Aurora Halal and Ital are where two prodigious minds meet. Scene chameleon Daniel Martin-McCormick has jumped genres aplenty, thriving as experimental house producer Ital for 100% Silk, Planet Mu and his own, Lover’s Rock. Collaborator Aurora Halal boasts a similar track record as visual artist, producer and since 2010 host of the forward-thinking Brooklyn dance parties turned label Mutual Dreaming. Joining forces, Ital and Halal recently released their acid-touched spirally sounds on debut EP The Day After. We spoke to the duo about shared consciousness, and the adventures and realities of working together.
Skype Interview by Will Martin. Visuals by Aurora Halal.
‘I always call him the life force, because he has this lightning rod approach, very sensitive and expressive, open and focused.’
Do you think it’s possible for people to occupy the same dream space?
Aurora: I am a very visual person and I’m dreaming all the time, with thoughts and images or lucid dreaming at night. And I do sleep a lot. It’s funny, I recently realised the connection with my name – Aurora is the name of Sleeping Beauty, and it also means dawn, something I see a lot of. Mutual Dreaming, as a name for our party, is a metaphor for great energy in a room – people sharing their subconscious thoughts and desires, and finding them expressed through the music and atmosphere. When art is good it can tap into collective feelings under the surface, and I think that’s a bit like dreaming. There’s a thread connecting it all which is artistic bravery / power in the intention, and always noncommercial.
Are you able to balance the personal and the professional?
Ital: The boundaries in a relationship are always blurred. We share ideas very openly, spend a lot of time analysing music, art and so on. This leads to an intense focus in the collaborative space. It’s not entirely freed from the usual competitiveness of a normal band dynamic, but without that the music would be pretty placid.
Aurora: I hear each of us very strongly in our collaboration. Daniel flows in an impulsive way and I’m more perfectionistic. I always call him the life force, because he has this lightning rod approach, very sensitive and expressive, open and focused. I’m slower paced and adding different elements to it.
What do you see in the power of a sensory overload? Do you see excess as adventurous or unnecessary decadence?
Ital: Sensory overload can be quite a powerful tool in one’s technical arsenal, but when made the main focus of someone’s art it can get old pretty fast. I mean, I’ve ‘gone in’ many, many times… sometimes I’m loving it, sometimes it has ended up messier than I meant, but I’ve always steered clear of the macho quality that turns me off from a lot of big noise displays. The sensory overload for me has always held a promise of ecstatic transcendence, or at least physical splendour. Sometimes it can contain rage as well, which is powerful only when deployed at the critical moment. These days I definitely enjoy walking the tightrope more than I enjoy the full-blast assault. To me, it’s more adventurous to tell a complex, nuanced, tensile story than to simply overload and let your eyes roll back in your head.
Does drug experimentation fall under exploration or self-indulgence?
Aurora: Haha, this is one of the great mysteries of life, isn’t it? I don’t judge anyone, but in my opinion the best use of drugs is purposeful psychedelics, only on special occasions when you are open to changes within yourself. Great music is an amazing part of that experience. I took mushrooms to see DJ Sprinkles and Function last summer, and am still thinking about those ideas a year later. For me really good music is druggy, sensual, mystical, profound. You shouldn’t need drugs to enjoy it. A vacant party lifestyle is the opposite of what I’m interested in.
‘The sensory overload for me has always held a promise of ecstatic transcendence, or at least physical splendour.’
Do you look at your career as an adventure?
Ital: This question reminds me of soft-hued aspirational airport reading. To describe life as an ‘adventure’ is a bit banal. Of course it is, but that sentiment has been trivialised by an escapist narrative iterated and reiterated in an axis of modern cinema, literature and music that celebrates the individual’s capacity for spontaneity and self-actualisation while ignoring the crushing socio-economic realities through which we move as well as the many looming catastrophes mankind has planned for itself. Our work is our life, our life is our work.
Aurora Halal + Ital play Somewhere Else on 18 July at Canvas in Amsterdam. The show is free for Subbacultcha! members before midnight.