He is a hustler. He uses music as his platform to inspire, bring growth and spread knowledge. If you have ever seen him play records you will see among the crowd a solid core of community friends up front and center. Bruce Bailey is a true Detroiter.
Being born and raised in Detroit directly developed his love for music, he says. “After all, from Motown to techno, us ‘Motor Citians’ have some substantial musical roots. Detroit is known for hard working individuals and I guess that really rubbed off on me.” Initially entering the scene as a promoter he decided to delve deeper into mixing records as he became witness to the inexplicable energy created by the music, the DJ, and the crowd.
His story’s trajectory truly demonstrates how versatile, grinding effort and an attitude that won’t quit can help you achieve your dreams. Bailey is a DJ, a promoter, a music lover and a businessman. Through various avenues and vessels he has established himself by taking opportunities as they come and perpetuating progress. He says, “It’s like working on my craft 24 hours a day is normal or something. I wouldn’t be able to stay relevant today without that instilled work ethic.”
It stretches back to his time spent as an undergraduate student at Western Michigan University. Centrally located between Detroit and Chicago, Bailey (with a foundation of music history from his hometown) started to become increasingly more exposed to Chicago house music. He and his friends were playing vinyl and at the time he says “the record purchasing craze was unbelievable.” They were able to tune into house music on numerous radio stations picked up with his roommate’s high frequency antenna. “I remember many a night (sometimes day) we would sit in the dorm room with sounds blasting, writing down what we thought were the names of new music we had never heard. On weekends we would drive down to the Windy City and purchase vinyl or send word to the Detroit buyers to grab some of this new music we’ve heard.”
As he started to become more established within the scene, Bailey and his partner Vern English worked together to found Tandem Entertainment Company. They both had been spinning since college. “We were getting booked individually at a ridiculous clip. One day we collectively decided that we needed to emerge from the underground way of doing business. So, we added eight or so additional DJs, sound techs and personalities to the team to help cover the plethora of events we couldn’t keep up with beforehand. It not only helped us to totally legitimize the steady stream of revenue but also assist us in multiple tax related ways,” he says. “Over the years ‘The Tandem Brand’ has covered a diverse number of events as our DJ services became mandatory from numerous corporate and underground bookings. To this day The Tandem is the most utilized DJ company in Metro Detroit.”
Throughout Detroit he has held residencies in the city’s most reputable spots. Bailey’s first was at Cheeks, a legendary establishment where Jeff Mills’ Wizard persona came to fruition. The spot was also home to moments like the debut of Inner City’s “Good Life”. In 1991 Bailey went on to become head promoter and resident DJ at Club 246 where he stayed for seven years. It was during this time that DJ Minx got her start, Delano Smith got back behind the decks, and the stage saw the likes of so many local favorites like Norm Talley, Moodymann, Al Ester, and Terrence Parker.
“This is arguably the most historic club in Detroit history and the stories from this era are nothing less than amazing. Probably the most memorable was – well let me set the stage first…” he says. “Club 246 was located on the street level of The Madison Hotel in the thick of Downtown Detroit. The night I was given to run was a Thursday. In the early ‘90s you couldn’t get a continuous weekend night to promote house music at any venue downtown, hence the Thursday night sets began. So, I’d say halfway through my seven year run (on a Sunday if I recall properly) I got a call from the owner saying there was a fire in the building. Now keep in mind all the other businesses within the hotel (including the hotel rooms themselves) were defunct except the ordinarily designed Club 246 and it’s adequately sized walkout patio.”
He continues, “So as you’d guess I’m in limbo regarding this situation as Thursdays were definitely the hottest thing going in Detroit at this time, house music wise. The fire department came out and extinguished the fire and it was a mess throughout the building. I knew we’d be closed for some time with a good possibility of never reopening. To my surprise a few days later I got a call saying that we were gonna try and move forward with opening up – I couldn’t believe it. Somehow we opened and it was super successful. Outta the disaster we got an upgraded sound system (so needed) and for maybe a week or two you could smell faint remnants of smoke, but unbelievably not even for one week did it deter the capacity crowds from supporting.”
After Club 246 closed he moved on to a restaurant called Lola’s in 2002. This residency lasted him about five years which he says “catapulted my brand and solidified a switch, as a week later I became the first resident DJ at TV Lounge.” At the time Bailey’s friend, Tree Graves, was the owner. Formerly called Half Past 3 (now frequently called TV Bar) this venue remains one of the strongest Detroit spots. “You see, Half Past 3 was more so the cool spot for the cities jet setters before transforming into the house/techno mega club that it is today. Sport players and dignitaries flooded the venue on Fridays and the Salsa community filled the joint every Saturday.”
The list of residencies and artists that have performed either inside, on the patio or down the alley at TV Bar is innumerable. With a welcoming atmosphere the club’s energy continues strong longevity to this day for locals and visitors alike. Bailey says, “TV Lounge is a family and I’d like to think I did my share of work in elevating it to the worldwide iconic status it receives today.”
There is an undeniable uniqueness to the Detroit hustle. It is grassroots, unrelenting and if you have seen it before you know there is a genuine confidence embodied in the energy. This is why you see (in many Detroit DJs and producers) this particular attitude which makes their presence so special. Especially during the time before technology, there was a limited accessibility in sharing sounds. It took, as Bailey and so many others did, pushing out hundreds of cassette mixtapes. Speaking to people face-to-face and developing real-time connections was the only accessible avenue anyone had to make their name known. In Bailey’s mind it’s how you set yourself apart.
“Here in Detroit you’d never solely make it in the DJ business if you sat back and waited for clients to contact you. If you excelled here in The D, you must be liked, have a solid game plan and also the intellect to overcome obstacles – hell, I always say if it was easy everyone would be doing it (successfully),” he says. When you see Bailey play on home turf it is so apparent that he has developed and maintained relationships throughout the years. Keeping those personal connections alive is a foundation for success is just about anything.
“Certain things you do dictate your character and I believe that represented mine in the best fashion. Of course my original saying had to go on this sign as marketing waits for no one – ‘the brand don’t build itself.’” – BRUCE BAILEY
There is plenty on the horizon for Bailey starting this spring with the release of his latest EP The Detroit Room through Open Bar Music. He says, “This two track release has been simmering for quite a few months. Additional production by Oscar P and Delano Smith make this a sure fire underground hit for the deep house music fan.”
Additionally, you can also look forward to a two-day boutique festival in Detroit during the last weekend of June at TV Lounge. With efforts from Bailey, the venue’s staff, Josh Guerin and Delano Smith, talent is booked and “people can expect the official announcement sometime early May. Collectively we couldn’t be more excited about our first stab at a local festival.”
Within Bailey is a deeply motivated passion to create and build. He blends together his entrepreneurial spirit and his love for music in a way that is tasteful, genuine and inspiring. The name Bruce Bailey, is more than just a name. “Music for me is a collection of emotions. I love it for the way it brings people together and how it unites communities. Without music there would definitely be a void in my life. I look forward to spreading my love of music around more this year as I have road shows in China, New York, Houston, Chicago, Dallas, North Carolina, Los Angeles and Virginia already set for this year. Yup, I love music…”
Catch Bruce Saturday night in Rochester for Signal > Noise.
BUFFALO, NY – Strange Allure hosts Grey People for their next event installation.
• GREY PEOPLE (CGI, Proper Trax)
• OBSIDIAN DIRECT
• SWAN SWAN H
+ visuals by Frankie NP
+ sound by Emissary Sound
Saturday, April 8th
$10 early bird – sold out
$15 advance – AVAILABLE
– A limited number of $20 tickets will be available at the door –
“so many questions have been made
about this new dance craze, called acid
what people really want to know
is how the story, all goes, about acid…
this is acid
i’m gonna give you acid”
REDUX is bringing you another evening of non-stop grooves. This time bringing in Chicago’s Jarvi and Father of Two from Cleveland.
JARVI // chicago (nbfc, haus of diesel)
Jarvi – aka Acid Daddy – is a representative for the non-binary gender house and techno scene. A member of Chicago’s Naughty Bad Fun Collective, resident at Smart Bar for Planet Chicago (along with Sassmouth and Pat Bosman), and can be found on the dance floor jacking to proper beats. Hailing from Metro Detroit, they were introduced to the music at ayoung age. DJing has always been a dream for Jarvi and in 2013, with the help of mentor Sassmouth, that dream became a reality. Jarvi is additionally curator of the freaky queer club party, Acid Daddy’s Haus of Diesel at Berlin Nightclub in Boystown.
FATHER OF TWO // cleveland (in training)
Father of Two is a co-founder and resident at Cleveland’s queer electronic music monthly, In Training. During his set he draws you in deep, bringing raw, unadultered energy. He works to provide a decentralized approach where he connects the dots for regional dance music and styles from further abroad. Through In Training there is a set intention for autonomous safe living for oppressed and marginalized people regarding gender, sexuality, race, class and ability.
$15 at the door
11 p.m. – late
safe space: come as you are
Sound by Buffalo Pro Audio Group
BUFFALO – PYRAMID presents its next installation of house and techno. Featuring local DJs Kyle Moody, Nate Howell, and Matt vandenBerg.
L’Acoustics Sound System
BUFFALO – For the next installation of Strange Allure, Octo Octa will take to the floor. Opening the evening will be Pure & Supreme.
• OCTO OCTA (100% Silk, Argot, Deepblak)
• PURE & SUPREME
+ visuals by Frankie NP
+ sound by Emissary Sound
Saturday, February 18th
$10 early bird – sold out
$15 advance – AVAILABLE NOW
– A limited number of $20 tickets will be available at the door –
For years Maya Bouldry-Morrison found herself somewhere between two identities. Through her development with music production, and a positive experience coming out to the public, she has grown ever more comfortable as a trans artist known mostly by Octo Octa.
The Chicago native spent her formative years in New Hampshire, but is now Brooklyn-based, at home with her wife and high school sweetheart Brooke.
Initially she started flirting with electronic music in high school after seeing some friends perform with just a computer, Microkorg and maybe a Roland MC-307. She says, “When they were done playing I asked if I could play with them and I immediately went on eBay and got a Korg Electribe ER-1 for something like $80. From then on essentially every day I would go to my friend’s house and we would play around with what little equipment we had and would make some new pieces through circuit bending. We played a couple shows but for the most part we would hide out in a basement and figure out how to make music,” she says.
While studying at the University of New Hampshire, Maya bought Ableton Live to form dance band Horny Vampyre with her friend Jeremy, while using the Octo Octa moniker to explore experimental solo music.
Horny Vampyre is when she really started delving deeper into performance. “Jeremy and I would play tons of college parties plus other shows and the focus was very much on us being right up against the audience. Most of our friends knew a lot of the lyrics so everything would essentially become a gang chant and everyone would flail around. I later took that feeling and somewhat applied it to Octo Octa,” she says. “I was making a lot of IDM and breakcore at the time which was somewhat dancey but felt more at home at a noise show then a college party. At the end of college is when house music finally clicked with me and I figured out that a 4×4 beat at slower BPM would actually make my solo shows more fun and everyone would dance. Once that happened I was all in.”
She continued to perform and produce eventually releasing her debut EP, Let Me See You, through 100% Silk, the house sub-label of Not Not Fun Records. She says, “I was a big fan of Not Not Fun for a number of years and one day I noticed that they had set-up a side label that was going to be more focused on dance music than noise and ambient material.”
With a history producing mostly IDM Maya says she wanted to send productions to Not Not Fun but didn’t feel they were an ideal fit. “So when I saw there was a sub-label that was closer to what I was making I was excited to send them demos,” she says. With the few demos she had, Maya made a Soundcloud account and shared the link to the 100% Silk submission email. “They got back to me a few hours later and said they wanted to put out the record.”
Since then she has had several releases including the 12” Where Did You Go / Through the Haze under Argot, More Times EP under German label Running Back and Further Trips through Deepblak. Her first three albums have been released through 100% Silk, with the most recent Between Two Selves in 2013. She has also been traveling to perform, playing her first European in Germany at the notable Panorama Bar, held a Red Bull Music Academy residency in Manhattan, and has also performed Barcelona’s Sonar Festival.
Her influences range from classic WARP records, IDM, drum ‘n’ bass, Los Angeles record label Tigerbeat6, and has been supremely inspired by gender fluid trans artist DJ Sprinkles. Also known as Terre Thaemlitz, she is a prominent producer, DJ and theorist in the scene.
“I always like the display of watching people find out she’s a nihilist. I don’t always agree with what she talks about, but watching her be the ultimate curmudgeon is a refreshing perspective that I don’t think we hear enough from,” Maya says, reminiscing about Sprinkles’ lecture at Sustain Release this year. “Terre is significant to me because she was the first trans producer that I knew about that wrote music that directly spoke to me in terms of both ideological content and sound. That was something that had never happened before. I feel like that is something that would happen for a lot of people with like, punk/hardcore. When I was growing up hearing new music for the first time, going to shows and seeing people perform, even if I enjoyed it – there wasn’t a whole lot that connected on a significantly deep level. I was a diehard drum ‘n’ bass/jungle fan in my teens and even that which got me extremely hyped and excited, there was still always a little something missing, even if I didn’t know it yet. Midtown 120 Blues had this pull unlike anything else I ever heard before. It just clicked and I heard parts of myself in it.”
Maya began her own transgender process in 2012 and officially came out just a few years later, inspired by the story of Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace, previously known as Tommy Gabel. Maya first told her wife (a cis woman who identifies as queer) and eventually opened up to her family. Maya made the public persona change from male to female and says the entire process was positive and supportive, except for a couple comments from the public. “I haven’t had many issues being a trans artist beyond the garbage I have to handle when traveling. Dealing with TSA, documentation, and gawking passengers is obnoxious but something that passes once I’m where I need to be. Overall I am a more comfortable performer now that I’m out, so as a whole everything has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. That also might just be the culture as a whole right now especially in underground dance music circles. If I had come out in 2013 like I had originally wanted to I may have had a much harder time.”
“I’m especially happy right now being more involved in the queer community. I’ve identified as queer since I was a teenager, but since I never came out to my parents my queerness wasn’t something that I would publicly discuss. Therefore I also wasn’t seen as someone who was queer and I wouldn’t necessarily be invited to play queer parties even though I really wanted to. They were the spaces I felt the most comfortable in.” -OCTO OCTA
During the same year Maya started coming out, she was also suffering from debilitating anxiety issues. In addition to expressing through artistic creativity, Maya explores further into how she manages her anxiety and promotes self-care in her own life. She passes on advice for others who deal similarly, especially now as there’s an increase in emotional strain during trying times.
“The first thing I try to do during an anxiety episode is figure out if there is an external issue triggering it or if it really is just an internal issue. When I feel an episode coming on and I need to be like ‘am I stressed because there is a deadline, am I forgetting something, or is it just my brain today?’ If it’s an external issue or issues I break it down into discrete pieces and do them one at a time. I also make lists when I’m really worked up and cross them off as they’re completed which will make me feel better. If I’m just having a hard day for no apparent reason then my self-care is to clean my apartment, work on music, take a bath, and maybe go for a walk to clear my head. It may or may not work, but trying anything beyond just shaking and thinking about how screwed I am helps. Talking to friends I’m sure also helps a lot, but if you’re like me then you’ll be like ‘oh I don’t want to burden them.’ I typically wait until my partner comes home and then tell her everything. That’s something I really need to improve.”
Continuing on with producing and performance, Maya has several opportunities on the horizon. This month she’ll be releasing an EP on Paris-based label Skylax as well as Brooklyn label, Love Notes. With an album to be released on Honey Soundsystem this month, she said she’s hoping to make an overtly queer statement with the record, as her last album – Between Two Selves – was more ambiguous regarding Maya’s personal life. Keep a look out later this year for her second 12″ for Argot and a second EP for Deepblak. Additionally, she’s putting out a split record with Ames Henry for her friend’s new label, based on their monthly party Frendzone. “Then beyond that I’m planning some other things. So, busy busy busy!”
You can also catch her playing as Octo Octa for the first time at Movement Festival in Detroit this year. “I am very excited to be playing Movement this year! The only other time I was there I was playing an off-site DEMF party to a couple people. We went to TV Lounge afterwards until the party there got shut down and then I had to fly home the next day. So it was a very short trip. I’m glad that this year will be different.”
From the moment she bought her first piece of gear, Maya has developed an unbinding relationship with music, while simultaneously liberating herself. “It’s the most intimate and participatory art form. I feel like it’s the best art form that you can consistently engage with in different ways and it’s also mobile so you can interact with it anywhere. Sound plugs directly into you. It can strike emotions in me in a way that looking at a painting doesn’t. Being a creative person, music is the thing that’s most connected to me and has allowed me to express myself in a way no other art form could.”
Catch Octo Octa tonight at Strange Allure in Buffalo, NY.
BUFFALO – First installment of the new jams. Come fresh and come correct we have a nice one on deck. From minimal to techno Matt & Molly will be bringing the noise to us for a 3 hour set.
Line Up ::.
Matt & Molly (Community Links) – Boston MA
Rufus Gibson (REDUX, GMR, Igloo)
As always this a sucka free zone. Everyone is equal at parties like this and the love will be properly shown in this room. See you all on the floor ❤️
Fresh into the New Year, Sequencer and Redux join efforts to present an evening of no holds barred techno.
ISRAEL VINES // los angeles (borrowed language, eye teeth)
For over two decades, Israel Vines has challenged and embraced listeners by recontextualizing sounds from a wide range of genres and eras. A product of the ’90s rave scene in the US midwest, Vines’ early interest in industrial and left-leaning electronic music readily merged with his exposure to Chicago house and Detroit techno, and that mix of influences is felt in his DJ sets and productions.
Despite years of dedication to DJing, Los Angeles-based Vines remained relatively unknown until he launched his now-retired label, Borrowed Language, in 2010. Through his collaborations with Jeff Pietro, he honed his sound prior to releasing his own solo material on respected labels such as Cult Figures and Semantica, while stepping into the world of remixing for the likes of Erika, Makaton, and Stave. Now, he has found a more permanent home on the Eye Teeth imprint — an offshoot of Detroit’s long-running Interdimensional Transmissions label, where he released the well-received (and regularly caned) WWKD EP. Vines has also released collaborative material with Chicago’s Kit Geary under the KGIV guise on Horizontal Ground, with another EP forthcoming on Eye Teeth.
KAMAL NAEEM // berlin (blank slate)
Berlin-based Kamal Naeem is the owner of Blank Slate, an independent record label devoted to providing a range of musical voices, from techno to afrobeat. He has been a music lover ever since his mother blared Nausat Fateh Ali Khan, his father introduced him to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and he listened to Louis Armstrong’s rendition of Disney songs. Established in 2012, Blank Slate was founded during his time in Ithaca, NY and is continuously putting out heavy hitting records.
On Saturday night at Strange Allure, Ge-ology performed one of the most powerful and grounded sets I have seen. His track selection and execution was meticulous. He provided an evening that spoke volumes to where we stand on both a united and disenfranchised front, all the while working those turntables with an undeniable precision and rhythm.
The whole evening was a blur and went by far too quickly. But I must say the disco ball was shining harder than usual that night. And beneath it, we danced.
We danced for those that we have lost. We danced for the never ending fight. We danced for the hope to gain ground. That we can for one second catch a break. We recognized the unfairness of it all. Why this? What now? Who? Okay.
On a daily basis we are pummeled with anxious twits and fiddles as we make our way along. We hope to find resolve. In some places we do. Like Saturday night, on that black and white checkered dance floor.
For several hours some of us don’t touch our phones once. Completely wrapped up in the moment we are not bottoming out into self-consciousness and drowning ourselves in the falsehoods of social media. We let our nerves work themselves out, sweat ourselves clean and breathe easy.
This mess of a year has left us rattled and torn but we continue to spot one another. We check in to see if each other is OK, taken care of, and comfortable. We make sure that if someone is in need, we help. We protect one another. We love.
So yes on that dance floor we pushed straight forward through the vortex and the gunky build up of where we’re at right now. The tired days and long nights and inability to find work. Accepting submission because on a structural level, we have to. Dealing with the pressure to go to college followed by crippling anxiety that we now have thousands of dollars indebted to our name with a degree that doesn’t get us much. The apartment we leased that’s falling apart. The flags that represent what we are being stolen from our porches and burned. The violence was strong this year and for some reason society started believing false news sources instead of seeking reliability. It’s all tearing us apart.
Our anxiety and panic is growing stronger but authorities tell us that those issues make us incapable and unacceptable, and doctors push pills on us to heal. Many of us have forgotten how to heal ourselves. Slowly we continue to numb ourselves. We indulge in our vices to keep ourselves afloat, or we slowly inch our way to the edge and consider the leap. But no one talks about that because perhaps we’ll be committed, maybe someone will confirm that we’re just insane. Suicide rates are high, but why do we ignore that and push it off into the dark when someone is feeling isolated. When the feelings bring us to drugs and maybe those substances start to hold an unrelenting clutch on our lives, feeding off of our hopelessness. We have seen each other lost to the fray, and so we will throw on black dresses and shirts and tend to our empathetic hearts at funerals and wakes.
Many still do not understand that sexuality is on a spectrum and gender is not binary. Spaces like this, beneath that disco ball, we create with a purpose. We build these places from nothingness to fill with music and art and freaky people. It’s a space to remind us that we are not wrong, we are not alone, we are wonderful the way we are.
We, the Women, are still embedded with fear as we walk the streets alone. We keep our rape secret. We hide our tears because if we don’t we may not be taken seriously. Some of us may not have been born this way but maybe we identify as women and that puts us in a dangerous zone where discrimination is life threatening. Our fellow female and female-identified peers are still dealing with our long history of oppression.
We as Men are emotional beings but must maintain our masculinity otherwise we fear we’ll fade into a void and stand for nothing. Do this, do that. Some of us are unaware of the pure terror of embracing femininity, so we overcompensate with masculine aggression. We forget it is okay to cry, but tear ducts remain backed up and if someone else shows their emotion and vulnerability we push it off. Yet, we somehow forget that society has groomed us this way.
As young students we were taught about racial segregation and although much has changed since then the discrimination is evermore prevalent. Maybe there aren’t separate water fountains anymore but our news stories and human interactions show that balance has not yet been achieved. We all have our own heritage. And we make our dance floor special because each of us stays present in our own unique way.
We now live in a country being run by a reality TV star. Our environment is on a disastrous path. Our rights are being questioned and in some cases taken away. Borders seem to be a constant theme. We watched white supremacy bubble back up to the surface and for days at a time, we would weep in the arms of our loved ones. Swastikas were found emblazoned on public surfaces and terrifying hate messages were being spread. We didn’t want to leave the house.
I hear some of my favorite lyrics ring through my mind – “he pulls out a stack of books. And I said, ‘excuse me brother, you said you were gonna arm me.’ And he says, ‘excuse me young brother, I just did’.” Those words resonate so strongly with me lately as I see my fellow brothers and sisters uniting now more than ever. Educating themselves. Fighting with love. Pushing forward.
This is why we do what we do. We find comfort and home on the dance floor. Through movement we shift that energy that’s stuck inside of us and we feel it vibrate. We teach one another. We hug and love and smile and cry. We push our bodies. We don’t stop.
Looking back and celebrating one year of Strange Allure parties in Buffalo we can see how Western New York house and techno has grown. We are not a big city scene with plenty of resources available at our fingertips. We are born from rust, growing after collapse and must embrace the DIY attitude. In the past year we can see the ways we have become stronger as individuals and the changes that have brought us to this place in time and to this space.
I found myself bathed in rainbow light and then Ge-ology put on this one record that started to burrow it’s way into that hidden part of my heart. It didn’t bring me down per say, but it drew reality closer and opened me up. This is the world we live in. This is a true American dance floor. I separate from the sparkling light just briefly and find myself dancing alone toward the corner in front of the left speaker and as my pent up frustration with it all bubbles up I want to cry. For the people we’ve lost and the pain we all feel. For the stupidity that I see everyday. Knowing that regardless of all the progress we have made there are still so many people – those in power – who have not shifted their perception in decades. But then I look around me on that floor and I see those familiar faces and I remember: we’re all doing this together. Feeling it. Living it. Being it. This is why we’re under this disco ball tonight. And then, with that thought, I find myself smiling.
As the world seems to be crashing down around us, we will dance. As the light reflects off the mirrored ball as do bits of ourselves refracted among one another. We’re grooving through it. We’re striving toward it, but inherently by coming together as a group with an intention for a better tomorrow, we achieve just that.
We did it. And we will continue to do so.