Bag Raiders are an Australian dance pop duo, comprising Jack Glass and Chris Stacey. They were formed in Sydney in 2006.
The pair met at school in the mid nineties, in decidedly different musical settings to the ones that they’d go on to become part of as Bag Raiders. It was during an orchestra practice, with Stracey playing violin and clarinet and Glass on piano and cello. They struck up a friendship that would rekindle in the mid-noughties, when they reunited and began to create unusual mixes of hip hop and seventies rock. They quickly moved on to making their own music, issuing a couple of EPs in 2007. By 2009, they were placing at number eleven on a poll of Australia’s top DJs, and seeing their track ‘Shooting Stars’ listed at number eighteen on the best tracks of 2009 rundown by respected Australian radio station Triple J.
They went on to enjoy further success, in 2010, with the release of their self-titled debut album; the lead single, ‘Sunlight’, featured Dan Black. To date, ‘Shooting Stars’ remains their best-loved track, re-entering the charts in 2013. Its popularity endures partly thanks to its adoption as an unofficial anthem by A-League team Adelaide United, and partly because of its use in McDonald’s adverts in 2009 and 2010. Its 2013 resurgence was perhaps attributable to an appearance on an episode of Australian Idol.
So, B-A-G-R-A-I-D-E-R-S. Tell us your story – how it all started. I remember a certain mix from 2005, with Bag Raiderzzzzzzz on it.
That’s where it all began! I think it was 2006 or 2007, but you could be right, it’s all a bit hazy from back then… Basically, with our good buddy Gus da Hoodrat / Dreems, we made a mix CD, we raided the bags of a whole lot of other DJ friends, our parents, whoever. That’s where the name came from and it kinda stuck…we put that original mix up on Soundcloud a couple of years ago, if anyone wants to check it out!
So, humble beginnings, right? Well, 2005-07 is what we like to call “the golden era” for indie electronic music. Greats, like yourself, MSTRKRFT, Justice, etc., all started making marks on the musical world then. How have things changed since that magical time? And, do you like the change?
Yes, it was a good time, very inspiring. I think things have changed, both for better and worse, since then. The way people digest music has changed, and that in turn has changed the kinds of music people make. I’d say it’s probably easier to get internet famous now, but harder to kinda sustain that for any length of time. Obviously, there’s been a whole bunch of shitty EDM out there – especially in the US – that we’ve tried to stay away from. But, I think as a result of that, there’s a sort of backlash where a lot of musical, interesting, emotional dance music is coming to the fore, and that’s a very good thing!
let’s talk about your studio. What kind of gear are you guys using to produce? Tell us all about the different drum machines, synthesizers, outboard gear, etc. you use throughout the production process.
We use Ableton as our DAW and we have a whole bunch of analogue gear. Too much stuff to go through it all here! But basically, we try to get out of the box as much as possible. Whether that’s using hardware synths (old and new, Chris is getting into modular stuff in a big way right now!) or just playing instruments live. Between us, we both play most things, so our bases are pretty much covered. We also try to use outboard reverbs and fx, lots of guitar pedals. Anytime you take something out of the box, it feels a bit more real! Oh and the UAD stuff is amazing, we have 4 Apollos!
So, that’s how you achieve your unique sound! Quite brilliant. Onto your DJ sets – other than your own work, what have you been playing out at live shows? Any specific artists that are impressing you at the moment?
Lots of Purple Disco Machine, HNNY, Doc Daneeka, that kind of stuff! But honestly, our DJ sets are kinda always different. Sometimes, we play super summery, pool party vibes, [while] other times we get very african and percussive, deep in the jungle…
When you and Chris are working in the studdio, if you hit a creative block, what do you do to clear your mind? any tricks of the trade?
Yeah we are very big on going and having a coffee, or like going and having a beer is another thing we do. But, the beer sometimes backfires because we just end up just super drunk in the studio and then it’s like 3P.M and we’re saying “let’s get a beer, yeah we aren’t really having any good ideas” then before you know it it’s like 9 PM and we’ve had like 10 beers and there’s no way we are going to work. We still do it all the time though haha, it happens.
Have you ever been star- struck by celebrity or another DJ?
Yeah, I mean I’m known to be kind of shy so I’m generally star struck by the person at the pharmacy or the cafe or whatever, but the most crazy one I can think of is when I was at a bar and someone told me that uh Guy [Manuel de Homem-Christo] from Daft Punk was there and I kind of freaked out, because of that whole thing where you never see them without the mask, so that was pretty cool. With my beer in hand I sort of just stood from across the room and not very subtly stared at him.
How’s the travelling life going? What have been some of your favourite moments over the past few years being abroad?
Traveling life is great! Along with studio time, it’s the best part of the job for me. New people, places, food, drink, experiences. Sure there’s a lot of waiting around in airports and not a lot of sleep, but it’s more than balanced out by all the fun stuff. The best experiences in the last few years have been playing more and more in Asia (it’s always a good time) and getting to know some cities and clubs in the US quite well, as we’re playing there on the reg.
You seem to DJ fairly regularly in Bali. What inspires you to continue heading back there?
We go pretty much anywhere people invite us. Bali is a fun crowd, lots of Australians. It’s quite different to Jakarta which is nearly 100 per cent Indo. Both are cool though. In Bali the crowd is a lot crazier but I guess playing in Jakarta feels a little more exotic.
With all of these beach visits, surely you have some new favourite cocktails? What do they consist of?
I’m not much of a cocktail man. On the beach I like to drink beer. Preferably beer that tastes like piss and you can drink 8 or 9 without cracking a sweat. Mexican beer works well here.
Traveling the world and dishing out some incredible sets doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me. Now that you’re both veterans in the game (10+ years), what’s the next step for Bag Raiders? And, what advice do you have for upcoming producers out there?
Right now, it’s all about this tour we’re on, then touring in OZ, then the album will come out, and after that, who knows?! I would say the most important thing a young producer can do is not be too precious about their work. Just get it out there and beat it next time around. Too many people get stuck trying to make the perfect first release, when usually that’s not gonna be what defines you as a band / artist anyway. We play Fun Punch (our first release) in our live show at the moment. It’s super fun to play, but it’s so raw and messy, every time we do it I think, “holy shit, we knew nothing back then!”