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The House of Downtown Lowdown

It's been all go all summer long for the House of Downtown. We catch up with Christiaan and Emerson and try and keep up.

14 Aug 2001

Christiaan Ercolano and (right) Emerson Todd met via mutual friend in late 1996, Emerson having moved to Auckland earlier that year from his native Queensland to escape impending messy drug hassles and kickstart his DJ career.

Christiaan, already an NZ music veteran of sorts, had been in Auckland for a year or so living after moving from Wellington where he'd been DJing, writing, producing and making music for himself and others since the late 80s.

The duo hooked up, clicked, bonded and began working together.

Their first track, the now anthemic Whatever Comes appeared on the first LOOP CD in September 1999. It immediately cemented the House of Downtown as fixtures within NZ's fast-growing dance music production "community", as much for the track's infectious disco hooks and Bollywood rip-off video as for their loveable, mad-as-a-hatter personalities and boundless enthusiasm.

Last year, they signed to Universal and got on track to produce a long-player following a whirlwind trip to Paris and London where they met the big playas and secured a London-based manager.

Back in the here and now, the boys have had a crazy 2001 already, but maddest of all, they've received funding to start up their own record label, State House. The upshot of this deal is that Universal have licensed the album Release (on CD format only - House of Downtown own all the vinyl rights world-wide) for distribution in NZ from State House.

The final of the album was completed on another trip to the UK, with mastering by Nilz at The Exchange in London. "He does Basement Jaxx, Daft Punk, you name it."

In fact, if you check the run-out groove on the inside of a large number of 12" singles from the UK, you'll find the name "Nilz" etched into the vinyl. The guy is LEGEND.

Overseas rights for the LP's release will go "to the best offer. Our manager in London should be working on that now."

The boys already have a number of large-name NZ dance producers and artists lined up to sign to their label. "We're still trying to get a few others sorted out as well, but it's hard to get people to think outside of New Zealand and looking at the global picture. It's a great feeling because now we're the lynch-pin of something big."

When I last spoke to the guys, they'd been and done the UK thing and judging by their relaxed manner being back home they're pretty happy to have gotten it over and done with.

"It wasn't exactly glamorous. Twelve hour days without air or sun at The Strongroom, running around the tube meeting distributors, sleep, and then do it all over again the next day.

"It was a pretty awesome couple of weeks though. We mixed half the songs in London with Mike Nielson (ex-member of Lava Lava with Benny Staples, engineer for Jamiroquai, Underworld and Leftfield, among others) at The Strongroom and the rest with Phil de Costa at Power Studios.

"Watching Nilz do the cutting of the LP was great too."

Release is released through Universal.