Little White Earbuds Hook up your ears Wed, 28 Jan 2015 23:06:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Little White Earbuds Presents Olin Wed, 28 Jan 2015 06:01:17 +0000 As You Like It's February 7th event at Public Works, I finally took the opportunity to shine the spotlight on one of Chicago's local heroes. Olin also provided LWE with a stellar podcast that highlights both his wide ranging taste and exceptional ability to tie these threads together in an engaging way.]]> Olin-1

Somehow I knew this day would come. LWE was just finding its footing in the dance music press when I first met Jason Garden in 2008. We were both still on the outside of Chicago’s dance scene looking in. But when I first heard the Kansas native’s early productions and saw him spin at a small afterparty on Chicago’s west side, I had the sense someday he would contribute a podcast to LWE because he would earn it. Since reinventing himself under the Olin moniker, Garden’s sound has matured and widened greatly, both as a producer and DJ. He’s made clever, inventive techno and house tracks with dancers clearly in their cross-hairs, releasing on Discovery Recordings, God Particle, Wazi Wazi (with collaborator Savile), and even on my own label, Argot. He’s joined Smart Bar’s roster of resident DJs and founded the unique Slack residency for DJs (like Garden) who demonstrate the breadth of their taste and abilities over longer sets. And as of last year, he’s been a crucial cog in the show production machinery at Smart Bar, making sure every event goes so smoothly no one notices his fingerprints on it. In anticipation of his appearance at As You Like It’s February 7th event at Public Works, featuring the Black Madonna, Daniel Bell, Robag Wruhme, Sassmouth & Richard Korach, Bells & Whistles, and myself, I finally took the opportunity to shine the spotlight on one of Chicago’s local heroes. Olin also provided LWE with a stellar podcast that highlights both his wide ranging taste and exceptional ability to tie these threads together in an engaging way.

What was your musical background prior to producing electronic music? What spurred you to start producing? What came first, DJing or producing?

Jason Garden: I don’t have a musical background insomuch as I could rightly say I came from a musical household or “am a classically trained musician.” I was lucky enough to live in an area where music education was a required part of the public curriculum, so that was definitely a blessing. I played guitar for probably 10 years (and I guess in theory, still do), and was in half a dozen punk bands. We threw shows in Carey Skate Park in Hutchinson, Kansas. You know, usual Midwest rock kid stuff.

That said, dance music wasn’t popular (or really socially accepted) at all where I grew up. My first real experience with it was when I bought a disco complication from a gas station. It had the hits: Chic, “Le Freak,” Heatwave, “Boogie Nights,” Hues Corporation, “Rock The Boat.” Wore that little guy out. I had messed around with Fruity Loops in high school, but mostly as a way to make backing beats for my guitar stuff. I really had no idea what I was doing.

I first started “DJing” by basically being the only one in college who had a bunch of house party music on my computer for when my friends threw parties. Turns out, I really liked playing music for people and seeing everyone having a good time, so, like so many suburban white kids in 2004 or so, I laid down my guitars and started trying to DJ — very poorly and publicly on my college FM radio show, which was the only place that actually had turntables. So, to answer your question, I guess production came first, but DJing is definitely my One True Love and actually the reason I produce at all.

You’ve tackled a number of different styles, including a stint under the alias Thunderous Olympian. Can you take us through your musical history and what’s brought you to your current sound?

When I started DJing, I really had no idea what the hell was going on in electronic music. It was completely, 100% foreign to me, so I really had to just sort of feel my way through it (thanks, internet). Very few people in Kansas knew any more than I did, so it was quite a struggle, honestly. Dance music, even for me today, can be a tough road to hoe, in as much as there is just so goddamn much of it. So, you can imagine my frustration/terror as a 19-year-old trying to find my sea legs on that ocean.

As far as my musical history, it started with Daft Punk and blog house kind of stuff, because that was the most immediately available to me in 2004/5. I did that kind of stuff for a while, along with ghetto house and party music like that, as Thunderous Olympian. I realized over time that my true loyalties lay with some of the more minimal and subtle sounds that I had came across, so I reinvented (read: renamed, mercifully) myself and started down that road, which has been even more winding than I anticipated. Now I just listen to a lot of music and borrow ideas from that to create a mish-mash of things I like and hopefully other people like, too. Production is mostly a way for me to have (hopefully) cool tracks to play out when I DJ. Accordingly, my production style is at least as much a reflection of all the kinds of things I like to play out when I DJ as anything else.

You’re originally from Lawrence, KS, I believe. Was there any electronic scene there? What was it like coming into Chicago’s scene and getting involved here?

I’m actually from Hutchinson — Lawrence is where I went to college (Rock Chalk!). However, Lawrence was definitely the only one of the two that had any sort of electronic scene to speak of. Lawrence is a prototypical college town and, historically, an indie rock bastion of sorts. People love music there, but electronic music, at least when I was there, never seemed to resonate quite like it does in Chicago. There was an amazing weekly dance party that ran for seven years called NEON that was thrown by DJ Konsept (who was a very busy DJ here in Chicago after he left Kansas). That party, although not strictly electronic in terms of programming, really showed me that you could have parties where the foundation was simply a really good DJ (Konsept was, and still is, that in spades). So, armed with that exciting knowledge, I started to throw parties in bars or even in DIY punk venues (it was surprisingly easy to sell techno to the punk kids if you already knew them and they trusted you a little bit). I even made a “mixtape” series called “Techno Is Punk” to that end. Techno is pretty punk, when you get right down to it.

I moved to Chicago in 2008 and knew literally two people, Konsept and now Smart Bar resident, Chrissy (FKA Chrissy Murderbot). I was definitely amazed by how prevalent dance music was and how many options I had as a dancer and party-goer, but it took me a while to really figure out what was going on, especially with regard to underground parties. I’m a fairly cautious person sometimes, so I mostly hung back and tried to get the lay of the land before I approached anyone. I remember actually asking a person, who is now a good friend and party promoter here in Chicago, if I could come to the private afterparty she was throwing after a Smart Bar event. I knew was happening but wasn’t actually invited to it. It took some convincing. Seriously, I had to talk to her into it, and I understand why after having seen my fair share of completely wasted assholes show up and ruin a perfectly good afterparty, but she gave me the address and unwittingly let me put my foot in the door, so to speak. I remember going back to my apartment and putting all the booze I could find in a paper grocery bag so I didn’t show up empty handed. I was so excited. After that happened, things really got interesting, and I haven’t looked back since.

Remind me, what’s your title at Smart Bar now? What does that mean in a practical sense?

At this point, I’m sort of the jack-of-all-trades at Smart Bar. I’m the head of production down in the club but I also work in the office dealing with contracts and logistics. In a practical sense, it means I’m here a whole lot and am proud to be a part of such a historic and downright awesome place.

Prior to working at the club you used to throw underground parties with Marea Stamper, aka the Black Madonna. Tell us about that period and what you’ve learned about the club world since transitioning into working at a full time venue.

Marea and I met at Movement Festival in 2009 and were instantly close friends. When she moved back to Kentucky for a stint, we started to throw parties there and in the surrounding area with several other people who were very instrumental in the success of the events. We’d basically find an art gallery or something that looked like it needed money, offer them some cash to let us use the space, and then hit the streets to try and get a good mix of people there. Some of them were, to this day, the best parties I’ve ever been to, and some were kind of disasters. We also continued to throw smaller parties in Chicago that had the same ethos as those “abroad.” We’ve been Still Believing since.

The big difference between doing underground and parties in the club is just the scale, I would say. When you do underground events, there is a lot more to do because you have to do everything. Events at the club, there is usually less to do per event, but you have to do 20 a month (we’re open Wednesday-Sunday every week). The worlds themselves are mostly the same, though. I would say that the crowd at underground events is typically a little more esoteric in terms of taste, but that’s about the extent of it.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences now, and which artists have always been influences on your musical output?

Right now, I would say my biggest single influence is Traumprinz/Prince of Denmark/DJ Metatron. Dude is scary talented and only maybe even a real person. I’ll believe he’s real when he comes and plays a show at Smart Bar. I love how his sound transcends all of the different styles he tackles. He’s got such a great way with vocals that might not work in other settings or in the hands of other producers.

Speaking of Giegling guys, Kettenkarussell has also been a big influence for me. I came across a 3-hour live set from them in 2006, and then another one in 2008, and then the mix they did for LWE in 2008, and I was always completely amazed by how well they utilized minimalism and melody, even in the wake of the Great Capital M Minimal debacle of the early-to-mid 2000s. They were, at least until recently, very mysterious. They became kind of a white whale obsession for me, since they didn’t have a much of a web-presence. Those guys have always stuck to their guns and have made some of the most subtle and beautiful music I’ve come across. I finally got a line on them when I overheard Oskar Offermann and Edward chatting about them after a Smart Bar show last year. I grabbed their email from Oskar and after a few false starts, a friend and I finally had them come play a small private camping event here in Chicago, this summer. Not only were they absolutely delightful and genuine people, they exceeded every artistic expectation I had for them, which is really saying something.

Other notable influences include: Nile Rogers, Patrick Cowley, Metro Area, Audion, Dan Bell, Donnacha Costello, Basic Channel, FXHE Records, and everyone who has ever yelled “HOT MIX!!!” after I fucked up a mix while DJing. You know who you are.

A few of your releases have been collaborations with other producers. Who are your collaborators and how did you end up working with them? Any more collabs in your future?

Yes! Most recently, I’ve been working with Savile, who I also worked with on an EP for Nils Penner’s Wazi Wazi label. Savile and I started working when he approached me shortly after moving to Chicago and sent me a few tracks. I thought what I heard was great so we decided to hit the studio. We finished “Horizon,” the title track on the Wazi Wazi release, basically in a few hours, and had the rest of the EP plus a few tracks done shortly thereafter. We have a very good workflow and he’s a great engineer, so it works out nicely. We’ve also got a 12″ coming out on Argot shortly, called “Thanks, Karl” which is our thank you to one of the bouncers at Smart Bar who has also just been an enduring presence in the Chicago scene for decades now. Thanks, Karl!

I’ve also done a collaboration with a lesser known Chicago producer, Company Processing, who is really excellent by the way, and I hope we’ll hear more from him in the near future. We did a track called “Compton” for Discovery Recordings out of NYC a few years back, which, coincidentally featured a remix from Nils Penner of Wazi Wazi. The circle of life, y’all. I’ve got a few other collaborations in the works that are not done enough for me to not want to talk too much about them too much, but suffice it to say: bangers only.

What’s a musical trend you think the world would be better without? What’s a facet of electronic music you wish were more popular?

There are a lot of things I could nitpick about here, but I’ll stick to one sort of meta-pet peeve of mine: As someone who had ZERO access to dance music growing up, it really irks me when people who have been lucky enough to be around it their whole life write off certain styles or genres wholesale without any real attempt to listen to or understand those genres. Or, maybe more accurately, when people decide on a few genres they like and write everything else off as unnecessary, unimportant, uncool, or whatever.

It’s hard for me to understand people who really only like one or two current micro genres and can dismiss disco as a relic of the past — as something they could never be into for whatever reason. So many different types of music that could be accurately described as dance music are so important to me that it kind of seems offensive to me that so many are willing to write off so much, wholesale, based on presuppositions that are almost never accurate. If you’re a student of dance music, as I hope most DJs and producers are, you should go out of your way to experience as much of it as you can. You might be surprised by how things you may not even really like can inform your art.

My message: dance music is really fun if you let it be. There’s a lot of really bad stuff, but you’ll surprise yourself with the amount of good stuff you can find if you’re looking.

There seems to be some kind of expectation of Chicago’s producers to somehow incorporate the city’s famous past into their present sound. Do you feel that at all, and have you ever tried to link your music with the city’s musical heritage?

Not really, to be honest. I try to be eclectic, so I feel like there’s enough “Chicago” worming its way into my productions and DJing to not have to stress about not being “Chicago” enough. At the end of the day, I don’t really feel like it’s my job to sell anyone on the Chicago sound, mostly because there are so many people doing that so much better than I ever could, eg. Stripped & Chewed Records, The Black Madonna, the Queen! residents, and so, so many more awesome artists. Besides, my productions are probably at least as closely linked to the city’s industrial heritage as the house side of things — especially lately. As I mentioned, my production process is almost entirely based around making tracks for when I DJ, so it’s not something I really think about all that much in the moment.

Which of your currently released tracks or remixes do you feel most proud of, and why?

Hmmmmm… that’s tough. The one I’m most proud of as an artist is probably “Tomorrow’s News” on Argot. It was just a track that came out very naturally and is something I think I’ll be able to be proud of for quite some time. It’s very musical, which isn’t always my natural inclination as far as production goes. My favorite in terms of what works best when I DJ is probably my recent remix of Covio’s “Turkey” on Sassmouth’s label, God Particle. Definitely serves its purpose as well as any track I’ve ever done and fits perfectly with the kind of older English and American techno sounds that I’ve been playing out, lately.

In addition to working at Smart Bar you’ve recently started a series of parties called Deep Turnt. What can you tell us about the mission or ethos of Deep Turnt, and where do you want to take it?

Well, to be candid, “Deep Turnt” is something I tweeted once that I just thought was funny and then realized, in spite of its ridiculousness, kind of actually described my DJ style really well. Very 2015: DJ makes Pepé Bradock pun on Twitter, turns it into a made up genre, starts a party. I maybe should have just let it die, haha, but here we are. Anyway my definition would be: minimal, often dubby techno that is still a bit more uptempo and jacky. The first 30 minutes of the mix I did is stuff I would consider to be Deep Turnt, actually. For us (I do this event with Studio Casual), the mission is basically to do smaller, more intimate parties that push this kind of restrained party techno. The last one we did with Eric Cloutier was incredible, as was the first with Sassmouth — packed from pretty much open to close with people who were crazy into the music. We were so happy!

As someone with the word TECHNO tattooed on your arm it’s clear the genre means a lot to you. Can you put into words what makes it so important?

Well, connotatively, the TECHNO on my arm means something a little different from what the average informed LWE reader might think. In Kansas, literally every genre of electronic music was just called techno, because no one really thought about it enough to have a reason to parse it out much further. So, the TECHNO on my arm is meant to mean techno in that sense, and acts as a reminder of how lucky I am to have found my way to the place where I’m at from a starting point that seems to be light years away, as I look back on it. I do really love techno, in the traditional sense, though. So, it works out. It sounds like an exaggeration, but quite literally my whole life is devoted to dance music at this point. So, the TECHNO on my arm is as much in solidarity with those who are looking for the proverbial party in places where the party might not be so easy to find as anything else.

What were the last five records you bought? What coveted record do you have your eye on next?

Let me hop on Discogs real quick. So, the last 5 records I bought according to my Discogs are:

Donnacha Costello, Grape (only need two more in this series, finally!)
Jacek Sienkiwicz, Slope EP (always been a fan of Jacek)
Paranoid Jack, Slave Driver (Remixes)
Pop Up, 3
Garrett David, A New Room (Check this out! Gramaphone records here in Chicago recently (re)launched their label and it’s very good!)

As far as coveted new records, I’m patiently waiting for the new Brawther as well as the reissue of the amazing classic Bjorn Torske LP, Nedi Myra. As far as older stuff I’ve got my eye on, I’d actually really like to find a nice copy of Der Dritte Raum, Hale Bopp. Muscle trance all the way (another made up genre). I also need to get my ass in gear and grab as many of the Basic Channel reissues as possible. Oh, and copies of Oni Ayhun OAR003 and OAR004. I’ll just take one of all the good records, please.

What’s coming up from you in 2015?

A lot, hopefully! Still doing my residency, Slack, at Smart Bar, which focuses on eclectic DJs who will grace us with an extended set. Doing more Deep Turnt parties when we can. Hopefully DJing a lot, generally! As far as production, as you well know, Savile and I are excited to be releasing Thanks, Karl on Argot. I’m also finishing up an EP for Nite Owl Diner and another for the Detour records crew out of Pittsburgh (check out Detour 001 if you haven’t — killer). And then hopefully in between all that I’ll find some time to put the finishing touches on another EP for God Particle I’m working on. I’m excited to be so busy on the production side of things.

Download: LWE Presents Olin (78:05)


01. DJ Slip, “Untitled A” [Missle Records]
02. Brinkmann & Scanner, “Adria” [Force Inc. Music Works]
03. Restaurant Tracks, “Don’t Get Us Wrong!” [Cheap]
04. Covio, “Turkey” (Olin Remix) [God Particle]
05. Aerea Negrot, “All I Wanna Do” (Efdemin Remix) [BPitch Control]
06. Mr. G, “Zam Zam” [Phoenix G.]
07. Sleeparchive, “Track 4 (Recycled)” [Sleeparchive]
08. DJ Metal X, “Doomsday” [Djax-Up-Beats]
09. Yanu, “Poot” [Toolbox Tunes]
10. User, “Change Constant” [Organised Noise]
11. Traumprinz, “Intrinity” [Traumprinz]
12. Giovani & Mosler, “Untitled B (4)” [Giovani & Mosler]
13. Olin & Savile, “Thanks, Karl” (Olin Version) [Argot*]
14. Brian Aneurysm, “Das Element Des Menschen” (James T. Cotton Version) [Spectral Sound]
15. Sound Stream, “Love Jam “[Sound Stream]
16. UnknownmiX, “The Siren” (Losoul’s Hot Edit) [Playhouse]
17. Yello, “Lost Again” [Vertigo]
18. Azul Y Negro, “Mar Del La Tranquilidad” [Mercury]
* denotes tracks which, at the time of publishing, are unreleased

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Little White Earbuds Presents Ethyl & Flori Thu, 22 Jan 2015 06:01:12 +0000 EthylFlori1

Their names collectively may conjure a luxury toiletries brand from the depths of 1980s Britain, but their music certainly has a lot more panache than that might suggest. Tim Hopgood aka Ethyl and Jamie Taylor aka Flori have slowly but surely been climbing into our collective consciousness since 2009 with at times subtle but mostly stunning turns on labels like Freerange Recordings, Secretsundaze, Quintessentials, and Fear of Flying. Whether they’re dishing out deep house, acid house, or something a little harder, their productions always strike a well balanced and sure-footed precision. When the duo approached us with a sublime mix entirely made up of their own back catalog peppered with forthcoming and unreleased tracks we jumped at the chance to run it, hitting the guys up with a few questions in the process to find out more about the English DJ and production team.

Hi guys, how is everything going for you? Any ridiculous New Year’s resolutions to confess to?

Tim Hopgood: Hi, things are good thanks. 2015 has kicked off nicely, no resolutions as such, just trying to shift the bodyweight in cheese I ate over Christmas.

Jamie Taylor Not bad, cheers, good to be back in London after an indulgent Christmas break. No resolutions for me either. Life itself is pretty much an incessant self-improvement exercise. That’s enough for me.

They’re a bunch of ass anyway aren’t they? So how did the two of you first meet and where were each of you in your producer/DJ careers at the time?

JT: I think so. Eat well, stretch your limbs when you can and try not to drink heavily everyday. We met at university in Birmingham (where I failed all three of the aforementioned disciplines) on a Sound Engineering & Production course. I was playing out locally fairly regularly and putting on parties in my hometown, Wolverhampton. I was also heavily involved (and still am) in my folks’ party, Soul Underground. Production at that time was just a hobby but I probably learnt more about the process then, than during any other period. As the production side of the degree wasn’t up to much I was teaching myself in the main and getting invaluable advice via Tim.

TH: Yep, he’s wiser than his perceived years is our Jamie. I grew up just outside London and had been playing regularly in the capital. In fact a lot more regularly than I am now, sometimes three or four times a weekend. Doing the circuit so to speak and making up the numbers on the flyers. I enrolled at the University to add a bit of structure to what I was doing with music but the course itself was underwhelming. The biggest thing I took away from the course was the relationships I built and people I met, present company included.

How long was it before you started making music together and figured out that you had good studio chemistry?

JT: I think it was at the end of the first year or at the beginning of the second. That whole period, alas, is a bit of a haze.

TH: Sounds about right. We came from different angles musically; I came through UK garage and grime and through techno to the house music we began making, while Jamie came from the same formative UK garage years (that was almost a rite of passage for our generation) but had a strong US/soulful house leaning following that. Despite bringing different ideas to the table we seemed to agree on most things in the studio from the outset.

That rapport in music making as a team was obvious right from the start with The Trimley EP. As a production team what do each of you feel you bring to the table in terms of your particular influence from your tastes in music?

JT: Tim’s alluded to what influences were there when we first starting working together and I think they’ll always exist to some degree, probably due to how impressionable teenagers are. The pool that we draw influence from is larger than it has ever been. Old stuff that’s new to our ears but also so much new music leaves us quizzing each other as to how it’s been done. There’s so much good stuff being made and it’s hard not to be inspired by it. The Trilogy Tapes or Hessle Audio radio shows are good starting points.

And also what do you feel are your strengths when it comes to production?

TH: Jamie is the man with the hooks. He’s got a bit of an affinity with melody but if you heard some of the shit he sings you’d have to ask a few questions.

JT: Cheers, T. I’ve said this in other interviews but Tim’s the man for realizing ideas. If I’ve hit a brick wall, I think he enjoys the challenge of me describing/explaining something verbally and then getting as close as possible to painting that idea — even when he’s not entirely sure where I’m going with it. He’s the more patient man, too, which comes in handy if I start to become disillusioned with a track. We rarely take on the same roles on different projects.

I’m interested to know about your musical aliases, because they go together very well yet don’t seem to have anything to do with your actual names. Is there a story behind that?

JT: There’s no interesting subtext behind the name Flori I’m afraid. Our first EP had been signed and I had to decide on an alias sharpish. I thought it paired with Ethyl quite nicely and I suppose we both thought it would be humorous to see a couple of older ladies’ names on flyers. Tim’s story is far more fanciful.

TH: Tim’s story is never to be repeated.

Jamie, as a solo artist you’ve focused on your own releases while Tim, you’ve notched up a lot of remixes. Are you both planning on taking on that other role as well?

JT: If the right remix comes up, I’ll take it on. I do prefer working on original material though.

TH: I actually like the constraints remixes put on you, which might be why I’ve ended up doing more of them. That’s probably why I’ve leaned heavily on collaborating too. I need to not get bogged down with the very small decisions that don’t contribute to the finished result. There’s also the element of not wanting to waste someone else’s time or let them down and I find that gives the process more direction and purpose. For me, making music can be such a cathartic process that when I’m making music on my own I can feel satisfied with being comparatively unproductive, getting absorbed in sound design without actually doing something useful with the result. I’ve got lots of my own music in various primitive stages that I’d like to see the light of day eventually, but having never had a solo release I feel there’s more pressure on the first one to be truly coherent and not a series of sketches or nascent ideas.

There’s an occasional Scandinavian theme through your track titles. Is this coincidence or is there some kind of Scando message you’d like to push to the public?

TH: We wrote “Malmö” and “København” after a Scandinavian trip. Even though the two tracks ended up being split up we wrote them concurrently based on our impressions of the two cities.

JT: Just doing our bit for Anglo-Scandinavian relations.

What have each of you been working on lately on your own and as Ethyl & Flori?

JT: This last year has been very much collaboratively focused. We moved in to the same house early last year and we got all of our records and studio equipment into one large room. It’s a great space for making and playing records so it’s where we spend most of our time. We do a weekly radio show from there too, which will soon be going out on the new Leeds based KMAH station (Wednesdays 8-10pm). We’re launching our own imprint, E&F Records, so that’s been taking up a lot our time recently. The label will be an outlet for our own productions. The first one is called Lion City and should drop in March of this year.

TH: We released The Last Ninja on our friends’ Ben (BLM) and Jay Massive’s Fear of Flying imprint at the tail end of last year and are following that up with a release on the affiliated Sudden Drop label, due at the end of this month. It’s a three tracker from the pair of us entitled Transcripts. When it came to looking for outlets for our music we were certainly guilty of not seeing the wood for the trees. While I send Ben music of ours/mine regularly, never (until recently) explicitly with the understanding it’s for him to consider bringing out. Both are great labels that we have a lot of time for and I think it makes sense for friends to be supporting each other especially being in the same city.

And at the risk of sounding contradictory, we’ve also got a release with Berlin’s Aim pencilled in, complete with an Edward remix. Jamie’s released on Aim before and Tristen, who runs the label, is a top boy, so I’ve got no reservations that it’s also a good home for our music.

Could you see an Ethyl & Flori album in the future or would you prefer to release in an EP format?

TH: We’ve certainly talked about it. I think our productions to date have been too disparate to warrant an album. Hopefully people can hear the common thread that runs throughout our releases regardless of the slight genre meandering we tend to do. If we were to do an album I’d want there to be a definite message, something we were trying to communicate and a flow throughout, not merely a selection of club tracks with a downtempo and beatless reprise thrown in to tick the album box. I’ve heard several albums from dance music producers that could quite easily be brought out as a couple of EPs but there seems to be a conscious decision to adopt the LP format to garner the PR that goes along with it. Call me a cynic.

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

JT: I don’t think either of us has ever included one of our own productions in a studio mix. This mix puts paid to that.

TH: It’s a special mix for us because, yeah, we rarely play our own stuff out. I’m really pleased with our recent output and we wanted to put it a selection of it in one place so people could get a handle on where we are and also a little nod to where we’ve come from.

In a slightly new turn for these features, we’ve decided to ask music producers and DJs what their big predictions are for the year ahead? What do the stars hold for 2015?

TH: More of a hope than a prediction, can Europe stop being so angry and fascist? Musically, I think we’re both on the same page in both wishing the following a successful year and also looking forward to the combined output of
Nummer, a couple of a French guys living in London, one of them works at my favourite record store, Kristina. Everything they’ve touched has been proper. Also BLM/Skew, Voiski, and Tom Dicicco to name a small few. On the label front, Details Sound, UMHS, Forbidden Planet, Fifth Wall, Nous, meandyou and Antinote.

JT: But seriously, UKIP have just hit 20% in the polls. What the fuck is going on?

Download: LWE Presents Ethyl & Flori (77:33)

01. Ethyl & Flori, “Untitled” [E&F Records*]
02. Ethyl & Flori, Untitled [Aim*]
03. Flori, “Within Reason” [secretsundaze]
04. Ethyl, “Untitled” [*]
05. Flori, Untitled [*]
06. Ethyl & Flori, “Swimming” [E&F Records*]
07. Ethyl & Flori, “The Last Ninja” [Fear of Flying]
08. Ethyl & Flori, “Shorthand” [Sudden Drop*]
09. Ethyl & Flori, “Shelter” (Rolando Remix) [secretsundaze]
10. Sagittarius A, “Omega Point” (Material Object Remix) (Ethyl Edit) [*]
11. Ethyl & Flori, “Lion City Dub 2″ [E&F Records*]
12. Ethyl & Huxley, “Reflexions” (Aybee Remix) [Tsuba Records]
13. Flori, “Frosty Leo” (Dorisburg Cave Jam Mix) [Aim]
14. Ethyl & Flori, “Untitled” [E&F Records*]
15. Ethyl & Flori, Shelter (Beat Mix) [*]
16. Ethyl, “Syncopate” [Contrast Wax*]
* denotes tracks which, at the time of publishing, are unreleased

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Steve Mizek’s Year In Dance Music 2014 Tue, 20 Jan 2015 06:01:15 +0000 TOP

Traditionally, LWE publishes its year-end list as December is still wrapping up and records continue filing into shops, albeit at a slower rate. With how much ground we aimed to cover, it was always done in a rush and competed for time with podcast competitions. Since we’ve relaxed the pace of publishing, however, putting together a year-end chart seems more appropriate with 2014 fully in the rear-view mirror and with the benefit of more free time. Think of this untraditional “list” as not late but properly marinated.

Although we received thousands of promos in 2014, I’ve decided to focus this piece almost exclusively on records I purchased or received on vinyl. I’ve gone this route because that was how I interacted the most with dance music in 2014: as a DJ and a record collector rather than a reviewer and journalist. Those roles still heavily informed what I liked and returned to throughout the year, but the experience of playing records for audiences — whether for clubs full of people or just my friends during a night in — was the ultimate guide. In kind, I’ve included a few records not from 2014 that I feel were just as important as 12″s that were. Rather than ranking them, I’ve listed them in alphabetical order by artist name. And, in breach of my usual critical ethics, I’ve included a few records I brought into this world. They were both a huge part of how I spent the year and contained tracks that never failed to dazzle me and those for whom I played them. I suspect you’ll forgive me.


John Barera & Will Martin, Graceless
[Dolly] (buy)

I’ve been predicting big things from John since the first B-Tracks record made its way to my doorstep a few years ago. Seemingly a born collaborator, Barera truly hits his stride with production partner (and now former roommate) Will Martin in the studio. These guys draw upon a deep love for dance music, incredible musical chemistry, and a thorough knowledge of how to translate ideas into tunes at a rate and quality level that’s a bit jaw dropping. Their debut album, Graceless, came together very quickly but feels like something that’s been slaved over. It contains one of my favorite tracks of the year, “It’s Alright,” along with highlights like “Freefall,” “Afterthought,” and “Patience” that have been peppered throughout my sets this year. Perhaps most excitingly, this duo is just getting started.



The Black Madonna, “Exodus”
[Stripped & Chewed]
The Black Madonna, “Venus Requiem”
[The Nite Owl Diner] (buy)

Both at home and abroad, 2014 was the year of Marge (our pet name for Marea Stamper, the Black Madonna). Although she released one record entirely new material, the timely reissue of two early favorites, “Exodus” and “We Don’t Need No Music (Thank You, Rahaan)” on Goodby To All This meant her music was always in circulation in clubs around the world. “Exodus” in particular seemed like a 2014 anthem, its beautifully jangling piano chords and swelling choir vocals ringing out regularly sets by a diverse range of DJs and receiving the same feverish response each time. One time stands out in particular: watching Frankfurt’s Museum für Angewandte Kunst go completely off the hinges during the Give Love Back Boiler Room party, with Gerd Janson and Ata grinning widely as they played it to an appreciative crowd. All of this is why I’ve been shocked to not see “Exodus” recognized in any year-end lists this year. Only “Stay” from the Black Madonna’s Nite Owl Diner record got a nod from NPR. Even then I always found myself flipping the record over for “Venus Requiem,” which nicely flips an old West End boogie record in true Black Madonna style. It was a record I played early in the evening and when the lights were coming up at the end, always smiling but bittersweetly in remembrance of a queen whose light was snuffed out too soon. Like DJ Sprinkles before her, the Black Madonna reminds us that we bring our darkness with us into the club and working through that pain with friends while dancing is part of what makes house and dance music more broadly so powerful.


Community Corporation, “Subterranean Limestone”
[Argot] (buy)

I was truly overjoyed for the chance to work with Taylor Hawkins, the young Detroit producer behind the Community Corporation moniker. The way he flips Midwest techno and house conventions on their head is inspiring to me, especially in an era where rote copycats get undue levels of attention. His Aquifer EP for Argot was a leap forward from The Salt Mines, his cassette album on Crisis Urbana released in early 2014, moving further from his touchstones in favor of his own sound. Although I tucked it on the B-side, “Subterranean Limestone” was the clear dance floor favorite of the record — a track whose weirdness could barely disguise the killer groove lurking at its core. I took great pleasure watching as audiences threw their bodies into the riff and broke out of the little shuffles that often passes for dancing (of which I’m equally guilty). With tricks like this up his sleeves, Community Corporation is definitely a name to watch for in the coming years.


Doms & Deykers, “Fonts For The People”
[3024] (buy)

I already wrote about this for SPIN, but I don’t mind expressing my appreciation again here. Combining Steffi and Martyn’s best features is great at a conceptual level, and “Fonts For the People” from their Doms & Deykers EP is proof that it’s even better on wax.



Doubt, “Captain Hours”
[Mistress Recordings] (buy)
Doubt, “Crater Iunstat”
[Disposable Commodities] (buy)

It’s always exciting when a veteran producer manages to completely reinvent themselves years into their their career and receive more acclaim the second time around. Such was the case with Doubt, the Minneapolis-based producer formerly known as Eidolon, who was reintroduced to the world by DVS1 and his Mistress Recordings (which had a fantastic year, as well). I can’t say I loved everything with Doubt’s name on it, but I kept reaching for the tracks that hit the right spot for me. “Captain Hours” from the Remember Fono EP managed to be dark, sinister, and unusual but also playable, beautifully textured, exciting, and versatile. I mixed it into house to segway into my harder material and from techno to pull things back from more pounding tracks. “Crater Iunstat” from his Chaos Om Vision album (split into two EPs on Disposable Commodities) was more focused, but its grinding groove and murky piano line and vocals gave it the spirit of techno with plenty of room to breath — a rarity in an era full of mindlessly banging industrial techno. More producers should take note of Doubt’s restraint. If 2015 goes like 2014, more records from the MN veteran will make sure they have to.


Roman Flügel, Happiness Is Happening
[Dial] (buy)

I was a latecomer to Roman Flügel’s latest album, somehow, in spite of an almost overwhelming media blitz. Thankfully, I didn’t let my hype allergies keep me from digging in eventually, and I loved what I found. Taking a step back from dance floor utility to incorporate more of his influences made Happiness Is Happening a deeply satisfying listen all the way through — a vast improvement on his Fatty Folders LP, in my opinion. Flügel is one of the most talented producers in the game, able to create beauty across a range of thoughtful, dance floor-adjacent styles without repeating himself. I struggle to pick favorites for fear of missing one, but the track I return to most is the deliberate, stalking loveliness of “Wilkie,” which feels halfway between krautrock and synth pop, but played for a plugged-in 2014 crowd. Happiness Is Happening is simply a stunning album I’m very glad to have in my collection.


Fort Romeau, “I Knew”
[Live At Robert Johnson] (buy)

I didn’t pick up as many Live At Robert Johnson releases this year as in the past, but Fort Romeau’s contribution to the label ensured I had to own at least one. Its standout, “I Know,” is hardly the most original tune but it never failed to notch up the excitement in a DJ set. Spinning around that silky vocal sample in endless repetitions ensured total hypnosis; and with its galumphing bass line pushing dancers into the whirlwind, the track seemed unstoppable in spite of its sub-six-minute runtime. A perfect example of how working within established frameworks can be yield exceptional results if done right.


Golden Donna, II
[100% Silk] (buy)

The one non-vinyl release on this list is Golden Donna’s second album, which I received digitally from its maker, Joel Shanahan. I’m thoroughly grateful that I received it at all, as most 100% Silk releases pass me by without so much as a wave — doubly so for their tape releases, which this was. I spilled considerable digital ink praising it earlier this year so I won’t be as indulgent this time, but suffice it to say that II was a lovely album I returned to many times in 2014. Same could be said for his equally unfairly overlooked self-titled Auscultation album.


Gunnar Haslam/Acid Jesus, Overcomplete/Radium
[Naïf] (buy)

Phillip Sollmann seems to delight in creating unusual combinations for releases on his low-key Naïf label, and at first blush its only 2014 record seemed to really push it. What was a throbbing acid track from young hotshot Gunnar Haslam doing paired with an Acid Jesus classic? As it turned out, these were natural bedfellows that could find themselves played by any number of DJs in the same or different sets. I found myself giving dancers some delightful heartburn in the middle of a house set with “Overcomplete,” then later banging things into place with “Radium.” It was a record I kept in my bag for gigs that could go any number of ways, and I’m glad I did. Gunnar still has a ways to go before he’s knee high to Flugel’s many accomplishments, but on this record (and his excellent second LP, Mirrors and Copulation) one gets the sense he’s steadily working towards it.


Eamon Harkin, “Back Down”
[Argot] (buy)

If my Chicago squad had a motto in 2014, it was definitely “bangers only.” This silly phrase meant to tease each other into bringing the heat with every track quite often included the A side of Eamon Harkin’s single for Argot. Few tracks I came into contact his year felt as massive, had the level of kinetic energy or club swallowing bass, or generally whipped people into frenzy quite like this one. Gunnar Haslam told me it was almost always one of the highlights of his sets both in America and abroad. Perhaps because it feels like the embodiment of anger/frustration welling up and then being released, a cathartic sensation that never lapses into brutality (like a lot of contemporary techno) and in fact gets quite tender during its piano-led breakdown. To be frank, I was a bit surprised “Back Down” didn’t take off as a “hit,” but I’m no less glad that Eamon gifted it to Argot.


Luv Jam, “Quip22″ (Prosumer Remix)
[Phonica White] (buy)

Prosumer’s reputation as one of the world’s best DJs continues to grow with each year, yet staying quite production-wise has caused many to forget what an awesome producer he is, as well. Despite reminding DJs in a big way in 2013 thanks to his remix for Murat Tepeli, I feel like his 2014 remixes unfortunately went under the radar. It’s kind of hard to believe, especially in the case of his rather inventive take on Luv Jam’s “Quip22.” Half atmospheric house work out, half nasty beatdown, it has delicate details to pour over at home and the toolish, rhythmic energy to turn heads in DJ sets. If you thought Prosumer’s remit ended at nostalgic house (shame on you, first of all), check this remix and then check your head.


Martyn, “Vancouver” (Head High Remix)
[3024] (buy)

Rene Pawlowitz had an excellent year while wearing his Head High hat. I didn’t feel his Megatrap 2×12″ was as essential as many of my peers did, but it did show off a bit more of what he could do with the guise. I preferred his skull crushing remix of Martyn’s 2008 classic “Vancouver,” which gave the lurching dubstep(?) tune new life as a 90s breakbeat-inspired banger. For me, the appeal was in the delicious use of space between the crunchy hits, somewhat seems subtle until you’re on the dance floor and it causes you to flex an extra time per measure. An unexpected body blow doesn’t sound so amazing until you’re actually on the receiving end. This arrived at the beginning 2014 and only left my bag after I found myself competing with other DJs to see who would play it first in a night. I’m sure it will be brought back into rotation for years to come.


Anthony Naples, “Perro”
[The Trilogy Tapes] (buy)

I must confess, I haven’t always been sold on Anthony Naples’ output. It’s often enjoyable, but on the releases since his Mister Saturday Night debut, the layer of weirdness embedded in his productions somehow left me feeling alienated. His Zipacon EP for The Trilogy Tapes, however, grabbed me from front to back — a gorgeous fine-tuning of his aesthetic that felt mature and self-assured. Mostly I dropped the needle on “Perro,” a delightful deep house number that married function and form like lifelong sweethearts. His percussion rattles just so, a satisfying set of metal and wooden textures that are the perfect framework for the purring synth line gently floating through. Naples has a penchant for surprises in the latter half of his tracks, and the insistent arpeggio arriving late in “Perro” makes me want to close my eyes and wig out like Stevie Wonder. I’ll go so far as to say this is Naples’ best work to date and the bar by which I’ll be evaluating his forthcoming debut album.


New Musik, “Warp” (Ilo Edit)
[Pleasure International Exports] (buy)

This one is definitely not new, having been originally released back in 2011. A timely re-press, however, proved how equally germane this Ilo edit remains. Brought to my attention by Gerd Janson near the end of his excellent LWE podcast, it’s beauty that takes its time getting into the meat of the tune (four minutes) and works wonders all the same. The chorus is so evocative and emotional without saying much at all, mostly because of how nicely it intersects with the gossamer thin melodies wafting around. That a whole other deep house melody appears towards the end only elevates the track, taking it beyond an edit in my mind. I remain woefully unschooled in the music of British new wavers New Musik, but if anything makes me want to dig into their discography, this is it.


Gerald Norton, “Gwen Stacy (Mix 2)”
[Sly Fox Records]

I’m a bit ignorant about Sly Fox Records and Gerald Norton, except that they’re from Detroit. I also know the record “Gwen Stacy (Mix 2)” is on is part of a series of various artists releases called Corndogs with, you guessed it, a corndog stamped on the white label. What’s clear is, this track is a killer. Long, skating hi-hats, moody organ chords, and pitched down vocals read as pretty standard on paper, but the combination works perfectly when it’s working its way into your skull. Perhaps it’s the slightly seedy vibe that permeates the whole track that gives it a certain magnetism, aided by the bragging sung vocals and somewhat muddy mix of the track. You feel like you’ve stumbled into a private situation that’s too compelling to look away. I must admit, this track is challenging in its short run-time (4:31) and slow tempo (116ish bpm), yet somehow I found ways to include this in all kinds of sets. Dancers appreciated the effort. Perhaps the next Corndogs will be just as tasty.


Oskar Offermann & Edward, Verses
[Thema] (buy)

Another 2013 release I discovered in 2014, Verses is the kind of EP I love to find in shops: four solid tracks of varying moods at domestic prices. So far it’s been a fixture of my record bag, because I’ll always find something from it that fits my mood and my other track selections. Dark, droney and strange? “What Have We Become” is up first. Drowsy yet optimistic deep house? I’m pulling “Paranoid” (and pitching it up a ton). Constantly evolving, looped out house? Take your pick from the sharper “Sunrise” or its more mellow “Underwater Dub.” You really can’t lose. It’s a good thing these guys often tour together, as it means there’s a chance we’ll see more records of this quality in the future.


Palms Trax, “Forever” (Galcher Lustwerk Remix)
[Lobster Theremin] (buy)

There are a whole bunch of buzz-heavy names on this one. Thankfully the cut in question is so simple and effective you can put aside hype weariness and just dig in. Galcher Lustwerk’s remix of “Forever” feels like a Fred P track that was erroneously erased during a particularly stoned session. I would be happy to listen to him mess with titular vocal for hours, especially if the pillowy chords beneath it came along for the ride. If you’ve ever seen the old German television show “Space Night,” you’ll agree that this remix should be beamed back in time so it could perfectly soundtrack visuals of outer space, geographic beauties, and dated motion graphics. I’ve warmed up many a dance floor with this one and watched with pleasure as the brave few souls breaking the proverbial ice get happily lost in its depth.


Pittsburgh Track Authority, Enter The Machines
[Pittsburgh Tracks] (buy)

Given how much ground the Pittsburgh trio have covered in the last couple years, I had no doubt they could put together a solid album without repeating themselves. Sure enough, Enter The Machine Age sounds like the dissertation of three long time scholars of dance music, flecked with influences but ultimately the group’s own distillation of history. It’s nice to hear them tackle pumping disco house (“Broader Disco”), entrancing desert techno (“Visions of Serengeti”), and languid house (“Debonair”) with equal levels of competence, and even nodding to their past in drum n’ bass inna dub techno style (“Genta”). Given how prolific PTA tend to be I’m sure we’ll be hearing another album from them soon, but the bar is set high on Enter The Machine Age.


John Roberts, “Ausio”
[Dial] (buy)

Another track I’ve waxed lyrical about elsewhere at length. It just blows me away how much John Roberts is able to best himself every time he puts out a record. Given how unique his sound is, he’s really his own competition and “Ausio” (like every damn record before it) reminds us how seriously he takes that. Easily my favorite release of 2015.


Royer, Tough Questions EP
[Tasteful Nudes] (buy)

I feel lucky to have brought this record to the world, because it’s given me so much pleasure personally and I knew it would do the same for everyone else who heard it. It’s my most played record of 2014 thanks to the versatility and quality of its four tracks. I have a particular weakness for the title track and its effortless, swaying melodies. It feels like a shared smile between friends, the acknowledgment of how good we’re lucky enough to have it. And when I hear people like Move D or Moomin play it (the latter being a noted influence), I know other people get that sense as well. Given this, I’m slightly surprised this didn’t creep into more EOY charts. Thankfully, I know this record will maintain its appeal well after year end charts are long forgotten. That’s even better.


RVDS, “Moon On Milky Way”
[Smallville Records] (buy)

For reasons I can’t quite figure out, I’d never been able to get into RVDS records until this one came along. I’d stopped checking them entirely, and had my DJing partner Savile not played the 2013-released title track in a B2B session I would have remained hopelessly ignorant. Now I play this one relentlessly, grinning as its rollercoaster arpeggio wheels around and around the unusually timed bass line. The percussion is just as tricky but made for getting down. And it keeps evolving, growing grotty and strangely textured, adding new melodies and playful vamps, and locking listeners into its every move no matter how small. Definitely a big part of my 2014 and, to be honest, the first Smallville record I’ve picked up in some time.


Sandman & Riverside ft. Jeremy Ellis, “Into Your Story” (Kai Alcé DISTINCTIVE Vocal Remix)
[FFWD] (buy)

No track brought the soul to 2014 quite like this essential remix by Kai Alcé. Yes, it’s actually from 2013 and the original is from 2011, but its impact on 2014 was unmissable. I heard it pretty much everywhere I partied last year and it sounded good in every scenario. What I didn’t realize until I sat down to write about it is how much of the original is present in this remix: the beautiful synth synths; the cheerful bells leads dancing floating throughout like fireflies; Jeremy Ellis’s achingly wonderful vocals (although smartly doubled throughout the remix). Truly the genius of this remix is the bass line, a rambunctious and memorable set of plunging descents down the scale, all played by fellow Atlantan, Stefan Ringer. Heard next to the gently rejiggered drums, it gives the track a subtle Latin step that’s rare in modern dance music and ever more rarely done well. I have to give it up to Tom Cox for making sure the world knew what this song was after we heard it at least a dozen times during Movement Festival weekend in Detroit. It’s been an essential part of my collection since.


Sfire, Sfire
[Cocktail d’Amore Music]

It’s with no small amount of pride that I note LWE’s small role in the eventual release of Sfire’s debut record. Originally debuted way back in 2010 in John Roberts’ LWE podcast, this Sfire project by Jeffrey Sfire and Samuel Long eventually made it into the hands of the Discodromo guys who run Cocktail d’Amore and finally was released on vinyl at the tail end of 2013. It was surely worth the wait, not least because both tracks feel like they’re lifted out of a time capsule first buried in 1984. Both tracks go beyond the standard synth pop in almost everywhere, from the delightful synth timbres to Jeffrey’s and Samuel’s spot on vocal performances, all laid out with a patience that ekes every bit of feeling and dance floor utility from each bar. “Sfire 2″ has a resigned cheerfulness that grows slightly sinister as the tune unfolds, while “Sfire 3″ is a delicious dirge that never quite stays on the same path for long. Pretty much every DJ I surrounded myself with in 2014 owned a copy, and for once that made me glad. It’s an instant classic.



Chase Smith, Falling Out EP
[The Harmony Society] (buy)
Chase Smith, Stay
[Argot] (buy)

I’m dead serious when I say Chase Smith is one of the most underrated producers in America right now. The Pittsburgh-based artist released four excellent records in 2014 and no one seemed to notice outside the U.S. To be fair, one was released by R-Zone (R-Zone 09), which needlessly deprives its artists of the credit they deserve. The rest, and in particular his EP for the Harmony Society and his single for Argot, should have been unavoidable. The Falling Out EP extends the obviousness of Smith’s exceptional artistry in four directions, from the dub-flecked, heart racing title track to the old school piano banger “Still Further,” glistening 90s house via “Vaporub” and the Carpenter-esque synth thriller “Sun In Winter.” And though I’m obviously biased, I thought “Stay” featuring Karl and Lauren Ojanpa was of of the best songs release this year. I so rarely hear tunes that have this much character, this much feeling to them — the obvious effort and sweat of the people who created it. I guess a disco ballad can only win over so many people, even if it slayed virtually everyone I saw hear it. “27 Summers” had the same effect with all its ravey goodness. I had someone ask me what it was nearly every time I played it. Chase is too busy putting all his personality in his tunes to have a wacky online presence or hobnob with on-trend artists, and it shows. It’s just a shame more writers haven’t made the time to pick up on it.


SVN & Porn Sword Tobacco, “Fresh II”
[Acido Records] (buy)

Most times I find Acido releases to be too esoteric for my DJing needs and not quite home listening enough to justify a vinyl purchase. My House Is Not Your House, the label’s penultimate release of 2014, pulled me in — mostly because I can’t get enough of Henrik Jonsson (also of Jonsson/Alter), who collaborates with SVN under his Porn Sword Tobacco guise on two tracks. “Fresh II” feels as loose, relaxed, and planned as a trip down the Lazy River: a bathwater warm soak in the azure tones Jonsson is known for, spread across glistening synths, soft focus bass lines, and gently splaying leads. Given its swift tempo, this is one I’d reach for when winding a set down or perhaps the beginning of an after hours. Either way, it’s an excellent headspace in which to put your audience. And any tune that gets me to defy my instincts about a label and shell out for vinyl rates highly in my book.


Tristen, Pictures From Above
[Aim] (buy)

The first time I reviewed a record by Tristen in 2009 I wrote, “I have high hopes that future cuts will leave ‘Along These Strings’ [the song being reviewed] feeling amateurish.” I’m so happy to report that my prediction has come true on Tristen’s debut for his own Aim label. Which still a hushed affair, the tracks on his Pictures From Above tick all the right boxes for me — the result of considerable effort without feeling overworked or fussy. In a lot of ways they’re the ideal Aim tunes, offering something understated and hypnotic but also tender and rooted in house music. “Streets Of” feels comfortably alone with its thoughts, its odd yet perfectly arrangement of dipping pads and dripping organ chords having a kind of hushed satisfaction to them. The title track is more direct but equally immersive, a series of stitched in synth leads tracing the edges of delicate pads with hints of a Chicago-born progression churning in the middle. I enjoy warming up a room with tracks this inviting, but I love to play them at home just as much. Excellent cozy music that indeed shows great growth from Tristen.


The Working Elite, “Freedom”
[Terre Des Pommes] (buy)

The last track is also one I’ve profiled in SPIN. Suffice it to say, there’s a really lovely, emotive house sound that emanates from Frankfurt where Terre Des Pommes is based (although the Working Elite themselves are half Frankfurter, half Berliner), and I adore it. It’s exemplified on this track, which shows no signs of being self-conscious about its overflow of melody and feelings. That’s just the way I like it — I get goosebumps almost every time I play it.

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Little White Earbuds Presents Cottam Mon, 08 Dec 2014 06:01:28 +0000 Interview-Cottam-1

Some time towards the end of 2009, with the effects of slow-mo house and an on-going run of impressive re-edits circulating in the clubs, a quick-fire triple blast of colored, un-credited 12″s appeared in record stores, being quickly snapped up by those with nimble and discerning ears. The etching on the vinyl runout gave the only clue as to who the producer might be or what the label was called: Cottam. The mystery of this edit-loving beatmaker deepened when the already elusive Story label issued its third release with more these R&B-soaked goodies on its two sides. Before long it was confirmed this was also Cottam; and although fans had to wait another full year before receiving more frequent output from the producer, they were more than sated by his outstanding productions. With demand rising, we started hearing more from Paul Cottam on an array of labels and original productions started to take the place of his earlier sample and edit-based output. Though his incredible talent has continued to spawn highly regarded EPs and impeccable DJ sets and mixes, the producer has been battling against multiple sclerosis, which he was diagnosed with in 2009. The neurological condition has many adverse effects, like having trouble standing, doing physical work, and even concentrating. Despite this, Paul shows no signs of this affecting his creative output, as his incredible DJ mix he approached us with can attests. LWE promptly jumped on the chance to feature the mix and put some questions to the producer at the same time.

Hi Paul, what have you been up to lately?

Paul Cottam: I’ve been playing a lot of Lego. My speciality is vehicles which can drive on the road, fly, and also seem to always house storage for a motorbike. I’ve been watching lots of antiques shows, Lego films/programs, and Horrid Henry. I have also not been sleeping or eating much, but that’s how I keep my sound mind and youthful good looks.

So you have a new label up and running, Ruff Draft. Can you tell us a bit about the label and what sort of musical aesthetic you are pushing with it?

Yeah, I started the label to release music that I would like to play, or hear played, in clubs from other artists. I was being sent and hearing quite a lot of unreleased music that I would love to have been able to play in clubs so I thought why not. It’s not about a style of music, just if it makes me have that feeling of “I’d love to play this out.” I have been toying with the idea for quite a while now. I’m still very new to this, so I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m enjoying learning though and I realize it may be some time before I get halfway competent at it.

In terms of the artists you are releasing on there, are these friends? Demos you’ve received? Where are you sourcing your releases?

Most of the releases are from people who have sent me the music. Usually people I have either met in the past or people I “know” through social media. In one case someone got in contact with me as their label had quite a full schedule and he must have thought, “These tracks need releasing” and passed them on to me with the artist’s contact details.

You’ve already put out four releases on Ruff Draft just this year. Can we expect this release rate to continue? Anything forthcoming Ruff Draft issues you can tell us about?

Five releases now :0) I’m not sure if the rate will continue. It really depends on the music I find or am sent and if it’s possible to release. There is one more release ready to go, Ruff Draft 6, but after that one there is nothing solid. There are a couple of things brewing but I don’t like saying anything until things are done and dusted. Wouldn’t want to tempt fate and all that.

When you first came out with your self-titled label, your tracks were largely based around edits, Afrobeat and soul. This still plays a part in some of your releases, though to my ears, it sounds like when you’re not sampling or editing you opt for a darker house/techno sound. Can you tell us about this transition and how you started out making tracks?

It’s a long story and my brain isn’t very good at summarizing these days. Here we go: I started making music with a friend in his studio around 18 years ago. It was all done on hardware apart from the sequencing and was kind of hard techno. I was a proper techno head for many, many years. From about 2000, I had stopped working with him and didn’t really make much apart from the odd session with close friends. This was mainly having fun and learning I guess.

2008 came along and I actually had a computer. Bought a couple of bits, soundcard, controller, and keyboard, and then proceeded to learn how to make music on a computer, mainly through trial and error but also with the odd pointer from friends. Obviously, as you can tell from my early stuff, it was all either sample-based, reworks or re-edits. I was buying a lot of soul, hip-hop and afro, hence the first releases being the way they are. Hahahaha, told you my brain can’t summarize these days. Anyway, my tracks are getting a bit darker house/techno because it’s taken me a while to teach myself the ways of making music on a computer. I would have been making more of that in the past if I knew how. The sample based/edits thing was a good place to start in my learning of the ways of making music on a computer.

Given that when you first started releasing there was no name on your records, do you have any other musical aliases?

Nope. I’m too dim and scatty for any of that.

Through some of your edits and remixes you’ve made great use of vocals. Is working with a vocalist something you’d like to do in your original productions?

I would love to use a vocalist. I did start plans with a young lady with a fantastic voice but the creative process of song writing proved too much for me at the time. Ill health kind of escalated at that time and with everything that was happening I kind of put it on a back burner. I have never revisited the idea as I came to the conclusion that I ain’t a proper producer and I’d probably make a mess of it.

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

The mix was done during a period of feeling “unwell,” hence the title when I gave it you, “A Downer On A Dark Dank Day.” I just had a blast and the music kind of reflects, in my head, how I was feeling at the time.

What can we expect from you over the next year?

I don’t really know to be honest. I don’t really plan things out. You can be sure there’ll be a shed load more DJ mixes. Production wise, who knows…

Download: LWE Presents Cottam (101:23)


01. Keith Worthy, “Interlude 1″ [Aesthetic Audio]
02. Huerco S., “Untitled A1″ [Proibito]
03. JBSF, “Untitled B2″ [Ferrispark]
04. S Olbricht, “Veuns” [Lobster Theremin]
05. Royer, “Sunday Yellow” (Independence Ave Orchestra Sermon mix)
[Material Image]
06. Clendon Toblerone, “Mystics Of Thaquitz” [Cos_Mos]
07. DJ Qu, “Soma” [Strength Music Recordings]
08. Q.V., “Social Music” [Phonica White]
09. Spoiled Drama, “The Sun In Your Face” (Route 8 Remix) [Nous]
10. Community Corporation, “Crystalis” [Argot]
11. Zennor, “Storms” [The Trilogy Tapes]
12. S Olbricht, “Fi” [Lobster Theramin]
13. Q.V., “Change” [Phonica White]
14. Henry Giles, “Exploring 0 S 102 0″ [Public Possession]
15. Steve Murphy, “What Did You Just Give Me” [Basement Floor Records]
16. Community Corporation, “Subterranean Limestone” [Argot]
17. DJ Qu, “Untitled (Hi-Life)” [Strength Music Recordings]
18. 45 ACP, “Hold On” [Dog In The Night Records]
19. TWINS, “Creepstick (Believe The Floor)” [Clan Destine Traxx]
20. Voiceless, “Charivari” [Ill Rivers]
21. Barnt, “Under His Own Name But Also As Sir” [Hinge Finger]
22. Tzusing, “No Primordial State” [L.I.E.S.]
23. Life’s Track, “Stone” [Cos_Mos]

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Little White Earbuds Presents Fabrice Lig Tue, 18 Nov 2014 16:11:21 +0000 Interview-Fabrice-Lig-1

Active since the early 90s, Fabrice Lig is one of only a small handful of producers who have been welcomed by the Detroit techno community as one of their own. The Belgian DJ and producer first appeared as DJ Triphase on the Radio Active Records imprint way back in 1992 with an EP of impressive techno/trance that looked beyond the rave and hardcore permeating Europe at the time towards the more subtle strains emanating from Motor City. It was in the late 90s that his star really began to rise, with releases on Residual and Raygun leading the way for him to enter the new millennium as an in-demand artist for a variety of labels around the world. To that end, Lig has graced labels like Playhouse, 7th City, Clone, Kanzleramt and Submerge, with his forthcoming album, Galactic Soul Odyssey, finding a home on Planet E. LWE got in touch with Fabrice to find out more about the album, his early days of clubbing in Ghent, and what he has gained from more than 20 years in the business. He also put together an exclusive mix for us that is his personal homage to the Detroit sound that has kept him inspired all these years.

Hi Fabrice. You’ve been making music for more than 20 years now. Whereabouts in Belgium did you grow up and what were the clubs or places you were going to, to listen to and discover music?

I have to say, here in Belgium we were happy clubbers. We had really innovative and exciting clubs in the late ’80s. One of the best, and where I had my first contacts with clubbing was the “Boccaccio Life” in Ghent. I was 15 when I discovered that. I really wish all the teenagers could live an experience like that. If I were living the future, I would jump into another dimension. We were living a musical revolution, it was so exciting! Than we had some other great clubs like Café d’Anvers, then Fuse (where I discovered so many amazing artists), also Cherry Moon Club, where the music was more Belgian techno oriented, but that club sound, lights, and crowd had an amazing energy. I liked to be there just for that high energy. I also remember the beginning of Ten Days of Techno in Ghent, where I saw Dave Angel, Luke Slater, and Bandulu live at the same party, it was a shock too, and these men were so funky! That’s really they way I wanted to follow. But to discover music, I was also going to the Ghent and Antwerp records shops. we were a lot of DJs sharing these moments. It was more friendly than just exchanging messages on Facebook ;-).

What were the first steps for you in starting to produce your own tracks? Did you have any musical training or were you teaching yourself as you went?

Not at all! Was totally alone to start producing music. I had no idea of how to do it, I just knew I needed to do it, it was inside me. No internet and tutorials, no softwares, Ableton or Reason, all in one. I started by buying a drum machine in a old school music shop in Charleroi. They even never heard about electronic music ;-). When I asked for some gear to start making electronic music, they looked at me as an alien! So I started to go to many gigs where the artists were playing live. That’s how I experienced a +8 hour party at Cherry Moon (Lokeren, Be) where I’ve seen Mark Gage playing live (Vapourspace). And it was totally amazing, that guy blew me away! That’s also the first time I’ve seen a Roland Sh101, and Mark is a virtuose of that synth. After that I just had an idea in my mind — buy a 101 — and today it’s still my favorite synth. I always have two or three of these here ;-). After that I found a 909 and a 303. I got an old mixer from a friend, I bought an Akai Sampler (X 7000), and the studio was on. I recorded my first underground record as Interwaves, with Music Man, it sounded really close to Jeff Mills, Luke Slater or Dave Angel. It took many years to find my own way, my own sound, but it was my next goal to reach it.

You’ve had a large number of aliases over your career, with Soul Designer being the other name you’ve used the most. How does Soul Designer material differ from that of Fabrice Lig?

Ah! Ah! So many people ask me the same question! Damn, I can’t explain that. Soul Designer was a project I create by F-Communication’s demand. They wanted me to have a moniker just for their label. I was not really into that idea but hey, when a label like F-Com ask you to have a special project for them, you have to do it. But my musical approach is the same: funk, soul, sincerity, no compromises. That’s my definition of Fabrice Lig’s music whatever the moniker or project I do.

There are a couple of great videos of you playing live on YouTube. The most recent was playing with the new Roland TR8. What’s that like as a piece of live equipment?

It’s a nice machine. I was working on my new live set-up, and the TR-8 came on time! It has the same ergonomy than the old 909, it’s cheaper but it does the job really well on stage! It brings back a lot of improvisation and energy into my live act. But I also like to use it on top of my DJ set-up. it’s a good weapon in different configurations.

Having been doing this for so long now, what are some of the key things that you’ve taken away from what you do?

So many things. Especially meeting people from all over the world, from Detroit and Underground Resistance, to Japan and these amazing people living there, to China or Malaysia where I realize how some people have different lives than I have. Or like Israel, where I found so many friendly people dealing with fear and happiness everyday. But also all these passionate underground music promoters everywhere. It’s fantastic how the electronic music movement is giving pleasure and emotion to the people. I learned a lot on the human side thanks to travelling for music. It’s a real chance; you can’t see life in the same way. But I also have the chance to have another life out of music, so all these things was a treasure for being a good teacher too, I think.

The mix you’ve done for us is an homage to Detroit, which obviously has played a huge role in your own productions. Tell us about what made you fall in love with Detroit techno and why it continues to be such a big part of your music?

I found in Detroit techno (and later black music), everything I need in music. Soul, funk, energy, and futuristic sounds. I was made to love it! So it was natural when I started making music to use the same ingredients. At first I was really close to the music from Detroit, and years and years, I developed my own style, but always with the same spirit than Detroit artists had when they started. After that I realized that in fact I was into black music more globally. I discover the soul of blues music, even spiritual songs from slaves, the spirit of jazz pioneers, the funk of Funkadelic and some other P-Funk, or funk bands, the sweat and rage of hip-hop. All these music are from black people…why? Maybe because they are maybe better to express music directly from the soul? Probably.

What have you been working on lately? What can we expect from Fabrice Lig over the next while?

Ah! Wow, give me a break! ;-). I just finished the album months ago. Working hard now on the live act I’ll tour with. I also made some remixes for Madben, Southsoniks, Chris Hinger, last week for Ian O’Donovan. I also work on some new proper techno tracks for the live act and for future releases. And still managing the rest of my life too…

Download: LWE Presents Fabrice Lig (61:41)


01. Vince Watson, “It’s Not Over” (C2 Remix) [Planet-E]
02. William Welt, “Instinctive Behavior” [22 Digit Records]
03. Frivolous, “Bats At Twillight” [30porumalinha]
04. KiNK & Fabrice Lig, “No Robots Voices” [*]
05. Metrobox, “Liefje” [Blossom Kollektiv]
06. Hannes Rasmus, “Die Rache Der Gummienten” [Traum Schallplatten]
07. Chris Hinger, “Take A Chance” (Fabrice Lig Remix) [Conya Records*]
08. Estroe, “Happy Distraction” (Sean Deason Remix) [EevoNext]
09. DMX Krew, “Forward March” [Shipwrec]
10. Russ Gabriel, “In The Van” [We Play House Recordings]
11. Fabrice Lig, “Static Surface 22″ [Planet E Communications]
12. Delta Funktionen, “RM” [Delsin]
13. OktoRed, “Dust Trails” (ft. Domgue) [*]
14. Raiders Of The Lost Arp, “Lunar Lander” [Lunar Disko Records]
15. Mobach, “Ganesh Particles” [SD Records]
16. Lionel Weets, “Don’t Fool Me ” [KMS Records*]
17. Dimitri From Amsterdam & Reinoud van Toledo, “Techno Por Favor”
[Planet E Communications]
18. Scan 7, “The Resistance” [Tresor]
* denotes tracks which, at the time of publishing, are unreleased

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Shaddah Tuum, Merkabah Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:01:04 +0000 Merkabah is feral night music of a rather high grade, backed by slab cold remixes from Samuel Kerridge and Dadub.]]> 93dc4433d50869069c3e38321c5bb9d7592d0e4c_m
Artwork by

[Portal Editions]

Buy Vinyl
Buy MP3s TK

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 Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:42:27 +0000 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 Thu, 09 Oct 2014 05:01:58 +0000 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 Mon, 29 Sep 2014 05:01:23 +0000 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)


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 Tue, 09 Sep 2014 05:01:46 +0000 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)


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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