It might only be January, but we’re pretty sure that one of the biggest collaborations of 2024 has already arrived in the form of this scorching new Hard Dance gem. The track in question is Yusef Kifah vs Lab4 vs SHOCK:FORCE – Champagne, and it brings together three artists who have consistently proved that they are forces to be reckoned with when it comes to making Dance music. The first artist, Yusef Kifah, is a Malaysian DJ whose name you might recognize from our feature about his invigorating Hard Trance track Energy from 2021. Also making an appearance is legendary UK artist Lab 4, also known as award-winning writer Les Elston, as well as producer and DJ Joseph O’Sullivan under the alias SHOCK:FORCE.
The varied experiences of the three artists who feature on Champagne no doubt played a part in the fact its sound has both retro and modern elements. The artists themselves describe it as a track that “blends a bit of then with a lot of now”, as well as emphasizing the teamwork that went into making the track and bringing out its “ripest euro elements” that listeners are sure to latch onto. Stretching out over five-and-a-half minutes, Champagne’s greatest moment comes at around the midway point, when the simmering hum of bass synths and whirring atmospheric effects build up before exploding into a huge, anthemic melody. This section is followed by a stylishly executed drop, which avoids expectations by slowly breaking the track down, then gradually adding elements back in, and finally escalating into another gritty and intense melodic section.
As is perhaps to be expected from three artists with such different experiences, Yusef Kifah vs Lab4 vs SHOCK:FORCE – Champagne defies Hard Dance norms and keeps listeners on their toes with its fresh, vibrant blend of sounds and textures. With any luck, we’ll be hearing more from these artists throughout 2024 and beyond.
Stream Yusef Kifah vs Lab4 vs SHOCK:FORCE – Champagne on Spotify below!
We also had the chance to have a chat with the 3 artists! Check out our exclusive interview with Yusef Kifah, Lab 4 and SHOCK:FORCE below and get to know the artists behind the new Hard Trance anthem “Champagne!
Please tell us how this collaboration happened, how did it start?
Yusef Kifah : SHOCK:FORCE & I kicked it off with an early idea of doing something together about 3 years ago. We got the ball rolling over a year or so and finally dropped it off to Lab4 for a proper concluding zing. The rest is history!
Lab 4 : I was first aware of Yusef’s work through Hard Trance Europe (HTE), Nick Coles signed one of Yusef’s tracks and I got sent it through the HTE Black Hole Mailing list, I was really impressed with the energy and drive, it sounded very fresh. So when Yusef contacted me last year ‘2023’ and said did I want to be involved in a collaboration along with Joe (Shock:Force) I said yes straight away without hearing it. I knew it would kick arse, so when I heard it I was really impressed with the vibe and fresh sound.
Talk to us about the idea/concept behind “Champagne”?
Yusef Kifah : Let’s just say that it’s the sonic representation of what drinking champagne feels like!
Lab 4 : It’s a very eclectic track, keeps you in your toes and guessing where it’s going next. I think this kind of track arrangement is really fun to write, mashing the grooves up with strong catchy melodies over the top of it.
First of all, how much do you like champagne (the drink) on a scale of 1 to 10?
Yusef Kifah : Depends on the brand, but I’d give it a solid 8. You’ve gotta drink more than enough to get you there!
Lab 4 : It depends, sometimes it can be a bit sharp. I really like Veuve Clicquot , Moet is nice but you have to have something with it.
SHOCK:FORCE : 7-8 out of ten depending on the mood 😂
What is the biggest inspiration / influence to your sound?
Yusef Kifah : Euphoric sounds all round, anything that takes the listener to places within their soul.
Lab 4 : I very rarely listen to Hard Trance, so I’d say producers such as AU5, Skrillex, Spore and film soundtracks.
SHOCK:FORCE : I grew up listening to the classic trance of 2000’s but I soon realised I liked the tougher side of trance, Scot Project, Ferry Corsten, S.H.O.K.K., Guyver, Montorsi & Antolini, DBD, Walt, JK Walker, Mauro Picotto to name a few.
What is a day like in your life? What do you do outside of Djing/producing?
Yusef Kifah : Dance music is my calling, hence running Elektronity – a community-centric media, events and talent agency focused on nightlife here in Malaysia!
Lab 4 : I rent my house out to film companies and arts/media universities as a film and photoshoot location.
SHOCK:FORCE : I work in technology 👍
What is the electronic music song that made you fall in love with electronic music?
Yusef Kifah : Tune Up! – Ravers Fantasy. My brother introduced it to me when I was 9 years old. Was a big achievement of mine to officially remix it in 2020.
Lab 4 : Nine Inch Nails first album, and everything Trent Reznor ever did. He was my biggest early influence.
SHOCK:FORCE : Oh that’s a great question! I’d probably say Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics , I love all that 80s synth pop.
If you could eternally be stuck in one year’s music scene, which year would it be?
Yusef Kifah : 2008. In my opinion, that was the best point in the cycle of when Hard Trance / Dance was at its peak with Hands Up in the airwaves all over. Perhaps 2024 is next?
Lab 4 : 2006.
SHOCK:FORCE : 2003-2004.
Name one track that never gets old for you no matter how many times you hear/play it?
Yusef Kifah : Oof, this is a tough one. But at the top of my head right now, I’d say Tiesto & BT’s “Break My Fall”. Lot’s of champagne in the music video too come to think of it!
Lab 4 : Sulphurex – Point Break from 1994.
SHOCK:FORCE : Ado The Dream – Roll Of Bass (Ado & Montorsi Mix)
What is your dream collaboration? If you could collaborate with one artist, alive or dead, who would it be?
Yusef Kifah : Making “Champagne” with these two legends is definitely one for the books. But since this dream has been realised, I’d love to make a banger with Yoji Biomehanika next!
Lab 4 : Trent Reznor.
SHOCK:FORCE : A tough one but probably Scot Project or Walt.
Do you have a favorite destination? To perform? Just to enjoy?
Yusef Kifah : All roads lead to… home? Kuala Lumpur has such a vibrant and growing scene and I’d love to show it to the world. Partying and performing here in Malaysia has always been fun!
Lab 4 : Japan or Australia.
SHOCK:FORCE : Greece!
What genres of music do you usually listen to? Are you strictly electronic? Give us a few tracks that you’ve been hooked on lately.
Yusef Kifah : Hard Trance is and always will be my spiritual home. Freeform Hardcore is usually my daily driver, currently listening to ~ Force & Jack Speed ft. Lisa Abbott – Break Of Dawn (Scott Brown Remix)
Lab 4 : Rock / Metal / Classical.
SHOCK:FORCE : I listen to pretty much anything, I like tech house, funky, metal, nu metal all the way to Hans Zimmer!
Do you have a Pop/mainstream music guilty pleasure? ^_^
Yusef Kifah : I actually really love My Chemical Romance… Don’t take me as an Emo though!
Lab 4 : Loads lol. BabyMetal, Britney Spears, GaGa, the producers they use are so good.
SHOCK:FORCE : Yeah 80s synth pop! Also quite like a lot of the mainstream nu metal that came out!
Have you ever produced a completely different genre of music? If not, is it something that is of any interest to you?
Yusef Kifah : Yes of course! I believe a good producer should have the knowledge of making all kinds of music.
Lab 4 : Loads. Grime. Hip Hop, Metal, Soundtrack, Breakbeat, Drum & Bass, Low Fi, Glitch, Ambient Glitch.
SHOCK:FORCE : Yea for sure, Trance, House, Funky House, Tech Trance, DNB, Dubstep!
What are your plans for the near future and what do you want to focus on for 2024?
Yusef Kifah : More music, more shows, more content. Will be debuting in the UK in summer as well!
Lab 4 : New album, more focus on social media interaction.
SHOCK:FORCE : Getting more tracks out, and less time on helping others with production and more time on my own works.