Despite concerns that technology shatters social interaction, there’s just something fantastic about sitting in the kitchen at 2 PM in San Francisco and watching a live club stream in London. No longer limited by space and time, the arising opportunities for dance music enthusiasts to discover and connect makes Mary Poppins’ bag look like a coin purse.
Take newcomer label Peach’s Somehow / Motion, out February 24th on vinyl and digital. Based in Brooklyn, the release features two originals from Berlin dweller Ratcatcher, alongside remixes from the UK’s Leon Vynehall, Benjamin Damage, and LA’s Cromie & Sage Caswell. There’s an array of styles here – from the originals’ marbled, melodious house to Benjamin Damage’s charred techno rework – that award the release a forward thinking edge not only in individual track production, but as a compiled whole whose diversity makes it all the more delectable.
Holding it down for house on this side of the pond, upcoming Angelinos Cromie (aka Nikola Hlady) and Sage Caswell (aka Sage Caswell) spike “Motion” into a dubbed out and gleaming spree, serving as a digital exclusive for Somehow / Motion. Synergy found in side room parties and Silverlake driveways drove their affinity for off-center energies and deep groove, making them both faces of a new LA scene and ideal artists for Peach, who also released their sold-out debut in 2013. For despite Hollywood and Vegas rub off, different vibes are brewing in Los Angeles’ Eastside clubs and warehouses – ones that put underrated house, techno, and disco on the 3 AM throne.
Though the dance scene in the states is arguably less “chic” than Europe’s, perhaps with Boiler Room, inboxes, Brooklyn record labels, and producers like Cromie and Sage, this quality “sound of underground” will trickle down, and elevator music will bump just that much better on your way up to work. As Cromie says, "The parties are mostly poppin' so I can't see it slowing down any time soon."
EARMILK: I heard through the grapevine that you guys are from near San Fernando Valley? Tell me how you went from there to spinning the “polysexual hard party” known dearly as LA's A Club Called Rhonda. Could you paint a little picture of the night for those who don’t know?
Sage Caswell: I’m not from the SFV, but I grew up really close to that area. I was raised in (what is considered) LA County in a city called Santa Clarita. The SFV proved to be a stomping ground for a handful of likeminded artists (most notably fellow Rhonda affiliate, James Del Barco), the parties I was attending served as a place to formally meet people who had developed internet based friendships.
Cromie: I didnt grow up in the SFV either, but I can tell you how I ended up spinning at A Club Called Rhonda. Having already been a Rhonda acolyte, the story started behind some turntables and a Urei mixer in a Silverlake driveway. I was playing some records when Goddollars arrived, joined me on the decks and it was a vibe. It was when our mutual appreciation for Nebraska tracks was unearthed that it all really blossomed. I sent him some music I was making and that lead to him scooping tracks for the Rhonda International label (which will be out soon come!) and led to me playing the parties. I was fortunate to have Sage join me (and Moodyman !!!) for a party around the time the Peach record came out and we had great fun.
SC: With regards to Rhonda, I don’t believe it possible to explain a “typical night”, as much of the enjoyment I get from the party is that it’s an ever-changing entity. New Years Eve saw Rhonda partner with downtown hotel, The Standard, for a 13-floor blowout. I watched Kim Ann [Foxman] on the roof, went downstairs and Kevin Saunderson was playing in a room that glowed in the dark. As far as this particular demographic is concerned, the party hosts a mixed vibe (typically, half gay/half straight) that I’d venture to say is currently unmatched in LA. You never know what you might get into when crossing that threshold; I suppose that’s half the fun.
C: Sage describes it well. The atmosphere is unmatched and it’s because the Rhonda team takes every component that makes for a good party into consideration. They put a lot of work and feeling into the party and its shows. Now, it kinda feels like church. And its true, besides really great music, you don't know what you might experience.
EM: The LA warehouse scene seems to really be alive right now. Since you’ve been here since your own beginnings, describe the evolution. Where do you see it going?
SC: There has definitely been increased interest in parties hosted at a “Secret Warehouse Location,” no doubt. I find myself gauging the ingenuity between each party, albeit, this can sometimes be a fruitless endeavor. I feel like that the “Warehouse Movement” is working in favor of the interests that people similar to me are pursuing. It’s like any other place, it’s just happening in LA now.
Different parties produce different vibes that obviously appeal to alternative demographics; that being said, certain parties have faired quite well, while others fall short of capturing said vibe. I’ve noticed some copycat styles recently, flyers and event pages looking the same. I know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but that shit is weak. I’m honored to have been involved in what people like Body High & Far Away are doing, that’s my favorite shit in the city, no doubt.
C: I mean, my understanding is that parties on the margins of legality have been going on in LA for a while now, but these days, you can take a look at any weekend and find music you'd wanna hear at some TBD location. That's obviously a good thing. From my experience doing the States of Being party, producing warehouse parties takes a lot of work and commitment, so it’s great that there's so much energy behind these parties and the music. But yea, some parties are better than others and I couldn't hit em all even if I tried. Sometimes it feels saturated, but the parties are mostly poppin so I can't see it slowing down any time soon.
SC: After all is said and done, I’m happy to be in LA right now. Come see us sometime.
EM: Ratcatcher’s, “Somehow”, as well as some of your productions – like “Pyrex” and Sage’s “Tribute 2 CC Archer” – have that deep, drowsy groove I adore. What types of experiences and music communities have you immersed yourself in that turned you onto such sound?
SC: I feel comfortable observing where we find ourselves now, as something that’s evolved organically. I think it’s cool that people like Ratcatcher (who lives in Berlin) are being sonically associated with something we’re doing in LA. My Family, friends, and life in general, are influential to me.
C: I can trace an affinity for the sounds in the tracks you mention back to going to some great dubstep parties in New York a few years ago when I was there for a bit, both in terms of sonics and community experiences. It was tight to see people come around what was at the time still a pretty niche style of music, and it got really exciting when DJs like Brackles and Untold started mixing in garage, house and other wild shit with the dubstep in a really exciting way. That opened up new worlds of music for me, and hearing dance music with a deeper jazzier bend built around samples really resonated. I try to convey a similar feeling in the tunes I make with Sage, that excitement from trying some interesting combinations and mixtures.
EM: What led you to working with each other? Tell me about the collaborative process.
SC: We met whilst sharing a rotating residency at Avalon in Hollywood. There’s a side room located just inside the club called, The Honey Lounge (Much respect out to Anthony & Cheyne for putting all those nights together). The lineup in the Honey Lounge was one of the first places in the city to catch people who weren’t being booked elsewhere; Floyd Campbell, Physical Therapy, Myrryrs, Ghosts On Tape, and DJ Sliink are just a few names that come to mind, but the list goes on. In retrospect, these nights were beneficial, as they created an environment that ultimately served as a meeting place for local & travelling Producer/DJs.
Anyways, I met Cromie there. We bounce between working together and separately. Usually it starts at my place, then back to his place. We do this like 8 or 9 times until we finalize whatever we’re working on.
C: Yea, we found some commonalities in the stuff we were playing there and were already exchanging tracks, so we ended up deciding to try out collaborating. The collaborative process has evolved a bit since we started working together, but is similar to how it all began. It was cool to follow this process for the Ratcatcher remix, but have parts from his original to play with while trying to impart our own vision.
EM: XLR8R recently featured you guys - as well as Ratcatcher - as artists to watch in 2014. Congrats! When did you know that being a musician was the route you would take?
SC: Many thanks, it's an honor to have been labeled as such by a source I follow and respect. I don't really consider myself a musician, although I played Bass for a few years. Basically, I started making tracks and genuinely enjoyed it, so I never really stopped. I still work a full time job to make a living, but music is something I feel passionate about and I'm happy to be further pursuing it.
C: Thanks so much, it was a super pleasant surprise. I don't remember when the exact no-looking-back moment occurred, but it definitely is like a virus in my life. I'm hooked and I can’t stop. I feel like whenever I have free time it’s like, “oh I should be working on music!” which I actually don’t think is a good thing, but sometimes I can’t resist that line of thinking. It is really a trip to think about where my musical pursuits are at now, where they started and it’s of course exciting to think about where they could take me. Basically, I needed a musical outlet, having had formal piano training when I was younger, but having stopped long before I started making tracks in Ableton and sharing them. I ended up feeling more fulfilled from producing and djing than I ever expected.
EM: Facilitate some music discovery for us. Give us a song you loved three years ago and one you love now.
SC: This is a raw question. I will counter this with my top 3 favorite tracks of 2009:
1. Glimpse & Alex Jones - True Friends [Kindisch]
2. Unknown Artist - The Answer (Gipsy Kink Remix) [UPS]
3. Oliver $ - The Greatest [Made To Play]
Currently, I'm feeling this new Sango on Soulection (Da Rochina 2), it's really good. Favorite song of 2014 thus far, "Everything Is Everything", by Gabriel Garzon-Montano. He got a record coming out on Styles Upon Styles in the coming weeks. It's really great music.
Sango – Maluco
Gabriel Garzon-Montano – Everything Is Everything
C: Picked this up, The Organ Grinder's first release on a whim at Amoeba because I vaguely remember Move D holding the record up to the camera during his Boiler Room set way back, and I wanted to pick up one more thing while shopping. But I love this tune to death, and still get so much pleasure out of playing it even three years later. It's such a simple little tune, but so catchy and it trumps pretty much all the retro throwback stuff people are still making these days.
The Organ Grinder – Obsession
Currently, I’m really feeling this stunning, dusty house music from some guy Boya on the consistent Mr. Saturday Night label. Got no words for this really, jaw-dropping for me.
Boya - That's Us
EM: And lastly, how are old are y’all? I am a big believer in both young LA and young Detroit. Final beliefs you'd like to share?
C: I'm a youthful 27. Hmm, nothing really, just do your thing and treat the people and communities you encounter along the way with respect.
Somehow / Motion