools are something else! They’ve got all sorts of tricks up their digital sleeves. But replace artists? Ai’s own sourcing is rooted in top human Artists works database.

Sure, AI can do some amazing things, like generating stunning artwork or composing music that will make Mozart do a double take. But let’s not forget, art is more than just the final product. It’s about the soul, the emotions, and the sheer human touch and human vibratory emanations that goes into every brushstroke or musical note played.

While AI tools can be a handy companion for artists, they will never replace the magic that comes from the human imagination. It’s like trying to replace a belly laugh with a computer-generated “LOL.” It just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we should definitely keep an eye on those AI creations. We don’t want them running amok, making fake celebrity endorsements or creating counterfeit masterpieces as it’s been allowed to do already. Let’s have some regulations in place, so these tools stay in line and don’t start thinking they’re the next Da Vinci or get exploited by criminal minded people.

In the end, it’s all about responsibility. Just like a kid with a box of crayons, it’s up to us artists to use these AI tools wisely, to enhance our craft and push the boundaries of creativity. So, let’s embrace the future, but remember, the human touch will always be the secret ingredient that keeps art alive and kicking.

Aditya – What’s your studio setup like? 

Eddie Cumana – Recently, I’ve been exploring alternative methods in my music production by utilising external sequencing and analog recording techniques. The process then undergoes further refinement within the Pro Tools platform, utilising the Universal Audio Apollo Interfaces and leveraging their versatile Unison technology. 

Aditya – Any specific gear/plugin you cannot work without?

Eddie Cumana – While I do not have a singular, go-to piece of equipment, I tend to select hardware components based on the particular direction and feel of the composition. Brands such as Moog, Sequential, and Buchla are at the top of the list for frequent utilisation due to their distinct sonic characteristics and their potential for unique interactions with one another.

As for a plugin that I consider indispensable, the Izotope Ozone Suite is undoubtedly at the top of my list.

Aditya – Do you have any upcoming collaborations among you four? 

Eddie Cumana – It’s funny you should ask because many people have asked the same question! I think Lula, Alan T and Franklin Fuentes, aside from being related by having had their musical start linked to the same producer & DJ,  the awesome Danny Tenaglia, they also share deeper links among themselves: All 3 have had much success in the NYC Club Circuit back when the scene was local. NYC had the biggest local scene in the world in the 90s and early 2000s. All of us who started clubbing in the 90s have heard countless hits by Lula, Franklin Fuentes and Alan T played back to back at Twilo, Tunnel, Vinyl, Sound Factory, Roxy and so forth. These performers are connected by the countless dj’s that supported them and by the speakers that pumped out their voices back to back each night. 

I myself have played many records from  Lula, Franklin Fuentes and Alan T played back to back and I am thrilled to be working with them now. If you would have told me when I was starting out that I would be working with these underground vocalists I would be incredulous! We are surely gonna try to cook something else together as they truly love and appreciate one another and their shared history. 

For now I got all the additional vocals that we did not use to organise for a part 2….as the Androids would say ”WE ARE HERE”

Aditya – Lastly, what advice would you give to up-and-coming artists in the underground dance music scene?

Eddie Cumana – Finding the right path in a dynamic and ever-evolving landscape can be both challenging and straightforward. The multitude of possibilities and emerging approaches make it difficult to determine a definitive course of action, as what holds true today may not hold true tomorrow. Therefore, it becomes crucial for individuals to chart their own course, taking into account their unique perspectives, circumstances, and available resources.

At its core, the solution to this conundrum is surprisingly simple: cultivating a profound passion for one’s work. Sustaining an unwavering commitment to a particular field is paramount. It is essential to remain anchored in this passion, recognizing that the true reward lies in the journey itself. Every day, realising that having the privilege to engage in work that one loves is a great source of fulfilment.

To all the producers and vocalists out there, keep doing your thing!!  Many blessings and thank you for your contribution to the scene with your creativity and talent ! 

And thank you for those that took the time to read this interview 😉

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