electronic music blog

Electronic music pioneers of the USA III.

(Part 3.)

I started working on this blog post years ago. Originally, it was meant to be an interview with a Chicago-born DJ and producer. Unfortunately, it never got finalized due to personal circumstances.

During this interview, I realized that while I was quite familiar with some of the most important European electronic music pioneers, I knew way too little about the American pioneers of electronic music.

The interview took place just a few months before I started experimenting with electronic music production. Getting into producing also meant that I wanted to learn the roots, and I wanted to know more than just some names and some tracks. I wanted to know the entire story. I wanted to know how it all happened…

There are many artists around the globe and many sources that wrote about them extensively, but I wanted to do a blog post that summarizes the most known ones in one place. This is Part 3. – because even though there was a selection that had to be made, the list got too long for my computer’s CPU.

As said before, I am not inventing anything new here – simply attempting to summarise what has already been written.

The primary sources used for this blog piece were the biographies of the artists from Discogs, Wikipedia, some other journals and blog articles, and sometimes the artists’ websites. These sources are always mentioned or linked throughout the blog.

This piece is for everyone who is not yet familiar with how the electronic music scene started and developed overseas in the United States.

Part 1 about ‘The early pioneers’ you will find here, and Part 2 about ‘The House and Acid pioneers’ under this link.

PIONEERS IN THE FIELD OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC IN THE USA [Part 3]

The Detroit techno & electro pioneers

The first wave – The Belleville Three

Juan Atkins

“The 1982 electro track Clear“, recorded by Atkins and Rick Davis as Cybotron, is often considered the first ‘proto-techno’ track. Continuing to experiment by fusing the extra-terrestrial funk of ParliamentFunkadelic with the futuristic rhythms and hard math of Kraftwerk and the progressive dance theorems proposed by Giorgio Moroder, the Model 500 12″s on his own label Metroplex laid the blueprint for Detroit techno.

Along with the tracks made by two schoolmates from the grade below, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, Detroit techno quickly made its way across the atlantic and immediately sparked the emerging rave culture and soon after the entire global dance community.

Moving through the later 1980s as Model 500, Atkins continued as one of the most prolific and sought after producers of electronic music throughout the 1990s.” (Source: Discogs)

Kevin Saunderson

Kevin Maurice Saunderson was born in Brooklyn, New York. He spent the early years of his life in Brooklyn before moving at around age 10 to Belleville, Michigan, a rural town 30 miles from Detroit.

Saunderson first met Derrick May when the two were fourteen and both were attending the same school. May had decided not to pay Saunderson after losing a bet and, one day at school, Saunderson punched May in the face, knocking him out cold and giving him a concussion. After the altercation, the two became best friends.

During high school, Saunderson and Belleville High School classmate Juan Atkins became fans of DJ Charles “The Electrifying Mojo” Johnson. Atkins and May soon became serious about mixing others’ music and creating their own, but Saunderson pursued other goals first, studying telecommunications and playing American football at Eastern Michigan University. Atkins had begun recording with Cybotron in 1981, but it was not until 1987 that May followed suit and made a record. Initially concentrating on becoming a DJ, Saunderson was inspired to create his own music after watching the six-month-long process as Atkins and May completed “Let’s Go.”

Derrick May

While May’s musical influence on other producers and DJs cannot be doubted, due to an article published by DJ Mag in November 2020, this blog piece does not cover his legacy. May was accused of sexual misconduct (dating back 2 decades) committed against four women. (A number that later increased to seven.) Several publications covered this topic thoroughly: The Guardian, Selector, MixMag, Resident Advisor, Dancing Astronaut, VICE, Pitchfork, and EDM.

The second wave

The Underground Resistance Collective

There were two major collectives of American artists who are the most closely associated with the birth of Detroit techno as a genre, and one of them is the movement of the musical collective ‘Underground Resistance‘. UR was founded by Jeff Mills and Mike Banks in 1989, later joined by Robert Hood. (Source: Wikipedia)

Their style was reflecting “a synthesis of the type of dance music they have encountered in Chicago, combined with the mechanical sounds of groups like the above already mentioned Kraftwerk, with elements of political and social commentary on the economic recession of the post-Reagan era, “producing uncompromising music geared toward promoting awareness and facilitating political change. UR wanted to establish a means of identification beyond traditional lines of race and ethnicity.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Jeff Mills

Jeff was definitely a key figure to the Detroit scene as it was known that he would often drive as far as Toronto or Chicago in order to purchase newly released music for his sets that took place in empty, suburban warehouses around Detroit.

He also had a nightly radio show called The Wizard at WDRQ (hence his alias), where he would highlight local techno artists, giving light to the first wave of artists, the so called Belleville ThreeJuan AtkinsKevin Saunderson and Derrick May.  These three individuals were high-school friends who started producing electronic music in their basements. Just like Mills, the Belleville trio, too, “often made trips to Chicago to investigate the house music scene which was a natural progression from the disco music genre.”

Mike Banks

Michael Anthony Banks, better known as “Mad” Mike Banks, is an American record producer. As mentioned earlier, he is the co-founder, along with Jeff Mills, of the record label Underground Resistance and was a key player in the “second generation” of Detroit techno. (Source: Discogs)

Banks is a former studio musician (bass/guitar), having played with Parliament/Funkadelic among others. He worked in the second half of the 1980s with the collective Members of the House, releasing several 12″ singles. Banks and Mills, along with Robert Hood produced most of the label’s early releases. After Hood and Mills‘s departure from UR, Banks headed the label himself, releasing material from acts such as Drexciya and Sean Deason in addition to his own productions.

He is also co-founder and co-owner of Submerge Distribution with Christa Robinson since 1992. Submerge, along with Underground Resistance, is an independent record label that distributes Detroit-based techno worldwide.

Among Banks’s early influences were Juan Atkins and Marshall Jefferson; his later work shows his increasing interest in acid house and industrialBanks has hewn strictly to an ethic of the underground and refuses to be photographed in public as part of this ethic. His releases often deal with elements of political and social commentary, which have made him a controversial figure within the Detroit electronic music scene. Banks quit playing live shows in the late 1990s due to continuing problems with bringing electronic equipment through customs agencies but began doing live shows again in the mid-2000s.

After Hood‘s and Mills’s departure from Underground Resistance, Banks headed the label himself, releasing material from acts such as Drexciya and Sean Deason in addition to his own productions. (Source: Wikipedia)

Robert Hood

Robert Artis Hood is known to be committed to minimal Detroit techno with an emphasis on soul and experimentation over flash and popularity. Hood started Hardwax in 1991 (Robert Hood’s first label prior to forming M-Plant) and he owns and operates the M-Plant imprint (including the two sub-labels Drama and Duet) through which he has released the bulk of his solo material. Next to his own labels, he also released on labels such as Metroplex, the Austrian Cheap label and Jeff Mills‘ Axis label.

Hood was a founding member, along with Jeff Mills and Mike Banks, of the Underground Resistance label, whose influential releases throughout the early and mid-’90s helped change the face of modern Detroit techno and sparked a creative renaissance. Infusing elements of acid and industrial into a potent blend of Chicago house and Detroit techno, UR‘s aesthetic project and militant business philosophy were (and remain) singular commitments in underground techno.

Hood left Detroit (and UR) with Jeff Mills in 1992, setting up a shop in New York and recording a series of 12″ EPs. Through the mid-’90s, Hood focused on his solo work, setting up M-Plant in 1994 and releasing singles such as “Internal Empire”, “Music Data” and “Moveable Parts”.

Although his desire to remain underground has been replaced by an urge to reach a wider audience, Hood remains fiercely critical of artistic and economic movements destructive to inner-city communities and has combined his musical enterprises with outreach and social activist ends. His debut album “Point Blank” took Hood‘s hypnotic minimalism to entirely new depths and territories, whilst his latest album “Wire To Wire” takes his productions onto new levels of musicality and sophistication within the world of electronic music. (Source: Discogs)

The collective that included two labels (Underground Resistance and Somewhere In Detroit) was supported by Milton Baldwin, aka DJ Skurge, or James Pennington, aka Suburban Knight, two crucial figures on the outskirts of Detroit techno since the mid-’80s. Pennington became a mentor for Mike Banks and the Underground Resistance crew with the rise of Detroit’s second wave in the early ’90s.

Electro pioneers

Drexciya

“For long time, Drexciya was considered a mysterious electro unit from Detroit, Michigan that combined a faceless, underground, anti-mainstream media stance with mythological, sci-fi narratives, to help heighten the dramatic effect of their music.

In this respect they were similar to artists within and close to the Detroit collective Underground Resistance. After the tragic passing of one half of the duo, James Stinson was identified posthumously in 2002. Officially, he is the only identified member of Drexciya, but it was considered an open secret that his partner was Gerald Donald, who is until today active in the scene.” (Source: Last.fm)

“The duo’s name referred to a myth comparable to Plato‘s myth of Atlantis, which the group revealed in the sleeve notes to their 1997 album “The Quest”. Drexciya was an underwater reign populated by the unborn children of pregnant African women thrown off of slave ships that had adapted to breathe underwater in their mother’s wombs.” (Source: Last.fm)

The beginning of 2019, the Drexciyan mythology was expanded upon in ‘The Book of Drexciya Vol 1.’ – an anthology in the form of a graphic novel that told further the story through original imagery drawn by Abdullah Haqq.

“The majority of Drexciya‘s releases were in the style of dance-floor oriented electro, punctuated with elements of Detroit Techno, with occasional excursions into some other genres (industrial or ambient).” (Source: Last.fm)

Gerald Donald until today releases under several aliases (Heinrich Mueller, Arpanet) and is active in different formations such as Dopplereffekt (which has several different members, amongst them his wife, To Nhan Le Thi.

When Gerald Donald was asked about his involvement in the Drexciya project in an interview, he only replied:

“Well, I will not directly indicate my involvement in any project. I will leave this question open to the observer’s interpretation. The most important thing has always been the music and concept itself. I adhere to this philosophy. People spend way too much time engaging personalities rather than the music that’s accompanying that personality. Thus, a proportionally inverse relationship is established, and in most cases, the personality acquires the larger value.”

– GERALD DONALD

Dj Stingray

Sherard Ingram, aka DJ Stingray, is the founder of Urban Tribe and is an associate of mythical Detroit electro duo Drexciya. Urban Tribe was started in 1991 by Ingram, with productions released on compilations from Retroactive and Planet E, and a debut album released on Mo Wax in 1998. (Source: Discogs)

As a DJ and producer, Ingram specializes in futuristic electro, preferring fast tempos and inventive beat patterns to more accessible, club-friendly rhythms. When asked to describe his style of electronic music, he prefers to classify it as techno. Taught how to DJ by Kenny Dixon, Jr. (Moodymann) in the mid-80s, he gradually developed and perfected his dense, high-speed mixing style, DJing at biker bars such as The Outcast in Detroit. Slipping bits of techno tracks in with Miami booty bass and West Coast electro and hip-hop. (Source: Wikipedia)

In the late 80s, while working in the record shop Buy Rite Music, he met the late James Stinson of Drexciya and eventually became friends. Shortly thereafter, Stinson asked Ingram to be the opening DJ for Drexciya‘s tour. This is when the name DJ Stingray was given to Ingram.

“Did I feel like a stingray? Never. But I wasn’t going to argue with James Stinson. I felt it and I understood what he wanted, because I understood the Drexciya legacy. I was Stingray from that day on.”

– Sherard Ingram

This is also when he started to use his signature balaclava, which at first was supposed to be the same Underground Resistance mask used by the rest of the crew. Ingram quickly switched it out for a SWAT mask since it was more comfortable.

Unfortunately, the tour never happened due to founding member James Stinson’s untimely death. When Ingram was asked by Hyponik about his impression of Stinson, he said: 

“James was a no-nonsense, hard-working man who was always pushing the envelope and had a vision and meaning behind his music. The brief time we spent working together had a strong influence on me and opened doors creatively and on a professional level.”

– Sherard Ingram

More artists of the second wave

Octave One

The group ‘Octave One’ was formed by brothers Lenny Burden and Lawrence Burden from Detroit, Michigan. Siblings Lance BurdenLorne Burden and Lynell Burden also contribute to the group’s productions. (Source: Discogs)

Their first single, I Believe,’ was released on Derrick May‘s Transmat in 1990. In the same year, together with their brother, Lynell, they formed the record label 430 West Records to release the EP ‘Octivation’. In the year of 2000, they released their most commercially successful recording, Black Water, on their own 430 West label. It stayed their biggest hit, selling over one million copies. Octave One have remixed recordings for Massive AttackDavid Russell Lee, DJ Rolando, Steve Bug (label owner of German minimal house and techno label, Raw Elements, Poker Flat Recordings and Hamburg-based Dessous Recordings), Johnatan ‘John’ Thomas (French techno producer, owner of Ethique Recordings), The Trammps, and Inner City (a Detroit house and techno group formed in 1988, composed of producer Kevin Saunderson and Chicago native Shanna Jackson aka Paris Grey). 

In 2002, ‘Blackwater’ was remixed by the band with a reworked live string arrangement performed by the Urban Soul Orchestra in London, England. The single was re-released by Concept Music (UK), Ministry of Sound/Voidcom (Germany), Vendetta Records (Spain), and Tinted Records (Australia) in the same year. It peaked at #47 (February 2002) and #69 (September 2002) on the UK Singles Chart. (Source: Wikipedia)

Octave One is still active (2022) and tours the world regularly, doing LIVE electronic music performances. They belong to the second generation of Detroit Techno artists.

Mike Huckaby

Michael Hucakby (1966 – 2020) was an American DJ, producer, and sound recording teacher from Detroit, Michigan, USA. Huckaby was widely respected in Detroit’s electronic music landscape, known for his distinct, deep and soulful house music and impeccable selections. He devoted his life to music, beginning to collect records as a child and buying his first studio and DJ gear as a teenager. (Source: Attackmagazine)

“Tons of the music we sold was made right down the street; we were the epicenter of a lot that was happening during the most formative and busiest years for Detroit electronic music.”

Michael Himes (Record Time’s founder)

“Between 1992 and 2005, he worked at the well renowned store, Record Time (Roseville, Mich.) alongside Rick Wade and others where a separate space within the shop was dedicated solely to House, Techno and Hip-hop 12-inch singles.” (Source: The NY Times)

“According to Alan Oldham, a.k.a. DJ T-1000, a Detroit-born DJ, the store was doing a lot of mail orders, too and Hucakby was dealing with foreign buyers and fans as well — he was an ambassador and tastemaker all over the world, particularly influenced the club scenes in London and Berlin. He was a library of house and techno knowledge, always eager to share.” (Source: The NY Times)

“People would come to the store and Huckaby already had records in a bag, their name on the bag. They wouldn’t even listen to the records. They’d pick up the bag and head to the register. If Huck pulled it, they bought it.”

– Rick Wade, co-worker and close friend of Huckaby

From the mid-90s onwards, he toured extensively around the world, spending much of his busy schedule setting up lecturing camps around the globe offering basic and advanced synthesis, sound design, and production skills in software such as Native Instruments (Reaktor, Maschine) and Ableton. An influential figure for young, aspiring producers and DJs, Huckaby led production workshops at YouthVille Detroit and beyond, with innumerable DJs and electronic artists counting him as a mentor. One of Huckaby’s YouthVille students, Kyle Hall, has gone on to an international DJ career as well. (Source: The NY Times)

“He’d even give me rides home afterward. He was like an uncle figure, a real kind dude.”

Kyle Hall

Kelli Hand aka K-HAND

Kelley Maria Hand (1964-2021) was a musician and DJ from Detroit, Michigan (US), known professionally as Kelli Hand. She was widely credited with opening the door for Black women’s participation in the previously male-dominated techno and electronic music communities during the 1990s and was known as the “First Lady of Detroit techno” – a prolific DJ with an “impossibly deep catalog”. (Source: Discogs)

Hand immersed herself in New York’s club scene during her youth in the 1980s, especially frequenting the legendary Paradise Garage when Larry Levan was playing as well as Club Area. She purchased her own equipment and began teaching herself to produce and DJ in her bedroom before eventually starting to play in clubs and landing a residency at Detroit’s Zipper’s Nightclub.

In 1990, Hand founded her own label, initially named UK House Records, but quickly renamed to Acacia Records after a Detroit street she had previously lived on. Her debut release was an EP under her Etat Solide alias, Think About It.

In 1994, her single, Global Warning, was released on the British label Warp Records. In 1995, her debut studio album, On A Journey, was released on Studio !K7. By the year 2000, seven further albums were released on the labels such as the Berlin-based !K7 Records, the French label founded by Jean Karakos called Distance, Tresor, and Ausfahrt.

Hand’s imprint Acacia Records continues to release new vinyl records and re-releases of Hand’s back catalog. She continued to produce and perform music up until her death in 2021.

Her track ‘Flashback’ released in 1993, bears some similarities to Joey Beltram‘s ‘Energy Flash’ released in 1990. Beltram himself took other samples, too, when making ‘Energy Flash’, for example, from ‘Rock To The Beat‘ by 101 – a Belgian New Beat act – released in 1988. This was done a lot at the time.

Kenny Larkin

Kenny Larkin, Detroit techno producer, DJ, and remixer since 1990. He is considered to be part of the second wave of Detroit techno, along with people like Carl Craig. Larkin (who also releases as Dark Comedy) has been described by AllMusic as “massively influential” on American, British, and German techno. (Source: Discogs)

Larkin was born in 1968 and raised in Detroit, but did not participate in the early years of Detroit techno because he was serving in the military. Upon his return, he began producing, influenced by Juan Atkins and Derrick May, as well as the Chicago house music scene. His early single releases, “We Shall Overcome” and “Integration”, were issued on Plus 8, a label overseen by Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva; later releases appeared on Buzz and Warp as well as other labels. His records have seen more success in continental Europe than in the U.S. (Source: Wikipedia)

In 2021, he reissued via his own Art of Dance imprint his Metaphor album. Originally released in 1995, Metaphor is described as an extension of Larkin’s “techno soul agenda,” imbuing Detroit techno with futuristic synthesizers. (Source: The Vinyl Factory)

Alan Oldham

Alan Oldham – the Detroit’s Renaissance Man, a true Motor City original.

“Jeff Mills is quintessential. He’s the gold-plated standard of what we all want to be. I had known Jeff since high school. One day he told me that he had hooked up with this guy and combined his studio with him. And that they were making some new shit. That guy was Mike Banks. I ended up working for them for a while too. I was doing PR for UR. I got to see how Jeff was able to formulate things, how he came up with concepts and ideas. He was always trying to reach above himself.”

– ALAN OLDHAM (IN AN INTERVIEW FOR RESIDENT ADVISOR)

From his beginnings as a member of Underground Resistance (replacing Jeff Mills), to seminal releases on Tresor Berlin, BPitch Control, Third Ear, Suspected, Elypsia Records (under his Detroit Rocket Science alias), his own Pure Sonik and Generator Records label (and many others), to his legendary artwork for such labels as Transmat, Djax-Up-Beats, New Religion, Houndstooth, Dark Entries, and more, Oldham does it all.

Under his stage name of DJ T-1000, Oldham has crisscrossed the globe rocking dancefloors from Amsterdam to London to Rome to Tokyo to Shanghai to Mexico City to his native Detroit and back to his current home in Berlin, where he holds down residencies at Tresor Berlin and Suicide Circus.

As an illustrator who started out in the indie comics scene of the mid-1980s, Oldham leveled up to canvases and has had successful international gallery shows in Amsterdam, Vienna, Paris, Stettin (Poland), Detroit, and Berlin, with more to come. Over 25 years in the game, and Oldham remains at the forefront of both art and music.” (Source: BPitch)

I doubted whether to feature Carl Craig after I came across this article published by Annabel Ross, an award-winning investigative journalist who wrote numerous articles for Mixmag, Resident Advisor, The Guardian Australia/New Zealand, and NME - just to name a few.

Carl Craig

Ross wrote the following:

“Carl Craig banned me from reviewing Movement Festival this year, held in Detroit nearly three weeks ago. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go public with this information, but after what happened this past weekend, I felt I had to.

I was supposed to be writing about Movement Festival for Mixmag but a few days ahead of the festival I got a call from my editor. Movement had told him I could no longer review the festival. Craig had given the festival an ultimatum — him or me.

If I was allowed to review the festival, he wouldn’t perform. Craig had a headline slot on Saturday night on the Detroit Love stage he hosted at the festival that day and another slot on Sunday night playing a B2B set with James Murphy.

Craig has been intimately involved with Movement Festival since its inception back in 2000, when it was known as Detroit Electronic Music Festival. He is one of the most celebrated figures in Detroit techno. 
Craig banned me from reviewing Movement because of the two investigations I wrote for Resident Advisor in November 2020 and January 2021 detailing the allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment against his friend and mentor, Detroit techno pioneer Derrick May.”

– ANNABEL ROSS

This is, of course, a huge dilemma, given Craig‘s legacy.

While it is understandable that when someone hears such news about his long-time friend and mentor of 40 years, it must be shocking and many just want to ignore it, as it sounds almost impossible for them to believe. Even Ross acknowledged this in her article:

“I can understand Craig wanting to support May, especially given the impact he has had on Craig’s career and life trajectory and in trying to defend the Detroit techno legacy they are both integral to, a legacy that has historically been obscured by the rise of an overwhelmingly white electronic music industry. I can understand why fans would want to believe that May is innocent, or to downplay the allegations. Ignorance literally is bliss when it comes to our musical heroes and being able to dance freely to the tracks that have brought us so much joy.”

– ANNABEL ROSS

However, she goes further:

“But I can tell you that the women who claim to have been abused by May can’t hear “Strings of Life” without being reminded of their trauma. I can’t enjoy his music anymore either, and Carl Craig lost me as a fan after our Twitter spat nearly two years ago, just a fortnight after I’d visited his Party/After Party sound installation at Dia Beacon museum in upstate New York.

It’s not surprising that Craig and Smith would want to support May, a trailblazing Black musical icon whose success paved the way for their own, but to do it so publicly and mockingly is a slap in the face to survivors of abuse everywhere. It’s a damning display of toxic male solidarity in a scene where women, trans and non-binary people are used to coming last.

a sincere apology from May would have gone a long, long way, coupled with genuine contrition and a commitment to seek therapy for his behaviour. But we’ve seen nothing of the sort; just denial, offensive attempts by May to cast the allegations as racism and a defiant campaign to try and resurrect his tanking career.

It is possible to celebrate Detroit techno and at the same time to demand accountability from the figures in the scene who have abused their power. Without it, their legacy is threatened, but that’s not my fault, nor the fault of the women who bravely chose to share their stories. The only people they can blame for that is themselves.”

– ANNABEL ROSS

The reason why I decided not to delete the part already written about Craig is so that people can see what a life trajectory he had and how many artists he has collaborated with, and yet, he decided to act with such a careless and toxic attitude as Ross described in her article. I personally found the Instagram posts and reposts by him and Omar S the most shocking and disappointing. It is truly nothing else but toxic male solidarity. That is the reason why I introduce him at the end of this blog piece.

    Born in Detroit in 1969, Craig was first exposed to the Detroit techno scene in the late 80s via a cousin that ran the lighting for Jeff Mills. After early collaborations with his “first wave” mentor Derrick May, Craig struck out on his own in the early 90s. (Source: The Wire UK)

    Recording as 69, BFC, Psyche, Paperclip People, Tres Demented, and under his own name — as well as a slew of other aliases and collaborations — Craig developed an instantly recognizable (and oft-imitated, if rarely matched) style, at once lush and economical, bursting and streamlined.

    While known principally as a Techno artist, Craig‘s musical journey hasn’t stopped there. The 1992 track Bug in the Bassbin‘, recorded by his Innerzone Orchestra, is widely credited as sparking a revolution in breakbeat-based music, while his Detroit Experiment brought together artists from Detroit’s jazz and hip-hop scenes; more recently, Craig recorded with Wendell Harrison, Phil Ranelin, and other members of Detroit’s fabled jazz label Tribe for an upcoming Techno-jazz fusion project.

    He also had a hand in Urban Tribe‘s The Collapse of Modern Culture, a groundbreaking downtempo collaboration between Sherard Ingram (aka DJ Stingray), Kenny Dixon, Jr. (aka Moodymann) and Anthony “Shake” Shakir, and his one-off projects range from participating in Ricardo Villalobos’ improvising laptop collective Narod Niki to performing on industrial designer Harry Bertoia’s sound sculptures.

    In 2020, before the pandemic hit, Craig had planned a few days downtime after his live set with Moritz von Oswald at New York’s Dia Beacon; the opening celebration of Craig’s sound installation Party/Afterparty, a commission that developed over the course of five years. As Hannah Ongley wrote for Document Journal, “The installation is unnervingly prescient. In Dia’s post-industrial basement level, the darkness glows neon green, and modular synths steadily build up to a euphoric club beat—the sound of collective fervor right before the inevitable comedown.”

    When talking to the German ‘Kaput’ magazine, Craig described Detroit the following way:

    “I see these buildings every day. For me they represent the history of Detroit, the history of a place once a blooming industrial city – and now no longer is. Such ruins are monoliths, but to me they mean the same as the debris in Rome or Greece: it is all about the process of remembering of what has been a culture. Those fabrics tell us from their former greatness – and now they are just framework. No other city on this planet is like Detroit. It was here where Henry Ford invented the assembly line – and where Berry Gordy took the concept and came up with Motown from there. Gordy wanted to produce and publish music in an ongoing process, just to have enough to offer for the demand out there. And once the car industry changed over from humans to robots, that affected Juan Atkins. You see, both were inspired by the system of Ford. I deeply believe that there is no other place on this planet as Detroit this all could arise. I talk bout the idea to recharge something that cold with soul.”

    – Carl Craig

    To be added: Milton Baldwin aka DJ Skurge, Kenneth D. Dixon Jr. aka Moodymann, James Pennington aka Suburban Knight, Terrence Dixon

    Yuka electronic music producer and DJ

    Introducing: Yuka

    Electronic music producer and DJ: Yuka (Russia / India)

    The very first time I came across Yuka‘s name was a few years ago, when I was scrolling around on YouTube, searching for Boiler Room videos.

    At that time, there wasn’t any movement yet, sweeping across the electronic music scene in order to lift up deep-rooted barriers for a more balanced industry where equal opportunities are granted to everyone and where no discrimination occurs on the grounds of sex and gender. I remember wondering myself, how many female DJs and producers there are in the scene and I remember that I was particularly happy to find someone at the time whose ambient productions felt so pure and close to me as hers. Therefore, I have decided to contact her and asked her, whether she would want to contribute to my starting project. She agreed to it right away, but since this blog is just a one person initiative, it took me years, till I was ready to contact her again to finish off this interview. I felt extra lucky, when our paths crossed and I had the chance to get to know her in person during an artist dinner, right before her set at TRESOR Berlin. We had a long talk about the scene and her current life, full of adventures and beauty, but also full of difficulties.

     

    LC: You were born and raised in Bratsk, Irkutsk Oblast (Siberia), located on the Angara River. You described it once as an uncomfortable place to live due to air pollution. I was wondering though, how was your life there as a young child? 

    Yuka: I remember that during the winter, there was lots of snow and that was a lot of fun – you could do so many things, from ice skating to tunnel digging and sledging from the hills and so on. During the summer time, we’ve been traveling with my parents and my sister all around Russia to visit relatives (my family is big). I liked it very much and perhaps because of that, I’m still traveling a lot.

    LC: Which was the coldest winter and the warmest summer / or most memorable winter or most memorable summer that you remember having experienced as a child in Siberia? Which was your favourite season as a young child?

    Yuka: Every winter in Siberia is cold and really long. I remember days when it was -50 C. But on the other hand, it’s also sunny and beautiful – everything is white and sparkling because of hoarfrost. I especially liked winter because of New Year’s Eve. I loved to decorate the Christmas tree! We never celebrated Christmas – the event around the 24th-25th-26th – in the USSR, but we always had a tree that we decorated. The colourful small lamps on the tree were creating a very special atmosphere in the room and me and my sister liked to play with them making elf kingdom on branches. 

    Russia Siberia winter landscape period snow ice scenery steppe Siberian field roads sky

    The hottest summer was when it was +45 C. Dry and sunny. Days during the summer periods are usually very hot, but the nights are rather cool. Sometimes we were unlucky, because the entire summer was cold and that was heartbreaking. But I loved summer anyways, because that was the time for us to travel. We almost never spent the summer school holidays in Bratsk, but somewhere far away, visiting relatives. One of the most memorable summers to me was close to the place where my mother was born. It’s a village next to Chinese and Mongolian border and my uncle gave us horses to ride. We did it from early morning till evening, every day. We rode great distances on the steppe and climbed the hills. It was such a great experience as a child! 

    LC: I have recently read about another Russian born producer who now lives in Denmark. She has mentioned classical ballet as being her first encounter with music. What was your first connection as a child with music?  Did you learn to play any instruments?

    Yuka: I played the metallophone in the children’s orchestra in kindergarten when I was 5. That was folklore music for kids. At the age 6 my mother sent me to music school and it was my first encounter with classical music.

    traditional indonesian instruments metallophone metal russian orchestra music instrument

    LC: Any musical instrument consisting of tuned metal bars can be called a metallophone which is struck to make sound, usually with a mallet. Metallophones have been used for musical performances in Asia for thousands of years. In this way, it is similar to the xylophone; however, the xylophone’s bars are made of wood, while the glockenspiel’s are metal plates or tubes. ]

    LC: I watched once a documentary which talked about the fact that Western music was forbidden in Russia during the Soviet era and yet, people took prodigious risks, just to be able to listen to their favourite tracks. Did music play an important part in your parents’ lives when you were small? What types of music did most people listen to – was it radio or more classical music on vinyl, or how did in general people get in touch with music?

    YukaAt home I was mostly listening to music from “The Who” and “The Beatles”, because my father liked it and also to some Russian and Italian pop from TV and radio, because my mother was listening to it as usually most of the people do. Later on, I preferred underground music like rock’n’roll and punk – genres which were illegal in  the USSR. I made recently a re-post on Facebook about the list of illegal music in Russia around 1985 – all famous punk and rock bands are on this list. My personal favourites were Pink Floyd, Sex Pistols, Janis Joplin, Jethro Tull, Can, Jefferson Airplane and King Crimson. Somehow we managed to have all this music at home, since my father was listening only to illegal music! We were making copies from cassettes or bobbin tape, and some of my friends even had them on vinyls. There was always a way to get it somehow. Either on the black market or sometimes somebody (like relatives or friends of someone’s parents) went to other countries like the GDR to work and brought some records from there… I never had the feeling that it was something really dangerous, but to tell you the truth, not many people were listening to this sort of music – music that was not easy to find around the time. As for me, to a teen, it was definitely cool to have it! I didn’t like any popular music or music that was played in the radio everywhere. Until today, I still prefer it that way – I love searching for good music which is not known and therefore, special. The habit, you know, I don’t trust anything that is easy to find. 

    LC:  At the age of 17, you moved to Irkutsk and then later on when you were 24, to Moscow. You have mentioned that it was in the capital where your music career started when you became resident DJ at a club. May we know which club it was and if the club still exists? Did the club have its own equipment that were needed for the artists to perform?

    Yuka: That was a big club for rock concerts and night parties, called “Tochka”. It doesn’t exist anymore. It was a professional club with good sound system and all needed equipment.

    LC:  What kind of music did you play at the time? Was electronic music already in or was the scene for it still only developing in Russia? Did you get to listen to music from other countries that inspired you regarding your productions?

    Yuka: That time my preference was deep house, house and so on. Most of the music I’ve played were from my small collection that originated from the UK.

    LC:  What were your most cherished records you had with you when you’ve started your residency at “Tochka”? How did you stock up on records? Which were your favourite record shops, do they still exist and can you recommend any record shop now, if someone would want to go digging in Moscow or St. Petersburg?

    YukaI honestly don’t remember anymore what they were… Probably something from the Glasgow Underground scene…

    Back in that time, we were unable to buy music online. We had only one record shop and a couple of record dealers in Moscow – some guys who had connections with European records stores. Somehow, they could make orders and receive parcels by post. It was not easy to travel outside Russia, so around that time, I’ve never got the chance to leave the country. Then the USSR collapsed, but the law was still the same. Once in a month, all DJs went to visit these dealers to buy new records. We had the option to listen to what they had purchased and to choose the records we wanted to buy, but our supply was limited as these guys chose music according to their own tastes and we could only get our hands on records from their collections. In those days, I was always selecting music by listening to the records first, never according to producers or labels. I’ve looked at the author’s name as last, usually when the music impressed me a lot. Most of the time, it was enough for me just to remember how the art on the cover or how the label itself looked like. That is why I don’t remember one name from that time. Nowadays, I remember many names because I play digital format and the only way to remember every track is to remember the names. 

    The fact that we could choose out of their pre-selection was also the main reason, why my “golden collection” of records started growing only a bit later – when I finally had internet access and could order my music from the shops directly. Nowadays it is so much easier to search for new music, using the internet and the situation is also better now in Moscow and St.Petersburg as we have also more shops, but I’m sure that record digging is still better to do at Space Hall or Hard Wax in Berlin.

     

    LC:  Recently you’ve become a citizen of India and during the dinner you told me that you spend nowadays more and more time there, traveling. Where and when do you get to produce music and  how do you manage to get some studio time? 

    Yuka: Whenever I get to stay in Russia or in Berlin, I spend my entire time with producing music. In India, I do it less. The life in India is different from my life in Russia or in Germany and I prefer to spend more time with things like yoga and meditation which are also very important to me: for my mind and my health. These help me to feel balanced and to stay happy.

    LC: Now you are able to travel around with an artist visa. Is Berlin your favourite European city? 

    Yuka: I love Berlin. It’s a very international place, full of creative people. I don’t know any other cities with such a big and interesting night life. There is so much art, so many festivals, performances and so on. The city has its own, special, attractive atmosphere, even if the architecture is more industrial than classic.

    LC: I would love to hear more about that collaborative project with that throat singer from the Altai area that you mentioned in a previous interview. (Do you have any music material left over that we could share about this experiment of yours?) bolot bairyshev altai throat singer siberia

    Yuka: The name of the singer is Bolot Bairyshev (Болот Байрышев). Around that time, we wanted to record something together because he really liked my additions to his singing which I made for our performances, but we didn’t have enough time to go to a studio together to record anything. DJ-ing was not my main job then and I was busy at my work. (That period was so intense, that I even had to give up DJ-ing for a while). So, unfortunately, there is nothing left from that experiment and it was such long time ago that I don’t think we would ever be able to pick up where we left that project.

    LC: You mentioned that currently, the scene is more varied in St. Petersburg than in the capital, and you enumerated some experimental artists who in your opinion are really talented, but because they are not well-known enough in Europe, and because of the distance, they rarely get booked.

    Did you do any collaboration with any of them / or is there anything planned? How did you get to know them?

    Yuka: Egor Sukharev (Khz) is a resident of Fullpanda Rec, too. He is a great musician, a professional sound engineer, sound designer and collaborates with artists for exhibitions or video/movie projects and he also works for theatres. Time to time he is DJ-ing or does live sets. He is also a very good friend of mine and he helps me with mixing and premastering my productions. Roman Korablove kindly lets us to use his amazing studio with special equipment when we need it. He is a good producer and has many interesting projects.

    [ LC: Roman Korablove has a slow electronica project with Anton Kubikov, Ilya Shapovalov and Sergey Sapunov called ‘Raw Code’. ]

    Yuka: Then, I would mentions Stef Mendesidis and Alex Unbalance. I know them personally and we share our music with each other from time to time and have honest discussions about it. I know also Snezhana (Rzeng) and Andrey Svibovich personally, because sometimes we perform at the same events in Moscow and in St. Petersburg. 

    [ LC: As described by the artist, Snezhana herself with her own words: “Technically, “Rzeng” is a manipulation of the prepared effects of analog synthesizers in real time, and occasionally, an experimental modelling of the sound space using some digital effects. Stylistically, “Rzeng” is a synthesis of such musical directions as: IDM, Electronic, Glitch, Noise, Jungle, Techno, Breakbeat, Broken beat, Ambient, Industrial, and Experimental.”

    Andrey Svibovitch is an audiovisual artist “currently based in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He was born in Kirovsk, a town beyond the polar circle in the Khibiny mountains on the Kola Peninsula. Nevertheless, the contrasts of the nordic nature had a profound impact on Andreys artistic vision. He received mostly private education, studying the theory and practice of contemporary dance, fine arts, music, sound engineering, sound art and visual programming. The experience of various practices led him to a synaesthetic approach in art: the combination of graphics, light, sound and motion into a common audiovisual structure, where each element is essential.”

    (Synaesthesia is a condition in which someone experiences things through their senses in an unusual way, for example by experiencing a colour as a sound, or a number as a position in space). ]

    Yuka: Oleg Makarov has always amazed me with his music. Actually, all of these artists I got to know through their music first and only afterwards in person. They are all such great musicians! I would really like to collaborate with everyone, but it’s difficult because most of the time I’m not in Russia.

    LC:  You are a resident producer on the label of Dasha Rush at Fullpanda Records who you’ve met after you have invited her to Moscow to perform on an internet radio station. Which radio station was it and is it still up and broadcasting? Are there other (internet) radio stations / radio programs that you would recommend us to follow to get to know the scene more in Russia?

    Yuka: First Dasha‘s live set was on Megapolis FM which is a popular radio station in Russia (but it is not an online radio station). I couldn’t listen this program, because I didn’t have a radio receiver, that’s why I invited her to play on RTS FM where I was a resident and yes, both of these radio stations still exist! 

    [ LC: RTS.FM Moscow is a unique internet radio with audio + video stream and live shows from Moscow, Berlin, Budapest, Bucharest and Riga ]

    LC: You mentioned that you are also a resident DJ at “All You Need Is Ears” which is an event series of Fullpanda. Is there anything planned for 2019 with the label?

    Yuka: Yes, there are some plans for the summer 2019. So far, most of the events took place at Tresor Berlin, but for the next event series anything is possible due to some changes. Anyways, the night will be great as usual, I’m sure! 

    LC: Do you produce a lot with analogue equipment? Do you have some favourite ones? (Russian synthesisers are amazing!) 

    Yuka: I don’t use a lot of analogue equipment for producing, because I can get only ideas for my music when I’m alone and never at a limited time, f.e. when I’m at my friends’s studio. I can use it and sometimes I do, but to get a track ready, it’s not enough. But I use it for mixing and premastering. Honestly, I would love to have my own studio full of analogue equipment and expensive modulars! I could spend days / months / years discovering new amazing sounds and rhythms, but it’s not possible with my life style – I’m moving all the time and I don’t have any permanent address on this planet. Maybe in the future, when I get old and decide to ground myself and grow roots in one place, I will create my own studio! (*laughing) For now, I use programmes like Reaktor and LogicPro, plus I use a lot of pre-recorded sounds. For example, during my travels, I always have my Zoom recorder with me to catch interesting sounds. I believe that it’s doesn’t matter, which instrument you use to make music – talent and inspiration are more important. 

    Russian synthesisers are amazing, indeed! I love Polivoks ever since I tried it for the first time (which was 25 years ago) and Alisa (because of its crazy sounds).

    The Polivoks

    The Polivoks (also occasionally referred to as the Polyvox (Поливокс) is a duophonicanalog synthesizer manufactured and marketed in the Soviet Union between 1982 and 1990. It is arguably the most popular and well-known Soviet synthesizer in the West, likely due to the uniqueness of both its appearance and sound. It was intended to appear and sound similar to American and Japanese synthesisers from companies such as RolandMoog, and Korg. The Polivoks was engineered by circuit designer Vladimir Kuzmin with the appearance of the instrument influenced by his wife Olimpiada, who took inspiration from the design of Soviet military radios.”

    Polivoks Pro: “The one and only Vladimir Kuzmin, creator of the original, worked on this spectacular 21. century recreation – which, now with more consistently reliable parts, finally really gives that original genius its due deserved place in the studios.”

    The Alisa 

    “The author of the Alisa-1377 was Eugeny Tjurlenev. The “Alisa – 1377” electronic musical synthesizer intends for signal’s design of audible range of band with a possibility to play solo musical compositions. It can be used to create audio effects if connected to the outward acoustic device. The synthesizer can be used as a non-standard electric signal’s source for scientific and educational needs.

    The synthesizer “Alisa – 1387” (Luberetskiy factory of musical instruments) has 3-octaves keyboard, a modulation wheel and the control system (regulators and buttons). The instrument consists of the following main blocks: tone generator, filter, contour filter, signal contour, modulation, sound mixer and output.

    “Alisa-2500”: This instrument was made in a single copy at the Luberetskiy factory in 1984. Alisa-2500 is the development of Alisa-1377. It was used with success by well-known Soviet musicians in the course of their studio and concert activities. The device was not put in quantity production because it would have been fraught with enormous financial and labour costs. The author and the developer of the project was Dmitry Isakov. Tjurlenev, the creator of the Alisa-1377,  also took part in this project; he developed analogue frequency multipliers x2, x3, x5, ripple filters (“pseudo overdrive”).”

    LC:  I have seen that recently you’ve dived into tattooing. How does one start with it? (I’ve always wondered myself. Got one tattoo for now, but since that I am planning to have more…)  Is it true that people use pig skin first to practice?  Or does one immediately start tattooing family and friends? Where do you get your inspiration from?

    Yuka: I’m Siberian and tattooing is in our culture historically. Many tribes of Siberia were making tattoos for many reasons, for example for healing, for protection, or to show social status, or belonging to a specific tribe or family. For me it was always interesting.  Since I was a student of an Art Institute, I’ve learned ornaments, stylisation, design and also about the meaning of Siberian tattooing. When I got all the needed tools and inks, I started practicing on my own skin. I never used animals skin for practice, because I know how to draw and the technic is not so difficult. Soon my friends began trust me, so I started doing it for them. My inspiration is in my roots and in the works of other great masters.

    (Instagram: @yukatattoos)

    The Pazyryk people

    The Pazyryk people were described in the 5th century BC by the Greek historian Herodotus as a nomadic tribe. The Siberian permafrost, a natural freezer, have preserved many burial sites (known as kurgans), where during archeological expeditions, next to valuable archeological findings, the mummified remains of a young female shaman and two male warriors have been discovered and dug up. On their bodies, the permafrost beautifully preserved certain parts of their skins and therefore, some of the very first tattoos in human history dating back to the Iron Age (2500 years BC) could have been revealed. The intricate reconstructions show us an entire language of animal imagery. The Pazyryks believed that the tattoos would be helpful to their owners in another life, making it easier for the people of the same family and tribe to find each other after death. Moreover, they also defined one’s position both in society, and in the world. The more tattoos were on someone’s body, it meant that the longer the person lived, and the higher was his or her position. The remote Ukok Plateau, now a UNESCO world cultural and natural heritage site has been since declared a ‘zone of peace’ by The Altai authorities, so no more scientific excavations can take place.”

    LC: And at last, but not least: what are your plans music wise for 2019-2020? Can we expect more productions / releases from you?

    Yuka: I’m preparing some new releases for many different labels simultaneously. Out of own experience, perhaps it is better that I do not say too much about them, before everything is done. A remix of mine for the Swedish label, Mountain Explosion Device was released this February 2019 (track: Dadaab on the EP titled Lönnmördare Fick Betalt i Frimärken’). There is another track coming out on vinyl soon for AboutBlank (ab007).

    LC: Will we see you more often in Europe? 

    I hope you can see me more often in Europe this year! There are plans for some interesting festivals and gigs in the summer. One of these is a Finnish festival called Visio where Dasha Rush is the curator of the Saturday line-up and she has gathered some very cool artists. I’m preparing a special set for this day!

    promoting Visio festival banner date visiofestival july 2019 Finnland(SAT
    Dasha Rush (RU) | Curator
    Korridor (SE) | LIVE
    Samuli Kemppi (FI) | LIVE
    VRIL (DE) | NEW
    YUKA (RU)
    Rasmus Hedlund (FI) | LIVE
    Trevor Deep Jr. (FI) | Curator
    Lando (US)
    Wewerka (DE) | NEW
    Roberto Rodriguez (FI) | Curator
    Vesu (FI) | LIVE! 
    Stu Crosbie electronic music producer, DJ and label owner of Dark Arts

    Introducing: S. Crosbie

    Electronic music producer, DJ & label owner: Stu Crosbie (UK)

    The first time I connected with Stuart was after purchasing a record from him that was released on his label, ‘Dark Arts’. The DA08 EP showcases tracks that are continuously balancing on the verge of different genres and sub-genres: ‘Radius’, for instance, is on the verge of techno & electro, while tracks like ‘Blueshift’‘Final Orbit’, and ‘Further Out’ are like balancing acts between dub-techno, deep house and downtempo.

    It’s been one and a half years since our first interview. Since then, Stu has released another EP (Dark Arts 09reviewed by Matt Sever, while some other tracks of his, like ‘transmission 9’, were supported by artists like Jane Fitz in Rinse FM podcasts.

    I have never met Stu in person, but every time I talk to him, he comes across as a down-to-earth, polite, and kind guy who keeps releasing deep, experimental music that touches the soul – and he does that without trying to force himself into the spotlight. His humbleness is another reason why I respect him so much.

    I usually like to start personal stories ‘ab ovo usque ad mala’ as the Latin says, thus, from the beginning till the end – as I am genuinely interested in the different paths everyone walks, together with its joys and struggles to become the person they are today. However, this journal will also be like a journey back in time with a quick dive into the UK’s electronic music scene through the memories of Stu.

    GF: How did you get in touch with electronic music? Which city has nurtured your artistic tendencies?

    S. Crosbie: “I studied just outside London and I went to lots of gigs. I was always more into guitar music when growing up. First heavy metal then more indie type material, but I was getting interested in bands like Ministry and NIN, so I guess an electronic element started creeping in. Also towards the end of my studies, I met a new group of friends who were heavily into clubbing. I have to admit I was cynical at first. I went to a couple of house nights, but the night that changed things for me was a party some friends of friends were putting on called ‘Boo’. They had booked Evil Eddie Richards as the guest and it was amazing – probably the first time I heard techno and house music – I was hooked.”

    [GF: Ed Richards or Eddy Richards, aka Acidman / Jolly Roger / Key Largo / Kode, etc. was one of the very first people to play house and techno in the UK back in the mid-eighties. Under his many different aliases, he has done several remixes, amongst them multiple ones for ‘The Shamen’ in 1991, f.e. ‘Love Sex Intelligence’ or ‘Oxygen restriction’.]

    S. Crosbie: “For me, the timing was absolutely the key. This was in London in the mid 90’s which was the most amazing time for the scene. It was such a fertile period. It felt like you could go out and hear the best of any given scene 7 nights a week. But for some reason I was instinctively drawn to techno and to clubs like Club UK and The Complex. Lost in particular was something I’d never come across before – it was just so single-minded. For music so intense and uncompromising to bring so many people together was very inspiring.”

    [GF: ‘LOST’ has been going on since 1991 and the mastermind behind the record label (Lost Recordings) and the event series was Steve Bicknell himself, throwing notoriously dark and sweaty parties in the best bunkers London had to offer at the time, influencing everyone who’s anyone in the UK underground scene and beyond.]

    S. Crosbie: “And bookings like Mills, Hood, Young etc – this was where I really found the Detroit sound of the time. One I particularly remember was Suburban Knight playing! It was so stripped back yet filled with so much funk.”

    [GF: Steve was one of the first people ever to bring Jeff MillsRobert Hood or Richie Hawtin overseas to London. Without him, the UK techno scene would not have been what it became. As described by Arthur Smith, “LOST was a real gateway club and its atmosphere was incomparable with any other UK clubs. Every single person was zoned in to exactly what was going on: no-one was talking to each other, no-one was distracted, everybody was hanging on every single moment of the music that was being played”. Bicknell is still actively present in today’s scene. He is also known as one of the members of the formation LSD – Luke Slater, David S. aka Function and himself. They have been performing in the Netherlands at last year’s Reaktor Events during ADE. In 2018, they were performing at Dekmantel festival in Amsterdam and at Draaimolen festival in Tilburg which is a big deal considering the fact that LSD for a long time was a “Berghain-exclusive act”.]

    S. Crosbie: “There was definitely something unique about the Detroit artists approach to futuristic music, though I never underestimate the importance of the UK artists either. For me some of the most enduring music of that period was coming from artists like Stasis and labels like Ifach. I’m not really sure if the word ‘underground’ is the correct term but at that time, even though the scene was huge, you felt as part of something that was taking place away from the spotlight. It didn’t need (nor crave) attention to justify its existence, and Lost was the perfect example of that. The opening of  The End was pivotal – I think that was very important for clubbing in general.”

    TheEndoftheEnd2009

    THE ENTRANCE OF ‘THE END’ IN LONDON

    [GF: ‘The End’ was a nightclub in the West End of London, UK. Started in December 1995 by DJs Layo Paskin and Mr C, it was also responsible for the label End Recordings. Musical genres played there included techno and house, drum and bass, breakbeat and dubstep. Throughout its nearly 14 year history, it was regarded as one of London’s most popular mid-sized venues for electronic music of all kinds.]

    S. Crosbie: “Again, just quality music, whatever night you went to, and yet such attention to detail in terms of the venue, sound etc. That dance floor is undoubtedly the one I’ve spent most time on – I went the weekend after it opened and was still going when it closed. I admire the risks they took with programming. I was getting into drum and bass around this time, too, as there were definitely links between the deeper end of d’n’b and Detroit. I remember a Promised Land night at The End and being blown away: a) by the depth of the music on show and b) by the atmosphere (it was so friendly at a time when d’n’b had a reputation for moodiness). I always felt you could trust The End to be presenting the quality end of any scene. Fabric opening was also important for the scene  – underground sensibilities but in a beautifully designed space.”

    GF: Did you get to visit some clubs outside the UK, too?

    S. Crosbie: “I went to Berlin’s Tresor for new year’s eve 2000 – 2001 – the atmosphere in the Globus room that night was something very special. It actually felt much more like a party than I expected. The Tresor room was, of course, so intense but the venue as a whole felt very open and welcoming. There’s definitely a thread running through these nights – Lost, Tresor etc – it feels very inclusive, you feel part of something but they make no compromises on the music which, let’s be honest, is the beating heart of the scene.

    GF: Any memorable festival visits?

    S. Crosbie: “Yes, ‘Tribal Gathering’ 1997. I have to mention this – anybody that was there will know why. An entire tent dedicated to Detroit artists. And Kraftwerk in another tent. The whole thing was a blur – a lost weekend – but I genuinely get goosebumps thinking back – took me a long time to recover!”

    Tribal gathering 1997 poster

    LINE-UP OF THE TRIBAL GATHERING FESTIVAL ’97

    GF: So after attending all these nights and parties, how did you get started with DJing?

    S. Crosbie: “Around 1996 I bought a pair of Technics 1200s – and I’ve still got them today. After that, record buying becomes a sort of compulsion. You start to view money in terms of how many 12 inches you can buy with it. But again the timing was vital.  London was packed with amazing record shops, tucked away in back alleys.”

    11082308_871166672942415_1672106194763103349_o

    RECORD SHOPS OF SOHO 1946-1996

    S. Crosbie: “I always tried to take a few risks when buying – picking something up without listening to it. Maybe buying just from the description on the shop’s label or something. It’s funny how specific moments stick in your mind. I remember buying my first Robert Hood solo record in Soho’s Tag. It was ‘Apartment Zero’ – I can genuinely remember seeing it on the racks and taking a chance on it blind. Got it home and to this day it is one of my favourite records. I have to mention Glasgow also – I’m Scottish and my parents still live there so whenever I was visiting I would go record shopping to Rubadub or to Rat Records. It was these trips, in particular, that got me hooked on electro. I remember buying on labels like ‘Interdimensional Transmissions’ (TA: Detroit based electro label run by Ectomorph.) and picking up Drexciya 12″s. That was next level stuff for me – in fact it still is.”

    S. Crosbie: “I had played at a few house parties, but a friend I knew from work who was putting on a mid-week drum ‘n’ bass night asked if I wanted to play in a bar. Unbelievably this bar turned out to be the Blue Note in Hoxton. So yeah – crazily my first proper gig was in one of London’s most iconic venues. It was packed and I was so nervous but it went down a treat and I was asked by one of the guest DJs to come and play at his night. It kind of snowballed from there but the sound I was playing at these nights wasn’t my real love. I was supporting artists like Faze Action and playing jazzy beats, deep drum n bass etc. I love the buzz of DJing but my real passion was always techno / electro. After a while I realised that I wanted to focus on something that felt a bit more honest. So myself and two mates started our own night – Shady Brain Farm. There was still a wide musical range played across the night but at last I felt I could play what I wanted and take a few risks. It ran at various small venues for a couple of years and we had some great nights but eventually after a fall-out with the owner of the last venue, we wound it up.

    I still love DJing and I’ve been involved with several nights since then (at spaces such as London’s Corsica Studios), but for a few years now I’ve definitely focused more on the production side of things. But DJing is another great way of expressing yourself and I have re-discovered the passion for it recently.”

    GF: I guess this is time to ask how you started producing and what led you to establish your label…

    S. Crosbie: “I got a second hand computer from one of the guys I eventually ran the night with and he had put a couple of basic programmes on there – Acid Pro and Soundforge – so I started messing around with loops etc. I loved it and started to obsess about it. It immediately changed how I listened to music, starting to try and work out how things had been put together. I guess if I think back, I’ve probably been doing it for around 15 years or so. It’s a strange one for me – I have a daily battle with self-confidence. I think it stems from questioning what my role is – I don’t really consider myself a musician, don’t know a great deal about the technical sound engineering side of things.

    When I’m producing I’m just looking for something that provokes a gut feeling. And often that is achieved (to these ears anyway) with a relatively small number of components. Hence my material often being referred to as stripped back. I’m endlessly fascinated by how some producers can get so much swing out of so few elements. I tend to find the groove I’m looking for and then remove different elements to make sure it all still works. At times, by doing this I find that the idea is stronger with a reduced number of elements.”

    “Life is just so busy with work, my amazing family – these are all extremely important to me, so finding the time to get into the studio can be tough. And of course there are some studio sessions where you can create something strong very quickly, and others where you toil away for hours and end up with nothing of value. But I’ve learnt something recently – if an idea is good enough, whenever you go back to it, it will still sound good. My battle is learning to trust my instincts. The last EP took a year to get finished. I can be quite scattergun in the studio with ideas flying around all over the place. With releases on DA  there’s not really a pattern –  I just know when I’ve got there and am happy with the tracks. I always try and put out an EP that, even if it contains disparate styles, stands up as a cohesive whole. That’s always felt important to me.

    In 2005, myself (under the dubious name ‘marbles’) and a very good friend, Spencer (under the marginally less dubious name ‘shockt’) put out a 12″.

    It didn’t set the world alight but Spencer’s tracks in particular did get some support from people like Swayzak. After that I was still producing in the studio but was lacking vision – enjoying learning about it but not really with any focus. Then my wife, daughter and I moved from London to Brighton and I set up a much better studio space and more cohesive ideas started to take shape.

    In 2012 I decided to take the plunge and launched Dark Arts. One story sticks in my mind. I had used up all my savings to press up DA01 myself. So when it arrived I took a few copies down to my favourite London record store to see if they would stock it. “You’re in luck – the buyer is here at the moment” said the bloke behind the counter. So I stood at the counter whilst I heard them flick through the tracks in a back room… only to come back out: “Sorry mate – not really for us”. I was gutted. I thought I’d wasted my time and money and the self-doubt kicked in. It took me quite a while to build up the confidence to let anybody else hear it – but I got in touch with Diamonds & Pearls in Berlin to see if they would possibly take on the distribution as they looked after some of my favourite labels at the time. They turned everything around for me and I can never thank them enough. They took a chance on me, took on the record, it was stocked across the world and within weeks it had sold out (even in the London record shop that had initially rejected it). Some very strange things started happening – I got an email from a guy called Zak saying he’d ordered his copy but it wasn’t going to arrive on time for a gig and he was desperate for it so could I send him the wavs. He was so genuine and polite that I sent him the files – ‘Zak’ turned out to be DVS1! Tracks started being charted and turning up on mixes / radio etc.”

    “So of course this gave me the confidence to persevere and DA02 and DA03 continued to do really well. People like Answer Code Request, nd_baumecker, Dario Zenker, Stenny, Roger 23  and Resom were supporting the label. And as someone who loved The End so much, it felt very special when Mr C put a track from DA02 in one of his Superfreq mixes.

    I never thought that I’d be here over six years later, having just released DA09. I think if you listen to all the Dark Arts back catalogue, it’s quite varied but there is a link running through everything – maybe there’s a little bit of myself in there holding it all together. It is such a labour of love, there’s no money to be made in production but that’s just never been the point.”

    GF: It is always an interesting question for me: what are your sources of inspiration – which artists do you follow, either from a DJ’s or a producer’s perspective?

    S. Crosbie: “I tend to be inspired by people’s attitudes towards their craft, be it DJing or production. People who have a clear vision – it’s that singular idea running through everything. I have so much respect for so many producers that I don’t really like mentioning specific names (and of course it can change from day to day) but at the moment, people like Terrence Dixon, Marcellus Pittmann, Jamal Moss, Shake are up there – they are proper artists with a totally unique sound. They’re not trying to fit into any scene.

    I watched a recent interview with Shed which I‘ve re-watched several times ‘cos I just love his attitude – he just makes music he likes, doesn’t compromise and trusts his own instincts.

    But it’s not just big names I take inspiration from – some of the most inspiring DJs and producers are the lesser known ones. At a recent Night Moves event in London, the Until My Heart Stops crew of Duckett, Leif and Joe Ellis played. I reckon it was the best night of music I’ve heard in several years – within a house and techno framework but doing something very different rhythmically. It seemed so fresh. And I can’t mention Night Moves without talking about residents Jane Fitz and Jade Seatle. They have been so supportive of me. Jane got in touch about the label on Soundcloud and we met up for a few beers. I went along to Night Moves and immediately felt part of something very special. Then they invited me to play their Field Moves tent at Field Maneuvers festival last year.”

    fm-003

    FIELD MANEUVERS FESTIVAL @ PHOTO CREDITS: Resident Advisor

    “It was one of the best DJing experiences I’ve ever had – everyone was so open-minded. And the music in their tent was next level all weekend – mostly played by DJs you’ve probably never heard of – just so inspiring. But what sums up people like Jane and Jade for me is also what sums up the best parts of the scene in general – they are totally ego-free and they do things for the right reasons. They made me feel totally accepted. Oh and they are absolutely flawless DJs.

    I really admire labels that are brave and just put out what they believe in. I guess people who have a purity in their vision, and the confidence to follow that path – be it producing, running labels or putting on nights – that’s what I admire and take inspiration from.”

    GF: … and here we jump in time and I will sum up the things that were about the happen in 2017… In August 2017 you got to play in Brighton (with local legend) Donga and Forest Drive West at one of the awesome Well Rounded parties. Then your  split EP with Frazer Campbell came out in September 2017 which got some great feedback and support.

    S. Crosbie: “Through a shared appreciation of our productions, I hooked up with Frazer Campbell (Open / Mosaic) and he asked me to send him some material for his own label – Elliot Project. Frazer is such a good guy, supremely talented and just goes to show that one of the greatest parts of our scene is being able to meet up with likeminded souls.”

    “I’ve also been lucky enough to release some material on other labels – the Venice based Where We Met label is quite rightly building an excellent reputation with music from the likes of Mihail P, Reedale Rise (aka Fernando The Lobster – another alias of the artist, Simon Keat), Derek Carr and some excellent new talent, so I was blown away to be asked to contribute. And also keep an eye out for the London-based EYA Records who have released 3 excellent records in 2018.  I’m delighted to be working on certain projects with other labels.”

    [GF: Mihail Petrovski aka Mihail P is hailing from Vinica, Macedonia. An artist with passion for the deeper sides of techno & house. Simone Keat aka Reedale Rise’s biography on Resident Advisor writes: “His teenage years were spent listening obsessively to techno and drum and bass mixes taped from the radio, with the likes of LTJ Bukem and Jeff Mills being pivotal influences in terms of his current sound design and musical moods. Liverpool’s Bugged Out! parties led him deeper into the world of house and techno, with Carl Craig and some others becoming ongoing influences and inspirations. Reedale Rise’s debut vinyl release was a deep techno cut on Edinburgh based label Common Dreams which was followed up on the Rotterdam based label Frustrated Funk.”]

    [GF: Derek Carr’s biography on Discogs reveals that Derek perhaps might not be the most-known figure in the scene, yet he has been producing and releasing Detroit-tinged electronic music for almost two decades. Derek got an early taste for finely crafted melodic techno through compilations like f.e. Warp Records’ ‘Pioneers of the Hypnotic Groove’. According to Discogs, once recognising the home made ‘punk’ ethos of early ‘Bleep techno’, he began to pick up second hand instruments including a cheetah sampler and boss drum machine and he started working on his own sound – influenced by techno pioneers like B12, the Black Dog, As One (aka Kirk Degiorgio), the duo of Nexus 21 and Rhythmatic just to name a few. In 2001 Derek launched his own label ‘Trident Recordings’ and released the ‘Copper Beech EP’ which has since become more of a collector’s item.]

    GF: What are your plans for the rest of 2018 and 2019?

    S. Crosbie: “I want to keep developing the label. I’m always toying with the idea of a side project / sub label to put out some of the more off-beat material I’m working on and I think 2019 will be the year that happens. I’ve also got a couple of releases for other labels lined up, which I’m really excited about. And I’d love to say that DA10 will hit the tracks but I can’t make any promises. I just want to keep meeting new people – there’s always something to learn about our scene.”

    All images used in this article are courtesy of the artist and the promoters / owners of the mentioned clubs, festivals & events.
    Farron Shaw Cuts electronic music producer, live performer and label owner of Shaw Cuts

    Introducing: Farron

    Electronic music producer, live performer & label owner: Farron (DE)

    About a year ago, on one summer night, I was sitting backstage at Shelter Amsterdam with Niels L. aka Delta Funktionen. I’ve been a vinyl addict for a while and a big fan of his vinyl-only sets, so when I’ve asked for it, he allowed me to go through his records that he prepared for the night. I went through quickly the bag of records, while trying to memorise all the artists that were new to me. Among them, I have come across the name of Farron. When I got home, I could remember perhaps 3 names out of the 30 and his was one of them, so I’ve checked out his Bandcamp account which resulted in the immediate purchase of 2 records (‘Legend of the Bat and Death Duel). Shortly after that, I have decided to contact him and asked him for an interview and luckily for me, he agreed to it.

    I have talked to Farron a bit less than a year ago about the origins. How he got involved into the electronic music scene, which were his first releases, live acts and why did he decide to create his own label, Shaw Cuts.

    PART 1

    Farron: I grew up in a little suburban town around 45 minutes drive away from Munich, Germany. When I was really young, music didn’t play a big role in my life. I was mostly playing outside with my friends from the neighbourhood and my older sister till the sun went down. There wasn’t anything particular that caught my ears until one Christmas eve. I was around seven, when I got my first CD-Player and together with it Michael Jackson’s double CD ‘HIStory – Past, Present and Future, Book I’. I can still remember putting on that CD in the kitchen and dancing around to tracks like ‘Billy Jean’ or ‘Thriller’. In the following months I was listening to that whole album at least hundreds of times. I really fell in love with it.

    LC: Any further childhood influences that guided you towards music?

    Farron: My older cousin also had a huge influence on me. I was really looking up to him and admired him a lot in many ways. He was a real Hip Hop head and a skate guy in my teenage years and I just wanted to somehow be like him. I wanted to wear baggy pants, big hoodies and skate shoes like him and wanted to listen to his music collection. I think I was around 8 or 9 years old when he showed me some stuff from the Wu-Tang Clan, from Gang Starr, NAS, some 2Pac and Biggy stuff etc. Also German rap music started playing a bigger role in my life, but I have to say that what particularly got me was the Wu-Tang Clan with ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’. When it came out, I immediately had to buy the album and got even more fascinated the more I’ve listened to it. The whole raw and dirty vibe combined with all these versatile rap styles totally blew my mind and looking back on it, I think that this album influenced me and my own music a lot. I became a teenager with some sort of music addiction from that point on. I’ve always used my headphones in any moment that gave me the possibility to listen to any music and to build my own soundtrack of the world.

    Then when I turned 14, I’ve started skateboarding which has also changed my musical taste. I was getting more into (post)-punk-rock and a lot of music that was used in all of my favourite skate videos and so I started visiting a lot of underground punk concerts with my friends. Skateboarding is also very connected to the hip-hop culture, but that went a bit in the background around at that time.

    ta_farron_scenery.jpg

    Farron: I got to know Marco Zenker a bit better through skateboarding and we were also on the same school in the same grade. Electronic music was not really a thing for us at that time, but the years went by and I opened up for other musical genres as well.

    When I was around 17 years old, I started hanging out with Marco on a more regular base and we became really good friends. Since we both had pretty much the same taste in music, we’ve listened to a lot of things together and one evening we thought about doing some music, too. We picked some classic Hip Hop beats and started writing lyrics that we recorded later. And damn, we were pretty whack! Marco was rapping in English and I was rapping in German and also in French (even though my French was pretty bad at the time). Making music together was much fun.

    LC: So how did the two of you got involved into electronic music in the end?

    Farron: Who ‘brought me home’ was actually my sister. She was the one who was into electronic music and was visiting raves regularly at the time. She sometimes told me about her crazy nights out at the legendary Ultraschall.

    [ In the spoken language mostly only referred to as U-Schall or Schall was one the most significant clubs of the 90’s techno scene in Germany, next to some other clubs like (the well-known) Tresor and E-Werk in Berlin, the Dorian Gray and Omen in Frankfurt, the KW – Das HeizkraftwerkNatraj Temple, the Millennium and the (still operating) Rote Sonne  – all Munich-based clubs which opened after the Schall. ]

    Farron: She also showed me some electro and techno mixes and tracks. Some of this stuff sounded kind of okay to me, but none of them had really touched me deeply at that time.

    I did not know Marco’s brother Dario, until Marco told me once that he is a producer and DJ and that he was playing in the same clubs my sister was going to. When I’ve heard that, I thought ‘mhm’, maybe this could be something interesting to see and experience some day.

    One night, Dario was playing at the old Harry Klein club in Munich and we took the train to join the party. This may sound a bit cheesy, but that night turned out to be a game changer to me. I’ve never experienced something like that before. The vibe, the sound in such an environment, the open and crazy crowd, the dancing and the impression of freedom – that everybody can do their own thing there was mind-blowing. From that point on we have become regular visitors to Munich’s clubs like Harry Klein, Rote Sonne or Die Registratur. We danced almost every weekend and than usually slept at Marco‘s father’s flat or took the morning train back combined with hitchhiking to our suburban places.

    Because of these club-nights, I’ve started to listen to a lot of electronic music at home. Rhythm & Sound (another alias of Moritz van Oswald / MaurizioBasic Channel (together with Mark Ernestus), Ricardo Villalobos, Deepchord, Burial and several other artists got a lot of my attention and excitement. But since there was a connection to Dario, I was really amazed by his own music and his label Hometown Music – the forerunner of Ilian Tape.

    Farron: Marco immediately got into making his own music and I followed him in that some months later. I was using Ableton and some crappy computer speakers in the beginning. Not to mention the computer I was using at that time. It didn’t have the power to play more arranged channels at the same time, so I always had to edit the arrangement, bounce it, check it and then edit it again, bounce it, check it and so on. Looking back at it, it was a nightmare, but at that moment, it did not matter to me at all – as long as I could produce. I was mainly just experimenting around with sounds, trying to build some loops, arrange them and then try to start the next one – probably the same way how everyone else has started. I chose spontaneously an artist name “LaChriz” which was maybe not well-conceived enough, but in that moment that was the least I cared about.

    LC: When did everything start becoming more serious?

    Farron: While I was still experimenting, Marco was already doing some solid music that lead to his first digital releases on his brother’s label, Ilian Tape. Seeing that pushed me a lot and so I got more into it with a more serious approach.

    There was always a musical exchange between me and Marco and so one day, Marco sent a track of mine to Dario. He kind of liked what he heard and contacted me via Skype telling me that I should keep on doing what I do and that I can always send him new stuff. Some weeks later he got back to me and told me that he is planning a digital remix compilation of Marco’s ‘Namibia Dub’ EP and gave me the opportunity to contribute with a remix to the project. I was working my ass off on that remix and somehow got it signed on Ilian Tape. I cannot even put in words how happy I was about that.

    But before the remix EP came out, Dario has already asked me if I was interested in a digital solo EP with several tracks and I’ve sent him some newer stuff. This is how I got my debut with the ‘Purple Mountain Meadows’ EP on Ilian Tape. Looking back it is pretty weird and also amazing to me. I don’t know how I was able to do it, cause my technical production abilities were not on point at all. I didn’t even know how to correctly use an Equalizer or a Dynamic Processor. But Dario heard something in my early stuff and I’m still thankful for that till this day. I was able to do another digital solo EP and two appearances on digital compilations on his label and I’ve totally felt like home with them. Ilian Tape was everything for me and I could have never imagined to release somewhere else.

    Farron Technocity.Amsterdam TA

    LC:  After your releases on Ilian Tape, what motivated you to start performing?

    Farron: Shortly after the label’s financial recovery, Marco had got his first vinyl release on Ilian Tape. He was already playing live in some clubs at the time and got a residency at Harry Klein. That was another big push for me, so I started building up a live sets, too. I didn’t really expect to get the opportunity to play live at any club, but shortly before Marco‘s birthday in 2010, he asked me if I would like to play live at his birthday rave at the new Harry Klein. Of course, I’ve said yes, but I was also sh*ting my pants. Preparing the live-set for weeks, the excitement and tension grew like crazy. When the day was finally there, I was an emotional wreck. I was so nervous, not being able to eat almost the whole day and even secretly puking in front of the club. But right after the first five minutes of playing, the nervousness was gone and I knew that everything’s going to be alright. I also think that it was the perfect setting for a first gig: the club was pretty crowded, I had lots of really supportive friends there, the vibe was great and Harry Klein was generally a place I was familiar with. I have a lot to thank to the Zenker Brothers.

    Due to a lack of routine in playing in front of a crowd, I’m still struggling with the nervousness a bit. It’s not as heavy as it was in the past, but it’s still somehow there. I wish that it wouldn’t be that intense before playing, but I guess that I’m not the only one with these issues. I just have to trick my mind and then I’m usually fine.

    PART 2

    LC: Which was the next step or milestone in your music career?

    Farron: In order to study, I had to move to somewhere else. The city I was living then was pretty boring. There was nothing really going on there and I was far away from Munich. Fortunately, I was lucky with my neighbours. To them, making music all day was no problem at all. I was already having some analogue synths and drum machines and so I’ve jammed a lot in my free time there. I was able to finish another digital EP on Ilian Tape called ‘Belmont High’ in 2012.

    Right after that Ilian Tape stopped doing the digital-only releases and so I was trying to maybe get a vinyl record on Ilian Tape, too. I can definitely say that I wanted it so bad that I got stuck and tensed. I was feeling pretty lost with my music and that feeling lead to frustration, desperation and disaffection. That may sound too harsh, but being such a big fan of the label itself, the Ilian sound and the people behind it, I wanted to take part of it on a bigger scale. I was craving for this relief of seeing my name on an Ilian Tape vinyl record. Unfortunately, it never happened. Only when I looked back at it some years later, I understood it better, what has happened. It was a lesson for life, but it was a good lesson that an artist might need.

    Farron Technocity.Amsterdam

    LC: When did you get to release finally something on vinyl?

    Farron: In these past years due to networking in the music industry I was able to make several new connections. I was able to release my first vinyl record on the label ‘Woods N Bass Records’ run by a Columbian friend, that was followed by a record on the label ‘Out-Er Recordings’ with the help of another friend of mine. Right after that I released a record on the label ‘Baud Music’ which was my last record under the old moniker ‘LaChriz’.

    LC: And by now, your artist name is Farron and you are a label owner yourself. How did you get to this point?

    Farron: I’ve started thinking about having my own label already two years before I really started doing it. At first, I had only some few ideas that popped into my mind here and there. And all these ideas and thoughts about it got more and more intense during those two years. I’ve had several nights laying in my bed for hours, brainstorming about it if I should really make that step. I was intimidated by it and I was also asking myself a lot of things: Do I have the time and energy to do it? Is the time right for it? Will I be able to handle it? Do I have enough knowledge to do it? Do I have the money to do it? And how shall I even start with it?

    In the end, I came to the conclusion that all these questions will never stop. If I keep on thinking about risks and not doing anything, I will never get to know the answers to these questions and they will just keep circling around in my head. I wanted to create a platform for my own music, but also for the music of other artists who come close to my ideas and my musical vision. Driven by the desire to get more independent, things started to become more specific.

    LC: How did you come up with the label name? Why did you need a new alias?

    Farron: One of my biggest influences are old martial arts movies. Especially the ones that got produced by the company called ‘Shaw Brothers’. I simply love that kind of stuff! That influence became the main concept and aesthetic to my label. The reference on these movies and the company behind them can be found in my label’s artworks, press texts, the titles of the records, the logo and label name itself and also in the music and sound aesthetic.

    While getting deeper into planning the label, I felt like I needed some more changes and so my moniker ‘Farron’ was born, too. I wasn’t happy with my older name anymore and it generally made sense to change it. ‘Farron’ has no deeper meaning. It’s just a name I was coming up and I thought that it suited better to the ‘breaky’ sound that I was getting more and more into.

    Some years before I started setting up my own label, I used to work for a big studio in Munich where I was responsible for the quality control of DVD- and Audio-productions. There was this project together with a famous energy drink company for a DVD production of their X-Alps event series contest and one contender taking part was a guy called Pawel Faron. I think I had to watch the DVD 10 times and always thought that his name was dope, every time he appeared on screen. Maybe my brain got branded and maybe that somehow influenced me several years later regarding my new moniker.

    Farron: The first release on Shaw Cuts was by me with the tracks ‘Equinox’ and ‘Apo-G’. Jonas Kopp was down to remix the A1, but I wasn’t expecting that he would send me 2 different versions that both blew my mind. I couldn’t decide which one I liked more and so I had to put both of them on the record. This was in 2015.

    LC: Who was the next artist you have chosen to feature on your label?

    Farron:  I’ve always really liked the music of Kaelan (and I still do). I’ve contacted him, we got to know each other a bit more and he was down for my request of him releasing a record on my label. He immediately sent over several great tracks and The Silent Swordsman’ EP was born. Kalean also works under another moniker, 2030. Truly great stuff that he makes!

    Farron: The third record was again my own tracks, this time with four Farron originals. I’ve decided to do a remix EP of that record right after its release that included reworks by Marco Zenker, Poima, Roger 23 and Simo Cell. I always wanted to see Marco’s name on a Shaw Cuts record and I was more than happy that he was down to take part in this.

    Poima is a Russian duo that got my attention several years ago. I was browsing through SoundCloud a bit, got on their profile and really liked what I’ve heard. Especially their Boiler Room live set left me speechless. I’ve contacted the guys and we became friends. They were also running a club called Рабица in Moscow (TA: Rabitza had to close at some point unfortunately) where we were able to organise the first Shaw Cuts label night in April of 2017. Simo Cell, the remixer of my track ‘Par-2’ also was on the line-up at that party and played an absolutely outstanding set there. Simo Cell’s productions are super interesting and fresh and his style of DJ’ing is very special. The fourth remixer was Roger 23, a guy from Saarbrücken who’s music was always very influential to me. After we got to know each other, we had several long conversations on the phone. He is somebody that always had an open ear for me. He’s a special and great person with lots of experience, knowledge and talent.”

    LC: What happened next after the first label night?

    Farron: In May 2017 the SC005 was released which was another solo record from me called ‘Legend Of The Bat’.

    2018 started off with a record by the Russian duo Poima. It was their first solo release ever and I’m super happy that my label was the platform for that record.

    Farron: And it was also nice that Regen and Ed Davenport under his moniker Inland contributed remixes to that one. My ‘Invincible Shaolin’ record have been recently released on Shaw Cuts and also includes a remix by Leibniz and I feel very content with the release.

    ta_IMG_8497

    Farron: I will definitely try to keep things going concerning the label. Plus, it is a nice feeling to be able to support other artists. Things like that let me keep going, too. I’m doing this whole thing all by myself. This is my baby and I would love to see it grow and I’m more than thankful for any support, interest and love for Shaw Cuts.

    What I’ve learned in my past few years in the music business is, that often it is better NOT to see it as a business, but more as a passion. It will always stay some sort of business, but you can have your own rules in this cosmos. Maybe because of this principle I took some bad decisions and I’ve also missed some chances regarding my own musical career, but I definitely don’t want money to control everything. All I want is to make music and to play music freely, for people who appreciate it. Because that feeling is priceless.