Archive

Uncategorized

Post 90--Tactil Vision

I was talking to the person behind tactil vision, Stevey7, last night at a show. We were having the type of conversation that him and I usually have. One that explores the oddities of being a human being enmeshed in a society, in vast complex systems, that one got enrolled in upon birth.  I have really grown to love these random conversations I have with him.  They have given me a viewpoint into his perspective on life. Not surprisingly, him and I both seem to be observers of the world and are quite interested in paying attention to the vast amounts of data that seem to flow by everyday and how technology has changed the world we live in. These conversations have greatly enhanced my appreciation of his art and his approach to sound and visual media. I can tell his art really allows him to work out his place in these system just as much as my sociology work and this media project help me find my place.

When one sits down to take in the music and art of tactil vision, bentwithlight, or any of his other names he releases under, you are stepping into his universe, his thought process, his interrogation with sound. This is obviously true with any artist whose work you pay attention too, but with stevey7 that world you to step into has been carefully and meticulously set out for you. He has an attention to detail in his music and packaging that shows his deep engagement with the post-industrial world we live in.  As in most of his work, his recent tremors live mix features an array of his original productions that demonstrate his characteristic glitched, multi-layered sound that drives forward, sputters, and always keeps moving into the horizon like the machine-like society that we are all a part of.

TV2

One of my favorite parts of the trermors live mix is the last track “kemwar” where he allows some of the distorted, ghost-like voices that hang in the background of his tracks to come forward.  These voices speak like a choir of crisis, as the cacophony of voices lists the numerous population, political, climate, and economic problems we all face today. I really appreciate how the drum and synth play off of these vocal samples. Sometimes stevey7 allows the drums and keys to wash over the voices and obstruct them from audibility, but there are moments when the voices cry out from the track and overtake your sensory perception.  Just like in life, sometimes the crisis comes to a fever pitch and no amount of “noise” can prevent us from seeing it clearly.

TV5

This one mix is just the tip of the iceberg. The back catalogue of 5am Conductions (stevey7’s label for tactil vision, bentwithlight, and other side projects) is extensive and impressive. Like his music and artwork, the catalogue reveals the multiple layers and explorations of stevey7. I highly suggest you step into his world and walk around for a bit. It is replete with physical, sonic, and video media for you to experience the vision that Stevey has of the world around him. Make sure to check out his mixcloudbandcamp, Youtube Channel, and facebook to stay up to date with all the releases and art work. I hope you enjoy this really in-depth interview with him, as it is full of interesting ideas.

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

TV: Recently i have been trying to get into more of the subconscious; i was just watching a movie recently and noted the soundtrack is most effective when you don’t notice it. Of course, there is the power of the story/filmmaking itself, but the idea, anyway….So i guess i see music as a soundtrack and i suppose that goes well with the name “Tactil Vision”, (ha ha). Also, as a producer i have learned to not take popularity or unpopularity too personally- it really has to do with timing when we experience art regarding how we perceive it, i suppose. Like reading a book- you may have read it a thousand times but pick it up once more and notice something for the first time. When was young, i noticed a sort-of inner clock in my brain that either sped up or slowed down, so i first became naturally attuned to percussion. I actually used to clack my teeth together, (not long ago i found out i wasn’t the only one), maybe it was a nervous disorder, but it has to do with the pulse of “being”- like the heart, or the solar cycles. Music is very primal to me and as they say, the Universal Language.

TV Eres

LA: How did you get into making music?

TV: Well, i dabbled as a kid, the first thing i really was excited about was drums, but didn’t really pursue an instrument until i was really inspired by what i had been listening to and was in early adulthood. It actually started from cassette recordings of noise and whatever i sounds could dub and then overdub them as much as i could without the layers getting lost, through a Radio Shack mixer. I believe it was Einsteurzende Neubauten that really hooked me. A person could just bang on some metal or whatever and make music with it. It was liberating. Eventually, several pawn shop visits later, it was get an old keyboard here, buy a drum machine, hook up a cheap mic…

LA: I know your output has ranged between more instrumental works and ones with vocals, but can you think of a common set of music and and ideas that helped shape your music?

TV: Well, i didn’t come from a musical background, and as a kid you think the only relevant music is pop music- with Baby Boomer parents that grew up with American Bandstand and records and such…i think culture has really shaped my music, actually..looking back in a hundred or so years, i am sure i would probably be a fairly common example of the times; where technology, commerce, culture is all fusing at a rapid pace and that anything has an audience, you just need to connect. I actually had a crisis with my own duality for a time and i suppose that explains some of it. Now, i learned a bit more balance, but the opposites are always there- between doing and thinking, or speaking or listening. So things with vocals seemed more related to outward, the yang- and instrumental is more yin, where the left-brained (words) are gone, meter and whatnot is open and is more observant, i guess. But this duality is only at the surface- both interchange, where the further i go in one direction, the elements of the other are more apparent. So what shapes it is really letting go as much as possible of control, or for me, being centered- doing, but still being aware and receptive. Observing, but still interacting. Mostly, it a need for some kind of beauty, as in Nature, i guess. Like some mad painter working feverishly on the “perfect” still, never ceasing, because they are all flawed; “flaws being the essential requirement for beauty.”

LA: You spoke to me about feeling like you are at a cross-roads in terms of your music. Where do you think you have been with your music and where do you think you will go next?

TV: Well, at first, a person thinks that the work is going through change, when in fact, it is the worker. I guess that is what that is about. The internet has it’s advantages, with the ability to reach across time or space, but inversely, the need to engage and effect those closest to me is coming about. I guess it’s like that digital versus physical argument-most people need balance in their lives…like the saying, “Live locally, think globally”. Giving something that you have made with your own hands carries with it all the energies- conversing face to face, with the nuances involved. It has to do with experience and expression of the self. I have not consciously made the decision, but overall, the music i buy and experience fully more often than not, is live performances. I get to meet the person behind the art. I learn about them and not just some image they are projecting for a time. It means a great deal to meet in person those whose work i admire. Usually, that image i project dissolves into the reality that they are human, too and perhaps ordinary, yet doing extraordinary things. So for me, that reminds me people are more similar than different. That it’s okay to be “ordinary”, one person among many, simply trying to create something with the time they have…

TV3

LA: What sorts of equipment do you use to make your music? Do you feel as though you have built a relationship with these machines?

TV: A chuckle there, James…”relationship” is a good word! Never been too good at those, ha ha…but yes, they certainly are. Each piece has it’s own character and quirks…basically, i have used the same gear for the last 15 years or so. Some stuff, actually, abandoned children i guess. But if you know how to utilize them….a lot of stuff that records- basically everything that records. Everything is put together on the ASR10 sampler. It took me a long time to master that one. I still use MIDI, outboard keys, effects, and the same 1202. Basically, it is a lot of pre-production -finding/editing/making the sounds. When things get strung out, you go back to the basics and build up again. But for a time, your process gets down and you’re at the factory. Whatever goes down, if you weren’t all there that night, you can always resample and rework it into something else…so everything basically is a remix, as they say. You use limits to your advantage.

LA: I like your focus on physical items. Is there a reason you have been going back to mail order limited editions?

TV: For most of my time producing, i didn’t have a web presence, so the only way people heard what i was doing was if i gave them a CD, which usually were burnt in real time and had different tracks on them. I like putting things together, painting/assembling stuff.. it’s a way to sort of capitalize on the roughness of handmade releases as opposed to pre-packaged. It seems to work design-wise, since the art is abstract and usually there is left-field sense to the music ..the latest is cut-up art, which i put together for performance swag. The runs are only as large as the material available. In this case, i had some large paintings done on corrugated plastic cigarette and soda signs lifted from a carry-out. These work well since they are water-resistant and basically indestructible. The large paintings came out too busy, but cut into smaller CD-sized they worked. So if i can attach a CD to it somehow and paint it…I much rather prefer individual pieces, so even if they don’t care too much for the music at least they have something interesting to put with all their other collections! So every one has a character of it’s own- it has a sense of honesty, maybe: so the image fits with the process and attitude. Things are so transient now and the production is constant, so an item is sort of a snapshot in time.

TV4

LA: A lot of your thought pieces on your 5AM Conductions blog find you analyzing the musical and societal systems that you are trying to inhabit/navigate as one person. I myself, also find myself continually trying to navigate these systems as a writer. What difficulties do you see artists having in our age of post-industrial media saturation?

TV: It’s pretty scary you subjected yourself to that…mostly, it’s the demands or duality (again) of the individual and the whole. I am not trying to critique as much as work things out- where do i put up limits? Where should i be more flexible? I started out writing poetry, so things are in that context- where i am trying to resolve a conflict, or just see things as they are. It’s more of “this is my thought process”. Usually things work out and i realize where the errors in perception are and if i am just owning more than i should. As in my reply, you get older and more discerning. You realize every scream and holler isn’t for you. I can’t even watch the news anymore- everything has become entertainment. It seems the average person would rather die of anything than boredom. Whatever happened to that television commercial volume legislation? So, we’re forced on the internet- not only that, but to be hooked into it all the time. People don’t want to know what color underpants i am wearing, or if i am at the coffee shop…because everyone already knows i don’t wear underpants and home-brew anyway. They Googled it. I hope people really don’t do background checks as much as i hear, because people with shady histories are a lot more fun, anyway. So i’ll just let it all hang out on the interwebs, kind of play with it, like everyone else sometimes. I suppose it’s like that prophecy: “Shouted from the rooftops.” Everyone is going to know everything about everyone and when it’s all finished, wished they hadn’t. In short: Me? crazy- yes, dangerous? You got to be kidding. And we have already bought everything, sometimes, the same things over and over again- i am personally really perturbed about all the car commercials you see- like we need 9 billion cars on the planet, all humming 24 hours a day. So, don’t get me too far off an a tangent; it’s a program, like it always was, but now it’s like everyone buying a bottle for the village drunk and not expecting him to misbehave.

LA: When listening to your catalogue and reading your discussions of your work, I keep thinking about ideas of freedom and power. Do you think music and art has a freeing capacity or the ability to empower individuals and groups of people?

TV: Oh, certainly- without getting political, although politics is everywhere, i am most interested in the individual’s personal freedom- not just in the context of their society, but the inner psychic life-breaking down barriers in themselves first before “wanting to change the world”. One person changes, the whole world can change. It may sound idealistic, but i am convinced of the inter-connectivity..much of the world’s problems, individual’s problems, after all, can be distilled down and attributed to lack of love. Now, me, i am not some old hippie, but i do have a strong sense of self-preservation. Primary mission: survival. Not just the basic needs being or not being met, but the way it is set up that an organism has to evolve or die. This does not mean just physical death, but powerlessness. To evolve, to an extent, one has to face adversity. So we do not demonize adversity, necessarily- but we do see that when people fear change, when they cut themselves off from opportunity and each other, decay ensues. So, in my past of being quite isolated, i realize the fact that man is a social creature- even that one’s personality may not be self-created, but a product of experience and those he/she experienced. This opens up a new way of seeing things, that, especially in the West, individualism has sort of run amuck, that instincts have become distorted and things are swinging back to more social-centered programs. Like the self-centered program insisted in a way that if we build a modern and successful society, the individual would prosper; now, it seems, for me the focus on individual progress can also build a society from the bottom-up. And we see this with break downs in institutions and paradigm shifts from sex to drug use and so on. If the United States, as a prototype for the rest of the world, was founded on the philosophy of self-governing- that change cannot be legislated from the top down, then individuals need to develop themselves; which is only personal responsibility. But individuals cannot develop themselves when their basic needs are not being met. We cannot say “it is progress” if we have 30 different brands of soda to choose from, but not altogether sure what’s in the water. I do not call myself an “environmentalist”, because that suggests i am separate from my environment. I just love Nature. It is simply self-preservation.

Advertisements

Trademark G. & Frilly of Columbus based Evolution Control Committee have their own weekly radio show called The Sound of Plaid that airs every thursday. This week they had me on the show to talk Columbus electronic music history and to show a selection of some local Ohio artists I had been enjoying. I think the show is a great saturday morning listen to get you ready for the benefit show BLUR this Evening (For More Info CLICK HERE). We got a great line-up of artists for you including Mike Shiflet & Jeff Chenault, Trademark G., Textbeak, Aaron Austen & DJ Push, The Fallen (FBK & Plural), and FUNERALSEach artist gets around an hour. Each artist is given complete freedom to do what they want. That same spirit also pervades the guest spot I did on The Sound of Plaid. I brought a smattering of experimental, ambient, and dance tracks by local musicians that blur the boundaries of genre to show you and the rest of the world that our city does push musical boundaries.

Tracklisting:

1.) Evolution Control Comittee — Jessiematic
2.) Synek – Paradiba — Rano Records
3.) FBK – Nanofonque — Absoloop Records
4.) Plural – F*** It — Audio Textures Recordings
5.) Burgle – Pounder — Self-Released
6.) Mike Shiflet — Web Over Glen Echo — Self-Released
7.) Forest Management — A Sketch Of The Historical Pattern Of Blue Ocean Creation 
8.) Walleye – This Is Your Heart, This Is My House — Self Released
9.) Jeff Central/Chris Phinney — Thermal Blooming — World Records
10.) The Weird Lovemakers — Quiet Spillage
11.) FUNERALS — Boo Sra — Mishka
12.) OHIOAN — Microscopist — Self-Released
13.) Dirty Current — Anubis — Self-Released

So today I am trying something new. I am reaching outside the boundaries of our city to feature an artist whose work I am listening to a lot. This doesn’t mean I am abandoning our community or leaving the idea of “Local” behind. Quite the contrary, I think since we are so informed and shaped by the music we listen to I figured I would give you a glimpse into what I am digging at the moment by getting an artist to do an interview and throw down a mix for our community.

I first heard Penélope Martin’s collaborative work under the moniker ArD2 (a collaboration with Ekis) on the Myles Sergé Radio Show (6one6, Re(form), Space). Sergé (Or Plural or FBK who were guest DJ’ing with Sergé that night) played the Heinrich Mueller (alias of Gerald Donald of Drexciya and Dopplereffekt) remix of their track “Inside the Rock”.

I was instantly hooked.  I loved the remix, but I enjoyed the rest of the “2084” Album even more (You can stream & purchase the 2084 album on the Frigio Bandcamp). The work was dark, haunting, and provided a sonic backdrop for a dystopian future that seemed all to relevant for the Sci-Fi times we all live in.

After enjoying this initial offering, I delved into her back catalogue. I was again impressed by her work with the Zwischenwelt project. Zwischenwelt was the collective name given to the collaborations of Martin, Susana Correira, and Beta Evers. The three worked together to create an album, under the guidance of Gerald Donald, entitled “Paranormale Aktivität”.

It was a CD/vinyl release on Rephlex Records that featured 13 wonderful tracks exploring the depths of the paranormal in our lives. The release really resonated with me. I often just let it float in the background of my daily activities while I am writing and reading. Its provides a nice sonic companion to get you through the long hours spent doing whatever it is that you do.

These experiences prompted me to ask her some questions about her craft and get her to create something for the Local Autonomy Project.  What she sent me was beyond what I could have imagined. She did an interview and created a great mix called “Agharta”. I have had the mix on steady repeat since I got it. In an age where mixes are so disposable, she has created an enduring piece of work that I will be going back to again and again. It really helps also that she elaborates on some of her background as well in the interview. I hope you enjoy the mix & the short interview she did with me below.

Local Autonomy: How did you get into dance music?
Penélope Martin: As a child I liked to listen to my father’s tapes while we were in the car. He used to play everything, from Rock music to Kafwerk. I remember feeling the futuristic sound of Krafwerk more than guitars and stuff like that. A few years later, when I was curious enough to find my own music I found myself playing records with heavy synth lines and electronics beats. Then it came DJing and after that production. So I guess everything came naturally.

LA: When did you get your start DJ’ing and producing?
PM: I stared Djing in the early 90’s, at first it was a good excuse to hang around with friends, then I got more serious and started recording mix tapes and getting gigs locally.
Production came a bit later; I got myself a Mac computer and a copy of Logic. Lots and lots of hours later I managed to learn production and started to make songs.

LA: What has it been like being a woman in a very male-centered music genre?
PM: It’s been OK; I seldom found being a female a problem to work with other producers. It’s better to let the music speaks by itself, but if someone that liked my music wouldn’t want to work with me because of my gender, I would think that this person has a huge insecurity problem.

LA: How did ArD2 get started?
PM: It was while I lived in Brighton, me and Ekis were living and making music together, so we decided to team up and created ArD2. Then Desh joined the crew and we started to develop the sound and concept collectively.

LA: It seems that much of your work with ArD2 & Zwischenwelt deals with issues of futurism, power, and resistance. What makes you interested in these ideas?
PM: Futurism’s always fascinated me; I love the idea of having robots at home actually living and interacting with you. And with power and resistance it’s just that sometimes I get tired of the media trying to manipulate us, treating us like we were idiots.

LA: What themes/ideas/emotions were you exploring with this mix?
PM: I was looking for a laid back feel, something more relaxed, I picture the listener listening to the mix while doing something else. Like background music. By the way, the very first track of this mix is an unreleased track produced by myself. Hope you enjoy the journey…

For More of Penélope Martin’s Work & for Updates:

https://www.facebook.com/penelopemartin.1 
Penelope-Martin 
http://www.ard2music.com 
http://www.myspace.com/zwischenwelt 

“And when he came to the place where the wild things are they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws….”

“Till max said BE STILL and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once and they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all and made him king of all wild things”

Is this weekend really just about raging? If not, what other meaning could our attendance at shows have? Taken at surface value, it would be easy to accept that dance music culture exists as a diversion of frivolous fun. Many have made this argument in dance music literature. Yet, social scientists are very skeptical of anyone who says that any act which requires such a heavy investment of time, money, and energy is inconsequential to the larger ways they live their lives or make communities.

True to this point, Clifford Gertz coined the concept deep play to make sense of such events and actions that may seem to be unimportant at first glance, but in fact are essential to people and communities sense of identity and connectedness. One look to the religious devotion of fans associated with OSU athletics offers a perfect alternative case to see how this works in other places. I argue that when we go to shows together it is true that we are all there to have fun, but there is something much deeper at stake in our play. Discussing the deeper significance of Sendak’s “Where the Wild things Are” offers a way to understand what happens on these magical nights When we all come together.

Reading the above passage from Sendak’s famous Illustrated story, “Where the Wild Things Are” it is evident that lead character Max is confronted with terrifying demons on his journey (Interview). How often in our lives are we brow beaten by larger forces, people, or ideas that act as demons continually haunting our every step. Wild eyed and hungry, these demons push and prod us to stay in the box of what is socially acceptable.  They ROAR, terrorize, and trample on our dreams and hopes and tell us to be reasonable, responsible, and above all normal. Never receding into the distance, we carry these demons with us at all times.

You are probably asking yourself: what demons? Well, just think for a moment how difficult it is to take the less beaten path with your career, lifestyle, eating habits, fashion, who you love, etc etc.  For most of you, I do not need to explain much farther, because those very demons are the ones telling you to stay in line and not to deviate. They could be people. They could be institutions. They could be you.

How difficult it must have been for Max to stare those Demons in the eye without blinking and tell them they had no place in his life.  Are we able to stare at these demons in the face and become master of them? Maybe not alone, but when we get together for these shows we are able to look all those demons squarely in the eye without hesitation. For a few short hours, we have the courage as a community to do and be better than we ever knew was possible. This is the deeper significance I see in our shows. Sure, we say its about scene building and reppin’ our city. No doubt, its about artistic expression of all sorts as well. Underlying it all, these shows are a sign that we are still living and breathing human beings and we want to feel something. Its a shining beacon relying a simple message over and over to the rest of society: We refuse to be calmer, happier, more efficient, productive, and to settle for the cage of mediocrity. It is at this point that, like Max, we feel like the kings and queens of the world.  There is no doubt that others look on at us as Kings and Queens as they are envious of our ability to soak the true marrow out of life through our dancing, playing, and living free from the confines of the norm.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain (via Ed Luna)

Luckily, you have three amazing opportunities to explore, dream, and discover with everyone else in your community. No doubt, it is vital to go to Where the Wild Things Rage at the Bluestone on Friday Night for three stages of all local talent, but also make sure to check out DOAP tomorrow night at Rumba Cafe to revel in all the glories the dark night can bring. Then end your weekend by checking out Juicy: Time to Get ill at Circus where scene mainstays Kevy Kev and Kingpin will curate a night of their favorites in dance music. Event Details for each show are available by clicking the link on the show name.

Dedicated readers of this blog and its facebook page know that I have been voraciously consuming everything in sKewn’s catalogue. He has really captured my bass imagination with his innovative, smooth, and ever changing sets. He knows no genre boundaries and draws readily from both present and past bass movements to challenge your conceptions of how a dance music set is supposed to sound. One look to my more expansive discussion of his mixing work in the Our Scene | Our City | Our Sound Mix Series from Wednesday confirms and reinforces these statements easily.

sKewn is also no stranger to the historical story of Columbus Dance Music. He was with DJ Push and many members of our old guard in the early to mid 90s at rave events all over Ohio. He has witnessed our scene at the height of its underground and club success in the mid to late 90s and experienced our scene moving away from the downtown clubs in the early to mid 2000s before a new generation re-emerged. His experiences provide multiple lessons for understanding how we may approach pushing the current iteration of dance music we are experiencing in Columbus to the next level and provides us a new way to think about music collecting, DJ’ing, and scene building. SO the historical project continues today, as we let sKewn tell us about his experiences:

LA: Music has always been a constant in everything you have done. What role has music played in your life?

S: Music has played a huge role in my life. It has helped me form a stronger bond with my family and friends. It has been a teacher. Music has helped me through some tough times, and has been there to celebrate the good. It has given me a creative outlet. Sometimes music has even been my voice. There are times when I can’t quite find the words to describe how I feel about something, and often times there is a song that does it for me. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if it wasn’t for music.

LA: I know you were around in the early to mid 1990s for the Ohio rave scene. How did you get into dance music? What was it about it that drew you in?

S: It’s difficult for me to say, because there isn’t a definitive line. I was exposed to all types of music growing up, because my parents have a very diverse taste in music.  I remember being young and hearing a lot of early jazz fusion and electronic bands such as Herbie Handcock and Alan Parsons. Herbie Handcock, Future Shock was released in 1983, shortly after I moved to Ohio.  I would have to say that Rockit (from the Future Shock album) was the song that made me obsessed with the turntable. Every kid on my block would be on their cheap plastic turntable trying to scratch away on any record they could.  About ten years later was when I first started to notice the Columbus rave culture emerging. I was still deeply rooted in Hip Hop at that time, but I knew a few kids that were going to raves. It was around 96 when Hip Hop and Jungle music were merging more and more. Jungle DJ’s/Producers were mashing up popular Hip Hop accapellas, that were widely available at the time, to Jungle/D&B beats.  It was the merging of something familiar with something new that initially sparked my interest in Jungle music and rave culture. A friend took me to my first rave in Cleveland.  I loved the vibe, and I was totally hooked from then on out.

LA: What were those raves in the early/mid 90’s like? Paint me a picture of the sounds, sights, and feelings that were percolating around that time?

S: I can’t just lump them all together.  Every party had it’s own unique qualities.  There were so many different venues I can’t even remember them all.  I went to some massive parties like Metamorphosis that were just huge, and I’ve also been to some that were really small, but the size of a party didn’t determine how fun it was.  I remember one party that was in a shoebox sized warehouse space near the Arena District, just packed to the gills with people. From the outside the venue looked like nothing, but inside the bass hit hard and everyone was dancing their ass off.

It wasn’t all good though.  Some parties flopped, others got shut down by the police, and there were several instances of people overdosing on drugs. All of these things had a negative impact on the underground party scene, and competition from the clubs didn’t help raves either.  I don’t think the clubs were ever a bad thing though.  It gave us a decent spot to party, grab a drink, and be with our peeps. It was still the same music and most of the same people. Besides, I’d much rather use a real bathroom in a club, than a port-o-potty in some warehouse anyday.

LA: What was the Columbus scene like back in those days? How did it compare to other cities in Ohio? Most of my time was spent at local raves, house parties, and clubs, so I can’t really draw much of a comparison to other cities in Ohio.  I’ve been to a few parties in Cleveland and Cincinatti, but for the most part the vibe was the same.

S: The scene back then was driven by the physical world.  You heard about a party by word of mouth, or by going to a party or record shop and getting a printed flyer.  DJ’s shared their mixes on tape cassette.  You had to press a dubplate to get your tune mixed, because DJ’s only played records.

LA: What were the dominant sounds that were being played in those days? Was there a difference in what was being played in the clubs and underground parties?

S: The dominant sounds at that time in my opinion were House, Techno, Breaks, and Jungle, and probably in that order. Speed Garage or 2-Step came later on.  I heard more Jungle at underground parties than I did at the clubs, but there were some clubs that had it.

LA: You talked about Fort Hayes high school being an incubator and key inspiration in your search to express yourself artistically. What was it about that alternative high school that inspired you so much?

S: The school had such a diverse student body, that made it so inspiring from a creative standpoint.  You had so many people, from so many different walks of life and sides of town all in one spot, it was a breeding ground for talented inividuals.  Not to mention the great programs they have for the arts, that encouraged us to explore our interests and hone our abilities.  One of the professors of the fine arts department opened up the spray booth room to us, so we could paint graffiti on school property.  He would critique our work just as any other art project and made us think about what we were doing with our work.  I still hold him in high regard and apply lessons I learned back then to what I do now.  I know high school was a pain in the ass when I was in it, but looking back I realize I had it pretty damn good.  I met some of the most talented people who live/lived in Columbus from Ft Hayes and CAHS (the other alternative high school in town).

LA: How did you get your start DJ’in?

S: I started out DJing house parties in middle school with my friend Jonathan. We didn’t mix records but we would play CD’s and tapes and just try to keep the party vibe going. It was a very primitive start to my life as a DJ. After high school I began playing around on decks over at my buddy Coreroc’s house, just doing some Hip Hop mash ups.  Those were pretty easy and all I could really do at first.  Then my boy Push (aka Swerve at the time) got a turntable setup and a crate of electronic records from a DJ that owed him some money.  I finally had access to play with some electronic music. Being that I was into Jungle and D&B, I tried my hand at those records first.  I must admit I was pretty awful to listen to back then.  I hadn’t developed the ear to match a beat properly and I generally just sucked.  I was so bad in fact that Push gave me a key to his house so I could practice when no one was home, just to spare them the torture.  Being that I love to learn new things and I’m always up for a challenge, I stuck with it and kept finding ways to acquire new records to play with. I remembered I would take a Techno record and leave it alone on the one turntable, then I would try to figure out weather the other record needed slowed down or sped up. I guess it was sort of a scientific approach, having a control and a variable. It took me a while to get the concept of beat matching down, and even longer to master the finesse.  I also spent time practicing with DJ Cheese, who is a beast at scratching, and we made some mix tapes together.  I also paired up with a crew of DJ’s called Digital Coalition (Boo, Payste, Q, and Dingo8).  They were the first ones to get me involved with digital production.  I really took to it and fell in love with producing. Even though I was a worse producer than I was a DJ, it was something I enjoyed to do and it was fun playing with beats in a new way other than just vinyl. Those guys were also the first ones I ever saw who mixed music with computers. They used two desktop PC’s and a mixer to DJ their own homegrown music.  This was well before Traktor and Serato were even a concept.  It was pretty inspiring to see someone make a tune in the basement one day and be able to play it out somewhere the next night.  I remember those guys getting a lot of guff from some of the more traditional DJ’s for using computers instead of wax, but now it seems like playing the computer is the norm.

LA: What was the first set you spun? How did you feel?

S: I can’t even remember the first time I played in public, but I do remember playing a small rave in Cincinatti and I was nervous as hell.  It was the first time I felt like I was playing for an audience that understood what I was doing and they knew what to expect from a DJ.  It was a little intimidating to say the least. I remember my hands were trembling when I put my first few records on, but after mixing the first few I became more relaxed. I remember being the one who was nervous about making a mistake, but it ended up being the sound guy who tripped on a cable and killed the sound right in the middle of my set.  He was a little embarassed, but we got things running again.  The people on the dance floor didn’t really seem to care too much and just went back to dancing.  I guess making a mistake in mix isn’t really a big deal.

LA: What does the act of DJ’in mean to you? Why do you do it?

S: The act of DJing for me is all about presenting music to people.  I do it because I love music and I love people.  I’m just a shepard of music really.  I bring what I find to peoples ears, who may not have heard it otherwise.

LA: You place a heavy emphasis on Vinyl and remaining true to spinning it. Why is Vinyl so vital for you as a DJ?

S: Vinyl is vital to every DJ weather they choose to use it or not.  It’s because of vinyl that the term and the function of “DJ” even exists.  The origins of what we all do as DJ’s stems from what happened with vinyl records. I guess it’s so vital to me because I’m heavily invested in it. About 80% of my music collection is on vinyl. I just love records, so I choose to use them as my medium to DJ.  

LA: You are a self-professed audiophile who collects music on the daily. What music do you collect, and how do you approach the act of collecting vinyl?Is any genre off limits?

S: I collect all kinds of music and there is absolutely no genre off limits to me.  I can find music I love and relate to in every genre I know of.  The way I approach collecting records is to listen to what’s out there every day, and buy what I can.  That’s about the only reason I would ever buy any type of music I guess.  I won’t purchase a tune just because I think other people will like it.  I don’t really care what they like if I’m the one who is paying for it. I’ve made a lot of mixes and played a lot of shows, but there is a vast amount of my collection I have never shared. Mostly because I haven’t found the right outlet for it, but that doesn’t keep me from buying what I like to listen to.

LA: You also have very specific ideas about the role a DJ is supposed to play in a music community. What is the function of a DJ to a music community in your eyes?

S: This is just my opinion, but a DJ should be the one who does the exploring for people.  You go out and listen to what’s going in the world of music, and then share what you find with your audience in a creative an entertaining way.

LA: Why do you believe it is important to almost never play the same track twice in a live set?

S: I don’t have time to play out every week, so when I do play I want people to have something brand new to listen to. Besides there are so many great tunes coming out it’s impossible for me to share them all.  If I played out everyday or week I would probably have to play the same tunes because I couldn’t afford to keep up.  Since I don’t play out a lot, I try to make up for it by always keeping it fresh for my listeners.

LA: You are of the opinion that a DJ should let a track shine and not do violence to it through effects. Why is such a practice so important?

S: I don’t feel like there’s anything a DJ should or shouldn’t do, but I tend to take a minimalistic approach to my mixes.  I don’t try to get too choppy with the faders and I barely touch effects.  I showcase the songs in a more unfiltered way.  I look for tunes that work well together in a mix without much help from me.  I don’t really feel there is a right and wrong way to DJ by any means. Everyone has their own way of mixing and there shouldn’t ever be any boundaries.

LA: You were foundational to starting Push Productions with Toby Tope. How didPush start? What was the idea behind putting this collective together?

S: Toby (DJ Push) and I were talking about what we could do to get more involved with parties in Columbus. He wanted to start a production/promotions group and asked for my help.  The idea for the name of PUSH was mine, but DJ Push was really the driving force behind the concept. He took the name on personally as DJ Push and really stood behind it. The basic idea of PUSH is that we would help push the scene to new levels, by pushing ourselves. It seemed to work pretty well for us, until DJ Push was relocated outside of Ohio for business and PUSH Productions went dormant. When DJ Push returned to Ohio some years later, he wanted to revive the PUSH Productions crew and make it even bigger and better. I was totally on board for that, and got to work designing a new logo for the crew and setting up all the web based elements for the group. We pooled our resources and got with friends, DJ’s, artists, and administrative people who wanted to be a part of it.  We put together a hell of a crew if you ask me and I’m pretty impressed with how far we’ve come.

LA: Why do you think is it important to push things to the next level for Columbus Dance Music?

S: If you don’t push things to new levels, people get bored, and when people get bored, they find other things to do.

LA: You are recognized as one of the first guys in Columbus to spin Dubstep back in 2007/08 at Bento Go G0. What was that first experience like? Why did you think it was important to start spinning dubstep in Columbus?

S: It was February 2008 when I first played Dubstep at Bento’s, and the experience was both good and bad.  On one hand it was kind of a disaster, but on the other hand it was good because it got some people talking.  I remember I had about an hour long set and I was spinning breaks and electro. A little more than half way through I switched up to Dubstep. I dropped a lot of old records from the label Tempa and some from Planet Mu. I remember seeing people stop dancing and they were looking at me like “what the hell are you doing?”  I didn’t let up and I finished out the set playing only Dubstep.  I ended my mix with a Kode 9 remix of Dabrye’s tune “Air”, featuring MF Doom, that just came out on Ghostly International.  I thought if I played something with some Doom in it, I might win back some listeners.  It didn’t end as bad as it seemed to start, but what I found after I finished was that other DJ’s were on the Dubstep tip already.  Fellow Junglists Hawstyle, Caedo, and Arkova were all gathering up Dubstep records and Hawstyle was planning on doing a Jungle/Dubstep night called Bus Bass. It was an important mix for me, because it broke the ice, got some people talking, and let DJ’s take this emerging style even further throughout Columbus.

LA: Where did dubstep go from there? How did it become so popular locally?

S: I can only speak for myself, but I went on to play Dubstep at shows for Bus Bass, Bristol Bar, Oldfeild’s and I began getting some attention from people outside of the US, on Myspace, Dubstep Forum, and Dubearth. I don’t really know why it got so popular locally, because I feel sort of detached from it’s sucess.  I think it just blew up on its own.  People just found it and liked it.

LA: Though you are most recognized for your works on the deck, you have some amazing production work you have done. What is your creative process? How do you go about creating a track?

S: My creative process varies from track to track. Sometimes it’s a beat that gets my ideas flowing, other times it may be a bassline or melody.  Some tracks seem to take forever to finish, others write themselves in a few hours, and some tracks die before they are even born.  I think my best work is when I have gone into the creative process without a particular idea.  Instead of going in there with an adjenda, I try to play with the sounds free from constraint, and let them influence my direction.  If I go into a track and say, I will make Jungle, or Techno, or Dubstep, or whatever, I’ll end up creating what I think those things should sound like.  When I go into it free from those constraints, the results sometimes end up surprising me and taking me down roads I didn’t try to go down.

LA: What about a Mix? What are you trying to achieve when you make a mix? Are you trying to tell a story?

S: I just want whatever I do to sound like it’s on purpose. Sometimes I pick one or two records I know I want to work into a mix, then I let the rest fall into place around them.  Other times I just pick up a record, throw it on and see how it makes me feel and think of what will sound good with it.  Sometimes I try to hint at a thought or feeling by using a song with lyrics.  I don’t think I really ever try to tell a story, but I do try to convey some different feelings throughout a mix. If it is always hard as hell, you lose the sense of the hardness until you put it next to something soft. Juxtipostion is important to my mixes, as it adds depth to the journey for my listeners.

LA: We talked a lot about your ideas of the pop and drop cycle. What is this cycle and how do you think it impacts the creation of music today?

S: Everyone seems to always be looking for the next best thing.  These artists get so hyped up, then just seem to drop off the face of the earth.  I think in one sense it may be because the niche that makes them popular outruns their abilty to sustain it.  I was talking to a friend of mine about how it seems many artists either die off, stay within their comfort zone, or experiment themselves into career suicide.  It’s very rare to find artists who can evolve and stay relevant at the same time.

LA: Today dance music seems to be endlessly classified into genres. Do you think such labels are useful? How do you approach thinking about music classifications?

S: The whole label thing is getting kind of annoying, but it does help when you are shopping for a particular type of music I guess.  When people ask me what I like, I just say everything.

LA: We talked explicitly about the importance of advancing the product not people in building the Columbus Scene. What does this mean to you and what historical examples from Columbus dance music history can guide us in how to do this?

S: I remember back in the 90’s when a lot of different crews were doing their thing, there came a point when we realized we could do much more as a unit than as individuals.  That didn’t necessarily mean we all worked together on every party, but we did open the doors of communication to make sure we weren’t stepping on each others toes.  Scheduling is a huge factor.  If you have three or four groups throwing big events on the same night, the turnout would be poor at all of the events because there are only so many people that go to these things.  When we would discuss plans in advance, then one group could do an event on a certain Friday, another would rock a Saturday and so on.  The events were more of a success because of planning. Even though every crew had a different way of doing their thing, we had a common respect for the scene as a whole and wanted to see it flourish.  Having support for one another is key at making our scene a success.

You need more sKewn? Well you are in luck, because I have compiled a list of mixes that he has created and provided a few words on Wednesday in the the Our Scene | Our City | Our Sound Mix Series where I featured his work.

Beat Oracle:

Two great shows here for you to check out. GET AT THIS NOW!

2_4_12 — Fluctuations

2_11_12 — A Visit to Pastel Planes

 

Bus Bass Show

The Bass God Lets someone get up on the decks for a full hour. Must Listen!

Vol 15–Full Hour Guest Mix from DJ Aria

 

Q Factor

House Music Mix From Sybling Q

Vol 7 — 02_09_12

 

Doctah X 

Bringing you his weekly dub prescriptions

Vol 16 – 02_10_12

 

Another Great week of Radio over at WCRS has me feeling the need to share these shows on a weekly basis. I mean these individuals are providing some Quality local programming that is at the cutting edge of selections from a wide gamut of artists around the world. I mean these three shows are only a small slice of the programming that I am exploring at the moment. Future areas of research include Doctah X’s Prescriptions show and The Fury’s industrial music hour.

Bus Bass Show

First, we have the Bus Bass show curated by Chris “Hawstyle” Haws with the best in jungle, DnB, and Dubstep. The show airs on Tuesday nights at 10 pm on WCRS 98.3 FM and can be streamed on the web Here. This weeks show features a Liquid funk/DnB guest mix by DJ DeutscheMark and a jungle/DnB mix by Hawstyle.

Listen and Download Here

Q Factor

Second, we have Sybling Q‘s hour devoted to his genre bending tastes in Moombahton, Electro, House, & Techno. The show airs on Thursday nights at 11 pm on WCRS 98.3 FM and can be streamed on the web Here. This week features a mix Sybling Q threw down at Bristol in 2008 (R.I.P. Bristol).

Listen and Download Here

The Beat Oracle

This is a show I just discovered friday night as I was driving around town. There was some craziness going on and I loved it. The show feature the best in “future music” and highlights selections from techno, dub, experimental, hip-hop, etc. It draws from everywhere to give you a crazy experience. The show airs on Saturday nights from 6-8 pm on WCRS 98.3 FM and can be streamed on the web Here.

Listen Here

 

%d bloggers like this: