Wax Runoff: MF-02

If you’ve been keeping a close eye on the dance music circuit you’ll undoubtedly have caught wind of the 2016 return of Mood II Swing. The duo, comprised by John Ciafone & Lem Springsteen, is responsible for seminal underground house and garage hits earning them the favor of DJs since the early ‘90s. With the bubbling excitement of their upcoming set at Smartbar, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to showcase a classic record from my collection – Mood II Swing’s Move Me.

MF-02

Opening up with the title of this release, “Move Me” is a stripped-down stomper of a track. With a straight forward kick and hat pattern, subtle, rolling bassline and classic dub sounding stabs this one keeps it as deep as they come. What really stands out about this track, however, is the vocal sample. Lifting portions of a spoken word record by Barbara Ann Teer, Mood II Swing inserts themselves into a conversation about dance as a means of overcoming depression.

The follow up track, and my pick of this release, is the alternate mix of “Move Me”. Where the original is chunky and deep, the alternate mix is bass heavy and has more of a UK garage flare. Sampling a funky bassline from Booker T & The MG’s “Melting Pot”, the music fits the tone of Teer’s spoken word which is again sampled in this mix.

On the opposite side of the record is “Call Me”, a bright and dancey garage house track. Where the vocal can get a bit cheesy at times, the classic house bass is what stands out most and makes this cut so special. Lastly, the record closes with “Function”, a repetitive boogie-turned-house track that commands you to “let your body move”. The addition of the keys at the halfway mark would make this cut fit perfectly into any ’80s sounding DJ set.

Originally released in 1995 on Music For Your Ears, this one saw a repress in 2014 that you can still get your hands on through Discogs for under $10. With four quality, inspirational tracks that can fit almost anywhere in a set, I highly recommend picking up this feel-good classic.

Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Colin Boardway, of Chicago, is the label manager for Yoruba Records. He has spent the last 10 years developing his sound by digging deep in the bins wherever records are sold.

Max McFerren

Like most New Yorkers, Max McFerren is constantly grinding just trying to survive. A South Carolina native with a background in music education, he moved to NYC in 2008 where he began establishing himself further as a DJ and a producer.

Residents of the city are always finding a place to live within their means as the areas and boroughs evolve in cost of living. McFerren currently lives in Chinatown which he says seems to be more affordable than Bushwick, where he spends a chunk of time at Bossa Nova Civic Club. “NYC is such a hard city to survive in. I think you can get addicted to the constant hustle. Being around other DJs/producers who are also making it is super motivating and maybe also a bit enabling,” he says. “I spent most of this past year hiding out, but there is such a strong community here, and I think it’s all centered around a positive ‘fuck it all’ attitude rather than any single ‘sound.’  I think we all just get so wrapped up in surviving and it becomes a part of our identity.”

Starting at a young age he began producing in high school and delved deeper into house, techno and the club scene a bit later on. His early days exploring creativity were spent just recording things onto a computer and playing with sound. The concept of freedom while producing became a driving force. He says, “When me and my buddies would listen to someone like Aphex Twin I think we would give it the same attention as any other recording artist. It was like, ‘you get 78 minutes on the CD to do whatever you want, what are you gonna do?'” The 1992 release Selected Ambient Works 85-92 by the aforementioned and Prodigy’s Music for the Jilted Generation are two very influential albums for McFerren.

After high school he decided to follow the path to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. Higher education in music is a privilege that many do not have access to, especially within the electronic scene. A world frequented with self-taught artists and many who learn to mix or produce by engaging in the creative cloud.

“I think it’s really important to try and give back somehow and engage people who don’t have the resources available. Obviously big institutions don’t exist without funding, but there are other ways. Start small and engage people who want to know things that you know. Share your life with them. Show them possibilities. At the same time I love to talk about music, but I hate the idea of forcing people to do everything my way. It’s so important to understand the idea of process and figure things out yourself. Ask your own questions and take constructive feedback. All of this is hard and I suck at it but it’s true. Be yourself.” – MAX MCFERREN

He began DJing around 2008 when he moved to the city. His friends ran a basement loft in Brooklyn called The Cave and he also played a monthly at Tandem Bar. But he soon established a residency at Bossa Nova Civic Club after his friend Erika Ceruzzi asked him to DJ a party called Worldwave. He says the party was “pretty mixed up sound wise, but that was cool for me because I wasn’t a part of L.I.E.S. or any other established techno thing. Also involved in that party is a dude named Julian Duron, who is a creative consultant for Bossa under his now defunct company Sisterjam (look out for his Creative Support Group coming soon) and now also releases music as Earth Boys with Michael Sherburn.” McFerren began connecting with the club’s regulars and became close friends with Duron, Bossa’s owner John Barclay and the staff. Becoming more involved with booking in 2014 he finds himself closing out the night. “Closing Bossa is probably the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. It has definitely shaped who I am as a DJ today. I hope I can continue to grow with them,” he says.

complete walkthru max mcferren

MAX MCFERREN – COMPLETE WALKTHRU

Whether performing or producing the NYC artist finds himself inspired by dancing, DJing, the city, friends and lovers, “and more recently just trying to heal” – something we can all relate to. His sound is risky and very human. His edge he says “has always been experimental music mixed 75 percent well.” Currently he has three full-length tapes and one 12″ on Vancouver label 1080p as well as a 12″ and a few other compilations on Allergy Season. Additionally, South London Ordnance caught wind of McFerren’s record Shoot the Lobster and recruited him to his newest label, Aery Metals. Now at a musical crossroads McFerren says he will be focusing on his newest alias Complete Walkthru. “There will be some cool 12″s coming out next year and I’ll probably start working on an emotional full length soon,” he says.

What can you expect from a Max McFerren set? “Context is everything,” he says. “I always try to imagine where I’m playing and who will be there, and how long, and why, and just – everything. I hardly ever play by the numbers which is why it’s usually a varied mood.” Catch him tonight Oct. 15 in Buffalo, NY for the next installation of Strange Allure along with Discwoman’s Umfang. “[We] were discussing going all in with techno and experimental electronic music, so it will probably be very confrontational. But we are multi-dimensional people so who knows!”

Umfang

Emma Burgess-Olson moved to Kansas by way of the Bronx when she was six years old. During her time at college she discovered techno. Now back in New York City living and working in Brooklyn she can be found under the pseudonym Umfang. As co-founder of Discwoman she has been producing music, mixing records, and continuing the dialogue about feminism.

discwoman

DISCWOMAN

Her first true techno experience took place at a warehouse in Kansas City. It was in this moment that she became enamored with the genre and was swooned by the sound system. She says, “I remember it being really exciting, being in these old factory buildings with surprisingly beautiful bathrooms and wood floors and meeting all of these new freaky people. The defining moment was really entering the space and feeling a big sound system for the first time and experiencing the physical affect where I just needed to be immediately dancing.”

New York City’s enticing energy and pace keeps her zoned in. “I feel motivated and stimulated here and I get things done. People here inspire me so much,” Olson says. Along with Frankie Hutchinson and Christine Tran, the three work collectively as Discwoman – a platform and booking agent that promotes female, female-identified, and non-binary artists in the electronic scene. Through their events the collective strives to support and provide a place of safety for people of all races, gender and sexual identity. Bringing “discourse to the dance floor” they take a relaxed feminist approach by using Discwoman as a vessel for change in a subtle but effective way.

“We want to keep changing and adjusting as culture moves around us. We’ve never gone into it with a firm plan, we’ve just acted on what inspires us or what bothers us and tried to activate change in a way that can funnel resources toward people that we feel need more exposure and access. It is case by case who we work with and we want to stay open to not making any rules. The definition of woman has changed for all of us in the last two years.” -UMFANG

Since the first Discwoman party held in Bushwick at the Bossa Nova Civic Club, the platform started another New York-based party called Technofeminism, found at festivals like Sustain-Release and Movement in Detroit, as well as presenting artists at international events. The site’s roster identifies five artists but the group brings attention to flourishing DJs beyond NYC. Olson has helped lead a DJ workshop for women alongside Berlin’s Creamcake in the hopes of providing a place where women can feel comfortable learning the art of DJing.

boss nova civic club

BOSSA NOVA CIVIC CLUB

According to Olson, this secluded setting for women is “not a necessity but I think it is more comfortable when people learn in an educational setting – it’s not as high pressure as a club night. Learning from a woman or non-binary person can be more welcoming since it is already intimidating to learn a technical skill. The less things making you uncomfortable the more you will be able to focus and ask questions. Not everyone is confident and that needs to be OK.”

Her creativity and determination has pushed her along and she has found herself not only contributing heavily to NYC’s scene but has performed at Berghain, played a 7-hour set at Pittsburgh’s Hot Mass, and a few Eastern European countries. In addition to all that NYC inspires, she finds creative sources in patterns, sound, people, textiles, synthesis, and constant change. The sound she puts out is tough, leaning more on the harder side of techno and she has a mission to evoke something inside of you.

“This is just who I am. I don’t think of it as a choice to play hard music. I relate to those sounds and I am lucky enough to have been supported in that. Now I can encourage others to release to these sounds and accept that they might identify with some evil and/or alien noises too. I think it’s really positive and healthy to release feeling and emotion with sound. I like to use different rhythm patterns to refocus the dance floor and sometimes utilize pauses or ambient breaks to stay engaged with the present moment. I really try to present what hits me emotionally or physically and hope it can do the same to captivate others.” 

Catch Umfang at the next installation of Strange Allure in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, Oct. 15.

Wax Runoff: SCHATVV03

Not much is known about Joshua Brent, the enigmatic producer from the Isle of Wight whose Schatrax moniker has churned out some of the most functional dance floor classics from the early ’90s. Though he has reared his head few times in this millenia (for a festival gig or the occasional remix), he has managed to stay top of mind for old heads and new collectors alike by reissuing much of his back catalog over the last year.

SCHATVV03, Schatrax, Vintage Vinyl, Sequencer

SCHATVV03

Schatrax’s Vintage Vinyl series first saw the light of day in 2008 with back-to-back reissues of some of his most timeless tracks. In 2015, the idea was furthered by issuing a series of individually hand stamped, colored vinyl every few months. I’ve managed to add most of these reissues to my collection and while it would be nearly impossible to pick a favorite, I’ve chosen to focus on #3 (Orange) in this week’s Wax Runoff.

Number Three opens up with “Misspent Years”, a timeless and functional track that relies heavily on classic machines, sounds and textures. With some spooky notes scattered throughout the peak, this one will keep it creepy as we approach Halloween. However, what makes “Misspent Years” stand out are its long and drawn out, almost booming bass tones slid underneath the grid-locked percussion. On the flip side we’re given “A Question of Timing”, a chugging house track that could fit just as well into a techno set. With an aggressive bassline that can get lost between the thumps of the thick kick drum, an eerie lead and a chopped vocal sample, this one checks all my boxes. Last, this release closes with “Slumberkings”. Friendlier sounding than the other two on this release, warm Rhodes chords take the lead. Deep and at times spacey, this one is perfect for the late night chill out or after-hours wind down.

With the reach of the reissues spanning so wide, most of these are still available at online retailers, your local shop, or on Discogs for about $10. If you’re looking to add some serious, classic tunes to your collection at a low cost I definitely recommend checking them out.

Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Colin Boardway, of Chicago, is the label manager for Yoruba Records. He has spent the last 10 years developing his sound by digging deep in the bins wherever records are sold.

Bill Converse

Fluidly hypnotic Bill Converse, a DJ and producer, was heavily influenced by the sounds of Detroit while growing up in Lansing, Mich. At 15 years old in 1998 he and his family moved to Austin, Texas where he currently resides and continues to develop an abrasive and immersive experience of industrial techno and acid.

Rave-O-Lution

QUASIMIDI RAVE-O-LUTION 309

Initial exposure to techno happened for Converse while in Michigan and he started mixing as a youthful teenager. Mechanical Pulse, a college radio station out of Michigan State University, is where he was familiarized with Detroit techno, industrial music, and Chicago selectors

He developed solid roots living in Texas and the friendships he made have kept him there. “Pretty much everyone I grew up with here has been involved with music in some capacity the entire time I’ve known them. I’ve always enjoyed that about this place – even though for a long time I didn’t know any other techno nerds, just other types of music nerds,” he says. “But rent was cheap, friends hooked up free food, coffee, groceries and drinks…now the day-to-day isn’t quite what it used to be but you can still have fun.”

The Rave-O-Lution 309 is the first piece of gear that sparked his entryway into the realm. “I’ve always liked making music,” he says. When Propellerhead’s ReBirth was released he spent his time programing drum tracks and “wanky 303 patterns.” From that point on his journey into production began.

“Finally, I began saving up and buying the machines I lusted after for so many years, got lucky and started buying them before they started wearing the price tags they do now.” 

Under the moniker WWC, he originally released 100 copies of Meditations/Industry, a 90-minute cassette of atmospheric acid, in 2013 through Austin’s cassette label Obsolete Future. Three years later the album was edited down and an LP was reissued under the name Bill Converse through Dark Entries, a San Francisco-based label. Establishing a solid foundation for Converse, that record brings a framework to sound that is evocative and dreamy.

“There was nothing pre-meditated about those tracks, they were all sourced from the urge and satisfaction of turning knobs and pushing sliders. Very precious to me. Now the tracks are living on their own, they’ve all grown up and have left the nest – they do what they want to, they have lives and lovers of their own. I’ve had to learn how to let them go. And I still love them very much. They are unfolding into this world quite nicely and I am overjoyed for them.” – BILL CONVERSE

meditations/industry bill converse

MEDITATIONS/INDUSTRY VIA OBSOLETE FUTURE

Continuing deeper, the label explored more of Converse’s catalog and released Warehouse Invocation in July 2016. The EP included three remastered tracks from his previous record and one unreleased track that truly encompasses his raw and enveloping production approach.

He draws a crowd in and weaves his signature sound on dance floors throughout the U.S. and on an international level. Through Intergalactic FM, Converse and his crew Timelife Methrave began “Tunnel Dive” – an online radio show with a mission to promote and support underground DJs and producers. Currently spearheaded by Sylvia Shale, the broadcast specializes in the darker side of electronic music.

Whether eyes closed with headphones on or upon a dark floor in front of a system, Converse knows how to take the listener on an introspective trip. His productions and his sets have a very beautiful and ethereal as well as a brash and haunting spectrum. Explore more and hear for yourself. Care to catch the live experience? Rochester, N.Y. party Signal > Noise will host Converse for the next installation on Oct. 8.