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Music

Talking with Detuned Transmission before their label launch this Sunday

Posted by Greg / September 13, 2013

20130913-DetunedTransmissions.jpgThis Sunday at Sound Central, the record label Detuned Transmissions will hold its official launch party. Detuned Transmissions is the brainchild of Jason oS, one one half of the 170 BPM electronic duo Daat. The first record will feature two songs: "1999," about a post-apocalyptic vision of Montreal, and "Crashes," the "calm ocean after the storm." I spoke recently with Jason oS and Joe Joe Mnemonic, the two members of Daat, about their musical projects and the future of Detuned Transmissions.

Listen to the singles from DTN001 and read the interview below.

What is Daat and how was it formed?

Joe: Daat is the collaboration of myself (Joe Mnemonic) and Jason oS. We met in 2009 in the graduate department where we were both studying and became fast friends. We then started to make tracks together, meshing concepts and production techniques, and experimenting with sound design. Just been building from there!

What made you decide to start a record label? What does the name, Detuned Transmissions, mean? What does it say about your work?

Jason: I've been making Drum & Bass for a while now, and wanted to start a label since around 2000, but the timing hasn't ever been right. It was through discussions with a good friend/mentor in the scene, Justice (Tony Bowes) that made me realize that there is no such thing as a "good time" for this sort of thing, and you've got to make it happen sooner than later. Through his guidance and excellent long-standing label, Modern Urban Jazz (MJAZZ) has been an exemplar model to learn from. Our good friend Dan ESB ran the Detuned Radio Show on www.jungletrain.net for the last 9 years, and his job required that he move out west last year. Being a DJ myself, and having been a guest on his show several times, I felt that the show's legacy shouldn't be lost for a temporary relocation, so I offered to take over the show in his absence. During the course of this last year, I had also been writing my doctoral dissertation on Hardcore, Jungle, and Drum & Bass, and in doing so, I had conducted many interviews with well-known producers and label owners; between this and wanting to extend the creativity of our own productions as Daat onto our own physical products, we decided to go ahead and create a label. The name Detuned seemed most fitting, given the work we'd put into creating a new sound with the Decarie Sessions, and it paid reverence to the show's origin and efforts. Plus its a great name and we have the go-ahead from Dan :) The label is intended to serve as an outlet for our solo endeavors and joint work as Daat, as well as collaborations with other artists. The label artist, Aaron Minerbrook (4 Eyes), I have known for nearly 15 years, and we've envisioned working on a project together for a long time, and I feel our artistic origins are rooted in similar places.

Joe: Right, I'd say most of our work together stems from intense discussions about meanings! There's a lot that comes from a name, yet another aspect of the musical/artistic dialog of releasing a product. We took a while considering alternatives for the label name, but kept coming back to Detuned. No matter how cool our other ideas sounded, we couldn't deny the importance of continuing the legacy of Detuned Radio, of building upon that community.

What made you pair "1999" with "Crashes"? How do the two songs fit together?

Jason: I think 1999 and Crashes represent two of the kinds of sounds we're pushing at the moment. The A side is aggressive, harder, but also playful. This type of tune really attempts to fill the spectrum, and move around while keeping a very strong rhythmic bass hook. Crashes came about through a different ideology all together. Dom and I were set to work on a tune, and I had left it for a while, and came back to it after working on the remix of Icons' Time Undefined, and it was done very quickly after that. There were certainly some motivational aspects embedded in the making of the tune, and hopefully that comes across when listening.

Joe: We liked the idea of having contrasting tracks on DTND001 and as a general theme for Detuned Transmissions releases going into the future. 1999 is one of the heavier tracks we've made up to this point, energetic and dark, a bleak description of crumbling cities/society through the lens of 80s sci-fi. Personally, I like to think of Montreal's crumbling infrastructure and post-apocalyptic elements--the Turcot interchange, the abandoned buildings, and other signs of decay that I think have strangely become icons of the city. Crashes, on the other hand, is a much more positive track that speaks of growth in the face of desolation. Around the time we were making Crashes (in collaboration with Dominic Ridgway) Jason and I were both facing major obstacles in our lives, but were striving to keep strong and to move forward. I think that context and mind-state comes out clearly.

Can you explain 170 BPM electronic music? Is it about more than just the beats per minute?

Jason: 170 is a subgenre--in part related to Drum & Bass--that is generally focused on half-time rhythms, sparsity, and is most similar to the Autonomic subgenre that predated it (that was popular between 2009-12). The Autonomic sound was popularized through the well-known podcasts made by dBridge and Instra:mental. I'd say that the two aren't necessarily separate all the time, but a lot of people see Autonomic in the past tense, as several of the original key players of the genre have moved on. Well-known artists in this subgenre are dBridge, Instra:mental, ASC, Synkro, and Consequence. I guess you could say 170 shares the characteristic sparsity and timbres, but has diversified the context of the music, oftentimes delving into different territory than was present in Autonomic. I don't really care too much about the distinctions, but I suppose it's helpful for describing what the music isn't.

What else is coming up? More releases? Live performances?

Jason: We have a Daat tune, Phytochrome, due to appear on Subtle Audio Vol. III towards the end of the year, several collaborations in the works, and a few more solo and Daat tunes that we're preparing for DTND002. Regarding performances, I've fallen back in love with DJing. There's really something special about the restrictions, the medium, and the danger. The creativity is a bit more subtle, but right now I'm interested in developing techniques for blending multiple genres that elicit the similar feelings together. That's definitely one of my aims on the Detuned Transmissions: Decarie Sessions shows.

Joe: As Jason mentioned I'm interested in live performance. My background is in (Jazz) trumpet, which I've used with electronics for years now to make ambient music. I'm really interested in live production/composition as a way of bringing that organic, raw feel into Daat. At the same time I'm always challenging myself in studio production and DJing--sort of coming at it from both sides!

What are you listening to these days? Anything you can recommend to readers?

Jason: A lot...perhaps too much listening! The show generally reflects our interest in a variety of genres, from film music (e.g., Thomas Newman, Kenji Kawai), to 80s/90s Dead Can Dance, old favorites on Warp and Transmat, and into more recent synth manipulations by Evan Paschke. As for the 170 genre, ASC and his label Auxiliary (including Synth Sense, Sam KDC, Method One, and others) are in full stride at the moment. I play a lot of music from Justice and Metro, Books, Godfather Sage, Bop, Oak, Jalex, Marginal, Anile, Thing, and definitely Code's Subtle Audio label.

Joe: These days I've found myself listening to a lot of vinyl field recordings, nature sounds, cities, acoustic spaces and the like. Also came across a lot of Paul Horn records recently that I'm really enjoying. Digging and sampling, you know how it can become obsessive!

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