French producer Darius and Nigerian-born future soul artist Wayne Snow today followed up their stunning new single, “Equilibrium” with a retro aesthetic video from lauded Parisian director Alice Kong. The powerful visual serves as a message about transcending differences and overcoming cultural barriers through shared experiences. Kong’s saturated pastel coloring brings a nostalgic feel to Darius and Wayne’s slice of cosmic funk and neo-soul.
What was the main inspiration behind “Equilibrium”?
Darius: I had a lot of beats in stock on my computer that were a bit more danceable than my previous productions. One day I bought a small Yamaha analog synth that is a Rhodes keyboard emulation. The sound that comes out of it is really special. “Equilibrium” is one of the first melodies I played with this synth and today I use it almost all the time. I recorded the bass line on the keyboard for 30min trying to find a loop that sounded perfect for me. As the sound evolved, I felt a “retro” colour that I really liked in the sound. I’ve been trying to make music that was catchy but not necessarily connotated “house” for a while now. A few weeks later I played it to Wayne and the feeling passed very quickly. We started to record the vocals and the next day we had almost finished everything and were super happy with the energy that came out of it.
Wayne Snow: Everything started with the idea of assembling the maximum number of elements and then sorting them to give a coherent meaning. As usual we didn’t know where we were going with it at the start. We then added sounds and colours like on an impressionist painting and the emotion that rose from it made everything stand right.
What are some of the ways you have inspired or influenced each other as artists – from the beginning with “Helios” to now with “Equilibrium”?
Darius: We’ve almost always worked separately with our own distinct worlds on our respective projects. Wayne has been coming to the studio for my projects for all these years and has always been able to fit in with what I could offer him. We are always trying to cultivate what is called the creative “accident” in the studio, sometimes there are instinctive things that happen suddenly during jams, vocal recordings, etc. Often these imperfections are very precious, and I try to grasp them musically as much as possible to isolate and deepen them as much as possible.
Wayne Snow: We have always had mutual respect for each other’s work from day one. And we are always listening to each other’s remarks and ideas. One of the things that Darius continues to bring is the constant wonder as the ideas are flowing and the music takes shape as if we are witnessing a sunset.
How does “Equilibrium” relate to and reflect what is happening around the world now?
Darius: I don’t know if it reflects what’s going on in the world right now. On our side we just want to bring good to people with music and a simple message. The name “Equilibrium” is ultimately something that we ourselves try to apply every day when we work together, no matter what our differences are, the most beautiful challenge is to find a balance between us to create something together.
Wayne Snow: We are all looking for a place to catch our breath. Even if at certain times we are faced with impossible choices we must never give up because we are not alone. What is happening now is not unique to our time, it is the consequence of other accumulated actions of the past. We believe that the best way to tackle this set of problems is first of all to find ourselves in front of what unites us unconditionally, the music.
How would you describe the sound of “Equilibrium” and what’s the best setting to listen to it?
Darius: In general, I hate the idea of giving a specific musical genre to my creations, I prefer to be interested in what a song can give to people, and the term “solar” appeals to me a lot at the moment.
Wayne Snow: I can’t wait for clubs and festivals to reopen. I think it must be good to listen to “Equilibrium” in an open-air place by the sea or somewhere in the mountains at sunrise or sunset.
When you’re looking for new sounds, where do you pull from?
Wayne Snow: I don’t have a specific place to get new sounds. I try to be as versatile as possible because often the best sound comes from the past.
Collaborating can be difficult especially when working in production; what’s your secret to great teamwork and collaborations between the two of you?
Darius: You have to completely lose your ego. Communication is super important. Listen to each other, be patient and meticulous. Everyone has their own sensitivity and science to contribute, so you must also give the other person the space and time to express themselves, listen to them and accompany them if necessary. And above all, it is very important to just enjoy yourself!
Can you tell us about the music video directed by Alice Kong?
Darius: We met in 2017, I’ve been a fan of her work since the beginning and the common desire to collaborate together came rather quickly. It’s been a while since I was waiting for the good time to present her with a project that would potentially fit in with her world. In the end she loved the title and a few days later we had a long discussion about it to find the most beautiful way to put the song in pictures. At the beginning she asked me for keywords, what the track evoked and the messages we wanted to convey with references to images and videos to set the mood. A few days later, she introduced me to the concept of people who all oppose each other and get stuck together in a human ball… I thought it was crazy!
Wayne Snow: I didn’t know Alice Kong before. When Darius introduced her to me, I was more than curious to see what she was going to present to us. I have to tell you that I was completely amazed by this clip during filming and viewing. Whether in terms of the colors or the characters, it is an unexpected journey between dream and reality à la Michel Gondry. She allowed our music to enter another dimension.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you can share with us? Together or individually?
Darius: We have a second piece that we really care about and that we will release in the fall. It’s an integral part of the Equilibrium EP. It’s a bit like Yin and Yang between the two tracks. I’m also working very hard on a second long-format, with a “solar” theme.
Wayne Snow: “Equilibrium” contains another song that we are going to put in a motion picture. It will be the other side of “Equilibrium,” namely much more direct and a little less reverie. I am also in the process of finishing my new album and I can’t wait to present it to you live with my whole new live band setup.
What advice would you give to anyone who may by experiencing creative block in quarantine?
Darius: The most important thing is not to force things. On the contrary, I think it’s good to allow yourself some time. When I don’t find inspiration but I still want to work on music, I continue to learn to push my limits, constantly evolve my way of playing the piano by taking lessons, watching documentaries on artists I admire, you can learn a lot about yourself by understanding the lives of other artists. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to express yourself in different ways. For my part, I have enjoyed drawing and painting again. I managed to find a “trance” almost similar to the one I can have when I compose.
Wayne Snow: I believe that nothing should be forced. We must accept this blockage and try to do something else. The first few weeks were quite weird for me when I was confined to the south of France but I was lucky to be in a small village in the mountains where I was able to do some gardening and record all kinds of nature sounds.
The creation and result of both of your music (together and individually) is known to be a very warm, trippy, open, hedonistic, loving, spiritual journey. Can you tell us what led you to those vibes and if your future music will continue to follow that sound?
Darius: My mother passed on this sensitivity to me since I was very young. I rocked in the music she used to make me listen to and there was a lot of very atmospheric stuff, synths hovering and tripping but still hyper-dancing. And she’s a person who’s very open to the spiritual, gifted with a great sensibility, which she eventually transmitted to me. At one time in my life I used music a lot as an escape, an introspection, a tool that allowed me to shed light on my questions about life, our existence, the connection of energies between two individuals, about time, the universe, etc. This is something I share a lot with Wayne. I think there will always be this kind of musical framework in my future creations, it’s like the personality of someone. But I need to keep evolving and exploring new things.
Wayne Snow: Back home in Nigeria I grew up in a world where magic was one of the elements that shaped everyday life. The sky was torn by the sound of percussion and the voices echoed like thousands of suns around people in a trance. My grandmother when I was a child took me to traditional religious ceremonies. The atmosphere was supernatural and magical. I still see myself looking at all this with fascination. I think I’m just re-creating all this stored magic.
Do you feel there’s a difference between the music you’re making and current westernized music? What about “Equilibrium” will best resonate with people around the world?
Darius: Today’s music has never been so hybrid, full of references, mixes of all kinds. We’re all so over-connected that I don’t know if there really is any current music, it’s all going super-fast and the trends too. Once again, I wouldn’t dare to situate myself in a genre whether it’s close or far. Personally, I already try to be in-tune with myself, the most connected with myself and to trust myself in what I do and especially to enjoy myself.
Watch the Official Video for “Equilibrium” here.
Director Alice Kong on the video: “For the video, I wanted to illustrate with absurdity and extravagance the definition of equilibrium, a state in which opposing forces are perfectly balanced. This concept inspired me to write the surrealist story of characters, who are opposed to each other, who suddenly, at the very moment when a fight breaks out between them, find themselves instantly stuck together. They will then meet other characters with whom they will argue again and reproduce the same absurd phenomenon: they all stick together little by little, until they form a group of 8 people in total imbalance. As their frenzy grows, the group sticks together more and more until they melt into each other and form an impressive organic coloured ball. Rejected by the city, the ball then goes into exile, in search of a new balance.
I chose to give each character a distinct personality, like little figurines from a fairy tale collection: a fallen bride, a busy businessman, a clumsy tourist, etc. I also had fun using the codes of cartoons: the shots bend, form loops, the points of view are surprising, and the compositions are playful. The choreography, by Lola Rudrauf, sums up the essence of the video with gestures and expressions.”
“Equilibrium” instantly takes on a warm and arresting atmospheric tone, with Snow’s emotive lyricism infusing a carefree candor of love and euphoria. Darius complements Wayne’s powerful vocals, which travel through the composition like gospel pipe dreams. The duo first joined forces in 2015 on their minimal slice of R&B, “Helios,” followed by the mesmerizing nostalgic cut, “Lost in the Moment.” In 2017 born out of an all-night jam session, they teamed up with multi-instrumentalist FKJ and producer Crayon to form their improv project, The Nightbirds.
Since the release of Darius’ acclaimed debut album Utopia, the coveted artist has remixed for the likes of Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware and Lianne La Havas, sound tracked fashion campaigns for brands like Armani, and collected over 200 million streams of his imaginative originals. Snow, a recent Berlin transplant, worked with the praised producer Max Graef on his debut LP, Freedom TV, and has since provided vocals for a range of creatives including Folamour, Neue Graffik, Noah Slee and more.
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