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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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” !!

Josh Wink talks work/life balance, Philly nightlife history

Josh Wink gives an interview on club vs. home life ahead of hometown Halloween gig.

Ovum's Very Own, Josh Wink
Ovum’s Very Own, Josh Wink

It’s a brisk fall afternoon when I meet up with Josh Wink at Northern Liberties record store Profond Music N Art. Josh has just arrived back from finishing an acclaimed summer residency in Ibiza and is helping organize his son’s birthday party before heading out to Amsterdam the next night.

“My son is four, so I’m still new to being a parent, and there’s all these things I try to balance: being a father and a partner to my wife, being ‘just Josh’ to the people I know from the neighborhood and community gardens, and then being Josh Wink the artist. Finding time to do other things is difficult, but there’s something nice and humble about being here in Philly. I like riding my bike places, I don’t have a car.”

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Josh’s game-changing anthem “Higher State of Consciousness”, the first instrumental record to ever enter the UK’s top 15 national chart twice in one year. The track burst him onto the international scene and became heavily engrained with the first wave of pre-EDM stadium-packing electronic music that took the US and Europe by storm in the ‘90s.


Josh co-hosted a show on WKDU in the 90s called Rave FM, so you know we had to get him to do a station ID for us!

Continue reading “Josh Wink talks work/life balance, Philly nightlife history”

Goldroom on Fighting the Good Fight & his Favorite Snapchats

goldroom
The warm sunny vibes of California perfectly match Goldroom’s music.

Ahead of his LIVE full band performance at Coda tonight (10/15), we caught up with Josh Legg, the mastermind behind Goldroom, to talk about what it means to deliver a true live electronic music performance, his influences, and what his favorite kind of Snapchats are.

KDU: So you’re on a live tour now. What does it mean to you with regard to DJing vs live performance?

Goldroom: I grew up playing in bands and have always incorporated a lot of live instrumentation into my music. I cared a lot about DJing when I started Goldroom and I was only doing DJ sets then. I still DJ all the time – both in clubs and festivals. For me, playing live is a whole different level of emotional commitment and it’s much more musically fulfilling for me. We’re not up there with a couple of drum pads and an Ableton controller. When we’re up there live it’s a four-piece band with bass, guitar, and we sing every song – it’s truly like a band experience. Trying to bring electronic music to people in an authentically live performance is something that means a lot to me and I’m trying to fight the good fight.

Continue reading “Goldroom on Fighting the Good Fight & his Favorite Snapchats”

Starkey & Dev79 on their “anti-genre” STREET BASS

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.

Continue reading “Starkey & Dev79 on their “anti-genre” STREET BASS”

9 albums, 7 singles, 5 shows, 3 mixes & 1 Man of the Year – Chris B’s Best of 2014

These were my favorite albums of 2014.
These were my favorite albums of 2014. I only picked 9 because they looked cool on a grid.

I made an end of year list that doesn’t suck. In terms of methodology, I started by choosing 9 albums because the covers looked cool on a grid. There was also a ton of good shit outside of albums, so then I created the other categories and capped the entries in those categories by descending odd numbers (9-7-5-3-1).

Critical reviews & ratings are arbitrary (see: Pitchfork), but rankings are arbitrary as fuck, so for each category I put all the entries in alphabetical order.

TOP 9 ALBUMS OF 2014:

Continue reading “9 albums, 7 singles, 5 shows, 3 mixes & 1 Man of the Year – Chris B’s Best of 2014”

Hella Decent: the DJ Sega story

by Chris Burrell // @Chri5B_

DJ Sega on the decks
DJ Sega ROCKING the decks for the EMM. Zero headphones used, folks.

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.

DJ Sega poses for us in our vinyl library.
DJ Sega poses for us in our vinyl library.

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!

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DJ Sega spun the EMM to help us raise money for our station, Musicopia, and The Village of Arts & Humanities

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.