Justified, Purified, Sanctified

I try my hardest to concentrate at work, but all I can think about today is how my high school self was vindicated, courtesy of Trent Reznor and his current Nine Inch Nails lineup, who performed Saturday night at DTE Energy Music Theater, an outdoor venue about an hour’s drive north of Detroit.  I sang along to Head Like a HoleOnly, and other familiar tunes, banging my head and throwing my arms around like any good rock fan.  Nine Inch Nails is a childhood favorite of mine, as Reznor’s twisted, industrial metal really hit home for a kid like me, who had demons to tame, so needless to say it was kind of a big deal for me to see the music performed live.  Listening to NIN this weekend, with all its techno influences, and especially watching Reznor at least pretend to freestyle a percussive beat on a synthesizer in the middle of the stage, it seems fairly obvious that I have grown to find my most cherished musical collections in the world of electronica. Continue reading

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Sunday Evening Race Car School

In the three years since moving from California (how far away it seems nowadays) to Michigan, I’ve mentioned The Man and complained about my job in the auto industry a few times in passing.  I’ve even hinted at my love of racing.  But I don’t think I’ve ever expressly mentioned here (until now…drumroll please…) that motorsport is THE reason why I packed up my life in a U-Haul, destined for the Motor City, in the first place.  I wanted to be a race car engineer.  Still do.

Well, that’s why.  It’s true.  For better or for worse.

There’s just something about racing, something that I’ve never been able to fully describe, that forces my thoughts to linger toward the track, even when it seems crazy to want to be a part of that world.  Engineers work around the clock, tirelessly, to create very dangerous vehicles that are a part of high-profile competitions.  There’s no guarantee that your team will win, and even the most successful teams occasionally find themselves up against ultimately insurmountable challenges.  And what for?  At the end of the day, all that hard work and sacrifice is ultimately done so that some vendors can hawk merchandise at masses of customers.  A friend of mine in the business quite accurately likes to describe racing as nothing more than a traveling roadshow.

Who would want to do that?

This guy.  Apparently.

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Group Dynamics

As I’ve browsed J.Phlip’s portfolio recently, one thing sticks out: I cannot currently separate her individual identity from her group one.  J.Phlip is as much her own DJ as she is just 1/5 of the San Francisco label Dirtybird Records.  The brainchild of Claude VonStroke, a producer who has a passionate following amongst Detroiters, Dirtybird is pretty well-respected name that attaches itself to sold-out DEMF afterparties and other branded events throughout the country.  Dirtybird is a record label, yes, but it also takes things a step further, hosting parties and grouping its artists together at major festivals.

Maybe due to its small size, maybe due to its founder’s vision,  Dirtybird uses these events to maintain a focused image across multiple artists.  The label’s logo is on everything, from YouTube singles to promo cards, and with it comes an expectation: that a party with the Dirtybird name attached to it will be a good time set to quality techno tracks. Continue reading

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Layers of Awesome

Long drives to and from Texas translate to a lot of repetitive hours spent listening to XM radio.  The Better Half and I flipped between the stand-up comedy and techno radio stations, finding ourselves hearing the same handful of techno songs over and over again.  One overplayed tune that still catches me off-guard every time I listen to it?  Five Hours, by Los Angeles-based artist Deorro the Masked Avenger:

Every time I listen to it, I get to that transition at 1:30, and I think I’m hearing an old Deadmau5 track.  Every time.  Well…hopefully not anymore.  But still.

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j.phlip Therapy

Reeling from a week-long disaster of a vacation down to Texas (surprisingly enough to me, it had nothing to do with Texas itself; I actually can’t wait to make it back to the Lone Star state), most of my free time this month has been spent on OCD cleaning sprees of my house followed by long, unbreakable naps.  I’ve spent a lot of time stuck in my mind, obsessing over why I’m still living in Michigan and why I surround myself with the people that I do and this and that…and I’ve not spent nearly enough time plugged into the techno-verse, which is admittedly far more enjoyable.  Time to get back on it. I’ve been leafing through the virtual pages of j.phlip’s repertoire on SoundCloud and YouTube, and I can say that DirtyBird’s lone female definitely lives up to her self-claimed dance-friendly reputation.  All of her tracks have me moving my body. From newer releases, like the haunted percussion-heavy Wurk Continue reading

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Meet j.phlip: Say My Name

For most people, Movement 2014 is a fading memory.  Festival-goers in the Midwest are gearing up for this weekend’s Lakes of Fire mini-Burning Man, which is immediately followed by the sold-out Electric Forest.  But, for me?  Well, I think Movement 2014 is going to stay at the forefront of my mind for a little while longer, not just because I haven’t set aside any funds for such high-profile events, but also because there are so many artists that I was introduced to at Movement, and who I’m dying to learn more about.

Then there’s this little glitch where I have very fuzzy memories of my Memorial Day weekend.

Word to the wise: if you want to have meaningful, vivid memories of a concert, then GO SOBER.   Continue reading

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First Thought on DEMF

Detroit Electronic Music Festival.  DEMF.  Movement.

Whatever you call it, the annual Memorial Day Weekend electronic music festival that is held at Hart Plaza in Downtown Detroit is bound to introduce you to underrated talent.  The festival organizers make a point to focus on local and emerging performers over mainstream household names, which I love, because the world of electronic music is so vast, and there’s always room to discover a new favorite DJ.  It’s common for me to have a conversation with a friend, where we exchange handfuls of names of artists of which each of us is a passionate fan but that the other has never heard before. Take, for instance, Maceo Plex, who closed out the riverside Beatport stage that Sunday night.  His name was completely foreign to me, but I later found out that one of my friends, a huge fan of Maceo Plex’s musical risk-taking, had been anxiously awaiting that set since it had been announced months prior.

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