Wax Runoff: NYC Loft Records [NYC108]

It can sometimes be difficult for compilation-only labels to pick up and maintain momentum over the course of many releases and years. The art form is a bit different than solo artist EPs and the scrutiny is heavier from potential supporters. There are still a few though which seem to repeatedly be on the money and NYC Loft Records is definitely one of them. The latest, I Wanna See All My Friends at Once Vol. 2, is currently out now on vinyl only.

Starting with a compilation of six early ‘90s dubs last year, people have been scooping the NYC Loft releases faster than ever. All of which feature that very distinct brand of New York house. Many have a focus on hardware, warmth, and the recreation of subtle inaccuracies in the sound that resulted from making music before computers. The art has bounced around a little bit, but a handful of releases feature photos of modern swanky living room lounges – the sort of place you’d want to have a party with all your closest friends.

NYC Loft Records

NYC108

Things get kicked off strong on A1 “Dance to the Dub” – a thumper of a track by Kick That Funk. A sample heavy and looped out the tune features fat kicks and lo-fi chords behind filter delayed vocal rips. It’s a rhythmically focused track, and a perfect little slice of house music.

The next cut, Bonjour’s “Fondant (Creamy Disco Dub)”, is also an expertly chopped up sample number. Rolling tape drum loops keep a very sturdy rhythm but the big synth patches that bounce around halfway through are the stars here. It can be hard to have old samples and new synths sit well in the mix together; this track is a solid reminder that it’s not impossible.

A3, Subtle Approach’s “Holdin You Close” takes a step back for a more simple and funky West Coast influenced piece. The tune honestly feels like it could have been released on Westbound or Siesta during the heyday of those labels. Live bass notes and up front filters create a hypnotizing groove, perfect for an early night party starter.

Flipping to the B-side, Dubrazil lends “Sunshine In My Life (Deeper Dub)” to the batch. Very Chicago and masterfully engineered, the bass is loud and chunky. There are plenty of long-decay tape delays to compliment the triplet chord stabs. In true Chicago house fashion, the clicks from the vinyl that the drums were sampled from are still in the mix. The whole tune has a perfect airy sound that sits atop the incredibly rich synthesizers.

“Melodies of Dub” on B2 comes courtesy of Blackdub with a super pared down tribal feel to it. Supple hand drums and snareless drum loops drive along a lazy sax sampling. It’s a wonderful flavor to a compilation that already has reached Neapolitan status.

To wrap things up, Australia’s DJ Freestyle brings the focus back to rhythmic classic New York-styled house with his touch on Pascal Cordoba’s “Comblnaca”. Jazzy piano splices that never seem to get old accompany faster drums creating an energetic yet calm tune that will surely get party goers’ backs off the wall.

What’s great about this record is that all the tracks sound really great on their own, but as a group and all on one plate, they’re an amazing tribute to the first city that really started to define it’s own sound in the wake of the initial house music boom of the mid to late ‘80s. These are the sorts of tracks I constantly try to hunt down in sketchy corners of used record stores all over the country. The early ‘90s in New York was a source of more amazing records than anyone knew what to do with. I can say with confidence that the tunes on this record sound as if they are straight out of a Masters At Work set 25 years ago.

This record was released in mid-March, but it’s still kicking around some locations. In true spirit of the love for New York, I suggest you buy your copy from longstanding NYC house slingers Downtown304. These folks have been in the game a long time and only continue to do so through people supporting their more off the radar shop. I would scoop this record up now and keep your eyes peeled in 2017 for more NYC Loft Trax series because I don’t expect them to be slowing down.

Currently these tracks are available only on vinyl, but you can listen to some snips of the tracks here.

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: Chas Jankel [SP-12044]

Back in the beginning of DJing as an art form, everything was an egg hunt. That’s why it was very fitting that I recently exhumed a record I’ve been hunting for a long time, Chas Jankel’s Glad to Know You, from a local dollar bin littered with filler.

Aside from a possible disco section, dance tracks really didn’t have a place on the racks yet, and it would be decades before the Internet was fast enough to download a wav. file in an acceptable amount of time. It was the job of these early ’80s DJs to find tracks that moved dance floors but many times weren’t designed for mixing or club play. It was a very exciting time – the recently updated Technics 1200 turntable had just replaced the somewhat restrictive rotary pitch knob with a pitch fader capable of stretching  +/- 8%, creating a new world of mix possibilities. Additionally, drum machines would begin to fairly ubiquitously replace live drummers, creating the opportunity for a long mix.

Chas Jankel

SP-12044

And perhaps most importantly, dedicated clubs began popping up in America to accommodate this burgeoning underground culture. None are perhaps more famous than the fabled Paradise Garage in New York City. Indeed, how I came to find out about this incredible record was in researching the patron saint of the club, Larry Levan. Thanks to those hardened hunters like Larry, a scarcely available and unknown 1980 import shot to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Disco charts after A&M released a 12” version in 1981 where it remained for seven weeks. Interestingly, those charts at the time were not made based on commercial success, but rather from reporting club DJs from various cities around the country. This structure really let underground sounds shine and pointed dance DJs in the right direction.

A&M released the record with three cuts, the first of which – “Glad to Know You” – is probably the best-known track. With lyrics from Jankel’s old Blockheads band mate Ian Dury, the song is a wonderful fusion of disco vibes with the tools of a forthcoming electro era. The funk inspired bassline is undeniably groovy, and the soul-centric organ riff never gets old. There is experimentation with tape delay and sampling, saturated reverb, and synthesizer manipulation. Even 36 years later, this tune would set a club off.

The most futuristic track, however, was of course on the B-side. “3,000,000 Synths” is a true examination of the powers within the Oberheim synthesizers that would become commonplace in the later part of the decade as Miami bass and electro styles began to take off. Those famously wet filters on Oberheim machines were put to the test with massive sweeping resonant pads that pan across the soundscape. Mind melting lines constantly modulate up and down scales and at times there is almost too much noise. The tune is saved from being labeled experimental by a nice and chunky funk bassline with organ stabs and a heavy electro bass arpeggio. There are no lyrics this time around, but instead indecipherable spoken word samples in the background, a stylistic choice still heard in many dance tracks today.

The original 1980 Japanese 7” release only contained the first two tunes, but I’m willing to wager that A&M thought the record was originally too risky for wide success. So the 1981 12” U.S. release contained B2, “Ai No Corrida” much more closely followed the established disco formula. The drum machines and samples were traded for a band and drummer. There are still artifacts of Chaz’s forward thinking style in the notable synth work, but the track is less exciting and in comparison to the other two, feels very safe.

We owe a lot to these early years of people messing about with synthesizers and drum machines. The work from this period jettisoned dance music out of its glitzy disco cage and into a new era that was experimental, different, and welcoming of people belonging to the other. Disco had become chic and commercialized. The exciting music being played at spots like Paradise Garage was paving a way for house music to be born and creating the pillars of acceptance and unconditional love that are held so dear in dance music culture. You’re unlikely to ever find that coveted 7” Japanese import, but there are U.S. copies floating around Discogs that won’t break the bank.

It is so important this music is not forgotten, partly because it’s just as enjoyable and relative today as it was so many years ago. Many thanks due to the beloved Larry Levan and all the other DJs throughout history and today who have pushed the envelope of creativity and artistry and continue to do so.

 

 

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.

Jarvi

In a world where society is structured by gender being categorized in two opposite forms, Jarvi Schneider’s gender identity lands fluidly somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, free from segmented definition. Fully enveloped in Chicago’s queer scene, the self-identified nonbinary artist and DJ was raised as a child in the house and techno scene of Detroit. 

Jarvi spent their adolescence in Ann Arbor, Mich., eventually moving on to Commerce Township until the end of high school, to finally land in East Lansing, Mich. before moving to Chicago in 2012. The move, Jarvi says, was “to finally free myself from a state of no jobs, lack of public transit, and extreme queerphobia and racism.” Due to this atmosphere and being a hairstylist by trade, the salon was a difficult environment to find comfortable footing in Michigan.

While living in Michigan Jarvi says that “even within the queer communities, there is a lot of ideas of what a queer person ‘should and should not be’ or ‘look like’ to really be accepted.” They came out officially as nonbinary about two years ago.

To identify as nonbinary means one does not identify as exclusively masculine or feminine. “I have always been androgynous. I have always been called a boy. I think the worst of it all was being forced into a queer identity (lesbian), because anything outside of the binary was even too much for suburban Detroit queers to grasp. To be honest, I hadn’t even heard the term ‘nonbinary’ until I moved to Chicago, and even then I could hardly grasp it because of what I was accustomed to all my life. After some major trauma in my life, I realized that I had to make sure for the sake of my own brain and my chosen family, I had to be true to myself and who I am.”

JARVI / ACID DADDY

Chicago for Jarvi meant better opportunities and was a cheaper and easier move from Michigan. “I sold my car, packed everything I owned into a Ford Excursion, and my cat, and I moved to Chicago knowing only a couple folks from high school, to start my new life.”

Jarvi is a member of the Naughty Bad Fun Collective crew, a resident of Planet Chicago night at Smartbar, and also runs and curates freaky queer club night Acid Daddy’s Haus of Diesel. Their introduction to the NBFC became a pivotal moment for Jarvi’s life in Chicago by experiencing an open, free environment and eventually learning the art of DJing.

“I found this crew (or maybe they found me) shortly after I moved to Chicago. They threw the best undergrounds in the city, always had the most welcoming vibes, and even outside of the rave we all became more than just people you hang with at the party,” Jarvi says. “After meeting Sam and the crew, I pretty much attended everything that NBFC did and started to help out with setup and tear down. Somewhere between that and the DJ lessons, I became one of the crew!”

NBFC

NAUGHTY BAD FUN COLLECTIVE

It was just before Jarvi’s birthday in 2013 when God Particle label owner and NBFC’s Sam Kern (otherwise known as Sassmouth) gave them their first ever DJ lesson as a birthday gift. Jarvi says that “after two lessons we just vibed and kept working together. I think the bond we share is incredible because I have been listening to and attending techno and house events since childhood with my father, and not one friend or other DJ I have ever met had ever offered to teach me the craft. I’ve always known the music industry is a boys club, and having the opportunity to try to do something I loved and admired for years with a person who understands the struggle of not being a cis man in this scene, is easily the best gift I’ve ever received.”  

The NBFC is comprised by Kern, Jarvi, Pat Bosman, Ryan Kelley, and a slew of other DJs, producers and artists that overtime have helped create and maintain the collective. The core crew shares roles collectively when it comes to bookings, design and direction. “That’s one of the best parts about working with these folks is that every last little bit of the vibe is created by all of us. I will say though that setting up sound has absolutely nothing to do with me. I can barely set up my TR8 to Ableton without referring to notes,” Jarvi says with a laugh.

For the month of March both Kern and Jarvi continue to use their established music platforms as a vessel to push and strengthen female, female-identified and queer artists, DJs and promoters by participating in Daphne. The month-long festival hosted by Smartbar will incorporate workshops and events to emphasize that mission. According to Jarvi, the biggest obstacle for women and queer persons is commodification.

“The constant struggle of, do you suck it up and go through it in hopes that you will get closer to being seen, heard, understood? I can’t tell you how many times I read an article about some white cis techno dude talking about his struggle not getting booked and having to work his awful 9-5 when all he wanted to do was play his Surgeon records for a packed underground rave. Sometimes it feels like there’s only a certain allotted amount of women-identifying and queer artists, and the recycling of the same ones can be frustrating not because they shouldn’t be getting all the gigs, but because there are so many of us in the world without exposure simply because so many people who are in charge of bookings don’t want to look. Probably because they don’t REALLY care. I think it’s also important to point out that if your women-identifying idols in music don’t help any other queer, women-identifying and nonbinary, or POC artists, they probably aren’t as progressive as you think.” – JARVI

Motivated by the frustration and with a desire to maintain personal and creative freedom, Jarvi started Acid Daddy’s Haus of Diesel a little over a year ago. The stage persona Acid Daddy came to fruition for Jarvi during Plastic Factory, the first party they were ever involved in at Berlin Nightclub.

“The party was a wild latex club-kid party with wacky installations and performances. La Spacer and I were the resident deejays for the Thursday night monthly, and it evolved somewhat from a joke in our group about how me and one of the other members were the ‘daddies’ of our group, and my love for acid house – among other things.”

JARVI & SASSMOUTH

Long after the Plastic Factory parties, Jarvi continued on harnessing the Acid Daddy energy. “I was up at a camping trip, Tentsex, when at some point in the weekend our generator runs out of – you guessed it – diesel. In a loopy state, I’m arguing with someone about how to get more fuel for the generator so we can get the music back up and running, and in stubborn Taurus fashion I storm off back to my tent. Sam happens to be in a porta potty and overhears me mumbling to myself something about ‘Acid Daddy, gimme that diesel’. The phrase stuck, and when I was given the chance to do my own party at Berlin [Nightclub], Acid Daddy’s Haus of Diesel just made sense!”

Acid Daddy is so much more than just a name. Jarvi says, “I think what is so important to me about this stage name (that may in the future develop into a moniker for music) is that it really represents the evolution of my gender identity and the happiness that comes from no longer being forced by society to be something I am not.” The name encapsulates and empowers Jarvi’s freedom from the oppressiveness of gender normative roles.

The house and techno scene is historically rooted in providing a free space for people of all types and expressions. There are so many artists, promoters, writers and DJs out there that continue to use the electronic music environment as a platform to promote cultural and social awareness, by cultivating a safe welcoming space. Yet, there are places within house and techno where those roots have been lost somehow. Our music scene is just a microcosm of our society at large.

To deviate from the normalities of any facet can result in a negative response from others. That’s what makes the dance floor so unbelievably significant. That’s what makes artists like Jarvi and so many others equally important. To understand that gender and sexuality are on a spectrum is to see that by inherently breaking binaries we are simply forming unity.

“The gender binary is just a way to keep cis men in control and women-identifying folks subservient. Even the most progressive cis folks I know still show me totally innocent ways of being affected by the binary. I think the most obvious is the inability to use gender neutral pronouns. Folks can learn a new hobby, how to operate a vehicle, or get a certificate/degree in a field they’ve never understood in their life but can’t incorporate a plural, nonbinary pronoun into their vocabulary when they already know the word. I struggled with the use of ‘they/them/theirs’ at first, and I identify that way. Sometimes I think folks can’t grasp the use of neutral pronouns because they still don’t really believe that it exists. I connect very much with femininity and that identity, but not 100 percent. I cannot really say that I relate to anything masculine, and honestly spent a lot of time trying to dismantle the binary connection with words, for example, ‘daddy’. NBD (nonbinary daddy) is a term we use out here in the Chicago queer scene a lot. I highly doubt I started that term, but it definitely fits like a glove.”

What does being nonbinary mean specifically for Jarvi?

“Grey area. In between. Not this, not that. I truly believe there are more nonbinary folks in this world that exist than cis folks. Once the term becomes more common in mainstream queer entertainment (because it has to start there before we get it across the board) I think a lot of folks who realized that this binary they’ve been forced into because of tradition and fear, really is not for them. Some days I feel like wearing a dress, sometimes I feel like wearing a suit, sometimes I feel like growing out my mustache and being topless in a leather chest harness, but not one of those outfit choices express any binary gender to me. when you erase that, you have so many less things to worry about because you just get to be you. However you want to feel or look, it’s just you.” – JARVI

Nonbinary folks fall within the overarching transgender category. By definition transgender denotes a person whose identity and gender do not correspond with their birth sex. Gender expression and identity is expansive and complex, yet simple at the core: people are who they are, and they should feel comfortable being and expressing themselves. But we live in a society where transphobia is very real, causing harm (in varying degrees) to those who identify beyond the binary. 

Jarvi spoke a little bit deeper about experiences had alongside Chicago DJ/promoter Ariel Zetina. “My relationship with Ariel, be it romantic or platonic, has always provided us with struggles from the outside cis hetero and cis gay male groups. Whether it’s slurs stemming from binary-loving cis hetero normies, or the hyper-sexualization of both our nonbinary trans identities. By cis gay men, we both encounter negativity even in the most unlikely of places (i.e. queer spaces). I have learned so much from her, especially about POC trans and queer-related events, artists, and struggles that are otherwise swept under the rug so to speak in primarily white queer spaces (which is most of the spaces in Michigan).”

How can we help? Javi says: educate. “If you hear something offensive or hurtful, it’s pretty easy to respectfully explain why that isn’t tolerated and to enforce that strict no-tolerance of hate in spaces, whether it’s rave spaces or the dang super market.”

Music will continue to be the space for Jarvi where there is safety and love. It is so very clear that this deeply rooted passion has helped them evolve and grow into a true representation of themselves. Isn’t that what we’re all really striving for?

“I love music because it saved my life. It can say everything I can’t put into words. The music itself doesn’t judge me, it guides me. Without music I would never know the rave scene. I would never have found my chosen family in the underground where you can be anyone you want to be, as freaky and weird and out there as you want. Like-minded individuals all there together because the world doesn’t see us as the creative and beautiful individuals we are. PLUR forever.”

Catch Jarvi’s Buffalo debut this Saturday for the next installation of REDUX, along with Cleveland’s Father of Two.

 

Wax Runoff: Rimbaudian [TTY023]

Ten Thousand Yen – headed by Doc Daneeka – is a wonderful label I’ve become aware of within the last year or so. Starting from 10” presses in 2010 and gaining steam along the way, the imprint has featured some truly functional dance music gems time and time again. Of course, the label’s first release of 2017, Letters from Rimbaudian truly did not disappoint.

The sort of groovy minimal-house fusion, which has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years, is on full display here. While the tracks are looped and layered with out much evolution in the drums, the melodies are delicate and ghostly. Perhaps the way 10 hours of this kind of music can pass by in what feels like five minutes is why it has been at the forefront of DJ sets at world renowned parties like Re:Solute in New York City.

TTY023

Things are kicked off on the A-side with “She Taught Me How to Love” – an apt name as the track feels like a splendid new romance; those moments when things seem to be absolutely perfect and effortlessly flowing in the right direction. A simple four bar piano loop sets the tone, while a gorgeous arp flutters around the arrangement growing and falling, grasping for space and then giving it back to the listener just as quickly. Like fresh love, the tune feels like at times it is moving too fast in the best sort of way.

Cut 2 “Drop It On Em” switches gears to a more compressed and warm drum machine arrangement. The vibe of the first track is not sacrificed, though, as even when the drums are more aggressive, the emotional piano loops make a return accompanied by faint pop RnB female vocals. A string section comes in, lending another layer of feeling and thoughtfulness.

“I Would Do Everything I Did Again and Again” can be found on the first grooves of the B-side and further solidifies the motifs already established by the first two cuts. Expert piano work languishes around more sentimental vocal wisps while a tape hiss creates the dated (but modern) sound so many artists are after in today’s dance music world. A cutting shaker encourages the footwork from listeners, but it never excels into true dance-floor rhythm. The tune is so easy to get lost in as it truly reflects the feelings of the title – a constant wondering of what things could have been like, but an optimistic pride they happened to begin with.

Things wrap up with my personal choice tune “I Said Goodbye to Dreams of You at The Shore”. All the sounds of the record are once again present: the moving piano, the soulful vocals of love lost, and the washed out drums that manage to incite a veritable urge to dance despite never truly entering party mode. The piece brings this record full circle from excitement of new romance to the depression following it’s departure, to the somber acceptance of the situational reality.

This record is incredibly beautiful, and made for those unforgettable after party moments. Reminiscent of times when the strangers from the club have left your atmosphere and you’re now surrounded by your loved ones – close friends and significant others. The music plays like a very personal look into someone’s pains and frustrations but also their happiness and joys.

The record is available on Decks.de if you’d like to bundle it with other slabs you’ve had your eye on, but of course the best way to support the release and label is to buy it straight off their Bandcamp page. This is the kind of music that can bring you to tears for realizing all the love you have in your life; a record that will play just as well now as it will in 10 years, and a firm reminder to love freely, love often, and never be scared of doing so.

 

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.

Aaron Clark

Sweaty bodies, a wall of lights and a sound system that pulls you in and won’t let go. If you have experienced Hot Mass, you understand. Aaron Clark, co-founder of the Pittsburgh party, is in charge of co-curating resident nights Honcho and Humanaut at the after hours spot. 

While growing up in Ohio, Clark wasn’t very active in the music scene. Mostly a bedroom DJ he says “I was still coming out of the closet and trying to pull away from my church. Once I turned 18 I started to hit the parties happening at Red Zone in Columbus and Moda in Cleveland.” Shortly thereafter he moved to Pittsburgh for university, unfortunately right when the city’s rave scene was in a lull.

When it comes to Clark’s background as a DJ, he says “I sort of tripped into it.” He would hear electronic tracks in the background of commercials and scour the internet to identify them, which would turn out to be “stupid stuff like Chemical Brothers. This was Napster days, so I’d download that stuff, but then realize that people made remixes of these things, which led me to more underground producers. It was kind of a rabbit hole situation,” he says. “I know a lot of people don’t believe in folks coming in from the commercial side of dance and landing in a good place musically, but it happens.” In high school he was introduced to his friend’s boyfriend, Rob, who had a full DJ setup and PA. This piqued Clark’s interest and pulled him to the performance side of electronic music which he says “really helped me start separating quality from bullshit.”

Before Hot Mass became one of the most prominent parties for today’s scene Clark spent about eight years throwing large scale events. While seeking a place to throw small after parties for their main events they stumbled upon Club Pittsburgh, a private men’s bath house located in the city’s historic Strip District. The space is relatively small, with small dark spaces for private encounters. 

HOT MASS – PITTSBURGH

He reminisced about the beginning stages of their parties in the bath house. “When we first checked it out, we weren’t even sure how to use it. The space was super weird, not laid out in any sensical way for dancing, lots of hallways and cruisey rooms (as part of the bath house) but we could go late. So we took it, and had Kirk Degiorgio play a second set after his first one. It went off! I think we pulled the plug on a full dance floor that morning around 8 a.m.? Up to that point we would struggle to hold a crowd until 4 a.m. max. We were all really blown away by the crazy energy that room had, so we kept going with it.”

John McMarlin, manager of Club Pittsburgh, proposed that the after party events become a weekly which ultimately brought Hot Mass to fruition. Clark says, “That sounded insane to us, as everyone knows how impossible it is to keep a weekly party going. It’s torture. The idea was that maybe we could pull it off if we had four separate crews as part of the larger collective, and we all took a different week so we didn’t burn out.”

Hot Mass as a whole is comprised by four parts: Honcho, Humanaut, Detour and Cold Cuts. Each Saturday of the month is accounted for. Honcho is held the first Saturday followed by Humanaut on the second. The city’s record label collective Detour showcases the third Saturday and new to the roster is Cold Cuts, an event which curates an affinity for disco and hoagies on week four. I inquired how each of these facets play a significant role not only within their space but also to the scene at large. “This is a tough one to answer. I think all four crews touch different sounds of dance. Humanaut heads straight to techno, Honcho loops in the gays and does all genres, Detour is heavy on live sets as they’re so production-minded due to their label, and Cold Cuts is just a great fucking time. It’s positivity music,” Clark says. “You kinda touch all corners, and funnel everyone into one club together, making it easier for people to figure out what they like and dig deeper. Ideally, we are always giving up-and-comers a shot on the decks as well. It’s something I personally want to push further in 2017.”

HONCHO – PTTSBURGH

The four crews work together to maintain the integrity of the space and progress the continuity of energy and quality talent.

“We’d all vote on the larger rules of the club, keep the door cover consistent, and operate under a unified brand – Hot Mass,” he continues. “We wanted the general public in Pittsburgh to think ‘it’s always a good time there’ and not get hung up on who was promoting the party. Amazingly enough, it worked. And over the past four years we’ve just tried to improve the place one piece at a time as we got the money, knocking out walls, moving the dance floor, new sound.”

But what exactly is it that makes this Pennsylvania party so special? The size of the space is small bringing an inherent intimacy to any party. Sexuality here is open and free and there is an undeniable consistent energy when you make it until 7 a.m. and those lights turn on. “It still feels crazy that we have this beautiful thing. I think being attached to the bath house (Club Pittsburgh) is incredibly important. Right out of the gate, it’s a gay space. That helps with crowd quality immensely and is really an inseparable part of it all. Once you have that base layer, you add the layers of good friends, techno heads, and out-of-towners coming through each week,” he says.

Honcho was established in 2012 while Humanaut was founded in 2005 and run by the collective efforts of Clark, Paul Fleetwood, Paul “Relative Q” Zyla, Benjamin Kessler and Tony Fairchild. Through both Honcho and Humanaut the floor of Hot Mass has seen talent from the likes of Bill Converse, Derek Plaslaiko, Shawn Rudiman, The Black Madonna, Claude Young, Ectomorph, Bicep, DJ Minx, Sassmouth, and so many more. Last summer Clark assisted hosting a Honcho Summer Campout in the West Virginia woods and sometimes you can catch a set by Honcho, which is comprised (give or take) by Clark, George d’Adhemar, and Clark Price.

“[Hot Mass] is one of the only places in town where different peoples bubbles crash into each other. Pittsburgh is not known for being a diverse place, which can feel suffocating at times. Hot Mass is a bit of an antidote to that.” – AARON CLARK

The dance floor at Hot Mass is one of which that allows freedom, tests your limits, breaks borders and pushes boundaries. There is no pretension, and with Club Pittsburgh’s environment these parties bring everyone together by serving to both the gay and straight community. Clark believes that these attributes of a party are “important because these moments don’t happen enough. As we’ve all seen, everyone is content to live in their own personal bubble these days. Gay people need to party with straight people, and vice versa.” He explains that this outcome won’t happen at a typical gay club which serves mostly as a place to get drunk. “I think the important part here is that there’s something for everyone to bond over other than a bar – the music.”

aaron clark

AARON CLARK – PHOTO COURTESY OF THUMP

When he’s not bringing in talent or throwing down sets himself, Clark can be found working as a Cultural Engineer at the Ace Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. Through this position he wears many hats working with community relationships, marketing, event programming and social media. “I was attracted to it because I had respected the Ace brand for years, and I wanted to force myself outside of my comfort zone of just throwing techno parties.” Through this avenue they are collaborating with The Andy Warhol Museum, hosting independent markets and panel discussions, as well as pop-up dinners. Although a small component of what he does at Ace, Clark incorporates small music events at the hotel, with an occasional Hot Mass day party outside.

No matter what Clark does, both day and night, his love and drive for music will run deep and with passion. “Music is one of the only things that can overtake my emotions completely. I remember one time at a Bunker show in NYC, Magic Mountain High was playing live. My partner and I had just gotten to the club, completely sober. We’re standing on the dance floor and we just started crying. The music was so beautiful, it was involuntary. That’s really cool. There’s a lot of beautiful stuff in the world, but music consistently does crazy things like this, over and over again.”

Catch Aaron Clark make his Western New York debut on Saturday for the two year anniversary party of Rochester’s Signal > Noise.

Wax Runoff: Frankie Knuckles [VUSLP 82]

Yesterday would have been the 62nd birthday of Chicago stalwart and house music legend Frankie Knuckles. It is difficult to find a piece of written history on house music that fails to mention Mr. Knuckles – affirmatively, he is known as “The Godfather of House Music”. From his early development alongside Larry Levan (of Paradise Garage fame) to his staple appearances at The Warehouse in Chicago, Frankie consistently championed the house music sound, and helped navigate its proliferation through the late ’80s and ’90s. Many consider him to be part of the 101 class on house and club culture history.

frankie knuckles wax runoff

VUSLP 82

In the world of house music where mainstream applicability was immensely doubted for many years, Frankie Knuckles was able to show that house DJs and producers were skilled artists in their own right. A full studio album was – and in many ways still is – rare to see. Yet Knuckles was responsible for three of them, the second of which released on Virgin in 1995: Welcome to the Real World featuring Adeva.

I love this record. The artwork hung in my living room for a long time – Frankie and vocalist Adeva enticingly appear from the darkness, staring at you with their hands out. The blue aura that surrounds them feels like a beacon of light on the otherwise black frame. You’re drawn to it. They’re inviting you into their world – the house music world – that to many is the true real world.

The various influences in the record are numerous. There’s the crisp downtempo RnB drum licks on “Too Many Fish” and “Passion & Pain”. Or the soulful orchestral presence in ballad-style tracks like “You’re Number One (In My Book)” and “Tell Me Why”.  Of course Frankie’s disco upbringing is noticeable in the driven 4×4 jam “Keep It Real” and the gospel is unmistakable in “Walkin’”.

The most important sound in the tracks, though, was the swung-out and somewhat jackin’ drum loops that came to define the term Chicago House. Along with the ubiquitous electric piano phrases, this drum arrangement crept into almost every track in one form or another. “Whadda U Want (From Me)” and the title track are floor movers in this regard.

The record is as brightly produced and genuine as the huge smile Knuckles was known for. The themes of love, acceptance, friendship, and an inability to understand the hatred that seems ever more commonplace are just as needed today as they’ve ever been. The final track on the B-side begins with a eulogy from Frankie about his dear friend Larry Levan. He mentions that Larry achieved success so early because he was took risks musically, and that it took him longer to understand that was a good thing. The entire house music community should remain grateful that Frankie Knuckles was here with us and took those risks, and shared that music with us all. To a great man – Frankie Knuckles – cheers. Love can change us.

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.

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!”

Peter Croce

Evening Standard w/ Anthony Naples

Back Down We Go Once Again.

Down to the Grotto to find ourselves in the cut with Anthony Naples, and dancing in the pale moon light to the sounds of yesterday, today and tommorow on Friday June 17th.

Come dancer, come prancer.

Space is always at a premium, so come early to avoid crushing disappointment. All guests, no lists, music made for dancing all night long from 10pm until 7-11

$10 limited advanced tickets can be discovered here.

Soundcast Xotec