Awkward Moments with More Or Less

This Friday night DC will host our techno neighbors from the north for Awkward Moments at Backbar with Ian Funk, Craig Sopo and love/hate at the commands. Don’t miss this one, folks. These fellas have great taste in music.

Since we were so excited about having our Baltimore bretheren in town, Mr. Sopo was kind enough to put together an exclusive promo mix for us which includes a few of his original productions. Here’s what he had to say about the mix:

“I always try to test out the new tracks. “Brahaus” and “Agent of Bro – Lentini Mix” are both on my next release, which is due out in early 2012. As a whole, this release is my strongest to date. My DJ sets can range from classic 80’s Detroit Techno labels like Metroplex to 90’s blippy minimal like Accelerate/Communique, to more bass heavy ghettotech stylings and Acid House. So I suppose I have one ear firmly planted in the pre-digital “crate-digging” days with the other squarely in the digital realm. I also like to take risks with my DJ sets, I can’t stand letting every track play out, as it can get too mundane for the listener.”

Craig Sopo presents The Awkward Moments Mix by Blisspop

We also got the chance to chat with Craig and his More Or Less label partner Patrick Brander about the state of techno in Baltimore, starting their own label and what they’ve been listening to lately…

So as the story goes you’re both from Michigan. How’d you end up throwing events together in Baltimore?

Patrick: Craig randomly handed me a CD outside of DEMF (Detroit Electronic Music Festival, now known as Movement) in ‘03 maybe? I booked him for a few gigs on The Mechanical Pulse, the electronic music radio show in college at 88.9 FM in East Lansing. We both ended up in Baltimore by the summer of ‘06 for work. After a couple of months of being deprived of good music (I think DC was still in the “ubercolische minimal teshno” phase and Baltimore was stuck in this “book a party like it’s 1996 rave scene” phase), I decided to start up a monthly event at some dive bar/club with a friend. We played everything from Kraftwerk and Alter Ego to Kenny Dixon Jr and Plastikman. Eventually Craig became more involved after guest DJ’ing a couple of times and the rest is, as they say, history.

Craig: Well said.

How would you describe the current state of the techno (and more generally, electronic) scene in Baltimore these days? Are there particularly positive elements? And negatives?

Craig: Seems to be a tad dis-jointed. Techno has always seemed to play 2nd or 3rd fiddle in Baltimore, compared to house music and Bmore club music. Our hope is the MOL parties & label has injected a little bit of techno consistency.

Patrick: I feel that there are too many nights that have 10 DJs playing 45 minute or hour long sets of varied material. Techno needs hours of cajoling to unravel and get under your skin. Nobody gets a chance to take you on a journey around here, kinda sad really. We are known perpetrators of the hour long set nights, but I would like to go forth and have people we respect play 2 or more hours. After all we are just musical curators who like to party.

Craig: Pat’s response was better. Sigh.

For someone from, say, DC or Philly who doesn’t get to Baltimore very often what would you recommend checking out in the city? Any DJs, venues or promoters who are throwing parties that stand out in your opinion?

Patrick: My favorite party in the city is a monthly at the Wind Up Space called 4 Hours of Funk. People from all backgrounds sweat it out to funk, disco and house tunes. There’s also another monthly at Sticky Rice in Fell’s Point called Sonic Butter. They play dope music and there are females in attendance. As always there are sporadic warehouse events almost every weekend at longstanding or fly by night venues, so you kinda have to know someone to find out where they are. My favorite DJs are my music snob friends, plus I don’t really get out much. If you want techno and house in a laid back punk bar environs then I suggest heading to Kowli at the Ottobar every 2nd and 4th Thursday.

Craig: Pat’s on a roll.

Tell us a little about More Or Less the label. What was the impetus for starting your own label? Any releases coming up that you’re particuarly excited about?

Craig: There wasn’t a grandiose plan, per se. Pat had been running the monthlies under the same name for awhile, and it seemed to be a logical extension. Also, right around the same time, I was getting more serious about producing and had a small group of tracks ready to contribute. During the first year as we were trying to build our discography, it became an inside joke of it being the “Craig Sopo More or Less show” (4 of the first 5 releases were mine). Thankfully we’ve started to fill out the roster with diverse and up-n-coming talent.

The releases with Slow Hands which came out earlier in 2011 have been our most well received to date. As far as future releases, our lucky #13 release just hit digital retailers this month (Timothy Dalton – Modern Thrift), my next release is slotted for early 2012 and we are in the beginning stages of planning our first vinyl release, which has been a goal of ours since day one.

Patrick: What he said. I also wanted to create an outlet for Baltimore techno producers and eventually it spawned into a network of friends and artists ranging from SF to Berlin. I would say Craig’s new release is his best to date with some killer remixes from Joe Lentini (Schematic), Jeremy Blake and one more artist I can’t really speak of yet as the details are being worked out.

In general, can you tell us about some stuff you’ve been digging in recent months – producers, labels, sounds, etc?

Craig: My teshno tastes are varied, so from a “Detroit Techno” standpoint I’m enjoying producers like Delano Smith and Alland Byallo lately. Also, the Beretta label in Detroit has upped their game. From a quirkier tech-house perspective, Ambivalent, Paco Osuna, Gaiser and Milton Jackson. Oh, and almost anything with a 303.

Patrick: I have been listening to more italo disco and acid recently. I never stopped but it has clogged up my playlist once again. Also anything poppy on Kompakt has been pretty awesome. I’m a sucker for melodic techno. Ostgut Ton is also pretty consistent with their releases, specifically Shed, Prosumer and Nick Hoppner.

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