For those of you who caught the Dropping Gems Showcase over at HG Lodge last night, I have this interview with opener DJAO
DD: First off, I’m enjoying this “Just For Today I Won’t” track of yours (Forthcoming on Car Crash Set). You are affiliated with 2 very exciting local labels, Dropping Gems and Car Crash Set..How did these bonds come about?
Thanks, I’m glad you like that track. It didn’t take me very long to make, compared to some of my other stuff, so I’m always flattered when people say they’re into it.
I’ve been fortunate to have all my affiliations develop organically. I joined up with Dropping Gems last year, after basically showing up to the label launch show with a USB stick full of beats, all of which I had made while living in Baltimore. That night they had some extra room at the end of the lineup (around 3am I think) so I jumped on and did my chopped-and-screwed DJ thing too, and we just went from there. I went to middle school with Aaron (manager of DG), and for a year or so before that first show we’d see each other on Facebook posting music, talking about shows, complaining about Low End podcasts not having track lists, etc., so I knew we had similar taste and were heading in similar directions. After I moved back to Seattle I hit him up and we reconnected. Other than that, though, the night I showed up I was meeting everyone for the first time. Since then everyone in DG has become like family. I’m the only one who lives in Seattle, but I know every time I’m down in Portland or Olympia I automatically have a home. We collaborate on music, pool our time and resources to develop the collective’s pursuits, and manage our careers as artists, but mainly we’re friends.
Car Crash Set is a slightly different story, but also has to do with unlikely connections and the luck I’ve had reaching out once I moved back to Seattle. I met Will (Ill Cosby) at a show he was playing, which I was motivated to attend purely because I recognized people on the lineup from the internet, and found out him and I had indeed been “hanging out on the internet” for years. We began running into each other a lot at shows, during a time where I was trying to grow the Dropping Gems presence in Seattle and learn to do a bunch of stuff I’d never done before, promotion/musical wise. He’s done a tremendous amount for the electronic scene in our city, helping carve out a reliable space to hear forward-thinking bass music that’s usually under appreciated. He booked me for my first true future-chopped-and-screwed DJ set, which for me was a landmark moment in my musical development, and which I later developed into the Endolithtrophic mix on my Soundcloud. It wasn’t until later on that he approached me about a release, and I’m honestly super excited to be involved. I’m eclectic in both my music taste and my production style, and it’s wonderful to have a structured outlet to make the kind of future music that Car Crash Set is known for putting out. I have an immense amount of respect for him and the label.
I think I generally just have a lot of gratitude for all the support and inclusion that I’ve experienced from all the great people I’ve met in the past year and a half, and for all the things I’ve done that I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish otherwise.
DD: How would you describe the overall sound of the Dropping Gems showcase, which you are performing at?
Experimental, eclectic, organic, rhythmic. Psychedelic, maybe. I would say the artists all “kind of” fall underneath the umbrella of the “beat scene,” but that seems to be less and less useful as a description these days. It’s difficult to put into words. We use a lot of field recordings, aspire to doing a lot of live instrumentation, etc. Everyone has their own style. Ghost Feet are electrifying and mournful at the same time. Citymouth’s style is really cerebral but it also has a visceral edge, with a definite head-nod factor. My stuff is supposed to be big and warm and enveloping, but it also jumps around a lot, and I’m playing with my friend Zuri doing live guitar. Generally it’s not club music or dance music in any typical sense, more like experimental music that employs dance idioms. A straight-ahead beat might melt into a drone, which becomes a dance track that devolves into a sound-collage, and so on. Our audiences do dance, but typically the music doesn’t easily lend itself to dancing, especially for unadventurous listeners.
The Non Projects guys we’re bringing up from LA (Anenon and Asura) are both incredibly talented artists in this sense. There’s plenty of rhythm and percussion in their work, but where they’re coming from is so left-field, you’re more likely to feel like you’ve taken an incredible emotional journey than like you’ve danced your ass off. They’re also remarkable for their sheer musicality. I know I haven’t seen anything similar so far this year, in terms of live shows, so I’m just as thrilled as anyone else to see what they’ll do. Everyone in Dropping Gems is. It’s why we asked them to come up in the first place.
DD: Favorite thing about Decibel Festival?
Seeing artists that I’ve only heard/read about on the internet, especially UK artists, hands down. I don’t what I did to deserve an international electronic music festival in my back yard, much less one as thoughtfully and intelligently curated as Decibel. I suppose I’m just thankful, really. Between last year’s festival and the shows leading up to this year’s festival I saw a half-dozen major artists, Untold, Ikonika, Scuba, Mary Anne Hobbs, Mount Kimbie, James Blake, so many UK artists I never thought I get the chance to see. I missed out on even more. This year I’m looking forward to a lot of things, international and domestic, that I know I would never get to see otherwise. I can’t imagine know who else in this city would book Matthewdavid for an ambient set at Benaroya.
DJAO on Soundcloud & Facebook
– Jimi Jaxon