Grenier

December 15th, 2013


We first heard about Grenier on Twitter and his fusion of ambient and dubstep inspired sounds hooked us. We had to know more, so we reached out.

 

Why did you choose Vancouver for the Lexdray City Series? How did that come about?

 

Lexdray asked me to do a mix for their City Series where I was asked to choose a city that inspired me or a favorite city to play in. Vancouver happens to be both of those things.

 

Do you consider yourself post dubstep? Garage? How do you feel about genre labels?

 

I definitely see how people would associate me with post-dubstep, but generally speaking no I don’t identify with that. I understand the need to categorize and understand and interpret people’s music, but I really don’t align myself with any one thing. This can present a challenge as an artist in a marketplace driven by genres, but for me it’s more creatively rewarding to create music on my own terms rather than write music because it fits some narrow parameters.

 

How has the global scene changed since 2006? The San Francisco scene?

 

Obviously everything has changed since the EDM goldrush commenced a few years ago. I feel like there are greater opportunities people like me have at their fingertips, but the bigger the stage and audience means sometimes some artists play it safer instead of pushing their own artistry and creativity. Really everything is different, not better or worse. I’m always excited to see artists get big recognition for doing their art and staying true to themselves.

 

You’ve been accused of having a ‘Junglist MC vibe’ on twitter. How do you feel about this?

 

Hahahaha, hmmmmm… I’m going to assume this question refers to the handful of times (hundreds?) I’ve been drunk enough at gigs and gotten on the mic during my sets. Jungle music is my background, and it’s deep in my soul to be honest. I’ve spent so many years around that culture, when I get on the mic it’s just what comes out of me. It’s a little embarrassing hahaha.

 

Tell us all about your recent project ‘Voids’.

 

Voids is the culmination of a project I started 3 years ago. I had amassed a collection of music that meant a lot to me, but I didn’t really see a clear path to sharing it with the world through a record label, so I decided to release it myself. Three collections over the years. Then Kinky Beggar reached out and offered to remaster and recompile bits and pieces of it into an album and have it released on the major outlets.

 

It’s a pretty personal collection of music, I wrote about it on my blog about how it’s like this music that would be played at this rave that only exists in my mind, music that is really expressive and honest, but really groovy and physical in it’s form. It’s sort of home listening but built for a club environment. I don’t know, it just exists in this parallel world that I like to explore a lot.

 

greniermusic.com

@grenier

Solar Heist Interview

August 7th, 2013


It can be  a happy surprise to see a different side of a favorite actor, musician or close friend. Our first experience with DJ Just was seeing him show off his San Francisco style and turntable skills as part of Designer Deejays. They were making the ladies swoon for a packed house at The Parlour. No really, we thought we might have to throw cold water on somebody. Since then, DJ Just moved to LA and is half of the indie electronic duo Solar Heist. We had questions.

Solar Heist

What prompted your move to LA? How is the scene out there?

Jason: I’ve been in LA for 3 years now. I came here from Lake Tahoe, where I was a ski instructor for a season, with my partner Sara Mancuso to record an EP, titled The West December. Then I was a hired guitarists for some LA based artists. One thing led to another and now I’m focusing on my own music, writing, recording, performing. The scene here is great, really competitive, which I think helps artists push their boundaries and make bolder moves.

Justin:  A lot of things prompted the move but it was mainly to take the next step in my career as a DJ / Producer. San Francisco is an amazing place to live and it will always be home for me but LA is a much larger market when it comes to music and entertainment, there is more people and more opportunity- I felt like it was the right move. The scene here is great! Musically, there is something here for everyone.

After 22 years of knowing each other is this the first time you’ve collaborated?

Justin went through a hip-hop phase in middle-school and we tried to collaborate with me playing guitar, and him rapping, but it didn’t seem to work out so well!…. So yes! We’ve always talked about making music together throughout our childhood but never got around to it until a couple years ago when we wrote ‘Searchin’. We have definitely collaborated in other ways though i.e. we once had the building department called on us for building a 3 story fort :/

Where did you get the name Solar Heist?

We’ve always have been big space nerds, and knew we wanted a name that was original and powerful. After asking a million people and throwing things together, we were about to just go with some ordinary name out of desperation, but while on the phone across the US the name popped up miraculously and we both agreed that was it.

How did the Flex Watches commercial come about?

Jason went to college with one of the owners/ creators of Flex Watches. After we had collaborated for the first time and recorded ‘Searchin’, we were stoked about the sound and started sending it out to friends to get some feedback. Everyone loved it, including Flex, and asked us if we wanted ‘Searchin’ to be used for their commercial. We had no idea how big the brand and commercial were about to go. Our friends and family started reaching out saying they heard our song on TV but we still didn’t even have a name for the project.

I liked the theme of the video . What’s the worst day job you ever had?

Justin: Probably would have to say being a bagger at the local Safeway when I was about 15. I ended up getting fired for riding the shopping carts down the slanted parking lot. Oops.

Jason: When I was living and going to school in San Diego I worked at a local Deli. I was told by some that I was one of the best sandwich makers in all of San Diego. However, my boss didn’t think so. He liked to smoke a ton of weed and then come to the deli and tell me I was doing it all wrong… “Lettuce first, and then tomatos!” That job only last so long.

Who did the vocals?

Jason is the vocalist on all of our tracks on the EP. On our track,’Thru the Window’ our good friend Gray Bashew sang some parts and we also have our friend Erika Czach is also singing some background vocals and harmonies.

You have very diverse influences…’Spanish Affair’ is very Latin, ‘Searching’ is more ‘Bob Sinclar-esque’ happy whistling, acoustic guitar, and other tracks have rock & breakbeat influences. Are you intentionally trying to defy categorization or define your stylistic range?

We come from very different musical backgrounds. Jason comes from more of a rock and singer/songwriter background, and Justin as a DJ, more electronic and deep house background. We wanted to bring together those worlds to create something new and unique. As a production duo, we definitely aim to be different and show our range.

We reached out to DJ Spider who was touring in Toronto, about working with them. What was it like to work with them on ‘Keep On Pretending’? How did it come about?

It was great working with Solar Heist. Jason is such a good vocalist, guitar player and songwriter, while DJ Just uses his sensibilities as a DJ to help make a soulful and good product. I met Just in San Francisco with his DJ partner Dan at a DJ gig and we kept in touch. Just eventually introduced me to Jason when he was down in LA. They brought me the original track, I added my original elements and arrangement, then they put the finishing touches on it.

What does the future look like for ‘Solar Heist’?

Justin and Jason: We are excited to get back in the studio and put out new music and keep collaborating with new artists. We are currently putting together a live set, and working on some new music videos for other tracks from the EP. We also have a lot of DJ’s and producers who have reached out and are currently working on some remixes of our music. There is a lot to look forward to!

Links:

Tycho: Ambient by Design

July 25th, 2013


San Francisco native Scott Hansen, aka Tycho, is an ambient music artist and producer, who is known as ISO50 for his photographic and design works. On top of all that he has the nerve to be humble. We caught up with him a few days before his first-ever live DJ set.

Which did you find first, photography, design, or music?

Visual art just in general. I think I found photography and design right around the same time I found music but I was doing art my whole life but not until I was 22 did I realize what design was and what electronic music was. That’s from a production standpoint.

I watched the Electronic Emotions tribute to you on YouTube. How does it feel to get this kind of tribute?

What is this?

It’s an Electronic Emotions video tribute to you that’s on youtube. Have you seen it?

No I’ve never even heard of it.

It’s really beautiful.

Yeah cool I’ll have to check it out. But in general seeing stuff like that is always kind of a trip it’s extremely flattering and humbling. I’m just always thankful that anybody besides me actually wants to listen to my music so I feel really fortunate for that.

Is there anything in particular that influences the way you use guitars in your music?

Yeah I guess there’s people using them in a much more non-literal fashion, but I definitely try to lean in that direction of it not just being typical rock out guitar tone but at the same time on this album we’ve done a lot of kinda of come more to the center with some of the guitar tones but still put that other worldly psychedelic vibe to it just to make it fit with the synths.

Are there any of your songs that are really important to you? That embody who you were when you wrote them?

Yes definitely. Elegy which is the last song off the last album was definitely kind of a personal time and place type song. Also the remix I did for Little Dragon. The music from that. Those are two written really quick during a specific period. Those I kind of look back on and they’re the more successful instances where I was able to take that raw emotion and turn it into something tangible whereas the other songs kind of evolved on their own and I just kind of shepherded them along.

What’s it like performing with a live band? Has it influenced the way you record new music?

That’s been the most intensely revelatory experience of my whole career. Just getting together with those guys and starting to actually broach performing live. I didn’t like what I was doing before because I didn’t feel I was able to connect with the audience. I’m not really a very engaging personality so getting to the point where we’re doing all the songs live and we’re up there feeling that connection with the audience has really been great. To hear what we were doing during soundcheck of the sets and hear what it sounded like — I realized that this was the sound I wanted to capture for the next album. So I’ve worked with Rory O’Connor and Zachary Brown. Zachary’s the bassist and guitarist and Rory is drums. I worked with them a lot on this record so it’s definitely more of a band type record.

Lots of people are excited about your show this Friday in San Francisco. What’s your favorite part of playing a DJ set?

I’ve really only done one I think as a DJ set and this was five or six years ago. It was more of an ambient set where I just mixed together a bunch of stuff. This is the first time I’ve ever put together a real DJ set. It’s exciting because I really enjoy the idea of being able to play music that I enjoy from other people and mixing it all together with my influences. It’s a fun break from the normal live show that we do that’s all Tycho. It’ll be good to have other people’s stuff in there.

Is there anything else you’re really excited about?

Yes turning the album into a live show. I can’t wait to get back out on the road early next year.

Knobtweakers: If you happen to be in the bay area, don’t miss Friday’s show.

P.S. We tracked down Electronic Emotions to get his thoughts on the Tycho tribute:

My inspiration for the Tycho tribute came from his music. He has a unique sound that can easily stir emotions. Having videos to his music can increase the whole experience. His stage performance is similar, combining strong visuals that go hand in hand with that beautiful awe inspiring electronic sound. He is one of the best electronic music artists and I think he deserves it.

Ghosting Season – Apophenia

July 4th, 2013


Apophenia is the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data.

Ghosting Season is an electronic music duo hailing from Manchester, UK and founded in 2011 by the members of worriedaboutsatan, Gavin Miller and Thomas Ragsdale. The sound is a fusion of minimal techno and IDM, laid over a thick ambient soundscape made up of sampled sounds and lush, reverberating electric guitar which is sometimes played with a bow.

Since 2011, Ghosting Season has released a 2-disc LP, “The Very Last of the Saints”, an EP, “The Far End of the Graveyard” with an accompanying singles remix pack of the same name, and the 12″ Single, “A Muffled Sound of Voices”.

Unlike many techno acts, an in-person appearance by Ghosting Season promises an arrangement of computers (one for sequences and another for guitar effects), synthesizers, hardware interfaces, a drum pad, and a whole lot of live playing. There’s nothing like a good live PA to get you feeling the groove.

Ghosting Season’s far end of the graveyard video was conceptual and cinematic, with a twist. The new video follows suit. We caught up to singer, T E Morris on his way to Budapest to ask about his participation.

“I’ve been good friends with the GS boys for years. I play in a band called Her Name is Calla and the violinist is Gavin GS’s girlfriend. I go across and stay with the guys sometimes in Manchester and we just order stacks of pizzas, drink a ton of beer and we all watch 80′s classics mainly starring Arnie. I wish I could say we do more of that. But if I go it’s for the weekend, 10% will be spent recording, the rest will be spent watching films, drinking and fucking about on old synths. Though as I recall, they were quite a Lot more serious about this single and reigned in their (and my) drinking and we spent a great day playing around with the track and trying different harmonies and approaches to the main vocal line.”

ghosting-season

Max Cooper – A Gentleman and a Scholar

May 27th, 2013


maxcooper-hands-700

Max Cooper brings a whole new meaning to Intelligent Dance Music. He refocused his scientific mind from a PhD in genetics to layered polyrhythms and synthetic blips. He has produced a wide range of styles, including techno and glitch. He’s also well known for his visually captivating music videos.

I really enjoyed your “Meadows” video. The videos are a great visual aid to guide the listener through the layers of complexity in the music. What role do the videos play in your musical expression?

For me they’re really important. When I write music, the visual aspect is always a real focus for me. It sort of drives my production of the music. I think quite visually in a lot of ways. And so for me the video has always been a really important thing to work on, and I’ve always made an effort to find artists, even when I was starting out and really poor, and couldn’t afford to pay my rent, I would still pay for artists to make music videos, ’cause I valued it really highly. I love it. If I could — if I had more time or more talent I would work on the visual side of things myself, as well. Unfortunately, just doing music is difficult enough.

I love visual art, and I like going to galleries. I especially love abstract, mathematical, computational videos which are made possible with computers.

How did you find your way to the darkside of electronic music from genetics?

I was always into music and DJ’ing, and pursuing that life all the way through university. My science and my music happened in parallel from a much earlier age. I still love both things, but it sort of came to a point where I had to make a decision. I had to drop one and focus on the other because both things are very time consuming, and in the end it had to be music. I had to let the genetics go.

How did your parents feel about that?

Actually, they were very supportive. My dad — he’s retired now, but he was an academic. He taught engineering at Queen’s University in Belfast. He was like, “Go for it. Go do music. The academic life isn’t the be all and end all.” By that time, I’d got my PhD. They trusted my judgement and they didn’t say anything about it. Nothing but encouragement, really.

In Europe you’re well known for sets that swing from electronica to abrasive techno. Your sound is very diverse. Which genres inspire you the most?

At the moment, the genres that inspire me the most are modern classical and electronica. The only problem is, saying the word “electronica” is a big cop-out, really. It’s kind of a way of saying all electronic music that doesn’t fit into another genre. I guess by that I’m saying I’m really into the strange and experimental electronic music out there. Not all of it, obviously, but that’s where the most interesting stuff is in my opinion, but also I love rich melody. You find that in classical music. That’s all it is in a lot of ways, so those two genres, I’d say.

Your write-up in NME on EDM was very insightful and thoughtful. Skrillex posted an inspiring Aphex Twin track and his fans asked ‘Where’s the drop?’. Is EDM training people to miss subtlety? Or could it be a gateway to help people discover more subtle forms of electronic music.

I think I see it as a natural progression. When I was 17, I used to go and listen to the rave music that was big in the ’90′s. When you’re younger, you want higher energy, and high impact, and you don’t care for the subtleties, but the more you listen to that sort of music, eventually you get bored of that same format and move on, and you get bored of that and move onto something else. It’s great that people are getting into electronic music. I’d say it’s a positive thing for sure.

About your release ‘Conditions Two’. Can you explain what this series is about?

The Condition series ties into my album about the human condition. I like to have concepts for each track, and I was thinking about a nice concept I could use that would tie into my interests for a series of releases, so I went for the human condition, whereby each track is a different aspect of that condition. So it’s a huge scope for experimentation, so the Condition series is themed around the human condition.

Your British Museum podcast is fascinating. You have 12th century Tibetan monks. Thomas Edison, Gregorian Chant, techno, Chinese music in there. How did you choose the sounds for this project?

The concept was to have a mix inspired by a space, so I chose the British Museum because I love the space, and I love the ambient sounds that I recorded in there, and it’s a place where I spent time in the past. So there was that aspect, but there’s also the museum itself. It’s full of a lot of old Eastern artifacts in there. I just tried to find music that represented the same periods as the artifacts in the museum, so I just went searching for whatever old Eastern music I could find, and the oldest European music I could find was that Gregorian chant, and then I just combined that with the most modern computational music I could find, and threw the two together. It was fun, and it seemed to work.

Are there any artists that inspire you that perhaps you might want to work with in the future?

Yeah, I mean there’s loads of great artists out there. Some of my favorites at the moment would be Jon Hopkins. He’s got a new album coming out any minute now. He has an amazing level of production and ideas. He brings together all these different genres and different styles.

Guy called Vaetxh. He’s just amazingly talented. Well, he’s more of an academic than a producer. You can really hear that in his music, it’s insanely technical.

Who else? I’d have to go onto my computer and look through what I’ve been listening to recently.

Synkro. The new Synkro album. Bonobo’s new stuff. His stuff’s always great. Atoms for Peace, their new stuff, but they’ve really just formed, haven’t they? Helios, always a favorite.

There’s a lot of great music out there. I think there’s good music in every genre, pretty much. “Voices From the Lake”. That’s another really interesting electronic album that’s sort of recent. Beacon — Beacon are amazing, they’ve got this old Depeche Mode or New Order sort of sound, but in a much more modern way. It’s really nice.

There is a documentary series, it’s called the “Up Series”. Basically the theory says that if you meet a child, and you get their personality, it’s a good predictor of how they’ll be as an adult. I’m curious, has that theory held true for you?

Obviously it’s hard for me to say from the inside. I still feel like a kid. Writing music is one thing you can do and pretty much never grow up. You avoid the standard 9 to 5 and other things that make people have to grow up. Also I like the idea in philosophy — there’s the idea that philosophers should be like children. You should have that wonder and curiosity about the world. If you want to learn, you don’t take things for granted. You try to really experience the world around you and think about it freshly each time. I feel a lot like that. There’s a lot of amazing things out there, and I try to experience it as much as I can. I’ve definitely got a bit of a childish outlook.

Is there anything you want to add? Upcoming projects you’d like to mention?

Numb was released at the end of April, with Kathrin deBoer. There’s a music video for that which is amazing. It’s an infographics video about being numbed by the capitalist machine.

I did want to ask you about why you chose her vocals. It’s such a great choice, but it’s such an unusual choice.

She’s got a really interesting voice. It’s not the norm for electronic music or dance music. It’s an amazing jazzy style voice. It’s always appealing to me to try something different. We sat down and had a play and it just sort of worked. We just did this live jam that I recorded, and that was what we used on the track.

Where are you based?

We’re based in San Francisco.

Oh really? The last interview I did was with somebody in San Francisco. I guess San Francisco’s a bit of a hub for new music. I love it there, actually, it’s one of my favorite cities in the world, for sure. Hopefully I’ll be back soon. Maybe you can see the show.

We’re looking forward to it.

Dear Opening DJ – An Open Letter from The Polish Ambassador

May 6th, 2013


The Polish Ambassador

The Polish Ambassador came to our attention in 2006. We like his style. @vervespot is kinda jealous of his jumpsuit. “Got that in a thrift store in chicago for 5 smackers.”

We were just minding our own business on Facebook when we came across a post that spoke to us. This is what many of us have wanted to say to the opening DJ.

Dear opening DJ,

If you hold the opening slot of the night, 8pm – 9pm, 9pm – 10pm, whatever it may be, it is your job to welcome the audience. Often times, an audience starts out small. There may be 50 – 100 people in the room and they may not be ready to dance. Like a connoisseur of fine wine that knows the perfect selection for any occasion, it is your duty to browse your multi-genre archives of digital music and curate an ambiance suitable to the energy level of the attendees, the time of night, the environment, and the acts you are supporting.

If you’re dropping the latest trap anthems and the newest electro bangers you found at the top of the Hype Machine to first 50 early birds, you’re doing a disservice to the attendees, the acts that follow you, as well as yourself. There are literally millions of songs for you to choose from! A true DJ is a researcher, a “crate digger”, a purveyor of many styles of music, not just electronic. They can navigate and read a crowd. They can effortlessly and gracefully transition from genre to genre or tempo to tempo. They are aware that music is an amazingly powerful tool that can set the tone for the entire night. They research the music of the supporting and main acts to get a good idea of how to start the night off.

A hack DJ, disregards all of the above, and abrasively molests the ears of the die hards that come out early. I can guarantee you that 99% of TPA show goers don’t want to hear your fist pumping mixes that sound like a cyborg jackhammer murdering an electronic toy horse.

I want to be clear. I’m not pointing the finger at any particular DJs, but rather a growing trend that is just downright silly. I have witnessed this trend at my own shows, as well as shows I patron myself, and it continues to leave a sour taste in my mouth.

Alas, there is hope! You can put out a new mix, let’s say tomorrow, that shows your diversity and knowledge of the vast chronicles of music from around the world! You can impress artists and promoters who have the power to book you again and again.

Whenever, I hear a DJ that pays attention to detail and curates a beautiful welcoming mix, I always go up to them, introduce myself, give them a hug and say “thank you for being awesome.” At the end of the night, I mark them in my little black book for the next time I come through, and I sing their praises to the promoter or talent buyer at a venue, in hopes that they get booked again and again.

Thanks for listening. I hope this helps,

Love Polish

Check out thepolishambassador.com for a whole lot of free music, photos, videos, and more…

Andy Caldwell Interview: House Music Royalty

April 10th, 2013


andy-caldwell-suit

No matter who you are, landing an interview with Andy Caldwell is a great get. Especially for me because my editor is the biggest Caldwell fan I know right now. I pictured myself in a room on a phone. How hard could that be? I had no idea that my boss would just happen to be sitting three feet away from me practically looking down my throat the whole time. For a split second I thought about throwing the phone down and running away. But I decided to just breathe and ask the first question.

Your earlier music was very soulful. In the last few years your sound has become a lot more progressive. What drew you to progressive house?

I started with progressive house back in the 90′s. When I first started progressive and house and everything was all kind part of the same family and I loved it all. I think a lot of people became aware of my sound as being a deep and soulful sound because that’s what I was doing a lot of in the early part of the 2000s.

At the same time though I had quite a few releases on Yoshitoshi Recordings and various different labels that were very progressive house and I was getting a lot of play in the clubs from Danny Tenaglia and Deep Dish. It’s just that I think I had a larger fanbase from the soulful stuff. It’s not that I’ve really changed, I’ve always kind of done both. I haven’t really been doing anything deep as of late and my DJ sets have been very oriented towards a big room sound. I love music. Deep, soulful, progressive, electro, chill out, whatever. I love good music so I don’t really discriminate.

I’m struck by how well-rounded you are. Tell me about your classical training. Does it still influence you now?

Probably. I mean I learned how to play all the classical music. A lot of people were forced to take piano lessons as a kid. I was one of them. I just happened to pursue it later in life. I think that did play into my influences. My dad also was a huge factor. He listened to a lot of jazz and blues. My mom was a folk music fan so I kind of grew up with both of those influences. As a kid I listened to a lot of radio. Madonna and Prince and Police. So I think all of those things shaped my influences.

You had a great release from Soulstice in 2011, after a long hiatus. What made it happen then? Can we expect more?

The Soulstice record. We only did two new songs and a lot of the stuff was tracks that we just never released. It’s really challenging because there’s four of us and we’re all doing totally different things with our lives. To carve out time to actually work on new music is really hard to do. I’m not gonna say never but it did take ten years to do that second album. Who knows? Maybe in another ten years we’ll have another album.

About your Om Records release Universal Truth. It really struck a chord with my editor. Do you hear that a lot from your fans?

A lot of people loved that album. I’m a personal fan of that album as well. It’s just great. I love getting positive feedback. I put a lot into that. It was the culmination of five years of lots of work in the deep soulful sound. I think that album displays a lot of the stuff I was into at the time. Sort of a retrospective and it’s awesome when I get positive feedback about it.

How do you find the artists for Uno Recordings?

I get sent demos from quite a few producers from up and coming or budding hopeful producers. Occasionally I’ll find a good one that I like. I’m not really actively soliciting demos. But over the years, I’ve definitely been sent a few here and there that I feel are worthy of release. I just try to support and nurture their careers. One of the guys, Tom Flynn, I put out his first record in 2008 and he’s gone on to establish himself as quite a force in the UK. I’m proud to say I put out his first record. I like to support young, new talent and give them a leg to stand on and let them get out there and make something of themselves.

Do you remember a time when you didn’t think your music would be considered for a Grammy? When did you realize that was starting to change?

As dance music has become more commercially viable, a larger audience has been more accepting of it. It used to be just remixes of whoever pop star was big at the time so they always dominated the category my track was nominated in, which was best remix. The year that my track was nominated we had David Guetta, Morgan Page, Nadia Ali and a couple others. They were all dance music oriented artists. Ten years prior, it would have been Jennifer Lopez and Usher and Justin Timberlake remixed by some random douchey remixer that you’d never heard of. So that’s what really enabled the nomination. The change in culture.

How do you feel about the fact that house music is more commercial now?

90% of it is great. I think it’s important for the growth of the genre. There’s a lot of backlash. A lot of people like to want to keep this music private. I don’t really understand that mentality. As a person trying to make a living out of this, the bigger the audience, the better chances we can actually have to have a career and not have to go work some shitty desk job and just do this as a hobby. I’m all for it. I think the commercialization of dance music is a great thing.

How does the house scene in L.A. compare to the San Francisco scene?

It’s a lot larger here. I don’t really think there’s much of a house scene left in San Francisco to be honest. It’s more of a commercial EDM scene now. A lot of younger kids are into just going out. They want to hear banging tracks from all the biggest producers. That underground house scene, I don’t know if it really is flourishing anymore like it used to. I think there’s a lot of fans of it who are older now and probably have a family and kids and just don’t go out. The people who have come in to fill that void, they listen to the radio. They’re not that discriminating.

L.A you’ve got a much richer culture here. For one it’s a lot less expensive to live in, so you can have your $600/month apartment rental. You can’t do that in San Francisco so it attracts a different type of person. Someone who’s going to seek out something kind of cool and underground and hipster. Whereas SF it’s all dotcom and expensive so it’s a different mentality. I really do still enjoy playing in SF. All the clubs that I’ve played in are packed full of young people who really love the energy of progressive and electro. But I think by and large L.A. has a more rich and diverse dance music scene. It doesn’t even compare anymore. It’s probably the biggest in the nation without a doubt.

What’s next for Andy Caldwell?

I have a string of releases that I’m just starting to put out. I had one come out recently called “We Are the Future” with Angela McKlusky. I’m currently working on a new track with a big featured singer that I can’t quite reveal just yet.

I’ve got some side projects too. I’ve also launched this side project called Bonny Doon. It’s all deep house its really cool, soulful. It echoes back to my old sound but it’s kind of a newer take on it. I’ve also got another side project. It’s more commercial EDM and it’s called The Haight like Haight street in SF. I lived there for five years and that’s kind of where I learned so much about music. I should also plug my new residency in Vegas at Light. It opens April 26.

San Francisco residents can catch Andy April 27th at The Grand.

Fake DJ: an Interview with Camoflaug3

November 24th, 2012


The Fake DJ conversation has sparked a debate in the electronic music community that shows no signs of dying down anytime soon.

Deadmau5 called all DJs ‘button pushers’, A Trak responded, and Camoflaug3 wrote a song about it. Dozens of high-profile DJs have weighed in online.

When we heard ‘Fake DJ’, we knew they had more interesting things to say.

1. The whole ‘Fake DJ’ conversation is starting to feel like the East Coast v. West Coast rap wars from the 90s. Do you think these little Twitter battles could potentially hurt friendships and break down the bonds in the tightly knit electronic music community?

The Twitter battles are a little “Housewives of New Jersey” some of the time, and downright childish most of the time. Shit or Twit talking has just become part of the culture and DJs have had ego battles since day one. The important thing is that the posers are starting to get called out a little more which has fanned the flames of the “Fake DJ” controversy. The electronic music community is an interesting place right now because of the massive influx of neophytes that don’t know Derrick May from Derek Jeter. This is the nexus of the controversy, a huge number of uneducated young people jumping in this genre and not taking the time to learn about its roots. So hopefully we can shed some light on that with the track.

2. How do you feel about Deadmau5 saying anyone can be a DJ?

There is some truth to that, but anyone can be a baseball player, or a chef, or a race car driver too. Doesn’t mean you are going to be good at it.  Deadmau5 is an interesting guy and obviously very talented, he does make some good calls from time to time.  Especially about what they are doing up there on stage, he was really transparent about it and that’s something you have to respect, raw honesty with a dash of self deprecation.

3. What do you think about A Guy Called Gerald’s response to Deadmau5′ comments?

Gerald is frustrated like many of the original guys in this scene, he later apologized for his comment but we understand where the anger comes from. Everything moves so quickly now, there is no shelf life and the roots of this culture and the guys who built it are not getting the respect they deserve in the US right now. The newbies think that Skrillex and Deadmau5 started this new “EDM” revolution and that’s kind of a fucking joke. The silver lining here is that a lot of the artists like Skrillex actually do care about the roots of the music, and are trying to help spread a little bit of the gospel at least.

4. What do you think of this message from Felix Da Housecat? “Couldn’t imagine Prince telling MJ or Madonna telling Springsteen or Cyndi Lauper telling Thom Yorke what’s cred and not cred..so stupid.”

Credibility is something that is earned and universally respected amongst educated music fans and novices alike. An artist questioning another artist’s credibility is sometimes just folly or a press play, it all comes down to your shelf life and how you endure as an artist. Crap sinks to the bottom and cream rises to the top, it’s pretty simple. 20 years from now the Chemical Brothers will still be considered major and credible artists in the genre, it’s hard to say if we will see the likes of Rusko or any the new guys on that shelf. Time will tell.

5. What motivated you to put this track out now?

The biggest motivator was seeing guys like Alvin Risk and other new guys coming up who really don’t get what it means to be a DJ. They jump up on stage with a pre-recorded set in Ableton, flip open a laptop and then push the spacebar. The set is all pre programmed and you get what you get with a couple filters to mix it up, which is fine if you are an artist playing your own tracks live, but don’t call yourself a DJ.  We wanted to draw attention to the art of mixing and how it’s being lost in this new wave of electronic music.

A DJ goes to a gig and builds a set by vibing on the room, selecting tracks for the audience in front of him/her, every set should be different because every room/night is different. When you see a really amazing DJ like Louie Vega, Mark Farina, Richie Hawtin, Josh Wink or DJ Sneak, you will understand. Until you experience a DJ really mixing and doing it, you will never know what the fuck we are talking about.

6. Do you anticipate an answer record? Do you think the beef could turn out to be positive and drive music sales like the Roxanne battles of the 80′s?

We didn’t really think about that to be honest, we originally conceptualized the track as an art project or fake Public Service Announcement, it just kind of evolved into the track and we really liked it so we went with it. We don’t’ know how you would even answer back to be honest. Maybe the track would be called “Big LED Screen” or “I’ve Got Fireworks and you Don’t Bitch.”

7.  How much of DJing is technique and how much is selection?

This is of course a very subjective question, but we are going to have to lean on the side of selecting. We would rather listen to a DJ play great great records/tracks and make a couple train wrecks or fuck ups than a flawless DJ who was using all the latest technology and playing terrible records.

8. How will you stop the fake DJs?

Aside from wage war and get into stupid twit talk battles, we would rather just educate the new EDM fans out there. Most of the kids that end up becoming true fans of the music and not just the party will dig deeper and learn for themselves. There are always going to be poser shitheads out there and the best way to shut them up is by dropping knowledge like a sledge hammer.

9. What is your favorite part of DJ culture?

For us it’s about playing in front of a crowd and getting that “DJ High!” and no, we don’t mean “that” high, we mean the high that comes from mixing up the perfect set and really sending people on the dancefloor into another dimension. Most people go to the clubs so they can escape for a little while, and just get lost. So when you create that perfect storm where everyone is on the same groove and going nuts, there is nothing like that. It’s kind of like runner’s high, maybe anyways…

10. If she asked you to, would you collaborate with DJ Paris Hilton?

Paris Hilton? Never heard of her.

Sp00nfed Interview

October 7th, 2012


We first heard about Sp00nfed on twitter when @spoonfedmusic tweeted a link to the “Sweet Fades” EP. We were instantly hooked.

Sp00nfed is Donovan Morgan (Jakt) and Jeff Matheson (Jeff Math). Together they pump out primal, sweat saturated rhythms. Layers of soulful samples ride on intoxicating house grooves. Crank up the volume, lower the lights and get down. This is music you must experience on your feet.

How did you first discover House Music? What is your first musical memory?

Its funny, I was a drummer/guitar player since I was a little kid. I played in stage bands, then more rock and guitar driven bands later on. I heard a dj mix (i think it was Chris Sheppard), and it had Crystal Waters “Gypsy Woman” on it. It sounded so new. I don’t know what it was that I liked, but I liked it. Maybe it was the fact that it was the opposite of what I had been exposed to with playing instruments in a band. It was more like sonic freedom within rigid structure as opposed to the sonic stability of one instrument with improvisational pressure to play outside of the lines. After that, the Chemical Bros released “Setting Sun” and my brain melted.

What is Sp00nfed?

Its a pretty silly name. I had released quite a few tech-y tracks under the name Jakt and some of the labels I signed with were really, really difficult to deal with. I took a break from writing to just dj. I was really put off from the whole writing process. My good friend and writing partner Jeff Matheson (Jeff Math) worked with me on a few projects with the name Donairs as well. Being massive Basement Jaxx fans, Jeff and I always loved that style over anything else, but we found it really hard to create. Once I started writing again, I started making house music. So I picked a name that I was djing under a few years ago to separate myself from all the negativity I was leaving and to have a fresh start. When I was djing under the name Sp00nfed I hosted a really cool monthly where we had dress up themes like ZombieProm, Mustache/Cleavage, SlumberParty. All the music was indie-dance/altpop. It was a really fun time, so the name stuck. My first releases under that name are with Scuffed Records (our own record label), and one remix with On The Fruit from France (Pat Lok “Remember” Sp00nfed Remix).

The name it self came from a house party I was at. A girl had walked up to me in the kitchen a little messed up. She said she liked my shirt, but she hiccuped when she said it. Without exchanging words I randomly grabbed a spoon off the counter, put some sugar on it and fed it to her to stop the hiccups. It worked.

Other projects? Where can fans find your full discography?

Presently, all of my Sp00nfed tracks are on Beatport, Trackitdown, iTunes, most other digi shops. The Jakt stuff is on there as well. If anyone wants to hear demos and unreleased stuff, the soundcloud page is the best bet.

What made you want to work together?

Jeff Math and I started writing about the same time, and through other people and the band community we were introduced and started talking online. We did this for years on MSN- just chatting and sending clips of bits we were working on, or clips of new techniques we came up with. We had never lived in the same city, so we never had many face-to-face talks. It was all online. At one point I had moved to Toronto just as he was moving back east. I knew we were going to really make a go of it when he flew back for a week to finish an EP for an italian label we were talking to. Today we both live in the same place, and we hang out every other day. That really improved the work flow for us on projects together, and for solo stuff. Plus, I get to make music with my best bro, which is awesome. The best part of all this was meeting Nick Melnyk (Nick Bike) a few years ago. We became really tight friends, and his incredible talent as a dj motivated me to be better at everything I was doing. Once he started writing tracks, it occurred to the 3 of us that we could do this ourselves and make our own label. So we established Scuffed Records in May 2012. Now we are even more motivated to work together. Its amazing.

What is the future of House Music?

I think house has taken a real hit in the face the past few years. Its been co-opted by a lot of people that are making music for what seems like all the wrong reasons and the mood reflects it. The soulful sound is really almost retro now, or cliche depending on who you ask. But I really feel like there will be a swing back to this direction. There is no denying feel good house music. A lot of really high profile producers are releasing filtered house lately, or edgy disco, or sample based vibes. I feel like there is a change coming, and it couldn’t come at a better moment in the electronic music timeline, IMO.

Jack 5′s – Dancing Machine (Kreap’s Vintage Redux)

August 5th, 2012


Kreap (whom long-time Knobtweakers fans might recognize as BPC or Benjamin Paul Crea) has had us dancing since Knobtweakers was born. One of my favorite Kreap tracks is “Jack 5′s – Dancing Machine (Kreap’s Vintage Redux)”. Crank the volume, click play, and prepare to have your mind blown.