Little White Earbuds http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com Hook up your ears Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:01:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Shaddah Tuum, Merkabah http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/review/shaddah-tuum-merkabah/ http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/review/shaddah-tuum-merkabah/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:01:04 +0000 http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/?p=44310 Merkabah is feral night music of a rather high grade, backed by slab cold remixes from Samuel Kerridge and Dadub.]]> 93dc4433d50869069c3e38321c5bb9d7592d0e4c_m
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[Portal Editions]


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Not much is known about Shaddah Tuum, but they sound like they inhabit a cold, 1950s bunker lit by a single flickering light bulb, sustained on a diet of illicit overproof vodka, cheap cigarettes, dried kabanos, and no daylight whatsoever. This is feral night music of a rather high grade, backed by slab cold remixes from Samuel Kerridge and Dadub. It marks a strong-blooded debut for new Berlin label Portal Editions. “Merkabah” is a fearsome tune that wades through sulphuric mud with hissing atmospherics, metallic ghost ship clangs, and thunderous kicks. It’s a heads down track that avoids gratuitous darkness thanks to a spacious mix and will no doubt delight fans of modern day Downwards. “S-Ninyourhead” is a still more morose affair, pitching down in a malfunctioning diving bell to search the depths. A veritable suicide mission of a track that utilizes a strange nautical bellow (processed fog horn, perhaps?) as rhythmic device, alongside distorted percussive elements that roll out slowly alongside a yellow slick of poisonous hiss and drag.

Remix duties are ably performed by Dadub and Kerridge. Indeed, there are few producers working within techno more capable of conjuring fetid murk, and both utilize their markedly idiosyncratic techniques to decent effect. Kerridge relies on near pornographic levels of wall of sound distortion for his “S-Ninyourhead vs Merkabah” sound clash remix, weaving elements of both tracks around the mix while vast swathes of drone threaten to drown the duck. Dadub, meanwhile, offer a peak time roller that layers slick percussion and tick tock pressure with pin drop clarity, as ever. An impressive record that ably soundtracks the encroaching cold nights.

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Little White Earbuds Presents Ital http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/podcast/little-white-earbuds-presents-ital/ http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/podcast/little-white-earbuds-presents-ital/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:42:27 +0000 http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/?p=44315 Endgame, and he provided us with a recording from the festival.]]> Inter-Ital-1

Since bursting onto the scene in 2011 and inaugurating the 100% Silk label with “Ital’s Theme”, Ital, real name Daniel Martin-McCormick, has made plenty of waves through the world of dance music. Releasing two albums in 2012, involved in a handful of collaborations, and even landing a 12″ on the legendary Workshop, time has seen McCormick tackle house and techno from ever more penetrating vantage points. His sound has simultaneously concentrated and grown more expansive, and his latest album Endgame is his most potent and eye-opening to date. He recently performed as one of the headliners at the inaugural edition of Sustain-Release, a two-day festival at a summer camp in the Catskills, and his live set perfectly captured the immersive and surreal aspects of the event. LWE sat down with McCormick recently to chat about Sustain-Release and his latest album Endgame, and he provided us with a recording from the festival.

How did you approach doing a live set in the context of Sustain-Release?

Daniel Martin-McCormick: Aurora and I had been doing these combination live-DJ sets when we were in Europe over the summer, and the more I did that, the more I wanted the tracks in the live set to flow into each other similar to how they would in a DJ set. I had been using an MPC before, and each song would be something like an internally complete unit, but there would be abrupt shifts between them. I wanted to instead move through waves of tension rather than performing different songs. The drums in the live set, and to an extent on the record, are rather simple: the glue that keeps things together, whereas there are lots of synth parts and dubbed out bits orbiting the beat that you can loosen up off the grid or bring back and make really tight. I was focused on making it a larger whole rather than a sequence of songs, which is what I had been familiar with from playing in bands.

Do you allow for much improvisation?

Yeah for sure. I don’t write much while I’m up there performing, but I usually have spare sequences, or variations on bass lines, that I can play with.

Did you make any changes for Sustain-Release?

Well, it’s not like I threw in a bunch of forest sounds or something [laughs]. The subs were huge. When I got into the room and checked out the dance floor, I could tell it was going to sound amazing, but when I went on stage to drop my gear, I realized the entire stage was vibrating and making an overwhelming, clattering sound. The audience couldn’t hear it, but from where you were standing onstage, the sub wasn’t very audible and instead it felt like you were inside a huge maraca. The more you pushed the subs, the crazier the noise and vibrations became. If I hadn’t checked in advance, I would have been really stressed, but since I knew, I just let it ride. Any time I wanted the subs to really push, I would just nudge the deepest sound in my mix up a notch and the whole stage would sound like it was caving in. Apparently, while such an event was occurring, my friend Angelina pretended like she was getting blown over by the bass… and then actually fell on her ass. 

When your first records as Ital were coming out you had mentioned most of your music was made in Audacity, which I imagine would make it hard to perform live. How have things changed?

When I started making tracks I had no idea how people made techno. I had been exploring Audacity for a bit because it was free, and by the time I started making tracks for real I already had some kind of flow going with it. I knew no one else was really using it, and I knew all these little tricks with it. You would hear things like how Jamal only used a Zoom drum machine, or some crazy records would only be done with some obscure piece of gear, so I decided that Audacity was kind of my DIY set up or something. Then I went on tour and didn’t want to bring my computer so I bought some gear to recreate my tracks, and at some point just started to hate Audacity. I had hardware now, so it really didn’t make sense to keep frustrating myself with Audacity; it was just like letting yourself move to a better apartment or something. The first record I did with hardware was the Workshop record, and you can definitely hear the change — not so much in the fidelity but just the process and the flow of the music. Hearing the music as you’re making it and making decisions in real-time rather than sculpting the music in the computer felt better to me.

I don’t find hardware versus software debates very interesting, and there’s certainly enough “raw” lo-fi live take things around, but it’s important to create situations that inspire you. Audacity was inspiring for me for a long time, but it stopped being at some point. I like returning to things, and building up a flow with machines. With Audacity, I would start working on something and then the track would be done when I was done arranging all the parts. There wasn’t really room to pull back and reflect on the process, to change the mix that much or whatever, since the program is so clunky. With this record, I spent a lot of time letting the loops wash over me, and then would zoom in and start working on the track. I multitracked everything so then I could zoom back out, move a section around, and then zoom back in and tighten up a small part of the mix. This was the process the whole time, using these live takes, bending and shaping them. 

Endgame is quite different from your previous work. How has your composition process changed?

I was just DJing a lot more. You listen to, like, 30 tracks in a row while you’re playing, and they all work together in interesting ways, and then you listen to a song at home and it rules but you try to play it out and it doesn’t work, and you wonder why. I started DJing a lot more when Bossa Nova [Civic Club] opened, and was exploring other people’s music in a more practical way. There are so many tracks where there’s nothing going on but they work so well, and I was fascinated by that. With the records I made before, I was getting obsessed with house and techno records as “albums”, and listening a lot on headphones, but when I would try to play some tracks in a mix it would just feel weird. With this one, I wanted the songs to be very emotionally clear and immediate — like, as soon as the song starts you should understand what the feeling of it is, not do a long build up or something. There are a lot of new technical things I did for the record, but it was all to support an intuitive emotional space that I wanted. It was also very important that I could play these songs in a set.

You have a residency at Bossa Nova. How has that changed you as a DJ?

Before I would just DJ around town and play records I liked. It was just for fun — I don’t think anyone had big expectations since I wasn’t really being booked as a DJ anywhere big. When Bossa Nova opened it was pretty perfect: it’s small, dark, and lots of fun. I didn’t want to play the same records every month, and Lori [Napoleon], who I DJ with, is an amazing DJ, and so I really had to work harder at it. I get so much new music to play every month, and it’s a great incubation spot to try out new ideas. Anyone who has a residency anywhere is embarrassed to play the same records over and over, and so you try new things and build up a rapport with your audience.

What do you think Sustain-Release meant for the scene here in New York?

It’s interesting because the sets people keep talking about seem to be the ones that were from locals, from people like Patricia who you may have seen play like 20 times around New York. The headliners were all great, but the sets from locals felt especially charged. It was big and special, and it was upstate, and everyone was there together for two days, and that made everyone who had witnessed the build up of it over the years really excited.

Download: LWE Presents Ital, Live At Sustain-Release (52:17)

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Little White Earbuds Presents Sendai http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/podcast/little-white-earbuds-presents-sendai/ http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/podcast/little-white-earbuds-presents-sendai/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 05:01:58 +0000 http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/?p=44296 Inter-Sendai-5

“Berlin Atonal 2014. The past, the present. The space. The line-up. The city of Berlin. Many friends and colleagues wandering in and out of our peripheral vision. Our first live-gig with new material from both our most recent album on Archives Intérieures and the new EP on Stroboscopic Artefacts. In many ways an intense thing to look forward to. A slight touch of nervousness crept in just before the set. But then, right after kicking off the first track everything falls into place. As things progressed during the performance we found ourselves smiling at each other, slowly easing into improvisational mode. There was a sense of playful control. Rarely did we encounter an opportunity so tailored to our sound and performance approach. Needless to say we enjoyed the show immensely. That’s also why we decided to put the recording out into the world. It will never beat the real thing, but we hope there is enough energy and wonder left in this recording to make you understand why we enjoyed this one a lot.” — Sendai

Download: LWE Presents Sendai, Live At Berlin Atonal 2014 (47:19)

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Little White Earbuds Presents Norm Talley http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/podcast/little-white-earbuds-presents-norm-talley/ http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/podcast/little-white-earbuds-presents-norm-talley/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 05:01:23 +0000 http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/?p=44276 Inter-NTalley-1

One of Detroit’s finest purveyors of house music, Norm Talley has been around since the early days of the city’s DJ culture. He came up in a time of fierce competition, when the cream of the Motor City DJs and future pioneers of techno and house were getting their start as well. Talley had been DJing for more than 15 years already before his first record came out on Eddie Fowlkes’ City Boy Records label in 1997, the Alexander Robotnick sampling Grove Street Shuffle still sounding as fresh today as it did nearly 20 years ago. With his Beatdown Brothers Delano Smith and Mike “Agent X” Clark he helped coin the term beatdown for the particular style of music you could hear at their legendary parties, a sound that was brought to greater attention outside of Detroit by the Third Ear Recordings Detroit Beatdown compilations. Though Talley’s output slowed in the 2000s due to his increased DJing, he hit the studio again in earnest towards the end of the decade and started releasing a steady flow of work for domestic and international labels. LWE got in touch with the veteran DJ to talk about his upcoming projects and the incredible amount mix tapes he has recorded over the years. He also kindly gave us an exclusive mix of some of his favorite producers from Detroit and around the globe.

Hi Norm. How are you? What have you been working on lately?

Norm Talley: All is well in Detroit! Working on a few new projects for Mixmode, Sushitech, KMS, Detroit Wax, Release/Sustain, Discover, and Traxx Underground, to name a few, as well as my first album and new label called Upstairs Asylum Recordings.

We interviewed Delano Smith a couple of years back and he talked about Ken Collier who was a massive inspiration for both of you (and many others too). What was the thing that really struck you about Ken as a DJ and how did he shape you as a DJ?

For one it was his music knowledge, as well as his DJ skills as far as blending and EQ work.

I was pretty amazed to read about the amount of mixtapes that you have made over your career. Do you still have copies and would or have you considered uploading them to make them available?

I recorded mixtapes from 1985-2000 and I still have every master copy. I began recording mixed CDs in the year of 2000 through the Roland VS-880 and burning them with the Roland CD burner, which is over 600 CDs to date! I have transferred about 50 mixed tapes or so to digital for listening purposes and in the future I may make them available.

I know you use a mixture of types of equipment in your studio these days but over the years would you say your approach to making music has changed?

No, I still have the same equipment I used from my very first track which was released on Eddie Fowlkes’ label City Boy Records. But within the last year I have acquired one piece of equipment that I like to use and that is Maschine and I got that through a good friend, Mike Huckaby.

What is the most indispensable tool you have in your studio?

Roland TR-909 and Juno-106.

To my knowledge I don’t think I’ve ever heard you work with a vocalist. Is that something that appeals to you or do you prefer to let the vibes do the talking?

I like vocal projects as well as dub mixes and have worked with some vocalists, including Miyon Bryant, Arnold Jarvis, Bill Beaver, Quinton McCray, and John Sinclair. But I do tend to release more of a trackier sound.

I read somewhere last year that there may be a Norm Talley album in the works. Has there been any development on that?

I am working on an album which is about 50% done, so it will be out in the near future.

What can you tell us about the mix you put together for us?

The Mix I put together is a collage of tracks from friends I have in Detroit as well as worldwide. Some of the artist included are Kai Alce, Jeremy Ellis, Delano Smith, Rolando, Scott Grooves, Nick Holder, and Roy Davis Jr.

Download: LWE Presents Norm Talley (64:00)

Tracklist:

01. Sandman & Riverside, “Into Your Story” (Kai Alcé DISTINCTIVE Vocal Mix) [FFWD]
02. Kerri Chandler, “Sunday Sunlight” (Delano Smith Remix) [Apollonia]
03. Nick Holder, “The Love Frequency” [DNH]
04. Shlomi Aber, “Foolish Games” [Be As One Imprint]
05. Hyenah, “The Wish” (Manoo Likes Apfelschorle Remix) [Freerange Records]
06. Eric Ericksson, “Yuki” (Deeper Dub) [Swedish Brandy]
07. Roy Davis Jr., “Mega Beatz” [*]
08. Ethyl & Flori, “Shelter” (Rolando Remix) [Secretsundaze]
09. Karim Sahraoui, “Stella” [Transmat Records]
10. Scott Grooves, “Untitled” [unknown]
* denotes tracks which, at the time of publishing, are unreleased

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Little White Earbuds Presents Rrose http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/podcast/little-white-earbuds-presents-rrose/ http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/podcast/little-white-earbuds-presents-rrose/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 05:01:46 +0000 http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/?p=44260 Inter-Rrose-1
Photo by Robert Causari

Two events, seven months apart: Rrose is first introduced to the world via Sandwell District, and the label proclaims its demise. In the intervening months, the seemingly new producer releases three gargantuan 12″s and a double pack of variations on American artist Bob Ostertag’s Buchla 200E recordings. Though it eventually becomes clear that Rrose is the new project of a veteran producer, information remains scarce, which seems to be half the point: removing the stage presence and identity of the performer, creating an immersive atmosphere, and questioning techno’s gender norms all seem to be crucial parts of the Rrose story. Setting up her own label, Eaux, Rrose has continued to prove himself a remarkable producer, melding interests in 20th century music with impeccable sound design. This weekend, Rrose will headline the inaugural edition of Sustain-Release in upstate New York: the festival’s psychedelic bent and mountainous location fitting perfectly with the artist’s surrealist, tripping techno. LWE caught up with Rrose for a brief chat about gender and presence, and she sent us a sterling mix of mind-bending techno.

Despite your anonymity, many are aware of your techno past, even if few know the exact details. What is it that you wanted to do with the Rrose project that differs from your past work?

Rrose: It’s mainly about focus. Now I set strict parameters, whereas before it was sort of anything goes. This project is a narrowing in and refining of one aspect of what I did before. There’s more emphasis on tuning, using frequency rather than pitch, and more thinking about the physical properties of sound.

You have talked about your dressing up on stage as part of the larger “performance” of Rrose. Do you find it allows you to feel more free on stage?

Not really. I generally like to keep the stage as dark as possible. I want people to feel my presence, but only as an anchor to the sound.

Many have taken Rrose’s gender to be female, but is that your intention? Is Rrose meant to be androgynous? Or is it meant to be a comment on techno’s often glaring gender divides?

All of the above. I’m not trying to make one specific, grand statement. Gender is (or at least it should be) a pretty fluid concept, so I think it’s good to get people thinking and talking about it.

Much of your music seems inspired by avant-garde 20th century music, both explicitly in your versions of Bob Ostertag’s work, as well as through the use of repeating, minimalist phrases and Reichian phasing (“Kneeling”). Has this interest always been with you, or is this an area of music you’ve discovered more recently?

It’s always been there to an extent, but more recently I took the time to study it, which makes me a little more disciplined in how I apply my influences. I should mention that I’m also inspired by non-Western traditional musics, early industrial, and all kinds of “non-musical” noise. But I’m still making techno at the end of the day, so the music has to be functional and make the body move.

Your DJ sets are often done on the computer, both live and as studio mixes. Do you have a background in traditional vinyl DJing? What does the computer allow you to express as a DJ that turntables wont?

I started DJing vinyl in the early ’90s and I still love the sound and feel of it, but the computer allows me to concentrate on layering, filtering, and mixing without worrying about beat-matching.

What can you tell us about the mix you’ve made?

This one is fairly representative of recent DJ sets, possibly a little more driving than past mixes. As always, I try to choose tracks that really speak to each other and lend themselves to long mixes. There’s some brand new stuff, a few classics, and some unreleased material in there as well.

What’s coming up next for you?

There’s a related project coming out on Seattle’s Further Records (two live recordings of James Tenney’s “Having Never Written a Note for Percussion” for solo gong), a track on the Stroboscopic Artefacts five year anniversary compilation, and a remix of Teste’s classic “The Wipe” for Edit-Select. There will be a new release on Eaux before year-end as well, and some exciting projects are in store for next year.

Download: LWE Presents Rrose (66:13)

Tracklist:

01. Rrose, “Untitled” [*]
02. Regis, “Reclaimed 4″ [Downwards]
03. Svaag, “Sage” [Semantica]
04. BMG + Derek Plaslaiko, “Your Mind is Mine”
[Interdimensional Transmissions]
05. Brendan Moeller, “Passage to Obscurity” [Atrophic Society]
06. Iori, “Inject” [Field]
07. Plastikman, “Elektrostatik” [Plus8]
08. Mike Dearborn, “Destruction” [Djax]
09. Broken English Club, “Untitled” [*]
10. G-Man, “Kushti” [swim]
11. French Fries, “Change the Past” [ClekClekBoom]
12. L.A.W., “Isola” [Black Nation]
13. Bronze Teeth, “Albion Pressure” [Diagonal]
14. Rrose, “Untitled” [*]
15. Kwartz, “Form and Void” (Reeko Remix) [PoleGroup]
16. Gunnar Haslam, “Ataxia No Logos” [Delsin]
17. Rebekah, “Diablo” [Cult Figures]
18. Peter Van Hoesen, “Chroma 3″ [Time To Express]
19. Denise Rabe, “The Drama”
20. Antonio Vasquez, “Hidden Consequences From a Diffuse Reality”
[Exhibition Design]
21. Damaskin, “Kaona II” [Concrete]
22. Ben Vida, “pin ans sweek” [PAN]
* denotes tracks which, at the time of publishing, are unreleased

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LWE Interviews Marcus Mixx http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/feature/little-white-earbuds-interviews-marcus-mixx/ http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/feature/little-white-earbuds-interviews-marcus-mixx/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 05:01:21 +0000 http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/?p=44243 marcus-1

Many times what divided the early Chicago house producers who became household names from those who remain underground heroes was not their musical abilities but their label’s business acumen. Marcus Shannon, best known as Marcus Mixx, is one of the better examples of this. Concerned that rapacious record labels would screw him and and his production partners Gitano Camero (aka L.I.A.M.) and China, Marcus opted to self-release nearly all of their productions. In a time where Chicago house records were selling thousands upon thousands of copies, such classics as “I Wanna House” and “Is This Dream For Real?” were limited to a few hundred each — and not out of a desire to create artificial scarcity. Many never made it to vinyl at all, at least not with Marcus’s permission in the case of Le Melange’ Inc.’s “Tortured Journey.” As this extensive interview below reveals, making music was truly more important to Marcus than widely disseminating it. And while he proved an adept label manager and club promoter in the early ’90s, there’s a good chance Marcus would have remained one of Chicago house’s forgotten greats if not for crucial reissues by Let’s Pet Puppies in 2006 and newer material on Unknown To The Unknown in 2011-12. I recently met with him at a Dunkin Donuts on Chicago’s near south side to discuss the origins of his productions, his short stint managing Trax Records, and where he’s at today.

Did you grow up in a musical household?

Marcus Shannon: Yeah, I grew up what is known as South Side Irish in the Beverly area of Chicago. I moved over there when I was 6, and that was in ’72. It was about 75 percent Irish and very heavily Catholic; so when I went to grammar school I grew up with [Led] Zeppelin, the Doors, and disco, soul, jazz, and blues. So I had a whole assortment of music that I grew up on. That’s where I get my ideas and thoughts from when it comes to producing or writing or whatever. I’m all over the highway.

When did you start making music?

I actually started recording in ’86. I’d just turned 20 and I had a great job at this grocery store, still in Chicago, called Jewel Foods. So I had the money to finance my own project, and that’s when vinyl still ruled. I did my first song called “I Wanna House.” My buddy hooked me up with this studio that was only $10 per hour. I’d never been inside of a studio, it was a little eight-track. That’s the guy Gitano Camero who eventually became one of my best friends ever. He didn’t even know what house music was.

So you introduced him to house music?

Yeah. We met through a mutual friend who was into everything. And when I went to the studio, the first thing I wanted was a simple [makes 4x4 kick drum noise]. He was like, “OK,” and he had a drum machine and was like, “Dude we don’t really mess with this drum machine, we have drum kits.” I was like, “Nah, I wanna do this,” and was really introducing him at the same time to my first project. I said, “Can you make it thicker and louder?” And the levels started pumping up higher and higher. He was like, “Man, what are you doing?” So I say, “This is what house music is.” So, “I Wanna House,” he didn’t have any syncs — you couldn’t sync the stuff up on his stuff, so I did it all by hand — the bass line, all the music — and I did my own vocals. The total project cost $300 ‘cuz he didn’t charge me. The following weekend when I went back to finish that song he was like, “Man, me and my girlfriend, China, we’ve been checking this out. We love house music. Would you help us do a song?” And we were best friends.

You worked with them on the project Le Melange’ Inc. How did that record come about? Just because you were all hanging out?

It was just us hanging out. We weren’t even looking at the studio aspect my second and third visits over there. It was the fact that they had the equipment; we’d be over there at 2, 3 in the morning listening to WBMX, the original Hot Mix 5, or some tapes I would bring by, because they were just getting introduced and stuff. They’d be like, “Hey man, I’ve got this great idea!” And we might still be over here doing whatever, and I might go in there and start playing around, or Gitano or whoever in this small little group we had including China and Krazy K maybe. “Wait, hold on, do that again,” and he would record it and loop it. Eventually we started moving up and we started getting more business-minded and was like, “Wow, we can really do something with this.”

Referring back to “I Wanna House” for one second, that first gap between when I got my first test pressing, we must have recorded four-five different songs waiting on “I Wanna House.” They were more excited than I was, because we actually built something from a seed and watched it grow like a tree or something. We got the first test pressing, it was like a young kid getting a birthday present. It was so exciting. I only ordered 300 copies, and I started to learn how to move product that way. I went to the original Imports Etc. on Plymouth Court, JR’s Records — I don’t want to leave anybody out, but the ones that were there back then — and I was like, “Will you please check that record out.” We didn’t have any radio play because we’d just started — I say we because they were helping me — and wow, we must have sold them instantly, because they wondered, “What is Missing Records?”

Why was it that you ended up putting it out yourself instead of trying to shop it around to other record labels?

Because of all the alleged rumors that you’d hear, in any form of music even until today. When you want to put something out, you’d hear that record labels are all just scum and all that, you need an agent, a manager. And in a lot of case you do, but like I said, I grew up in rock and that I’d talk to my buddies in bands and they were making money and they were still independent. They would sell their tapes at their gigs and some of them didn’t even have vinyl yet. So I took it from this level. Other DJs back then weren’t using cassettes as much, they wanted vinyl, so I said, “Well, I guess I gotta do vinyl.” It was my money, I didn’t go to my parents, because like I said, I had that nice gig as a kid at Jewel Foods.

But the problem, I’m looking back on it, we’d only pressed up like 700 copies. We did the initial order and a reorder. And then we did “Is This Dream For Real?” and other stuff, but we never really focused on it. Even when we had opportunities with Trax Records and D.J. International, and Ray Barney’s Barney’s Records, just locally, we didn’t really pursue it. It was fun, and yeah, “We made a clump of money, and let’s party with it.” We had no management of any sorts. It was like a hobby slash, like, “OK, we don’t have enough beer for this weekend, let’s sell 50 more copies to Imports.” It was good, but looking back, we coulda woulda shoulda, and everybody goes through that.

Because you did end up having one record on Saber Records [a Trax sub-label], and there was one on Streetfire, which was the sub-label of Saber. How did those come about, since you were mostly focusing on putting out the music yourself?

Oh yeah. The best thing about being on Saber, Streetfire, and even Trax Records was, and I have to give Steve Poindexter all the credit on this one, because one day out-of-the-blue he called me up and said he was leaving Trax as their A&R and asked me did I want the gig. And he actually hired me. Larry Sherman, the original owner, along with Rachael Cain — Screamin’ Rachael, she wasn’t as big a factor then, when Larry was still there. So Steve was like, “If you want the job, Marcus, you can have it.” I’m like, “Well, I haven’t really run a record company.” He said, “But you know how to promote stuff. It’s not that hard and we’re in the house music capital, third largest media market in America — it ain’t that hard.”

So I took the gig and Larry Sherman, after the first couple of days, gave me carte blanche. He said, “Make sure we sell the obvious stuff” — the stuff that sells redundantly to this day, “Move Your Body,” “The Jungle,” the Trax classics — “and put your stuff out if you think it can sell. Even if it doesn’t sell, we can recycle it.” Because he had that pressing plant. I said, “I wanna form Saber into this sound, Streetfire into more of a deeper sound.” There was a label called Dangerous which I was trying to make an acid house sound, and then you have the original Trax.

But the thing is, Larry Sherman had a very crappy reputation with distributors and stores, and even artists. I saw his Rolodex on his desk one day and I just went through the Rolodex day by day, all around the world, phone numbers and faxes. There was no email. And I let people know, “I’m running the label now — all of them — and [you] don’t have pay an extra $3-4 per unit. Come to Marcus Mixx and get your stuff done. And the numbers went up like 300% per week for sales, and that’s when I said, I’m going to put my stuff out, because at least if my stuff doesn’t blow up like that, there’s other things. He gave me access to his Cadillacs, which I wasn’t really into. He gave me the keys to the warehouse, I could party there if I wanted to. But I got a lot of work done, and I learned a lot from Ray Barney and Rocky Jones, and even Larry, just like the marketing and… It’s all redundant. It doesn’t matter if it’s house or hip-hop or rock, even country — I’ve been around that aspect. It all funnels up to, even if you’ve got great owners and stuff, the bottom line is: sell it.

How long were you in that position?

I was there probably six to nine months. Because it was more of a handshake deal — nothing was ever written down as far as doing stuff with Larry Sherman. That’s the problem why some artists, including myself, may get like $300 and that’s it. No points ever, even if your stuff appears in movies. But the reason I left was ‘cuz, he wouldn’t even give me gas money, let alone my salary, for like three weeks. I would literally take cash and money orders and all these certified checks that were coming to me directly now, because people were dealing with me instead of him. So, here’s five grand, and they would wire it to me. I’d say to Larry, “Hey I’m bringing the money to one of your houses.” He had like three at the time in the Chicagoland area. I would get in one of his Cadillacs he let me use, and I would take bundles of money like it was a Swiss bank, and invoices and everything. He would be so happy, and I would say, “Larry, I need like $50 to put in the Caddy.” “We didn’t do that well today, Marcus. Maybe tomorrow.” He was never yelling. I would have to beg him for $20 after I’m bringing him all this money.

Gitano was like, “Man, you’re getting screwed!” I went three weeks without getting any gas money. Family started coming out on me saying, “You can’t work for somebody who’s not paying you.” So one night, Gitano and I were hanging out and he was like, “You should bust him out for his bootlegging.” Now Larry Sherman had was rumored– I knew he was bootlegging, but I didn’t have anything to do with it. So I said, “If he doesn’t pay me in a couple of days, we’re gonna go to Channel Two News” here in Chicago. And there’s this lady Pam Zekman, and I invited her to the warehouse and showed her the bootlegging aspect as revenge for not being paid. [Larry] would thank me but I had to borrow money from ex-girlfriends and stuff just to work, not even to hang out or whatever.

That’s why I quit. That’s the only reason I quit. It was probably the toughest decision I made in my young years. I was in my mid-to-late 20s. Perfect job, because Larry was hardly ever there. I had my own desk. I would fly to work, whether I was staying the night at a girlfriend’s house or Madison or Milwaukee, because I would love to see how many faxes were piled up for all the orders. There was no fax catcher so they would be spread across the back room. I was getting orders in all languages from around the world. Istanbul, Turkey, I was getting… just imagine if the Internet was out then! I was meeting people mentally and only orally, and they were into Trax again and just starting to get into Saber. I would be like, “Why don’t you take 100 Dangerous’s and I’ll sell it to you for like $2, and I’ll give you — shhh — 50 of whatever Trax you want. Just put these on your shelves.” Now that’s basically common sense to anybody, but when you see it, any aspect of business or marketing, it’s like introducing a new cheeseburger.

Did you end up having any other jobs in the music industry after that?

Not necessarily as far as A&Ring or one specific label. That’s when I got more into the promotional aspect of just doing parties. What I would do is go into clubs and bars that would have very slow nights, and I would go to the owner and say, “Give me that night for a month, give me 50 percent of the door and I’ll get people in here. Very diverse, won’t be any gangs or anything, no matter what neighborhood in the Chicagoland area and ‘burbs, and you keep the bar.” And they had nothing to lose. I was still DJing at the time as Marcus Mixx and Marcus the Mixxer. I would get people like Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy, and Farley, and Hurley, and anybody. Just legends.

Were you friends with those guys?

Not really friends, because I’m like 10+ years younger, depending — it was like I was still a kid in high school when they were getting to the very tops worldwide. What I would do, and you would hear this story from a lot of guys who were in house music back then, I’d be very fortunate to carry their records into the club. I was lucky, at 16 I was driving a ’78 Cutlass, beautiful car, I was getting to the club an hour early, so when Farley pulls up, “Hey Farley, how you doing? Can I carry your crate in?” “Ah, OK, don’t break my records.” I didn’t know if he was joking — he was joking — but I’m like, “Oh my god, I hope I don’t scratch one record!” They would be all sealed and everything, but that’s how nervous I was. They’d ask, “OK, what do you want to do now?” “Can I just stand here and watch?” So I’d just be way in the corner as he’s doing his thing. And then more and more, I was just watching how they did stuff.

Is that partially how you learned how to DJ as well?

Oh yeah, as far as commercially really blossoming and making money out of it. I would do it for a hobby at home. But as a matter of fact, Frankie and Ronnie sometimes, but mainly Farley, would ask me to open for them. ‘Cuz there would be some gigs that would start at 7, and they’re the headliner so there would be a gap. So I’m messing around while they’re testing the sound, and Farley ain’t even got there yet. He’d be like, “Hey Marcus you want to open for me, go 7-9pm?” I knew nobody really gonna be in there, but it’s like, “I’m opening for Farley!” Getting out those cell phones that are like 50 feet high, you need a van or helicopter just to hold them to talk, “I’m opening for Farley!” “You’re crazy!” they’d say. “Come up there.” I’m sure other people have stories that are similar when it comes to basketball or whatever, carrying Jordan’s sneakers or Pippen’s.

What was the reaction to your music like back in those days? I know you were able to press 700 copies of some of your records, but what was the reaction like in the club and from other DJs?

The best thing about Chicago — and I earned most from DJ in general when I was doing it was, I guess the word is respect. Because most of them were putting out stuff, too. Even though their commercial stuff maybe number one on the dance charts, they always have other artists they’re experimenting with and they wouldn’t get the radio play other than themselves or their buddies. So it’d be like a trade off in that sense, too. They would also be honest, not necessarily in how you mixed or why did you choose this bass line, they’d be like, “You know how you get your stuff on the radio? Don’t make every mix like 8 minutes long. Do a shorter version.” I would mentally jot this down and maybe do a 5 minute version of what’s originally a 9 minute track for the club. When we first started hearing our stuff on college radio, WKKC and WNUR here in Chicago, it really started to make sense. I started getting more into the marketing thing. Now as far as selling these 700 records, we never really reordered. That was on us. We could have either re-licensed it or gone to Trax back then, way before I was working there, when I was like 20 at the time. D.J. International or Ray Barney here locally said, “We want to do something with that,” but we were just moving on and playing around.

I was thinking about how a lot of the subject matter of your music and the tone really reminds of stuff that would have come out on Dance Mania or Cajual or Relief Records. Did you ever try to work with those labels?

I think I started coming into contact with them. I never really traveled, and this was way before the Internet, but I had made contacts with them or been introduced to this A&R or this artist or manager or something. But the one thing we did down at Head Studios, we sort of made this underlying or invisible trust like thing. We wouldn’t go anywhere else. If Gitano does something separate, we still have to come along and be a part of it. So if he gets this great offer, we have to roundtable it. Mentally, really. We wouldn’t hold each other back or anything, but we never really pursued it. It was a great feeling having people say, “Wow, we coulda woulda shoulda.” But yeah, there were some other opportunities but, like I said, my life for maybe about five years consisted of going to my part-time job, just looking forward to the weekends. I would hang out with whatever girlfriend I was with, I’d have buddies come through, and we would break out the guitars and there would be Zeppelin styles. We would just experiment. It wasn’t like, “OK, you’d better be here by 10.” It was more, “Oh dude, we just saw this movie, I got this great idea.” We were all over the highway, and there’s still stuff that, God willing, it will be released. It’s in that T.A.P. and psycho-house mode. There’s some stuff recorded pre-1990 that’s on those DAT tapes.

So what happened to all those DAT tapes?

Hopefully they’re still with Gitano, or they’re somewhere. But I talk to him almost every other day on Facebook and emails, he says they’re protected so that temperature and time won’t mess them up. He says, and I believe him, that he burned them on a couple of CDs for back up. I hope that somebody gets their hands– it’s not really a matter of a lot of money, but once again… There’s some stuff that we did let some DJs play, Farley and Frankie and them, when they were still using cassette mixers, they would play them inside the clubs and I would play them inside the clubs, and there would be other DJs there like, “What is that?” You play guaranteed hits like “Move Your Body” or Larry Heard’s “Can You Feel It?” and then fade into one of our tracks and the crowd would still be up and they’d be like, “What is this?” “Oh, this is my track.” “What are you gonna do with it?” “Well…” And we weren’t being snotty, it’s just like, “Um, we don’t know if we’re gonna put it out next week or next month.” But a lot of them never came out.

For a period of time you were self-releasing a bunch of CDRs of your music called the “Legal Volume”s. First off, why were they called that?

I put that out when I was still staying in the house I grew up in in Beverly, the very diverse community I grew up in. I called them the “Legal Volumes” because a lot of our stuff had been bootlegged. So it was an indirect slap at the people who– since we only put out 700 original copies of “I Wanna House” and “Is This Dream For Real?” and stuff, people started bootlegging it. So I just started putting out the “Legal Volumes” for the few people like yourself who would notice it. But it was Marcus Mixxed Up Records; I did them all on an Acer — those huge computers — and I finally got Mac and did some stuff on that. Every single note I did. Some of them got out to, like Unknown To The Unknown and stuff like that. I didn’t really shop them as much, because I was taking care of my dad who had dementia. So I just dropped off the scene for about scene for about three years — recently, I mean. This is going back to about 2009 and ’10-11 or whatever. That was just stuff I would play around with.

The one thing I will say is, I’ve talked with Rachael Cain, the predominate owner of Trax now, I’ve already agreed… some people don’t want me to say this, but I’m very proud of this. She has a show called Trax TV based out of Chicago on cable 25. She said I can edit and help co-produce it.

That’s fantastic.

So hopefully there’s no blockade or anything comes up by anybody. But I’d love to be back with Trax. I’ve made up with Larry Sherman. And there was some other stuff in the gap I really don’t have to get into, but there’s no hatred or vengeance. It was stupid on both parts, we agreed to that a couple years ago. There were some other offers he had offered me. I didn’t even do ‘em, I was doing just mainly video editing at the time. But everything has been a nice, full circle ride. It’s good to know — the Internet, there’s some people even in the newer generation that like the stuff, even from the past.

That’s a good point. Do you still have the original master tapes of stuff like “Is This Dream For Real?” Because I bet if you were to do a legit re-issue you could sell thousands of copies if you wanted to. I don’t know if you do want to.

Oh, absolutely. It’s just a matter of legal stuff that I’ve never really been involved in.

Who has a claim on it besides you and Gitano?

It’s really all over the highway, because, like I said, a lot of that stuff we did, we may have a couple of our buddies over and they may have contributed to the one loop every 16 measures and people go “Wow!” and then get back into the song, and then there’s a build up. But they may have never received any credit. So I would say, a couple people are like, “Hey, I want my piece here,” which I’m for, but then somebody over here may go, “Well, their name is not on there.” I’m like, “Look, we have some fun just doing this and that, it’s better than nothing.” Plus it’s more pump– I’m looking at it from a marketing perspective. So there is some slight legal crap that may be involved, but I’ve never been involved in that.

Changing subjects, I’m curious when you got involved with filming and editing? Is that a long time interest of yours?

That was actually something that got started through Gitano as well. When we were becoming more and more buddies, about a month after our friendship and recording “I Wanna House” and they’re just starting to get into house music period, he was like, “I’ve got this great idea for this show.” He was more of the video guy, and he took classes down at Cable 19 here in Chicago, CAN-TV. He said, “Man, you’re not going to believe what I’ve been learning,” like one form of video editing, Chroma key, the weatherman effect. We out to the studio and there was this blue screen and he said, “Stand in front of the screen.” I’m just standing there and he put an image behind me and I’m like, “Wow. Hey man, get my head doing this!” [swerves his head around] His show was called Booom TV, like an explosion. Have you ever seen any of the old stuff?

I’ve seen a little bit of the stuff on your YouTube channel.

Yeah, there’s a couple of clips on there, but we still have all the tapes. So I go like this [moves his head again] for like 20 seconds and then I scream into the mic, the words “Booom TV” appear and then my head explodes. And the show was a house version of “Soul Train.” We may have 20 people in the studio, three cameras, and images in the background. And then there was a mix. We got mixes from Gene Hunt and Chip-E and Poindexter, and I did my own mixes. Every week were on, then we started going live on the air. So we would be on from like 11pm to midnight, and then we’re telling people to come meet us up at Club AKA or Coconuts or whatever we were doing. That’s how you promote: go live on the air. [laughs] I’d get people in for free, and then the following Monday people would be talking, “Man, Marcus Mixx did this party that was outstanding! You won’t believe! It was great, it was different.”

As far as the editing, I started branching off on my own and then eventually bought a couple of cameras. I’m not the most technical guy in the world. I like using the easy software that they call “grandma software” because even grandma can use it and it usually comes with the computer you get. I started building up. Currently what I’ve been doing the last couple of years is “Cheap But Not Cheap” videos where people literally send me the footage and images that they do on their own along with some clean audio and I’ll make a video for them.

The reason they’re cheap is because there’s a zillion bands out there. It’s not like I’m a saint or anything, they don’t have any other means, but nobody will do them for like $30 or $50. I do ‘em in like four hours, I don’t just crap ‘em out, but I actually get into it. So if it’s just a band playing in their basement, I’ll suggest to them as well, “Why don’t you go into your backyard and just jam? You don’t have to have the music on, just do Nirvana-type stuff and just rip-and-run and throw snowballs at each other, and send me the footage. Let me play with it and make a video, add some special effects, some worms, whatever, girls in bikinis, and turn it into a “real video.” So I’ve been doing that for a while.

And are you still making music?

Yeah. The gap now as we record this… by partying too much, by drinking too much beer, I physically have to go into rehab. The doctors gave me a choice. They’re like… and it was a spiritual thing, too. It was like, “You came this close to possibly dying because you just like…” So literally, for about the past two months now, I was in rehab first, then I went to Salvation Army, which is like a rehab/help people get their stuff together in a lot of ways. And now I’m at Pacific Garden, and this, God willing, is the last step. Financially, I have the money to go on my own, but I’m in a tumble with my family now. They think if I get access to my money all I’m going to do is drink it up. And I see where they’re coming from, but at the same time it’s like, God only knows how long I’m going to be here. I don’t know, you don’t know. We just have to see. They know that once I start editing and making music again for whomever, yeah, there’s going to be some money there. Not millionaire money.

How did you end up meeting Thomos from Let’s Pet Puppies?

I believe I met him at Head Studios. I don’t know who was doing… it may have been China. I don’t know if they worked together. When hears this, he may get angry because I don’t remember. It had to be at least 20 years ago, because it was in the ’90s. I just remember he was a big fan of some of our stuff, and he helped us get more distribution. We were on the cusp of starting to do something with Underdog Records and Missing Dog was the label that was really about to do something. He made great suggestions and started getting our stuff in different markets on a bigger level. Gitano and China and us, we never really thought of focusing mainly on the business side of it. There was no pressure from Thomos, but after Gitano and China broke up, we were still recording but it was this-and-that. We were doing the TV show and I was starting to do videos and promotions at the time. But his label, Let’s Pet Puppies, has some great artists like Jody Finch and some other guys.

[I asked Thomos myself via email. This was his answer:]

Thomos: In the early 2000s, I was heavy into record digging and obsessed with the Missing and Missing Dog material. Adding to the mystique, someone I bought records from insisted that Marcus was legitimately crazy, and could be found wearing a cape at Beverly bus stops. I’d later find out this was BS, as the party in question spread those rumors only after stealing most of Marcus’s record collection. True or not, it added to the mystery and fueled my obsession. Marcus would run Booom TV on Channel 21, Chicago’s public access station. The intro is this crazy rotating head (his), a jagged loop without any audio at all. Indescribably weird. Marcus is not crazy, but he’s eccentric to say the least, and Booom was always an outlet for his more avant-garde side. During the show he would basically beg people to call him, flashing his number up on the screen. One day I did.

The night I went down to Beverly to meet him there was an intense thunderstorm, making things that much more surreal for me. Marcus was living in the house he grew up in (pictured on LPP005), up on top of the only hill for miles. It was falling apart, and had animals living in some areas — he’d bang on the door to “clear” a room before entering. He showed me his damaged teeth from his unfortunate police incident. It became apparent that he had been completely detached from the music scene for years, a time capsule of sorts. He seemed amped to have gotten a response from Booom other than racist calls, which were relentless (and to which he seemed totally accustomed). He had been hiding in plain sight, begging people to call him.

Everything you put out on Let’s Pet Puppies was older stuff, right?

Marcus: Yeah, those are all older. He, Gitano, and I have all discussed some of the older stuff we discussed 20 minutes ago. I just don’t know the scheduling for it. It would do good because of the responses I receive from DJs. They’re like, “When are you going to put out this again?” A lot of these guys are doing it out of respect, they don’t want bootlegs and they still like vinyl. Thomos is the one I’m sticking with. He has other businesses that he does as well, but I’ve also talked to some other artists that I can’t name right now. They’re original house music stars who would love to appear on Let’s Pet Puppies. God, I swear, he knows this. That would pump up the label; I just don’t know when that’s going to occur. But there are some mega names from the beginning of house to now to, God willing, the future, that could be on Let’s Pet Puppies as soon as the go button is pressed.

When was the last time you DJed?

That was probably 20-25 years ago.

What contributed to you not DJing any more?

Oh, the promotional aspect. Do you remember those posters? I was just into all promotions and sponsorships. It wasn’t like I was saying, “Well, I’m a promoter now, DJs are here, get away from me,” but I wanted to make sure stuff got done. I learned that a lot of businesses, when I was focusing on house music at the time, if you tell a sponsor, like a major beer company or cola or chips or whatever, you’re gonna have this done, it has to get done. You can’t depend on friends and buddies. Even if they do put in their hard effort and it’s like half a crowd, because I’m going to take the hit for it, and rightly so. So I wasn’t really thinking about DJing at the time.

Have you considered it again in more recent times?

I have in the last couple of years, but, once again, my family — and they don’t rule me or anything, it’s just like, a mental thing — they’re like, “If you do that, you’re going to get back into the women and drinking and all that,” especially with more travels. I’ve had some offers to do some stuff opening for people like Farley and some other people, playing stadiums like Wembley. I can only imagine; I’ve seen it online. Even if I open, if 5,000 people are there and they don’t even listen to my stuff, but the time Farley gets there there’s 100,000 people, in a stadium for house music. It’s August 19th, 2014 now. God willing, next four to six weeks I’m going to make a decision of where I go. Is it going to be a nice, comfortable apartment or just something small where I’m not going to be inviting people over and tempted when the 12-packs come through and stuff. DJing would be great, though, even on a part-time basis.

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Time Division, Memory of Shape http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/review/time-division-memory-of-shape/ http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/review/time-division-memory-of-shape/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 05:01:32 +0000 http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/?p=44232 DTM_work_03

[Short Black Records]


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Based on Short Black’s first release, you could be forgiven for assuming a strictly-local ethos. For starters, the Melbourne-based label is named in honor of the city’s fanatical coffee culture, and its first signing was Matt Kennedy, a young local. But record number two, Time Division’s Memory of Shape, blasts that conception out of the Arabica-infused water. It’s a truly global thing, signed by a Swede — Short Black owner Johan Elgstrom — produced by two Frenchmen, and twice remixed by Americans.

Accordingly, it’s not a record which feels tied to any particular place. “Shape One” and “Shape Two” are sparse bits of rolling tech house which would feel at home in many an after-hours DJ set, if only for their lack of bold features. Groove is the key here, with swirling, dubby textures almost an afterthought. Both recall Daniel Stefanik’s later work, particularly for labels such as Kann, albeit with a smaller room feel. “Shape One” drags itself down somewhat by throwing Detroit-referencing vocals into the mix, a move that feels more contrived than anything.

Amir Alexander’s remix doesn’t do away with the vocals all together, but it does get more creative with them, shorting out the sample among flares of jaunty synth and distracted drumming. It wouldn’t sound out of place on Udacha, the Russian label that so perfectly blends jazz and house tropes with an improvised feel. Like Amir Alexander’s effort, Dakini9′s remix of “Shape Two” feels more sophisticated than the flat-footed original it draws from. Here, the original’s insistent groove is submerged into a line of swaying drums and moody chords. But in doing so, there’s also a sense that Dakini9′s pursuit of subtlety caused her to lose sight of the overall picture. At times, it’s hard to appreciate the track advancing anywhere, pleasant as its blanketing textures are. For certain dance floors — and home listeners — this feel, which dominates Memory of Shape, will be a boon. For the most part, though, it seems like Amir Alexander’s remix is the only cut that’ll truly get hearts fluttering.

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Little White Earbuds Presents MMM http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/podcast/little-white-earbuds-presents-mmm/ http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/podcast/little-white-earbuds-presents-mmm/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 05:01:04 +0000 http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/?p=44216 MMM-Interview-1

Erik Wiegand and Michael Fiedler have released on average less than one MMM record every two years since their 1996 debut, but despite this torturously slow rate of return for their fans, they have attained a highly respected position within their field. This too in the face of the fact that their music often sounds so simplistic that you wonder if they are not playing some kind of slick sonic joke on their listeners. But there is no denying the efficacy of their tracks to move you on a dance floor, mete out severe cranial damage and just generally mess with your synapses. LWE recently put some questions to the duo and found out more about their approach to making music, Erik’s involvement in creating soft synths for Native Instruments, and what each of the producers have in store for us with their solo projects and as MMM. They also gave us an advance preview of their forthcoming treats with an exclusive mix of their own work and that of some of their favored peers.

First of all, how did the two of you meet and what were you each doing musically already at that point?

MMM: A common DJ friend called Niplz introduced us in 1994. Erik had made music since his teenage days, but hadn’t released anything yet. After moving to Berlin in ’91 he built a small home studio and started to produce dance tracks. Fiedel was DJing and organizing parties, and he was a regular at Subversiv, an underground gay club in a squat. His musical focus at this time was mainly Detroit techno and electro stuff.

What was the common musical thread that made you decide to work with each other?

We liked what the other was doing music wise. So we tried to make music together. We had a jam approach where we used the studio as our instrument. We turned knobs of analogue synthesizers, switched patterns, we mixed on the fly, recorded the jam on DAT and cut it on the PC. It worked out very well to jam with four hands instead of two.

You had two great releases before you took a break from making music together. What was MMM to you at this stage? Had you planned out the project at all or was it just the result of two friends making music?

MMM was our platform to release our music, whenever we had something to release. We avoided the pressure of release schedules. That’s why we preferred to release it on our own via Hard Wax. The pause wasn’t planned. It just happened. Our circumstances changed.

What brought about the two of you working together as MMM more often again?

We had time and inspiration to turn the knobs together again. The first results were the Anniversary EP with Soundhack and a live set, triggered by an invitation to play at a Numbers party in Glasgow.

Has anything changed for you in how you make MMM tracks now as opposed to the earlier days?

Back in the days we mainly used analogue gear. Now we work with a computer for almost everything, using a lot of Erik’s Reaktor instruments. But the jam approach is still valid.

Is music your main occupation for both of you?

Yes, we both produce music, perform live, and DJ. Erik develops synthesizers. Fiedel also is also part of Wax Treatment, organizing events and taking care of the mighty Killasan Soundsystem.

MMM releases have a stark, almost crude simplicity to the melodies used. Would it be fair to say you focus more on sound design rather than creating complex rhythmic structures? What is the driving force behind the MMM sound?

We like to modulate sounds over time in an expressive way. That is what keeps the track running; it gives the structure of the track. Such modulations can create complexity too. But yes, we like to keep tracks as simple as possible. To us that’s the definition of a good club track. Simple but enough in it to make it work. There should be something special to it too, a certain twist, an idea that draws one’s attention.

Michael, you have started releasing your own solo work in the past few years. Had you always been making music on your own before or only in collaboration with Erik?

First I used to make music only in collaboration with Erik. But there were my own ideas that I wanted to develop and therefore I started with my own label Fiedelone.

The second release on your own label was from Your Silent Face. Will there be any other artists on MMM or is that strictly for the two of you?

As a release platform for collaboration projects I set up Fiedeltwo. Fiedelone is just for my own solo productions. On MMM there will be only our own material.

Did doing the “Meets Tshetsha Boys” release turn you on to more ethnic influences? I hear strains of that coming through on tracks like “Que Barbaro” and Fiedel’s “Trinidad.”

Must be coincidence. We listen to different styles of music. That’s where we get our influences from. We work with elements which are inspiring to us or might fit to what we already have. There is no real plan.

Erik you were behind the Razor plug-in for Native Instruments. What has been your history in synths and software and how did the Razor come about?

I constantly develop synthesizers with Reaktor that I use for music productions. For some years I worked at Native Instruments doing Reaktor related stuff, and later I contributed instruments to the library of Reaktor. Since a few years Native can also sell instruments made with Reaktor as a separate product. I had this idea for an additive synth and convinced them that we should release it this way. Then I developed Razor in partnership with them.

I was listening to your recent Boiler Room mix the other day, Erik, and it hinted that you might have a couple of new Errorsmith releases coming. Is that true?

Yes I am working on it. There must be a new Errorsmith release this year. I swore it to myself. It’s looking good. It’s been 10 years now without a release. An awkward anniversary. :-)

And you guys just released your Jack 7 12″. Is there more to come from MMM this year too?

We are busy working on an album and we are hoping for a single release from that this year.

What can you tell us about the mix you’ve put together for us?

We did the mix back to back playing tracks that we currently like including the new MMM and upcoming releases from us. Big up to all the artists for their great music!

Download: LWE Presents MMM (60:21)

Tracklist:

01. Mike Huckaby, “Bassline 89″ [SYNTH]
02. Arttu, “UFO Funkin’” [Clone Royal Oak]
03. Redshape, “Dogz” [Running Back]
04. MMM, “Syncro” [MMM]
05. Matrixxman, “Simulation” (Creepy Autograph Translation) [Ultramajic]
06. Tom Trago & Bok Bok, “Silent G Safari” [Night Voyage]
07. Alden Tyrell, “Wurk It” [Clone Jack For Daze]
08. Errorsmith, “Joker” [unreleased]
09. Ratchett Traxx, “B1″ [Ratchett Traxx]
10. French Fries, “Bug Noticed” [ClekClekBoom]
11. DJ Deeon, “House-O-Matic” [Dance Mania]
12. KW, “Swift Day” [self-released]
13. Martyn, “Vancouver” (Head High Remix) [3024]
14. Pev & Asusu, “Surge” (MMM Remix) [Livity Sound]
15. Tallmen. 785, “Down” (Fiedel Remix) [unreleased]
16. MMM, “Jack7″ [MMM]
17. Fiedel, “Step Aside” [unreleased]
18. R1 Ryders, “Speedbump” [Current]
19. L-Vis 1990, “Not Mad “(Helix Bootleg) [Night Slugs]

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MRSK, Gunwar http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/review/mrsk-gunwar/ http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/review/mrsk-gunwar/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 05:01:52 +0000 http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/?p=44133 joseph ford 3[3]
Artwork by Joseph Ford

[Crime City Disco]


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Every artist uses aliases for different reasons. Martin Skogehall, though, has explicitly used his for the same thing many people do: to give voice to a particular sound inside him: really intense techno, in the case of MRSK. Which is weird, because Skogehall is far too creative (or perhaps just restless) to hammer away at the same old sound for years, the way some producers do. Only this reason — and a good dash of Swedish loyalty, of course — can explain him reigning in the frenzied MRSK sound just enough to fit onto Crime City Disco, a label dedicated to “deep, slow and disco influenced” house. Along the way, he connects the improbable dots between house, techno, disco, and rave. Which would be an admirable, if only he’d managed to do it in classier fashion.

All soaring strings and loose guitar-bass, “Gunwar” is heavily indebted to disco, but it sports a tough percussive foundation which hints at Skogehall’s usual predilections. Mostly though, these traces are masked by the track’s jaunty, honkytonking piano, which is loads of fun if a tad forgettable. It sports a similar percussive substrate, but “Amblin’s Roar” shows just how different things can be with a new overlay. Unfortunately, this one leans more towards the shrill, loopy side of rave via an orchestra of bleeps and wails. A string-heavy breakdown does manage to connect the aforementioned dots again, albeit briefly, but its thrills are far too fleeting to balance out the rest of the duration. As usual, Skogehall’s refusal to stay in one box is admirable, but on this occasion, it feels like he might have done better sticking to a more well-oiled gun.

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Win 2 tickets for the Argot label showcase @ Cameo Gallery, NYC http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/alert/win-2-tickets-for-the-argot-label-showcase-cameo-gallery-nyc/ http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/alert/win-2-tickets-for-the-argot-label-showcase-cameo-gallery-nyc/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 05:01:18 +0000 http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/?p=44203 0719ARGOT

Argot is hosting its first label showcase at Cameo Gallery this Saturday, July 19th. The night features the talents of Gunnar Haslam, Octo Octa (live), Policy, and LWE’s own Steve Mizek, and we want to give you a chance to be there for free. Just click this link and follow the instructions for your chance to win two tickets and a free copy for Eamon Harkin’s Back Down. Seems like a sweet deal to us, so get clicking.

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