Two of Philadelphia’s electronic music veterans, Starkey and Dev79, came to the WKDU studio and spun a killer guest mix last Thursday. We recorded the mix and the guys posted it up for you to listen back. In between turns mixing, I got a chance to chat with the DJ/producers/label bosses about their history in Philadelphia’s electronic music scene.
Category Archives: Features
English three-piece surf-psych band The Wytches dropped the killer Annabel Dream Reader this August on Partisan Records, and stopped by at WKDU on November 21st while on the tail end of their US tour.
Check out their playlist below featuring Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Esperanza Spalding, Converge and more!
by Chris Burrell // @crispychrisx
Max Ochester, Mt. Airy native and owner of Brewerytown Beats, lived all over before coming back to Philly and setting up shop at 29th and Girard in Brewerytown. This month marks the one-year anniversary of his shop being open, so I sat down with him at Sarah’s Place for a beer to talk about his love of vinyl, selling records to Q-Tip at age 14 and why moving sucks when you’re a vinyl fiend. His one-hour ALL VINYL set from the EMM is rad and gives you a glimpse into some of the electro funky goodness that he carries in his store.
CB: Did you have record stores before?
Max: No, this is the first record store that I’ve done. When I moved back to Philly, I handled art for four years and worked odd jobs. Then, it got to the point where I had enough records and said, “I’m just gonna do it and see what happens.” I started looking on Craigslist. There was one guy in West Philly who worked for a record label for about 15 years and had amassed this huge collection of stuff. He had really good taste and was selling it all because his wife got a job in upstate New York. I went over to his house about four times and eventually, bought everything that he had. He was giving me a great deal and I probably bought 600-1000 records each time. By the end of it, my basement had about 10,000 records and that was enough to fill the crates in the store and open up.
CB: Some people move around with their collections. Any vinyl head knows that moving with records is an absolute pain. Was your collection always in one central location?
Max: No, it definitely wasn’t in just one spot. I brought around 500 records to the Caribbean and left about 100 there. From the Caribbean, I moved to Seattle and started collecting heavily. Then, I moved from Seattle to New Orleans and spent about $500 shipping on media mail to move 12-15 crates down there. When I moved back to Philly, I had about 1000 pieces and drove down in a van and picked them all up. Moving is the biggest pain in the ass when you have records. God forbid you live on the third floor and have a shit ton of records. I’m looking to move to a new place where I can build out a record room and it has to be on the first floor; that’s one of my requirements for a new house.
CB: What were the regional fluctuations in what you were finding?
Max: Down in New Orleans, you’ll see Meters records that aren’t as scarce as they are up here – supply and demand, basically. I witnessed Questlove in a crazy bargaining process at a record show I put on in Philly that was like that. The record was a really funky Herbie Hancock offshoot and Questlove was trying to talk the guy down from like $400 to $200. He finally got him down to $250 and bought it. Six months later, I visited my friend in Seattle and saw the same exact record on the wall in a store for $20. It was just more popular out there and I guess there were more copies of it. So yeah, there are definitely regional differences in what you see.
CB: I was talking with one of the guys we had on the marathon who’s an old house head and bought at Funk-o-Mart, 611, etc. What have you seen over the years in Philly as stores have come and gone?
Max: All those were thriving at one point. It was Armand’s, 611, Funk-o-Mart and Sound of Market (they just closed I believe). Those were big time spots for DJs to go. Since I left, it seems like everybody’s kinda gone down the tubes. My personal opinion is that people don’t know how to do stuff online. That’s the only way I’m making it now. I’ve got Discogs and eBay accounts (both named “BrewerytownBeats”). There’s a whole philosophy to them both. On eBay you put out your premium shit, start out at low prices and wherever it goes, it goes. You kinda just gotta give up on caring if you make so much money. Discogs is a whole different game. You put out cheap stuff, you put out good quality stuff and people will buy it. I got guys down in Brazil right now that are buying 30 records at a time, but it’s like $2-5 records. Just today, I got Peanut Butter Wolf buying something and a couple weeks ago I sold to Onra from France. I looked on Wolf’s want list and he has like 30 to 40 things, all amazing shit. It’s cool to recognize that those people are looking at your stuff.
CB: What were your music tastes growing up?
At first, I listened to more of the hair metal stuff: Def Leppard, Poison and all that bullshit. I remember in 8th grade, everybody in my school was like, “What the fuck are you listening to that for?” Eventually, I got into De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and all that. At that same time, I had a neighbor growing up who was a record dealer and sold to the hip hop guys in New York. When I was 14, he asked me to come and help him move records. I walked into a show in New York and literally every hip hop idol that I ever looked up to was buying records from him. I was selling records to Q-Tip, Kid Capri, Diamond D and Pete Rock. The guy that I worked for, David Ozenbaugh AKA Ozy, knew that these guys were serious because they’d spend a lot of money, but he had no idea who they were. I started hipping him to the fact that, “Hey, this is Q-Tip,” and he got really into it and knew all the samples he sold. Ozy knows what other people don’t know – I’ve watched him pick up a dollar record from somebody’s crate then walk four tables down and sell it for $300. That’s when I started listening to the samples in music I liked.
CB: Do you ever see demand spike for a sample after a track blows up?
Max: The “Bound” sample – I had two copies of the 45. I put one online for $12 and it was bought immediately and I was like, why? Then I heard the Kanye song and I put the next one up for $40. I appreciate the knowledge of knowing where people get their samples from. I also enjoy the hunt of finding the sample because some things you’ll find very easily and some things will take you forever to find or hit you hard in the wallet. You’ll see it pop up on eBay and you’re like, “Ugh I could spend $60 or I could take my girl to dinner.” Most record dudes will spend $60 on it.
CB: What’s the most special record you have in your collection?
That would have to be the Windows album by Jack Wilkins. Jack Wilkins was a jazz guitarist who had a couple albums, but this one album was his super funky soulful jazz album. In the early 90s, I watched Q-Tip buy the album from Ozy, later sampling it for “Sucka N—-” off Midnight Marauders. I looked for the album forever. Everywhere I went, I would always make a point of asking for that album, but they never had it. About 3 years ago, my whole family got together for Christmas and did our presents. Then, my aunt came up to me at the end of it and handed me a box and is like, “Here, this is for you.” She and my girlfriend had gotten together and bought it for me – fifteen years later, I finally had it. I didn’t even listen to it when I got home. I left it on the shelf and didn’t touch it until I got interviewed by some other guys. I told them it was my favorite album and put it on to listen, not even knowing if it skipped, but it played perfect.
If you’re a record collector you MUST make a trip out to Brewerytown Beats at 1207 N. 29th St.
Brewerytown Beats was one of the many local businesses that supported the 2014 Electronic Music Marathon.
All the sets from the EMM are being posted over at our Soundcloud – thanks for your support!
by Chris Burrell // @crispychrisx
DJ Sega is one of the most unique and groundbreaking artists to come out of Philly. He was one of the original artists signed to Mad Decent and has remixed the craziest variety of songs with the Philly club sound that he helped pioneer (e.g. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Theme – DJ Sega remix). His set at the EMM was absolutely INSANE. My jaw was on the floor as he pulled out track after track of unexpected / WTF goodness. Sit back and listen to his set and read our chat about the start of his career, current projects and the original Mad Decent HQ. Yeah, we talked about the Diplo beef too…
*BIG UP George Lawrence for bringing Sega through*
CB: How are you and where are you at right now?
DJ Sega: I’m alive…that’s what counts. Right now, I’m in my hometown Philly. I’ve been staying in South Philly lately.
CB: How did you first start getting into music?
Sega: I was born into music. My parents were choir directors and my father was a DJ in the Nicetown area for almost 40 years, playing classic soul, funk, hip hop and other feel good music. My little sister and I grew up being a little competitive when it came to the music we collected. We competed on who would get an album first. My first tape was James Brown 20 All-Time Greatest Hits and the first album I had was Bad by Michael Jackson.
CB: Were you DJing before you started producing?
Sega: My production came before I took DJing seriously as a career. I received an email survey asking for feedback on this music production software called Acoustica Beatcraft. I gave my ideas and then received an email saying that not only did they use my ideas, but that they were giving me the software for free also. I cut and edited samples in a wave editor and made music for my own entertainment. I was going through a lot in that year and needed an escape. That’s where my imagination and the producing came in. This is my 10 year anniversary of producing!
CB: What was some of the first club music you listened to?
Sega: Baltimore club of course. I first heard it in my Dad’s car. He ran into the bar and left me with the radio on for a few minutes, and that’s when I first heard “Doo Doo Brown” by 2 Hyped Brothers & A Dog. I must’ve been about eight! Later, I was in disbelief when I went to a teen night at an arcade up by Erie Ave and they were playing club music. They had the events in the laser tag area – so it was neon paint and black light all over the place.
I knew the sound, but to experience it in a club for the first time with a sound system was incredible! The bass under my feet, the breaks in my face, the girls on my lap – but we won’t talk about that. I still remember the songs that were played that night but I had no idea I’d be making it myself.
CB: Then you started spinning gigs? How did you learn to DJ?
Sega: I’ve always played in front of a live audience and never really “practiced” before. Not because I’m on some Allen Iverson stuff – I’ve just never owned equipment to practice on. You have DJs out there that have all the equipment and only want to look good having it – they don’t really love this stuff.
CB: How did you take your career to the next level?
Sega: I always heard my mixtapes being blasted out of cars and houses, but they were only being sold at one location, one day a week. I started getting my mixtapes into some stores downtown like Armand’s. That’s where I met Dirty South Joe. He introduced me to Diplo and we talked about this new label he was starting at the time (Mad Decent). I became one of first artists signed to Mad Decent and invited their crew to come check out my regular party. Diplo, Switch, Joe and his girl all came to check it out. Switch bought all of my mixtapes that night.
CB: What were those initial vibes like at Mad Decent?
Sega: It was a big creative family – Diplo, Derek (DJA), Paul Devro, Blaqstarr, Rye Rye and me. It was fun and productive and we all shared ideas and helped each other out. Those initial block parties were crazy – 2010 in particular. It was the first year the block party was on tour and also the last time it was at the mausoleum at 12th and Spring Garden. I guess my set ran a little over my allotted 20/25 minutes and I was told to cut the music off. The crowd was in a frenzy, chanting my name and wanting an encore. After that show, I was put on the lineup for NYC.
CB: What do you think it is that drives people wild for SEGA?
Sega: I think that I’m reaching into a part of people that they forget all about. For example, I flipped the Power Rangers theme and when I’d play it out, I’d just see the smiles come on people’s faces. That theme song was how I got into rock and metal. In 7th grade, I caught Headbanger’s Ball one morning and saw the video for Mudvayne’s “Dig”. I ended up remixing that track and when I met Dirty South Joe, that was the song that motivated him to partner up so fast. People couldn’t believe my rock and metal remixes because of the way that the sound was manipulated and even more so that it was coming from a black kid from Philly. That’s what my latest HellaSonix project is about. I decided that since I’m in my 10th year producing, I would go back to my roots and remix everything from Yes to Aphex Twin.
CB: Let’s talk about ‘the tweet’ from Diplo – give me the context around that whole thing.
Sega: I take care of my disabled family members and have been doing so for years. My mother was in two car accidents and my uncle is deaf and mute. I used to come to the mausoleum late and Diplo would ask me why wasn’t I there earlier or more often. I would tell him there’s some shit going on at home. Recently, the city condemned the house my family was living in and I had to move everything out, literally overnight. I was raising money to help – didn’t ask Diplo for any money – and then he tweeted at me what he did. I didn’t even know he had a problem with me. I was just trying to take care of my family with a crazy situation.
CB: And you’ve heard nothing from him since the tweet, correct?
Sega: There was a little bit of back and forth and talks from people telling me he’s contacted them for my number. I got contacted by everybody except from him. People asked what happened so much that I got sick of it and posted everything on a blog in chronological order. I wanted to get past it, but at the same time I refuse to be in that long list of people that bow down or fold to someone, no matter how much power they have. However, I don’t want people to think that everybody at Mad Decent is evil because they aren’t. In fact, some of the crew that works for Mad Decent donated to my GoFundMe page to help my family.
CB: I’m sorry to hear about the whole situation.
Sega: I feel like I had to show that people that no matter how low you think you may be, you still can fight. I’m just glad for the experience. I’ve always been on the DIY tip as far as my career and I can only imagine what will come next. Me going from being Diplo’s first “protege” to a “bum” is an achievement in itself. But why would somebody that high up on the power ladder come at me in front of millions? All while I’m going through shit? There must be something he knows that I don’t…
CB: So what do you currently have in the works?
Sega: I’m always working on music. I have three projects I’m working on right now: the next volume to my Sixer series, a special edition of HellaSonix and my second EP of all original material called, “Is That Your EP Too?” I also play big events and last minute gigs. You have to stay tuned to catch me out because anything can happen at the drop of a hat. One minute I could be here in Philly and the next I could get a call to come out to Tokyo. I love Japan. STAY TUNED!
Please support WKDU and these great nonprofits organizations by heading over to wkdu.org/emm and buying station merch or making a donation.
Much more aural pleasure from the EMM to come. Follow WKDU on Soundcloud & Twitter @WKDU for the latest.
by Chris Burrell // @crispychrisx
“Jacking is a dance technique that comes from moving the torso forward and backward in a rippling motion, as if a wave were passing through it. When this movement is repeated and sped up to match the beat of a song it is called jacking.” – Wiki
Patrick Richards sent me an email saying that he played jackin’ house and that he wanted to be a part of the EMM. I knew we had to have him on the lineup, as I’m always repping that classic Chicago sound.
Richards delivered the goods in his set, and squeezed 31 tracks into his action-packed one-hour set; nestling classics from Mr. Fingers and Marshall Jefferson right next to current gems from Leon Vynehall, Justin Martin and Breach (whose track Jack you’ve definitely heard if you’ve been in a club within the last year).
Listen to his his set from the EMM and catch him out live whenever you can – he’s a high energy DJ with great taste, and he definitely knows his way around a pair of CDJs.
Please support WKDU and these great nonprofits organizations by heading over to wkdu.org/emm and buying station merch or donating.
We’ll be posting the rest of the audio from the EMM throughout November, STAY TUNED!!
by Chris Burrell // @crispychrisx
It was hot in our studio when DJ SYLO and Jansen came through and laid down a two hour set as part of our newly revamped Electronic Music Marathon. These two young Philly producer / DJ / party starters definitely delivered one of the sickest sets of the marathon, dropping everything from MK and Cajmere to Blawan, Jam City, and LOL Boys. They’ve got a ton of stuff going on individually, but have also lit up North Broad Street together with their Pizza Party series as of late. I can’t wait to see what power moves both these guys have in store for the very near future. Listen back to their set from the EMM and peep our chat here:
CB: How did you guys link up?
SYLO: Earlier in our Temple days, me and some homies were throwing parties under the name SFO – So Far Out ENT. Our CEO, Dubz the Don, was fresh as hell. He and Jansen linked up and that led to me meeting Jansen. SFO parties were wild – the last one we did had 700 kids in it, diverse both in terms of crowd and music.
Jansen: That was when I was still a lost little freshman taking photos and stuff. I started DJ-ing the next year and got my start spinning with this Philly rapper named Tayyib Ali. I was kicking it with him a lot, going to shows and then he just had the idea for me to spin for him. That threw me into the fire in terms of doing a live show.
CB: How did you guys get your first turntable set up?
Jansen: I spent loan money to buy some some tables off Craigslist that didn’t work too well and got a mixer for my birthday. I was lucky because my uncle who used to DJ back in the day was trying to sell his old 1200s, so I sold the shitty Numark ones I had and kept his.
SYLO: I used to go to my homie’s spot in high school and watch this documentary Scratch over and over, it’s about DJing. He had tables too, so we would mess around on those. But he believed in me and sold me his tables for super cheap and I was out. I have vivid memories of listening to “Life’s A Bitch” at his spot.
CB: That’s crazy – I talked with Matthew Law a few months back, and he also brought up watching Scratch. If you had to pick 2 tracks from HS or college that were super influential to you, what would they be?
Jansen: I grew up on hip hop/rap and lived in VA, so I was always into the trap shit and Southern rap, but was also always into some weirder electronic/dance/alternative type shit. I remember one of the first house parties I went to, I heard “Baptism” by Crystal Castles and it blew my mind. I liked them a lot because they were really different, original and hard. Second, and more important, was sometime during my sophomore year when I came across this Maya Jane Coles mix, I think it was like a live set. That mix opened my eyes to deep house and a more mature chilled-out side of house that I still love/play/produce today!
CB: Any reason why you gravitated towards the female artists, Jansen?
Jansen: I have no idea. Alice’s voice with Ethan Kath’s production is so unique to me and Maya Jane Coles is just like a goddess. The track “What They Say” – I saw the light when I heard that record.
SYLO: When I was first getting into club/electronic music in high school, I found Tittsworth – WTF (Nadastrom Remix) on hypem.com. I looked up Nadastrom and found out that they were from DC (I’m from Takoma Park, MD, inside the beltway) AND that they were playing this all ages party called Blisspop @ The 930 Club in a week. We got a crew together, put a bunch of vodka in water bottles and took the metro down to the club.
I remember so clearly THE MOMENT that I stepped into the club – everything changed. You gotta hear club music IN THE CLUB!
Number two I’ll say is the Two Inch Punch remix of that Birdy song “People Help The People”. I found that jawn in 2011 when I was living in London – it sent my whole taste in a more loved up, deep direction. New Bobby Shmurda also!
CB: Fast forward to today – tell me about the order of what happened between all the different things you guys have going on now.
SYLO: STUNTLOCO was born almost 2 years ago. Sammy Slice had been rocking Silk City on Thursdays for 5+ years and was looking for a young DJ to pass the night on to. I guested a couple times with him as a tryout and made the cut. I’ve been rocking every Thursday since [moved it to the 700 club in March]. Now, the whole thing has grown to the point where STUNTLOCO is something bigger – it’s our movement, it’s our crew, it’s a feeling that’s found across everything that we do. The crew is whoever is rocking with us: me, Matt Ford the MC, Daniel the photographer, Grace on visuals, Benz on marketing, Jansen spinning – it’s mad people, some more involved than others.
Jansen: Yeah so my point of view: STUNTLOCO (inspired by a Hispanic board game) was at Silk City for a while. I had been part of the fam for a while, but didn’t spin it until it moved to the 700 club. Then the Pizza Party just like came out of nowhere in a meeting.
SYLO: It started as this free secret house party, then just kept growing.
The idea was that we needed to throw a party for the people – get back to the roots and throw an ill house party.
We did four of those that were really awesome and then I was skating around looking for a venue for another party. I had thrown in the towel and went to go get a slice at Alessandros. When I saw they had a bar, you should’ve seen my face. The manager was there at the time and the rest is history.
Here’s a rare Pizza Party 3 gif:
Jansen: Originally, I had a specially designated “house set” which has grown into this beautiful thing where I can spin warm-vibey-pizza sounding house music – PIZZA HOUSE.
CB: What is a pizza sounding house track?
Jansen: It’s many sounds – Kaytranada fused with Julio Bashmore and a hint of French Express.
CB: One last thing – why pizza?
SYLO: Pizza is the universal comfort food. It’s amazing how many different types of people love pizza.
The whole point is to bring people together. Thank you pizza.
Jansen: Pizza is one of the better things earth has to offer. What’s better than eating a fresh piece of pizza and dancing to some groovy shit? I want pizza right now!
TONIGHT, catch DJ SYLO at the 700 club for STUNTLOCO and catch Jansen as 1/2 of P.S. 118 opening up for Huxley at The Dolphin Tavern.
We’ll be posting the rest of the audio from the EMM throughout November, STAY TUNED !!!