Founded in 2016 and based in Brooklyn, NEW YORK TRAX is an outlet for New York music, by New York artists, in New York city.
Ahead of the label’s seventh release, this one coming from techno icon John Selway under his Semblance Factor alias, we chatted with label boss Nicole about the state of electronic music, hype, and of course, New York.
Check out this mix of 100% NEW YORK TRAX releases and get a sneak peek at three upcoming releases from the label:
How did you get into electronic music? What were some of the first labels you loved?
I started going to events around the age of 18. I quickly became involved in the local scene by organizing my own events. My first big love when it comes to electronic music was hardcore techno (and it remains my favorite genre to this day). I spent a lot of time exploring the truly underground and obscure hardcore labels of the 1990s. One of my greatest discoveries was Fischkopf from Germany, Hangars Liquides from France, and, of course, New York’s Industrial Strength.
Why did you start the label? Have you done any other labels before? What’s the idea behind this label?
I started New York Trax to release music by New York producers only. The sound of New York is like its people: diverse and unique. Despite the common belief, New York Trax is not only a techno label. It releases electro, acid, hardcore, experimental, and will release even more genres in the future. What matters to me is creative sound with character. In the past, I did some work for other labels, but this is the first label that I run on my own.
What’s one thing you see a lot of labels doing wrong / right?
There is no formula for running a label and there are no limitations as to who can run a label and who cannot. As a result, concepts and sounds are constantly being recycled. I wish people asked themselves more often what is the purpose behind their projects, are they in any way original, are they contributing anything to the big picture, and so on.
What do you think is the state of New York nightlife?
New York nightlife is at its peak right now. There are a lot of venues, crews, labels, promoters etc. We have recently abolished the Cabaret Law and the office of Night Mayor was created. I hope we are off to a fresh start and an even brighter future.
What’s one thing in electronic music you wish you could change?
Less hype, more merit.
What’s your favorite post-rave snack / meal?
Sometimes I just don’t eat until Monday.
JohnSelway Pres. Semblance Factor EP is will be available in all fine outlets on March 19th.
NEW YORK TRAX Promo mix track list:
1. Lot.te – Graft (NYT05)
2. Richard Hinge – Changes (NYT01)
3. Dawid Dahl – Gehenna (NYT Imports 01)
4. Brenecki – The Oven (NYT02)
5. Another Alias – Craic Fiend (NYT Imports 01)
6. Alex Alben – Irin (NYT03)
7. TBA – NYT08
8. Steve Stoll – She rises up (NYT04)
9. TBA – NYT Imports 03
10. Endlec – Rhythm 387_1 (NYT Imports 02)
11. Steve Stoll – No questions please (NYT04)
12. Lot.te – Ultra Vires (NYT05)
13. Liquid Asset – Contact (NYT06)
14. John Selway – Jack the Void (Raw) (NYT07)
15. Endlec – Rhythm 401_Mix 1 (NYT Imports 02)
16. TBA – NYT Imports 04
17. John Selway – Defiance (NYT07)
18. Liquid Asset – Forgetmenot (NYT06)
Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce, New York’s dynamic garage glam duo of PWR BTTM chatted with us about the things that matter: gender fluidity, their recent discovery of Bethany Cosentino, and their favorite carbs. If you’re lucky enough to have gotten a ticket in time, we’ll see you at their PhilaMOCA show tonight (they open for the very talented <3 MITSKI <3 )
So congrats on your first album, Ugly Cherries, we love it so much!
LIV: Thank you! We had a really good time making it.
Where did you record it?
BEN: We recorded in in New Paltz, New York, which is near Hudson, New York, which is where I was living, with a guy named Chris Daly who made a bunch of great records. He made a record with our friends in Diet Cig and we met him upstate. We didn’t really know if he was a good engineer or not but he was a cool guy that wanted to do our record and he’s like a genius, he’s amazing, he makes like all our merch and stuff, he fixes my guitar, he’s just this incredible, great friend.
LIV: He holds me when I cry. Just kidding, I’ve never cried.
BEN: Liv never cries, he can’t really spare the moisture. But yeah, his wife and I did the album art together.
LIV: PWR BTTM would be dead in the water without him.
So you both went to Bard, did you find a supportive scene there?
LIV: Absolutely, I started playing in the Bard scene in another band. The Bard scene is amazing because there’s two venues that are pretty much entirely run by students and they have the power to book bands outside of the school. So your favorite bands will be coming through the area and they’ll play Bard and you can start a band with your friends and have your first show be opening for a huge band.
BEN: Yeah our second show we opened for Upset and Potty Mouth.
LIV: There was just always people starting bands and doing incredible things. I really miss it actually. Obviously I love the scene here, but sometimes I’ll be on Facebook and see friends who are still there at Bard and seeing what bands they are starting every week and being like, “Ugh I wish I was still able to see those shows!”
What did you study at Bard?
LIV: I, for most of my time at Bard, was a double major in Computer Science and Dance. And then in my last semester after my Computer Science thesis, I had one more class to take and I just didn’t have the room in my schedule, partially because of PWR BTTM, so I ended up dropping the major after finishing my thesis and graduating with a degree just in the Dance Department. Which, it feels weird to say just the dance department because Bard’s dance department is like incredible. I learned so many things just about everything being there.
BEN: (In between bites of blueberry scone) I studied Theater, it was awesome.
We had another question relating to scones: What is your favorite carb?
BEN: Oh my God, the question we love to answer. I’m really, really feeling chocolate croissants right now. I work at a coffee shop and I have to come in to work at 6 AM and the first thing I do is kick that door open and fuck up one of the deliveries.
LIV: I’m really feeling my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. I saw her yesterday and I was thinking about the stuff that she makes. I like everything she makes, but spaghetti and meatballs specifically.
BEN: Liv’s mom throws down.
The CMJ marathon starts today! If you’re as confused as we are about how you’re going to make time for all the great artists this year, consult our list of artists we’re most excited for below. Will we see you there?
Repping Cheeseteaks: The PHILADELPHIA CREW
AMANDA X – Moody post-punk from Siltbreeze Records
Catch their set: Tuesday @ Cameo Gallery, Saturday @ Knitting Factory
& of course, the College Radio Awards! – Among the nominees for Station of the Year, Promoter of the Year and Best Taste in Music liesBest Community Resource.Check out what we’ve recently done for the Philadelphia community here and vote WKDU!
FRIDAY: Beautiful Noise: Documentary screening and Q&A with Nick Chaplin and Simon Scott of Slowdive
I found out about the Velvet Underground in 1985, at some point after PolyGram issued the VU LP of outtakes. I was a teenager in rural Berks County, partying weekends in a backwoods spot my friends called Alaska. “Stephanie Says” made a lot of sense, but it was White Light/White Heat that made my mind split open. The guitars were insane, beyond what I’d thought possible. I’d only recently heard Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising and couldn’t really explain unconventional tunings. I’d only recently read Howl and had a vague inkling of a beat New York that had been. I knew just enough to hear something remarkable in “Sister Ray.” The junkie sailors and the fellatio were interesting, but it was the industrial groan and squeal of the electronic instruments, like some hellish vacuum cleaner sucking at a soul, and the hollowed snap and tumble of the primitivist drums—those were really interesting. And ecstatic.
Everyone always says that everyone who heard the Velvets went on to start their own band. I didn’t. I kept listening to the Velvets. I bought a cheap cassette reissue of their live 1969 double album. That version of “What Goes On” keeps on going on and going on. Lou Reed’s guitar hit a sweet spot among punk rock snarl, avant-garde repetition (a la Steve Reich), and a zoned-out effect I could feel inside my skull. It’s an anti-aesthetic, full of the sort of cultural collisions that fueled Black Arts poetry in Newark that year and the working class anger of the Detroit rock scene—see the Stooges and the MC5. But the Velvets got there first. “Heroin” came out on Verve, most famous as a jazz label, alongside records by Count Basie and Odetta. Lou scored more than junk in Harlem. Those first three Velvets records — I don’t think there’s any better soundtrack to the violence and weirdness of American life, c. 1966 to 1969. Maybe Coltrane or the Mothers of Invention. But the Velvets could do pop and devotional music and gentle balladry and face-melting noise, often on the same LP side. The Velvets made important music. They deserve an A-Z.
Idle Noise with Mike Eidle and Trixie Noyes plays on WKDU every Wednesday from 7-9a.m. This week they will have a Velvet Underground A-Z exploration of artists, covers, and songs related to the band. You can listen on 91.7 fm or at wkdu.org.