We’re kicking off this new year with a little something you might have missed from the end of the last. Over the last 6 years, the dance music industry has seen Alex Powell and Oliver Portamento become one of the more exciting talents the underground scene has to offer; known as The Squatters, these two are instantly recognizable for their main room electro house and jump up party sounds, not only gaining support from some of the industry’s best DJs including Fatboy Slim, Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, Kissy Sell Out, Judge Jules and Doorly, they have received continued radio play from the country’s biggest commercial stations.
As DJs, they have travelled the world tearing up dance floors & festivals with their crazed antics and unusual DJ sets, from the UK’s fun loving Beatherder Festival to Judgement Sundays in Ibiza, Avalon Hollywood in the US and finally South Korea’s World DJ Festival – which was also a chance for the Alex and Oliver to perform in the country that propelled their debut album The Squatters Asia Edition to chart topping success. Alongside all of the record releases, The Squatters have also shared production tips and tricks with Sonic Academy and have released a sample pack with production heroes Loopmasters allowing new producers to get their hands on that signature Squatters sound.
Their latest sound is a low down bootleg of Route 94’s “Forget The Girl” which has seen plenty of support from the likes of Danny Howard on his BBC Radio 1 show, heavy on the bass as we’ve come to expect from the duo, this track is an effortless combination of main room house vibes and upbeat vocal samples – the kind of melodic manipulation that has come to define their sound as two steppers the world over scramble for their tracks.
When it comes to crafting the basslines that make them the one of the most recognizable working musicians in today’s soundscape, Alex gets straight to the point: “Basslines are no massive mould breaker but more the fact we use old and new techniques, using sampling, simple sine sounds and current mid range layers. Ever since we started The Squatters, our music has been around the baselines using sub frequencies and mid range beef that punches like John Prescott in the clubs”. These are ones and twos definitely known for their punch but where does that come from? Logic? Hasn’t that become a hideous cliche? “Our main tool for production is Logic using various soft synths and samplers, native instruments complete and maschine to be creative when we feel the vibe, we both have strengths and try to utilise them when producing by bouncing off each other and avoid that production wall we used to hit”, Alex confirms.
These two are no strangers to comic relief and fans have fallen in love with their off-beat personas, with Alex and Oliver often revelling in the kind of counter culture rarely found among artists in this modern age of DJ idolatry, The Squatters are not far from removed from their audience; instead Alex and Oliver choose to engage as often as possible on as many platforms as possible – nothing is off limits – whether its thanking their fans from the top of the mountain or food related challenges like the ‘100 Poppadom Challenge’.
These are two producers who are refreshingly comfortable with sending themselves up; so is that a conscious decision? “We have always tried to keep our personalities in our social media some may call it unprofessional, however we are just happy being us and the daft social image with a serious musical side is who we are about and laughing burns calories and releases endorphins!”. So Alex and Oliver are simply a pair of music loving Northmen? “We will always be grounded as we are northern lads born and bread, the music is just in us and northerners just get dirtier quicker (obviously due to coal mines) And even sometimes take our sarcasm on road trips down south and try to rub it off on celebrities”.