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.
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.
Montreal-based DJ and musician Project Pablo has become something of a leader in Canada’s house music scene. Through strong releases on labels like 1080p, Magicwire, and Hybridity Music, his stock has risen, and in the last few years he has been all over Europe and North America for club and festival dates. Last year, his highly regarded 12” ‘Beaubien Dream’ is making waves on the newly minted Sounds of Beaubien Ouest label that he co-owns.
Max McFerren has been on a similar tear, recently returning from his debut Asia tour, and dropping killer tracks on labels 1080p, Don’t Be Afraid, and Allergy Season.
Strance Allure presents NYC’s Patricia [Opal Tapes, Spectral Sound] live, as well as Ohio’s Prostitutes [Opal Tapes, Spectral Sound, Diagonal] and Echelons.
Detroit native Mike Servito needed a clear slate when he decided to move to New York City. Inspired at an early age he would tune into The Wizard, Jeff Mills’ nomenclature while on air for Detroit’s WJLB. Servito debuted in 1995 and continued to build his repertoire throughout the years, establishing a reputation that incites early feelings of house and techno roots.
Starting with the Poorboy parties, he then became an originator of Detroit’s decade-spanning party Dorkwave. Branching off with DJNathan Rapport they developed SASS, a popular monthly queer party. Servito has blown minds playing the beloved No Way Back parties, hosted by Interdimensional Transmissions, during Movement (Detroit Electronic Music Festival). Resident Advisor named his 2014 set as mix of the year and the publication commented, “His headsy but party-rocking selections are ceaselessly flawless, his quick and cut-happy mixing style is a riot, but perhaps the real winning ingredient is the pacing and programming.” Additionally, he holds residency under record label Ghostly’s UNTITLED and is represented by Beyond Booking in North America and Odd Fantastic in Europe.
His residency with The Bunker is what really got the gears in motion, although he says “I spent the first year in New York detached and quickly becoming disillusioned by the vanity of the city. I think when you leave a city for another, it seems like a fresh start but it was isolating and depressing.” Luckily, the spark reignited in 2012 when Bryan Kasenic asked him to become an official resident of The Bunker, a party based in Brooklyn, NYC.
Servito says, “That was the affirmation. I was having a good run with Movement in Detroit doing No Way Back and a few Bunker events prior to my residency. I was playing really solid sets and then it escalated to this point of wanting to play more and more. Bryan asking me to become a resident reignited the spark. It came out of left field honestly and I am so glad it happened. It’s pushed me and driven me to become a better, more focused DJ.”
“I feel super lucky to have come into my own over the past few years. I would’ve never foreseen this outcome, getting gigs and traveling as much as I am right now. I know I’m in a really good place with my Bunker family: Bryan, Seze, Derek, Eric, and all our extended family,” he continued. “It’s really important to make those connections as friends and as colleagues. There is a mutual respect. I want to do my best for The Bunker and I know they want me to succeed.”
Inspiration derives from so many places for an artist and Servito constantly nods at his fellow influences like Mike Huckaby, Derrick Carter, Derek Plaslaiko, Richie Hawtin, Derrick May, and Theo Parrish to name a few. However, inspiration may be found beyond the realm of the art form we work in, often reflecting something significant. Servito has been finding meaning through dreams and similar to his classic way of performing, he gains creativity through looking back on what was to create something new.
“I’ve been having dreams about my youth a lot lately. Sometimes lucid, sometimes not. I don’t know what that means but, I guess I am inspired by my youth currently. But not in a retro sort of way. I really enjoyed my freedom as a kid, exploring and learning about new music and art and discovering things in a way that we don’t necessarily do present day,” he says. “I find inspiration in my dreams, reading about art I enjoy, watching old film clips and videos, old fashion-related things. I find inspiration in the past a lot. I love a good reference point.”
The artist’s vinyl collection is heavy weight, and with such an extensive library he maintains flow with track selections to feed an ultimately seamless set.
When it comes to selection Servito doesn’t think of classic versus modern productions. “I think about how this track fits with this track. How this hi-hat sounds over this bassline. It’s really interesting to be playing music from 1988 with music from 2015. It’s about connecting the dots, but, it’s also about blurring the lines too. I have a thing for cohesiveness. I think the newer generation throws that out the window completely and that’s fine. But, I need to stay locked into my groove. I don’t want to jump from 125 BPM to 140. That’s just not my style.”
Servito chooses his tracks based on feeling. “I know it when I hear it. There is an excitement that occurs when I hear a bassline or a drum kick or a really good sample. I am just well aware of what kinds of sounds I like. It’s basically whatever moves me and what I want to dance to. Those are the biggest factors. Would I personally wanna dance to this track? Is this going to make me lose it?! Those are the prerequisites to enter my bag.”
With a steady uptake of records he says “it’s important to keep things changing. I have my staples, the ones that I play a lot. It just depends. I’m always putting things in and out of rotation. I try to buy new records at least once a week. I have a problem. It’s a big vice for me.” Swinging between house and techno he curates a set and pulls records appropriate for all aspects of the party.
“I think that’s important. Making sure you are pulling the right music. You don’t want to be playing deep house records if you’re opening for Silent Servant, or you don’t want to play too aggressive when you are opening for Kerri Chandler. You have to be aware.”
During a set there is so much stimulation: the lights, the crowd, each person reacting to the music on their own, yet the whole space is simultaneously emitting a general feeling. The Sequencer asked Servito about his headspace during a set. Does it become lifted into a meditative state, or perhaps to maintain such fluidity of motion does he require meticulous and mechanical focus?
“I like this question. There’s definitely a lot going on. There are so many elements all at once. I’ve always been a person who is easily distracted. I think being focused and being insanely meticulous leads to a meditative state when I am playing. There’s definitely a zone state that is acquired while I play and it needs to happen. I’m at my best uninterrupted,” he says.
An uninterrupted state is not a constant for a performing DJ. Continuing on, he discussed this as a major issue of depiction that is very prevalent for performers in the scene.
“I am not a hype man. I’m a DJ. I think people have to realize that there is some technique and effort to what we are doing. I think that it’s undervalued. You would never interrupt someone playing the piano or the drums to tell him those notes sound nice while they are playing. It’s the same idea. I wonder when people will take that into consideration. It is tremendous work to create this experience and environment. I find it funny that people always want to talk to me while I am mixing. I seriously don’t get it. I’m sure people think I am a bit of a diva, but I am a perfectionist. I want things to go well 110% full on. That requires all my attention to the work. It’s always about the details.” – MIKE SERVITO
For an international DJ, parties from New York City to Berlin more or less have an established crowd. Although with the heart of the same animal, those major scenes beat differently than those tucked away in smaller cities. Yet these lesser populated places are receiving rave reviews from high-caliber artists. Norm Talley, Sassmouth, Black Madonna and Shawn Rudiman have all played Signal > Noise parties in Rochester, N.Y. and speak well of it. What is it about these places that evokes such excitement?
From Servito’s perspective he says, “I think an environment in which it is more intimate is preferred. You are more likely to have everyone’s undivided attention. You know everyone is there for you. The allure is quality programming and a quality crowd. When it’s intimate, you know everyone is there for the same exact reason. There is just a greater, direct connection with artist and audience. You lose some of that when you are playing these 4-5 thousand [or more] capacity events. Everyone needs an escape so it’s really important that more cities — such as Rochester — do these kinds of events with extended sets. You get the full experience. Not just a sample.”
The spotlighted artist will be making his way to Rochester for the next Signal > Noise installation, to be held on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 45 Euclid in Rochester, N.Y. His message for all those making their way to the ROC: “GONNA MAKE YOU JACK. ;)”
Find more information on the Facebook event page.