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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WKDU stops in for a little Miami Music Week action!

Day 1

Dodging the last snow storm of the year in Philly, Being WKDU’s new member I felt it was necessary to take a quick trip to 90 degree and sunny Miami! The first stop after dropping luggage off at the hotel was most definitely the beach. Running into one of my close friends/DJ/Producer Deana Sophia Vera, we started to have our first drinks on the beach and got the run down of what parties to go to and so on. Deana is a local Philly dj whos on the come up making a number of appearances not just in our city but had opened up for major names such as Oliver Heldens, Nicole Moudaber, Walker and Royce, and few others. After making power moves in 2017 she is on her way to success in 2018 making appearances in major party cities domestically. Her style consists of real intimate, sexy, tropical dark deep-house and tech-housy vibes but also not afraid to step into the dark heavy hitting techno world (link below of her latest mix on soundcloud). At some point this spring she will make a guest appearance at WKDU, a date has not been determined yet.

Deana’s latest techno mix

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Deana Sophia Vera opening set for Oliver Heldens at Noto in Philadelphia

As the sun came down it was time to get suited and booted for the first event of the night. The first stop was an event called “Techno Taco Tuesday”. This event was beautifully decorated hidden little spot in down town Miami. Although I was disappointed they weren’t serving actual tacos the decorations and the vibe as I entered gave off a traditional west coast desert Mexican cultural feel. Techno infused with Mexican style tribal feels created a warm soothing atmosphere like you were celebrating the day of the dead holiday. MNTRA and DVINA are the promoters/Entertainment groups who set up this event coming all the way from Arizona brining Desert Heart inspired production to Miami music week.

short clip from the “Techno Taco Tuesday” event TACO TUESDAY

Heading off to the second party, the next destination was Trade Miami. Normally the smart thing is to pre plan your trip and purchase tickets a few days in advance where everything is cheap starting at around 15-30 dollars. In my case, since I am a more of a spur of the moment type of guy I ended up paying 80 bucks for general admission. I was not missing out on legendary Paco Osuna and Carlo Lio back to back show. When I entered I have never seen anything like this in my entire life. Not a single person was on their phone, all eyes were glued to the front, and not one person was not dancing. I had gotten there at 12am and next thing I know, looking at my phone, it was 5am. the combination of music, crowd, sound system, and visuals blew my mind. I was in such an intense state of excitement the 5 hours spent there felt like 5 minutes.

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Trade Miami

Day 2

After passing out around 8am I had a rough start to the next day. pretty much waking up around 4pm I had original plans to go to the Axwell day party but decided I shall save my energy eat some good vegan grub and whip around a rental scooter to do some sight seeing and sticker slapping!

For the second night I purchased tickets to Club Space which is ranked in the 95th place according to DJMAG top 100 clubs in the world. This club is by far the biggest I have ever been to consisting of three huge dance floors. One of the rooms which really makes the club iconic is the roof top terrace experiencing very special moments when the sun comes up on the horizon. This club is located in the perfect place in the heart of downtown Miami capturing the first rays after a long night of dancing. The line up for this night consisted of so many amazing artists but the only ones that stood out to me were Josh Wink and Danny Tenaglia. Both Philadelphia and New York City legends! I was fortunate enough to catch Josh right before his set to take a quick pic and send some WKDU love!

Short clip of Josh Wink’s set at club Space Miami

Day 3

My last day in Miami I met up with local Philly DJ/producers Jordano and Capretto, made there appearance for the first time during Miami Music Week doing a back to back set for a small party located smack dab right in the middle of South Beach Miami on Collins avenue. Nexus Radio was hosting a party at the Fire Ice drink house and I was really happy to be able to take a few photos of some familiar Philly faces spreading brotherly love all the way in Miami. These guys are currently working hard in the studio cooking up some potential fire for their come up, so look out for them to be potential headliners at major festivals such as EDC or Electric Zoo.

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WKDU supports Jordano+Capretto

Taking a long nap was much needed after this event to later attend the last two parties of my time in Miami. The first one was located in North Beach Miami called Basement. The name speaks for itself literally in the basement of a hotel or a very expensive looking apartment complex. Judging from the folks lined up for the party and the establishment in which it was housed this place looked extra sheik. The main floor consisted of a bowling alley and in the neighboring room was the main dance floor, very small approximately 3000 square feet. It was extremely tight because the word on the street was that Diplo was the special guest after the headliner Hot Since 82. was not really feeling the party the entire time because the sets from both the opener and the headliner sounded very commercial and basic. Extremely disappointed I thought maybe Diplo can change the vibes around. Unfortunately he kept the same flow of the party going. I left 5 minutes into his set to go to the last and final stop for the night the Tree House. This Party was hosted by Dirty Bird records own Billy Kenny. The line up for this was stacked! the particular names that stood out were Weiss, Josh Butler, and Huxley. All kings of house music coming from the UK. Huxley has been on a production frenzy coming out with hit after hit on the house and tech house music charts. Some of my personal favorites in the recent months were “Eastside” and “struttin”! Absolute killer tracks! Josh Butler has also been busy in the studio featuring many new talents to the industry on his Origins record label. Releasing the record labels second Various artist EP on March 30th features an emerging producer Ben Sterling and along side him debuting his first appearance on the label Timmy P.

   short clip of Huxley’s set at the tree house

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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)

!Listen to Sidney Gish!

Listen to Sidney Gish! She just released an album called No Dogs Allowed, and I haven’t been this excited about a new find since…also finding Haley Heyndrickx last week. No Dogs Allowed is a funny, upbeat, legitimate masterpiece. You’ll sing “Sin Triangle” around the house and dance to “Sophisticated Space.” You’ll teach a parakeet to talk. And then, once you finish the album, share it with a bunch of friends, and listen once more, you’ll find Ed Buys Houses, and realize, amazingly, that it is on the same level as No Dogs Allowed. You’ll ride on your bike home on an unseasonably warm day, and then share Sidney Gish with as many people as you can. Enjoy!

Sidney Gish is a musician attending Northeastern University in Boston, MA. She released her last two albums during winter breaks.

Destroyer @ Underground Arts

When Dan Bejar sings ruefully “I’ve seen it all,” you’ll believe him. The slouching pop mastercrafter gave a spellbinding performance to a packed room at Underground Arts last Monday, in support of his eleventh studio record, “ken”. The album draws on more goth and 80s synth-pop influences than his previous, still woven through with his iconically cryptic lyrics.

Simply listening to his recordings, one hears a sardonic quality in Bejar’s delivery. But seeing him live lends the lyrics an almost despairing earnestness. Whether imploring or berating, he punches each syllable of tongue-twisting verse with knit eyebrows and white knuckles. During instrumental interludes, he would kneel down to take a swig of Modelo’s and fitfully comb at his wild, greying mane.

The band opened with a few tracks from the new album, “In the Morning” and “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood”. The 8-piece ensemble conjured a full, slowburn sound remniscent of New Order to back the vocal’s heart wrenching intensity. This touring band has been together since the release of 2011’s Kaputt, the soaring pop album that earned Destroyer a nomination for Canada’s highly competitive Polaris Music Prize. The tempo then picked up with the glitzy track of the same name, the audience beginning to groove along with the band. By the time they launched into the ecstatic instrumental freakout at the end of the sunny and dramatic “Times Square” from 2015’s Poison Season, everyone in the room was enthusiastically bobbing along.

Perhaps the best moment of the night was an inspired rendition of Kaputt’s “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker”, which the trumpet player opened by bending and looping his sounds on an effects board for two or three minutes,  to create a sonic palette straight out of a Michael Bay film. The movement climaxed with a sailing riff on the alto flute and Bejar clapping away at a tambourine. While the emphasis throughout the night was songs from the latest album, several more tracks from Kaputt, Poison Season, and even a few from further back in his massive discography appeared. 

It’s hard not to notice the cloud of cynicism that enshrines Bejar. Throughout the performance, he barely acknowledged the audience, doing away with any chatter between songs. The most he offered was a small, flourishy bow mid-performance, a gesture mimicking the anachronistic elegance that often appears in his music. This cynicism was especially apparent when he waved his hand toward the crowd while singing “why’s everybody sing along when we built this city on ruins?” But he ended the night with the upbeat anthem “Dream Lover”, a song Bejar himself described as “a positive reinforcement song for very negative people.” And, for the first time the whole evening, the misanthropic rocker cracked an almost imperceptible smile.

OSHUN in West Philly

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Photo via Oshuniverse.com

On Saturday the thirteenth of January , Niambi and Thandiwe Sala and producer/DJ, Proda, walked in succession down the back stairs of a West Philly basement, to the front of an eager crowd. like foreign envoys Back in 2015 in an interview with Complex, the two explained that Oshun is the Yoruban deity after whom the project is named. “A West African, traditional deity, she’s a goddess, and she governs over sweet waters.” She’s a mother of love, fertility, wealth and diplomacy”.

Their presence expressed this vividly. From the time they walked towards the stage, until they took photos and thanked their fans after the conclusion, the air was full of love. Afrofuturism stands as the core value and inspiration for the group’s art. In fact, “love for [their] people and for serving and enlightening their people” is what brought the two together, when they first formed Oshun back in the freshman dorms at NYU. On Saturday these philosophies spread through the venue like a spell. In an audience comprised of primarily black/brown persons, the occasion was best described by Oshun themselves; a celebration.

The two wore matching camo jumpsuits, bronze crowns, and bronze tops which swirled over their bodies in winding patterns. Once the “takeoff sound” (a glittery, space-sound like something that would come from The Powerpuff Girls) was played, the beginning of a collective voyage into the “Oshuniverse” began. They began with a few track off of their upcoming series Bittersweet, before moving to songs from AFAHYE and ASASE YAA. With “Parts”, the two wielded a kind of sweet but powerful energy throughout the crowd. From the delicate emotional depths of Sango, to more energetic and beat driven tracks like “Blessings on Blessings”, they proved that every track in the discography is drenched in meaning. Their defiance and strength was expressed through sweetness and love; a testament to the paradoxical spectrum of a narrative which is too often flattened in our society.

With standout tracks like “Not my President”, both showcased their gifts for vocal improve, sounding better, and hitting runs more impressive than those than their recordings. The track included metal-inspired guitar riffs to replace the more jazz-like trumpet solo featured at the end of the original recording. As many genres as Oshun fits together in their music, producer Proda managed spread this idea throughout the set to add more energy to the performance.

Now that Niambi and Thandiwe are graduated from school, they have been able to create their album series Bittersweet, and embark on a two-month tour throughout Canada and the United States. A sort of Neosoul/Hip-Hop infusion, their music draws heavily on reggae, and multiplicitous forms of traditional African/root music. Mixing these sounds with progressive production and otherworldly sound effects/design, the Oshun’s art ends up somewhat like an enormously expensive musical history lesson/divination session. The two frequently express the spiritual nature of their goals and purpose in interviews and press. At their West Philly performance on Saturday they brought a message of peace and healing to a well deserving crowd.

Snails @ The Fillmore

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Canadian native “Snails” will be Performing at The Fillmore Friday night December 15th! You wouldn’t want to miss this if your a huge bass fiend and love grimy trap/dubstep. Philly being one of the stops for his “The Shell Tour” Snails wants to celebrate his success in the release of his new album “The Shell”! About 2 weeks prior to his arrival to our city we got a chance to interview him while he was on the road, just having completed a show in Huston he was more than happy to give us 30 minutes of his time to tell us how he has become what he is today.

WKDU: What was that one track that pretty much blew your name up and paved your way to success?

Snails: Miami 2015 Ultra! Jack U (Skrillex and Diplo duo) played my track I produced with Antiserum called Wild. this track gain recognition and approval from many trap/dubstep fans and led me to working with Skrillex’s Label OWSLA.

WKDU: What are your favorite types of venues to play at?

Snails: playing at clubs is fun because judging by the how the crowd vibes I am more flexible to change my style of play and music selection and experimenting with new things on the fly. On tour and at huge venues like the Fillmore I pretty much have a set plan of what I want to play because for big shows like this I want my fans to experience a story that goes with my music. The sound system, the shell stage, and the visuals is what gives my fans the ultimate experience of my new album.

WKDU: We can see that you really love and have an immense amount of respect for your fans, where does that come from? I know this pretty unusual for a lot of DJs because everyone just wants to do their gig and move on to the next city.

Snails: If it wasn’t for my fans I wouldn’t be where I am at today! On my new album there is actually a track I dedicated to my fans called “The Anthem”,  my biggest fans call themselves “The Vomit Squad”! Before my sets I try to walk through the crowd to take photos and just give back with my presents and just say hi on a personal level.

WKDU: What are some pre show rituals?

Snails: I drink tea, and try to watch the crowd during my openers to calm my nerves. even though Iv performed so much and in front of so many people in the past years every show I still get butterflies in my stomach.

WKDU: Tells us about the come up and development of your new album.

Snails: It took about 9 months to finally have it done. with my work I don’t like to rush I like to do every track with no deadline and carefree. this was a very fun project because I worked with tons of different artists ranging from many different genres like rap, metal, reggae, and other dubstep/trap guys who help contribute. I myself have a metal background so this for me was refreshing.