It was snowing on a Saturday in April. I had collected a lot of great techno over the last several months. I also felt like listening to some techno from several years ago. Good times.

Features tracks from Benjamin Damage, Leftfield, Jon Hopkins, Four Tet, Slam, and Silent Servant.

Features releases from 50Weapons, Infectious, Kompakt, Erased Tapes, Droid, and Drumcode.

I was lucky enough to interview Spinscott, who is in Chicago this weekend for Bass Riot!, the bi-weekly event hosted at Township by the DnBid crew. The Maryland- based DJ, producer, and lifelong drummer combines his advanced mixing skills with classic and original tracks, and loop-free, real-time drum machine action to deliver unique performances. In addition to his YouTube channel, he also plays a weekly radio show on Jungletrain every Monday night from 7-9 PM EST, featuring old-school jungle, original tunes, and his signature live MPC drumsounds.

Spinscott PhotoCheck the official Spinscott artist page for exclusive video and audio content. Also check his Soundcloud page for free, downloadable tracks. Some of his recent efforts are available (listed below) via the major digital retailers (Beatport, Juno, TrackItDown, etc.), and more are on the way.

Limbic System / Trust Me (Dynamix Records)
The Rhythmic Induction EP (Dynamix Records)
Ocular Vol. 1 feat. Achromatic & Lights (Faction Digital Recordings)

Droopzilla: Do you consider yourself a DJ or Producer?
Spinscott: I tend to consider myself more of a music fanatic & performer than anything else really. I have constantly been exposed to all kinds of music pretty much since I was born, and performing / creating music in one way or another since I was about 5 or 6.

The definitions of “DJ” and “Producer” have become somewhat ambiguous over the years, and although I certainly do both, I get excited about pushing the boundaries and differentiating from the typical interpretation of such terms.

Droopzilla: What got you into DJing, particularly jungle and dnb? 
Spinscott: Having a long history with DJing traditional top 40 music, my first introduction into electronic music occurred in the early-mid 1990s. As a lifelong drummer I have always searched for music that had dynamic and complex rhythms that were challenging to both listen to, and fun to drum along to… the first time I ever heard a jungle mixtape (which featured all 1994-1995 jungle) I was instantly obsessed.

I remember playing some of those tapes so much in the car that they would snap… and ultimately my dashboard would wear away from the constant drumming. I can remember times that I would drum along to an intricate and drum heavy track, and would not get out of the car at home until I played every note perfectly… (sometimes an hour in the driveway… but rhythm is quite an obsession!) I began mixing vinyl in late 1998, and put out a mixtape/CD 3 weeks later (under an old alias) that led to bookings along the East Coast.

In 2013 I purchased a drum machine to work on some hip hop projects, and of course the first things that went into it were jungle breaks, which I sliced up and decided to play live. I put up a video two days later and started incorporating it into my DJ sets…. Jungle Plus Drums was born.

Droopzilla: Are you affiliated with any groups, bands, or labels?
Spinscott: In the electronic music realm, I have been part of several crews / limited collaborations over the years, including Neopulse.net, Eastcoasthappy, Junglist Brigade, and a few others that I am excited to announce soon.

Label credits include Dynamix Records, Faction Digital Recordings, Dred Collective, Noisy Meditation, and also some new ones pending. I have also played drums and sang covers for several bands over the years, including groups such as Aerport Rocking Chairs and Broken Solace.

Droopzilla: Where are you based?
Spinscott: I am based on the east coast USA (Maryland), and have been supporting the scene here in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area for a very long time. I must say that this area is FULL of talented DJs, producers, and some of the best promoters in the country. As I travel often for shows, I always encourage people to check out the scene back here at the home base.

Droopzilla: What’s are your plans for the rest of the year?
Spinscott: Lots of things in the works! I plan to continue the production of new drum machine routines, pushing the limits (both rhythmically and physically) utilizing my 100% Certified Organic Loop-Free format. Multiple releases planned for a few different domestic and international labels, and currently entertaining limited booking opportunities in several countries.

Also very excited to have been discovered by some of the artists I have been listening to for over 2 decades, and looking forward to sharing ideas and experiences with them.
Droopzilla: If you had a musical bias, a sound you lean towards at all, what would it be?
Spinscott: I really believe that an art form, there is no such thing as inherently “good” or “bad” music, because it is totally dependent on the listeners/creators interpretation. I respect anyone that creates, listens to, performs, dances to, and enjoys music…. as it is really our first language. If I like something I always share my opinion, and if I don’t like something I am always willing to offer a private opinion and insight if requested.

The barriers to entry in the field have been for the most part eliminated due to virtually unlimited access to music and equipment, which I honestly think is a good thing. I think everyone should have a chance to try DJing or Producing if they want, and it raises the bar for anyone who is dedicated and wants to stand out. The commercialization of certain “underground” styles/genres drives some people to innovate and develop new sounds and ways of doing things.

All that said, I do have my personal favorite styles/genres of music, some of which include Jungle (big surprise there!), Northern Soul (another current obsession), Reggae, Hip Hip, Alternative, Doo Wop, R&B, Early Rockabilly & Rock N’ Roll, Latin Guitar, Classical, House, Baltimore Club, and countless others.

Niia tunes are in heavy rotation lately, not least because of her gorgeous voice and clever, sultry vocals. The Berklee-trained jazz vocalist most recently collaborated with James Hinton, aka, The Range, who deftly paired her voice with slick, electro-influenced instrumentation and downtempo breaks. The result is a wonderful EP called Breaking that spans five songs and often leads to comparisons with Everything but the Girl and the Sade remixes of the early 2000s.

Niia and The Range - Breaking EPThe only departure from that formula is the house-meets-bass vibe of the title track, definitely a candidate for an afterhours DJ set.

Check out the Breaking EP on Niia’s SoundCloud page.

Check out The Range on SoundCloud and Bandcamp.

Watch Niia perform a stunning version of “Body,” for The Fader. 

Fellow Chicagoan Karl P. Meier, part of the Downwards duo, Talker, just dropped episode 87 of The Bunker Podcast. Techno bombs abound, from the past, from the present, all sewn together with Meier’s impeccable mixing skills.

The inspirado for this episode is Meier’s recent set at Berghain, which I’m sure was stellar. These are serious techno tunes.

If you’re in the NYC area next month, plan to attend his gig at The Bunker in February. Please to enjoy.

From Advent calendar giveaways to free DJ mixes, this holiday season has me positively giddy over the available music and information.

LuckyMe Advent

For starters, I’ll swoon over the LuckyMe Advent Calendar. The project is in its 6th year and offers a free track download every day until December 25th. The label promises “a vast compilation of rarities, alternate versions, and brand new exclusives that span the sound of the LuckyMe family”.

This year’s offering is dedicated to Robbie Cooper, the Sevendeaths drummer who passed away in April 2014. LuckyMe provides a donation link for those who wish to support Cooper’s charity of choice, Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Kompakt Advent

Get to SoundCloud and follow the venerable Kompakt label.
That’s a given. Once you’re sorted, check out the Kompakt Advent Drop. (search for #advent drop and #Kompakt)

The Kompakt Advent Drop podcast series offers a solid DJ mix every Sunday during Advent. Available now are mixes from Flexonaut, Leandro Fresco, and Matt Karmil.

Tune in on Sunday, December 21 for the big finale!

Economist Advent

I’m a data nerd and love to read The Economist, so I was quite happy to discover that publication’s 2014 advent calendar, which is filled with a collection of the 24 most popular maps, charts, data visualizations and interactive features published on Economist.com over the past year. There is a new door to open every day until Christmas.

OWSLA Nestivus and EGGNOG

OWSLA joins the holiday fun with EGGNOG, an album of 2014’s greatest hits, along with some new songs. Get the release on iTunes, or as part of OWSLA’s Nestivus charity drive, through which the label gives away a daily treat throughout December.

Profits go to Bridges For Music to build the Langa Music School in South Africa.

Check out a preview of EGGNOG via the OWSLA SoundCloud page.

She's Nice - Tom Flynn (Poker Flat)“She’s Nice” is Tom Flynn‘s first outing with the Poker Flat Recordings gang. It’s a versatile track, easily placed on either side of a set’s peak. Throughout, effected vocal samples drift in and out of focus, while subtle percussion and rolling pads gently suggest a foray to the tech-house-propelled dancefloor.

You can grab a copy on Beatport as part of the Four Jacks, Pt. 1 – 15 Years of Poker Flat compilation.

Flynn’s work is a perfect fit for Poker Flat, but he is no stranger to such methods: He’s released tracks on Mobilee, VIVa, Circus, and Dirtybird, to name a few. He recently nabbed some props from Pete Tong, and his tunes often wind up in DJ sets from Richie Hawtin, Jamie Jones, and Dennis Ferrer.

Check out more of Tom’s music on Facebook and SoundCloud.

My first rave was in the early ’90s, so it’s fair to say that The Prodigy’s music was playing during a sizable chunk of my youth. I can still remember hearing “Voodoo People” for the first time. Those techno-laden breakbeats will always have a place in my heart, so my interest was piqued when I learned of the new side project by Prodigy MC and DJ, Maxim.

Maxim and Cianna BlazeAfter two previous solo endeavors and a string of releases with We Are Noize cohorts, Maxim has teamed up with vocalist and fellow MC, Cianna Blaze, to deliver Animal Anger. This blistering four-track EP builds upon grime, trap, and dubstep to forge a genre he calls “industrial trap”.

It’s abundantly clear that whatever the label that settles upon Maxim’s work, the basslines are staggering, the rapid percussion is intense, and the gangster rap influence looms large.

Maxim has made it clear that he’s certainly not leaving The Prodigy. He recently told Music Radar and Q Magazine that the crew is currently working on a new album, and will perform at the 2015 Future Music Festival in Australia. He also spoke to Insomniac about Animal Anger and his prevailing interest in various forms of bass music.

Animal Anger - MaximIf you’re a fan of The Prodigy, or enjoy music from the grime, dubstep, and trap genres, I encourage you to visit Maxim’s Wavo page to hear Animal Anger and download all four tracks free of charge.

All you have to do is follow Maxim on SoundCloud.

And you’ll even get “Lucky Bitch” as a bonus track.

 

Two If By Sea

Loscil - Sea Island (Kranky)As a fan of Loscil for over a decade now, I was thoroughly excited to learn that a new album would be released this month (Kranky). Scott Morgan ably delivers, his production technique uncanny in its ability to layer emotionally-charged dub and ambient elements with subtle hints of techno. There’s a welcomed tendency for Loscil selections to devolve into bleakness and then, via dense textures and instrumentation, bring the listener abruptly back into the sunlight. Listen closely to discern familiar tones of pianos and vibraphones dancing about violins and vocals.

Most of the Sea Island compositions were road-tested at Morgan’s various live engagements, but a handful are fresh from the studio. Morgan teased the first track via the Kranky SoundCloud account in September, and followed with a YouTube video in early November.

I’m in love with this album and must highly recommend it to you. The way Sea Island lulls and haunts, with massive tonal structures that envelope and maintain a persistent grip until the shuddering end of its melancholy tale. I could listen to this album over and over, and I have.

I found a copy at Bleep and was, in the meantime, sated with a streaming version on Google Play.

Here are some thoughts regarding Sea Island from Brainwashed, FACT, Resident Advisor, and Tiny Mix Tapes.

Really excited for this upcoming event. To close out 2014, one of my favorite Chicago artists just announced her upcoming show: An exhibit of her melted crayon paintings. The best part is, it’s taking place at one of my favorite local watering holes: The legendary Village Tap!

sarabritton.comSara Britton uses a variety of techniques, from acrylic to mixed media, but I’m encouraged that she’s focusing on the melted crayon technique for this show. To date, aside from her space-inspired efforts, these pieces have garnered the most acclaim. When I spoke to Sara about the show and what pushed her to pursue this phase in her career, she gave heartfelt thanks to her junior high art teacher, who she claims “taught me everything from brainstorming, to pushing limits and working with different mediums”.

Check out the selected works of Sara Britton at The Village Tap: Dec. 1, 2014 through Jan 31, 2015.

See more art from Sara at her online shop and her Etsy shop.