Dream_E – the alias of Zander Hay – steps up to the IA MIX Series with a live and direct session, captured straight from a woodland rave.
If you were to pluck a single word to describe an individual, ‘energy‘ would be the first that comes to mind. From his enthusiasm in conversation, the effervescent nature of his label launching ‘Crushed‘ EP, or the sprightly nature of the live session itself – that can move from bastions of deep with 20:20 Vision’s classic Wulf’N’Flow project and DJ Sprinkles, right through to formative dub techno act Basic Channel and “Baron Of Techno” Dave Clarke.
However, it hasn’t all been lightness and fun for Hay recently. While we have been dealing with the global pandemic, never seemingly a few degrees of separation from someone who has been affected by it, Zander has been fighting his own battle in addition to this. Last year he was struck down with a rare disease, Encephalitis. While the odds of surviving Encephalitis are not high, he emerged not unscathed, but undeterred in his desire to create and experience music. Scroll on down to read our chat about the launch of his new label and one of his first live appearances back since recovery.
Interview by Simon Whight
"I’ve been writing tunes for about 5 years now. Only ever released music with friends, now following my illness, Encephalitis, I wanted to kick off a self-released series with proceeds of every copy going to charity. The Encephalitis Society."
Hi Zander, first up congratulations on the release of Crushed EP – it’s an absolute diamond of a record that is surefire to whip up a frenzy on the dance floor. How does it feel to unleash this nugget into the world?
Hey, appreciate your kind words a lot. It certainly feels good to get this out there. I’ve been writing tunes for about 5 years now. Only ever released music with friends, now following my illness, Encephalitis, I wanted to kick off a self-released series with proceeds of every copy going to charity. The Encephalitis Society.
‘Love Mixxed’ starts off with someone saying “I know what I want, a Funktion-One and enough booze for everyone” – who’s the person behind this quote?
Ahhh as some may say, the sampler becomes the samplé.
’Radiant’ is an absolute belter, harking back to the sound of early Maurizio, tell us more about your process producing this track.
An absolute belter like Maurizio?!! I’ll say cheers to that! Making me miss Scotland hearing ‘Belter’ does. Getting linked with Basic Channels Maurizio’s heavy no bad either. I wish I could tell you more but I wrote this tune around a year ago in the east end Berlin studio, a fair bit has gone down since then. To say the least.
Tell us about your studio setup and what equipment you used to make Crushed EP?
I’ve been downsizing my studio since moving to Berlin. Back in Scotland, every September we’d get a double student loan payment. As I stayed in the same gaff for 6 years, after putting the deposit down the first year, every year following I naturally bought a synth. This kicked off with a Juno 6, later the JD-800, Poly800, Analog Rytm. So most of the time I never used a studio, just rolled out of bed and flicked some switches.
The landlord we rented from I later found out was a proper cunt, literally found this out by googling him and the journo he writes for. So naturally made things difficult for him before we left (he tried taking me to court for the extra £60 on top the deposit). I told that wee dafty he’d needy sort my flight if he wanted that 60 quid. A month or so later my mate called him from up top of one of the Griessmühle grain mills. Honestly had him on the bam up for about 15 minutes. Should’ve sampled it.
As I’ve had to downsize a fair bit since moving to Berlin, ‘Crushed‘ EP was mostly just the Analog Rytm, Alesis Quadraverb and a Yamaha TX81z.
We absolutely adore the artwork, who is the illustrator behind the mouse and iconic Mitsubishi pill?
One of my closest and best friends. dance____98. Check her out. She’s a life saver. In more ways than one. I came up with the idea for the logo one weekend, essentially I’d been up a bit. You can of course perceive the message sent by the persona how you wish, but at the end of the day it’s a rat not a mouse.
Let’s first talk about your label The Burrell Connection – of which you are directing the proceeds to the Encephalitis Society Charity, a brain infection that you found yourself suffering from in 2020, which obviously we are glad to hear you are on a road to recovery from. How has the charity reacted to this kind gesture?
I didn’t see the point in hitting up the charity until I’ve a fat enough wad of cash. I guess it will be a nice surprise, I hope! If it wasn’t gonna fuck the planet up with the amount of paper that requires printing I’d see about getting a pic with one of those 6 foot cheques with my head poking off the top of it. Hats off to the Peoples Postcode Lottery still going for it.
In terms of your own experience of being in hospital in Neukölln, it must have been an immensely challenging and upsetting ordeal, especially with COVID-19 raging. Looking back at that time, what positive things do you remember happening on the ward and pepping you up?
Yeah COVID-19 certainly didn’t help. Luckily they flung a fuck load of medicine on me, especially the second time around, so it wasn’t all that unsettling. It was actually kinda chill. I even forgot I smoked, fuck sake, shouldn’t have picked up again. In all honesty it’s only been in the last few months it’s hit me pretty hard. For now I just really want to give something back, write and play some music out again.
When we last spoke, you said that you have sporadically struggled to remember things, such as names of fruits, vegetables, animals… has this also effected your DJing and musical memory? (In terms of remembering tracks and planning out how you are going to sequence tracks together?)
Luckily things are getting better as time goes on. I can remember a banana these days, but a lot still missing. Regarding the mix, I don’t plan ahead. Maybe have one or two in mind to kick things off and close up shop but that’s typically it. Have a swatch of the recording from the rave. I kept a mix of mates and Xone in there as I’ve been missing patter and friendly voices like fuck the past wee while but if you’d rather just hear the direct recording itself you can find it on my Soundcloud.
Coming back to what you said, in terms of being ‘effected’ by my illness, it’s hard to say without chatting on for ages and going into great detail – everyone got better things to do than that! I typically always value the opinion of others a lot more in these scenarios. So you be the judge!
Please tell us about the mix you have delivered to the IA MIX Series, and how you ended up piecing it together?
Yeah so the mighty Big Leg et al threw the rave pretty last minute a few weeks back and asked me to join. I was so cheezin. I just picked up my USB’s, as most vinyl still sadly in Scotland just now. I jumped on around 7pm for a couple hours as the sun was beginning to set. Lovely crew that made it happen, even lovelier crowd that filled the joy! Big ups!!
The rave that it was recorded at, how did you feel playing at it – not only on the path to recovery, but also after a year of the industry being on hold?
In order to get the location for the rave you had to send proof of clear COVID-19 test. Those who attended were friends or friends of friends. Of course some people had to turn it down, but honesty is key – there will always be another one and this should definitely be applied globally moving forward.
I guess regarding the set itself since I hadn’t played out due to COVID-19 and Encephalitis taking place, I just dug through my USB’s then n there but naturally was sure to rinse a few classics, some old finds, some newer finds – but everyone on their own unique journey of course, what’s new to me may be ancient to you and vice versa.
Naturally I was bricking it a bit, everything else aside it had certainly been a while – but having such a lovely crew there definitely set the tone for kicking things off again. Feeling very lucky just saying that there. Shout out!
"The mighty Big Leg threw the rave pretty last minute a few weeks back and asked me to join. I was so cheezin. I jumped on around 7pm for a couple hours as the sun was beginning to set. Lovely crew that made it happen, even lovelier crowd that filled the joy! Big ups!!"
You’re based in Germany, but are originally from Glasgow. You used to help run La Cheetah Club back then, can you tell us of some fond memories from that time?
Haha this is bringing back some memories. Big shout out to the La Cheetah Club family! Hmmm let me think… actually, a few weeks into working at the club Underground Resistance played live, that was sick. But as we set up the club the synth case shipped over from Detroit is opened up, becomes clear the journey led to a lot of broken keys and now written off synth for the live show in a couple hours. Mike Banks turns and shakes his head so calmly and softly patters, ‘Damn…’
One new year’s eve I went down to the hotel to meet the artists whilst residents Wardy and Dom D’Sylva brought the bells in. I spent the 12 o’clock bells outside a hotel with Courtesy waiting on Marcellus Pittman taking forever in the shower. My missus at the time was fuming at me missing the bells go off at 12.
Thankfully Call Super mixed Jeff Mills ‘The Bells‘ into Jeff Mills ‘The Bells‘ on the offbeat not long afterwards. As he did so, someone ripped part of the ceiling off. Not that I am at all agree with the final part, but on exceptionally rare occasions there may be a time and a place. Dario was fuming. Until he found out it was because they’d dropped The Bells. Twice. Simultaneously.
Towards the end of my time there before moving to Berlin I helped create and named Room 2, Room 2. It’s a play on words. Room 1 is actually the green room in La Cheetah Club. Therefore both La Cheetah Club and Room 2 are Room 2. Room 2’s Room 2 just got more space eh. Aside from an otherworldly sound system also.
How long do you see yourself staying in Germany and why?
Aw mate, I don’t even know what I’m gonna have for din dins later let alone the foreseeable. Scotland is home though and I promised my folks I’d be back one day. My old man’s getting on a bit and I promised I’d be back when he needs me, so I’ll of course be there. We’ll see how things go, for now the time is to write music and dae the decks in and around here or when I’m back seeing friends and family.
What was the motivation behind retiring your old collection of aliases in favour of becoming Dream_E.
The Burrell Connection was I guess a somewhat patter platter referral to the Glasgow Southside spot, The Burrell Collection, an art space that the government tried to shut in 1995, the year I was born. However, protestors came from across the UK and beyond to camp out there and protect it. Cherishing the craft with respect to the promised land was what I was going for, but soon as I moved to Berlin I had to explain that a few times too many.
At a point, Alfie, DJ59 and Dream_E took on a plethora of sub-genres but now it’s all under one roof (raving); Dream_E the solo alias with the now self-titled imprint The Burrell Connection, connecting all 3.
If you’d like to give a shout out to any friends, labels or artists – this is your chance.
Eyyyy here we go – been patiently waiting for this bit! Shout out to any of you that’s made it this far. Shout out of course to my better half Jessy. To all the fellow seals out there. The mighty Mmmm crew and beyond over here in Berlin. Ma maw, paw, brers, the ole gran, cousins, especially sonic siblings Milo, Becca and Naomi. Basically anyone fae Scotland, but especially my Perth and Glasgow troops – life saving legends. I love yous all. A big shout out of course also to the La Cheetah Club, Craigie Knowes, Optimo families and legends such as yourself taking the time to listen to me natter on and on about my journey, Thank YOU!
What’s next for Dream_E and The Burrell Connection label?
Taking the rains for the first 3 records. They’ll be titled Crushed, Processed, Revived. Hopefully In-Sync with my brain, I guess. Proceeds to charity following each. I’m polishing off the second self-released number for pressing as we speak, the third I plan to bang out soon as I touch down in Scotland. Only been a few years since I’ve touched down, so will be interesting to see what comes.
1. Glocken – Shoken (Infamix)
2. Wulf-n-Bear – Untiled (20:20 Vision)
3. Solenoids Of Insomnia – Versalife
4. Mike Huckaby – Baseline 87
5. Language – Renegade (The Energy Mix)
6. 2AM/FM – Poison Dart
7. Rhythm Workshop – Take Action
8. Sprinkles – Grand Central (Part I)
9. Walt J – Reborn 1 (DJ Qu’s Journey Towards Birth Remix)
10. Octave One – Fifteenthirteen
11. Glacial23 – Warning Star
12. Acid Rain – WHITELOOPS6
13. Teste – The Wipe (5 Am Synaptic)
14. Morgan – Flowechild
15. Mark Ambrose – Warehouse Blues
16. Basic Bastard – Signals
17. Call – Lynx
18. The Source Experience – Voices Of The Spirit
19. Man With No Name – Lunar Cycle
20. Emperor Sly – Syncro (Moonrock Mix)
21. Alien FM – Large Mechanics
22. Dave Clarke – Wisdom To The Wise
23. James Ruskin – Time And Place
24. Dean & Deluca – Chapter 1
25. Basic Channel – Phylyps Trak II/II
26. N/A featuring Rosina – Fables And Fairytales (Deniz Kurtel Remix)
27. Anthony Rother – Destroy Him My Robots
28. Liquid Child – Diving Faces (Underwater Mix)
29. Anthony Rother – Destroy Him My Robots
30. Dream_E – Unreleased
31. DJ Deep – Hydraulic Jack
32. Digital Justice – It’s All Gone Pear Shaped
33. E-Dancer – World of Deep
34 Outlander – Vamp (Kevin Saunderson Remix)
35. Trickster – Move On Up (Lisa Marie Experience Club Mix)
36. A1 – First Bass
37. June – Direct Contact
38. Onyx – Robot World
39. Ricardo Villalobos – Que Bel Epoque
40. Dream_E – Love Mixxed (TBA)
41. Brian Harden – Animal Instincts
42. Stacey Pullen – Meditive Fusion
43. AS1 – In The End