Archives for posts with tag: Tremel

dBx

It’s about time David Kwan is recognized for all his artistic work, and I’m happy to facilitate this. He is a close friend and one of the hardest working people I know. Learn about his efforts for Decibel as a graphic designer and VJ. You can catch him doing visuals live tonight at my Vermillion show. This event has been put together by Tremel; DJ, producer and writer for Disco Droppings and features performances from himself, dod, Max Taylor and me. Hope to see you there. 

DD What drives your graphic design role in Decibel? Are there major themes or concepts being focused on in 2013, for the 10-year anniversary?

DK This year’s creative drive captures the essence of Decibel. Each year of the festival is like a layer of ideas that builds upon one another. The approach was to capture all those ideas from the early beginnings and refine those sets of ideas. In the process I reviewed the profiles of past dB artists, listened to samples of their music, and went through tons of old photographs, down to observing the personalities of the staff. I wanted the 10-year brand to be about Decibel’s community and culture, not just what looks cool. What I discovered was an array of dark tones, which made sense being that the root of Decibel began from the deep underground–no pun intended. 

There was an untitled quote I read one morning on Facebook which said, “You can’t live a positive life without a negative mind,” which made me reflect a little further about this year’s theme. That quote rang true for Decibel and a lot of other things the more I thought about it. In a nutshell, you can’t have yin without yang, and you can’t discredit either. Historically, Decibel has hosted many stark and obscure events, which is what I wanted to extract and condense for this year’s theme. In doing so, participants will be able to witness and experience Decibel for what it really is, and be able to better appreciate it. The night might not be as bright as the day, but it sure as hell is sexy.

DD What led you to become a VJ, and what role do see visual artists playing in a show environment?

DK The funny thing is that I didn’t intend to become a VJ after I was done with college. Being a graphic designer is my full time job, but one of the tools I use to conceptualize new ideas stems from motion graphics. It’s important to understand the different fields of art to help enhance what you do as an artist. Knowing art is good, but it’s not enough to help you evolve creatively. Similar to being a plant biologist, if all you do is focus on plants, you might be missing key knowledge from other fields that may help you discover something groundbreaking. In the end it’s all about holistic thinking; that’s how I stumbled upon becoming a VJ. 

The VJ arena is still very much in its infancy and growing rapidly. It’s sort of overshadowing an era of expensive physical stage production and moving more towards affordable virtual reality as technology advances. That’s not to say building heavy stage sets will become obsolete, but it does mean that stage production is shifting towards a new paradigm. There is a time and place for physical stage sets — plays in theater, for example– but it’s not very practical when you’re talking about a low budget music show. The nice thing about having a VJ during performances, is that it grants stimulating visual access for musicians and their audience, which in the past might not have been possible. In many ways, VJ’s helps the musicians tell their story a little better while helping their audience understand their music a little more. A special dynamic occurs when you combine music, visuals, and a lot of serotonin resonating from the audience.

TobinAmon Tobin, ISAM / Visuals by LEVIATHAN

DD This will be our third time collaborating on a performance. How would you describe the direction of the visuals this time around?

DK This time around we’ll be entering a dystopian science fiction environment, where I’ll be taking everyone though space, then back to Earth and beyond. I don’t really want to spill the beans for anyone, but the goal is to follow the theme of the music set. With that said, your fans could probably imagine the journey I might take them on. Did someone say neo-noir genre? Yep, there’s going to be a lot of that in the visual set. I’m pretty excited to roll out some new eye candy.

943021_4900462314343_1993084720_nJimi Jaxon + David Kwan @ Bok Bok Showcase via Kyle Young aka Tremel

DD Your work as a graphic designer and VJ puts you in the background, where audiences may not see whose behind it all. Do you enjoy this perspective? 

DK “Lord of Light! Come to us in our darkness …'” sorry I couldn’t resist throwing in that “Game of Thrones” reference. I actually enjoy working in the shadows, it gives me the opportunity to focus on my craft behind the computer or behind the stage without a lot of distraction. Sure, it’s not the same as getting full attention from the audience, but I am touched when I see sparkling pupils of joy emanating from the crowd. Especially when I hit the soft strobe or fade in a scene of slow crashing waves headed straight towards the audience. If they’re happy, then I’m happy too.

dakwanDavid Kwan @ Andy Stott Showcase w/ Kid Smpl via Mollie Bryan

DD Where do you hope all this effort takes you in the future? 

DK I’m not really sure, but since I am in the business of creating virtual realities I guess I can go anywhere. :]

dakwan3David Kwan w/ Giraffage

– Jimi Jaxon

 

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Zomby200213

It’s difficult to not get excited, or at the very least intrigued when Zomby appears with new music. While being mostly a recluse in 2012, he did put out a sparse couple of tracks, including the much discussed “Devils and a characteristically dark untitled track used for French design house En Noir’s presentation of their Fall/Winter 2013 collection.

With a new 4AD album on the way, rumors of an EP and collaborations abound over the last few months, his announcement today via his Twitter account comes as his first official release in some time. The tweet simply reads  w-i-t-h-l-o-v-e.com.

 

This track is eerie and spacious. The fidelity of the synth pads and syncopation of the distant toms alludes to something just out of reach. In many ways this seems to foreshadow his forthcoming long player (It could be the introduction or an interlude), said to be out summer of 2013. We will just have to wait and see. 

Zomby – Facebook Twitter

– Tremel 

thom yorke dazed

I want to start by commending Dazed and Confused on their February issue. I hold this magazine up as my personal favorite, and once again they deliver the goods, this time with an in-depth look at Thom Yorke’s newest ventures. Thom is on the cover for his Atoms for Peace project, which will release it’s debut album entitled Amok on February 25th. An interview wasn’t enough for the Dazed crew; they posted a 25-minute mix of unreleased solo material and remixes, a Uni of Yorke digital feature, which has 14 producers asking Thom a question each (Actress, Machinedrum, Flying Lotus, Pearson Sound +). In addition, there is an Atoms For Peace competition to create cover art accompanying that 25-minute mix, with the chance to win a Thom Yorke signed copy of Amok. This magazine goes above and beyond expectations to present an immersive and collaborative experience with one of the world’s most distinct artists.

 

For the remainder of this Disco Droppings feature, I will hand the controls over to Tremel, who first pitched the idea of discussing Thom Yorke as a DJ.

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Ever since Kid A was released back in October of 2000, people have been fascinated with Thom Yorke’s affection for electronic music. His influence has burgeoned further since then, into a vast modern tapestry of all shades and colors. We’ve all known for some time that Thom dabbles in DJ’ing (reference any of Radiohead webcasts and you’ll see him plopping records down on his techs). But it’s only in the last year or so that he’s become more active, crafting DJ mixes for radio (BBC 6 mix, XFM), underground parties (Boiler Room Radiohead takeover, the “surprise” Low End Theory set) and even a party for Occupy London (with Massive Attack’s Robert “3D” Del Naja). The selection of artists for the King of Limbs Remixes releases indicated a finger on the pulse of the electronic community, that has to be related to Mr. Yorke’s recent activity. The Internet is a surfeit of Radiohead and Thom Yorke fanboy-isms. For me, it is the thoughts I’m left with after hearing him DJ, not what made my feet move that interests me most.

 

Listening to his DJ mixes, I find myself wondering how much time he spends searching through music. You can hear how many different things grab his ears, his attention. How listening, for him, might be a meditative process through sound and texture. How transcendence seems to take priority over escapism. He seems to strive to hear things from the crux of intellectual and emotional reaction in order to trigger inspiration. You can almost hear the painter in him – the very techniques DJ’s use to make floors move become more like brush strokes for Thom. He stitches soundscapes together like pictures or lost memories, with so many of his own scraps of ideas finding their way into the mix.

It seems as deliberate as it is accidental, that the lines become blurred about what is strictly dance music.

For Thom, mixing tunes seems like another medium to explore ideas. For us, it’s a unique adventure into someone’s creative space. It’s an interesting way to walk the fuzzy lines between different perspectives about music, all the while in search of exactly that – Perspective. –

– Jimi Jaxon & Tremel 

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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 Discogs.com 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.

Tremel  

 

hotflush

Recently I got an email from a future friend. He said he was DJ/musician who just moved to Seattle from Chicago, and that he was getting into the electronic community here. He saw my recent shows with Warp Records and Mount Kimbie, and I was happy to set up some time for us to meet face to face. In some later email exchanges, I connected with his writing style on music he loves. I asked him to send me a paragraph on something to do with music, and that maybe I would bring him onto Disco Droppings as a guest writer. This will be the first time I’ve opened up my blog to another person, so please give Tremel a warm welcome. Now I will step aside, Tremel, the floor is yours.. 

TREMEL Hotflush Recordings is a London based record label founded and still run by British electronic artist Scuba, real name Paul Rose. There are more than a handful of relevant labels releasing music these days, especially in electronic music, defining and redefining the essence and importance of what it is to be a label, but something particular recently came full circle for me with them.

 

 

A few years ago, as dubstep was just starting to make it all the way out here to the west coast of the U.S, Scuba was one of the first producers to initially get my attention. This was as I was really starting to gravitate not just to electronic music, which I’d always been interested in, but what was for me the revelation of club music. I was amazed that someone could string two records together and make it sound completely effortless. And that people still did it with vinyl! It was a while before I could even get into club nights that I realized the gravitas of the UK scene, and just how little of that was going on here in the states. But I have this very specific memory of first finding a record store that specialized in electronic music. I picked up a copy of TRG and Dub U’s Losing Marbles and wondered about this label- Hotflush- and how far away this record had come from. Venturing into all the different genres and categories, I was mystified at the things I found with obscure London addresses and “Made in the UK” printed on their packaging.  A few years and a couple cities later, filled with countless hours spent crate digging and actually learning how to play vinyl, I made it out to Decibel Festival 2012. Of the amazing shows and DJ sets I got to be a part of – the Hotflush showcase featuring Braille, George Fitzgerald and Sepalcure encapsulated everything I had experienced at the festival. The vibes and the music, the people, the visual art and the venue all left the resonating feeling that I’d found the right place to call home – Seattle. –

 

 

 

Tremel – Soundcloud 

Hotflush Recordings – Facebook Soundcloud