after hours

[Interview] Tripmastaz chats about a new EP, his vinyl only record label, and the upcoming show in Atlanta.

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By Liz Turcotte

April 14, 2016

Reigning from Russia, one of the few DJs to come out of The Land of Tsars, Tripmastaz has managed to gain respect worldwide from the underground scene. Tripmastaz held residencies at the top clubs in Moscow and has worked with huge producers like Richie Hawtin and DJ Sneak. Recently, he started up a vinyl only label, Tripmastaz (by numbers). Alley Cat Music Club will host him Friday, April 15, alongside Atlanta's rising-star producer, Ralo, and Alley Cat favorite, Tito Mazzetta. Here's what he had to say when we talked to him earlier this week.

What do you think it takes as an artist to gain international respect?

From my perspective, it's honesty and hard work. If you strive to be different, to be yourself, to share your point of view and your character through the music, at some point people will recognize it and will follow. Word to Rakim.

Your style of producing seems to have a techy undertone. Is there something about that style that pulls at your heart strings?

Let's not forget that house and techno are the leaves of the same tree branch, so to speak. What can be more exciting than a mixture of a house grooves and electronic textures ? It gives so much artistic freedom. Pure science to me.

What DAW do you prefer to use in the studio?

For the past ten years I've been using Ableton Live.

Really digging your latest EP, Wax Mania, out recently on Desolat. Tell us about what went into making this album.

That EP is the most techno record I've ever released. The funny thing about the title track Wax Mania, is that Loco Dice been playing it for a few years thinking it was a bootleg of mine. When he found out that it was actually an original, we wrapped up the EP quickly.

 
 

You made a video for the track "Ride Heights." What was that experience like? Where was the creative vision inspired from?

I had footage of my boy, Krussia, riding a bike in NY. Not only he is he a dope rapper/beatboxer, Vice named New York's Best Russian Rapper. He's a serious bike fiend. We took 40 minutes of his Go-Pro footage and edited it down to an intense four-minute groovy ride. I love to see the empty streets of New York in that video. It gives you a bit of a surreal feeling of the city.

 
 

When you DJ do you use a laptop or a USB?

For the past three years I've been using USB sticks with piles of digitized vinyl on them. And sometimes, the actual vinyl which I still love to dig for and to buy.

What can we expect at your show in Atlanta this weekend?

Groovy trips and trippy grooves.

What are your musical plans for the rest of 2016?

I've spent a month out in L.A and finished the third EP for my vinyl only label which is Tripmastaz (by numbers). Also, the track for my friend Barcelona's Yakazi Records. I'm almost done with my EP for New York's Inmotion Music. I'm excited about the massive remix for Chaka Khan's new vinyl single. I'm currently working on a remix for my Canadian pal, Paolo Rocco. Sorting out the next four releases for my label, Plant 74. And more to come as I finished a lot of new music in the past three months. Really a lot, Tripmastaz work is never done!

Tripmastaz will make Alley Cat Music Club twerk on Friday, April 15 with Ralo and Tito Mazzetta. 

Buy tickets HERE.

Grab more information HERE.

[Interview] Randall M on producing, vinyl and his family.

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By Clara Goode

Photos by Sara Vogt

My initial impression of the Alley Cat Music Club was one of trepidation. It shares a well-lit street corner with several boarded up buildings and what appears to be a convenience store. I cross paths with a group of young people who are laughing and chatting animatedly and I follow them through the doors. An underlit bar with a green flow immediately to my right, while an open path to my left leads to an outdoor patio.

I walk straight back toward the main room I am struck by how cozy the space is. The room is filled with dry ice which envelopes everyone in a glowing haze and, at times, obscures the DJs themselves completely. There is no stage, which sets the tone for a more intimate show, decreasing the distance between the performer and their fans. The club is still under construction, the hall to the restrooms glows with an eerie red light that highlights the broken concrete and dingy bathrooms, but somehow the grunginess of the exposed beams and unpainted walls adds to the allure of tonight’s show.

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The crowd here is different than what I have previously experienced. The majority of conversations taking place around me are in Spanish and people are more interested in interacting with their companions than they are getting lost in the music. The openers are setting the scene however, with simple, catchy rhythms and people are definitely feeling the music.

There is a very strong sense of community among the patrons of this club. At other shows the crowd has consisted of numerous small groups who seem to isolate themselves and rarely interact through the course of the evening except to fumble past each other as they make their way around the venue. Tonight the place is filled with large groups of people who seem to interact freely and comfortably, even with complete strangers. Each person seems entirely at ease both with the crowd and with the artists playing.

I sat down with Randall M. before his set. A polite young man, very easy to talk to.

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You were classically trained in piano and violin. Was there one instrument you preferred over the other?

I took lessons (as a child), but was not classically trained. Probably piano. I stopped violin lessons when I was four. Really, I prefer drums over anything.

What kind of influence does that training have over the music you produce?

It definitely helps with my ear, mixing things in key and choosing certain songs to go with others, I think it all comes back to that.

Is your family proud of you and your accomplishments?

They’re very supportive of it. I’ve been DJing for twelve years. It’s really all I’ve done and in the beginning they were very supportive. Actually, they’ve been supportive the whole time. There came a point where, you know, they were kind of questioning if I was going to be able to make a sustainable career out of it, but the last three or four years I’ve been able to do that and they’re very proud and supportive of it. I feel really lucky about that.

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Your love for your pups on your IG page is pretty apparent. Tell us about your fur babies.

I have three dogs, two are ten and eleven that I’ve had since the beginning of college. They live with my ex-girlfriend, but I still see them when I come back home and stuff. Then I have like, not a puppy anymore cause she just turned two, but a Cocker Spaniel as well. I’ve always loved dogs. I’ve love animals. I grew up with a Labrador and I just really love dogs. I wish I could have at home in Berlin but with the touring schedule and stuff it's just not practical. But someday I would like to have a little farm and have like five or six dogs on it.

What are some of your favorite albums you own on vinyl?

Well I have to say it’s not an album, but my favorite records, one of my favorite tracks from The Rolling Stones “Miss You” they did like a disco extended edit. It’s quite rare and my dad had it growing up and he bought me a copy a few years ago. So that one is pretty special to me. It’s all pink, it’s like 12 minutes long, and it’s amazing. Then my original hip hop stuff like Tupac’s On Death Row, Outkast, stuff like that. I love my techno records but the others just stick out for me. Also, I guess I’d have to say Efdemin, Chicago as well, one of my favorites.

What are some upcoming projects you have planned for 2016?

I have my own vinyl label called Thirteen. It’s coming out, the first release is in March and it’s something I’ve been working on for about over a year now and it’s like my baby you know? It’s basically my way to really showcase the music I love from people who I’ve come in contact with. Not only making good music, but cool people. It’s kind of like a friend group and we all share music and now I’m finally releasing some.

 
 

As the evening progresses, more and more people are distracted from their socializing and make their way to the dance floor and as Randall takes the stage the main room is packed to overflowing. Randall M uses deep, syncopated rhythms to keep them bouncing then adds a softer, melodic overtone. His lifelong experience with music is made evident by the diversity of sound, multiple instruments can be heard dancing through the layers of percussion in patterns highlighted with timed silences. His underlying rhythm is at a constant tone, not too low to be uncomfortable and not too high to be harsh. The perfect sound for continuous listening.

The ease with which the crowd interacts is evidenced through their relationship with Randall. He is not simply leading them as many DJs do, they are openly connecting with him. Chants spring up during certain sequences, people sing along with repeating melodies, there is a constant interplay between artist and audience. This is an appreciated contrast to many shows in which the DJ seems very separate from the crowd, manipulating them, sometimes in an aggressive way, to feel what they want them to feel.

 
 

 

The number of people on the floor changes constantly. Even with fewer people on the dance floor the ones that are dancing are fully committed. Many stand to the sides, nodding to the music and chatting, but it is not out of boredom. None are eager to leave or disappointed, there is simply an equal desire to socialize as well as dance. He keeps their attention to the very end of the show.

Toward the end of the night, I venture out onto the patio. The air smells sweet with cigars and lighter flames flicker between the faces of those gathered for a cigarette break and small talk. The music is still loud and one must speak loudly to be heard over it. Tomorrow our voices will rasp, and our clothes will smell of smoke and sweat, and we will accept these as fond tokens of an excellent experience.

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Deep Jesus: Round 1

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By Kristin Gray

I arrive to Sound Table around midnight, and already the venue is packed. I squeeze through the dancing crowd ready to experience the already energetic groove being gifted to us by Bobi Stevkovski of Project B. It’s so crowded that finding a spot to dance proves far more difficult than I originally thought. I opt to head outside on the spacious outdoor patio. The freakishly warm weather makes this the prime spot to get some fresh air and share good conversation with friends.

Though the wait at the bar was almost painfully long despite the full bar staff, this didn’t stop anyone from feeling the good vibes. At this point the music has transformed into a beautiful flow as Deep Jesus steps up to the booth. Bobi’s undeniable energy and smooth sound already has the crowd bouncing. Deep Jesus of Desert Hearts takes over and the crowd begins to move with his beats. You can see people turning to each other and smiling, we can all feel the passion being poured into this set.

3 a.m. comes and goes, Soundtable is still as crowded as I have ever seen it. From my recently acquired vantage point in the DJ booth I get a fresh new perspective of how wonderfully excited this crowd is. No one is ready to leave, we are all still in love with the music and this night.

We begin our next adventure to the after party at Alley Cat, a fairly new venue with a lot of potential. As we are walking there, I am talking with Ryan (aka Deep Jesus) about his experience here. He expresses how comfortable he feels here from the kindness and welcome he has received from the city of the South. We talk about this underground scene and the people that make it possible. Down here, anyone who shows up is here for the pure love of the music. We love our DJ’s and the magic they bring to this city.

This time, Bobi and Deep Jesus continue the night in this intimate party of maybe thirty techno lovers unwilling to give into the coming morning. Finally, we all have enough room to really move our feet and get lost in the sound. The two artists work splendidly together as the sound reverberates through the floor. You can feel the passion and joy these men put into their music, can hear the soul that goes into producing such intoxicating sounds.

As the night, er, morning finally came to a close, I look around at us survivors and see a bouncing energy that feels like it could last forever. We share stories of the night, as well as the future. Great things and incredible talent is coming to Atlanta in 2016, and the folks that call this city home are waiting with bated breath and open arms.

Photo credit: twitter.com/deepjesus