November 10, 2006

Sasse feat. Malte - Up to You


Playhouse headz would know Malte’s distinctive vocals from some of Losoul’s greatest tracks, like the Cameo cribbing “Lies” and his “I know they’re meaningful, but of what exactly I cannot say” part on “You Know.” Sasse’s original sits quite comfortably between 80s synth-pop and the pop-leaning minimal-house outings of Ware artists of yore. Are we witnessing a vocal house renaissance? If so, let’s hope the lyricists dig deeper than fare here and elsewhere (Koehnke/Leyers), which seems to borrow from the pseudo-philosophy of those Successories posters that arseholes who work in marketing stick on their office partition walls to remind them to “believe and achieve.” Anja Schneider’s mix ditches the main floor for the space typical to her own Mobilee productions, which is either (not the dreaded mnml again!) exquisitely sparse or deadly boring, depending on your point of view. I like it. Naughty’s mixes wear their sunglasses at night. This one turns the synth into that “dadnk-dnk dnk dnk dnk” rhythm that made his Silver and Gold EP such a trucker. The Drum Cult mix brings in a bigger kick and foregrounds some synth pads that give it a strange Satoshi Tomiie/Twilo feel, especially with the reverb added to the vocal. There’s a whole lotta interpretation going on here, but the net result is more a study in remixology than a satisfying music release.

Moodmusic / MOOD 045
[Peter Chambers]

August 11, 2006

Interview: Amy Grill / Speaking In Code

Stylus and Beatz By the Pound are very excited to bring you an interview with sQuare Productions’ Amy Grill, director and producer of the upcoming techno documentary Speaking in Code.

So, Amy, you’re making a movie about electronic music. Why?

Speaking in Code is a techno movie that’s not really about techno. It’s about people. It is a feature length character driven documentary that follows a global cast of underground electronic music writers, DJs, producers, and label heads as they survive and thrive in the digital age.

Within the indie electronic music community there are many compelling characters. By tracking these characters Speaking in Code discovers some very human truths about subculture, independence, DIY determination, risk, obsession, and eccentricity.

The music (and the ‘minimal’ scene) is a colorful, captivating backdrop and binding force for several intersecting character driven stories—the film has a narrative arc to it based on the life changes and exciting, even funny moments that happen over the course of the year and a half that we will have spent making the film and following these people.

There are a lot of electronic music documentaries out there that have attempted to do one of a few things: capture the spirit of rave culture, survey a specific genre of electronic music, engage the viewer in DJ worship and/or crazy laser light fascination, or make some kind of grand statement about the significance of electronic music, but this film is nothing like any of that.

We are interested in exploring personality, motivation, and getting beyond the surface-y, questions and answers. The film invites the viewer in to experience ‘being there’—at the club, in the studio, in a forest, climbing a hill on the way to see chalk mines, visiting moms in the suburbs, driving through a white-out snow storm, performing at a huge festival, entering the secret underground club or illegal party, and on and on. We have unprecedented access and we get very close with the main characters in the film.

We want to surprise people and perhaps change their minds about electronic music or at least open their minds and show them something they didn’t expect. This movie isn’t just for the techno heads, it’s for the hip old ladies who love character-driven art house documentaries too.

What about 2005/2006 strikes you as the right time for this sort of film?

A film like this could have been made 10 or 20 years ago and although some of the themes and characters would have a different tone and purpose—many similarities would still exist.

There is something special about right now though—from a big picture historical perspective we are seeing the effects of the digital age that make advanced communication and sound technology very accessible. This has strengthened the possibilities for independent music and subculture and our main characters are living proof.

From a more localized perspective on the minimal scene and our characters—over the last year or two minimal techno has arguably become the dominant sub-genre in techno and it has been fun to explore the personalities in the minimal scene and experience the music’s rise in popularity vicariously through our characters. Of course, it’s difficult to even know what minimal really is: is it a sound, an aesthetic, a lifestyle, a hairstyle, a look, or all those things combined perhaps? Some of the characters can’t even be described as minimal at all, but they are somehow minimal by association or connection to the minimal scene. Musings aside, I have to emphasize this is not the “what is minimal techno?” film. I’m sure there is a DVD project like that on the way soon, but we aren’t the one’s making it.

Where all have you traveled to get footage for the film?

We’ve been all over: Montreal, San Francisco, New York, Boston (I live in Boston), Barcelona, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Jena, Amsterdam, Miami…

Most of the film has been shot—what techno celebs can we expect in the final cut?

Well, we’ve shot 217 hours of footage since we began production in May of 2005 and we hope to cull all of that into a feature-length film, so I hesitate to list everyone at this point, but certainly you can expect to see a lot from these people:

Robert Henke aka Monolake (co-creator Ableton Live)
Modeselektor, Bpitch Control
Ellen Allien, Bpitch Control
Wighnomy Brothers, Freude-Am-Tanzen
Bryan Kasenic (minimal techno promoter in NY)
Jimmy Johnson (owner of Forced Exposure)
Philip Sherburne (writer, DJ)
David Day (Label Manager and Marketing Director at Forced Exposure, DJ, writer, promoter)
Mike Uzzi aka Smartypants, Unlocked Groove
Dan Paluska aka Six Million Dollar Dan, Unlocked Groove
Tobias Thomas, Kompakt
David Prince, M3 Summit

Interviews / Appearances (it remains to be seen whether or not all of these people will make the final cut and we have interviewed many more people not included in this list to help us round out the story):/p>

Wolfgang Voigt
Michael Mayer
Reinhard Voigt
James Holden
Anja Schnieder
Richie Hawtin
The Juan Maclean

Any surprising anecdotes that you can share with us (Vitalic actually is a robot, etc.)?

Too many stories to even tell. The whole film is like one big surprising anecdote, but a surprising anecdote with a point. ;)

What kind of role has Philip Sherburne played?

Philip is a character in the movie, and as a co-producer he has been part tour guide, advisor, consultant, and friend throughout the entire process.

Tell me about financing something like this—what sources are you relying on to keep it going?

Plastic, lots of plastic (as in credit cards) and a handful of small private investors and a community of online supporters—although we are nearing the end of our credit limits and this last Europe trip tapped most of the small investments. So we are now really relying on grassroots fundraising online and also an upcoming benefit/screening/art party/happening here in Boston on August 26 at the sQuareone studio space in Fort Point / South Boston (New England’s oldest and largest artist community). We want to stay away from corporate sponsorship, so we are hoping that people who want to see the film made will help us make it. Anyone can donate any amount on our website—we are offering screen credit in the film for any donation of $50 or more. The grassroots efforts are to make the film mirror the DIY attitudes you’ll see in the documentary.

We are also seeking a film producer to help us cultivate prospective investors and help manage the business end of the film…and most importantly we are looking for investors—big and small.

We need another 25K in the very immediate future to finish production in the fall (Camera and equipment rentals, bus/train/plane tickets, gas, tape stock, the Director of Photography’s day rate) and also to purchase a G5 and enough drive storage (several terabytes) to be able to cut the film. We are currently hobbling along with my laptop and a few Lacie Hard Drives. We also need to be able to pay an assistant editor to log the tapes.

It isn’t cheap making a film—especially when the locations are all over the world …even if we eat on the cheap and stay with friends when we can. And, now Scott (our Director of Photography) is paid—he volunteered for a full year, but it is important to start paying him. Fortunately the most expensive part of the production is out of the way—we can see the light at the end of the tunnel—we just need a little more funding to get through the last few months of production and post production.

By May 2007. Then begins the festival circuit and search for distribution. We would like to see the film get international and domestic theatrical distribution, some broadcast play abroad, and a DVD release too—with lots of extras for the collector type.

Related Links
sQuare Productions
Speaking in Code @ MySpace
Photos from Speaking in Code’s Production
Contribute to sQuare Productions [Todd Burns]

May 5, 2006

Tekel & Tim Paris - Marketel & Marketim

Beginning his Marketing Music label with one of the most instantly catchy electronic tracks of 2005, Tim Paris’ “Edges of Corrosion� defied simple name-dropping, despite a cache of vogue cowbells, splashes of Metro Area and more than a passing resemblance to Villalobos’ Waiworinao-guitar hook. In comparison, the third single on the label begins with delayed clicks, vague sonar blips and tempered ‘rubbery’ bassline and drops “Marketel� in the underwhelming realm of tech-house. But Tekel and Tim Paris use the track as a blurred start, eventually revealing the bassline as less bouncy and instead buoyant like an ever-accelerating balloon. On top of this, each the backbeat and layer of shimmer spirals the song into control—providing the anti-keta-dote for the mentally exhausted.

Marketing Music / Marketing Music 003
[Nate De Young]

January 27, 2006

In The Mix: Nate De Young

Following the release of a recent study done by the University of Leicester that found that digital music and downloading causes listener apathy, my Stylus colleague Nick Southall probably ran to the nearest soapbox to proclaim, did you see what I wrote there? For the rest of us, this might not be an epiphany but it does cement the idea that “music burnout” probably won’t get easier any time soon. Especially within dance culture and the sheer volume of singles released each month, it’s practically ensured that apathy can be found on that next series of thump-thump-thump-thump minimal records—if you’re willing to seek it out.

So for my Beatz by the Pound mix, I decided to document my response to burn-out. That is, by limiting intake and squinting my ears as frequently as possible. Most of these tracks come from labels that found a spotlight or two in 2005 and are regulars to the Beatz by the Pound column—Areal, My Best Friend, Border Community. But if songs like Ada’s swinging 8-bit “I Love Asphalt” or Fairmont’s soothing “Gazelle” are any indication, then these labels definitely deserve some undivided attention now and again. As for squinting my ears, Motiivi’s “1939” and Tim Paris’ “Edges of Corrosion” have both forced me to consider how I hear music. Both Motiivi’s paradoxical “expansive claustrophobia” and the Paris’ endless series of melodic crevices question dichotomies that I presume steadfast far too often.

1. Tim Paris - Edges of Corrosion (Marketing Music)
2. Digitalism - Zdarlight (Kitsune)
3. Mateo & Ganteimi Meets Miss Anacoe - Danseur (My Best Friend Ltd)
4. Motiivi - 1939 (Freundinnen)
5. Ada - I Love Asphalt (Areal)
6. Daso - Daybreak (My Best Friend)
7. Fairmont - Gazelle (Border Community)