Midwest producer Appian (pronounced App-ee-an) has been honing his ear for dance music since he was a kid, soaking up select cuts from his Mom’s collection. His Mom must have good taste, because Appian’s gone on to create some of the vibiest house music we’ve heard of late, recently joining forces with Chicago-based label Stripped & Chewed for a bumpin’ piano-laced four-track EP entitled Rite of Passage.
We caught up with Appian to talk about the midwest, snackin’, and to grab a sweet guest mix!
Appian: “I grew up in Ferndale, which is a suburb of Detroit, by 8 mile and Livernois. I listened to dance music as a kid because my mom had a bunch of CDs and tapes from DJs. When I got older, I got into Djing and making music.”
“For this mix, I had some slower tracks that I wanted to play. Usually I don’t play that much of the slower tempo stuff that I have, so this was a good opportunity to put some of those tracks together to see where it goes. As far as music influences, I was influenced by Rhythm Is Rhythm, some 80s club music, Aphex Twin’s techno stuff, and a lot of house music… among other things.”
WKDU: How’d the midwest influence your sound and how’d you connect with Stripped & Chewed?
Appian: The mid-west has its own style… I don’t know if I can really describe it though. Stripped & Chewed got in touch with me about doing a record. I’ve liked a lot of stuff that they have done with the label, so it was a great opportunity to collaborate.
WKDU: Any party pro-tips?
Appian: Play the music you love and music for your friends. Play music for the dancers.
WKDU: What’s your favorite post-party snack?
Appian: Chicken strips or coneys.
Peep clips of the Rite of Passage EP below & stay groovy y’all.
bpmf is a button pushin mother f*cker living in beautiful West Philadelphia. With a career spanning back to the 80s that has seen him rock shows across the world, we sat down with the hardware wizard to discuss his new album Abide the Glide, keeping the funk (and glide) alive, and of course, music gear.
bpmf has been doin’ the thing for a little while now. Pictured here with Prototype 909 (P-909).
When did bpmf first start playing with hardware?
bpmf has always been about hardware. I got the name from Skip McDonald of Tackhead who came to my studio to check out my skills with an eye for helping his band mate Doug Whimbish produce his solo album. I was told that when Doug asked what he thought of my work on the Akai S-900, Skip responded: “Man that is one button pushin mutha fucka”.
The first time I ever played live was in ’86 with The Free World. The two of us basically dismantled the entire studio and brought it to the space. I wasn’t thrilled to ever do that again, so it wasn’t until ’93 in Prototype 909 where we had six hands and an arsenal of Roland gear that I got the bug for playing live. We started Rancho Relaxo All Stars in 94 and I’d bring my SH-101, TR-606, DX-100, and Prophet 600 and we’d put all our gear together and jam. Each of us would often solo out for 10 minutes or so and then mix in a record. So in this way I feel like I was very fortunate to ease into playing live solo with a lot of extra gear and a little help from my friends.
Despite making techno for a decade as bpmf and with P-909 and playing live with them over 70 times, I never really played Techno live by myself until I hooked up with Rizumu in 2015. I had gone to a few parties with some amazingly talented young people working the machines, some shows having more than one, or going all night live. This really got to me seeing these young people going at what I had never really had the courage to do. I had some newer, smaller gear that certainly made it easier to bring along everything I thought I needed and to work it more easily than what I had done in the past. So the time was right.
Prototype 909 live in action with the infamous Prophet 600 in tow.
You’ve got two labels: Serotonin & Schmer. What’s the style for each?
By 94 I was starting to feel that techno was getting a bit too unfunky for my taste and that year I had met John Selway at Satellite records and realized that we both had a love for the funkier electronic dance music of the early eighties: electro, electro disco, new wave, funk. We thought we should help to bring it back, so we started Serotonin.
I wasn’t done with Techno so the next year I started Schmer. We brought Serotonin back because we wanted to get some of the old releases that hadn’t been digitally released re-released and because John and I were sitting on tracks that we had made for Serotonin over the years that would never find a better home than our own label. We also had never stopped receiving demos and some of them amazing and better than anything we had yet put out. Seemed pretty obvious to us.
As for Schmer, it was simply a matter of having an outlet for the kind of stuff I was making and since its pretty far outside the mainstream of modern techno its very unlikely anyone else was going to do it. When Nina Kaviz put a DJ RX-5 track from Schmer-003 out on her Fabric CD that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back on that decision.
DJ RX-5 “Like A Boogie”, as featured in Nina Kraviz’s Fabric 91 mix.
What’s your favorite piece of gear? If you have one.
Well my “love piece” as my buddy Abe Duque would say, is the Sequential Circuits Prophet 600. It’s the sound of “Button” from the Button EP on Rancho Relaxo. I took it everywhere in the 90s and there’s hardly a bpmf track from back then without it. I still have it and I still love it but I wont take it out because its just too big and impractical. Especially when my new favorite “love piece” the Roland JP-08 Boutique is so small and compact.
What’s the worst thing about electronic music coming out today?
Much of what they call “techno” today I don’t recognize as such. You can make electronic dance music using almost all the same gear and techniques employed in techno, but if the music has no soul, no funk, so sexy feeling or no house feel then its not what I call “techno”. Let’s call that EDM, regardless of what the label, or producer claims it is. House is a feeling and techno is a sub-genre of house, therefore techno needs to have a feeling, when its not there its just whatever.
Also, there are too many jerks. Yes, they are misogynists and there needs to be more woman in our scene and great progress is being made; but only by getting rid of the jerks will we make room for a lot of the people who’ve been left out or put out by jerks at the top.
bpmf rocking it solo at a recent live gig.
Is this your first album? I thought albums were “dead”.
bpmf released two ambient albums, “Parousia Fallacy” in 2007 on Serotonin and “Solaris” on Telepathic Bubblebath in 2016. Albums aren’t dead, I think they are a very useful form helping the artist to focus energies and themes. The fact that consumers get to pick it apart and just take the tracks they like shouldn’t discourage the artist from thinking in terms of an album. Just like we put four tracks on an EP for you to only play one. The album is still the artist’s best chance to be a DJ and take the listener on a journey with their music selection and programing. In addition to the tracks, I intend to release a mix of the album so people get another insight into how I thought these tracks should work together.
Abide the Glide was conceived and produced as a series of 3-4 track EPs starting in 2016. The 4th one is the only one to be put out on vinyl and it comes out in August, its Schmer-008. The other 3 had been on bandcamp for a while but I’ll be releasing them on the album instead with the mix to follow. The theme is portamento. You must abide the glide if you’re gonna get down on this.
Oh man… well first of all, the gear itself. Got a preenfm2 from Xavier Hosxe so that I could do FM parts with portamento, because the volca FM don’t glide. This brought me back to when I had the Yamaha DX-100 with p909 and I always tried to rock these Relief Records glide lines into the mix. When they worked, nothing worked better.
So you could say a big influence was Lester Fitzpatrick, Green Velvet and everyone else in Chicago in 90s rockin that glide sound. Also as for the 303 itself, my favorite patterns are the ones where the bends get you moving so those are the ones I gravitate to.
The mood rises from a meditation on the acceptance of reality and the need to go with the flow. Each of us was put on this earth for a purpose, even though our contribution may be small in the grand scheme of things there is something that you are the best at or are only person that can do it. Right now I’m here to bring the glide back.
What do you love and/or hate the most about the TR-606?
What I love most is its size. Its perfect. Put separate outs on the drums and its even perfecter. I love the hats and cymbal, they are piercing, dangerously so. I can’t put into words the feeling the sound of the toms give me and that tight sharp snare is the best Roland snare EVER. There is nothing I hate about it, I have accepted it and embrace it for what it is. It is perfect, as perfect as piece of gear can be. I was very sad when Ikutaro Kakehashi passed away this year. He is my hero, he is to me like an uncle I never knew. This entire techno journey would have been impossible without him and I owe him a debt that can never possibly be repaid.
What’s your favorite thing about techno ?
It never ends so it’s always there.
What’s the button pusher’s favorite post-rave snack?
If you enjoy diving into experimental hip hop and bouncy future beats, you owe it to yourself to check out Night Swim Radio’s latest compilation The Deep End – Volume 1. Night Swim is a Philadelphia based web radio show that has consistently selected amazing underground artists for their weekly mixes, live showcases and compilation albums. I had the pleasure of hosting NSR’s co-founder and all-around badass, Robert Ritter, for an awesome guest mix on Snack Time, so I reached back out with a couple questions to gain further insight into The Deep End and Night Swim.
Right in time for Night Swim Radio’s 2 year anniversary as one of the best tastemakers in Philly, you guys just dropped one of the hottest compilations of experimental future beats I’ve seen all summer. What has it been like getting this project together?
You’re too kind. We initially were going to try and secure some “bigger” artists for promotional purposes but then realized our first compilation should be from the Night Swim family. We sent out probably 20-30 emails and ended up with 10 artists that we have been promoting for a long time. Everyone involved is super excited to be a part and we can’t wait to keep working with them. Really just honored that they spent time on music for us to release.
How did you pick the title of the compilation, “The Deep End”? How did you tie all of the songs together?
Like our name, Jeff, the other founder, just said “how about The Deep End”? I am not very picky and said sure! We wanted to make it pool related and it just fit. Took about 10 minutes in total to design the cover once I had the name. I wanted to have the compilation run seamlessly and really craft the order but didn’t have enough time. I played the songs back and forth and landed on the order that it is, tried to split up the 3 songs with vocals. I knew I wanted to start with Pold x Baribal because that song is gorgeous.
On the weekly shows and on the new release, you feature lots of local artists who are killing it right now. Who from Philly should definitely be on everyone’s radar right now?
Kilamanzego for sure. She claims she just started producing but I don’t believe her because it is so good! Vendr is another very talented artist. Lastly, godchild makes some impressive music and goes to Drexel, although don’t quote me on that, I might be wrong.
One of your secret talents seems to be connecting artists through NSR to collaborate on tunes. One of your matchmaking successes, Rasiir and Prototyp3, got together on “The Deep End” for the track “Exodus”, which you released ahead of the full comp. How does it feel having such a direct impact on the community?
Oh man, that makes me happier than anything else Night Swim has done. Being from the Midwest, music is very communal. I used to play shows where every band knew each other and supported each other and wanted everyone to succeed. The east coast has been pretty different but I can’t get away from that desire, to help artists meet new people and grow together. The next compilation is going to be 100% collaborative, bringing together vocalists and producers.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your 2 years as founder/co-producer of Night Swim Radio?
Just trying to not care about followers and play count. Although it definitely helps to have thousands of plays, the point is creating a quality radio program and meeting and promoting new artists. You can get so wrapped up in wanting more followers and grow bitter but you have to remember that the whole point of this is to bring joy to the world, at least for me!
What do you have planned for the future?
The compilation was just the start of our newest venture, Night Swim Records. We have an EP from Prototyp3 coming out in August, definitely something with Rasiir in the works, we always release new singles through our soundcloud, and starting to plan out the next compilation!
Your pal DJ Es here – and I have some important news.
I’m moving out this week. I’m headed back to where I came from. I’m looking forward to full-time employment, no more homework, and even longer bike rides. Living with my parents until I can find a place of my own. Rummaging in the men’s section at Goodwill and finding middle school lacrosse jerseys from the kids who used to make fun of my name. You know, all that good stuff that comes with the next stage of life.
Despite all this hope for the future, it hits me. I’m. Leaving. Philly. My home for the last 5 years. And, since my record collection has quadrupled in size in that timespan, I figured I’d round up a handful of my favorite Philly cuts. Where you live influences what you like, after all….
Panic Buttons – O Wow
First heard on The Philly Sound Get Down – a CD comp put out by Funkadelphia Records. Dug the original 45 at Sit n Spin Records.
Psychedelic fuzz wall of sound hypnotic blah blah blah. Common descriptors for many of the records and bands I love. But maybe it’s not enough for you. Maybe you need more than a general idea of psych rock. Of face melting fuzz. But that’s why the unique aspects of these bands, Creepoid, Ecstatic Vision, Purling Hiss, Spirit of the Beehive – I mean have you seen Kurosawa’s “Dreams”? Dreams, magical realism, one man’s imagination – You follow the path these dreams take you on and yet all are so wildly unique and extreme.
These bands draw you in, they blend comforting elements of these psychedelic fuzz genres with such unexpected punches of rage, voids of silence, lyrical daggers, haunting harmonies. There’s what you know, and what you don’t know. And to see these bands all in one show, it’s hard to imagine where the experience will take you. So don’t assume. Just let the dreams take you.
This post will be expanded with images and commentary from Friday nights show. Stay tuned!
You may not have heard of him yet but you probably will soon.
Kevin Garrett, a singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist from Pittsburgh by way of Brooklyn, has had quite an impressive few years, from getting cosigns from Sam Smith & Katy Perry to songwriting and producing for Beyoncé – and all off the strength of one EP and handful of singles.
Just last month (February), Garrett dropped his awaited sophomore project, another EP entitled “False Hope.” To support the album, Garrett embarked on his first headlining tour with openers A R I Z O N A.
Before his sold-out show at World Cafe Live on Friday, March 3rd, I had the opportunity to speak with the budding “odd soul” artist to see how his new music is coming along and much more.
Friday, January 27 brings a ton of new songs and albums. I’ve been waiting on these for a while, and this may be the best new music release day…ever. It’s like every album I’ve been looking forward to came out today. Here we go!