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Blaze Orange and Kwal, driven by a string of label releases, club gigs, and late-night afterparties, are seizing every opportunity to ride the wave of momentum cultivated in 2023. Hailing from the vibrant Chicago-Milwaukee corridor, an area rich in artistic opportunities and home to a diverse array of talent and venues showcasing electronic music, the duo is thriving. With their trajectory on the upswing across various fronts, they’ve dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to their latest project.

Their latest release, “Shake,” delivers a club-friendly, classic house vibe punctuated by well-placed vocal samples. The track effortlessly infuses a hypnotic groove, driven by a pulsating bassline, raw synths, and high energy arrangement. Signed to the rapidly expanding label Pharaoh Phonix, “Shake” proves to be another heater ready for dance floors around the world.

We had the opportunity to speak with them about the single and their work together. Check out the interview below!

For both artists: How has the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor influenced Blaze Orange and Kwal’s music and career trajectory?

K: The two cities are so close in proximity that it’s almost impossible for spillover to not occur. Chicago has strong roots as the birthplace of house music.. Milwaukee shares that same passion for house music so finding artists with similar tastes is not a complicated task. There is so much talent between these two cities.

B:  Milwaukee has always seemed to look up to Chicago for being both the home of House Music and quality of events and artists.  I have a great respect and admiration for those early artists that carved the way of House Music.  I think you will hear that more and more out of my recent work some of the Chicago flavor I put into my songs.

For both artists: Can you describe the process behind creating “Shake” and how you achieved its distinct sound without resorting to overcomplicated sound design?

K: Blaze Orange had a fantastic groove laid down when he reached out about collaborating. Once I heard his original idea, I knew I would be able to add my own flavor to it without needing to recreate the wheel. It was one of the less stressful collaborations I’ve done in recent memory and I think that’s what made it so special.

B:  Late one night, I had an idea laid out, the SHAKE vocal response was something I tried in a previous song that didn’t get far.  This time the track was done within a day and I was really digging it.  After I sent it to Kwal for his thoughts, he opted to jump on and it was very easy for the collaboration.  We both were able to add complimenting drums and synths to the sound to keep the energy and make it memorable. 

Blaze Orange, what inspired the transition to your current persona in late 2021, and how has it impacted your musical direction?  

B: I spent 15 years as a mostly open format DJ that quite frankly achieved most anything I ever wanted.  I had the pleasure of playing shows with the likes of Green Velvet, Ardalan, Disco Fries, LA Riots, and many others. However I never took production seriously until then.  Working hard through the summer, I was close to having tracks that could get signed.  I opted to rebrand, stop all open format shows, and go all in on the new persona of Blaze Orange.  Only wanting to do shows where I can play some of my own tracks and other house music tastes that I enjoy.  It’s been fantastic so far.  Lots of hard work in the studio, sending out demos, promoting the tracks and shows.  I’ve accomplished a lot lately but always striving for those next goals and to improve my sound and brand.

Kwal, working in artist relations at Spybar, how has interacting with renowned tech house artists influenced your music production and DJing style?

K: Contrary to popular belief my biggest takeaway from working in AR is not what everyone thinks it is.. 99% of these artists are incredibly nice people and are humble. It keeps me in check and reminds me to just be myself. Hearing headliners play so often also reminds me that we producers tend to really over complicate our song creation process. Create a strong groove and keep it simple.

For both artists: How do you balance the demands of label releases, club performances, and afterparties while maintaining your creative output?

K: As I grow as an artist it is slowly becoming a bit hectic to stay on top of everything “required” to be a music producer in 2024. One thing that keeps me grounded is having a schedule. Set aside time to complete tasks and do your best not to get distracted. Lastly, don’t forget to take time to be with your family, significant other, pets, etc.

B:  I’ll come straight forward and say, it’s my experience and the fact that I am 8 years sober.  I have put great value on weekend studio sessions in the morning being the most productive and creative.  I do not drink at all,  I go home and to bed after most every show so I can get back in my studio the next day.  Striving to get music work done during the work week also can be challenging; however, discipline is everything.  I do turn down some shows or just a fun night out so I can get some music work done.  

Blaze Orange, how has your musicians’ collective contributed to the growth of the community and supported emerging artists?

B:  I have worked with a number of groups over many years.  There are always waves of both music sounds, genres and talent.  Finding the middle ground to respect those that came before you and also help along the younger new talents.  I have taken part in some sober events, fundraising and benefit shows to raise awareness for various causes.  Also on the production side, I have started to tutor and help aspiring producers to learn there way around music production and the industry. 

Kwal, since starting your journey in the music industry in 2013, what significant changes have you observed in the electronic music scene, particularly in Chicago?

K: Chicago is an extremely busy city when it comes to house music culture. One thing I can say for certain is that being able to make good music has never been enough to get you on stage. This city and its promoters/talent buyers really want your support which makes total sense. I neglected this for such a long time and it impacted my career early on. Get involved and shed love as much as you can. With that said, I’d say the biggest change has been in the amount of promoters in the city.

For both artists: How do you approach the creative process when collaborating on tracks, and what roles do each of you play?

K: For me I tend to only take on collabs from others if I truly feel I can add value to the song. My strong suits are writing basslines and drums. I also tend to find myself being picky and not wanting to rush to finish.

B:  For me, working in a compatible DAW like Ableton goes a LONG way.  I can be picky about sounds being genuine to what I like.  This one with Kwal came very easy and organically that fit both of our styles.     I should also mention we met on a Discord server for the producer CASHEW and found out Kwal was pretty local to me.  That was pretty cool, so thanks to CASHEW!

For both artists:  With a clear vision for the year ahead, what are some specific goals or projects you’re aiming to accomplish?
K: My biggest goals for 2024 are to sign a contract with one of my top 5 labels and to commit to playing a local festival like Arc(even if it’s for 2025).

B: Growing my fanbase, socials, music reach. Main targets for this year are signing a track to a much bigger label than previously.  As well as a music festival for this year or next.  Continuing to craft my sound, brand and workflow should help those things fall into place.

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