Artist Spotlight : Origin



Real Name: Brendan Bartels, Cypher (Rishi Shah)
Hometown: South Jersey
Profession: Producer, DJ, DJ Instructors, Roland Consultants
Hobbies: Hookah, movies, wine, art and all types of ill sh*t
Affiliations: Roland, Vlado Footwear, Discover Dark, Critical State

When you see DJ duos, there is always a question of is there an equal partnership

With trance duo Origin, you learn very quickly that they are equals. A rare pair, equally talented in both DJing and producing. Brendan and Cypher are not just best friends, but musical soul mates. Funny, crazy, and passionate about their craft, which has allowed them to grow, develop and maintain a decade’s long career. Always looking for creative outlets and never wanted to be in a box, the two have an interesting history and their future will continue to be strong. From the East coast to the West coast, these two are showing everyone else what real friendship is behind the decks and in real life.

You guys have been friends for a long time, where did you guys meet and how did you guys get into DJing?

B:  Essentially, we met at Rutgers University while attending college. Cypher actually created a DJ union. He was hip-hop and I was trance. Kind of short, because it’s a long ass story. So this is just a glimpse. I took him to his first trance event in Philadelphia. We got in the booth with Tyas, Tom Colontonio and Patterson, right in 2008, right after Bulldozer, and Sean and Simon when they were starting to really get moving. And yeah we partied with them…and Cypher….

C: It was my first trance event and I didn’t know what to think. Simon grabbed me by the head and I said I can’t believe this. This is beautiful. He said in less than 3 months you will be producing nothing but trance and he shook my head while he did it and I was like ‘fuck yeah’.  Like this is changing my life. I had spent 7/8 years doing hip-hop creating beats, DJin and just like that, I changed my entire career. A few months later, we went to Trance Energy, my first trance experience in a festival and that just took me to the next level. A whole other world I discovered and I never looked back.

B: And that is still the short version. We got together, created one alias that never went anywhere, it was just us figuring shit out because we weren’t really doing trance yet.

What was the alias?

B: We shouldn’t even tell

You gotta tell…this is a tell all interview

B: It was called BC.

C: BC Trance. We were still trying to mash our ideas together, get to know each other, and I was learning trance, and he was learning other things and it was an experimental time and we really redeveloped ourselves, our commitment to music, and our brand. That is when we created Origin. And wrote our first track that we ever got signed, Train Wreck and that was the night we decided to do that.

Over the years have you faced any challenges or obstacles in maintaining your friendship as a working duo like other duos have in the past? If so how did you overcome them, if not, how do you avoid them?

C: We beat each other usually; a solid punch in the face gets all your aggression out.

B: Sock um bop um.

C: Donkey Punch in the back of the head

B: Honestly like we have hit hard parts but honestly we have heard this from a lot of other artists like Tom Colontonio, Steve of Allen and Envy, Heatbeat and a lot of other cats; and a lot of them had said to us that it is rare that two guys do equal producing and equal DJin in a duo. Like the other duos out there has one or the other. So we have heard it a lot where they say that is your musical soul mate. We always refer to that when it is the best of times and the worst times, you always then find the best of times to continue. But, you have to really trust that person and I do.

C: You start to remember there are times when we are in the booth, the exact same song I am thinking of he is playing and thinking of, and it is like telekinesis. That is a really rare thing. I have tried to DJ with other people, friends and stuff, and that is a special connection. So when you add up all those really impactful things you have a very powerful idea when you are together. And separate you are still great artists but maybe not as great as you are together. And when it comes down to that you make it work

Braden you started as a DJ and Cypher you started as a hip-hop producer, and have both transitioned over into trance production. What aspect do you like more performing or producing? 

C: That is kind of like to us when asked do you like drinking water or breathing oxygen.

B: Maybe more drinking wine or vodka

C: But the truth is there is something really satisfying when sitting in front of a computer or however we want to do it and writing something that is tangible and will lasts forever. And the nights like this it is only real to the people who were there and at that moment and then you have to move on from it. So there is something to gain and I think we are both the same way where we don’t want to do exclusively one or the other. We want both and I think that is why we work well. I started producing and DJing just about the same time. I was a shit producer, making shit hip-hop but it takes time and you grow and we both want to continue doing both.

What are your feelings when you play your own tracks and you hear a positive response from the crowd?

B: Like true musicians, we are our toughest critics and we hate most of our tracks after we release them. Like 3 weeks later even if they are semi successful or somewhat people like them. We are for some reason just very tough on it. But we actually are playing a few of ours tonight. Like when we actually do play them, people come up to us, and say something to us random to us in a crowd like Aberration of Light or something, it really is rewarding because you touched someone with just music; not even just music or words, you moved them by sound frequency which is special

C: When you spend months and months working on a track you are tired of hearing it, by the time the label releases it, it’s like maybe 5 or 6 months have passed, and if you are always growing, your new sound is always better. So you kind of resent your old sound. So we end up not playing our old tracks, even when people love them because we just don’t like them like that anymore. That is part of the chase; you have to balance it sometimes or you will beat yourself up to much, but why not always put your best work forward. That is what we are always trying to do which is growth.

I am a huge Tupac fan, how was it working with Tupac legendary producer DJ Daryl? How did that project come about and what can fans expect?

C: This all started, and I want to be real clear where things are at, we discovered we recently worked with George Clinton of Parliament Funkadelic and we trained him on how to use a DJ controller and it was great. And he gave us the idea on to really expand our adventures outside of the trance world. Because sometimes being an all-around artist can provide you with much more avenues and can help your trance career more because it gives you more branding. So that opportunity came around due to a good friend of ours “Big Mike Rob” from Vlado footwear and sponsored artists and laces us up and treats us good. He’s an awesome guy. But he saw an opportunity that he was working with a connection to him and we went for it. We met with Daryl and we talked about our idea, we want to make an electronic version with a Tupac vocal since he owns many of the rights to the unreleased songs. Wow! I am a diehard Tupac fan, I know every single song, own every album, and know every lyric. In my toughest times, I listen to Pac and it was an honor to be there. And He told us that if Pac was still around, he would approve of this and he would like to be explored in this way. And he told us some stories of Pac that I never knew. I seen all the DVDs, I own the Rose That Grew From Concrete poetry. You name it I done it, and it was awesome! To think that for once maybe even a slight chance of us attaching our names to someone who is so close to me and emotionally that was a bucket list that I never even thought to come true since he is not here anymore. So the project and thing is still in development but we started with that idea.

We will be working Trinidad James on a track as well. He is one of our students. So we will see where 2018 will go.

B: Got our fingers in a few other pots as well and some scoring as well, but yeah we were talking about that should we call ourselves something different. And we said no, we already encompass so many different sounds that inspire us, that we are not going to do different alias for different sounds. It is just going to be a Pac track with Trinidad on it.

You have worked with some big names in the music industry.  Do you ever get star struck? In addition, what has been the most surreal moment?

B: I see all musicians just as other dudes or chicks. Honestly in the trance scene especially. But like George Clinton is one of the most down earth cats we have ever met. Like the dude is 70 and he parties like it is still 1970. And he is jumping around and has more energy than some DJs now. But the humility just shows them as people

C: And those are the right kind of people to work with because they make it enjoyable. They actually inspire you no matter how old, young, no matter what music they do. So Brendan is absolutely right. At the end of the day everyone is just the same, trying to share what they are doing for the right reasons hopefully, unless they are like that typical douchebag and it’s like fuck off I don’t want to work with this guy because it’s not a fun creative process. But that doesn’t really happen.  Because if you are in the game long enough it’s because you care and you worked hard to get there and you have to respect people for that. But there are some exceptions to that.

B: There are always exceptions to the rule.

Finally, if you could live by one motto what would it be?

B: Work hard

C: Pass the booze, haha!

B: Always be tenacious. I think the biggest thing I think that is in this scene or anything that is art or creative passion, or even if it isn’t a creative passion, that we always keep our F’in heads down. No matter how much you fail or how much you succeed. You just keep grinding because over time people, fail and people cut in and out and you know if you keep your head down long enough, we truly believe that you will get there. It is just a grind. If you really believe in yourself and the grind and don’t let outside forces or if someone’s track is doing better, like success for everyone is great. That is just you and motivation to see someone who is killing it and that is going to inspire me to write an amazing track like that

C: Absolutely, there has been like a 100 reasons why we could have quit a million different times and at the end of the day it’s not just about believing, a lot of people believe in you, but you have to believe in yourself above everything else around you screaming in your face otherwise it isn’t going to happen. Rather its family or friends anything in that mix. I mean we both have put it all on the line, physically and metaphorically we both moved out to LA simply to pursue our music career. We didn’t know a ton of people, we didn’t have a bunch of promoter connects. But we believed that there was something greater for us and our story wasn’t done on the East coast and New York and we were just starting. So here we are now, so if anything that is a testament of that. And how can you not believe that more every day when life gives you a little taste of that, you know it is all within your grasp.

B: Even with the kicks and knots

C: We get knocked down a lot. We get the wins its great because we don’t always see it coming and when you work hard to get there and sometimes the things you are supposed to get you don’t get but life kinda works in a funny way and along with that you have to learn to appreciate the pain and the pleasure. And a lot of guys come in, new students and stuff, and they want to learn how do they get on stage and do this and that, and honestly the hard parts are what define you as an artist, because they craft you to be a better artist. And if you are not open to that, you won’t reach greatness.