7 Tips for Starting Your Own DIY Music Festival

This article appeared originally on THUMP Canada.

Since starting in 2007, Halifax’s OBEY Convention has established itself by continuously rallying behind artists and sounds that exist along the periphery. Despite being based in a relatively isolated Atlantic Canadian city best known for its contributions to Celtic music and indie rock, that sees fewer touring bands throughout the year, the festival will celebrate their tenth anniversary May 25-28.

What began as a DIY showcase for founder Darcy Spidle’s label DIVORCE Records, has grown into an annual multi-venue gathering that’s seen performances from Canadian and international artists including Mykki Blanco, Tim Hecker, Julianna Barwick, Le1f, RP Boo, and more. For the 2017 edition, the organizers have put together yet another incredible lineup, featuring Philadelphia noise producer Moor Mother, Virginia-based experimental artist Elysia Crampton, Montreal avant-garde composer Kara-Lis Coverdale, and New York industrial duo Uniform.

We recently spoke with Spidle by phone, and creative director Andrew Patterson and executive director Kat Shubaly via Skype, to learn about OBEY’s humble beginnings and the secrets to their success.


Tropic of Cancer, OBEY Convention VII

1. Have a strong premise and build on a community that exists.

The festival was born out of DIVORCE Records, the experimental and noise punk label Spidle started in 1999, as a place for “weirdos to converge.” “When OBEY started it was the hangover from the ‘Halifax-is-the-next-Seattle’ thing. There was a lot of big acts like Sloan and Thrush Hermit, and there was this culture that you could really make it as a pop rock band in Halifax,” says Patterson. “I think the really rich underground punk scene of bands like Be Bad and Torso were responding to that culture.”

While experimental music often gets a bad name for being too academic or elitist, points out Spidle, the convention’s goal was to present another side to the genre. “With the festival I wanted to show things that were exciting and weird, not stuffy or boring,” he explains. “OBEY was trying to present another side of that: people making weird music in their bedrooms, not in universities.”

2. You don’t have to do it alone.

After four years of the festival, Spidle took a break and admits he wasn’t sure he was going to come back. But spurred on by a friend, he registered OBEY as a non-profit, and started handing the reins over to people like Patterson and Shubaly, who both got involved around 2013. He says he still helps out where he’s needed, but is “very, very grateful that they stepped up and took it over, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

Bing & Ruth, OBEY Convention VIII

3. Be adaptable to change.

Over the years, Spidle says OBEY has evolved from a punk and noise festival to bigger, soft-seater shows, graduating from venues like Gus’ Pub to Fort Massey United Church. “We’ve had people like [free jazz saxophonist] Peter Brötzmann. I see the connection between what he does and punk music and noise music,” he says. “Whether it’s a New Age zither player or [power electronics act] Bastard Noise, there’s a subversive element, I see it as a part of a similar rejection of the mainstream.

Shubaly adds that with the exodus of Halifax artists in recent years, they’ve looked to other Canadian scenes like Montréal, while including more international artists. “The term I like to use is ‘underrepresented music,’ which sort of allows for an openness of genre and identity, and culture,” explains Patterson. “It isn’t about punk music specifically or electronic music specifically, it’s a platform for voices that otherwise go underrepresented in Halifax.”

4. There will always be setbacks, but they’ll help define you.

Even after building up its reputation, all of the organizers admit it can be difficult drawing acts to play at the festival. “There’s a risk too. It’s a catch-22. Do I spend the money on an artist, knowing I’ll make half of it back? Will this person come, do I have enough money to entice this person to come, is there somewhere nearby for them to stop after?” says Shubaly. “You try and make it worthwhile for people that come here.”

“Because we don’t get a lot of touring bands, there’s a lot of support for local music and the bar isn’t set so high,” Patterson says. “You’re never going to see Brian Eno, but you can see Laraaji, and that’s pretty amazing.” Spidle explains the city’s size and the experimental scene’s size relative to that haven’t hindered the festival at all, since “half our audience is typically out of province,” which he credits to their marketing. “Logistically it’s a very difficult festival to pull off, but it’s a labour of love in a lot of ways,” he says.

Special Costello, OBEY Convention VII

5. Don’t repeat yourself.

“There’s so many festivals,” sighs Patterson. “A lot of the major festivals here, and even some of the indie ones all have the same headliners, every other year. They have this stable of artists because they know they’ll sell tickets, just playing it safe on the business side at the cost of the aesthetic or the audience’s experience. With us, someone always says ‘God who else would book that band?’ I think we have a role and are obligated in a way, but also feel grateful to hold that space.”

6. Don’t be afraid to dream (literally).

Patterson admits that at least several of the organizers’ best ideas have come from the depths of their imaginations. Last year, they made OBEY free for everyone under 19, an objective that came to the founder in a dream. “It started with Darcy calling me and saying ‘I had a dream last night where we did this, and I woke up and posted it on Twitter,'” recalls Patterson, who adds they hope to continue the policy for years to come.

7. Make it accessible to people outside your immediate audience.

“This year we were able to realize one of the dreams Kat and I have had for awhile, getting our festival posters printed in multiple languages,” says Patterson. Through a friend at Common Roots Urban Farm, a Halifax community garden which attracts new Canadian immigrants as plot owners and volunteers, they were able to arrange the translation of a show flyer to Arabic, Swahili, and Nepali. The creative director views reaching out to these communities—who might not be familiar with the music—as underlooked opportunities to reach new audiences.

“There’s something special about OBEY happening in this town that’s not totally tuned in to what we’re doing,” he says. “If you can convince someone to walk into a Moor Mother show, you’re going to blow their mind.”

To get tickets and find out more info about OBEY Convention X, head over to their website.

Michael Rancic is on Twitter.

The Sleep-Deprived Raver's Guide to Movement 2017's Afterparties

If club kids had their own holiday calendar, then Detroit’s Movement is techno Christmas. Once a year, rave crews from all over America congregate in dance music’s homeland for a long weekend of spiritual renewal and self-indulgence. There are boat parties. Fireworks. Daytime BBQs. Nighttime rendezvous.

And, as in everything in life, the best moments are often unexpected—like when I stumbled into Moodymann’s home last year after hanging outside the Underground Resistance headquarters, or watched a DIY play about Detroit’s musical history after someone handed me a flyer.

But serendipity only goes so far. In order to get the most out of Detroit’s booming post-festival party scene, you have to know where to look.

Below, we culled together all the best events—from 14-hour modular synth marathons to an experimental noise festival to hardcore gay raves—into one handy party chart. See you in the D.

THURSDAY, MAY 25

1. 2lanes Auto Shop

Who: R Gamble, Sublimate (Turtle Bugg & Sagotsky), Olga
Where: Leland Social Club
When: 10PM-4AM

Detroit’s Joey 2Lanes teams up with Brooklyn’s Sublimate crew and friends for a cozy pre-party geared towards “techno cowboys and ambient cowgirls.” Guaranteed to be a homies-only vibe.

2. Marble Bar presents: Juan Atkins, Claude Young / Metroplex Night

Who: Juan Atkins, Claude Young, + a “very special guest”
Where: Marble Bar
When: 8PM-2AM

Juan Atkins founded Metroplex in 1985, and the label has played an integral role over the last three decades in transmitting Detroit techno to Berlin and beyond. Co-hosted by Deep Space Radio, this label showcase is for the old-school heads.

FRIDAY, MAY 26

3. Eden III: Feat. SHXCXCHCXSH, Phase Fatale, Patricia, Volvox, Umfang, Jasen Loveland

Who: SHXCXCHCXSH, Phase Fatale, Patricia
Where: Tangent Gallery
When: 9PM-4AM

Swedish techno duo SHXCXCHCXSH kicks off their US tour with a choice lineup of supporting acts, including Detroit up-and-comer Jasen Loveland. Murky techno for the cerebral set.

4. Smartbar Movement opening party + BBQ

Who: Derek Plaslaiko b2b Jason Kendig, DJ Minx, Chrissy
Where: TV Lounge
When: 6PM-4AM

Chicago meets Detroit at Smartbar’s annual Movement takeover, which has become a tradition in itself. The cincher: FREE BBQ. Need we say more?

5. Physical Therapy III

Who: Matthew Dear, Shigeto, Mike Servito
Where: Marble Bar
When: 6PM-4AM

Matthew Dear, Mike Servito, and Shigeto planted their roots in Michigan before making it on the global stage. Here, the three DJs—all of Asian descent—will be joined by Laurel Halo, Carlos Souffrant, and many others. Come for the Slayzians, stay for the Ghostly squad.

6. Blank Code + SYSTEM + Communion Official Movement Pre-Party

Who: Alessandro Cortini (live), Black Asteroid, Jay Denham
Where: The Works
When: 5PM-6AM

Longtime Detroit promoters Blank Code and Communion join Minneapolis’ System and California’s BL_K NOISE for a night of modular synths, and noisy experimental sounds. As an RA commenter put it, bring a helmet to this one.

7. Trip Metal Fest

Who: Wolf Eyes, Pharmakon, Container
Where: El Club
When: Friday-Sunday, 6PM-Midnight

Less of an “afterparty” and more of an entire mini-festival in itself, Wolf Eyes’ celebration of the Mid-Western experimental scene is back after the success of last year’s debut. The three-day event is no longer free but “pay what you want”—which might not look as good on a billboard ad, but is still a pretty damn good deal.

SATURDAY, MAY 27

8. The Belleville Three & Richie Hawtin @ the Masonic Temple

Who: The Belleville Three, Richie Hawtin, Derek Plaslaiko
Where: The Masonic Temple
When: 11PM-4AM

Atkins, May and Saunderson throw down with Hawtin and Plaslaiko at the Masonic Temple’s giant ballroom, forming a celebrity super-group that will vanquish the enemy: fist-pumping techno bros. Hopefully.

9. Detroit Love @ the Magic Stick

Who: Carl Craig, Moodymann, Andres
Where: Magic Stick
When: 11PM-4AM

Throw yourself into the arms of the delightfully eccentric, Prince-loving Moodymann, as well as Carl Craig and Andres, for a guaranteed good time. The O.G. Detroit vibes here are strong.

10. RBMA Presents: Soul Clap’s House of EFUNK

Who: Soul Clap, Biz Markie, Benoit & Sergio (live)
Where: TV Lounge
When: 10PM-12PM

When your soul starts to get weary from all the pummeling 4/4, Soul Clap’s 14-hour funk marathon is where you’ll go. Don’t miss hip-hop pioneer Biz Markie’s all-45″ DJ set and Scott Grooves’ new project, Overdubs.

11. Discwoman Detroit

Who: Shanti Celeste, Volvox, Umfang
Where: Grenadier Club
When: 10PM-6AM

Discwoman returns to Detroit with rising star Shanti Celeste, crew stalwarts Volvox and Umfang, and many others, bringing a much-needed wallop of techno feminism to a weekend still dominated by all-male lineups. 10 percent of proceeds from this party also benefit the Ruth Ellis Center, an organization for LGBT homeless youth in Detroit.

12. Tresor: Berlin/Detroit

Who: Marcellus Pittman, Ron Morelli, Claude Young
Where: Tangent Gallery
When: 10PM-7AM

Tresor teams up with Interdimensional Transmissions for a new party celebrating the deep connections between their two cities, Berlin and Detroit, with L.I.E.S. boss Ron Morelli, Intergalactic Gary, and many others. If you’re lucky, you might even see Tresor founder Dimitri Hegemann on the dancefloor—or quietly snoozing in a chair.

13. Texture

Who: Lena Willikens, Fred P, Mike Dunn
Where: Marble Bar
When: 10PM-11:59PM

If you’re going to marathon party, do it with the inestimable Cologne-based crate digger Lena Willikens, who joins New York house don Fred P and others at this 14-hour party hosted by longtime Detroit promoter Texture.

14. Tied presents: Detroit Boat Cruise with Daniel Bell

Who: Daniel Bell
Where: The Diamond Belle Boat
When: 1PM-4PM

Detroit’s Daniel Bell plays a three-hour set on this boat cruise by Chicago-based promoter Tied. If you like getting wavy to minimal techno, this one’s for you.

15. Deep Detroit

Who: Patrice Scott, Kai Alcé, Galcher Lustwerk
Where: The Studio Detroit
When: 10PM-5AM

Deep house and dusty techno grooves from Patrice Scott, Kai Alcé, and Galcher Lustwerk. Roll one up and roll through.

16. The Barge Movement Boat Party

Who: Worthy
Where: The Diamond Queen Boat
When: 12:30PM-4PM

Dirtybird’s Worthy headlines this 18+, booty-clapping boat party. Not for the faint of heart—or anyone over 30.

17. Club Toilet

Who: Aaron Clark, DJ Shiva, Ryan Smith
Where: Olympus Theater
When: 10PM-10AM

DJs from some of America’s top gay party crews, including Pittsburgh’s Honcho and LA’s Spotlight, are back for Movement’s filthiest afterparty. BYO toilet paper—you can thank us later.

Photo by Lyndon French

SUNDAY, MAY 28

18. Dirtybird Players Detroit

Who: Claude VonStroke, Justin Martin, J.Phlip
Where: The Fillmore
When: 10PM-4AM

The Dirtybird crew is only doing one party in Detroit this year—and this is it. Mayhem guaranteed from the post-EDM, trap-loving set.

19. Country Club Disco + Fk A Genre

Who: Mija, Billy Kenny, Golf Clap
Where: The Annex
When: 10PM-4AM

OWSLA star Mija is the main reason to go to this official Movement afterparty, which will descend on a club that’s a short walk away from the festival grounds. She’s everything.

20. KMS 30

Who: Kevin Saunderson, Robert Hood/Floorplan, The Saunderson Brothers
Where: The Magic Stick
When: 11PM-4AM

Kevin Saunderson founded KMS in 1987, and the stacked lineup at its party this year is a testament to the celebrated techno label’s enduring influence. In addition to Robert Hood as Floorplan, Saunderson’s two sons, Dantiez and Damarii, will also be playing—techno fam at its realest.

21. Adam Beyer presents Drumcode

Who: Adam Beyer, Nicole Moudaber, Keith Kemp
Where: The Masonic Temple
When: 11PM-4AM

No dance festival afterparty scene is complete without some adrenaline-pumping Drumcode techno. This time around, label leader Adam Beyer is joined by perennial favorite Nicole Moudaber and Paxahau’s resident DJ Keith Kemp.

22. Night/Day Party w/ Omar-S, DJ Stingray & more

Who: Omar-S, DJ Stingray, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Where: El Club
When: 11:55PM-2PM

Once the Trip Metal kids have left for the night, underground venue El Club plays host to Detroit luminaries Omar-S and DJ Stingray, as well as Los Angeles-based modular synth wizard Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. Not to be missed.

23. No Way Back

Who: BMG, Erika, Derek Plaslaiko
Where: Tangent Gallery
When: 11PM-12PM

Interdimensional Transmissions and The Bunker’s annual afterparty is perhaps the most anticipated gathering of America’s techno illuminati every year—and their 10th anniversary is guaranteed to be extra special. Don’t forget to stay for the turnover into Industry Brunch, when fresh fruit is served at daybreak.

24. Interface – Scene 2017

Who: DVS1, Ø [Phase], Tommy Four Seven
Where: The Works
When: 9PM-9AM

DJs from Hush, Token Records, Blank Code, and other top techno joints join forces for this 12-hour romp.

25. ReSolute Goes Detroit

Who: Daniel Bell, Lauren Ritter, Connie
Where: Exodus Lounge
When: 7AM-7PM

Longtime New York rave crew ReSolute is doing a day party in Detroit this year with headliner Daniel Bell. Forgetting your sunglasses would be a big mistake.

26. OK, Cool!

Who: John Tejada, Honey Dijon, Danny Daze
Where: TV Lounge
When: 9PM-10AM

New York’s Honey Dijon makes her TV Lounge debut at this five-year anniversary of OK, Cool, joined by founders Dax Lee, Ted Krisko, and Mister Joshua. Sure to be a sophisticated affair.

27. Perfect Driver Loft Party

Who: DJ Godfather, Intermodal, ADMN
Where: The Claridge House
When: 10:30AM-5PM

Los Angeles-based house music and bass label Perfect Driver celebrates its fifth anniversary at an intimate loft party with free pizza and an open bar. We repeat: free pizza and open bar.

28. Dixon b2b Troxler

Who: Dixon b2b Seth Troxler
Where: Leland City Club
When: 10PM-6AM

Dixon b2b Troxler is basically catnip for the tech-house Ibiza-going crowd. This one’s already sold out, but maybe you could get in if you wore your blackest V-neck.

29. Onlythebeat presents: Shipfaced Detroit with Golf Clap

Who: Golf Clap, Eyes Everywhere, Imjustinbraun
Where: The Diamond Queen Boat
When: 12PM-3PM

Detroit house duo Golf Clap take the reigns at this boat party from dance music blog Onlythebeat. The salty sea air should do you some good.

MONDAY, MAY 29

30. Movement Official Closing Party

Who: Carl Cox b2b Joseph Capriati
Where: Masonic Temple
When: 11PM-4AM

Carl Cox is closing out Movement’s official closing party by sharing the decks with Italian techno don Joseph Capriati. Oh yes, oh yes!

31. Need I Say More XII

Who: TBA
Where: Old Miami
When: 7:15AM-7PM

Despite never announcing their lineup, Seth Troxler’s closing party at a dingy local dive bar is notorious for its long lines. The #1 destination for hardcore partiers with an infinite appetite for hedonism.

32. Memo presents Loefah, Hops & Monty Luke

Who: Loefah, Hops & Monty Luke
Where: El Club
When: 9PM-4AM

After a week of raving, submerging yourself in a sea of subwoofers and low-end vibrations at this new afterparty for the bass heads might count as self-care.

33. Interdimensional Transmissions presents: The Bunker

Who: Hot Mix (Mike Servito, Justin Cudmore, Gunnar Haslam), Antenes
Where: Tangent Gallery
When: 10PM-6AM

New York’s favorite techno boyband—Mike Servito, Justin Cudmore, Gunnar Haslam—get together as Hot Mix for this unmissable Bunker showcase.

34. Where Are MY Keys Detroit Edition

Who: Young Marco, Tim Sweeney, Honey Soundsystem
Where: Marble Bar
When: 9AM-6AM

Hosted by Beats in Space Radio, this function will be full of crate-digging house, disco, and other left-field specials from Amsterdam’s Young Marco, New York’s Tim Sweeney, and SF’s Honey Soundsystem.

35. Dirty Epic presents: Anthology 2017 with Stroboscopic Artefacts

Who: Lucy, Terrence Parker, Carlos Souffront
Where: The Works
When: 10PM-7AM

For everyone left standing on Tuesday morning, Lucy’s Stroboscopic Artefacts is where you go to prove you’re the hardest motherfucker out there.

36. Industry Brunch
Who: Shawn Rudiman, John Barera, FBK (live)
Where: Tangent Gallery
When: 12PM-9PM

Living up to its name, Industry Brunch is where you’ll meet techno crews rolling deep from all over the country while munching on strawberries at sunrise. Don’t sleep.

Michelle Lhooq is documenting her Detroit misadventures on Twitter

I've Been Locked Out of My New York Loft For Over Two Years

In 2015, Brooklyn-based musician and lo bit landscapes label owner Arthur Purvis, along with a number of other residents, was locked out of the Williamsburg live/work space where he’d resided for 13 years—with many of his possessions still inside. Following multiple visits to their home, the Department of Buildings had deemed that the spot, like many converted living spaces in New York, wasn’t up to code. Hoping to return home, he and his housemates leaned on the city’s Loft Law, which is meant to work with landlords to eliminate residential safety and fire hazards while protecting tenants from eviction. They are still locked out two and a half years later.

Now, Purvis is campaigning to reform the Loft Law, which was amended in 2010 by then-mayor Michael Bloomberg to require tenants to apply for legal loft status by June 15, 2017 or risk not being covered by the law—along with a number of other restrictions that make it harder to convert their spaces into legal residences. Alongside housing advocacy group NYC Loft Tenants, Purvis is helping organize a rally in Brooklyn today to raise awareness about Loft Law issues. Here, Purvis tells THUMP what it was like to be locked out of his home, and how that’s driven him to become an activist for DIY spaces and their residents. The views and opinions expressed here are the views of Purvis alone and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of VICE Media LLC or any of its employees.

In the mid-2000s, I was part of contingent of artists and musicians in Williamsburg who slowly transformed six floors of unused industrial space in a building in South Williamsburg into homes and creative work spaces. The building was occupied by residents and small business owners who invested huge amounts of our own time and money to build a community that included multiple recording studios, a synth repair shop, bike repairs, furniture design operation, and a large and successful video production company. Numerous DJs and producers who were part of the Brooklyn electronic music scene lived, worked, and played in our building. It was a true creative refuge, deep in a corner of Williamsburg that—at the time—no one saw fit to develop.

In 2015, that all came to halt when the DOB informed us that our building was in need of some repairs, and ordered us to temporarily vacate the premises while our landlord addressed some of the violations.

And so, 25 people found themselves out on the street with only 24 hours notice. Those of us who made the building our home had to scramble to find accommodations. Those of us who made it a place of business had to lay off all their employees and leave behind tens of thousands of dollars of capital investment.

Photo by Arthur Purvis

Fortunately for us New Yorkers, unlike most other US cities, New York actually does have a law that allows for the legalization of creative live/work spaces. It’s called the Loft Law of 1982, and it provides a pathway to compliance for both tenants and landlords in this type of living situation. In practical terms, this means that landlords can’t kick out tenants because the city has deemed that a building is not up to code, and that the tenants and the landlord are supposed to work together to do the repairs. In return for their efforts, the tenants receive rent stabilization, and the landlord doesn’t have his building hit with exorbitant fines for the code violations.

When shit hit the fan and our front door was slapped with large sign that read “Premises Have Been Vacated by the DOB,” we started the process for protection under the Loft Law. We met the requirements for the coverage, and once we started the process, the DOB was supposed to make sure that basic repairs were made by the landlord and we were returned to our homes.

There are very few upsides to being locked out of your place, but one of them is that you start to receive substantial assistance not just from sympathetic members of city council and the fire department, but also from a good number of state assembly members and senators. They made calls for us, set up meetings—the works. We traversed massive deserts of bureaucracy and roaring oceans of red tape, and eventually climbed our way all the way up to mayor De Blasio’s office—but our problem still hasn’t been resolved.

Photo by Arthur Purvis

To this day, two and a half years later, we are still locked out, and our possessions have not been returned. The woodworking tools of professional craftsmen, record collections of professional DJs, and innumerable personal possessions of a large number of tenants are still locked in the building, behind doors no city agency seems willing to compel the landlord to open. It’s had a huge impact on the livelihood of many residents, as they now don’t have the tools to do their jobs.

In the time since the vacate order, of course, we have not been idle. We filed a complaint and an administrative law judge has found that almost all of us are protected occupants of the space under the Loft Law and has recommended that the Loft Board grant our application.

Photo by Josh Steinbauer

Our case will probably have a happy ending, eventually—after years of work and massive legal bills many tenants can scarcely afford. But we’re not the only community out there like this, and the Loft Board is going to stop taking applications for coverage on June 15 of this year because of provisions famously pro-landlord Mayor Bloomberg had inserted into the law.

Other communities out there like ours who didn’t hear about the Loft Law—because it is intentionally poorly publicized—are going to get fucked, plain and simple. That’s why we feel a responsibility to fight hard for the expansion of the Loft Law to as many city residents as could qualify—not just the select few who manage to hear about it, happened to live in a space in an arbitrary window period back in 2010, and manage to apply for it by a certain date. We can’t allow the loft law—as the single best legal tool in the entire country to defend creative spaces from abuse by the city and condo builders—to die. People in Soho in the 80s and 90s and Brooklyn in the 2000s fought hard for the protections we’re eventually going to receive, and we need to pay it forward.

The upside of this whole struggle is the reminder that we are the government. If you believe that the arts and creative spaces in NYC are worth fighting for, you can make an impact. But you have to start by showing up and meeting your local politicians. Some of them really are amazing and really do have your back in a jam, and a lot of the elected officials who helped us out, including Council Member Stephen Levin and Assemblywoman Maritza Davila, have said they will be at the rally on Thursday. The others we need to vote out of office as soon as possible.

Jlin is Making the Most Aggressively Beautiful Music You've Ever Heard

Chicago’s relationship to its eastern neighbor, Indiana, is one of selfish convenience. For starters, gasoline is basically free in comparison to the nearly $3 per gallon you pay in the city. Those living on Chicago’s South Side never shy away from flocking to the border—anywhere from five to 30 minutes from home—to fill up their tanks for the upcoming work week. It’s a Sunday ritual for many, along with snagging a few cartons of cigarettes, since they, too, are cheaper on the other side.

But there’s another tradition Chicagoans have, one that causes them to make a special trip across the state line at the height of every summer: fireworks. In Chicago, pyrotechnics are banned for consumer use, though it never truly seems like that in the weeks before and after the Fourth of July. Just take a ride through any neighborhood on the South or West side, and you’re likely to be startled by militant booms. “One monkey don’t stop no show,” as the saying goes.

There’s a plethora of colorful billboards lining I-94 in Indiana, guiding you to fireworks stores the size of supermarkets. Jerrilynn Patton, the 29-year-old producer from Gary, a city just 30 miles outside of Chicago, witnesses this pilgrimage to her home state every year. In her three-acre backyard, we can hear them going off in the cloudy distance. Since it’s legal to buy and shoot firecrackers in Gary—a once-booming steel town with a declining population of about 77,000—it’s not out of the ordinary to hear them on a random Wednesday like today.

“People’s obsession with fireworks in this area is insane,” Patton says. Her childhood home, where she still lives with her parents, is secluded in a suburban-style subdivision, about 15 minutes south of downtown Gary. Patton appears to be one of those “obsessed” people herself. Dressed in cargo shorts and a black hoodie—with a black bandanna to harness her dreadlocks, which she’s just gotten retwisted—Patton smiles while reminiscing about the time in 2014 when she bought $200 worth with a paycheck from one of her first jobs, at US Steel’s East Chicago Tin Mill. She popped them all herself, too.

Known across the world as Jlin, Patton is one of the biggest risk-takers in dance music. She got her start with a couple of tracks on the 2011 Bangs & Works Vol. 2 compilation from Planet Mu, pushing footwork beyond its traditional function as the soundtrack for skilled street dancers to something more moody and expressionist. Chattery vocal samples and asymmetrical kick-drum patterns are staples of the genre, but Jlin’s take somehow felt even more blistered and broken. Her 2015 debut album on Planet Mu, Dark Energy, wasn’t completely removed from her frenetic footwork roots, but its physics were weird, as though she were breaking open the very grid on which footwork was built.

She quickly developed a following in experimental music communities—earning slots at Poland’s Unsound Festival and a #1 spot on the Wire’s top albums list—but she also found fans outside that world. In 2014, Designer Rick Owens nabbed Patton to create the soundtrack for his Fall/Winter 2014/2015 runway show at Paris Fashion Week. The following year, Jlin made the beats for the Adidas Originals Spring/Summer presentation in that city as well as a Chanel show in Seoul. Her just-released sophomore album, Black Origami, features collaborations with musicians from all sorts of worlds, like computer music polyglot Holly Herndon, ambient composer William Basinski, Cape Town rapper and activist Dope Saint Jude, and Halcyon Veil artist Fawkes. She’s stepped far outside her comfort zone as a producer at every turn in her career—and her latest Planet Mu release reflects that impulse, shirking footwork beats in favor of nightmarish marching-band drumlines and rhythms that teeter like a late-game Jenga pull.

Still, when asked if she’d like to set off some fireworks for her photo shoot, she grows visibly hesitant. “My neighbors are going to be like, ‘The hell is she doing?'” Patton says through an infectious laugh. “I don’t want to kill myself.”

Yet a childlike enthusiasm overtakes her as soon as she steps foot inside Phantom Fireworks, a mid-sized warehouse filled with fireworks galore. Patton grabs products from the shelves and recalls old memories with family. “It was me and my cousin in Chicago—we were maybe 11 or 12,” Patton begins, holding a red pack of tiny dynamites called Wolf Packs. “They had this idea to put them in a coffee can. Then, they had this idea to put gasoline on them. It was a nightmare. I don’t advise anyone to do that.”

Somehow, she not only lived to tell the tale, but seems ready for more antics. She points to a pack of roman candles. “Can we shoot them in a bottle?”

Back at her house, Patton tests out a few smoke bombs and ground spinners. Once certain that she’s not going to blow herself up, she sets off a few roman candles and a package of Wolf Packs—firecrackers that look similar to the ones Kevin McCalister fires off in a kitchen pot in Home Alone.

Then, the finale: two cans of fountain fireworks. Once lit, sparkles shoot up in the air and cascade downwards, like water in a miniature fountain. Posing for the camera against this glimmering backdrop, Patton looks like she’s going to rocket into the sky.

Patton was born in the middle of a heat wave. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Chicagoland area saw temperatures of 90 and above for 19 days in July 1987—anything higher than 90 is capable of killing. Patton came into the world on the 30th of that month and, unbeknownst to her, she was up against years of challenges.

Patton’s parents met while working at Nabisco on Chicago’s South Side in the 1980s. Her mother was from Gary and her father from Chicago; the couple found their dream nest by fate. While driving around Gary one day before Patton was born, her mother laid eyes on a 2,000 square-foot ranch-style home.

“She stopped my dad and told him, ‘Jerry, that’s our house.'” Patton says, pausing for effect. “And my dad was like, ‘But there ain’t even no ‘For Sale’ sign there.'” Patton’s mom got out of the car and knocked on the door anyway. Turns out, the owner was looking to sell the house. “They caught it just at the right time, and we’ve been here ever since,” Patton says.

Patton’s parents sent her to Catholic school, thinking she’d get a top-notch education. But when she was four, she says, her teachers told her parents that she was “mentally retarded” because she was left-handed.

“It was considered a handicap,” Patton elaborates. Her teachers also worried that Patton couldn’t keep up with her classes. “But thank goodness, my mom fought against the school system,” Patton recalls. Her mother found a tutor, and Patton quickly started to pick up on her lessons.

“I’m one of those people who needs to know why I’m doing something. I need to actually know what I am studying and why it works the way that it works.”—Jerrilynn Patton

“I’m one of those people who needs to know why I’m doing something,” she says, explaining that she was never the kind of student to study for a test just to pass. “I need to actually know what I am studying and why it works the way that it works.”

A paint-chipped basketball rim sits atop a pole in Patton’s driveway. Patton used to play point guard and small forward as a kid; around age 10, she became fascinated with free-throw shooting, trying to figure out the most efficient system for getting the perfect spin on the ball so it’d fall in the basket. “The Bulls were my team,” Patton says. “Back in the day, who wasn’t with the Bulls?”

Accordingly, when we meet, she’s wearing a pair of black-and-white Jordan 12s. Patton is a sneakerhead, but she explains that she’s not like some collectors—she doesn’t go the extra mile of selling her retro kicks once she’s done with them. Her mom is a project administrator and coordinator for Nyakinyua Community Empowerment Program, a missionary arm for the Dagoretti Nyakinyua School in Molo, Kenya, so Patton donates her shoes to students there. “There’s too many people in the world that need shoes,” she explains. “They don’t care about no Jordans—they just need shoes to walk in.”

As a teenager, Patton was bullied by other kids at school. Looking back, Patton believes she was bullied because she had a structure in her home that her classmates did not—a two-parent household environment reminiscent of The Cosby Show. Her confidence was shaken, and she started getting bad grades in school. “I always looked down when I walked,” she remembers. “Everything about me changed.”

Even as she withdrew from most of her studies, Patton found solace in math. “I loved having to figure things out and then [prove] them back to myself,” she says. “I think the proving part was a confidence thing.”

After a short afternoon walk around Patton’s neighborhood, we jump into her Nissan Rogue and go for a drive. About fifteen minutes later, she pulls up into the parking lot at Calumet New Tech High, a mostly brick building advertised from the road with a problematic cartoon Native American mascot.

Upstairs in Mrs. Lee’s second-floor classroom, Patton and her favorite math teacher hug. Reminiscing on old times, Patton teases Mrs. Lee about how she repeated the quadratic formula in her lessons so much that she might as well have tattooed it onto her students’ foreheads. So Mrs. Lee hands Patton a dry-erase marker to see if she still remembers the lesson.

Patton’s love for concentration kicks in with this challenge. She starts writing on a slick transparent sign outside the classroom door, but Mrs. Lee makes a sound when Patton forgets to write “X =.” Patton erases everything and starts again. “Did I start off wrong?” she says. “Wait. It’s =b²,I think. No! I’m messing up!”

Mrs. Lee steps in like a coach. “I’m going to give you a mnemonic that I didn’t teach you when you were with me,” she says, taking the marker from Patton’s left hand. Mrs. Lee erases Patton’s attempt, and writes down the correct formula while reciting the following phrase: “X equals there was a negative boy who couldn’t make up his mind about going to a radical party. Because he was a square, he missed out on meeting four awesome chicks. And it was all over at 2AM.”

Patton recalls staying in Mrs. Lee’s class after school and completing entire homework assignments on the chalkboard, solely so Mrs. Lee could reassure her that she was doing it right. “I loved figuring things out and then proving them back to myself,” Patton remembers.

It’s a pastime that extends to the way she makes music. In late 2007, after a DJ friend in Chicago introduced her to music production software FL Studio, Patton spent hours on YouTube, trying to figure out how to work it . “I had it for a week, and I couldn’t get it to make a sound,” she says.

With the first successful high-hat, she was hooked. “Creating music was an escape for me, because I wasn’t happy with what I was doing in college,” Patton says. At Purdue University, which she attended until 2011, she studied architectural engineering, computer graphics technology, and math. When math no longer satisfied her needs, Patton would skip class, hole up in Purdue University’s library, and make tunes.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Patton says. “When I started making music at the end of 2007, footwork is what sparked my interest.” While at Purdue, she reached out to luminary DJ Rashad to get his advice on the songs she’d made on her Sony ACID software. He slowly became her mentor in producing ankle-breaking beats at 155 to 160 beats per minute—as did Chicago Juke producer DJ Roc, whose Bosses of the Circle DJ crew welcomed Jlin as a member in 2009. In 2011, RP Boo also welcomed her into D’Dynamic.

Though Patton didn’t play her tunes at any of the battles in Chicago, the tracks she was producing and self-releasing on Facebook drew heavily from the lineage of footwork, juke and ghetto house—three historically interconnected sub-genres of Chicago house music based on gritty triplets and fast tempos. Ghetto house, which first appeared in the early to mid 90s, typically starts at 130 beats per minute; juke, which hit the scene in the late 90s, is a little faster, at 145; and footwork as we know it today clocks in at a blistering 155. One early song of hers, 2011’s “Romance,” has the same repetitive drum patterns and slippery grooves of Chicago classics like DJ Clent’s “Bounce,” an early example of juke and footwork’s overlapping lines, and DJ Rashad’s “Ghost,” a footwork circle anthem. It also does its fair share of referential sampling, warping in and out of snippets from The Stylistics and Alicia Keys.

As Patton likes to say, around 2010, her pyramid shifted. No, not paradigm—pyramid. “The reason I call it a ‘pyramid shift’ is because when I think of the pyramid, I think of infinity,” she explains. “Whether you say it has nine sides or nine angles, that nine can be flipped in so many different ways.”

It seems her mother heard that shift coming before she did. After listening to a footwork track of hers that sampled Teena Marie’s “Portuguese Love,” the story goes , her mom told her she didn’t think she was embracing her full potential. According to Patton, her mother thought the song was good, but she already knew what Teena Marie sounded like—she wanted to know what Patton sounded like. That motivated the producer to think outside the box of footwork.

Like juke and footwork, Patton’s music revolves around time. Via collapsing drums, otherworldly vocals, and alien high-hats, she toys with rhythms and movement in an uneasy way that often draws comparisons to psychedelic experiences. “I don’t do drugs—I’m high off myself,” Patton explains. But doesn’t deny that her music sounds pretty trippy at times.

When I played Black Origami‘s title track for one of my best friends before meeting up with Jlin, we stared at each other in bewilderment. So many music sites had referred to her as a footwork artist that I’d expected to hear the sound of my black Chicago upbringing: thumping kicks and booty-popping claps. Instead, the percussion putters along with the android whirr of interlocking gears rather than the subtle off-beat grooves of hip-hop or R&B. I spent the majority of my hour-long drive from Chicago to Gary revving myself up to ask her about her relationship to footwork, which seemed like a complicated question. To my surprise, when we met up on her driveway, she cleared up any confusion straight away: “I’m not a footwork artist.”

Footwork is synonymous with Teklife and its pioneering Chicago DJs—the late Rashad, who passed away in 2014, along with Earl, RP Boo, Spinn, Gant-Man and Traxman. It’s a male-dominated genre with rite-of-passage elements to it, meaning that many footwork producers either DJ’d ghetto house and juke parties back in the day, or they grew up battling in competitive footwork crews. If you’re not fully embedded in the culture, it can be difficult to keep up. Patton is aware of footwork’s growing prominence on local and international stages, which is why she’s very transparent about her shift to a more idiosyncratic sound. She doesn’t want anyone unfamiliar with footwork and its Chicago roots to think of her latest work as an archetype of the genre, because it isn’t.

“Footwork is where I started, but I’ve evolved into something else now,” she explains. She says felt her pyramid shifting before her Dark Energy album, where she moved away from the aggressive kicks and rhythmic restraints of “Erotic Heat” and started focusing in on more free-associative sounds and arrangements. In order to find her voice, she had to stop listening to her peers’ music and dive into her own moody core. “My name has been so heavily associated with footwork [that] I guess I felt the need to say it,” she tells me. “I love footwork music. It’s just that I know I’m not there right now.”

“I want people to know that every time I sit in that [home studio] chair to create, it is a fight. I am not one of these producers that’s gon’ sit there and make something in two minutes, because that’s not even real.”—Jerrilynn Patton

Patton grew tired of Dark Energy soon after it’s release. She wanted to make something different. In one of the sound folders in her MPC, she came across a Ney flute—a woodwind prevalent in the Middle East. “It grabbed me, and it was just kind of touching me in this way that was really deep,” Patton remembers. “Immediately, I knew that chemistry was there.”

Next, she added high-hats. Then vocals. “There were these ‘Oohs’ and ‘Ahhs’ I had,” Patton says of the preset sounds in her MPC kit. But she got to the end of the song, and hit a brick wall. “The track was so energetic to me that I was having a hard time finishing it.” It took her four days to craft the perfect ending—and two weeks in total for her to complete from start to finish. She’s unapologetic about the amount of time she needs to make sure her tracks are complete. That determination to carefully engineer each sound is what makes her productions so unique. “I’m OK with leaving a song and coming back to it, because nine times out of 10, I’m going to be more refreshed after I’ve slept.”

A self-proclaimed “homebody,” Patton wavers between two totally different worlds: the solitude and familiarity of her life in Gary, and the thrill of the unknown. When recording Black Origami, that thirst for new experiences took her all the way to India, where she recorded a few of the album’s tracks. She first went to Bangalore in 2016, to visit friend and collaborator Avril Stormy Unger, a local choreographer and performance artist. Patton’s made three additional visits to the city since then, spending 21 days there during her most recent trip. In that time, she put the finishing touches on Black Origami and performed with Unger at a packed-out Boiler Room broadcast in Bangalore.

The finished album wasn’t only thing she brought home with her. While in India, Patton chronicled the story of her life in three finger tattoos: a grumpy face, three vertical alignment dots, and a bass clef.

The grumpy face, she says, symbolizes her teen to young adult years, when she lacked confidence because of her experiences with bullying. The alignment dots represent her mid 20s, when she found her sense of self. The bass clef marks the moment she discovered her niche in music as an adult—a devotion to the bass, with its chillingly deep vibrations. Each tattoo plays a role in her story, she explains, because she wouldn’t be where she is today without the bumps and bruises of her journey. “I had to go through everything in my life to get to this point,” Patton says. “And it’s all important because it all plays a part in your life.”

Even with her successes, Patton’s mind is just as restless as ever. Some mornings, Patton says she wakes up questioning why she ever became a music producer. Sometimes, she even questions why people buy her music.

It’s an hour and a half before her performance at Chicago’s SmartBar, and she’s eating a slice of cheese pizza and sipping a juice box at Big G’s Pizza nextdoor. She’s been up, working on new music and preparing for upcoming shows, since 6AM. And because her album is coming out in a few days, she’s been fielding calls to make sure everything with promos and the label is right.

“I actually got to work a little bit, but I got frustrated,” she explains. “All I was thinking about was, I’ve got a show, and then I’ve got a show tomorrow [in Seattle]. My mind was too many places to sit there and create.”

She took some B12 vitamins, thinking it would help her push through the day, but says she was sleepy again by 11AM. “All that’s on my mind right now is doing music for this ballet.”

The ballet she’s speaking of is “Autobiography,” an upcoming October production by modern dance choreographer Wayne McGregor, perhaps best known for his award-winning work while in residence at The Royal Ballet. Patton isn’t sure if McGregor had heard of her work before their collaboration, but they were introduced by Mat Schultz and Gosia Plysa of Unsound Productions, which handles booking and project development for Jlin.

“I want people to know that every time I sit in that [home studio] chair to create, it is a fight,” she tells me. “I am not one of these producers that’s gon’ sit there and make something in two minutes, because that’s not even real.”

But Patton’s patience is what makes her music so beautiful. Black Origami’s “Holy Child”—a collaboration with William Basinski full of collapsing drums and ethereal vocals, and one of the songs she plans to play tonight—is a case in point. She says it’s a dedication to DJ Rashad, who, despite working more squarely in footwork, shared her penchant for pushing the music he grew up with into uncharted territory. She says Double Cup deep cut “Reverb”—a dizzy, bass-driven track that’s nearly beatless—still gives her the chills. Her dedication to him produces a similar mood. “I really want the listener to understand his legacy,” she says. “It’s very deep and he still inspires many [producers, dancers, and fans]. He’ll be a legend forever.”

She admits that working with Basinski—famous for his tape composition, Disintegration Loops, a tribute to 9/11—was a little intimidating at first. “That track was really hard for me, because a lot of people were like, ‘William makes this type of music, and you make that type of music,'” Patton says, pointing to Basinski’s proficient use of brass in his catalogue. Basinski’s composition style is typically more orchestral in nature, while Patton’s is very digital.

But Patton made it work. “He sent me his potion, and I made the magic,” she says through a chuckle. “Those are his words.”

Minutes before she goes on, as she notifies the staff that she’s returned from eating, someone offers her a drink. She politely declines, and turns to me. “I don’t believe in drinking while I work.”

Disco balls and strobe lights flicker from the ceiling as Patton kicks off her set, her head bobbing to the beat. As she soars through her gems—”Guantanamo,” “Holy Child,” “Black Origami”—her stress from earlier seems to melt away. Then she starts playing “Nyakinyua Rise”—a track with sporadic war calls and cowbells—and I remember her telling me it was inspired by a trip her mother took to Kenya last year. “I wanted to dedicate [it] to the children of Nyakinyua, Kenya,” Patton said. “Her trip inspired me to quit my job, because I realized there is a whole world to see.”

There are so many layers of speed and flow to latch on to throughout her performance, yet many of those dancing in the predominantly white crowd still struggle to stay on beat. But that’s the thing about Patton’s music: it carries you to places where dancing well doesn’t seem to matter. Her set builds climatically until you’re high in the clouds, hands raised into the air, eyes closed and body swaying across the dance floor as if gravity doesn’t exist. Patton’s taking off into the sky, and she wants you to know that feeling, too.

Here's Every Dance Music Festival You’ll Go to This Summer

This article appeared originally on THUMP UK.

Look everyone, summer’s here. The streets smell of tar and bin juice! Your back is sweaty! Everybody’s eating lunch in the car-park! Modjo’s “Lady” is playing on repeat! And how else do you know summer is here? Well, because you’re about to go to lots of festivals, aren’t you? You lucky sod.

Festival Season—unlike Hunting Season or Ski Seasons, which were cynically cooked up by capitalists to sell rifles and raclette respectively—is the most important time of the year. Those special few months when we set aside our differences and commune over class-A drugs, trays of cheesy chips, and the distant rattle of Joy Orbison sets we’re presumably missing. The working week might continue to drizzle on monotonously, but who gives a flying Floating Points? Come Friday, you’ll be watching that Easyjet check-in confirmation slide out the office printer, your mind frenzied with dreams of ancient forts and swimming shorts, the taste of that first airport pint merely moments away from your excitable gut.

It used to be that festivals were for rock bands. This was back in the days of “real music” when musicians like Van Morrison and Acker Bilk played actual instruments, instead of just pressing play like modern “DJs”. Sadly, those days are over and now electronic music festivals make up a significant portion of the market, with selectors even coming to dominate the bills of many so-called traditional festivals. Typical of a music industry that seemingly values infinite quantity over quality, there are more of these wonderful events every year, creating a Festival Season with more to choose from than ever before. And you—you with your fun lovin’ spirit and massive disposable income—will be going to all of them, won’t you? I can see you now, pounding clouds of dust into the air during your third Fatima Yamaha set of that month, the wild Sunday 3AM madness in your eyes as you try not to doze off in the half an hour before Robert Hood starts.

In anticipation of this, and the other addled-adventures you are going to have, let’s sit for a while and consider: Every Type of Dance Music Festival You’ll Go To This Summer. Yes? Okay then.

The Two-Day, Inner-City, Piss-up in a Park One

What luck: you don’t have to leave the country for this festival, in fact, you don’t even have to leave the city! That’s right, the huge park you’ve been going to once a summer since you moved here—for a dismal afternoon of hummus, blackcurrant cider, and desultory chat about which Buzzfeeder writer makes you laugh the most—will now cost you and your mates £50 a head to get inside. Wicked!

Once you’ve used all your battery in the queue and finally made it inside, you’ll be greeted by a karaoke taco van, a waltzer and DJ sets by every member of Hot Chip scattered across the weekend. The locality will mean that on the second day you get complacent and end up spending your entire day “pre-drinking” at your flat, arriving just in time to catch the end of a headlining Flying Lotus set—a set that is being performed without amplification, in order to avoid noise complaints from the park’s surrounding neighbours.

The “Truly Unbelievable Location” One

If only the bleeding, blistered hands and the broken backs of the Bulgarian Empire could have seen into the admittedly very-distant future, and glimpsed upon what the stone turrets and battlements of their medieval fortifications would one day play host to. Look Bojidar, Grozdan, Dragomir and Nikola: it’s Adam Beyer and all the boys from the Identification of Music Group! This is what Simeon the Great would have wanted.

The “This is the Next Croatia, Mate” One

Jamie means well, you can tell he really does. He really wants you to enjoy yourself and you believe him when he says he’s absolutely buzzing to see what Hot Since 82 does with the system on the second stage. But, and this is a big but, a substantial but here…the Pitcairn Islands aren’t quite a suntrap on the Adriatic. In fact, you’re freezing cold, have run out of rations—the next scheduled food supply drop is tomorrow afternoon—and the locals, all 45 of them, don’t seem as enamoured with Steve Lawler’s set as Jamie does. Not to worry, next year’s “the next Croatia” is somewhere called Bouvet Island, which already sounds nicer. Must remember to Google when you get home.

The “Relentlessly Innovative” Headsy European One

This weekend, somewhere in the sun-dappled fields of Eastern Europe, lots of people who think they know more about ambient techno music than each other will congregate. Talk of Biosphere and POLE and “early Aphex” and GAS will gather in plumes of Camel Blue smoke above the torn grass and plastic-cup recycling points. So loud will the clamour grow that Call Super’s set will eventually be drowned out completely, leaving only the sound of endless conversations about Hiroshi Yoshimura. As the sun sets and disagreements become increasingly heated, the event will descend into violence and riots, before eventually the last man standing is throttled by the straps of his own Lobster Theremin tote bag and silence falls. Only then will the ambient bros will finally achieve the eternal chill vibes they so longed for in life.

The Overproduced, Pyrotechnic, Carl Cox DJing Aboard a Fully Operational Animatronic Turtle One

You and hundreds of thousands of other people standing in a field watching Patrick Topping play wAFF remixes, atop a flotilla that honestly looks like the set from a rock musical adaptation of Pan’s Labyrinth. Better save that distress flare for later on. Krewella are DJing from inside a 70-foot recreation of Thomas Hardy’s childhood home. Shit’s gonna go off!

The Boutique “Best Kept Secret” One

You’ve finally made it. The one your friends have been bigging up for years. The “best kept secret,” and oh yeah baby, does it look good. Good enough to capture approximately 39859854135 times per day on Instagram. There are trees, festoon lights, and even a series of art installations for you to sit cross-legged and space out in front of come sunrise. Fuck, you’ll blow through your data in a day, but you’ve been waiting for this for so long. Go you! The line up is great, obvs, and you’re particularly excited to see Four Tet and Daphni who are obvs gonna smash it, and you reckon you’ll probably end up at a yurt party where everyone’s drinking MD-laced G&Ts. This is going to be the best weekend ever!

But oh, no! It’s Saturday night, and after meeting your 632nd University of Manchester student of the night, you’ve accidentally snorted a key of face glitter and have to be taken to the medical tent. Not so glam, babes!

DJ Harvey’s decided to eschew the decks this summer.

The Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads, Lads One

Ere we, ere we, ere we fucking go! You and the boys are on one this summer, and Split/Budapest/Amsterdam/Hertfordshire won’t be left standing once you’ve finished with it. Your duffel bag is stuffed full with a pair of tiny swimming shorts and horrendous home-made blend of powders you’ve trademarked “Creatamine”—for wobbly workouts, chyyyyyz! You have also brought bronzing lotion and six changes of bum-bag. It’s quite literally going to be a madness. You’re all going to pull so many worldies. You can taste it. No, it definitely won’t end up in a grainy video of you, stumbling down the beach in nothing but a snorkel, having just popped a Viagra for banter during a Richy Ahmed set. Said video will definitely not end up being shared by the Lad Bible, and you will definitely not have to relocate to a Pacific atoll.

The Big, Muddy, “Let’s Drink 18,000 Pints and Watch Fatboy Slim” One

Unsure of how you got there, you find yourself talking to a bloke called Kenny, with the frame of a bear and the face of a bat. He is wearing a trilby and a red t-shirt which reads E N G L A N D. Each letter is cleverly clipped from the logo of a classic British foodstuff. “Been coming to this festival for…fuck me…twenty years now…crikey…obviously back then I could move about a bit easier but nah always a good laugh…obviously we don’t bother with the tent now got a little motorhome thing we rent from Hertz which is good especially for Jackie because she can’t be fucked with all the music stuff after a while so this means she can go back and have a kip or whatever…you seen Fatboy before? You have to respect him…you just have to…I’ve been watching him for…fuck me…twenty years now…you have to respect him…the maestro….he understands what funk music really is…a lot don’t understand these days…he’s got the funk…the FUNK SOUL BROTHER!”

He has his arm round you now, tightly clasped around your throat, his watch is scratching your chin. Beer laps out the sides of his cup and into your hair. You are tired, so tired. You’ve run out of battery and the drugs aren’t working anymore. He starts jumping, pulling you up into the air with him on every time. The terrain is now are now so thick with mud, every bounce pulls you further from your wellies. You begin to wonder what happened to your friends and why you came to this festival in the first place. You are about to make your excuses to leave, when he starts to sing. Right about now / The funk soul brother / Check it out now / The funk soul brother.

The Very Important Industry One

Yeah I mean, sure, you can come to this if you’re just a fan of the music, but you might get a little bored—we’ve got a lot of very important talks, lectures, panel discussions, symposiums and roundtables to get through before any tunes are played. Topics this year include, “How to Optimise Your Brand for the VR Ecosphere,” “We Need to Talk About Water Organs,” and “Streaming: Bad or What?” If you go to this, expect to get stuck talking to someone who pitched to FACT once about the “difficulties” dance music writing is going through. They will talk to you at length about writers you either don’t know, or don’t care about. You will also probably appear in a photo on RMBA’s Facebook account and secretly think about making it your profile picture. Oh, and Soichi Terada will play a rapturously received set that neither you or anyone you know actually saw.

The Wibbly, Wobbly, Naughty, Messy, Bassy One

The sort of festival which manages to seamlessly fuse the disciplines of dubstep and circus skills. This weekend is going to be more of a hoot than every trombone you’ll hear all weekend put together. You’ve got your best hareem pants on your bottom-half, your trusted Plain Lazy t-shirt on the top, and your heart is aflutter with the prospect of conversing with part-time actor pretending to be the Mad Hatter, somewhere in the “Wonderland” themed section of the festival complex. Expect breakcore, dub, ragga, hardstep, jungle, jungletek, techstep, raggamuffin, reggae, neurofunk, liquid funk, acid-jazz, deep, drumfunk, swing, electro-swing, electrocrunk, funkstep, sambass, psytrance, dnbnoise, drill ‘n’ bass, garage and improv comedy.

The Rich People Dancing to House Music One

There ain’t no party like a bunch of media executives on £50k a year dancing to a Hunee set party. Step this way for paper fans, rhinestones and eye shadow, champers and really good coke. House is a feeling, and it feels even better when you’ve been doing Vedic Yoga all morning. And when the house in question is one you own. On Broadway Market. With your architect partner. Who got the money from her very, very wealthy parents.

Field Day

You will probably go to Field Day.

Angus is on Twitter

Mukqs' New Album Is Concerned With the Weight of the Universe

The art that leaps from the covers of Hausu Mountain tapes immediately fills your eyes with burning neon colors, warped video game figures, and surreal hallucinations melted across cracked digital landscapes. This bracing juxtaposition comes from the mind of the artist Maxwell Allison, who co-runs the label with his roommate Doug Kaplan. Allison happens to be a musician himself, and his work under the name Mukqs shows a similar knack for smashing together unfamiliar modes. Over the course of eight releases (including splits with like-minded artists), Allison has touched on ambient noise, absurdist cut-and-paste, meditative electronics, and more. “The goal is to never repeat myself,” he says via Skype from his home in Chicago. “I want to do all kinds of styles.”

The newest Mukqs effort 11,666,666,666,666,666,666—out Friday, May 26—is Allison’s first full-length vinyl release, and finds him pointed in yet another new direction: accessible, beat-heavy techno. The album’s melodic arcs and insistent pulse are a perfect fit for Midwich, the Chicago label run by Allison’s friend James Marlon Magas, the former post-punk frontman (Couch, Lake of Dracula) who himself makes electronic music for the imprint.

Across four tracks that play like a continuous suite, Allison weaves forceful beats and winding synths into heavy webs. It’s music that’s easy to nod along to, but it also contains dark undercurrents gradually revealed with each listen—in the same way Allison’s visual art veils strange themes beneath bright, eye-stretching hues.

When Allison isn’t holed away in his apartment making Mukqs music, he’s busy playing with Good Willsmith, the Chicago trio he founded with Kaplan and TALsounds’ Natalie Chami, and keeping the Hausu Mountain factory running smoothly. We recently spoke to Allison about making 11,666,666,666,666,666,666 (which is streaming in full below), as well his own musical origins, and the collagist processes of his solo work.

THUMP: Do you think of Mukqs music as more of a personal expression than what you make in Good Willsmith?
Good Willsmith is pretty democratic in our approach, and at this point anything goes because we know our vocabularies so well. Our last LP had more spastic switches in between sections that were willfully different in style and sound. So cycling through different styles is present in all the music that we’re working on. The goal is to represent a wide, crazy menu. For my Mukqs stuff, it’s about expanding that palette. I’m just doing it alone because I have the time and the motivation, and I can make it happen really fast. I can just sit in my room and keep working at it as long as I want.

The idea of using different styles seems more common in underground music now, as opposed to when genres like noise and dance were more strictly defined.
Yeah, I think that as people have listened to these styles of music more they see the connections between, say, New Age and noise. To me, anyone that has ever catered to the idea that these things can’t mix is a square. Why on earth would people not want to listen to whatever they can? I find so much joy in so many kinds of music, so there’s no reason to pigeonhole anyone. Of course, I totally respect people who have a dedicated scene or style they love. That’s awesome. But for me things move in cycles, and I’m interested in whatever moves into my zone. I’m not trying to limit any kind of new interest.

I think a lot of that other mentality comes from people demanding that someone focus on a craft for a long time before they’re acknowledged as a member of that scene. Someone could be an interloper, like, “I’m a pop artist making a noise manifesto!” That could be seen as a red flag. But I also love when a deviation occurs and disrupts the idea of what is normal in a scene. Sometimes with lack of reverence for the history of something, you can carve out a new version of it that disrupts the older narrative.

How did you first get into music?
I was obsessed with metal and hip-hop from an early age. I would research those genres religiously online and download stuff from all kinds of weird sources. That process led to many truly amazing listening experiences through headphones at home in my suburban zone. So that transportive power of music, just listening and envisioning a whole other world, is what has led me to playing music.

And you knew early that you wanted to devote time to making music?
I think I always wanted to make music and art in various forms. There wasn’t a single point when I was like, “Oh, this is it, I’m going do this forever.” That was always the idea. It was more about milestones happening that brought that dream closer to reality. Mukqs could only start when I was confident that it wouldn’t be shitty or boring. I needed time to learn instruments and styles and listen to more music to get there.

Do you find any similarities in the processes of making music and making visual art?
Collaging and arranging and erasing in visual art do have connections to making music, in terms of programming and setting up a bunch of sounds that don’t tread on each other. The more loopy Mukqs stuff that has intersecting samples, that has a lot common with the visual art. When I’m making visual art, I’m thinking of texture and interactions with different media, like super-pixelated things versus smooth things. That definitely overlaps with thinking musically about triangle waves versus sine waves, and prickly sounds versus smooth sounds.

Where did the name Mukqs come from?
It’s just my name, Max, but spelled like the Aphex Twin album Drukqs. That’s a very deep record with so many different styles to it. I also picked the name because I love that bizarre combination of letters, with k and q right next to each other. It confuses people. People often spell it wrong, which is hilarious to me.

There are four tracks on 11,666,666,666,666,666,666 , but I get the sense the whole record is meant as one piece.
Yeah, for sure. The track divisions came after the fact. When I play this live, the durations of the individual tracks always change. The songs have the same sounds and patches going on, but there will be a different beat or underlying foundation to parts. A lot of that comes from deciding what gear to use – which synth or drum machine is at the heart of the sound, and what things are the embellishments, so to speak.

What drew you to working in this more beat-oriented style?
When I set out to make a record, I definitely have a style in mind from the beginning, because that will guide my decisions and set up an easier work low for my brain. In terms of why I was geared towards this style, I’ve been listening to tons of this kind of music, especially Detroit music like Drexciya and related projects. Their catalog is so immense and fun to dig through—it’s just an infinite trove of inspiration.

Do you think of 11,666,666,666,666,666,666 as dance music?
I definitely do, but I’m into lots of dance styles. I do envision it playing in a club where someone can dance. It’s a little more isolated, maybe, and outside that zone. But I love to play it live and try to make that into a danceable, fun situation.

You made the record “live” without overdubs. How does that work?
Well, the drum machine and synth I primarily used for this album are very capable of saving different patterns for long stretches. So the programming of that stuff is the composition phase, in a way. That sets up the condition for a live take with interaction between triggered samples and arrhythmic paths, where I’m turning things on and off, setting up different flowing beat structures. That’s the improvisation phase, which yields different decisions every time. I can play things quietly or blow them out into noise.

Is there a kind of circle between you playing the machines and them feeding you?
I think of it from the perspective of producing a track. So certain elements of the gear are playing an element that’s kind of the spine, and then there are decisions that are more randomized, with the turn of a knob or a filter. It’s also about listening to the final mix live and seeing what is missing, seeing how things could have a different tonal range or different spatialization. It’s like doing an improvised jam session with other people, but they’re robots that live in your drum machine, and you decide when they’re playing. It’s fun in that sense.

Where does the title 11,666,666,666,666,666,666 come from?
Most titles that I choose are from some found source that I’ve been reading or watching, where a phrase sticks in my mind for its origin and for its visual look. This number is in John Szwed’s Sun Ra biography Space is the Place. At one point he’s talking about the math that informs Sun Ra’s worldview. There’s a rundown of cosmic numbers that dictate the universe’s physics, and it says that the weight of the universe is 11,666,666,666,666,666,666 pounds. It’s also a nod to the common trope of naming compositions with an obscure number, like Autechre does sometimes.

North America's Most Intimate Desert Festival Isn't a Mirage

This article originally appeared on THUMP Canada.

Now in its fourth year, Arizona’s FORM Arcosanti has earned a reputation as one of the most unique music and arts festivals in North America. Taking place in the late Italian architect Paolo Soleri’s otherworldly, still-evolving “urban laboratory,” approximately one hour north of Phoenix, organizers select only 1,500 attendees through an intimate application process. Unlike multi-day, sponsor-heavy events, FORM focuses on creating a community environment for its attendees, with campers encouraged to set their own relaxed pace.

Curated by Los Angeles electro-pop outfit Hundred Waters and singer-songwriter Moses Sumney, this year’s lineup included Skrillex, James Blake, Solange, Future Islands, Omar Souleyman, HEALTH, Kelela, and others. The weekend also featured dance performances (Phoenix-based artist Jorge Ignacio Torres’ Palabra Collective were a highlight), film screenings, and sound installations.

We sent Toronto-based photographer Gemma Warren to capture the sights of FORM Arcosanti 2017, and her images will have you planning a trip to the Arizona desert festival next year.

Deafheaven

Father John Misty

Huerco S

Palabra Collective

Julie Byrne

Moses Sumney

Omar Souleyman

Solange

Weyes Blood

Timber Timbre

RVNG Intl. Practices 'Peaceful Protest' with Their New Ambient Comp

When RVNG Intl.‘s Matt Werth trekked down to Moogfest in May of 2016, one of his main takeaways was the event’s open antagonism to an oppressive legislative bill. A couple of months prior, the North Carolina state congress signed House Bill 2—a notorious law that hindered the ability of trans people to use bathrooms in public places.

Many touring musicians decided to boycott the state as means of protest, but Moogfest took a different tact. In defiance of the law, they provided gender-neutral bathrooms at all festival venues. They also foregrounded the issue with a campaign called “Synthesize Love,” which included registering voters on-site, and selling T-shirts to raise money for organizations fighting HB2.

A year later, as Werth and I sit in the lobby of an ornate Presbyterian Church that plays host to some of the festival’s sets, the political context is a little different. In January, the state changed governors, and many of the bill’s provisions were formally repealed. But HB2’s replacement bill is seen as a dangerous compromise by local activists—and on a national level, a new president is pushing even more legislation that disproportionately affects marginalized people.

For these reasons, when Werth was asked to be involved with soundtracking a late-night space at Moogfest 2017, he knew he had to do something with a purpose. “[The battle against HB2] was so visual here,” Werth remembers. “Moogfest was in the middle of that.”

What emerged was a compilation called Peaceful Protest, a nearly four-hour suite of formless music by six artists from the extended RVNG family: Baltra, C. Lavender, Kate NV, Zach Cooper, Raica, and You’re Me. The works are longform and wordless, deliberately meditative and abstract—flush with digital marimbas, slowly plucked guitars, and long washes of static.

Werth and his RVNG compatriot Phil Tortoroli also teamed up with some artists and designers to put together a limited physical release (which remains for sale at their retail space on Manhattan’s Lower East Side Commend, and Bandcamp), with proceeds going to the LGBTQ Center of Durham.

On the first night of the festival, the compilation played loudly in an old movie theater that functioned as one of the events major hubs. Projected on the screen was the cover of the compilation, its lone words “Peaceful Protest” reverberating as loudly through the theater as the soundtrack’s weighty guitar drones.

The following day, we chatted with Werth and Tortoroli about the message behind the compilation, the political potential of ambient music, and how RVNG is trying to turn Commend into a space for social good.

THUMP: How did this compilation first come together?
Matt Werth: Lorna[-Rose Simpson], who’s the programming director of Moogfest asked us to put something in the Carolina Theater. That was the very basic prompt that led us to think about how we could elevate the programming.

It was for meditation, right?
Werth: Kind of. It was really nebulous. It was to reflect the possibilities of the room. So we defined it for ourselves. So that’s why asking six artists to create work that could be used in that capacity became the definition. Speaking from my experience last year the HB2 referendum that was in place was such a hot button… it was so visual here. Moogfest was in the middle of that.

They had signs on all the bathrooms saying they were gender neutral, right?
Werth: Totally. [The law] has since been repealed, but there are new laws taking its place that compromise gender equality. It’s unfortunately cyclical. [The compilation] seemed like a good opportunity to use that space within Moogfest to protest that in a peaceful kind of way.

Was that something you talked about with artists about before they made the music?
Phil Tortoroli: Not every artist. We talked about the space that the music would be played in, and that was a frame for a lot of the artists as they started the composition. From that launchpad, Matt and I discussed further about how we could use the platform for issues that are affecting North Carolina.

Plus, how we could use this platform to align with some of our own initiatives at RVNG and Commend, which are toward social progression. So that developed into thinking about the opportunity to create something physical that we can then sell and use as a way to talk about these issues and give back to a center that’s affected by and fighting it.

Do you feel like there’s a way that instrumental music can reflect those sorts of things?
Tortoroli: Yeah. Instrumental music will have an effect on people. Personally, it’s very calming. There’s obviously more aggressive stuff, but even that can be a way of helping facilitate some form of meditation. I think that when you’re in those more calm states you can think more rationally about those sorts of issues.

Werth: That possibility of reflection is in instrumental music. But the message within that reflection is also yours to decide. I also think instrumental music has way more collective possibility. You’re not tied to one direct message. You’re not all singing along to the same lyrics. With this context—and maybe it needs context—you can be on the same page but thinking differently about the same ideas.

The way the compilation premiered last night, with the cover projected in front of the theater, speaks to that I think. It leads people in a certain way. Was that something you thought about?
Werth: It’s not totally defining, but it’s an indication. It’s a signpost.

Tortoroli: It’s about giving yourself to the opportunity to reflect, while you’re sitting and listening…”What am I protesting?”

“If you’re going to link ambient music to politics, I hope it’s more active than passive.”—Matt Werth

You mentioned the political and social things tied into RVNG and Commend overall, what are those?
Tortoroli: We’re leading Commend, our retail space on the Lower East Side, toward using that space for workshops, learning centers and community events. We’re starting this initiative called Come! Mend!.

We did a town hall meeting about repealing the Cabaret Law. We’re doing one at the end of this month about artist visas and immigrant visas. We’re doing another that will deal with ICE and how to handle your rights if you’re an undocumented worker. We’re doing a workshop in June about fire safety.

We’re starting to use Commend as a way of leading our community to more socially aware, socially progressive initiatives—teaching, bringing people together. Hopefully the network can spread that way. New York City is a bubble, and the music scene is a bubble, and the creative scene is a bubble. How do we work with people who are outside of that?

Is that something that’s always been in the vision of what you started?
Werth: Not necessarily. We’re certainly looking more at Commend as a community space than a retail space—less as a transactional possibility and more as an exchange.

There aren’t a lot of spaces in New York like that.
Werth: Because New York is really expensive. It’s hard to pay rent based on those principles. We have a really unique situation. We’re in a co-op building, so they invited us to be there. Even though there was a barber shop before us, it’s part of our responsibility to act toward our collective potential.

The political agenda…I can look back and say it’s not part of the RVNG universe so heavily. It’s always understated, but there was obviously a real need to shift and be more vocal and expressive about that.

Meaning with the election?
Werth: Exactly. It was catalytic for sure. I don’t know if it was the moment. But it was a breaking point for sure. I think there was an instant, a sudden moment the next day. There was a group surge. A big “what the fuck?” moment where we all like, “What can we do?”

There had been community events at Commend and we’d done our part to advocate in different capacities, but maybe more in a holistic, spiritual kind of sense, rather than directly political.

Tortoroli: Part of that goal was always to make Commend into more of a community space. So we were already thinking about how we could make it a space that’s for everyone and not just for retail. When the election happened it was like, “we have to do this now.”

After the election, I found myself aggressively seeking music like what’s on this compilation. How are ambient music and politics connected for you if at all?
Tortoroli: For me the genre doesn’t matter, it’s all about the intention behind it. [Since the election], I’ve been listening to more hip-hop than anything.

Werth: Yeah it’s hopefully not genre-specific. Obviously, we’ve released a lot of kinda formless music. If you’re going to link ambient music to politics, I hope it’s more active than passive.

There’s that kind of collective conscious that happens around lyricless music. I don’t think you get that in other kinds of music. You can see it throughout history, devotional music has always had a formless or cyclical, mantra-esque feel. There’s a power from that, you know?

The Faces of New York's Dance Parade

The Dance Parade, which celebrated its 11th anniversary last Saturday in Manhattan, is an opportunity for New Yorkers to come together and do what they do best—have fun. From Bolivian Caporales dancers bedazzled in sequins, to stilt-walking, scantily clad Brazilian Carnival dancers, to gaggles of kids in tap shoes, the breadth of New York’s stunning diversity was on display throughout the drizzly spring afternoon. This year, along with the eccentric House Coalition float, members of the Dance Liberation Network and NYC Artist Coalition marched to support the repealing of New York’s Cabaret Law, an antiquated ban on dancing in all establishments without a difficult-to-snag Cabaret License. The law, passed in 1926 with the aim of taming Harlem’s jazz scene (it originally included an explicit ban on saxophones), is often used today as a convenient way for police to shut down any venue they disapprove of. Since only a tiny fraction of the city’s dance clubs, bars, and venues have a Cabaret License, most dance spaces are currently operating in legally murky territory.

If the city needs more motivation to overturn what activists call a “dance ban”, they should look no further than this ecstatic parade. If it wasn’t clear already, it sure is now: New Yorkers of all stripes love to dance. We asked a few of the parade’s many participants and spectators why they dance, and what they think about the Cabaret Law.

1. Phoebe Berg

Crew: Batalá New York, a female Afro-Brazilian samba and reggae band

Neighborhood: Manhattan

THUMP: What’s the best thing about dancing?
Berg: We are one of the few Batala chapters that is all women. I love drumming and dancing. It’s the love of my life. It’s everything. Music is therapeutic. It’s good for the community.”

2. Beto Cravioto

Crew: Dance Liberation Network, a New York City artist coalition campaigning for the repeal of the Cabaret Law

Neighborhood: Queens

What do you think of the cabaret law?
Cravioto: The Cabaret Law is a little silly. We should all be allowed to dance. It’s an old fashioned law. As times have changed, I don’t understand why it’s still going on. The police use it to their advantage to be petty and shut down places when they need to. Dancing is companionship.

3. Tatenda Ngwaru (left) and Carrie-Ann Murphy (right)

Crew: Sundae Fantastique Show, a monthly musical talk show and activist rally

Neighborhood: Brooklyn and Manhattan, respectively

What do you think of the cabaret law?
Ngwaru: I think [the Cabaret Law] is ridiculous. Who would want to stop people from dancing? I was in Harlem at a hookah bar, they said you can’t get up and dance, it’s against the law.

Why do you dance?
Murphy : Dancing is the purest form of expression outside sex.

4. Kenton DeAngeli (left) and Kelly Knapp (right)

Crew: Sundae Fantastique Show

Neighborhood: Brooklyn

Why do you dance?
DeAngeli: Dancing is a really great way for cultures that aren’t recognized in the national media to form communities—and have fun.

5. Stephen Barnes, Dance Liberation Network

Crew: Dance Liberation Network

Neighborhood: Brooklyn

What do you think of the cabaret law?
Knapp: We all know the Cabaret Law is racist. There’s more important problems with race that are being addressed right now, but I feel like this is a small thing we actually could make an impact on.

6. Harry Gaskin

Crew: Energy in the Middle, a roller skate dance team

Neighborhood: Long Island

Why do you dance?
Energy in the Middle is a roller skating dance team. We create routines and videos and movies and do community events all over the country. I love it. It keeps me healthy and fit. You can’t get no better addiction than dancing and skating. There’s no side effects.”

7. Vino Vinehaus

Crew: House Coalition, an organization centered around participation in the Dance Parade, known for its elaborate floats

Neighborhood: Brooklyn

Why do you dance?
One day I was walking down the street four years ago and the parade was about to start. I decided to join them. It’s good for the health. We need exercise. It’s the only exercise I can do. I cannot run, I cannot jog, but I can jump around.

8. Christina Smith

Crew: House Coalition

Neighborhood: Brooklyn

Why do you dance?
My dad Chris Smith is DJing. I’ve been doing this since I was born. House music is free. There are no constraints to it. You can do whatever you want, however you want. Everybody appreciates it. It’s so much love. Nobody is judging, everybody is just here to have a good time.”

Indigo Nai, Kostume Kult, Manhattan

Crew: Kostume Kult, a costume and street-theater club

Neighborhood: Manhattan

Why do you dance?
There are two types of people in the world: the ones who dance and the ones who don’t. And have you seen the look on the faces of the ones who don’t?

Here's How You Can Go Clubbing When You're on Sick Leave

This article originally appeared on THUMP Germany.

Being sick sucks. If you catch some nasty virus, what with all the headaches and fever dreams plaguing you, you’ll probably want nothing more than the ability to do banal things like eating, drinking, and maybe watching Netflix. But sometimes you’re just too sick to go to work during the day, but you actually feel better in the evening. And maybe that same night, Gerd Janson or Nina Kraviz happen to be playing your favorite club. You can’t not go—but what if your boss catches you? Will you get fired?

Anyone who hasn’t been able to avoid exploitation—I mean, employment—has contemplated this question. In the event of doubt, most people decide to avoid taking any risks, and only leave the house for short visits to the doctor or not at all.

But… is that really necessary? Do you really have to stay in bed if you’re sick? What about a broken arm—wouldn’t it be beneficial for my recovery if I actually went out? If I wanted to something for my well-being, why not go to a techno rave that night? I always enjoy it, plus I move a lot and drink plenty of water. It’s high time to get rid of these uncertainties, so I asked an expert. Christoph Hildebrandt is an employment and labor lawyer at Hensche in Berlin, Germany. I talked to him about what you’re allowed and not allowed to do when you’re on sick leave. Spoiler alert: it all depends.

So, Mr. Hildebrandt: Do I have to stay at home with a doctor’s note?
No, that’s not necessary.

So I can do whatever I want?
No. As an employee, you’re obligated to act in a way that doesn’t impede your recovery during the time you’re unable to work. That means that you can’t act in a way that would make your illness worse, or result in you catching another illness on top of the first one. It depends on the symptoms.

Do you have examples?
If you have the flu, it might make sense to stay in bed and not go walking in the rain. However, if you’re suffering from depressive episodes, that’s something else. With an illness like that, a walk or something [to that effect] could be helpful and even speed up recovery. So you’d only have to stay home when going out could be considered [a roadblock to your] recovery.

Take the following scenario: I’m on sick leave because my arm broken arm and I can’t do my job as editor. But I can go dancing in a club. Suddenly my boss shows up. What can I expect?
What you’re faced with in that instance mainly depends on how your boss deals with such situations. Basically, you’d have to proceed on the assumption that your boss will send you to Medical Service of the Health Funds, who’ll find out whether you really were unable to work [or not]. Additionally, you have to consider that, in such a case, you’ll be invited to an appraisal interview, where you’ll be asked whether you really were unable to work because of your illness.

And what consequences can this interview have?
Your boss would decide whether to give you a warning or fire you based on your answers in the interview, and on the results of your medical evaluation by the Medical Service of Health Funds. However, you could only get fired if you were actually not unable to work because of your sickness but only pretended to be sick. That’s a heavy violation of [your responsibilities], which gives the employer the right to fire you without warning.

Let’s assume that I’m not making up my incapacity to work—that I’m really sick.
Then by going to the club, you “only” acted against your obligation [to avoid anything that would] impede your recovery.

So I can’t be fired?
I’d say that firing you based on that neglect of duty wouldn’t hold up during an investigation in court, at least not when you weren’t given a warning for the same (or similar) [previous] actions.

Graffiti in Berlin that reads, “Chronically ill partying.” Image via Imago

The Labor and Employee Court in Cologne presided over a case in which an employee was fired while on sick leave because his boss saw him in a magazine photo, holding a beer in his hand. The Court ruled against the firing: a glass of beer is just fine, with all due respect. What about pubs?
[Like I said], your duties depend on your illness. I don’t know of any illness in which enjoying an alcoholic drink could be seen as [slowing down your] recovery, but it’s possible. You’d have to ask a physician.

But what if I also work as DJ in addition to my day job, and I play in a bar or a club while on I’m on sick leave?
It’s important to ask yourself whether, by performing at a club, you acted in a way that impeded your recovery. As a [general rule of thumb], you could expect that your employer or a lawyer wouldn’t trust your doctor’s note.

So my employer can just fire me?
If your employer fires you because of something like that but you were actually sick, you could successfully fight it in court. For that to happen, you’d have to disclose your illness and free your doctor from physician-patient confidentiality. That’s the only way [your doctor] would be able to testify in court that you were truly unable to work [at your other job] due to your illness even though you were playing in the club.

Alright, let’s try another scenario: Let’s say I’m going on vacation while on sick leave. Is that allowed?
Whether you go on holiday when you’re unable to work depends whether the trip can be considered [helpful to your recovery] or impeding [to it].

[I know people who’ve] planned in advance to go on sick leave. What happens if the employer finds out?
They’re basically pretending that they’re unable to work. It’s not real. As I said before, [that’s one of the cases] where you can be let go without warning.

When can an employer require a drug test from his employees?
A drug test can be ordered in cases when there’s a risk that the employee can cause great damage in the workplace, or when there’s a possibility you’re actually consuming drugs.

That means that just looking exhausted and having blue rings under my eyes isn’t enough?
Not, not really. It’s always decided on a case-by-case basis. How dire are the moments of suspicion, how dangerous is the job? For example, an overtired crane operator is a much bigger threat to others than an overtired postman.

These Startups Think the Future of the Music Industry is Artificial Intelligence

Last Thursday (May 18), music industry executives and potential investors flocked to Los Angeles’s El Rey Theatre for a glimpse of the potential future of the music-tech industry. Inside was a demo day concluding the first-ever Techstars Music startup accelerator program.

Headed by Bob Moczydlowsky, the former head of Twitter Music, the program invited 11 startups to work on their products from out of Techstars’ LA office over the course of three months. Each company received a $120,000 investment, access to a hundreds-large pool of mentors (including members of program partners Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, Sonos, and Harmonix), and lifetime support in exchange for six percent equity. The incubation period was, as Moczydlowsky told Billboard, “designed to be a year’s worth of work in three months.”

Those three months led up to the event at the El Rey Theatre, where each startup had roughly ten minutes to pitch themselves in hopes that someone would believe enough in their vision to provide financial support. During the demo day, the companies offered a variety of ideas: one, Hurdl, created a wearable, text-activated LED device that collects and analyzes data about a live event’s attendees; and another, Shimmur, aims to improve how celebrities and influencers interact with their fans through a content-upvote system. The most prominent theme of the day, however, was how companies are innovating the ways in which people make, experience, and monetize music using artificial intelligence.

Photo courtesy of Techstars Music

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the science of making machines complete tasks and solve problems that would require intelligence if performed by humans. The concept of AI has been around since about 1950, but it has become an increasing reality in the new millennium: with this technology, people can ask Siri to pull up the weather forecast on their iPhones, play competition-based video games without a human opponent, and drive self-parking cars. AI robots even write news articles.

Artificial intelligence has also been changing the music industry, from how songs are made to what tracks consumers listen to. Last year, British songwriter and producer Alex Da Kid used IBM’s Watson Beat—a cognitive technology that “understands music and lets artists change the sound of a song based on the mood they want to express”—to co-produce his single “Not Easy,” which debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Rock Digital Song Sales charts. Also last year, researchers at Sony shared the first pop song composed by AI, the Beatles-inspired “Daddy’s Car.” In the streaming world, platforms like Spotify are utilizing AI to recommend to users music they might like based on their listening habits.

Two of the startups in Techstars Music, Amper Music and PopGun, use AI to create custom music content, though each for different contexts. Amper co-founder and CEO Drew Silverstein, a film composer, envisioned the product as a solution for creating affordable, royalty-free audio for projects such as news reports, wedding videos, and sports highlight reels, whereas an alternative option would be using pre-written stock music. All a user has to do is determine which kind of style, mood, and length they want, and let technology do the rest—no prior music expertise needed.

Brisbane-based company PopGun, on the other hand, is using deep learning to build a “superhuman musician” that can write and produce original pop songs in collaboration with human artists. During his presentation, co-founder Jack Nolan introduced the audience to Alice, an AI that learned to listen to and understand music purely based on its sound (the raw frequencies that make up the song). He then showed a video in which a pianist “played” with Alice, who was able to anticipate the pianist’s next notes following a few riffs. With more practice, PopGun anticipate Alice will have the ability to jam with a human artist as if she were a studio musician.

Stockholm, Sweden-based startup Pacemaker‘s use of artificial intelligence means that DJs no longer have to choose between staying behind the decks and venturing out on the dancefloor. The DJ app (the first of its kind with a Spotify connection) allows users to mix tracks from an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch using the streaming platform’s vast library. Additionally, Pacemaker’s Autopilot feature allows anyone to be a DJ without knowing how to beat-match: it analyzes a user’s playlist, places tracks in the best playable order, and creates a seamless mix. Users can also use the AI technology to create and share professional-sounding DJ mixes using Pacemaker’s own Metamix format, which only saves information on how the mixtape was created, and not any song files. Since all tracks come from Spotify, artists generate track streams, thus making DJ mixes an actual source of revenue.

Another startup, Syncspot, focuses on how to use AI to monetize music and music-adjacent ventures. The marketplace for cross promotions (when two brands team up to promote each other’s products, as with the McDonald’s Happy Meal and the Super Mario toy it comes with) was created by the Jalil brothers, one of whom (Jubair) once bankrupted his agency when executing a cross-promotions deal with a meager budget, he recalled during his pitch. With Syncspot, Jubair explained, AI technology does all the work that he did—brand matchmaking, planning campaign strategy, and reporting—without the time and cost of human labor. Examples of brands they’ve worked with include Heineken, Unilever, and Coachella.

Many of these startups have good intentions: to save users valuable time and money. But they also re-open a long-discussed conversation regarding artificial intelligence: what’s the likelihood that this technology will stop being used to work with people, and instead be used to replace people?

Speaking to THUMP after the presentation, pop-music AI startup PopGun’s Nolan recalled that these concerns surfaced early on during conversations with industry people, causing his team to second-guess themselves. “They were like, ‘You don’t want an AI to write the music, that’s scary; people won’t like it; you’ll freak people out,'” he said. Despite these technological advancements, he believes that humans will always fundamental to the production process.

“[Our AI] can create music on its own, but we just don’t think’s as exciting,” he said. “Sure, it’s useful for people who just need a generic tune, but for us, the more exciting thing is that creative partnership and back-and-forth you get with people. It’s about giving artists the freedom to experiment with it. We don’t think the future is going to be either AIs or artists; it’s going to be AIs and artists.”

Krystal Rodriguez is on Twitter.

Composure Squad "Freaked Out" When He Heard This Horror-Like Club Track

Whether it’s for playing out at a club or listening at home, DJs and producers typically have an encyclopedic hoard of music, new and old. In The Last Record, they tell us about the last three songs or albums they’ve purchased, and why these were important additions to their music collection.

This week, we spoke to Jermaine Collins, aka Composure Squad, a DJ and member of the Them Flavors nightlife collective. Catch the DJ next at Eutopia 3 at Rutcorp in Chicago on June 17th. “It’s a great party with a variety of DJs, live performers and visual artists the entire night, and brings the actual most diverse crowd I’ve seen at any series,” Collins said.


Red Rat – “Tight Up Skirt”

Recently, I’ve been inspired to explore more diverse sounds than what I usually play in my sets (club, rap, techno ranging from 115-140 BPM). This lead me to reggaeton, which I’ve heard in passing a lot living in Humboldt Park [a predominantly black and Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago] the last two years. I didn’t get into dancehall at all, besides a few songs that I really liked (most notably “Text Message” by Busy Signal).

I saw someone post this song as a “mood” on IG and looked it up. When I heard the beat–more minimal and with less of the roots style that is standard in early dancehall and Red Rat’s high pitched voice coupled with sexually suggestive lyrics that I couldn’t completely understand–I was blown away. I listened to only dancehall for about a week after that, collecting names/low bitrate mp3’s of older albums or singles that I liked.

El Alfa – “Segueta”

As I said before, I’ve been listening to a lot of reggaeton. I’ve wanted to play what I’d liked from artists like Daddy Yankee, Voltio, and Don Omar while DJing, but realized I had no connection to the music as I had no idea what they were saying. I also had a desire to play songs that Spanish speakers would immediately recognize, so I hit up my friend in New York who also throws and plays parties for “actual hits.” He provided me with a couple playlists and this song immediately stuck out to me.

It was faster than what I’d become accustomed to hearing. But it also uses the same characteristics as most of what I like like a few sound effects (a bell, a hollow sounding whistle and something that sounds like a windy saw) along with driving percussion. I learned later that this was just called dembow.

Kieran Loftus – “Satin Sixers Jacket”

When I first heard this song late last year, I freaked out. My tastes veer on the darker/more experimental side of dance music, and this was honestly unlike anything I’d heard up to that point. The first third of the song sounds like a horror film, using only synth, an acid bass line, and pitched down vocals to set the mood. Around a minute later, the drums come in, and while the patterns are familiar, they shift from Philly club to techno in 30 seconds. This is all at 119 BPM. The effect is amazing, and the four songs [Kieran Loftus has] released since then are in the same family of sound.