magbo system

Moon and Starfire

After a beautiful night in the desert, getting my trance dance on and howling at the full moon, I’m spending a relaxing Sunday listening to David Starfire’s new album Awakening. It has all the sitar, funky world and hand drum beats that I was hoping for, like in his collaborations with Dub Kirtan Allstars, but this album is definitely a fresh start. Uplifting, intense and climatic with glitch hop and psydub influences, it’s perfect for the current Zeitgeist. I’m also excited to see his set at the next A~Bun~Dance in August.


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Opiuo animorphed Neosignal’s 1000 Volts into a beast! Crisp and powerful with deep bass, punchy rythmic layers and a solid melody to complement the electric guitar.  They also added a hivey buzz and pretty climbing beeps. Break it down at 4 minutes in! Don’t you just love it when a good song is long? I’m really impressed with this piece of music and hope to hear more like it.

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Blendrix Interview

Earlier in January I posted Blendrix’s Rez Your Weapon mashup:

Summer: The Phutureprimitive vs Deadmau5 mashup was an interesting choice, I’m a big supporter of both artists. Any thoughts on Phutureprimitive’s sound?
Blendrix: Before I comment on his sound, I would like to mention that I have tremendous personal and professional respect for Phutureprimitive. He’s one of the greatest producers of our time, but you’d never know it from just talking with him. Hands-down, one of the sweetest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. It seems that a lot of successful musicians really let the fame and accompanying attention get into their heads. They become rude, self-centered, and just generally unpleasant to interact with. Not with this guy. I wish every musician could take a class from him about how to keep it real, because he does exactly that, in every respect.

OK, more to your question: I’m a big fan of Phutureprimitive’s sound. I like to imagine musical style as existing on a 3-dimensional grid with each axis representing a scale between ambient <–> aggressive, melodic <–> dissonant, and organic <–> digital. I feel like Phutureprimitive’s sound falls at 0,0,0 on that grid — which is to say, it’s a perfect balance on all three of those axes. As such, it’s a great point of reference by which to measure my own original productions. I don’t want to make music that sounds exactly like his, but I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t an enormous influence on my sound.

Summer: How do you feel about Deadmau5?

Blendrix: Well, Deadmau5 was one of the first electronic artists whose work got me into DJing and production in the first place, so I gotta give him respect for that. He’s meticulous, passionate, and a brilliant composer. But remember what I said about some musicians letting the fame go to their head, and allowing it to affect the way they interact with the people around them? I don’t know much about what he was like before he got famous — maybe he’s always been a bit on the abrasive side, but Deadmau5 is pretty much the poster boy for everything that I try NOT to be when I’m interacting with fans and other artists. Don’t get me wrong; I think he’s hilarious, and often times, when he’s bitching about this or that, I totally agree with his position on the matter. I even think that to a certain degree, “being a jerk” is part of his persona, like his mau5 head, and that it might be an elaborate play for publicity, which I don’t necessarily have a problem with either.

That being said, I’ll rant about things that rub me the wrong way to my friends and family, but when I’m speaking and acting as Blendrix the artist, I try to keep it positive and uplifting. The world already has more than enough negativity to go around, so I think part of my job is to balance that out. A lot of my music has pretty dark themes, and my upcoming EP focuses specifically on some very heavy topics, but I try not to be a downer. If I’m addressing a serious issue with my music, I try to emphasize the lesson we can learn or the actions we can take to bring about a positive outcome.
Summer: You’re based in Ft. Collins, correct? Did you grow up in Colorado? 
Blendrix: I came to FoCo (one of the local nicknames for this amazing little town) in 2002 when I started attending classes at Colorado State University. When I graduated in the spring of 2007, I couldn’t even imagine trying to find a place that could match the wonderful quality of life and abundance of opportunities for creative expression this town has to offer. So I stuck around, and I’m still here today.No, and I’m actually kind of glad I didn’t. [grow up in Colorado] When I was a kid, my family moved from state to state all over the country every 2-5 years as my dad rose through the ranks at a veritable who’s-who of computer companies. Because of this rapid cycle, I learned how to make friends quickly and gradually mastered the art of blending in (no pun intended) with almost any type of social group. This was in stark contrast to my earlier years, during most of which I was a social misfit. So, it was actually due to the fast pace of change I experienced as a kid that I was finally able to get a grasp on the subtle social cues that separate the awkward kids from the rest. By high school, I’d pretty much overcome that awkwardness and gotten really good at being friends with almost everybody I met. But if I had grown up here, without that series of rapid-fire transplant experiences, I have the feeling that I would not have developed the social skills that are just as essential to success in the music industry as actual talent, in my opinion. My Colorado friends have no memory of me as an awkward, socially clueless kid, and I think I prefer it that way. 
Summer: It seems like a lot of great music comes out of Colorado. I actually feel that the music scene in Colorado is responsible for my falling in love with electronic several years ago. I’ve always been in to house and lounge, but I use to follow Widespread Panic pretty heavily. That’s how I discovered Pretty Lights, also out of Ft. Collins as I’m sure you know, and it took off from there. I’ve been pretty glued to LA for the past couple years, can you tell me what’s going on with the music scene in Colorado now?
Blendrix: Well, as you mentioned, I think Pretty Lights was largely responsible for putting Fort Collins on the electronic music map, and I’m very grateful to him for pursuing his dream with impeccable creative integrity. Never once has he jumped on a bandwagon or promoted negativity in the scene, and I think that his attitudes and behavior have really helped shape Colorado’s scene to a significant degree. We have a TON of insanely talented people in the scene here — many of whom have an extremely diverse set of influences, ranging from rap/hip-hop to pop, rock, metal, reggae, industrial, and of course, other electronic artists. While Colorado may be (sadly) lacking in racial diversity, I think our music scene has done a great job of importing and promoting a lot of the cultural diversity that we might be missing otherwise. We can always use more diversity (bring it on!), but I think we’ve done pretty well with what we have.
My only gripe with the Colorado scene right now is that it’s pretty dominated by a select few promoters and events companies, and that introduces a few potential issues for the scene in the long term. As you may already be aware, Insomniac stopped throwing EDC festivals here when they moved their flagship festival to Las Vegas. Obviously, I think it was a smart move for them, since they get far better attendance there than they were able to muster at their Los Angeles and Denver installations combined, and Vegas has been much more accommodating to them from a regulatory and security standpoint. However, I think Colorado’s scene really benefited from Insomniac’s presence while they were here, because it helped keep the other promoters and events companies in check. They really had to make sure they were delivering top-notch value to their fans in order to maintain their market positions. Competition breeds innovation, and without Insomniac around to keep the locals on their toes, I fear that the local scene may experience stagnation in some regards. Of course, none of this is meant to criticize the locals — they do a fantastic job, and I’ve enjoyed attending many of their events over the years; I just hold a higher degree of allegiance to the scene itself than to any one particular organization, which I think is how every artist and promoter should be if they really want their scene to thrive.
Summer: I really like what you said about being positive and uplifting, that being part of your job as an artist. I think music is a great tool for social change, especially electronic. For example, when we repetitively recite lyrics to a song, essentially, it becomes a mantra. Music is powerful. If any, what kind of social changes would you like to see come from it? 
Blendrix: One of the reasons I got into electronic music was specifically because a lot of it didn’t have lyrics. I feel that a lot of popular music really skates by on the emotional and social tie-ins that its lyrics present to the listener. If you listen to the instrumental versions of a lot of music they play on the radio (which I have done a lot, as part of my mashup process), you’ll find that there’s rarely anything at all remarkable about it. Mostly, it just serves as a formulaic scaffold upon which the artist hangs their message du jour, which is often just as uninspiring as the music itself, but once they’re put together, they hit that lowest common denominator in society, and gain enough popularity that they begin to show up on the charts. Once they get to that point, their popularity shoots through the roof like a rocket, fueled by a high-octane blend of humanity’s greatest psychosocial weaknesses: confirmation bias and herd mentality.
By choosing to forego lyrical content in most of my music, I know that I’m definitely limiting my exposure to the masses, but I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. I think I’d rather have a somewhat smaller fanbase, and know that all of them are really connecting with the emotional content of my music without having to be told what to feel, how to dance, or when to put their hands in the air. This is not to say that I don’t want lyrics in any of my tracks — in fact, my upcoming EP and a separately released single will all feature lyrics. Some of them are just sampled, beat-synchronized sound bites from public figures, and some are actual rap lyrics that were composed, recorded, and arranged specifically for that track. But the difference between the lyrics you find in my tracks and the ones you hear on the radio (with a few notable exceptions) is that I refuse to release music that glorifies hate, violence, ignorance, etc. Of course, I address these issues, and some of the lyrics in my tracks may allude to attitudes and behaviors that I find detrimental, but I try to make sure that the overall message is consistently positive.
As I’ve mentioned a couple times, I have an EP coming out in the next month or so. It’s titled “The Blood-Spangled Banner,” and it’s themed around the cluster of geopolitical scandals and leaks that have popped up in the last couple of years (Snowden, Manning, NSA, etc). With this release, I’m hoping to follow in the creative tradition of bands like Bad Religion, Rage Against The Machine, The Offspring, and others who openly criticize the pillars of authority in society and question their motivations, and in doing so, have inspired a great number of people to begin thinking critically and independently, which I think is one of the most crucial states of mind for the general population of a free society. I don’t use the word “evil” very often because I don’t believe in hard moral absolutes, but I truly believe that a great many evil things are being done in our name all around the world, and that it’s our responsibility as the people whose taxes and donations fund those activities, to get informed, talk about it with everyone we know, and do everything in our power to make a positive change.
Summer: Which is more enjoyable for you on a creative level, making a mashup or an original track?
Blendrix: The creative state of mind is a kind of amorphous cloud, rather than a discrete point in space. My bursts of inspiration seem to come in waves, but the initial wave always seems to hit at random intervals and intensities. Sometimes, it’s overwhelming and irresistible (to the point where I might actually leave a concert right at peak hour and make a beeline for the studio), and other times, it’s almost imperceptible, but if I catch on to it, I can ride it for days. Mashups and remixes almost always come from those white-hot flares of insatiable creative drive, while my original productions are often the product of weeks or sometimes months of careful, methodical tinkering.
Both types of production are immensely enjoyable to me, for different reasons. Originals allow me to fine-tune the music to express the precise emotional message I want to convey, while remixes and mashups are a fantastic tool for increasing my exposure to new fans by cross-pollenating the fanbases of the artists whose work I sample, and connecting with the people whose tastes are a beautiful hybrid of both. It also affords me a critical opportunity to network with the original artists and their management, which I can sometimes parlay into additional bookings, official remix opportunities, and other essential milestones for my budding music career. Finally, I find that actively participating in both types of production gives me enough creative flexibility that I can avoid a lot of the dreaded encounters with writer’s block that plague so many producers. It’s definitely still a concern, and it certainly still happens from time to time, but it’s never pervasive enough to make me think of giving up on producing.
Summer: I’d like to know about your creative process. When making a mashup, do you first take into consideration what your audience’s opinions of a track might be, or do you strictly go with personal inspiration? 
Blendrix: Part of the beauty of my organically-grown fanbase is that I haven’t really had to consider what my fans may or may not like — by staying true to myself, spreading my music through word of mouth, and avoiding negativity, I think I’ve accumulated a following that knows and trusts my tastes. Sure, my music has evolved over time, and it’s not likely to stop evolving any time soon. But my fans are not static objects, either. They’re intelligent, adaptable, and open-minded, and even if I choose to release a track that strays stylistically from my existing catalogue, my fans tend to give me the benefit of the doubt. Even if it’s not exactly what they want to hear right then, they still support my efforts, and remain strapped into their seats, bracing for the next hairpin turn or cataclysmic drop-off. I’ve even had a few fans mention to me that they weren’t sure about a particular mashup at first, but after giving it a listen, decided that it was much better than they could have predicted. So, I guess, even though it might sound a little conceited if taken out of context, I don’t worry too much about what my fans might think, because I trust them to be open-minded and patient with me, just as they trust me to stay true to my roots while I take them on a journey through strange, uncharted territory, en route to those deeper depths and higher heights that they crave so desperately.
Summer: I’ve always been a dire straits fan, Sultans of swing is my favorite what prompted you to use one of theirs for your mashup? 
Blendrix: I’m definitely a huge fan of Sultans of Swing as well. I may have to figure out a way to remix that one too at some point. I first fell in love with the Money for Nothing riff during my adolescent years, when I spent a LOT of time listening to Weird Al Yankovic. Interestingly enough, he took the lyrics from the Beverly Hillbillies theme, and sang them to the tune and cadence of Money for Nothing, resulting in quite possibly my first introduction to the mashup genre, though I don’t think anyone had even thought to call it that yet.
Fast-forward to the Present…
My process with creating mashups is totally spontaneous and kinda bizarre. It all starts when I get into a funky state of mind that I don’t really know how to describe other than to call it “harmonic hyperconnectivity.” These states tend to hit when I’m pushing my mental & physical limits by powering through moderate sleep deprivation and the accompanying fatigue in effort to squeeze every ounce of value from my time as humanly possible. When it hits me, it’s like that movie “Limitless” with Bradley Cooper. It feels like a million floodlights switch on at once, and I can suddenly see the interconnectedness of everything in microscopic detail. If I happen to be listening to music at the time, my brain instantly starts assembling hundreds of compatible melodies and harmonies at once, overlaying them with the song I’m hearing. Invariably, one or more of these compatible sequences strikes me as familiar in some way, and sure enough, it’s usually the hook from a different tune.
I happened to be in one of these states when I first listened to Catwalk Swag by Stereoglyph. Within seconds, I began hearing the Money for Nothing guitar riff in my head, playing along with the music streaming into my ears. I already had the Money for Nothing studio multitrack recordings stashed on my hard drive for just such an occasion, so between the moment when the inspiration struck and the final product getting uploaded on SoundCloud, I think only a handful of hours passed, and it felt like even less time than that.
I bet Sultans of Swing would probably be harder to mash… Rad! Limitless is one of my top favorite movies. Such an awesome experience you’ve described, inspiring! I look forward to hearing the new ep. Thank you! 
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Striped space horses

Cosmic Zebra… now that’s a name that’s absolutely going to entice me to check out their biznassss.  So glad I did!  Two young brothers, Diego and Alan from Mexico make up this sweet zebra duo (I think it’s so sweet when family members work on shit together!) I love how they combined grimy sounds with piano notes and chipper vocals.

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