Podcast 519: Setaoc Mass

60-minutes of heavy rolling grooves from techno's new guard.
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This week's XLR8R podcast comes from one of techno's rising young talents.

Setaoc Mass is the alias of Sam Coates, a Manchester-born Berlin-based DJ-producer. The 27-year-old began DJing aged 16 before experimenting with production two years later. Following two digital releases in 2011 and 2012, his first vinyl release landed on Animal Farm Records in 2013 in the shape of a three-track EP (featuring a Jonas Kopp remix). It was the first taste of his deep, dark, and percussive techno sound.

But this was only the start. A 2015 four-tracker on Work Them Records—the opener of which saw big support from Jeff Mills—saw Coates' profile grow, leading to a hike in booking requests. Then, in February 2016, having relocated to Berlin, Coates' Berghain debut arrived, this time playing alongside the likes of Boris and DJ Hyperactive—and it didn't take long for him to be invited back: he returned in July of the same year, and then once again for a closing six-hour session in October. Setaoc Mass was quickly becoming a well-known name in the German capital's techno community.

Instrumental in this was Len Faki. The Figure label head had supported Coates' own SK_eleven imprint and invited Coates to release on Figure having been introduced via a mutual friend. Coates' Figure debut landed in May 2016, further drawing attention to his work. He returned to the label earlier this year with a four-track collaboration with Matrixxman, and next year he'll release another collaboration with Cleric.

As a selector, the Mancunian’s sets draw from an expansive spectrum of material. He takes his inspiration from what he terms "light and dark": while he includes lots of melodies, he also loves the rough low end around which techno is based. The use of three decks, two for playing drum loops, allows him to "sonically push the mood in different directions."

His XLR8R podcast is a more direct example of his work. Featuring a wealth of unreleased material, from Coates and his friends, it's a one-hour snapshot of one of techno's most exciting names: brutal yet melodic techno, all weaved together with a rolling groove.

What have you been up to lately?

I guess the main event lately was spending a nice long week in the US playing shows in LA and in New York; it was a real pleasure to see the vibe there.

How has 2017 been for you? What have your highlights been?

So many highlights really, this was my most intense touring year so far, and can't wait to push forward into 2018 already.

When and where was the mix recorded?

Recorded in my studio using a set up inside Ableton, MIDI controller, FX, and drum loops.

Could you tell us about the idea behind it?

I feel some of my previous podcasts were very club focused, this one is also, but I kind of wanted to show a more melodic rolling easy listening vibe, a sound which I've really been enjoying lately.

Where do you think the mix is best listened to?

Anywhere and everywhere! ;)

How did you choose the tracks that you included?

A lot of my own releases and unreleased material, I also hit up a few growing artists for unreleased tracks and then some more which I sourced out or have been playing recently at gigs. There were a few practice runs and then I came out with the final mix.

How does the mix compare to your club mixes?

This is just a two-deck mix inside Ableton, my usual set up when in clubs is three decks, and I always try to use them to the fullest, so I guess it's a little cleaner and more structured than I'd play in clubs.