After reading this myself, I feel super centered and impassioned – talking about Detroit Techno, the Seattle electronic community and what helps Sweatbox keep their groove going..
Get sexy with this Ctrl_Alt_Dlt mix – get it!
And do yourself a favor – head over to his blog!
To preface this whole thing, I want to start out by saying this blog was a long time coming and something Jonny and I started months ago, he was unfortunately only able to answer a few questions as a result. Trust that he is doing well and about to start some big shit out in Brooklyn.
1. You two just played a show last Friday (a while back) in Ellensburg for a benefit called “Hands”, followed by a show at the Electric Tea Garden in Seattle on Saturday (a while back), how did they go?
Ctrl_Alt_Dlt: The Hands show was great, nice venue, well organized, GREAT crowd. I had a lot of fun at the show. It’s too bad we couldn’t go till two, I think that crowd was definitely up for another two hours of music.
The show at the Tea Garden was called “Love Unit” and was a blast. [a]pendics.shuffle and Rex Sepulveda were the headliners and both played great sets. We’ve got a monthly going over there, every fourth friday and they just keep getting more crackin. Really excited for next months installment with The Automatic Message from Vancouver and my boy Matt Yurek from Detroit.
Jonny: “Hands” was a great first effort by the local Ellensburg promoters. These guys are young and have a small fan base to begin with, so with that said, I think they are off to a great start. It would also seem, their heart is in the right place as well, which is more than I can say for many others in our scene. Now if we can just get a proper DJ monitor next time 😉
Our show, “Love Unit” was typical of Seattle late night culture. Friends show up early to support and everyone else pops in around 2 am when the party really gets going. A far cry from the midnight ending of “Hands”, where most supporters where already there early. There is also an obvious age difference between the shows, so it goes without saying where most people were prior to 2 am. Now if we could just get people out to our shows before 12 am 😉
Jonny: I would agree with the misrepresentation of the word Techno as well. Most people think it is a blanket term for electronic music in general. To me it is best summed up by Detroit with a dash of Europe for good measure. You know when you hear it and it is undeniable. It ain’t house baby!
3. How were you both introduced to electronic music?
I got into it through the rave scene in Detroit in ’99. The scene was wild at that point, basically the apex of rave in Detroit and well past the legendary “early days” of Detroit techno. I didn’t know much about the scene and just went with some friends to a huge party at a place called “Better Days,” got my mind blown, and basically, my life has never been the same since. I started going out more, getting way more into the music, started DJing about a year later, and just stuck with it up until where I’m at today.
Jonny: I began my life into dance music as a ‘wee one’ when my parents would have late night parties in our basement, complete with disco-ball. My parents still listen to 70’s and 80’s dance to this day. Personally, I attended my first rave as an adolescent in 1997. I got “wrecked” beyond belief but knew this was the life for me. Somewhere along the line I gave up on everything that wasn’t exclusive to the dance floor, meaning; no more drugs, no drama, no more mix compilations (substitute vinyl) and I took it a bit more seriously. I figure if you want to do this as a lifestyle, you gotta make it sustainable.
4. Your mixing is seamless, has it been a slow process to get to this point?
C_A_D: I think with any kind of art form or discipline, you need A LOT of practice, I’ve been going at it for almost ten years now and feel like it’s only been the last five years or so, where I’ve been playing regularly in front of a crowd and on a big system, that my game has really come together. I think there is a huge difference between the bedroom and the club for any new DJ and you’ve gotta put a lot of time into the club environment until you really feel comfortable behind the decks. So in short, I think it is just a continual process that never ends. I feel like I’m a better DJ than I was a year ago and the same goes for the year before that.
5. If i’m correct, Ctrl_Alt_Dlt your originally from Detroit, and Johnny Romero your from Denver….what are the electronic scenes like in those areas compared to Seattle?
C_A_D: I always have a blast whenever I’m out and about in Detroit. I think it’s got great energy with a lot of world renowned artists coming through on the regular and a solid locals scene, not to mention the greatest techno festival in the world, DEMF. For me there is always a certain intensity to a good Detroit party because of how well they generally do the productions there. Top notch sound, technocentric, and a serious no-nonsense fanbase. Seattle has a solid scene as well, it’s just a different landscape out here, fewer late night spots, not nearly as irreverent as Detroit in terms of what the bars and clubs will let you get away with, but is crackin in it’s own right for sure. The locals scene is great, everybody is really passionate and into what they’re doing, and all the promoters generally work well with each other. I just wish that Seattle had as many headliners rolling through town as Detroit does, sometimes I get starved for the cutting edge acts that I want to see, thankfully DEMF fills that gap.
6. What would you say to anyone whose interested in DJ’ing and/or producing?
Do it. I heard a great quote one time, I believe it was from Theo Parrish who said, “You’ve got to have the attitude of not what can you do for me, but what can I do for us.” This scene is pretty small here in the States and it’s important to nurture it. Negativity and hating degrade and take all the fun out of the party. By having the right attitude, focused on refining your craft and how that can improve your scene, will get you way farther than anything else. It can get discouraging at times but in the end you’ve just got to stick with it and keep pushing along, eventually you will see results.
Technically speaking, one of the most important tips I ever got was, when picking out your tracks was don’t play exclusively peak time bangers, that shit gets old real quick. You’re essentially telling a story that needs peaks and valleys to keep the crowds interest. Keep this mind and never be afraid to take chances, that is where all of the fun lies.
Production is a whole different monster and one that I’ve been battling over the last couple years. To really excel at this there is a huge learning curve that essentially never ends. You’ve got to get over the first hurdle of understanding your equipment, then the next hurdle is getting the basics of arrangement down and actually understanding the nuances of how techno is built, and then lastly it’s all about sound engineering, which to me is the most complicated and where a whole other aspect of the talent lies. Discouragement and frustration are endless at the beginning but once you start to get it down there is much satisfaction to be had in creating your own music.
With that said and to close this thing out, I wanted to mention my first release which will be coming out on FROM 0-1 records in the coming year. Keep your eyes peeled, I’m really stoked for this one. Sweatbox also has an afterhours showcase we will be doing entitled “Thrilling Mystery” with a secret lineup and location announced the day of the show, Thursday Sept. 23rd. Plus, my own DJ spot at the Shameless Showcase at Chop Suey on the same night, opening up the main room for Dan Bell and Deepchild. See you then!