Wax Runoff: Detroit Favorite [LA VIDA 001]

The week of the reckoning is finally here. People have gathered their best pieces of black clothing and the requests off from work have been approved. Starting tomorrow and through out the weekend folks from all over the world will begin arriving in Detroit for debauchery and impeccable dance music. There are a lot of great parties to attend and, of course, the festival itself has reached almost legendary rapport.

One thing that strikes me every year at some point or another is the realization that each year I hear a few tracks with out fail. There are records that are so well made – so fantastically funky, that it’s essentially never a bad idea to play them. Pepe Badrock’s “Deep Burnt” always gets a spin or two; Scott Grooves’ “Movin’ On” also comes to mind. But the one that always jumps out exactly when it’s needed is the lead track off New For U, the premier LP on Andres’ record label La Vida

NEW FOR U ANDRES

LA VIDA 001

The record was released in February 2012 and ever since has maintained a massive following of fondness. Astonishingly, 5,000+ Discogs members want LA VIDA 001, which is pretty impressive for a somewhat newer release. It’s a very unassuming little slab of wax; sealed in a flat white cardboard sleeve and featuring track listings and small label logos on a white label.

While A1 “New For U” is the breakout star of the record, the second cut on the A-side is a wonderful piece of music as well. While not a dance floor igniter like the former track, it’s made with such amazing warmth and perfection of sampling that Andres is famous for. Lo-fi drums and delicate vocal looping at a slower tempo make it great track for very early in the night. It’s hard not to love based simply from the skill in the arrangements and mastering.

The flip side gets a bit back to the groove of things with Jazz Dance. A lot of DJs have told me that they actually like B1 the most of all. It’s more stripped back and has a lot of breathing room. From a mixing standpoint it layers very well. The juice of this tune lies in the rolling bassline that doesn’t quit very often. The filtering and frequency of over all of each instrument sit astounding well in the mix, creating a splendid finish to an amazing record.

These tracks all bring a bit of something to the table. Part of the reason people champion Andres’ work so much is because the engineering involved in the sound design is so admirable. When you have these massive, expensive, top of the line sound systems to work with, Andres records will always shine on them very well.

People trade this record around a lot. There are constantly new listings on Discogs and I personally got this record only this year when a copy was found in the backroom at my local shop and then put on the shelf. Stay vigilant for it if you dig the tunes and want to own it yourself.

See you in Detroit!

Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Nick States, of Boston, bought his first vinyl record in 2010 and has been hooked ever since. The record shop tends to be his first stop in an any city he visits.

Harm Reduction Efforts Make Dance Floors Safer

Historically the dance music scene has been intertwined with recreational drug use and will definitely continue. But a recent uprise of deaths and emergencies, especially in a festival setting, have gotten people talking more and more about harm reduction. This public health approach helps curb dangerous risks by providing information and practical strategies that will ultimately help guide decisions and keep people and dance floors safer when engaging in potentially risky behavior. DanceSafe is one of many organizations that is on a mission to provide harm reduction services specifically within the electronic music scene.

First and foremost it is important to note and disclaim that by publishing this piece I am not encouraging or discouraging recreational drug use. I firmly believe that preventative health and making an educated decision is always the best measure. If you choose to use, be aware of the general effect of certain drugs but also understand that each individual has different reactions. Prepare yourself appropriately and treat yourself with care. Harm reduction efforts throughout the world are striving to help others make confident, educated decisions by ensuring certain levels of safety services are available when taking risks.  

DANCESAFE FOUNDER EMANUEL SFERIOS AT LIGHTENING IN A BOTTLE – PHOTO COURTESY OF NY DANCESAFE

DanceSafe was founded in 1998 by Emanuel Sferios in the San Francisco Bay Area. After initially using MDMA in 1986 as a form of therapy, 10 years later he started to learn about the misuse and abuse of substances and the deaths arising from fake ecstasy pills. Inspired to help he established DanceSafe so people that choose to use would be doing so knowing exactly what substances they were taking and how those substances might effect them. As a designated 501 (c)(3) public health organization, DanceSafe embodies an ethos to promote health and safety within the nightlife community by operating under the guise of two fundamental principles: harm reduction and peer-based popular education. The organization upholds a non-judgmental attitude that neither condones nor condemns drug use.

“A nonjudgmental approach denotes an approach rooted in acceptance, genuineness, and empathy. This allows drug users, who are often stigmatized, to feel comfortable talking to us about their concerns and asking questions,” says Kristin Karas, director of programs for DanceSafe. “A non-biased approach allows us to remain credible with our participants. Scare tactics don’t work because individuals will discover what they were told was not true and will develop a mistrust for the information provided to them. Because we don’t shy away from mentioning the positive effects of substances, our participants take us seriously when we warn them of the risks.”

Karas completed her bachelor of science degree in public health studies with a concentration in community health at East Carolina University. In addition to her work with DanceSafe she also founded the Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter at her alma mater, and has done work with the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, Pitt County Coalition on Substance Abuse, and Insomniac’s Ground Control Team.

DanceSafe, and other similar organizations, use a “safety first” approach to reduce drug misuse and empower young people to make informed choices. Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a national organization which funds medical research on MDMA, LSD, and other psychedelic drugs. They continue to fund harm-reduction strategies for events where such drugs are taken recreationally. “We need to discuss this not in a prohibition context, but an education context,” explains MAPS Founder Rick Doblin in an interview with the Toronto Star. “You will still end up with the fact that there are risks, but how do we, as a society, respond to that?” Additionally, the group recognizes that cause of death from party drugs is usually obscured by calling it an overdose. “What the person could die of is whatever it’s mixed with, or dehydration, or some other constellation of factors.”

Given the legal climate and general stigma regarding recreational drug use it is important programs such as DanceSafe exist. A prohibition-style approach can often lead to misinformation. This lack of education during an individual’s risk assessment will more than likely result in an uneducated decision, potentially putting a person in physical or mental harm.DanceSafe

“Prohibition, simply put, does not work. It didn’t work for alcohol in the ‘20s and ‘30s and the War on Drugs has failed. Scare tactics have been ineffective and led to a general mistrust of information and treating drug use as a criminal issue has contributed to a wide variety of health issues,” Karas explains. “Harm reduction works best because it recognizes drug use as a public health issue – not a criminal one. Rather than stigmatizing drug users, harm reduction treats them with dignity, compassion, and understanding because harm reduction recognizes that individuals are inherently going to engage in risky behaviors such as sex and the consumption of substances and thus it’s best put in place measures to mitigate such risks.”

It is important to discern that DanceSafe (and organizations like it) are directed to assist non-addicted drug users. Recreational drug users are stigmatized by the public eye and underserved in the health community regarding harm reduction and preventative safety.

“Non-addicted recreational drug users have lacked access to care and have been stigmatized for their personal choices regarding their own body. Many drug education programs, such as DARE, have contributed to the health gap by utilizing scare tactics instead of factual, unbiased education,” Karas says. “Furthermore, many individuals lack access to important harm reduction services such as drug checking. This is especially true in the nightlife community where promoters are hesitant to work with organizations like DanceSafe due to The RAVE Act.”

In the beginning of the new millennium the United States began specifically targeting and utilizing scare tactics as a means to control the electronic dance scenes. The RAVE Act, or Reducing American’s Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act, was introduced in 2002 by Senator Joe Biden; it was passed by Congress the following year and renamed the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act. As a piggyback on the Controlled Substance Act (otherwise known as the Crackhouse Law), the RAVE Act expanded “findings” that identified specific criteria that would deem an event one that promoted drugs, by legal definition “a rave.”

Rave became defined by this legislation as a movement of young people being “initiated into the drug culture at ‘rave’ parties or events (all-night, alcohol-free dance parties typically featuring loud, pounding dance music)”. Although drug education, free water, and an air-conditioned “chill room” for party goers could help save lives, these findings became paraphernalia and grounds for prosecution under penalty of law. In response, fear began to grow. But the music will never stop, so dance music events pushed further underground and off the radar, sometimes into more dangerous environments.

Many began to recognize that by inhibiting harm reduction services there was an increase in emergencies due to a lack of education and preventative health. Amend the RAVE Act is a campaign developed in 2014 by Dede Goldsmith in response to her daughter’s death. At a club in Washington D.C. her daughter, Shelley, died from hypothermia and then cardiac arrest. Her mother thought, possibly, it was due to an adulterated substance since no one else had died that night. But after receiving the toxicology report they found the diagnosis to be pure MDMA. “I had to look into what MDMA (Ecstasy) was, and the more I looked into it, the more I realized that probably wasn’t what killed her,” Goldsmith said during Catharsis on the Mall: A Vigil for Healing the Drug War. “More than likely it was the situation that she was in.”

Her mother recognized that there were factors about the venue that had unsafe measures such as no crowd control, and inadequate water with bathroom attendees that forbid people to fill their bottles. She identifies The RAVE Act as the fear inducing wall keeping promoters from implementing safe setting measures. With this effort she petitions that language be added to the pre-existing law “to make it clear that event organizers and venue owners can implement safety measures to reduce the risk of medical emergencies, including those associated with drug use, without fear of prosecution by federal authorities.” 

For example, the chill out room, has been frequently incorporated into parties for safety measure. Whether using a substance or not, an enclosed dance floor can become hot due to the collective energy and movement of numerous people. If a person happens to take Ecstasy (or any other substance that effects the regulation of body temperature) a chill out room acts as a space for people to cool their internal body temperature and stabilize their heart rate. Doing so decreases the chances of physical emergencies. However, due to The RAVE Act, chill out rooms can now be seen as “paraphernalia” and grounds to be deemed as a drug party.

“Many venue owners and event organizers refuse to allow harm reduction workers into their events because they are afraid that even acknowledging that drug use occurs will make them liable to prosecution under the RAVE Act.” – DEDE GOLDSMITH

In response to that need for education and assistance, DanceSafe’s chapters throughout the U.S. as well Canada can be found at events and festivals to provide a number of services. Most importantly, they provide a safe space to engage in dialogue about drugs and health topics relevant to the dance community. Information provided by DanceSafe is unbiased fact-based information about the effects of substances and potential harms. Volunteers of DanceSafe are also present to offer a first point of contact when someone may be in a risky or challenging situation.

PHOTO COURTESY OF DANCESAFE.ORG

To help people make informed decisions DanceSafe has capability to provide a drug checking service at events and festivals. The adulterant screening, or pill testing, within nightlife communities is pivotal in keeping dancers safe. Karas says “when we do provide drug checking, it is with the consent of key stakeholders such as promoters, venues, and law enforcement. In its most effective form, drug checking is provided openly and combined with an early alert system. Early alert systems will give updates to medical and compassionate care services (psychedelic harm reduction) so that they may be better prepared to treat their patients. Additionally, early alert systems will warn patrons of adulterated or misrepresented substances being sold onsite so that they may avoid the ingestion of such substances.” In addition to on-site testing, DanceSafe also founded the only public accessible lab analysis program in North America for Ecstasy. It is currently hosted and managed by Erowid at EcstasyData.org. This platform provides a public search system for pressed pills, their characteristics, test results, date and location.

When I was growing up, my father always told me to stand up for myself, others, and what is right. I strongly believe that ‘what is right’ is providing factual, unbiased information to individuals so they may make educated decisions about their own body – free of stigma.” – KRISTIN KARAS [DanceSafe]

Volunteers have water and electrolytes available at event booths in an effort to prevent heatstroke and dehydration. Safe sex tools are provided for free to prevent pregnancy and STIs as well as information about safe, consensual sex practice. Free ear plugs are also available to help prevent hearing loss from booming sound systems.

Beyond the booth, the DanceSafe website houses a multitude of informative content on various topics including safety tips as you prepare for any upcoming events or festivals.

Use the buddy system. Always travel with a friend and communicate openly about what substances you have taken or plan to use. Also, don’t be afraid to let them know how you’re feeling. If you are starting to overheat or maybe things are starting to feel a little too weird, your friend should be able to help you, talk you through it, or get the help you might need.  

Non-stop dancing and dehydration go hand-in-hand, especially when you factor in a substance, crowded dance floors and hot temperatures. Heatstroke and dehydration can happen and can cause fatalities, even without the use of drugs. Make sure you take time to cool down, drink 500ml of water every hour and eat a salty snack. Be sure to also replenish your body with electrolytes which serve as a supplement for maximum hydration. Drinking too much water (hyponatremia) can be fatal, causing the sodium level in your blood to dip too low.

LSD EFFECTS

FACT-BASED INFORMATION ABOUT LSD PROVIDED BY EROWID.ORG

Know your dosage and your source. Remember that old adage: you can always do more but you can’t do less. Be conscious of how much your dose is and make sure your source is reputable. Unless your substance is tested, you can never be too sure what you are taking. For example, the New York State Drug Enforcement Administration reported that of all drugs in 2013 reported to be “Molly” only 9 percent were actually MDMA. Also, if you choose to start mixing substances (like combining stimulants and depressants) be aware of the possible effects on both your mental and physical health.

Be sure you are getting proper sleep and nutrition. This may seem difficult to do (especially in a festival setting) but your body maintains a natural balance when you have proper rest and nutrients. Eat healthy meals and be sure to rest before and after dancing sessions.

Use earplugs to protect your hearing. Sound on the dance floor can reach 115+ decibels which can cause irreparable damage in a matter of seconds. The DanceSafe booth has free earplugs available but if you are looking to invest in your own pair there is a range to choose from. Basic models land in an affordable range (check out DownBeats or Earpeace) or you might choose to invest in a pair of custom earplugs, like ACS. Although a bit more expensive, these help protect your hearing while also maintaining better quality of sound.

RAVE ETHICS

RAVE ETHICS ZINE PRODUCED BY IAN GOOD, CATHERINE HILGERS, BENJAMIN INCH

DanceSafe promotes safe sex practice by urging people to use proper protection from unwanted pregnancy and the spread of STIs. The organization also has tips to protect yourself and others from sexual assault. In safe space environments it is natural for people to let their guard down. Unfortunately our world is not free from predatory people who will try to take advantage of that. Adhere to consent and have open communication and respect for others regarding sex in any form. If something is making you or someone else uncomfortable, speak up and address the situation directly or tell someone else.

What can you do to help? Educate yourself. Don’t spread misinformation. Learn about substances and their effects through academic books and articles, and truthful website sources, such as Erowid.org. If you participate in recreational drug use make sure your body is healthy and fit, be conscious of underlying health conditions you might have and be sure to exhibit self-care before, during and after. Protect each other on the dance floor. Be aware of your surroundings and if you or someone is disrespecting the space and/or others, do something about it.

Don’t forget that if things start getting uncomfortable – no need to freak out, it is only temporary. Find a safe place to calm down. This might require removing yourself from the environment, having some water, taking a seat or getting some sustenance. Just keep breathing!

If you are attending Detroit’s Movement Electronic Music Festival this Memorial Day Weekend, stop by the DanceSafe booth. They will not be providing on-site drug testing, but you can engage in a number of their other services. Say hello, get some information and grab some earplugs if you need them. They are there for you.

Keep talking, keep learning, and remember – just say “know” to drugs. 

Wax Runoff: Modern Detroit [VQ035] [PLE65350-1] [BCR007]

With Detroit’s Movement festival inching closer and closer by the day, excitement continues to grow across the stratosphere of dance music. Whereas last week’s Wax Runoff contained a few records from the crucial early days of Detroit techno, this week we take a look at some of the modern labels representing for the D.

Visionquest, Planet E, and Blank Code all manage to pump out splendidly solid Detroit tunes, each with their own flavor and take on the booming rhythms. Though bending the rules to be interesting, fresh, and new, these imprints preserve the nature and vibe of the best the Motor City has to offer.

Seth Troxler, Shaun Reeves, and Lee Curtiss’ powerhouse label Visionquest is an instant talking point when discussing the important Detroit players of the last decade. I’ll be the first to admit that there is some really corny and imperfect music on Visionquest, but the releases that do hit the mark always seem to remain on heavy rotation. The 35th release [VQ035] from 2013 Jadore featured one of Norway’s most enjoyable exports – producer Terje Bakke. This record actually introduced me to Terje, who has had some amazing releases across a handful of labels before and after this release. Somewhere between house, minimal, and techno, this record takes a lot of what is loveable about European dance music and breathes in the classic fat and dry Detroit sound. Plenty of loops and subtle changes make it perfect for a pre-midnight DJ set or a relaxing Sunday drive.  And if you’ve ever been to Movement in the past, odds are that someone at some point has recommended you find yourself at the Need I Say More party thrown by the Visionquest crew every year on Monday morning. It’s without a doubt one of the best sound systems in the city brought in for a day of delightful classics, rare gems, and forthcoming heat. Definitely not a label or party to sleep on.

 

 

Planet E has actually been around since 1991. Carl Craig has been the mastermind behind its development which could play a part in why it continues to put out sturdy, relevant techno tracks. The Last Decade EP [PLE65350-1] is credited to Carl Davis which is a single-use alias taken up by Carl Craig for this release. The tracks are broken down into “Sketches” that truly put classic Detroit styles front and center. Most notable are the nods to the electro and bass styles that originally got Detroit started on the path of electronic music. Dark and stiff tracks litter the A-side, but the true secret weapons of the record are Sketches 5 and 6 that feature more downtempo and chilled out beats. The juxtaposition of production styles traditionally used for hard, slamming tracks against the soft and slower soundscapes is nothing short of fantastic. Carl is always around the Motor City on Memorial Day weekend and his sets are not to be missed; if given the chance, make sure you stop by to enjoy his grooves.

 

 

Of course, no modern Detroit sound discussion would be complete without touching on the heavier, more grinding style of techno. Blank Code is the youngest of these three labels, but has wasted no time making a very respectable name for itself. Rituals Of Submission [BCR007] by Luis Flores could not have a more appropriate name. The record features two originals and two remixes containing tight drums that slap and big powerful synth blasts. With kick drums that could knock your wig off, the tunes are wonderful odes to the confusing and at times terrifying sonic onslaught experienced at true Detroit parties. The tunes just feel like a warehouse when you hear them. Blank Code is also responsible for the Interface:Scene after party which happens each year on Sunday night during Movement weekend. The back room of The Works is transformed into a mini warehouse with only a single pulsating strobe light and enough sound to disperse a small crowd of protesters. As one friend once put it, attending the party is like “having your brain-grapes crushed into wine”. Tickets for this year’s shindig are currently at final tier, so act fast if you want to secure your seat in the spaceship. An added bonus: Mr. Flores is on this year’s lineup and promises to be a delightful set.

 

 

So whether you’ve been knee deep in 303s since ’92 or you’re just getting into the Detroit sound recently, there’s plenty of tasty sounds and labels associated with and dedicated to Detroit. The city is truly a deep catacomb of influence and output. There’s really so much to find and talk about – this piece could easily be 10 pages long. One consistent aspect is the undeniably crisp style present in all Detroit releases. As for the releases here, they can be hard to find and expensive but at least are not as tough as the classics from last week.

Consider swinging by Detroit Threads during your visit to the 313 to support the local wax peddlers. And if diggin’ in the crates is your thing, Record Graveyard comes highly recommended, complete with an authentic old and dilapidated Detroit feel to it. Even if you don’t have time to support the local record scene, enjoy your Movement weekend by getting out to as many different spots and parties as possible. The wide variety of music bearing Detroit’s proud heritage is seldom matched anywhere in the world.

Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Nick States, of Boston, bought his first vinyl record in 2010 and has been hooked ever since. The record shop tends to be his first stop in an any city he visits.

Wax Runoff: Detroit Classics [KMS 008] [MS 002] [M-012]

It’s mid May and that can only mean a few things. Kids are excited about ending the school year, gardeners are preparing to watch their seeds bloom, and techno heads are gearing up for their annual pilgrimage to the mecca of electronic music.

Each year thousands of people descend upon the Motor City to take part in Movement, formerly known as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival. The party will rage on in the streets of Detroit and within the scenic riverside Hart Plaza from Friday night until Tuesday morning this Memorial Day weekend. We here at Sequencer thought it was appropriate to have a special Wax Runoff series for the weeks leading up to reflect that. This week’s will showcase the early Detroit labels and records that pushed the city to the legendary regard it now holds.

Intercity’s Groovin’ Without A Doubt [KMS 008] in 1987 set a new bar for production and style during a time when most electronic music producers were still focused on electro styles. The deep rolling bass and compressed drum machine claps began captivating club dwellers and after party know-it-alls rapidly. Kevin Saunderson was exploring new four-on-the-floor rhythms at higher tempos and the reaction from crowds was undeniable. Whereas Adonis was impressing more hip and trendy dance music lovers in Chicago via the legendary Trax imprint, the Detroit boys were hard at work crafting grittier, more rigid and raw tunes that aesthetically reflected the city’s reputation as a working class production powerhouse. These early KMS releases would cement Kevin Saunderson in the techno hall of fame, where he’s been ever since. Kevin saunderson

That same year of 1987, Transmat records released its second press from Rhythim Is Rhythim [MS 002] featuring the timeless title track “Nude Photo” by Derrick May. With frenzied bass blips and the same hard drum machine reliance as other innovative artists that shaped techno at the time, this track instantly became a frequent choice of all late night Detroit DJs. To this day, it’s rare to spend Memorial weekend in Detroit and not hear this tune, or one of the countless remixes and edits of it. And what’s particularly interesting is that on the flip side “The Dance” took off in Britain, where huge numbers of people that dwarfed the size of the Detroit scene at the time would go crazy for it at warehouse parties and outdoor field raves. It is absolutely one of the records that started a long and storied love affair between the U.K. and Detroit.

The following year in 1988, Metroplex was starting to stylistically catch up with other groundbreaking labels of the era. It was clear that fans of dance music were really responding to this new techno genre. A good friend of Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May – Juan Atkins – was well aware of the shifting trends and released Interference / Electronic [M-012] to create another incredibly influential 12”. There were quite a few versions circulating the city, but all of them featured “Interference” mixes 1 and 2. These two tracks were Detroit’s take on the acid sound that would become internationally known. A relatively inexpensive and disregarded Roland synth known as the 303 was given new application to create wildly slippery mid-range bass patterns that modulated over the course of a track. These acid tunes put dancefloors in a hypnotic state, with long playing times becoming a norm for the style. A recent recovery of the foundations of acid music in past years is a testament to how incredibly important these early Detroit compositions are.

The true beauty of the Detroit sound is rooted in the fact that these records are timeless. Good, solid techno music has not changed much in terms of definition. It is often hard to tell if curious techno bangers are the work of some savvy young producer or are old forgotten gems.  While newer stuff may be more technically advanced, the whole idea of techno has never existed as something that aims to exist as a grand gesture. There has always been an infinitely larger focus on rhythms and grooves – the same rhythms of the factories and street life that dominate the city known for it’s most respectable work ethic. Anyone can dance to techno; anyone can become part of the family.

These records are hard to come by nowadays. The early presses of Detroit techno were plagued with shoddy vinyl quality, misprints, and pressing plant disasters. On Discogs, the sneering in-the-know record hoarders will charge at least $20-30, with some Metroplex and Transmat releases selling for hundreds. As with all old records though, there is the constant chance of coming past them in dollar bins at record stores nationwide, presenting an enjoyable and rewarding hunt for those who know.

So whether house, techno, or even newer genres are your thing, for this Memorial Day weekend enjoy yourself in Detroit and look after one another. Be a friend and welcome new people into your world with open arms in the spirit of the original Detroit scene that launched all this crazy music we enjoy so much. And perhaps most importantly, keep your ears peeled for the classic tunes we all love.
   

Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Nick States, of Boston, bought his first vinyl record in 2010 and has been hooked ever since. The record shop tends to be his first stop in an any city he visits.

Wax Runoff: THUG 006

Tevo Howard has been a fixture in Chicago’s dance music history for decades. An artist who wears many hats, he is an accomplished DJ, composer, writer, instrumentalist, and live performer.

In 2014, I picked up The Drapes in the Living Room EP at Gramaphone Records in Chicago after seeing it featured prominently on one of the recommendation walls, among the many prolific local house producers. Before even listening to the record, what drew me to the release was the beautiful black and white hand-sketched artwork on the cover from the Chicago-based street and fine art creator, Slang. Thug Records out of Sydney, Australia was a label I was unfamiliar with prior to picking up this release, but it’s catalogue contains offerings from Larry Heard, Jeff Samuel, John Tejada, and even DJ Slugo.

tevo howard

THUG 006

Recorded at Tevo’s own Beautiful Granville Studios in Chicago, all four of these tracks are lush, warm, and intimate, perfect for home listening or perhaps an early evening opening set or late morning after hours gathering. I tend to shy away from including a lot of melody-driven music in my own DJ sets, but these tunes are groove-driven enough to work well when transitioning to and from more beat-driven tracks. As with many of Howard’s releases, all four tunes feel familiar in terms of their connections to the classic Chicago house “sound” paying homage to those traditions in their structure and classic drum machine samples. However, they have a clean and modern finish. The EP was impeccably engineered by Dietrich Shoenemann at Complete Mastering, which contributes to their polished and professional aesthetic.

What stands out in all four songs, for me, is the thoughtful balance between the forward-moving bass lines – which have a touch of funk – and the rich, velvety pads. They’re dreamy, but not meandering. They’re persistent, but not at all repetitive or pedantic.

When my son was about three months old in 2015, I was on maternity leave from my day-job, trying to figure out how to navigate the beautiful but often stressful “newborn” phase while itching to get back to DJing. I had a baby that was a great night-sleeper, but had a difficult time taking those necessary daytime naps. Baby-wearing and mixing records saved my sanity during those early months because I would play a few tracks for him and within a few minutes, he would drift off to sleep in his carrier, allowing me to keep enjoying my favorite hobby. I ended up recording these practice sessions at home once a month and released three of them in a little mix series I called “The Lullaby Sessions.” Tevo’s “Shaquanda” from The Drapes in the LivingRoom E.P. is the third track on the first mix. The baby always really loved that one.

Unfortunately, this EP is out of stock with most online record retailers and very few sellers have it listed on Discogs, so if you find this gem in your local brick and mortar shops, definitely pick it up for a gorgeous addition to your house collection. The more I revisit these tracks, the more I appreciate their simplicity and sensuality.

Wax Runoff is a weekly feature that will showcase new finds and crate favorites. Guest writer Elly Schook (aka “Kiddo”) is a DJ and vocalist living in Chicago. She has been DJing since 2004, but has been collecting vinyl since she was a little kid. She still gets as excited about buying a new (or “new to her”) record as she did when she was five years old.