Strictly Rhythmic: In The House
Retro yet modern is the steez of Serbian born Australian-based Dragan Roganović. The force known as Dirty South has stormed through wild club gigs and festivals, most recently the star-packed Coachella, with a sensibility steeped in good old fashioned elbow grease informed by a modern streamlined approach. “Of course you get influenced by different things. Whatever you come up with, as a production, is a result of being influenced by everything around you.” His innate sensibilities can be heard in full effect with his contributions to the new compilation from revered New York label Strictly Rhythm. The fact that Strictly Rhythm “…has a whole back catalogue of house music,” including many hits Dirty heard while coming of age, made the project appealing. The dual discs of the compilation, one featuring reworkings of classics and one of modern anthems, is the perfect embodiment of the looking-back-yet-pushing-forward approach that this DJ and producer embraces.
Moving from war-torn Serbia to Australia at age 13, Dragan was at the perfect age to discover the energetic house music culture. Even so, he admits, “It took me a while to get into house music; I first went more towards urban stuff rather than house, but then when I hit 19 or 20 that’s when I got into house music. So it took me a while to get converted,” he chuckles. Getting his ‘apprenticeship’ by rocking the foundations of a local bar, he played top 40 tunes while he built up his record collection. “I think the first record that I bought was Music Sounds Better With You by Stardust. That was one of the first records where I was like ‘Wow, this is house music.’ Then I started digging deeper and deeper, getting more involved and interested in house music.”
With limited access to recording equipment and the money to buy it, a normal predicament for a teenager, Dragan made use of what he had available. “I started with an old cassette player. So I was sort of mixing with tapes.” Thanks to a double tape deck, he says, somewhat nostalgically, “The one I had was a bit dodgy so for some reason you could actually play both tapes at the same time. It was kind of like having turntables.” As primitive as the method was, he states, “I think it was important to learn the hard way, to go back to the caveman ages. As the technology became available everything became easier because I already knew how to do it the hard way. ”
Learning on analogue and digital gear, he incorporates both into his production. “I have a couple of studios, one in Melbourne and one in LA, so I can record stuff with guitars, vocals and drums. I have the access to record real instruments, not just working on a laptop.” With America becoming a new hotbed for dance music, Dirty South is ready to conquer the land of opportunity as he preps his new studio album. “It’s gonna be a collaboration album. Travelling around the world, meeting new people, making friends you end up saying ‘let’s go the studio’ and then you start working on a track. I have a few collaborations on the go, so I decided to make a Dirty South and friends album.” Wrapping things up over the new few months, the project will be out through his newly formed Phazing imprint. He concedes that there will be a slightly different vibe to the new album, thanks to his collaborators, but fans need not worry, “It’s still gonna be that big room sound, house music, it’s not like I’m going dubstep or something. So I don’t think people should be scared.”
Dirty South’s [AUS] Strictly Dirty South is out now on Strictly Rhythm.