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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.

Kon Summer[Photos Courtesy of LeanRock]

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

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

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

Mix Work:

Interview:

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

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

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

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

Kon in the stacks[Photo Courtesy of LeanRock]

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

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

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

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

Kon Tag[Photos Courtesy of LeanRock]

Kon on Twitter

Kon Blog

Kon Mixwork on Soul Clap

Blue Fallen

[Photo by Dezi Magby]

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

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

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

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

Fallen at blur

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

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

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

Fallen

Interview:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE FALLEN

In the Booth

[Photo Courtesy of Carlos Bell Photography]

Introduction:

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

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

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

On the street

[Photo Courtesy of Carlos Bell Photography]

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

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


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

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

flyer

Interview:

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

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

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

[Kai Alcé’s “Feeding”]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nob Level

[Photo Courtesy of Carlos Bell Photography]

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

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

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

World Causes EP

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!

Musicality flyer

Stop. For real. Just hold up a second. Now Click HERE to go to Whodat’s Mixcloud and press play on her “No Requests Mix” from June 5th. After that, navigate back here and get the full experience of Whodat’s wonderful art. I want you to hear her mixing while you are reading her thoughts and words, because you got to feel her music if you want to feel her words

Whodat is a detroit-based DJ, producer, record store owner of Ya Digg Records that specializes in tapping into the heart of the rhythms and grooves that propel us all forward and give us a reason to live. Sure, that seems like a high billing, and I am sure you want me to tell you what “genres” she spins. But that does not matter. She spins music. She spins hope, love, and an assortment of all the emotions that we all experience in our lives. Just listen to this No Requests Mix I told you to listen to above. Like Jaco Pastorius with the fretless bass during the Jazz Fusion era, she steps right into the pocket and bends these disparate bits of vinyl into an ever-unfolding groove that just grips you and compels you to move, feel, and be human. Her production work is no different. This past March she got her first vinyl release on London based Uzuri Recordsand it shows her incorporating key elements from all those hours listening to and spinning vinyl into new works of art that show her finding her own way to speak to and build on those jazz, house, soul, disco, pop, etc. recordings.

I obviously feel her music is on point, but her art transcends it being just a musical experience. What oozes out of everything she does is a love and reverence for the dance music community, vinyl, and music in general. Now I am being purposeful in the use of the word reverence, because I feel she does more than just enjoy and live her art.  It goes deeper than that. She has a deep respect for the rituals of finding records, mixing vinyl, and creating music, which reveals how she thinks that all these practices are incredibly sacred and deserve to be respected and honored.  What an important and thought-provoking idea to think of all of the actions we take to build our dance communities, share our art, and create as sacred acts that get us in touch directly with what it means to be a living, breathing human on this planet. Are we treating our listening, dancing, mixing, community building as sacred? Are we protecting these practices and teaching others how to do them? These are important questions that whodat’s approach and thoughts bring up for me, and I was struck by how they got me to see the deep beauty in all that we do.

Whodat will be bringing all this goodness to Musicality this coming Friday (6/28) at Double Happiness and I hope you can attend. I know I will be there with everyone else trying to find a little bit about the world and myself in the sacred practices of dancing with others to the same beat. The show is $5 at the door. Support your scene, by paying for the artistic and musical experiences you go to! Event Details can be found on the Facebook. In the meantime, enjoy her thoughts and check out more of her mix work and her originals on Soundcloud.

Interview:

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

Whodat: Music and sound influences everything in my life. While I’m cooking, washing dishes, driving, walking, reading, resting, doing laundry, everything. (LOL) I can even hear sounds while I’m sleeping. I don’t dream much but there are a lot of soundscapes going on. It’s what keeps me going. I don’t know what I would do without it. Music has saved my life. I think music keeps me in sync. When I feel off balance or out of sorts, I just listen to something that will get me back on track.

On decks 2

LA: How did you get into “dance music” (house/techno/etc.)?

Whodat: The Electrifying Mojo, The Wizard and The Scene.

On the decks

LA: I have been listening to the products of your 303030 project on Mixcloud where you did one thirty minute mix a day for thirty days. How has that experience shaped your music production and mixing over the last 1-2 years?

Whodat: The 303030 project helped me learn my strengths and weaknesses. Showed me where I needed to expand my record collection. I found out what tracks I zone out to. I like most of the stuff I have but there are some that just make me lose it. The 303030 Project also let me know there are some tracks that I need to know more deeply because even if I’m not feeling it a certain way, I can hear them in certain way.I would like to understand those tracks better, which just means I need to study andlisten more closely. Also, how putting all of my records and feelings together is going to be lifelong process. (SMH, LOL) As far as production goes, I did not remember anything after I had surgery. So I had to start over. It was extremely frustrating at first because I could remember that I used to do it but could not remember how to do anything. Which turned out to be a good thing, cause I relearned what I use to know even better and picked up somenew things along the way.

Ya Digg

LA: You own a record store called Ya Digg. You spin records. What does vinyl mean to you and the art you create?

Whodat: Vinyl is a treasure. You are always on the hunt for it. It’s played with diamonds and made from petroleum. Vinyl is the longest existing medium for recordings. The frequencies and vibrations that come from the cut grooves of vinyl encompasses you when you hear it. The warmth of it is incredible. Being able to touch what you are hearing. Being able to see that break coming up. Sensing how much time is left on the track just by looking at the grooves. The challenge of mixing, blending or just bringing in a track at the right time every time you put on a record. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. (LOL) There is a ritual for everything that has to do with vinyl. The process of making vinyl is a sacred ritual. Digging, listening, selecting, carrying and playing vinyl are all sacred rituals. When creating art, you should consider your talent as a blessing and develop a sacred ritual for producing your art. Never take it for granted and don’t allow others to take it for granted either.

Personal collection

LA: You live in Detroit, a city steeped in musical history. Now the simple question would be to ask how that city has influenced you, but I want to ask a different question. How do you think the music you and your contemporaries make influences the city of Detroit?

Whodat: Honestly, I’m not sure if it is or how much it is. It’s not very visible in Detroit, you have to look for it. I can see our music influencing people on the outside of the city, state, country but not as much the in city. I see it influencing people that already know about our music. So I guess we have to work on changing that. There have been a lot changes over the years with the decline of radio, record stores and the pressing of vinyl. But I think artists from Detroit need to work more collectively to have our music influence people in Detroit. We need more record stores, venues, workshops and lectures that specialize in what we do. Not just events and parties. We still need those too but there needs to be more than just that.

Restart 3[Photo Courtesy of Ray Of Hope Arts]

Got a treat for all ya’ll today. It is a long awaited interview with three of the core members of the long running Restart House Music crew that has been keeping house music pumping in our city and providing a place for up and coming DJs to play for almost a decade. It seems apropos that this interview come after the interview with Seth Carter a few weeks back, as these folks have been pushing the soul and funk of dance music along in our city for some time. This sort of longevity is vital for our scene as it provides a bridge for individuals from past iterations of the scene to dance and perform alongside newer members. No doubt, such bridges are vital as they allow those seeking to learn more about the history and sounds of our community a conduit where they can learn about the soul of the music and our community’s history.

Soul & historical considerations aside, their devotion to keeping the event alive is truly inspiring. They have helped build the infrastructure for dance music in our city and because of their efforts in the early 2000s they helped keep the scene afloat in a time when the popularity of the music was starting to wane. True, they weren’t the first EDM/dance/etc. event of the early 2000s, nor were they the only show taking place in town. However, their show was an integral part of keeping the scene alive by providing a place to keep house music playing. Its even more remarkable that Sparrow, ORORO, and DiNGO8 have been able to keep it afloat for all this time.  I hope you enjoy their responses and make sure to check out the ReStart House Show tonight (Monday, June 10th) at 8pm at Brothers Drake Meadery in the Short North. 26 E. 5th Ave. (just east of 5th and High) Event Details and Lineup HERE.

June 10 Flyer

Sparrow’s Responses:

Nathan[Photo Courtesy of Ray Of Hope Arts]

LA: How did you get into spinning and creating dance music.

SPARROW: I got into spinning about a year or so after my first Rave in ’99 when I really heard House music for the first time. The first mix tape I ever bought at a party was Terry Mullen live in Toronto, and I played the fuck out of it. It drove me crazy that I loved this music but didn’t know who any of the artists or song titles were. So I started buying records from the local store and a friend of mine let me practice on his turntables. I bought my own decks shortly after that and had my first public performance after two months.

LA: What is it about Dance Music that has kept you so interested over the years?

SPARROW: House music has just never stopped being a source of happiness for me. I couldn’t tell you a specific thing about it that has made it stick. I like that it’s this under-the-radar source of positivity in a world that’s mostly dominated by superficial commercial music made for the lowest common denominator. Good House feels like a genuine celebration of living that’s not driven by any kind of selfishness.

Restart Imagery

LA: When and why did you start ReStart?

SPARROW: Me and Ororo started Restart because we weren’t seeing that many House weeklies any more. When I first started going to parties there was a house night at Northberg Tavern, there was Clockwork Sundays at Red Zone. But by the time me and her met and started doing tag-team sets, you really didn’t see those weeklies anymore so we weren’t really getting a chance to play as often as we wanted to. Drum and Bass was getting really popular around that time and most of the weeklies you’d see were for that. If you wanted to hear House you had to find flier for a party somewhere outside of town. So we were drinking beer together on my front porch one night talking about how we should bring that back again and I said we should call it Restart. We actually picked Northberg Tavern as our spot when we started.

LA: ReStart is credited by many to be the 1st EDM night that existed in the early 2000’s, when there weren’t many clubs nights in town. In such a context, what role do you think the event has played in the Columbus Dance Community?

SPARROW: We were definitely not the first EDM night, but I think you could say we were the most resilient. I don’t know of any other night that’s lasted as long and kept the same level of heart. We never charged a cover and we always did it for the love of the music.

LA: How has ReStart changed or shifted over the years?

SPARROW: While I was still in Columbus the only thing that really changed was our location. Apparently after I left Brian added a shitload of sound equipment. I’ve never seen that many speakers in one car. Jesus.

LA: Where do you see ReSTART in the future?

Sparrow: Hopefully still in smaller dimly lit venues with no cover.

ORORO’s Responses:

Chris[Photos Courtesy of Ray Of Hope Arts]

LA: How did you get into spinning and creating dance music?

ORORO: First, let me say, I don’t create dance music, I just pick the types of music that I like and play it out for people, lol. I got into DJ’ing about 2 years after I got out the Army. I was stationed in Germany for 6 years and that’s where I first heard house music and fell in love with it. The clubs over there didn’t play too much Top 40 (thank God) and house was played there 24/7, clubs, radio, just all over the place. When my time with the Army was over with and I came back home, I didn’t like the music that was being played in the clubs here and a friend of mine (shout out to Fabyan) said I should start Dj’ing. I bought my 1st table from Doughboy, who was doing really dope house nights at RedZone on Fridays, and the rest is history.

LA: What is it about Dance Music that has kept you so interested over the years?

ORORO: LOL…That’s easy to answer. For me, what’s kept me interested in the type of Dance Music that I play are two things…FUNK & SOUL. I guess I’m kind of an elitist when it comes to what I play and what I like to hear, but no matter what style it is, I want to hear either FUNK or SOUL in what’s being played. That could mean a really nice bouncy bass line in a DnB track, that makes me want do, what I call the “giddy up” dance, or a Jazzy jungle track that has a nice flute or Spanish guitar in it, that turns my moves to “fluid”…where on the down side of the music spectrum, the new music craze DUBSTEP, has no feeling or soul at all, and is nothing but noise to me, so I can’t stand it and for me it rates up there with other “top40 noise music” that seems to be really big now days. Something about a really great house beat just gets me moving like nothing else.

LA: When and why did you start ReStart?

ORORO: Sparrow (Nate Rouke) and myself, started ReStart around 2001-02. We were introduced to each other at a party we were on the line up for, noticed that the styles we played worked well with each other and that we had a lot in common. We became friends and started playing out together. One of the main reasons we started this night was because, at the time, we weren’t getting gigs and we really just wanted to play out. What better way to do that than to just start our own night! And because of the problem we had getting gigs because we weren’t established, we wanted to have a place where beginner DJ’s could have a place to come and pay and get used to playing out. We also just wanted a night that was focused on just house music.

LA: ReStart is credited by many to be the 1st EDM night that existed in the early 2000’s, when there weren’t many clubs nights in town. In such a context, what role do you think the event has played in the Columbus Dance Community?

ORORO: LOL….I can’t say that we were the 1st EDM night in the city..lol…I would think that, that title goes to the DJ’s who were doing the Friday nights at RedZone, in the 2000’s..talking about Doughboy, Lyman, Titonton and all those heads. But, I think the role that we’ve played in the community was having a place where you could go and hear great house music and be with great people and not have that “Club” feeling. We created an environment in which you didn’t have to get all dress up in order to get your boogie on. It’s almost a Cheers atmosphere, where everyone knows your name and that’s what we’re going for.

LA: How has ReStart changed or shifted over the years?

ORORO: I don’t think ReStart has really changed, we’re still all about HOUSE music, but we’ve had to shift our stance on a few things. We’re vinyl DJ’s, we don’t use computers or laptops and rarely use cdjs, and we (I) really wanted to promote vinyl dj’s only, but because almost all the dj’s we knew moved to digital, and the DJ pool shrunk, and as much as I wanted to, we couldn’t exclude the laptop dj’s. Luckily, the new DJ’s that we’ve had play out, who don’t use tables, have seen us play, and a few of them have even bought tables and wax of their own and are learning the “ole’skool” way of DJing, which I think is awesome. We’ve also relaxed the “HOUSE MUSIC ONLY” rule, but not by much..lol.

DiNGO8’s Responses:

Brian Sayler[Photo Courtesy of Ray Of Hope Arts]

LA: How did you get into spinning and creating dance music.

DiNGO8: I got into making electronic music out of the frustration of dealing with being in a band. I asked a friend of mine who was into computers (big ups to Marshal Hackworth!) to show me how to use a computer to make music. I started making a punk/trip-hop hybrid, influenced by Portishead and Chemical Brothers. I went to a party and heard House Music and fell in love. I poured myself into learning everything about producing house. Learning about disco, funk and soul records (the source of house grooves). Then I got into spinning as a way to play my tracks to a larger audience. I’m still learning all of the subtle nuances of mixing. I love it.

LA: What is it about Dance Music that has kept you so interested over the years?

DiNGO8: The thing i love about dance music is the lack of pop style vocals. Boy meets girl, break-up, relationship drama junk. Dance music avoids this and gives your mind a better place to be. The vocals are more positive and empowering. Sure there are drama filled songs. “I will survive” is a classic anthem. But it is ultimately about self empowerment and a positive outlook. Nothing gets me going like a jack beat with a cowbell and a polka baseline. it’s so infectious. I also like the aspect of D.I.Y. that electronic music encourages. The future of technology will give kids tools to make some amazing things. I can’t wait to hear it.

LA: When and why did you start ReStart?
DiNGO8: I’m not responsible for starting it. i just can’t let a great thing die. Restart to me is constant undercurrent of what’s really going on in the scene. We don’t play what is popular. We just play good music. Period.

LA: ReStart is credited by many to be the 1st EDM night that existed in the early 2000’s, when there weren’t many clubs nights in town. In such a context, what role do you think the event has played in the Columbus Dance Community?

DiNGO8: ReStart has always been a welcoming place for a dj fresh off the bedroom/house party circuit. That place where you could see dj’s really get into the mix and experience the give and take of the crowd. Especially in the round orange booth (BENTO dayz). We still get kids coming in with demos asking to play.

LA: How has ReStart changed or shifted over the years?

DiNGO8: Over the years ReStart has been through a lot of changes. From the concept of Sparrow and ORORO and their venue change-ups. Then Cut Culprit came on board. Then he moved away and I got the honor of pushing it along. ORORO has been the constant tho. She’s amazing. A naturally talented dj and consistent voice for the underground heads. Plus we had help from Aria and Dr.Spilkus. We’re basically a little family, pushing our child along. Hoping for the best.

LA: Where do you see ReSTART in the future?

DiNGO8: The future… Hmmm. Well we just changed venues. AGAIN. lol. We’re at Brothers Drake. Between osu campus and the short north. It’s a great location and should be a good fit for us. Our opening night was Monday, May 13th, 2013. We’re all really excited to be blessed with another opportunity to continue doing what we do. Bringing Columbus the finest in underground electronic dance music.

Make sure to join their Restart Group on Facebook for all the updates and Be sure to check out their show tonight at Brothers Drake Meadery [EVENT DETAILS HERE].

Musuem

“If you can talk you can sing
If you can walk you can dance
I believe that rhythm and movement is natural in our bodies
Dance is a primal form of communciation and its very deeply rooted in us
Singing and dancing together is what binds a community together
It is a way of expressing joy, sorrow, and passion

It has been recorded since before the dawn of time
that spiritual leaders and healers were first dancers
And in many cases the dances of Africa are thousands of years old
And I pay homage to the ancestors and elders of this tradition
Traditionally certain dances were used specifically for healing body, mind, or spirit
These dances come from a people that did not separate spirituality from everyday life
African dances were performed for any significant event or rite of passage from birth to death”

“African Healing Dance” — At One Ft Atjazz from his Mix: “If You Can Walk, You Can Dance” (Make Sure To Click the Link Below and Listen While Reading For Best Results)

It was a cold, blustery afternoon a month or two ago when I first got to talk to Seth “Dedikate” Carter, one of the key people behind the forward-thinking Columbus dance and music force Musicality. Strangely, before I even met Dedikate in person, I thought he and I would get along.  I had been listening to his mixes and following the remnants of his Musicality events through pictures and stories. I was truly moved by his music-first approach and his desire to bring our community an event dedicated to giving us a safe space for listeners, dancers, and artists to explore the rhythm of life without pretense or hype.  As I learned more about him, it seemed that he and I walked along a similar path in life and I felt an intense desire to share his story and worldview with our community.

Musicality

I came to our lunch meeting with my regular blinders that were keyed into what I hoped to hear from Dedikate, but, as always, the universe had different plans for the conversation. I had hoped to learn about Dedikate’s historical story and how he has been able to quietly bring world-class talent to our city. Quickly though, the conversation turned away from Dedikate’s historical narrative and his accomplishments toward his spiritual approach to sound, energy, and the rhythm of life:  “I believe there is a spirit and energy in everything. That’s why the trees make noise with the wind blows, we have personalities, and you can hear somebody walking. I am trying to say that energy is just energy. All energy falls into a rhythm if you let it. That’s what makes music so beautiful. It’s an expression of energy.” As that conversation turned toward his deep passion for sharing beautiful, inspiring music with people in our community, it became expressly obvious that the story of Dedikate and Musicality isn’t one of individual striving or accomplishment. The story is explicitly about erecting a Church Of Soul in our city that inspires people to think positively, embrace the person next to them, and keep on walking confidently in the direction of their dreams. Its a story that cuts to the heart of the ideas, values, and morals that we all share in our common endeavors. It cuts to the heart of our Collective Soul.

spoonful

Dedikate’s message has resounded within my daily life to the extent now that I see the Soul of our community and the music everywhere. Looking back on all the people who I have interacted with in our community,  I see the Soul seeping out of every action we have undertaken to share music and collaborate on common events.  From exploring new venues and sounds to reaching out to new audiences, I see Soul. From the creation of flyers and events to the production of music and mixes, I see Soul. From the desire to break out of formulaic rules and the drive to write those rules anew, I see Soul. Through this collective soul we all share, I see the good will, passion, and pure desire of people in our city to connect to and create something bigger than themselves.

Viewed within Dedikate’s powerful perspective, Soul becomes more than just a word. Soul becomes more than just a genre of music. It becomes a philosophy, a way of life, an animating energy of rhythm:  Soul. That immovable force. That power that flows through us and around us and is expressed in our movements. Soul. That unexplainable interconnectedness. That common frequency we all vibrate to on this solar powered jukebox. Soul. That most divine inspiration. That revealer of the path to your dreams. Soul. What we all share. What we all strive to find in our lives. Soul. Meaning. Found right in the place you least expected it. In your next step, word, or thought.

Poster

We are fortunate enough to have an opportunity to directly experience an event curated by Dedikate tonight (Friday, May 31st) at Double Happiness (482 S. Front Street, Columbus, OH) when he spins with Trueskills, DJ Nimbus, & Malik Alston with live percussion accompaniment from Craig Huckaby. (EVENT DETAILS CLICK HERE) Make sure to check out the sounds of this wonderful musician and get in touch more deeply with this monthly event. Until then, check out his interview to step deeper into his world:

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

Dedikate: That is a deep question. My life fits in a rhythm to begin with; it’s always been that way, even before I started dancing. You can ask anyone who is close to me and they will tell you that music is involved in anything I do. I don’t even have a television in my house. The minute I come home I start playing music or searching for music or whatever. That is in the physical world, meaning what I see and hear outside of myself. Inside my mind I find myself constantly playing a song (loud) in my head regardless if it is one I have just made up or someone else’s.  My wife tells people the strands of my DNA are made up of musical notes, lol.

A lot of it has to do with my spiritual background. I believe there is a spirit and energy in everything. That’s why the trees make noise with the wind blows, we have personalities, and you can hear somebody walking. I am trying to say that energy is just energy. All energy falls into a rhythm if you let it. That’s what makes music so beautiful. It’s an expression of energy. It’s even better when it’s live and there are four members, for example. Then that makes four elements of energy. The best thing is that we have learned how to record that and replay it over and over again. Because music will say things differently to you over time, depending on where you are at in your life. That’s the best part about it. It’s a way of being able to express to the world what is happening in the moment of now.

dj

LA: We spoke about our common love of the very diverse sounds of Motor City Soul. What is this music and what does it mean to you?

D: Detroit in itself has its own rhythm. I feel like there is just an essence (soul) of the city itself. Also, the music history, in all its genres has been so thick. If you are a native, it’s impossible for that not to have an effect on you. I know people from Detroit who aren’t even musicians and know the same information about music that I do. It is just part of life out there. That’s why I always love learning new stuff that comes out of there. A lot of time I really try to not judge it or classify it as a genre because there is something new coming out there all the time, its just music.

Virtually everyone that has made music in that City has inspired me in some way or another. Aretha Franklin, Jeff Mills, Moodymann, Al Hudson, Donald Byrd, Iggy Pop, Dennis Coffee, Rick Wilhite, Theo Parrish, Marcellus Pittman, Mike and Craig Huckaby, Dilla, Royce, Andres, Kevin Saunderson, David Ruffin, to name a few. That’s not even the half when you consider the people that came through there to record on Motown, Ashford, Birdie, Submerge, Metroplex, Tamla, Sound Signature, Mahogani, Temple, Tribe, Transmat, etc. The craziest part about Detroit is that even after all I’ve mentioned, it still doesn’t scratch the surface of all of the music that has come out of there. I really have a humbling gratitude for that place when I play there.

LA: You came to house, techno, etc. by way of hip-hop and bboying. Walk me through the process of what got you into (for lack of a better term) dance music genres.

D: Well, I have always listened to electronic music. I started going to ELEmental parties when I was 14. They were a group of people that pushed the boundaries for music in Columbus. They threw awesome parties and got people together in the name of music. I grew up going to those parties and I also followed rock bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish from state to state for years. I learned a lot about all types of music from that experience alone.

Breaking

I started listening to hip-hop when I was about six years old. Eric B and Rakim, NWA, Beastie Boys, Run DMC and later on Ice T, BDP, Slick Rick, etc. Hip Hop always remained a constant in my life all throughout my endeavors and I started attempting to bboy in 1996 but never took it seriously until 1999. I’ve pretty much been dancing ever since. Give or take injuries here and there. Through that I learned several other types of dance like house, salsa and freestyle. I would just go to the club and dance forever. During that process I would dig for all the music I heard at bboy jams or house clubs, etc. I travelled a lot so I was always hearing what was brand new and during the time there was a lot of stuff coming out. I would dig in whatever way I could, whether I was at the record store, online, through people and mixtapes, record shows, flea markets, etc. Just to be able to find that music, and when I began taking djing seriously around 2005, everything just fell into place. I began djing bboy battles and people liked what I played so I decided to get more involved and do it somewhat professionally for some time.

Dancing

LA: What does the art of DJing and music production mean to you?

D: Djing to me is like telling a story or giving a description of your experiences in life. All of the music I play I have found a deep personal connection with and I want to share that with the listener. I approach djing also from the standpoint of educating the listener as well. A lot of music was never made popular due to many reasons like poor advertisement, lack of financial backing, etc. A lot of times those artists were truly gifted and had a lot to give to the world. I believe people deserve a chance to hear that. I dig for records to be able to share that music with other people.

Records

I am still trying to find my sound with music production. I also haven’t been able to fully set up my studio as well and it’s killing me. I think music is a universal language and if you come at it with an honest approach, people will relate to you. It has to happen freely, otherwise it doesn’t come out honest, and frankly I haven’t had the time to commit to it, although I plan to a lot in the future. I also think using actual instruments is essential. There is something about how you approach an instrument in the first place that makes your sound unique to you and you only. I have a few instruments I can play mediocrely like a bass, piano, conga, and harmonica. When I get my studio situated I definitely plan on giving a piece of myself to the world, musically.

LA: Your Musicality project has really pushed a Music first approach to shows in our town and has been hosting some of the best talent from around the Midwest–Gerald Mitchell, Rahaan, Terrance Parker, and Rick Wilhite. What is the philosophy behind the project?

D: My goal is to create an environment that is comfortable for everyone to be able to relax and come experience music they may have never heard before. It is very centered in dancing because of my background, but if you come its not a requirement to dance. I really just wanted to create a night that people know that will be a solid stream of feel good music. Music that is undeniably good and expose people to it in a way that is not too “in your face”. My goal isn’t even to make money off of the night, its more so to be able to bring people here that would normally never come and play in Columbus on a regular tour. So far it has really worked out and I have a lot of surprises in store. I plan on throwing special events with some fairly big names in the future. I also would like to expand and bring more people from Ohio in general to my nights. It’s always a good time and I have gotten a lot of good feedback from people. Im definitely not going anywhere and plan on throwing larger events in the future! Hope to see everyone out. 

Check out the rest of Dedikate’s extensive mix back catalogue at his Mixcloudfollow Musicality Columbus on Facebook for updates on their next shows, check out their websiteAND go to Musicality tonight!

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.

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