Multitasking can be quite easy, if all the tasks are fundamentally enjoyable. Just ask The Aston Shuffle. The Australian duo—Vance Musgrove and Mikah Freeman—have been making music together for a decade, and in this time have established themselves as forerunners of the Australian scene. Equally skilled as producers, remixers, selectors, and mentors, the guys have forged an ever-growing presence on the world stage since meeting in their native Canberra. The duo rose to prominence on the power of their standout remixes, and quickly became regulars on the famed Ministry of Sound compilations. The Aston Shuffle remixes of tracks by artists including Claude Vonstroke, London Grammar, and Empire of the Sun were blogosphere sensations, and Sunrise, a 2013 collaboration with fellow Aussie Tommy Trash, hit #1 on Beatport. 2014’s Photographs debuted at #12 on the Australian album chart and demonstrated the duo’s ability to lean into the pop realm while still keeping the sound cool and club-worthy. Their newest output marks a return to the sound closest to their hearts—house.
“We wrote house music when we first started out,” Freeman says, “and even though we’ve gone through a lot of paths during our evolution, the things that still excites us most is house music.” The newest The Aston Shuffle output plugs in neatly to the current worldwide house music renaissance. January 2016 track High With You, along with the forthcoming Don’t Let Go, were selected by house maestro The Magician, who sought on The Aston Shuffle via Soundcloud, for release on his taste-making Potion label. The tracks have since gotten play by a wide range of prominent DJs and tastemakers worldwide, from dance legend Pete Tong, future house upstart Oliver Heldens, all the way to main-room monster Martin Garrix. While clearly the output of experienced producers, these sexy, effervescent tracks are also infused with the fresh energy and joy that brings the sound to life.
“Audiences can hear it when you’re having fun in the studio,” Freeman says. “Ultimately, it’s about making people dance.”In addition to producing, Musgrove and Freeman have established themselves as ace selectors. Their weekly triple j show, The Friday Night Shuffle, reaches a million listeners every week and is the most popular Friday night radio program in Australia. The program gives listeners another snapshot of Musgrove and Freeman’s long track record of picking emerging talent. Acts such as Flume and RÜFÜS DU SOL, now among the world’s most exciting electronic acts in 2016, were tapped for remixes – and as a tour support act in the case of RÜFÜS DU SOL – when they were still fledgling projects.
The guys have also expanded the scope of their work as writers and producers to incorporate a variety of both up-and-coming and established Australian acts. It’s a role that allows Musgrove and Freeman the opportunity to make genre-spanning music while focusing on what they’re most passionate about as The Aston Shuffle. “We both know it when we hear something that’s for us,” Freeman says. “You just get that feeling in your gut and know that it’s special.’”The guys have an arsenal of new tracks they’re preparing for release, and the coming months will find them utilizing all of their talents in the studio, on the radio, and out in clubs.
“Right now,” Freeman says, “it’s all about focusing on what we find fun.”