House music is currently going through a third Renaissance. The first took place in the late ’70s when the distinction between disco and house became clear. The four-on-the-floor beat diverged from the glossy strings and sequin outfits.
The second, around 1997 when the styles of Chicago that Frankie Knuckles and company pioneered became worldwide, with Daft Punk releasing their watershed debut album, Homework. By then, house music was a permanent fixture in the standard music vernacular.
The third wave is still in progress. As house music becomes more than just club music. As house artists begin to rival rock stars and mega-rappers in their global omnipresence in pop culture. Those who lived through the first or the second arm might look upon this association with mainstream culture and scoff—longing for the days when house was the sound of the outcast, the counterculture.
Jake Lubell, Ryan Bohnet, and Wyatt Eichhorn are three of those people centralized on preserving the housestoric legacy. To their fans, they’re known as Lubelski, RYBO, and Wyatt Marshall, and they’re giving back to house music through their record label, Percomaniacs.
Just recently, the trio hosted their very first label showcase. In addition to the three of them playing side-by-side for an extended set to a sold-out crowd, Dirtybird boss Claude VonStroke and Desert Hearts‘ own Mikey Lion and Porky showed up to support their good friends and colleagues in their mission that can only be dubbed, “addicted to drums.”
That’s right. These three house thanes all share an austere affinity for drums alongside an unequivocal chemistry as musicians and as human beings. Dancing Astronaut spoke to them just minutes before they took the decks at their branded first party to get an inside look at what “addicted to drums” really means, as well as how the three of them manifest that vision through sound.
How did the three of you come together, and how did you resolve to start something like Percomaniacs?
Lubelski – Rybo and I met at The Standard in Hollywood like five years ago. I was still in college at the time.
Wyatt Marshall – I’m the late add to the group. Met both of them a little later.
L – But we all just felt like we could talk shit to each other [laughs].
WM – That’s a big part of the dynamic.
RYBO – We had another record label going before [Percomaniacs].
WM – With like five of us right?
R – No there was like six of us, and there were too many cooks in the kitchen.
So it was a blessing in disguise kind of thing?
R – Yeah definitely
WM – But it was more of a natural thing because [Room Temp] kind of disbanded.
L – It fizzled off on its own. There were so many people trying to do it at the same time. It was too many decisions. Too many egos. So it just kind of dispersed.
WM– Things were going way slower and it just wasn’t serious.
L – It was too bureaucratic. So [ RYBO and I] decided to do it with just the two of us at first, but then we were like “Nah we have to have Wyatt as part of the crew. He’s too sick.”
And so as soon as the three of you started working together you knew things were different?
R – Yeah we had a full-on schedule. We were booked out five months in advance.
L – We decided we wanted to be at least half a year ahead before we even got started. We knew we had to do it with a plan.
What do the three of you do for the label individually?
R – I don’t do anything. It’s all Jake [laughs]
WM – I’m part of the label, but I just help out with random shit.
L – Wyatt’s just a cool factor.
L – To be serious, Rybo and I do most of the A&R and scheduling together. Wyatt does a lot of A&R for us. Finds cool artists —
R – And just releases a shitload.
L – Yeah he releases a shit ton of music. He’s our main resident.
This is one for all three of you individually. Percomaniac’s tagline is “Addicted to Drums” so I’m wondering what that means to each of you?
R – For me it’s all about the groove of the track. I’m really into percussion, bongos, and to me, the drums are what really get you moving and get people dancing.
WM – If you’ve noticed the progression of our productions throughout the years, we’ve all gone so far away from big buildups and drops and it’s just one groove all the way through. You take out a few elements and come back, and it’s all about the drums.
L – Less is more. Bongos not bangers. We’re not here to just fist bump.
WM – Say no to party-tech.
L – Yeah Say no to party tech. Stay addicted to drums. We love the old school stuff because it was never really about the massive manufactured buildups. It’s all got to be groove-driven. If the groove isn’t there it’s not a good track.
R – I could play on a drum machine for days.
Percomaniacs’ catalog is very diverse, including everything from Fleetwood Mac edits to minimal tech-house to more upbeat stuff. Given this wide range of sounds, what do you look for when signing a track to the label?
R – Really it just needs to make the people move.
L – Yeah and if it doesn’t feel manufactured, and it feels like it comes from the heart; if it feels a bit more real.
R – We’re open to any genre as long as it works and sounds cool.
L – Yeah we don’t need a bunch of big ass snare rolls. You can do something that is classically cheesy, but you can still do cheesy tastefully.
You say you’re open to any genre, do you see any hard-hitting 135 bpm techno having a place on the label?
R – Ghostea already released a track at 132 with us.
WM – Shit’s just getting faster in general. Even the groovier tech-house shit is getting faster. I just got a track from my homie Steady Rock that’s at 131 but you wouldn’t even know.
R – 125 seems slow now.
WM – 125 seems like 120 in the club.
L – I’m at 129 these days.
WM – I can’t even get under 127.
L – 126 used to be our shit. Now it’s way too slow. But Ghostea has a track coming on our next compilation that’s at 135.
Is it heavy or more groovy?
L – It’s deep and fast.
The three of you all have very strong ties to huge brands in dance music. Wyatt Marshall works at Dirtybird. RYBO works at Hot Creations. Of course all of you have ties to Desert Hearts. How did you take those influences and turn them into something unique like Percomaniacs?
WM – I think one of the reasons Percomaniacs is working so well is because we have role models that have done this shit. And people that we’re so close to and mentors that have all done it so the foundation is already laid out there.
R – We just wanted to make our own thing, and now we know how.
WM – Those guys are just our homies. Just like we’re homies. It’s no different. That’s why they fuck with us. That’s why we really like all them. Cause we’re all friends; just normal guys.
We’re sitting here at the first Percomaniacs party where all three of you are going to play back-to-back, and soon you’re going to do the same thing at Dirtybird Campout. Obviously there are some differences between those two environments. How are you going to approach that set different than this set?
WM – I would honestly say we’re not going to play anything different because it’s a Dirtybird party or this is a Percomaniacs party or we’re playing a Desert Hearts party or we’re playing any fucking party. If we’re all playing we’re just going to play records.
L – Although I will say we’re going to fucking bring it. We’re going to fucking bring it to Dirtybird.
WM – My only goal is to have both of these dudes look over and be like “What track is this” so I can say “You wish you knew.”
L – It is very competitive.
Where do you think Percomaniacs fits in the larger landscape of house music given the mainstream direction that it’s going?
R – I think it can fit anywhere really. That’s our goal: to really broaden people’s horizons.
WM – Be different.
L – Yeah you could listen to it on a massive stage or in a fucking elevator.
R – Or on Sirius XM.
So whatever phase house music goes through in the future, you plan on just maintaining the vision?
WM – Things are always going to be changing. Nothing stays the same forever, but if I look into the future I just see us three making records together.
**This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity and readability.
Photo Credit: 2nd Nature Photo
VonStroke’s first release on Dirtybird in 2019 was the motion-inducing “Getting Hot” with Italy’s Eddy M. The second was the eerie-groove machine, “Comments,” which the Bird-boss made with Zombie Disco Squad and Kid Enigma. Both of these tracks are primetime house cuts, ready for when the dance floor is at its highest.
In contrast, the two tracks on Slink represent the lighter, mellower side of VonStroke’s production preferences. Those who have seen him in action know that he can play for any mood at any time of day and give the crowd exactly what they need.
Photo credit: Upperleft
In perhaps one of the biggest collaborations to hit the airwaves on Sept. 6, The Bloody Beetroots and ZHU have teamed up for “Zoning.” RÜFÜS DU SOL have dropped off a new set of remixes for Solace, including an irresistibly groovy one by Hot Since 82. Grimes and i_o unexpectedly deliver “Violence,” and M83 returns with the dreamy “Temple of Sorrow.” Audien and Nevve bring blissful energy to “Buzzing,” and Cashmere Cat reveals “FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.” Arty is on a journey to “Find You” in his latest, and Walker & Royce team up with VNSSA for “Rave Grave.” KOAN Sound’s new EP lands pm Sept. 6, featuring sounds like “Vibrant,” and Claude VonStroke unleashes a new original, “Slink.” Sullivan King has released a two-track EP, and Armin van Buuren and David Hodges link for “Waking Up With You.” Fox Stevenson finally uncovers “Dreamland,” and 3LAU remixes San Holo’s “Lost Lately.”
As each week brings a succession of new music from some of electronic music’s biggest artists, here’s a selection of tracks that shouldn’t be missed this NMF.
Photo credit: LeFawnhawk
5 Under 15k is a feature on Dancing Astronaut dedicated to spotlighting talented upcoming and undiscovered artists who we believe deserve more exposure. Each edition of 5 Under 15k will highlight five artists from a wide variety of genres with under 15,000 followers on SoundCloud (at the time of writing).
If Claude VonStroke taps you to remix his undisputed classic, “Who’s Afraid of Detroit” then it means you have something special, and Wyatt Marshall (3,060) has something special indeed. Since the release of that remix last year he has delivered numerous house offerings that are as groovy as they are consistent. Whether it be on Dirtybird or his second sonic home of Percomaniacs, count on Wyatt Marshall for the funk going forward. Hop into his latest EP, My Temple, to get started.
It’s common to find that when one starts DJing before they start producing, their music typically invokes a sense of true freedom; as if the open format of DJing allows them to avoid being bound by traditional genre strictures. Nala‘s (1,197) debut EP, Sirens, does that and more. Beyond tapping four top-notch vocalists for pristine top-lines on the release, this EP is the launch of Unstructured, the collaborative imprint with LA’s Understated Recordings that Nala is curating herself.
Every artist has a defining release—that holy grail track on that one label that puts them into a newer, higher echelon of their craft. For Sueldo (399), that track is ‘OTS’ and the label is 40oz. Cult. Of late Sueldo has been supporting hardened dubstep artists like Gentlemen’s Club and playing well-known parties like Space Yacht. Now with the release of this single, he’s only going up from here.
Don’t let the humorous name fool you, Dadmom (2,323) makes some serious music. His latest EP, Infinity, is aptly named as it represents a very diverse musical palate executed with true poise. Each of the three tracks moves fluidly between different genre influences while demonstrating a flair for sound design.
The fact that Cooper Saver only has 4,965 followers on Soundcloud is a concrete example of why numbers like that are not at all indicative of an artist’s capabilities. Not only has he been booking artists like Four Tet and Floating Points at his Far Away parties for years, but he’s also been touring the world and remixing legends like Jacques Renault. Now he’s diving fully into solo productions and the results speak for themselves.
Toronto’s Electric Island series is characteristically known for their long-established home on the Toronto Islands. Known for their signature day-into-night outdoor parties on the island, the seasonal event series has faced an imminent challenge threatening their home base.
Leading into their final event of the season, Electric Island has announced their move to Ontario Place’s West Island, a convenient replacement for the long weekend festivities. Keeping in line with their trademark island atmosphere, the new venue offers an improved landscape for the festival infrastructure.
Throughout the summer, the Toronto Island has been affected by record high water levels, causing flooding in certain areas of the land and a temporary suspension of the ferry service to the island’s main beach area, Hanlan’s Point.
The 2019 season so far has seen stunning performances from artists like Bedouin, Hot Since 82 and Seth Troxler during their first three events throughout the summer. The season finale held over the August 31-September 1 weekend brings highly anticipated bookings to the city, including the debut of masked German headliner, Boris Brejcha and the return of Dirtybird kingpin Claude Vonstroke.
GA and VIP tickets are available for purchase here.
Photo credit: Ded Pixel Agency
Setting up shop again at Lakefront Green, but this time on an all-new grassy terrain overlooking Lake Michigan and the sublime Chicago skyline, on September 7, just before the sun begins to set on summer 2019, Dirtybird will welcome sets from Walker & Royce, Mason Maynard, and an extended set from VonStroke himself, in the city where housework began. The crew will also be bringing along a special, yet-to-be-announced guest in tow, whom VonStroke will be partaking in a highly anticipated back-to-back set with.
Last year’s seminal, sold-out installment of Birdhouse featured appearances from, of course, Dirtybird’s main man, VonStroke, as well as all different accents of the tech-fueled four-on-the-floor rainbow, like J.Phlip, Gene Farris, Will Clarke, and Christian Martin, to name a few.
The second arm will launch equipped with deliciously odd amenities, true to the offbeat Dirtybird emblem, spanning cotton candy to specialty branded prizes. Tickets to Birdhouse Chicago are on sale here.
Photo Credit: Aaron Engler
For Lorin Ashton, widely known as Bassnectar‘s wide and unwavering following, a destination festival headlined by Ashton himself (among a number of resounding guests) on a Cancun resort is nothing short of an earsplitting fantasy.
The four-day festival’s second charter will summon Sub Focus, GRiZ, Caspa, and Claude VonStroke to its sandy forefront. VonStroke will be bringing a highly potent dose of his Dirtybird crew to the beachfront endeavor’s new location, the Grand Oasis resort (a departure from last year’s touchdown in Riviera Maya), too, including longtime label habitues, Justin Jay, Christian Martin, and Worthy.
Per Bassnectar’s website, he and his team have rented out the entire Grand Oasis property for the occasion, likely in response to last year’s installment prompting a number of noise and behavioral complaints from various Rivera Maya non-Deja Voom vacation-goers staying near the festival.
Deja Voom is sold out, but those interested can join the festival’s waitlists for particular packages of interest here.
Featured Photo Credit: DejaVoom
“My name is Claude VonStroke. Welcome to THE BIRDHOUSE.”
Since 2015, Claude VonStroke has been dealing out fresh jams on his radio show, THE BIRDHOUSE, and last week he celebrated 200 episodes with two special surprises.
The first was a guest mix from Chicago house legend and second of half of Get Real with VonStroke: Green Velvet. Every episode of THE BIRDHOUSE includes a guest mix from a different artist, allowing an exemplary occasion for the Dirtybird Boss to host his dear friend.
The second surprise was the world premiere of the first new Get Real music in over three years, taking form as their upcoming single, “Jolene.” Velvet capitalizes on the high-in-the-sky opportunity to give the track a spin in the auspicious mix. The track officially comes out August 23.
Get Real first came to fruition with a mini-tour at the end of 2015, riding that momentum into early the following year, through their first EP, Mind Yo Bizness/Snuffaluffagus. Since then, the dynamic tech house duo has made sparse, but significant appearances around the world. With VonStroke representing Detroit and Velvet representing Chicago, each of their sets is like a history lesson in dance music.
Listen to episode 200 of THE BIRDHOUSE below. Every episode going back to 001 is also available on VonStroke’s Mixcloud.