Signal > Noise Mix Series Shines Light On WNY

The I-90 might be just a stretch of pavement but it has served as an influential link in the growth of the Western New York dance community. When told there’s a scene Upstate, those who don’t know might respond with a look of surprise. But Rochester and Buffalo in particular have a strong rave history and future. These two cities are filled with pockets of people absolutely passionate about house and techno, and everything the music entails. There are folks throwing parties that leave DJs in awe. There are DJs in these cities that are deep diggers and ripe with talent. There are dancefloors in these symbiotic scenes that are intensely energetic.

Signal > Noise is a party in Rochester, N.Y. that really helped fuel the WNY scene to its current state. The first party was in 2015 and they have since booked high-octane artists such as Shawn Rudiman, Claude Young, Noncompliant, DJ Minx, Derek Plaslaiko, Eric Cloutier, Norm Talley, Bill Converse – the list goes on.

Joe Bucci, one of the founding S>N crew members, delves a little bit deeper and shares his perspective of the WNY network, its history and its current significance.

“The role we are playing as a region has grown immensely. I know that historically WNY played a huge role in the community. During the ‘90s and early 2000s this was a hub for the rave community. Hosting parties connecting cities. Caravans of heads driving from Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo to the Midwest and beyond. This predates my time here in the community but the guys who make up S>N with myself were part of that scene – that was their coming of age. It’s what helps fuel what we do now,” Bucci says. “What our community has morphed into is a powerhouse in my opinion. In four short years WNY has went from EDM, Bass parties, almost exclusively to what we have now which has evolved into a harmonious community. While those events still dominate the landscape just underneath that, you’ll find a rich scene. With ourselves and Sole Rehab operating out of Rochester and in Buffalo you have REDUX, Strange Allure, Aural Shift, and Pyramid. That’s not even including the one-off local nights, and Rufus Gibson‘s other venture at Gypsy Parlor with his monthly.”

He continues, “What I’m getting at is the local scene is on fire right now, each crew pushing the other to up their game in the friendliest of ways. We all try to work together to balance calendars, bookings. Trying to support each other. While bringing in some of the finest talent that is out there. At first it took some selling to get artists to come play our corner of the state. Perennially overlooked for NYC or Toronto. Now tours are being booked with WNY in mind. That is a quick change in four years. Each crew puts in work to create their vibe and aesthetic. But if the people do not show up it might as well be done in a vacuum. That hearkens to the people who attend the events and make up the community. They are the fabric of it all.”

Don’t Trust Humans, based out of Chicago and Portland, published a run of mixes that showcased each cities talent. Inspired by this Bucci established the Signals mix series about a year ago. It is “a great way to learn about what the local artists sound like and gives you almost an overall vibe of what is defining the local sound,” he says. “Our local community is made up of primarily Rochester and Buffalo artists; let me tell you there are some really talented people between these two cities.”

Each week for the month of April Signals hosted a “/WNY/:Love*” series showcasing five artists from Buffalo and Rochester. “Everyone we chose for this are fantastic artists in their own right. Each has the ability to craft a set and move a party,” Bucci says. “It’s fun to listen to how each artist can craft a mix. Is it just grab what I’m diggin’ right now and enjoy? Is it more of a journey? To see what story is told by each contributor is exciting.”

BFLO LYDIA [LYDIA WROBEL]

Bucci: “I absolutely love Lydia’s style. Energy, knowledge and an ear for great tracks. She’s played a few of our parties and we consider her close family. Watching her move from vinyl to digital has been fun. I was surprised when she cut the mix it wasn’t all vinyl. Her ability to craft a set is on full display with this one. A lot of fun. Lydia truly is a foundation member of our community. It was only fitting to have her contribute.”

What do you love most about the Western New York dance community?
Lydia: I love that there are layers (generations) of people who’ve experienced the WNY scene who may not have known each other at the time they experienced it, but that WNY still provides that connection as people move on to other/different/bigger scenes. Example: I might tag a friend living in Berlin or Toronto or wherever who I met through the Buffalo scene because another DJ with WNY roots is playing a night there in that city that I think the first friend needs to check out. I also love that while we go out in our scene for the music, I feel a lot of times in Buffalo the dj or the music is an excuse to catch up with friends we’d not otherwise see. Obviously we go for the music always, but here it’s also quite a bit about meeting up with the good friends, despite or in spite of whoever happens to be playing. That’s what my nights were about when I threw them – getting the locals together for a raucous night of dancing and yelling and joking around.

 

NEW SPHERE ELECTRIC [ALEX FRENCH]

Bucci: “I asked Alex to contribute because his curating with Strange Allure is fantastic, their parties are fantastic and a not miss. Always bringing in amazing artists who are just flying under the radar or bringing in strong innovators like BMG and Erika. I wanted to showcase the local talent but as well the people behind the parties and what they dig. This guy knows music. He performs as New Sphere Electric on his own and as a duo in Pure and Supreme. Very talented guy. I was very excited to hear what he put together. It was most certainly a journey mix. Which I love – take me on a ride. Mission accomplished.”

What do you love most about the Western New York dance community?
Alex: I’d say my favorite thing about the WNY dance community is how unpretentious it is. You get folks from a variety of backgrounds, some with little to no knowledge of underground dance music, all coming together simply to get down. The artists get to cut loose and the music can get as weird or wild as they want it to. It’s a very unifying experience as everyone gets to take chances and share in a unique experience that couldn’t take place in a lot of other cities.

 

NICKL [NICK GIORDANO]

Bucci: “I don’t know where to start with Nick. He is easily one of my favorite people. Very loving person who has a vibe about him that is magnetic. He does a great job putting together very danceable sets. High energy with a healthy dose of Diva. Nick has played for us a few times. Opening for Black Madonna as well as appearing at our Sunday Shit Show last year. Nick’s collective Sole Rehab throws killer parties. Great underground location, fantastic guests, thick vibe with a ton of raw energy. We are also fortunate to call Nick and the rest of his Sole Rehab crew as co-conspirators. For the last few years we’ve joined forces to help put on an unofficial Rochester Gay Pride event. Much like Jim and Lydia, Nick has been one of those people who are in the fabric of our WNY community.”

What do you love most about the Western New York dance community?
Nick: The dancers (both the new and the veterans) trust the DJs. They are totally along for the ride. Which of course, makes for some really fun trips!

 

UVB76 [SHERRI MILLER AND MARIO FANONE]

Bucci: “I’m going to be honest these two are a mystery to me. I know I fucking love them both. I met them both at one of our first parties and have stayed friendly with them ever since. Sherri and Mario are each members of the Buffalo collective Strange Allure. Sherri has a magnetic energy about her and a very creative perspective. Mario: I know he is a strong well-rounded musician, but he is also a man of few words. That being said when you see the soon-to-be husband and wife duo together it all just flows. So the music they make together as UVB76 is represented of that. All live gear oriented style. I approached Sherri if they would be interested in doing anything after I heard a few things they had put together. Almost a year later here is the finished product. I’m pretty sure her and Mario went up to a cabin in the woods one weekend and recorded a bunch of stuff. This is the finished product of that cabin session. A 45 minute live belter of a mix.”

What do you love most about the Western New York dance community?

Sherri: I love that our WNY dance community consists of some wonderful sweeties who are genuine, unpretentious, and pure fun. Our dance floors are happenin’ and the sound is on point. There’s a reasonable variety of quality events in interesting non-club spaces.

Mario: Even though the community here in Western New York may be smaller than other bigger cities I’ve visited, I feel like the passion and excitement for events is greater. I believe people tend to appreciate what we have, and don’t take the experiences we offer for granted. And we have so many talented people in our area that always inspire me to create music and art, and be more engaged in the scene myself. It’s a wonderful creative cycle that I hope continues for a long time.

 

JIM KEMPKES

Bucci: “S>N member and resident Jim also holds a title that I personally hold him to. Best DJ in WNY. He tells me ‘whatever,’ whenever I tell him this. But it’s my opinion. This guy is a encyclopedia of music. From Jazz to hip-hop to electronic. His ear for a track is fantastic and a hell of a technical DJ. When I relocated to Rochester from Chicago, Jim was one of the first local DJs I heard. After I heard the first five mins of his set, I knew I was going to be OK. At least there were guys like him around to keep me dancing. The fact that he is a S>N resident, color me lucky. Needless to say Jim, like Lydia, is another foundation member of our community who has been at this since the ‘90s. No better person to help represent what Rochester has.”

 

What do you love most about the Western New York dance community?
Jim: The intimacy, family-vibe, collaborative spirit, and authenticity.

 

Head on over to the Signal > Noise Soundcloud and dig into these stellar mixes, or perhaps one of the live recordings from their parties like when Sassmouth and Shawn Rudiman rocked a warehouse space, when Gay Marvine brought sounds for Pride, or Derek Plaslaiko‘s 6-hour set. Keep an eye on Western New York, and if you get a chance to hit one of their dancefloors – you should take it.

Sole Rehab 015

ROCHESTER – For the 15th installment of the Rehab, we bring in our friend and special guest:

Ethan Lustig aka ELUS
Extended 4 hour set, of proper house, all night long!

Sole Rehab 014

ROCHESTER – Warm up under the light of the disco ball, to the sounds of the underground!

Holding it down, are the S.R. residents
NickL and Tom DeBlase

https://www.mixcloud.com/djnicklrules/
https://soundcloud.com/tom-deblase
https://www.mixcloud.com/SoleRehab/
https://www.facebook.com/solerehabroc

Signal > Noise & Sole Rehab: Gay Marvine and d’Adhemar

An epic celebration of Rochester Pride. An exploration of current and classic house, techno and disco sounds slaying the global underground club circuit. Brought to you WITH LOVE from stewards of Rochester’s dance music underground, SIGNAL > NOISE and SOLE REHAB, and featuring GAY MARVINE [San Francisco] [Bath House Etiquette, Secret Mixes Fixes] and D’ADHEMAR [Washington DC] [Honcho PGH] as well as JIM KEMPKES [Rochester] [Signal > Noise].

 

Gay Marvine

Born and raised in Michigan, the youthful Chuck Hampton (otherwise known as Gay Marvine) could be found turning the dial to explore all that Detroit radio had to offer. Driving his family crazy by constantly tuning into disco stations, he fell in love. From that point forward he used his finely tuned ear and spent his creative energy to share that love with the rest of the world.

What is it about that disco sound? “The bass! The beat! I loved the repetition of the groove. These things all spoke to me, and I couldn’t understand how some people didn’t get it,” he says.

The genre, which was generationally pivotal, had some historically dark times. During an infamous baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers on July 12, 1979, disco arguably became a scapegoat for sexual and racial discrimination. Disco Demolition Night was meant to be a promotional event put on by the Chicago team at Comiskey Park. During the rally attendees brought a record to the game and during the doubleheaders intermission the vinyl was destroyed by an explosion on the field. There were 50,000 people in attendance that day and a riot ensued. More than 5,000 people took to the field to set fire to the records.

Yet, disco prevailed and remained a foundation for music thereon in. Hampton reminisced about his early clubbing days which took place shortly after that time. “Detroit area gay clubs played such great music in the ’80s,” he says. During which he said he would hear alternative sounds such as Ministry, Siouxsie and the Banshees, in addition to popular hits and Hi-NRG tracks. “Then house and techno happened. It changed everything! We had the greats – Ken Collier, Derrick May, D-Wynn, Richie Hawtin – and so many more. They took it all to a higher level. All of this rich variety influenced me as a DJ and how I hear music.”

This mentality brought a complexity and a focused approach to Hampton’s creativity. The inspiration really began through Secret Mixes Fixes, a label for edits, which was started around 2005 by Brendan Gillen of Interdimensional Transmissions. Hampton says, “He and I are good friends, and at that time we were neighbors. I was always hanging out at his place, listening to records. He showed me this new program called Ableton Live that he started using for his DJ sets. It inspired me to create edits of some of my favorite records for him to use in his sets; records that I couldn’t use un-edited in my sets. I played a few for him and he loved them, said he’d like to put them out on Secret Mixes Fixes. Then all of a sudden I had done like 50+ edits! So we created Bath House Etiquette as an outlet for my output. BMG still runs the label and he takes care of getting stuff pressed.”

 

Bath House Etiquette now has nine volumes of 12” records filled with groovy basslines and soul lifting vocals.
“For me, editing is all about mining for the funk, and trimming the fat off. Some things that were in the old disco records were superfluous, and distracted from the wicked groove that was happening underneath. Also, I was heavily influenced by disco house records of the ’90s. I love how repetitive they were, but sometimes I wanted just a little more of the original in there and a little less of what was added. I’d say the most evocative of my edits is ‘Anxiety Into Ecstasy’.” — GAY MARVINE

According to the label, “Bath House Etiquette is a manual on how to handle Gay Discos. Everyone needs a little inside information. Follow the stairs to the basement, wait on your knees by the sling and wait for Mr. Marvine (to you) for further instructions.”

There is a raw and visceral energy that takes place in a bathhouse that can definitely emanate through Hampton’s tracks and the sets he puts out. Hampton says, “I think bathhouses represent hedonism. Unbridled sexuality, sensuality.” Beneath a bathhouse in downtown Pittsburgh, Penn. you will find after-hours venue Hot Mass. Aaron Clark booked Hampton as the very first guest for Honcho, a monthly gay party held at that venue, in February 2013.

According to Clark, Hampton is now deemed an unofficial Honcho resident. “We’ve done a lot of parties with him already and plan to do a lot more this year,” he says. “The Honcho sound is pretty diverse, it can disco just as well as it can whip the club into acid house and techno. Chuck really nails all of those sounds. He’s the guest DJ that always feels the most at home with us.”

Beyond the bathhouse and deeper into the music, Gay Marvine helps provide a place that is unlike any other. What makes his set special is “the energy and the celebratory vibe of the music. Even if it’s tougher sounds, it’s always happy. It sounds like family, and the club feels like family,” Clark says.

This environment is a beautiful place that prevails through dark times and embraces positivity. Disco, house and techno inherently inspire energy, liberation and fearless expression. For Hampton, “[music] heals my soul, it brings me joy, it gives me solace, it soothes me, it makes me want to fuck, it makes me dance!”

In celebration of the music and Rochester Pride, Signal > Noise and Sole Rehab will host Gay Marvine at the revamped 45 Euclid on Saturday along with Honcho resident d’Adhemar.