New World Order: Steph Kretowicz on Traxman’s <i>Teklife Vol. 3: The Architek</i>

Footwork gestated in its native Chicago for over 15 years before the rest of the world caught on. Now, it’s stage is global, and Traxman knows it, says Steph Kretowicz.

 

Cornelius Ferguson, otherwise known as footwork producer Traxman, trades on disparity. That’s not to say that his output is inconsistent but rather that in his extensive, though mostly obscure, catalog, contrasting elements are key. Take “Hold It”, from his latest Tek Life Vol 3.: The Architek LP, as an example: an erratic syncopated beat runs over a refrain of Bernard Hermann’s Psycho theme as a split-second vocal loop instructs its audience to “listen.” Not only does it pull you through a violent undertow of aural stimuli but it also finds a context outside of footwork and juke’s original, highly regional, birthplace of Chicago. Here, it’s not so much a call and response interaction between a producer and his ‘footworkers’ (or dancers)—where complex, barely graspable rhythms work with and against physical movement, samples sliced and shattered as bodies curl and contort over an arrhythmic kick drum, its clipped resonance recalling the style’s origins through ghetto house and juke. Instead, Traxman is making music for the mind that is conscious of its global stage.

30-plus years a DJ, 25 of those a producer and releasing only his second international record under his own moniker, Traxman—a father of four who has personally witnessed and experienced the history of the fiercely independent Chicago house scene into its footwork fracture—shares an omnivorous appetite for sampling with a trend that is at least partly responsible for footwork’s relatively recent surge in international popularity. Except that Traxman has been working in music since his ’90s ghetto house days with other Ghetto Teknitianz DJs Spinn and Rashad (each responsible for the two previous Teklife volumes and featured on The Architek), referring to his methodically ordered vinyl haul—reportedly spanning not only rooms but houses—with the ear of a jazz fanatic, while recognizing this new borderless platform for footwork beyond the school halls and shop fronts of its Chi roots. Keeping, as he says, “one foot international and one foot in your neighbourhood,” tracks like the uncommonly reflective album-opener, the Eastern-influenced “Buddha Muzik”, plus “Japan” and “We Can Go Anywhere” point to Traxman’s footwork-gone-global in their typically nervous fits of tumbledown musical assemblages. Same for the Michael Jackson-sampling eeriness of “Killing Fields”, where the late king of pop’s “Earth Song” is chopped and screwed to sound uncannily like a pitched version of Brandy’s “What About Us?” over the rumbling of a heavy bassline; a pop song’s bleak message recognized and reinterpreted within a new, dark and deep, context. Then it’s the futuristic synth delay and uncommonly regular beat of the hedonistic “2200 Acid”, before the nutty layering of pops, beats and glitches ends The Architek on an ever-optimistic note; a creative temperament of continual progress summed up in the title, “The Best is Yet to Come”. ~

 

Traxman’s Teklife Vol. 3: The Architek is out now on Lit City Trax

Continue Reading

Welcome to JabbaLand: An interview with Lil Jabba

The Teklife, Australian-born, Brooklyn-based footwork producer and painter creates a new world of psychedelic shades for the frenetic dance genre, finds Daniel Jones.

 

It’s not often you feel the urge to use words like ‘luscious’ when listening to the frequently skeletal genre known as footwork, but then there’s nothing typical about Alexander Shaw… or his alter-ego Lil Jabba. Though an affiliate of Chicago’s celebrated Teklife crew (representing DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn, among others), the Australia-born producer’s work more closely resembles a strange and artistic neighbor of juke—liquid and spiritual where the latter is sparse, militant. There’s an organic flavor to Shaw’s work that speaks of his love of nature as well as his passion for painting. At a time where so much music tries to be post- and future, primitive languages sometimes feel fresher than anything else.

After two years of digital releases and limited cassette singles, Shaw has finally released his first full-length Scales. Comprised of previously released and newly remastered material as well as several new tracks, it’s a trippy, frantic yet oftentimes meditative collection that, despite the stretches of time between each track’s release, feels perfectly coherent as a whole. Electronic Beats wanted to find out more about Jabba’s primal world of sound, so we got in touch with the Brooklyn-based Shaw and he shared his story—all while continuing to mix new beats.

 

It feels like the tracks on Scales evoke nature in a very reverent way, like a mythical soundtrack. Is there a story behind the album as a whole?

It’s the soundtrack of a myth that’s taken years to form; it’s my myth, and it’s a journey. If you listen carefully you can kind of guess the order in which the tracks were created. I’m proud of my growth over time and I was very excited for Local Action to release a sort of Jabbian epic, an album that describes me throughout the past few years
.

Many of the tracks have a very organic feel, meatier compared to the skeletal structures of a lot of footwork music. What non-musical influences did you draw from? 











I spend an enormous amount of time in my studio, which acts as my spiritual center, I paint in there as well as make tracks. So I’d say my paintings influence my music greatly and vice versa. I love murky sounds so the cavern and the swamp are influential for their sound quality and their semblance to my studio.

There’s a lot of musique concrète and psychedelic vibes in your work as well. Do you see more cross-genre permutations happening in the tek scene?

There are some new changes in style that I am excited to see develop. Stylistically, footwork evolves very rapidly. You see a lot of drum and bass breaks permeating into the tracks these days, and more interesting synths.

You mentioned spirituality. I know you have a lot of interest in churches because you’re always posting Facebook photos of sculptures and art from the Renaissance period. Are you spiritual/religious at all, or is that more an aesthetic influence?

I’m definitely spiritual, but it’s more about the connection humans have to each other, the synergy. I’m not really concerned about a higher power, but I am a firm believer in Nature’s power and reason. I’m a big fan of gothic architecture, though.

Have you ever painted something to go with a song, or vice-versa?

Definitely. In fact, my senior thesis show featured a 12-minute soundtrack that I composed in response to three paintings I had in the show. I do want to make an album that’s completely based around a painting or multiple paintings with a print available. My newer paintings are better for that type of multimedia. I want to do an exhibition where I break it all down and create a totally immersive world: paintings, music, sculpture, plant life, jungle mist and everything.

Like an installation/live show?

Exactly. JabbaLand.

So all the art you post, is that in a similar style to your own paintings?

Right now I’ve moved away from really baroque narrative paintings to a more subdued, abstract, rich approach. Right now I’m working on a series of three 9’x6′ paintings. The one I’m most fond of depicts a kind of psychedelic jungle, a few figures (along with a million hallucinogenic faces and critters) stand amongst the brush, canopy light seeps in and lights them, a wooden fetish doll alien is the centerpiece in it. They’re all painted in a stricter color palette too, nearly pure red, pure green and pure yellow respectively. Rasta, mon!

Are you into Rastafarianism?

No, it’s just a pleasant coincidence. I’m very into Jamaican music, though. I’ve been a big rock steady head for a long time.

Is that what you listen to when you paint?

To be honest it’s mostly silent, but I love painting to Gunplay, Gucci Mane, Oval, and Roedelius.

Have you done production for anyone other than yourself?

I’m hesitant to do remixes or anything but I’ve made a few rap beats for some of my friends in the neighborhood.

Are vocals something you’d want to work more with?

I want to work with vocalists, and I’ve got some new work that hopefully will have some interesting vocalists on board. I’m more of a composer myself rather than a vocalist or performer, mainly.

You definitely have a unique style among footwork composers; looser, more intricate and meditative.

I try to make a very evocative environment to surround my melodies. My work rate is different. I guess I just dwell on the little details these days, and thus everything is going a bit slower production-wise.

How many layers are in an average Jabba track?

As many bats as a cave has. This track I’m working on called “GroTTo AnTheM” has at least 45 instruments in it. Matter of fact, I’ve been sitting here working on this sucker for almost 14 hours, and I haven’t eaten since lunch yesterday.

Does this kind of restriction sharpen your work?

Practice makes perfect!

So will JabbaLand be a reality soon? Are you going on tour?

Honestly I don’t have time right now, but I really want to tour. Maybe in a few months, though. I have a few secret projects I need to finish first!~

 

Lil Jabba’s Scales is out now via Local Action

Continue Reading

Chi-Life: An interview with DJ Rashad

The  juke and footwork scenes gestated in Chicago for over 15 years before the rest of the world caught on. We speak with one of its most well-known proponents about coming up Teklife. 

 

Rashad Harden, aka DJ Rashad, first began DJing at the age of 12 in his native city of Chicago, also emerging as a footwork dancer in the early ’90s during the city’s ghetto house and juke era. While the terms ‘footwork’ and ‘juke’ are closely related and regularly confused, the former’s seemingly broken syncopation not only distinguishes it, but also makes for more rhythmic choices for the footworkers to dance to. Since then, Rashad and his regular partner-in-crime DJ Spinn—together the two are responsible for the Ghettoteknitianz and Teklife crews—have been leading producers and DJs of the footwork scene, especially since Mike Paradinas’ Planet Mu label exposed this highly localized music to the rest of the world in 2010. Rashad’s new I Don’t Give A Fuck EP, his second for Hyperdub Records, is released today.

 

 

Really I wanted to talk to you about Chicago. I remember you and Spinn told me that you both came up as dancers. I also remember that you had said that you started DJing when you were 12 or something.

Yes, correct. I was dancing—that was the thing, it was like basketball, football, skating or anything else. It was something everybody did, especially when you were younger. You might have grew out of it once you got to junior in high school, or you kept going. I just loved to dance, and that’s how I met Spinn and everybody else. Then I was like, “I want to DJ the music.” A lot of DJs back then didn’t take me seriously because of the dancing. DJing back then was really serious: if you didn’t DJ on Technics 1200s, if you didn’t have records, you weren’t considered a DJ. Versus now, you could just be on the internet, say you’re a DJ, and there you are. You really had to prove yourself back then, it was really competitive. So, I gave up the dancing and went straight for DJing, concentrated on that. Dancing was more an outlet for me just to have fun, get girls [laughs].

How old do you think you were when you started producing?

My first song I produced, I might have been 13 or 14. It wasn’t that great, of course. I saved up for a little drum machine and a little sampler, and from there we just kept going. Saving and saving, meeting other people that was on the same thing that me and Spinn was on. We just kept going with it.

We’ve talked about the vocal samples, how hypnotic they are, the way they’re chopped and looped. But you guys don’t just sample, I love that you guys actually record yourselves rapping the catchphrases.

That and try to play the instruments, too. But in ghetto house music, pretty much a lot of house music back in the day, it would be the DJ talking on the track. And that kind of made it unique to us. We were like, “Damn, you can make your own shit and say whatever you want?” Versus, buying records and playing what you get. That was part of the excitement for me and Spinn and everybody, just to make our own exclusive shit and put our name on it and say what we want, how we feel, or this is what we want to do. That was one of the perks about it. I think it’s kind of like a tradition—if you will—in Chicago.

When you say that, it makes me remember that those Phuture tracks, those were their own vocals.

Right!

Obviously, it comes from the house and techno tradition, but the other thing about footwork and juke both is it’s really hip-hop, too. There’s a lot of rap influence. Can you guys rap?

I can’t personally, but Spinn raps. Manny tries to rap.

Spinn I could get a sense that maybe he could actually do it. Are there any tracks where there’s actual verses?

Yeah, there is. Nothing that’s out, just some stuff we got. We tell him all the time, “You should rap over the track.” He used to rap—he would make both house and rap beats, and he had a couple guys in a group.

Let’s go back to talking about the early days, because dancing is competitive.

Yeah, it was. It didn’t have to be, but the groups that we were in, we were in competitive groups. That was our thing, we’d just go battle people all over Chicago-land or Indiana.

How’d you do?

I think we did alright! [laughs] I felt comfortable to where I could quit dancing; I felt like I accomplished everything in dancing, as far as battling-wise, and certain dancers from certain parts of the city. So I felt comfortable enough to say, “I think I did enough, I can move on.” But I’ve heard we were good.

What was the name of your dance crew?

The first one was House-O-Matics, and then after that Wolf Pack—we called ourselves Wolf Pack because we tried to eat everybody up.

But House-O-Matics were an established group, right?

Yeah! House-O-Matics were the best group in Chicago at the time; not only did they perform, but they battled as well. We just wanted to do the battling part. We liked the performing, but it requires routines, uniforms, shit like that. I think we thought we were too cool for that at the time.

How old were you when you joined House-o-Matics?

Probably like 16. That was like a goal for us, to become House-o-Matics. You had to be good to get in that group. Technically, you lose a lot when you first start battling. But that’s how you get better—by battling people that are good. and then you catch on, and when you catch on you come back. So after we got in House-o-Matics, I felt like we were accomplished. I’m in this group, I was trying to DJ as well. People were like, “Aw, y’all dancers,” and didn’t take us seriously because of that.

So there’s this hierarchy in the scene? And the producers and DJs are probably at the top of it?

Yeah, definitely. They were at the top of it. And then, since we were dancers, the promoters just thought we were trying to get in the party for free, until they heard us mix. Then it was like, “Oh, okay. You alright, kid.” Yeah, people didn’t take me seriously until I quit dancing, period, and was just DJing.

But the DJing wasn’t competitive like the dancing was?

Yeah, it’s just as competitive, there were DJ battles going on as well.

Like mixing battles? What would the competitions be?

It would be like whose selections were better, the style—whether it was sloppy or neat.

How long would they play for?

Maybe 30 minutes. Or at the parties, they had battles and they’d just go back to back.

Like how dancehall sound systems would do?

Yeah. Everything was competitive. I don’t know if that’s just Chicago or how it is, but how we grew up, everything was in the dancing and DJing game. I think music as well, some music, too. I knew people that was in bands, to win money or whatever.

That’s true, there’s always battle of the bands. But when you talk about battling, the first thing that comes up is rap, because MC battles are famous. Those are the ones that are the most famous to anyone outside of these scenes. For house music, I’ve never heard of there being DJ battles. There’s definitely back to back, but it’s less of a competition.

I can’t say it was an every week thing, but it came up a lot. Especially where we were coming from, definitely. You had to prove that you were the shit, or could be the shit, or were attempting to try to be shit. [laughs] Back then it was harder for us. You had to carry eight crates of records; now we got Serato. If you wasn’t a DJ back then and you are now, I don’t think you understand the struggle and the dedication you had to have to become a DJ and be a DJ.

And I’ve seen you multiple times, and you can actually cut. It’s rough, because it’s such a fast tempo, but no one does that in house music. That’s a rap thing.

Yeah, but there’s people that do it in ghetto tech. A lot of Detroit people, I remember the first time I went to Detroit, I heard the radio station, and I was like, “What the fuck?” They were scratching their ass off to 170 shit, like jungle style. I was probably around 21 at the time.

DJ Craze used to do that.

Craze, Godfather.

Godfather has always been like that. Actually, I know that you’re tight with Godfather, so I guess quite a lot of your sound is really informed by Detroit.

Yeah, maybe I got the scratching from them as well. Chicago did it, but not like how I heard them in Detroit doing it. Every DJ was doing it, it was like DJ shit, official. That shit was serious, and back then, if you weren’t doing it you weren’t really a DJ. I guess we got a little bit of this and that from everywhere we’ve been, so we took it and rolled with it.

[Footwork] used to be a local concern for the most part—regional maybe, but local. And now it’s kind of worldwide.

Yeah, there’s a huge scene in Japan right now. Traxman and AG went out there not too long ago and there’s people footworking.

How does that kind of success change the local scene in Chicago?

Chicago right now is really fucked up. No jobs, a lot of shit’s going on, people are getting killed. The police have been shutting down everything. There’s parties, but not how it used to be say five, ten, 15 years ago. Due to the violence, a lot of shit gets closed and shut, so there’s really not shit to do because of that. But the shit that is going on, is going on but it could be better. But the bullshit, the police not wanting people to get together and have shit because they’re afraid something’s going to happen… Which could happen, but not in every case, they look at it like that for everything.

Are there young footwork producers out there who are trying to come up?

Yeah, there definitely is. And I think they will come up as well. I don’t think the what’s going on in Chicago will stop them; I think that motivates them even more to push to do something with themselves.

And the dancers?

Yeah, the dancers as well. I’ve even seen old dancers coming back.

Is it still the same people doing it, or is it starting to open up to white kids from the other side of town?

White kids already knew about it. Some white kids was already footworking as well. As far as Chicago, footworking is not new, so everybody knows about it. Even the white kids.

If they’re hip?

I don’t know if you gotta be hip. But all my friends that weren’t black knew what footworking was. Before we were even in high school, footworking wasn’t footwork, but everybody knew how to dance. [laughs].

I’m trying to see exactly how big footwork is in Chicago. Is it just normal, is it practically mainstream or is it still some sort of subculture?

It’s a subculture, I think.

But house is big.

Yeah, I’m thinking about the radio stations. If you hear house at certain times on a radio station, and you might hear footwork for only an hour or 30 or 15 minutes. But they don’t really showcase house or footwork because it’s about Top 40 shit. When I go to every state, I listen to the radio to see what they play, for the most part they’re rotating the same shit everywhere.

That’s because one company owns most of the radio stations in America right now.

A couple of years ago, I’d go to Detroit or Indiana or wherever and the radio stations would be just like Chicago. There’d be some kind of techno or house on Friday night all the way to Sunday. Juke and footwork never got to be mainstream, it hit the radio for a minute, but everybody knows what it is. If you go to the club, you’re going to hear it in the club, you’re going to hear it on the street. But the radio never supported that shit. But back in the day, especially house, they had WBMX, where they played house damn near all night, all day.

The rap today, for me, is different too. I like a lot of rappers who come out, but I just feel like some rappers or some songs don’t mean shit versus hip-hop we used to listen to that had a meaning. Or even the shit from the West Coast at the time, the gangsta rap shit, there was still a meaning. Today, they’re just [imitates syncopated wordless sounds], but the beat be good, so you just roll with it. [laughs] I’m glad I came up in the ’80s, ’90s because today, shit is different. I feel like I’m blessed to be coming from other times besides now, today, I feel like I learned a lot; it affects me, my life, and my music that I make today. I don’t know if I would’ve come up in this generation. You never know.

Are you saying is it’s down to the hard work aspect of it?

Not even that. I’m just saying that music was a big inspiration to me, period. And maybe if I’m coming up today, some of the music that I’m hearing probably wouldn’t have motivated me to do the same shit that I’ve done. I might not have been a dancer because none of that shit was on the radio like it used to be. But work, too, dedication. But I’m not saying that the guys today aren’t working just as hard, it’s just different.

That’s a good way to look at, because I think a lot people think that DJs today have it a lot easier.

They do. That’s why I know, because I came from the competitive, and I had to learn on my own. Versus Serato, today, it shows you the waves, you can just match the waves. It’s better, you can take advantage of the situation, but it also can affect your DJ skills. Or today, some people don’t even DJ, but they play pre-recorded mixes. And people are fine with that, and I’m fine with it, but you couldn’t do that when you were a DJ coming up in my time. You’d just get dissed from every DJ. You wouldn’t be respected, but today the DJ scene is a little different. To each his own—if it works for you, it works for me.~

 

DJ Rashad’s I Don’t Give A Fuck EP is out today via Hyperdub. You can read about some of his favorite spots discovered while on tour here

Continue Reading

Raw Solutions: an interview with Slava

The Moscow-born, New York-based, footwork-influenced producer signed to Oneohtrix Point Never’s Software label isn’t afraid to point out the thread of pop misogyny linking East and West.

Steph Kretowicz hears Slava’s raw solutions. 

 

According to Slava Balasanov, there’s more than one Russian pop star who appears in their music video “totally naked.” Compared with the US, where pop icons are generally barely-clothed, there isn’t much of a distinction in intent. That’s something the Moscow-born, New York-based DJ, producer, graphic artist, and programmer—going by the mononym Slava—explores in his latest Software release Raw Solutions.

He may not be very ‘verbal’ by his own account, but it’s in dissecting and recombining the hidden perversities of Western popular culture that Slava’s scattered and syncopated beats, informed by Chicago footwork, are taken to harder, more debauched levels. From the Britney Spears monologue of “Slave 4 U” to the distorted, jackhammer repetition that sees the phrase “all day” morph into “all gay”, Slava identifies and enhances the unsettling undertones of these chart-topping tropes and shows us what they’re really saying.

Most explicitly, there’s “Girls on Dick”, featuring an aggressive loop iterating its title over a palpitating bass, the track echoes the downtempo mincing of Tyga’s “Snapback Back” by Tri Angle affiliate Evian Christ. That comparison is probably one of the reasons Slava has been associated with the label’s unwelcome ‘witch house’ tag in the past, while also appearing on a #seapunk compilation with equally dissimilar artists, Le1f and Unicorn Kid. Most recently grouped (perhaps misguidedly) with Kingdom’s Fade to Mind label in a 2012 Unsound Festival appearance, alongside Fatima Al Qadiri and Nguzunguzu, it’s a comparison that Balasanov understands through their shared interest in DJ deconstructionism but rejects with a much harder, darker production sound, illustrated by the zipper/skin fetish motif of his album art and intensified by his rejection of computer software during recording.

Stripping his sound from the more refined decadence of his previous Soft Control EP to a core of primal insinct, Slava’s Raw Solutions is probably best suited to a release on Oneohtrix Point Never‘s Software label for the mere fact it doesn’t fit anywhere else. A giddy but always frustrated drive to death, the record reflects a polarized East-meets-West upbringing that harnesses those cultures’ shared depravities in order to corrupt and ultimately liberate its listener.

 

 

The way I interpreted Raw Solutions is this fascination with American popular culture, that obsession with its hidden darkness.

Yeah, here it’s mixed in with this fun, glossy bubble gum wrapper, where in Russia it’s like all the nastiness is just out in the open. Even in the way that the government operates, it’s just very open cynicism. No one tries to pretend that things are good, or comfortable, or easy. That’s what I found so fascinating about America when I moved here, because there is this image of all these bright colors and this really sexy effect of marketing, but then there’s still all this darkness underneath. The juxtaposition of those two things is really fascinating and a big contrast to Russian culture, where there is nothing glossy about it.

Do you think part of your role as an artist is investigating and magnifying these hidden currents?

I don’t feel like it’s my role to do it as much as it’s something that I’m fascinated by, uncovering these layers. I think, in general, what I’m interested in is this cynical decadence and the different shapes and forms that it could possibly take. Especially in music, it’s such a rich subject. Both culturally and emotionally, music is the ultimate medium for expressing all these very rich, complex emotions. So exploring these subjects through it is what is important to me and what drives me to make it.

On that Coral Records #Seapunk Vol. 1 compilation, you sample Britney Spears, then again on your Soft Control EP and then in “Doit” and “I Know” on Raw Solutions. What’s your connection to her?

There’s a lot. Just the sample in itself is really amazing because it’s a little monologue at the beginning of “I’m a Slave 4 U”, and if you take every phrase it’s so strong on its own. If you cut it out, it’s like a self-contained object. It’s always been a problem with my mix samples, where the trickiest part is finding one that says more than just the literal words.

I’m interested in the way you use language in your music. Where you pick a tiny phrase, word, or sound and manipulate its intention.

Yeah, sometimes, once a phrase is looped and it’s an English phrase, I’ll start hearing Russian in it or I’ll start hearing something else. I’m fascinated how, through this repetition, a phrase can become transformed and become something else and begin to embody all these different associations. It starts to break down into distinct sounds and your brain begins to recombine these sounds into new meaning. That’s always been really exciting for me.

Since you moved here from Russia at 12 and have an outsider’s perspective, do you think that, considering her history to this point, that Britney Spears represents the cracked American dream, in a way?

Oh yeah, totally, this glamorous decadence that spirals out of control and ends up in these episodes of insanity and chaos. It’s kind of a beautiful, exciting thing to be able to see that.

In seeing you perform live, I’ve felt parallels with the virility of drum n bass culture. It’s a certain abandon in this really macho, heavy dance music. Do you feel that energy in your own production and do you see that as filtering through from your Russian history?

Oh yeah, definitely. I feel like, even house music, as positive as it can be, has these really dark undertones. It’s true of a lot of music in general, like hearing a song that makes you want to cry. It’s probably the most beautiful, intense experience and the fact of music having the power to convey these things is amazing; all this emotional information coded in these little segments of time that are so transparent, so communicative. There’s definitely that emotion, the feeling of darkness, but then that’s also transformed into energy. It’s something that doesn’t bring you down but makes you want to move, and makes you want to release these emotions.

That’s definitely what drum n bass does and, in a way, that’s also in Russian culture. This dark, negative cynicism can be life-affirming through humor, through irony… It’s kind of a way to deal with negativity in life, in general. Not denying but accepting it, and digesting it and transforming it into energy that you can use to do constructive things.

I wasn’t going to mention this because I initially figured there wasn’t much of a concept behind Raw Solutions because, as you say, your music is informed by your DJ sets but I’ve noticed a lot of misogynistic elements in the phrases you’ve chosen for the tracks. Is that conscious?

Yeah, it is conscious and, in a way, it’s almost such a huge element of pop culture that I feel like it can’t be ignored. I’m not trying to criticize or promote it, but it’s a part of the language of music, especially hip-hop music and a lot of pop music. In that sense, in my live performance and in the music I play, it’s an interpretation and rearrangement of existing pop music and culture.

That’s why all those things are there and, surprisingly, they’re the most effective elements. People go crazy. I think it’s because they’re, in some ways, I don’t want to say subversive, but they’re ‘edgy’. I feel like lots of people identify with those kinds of things, in different kinds of ways. Well, not ‘identify’ but respond to and think about. So, I feel like it brings out a lot of energy and a lot of emotion in people and being able to channel that is important.

Have you identified a similar thread running through Russian popular culture?

Oh yeah, of course. The exciting thing is; there’s this pop star called Katya Sambuca. She’s like a porn-slash-pop star. She’s very pop and mainstream, so it’s really interesting because, there, it’s taken to a whole other level, where it’s more blatant and more crazy and insane.

Then, I guess, the most disconcerting aspect of this conversation is that we’ve established Russians and Americans might have a completely different cultural disposition but the attitude towards misogyny is the same.

[Laughs] Right.~

 

Slava’s Raw Solutions is out now via Software. 

Continue Reading

On Tour With DJ Rashad

 

In our new regular feature, we ask artists and musicians, whose work entails traveling the world, about some of the favorite places they’ve discovered. 

Rashad Harden, aka DJ Rashad, first began DJing at the age of 12 in his native city of Chicago, also emerging as a footwork dancer in the early ’90s during the city’s ghetto house and juke era. While the terms ‘footwork’ and ‘juke’ are closely related and regularly confused, the former’s seemingly broken syncopation not only distinguishes it, but also makes for more rhythmic choices for the footworkers to dance to. Since then, Rashad been one of the leading producers of the footwork scene ever since Mike ParadinasPlanet Mu label exposed it to the rest of the world in 2010. His new Rollin EP, released on March 18th via Hyperdub Records, is more evidence of that stature. He starts his next tour today in Edinburgh, followed by a release party on Friday at London’s Fabric nightclub. (As you will see, London is one of his favorite cities in the world, which may or may not have something to do with how it was one of the first places outside of Chicago to wholeheartedly embrace footwork.) He hits Berlin’s Festaal Kreuzberg on March 22nd.

 

Favorite restaurant:
Nando’s – Liverpool Street in London
It’s a popular tourist spot. It has a name recognition like the USA’s McDonalds, (no comparison in the menus). I get the chicken, marinated in Peri-Peri sauce; although it is different from ‘down home’ cooking, it is quite tasty and it is chicken like I have never had it before.

Favorite shop:
Nike Town – London
I frequent the Nike Town in Chicago, so I wanted to see how the one in London compared. It’s competitive to ours and the backdrop celebrates competition and achievements in sports all over the world. Pretty amazing!

Favorite venue:
Corsica Studios – London
It was on my to do list in London, of course, because of my music. The location is awesome between the two railway arches and the sound system is a phenomenon in itself. Its atmosphere inspires creativity and it is energizing.

Favorite tourist attraction:
Stonehenge – Wiltshire, England
I had read about the legendary Stonehenge, so I was thrilled when Tim and Barry, Spinn and I got the opportunity to film a video there. It was cryptic; how did they carry the stones without any real tools? It was so amazing, so peaceful and surrounded by mystery. I felt a real connection there and I will never forget it.~

Catch DJ Rashad at one of the following dates:
07/03 Thursday UK Edinburgh @ Sneaky Pete’s
08/03 Friday UK London @ Fabric
09/03 Saturday France Paris @ Social Club
14/03 Thursday Spain Barcelona @ Razzmatazz
15/03 Friday Norway Oslo @ Dattera til Hagen
16/03 Saturday Switzerland Zurich @ Longstreet Bar [House Of Mixed Emotions]
20/03 Wednesday UK Bristol @ Bank
21/03 Thursday Austria Vienna @ Titanic
22/03 Friday Germany Berlin @ Festsaal Kreuzberg
23/03 Saturday Switzerland, Leysin @ Worldwide Festival

Continue Reading