Before I get into what I took away from this amazing mix from Textbeak for the Our Scene | Our City | Our Sound Mix Series, I wanted to offer a few words on why it is important to look to foundational artists from the ele_mental crew and Body Release.
This post begins my in-depth exploration into the foundational members of Body Release. Looking to the members of this creative group of sound manipulators can teach us key lessons on how to push our scene to the next level, as these wide-listening artists absorbed the sonic landscape around them, chopped it, screwed it, and then spit it back out in an exciting new way. Such a creative act was not just important to Columbus, but the pushing of dance music throughout the Midwest. Thus, I feel it important to delve into their stories and listen to their mixes so that we can understand what drove them to create something new so that we too can continue to push ourselves to keep creating. I start with Textbeak, but will be providing interviews with Ed Luna, Todd Sines, Charles Noel (Archtyp), & Titonton Duvante over these next few months. But for today, lets start with Textbeak.
Textbeak was there at the beginning of everything and was a key early member of Body Release along with other musical artists Todd Sines, Charles Noel, Titonton Duvante, and Ed Luna on visuals. These guys all wanted to raise the level of dialogue in our city and advance artistic creativity as a key element to an enriching life. Though Textbeak left the group to continue exploring his darker, textured sound, it did not end his artistic journey. A quick look to his page on Discogs reveals that with his group Bath and as Textbeak he continued work on exploring the sounds he felt expressed his artistic vision. I feel he has truly come to express this sound over the past few years in a very nuanced and beautiful manner.
One look to his performance at What Next Ohio reveals this very fact. Do you remember it? I have those 45 minutes indelibly imprinted upon my brain. I am hard pressed to try and forget such a performance.Memories of that show will randomly overtake me during my day. The haunting blue lights that Textbeak was bathed in will begin to reach through my brain illuminating the darkest corners of my subconscious. Then Textbeak’s trademark genre blurring sound begins to creep in and the mixture of slowly mutating textures with pumping, pounding bass is all I can hear. This same energy is found in his “Everything is Possible” mix and if we listen closely enough we can take away two key lessons from his contribution to the Our Scene |Our City |Our Sound Mix series. Namely, Textbeak’s trademark genre-bending style can show us how expansive listening and Recycling are important practices for any artist serious about find new ways to express their sonic vision or building a scene.
Lesson: Expansive Listening & Recycling
One look to the tracklisting of this mix is bound to get confused looks from some people, as the idea of dance or electronic music is supposed to touch on certain artists or genres of music. Yet, much of the foundational tracks that led Textbeak to become a electronic music artist fall outside the “established canon” that we think of today that constitutes the artist one should listen to. Sure, Textbeak was listening to early industrial music, but he was also deeply influenced by Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, and numerous others playing with blurring the boundaries between post punk and new wave music. I am sure we all have such stories, as most artists have listened widely before they came to start creating or listening to electronic music. I think this wide listening is so important for all of us to consider, as it is this listening that allows us to understand the act of artistic creation in a deeper fashion for the artist and the listener. For one, I think wide listening across the entire spectrum of music creation allows us to see, as Textbeak always says, the natural connections between seemingly different genres of music. No doubt, such a realization allows us to move passed dogmatic adherence to any one genre to understand the benefits of all forms of dance music.
One look to electronic and dance music history shows ample examples of artists that listened to music across the spectrum of jazz, blues, soul, funk, ambient and recycled elements they found meaningful into their own work to express the sounds they heard in their head. Textbeak’s mix thus represents a map of the tracks that proved influential to the development of his toolbox of sound that he goes back to when creating. We all possess this toolbox, but are we actively drawing on it or thinking about it when creating tracks, or are we trying to create tracks within the genres already established by other scenes and cities? Are we trying to push the envelope even if people don’t get it? As listeners, are we open to tracks or parties outside the mainstream of established genres/party types of our time period, or do we disregard the different as weird or bad?
I think these questions are important because they get at key underlying values to why its important to build a scene, create music, or write. Are we doing this for the money? Are we doing this for recognition? Are we doing this for the parties? For me, I write because I believe in the power of artistic creation and improvisation. I believe in expressing and sharing my thoughts with the people around me. I also believe in our community and what we can get out of it if we try to make it better. We all create, listen, and go to shows because at the end of the day we want people to be as proud of Columbus and its dance music scene as we are. Who cares if the rest of the world ignores us. Does it really matter? Columbus dance music history attests to the fact that when we put up the middle finger and did it our own way crazy things happened. Let’s continue to embrace the guerrilla character of our resistance to the mainstream of dance music culture. Let’s push the envelope of our events and music and find a way to be better the everyone else. This doesn’t mean we can’t have crazy parties or embrace the sounds around us. Quite the contrary, I hope we can absorb all the music and parties types in scenes all over the world and find a way to chop and screw it to make our scene distinctively Columbus. I consider this an act of systemic synthesis where we can be better than everyone else because we aren’t just trying to mimic other scenes or get big for the sake of getting big. This is how all great scenes began. Yet, it all starts with our choices on what events we will put on, what music we will create, and what parties we support.
Make sure to look out on friday for an extensive interview with Textbeak that delves into all these issues much more in depth. It is a MUST READ.