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

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

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

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

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

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

archtyp

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

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

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

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

Ed Luna aka Lunar

Ed luna

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

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

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

Circuitry Room7 (1)

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

Kevin Kennedy aka FBK, Powerhouse, Sleep Engineer:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike Textbeak:

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

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

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

Scott Litch of Squared:

Scott Litch

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

Steven Wymer aka tactil vision + djvd:

Post 90--Tactil Vision

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

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

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

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

“ele_mental is simply… just that.

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

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

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

In the moment

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

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

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

Nebula

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

Flyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sound Of Plaid - large

I did my second spot on Trademark Gunderson & Frillypant’s Sound of Plaid Radio Show two weeks back. You may remember my first spot on the show in November. You can listen to that HERE. This time around we played some local music, some old & new music, talked big ideas, and had a great time. Take a listen when you get a chance.

Tracklisting: Click on Artist Name for more info
(Band — Song)
Jay Dee — Airworks
Elizabeth Waldo — Balsa Boat
A Tribe Called Red — The Road
The Fallen — Raw Times
sKewn — Circling
Jeff Central — The Day Of Attack
Druid Cloak — Sun Elf
Glass Teeth —BB EYEZ (FUNERALS Remix)
tactil vision — illusion
Glacier 23 — The End Track
Walleye — Burn 4u
Mike Shiflet —1917
Mike Shiflet — Zahlentheorie
The Evolution Control Committee — The Fool On The Hill (Major-Minor Swap, incomplete)

I was milling around on the internet and compiling links for the multitude of work that has come out of our city over the past few months. Man, I was seriously impressed. There were a multitude of mixes, original production, and live events that just blew me away. I figure I would do the community a solid and put together a rough list of some of the recordings that have been posted online from people in our community. This is obviously not exhaustive, but consider this a first attempt to update the sorely outdated archive. All the listing are in alphabetical order and numbered so you can see that there are 27 unique pieces of music to explore. These numbers do not correspond with a ranking. They are given more so you can see each piece of music as a unique entity and to give you a sense for our overall aggregate output over the course of 2-4 months as an artistic community. If you like someone’s work try to look more deeply into their other releases and go see them live! (Note:  If I have missed you send me a link and I will put you up here. Also, feel free to point anyone in this direction if they are saying that Columbus doesn’t have a thriving “electronic” music community.)

1.) 9star: “Tangible Thoughts”

2.) Aaron Austen: Promo Mix

3.) The Beat Oracle Radio Show: “Saturated”

4.) Ben Bennett: Spoilage (New LP out on Jeremy Bible’s Excellent Experimedia Records)

5.) B-Funk: Thump Show

6.)  Bohno: Sink Deep

7.) Burgle: Jack Shack TV Mix

Burgle 53 Min Jack Shack DJ Set by Jackshacktv on Mixcloud

8.) Conner Campassi: GRVTY

9.) Creamz: Basement Sessions 002

10.) Crucial Taunt: Frito Flip

11.) Dave Espionage: Jack Shack TV Mix

Dave Espionage 51 min Jack Shack DJ Set by Jackshacktv on Mixcloud

12.) DJ Push: There Was Sun

13.) Doctor Zapata: Promo Mix Enero 2013

14.) Doctor X — His latest mix “Ambient Evening” on his Perscriptions Radio Show

15.) Druid Cloak: The Groove EP

16.) Dustin Knell:BACK & FORTH: A LOVE/HATE Mix

17.) The Fallen: “Live at BLUR”

18.) FBK: “Where Their Love Still Exists”

19.) FBK: “In This Deadly Light”

20.) FUNERALS, Druid Cloak, and Others (BOO SRA Remixes):

21.) FUNERALS: Vessel Mix 2012

22.) George Brazil: Jack Shack TV Mix

George Brazil 59 min Jack Shack DJ Set by Jackshacktv on Mixcloud

23.) Hawstyle’s Most recent mix on his Bus Bass Show:

24.) jMac: January Promo Mix

25.) Kevin Parrish: Squared Online Podcast

26.) Lower Frequency: Squared Online Podcast

27.) Midislut:

28.) Mike Shiflet: “Secret Thirteen Mix”

29.) Mike Shiflet: Three Tracks from new LP “The Choir, The Army” 

30.) NetworkEDM: Post Day-Glow Hangover Mix

31.) Ohioan: “Buoy”

32.) Plural: “The Beatings Continue”

33.) Quality: February Live Recording

34.) roeVy: PROXY – Raw (roeVy remix)

35.) Self Help: Jack Shack TV Mix

Self Help 50 Min Jack Shack DJ Set by Jackshacktv on Mixcloud

36.) Single Action: Bus Bass Mix 55

37.) Sybling Q’s most recent mix on his Q Factor Radio Show

38.) Tactil Vision: “savage”

39.) Titonton Duvanté: Live Mix 2012

40.) Todd Sines: Live at Mister H

41.) Tony Fairchild: February Jack Trax

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

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

“Nanomal”

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

“Destroying Anger”

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

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

“Focused Intesnity”

“Without Wires”

Buy the album at this fine outlet:

Beatport

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

The Fallen on Soundcloud

FBK on Soundcloud

Plural on Soundcloud

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

After an amazing year in 2011, the release of FBK’s Absoloop 002 – Abandonmental EP today finds the Columbus based artist reaching new heights of creativity in his production work. 2011 was a monumental year for FBK. With the inclusion of his track “Nanomal” in Marcel Dettmann’s highly acclaimed mix Conducted, a string of successful for EP releases like his The Moment Before I Snap EP, and the starting of his Absoloop record label, FBK reinforced his reputation as a top flight producer devoted to pushing the boundaries of dance music. Building off this success, FBK stomps into 2012 with the release of the Absoloop 002 – Abandonmental EP. Not only does this new EP highlight FBK’s characteristic aggressive, hypnotic sound, but also finds FBK reaching new heights in creative expression. Each track highlights FBK’s ability to find different pathways to crafting an infectious, undeniable rhythm, while exploring new realms of sonic innovation. Few artists are able to couple rhythm and sonic innovation in such a sonically pleasing manner as FBK has done in this release. No doubt, this marks another monumental step forward in FBK’s artistic development, and sets the artist up for another very successful year. Yet, there are numerous other points to this release, which reveal the road ahead for FBK. Don’t believe me? Check this video FBK himself created for his track “An End and Beginning” off the AB 002 release:

The cohesiveness of FBK’s Abandonmental EP reveals key clues as why FBK’s artistic work will be so exciting in the next year. This release isn’t just composed of four separate tracks put together randomly. FBK carefully curated the Abandonmental EP to express his take on the various soundscapes that exist on the edges of society. Though each track diverges in its individual expression, they all are united by a common theme of articulating the sounds characteristic of long abandoned locales or mindsets. I can just hear each one of these tracks telling the story of a different lost idea or factory from our past industrial age. This type of conceptualization shows the mark of a fully matured artistic force that only has amazing things ahead of him as he continues to release unique works of art into 2012.

Beyond these reasons, FBK has deep roots in the midwest techno music scene and understands the need to make and release music that stands the test of time. FBK has been a foundational force in Columbus and Midwest dance music since the 1990’s. Growing up in the heyday of dance music in the Midwest, FBK was a member of the foundational Columbus based ele_mental crew and has gained support from the likes of the legendary Claude Young. From these experiences, FBK has learned to create his own artistic voice and release music he believes will endure well beyond the fades of the moment. This motivation to create and release the timeless drives FBK’s production work on the Abandonmental EP and the music he releases on his record label Absoloop. For this reason, its important to not just pass up what FBK is doing with this release or any of the music he intends on releasing in the future. This is the year FBK & Absoloop put Columbus techno back on the map, as one of the strongest scenes in the U.S.

Make sure to stay up to date on all the happenings with FBK and Absoloop records by liking FBK on his facebook page and following him on soundcloud. Did you know FBK’s first release on his record label Absoloop 001: Adventures into the Loop was just as epic as this most recent installment? Well, pick it up at his bandcamp site HERE. The Abandonmental EP will be followed up very briskly by the third installment of the Absoloop series within the next few months, so keep your ears open for updates on release info.

Buy the Abandonmental EP today on any of these fine outlets. Its a Monster. You will not be dissappointed.

Juno

itunes

7digital

Amazon

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

You know the drill. FBK ran down his track that started it all and gave us a hot mix to get at.  He must still be in the Holiday spirit, because now he is dropping an exclusive track for Local Autonomy for free for all of us.

FBK “Face Defeat”

Now that we got that hot new track we get to delve deep into the stories and insights of a man who has been DJ’in in Columbus since 1988. He is uniquely positioned to help us understand the ebs and flows of our scene historically and point out new ways of thinking about DJ’in, production, and our future as a scene.

Interview:

LA: Few people in our community know who you are FBK, despite the fact that you have been spinnin’ here since 1988. Hell, I had to go find you on the internet to get a hold of you. For those people who don’t know you, Who are you FBK?

FBK: My ‘real name’ is Kevin Kennedy, I have been known as Powerhouse, the Sleep Engineer, and “that fat guy,” “hey you…” and also “oh god…him again…” which to many I’m still known by that last one 😉

LA: How did you get into EDM music and our scene?

FBK: Good question…first off I prefer the term “Dance Music.”  EDM seems to be an ‘industry’ term used to categorize music that isn’t rock n’ roll…popular dance music is considered EDM.  I got into Dance Music by being a child of the 70s and hearing disco (as my mother was a clubgoer at times)…and by hearing all of the music coming out in the 1980s…like Cybotron’s Clear, Herbie Hancock’s Rockit…and all of the hip hop coming out of New York…and also getting mixtapes from Chicago’s WBMX in the mid-late 80s…

LA: You have been DJ’ing in Columbus and around the country since 1988. What is it about the music and spinning that keeps you coming back? What does the act of DJ’in mean to you? How does it make you feel?

FBK: I guess it’s that aspect of performing that has kept me playing records for all this time…I love to perform!  There is an exhilaration and a release that can only be understood by stage performers that may be one of the most addictive substances known to man…The act of Djing for me is like being a drummer-everyone in the audience is dancing to whatever beat you’re putting out…the sense of controlling a crowd, moving people, and creating FEELING-which seems to be lost on many these days-is a form of joy and power that I cannot really describe in words.  Cathartic maybe?

LA: How did you get your start DJ’in?

FBK: I started in the late 80s…collecting records, playing sounds I liked on my home turntable…and then learning how to creatively make collages with cassettes…I then moved on to learning about the art of Djing while watching guys breakdance at the Salesian Boys Club downtown in Columbus.  I got to learn a little bit…began watching a bunch of DMC competition videos…flash forward to 1990, I began to work with my longtime friend Eric Weaver, who had turntables in his basement…I started learning more and more, Kennon Hughes (the incredible Mean Skeme) also played a GIANT role in my development as a DJ-I wanted to be a hip-hop DJ (or a DMC champion)…but that never happened…

LA: Do you remember the first set you ever spun? What was it like?

FBK: Honestly?  I don’t.  I remember the first time I played records at a house party…it was an ele mental crew New Years Eve gig…I played experimental electronic music at the time…not really wanting to play dance stuff (artistic academic bullshitter that I was;)…I remember Mark Gunderson playing after me…and I remember he told me “great stuff…love the sounds…”  I was stoked…and that may have been my downfall!  (laughs)

La: When did you start working on the production end? How did you start building tracks?

FBK: My first production studio was actually a failed attempt at a hip-hop recording facility.  I had all the wrong equipment to make hip-hop at the time-no sampler, no drum machine…okay I had an alesis sr-16 (this is 1994 we’re talking about)…I had very little and no earthly idea what I was doing…so I just made sounds and sounds and sounds…recording things to a tube reel-to-reel (which I had rebuilt while in High School).  I was working in my studio 8 hours a day, 16 hours a day when I wasn’t working…and I made a track or two each day.  I pushed myself the same way I was pushed while in Poets Of Heresy (the hip-hop group I was a part of from 90-96)…and then started meeting people like DAC Crowell, Paul Johnson…and Detroit’s Anthony Shakir(aka Shake) and Dan Bell (aka DBX).  They took either interest or pity in a kid who was all enthusiasm…and showed me the ropes…

LA: You have been putting out tracks at a prolific rate. What is it about producing that you love? How do you keep innovating and pumping out new tracks?

FBK: I record because it’s my escape.  I work because sitting on my hands leads to other problems, like doing nothing and being passed by…or not being ready when someone asks me for a demo…I love to make music to play in my own sets…and making music that sounds great on a loud soundsystem that NO OTHER DJ HAS IN THEIR COLLECTION makes me stand out from the pack a little.  If I was to share every other track I create…well, I think I’d need more space on the web..and people would think I don’t have a real job-which by the way…I do:)

LA: You obviously love Techno music, as it is the genre you have been so immersed in for so long. What is is about techno you love so much?

FBK: I love techno because it is the most broad genre of them all.  House can be techno…minimalistic funk is considered techno…I have no clue what the hell I’m making but people call it techno.  I like to call my music HYPNOTICA…for its looping, hypnosis-inducing power.  I’ve really given up on genrefication…mainly because it pigeon-holes a musician or a group…kind of like what the first settlers did to the Native Americans when they came to this land-put everyone in a box, take away the individuality and attempt to paint a picture with one broad stroke.  But in dance music, genre is sometimes important-except when you are trying to attract a crowd.   I have said and proven several times that if you never tell anyone what they are going to hear…they start dancing and then ask “what is this? Where can I get more???”

LA: Who are your biggest artistic influences?

FBK: Let’s see:  Andreas Segovia, Ludwig Von Beethoven, John Adams, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Can, Terry Riley, Phillip Glass, DJ Premier, Akufen, Sonny Stitt, Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Miles Davis…The Buzzcocks, Sonic Youth, Claude Young, Etta James, Billie Holliday, The Bar-Kays, Bad Brains, Howlin’ Wolf, Led Zepplin, Motorhead, Slayer…anything that I have listened to that’s been polarizing, powerful, or just interesting…has probably influenced my work more than I’ll ever know….

LA: You spoke to me about how important other genres of EDM and other styles of music are to your creative process DJ’in and producing. What do all these different styles of music do for you creatively?

FBK: Having a classical background gave me a language to speak…most good dance music deals with first order counterpoint.  Styles of music that people don’t hear by devoting full attention to dance music gives a lesser frame of reference in my opinion…just because you grew up listening to bluegrass, as an example…doesn’t make you an expert on country, does it?  Learning to appreciate all that is available to you that isn’t garbage, mass-produced pop music gives one a perspective and honestly-something to compare emotions to, compare feelings…and maybe contrast or find similar ideas in divergent forms of music.

LA: You just started a record label Absoloop. What has that been like? Are there challenges you didn’t forsee?

FBK: I am now probably more busy than I have ever been…and I have some clue as to what the heck is going on…but I cannot even look at it!  The challenges I seem to face now, are how to NOT be a spammer, yet get the word out…my good friend Daleford Chad has assisted in this manner…

LA: You have gotten a lot of positive feedback from European labels and artists. What has it been like for people across the pond like Marcel Dettmann to hold you down?

FBK: Hold me down?  I think they’re holding me up;)  I’m really overwhelmed with the attention to be honest.  In my day-to-day life, I can look at some of my accomplishments, conversations, and experiences I’ve had JUST IN THE LAST YEAR and really smile..I’m really blessed.  I’ve been working on my sound and my music (as well as my personal self) for 18+ years now…and it’s humbling to be noticed.  Talking to Marcel, emailing him back and forth, and realizing that there are many who wished they could have 5 minutes of his time or get him to listen to just ONE of their tracks-Marcel’s playing some of mine, and then telling me that Ben Klock’s asking him what it is?  Are you kidding me?  That is wonderful!  I thank Paul Mac and Arne Weinberg for giving me a platform when nobody else would at the time…and Anthony Shakir who really started my worldwide exposure.

LA: You have been collaborating with Plural on a new project called The Fallen. What has it been like to collaborate with someone you have known for over 15 years?

FBK: Funny story and fact:  James and I played several events together, knew each others work quite well, but probably said 7 words to each other throughout the 90s.  We talked about this after a session once, and we agreed that it was probably because we saw the other as a ‘rival’…both of us were gunslinger-types…the kind of guys that would play on the undercard of a party-and try to upstage the main act…just to get proper’s from the performers we respected….hell it worked!  James and I both got the attention of people like Shake, Claude Young, Dan Bell, Alan Oldham, Cari Lekebusch and many, many others.  What has it been like to work with him?  Dangerous!  James and I probably work better together than any one person I can mention-it reminds me of all the work that I did with one of my very first mentors, DAC Crowell of the Aerodyne Works (who really gave me some of the best lessons in audio engineering and sound design I’ve ever had).  There will be at some point a live show…where there will be very little preplanning…and about 7 words or less spoken during the entire set…we don’t talk once the music starts…we just get it right and then record it live…it’s powerful.

LA: You are uniquely situated to help us understand how the Columbus EDM community has changed over time. How has our community changed from when you got involved to today?

FBK: When I began to become a clubgoer in 1991-92, I was way young…was already semi-well known on OSU’s campus for my role in Poets of Heresy, and was interested in learning about EVERYTHING.  I learned from people like Charles Noel (Cro2, Archetyp), who was playing in a seminal Columbus group called Body Release.  He and I had met through a mutual friend, and our bands played some shows together…I got into this music for the music itself….hearing things like the ‘days of our lives’ remixes on Reinforced, Enforcers, and even hearing Gabber played.  Most of the people in the scene were not only friendly, but information was passed along and shared with those just learning.  Kids weren’t shooed away-they were encouraged to join in.  During the 90s, there was a period of great excitement-Rock bands were being signed to major labels and getting national exposure, there was a big hip-hop scene, and during that time, I was really involved with all of these scenes in one way or another…either as participant or observer.  I was getting a first-hand education by people who loved the music more than anything else…and then…

    That education process stopped when many of my contemporaries either graduated from college, left the city or got a family and a ‘real life.’  The people that were left in the scene at the time were the younger kids, who didn’t get the message to pass on the history and customs, and the drug dealers (who had the money and the connections to throw events) were left to tell the stories to the uninitiated.  The reality is (and this is my opinion having been there) that the generation that I came up in basically gave it up for dead-and the drug dealers just marketed to these newbies like they were selling them Pepsi or Adidas sneakers-The dealers were taking the risk using their money to throw parties, so they’d book who they wanted, and their friends who were djs.  And if you were on the outside of that game…you had a hard road to get in, if you could at all.  There was a shift that happened, people stopped going to parties to dance and enjoy the music.  Not saying there were no drugs and dealers early on, mind you…but you could say it was maybe 80/20 favoring the music.  The shift happened when Raves started getting busted, when Columbus police (who we used to have as security at our parties, mainly for noise complaints) were no longer allowed to work events, and when many of the south campus bars disappeared (Mean Mr. Mustards, Maxwell’s, The Pit) so that the South Campus Gateway could be built.

At one time, the promoter and the drug dealer were two separate entities.  When money became an issue, and the promoters wanted to bring bigger acts to town, the drug dealers had the money and sometimes would help-since they were around the scene-for them it was an investment…then the drug dealers realized that they didn’t need the promoters to launder their money.  The dealers begin to throw parties by themselves-with the assistance of some of their friends…who were also into the drugs but kinda liked the music.  So now, you had a situation where the drugs became more important than the talent.  You could throw a huge party with a local line-up and make money…the music wasn’t the product they were most interested in selling the people though.  This type of merger/takeover changed the dynamic and the look of parties and shows…artists who were playing all over the world were tired of being jerked by the shady promoters, so it became harder to do anything right…people who loved the music still couldn’t make their money back on shows for various reasons…sometimes because the other in-town promoters were throwing rival parties…it became less community and more cacophony.  The spirit of Peace Love Unity and Rave (PLUR) got destroyed by Cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy.  I moved in 1998, while running a successful weekly at Maxwell’s, moved to Charlotte, North Carolina and gave my night to Jason Lyman (which I believe was his first residency in Columbus). 

     The people who couldn’t get in the game who were watching all this whole time, learned part of the game from the dealers-and whether they did drugs or not, inherited that same sketchy vibe that permeated the late 90s-early 00s scene in Columbus (and elsewhere as well) is in existence today.  Some may not like my view of it, but look at any party or club night from the last 6 years here, and tell me how many names you see once, and how many names you see on nearly every event?  Are those the only people in this town who play music?  No…but they hustle.  No disrespect…but part of the hustle is to keep the hustle going…and inviting new players into a game you’re running can ruin that level of control.

LA: How is it that you have such little visibility in our scene today? Where has the techno music gone in our scene?

FBK: First of all, I work nearly 60 hours a week.  My free time is quite limited, and I don’t have set hours.  I have a lovely home life, a woman who I love dearly, and I have music to make.  I have a label to promote.  When I stopped getting invited to play, I had to do something for myself-so I record and send music out to the rest of the world.  The promoters in town know who I am, at least I think they do, since many saw me playing in the 90s when we began to build this scene together.  Where has the techno gone?  It’s gone to other styles of music.  Some have said that it cannot be done, that like Eminem said: “nobody listens to techno…”  He’s right-nobody listens to it…they DANCE TO IT!!!!  However, when you tell someone “you’re going to hear TECHNO…” it begins a connotation of what that means-techno is bad, house is good, black hat, white hat…good versus evil?  It’s all in marketing.  The easiest way to get someone to listen to new music, or good music, or realize that they should go to an event is by simply expressing that it will be a FUN NIGHT OUT, not telling someone it’s going to be a techno show, a dubstep show or what have you.  You can write a bio and description of what I do and never mention my ‘style of music’ except to maybe say ‘easily danceable, hypnotic, funk-laden bass heavy grooves.’  Allow people to have prejudice, and they will.  Bank on your reputation of bringing great events, and book great Djs…and let them decide whether or not it’s a good time (once they’re in the door:)…less sideshow bob and more P.T. Barnum!  I am however VERY glad that there is still a scene for dance music, and that it has not been erased through time….it’s wonderful that there are young people that still find something in this music I/we love-the future isn’t me-the future is the people who love the music getting others involved for the sake of the music itself!

LA: What would you deem the ideal future for the Columbus EDM community? What role do you wanna play in bringing about that future?

FBK: The ideal future?  I see it in a re-emerging scene like Pittsburgh.  Aaron Clark and VIA are doing some great promotion and throwing great parties that are well-attended, and a blast to be at.  What has been done there is to get the people who have international recognition (Shawn Rudiman for one) to get involved, and bring people in who know Shawn (like my good friend Claude Young, who currently lives in Japan) to play together.  You get three things- a great show,  a bit of respect for your hometown people who do it RIGHT, and top-flight international talent in your backyard.  Ideally, Columbus can do this again-there’s enough attention on Djs here in town and enough great talent here that we can get back to what made this scene so respected in the 90s…because seriously, Pittsburgh’s current situation is rinsing Columbus’-and I want to see that change!  There are a few of us who were not playing locally and just working on sending out our music overseas, creating new friendships and relationships with labels, performing elsewhere…yet staying here in the city for our own reasons.  Respect to those who keep the scene in Columbus going-those people are necessary-I just want to let the city know that indeed there are people who live in town who are known worldwide…and would love to play here…and bring our friends that we’ve met along the way:)

LA: In our discussion, you proposed to me the importance of community, but also healthy competitiveness for the artistic expansion of our scene. what role do you think a healthy amount of competitiveness could play in the future development of our scene?

FBK: Yet another reason to bring in talent from elsewhere.  When I came up, you had to fight to get heard-we used to say ‘sets are short…play hard.’  Everyone was a dj at that time-and all of us were in competition to be on the next lineup, the next club night…the next resident at a bar on south campus…only so that we could have a bigger stake in our own future…or even just a steady gig to play to supplement our record buying habit (me).  Community is important-you get to know who is who and build a social base…but competition makes hungry Djs continue to develop, and young Djs pay a price for not being skilled enough to play out yet.  We have accepted ‘good enough’ for far too long that ‘good enough’ means you have some equipment and the right connectors for the house system.  Everyone now seems to be content with being tied for third in a race.  Djing is a marathon, not a sprint-and yes, in a marathon there’s a lead pack usually, where the leaders trade off from time to time to save energy.  When the final mile comes?  It’s every man or woman for themselves-an out-and-out battle.  None of these guys will try to upstage each other-it’s not in their makeup anymore…it’s like playing out is good enough.  You bring in someone from elsewhere and let them raise the bar for the crowd-and then you, the local DJ, try to either raise it further or at least rise close to it.  Competition is the first casualty of our ‘safer society.’  Children need to know that there are winners and losers, just like in life.  Losing doesn’t make you a bad person or less worthy to be alive-learn from it, and find a way to become a winner.  Ancients like myself believe in this.  Fair is something you go to in the summertime.  A challenge is everyday life.  Survival is real.  Failure is an option-but if you never try to be more than what you are, you’ve failed yourself…and as a performer?  You fail the audience.  This scene was built on people who were REACHING-trying to do something that couldn’t be done or had not been done before.  Now, the only people who take risks are those who have drive.

LA: You also talked to me about the importance of education and the role of the older generation teaching the new generation history and technique. What are some ways that you think we could facilitate this education today?

FBK: Education has really been taken out of the hands of the DJ and the producer…and in many ways, the promoter has taken it out of their own hands by letting their audience tell them what is cool.  Cool is merely a disease…not something you buy, or something you listen to.  The internet, Digital Download sites, and mass marketing tend to educate the new generation, as they are the first to really not have magazines and physical media like we grew up with.  The best way to educate the ‘newbies’ may be to give them what they think they want…and surprise them with something that isn’t what they ‘know’ but something that they can feel, hear, interact with-stop letting them know what’s coming…and give them what they SHOULD hear.  The role of the dj is not to be a jukebox, it’s (in my opinion) to be an arbiter of taste.  Don’t tell-SHOW people what they should listen to, what they should like…maybe that helps, maybe that polarizes…however, it gives a response that’s deeper than “me too.”

LA: Why is this education important to you?

FBK: It’s importance is in the fact that all of us behind the decks and behind the scenes have a responsibility to make the scene stronger.  You can do that by giving energy to people-by going from just merely good to GREAT.

LA: You said Music has been a part of your life since you were 7 years old. What role has music played in your life?

FBK: Music is the only woman that has never left me.  It’s the only thing in my life that has been pure, that has loved me with no strings and no regrets.  It’s my lifeblood.  It is the only thing that I have in my life that isn’t a person that is always real to me.  I have devoted a life to music, and it has rewarded me by allowing me to put my thoughts in a language few understand.  Music has been the one thing besides my faith in God that has stood by me in the darkest hours of my life…from homelessness to depression, to loss, to fears, hopes, desires.  How could I turn away from something like that?

LA: what impact has the switch from vinyl to computers had on DJ’in, Production, and how music is listened to today?

FK: This is a loaded question, and I will answer carefully:  Computers are some of the most wonderful things ever to be created by man on this earth.  It allows me to talk to my business partner, Daleford Chad, who is in the UK (who has seen me play in the US, yet I’ve never met him)…has it made it easier?  Absolutely.  Everything comes at a price and has a tradeoff.  The nice thing is that you don’t have to carry around 3 crates of vinyl now to play a 2 hour set.  You don’t have to carry much at all anymore.  It has allowed people who were never shown the dark art of playing a record-and didn’t grow up with records in their home a chance to be a DJ.  It’s easier to be a dj in some respects than to be a guitarist-you need other people to form a band…all you need is music and a way to mix it to be a dj now.  Does it take ‘artistry’ out of it?  Sure…maybe.  But artistry and the ability to rock a party don’t come from the delivery medium (either physical or virtual)-Showmanship, crowd controlling, and skill come from the performers themselves.  I have played on nearly every style or type of setup you can imagine, and some you’ll never see again. I was one of the first people (according to Fanon Flowers and a few others) to use a computer for sequencing in my live shows, I was an early adopter of Final Scratch (one of the original digital vinyl systems and precursor to Serato) and Traktor, and I used it so that I could play my own recordings.  I love my vinyl, but I love playing my own music more…so I play how best I can deliver it to a crowd-whatever I use, I am going to rock the place…and leave a lasting impression.  Why even leave the house if you don’t feel that way?

 In closing, I want to deliver a message to the scene-THE SCENE IS ONLY AS STRONG AS THE WEAKEST PERSON YOU ALLOW TO KNOW NOTHING.  The participants (Djs, party-goers, promoters, club owners) are only as powerful as we allow.  To those who keep this scene running-Thank you!  To those who want more-DEMAND IT. It’s your right-nobody should be allowed to dictate where you spend your time and your money…if you want more, and it is provided-please support it!  That’s how this scene moves forward!

Clockin’ in at 27 minutes, this mix is one of the shorter ones featured in this series. Yet, that means very little, because what is featured here is straight fire. There is no fluff, just one uninterrupted mutating rhythm that slides you through an ever evolving soundscape. FBK himself uses the word hypnotica to describe his works. I think thats incredibly fitting because no genre classification could really capture what he tries to do with his production or DJ work. Instead, I feel FBK’s work is much more akin to the genre blasting & bending that is very common in the witch house/ chillwave/ whateveryouwanttocallit scene. He is melding the best elements of ambient/acid house/ house/ tech house/ techno to express his sonic vision to us. This blend is nothing more than a new genre of FBK’s own creation that is simply hypnotic and entrancing.

For this reason, classification labels are useless. Yet, there is one quality that unites all of FBK’s work: Rhythm. Yes, that may seem like a simplistic statement, but it is an essential quality that any dance music artist must possess. Rhythm was so important to seminal artists like Robert Hood, that he created his own expression of techno in the early 1990’s to fully explore Rhythm free from other musical elements. FBK not only possesses rhythm, but has the power to harnesses and shapes it for his own purposes. Listen to this mix and try to tell me that their is no rhythm. I DARE YOU. It oozes out of every second of the mix, and it is even present in the silent moments in transitions between tracks. Yet, FBK’s manipulation of rhythm is not the only shining point coming out in this mix.

Composed of all original materials created by FBK himself, the Road Hypnosis Mix is a testament to the dualistic nature of DJ’ing & production, and how embodying both these roles allows one to become a storyteller. Often, the tracks a producer creates can play an integral role in the stories the DJ wants to tell his audience. This is surely the case for FBK, as all the tracks he creates play an integral role in allowing him to be a sonic story-teller while at the helms of the decks. Yet, this isn’t FBK’s first rodeo. Thats what I find so special about this mix, as it shows how a seasoned artist melds together the act of production & DJ’ing to tell stories that resonate with him at some level. The story FBK tells in the Road Hypnosis isn’t closed to interpretation to him alone though. Rather, Its open for us to find our own meaning and moments. Explore this mix and see where it takes you.

These reasons and numerous others make it hard for me to pass up FBK’s work. He is a cat that has stayed in Columbus and continued to follow his musical dreams. Like so many of us, he longs to express himself through DJ’ing and performing. It is this expression of who we are in so many artistic forms that connects us all together. Though ideas of success, fame, age, gender, race, religion and numerous other distinctions threaten to separate us, the fact that we all find meaning in dance music and want to hold down OUR Scene and OUR city provides us the tools to unite and build a community that rivals any scene in the country.

To me, building a strong scene is not about numbers or getting the latest greatest superstar DJs. Those are all great perks of a strong scene, but its more about how we push and help each other develop as human beings and artists. My hope is that we continue  to collaborate on the production of grassroots events, mixes, & originals  to build up the community around us. Its an old, overused adage, but remains true to this age; Together We are Strong, But Alone We are Nothing. In the absence of large nightlife industries, Super-clubs, and large swaths of capital backing dance music events, all we have is each other. All we have is our guerilla marketing, our devotion to artistic development, and the ability to come together at events and show that our scene matters. We are not New York, Las Vegas, London, or Ibiza. We are COLUMBUS, OH and that is something to be proud of. We are the underdog. We always have been, but don’t always have to be. Its just important to always remember who we are as a scene and privilege OUR artists and OUR events first before any event featuring some random superstar DJ who has no idea who any of us are. It is only then that other scenes will be jealous of us and emulate us, because we will be one COMMUNITY devoted to the betterment of everyone around us.

Make sure you check out my exclusive interview with FBK this friday where he discusses how the merging of younger and older generations of Columbus Dance music artists could provide another way to strengthen our scene even more to the radically inclusive community we all seek. If we are serious about such ideas, my hope is that we produce more events like What Next Ohio that feature artists of all different generations & styles to show where we have been and where we are going. This certainly means allowing artists like FBK & his compatriot Plural to spin alongside the younger generation. The fruit of such a collaboration will only bring us closer together and allow us to utilize the talents and connections of all people in our scene to provide more enriching artistic experiences.

As always, if you want more FBK get at his Facebook & his Soundcloud.

For those of you who intently check this site, you know I have been delving into the deepest recesses of our scene to highlight ALL the sounds coming out of our city. This entails not privileging any specific genre as the “RIGHT” or “BEST” electronic sound. Rather, I am opening myself up to the diverse forms of expression that come from electronically produced music in our scene & city. Interestingly, anyone in Columbus who is interested in finding and cataloguing our sound will be instantly rewarded with a wellspring of sonic diversity. We have artists in Columbus and the surrounding cities devoted to so many genres that at times it is hard to stay updated.

This week I want to highlight the hypnotic sounds of FBK. This artist has been DJ’in in and around Columbus since the early 1990’s and has been creating music that is gaurenteed to make you sweat on the dancefloor. FBK is not that interested in pigeon-holding himself to one genre. Instead, he draws from all strands of music relevant to his his mission of creating dark, hard driving, & hypnotic music that will get your feet moving. This DJ/producer has had a prolific pruduction output for over 10 years,  started his own record label called Absoloop, & is still dedicated to throwing down a huge set to hold down our city.  He even has time for to produce with another Columbus Based producer/DJ Plural on a side project that have called The Fallen. (Check out all their tracks on their Soundcloud HERE). Yet, I feel few people in our scene aren’t aware of this cat.

The funny thing is that FBK isn’t just some local guy producing in obscurity either. He has been held down by some of the legends in the techno with support from Claude Young & Marcel Dettman both in live sets around the world and in compilation mixes. He also has been releasing his originals for some time on record labels all over the world. Its kinda ironic that we haven’t seen him spin more in our scene when he is respected by some of the biggest cats in techno in Europe and has played all over the country. Thus, I am to reintroduce him to all ya’ll as an important artist to know. I know I am proud to call him one of our own, as much as I am proud to rep all the rest of OUR people.

This week of coverage on FBK begins today with his story of the Track(s) that Started it all. It continues on wednesday with a mix of original productions w/ commentary from me. This week ends with an amazing exclusive interview where FBK discusses his history, how he got into DJ’in & production, the history of our scene, & his views about where we are going. Without further adieu, FBK’s track that started it all feature:

“Hm…for many of us, we remember having that ‘aha!’ moment where it became clear as to what we wanted to do. I’ve been trying to pinpoint what it was that I heard that made me really start….Was it “Rockit” by Herbie Hancock (with grandmaster DXT)?

Was it hearing “Planet Rock” while watching breakdancers at the Salesian Boys Club?

Was it hearing “Egypt Egypt” by Greg ‘the egyptian lover’ Broussard?

Well…yes..yes, and yes. However, the earliest memories I had as a child was hearing disco records played by my mother, who was a sometimes clubgoer…she was also a former singer, piano player and loves music to this day (my late father was also a singer and dancer). I remember feeling the power of music-it scared me, then enticed me. Throughout my life I’ve always loved music with energy to make you feel-whether that’s been ELP’s “Jerusalem” or the Smiths “I know it’s over.” I remember hearing ‘clear’ by Cybotron, and loving it. Then many years later, hearing LFO’s track “LFO” (which was just remastered by Warp)…and thinking “That’s it!”

LFO “LFO”

If I had to say that there was a track, one track…that got me into DJing and producing…I would have to say it was “Peter Piper” by Run DMC.I had that same Bob James record (the opening track of the album ‘two’) and hearing Jam Master Jay do relays with it over an 808 beat made me want to do what he was doing. So there…an fifty dollar answer to a very short question!”

Run DMC “Peter Piper”

Bob James “Take Me to Mardi Gras”

You want more FBK? Make sure you Follow him on Soundcloud and on Facebook.

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