- Published on Monday, 07 January 2019 12:33
When it comes to Burning Man, one will find it extremely difficult to put into actual words, infact it is probably impossible to describe it unless you have been and experienced this 'other planet', of course! I guess it can be anything you want it to be and more, set in the Nervada Desert catering for around 80 000 over 9 days . This festival takes creativity, fashion, community and imagination to a new level. A festival when literally ANYTHING goes.
"Over the course of its history, the Burning Man community has developed its own peculiar lexicon, an organic outgrowth of the event, the culture, and the unique landscape of the Black Rock Desert where the event takes place"
Some have described it as life changing, a rebirth, others claim there simply is just no way to describe it.
Jim Simpson, a longtime “Burner,” said he and his friends came up with the concept of “Oogmoo,” which is a word to describe something you have to see for yourself.
MEOKO put together some of our favourite fashion pictures from BM over the years.
And that is a WRAP!
Disclaimer - if any photographer would like to get intouch, we would be more than grateful to add your credits.
- Published on Monday, 24 December 2018 17:04
Hope you all had a nice Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year. As an end of year message I would like to emphasise the importance of cultural knowledge and passing on information from generation to generation which in turn, sustains the truthfulness of our music movement, like any other. With electronic dance music however, it is slightly different as, for being a relatively young movement, it has not been documented as widely as it should have in my opinion, such as in the academic realm as we still find ourselves trying to prove its cultural relevance in many ways as seen during fabric’s recent closure. I have, over the years, compiled lists of documentaries which guides us through this history and later contributed to some groups like the programme for Electronic Dance Music at City University where I did my Masters so I would like to share them here. They go through Disco, House, Techno, Geek (gear, technology, etc), amongst other things. They travel through showing how House made its way to the UK while Techno made its way to Berlin / Germany and how advances in technology had an impact in the history of music making.
(Isis Salvaterra - Founder of Toi Toi Musik, Agency and Record Label / Press and Communications at GuestHouse
DISCO / HOUSE
EVOLUTION OF TECHNOLOGY
- Published on Wednesday, 12 December 2018 08:29
Despite years of growing popularity, the Romanian scene managed to maintain striking integrity and passion. The list of artists from the country who developed their signature sound in the last decades is remarkable, showing an outstanding creative spirit and a strong will to explore minimal dance music outside the box. But the Romanian scene is also known to pay attention to its local uprising talents instead of focusing solely on the same characters over and over. Meoko is delighted to show its love and support to the Romanian scene and signal some talents to keep an eye on throughout 2019.
Resources - Various
- Published on Monday, 03 December 2018 23:15
Australia has long held a mysterious and exotic appeal for people the world over. It’s rugged, untamed natural beauty entices travelers from across the globe to visit its shores, creating a melting pot of culture and ideas. This unique atmosphere also permeates down into its underground music scene, injecting a cosmopolitan vibe onto dancefloors and inspiring its producers and promoters. Australian’s two biggest cities; Sydney & Melbourne became the setting for the explosion of the rave scene in the late 80’s, as English expats coming out of the UK’s Summer of Love brought with them the house, disco and techno sounds that swept the globe. Seminal warehouse parties and mammoth raves across both cities sparked a longstanding affair with House and Techno. This laid the foundation for more niche musical tastes to flourish with Australia’s current minimal scene putting down preliminary roots around 2011. This is about the people and spaces that have kept this music alive.
As influences from German labels like Perlon, Keinemusik, Kompakt and Playhouse began to find favor on Sydney dancefloors during 2011, collective ‘Braille’ appeared and began playing the forward-thinking sounds of micro, dub, deep house and minimal techno. Their progressively motivated tastes saw them spin regularly at iconic Burdekin & Imperial hotels, alongside hosting their own warehouse parties. Combining German influences with the emerging Romanian sound to great effect. The now defunct group opened the door for successive groups to evolve Sydney’s minimal scene. These early years also saw the rise of seminal event ‘Spice' ..a legendary after-hours party held in the intimate underground club called ‘The Spice Cellar’. Striking a chord with Sydney punters who yearned for a more European clubbing experience, it was a breeding ground for more experimental sounds, many of which were minimal in nature.
Tragically as the scene was blossoming, one of Sydney’s most defining moments landed like a hammer with the introduction of ‘lockout’ laws in 2014. Using inflated crime statistics to pursue a hard line against what they deemed to be rampant alcohol-fueled violence, State authorities instituted 1:30 am lock-outs and a 3am last drinks policy on clubs and bars. Targeting clubbing hotspots in Kings Cross, Oxford Street, and the CBD. Famous clubs like Goldfish Bar, Goodgod Small club and The Cellar were just a few of the many, that closed their doors due to heavy government regulations. Irrevocably changing the house and techno scene.
One group who not only weathered this storm but has emerged as the current spearhead of Australia’s minimal scene, are Mantra Collective. Forming in 2012, It’s three core members Telly, Whitecat and Aboutjack (Aboutjack left in 2018) have heroically maintained a steady influx of reputed minimal artist into the Australian club circuit. Their warehouse series (now onto its 16th installment) continues the legacy of the 80’s rave scene. One that took advantage of the inner west industrial districts as a refuge for countercultural movements, now utilized to escape the over-regulation and hostile attitude of state authorities. They were the first to bring artists like Vid, Cosmijn, Lazar Hoche, FUSE London’s Enzo Siragusa, Seb Zito and Rich NxT to Aussie shores. As well the being the ones responsible for major highlights in Sydney’s underground scene. In 2016 they collaborated with S.A.S.H., Romanian visual artist Cote and producer Arapu to pull off ‘Inner Space', a breathtaking audio-visual immersion at the ArtHouse. Their two ‘Reconstructed’ parties in 2017 also hosted iconic producers East End Dubs & Barac as well as Cezar & Subb-an in an incredible underground carpark location. These groundbreaking parties cemented Mantra as the current leaders of this scene.
Before the lockouts damaged Sydney’s nightlife, there were already established crews in the city and SASH is one of them. Although not focused entirely on minimal sounds, they have toured many artists in that realm like swiss whiz Alci, Romanian’s Cristi Cons and duo Vinyl Speed Adjust. Their weekly Sunday parties have been a ritual for Sydneysiders over the last several years. They host a daytime, open-air gathering at North Sydney’s Greenwood Hotel and an evening rager at the iconic ‘Home’ nightclub next to Darling Harbour. They’ve been a big supporter of local talent , whilst still consistently flying in talent from across the world to showcase on Aussie soil with the support of touring agency Solid Circles.
Solid Circles Touring have been a big force in feeding the Australian underground circuit with international tours from the likes of Sonja Moonear, Varhat, Sammy Dee, Priku, Traumer, S.A.M. and many many more. Led by Gregory Pepperpot the agency is a key player that’s connected overseas talent with Australian promoters. Their event series Hello has forged a strong partnership with local outfit Lokomotiv over the past year and a half. Focusing squarely on minimal house and techno the two brands have widened the scope for touring European producers. They’ve thrown shows with artists like Janeret, Anthea and Sepp at Oxford street venue The Bunker. Whilst having also showcased talents such as Germany’s Fabe, Italian Giuliano Lomonte, VBX frontman Ferro and Greek producer Lee Burton under the moodily lit lampshades of inner west nightspot Slyfox. Led by Tyson Brunn and resident Lachie Simpson Lokomotiv’s rise to prominence in Sydney was born out of their incredible podcast series and vinyl label which is capturing the current wave of Romanian music.
With vinyl being such a key ingredient for the dissemination of underground music, a huge windfall for Sydney came with the opening of ‘Something Else Records’ early this year. The first physical record store dedicated purely to underground house and techno music. It was a long-held dream for founder Dave Stuart, who alongside business partner Alex Dimitröff has played a pivotal role in Sydney’s nightlife for many years. Their weekly show’s at the Burdekin Hotel back in the day, were legendary, as they treated Sydney to the who’s who of international talent from across dub, minimal and techno spectrums. Now their record store is having a huge influence on the scene, importing quality vinyl into Australia, becoming the go-to spot for Sydney selectors. You can find vinyl releases from local labels like Addition By Subtraction, Touch Of Loft, Lokomotiv, Unic, Dokutoku & Elision on the shelves here, joining digital imprints like Museme & Conspiracy as they collectively contribute to Australia’s growing, more minimal focused discography.
Another vital crew within Sydney’s minimal community is collective ‘Roots’. Spearheaded by talented selector Marlie, their clandestine parties beckon partygoers to secret and exotic locations across the city, treating them to intimate and exhilarating musical experiences. Constantly experimenting with new concepts and spaces, Marlie leads a star cast of residents who are also sought after djs in their own right. Each bringing a unique flair and sonic flavour to the mix. Producers Venda and Variance join selector Nikola as core members. Their combined forces injecting a fresh and vibrant new energy into the cities underground consciousness.
A recent addition to Sydney’s minimal community is crew ‘BeAvanteGarde’ (B.A.G.). Having relocated to Australia from Brighton in the UK, the experienced team (led by Manfred Spagnoli and Andrea Dev) have had an instant and memorable effect on the scene. They’ve brought the likes of Junkie Inoue & caLLy to perform on Aussie soil for the very first time. Combining mesmerizing visual effects with world class sound systems in a formidable series of secretive warehouse raves. Their work striking a chord with Sydney punters who are hungry to experience the skills of foreign minimal icons.
While the Sydney scene continues to battle against bureaucracy, further south in Victoria’s capital Melbourne it’s been quite a different story. Similar lockouts were trialed in 2008 but were scrapped shortly after following a huge public backlash. As Melbourne is now fast becoming a 24hr city, its nightlife is booming. There are promoters and venues pushing minimal sounds there, but it’s still a niche scene. Ultimately the freedom of expression that comes from a scene not bound by government influence and oppression, is also one that’s more relaxed when it comes to pushing groundbreaking music. This hasn’t doused the fire of the few purveyors of minimalist music in Melbourne though, those who have built iconic parties within more mercantile surrounds. One such phenomenon is ‘The Breakfast Club’, a weekly, Monday morning afterparty that's a hotspot for Melbourne’s minimalist underground. Based at club Onesixone it pulls both local and interstate revelers who are treated to internationals like Nima Gorji, Dana Ruh & Bill Patrick. The guerrilla campaign to take Mondays back for the people is run by Gabriele Terlicher and Ethan Mclaren and has become a uniquely Melbourne institution. Complete with fresh fruit on offer to patrons and a Nexo sound system that provides the grit for their devilishly long 18hr long parties.
The great bastion for minimal in Melbourne has to be the institution, Killing Time. The intimate Chapel street club has had a storied history over the course of its 10 years of operation. Famous as an intimate, perfectly tuned sounding room, Killing Time has hosted an endless list of underground players. One crew that has been utilising the Killing Time space regularly is Losing Control. A new brand yet a highly experienced crew, with years spent in the booth in the Uruguayan, London and Glasgow scene between them. Their bookings consist of Losoul, Audio Werner, Vinyl Speed Adjust and they've booked and assisted Georgia Girl, Harry McCanna and Junki Inoue to tour the country. A fiercely independent club that embodies a true underground ethos. Killing time also plays host to newer event series ‘Over’ run by local producer Peruw. It’s a hometown favourite for veteran selectors like Brock Ferrar and locals Mimm and Made Inc.
With Mantra at the helm of Australia’s minimal movement, newer collectives have formed and bought with them renewed energy as they carve out their own space within the scene. Up North in Brisbane, brand Flux have established a solid reputation from warehouse jaunts with internationals like Cristi Cons, Lazar Hoche & East End Dubs. In Sydney, industry brand ‘Unic’ run by Hendrik and Elia, continue to garner fans with exclusive premieres and vinyl reviews. They’re building strong international ties with Romanian and Ukrainian producers, as they build on their noteworthy podcast series and newly minted vinyl imprint.
With their masterfully decorated and flamboyantly themed raves, the ‘Conspiracy’ crew have curated an event series that have become a huge favourite for Sydney locals over the past year. Reigniting that mid-morning magic that was lost with the close of Spice, brand ‘Afters’ has now established itself as Sydney’s go to after party. Alongside these budding new additions to the scene, Club 77, a historic Sydney club steeped in two decades of history has just reopened its doors after an innovative renovation. Sporting a brand new, world class KV2 sound system it’s now set to become one of the new bastions for underground music in the city.
Growing numbers of minimal artists have also begun to infiltrate boutique festival line ups. Festivals like Subsonic and Babylon are set to bring out icons Zip, Raresh, Fumiya Tanaka, Cezar and Cristi Cons to Aussie shores over the coming months, solidifying a growing taste for this niche music. The real distillation of the Australian scene, however, can be found in the output of its local producers, many of whom have begun to break ground on international labels. The most recognizable would have to be Monika Ross, of Serialism, FA>IE and Metroline Limited fame. Talented producers like Litmus (Signature Records / Pathway Traxx) and Sun Archive (Politics of Dancing / Hoarder) are certainly names to watch in the future, alongside rising producers like Nate S.U & Yokobus from the Conspiracy crew. Variance (Weather Recs), Dan Baartz, Harrison Morris and Papa K (Flux) are also amassing a solid following. Fellow Sydney artists on the minimal techno side are Venda (Bodyparts, Norse Projekt) and Mike Watts (Mantra Collective). These two are constantly honing their craft and are set for huge things next year. Down in Melbourne, promising producers like Peruw, Occult Funk (CMOK), Thomas David (Museme.), Dylan Griffin & Chad B (Subsonic Music) are all beginning to garner attention for their productions, channeling worldwide influences to create brand new sounds. They perform alongside favoured Sydney selectors like Le Brond, Jac Frier, Persian Rug, Jackson Winter (Conspiracy), Val York (B.A.G.), A.lias, Thilini (Flux, Mantra Collective), Cassette, Marley Sherman (S.A.S.H.) and Tiril, all of which continue to push an exciting and essentially minimal house and techno sound.
Although a geographically isolated community, Australia’s minimal scene is gathering momentum, spurred on by numerous passionate supporters and creatives who seek to build a world class movement that can take its place on the international stage.
Words by Hendrik
- Published on Wednesday, 07 November 2018 15:09
For decades, Austin’s self-proclaimed “Live music capitol of the world” motto has generously boasted both local and touring artists to global fame. The city’s counterculture and music got noticed as early as the 1960’s –- where singers and songwriters flocked to the lush Central Texas hill country to create a grittier, more lawless, and psychedelic-inspired sound that melded hippies and rednecks. These progressive sounds brought to light artists like Janis Joplin, Willie Nelson, The 13th Floor Elevators, Spoon, Explosions in the Sky and countless others.
The mid-sized city has attracted free spirits for decades. It makes sense that a state as large as Texas, which is home to over 28 million people, would give way to a micro-culture like Austin. It's the distinct attitude that enabled the Capitol to prop the early New Wave and Punk scenes in the late 70’s and early 80’s followed by an impressive lineage of Alternative and Indie Rock bands through the 90’s and early 2000’s.
Yet, when it comes to dance music, the city’s contributions are anonymous compared to the far more documented histories of Detroit, New York, and Chicago. Outside of Texas, little is known about the local DJs and promoters that have been contributing to Austin’s grandiose but rooted vision to create a new canvas for emerging underground artists worldwide.
House music hero Brett Johnson traces Austin’s cultivation of dance music from his early years as a DJ in Texas:
“There was something special about dance music here in the late 80’s and early 90’s; being right in the center of the country afforded us access to music and DJs coming from the East and West Coast dance music scenes. Dallas had a strong house scene which was attributed to an influx of New York transplants and Austin was pushing a more euphoric warehouse sound. It’s completely understated how much was actually happening throughout Texas because everything was more or less underground at that time.”
It’s 12:30 am on Friday in the center of bustling Congress Avenue; one of the main roads that connects the city and shows off the unobstructed view of the state’s massive Capitol building. A group of exuberant young men and women artfully layered in monochromatic black attire catwalk their way into a bar. As they strut by businessmen and politicians decompressing their week’s anguishes over cocktails they illustrate the juxtaposition of the city that has cozily cohabited the concept “weird” for decades.
They make their way to the back of the bar where a thin, well-groomed man sits next to a closed double doorway. After a quick exchange of friendly welcomes they walk through the doors into what feels like an air-tight room that’s shaped like a square. There’s approximately 100 people moving to the stripped-down rhythm that takes over the room. The lighting is calculated and unobtrusive.
Beyond the feeling of entering into a secret party, the most overwhelming observation is the sound. It paints the space with a crisp mid-level and low-end punch. You get clarity no matter where you stand in the room. The music is a hypnotic, electro-inspired beat, which pulsates ubiquitously. The selector is one of the party’s founders and residents, a polished DJ that goes by Majiini. The mood of the party is distinct: this is an affair for refined palates. However, the air remains inviting; there’s a lack of pretension that one would typically associate with a party that esteems this level of aesthetic and production quality. There’s a maturity in the crowd that still proclaims a sense of house-party intimacy. Over the next few hours, a certain tension builds: where the crowd converts itself into initiated dancing; where the music precision begins to increase in pressure, expressing intense bursts of colors and shapes.
The production behind this event, BlackTone, is one of the most unexpected underground parties being shaped in the United States. It’s emerging in an opportune time where there’s a void to fill in Austin's currently mainstream dance music identity. Each BlackTone event is curated under the ethos that elegance, intelligence, and community are complementary ingredients introducing Texas the forefront sounds emerging from Europe.
Behind the BlackTone concept are two charismatic figures who exude warmth and passion for niche dance music: Alejandro Joya and Jorge Castillo. Alejandro, born in San Francisco, is an energetic, approachable Honduran who grew up in Texas. As a natural conversationalist, you’d never know he’s an introvert. He has a polish and wit about him, perhaps attributed by professional life in sales, which inadvertently fuels his tenacity.
Jorge, a DJ and avid vinyl collector, is an inquisitive and slightly recluse character - a perfect balance to his counterpart. Born and raised in Honduras, he moved to Austin a few years ago. Jorge is an introspective man, with a poetic way of expressing himself.
“I’m not a fan of big crowds. There’s a type of paralysis that comes from the abundance,” says Jorge. “When you have smaller amounts of people it creates the right conditions for exposure. To me, Austin feels very homey. There’s just enough going on here to open you up to new experiences without losing the sort of connection and groundedness you get when cities become too large and dense.”
Both Alejandro and Jorge emanate certain characteristics that make them uniquely qualified to introduce something different to Austin: they have a distinct Latin flare with European values and American determinism.
“For me, it’s always been a unique experience having a Honduran background and European affinity while also reconciling that I’m Texan. This third-culture kid syndrome brought out of me a desire to find ways to connect with people. Music, particularly the environments in which its experienced, was always an appealing and effective format for me to connect. I wanted to take that concept and create it here in Austin because I felt like the culture could handle it,” Alejandro shares.
The initial inspiration for BlackTone came shortly after the two friends returned from a marathon of Off-Sonar parties showcasing Perlon, Arpiar and tINI and the Gang. Frustrated by the influx of big room DJs saturating the city’s mainstream nightlife, and longing for the elevated dance music culture in Europe, they decided to organize a series of parties to present the sounds of more subtle, trip-inducing elements of house and techno. The second element that inspired BlackTone was the realization that this style of music needed to be introduced in the right type of format and environment.
Alejandro: “Most people who’ve lived here for even a short period of time know that Austin has two sides. There’s the exterior, which is for the tourists and college-town machismo party crowd. And then there’s this creative underlay. Like, you know that a lot of magic has been created in this city when it comes to music...and despite that you still have to search for it. It’s usually right around the corner but you have to keep your eyes open for it.”
Jorge: “Boundaries can be healthy. We had to create an environment that kept out the type of noise that distracts people from letting themselves be free: we want people to feel safe to be themselves and to use the right type of music to induce a level of introspection and stimulation they can’t get in most other experiences.”
In most American clubs, headliners only play for two hours and the night ends abruptly due to legislation and culture. In response, they committed to work with venue owners to present the music in intimate after-party formats; typically offering four hour DJ sets (or longer) for headliners and residents.
A pairing of the BlackTone sound coupled with an elegant venue proved to be a satiating recipe. They first tested their idea by inviting a respected Honduran DJ, which was warmly validated by Austin’s locals. Supported by their friends who invited others to experience their first party, Jorge and Alejandro realized their introduction to Austin couldn’t have come at a better time.
Only a couple of months later, they decided to take a calculated gamble and organize parties showcasing the sprouting sounds of techno coming from Romania. Their first guest, Sepp, headlined and had such an incredible time that he ended up evangelizing the Austin party to other international artists. In almost no time, BlackTone began circulating in Romania and beyond, galvanizing a remarkable roster of DJs such as Gescu, Priku, Afriqua, Giammarco Orsini, Lamache, Robin Ordell, Varhat, and Christian AB.
The common thread across each party is the level of care for the artists they invite and the production consistency. Each party experience offers a unique venue tastefully decorated with lavish plants, a capacious dj booth, red lights and candles, which creates an environment and mood that invites crowds searching for sophistication with a hint of hedonism.
Jorge: “We have this vision to create a level of magic that’s obvious enough people could begin to realize it actually exists. When you do something like that, it requires both planning and improvisation, which can be difficult to pull off...but when you do you know that you’re doing something special for the world and then the world gives back to you. It’s [the world] a mirror to your perspective.”
Equally noticeable to the visual detail is the music programming and spotlight on local artists. BlackTone has cultivated a group of refined and proficient resident DJs. Most of the DJs behind BlackTone have been stewarding their own events and cultivating underground parties for years under monikers such as Movement Collective, Mind the Funk, Loopy, and others. Each of these parties are committed to pushing sounds from avant garde to minimal techno and deep house.
The DJs – Robert Roman, Carlos Varela, Chklte, Isa, and Alejandro Dozal, Majiini, and Timo Salerno – represent a lineage of talented selectors now residing in Austin from Mexico, Romania, Honduras, Texas and beyond. With record collections that span a wide range of both new and nostalgic each of these DJs possess a distinct identity when they play – the common thread being their desire to dig for and expose rare, forgotten, and fringe sounds in dance music.
Alejandro: “This might sound confident but I truly believe our local artists, the BlackTone residents and others we’ve had open or close the party, can compete with anyone. We have quality selectors who have the the type of emotional intelligence and patience it takes to understand a room and take people on a journey. I think it’s only a matter of time, and not too long from now, where our talent here will be noticed by other respectable events throughout the country.”
In a time when the world desperately needs to see more good things happening to good people, the community culminated by music and art should be one of the last environments corroded by the ego and friction that can often be found in competitive cities. The curators behind BlackTone act like a family. Their passion for music and their love for each other is displayed by the level of dedication and planning they put into their events. BlackTone attributes their quick growth to the foundation and momentum others in the local scene have created as well as their symbiotic relationship with Movement Collective (who have also hosted both emerging and established artists such as Andrey Pushkarev, Mihai Pol and Melodie in the last year). They’ve tapped into a cadence that offers a level of class when it comes to dance music without saturating one sound over another. Perhaps it’s the Texas sincerity that roots these events, or it’s their fortitude to create memorable experiences. Their mentality has persevered and caught the attention of larger talents as BlackTone will be partnering with NY & Barcelona based promotions company ID to host Praslesh this month.
“Everyone DJ we’ve invited here has been completely surprised by the amount of quality people in our community,” says Alejandro. “We know that we’re not offering the most luxurious or top of the line nightclub experiences compared to cities like London or Berlin, but when you have good people turning up consistently with smiles on their faces and enthusiasm for hard to find music, it makes up for it every time.”
With their focus on intimacy, quality, and hospitality BlackTone is raising their flag in a seemingly unlikely place to illustrate a remarkable model for showcasing the fringed, stripped-down sounds in dance music. They’re doing so with a touch of class that brings comfort to DIY venues, making it accessible for the uninitiated and remarkably unique for mature crowds. But most importantly is how well they’ve responded and adjusted themselves into the burgeoning community while maintaining their creative autonomy and music-first sense.
Chad Will: www.facebook.com/willfuldesignandphoto/
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