tito mazzetta

ZEMYA Fest: A Family Affair

ZEMYA Fest: A Family Affair

Atlanta's first locally-hosted mini festival, ZEMYA Festival was a concept brought to life by the Project B. crew. 

[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] Simon Baker chats about techno and where he draws his inspiration from.

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By James McDaniel Photos by Kayode Lowo

March 10, 2016

When I arrived at the Alley Cat Music Club’s Grand Opening, I was hoping for something a little different. I had been to a number of its Beta events, and I had grown accustomed to the vibe. The unassuming façade, the sheik front bar which leads to a space donned with antique lamps suspended from the walls – this is where the place starts to really feel like something. In this spot, I remember mad nights of dancing to syncopated rhythms and deep bass grooves. It is a good place, but the unfinished, upward leading staircase tells of something more gritty and raw.

tito mazzetta
tito mazzetta

Upstairs, Tito Mazzetta’s set begins with deep house, moves into a more tech sound, and ends exploring the minimal side of things. I start to notice the way this new room feels. It’s dark, and sketchy. I imagine that it looks pretty rough in broad daylight, but at night, it’s perfect. The sound in the room is phenomenal.

This becomes even more evident when Simon Baker starts his set. His unique approach to techno and tech house, infused with soulful vocal samples, and dark grimy effects, stirs the party into a frenzy of dance. At one point, people are jacking on the walls, reminiscent of the old warehouse days. I definitely got what I was hoping for. I got together with Simon the next afternoon in the lobby of his hotel to talk about his music.

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simon baker 2

Since the beginning of your career, your sound has swung like a pendulum from techno, to house, and back. What’s the reason for this fluctuation in style?

When I was living in Leeds in 2006-2007 it was very house oriented. Well, it was minimal house at the time. In fact, I’ll go back even further. It was kind of electro house, when that was big and then it moved into the more minimal sort of era, and I came to find myself sort of being quite suited to that sort of music. I guess you could call it minimal techno at the time, and that’s kind of where my roots are from. I made this track called “Plastik,” which was a hit, basically. It was like number two on the RA {Resident Advisor} biggest tunes of the year, and it did really well. It got me onto the ladder. I started making other sounds similar to this, but then the minimal era kind of disappeared. So I either disappeared with it, or I carried on. You know, going with the flow and trying to develop new sounds. I headed into a more classic, deep house kind of sound. Which at the time, I had been signed to 2020 Vision in Leeds, and it suited them pretty well. Which led me up to the album. I was doing a classic house to deep house kind of thing – Obviously, a bit of tech house mixed in.

I’ve never been the kind of producer to make the same sound every day. I was always making harder bits, bigger room, you know, deeper Detroit, and a bit of broken beat kind of stuff. It was only recently that I was plodding away, ticking along thinking, I’ve done a deep house album with 2020 and I’ve done the minimal thing. I just want to focus on one thing, so I bought a load of new studio kit – new drum machines, and other things which in a natural and organic way triggered some nice techno kind of grooves. I just got really into them and started busting them out every day. I was thinking, well, I’ll just focus on this now rather than rushing around doing everything. I’m just going to focus on the techno sound, this is where I am now eight or nine years later.

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simon baker 1

I understand you studied classical guitar in your youth. How has that training, especially the study of music theory and form, influenced your artistic approach as a producer?

Without sounding cliché, it was in my blood. I found it quite easy to make music after doing that. I played the classical guitar for about eight years and I did the whole theory thing and all the rest of it. In my teens, I dropped out of that. I found other things, girls, skateboarding… a load of other things. I just lost interest with the guitar. I always had it in me that I wanted to do something. I found hip-house when was around 16-17. Then I got decks in my bedroom, buying records, doing that kind of thing. It was a natural feeling inside me that I needed to play, not necessarily an instrument, but to make music. I went out and bought a drum machine. I used to tap beats all the time in my head or on my leg. I started playing the drums, but when I started playing synths and everything in the studio, it all became quite easy. It just gelled because I knew keys and I knew how things should fit together.

https://soundcloud.com/sbaker

What have been your most daunting challenges in starting your own production label, 2020 Vision? How has its creation impacted your musical style and output?

Before this most recent one, I started a label a long time ago called Infant Records, which was my first label. When I was involved in 2020, just before I did my album, I actually went into one of its sub-labels {Infant Records}. It was like house/ techno. There were a lot of good artists on there, actually. People that have made it big now - Paul Woolford, a load of people who are really big now were on it. So I’d already done the label thing but, what I didn’t know about was all the back-end of running a label, so that was really the most daunting thing to learn. I’ve been in the industry long enough to know how it should work and how the music that I want to put out and all the rest of it works. But, it was the back-end that I didn’t really understand, because I had someone doing it for me before. It was just the ins and outs, royalties and all the rest of it. Again it was a natural, organic process that I was ready to do.

Describe the process of creating your LP, Traces, and do you have any plans for a follow up?

That was, when you look back, 2011, which was quite a few years ago. If I’m honest with you, because I’m really proud of that album and how it got a lot of respect with the press, I was listening back to it the other day. I don’t mind telling you this, I was thinking I might do a BKR remake of the tracks with more of a techno vibe. I had this little idea the other day, and I don’t know how Ralph Lawson, who runs 2020, would feel. Obviously, I’d need to run it past him because he’s publishing and all. I’d like to do something similar, but maybe remixes. I’m so proud of that album, and there were some good remixes that got done. But I’d like to redo them in a new style.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w_YZ2vAz6M&feature=youtu.be

Which recent collaborative efforts have excited you the most?

I’ve not done that many. The last one I was working on was with Lee Curtiss {Visionquest}. My problem is with collabs, and I love doing them with the right people. For example, I loved doing one with Lee. I’ve done them in the past with Jamie Jones before, which worked really well many moons ago, before he was absolutely huge. I’ve done quite a few of them, but I struggle because I’m such a fast worker. Somebody comes into my studio for one day and then I don’t see them again for six months. And it’s just like, you need that person to be there, nearby with you in the same mindset, wanting to work as quickly as you do to get things done. It’s rough. I struggle with collaborations. I’ll be honest with you. Not that I don’t want to do them, but the person has to be banging on it as much as I am, rather than just dipping in every few months. 

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simon baker 5

Your musical career involves DJing, producing, and collaborating. In which environment do you find yourself most artistically expressive, challenged, and rewarded?

100% in the studio over DJing in the club. Producing is my number one love. I can get up in the morning and sit there for twelve hours, quite happily, and make tunes and be really happy with them. Don’t get me wrong, I do really like the DJing thing, but that kind of follows on from producing. If I could make a living just from producing in the studio, then I would. Obviously, these days with the music I do, that’s not how it works. It’s creating a track. Getting the idea up and running is my number one buzz. That’s what gets my blood going.

Where do you find your inspiration, and how has that changed over the course of your career?

Yeah, it’s changed. I do listen to a lot of music out there. I listen to a lot of classics. I listen to older mixes – more Detroit sounding stuff, and that kind of thing. I do a lot of running, actually. I do half marathons. I’ll occasionally listen to old classic Detroit or Chicago house, and I get inspired by them. I’m into more the classic sound than I’m into the sound of today. I guess I get it from there but I can’t put my finger on it. Some days I’m really weird in the studio. Sometimes I won’t make a track for two weeks because I don’t have anything inside me bubbling away. Then all of a sudden, I’ll make three or four tracks a week. I don’t know where it comes from. Once I get on a roll, I’ll get a good idea and think, right, I’ll do another one of these tomorrow. I’ll make an EP in a week. I can’t quite explain it. It just comes and goes. I think its frame of mind. You’re maybe stressing about something else in your life, or whatever, and you have this moment, and you are like, right. Since my studio is in my flat now, I sometimes will jot my ideas down at one or two in the morning, and then finish them the next day.

[Interview] Brian Cid talks producing, Ibiza and his new label.

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By Frank DukePhotos by Kathryn Lasso

Brian Cid is an unsung hero making his identity known as an electronic musician, an engineer, and a performer.

I was struggling to put on my boots so that I could make my way to Jungle Nightclub, and I thought to myself, “Why can’t I just be there already?!” It was a bit early, but I didn’t care. I love getting to events early to hear warm up sets. They are some of the most intricate and unique musical curations to experience. I finally arrive to Jungle, walk around the open, warehouse dance floor. Gathering with friends to talk about music, ideas, getting drunk, hangovers, and adventures of the evening ahead.

Tito Mazzetta was warming up the room when I arrived. With his recent release on “Conceptual Records,” I had a feeling he was locked and loaded with some of the finest minimal house. It was a very artistic opening statement. It reminded me of being at a swanky cocktail party in the design district. People were conversing, getting their toes tapping, and their bodies moving.

https://soundcloud.com/conceptualrec/sets/tito-mazzetta-suspected-animation-ep-cpl057

People began flooding into the venue in a constant stream. The energy was rising and I could feel a great night was ahead of us. Luis Valencia makes his way to the booth, and gets himself set. He makes his way in from silence, and the room was immediately filled with dense melodic ambiances, staccato baselines, and white noise accents. I walk to the booth, introduce myself to Brian Cid, and say hello to the rest of the guys from Expand Projects.

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SAMSUNG CSC

Brian is truly a person full of passion for what he does and the people that are inspired by it. He is down to earth, damn humble, and always there to help in any way that he can. He and I made our way outside to have a bit of a more in-depth and technical conversation.

You’ve been hard at work in the studio recently. Tell us a bit about your mini-album on “Lost&Found” and your artistic approach as you worked on it.

It was a really interesting project both technically and the meaning I wanted to give behind it. Guy J pretty much hit me up saying that he wanted me to give him a five track EP, and I came up with this track called “Aurora.” It was a very energetic track, and Guy loved it. Then from there, I bailed the other tracks and used that one as my guide. My intention was to write a journey like album, where it would be in crescendo style, where it would grow throughout the whole track-list. Then I just started writing. I was traveling and was super inspired coming back from Ibiza and the nature over there. The island of Ibiza is a big contrast to my comfort zone in NYC. It just grew from there. I wanted something spacey. I wanted something organic. I wanted analog, a lot of rhythms, and a bit of everything. It took a bit longer than usual to get it where I wanted to be because it had to be a conjunction of all the tracks. I couldn't just focus on one track. I have to focus on all of them because it’s all connected. I feel like I was able to showcase what I was really feeling at the moment with the best of my ability.

https://soundcloud.com/briancid/sets/brian-cid-found03-lost-found

You are sort of new to the scene when it comes to underground house and techno, but not to the music industry. What inspired you to shift your focus from working with pop artists such as Gaga, Cher, Beyonce, to now working with imprints such as “Lost&Found,” “microCastle,” and “Knee Deep in Sound.”

I made a career doing work for other big artists, for underground artists, for hip-hop artists, for pop artists, and for other commercial genres. The thing was, my work was usually for someone else. Not ghost writing, but helping with production and engineering. I got to a point to where I wanted to start a project that had my name on it to really showcase what I have inside. I’m a creator, I’m a musician, and I just want to create something. So I put together a little EP. I was lucky enough to have Todd Terry pick it up. He loved it, released it, and that was my introduction to the dance world. From there I just took it to the next level. I started with more labels, more artists, and learning the scene. I’m still learning the scene, and I love it. It changes all the time and it has so much history. I love to keep learning about it. I’ve always been a fan of it, although I’ve never really followed it - until I started getting into it production wise. I started off as a producer first, then my tracks were getting picked, played out, and getting a lot of support. So I thought let me go ahead and play them myself. I’m already a drummer so it was pretty easy to pick up DJing. So being a drummer and being an engineer, I just had to learn the room, learn the styles, and learn how people are playing. Once I started getting really into it, I immediately felt at home. It wasn’t forced, or a struggle. And now people are really getting to know my name outside of New York.

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You are not only just a producer and DJ, but also a mixing engineer and mastering engineer. What are some pivotal pieces that you utilize most often in your studio throughout your workflow?

I approach production in a very engineering way. My studio in NY is built for mixing and mastering. If you go to my studio, you won’t see much production gear. I have keyboards and stuff like that, but it’s nothing heavy. It’s kind of like being a painter with his selection of colors. He tries to do his painting based on that collection, and establish a style based off that. While he might add some color here and there, but for the most part he going to have his canvas and a limited color palette. I like to force myself in the studio to think like that. I figure out my sounds and really put emphasis on that. It works out great.

You are not solely an electronic musician and engineer since you play instruments, correct?

I am mostly a drum set player. I also play a bit of piano and keyboards, but I’m not a pianist. For drumming, I like to limit myself there too with a five piece set with a couple cymbals. I usually take a rhythm oriented approach. Switching out drums as opposed to adding more, it’s just working what you have.

You recently started up a new record label called “Extinct Records.” What does this imprint mean to you artistically?

“Extinct” is a collaborative project with Glenn Morrison, who has a long history in electronic music. We were just thinking about a way to channel our music out and build a brand that people can relate to. Essentially build something that can grow into something else, support other artists, and channel our creativity. That’s where it came from. “Extinct,” artistically has a theme with the Dodo bird as the main character. I have a fascination for what the world used to be, what it is, and what it will be. I felt like bringing up all these extinct animals to communicate this whole vibe. It felt fresh. People have been responding really well. We’re only releasing my tracks for now as a way to set it up. Show people what we’re really doing, understand it. Then we’ll let other artists go ahead with it. I think this year we’ll start incorporating more artists and really take it to the next level.

https://soundcloud.com/extinctrecords

You were just featured in DJ Mag. How was your experience with Deputy Editor, Erin Sharoni and the conversations you had?

It’s funny how it happened because DJ Mag actually contacted me. They said that Erin and some of the other staff were listening to some of my stuff for a while. We had the opportunity to hang out, check out my set up, and just talk. I was like, "Hell yeah! Whatever you want." So she came up from Miami for a quick little interview, which turned into a night of jams. Listening to records, talking music and life. We just spoke about music in general. My history, my upcoming and where I’m heading. It was really fun. It all happened organically. She did a really good job.

When you are not making music in Brooklyn, what do you typically find yourself doing?

To be really honest with you, when I’m not working on music, I’m making more music.

Who is someone you truly admire in life?

I am really inspired by people in general, not any person in particular. Those people that are out there doing good things, creating new ideas, and pushing the boundaries are the ones that I truly admire.

We made our way back into the venue, and gave each other a sincere “cheers” with our plastic glasses of tequila. Luis was ready for Brian to do his thing as he prepared himself, and dove in headfirst.

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SAMSUNG CSC

I made my way to the dance floor pretty quickly once he set up. I’ve been listening to this guy’s music a lot too. I knew he was ready to take us on this progressive, grooving, forward thinking, and powerful journey. He did not disappoint. The lights we’re at just the right temperature to keep things open and lively. The Pure Groove Speaker Systems were warm, bright, and powerful. Everything was perfect.

Throughout his set I was happy to hear some edits and blends between some stuff I’ve really been digging recently. He has this edge that he brings to the style of things. Brian plays progressive house and techno mostly. He keeps it laid back, and yet he somehow contrasts that with tracks that makes me want to dance and have a blast. I mean, at one point the guy had me salsa dancing with a friend of mine. The dance floor was grooving, bouncing, and there was this tone of community between so many different kinds of people.

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SAMSUNG CSC

I am very happy to see these kinds of things happening in our city. Every week it just becomes more and more prominent. We’re people, and we like to have fun. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or anything else. As long as you’re a good person with a good heart, let’s go have some fun and celebrate not only music, but humanity. Brian certainly brought that kind of experience for me. I am really looking forward to watching him continue to grow as an artist, a boundary pusher, and an all-around great guy.

[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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