Shows

Maximono Interview @ MDA Wednesdays

Maximono Shares An Unexpected Passion

EXPERIENCE BY: KAGAN RICHARDSON

With years of experience as drum n bass producers, Nick Hill and Sebastian “Sebi” Wolters joined forces in 2013 as Maximono and have been taking the world by storm ever since. The duo has proven themselves within the house scene, having releases on This Ain’t Bristol, Cuff, Dirtybird, and Confession, to name a few.

Modern Disco Ambassadors has consistently hosted quality house music in Orange County for the past 10 years, so it was only natural that Maximono would eventually make their way to our Wednesday home at La Cave. That day was June 27, 2018, and the rave cave was completely flipped upside with Maximono’s unique brand of funky bass-heavy house music. MDA heavyweights Audiostache and Chef Boyarbeatz provided support and rounded out an amazing night.

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Before Maximono took the stage, I had the chance to sit down with Sebi and ask him some burning questions. Here is what he had to say:

Kagan: What goes into your preparations for a DJ set?
Sebi: First of all I look at where we’re gonna play, is it a festival or a small intimate venue, and how long the set is gonna be which can be anything from 45 minutes to 4 hours. Depending on that and how long ago I played there last, I’ll decide how the structure of the set will be. Then I’ll go through new music see what I can play from the label which is forthcoming or just being released. I try to set up a unique set for every gig I play. I get bored quickly and I couldn’t play the same set twice.
Kagan: How would you say your experiences as drum n bass producers influence your music today?
Sebi: It influences anything we do now because that’s basically where we both started our producing and DJing careers. Everything comes from there somehow. Jungle and drum n bass is such a melting pot of music in itself. You’ve got like hip hop, reggae, dub, whatever, it all goes into jungle and drum n bass. When you produce it, you’re already influenced by so many other styles. Nick and I are both not limited to one sound which I’m pretty sure you can hear in our productions as well, we’re just jumping from influence to influence. It’s just about the good vibe but it has to have funk and bass in it. We’ve both been in the drum n bass scene for about 20 years now which is from the very early days in ‘97 and ‘98 until. He’s more into it still, he’s still doing his Loadstar project. I just quit my drum n bass stuff. I did a drum n bass label so I quit that to just do the house stuff.
Kagan: As producers, who are your biggest inspirations?
Sebi: I would say, there’s a hip hop producer from Detroit named Apollo Brown. Just the art of sampling, like how he recreates music from old funk and soul records, that’s very inspiring. But also so many other electronic producers like stimming, a German guy. He’s a sound design nerd, I would say. Of course you’re always influenced by the people around you doing house music as well, that’s constantly inspiring us. People from the drum n bass scene, producers like Alix Perez who’s been collaborating with Eprom as well. Also guys like SpectraSoul.
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Kagan: What’s the most out of the ordinary thing in your studio?
Sebi: I’ve got a small noise synthesizer called a Thingamagoop 3000. It’s like a small thing that creates sounds from lights. You’ve got a small pocket lamp on top and that creates the noise from the light. It’s handmade somewhere in America and to order it you has to pay I think about $500 and they built it after like 200 people ordered it or something. I waited for it for about a year until it came but it’s really really cool, all these quirky weird noises. The wait was worth it because no one else really has it, at least no one from the scene has it so it’s a pretty unique thing. I’d also add a software tool too as we work so much with software these days. An absolute secret gem for us the Infected Mushroom Pusher by Waves which can be found on Splice.
Kagan: How did your collaboration with Malaa, Arsenic, come about?
Sebi: We were sending tracks back and forth from time to time and he sent me some of his stuff, I think it was before he got really big. Then we just kept going and we had one track almost finished where we thought we had about 20% missing and we were about to skip it and say no we won’t finish it. Then it was my idea to let him hear it and see what he thinks and he was all into it and said he could already hear the last 20% missing and I will add that. It’s funny because everyone in the forums said that’s a Malaa track, why is Maximono’s name on there. In the end it was a 50-50 thing, he edited more than we originally planned but we started the track and he finished it. I wish we could do another one now, we might be working on that.
Kagan: You’re both from Europe originally, but where do you both call home now?
Sebi: Nick is in London and I am in Hanover, Germany. That works really well even though we’re not playing that much in Europe. We’re always flying over here to play shows here. With the label in the background we’re doing more festival takeovers in Europe. Music is actually not my full-time job, I run a company back home in Hanover so I need to stay around the area to be able to still run the company.
Kagan: Could you tell us more about your company?
Sebi: That’s my second world I would say. It’s a constant fight between two worlds, one is the serious business world and the music world. It’s basically two hearts in my chest. It’s an IT security company, we developed a tool for companies to secure smartphones. We provide secure app stores for companies, we have a technology that automatically scans apps and tells you what they’re doing in the background. For example, if you install a new version of an app and it keeps sending your credit card details to a foreign server or whatever, our software will recognize that and tell the company to blacklist that app. Started it 6-7 years ago and it grew quite quickly. I think it’s a big market and is still growing. We’ve got a team of about 30 people back home and it’s going good. It was started by me and two friends who have already left the company so I am the CEO of the company.
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Kagan: How did you first get into cybersecurity?
Sebi: It was at my apprenticeship, I learned at a big German company called Siemens back around ‘99 and ‘00. After that I did a PR study at a university. Both of those worlds came together, IT and PR, and we started that just from a product idea. We never planned to do a cybersecurity company, we were just flicking around with ideas. One friend and I started a company which did sound design for brands, but we moved on from that and did digital consulting for brands. From there we developed a product idea. It wasn’t planned, but now it’s pretty serious and it’s quite a responsibility.
Kagan: What do you think of In N Out Burger?
Sebi: To be totally honest, I was a little disappointed because everyone was hyping it up so much. I have to say I am not really a big junk food fan at all. I try to eat healthy, but of course I tried it because everyone was saying you have to try In N Out Burger. It was a lot better than any fast food I’ve tried before, but it still wouldn’t be my favorite thing to do. There’s so many other good spots like Korean BBQ for example which I would always prefer, especially in LA.
Kagan: What can we look forward to from Maximono in the last half of 2018?
Sebi: We DJ’d a lot in the last six months and now we just started getting back on the production side. We’re working on a lot of new music, we just finished a couple of tracks with MARTEN HØRGER who just had a release on Confession. We don’t know where they’ll come out because they’re a bit different than what we’ve done before. A bit more dancefloor, a bit more straight in your face I would say. I don’t think they’ll necessarily come out on This Ain’t Bristol or Dirtybird, so we’re looking for other labels where they could fit. We’re also working on new original tracks so there will be a lot of new music throughout the year and of course still some great shows to play in the States. We’ve got Shambhala coming up, a few things in July, and then another tour in August around Shambhala. I’m pretty sure there will be another tour in October/November time, that’s usually when we come over to play some Halloween shows and such. It’s gonna be a good year hopefully!
Nick is also going to get married next month. I’ll be going there and celebrating my birthday which is the day of the wedding so it’s going to be an epic night in London. When he gets back from his honeymoon, we’ll be busy in the studio again.
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Immediately after the conclusion of this interview, Sebi headed for the stage, took over the decks, and captivated the MDA cave dwellers with an expert-level two hour set.

It was a true pleasure to host Sebi at La Cave. We have a lot to look forward to from Maximono!


Until next time Ambassadors.

Kagan Richardson

AKA DJ Moose Trax

All photos included in this article were taken by Modern Paparazzo Photography.

Fritz Carlton Interview @ MDA Wednesdays

Fritz Carlton Turned La Cave Upside Down!

EXPERIENCE BY: KAGAN RICHARDSON

It has been an amazing year so far at MDA Wednesday’s and we are thankful for all of our Ambassadors. So far we’ve seen the likes of Eli & Fur, Detlef, Chus & Ceballos, to name a few, and we can look forward to hosting amazing DJs such as Maximono, Wongo, and Amtrac.

This past week continued the trend of excellence with Fritz Carlton taking over the night. Coming from Desert Hearts the weekend before, Max Huseby AKA Fritz Carlton had nearly lost his voice but that didn’t stop him from yelling and screaming along with the crowd. He worked the crowd to a fervor the moment he stepped behind the decks and curated his self-proclaimed “weirdo house” sounds. Credit is definitely due to Z_Ro and Mary Droppinz who took opening duties and played some stellar sets. Mary Droppinz also took the opportunity to honor MDA’s Jarin Love during her set which directly supported Fritz.

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Shazam failed me throughout the night but especially during Fritz’s set, so I am left to believe that he featured unreleased tracks from both Fritz Carlton and his altar ego, Houseboy. Just before he started, I had the opportunity to sit down with the mastermind behind the two identities.

Here is what he had to say:

Kagan: What is it like to be a part of the Desert Hearts family?
Max: Dude, it’s incredible. I’m from Seattle originally so I’m a transplant to the whole Southern California house and techno scene. I didn’t really have any sort of inclination as to what the whole desert party vibe was before I started going to Burning Man when I went to college a while back in SoCal.
Desert Hearts opened up my mind to an entirely different platform that I didn’t even conceive as being a possibility. The whole one family, one stage, one vibe, one love, it’s everything I loved about Burning Man. I’m eternally grateful for what they’ve provided to me.
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Kagan: When did you first get into DJing and producing?
Max: It was my freshman year of college, so I was 18. I discovered VirtualDJ and moombahton and Calvin Harris and all of that. I was a metal drummer from Seattle so I didn’t know about electronic music, it wasn’t my thing. So then when I discovered all of that in college and people weren’t down with me playing screamo in my dorm room, I had to switch it up. Then it was sophomore year when I dropped out of college and moved to San Francisco and I paved my own way teaching myself on Youtube.
Kagan: Can you tell us more about your background as a drummer?
Max: Since I was in third or fourth grade, I had been playing the drums. I loved rock n roll, I loved metal, and I played in multiple bands growing up. I did a couple supporting shows and tours up in the city when I was younger. At the end of the day, the first electronic music I ever fell in love with was Skrillex and that half-time vibe because it’s similar to metal.
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Kagan: How does it feel to have one of the best mustaches in dance music?
Max: I’ll tell you this, I don’t know what it feels like to have the best mustache in dance music, but this mustache on my face hasn’t been shaved in over 10 years. It’s been varied in shape and form, but I haven’t been clean shaven fully in over a decade. If you really want to see an amazing stache though, check out Joe Kleinman. Shout out Joe!
Kagan: What can you tell us about Houseboy?
Max: Oh man, Houseboy is my love. My last name is actually Huseby, a lot of people think that it’s McGee but that’s my middle name and I prefer to let people know that’s my last name for some reason. My real last name is Huseby and if you just add two o’s it makes Houseboy.
It’s what I love to make because when I started Fritz Carlton it was unabashed sonic exploration and now Fritz Carlton has an expected sound. Houseboy doesn’t, it’s all fair game. I sample vinyl, I get weird, disco, funky, it’s me. I’ve got an album in the works right now and I’m working on when I’m gonna release it, but it’s gonna be really special.
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Kagan: If you weren’t a DJ and producer, what do you think you would be doing today?
Max: Professional video gamer for sure. Twitch streaming, World of Warcraft, Counterstrike, all of those computer games. I wanted to be a video gamer, I mean, that’s all I had going for me before I discovered music. Straight up.

Max is certainly one of the most down-to-earth DJ’s I’ve met to date. You can tell just by being around him that his love for music and creativity knows no bounds. It was a pleasure to sit down with him and pick his brain!

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We have a lot to look forward to from Fritz Carlton and Houseboy, so stay tuned Ambassadors.

Until next time.

Kagan Richardson

AKA DJ Moose Trax

Thanks to Modern Paparazzo Photography for the photos. 

RECAP: OMNOM @ MDA WEDNESDAYS

OMNOM Gives it Up Fo Free at MDA Wednesdays

EXPERIENCE BY: KAGAN RICHARDSON

On April 25, we had the pleasure of hosting OMNOM, a rising star in the scene right now - at our lovely home of La Cave. He is known for tearing up dance floors and his tracks are supported by heavyweight DJs including Claude Vonstroke, Ardalan and Walker & Royce. His biggest track to date is Fo Free, which was released on Dirtybird Records on March 30.

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Cody Lee, AKA OMNOM, chose to host his single release party at MDA Wednesday to the pure elation of the cave dwellers. Fo Free entry until 10:30pm resonated with the crowd as the place was packed from when the doors first opened.

Diamond Heist and Magda Halina slayed their sets and warmed up the night perfectly. Throughout their sets, I was constantly out Shazaming the tracks they were curating. OMNOM took the stage at midnight and kept the energetic vibe with quality house and techno.

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Near the end of the night, OMNOM dropped Fo Free and the crowd absolutely ate it up. The place had been going off the entire night, but this brought the energy even higher than thought possible. He then unleashed a barrage of unreleased remixes of Fo Free, all capping off with a dubstep remix which was a delightful surprise.

Before his set, I caught up with Cody and asked him some questions. Here is what he had to say:

Kagan: How long have you been producing music? Have you been DJing that entire time?
Cody: It was three years in March, so just over three years. I’ve been writing music since fifth or sixth grade just because I’ve always been involved with music school and stuff like that. I’ve gotten into production later especially with house music but I never actually DJ’d any events until after I was already putting out tracks. I was just messing around with DJing in my free time.
Kagan: What inspired you to become a producer?
Cody: I always wanted to do something with music, and when you’re performing in an academic setting you’re never really performing stuff that you make. The more and more I listened to electronic music in high school and college I was kinda like you know what, I might be able to try my hand at this and be a producer rather than just listening to other people’s stuff all the time.
One of the toughest things is it takes so long for your ability to match with your taste. You’re gonna hate what you make for years. I still kinda hate the music I make, but when I started getting good feedback on tracks like Fo Free it really boosted my confidence enough to keep doing it.
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Kagan: How does it feel to have your first release on Dirtybird Records?
Cody: When I search for music theory and concepts of classical music in electronic music, Ardalan, Justin Martin, Walker & Royce, they’re the best. Those guys are ridiculously musically talented. For them to start get my track and start playing my track out across their Self Help Tour, it was a really big reality check. I mean that album is the only one on my phone. If I was playing guitar or something like that, that would be like Led Zeppelin playing my track. It is really hard to comprehend.
Everything after that too. Getting signed to Dirtybird, Claude Vonstroke playing it, seeing Justin Martin play it, Ardalan, all these guys I’ve been listening to for the past few years especially when I was living in San Francisco. You start to look at those guys as these huge icons and then to have them messaging you on Twitter asking for unreleased tracks, its insane.
Kagan: What was that process like when Dirtybird signed Fo Free?
Cody: I had met Gavin Royce of Walker & Royce at a party in Costa Mesa. It just so happened that they wanted everybody to come up and play a few tracks for this big back to back to back family-style set at the end of this night at some random party our friend VNSSA was playing.
I played a track and Gavin came up and was like, "Is this you?" I said yeah and he asked me to send him some stuff. I actually finished Fo Free between then so I sent it to him as well. A few days later people were like hey check out Walker & Royce’s Snapchat. They tagged me in their story and it showed them playing my track. It happened again the next day, and again in New York at a back to back with Ardalan. It kept happening again and again and became a part of their touring set. I was blown away.
Eventually they said they were going to send the track to Claude in the next few weeks or so. Claude’s big thing is he’ll only sign something if he plays it out and gets a good response. He won’t just listen to something and sign it. He said that he liked the track but hadn’t gotten to play it yet. East Coast Dirtybird Campout comes along and it just so happens they cancelled the first day of the festival so they moved Walker & Royce’s set to being a back to back with Claude Vonstroke. They played it then and Claude looked at Elevator Musik, his A&R, and was like I get it now.
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Who knows if he would’ve ever played it but it just so happens the stars aligned and they turned Walker & Royce’s set into a back to back with Claude, and the rest is history I guess. It was chaos on Instagram and Facebook pages, people were like what’s this track so there was this hype around it. Dirtybird saw this and signed it a few weeks after.
It’s kinda like what happened with Ryan Forever’s track Nasty. After the family set at West Coast Campout, that’s what everyone was looking for. I feel like it was kinda the same deal because he then got an official single on Dirtybird. I thought this was unheard of at the time because who does singles on Dirtybird? Claude Vonstroke, Fisher, it was crazy for them to bring this guy in but they ended up doing it with my track. It was crazy how it all happened.
There was such a hype around it already that people knew it was my track before they even knew who I was. It has been chaotic how everything started going down. People were like oh you have a track on Dirtybird lets get you playing here here and here. It’s all been happening really fast.
Kagan: What is next for OMNOM?
Cody: I just got announced for Hard Summer in August. I’m bottom line, like the smallest font, but at that point, it’s more about getting on the lineup with those names. The ultimate goal is to end up at Dirtybird Campout but right now we’re trying to back it up with some solid shows and other releases when I start sending more tracks out. We basically don’t want to sit there and ride the wave of Fo Free for very long.
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Kagan: What is the inspiration behind your name?

Cody: I wanted something kinda silly. I didn’t want it to be my name or any iteration of my name or anything like that. OMNOM was just a cool sound like eating, like the cookie monster or something. Then when I thought of that I thought of the face and the letters in the mouth. It just seemed like it would work. Being able to make it all capital letters is something I was kinda looking for too. The face was just something I drew in class when I was bored. I actually haven’t changed it since day one.

Kagan: When producing what is your favorite piece of hardware?

Cody: My Novation Bass Station 2. Prior to that my first hardware synthesizer was an Arturia Microbrute. That was cool, you could get some really gritty sounds out of there but it seemed more meant for the G Jones, Eprom, and Bleep Bloop type stuff. I got the Bass Station because I had seen other producers I liked using it on Instagram and Snapchat. Come to find out that’s what Walker & Royce uses so when I listen to their stuff or other people I know who use it, I can pick it out. That’s my go to for bass lines in a lot of my tracks.

Kagan: What is your favorite piece of software?

Cody: I use Ableton and pitch shifting is something I have in pretty much all of my tracks, it’s all my own voice. If I want to do something more than just pitch bending in Ableton though, I’ll use a plugin called Manipulator by Infected Mushroom. It’s a really really sick plugin. You get a lot of crazy effects. You can make it sound like a robot and you can make it sound really gritty, it’s really cool. If you get familiar with that plugin you’ll hear it in all my tracks.

Kagan: You said you do all of the vocals on your tracks? So that’s all you on Fo Free?

Cody: Yeah actually one of the biggest responses I got was that people could recognize my voice on the track because it was the least that I’ve had to pitch down my vocals to get that “I’m gonna give it up for free”. Everybody I sent it to, like my sister and roommate, were like I can totally tell that’s you, that’s the way you talk even though it’s pitched down.

Kagan: What do you think of the electronic music scene out here in Orange County?

Cody: I think it’s a lot better for up and coming artists than pretty much anywhere in the world. I started producing house music in 2015 up in San Francisco. My stuff was getting no traction up there just because I wasn’t playing anywhere and I didn’t know anyone who was. I was just making stuff and throwing it up on Soundcloud. Then I moved back to Orange County where where it was a lot easier to get things heard. Why it still blows my mind that so many people are into my stuff is because I was making it for so long without getting any response. One of the first tracks I ever made in San Francisco in 2015, Magda just said she plays it every set. It’s Bromosapiens and that’s my voice too.

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Kagan: Do you have any advice for producers trying to get their first release on a major label?

Cody: Just keep at it and always put the music first. I didn’t make an Instagram until I had already been making music for about two and a half years. I know so many people who’s whole hype is their Instagram or their Twitter. It’s like I have 3000 followers on Twitter I get 1000 retweets but you go on Soundcloud and they have like 10 followers. Put the music first and everything else will follow. Once people start playing your music and start realizing your music is the shit, they’ll care about what you’re doing on Twitter or Instagram or something like that but don’t let that be the gateway to your music.

It’s gonna take time. If you’re not willing to put the time in in the studio, it’s gonna hurt you in the long run. Walker & Royce have only been blowing up in the past three years and now they’re at the top of the top in terms of Dirtybird and house music, but they’ve been making music for a decade prior to that. It takes X amount of years to make an overnight success.  

Those are some very wise words from a rising star at Dirtybird and in the dance music scene as a whole. I think we have a lot to look forward to from Cody as he progresses in his budding career as a DJ and producer. Be sure to follow him on Soundcloud and other social media channels so you don’t miss a bit.

Until next time, Ambassadors.

Kagan

AKA DJ Moose Trax

RECAP: ELI & FUR @ MDA WEDNESDAYS

Eli & Fur Crossed the Pond to Play at La Cave

EXPERIENCE BY: KAGAN RICHARDSON

MDA had the pleasure of hosting a lineup of beautiful and talented DJs took the stage at La Cave, dishing out the tasty beats to a hungry crowd all night long. MDA DJs Rachel and Speaker Honey had warmup duties, with London-natives Eli & Fur crossing the pond from Australia to headline the night.

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Eliza Noble and Jennifer Skillman first broke into the scene as Eli & Fur in 2012 and quickly made a name for themselves. They both have backgrounds in songwriting, and it shows in their music, as they write songs with mesmerizing lyrics over dance melodies and beats. The pair is even known to sing on some of their tracks.

I personally first heard of Eli & Fur with their debut track, You’re so High. It reached the number three spot on Hype Machine and has racked up tens of millions of plays since. Their first EP, "Illusions" was then released in 2013 by NYX Records. Since then they’ve released tracks on labels like Defected and Anjunabeats, and they’ve collaborated with Erick Morillo, Shadow Child, and Tâches, to name a few.

Their early success earned them Best Breakthrough Artist at the 2016 International Dance Music Awards (IDMA) and support from legendary BBC Radio 1 tastemaker, Pete Tong. Their self-made video, California Love, chronicles their 13-city North American tour in 2015 and is definitely worth checking out.

It was an absolute honor to have the dynamic duo grace the decks in our underground home.

Rachel took the stage to start off the night and warmed up the cave perfectly. Speaker Honey then took over the decks for the second week in a row. She displayed her versatility and ability to adapt to the crowd by playing more of a techo heavy set this time around.

Eli & Fur closed out the night and kept the energy through the end of the show. The pair work so well together during a set and truly know how to work a crowd as the cave was going off! This is not too surprising as they’ve been working together since they were teens.

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Eli & Fur have played big festivals like Coachella in the past, but they will not be taking the stage in Indio this year. Instead they will be playing around the world in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Bulgaria. Their posted tour dates cap off with an appearance at Bestival in the United Kingdom in August.

Until next time Ambassadors.

Kagan Richardson

AKA DJ Moose Trax


 

 

Bad Boy Bill Brought Chicago House to Orange County

Bad Boy Bill Brought Chicago House to OC

EXPERIENCE BY: KAGAN RICHARDSON

MDA had the honor of hosting an absolute legend and pioneer, Bad Boy Bill. BBB grew up in Chicago during the house music movement of the mid to late 80s with his DJ career starting in 1985 when he was only a teenager. He built his popularity by hosting his own parties and opening for the legendary Hot Mix 5.

Success as a remixer came early for Bad Boy Bill, as he earned a Top Five Billboard Dance Chart hit at the ripe age of 19 with his remix of Dada Nada’s Deep Love. He had some tough competition as the other remixers for Deep Love included Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, and Steve Wight. As a DJ, he proved his skills by winning the DMC Midwest Finals and placing in the top three of the US championships in 1988. He is known for using up to six turntables in competitions!

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Perhaps Bad Boy Bill’s most interesting accomplishment is helping to bring the concept of commercial DJ mixes to the world. Before commercial DJ mixes, music publishing houses were not paid any royalties on copyrighted music in the mixes DJs would produce and sell. This means that the artists who made the songs were not paid if their songs were featured as part of a mix.

In 1995, Bad Boy Bill launched Mix Connection Multimedia (MCM) and became the first Chicago DJ to produce legally-licensed DJ mixes. He went on to release mix series such as Bangin’ the Box and The House Connection with Richard Vission.

BBB has countless singles and remixes credited to his name, but in 2009 he released his first full-length album which is appropriately named, The Album. I highly recommend checking it out.

Bad Boy Bill merges genres throughout the album like I’ve never heard before, but everything still has his electronic signature. He also shows how well-respected he is in the music world as his list of collaborators include JJ Flores, Steve Smooth, Alyssa Palmer, Alex Peace, and even John Taylor from Duran Duran.

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His set on Friday was very reminiscent of the album, as he blended many different genres, eras, and sounds from start to finish. No matter what everything had the Bad Boy Bill feel to it. He played some of my personal favorite tracks right now, Hood Girl by Billy Kenny and Cola by Camelphat and Elderbrook, and also mixed in some of his newest original tracks like Hustling for Horns with Ghettoblaster.

Bad Boy Bill is one of those rare DJs that has managed to stay relevant for decades, especially in today’s world when DJs are a dime a dozen. I don’t think he will be going anywhere any time soon. I just hope he keeps coming back to Orange County to play!

Until next time Ambassadors!  

Kagan Richardson

AKA DJ Moose Trax

 

RECAP: MAT ZO & MDA DJs @ EXCHANGE LA

Mat Zo Took Exchange LA on a 5-Hour Musical Journey

EXPERIENCE BY: KAGAN RICHARDSON

I swear I had never heard so many people cheer between songs, and I had never seen so many people weep cheers of joy at a DJ set. Mat Zo managed to bring all of the emotions out of the crowd from start to finish of his five hour set at Exchange LA.

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Before getting into the show, here's a little background on Mat Zo. Matan Zohar was born in London to an artistic family with his father being a painter, and his mother and uncle professional musicians. He fell in love with music at a young age, and it didn’t take long for him to shift his focus to electronic music with acts like Daft Punk, Chemical Brothers, and The Prodigy ruling the day in Europe. He was soon DJing around London and working on his own material.

When he was just 16 years old, he released his first single titled Exodus on a:LOUD Recordings. His trance and progressive house styles soon earned him the attention of Above & Beyond and their label, Anjunabeats. He released countless singles and remixes on Anjunabeats, Astralwerks, and other labels, as well as mixing the ever classic Anjunabeats Worldwide 02. I highly recommend checking it out as well as all the other Anjunabeats and Anjunadeep mix CDs. I also recommend Mat Zo’s compilation album, Anjunbeats pres. Mat Zo 01, if you want a taste of Mat Zo’s style early on in his career.

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In addition to all of the singles, remixes, and compilations, Mat Zo also has two full-length albums and an EP to his name. Damage Control was released in 2013 to critical acclaim. It reached number one on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Album. One of the singles, Easy, was a collaboration with Porter Robinson and reached the coveted number one spot on Beatport in 2012. The hit of a track samples vocals from Nothing Better by Colourblind.

Self Assemble followed just three years later and was released on his own record label, Mad Zoo, and had countless features spanning from Chuck D of Public Enemy to Linnea Schossow, Marcus Shossow’s very talented sister. The second album didn’t contain as many features as the first, but it did feature collaborations with I See MONSTAS and Sinéad. His three song EP, the Mad EP, followed just three weeks after that also under his own label.

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With such an impressive track record and vast array of productions to his name, Mat Zo had us in for a wild ride of a night. I had never seen a DJ play a five hour set, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. In the past, Mat Zo has produced drum n bass tracks under the name MRSA so I could only guess that his set would span many different styles.

Well, this was only kind of right. Mat Zo not only played samplings of his entire discography, he did so while taking us on a musical journey over the decades. He played classic electronic dance tracks right alongside his own masterpieces, and he did so all night long. His original tracks such as Pyramid Scheme, Rebound, and Get Up 2 Get Down blended perfectly with classic tracks like My Friend by Groove Armada, Axwell’s remix of In the Air by TV Rock, and No Good by The Prodigy.

 

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The highlight of the night for me was when Mat Zo dropped one of his collaborations with Arty, Mozart, to the pure elation of the crowd. Mozart is my personal favorite Mat Zo track, and it is the track the encouraged me to explore the sounds of trance and progressive house more.

While Mat Zo destroyed the dancefloor at the main stage upstairs, Modern Disco Ambassador residents Chef Boyarbeats, Fantom Freq, and yours truly, DJ Moose Trax, had the pleasure of bringing The Gallery Room a fresh supply of underground sounds. I swear the dance floor was on fire by the end of the night with the amount of dancing that was taking place.

 

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It was certainly a night that no one in attendance will forget any time soon. If you get the chance to see Mat Zo at a venue near you, especially at a club like Exchange, take it and thank me later.

Until next time Ambassadors.

Recap: Matoma at The Fonda Theatre

Matoma Never Disappoints

Experience by: Kagan Richardson

Matoma never disappoints and neither does The Fonda. Last Friday, Norway-native Tom Lagergren, aka Matoma, embarked on his One in a Million Tour and made a stop at the legendary Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles. In addition to popular American metropolitan spots, such as New York City, San Francisco, and Las Vegas, Matoma will take the stage in Hungary and Norway, as well. Matoma has been killing it ever since he came onto the scene with his unique remixes, starting with Big Poppa by Notorious B.I.G. in 2014. He went on to release his Hakuna Matoma EP in 2015, along with countless singles and releases over the years. He was even featured on Jason Derulo’s Try Me with Jennifer Lopez in 2015.

This tour, however, was to promote his first full-length album, One in a Million, which is set to release on March 9. Matoma is rumored to have many features joining him on the album, and the first single is proof of that. Slow was released on November 17, the same day tickets for the tour went on sale, and features Noah Cyrus - little sister to Miley Cyrus. In an interview with Billboard, Matoma said he was looking to do something different and with Noah on Slow, it felt right. He heard her first single, Make Me Cry, and loved it so much that he knew he had to get her on a track. Noah is also set to release her debut album in 2018, and she recently released We Are F**ked with MØ.

Matoma hinted at some other awesome collaborations with his tour schedule as he brought many other great artists along with him. Two Friends, Elephante, Naations, Youngr, MAX, Robotaki, and BKAYE all joined on different legs of the tour. Youngr took the opening duties on Friday night with MAX joining Matoma on stage to play their new song together. The talent didn’t stop there as Noah Cyrus and Yashua made surprise appearances to showcase their collaborations.

Matoma himself absolutely killed it all the way through his hour and a half set. He masterfully mixed his originals and remixes while showcasing his vast musical taste by throwing in Yeah 3X by Chris Brown, Still D.R.E. by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, the Candyland remix of Axwell & Ingrosso’s More Than You Know, and Rumors by The Kemist, just to name a few. He kept us guessing all night long.

It was my third time seeing Matoma and the first two times he only DJ’d. This time he brought along a Nord Stage 3 with his normal DJ setup. He fused live elements into his set especially when he had company on stage, showing that he is not just a DJ.

If Friday night is any indication, One in a Million is set to be one of the best albums so far this year. My only complaint of the night was that it ended at 1am, not 2am and we wanted more!

Until next time. Keep your antlers up.

NEON INDIAN @ EXCHANGE LA RECAP

NEON INDIAN & FRIENDS TAKE OVER EXCHANGE LA W/ MDA DJs

EXPERIENCE BY: KAGAN RICHARDSON

Live performances verse DJ sets are both amazing to experience, but in different ways. Seeing a musician or band express themselves through different mediums is like seeing the legendary Hugh Jackman star in a movie and then catching him on stage for a musical in a theatre. Neon Indian, likewise, a master of their craft for indie dance music, was a performance that I could not miss and being a DJ (and music lover), myself, I was excited to see what was in store for their DJ set at Exchange LA

If you haven't been to Exchange LA or don't know what it is, here's a little background. The building began construction in 1929, just a few days before the stock market crash. It's prime location is on Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles. In 1931, it opened as the Los Angeles Stock Exchange, 35 years later it became the Pacific Stock Exchange, and in 1986 the facility made a final move from the location.

 

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That's right, the dance floor was once used for trading stocks, but now trades memories of legendary performances. The halls that once echoed of shouting numbers and figures, now chants songs and melodies, with thousands of guests dancing to the same rhythm in unison. If you stand in the middle of the dance floor, facing the main stage and look directly up and to the right, you can see where the clock used to be for the trading floor. 

In more current history, PAX America purchased the building in 2006 and opened doors for a new dance club, Exchange LA in 2010. However, in 2013 PAX filed for bankruptcy, which paved the way for Insomniac to take over and establish the venue that we know and love today.

In my opinion, Exchange LA is one of the best clubs in the city. Insomniac truly does an amazing job with the production. When you ascend the large marble staircase to the main stage on the second floor, it feels as though you have been teleported to a midnight set at the Neon Garden stage at EDC Las Vegas, also run by Insomniac.

The lights and lasers are always on point, and the Funktion One sound system is a force to be reckoned with. Seeing Neon Indian at such a quality venue with great support from Holy Ghost!, Gigamesh, Rambo and not to mention MDA DJs, was certainly a treat. 

 

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In the heart of Downtown, you get a true taste of life in Los Angeles, as you walk toward the venue. You can feel the bass as soon as you step onto the sidewalk surrounding Exchange LA. Immediately after walking through the door, you can spot The Gallery, a spacious side room on the first floor that typically houses lineups curated from partners. This night MDA had the pleasure of curating a stacked lineup, which included DJ Instagator, Rachel and Rozco.

On the main stage, Rambo started by perfectly building up the tasty disco beats in preparation for Holy Ghost!, who took over around 11:30 p.m. The synth-pop duo from NYC held down their set for about an hour and a half before Neon Indian took the staged, which was accompanied by a roar from the crowd.

 

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Alex Polomo, the frontman for the four piece band, Neon Indian, was a solo act during this DJ set. They were named one of the best new bands in 2010 by Rolling Stone and have three albums to their name, so far. Polish Girl, off of their second album, Era Extrana, released in 2012, is the song that got me hooked. If you haven't listened to it, I highly recommend it.

Even though the rest of the band wasn't there, the unique style of Neon Indian was shown throughout the set. The chill-wave and synth-pop sound with groovy basslines drove the dance floor to a fervor.

When the clock struck 2 a.m., I wasn't sure if I could keep going after dancing nonstop for hours, but multi-platinum selling Gigamesh had different plans for me. Best known for producing Cooler Than Me by Mike Posner and for his remix of Foster The People's Pumped Up Kicks, he took over at 2 a.m. and carried the crowd masterfully with chill, groovy vibes until Exchange LA shut doors at 4 a.m.

 

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Insomniac spoiled us with such an amazing lineup all in one night. I left the club feeling like I had just finished the world's craziest leg day at the gym. I want to say no more dancing for a few days... but you'll probably find me on the dance floor soon anyway. 

Until next time. Keep those antlers up. 

Le Holiday Party

Interview With Le Youth

EXPERIENCE BY: KAGAN RICHARDSON

On December 15, we hosted our annual Holiday Party at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, Calif. featuring a lineup of MDA residents including Rozco, Mogli, and Torosbros, as well as Los Angeles-based DJ, Le Youth to cap it off with a two hour set. This marked the third time having Le Youth, aka Wes James on the decks at an MDA event. You could say that he is a master when it comes to the disco and RnB infused sounds that ambassadors are known to love, so it was great to have him back.

I walked into The Wayfarer on Friday night to catch Rozco (Bryan Orozco), who was the perfect pick to start the night with his groovy house vibes. He handed it over masterfully at 10 pm to Mogli (Eli Rivera) to carry on the good vibes. He played one of my personal favorite tunes at the moment, Love Stream by Mat.Joe, and some funky tracks like Hello Clouds by Justin Martin to build the energy that he received from Rozco. Once the clock struck 11, it was Torosbros', turn to take over. To be honest I wasn’t sure where Torosbros was going to take us when he dropped Love is Strange by Mickey & Sylvia. The change of pace flipped the place on its head, but in the background of the track he was slowly mixing in the Zac Samuel remix of Say Something by Karen Harding. Once the beat dropped, he had the entire place in the palm of his hand. It stayed this way throughout his set as Torosbros delighted us with tracks such as Show Me by Zinc and the Kaytranada remix of Lady by Modjo.

As many of us expected, Le Youth’s unique style kept the party going strong for the rest of the night and the vibe was awesome. Before he went on stage, however, I sat down with Wes to talk about Le Youth and what we might see from him in 2018.

Kagan: What is the inspiration behind your name?
Wes: It’s not really a good story. It started as Youth and then I realized other people were already named that so I just kinda added a little bit of mystery with Le Youth. Its worked and served its purpose.
Kagan: Was there any reasoning behind Youth?
Wes: Yeah just kinda my fascination with youthfulness, existentialism, and youthful things.
Kagan: How old were you when you first started?
Wes: I’ve been making music my whole life but I started Le Youth about four years.
Kagan: When you produced COOL and first posted it on Soundcloud, how did you feel about the response it received?
Wes: It was cool, it was a very exciting time in my life. It kinda blew up really fast and it was just a perfect timing kind of thing it felt like. It was pretty magical.
Kagan: Did you expect that?
Wes: It was completely unexpected. I was living in a one bedroom apartment in Hollywood kind of like figuring out what I was gonna do with my life. Then I made this track and everything changed overnight.
 Kagan: If someone took a peek into your DJ bag, what would they find? Anything out of the ordinary?
Wes: Probably some hair product. That’s the only time I’ll ever say that. An iPhone charger which is not out of the ordinary, and my headphones.
Kagan: Is there anywhere in the world you would like to play in 2018?
Wes: Yeah I want to play Berlin. I’ve never been and its meant to be pretty wild. I think my style of music doesn’t really fit in very well, but I think the way I party fits in well there.
Kagan: Is there any specific producer or singer/songwriter that you hope to work with in 2018?
Wes: There’s just so many amazing writers right now. To be alive in this time of music is pretty cool. There’s more songwriters now than there ever were and better songs being written every day. I could literally list a dozen writers I would want to work with. As far as contemporary artists that are in my sort of world I would love to work with the Disclosure and the Duke Dumont kind of guys. I’ve done remixes for them and played shows with them, just never gotten into the studio with them.
Kagan: You’ve been touring a lot in 2017, but what can we expect from Le Youth in 2018?
Wes: Probably more releases than I’ve done in the past in one year. I’ve said that before so we’ll see if that actually works out. I would like to have new music coming out at a more consistent rate. I travel a lot and I play a lot of shows, but it’s just the weekends. I’m usually back in the studio during the week with plenty of time. I can also do a bit when I’m on the road in hotels and such.
Kagan: What is your favorite piece of software or hardware you use for production?
Wes: I love the Juno-106, that’s my favorite piece of hardware. It’s pretty standard as far as analog synths go. I invested a lot of money into my laptop. I have this laptop that cost more money than it should have but it’s worth it. I mean I could make music with a drumstick and a phone recorder, you can do anything so to have these tools at my disposal is pretty awesome. I would say though the majority of my studio gear is in the box, its in my laptop. I’ve also been messing with the Korg Mono/poly lately. It’s one of my new favorites. Roland started making this boutique series, they’ve made kind of these miniature versions of all these synths from years past. I have one called the SE-02 which is pretty cool. They’re fun man, people kind of talk shit but they’re fun.
Kagan: Last question, you’ve been known to sample other songs in your own productions, such as Cassie’s Me & You in COOL and TLC’s No Scrub in Dance With Me. Can you give us some insight into your process when it comes to finding these samples for your own productions?
Wes: Yeah so for me its downloading as many acapellas as I possibly can whether that’s from a torrent or from people who had acapellas from back in the day when they did the remix. It’s about finding the acapellas and just trying to see what works with what. I would be lying if I said I set out to make COOL or if I set out to make Dance With Me. I didn’t, I literally just tried things and tried things and tried things until I found something I liked. In fact, COOL was actually thrown in the trash bin for like three months and a friend of mine was like hey you should put that song out I kinda liked that one. I was calling it something different at the time but that song would have never come out had someone not even told me to do it. I make so much music and I’m always working on so many different things that sometimes certain songs get past you without realizing the value in it. What’s even funnier is that Dance With Me, I’ve actually never talked about this, was written before COOL. I kinda had some reservations about putting out Dance With Me after COOL because I felt I had grown a little bit after Dance With Me and putting out COOL. That’s how it all played out.
Kagan: Since you had Dance With Me in your project files for a while, did it evolve over time or was it pretty much all put together?
Wes: So when I signed with Sony after COOL, I sent them some of the other songs I had been working on. I sent them Dance With Me and they were like “yo we should put this out next” and I was like “no no it’s not done not done” and they were like “no it’s great”. Then they put it out and it did really well, it hit number 8 in the UK. Pretty wild.
Kagan: Well Dance With Me is definitely one of my favorites. You’ve got just a few minutes before you go on so thanks for your time and I look forward to your set!

All in all, the evening was a night to remember. Can't wait for big things to come in 2018! Stay tuned Ambassadors and keep those antlers up.

A Night Out With Nora En Pure & Lee Foss

EXPERIENCE BY KAGAN RICHARDSON

On December 15, I had the honor of attending the Nora En Pure and Lee Foss show at the legendary Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles, Calif. Personally, I Had only ever been to The Fonda to see rock bands, so I was very excited to see what a show with DJs would be like. The Fonda Theatre first opened in 1926 as the Carter DeHaven Music Box and has hosted many plays, movies, and musicians from The Rolling Stones to Justice. Over the years, it has seen periods of closure and many changes of ownership and name before settling on The Fonda Theatre by Goldenvoice in 2012. The name is in honor of stage and film actor, Henry Fonda. In 2015, LA Weekly named The Fonda the top music venue in Los Angeles, and Friday night's show proved that the title was well earned.

Right when I walked through the doors into the lobby on Friday, it was obvious that the venue was perfect for the music that was waiting for us just inside the inner doors. You feel like you've traveled back in time to a Roaring Twenties era theater with the combination of mood lighting and decor. The older style of the venue and the sounds of today with Nora En Pure and Lee Foss was truly a beautiful combination showing that opposites do attract.

We arrived in time to catch the last half of the opening DJ's set who built up the energy perfectly before handing the decks over to Lee Foss. Chicago native, Lee Foss dove into electronic music after befriending Jamie Jones in Ibiza in the early 2000s. Their friendship and later partnership with Richy Ahmed gave birth to their label, Hot Creations, as well as their band, Hot Natured, with Infinity Ink. Knowing how well respected Lee Foss is in the house music community and his work with his label, I was very excited to see him perform DJ set. He showed the crowd his musical taste by playing tracks such as Hiding by Icarus and Darius Syrossian remix of Claptone's The Music Got Me. He also showcased his original productions from his Electricity EP with MK and his own album, Alchemy. The place went off when he played Drifting, which is one of my personal favorite tunes by Lee Foss. After an hour and a half set of pure good times, Nora En Pure took over.

Nora En Pure first burst into the scene with Come With Me in 2013 and has consistently released quality tunes such as Saltwater and her remix of Jubel by Klingade. Her Conquer Yosemite EP was released earlier in 2017 and showcase her skills as a producer, as well as her love for piano. If you haven't had a listen yet, I highly recommend it. Nora En Pure's groovy house sounds paired perfectly with the vibes Lee Foss set, combined to be a night that not just house music lovers would enjoy, but lovers of music in general. She showcased many of her original productions, but I think the set reached a climax when she played True. The bassline is so groovy and showed the quality of The Fonda's sounds system which is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Friday night was my first time seeing Nora En Pure play, and I don't think it will be the last.

Overall, the show was expertly curated by Goldenvoice and was help in an amazing historic venue. Lee Foss and Nora En Pure proved why they are considered such masters of their craft during their respective sets. If you get a chance to check out a set from either of them, don't miss it. I will definitely be looking into more shows at The Fonda.

Until next time Ambassadors, keep those antlers up.