Once again, Detroit shows the world it’s not void of new talent. After Kyle Hall unearthed the lo-fi sounds of Manuel Gonzales it seems fitting that Argot, a label based in Detroit’s sister city Chicago, would unveil the uptempo and manic synthesizers of Elizabeth Merrick-Jefferson. Last month she released her debut 12-inch, “Urban Off Road” – a three-track EP that takes the listener on a whirlwind journey into modern techno. Aside from that record there’s not much information available on her, so we had a quick chat with her about her past and future. After showing off her production chops with a standout 12-inch, we thought it the perfect time for the world to get glimpse into what she can do behind the decks. That brings us to the 69th installment of our Truancy Volume series and in just over an hour she’s shown that she is just as capable mixing records as programming drum machines. Enjoy a selection of the old, new, and exclusive from Elizabeth.
This is your first official release, but we take it from the mature sound of your record you’ve been writing music in the shadows for some time. How long have you been producing? “On and off since the late 90s… I never really made anything very good until I came out of a long hiatus a couple years ago.”
What’s the writing process like for you? “I usually find some form of inspiration that starts me out with a different element of a track, sit down and get it into a machine, then just build around there until I feel it’s full enough to start sequencing. Sometimes I have to take long breaks and do other things before I’m satisfied with the direction an unfinished track is taking.”
Aside from the obvious Detroit influence, is there anything else you admire musically or take inspiration from? “I listen to everything. I spend most of my time listening to jazz, soul, and rap. Detroit has always had an amazing musical heritage aside from techno. The techno thing just kind of never left me once the underground parties died down in Detroit.”
When did you receive your introduction to electronic music? “As a pre-teen listening to the Wizard.”
Why did you wait so long to put music out? “I really never intended to put anything out. The kind of techno that really blew my mind kind of fell out of favor around the turn of the century. So I sort of just made tracks to please myself. I shared some songs on efnet channel #313 with a few people, like Mush, Sanys, and Alex Israel. Steve Mizek reached out after hearing a track in Alex Israel’s LWE mix and offered to put my stuff on vinyl. How could I say no?”
From what we’ve read about you it seems you have a bit of an outsider’s perspective on things even though you’re based in such influential city. Why do you think that is? “I am. I make this music in a bubble. I have never really intended to be part of a “scene”. I don’t really hang out. I just like good music and I guess I can make some once in a while.”
Where was this mix recorded and what did you try to convey with it? “In my sunroom. I felt a lot of pressure to play the right things since I’ve never done anything like this. So I decided to just play a lot of stuff that opened my mind back in the day–lots of classics–and a some relatively unknown tracks from people I respect.”
What’s next for you? “I never know! Hopefully another record soon.”
Words by Jonathon Alcindor, 14 May 2013. Leave a comment
“Club Full Of Truants” is the second instalment in our Truants crew mix series. Following the concept of “Room Full Of Truants”, we asked our writers to pick one or two of their favourite club tracks that would instantly transform any night out into a successful soiree. There were no boundaries: the crew was allowed to pick old and new tracks within any junction of music, as long as it makes them walk an immediate straight line from the bar to the dancefloor whenever they hear it out in the club. The result is a two hour long mix that’s been fused together perfectly by OG Truant Riccardo. It embodies our collective ideal dancefloor soundtrack and by transcending genres going from Mariah Carey to old DMZ dubplates and a string of hip-hop gems, this selection of tracks personifies the Truants motto perfectly. Due to the sheer variety that this mix serves up, there’s a large spectrum of opportunities for you to blast this tape to; but might we suggest putting this mix on in company of a few companions and a bottle of fine cognac? Suit up, stream and download the mix below and see the full track listing and an overview of which writer picked what track after the jump.
And with this, we are taking a leave of absence for the next two weeks to reorganise and redesign our site. We’ll be back with a new yet familiar design and some exciting features soon. Until then, you can go through our archives and listen to our Truancy Volume series and exclusives here. Meanwhile, stay in touch with us on Twitter and Facebook. As always, thank you for your continuous support and we’ll be seeing you soon. <3 TT
Words by Truants, 08 April 2013. Leave a comment
If you ask any DJ he (or she) will undoubtedly tell you that stringing together a coherent set of his (or her) musical taste in an hour is near impossible, yet somehow once every month FunkinEven does via his Apron Records show on NTS. Typically, it’s filled with throwback tunes from before many of us were born and exclusives from himself and his talented friends. This week he invited LA beatsmith Gifted & Blessed to join him for an hour of exclusive tunes. As expected the pair came through with nonstop machine drum funk. From what we could ID, which isn’t very much, they played new FunkinEvil (Kyle Hall & FunkinEven), fresh solo work from Steven including a new Apron record, and GB blessed us (ha) with new music as well. If you have an hour to kill pop this mix on, do some housework and enjoy a slew of unreleased music. And if you haven’t already checked out our recent interview with the Apron head honcho give it a read.
Download: FunkinEven – NTS Apron Show (featuring Gifted & Blessed)
This past year has seen more exciting explorations of grime, house and techno by Dro Carey through his releases for The Trilogy Tapes, Templar Sound, Opal Tapes as well as superb self-released material available through his Bandcamp site. This mixtape for Australia’s inthemix website is a follow-up to Dro’s great mix for FACT. It is an incredibly compelling and fun mix of grime futurism, hip-hop, new DC tracks as well as a selection of original rap instrumentals from his new joint project Chambray Cartel with fellow experimentalist Napolian. We have had it on repeat for well over half a year. Stream it on the ITM site or download it via the link kindly provided by Dro Carey.
Berlin-based Irish producer and DJ Mano Le Tough, after a series of singles released on different labels over the last few years, has recently found a home of sorts on Permanent Vacation. The German label released his “Changing Days” album last February, and to celebrate its release Mano played Panorama Bar alongside Michael Mayer, the Permanent Vacation DJs and The Drifter. To our benefit, Mano posted part of his set on his Soundcloud page. It’s 100 minutes of exceptional house and techno, encompassing a range of moods and emotions. There’s the trippy groove of DJ Koze’s Mariposa, Wraetlic’s stuttering “Rats”, the shuffling “Late Night Jam” from Levon Vincent, the sheer euphoria of Ripperton’s edit of Global Communication’s “Maiden Voyage” – a journey in itself. Mano’s own “A Thing From Above” makes an appearance, before the beautifully deep “Black Ice” from Smallpeople, expertly laid over the satisfying crunch of Paranoid London’s “Paris Dub 1″. Sounding perfect in every situation, from a boring afternoon in work to the pre-club ritual on a Saturday night, it’s a great introduction to this wonderful talent. Get familiar with Mano Le Tough, you deserve it.
Download: Mano Le Tough – Panorama Bar February 2, 2013
Earlier this year, Kingdom made a guest appearance on BBC Radio 1’s “Diplo & Friends”, with a mixtape that was a true force to be reckoned with. It might have lost your attention slightly as the LA-based Fade To Mind label head was quick to follow the mix up with another one, the “Clubposite” mix in collaboration with DISMagazine. Just in case you missed this 1Xtra gig, let us set your sights on this hour-long mix filled with hand-picked selections that exemplify exactly why we are such fans of Kingdom and his exquisite taste. The tracklist makes a grand entrance with its inclusion of Total Freedom’s eye-opening Beyonce edit of “Baby Boy”, moving on to some of Kingdom’s own recent tracks and a Ciara remix that hit our radars on Fade To Mind’s satisfying second white label release late last year. There’s a lot of things to look forward to in your listening here, but a true highlight of this mixtape is Kingdom’s edit of the much-availed Kowton remix “Stop What You’re Doing”, based on sounds which have originally been crafted by Untold. It’s been reinterpreted here with classic Mariah screeches and Busta ad-libs to form a wholesome and hard-hitting anthem that might have dancefloors confused with its overwhelming presence. That track alone should have you yearning for this mix, but look forward to more goods from the Fade To Mind and affiliated Night Slugs camp for an hour that’ll undoubtedly make your weekend a good one.
Stream: Kingdom – Mix for Diplo & Friends on BBC Radio 1Xtra
Vakula! Vakula! Vakula! Don’t you think ‘vakula’ would make a good football chant? It would also probably work well as some kind of medieval incantation, which is pretty fitting because Vakula’s sweet forty five on Boiler Room opened with some spectacularly spectral sounds. Everyone’s new favourite Ukrainian just got even more spaced out as the set went on, moving through his mysterious modulations with an almost unnerving ease. Vakula is one of those supercool cats who can juxtapose totally incongruous vibes upon one another – see the frightening screeches over baby-soft house about a third in – like it’s not even a thang. This set is really a masterclass in groove, and it’s less than an hour long. Come for the xylophonic tinkles, stay for the chest-thudding disco-tech. Extra Truants points to Vakula for the stellar head-nodding and maximum chill booty shaking as well. Check this one, it’s an unregrettable decision.
Stream: Vakula – 45min Boiler Room Mix
Written by: Jonathon Alcindor, Eradj Yakubov, Aidan Hanratty, Sindhuja Shyam & Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura.
There’s no questioning that 2012 was Tessela’s breakout year. With just a few records he solidified his sound and spot on the shortlist of unique new UK talent. After appearing on a multitude of labels including 2nd Drop Records and Punch Drunk, it seems fitting for him to start something of his own (this is almost like a right of passage these days). In comes Poly Kicks freshly christened from its inaugural release “Hackney Parrot / Helter Skelter” from the man himself. There’s no word on the direction he plans on taking the label, but from the sounds of this record we’re sure he has a few tricks up his sleeve.
The track that garnered the most hype is “Hackney Parrot”, a jungle and hardcore indebted tune with an infectious vocal. In comparison to what’s in vogue at the moment it stands out and from the handful of DJs we’ve seen reach for this tune it’s a killer. When was the last time you heard a track based around breaks and bass go off so well? The single note bass tone does sound incredibly awkward, but makes complete sense in the context of the track. It’s as if someone mixed a tapered screech in with sub bass. Though everyone will be talking about “Hackney Parrot”, the real gem is “Helter Skelter”, which could potentially be inspired by Paul McCartney (it’s probably not). This one is much less immediate, but revolves around similar sounds, mainly the breaks. We could have easily confused this with Paul Woolford’s Special Request project. The focus here is definitely on the kicks; they are piercing – it’s as if someone’s slamming a door in your face or stomping on stairs with an iron boot. Then an equally retrospective rave’esque melody comes in (think the Peverelist’s “Dance Til The Police Come”). It’s brilliant and in our books more memorable then the flip’s crowd-pleasing vocals and bass. Tessela is kicking off the label on a strong note, now hopefully he follows up with records that come off just as fresh.
Stream: Tessela – Hackney Parrot / Helter Skelter (Poly Kicks)
Tessela’s Hackney Parrot / Helter Skelter is available now on Poly Kicks.
Words by Jonathon Alcindor, 01 April 2013. Leave a comment
The level of buzz and excitement around “Think & Change” should not come as a shock. Since Boddika founded the label three years ago, Nonplus has become one of the most esteemed names in drum & bass, dubstep and techno. Instra:mental – the duo comprised of Boddika and Jon Convex – dominated the label’s early output but recent times have seen the label deviate from its drum & bass roots to showcase music from artists as diverse as Actress, Skream and Skudge. “Think & Change” – the label’s aptly titled first compilation – is the culmination of this departure.
Comprised of five two-track plates, the scope of “Think & Change” is broad – which is hardly surprising for a label that has encompassed sounds from across the dance music spectrum since its inception. Opener “&Fate” is the latest collaboration between Boddika and Joy Orbison. The duo have spent the past two years producing some of the UK’s biggest club hits and while “&Fate” – awash with unstable vocals and powered along by a frenetic bassline, may not fill us with the same immediate frenzy of excitement their earlier work did, this is a track which grows with each listen. Other names familiar to Nonplus are also present on production duties. Germany’s Lowtec is one, following “&Fate” with the stripped-back simplicity of “The Rhythm (Remix 2)”. Fellow countryman Kassem Mosse is contributes “IP Mirrors”, which foregoes his usual deep, lush sounds in favour of a more experimental approach that in parts is almost reminiscent of grime.
Stream: Kassem Mosse – Broken Patterns (Nonplus Records)
Boddika and Joy Orbison return with “Beats Me” and “Big Room Tech House DJ Tool – Tip!” respectively. The latter – whose title is a nod at the description tendencies of the Hard Wax team – was a controversial omission from the digital release and is the latest in a long line of Joy Orbison tracks with almost mythical appeal. Joy Orbison has always had a knack for vocals and proves this once again with “Tip!”. However, it is the shaking bass which really steals the show, building the track away from its hauntingly empty beginnings to its hypnotic climax.
Supporting the Nonplus stalwarts is an array of renowned talents. Pearson Sound’s “Quivver” is as uneasy as its title suggests; its rugged, peripatetic percussion and stabbing synths gloriously frantic in effect. Four Tet’s inclusion on the tracklist was perhaps a surprise to many and while “For These Times” is perhaps out of keeping with the overall dystopian feel of the compilation, as a standalone track it is undoubtedly a highlight. Jazzy in feel, “Times” fuses a driving groove with Hebden’s signature layered percussion. What ensues is simply glorious. It is left to Martyn to conclude proceedings, something that his melancholic tech house burner “Bad Chicago” does this with aplomb.
Nonplus has never been a label to shy away from change or transformation. The very inclusion of Instra:mental and dBridge’s “White Snares” is testament to this. Initially shunned for a release, Boddika’s inclusion of the track is a nice nod to the label’s drum & bass roots. Its disparity with much of the album is testament to the distance Nonplus has travelled in just three years. As a collection of individually superb tracks, “Think & Change” excels. Taking into consideration the broader picture of the itinerant nature of recent UK-centric electronic music, this is a body of work which manages to superbly encapsulate its time and place.
Stream: Basic Soul Unit – Untoward (Nonplus Records)
Think & Change is available now on Nonplus.
Words by Matt Gibney, 29 March 2013. 2 comments