NOVEMBER 13, 2012

We caught up with our current feature mix contributor Tim Saputo, aka Rem Koolhaus, for a discussion of TURRBOTAX, the relevance of 'post-dubstep' in 2012, and more. You can check Tim's amazing, sci-fi influenced mix, here

Percussion Lab: How did TURRBOTAX come together? I know there's an XLR8R connection, are you a part of the magazine as well?

Rem Koolhaus: Yeah actually, I used to be the Design Director and Creative Director there for a while, up until XLR8R went out of print. I relocated from San Francisco to the New York office, where I met Ethan (Contakt) who still works there. He and I became fast friends and eventually he convinced me to start throwing a monthly party with him. We invited our friends Maciej (Mayster) who we met through our friend Star Eyes, from Trouble and Bass, Stephanie (Space Jam)- who was an intern at XLR8R, and Ethan's childhood friend Chris (C-sick). 

We were all feeling the same kind of stuff and had all thrown parties in our respective homelands so we just wanted to start something where we could all DJ together at, play music we weren’t really hearing out at parties, and try and bring that basement-party feeling we all grew up with back into the mix. 

It ended up being a surprise success and the party just got bigger and bigger every month--thanks largely to a very supportive community, and the timing being right for the sort of music we were playing.

PL: Do you produce?

RK: I’ve made a few DJ tools for myself that I will drop in a set every once in a while, usually when people are too drunk to realize the difference between one of my tracks and a “real” tune. I really enjoy working on tracks but I have a full time job running my own design studio (which is a one-man operation) so between that and managing TURRBOTAX® duties, I really don’t sleep much as it is.

PLTURRBOTAX®  was self-referentially initially allied to whatever 'post-dubstep' is or was. Do you see a connection to that scene with your current sound? Does that scene still exist, or are 'we' so far past dubstep that it's no longer a reference point?  Is your sound defined by a scene/genre/tempo?

RK: I think the period around 2008 - 2010 the term "post-dubstep" made a lot more sense than it does now. I see "post-dubstep" as of more of a reference to that era rather than any specific sound. So many awesome diverse influences came and smashed together at the same time in the wake of dubstep, and It kind of breathed new life into 4/4 oriented dance music. You had stuff like “UK Funky” with it’s raw tribal-grime flex, then woozy, rude, bass-wise house that Untold was making. You had unhinged house-informed 2-step from people like Brackles and FaltyDL. The sonic spectrum was so wide and deep that it felt like there was really no limit to where it could go, and most of the time you had no idea what was going to come next. The sounds were very diverse, but was all kind of unified by certain production techniques that came to fruition in the dubstep era.

When we started, there weren’t many parties that were playing these tunes. We all were really vibing on everything that was coming out of that world and just really wanted to have a party where we could hear this music really loud all night long--and dance with our friends.

Although a lot of that music was sonically adventurous, a lot of it was also really fun. It didn’t have a stodgy air of “importance” or heavy-handed seriousness that much of the dance music community is fixated on. We really took that from that era of discovery, adventure, mystery and unabashed fun- and we try to apply that spirit to everything we do.

So, in that way I do see a connection to what we do now, and the community that formed around it. It opened new doors for people, and put house and techno into a new relatable context for a lot of people. I think that era really broke down a lot of barriers people had in their heads.

I don't think “post dubstep” is applicable to a certain sound or tempo. At this point maybe it's only a rhetorically relevant term and that’s why journalists still kind of cling to it. It’s an easy way summing up the myriad influences over the past four years.

PL: Does visual art play any part in your inspiration?

RK: It’s kind of funny because, I’m a really visually oriented person, it’s my livelihood, in fact. But as for DJing it generally doesn’t factor in for me. I kinda think about colors when I'm making a  mix- I  see the one i made for you guys as a grey-blue- but thats kinda it. But It definitely does play a role when I’m designing our posters, shirts etc., but for DJing not really.

PLTURRBOTAX® was very much associated with a particular space (The Cove/Hugs). You've recently relocated the party to Greenpoint; how hard was it to find a space?  How important is the venue of to the identity of a party?

RK: We chose the Cove (which was called Hugs when we started) because we loved the low ceiling and the intimate vibe it had. Some people loved it, some people hated it. But we loved it, the former management, bartenders, and bouncers were the best, we became really close with all of those guys too. I really loved how intense it got in there, and with every new space we try and bring the same kind of energy.

The search for a new space was really hard and we had to look for months to find the right place. I think moving forward we're going to be using different spaces for what is appropriate for each specific party. For example we just started a new series, called TURRBOTAX® MYSTERY LOFT. We don't announce where it is until the day of the party (via email) and you have to have been to at least the last few parties of ours to get in (yes we check)- we don't announce who the headliner is at all. The reason we’re doing this is the same reason we don’t announce set times ever-- we want to encourage people to come who want to contribute to the vibe of the party. We don’t want people who will show up right before the DJ they want to see is on, tweet something snarky and then leave. It's kind of our way of driving home the idea  that TURRBOTAX® is not an indie rock concert, it’s a loud, banging, sweaty dance party. It’s also why we banned cell phone reception :D The last one was such a huge success, we already have the next few in the works.

PL: Who are some of your favorite New York producers at the moment?

RK: I really like Anthony Naples’ tunes a lot, can you believe that this guy just got started making house? “Mad Disrespect” is his first song! It’s incredible! Lemonade, are some of the best producers in New York, I’m always blown away by what they come up with, and how they translate their productions into a live setting . I also think Archie Pelago is amazing and I’m very excited to see where they go. Our own Contakt has been working on some really exciting stuff and I can’t wait for his Icee Hot release to hit the world next year. FaltyDL and Braille are also old favorites, I’m always excited to hear what they’ve been cooking up. 

PL: What other events do you consider a must right now?

RK: Compared to a few years ago, it's a great time to be in New York. There are so many parties and so much cross-over now, that there is rarely a weekend where you don’t have to make some tough decisions on where you want to go, or who you want to see perform or DJ, and thats how it should be. I think Brooklyn’s nightlife finally shook that suffocating indie-rock chokehold, and thats a really great thing.

We're throwing a party with the TURRBOTAX crew this Saturday at the Counting Room in Williamsburg.  Come through! 

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Hgbranham says:
GREAT INTERVIEW. Those sweaty dance parties are welcome and appreciated:)
over 3 years ago