With rampant overdrive and reverb, the warehouse music Alex Ridha pulls into yet another Boys Noize mix grabs its listeners by the chest and throws them into a dark dance floor filled with sonic booms, thuds, and hisses. In the culture surrounding this music one can find leather-clad punks bouncing from dusk to dawn to repetitive acid-synth arpeggios in clubs around the globe. A complex melting pot of techno, punk rock, and disco house gives Boys Noize the unique sounds and image many associate with the project.
There is something beautifully sinister to be found in the sweaty incantations that a mix like this places over its listeners. In this featured mix for The Ransom Note, Ridha teases out samples from and remixes of tracks in Mayday, his latest feature length album. Listeners can hear vocals from “Overthrow,” “Euphoria,” and “Midnight” cutting in and out between hypnotic kick drums and erratic breaks.
In an interview with The Ransom Note that accompanies the release of the mix, Ridha opens up about the inspiration, motivation, and history behind his music. Tracing his roots back to the 1980s house with names like Farley Jackmaster Funk, Steve Silk Hurley, Marshall Jefferson, and DJ Pierre, Ridha accounts his early days in DJing as a 15-year-old in Berlin gay and house clubs.
The atypical culture surrounding Boys Noize mentioned above seems rooted in Rihda’s 1990s experiences, such as seeing 2manyDJs mixing techno with punk-rock by Iggy & the Stooges. Ridha ends the mix by mixing punk rock with techno, enigmatic of the Boys Noize project, but also historically ironic because Iggy Pop hated techno. When interviewers ask, “what does your music sound like,” Ridha responds appropriately: it’s like “punching into a sunny side up egg.” Ridha’s jovial attitude brings to mind the yellow smiley face symbol iconic to acid house and adopted under the Boys Noize name for nostaligic merchandise. The interview is full of comical remarks by Ridha, and the mix features a transformed vocal with his unique “drink more water” introduction, which is a recurrent trope throughout many of his mixes.
Layton Giordani is a distinguished rising talent in the techno sphere, earning a spot on Drumcode in 2016 as part of the fifth A-Sides compilation. Now, he’s returning to his new home label to unleash his debut album Where It Begins, which will offer his growing fan base an intimate window into his creative explorations.
The first taste of the album comes in the form of “Good Violence,” a potent techno track which pummels listeners with crisp, yet hearty kicks and a smooth melodic progression that keeps a consistent flow until its finished. Vocal samples interspersed add a hint of retro appeal to the otherwise contemporary piece, making for yet another Drumcode classic while foreshadowing a high caliber album ahead for the blooming techno icon.
“Good Violence” will be released with the rest of Where It Begins on February 27.
Techno is increasingly stepping out of the underground confines it was once relegated to, thanks to artists like BlackGummy, Rezz, and LA’s Andre Haglund. Better known as Drezo, the 26-year-old producer has a knack for pulsing, ominous techno, though releases from his catalog frequently experiment with evident hip-hop and house inspiration.
For his latest offering, Haglund sticks to his warehouse roots with a dark new remix. Crafting an aggressive flip on Tchami and Malaa‘s “Prophecy,” the producer brands the once buoyant house tune with his sinister techno seal. Marking his first release of 2017, Haglund is offering up his remix free of charge.
Modifying the original with slight shifts in tempo and melody, the “Guap” producer swaps Tchami and Malaa’s playful bounce for a pummeling bassline. Chopping and layering the original’s sample selection with a heavy dose of reverb, Drezo adds another ace remix to an already impressive arsenal of inventive reworks.
Russian DJ and producer, Nina Kraviz has always been an advocate for pushing psychedelic, experimental artists into today’s dance music spotlight. Since establishing her innovative label трип (pronounced ‘Trip’) in 2014, Kraviz has remained a pioneer for top production and mind-bending music.
Recently, Kraviz announced the exciting news that she will be launching a sister label to трип, called GALAXIID. The new label is reported to focus on experimentally psychedelic ambient music, and will release books in addition to artists’ music.
Two acts have already been pegged for the first few releases on the label – Russia’s Species of Fish and Icelandic pioneer, Biogen, who has an album forthcoming on трип. GALAXIID also reportedly aims to put out compilations of abstract sounds from Japan and psychedelia from 1970s Russia.
GALAXIID’s first event will be held March 25at Printworks, a new 5,000 capacity music and arts venue based in London. Nina Kraviz and Luke Vibert will headline the show, with supporting live performances provided by 808 State, Aleski Perala, Bjarki, Doppleffekt, and PTU.
An air of dark, hypnotic beauty presides over Guy J productions – a power which the Israeli progressive wizard employs in his latest, “Diagonal.” It’s positioning as the B-side to his MDQ/Diagonal EP fits its identity perfectly as “MDQ’s” darker cousin, cruising through tantalizing and deep synth melodies sprinkled with exotic elements which give the mind something new to latch onto with each listen. Sharp, yet lush percussion pierces this entrancing overlay, adding a meditative drive that adds to the finesse “Diagonal” exudes.
MDQ/Diagonal releases through Guy J’s Lost&Found imprint on January 27. The release follows up his brief return to his original home label Bedrock in the form of an equally seductive “2026.”
Tomorrowland has just made some exciting new announcements for their 2017 stage setups, which will be backed by some of today’s biggest electronic music superstars and leading record labels. Yesterday, January 19, Canadian record label, Monstercat made headlines across the internet as they announced they will be hosting their own stage at the European festival, which kicks off July 21 in Boom, Belgium. Tomorrowland has announced their community-driven theme to be “Amicorum Spectaculum,” meaning “show of friends” in Latin. As the theme’s name suggests, its primary goal is to promote unity between festival-goers and genres of all different demographics.
Alongside Monstercat, stages will be hosted by major labels such as Adam Beyer’s Drumcode, Sebastian Ingrosso’s Refune, Martin Garrix’s STAMPD Record, and more. Other genre-specific collectives such as I Love Techno and hardstyle’s Q-Dancewill host stages at the event as well.
The festival’s second weekend will bring forth further notable entity partners, with stages hosted by the likes of Spinnin’ Records, Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak, Armin van Buuren’s A State of Trance, Eric Prydz’s PRYDA, and more.
Tomorrowland’s melange of different sounds and genres, which includes over 65 collectives, labels, and artists, will easily mark the sprawling gathering as one of the most highly anticipated events of this year. With an already stacked assortment of genre-leading pioneers, we are all eagerly standing by for the stages’ lineup announcements to be made this coming Monday, January 23.
View the full list of Tomorrowland 2017 stages below:
Kim Ann Foxman has come a long way since her high school rave days in Hawaii. Once a member of seminal indie-dance act Hercules & Love Affair, Foxman has gone on to to become one of the most in demand and taste-making DJs on the scene, landing regular appearances at Berlin institution Panorama Bar while holding down a residency at Brooklyn’s intimate Good Room. Never one to chase trends, Foxman rather creates them, building on her deep foundation for underground dance music to offer salient original productions and remixes for labels such as her own Firehouse Recordings, Maya Jane Coles’ I/AM/ME, and others.
Foxman’s latest offering, the Energy EP, draws from her rich influences to create an intoxicating blend of modern dance with a nod to the past. “Energy EP dives into my rave roots,” she explains. “It includes a selection of tracks to be enjoyed at different times of the night.” “E4 Energy”, premiered below, is a fiery acid-laced anthem, no doubt aimed at a bustling dance floor in the heat of the night. The familiar acidic squelch of the 303 starts off the track as vocal chants and thick drums work their way into a heady, modulating groove. After an emotive breakdown, Foxman dives back into the beat with a definitively quaking energy, undoubtedly inspiring some poignant moments on the dance-floor. Foxman’s story behind the unique cover art for the EP proves why parents shouldn’t force their children into beauty pageants.
Techno stars Pig&Dan are coming off a dream year in clubland. Between #1 Beatport tracks, lauded releases for Drumcode and their own ELEVATE, and appearances alongside dance icons Adam Beyer and John Digweed, 2016 was definitely a career year for the Spanish duo. Never content to rest on their laurels, P&D have come out of the new year swinging, delivering an explosive menacing remix for Italian rising star Dast on Drumcode-affiliate Luca Agnelli’s Etruria Beat label.
Quite the track in itself, Pig&Dan’s take on “Ixor” drives the energy to an even darker devilish territory. Building with thick 909 kicks and a faint vocal loop, layers of brutish synths swell as cymbals clatter above and hint at the madness ahead. The result is a no-frills dark techno beast ready for full throttle peak-time action. It’s no wonder that Etruria Beat continues to be a favorite label for some of techno’s leading stars with releases such as this, definitely expect more from both the duo and the Eturia Beat imprint as the year unfolds.
Pig&Dan’s “Ixor” remix will be released on January 23, but is available to stream in advance below:
Techno has been an unshakeable force in American electronic music culture since its stateside inception in 1980s Detroit. In recent years – particularly since the unofficial “EDM boom” of 2010 – techno has served as an underground resistance of sorts to many of dance music’s more commercial iterations. Since assuming this role in the US dance music dichotomy, techno has appreciated a substantial surge in popularity. As taste-makers become compelled to form their own events, and as event producers become more tasteful themselves, there has been a visible push to elevate the sounds of the underground to a broader stage.
In Los Angeles, Minimal Effort stands at the forefront of this endeavor. Founded in 2013 by industry veterans including Cyril Batar, Minimal Effort set out to create something “raw,” that would appeal to the underground tastes of seasoned club connoisseurs, but would also attract broader audiences in an effort to expand the Los Angeles techno scene. As Bitar puts it, “Our vision is to instill the existence of awareness and appreciation of sophisticated dance culture in LA—but above ground so it’s accessible to all.”
Three years since its establishment, Minimal Effort continues to grow as a major influencer in the LA techno renaissance. The company’s success – particularly with their benchmark Halloween and New Year’s Eve mini-festivals – has been the result of their resilience, adaptability, authenticity, and most importantly, their tasteful bookings. Though inevitable complications led Minimal Effort to switch their NYE 2016 event to Downtown LA’s Globe Theater at the last minute, the show was resoundingly successful in bringing the underground to the city’s surface.
Henry Saiz Live Band. Image by Chris Soltis.
For their New Year’s Eve event, Minimal Effort refashioned the Globe Theater into a three-tiered manifestation of club culture’s different facets over the course of a 12-hour party. Upstairs, nestled just past the VIP viewing balconies, the Space Yacht stage hosted the lineup’s most widely-accessible acts in the venues most upbeat setting. Evoking the essence of a lounge, Space Yacht recruited the talents of tech house and deep house fixtures such as Amtrac, Kastle, and Sacha Robotti, offering respite to those wishing to socialize or take a brief break from the warehouse sensibilities below.
The Basement stage, as its name suggests, provided quite literal representation of underground house and techno. Led by Mikey Lion, Porkchop, Lee Reynolds, and Marbs, the Desert Hearts Crew took command over the party’s subterranean level. The Southern Californian collective reveled in the darkened cavern’s sonorous acoustics, taking advantage of the warehouse ambience afforded by its minimal lighting as the ideal forum to promote their core mantra of “House. Techno. Love.”
Basement. Image by Jamie Rosenberg.
Desert Hearts bookended the Basement stage’s itinerary with a diverse blend of house, techno and wildly divergent samplings throughout their intermittent tenures. From 7:00-9:00, the cabal of performers heightened attendees’ energy for the tribal stylings of South American luminary Nicola Cruz, the eldritch techno of the quickly ascending German bellwether &ME, and dutifully-woven, electro-infused offerings from legendary British duo Simian Mobile Disco. From 1:00-4:00, Desert Hearts returned to their post, allowing underground carousers to continue the Basement’s bacchanalia well into the wee hours of 2017.
Minimal Effort’s main attraction for the evening was, of course, the Theater stage, which allowed attendees the rare opportunity to see icons of techno’s underground in a full-fledged concert setting. As the bulk of attendees filed into the venue in the hours leading up to the ball drop, Human Resources (Bitar’s own duo with Ahmed Elwan) and Francesca Lombardo took center stage. Lombardo would reprise this role the following day, presiding as the headliner for Minimal Effort’s New Year’s Day recovery event, to which concertgoers were given complimentary access.
Audion. Image by Chris Soltis.
The sacred responsibility of ushering in the new year was bestowed upon Audion, the experimental techno alias of veteran DJ Matthew Dear. Indeed, no performer on the festival’s bill could have proved to be more fitting than Dear for two reasons. Firstly, Audion’s electrifying brand of techno matched the raucous energy of the NYE countdown far better than the more somber tones of his successors would have. Secondly, there is an ephemeral, perhaps epochal nature to any Audion set; Alpha, Dear’s 2016 album under his alter-ego, came after a decade-long hiatus from the Audion project. Among the crowd, there was a tacit appreciation for the ability to catch the Texan techno maverick in 2017, as it may be quite some time before the opportunity re-emerges.
Recondite provided the Theater stage’s first set of 2017, and likely, the event’s most-anticipated. In November, the German producer purveyed an EMOTY-nominated Essential Mix consisting entirely of his own music, cementing his status as one of the year’s most fervently-acclaimed techno artists. Amid the uninitiated, Lorenz Brunner’s primely-slotted set invoked a palpable sense of wonderment regarding how he would translate the essence of his definitive BBC Radio 1 set into a live context. Indeed, Recondite did not disappoint, as he transported his audience into an abyss of ominous, cerebral, and deeply mesmerizing techno. Arguably one of the night’s most scintillating moments revealed itself in the climax of Brunner’s “Warg,” as the crash of its inaugural snare pervaded throughout the venue in a cold, sonic eruption that would not leave spectators’ spines until the next day’s hangovers arrived.
Stephan Bodzin. Image by Chris Soltis.
If Recondite was Minimal Effort’s darkest act, then Stephan Bodzin was the festival’s albatross – guiding wayward listeners back into the light with his utterly transcendental instrumentations. Yet, this light would prove to be beguiling, as Bodzin plunged into more sinister realms. Evoking the essence of Mercury, Bodzin’s minimal, yet shimmering visual backdrop set an awe-inspiring stage for the legendary techno pioneer’s auditory journey. Standing solemnly behind a Moog synthesizer, Bodzin traversed a wide range of emotions and sensibilities, never pigeonholing his performance to one reductive essence.
Minimal Effort’s attendees concluded their night at the Theater stage with the psychedelic visuals and celestial stylings of the Henry Saiz Live Band. Providing the most ethereal set of the night, the outfit’s live instrumentations displayed a different facet to the techno festival, and offered a hope-inspiring transition out of the festival and into the new year.
At the end of the 12-hour dance marathon, it was clear that techno is continuing to become a much larger force in the Los Angeles club scene, and Minimal Effort is going to be a large part of this ascension.
Dance culture has proven to be a vehicle that defiantly stands in the face of adversity, and techno producer and DJ Seth Troxler is certainly one of the scene’s most outspoken advocates leading the charge.
Tonight, January 6, London’s famed Fabric nightclub will reopen after having its license revoked by the government due to a drug-related death in the venue in Summer of 2016. The venue’s forced closure was followed by a #SaveFabric campaign and a successful appeal to reverse the city’s ruling. Troxler appeared on BBC News for a roundtable discussion about the controversial decision and the never-ending topic of drugs in dance music and club culture.
“Drugs are a social problem…this isn’t only a club problem,” Seth argued when asked if drugs are an “integral part of clubbing culture.” The DJ continued, “When you look at pop music today, or pop culture, drugs are littered throughout the entire culture. The idea that dance music culture is to blame for drug use is completely ridiculous.”
Seth stated the following when addressing other sub-cultures afflicted by drug abuse:
“There are drug deaths everywhere. There are drug deaths on the street right now in London because of the heroin epidemic, but no one is talking about that. I think this is more of a story where the Council was trying to gentrify the neighborhood and using Fabric as an example for their greater will.”