Metro Area's Darshan Jesrani Talks Disco, Boogie, and His Startree Label
As half, along with Morgan Geist, of seminal NYC production duo Metro Area, Darshan Jesrani helped spawn some of nu-disco's most timeless groovage. With its sleek, modern interpretation of vintage disco and boogie sounds, the pair's eponymous 2002 debut long-player is widely considered one of the decade's best dance music albums and remains a favorite among heads today.
As a solo artist, Jesrani's sound continues to stand for timeless quality and universal dance-floor appeal -- hear for yourself when he throws down at Do Not Sit on the Furniture. But first, find out what he had to tell Crossfade about his creative process, some exciting new releases on his fledgling Startree label, and why we shouldn't completely discount the possibility of new Metro Area material.
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Crossfade: You're a native New Yorker. Did the NYC dance music scene shape your musical sensibilities growing up?
Darshan Jesrani: As cool as that may have been, I actually missed NYC's clubbing heyday. I started hanging out in the city a bit in the mid '90s, during college, but didn't actually live there until 1997, which was well into Rudy Giuliani's mayoral term. It was the beginning of most of the trends in New York that are still playing out today, like gentrification, expensive real estate, strict cops.
How did you get into making music? When did you first try your hand at production?
I had always been so fascinated by the sound of synthesizers, but didn't get one until I was a junior in high school, after a lot of lobbying of the parents. It was only that one piece of gear, but it was a sampler, and I learned how to split the keyboard into different sections so that I could get a bit more out of it. I sequenced patterns with a superprimitive piece of software and a desktop computer!
How did you first hook up with Morgan Geist? And how did your collaboration as Metro Area come about? What do you think glues the two of you together in terms of chemistry and creative outlook?
We met over these email music discussion groups, which were sort of like early versions of Internet chat boards where people would reply to each other's posts. I guess we just picked up on what the other was saying -- we were both interested in exploring what we had considered "lost" sounds and production techniques from the disco and boogie records we were into at the time.
We noticed that this was something that wasn't being done in productions that were coming out around then -- people were mostly opting to sample whole sections of older songs and just loop them with a kick. It was fresh territory to explore and it let us get inside those older tracks a bit more to see what made them work, and to try to do them in our own, modern way.
So would you say that what Metro Area was doing in the early 2000s was reinventing vintage disco through a modern electronic sound as opposed to producing straight house?
Our references had more to do with late disco and electronic R&B and boogie records, like rollerskate-style stuff, than they did with house. Our whole arrangement and mixing approach, though, was totally shaped by house and techno, so our stuff ended sounding like a mix of those things -- kind of minimal, empty disco tracks.
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