In some ways, the sound of John Howes, who makes music simply under his surname Howes, is a fair reflection of Manchester where he resides having moved there from Newcastle for university. It’s pretty much always overcast or raining, but within its sodden, post-Industrial shell lies a heartbeat of culture and a city bound by its love of music. When we managed to catch Howes perform his analogue live show at the Eagle Inn in Salford a few months back, a red brick pub which sits oddly beside a modern day industrial estate, our interest was piqued. His music, while unquestionably in the realms of drone and ambient, has flickers of techno and club music throughout. With his fantastic LP 3.5 Degrees coming out on Melodic Records on 15th January, we decided to have a chat to John to see how the record came about and he kindly sent us over ‘Zeroset’, one of the record’s choice cuts.
Tell me about your musical background/influences. “When I was about 12 or 13 my sister would bring back CDs from uni, and she played this Bugged Out! Classics compilation in the car and it was just full of total weapons of the time. That one compilation kicked off so many different strands of stuff. There’s some really cheesy tracks on it looking back but it had “The Sky Was Pink (Holden Remix)” and that was my favourite track for about 10 years. When you’re a kid you listen to some shit hand-me-down music, but I was pretty lucky that mine was quite good. That led me to all sorts and by the time I was 14 or so I guess I started to form my own taste. By 15 or 16 I was rinsing albums every day and digging through Discogs and linking up artists, labels and discovering loads.”
So how did you get towards where you are now, with the more ambient side of things? “[William Basinki’s] Disintegration Loops was one of the big ones I caught onto then and that lead me onto Kranky and Tim Hecker and you hear those kinds of sounds creeping into club music. By the time I was 18 and I was going out a bit and it all sort of fell into place. Being in Manchester at that time was pretty good because you’d go to Joshua Brooks and you’d have Joy Orbison and Objekt play within two weeks of each other. I was aware of Ostgut Ton but I just listened to stuff like Shed’s albums at home. Then I went to their night in Store Street at the Warehouse Project and that was the first time I’d really heard that stuff in a club. Hearing that made me start making house/techno and I started to DJ occasionally which lead to the making of the tracks on the first 12″ for Melodic. I’d go to these great nights then you’d go home and listen to really weird stuff with your mates. One of my favourite records from that time is [An Electric Storm LP] White Noise. I found myself getting more interested in the more experimental stuff rather than straight up club tracks just from listening to those weirder records after going out.”
Let’s talk about your forthcoming LP 3.5 Degrees. How did these influences lead you to that? “After the first 12″ I was getting contacted by labels saying that if I made a really good club record they’d put it out. So I spent ages trying to make this perfect record but I just couldn’t do it and I began to get really frustrated. I’d lost interest in most club music by then and took a lot more pleasure in just making stuff to listen to at home. A lot of the tracks on the LP are just a result of me coming home from work on a Friday night being really, really stressed out and to chill out I’d just make modular patches. I’d start patching something on Friday, switch if off and go to bed and start working again on it on Saturday morning and see it through the end of the day and by the end of the weekend I’d have this one big idea for a track. Then because I was so familiar with the patch on Sunday night I’d record five minutes exploring it and then 6 of the 8 tracks on the record are just those recordings. They weren’t made with the intention of making an album or anything, it was just made to chill out and get away from everything you know? There’s so many moments where everything links up and I’d just leave it playing and enjoy listening for a bit. It’s just a completely different process from trying to make a really good club record. You’re just sitting there programming drums and then you EQ them and do all this shit and you’ve got this perfectly compressed EQ’ed drum sound but there’s no idea for a track. The way I make stuff now it’s constantly running, it’s constantly on the move. You don’t have time to question yourself and refine things you just do the best you can. It’s made purely for my own pleasure and if other people enjoy it too then that’s amazing because there’s a kind of direct connection there between my instinctive taste and the listener’s – rather than creating a perfected version of an idea, this stuff has all my failures and mistakes on show. That’s why it’s really nice to hear when people like the record, because this is just stuff that plays in my house when I’m doing chores or whatever.”How was the record produced? Is it mostly analogue? “Yeah it’s nearly all done analogue with some Max/MSP bits on certain tracks, that stuff allows me to add extra LFOs or sequencers when I can’t afford more modules. I’ve been refining this setup for years and I’ve got this really personalised system. The box that I used for my live show is what most of the tracks on the album were made on. It’s got 3 voices but only one sequencer so you have to be creative with the patch to get around those limits. Most of the tracks come from semi-random setups where you instruct each voice but it’s also got a degree of flexibility or its own decision making system patched in. One of the reasons I like making music in this way is that you lose control of certain parameters which you can choose to work with or against. It’s cool because you can create this really complex music making device on the spot and you decide which bits you want to influence and which bits you let go. I did the live show [supporting Loscil] and that was the first time I’d played a live set like that, but after the gig I’d practised with that system so much I got sick of it I dismantled it. That live set was recorded and it’s hopefully coming out on videogamemusic in March.”
How long did it actually take for you to get your head around all the analogue stuff? Do you find it more straightforward to work with? “For me the focus isn’t on the analogue aspect of the equipment its more about personalising a work flow to fit exactly with my way of thinking. For me Max and the modular works best because the ideas I want to explore aren’t possible with most plugins or normal synths. If you gave me someone else’s synth I wouldn’t know what to do with it and at the same time if you tried to sell my synth as it is nobody else would want it, only me. It’s set up basically to suit exactly how I want to approach making sounds. Modular stuff is a lot more accessible than it used to be but if you start out by going on forums or whatever you just end up building this system that isn’t tailoured to you. For me the reason to get into it is so that you find your own way of exploring your own individual ideas and expressing yourself – something I can’t do on keys or other instruments.”
You said you had that tape coming out on videogamemusic, have you got anything else lined up? “Well me and my mates do this label called Cong Burn Waves. We share a studio in Salford and every weekend we go in there and record stuff, we just get loads of amps and mics and synths and pedals and stuff and just bash out tunes and record. We had Dave McLean come in last weekend and play sax and jam and hopefully that’ll lead to something. It’s not like a band or anything but we just make music together and put it out however we want – like the mixtape or some compilations we’re getting together at the minute. The whole reason for doing it is my close mates are making such good stuff and the tunes were just sat on hard drives. None of us make similar sounding stuff really, but we’re all totally into each other’s ideas despite having quite different tastes. Like there’s club tracks and drone stuff and full band recordings – but they all have the same approach in which is everyone doing their own thing and supporting each other in whatever we decide to do next.”
3.5 Degrees is out on Melodic Records on 15th January.
Words by Antoin Lindsay, 06 January 2016. Leave a comment
2015 was a monumental year for Washington, DC-based label, 1432 R. With multiple releases from Ethiopian Records, a single by Mikael Seifu, debut solo EP from Dawit Eklund, a monthly spot on Radar Radio and a mix for RVNG Intl, 1432 R has firmly established itself as a leading representative of modern electronic music. The ’sound’ of the label is difficult to pin down, alternating from artist to artist and creating a union of voices with shared ideas and influences. Their combination of Ethiopian folk music and electronic production gives the label a unique sound characterized by powerful vocals and percussion-focused instrumentation. While artists Mikael Seifu and Endeguena Mulu expand on this Ethiopiyawi Electronic sound from Addis Ababa, label founders Joyce Lim, Sami Yenigun and Dawit Eklund are heavily involved with the electronic scene in Washington, DC. DJing and producing under the moniker, Zem Su Yung, Joyce Lim is not only an artist in the musical sense, but is also responsible for 1432 R’s bold and intricate artwork. In-between DJing and co-running the label, Joyce also runs a monthly mix series, Extended Family, which showcases the diverse talents of artists in the DC area. Both Joyce and Sami are known to DJ at ROAM, a monthly party that changes lineup and location each time, creating a unique club experience in Washington. Launched in 2013, ROAM is run by Sami and fellow DC artists Chris Nitti and DJ Lisa Frank, and works “to provide the DC community with a relief from a conventional club atmosphere while maintaining an awe-inspiring level of fun.” In addition, 1432 R and Future Times have announced their new semi-regular party, ANYWHO, which will showcase international DJs, while Max D, Future Times, 1432 R and friends provide local support.
Keeping with the upbeat energy and collaborative effort that surrounds the label, our first Truancy Volume of the year is an 80-minute dance mix created by the crew of Joyce, Sami and Dawit. Starting with an intro from 1432 R Soundsytem, the mix quickly delves into classic house before switching it up to new sounds from labels like Lobster Theremin, Future Times and Tomorrow Is Now, Kid!. With favorites from Basic Channel and DJ Fett Burger, classics from Chateau Flight and The Bermuda Triangle, and unreleased 1432 R tracks from Dawit Eklund and Ocobaya, Truancy Volume 135 is the first of many great things to come in 2016 for the young label.
(DJE=Dawit Eklund, JL=Joyce Lim, SY=Sami Yenigun)
Hey, everyone! Where are you right now? What have you been up to lately?
Hey Taylor we are happily grooving in Washington DC and we’ve been steadily mobbing dancing and jiving all over this green earth.
You recently released Dawit Eklund’s first solo EP, Ouroborous which has received much positive attention internationally. How are you navigating your growing profile within the dance music scene at large?
DJE: Right now I’m just trying to increase my output and book gigs. We all want to play in Europe and make some euros.
JL: Hopefully with some humility
SY: So happy for Dawit! I’m focused on the music before anything else. Head down, ears open.
The label’s artwork strikes an interesting balance between organic and technical, with animal imagery rendered in intricate patterns. What are some of the ideas behind the artwork? Are you inspired by any artists in particular?
JL: Each piece is different. I ask the producers to guide the concepts and simply try to execute their vision while adding a bit of 1432 R styling. Mik and Endeguena’s works are both largely drawn from Ethiopian folk references, and there is a plethora of visual information in which to help inform and guide. I’m inspired by the works of new school illustrators like Alexander Lansang (who has helped tremendously with my techniques) as well as the compositions and symbolism of 17th century Italian art. I’m also interested in the combination of ancient imagery with contemporary flavors in Latin American modern art (particularly from Mexico and Cuba). Abstract expressionism overwhelms so much of art in music today, and it seems lazy at this point. For example focusing on just lines, or triangles, or big blocks of rothko-esque color. Abstract expressionism was a valuable movement but I hope that in the future we’ll see things that demand critical thinking. If the art doesn’t make you think or change the way that you see the world what real good is it.
Each of you grew up playing instruments from a young age. How has that influenced your musical interests or approach to electronic music? When did you start getting into DJing or producing?
DJE: Growing up I begged my parents to let me quit piano lessons, which I now regret. At the time I convinced them to let me stop by saying I would pick up another instrument, which ended up being guitar. I’ve probably only used guitar once or twice in my newer productions, but it served as a solid base for understanding music and harmony intuitively. Around the same time I got my first pair of turntables in the 7th grade. I had two breakbeat records and two needles. I broke both needles trying to learn how to scratch and had to sell my turntables after that because I lived in a country (Egypt) with no access to needles. I would have to wait months for new needles so my new hobby was unsustainable and unrealistic. I didn’t start DJing again until I came back to America for college.
SY: Starting an instrument at an early age kept music in my life on a daily basis. I picked up DJing when I went to college, and a few years ago I really started devoting time to work in the studio. I play flute on some of the tracks I make, so there’s direct influence in that sense. In a broader sense I think learning about scales, time signatures and rhythm has helped me in every musical pursuit.
With you three being based in Washington D.C do you find communication difficult since Endeguena Mulu and Mikael Seifu live in Addis Ababa?
DJE: Kind of. It depends. I go back home to Addis fairly regularly so that helps. Internet speeds are horrible there so the complications lay more them sending us large .wav files of their new music. It normally involves having to go to a hotel to get the best internet on a good day. There are good days and bad days for internet speed in Addis. Not really sure how that works.
I’ve read that you (Dawit) tend to lock yourself in the studio for days. Is that something you force upon yourself, or is that a preferred approach? Any particular piece of equipment or method that is vital to your process?
DJE: It’s definitely my preferred approach and not forced. I enjoy being in the studio above all other things. I really just love tinkering. I love the process and I love feeling a certain way and translating that to a chord or melody. Sometimes it can take a while but it’s deeply rewarding to make something that speaks to how I feel emotionally. I might not have showered or slept but I’ve got this dope ass beat to play in my car. Most likely it will never be released. I make a lot of stuff for myself and to share with friends. As far as equipment, it’s all up in the air and depends on the day. When Psycho Animus came out I had just begun using analog gear. Max D sold me a Juno-106 for mad cheap, partly because it had voice card problems but also just because he’s a nice fella. If you listen closely you can hear clicks in that recording. It bothers me to this day, incorporating analog was like starting all over again and I had to learn all these new recording techniques. There’s even a comment on Discogs about those clicks. At night when I sleep I hear those clicks. These days I typically like to record audio with non-broken analog synths and get creative with post-production in the box using software effects.
Since living in the Washington DC area in college, how have you seen the electronic music scene in the area change? How would you like to see it grow in the future?
JL: There are so many parties in this city it can be hard to keep track, definitely want to give due props to all of the many hard working promoters and party animals that successfully strive to keep the beat going through the night. For me, the thing that is most exciting about DC is Future Times and PPU/Earcave. I don’t know about the growth of the music scene but it would be great if DC could get a proper deli. It is so hard to pay for a good sandwich here that isn’t gourmet, oh my god feels like it shouldn’t be so hard.
SY: Aside from what Joyce mentioned there’s a pretty thriving club thing in town, and that’s certainly grown since I left school. There’s stuff on the fringes too, I do a party called Roam with some friends that moves around warehouse spaces. We have a gang of friends who collect records and throw parties around town. I would love to see all these great DJs get more shine, I feel like DC has a lot to share.
DJE: I was never part of any scene until I met Sami and his crew and he hired me to be a flyer-boy for their warehouse parties. Before that I was just a lone wolf bedroom producer. Since then the scene has continued to grow, but I’m out less and less these days. In the future I would like to see the DC nightlife community continue to fight against the petitions for new noise ordinance laws that come with gentrification.
What’s your favorite DC venue? What’s been good in DC lately?
Is it difficult to balance living and working in fast-paced, business-minded DC while also running an independent record label, DJing, producing and throwing monthly parties? Do you get a lot of support from other local labels and venues?
JL: Personally I get antsy if enough things aren’t happening. I just want to be lying on my deathbed knowing that I tried my best and that I put a lot of good work out. It helps that working in music is exciting and fun. I guess I’d find it much more difficult to be doing nothing at all or letting life pass by aimlessly. We get a lot of support from PPU and Future Times and some friends in DC, but most of our audience seems to be international.
The overall sound of the label, while diverse and changing, is a distinct hybrid of Ethiopian folk and modern electronic music. Would you say there is a collective message of the label, or is it more of an amalgamation of different voices?
The amalgamation of different voices is part of the collective message of the label, they’re intertwined. Impact is the most important thing.
Any particular goals or plans for 1432 R in 2016? Do you have any upcoming releases or are you planning on releasing records from any new artists?
We’ve got a lot of exciting music in the bank, and we sneak it into our mixes all the time. New artists, new styles, and some more music from DC on the way. Look out for Ocobaya in the near future.
1432 R Soundsystem Feat. Haile Supreme – Intro (5 or 6 or 7AM Mix)
Pal Joey – I Got The Rhythm featuring Beautiful People [Pal Joey Music]
Privacy – Apex Predator [Lobster Theremin]
Will DiMaggio – Fusion (Broadcast Mix) [Future Times]
DJ Steaw – Aquarius [Tomorrow Is Now, Kid!]
Basic Channel – Q.1.1/III [Basic Channel]
Cheateau Flight – Discobole (Pépé 75cl Remix) [Versatile Records]
Alex Cortex – A1 Untitled [Out To Lunch]
DJ Fett Burger & Luca Lozano – Totally Tangerine [Sex Tags UFO]
Ocobaya – Adult Parking [1432 R]
Obsolete Music Technology – Since The Accident [Emphasis Recordings]
Kahuun – Batteri [Hi Fi Terapi]
A Band Called Flash – Hotline Bling 2 [Future Vision]
The Bermuda Triangle – Mary Celeste [Vibraphone Records]
J-ZBEL – ZHF (Poppers Mix) [Brothers From Different Mothers]
Dawit Eklund – Seed Sound [1432 R]
Scott Ferguson – Only Love [SoundDesigners]
D’Pac – I Wouldn’t feat Terrance FM (Revamped Dub) [Prescription]
M-Beat Featuring General Levy – Incredible [Renk Records]
Words by Taylor Trostle
Words by Truants, 05 January 2016. Leave a comment
Leonce has been a friend of Truants for a while now. Although he signed to Fade To Mind very recently, joining fellow inductee HitMakerChinx, Leonce Nelson had beginnings when he co-started an ambient/noise label Hexagon Recordings with Wakesleep in 2012. Fast forward three years an intermittent habit of uploading Rinse FM rips of his own tracks to his Soundcloud would culminate in his own hour length mix in August, completely bodied with close friend Helix on the closing hour of the show; it showed the importance of keeping it in the family, much like the like the rest of the Fade To Mind team has proven on past releases. Whereas that mix came loaded with mostly tracks for the club (loaded, too, with an incendiary “Truffle Butter” bootleg), his Truancy Volume focuses more on the rap influences on his personality, nitrous injected with Young Scooter, Thugger, TK N CASH and Future Hendrix. A couple of days on from turning twenty-two, and ahead from his debut release on the label, he talks to us about his beginnings in Hexagon Recordings, his Fade To Mind affiliates and his thoughts on how the nightlife differs between New Orleans and Atlanta.
How’ve you been keeping this past year? “Been hangin in there, it’s been a long year.”
In your Twitter bio your location is New Orleans *jetplane emoji* Atlanta. Are you living in both locations at the same time, and has that impacted your development, influence and what you feel you represent? “No, I’m actually from Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans but I live in Atlanta currently. I fuck with the sounds of both cities, in short. Maybe you can tell in my DJ sets or my tracks sometimes, maybe you can’t. Of course, you grow up with the internet and shit these days so I got into a lot of shit besides what was just around me. I wasn’t just in like a bubble or some shit. Rap and R&B and bounce were just things I grew up with as an environmental thing so I’m just more familiar with that shit.”
It’s been a relatively long while since you co-founded Hexagon Records (with Robin) in 2012 and released tracks under the Forgotten Light alias. Can you tell us a little on what you learnt from that experience? “I got into making music with Ableton when I was around 15 and was making a lot of weird ambient/noise stuff with my friend Robin over the years. We wanted to have some kind of home for it eventually so we just put it on tapes and sold it off a Tumblr. It got to be a lot of work after a while so we just let it go. It was fun being able to have that kind of outlet to just put out stuff under any random alias but it takes a lot of time and effort to run a label/creative outlet no matter how big or small it is.”
What do you think has changed in the music you created since then and the reason for the name change? “I knew when I was younger that I wanted to eventually just release music as my own name and I feel like now’s the right time. I feel a lot more free as an artist to do what I want than if I operated under a artist name.”
Could you tell us how you came about being initiated into Fade To Mind? Is there anyone inside of the label that you’re looking forward to or have already worked with? “It was pretty organic, I get asked a lot and it’s always weird explaining it but I became friends with helix and kingdom a few years ago and things just went from there. it wasn’t like I was going out of my way or anything like that so that was cool. it was just something that happened. everybody has a different path. all you have to do is just stay in your lane and keep making the best work you can. as far as collabs I won’t speak on it yet but I have something brewing with Helix and Massacooramaan.”
From a distance, there’s a lot to be admired of Fade to Mind and primarily how solid the relationships seem to be between artists. Do you think that being that tightly knit of a collective organically shows in the collaborations released? “It does, yeah. We all work at different speeds but I definitely feel like the collabs between the fam are way better than the ones that aren’t. Everybody’s just cool and on the same page with each other.”
You’ve remixed Divoli S’vere’s “Click Clac”, along with the “Truffle Butter” remix that recently blew up. Do you edit tracks to fit into your mixes or is that process entirely different/secondary? “Maybe? It’s not always that deep for me. as a producer I just cover the ground I want to when I’m in the studio and as a DJ I approach the situations as appropriate. I’ll be “in the moment” or whatever when I do a track and then later on I hear somebody play it in a way that inspires me. You just know when it’s time to play certain things.”
One thing that’s immediately notable when listening to the other artist on your Rinse mix (Helix) is his prowess with his drums. Has his work had any influence on your own productions? “In a way I’d say yeah. We approach drums differently but similar. I’d say we both influence each other in some capacity but never in really obvious ways.”
What can we expect from you in the near future and what are you most looking forward to? “My debut release with fade [to mind] and some collaborations down the line with producers and more vocalists.”
How was opening for Dawn Richard at Opera Nightclub? “It was amazing! she killed it and the crowd loved it, hope she’s back soon.”
What’s the best and the worst aspect about the current clubbing climate moving into 2016? and/or how does the nightlife alternate between NOLA and ATL? “The nightlife is so way way different, alcohol sales stop in bars and clubs in ATL at 3am, alcohol sales never stop in NOLA so the clubs and bars either stay open super late or don’t even close. All of that affects the nightlife because places rarely stay open past the time they can sell drinks. I’d say ATL has more diverse types of parties just because it’s a global city. NOLA nightlife is super strong but its hard to get love as an artist from there who moved and there’s barely a middle ground for parties, either it’s something small or something big, either way I’m optimistic for both cities. The best aspect of clubbing right now is how many unique points of views we have in club music (referring to the DJs and producers) and how many promoters we have taking chances and making these unique parties happen. It’s hard for me to say the worst thing cuz there are so many things that contribute to clubbing’s decline. Parties with no consistent and unique vibe and aesthetic, overcrowded lineups, etc. Either way the true creatives and innovators will shine.”
If you were to run a night in 2016, what would be the first things that you would want to address? “I actually am working on launching a dope ass party in Atlanta that’s going to address these things and it’ll branch out to some other cities. Just keep an eye out.”
To you, who are the most important people making moves in clubbing right now and why? “Of course, I’d have to say Fade is definitely the most important group making moves in (American) clubbing right now. the parties are the fruition of everything the label stands for. You just have to be there to experience it.”
Your best moment in a club this year? “After this year there’s no way I can just say one best moment lol”
What influences can we expect to hear in your Truancy Volume? “I tried recording this mix 3 times, the first take I wasn’t a huge fan of and the second was unusable cause of some driver shit so by the third take I mostly just felt like playing my rap favs from the last few years. I’m definitely influenced a lot by rap a lot as a DJ and producer even though I wouldn’t call myself just a rap DJ or producer so it’s cool to have a lil chance to show that side of myself more.”
What would you want to change about music journalism from an artist’s point of view? “Maybe journalists should actually get paid a living wage by the blogs/mags that employ them so they’d care about writing about records?”
Last 1, favourite standalone Future verse? “Man you cant do that thats like picking my favorite child lmao”
Words by Akash Chohan, 21 December 2015. Leave a comment
Back in October, Nkisi, ANGEL-HO and Rabit sat down with Truants’ Tayyab Amin to discuss ‘Decolonised Dancefloors: Race, Identity & The Global Underground’. The aim of the panel was to explore how the artists’ works and collaborations relate to these issues, whilst shedding light on and introducing their approaches to music. Nkisi is known for her intense blends channeling Congolese roots with her love of doomcore, whilst ANGEL-HO deals a hand of visceral, voguish shards. Along with Chino Amobi, they co-founded NON Records. Rabit’s tainted, broken chrome productions have made frequent appearances in our Functions of the Now mix series tracklists, and he recently started Halcyon Veil. Below is a transcription of the discussion, edited for readability. Many thanks to Repeater Books for presenting the panel, Unsound for hosting it, and to the artists for their involvement.
Nkisi: Hello. So my name is Melika. I am diaspora from Congo but grew up in Belgium. I’m an artist, I make music under the name Nkisi.
Rabit: My name’s Eric, I produce under the name Rabit. I DJ, produce and also have a record label. One of the things we released earlier this year in partnership with NON is the release from Angelo. That’s about it.
ANGEL-HO: Hi, I’m Angelo, known as ANGEL-HO. I’m a performance artist, working with sound.
Tayyab: I think a good place to start, as Eric mentioned, is NON, which is a collective/label. We’ve got two of the co-founders here in Melika and ANGEL-HO. Would like to start by telling us what NON is all about?
ANGEL-HO: We started having this conversation about race, identity and being diasporic, and also being within [other countries] – South Africa for me, and discussing our experiences. It kinda spread to the colonial history we all shared, that we’re all conditioned by. NON is escaping those, or just being disruptive within the colonial vernacular of sound.
Nkisi: Also what’s really important for me, personally, definitely with NON is just that it is not a platform that tries to be a part of society that maybe doesn’t really want us. It’s more making its own platform, its own world and its own state. Instead of trying to be a part of something, we’re basically making our own.
Tayyab: You just mentioned society that doesn’t want “us”, “us” in reference to African and Afro-diasporic peoples. When did you start to notice that that was the case in the world and in creative industries?
Nkisi: I think I’ve always noticed this, just because of my background, growing up in Belgium – obviously the colonial history. And just it’s always been there, that I was a stranger or that I was an outsider. I don’t think it was something like, “Oh, I’m in the creative industry and now, oh shit, I’m an outsider, people are not really including me,” it has been part of my experience of always being the outsider. I don’t really think it was just linked to the creative industry, my whole experience as a human being, it’s been a part of it since being a kid.
Tayyab: ANGEL-HO, have you felt the same alienation in Cape Town?
ANGEL-HO: Yeah, definitely. For me, it started with education. We have to understand that in South Africa, race is constructed in three categories (not like in America where it’s just black and white): There’s black, white and coloured. We all speak differently, have our own terms. Going to primary school for me – and all these institutions – I remember this one vivid moment when my teacher told me for a whole week that I had to speak properly. That was the first moment that I was like, “I’m not supposed to be here.” I didn’t feel comfortable in that situation. I’m still kind of dealing with that today.
Tayyab: So when it came to forming NON, how did that come around? Were you forming relationships in person, online or in new spaces where you found people that were on the same wavelength as you?
Words by Tayyab Amin, 18 December 2015. Leave a comment
A singular talent in the world of house and techno, rRoxymore’s steadily growing discography is bursting with creativity: from the repurposed 80s synth pop of playful Huntleys & Palmers drop “Ministry Of Silly Talks” to the dark, psychedelic depth of recent Macro EP Tautologies, with diverse releases for Cómeme and Human Level building bridges between these two sounds. This adventurous quality is rooted by her deep understanding of the dancefloor, with results that embody all the precision and funk of the best techno with none of its rigidity. Since debuting on Human Level in 2012, rRoxymore has maintained a creative relationship with label boss Planningtorock, most recently collaborating together with Paula Temple and Oni Ayhun on standout release of the year Decon/Recon #1. Short for Deconstruction/Reconstruction, the release plays with notions of identity and hierarchy through its masking of authorship and unique, collaborative compositional process. And of course, all four tracks are solid gold dancefloor heaters as well. The four have been performing live together under the Decon/Recon banner across 2015, culminating in a tour of Mexico this past October. rRoxymore has a formidable live show of her own too, an instance of which you can watch thanks to Boiler Room Berlin.
She’s also an amazing DJ, a fact aptly demonstrated by her Truancy Volume. Of it, rRoxymore says “I wanted to do something more to be listened to then to be danced to, but I did not want it to become an ambient mix either. So it stands on the edge of both feelings I guess. I was also working on this experimental tape mini album in the meanwhile so it must have influenced also my mood ;)”. The mix is no short of groove, however, with all of the beauty and pop sensibility of her diverse back catalogue, as well as some of the same exploratory tangents.
Hi rRoxymore, how was Mexico? “Hi Simon! Mexico was amazing! Recently I went back with the Decon Recon project. We did a small tour organised by the Goethe Institut. It was really special, we had the chance to play in front of big enthusiastic crowds. That was truly unique. In the last few months, I have been lucky to go and get to play several times there now, particularly in Mexico City. There is an interesting music scene growing, with passionate people involved.”
Could you tell us a little about how Decon/Recon came to be? “The project was initiated by Paula Temple. She came with this brilliant idea of new collaboration between producers: an open archive filled up with sound material made by the artists, then this collected material becomes four original tracks produced by the artists themselves. So each of the tracks have the “artistic DNA” of everyone. What is interesting here is at the creative process level, each piece of music is a symbiosis of the collective work, but also at the representation level there is no hierarchy between the artists; each track is claimed by the collective work. The artist ego/status is reduced for the collective voice. The individual’s identity got blended into the collective, without loosing the specificity and originality of each one. It was an interesting experience, especially playing live all together. I think Paula has started the production of Decon/Recon #2 involving other artists.”
The name Decon/Recon alludes to the idea of deconstruction and reconstruction: what aspects (political or otherwise) of contemporary dance music do you think should be deconstructed, and what would you construct in their place? “That is a a vast question here. It is sad to see that the dance music scene, which is a counter culture at the beginning, has become so conservative on many levels. First creatively, I have the feeling that most productions nowadays are completely retro, with not so many ideas and all too serious. Secondly socially: there is no gender equality, minorities are “invisibilised “. I can not really offer any solutions, but I hope that the real, passionate people involved in the scene are aware of this or become aware of it because the scene will become an empty shell eventually. Challenging the expectations or the habits and taking risk can be a good start.”
Planningtorock joined you on the first Decon/Recon record under her Aquarian Jugs alias, but your creative relationship with her stretches back further. Can you tell us a little about how your history together? “Jam and I were in contact via myspace years ago, and also had friends in common at that time. When I moved to Berlin, it was natural that we got to know each other in “real life”. Her album W got released at that time, and she wanted to tour with a band, so she asked me to join her on tour as musician, since I had some experience already. That’s how it began, and has developed as a strong friendship/collaboration over the years. A very inspiring person.”
Your new record on Macro is really beautiful and quite psychedelic too – I particularly like the exploratory synth work on DFF – but still dance floor focused. Is this a balance that factors into your compositional process? What do you consider the ideal setting for your music? “First of all producing dance music means making people dance. So in this context, I try to reinvent/create a different aesthetic within this very codified world. I try to keep things surprising and adventurous with sound texture, melodies and grooves.”
What’s most exciting you about the creative community in Berlin at the moment? “What is exciting about this city is that not everything is totally established and crystallised yet. Things are still organic and free to be experimented with, and that is a key factor when you work in a creative environment, as well as having your own “space”/time to develop your work.”
What are your plans for the near future? “I’ve just finished a mini tape album, which contains only beatless music pieces; far out stuff. It should be out in March 2016. I have a USA tour coming up in March and I’m also working on a new EP.”
And finally a Truants classic: when was the last time you danced? “Well I danced last week end :)”
Vito Ricci – Music in Fourth
Bryce Hackford Heart To Beat
Japan Blues – Half dead Pulse
AMFM – Dynasty Warrior
Armando Gallop & Steve Pointdexter – Black holes
Luke Vibert – Majacid
Georgia – Bridge
Dynamo Dresden , SVN, A made up Sound UNtiled – A1
POV – R Type III
Fatima & Mamluks – HAssan ( Razormaid Remix )
Geena – Box of Exotica
Sweet Exorcist – Clong Coming
Dollkraut – Valium
Jeremy Hyman – Machine Stops
Raudive – Sienna
Nomo – Nu Tones ( Mathew Dear Remix )
rRoxymore – DFF
I Cube – Prepgav pt 1
∑ – Materie
Words by Simon Docherty, 17 December 2015. 3 comments