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We can all see the patchwork of floorboards above our heads, as we carry on our lives outside and underneath of the mainsteam monoculture. Those rickety oak 2×4’s arrayed in a weathered blanket over our heads have become our only separation from that poisonous barrage of noise and inconsequential fears that so accompany life on the surface now. Used to be that we didn’t fear being on the surface at all, but that changed some time ago. The incessant ramblings of the decaying, post-industrial society obsessed with inconsequential simulation used to stay out on the edges of our community in Columbus. It was as if those sentient swarms of ideas, sounds, and desires were fearful of entering into a space in our city where its constituent knowledge had been rejected and left for dead. We did not have to hide as much then. The noise remained much like the white noise of electricity; a sort of comforting hum of harnessed power. On the fringes of the city, we did not see this cultural cloud unleash its power on the Columbus metropolitan area with its full force. We mistook that low hum as apprehension and fear when the cloud was just leaving our isolated space for later.

However, like all sentient beings in the age of speed, this swarm of commodified simulations used its intelligence and the vast information tools at its disposal to overrun the barricades of our community. No, it wasn’t the robots or artificial intelligence. It was the very culture we have created to entertain ourselves to death that overran our free zones and made commodities out of our every thought and mode of musical expression.  Its was an ugly swarm of noise and ideas. A yellow, spectral cloud that fed off our need to be visible and be heard. Like a jackal, it stalked across our bombed out backwater seeking the diffuse strivings of human emotion it needed to survive. Unable to move in the presence of this entity, we turned subterranean. We turned to the underground.

Sitting in the fractured light in a dirty, dark space, the sounds of this culture were no longer like white noise. They became a deafening drone of diffuse status updates. Never letting up, the wood ceiling above our heads shook with the information of the 24 hour cycle of self-expression. It was in this hopeless place that we found our remedy to the digital tidal wave. Seeking to clean out our new hallow, we came across a box of unknown records. The only information we had on the music was a strange, earthly iconography shown below, an email address for Labelless Records, and a statement that the label was based in Columbus, OH.

Labelless Logo

What was this unlabeled music from our community? Who was it from? How did it get here?  It was in those initial moments of curiosity that we learned the power of those records. We started to play the records on a tired tech 1200. The music gave us the power to drown out the noise of the information cycle and got us in touch with authentic artistic creation. The music helped us forget about the lost world above our tiny hollow. The music sent us messages about babylon and the promise of tomorrow. The music gave us the power to push back and fight for our space free of speed, noise, and fear. The music called itself jungle. IT WAS JUNGLE THAT CHANGED IT ALL.

Day and night, we played the records. We let the sounds that flowed from the needle of our old Tech 1200 wash over us. Finding a safe space outside of the droning monoculture, we were able to rest in the jungle. With each revolution, we grew more brave as the records sang directly into our hearts and minds. Pretty soon, we no longer felt the vibrations of the monoculture of the surface on the floorboard above. It was a special moment when we all placed our hands on the boards and didn’t feel the unique vibration signature of the spectral cloud. We had replaced it with a rhythm of our own–with the Jungle Rhythm. We found a way out of our nightmare, and wanted to reach out to the members of our Columbus community that helped deliver us from the menace of the cloud; the Labelless Records Crew.  We sent the labelless e-mail address a string of questions to learn more about the music they release in Columbus and its power for our community. Late one night, we received a powerful, inspiring transmission back from them. The answers taught us about jungle music, the labelless records ethos, and the power of vinyl. It spoke of the history of the label runners, their ties to the music, and its importance for Columbus.  I wanted to share this transmission in the hopes that these ideas too can help set you free from the speed, noise, and fear of the times we live in.

Interview:

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

Labelless: Music is a big center for me personally. I have been spinning jungle/ dnb since 1998 and that has encompassed half of my life now. Before I got turntables at the age of 14, I had an Aleis drum machine, a Boss Dr. Groove sequencer, a bass guitar and some foot-pedal effects… I eventually sold all of that for turntables and was forever on the path into the “dj” culture, especially Hip Hop influenced breaks and jungle primarily… Turntablism was a huge impact on me as well, and scratching became a passion I perfected for myself, and continue to push myself with up into this day. Around 2005-2006, I bought an MPC 2500 and began producing again. I haven’t looked back since. Now I own two more samplers, synths etc and try all the time to learn new methods to produce breakbeat dominated tunes ranging from hiphop, triphop/downtempo, jungle, dnb, hardcore breaks etc…. Music is very much a part of me, as well as my lovely fiancee and label mate Jah Killin, who also touches down on the production tip and has been spinning jungle/dnb for a decade plus as well. We even try to get our kids interested. Music is a core to our structure as a family.

Local Autonomy: I cannot help but be attracted to the legacy and continued relevance of jungle. Why do you think jungle is still important?

Labelless: I feel jungle is important and holds such a legacy worldwide and historically in EDM culture, because it is one of the purest forms of old school, loop oriented music. By this I refer especially to the fact it encompasses all of the same exact breaks made famous in early hiphop culture. Jungle just double times them to be faster paced, so as to be geared towards the hardcore raver heads. Therefore, I feel jungle’s affinity to hiphop culture is nearly unparalleled from one sub-genre to another. Not only all the old soul, funk, and jazz breaks made famous by hiphop, but huge amounts of riddims and vocals made big by Dancehall, Reggae, Dub etc. all are just as much a part of jungle as all other elements (and not to mention ALL the countless samples from R&B and HipHop included that jungle works in so extraordinarily well). BUT- this does not stop here, nor does it hardly even begin to elaborate either… The core behind jungle in my mind is essentially old skool UK hardcore breakbeats. This sound is what eventually emerged into Happy Hardcore / Gabber and early jungle / dnb in the early 1990’s. Without those hyper, pitched-up, female vocal tracks, the hardcore techno synth lines, and mentazm stabs, then the earliest sound of Darkside / Darkcore jungle would of never emerged (or whatever names people have referred to the earliest jungle sounds to when it was still in its prototype phases).

All of these factors combines to form the legacy that is Jungle. Because all of these forms of music touched and molded so many different people globally. And years later when they hear it all mashed so seamlessly and sporadically perfect in the form of syncopated beats and bass that is the sound of jungle, they remember that feeling they felt from the original vibes. And so the snake eats itself and the circle continues. Jungle is the natural recycling unit of ALL music! Just like hiphop and house before it.

And this is not to say jungle is reliant on other songs, and doesn’t have its slew of great and original tunes out there. On the contrary however. Because, in my opinion ALL of the best jungle tunes are original creations not reliant on a riddim or hiphop loop; just a phat chopped up break and some vision, style and precision. It is an unstoppable force and a culture that I envision will forever be followed,for I believe it produces a frequency that elevates the mind.

Logo Graf

Local Autonomy: You recently started a record label called Labelless Records devoted to jungle. What does Labelless stand for and what is your vision for the label?

Labelless: When one thinks of labels, it automatically puts a containment on a concept. To me, the jungle sound and culture is something that can never be contained. its constantly expanding, evolving, and recreating itself, synonymous with the ever changing universe. As well, Labels in society cause nothing but segregation, and to me Jungle has always stood for a unification. Its one of the only Genres that call the people who represent themselves in the jungle culture as “Junglists”…for example, you dont see people who rep house music call themselves “housers”…or trance ,trancers…lol… but junglists transcend from a ‘certain sound’ into a way of thinking…. So, in a way, my concept of a music label for the coveted jungle sound and culture surpasses that of just a music ‘label’- but a statement that it needs no label– it grows wild and roughly unconfined just like the depths of any natural jungle…

Labelless doesn’t necessarily stand for anything in the literal sense; it’s not even a legitimate word to be honest. It is a name I have been thinking up for quite some years, and it just sounded very catchy as a label name so it stuck. And after Jah started making all her designs that were so phat, I def had to keep with the name! Because, I know I couldn’t do the caliber of artwork she does, and her designs and creative ideas were so sound and cohesive with the concept of the all jungle label I was envisioning, that the name Labelless just fit. The anonymity of the things I liked about jungle music were all present in her designs, and more things I hadn’t even thought about, that the word Labelless really fit that meaning for jungle music as a whole in my mind. Then, she just went with it and like 20 different designs just poured out of her photoshop files and I gave all creative control of the labels designs up to her. Now I just sort of look over them and give any general ideas I may think of at that time. So, really it all came together like Voltron or something.. Haha, my Wu-Tang joke.. But Labelless is ultimately designed as a label to help ANYONE who makes dope jungle beats get heard. If you make phat jungle tunes that deserve to be on wax, then I would def be interested to hear that music. So, if an artist were to be “label-less”, per say, in the terms that they had good jungle music with seemingly no outlet for it to be distributed, then I suppose that would serve as a good meaning for the word!

Local Autonomy: Though vinyl has enjoyed a little bit of a resurgence of late, it seems that so much of music sales have gone digital. Why did you want your releases only pressed on vinyl?

Labelless: Labelless is a means for all the dope producers of jungle music to get heard and to have their music documented in the proper format. To me that is vinyl format. Music, good music anyhow, should always be cataloged and saved on shelves like books are in a library. Musical history owes a lot to the vinyl record. So, I feel jungle should never go away from that format, as that was its birth format and what made it nostalgic and appealing to begin with.
Back in the day, a dj was a labels proper outlet for the music to be heard. And djs back in the day were not a dime a dozen like they are today. I feel the digital era really opened the door for just anyone to be a “dj” (and in return it now also seems that most “dj”s nowadays have never touched vinyl to mix it, thus not technically being a Disc Jockey as the term DJ states). Therefore, labels that once ran the industry go defunct. It’s a shame in my opinion, as I owe much of my youth and happiness to jungle / drum and bass music; vinyl especially. In light of all that had came before me, and the similar path I was beginning to tread, I wanted to do it right and proper like all the great jungle labels of the golden era, so I had to keep Labelless all vinyl and no digital. For if no real definitive reason but nostalgia and respect for my cultures roots. I don’t verge towards vinyl because I feel this “outdated” vibe about it nowadays is catchy, more so, because I feel the best sound quality to be heard is on a vinyl record. It cannot be duplicated in my opinion, and many music connoisseurs feel the same in regards to this. Of course formats like DAT, reel-to-reel tape recorders, and being heard straight from the source equipment are both formats that parallel, and even excel vinyl a bit in terms of sound quality and that warm, analog feel; yet, those formats are not accessible by everyone and quite expensive. Lastly, and most importantly for this question, I am just here doing this with Labelless to prove that vinyl is important for jungle, and all dance music for that matter. Even if it falls on deaf ears.

Local Autonomy:Your label has been going for some time now. What has the experience been like? Do you have any favorite moments?

Labelless: Wow. Great question. So many different experiences and answers to give. Where to begin? Firstly, being able to get into contact and personally meeting some of the artists featured has been an experience in itself. That to me is one of the most satisfying feelings. I realize everyone is a person just the same as anyone else, but to be understood and even feel akin to some of these guys, people I have personally looked up to on a musical front, is a feeling of self-assurance that what i am doing is being done correctly, and how it is expected to be done. To a big degree I am certain there is much to be learned still as is a trait with any business, yet I still feel that my concept and dream for this music is also the same feeling, even up to the dudes who really run this scene with the music they are making. A big experience that stemmed from these contacts with certain artists was a trip that Jah Killin and I took to Toronto to meet up with sixteenarmedjack/16AJ to celebrate he and I’s birthdays, and all 3 of us played a show as well. It was a really fun trip and he took us in as fam and cooked for us, and showed us a nice time altogether. Big up Odie, one love bro. 😉 Also a big shout out to all the artists I’ve met / talked with / become friends with along the way: Bay B Kane, Default, Dub-Liner, Nickynutz, Dj L.A.B. and Junglord all you guys are my homies for sure. More shouts to the boys of Tactical Aspect, Vinny (Pastaman) @ Satta, Warped Dynamics/ Beat Lab Recs., Vocoda, RickyForce, and all others that I have crossed paths or talked with.

Another moment that has stood out among it all is just before everything was produced onto vinyl I had contacted one of my favorite mastering engineers and made my order. A few days later he personally called my telephone and we had a talk for quite a bit and for me it was like meeting/ talking to a rock star to a degree. He said he was interested in the label and thought the direction and the music involved was quite intriguing to him as he has mastered for the jungle/dnb culture since it has been mastered for vinyl. Those were definitely words of encouragement for the momentum of the label. It has really shaped the way I will approach getting my music manufactured. I will never cut corners, and will always opt for the quality over the quantity philosophy. Especially in terms of mastering.

And to add to this phone call experiences as well, I literally today, was just called by the new engineer whom I am a HUGE fan of his jungle work he used to do in the early nineties under some of the guises such as Intense & Babylon Timewarp. His wife and he run the new mastering studio 1087, and both say they are really interested and happy to hear the music on Labelless I just had mastered there. They called me personally to talk over a few details as well as let me know what they thought etc of the label. It is a great feeling to be reached out to in such ways by people that one admires so much. So i had to let it be known how much of a HUGE fan of his I am. For all others looking for vinyl mastering needs 1087 is a great place to start your search.

More experiences definitely include all the support through bookings, record sales, distribution companies , and especially all the positive feedback from an otherwise unknown fan base. And for that we thank all those people immensely, as they are on a worldwide front, and that means a lot in terms of why Jah & I want to pursue this. In my opinion without the worldwide jungle massive’s approval, interest and support, then a meaning of something like Labelless Records to the jungle community would be moot. That acceptance is key and I feel a sense of pride in knowing that. I am definitely a Junglist for life.

And as I mentioned before, the contacts made between the artists, to the supportive junglist massive as a whole, are all the defining moments as well as the continuing momentum to pursue this endeavor. But the people I have came up with in Columbus are who have intrigued me to go this far in the first place. 614 MASSIVE, we all have the same strive and go for the same feel. I appreciate that; and Columbus has an extraordinary underground scene. Its vibrant, has an extensive history, and tons of talented people within it. I say that humbly and with awe for the city that has bred me. Dj’s like Verge, Caedo, Hawstyle, Shinma, Arkova, Carma, Alina, Gl!tch, Aria, Titonton, Monochrome , Konkey Dong, R-Type, my old school retiree partner ADizzle my nizzle 😉 You helped me learn the scratch tactics for sure bro :), Drastic, Jeff Trasin, John Hammond, and Cliff LeFevre of TGP, Jed, KGB, Baynes, Revolver (or just old school Jimmy Gates as I recall it!!!), Shapeshifter/ Wraith/ or Mister Shifter you still killin it Jack, Rumble, Spastik, What the Bleep , foi oi oi, ALL the mid-late 90’s DNB / house party kids of the ‘BUS, that shit was unforgettable and will never be the same…. Be thankful we were there for it all. Fidgit, Cathexis, Andrew, Brian and the rest of the URU kids, you all keep a constant going, that is quality in its most underground sense. And all others in my hometown, Big up and keep it going for sure! 9Star & DX3 you two gave me and my homies our first taste of playing underground parties, as well as the rest of the Malfunction crew Ryan & Rory. Khaki and Sunnydaze @ All City Beats, you guys were the very first people to book me for an actual show / club event in Columbus and support me as resident for your weekly. And you also paid me for these gigs!!! Every time! In either merchandise from the record store or cash… great way to make the proper impression on how a performing dj should be treated. Dingo 8 & Aurora as well with the Restart night that has been on for a grip. And last but certainly not least… my lovely Jah Killin, I absolutely love rockin’ the decks with you at the shows, clubs, and home especially. I admire you infinitely and am beyond lucky to have you beside me.

Local Autonomy: It seems to me that having local record labels like yours is really important for our scene. What do you think your record label adds to our community?

Labelless: I suppose I am not sure what a record label adds to my community here in Columbus, Ohio. Labelless is certainly not the first or only vinyl jungle label to emerge from Columbus. First on the vinyl label front was the label 21/22 Corp. which had its first two releases in 1994 by Fuzzy Logic aka Monochrome from Columbus and part of the original CBUS raver crew, ELEMENTAL. Both releases were all jungle and the label later verged towards minimal techno, house, acid sounds. Then, for several years local DNB/Jungle – dj’s / producers, Aria & Makku-Da-Kutta operated Clandestine Audio Agents Records with 3 or 4 vinyl releases still available. All productions were by them, which is stellar in my opinion and deserves all sorts of recognition. This was nearly a decade ago. Random Movement is also from Columbus, and as a producer he is pretty huge in the liquid DNB scene worldwide, with releases on a ton of different labels. Also, around the same time as I began with Labelless in late 2011, early 2012, another local vinyl jungle label was starting called Dublinquents, which is operated/owned by local junglist, and a personal friend of mine, Arkova. I think he has an outstanding eye and ear for quality so I am a huge fan and supporter of all that Rick is currently doing! Big up Arkova!!!

As for Labelless’s impact locally, I would really have to say ask the general 614 public, especially the junglists of CBUS, I can only judge myself on how I am judged by my peers. As for the importance of Labelless to our scene as a whole, in terms of worldwide jungle music, then I sincerely hope the Labelless message has been received and accepted. Because like I said, that acceptance is what this is all about. I feel that my intentions are to make people (fans, supporters, customers) satisfied, and for the artists to feel respect from the massive they represent. Its all about the massive, that is what ALL of this EDM music has been about since its inception. A collective of people unified and uplifted by a love for music. I hope all who run record labels devoted to a sound like jungle feel a similar way in the way their label is absorbed by the general public. Just bring a quality sound and approach towards the music you endorse and I feel that is the right path. Thanks also to you Local Autonomy for this chance to express the labels stance.

Also, Labelless is due to release 7 more vinyls by Christmas 2013- New Years 2014 timeframe so be on the lookout for round 2!!! We are having them mastered as we speak by a new engineer to work with the label as well!!! I am extremely excited to announce that I went to Ten Eight Seven Mastering, and am having Beau Thomas engineer these cuts!!! He is a LEGEND in the jungle scene to anyone that cares and I am greatly anticipating to hear the recorded wavs of the masters off each lacquer !!!

Lastly ,if anyone is interested in ordering vinyl we have 7 Labelless vinyls for sale and the entire catalog of Jungle Cat Recordings as well. Also available soon will be a limited edition series of slip mats for all the junglist vinyl junkies!!! There are also stickers, patches, t-shirts, and even more hoodies in the works for the future in the Labelless sales department.

E-Mail contact@labellessrecords.com for orders.

and for my personal productions & dj mixes visit my soundcloud

and for mixes and productions from Jah Killin go to her Soundcloud

Thanks to all, and big love to all the junglists and junglettes worldwide! BOH!

 Labelless Soundcloud

Labelless Bandcamp

Labelless Facebook

Kon Summer[Photos Courtesy of LeanRock]

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

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

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

Mix Work:

Interview:

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

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

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

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

Kon in the stacks[Photo Courtesy of LeanRock]

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

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

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

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

Kon Tag[Photos Courtesy of LeanRock]

Kon on Twitter

Kon Blog

Kon Mixwork on Soul Clap

In the moment

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

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

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

Nebula

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

Flyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack Shack TV is a boiler room-esq video mix show that our own local (I count Athens as part of our broader scene even though they have their own distinct community) jack-of-all genre’s DJ Barticus runs out of his basement in Athens, Ohio. You may recognize the name. DJ Barticus was one half of the duo (With DJ Self Help) that ran the widely popular Athens & Columbus Dance or Die party that ran for 6-8 years.Just like in the Dance or Die Parties, DJ Barticus has used Jack Shack TV to push an open format approach to music that place hip-hop, dance, and pop styles of music on an equal pedestal. Just take a quick listen to the show he did with George Hertzel. Look at that Keytar! Man.

What Barticus did with the whole concept really impressed me, because he was not scared to take a really popular model and bring in his own flavor to make it his own.  Watching just one of the episodes, you can see how Barticus and his friends have taken the Boiler Room model and twisted it to their own purposes.  The show presents their own unique perspective on music and is devoid of the hype machine-esq trappings of so many other video mix shows. Instead, it is injected with a sort of public access TV vibe that is rooted in notions of their local Athens community.

DJ Pro Bono 63 min Jack Shack DJ Set from Jack Shack TV on Vimeo.

Most importantly, I think it also reaffirms how much people in our community can do with very little. Barticus decided one day, “Hey, I want to do that.” And so he did. This is the story I hear again and again in our scene. He didn’t wait until he had the right equipment, the right premium accounts on youtube or vimeo, or a complete online identity. He created a name, got his VHS camera ready (He has since upgraded), contacted musicians, and started filming. Then all of a sudden a new video mix show was born. If you take away anything from this story, I hope you feel inspired today to do something creatively you have always wanted to do. You can do a lot with the cheap or free tools you already have at your disposal. Anyways, I hope you enjoy the interview and my collection of some of the Jack Shack TV shows. See there accounts on YouTube and Vimeo for the complete video catalogues and listen to audio of all the shows on their mixcloud :

Thunder St. Clair 60 min Jack Shack DJ Set from Jack Shack TV on Vimeo.

Local Autonomy:  It is obvious from listening and following your eclectic output that you are a big proponent of staying open to a diverse range of influences and sounds. Why are you such a big proponent of an open format approach to music?

DJ Self Help

BARTICUS: It all comes down to 2 things: Hiphop and ADD. Being a hiphop DJ got me open to all kinds of music, because hiphop takes its samples and influences from everywhere. The ADD part means that I don’t want to hear the same thing for an entire night.

LA: How did the idea for Jack Shack come about?

BART: Jack Shack is a combination of many ideas that have been floating around my head. I was inspired by the Talking Heads song, “Found A Job” and Mission Man’s “Do What You Love”. The format for the show was obviously stolen/borrowed from Boiler Room. I would watch episodes of Boiler Room full screen while i was on the other side of the room doing dishes. I just loved the whole setup, the people behind the DJ were just there hanging out in the DJ booth, and the person on the other side of the screen was the audience. Like hearing the Ramones and starting a punk band the next day, that’s how i felt about the Boiler Room.

I made a list of 30 people that I would want to book for Jack Shack. Everyone who I told about the idea was very excited. it felt like such a good idea. It didn’t take long for me to get the idea to want to record and share my friends DJ sets. The more I thought of it the more up sides i saw to it. I still can’t see any downsides.

I also wanted to capture the vibe of what it was like when i first started DJaying. I would go to a friends basement and we would take turns working on our skratches. I was hoping some one just getting started could find some inspiration in these videos.

LA: Youtube is your prime medium. Why did you choose the video sharing site to release your shows?

BART: Youtube is the spot people go to quickly share music. Something on youtube will reach more people than any other video sharing site. The problem with youtube is we have different interpretations of what is fair use and what should fall under Internet Radio Equality Act. I’ve had to move some of the content over to vimeo and not as many people see those videos.
At this point if i want to keep using youtube i am going to have to switch the format to original music, and i really hate being forced into that. I really don’t value originality in music that much. i think the best things in music come from freely building on each others ideas.

LA: As a fan of what many people consider obsolete technologies, I loved your use of VHS recording for the first few episodes. What made you turn to the VHS?

Burgle

BART: I turned to VHS because i wanted it to look crappy, but sound amazing. I’m not a very visual person and for most things VHS is really ‘good enough’ for me. I have a collection of VHS tapes (and VCRs) because i sometimes project VHS behind me whlie i DJ. I like how VHS movies have no menu, i like how the flicker when paused. i like how it looks when you play them in fast forward or rewind. I like how a tape looks after you re-use it too many times.
The only reason i’ve started to go with the webcam is because of how much time it saves me in the editing stage.

LA: What do you hope to achieve with the Jack Shack concept?
BART: I would like to start doing more episodes at different venues, keep it as different as possible. I would like to see more people make their own version of jack shack. realistically the shows I produce are going to not happen as often. I just started to run for public office and that is going to keep me busy.

Mission Man

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