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May 06, 2022

1001Tracklists Spotlight: Achilles & Lister

Today we’re joined by two of the top talents in Australia! After drawing heavy inspiration from the future rave sound, Achilles and Lister have been making waves with their own productions earning support from the likes of David Guetta, MORTEN, Tiësto, and Timmy Trumpet. With each making their imprint musically on a global scale, it was only a matter of time before the pair came together for their first collaboration. Read on to get an inside look at “As The Rush Comes,” their brand new rework of the dance classic, their budding friendship, the influence of Hardwell, and their exciting plans ahead, while you dance away to their ID loaded Spotlight Mix!
Achilles, Lister, thanks so much for joining us to celebrate your new single “As The Rush Comes”! Let’s dive right in! When did you get the idea to rework the dance classic?
Achilles: Gabriel & Dresden have always garnered massive respect from me. Particularly Dave Dresden’s passion for the art of DJing and dance music. I was highly active on Twitch during the pandemic, as were many other DJs, but we all really owe a lot to G&D’s "Club Quarantine" which brought thousands of dance music fans to the platform. So that probably had a bit to do with my inspiration to begin re-working one of their classic records.
Lister: I have always been a big fan of the original record, and when Achilles sent me the idea for the collaboration I knew that it was going to be special. 
What elements of the original did you want to preserve and how do you feel that you’ve made the track your own? 
Achilles: I think a lot of artists run into this dilemma when reworking iconic records like this. My philosophy when covering or re-interpreting any existing material has always been: if we’re going to change a part of it, that part has at least got to be better than the original or add something that the original didn’t necessarily have. So it was important to me that we kept some of the original chords and melodies in the breakdown, because they’re just so compelling, and left ourselves room to move and add our own flavor to the drops.
When putting out a new version of an iconic dance record did you feel extra pressure around the release? 
Achilles: Absolutely, but I think the overwhelming positive reception from the dance music community to my re-work of "Touch Me" (originally by Rui Da Silva & Cassandra Fox) gave me the confidence to have a crack at this one as well, and I’m pleased to say the feedback is shaping up to be equally as positive.
Lister: Definitely, but we’re both very happy with the end result so thankfully that pressure has been alleviated! 
You’re both based out of Melbourne, Australia. How is the scene over here?
Achilles: I describe the Melbourne scene as unique because it’s one of the few cities on earth where the underground is actually the mainstream, and often the mainstream doesn’t get as much support here as you would expect in a major city. Obscure, underground festivals are the norm, while mainstage EDM isn’t very common. Obviously we are known for the Melbourne bounce sound of the early 2010s, but that sound has really changed a lot and evolved into a hard-hitting mainroom techno now proliferated by the likes of Will Sparks. With the way the European scene is heading we are once again starting to hear Melbourne artists influencing some of the biggest mainstages around the world. 
Lister: It has always been predominantly underground here in Melbourne, even throughout the boom of Melbourne bounce and big room when festivals became a huge part of our scene. However, after Covid and everything that we had to deal with, our underground scene has certainly become the mainstream without much room for EDM I feel. Everywhere I look I’m seeing techno events, with lots of big headline acts putting on shows. I feel as though this has played quite a large role in my love for the sound which has resulted in my music becoming more techno influenced.
Tell us about your origins. How long have you been producing for? And how were your beginnings starting out? 
Achilles: I started playing piano around age twelve and although I never went the full classical route it gave me a really solid foundation to start writing music on my own before there were any YouTube tutorials or online production schools like there are today. Back in the days when samples came on disks instead of Splice and DJs would carry around their libraries in large CD booklets instead of USBs. So I started as a beatmaker in the hip hop world in my early high school years and went on to develop a love for electronic dance music as I got older. I studied music technology part-time and went on to have some success in the songwriting world. Achilles is just my actual surname so I was going under that pseudonym since 2013, but it wasn’t until 2020 that I decided to rebrand everything and start fresh with a solo artist project.
Lister: I was around 13 years old when I first got my hands on FL Studio. I hardly had any musical background at the time, apart from just being obsessed with it from a very young age. The first electronic inspiration for me was Skrillex, and I was lucky enough to meet him backstage at one of his shows – it was an amazing moment for me and is definitely what made me strive to be like that one day. My music at the start was really bad, but I worked for hours on end sampling different sounds, experimenting with genres, etc. and I loved every moment of it. 
Achilles, you recently released a track together with MaRLo. Take us back a bit, when did you first hear MaRLo’s music and/or meet him? What was your impression?
Achilles: Marlo is one of the realest dudes in the industry, hands down. Most guys at his level don’t have anywhere near the amount of openness to new talent so for that I’m very grateful and I’ve learnt a lot from him. I was simply sending him demos over a period of time and it took a long while before he heard one that he wanted to sign. My first signing to his label Reaching Altitude ended up being a collab with him which, in my opinion, speaks volumes about his desire to support young talent. Getting to support him at his Altitude show recently in Melbourne was also a blast!
What brought you guys together to work on “Nothing Is Left” and what made the track the right mixture of your sounds?
Achilles: For me, it was a lesson in patience and persistence. I remember sending MaRLo a demo back in early 2021 and him responding asking for me to change a few things. So I excitedly did so the very same day and sent it back. He responded a few days later asking me to make some further changes, which I did hastily and sent it back once again. After that, I didn’t hear from him for over three months. I was bummed. I had followed up a couple of times, so by then I thought I had blown the opportunity. Then I got a message in my inbox along the lines of, “I love this, but I want to change one of the drops, could we make this a collab?” And the rest is history.
We also understand that you have some other big collaborations in the works. Can you share any info on the other tracks you’re working on?
Achilles: Happy to report my release schedule is booked out for the better part of the year. Lister and I have several more collabs yet to be released, as we have become great friends and found that our sounds and musical goals greatly align. I don’t want to give too much away, but seeing as he’s spoken about it publicly himself now, I can say that Andrew Rayel and I are working on getting clearance to put out a collaborative remix of Delerium’s "Silence" which he played at his Ultra Miami set a few weeks ago. Of course, my now well-known future rave collaboration with Justus is still as yet unreleased due to some frustrating sample clearance issues, but we really hope to be able to put that out as soon as possible. 
Lister, of the artists that have played your music, who are you most proud of?
Lister: The live support over the years from Timmy Trumpet, Ben Nicky, Will Sparks, Maddix, Andrew Rayel, MORTEN + many more has been amazing. Also very grateful for Austin Kramer who is always supporting my music through Tomorrowland’s One World Radio. Above all though, I’m most proud of the recent support from Hardwell – everything from his kind words to downloading my music as well as featuring me in his playlist has been incredibly inspiring for me.
For both of you, your music fits in really nicely with the future rave sound. What influence has the movement started by David Guetta & MORTEN had on you and what’s your take on the genre?
Achilles: I remember absolutely falling in love with the New Rave EP. It was one of the most inspirational records for me personally. I think because I really echoed the sentiments of David Guetta and MORTEN regarding how they felt about the state of mainstage EDM and the fact it needed a push in a new direction. Having said that, I think many don’t realize that future rave is not a sound, it’s a vibe. It will change, evolve and become intertwined with other sounds as time goes on. 
Lister: For me it was also the New Rave EP, especially "Kill Me Slow." I had it on repeat for weeks. That record alone is what inspired me to get those leads into my tracks. "I Can’t See" is the first song of mine where I aimed to make it more future rave-y, and as I further dove into the genre my sound started to become a lot more techno influenced. These days I like to keep my breakdowns mainly future rave based, and work around it with whatever comes to mind. 
Hardwell’s return seems to have brought new life into big room techno. Outside of future rave, will you be focusing on this sound also? 
Achilles: I was actually watching Hardwell’s Ultra set live from my living room and I recall being so excited knowing that my own sound was already headed in a similar direction with more techno-inspired records lined up to be coming out later in the year. Of course Will Sparks has been massively influential on me and supportive of my music, and I’m also a huge fan of the gritty sounds of Maddix, Ummet Ozcan, Avao, Julian Jordan, MorganJ, DubVision and others. As producers we tend to churn out some combination of all the sounds that we consume, so perhaps there’s a bit of a hint of what to expect.
Lister: Future rave and big room techno have been my main focus for the last 6-8 months I would say. So when I saw Hardwell return with this sound it absolutely blew me away. I was so excited. It’s definitely starting to feel like EDM is going down a new road and I’m extremely keen to see where it goes. 
Turning our attention to your work as a DJs, how would you describe your sound and style? How might your Spotlight Mix compare to a current club show?
Achilles: There are two faces to the Achilles project – a lighter, more progressive side, and a darker, harder side. Our Spotlight Mix is more on the darker side, but there’s a time and place to play both styles. When it comes to playing live, I feel having a strong stage presence is vitally important. I’m not a fan of overusing the mic or doing nothing but jumping around without touching the decks, but it’s also true that if you can’t connect visually with the crowd or at least look like you’re having fun, you can’t expect the crowd to have fun with you either. DJing, for me, is about channeling your emotion and feeding off the crowd.
Lister: My sound these days is a blend of techno, big room, future rave and house music. My club shows are based around this sound, so I would say that our Spotlight Mix is fairly similar to what you could expect at one of my shows. However when I’m DJing I like to incorporate a lot more vocal edits to keep the crowd engaged. 
Looking closer at your track selection, can you highlight any standouts? You’ve included a number of IDs, so can you tell us anything about them?
Achilles: I would say "Touch Me" is the song that just keeps on giving, the DJ support has been incredible. Justus and I are constantly asked when it’s going to be released. We’ve run into sample clearance issues outside of our control, but we hope to get it out as soon as possible.
I’ve also included my Future Sunrise Remix of Delerium’s "Silence," my new collaboration with MaRLo, "Nothing Is Left," as well as my debut record on Spinnin’ earlier in the year, "Keep On Dreaming."
Lister: There are some exclusive IDs in this mix that you won’t hear anywhere else. Some from myself, some from Achilles, maybe some from both of us... can’t say much more than that for now, but stay tuned!
And looking ahead, what’s keeping you excited and motivated on a daily basis? Are there any other plans that you’d like to share?
Achilles: A lot of dreams are coming true and I’m getting to work with some of my biggest inspirations and favorite labels. The trajectory has been consistently upwards since I officially started this project a couple of years ago and I have an incredible team around me now as well. It seems that we are smashing goals every week, and sometimes I have to pinch myself. Onwards and upwards!
Lister: It’s definitely safe to say that the upcoming plans and ideas for my brand is what keeps me motivated. I have some really exciting music coming up that I’m super proud of and can’t wait to share. All of the videos and messages from people loving my music are amazing as well, and they are definitely something that pushes me to work harder.  
Achilles & Lister & Jessie Lee Thetford - "As The Rush Comes" is available to download/stream on your platform of choice!
Connect with Achilles: Spotify | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Connect with Lister: Spotify | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
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