DERRICK MAY AZARI&III TELEPHONED A CLUB CALLED RHONDA JUAN ATKINS
STAFF Scion Project Manager: Jeri Yoshizu, Sciontist Editor: Eric Ducker Creative Direction: Scion Art Director: Ryan Di Donato Production Director: Anton Schlesinger Contributing Editor: Julianne Escobedo Shepherd Assistant Editor: Maud Deitch Graphic Designers: Cameron Charles, Kate Merritt CONTRIBUTORS Writer: Jonny Coleman Photographers: Jason Grant Benberry, Nicky Digital, JD Howell, Jenny Mortsell, Alan McFetridge, Brooke Nipar, Rolling Blackouts, Bryan Sheffield
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Scion Magazine is published by malbon Brothers Farms. For more information about mBF, contact firstname.lastname@example.org Company references, advertisements and/or websites listed in this publication are not affiliated with Scion, unless otherwise noted through disclosure. Scion does not warrant these companies and is not liable for their performances or the content on their advertisements and/or websites. © 2011 Scion, a marque of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. All rights reserved. Scion and the Scion logo are trademarks of Toyota Motor Corporation. 00430-ZIN01-DN
SCION A/V SCHEDULE January 2011
Scion House Party, Los Angeles: Kevin Saunderson, Kenny Larkin and Raíz Scion Radio 17 Tour: Drop The Lime, Style of Eye, Franki Chan and Gina Turner
Mon 17th Atlanta Tue 18th
Wed 19th New Orleans
Thu 20th Chicago
also this h mont Scion A/V Remix
Scion A/V Remix
Scion A/V Remix
Scion House Party, Los Angeles: Derrick May and Octave One
Scion Radio 17 Tour: Azari & III, Runaway and Blu Jemz
Mon 14th Atlanta Tue 15th
Wed 16th New Orleans
Thu 17th Chicago
Currently Available Scion A/V Remix
Azari & III
Scion A/V Remix
Scion A/V Remix
CHECK it OUT !
Scion A/V Remix
MUSIC VIDEOS TO WATCH INCLUDE: 12th Planet & Juakali
“Reasons (Doctor P remix)”
Azari & III
“Into the Night”
Steve Aoki & Armand Van Helden
ASK SCION Question: What city’s crowds have most surprised you on the Scion Radio 17 Tours? Answer: I’d say the most surprising and consistent crowd on the Scion Radio 17 Tours has always been Salt Lake City. Those kids show up and dance from open to close every single time, and are so enthusiastic. It’s great. Salt Lake isn’t a town that is normally thought of as having a strong music scene, yet every time they prove that notion incorrect. They seem really open to just about everything. —Franki Chan of IHEARTCOMIX!, who has been on five of the monthly Scion Radio 17 Tours If you have a question, email us through the Contact page on scionav.com
Visit scionav.com for original videos of interviews & performances, exclusive & free music downloads, live event photos, streaming music on Scion Radio 17 & much more
Interview: Julianne Escobedo Shepherd
Photography: JD Howell
Azari & III have only been around for about two years, but they’ve already embedded themselves into the hearts of anyone who’s ever loved a diva vocal or lost it on the dance floor. Songs including “Hungry For The Power,” “Reckless With Your Love” and “Into The Night” (which was featured in a recent installment of the Scion A/V Remix series), have marked this Toronto-based act as some of dance music’s ones to watch. Comprised of Dinamo Azari, Alixander III, Fritz Helder and Starving Yet Full, the quartet’s music is impeccably composed, but as we discovered during a phone call to their studio, their composure might be a byproduct of chaos. You are masters of the super-triumphant dance floor build. How do you do it? Starving Yet Full: We come up with a concept, talk about it, joke about it and try on different outfits. Dinamo Azari: Some of the parts I guess are geared for the dance floor, and some for the heart and soul, and we wanna get both of those in there, not just the dance floor. And you know, we have four of us, so it’s pretty tough when you have four minds going in different directions, fighting for their ideas. We’re all kind of coming to a climax where we’ll agree, and it’s a very, very slow process. Alixander III: It grows to fruition. I think everyone just naturally gives what it takes to make the script come to life. Azari: And you can candy-coat stuff, but it’s also fun to put jagged edges on it. Starving: I think we all kind of embody that as individual artists. Azari: We’re very passionate in our own way and we’re also very similar, and I guess that’s just what brings us together.
Azari & III in their Toronto studio
The sound and ethos of early 1990s dance music is coming back, do you feel a kinship to that era? Azari: We have no objection to dating ourselves. There are people coming from our age group who come from that era who want to do that and did it. III: I think it’s really bad, actually. The ’90s have nothing to do with this. If someone came back and did, like, ’90s shoegaze revival, then I’d be happy. But it’s not that at all. It’s just not the sentiment. We’ve gotten to the age where we definitely don’t shy away from it because we’ve got the technology from back then, and I think that’s probably what people are thinking about, if you want to get specific. The technology is giving people that impression. And you know, 12-bit, 8-bit, whatever, we love old production and we don’t want to just be all digital. In the “Into the Night” video, there’s a shot of you playing a huge rack of synths. Is that the equipment you use? III: Yeah, we have a huge warehouse for our studio with 40-foot ceilings, basically, and we started running out of room, so we just started building up. And the director saw all that and was like, “This has to be in the video.” We have a rock-climbing wall in here. Wait, what? III: Can’t you hear the echo in here? We really have 40-foot ceilings, so we just make art and sculptures and stack them really high. Right now we have gels all over the lights. They’re kind of strobing now. We’re actually walking across the room. Helder: Are you getting a visual? Now we’re in the black light room. III: It’s three feet wide, Amsterdam alleyway-style. Azari: We have a 20-watt generator, too, for when the power goes out. We’re meltdown prepared.
myspace.com/azariandiii Listen to Scion A/V Remix: Azari & III—featuring remixes from Prince Language, Renaissance Man, CFCF, Nicolas Jaar and Troxler, Mesamenos & Jaw—at scionav.com/azariandiii
Watch videos from the Scion A/V Video series at scionav.com/music/scionavvideo
Including 12th Planet & Juakali’s “Reasons (Doctor P Remix)”
SCION HOUSE PARTY AD
PARTY photoGRAPHY TIPS &
nicky digital After the big night out, after the late-night cab ride home and after the big, greasy brunch in the morning, the next stop is Nicky Digital’s website for evidence of what just happened. The ubiquitous party photographer has been a staple of the New York nightlife scene for the past five years. Now he shares some advice for aspiring photographers. And as he says, “Just watch out for the cranberry juice, that stuff will ruin everything.” Assess the Dance Floor Each party has its own vibe, so when you walk in, survey the venue and see where people are hanging out and where people are dancing. When you do this you’ll see what’s making the crowd move, and then you can get between whatever is making the crowd react and the crowd itself and shoot it. Get Off the Wall If people are having fun it’s very easy to get good shots, because they’re vibing and you’re vibing and you just get into the fun. It’s easy to document what’s going on around you rather than being a fly on the wall. I’m definitely a participant. I’ve gotten to a point where if I go to a party and leave my camera at home, I feel like I’m missing something because I’m not participating in the way I’m used to. Foreign Customs Shooting in Europe is always pretty funny. The last time I shot in Helsinki, it reminded me of when I first started shooting parties in New York. People were curious about why this guy was pulling out an expensive-looking camera, but they were also nervous because they had no idea why I was about to take their photo. But in Helsinki and Iceland and in a lot of other places I’ve shot it’s weird because as soon as people hear that you’re from New York, they’re totally game for whatever you have in mind. I mean if somebody came up to me and was like, “This is how we do it in Budapest,” I probably wouldn’t be like, “Okay, awesome,” but New York seems to be a get-out-of-jail-free card. Plan In Advance The best way to prepare yourself is to do some homework ahead of time. For instance, if you’re photographing a band, look at some photos of them to see how they set up their live show and figure out how you want to shoot them. If you know the band has a left-handed guitar player who’s also the frontperson but turns his back a certain way for most of the performance, you want to make sure that you’re not going to get the spot in the photo pit that’s facing his backside. As much as people love photos of people’s backsides, it’s not that interesting after the first one.
As told to Maud Deitch
INTERVIEW: JULIANNE ESCOBEDO SHEPHERD PHOTOGRAPHY: JASON GRANT BENBERRY
Inventor of Detroit techno, in-demand DJ for decades, creator of some of the most elegant dance music ever made—to call Derrick May a legend is an exercise in stating the obvious. Still, Derrick May is a legend. Boom. As Rhythim is Rhythim, he made dance tracks that sounded like they were crafted inside a spaceship while flying above Planet Paradise. Listen to “Strings of Life” or “Kaos” any year this century and they’ll make you think that May visited us from the future. He is also notoriously cantankerous in interviews, but because he’s playing the Scion House Party in Los Angeles in February, we called him on the phone in Detroit anyway. Where have you been lately? All over the place, like always. I did a party in Madrid, a five-day festival. It’s not an actual festival festival, it’s like a club festival where all the clubs are celebrating over the weekend and they have guests who all play the same style of music or the DJs are similar. So I did that, it was a great party. I did the Rex Club in Paris. That was one of our four-turntable nights. Kevin Saunderson was using his laptop and, uh, you know, whatever it’s called...one of those software programs, plus turntables. And I was playing the vinyl, because I’m a super vinyl diehard, and I will not give it up until the day vinyl is taken away because it’s a health hazard. As long as there are vinyl records, I will find them. Are you at the point where your standards for what constitutes a “good party” are really high? I had a point where I was really miserable within the club scene, because what I thought was a good party, a good time on the planet, was when I was a kid growing up. I’d get to party with Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy and Ken Collier. They’d play the clubs in Chicago. And when I was a kid, I used to go to these parties and there was nothing like it. The showing of emotion, the way I could jump up and grab the speaker and sweat and just lose it with a bunch of people I didn’t know, and it was all about the music. Then I became this guy that I am now, doing what I do, so I always set my benchmark at that. And that may have been my biggest mistake. Because I set my benchmark so high, looking for that ultimate euphoria, it’s almost nonexistent. You can’t feel what other people feel. But I can attempt to try to make them understand it in their minds, and hope that by understanding what I’m trying to do, they’ll let their bodies and their souls follow. That’s easier said than done, and that may actually sound philosophical and cold, but the reality is that you have to be very patient to take people on a journey like that. It takes years to get people’s trust. Even though people don’t know it’s about trust, even though they don’t realize it, even though they don’t understand that they’re giving you access to their persona, to the stuff that they only do when they’re in their personal, private moments. It’s like seeing their soul. The individual performing the music has to understand how to do it. It’s not just about having the best records and the greatest equipment and the best sound. It takes a lot more than that. So that’s your secret? You just turned on the light for DJs everywhere. If you’re thinking, This was a great party or This was a s***** party, did you take any steps to reach out to these people? Were you able to reveal yourself so that people could reveal themselves? It’s almost like an adventure. You get some people and they act. Then you get these other people who are not acting, who are looking or searching for someone to make them feel this thing, to make them feel whole again. And then there are other people who just do it for the money. You can move to Berlin and try to make money there, but they’re only gonna accept you as long as they accept you. There’s a timestamp, baby, and when they’re done with you, they’re done. But I feel like your music is inherently emotional and evocative. Do you really think it’s just a matter of putting in the time, or do you have to have some level of emotional acumen? Every performer, every artist, every creative person—painter, illustrator, porno star, whatever they do—you either feel it to be real or you don’t. And it’s not up to me at the end of the day to decide if you feel it. You alone know if somebody’s really giving it up or they’re not. How do you feel about people who emulate your style? Especially right now, there seems to be a resurgence of the sound of classic house and techno that you invented and innovated. You know, there’s only so much you can control. You don’t want to suffocate anything. It’s personal, but you can’t get romantically involved to the point where you’re not willing to share. You can’t get stuck on what you did. You have to keep doing what you do. And if they’re doing it wrong, you have to keep doing it to show them how to do it right. It might sound like a bunch of romantic crap that I’m saying, but it’s true. It just comes down to knowing why you do things. It’s just baloney and bread. It’s simple, so simple. Either it’s right or it’s wrong.
derrickmay.com For more information on Derrick May’s performance at the Scion House Party in Los Angeles, visit scionav.com/music/houseparty
SCION radio 17 event in NEW YORK
Catching DJs who usually pack 5000-person venues play a tiny bar is a total dream, for both dance fans and the DJs themselves. Free from the need to make rowdy crowds rave out, the DJs can play whatever their hearts are feeling at that moment. At least that’s how it went down in November, at the monthly Scion Radio 17 event in New York. Co-headliner Switch seemed juiced to be untethered, kicking off his set with that familiar B-more club remix of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and plopping in some classic Daft Punk before Buraka Som Sistema’s J-Wow put down a full set of electro-kuduro and other shakers from his African diasporic arsenal. Propped up by impeccable house and disco sets from openers Jamie Jones, Blu Jemz and Gina Turner, the White Rabbit on the Lower East Side emitted total living room dance party vibes that evening.
To watch interviews with the performers at the Scion Radio 17 events, go to scionav.com/music/radio17 Photography: Nicky Digital
JAMIE JONES AND SWITCH IN NEW YORK CITY
A CLUB CALLED
Rhonda Interview: Julianne Escobedo Shepherd PHOTOGRAPHY: ROLLING BLACKOUTS
A Club Called Rhonda is one of the best dance nights in the United States, hands down. On every second Saturday of the month at El Cid in Silver Lake, it sticks faithfully to its tagline of “house, disco and polysexual hard partying.” Its purveyors and partygoers are singularly dedicated to setting Los Angeles alight with the kind of feel-good hedonism, impeccably selected DJs, and love, love, love unseen since the glory days of 1980s and 1990s New York City dance clubs like Danceteria, Area and the Limelight. And now they’re branching out, starting with the first release of their record label Rhonda International: “Return to Me” by Delivery and featuring BC, available as part of the Scion A/V Remix series. Party proprietors GODDOLLARS (aka Loren Granic) and Gregory Alexander reveal what makes Rhonda so incredible. What were the origins behind the party? And why is A Club Called Rhonda called A Club Called Rhonda? Gregory Alexander: The party started back in 2008 with Loren, myself and two other former partners. We wanted to make the party we wanted to be at, something grittier than Hollywood, but still with a well-defined musical conscience and in a place that allowed our friends to go as crazy as they wanna be. It was also important that we got the right mix of all our friends from different places, sort of a unification of the subsets of LA. GODDOLLARS: We started it as a group of friends wanting to do something authentic, sincere and impactful. We first threw it together at a strange and beautifully dicey Guatemalan discotheque from the 1980s. It grew around a community of dedicated and certifiably crazy party people and has been growing ever since. As for the name, Rhonda came to us, we didn’t think her up. The house/disco vibe seems reminiscent of early 1990s NYC warehouse parties: anything goes, total good times dance action. Do you feel a kinship to that era? GODDOLLARS: We’ve had DJs spanning almost four decades of human party history come through Rhonda, so I don’t think I can say Rhonda has an allegiance to the ‘90s in particular. There is a lot to learn from that history, and that in turn informs us when we put everything together. Alexander: I would like to say we feel a kinship to that era of parties. We’ve been told that before, it’s very flattering. Even though we aren’t old enough to have been there to experience it, we definitely did our research well before starting the club and wanted to bring a bit of this feeling to it. We were both also raised on a lot of the music from those times and earlier, so it’s kind of in our blood. Everyone in the photos from past Rhondas is unfailingly hot. Is there something about the nature of the party that attracts the beautiful ones or is that just Los Angeles being Los Angeles? Alexander: I’d like to say it’s something about Rhonda that attracts them, but Los Angeles is also a beautiful town. GODDOLLARS: Everyone who walks through Rhonda’s door is giving beauty in one way or another, whether they’re beautifully original or just beautifully beautiful. That beauty attracts beauty, and you get this fantastic positive-feedback loop that feels so good to swim in. To your knowledge, has anyone ever fallen in love at A Club Called Rhonda? GODDOLLARS: Countless times, in and out of love. Often quite publicly. Fast living is high drama. Alexander: I actually just recently had someone tell me that they fell in love at Rhonda. He said he met this boy on the dance floor and they couldn’t stop dancing together all night, and they haven’t separated since. It was kinda nice to hear that, because before I used to hear so many stories of people actually breaking up at Rhonda, or the best is people telling me that they purposely broke up with their boyfriends/girlfriends before coming to Rhonda because there are so many hot people there.
rhondasays.net Rhonda International’s “Return to Me” by Delivery and featuring BC is featured on the recent release, Scion A/V Remix: Rhonda International - Delivery. Download it at scionav.com/rhondainternational
STORY: Maud Deitch In Pomp&Clout’s video for “Babylon” by Congorock, video director Ryan Staake transforms a Northern California forest into a threatening, ghostly realm populated by hooded figures and exotic animals. In dyspeptic shades of yellow, green and black, Staake turns the thumping track into the narration for a ritualistic battle. The unsettling visuals push the song far outside of the context of clubland. Whether it’s for Rusko, Boys Noize or Gucci Vump, each Pomp&Clout video is unique—some use salvaged VHS footage, others are computer generated, some have a more classic cinematic quality. With every one of them, Staake aspires to push music video format to a place where it hasn't gone, sometimes to a technologically literal level, like his recent project for “Home” by The Suzan that is also a kaleidoscopic interactive app. Pomp&Clout started as a way to promote a Providence, Rhode Island dance party called Lovelife. It was meant to be one of those things kids do in college and then move on from. Back then Pomp&Clout included both Staake and Aaron Vinton, but then Vinton switched schools and Staake went off to work for Apple as an iPhone interface developer. Their video project fell largely dormant until Diplo called Staake asking him to create tour visuals for his then brand-new project Major Lazer. “This was around the time that I was ready to get out of Apple, and I used it as an escape plan from corporate life,” Staake says. Since then Pomp&Clout has become largely Staake’s endeavor, although he and Vinton remain friends and still collaborate occasionally, like on a video for Zoos of Berlin’s “Electrical Way” that transforms footage shot in New Orleans into an animated, pop-art inspired romp. Staake is comfortable making music in the dance music world, he says, not only because he is a fan, but because of the nature of the songs themselves. “It’s not too lyrically driven, so you can have some leeway in terms of how you’re interpreting the tracks,” he says. Because that way, everything is possible.
pompandclout.com To watch the videos Pomp&Clout created for the Scion A/V Video series—including Congorock’s “Babylon” and Gucci Vump’s “Shashtilism”—visit scionav.com/music/scionavvideo
THE ESSENT I AL & UNDERRATED
JUAN ATKINS I f yo u l o v e t e c h n o , J u a n At k i n s i s yo u r d e i t y. T h e c o - c r e ato r o f t h e D e t r o i t s o u n d h a s b e e n m a k i n g g r o u n d b r e a k i n g da n c e m u s i c f o r n e a r ly t h r e e d e c a d e s , to u c h i n g t h e b r a i n s o f p r o d u c e r s w h o h av e n ’ t e v e n b e e n b o r n y e t. I n J a n u a r y, S c i o n A / V w i l l r e l e a s e t h e
(THE ESSENTIAL) Cybotron, “Clear” (Fantasy Record, 1983) Atkins’ group with Rick Davis picked up on the plucky new synth sounds developing in the early ’80s—they made their antigravity funk on baby-stage Korgs and Rolands—but the future it portended was one of slick plutonium and fiberoptics. The low-pitched space bass of “Clear” was directly descended from Bambaataa’s Kraftwerk interpretations, but the counter melody had a robotic paranoia that mirrored ’80s Detroit and poured the concrete for techno. Not just classic Atkins, this is possibly one of the greatest (and most sampled) electro songs ever made. Model 500, “Night Drive” (Metroplex, 1985) Listen to enough Juan Atkins and you’ll be convinced this man possesses the gift of precognition. Exhibit A: “Night Drive,” and its sister rhythm “No UFOs” predict Miami bass, acid house and maybe UK garage. It also features no fewer than five interlocking rhythm patterns. Never content to let a song go on one gag, Atkins wove in strobe light pulses and the Speak & Spell voice making eerie announcements, like a paranormal train conductor. Juan, “Techno Music” (10 Records, 1988) The same year he coined the term “techno,” Atkins released this single of clicky staccato bells and whistles, bumped up with a sub-line that sounded as close as you can get to synth slap-bass. This was something like his exegesis, a song in which he refined his conception of the idea of techno. To christen the affair, he had our old friend Speak & Spell drive the point home in its emotionless, vocodered voice: techno music, tech-tech-tech-techno, techno music. Model 500, “Ocean to Ocean” (Transmat Records, 1990) Atkins’ longevity has been partly predicated on his ability to evolve. Fitting for the subconscious-exploration climate of the super-groovy early ’90s, this deft-butserene number has him turning down the funk knob to explore something more explicitly soulful, including a quiet storm mewled interlude about prophecies and mental freedom. And as techno’s keeper, maybe Atkins’ influence is why the genre evolves so frequently, too. He always showed that the foundation is solid, but the architecture is malleable. Model 500, “Huesca,” (R & S Records, 2010) In 2010, Model 500 (formerly a solo project for Atkins) folded in three members from techno legends Underground Existence, and for his first release in 11 years they brought it back to the nuts and bolts of techno. In this case, that means a solid, four-on-the-floor rhythm, with silicon chip synths chirping above, along with a majestic string section that beautifully melds the aesthetic with the functional. Though “Huesca” sounds completely modern, switch it out with one of Atkins’ tracks from the ’80s and you wouldn’t be able to tell which was crafted when.
S to r y: J u l i a n n e E s c o b e d o S h e p h e r d
S c i o n A / V R e m i x : J u a n At k i n s EP, a c o l l e c t i o n o f n e w r e m i x e s a n d p r e v i o u s ly u n r e l e a s e d m at e r i a l . To p r e p yo u r h e a d, h e r e ’ s a p r i m e r o n At k i n s ’ b e s t- k n o w n t r ac k s , a s w e l l a s s o m e l e s s e r - k n o w n j a m s f r o m h i s c ata l o g t h at a r e w o r t h i n v e s t i g at i n g .
(THE UNDERRATED) Model 500 Testing 1-2 (Metroplex Records, 1986) In the shadow of its psychic brethren “No UFOs,” which dropped the same year and mesmerized everyone with its minimal cowbell aspirations, this track is unfairly ignored, but it might go even harder. It’s got a similarly high-strung, brow-furrowed bassline, but its tone is even more brolic, as though the voice uttering, Testing 1-2, is psyching itself up for a dance floor fight or a robot revolution. And while understatement is compelling, there’s also a lot to be said for piling on the toms and letting a little chaos reign. Model 500, “Off to Battle” (Metroplex Records, 1987) Forever a B-side relegate—first to Derrick May’s genre/life-defining “Strings of Life,” then to Atkins’ own “Sound of Stereo”—this track is notable for its determinedness. A little outside the lines of the other dance floor smashers Atkins was making at the time, “Off to Battle” harnessed the ghost in the machine, leaning literally spooky with synth lines that bubble up and float away. Atkins once again stacks up drum patterns until they sound like they’re about to topple, a totally genius bit of experimentation, but there’s no hint of aggression or ominousness here, just pure love for funk. Model 500, “Infoworld” (Transmat Records, 1990) If Atkins’ man vs. machine steez has been consistently prescient, he outdid Miss Cleo on this one. With a minimal chirp on an unassuming bassline, it’s like he sampled the modem-connection sounds from the future, predicting the bits, bytes and binary that would eventually run our lives. It was a B-side to the more popular “Ocean to Ocean” and didn’t have the same impact as that game-changer, but it’s a beautiful tune and almost stands alone as some kind of audio art project. Also, it was minimal techno before minimal techno became minimal techno. But better. 3MB f. Magic Juan Atkins, “Jazz is the Teacher” (Metroplex Records, 1993) A collaboration between Atkins and Berlin techno godheads Thomas Fehlmann and Moritz von Oswald, Atkins’ work really shines in the starkly elegant sensory-deprivation chamber of a beat. Even compressed to fit the feel of the track, his signature scattered bassline gives it melody and focus, plus it forged a true bridge between Detroit’s industrialist funk and the clean-lined efficiency of German techno. Atkins’ collaborations with his friends and co-innovators Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson rightly get plenty of shine, but this is a whirling milestone of a track that doesn’t get as much recognition as it should because there are no climactic moments. It’s just a study in awesome, super thoughtful composition. Model 500, “Starlight” (Metroplex Records, 1995) Atkins exercises plenty of patience on this meditative track, letting a quiet, muted beat ride it out solo for a good two and a half minutes before he gingerly sprinkles in some “soundscape”-style sounds like cautious stardust. Definitely a planetarium, the-wonders-of-outer-space type of song, but “Starlight” again exhibits his versatility and eagerness to explore within the genre. It’s one of the prettiest songs he’s ever made.
myspace.com/juanatkins Download Scion A/V Remix: Juan Atkins at scionav.com/juanatkins
new o r l e a n s scene re p o r t
Over the past year, DJ partners Dan Helfers and Max Braun have run point on New Orleans' new dance music massive, acting as co-proprietors for the house, disco and electro party/ label Electronic Takeover. “Scenes have to converge, that’s the beauty of music down here,” explains Braun. “We don't have a hundred DJs or indie rock bands or venues. But we have a lot of unique people. It's the advantage of our disadvantage: we make do with what we've got.” Helfers and Braun gave us a point-by-point rundown on the crucial parties, places and players of underground New Orleans.
DJ Soul Sister At Mimi’s In The Mariginy DJ Soul Sister’s been spinning all-vinyl disco, funk and soul sets down here for something like 15 years. She does Fridays and Saturdays. It’s just awesome and the crowd’s amazing. This is what our party strives to pay homage to. Soul Sister’s also got a show on the radio station WWOZ. There aren’t many great stations specifically for dance music, everything being such a great mix down here, but WWOZ is a community that’s respected internationally for being the center for traditional, New Orleans-style music.—Dan Helfers WTUL Tulane University’s station WTUL has given us a lot of support. They give us a full two hours to spin before our events. The one thing they always ask you in college around here is, “Are you gonna stay and work in New Orleans?” Right now, there are so many younger kids around who go to Tulane or whatever, who are on the cutting edge and come out to dance parties. Dan and I are only 24, but we’re still older than most of the people who come out to our parties. But they get into it.—Max Braun The Saint It’s a bar, but they have different DJs every night. Some nights they’ll have dance parties, and they do a dark disco night twice a month, which is awesome and usually gets a great turnout. They get a ton of out-of-town DJs to spin there, too. Jac Currie is the guy who owns it, he bought it from the chick from White Zombie. She’s about to drop a book.—Dan Helfers Quintron Quintron has a venue in the basement of his house and he’s been doing shows there since the early 2000s, since before the storm. It’s a super strange place at the bottom of the Ninth Ward, surrounded by ticker tape, and you have to enter through a secret back garden. It’s mostly an electronic/dance music focus, but sometimes it’ll be a hardcore band, Quintron and another DJ. That’s the idea behind some of this resurgence: nobody goes to one show and goes home before another. We’ve done shows at venues where our party’s upstairs and a hardcore band’s playing downstairs, and people will just go back and forth.—Max Braun
electronictakeover.com To find out what DJs are coming to New Orleans during the monthly Scion Radio 17 tour, visit scionav.com/music/radio17
INTRODUCING…TELEPHONED Story: Julianne Escobedo Shepherd PHOTOGRAPHY: BROOKE NIPAR
Telephoned in New York City After two years and two mixtapes, Sammy Bananas and Maggie Horn’s dance project Telephoned has mutated from a low-concept kids’ game into a high-concept cover band. Influenced by the evolution of mash-ups and mixtape culture, they reinterpret their favorite radio hits—Horn on hooks, Bananas on beats—and have unleashed a repertoire that includes a strangely melancholy dubstep take on Souljah Boy, a bottle-service electro approach to “Pop Champagne” and a wild raver version of Rihanna’s lascivious “Rude Boy.” These bubblegummy re-dos are rooted in the duo’s love for pop music, dance floors and DJs, and their music has predicted the Top 40’s embrace of club music, like RiRi doing dubstep, Kanye going Ibiza, Nicki Minaj fiddling with drum & bass, etc. Despite the nature of their previous output, the Fool’s Gold-signed duo have never considered themselves exclusively a cover band. “I always thought that we’ve been making brand new music, whether putting two different parts together or making a new beat,” says Bananas. “It’s almost equal to what we’d do if we were to write an original, but that’s not how it’s perceived. That’s the question when you take two things that already exist and put them together: Is it actually something different?” So, after futzing around with some of the biggest hits in recent history, Telephoned has started writing originals, beginning with “Hold Me,” a sparkly love song tinged with the sound of UK funky. They don’t see their new direction as a complete revamp of their prior moves, particularly since the 7-inch they’re releasing through Scion A/V brilliantly includes a countrified cover of their own recording. Still, stepping in this direction was nerve-racking for the duo at first. “Maggie definitely had to dare me to do it,” says Bananas. “I think we just realized we can come up with our own music in the same way we’ve been covering others. We just have to trust that the hook we came up with was good.” The new music puts their past into perspective. Their covers were never close to straight-up reproductions. They banked on the info-society idea that nothing has to remain pure. But then again, maybe it never was pure to begin with. Pop music has always built on itself—as Bananas points out, Prince’s “Cream” is nearly identical to T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong,” and reinterpreting your idols is maybe pop music’s only consistent thread. “It’s a standard way of writing pop music,” says Horn. “It’s kind of funny that we ended up getting to this place and we’re just doing the same things that a lot of people do.” True to form, all future Telephoned originals will be accompanied by Telephoned cover versions, continuously adding on to their house of mirrors. Because who better to warp your band than your own band? Telephoned is just eliminating the middle man.
Hear both versions of Telephoned’s “Call Me” at scionav.com/telephoned
TROUBLE BASS TROUBLEANDBASS.COM
As the production duo RUNAWAY, Marcos Cabral and Jacques Renault have been part of the latest wave of disco and house renaissance. But while most of their contemporaries have focused on re-creating classic Philly string sections or Chicago drum machines, few have revisited the dance floor power of a properly placed freestyle jam. (If you don’t like the tag “freestyle,” Cabral offers “1980s Latin electronic dance music” instead.)
PHOTOGRAPHY: JENNY MORTSEL
“During the ’80s in NYC, [freestyle] was unavoidable: clubs, bars, concerts, cars driving by with booming systems,” says Cabral. “We know a lot of current DJs that will say they like freestyle, but that’s as far as it goes. Of course, if you didn’t live in New York during that time period, it’s easy to be scared of something you can’t relate to.” RUNAWAY, however, seem unconcerned with the potentially corndog perception of the sound, as they know the right freestyle track can provoke a more immediate crowd reaction than a heady, esoteric leftfield dance cut.
Recently, Cabral and Renault decided to start their own imprint, On the Prowl, to release freestyle-inspired tracks by themselves and others artists, like Corinne. On the Prowl’s name implies a feline in motion, a nocturnal creeper, something feral and elegant, or even elusive. In other ONTHEPROWLRECORDS.COM words, the music is meant to serve as a soundtrack for the creatures of long New York nights. OTP’s releases are all clubtailored for late-night parties and are often hard to get your hands on (many vinyl runs are limited to 400 copies).
Along with running the label, Cabral and Renault are in demand as remixers (both together and individually), DJs and creators of original productions and edits. If that’s not enough, they have set up the sub-label On the Prowl Party Breaks, whose inaugural release, “Lifetime Groove” is their staggering, blissed-out 12-minute edit of New Edition’s “Once in a Lifetime Groove.” As with their embrace of freestyle, Cabral and Renault’s use of New Edition is earnest, not tongue-in-cheek, indicative of a commitment to dance music that works whether it comes from above ground or below.
On the Prowl’s artist Corinne’s freestyle track “Dream a Little Dream” is featured on the recent release Scion A/V Remix: Corinne. Along with the original version, the EP features remixes by Mugwump, RUNAWAY, Midnight Magic and Harkin & Raney. Download it at scionav.com/corinne
The Dirtbombs in New York City
THE DIRTBOMBS Photography: Bryan Sheffield
Though Mick Collins is primarily known as the leader of the Dirtbombs and a founding member of the Gories, this champion of garage rock has also been fan of and occasional participant in Detroit’s techno community since its beginning in the early ’80s. On the recently released Party Store album, the Dirtbombs recorded covers of classic techno songs, including Cybotron’s “Cosmic Cars,” Derrick May’s “Strings of Life” and A Number of Names’ “Sharevari” using live instrumentation. Here, Collins discusses the connections between garage rock and techno, and making them work together. Garage rock and techno music have always been one thing to me, and it’s like that even in the larger Detroit scene. The techno guys would go see rock shows, and at least a few of the garage folks and I would go see techno. I went to see Rolando every chance I got, DJ T-1000 used to come see the Gories play and Carl Craig likes the Dirtbombs quite a bit. There was never any real separation there. In the larger world, there does seem to be huge separation between the two, but really the only group of musicians that tend to not go to other types of shows in Detroit would be the hip-hop guys. You see country guys and reggae guys and punk guys at everybody else’s shows. It’s all Detroit music. Doing Party Store was a spur of the moment idea that I had: Release a single a month over the summer, just to have something out for people to buy and know that we’re still alive and kicking. They would be covers of techno songs. One would come out in June, one would come out in July and one would come out in August. I have to admit, it was really a half-formed idea. All the songs were recorded live. There were no edits. I could very well have played a chunk of it, or had one of the musicians play a chunk of it, and loop it, but I thought it would be much more interesting to see if we could make it through the entire song, or come up with an arrangement that was different enough but still worked as a live recording. It got to be extremely repetitive. “Strings of Life” and “Jaguar,” they were extremely repetitive, because in the originals they’re just synth loops that come in and out. Trying to do that as a live act was very nearly impossible. I have a short attention span, so it’s difficult for an album to really hold my attention for an hour. I get bored. The best albums are usually singles comps anyway, or the greatest hits comps. Those are the most interesting songs, and they put them all together. And even with those, I’m usually gone after 40 minutes. So all of the Dirtbombs LPs have been a challenge in some way to hold my attention. I’m one of those weirdos where as soon as the album is done, I’m on to the next project already. All the albums are exercises. In general singles for me are much more immediate, but I don’t really have a problem with the concept album because you can do a concept album made up of two-minute pop songs. So to an extent, every Dirtbombs record is a concept album. They can be pretty tenuous or nebulous, but there’s always something there.
As told to Eric Ducker
Listen to Scion A/V Remix: The Dirtbombs—featuring songs from Party Store remixed by Detroit techno artists Omar S, Ectomorph and Kyle Hall —at scionav.com/thedirtbombs Party Store by The Dirtbombs is available on In The Red Records. thedirtbombs.net
Radio 17 TOP PICKS: LARRY TEE
Photography: Alan McFetridge Last year, notorious dance music impresario and Scion Radio 17 host Larry Tee lifted himself out of the New York party scene to create a new night in London called Shabba Dabba Da. “It's the craziest crowd and a combination of all the crazy stuff of London—it’s all artists, DJs, designers, the most outrageous people around,“ he says. Since birthing Shabba Dabba Da, Tee has maintained a relentless touring schedule, completed another album for 2011 and started a wild fanzine called Carnage that celebrates the type of people his night draws. Here are some of the artists that will be soundtracking his year. Drop the Lime There’s a video for “Hot As Hell” that I really love, it’s kind of a rockabilly thing. I’ve been watching that quite a bit. I saw it in a record company office. It’s really good. Really sexy. Charli XCX She’s a new artist. She did a show at Shabba Dabba Da and she was just so performative and really original. I really appreciated that it wasn’t just another rip-off and she didn’t sound like she was trying to be anybody else. Femme en Fourrure I really like tech house, electro house and instrumental things, and Femme en Fourrure are radical. They’re from Finland, and it’s one of those things that’s kind of Dada. The things I’m liking now are really surreal, and this one’s great because it’s like a Salvador Dalí painting dripping on you. Johnte That’s Beyoncé’s video choreographer. You know that part where she drops to the floor in the “Single Ladies” video? Johnte’s responsible for that. He’s like, Whaaat. He’s recording his album now, but I’m a huge fan already. These New Puritans They’ve been around for a little while, but they’re gonna go electronic and they’re gonna blow everybody away. I Am Noxious When it comes down to it, once I'm out of the club, I don't want to listen to dance music. I like beautiful stuff. I Am Noxious did this really sensitive version of “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas that will make you want to cry. Cass McCombs He does this song called “You Saved My Life.” It’s another one of those songs where you hear it and you go, Oh my god, that’s why life is so precious. It’ll make you shiver. Watch the video. If it doesn’t make you shiver, or if it doesn’t move you, then you’re dead. There’s nothing else to say.
myspace.com/nylarrytee Listen to Larry Tee’s monthly Scion Radio 17 show, Super Disco Party Machine, for the newest in trans-global dance music and special guest DJ sets at scionav.com/music/radio17
Big Up Magazine
The web component of one of the few remaining printed independent music quarterlies, bigupmagazine.com covers underground dance music, contemporary art and street culture with daily digital dispatches.
discobelle.net Run by a group of Swedish electronic music fans with impeccable taste, discobelle. net has established itself as an essential destination for discovering the latest in international dance music. In 2010, they started their own label, Discobelle Records, and have already released singles from artists including Jamtech Foundation and Brenmar.
palmsout.net Palms Out Sound
Dedicated to discovering the best from unknown and bubbling subgenres, palmsout.net gathers the best mp3s and mixes flying around the internet. The semi-regular Remix Sunday feature is an undeniable resource for finding the next names you need to know.
xlr8r.com As the web companion of the respected music publication XLR8R, xlr8r.com features exclusive mp3 downloads, articles and their expertly curated podcast series thatâ€™s featured contributions from artists including Oro11 and Toddla T.
Ikonika & 12th Planet at Scion House Party at The Roxy, LA
Guests at the ZPFfffft! exhibition at Scion Installation LA
Artist Gary Panter and guest Matt Groening at the ZPFfffft! exhibition at Scion Installation LA
Juan Atkins & Omar S at Scion House Party at The Roxy, LA
Kyle Hall and Carl Craig at Scion House Party at The Roxy, LA
Artist Devin Flynn at the ZPFfffft! exhibition at Scion Installation LA
Underground Resistance at Scion House Party at The Roxy, LA
ABOUT TOWN Blu Jemz at Radio 17 Tour, Cleveland
Artist Gustavo Gagliardo aka DEFI at the NOVA Artscapes exhibition at Scion Installation LA
Artist Bob Zoell at the ZPFfffft! exhibition at Scion Installation LA
Douster at Scion Radio 17 Tour, Salt Lake City
Dre at Scion House Party at The Roxy, LA
Artist Tofer Chin at the NOVA Artscapes exhibition at Scion Installation LA
Scionâ€™s commitment to artistic expression provides a platform for passionate ARTISTs to focus on developing their art and exploring the endless possibilities. To learn about current and past projects from Scion Audio/Visual (SA/V), please visit scionav.com.