The Blisspop Mix Series is back! This time we’re bringing you a sterling mix from one of DC’s brightest, Jackson Ryland. Racking up a steady stream of releases for labels like Holic Trax, Sccucci Manucci, Music Is Love, and more, Ryland has been carving a name for himself with a great blend of deep house and techno. He’s also a member of the Silence In Metropolis crew and a top class DJ to boot. His penchant for analog grooves and warehouse vibes comes through strong on his mix, which is equal parts funky, soulful, and raw. It serves as a perfect intro to get you prepped for an epic Saturday night at U Street Music Hall where Jackson will be sharing a bill with Duke Dumont and local disco duo Man & Woman. Take a listen to the mix below and grab the DL after the jump.
Spank Rock’s “Gully” was a surprise this summer: the kind of guilty, filthy house track that DJs love to slip into their sets just to grime up the dancefloor a little bit. And in the spirit of bringing down the house, Baltimore’s Spank Rock is back to make the dance music crowd unleash their inner hellions.
The cleverly named “Back Up” is a miraculous exercise in blasting the doors off the hinges with high-tempo, dirty beats and a Baltimore club inspired aesthetic that leaves no room to take sides. Instead, the track makes the line between different cliques of the current dance music community an incredibly blurry one; it refuses to follow any rules thereby creating a fresh, trill-heavy, relentlessly rowdy slammer guaranteed to unite everyone under the sole purpose of going nuts. This spirit is masterfully crafted by Kid Kamillion’s personal touch on the production end leaving us with a hard hitting banger comprised of sick builds, earth shattering drops and, of course, a vocal delivery by Spank Rock which is both ferocious and unstoppable. To put it simply, “Back Up” ultimately wants us to stop tweeting or texting or Facebooking for a moment and just drop it as low as you can to the floor. And at a swift 3 minutes, this track doesn’t mess around.
You can grab “Back Up” tomorrow when it’s released by Bad Blood and Boysnoize Records.
Raw, groovy, emotive and truly authentic are just a few adjectives that come to mind when I think of house and techno producer KiNK. Legally known as Strahil Velchev, the Bulgarian producer has a characteristically unique sound, much in part due to his mastery of production and deep affinity for hardware. Velchev is widely known for his exciting live sets and was rated third on Resident Advisor’s list of top 20 live acts in 2013. Tonight, the District is in for a treat as KiNK takes the stage at U Street Music Hall.
Last year, Resident Advisor named you as number three on their list of best live acts. Can you describe the evolution of your live set to what it is today and talk about some of your most valuable learnings in that process?
I started to perform my own music more frequently in 2009. My live set evolved a lot during the last 5 years, simply because I started from a very low point. First of all, now I love to do it, but in the beginning I was not so convinced about it. I have a longer experience as a more traditional DJ. My former agent and a good friend, Kai Fischer, suggested I work on a live show in 2009, because he saw a niche in the scene and a good potential in me. My live set is based on the Ableton Live . I used the platform in a different way from the beginning. Instead of having different channels of midi and audio per track and a solid arrangement, which I believe is the standard, I started to DJ with short loops from my tracks on Ableton. My goal was to turn Live into a big loop pedal, and that’s what I achieved with time.
I started to add more options to play, record, loop and play back instruments in real time, like a keyboard and drum pads, virtual step sequencers–some of them I made or modified on my own. All that made it possible to create music on the fly, improvise and most of all – to have fun on stage. At some point I added a turntable to the setup, because what I do is completely inspired by the DJ culture and not so much by the bands. I miss the DJing sometimes and there is no more authentic form of DJing than using Vinyl. I developed a few routines through the years, like inviting random people from the crowd to write down a bassline or to trigger sounds on my devices. I found it`s quite important for me to be able to show the crowd what I`m actually doing there and to have their attention. My music can be odd sometimes, especially for unprepared listeners, so I believe if the crowd understands a little bit of the process of making the sounds, they can be more open to the music too. This is something valuable I`ve learnt in the last 5 years that I guess is valid for any kind of music performance. You need to know your instrument to perfection, you need to keep it simple, and you need to be very confident. Those three things depend on each other. Its still hard for me to follow the first two rules, but then, being able to go out of your comfort zone is quite important too.
I get the impression that you are an extremely resourceful person in regard to using a limited amount of tools to create music that is dynamic and special. Can you talk about a specific instrument or tool you have used outside of its standard purpose and what kind of sound were you able to create with it?
As a kid I was curious about sound, but I had extremely limited resources. All I could play around with since the late 80s till the late 90s was a cassette recorder, a radio receiver and a cheap turntable. I look at those devices as tools to create sounds. I was doing edits on the cassette recorder, I was listening to the shortwave radio transmissions, searching for the weird noises in between the radio stations. I modified my turntable, so I can cut the sound without a mixer. Later on, when I started to produce, I had an extremely limited and unusual setup as well. Now I`m lucky to own some exciting musical instruments, but my experience in the past often inspires me to use basic and widely popular tools outside of their standard purpose. The most recent experiment was to play the new Roland TR8 drum machine like a keyboard. I tried to make a polyphonic melody with it and to build some sort of a chord progression. The result was different than what I intended to do, but I’m happy with it. You can judge by yourself, I recorded the session and you can find it on Youtube.
With production technology developing so rapidly in electronic music, do you feel that spirit of resourcefulness is being lost? Or, do you think it just resurfaces in new ways?
Well, there are always two sides of a coin. If you want to be resourceful, now you can be, more than ever. Every month, there are new, interesting and more affordable music tools on the market. There are a lot of software platforms, which allow you to modify your virtual instruments and create new ones without the need to have a degree in computer science. You don`t need to spend thousands of dollars for a basic studio setup. Music making was never as democratic as now, and those who want to be creative can do it. Of course, the limitations make you resourceful. I can tell that from my personal experience. Sometimes I also feel lost in the unlimited amount of choices we have now. I`m very inspired by the past. Sometimes I feel nostalgic about the electronic music from back in the day, the way it has been made, and even the cultural aspects of it, but I`m more excited about today and tomorrow. As you suggest, the resourcefulness resurfaces in new ways. For example a lot of producers from the old generation used to sound great just because the instruments they used sounded very musical. It was kind of easy to get a specific sound. When some of those people converted to computer based workstations, they lost their signature sound. The new technology gave us new tools, but also new challenges, so although I don`t like all the new styles of performance and production, I feel very positive about the new technology and I don`t want to go back.
Your recently released album, Under Destruction, started as hours of live recording before becoming a final product of 12 songs. How did you go about deciding what to keep, what to shelve and what to scrap?
That’s a good question, sometimes its hard to have a sharp opinion and to make the right decisions about your own music. You need someone to look at it from a different angle. When I finished with the recording sessions, I chose over 30 rough themes, I made a mix out of those recordings, and I sent it to few close friends. I asked them to send me back a text file with notes about the music. After receiving the feedback, I was happy to see that my friends opinions were similar to mine, so it was easy for me to make a decision. I chose and finished about 16 tracks out of the pile. I had to pick 12 for the record because of the time limitation of the vinyl format. My friend and the owner of Macro records, Stefan Goldmann, helped me out with the final choice. We decided to remove a few dance floor oriented tracks from the selection and to stick to the more abstract compositions. The good tracks that didn`t made it to the album are signed on Systematic and Pets records. The Pets vinyl will also have a lot of samples from the raw album material under the form of locked grooves, for the more adventurous DJs. The record is supposed to come out at the end of the year. The material for Systematic is very powerful. It has being destroying floors in both mine and label owner, Marc Romboy’s, sets. I`m very late to send him the pre-master. I hope he will be patient enough, but I will take care of that as soon as I come back from the States!
I read you once had a hand in producing pop songs and commercial jingles in Bulgaria. What did you take away from those experiences and how did they inform your current production style?
I`ve learnt a bit more about composition and sound design, but most important – how to work with vocalists. I found some good production techniques, but also I started to avoid some traditional ways of composing and producing after dealing with the more conventional music, which was also another way to enrich my music. Overall it was a quite interesting, pleasant and valuable experience, and I`m happy I did it. It definitely improved me as a solo recording artist, and I became more open for collaborations as well.
If any, what artist outside of the house and techno realm would you like to produce for?
I think I’m able to create any kind of instrumental sounds that I like or I can imagine, but I can`t sing, and I like good and special vocalists. I like artists with vision too and the first name that comes in my mind, having those abilities, is Bjork. Although she doesn’t really fit your criteria, because she can be more techno than some of us.
What is one of the best pieces of advice you have received from either one of your mentors or collaborators in the music industry?
Be yourself. It`s a cliche, but it`s a cliche because it`s the truth. Of course, you have to be open minded and flexible. Once in a while you might have to compromise to a certain extent, as long as you find yourself in the new situation. Probably the biggest compromise I made with my music so far was to switch from being a traditional DJ to an live electronic music act. Although I still like to play records, I truly found myself in that form of expression after a while. The public can sense your energy and if you are honest with yourself and your fans, you have a better chance for success, at least that’s my experience so far.
The “Alpha Beta” EP by Netherlanders Disko Matique, coming off their label UMPH, is chock full of unwavering electro beats by way of Justice making this particular release a neat find. While the original track and the subsequent Disko Matique rework are both wonderful examples of how to produce hard electro without going 100% commercial, there are remarkably intriguing track choices on the EP’s B-side.
The first, a remix by Tesla 55, has a certain quality that harnesses a cheery complextro aura and uses that impulse to channel a drive that seems to be on a continual incline. And, like the Little Engine That Could, it reaches a precipice that grooves its way into a satisfying free-fall leading to a nifty, glitchy specimen of house music similar to artists like Oliver or Alex Metric. Overall, this track is the electro-hop to the A-side’s electro-edge.
The second remix, the Moustache Machine Gamma Sigma mix, stands out amongst the pack as it takes the skeleton of the original and injects it with an altogether new flavor. This remix channels “Homework” era Daft Punk with a synth progression reminiscent of “Da Funk” and floating arpeggios light enough for a low-calorie diet. This edit quickly turns into the kind of nudisco track that late night dancefloors crave as it slows things down, but bumps the bass just enough to keep the party alive making this a low BPM heater.
As a whole, this debut on the new UMPH label makes for a sick pack of house tracks worthy of peak hour play and also establishes a promising path ahead for indie producers Disko Matique.
You can download the “Alpha Beta” EP via Juno Downloads and Beatport.
As Fool’s Gold Records starts to blend into the mainstream after being on the periphery for the past few years, many of the lesser known artists on the label have started to leak into the pop consciousness. And Oliver, the nudisco duo known for their 8o’s inspired hooks impregnated with an electro flair, is set out to prove themselves as the next big thing behind Fool’s Gold mainstays A-Trak, his side project Duck Sauce, and the college party incarnate Danny Brown.
Oliver’s latest EP, “Light Years Away,” features a B-side called “Fast Forward” which is evident of this. While the title track vocodes its way through an intoxicating series of builds and drops, “Fast Forward” takes the rock ‘n’ roll route: brash, take no prisoners, and super techno funkified. This track recalls memories of “Human After All” Daft Punk slamming a “Brainwasher” style beat drop in a way that demands to be heard on a club sound system and elements of complextro that flitter its way through the track without sacrificing Oliver’s indie nudisco roots; this is an unwavering dance tune that hits hard and hits home with harmonious lifts and shin-splinting, futuristic beatbreaks worthy of the next 2manydjs set.
Listen to “Fast Forward” below and grab the “Light Years Away” EP today.