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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.

Photo Mixing q[photo courtesy of Ray of Hope Arts]

Much of how I judge my connection with an artist is based on the lessons Kevin Kennedy taught me about one’s musical compass. In a candid conversation we had on how we both relate to music, he shared with me an insight that has become a core idea to how I approach music. He said that one knows very quickly if a track or set speaks to them. If the music grabs you and leaves you bobbing your head then you know that you have a connection with that creation. I have carried this insight with me and it has helped me immensely in understanding and refining what I call my musical compass. This inner compass is pretty important in our time period of increased “connection,” screaming NOISE, and endless mounds of “news.” Like the magnetic forces of our north pole has provided a form of navigation through endless horizons of land and sea, our inner musical compasses now guide us through the mounds of information that we all have to move through to find the art and people we connect with most and want to learn from. It was this compass that has led me to a deep appreciation for Tony Fairchild’s work and his desire to take the long, scenic route through the valleys and mountains of skill building rather than the direct route of instant gratification.

Anyone present the the first time I heard Tony Fairchild spin could see how I instantly connected with his work. Prior to seeing Fairchild spin live, I had not heard much of his work. I knew from the little exposure I had with his mixes online that we had a common musical vocabulary and were interested in the same constellations of sound. However, it was not until that set that it really clicked for me. It was not until I turned off all the distractions and just opened myself up to that experience that my musical compass confirmed how much I connected with his vision of the world. From the minute that needle hit the first record, I could not stop bobbing my head and was soon propelled into strange, trance-like convulsions around the dancefloor. However, its not surprising that I connected with his work.

At that time, my musical compass had me exploring the darker spectrum of techno and house, which primed me to look deeply into the imagery behind Fairchild’s set. Fairchild spun a set that weaved together a string of sounds that evoked the dystopian soundscapes that seemed to really be capturing my imagination at the time. The set ebbed and flowed through an exploration of the space in-between precision and spastic syncopation. It moved from propulsive energy to the sort of deconstructed sputtering so characteristic of the music of the past 6-7 years. In this set, I saw the richness of our organized world revealed. I saw the “perfectly ordered universe” of our bureaucratic lives set against a backdrop of the contradictions and dysfunctions of the very human systems we have created. I saw past the rhetoric of how our world worked to see the simple realities of municipal bankruptcies, the convulsions of the world economy, and our inability to deal with simple social problems in a direct and non-partisan fashion. In his soundscape, I saw him revealing simple truths about the nature of our reality and the common space and organizations we share through the synthesis of sound. Quite pointedly, I saw that despite our best efforts to make things work the way we want them to we will always be human and have to adapt to the paths presented to us when life doesn’t go according to plan.

Aside from my connection to his music, it is quite obvious that Fairchild has embraced his own inner music compass and has let it guide him to construct his own path through the sound. His inner compass led him to not shy away from the challenge of embracing vinyl. He has embraced a deep respect for the music format and the lessons it can teach someone. His inner compass guided him to not shy away from making the transition from the “dubstep” that gripped him in the mid 2000s into “house”, “techno”, etc. He took the lessons he learned on how to focus on a single genre that he picked up listening to these artists and applied it to other constellations of sound he had yet to explore.  His inner compass led him to not shy away from the long, scenic route of attempting to master the craft of DJing. In our age of instant gratification, this is a powerful act. Fairchild rejected the seductive lure of building a social media following and its accompanying HYPE. Instead, he invested his time in building a toolkit of skills that would help him express his voice. He took on the never-ending task of mastering a skill, and in that act dropped out of the rat race of EDM. He just followed that inner compass and opened himself to what the experience will teach him. Is that not what all of us should do if we are truly paying attention to our collective soul and seeking to connect deeply with the sacredness of our community and the art we all love?

Photo mixing 2

[photo courtesy of Ray of Hope Arts]

Luckily, Fairchild was kind enough to do an interview and a mix for us all to share some of his art with our community. I hope you have the chance to check out the mix and interview. It really captures the deep respect and reverence Fairchild has for the artform we all love. I hope you too will show this same respect for this mix as more than just another 54 minutes and 6 seconds, but as an opportunity to see what Fairchild is trying to teach and reveal to us. Don’t come at it ready to judge. Come at it with no judgements at all.  Respect the music and the artist and amazing things can happen and you can allow the music to lift your mood, your spirits, and your heart. I know this mix he created has done that for me numerous times over the last two weeks as I let it float into my world. You can connect with Fairchild on his Soundcloud page and through his association with local dance organization Squared. He plays on a regular basis for Squared’s monthly at Victory’s.

Mix:

Interview:

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

Tony Fairchild: There are two sides to this coin. First, music inspires, stimulates and opens my mind to new ways of perceiving reality or giving shape and sound to a reality that may only exist in your head. Dance music, techno in particular, tends to either paint a picture of the reality in which the artist exists or create an alternate reality that the artist has dreamt up. Detroit techno is the textbook example of the first; guys writing tracks about the decaying, technology-driven city in which they lived. The whole minimal-Perlon-Ricardo Villalobos camp really exemplifies the second; guys writing tracks to give shape to some exotic alternate reality or future that exists in their head. Both approaches allow me to experience realities and aesthetics that aren’t my own and open my mind to a bigger world of ideas than the one I naturally inhabit. It’s a great experience to listen to a piece of music that conjures up the image of another time and place in your mind.

On the other hand, music distracts and consumes me. I have a very obsessive personality and the thought of the next record I buy, the next artist I discover, etc. can take up a bigger portion of my thoughts and attention than they should. I have to consciously temper this, otherwise I would have no friends and my only chance of getting a tan would be from the light coming off of my computer from the Discogs home page. It’s a double edged sword.

vinyl

LA: How did you get into dance music?

TF: Listening to a lot of electronic music in high school in and early college. Traditional music production (ie bands) lost its appeal and I sought anything that was produced electronically. At first I listened to a hodge podge of genres, trip hop, IDM, techno, it was all just electronic to me. Around 2007-8 I got really into dubstep coming out of the UK. The sound was so novel at the time. It all sounded like the music for a film noire score. In retrospect it was a good entrance into the dance music world because it was more cerebral than dance floor oriented and that’s the kind of stuff I had always been into. Guys like Skream, 2562, Hessle Audio and Digital Mystikz narrowed my focus to a single genre. Around 2009 as dubstep DJs started to slow their tempos and mix in house and techno, I followed suit and started exploring those genres. You’d heard a DJ mixing a 130-135 dubstep track with an Anthony Shakir cut for example. I loved those blending of genres. Basically I listened to Ben UFO mixes and played whatever he was!

LA: There has been much written about the resurgence of the popularity of people of our generation going back to vinyl. What got you into vinyl and what keeps you loving the medium?

TF: I had a really strong conviction when I decided to start spinning that I wanted to do it the hard way, the way all the old school guys did. I thought that if I took the hard road I would end up being much more skilled in the long run. There was also a gravitas I felt from the DJs I liked that spun vinyl. They had the dubplates and the super-rare old school jams. It showed commitment and I respected that.

Chain Reaction2

What keeps me at it now is the desire to master the craft. That and I am obsessed with buying and collecting records. I get sweaty hands every time I go to the records store. “What goodies will I find this time?” I was up in Toledo this past weekend and found some crazy shit on this German label, Chain Reaction. You can’t find those records anywhere, and here I got them for 50 cents from the back of a used record crate in Toledo! I used to think that you couldn’t find house or techno in Ohio, but its just a matter of digging hard enough and having the knowledge to recognize worthwhile artists and labels. Digs often end up fruitless but finding the occasional gem more than makes it worthwhile. I heard records referred to as the Black Crack lately. I’d say that’s a suitable description. If any of you readers want to unload, you know who to call!

LA: Each set I have heard you spin I hear the presentation of older house/techno tracks right alongside new, which I find extremely gratifying as I feel the music always holds up next to the “new”. What approach do you take to weaving together music of different eras?

TF: Its not really a conscious act for me. It might be a techno record that came out last week or an acid house tune that is older than me. If it complements the track that is playing or takes my set in the direction I want to go, I’ll mix it in. This is very much a Midwestern mentality that I’m proud to associate with. All the old school guys I look up to spin this way. They’ll mix a disco track into slamming techno back into a Kraftwerk tune. The contextualization is fun as a DJ and it usually makes for an engaging, diverse set.

LA: We are both from Toledo. I know that city influenced me in ways that shaped the type of music I listen to and who I am today. Did Toledo shape your tastes in music or your interest in music?

TF: If Toledo is responsible, its only because the Airport Hwy library branch had a copy of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works that I rented when I was 14! Much more is owed to the friends I had in high school. They were all in a band and I got to hang around while they wrote songs, practiced and shared other music they were into. They turned me onto a lot of the music that would have a large influence on my tastes. Radiohead, Four Tet, MF DOOM. I have them to thank.

Later in life, I have come to have an affinity with Detroit and its music. I actually used to live further up in Michigan, about 30 minute away from the city. It blows my mind that I grew up so close to such a powerful cultural revolution but only realized once I moved away. The Midwest is the birthplace of all the music I love so much and, despite its lack of popularity these days, I am very proud to be from the same fertile lands.

LA: You have begun dabbling in production doing what you term “Sketches”. What has been the most surprising thing you have found in that creative process?

TF: Its embarrassing to even talk about because of how undeveloped and uninspiring my stuff has turned out so far. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that loops are easy to make. Arranging them into dynamic, fleshed out tracks is hard as hell. Also, a lot of work goes into refining your overall sound. Just because you have 909 samples, a Juno and a 303 doesn’t mean its going to sound old school. Regardless, its been a fun experience and I look forward to learning how to use my gear in new and interesting ways. Also, big shout out to Kevin Parrish for all the knowledge he’s shared and patience he’s had showing me how to use my own equipment!

Black and white

Lucky me, I look in my inbox and I see Single Action is feeling quite generous and has shared another of his wonderful, thoughtful mixes. Now this guy doesn’t get a lot of attention around town (Save for Hawstyle who runs the Bus Bass Show on WCRS), which really sucks because he has a lot of talent.  I really like his his mix work, which is chock full of his own productions.  As I said in my first write up on him around a year ago:

“He weaves a careful web of drum n bass, jungle, and ambient influences into a careful sound tapestry that explores many emotions and themes. He takes you to the highest of highs taking you floating above the clouds and pummels you with barrages of bass that take you crashing back to earth. This is quite the feat with the genres he is playing with, because it is easy to just say I am going to come after you 100% without stopping. I love a good throw down, but I really appreciate the nuance that Single Action’s quiet moments bring in a mix.  The result is a beautiful juxtaposition of styles and sounds that really work well together in my opinion and keep you guessing where the mix will go next.”

Above the crafting of the music and mixes, I like to listen to his work, because he makes me think. Its not all just pop and drop. Its expansive enough to open up head space to think about the nature of the world we live in, but intricate enough to just lose yourself in the sound. It grips your attention and demonstrates he has been digging around for his own distinctive sound for some time. I appreciate this in an age where many people will not look to the back stories of the recently created genre. Consequently, when I hear someone going off in their own direction I just breath a sigh of relief. Anyways. I reposted up his first mix and the new one (Mix 2) on my soundcloud for you all to listen to. Make sure to check out my interview with him from last July HERE to hear him speak about his work more in depth. Embeds are available below: Enjoy.

Mix 1 (From 07/2012)

Mix 2 (New)

flyer

This saturday (May 18) ele_mental re-emerges with a 20th anniversary event at Kobo to celebrate the continuation of underground electronic music in our city (Event Details HERE). A focus on continuity is so vital, as ele_mental has never really left our community. Sure, they were not planning weekly or monthly parties over the last 5-6 years and many of its core members now live outside the city, but one does not have to be physically present or be screaming louder and louder to have an influence on the shape of our community. Sometimes the best thing a person or organization can do is to do nothing and let the creative pulse and vision one has created reverberate within the community in smaller ripples. Such is the simple way that ele_mental has come to inspire a whole new generation of people to work to keep the scene alive and offer a safe space for artists to explore ways of opening the  “eyes and ears and minds” of listeners

In my own way, this is how I came to know and be inspired by Ed Luna, Todd Sines, Titonton Duvante,  & Charles Noel and their artistic approach to dance music without even meeting them. I was caught by one of those smaller, barely perceptible reverberations that still echo out from the core years of their time in Columbus, 1991-2003. Even though I wasn’t there, didn’t here the songs, or feel the powerful rhythm of those days, the stories, pictures, sounds, and conversations I had with people shaped by those days influenced me in important ways. It was the high ideals of ele_mental  to rise above hype and push art that gave me the courage to push the boundaries of what music was acceptable and to not settle for the genres of acceptability that were in vogue at the time. It was the focus on education and scene history, charted by Ed Luna and others, that gave me a template and background knowledge on which to build. It was their hot burning fire of creativity and the will to build in new directions on the edges of sound that poured gasoline on my own kindling flame and showed me how to harness language as a system to express what was inside me. In short, as I stand on my own two feet, I recognize I walk on the ground built by their actions.

It only seems fitting that ele_mental would re-insert themselves into the conversation in a more direct and pointed way now. After 5-6 years of development, the scene has ramped back up. New clubs have opened in the old spaces. New organizations have arisen to fuse the experimental and dance sides of our scene. New publications, photographers, and videographers have taken advantage of advances in technology to document what people are doing creatively in our community.  New faces have mixed in with the old to create a new community. However, the newer members of our community have never experienced an ele_mental event. What will transpire when we all get under the same roof and dance to the same beat? I am, with Ed Luna, hoping for a Chain Reaction. The sort of chaotic, unstable synthesis that merges the ethos of DIY creation and sound barrier bursting so characteristic of ele_mental with the energy of the next generation to give another injection to the most recent wave of underground scene building in Columbus.

In order to get you ready for the show, I gave seven different members of ele_mental and our community the opportunity to reflect, just as I did above, how ele_mental influenced their lives and our city. I hope you enjoy the result. I think it really captures some of the importance of the organization and its ideals for our community. Below you will see the question I posed to all participants and their answers In alphabetical order by their first name:

Its the 20th aniversary of ele_mental and its got me in a reflective mood.  How have your experiences with the ele_mental influenced your life, your relationship to music, or your art?

Charles Noel aka archtyp, monochrome, A.R.S.:

archtyp

“ele_mental was something that came into my life at the perfect time. In 1990, I was in the middle of an important transition creatively speaking. I was fresh into my 20’s and ready to explore the universe of creativity. I was looking very optimistically and somewhat scientifically into the future. A few years into college, I was banging my head against a few disciplines that I had almost no business messing with, music theory/performance and electrical engineering. The situation was that I wanted to be an audio engineer and at OSU in the 80s they had set up an audio recording degree that was half music and half electrical engineering. I gave it the college try, but really couldn’t hang. I was expected to learn how to play an instrument (a school of music requirement) and get heavy into math and physics for the electrical engineering, but deep down I just wanted to get creative with sound. I wanted to chart unknown sonic territories, help develop new sounds for the future, and contribute to the furthering of the art.

I was pulling inspiration from many areas that were not overlapping much at that time. I had my ear into hip-hop, techno, house, industrial, punk, noise and experimental. In my mind, I wanted to draw lines between all of these and connect a visual aspect that took elements of art and design. This is a very common theme in today’s digital omni-connected world, but nothing you would randomly stumble upon in the late 80’s and early 90’s. 
Around the time that I came to this realization, I made a connection with some guys who had been hangin’ around in the small but active Columbus underground music and indie art scene. These guys had some of the same crazy ideas that I had, but coming from a different angle.

Archtyp as poor boyLooking back on that moment, it was a very odd window into the future. It wasn’t very defined in terms of looking at the past and just doing what you did then but better. We could see elements of change coming. The idea that the rules that we previously abided by were fading away was the fuel for lighting our art-student-collective/event-promoter/dj-producer-label owner fire. 
A fire had been lit and in a very short amount of time it would grow out of control. I’ll admit that I was along for the ride during much of the original inception, but being around motivated people that are willing to take risk is quite inspiring when you want to get shit done. From the get-go, ele_mental was about things that didn’t actually exist and as someone that had young creative energy who wanted to chart new territory with all that was in reach I was drawn into the collective. Many others where drawn in as well to varying degrees. We were all worker bee’s working toward a greater collective good. Heavy camaraderie came early on as we would learn to pull resources from anywhere in the collective to get our individual and collaboratory ideas into reality. We were all so motivated to teach and learn and to make things happen.

We took ideas and stripped them down to what was important. At that time, everyone was doing the opposite of that, so we stood out. Ironically though, we were not doing something just to stand out, which is a common motivation to do something. We simply followed a creative curiosity that told us to do something because it doesn’t exist and it is interesting enough to put some effort into. 
That force was responsible for those things that elemental gave to us all; Friendship, friendship on the level that was somewhere between a family member and a significant other, Creative, the idea that every creative step should be taken for a reason and to further the art, Knowledge and Motivation, how to make beautiful things happen when you don’t have enough resources. Networking, find those who inspire you personally and professionally and reaching out to them. ele_mental has given me all of that and so much more. 
To sum up, elemental gave me life; the means to create things, navigate problems and forge relationships, to keep forward momentum, and do what makes you happy.”

Ed Luna aka Lunar

Ed luna

“For me, ele_mental really allowed me a forum and venue to bring things together not only to benefit my own growth, but to nurture growth in others. I think its impact on Columbus, and other places here and there, is almost undetectable, but is secretly incalculable. No one did anything even remotely resembling what we were doing at the time, and few have even tried since. The reason it didn’t leave much of a visible impact was because it wasn’t really designed to. It lived on (and lives on) in the idea of collaboration and sharing itself, rather than in some need to prove how influential we were. We’ve never lived in the past, or in the need to prove anything, and we’re not about to start doing that now, even as we’re entering a new phase of understanding our own history.

I think this might be the most lasting legacy of ele_mental: it was about asking the right questions at the right time, and manifesting these questions into events and moments that people could participate in. In that sense, it’s as relevant now as it was twenty years ago.”

Jeff Chenault of ten-speed guillotine/circuitry room/Jeff Central:

Circuitry Room7 (1)

“The ele_mental events were an important time in the history of electronic music in Columbus, Ohio. Ed Luna had the brilliant idea to bring a diverse family of sound artists, performers and DJ’s together under one roof. Columbus at the time was bursting with so many talented people that it seemed more like a demented family reunion than a concert gig. Steven Wymer, Mark Gunderson, The Weird Lovemakers, Central Inhabitants, Kevin Kennedy, Todd Sines, Titonton Duvante, Charles Noel, Mike Textbeak, the list goes on and on. To say my work was influenced during these times would be an understatement. I learned new ideas from the “new school” of kids as much as I hope they learned from us old farts. I’ve also made friendships that will last a lifetime. There was no egos, no discrimination, no boundaries, and no rules. We were family and the DNA that held us all-together was sound.”

Kevin Kennedy aka FBK, Powerhouse, Sleep Engineer:

fbk“Before meeting the Body Release crew (which was the nucleus of the ele mental crew) in or around 1991-92, I was a crazy kid that was part of an iconoclastic hip-hop group called Poets of Heresy (we were one of the first hip-hop/rap groups to perform regularly on OSU’s campus…playing with rock bands like the New Bomb Turks-who gave us our first show).

I was introduced to Charles Noel by a mutual friend-a bass player named Diego Rivera…funny, I know. Charles and I hit it off quickly, and arranged to trade gigs that summer. I was also invited to some of the early house parties. I spent that summer of 1992 on campus mostly…listening to people like Doug (doughboy) Holmes spin Hardcore and Gabber, charles and others playing Drum and Bass, and becoming very influenced by the new electronic sound (which I was familiar with from my youth as a breaker/wanna-b-boy). I realized that this music had power.

The more Charles and I talked, the more interested I became. Charles actually CHALLENGED me to begin creating dance music. I was in the process of building a ‘home studio’ in the basement of my mother’s home, and started to ask TONS of questions…I started picking up little bits and pieces of gear…by 1994 I was in the beginning stages of doing my first recordings…to which I would annoyingly rush over to the ele mental house (by this time, on 14th street) and play my newest creations. Somehow, I had a level of artistic merit, and began to come along for the ride. I played my first show (a NYE party at the house, playing experimental records before Mark Gunderson took over). I had been into the DMC/battle scene for quite some time…I could scratch, but I couldn’t beatmatch.

Thank goodness that most everyone was occupied or in school at the time…it gave me a chance to come over and play records at a better level than I could at my house…and learn to beatmatch on better decks (I had a pair of Technics D-1s at the time).

Had it not been for the elementals-I’d probably be a frustrated and bitter ex-rapper. The love, guidance, and sheer community of the group was enough to make me a better artist. I thank my lucky stars that I was able to meet lifelong friends like Charles, Todd Sines, TiTonTon Duvante, and Ed Luna….A debt I will owe for the rest of my life.

They brought the world of dance music to Columbus, and to me. And now it’s time to give it back to the world. Can it really be 20 years? Wow.”

Mike Textbeak:

Mike Text“Well I was in Body Release before Elemental existed and left Columbus and B|Re to move to Minneapolis in 1992. Working with Todd, Charles, and Titonton definitely had a great impact on me.
All 3 had great artistic drives to constantly create and I totally identified with that. Also, we all had such unique likes even though we were all basically from the same scene and we all had an insatiable hunger for new music. I remember going through records for sampling one day at the house on (I think it was on 17th) with Titonton and he played me Plight and Premonition by David Sylvian and Holger Czukay and completely blowing me away. I remember Todd blasting AFX “Tamphex” early in the morning while eating cereal and the insane alien sound echoing all the way up the stairs. I ran down and planted my head in the speaker. I remember Charles playing me a cassette of music he was working on solo that was was slow bassy breakbeats back at Todd’s old dorm. I was totally astonished by how cool and deep it sounded. It was such the polar opposite to what we were doing with breakbeats in Body Release at the time.

We all each had pretty diverse taste. Charles had an awesome collection of industrial and also hip hop and breaks records and would scratch them equally well. Todd was always pushing out for new sounds. Like in high school he was always researching new music and exploring new ideas with sound. Titonton was just so absolutely talented at playing and composing music. I remember we would be sitting around and he would just smash out the riffs from 808 State songs for us. He would write songs on his Ensoniq VFX and pound them out manually part by part in long sequence mode without quantize.

It was so awesome that all of us brought these different things with us and then combined it into B|Re.”

Scott Litch of Squared:

Scott Litch

“ele_mental was one of my first exposures to the underground electronic culture in Columbus. Their events were always very thoughtful. I remember Ed Luna handing me his “think” article to me at a party. I read it and thought it was really interesting. The ele_mental crew was always thoughtful with their events. They always incorporated a mixture of art as well. This always brought out a really eclectic group. When things started to die down around 1999, I felt that I wanted to create my own production company that kept some of the same aesthetic going. I still continue to work with the ele_mental crew to this day, as we just hosted Titonton at victories a few weeks back.”

Steven Wymer aka tactil vision + djvd:

Post 90--Tactil Vision

“For me, in the mid-90’s, the “rave” scene was pretty much where the cutting-edge music was at the time..”techno” became a movement so much to a degree that it even elicited some feelings of contempt artistically, i admit, as i even tried to avoid the trend. So there was both a feeling of being inspired, but also overwhelmed. There was all this music and all these people that had started a movement of sorts apart from the “industry” and succeeding. So when i was starting out, i guess i tried to maintain my own identity to a degree, but the overall feeling of community was indescribably refreshing. The best part, i suppose, it prevented me from being too stuck in my own ideas, or being pretentious starting out…the genre or method is really secondary to the experience of being in front of people and the connection. So it enforced my need to stay true to myself, but also be open to others; the social aspect (if there is any other aspect) of music took root. I suppose then, i took it all for granted…being involved in ele_mental’s events basically was where i first got my opportunities to perform live and eventually i found they knew quite a bit more about the history of electronic music than i, it was more inclusive. They were actually carrying on much of the underground “industrial music” philosophy, with random Coil and Kraftwerk fans, when industrial music was going mainstream. So i was introduced to all these various forms and media, which opened my mind. Obviously, that was the point. It wasn’t a lot about dancing for me, i remember. I was sort-of taking it all in at the time and managing to contribute something remotely interesting. I guess at the time i was becoming a bit of a purist or an isolationist and this seemed to be challenging that; akin to a naive virgin finding himself in the middle of an orgy.

So the scene was broader and more encompassing…i don’t even know how it all happened, i knew a guy that knew a guy, who i don’t even think heard my music, but there i was opening up events with other live acts before the DJ’s took over the rest of the night. I was doing noise stuff. And these guys like Kevin (Kennedy) were basically dragging their studio and equipment out in a garage and doing everything live. DJ’s hauling around crates of vinyl. No laptops then! I don’t remember any computers- everyone was using MIDI. If they were, it was Atari’s or something. People were hacking stuff and hooking up VCR’s for video. I remember Ed having that funky haircut and rarely could i get a convo going with him, because he was mostly interested in the girls, i suppose 😉 So even now by habit, i keep in mind stuff might get dirty or damaged. You might get rained on setting up. Live: be prepared, keep an open mind and meet as many people as you can.

For the most part, i remember the DJ’s having the most impression- using the turntable as an instrument and the skills they had. It was all “street” back then, like the alleys and garages started breeding kids. Actually, in my own work, i guess now i realize where the grittiness and funk comes from that still permeates my own work. I even ended up incorporating a turntable in my own sets. The DIY ethic. There was quite a bit of sampling and cross-pollination. Whether you were into James Brown or Joy Division, it all was in the mix. So right off the bat it was about live performance, trading music with people and diversity. To this day, i still have a hard time labeling tings or getting narrowed-down creatively…after an ele_mental event, you’d come home and your mind would be swirling around, it was almost information overload. Maybe it was a portent of the internet culture to come. So, the experience was everything; the love of music was really the only thing we had to bring us together..it was actually quite genius, really, in the way it tapped into the sexuality and freedom of expression. It was about being a part of a whole, where the individual and the mass had a delicate balance for a time- both physically and psychically. I guess it could even be compared with a modern-day brothel, without the actual fornication. So for the most part, as beginner, i was having some illusions being challenged and such being exposed to that and perhaps even saw myself and others in a different light…”

Todd Sines aka xtrac + A.R.S. :

“ele_mental is simply… just that.

Ed came up with elemental and I thought we should fragment it — just to give it some “space”. What was essentially thought up out of the thin air, without too much thought, ele_mental has come to symbolize the nature of our activities, for work, art, and personal endeavors. It is a permeating cohesion that governs my every movement; the multi, inter, cross and trans-disciplinary nature of what we began 20 years ago has covered my career for + SCALE, my music, my friendships, my relationships. It is seeing the parallels in life; the elementary nature that forms deep, lasting friendship bonds for decades.

As there’s almost a decade + stretch between the various “electrons” of ele_mental, our events in the past decade, particularly since our move to NYC (and New Orleans, SF, Portland, LA, and beyond) have become a family reunion; whether it be a wedding, a group dinner, “waffles at da crib”, or concert & DJ sets in various spots across the globe.

While I wasn’t as focused as I should have been in college, nor siblings; I think I made up for it in the “ele_versity” with fellow student/teachers Charles, Titonton, Ed, Anthony, Chris, the Kevin’s (FBK, MWK, TWK, TSK, FWK, et al), Michael, David, and countless others. They have provided insight, perspective, inspiration and most of all, friendship that is 20+ years strong.
Todd Sines
14 May 2013”

In the moment

Dezi Magby, aka DJ Psycho, is a prolific DJ and producer from Flint, MI. He has been honing his craft  ever since he was 11 years old and picked up the turntable as his instrument of choice and started wielding records like sonic weapons. He is affiliated with the all-important Detroit Techno Militia, which has helped carry the banner of Techno music for that city and for all of North America for some time. He is a part of a new collective of artists called Convergent, which focus on sound production and DJing that pushes the boundaries of arbitrary music rules. They also just found out that their releases will be distributed by Underground Resistance/Submerge. Even with this techno pedigree, he is not one that can be so easily put in a box labeled “techno” and placed to gather dust in this genre classification in your brain. He spins EVERYTHING. I do not exaggerate here. In my short time immersing myself in this form of music, he finds connections in beat and sound that I have heard few people even consider. Take this recent mix he put together called “Scenes From The Closed Doors”:

Or take his appearance on Detroit’s Fox2 where he found an innovative new way to introduce people to his sound through the use of the Charlie Brown Theme Song and another very interesting track I will let you hear for yourself:

His sets for dance floors are no different. One listen to his extensive set of mixes on his mixcloud demonstrates he is adept at taking the listener back to a place where disco, house,  jungle, techno, and Drum & Bass were all part of the same musical language not distinct, unrecognizable vernaculars.   Listen to those mixes HERE. ]

Nebula

Entering DJ Psycho’s world of sound is like stepping into an interplanetary portal and being thrown at light speed into an alternate dimension. A dimension that looks, smells, tastes, and feels like the world we are so accustomed to, but where the development of music took a left instead of a right turn. One might say going left wouldn’t have made much a difference than going right, but in DJ Psycho’s universe the result was dramatic. Gone is narrow minded listening according to the limiting rules of genre classification and the hype machine. Gone is defining oneself according to arbitrary definitions of “the cool” created to push product. Gone is that empty motivation of self-aggrandizement and party culture. What remains is the pursuit of art. The pursuit of self-expression and finding ways to link the power of the music in vast interconnected networks via the turntable device. What remains is Soul; that irresistible force that propels us to Live, Create, and “Point Ourselves in the Direction of Our Dreams”. Seems to me that going left is the only way any of us make it out of this existence with any sort of experience of really getting in touch with the human condition.

Flyer

Luckily, this saturday (May 11) you got a chance to take that left hand turn and enter this alternate universe for yourself with a night of sound curated by Squared. Dezi will be playing alongside like-minded local musicians: The Fallen, Lower Frequency, and Beckett. As excited as I am to see Magby spin live, I am equally excited to see how this night of music unfolds with our local support. I am a huge fan of the live PA sets of The Fallen (We are talking creating music on the spot here and not just spinning), the smooth roller coaster ride of Lower Frequency, and the downtempo sounds of Beckett. All the fun starts at 9 pm at Victory’s and there is no cover. Event Details HERE. In the mean time check out the interview with Dezi below to learn more about his art and approach to music:

Local Autonomy: How does sound and music influence the way you live and experience life?
Dezi: I was taught at an early age that everything around U influences U. Good, bad, pleasant, unpleasant. The oddest things influence me. Watching Looney Tunes. Talking 2 my kids. The news. It all has 2 go somewhere…and it locks its way in 2 my subconscious until it gets pulled out 4 some reason or another. Luckily, I keep my headphones on most of the time, so the thing that gets me going the most is what’s in them. I try 2 take in as much as I can in the course of a day and most times at night, because U never know when something will strike U. I’ve woken out of a cold sleep and made things. Still do.

LA: 2.) It took a lot of courage to end the Irrational outfit and start Convergent. What drove you to start a crew that was more like a family?
D: Irrational HAD 2 end. It had no choice. It reached the end of its course by not having a course 2 begin with. The ideas were there, but there was something holding it back. I kinda had this personal dustup over the winter, and when things like that happen, U naturally want 2 take a different course in life just 2 keep U from going insane. I decided at that point 2 ‘dead’ Irrational, since its purpose was muddy anyway, and true irrationality is just an ugly thing 2 witness, and I didn’t want that connotation anymore with what I was doing creatively. Luckily, as the lineup goes, it was already there. Nano Too Hype has been one of my best friends 4 over 15 years. I’ve had his back since he was 17, and I always accepted him 4 being him. Ryan Start and I are as close as it gets. Our philosophies are in sync. We’re both Geminis – he’s a G II, I’m a G III – so there’s an understanding that goes beyond just simple friendship. Dustin Alexander aka Dayda….he and I have been friends forever as well. We like a lot of the same forward thinking music. Kevin’s my best friend on the planet – we have a 26 year history of bashing clubs 2gether on a cerebral level. Me and Kevin bought records from Jeffrey Woodward when we met in ’87, and Jeff was also the first person I heard play house music in my city – outside of me. It goes on and on throughout the entire lineup. All of us have some sort of long LOYAL history 2gether….so when the idea of putting Convergent 2gether came around, the family unit was the BIG thing that I wanted 2 put forth. The name was thought up by family, voted on by family and perpetuated by family. That’s the key. No one man can take on this all alone. Your team is everything. The name says it all. Convergent. All of us individuals coming 2gether and making something that represents our relationship 2 each other.
What’s beautiful about Convergent is that I don’t dare hold any of the members back from doing whatever they want 2 do – any avenue they wanna explore, I say “go 4 it”. Learn something, get good at it. That just means that the next time we come 2gether, no one is afraid 2 say “I got this” or “I think so-and-so has a hot record” or “I think I wanna put this out”. Our lack of fear combined with our respect of each other makes us all better as musicians and DJs and FRIENDS in the long run….and that’s what it should be about anyway, right?

LA: I loved hearing you share some of your philosophy on music creation and group building when you said at the end of a recent interview: “Forward motion. Don’t settle. Try Anything and Everything.” How does this open-minded, present moment centered approach influence your music?
D: If U take a look at my record collection, U realize that I have very few limits on things. I think of music as a gift, regardless of the source. I get as much feeling from a Public Enemy record as I do a Billy Squier record, or a P-Funk record, or a YMO record, or whatever. People take 2 much time worrying about genres and where things are supposed 2 fit and categories and all that dumb stuff. I don’t have time 4 that. When I go 2 a record store, I’m all through the room. My friend Herm that runs Vertigo Music in Grand Rapids, MI kinda makes a game of what ends up in my pile at the end of my trip. Most times, he is flat surprised. Other times, he’s like “I expected 2 see U pick that up.” That’s my philosophy. That’s what makes me tick. If I stayed in one lane, the people who know me best would think I was sick or something.

LA: I loved working through your back mix catalogue. Everytime I thought, “Oh, I get Dezi.” I was thrown a curve ball and you were spinning late 70s prog rock or you would throw in some disco, D N’ B, etc. How do you fit all these musical pieces together into a mosaic? Where do you see the connections?
D: Musically, everything has a pulse….the trick is 2 find it and make it relate 2 U. My influences are so freakin’ scattershot that writing it down kinda confuses even me. U never think of an inner city Black kid with a good set knowledge on The Beatles or Billy Joel or Todd Rundgren….or could talk 2 U about bands like Strapping Young Lad or Santo and Johnny or what have U. All of those things have a pulse that I can relate 2. I’ve always worked on the theory that the only thing that separates good music from working 2gether perfectly is BPM.

LA: Finally, what are some of the place, moments, people, or practices that inspire you to create?
D: I wish I could say that there was an individual time or place. It’s more like this running series of events. Seeing P-Funk at the height of their musical powers at age 9 at the IMA Sports Arena. Seeing Prince as many times as I have (16 and counting). Again…the cartoons. U have NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO idea how much Looney Tunes inspires me. It’s the whole warped sense of humour that I believe that people have lost touch with, especially in electronic music. The history of that music is so vast and so deep, yet people are happy 2 put them in their little categories, shut off their minds and pay attention only 2 that point in time. I have pre-dubstep records in my bedroom that the hardest anti-dubstep dude would lose his mind over. I can pull out Underground Resistance records that would make the nearest electrohouse fan drop a load of bricks in her pants. It’s all relative…and people need 2 see that. Maybe I’m the bridge. I don’t know. I haven’t gotten that far yet, and I’m the furthest thing from being done.
As far as people, my family comes first. My moms, she was all blues, old Stax and Hot Wax stuff, Sam Cooke, Motown and Atlantic sides, James Cleveland…music that spoke 2 the soul. My dad….man!! His taste was wide. Doo-wop, early rock and roll, anything funky, anything DETROIT, fusion jazz. He would bring back records and tapes from his friends at the shop all the time. He introduced me 2 Chicago “IX”, Bonnie Raitt’s first 2 albums and Stevie’s “Songs In The Key Of Life” in the same day. He and I discovered a lot of stuff 2gether – Frampton, Pablo Cruise, Steely Dan. My uncles gifted me with deep jazz, all the funk stuff that was coming out of Atlanta and Florida, Heatwave, Brothers Johnson. My brother and me were all about Funkadelic and Parliament and Kiss and stuff like that. Both parents sung in the choir, as did I and my siblings. I hated my own singing, so I picked up instruments. Of course mom and dad indulged me there. Drum sets, guitars, build-it-yourself keyboards. I got records 4 Christmas all the time. I didn’t care much 4 anything else anyway. The trips 2 my grandparents were big. Dad would flip the radio and keep driving. That brought me pop and rock. My cousin Jessie in Detroit put me on 2 the B-52s and whatever crazy stuff Mojo was playing. My aunt’s now ex-husband was a cabaret DJ in Pontiac, so whatever was hot, I was on be4 my classmates. He gave me lots and lots of records. Ugh. That’s only the first 10 years of my life….
I could go on forever, really, but again, it’s the whole thing about everything U hear, good or bad, or from whatever source U get it from, there’s an effect…and if U look close enough, there’s a tie. There’s a funk in early Andrews Sisters records that’s as hard as any James Brown jawn or in any of DJ Premier’s scratches. The middle finger that’s strong in Dead Kennedys records is united in spirit with Johnny Cash’s Sun Records output. I see as much syncopation in a Derrick May record as I do listening 2 George Shearing’s piano solos….and if U are listening 2 Kraftwerk and don’t hear Parliament’s playfulness, U gotta listen harder and looser, man. The uniting point of all of this great music is right there.

Dusk is starting to set in and high street is bustling as people move about Columbus’ main thoroughfare. The optimism and hope of the daytime is cast in shadow, and the creatures, thoughts, and sounds of the night begin to emerge from their hiding.  Streetlights and the marquee at the Newport Music Hall are the only discernible lights lending any illumination to the encroaching darkness. The marquee broadcasts the evenings dance music event: Kingpin, Dunjinz, Wazabi, Fat and Ugly, and roeVy: ONE NIGHT ONLY. This gentle electric glow offers those passing by a brief reprieve from the overwhelming darkness that surrounds them. The barely discernible humming from these fluorescent lights offers an omen, a promise of what is to come in the depths of the night just beyond those two weathered doors..

Inside the Newport, there is little noise and the house lights are set low. A stark juxtaposition to the active streetscape located just beyond the doors. Its truly the calm before the storm. That moment when an erie silence permeates the entirety of the venue. This will all change in a very short time once the sound system gets cranked up and the nights activities begin. There really is no telling what will become of the event goers when they come into this world. It truly is a separate universe crafted with a whole different set of values, imagery, sounds, and beliefs.

The nights host, two demons clad in all black, have a twisted consciousness and only wish to lay bare the roots of your reality through a careful curation of images and sounds taken from the depths of the inferno they call home. Are you prepared to confront these demons? Are you prepared to enter their world? Are you prepared to consider the game-like nature of your reality and see the endless cycles you caught up in?

Their truly is no resistance once you step through those doors. The searing red eyes stand poised to hypnotize you into compliance and take you down their rabbit hole. The mystery that surrounds such a confrontation is surely a worthy endeavor to emabark upon in Columbus on a Friday night. A glimpse into that universe is offered on roeVy’s Demons EP:

I entered their world earlier this week attempting to learn more of their agenda for the evening and how their efforts to bring their message to people around the country had been going. I brought an offering and they obliged me with an interview:

LA: This show comes on the heels of you all playing an increasing number of shows outside of Columbus. How has it been for you to begin to expand outside of Columbus?

R: The energy in the other cities we’ve played has been incredible and positive, it’s always great to get a sense of how our image translates to those who have only seen our promo videos. people have been going so hard and it is really great to see! Also, our setup has a lot of items to carry on the road which we thought would be problematic but all the out of town venues we’ve played at so far have been greatly helpful and accommodating to our needs.

LA: This will be your second headlining show at the Newport in as many months. What is it about the Newport, as a venue, that you really love? Is there something about that space that appeals to you?

R: The Newport is an amazing place to play with an incredible and talented staff. The size and depth of the stage allows for us to completely curate the look and we have not even peaked the potential of what can be done with the space there. We plan on consistently making the act more interactive and insane to look at while people are dancing.

LA: Obviously, your music endears you to an international audience of fans and musicians working within the confines of what is vaguely classified as Techno, House, and Electro. What were your thoughts behind bringing in artists from Germany like Wazabi & Fat & Ugly who were working on the same musical endeavors as you all?

R: Both Wazabi and Fat & Ugly are amazing producers and getting bigger and better every day. We’d played their stuff out long before we met them and they are now good friends of ours and amazing people. The more acts we can get on stage with us that wouldn’t normally be coming through the midwest the better. We are honored to play this show and have to hand it to Dunjinz, being the initial contact for hooking up with them.

LA: Do you have any goals for what your event will acheieve for our local dance music community?

R: It’s time to go hard with some dark banging techno.

LA: Do you have any surprises in store for us on the 30th?

R: You can count on tons of new material by us.

Yet, roeVy will not be alone this Friday. They have enlisted the assistance of their local and international allies Kingpin, Dunjinz, Wazabi, and Fat and Ugly. All waving the banger of aggressive confrontation to the mundanity of the established patterns of life, these artists wish to further roeVy’s agenda of challenging your conceptions of normal in their own unique ways. They have signed the official oaths of allegiance to these demons and will be coming at you with the full force of their artistic power.

Kingpin will begin the evening with his enticing and alluring sound that synthesizes sound from the entire spectrum of the musical universe to propel your feet into movement. I need to do little in the way of introducing this local musical force. He has proven himself time and time again to throw down amazing works of art every time he steps up to the decks. It is a true treat that we get to see him in his most exploratory in the opening spot. Some of my favorite sets I have seen him spin have been in these slots. Check out his Dance Bromance Mix from his disco house side project with Sybling Q called Disco Disco:

Dunjinz too really needs no introduction to local audiences. This guy is fresh off a classification smashing set at LeBoom 2.4 where he quickly taught everyone in the crowd not to try and pigeon hole him to one sound. I was left goose-bumped and wrecked from the diversity of sounds he explored. This performance friday proves to be no different, as he has the green light to go in ANY direction that he wants. What also makes this performance increasingly interesting is the first track called “Tuner” from his Silverwave Label has just been released and it is a wonderful artistic effort:

And thats not all,  German based artists Wazabi and Fat and Ugly that will grace the Newport stage for the first time and bring their distinctive blend of menacing music to the dance floor for all of you to enjoy. This is doubtless a special aspect of the show, as some of our scenes artists are forging connections all over the world and beginning to bring those artists here for us to see.

One listen to Wazabi’s tracks Shogun or Ripper and it is quite obvious that these guys are in a long running artistic conversation with the likes of roeVy and Dunjinz:

Shogun:

Ripper:

Fat & Ugly is no different. This guy creates and reworks tracks and sifts them through his artistic imagination to create hard, threatening tracks that stand pressed to compel you into movement. Take his track Elephant Attack for instance:

Luckily, I was able to catch up with him to ask him a few questions about his work and the show on friday:

LA: How did you get into dance music? Was there a track or show that started it all for you?
F&U: I always been a big hip hop fan, but the first time I heard tracks from artists like Justice, Alter Ego, Boys Noize or MSTRKRFT, I was really fascinated from all the energy that was going on in their tracks. If I had to choose one track that made me decide to produce electronic dance music I might choose Alter Ego – Rocker, but there are so many tracks I could mention.

LA: When did you start producing? What drove you to start creating your own sounds?
F&U: I bought a program called Music Maker for my Playstation One in 1997. It was a really shitty program but from that moment on I spended every free minute in making music. I started to buy more and more professional gear and tried to improve my sound. I think I mainly started producing music because I was bored of 90% of the music that I heard on the radio.

LA: What is you artistic approach to creating a new track or a remix?
F&U: I mostly make sounds when I’m in the studio, I just love to tweak the knobs and see what happens. When I finally made the sounds I like I usually finish a track within a couple of days.

LA: How would you describe your sound to those who have yet to hear your excellent Elephant Attack EP?
F&U: Thank you! I always try to give my tracks some extra madness while keeping them danceable at the same time. But it’s not easy to describe your own music in words.

LA:What do you have in store for us for your show at the Newport?
F&U: I got a lot of tracks coming up and I will play some of them for the first time during my tour in the US. So I’m very excited! First of all there are the new tracks from my upcoming EP, a collaboration track with TAI which is going to be released on Dim Mak Records and my new remixes for Acid Jack or Gosteffects. I’m really looking forward to the show in Newport. It’s going to be blast!

Gosteffects — Slave to Sweat (Fat and Ugly Remix)

Acid Jacks — The Sword (Fat and Ugly Remix)

No matter what brings you to the show Friday, we all will be searching for something in the darkness of the newport. Whether its a new idea, a new friend, or just a fun time, we will all be looking for an experience that will change our lives. This line up and these demons are the perfect guides through the world we know. Don’t fight their sounds or imagery. Embrace it and see where the rabbit hole ends.

Get there early to get immersed in the entire curated experience. Event Details Here

Section 1.1: Exploring the Nu-School of Techno

Life is very cyclical. Events, like music scenes, seem to ebb and flow through periods of intense popularity and participation and periods of abeyance (A state of suspension; a holding pattern) with devoted, loyal underground following. As you all can tell from my recent discussions, our Columbus dance music scene is coming out of a period of abeyance and ampin’ up to a period of widescale participation and growth. Such an outward focus and movement to grow the scene has not been seen since the 90s in Columbus. We definitely have something percolating, but there are still strong links to the past.

The funny thing is I don’t even know if these links were explicit or intentional. For instance, I see a strong link between the strength of the techno movement in Columbus historically with the cats of ele_mental and the pushing of nu-techno today. Yet, were our contemporary guys listening to Titonton Duvante, FBK, Plural, Todd Sines,  or Archtyp? I just don’t know whether there was this explicit connection or not between the past and today. Regardless, the people of the past paved the way for the exploration of menacing, dark creative currents in Columbus dance floors. This Saturday we are carrying on that tradition when My Best Friends Party curates a fine selection of DJs to help us explore this nu-techno terrain at LeBoom 2.3 at Skully’s. Most notably, this promotion outfit has called on the talents of Italian heavyweights Blatta and Inesha to highlight the strengths of this newer approach to techno music.

Yet, it is not as if we are not familiar with the sounds of this new school of techno. Our scene is deeply interested in the developments and creation of this music. Dunjinz, roeVy, FUNERALS, Dirty Current, and countless others are all pushing the boundaries of what you can do with techno and other electronic music. Whether we are interested explicitly in the merging of electro and techno (as the nu-techno movement is), is not that primary matter. The integral fact to take away from this is that we too are pushing the boundaries of these sounds along with the interational heavyweights and people are starting to see that. When we all converge on Skully’s this weekend it will not be just to see a world renowned act like Blatta & Inesha. This is certainly one of the benefits of the show. Yet, no doubt it will also be possible to see our artists enter into a 5-6 hour musical conversation with one another and one of the leaders in the production and spinning of this musical genre. This is why I get so excited for this show, because I know artistically that it is something special. I know that it will also be a crazy party as well, but the art. Seriously, the musical exploration that will happen will be as artistic as any event you have seen.

Section 1.2: The Run Down

For those of you not familiar with the Blatta & Inesha or the other local cats on the bill, I got your run down right here.  All the Interview and streaming audio you need to wrap your head around this show and get you amp’d to throw down. I start with Blatta & Inesha who were kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions for me.

I. Blatta & Inesha

LA: How did each of you get into dance music when you were both working with different genres of music in the 90s?

B & I: I guess it was just the natural evolution of the music we were playing and making in the 90’s…we both have a strong funk background which in a way brought us to listen and produce new school breaks in early 2000, but also we already had Kraftwerk, Chemical Brothers and Prodigy in our music background, not to mention the early 90’s italian dance music…producers like Digital Boy and that early 90’s rave sound have always been a huge influence for us…
Even if i started as a hip hop dj and Blatta played in many different bands (from experimental jazz to noise rock) i like to think that it’s all part of one big picture…at the end of the day it has been and it’s still today all about the groove and the bass.

LA: How did you decide to collaborate together? Was it love at first sight? What was the story?

B & I: It was pretty random, when i bought my first sampler i was looking for some musicians to make some weird music with, which in my mind was a combination of all the genres i mentioned before and Dario and I immediately had a great musical feeling in the studio and we kept going…

LA: What were the elements of the techno and electro sound that inspired you to try and synthesize the two genres?

B & I: I think the idea is to bring a new drive and groove into the techno sound almost as it was in its early days before the minimal techno wave a few years back. Also when minimal techno came out we kinda liked elements of that sound or at least we were looking at it as an intelligent inspiration but it didn’t have enough “balls” to fit into our sets…so basically what we are trying to do today is to combine that awesome old school techno feeling, intelligent swing elements of minimal, “balls” of electro with B&I bassline and articulate beats.

LA: What do you hope to achieve by pushing the Techno Nouveau sound in your mix and production work?

B & I: Make ladies sweat and becoming billionaires! LOL

LA: What do you have in store for us at LeBoom 2.3? What can we expect from your set?

B & I: We are actually working on our album right now, so the next American tour will be a good testing field for our new tracks…For now in general we love to play our unreleased tunes and unknown joints from other producers in our set, we like to surprise the crowd and see the reaction to something that they might not know…i can’t stand when djs play 2 hours of hits, it’s pointless and anyone can do it, it’s a challenge to keep people dancing to your own creative productions and the story you are telling…it’s taking a risk instead of playing the “go to” standard hits that everyone has heard a million times.

This nu-techno sound is exemplified in their The Sound of Techno Nouveau Mix Tape:

Yet, there originals are so on point too. Take their preview of their track “Anatomy”:

Or their work on the Track “Senegal”:

No doubt, these titans of techno will rock the party.

II.The Locals

a. roeVy

I scarcely need to introduce these guys to my readers. Dark, exploratory music that will grip you from the first drop. Just listen to their Demons EP. It speaks for itself.

Demons EP

b. Dunjinz

Glitchy, innovative approach to what can broadly be conceived as techno. Guy Is poppin’ off with remix and original releases. Check these Tracks for an introduction:

First, his works in progress, which really highlight where his sound is going:

Now, his tracks Anowara and Albion just for a little taste of what he has released in the past:

He is even starting a record label called Silver Wave, so go like his facebook page for this new project for all the up-to-date details.

c. Attak & Carma

The lead men behind My Best Friends Party would leave their event with something missing if they did not lay down their catastrophic skills on the LeBoom 2.3 crowd. No doubt, they have been leave Columbus dance floors in sweat and shambles for some time now. Saturday will be no different.

Check this mix work out if you don’t believe me:

Attak’s mix with his Project Dub Terrorists-Future Mayhem

Carma’s “Down For Whatever Mix”

d. NetworkEDM

Now, these guys are gonna come at you with some tech house. This is a set not to be missed. For real, when these two lay down a tech house set you best be there to here it. This DJ duo has definitely been on the rise for some time and stands pressed to lay down something special for us saturday.

Don’t believe me? Check out this exclusive mixtape these Push Productions crew members made for me:

Section 1.3 Event Details

If this didn’t get you excited for the event then nothing short of a video from Mike Harmon Ent. from the 1 year anniversary show of LeBoom! may be able to induce excitement.

Now you are definitely coming. I know you are. I can see you texting, tweeting, tumblr, facebooking your friends now. Well, I am glad I could help you make your decisions. Here are the vitals:

Where: Skully’s (Short North, CBUS)
When: 9pm-2am

Click here for more details or to RSVP on Facebook 

Do you like what I am doing? Do you want to collaborate or talk about Columbus Dance Music? Let me know by going over to my Local Autonomy Facebook Page and letting me know or Like my page. You could also follow me on Twitter.

You remember me talking about the importance of Midisluts “Ambiento” Tape during my interview with him a few weeks back? (READ THAT HERE) From that discussion, It was pretty obvious that I was obsessed with the 90 minute mix. Back in ’95 when Quality Crew member Midislut released this tape, he was obssesed with the dark side of dub with groups like The Orb and the intricate textures of Brian Eno. Though these sound come from artists you don’t normally hear on dancefloors, this tape highlights a whole universe of sound that is waited to be opened by you. It would be a crime for me to just let that tape sit in a vault somewhere and not let people listen to it.  With the help and blessing of Midislut himself, we are bring back this tape first release on cassette back in 1995 so you can hear some of the more experimental sounds that were circulating in the mid 1990’s.

Ambiento Side A

Ambiento Side B

You may ask, well why would you want to do that? The past is the past right?. Well, not necessarily. I think its important to bring back this tape, because it highlights how there have always been members of our scene that have gone out to the edges of the sonic universe to test the limits of the sounds around them. For them, it was about pushing the artistic dialogue in our scene in different directions than those highlighted in the clubs. Today, this is still the case, as we have numerous people still pushing those boundaries. One need only look to the artistic energy being put into the monthly Frequency Friday shows put on by The Fuse Factory Electronic and Digital Arts Lab at Wild Goose Creative. Frequency Fridays have been an incubator for such experimentation and have highlight the work of foundational experimental electronic music artists like Evolutionary Control Committee, Tactil Vision, Doctah X, Jeff Central, and many more. The line ups they put together for shows on the first friday of every month are the who’s who of dabblers, knob turners, and experimenters in Central Ohio and beyond. Or you could look at the amazing experimental programming being laid down by the radio shows Beat Oracle  or Doctah X’s Prescriptions on WCRS. Finally, you could look at the unique genre bending creations of Textbeak or FUNERALS to see how people still very interested in moving dancefloors have brought in elements of subtlety, darkness, and controlled aggression in their tracks. There is no doubt that we still have people willing to absorb what they hear around them and spit out whatever their twisted vision of sound is for our enjoyment. Often times, these cats are just in bedroom studios creating music that gives meaning to their everyday lives. They got no support other than their dream and the noises that surround them. Just look to the work of OHIOAN, who is pushing his characteristic sound and looking to break out and share with everyone in the scene. Got a lot of respect for his work and the musical influences that drove him to create.

OHIOAN–“Microscopist”

True to this energy, I believe that Midislut’s “Ambiento” tape was a relic of this same type of experimentation and dedication to pushing boundaries we continue to see today. I mean just think what Midislut had to do just to complete this mix back in the day:

This meant gathering extraneous samples, running sound effects records, using signal processing, the whole process. All of these mixes were recorded in one take with 4 turntables, cassette decks, CD players, effects processors, all in real time. It was like a dance to put it all together for a 90 minute mix.” (Excerpt from Midislut’s Exclusive Interview with L.A.)

Though it may be easier to complete such a task today, Midislut’s mix continues to hold up to extended listening and shows what a mix can do to expand our mind to new sounds. There’s no doubt in my mind that the “Ambiento” mix opened up people minds to what dense layers and wide listening could do for a mix back in the day. What can it do for us today? My hope is that we can appreciate the artistic merit in its creation and look to the people in our scene that are continuing to push these boundaries. As I say over and over, each genre and form electronic music takes can provide us key tools to use in listening and creating music in a richer fashion. The more we open ourselves up to the wide gamut of diversity our scene provides the most dynamic and amazing our listening, producing, and mixing will be.

This was obvious the thrust behind the show What Next Ohio. I mean just think about the first three hours of that show. It was absolute chaos genre-wise. Once fixed sound boundaries were completely torn down and recreated. I think Midislut’s “Ambiento” tape pushes us in that same direction as the main lessons from this show and calls us to think radically about what genre deconstruction and expansive listening can do for us as memebers of the Columbus dance music community. The more we connect the sounds coming from the fringes with the sounds in the club the more we will find ways to make our scene one of the best in the world. We won’t just be playing and dancing to the hottest tracks. Rather, we will be charting the paths to find new ways to chop and screw those hits into something that is distinctively COLUMBUS. Yet, I digress. I get utopian and hope you can share in the dizzying intoxication that is that dream. But I am sure you want some more insight on the Ambiento Tape from Midislut himself? I know I do. Check out Midislut’s illuminating interview responses on the ambiento mix below:

LA: Why was it important to you to: “share ambient music with the masses” in the Ambiento Tapes?
MS: Ambient atmospheres, dub, etc. was really where my head was at in the early 90’s. I made numerous trips from OU to World Record to visit Poppa Hop and he always had an impeccable selection of vinyl for me to listen to. These tapes pre-date my affinity for house music, but you can hear the beats start to creep in as I move through the mix. I wanted to share these mixes with everyone to spread the word that electronic music could move in multiple directions all at once.

LA: What lessons/tools does Ambient Music provide electronic music more generally?
MS: Ambient music proves that no matter what the genre there are always artists pushing the envelope. Since there’s no set formula that an ambient track has to follow it opens the possibilities for sonic exploration to an infinite level. No constraints means no two projects sound the same or even similar.

LA: Do you think that such translate over to getting dance floors moving? In what ways?
MS: The concept of textures and layers incorporated in electronic music serve to convey a mood, build tension, release, and guide a listener. Whether or not there’s a beat associated with it seems inconsequential. Any well constructed song can do all of the above with a minimum amount of beats and percussion. It’s the spaces in between that moves the floor.

If this doesn’t get you amped about seeing the rest of the Quality Crew this saturday at Basil I don’t know what will. Though Midislut will not be performing, you can expect Jason Lyman and Jeff Pons to come correct with all the best in underground techno and house. They are even bringing in a secret weapon: Dustin Knell. What’s that? your not hip to Dustin Knell’s game? You don’t know what he brings to the table? I give my word that this guy is as focused and exciting an artist that I have heard spin in Columbus. He is set to blow the top off Basil with the rest of the Quality crew this Saturday after the Gallery hop. Event Details: CLICK HERE.

Unsatisfied with charging the barricades of the techno establishment alone, Columbus based artists FBK and Plural have merged into a musical juggernaut called The Fallen. Their collective assault on our eardrums and dance floors worldwide begins today with the release of their first EP Abrasive Technology on E8P Records. The Fallen was created out of the common ambition both these artist share to constantly push the envelope in their music. Abrasive Technology may be just the first release of this new techno leviathan, but this group already shows the development of a distinctive sound that features driving, aggressive rhythms pulsating over densely layered atmospheres. As such, this release sees The Fallen building tracks that give new life to normally sharp, discordant sounds by synthesizing them into new sonorous melodies. Such a task shows that these two production veterans have already reached a very evolved state in their collaborations and stand poised to make a significant contribution to the development of dance music in 2012. A closer look at this partnership reveals the uniqueness of this artistic project and the aspirations these two DJs have in their music.

Many dance music artists would be content with the achievements that FBK and Plural have compiled in the last year, and would not dare push the envelope by trying something new. FBK is fresh of the release of his Abandonmental EP on his taste-expanding Absoloop label and his track “Nanomal” was recently included in Marcel Dettmann’s seminal Conducted compilation.

“Nanomal”

Plural too has been pumping out release after release. He just put out his Lost In Thought EP on Orange82 Records and is slated to release his System Corrupt EP on Audio Textures Recordings March 20th.

“Destroying Anger”

Despite this prolific output, FBK & Plural are never ones to just rest on their laurels and be content status quo. Rather than continue their artistic journey alone, the two DJs merged their strengths and went out in a new direction to see what their collaboration could yield. This speaks volumes about both of these artists. It would have been easier to just keep going down this road alone. It obviously had been working for them, as they are both getting increasing attention from all over the globe on their releases. Yet, these two artists took the road less traveled, and decided to see what experimentation and collaboration could produce for them. This type of maverick activity is exactly what put Midwest Techno on the map. Whether it’s the founders in Detroit or the foundational members of Columbus’ ele_mental crew, techno artists in the Midwest have always pushed the boundaries of techno to find new means of expression.  The Fallen is just the most recent manifestation of such an ethos, and their Abrasive Technology EP is a verification of the fruits that come from taking a chance.

Not only is the Abrasive Technology EP evidence of artistic ethos, but also presents the technical skill of these two DJs. Lush, swirling walls of noise bombard your speakers, as the beginning swells of bass lunge forward at you with the first track “Focused Intensity”. With such intricate detail presented in the track, it is difficult to even begin to understand how these seemingly cacophonous noises could work as one harmonious melody. Yet, track after track on the Abrasive Technology EP reaffirms The Fallen’s unique talent at creating beautiful techno out of noise easily discarded by other artists. The highlight of this approach comes through on their track “Turning Back To Me” where The Fallen showcase their ability to build a melodic anthem that grips the strings of your heart and makes you understand how enriching music is to daily life. Such a track makes me so excited for what is too come from The Fallen in the future. No doubt, the Abrasive Technology EP showcases this technical skill, but also shows these producers are adept in merging sounds that evoke equal doses of aggression, futurism, and sentimentality in techno tracks that will destroy clubs and underground parties everywhere. Don’t take my word for it! Check out the tracks “Without Wires” and the video for Focused Intesnity from the EP and decide for yourself! EP IS HUGE!!! Cannot Stress this enough!

“Focused Intesnity”

“Without Wires”

Buy the album at this fine outlet:

Beatport

If it isn’t obvious yet then it is worth reminding you that the Abrasive Technology EP was just the beginning. The Fallen aim to continue their collective assault of dance floors everywhere in future releases, as they use their dense, deep style to decimate your notion of what dance music is. Both as a unit and individually, Plural and FBK are going continue to put Columbus and Midwest techno on the map through innovative releases. So you best be on the look out in the next few months for future releases from The Fallen, as these two techno heavy weights continue to push the agenda of what directions techno should go in.

The Fallen on Soundcloud

FBK on Soundcloud

Plural on Soundcloud

(Note: This was the official promotional copy I wrote to accompany the release for The Fallen.)

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.

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