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Friday, January 16, 2009

Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: Alland Byallo

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2009 at 5:55 AM

When it comes to great techno, is San Francisco the next Berlin? That's a question bouncing around inside the beat-focused noggin of DJ, producer, and label owner Alland Byallo. Byallo is part of the highly respected [Kontrol] crew, who bring minimal techno and  "avant-house" to places like the Endup on a regular basis. He's hit the decks in Moscow, London, and Berlin and has been invited to such prestigious festivals as Decibel, Lovefest, and Detroit's Electronic Music Festival. He's warmed up the turntables for such heavies as Superpitcher, Trentemoller, and Modeselektor ... but he doesn't just spin other people's records. He releases them on his Nightlife Music label, and creates his own tracks for labels here and abroad. Long story short: dude is busy with the beats, including a show this weekend at the Paradise on Saturday, Jan. 17. More on this techno pro below.  

Name: Alland Byallo

Club night(s): I am a resident of [KONTROL] @ The Endup and the Bureau crew.

Style(s) of music you spin: House, techno and everything in between. From deep and soulful to hard and dark... always with an organic vibe.

Name of a track you can¹t get out of your head: I've been singing the vocal hook of Arnaud Le Texier's "Serendipity" for the last month or two. I woke up with the vocal from Luomo's "Tessio" the other day. "Making Time" by Creation is another one that won't leave the head lately, but I think that's just because I watched Rushmore again recently. Damn fine movie.

How you got your start: I suppose a career in music has always been in the cards for me. I've been a music junkie as long as I can remember. Thanks to mom I played multiple instruments as a youth and became obsessed with collecting music around senior year of high school. I dropped two weeks of pay on a set of decks, mixer, and a crate of old records one day and it was all over. I started playing hard techno, old Drumcode, Tresor, Pornographic, Primate, Pounding Grooves, Zenit. But I really loved house music proper and IDM. All of that and the influence of many talented and musically educated people has brought me to where I'm at today.

What initially sparked your interest in techno specifically? I heard a lot of techno in Jr. High and High School, but I'd say my insatiable thirst for it was spawned mostly while listening to Jeff Mills and Ben Sims DJ sets. The ELM, Droid Behavior, and Futurehouse crews in LA, and the first wave of SF minimal techno producers like Sutekh, Twerk, and Kit Clayton were a great influence on me as well. They were really some of the boldest people doin' the damn thing in the States at the time.

What's something interesting happening in the techno world these days? The resurgence of deep house, and how it's being piped into "minimal" techno. Being a long time admirer of deep house, especially those old dubby, drum-centric b-side inside cuts, I really love to see it back in the spotlight. A lot of people who got lost in "blip bloop scrape woosh" techno these last few years are now rockin' a lot of great deeper, more soulful cuts; even digging a lot more to the early days of house. It's nice to see some of the younger kids getting into that, even if they were negative towards the genre when it wasn't all hype. As long as people are digging it I guess I'm happy.

Can you explain the initial idea behind [Kontrol]? And what's new in 2009 for the club night? Greg Bird, our head promoter, felt there was a lack of representation for minimal techno and "avant-house" in SF. Blasthaus was throwing the best parties but they were too few and far between, and one of the only other events around town was wrapping up their night at the Blasthaus-owned Rx Gallery. So Greg got the night from them and recruited myself, Sammy D, and Brian Walls (a former resident) to keep techno and "minimal" to SF.

I had a short run with a bi-weekly at Wonder Bar in LA a year or two prior to moving here, with which I tried to blend house and what people called "weird German sh*t" in that city, at that time. I was really interested in continuing that idea and things just lined up perfectly when Sammy D called and asked me to be a resident of a new party with no name yet. And here we are today!

We've got some AMAZING talent coming up for 2009. Mike Shannon, Dustin Zahn, Audio Werner, Martin Landsky and, among a lot of other artists I have to keep quiet about for now, something very very special for our 4-year anniversary in June. I always get in trouble for saying too much, so just keep looking for our flyers. We're also working on developing the brand a lot more this year. I'm really excited about 2009!

How has the San Francisco club scene changed over the years you've been involved with it? When I first moved here dance music events were mostly limited to deep and funky house nights and some drum & bass parties. SF house was such a huge thing then, and rightfully so. Since then it seems that things have picked up all around, evolved into new things, and we've become one of the most respected cities in the US for a wide variety of dance music. There's a lot of people even calling SF the new Berlin. Lee Burridge dropped that in a recent interview, and I've heard it from many other guest DJs we've had roll through town.

Production-wise, what are you currently working on? I'm working on a couple of remixes and my first full length album. A local label called Blipswitch has licensed an older track of mine and will be packaging it with amazing remixes. There's a dubstep version, a ridiculously good remix by my good bud Dave Aju, and I'm working on the 2009 rework of the track. There's also a collaboration with Big Bully in the works, and I'm working on some stuff I hope Liebe*Detail will release this year. It's about time I did another record for them!

What's one of the secrets to being a good producer? Learning how to mix down and engineer your music properly makes a world of difference. It's not something I claim to have mastered by any means, nor can most people claim that they have. It's a never ending learning process, but even a mediocre track can turn into something solid if mixed well.

Musical mantra:  I think I can I think I can.

Favorite DJ experience: I'd say the most epic moment in my career as a DJ would be either the Beatport Stage at DEMF 2008 or Panorama Bar in Berlin. But the best times I have DJing are at The Endup. I love to call that place my home.

Worst request: I played a party at the Derby in LA back in the day and there was some industry mixer prior to the event. I had two wonderful requests that night. I was offered $3 if I played some guy's R&B demo for all the industry people to hear. The guy damn near begged me to do it. And an obvious victim of mid-life crisis asked me to play the 8 Mile soundtrack CD in his car if he ran and got it. He made sure I understood that he drove a Range Rover. I've had a few more awesome ones in SF, but those were the most memorable requests.

Most treasured vinyl score: I used to have an original pressing of Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain. I miss that record. It's not the most valuable record ever, but I just treasured it the most. Since my big 8-crate-loss of 2003 I've shied away from buying rare vinyl, but I've been digging around eBay lately. I've got my eye on this old Clifford Brown and Max Roach record at the moment. I think that will be the #1 gem soon. It's pricey, but... well... It's Clifford Brown and Max Roach.

What other music-related projects are you currently working on? I run the Nightlight Music label, and its child, the free download netlabel NLMX. Most of the artists are from SF, but the family grows to include friends worldwide, every month. I will be releasing my album on Nightlight Music, as well as a couple of singles with remixes by artists who have inspired me over the years. I also do a lot of design work for music related efforts... Party fliers, art for record labels, so forth.

Question we didn¹t ask you but  you often ask yourself:  Do I eat at PPQ too often?

Next time we can see you spin: I'm playing this Saturday, the 17th, at Paradise Lounge with my good buddies Frivolous and Safety Scissors. Eats Tapes is playing as well, but we've never met. I love their music and I'm honored to be on the same bill as all of these talents! I'm back at Paradise with Chris Martin on the 30th and then it's [KONTROL] with Mike Shannon and Dustin Zahn on the 7th of February. Taking it a bit easy with gigs while working on the album, but things pop up all the time and I always keep my lil' Myspace calendar up to date.


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Ian S. Port


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