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Behind the Beat

Friday, September 10, 2010

Behind the Beat: Exclusive Birds & Batteries MP3 and Video Premiere

Posted By on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 at 1:55 PM

Birds & Batteries - KRISTOPHER HANNUM
  • Kristopher Hannum
  • Birds & Batteries
Birds & Batteries is one of the few local bands that's pretty difficult to pin down. It's not garage rock, it's not synth-pop, it's not dance music, it's not lo-fi, it's not chillwave, and it's definitely not any strand of hip-hop. So what does the four-piece outfit sound like? Well, in some respects, the San Francisco quartet is a complete amalgamation of all of those sounds. As heard on their last EP, Up to No Good, Birds & Batteries is a band that translates a large sum of contemporary sounds into its own kind of -- as founder and lead singer Mike Sempert puts it -- "classic rock sound."

Now, Birds & Batteries is about to release a new full-length record, entitled Panorama. We were lucky enough to host this premiere of the album cut "Some Hypnotic Flash," as well as a "digital collage" that Sempert made, incorporating parts of his bands' last EP and the upcoming album. You can check out that stuff, along with an interesting Q&A we did with Birds & Batteries' frontman, after the jump.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Behind the Beat with Relentless

Posted By on Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 12:23 PM

  • Relentless
Relentless is a name I've seen around the local San Francisco electronic music scene for a long time, but I never took the time to get to know the duo's music or backstory. I've come to find out that the tale behind Ian Buzz's and Austin Heap's musical collaboration is as classic as they come: They're old friends. Their relationship appears to work well for Relentless, as they've been hard at work crafting smooth, soulful dance tunes for over four years -- spending part of that time working on their own label, as well.

Recently, Buzz and Heap released a brand-new remix EP for a single with vocalist Adrianne Nigg, entitled "The City Loves You," on UK house label Axis Trax. The duo invited me to check out their new tune and its accompanying remixes, which prompted me to ask the fellas a handful of questions about their production outfit, record label, and new EP. Check out what they had to say, and stream The City Loves You EP, below.

For folks less familiar with Relentless, could you give us a brief background of our group (i.e. how you met, what inspired the group, what you've accomplished thus far, etc.)?

Ian: We went to high school together, and later ended up going to schools in the same city, Boston.
Austin: We're both musically inclined, so we figured, why not get [to] writing? Soon, we started getting serious interest regarding our work, and released tracks on independent labels in Italy, Germany, and USA.

What inspires the music you guys create?

A: Our inspirations span everything form the classic sets laid down by Oakenfold in Havana, Cuba, to the new naughtiness from Deadmau5's Essential Mix.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

BT Magnum's Advice: 'Do Loads of Drugs and Have as Much Sex as Possible'

Posted By on Thu, Jul 15, 2010 at 3:41 PM

BT Magnum
  • BT Magnum
The man behind the excellent events curated at our city's (arguably) best dance venue, Mezzanine, and the Internet's go-to blog for old-school dance jams is one Brian Tarney. Party goers and vintage-tune seekers may know him better as BT Magnum, Tarney's alter-ego, who runs about S.F. DJing some of the best classic house, disco, and boogie parties, and writes regularly for Beat Electric. BT is a veritable vault of knowledge when it comes to the smooth grooves and stellar tracks of the '80s, but he also continues to keep a finger on the pulse of contemporary music that's inspired by those same sounds.

We had a quick chat with Tarney before his party this Friday at Beauty Bar with Portland dance outfits Soft Metals and Starlight & Magic, both of which will be performing live. BT Magnum gave us his list of top 10 favorite tracks to put in a DJ set, a brief history of his blog, and the two things any aspiring movers and shakers need to succeed.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Behind the Beat with Shane King and Eric Kozak

Posted By on Fri, Jul 2, 2010 at 1:18 PM

L to R: Shane King and Eric Kozak
  • L to R: Shane King and Eric Kozak

Aside from the fact that Shane King and Eric Kozak (of White Girl Lust) have been around San Francisco for ages DJing, promoting parties, and just being general badasses, they need little introduction because it's all within this special double-helping interview for Behind the Beat. The two have convened on a new endeavor of joint event planning, which will jump off tonight at Mezzanine, and put together a joint mix to get you stoked on the occasion. We've included the collaborative DJ set, along with the length interview, below.

Let's start with introductions. Tell us who you are, and what exactly it is that you do around SF.

Eric of WGL: White Girl Lust is firstly a duo (myself and Clayton) of producers, secondly DJs, and thirdly label owners and managers of Solid Bump Records. Basically, we make and cultivate good dance music that is usually house vibes with a really memorable sound. Our label has been coined the "go-to for disco house," although in the coming months we hope to show we're not ones to get stuck in one sound. Basically, we strive to make dance records you can put on 10 years from now and still enjoy. That is something that is rare in this "turn-and-burn" blog mentality of the last five years.

Shane King: I DJ and operate a promotions company called Hacksaw Entertainment with George Sylvain. We try and bring out interesting electronic music to SF whenever possible. The sort of acts we've worked with in the past year have been as varied as Chromeo, Neon Indian, Jack Beats, Dam-Funk, and Buraka Som Sistema. to name a few. Our intention has been to create as memorable an experience for everyone involved as possible--from the audience, to the act, to the venue.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tussle's Nathan Burazer Says the Band's Music is Like a Spider Goat

Posted By on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 3:28 PM

  • Winni Wintermeyer
As one of the founding members of San Francisco's krauty, dubby, polyrhythm-toting Tussle, Nathan Burazer has seen his fair share of musical trends and scenes come and go. And while the expansive instrumental jams his band has continued to write for almost a decade have never been touted as "über-hip," there has always been something inherently cool about Tussle's steady footing within its vintage style. Many acts may claim to be influenced by Can, Neu, Liquid Liquid, or other such artists, but this now-three-piece act is more or less a reincarnation of those bands.

Before taking off for some European tour dates, Tussle is playing a show tonight at Milk Bar in the Upper Haight. Behind the Beat asked Burazer if he wouldn't mind answering a few questions before his performance tonight, and he was kind enough to consent. Unexpectedly, he let loose with many secrets, including which Glaswegian producer will be helping to record and mix Tussle's new album, the origins of the mysterious "Spider Goat," and which of his bandmates is most likely to break your heart.

If you could compare Tussle's music to any animal, which would it be and why?

The Spider Goat is a natural, yet unnatural experiment, like Tussle. The spider gene was mixed with the egg of the goat, and the lamb born of it -- when grown to an adult goat -- produces milk from which spider's silk is produced. The milk is produced to create an amazingly strong silk fabric. The fabric is called "bio-steel" because it's five times stronger than steel.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bobby Browser Pays Respect to the Past, Doesn't Like Dubstep

Posted By on Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 1:49 PM


If one thing can be said about producer Bobby Browser (the stage moniker for Andre Ferriera), it's that he knows his dance music history. The statement is somewhat obvious if you've had the pleasure of hearing his vintage-sounding, classic-house-inspired tracks. And when Behind the Beat had the chance to do a quick interview with the prolific beat maker, Ferriera rattled off not only iconic names from dance music history, but the years and locales where it all went down. His is a rare wealth of knowledge compared to most of the names and faces in today's over-saturated DJ/producer scene, so we'd like to stress that interested readers should take notes.

In other parts of the interview, Bobby Browser explained his background in music, what his involvement with the Partyeffects crew is all about, and why he could do without all of the "over-produced" music coming out lately. It's certainly one of the more informative and interesting interviews we've had so far. Make sure to check out his long list of upcoming live shows at the end of the piece, as well.

Describe your music in three words.

Simple, pumping, and respectful.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Sugar & Gold Talk Favorite Music, Touring Horrors, and Their Trippy 'Salty Seraphim' Video

Posted By on Fri, Jun 11, 2010 at 12:54 PM


Since before 2007, Sugar & Gold has remained one of my all-time favorite bands in San Francisco. Not only does the funky quintet know how to write and perform amazing dance grooves and unforgettable pop hooks, but within everything they do lies an inherent sense of fun and devil-may-care attitude that is quintessentially SF. Sugar & Gold has proved itself resilient to dance music trends coming and going, has held fast in the wavering music biz climate, and -- the hardest part for all bands -- has stood the test of time. It's recorded two wonderful albums and toured the world, both alone and with major acts like Of Montreal.

Now, after the release of their latest album, Get Wet!, the five band members are coming home. This Saturday (June 12) at The Uptown in Oakland, Sugar & Gold will return to the loving embrace of their friends and fans after a lengthy North American tour. Before that party, Behind the Beat had a short conversation with one of S&G's masterminds, Nicolas Dobbratz (pictured, third from left). Via email from New Mexico, he let us in on the different incarnations his band has taken since its inception, what tunes have been pumping up the Sugar & Gold tour van, and what he plans on doing the moment he returns from being on tour.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Behind the Beat w/ Tempo No Tempo

Posted By on Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 12:32 PM


When I got an email from Tyler McCauley, lead vocalist and guitarist for San Francisco's Afro-tinged post-punk outfit Tempo No Tempo, that his band was breaking up, my heart sank a little bit. When I discovered the band prior to the release of its debut full-length album, Waking Heat, I thought I had died and been reborn into the early-'90s D.C. punk/hardcore scene. The trio so fully encapsulated the style and tenacity of the era, and managed to even introduce new takes on the tried-and-true sound.

Following up on McCauley's email, I asked if we could have a brief chat about his band before he went on to play his final show, this Friday, June 4 at The Rickshaw Stop. Below you'll find the transcript of our conversation in all of its unedited, web-based glory. Tempo No Tempo's mark on the San Francisco music scene will be missed, but hopefully this band's demise will bring forth more great music from its members.

Sad to hear this! Maybe we could do a short interview or something for SF Weekly to help spread the word on this show? Let me know if you're open to that.

totally! we'll figure out a time once our bassist is back from his trip up the coast.

Good good. Let me know.

Did you want to do this face-to-face, or via email?

Since it's just a bit easier with our hectic schedules, let's do a string of email convos. I'll start with a couple questions, and we'll go from there. Cool?

Yea dude, fire away!

Cool! Let's just start with the basic stuff. How long has Tempo No Tempo been together, and why are you now breaking up?

Tempo No Tempo was together for 5 years, in various formations. We've spent the last year as a trio after our keyboardist Chris left for law school. We're breaking up because our bassist Jason is off to pursue higher education, and we feel it'd be wrong to find a replacement, so instead we're celebrating the end of the band and trying out new projects.

What are the new projects you'll be exploring?

Alex, our drummer, is playing with Magic Bullets, one of our favorite SF bands, and I'm moving to Brooklyn to start something good and noisy. We were lucky enough to tour and play with some great New York bands, and I'm really excited to go and play with people out there. Jason will be exploring graduate school.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Behind the Beat w/ Kush Arora

Posted By on Thu, May 27, 2010 at 11:57 AM


Local dubstep/bass music producer Kush Arora has long had his eyes and ears set far from standard American music. Throughout the four-plus years Kush has been crafting his eclectic tunes, he has kept a strong focus on the international styles and instruments from such locales as Jamaica, Africa, and India, which slowly came to define his sound. Now, with his latest musical offering, the Voodoo Sessions EP, Kush Arora readies to perform his low end-dedicated dance tunes at the Surya Dub Three-Year Anniversary party this Saturday, May 29 at Club Six.

We did a short interview beforehand to get a bit more insight on the producer's background and style. Kush told us a bit about what he uses to make his music, the lengths he's gone to procure a rare instrument, and the beef he has with the typical club scene as of late.

How would you describe your music to someone completely unfamiliar with the current dubstep/tropical scene?

It's dancehall and bass music-influenced beats that kind of fuck and fight with each other, and land in a weird place between SF, Jamaica, London, and India. It's definitely danceable, but often cinematic and linear in its progression. Half the time, I work with reggae MCs, and the rest is solo electronics.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Behind the Beat w/ Lokae (Daly City Records)

Posted By on Thu, May 13, 2010 at 8:11 AM


San Francisco's Lokae is a surprisingly humble beat maker for an artist whose productions sound so fully developed and delicately orchestrated. The producer otherwise known as Ian Luo just finished work on his debut record for Daly City Records: a four-song EP six years in the making, titled City Lights. Luo is celebrating his first release this Friday, May 14 at The Blue Macaw along with Mochipet, Ben Samples, Freddy Todd, and more. Before that party goes down, Behind the Beat had a little e-chat with Lokae. He told us a bit about how he makes his tunes, what guests you'll hear on his EP, and where he gets his "vocoded unicorn mating calls" from.

What well-known phrase best identifies your music?

"Intricate yet accessible." I know that's not a well-known phrase, but I'm a musician, not a writer. I love artists who can make tracks that are fun, catchy, or driving, yet contain lots of depth under the surface when you truly listen in. Music like this can connect with a lot of people. That's the target I strive for.

What usually inspires you to create a new track?

Inspiration comes from anywhere! It can be a certain mood or emotion, exploring intellectual ideas, hearing other talented musicians, or simply trying out new sounds on a drum machine or synth. From there, it's [about] finding elements that really stick out and motivate you to finish the song.

What kind of a setup do you have in your studio?

I recently picked up a locally produced, bio-diesel powered robot that outputs vocoded unicorn mating calls. This is automated by a magical Buddhist cat that followed me home from a garage sale in the Mission. The setup is still a little bit janky, so for the time being I use Ableton Live and Apple Logic with various software instruments.

You use a lot of great synth sounds in your tracks. What are some of your favorite synths/patches to use?

A lot of people I know use Native Instruments synths, and I'm no different. Sometimes I'll build a sound from scratch, but often it's modifying existing patches or hacking them with effects. Another cool thing about Ableton Live, though: it's easy to drop in any sound and turn it into an instrument. On "Priceless," I managed to create a choral-style instrument using four mangled copies of a commercial Top 40 tune!

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