Paris underground powerhouses in their own right with celebrated solo careers, Dan Ghenacia, Shonky and Dyed Soundorom joined forces in 2012 to become Apollonia one of the hottest trios gracing stages from Berlin to Ibiza. From their energetic debut LP “Tour A Tour” released back in 2014, Apollonia has continued to push boundaries with unforgettable marathon sets and legendary shows at DC10 Ibiza, Circoloco, Timewarp including one of our personal favourites, We Are Fstvl. We were lucky enough to talk with Dan, Shonky and Dyed about their musical journey, unique influences and where to catch them this summer.
Three widely respected musicians in your own rights, When you first began playing together, did you ever imagine the success Apollonia would grow to?
We’ve been friends for more than 20 years now and we’ve always worked together during that time, playing back-to-back many times. Dyed and Shonky had their first releases on Dan’s label Freak n’ Chic. As a group, we enjoyed the same music and lifestyle for many years without making it an ‘official’ set up. At one point, when Dan had to stop Freak n’ Chic, we decided to unite and it was a natural progression for us to get to that stage and make it official. We did things in an organic way, and it’s not that we didn’t expect the success or hope for it, but if you’re calculated about these things then perhaps it won’t go the way you want it to. We’d been playing and working together for so long that it all just worked and flowed so well, we didn’t force it and, when you’re honest with yourselves and the crowd, then things will almost always go in the right direction. It’s been a long time in the making, this is not an overnight success, there was a lot of work, pre-Apollonia, that helped to push us forward when we formed the group.
Do you have unique influences that create Apollonia sounds or do your musical preferences overlap?
We are different ages and from different musical backgrounds in a way, so of course, there are unique influences coming through – we’re different people so it has to be that way. Dan has a bit more influence from new wave, Dyed and Shonky more hip hop and RnB from the nineties. When Shonky and Dyed started going to see Dan play they found they had a lot of common tastes, even if we all come from different backgrounds. All those years of working together, hanging out, playing together, going to after parties, buying records together and so on, has helped to build the foundation of the Apollonia sound. We could play a deep house set or a techno set, depending on where we’re playing but because we’ve shared so many moments together we know how to play harmoniously, no matter what the style. Dan will play one track, and there’s a supernatural, telepathic element to how we play because we are so in tune with each other. We want groovy stuff, high-quality music, hypnotic, a bit sexy… We like to mix genres, going from one style to another as long as it ticks those boxes.
‘Tour a tour’ is over 3 years old now, and the process of its creation has been well documented, do you have any plans for another album or release?
What’s important to us is that our solo careers feed into Apollonia and Apollonia feeds into our solo careers. When we started Apollonia, we put a lot of energy into the album and the world tour that went along with that project. Afterwards, we wanted to spend a bit more time in the studio working on our own solo projects, because you need to find new inspiration and that often happens by moving outside of the project to do your own thing. On the solo tip we can listen to music, work on some stuff and then reunite to bring those experiences back into Apollonia – and vice versa actually. For a while now we have been focused on solo music, and we’re now ready to get back into the studio together and bring what everyone else has learned into some new Apollonia material. We always try to improve what we do and bring something new to the project. When you’re touring all the time together it’s important to have moments where you have time to yourself to work on your own music or to play a solo set somewhere, and then come back to Apollonia fresh. Balance is the key for us, in any kind of relationship, this is important.
Looking back on the process, what was the most enjoyable aspect and if you had to do it again would you do anything differently?
Living together for the duration of the project was amazing. We were DJing together almost every weekend, Dyed and Shonky were living in Berlin and Dan moved there for the winter. We all lived really close to each other and spent our days at Shonky’s studio. Sofia, Dan’s wife, would prepare food for us every day – it was one of those situations where you rarely see anything from the outside world, just good times with good friends and family, working on music day and night. We had a really, really good time. It was intense but a great experience, at the end of the Ibiza season when we were full of ideas. We started in October and finished up in March, April time – Dan loved Berlin in the winter, too.
If we could do anything differently, it would perhaps be to work together in a different city. Doing it somewhere else would be cool but it depends on the studio because we like to play with our toys.
The three of you have lived and played in numerous city’s, how does the London club scene compare to others in Europe?
London is an important city for us. For the three of us, it helped at the beginning of our careers. For Dyed and Shonky, it was the city where they started to go clubbing internationally, hitting places like T-Bar pretty much every month. The club culture is great, the people love the music and love to dance. The city’s atmosphere is unique. It can have its ups and downs, like anywhere, but London is the place where a lot of musical styles came from, it’s a hub and a world centre, especially for electronic music. We play fabric twice a year, a couple of events outside the club with Unleash crew, WeAreFSTVL on top, and we also do solo sets there, so that we can say we have a great relationship with the city.
Name some of your favourite producers at the minute, anyone to look out for this summer?
There are so many, too many actually. It’s difficult to list them all – in fact, nowadays, if you take your eye off the ball for a month or so, then 20 or 30 more names have appeared already. All of them putting out good quality music, too. We’re in a time where a lot of people are buying equipment, putting their heart into making music and it means that there are a lot of good producers around.
What Gigs are you most looking forward to this summer?
We’re back in Ibiza as per usual with our residencies at DC10 and Music On, really looking forward to those. On top of it, we’ll kick off the season with Ants’ opening in Ushuaia mid may! Of course, festival season is also upon us and summertime is looking really busy and exciting. We have WeAreFSTVL in the UK, Cocoon In The Park in Leeds, Hideout in Croatia, DGTL in Barcelona and we’ll make our debut appearance at Neopop Festival in Lisbon in August.
Studio catches fire, you only have time to grab one piece of equipment, what is it and why?
The MPC3000, no doubt. It’s how we start and finish our tracks, it’s perfect for creating the skeleton of a track – you can do just the beats, or the whole track, which is not always the case with other studio equipment. It’s the beast!
Apollonia played We Are FSTVL over the weekend, super early bird tickets for We Are FSTVL 2019 are now on sale here