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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rise of a whole slew of new, young djs over the last year has been one of the more interesting developments I have witnessed. The democratizing influence of digital DJ technology has made everyones DJ dream a possibility. No longer do you need to spend hours with a mentor or a group of friends learning how to spin vinyl. Youtube tutorials are readily available to teach you all need to know about the technical skills you need to produce and mix. Gone too is the high upstart cost of buying two turntables and a stack of records to practice with. It has been quickly replaced by downloading mp3s and a copy of ableton live or traktor. Doubtless, this has resulted in a wide proliferation of an artistic form that gives meaning and enjoyment to countless people.  Yet, it has also resulted in wider social problems in the reproduction of the main values of dance music communities, which poses a problem for maintaining the community long term. 

Now let’s take one such hypothetical young dj as an example to illustrate one of the cultural problems that arises with this democratization. Let’s name her Sally. Sally has been emboldened by a few weeks of bedroom practice and the bright lights of Electric Daisy Carnival to try and book her first show.  She begins to reach out to promotors and DJs asking for a slot at their next show. Her request in most cases is met with encouragement, but some confront Sally with less than tepid response. This is not a surprising, as most established DJs and promoters do not wish to lose or give their slots to relative unknowns who did not take the established path to music scene incorporation. Would you blame them? The economics and status as stake when putting on a show necessitates that you don’t put someone on a bill unless you can vouch for their skills. Sally ends up feeling discouraged and recedes back to her bedroom to practice in isolation from the larger scene once again.

Sally is an exemplar of the shortcomings of the democratization of digitized technology, as she does not understand her outsider position in relation to the insider status of most established DJs. She does not know the cultural values, beliefs, and norms she needs to know in order to be part of a dance music scene. Youtube tutorials, traktor manuals, and most blogs don’t discuss such facets of DJ culture, and due to this Sally lacks the social capital needed to make a go of it in this DJ world. In particular, Sally’s experience highlights the continued importance of being embedded in the scene and building a social network in order to contribute to a scene. Prior to the digital age, learning to DJ often meant that you would learn these basic values, beliefs, and norms right along with the more technical skills. Today, the individualized learning path some take prevents them from learning these vital cultural values and building social networks. Much like the continued relevance of print media, peer groups are still incredibly important to the development and display of an art form. Yet,  greater democratization has massaged some of us into the belief that as rugged individuals we can go it alone from our bedrooms. (Now there are also issues of exclusion as well that I am not hitting on–one issue at a time)

This raises a few key questions: Where can young DJs go to learn these beliefs and norms and gain entry into the scene in a low risk fashion? How can we facilitate embedding these young djs into the larger community?  As a sociologist, I am always asking such questions, because I am interested in the organizations that arise in our dance music community to teach and help younger DJs succeed. One place where some young dance music fans have flocked to is Ohio State’s Electronic Music Club. The EMC has provided a venue for curious music lovers to learn about music production and the scene around them. I believe such an organization is vital to long term scene success, as it allows a low risk avenue for DJs and interested onlookers to get more involved without having to go to shows alone. Such a pathway is important to have on campus, as it provides a means to continue to build a scene and teach the next generations the values and beliefs that have kept the community going for over 40 years.

Due to the importance of organizations like the EMC,  I thought it important to sit down with Rocketnerd, EMC president, to discuss the his opinions on the group and the challenges they face. Rocketnerd also provides an interesting viewpoint of these younger DJs and the wave of democratization they are now riding, as he is a younger member of the scene that enjoys insider status within the DJ community. Enjoy.

LA: How and when did the EMC begin? Who was there in the beginning?
R: The Electronic Music Club at Ohio State was put together by David Foust, Marco Satala and Matt Weber in Spring 2010. The founders wanted to hear more electronic music around campus and they wanted to educate people on the diversity of genres available. So they put up fliers, booked a room and made a powerpoint and something like 200 people showed up to the first meeting. I met Mike Salone, Jack Herrera and the founders that night. (Sorry to anyone I’m leaving out!)

LA: What were your goals when you became president this year?
R: I was thinking of it as a responsibility to continue what David and those guys started. So the goals were something along the lines of throw shows and make money. We also wanted to get more involved with the community, which I think we’ve done. A bunch of people know the EMC as a promotional group, now, rather than “just” a student org (we were always both.) We had originally thought of doing some really ambitious stuff but I think we were getting ahead of ourselves. This club will really take off when we get someone to run it who isn’t trying to run all over the place and do everything all the time. What we really need is someone who can run it full time.

LA: How has the club evolved over the last year?
R: We’re a little leaner, now. I think we’ve (sadly) lost touch with campus as we’ve gotten more involved with the community. The shows we’ve thrown have been financial successes, and we’re now more connected to the wider community. We were working with PSG for a little while back in the fall, and we’ve done ticket giveaways for MBFP and the like. Our Facebook page turned into a spam page for promoters, so we’ve streamlined that to something of a creative sharing space. Now people are posting their tracks up, and there’s been some positive feedback. We’ve got a great group of people who regularly attend our DJ workshops, and we’re getting our production workshops back up after Dan Haaser got a job and couldn’t do it anymore (I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU. ♥)

LA: What is your vision for what you would like to do with the last quarter of your presidency in the EMC?
R: Get back in touch with campus more, throw shows, make money. We’ve got a show with a certain act that I think everyone will be pretty excited about that I’m going to be announcing soon. We’re looking forward to getting back up and running with our monthly showcase after our previous venue “closed for renovations.”

LA: What role does the EMC play in the larger Columbus Dance Music Community?
R: I like to think we’re a springboard. We pull kids in who already have an interest but don’t know much beyond what they’ve heard on hypem and then we fill out their experience and point them in the right direction. It’s better to have a generation of midi-controller DJs with some perspective. The kids want to get involved and we want to help them be constructive contributors.

LA: We discussed the difficulty of breaking into the campus nightlife scene. What have your experiences been with trying to maintain a monthly on campus?
R: Somewhat frustrating. The first thing we learned is that the campus crowd is really sensitive to weather. Since almost nobody on campus has a car, if it rains, your night is shot unless you’re right across the street. So Big Bar does alright in the rain, but Tipsy doesn’t. Also, Tipsy ,specifically had a reputation as being pretty shady. Our big opener with Tumms, Axcess, Fabyan and Pantha! in what I believe was either his last or second to last performance before the name change, didn’t jump off so good because it was raining and people didn’t want to go someplace where somebody got shot. (I don’t know details, that’s just what I’ve heard from everyone.)

We did a couple of nights there, never lost any money but never made any big moves, until finally the venue closed without notification. I heard second-hand that they were “closing for renovations,” which meant selling the place and bringing in an entirely different staff. We’re working on getting in with them so we can start the monthly back up. We aren’t going to do a monthly unless we can have a night that A) Doesn’t conflict with any other established event and Isn’t on a fairly prime night of the week. Basically, our needs have not as of yet really meshed with the needs of a venue. We’re hoping that changes. I’ve got a meeting with a venue this week to see if we can get things reestablished.

LA: What are the unique challenges and opportunities with working within a university setting?
R: On the opportunities side, we’ve theoretically got a captive audience. We’re the only University affiliated group (aside from OUAB) promoting entertainment for campus kids and we’re definitely the only ones throwing electro and dubstep parties specifically for students. The challenging part is getting drowned out by all the cheap, easy entertainment. Most of the campus crowd would rather stumble over to patio to drink swill and listen radio jams then walk a few blocks north to get down to Moombahton. They’re not there for music, specifically, but we are. It’s a hard fit.

LA: What are your opinions on the challenges and opportunities that have arisen due to the democratization of dance music DJ technology?
R: Everyone’s a DJ now, and that is simultaneously a great thing and really frightening. This has been a major bone of contention especially with more commercially-minded DJs locally, and it’s something I’ve discussed at great length. Mostly, and perhaps misguidedly, these conversations have hinged on the sync button in digital DJing environments. First of all, the sync button is not your enemy. Sure, it allows people with negligible training to not sound completely awful, but I’ve seen people completely screw up while using it. This means that it is not the universal crutch that some folks seem to think it is. The commercial guys blame the sync button for getting undercut for bar gigs. Basically, their argument is “Kid A comes in with a $7 midi controller and says ‘I’ll DJ your night for a couple of drinks,’ to which the bar manager responds ‘okay,’ which puts the highly skilled club-DJ-turntablist-wizard out of a job.” Let’s stop and think for a second who’s really screwing who.

Awesome Club DJ man charges $200 a night for a service upon which a value can be placed. A good DJ can light up a room, get people to buy more drinks etc. Now, Kid A in our example wants to play music to that same room for a much lower price. He’s not very good at mixing, but he downloaded the Billboard Top 100 Dance Music chart from The Pirate Bay the other day and he’s ready to play songs that all the ladies know and love to dance to. Do those ladies (and the guys who came to the club to objectify them) particularly care how the songs are put together? Some might. Do most? Probably not. The real force at work here is the ignorance of the club goers at commercial venues. Play songs they know, they’re happy, and they don’t really care if you just fade on out and put the other in.

For electronic guys, this poses a different set of challenges. There’s a ton of people in this town who want to play tunes and only a limited number of time slots. This means that people who have been doing it a little longer and have more experience feel squeezed out by less experience folks. Though mostly, talented people get invited back and people who need to work on their mixing go back to the drawing board. It’s the democratization that drove the EMC to start offering DJ workshops to the public. Since everyone’s a DJ, it’s hard for everyone to get the advice they need starting out. We give people who are just getting going a place for constructive feedback and guidance so they don’t get booked and then fall on their faces. We consider it a public service.

LA: What do you think the future holds for the EMC?
R: The EMC is going to keep offering workshops and throwing shows. Maybe someday we’ll get involved with OUAB and see if we can’t get someone huge to sell out the Schottenstein Center. Who knows?

LA: Switching gears to some questions about your artistic trajectory, what are your views about the utility of the use of elements of fidget house in dance music sets?
R: Oh fidget house, how you will destroy me. Okay, before you read my answer to this question, you need to listen to this song.

Crookers–Gypsy P

Okay, now that you’re back, think about the energy in that thing. Where does it come from? It’s the bass, and the samples! It’s energetic, fun, playful, driving, bouncy and a giant list of other adjectives. All of these qualities are good for lighting up a floor, but they’re also a little oppressive depending on the energy of a room. If you aren’t ready for it, fidget can be kind of corny/antagonistic. I’ve found that the use of the counterpoint sample on the ‘and’ of each beat can be extremely compelling. Listen to how the horn sample props up the kick drum and drives the whole thing forward.

That particular element can work in a number of genres, and I’ve been seeing it put to use in techno. Artist like Blatta & Inesha (techno nouveau guys) have done multiple tracks with Calvertron (Collabs like Let’s Dance and remixes on Urban Cougar, Raw Power, and Where is it?) and you can hear that counterpoint and stab style bass on their stuff.

The real problem with talking about fidget in a specific context is that it’s kind of hard to define, so you come off like a jackass half the time. It’s like porn. I know it when I see it.

LA: You have very specific views about the dangers of commercialization in music. What is your view of the commercialization of dance music and how does it impact what you try to do with your music?
R: I just think there’s a lot of emphasis on how much money an album or an artist makes. I find often people will say “Well, you gotta hand it to ‘em, they sure did make a whole bunch of money. Commercial success does not mean artistic success. Or I guess maybe it does, but that depends on an individual’s definition of success. I think of it like this; if I can move somebody with a track, I’m happy. Whenever I play something like my remix of Pussy Pussy Pussy I get a laugh and some people dance, or when I play Place of Red Willows people groove it out and that’s how I measure success. Neither of those songs have made me a dime, but I consider them successful because I learned something in the making of them and they’ve been enjoyed by people.

There’s been a lot of talk about the state of dance music and the dangers of commercialization. I think the real danger of that will be having our “secret club,” if you will, discovered by outsiders who’ll come in and not know proper b-boy etiquette, or they’ll hear a house track and say “I love techno” or they’ll make a dumb request at a more performance oriented night. None of these things are really that bad if you look at it on the scale of local scenes, which, let’s be honest, are sort of the ‘real’ places to be. All those big festivals have always been and will always be commercial showcases, and that’s fine for what they do. The people who are really concerned about overcommercialization should tighten their focus on the local scene and on people that are really doing it for the music, so to speak.

LA: You have adopted a very focused style of music you like to play and dabble in elements from other styles. Why do you think focus and deep immersion is important for your artistic approach?
R: I don’t know that it’s necessarily been important for my approach as much as it’s just been an organic development. I got stuck on a certain sound from like Crookers and Gigi Barocco. What I guess it did for me is identify me with a specific sound and a specific energy.

LA: You discussed with me your wish to begin producing more. Why do you feel it is important for you to create your own tracks?
R: I wanted to produce long before I tried to get into DJing, so I’d like to think that production has always been my passion. The truth is that I think I have something to offer in terms of a different perspective and a different creative approach that can add to the dialogue. All music, and none more obviously and viscerally than EDM, is about artists borrowing from and learning from and influencing one another and adding to this dialogue. I think I can do that, and then when I do I’ll get all famous n’ shit.

LA: How do you think your training as a historian impacts how you see the scene around you and your art of music creation?
R: My training as a historian encourages me to take the long view and try to understand things in context. So a fluctuation or a development has to be understood as an event in web of events which all influence on another. I guess it also helps me have an appreciation for samples. Since I know that no music develops in a vacuum, then I don’t get so butthurt when someone produces something really sample heavy. Basically just knowing that since the inception of EDM there has been endless mutation. Technology changes, style changes, focus changes, the definition of commercial success changes and the reasons why people get involved change. It’s best not to get too hung up on it. Just do your thing for your thing’s sake and enjoy yourself.

Check out Rocketnerds work on his soundcloud!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shogun:

Ripper:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gosteffects — Slave to Sweat (Fat and Ugly Remix)

Acid Jacks — The Sword (Fat and Ugly Remix)

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

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

Who has been waiting for this release since like October? :Raises Hand: Yep, yours truly was definitely on board with this release from the beginning. In fact, writing a post about this release was one of my first acts of writing about our scene. Now the day has finally come and this EP was just released one day early. I have gone on very long tirades about what I think these two tracks represent in Columbus (read that HERE). Thus, I will not go on too long, but both of these tracks are absolutely huge and essential listening for anyone interested in where the Columbus sound is going sonically with dance music. (You can catch Dunjinz live at Thump on February 15th.)

Not only does Dunjinz work represent a bridge to the techno innovators of our past and present like Titonton Duvante, FBK, Todd Sines, Plural & Archetype, but so does roeVy & Dirty Current’s remix work. They all build on the re-emergence of techno and and show the way forward for Columbus to reconnect with their roots, while exploring new sonic territory. So let me offer a few words on both of their remixes:

First, lets delve into the roeVy creative reinterpretation of “Albion”. You might remember me discussing the sonic vision enduced by RoeVy’s set in my write up of their performance at LeBOOM! (Get at that HERE). Well the first drop roeVy crafts in this remix is the sonic embodiment of what happens to you during a roeVy show. The fuzzed out noise places you in a disoriented state, which is shattered with the clarity of the first drop. I was not ready for what came next. The distorted beat gave way to the absolute lawlessness of the second half of the track where roeVy destroys any notion of what you thought the original was and remakes it in the vision of their own dark universe.I am glad they sounded the air raid sirens, because their track is obviously attacking any audience that dares come under its spell. Its obviously a must have.

Secondly, let’s delve into the Dirty Current track. Dirty Currents creative reinterpretation of the Dunjinz track reminds me a lot of the live wire sound of Sovnger. This remake takes the Dunjinz original and electrifies it with such a raw sound that I grimace just listening to this track. I feel at any moment my adventure into this track will end and I will be shocked with 4000 volts. Yet, any listener that is brave enough to take a trip through this track will be rewarded with the meticulous, innovative take Dirty Current make an Dunjinz original. I for one am stoked that I have gotten to hear this live, because it was an INTENSE experience to say the least. (You can catch Dirty Current next wednesday february 8th at Thump.

Pick up this release NOW on beatport HERE! Don’t even hesitate. Wait a second I see you navigating away. Where are you going? Come back and support your local dunjinz, dirty currentz, & roevyz.

The more I learn about Columbus dance music history the more I learn that it is the people devoted to the music and building the community that actually get things done. When we needed to build a scene again in the early 2000’s who did it? Individuals and groups of people left their underground house parties and took to some clubs. It wasn’t that they sought the legitimacy of the clubs as some statement for the viability of the music. Quite differently, it was just a move that had to be done at the time to keep the parties going. The lesson I cull from this integral moment in Columbus dance music history is that we don’t need any external validation. We don’t need big clubs or big press. We just need each other, some speakers, and a room. Our scene was built on crafting innovative events that coupled the best in local talent with some of the best acts from around the world. It was built on creating our own media apparatus with radio, blogs, and press. It was built on not giving a fuck what the rest of town or the world thought and holding down our city.

With this second year of LeBoom, we are pushing the boundaries and looking to continue our rise to the top of the dance music world. This show curated by My Best Friends Party is a testament to our collective attitude and our desire to continue to take that next step, and the line up shows that with the best in local and international talent on one stage. My only hope is that we aren’t just happy to be on stage with autoerotique, but that we try to show our neighbors from Up North what we are all about. Let me give you some highlights with what you are bought to witness, because its gonna pop off tonight with some dubstep, moombah, & new school techno. My hope is that you show up early and fill that dancefloor for all the artists at work. Its the ultimate sign of scene commitment and respect. Here’s the run down to preview tonight:

Kingpin

He’s gonna give you his same genre defying set that sets the dancefloor on fire. Word on the street is that he is really gonna focus on Moombah and dubstep to give you the perfect start to your evening and get you warmed up just right. His Moombah/dub styles are on full display in this mix he just created within the last month. Check it:
“Return of the Stache Jackson”

And You know there is a strong possibility he is going to play his Moombahtechno edit of Gesaffelstein’s “OPR”

ATTAK & CARMA

If Kingpin doesn’t draw you in early then these two scene heavyweights are bound to get you to Skully’s right when the doors open. The sets they have been throwing down of late individually and collectively have been absolutely bonkers. I can’t even tell you the insanity that happens when these to dub aficionados get at the helm. If you don’t believe me then listen to this mix from Thump this past week when Carma Shook Circus to its core foundation. You add a little bit of that ATTAK into the mix and it makes for explosive combination. TNT doesn’t even come close to this duo.

“Down For Whatever”

Dunjinz

You curious what happens when a guy has been DOING WORK and blowing up production-wise and then is unleashed on a crowd for the first time in over two months? UHH, I am. If you have been asleep or away for a minute then you haven’t seen Dunjinz blowing up over the past couple months. Dude’s production game is AIR TIGHT and now he gets a chance to play all these choice tracks he has been creating in his beat laboratory. With support from almost the entirety of the new school of techno in europe, this guy has knocked out track after track after track. Here’s just a few he has laid down in the last few months:

Roby Howler & Teenage Mutants feat. Sunko – Qerto Lonty (Dunjinz Remix)

roeVy — “Raum” (Dunjinz remix)

Volta – Keyboard 47 (Dunjinz Remix)

You curious about how he sounds in the mix, well you’re in luck. The guy comes correct on his exclusive mix for Local Autonomy:

Our Scene | Our City | Our Sound Mix

roeVy

Do I really need to introduce these titans of Columbus dark, driving techno/ electro house sound? If you don’t know them yet, then you should check out this video of what happens when they play live done by one of our favorite videographers Mike Harmon:

Bedlam, chaos, & mayhem are the only results to a roeVy set in skully’s. If that video doesn’t convince you check out their  “Demons EP”, which features four heart stopping originals:

Like Dunjinz, roeVy have been supported widely all over the globe and have helped put our scenes creativity and strength on display for the entire world to see. EVERY show they play proves this point over and over again. Tonight will be no different.

Autoerotique

Though I am pretty high on our local scene, these two toronto based DJs certainly have my respect. Coming off their seminal EPs “The Gladiator” & “The Freak” these DJ duo has not slowed down. They have only picked up the speed and intensity of their tracks and work ethic. This has made them one of the hottest and most sought after DJ acts in the world. They are sure to set Skully’s on fire after 1 am. Check these classic autoerotique tracks to get a taste for what they will play tonight:

Turn Up The Volume

Gladiator (Excuse the video, Some Clowns don’t get Youtube)

If this run down didn’t get you pumped I don’t know what will. At this moment, I am fist pumping and moshing around by myself in a coffee shop somewhere in Columbus. People are staring, but I really don’t care because I got the beats flowing into my headphones. You best be doing the same tonight. You need more details? I got you. Just click on the event poster above! Remember get their early and support all the artists.

1/26/12 — Plural — Lost In Thought EP — Orange 82 (UK)

1/27/12 — Roevy — Demons Remix EP — Kiez Beats

1/31/12 — Hot Mess — No Requests EP — Heavy Artillery

2/1/12 — Dunjinz — Anowara/Albion EP — THaF Records

2/14/12 — FBK — Absoloop002 Abandonmental

Got a Release Coming up. Let me know and I will Put it up.

In the Queue:

February/March — Fayban — TITLE TBD

Last time Dirty Current hit the newport stage they put down one of the best sets of the night. This performance aims to be nothing short of the same raucous, insane time that it was last time. As they say in their Track “Anubis” “This is Not a Game”.

Their show at What Next Ohio is certainly going to take the game to the next level. Their infusion of electro house, techno, & bass sounds is the infectious, delirium inducing treat we all need to showcase our scene on Saturday night. If their most recent remix of Dunjinz’s track “Anowara” is any indication of what we are in for then the pure, unbridled energy of Dirty Current may be like so many live wires that present danger, but also the opportunity for adventure.

Beyond this, I think there is great capacity for Dirty Current to go to sonic locales they are not able to outside of Scott Niemet’s KLVT parties.

If you listen closely to their KLVT mix they put together, it is easy to understand how this performance by Dirty Current stands to be one of their most complete expressions of their sound to date. They will be able to explore both the exuberance of their hard edge sound and the dark ethereal expanses within the same set. This has seldom been possible for this two music aficionados. I know I am certainly excited for what this set brings. Not shockingly, they are too, as both Conner & Marko provided interviews for this starter Kit. I will present their answers just like they DJ, side by side.

LA: If someone who has never heard you spin, how would you describe your sound?

C: I’d say that it completely depends on the party we’re playing. We could play a big sweaty party like Le Boom and play some dark & aggressive hard-hitting electro, but then for something like Sweatin we’d be ready to throw down a more well-rounded and dancey set. I like to think that we’re versatile, which a DJ probably should be if they actually want to play more than one kind of party. I don’t think I’m sure how I would describe the sound of our production though. I guess I would say it sounds dirty. And current.

M: I just spin the tunes I like, which I tend to be very picky about. You can be sure to expect lots of bassline-focused stuff and always a few surprises towards the end. I’m also a big fan of unorthodox openers

LA: What does being apart of the Ohio Electronic Music scene mean to you?

C: It’s fun. I get to meet some super-talented people, make great friends, and force my musical tastes onto others when we get to play out. And it’s pretty cool to feel like part of a growing scene.

M: I feel extremely lucky to live here and be around so much talent that’s actually accessible in terms of meeting people – I started producing due to encouragement from acts like Digiraatii and Hot Mess early on, and beyond that it was incredibly inspiring to watch them and others grow and mature which I think really paved a path for a lot of other local talent. For that I feel really lucky and grateful. It’s an incredible honor to be able to contribute to a growing scene that seems to raise the bar year after year with better and better acts popping up all the time – and of course the amazing promoters that breath life into it all. It would be impossible to do it without them.

LA: What do you think about the What Next Ohio Music Showcase?

C: It’s an awesome idea and the right step forward for the Columbus electronic music scene. Scotty always throws the best parties and has outdone himself once again. A year ago, I don’t think I would have ever expected to see local DJs get to spin on stage at the Newport.
It’s such a great, diverse lineup, too. It’s definitely going to vary from what people are used to hearing at Columbus EDM parties, and that’s exactly what the scene needs – something new that will hopefully stimulate people’s minds in a different way.
I’m really pumped to see Mike Textbeak and Funerals play to this crowd. Anyone that hasn’t seem them play at one of Scotty’s KVLT parties is in for a treat. Also, Dustin Knell is playing! It’s going to rule.

M: I think it’s a great idea! We should focus more on thinking forward in terms of how we can express ourselves and try to be bold enough to shape our own sounds instead of limiting ourselves to the constraints of popular genres. There are a number of amazing acts that I think should have made the bill, and maybe if this one goes off they can be represented in full next time.

LA: What kinda set are you gonna play? Do you have any surprises in store for the crowd?

C: I’m gonna get a little weird with it.. gonna throw in some industrial, Birmingham techno, and chopped & screwed.. it’s gonna be sweet.

M: I’m going to play a lot of minimal-bass heavy electro. I feel that most beatport top 100 electro borrows too heavily from dubstep in terms of composition. I like a repetitive and driving bassline like you would find in a fukkk offf tune or something similar; something that really grounds the genre in a sound that can’t be accomplished if the four isn’t on the floor. Too much modern electro just sounds like it wishes it was a dubstep tune to me. I’m also a big fan of rock n’ roll style electro (I’m talking china cymbals and all) and, yeah, you can always bet I’ll have some surprises in store.

Want more Dirty Current? Get at their Facebook HERE and their Soundcloud HERE for all updates and tracks.

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