Archives for posts with tag: Chicago



I hope to see you at The Crocodile this coming Sunday ($10 Advance TIX, FB event page). This is a part of Chance The Rapper’s ‘Social Experiment Tour’. That show at Showbox Sodo in Seattle, is sold out. Now, my feature on DJ Rashad, DJ Spinn and the prolific Teklife crew.


As I read this recent interview with DJ Rashad aka Rashad Harden on Pitchfork, I connected deeply with his friendly energy. For someone of such influence and authority to be so kind shows me somethin’..nice guys can finish first.


It’s the same feeling I’ve gotten from my interactions with Machinedrum. After playing alongside him last year, sweatin’ it up at his Leisure System After Hours (w/ Jimmy Edgar, Jets) at Decibel Festival 2013, witnessing his Vapor City live show + the whole package around that album AND hearing his Essential Mix, I’ve developed such a strong connection with the man behind the music, Travis Stewart. Behind all this innovation and energy is a thoughtful and deep person that’s just very passionate about music.


In that same vein, Rashad matches a bright personality with ferocious and diverse productions, that have vastly fostered new sounds and styles into the world. Search on Google for “DJ Rashad Interviews 2013” and you’ll easily find out, this man is a big deal. Tiny Mixtapes eloquently said, “He might not be the most veteran footwork DJ (that would have to be RP Boo) or the most batshit (there are lots of people in the running for that title), but it’s become increasingly clear since TEKLIFE Vol. 1: Welcome To The Chi changed the game that, flanked by his longtime partner-in-crime DJ Spinn, Rashad is among the kings of footwork and juke — as both hometown bastion and ambassador abroad. Welcome To The Chi was a huge landmark for what was until then a more or less underground scene, in one bold stroke defining footwork for a new international audience and pushing it to its breaking point.”


Rashad has recently teamed up with Kode9’s Hyperdub label, and the results have been huuuuge. I can’t say enough positive things about this label. The pairing has encouraged Rashad’s evolution as an artist; showcasing a broad range of sounds, textures and moods. There’s the I Don’t Give A Fuck EP, with energy so high I want to move until I pass out from sheer excitement. His previous Rollin EP, with my personal favorite track, the emotional and freeing “Let It Go”. His newly released 2nd album, Double Cup further demonstrates his variety as a producer. It’s got plenty of soul, with an ultra smooth flow. Equally relaxing and gangsta’ in the best way.


I can’t talk about all this music without mentioning the Teklife crew. DJ Rashad is the chief member of this Chicago based unit, and you’ll notice many of the others in production collaborations. The releases I mentioned above also showcase DJ Spinn, Freshmoon (Tony Mundaca Jr. and Lacey Mundaca), DJ Manny, Taso, DJ Phil and DJ Earl (+ Addison Groove from across the water). There are others such as Traxman (see Teklife Vol.3 The Architek). Click over to their Soundcloud’s and take in this massive collection of vibrant tunes.


It’s such an honor to not only be opening for DJ Spinn for a second time in just a few months, but to be joined by DJ Rashad, who was unable to perform at dB Fest 2013’s Hyperdub Showcase. This kind of thing doesn’t happen very often; it seems the universe demands these two come to Seattle and wake the city up. It’s exciting to note that DJ Spinn is working on his album for Hyperdub as well..


DJ Rashad – Soundcloud Facebook Twitter

DJ Spinn – Facebook Twitter

– Jimi Jaxon



I was feeling a bit drained when I sat down to do research on this Green Velvet (aka Curtis Jones, Cajmere) feature. As I begin searching through his 2009 RA interview and a 2011 interview with Slices – The Electronic Music Magazine, my energy level began to climb. I took in the depth and huge amount of time this man has been putting music out there; driving the influential Chicago House scene, running 2 labels for a long bit and consistently innovating up to this present day. 


As a DJ, I relate to his focus and determination to do his best and create a fun environment for any audience placed in front of him. Music has always been a grounding force for Curtis Jones, as he has seen the highs and lows of the music industry. And he is still strong today, remaining a stable force in the dance music community. So much of what I look for in tunes I play out is that strong rhythm that you can strut to. And Green Velvet has developed quite a strut with his music.


This will be the 4th time Decibel has brought Curtis out to play Seattle, tonight’s show takes place at Q. This is part of Flash Friday’s, which Decibel and Shameless take over once a week. The one time I saw Curtis play, it was under his Cajmere alias for Decibel Festival 2011, and that was one of the best DJ sets I’ve ever heard. He created an equally alien and welcoming environment that I was completely mesmerized by. Grab presale TIX for tonight’s Q show, and share the FB event if you feel so inclined. You’ll see me bouncin’ around the club for sure.


Green Velvet – Facebook Twitter

– Jimi Jaxon

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The discussion about vinyl and its place in the current state of the music business isn’t a new one. There are plenty of ideas and more than a surfeit of information out there regarding the actual and perceived popularity of the medium, whom it is that’s actually buying it and how people consume music today.   

As a product of the so-called millennial generation and as an avid music listener, I’ve found myself having a similar discussion with people over the years that more often than not ends up in this agreeable disagreement about wether or not vinyl is worth anything anymore as a medium. I’m just old enough to remember when independently owned record stores in suburban Phoenix, Arizona were closed down almost by the month, only to be replaced by chain multimedia stores selling CD’s, movies and games. I’m old enough, that the first bits of music I owned were on cassette. I’m young enough though, that while I grew up with four-track recorders and tape machines, I initially learned how to record and edit music on a Mac laptop. As far as digital production goes, I appreciate what it is to be able to program an Endless Rotary Encoder to do whatever you want. I appreciate what the digital world has done to make music more accessible for people, not just to listen to, but to make. Yet, while novels could be written about the transformation of the listener from generation to generation, or why the UK saw a 40% spike in vinyl sales in 2011, there are a few aspects of vinyl’s place in our current culture that have fascinated me over the last couple years.


There are, of course, technical aspects that people talk about. When you put a record on a turntable you’re hearing every bit of what the master mix sounded like at the very end of the production process. Nothing is lost in the translation of copying the actual record over to a new physical medium. In the digital world, as the files get copied and converted in order to take up less space you run into what is called data compression. For music to translate in a relatively small, internet service friendly format – a lot of the sound is actually taken out of what you end up listening to in your car or on your laptop. Every semi-avid computer user will tell you about higher quality audio formats like .wav and FLAC, and those are great options for your digital collection, but they’re still not even remotely commonly used for every day digital releases. Even while Neil Young is on the case to find a way to better the digital format, these days plenty of bands and labels are putting out higher quality, analogue versions of what they also release digitally.

Working in the production process myself, I appreciate the amount of work that goes into crafting the spaces and tones one hears as art. From the standpoint of the person who makes a record, it makes sense to want the listener to absorb every last bit of what you worked so hard to create.

The controversy about mastering techniques that has emerged in recent years, and the steps artists have taken to avoid excessive compression and limiting of their music points to a more concerted approach to achieving a quality end product. For the fact that plenty of the records you might buy today also come with digital download codes, the nostalgia we have about it is almost the only thing that makes vinyl seem anachronistic.

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Services like iTunes and more recently Spotify have created a fantastic venue for nearly endless music listening and discovery. The portability and accessibility of these services has certainly made a lot of music easier to get to, but it also leaves little consideration for where the music came from. There are even new websites like that provide an online community where people can find out more about artists they like, their releases, who put out their music and other places to find them. Boomkat, Juno, Insound and numerous other online retailers sell vinyl releases of new music where you can often find things that have only been distributed in that format.

There is a sense of  locality and community record stores inherently have and almost need in order to survive. There’s something about going to a place to find a copy of a record you’re looking for, or simply exploring to find something new that is absent while clicking around on the internet. Living in Chicago I got to know which shops to go to for specific kinds of things. If I wanted an old Al Green or Supremes record, I’d go to Dusty Grooves – the soul and R&B shop in my neighborhood. If I wanted an old Cure record I’d go to Permanent records who had a great selection of left-of-the-dial rock. If I wanted a new Indie release I’d go to Saki up on Fullerton. One of my favorite places to go for electronic music was Gramaphone. I found everything from old drum and bass singles to brand new promotional releases. At every one of those shops I would end up talking to the people who worked there about new things they got in that week, or what they happened to be listening to at the moment. I also found out where to go see music played, and what venues or bars were good for different kinds of music. Music culture has always depended on people participating, and vinyl carries that spirit in a way CD’s and mp3’s never have.

It’s also, quite simply, nice not depending on something you have to charge, to play or access your music. There are no LED screens on turntables. Maybe that’s not the most modern sensibility, but in today’s age of hyper-consumption and online socializing, there’s something refreshing and personal about a community that values music in that way.



The prolific Brenmar has tracks and features goin’ up left and right. A few tracks of his have found their way into many a dj set of mine, including “Be The One” and his remix of Ashanti’s “Fancy”. Today, he’s gracing Disco Droppings with his sultry R&B aesthetic. We talk about his style and participation in the Red Bull Music Academy 2011. Pick up his Let’s Pretend EP on Hum and Buzz Records as well as his remix of W8WTF on Senseless Records.


DD Hello Brenmar! I’m so hyped to have you on Disco Droppings. How is the hustle treating you today? 

B Good good, just been in the studio all day, about to head back in a bit.


DD Have any hugely established artists contacted you after hearing a Brenmar remix of their track? Ashanti? Rihanna? Jamie Foxx? 

B No one of that caliber yet, people are sleeping! I do have some really cool collabs I’m excited about though.  

DD You were a participant on RBMA 2011.  Was this where you first met Canblaster? He’s a favorite of mine..his track “Chicken Run” cracks me up. 

B I met Canblaster last year at Miami and we had talked online before RBMA for a good bit but it wasn’t until the academy that I got to really know him and work with him. He’s an Ableton wizard, lol.   

DD I am auditioning for RBMA 2012 – I’m interested in what the experience meant to you. How were you challenged by the Academy, and what lectures did you enjoy the most? 

B My favorite lectures were Young Guru, DJ Rashad & DJ Spinn, Tony Andrews and Erykah Badu. The schedule is pretty intense, def. The hardest part is getting up early every morning to attend two lectures, followed by studio time and then late night shows/parties. It adds up, believe me but it’s totally worth it, it’s a great experience.  

DD I want to talk about your fashion/style for a bit. Not only is your music distinct and fresh, I would say the same about your clothes, tattoos, hair, it all works! Have you always been interested in these things? Is it a conscious aesthetic that you focus on? 

B Ha, it’s just me man, it all works cause I’m not forcing anything I guess. Give me some gold, a snapback, and some Jordans and we good.  

DD Do you plan on building a club night in your new city of New York, now that you’ve gained national and international attention? 

B Can’t say I haven’t thought about it. I travel a lot which makes it difficult but we’ll see.

Brenmar: Facebook Soundcloud Twitter

– Jimi Jaxon