ROCHESTER – Signal > Noise celebrates their birthday with three beasts: Pittsburgh’s Aaron Clark and Shawn Rudiman and Chicago’s Sassmouth.
Perhaps no one else is as responsible for putting Pittsburgh on the map recently like AARON CLARK. If you’ve been plugged into the scene over the past several years, you’ve undoubtedly caught wind of the throbbing, sweaty techno revival happening there, at one of the events Aaron helps curate and promote with his crew Humanaut (recently celebrating their 10th-year anniversary!) and the notorious queer collective of which he’s an integral part, Honcho. What you may not know is the dancefloor weapon that Aaron Clark is when he gets behind the decks. Dynamic, subterranean beats mixed with maturity and surgical precision is what Aaron brings to whatever sound system he rocks, be it Berghain in Berlin or Rochester’s Signal>Noise.
Chicago’s Sam Kern, aka SASSMOUTH is the jet-setting queen bee of the American underground techno/house scene. Her reassuring presence and constant hard work on so many fronts has helped energize, catalyze and unify the U.S. scene. Sam’s passion for dance music and its lifestyle is unquestionable. She runs the always-on-point God Particle record label, is a resident DJ at Chicago’s Smartbar and San Francisco’s As You Like It, and with the Naughty Bad Fun Collective, is responsible for one of the most beloved events during Movement weekend in Detroit every year, Industry Brunch. Besides all this, Sam is an absolutely incredible DJ, and a simply wonderful human being whom we cherish and are thrilled to have back in Rochester, which is somehow still standing after her last appearance here in 2014
Pittsburgh’s SHAWN RUDIMAN is part-man, part-animal, and part-machine (he can also be quite the party animal, but that’s another story). Shawn annihilated the Signal>Noise dancefloor upon his last visit with the explosive 100% hardware live performance that he is renowned for worldwide. Many in-the-know techno-heads everywhere regard his as the best live techno PA on the planet, and we at Signal>Noise unanimously agree. Shawn has been a staple in the world techno community for almost two decades, playing at clubs, raves and festivals like Tresor and Movement Detroit regularly. You simply haven’t witnessed the pure, unadulterated fury of techno until you’ve witnessed Shawn Rudiman and his machines raging at full blast. on a killer sound system.
<<< DJ LINEUP >>>
[Honcho | Humanaut PGH]
[God Particle | Smartbar CHI]
[Detroit Techno Millitia | God Particle | 7th City]
<<< PARTY ESSENTIALS >>>
Saturday > January 28
45 Euclid > Rochester > NY
[10PM – 4AM]
The year was 1989 in post-industrial Northeastern Pennsylvania when Shawn Rudiman and Ed Vargo created Total Harmonic Distortion, Rudiman’s first introduction to making electronic music. The two artists became self-taught creating a band that became a solid influence in the world of Electronic Body Music, a varied Belgium-born genre that takes influences from electro, punk and post-industrial.
Currently based in Pittsburgh, Penn., Rudiman is fervently creating and exploring the techno world. Why techno?
“Music is the best escape, therapist, and consoler I’ve ever known. Techno is forever the future, alternate reality and unwritten parallel universe that will always have a hold on me. It’s home.” – SHAWN RUDIMAN
During the 1990s he developed an affinity for vintage hardware and is now known for his solo work performing live analog sets. His rig consists of: Roland TR-8, Access Virus A, Alesis MMT-8, Korg Electribe Sampler 2, Arturia MicroBrute, Future Retro 777, Future Retro SWYNX, FMR RNC Compressor, and the Boss DD-7. This hearty collection of gear allows him to take things anywhere stylistically, he says. When he is not performing with them, Rudiman is maintaining, fixing and modifying vintage synthesizers.
“Analog is as valid as any other form of synthesis really. To me … it’s just where I fell into. I’m no purist. I’m more a road warrior or rogue samurai looking for the most comfortable sword or weapon. I can’t expose one form of synthesis over any other, since they all have purpose and times to shine,” he says.
This free-flowing way of performing for Rudiman means breaking through structure and playing off-the-cuff, allowing emotional adaption during a live set.
“I started out 17 years ago now, playing sets that were very formatted, and rehearsed. It’s crushing to me. And massively limiting. I can’t play a set more than once. It’s boring. I don’t want to be bored. I never want to have to play that way with techno. To me, techno is always on the edge of failure — that thin razor edge. That’s what gives it feeling, not perfectly rehearsed or choreographed. It’s raw, wild, and possibly a car wreck. But also enthralling, gripping and demanding your attention. It’s responsive and operates on the crowd’s output, as well as my own feelings.”
He now has releases on 11th Hour Recordings, Bleepsequence, Cache Records, Detroit Techno Militia, Integrated Recordings, and Minimalsoul Recordings. Additionally, he established the store and label HyperVinyl Records with Trevor Combee, leading to a friendship with the notable Detroit techno musician Anthony “Shake” Shakir.
Along with Jwan Allen and Adam Ratana, Rudiman runs Technoir Audio out of Pittsburgh, Penn. He has toured internationally playing in places like Detroit, New York City, Berlin (like the Berghain and Tresor) and other areas of Europe; his most recent performance was held earlier this month at the Great American Techno Festival in Denver, Colo.
“Honestly some of my favorites aren’t the big or famous clubs. This past year playing Movement at the festival itself was one though. It was a life goal for me. Another was a gig in Glasgow, Scotland about 10 years ago. Just great people and crazy, wild times. Those are the ones that you cant put a value on, for me,” he says.
Rudiman will be performing alongside Sam Kern, aka Sassmouth, this Saturday, Oct. 17 in Rochester, N.Y. for the next Signal > Noise installation. Not only are the two friends but they have worked together professionally with a recent release by Rudiman under Kern’s label, god particle.
“Sam’s one of my favourite humans. It was complete chance we met really. I can’t say enough good things about her. She’s family. She’s easy to work with, to me, and we see fairly eye to eye. She picked those songs from a pile I sent her; she chose wisely. Working live with her on the decks and me on my crap is easy — she can feel flow and knows how to make it happen. She reads the crowd. So we work well as a duo going back and forth. We are on the same page so it makes it easy,” he says.
For the past 15 years Chicago has been the adopted home for Sam Kern, who otherwise goes by the moniker Sassmouth. After growing up in the punk scene as a teenager in the Northwest, she was brought to the city in 2000 working as a flight attendant.
“I didn’t discover Chicago house and Detroit techno until I moved here, but once I did, I was smitten immediately … we spent most of our time going to clubs like Crobar, Rednofive, and Red Dog for Boom Boom Room. For many years my friends and I would regularly caravan to Detroit to get our fix for more underground parties,” she says.
Detroit played a significant role in her foundation as an artist, as she made her way to the Detroit Electronic Music Festival (Movement Festival) each year since the second annual event in 2001, with the exception of 2010 for the birth of her daughter.
Chicago and Detroit became such inspirational sponges for Kern which went on to establish and influence her DJing and producing. “I really can’t think of a better place to soak in the culture and surround yourself with badass mentors than Chicago and Detroit. If you go to a party here, chances are you are surrounded by amazing DJs and producers that really set the bar high and constantly inspire each other.”
While learning to mix Kern said she would carry around a little notebook and after hearing something that piqued her ear she would would ask around, scribbling down the artist and name of the track, meanwhile also establishing a network in Chicago bringing her down more paths.
A multi-tasking master, Kern juggles a variety of things including running the Naughty Bad Fun Collective, holding a residency with As You Like It, developing the Industry Brunch parties, and creating her own residential party series at Smart Bar.
The Naughty Bad Fun Collective, based out of Chicago, began around 12 years ago comprised by a tight-knit community, including Kern. She says they were “just a group of friends that loved dancing right up front next to the speakers and partying together. We could fill a dance floor wherever we went. Someone pointed it out to us and I think that kind of inspired us to start throwing our own events.” The party began to manifest as an underground event finding home anywhere the group could muster, often in giant lofts or warehouse spaces. For a while NBFC parties were being held in “The Rave Dungeon,” the basement beneath Kern and her husband’s apartment, or hosted at their friends loft in London that they called “Club Regret.”
Life spent living in London inspired her creation and establishment of the Industry Brunch parties in Chicago. What started as an underground daytime party at a friend’s restaurant has become a staple event in Chicago and has also successfully taken place in Detroit during the city’s major festival as well as throughout the summer months.
“My husband and I lived in London for a few years and were inspired by all the daytime events there. You could get a full night’s sleep, wake up, have some breakfast, and enjoy music on a Sunday afternoon. We also liked the idea that many of our friends who do work as bartenders and various service industry jobs could enjoy going out on their day off. It has been really special to watch how it’s evolved in Chicago.”
Additionally, Kern also makes her way to the West Coast, holding down a residency with As You Like It, a promoting group based in San Francisco, Calif. She met AYLI founder Jeremy Bispo about 12 years ago when she was just learning how to DJ.
“Some friends and I traveled to Los Angeles to see Richie Hawtin and Sven Vath and I guess we were dancing extra hard and probably fist-pumping. Jeremy walked up to me and asked where I was from and I said ‘Chicago!’ without missing a dance beat. He got a big smile on his face and said ‘I figured! Nobody dances like that in L.A.!’ and we became instant friends and kept in touch over the years and would meet up at parties across the U.S. when we could,” she says.
Bispo invited her to play an event in 2010 at a place called the Compound, also known for Lee Burridge’s Get Weird parties, in San Francisco and at 7-months pregnant she played her last gig before giving birth.
“The Compound was a fantastic underground space with a capacity of around 150 and had an ‘in the round’ setup; the speakers, visuals and even the crowd surrounded the DJ in a circular-shaped room. It is still one of my most favorite parties I’ve ever played. To be that connected with the sound and crowd, and I still get the occasional person coming up to me when I play in SF and tell me how special that night was. I currently fly out to SF to DJ the As You Like It parties every other month or so. The next one will be at a warehouse space in Oakland, Calif. with Juju and Jordash on Halloween,” she says.
While back at home in Illinois, she hosts her own special event titled Planet Chicago at the well-renowned Smart Bar. A continuation of her crew’s underground events, they take the party and transform the club with decorations and themes like on an underwater planet or in an alien cathedral. According to the artist, Planet Chicago is always “a little campy, a little trippy” and decorated with artwork usually handmade by one of the NBFC’s newer DJs, Jarvi.
“We also like to feature a lot of live PA’s and present it floor level so the dancers can see what the act is actually doing with their machines, or watch them sing live like when we had Portable play one of our first events,” she says. “We also like to feature longtime heroes to us. We’re not opposed to showcasing newer artists but I think there’s something important about spotlighting and celebrating artists that have been quietly grinding away over the years making fantastic music. We also believe in building long-term relationships between the artist and community, which is why we bring back artists annually if we can.”
By 2013 she developed a vinyl label called god particle. During her travels she was reading about the Large Hadron Collider and while daydreaming she thought about how music — like the smallest Higgs Boson particle — connects everything in her life. She says, “As a DJ, I love tracks that work as building blocks that can work as connectors between techno and house and electro and more ambient sounds.” Vinyl pressing in today’s age she coined as a labor of love due to various hurdles with production. Kern was excited to announce that the label will be releasing “GOPA 05” by Santa Cruz, Calif. producer Stridah.
As a mother, wife, DJ, producer, label and party developer, Sam Kern does it all purely driven by passion. “I’m positive I will be doing something music-related even when I make the leap from Mama Techno to Grandma Techno,” she says.
Kern will be present this Saturday, Oct. 17 at 45 Euclid in Rochester, N.Y. along with Shawn Rudiman for the next installment of the Signal > Noise parties.
“Shawn is one of my favorite people to watch perform, he is also a mentor and now I feel lucky to say a dear friend. I was first awed by his live show 11 years ago when I saw him and Claude Young at party called ‘Green Light Go’ in Detroit during the festival,” she says. “I felt honored when he sent me music for my label — he is truly one of the most inspiring musicians I have ever met. He just goes for it like he’s on a kamikaze mission. A lot of what he does live is improvised on the fly and I’ve seen him many times and have never seen the same show. There is a funky raw vibe to what he does, and somehow he even injects his sense of humor into the experience, which is awesome. Rochester is in for a treat.”
Stay tuned into the Sequencer later this week for a spotlight on Shawn Rudiman.