We’ve been working on getting this together for awhile and are finally ready to debut it. The Blisspop Mix Series has landed, and will be bringing you some of the freshest mixes around from our ever awesome residents and favorite up and comers. Baronhawk has manned the decks for the first installment and we couldn’t be more excited. What he delivered is close to an hour of raw, deep and funky house. Check it out below and help spread the word!
Art of Tones – The Great Sgatmi (Local Talk)
Ivel Tax – Dubbler (Kina Music)
Soulstar Syndicate – Take Me (King Street Sounds)
Kim Jay – Love Come Down II (Kingdom)
The Family – Feel The Light (UMM)
Detroit Swindle – Huh, What! (Dirt Crew)
DJ Aakmael – Just A Track (Liberate)
Suges – Suges Jam (Soulstream)
Jeffrey Jerusalem is easily one of the hardest working men in the game. DJ, drummer for YACHT, and now touring member of RAC, it is safe to say that the guy certainly has his hands full–not to mention a productive solo project that delves into the strange cross waters between techno, house and disco with wondrous results. He was nice enough to sit down and answer a few questions for us and we couldn’t be happier. Check the interview below and make sure to keep an eye peeled for his upcoming single due out on Public Release.
What does 2014 hold for you in terms of projects/songs/horroscopes/new musical expeditions?
I’m working on a shit ton of new stuff this year that I’m excited about. I’m putting out a 12″ single with the Public Release label in San Francisco, and, working on a whole diversity of weird and groovy music that I’ll be trickling out as the year goes on. I’m also doing a bunch of DJing and touring with RAC and YACHT. Just endlessly grinding and pushing forward.
What’s your musical background and how did you find yourself making dance music? How does DJig come into play for you?
I’ve been playing drums in bands since middle school. It’s kind of cliché for a DJ or producer to say “I started out playing in punk bands” but it’s true for me too. I also, played in the jazz band in my high school and played in all sorts of nerdy prog-rock and math rock bands. I’ve also always been noodling and composing with computers and started focusing more on that kind of stuff in college. For me DJing is simply an opportunity to share, in a stylistically coherent and creative manner, songs and genres that I love and would hope other people might appreciate too.
“Decay” is one of my favorite tracks of last year. Can you describe how that song come about?
Glad you dig that tune! That was born out of my love of noisy, melodic, polyrhythmic techno. I wanted to make a song that was super simple and only used, like, 3 synth sounds and maybe 5 tracks total. This was the end result.
What’s your writing process like? Do you approach the songs with any particular mindset or goal before you sit down with them?
For me, the process of composing and producing is very freeform and on the fly. If I hear a melody or stumble across a synth sound or sample or drum machine patch I really like, I try get something out–a loop or verse or chorus–as quickly as possible. I find that I can get 2/3rds of a song done in about an hour and then it takes me about 6 months to finish the other 1/3rd.
How do you balance work between your solo work and YACHT? It sounds like a lot of your sounds are generated by outboard gear, so is that ever an issue being on the road?
Touring with YACHT takes up a lot of my time but I’m lucky enough to have a good amount of downtime between tours and shows. When I’m home, I spend a lot of my time working on music in my apartment. Honestly, I use almost no outboard gear. There are some really beautiful sounding and powerful software synths out there, and if you know how to mix and manipulate them you can get some really rich sounds. I’m bored by analog fetishism. I think a Jupiter-8 could sound like a dinky iphone app if mixed poorly or used in the wrong context. Conversely, some iPhone apps sound great and I’ve recorded with a number of different ones that I love and sound great in a mix. I mean, I think outboard gear is great, but I spend all of my disposable income on eating out and almost never allocate resources to buying new gear.
Do you approach your remixes differently than your original tracks?
I almost prefer doing remixes to working on original tracks. With a remix, the initial spark of inspiration is already there, and as a remixer I love working with a finished a cappella track or chord structure for a song and rebuilding a track around that. I want to do more remixes, honestly.
Do you play live drums on any of the tracks? A lot of them seem to have a live percussion element to them similar to sort of DFA sound.
I don’t play much live drums on my tracks. I’ve always worked in a small bedroom studio and just never have the space to set up drums or anything. One time I recorded with my friend who does the band Midnight Magic at his studio. We got some good drum takes then and I’ve been using a lot of those tracks ever since. I feel like I have a knack for sequencing and programming acoustic percussion. Also a good african loop, soul break, or field recording of cuban drumming is going to sound better than anything you record at home or in a studio.
Tommy Vercetti is an immensely talented 20-year old from Leeds, and he makes some of the most addicting house music to be heard of late. Big chord stabs, killer melodies, jacking beats, and all around good times round out to earn Vercetti the Blisspop seal of approval, no questions asked. His single “Good Feeling” shares similarities with Lxury’s “J.A.W.S.,” using the sort of fast swell synth chords over a garage-tinged house beat with a simple but effective vocal clip. The track is huge and ridiculously fun, seemingly like the rest of Vercetti’s work. His remix of MK’s dub of “Summertime Sadness” is also worth noting as the young producer transforms the original track into an uplifting piano house shaker guaranteed to get the room moving. Check it out below and thank us later.
Saturday, January 25, we give BLISS a proper introduction to 2014 with Blisspop Crew Night. Featuring the diverse tastes of residents Will Eastman, Baronhawk, Ozker, Harry Ransom, Caleb L’Etoile and Brian Billion, the party kicks off what is sure to be an expertly curated year of BLISS.
Blisspop Crew Night is free before midnight for 21+. Ages 18-20 by advance ticket only. Tickets: http://ticketf.ly/1fuzQjl
2013 has been a tremendous year for electronic music to say the least. The Blisspop staff did its best to wrangle up its favorite things from the past 12 months–ranging from artists to albums to gigs. We hope you enjoy–see you all in 2014!
Caleb – Top 5 Favorite Things of 2013
DJ Koze – Amygdala
This LP was a nice surprise for me. It’s definitely super unique and each track differs vastly from the next, but DJ Koze managed to make probably the most colorful and creative album of the year. Everything from the sound design, goofy vocal croaks, Marvin Gaye samples and wandering song structures come together to form a trippy wonderland that congeals perfectly when absorbed from start to finish.
Daniel Avery – Drone Logic
Daniel Avery’s debut LP Drone Logic dominated the latter part of my year, especially following his killer DJ set at U Street Music Hall. It took everything I loved about his initial EPs, removed any fluff, and turned out to be one of my favorite records of the year hands down. It’s relentlessly analog feeling but manages to not be as rigid as most tracks that would fall under that descriptor. Daniel Avery’s songwriting and production are both at the top of their game, and tracks like “Water Jump” make for easy dance floor workouts while slower cuts like “Knowing We’ll Be Here” showcase his depth as a producer with dreamy synthscapes and gorgeous melodies.
The Juan Maclean – “Feel Like Movin’”
DFA had a fantastic year with releases like The Juan Maclean’s “You Are My Destiny,” Shit Robot’s “We Found A Love,” and Holy Ghost’s awesome sophomore LP Dynamics. The most memorable track (of the year and probably the label in general), though, was The Juan Maclean’s “Feel Like Movin’.” The song is a glorious 8 minute house wonderland with an infectious groove, meaty piano stabs, stomping kicks, and the iconic voice of Nancy Whang overtop it all. It ends up feeling like a culmination of everything awesome we’ve come to love about the label combined into one feel good track.
Lxury – “J.A.W.S.”
Having Disclosure ties from the get-go never hurts, but Lxury’s debut single carries itself entirely on its own. Infectious, bright UK house with a fairly unique approach to synth work makes for one of the year’s biggest tracks.
Todd Terje – ”Strandbar (Samba)”
Todd Terje’s epic “Strandbar” is probably my favorite track of the year. It’s a 9 minute piano house journey complete with burbling synths, ephemeral textures and and an incredibly infectious samba beat behind it all. Todd Terje has built a reputation for making happy disco leaning tunes, and this is some of his finest works yet.
Charles – DC’s Best Gigs of 2013
Hotflush head honcho Paul Rose, better known as Scuba, descended upon Washington this past March alongside friend and label-mate South London Ordnance to deliver what was easily one of the finest performances of the club’s prolific three-year history. Alongside Blisspop resident Lxsx Frxnk, the three brought a night full of some of the deepest, darkest techno the city has ever experienced which committed itself to memory from the moment I walked into the club. Not only were each of their sets seemingly flawless, but they also showcased a style second to none. This one will go down as the night the UK took the nation’s capital.
George Fitzgerald has truly had the year of his life. With a steady stream of grade-A releases across multiple labels, one of which coming via London’s renowned Domino imprint, it’s safe to say that the Brit has solidified his place among the ranks of the world’s finest DJs and producers. Closing out his massive year with a North American tour, Fitzgerald stopped by U Street Music Hall with his highly sophisticated, inimitable style of house in tow. With the immensely talented DC locals behind the Silence in Metropolis label by his side, this night was one in which house music proved to be not only alive and well, but thriving in the face of its all too often humdrum contemporaries.
Where to begin with Mr. Blake? The one-time king of the “post-dubstep” revolution has, over the past four years or so, developed into one of our era’s most talented singer/songwriter/producers (a description which few can even attribute to themselves). After releasing his latest LP to widespread critical acclaim earlier this year (earning him a Mercury Prize along the way), it was readily apparent that the UK wunderkind has refined his sound to a T. Returning once again to the 9:30 club in early November, Blake proved to truly be at the top of his game–seamlessly blending tunes from his debut LP, his latest works, and even a track from his very first release via Hemlock (“Air & Lack Thereof,” a personal highlight for me). While there’s no doubt James Blake has transformed greatly as an artist, his live performances shine for their ability to demonstrate the linear approach and the cohesive manner in which the musician has grown.
David Kennedy returned to the District for the first time this past Spring under his Pearson Sound moniker for a night of some of electronic music’s most forward-thinking productions. One-third of the prolific Hessle Audio crew, Kennedy prophetically demonstrated via his set the sounds that would come to dominate 2013. Playing everything from experimental house to minimal, downtempo grime to old-school garage, all the while maintaining the tranquil ease the renowned producer/DJ has come to be renowned for. Pearson Sound confirmed that night his pivotal role in shaping electronic music’s tastes and trajectories. The man is truly in a league of his own and, to me at least, an inspiration.
The dynamic duo of Dominic Maker and Kai Campos, more familiarly known as Mount Kimbie, returned in epic fashion in 2013 to deliver one of the finest crafted LPs of the year (Cold Spring Fault Less Youth). On the heels of that release was the two’s first appearance in DC at the legendary Black Cat. The band, as it’s safe to call them–given their utilization of traditional instrumentation alongside analog equipment–has long been known and lauded for their live performances and this night was certainly no exception. Playing live renditions of originals as far back as their first release from 2009, Maker and Campos embody something which many other musicians spend their entire lives attempting to achieve–the ability to amalgamate both electronic and material sounds into a beautiful, harmonious synthesis. Even more impressive is their ability to translate this synthesis into a live setting. Perhaps most striking, however, is the feeling one gets that the two have yet to even reach the pinnacle of their artistic abilities. One thing is for certain, though, that Mount Kimbie represents in full form an optimistic future for the music world at large, one which was displayed in whole on an otherwise quiet night in the nation’s capital.
Chrystal – Favorite Artists of 2013
Emerging from the Gloucestershire countryside in the south-west of England, 25 year old Tahliah Barnett, better known as FKA Twigs, is tipped for big things after releasing her sophomore EP simply entitled 2. Her music feels like future trip-hop and very much similar to early Burial, Tricky and Massive Attack with elements of Portishead. This urban alternative beauty looks the part, is a former dancer, sings beautifully and purposefully, yet haunts the listener with her stark beats and intimate projection. Songs like “How’s That” from 2 and ‘Ache’ from EP 1 suggest nothing but total and utter brilliance. FKA Twigs makes the type of music which is begging to be remixed and should be a producer’s dream. After releasing her first EP on Bandcamp, FKA Twigs signed to indie record label Young Turks, and with new label mates such as SBTRKT and The XX, only good things can come of this pairing. Oh, and did I also mention she’s been named on the BBC’s Sound of 2014 list? Anyone who can bring back the genre of trip-hop–a genre I’ve never stopped listening to–is always welcome in my home.
Débruit is a genre-merging, boundary pushing genius from Paris who I only discovered (to my shame) this year whilst dancing wildly to his music at Worldwide Festival in Sete, France. Introduced to me by Gilles Peterson, Débruit, whose real name is Xavier Thomas, brings together Electronic music with Soul, Hip Hop, Garage and beats from all over Africa. With the release of his 2010 EP Spatio-Temporel, tunes such as “Nigeria What?” have made their mark on the European dance music circuit. His highly acclaimed debut LP released this year, From The Horizon, is also treat–the track “Ata” being a personal highlight.
Techno has never been my specialty. Although I’ve never had any problems moving to it, Daniel Avery has made me want to play it again. And again. And again. The DJ/producer’’s debut album Drone Logic, released by Erol Alkan’s Phantasy label, is remarkable, beautifully crafted techno at its best. Avery demonstrates a knack for old school vibes in tunes such as “All I Need” yet also proves he’s one of the most forward thinking producers in the game as witnessed in songs like “Drone Logic.” There are clear elements of the Chemical Brothers and twanging sounds worthy of The Prodigy, but what makes this album so special is its accessibility to many who know little to nothing about techno. At the same time, it’s an album techno connoisseurs should certainly love and respect.
Nominated for the UK’s prestigious Mercury Prize once again this year, Jon Hopkins has been around for a while working as a composer with the likes of Brian Eno. Foolishly, it wasn’t until Immunity was set free that I stood up and took notice. The London resident is now signed to Domino and released his fourth studio album to widespread critical acclaim. Electronic in its nature, it also offers spatial delicacies with flicks of techno. It’s safe to say that Jon Hopkins has a whole new fan base with this complex, highly refined delight of an album, myself included.. The title track truly touches the soul while “Open Eye Signal” takes you on a ravenous escapade. You can’t help but admire and respect Mr. Hopkins’s work as he has proved to be one of the most talented musicians of our time.
25 year-old Londoner Rikette released her debut EP this past November via Bandcamp and stunned the masses with her wondrously strong vocals and undeniable ear for melody, making this a brilliant debut release which spans multiple genres. Songs like “Next Question” are at home on the dancefloor, with its remix by Crownstone bringing together soul and chilled-out textures with nods to forward-thinking dubstep, while wonderfully arranged tunes such as the EP’s title track, “Miss Leading Happy,” feel very Winehouse-like with touches of Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald. Influenced by Jazz and Soul music, Rikette is also influenced by the London club scene which is felt in her charming and promising premier release, Miss Leading `Happy.
Elyse – Memorable Moments from Some of My Favorite Sets of 2013
Sepalcure – Boiler Room Vapor City Launch: (@ 17:30 – 21:50 )
Sepalcure is topping next year’s list for DJs who actually dance to dance music. Watching them dance and grin throughout this mix was refreshing and exciting. I particularly love the richness of the section starting at the 17:30 mark.
London Grammar Guest Mix for Annie Nightingale ( @ 3:27 – 8:05 )
Up-and-coming band London Grammar pleasantly surprised me with how well they complemented their own music with a myriad of electronic sounds. The section starting at the 3:27 mark shows this best: Bobby Tanks’ maximalist “The Way” sounds like it could be a proper remix for London Grammar’s “Metal & Dust.”
KiNK’s authentic, distinct and raw sound really shines throughout this set. Some of his new music is scattered throughout the mix and my intuition tells me that these two tracks in the marked sections are some of his unreleased material. The latter track is so special that I can remember exactly what I was doing when I first heard it.
Roman Flügel – Not So Silent (@ 17:40 – 28:40)
I generally enjoy Roman Flügel because he’s good at juggling a variety of sounds in his body of work while staying cohesive. I’m not sure what these songs are in this 11-minute section (please help me out, readers!) but I love how the abrasive noises are so well balanced with warm melodies, which is not always perfectly achieved in techno.
Four Tet Live in Tokyo
This whole set is stunning but it’s the extended intro of “Ba Teaches Yoga” that was most profound for me. The first six minutes of this live set feel like 20 minutes and I mean that as a compliment. It’s quite reminiscent of Orbital’s “Halcyon + On + On” in the sense that both tracks have a gentle depth in which you can lose yourself for days.
Some artists were upfront with the aliases they unveiled or popularized in 2013, such as Paul Woolford’s Special Request project and his fantastic Soul Music album on Houndstooth, while vocalist Ben Westbeech’s Breach project gained an immense amount of attention this year with several of his tunes reaching near mainstream attention. Some producers try to keep an air of mystery about them, however, such as Akkord; yet once their album on Houndstooth was being promoted it was confirmed to be the project of established producers Synkro and Indigo. Drum’n'bass and dubstep producer Icicle released a dark techno EP as Cadans, with promise of more material in 2014, dBridge explored techno tempos as Velvit, and Marcus Intalex had a banner year with techno and house releases as Trevino. The Multiverse producer once known as Baobinga made waves at 170 BPM as Sam Binga, and continued his slow house work as part of Behling & Simpson, while Behling paired up with Bristol artist Wedge to form Lrusse & Bleecker. Leon Vynehall and A1 Bassline launched the excellent Laszlo Dancehall project. Rebranding to signify a change in ethos saw Dave Spoon’s change from electro house to his more bass-oriented Shadow Child moniker, and DJG going from mostly dubstep to working as Grenier and exploring a much wider range of palettes and sounds were also fantastic examples of the benefits of working under an alias. And these are just the projects I can remember off the top of my head.
Will – Top 25 Tracks of the Year
Medlar “Knockard Pearl” (Detroit Swindle Mix)
Mind Against “Atlant”
Route 94 feat. Jess Glynne “My Love”
Tale of Us “Another Earth”
Phil Kieran “Saturdays” (Catz ‘n Dogz Remix)
Shadow Child feat. Takura “Friday” (MK Medicine Dub)
Jimmy Edgar “Strike”
Chvrches “The Mother We Share” (Moonboots Remix)
Ten Walls “Gotham”
Mano Le Tough “Everything You’ve Done Before” (Dixon Remix)
Tiga vs. Audion “Let’s Go Dancing”
Kardinal “Desperate Monday” (WHYT NOYZ Remix)
Waze & Odyssey “Feelin’ You”
KMFH “Dr. Crunch”
Jon Hopkins “Abandon Window”
Beautiful Swimmers “Running Over”
Walker & Royce feat. Louisahhh!!! “A Perfect Sound”
Nora En Pure “Come With Me”
Maxmillion Dunbar “Loving The Drift”
Daniel Avery “Water Jump”