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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

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!

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.

These past few weeks have found me very excited to provide some more directed pieces about community current events so that you hear the stories behind the art and events that are going. I feel this is important because it provides you a means to develop a deeper connection with the richness of the community we are all a part of. It also is a direct challenge to any person who tries to dismiss the artistic endeavors that anyone is engaged in within our city. That is one reason why I decided to do a post in the lead up to last night’s Standard show to show people the ideas and feelings behind the event (READ HERE). Without hearing what the people behind the event have to say, Its too easy to just say: “OHH, I don’t like those cliques, or their not playing my genre, or I WON’T step foot in that building.” However, once you see their side of the story, its much harder to just dismiss them.  Through their words, you can see they have larger goals of scene building and bringing new people into the community. Don’t we all have that same goal, but often get lost in our own devices to achieve it?

I think our scene should stand for a belief in the validity and beauty of art and dance events in its widest form and will not tear people down for trying to express themselves or provide experiences for us to dance in dark. This means letting go of metrics of scene success or failure and thinking about the acts of creating, learning, and community building as outcomes in their own right. Our community is not a for-profit corporation, we deal not in money and hype, but in sound, art, and human emotion. We are not concerned with flipping a profit, but with finding a meaningful human existence where the creation and sharing of art at a community level essential to navigating human existence.

Today, I want to move away from highlighting the philosophy behind a new event to detailing a DJ’s thoughts about a mix he has put together. I feel this is important, because we need to place greater value on mixes as vehicles of expression. We need more critical engagement with what mixes are saying to us and what the artist was trying to achieve with them. Too me, mixes still tell me a lot about the artists in our community. They tell me about their taste, their thoughts about sound, and how willing they are to push off the grid of certain dance music rules/norms.  I think a great place to start is DJ Bohno’s recent Sink Deep|Think Deep two part mixtape.  You may remember DJ Bohno’s “Heartbeats” mixes. They were explorations of the sounds of love through the sounds of hip-hop, R & B, House, Disco, and other genres.

He has always pushed away a one genre approach to mix-making to demonstrate how multiple genres can be put together to craft narratives about the common experiences we all share as humans. His recent Sink Deep|Think Deep mix series is no exception. Bohno has crafted a wonderful mix series that facilitates moving through the simultaneous joys and fears of life across a variety of genres. You can feel his emotions through his track selections and transitions as he paints vivid vignettes over the course of the two hour tape. (Cheers to Marko on the Excellent Cover Art as well!)

However, instead of me telling you more about the tape, I will move to a short interview I did with Paul to hear what he had to say about the mix and his relationship to sound.

Local Autonomy: What does music and sound more broadly mean to the way you live and experience life?
Bohno: Well, music has always been a big part of my life. Growing up I had 3 older brothers and the one closest to me was 6 years older. They all listened to different music so that is where I got to know sound. Andy listened to the beastie boys and nirvana. Kevin listened to radiohead and black sabbath, and Michael listened to a lot of indie and was also in a ska band himself. So at a young age I had all kinds of music thrown at me and I loved it all. I did not did discriminate against any genre or type of music when I was little. I remember loving Hanson, N’Sync, TLC, and even The Spice Girls when I was little. That attitude still holds true now. I enjoy most all music and it is evident in my DJ sets.
Music and Sound in general have always been my love in life. Some people love football, some people love neuro-science, others love writing, but I love sounds. Not just music either. But noises too. Being outdoors and hearing the loons on Weld Lake in Maine or waking up in my house in Ohio and hearing the crickets in the morning. Sounds fascinate me. They have deep rooted memories in them. And I feel like they change my mood and the chemicals in my brain a little bit more than most things.

LA: You recently changed your name from Pro Bono to Bohno. Walk me through why you changed it.
B: Trying to find a name that fits is very tough for producers and DJs alike. I remember first trying to pick a name for me about 5 years ago with my buddy Bill in Athens, Ohio. I wanted to be Kid Disko but bill said that “you shouldn’t make your name force you into a genre”. So that ruled out Disco Bloodbath too :(. Then I thought well okay, I will make it true to me. I have had the nickname Bono my whole life. It was passed down to me by my older brothers so I thought I would use that somehow. Then I thought of the term pro bono since my father and my brother are lawyers and that relates to my life as well. So I stuck with DJ Pro Bono. Later on I found out that the latin meaning of the term is ‘For Good’. Which I really liked. I have always been a happy and positive person and my DJ sets show that. They are for the good, not the evil. So I kept the name for a while. But the meaning of the law term ‘pro bono’ is to do charity work or to do work for free to help someone. I did not want this attached to my name and it making people think I play for free. DJs need to get paid too. So I recently changed it to Bohno which is much more simple and sleek. No more changes. I finally found my name.

LA: One of my favorite things about your mixes (Heartbeats & Sink Deep|Think Deep) is you use it to tell a story and provide a short narrative to orient listeners. What has drawn you to story-telling with your mixes?
B: In my mind, there is no reason to make a mix that doesn’t have some sort of ‘flow’ or ‘story line’. You might as well just put together an iTunes playlist and press play on the shuffle button if your not putting some flow into your mixes. Just like a DJ in a club has to slowly build and rise the energy. And just like they have to work with the other DJs to make the night progress slowly upwards is a short story in itself. I strive to make my mixes stories simply because that is much more interesting than just a bunch of recently popular tracks thrown together. I think of them as a journey. I have my own story in my head for each of them. But you can take them how you want. Make up your own story in your head. Whatever it makes you feel, I just want my mixes to help people. Help them maybe get over something or someone. Or maybe just help brighten their mood for that day.

LA: What story were you trying to tell with the Sink Deep|Think Deep mix?
B: I wanted to tell the story of a person who is sad. Goes to the beach to think about life. And they end up taking a journey into the deep sea to drown their sorrows. But while they are sinking, the journey changes them. I imagine them seeing massively large sea monsters and lost cities on the ocean floor. Seeing new forms of life and old ones that were lost long ago in a time unknown This changes their mind about life and they emerge from the water at the end with a new outlook on life. That ends Sink Deep. Think Deep is a prequel story about them enjoying life and embracing it. Dancing on the beach all day and all through the night, celebrating their journey and new outlook on life.
The entire mix has a feeling to it. It is heavily influenced in Garage music from Symbols Records as well as some UK Garage. But I wanted it all to sound Deep and almost like you are sinking in water. A lot of the drops are very bubbly. Sink Deep is much darker and more relaxed. And Think Deep still has all of those dark kind of bubbly flavors, but it is also uplifting and refreshing.
All of my ideas for the mixes come from current life experiences. Like I said before, sound and music are a huge part of my life and my psyche, so these mixes are therapeutic for me. They help me get through things. And I hope they help others do the same.

LA: I always see undercurrents of Hip-Hop and R & B in your mixes. Why are you so drawn to these sounds?
B: I am a 90’s kid and we are rooted in Hip-Hop, Pop Music, and R&B. Like I said, growing up I loved listening to singers like TLC, Aaliyah, Boyz II Men, etc. I also loved 90’s Hip-Hop. Artists like Nas, Tupac, Biggie, Jay-Z, and all the classics. I remember coming home from school everyday and watching BET Top 10 Live and TRL. These come ups in music influence my life still. And obviously still influence my mixes heavily as well.

LA: I know you have been hard at work on your own productions. Have you found the creative process of production different/more challenging than mixmaking?
B: The process is much different. In college, I was having troubles finding out what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. DJing helped me shape my life and find direction. At first I didn’t know what I was doing and I had to find out myself. Eventually I did find myself and what kind of DJ I wanted to be and I am finally comfortable in that now. But moving on from DJing and into production I am also trying to find out who I am as a producer. Like I have been saying, I love all sorts of music and I am a fan of so many producers out there. It is very difficult deciding what kind of music I want to make. So far I have tried my hand at some Hip-Hop, Garage, Disco House, and Nu-Disco. My roots as a DJ are in Disco and Funk influenced House music, so that was what I thought I wanted to make right off the bat, but now I am not sure sure. As you can tell my love for garage music and future bass have grown immensely this year thanks to a lot of producer friends and I have been exploring those sounds now as well. I am just trying to do what feels right to me and what comes naturally. I think eventually I will hone in my sound just as I did my DJ stylings. It is just going to take some time and work at it.

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