Here's what I have received this month on CD. Get me a copy of yours and we will have a listen and post a thought or three up here. Eventually, we may even create some sort of rating system or somthing. Until then, this is what's on the street this month!
4Star vs Sigma - Bassment Sessions Volume One (Drum N Bass)
Beginning to end, good solid hard driving DnB!
J.A.H. - Eye Matter (DownTempo)
Great downtempo mix with a little minimal Jazz & Ragga. Shaken, not stirred.
J.A.H. - Summer's End (DownTempo)
Good ragga-feelin downtempo, though I found the levels slightly high in a few spots.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
This is a new column we're trying out for a while. The idea is, we are going to randomly ask... random questions and post a select few up here. An idea that I have been fostering for a while, Brent brought it to me and I decided that it should happen. He and I are slowing putting this together and if you would like to help, send us an eMail! For now, on to this month's question. Why ... Do You Dance?
"Because I can dance to any layer, depth, or subtly I hear and it doesn't look like I'm having a siezure"
Crazyglow - Omaha, Ne
Demarkus Lewis feat: Lena Wade - Your Touch - Fair Park Pure Demarkus goodness! This track has lovely textures and a great vocal to boot. Highly Recommended!
Jonn Hawley - Steppin Out - OM CDR once a bootleg now an official part of the OM catalog, this tune gives Kaskade's original a funky upgrade, as only Jonn Hawley does.
Don Tinsley feat Kate Manfull - All Day - CDR A good vocalist is hard to find and this one was no exception. From a church in St. Louis, to the studio, Kate can belt it. Jackin-Jazz-Tech is most common description for the "nu-school jazz" surrounding the vocal.
Jimmy Cook - footsteps - stompy.com - Whoa. Who Da Thunk It?.. Springfield Missouri on the map for house music. But alas Jimmy cook comes out of the hoods with another heater. There are several remixes available at stompy.
Sound Navigators - The Vibe - Olive - Catch The Vibe is one of the hottest piano jams in existence. There is more energy in this tune than a herd of elephants. You better have some serious business to back this baby, cause it will leave people worked up every time.
Jake Childs - Soul Food - Phono Graffiti - Soul inspiration! Quirky, bumpin, funky master piece of work. Almost every time I play this hits the deck.
Morgan Page - What Can You Do For Me - Harmonious Discord - Harmonious Discord, killin it again with the follow-up to Naughty glances. This release is on the deeper vocal side with a sweet Demarkus Lewis Remix.
Pat Nice - My Life with The Thrill Kill Kult - Daisy chain for Satan OH MY GOD! I bought the original when it came out in 1990 and0 have played layered and beat juggled it every since. Then the0 news came down the wire that Pat Nice has done an official remix0 of it. Wow I thought. And Wow it is!
DJ Mes - Lie Detector Blues - Guest House Sanfrandisco housing to the max! Funky Bass line snappng programming and plenty of low-end to keep a backend shakin.
Nick Santillan - Keep Your Head Up High - Late Night Essentials - white Classic vocal house at its finest.
Nick Santillan brings it by the truckload with his; the first release on Late Night Essentials new Sub Label - Deep Cuts.
For more information about Don Tinsley, visit his web site DonTinsley.com or the web site of the band Urban Jazz Naturals .com
PrimEvil - Felipe & Nicholas Bacher - RVL049 – This one is defiantly worth the trip to the sandman. A nice floor chiller after a hard night of bangin’ it to the break of dawn. Bring them down like this, and you will leave them in the happy place.
Cluster - LDC vs The Shredder , Lenny Dee - CLUSTER66 - What can you say about a label that has proved itself over and over? Well at least they are consistant. And this one doesn’t stray away from the pack. A good cruncher that beggs for prime time. Keep your finger on the pulse cause the trigger is bound to get pulled.
Iturnem - Mistress Barbara - IT016 - Who can argue with the mistress of techno. A nice banger with a latin tip. The flip is a bit more latin and a bit less bangin but the baroness would be proud that her minions would still groove to the beat of this drum.
Endangered Species - Kabuto - APE014 – This takes me back to the days of Recycled Plastic. Great minimal tunes to mess with the minds of any average sane person…but who says we are the average sane person anyway?
2004 - Bazz-Dee Waldhaus - 2004-04 – I tell you I put this one on and my jaw dropped, and slowly a tear trickled from my eye. For a guy who has the balls to name the track SAMURAI PIZZA CATS, you know that he has to deliver. And he did just that. And then some. . . and then some. . .and then some.
Wet Music - Misjah - WET021 – a nice driver here. Something good for the build up to the harder floor knocking style we all love. A good groove to get everyone in the mood. Beggin to be laid.
Energy UK - Christian Kouijzer - EUK010 – a nice banger here. A bit more on the acid edge than I have been use to of late. Of course that can be a good thing. This is defiantly one of those things. Also has a NRG mix on the flip side for those of you that are to afraid to play with the big boys.
The Gangsta E.P pt. 1 – Alex Calver, Dj Hardrive, Matt K. and Kid Dynomite. - Glitch records – Now I know this isn’t out yet…but what can I say I got to give you the low down on the newest stuff. So keep an eye out for this one. Nice minimal builds and a good driver for all times. Who can argue with the original gangsta?
Carnage - Switchblade– CARNAGE005 – Nice and mean…what can you say? Hard things like this and if she didn’t want it then.
LK - Lars Klein & Ryuji Takeuchi – LKR03 – Hard and brutal, nice and dirty…can we get some water? I mean common with all that grinding away you got to be thirsty right? Well here is a nice drink of crushed glass for you.
6th Element "Together" (Malinconik Mix)- Link Records - Wow. This is one of those tracks you got somewhere, never played and put away only to be found 2-3 years later, that makes you say, "damn! where the hell has this thing been?" This whole EP is a remix of an old banger and the Malinconik Mix specifically is an amazing progressive tribal BANGER with a huge hands-in-the-air buildup and as any good DJ knows...tribal goes with pretty much anything and drums get people dancing.
Urban "Super Ball" - International House Records - Lately I've had a hard-on for pretty much anything off of IHR. Back in the day the stuff was good, mediocre filler fodder but nowadays Bad Boy Bill has really turned that label around and it shows with this track by veteran producer, "Urban". This has a really funky bass line with a filtered, almost tech, riff that just builds and builds until one main whiplash breakdown and frenzy buildup disrupts the whole track. Lots of room for mixing and tricks.
C-Mos "2 Million Ways" (dub) - EPOS - C-Mos (aka Conga Squad) deliver plenty of funky house...most of it is mediocre funky disco style beats but every now and then you get a jaw dropper like this. An Amazing anthem style house tune that sounds like elements of Casssius with Armand Van Helden, only with a little more danger in the mix via a tech-style bass kick. It's also got a great feel-good breakout that'll get most people up on the floor.
Kadoc "The Nighttrain" (Kosmonova Remix) - Nukleuz - Call me old fashioned but I still love to drop this classic track every now and then to see who on the floor remembers it. Now I've got 3 new remixes of it, courtesy of the peeps at the U.K. super label, Nukleuz. All 3 of the mixes are good in their own rights including the Warp Brothers and Bass Solution mixes but the Kosmonova mix is the one that really sticks out for the house DJ in me. Lots of energy. All Aboard!
Raoul Zerna "Funkin on the Floor" - Cymbol Recordings - Another heavy filtered funker with a great Chicago feel to it. It has a lot of elements that remind me of Olav Basoski's harder works. It features a great techy filtered bass line, really progressive snares and a cool little female vocal snippet proclaiming that the track is " funky". She was right! It is!
Benny Benassi "Able to Love" (sfaction mix) - You - Maybe I'm falling into the pit of "UK Hitz" but I love Benassi's previous work on "Satisfaction"...you remember the award winning track with the girl telling you to touch her that you couldn't get away from last Winter/Spring? Well he's crossed the same vocal effect style of that song over to a much more heavy sounding tech-house BANGER with " Able to Love" and every now and then you just gotta throw down the angry shit to let 'em know you mean bizzness.
Antoine Claraman "What!" - Cyber - So like 4 years ago I got this amazing filtered tech-house white label for free from a distributor that I just couldn't stop playing for 6 months. A couple months ago I order the new Antoine Claraman EP and, lo and behold, it's the same white label from years back. So now I got this just ridiculously sick double routine that I drop with this track, which is just ridiculously sick in itself. It's hard filtered stuff with a sample that goes like "what!", all hard sounding. It'd be great if I had a Dave Chapelle sample of Lil Jon to mix it with! The flip side is dope, too.
Bad Boy Bill & Hatiras "Freq'd" - International House Records - Another excellent track from the IHR camp. In my opinion Hatiras is a bad mutherf***er and you get one badass track here. It's a standard house beat with this cool angry sounding new-wave-ish riff that drives the whole thing. Lots of cool little flip-backs on it make it ultra fun for beat juggling and doubling. Had to buy 2.
N.S.D. Project "in the hood" - Nine Records - I've been really impressed with the music from the Nine label so far. This track is by the N.S.D. project (Nique & Vitamin D ((of the floorfillerz)) and Sean Biddle). It's pretty driving basic house with a really funky riff and some little analog "bloops". Also lots of flip-backs and some interesting drum programming make this one really fun for the active DJ.
Intexor VS. Sinesweeper "Physical" - Spot On - I've had this guy in and out of my crates for 3 years now. It's not an "everyday play" type track but it goes real well with my current top 10. Plus it's one of those tracks that when you drop it, all the house DJs around you start scrambling to trainspot, so you know it's good! It has darker disco-ish riff that pretty much runs the whole thing. It's got a really Joey Beltram type of vibe and that's a good thing.
Infusion - Better World, Audioriot - New single from Australian progressive trio Infusion. The original mix is subtle affair, suitable for a deeper progressive set, but what really does it for me here is the Adam Freeland remix, a nice upbeat breaks rework of the track, making good use of the vocal, and incorporating some nice rock guitar sounds.
Shiloh vs. Marc Mitchel - Run 2 the Light, Method - It's been just0 over a year since Canadian progressive breaks group Shiloh, brothers Justin and Colin Moreh, released their inaugural single "Will You Ever Come Around" on Baroque imprint Electrofly, and they've been on a roll since then, a trend that continues in their new collaboration with progressive house pioneer Marc Mitchel. Both original and dub mixes of this track are excellent, having a slightly trancey feel but with a bit more groove and complexity. In the original mix a male vocal is a bit recessed in the mix, with an absolutely lovely chord progression on the hook. For the dub, they dropped most of the vocals and explored variations on the riff used during the verse.
Hybrid - I'm Still Awake, Distinct'ive Breaks - This is one of the more recent singles from Hybrid's latest album "Morning Sci-Fi" and is one of the songs on the album to feature new vocalist Adam Taylor. The original version isn't aimed at the dance floor, so re mixers Christian J, SUD, and Gray Area were called in to remedy that. In this case the mix I've really been getting into is Gray Area's breaks mix. This mix features the full vocal from the original version and has a great build up to the breakdown which occurs about 2/3 of the way through the track, at which point it drops into an acoustic guitar riff from the original with some added stutter and reverb effects, then adding the bass line& chorus and building back into the full beat with some kind of electric guitar sound in the background. Great peak time breaks track.
Piece Process - Move Your Body b/w What Is Life, Looq - Great0 tribal/tech record out on San Francisco label Looq records. "Move Your Body" has a great upbeat techy moving lead accompanied by the repeated vocal "move your body". "What Is Life", on the flip, has a little more of the tribal feel and has a slightly more laid back feel in the chords/pads used.
Ravi McArthur - Come and Get Some b/w The Test, Visitor - Nice juicy tech house record. "The Test" is a sultry affair with a nice swing to it, while "Come and Get Some" has a little more energy to it (although the percussion still isn't quite as densely packed as the average techno record), with a good dirty bass line.
Slater Hogan & John Larner - Busted Ass Buick EP, Icon - This record from deep house label Icon features three tracks "Mardi Gras", " Flea Market Funk", and "For My Love". They fall on the more funky/upbeat side of deep house and has a bit more organic sound to it with lots of acoustic guitar, bass guitar, and horn sounds.
Joey Youngman - Studio Maintenance EP, Fetish - The tracks on this record have a stripped down and swinging "Chicago house" feel to them. For the most part, the synth riffs and other musical samples take a definite back seat to the beat, and the tracks feature an occasional short sung or spoken vocal.
Demarkus Lewis - Fuzzy Slippers EP, Flat & Round - Two of the tracks on this record-"Crunch" and "Revert to Now"-lend themselves quite well to the end-of-the-night deep house set, whereas the other track "I Can Do What You Do" has a somewhat darker, more techy feel. " Crunch" was the track on here that really caught my attention, with its great melody/chord progression. In the foreground it features a sax lead and some male scat vocals.
Nathan Fake - Watlington Street EP, Saw - Nathan Fake has been making waves in the progressive house community since the release of his single "Outpost" on James Holden's "Border Community" label, but his productions have a definite electro/techno sensibility to them. Now he's here with his two-record release, The "Watlington Street" EP on Satoshi Tomiie's Saw label. (Since when is a two-record release an EP? Don't ask me.) My primary interest in the release is in the two tech house tracks on the first record-"Bored of House" and "Adamedge". " Bored of House" is a laid back swirling affair, while "Adamedge" (my favorite track on this release) is more aggressive. The three tracks on the second record are "Underberg",
"Overdraft", and "Pearyland". I'm not well enough versed in the intricacies of techno to be certain, but I think "Underberg" might be aggressive enough to qualify as a straight-up techno track. The last two tracks of the release go off in different directions, "Overdraft" being almost, but not quite, drum'n'bass, and "Pearyland" being an ambient track.
Kraymon - Just Press Play b/w Time Wasting, Streetwise - This record is an excellent progressive breaks release. "Just Press Play" is a fairly high-energy track with some nice pads, a buzzy bassline, and a somewhat trance-sounding lead. "Time Wasting" is more chilled, but still with some fairly intricate drum work.
How long have you been in the game and what got you interested to be involved in the underground electronic music scene?
Well, I started going to parties back when I was living in Indiana back in '97 or so. I really got into throwing parties when I moved to Iowa in Dec '00. I was 19 at the time. I started the agency about six months after that and began DJing in 2002. However, I didn't feel comfortable playing out until earlier this year.
For the past few years, you have been a very strong force in the Midwest, specifically Iowa. What do you contribute to your success?
Connections…hehe. I've met some really amazing people in this scene and I've been lucky enough to remain good friends with most of them. I'd say friends are the best support in any endeavor; to know you have someone by your side is an amazing feeling. I'd have to say that Chocolate 'TheFreakyAfronaut' from Indianapolis has always been a wonderful influence for me. I attribute a lot of my personal success to him. (Thanks B!) I also think working with a strong crew is always helpful, and I've been very lucky to work with wonderful like-minded people such as Aaron Danielson aka DJ nNothing.
You are the owner of Sublunary Artist Management. What made you want to actually put the time and effort in on your own and was it difficult to get it off the ground?
I started SAM originally for friends that I thought weren't getting the exposure they deserved. I've always been surrounded by amazing talent and I wanted to do everything I could to help them reach their goals. One of the first DJs I represented was K-Step. I remember seeing him play at Indy parties and loving it. Actually, he's the reason I got into DnB. When I started the agency, K-Step was just starting to become more than a regional name and just today I was reading a review in Rinse Magazine by Freaky Flow (the DnB guest reviewer) of K-Step's most recent release on Sudden Def. Watching him get to this point has been one of the best experiences of my life, and if I've done anything to help him in even the slightest way its made everything worth it.
You have an extensive, very impressive, roster. Are you currently accepting promo packages from talent in need of an Agency's services? What advice would give someone about getting the attention of an agency?
Thank you! I am currently accepting promo packs, but probably won't be adding new additions until next year. I think having a well-written bio, an impressive mix, and usually production works are the best ways to get the attention of an agent. Just remember there are thousands of DJs out there; make sure you give an agent the reasons why they should choose you over the hundreds of other demos they get!
What upcoming events and tours is Sublunary currently working on that we should keep our eyes peeled for?
I'm currently working on the Future Prophecies tour. They're an amazing live DnB duo from Norway. DJ Anthun mixes and scratches while Richard plays instruments to accentuate the mix. There's a great clip of them playing at on our web site, if anyone's interested in seeing what they do. They'll be in the States September 20th - 26th and October 15th - 17th.
Lastly, do you feel it is important for people to support the ventures of their local communities? What words of encouragement can you offer to people just getting started?
Yes, always support your local scene! I go to as many local & regional shows as I can. Words of encouragement- Find someone locally who already does what you're interested in doing and spend time with them; use the resources that are available to you. And as cliché as is sounds - Stick with it, don't give up! If you love what you do, that should be all that matters!
For more information about Sublunary, visit their web site at SublunaryAM.com.
Tom’s musical vision has constantly aimed at the dance floor and has searched for fresh ideas and pursued a forward thinking edge. From initial influences in the acid house explosion of ’88, through to the thunderous underground house and techno of the post-millennium.
“I’ve got a pretty short attention span and get bored of records quickly so I’m always on the hunt for fresh and emerging sounds and ideas”
Initial club bookings in ‘91 led to his first residency at London’s Coliseum and guest spots at pre super-club, Bagleys alongside DJs like Billy Nasty and Darren Emerson. By 1995 he was playing at The Ministry of Sound and was awarded the winning entry in Mixmag's nationwide DJ competition. A bi-monthly residency in Holland in ’99 opened the door to the global network of the underground house and techno scene, sending him on numerous missions overseas to entertain crowds from North and South America, Asia, and just about every European Country from Bulgaria to Germany to Ibiza to Hungary.
In between tours, Tom’s recently played at Fabric, Turnmills, and The Sanctuary in the UK, and his studio work has been signed up by the likes of Terry Francis (for his Wiggle imprint) and Asad Rizvi (for Wrong Recordings).
Tom’s ability to adapt and cross boundaries is highlighted by the variety of luminaries he’s shared gigs with, for example; Kenny Hawkes, Dave Angel, X-Press II, Robert Owens, Mark Broom and Nathan Coles to name a few. Never one to be stereotyped, Tom’s equally comfortable playing slamming 3-deck techno, through to relaxed, quirky, underground house. But it’s his pumping tech house sets that have won him the most fans. Playing to the party with rapturous effect whilst equally striking into the hearts of chin-stokers.
I've currently got three residencies, Sound Architecture in Rotterdam Holland, Astro Cafe in London and Hanky Panky in Leicester/Birmingham. Yes I do tour quite a lot, usually in Europe. Holland and Belgium are generally busy for me, as are old Eastern Bloc countries like Bulgaria and Czech Rep. I've played in the States a couple of times and undertook a lengthy tour of Asia last year.
What is the present status of the U.K. scene, respectively?
What have you been hearing (is it getting better, tapering off, steady)? The UK scene music-wise is going from strength to strength. There’s so much music coming out that you can be really choosy about what to play. Of course with more competition the quality rises so there's an abundant supply of brilliant, highly produced music that’s specifically aimed at underground dance floors. Personally I've been getting into this new electronic house stuff, or Tech Netro House, or Telectro. Nobody seems to have agreed on the term for it yet but its essentially very cleanly produced 4/4 house music with electronic sounds in it. I'm not talking about electro clash, which is something else and also very popular. Particularly in Belgium, Germany and the Hoxton area of London. It's very early 80's punk in style and also very interesting.
What are the major differences between the UK and US club/rave scenes? How is the music different? What’s your favorite part about the US scene? What’s your least favorite?
I've only actually played in the states twice so it's difficult to say. In London there are so many clubs that are wildly different in what they offer and to who they cater for, that I'd hate to try and sum up a whole country's club scene on the very limited knowledge I have. From what I have seen I'd say people in the U.S. aren’t as committed to dance music as we are, but there are good reasons for it. For example, in many cases kids can't go to clubs until they're 21 so don't do the whole "eat/live/sleep" dance music in the way many teenagers do. Of course this is general thing and I know several American DJs/Producers that run labels etc that are extremely committed but its a general vibe I've got from being there and from talking to other people that have been there more often than me - Please correct me if I'm wrong!
It’s been said the dance scene in the US is in a state of transition (the shift from traditional rave tracks toward electro and punk influences), are you finding that in the UK as well? What are some of your favorite new artists and sounds in London? What‘s going on in London that kids in the US would like to know about musically?
Really? Well, that doesn’t surprise me but you’re the first person I've heard it from. This electro thing's kicking off all over the place. As I said before there’s a really strong scene in Hoxton. You may have seen certain records called "The Hoxton Remix" or something. Basically Hoxton is a small area, just north east of central London. It's traditionally had a very strong artist community and the fashion sense is usually right up front. That's were you see the "Hoxton Mullet" - a hair style which is spikey short on the top and sides, and long and feathered at the back - Often dyed. The clubs in Hoxton are full of colorful people like this and that’s where the electro clash scene has been breeding for the last 2-3 years. Although I find it interesting its not quite me, but I do find myself listening to the music more and more as the genres get blurred between this and the underground house scene. Some of the really punky shit (like the label Disko B for example) is just too much for me but as always, people are nicking each others ideas and cross breading it into new forms. Hence the form "Telectro House"! Good producers making what I like? ADJD, Tom Clarke, John Tejada, Chris Carrier & Hector Morales and of course Tiefschwartz.
What are you doing now in the London scene¾how do you fit in? Are you recording for any labels, playing any festivals, promoting, etc...? Tell us everything going on with you.
Who should phocas.net users be downloading right now? What UK/EU artists look for online that will give them a good idea what‘s happening across the pond?
Downloading!? That’s a swear word 'ol chap go and buy some Vinyl! Only joking. I'm a realist as well as bit of a traditionalist. For the electro scene there's a label called Lazergun which has put out shit loads of stuff and demonstrates quite a bit of variety within the electro scene. Some of it is really really good and is a great label to find records you'll like within that style. Check out Disko B if you wanna be scared out of your wits, pushed up against a wall and musically fucked up the arse. On the Telectro House Vibe look up labels like Poker Flat, Morris Audio, Robsoul and some of Brique Rouge's stuff. This is the stuff I'm really into at the moment.
Tom can be found live on the radio waves, on the Open House Radio show, www.pulseradio.net Wednesdays, 9-11pm GMT with Natalie C and various international house and techno guests. For more information, including streaming audio, visit DJTomBaker.com
Recently, I traveled halfway across the continent to attend a large rave festival. The promoters are very experienced and known for throwing world class events. Nevertheless, this did not prevent them from missing one very important element of event quality – providing a safe, enjoyable environment.
The temperature in the building that functioned as the main stage had to be well above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and soon was also very humid. And this was despite unseasonably cool weather outside. Imagine if the weather had leaned more towards the normal upper 80 degrees.
Anyway, there wasn’t a breath of air moving anywhere in this building. It got so hot that the slight little air current stirred up when people walked by felt like heaven. Obviously dancing in this environment was not a good idea, yet there were an awful lot of young people who were running on adrenaline, endorphins or something else who were not taking sensible precautions or pacing themselves appropriately.
The security guards were under strict orders not to allow any of the doors to be open at all, except for the one being used for entering and exiting. According to the security guards, this was due to noise complaints from the towns (more than 5 miles away). Apparently, the promoters felt they had to go along with this in order to prevent the event from getting shut down.
Pretty soon most people were merely standing or sitting and bobbing their heads to the incredible music that was playing around us. I was extremely frustrated that the promoters had provided such pulse-pounding, world-class music yet the environment was so hot as to make dancing to it dangerous.
My brother and I hovered around the fringes moving from door to door as the security guards could not keep up with the overwhelming number of people wanting to get some air. So, occasionally, someone would succeed in getting a door open for a while and the air in the area near the door would cool down enough to make dancing somewhat bearable.
Some people experience music by singing, some by playing an instrument or DJing. For a large number of people who attend dance events, they experience the music by - need I say it? - dancing. I realize that even in the average crowd of dancers, I am unusual in the pleasure I get from dancing, and in the frustration I get when it’s too hot or crowded or (name any other similar problem) to dance. But, in the case of this rave festival, I watched in concern as hundreds of young people were dancing hard and hardly drinking any water. At one point, the paramedics even had to come in and help someone with heat illness.
I couldn’t help wondering why the organizers had not done some rethinking after Friday night and rented some industrial size fans for the main room. In the states, fans like this can usually be rented for about $25 each. Six or eight of those would have made the environment a lot safer.
A second option that no one seemed to consider was turning the sound down a little. The sound was almost unbearably loud, especially later in the night when DJ after DJ must have pushed the levels on the mixer. Perhaps the music was pushed so loud in an effort to out power reverb that was bouncing back from the metal walls of the building. Nevertheless, the sound could have been notched back quite a bit and still have been loud enough to do justice to the music.
I can not believe that we have become a culture of people who would rather sacrifice the health and welfare of others than slightly reduce our enjoyment of the music. If, as the venue manager later told me, there had been noise complaints about the bass from as far away as 5 miles, why wouldn’t we consider turning down the music as the first option rather than creating an unsafe environment by keeping the doors closed?
I may never get an answer to that question. But, it was certainly on my mind as I mentally tallied up whether a party with these conditions was worth a trip halfway across town, let alone halfway across the continent. I can only hope that the promoters learned from this experience. Maybe a few more will read this and think about it when they organize their next event or club environment.
So what’s a scene to do? In steps one cheeky British man by the name of Adrian Basford, aka MC ADB, and you have yourself a solution - Simplicity. Instead of putting on a grand-ole opry of an event that often times eats up more money than a sister-in-law on crack, just do it the simple way. ADB Entertainment is now doing a monthly event entitled “Simplicity” which will be held on the final friday of each month. The whole idea of the event is to “keep the show basic” as ADB says, “but also affordable in these financially hard times.” Take six local and regional dj’s, a booming sound system and some quality drink specials, and you got yourself one night filled of good-time post rave era music.
ADB’s goal is to “hopefully build the scene in the area and bring some stability” by doing a monthly show to start “other nights and larger scale events.” And with ADB doing the DJ selecting, expect to hear high energy underground sounds.
They finally opened though, seemingly with no notice at all. However, according to RJ Bass, the new Production Manager for the club, what they thought was going to be a flop night because of the last minute notice, turned out nearly 100 people at the door. Not bad for getting the word out in a matter of hours.
After a brief interview about all new goings on, the following weekend RJ offered a tour of the newly renovated space, formerly known as XO Nightclub. Consequently, I was anxious to see this new Club Evolution and agreed to meet him there the following Thursday night for the opening night of their new weekly. With the main room dedicated to the alternative lifestyle crowd, the back room offers a bit of a tangent, with a darker feel and music geared more towards Goth / Industrial and Fetish.
Friday, after a jaunt through First Fridays and a little play time at Chakra, I returned to Club Evolution late in the evening to see how their first friday opening went. I don't remember the music much in the main room, it seemed more of a Hard House the brief time that I was in there. In the back room, locals Xan Lucero (also the club's new Entertainment Manager) and Atom Bryce were playing their brand of straight up House, which seemed to be attracting more attention than that in the main room.
Probably the best change in the club is that the DJ booth in the main room has been moved out of what has nearly the ceiling, down to just above crowd level. That is definitely more like it. RJ also told me that there will eventually be brand new sound, but for the meantime they have had one of the finest sound engineers in the area come in and fine tune the existing sound. There is definitely a marked improvement in sound quality in both rooms.
The cages are still there. There is also a new one, just inside the doorway. Every room in the place has new paint on it, newly tiled and just a better feel. Most of the staff is new, and the doormen are of a kinder, gentler nature and the cover charge is still affordable as well.
Not all of the details are finalized with Saturday nights at the club, but there are definitely some suprises in store. The production group, Architects of Chaos (formerly PhukBed Entertainment) is going to be bringing in a variety of top name DJs there for special Saturday nights, beginning September 10, with Angel Alanis.
I had an opportunity to speak with the new Club Manager, Karl Shikles about some of the improvements that were made. He indicated that it was not an easy task deciding on exactly how to remodel the space that has always been known in Kansas City as the premier spot to hear some of the finest Blues and Jazz, be it local or international talent. There were a lot of things to consider, but either way, the entire place had to be torn out. The bar itself was barely standing on it's own, the kitchen area that had been there was a nightmarish health hazard and the rest of the facility was in a general state of disrepair.
Since the renovations of the public areas of the club had been completed, Karl invited me down to see the club and check out the new weekly there, so I decided to drop by late this past Saturday night before heading over to Kabal. Immediately, I noticed that the outside really had not changed very much at all. It really didn't look any different, however, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by one of the same smiling faces that was always at the door.
Upon entering, I knew I was in a new club. Even though the club has been remodeled from top to bottom, it was obvious that everything had been done with performers and audience in mind with a bit of a sophisticated edge. The Grand Emporium has grown up to. New black marble floors, soft panels on the walls, dimmer lighting and much neater appearance overall. A massive collection of alcohol lined a mirrored wall that stretched the length of the new bar. In the back, flanked by new flat panel wide-screens on both sides of the wall, there was now a little alcove with a bit of a VIP feel.
It was just past 11 pm, when the band finished up and Karl quickly began the transformation to night club. Wandering towards the back room to have a look around, I found another blue-lit bar and a few small tables. One of the best attributes to this little area though is just inside. Just as you enter the room, to the right and the left are some really big over-stuffed leather sofas, situated in such a way as to provide intimate little gatherings away from the pulse of the main room.
The Grand Emporium's concept on Saturday nights now, and possibly moving in to other nights, is one that I have seen become rather successful with similar clubs in other cities. The idea is that most bands don't usually play late, typically finishing up by 10 pm or 11 pm. After that time, usually The Grand Emporium would kind of spend the next 4 hours closing down, while patrons had a few more drinks and chatted for a while. It was more or less dead time, musically.
With a variety of options available and still more being entertained, beginning with "4 Hours of Bliss" on Saturday nights, they have started to fill their late hours after 11 pm with the sounds of House music, courtesy of DJ Maxx and it appears to already be working out quite nicely for them.
Maxx is no stranger to creating a vibe in a club. After spending quite a bit of time as the resident of one of the hottest House nights at another popular club in Kansas City, Maxx has got what it takes to get you on your feet and keep you dancing until the last beat drops at 3 am. Best of all, it is not going to cost you a single penny to walk in the door and get a good dose of House music. There is no cover after 11 pm on Saturday nights for you to enjoy this "4 Hours of Bliss".
To see more photos of the completely renovated Grand Emporium, visit the gallery.
Stay tuned for more information about new upcoming things at the Grand Emporium, Karl has assured me that they will be in touch on all of their upcoming dance events.
What’s the furthest away you’ve ever been to hear your electronic dance music of choice? For some, maybe your local club is as far as you are prepared to go. For others, far-flung cities beckon. I know some who have even gone to Europe. There is only one event that I know of on the North American continent that offers a chance to experience a real, European-style rave festival. It’s the closest thing to Woodstock for our generation.
That festival is the World Electronic Music Festival, more commonly referred to as WEMF. Taking place every year in Ontario, Canada, this year’s edition was celebrating the event’s 10th installment.
My brother and I have attended this festival in two previous years. It is billed as the largest rave camping/festival event in North America, though with this year’s attendance closer to 5,000 it is better appreciated for it’s similarity to European festivals with multiple days of event and a chance to camp and connect with fellow music lovers from far away places.
With such a long history and a reputation for bringing in huge lineups of world-class talent, WEMF draws people from as far away as California and British Columbia on the West Coast, including a traditionally sizable group from the central Midwest, especially Iowa. There are even reportedly attendees from Europe.
The promoters, Destiny productions from Toronto, organize the event and book the talent for the main stage. They then work with other area promoters to book the talent for several other stages. I often wonder why more promoters in the US don’t do the same thing. In the case of WEMF this cooperation brings welcome diversity to the lineups. Destiny leans heavily towards hard Techno and Trance, while other stages at the event usually feature Jungle and Drum-n-Bass, Hardcore and Psychedelic Trance. This year however, there was a notable absence of Psy-Trance.
For ten years, WEMF has been in the summer vacation plans of thousands of young people from across Canada and the US. Despite this, and like most raves, it has been a rare year that WEMF was a “sure thing.” Every year the promoters struggle through having to select and negotiate with multiple venues because their venues have a bad habit of dropping out at the last minute due to the “stigma” attached to raves. Somehow, every year Destiny managed to find a venue and pull it off, usually with help from increasingly sophisticated legal wrangling.
As far as my brother and I were concerned, the location made all the difference in our decision to attend. Wasaga Beach is located on Georgian bay, an offshoot of Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes, and is about the same geographic latitude as central Michigan or Minnesota. We had visited that area for a previous WEMF at Sauble Beach, and had been impressed with the area’s unspoiled natural environment, beautiful, crystal clear water and white sand beaches. It seemed like the Bahamas of the North. Swimming all day at Sauble beach had made that WEMF one of the most enjoyable vacations we had ever taken. Now, here was our chance to see that beautiful part of North America again, coupled with the opportunity to hear some of the best DJs in the world at the same time. My brother and I instantly knew we wanted to go.
With a day and night in Toronto under our belts, we started our WEMF journey refreshed from a good night’s sleep and with some of Toronto’s best Thai food in our tummies. As we left town at 3:00 pm to head North, we were surprised at the traffic jams that already seemed to be everywhere.
We arrived at WEMF well before dark on a beautiful, though brisk, Friday afternoon. The venue was a county fairgrounds with the camping located in the large grass fields usually used for parking. The ground was flat and the grass lush and well-mowed, perfect for camping. Once we parked the car it was time to break out the long pants and sweatshirts. We arrived during a lull when the wait to get in the main gate was only about 20 minutes. A far cry from the six hours it took to get in the event the last time we went to WEMF! By 6:00 pm on Friday, the huge camping area was already 2/3 full.
Our neighbors on both sides were from Toronto and turned out to be very nice. We later ended up hanging out with one group of them quite a bit on Saturday. One of the great things about camping parties is all the new people you meet and new friends you make.
We used the downtime before the music started to make a huge banner that we hung on the side of our Jeep letting people know we were from Ohio and Kansas City in case any fellow Midwesterners happened by and wanted to say ‘Hi!’ A serendipitous trip to one of the fabric stores in Toronto’s Chinatown had yielded the piece of day-glo green parachute material that we used as the background.
One of the best features of past WEMFs was the main stage set up. Imagine a football-field-sized field complete with the most amazing surround sound courtesy of huge, concert-sized stacks of speakers in all four corners. There is nothing like dancing outside in the clean, night air surrounded by rich full sound and 2,000 fellow dancers. You don’t get overheated even after dancing full-on for hours, which is easy to do with the likes of John the Dentist and Chris Liberator giving your ear drums a beating. The moon and stars above lend a primitive quality to the celebrations. The high quality sound system doesn’t hurt either, as it wraps you in hard trance and techno for hours. I wish everyone could experience the amazing sense of unity that comes from dancing outdoors with a whole field full of people all moving in unison to some wicked trance or techno. My brother and I were really looking forward to another weekend of dancing under the stars to Destiny’s unrivaled sound system and world class DJs.
The first DJ on our night’s agenda was Jelo, one of the best DJs to come out of Canada in recent years. We had been privileged to hear his set last New Year’s Eve in Toronto, and I expected his set to be one of my favorites of the weekend. Jelo did not disappoint us. When we walked into the main dance area, the whole room was dancing. This man was playing some straight up crazy tech house that had some incredible funk and energy behind it. I peeled off my 5 layers of shirts and sweatshirts and proceeded to get down with a vengeance. We don’t often hear this style of tech house in the US, and the music was really grabbing me. Imagine my surprise when after 30 minutes, I saw another DJ step up to the decks. As often happens, it turns out Jelo had to go on early. We only got about 30 minutes of Maestro Jelo, but it was enough to get our weekend started right. The remaining music that night was going to be a lot harder and darker. So, it was good to have a warm-up to something more funky and housey.
We took a break during the Lou Cypher project to refill our beverages with some vodka tonics mixed up back at the camp (one of the advantages of a venue that allowed alcohol as long as it is in plastic bottles).
We did not pace ourselves very well though. The building that housed the main stage was heating up and security guards weren’t very accommodating about opening the doors for some ventilation. Nevertheless, we found a place near one door where the security guard was more humane and the cool night air was flooding in and keeping it bearable in the area.
Chris Liberator came on around midnight, and that was it. We were putty in his hands and he worked it for all he was worth. Starting out with some really funky hard techno, I got the feeling that Chris had sized up the heat situation and the need to bridge into his harder, more minimal material. Though I have seen Chris Liberator numerous times thanks to a Kansas City promoter who also loves his music, I was, once again, impressed with Chris’s dance floor control skills and his versatility as a DJ. One minute he was getting all funky, down and dirty, and the next thing I knew, he had built up his set to a fever pitch and was cranking out the hard acid techno with a passion. The dance floor was going absolutely off its head. Chris controlled our energy like a master.
Acid techno has been around for a while, but Chris is proof that this genre is not stagnating like Breaks had several years ago. Many of his tracks clearly featured the distinctive “acid” sound, but they were all so fresh and cutting edge. He really expanded my mind and showed me there are no limits to where music can take the mind and body.
I was disappointed that the heat had not been anticipated by the promoters and that no better solution to the situation was forthcoming. To make matters worse, due to noise complaints from the town, the doors in the main venue were closed more often than open the rest of the night. The only thing that saved it was the clean, well-lit bathrooms with ice-cold running water where you could go to cool off and put back all the moisture you were sweating out.
We made it back inside in time to hear D:Fuse. With our glasses all fogged up and several bottles of water in our back pack to stave off dehydration, we again hit the dance floor. D:Fuse’s characteristic cowboy hat was bobbing above the crowd and he was playing a harder-edged set than I had heard him play before. We were ready for some slightly slower beats per minute, however, so we danced for a while and then headed outside to cool off and wind down.
There were almost more people outside the main stage building than in it. We sat down and talked with a few interesting looking people and found out about a live House music band that would be playing in one of the vendor’s booths the next day.
The walk to the camp site was a little nippy! We both had our hoods pulled up and gloves on. But, it was good sleeping weather, so we called it a night and crawled into our sleeping bags for dreams fueled by the pumping bass that was vibrating through the ground.
The next morning dawned clear and sunny. Fortunately, it was cool enough to sleep until 10:00 or 11:00 am. After that it was up to the front of the venue for a bathing suit “shower” under some ice cold running water. We thought about going to the beach with many others, but were deterred by the three-hour wait for the shuttle bus.
That was okay. We spent the afternoon walking around the campgrounds and hanging out with our new neighbors. The sheer number of tents and people was mind-boggling. Many camp sites featured banners or other signs of advance planning and organization. The award for doing WEMF in style went to the group from Toronto who were lounging in a large above-ground swimming pool complete with inflatable palm trees.
A nap and some dinner put us in the right frame of mind for night number two of WEMF madness. We weren’t quick enough to catch Deko-ze’s set, but OS/2 (Destiny) and Dr. Trance from Toronto played a truly captivating set they called “10 Years of WEMF.” Some people might have turned this into two hours of tired, played-out trance anthems, but not these two. They really dug deep into their crates and produced a fresh trip through music that many may not have heard before.
Dave the Drummer delivered another hard techno ass-whipping on par with that of Chris Liberator’s the night before. And, Lab 4 from the UK was taking the stage for their live tech-trance PA. Meanwhile, the heat in the main room had stolen the show for me. We thought Friday night’s heat had been bad enough, but by 9:30 pm on Saturday it was already hotter and more humid inside that venue than at the peak of Friday night.
Johan Gielen from Holland was on by this time and his set was so good our adrenaline really got pumping. They must have been short of security guards because we discovered one of the doors near us was unguarded. In an act of civil disobedience, we propped open some doors near us and set up shop near them so we could dance. Things were looking up for about 30 minutes, and then a security guard we grew to call “The Door Nazi” showed up to police our open door. She could see all of us sweating like in a sauna and could feel the clouds of hot, steamy air rolling out into the cool night air, yet she set her jaw and refused to even leave one of the doors open.
So my brother and I spent the rest of Johan’s slammin’ trance set and a live set by an American group called Motorcycle sitting down. Even sitting down, the heat made me feel sick, so that part of the night is a bit of a haze. But, my brother was really digging Motorcycle’s music. Their lead singer was a cute girl with a fabulous voice.
We were drinking water like liquid gold just to keep from being overcome by the heat. Fortunately, there was cool water near at hand in the building’s bathrooms. The dance floor was pretty low on energy. The few people who were dancing could only last a short time and then they had to go outside to cool off. We didn’t want to miss any of Johan’s set so we stuck it out.
It couldn’t have been more than 30 minutes later when a group of paramedics came rushing past us and a few minutes later a second group came in a few minutes later with a stretcher. “Uh oh,” I thought “I didn’t want to be right about the heat that bad!”
We never heard what happened, but - thank the Lord – someone got some sense and all of a sudden all the doors were thrown wide and the cool night air came rushing in. We were all too tired to let out a unified whoop of joy. But, John “OO” Fleming from the UK, who had just started his set, must have felt the change in the temperature as well as the crowd’s energy level, and he gradually started revving it up to the red line.
John “OO” Fleming’s set turned out to be the highlight of the weekend for me. A WEMF fixture, John has played at every WEMF I have attended and his set is always one of our favorites. This year, he plainly out did even himself, and served up everything from what I would call some funky hard techno to technoey trance. No cheesy anthems here. His tracks were all about putting the four-four and our feet on the floor. It’s amazing what one’s body can do when the music really strikes a chord (and when the temperature is finally more comfortable for dancing). I went from sitting down with my eyes closed to full-on dancing in a matter of minutes. This was one DJ that deserved every second of his two-hour set, and then some.
Another WEMF was drawing to a close. Our sleeping bags sure felt good after kicking it hard for two hours to John “OO.” After getting some good sleep, we peeped out of the tent to view the aftermath. The sun was shining with enough intensity to make up for the past two cool days. Many people were already packed up. Periodic piles of trash indicated camp sites vacated by the socially irresponsible. Hundreds of people were wandering around in various states of awakeness, their rumpled hair and clothes the great equalizer.
We packed up quickly and headed to the beach for the coup de grace of the weekend: a swim in beautiful Lake Huron. We didn’t have enough time to track down any of the lesser known stretches of beach, but the public beach was a gem of it’s own. The white sand glittered in the hot sun. The clean water was nearly transparent and beckoned despite the cool breeze.
While we were peacefully napping and enjoying the sun, we suddenly heard the sound of fife and drums about 200 feet away. Out of the woods near the beach came marching a troop of men attired in the military uniforms of the British army of the 19th century. It turns out a group has chosen the park next to the beach for a re-enactment of a famous historical battle between the Americans and British in 1812.
After the battle was over, and with one more dunk in the lake under our belts, we drove back to the States via the back roads. A flaming red sunset was a fitting farewell from the Great White North as hard techno and trance music echoed in our minds’ ears.
I was left to ponder the trade offs that our dance culture must make to hear our music in settings like Wasaga Beach, and marvel at the insatiable desire for creatures of our species to gather together with music as a catalyst.
For more information about the WEMF, check out their web site at WEMF.com, or Destiny's web site at DamnDJs.com.
For additional information about DJ Jelo, look here and to read more about 00, check his site here.
Our friend, Monkey took this one of Sherri and I, just before we left for the White Trash Party at Kabal, a few weeks ago. That was quite a visually entertaining little party, with most everyone in costume and mullets every where.
This was definitely a month for unique things though. I finally made it to the Beach Club. why do I wait until so late in the year? Funny thing is, everyone else seems to do the same.
The Pitch Music Showcase came around again and I thought that I was going to go and photograph at their awards, but I ended up being booked elsewhere that evening and so was forced to miss them.
I played out this past month at Digital Playground. That was a good time. I also hosted my annual BBQ which was a pretty great time too. Thanks to all that came out and played and had a good time!
Mostly, this month I randomly stopped by all kinds of places in club land. Dealt with the bookings overlaps and ran in to a few pleasant surprises here and there. I was very pleased to find myself at Chakra when Paul Anthony made a surprise visit there and spun some rekkids for a couple of hours, taggin with Johnny Tremayne and Tony Markham. I think everyone in that place was dancin.
On a random stop by Davey's Uptown to meet someone before going over to The Empire Room, I got another little surprise. The return of Submission. This time, with a bit of a more burlesque edge. From what I understand, they are bringing it back to the last Monday of every month. It was a pretty good show and kind of set the pace for the rest of the night when we bounced over to the Hustler's, Pimps & Hos party over at The Empire Room. Another funny little theme night. Everyone seems to love them though because they always seem to go off.
I dropped in on KCs 25th Ethnic Enrichment Festival as well this past month. It was mostly ok, if you like food. It seemed there really was not a whole lot more to it. They had a few displays, but nothing overly spectacular. I suppose it's good though.
Overall, it's been a rather entertaining month and I think September is going to be as well. Things are picking up and there's a lot of really great shows coming up over the next month and even in to October, so get ready.
See You On the Dance Floor!