Sun 07/02/16

Let’s make this clear straight from the off. Hip-hop wouldn’t be the same without J Dilla, and that’s no gross overstatement.

From the boom-bap of Slum Village to the neo-soul movement he pioneered as part of the Soulquarians, Dilla’s musical fingerprints linger everywhere. As an artist ahead of his time—and a unique hybrid of producer, rapper, songwriter, and singer—Dilla amassed a staggeringly deep discography over the course of his career. The life, sound and soul of Jay Dee lives on today through the records he created with the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Common, Janet Jackson, D’Angelo, and De La Soul, to name but a few.

Perhaps even more remarkable is the way in which his musical legacy continues to grow even today. In the years since his passing on February 10 2006, his contributions to music have leapt from the background into the foreground.

February 7 marks the tenth anniversary of Donuts, the 31-track magnum opus that Dilla produced from his hospital bed in Los Angeles. Countless tributes, beat tapes, and interpretations of Donuts are proof of the way it resonated.

An essential listen, regarded by many to be Dilla’s crowning achievement. In the years since its release, the project has only grown in legend.

To mark the decennial of Donuts and Dilla’s passing, we pay homage to one of the greatest producers to ever do it by speaking with his family, friends, and close collaborators. From Dilla’s brother Illa J to his closest musical friends in Frank N Dank, what follows is an insight into what the legend James Dewitt Yancey meant to those who knew him, and to those who channel his energy today. From Conant Gardens to the world.

ILLA J
“James will always be my big bro.We both grew up in a musical family so our musical connection was there long before I recorded any song over my brother’s beats. Technically my first recording with my brother was when I was 13, but it extends way beyond that. I just miss my brother James.

I was always writing, since I was eight or nine, but I never had the courage to have my brother hear some of my stuff—especially since he was professional at it. When I finally had the courage to say some of my raps in front of James and my other brother, he was like, “Okay, I’m going to get you some studio time.” It was a surprise when he sent a limo to the house with some money in it, and I had a session at the studio scheduled for me.

That was the first time I ever recorded, and even then he taught me about rapping. He gave me little pointers. He wouldn’t necessarily change my rhymes or anything, but he would say, “Maybe you want to put some space there,” and other things like that to make my delivery right.

“He was what you call the complete package. He produces, sings, raps, writes songs, performs—everything.”

So much of his work is production, but he was also really good writer. He also had a good singing voice, but he just never got a chance to do much of it in his solo stuff. He was what you call the complete package. He produces, sings, raps, writes songs, performs—everything.

Choosing my favourite Dilla production is always the hardest question, but I would have to say “Runnin’”. When it came out it was such a big moment. It was when a lot of good things started popping up and you realised, ‘whoa James is really doing this on a big level’. It brings back so many memories because it became the theme song for New York Undercover. At that time that show was a pretty big deal, and that theme song was big! Everyone was like, “Yo, James’ song was on New York Undercover, that’s crazy!”

The music video for “Drop” came out around that time too, and when we would order videos on The Box we would order that. I was about 9 years old in ’95 and I knew what was going on, but not in depth. I didn’t quite realise the impact he was making on music.

Looking back James seemed more like an industry secret. If anyone knew him, it was from Slum [Village], but people didn’t know a lot of the production he did until later. People have gone back in time and checked all his music, like “Oh I didn’t know he did Tribe, I didn’t know he did this, I didn’t know he did that.”

You can think of it negatively, but in a crazy way it’s better that it happened this way. Being an introvert, I don’t know if he would have been able to handle the fame. Dr. Dre was the first ones who to be recognised as a producer that rapped.

When Kanye did The College Dropout, that was one of the times where they took a rapping producer seriously. Technically, my brother was ahead of all that. ”

 

BAHAMADIA
“J Dilla was, is and will always be our culture’s preeminent sound designer. In terms of producing as an electronic musician, no-one else has/had the ability to compose tunes or articulate compatible cadence, colour, tone and structure the way he did. What Jay was able to accomplish by mastering his gear is barely descriptive beyond brilliance.

Personally though, I favoured him as an MC. I recall seeing him rock it live at Saint Andrews (which was also the first time we met pre-Soulquarian days). Slum were on stage rocking and suddenly they all formed a circle around the mic. As the track started Jay-D was up but couldn’t remember the verse. So he pulled out a black and white composition book and like clockwork WENT IN! T3 and Baatin followed suit as if they had rehearsed the choreography and all.

“Amazing, humble, a genius. J Dilla.”

Needless to say he became an instant choice for my all time top five favourites. Period. A few years later, I had the honour of working with him on a remix for my BB QUEEN project. I had also started to receive custom joints from him for my then upcoming LP.

I still have those beats and got a chance to spit the verses and hook to him at Jazzy Jeff’s studio. He snapped like a kid on some basement backpack shit.

He never gave the vibe that he was superior; he was just an authentic b-boy from the “D”. It was a trip how he moved like he was ‘normal’, but he was the furthest from it. Amazing, humble, a genius. J Dilla.”

 

ERIC LAU
“I could write a book about Dilla so I will keep this short. Dilla was a master and is the greatest teacher to music makers of this generation. He changed the way musicians play and how music is made today. I can’t really express how much his music has inspired me and how much it has helped me in my life.

All I can say is that whenever I listen to his music, it makes me feel great and uplifts my spirit. It’s always a great day when I hear a Dilla beat that I haven’t come across before, and I wish I could hear all his music again like it was the first time. In his short time on this earth he left us with so much music and that is a testament to his dedication and incredible work ethic. I pray that I can contribute even 1/1000000 of what he did one day.

Much love to the whole Yancey family and those who continue to spread his music to world.”

 


B+
“For a lot of personal reasons, my favourite picture of Dilla was the one I took of him and Madlib on the floor. The fact that we managed to get Dilla out to Brazil was a really big deal. We didn’t realise how sick he was, but I knew the trip meant a lot to him. Ma Dukes told me and Eric [Coleman] how much it meant to him. Just to get him there; even if he was only going to be there for a few days.

He had to go home on an emergency flight, but that was one of the best things to happen through my photography.

I was screening a film at a music festival, and they asked us to help put together a show to close out the festival. They were interested in getting Madlib down there, and we had ham there before back in November of 2002 to make a film called Brasilintime. Madlib was already a Brazilophile, and so it didn’t take much to convince him to go and dig for records. When we were making the Brasilintime, the first sample we could find was Dilla flipping “Saudade Vem Correndo” for Pharcyde’s “Runnin'”.

“We thought it would be amazing to get Dilla digging in Brazil”

We thought it would be amazing to get Dilla digging in Brazil, talking about Brazilian music and how it would be an amazing addition to the film. When the opportunity came for Madlib to go to Brazil for the show, we all went to lunch and got Madlib on board.

When we were driving Madlib back to his crib, we were like, “You can bring a DJ, there’s room to bring people with you,” and I don’t know if it was from me, Eric, or Otis [Madlib] himself, but it was on everyone’s to bring Dilla. [Madlib] called Dilla, and everyone in the car could hear how excited he was.

A month later we were all on the plane to Brazil. Dilla was really sick, but he never used to talk about that shit. We visited him in the hospital when he was in a coma, but he would always play it off. I remember picking him up on the way to the airport, and I remember him walking out to the van, and being like, “Wow, he’s fucking fucked.” But he went to Brazil, and it was just remarkable to see him there. He looked different, and to be honest the flight there nearly killed him. We got him out of the hotel to go digging at a record store right by the hotel.

I just took a few frames of him and Madlib looking at 45s, and remember Dilla going back to the hotel and playing them for me, Otis and Eric. It was terribly tragic because the next day we had to put him on a flight home, but for those few hours it was kind of magical.

To have the opportunity to help a cat go somewhere he clearly had an affinity with was amazing.

Dilla died like a year later. We were there in April 2005, and he died the following February. At the funeral, Ma Dukes told us “You guys looked after him in Brazil, and you don’t know how much that meant to him”. After the trip, all he would talk about was Brazil and how amazing it was. For us we were a bit upset like, “Dilla, don’t put your life at risk on our account. If you’re sick don’t fucking travel and shit, because god forbid.”

He was super grateful to have an opportunity, but that photo was just…It was just such a fucking great, historic moment to spend those few days, so that was my favourite.

To me, you can speculate about cats being able to channel, being able to link to something beyond. Madlib didn’t learn that in school. How did Dilla channel that rhythm? It’s just one of those magical things. There’s something about cats that listen that hard. African-American cats that listen that hard, that you can’t explain it in words.

That’s one of those beautiful examples.”

 

PHAT KAT
“One of my many favourite moments with Dilla was when we recorded Dedication To The Suckers EP. We recorded it in its entirety in 90 minutes, and still had time to hit the strip club.”

“Dilla was the the most Yoda-esque producer I’ve ever witnessed.”


DAVE COOLEY (ELYSIAN MASTERS)
“Dilla was the the most Yoda-esque producer I’ve ever witnessed. The wildest part of working with him was that he never did anything twice. He was so skilled and able to commit to personnel, takes or mixes with no second guess. His mind’s eye held a map to the final arrangement at all times, and he would always reach “X marks the spot” in the fewest steps.

One time J ran through a series of mutes/dropouts with me during a mix, and he would just call each one out, measure by measure, trimming drum elements and muting specific tracks with micro-precision.

He systematically ran through them like a boot camp obstacle course, nailing each one as he went, without ‘trying’ or touching up any of them. In about 5 minutes he had completed 20 or so drops, each with slight variations on the 30 track elements. Then he just sat back and said “that’s it…” with a wry smile and a sideways head nod. Looked like he spent maybe one or two calories on it, just a cinch for him.

I miss him very much and I could swear he’s still here and listening in while we’re working on his back catalogue to this day.”

 

KARRIEM RIGGINS
“J Dilla’s music is still so inspiring to me. I feel honoured to have had a chance to work with and known such a beautiful soul; the person who created this amazing sound and set the bar extremely high for music. I remember recording drums for Fantastic Vol. 2 on the song “2u4u” and recording a take which I didn’t think was any good. Before I had time to enter the control room to listen back, he had already mixed the drums. Genius!”

 

OH NO
“I first met Dilla at the Jaylib video shoot. It was the joint with Frank N Dank and Wildchild. It was early in the morning and I was starving after smoking, so I went to check the food truck. Dilla was in there tearing some donuts up. From there we were just tripping, like, “Oh shit, that’s Dilla!” and he was like, “Oh shit, that’s Oh No!”

He already knew who I was and he actually had a couple of my records. From there I invited him to smoke a blunt and he was down so we chopped it up in the car. He was like, “let’s do a joint, let’s do something,” so I said, “what’s up with a beat tape,” and history was made from there.

After “The Move”, I started going out to LA all the time. The medical card just got popping, and we were hitting a new spot everyday. After we would hit the spots, we would stop by Dilla’s and smoke him out. He would give us mad beat tapes and stuff, and I was telling him, “I got crazy games and shit, I just made a controller.” He said he had to come through and see that shit, and he literally came through a couple days later.

We were actually playing MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) and I was showing him all the arcade games I had. We were playing Punch Out and other random games. He was definitely a gamer though, playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and I was hooking him up with codes. Unlimited life and all that. He had the Playstation, and he bought a computer from my homeboy that had pretty much every single arcade game on there. I’m pretty sure he was going to chop up all that music.”

 

KAYTRANADA
“To me J Dilla is easily in the top five to ever do it — dead or alive. I learned about Dilla through ATCQ when I first heard “Find A Way”. That song was so hypnotic to me and was the turning point of my musical taste. Someone later referred me to the beat-tapes (MPC3000 & 64 Beats), where I think you could hear the best of him. During my high school days, I was banging them tapes every day and enjoying it because there was nothing like it at the time. There were a lot of copycats lurking on the Internet, but no-one even got close. The music was so great that I couldn’t study for my exams. It’s all good though. I was studying Dilla instead.”

 

MASEO (DE LA SOUL)
“My last encounter with Dilla was in Detroit during the very last Okayplayer tour. After the show I rode about 30-40 minutes to his house with Frank N Dank. I spoke on things that he was a little reluctant to discuss, which actually brought us closer together. He didn’t think I knew about the lack of acknowledgement he’d had for a lot of his Tribe productions. I spoke about it in so much depth that he was actually both relieved and elated. He kept turning to Frank N Dank saying, “Ayo, you hear this nigga? You hearing this nigga? PREACH nigga!”

It seemed new to him that he’d be hearing this from somebody outside his close circle; outside the family. I mean his extended industry family as opposed to his nucleus family. I also got to build more with his fam—Ma Dukes, Karriem Riggins, and Dez Andres. It was a serious night; a good night.

The discussion about him not getting his due kind of opened up a Pandora’s box. The song credit issue never really went away, but it was acknowledged in a big way that night. That night brought a lot of instant validity to what he was trying to explain to his D fam in private over the years.”

 

LEFTO
“On December 8th 2005, I invited Jay Dee, Rhettmatic, Frank N Dank and Phat Kat to Ghent, Belgium. It was Dilla’s last tour, and we all remember him performing in a wheelchair while killing it on the mic. He stayed two more days before leaving for the United States and I got a phone call from his tour manager asking if I could bring my MPC to his hotel room. I had a black MPC 3000, which was Dilla’s favorite drum machine.

Dilla was weak, laying in bed with gloves on, but once he saw the MPC it’s like he found the strength within to slowly stand up and sit at the desk in his room. He had a little iPod sound system, and the cable [plugged] right into the MPC. And there he was making a beat!

In the photo you can see a shirt around Dilla’s neck. The shirt said ‘Get Well Soon Dilla’ and was signed by everyone in the room that night. I gave it to him on stage.”


FRANK (FRANK N DANK)
“I met Dilla in 1986. I was in 6th grade and he was a grade ahead in 7th grade. I moved into the neighberhood, but he and Dank and a couple of the other homies had knew each other from elementary school. As middle school kids, there wasn’t him making beats or anything. Our friendship built from there, and we became what people would call best friends.

I was there for most of the significant moments when he first started making beats. Me and him actually first started DJing parties before we started making beats. He taught me how to DJ, and then we started doing parties. That’s how we made our high school money.

At that time he started messing with beats, but not with machines. He had two dual cassettes that he would make beats with. From there it was a gradual progression. We were all dancers, so of course we would dance a lot and do our little parties. Then me and Dilla would DJ the neighborhood parties for all our friends, and it just progressed from there. For a long time I was only DJing, then Slum convinced me to pick up a microphone.

I can’t pick a favourite Dilla production, but I really dig “Breathe and Stop”, it’s an amazing production. The version that Q-Tip put out had a different arrangement and was mixed by Q. The original Dilla did—the one we used to ride around to in the truck—was a little dirtier and different. “Breathe and Stop” is really crazy to me.

I was lucky enough to be able to be a fly on the wall for tons of situations. We were in New York, Manhattan in ‘99, early 2000s. Dilla was mixing Like Water for Chocolate with Common. He got a call from Q-Tip, who was like, “Yo, where are you at? I’m at Sony Studios, come over here. I got something I need to show you.” Me and Dilla hopped in the cab, went over to the studio. Tip was recording Amplified, and Tribe had just put out The Love Movement.

We went over to the studio, and for me, I was like, “Ooh, I’m about to hear some brand new Tip shit.” I had heard bits and pieces Dilla would play for me, but not like this.

“We walked in the studio and Janet Jackson was sitting on the couch.”

We went into the studio and Tip was like, “I got a little surprise for you. Something I want to show you.” We walked in the studio and Janet Jackson was sitting on the couch. This was before Dilla and Janet did the record, and she had a gigantic sex book. Her and her girl were sitting there reading it. For me it was so crazy. I was just looking and staring at her. It was everything you saw on TV—the voice, the smile, the smell, all of that was right there. I had to look at the board to stop staring at her.

On top of that, Tip was playing his new album with all these Jay Dee productions on them. Dilla was just chilling. He was in control and cracking jokes with Janet Jackson. I was like, “Nigga, you so controlled chilling with Janet Jackson. Are you crazy?!”

Q-Tip and Ali did the original of “Got Til It’s Gone”, but never got credit for it because that’s how the music business was back then. Dilla got the remix. It was a rare thing that he got that remix. They actually put that remix on two separate singles—like the single after that, the remix was on the b-side of that too. That’s the meeting that made the remix happen.”


KING BRITT
“I remember it being either 1999 or 2000. I was working on Sylk130 Re-Member’s Only at Larry Gold’s studio in Philly. I was in Room A and Common, Ahmir and James Poyser were in James’ studio. James had come in to record some piano and vocoder bits for my album, and Common heard the vocoder like “whoa”. James borrowed the Korg VC10 until he got his.

That same week, I saw Dilla sitting on the couch so I properly introduced myself. He was very cool and said he liked “When The Funk Hits The Fan”. He was there working on Electric Circus with James and crew. A very innocent meeting and a humbling experience.

My favourite Dilla track has to be “Purple (J Dilla/Ummuh Remix)”; so slept on as one of the hardest beats.”

 

DANK (FRANK N DANK)
“Dilla liked to go to the strip club seven days a week. Seriously, it’s not a game. Chocolate City. The energy. We did the Welcome 2 Detroit album in there. After we left there and had a good time, we would go straight to the studio. He would immediately put his headphones on and ask “Yo Frank, Dank, y’all got some shit?” Then he would take the headphones off and click the sub button to turn the music on. We would be like “goddamn” and bang out to the morning.

“We worked for years in the basement to come up and resurface. Blood, sweat, and tears.”

We’d wake up and have one rolled up for him; turn on the music, mix it, and ride out to it. We would record two songs a night, pop a bottle, mix and master it the next morning, and put it away. We worked for years in the basement to come up and resurface. Blood, sweat, and tears.

Dilla’s studio was at the crib. You weren’t coming to that motherfucker. It was invitation only. After we built the studio in Dilla’s crib, niggas weren’t coming in there. You had to be really privileged to come there.

Another story involves my first trip to New York with Dilla. Common was making Chocolate for Water. Guess who was in the studio session…?

Legendary engineer Bob Powers. Wendy Goldstein, my A&R for MCA Records, Black Thought, ?uestlove, Jaguar Wright, Hi-Tek, Talib [Kweli], Common and Dilla. You know who came in the door? Motherfucking Dave Chappelle. Dilla was just smiling and laughing and shit. Then I went outside and Busta and Case were just chilling. I’m starstruck; literally tripping but trying to keep my composure.

Dilla laughing and shit, like “I told you nigga.”

Next Tuesday, we’ll be presenting a special podcast recording about the importance of J Dilla’s seminal Donuts LP.

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Sat 06/02/16


Let’s cut straight to the chase. This is Gang Fatale poster boy, Neana, laying it on thick for Night Slugs‘ ongoing white label series. And as has been the norm, this is no flair business — a two-toned release with a tag team of limb rattlers, each as utterly alluring and stylishly glossed as its coequal. “Da Foxtrot” gets the bootleg treatment this time round; already a glacial, R&G love-in from Bok Bok’s Your Charizmatic Self EP (2014). Neana implants some brawn into the original, elevating it from baby-making BGM to a prime time ballroom rump-shaker.

As ever, this is a vinyl only limited run for the mix masters among you. Plunge the buy button in anticipation of its February 26th arrival date.

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Fri 05/02/16

This instalment of Residents’ Hour is our first from south of the Equator. Kali, the woman behind some of Sydney’s most renowned parties, takes us through her ethos and gives us a peak into her musical world. 

Picnic was started about eight years ago by myself and Vi Hermens who now runs the Motorik parties and label in Sydney. After two years we decided to go in different directions. The first weekend of running Picnic by myself we co-presented Maurice Fulton on a Saturday night and Derrick May doing a five-hour set on the Sunday night –  in two different clubs! I guess that really sums up my approach to Picnic – a little insane and ballsy, but with a strong focus on quality music and no strong focus on one genre or tempo – but I do love the parties to flow so programming is super important to me. It’s always been about the music first and with a confidence that if you build it they will come (most of the time!) so I book accordingly.

I’ve been DJing since I was 18 years old, and without getting into specifics that was in the 90s. My love of DJing stems from an even deeper love of the dancefloor and dancing in general. With that at the core, I don’t wanna fuck up a dancers night – not as the promoter or DJ or the booker of other DJs. That can come down to quite a few things, but obviously sound, lighting and the equipment are a crucial starting point.

Obviously I don’t only live on the dancefloor or between monitor speakers, and in reality it’s not always a perfect end result. The learning curve is often steep and although sometimes shit does just go wrong, the real satisfaction comes from when it doesn’t. I love a challenge and I love making something better than it was last time. However, real magic happens when there is some magic there to begin with. Same applies to DJing. I personally find being straight and sober pretty key to creating magic, but like DJing and producing nice environments, practice makes perfect with that too.

I mainly credit working with amazing people as the real inspiration behind wanting to always get better.

 “One of the best decisions I’ve made was a series of parties we run called One Night Stand. It was off the back of an empty dance floor and strong reckoning that I had to focus on the party, not just DJs from overseas.”

Everything started with touring Darshan Jesrani and Felix Dickinson – massive influences of mine. Since then we’ve had KiNK play for us couple of times, Underground Resistance presents Timeline lift the roof off a basement club, DJ Harvey play at Sydney Festival and also DJ Garth, Neville Watson and a man that makes a lot of sense to me – Andrew Weatherall – all play that same stage. I’ve had Daniel Wang dance around the stage of Sydney Town Hall with Darshan, Tin Man play a sweaty warehouse, Pantha Du Prince laugh when I actually got his rider (“hehe, it’s a joke!”), cried happy tears more times then I can count, and generally had some of the best times of my life. Of course with good comes bad, but thankfully doing what you love does sweeten the harder times – eventually.

At the very least, it definitely inspires positive change and one of the best decisions I’ve made was a series of parties called One Night Stand. It was off the back of an empty dance floor and a strong reckoning that I had to focus on the party, not just DJs from overseas. It’s a pretty successful party and we’ve had well known Australians like Late Nite Tuff Guy / DJ HMC and Tornado Wallace to local dons like Simon Caldwell and Ben Fester all own their eight hour set! Andrew Weatherall is the only international DJ we’ve had to date.

This recording is during the first couple of hours of my own One Night Stand – first time I’d booked myself for it. We celebrated the 5th birthday in May 2015. There was sweat dripping off everything, the power cut out three times because it was too hot and I could have never planned to prevent that  – but wow it was eight hours of sweaty, sweaty heaven.

Our next Residents’ Hour sees us head approximately 15,000 miles north, back up over the Equator to the Gulf of Finland. 

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Fri 05/02/16


Purveyors of all things tropical – Sofrito are currently readying the release of the ninth instalment in their Sofrito Super Singles Series. For this outing Basel’s Alma Negra deliver three percussion heavy tracks at the crossroads between organic & electronic sounds, inspired by the Carnival celebrations on the Cape Verdean island of Santiago.

The A-side, “Mageko”, sets it’s foundation on a rolling bassline peppered with manic chants, sounding like a long-lost Afro Disco dub. A surefire weapon on any dance floor, especially considering we’re in the depths various different culture’s carnival season right now.

This one drops February 22nd. Grab the preorder here and keep an eye out for much more from Sofrito later this year.

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Thu 04/02/16

Alex Seidel has been progressively making waves from within the Money $ex Recs crew since releasing his debut EP with them last year. After his cheeky BR cameo, he now joins the Tartelet party – the initial home of M$ co-heads Max Graef and Glenn Astro –  for his second EP in an impressive four-month period. “Secret High” is our pick of the bunch, meshing together the unlikely elements of factory line rhythms on the drum machine, a wobbly bass line reminiscent of acid and straight-up purple house grooves all on one surprisingly cohesive track.

Catch your copy of the release on 28th February via Tartelet.

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Wed 03/02/16

As celebrations are prepped for their tenth birthday and hitting a centenary of releases – 2016 certainly looks strong for AUS Music. It’s only February, but the label are already set to drop their second offering of the year. Huxley now passes the baton to two label favourites, [Marquis] Hawkes & [Timothy] Blake. Both made their debuts on AUS only last year, where the Blake-Hawkes connection had already formed on Blake’s Stormy Search EP. The studio chemistry now continues with the collaborative Love Precipitation EP, consisting of two tracks custom-built for the dancefloor. “Flip a Coin” on the A-side sets the retrospective mood accordingly – elated synth grooves and powerful house chords on the piano, laid over skippety garage rhythms from the polished 909 drums. A big celebratory sound, straight from the turrets of AUS.

Love Precipitation drops February 12th. Exciting AUS birthday celebrations incoming. Stay tuned…

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Tue 02/02/16

Despite his direct descent to the “tape throb” lineage, longtime All City affiliate Buz Ludzha (aka The Cyclist) now looks to break new sonic ground with his latest Basslines for Life EP (following on from his 2014 “Basslines for Death“). These four original tracks play on the EP’s title with gritty drums, factory line rhythms, synth decay and motorised bass lines – marking his first venture with LA label 100% Silk. “Vibradreams” (which also closed Silk’s Upfront last year) exemplifies the new musical realm Buz Ludzha is exploring: cassette textures with pitch-bent acid squelches and synth melodies streaked with gain.

Keep eyes peeled for Basslines for Life dropping soon via 100% Silk.

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Mon 01/02/16

Panthera Krause‘s music-making habits teeter on the precipice between moody and outright fun house; a technique which has done wonders for the Leipzig melody maker since his early years. The mould was set with his weekly podcasts and 2012’s “Cassandra” on local imprint O*RS. Then further solidified via the Yorikke EP in 2013 – a three-track mid-summer trip on Riotvan – and the delights of his Rules EP (2014) on Lobster Theremin and the Laika EP (2014) on Riotvan.

The Uncanny Valley connection was established during the back end of last year. The pumping “Coochie” formed part of the Uncanny Valley: Five Years On Parole release and was quite the foretaste. And here we arrive at “Umami”; a lesson in colourful and let-loose four-to-the-floor which first saw light on our recent Dresden show with the UV fam.

Catch the release on vinyl and Bandcamp on Feb 19 and on digital on Feb 22. Indulge in this pre-order. It’s only right.

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Fri 29/01/16

After gracing our Copenhagian stage last summer, Max Graef‘s right-hand man Kickflip Mike [Joschka Seibt] now joins the Money $ex flanks alongside Glenn Astro, Delfonic, IMYRMIND, Hodini and Alex Seidel as the creator behind their fifth release. Joschka housing his debut EP with the homemade Graef-Delfonic-Astro imprint is a logical move, following on from his previous Box aus Holz dabblings. “Vanilla Seibt” is our top pick from M$R 005‘s five original cuts – gritty drum distortion grounding the celesta of scalic chimes and whistles above, upholding the well versed groove that the Money $ex / Tartelet / Box aus Holz / ava. crews are now known and loved for.

Catch your copy of M$R 005 via the OYE Records store.

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Thu 28/01/16

Lamont has come a long way since his debut on Bristolian imprint Durkle Disco back in 2014. He now returns with his forthcoming Missed Calls EP, headed up on Dusk + Blackdown‘s Keysound Recordings. The opening track “Death Slide” harnesses new frequencies scarcely before heard in grime. Simplistic yet strangely hypnotic, instantly distinctive, Lamont’s beats are weighty and still leave the music’s horizon bear enough for Grim Sickers’ opening questions to soar overhead – Who’s this guy? What’s he doing? – mirroring the thoughts that arise on hearing his curious, refreshing new method of grime production. An original master of his craft, Lamont is a name to keep eyes on for sure.

Catch the Missed Calls EP dropping February 12th. Don’t sleep.

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Fri 22/01/16

Raised in Detroit, later shaped in Berlin and New York, Rioux‘s productions are what he describes as “labyrinthine”  – merging the digital with the natural in a surrealist pop form. Following on from a collaborative endeavour with an astrophysicist and a shape-shifting collage video, Rioux’s first offering for 2016 comes in the form of “Prime Matter”.

~4 minutes of Hallowe’en-esque house music, peppered throughout with echoing steel drums, a slowly blossoming bassline and haunting vocals. This enigmatic track builds on Rioux’s notion of “a state of energy in its raw, potential form”, and the pre-empted state of being on the cusp of a great transformation, and the “test” that it comes with.

“Prime Matter” drops via Human Pitch on February 5th. Head this way to get your pre-orders in.

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Fri 22/01/16

2016’s second edition of Residents’ Hour comes from Charlie Smooth, resident of the notorious Get Deep party that takes place in Berlin’s ://about blank club. He served up a mix so jam-packed with variety, it spooled over to almost double the indicated hourlong capacity. Dive in below; and read on to discover Get Deep’s story and what the DJ residency spot means to Charlie.

“At Get Deep, we present our vision of contemporary dance music, and contribute this to Berlin’s blooming club scene. It is this exact notion that triggered the birth of our club night. Personally, I don’t like to compare myself with others. It’s hard for me to say why club goers have chosen us for so many years, as every club night is unique in its own right. It could have something to do with the fact that we identify ourselves first and foremost with the music that we present, as bookers as well as DJs. Let me take you back to 2009, when we had our first night. The promoter landscape looked quite different; and the soulful, old-school flavoured music was still a niche. We took this opportunity to go for the sound that we believe in, and it turned out that there many like-minded people who gladly supported us.

“Another reason for the continuous support we receive is the fact, that our team is very devoted, hardworking and responsible and we try to create long lasting relationships with all our partners. In a way Get Deep was never a mass sensation or a “one trick pony”. We were focused on a slow, continuous growth and self-actualization and in the same time managed to stay down to earth. We also had the luck to be one of the first promoters in ://about blank, which is the perfect venue for our party. We grew together with the venue, the way we grew together with many of the artists that we presented: Hunee, San Soda, Max Graef, Glenn Astro and the Uncanny Valley guys, with whom we worked before they became huge.”

“In a way we became trendsetters. When other promoters tell me they were being inspired by our parties and started to promote a similar sound, I don’t see it as a threat to our identity but more as a compliment and also a reason to constantly reinvent ourselves. That is why on our next party, we present only artists that have never played at Get Deep before. Maybe the most important reason why we are still around 6 years later is that we love and we truly believe in what we do.

“I’m grateful for the chance to present my music in this mix, and I wanted to make it very personal and authentic, squeezing in my musical persona into 1 ¾ hours. In my opinion, the selection will always trump the actual mixing. That’s why I focused mainly on the tracklist. The selection of genres is as wide as possible, with release dates ranging from the late 1970s up to modern day: dreamy, obscure tracks with a slight touch of the Balearic and the Italo; the soulful disco and house I am often associated with; vintage porn film soundtracks; Yugoslavian soul; old rocky West End; a bit of Brazil, tropical and some afro disco; and even one or two DJ Harvey tunes. One of my goals was to also include tracks from artists that I want to support: Inkswel, Wolf Müller, Africaine 808, Max Graef and Glenn Astro, to name a few.

“You must carefully, respectfully lead into the next artist’s moment. It’s about getting the balance right.”

“The best thing about a warm-up set is that you have complete freedom to experiment with genres and tempos. Speaking generally, it very much depends on the situation, where I’m playing and who I open for. A warm-up for Floating Points would be different to one for Sadar Bahar or KiNK. Another important thing is on which floor. In ://about blank, opening the garden is different from opening the techno room. You have to build up the energy, but also know when to pace yourself. You must carefully, respectfully lead into the next artist’s moment. It’s about getting the balance right.

“I enjoy having the opportunity to play the obscure tracks seldom heard in clubs. It’s harder to play slow but still keep the people grooving. That was the approach that I had for the first part of this mix. Dego and Theo Parrish are masters of that game. The goal is to create the right amount of energy but not get too ecstatic, so that the person after you can still take things to a higher level. Mixing different genres is paramount for me. It makes things more interesting, more lively, especially at the beginning of the night when there are only a few people in the venue. Once I reach a certain point of excitement which both the crowd and I consider satisfactory, I try not to go beyond. I like to end with a very long track that is driving, but also kind of relaxed. Like the quiet before the storm, that the following DJ will create.”

Stay tuned for our first Japanese edition of Residents’ Hour coming soon. Recap on the whole of our RH series; and check our playlist of mixes by all the featured residents.

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Thu 21/01/16
For tickets visit The Barbican Centre

We went behind the scenes to document the creation of Boiler Room and Ninja Tune commissioned collaboration between Actress and the London Contemporary Orchestra.

The premiere of this live performance will take place at the Barbican Centre on February 10th 2016.

Directed by Angela Stephenson

In partnership with Ninja Tune, the Barbican Centre, the London Contemporary Orchestra and Werkhaus. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

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Wed 20/01/16

This year, we’re returning to Sugar Mountain Festival in Melbourne for a very special live broadcast. Joining the bill will be Beats In Space lynchpin Tim SweeneyTom Trago, Florian Kupfer, Jnett and Laila Sakini – with the prestigious video artist and Aussie native Nic Hamilton doing us the honour of creating visuals for Boiler Room’s stage at the festival. Here, we dive in a little further to see what Hamilton and his work are really about, and what he’s got in store for Sugar Mountain, as his first creative venture into physical space.

Instrumental to the visual identities of Actress, Lukid and Night Slugs – Nic Hamilton’s hyper-glossy and immersive futurist worlds fuse CG, film, music and spatial design with unparalleled execution. Leaving a large digital footprint via his warped music videos, the quiet achiever finally steps out into the physical space with a comprehensive set design for BR’s stage Sugar Mountain Festival.

Hamilton will show a 10-hour reel which deconstructs his existing videos, editing room offcuts and other experiments into a vibrant, buzzing compilation of moving pattern and colour. Screening them on multiple 2.4m x 1.2m LED totems, the coarse pixelated visions are neutralised by adjacent walls of live foliage. A recurring theme in his work, Hamilton explains that the soft vertical gardens offset the harder, brighter architectural and spatial geometry of the footage. “It’s a shared ideal that people could work online remotely from a living jungle; cool, calm and disconnected from office and constructed environments. The feeling that – ultimately – technology should be able to link into and support our existing natural ecosystems, and not vice versa.” Hamilton’s clip for Bok Bok and Sweyn Jupiter’s “Papaya Lipgloss” touches on a similar concept – where oozing plant sap powers the track’s Yamaha DX7, and greenhouses are the energy source for a seemingly infinite server room.

He continues to fantasise of a treechange and living on a bush block in remote Tasmania, pending faster Internet availability. Surprisingly neither sci-fi film nor literature have played a role in forming his utopian ideas. He’s seen neither Blade Runner nor 2001, instead citing modern sculpture art, TV and the Internet as influences – while video game trailers and gameplay clips also provide important visual cues. “Recently I’ve been watching a lot of fighting games for the backgrounds. The 8-bit cityscapes of Street Fighter 2 and Streets of Rage, and watching how they’ve developed through to Marvel vs. Capcom and Tekken.”

From the urban landscape of decayed transmission towers featured in the Actress’ “Grey Over Blue” video, to the sweeping survey of Lukid’s vacant rave lite warehouse, Hamilton’s progressive 3D and animation skills are reluctantly indebted to his day job in architectural film. “I can’t make a living off just music videos at the moment, so I rely on my dark corporate secret a fair bit. Property development is depressing, and that’s the area I work in. It’s quite a conservative sphere.” With longterm aspirations to design his cold virtual environments full time, he’ll hopefully be rolling out industrial spaces and grow rooms with satisfying repetition soon.

Left to right: Stills from Actress’ “Grey Over Blue” and Lukid’s “Nine”

Noting his impressive international résumé which stemmed from a 3D animation for Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland in 2012, you could easily mistake the Melbourne artist as English or American. Most of Australia’s famous videographers developed a folio of local product prior to making a name for themselves abroad, yet Hamilton seemingly went straight to the top. He explains, “I hung out with a lot of these people when I was based in London and those real-life meetings filtered back into the Internet as I moved away.” E-mailing a fan-made video to Actress was the catalyst of their ongoing transcontinental collaborations, before Night Slugs bossman Bok Bok messaged him directly on Twitter, prompting the techno-Atlantis record cover and trailer for L-Vis 1990‘s “Ballads“.

Artist projects have ranged from entirely collaborative to not at all. “Often I’ll have an idea that I’ve been working on where this goes with that. Other times – with Alex Sushon [Bok Bok], for instance – there are a lot of phone calls and e-mails. He’s almost like an art director for me.” Irrespective of the artist’s involvement, his focused creative process will dissect how each track was made, right down to every sample and drum machine model. Hamilton attests that he genuinely clicks with everyone he works with, without being falsely diplomatic. “That said, Bok Bok has a really interesting view of the world – and how technology, connectivity, popular culture and the built environment fit together, which resonates with me.”

“Ultimately – technology should be able to link into and support our existing natural ecosystems, and not vice versa.”

Hamilton’s non-narrative optical overloads seem to come at a perfect time, as the advent of televised music video dissipates and online viewers become accustomed to YouTube music that’s merely accompanied by stills. “Things have splintered so far from traditional music videos,” he says in agreement. “The static image is plenty enough for me. Not all music needs a visual. Sometimes it can water it down. Music videos are often getting caught up in purely being promotional content. It’s definitely splintering sideways with online art sites – like Sedition selling videos for iPads, and Instagram accounts uploading 10-second snippets.” Of these new platforms, he seems less than enthused by the growing interest which galleries have in his art form. “I’m suspicious of white space galleries and that whole art scene. I hate pretentious video art. Where’s the craft in it? Some people just put a spinning sphere in there. I prefer the slightly commercial and more mainstream platforms.”

Enclosing Tim Sweeney, Tom Trago, Jnett, Florian Kupfer and Laila Sakini in his bio-tech wonderland, the ambitious set design is a rare opportunity for Hamilton to dream in the physical space, while feeding back into the inescapable Internet platform and taking Boiler Room’s choppy, urban backdrop visuals to dizzying new heights.

You can catch Nic Hamilton’s visual delights at Sugar Mountain Festival – alongside Tim Sweeney, Tom Trago, Jnett, Florian Kupfer and Laila Sakini – on the 23rd January. Head here to tune into our broadcast, and if you’re lucky enough to be in Melbourne for the festival itself, RSVP here.

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Wed 20/01/16

2016 is Pedestrian‘s year. After a ~yearlong hiatus from music-making, Pedestrian returns next month with the four-track concept Circadian Rhythms EP, marking the debut release on his Dama Dama label (co-owned with the Maribou State boys). The label compatriots unite on the EP’s closing track, “JNT”. A warmly welcomed collaboration of synths and strings slowly building to a two-stepping peak, following on from Pedestrian’s cameo on their Portraits LP last summer.

Circadian Rhythms EP marks the first release on Dama Dama, dropping on February 12th.

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Tue 19/01/16


Gilles Peterson-endorsed Bristolian, Typesun, makes his next chess move following on from a queue of primo productions over the last few years. “The PL”, which featured the softly softly croons of an anonymous vocalist, was an undisputed 2013 jewel. “Water Song” was a swaddling pool of Latin loveliness; so good we had to take a dive ourselves. Now he’s recruited MOBO-award winning jazz quartet Empirical’s Lewis Wright (vibraphone) and top guitar session player Miles James alongside a group of Bristol’s finest musicians for “Make It Right”. Smoke-infused pinned down by Typesun’s finely-honed production chops; it’s the ideal mid-night foot-shifter.

Ready your shuffle for the February 5 release date via Don’t Be Afraid.

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Mon 18/01/16

Trans A.M’s (that full stop is important) debut offering is a class act. Not only is the Speechless EP a twosome of forceful techno guzzlers at its core, but whatever other influences they’ve shovelled in only seem to strengthen the deal. Example #1 being the title track. “Speechless” knits together broken, bass driven, robotic grooves with traces of dancehall dem bow riddim with a disastrous outcome. Catch it when it lands on January 30 via SPE:C.

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Sat 16/01/16

Raised in Detroit, later shaped in Berlin and New York, Rioux‘s productions are what he describes as “labyrinthine”  – merging the digital with the natural in a surrealist pop form. Following on from a collaborative endeavour with an astrophysicist and a shape-shifting collage video, Rioux’s first offering for 2016 comes in the form of “Prime Matter”.

~4 minutes of Hallowe’en-esque house music, peppered throughout with echoing steel drums, a slowly blossoming bassline and haunting vocals. This enigmatic track builds on Rioux’s notion of “a state of energy in its raw, potential form”, and the pre-empted state of being on the cusp of a great transformation, and the “test” that it comes with.

“Prime Matter” drops via Human Pitch on February 5th. Head this way to get your pre-orders in.

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Fri 15/01/16

Dutch techno veteran Orlando Voorn joins patriotic forces with notable Amsterdam label and distribution house Rush Hour to present his fourth full length album, In My World. Voorn has built a reputation as the key figure to forge links between his native Amsterdam and the techno mothership of Detroit. Voorn’s heritage (or the musical kind, as well as the national) means his partnership with the label comes as no surprise – especially as Rush Hour has formerly distributed releases off his Night Vision label, as well as Voorn contributing tracks to compilations by Gerd Janson and Rick Wilhite.

The release features eleven original tracks all contrasting in mood; from the ~9 minute-long Mogwai-esque journey of the opening “Turn Left Right Here”, to the frenzied loop of scurrying violins against an upbeat 4×4 rhythm in the closing “Lost In Heaven”. The title song lies penultimately in the tracklist, and comes up trumps in our eyes. “In My World” is made up by a strange choice of found sounds and samples which builds a groove, that grips you from its very outset. Voorn uses these layers cleverly, enveloping listeners in a sound that becomes infectious instantaneously. A proud moment (of many) from In My World‘s comprehensive body of work.

In My World drops on January 25th, and is available to pre-order from Rush Hour here.

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Thu 14/01/16

After housing his debut album and latest EP, SW Recordings returns with opus no. 3 from label head and Church co-boss, Seb Wildblood. U (SW003) takes shape as a six-track cassette, on which 100% Silk associate James Booth also makes an appearance. Our track of choice is the penultimate “Bonsai Care”, with its slow-rolling melodies and grounding drum kicks steadily carrying us through ~6.5 minutes of synth-layered laid-back-ness.

U (SW003) drops on cassette form and digitally on February 12th. Pre-order it here.

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