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I don’t talk much about ambient music in this project, but it is such a big part of my everyday life. This omission makes sense. I have spent a lot of my life over the past two years discussing the artists, events, and spaces where we have been united by volume, propulsive beats and anthemic chords. Our community was brought to life on the alter of the dancefloor where we all sought to celebrate life and I was there to document it. However, my experience of electronic music and my path to that sacred space of celebration did not come through techno, house, or any other traditional genre of dance music. It came through countless hours appreciating the slow beauty of Brian Eno, Steve Roach, and numerous other ambient artists. Every since listening to Eno’s “Music For Airports” and Roach’s “Structures of Silence”, my DNA has slowly mutated to give me feelings of profound calm and restfulness when I let those waves of soft, reoccurring loops wash over me. Even today, I spend the vast majority of my time in my listening chair exploring the dense sonic landscapes of Brock Van Wey and Tim Hecker or the beautiful ambience of Miles Davis rather than venture out into crowds and noise. So it seems fitting to return to where it all started. It seems fitting to complete the circle and end with an a local artist named Forest Management who has walked this path as well and has created beautiful ambient music.

I still remember when I saw Forest Management (John Daniel) perform live for the first time. It was a year or two back in the Frequency Friday series. He was playing tracks from his most recent album “Transparent” and had a reel-to-reel project set up playing stock footage of an old black and white movie.

The whole experience gave me a feeling of timelessness. Despite their date of creation being separated by vast expanses of time, it was as if all these images and sounds were meant to co-exist together in the same space. It was as if this music had been echoing through our forests, oceans, and atmosphere for all of time and John had somehow decoded the sonic vibrations that connect us to those people of so long ago. I couldn’t help but feel a profound sense of the immense, but still finite, span of human history. So many individual lives all living by the same cycles and routines. So many individuals hearing and responding to the same rhythms of life, but responding to them all in different ways. This is the power of the patient, gorgeous loops in Forest Management’s music. It is a musical rosetta stone that gives us the headspace to explore the unexamined facets of our reality and see the interconnection of all things and time.

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We need meaningful, powerful ambient music like Forest Management’s in these loud and chaotic times. We need music that helps us feel a range emotions. We need music that can offer us headspace and not just fill our empty moments with cacophony. We need music that can help us find ourselves and navigate the twists and turns of life in an intentional fashion and not just add in more statements about how we should be living. We need music that can quiet our fearful and nervous thoughts of the future and let us engage deeply with all the beauty going on around us. In short, we need music that can help us disengage and reconnect with all that it means to be human. Forest Management’s new album “The Contemplative Life” (out now on Cathedral Transmissions) is a perfect piece of ambient music to accompany your attempts to slow down and reflect on the world around you. It is one of his finest works to date and would be a fine accompaniment to any quiet moment that you hope to enjoy at a deeper level.

Interview:

Local Autonomy: What does music and sound more broadly mean to the way you live and experience life?
Forest Management: I’ve always tried to live life through a reflective lens. There is too much meaning and purpose in every moment to just pass off as unimportant, or ignore all-together. In each day there are new things to learn, natural phenomena that we failed to notice the day before, and a freeing uncertainty for tomorrow. For me, music serves as a companion for those everyday moments. This companionship causes me to seek out music and sounds that resonate with my own unique self-reflection and daily life. It’s also a big part of my personal faith, as I see music as valid proof that I’m on this miracle of a planet for a reason.

LA: How did you get into making music?
FM: When it came to recording and listening to music I was kind of a late bloomer, though I had been in my school music program since the fifth grade. I started on the string bass, and didn’t appreciate it as much as I probably should have…I picked up percussion in high-school, and loved it…that’s when I began to call myself a musician. Drums will always be my first love. I started a band with three of my friends called Royal Waves towards the end of my sophomore year. We made post-rock, though it wasn’t extremely intentional – our recordings just came out of whatever was influencing us at the time. It was a nice feeling to stand for something that was different from what the other local bands at the time were putting out, though. I suppose that mode of creating kept developing, and I found myself attracted to the more ‘experimental’ elements of the music that we were into at the time. I kept pursuing that attraction, and it became more and more refined, even to this day. After I graduated high-school my youth pastor gave me a classical guitar, and I started to write songs on my own. I delved in the folk music scene a little bit, and was really into the personal, intimate aspects of independent songwriting. I really didn’t start making ambient music until later…I probably listened to ambient music for a good year or two before I attempted to create it on my own. The first ambient record I bought was Brian Eno’s Music For Airports. I got it on a Friday night at a Barnes & Noble when I was alone and had no real plans for the weekend (which was kind of the norm). I had no idea what to expect…I think the artwork just caught my attention. I still keep that CD in my car, and will only listen to it sparingly…it’s a very personal thing for me and sort of brings me back to that time of my life, a time that I cherish.

LA: What are some of the musical influences that helped shape your sound?
FM: My influences are pretty straight-forward…when I first stumbled upon ambient music I immediately knew it was going to be my niche. It’s that feeling you get when you find something, and you know it’s what you’ve been looking for, what you’ve been waiting to hear. It amazed me that there were musicians who solely focused on these minimal, pure sounds, with no particular ‘catch’ or need for much more. Stars of The Lid is still my all-time favorite collaboration. I’m also very inspired by ambient composers & artists like William Basinski, Scott Solter, David Tagg, Tim Hecker, Sean McCann, and Celer – there are almost too many to name. However, I don’t intend to re-create any of the sounds I am influenced by, and I do listen to a variety of other types of music.

LA: There is a patience and beauty in your music that I often hear coming out of the music of Brian Eno, Steve Roach, and other like musicians. I find profound senses of calm and clarity when listening to the repetitions and slow evolution of your music. What is your approach to recording? How do you find these melodies?
FM: The approach is pretty simple – I decide I want to record music, and I get my computer and synthesizer and find a quiet place where I can concentrate. It usually comes just as that – a natural impulse rather than a planned event. Music For Stargazing was an exception, as I had set a deadline for myself to be able to give the music to a local planetarium. I kind of see that CD-R as a completely different time and phase of writing though, and my friend Adam Miltner and I actually held writing sessions for most of the tracks. Because I use computer software to both compose and record, I end up with a lot of recordings that I don’t use. Usually I’ll try different angles of progressions and textures, and once I achieve a foundation that feels right I’ll start to build upon it. About 90% of my recordings are first-takes, and I just add layers on top. The end product is something that I could have never predicted, and each track really takes a life of its own, since I don’t go back to cut or edit anything. If there is anything I’ve been striving or trying to do lately, it’s having the discipline to keep things simple. When I first started playing out about 2 years ago I would have all of this gear, and it would just become too much…it would stress me out. Now I just use one instrument, and maybe two or three different sounds. It’s what you do with it that really brings everything to fruition.

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[The Contemplative Life Cover]

LA: Your new album is called The Contemplative Life. What were your thoughts behind the title to that work?
FM: One of my favorite parts of releasing instrumental music is being able to tie an idea, or some sort of underlying message along with it, in a way that is not always as overt as in most vocal music. Sometimes it is just one word. With The Contemplative Life, I again was looking through a reflective lens. I work a 9-5 office job, in a suburb that I grew up in and have since moved away from. The location of the office building I work in has always seemed like a very unique, surreal place to me. There is a sense of modern development, but not too much. There is plentiful vegetation and space. I always take a walk everyday from my building through these woods near the back of the parking lot. There is such a preserved peace – it’s as if the architects/investors/developers who were trying to make a ton of money off the property left in the early 1990’s and forgot about the place. Now it’s just there, totally functional but not swept up by the rapid development that takes place right down the street. The word “The Contemplative Life” just came to mind because as much as something like an office building can be a part of a person’s daily grind, there can still be a beauty and a peace within those places and moments. It’s up to us if we are willing to slow down enough to notice it. Usually we aren’t.

[A Running Stop from "The Contemplative Life"]

LA: You have a devotion to releasing your music physically and have a bandcamp to offer digital downloads as well. What are your thoughts on the interconnnection between physical and digital release formats? Do you have a preference of the two?
FM: If I had more resources from the start, I would have released all of my music physically. I first went the digital route because I had music that I wanted to share with others, and wasn’t quite yet turned onto the idea of cassettes and CD-R’s. Once I started hanging out with artists in the local underground scene, it became apparent that in many ways, physical can be a more rewarding and reciprocating way to share music. It’s definitely more personal. The one tape I’ve put out, Transparent, has been such a joy to be able to share with family and friends. I can just grab a couple and take them to shows. There is intentionality in it that is becoming scarcer in today’s music world…

LA: The Cleveland electronic music scene is always doing fun, forward-thinking events/releases/etc. What is it like to be a part of that community? Do you have any collaborators up there you like to work with?
FM: I love Cleveland and I’m here to stay. I owe a lot to the scene that I’m involved in here, as I find myself constantly challenged, inspired, and supported by the breadth of talent in this city. There are some great artists doing some great things. I think of guys like Sam Goldberg, who has made a ton of great music but then also turns around and supports other musicians by booking gigs and putting out tapes. When you say “forward-thinking” I immediately think of John Elliott and his label called Spectrum Spools – if you are not familiar with it you definitely need to check it out. It’s high-quality stuff. The community here may be small in some ways, but it’s tight-knit. My hope is that it won’t just survive, but that it will grow, and that a new generation of like-minded artists will step up to the plate. I’ve had a few jam sessions over the last year or so with some great artists up here, but no official collaboration as of yet. I also just recently began playing drums in a band called Infero – we just finished recording a new LP, and its sounding pretty awesome. Not ambient at all. It’s spectacular. It’s a ton of fun to hang out with those guys.

Links:

Forest Management Bandcamp

Purchase “The Contemplative Life” from Cathedral Transmissions

KF Signing

[Failure performing with Pink Reason]

There is a street in the SUMMIT.3 sector called smt.1 that lies just off the main thoroughfare of our city. It runs parallel to the streams of people, transportation devices, and popular notions that populate the safety of GRID 1. However, spatially and socially, the sector of SUMMIT.3 could not be more far removed from GRID.1. Its boulevard smt.1 may run to the heart of the city just like the roads of GRID.1, but as one walks down the smt.1 it feels like the segregated zone that the cloud has labeled it to be. There is a quiet to the sector that comes from its social isolation. However, despite the tension that hangs in the air like the humidity on a hot summer day, the sector at least has fewer heat-lock cameras and you don’t have to deal with the pretensions of the folks out on GRID.1.

One thing is for sure, the people who have found there way to SUMMIT.3 don’t seek out the comfort of the orthodoxy. These folks may have found themselves in this sector by ascription or by choice, but the fact remains you can search for ideas, sounds, or object here. That’s why I live in SUMMIT.3. The sorts of things I am searching for aren’t found to be profitable for consumption by the nebulous cloud of global capital that controls 95% of what is produced and sold in GRID.1. If you ask me, things started going down hill when we let an A.I. decide what we needed to produce based on the aggregated yearnings of our social media ramblings. The cloud has created a mainstream culture that has become an endless mirror of itself. A cascading descent into simulation from which there is nothing but slight tweaks on past ideas. For many folks in SUMMIT.3, this is the reason we call this sector home. We are deep-sea divers dwelling in the heeps and mounds of “out-moded” styles, philosophies, and objects that have been cast off as the fat of the empire. We don’t need the cloud to produce for us and tell us what to consume. We don’t need to be spoonfed culture. We will decide what to produce and consume for themselves from the remains of the mainstream. Sure things ain’t as shiny as they are in GRID.1, but at least we have our own path to explore.  At least we have our autonomy from the cloud.

Future Maudit September Poster

[Flyer from September Future Maudit Show]

One of the most exciting developments to happen musically in the SUMMIT.3 sector recently is the work of Kevin Failure and his Future Maudit shows. With some of his contemporaries like Tyrant Manque, they have thrown out the manual on how to throw shows centered on synthesized sound. He and his associates have embraced an inclusivity and no-boundaries approach to shows that is celebrated widely around SUMMIT.3.  It makes sense his approach would resound with the locals. They don’t just give the audience what GRID.1 promoters and performers would give them. There is no polish or packaging. There is no pretense.  He gives them art. He gives them an experience that approximates the reality we all live. He gives them noise, experimental electronics, techno, improvised improvisation. He gives them the musical equivalent to the philosophy that guides their lives. He gives them a rough, unpackaged pieces of art that allows them to explore their own autonomy in a not-so-perfect world. This is all anyone in the SUMMIT.3 sector ever wanted: A haven where they could experience a soundscape that spoke to their lives. A place where all the bullshit of the manufactured simulation of GRID.1 fell away and we were left with the skeleton of human experience.

Savage Quality

In addition to the Future Maudit shows, Failure runs a record label called Savage Quality that releases EPs and LPs from his past band Pink Reason and other assorted projects of industrial and experimental music. Failure kindly passed on one of these records to me and it oozes that same boundary-defying qualities that all of his Future Maudit shows push. It is a sound born of another sector, but it is of and about the SUMMIT.3 sector all the same. It doesn’t try to fit into a niche. It boldly steps out of the niche and begs you to turn it off. It pushes your buttons and makes you bend your ears to understand what it is all about. It features a glitchy sound of technology gone haywire that forces you to confront the inevitable decay of that shiny GRID.1 reality. It forces one to confront the reality that in the age of the cloud all is not made to last.

Future Maudit Poster

Luckily, Failure, Tyrant Manque, and my compatriots THE FALLEN will be throwing another Future Maudit Show in the tonight in the  SUMMIT.3 Sector with glacial23, Kaptin Kirk, and Jacoti Sommes at Cafe Bourbon Street (DETAILS HERE). Next Door at the Summit the comrades CC & Dustin Knell will be playing with Nosferatu, Ethan Eschelon, and Shirtless Midnight at NIGHT MODE (DETAILS HERE). The SUMMIT.3 Sector will be bopping tonight with both of these crews exploring the far reaches of sound that we all want to hear. Hell, maybe even a portion of the GRID.1 element will explore these sonic outposts and convert to the teachings of our rhythmic bible. In the mean time, enjoy this interview I did with Failure in advance of the show:

Interview:

Local Autonomy: You have been in a band for over ten years, program music at Cafe Bourbon Street, and study the history of certain strains of music. What does music and sound more broadly mean to the way you live and experience life?
Kevin Failure: Music is like oxygen, or language. It’s how I live and communicate. It’s my hustle. It’s been that way as long as I can remember. I’ve been in the band I’m in now over a decade, but I’ve been playing in bands for over twenty years now, and have been booking shows for eighteen.
Everything positive that’s ever happened to me has come from music, and music has literally saved my life many times over the years. It’s also probably indirectly responsible for plenty of the bad shit I’ve experienced too, but, what’re you gonna do?

Local Autonomy: What does the future maudit event mean to you (i.e. what is the name supposed to capture in the experience you are trying to create)?
Kevin Failure: Our policy makers, scientists and technology producers are inspired by the same dystopian science fiction that inspires us in the counter culture. While we largely read these books as warnings or prophecies, they read them as instruction manuals. We’re holding a shattered mirror up to our contemporary reality.

Local Autonomy: One of the most interesting parts of the future maudit parties is the open format approach to programming with diverse genres being represented. Why do you think its important to have spaces where noise, techno, experimental, industrial, and punk can be heard side to side?

Kevin Failure: With the exception of punk, I think that the boundaries between the other forms you mentioned were probably defined by media and marketing teams with no real connection or loyalty to the underground. During the 90’s, I’d read about Merzbow in Massive magazine, the midwest rave bible. I’ve seen plenty of Skinny Puppy references in the techno community, in interviews, on records, and a large percentage of the people I know who ended up into electronic dance music and going to parties fell into that through industrial dance music. Techno is an experimental musical form. Some of my favorite tracks are all of those things mentioned at once, and maybe that’s where the punk comes in, is in the attitude and the presentation – not giving a fuck about arbitrary rules and definitions. 

Local Autonomy: I really enjoyed thinking out loud with you about if it was still possible to create new paradigms of music in our world where many people say everything has been done or is a re-hashing of something old. Do you think creating new music, new revolutions in how music is heard and experienced is still possible today? How do you think we do it?
Kevin Failure: These things will happen organically, whether we appreciate the results or not. I just like to keep things fun and challenging, for the artists as well as the audience.

Local Autonomy: We talked at length about the role of dance in communities and cultures across the world. What role do you think dancing and music broadly defined as “dance music” plays for our communities?
Kevin Failure: It’s obviously a primal need shared by humans of all backgrounds. It’s simple: Free your ass… and your mind will follow.

Logo
We can all see the patchwork of floorboards above our heads, as we carry on our lives outside and underneath of the mainsteam monoculture. Those rickety oak 2×4’s arrayed in a weathered blanket over our heads have become our only separation from that poisonous barrage of noise and inconsequential fears that so accompany life on the surface now. Used to be that we didn’t fear being on the surface at all, but that changed some time ago. The incessant ramblings of the decaying, post-industrial society obsessed with inconsequential simulation used to stay out on the edges of our community in Columbus. It was as if those sentient swarms of ideas, sounds, and desires were fearful of entering into a space in our city where its constituent knowledge had been rejected and left for dead. We did not have to hide as much then. The noise remained much like the white noise of electricity; a sort of comforting hum of harnessed power. On the fringes of the city, we did not see this cultural cloud unleash its power on the Columbus metropolitan area with its full force. We mistook that low hum as apprehension and fear when the cloud was just leaving our isolated space for later.

However, like all sentient beings in the age of speed, this swarm of commodified simulations used its intelligence and the vast information tools at its disposal to overrun the barricades of our community. No, it wasn’t the robots or artificial intelligence. It was the very culture we have created to entertain ourselves to death that overran our free zones and made commodities out of our every thought and mode of musical expression.  Its was an ugly swarm of noise and ideas. A yellow, spectral cloud that fed off our need to be visible and be heard. Like a jackal, it stalked across our bombed out backwater seeking the diffuse strivings of human emotion it needed to survive. Unable to move in the presence of this entity, we turned subterranean. We turned to the underground.

Sitting in the fractured light in a dirty, dark space, the sounds of this culture were no longer like white noise. They became a deafening drone of diffuse status updates. Never letting up, the wood ceiling above our heads shook with the information of the 24 hour cycle of self-expression. It was in this hopeless place that we found our remedy to the digital tidal wave. Seeking to clean out our new hallow, we came across a box of unknown records. The only information we had on the music was a strange, earthly iconography shown below, an email address for Labelless Records, and a statement that the label was based in Columbus, OH.

Labelless Logo

What was this unlabeled music from our community? Who was it from? How did it get here?  It was in those initial moments of curiosity that we learned the power of those records. We started to play the records on a tired tech 1200. The music gave us the power to drown out the noise of the information cycle and got us in touch with authentic artistic creation. The music helped us forget about the lost world above our tiny hollow. The music sent us messages about babylon and the promise of tomorrow. The music gave us the power to push back and fight for our space free of speed, noise, and fear. The music called itself jungle. IT WAS JUNGLE THAT CHANGED IT ALL.

Day and night, we played the records. We let the sounds that flowed from the needle of our old Tech 1200 wash over us. Finding a safe space outside of the droning monoculture, we were able to rest in the jungle. With each revolution, we grew more brave as the records sang directly into our hearts and minds. Pretty soon, we no longer felt the vibrations of the monoculture of the surface on the floorboard above. It was a special moment when we all placed our hands on the boards and didn’t feel the unique vibration signature of the spectral cloud. We had replaced it with a rhythm of our own–with the Jungle Rhythm. We found a way out of our nightmare, and wanted to reach out to the members of our Columbus community that helped deliver us from the menace of the cloud; the Labelless Records Crew.  We sent the labelless e-mail address a string of questions to learn more about the music they release in Columbus and its power for our community. Late one night, we received a powerful, inspiring transmission back from them. The answers taught us about jungle music, the labelless records ethos, and the power of vinyl. It spoke of the history of the label runners, their ties to the music, and its importance for Columbus.  I wanted to share this transmission in the hopes that these ideas too can help set you free from the speed, noise, and fear of the times we live in.

Interview:

Local Autonomy: How does sound and music influence the way you live and experience life?

Labelless: Music is a big center for me personally. I have been spinning jungle/ dnb since 1998 and that has encompassed half of my life now. Before I got turntables at the age of 14, I had an Aleis drum machine, a Boss Dr. Groove sequencer, a bass guitar and some foot-pedal effects… I eventually sold all of that for turntables and was forever on the path into the “dj” culture, especially Hip Hop influenced breaks and jungle primarily… Turntablism was a huge impact on me as well, and scratching became a passion I perfected for myself, and continue to push myself with up into this day. Around 2005-2006, I bought an MPC 2500 and began producing again. I haven’t looked back since. Now I own two more samplers, synths etc and try all the time to learn new methods to produce breakbeat dominated tunes ranging from hiphop, triphop/downtempo, jungle, dnb, hardcore breaks etc…. Music is very much a part of me, as well as my lovely fiancee and label mate Jah Killin, who also touches down on the production tip and has been spinning jungle/dnb for a decade plus as well. We even try to get our kids interested. Music is a core to our structure as a family.

Local Autonomy: I cannot help but be attracted to the legacy and continued relevance of jungle. Why do you think jungle is still important?

Labelless: I feel jungle is important and holds such a legacy worldwide and historically in EDM culture, because it is one of the purest forms of old school, loop oriented music. By this I refer especially to the fact it encompasses all of the same exact breaks made famous in early hiphop culture. Jungle just double times them to be faster paced, so as to be geared towards the hardcore raver heads. Therefore, I feel jungle’s affinity to hiphop culture is nearly unparalleled from one sub-genre to another. Not only all the old soul, funk, and jazz breaks made famous by hiphop, but huge amounts of riddims and vocals made big by Dancehall, Reggae, Dub etc. all are just as much a part of jungle as all other elements (and not to mention ALL the countless samples from R&B and HipHop included that jungle works in so extraordinarily well). BUT- this does not stop here, nor does it hardly even begin to elaborate either… The core behind jungle in my mind is essentially old skool UK hardcore breakbeats. This sound is what eventually emerged into Happy Hardcore / Gabber and early jungle / dnb in the early 1990’s. Without those hyper, pitched-up, female vocal tracks, the hardcore techno synth lines, and mentazm stabs, then the earliest sound of Darkside / Darkcore jungle would of never emerged (or whatever names people have referred to the earliest jungle sounds to when it was still in its prototype phases).

All of these factors combines to form the legacy that is Jungle. Because all of these forms of music touched and molded so many different people globally. And years later when they hear it all mashed so seamlessly and sporadically perfect in the form of syncopated beats and bass that is the sound of jungle, they remember that feeling they felt from the original vibes. And so the snake eats itself and the circle continues. Jungle is the natural recycling unit of ALL music! Just like hiphop and house before it.

And this is not to say jungle is reliant on other songs, and doesn’t have its slew of great and original tunes out there. On the contrary however. Because, in my opinion ALL of the best jungle tunes are original creations not reliant on a riddim or hiphop loop; just a phat chopped up break and some vision, style and precision. It is an unstoppable force and a culture that I envision will forever be followed,for I believe it produces a frequency that elevates the mind.

Logo Graf

Local Autonomy: You recently started a record label called Labelless Records devoted to jungle. What does Labelless stand for and what is your vision for the label?

Labelless: When one thinks of labels, it automatically puts a containment on a concept. To me, the jungle sound and culture is something that can never be contained. its constantly expanding, evolving, and recreating itself, synonymous with the ever changing universe. As well, Labels in society cause nothing but segregation, and to me Jungle has always stood for a unification. Its one of the only Genres that call the people who represent themselves in the jungle culture as “Junglists”…for example, you dont see people who rep house music call themselves “housers”…or trance ,trancers…lol… but junglists transcend from a ‘certain sound’ into a way of thinking…. So, in a way, my concept of a music label for the coveted jungle sound and culture surpasses that of just a music ‘label’- but a statement that it needs no label– it grows wild and roughly unconfined just like the depths of any natural jungle…

Labelless doesn’t necessarily stand for anything in the literal sense; it’s not even a legitimate word to be honest. It is a name I have been thinking up for quite some years, and it just sounded very catchy as a label name so it stuck. And after Jah started making all her designs that were so phat, I def had to keep with the name! Because, I know I couldn’t do the caliber of artwork she does, and her designs and creative ideas were so sound and cohesive with the concept of the all jungle label I was envisioning, that the name Labelless just fit. The anonymity of the things I liked about jungle music were all present in her designs, and more things I hadn’t even thought about, that the word Labelless really fit that meaning for jungle music as a whole in my mind. Then, she just went with it and like 20 different designs just poured out of her photoshop files and I gave all creative control of the labels designs up to her. Now I just sort of look over them and give any general ideas I may think of at that time. So, really it all came together like Voltron or something.. Haha, my Wu-Tang joke.. But Labelless is ultimately designed as a label to help ANYONE who makes dope jungle beats get heard. If you make phat jungle tunes that deserve to be on wax, then I would def be interested to hear that music. So, if an artist were to be “label-less”, per say, in the terms that they had good jungle music with seemingly no outlet for it to be distributed, then I suppose that would serve as a good meaning for the word!

Local Autonomy: Though vinyl has enjoyed a little bit of a resurgence of late, it seems that so much of music sales have gone digital. Why did you want your releases only pressed on vinyl?

Labelless: Labelless is a means for all the dope producers of jungle music to get heard and to have their music documented in the proper format. To me that is vinyl format. Music, good music anyhow, should always be cataloged and saved on shelves like books are in a library. Musical history owes a lot to the vinyl record. So, I feel jungle should never go away from that format, as that was its birth format and what made it nostalgic and appealing to begin with.
Back in the day, a dj was a labels proper outlet for the music to be heard. And djs back in the day were not a dime a dozen like they are today. I feel the digital era really opened the door for just anyone to be a “dj” (and in return it now also seems that most “dj”s nowadays have never touched vinyl to mix it, thus not technically being a Disc Jockey as the term DJ states). Therefore, labels that once ran the industry go defunct. It’s a shame in my opinion, as I owe much of my youth and happiness to jungle / drum and bass music; vinyl especially. In light of all that had came before me, and the similar path I was beginning to tread, I wanted to do it right and proper like all the great jungle labels of the golden era, so I had to keep Labelless all vinyl and no digital. For if no real definitive reason but nostalgia and respect for my cultures roots. I don’t verge towards vinyl because I feel this “outdated” vibe about it nowadays is catchy, more so, because I feel the best sound quality to be heard is on a vinyl record. It cannot be duplicated in my opinion, and many music connoisseurs feel the same in regards to this. Of course formats like DAT, reel-to-reel tape recorders, and being heard straight from the source equipment are both formats that parallel, and even excel vinyl a bit in terms of sound quality and that warm, analog feel; yet, those formats are not accessible by everyone and quite expensive. Lastly, and most importantly for this question, I am just here doing this with Labelless to prove that vinyl is important for jungle, and all dance music for that matter. Even if it falls on deaf ears.

Local Autonomy:Your label has been going for some time now. What has the experience been like? Do you have any favorite moments?

Labelless: Wow. Great question. So many different experiences and answers to give. Where to begin? Firstly, being able to get into contact and personally meeting some of the artists featured has been an experience in itself. That to me is one of the most satisfying feelings. I realize everyone is a person just the same as anyone else, but to be understood and even feel akin to some of these guys, people I have personally looked up to on a musical front, is a feeling of self-assurance that what i am doing is being done correctly, and how it is expected to be done. To a big degree I am certain there is much to be learned still as is a trait with any business, yet I still feel that my concept and dream for this music is also the same feeling, even up to the dudes who really run this scene with the music they are making. A big experience that stemmed from these contacts with certain artists was a trip that Jah Killin and I took to Toronto to meet up with sixteenarmedjack/16AJ to celebrate he and I’s birthdays, and all 3 of us played a show as well. It was a really fun trip and he took us in as fam and cooked for us, and showed us a nice time altogether. Big up Odie, one love bro. ;) Also a big shout out to all the artists I’ve met / talked with / become friends with along the way: Bay B Kane, Default, Dub-Liner, Nickynutz, Dj L.A.B. and Junglord all you guys are my homies for sure. More shouts to the boys of Tactical Aspect, Vinny (Pastaman) @ Satta, Warped Dynamics/ Beat Lab Recs., Vocoda, RickyForce, and all others that I have crossed paths or talked with.

Another moment that has stood out among it all is just before everything was produced onto vinyl I had contacted one of my favorite mastering engineers and made my order. A few days later he personally called my telephone and we had a talk for quite a bit and for me it was like meeting/ talking to a rock star to a degree. He said he was interested in the label and thought the direction and the music involved was quite intriguing to him as he has mastered for the jungle/dnb culture since it has been mastered for vinyl. Those were definitely words of encouragement for the momentum of the label. It has really shaped the way I will approach getting my music manufactured. I will never cut corners, and will always opt for the quality over the quantity philosophy. Especially in terms of mastering.

And to add to this phone call experiences as well, I literally today, was just called by the new engineer whom I am a HUGE fan of his jungle work he used to do in the early nineties under some of the guises such as Intense & Babylon Timewarp. His wife and he run the new mastering studio 1087, and both say they are really interested and happy to hear the music on Labelless I just had mastered there. They called me personally to talk over a few details as well as let me know what they thought etc of the label. It is a great feeling to be reached out to in such ways by people that one admires so much. So i had to let it be known how much of a HUGE fan of his I am. For all others looking for vinyl mastering needs 1087 is a great place to start your search.

More experiences definitely include all the support through bookings, record sales, distribution companies , and especially all the positive feedback from an otherwise unknown fan base. And for that we thank all those people immensely, as they are on a worldwide front, and that means a lot in terms of why Jah & I want to pursue this. In my opinion without the worldwide jungle massive’s approval, interest and support, then a meaning of something like Labelless Records to the jungle community would be moot. That acceptance is key and I feel a sense of pride in knowing that. I am definitely a Junglist for life.

And as I mentioned before, the contacts made between the artists, to the supportive junglist massive as a whole, are all the defining moments as well as the continuing momentum to pursue this endeavor. But the people I have came up with in Columbus are who have intrigued me to go this far in the first place. 614 MASSIVE, we all have the same strive and go for the same feel. I appreciate that; and Columbus has an extraordinary underground scene. Its vibrant, has an extensive history, and tons of talented people within it. I say that humbly and with awe for the city that has bred me. Dj’s like Verge, Caedo, Hawstyle, Shinma, Arkova, Carma, Alina, Gl!tch, Aria, Titonton, Monochrome , Konkey Dong, R-Type, my old school retiree partner ADizzle my nizzle ;) You helped me learn the scratch tactics for sure bro :), Drastic, Jeff Trasin, John Hammond, and Cliff LeFevre of TGP, Jed, KGB, Baynes, Revolver (or just old school Jimmy Gates as I recall it!!!), Shapeshifter/ Wraith/ or Mister Shifter you still killin it Jack, Rumble, Spastik, What the Bleep , foi oi oi, ALL the mid-late 90’s DNB / house party kids of the ‘BUS, that shit was unforgettable and will never be the same…. Be thankful we were there for it all. Fidgit, Cathexis, Andrew, Brian and the rest of the URU kids, you all keep a constant going, that is quality in its most underground sense. And all others in my hometown, Big up and keep it going for sure! 9Star & DX3 you two gave me and my homies our first taste of playing underground parties, as well as the rest of the Malfunction crew Ryan & Rory. Khaki and Sunnydaze @ All City Beats, you guys were the very first people to book me for an actual show / club event in Columbus and support me as resident for your weekly. And you also paid me for these gigs!!! Every time! In either merchandise from the record store or cash… great way to make the proper impression on how a performing dj should be treated. Dingo 8 & Aurora as well with the Restart night that has been on for a grip. And last but certainly not least… my lovely Jah Killin, I absolutely love rockin’ the decks with you at the shows, clubs, and home especially. I admire you infinitely and am beyond lucky to have you beside me.

Local Autonomy: It seems to me that having local record labels like yours is really important for our scene. What do you think your record label adds to our community?

Labelless: I suppose I am not sure what a record label adds to my community here in Columbus, Ohio. Labelless is certainly not the first or only vinyl jungle label to emerge from Columbus. First on the vinyl label front was the label 21/22 Corp. which had its first two releases in 1994 by Fuzzy Logic aka Monochrome from Columbus and part of the original CBUS raver crew, ELEMENTAL. Both releases were all jungle and the label later verged towards minimal techno, house, acid sounds. Then, for several years local DNB/Jungle – dj’s / producers, Aria & Makku-Da-Kutta operated Clandestine Audio Agents Records with 3 or 4 vinyl releases still available. All productions were by them, which is stellar in my opinion and deserves all sorts of recognition. This was nearly a decade ago. Random Movement is also from Columbus, and as a producer he is pretty huge in the liquid DNB scene worldwide, with releases on a ton of different labels. Also, around the same time as I began with Labelless in late 2011, early 2012, another local vinyl jungle label was starting called Dublinquents, which is operated/owned by local junglist, and a personal friend of mine, Arkova. I think he has an outstanding eye and ear for quality so I am a huge fan and supporter of all that Rick is currently doing! Big up Arkova!!!

As for Labelless’s impact locally, I would really have to say ask the general 614 public, especially the junglists of CBUS, I can only judge myself on how I am judged by my peers. As for the importance of Labelless to our scene as a whole, in terms of worldwide jungle music, then I sincerely hope the Labelless message has been received and accepted. Because like I said, that acceptance is what this is all about. I feel that my intentions are to make people (fans, supporters, customers) satisfied, and for the artists to feel respect from the massive they represent. Its all about the massive, that is what ALL of this EDM music has been about since its inception. A collective of people unified and uplifted by a love for music. I hope all who run record labels devoted to a sound like jungle feel a similar way in the way their label is absorbed by the general public. Just bring a quality sound and approach towards the music you endorse and I feel that is the right path. Thanks also to you Local Autonomy for this chance to express the labels stance.

Also, Labelless is due to release 7 more vinyls by Christmas 2013- New Years 2014 timeframe so be on the lookout for round 2!!! We are having them mastered as we speak by a new engineer to work with the label as well!!! I am extremely excited to announce that I went to Ten Eight Seven Mastering, and am having Beau Thomas engineer these cuts!!! He is a LEGEND in the jungle scene to anyone that cares and I am greatly anticipating to hear the recorded wavs of the masters off each lacquer !!!

Lastly ,if anyone is interested in ordering vinyl we have 7 Labelless vinyls for sale and the entire catalog of Jungle Cat Recordings as well. Also available soon will be a limited edition series of slip mats for all the junglist vinyl junkies!!! There are also stickers, patches, t-shirts, and even more hoodies in the works for the future in the Labelless sales department.

E-Mail contact@labellessrecords.com for orders.

and for my personal productions & dj mixes visit my soundcloud

and for mixes and productions from Jah Killin go to her Soundcloud

Thanks to all, and big love to all the junglists and junglettes worldwide! BOH!

 Labelless Soundcloud

Labelless Bandcamp

Labelless Facebook

Kon Summer[Photos Courtesy of LeanRock]

Its been at a clear and present DEFCON 5 status in the Loc Aut offices here for the last month since I emerged from my hiatus! The scene has been bumping with a diversity of sounds that would make anyone proud to call this city their home. ( I don’t care what all you haters say about Columbus, you should be proud of this city.)  I have been pouring my thoughts down on this page just trying to capture something of my excitement I feel of being part of our community. This weekend is no exception.  Not only do we got a open format noise, techno, experimental show, but DJ Kon is coming through with Jason Allen [Squared] to play the 2 year anniversary of Musicalityat Double Happiness tomorrow Friday, September 26. [Event Details HERE]

What? You haven’t heard of Kon. Well, you best do some digging to update yourself on who this artist is. [Good places to start are his interviews with Resident Advisor & LeanRock.] He is a one of those rare renaissance artists that has spent time building his skills writing, composing, dancing, graffiti writing, digging, and DJing. There are few cats that I know that have developed such a broad array of means of communicating and learning about music, art, and history. The only way I can describe him to folks is that he is dangerous. He is someone who will defy all means of placing him in a box. he understands what the real is and doesn’t deviate from this path. He doesn’t get bogged down in genre. He doesn’t play that game. Like any artists that is conversant in the vocabularies of sound, he spins what he feels. He spins the truth. He spins a historical tapestry that weaves a thread of emotion and soul through the past and present showing the interconnections of all our efforts to express ourselves through music. He spins up, down, around, and in back of all definitions you had for his art. This is why he is dangerous. He breaks down barriers. He breaks down our mental crutches that prevent us from communing with the sound and soul of the music. He comes to us as a humble, wise artist that is trying to share a message with us. Will we open ourselves up to what he wants to teach us?

I hope you do. You can catch him at Double Happiness with Jason Allen and the Musicality crew of Dedikate, Trueskills, and Craig Huckaby this Friday [Yes, that is tomorrow]. In the mean time, check out an example of his mix work and read the interview he was kind enough to do with me.

Mix Work:

Interview:

Local Autonomy: You have been involved with spinning, collecting, and producing music for 20-30 years. What does music and sound more broadly mean to the way you live and experience life?

Kon: Music is emotion manifested through sound, I am.. like many others a sponge. It chose me.

Local Autonomy: I am deeply interested in the history of music, and the role DJs and producers played as messengers or teachers. So you can imagine I was amp’d when I happened upon your interview with Lean and you said, “We are messengers, period.” What messages are you trying to pass on to people with your art?

Kon: Well, I am known to have some rather loud opinions.. and can be very outspoken, certainly passionate for sure. That said I am a student 1st, always learning. My brain is saturated with music and sounds, titles, pictures and years. Basically… if what I play or make resonates with people… cool, get on this ride with me, my story, my view, it consists of many styles, many sounds and I would hope at the very least brings other open minded, like minded folks together, if not thats cool too.. the door is open, you always have a choice.

Kon in the stacks[Photo Courtesy of LeanRock]

Local Autonomy: You have spent a lot of time digging through bins for records. I too really love just clearing my head and taking a walk through the bins to see where they take me. What have you learned about music and yourself taking the time to look through crates of vinyl?

Kon: As for hitting spots for records, I’ve learned to always eat and be on a full stomach, have a bottle of water with you, a portable is a plus…. and never judge a record by its cover. As for the music itself, its all about mood. Some records I got 20 years ago hit me in a different way now, that song I liked most may not even be my go to jam on that record anymore.

Local Autonomy: Listening to your productions, mixes, and edits, it is obvious that you are able to integrate the musical vocabularies of so many forms of music into your work. What role do you think learning and understanding the music vocabularies of disco, soul, funk, hip hop, and house has had in how you approach DJ’ing and producing?

Kon: Luckily for me I am a 70s baby. The singer song writer era. Politically charged times and the music showed us that. I was exposed to a vast amount of genres of music as a boy. Rock, pop, r&b, soul, new wave, punk… I always found authenticity within every one of those genres, be it the 1st B-52s, The Pretenders, Tom Petty, Prince, Cameo, Souxie & The Banshees, The Clash, Chic, Stevie, etc, etc.
Disco came to be popular in the late 70s and early 80s. Most times I never fit in with the rest of the kids as they were into things for their own age so to speak. I was hanging out with adults and my musical palette was a direct reflection of it.
As for hip hop tho….it showed me how to put it all together, make sense of it all.
The 1st rap records are disco records. The 80s came and the advent of sampling came into play. Things have never been the same. I combine all that I have soaked up, and I dunno… I guess it just it what it is. No rules, and if there are any break them.

Kon Tag[Photos Courtesy of LeanRock]

Kon on Twitter

Kon Blog

Kon Mixwork on Soul Clap

Blue Fallen

[Photo by Dezi Magby]

There is something magical about going to see live music. There is a buzz in the air and a sort of excitement for what is to come. Whether I was going to see a rock, punk, experimental, jazz, or dance music show, I still felt that same excitement. That feeling was always waiting for me as the date of the show came closer. I would sit throughout the week and daydream about what I would hear, what the crowd would be like, and what I would learn about myself and the world around me by going to the show. This excitement became in those moments a close friend that I came to know well. It amplified and rendered meaningful my love of live music.

The shows I have always been most excited about and learned the most from are those where improvised instrumentation is going to occur. I spent a good part of my teenage years following and listening to bands that fused jazz, progressive rock, dub, hip hop, and psychedelia into dynamic live and studio performances. When experiencing this music live, I often had no idea where it would go and what boundaries would be crossed. This performances became a space where genre’s became nothing but toolboxes to tell stories and to take the listener on a journey. I gravitated toward dance music, because it has much those same qualities.

Much like free jazz, experimental, or “fusion” music of different types, I feel dance music performances have the power to re-write the vocabularies of genres. The vocabularies of House, Techno, Ambient, Trip Hop, Jungle, Drum & Bass, Dubstep, Glitch, IDM, Industrial, and Hardcore were made by people to render that section of the musical universe knowable and understandable. These genre are not mythical giants in far away dark mountains. We do not need to make offerings before the genre gods. Genre’s are false idols. They are sets of rules and norms we forgot we created to streamline listening and creating. Dance music performers that recognize this are able to wield these vocabularies as a starting point for crafting their own voice. They see these vocabularies not as a box they have to fit themselves in, but as the blueprint for breaking down the box and fashioning their own house out of it.  In such instances, records and a mixer or a live P.A. set up become the instruments through which we advance our dance music culture and express what it means to be a living, breathing artist in Columbus.

I feel the live P.A. work of THE FALLEN (And FBK & Plural Individually) has attained this level of genre bending and subversion. When Plural & FBK started playing sets of fully improvised material about a year and half ago, I really did not know what to expect. I came to understand the only way to approach these performances was to expect the unexpected. Every time I saw them play live, all my preconceptions of what I thought would happen were broken. I was slapped across the head, knocked on my face, and then picked up again by the beat.  Little prepared me for when FBK used a clandestine recording of a friend discussing women earlier in the day as a perfect vocal sample to accompany a performance of dark, funky dance music (WHILE THE FRIEND WAS IN THE ROOM). I was also not ready to see Plural craft and unleash crystalline gems of pulsing, beeping techno in just a few moments; his creations materializing out of the ether as sophisticated pieces of some futuristic dance floor armory.

Fallen at blur

My favorite moment of seeing them live was when they played together at my BLUR show last November. For 45 minutes, they took us down a cascading staircase into the heart of the molten core of their sound universe. They poured over their instruments creating walls of sound that flowed out of the speakers as hot, molten magma. It was like we were watching them crafting their own tectonic plates of sound that would be used as the crust of a sound world upon which we would all stand. The old brick walls of that former factory space melted away, and we were left exposed in the cavernous expanse of sound; standing on the ground that had been crafting for us.  We truly were on some sort of frontier.

In this moment, THE FALLEN had subverted the rules of genre and created music that told a story rather than fulfilled a checklist. In this moment, THE FALLEN crafted their own code and shared it with us as a cipher to work through the morass of commodified sounds pushed on us everyday. In this moment, THE FALLEN found those mythical genre giants cowering together out in those dark mountains and told them that they have their own way of creating sound and won’t be needing their services any longer. In this moment, THE FALLEN set out on their own, without the comfort of the crowd, to burrow deeper into their own sound world to tweak the tectonic plates of a sound universe of their own making.

Luckily, they will be playing live again next Friday as THE FALLEN at Future Maudit at Cafe Burboun Street. You can get more details about that event HERE and read about one of the other performers Tyrant Manque in an interview I posted up last week HEREFor now, enjoy the interview I did with FBK & Plural, as they discuss broadly what lived improvised sound means to them and why they think it is important for people in our community to appreciate the Live P.A. performance.

Fallen

Interview:

Local Autonomy: Both of you have been playing live P.A. sets individually and together as The Fallen around the city for the last year and half. What is it about performing live that you both enjoy so much?

FBK: I always enjoyed playing live because of the serious disaster that can happen when everything doesn’t go as planned. There is a thrill that cannot be replaced when ANYTHING can happen. I’ve spent 25 years on stage now, and the randomness, fear, excitement and overwhelming joy cannot be replaced. DJing is similar for both me and James (only because we’re both risk takers whilst playing with records)…but playing live adds in so many elements that something can go wrong in a near instant.
If I knew that our live set would sound exactly a certain way, I don’t think I’d have any fun.

Plural: Performing live is fun because you have that element of disaster that could happen. You could loose sync or a piece of equipment could freeze up.(Just to name a few things that could go wrong) I have to say Kevin and I are quiet the risk takers even when we DJ. Everything relies on timing as well so we have to pay attention when things are going on because one mistake equals off time and a clashing of sounds we don’t want to hear. We don’t really practice much either which my shock some people, we go on pure feeling. So yes usually when you hear us and your like damn thats dope! We are right there thinking the same thing lol.

Local Autonomy: How does playing live differ from DJ’ing? Are there unique challenges and rewards that come with making stuff up on the fly?

FBK: When I play records (or CD, Mp3s, Edison Cylinders…whatever)…there’s far too often a knowledge that I have built over time-for instance, beatmatching as a skill is now like a base element. I know most of my music inside and out (only because I make it), my memory of tracks borders sometimes on obsession. I know while playing music for a crowd (pre-recorded music mind you) what is going to happen (though I pick my tracks at random, go into sets without any plan what so ever, and barely ever ‘organize’ my music…this keeps me interested in what I’m doing).
Live performances are more fun because…oddly, I do LESS planning for live shows than anything else. I love to create on-the-fly, working without a net on a tightrope…it’s an old analogy, but it works here. James and I rarely practice-we’ll talk about what equipment we’ll use, talk about routing, setup, things we’d like to hear…but we don’t usually do a ton of ‘run-through’ sessions or ‘practice because this one’s important’ (shit, they are ALL important!!!!)
Every show we do is different. The week or two before, I usually figure out what 3-6 preconceived things I’ll do…but I leave myself so much room for add-ons later. The last show we did @ Social room? We improvised the last hour or so…and it was the best part of the show!

Plural: Djing is different than Live because when your DJing you are not creating anything new, these are prerecorded tracks you are playing with and you are mixing them an a way to make it continuous. While as Live you are making the tracks right then and there tweaking and freaking the whole sound at your command. They are all new material that know one has heard yet until that moment.

Local Autonomy: How does playing together live as the fallen change the dynamic of your live performances from when you play solo?

FBK: James and I have some common ground, but we go about doing music rather differently…we both have parts of music production that we think one is better at in some way shape or form (actually, I take that back-I suck at most parts of this production thing…I’m the extra set of hands;)
Ok…seriously? If you mix a Plural track and an FBK track together-they tend to fill in the spaces that one leaves by itself. That’s the reason for The Fallen.

Plural: When we perform as The Fallen you are getting basically Plural and FBK just Meshed together our tracks fit so well together its weird, but it works.

Local Autonomy: There is a rich history of people playing live P.A. sets in dance music. Why do each of you think its important for people in our community to consider playing live themselves or appreciate those who do?

FBK: (Soapbox and rant time): For this crowd now, who are getting into this music mostly from being deluged by the glossy, polished giant marketing game called EDM (WHICH IS A TERM I FU#K!NG DESPISE)…There is a gap in the understanding of how this music not only came to be, but what the process of creating this music we love REALLY is. I have been asked several times about a DJ and his music…and many believe that we all just buy or steal music from somewhere and then bring out a computer and the computer does all the ‘hard work’ (unless there are records-then the DJ is ‘doing something’)…because many fans of this ‘new’ (old) form of music come from watching traditional instruments being played (rock, country, folk, what have you), there is a disconnect between what is REALLY happening with a DJ set, and what constitutes a LIVE PERFORMANCE.
Many have been tricked into believing that there is no difference, and that electronic music should be free (because the DJs and Producers don’t have to pay for the music, buy guitar strings or amplifiers, y’know…they just all have computers and the computer just creates what they want to play-because internet!)
Part of it is a sign of the times. Technology is FANTASTIC and it allows me to do things that I’d never be able to do when I had my old studio (which took up a 25 X 25 room and was filled with literally 1 mile of cable). My laptop has the ability to replicate all of that gear times two now with only two cables or so being needed.
I say all of that to explain this: A live performance should, and I say SHOULD, be an experience that isn’t pre-recorded, pre-determined or just mailed in by someone who spends the entire set looking at his computer and simultaneously checking their Facebook account. The crowd should be able to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ the process, warts and all. This to me means allowing for mistakes. I believe that so many people now hear live performance and expect that they’ll hear something akin to everything they’ve heard before, performed by someone else. That’s not what you’ll get with FBK, Plural or The Fallen. If we don’t know ‘exactly’ what it’s going to sound like…you shouldn’t either.
Last point and I’ll end my rant…To all the crowds and fans of dance music in Columbus-IF YOU WANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT-DEMAND DIFFERENT! If you keep showing up to the same event with the same 4 people each and every time, the promoter has no need to change what he’s doing. McDonald’s doesn’t change the Big Mac for this very same reason. If you continue to go out and hear the same music over and over, let the same rotation of DJs occur and do the very same thing-you’ll get no more than that. Comfort is BORING. SAFETY IS BORING. Adventure awaits…but you have to find the adventurous ones-VOTE WITH YOUR FEET AND YOUR WALLET. If you want bigger acts to come to town, PAY FOR THEM WHEN THEY COME! If you want different DJs to play, TAKE A RISK AND SPEND $5-10 on seeing something DIFFERENT!
Most of you reading this will pay $20 to go to a movie based on a TV show that you watched as a kid, or a rehashed version of a movie that was done a decade earlier….yet you’ll not spend even $5 to see a DJ or performer who comes from 3 hours away to play in our fine city. It wasn’t always like this-Many of the ‘old guard’ remember a time when there were events every weekend filled with local talent playing alongside international DJs and producers-some who are legendary now. It can happen, but the CROWD has to support it! If not, you’ll never see anything but locals on the stages, playing the same things you heard them play a month or a week before. SHAKE THINGS UP FOR FUCK’S SAKE!!!!!

Plural:Good question,There are people out there like ourselves who would rather be the reason people have music to play that just be the DJ whos playing these tracks. Lets face it anyone can DJ but not everyone has the creativity or the push to make tracks. So yes I think there should be a level of appreciation that should go out to the people that make records and mp3s.You know? Without the producers making the music there would be no DJ.

Local Autonomy: Thinking broadly to the history of music, do you see your live performances as connected to the work of improvising jazz, blues, noise, or rock musicians?

FBK: Live performances are a bridge to understanding that this music does NOT exist in a vacuum. Neither does DJing…but during a live show, everything you’re hearing isn’t something that you can just buy or download on an mp3-it’s something much more organic-and it’s happening in front of you! It’s like going to see a Jazz concert in this way: You may even know the song the band is playing, but every night it sounds different. Live performances should be the same way…they aren’t always-but for us? They are!
Many people speak ill of the Greatful Dead (because of their fans?)…As musicians, they were all very gifted and talented. Dance music producers broadly have some of the same talents as well…some are great drum programmers, some create great atmospheres with samples, some are great at composition and structure. Doing anything that is free-form is a nod to all styles of performed music…not just jazz, rock, blues or noise. Dance music (Disco) was played on instruments at one time by groups of people (like 16 people on one stage!)…every part of the performance was organic in this way..because each had an independent mind and could find new ways to express themselves. This tradition is still around even in the computer age-you just have to realize the computer is an instrument if used correctly-it’s not just a crutch.
Recently, both of us have been getting away from the computer and beginning to focus on ‘hardware’ or ‘things outside of the box’…and the results have been fantastic. We sound different and we’re even MORE engaged than we were before. There’s no one way. And doing a Live PA is far more interesting when you have several boxes to control…with two hands…we’re both going to be busy as hell on Sept. 27th…

Plural: My homie FBK said it all in his rant at the end of his interview.Thats just how we see it read it and learn.

THE FALLEN

As I sat staring out my opened window and the cooler air brushed past me, I felt the urge to listen to something different. I have been listening to house non-stop for the last 3 months. I really love house music. I love the history & resistance to mainstream norms. I love the inclusion of diverse groups of people. I love the optimism of house music. However, as I prepared myself for the changing of the seasons, I felt the urge to lose myself in a soundscape much less structured by beats or by propulsive rhythm. I wanted something that would accompany my meandering journey back out to the fringes of our knob turning community. Yet, its not like going out to the fringes where the drone, noise, and experimental folks often reside marks a distinct departure from where I have been. I am still moving in a circuitous route around the collective soul of our community. I am just circling back again to a place I was some 6-7 months ago in the hopes that I can find how these musicians contribute to that energetic, optimistic core of values and motivations that makes our attempts to build a common community across diverse practices of music creation meaningful.

One group of people that I have never discussed in this local autonomy project, but is quickly becoming essential to the story of Columbus Dance/Electronic music today is a group of people centered around Cafe Bourbon Street. This summit street bar is more known for being a node in punk, garage rock or metal circles, but has quickly become one of the places that people go to hear noise, industrial, techno, and experimental electronic sounds. People like Kevin Failure and Tyrant Manque have been throwing the type of open form shows that don’t consider it is a problem to present any of the above-mentioned genre labels together. They think of this clash of sounds as an opportunity for creative people to come together to find new ways of making sound. This ethos that underlies their approach is the same type of inclusivity and genre breaking I was hoping to achieve with the BLUR show I threw last November. As a result, when I heard what they were doing, I knew I needed to lend a hand to share with people what they were doing. I will be doing a string of posts with these individuals in the lead up their show on September 27, which includes The Fallen, Mike Shiflet, Circuitry Room, Mancontrol, & Tyrant Manque [Event Details HERE].

First up on the decks, I wanted to share an interview I did with Tyrant Manque some time ago about the Snow Clone Cassette Tape Label that he runs. As it always happens, I just kinda fell into the Snow Clone label when looking at the cassette tape selection at Lost Weekend Records. I was very interested in our city’s history in cassette culture at the time and the people that were still running cassette labels in the city. I had been spending a lot of time with Jeff Central of Circuitry Room learning about our city’s role in the mail art/cassette culture movement. Due to this, I was gobbling up cassettes like crazy (For more on this community watch the excellent documentary Grindstone Redux or Read his Interview HERE). It was in this context that I happened upon a stash of Snow Clone Tapes next to some new copies of Jeff Central’s Stimulus & Response III compilation. There were a variety of tapes to choose from, but one really caught my eye. It was a quite striking fingerprint-like print in white and black with orange accent lines. On the side of the clear cassette case it said, “Outer Spacist.” I am a pretty curious person, so after hearing from the owner of Lost Weekend that it was a local label I bought it and took it home.

outerspacistcover

As this slice of up-beat Psychedelic rock pop spun around my tape deck, I was immediately impressed by the release. However, more importantly, I was shocked at the serendipitious events that brought me to a place to get to experience this wonderful release. How many people pass by counters at record stores around our city unaware of these wonderful tapes from a local record label? How many people are willing in this day and age to take a chance based on the art and learning its a product of our community? How was it that I had just had all these conversations about cassette culture and now was sitting at this counter looking at these releases? It all just seemed too much to weave through. These big questions hung over my head as the cassette played and a voice from the tape yelled out, “OUTER SPACE IS THE ONLY PLACE TO BE.” Yes, I agreed. Being out on the fringe and taking chances is the only place to be even if not many people are out there with us.

[Sample from Outer Spacist Record]

Isn’t that what unites us all in our community at some level? Isn’t that the formative moment we all share when we took our first steps toward understanding the SOUL of this community we are all a part of? We took a chance and went out to the fringes of sound because we thought there was something there. We felt almost instinctively that there was something to learn or something to experience with these sounds that we couldn’t quite put a finger on. Whether we took our first chances on music loosely defined as house, punk, techno, jungle, post-rock, drum & bass, noise, experimental, dubstep or ambient music, the fact still remains that the minute we started to trust our gut and started walking down a different path than the majority of society we were all walking together. We knew that experimentation, the ripping down of barriers of genre, class, race, gender, sexuality, religion, and nationality, and curiosity were more important than being force fed culture. It was in those formative moments that our place in our communities collective soul began to take root and it is in those moments of discovery where our love of our community is renewed. Tyrant Manque’s Snow Clone Tapes fosters this love of discovery and offers us an opportunity to relish in the breaking down of the boundaries of electronic music to create a more unified culture outside of genre. The work the label releases helps us remember these essential points about how we all are iconoclasts in some ways and seek to experiment with our lives to learn about who we are. I hope you take the opportunity to read his words. They offer a wonderful glipmse into the label and Tyrant Manque’s music history.

Interview:

Local Autonomy: What does music and sound more broadly mean to the way you live and experience life?

Snow Clone: I’ve always been very drawn to music and have a pretty natural hand with it, so it’s a pretty integrated part of my life. Playing guitar is a sort of meditative thing for me, and I’ve always practised pretty regularly. Not doing like scales and stuff, just learning songs I like and little songs I come up with. It’s not the same as writing songs purposefully but a lot of songs I write start out that way. As a listener I like a lot of different stuff and I feel like there’s so much out there that thankfully I’ll never run out. It’s great too, the way that these various obsessions mark time, certain songs are like emotional reservoirs for all yr past lives and stuff. Playing music is a big means of socializing for me too, as I am a rather bookish sort in general. Not that all of my friends are music people or anything, but usually shows and stuff are when I’m “going out”.

LA: How did you get your start creating music and how did you start experimenting with synthesized sound?
SC: Both my parents play music, so instruments were always laying around the house, which was nice because I never had to beg my parents to buy me a guitar or anything so it was very casual. I never had lessons or anything, my dad would show me stuff and we would jam on “Dear Mr. Fantasy” or whatever. We also had a piano which, though I still don’t technically know how to play one, let me figure out how some stuff works musically without being directly related to guitar. I bought a 4 track in high school and when I left for college, I had that and a guitar and my mom’s old Casio keyboard and just started tinkering with those things, messing around with direct guitar sounds and filters on the keyboard and general aimless experiments: What does a piano sound like through a chorus pedal? Can you use a blown out 4 track as a distortion pedal? stuff like that.

LA: We had a wonderful talk about the role of “honesty” in music and art more generally. Why do you think honesty is important for music today?
SC: I think honesty in life in general is important. I think the issue gets confused with regards to the arts with the related issue of “authenticity”, which I have very little truck with. There is pretence inherent in any art form, and authenticity hawks I see as people who gripe about not being sufficiently mystified by something or other and thus, let down I guess? In any event, authenticity is a retrofit classification, related to perception or criticism and so very subjective. Honesty, on the other hand, I feel is about what goes into a work, the attempt to communicate or to create music suited to it’s purpose. I mean, who would argue that Weird Al should be taken seriously? It doesn’t invalidate what he does, really, because it’s a joke. Some people get stuck in their little genre ghettos this way too, can’t take anything seriously except “punk” or whatever. I guess what I’m getting at is that I don’t think honesty is as rare a commodity as some people make it out to be in the arts. In general it might be a little more scarce, that’s a whole other issue, but in the arts I think it’s really an issue for people making things, to be self critical enough to keep yrself honest in what yr doing.

LA: What is the back story of the label. How did it start? What benefits did starting your own label afford you and your friends as musicians in Columbus?
SC: I started recording keyboard experiments very crudely on a couple component tape decks, and when I had compiled some of the more interesting stuff to a tape, I just started dubbing them off on those same decks, as that was really the only way for that music to exist, before I figured out how to do a kind of adapted live set. I kept at it that same way, accumulated more tape decks and, since I had the means it just made sense to do tapes for other people too. Of course most of the releases are made by friends of mine, and generally a batch of tapes coincides with my finishing a new tape myself, but I’m game for releasing anything I like. Whatever helps use up that bulk order of cassette tapes.

LA: I found the practice of finding and listening to your label’s tapes as incredibly meaningful to my experience of music. What role do you think physical objects play in our increasingly digitized world?
SC: I think that only things can have a magical dimension, sort of rooted in chance, in an encounter. Too much context can kill that, which is why I skew toward the obtuse rather than the over-promoted. I also have no distinct talent for self promotion, so I’d rather let the music speak for itself, which is not, as I gather, how the internet works.

LA: We both share an interest in big ideas and trying to understand different ways of looking at the world. What role do the philosophical beliefs you hold about life/reality play in your creative process and creation of art?
SC: My ideas tend to permeate my music, both in subject matter and in a sense in presentation, but I don’t observe a strict separation of life and art and philosophy, or an emphasis on any one of these, like putting certain ideas in songs as a political thing or having a specific approach to creating music, or only doing certain types of shows, but in how all these things inform and enrich one another. There is a definite political aspect to aesthetics, but just as important, especially any more, is the very definite aesthetic aspects of the political, so one could easily argue that good taste could rapidly be becoming a survival instinct. If you understand how the magic that helps works, it provides insight into the magic that hurts.

In the Booth

[Photo Courtesy of Carlos Bell Photography]

Introduction:

We are lucky to have Atlanta based DJ, producer, ndatl label label founder Kai Alcé coming to Columbus to perform this Friday (8/2) at Big Bar alongside many other amazing artists (Event details HERE). Alcé has been in the thick of U.S. dance music for over twenty plus years and has used this pedigree to craft his own and Atlanta’s distinctive house sound. He has his roots sunk deep in numerous cultures and communities, as he came of age in what he termed the Golden Age of dance culture in New York, Detroit, and Chicago. Alcé talked about how he got his grassroots education in sound immersing himself in the dance cultures of these cities in a recent interview with Juno: “Well in New York I grew up in the midst of disco and the emergence of hip-hop, then in my pre-teen years I moved to Detroit and got into the high school party scene. I linked with Chez Damier, we were hangin’ out at the KMS/Transmat/Metroplex building and eventually worked at the Music Institute. I was also travelling back to New York and also checking out Chicago, so I saw the main three breeding grounds of this sound during their golden years. I was seeing Ron Hardy in Chicago one weekend, the heading back to Detroit and checking the MI, and going to New York places like MK’s Red Zone Mars.” It is evident from this statement that Alcé got much more than lessons in dance music. He garnered a PhD in the chemistry of sound, as from an early age he was influenced to synthesize diverse musical sounds and ideas. As he traveled from city to city, his was immersed in teachings on the fundamental elements that each city drew on to create his own distinctive voice and sound. These lessons would serve him well once he moved to Atlanta, as he was able to refashion these building blocks he learned across the country to help build a community and sound that would cement Atlanta’s reputation as a house music destination.

This deep appreciation for synthesizing diverse elements into his mixing and production has never left his work. All of Alcé’s mixes, that are readily available for listening, reveal this fact . Take the mix he did for vice magazine [more mixes of his are available connected to his Juno and Little White Ear Buds interviews]:

Thirty-five minutes or so in, Alcé weaves together tracks from Detroit’s past and present by playing Rhythm is Rhythm right alongside Kyle Hall. Such programming/selection creates a rich historical conversation between two records separated by decades of time. However, rather than showing some stark juxtaposition between the two records, this programming reveals the commonalities that Hall’s music still shares with the founders of the Detroit sound. Not content to end this strain of sound exploration right then, he tops it off with a sizzling track called “On It” from his new ep World Causes [previews here]. You can feel the same energy and ethos coming out of Alcé’s track. Just like Rhythm is Rhythm and Kyle Hall, Alcé lets the track run wild in a sort of controlled creative chaos that tips his hat to Detroit, but carves out propulsive properties all its own.

On the street

[Photo Courtesy of Carlos Bell Photography]

Above the nods to Detroit, his technical chops, his musical pedigree, the real magic I find in Alcé’s music is in his belief and use of the power of music to heal and uplift people. Throughout all his mixes, there are inspiring messages to help us get over in our daily lives. Let’s be honest, life is beautiful, but the obstacles we all face can at times feel insurmountable. When I listen to Alcé’s mixes, the sun starts to crack through the clouds, and I get back some courage to take that next step to just keep going. I can take refuge in his mixes and let them fill me back up with the love and patience I need to go back out in the world and try to make a difference.  However, this isn’t just secluded to his mix work. In his productions like “feeding” or “Willow,” he has created works of art that call on us to think deeply about how we can make ourselves and other people better. What a special quality! I am truly inspired by Alcé’s emphasis on taking the power he has as an artist to share a positive message with other people seriously. I think he  really prompts us to ask a few questions to ourselves: What messages are we sharing with the world? How are we treating one another? Are we a force for peace and love in the world or are we just continuing to perpetuate cycles of fear, hate, and greed?

I think a fitting way to close this introduction is to take an excerpt of the lyrics from the closing track in his Vice mix, Romanthony’s “Hold On”:


“So your thinking that its over. You coming off another put down. Your feeling life is on your shoulders, No love around. You say your in for stormy weather. The sun ducked away behind the clouds. Can’t seem to get your thing together. Can’t get turned around. There is a reason for the madness. Someone got to tell you “It seems all hope is Gone.” There is one thing you might miss “Hold On.” You never know what’s in store for you. You never know what dreams might come true. Hold on you’ll see a brighter day. Hold on and I will show you the way. Hold On.”

Hopefully, this message helps you get through your Wednesday. Just Hold On Ya’ll help is on the way. Friday will be here soon enough and we can all convene at Big Bar and recharge together with Kai Alcé, Jay Daniel, Seth Dedikate Carter, Craig Huckaby, Toby Tope, Aaron Austen, Tony Fairchild, True Skills, George Brazil, Ginsu, Bombay, Jenny Arcade, and Fran Fiction. All the details you need are available by clicking right HERE. In the mean time, check out Alcé’s exclusive interview below.

flyer

Interview:

Local Autonomy: How does sound and music influence the way you live and experience life?

Kai Alcé: It’s probably more the other way around, my life and experiences influence my sound. Hence the name of my label NDATL which stands for New York, Detroit & Atlanta the 3 places I’ve lived (with heavy influence from Chicago as well), have curated the sounds you’ll hear from me & the label.

Local Autonomy: Your track “Feeding” has this amazing spoken word poetry in it. I love the whole thing, but especially this section:
“Who’s feeding the children? Who’s feeding them? Who’s feeding them knowledge and freedom? Feeding them. Who’s feeding them that we are a part of the whole? Feeding them. Who’s feeding them purpose? Feeding them. Who’s feeding them that revolution revolves around itself and evolution is change? Feeding them. Who’s feeding them be yourself? Feeding them. Who’s Feeding them diversity? Feeding them. Who’s feeding them faith? Feeding them. Who’s feeding them spirituality? Feeding them. Who’s feeding them differences and preferences? Feeding them. Who’s feeding them culture? Feeding them. Who’s nurturing what they begin to feed themselves? Freedom. Feeding them. Seeding them as a root of their own.”
These sorts of questions seem so important in our day and age. Do you think House music and music more broadly can provide that sort of nourishment, insight, and courage the next generation needs to survive the world we live in?

[Kai Alcé's "Feeding"]

Kai Alcé: Those great words are from Kemi Bennings a talented poet/activist here in Atlanta. Good House music by nature should make you feel better so when it’s also accompanied with inspiring lyrics it’s all the better. Something that I would like to see more of not only in dance but in commercial music in general, when you have a voice such as music you shouldn’t take that power & influence for granted.

Local Autonomy: You have been doing a lot of community building in Atlanta around house music with the House in the Park & Distinctive events and your NDATL label. In past interviews, you have discussed how it was special for you to help shape the Atlanta sound. I can only imagine how fun that was to be a part of that. What prompted you to want to help build the house music community and help shape its sound in Atlanta?

[Footage from House in the Park 7 from deephouseatl.]

Kai Alcé: It really came out of necessity, shortly after I moved to Atlanta the only two guys that were playing dance music Ron Pullman & Tedd Patterson moved away & so the an empty slot that need to be filled and so I did, & I also worked at Satellite records store for about 10 years furthering the deep sound.

Local Autonomy: In many of your interviews (Such as the ones with Juno,  We Dig and Little White Ear Buds), you discussed how vital it is for you to connect with the music you play and the crowd around you are playing for. Why is getting lost in the music and connecting with the crowd important to you when you play live?

Kai Alcé: It’s just what you’re supposed to do as DJ is to connect. U have to pay attention to the energy in the room, many DJ’s get caught up in the mix u have to be aware, one eye on your floor at all times. I usually take a stroll on dancefloor while I’m DJ’ng just to really feel what they feel.

Nob Level

[Photo Courtesy of Carlos Bell Photography]

Local Autonomy: You have been creating art with music for some time now with your DJ’ing, Producing, and community building. What do you think you have learned about living life from these artistic practices?

Kai Alcé: That nothing is given you must work for it all.

Lookout for the latest NDATL release “World Causes EP” by Kai “KZR” Alce OUT NOW!

World Causes EP

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