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post Sep 15 2011, 11:58
Post #241

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Group: Senior Members
Posts: 6,079
Joined: 12-September 02
Member No.: 19

Padjelanta Saiva – Or how to run a festival just north of Polar Circle

Sweden is one long country. Driving from Malmö to the Northerst tip takes at least 24 hours and is about the same distance as to Madrid if you head south instead.

On august 18th – 21th a bunch of very creative people including myself organized what might be the first ever festival North of the Polar Circle. At least in Europe. To be more precise, we headed for the last utouched mountain outbacks of Northern Europe – about 120 km north of the city of Arjeplog.

The last 10km had to be covered by foot, climbing over a mountain pass, surrounded by giant bolders, shrubbery and rouge reindeers. A soundsystem as well as a coffeeshop was flewn in by a helicopter. We made a few mistakes but all in all created one very lovely and exotic mini-festival. From a DJ point, the most important thing was to be first to introduce house music (or any kind of music at all) to the majestic mountains of Laplandia.. After all no one has ever done it before us, ever.

What to bring:

JVC Sound system:

4 bass boxes
2 top speakers
CDj1000 X 2
Technics1210 X 3
Tables and flashlights
Total weight 400 kg

1 strobe
2 black ligts
2 moving heads
Total weight 100 kg

Vegetarian mince
Risotto rice
Cashew nits
Peanut butter
Huge frying pan
Mini reggae soundsystem
High-hat X 1

Arctic Air SE-HKK X 1
Lifting Capacity = 500 kg

Firewood – It gets cold by night, 400 kg
Mats and pillows for the chillout
Lots of tarp and rain cover


This post has been edited by eYe-reEs: Sep 15 2011, 11:58
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post Oct 6 2011, 09:56
Post #242

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Group: Senior Members
Posts: 6,079
Joined: 12-September 02
Member No.: 19

LWE Podcast 99: Juan Atkins

Forming part of the very bedrock of techno, Juan Atkins’ influence on the past thirty years of electronic music is truly immeasurable. His first musical venture, Cybotron, with Rick Davis birthed such classics as “Alleys of your Mind,” “Cosmic Cars” and “Clear,” records which laid the foundations for what would become Detroit techno. On his own as Model 500, Atkins surged forward with his particular vision of electro and techno, releasing further classics in “No UFO’s,” “Night Drive” and “Starlight” among others. Together with Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson the three were responsible not just for a dazzling array of records, labels and aliases, but for creating a movement, a culture, part of music history. There is not much to say that hasn’t already been said about these pioneers of techno, so instead LWE tracked down Atkins to talk about new Model 500 material, some of his early influences and the music that he created that has come to define electronic music. He also provided us with our exclusive 99th podcast, which shows that after thirty years he’s still a vital part of the scene he helped to create.

LWE Podcast 99: Juan Atkins (62:53)


01. Wehbba, “The Speech” (Samuel L. Session Remix) [Tronic]
02. Trevor Loveys, “Stay In Love” [Jack Union Records]
03. Lee Burridge, “Here’s Johnny” [Leftroom]
04. Smash TV, “World Wide Wet” [Leena Music]
05. John Selway, “Interplanetary Express” [Tronic]
06. Derek Plaslaiko, “Raw Jam” (Jonas Kopp Remix) [Perc Trax]
07. Room 10, “RM07.1″ (Pattrix Phiorio Remix) [Retrometro]
08. Marco Effe, “Zenheiser” [Break New Soil]
09. Carl Craig, “DJ-Kicks (The Track)” [Studio !K7]
10. Shlomi Aber, “Tap Order” [Ovum Recordings]
11. Internullo, “Taifas” (Alex Celler Dub) [Yellow Tail]
12. Shlomi Aber & DJ Sneak, “After Touch” (DJ Sneak Version) [Be As One]
13. Solid Gold Playaz, “Next Faze Of The Game” [Real Estate Records]
14. Skeet, “Come Back Raw” [Monaberry]

A lot, of course, has been written about your legend and the legend of techno, how it came about and everything, but for you personally, can you tell us a little bit about your sort of first brushes with music, perhaps some of the earlier stuff you remember hearing that made you want to be interested in music on a deeper level?

Juan Atkins: Well, I mean I’ve been interested in music probably ever since I’ve been born. I pretty much always knew that I wanted to make music or make a record, you know? I mean even from a very young age. I guess the first time it came very serious [was when] my father bought me an electric guitar for my 10th birthday, and it’s one of those with the built — I think it was a Slingerland — with the built-in amp to amp, and the guitar case was the same thing. You know, the amp was built into the guitar case. So I guess you could say that that would be the defining moment when I was getting serious about a career in music.

So who were the artists for you who made you want to be a guitarist?

Oh man, definitely from my whole music listening career there’s probably been Sly and The Family Stone and P-Funk. Sly and The Family Stone’s “Family Affair” was the first record that I ever bought with money out of my own pocket and going into the store myself. Before that my grandmother used to buy us The Jackson 5 Christmas albums. But I think probably Sly Stone and P-Funk, which [there are] a lot of similarities in those two acts.

I understand that when it came to getting into electronic stuff your first synth was a Korg MS-10. Was there a particular thing about that machine that made you want it? Had you heard it being used in records or anything like that?

No, I actually used to — there was a music store, a piano store called Grinnell’s, which is… actually my grandmother raised me from most of my young, younger pre-school era. And she had a Hammond B-3 organ, and she used to go into Grinnell’s and buy sheet music and get it serviced and everything at the store. And then this store had a back room for all the electronic keyboards, for the synthesizers that were just being introduced to the public at the time. I mean, man, this had to be, like, mid to early 70′s.


Yeah. I was, of course, a very young child at the time and she used to take me in there, and I would go back in to the back room and play around, and the synthesizers they had there were a Korg MS-10 and a Minimoog, and these were the first affordable synthesizers that were available to the general public. They were monophonic, you know, nothing fancy, but these were the first small synthesizers that were available to the youth I guess.

And so did you play around on that and it just sounded really cool so you wanted to get that one?

Yeah, we used to go in the store and play, that’s the one they had in the store, so eventually when I was able to get one that was the one I got.

Yeah, cool. So your first documented music was with Rick Davis as Cybotron, but had you been playing in bands before that?

No, that was my first real authentic move, I guess you could say. I mean anything else was just when guys in the neighborhood, we would get together and, during this time, it was playing in the garage in the neighborhood, playing in the garage was a big thing. So we didn’t play, we didn’t have any I guess you could say professional bookings or anything like that or recordings or anything. It was just messing around. So Cybotron was the first real group.

At that point in music, things were definitely band oriented, even if you were making electronic music like Cybotron or Kraftwerk or something. When did you start to realize that things could be entirely self sufficient and perhaps also completely instrumental?

Well, you know actually I started — my first demos were done by myself entirely. So I was always with the concept even though I wasn’t using any drums machines or sequencers, I was using methods that were enabling me to record my own fully, I guess, produced demo. And I would use the record — they had a record at the time called Drum Props, and it was basically just a rhythm track record with just different drum beats on it. Like a live drummer playing out different patterns on this record. It was maybe 10 to 12 different tracks with just drum beats on it. And I would play this record, into — I had two cassette decks and a little mixer, a little PA mixer, and I would play this record through the PA mixer and then record a bass line and drums on one cassette and then bounce it back to the other cassette and keep adding tracks onto it until I had a full track.


So I guess you could say that was my first “one-man band” situation.

Did you see that, at that stage, you know, as a viable sort of thing?

No, actually the reason why I did that [was] because I used to get this magazine called Songwriter Magazine. I don’t know if they’re still around, but they had a contest, every year they had a contest. This magazine would sponsor a contest, and if you won, you won some recording time and a record contract and blah blah blah. So I wanted to enter this contest, but I didn’t have any band members to play with so I had to make my own track to get into this contest. I mean I didn’t win, but at least I was able to enter.

That must have been really strange because nowadays, I know for myself personally and so many other people, have decided to start, you know, on a career in music, they’re influenced by what had come before them, and you’ve cited people like Funkadelic and Giorgio Moroder as helping to influence you. But in terms of actually making electronic music, there must have been very few people at the time where you were growing up who were doing it.

No, nobody in the neighborhood was doing electronic music. I don’t even think anybody owned a synthesizer. At this time, when these synthesizers came out, nobody really knew what to do. You had a couple of people like Rick Davis, who I met in college, that even knew what to do. The only people who had synthesizers, like you say, were Giorgio Moroder, Stevie Wonder, Bernie Worrell from P-Funk and he is who peaked most of my interest in it because of course it was part of P-Funk. But tracks like “Flash Light” and “One Nation Under a Groove” were almost totally electronic, you know?

Yeah, it must be so strange to have not had that help, in a way, of anyone showing you what to do. Nowadays you’ve got, you know, kids can go onto YouTube and see how to play the chords, even. They can see how to program, but I guess it was all complete discovery, wasn’t it?

Yeah, for sure.

And breaking all the rules.


I guess from the era, in terms of things being quite band oriented, it seems like you’ve always liked to keep that human element in your music, sort of through vocals, and you can always hear that funk in there.

Uh huh.

Is that important to you to, as far as you can take the machines to always still have a human element in your music?

I don’t think that it is so much as a conscious decision as opposed to, you know, more of a subconscious thing. I mean I think that for me, for making music, I like a lot of my personality to come out in the music, and that’s part of, I guess, the beauty or the fun of actually making tracks or making songs is to see how much of your subconscious thoughts or subconscious creativity can come out in your work. So you know, by me being human, I guess by default there’s going to be a human element to come out in the tracks. But what’s fun is to make these machines, I guess, more organic. But being electronic and still being technologically driven and organic all at the same time, there’s sort of an art to that. Yeah, I think that’s probably what makes Detroit music, myself and Detroit artists stand out. Because a lot of people here, a lot of the other artists, a lot of producers kind of took that as the standard. You know, so when you listen to a lot of next generation techno artists they kind of took cues from what we was doing when me and Kevin [Saunderson] and Derrick [May] and Eddie [Fowlkes] did it. And you know, I think that’s why Detroit still remains popular.

Were you producing first or were you DJing?

It probably all happened at the same time. I mean like I said, my father bought me an electric guitar for my 10th birthday, and I don’t even think mixing records was even conceived at that time. The closest thing that you had to that, I think, during that time was the DJ on the radio that could segue a record into another record. But actually matching beats — actually disco kind of kicked that thing off because of the disco, the four-on-the-floor thing made it very easy to match beats. And I think disco probably created the whole DJ culture.

So when you started doing stuff with Rick, were you playing records?

Yeah, I mean I heard, you know, the disco era came in and a lot of the radio stations changed their format to disco and then they brought — the first DJ that I heard on the radio, his name was Ken Collier, he’s deceased now. But he was on a station called, they called it Disco WDRQ, and he was their house mix DJ, and the first time I heard him blend records — I mean I think he blended something like “One Nation Under a Groove” with “I Just Want To Be” by Cameo, or something. And it was just like, ‘Hey man, I got to learn how to do that.’ But that wasn’t ’til, like, late ’70s, like ’79 or something like that.

Now while you were making music with Rick, were you sort of amassing more and more studio equipment of your own?

Yeah. I mean the first demos — like I said, I was doing these demos, and by this time I was just graduating from high school. And I went to a community college called Washtenaw Community College, and that’s where I met Rick Davis. Now Rick was what you call a quote unquote “electronic musician.” But he was very isolated, I guess you could say. I graduated in 1980 so this was, like, the latter part of 1980 when the funk to disco thing was still kind of huge. So we were still under the concept of, you know, the whole thing was when you were around other musicians [you'd say], ‘Hey let’s get together and have a jam session.’ That’s the only way that you could actually still make music.

A lot of people weren’t aware of trying to do things with drum tracks or doing tracks on their own, other than Rick Davis. So when we met he told me, ‘Yeah, I been doing tracks.’ He was very advanced, way more advanced than I was. He had a DR-55 rhythm composer, which was the first Roland drum machine. Also an MSQ-100 sequencer, it was like an early Roland sequencer. And these things, I didn’t know anything about. I read the back of Giorgio Moroder’s album covers, and I thought that you had to be a computer technician to do this stuff, you know? But Rick really broadened my horizons and introduced me to a lot of the equipment, and he had all of this gear. He had ARP Axxe, ARP Odyssey. He had these sequencers and drum machines, I mean when I walked into his room, he had all this stuff situated in his bedroom, and it was like walking into a spaceship. Because he was keepin’ it dark, he would keep his blinds closed. So all you could see was these LED lights. [laughs] And the way the ARP synthesizers worked, they had lights all the way across — that was the setup on the board. And they had lights just kind of on across this thing so it looked like an airplane cockpit or something. Yeah.

[laughs] Awesome. When you guys kind of parted your ways, you formed Metroplex. Tell us a little bit about that. There can’t have kind of been too many small, independent record labels at this time, especially, you know, dealing in electronic music, or solely electronic music.

No, there was no other labels. And especially in Detroit, that was the only independent label, I mean, you know, Motown was considered an independent label.

But that was also huge.

Yeah. But I mean, yeah, but we used the same distribution. You know, we used independent distributors so you had other independent labels, but they were huge labels, still on independent networks. So I guess you could say this was the first electronic techno label.

So that must have been pretty scary because, I mean, as much of an un-financially viable option as that is today, to start an independent record label, it must have been harder then.

No, it wasn’t scary. Not at all, because basically we just had to have enough money to press the record. I mean it was because the record was popular because [The Electrifying] Mojo played the record, man, and it was an instant hit. So it wasn’t — we didn’t have any doubt about selling records, man, the records stores were beating our door down to get the record.

Oh, okay.

So there wasn’t nothing scary about that.

So was Metroplex kind of influenced from having had a brush with Fantasy Records?

Well, Fantasy, no, what happened was Fantasy picked us up. We started Deep Space Records, which was the label that we started to put out the first record, which was “Alleys of Your Mind” on the A-Side and “Cosmic Raindance” on the B-side. OK, that was the first record, and we came out with our follow-up, which was “Cosmic Cars,” and we used an independent distributor. I forgot the name of the company, but it was run by a guy named Bob Schwartz, and he was also distributing Motown and Fantasy and other independent labels. So he just called up Fantasy and said, ‘Hey man, I’ve got some guys here who are selling records hand over fist. You need to take a look at them.’ And next thing I knew, there was a contract in the mail.

Wow, excellent.

Yeah, so we signed with them.

Okay, so you had a positive experience with them, then.

Yeah, pretty much.

So there wasn’t anything to leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Yeah, no. That was great times. I mean the only… we got caught up in Detroit music politics between stores, like some stores were wondering why they had the record and this store didn’t have the record. And you know, we actually got threatened by rival distributors, like ‘Hey, if you sell to this guy, we’re not going to sell your record.’ You know, that kind of stuff. One distributor was in control of the one radio station and the other distributor was in control of the other radio station. So if you sell to this distributor and the other distributor doesn’t want to stock your record, therefore the radio station they are affiliated with doesn’t want to play your music. So we never was able to really have our music played on all the stations at the same time.

Oh okay. So when did you start playing around with sort of more 4/4 beats, what’s, you know, generally seen as techno now?

Well, I mean, you know, if you listen to the Cybotron album, there was a track on there called “The Line,” which was actually the B-side of “Cosmic Cars,” which was kind of a 4/4 track, 4/4 rhythm. It’s always been kind of — you know I’ve always been interested in that because disco, it was a big influence for me as well. Because it was the late 70′s, man; I was graduating back in ’80, so kind of like my whole high school existence was disco. Well, funk. Mid 70′s disco and funk was kind of intertwined, although disco was a little later. I don’t know if you can remember, a lot of funk groups started doing disco records as well. Yeah, that disco rhythm was always there, but, you know, the funk was there as well.

Yeah, sort of more syncopated.


So did you and Rick play live as Cybotron?

No, we never actually played live together. We did as — there was a festival in Ypsilanti, Michigan called the Ypsilanti Art Fair. And it was sort of the same thing as, just like a festival, but it was in a big open field, and they would do this thing every year at the end of August. And so we got up there and did a little thing. But we was up there with some other musicians so it wasn’t actually Cybotron.

But when did you first do a Model 500 gig?

The first Model 500 gig, I guess you could say, was probably 1995 when I did the 10 year anniversary of Metroplex. And we did a live show in an art gallery, which was in the warehouse district of Detroit, right down east of the Renaissance Center, maybe two or three blocks off the Renaissance. It was Mike Banks, Keith Tucker, and Tommy — I forgot Tommy’s last name. But the other half of Aux 88.

Oh right, Tommy Hamilton.


Okay, cool. Can you tell me a little about the different names you’ve used? Most prolifically, it’s been Model 500 and Infiniti, but some of the other names, your one-off few releases, Triple XXX, Channel One, Frequency. Did these others have a distinct flavor as well, or were they just kind of thrown in?

In a way it was like, when this technology came down it enabled you to do a lot of different things with all these different sounds and stuff. So I thought that, well hey, Cybotron had a distinct sound, Model 500 had its sound, so then also a lot of things that were done for collaborations with other people. Like Channel One was a collaboration with me and a guy named Doug Craig.

One thing I was kind of wondering about, I mean I know you guys all had your own lives and your careers were going in different directions, but it’s always seemed kind of strange, like, you and Kevin and Derrick are always cited as being sort of the birth of, or responsible for techno blowing up like it did, but you guys didn’t really ever collaborate that much did you, actually, on record?

Not really. I mean there were a couple of things, but we never really followed through for all three of us to do it. I mean and the funny thing is that in actuality we did collaborate a lot in the early days. I mean, like, records like “Let’s Go,” everybody was on that record. “Big Fun,” everybody was on that record. But we never really just sat down and credited everybody that was in the session.

Yeah. And I guess you all had your different directions, as well, didn’t you?


So when things really started blowing up and, you know, you all of a sudden get asked to DJ halfway across the world in Europe. Seeing the way that things were there, did that open up new avenues of inspiration for you and your music?

I guess you could say that, yeah, for sure. Nobody really anticipated traveling like that around the world, but definitely seeing different places and going to different cultures and things like that, it influenced you probably more subconsciously than anything. And then the spin that the UK and Germany and other places put when they started producing music and the artists came up, you know, there was a definite different spin put on the music. Like when the people in London kind of took things a different way. You had the jungle element that kind of came in, to me which was a continuation of hip house, which a lot of people kind of forget about. But there were a lot of house artists in Chicago putting hip-hop tracks on their house tracks, which to me was the palette for early jungle music.

Tell me about the first time you heard drum and bass, and how that made you feel, I mean did that sort of open up new areas?

Well, no, to me a lot of people come up with different titles for stuff and different categories for things that they just have to name it something, but to me drum and bass was jungle. I mean the first time I heard the term jungle was — I guess there was a time where Shut Up And Dance was doing — that was what I equated with that next step from hip house to, I guess it was kind of hardcore music, in a way. It was like rave, but then when the Jamaican kind of dub element came into it, it became jungle. And to me, drum and bass was kind of a stripped-down version of jungle.

Yeah. You know, I guess for a lot of Detroit guys, I can’t think of too many other people who have actually embraced that sound. I think from what I can figure, you and, I think, Sean Deason has played around with sort of jungle and drum and bass a bit. Was it seen any differently there? Like, it wasn’t such a good thing?

No, in the U.S. it was something that was kind of unheard of, and there was no audience, really, for it. There was no audience here really even for techno, for our brand of techno, much less the sort of evolution of it. So it was kind of like it was something totally new here. Even just a few years ago I would ride around and listen to this stuff, and people was like, ‘Damn, what is that?’

Wow, yeah. So has there been sort of other moments for you more recently where you’ve sort of re-evaluated music like that again? Like, there’s a lot of bass music coming out of England now has gone from half tempo drum and bass to dubstep, and now it’s gone very experimental. Is that an interesting thing for you?

Yeah, anything new or any evolution in music, especially when it comes to electronic dance music is interesting for me, on one hand. On the other hand, you have good and bad of everything, you know what I’m saying? You’ve got a lot more people dabbling and doing productions and doing music than ever before, I think, in the history of making music. So of course you’re going to have the amateur aspect to things, and just everybody that turns on a drum machine and a sequencer and a synthesizer I guess I should say should not be turning on a drum machine, a sequencer, and a synthesizer. [laughs]

Did it feel back when you guys started travelling more, and I mean this is probably more a question for Derrick because he was sort of a victim of it more, but when some of these English groups started sampling you guys early on and that started blowing up, I mean did you guys take offense to that?

No, I mean it was kind of flattering in a way to hear your stuff come back, that somebody would take the time to take your music and use it on one hand. But then on the other hand, the next reaction was, like, ‘Well, damn, am I going to get paid? That’s my music.’ [laughs] So it was kind of a bittersweet thing.

Yeah, yeah. What was it like working with the German guys like Thomas Fehlmann and Moritz von Oswald? Did they have a really different approach to music?

It wasn’t really that different. The thing about that was that they were really — this was at the time when a lot of digital, the really digital thing kind of came and swept in. You had sort of a backlash in a way where you had a lot of people that wanted to still use analog gear or prided themselves on digging up these old analog synthesizers and gear. And they were big on that. So as a matter of fact, like Moritz, his studio, Love Park Studio, was the first time when I’d seen an 808 and a 909 with MIDI on it, and so they had this interface, a box that turned control and CB gate and gate voltage into MIDI. So it was nice to work with them and the fact that you could MIDI up all these different old keyboards like Prophets and Junos and stuff like that.

And your personal studio, has that kind of always evolved with the times, in terms of what technology offers?

Pretty much, yeah.

So when did you sort of start using computers for sequencing?

We had one of the first systems, one of the first software-based sequencers was called Dr. T, which was run on a Commodore 64. I mean it had its glitches. It definitely had its bugs in it, and as a matter of fact, I went back to sort of a hardware sequencer because of all of the hiccups that software had. I mean of course they’ve ironed it out now, but that early stuff had a lot of hiccups in it. But the concept was good, though, because it had a lot of power. Because if you use the computer, of course you had unlimited memory, basically. And so it was a different thing to be able to use the computer with your sequencing. It was like, ‘Aw, man, we’ve got thousands of notes that you can record.’ This was at the time when we were first recording that there’s notes because each note took up so much memory. So the thing was, the selling point was that you can record 1,000 notes. A 1,000-note recording capability, this was the selling point of the early software stuff.

I know throughout your music, science fiction and the concept of space, things like that have been recurring themes in your music. What sort of other ideas have you liked to reflect on?

Nothing else, actually that I guess peaks my interest. Other than just thinking forward and moving forward.

I mean have there been incredible books that you’ve read, you know, that you’ve sort of thought about and made music because you’ve read them?

Not really. I mean, I’m kind of a spiritual person. There’s one book I read called The Game of Life and How to Play It. I forgot who the author was, but it’s sort of a spiritual sort of self-help thing. You know, it talks about thinking positive and being positive, and you know, you have to see yourself in positive situations before they can actually happen sometimes, you know?

Yeah, I remember hearing “Ocean to Ocean” for the first time and really figuring that must be quite a driving force for you.


Are there any aspects of your career that you perhaps don’t enjoy so much now as you used to?

Well, the major record companies have always presented a sort of a crazy approach to stuff. Because sometimes I think a major company, major companies are kind of too big for their own good, and they kind of lose touch with what is really out here or what really the people want. Commercialization comes in and radio controls it, and advertisers control radio, and it’s just a vicious cycle. So that has always created sort of a, I guess a dynamic to getting music to the people that want your music. Because I mean major companies, like, the whole CD thing — record companies are always promoting a progressing thing to of course help the major companies, and the CD kind of killed vinyl, but the independent companies and small labels thrived on vinyl. But it kind of upset the major marketing vehicle because the records– I’ll give you an example: Our record “Cosmic Cars,” when we came out with “Cosmic Cars,” we came out right out at the same time as Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” came out. And in the Detroit charts, there was a radio station that kind of had a chart, and it kind of controlled what Detroit was representing. Like, each city had a major station that had a chart. “Cosmic Cars” was number one on this chart. “Little Red Corvette” was number two. And, man, the record companies and the promoters went crazy because they were like, ‘Who is this? Who are these guys? Who is this Cybotron? We got millions of dollars of promotion behind this Prince, and these guys are beating us out in the charts.’ [laughs]

That’s crazy.

Yeah. So you know, when they came with the CD, that format kind of scrolled out the independent things so things like that didn’t happen. So we figured out how to make it cost effective to start making CDs. And then I guess it kind of changed, but there was a moment when the CDs kind of scrolled out all the independents. A lot of distributors, a lot of vinyl distributors, that was the reason that a lot of them folded, because the major companies killed it with the CD format.

I guess especially when you’re dealing with a format that’s good for DJs, CDs are just aimed at being albums.


So tell me about Model 500 now. When did you decide to re-form in the current line-up?

Well, you know, most of all the Model 500 recordings are me. I did [them] mostly as all just me, Juan Atkins. No collaborations with anybody, and when it came time to play live, I wanted to create a group. I wanted a band, I just always wanted the entity. That’s why I didn’t just go out as Juan Atkins, I called it Model 500. Because that was just something that, because Submerge, which is Mike Banks’ distribution company, was distributing a lot of Metroplex stuff, he would come to me and say, ‘Hey, man, I’ve got a lot of inquiries about a Model 500 show. Why don’t we get together and do it?’ And I said, ‘OK.’ So we just got together, me and him, and we recruited a couple other other guys, Mark Taylor and Milton Baldwin, and just hit it.

Cool. And so you guys recently released a new single, or earlier in the year. Was that a complete collaboration between everybody?

That was a collaboration. That was the first Model 500 collaboration. That was me, Mark, and Mike Banks. Yeah, “OFI,” “Object Flying Identified.”

And can we expect more?

Oh yeah. Well, I don’t know if it’s collaborative. There’s a new Model 500 that I’m just finishing up, the main track on this EP is called “Control.” And from all indications of early feedback that I’m getting, people are loving this track. So it’s like an electro track, something with my new kind of thoughts and ideas, my new sound on it. So it should be coming before the end of the year.

Excellent. Is that going to be on R&S as well?

I think so, yeah.

Do you still release on Metroplex?

Yeah, we may even release — this next single may have a joint Metroplex/R&S release.

Great, well thank you so much for talking to us and thanks for all the years of music.

Thank you.

SOURCE: www.littlewhiteearbuds.com
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post Nov 4 2011, 13:32
Post #243

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A Visionary View

“I am pretty normal, honestly” Seth Troxler opens. “I do normal things around the house and with my fiancée and friends. But with the music there is this character called Seth Troxler. Some of it is the real me, I’m sure, but some of it isn’t. It’s a different mindset altogether.”

We’re discussing Seth’s recent track record with interviews. Demands from media for his time have surged this year and, in turn, he’s earned a reputation for colourful, sometimes completely crazy comment. What are we likely to get today?

“When I give interviews it’s probably 50% me and 50% fun and games, depending on the quality of questions I’m getting asked. I do play things up but it’s no different to DJing and working in the studio; it’s all an expression of my character. It’s a lot like Andy Warhol, who lived his art publicly. And, look, I’m passionate about the music, so that is always the major focus of what I talk about with people. It’s what I do.”

Seth has, with the help of close friends Ryan Crosson, Shaun Reeves and Lee Curtiss, proceeded to turn club music radically and stylishly on its head. The Detroit four firmly established themselves around four years ago, setting up shop in Berlin as Visionquest before quickly developing a line in top-drawer gigs and remixes. Lee and Shaun had actually moved to the German capital in 2004, Seth and Ryan joining them in 2007 (Lee has since returned to the States, and Seth has moved to London). Visionquest screwed with house and techno’s then popular minimal template, marrying it to eclectic influences such as folk, Motown and electro-pop, and defining a quirky new kind of dancefloor soul. Not mainstream, not underground, not like anything gone before….

“I think our success, both as Visionquest and individuals, is down to the quality of the music we’re releasing” Seth explains. “It’s tangible but not average by any stretch. It works in a club but at home also. It tries to say something different but without being pretentious; it comes with artwork… it attempts to make a proper cultural point. It’s part of all of us, it is properly driven by our experiences; and, well, let’s be honest, we have lived.”

Seth once described Visionquest’s live show as a “psychedelic mind trip to the future,” suggesting drugs have, or have had, an important role to play in the collective’s creative process. Is that the case?

“First and foremost we’re total music geeks,” Seth replies. “We have an insane passion for all sorts of music and sounds… abstract, indie-rock, whatever. Being open-minded is vital.”

That makes sense, Seth’s biographical materials going so as far to mention ‘chirping crickets’ and ‘whistling voodoo magic’ among his aural passions. But what about the drugs? History reveals many famous examples of chemically-fuelled life inspiring art – Coleridge, Pollock, The Beatles...

“We’re not about promoting a drug vibe” he stresses, “but, sure, our experiences with acid and psychedelics have helped inform who we are today. A lot of that inspiration came from the early days in Detroit when we were young kids DJing and stuff, and researching ideas about music… finding ourselves, getting otherworldly. We were a close group of friends working out what we wanted to say, and psychedelics supported that process. We might be in a different position today but we’re still questing….”

Seth is, of course, staring down the barrel of married life. He and his fiancée Sonoya – a ballet dancer – will tie the knot next year at a ceremony featuring relatively low-level Bristol DJ Adam Gorsky behind the decks and “some philosophy professor dude” from the States; another of Seth’s good friends. The temptation to play as well must be strong but he won’t, he insists, let himself get distracted.

Which begs the question about whether or not Seth has started pondering his long-term career and future yet? An institution like marriage can easily provoke such a reaction.

“Life is really good but there have been occasions recently where I don’t feel in control of what I’m doing; my career seems to have a life of its own” he confesses. “I’m not going to let that happen next year. Right now I’m on empty, I’m completely worn out. Someone like Jamie Jones can push themselves harder than me; I don’t quite have his stamina to keep playing night after night. Don’t get me wrong, the gigs are great and I want to do lots more but, sometimes, the travel hurts and the creative juices run dry. I’m planning a big holiday at the end of the year with Sonoya, and a better work schedule after that. I can’t, and won’t repeat this year for the next 10.”

For now, there really is plenty going on. The release date of Visionquest's addition to the revered Fabric series has just been confirmed for early December, but first up is The Lab 03, the latest instalment of NRK Music’s cutting edge mix compilation series. Seth’s contribution is expectedly varied, corralling deep atmospheric cuts by Hatikvan and Bearweasel, slick tech-flecked grooves by Lindstrom, Dinky, and DJ Qu and then, on a second disc, everything from low-slung dub to freeform jazz via electro-psychedelia courtesy of Chaim, Superpitcher and Und.

“I’m really happy with the final result” he confirms. “I’ve blended a number of popular underground house and tech sounds, with some really weird shit… music at the other, more abstract end of the scale. It’s all about pushing boundaries.”

Those boundaries will shift a good distance more in the coming weeks and months as Visionquest, the label, unveils its next (eagerly awaited) tranche of releases. Crosson is set to release a new artist album with Vagabundos staple Cesar Merveille, in two hefty parts; Ewan Pearson is adding final studio touches to Footprintz’ pop-edged debut album, and tasty Italian duo Tale Of Us are also busy preparing preparing their first album.

Can Seth divulge anything more about the latter?: “It’s pretty much left the concept stage now; there are few tracks taking shape. The guys [Tale Of Us’ Karm & Matteo] have some surprises up their sleeve; the album won’t just be riffs on the deep house and techno material they’ve released before. They’re musicians; their ideas are wide-ranging. They’re outrageous.”

Visionquest’s label has found its feet rather spectacularly since launching at the start of the year. Even at this early stage of life, its A&R decisions seem to be carrying an awful lot of sway within clubland – the kind of sway that properly sets up careers. But how much of label strategy is emotional and how much hard-nosed business?

“Three of the four of us have to agree before signing anyone to the label,” Seth answers. “But we’re usually all in agreement, and we take the A&R really seriously. There are business practicalities, and there needs, obviously, to be an emotional connection to the music, but we go further than that. We ask artists to hang out with us for a few weeks; we get to know them as people and artists, make sure they’re not knobs or anything, and then we make our decision. Everyone in our family is a good friend, and that makes what we do that bit more special and successful.”

Special enough to run and run? “Yes, I really think so, things are going great so far” he concludes. “It’s…what… 30 years on from when dance music began? It feels like we’ve reached a pivotal moment where dance music is embracing all of these different ideas, a mix of underground and mainstream, and has its first chance to be universally accepted by everyone. It is becoming accepted culture, and that is completely amazing. I love being part of that.”

Words: Ben Lovett

Various Artists – Seth Troxler: The Lab 03 is out now on NRK Music.

SOURCE: www.defected.com
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post Dec 7 2011, 13:51
Post #244

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RA Poll: Top DJs of 2011

RA begins two weeks of polls with the readers' choice of the finest DJs of the year.

Electronic music is a global phenomenon, but for most of us, our perspectives are shaped by the cities in which we go raving. Tastes and trends vary from place to place, and it's nigh on impossible to keep tabs on the scene at large (unless you're a DJ and travel the world for a living). That's what's so fascinating about our annual poll of your favourite DJs: it's a rare chance to see the broad spectrum of who people like to see in clubs. It's like a distillation of countless parties around the world over a 12 month period: the late nights and fuzzy mornings of thousands of punters are funneled into a single list.

In 2010 we had to admit that the top DJs poll wasn't radically different from the one in 2009. That is definitely not the case in 2011. Take spots #1 and #2, which changed hands for the first time in years. Then you've got the inevitable first-timers, one of whom makes his top 100 debut all the way up at #5. There are even a couple of DJs who appear twice (well, sort of). But enough chit chat—let's scroll down, shall we?

20. Solomun

Diynamic continued its reign as one of Germany's most vital imprints in 2011. Label boss Solomun had a lot to do with that, taking the imprint's sound to clubs around the globe while also making sure that their own hometown venue Ego was stocked by some of the world's best DJs. Celebrating an anniversary—five years of Diynamic—certainly didn't hurt matters much either. Add one of the year's most beloved remixes—his take on Noir & Haze's "Around"—on top of all of this, and you're left with the best year yet from the Bosnian-born DJ.

19. Marcel Dettmann

Ostgut Ton further expanded its brand of no nonsense techno and old school-indebted house outside of the confines of its Berlin home at the famed Berghain/Panorama Bar in 2011. The techno evangelism was largely due to the work of residents Marcel Dettmann and Ben Klock. While Klock largely kept his head down in the clubs, Dettmann found time to put out a solid mix CD, Conducted, on Music Man and 12-inches through 50 Weapons and Kontra-Musik. These outside endorsements further emphasize that the world has warmed up to the cold, steely techno that Dettmann loves so much.

18. Lee Foss

Earlier this year, Lee Foss told tracealine.com that "there will be a backlash, there's no way around it." As for now? Foss is riding high alongside Hot Creations partner Jamie Jones, and an imprint that helped define 2011. With two solo EPs and a host of DJ gigs, Foss was as personally responsible as anyone for the trend. But he's no overnight success: He grew up in Chicago's hard knock scene, honed his sound in Los Angeles and now makes his home in the UK. In a few years, the backlash will arrive. If there are more years like 2011 before then, though, Foss will undoubtedly have far more fans than detractors.

17. Sasha

God is a DJ—but he only warms up for Sasha, reads the title of Brendan Blood's semi-biographical book on the UK veteran, a playful nod to the famous 1994 Mixmag cover story. Sasha may not command quite the same levels of reverence these days, but his latest appearance in our top 20 should go some way to emphasizing his enduring relevance. After a nine year break, Sasha got back together with Lee Burridge and Craig Richards to reform Tyrant this year, sprinkling some of that star power over the final event in our RA X series at Trouw in Amsterdam.

16. Sven Vath

It was largely business as usual for Sven Vath in 2011. Although when you consider that "business" includes running a club, a booking agency, a record label, a weekly Ibiza residency and visiting the four corners of the globe to DJ, you realise that there's nothing "usual" about this. Germany's most famous techno DJ celebrated 30 years behind the decks, and while the mythical status surrounding his marathon sets, Ibiza afterparties and general debauchery continues to swirl, remaining steadfast might just be the secret to his success.

15. Tale Of Us

In a year when RA's DJ poll underwent some massive changes, Tale Of Us' climb into the top 20 has to count as the most surprising. The group barely existed in 2010. Their beloved RA podcast, however, outlined exactly what they do in a club setting. Melodic, bouncy and pitched at right around 120 BPM, they hit at a moment when pop has been making a mighty comeback courtesy of Hot Creations and Visionquest —the latter of whom put out their Dark Song EP this year. Something tells us, however, that they'll be around for a while: Catchy tunes rarely go out of style.

14. Soul Clap

DJing may appear pretty simple. Soul Clap remind us that even the simplest stuff requires an expert hand to become something greater. The Boston duo dole out classics at a regular clip. The secret is in the way that they put them together. (Head down to one of their '90s Jam nights, and you'll hear exactly what we're talking about.) Over the course of two well-received mix CDs (one alongside Wolf + Lamb), they also showcased just how many future classics are on the way from friends and family, and proved that their 2010 entry into our DJ poll was anything but a fluke.

13. John Digweed

There's honestly not much to say about John Digweed at this point. What's most amazing about the progressive house king's longevity, however, is the longevity itself. Dance music is a young man's game, yet Diggers continues to add colors and countries to his already voluminous gig diary. Few DJs on this list have played Macedonia, Cyprus, Israel and Taiwan. He did it in the past 12 months. It's Digweed's professionalism, consistency and dedication that keeps him booked every weekend in clubs around the world. The music, meanwhile, is what keeps crowds coming back year after year.

12. Luciano

Those who say that Ibiza is dead need look no further than Cadenza's Luciano as a case study to the contrary. After spending a second season at the helm of his Sunday night shindig at Pacha, the label boss has positioned Cadenza as one of the most surefire brands on the island (and the world). Quite simply, Luciano brings the party like few others, whether it's via his label's tropical house sound or a well-timed and well-known a cappella. This year saw further success at Pacha, along with a continued nod to his underground roots, bringing the likes of Moodymann, Larry Heard, Daniel Bell and more along for the ride.

11. Marco Carola

"I'm just expressing who I am, what I like to play and hear in the club," Marco Carola told us this year. The Italian veteran maintains his #11 placing in our poll this time out, speaking to his continued dedication to pushing the purest forms of the music he loves. Whether it's house, techno or something in between, there's always something unmistakably "Carola" about his pared-down, groove-based sets. As a Cocoon resident, Ibiza was a key territory for Carola this summer, while further afield he continued to enjoy one of the busiest worldwide touring schedules of any DJ.

10. Ben Klock

It's nice to know an artist as uncompromising as Ben Klock can be so widely loved. Granted, he might throw in a few more house records than some of his fellow Berghain residents, but his overall sound is techno at its most punishing, and he always has the cojones to lay it on thick, even when he's playing somewhere far away from his home base in Berlin (which has been happening more and more). Few DJs could take such brutal rhythms and meld them into something so compelling. It's that finesse that makes him one of the best.

09. Maya Jane Coles

When we featured her in the RA podcast in January of this year, we felt pretty confident that Maya Jane Coles would have a strong year. What actually transpired was nothing short of incredible. The young London house producer has gone from a talented local name to a worldwide headlining force in what feels like the blink of an eye. 2011 has seen gigs stack up across Italy, Germany, Ibiza and the US, while labels like Crosstown Rebels, 2020 Vision and Hypercolour have all played host to her classicist house sound. As for 2012? Let's just say that there's really no limit to how far she can go.

08. Dixon

"Drama" is the word that comes most immediately to mind with Dixon. In the catalogue of his label, Innervisions, nearly every track has a story to tell. It's the same way with his DJ sets. Rarely does a mix go by without the Berlin-based jock leaving you anticipating what's going to happen next. It's almost as if the transitions are as (or perhaps even more) important than the tracks themselves. A standout mix CD for Live At Robert Johnson proved this point. If his claims that it is to be his last are true, look for his frequent club gigs to underline it on a weekly basis.

07. Loco Dice

Why do people always apply the same adjectives—"muscular," "physical"—to Loco Dice's sound? Well, firstly it avoids having to make an embarrassing fist-pumping action, and secondly these words are as close as it gets to describing something unique. See, the intriguing thing about the German DJ—and very often what sets him apart—isn't what he plays but the way he plays. This could be to do with his hip-hop background (discussed at length with us in January of this year) but what's certain is that Dice's take on house and techno is truly his own.

06. Art Department

We described Jonny White and Kenny Glasgow's rise as "meteoric" back in October, and for the proof look no further than their touring schedule. The Canadian duo played a single gig in July 2010; the number of shows for the corresponding month this year? 18. What happened in between was a single of the year, "Without You," and a standout album, The Drawing Board, for Crosstown Rebels. The key difference between Art Department and so many other "breakthrough" acts, however, is that individually they've been doing this since the '90s—a fact that is only too evident from their artful DJ sets.

05. Maceo Plex

It's safe to say Eric Estornel had a pretty killer year. After nearly two decades of DJing and making records––mostly as Maetrik, more recently as Maceo Plex––he released Life Index, a breakthrough album that thrust him into the limelight. A month later he played at Get Lost in Miami and arguably outshone all of his fellow Crosstown Rebels. The rest, as they say, is history. Today he makes it into the top 100 for the first time all the way up in the top five, easily the highest ranking debut since the RA DJ reader poll began.

04. Ricardo Villalobos

It could be said that Ricardo Villalobos enjoys a cult of personality: few artists fill clubs so easily, and as a debonair artiste with a hedonistic streak, he's underground clubland's perfect poster boy. But that only accounts for a small part of his following. Some two decades into his career, Villalobos still has that inimitable mad scientist quality, whether he's boggling minds at fabric or remixing modern jazz records for ECM. In some ways he's a victim of his own success—good luck catching him in an intimate setting these days—but he remains one of electronic music's true visionaries.

03. Richie Hawtin

We expressed wonderment last year that Richie Hawtin bothered to DJ at all in 2010. The same was true in 2011: Taking his mammoth Plastikman show to smaller spaces and to another technological level might've been enough. It clearly wasn't, if his diary was any indication. Without three of his key compatriots— Magda, Marc Houle and Troy Pierce left to focus on Items & Things—it's clear that Hawtin will have to be more focused than ever in 2012. Judging by his work ethic, we'd be surprised if he weren't up to the challenge.

02. Seth Troxler

In 2009, Seth Troxler told Little White Earbuds that he'd "retired" at age 16 when he quit his job at The Palace in Detroit (they wouldn't let him work with dreadlocks). Now 26, he hasn't held a "normal" job since, but that doesn't mean he hasn't put in the hours. 2011 was a dizzying year for Troxler—starting a label (Visionquest), founding a charity (Red Dot Relief) and playing at countless parties around the globe. His class clown persona might make it seem like he doesn't take any of it seriously, but nothing could be further from the truth. Seth Troxler is one of most driven DJs out there, and it pays off.

01. Jamie Jones

"The chillest bro in dance music."

That's the way one RA staff member described Jamie Jones earlier this year. And while that may be true behind the decks, the rise of the Hot Creations boss is more down to hard work. By our count, Jones was billed at 142 gigs in 2011, which means he nearly averaged a set every second day. Couple this with a lauded fabric CD, a whole host of remixes and the expert co-curation of a label that came to define the sound of clubland in 2011, and you're left with a simple equation. The hottest tracks + the most gigs = the #1 DJ of 2011.


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post Dec 7 2011, 14:32
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RA Poll: Top 20 live acts of 2011

RA's readers weigh in with their picks for the finest performers of the year.

There are several ongoing debates around the idea of "live acts" in electronic music circles. One that gets some of the most impassioned responses is the simple question of what actually constitutes one. Is it someone that only plays their own songs? Is it someone that radically (or subtly) reinterprets them? Can you play other people's songs in your own live act? Do you need to play an instrument—in whatever form that might take—to be considered a live act? All 20 of the acts below had different answers to those questions, but they all had one thing in common in 2011: They were among the best in the world.

20. Modeselektor

It may just be their tour rider forcing every venue to turn down everybody that plays before them, but when Modeselektor take to the stage, everything just seems a little bit more present. That sort of thing happens all the time at rock shows, and it's no accident that Modeselektor take the same approach. Their live show is—for all intents and purposes—a rock show. They have special lights and visuals, courtesy of Pfadfinderei. They have a guy who comes on the mic every so often, and one of their opening numbers on their most recent tour takes great pains to tell you exactly who they are. It's spectacle, pure and simple.

19. KiNK

Most everything about KiNK screams throwback. Everything, that is, aside from his live show. The Bulgarian producer seems to take a particular pleasure in new technology, and doesn't hesitate to show it off either. Despite his music sounding like its beamed straight in from the heyday of Chicago house, you can tell that his eagerness to actually perform that music is what keeps him an in-demand booking around the world. After all, everybody loves a Novation Launchpad solo, right?

18. Kollektiv Turmstrasse

Kollektiv Turmstrasse once described the inspiration for their sound as trying to "create the atmosphere of the sun rising while sitting on a beach." That's as good as any for their recorded work, but what they play in clubs is a distinctly tougher beast that matches emotion with urgency. That said, the duo don't do anything special with their live set technically. That's a good thing in this case: When you have as songs as touching as their remix of Federleicht's "On the Streets," it's about what you don't do as much as anything else.

17. Reboot

Frank Heinrich is that rare thing in electronic music: an artist who is equally as comfortable behind the decks as he is playing live. Chalk that up to years of experience and plenty of practice—as part of the Cadenza family of artists, Heinrich's percussion-driven house sound has been in demand right across the globe for several years now. Although with hits such as "Caminando," "Enjoy Music" and "Ronson" in his locker, it's not really surprising that promoters would want him to supply the soundtrack their party.

16. Mathew Jonson

It's easy to take innovators for granted a few years after their initial burst of insight. What's most fascinating about Mathew Jonson a decade on from his first 12-inch on Itiswhatitis is how, still, almost no one else sounds like him. Jonson's RA podcast and high-profile EPs on Minus and Crosstown Rebels only served to remind us in 2011 that his formula can yield endless permutations—and that his live show remains one of the most unique around.

15. Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts

Guillaume & Coutu Dumonts is something of a dark horse: despite being one of the most talented house producers of the past few years, his profile has never risen too high. But what the Quebecois artist lacks in star power he more than makes up for in personality: think of the crazed preacher in "I Was On My Way to Hell," the chopped up soul of "The Pussy Shepherd" or the warm and jazzy feel that permeates all of his music. Any set that makes a medley of these parts is going to be pretty hard to resist, and that's why he remains a favorite at parties the world over.

14. Carl Craig presents 69

A Detroit techno legend finally debuting one of his cult aliases. Seems like a no-brainer, right? And so it was in 2011. With only a few live shows to the name, 69 was enjoyed by enough festivalgoers to slot easily onto our live acts list. It helps that the tunes are undeniable: "If Mojo Was A.M.," "Jam the Box" and "Desire" are barely contained outbursts of rhythmic invention, and sounded just as fresh as they did in the early '90s when they were first released.

13. Kassem Mosse

When Kassem Mosse finished a set this fall, DJ and former Laid manager Dor shook his head and said, "He believes so much in his own music." This is more or less true of all live acts—i.e. artists who, given the choice, perform their own tracks instead of someone else's—but it's especially true of the Workshop stalwart. For him there seems to be little doubt that 112 BPM is fast enough, analogue gear does the job just fine and something that sounds like "enchiladas" repeated over and over can work as a hook. Luckily for him (and us), he's pretty much always right.

12. Âme

Kristian Beyer and Frank Wiedemann have always thought that it made the most sense for only one of them to represent Âme at DJ gigs. However, these days there's a distinct division of labour: Beyer DJs, Wiedemann plays live. From the Innervisions Orchestra to A Critical Mass through to Henrik Schwarz's solo shows, live performance has always been an integral part of the Berlin label's MO, which was something only too evident from Wiedemann's sets during 2011. Of course it also helps that he has one of modern deep house's finest discographies to draw upon.

11. Sandwell District

It's always a bit tough to define what Sandwell District are doing on stage. And asking Regis or Function, the two members of the collective that make up their live entity, will only leave you more confused. What we do know from a recent article in The Wire, however, is that tension, conflict and a broken shoulder or two are essential in making this techno act one of the most vital in the world. (And that you should most definitely stay out of the way when the two are offstage together.)

10. Benoit & Sergio

When they were first getting started, Benoit & Sergio claimed their live act would involve kneepads, saxophone and headset mics. In the end they went with the classic dual laptop set-up, but that didn't make them any less sensational. From The Shelborne in Miami to fabric in London, their flamboyant electronic pop gave nightclubs a much needed jolt that easily made them one of the most memorable acts of the year. Not many production duos get the crowd singing along, let alone about horse tranquilizers.

09. Guti

Guti likes to describe his live set as "dynamic" and it's difficult to disagree with him. Although operating on a standard laptop set-up, it's often said that the Desolat producer brings something a little different to the table. Our guess is that it's many things. Guti played in a famed Argentinian rock band during the '90s and has basically been playing piano since he could sit up straight. Then there's his emphasis on constantly producing fresh original material for his shows. In other words, he has an angle—and it seems to be working for him.

08. Martin Buttrich

Clean lines, tidy drums, an immaculate separation of sounds in the stereo field. Martin Buttrich's music is defined by how clear it sounds, a vestige of his time spent in the studio making tracks for the likes of Timo Maas and Loco Dice. What's most powerful about his live show, however, is how the theoretical can translate so easily into something physically powerful and emotionally resonant. He's a perfectionist that never lets OCD get in the way of a good time.

07. Laurent Garnier presents L.B.S.

So devoted was Laurent Garnier to his L.B.S. concept in 2011 that we couldn't even convince him to step behind the decks as an unannounced headliner for our RA X series. You can hardly blame him. Benjamin Rippert and Stephane "Scan X" Dri pushed Garnier to a different place. It was a true DJ/live hybrid, with the usual airings of "Man with the Red Face" interspersed with new tracks by others that seemed ripe for reinterpretation. Garnier described it as something that will "give my work a new lease of life." Why go back to the old when you're having too much fun exploring the new?

06. Gaiser

Hip-hop isn't the first term that would spring to mind when thinking about a Gaiser live show. But in the same way that hip-hop DJs tear through tracks at breakneck speeds to build intensity, the same is true of the Minus producer when he takes to the stage. A focus on otherworldly synths and creeping basslines is still very much a part of the Gaiser sound, although with 2011 representing one of his quieter years on the release front, his re-entry onto our poll would point to a man on top of his game in the live arena.

05. Guy Gerber

Rumor has it Guy Gerber once played live at P Diddy's villa in Ibiza while strippers splashed around in enormous glasses of champagne. This kind of makes sense if you think about it. Gerber's tech house sound has recently morphed into something trippy, lurid and weirdly soulful, helped along by the occasional R&B sample. It's made him a hit at hundreds of other parties around the world, so why not at a ritzy celebrity bash? Whether Gerber's album with Puff will see the light of day is anyone's guess, but when he's this strong on his own, it's hard to care too much.

04. Henrik Schwarz

German producer Henrik Schwarz may just play live, but 2011 showcased exactly what that can mean. Playing right after Sven Vath at Time Warp, he played the tougher end of his jazz-inflected house music to a massive crowd. Around the same time, he was also busy in sit-down venues improvising delicately alongside jazz pianist Bugge Wesseltoft. Later on in the year, he played downstairs at Berghain and upstairs at Panorama Bar in the same night—an invitation that few have received, and even fewer have successfully pulled off.

03. dOP

If the idea of a drunk, shirtless French dude pouring vodka down your throat from the front of a stage doesn't sound appealing, then you clearly haven't seen dOP yet. Their continued presence near the summit of our live acts poll is easy to explain: the group comprised of Damian Van de Sande, Clement Zemstov and Jonathan "JoJo" Illel put on a show. And amid a sea of ambiguous laptop performances, behaving like good old fashioned rock stars is clearly something that you value.

02. Plastikman

They say that nostalgia is all the rage these days. Electronic music is no different. When Richie Hawtin's new Plastikman live show debuted last year, it was like a greatest hits tour, tackling all of the classics for the diehards and serving as a valuable history lesson for those who weren't there the first time around. Hawtin upgraded the rig in 2011 to version 1.5, with a bigger engine under the hood and a few new interactive features. What's more enticing, however, is that it means 2.0 can only be around the corner—and the evolution of an already next-level live experience.

01. Nicolas Jaar

The new guard is fully upon us. With Jamie Jones taking over the top spot of RA's 2011 DJ poll, it only seems right that Nicolas Jaar would be honored by RA readers as the finest live. Jaar's live show doesn't lean on pyrotechnics or bleeding-edge technology. He simply played really good songs really well. Whether that meant with his live band or performing solo, the focus was on transforming the club space into a place where dynamics ruled, charisma mattered and the tyranny of the constant kick drum fell away. Like Plastikman last year, Nicolas Jaar proved that you don't need to rock a crowd non-stop to win fans—and once again showcased that substance is just as important as a bit of style.

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post Feb 2 2012, 15:41
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Top 10 March 2012 Festivals

RA's countdown of the world's best festivals returns for 2012.

And so it begins. The unofficial start of the festival season is triggered this month by the mass gathering of techno talent that is Timewarp, and the week-long marathon offered by Winter Music Conference. Leading up to these there'll be chances to party in the French Alps, roll around Australian fields or club-hop in Amsterdam. Wherever or whenever you chose to get things going, welcome back.

10. Jetzt Musik Festival
March 21 - March 31
Various Venues
Mannheim, Germany

Jetzt Musik, the week-long warm-up festival to Time Warp, will again look to provide an array of challenging (and reasonably priced) creative performances in 2012. Held across a range of venues as diverse as the shows themselves, Jetzt Music explores the possibilities of electronic music outside of the nightclub. There's a radio play offered up by Move D and author Thomas Meinecke, while the National Theatre Mannheim will stage improvised ballet to the house sounds of the Highgrade Disharmonic Orchestra, with label members playing off five synchronized laptops. And if that isn't enough, Stefan Goldmann will provide real-time manipulation of classical masterpieces played by the casalQuartett live on-stage.

RA pick: CLR hit the Loft Club on the final night with Chris Liebing preparing you for the madness of Timewarp the following day.

09. The Black Weekend
March 8 - March 11
Chamonix Ski Resort
Mont Blanc, France

Given the success of Snowbombing down the years, it's surprising that more festivals like it haven't sprung up in its wake. A boutique French equivalent is The Black Weekend, based out of Chamonix, the popular French ski resort on Mont Blanc (Europe's highest peak), which will again be the host location for this fourth edition. If you're making the trip you'll have parties to contend with in both the day and night (including the curiously titled Hot Dog Day) in addition, of course, to the winter sports. In terms of talent there looks to be no fixed sound, rather a digestible selection of DJ and live acts from across scenes, including Carl Craig, DJ Hell, Nick Curly, Noze and I:Cube.

RA pick: Get drunk; dance to Noze; fall in the snow.

08. 5 Days Off
March 7 - March 11
Various Venues
Amsterdam, Netherlands

5 Days Off has crafted a reputation that goes beyond the presentation of quality electronic music. Never one to focus entirely on club nights, its younger sibling, 5 Days On, runs simultaneously, showcasing photography and film exhibitions at De Balie Expositie. Over five days (obviously) a wild variety of music will take over two of Amsterdam's most reputable clubs, Paradiso and Melkweg. WhoMadeWho play the opening night at Paradiso, while the UK flow of SBTRKT will provide the kick-off at Melkweg. The intensity is bound to lift with Gaslamp Killer and Hudson Mohawke playing the same bill on Thursday, while day three sees the audio/visual Monolake show nestle in alongside a stable of Ostgut artists, including Steffi, Ben Klock, Tobias. and Ryan Elliott.

RA pick: Jeff Mills celebrates 20 years of his Axis label with an extended set at Melkweg on day two.

07. Awakenings Rotterdam
March 3
Rotterdam, Netherlands

When it comes to stadium-sized techno, there aren't many brands more renowned than Awakenings. Held several times a year at various locations across The Netherlands, the festival series is well known for packing a punch with each edition, generally hosting acts that are placed at the tougher end of the techno spectrum. Things are a little more varied this time around, however, with a relatively varied lineup that features the synth-heavy and melodic sounds of Gui Boratto alongside no nonsense names like Speedy J and Gary Beck. Further down the bill you'll find Pan-Pot, Tiefschwarz and Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts, each of whom will be dishing out some house-oriented material at the hulking Maassilo complex.

RA pick: Local export Speedy J should bring the goods to his hometown crowd.

06. SXSW
March 9 - March 18
Various Venues
Austin, Texas

A cramped pub. An alley way. In the bed of a truck. Outside a taco shack. Your friend's sisters' University of Texas dorm room. Every square inch is a "venue" during SXSW. Thousands of trend seekers, setters, makers and the guys with badges looking for the convention center (yes, this is a conference as well) all make the journey to the Texas capital to catch a glimpse of this year's potential breakthrough acts. With a reputation built over the last 20-plus years, the event is no longer just the epicenter of indie rock, and is quickly becoming a stop-off for the acoustic and electronically inclined. Chrissy Murderbot, Com Truise, Oneohtrix Point Never and SBTRKT are just a few of the electronic artists you might catch at this year's festival, among hundreds of other rock, folk, hip-hop and experimental artists. And don't worry if you can't afford the badges: beyond the limited capacity at some of the official events, other east Austin happenings are fair game for entry.

RA pick: Thundercat's debut album may have been slept on by some last year, but don't make the same mistake at SXSW.

05. Playground Weekender
March 2 - March 4
Del Rio Riverside Resort
Wisemans Ferry, Australia

Playground Weekender is one of Australia's favourite boutique festivals. Held in lush riverside surrounds situated a short drive from Sydney, the three-day event has been celebrated for its relaxed atmosphere and left-of-centre lineups, a combination that has seen the Playground Weekender garner a healthy reputation all around the country. This time around, you'll be able to catch Bonobo, Fat Freddys Drop and Roots Manuva among the house sounds of Damian Lazarus, Lee Burridge and Art Department. Elsewhere on the bill sits disco veteran Greg Wilson, proto-ravers The Orb and Applied Rhythm Technology boss Kirk Degiorgio.

RA pick: Greg Wilson doing his time-honoured thing at the Big Top stage.

04. Ultra Music Festival
March 23 - March 25
Bayfront Park
Miami, US

When it comes to taking the temperature of the mainstream US dance market, Ultra seems like as good a patient as any. So how much should be read into the event's more underground house and techno bookings this year? Hard to say. But perhaps 2012 will be the year that—dovetailing the recent EDM upsurge in the country—the likes of Seth Troxler and Jamie Jones (both booked for the Sunday) begin to enjoy a next level of Stateside success. What hasn't changed in 2012 is the basic premise: three days of music during WMC week, roughly 150,000 attendees, and numerous colossal stages, dealing in the biggest dance sounds on the planet, with headliners this year including Kraftwerk, Justice, Carl Cox and Sven Vath.

RA pick: Kraftwerk's Friday night performance (for obvious reasons).

03. Future Music Festival
March 3 - March 12
Various Venues
Various Cities, Australia
Brisbane | Perth | Sydney | Melbourne | Adelaide

While other Australian electronic and dance music festivals are tending towards more mainstream acts, Future Music Festival continues to evolve by looking to offer a broader range of music to its punters. This year's tour will be headlined by the newly reformed New Order (sans Peter Hook) which gives an indication as to the outside-the-box thinking that goes into the festival. DFA acts past and present will be generously represented, with James Murphy & Pat Mahoney, Hercules & Love Affair, The Rapture, Benoit & Sergio, Holy Ghost! and The Juan Maclean all tagging along. House and techno fans will have something to cheer about also, with DJ sets from Jamie Jones and Sven Vath, as well as a live performance from Aphex Twin. Throw in some Horse Meat Disco and you're looking at a pretty solid day out.

RA pick: Sing along to the Benoit & Sergio live show if you know the words.

02. Timewarp
March 31
Mannheim, Germany

For one weekend every March, things look a little bit light lineup-wise in nightclubs around the world. That's because all of techno's leading lights are making their way to Mannheim to kick off the European festival season at Time Warp. Critics sometimes argue that Time Warp hasn't changed their headliners much in the past few years. But look at it the other way around: Why do you think that people like Sven, Richie, Ricardo, Carola, Dice and Dubfire keep coming back for more? It's one of the best run large-scale festivals around, an event whose sprawl necessitates the Maimarkthalle complex, but somehow makes it feel relatively intimate. Joining the aforementioned biggies this year will be a focus on techno in all its forms: Adam Beyer, Chris Liebing, DJ Rush and Dettmann & Klock will all perform, along with another lengthy set coming from Laurent Garnier and his LBS project.

RA pick: For a spot of house, see hometown hero Nick Curly go back-to-back with Mathias Kaden.

01. Miami WMC
March 16 - March 25
Various Venues
Miami, US

Things got a little weird in Miami last year, what with the Winter Music Conference/Ultra split and the confusion that ensued, but in 2012 it all looks set to get back on track. The conference itself is twice as long, which naturally means more parties, and while Sunday School will be sorely missed, the rest of the usual suspects will no doubt deliver: Crosstown Rebels getting lost at Electric Pickle, Listed with their fleet of intimate boat parties, The Shelborne's non-stop poolside soirees, and so many more. It might take a certain kind of personality (or maybe sense of humor) to fully enjoy it, but you'd be hard-pressed to find something more colorful and expansive than Miami during WMC.

RA pick: Hard to say with so few lineups announced, but you really can't beat the no-frills hedonism of Electric Pickle.

Source @ RA
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