Percussion Lab News & Updates
Percussion Lab keeps you up to date with news, ramblings, and anything else music related from our sphere of artists, DJs, labels, friends and contributors.

MARCH 15, 2013

We've been at this for a while.  We've thrown parties in Brooklyn, in Manhattan, in nightclubs, and dive bars, and rooftops, and warehouses. Tonight, we're taking it to Austin, for our first ever official SXSW showcase. It's a proud moment, to get some recognition for our efforts here in this odd corner of the dance music world we call home.  

We assembled a lineup of friends and family, old and new, performers and producers we've grown with and want to continue to grow with, and people are paying attention. The man like Daedelus, and the homies Machine Drum and Heathered Pearls, have played our events since 2005. Grenier and Archie Pelago started inspiring us during our now legendary residency at One Last Shag in the summer of 2011, and have become indispensable members of our global family. And of course, Praveen will be there to hold it all together.  So if you're in Austin, check us out tonight at Silhouette Lounge, starting at 8.  It's a family thing, you'll figure it out. 

MARCH 14, 2013

An interview with Joe Blind Prophet' Burns, head of Southfork Sound.  You can check Blind Prophet's feature mix here

Percussion Lab: Does Southfork Sound focus more on a particular sound, or on a physical scene, or well, neither?  If it's a sound, what is that sound?

Blind Prophet: I want SFS (South Fork Sound) to be more about the overall vibe rather than a certain sound.  When it comes to signing music to the label, it doesn't matter what the genre is, or the bpm.  Usually what happens is I'll hear something and something inside me goes "I want to release that", it could happen with a house tune or a dubstep tune.

PL: Does the internet help of hinder a small label like yours?  Can a label build a community online?

BP: The internet has helped out tremendously when it comes to SFS.  I had been pretty active on all the major social networks prior to launching the label so I was able to form strong relationships with other producers, DJs, and label owners - swapping tunes, giving / receiving feedback, and just talking about music.  Now that I run my own label, I'm beginning to reach out to numerous blogs and music websites, which has proven to be a bit more difficult.  Since SFS is in its infant stages, we might get lost in the shuffle.  This is where going out to gigs and events and meeting people face to face will always be better than DMing someone.

PL: We went from dubstep to juke and now to trap.  What's next?  Has something replaced 'bass' music? What is 'bass' music?

BP: I'm not sure what will be next, I don't really follow trends in music.  Although, I do hope something replaces Trap because I've never heard a more boring genre of electronic music in my life.

I know some people don't like the term "bass music" since all or most music has bass in it, but I feel it does describe certain songs quite well.  Take early dubstep for example - when I first heard DMZ in 2008, the bass was the first thing that jumped out to me.  That had never happened to me before, I never heard a rock or jazz tune and went, "Damn that bass!"

PL: How and when did you get into this music?  What was the process behind deciding to start a label?

BP: I first got into electronic music after I heard "Untrue" by Burial.  From there, I started scouring the internet for similar music.  For the next two years or so, I listened to nothing but 140 and garage.  Lately, I've gravitated away from dubstep, as the scene is being flooded with unlistenable garbage, and I have gotten really into house, techno, and juke.  My own productions have followed suit.

I started SFS because I felt there were many producers who I thought were creating amazing music that weren't getting the attention they deserved.  Most of the artists I have on the roster are people I have been communicating with for the past three or four years.  I've even been fortunate enough to meet some of them in person, which is always a nice thing in this computer age we live in now.  

Starting the label wasn't an overnight decision though, I had been thinking of it for about a year before I decided to act.  I did some research, seeked the advice of other label owner's, got in touch with producers I was thinking of signing and here we are now.

PL: Does a DJ have to start producing to have a career in the current world of dance music?

BP:  Yeah, I think so.  With the rise of computers, anyone can be a DJ now, so if you're not a host of a popular radio show or a resident at a big club night then my guess is that it would be difficult to become somewhat established.  Playing unreleased tracks / dubs is an important part of being a DJ in my opinion and being able to swap tunes with other producers can help build your arsenal.  I would rather listen to a DJ whose entire set consisted of tracks I've never heard of than see someone play songs I can buy online.  

How that set is presented is a whole other story.

PL: Dream lineup?

BP:  If we're talking only DJs / electronic acts then I'd have to say Pinch, DJ Shadow, Tim Hecker, and A Made Up Sound.

PL: Can you tallk about your local scene/the NYC scene and where it's going/who is moving it forward?

BP: The scene out here on Long Island is lacking.  I think it has to do with how spread out everybody is, it's difficult for people to get together and build something organically.  Although, in the past few years it has been getting better.  I have been involved in putting on shows at a place called Neoteric, which is located in Amagansett.  We had the launch party for SFS there and were able to bring out Policy.  The turnout was quite good too.  This summer I hope to have other NYC-based DJs thru.

Even though I'm not immersed in the NYC scene I feel it is thriving at the moment.  Acts like Archie Pelago are making waves, which is awesome to see because they're friends of mine.  It's been great watching them grow as a group.  Another one of my favs is Policy.  His sound is so unique and quirky, it's refreshing to hear.  I'm also a big fan of kuxxan SUMM and the Styles Upon Styles label has been releasing some great music. 

FEBRUARY 12, 2013

In a new feature for Percussion Lab called "Touching Bass," we return to past artists and continuing friends, touching base and discussing their current status as a growing artist.

This debut segment features Chrome Canyon, whom Percussion Lab interviewed nearly a year ago, soon after their first performance. Since then, Chrome Canyon has added an incredible amount to their name, including getting signed to, and releasing their then-recently completed Elemental Themes LP on, Stones Throw. We met up with Chrome Canyon's ringleader and sole producer Morgan Z  for an interview where we discuss getting signed, getting paid, and the making of his mix for Percussion Lab, which is up on the site today!

Percussion Lab: I feel like you're often introduced on the internet as one of the members of Apes & Androids, though you have in many ways gone beyond the threshold of their live notoriety, and you reach an arguably larger audience. Do you feel like this is something you will always carry with you, as Chrome Canyon and beyond?

Chrome Canyon: Ha. Ya, I feel the same way. I don't mind the legacy—the experience is one that definitely has had a huge impact on my musical outlook. So obviously I owe a lot to that band. I think Apes & Androids left a big impression on people and it warms my heart that people still remember and associate me with them. I think it's a positive thing ultimately. Seems like it's always a positive association...

PL: We had our first chat almost a year ago, when you were just beginning to get exposed. You've come a huge way from that point of performing for friends in your living room. What's it been like getting signed to Stones Throw?

CC: Getting signed has always been a "thing" that people talk about... it's this event that can supposedly make your career blossom, get you paid, make you famous, etc. But honestly, it's still a hell of a lot of work. I still work a day job, and it still feels like it's hard to get people to care about what I release. But I say all of that because I feel the real incredible part of signing to a label, especially a label like Stones Throw, is meeting and getting to know the people like Peanut Butter Wolf and Scotty Coats, who signed me. They're just incredible people who have amazing taste. It's a huge validation of what you're doing... and the support they throw behind me, even while we're all getting to know each other and while I'm figuring out what it means to put music out in the world. It's really special and such a huge part of the dream for me. These guys know what the fuck they're doing, and the fact that they'd listen to music that I made, for me, in my own little studio, and say we think you've got something here—it's really inspiring. It's a great feeling to know that all the work I'm putting into what I do has a home now.

PL: A year ago you had also mentioned you had dreams of letting Elemental Themes, "become an entire audio / visual piece. Now if I could just buy a winning lottery ticket to finance that…" Doesn't this new publicity and funding also allow for you to create these ongoing videos? That being signed to a pretty big label is your winning lottery ticket, if you will.

CC: Ha! I wish... I think it does do what you're saying, but not because there's tons of money to be tossed around. I think people have become more interested in me, like Scion—who was generous enough to pay for my last video for "Generations." But that lottery ticket would still come in handy. And about "Generations"—the opportunity to work with someone like Ace Norton, who wrote and directed it, and to have my friend Amanda Wells, who dances for Benjamin Millepied, star. That is really a dream come true... and there would be no way to do that without the label. They create those kinds of opportunities. But money is a tricky issue. I still fund a lot of what I do on my own. The videos I did for "Branches" and "Memories of a Scientist" were things that I funded on my own. But like I said... without the label, there definitely wouldn't be the opportunities there, so beyond money, there's a hell of a lot of value in the relationship for me.

PL: I feel like that's a great deal of why Chrome Canyon is so exciting to watch and listen to. There's a presence of hands on, pure creativity because you're composing the idea, you're sequencing the performance, you're sequencing the lights, and the videos are extensions into a fictional setting. I feel like if everything was taken care of and paid for something would be lost in the end aesthetic. That isn't a question, so you don't have to answer it, haha.

CC: No that's great...I think you're absolutely right. I think struggling to pull things off demands to be more creative, and that's always a really fun process. So many people help me out, and not because they're getting paid. In some ways it's another way to really feel like you're doing something worthwhile. People believe in the music, and in the vision you have for the show, and that's amazing. I hope when the money does come in (or if it does, ha) that that spark doesn't go away. But I'm not worried—there are so many things I want to do that I can't because of finances, and I think that as more money comes in, we'll find ways to do crazier and crazier things, and hopefully keep it creative and interesting.

PL: What were your ideas behind the mix for us? What driving force was there?

CC: Well for a while I was making all these mixes for people and I just got a little burnt out on new music. I feel like I go through stretches of listening to music and then there will be stretches when I just make stuff and don't do a whole lot of listening. With the mix for you guys I wanted to go outside my comfort zone and find some music that I wouldn't necessarily go to right away and concentrate my time on. And I think it paid off... I listened to a lot of new stuff and it was all really interesting. I try to make mixes that inspire me, and that's definitely the case with this mix. I feel like I was really inspired by the actual "feel" of the sounds in these tracks... not necessarily the compositions, but the actually way the sound was coming out of the speakers. I like that you can just zone out and feel the music - it's a really hypnotic mix, and that's something I'm definitely exploring in my own music.

FEBRUARY 6, 2013

Dan Wender of Brooklyn's RINSED parties greeted us with this week's feature mix. Nooka Jones sat down with Dan to pick his brain on underground/unofficial parties, the younger generation, and the RINSED beat.


PL: RINSED seems to fill a particular niche in Brooklyn's burgeoning underground/unofficial scene. What have been your biggest frustrations and accomplishments in trying to take the party out of the known venues?

Dan Wender: Our first run at trying RINSED as a ground-up, underground operation came from organizing the official after party for the Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival. After pulling that off it was kind of an awakening to what the true potential of RINSED could be. We have complete creative control, we can set our own prices to suit our crowd, aesthetics can be altered without restriction, we get to make our own club every month. We're still working on some things at Le Bain & some other places in the coming months so it's not like we've sworn off known venues, but there is a certain freedom in doing everything yourself. So far the most frustrating thing is the lack of infrastructure, you'll see me running to buy ice and cranberry juice in the middle of my dj set. 

PL: The sound at RINSED varies from party to party, but the vibe maintains this persistently upbeat, relaxed attitude. Is this a product of your setup and venue, or find it mostly coming from the crowd?

Dan Wender: The way it all started was Blacky & I kind of being frustrated with the scene and the wack gigs (or lack thereof) we were playing. Us and our buddy Quinn played the first 6 parties b2b2b for 6 hours straight and the sound kind of just kept evolving as our tastes shifted.  Eventually when the party started catching on and we started booking more well-known acts we wanted to just stay true to that vibe. Our process for selecting acts is essentially just reaching out to the people we're digging who we know will attract fun people & keep everyone dancing. We like to make the party as appealing for people who just want to go out and dance to new music as it is for proper music heads and experienced clubbers. 

PL: Speaking of crowd, RINSED tends to attract a younger, more eager set of dancers. What do you make of this? Do you feel underground dance music is becoming more relatable to a younger generation?

Dan Wender: We've always had a very mixed crowd and I think that makes for the best kind of party. So many of us, especially younger people, spend so many hours a day slaving away on the internet whether it's for work or school. We're all addicted to social networks and I think right now is a more relevant time than ever to set time aside to have a real-life human experience. As people become more reliant on the internet I think the surrealistic and inhibition-free environment of a really well curated dance party will become a form of therapy to keep us all sane. 

PL: What's in plan for RINSED? What's the next thing for Dan Wender

Dan Wender: We're planning some amazing things in the coming months. We just confirmed Morgan Geist for March 8th so we'll start taking RSVPs for that next week. Right now I think we're just trying to improve our current system and expose people to some great music. I'm sure in the future we'll want to expand, my other partner A.Pop has visions of transforming a huge warehouse space into some kind of futuristic paradise so expansion is always a long term goal.  For now we're all trying to sleaken the operation and make it as good of an experience for as broad a range of people as possible. For me personally I think the goal for 2013 is to finish some of the tunes I've been working on and finally get something released. And to work on finding a special outdoor space for summer a la RINSED bbq day-rave style.

Check out their next party this Friday, a Symbols Showcase.