Really proud of our guy Longshanks right here. As if running the sub⎹div ship wasn’t enough, 2011 was the year that our captain fully unsheathed his production alias Monolithium. With a series of free downloads & Simon & G-Funk, his crystalline debut EP via Error Broadcast, he stylishly crept onto the global dance music radar. Emerging fully-formed, Monolithium’s trajectory revolved around a well executed post-hip-hop sound that fused loping rhythms with dollops of precision funk. Appearances at MUTEK, Bass Coast & Low End Theory (during a successful US mini-tour alongside the legendary Dabrye) certified that the real deal was in fact in our midst. His sets at Hush b2b with Eames this year injected a healthy chunk of balls-to-the-wall raving into Victoria’s nightlife & we’re fingers crossed that his collaboration with Hrdvsion sees the light of day in 2012. At the very least, we’re just hyped to see him take it all further.
Monolithium: A tough thing to begin approximating the past year. So much positivity. I’m faced with an overwhelming sense of gratitude to so many. I’ll try & make sense as best I can…
The big one I guess, in 2011 I finally put a record out and some people actually liked it! That felt real good. It was appropriate as fuck that my introduction to the world was via my own take on hip-hop – I am thoroughly enjoying aging with that art form. To be able to contribute my lil’ chirp in the dialog felt fantastic. Shouts to Error Broadcast & anyone who played my tunes & gave me any modicum of love this past year. It really is cherished & I appreciate it to the utmost. Got a gang of new music for 2012 in all sorts of vibes
sub⎹division… wow, we fucking ran 2011. At the beginning of the year, if you’d listed off all of the talent that we’d have roll through over the past 12 months, I’d have laughed in your face. Starting off with dEbruit in January – which was a crazy show, dude really set the tone for the year – we managed to keep the quality control high & stick to our guns at a time when most promoters in our midst were busy scrambling over the monetary returns of brostep.
Julio Bashmore, Jacques Greene, Pearson Sound, Zed Bias, Machinedrum, XI, Kingdom, Salva… we quietly managed to book the cream of the crop when it comes to our little niche world. Real talk: we lost some money on a couple of these shows, but the financial knocks were always overshadowed by the amazing music & important cultural return that I truly believe is essential in the times we currently live in. To build a scene that has any resiliency, there has to be more at the root of it than just the desire to make money & get fucked up in a club. At our parties I saw a fabulous cross section of our city’s club population DANCING (read: not moshing/flailing) & embracing the global community that we all know bares so much fruit. Really excited to grow our scene this year – it’s inevitable. We’re too fucking good to be constantly wondering if peeps are gonna show.
Eames & Rhythmicon, what a squad to have at my side. We’re talking top shelf here folks, not just as people, but as selectors. Rhythmicon will fuck with any style & own it. I’ve seen dude light up dancefloors with newnew UK polyriddims one week, and then proceed to out-womp Caspa the next. Dealing with this man’s humility on a regular basis is a healthy thing for me. And Eames – dude is my fave DJ. Playing back to back with him at Hush over the past 6 months has been a hilight of this year for sure. Just straight raving (with a lil’ bit o’ trap for good measure!). And watching him OWN the mainstage on the first night of Bass Coast Festival was just unreal. It truly was his “IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW ALREADY, I AM FUCKING HERE” moment, to be there for it was really special.
Roc Cazba aka CaBfRee – this dude is the instrumental backbone of sub⎹division. Not only does he take care of our visual direction & aesthetics, but he has always been an amazing foil for me with regard to where things should be going, be it style/bookings/marketing or just chatting about new sounds/producers. I would be nowhere as a modern selector without his relentless digital digging. Anyone looking for top notch design should fuck with the dude. Get at him.
Our extended team: Outsider, KMT, Frame, Gobe, That’s Deep – so honoured to have such a support network, each of these dudes is a talent in their own right. Along with Jamie Goyman, Sarah Kim, Amy Kirtay, I’ve learned that this whole “carry the underground on your back by yourself” shtick is bullshit – PEOPLE WANT TO BE INVOLVED, it’s impossible to build anything without people there to help you. The support I’ve received from these folks – be it web-oriented or just scene-related – is greatly valued, especially through a year where so much of my time & energy went into producing & promoting my own art. There will be a heavier emphasis on nurturing our local/regional scene through 2012 – importing our culture can only take us so far, we really need to help our crowds realize that there is top tier talent in our city/province & it is totally worth paying money for.
And to our supporters: we truly are nothing without you guys on that dancefloor. Thanks to anyone who came top rave with us at Lucky or Hush or anywhere else for that matter. Excited for 2012!
Festivals this year were truly amazing. Massive thanks to Michael Red & Malcolm Levy for making MUTEK happen. Being on stage with all the West Coast fam at that festival really meant something. And holy shit, Tom Bottoms with Calamalka, XI & Babe Rainbow
BASS COAST… playing alongside Calamalka, Prison Garde, Salva & Self Evident on that Friday Slay Bay stage, what a night of music! Mad respect to the Bass Coast Girls, I can only hope that I get to play at such a killer event again in 2012.
RIFFLANDIA… a huge success, the Saturday night lineup with Outsider, XI, Machinedrum & all the fam in the house, best show of the year.
LOW END THEORY… what can I say? Huge thanks to Daddy Kev & co. for having me rock. So obvious why that night is the cultural lynchpin that it is. Cannot wait to return to the Airliner.
People… some real connections. Over the last decade of my life, as with most reading this I’m sure, I’ve acquired a healthy chunk of social acquaintances, many fleeting, opportune relationships that serve a practical purpose. But this year I linked with some peeps that I’ll maintain contact with, which is a huge reward for me. Huge shouts to Andrew, Christian, Dean, McPhee, the Falcon, Hera & SamXL plus all the other amazing peeps that proved to me that our continental dance community is something worth nurturing (there really are far too many to name).
Getting to spend some real time with Dabrye on our West Coast tour was something that will stay with me for the duration of my life. After being such a huge fan for so long, to sit down opposite the man on a train & have him be such an affable, chill dude was amazing. Speaking to him about his hiatus from “the scene” & the current state of underground dance music (“I ignore it ALL.” he explained, right after asking “so what’s happened to dubstep?”), I was struck with his humility & objective take on his own sound. As a guy just getting on my feet in terms of my own “career” it was hella inspiring.
Finally, a sincere hug/glass of whiskey to Prison Garde, Andrew Ryce, Hrdvsion & April Mundell. Amazing people, I have so much respect for you, you all helped contribute to an amazing year for me personally. Thank you.
Musically… The best records I heard PERIOD this year (dancefloor aside) were the Thundercat & Oneohtrix LPs (tied for my fave records of the year), apparently psych-jazz-funk & blissful drones are what do it for me. Also: Cluster, Alva Noto, Twin Shadow, Austra, Bruno Pronsato, Robert Wyatt, Kurt Vile, Roxy Music, Little Dragon, Bert Jansch (RIP).
As gross as it was to occasionally glance at the gory trainwreck that is dubstep’s devolution, it was pretty easy to ignore because motherfucker, there was ridiculous amount of dope dance music released this year. Still no new Aphex, but on the global tip, I was really encouraged by our community’s strong showing in the world of full length albums. Lord knows I’m a dude who likes to start at track 1 & let it ride. Underground dance music is a relentlessly fast-paced, single-driven machine, but 2011 saw a SHITLOAD of quality full length albums (and some comically bad flops as well). Instra:mental, Boxcutter (SLEPT ON), Machinedrum/Sepalcure, Salva, Africa Hitech, Kuedo, Modeselektor, FaltyDL, Egyptrixx, Zomby, Rustie & more (I’m forgetting) all contributed stand out full length players.
Some of this music I couldn’t even imagine outside of the album framework. I listened to FaltyDL’s You Stand Uncertain much more than other dance records this year, primarily because it was an album as a whole, with ebb & flow. There were pallet cleanser tunes, but there were tunes that also delivered the goods. In terms of a sit down listen, it did something which most dance full lengths fail to do for me – it made me forget I was listening to dance music. A tune like “The Pacifist” is built around restraint – there’s no drop – and MUSICALLY, its chords just wander around. It really reminds me of early Rephlex/Warp tunes, still adventurous will melody instead of looking for the perfect locked 4 bars to entrance a dancefloor with. His sound (heavily sample-based) is soooo his own… and it’s not pristine – there’s a lot of mess in the mix. Plus his hi-hat programming gives me erections.
Definitely interested to watch the 4/4 wave in 2012. I started off with electronic music listening to Speedy J – 4/4 & unconventional as fuck. Peeps like Andy Stott & Shed are constantly reminding us of the potency of that template when approached from another angle. There is a reason that house music doesn’t die – it is a fundamental form. With all the mad tempo games that have kept the last couple years stimulating, I think there are a lot of great ideas that will unfurl under the pinned pulse of kick drums over the next year. Don’t get me wrong, the 160 boom this year was amazing to watch, I couldn’t resist dipping in there as well.
Didn’t really connect with the cloud rap thing that much. There were some moments – A$AP’s “Peso” did it – but for the most part, I found myself trying hard to like something that seemed destined to fizzle into “… remember THAT dude…?” I just don’t know if anyone will really care about marginal rappers rhyming over Boards Of Canada biters in two years’ time. Agh, I’m old.
My friends make amazing music. Prison Garde finally unveiled his debut & showed what all our West Coast fuss was about. I want more music from Eames. Calamalka’s shit makes me feel like I make wonky for toddlers. And I reeeeally want Max Ulis to release a full length of his Boddika shit.
Tune of 2011: The Weeknd “Wicked Game”
I was a late comer to The Weeknd and ya know, I’ll just come out with it: I’m a career r&b HATER. I grew up listening to Wu-Tang, Co Flow & EPMD; pop r&b has been the enemy for much of my waking life. But yes, in 2010/11 (just like err’body else & they mom), I came around via The Dream, Drake, Ango & primarily through The Weeknd’s House Of Balloons. Again, so much charm in having something so fully evolved emerge out of the blue. Looking at my iTunes play count, I’ve revisited “Wicked Games” a frightening amount of times and it’s not glaringly obvious why… I think escapism is a large chunk of it; The Weeknd’s stark narcotic apathy is so foreign to my hopelessly optimistic take on life that I enjoy its stylish way of exposing the seedy underbelly of twenty-somethings locked in the endless cycle of urban hedonism. Abel Tesfaye’s harrowing, often depressing lyrics reek of Leonard Cohen’s darker verse to me. And that’s a good thing for my ears.
Top raver of 2011 would be Machinedrum’s “U Don’t Survive” – pretty sure I’ve rinsed that tune EVERY SET since it came out…