An interview with Wolf + Lamb

With names as wacky as theirs, Zev Eisenberg and Gadi Mizrahi, were never going to have what one might call a normal career path. That’s not a bad thing. No one could have predicted the phenomenal influence this duo, and their namesake label, has had over the past few years. Wolf & Lamb’s roster looks like a who’s who of prominent electronic artists today, including Nicolas Jaar, Deniz Kurtel, Soul Clap, Seth Troxler, Miguel Campbell, Pillowtalk, Slow Hands. When pushed to describe Wolf + Lamb in three words, Zev looked completely stumped while Gadi instantly proclaimed that ‘the third word would definitely be weird’, what the other two words are no-one’s ever really found the terms adequate enough, let alone Eisenberg and Mizrahi themselves. But that, is exactly where the beauty of their production lies, and is the most likely secret to their success. What sits at the heart of Wolf + Lamb is one large refraction, when you finally think you’ve pinned down a suitable term to define them, they’ll drop in something completely different, one moment, the ethereal haze that is a Nico Jaar record – the next, a funky mash-up that is trademark Soul Clap.

It’s true however, that there is an innate passion for Disco that oozes out of their records, coupled with belief in a deeper kind of sound that has characterized the groove they have carved since opening The Marcy Hotel in Brooklyn in 2005. Pertinent dance publication DJ Mag called The Marcy, along with Berlin’s Panorama Bar, ‘the ultimate pilgrimage for thrill-seeking dance tourists’, high praise indeed. The vibe was one so enticing that many passionate dance followers were said to have actually moved to New York only to glumly realise that these underground parties, often announced only 24 hours beforehand, were not a weekly occurrence. This is typically in keeping with Wolf + Lamb’s fundamentally nomadic nature, causing many to outcry that the Big Apple offered nothing that satisfied their newly acquired taste quite like that instilled at The Marcy. That’s not to say it’s been an easy ride, Zev has been diagnosed with cancer. Twice. There’s also the tepid reaction their sets have sometimes received by particularly vociferous ravers, whose appetite for all night head banging doesn’t quite connect to the smooth nature the duo profess, even in the peak hours after 2am. Nevertheless, their progress remains aesthetic to watch, not to mention bullish with numerous other labels branching out of the duos hub, including Gadi’s own Double Standard Records.

An important milestone in the Wolf+Lamb journey was and is Burning Man festival, where the pair went after initially meeting and still regularly attend, whose mantra is officially that of ‘radical self-expression and self-reliance’. Such a philosophy makes their coming together slightly less unlikely thanks to obvious mutual inclinations, yet no less fortuitous for the rest of us. Burning Man was the point of clarity, when the duo realised that dropping Chaka Khan or even Wham! at 7am can be exactly what a night’s crowd of survivors wants, even needs. Their subsequent output has been cut from a different, silkier cloth and lightly touched with a feeling of fun. Different yet significant, anarchic yet perceptive, Wolf + Lamb don’t look set to become any more predictable on their current tour, which sees them play the System & Flux stage at Mint Festival this weekend, Saturday 29th Sept. We managed to catch up with them ahead of their set.

Do you guys still produce together? You seem to have lots of different projects?    

Yeah, we just spent 5 weeks in our studio… or rather a setup on the back patio of our summer house in Mallorca.. right now we’ve got Pillowtalk and Navid Izadi snoring on our couch and Deniz Kurtel just left, we’ve been working on music pretty much nonstop together and with everyone else who traipses through here. we’ve got an EP slated for release in a few weeks and our second full-length album in early 2013.

Is the Marcy still active as a party place? Did you know it would  grow into something so special when you started?    

It’s always been open in some capacity but we’ve had to take it back underground in the last few years. We had a really good feeling about the place and the magic as soon as we embarked on it. we spent months of careful work on the space before it opened but as soon.

How have your tastes evolved over the last year or so? What excites you?   

We’ve calmed down a lot, we take a lot less drugs less often but we’ve also gotten a much deeper appreciation for music that’s more melodic and song-like and of course our music and all the music from our artists has come to reflect that. hearing a new sound, or even a sexy new twist on something is really all that excites now, which is work for the artists, and us, because we always want something new.

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Zev, how is your health now?

I’ve been in full remission for close to 4 years now, the struggle turned out not to cure my cancer but instead to stay on point with my health regimen and making decisions to increase my health and vitality when it’s not always what’s going on around me.. so far so good, on borrowed time and I’m taking full advantage of it.

Gadi, how do you know if something is right for Double Standard vs  the W&L label, say?   

Programming labels is a lot more complicated then it seems, or i like to tell myself that since i spent the last 7 years of my adult life doing it. there’s many factors besides just the gut feeling. over everything I’ve always had a vision for my label being weirder and more offbeat than the wolf + lamb releases so i have a lot more lattitude and i make full use of it.

Are there any plans for another LP yet? 

Oh yes, there is, we’re a good way through it working with everyone we can stuff into a chair and keep there for long enough to make something cool.

You have played @ Mint many times – what makes it such a special brand and club do you think?   

We’d have to say the people, and the slamming sound helps too but there’s plenty of spots with function one. It’s a special crowd they have there, take their dancing and music really seriously and it makes for a pleasure every time we’re lucky enough to get booked there.

What should people expect from you at Mint festival?      

We’re playing with Soul Clap, so things are bound to get off the wall – but that’s how they like it in Leeds, no?

Wolf + Lamb with Soul Clap, you can expect fireworks at the Flux stage on September 29th