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Disorder Meets Waze & Odyssey

Disorder Meets Waze & Odyssey

By: Will Ralston

Serge Santiago and Firas Waez (a.k.a Waze and Odyssey) are hardly new to electronic music. Widely acclaimed from their first track ‘Ah Baby (Here We Go Again)’, the DJ/Producer duo have risen to become a stalwart of the international house music scene, wowing crowds far and wide with their unique and distinctive high-energy sets. The duo have already released a number of EPs through influential labels, including Tsuba and Wolf Music, but their latest project is their most exciting to date. “We are not clawing on to going to Las Vegas or whatever with bottles of expensive Champagne dropped on us or shit like that but we really can’t wait to see what happens,” jokes Serge.

Serge Santiago and Firas Waez (a.k.a Waze and Odyssey) are hardly new to electronic music. Widely acclaimed from their first track ‘Ah Baby (Here We Go Again)’, the DJ/Producer duo have risen to become a stalwart of the international house music scene, wowing crowds far and wide with their unique and distinctive high-energy sets. The duo have already released a number of EPs through influential labels, including Tsuba and Wolf Music, but their latest project is their most exciting to date. “We are not clawing on to going to Las Vegas or whatever with bottles of expensive Champagne dropped on us or shit like that but we really can’t wait to see what happens,” jokes Serge.

Scheduled for release on October 19th via Sony Records, the duo’s remix of R Kelly’s 1993 classic ‘Bump ‘N Grind’ has become something of a dance floor classic since 2012. “It was a bootleg and something that we probably technically shouldn’t have done and we gave it to a couple of DJs. Horsemeat Disco played it at Warehouse Project and it had just built from there,” says Firas. Intelligently crafted and refreshingly original, the release has been backed by the likes of Rudimental, Pete Tong and Annie Mac and is seemingly destined to propel the duo into the spotlight, drawing them out from the underground and into the more mainstream markets.

 

Interestingly, very little is actually known about the pair, primarily down to their desire to be known for their music and not for other reasons. “I think if everyone knows everything about you straight away, they become bored,” says Serge.

The two enthusiastic and fun-loving characters are cited by many outlets today as ‘US Producers,’ a mistake that stems from 2012 in which they claimed to have been adopted by a New York Record Shop owner who taught them anything and everything they needed to know about house and soul music. “It was literally the day that we needed to write a biography and most artists put something incredibly boring and whack, so we just made something up,” says Firas, grinning mischievously, before explaining how two kids approached them in Brighton just recently and ‘fist-pumped us for being orphans!’

Their fabricated back-story could not actually be much further from the truth. Serge, the smaller of the duo, is ‘Super-English,’ he jokes – “I am as English as you get.” – and Firas, aged 31, is Sheffield born-and-bred, with a father of Middle-Eastern descent.

Both had been working on a number of projects independently before Waze and Odyssey was born following a chance meeting at the 2011 Snowbombing festival. There they decided to ‘do something ‘housey’ together.’ “That [their other projects] is just old shit – it never worked. What we do now is so much better,” says Serge, who began writing with a collective called Stompaphunk and almost thought about quitting music when his Serge Santiago Project didn’t go to plan. “I thought I was going to have to go and work in McDonalds or Tesco,” he jokes.

Asked what has been the key to their success, both refer to a love for what they do and desire to continue improving. “It’s always amazing to look back at our records and see the progression – you really can see what we’ve learned through each and every record,’ says Serge, who still to this date does not own his own pair of CDJs. Firas then refers to the fact that they both did stints handing out club flyers across the UK before going on to small DJ residencies in which they ‘absorbed what electronic music is all about.’

Their process of production today remains fairly simple: they have a small studio in Hackney and continue touring looking for inspiration for new records. “We work really well together, we balance each other out,” says Firas, before explaining how life as a DJ can hinder his creativity as an artist. “When you listen to dance music all weekend and you come back, you feel slightly numb because your brain turns off after too much,” he says. “We sometimes have general ideas about how we want to approach something, but there is no set formula.”

Exciting times lay ahead, no doubt. Outside of their work as Waze & Odyssey, the duo set up their label W&O Street Tracks in 2012, another project which is set to grow over the coming months. But that’s not to say that this success is going to change them; it becomes strikingly evident in conversation that the duo are driven by producing music that sounds good rather than any associated fame and fortune. Energetic and inspiring yet charmingly humble, the duo’s zest for life and happy-go-lucky attitude is reflected most vividly through their music, and it is brilliant to see two talented producers gain the attention they deserve and love every step along the way. “We just love being underground and we are just going to continue to write underground music,” says Serge.

A couple of Coronas further down, the conversation becomes more informal and we decide to head across the road where they’re due on stage in just under an hour. The show is small; one of intimacy rather than enormity, a crowd full of electronic-music lovers who share a love for the duo’s work, and the sentiment is reciprocated as the pair mingle with their fans. ‘Bump ‘N Grind’ is dropped towards the end of a beautifully curated set, causing the biggest cheers of the night.

Next stop for the pair: Unknown Festival in Croatia followed by a lengthy tour of America.

How different it’s likely to be by the time they return.

Words: William Ralston
Event Photos: Ben Meadows

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