I’m sure there are many people out there who don’t understand electronic music and all of the fuss that is made over it. Why is it such a big deal? How do you even get into it? What’s to like about it? Isn’t it just a bunch of noise?
So, honestly, I used to hate electronic music. My freshman year of college, I still didn’t get it. It wasn’t until my sophomore year and my second year of living in San Francisco that I was introduced to it in a more positive way than before. I started going to shows, downloading music, having favorite artists, researching DJs, and buying tickets in advance for shows that were coming to town. I was officially obsessed. But I still remember the time when it just sounded like noise and made my head hurt more than made me want to get up and dance around the move.
He is a fellow San Francisco State University student who has lived for San Francisco for about three years and knows that there is a big electronic music scene here. As hard as he tries, however, he just doesn’t get it. I don’t want to say that Graham is completely hopeless in understanding electronica but he is definitely having a hard time with it — a much harder time that I had when I was trying to tap into the scene.
Take a look at Graham’s story. For those of who that just don’t get electronic music, know that you are not alone. Enjoy.
With all of the local talent in the Bay Area at events and clubs like Ritual, Redline, 1015 Folsom, BlowUp and Mezzanine just to name a few, I wanted to get to know what it is like behind the scenes for a native Bay Area DJ just emerging into the electronic music scene.
Let me present to you DJ LabRat. Travis Egner-Williams, the man behind the music, was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California. Known to the music scene at LabRat, he has just started performing in clubs and getting his music out to the public besides Internet communities like SoundCloud.
He talked to me about what it was like growing up in the Bay Area, getting into electronic music, how the scene has changed, and what the Bay Area needs to become an even more amazing place for electronic music. Check it out.
Q: What first got you into DJing?
A: I actually started making hip hop beats just for fun when my friends when I wasn’t into electronic dance music. Then I went to Earthdance Laytonville and heard dubstep for the first time and have been trying to produce it ever since. I’ve only started DJing recently as a result of seeing a lot of DJs who don’t produce their own music. I feel that DJing is an art but I also feel live DJ sets are opportunities for producers to showcase their work.
Q: Did you immediately start with electronic music?
A: I played guitar in a metal band called Crucifornication for a few years but when that kinda deteriorated I was looking for musical release, so I started playing around on some programs and have always been trying to progress since. I love the freedom of making music on computers.
Q: What was the club/music scene like as you were growing up?
A: I don’t know if it’s all I was listening to but it seemed primarily punk and reggae shows were what was available, and there were many. When I was in high school that’s what everyone went to, and now it seems like electronic music is where it’s at.
Q: Has the scene changed?
A: Well I wouldn’t say electronic dance music has taken over but has definitely made a presence. Not only are there more shows, bigger names are coming through Santa Cruz all the time. It also seems that a lot of younger kids have hopped on the electronic dance music bandwagon.
Q: What do you aspire to be, a DJ like Rusko and touring the world or someone who will stay true to their home area? What do you want to be known for?
A: I just want to get my music on pat with what I like and I know my stuff isn’t there yet but I’m not going to stop until I’m satisfied. My goal is just to be able to play festivals. It’s where I first heart electronic dance music and to this day I will say it’s the best way to experience it.
Q: What artists do you look up to or inspire you?
A: I’m a big fan of early Jazz-fusion like Chick Corea and Al Di Meola, but as far as who I look up to in the electronic dance music world, I would have to say Tipper (UK), bar none. I absolutely love his music and every time I hear it I wanna make music. I’m also seeing big productions from Opiuo (Australia), Dodge and Fuski (UK), Roksonix (UK), Pendulum, Stephan Jacobs (SoCal), Builder (Santa Cruz) and Doctor P (UK).
Q: Has it been difficult to get into venues and get your music out?
A: I’m in no rush to push my music because I feel it’s only going to get better. I put all my music up for free downloads on my SoundCloud and thats mostly how people hear about me. So no, it hasn’t been hard to get my music out although it would be nice to get on a label and get some official releases on Beatport and whatnot.
Q: What was your first show like?
A: My first show went pretty well. I played at my friend’s birthday party and everyone loved it. I was nervous as hell but I didn’t have any technical difficulties, which I’m always deathly afraid of.
Q: Is the Bay Area a good place for electronic music to thrive?
A: I think the Bay Area is a great place for electronic dance music. I think there just needs to be a place online where Bay Area DJs, producers, and promoters can come together and trade ideas and make connections. If that happened I think it would grow at a much faster rate.
LabRat will be performing at 1015 Folsom this Wednesday, March 16, along with other local DJs including CARRIER (San Francisco), Carly-D & Dr. Knobz (Oakland), Johnny5 (Oakland), and Smizzle (San Jose).
When non-natives think of San Francisco, I feel like the images that come to their minds are hippies, weed, and people that are trying to be environmentally friendly. Sure, we have all of those things. But we also have a really good sense of community – be it in the dubstep/electronic music world or getting together to work on a community garden.
I recently sat down with Morgan Fitzgibbons, co-founder of a San Francisco community organization called the Wigg Party. They focus on being a leader in their hyperlocal community of the Wiggle (which extends from lower Haight to the Panhandle) regarding sustainability and resilience.
They want to have fun with it, to inspire other people to follow their lead. They wear wigs, listen to electronic music, and talk about the important things impacting their community while hoping to kick up involvement with the younger generations existing in the city. Originally wanting to start in the mission, they chose the area surrounding the Panhandle to influence its young inhabitants to become more involved.
Anyone is welcome to join, but they do take their work seriously, even though they try to have fun with it. After all, the Wigg Party’s slogan is “If it’s not fun, it’s not sustainable.”
Take a listen to Morgan, the man behind the mission, as he explains what the Wigg Party does.
To read a more personal version of Morgan’s story, check out his story and additional photos by Julie Michelle from her website iliveheresf.com – Her stuff is awesome!
As the month of February comes to a close, it is a good week for dubstep and for people to get out and let loose in the Bay Area.
Tonight, EPR – Electric Pop Rocks – returns to 525 Howard St. This time, it’s EPR’s Dubstep edition, featuring 12th Planet, Nit Grit, Getter, KTheory, and more. Presale tickets were available, but now you can only get them at the door. Get there early! The show goes from 9 pm to 2 am but over 1,000 people have already given their RSVP. To find out more about the lineup, take a peek at fellow dubstep blog Bayss, in a post EPR/DPR 139 Brings Us To 12th Planet, by Hunter Mulich.
This Friday, February 25, Eternal Frequency presented by Collective Unity will be going on in Sacramento. There are two stages, one solely dedicated to dubstep. The lineup includes 7 Electro/House DJs and 6 Dubstep or Drum&Bass DJs, including DJ Getter – who will also be at EPR! Although this isn’t in San Fran this time, it should still be given recognition since it’s in the Bay Area. And it’s All (Reponsible!) Ages!
For those that dont want to go all the way to Sacramento this weekend, check out Club 6 at 60th Sixth Street, between Market and Mission in SoMA. This week they are kicking off their Bass Time Continuum -their contribution to SF dubstep fans- to happen every other Friday. The lineup currently consists of all San Francisco DJs: UltraViolet, Mr. Kitt, and Stressknot. It’s only $5 after 10 pm!
If summer is the time for festivals around the United States, then it appears that spring is the time for electronic music. Between now and the end of April, the Bay Area has an influx of amazing performers, both well known and unknown.
BlowUp had its grand opening at the DNA Lounge this past Friday, February 11 with music by local residents The Tenderlions and guests Midnight Conspiracy blasting the speakers.
The line was down around the block for advance ticket holders, forcing people who didn’t previously buy tickets to wait until 12 AM in the cold on 11th St. to be let in.
As for the rest of February, Nebakaneza (dubstep), who hails from Oakland, will be at Ritual Dubstep at Temple (Ritual is always free and goes until 3 AM!) this thursday February 17. I HIGHLY recommend checking out Nebakaneza’s blog if you are just getting into Bay Area dub or are looking for other dubstep artists/blogs to follow.
Chromeo (electro-funk) will be promoting their new album Business Casual with a sold out show at the Fox on Friday the 18th, and for all those Jersey Shore lovers, DJ Pauly D will be at union square club Ruby Skye on Saturday.
Crystal Castles (electropop) starts off the month of March with a show at the Warfield, and HARDfest kicks off their year with their spring tour of Fake Blood (electro/grindcore) and Destructo (techno) at the Fox in Oakland on March 11, the same day that Designer Drugs (electro/house) dirties up the DNA Lounge at BlowUp. The next day, March 12, Axwell from Swedish House Mafia (dance) will be at Ruby Skye. Also Excision (dub/drum & bass) will be at the Regency Ballroom the same night.
For all the people that want some new, raw, local dubstep, I know of an event put on by Akashic Records SF on March 5. More info to come.
Again at Ruby Skye, Kaskade (dance/house/trace) begins April with a performance on the 2nd, and The Crystal Method (electro/dance) will also be there on April 8th.
Rusko (dubstep), who originally got beef for reportedly producing Britney Spears’ new single Hold It Against Me, kicks off his 2011 tour at the Fox in Oakland on April 14.
Another third of the three-man group Swedish House Mafia appears at Ruby Skye on April 14. This time the appearance will be made by Steve Angello! If you want to learn a little more about Swedish House Mafia, check out this documentary about these guys, called Take One.
The next day, Grammy winner Afrojack (dance) also spins into Ruby Skye.
All of these artists are kind of blowing my mind a little bit. With all of this happening, I have just enough time to turn 21 right in the middle of it, which I am ridiculously excited about. I think the biggest problem I have is choosing which shows to go to!
Electronic music has been around for a while. From underground music scenes in the UK to massive raves all around Europe, techno, house, and other forms seemed to be what people were listening to. But, truthfully, it really wasn’t my thing.
But that was then. I grew up in Napa, where the only things I really learned outside of school were how to drink and where the nice restaurants are. Since moving to San Francisco 3 years ago, my entire lineup of things I like to do has changed. Not surprisingly, one of those involves electronic music.
Three weeks ago, I returned to San Francisco from studying abroad in northern Italy for 5 months. One of the things that I noticed most while being away was how different their music scene is from California’s. Although I constantly heard the same 3 Rihanna songs and the same multiple Lady Gaga songs that played all last year, I was also introduced to other artists that not very many people seemed to listen to while I was in California. I started getting more into these artists and then I was completely enveloped in the European electronic music scene. One of the highlights of my European adventure was traveling to Belgium for I Love Techno. And it was awesome.
When I got home, I got to thinking: Why is it so different in the U.S. than in Europe? One of my first thoughts was dubstep. Dubstep seems to be everywhere, especially in the Bay Area. Festivals like Coachella (which sold out 3 months in advance), BFD, and Outside Lands have all featured areas for electronic music lovers to go and get down, but in recent years those tents have been more and more wobbly with more dubstep and electronic beats blasting from the sound systems. Ultra in Miami is an electro-only 3-day music festival featuring artists from all over the world. Burning Man is a completely different subject altogether, but still incorporates all forms of music from the electronic world, with lots of followers and bloggers excited for this year’s event.
As for the Bay Area, there is always a show or event to go to and ways to find out about them. There are a lot of free or cheap venues, like Ritual and Redline in SoMa, to California Academy of Sciences, which hosts a nightlife event on Thursdays with electronic music. Blogs like Gotta Dance Dirty, The Filth, and DaftWho give people the lowdown on where to go and also what tracks have just been released.
But this blog isn’t just about where to go and how to see cheap shows. It’s also about the local talent that entertains SF. This Friday, the Tenderlions, who are from San Francisco, will be at the DNA Lounge, the new venue to host BlowUp, which has been bringing local (and also non-local) DJs to San Francisco for the past couple years.
So let’s turn the music up, stay out ’til dawn, and see what San Francisco has to offer.