Archives for the month of: February, 2014

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I welcome new energy. It’s a chance to keep things interesting, and push towards a collective evolution. Very recently, I reached out to the new Kremwerk club in Seattle. I asked about booking, sent over my mixes, and subsequently starting talking with Austin Stone. I enjoyed my interactions with him and was very intrigued by this new place. He has kindly asked me to play this week with fellow DJ/Producer Møss on February 27th. After seeing the club for the first time and getting a tour from Austin, I knew that his words and actions should be shared with more people. So here we are.. 

DD What inspired you to move from Berlin to Seattle?

AS Berlin had the art, music and lifestyle I dreamed about, but I had an opportunity to contribute what I loved and bring something to the Seattle community instead of just feeding off of a vibrant oasis in Europe. Several of my mentors and heroes inspired me to make the move, a chance I wouldn’t get again, and a path that would yield for not only me but a greater network of artists and people.

I had not lived in Seattle for more than a few months before, but I have several family members who live here so there was a great foundation of support to cushion the move and grow once I planted my own roots.

DD What was the process to build this new club called Kremwerk? I talked with you about it the other day, and it’s been quite the journey yeah?

AS The original space was about six dingy apartments that had various anarchists, night-crawlers, and moles in a windowless low ceiling basement. The other partners of the club, Nicole Stone and Henry Waltke leveled the entire floor about six feet to redo the plumbing and lay a new concrete slab. They wanted a fresh start for a new vibrant space. Everything is a new build and design, provided by Nicole and Henry of Kremwerk.

I came in May 2013 to help with the build, design and concept of the club. We went through various designs and concepts, but decided an electronic venue with my recent Berlin inspirations would be pragmatic, and tremendous amount of fun to create and prolong. Nicole built out the space, Henry handled running the business, and I helped with networking for bookings.

There were several challenges to overcome through the city, family/personal illness, and unknown logistics to open the venue. But Henry, Nicole and I all kept our cool and patience to wait for our announcement in Winter and start events. Now that we are up and running there is a shift for all of us to adapt from daytime build into nightlife management. It has been a tremendous endeavor, altruistically inspiring, and so much joy to be here. I would do it again in an instant!

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DD How would you describe the aesthetic of the place?

AS Kremwerk is an industrial German electronic nightclub; there is minimal form and color that accents our robust concrete, steel, and wood build out. Kremwerk looks tough but feels soft. Color is big part of the space, everything is indirect lighting that builds on our textures and surfaces. The space is also modular; every light and object moves or changes to fit the theme of the night, we want every event and experience to be special.

Kremwerk makes extensive and complex behind the scene development look simple, natural and effortless. There is a feeling of awe and freshness throughout the entire space.

DD I’m curious about your own artistic background. Stuff you do/have done with music..

AS I started writing contemporary chamber music and then incorporated electronic elements to further explore abstract listening. This lead to creating multimedia works with generative programming and complex electronic synthesis. While studying music production at Berklee College of Music I began throwing events off campus with a collective of other artists called ElecSonic. Eventually I pursued mastering and high end production for film and surround. At that point I moved to Berlin to write and experience music, and worked at a new media arts venue currently at KunstWerk called FEED. I also worked at Scape Mastering with Stefan Betke aka Pole and focused on serious electronic music production.

Currently I am keeping a few high energy dance tracks on the outgoing, and I always take on a few mix down edits or mastering projects for others. Eventually once the heat rises we will be aiming to start releasing material from Kremwerk.

DD Who are some artists that have influenced your expression the most?

AS To name a few of many: Monolake, Pole, Bronski Beat, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Emika, Tarik Barri, Hercules and Love Affair, Os Mutantes, M.Constant, Wheez-ie

* Austin will have new self released productions in March

Kremwerk – Facebook

Austin Stone – Soundcloud

– Jimi Jaxon

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As mentioned in this post title, I believe Jimmy Edgar has some crazy dominance over magical properties. His productions, and overall aesthetic have some spell over me. There’s something about the sound and look of each element, and his use of effects. Every day at my house, one of my roommates and I are playing something from this man..I think I woke up yesterday to “Qlinda”. Most recently we were gifted with his RA mix. Cut to VINYL, people, Edgar has gone the extra mile to give a specific, warm sound quality. One thing I really like about this mix, is I can put it on and get distracted by something, come back to it and the vibe is unbroken. He also takes his time building the energy, it creeps in all sophisticated like, and before you know it, you’re off. It’s a well-built mindset, and it’s that execution that I look for in a superior mix. It’s also just as much a mental journey as it is a physical one. I can imagine myself at one of Jimmy’s shows (Played before him and Machinedrum at Decibel Festival 2012, saw him and Jets at Decibel Festival 2013), or I could just have headphones on and travel throughout my psyche.

Born in 1983, It’s insane to note that by age 15, Edgar was DJ’ing Detroit raves alongside Techno pioneers/wizards Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. Soon after, he signed his first record deal, and by 2004 he had his first Warp Records release entitled “Access Rhythm”. It’s Edgar’s skills as a visual artist that grab me just as much as his music. Almost every single time he posts some graphic online, I’m like “wow”, or “like”, or “what the fuck? this is rad.” Take for example this above picture which he captioned, “Ultramajic office”, or the below one saying “One of the few shots without the model from Me and Pilars photoshoot.”

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It’s that multi-sensory precision and ultra class that puts Jimmy in a total other realm. This 2013 Redefine Magazine Interview said it best, “While it begins with solid musical foundations of intricately-crafted, analog synth-driven club jams, it (Edgar) has grown more and more to incorporate art, music, and metaphysical ideas into one cohesive artistic whole.”

From Vedic and Hindu religion, to magic and quantum physics, founder Edgar with collaborators Pilar Zeta and Machinedrum weave their spiritual and mathematical fascinations into an already incendiary record label + design house + metaphysical portal called Ultramajic (Est. 2013). With sound as their foundation, the label is making huge statements right out the gate; powerful tracks that easily influence dance floors and consciousnesses. You may feel the releases demand movement, or just simply, trip people out. My eyes are glued to Ultramajic until further notice; with future releases from Jets, Sophie, and plans for club nights and gallery events.   

 

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*Just Released on Ultramajic* Danny Daze – Silicon EP

Jimmy Edgar – Twitter Soundcloud Facebook Youtube

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Ultramajic – Soundcloud Twitter Facebook Tumblr

ultramajic.com

– Jimi Jaxon

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Sometimes on Disco Droppings, I create relationships with producers I’ve never met in person. We develop this connection that carries on long after a feature is written. This interview on the other hand is with a very close friend of mine. Max Taylor and I have played a bunch of shows together in Bellingham and Seattle, Washington. I can say that in addition to being a gifted producer, he’s an admirable human being. I’m excited to give him the spotlight. His now self-released Into The Deep EP is so good, I wish I released it myself on 7 Deadly Records. But don’t fear, you may see him on my label in a big way soon! Now, onto our conversation about his mindset, the EP, his recent shows and plans for the near future..

 

DD How did your productions sound in the first stages. and how has it evolved to today? I’ve noticed a big evolution into more of a distinct style pretty quickly.

MT Well, when I started producing I was only sixteen and at that time I was still taking piano lessons. This is significant because, at the time, my first productions seemed so formulaic. I ended up discontinuing the lessons because I felt that, in a way, I wanted to be close to my music but at the same time as far away as possible; it’s the way I approach my music right now. Like, I would rather be focused on making music without feeling pressure to make it dance-y, or anything. I just want it to happen. Escaping those external forces has been a big part of my evolution, but not all of it.

DD We talked somewhat recently while I was visiting your area of Bellingham, Washington. It was after a show we played together, and I think I mentioned creating sets and productions exactly the way you want, represent what you love the most, not necessarily what you think people want to hear…and that eventually that energy will attract like minded people. You seem to be running with that now.

MT Absolutely, I remember having that talk. I want to create an emotion, a mood, a feeling. Each sound, synth, chord, percussion has its place in the mix; my live set up right now enables me to individually trigger each piece, so if I feel like jamming on the same minor chord for longer I can. It’s exciting, and that’s what keeps me interested.

DD I’ve been hearing great things about your recent shows..

MT They’ve been going well, I’m glad you’ve heard good things! Where more variables are present, I guess.. there’s more room for failure. So it presents challenges at times. For example at a recent show, I couldn’t figure out why the Rhodes was feeding back so much! Luckily the problem was solved, but it just goes to show that anything can happen… and I really like that in music. I think, that spontaneity, has made my sets more musical. Generally people have told me they like my sets.

DD This Into The Deep EP is incredibly smooth. The use of space and reverb creates a vast and soulful feel. Feels like drifting slow motion through life. The editing of this release as well is perfect I’d say; no filler, diversity and a definite statement. A complete idea. What was your mindset about this specific release? Any influences musical or not that you’d like to mention?

MT I wanted to go as deep as I could into something I don’t exactly know how to describe. I’m not even sure if I know what that thing is. I wanted to set a mood with the music, and honestly I feel like it was a little more diverse than I had anticipated. I think in the future my tracks will be much less composed, if you know what I mean? I tend to love tracks more than artists across the board, like “93 Days in China” by Omma, the klar and pf mix of “Only This Moment”, I really like what Darkside has been doing. Before I sold my technics I used to play “Shake it Mama” by Jupiterjazz in every single set… almost.

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DD We’ve been friends for a little while now. I remember meeting you at Q for the first time in Seattle (the above picture is from the first night we met at said club aww), and feeling an instant connection, a kindred spirit in a way. Knowing your personality and energy, I can feel it coming out in your newest productions crystal clear. Do you feel more vulnerable in a way with this new music of yours, does it feel more personal?

MT It does, it is also a tough pill to swallow for some people, as opposed to playing tracks I already know are great and loved. As a DJ, I always felt like a great selector, it’s a different situation to test previously untested material. I guess that’s where I come in and trust myself in the studio.

DD What’s next for you? The EP’s out now and your working on the live show?

MT Yes, I’ve been working with a friend who’s playing electric guitar and the Moog, and it’s just been so fun. I mean, just making the most intense noise that fills every space in a venue; you just can’t do that with just ableton and a midi controller. What’s next is just finding time..turns out working at hospital takes up a lot of that, and energy, but somehow I manage to have reserve left over.

Artwork credit: Sensebellum

Max Taylor – Soundcloud Facebook

– Jimi Jaxon

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The most recent quote on Jhene Aiko’s Tumblr reads, “Sunshine all the time makes a desert.” This arab proverb is perfect for Aiko’s attitude towards life and music. To paraphrase from a past interview she’s said, “I just believe in progressing through life..I really take things that most people would see as negative as motivation..tradegy etc., those are the things that make me even more motivated and inspired.” It can be easy for some to hear her music, her voice and instantly be drifting away in a kind of bliss. But there is darkness, and complexity within the beauty.

Jhene is about a year older than me, a Pisces, born March 16th 1988 (raised in LA). While I was trading Pokemon cards and playing video games in 2002 (Jhene was probably doing that too:)), she was getting her music career started, contributing vocals to past R&B group B2K. It was fun to realize I had heard her voice way back then and not noticed. You can spot Aiko in their video for “Uh Huh” (my favorite of theirs).

 

She toured with them for a bit, and took a break from the music industry for several years. During this time, she had a daughter and had a record label meeting that would influence the future creation of the Sailing Souls Mixtape, Sail Out EP and upcoming debut album Souled Out. She was told the classic tale, that you need to sell yourself if you want to get somewhere in the business. A play on words would change “sell” to “sail”, and that attitude of freedom and artistic integrity would fuel her future work.

 

I admire her energy and perspective on the world within and around her. She doesn’t believe in setbacks and takes each moment good or bad, as energy for her music. It’s that roll with the punches feel that’s helped give her this angelic, as well as raw presentation as an artist and person. In her Sailing Souls mixtape (Prod. by K. Roosevelt, Fistcuffs, J.LBS, Bei Maejor and Tae Beast), the relationship songs are all about one particular, unnamed person. The audience has a window into her life, and that vulnerability and honesty has connected with a massive and diverse group of individuals. That mixtape’s had over a quarter of a million downloads, and features Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Miguel, Gucci Mane, Lite, H.O.P.E., Roosevelt and Kanye West.

Her productions on that mixtape were smooth demonstrations of R&B, soul and pop, some of my favorites being “Stranger”, “Hoe Feat. Miguel & Gucci Mane”, “Real Now”, “Higher” and “Space Jam.”

 

 

Jhene lost her brother Miyagi to cancer in July 2012. She wrote “For My Brother” solely for her dying sibling, and he passed away shortly after hearing it. That fall, “3:16 AM” was released as a single from Sail Out.

In 2013 she was featured on Drake’s “From Time” off his marvelous Nothing Was The Same album, was involved in a car crash with her daughter (who was thankfully unharmed) and released her Sail Out EP (Prod. by Fistcuffs and No I.D., via Def Jam and Artium) in November. With each release, from the mixtape to this EP I hear a mighty evolution that further puts Aiko in her own creative space. It’s refreshing, organic music, that doesn’t sound anything like current mainstream cheese. The same labels that brought Sail Out are now prepping Jhene’s debut album, Souled Out (out May 2014). I’m itchin’ to hear where she takes us next.

* You can catch Jhene Aiko at Coachella 2014 *

 

Jhene Aiko – Facebook Twitter Tumblr Soundcloud

– Jimi Jaxon

References: Jhene Aiko Interview – The Truth With Elliott Wilson, Wikipedia, Jhene Aiko Interview With Manny Norte

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Super hyped to present the first Disco Droppings interview of 2014. After interviewing Abby Martin, RT’s Breaking The Set host last year, I was so pleased with all the people checking out the feature. I will continue expanding the scope of Disco Droppings, which mostly focuses on music and showcase a wider variety of topics. In that spirit, I want to put Breaking The Set on a pedestal once again through it’s producer, Manuel Rapalo. See the humans behind the show..

DD You are the producer of Breaking The Set, hosted by Abby Martin. What kind of work goes into producing this show? How does this balance with your life outside of the job?

 
MR Wow, I don’t even know where to begin. Producing this show is a 24/7 gig, between booking guests, digging for the stories that the corporate media misses (either deliberately or not), fact checking our sources, writing and timing the show and God knows what else… it can really be overwhelming sometimes, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t exhausting. But it’s a team effort, and we care deeply about the content and believe in it strongly, that makes it worth it. Work definitely bleeds into my personal life, but I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with amazing friends and family who both inspire me and keep me from going crazy.

DD You grew up in Honduras. I didn’t know much about this country until I watched an episode of BTS back in June of this year. Abby talked about the 4th anniversary of the Honduras Coup, and the complete chaos and instability since. You joined her to speak about many of the country’s problems. Being someone that was spent a lot of time in another country before moving to the US, how was this impacted your perspective on national American issues, as well as the way America interacts with Central America?

MR I was born and raised in Honduras and immigrated to the US when I was a teenager. As proud as I am of my Honduran roots, I’m also proud and grateful for the opportunity to live in the US. Being here as an expatriate has actually given me a sense of obligation to try to help people contextualize the issues that are important to Hondurans and Latinos. And my upbringing and education in Honduras has certainly had a big role in shaping my understanding of US domestic and foreign policy. In fact, the US has played a major role in the history of Central America, both the good and the bad, and I think it’s important that this history isn’t forgotten. That’s why I’ve always been keen on shining a light on stories that challenge the way US interests continue to influence Latin America.

 

DD At 24, I’ve been attempting to widen my vision beyond just music, learn about a variety of issues and try to make some contribution for
the better. The process of taking in so much information on top of my work as an artist and my personal life is daunting. It’s also inspiring and challenging, but sometimes I just feel overrun by it all. Especially as an emotionally driven and sensitive person, I can soak in energies to very deep levels, sometimes to an extreme. I understand why many people block out so much that’s going on in the world, choosing to just focus on their immediate surroundings and relationships. However I feel like this pattern has had a devastating overall effect; allowing rights to be eroded, the planet to be pillaged to unsustainable levels, and for the governments and corporations to take precedent over ordinary citizens. What would you say to people who wish to help, but either feel overwhelmed, apathetic etc.?

MR Day to day life is hard as it is. Couple that with trying to grasp why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world and it’s hard to see anything other than defeat. But apathy is acceptance; even more so, it’s consenting to the status quo, and I really don’t believe human beings are programed to be that way. I think that people often turn away from news of a drone dismembering a child in Pakistan, or the shooting that’s happening every other school day of the year in America because that shit’s depressing. But how do you fix that? I think the first step is getting yourself informed, and I don’t mean flipping on some corporate media channel talking about Justin Bieber for a full 24 hour cycle… Seek out information for yourself and then share it, and if you have an opinion about it, share it too! People can accomplish big things when they share their opinions; just ask any same-sex couple in Illinois who’s planning their wedding this year thanks to a whole lot of people who shared the same opinion.

 

DD What are some misconceptions or criticisms of BTS, and what would you say to them?

MR I realize that this show isn’t going to please everyone. Actually, if we did I’d have to question what we were doing wrong! But I remember just before we launched the show, Abby – who’s a perfectionist, had a very clear idea of how she wanted everything formatted. Once we went on air we worried that people might not take well to the way we presented the content, but we were actually very surprised by the amount of support we got from day one. We were also surprised that the most common criticism was that Abby was “too attractive to take seriously”… we laughed it off at first, but it was very telling of how many people out there are still intimidated by a strong female voice. It’s been a great experience to watch the show grow though, and I think our viewers today appreciate our approach to discussing controversial issues; really it’s a learning experience for us too, and we’re always working on ways to make the show better.

DD I don’t just see Abby and yourself as journalists, I see real people. You guys often connect things on a very basic human level, not just a political one. What other interests or activities give you energy and inspiration?

MR I grew up spending a lot of time in nature and I love the ocean. Of course living and working in DC does limit how much time I have for making that sort of connection. But living here has allowed me to surround myself with some amazing people that inspire and motivate me every day. And although you can hardly pull me away from my email, there’s nothing more energizing than disconnecting and going off the grid every once in a while, I think that’s down right necessary.

DD Are you able to gauge the diversity within your fan base and/or viewers of BTS?

MR I wouldn’t be able to give you any statistics, but we’re very proud of how many people we’re reaching around the world. It’s always amazing when we get messages from a parent saying that one of our episodes about food safety inspired their kid, or activists in Gabon thanking us for coverage of corruption in their country’s government, it’s great to know that we’re always reaching new audiences and new demographics.

DD The fearless attitude of BTS seems to be rare these days. Who else would you lift up, as people and/or organizations that share your passions, ethics, and mindsets?

MR This is a great question because I certainly don’t feel like BTS is alone in challenging pre-established narratives. We follow investigative journalists who aren’t afraid of advocating for the public good. So shout outs to Nafeez Ahmed, Amy Goodman, Ben Swann, Andy Stepanian from Sparrow Media, our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, and really anyone on social media who isn’t afraid to share what they believe.

* Photo credit: Ian Sblacio

Manuel Rapalo – Twitter

Breaking The Set – Facebook Twitter Youtube

– Jimi Jaxon