MacAngel – from musical discovery to a Berlin Summer
The story of MacAngel harks back to the experimental days of the late nineties in Cape Town. Electronic dance music had exploded worldwide and South Africans embraced this too.
It was a wild time for the rainbow nation; we had a new government and the old apartheid regime had been replaced with a more representative one. Warehouse raves and all weekend clubbing became the norm and vinyl shops started popping up all over the mother city.
The album is quite a varied selection of electronica. It’s definitely not all synth pop like the single Love is a Hunter.”
But with the proliferation of DJs there were also a small handful of musicians who were looking beyond playing other people’s records; the budding producers – intrigued by the possibilities a modern day desktop computer and basic music making software held.
MacAngel was one such individual.
I started experimenting in the late 90’s. Roach and Fletcher were pivotal in my experimental days when they still had the African Dope Records studio in Roeland Street, Cape Town.”
Roach in fact mastered his first album which would play a role in what would come next…
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Fast forward a couple of years of fine tuning his sound to the early 2000’s, MacAngel submitted what he calls a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ remix for a competition 80’s synth pop band Alphaville were hosting. It was for a forthcoming album release called Forever Pop which ended up featuring remixes from the likes of Paul Van Dyk and De-Phazz among others.
Whilst his remix did not make it on time, a serendipitous friendship was about to form with someone who had a major influence on MacAngel, back then and today still;
Bernhard Lloyd was a founding member of Alphaville and played keyboards from 1982 until 2003. He really enjoyed the remix that MacAngel had done. A friendship started to take shape almost immediately, based on their mutual love for 80’s synth driven music.
“I submitted a tongue-in-cheek remix of an Alphaville track for possible consideration and that was officially the first time I connected with Bernhard Lloyd. He was the guy corresponding to emails and he confirmed receipt of my remix, but he in fact only got it after the deadline.
“But at the same time I’d also included the BETA production I’d produced with Roach and he actually said to me ‘would I mind if he remixed one of the tracks on there.’
“Wouldn’t I mind?” MacAngel repeats aloud laughing at the memory.
Here was a band member of one of the most successful 80’s synth pop bands asking Mac if he would mind if he remixed one of his tracks!
“Of course I said fantastic, go for it. So I sent him the stems and he did his thing. When I heard what he’d done I was taken aback. ‘cos obviously he has this vast knowledge of production from analog to digital and beyond, and decades of experience and it was so nice to hear something that I had started, reinvented and made to sound professional.”
A door slightly ajar…
“So we kept our channels of communication open and purely by chance I got this bee in my bonnet and I told my wife ‘people who have heard this remix love it and he seems to be such an approachable guy and I am working now on new beta product, I’d like to make this more serious and send him the new music.’
“Essentially I was repeating the process.
“When I told Bernhard about my intentions do you know what?
“A door that was slightly ajar suddenly swung wide open and I walked through and embraced the moment!”
Consequently Bernhard offered MacAngel the opportunity to send him his music stems which he said he would then load up in his DAW and then suggested Mac travel over to Berlin and spend a month there collaborating and producing the final product of his music.
Furthermore Lloyd told Mac he was not interested in any writing credit or publishing rights; he was simply enthused by the music and looked forward to turning Mac’s beta versions into fully realised songs.
So off I started to fly around the country visiting mates I’d played music with, sung with, busked with ‘cos I wanted to create some original authentic recordings and vocals with other musicians and I sent this off via the good old postal service [no Dropbox back then] to him.”
A Summer in Berlin
Next stop for Mac was Berlin.
“I then flew to Germany and I think the tone was set the minute I landed.
“I was of course nervous about this guy who had toured the world, had numerous number one hits that I was about to meet but when we met, here was this huge six foot six German gentleman and when I put my hand out to shake his, he grabbed me and gave me a big hug and that was the start of my summer in Berlin.”
Consequently Mac spent an intense month in studio with Bernhard working on all 17 tracks he’d written.
The burning question proposed to MacAngel is ‘did he ever wonder while sitting on that plane on the way to Berlin what it was that was so special about his music that this big time musician and producer was prepared to give up a month of his life to co-produce seventeen tracks?’
“I’m still asking myself that today,” Mac replies pensively. “You know I actually still can’t answer that question.”
Since I was a kid there has always been an element of music that influenced my life. I have always been passionate about music.”
Mac was a choir boy at school and while he has distanced himself from singing Bernhard managed to convince him to sing on the album they were producing together. Amazingly other than the MacAngel project Lloyd has done very little outside of focusing on Alphaville which makes Mac’s story even more incredible.
Here and now
After Mac’s summer in Berlin the MacAngel album received some traction and local radio play but in the end life caught up with him and he did what many musicians/producers unfortunately are faced with doing; paying the bills and getting on with the business of life.
Whilst he has remained involved in the music biz throughout, his musical aspirations were put on the backburner… until recently when he once again got that bee in his bonnet.
Essentially Mac had been sitting on this album of creations since the mid 2000’s.
But we live in a different era of opportunity now when it comes to independent musicians.
The Internet and platforms such as SoundCloud, Mixcloud, YouTube, Bandcamp and many more have democratised music distribution to an extent where independent producers and musicians are able to get their music heard across the globe.
Hence the release of the MacAngel single Love is a Hunter and the impending (re)release of his full length album now dubbed Summer in Berlin – Reloaded.
Mac equates the times spent with Bernhard a bit like calling up someone like Dave Gahan [Depeche Mode] and saying ‘how’s about I pull into your studio and drop some beats?’
The album, he feels, is simply too good to be forgotten and now more than ever the timing feels right to release it and let it be heard.
Bernhard took the better part of a year and a ½ since the decision had been taken to re-master all 17 tracks, adding a little bit of modernisation here and there and changing the tempo of one particular song too.
“The album is quite a varied selection of electronica. It’s definitely not all synth pop like the single Love is a Hunter. We chose that track as the single because it has obvious radio play potential and is the only track that has full vocals.”
MacAngel sings on the track himself, something he says took some courage but was encouraged by Lloyd during their month in the studio in Berlin.
The EP features three versions; the original synth pop version mixed in the early 2000’s, the modernised version Bernhard Lloyd reproduced called the Alpha-Omega Mix and then a more dancefloor oriented version produced by well known South African producer Eric M called the ‘Eric M Beyond Spring Mix’.
Ironically with the immense popularity of indie dance or nu dance today, Love is a Hunter is potentially more ‘in vogue’ now than it possibly would have been in the early 2000’s.
Mac says “I don’t want to be tagged as a synth pop producer.”
MacAngel – Summer in Berlin – Reloaded is an incredibly varied album and he impresses the point that there is something for everybody including breaks, a Drum and Bass remix and numerous styles of electronic music.
It’s an album to immerse oneself in and for him, he says “all I want is for it to be heard and enjoyed by those who like electronic music!”
Listen to the three versions of Love Is A Hunter[youtube_sc url=”kJafn105dIc”] [youtube_sc url=”Q0ODtpqOEA4″] [youtube_sc url=”F2_4IM-mXBo”]
Buy Love is a Hunter here.
Follow news on the release his album using the tag #BerlinAngel
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