Toyface: Follow the Rules of the Trainwreck

Cover art pictureI’ve not covered music and arts projects I am, or have been involved here, much to my changrin. My film ventures have taken a back seat this year, although Moving Day continues to garner awards, my role as Associate Producer has long passed.

Yesterday I had the chance to catch-up with Tamysn and James the two driving forces behind toyface. They are just off their frantic album launch phase, I was Executive Producer for, and we talked on Skype to look at the next few weeks and getting a promoter and publicist involved to help them gain wider attention for the album.

You can hear and buy the album from bandcamp, here. If you have any radio contact, even here in the USA, or especially in Austin, I have a few CD’s that I can send you to help promote their work.

If you like what you hear, they also have a soundcloud page here, which has some great remixes, including this one from Oilver Si.

Where Love Lives: Frankie Knuckles And The Dance Floor : The Record

I’m not going to drone on here about Frankie Knuckles, I’ve done enough of that on Facebook. This NPR review of Frankies’ impact and his music though contains two of the best ever in a music review

To listen to his “The Bomb Mix” of Chanté Moore’s 1995 R&B song “This Time” is to be suspended in air for 10 minutes.

and

Moore sings Knuckles’ rendition more tenderly (she recut the vocal in his studio, following his directions to sing it at a club-friendly tempo), more like she’s having a secret talk with God, as if she’s praying that this time, heaven allowed, things are going to work out. She’s singing as if she’s asking to be blessed.

As much as people are calling Frankie the “”God Father of House music”, what Frankie really did was kept soul alive.

Where Love Lives: Frankie Knuckles And The Dance Floor : The Record : NPR.

If you want more of Frankie Knuckles, his personal soundcloud page has dozens of mixes and tracks from over the years. Dimitri from Paris, and many others are producing tribute mixes, also on soundcloud.

Frankie at Kingdom, Austin
(c) Learning secrets

Finally thanks to Christian Barbuto and the folks at Resident Advisor, Learning Secrets, and Kingdom nightclub in Austin for bringing Frankie to town last year. Great to see Christian last night at the impromptu Thursday night Frankie celebration.

Flash Mob Austin: Operation Happy

Mission date: March 15th, 2013

Mission time: 9:45-10:45a.m.

Meeting Place: St Davids Episcopal Church, E 7th, San Jacinto.

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Mission description: Dance as a group, inspired by Pharrell Williams Happy and the 24hoursofhappy website. After a mission briefing between 9:45 and 10:00 a.m., agents will disperse and assemble at assigned positions along East 6th Street.

At 10:15 a.m. an agent will come along 6th St playing happy, the other agents will come out from the sides and dance along behind the Happy Agent. We will dance from San Jacinto to Red River, turn and come back. Agents are requested not to congregate together, not to draw attention to themselves why waiting to join in, and to disappear quietly after they’ve finished. Agents will be given pins/buttons to give out.

East 6th won’t be too busy, but it will be closed to traffic at 10 a.m. and there will be enough people around to make it worth the effort. We will meet back at the church for a debrief.

What to wear: Anything bright, happy!

How to dance: Anyway you want, see the video and website above, most importantly, clap along!

How will I hear the music: I have a large amp that will play on repeat.

Anything else? Yes, there are lots of road restrictions, parking will be expensive close-in. The lot on the east corner of E7th and San Jacinto opposite the church will be open and accessible from 10am.

If you have friends who want to participate thats great. Also we need people to take pictures. I’ve been promised a professional videographer, but since we/I am not paying, I’m not betting. See the following map.

See you Saturday. CLAP ALONG!

Because music(2013)

Because music mattersI’ve found no “best of 2013” music lists that contained anything even vaguely my taste. This year has also seen dance music “Jump the shark”  like it did back in 1979, where EDM has really become an acronym of Electronic Disco Music and should really be called Electropop, it mostly has no soul..

The list that put me over the top this year though was “The 25 Best Songs of 2013 (The Entire Year)” by time.com’s Melissa Locker @woolyknickers which contains almost nothing palatable, a few ok tunes, and a couple of down right offensive tracks. As far as I can recall, I’ve never done a music list before, since I had a free evening. I’ve grouped in logical, to me, musical styles. Also, I’ve included tracks that were new to me in 2013 and included the year of release where they were previously released. Because music makes you feel good!

Because music(2013) – The soundcloud playlist. Enjoy.

Best re-edit/re-mixes

  1. Sun – Two Door Cinema Club (Late Night Tuff Guy remix)
  2. Skyfall – Adele (DJ Electronce Sucker Punch remix)
  3. Losing You – CJ Hilton (Fred Everything remix
  4. I Want You Back (Dimitri from Paris Supa Funk Brakes Mix) –

    Jackson 5

Minimal

  1. Love Inc. – Booka Shade
  2. Battleships (Sasha Beatless Mix) – Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka feat. Abigail Wyles
  3. Waste Love – Kaskades Ice Mix
  4. Hypnotized – Oliver Kolezki feat. Fran (Original Mix)(2009)
  5. Haleshop – Booka Shade
  6. Telecaster – Gui Borratto(2010)
  7. U Were The One (Original Mix) – Kulkid

Dance Music

  1. Fall For You feat. April Sandy Rivera’s Classic Mix – Kings of Tomorrow
  2. Make me feel – Ange(2011)
  3. Everybody wants something – Akabu feat. Alex Mills, Joey Negro Strip Mix.
  4. DUI – Gareth Emery, Ashley Wallbridge(2012)
  5. Spectrum [feat. Matthew Koma] – Zedd
  6. Symettries –

    Austin Leeds, Paul van Dyk

  7. Clarity [feat. Foxes] – Zedd

Dunno what to call it

There has been interesting development in uptempo pop/dance music this year. Lots of tracks that are a mix of folk/blue grass, electronic, acoustic, and are very heavily orchestrated and include drops from dubstep or 60’s soul more than traditional dance music. Avicii got totally panned for doing a live set incorporating significant non-electronic elements at Ultra Music Festival in Miami. With the exception of the John Cale track, here is a great selection of the genre, it’s great music, it’s just not pure dance, or for that matter EDM.

  1. Hide – Little May
  2. Not Giving In (feat John Newman) – Rudimental
  3. Waiting all Night (feat Ella Eyre) – Rudimental
  4. Love me Again – John Newman
  5. I want to talk 2 U – John Cale(2012)
  6. Think of You – MS MR
  7. Wake me up – Avicii
  8. Free – Rudimental
  9. Cheating – John Newman

Back to mine

  1. Welcome to my world – Depeche Mode
  2. Baddest Blues – Beth Hart
  3. She – Laura Mvula
  4. Another Night In – Tindersticks(1997)
  5. Don’t Wait – Mapei
  6. Out of my head – John Newman

Lost and Found

  1. Ordinary Joe – Terry Callier(2008) – Terry was re-discovered by the UK music scene in the late 1990’s, and his story is a classic example of the British soul scene and the complete eco system that supports unknown and new soul and dance music. Wikipedia mentions this briefly. I actually prefer the Japanese Modal Soul producer Nujabes version. Terry died from cancer on October 27, 2012 and so the start of 2013 saw a lot of retrospectives and re-edits. This 2007 live recording of Terry in London is great, you can feel the soul, he starts by saying “welcome home”.
  2. Relax(Jazzed) – Blank and Jones. I first came across Piet Blank and Jasper Jones work 10-12 years ago on a number of the early Cafe del Mar, and Hed Kandi Chill out compilations. They’ve produced an interesting series of downtempo albums in the Relax  and Milcharbar compilation series. Earlier this year I was looking for their mix of Angels by Sara McLaughlin on Amazon.com and came across the the first Relax compilation. Amazon helpfully also suggested Relaz(Jazzed), this is a jazz version of a number of tracks from the Relax compilations, featuring tracks from Edition 4. It’s fabulously downtempo Jazz, beautifully played on instruments by Julian and Roman Wasserfuhr. If I was looking for an album of the year, this would be it.

MIXES

Greg Wilson continues to crank out a brilliant collection of mixes from his live sets which contain either his re-edits, re-mixes or those by a cadre of the top folks from the soundcloud crew. Greg’s 4.5 hour mix from December 12th Berghain in Berlin is a classic example.

Sven Neer, a local favorite ways to keep up with emerging club music now has a regular gig at Lazer Trance, StereoLive in Houston and for the most part isn’t posting to Soundcloud anymore. A new discovery for unconventional mixes has been DJ James Bubblefunk out of Thailand. I’ve particularly enjoyed his themed mixes.

Mix/Compilation of the year though is the Sasha beatless continuous mix from Involv3r. My favorite track is the beatless version of Battleships, but the whole 43-mins is packed full of minimal tracks, that work great together.

Music video of the year is John Newmans’ Love me again. This is my late teens, the tempo, the clothes, the Northern Soul theme, the teenage angst, set in a nothern town its a take on Romeo and Juliette. Brilliant. I get to see Newman in San Francisco in January, the tickets were just $15.

New Music

A great place for new music, especially mixes has been the London based oki-ni mix series on both soundcloud and mixcloud. I prefer the mixcloud version, as mixcloud includes and auto-generates track names which helps find the individual tracks.

Finally, for early 2015 I’m looking forward to getting advanced releases from Tiko based on his first EP release, and hopefully, forthcoming album which he has been working on also in Berlin.

Epitaph

Disco will never be over. It will always live in our minds and hearts. Something like this that was this big, and this important, and this great, will never die. Oh for a few years, maybe many years it will be considered passe and ridiculous. It will be misrepresented, caricatured and sneered at, or worse, completely ignored. People will laugh about John Travolta, Olivia Newton John, white polyester suits and platform shoes and going like this! [Mimics Saturday Night Fever pose] But we had nothing to do with those things and still loved disco. Those who didn’t understand will never understand. Disco was much more, and much better than all that. Disco was too great and too much fun to be gone forever. It has got to come back someday. I just hope it will be in our own lifetimes. – Josh Neff, Last Days of Disco the movie, 1998

Ageing Concert Love – Zimmer Park

aclDespite living within easy walking distance of Zilker Park, I very much doubt I’ll ever go to ACL again.

I know many people love it, there is a real buzz around it. C3 seem to have overcooked it this year extending it to two almost identical weekends. The number of free giveaways of wristbands, people offering them for sale is much higher than in previous years.

For me though, ACL is without doubt the worst open air music festival I’ve ever been too. Half the bands are geriatric; about the same percentage of the audience is so past their prime, they have to sit in unorganized and dangerously placed lawn chairs, in the evening when it’s dark these become a real hassle.

The music scheduling, seems to follow no rhyme or reason, ensuring only that big names don’t clash. It requires you to wander around the park trying to decide how to avoid the aging comeback rock group, or this year strangely, Lionel Ritchie, which must be some form of unexplained joke. While trying to avoid the ageing rockstars, you have to avoid the ageing audience, only to arrive at another stage where you have to do the same all over again.

For those of us fortunate enough to live within walking distance of “Zimmer Park”, we can avoid it by going home between sets. Sadly this requires something akin to a death March along Barton springs Rd where there is plenty of opportunity to be assaulted, cursed and generally hustled by some of Austins finest.

Acl = ageing concert liabilities

ps. Yes, Concerts are for sitting on the grass, and standing, even at my age.

TWC Cable and Home Telephone gone

After some procrastination, most due to the real/actual lack of choice, today I cancelled my Time Warner Cable “All the best” subscription and switched to just Internet only. I’m replacing the TV part of the subscription with DISH network, using their Dish America package.

At least according to Time Warner Cable, my Internet will cost $62.10 for the Turbo Internet service, which is what I have now, and claims “Up to 20Mbps” download and “Upload speeds up to 2Mbps”. Once all the change is done, I’ll likely upgrade this to Extreme if the prices are as TWC say they are. I have to get an cable modem to save another $3 per month.

Depending on how DISH network works out, this will mean

$50.30
$62.10
--------
$112.40

versus my new TWC monthly bill of $202.70. The difference of $90.30 will be more than enough to pay for an unlimited data plan with tethering and wireless hotspot with t-mobile, which makes up for a basic TWC Home Phone service. Again, once all this is settled down, I’ll use set-up my Google Voice number as a home phone.

The final step will be to replace my Time Warner Cable Internet service. Currently there are no practical alternatives for my house in south central Austin.

  • AT&T do not provide DSL or similar;
  • Clear is available, but would be limiting when I want to watch or livestream HD and someone else wants to use Voice-over-IP;
  • Grande Communications to not provide service to my street
  • Verizon fios – unavailable in my zipcode

Frankly this lack of competition is appalling, in what is claimed to be one of Americas high tech cities, and allows Time Warner Cable to exist as a complete monopoly.

When the TWC Sales rep was trying to work a deal and keep me as an “All the best” customer, she repeatedly kept saying “I know you are working to a budget”, to which I’d say “No I am not, I can afford to pay for this, I just won’t, your services are good but just over priced”, she either didn’t get it, or her script didn’t have a response path.

Listening to music

Sometime contact and innovative UK Dj/Producer Greg Wilson has a 33-minute interview, I assume based on his Living to music series that he has been running for a couple of years now. Greg talks about actually sitting and actually listening to the music, while not doing anything else. Greg makes a good point about being able to focus while listening.

Which reminds me of being about 14, and converting my clothes cuboard in my bedroom into a mini-recording, listening booth. I had a small stool, papered the walls in music newpaper and magazines, wired up a small red light, and I’d retreat in there, close the doors and listen to albums. At the start of Greg’s interview he talks about hearing early reggae and Trojan singles. Which brings up another thread, which is how influential the West Indian and Jamaican immigration to the UK was in the 1950’s.

While it was far from easy for those who came to help rebuild Britain, after the second world war, what’s true is that they had undeniable impact on music and culture. Don Letts Subculture series covers the impact and the musical impact, Robert Elms talks about the impact on fashion and clothing. The whole sub-culture was so anti- the main stream of the time.

That 1960’s impact certainly opened up minds and wallets to the Jazz, Funk and eventually disco in the 1970’s. Fascinating stuff seen in retrospect, in the fourth episode, Letts nicely shows the how that merged with the Punk music revolution, the subject of my last blog post, which on the Roxy Club, where Letts was the DJ.

The complete Letts six part series Subculture, is available via the Fred Perry Subculture website. If you are interested in this fasset of British culture, I’d recommend watching it all. My personal story is in the latter part of Episode-3, Episode-4 and the early part of Episode-5. I managed to acquire these as MP4 files and look forward to watching them all in sequence one day.

For the record, my Dad, Frank Cathcart, almost always wore white socks and September 23, 1973 was my 15th birthday and the first All Nighter at Wigan. As Robert Elms says in Episode 4 of Letts Subculture, Soulboys, “there was a line across the country about Luton, and you didn’t cross it.” – We lived on that line, often straddling it.

Greg Wilsons latest Living to Music was Shuggie Otis ‘Inspiration Information’. Its a great album, give it a real listen.

The Roxy, and walking out on the Clash

Well I listened to the Robert Elms, BBC London show from Wednesday, it had a fascinating regular feature from Russell Clarke, the “rock and roll routemaster“.

roxyThis week Russell was covering the history of the Roxy Night Club in London. Between Russells description and Roberts memories of London and the London club scene at the time they captured it perfectly for me. I went on to read Paul Markos “The Roxy London WC2: A Punk History”. The book contains some great qoutes that seem to sum up the dance music scene at the time too, one from Billy Idol:

We gravitated towards gay discos because they were much more tolerant of young people like us, being different. They left us alone, everything thing sprang from that gay scene.”

and another from Boy George:

Gay clubs were the only safe havens, Rods, Louises, Chageramas in Neal St, and the Sombrero in High St Kensington.

and indeed, many of these were the clubs of my teen dance music years, including for me and our small group from the ‘burb s, Angie, Jane, Barbs, Paul, Colin plus Andrew and Euan from Cuffley, Mash in Greek St among other clubs.

What the Elms show and especially Markos book did, was answer one of the big questions for me thats being eating away at me for years. I recall going to Chaguaramas in a then pretty run down Covent Garden many times. In 1975 it was one of the best Jazz Funk clubs in London. It was tiny place, like many of the best clubs at the time, it was in the basement. Through the summer of 1975 it was fine, but over the next year it slipped into decline, starting to show from the wear and tear of being a tiny club that was pretty busy.

Over on my triathlon blog, I wrote back in 2008 about when “disco died”. I ended that blog with

Anyone out there confirm or correct my memories? Which year was it? Was there a party New Years Eve 1976 with a punk band ? Who were the band that played that night? and was it chaguaramas or Shagaramas? I must admit, I always thought it was the latter.

Well it looks like it was indeed New Years Day. Which meant I was there at the start of the seminal Punk Revolution in London actually got its home, the Roxy. Me, as I said over in the other blog, when the Clash came on at midnight, we walked out in disgust. There is a great video on the Roxy on Facebook, as far as I remember, I never went back.

Footnote: I emailed Russell Clarke just before writing this. He replied promptly, in his reply was this link, which is a compiled list of all the nights and bands that played at the Roxy. Case closed, no gig on 31-12-76.

You can actually read Markos book for free, here in the google cache. If the link doesn’t work, search for chaguaramas night club and take the first result that google returns. They mention us at the top of page-61.

Britain vs America

On a pure headcount basis, for talent Britain appears to beat America hands down. Of course, it doesn’t there is so much “undiscovered” talent in America. As a Brit’ abroad, I regularly get asked why either people or a certain style or culture seems to catch on and then move over to the US. Most recently this came up on Greg Wilsons’ blog in relation to electronic dance music and here is the answer I gave. It does though, in my opinion, apply to almost everything.

America is a very different place from the movies, and a massive country compared to the UK. Leaving aside the racial aspect to dance music, and from the 1970’s the fact it was heavily tied to the gay scene; and the disco is dead revolt of the late 1970’s, all of which made it much harder for dance music to get heard.

America is a culture, where the country is massive and they only way to succeed, largely, is to associate with established clubs/cults. You dress, think and act like them, and to succeed, you are then the best amongst them. This applys in across both geographic and societal barriers.

There are almost no national media outlets, even today, those that are have to pander to the masses, or fail. People, music etc. that are out of the norm’ are mostly excluded, even the extremes are pretty normal and/or manufactured rather than organic. News travels slow.

Compare that to the UK, the country is VERY (geographically) small, people live next to each other, on top of each other, in close proximity.  All media, for the most part is national, news travels fast. Something that catches on in the UK only has to be 1/100th as popular as the USA, or even less.

In the UK, different is celebrated, not shunned. Add to that a more tolerant sexual society, a less racial society, and a more progressive music industry where change makes money, not controlling interests protecting their investment. Dance music came along, it caught on with a small crowd, it was celebrated, successful and grew in the UK, after a while each generation moves on, my daughter(29) now bemoans the state of dance music, much as I did back in the 1980’s, but it will carry on.

The same thing happens here in the USA, but they are complaining and comparing the AOR music from 1980/90’s while EDM has captured the youth market because the music business no longer controls the distribution channels in the same way.