We've been talking with the TURRBOTAX guys a lot lately about music, parties, and community and feel like we're exploring a similar vibe. We may have some more tricks up our collective sleeves...See you on the 2nd!
We've had our eyes on ENOE since the Background Sound days, and we're excited to host his first feature mix on the site this week. We also caught up with Albert for a quick interview, below. See you on the dancefloor!
Percussion Lab: You used to be in a metal-hardcore band right? What, if any, are the similarities between that scene and the dance music/electronic world you find yourself in now?
ENOE: From my experience, it's actually not so different, it's very similar in the way you meet people and promoters in such a crowded city, this city is good for that. It's the politics that make the different scenes out here a world apart from each other. There's a lot less testosterone Djing for a bunch of people who just want to dance.
PL: How did you make the transition from live music to producing? You're also a DJ; do you prefer producing over DJ'ing, or vice versa?
E: Being that music has been a huge part of my life from a young age I always made the effort to have my hand in it somehow.
After I decided that playing in a band wasn't for me anymore, I found myself dabbling around with programs like Reason and Ableton with my good friend Andrew (Background Sound) and really taking a liking to it. However, I do prefer DJing over producing if I had to choose. It's an amazing feeling to see large groups of people in clubs react to music the same way you do when no one is looking.
PL: Any producers or DJ's on your radar, whether NYC or nationwide/globally?
E: Oh man there's so many out there. Acts like FaltyDL, Pearson Sound, Sepalcure (both solo projects from Braille and Machinedrum as well), Cosmin TRG, Jean Nipon, and Teeth are a few that get my attention every time they release something new.
PL: Unmissable parties or events in NYC?
E: Having a full time job and having to work on the weekends is rough; but the parties that usually have me going into work on just two hours of sleep are the Turrbotax, Percussion Lab, and Brooklyn Bass parties. I know I'm missing a few good ones but those I just mentioned do a great job and are constantly bringing some really great music to us out here.
PL: You also make visual art, is there any correlation or interplay between that and your musical output?
E: I like to incorporate the same thought process into both when creating color patterns, motion, and sound etc. They're very much alike, you can never stop learning when it comes to painting or creating music, there's always a new technique or style that keeps me on my toes to keep trying new things.
PL: What releases do you have coming up, and who is putting them out?
E: I just released my first digi EP with Rudimentary Records and also have another release with them on vinyl which I'm excited about.
PL: How did you hook up with Rudimentary Records and Boxcutter?
E: It was one of those friend of a friend situations where we did some work together for my duo project Background Sound. They later showed interest in some tunes I decided to release as a solo project. Rory and Andy who run the label, have been more than great, so it was really exciting to hear they had new music from Boxcutter on the way and plans to bring him to NYC for the first time.
Check out ENOE, Boxcutter, Archie Pelago, and Seafloor Friday in WIlliamsburg!
Hailing from the sunniest coast, Dfalt released the first in a trilogy of beat tapes - Helsinki Beat Tape (Part One) - last week. Dude was kind enough to put together a mix of primed summer tunes and speak with us about his production style and process, his history with Def Jux, and when's appropirate to smoke weed and listen to Yeezus.
PT: Let’s start things off with your featured mix. Could you offer some
background on your track selection?
Dfalt: Yeah, I pulled them from artists who I've always admired and who I
feel have influenced who I am, not only as a producer but as a person.
These artists form my core set of influences in the way I approach
and listen to music.
PT: Given your predilection for the beats from the 90s, etc, what are
your opinions on the new generation of rappers and hip hop producers?
Do they yet hold a torch to a crew like ATCQ, or CoFlow, etc? I’m
thinking of kids like Joey Bada$$, Children of the Night, Danny Brown,
A$AP, etc etc…
Dfalt: For me they're hard to compare. Although, I love the way hip hop has
been evolving over the last couple of years. Hip hop got stuck in this
sort of preset synth sound around the early 2000s, basically when
people were really getting sued for sampling. You heard korg tritons
on every track which for me made hip hop extremely boring. Labels were
extremely afraid to release sample based music so things got a bit
stagnant. I feel like producers now have finally gotten a handle on
how to make a beat more interesting than just picking a stock sound
and looping it. For those artists you mentioned, I have nothing but
respect for them. I hear their influences in the music but they're
making it their own, that's how you evolve.
PT: What’s your perspective on today’s world of underground hip hop
compared to your time working with Def Jux?
Dfalt: There was always this unknown in the Def Jux days because we were
operating through the craziness of napster, the birth of blogs,
piracy, print magazines dying, and myspace. Probably the most
tumultuous time for the music industry because no one knew how to
handle the internet. Even though record sales are still down, the
internet has become an incredible tool for independent musicians and
labels. I would say there is no such thing as underground hip hop
anymore. You either have Facebook/Twitter or you don't. Those who
would be considered underground today might be headlining festivals
tomorrow. Look at Macklemore.
PT: Your Helsinki Beat Tapes will be released as a trilogy. What was
your motivation behind this? What does each part represent in
connection to the whole?
Dfalt: I love the idea of an album spanning the series of a few releases.
Over the course of a year, or even a few years, fans of the first part
will tune in to see where the second part will take them. It still
amazes me that after all the changes to the music industry, the
distribution and promotion system, people are still putting out
records the same way they did 50 years ago. So I wanted to try
something new, even if that means putting them out on an antiquated
medium like the cassette.
PT: When are Helsinki parts 2 & 3 expected, and how do they compare to part 1?
Dfalt: Hard to tell. The set will be meant to be played back to back so Im
working on the sonic landscape for part two right now. I'd like to
have the second installment out by the end of the year though. We'll
PT: LA Weekly spotlighted your love of weed and its effect on your
productions. Do you find the herb integral to your creative process?
How often do you produce w/o it, and how does sobriety hinder/help
your productions, particularly when compared to being stoned (if at
Dfalt: It's funny how they took the whole smoking weed comment and ran with
it. It's true, I did smoke a lot of weed around the time of recording
Part One but I'd say for the most part I'm sober while actually
producing. Weed helps with the ideas but when it comes to the
technical side of music like navigating Ableton or specific plugins, I
work much more efficiently with a clear head.
PT: Some of Helsinki pt 1 sounds 100% throwback, whereas some, such as
“Beggars”, hits a wonderful balance of golden era tendencies with
modern day techniques. Is working in a certain fashion, either using
old, established techniques vs. new ones adorned by limitless
technology, a conscious decision for you? Or just a matter of - “let’s
see w.t.f. happens in the studio today.”
Dfalt: I like to limit myself in the studio, the idea of limitless technology
make me anxious so I try to keep my tools to a minimum. The idea of
traveling with my studio in my backpack is much more enticing than
having a huge studio with tons of vintage gear that looks nice but
hardly used. I think the music on HBTP1 is a balance of my influences
and my need to experiment and push myself. Some tracks on the record
are a nod to where I came from along with where I'm pushing myself to
PT: On that note, would you mind giving us a rundown of your studio
setup? A typical day in the Dfalt space?
Dfalt: I just moved my studio from Downtown LA to an artist studio in Venice
Beach, about 5 blocks from the beach. It's a windowless bedroom sized
studio with everything in arms reach so if I need turntables, mpc,
maschine, synths, etc I have access. The whole building is filled
with professional visual artists, a nice community to be a part of.
Lately I've been focusing more on the business side of music now that
I have the beat tape out. During the day it's business and at night
I'm usually diving into the second part of HBT.
PT: Given your commitment to the visual component of music, and your
vocal work with Cassettes Won’t Listen, how do you treat storytelling
differently in an instrumental context, or one w/ lyrics?
Dfalt: I'm actually on hiatus from the type of singing/songwriting I was
doing on previous CWL recordings because instrumental storytelling is
much more enticing to me. Telling stories with lyrics is obviously
much easier to do but can be very misunderstood. The idea of
sonically telling a story, or providing a backdrop to create your own
story, is very exciting. So that's what I've been doing with Dfalt
and I've done the same thing on the next CWL record. It seems right
now the difference between Dfalt and CWL is tempo. The next CWL
record amps up the energy much more than previous CWL records.
PT: What album (not your own) really nails the lyric-less narrative for you?
Dfalt: First one that comes to mind is Endtroducing.
PT: I’d love to hear more about your monthly event, Beat Tape, where
visual art and music meet in a live space. It’s a combination that
almost every music event needs to utlizie these days, and the results
are increasingly out of this universe.
Dfalt: Beat Tape is currently on hiatus because the venue we had it at was
just sold. We're now looking for the right spot to relaunch it. It
was basically a Sunday afternoon (3pm-9pm) backyard vibe with DJs,
performers, and live artists (usually painting). Im a fan of
afternoon parties where people can come and kick back, drink beer, eat
food, and chill while being exposed to new music and art. A setting
where everyone can meet, collaborate, etc is what Beat Tape is all
about. We hope to have a new party set up on the first Sunday of
every month, starting again in August.
PT: Tomorrow's Harvest or Yeezus?
Dfalt: That's a tough one. I appreciate how Kanye evolves so Yeezus is
actually an album I've been enjoying digging into. I just can't stand
him as a person. I bought Tomorrow's Harvest the day it came out and
it's just classic BOC. So it depends on what time it is. BOC in the
morning, Yeezus after I've had some coffee.
Nooka: First off, give us a little detail on your background, roots, and main influences.
Owen Howells: Hello, well I'm half English half Welsh. Born in the midlands, raised in Australia, now living in South East London where I've spent most of my adult life.
I make and play music, especially house and techno stuff. I'm 26 so have been at it quite a while but still have lots to learn. My roots and influences would be early raving experiences in London, places like The End, and being exposed to the UK's pirate radio network at a young age.
Nooka: How have you seen London adopt a community feeling towards its local talent? Do you ever feel like being in a major hub of music doesn't give enough credit to the natives making the scene thrive?
OH: Yeah I guess, London's got no shortage of great music, as I'm sure you know. It's everywhere.
More specifically, the stuff I'm into. Your Fabric, Toi Toi, Half Baked and Jaded etc never let their guard down music policy wise, it is undisputedly all about the music week in week out with those guys, and of course Apogee where I hold a residency.
I don't know about everyone else, but all my favourite DJ's are London selectors, and residents. Raymundo Rodriguez, Craig Richards must be seen if your ever over. It's taken me a while but I've started to notice the difference with resident's etc. That longer standing relationship with the crowd can make for something really special imo. and I guess perhaps knowing the venue, crowd, sound system a bit better than the visiting guest all ads to it. London credits it's natives for sure i reckon.
Nooka: What are some of the hardships you've faced in starting and running a label? What are some surprising perks?
OH: We've struggled to have sober meetings, hehe. It's something we're still working on.
It's not cheap, but thankfully there is 5 of us, which helps with that side of things, still early days but no problems to report yet. A nice perk and been that we've got to meet people, all sorts including other musicians that perhaps we wouldn't have crossed paths with before.
Nooka: Is this your first time playing the states? Describe a little of what we can expect.
OH: It is yeah, I've visited as a youngster briefly but this will be my first time playing, I'm well excited. Looking forward to visiting some of your record stores in NYC, and just exploring a new place and meeting new people.
Expect a mixture of house, techno and maybe some other bits!
Nooka: Lastly, how do you see the ever-increasing global nature of music (via internets) changing the sound and doing harm/benefit to party nights?
OH: Oo this is a biggie, the rise of new technology and especially the internet has obviously effected music in an almost un comprehendible way, it tipped it on it's head. I'm actually part of that generation really, I think i remember Napster must of popped up when i was about 15ish?
The more I learn and further I go, the supporting of vinyl and record stores becomes even more necessary and ingrained in my life. perhaps it's a bit selfish because I love the stuff but I really hope that part of the culture never dies. And it's my love for that that keeps me playing mainly vinyl and working towards opening my own record store.
On a positive side, i think that advancements in technology have empowered a lot of people creatively. With it being more affordable to set up a little studio at home. The same could probably be said for starting a small label, i wonder if the technological advances help the DIY attitude along a bit?