is / was turns one, talks Pittsburgh unity

Just about to turn one year old, Pittsburgh-based label is / was has already made quite the impact with fresh and timeless releases from heavy hitters and new names alike. We had a chat with label boss Tony Fairchild after he turned in this bangin’ set for the Hot Mix.
Tell us a little about the mix — what was the idea behind it?
It’s a collection of records I’ve bought over the past month or two with maybe 3-4 that have been in my collection for some time.  I think I’m starting to get to a point where my personal definition of house music is starting to congeal and define itself.  This mix is another step in the distillation process.
You’re a new imprint — how’d this all get started? Is it “is / was” or “was / is” ?
Yes, the labels (is / was & was / is) will turn 1 in April and they are my first labels.  It all started with my desire to present music from the 90’s that has maybe fallen out of the spotlight to dance floors of today.  Currently the curatorial ethos is simply releasing whatever I feel is timeless and important music.  It helps to have a kick drum too!
Looking across the state from Philly, Pittsburgh packs quite the punch with its scene / labels / parties. Tell me a little bit about the scene and what you think makes it special / different.
I think what makes Pittsburgh great is what makes Midwest techno great in general.  Heads-down, no frills, hyper-devoted people who involve themselves in dance music simply for the love of it.  It’s an example of the beautiful things that can happen to art and culture when you take money out of the equation. What I’m most proud about is how cohesive the scene is and how supportive everyone is of each other. All the contributors to our scene have their own hustle yet are able to come together to lift each other up and put wind in each other’s sails.
How do you come across some of these older projects and go about re-releasing them? What can we expect the rest of 2018 ?
Usually it starts with a record I have, or am aware of (and wish I had!), that I think has something to offer current dance floors.  Often its just a matter of contacting the artist and asking if they are interested in working together.  Facebook is a big help!
As far as what to expect from the label, there will be 4 more pairs of is / was & was / is records dropping between now and the end of the year.  Expect tunes from Mark Ambrose, Archetype, BPMF, Dar Embarks, a couple of top secret surprises and the debut of the insanely talented Teakup.  I am also launching a new label, “TerraFirm”, this spring via Subwax Distribution.  Its a very conceptual project focusing on a melodic, utopian, futuristic strain of techno.  Look for 2 releases or so this year on that imprint.
Tell me something distinctly Pittsburgh that I should know about.
I’ve only lived here for about 2.5 years so I’m not the most qualified cultural ambassador!  Our museum has a sick gem room that should be one of the first stops on any tour of the city.
What’s your favorite / least favorite thing about electronic music right now?
Favorite: watching the DJ’s and producers of my generation evolve as they mature in the scene.  I see my cohort getting more nuanced, skilled and discerning.  We aren’t the ankle-biters anymore!
Least Favorite:  Discogs prices 😦
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NEW YORK TRAX taps John Selway for 7th release, talks state of dance & New York nightlife

Founded in 2016 and based in Brooklyn, NEW YORK TRAX is an outlet for New York music, by New York artists, in New York city.
Ahead of the label’s seventh release, this one coming from techno icon John Selway under his Semblance Factor alias, we chatted with label boss Nicole about the state of electronic music, hype, and of course, New York.
Check out this mix of 100% NEW YORK TRAX releases and get a sneak peek at three upcoming releases from the label:
How did you get into electronic music? What were some of the first labels you loved?
I started going to events around the age of 18. I quickly became involved in the local scene by organizing my own events. My first big love when it comes to electronic music was hardcore techno (and it remains my favorite genre to this day). I spent a lot of time exploring the truly underground and obscure hardcore labels of the 1990s. One of my greatest discoveries was Fischkopf from Germany, Hangars Liquides from France, and, of course, New York’s Industrial Strength.
Why did you start the label? Have you done any other labels before? What’s the idea behind this label?
I started New York Trax to release music by New York producers only. The sound of New York is like its people: diverse and unique. Despite the common belief, New York Trax is not only a techno label. It releases electro, acid, hardcore, experimental, and will release even more genres in the future. What matters to me is creative sound with character. In the past, I did some work for other labels, but this is the first label that I run on my own.
What’s one thing you see a lot of labels doing wrong / right?

There is no formula for running a label and there are no limitations as to who can run a label and who cannot. As a result, concepts and sounds are constantly being recycled. I wish people asked themselves more often what is the purpose behind their projects, are they in any way original, are they contributing anything to the big picture, and so on.

What do you think is the state of New York nightlife?

New York nightlife is at its peak right now. There are a lot of venues, crews, labels, promoters etc. We have recently abolished the Cabaret Law and the office of Night Mayor was created. I hope we are off to a fresh start and an even brighter future.


What’s one thing in electronic music you wish you could change?
Less hype, more merit.
What’s your favorite post-rave snack / meal?

Sometimes I just don’t eat until Monday.

John Selway Pres. Semblance Factor EP is will be available in all fine outlets on March 19th.

NEW YORK TRAX Promo mix track list:
1. Lot.te – Graft (NYT05)
2. Richard Hinge – Changes (NYT01)
3. Dawid Dahl – Gehenna (NYT Imports 01)
4. Brenecki – The Oven (NYT02)
5. Another Alias – Craic Fiend (NYT Imports 01)
6. Alex Alben – Irin (NYT03)
7. TBA – NYT08
8. Steve Stoll – She rises up (NYT04)
9. TBA – NYT Imports 03
10. Endlec – Rhythm 387_1 (NYT Imports 02)
11. Steve Stoll – No questions please (NYT04)
12. Lot.te – Ultra Vires (NYT05)
13. Liquid Asset – Contact (NYT06)
14. John Selway – Jack the Void (Raw) (NYT07)
15. Endlec – Rhythm 401_Mix 1 (NYT Imports 02)
16. TBA – NYT Imports 04
17. John Selway – Defiance (NYT07)
18. Liquid Asset – Forgetmenot (NYT06)

Keeping it All Natural with Mat.Joe

Before throwing down at Rumor’s All Natural party, we sat down with German dance duo Mat.Joe for a chat about living in Berlin, their hip hop roots, and highlights of a crazy successful 2017. Be sure to check out their #1 Beatport house smash “Love Stream”, if you haven’t already.

WKDU: What were your first favorite hip hop and electronic artists respectively?

Mat: Oh I guess my first Hip Hop favorites were Wu Tang and Dr. Dre…it started with Yo! MTV Raps..oh damnnn, miss those times! Electronic-wise it was Ricardo Villalobos back in the minimal days.

Joe: My first Hip Hop tape was Jeru the Damaja’s “Wrath of the Math”. It blew me away! House-wise, crossover hits from Stardust, Phats & Small, Bob Sinclair, Armand Van Helden, and Daft Punk found their way into my ears when I was a teenager.

WKDU: How did hip hop / skateboarding background lead you to electronic music?

Mat.Joe: We both went to some crazy underground raves back in the days. Guess that the lovely vibes and different energy made it something special. House music is really similar to Hip Hop, Soul and R&B. Skateboarding is a big sub-culture…same with electronic music back in the days….maybe because of this, haha. We still love all those things and ride our boards in the hood as often as possible.

WKDU: What are the differences in your own two personal tastes and styles of music?

Mat.Joe: Haha…this question is in any interview we get. We both have a really similar taste and started with electronic music production in late 2011, right after we froze our Hip Hop project. It’s way more relaxed in the studio and when you play back2back if you share the same taste.

WKDU: Tell us about an ‘only in Berlin’ kind of moment you’ve had since moving there – it seems like you guys like it as a homebase.

Mat.Joe: Oh so many moments…but we guess besides the good food and the lovely cloudy sky (baaahhhh) the parties are crazy wild and they don’t stop! One time at Sisyphos we realized, ‘Oh we’re partying for 3 days already!’…Berlin is Berlin! ❤

WKDU: Closing out the year, what have been some of your most memorable moments from 2017?

Mat: Got a lot of amazing moments with a lot of cool people, great parties in different places around the world plus a successful track in “Love Stream”.

Joe: The festivals were incredible, the Brazil tour, the marathon sets we played at Lost Beach Club and like Mat said, it’s all about the moment and about connecting with the people.

WKDU: What can people expect when they see you DJ live?

Mat.Joe: Some lovely crazy boys with Mat.Joe necklaces and lots of ice cream…haha, but seriously we want to have a good time and enjoy partying with people. So come to the party and don’t be shy. Let’s drink some shots and have some breakfast at the DJ booth. Cheers!

Catch Mat.Joe in a DJ booth near you and stay “crispy” !!

Appian gets Stripped & Chewed

Midwest producer Appian (pronounced App-ee-an) has been honing his ear for dance music since he was a kid, soaking up select cuts from his Mom’s collection. His Mom must have good taste, because Appian’s gone on to create some of the vibiest house music we’ve heard of late, recently joining forces with Chicago-based label Stripped & Chewed for a bumpin’ piano-laced four-track EP entitled Rite of Passage.

We caught up with Appian to talk about the midwest, snackin’, and to grab a sweet guest mix!

Appian: “I grew up in Ferndale, which is a suburb of Detroit, by 8 mile and Livernois. I listened to dance music as a kid because my mom had a bunch of CDs and tapes from DJs. When I got older, I got into Djing and making music.”

“For this mix, I had some slower tracks that I wanted to play. Usually I don’t play that much of the slower tempo stuff that I have, so this was a good opportunity to put some of those tracks together to see where it goes. As far as music influences, I was influenced by Rhythm Is Rhythm, some 80s club music, Aphex Twin’s techno stuff, and a lot of house music… among other things.”

WKDU: How’d the midwest influence your sound and how’d you connect with Stripped & Chewed?

Appian: The mid-west has its own style… I don’t know if I can really describe it though. Stripped & Chewed got in touch with me about doing a record. I’ve liked a lot of stuff that they have done with the label, so it was a great opportunity to collaborate.

WKDU: Any party pro-tips?

Appian: Play the music you love and music for your friends. Play music for the dancers.

WKDU: What’s your favorite post-party snack?

Appian: Chicken strips or coneys.

Peep clips of the Rite of Passage EP below & stay groovy y’all.

 

An Inside Look at Night Swim Radio’s New Comp

If you enjoy diving into experimental hip hop and bouncy future beats, you owe it to yourself to check out Night Swim Radio’s latest compilation The Deep End – Volume 1. Night Swim is a Philadelphia based web radio show that has consistently selected amazing underground artists for their weekly mixes, live showcases and compilation albums. I had the pleasure of hosting NSR’s co-founder and all-around badass, Robert Ritter, for an awesome guest mix on Snack Time, so I reached back out with a couple questions to gain further insight into The Deep End and Night Swim.

Right in time for Night Swim Radio’s 2 year anniversary as one of the best tastemakers in Philly, you guys just dropped one of the hottest compilations of experimental future beats I’ve seen all summer. What has it been like getting this project together?

You’re too kind. We initially were going to try and secure some “bigger” artists for promotional purposes but then realized our first compilation should be from the Night Swim family. We sent out probably 20-30 emails and ended up with 10 artists that we have been promoting for a long time. Everyone involved is super excited to be a part and we can’t wait to keep working with them. Really just honored that they spent time on music for us to release.

How did you pick the title of the compilation, “The Deep End”? How did you tie all of the songs together?

Like our name, Jeff, the other founder, just said “how about The Deep End”? I am not very picky and said sure! We wanted to make it pool related and it just fit. Took about 10 minutes in total to design the cover once I had the name. I wanted to have the compilation run seamlessly and really craft the order but didn’t have enough time. I played the songs back and forth and landed on the order that it is, tried to split up the 3 songs with vocals. I knew I wanted to start with Pold x Baribal because that song is gorgeous.

On the weekly shows and on the new release, you feature lots of local artists who are killing it right now. Who from Philly should definitely be on everyone’s radar right now?

Kilamanzego for sure. She claims she just started producing but I don’t believe her because it is so good! Vendr is another very talented artist. Lastly, godchild makes some impressive music and goes to Drexel, although don’t quote me on that, I might be wrong.

One of your secret talents seems to be connecting artists through NSR to collaborate on tunes. One of your matchmaking successes, Rasiir and Prototyp3, got together on “The Deep End” for the track “Exodus”, which you released ahead of the full comp. How does it feel having such a direct impact on the community?

Oh man, that makes me happier than anything else Night Swim has done. Being from the Midwest, music is very communal. I used to play shows where every band knew each other and supported each other and wanted everyone to succeed. The east coast has been pretty different but I can’t get away from that desire, to help artists meet new people and grow together. The next compilation is going to be 100% collaborative, bringing together vocalists and producers.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your 2 years as founder/co-producer of Night Swim Radio?

Just trying to not care about followers and play count. Although it definitely helps to have thousands of plays, the point is creating a quality radio program and meeting and promoting new artists. You can get so wrapped up in wanting more followers and grow bitter but you have to remember that the whole point of this is to bring joy to the world, at least for me!

What do you have planned for the future?

The compilation was just the start of our newest venture, Night Swim Records. We have an EP from Prototyp3 coming out in August, definitely something with Rasiir in the works, we always release new singles through our soundcloud, and starting to plan out the next compilation!

To find out more information and keep up with new releases from Night Swim Radio, check out their brand new website, Soundcloud, Twitter, and Facebook.

Chattin’ with Deeper Kenz (100% Silk)

Our friend & anonymous producer Deeper Kenz just put out a fantastic tape on the always-excellent LA-based label 100% Silk. They put together a disco-laced mix for us and we chatted about wandering, relationships, and of course, Kensington.

Peep the mix & our discussion below:

KDU: Where did the Deeper Kenz alias come from?

Deeper Kenz: The name of the project was meant simply to pay homage to the place in which the music was made. I first moved to Kensington in 2007 and was 19 at the time. I feel like I became an adult there. I owe a lot to the neighborhood and its different residents.

KDU: How did Philadelphia influence the sound of this tape?

Deeper Kenz: The Sound of Philadelphia is a wonderfully dense landscape and so many parts of it have affected me deeply- the city’s towering contributions to Soul, Disco, and Hip hop, the Experimental and Noise music communities of which I was a peripheral part, the Saturdays of Caribbean music on WKDU, the talented people I DJ’d with at clubs and parties, the dancers there- I felt so connected to and inspired by all of this while I was working on the tracks that would end up on the tape. I spent so many hours wandering around the city but I was always most attached to Kensington. The track names were an attempt to create a map of some of the details of the area that were most important to me.

KDU: Were there any artistic influences that went into Deeper Kenz?

Deeper Kenz: I was obsessively digging for Techno, House, Disco, Funk, and Soul tunes at the time I was working on these, so I’m sure I was fully processing my education. I also was trying to make music I could play out Djing and would fit in the context of my sets. I was also inspired by the personal relationships I had at the time and the inexhaustible current of music flowing through so many of them. I hope the gratitude I feel shows in the music.
KDU: How did you get involved with 100% Silk?
Deeper Kenz: I got in touch with 100% Silk through some mutual friends- Britt Brown had written a review of another project of mine and we first began corresponding about that. He was interested when I told him I had some music that sounded vaguely appropriate for the label and I was ecstatic when they agreed to release it. I hadn’t exactly intended for these recordings to come out- they were just for myself and my friends. All this comes as a pleasant surprise.
KDU: What is your favorite food and/or drink to eat before or after hittin tha club?
Deeper Kenz: Ha- thanks to everyone at W/N W/N who fed me whether I asked for it or not.

Pour yourself a nice covfefe & enjoy the full Deeper Kenz tape here.

WKDU Feature: Kevin Garrett

— Interview by Ryan Stone

 

You may not have heard of him yet but you probably will soon.

Kevin Garrett, a singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist from Pittsburgh by way of Brooklyn, has had quite an impressive few years, from getting cosigns from Sam Smith & Katy Perry to songwriting and producing for Beyoncé – and all off the strength of one EP and handful of singles.

Just last month (February), Garrett dropped his awaited sophomore project, another EP entitled “False Hope.” To support the album, Garrett embarked on his first headlining tour with openers A R I Z O N A.

Before his sold-out show at World Cafe Live on Friday, March 3rd, I had the opportunity to speak with the budding “odd soul” artist to see how his new music is coming along and much more.

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