DJ/Producer Goldroom is giving up the tables and transforming his tropical funk psychedelia project into a live band, debuting early 2013.
Josh Legg (aka Goldroom), is a coastal Massachusetts native residing in Los Angeles for the last several years. Just a few years into his solo project he’s already received stern attention from artists including Aeroplane, Gigamesh, and The Disco Biscuits. In 2008 he formed his own label Binary with partner Kyle Peterson, conquering feats in producing, managing, and performing dynamic beats. In recent months he’s received recognition as a promising new DJ from magazines/media organizations like Gotta Dance Dirty and Fader. His cool confidence transposes into his work beautifully, and negates any doubts you might have about the potential in this scene. This has surely been a prolific year for the 80’s electronica comeback. The rapid influx of emerging artists and DJ’s can be overwhelming but it constantly changes the standards. What resulted is a once thought simple, outdated genre, has branched into a plethora of dynamic subgenres and styles that you can’t imagine until they’re right in front of your face.
Goldroom is like a musical interpretation of the dreamy sequences in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey mixed with the synth-pop vibe of 80’s disco. The solemn melodies in his song “Pacific” could have easily been placed in the score of any John Hughes film. He has a tendency to experiment with cosmic synth-heavy segments over walking funky bass-lines that are comparable to Ichisan, but with a Southern California touch. Unlike the more house oriented variety of retro-electronica exploding in LA right now, his beats carry a smoother tropical groove. Somehow Legg ventured beyond the limitations of island style disco and breached into a psychedelic plane. Rather than just diving into the science of intricate dance patterns and beat-making, he pieces together a world where you can simultaneously get lost in its perpetual rhythm and painted dreamscapes.
Recently, Legg has expressed multiple times his longing to go back to playing music on live instruments. Formation of the live band has been in the works since January last year. He was part of a Los Angeles synth-pop trio called Nightwaves before going solo, and his musical background is an important precursor to the immense potential of this upcoming live act. In this case, the music may have an even more powerful effect translated live than in the studio. Playing his songs live will leave more opportunity for improvisation, passionate peaks, and most importantly the musicians in their most raw state of creativity. The incorporation of traditional samples in his tracks like guitar licks, steel drums, and bass lines already present a live element with his style. By staying away from over using unnecessary samples and obnoxious beat patterns and mash-ups, his sound always remains smooth. Electronic methods of producing music (reason, ableton, logic, etc) open up a door to infinite sounds and possibilities, but that doesn’t mean that EDM has to be restricted to DJing. Goldroom believes in that ideal and is taking it further than anyone else, and because of this he’s an independent visionary.
As of now he possesses an impressive stage presence as a DJ. All the radio mixes he releases are both cosmically radiant and fun and clever. His closing set at Pacific Festival in Orange County was remarkable, not a single dull moment. The meticulous manner in which he orchestrates his music is a little exciting to be honest for this day in age. His tracks are engineered in a studio that would make James Murphy proud, writing all the music using drum machines, analog synthesizers, guitar, bass, and percussion himself. The digital productions are minimal and done on Logic, and he only uses Abletonlive to record the DJ mixes, not performances. In all it’s rare glory, “DJ” who makes music for the sake of music
With the experience and momentum that Goldroom is moving forward with we predict a tight, crisp live presentation of his compositions. Right in the beginning of relatively initial success as a DJ he’s onto the next move, hungry to expand. Collectively his originals(excluding remixes) don’t even make up an hour of music right now, so this could mean they’re composing songs exclusively for the band. More artists should take steps like this, not dropping the turntables, but taking risks and pushing the envelope. Too many up and comers are assimilating to rising trends in the electronic industry, due to an almost unanimous public demand for it in recent years. Fear not, hope for musical ingenuity in an era of seldom artistic progression is still alive ladies and gentlemen.
Goldroom will be debuting his full live band at Dim Mak Studios on February 26, 2013.
Once again DFA Records has found itself in the streets of Hollywood. Pat Mahoney, co-founder and drummer of LCD Soundsystem, and The Juan MacLean performed at Dim Mak Studios last night with support from Urulu, Dirty Dave, and club resident Bones.
For those not familiar, DFA Records is a Brooklyn based label co-founded by LCD frontman James Murphy, and is known for signing some of the most elite underground indie and disco artists today. John MacLean, the brains of former live band gone solo act The Juan MacLean, has earned a great deal of respect among fellow DJ’s, becoming one of the most acclaimed names in vinyl spinners. Aside from an unmistakable niche on the turntables, his role as a producer may even supersede that. Colleague and friend Nancy Whang collaborated with John on the hit “Happy House“, which had a large effect on his chart presence at the time. His single “Feels So Good” (a serious heater) remains a frequently circulated classic across the globe, and one of our Top 20 originals in the 2000-2010 decade. In addition to the entries in his discography, he is responsible for producing a substantial amount of tracks for fellow artists on the label. Truly his own brand of DJ, his taste for vintage funk and disco and energetic live mixing are key factors in making him one of the most entertaining electronic acts one can see in a live setting.
The attendance at Dim Mak was particularly small for an ages 18+ electronic show, which was interesting when considering the turn out for past DFA oriented events in the area (however it was a little depressing when thinking of how well the TRAP shows out here do). Fortunately this didn’t affect our headliner’s performance any and they proceeded very accordingly with unexpected intimacy. Dirty Dave surprisingly played a fairly decent set and completed his task as an opener with more grace than most. He switched over to The Juan MacLean around 11pm, who opened up with Penguin Prison’s Multi-Millionaire (Pete Herbert Club Mix), immediately setting the tone for what’s to come.
What followed was pleasantly intense. Right after the introductory segue I could tell something different was going to happen. The set’s atmosphere was rich in deep/tech house, descending into perpetual notes of disco grooves as a base. A lot of the tracks featured a strong focus on female vocals, something trademarked in his own original productions and past DJ sets. Although it was the most house music I have seen either him or Pat Mahoney play, especially with the tasteful disco both perform adamantly and which the record label is predominately founded upon, Juan played all the right sounds and with all the right class a DFA superstar would.
I would attribute the content of the set to the location; being in Hollywood and playing in Steve Aoki’s spot, I can see where the house would be appropriate. Contrary to any assumption that MacLean is just another mass produced stage puppet for taking this change in direction live, the track selection was choice. If he was in fact trying to adapt to the setting, far away from his underground empire of New York, he only did so in a small amount. This was no dime-a-dozen Los Angeles house gig. The tracks had a minuscule line between disco and club music genres and always held a hometown funk rhythm to fluently guide them. Although Juan strayed from a vintage 70’s selection and veered into more extrinsic beats, it was still executed in classic form. We’re suckers for a properly filtered blend of disco mixed with early millennia club-house, and when you pit those characteristics with someone with as much experience on the decks as The Juan, the payoff is explosive.
Indeed the show was different from anything I’ve heard either of the two do in the past, but at the same time it wasn’t, and this is because of the level of expertise they possess. They could spin anything and their signatures will still radiate through the speakers. All that Pat and MacLean did last night was took their Brooklyn style confidence and applied it to old school house grooves and beat patterns, and that accents LA. The quality that puts these veterans in a different class is that they treat the turntables as a true instrument and tool for bringing lost and forgotten tracks back on the public’s radar. DFA Records is just the dose of class the streets of Hollywood need to get these kids free from the restraints of the overplayed and overly mundane sounds of Hardwell or Skrillex that the City of Angels embraces so fully.
The Juan MacLean DJ set at Dim Mak Studios 7/10
Were back at Dim Mak Studios this week for performances by Justin Miller, Yacht, and Sneaky Sound System of DFA’s record label. DFA has long cast a shadow over New York’s underground disco scene, and tonight Hollywood got much needed look into their talents. Justin Miller has been tearing it up with the record label for some time now, but recently left to pursue his own interests and create his own label. The New York resident took the stage for an hour and forty minute set this past Tuesday.
Definitely taking a new direction with his music since the departure from DFA. Miller has cast aside the disco soaked mixing and taken on much more minimalistic attitude with the turntables. The set started out slow, although down tempo, his transistions were virtually flawless. Abundant in saturated bass lines, evolving slowly over very dark synths and decending pad. The rythms were so simple, yet meticulously calculated, and the drops form in blitzkriegs, with an almost gentle but heavy execution. What I love about Minimal Techno is that you think your in a place so for so long time until suddenly you realize your somewhere else completely. This crafted genre of calculated progression accents Justin’s expertise in turntablism perfectly. The mood of the mix had so much depth, but never lacked in intensity. Steady space travel indeed. Can you say “Miller-mal”?
Still, the track selection had a vintage flow. You could tell he worked with former colleagues James Murphy and Juan MacLean for some time. The years he’s spent on club floors were very present on stage Tuesday, even to one not familiar with his work. I suspected he couldn’t stray from his roots for too long and he finished the last thirty minutes of his set with a small array of disco floor fillers.
Despite the lacking disco nostalgia I had hoped for, I was pleasantly ambushed by his talent in the minimal niche. There were some undoubtedly dull moments in the set he laid down, but the potential in this direction is limitless, and I hope to see him persevere. I would not be surprised to see him succeed with this, and playing the streets of New York alongside Simian Mobile Disco someday.
Dim Mak Studios presented its weekly dance party tradition “Dim Mak Tuesdays” last night, this time with French Express Label throwing a one night disco marathon of back to back performances from Moon Boots, Perseus, Amtrac, and special guest Penguin Prison! Chris Glover, aka Penguin Prison, has formed quite a large following in the New York disco scene, and this week he spent the last few days leaving his mark in Hollywood.
The set opened with Dim Mak’s resident Bones, followed by Amtrac’s low-key, soul/house mixing, which segued into our man of the hour. Glover opened his set with a transition from Amtrac’s belittled closer into The Magician’s club heater “I Don’t Know What To Do, ft. Jeppe (Erkka Remix)”. He followed with his own collaboration, RAC’s “Hollywood (ft Penguin Prison)”, where he provided live vocals for his section. Typically I’m apprehensive to an act of this nature, MC’s have a stale and tacky attitude that interrupts the listening experience, but Glover has an advantage with his amazing voice, it just added a touch of organic charisma to the performance. Although predominately touring with his band, he can definitely hold it together behind the tables. His cuts were precise and the queues well executed. The set was a great mix of contemporary nu-disco chart hits and that Brooklyn DFA disco sound, rich in his heritage. The actual components of the DJ sets were short of revolutionary, basic Pioneer mixers and CDJ software shared by all the artists performing, but because Glover spins tracks that he can proudly stand behind as a producer, he has a lot more integrity than that of your typical resident jockey. At first the crowd was a frail, sparse gathering of teenagers spread across the club’s vast dance floor, cluelessly watching the resident and Amtrac until just before 11:00, when it evolved into a wall-to-wall assembly of Penguin partiers with their game faces on. His closing “I Wanna Be Your Lover” by the influential predecessor Prince, in which he also did a stellar vocal accompaniment to, threw the crowd into fifth gear. The night was far from culmination, Moon Boots and Perseus were basically given the crowd on a silver platter and they kept Dim Mak’s disco ball shining far beyond his Manhattan stylings.
When considering the turntable’s widespread assimilation into almost every establishment in the world that provides live entertainment, it’s essential to maintain intrinsic creativity and use the technology to exploit original ideas, not the ideas of others. Otherwise you’re just a device used for stimulation. Penguin Prison is a true artist in both the production and live performance aspects. He constantly devotes his time to the studio, and adamantly manifests those creations live. After the performance, I caught up with Chris for a brief interview:
T & A: Which do you prefer more, performing with your band, or doing DJ sets?
Chris: Definitely band. I mean, they’re two different things really. I’m trying to incorporate a live element in my DJ sets, singing while I spin, showing fans a good time.
T & A: Do you change up your sets from show to show on tour?
Chris: Yeah, I never know what I’m going to do. I don’t know, I guess I’m trying to do new things with my set everytime.
T & A: Do you improvise the sets or mixes at all?
Chris: Certain songs I like to play. I want to play my own songs, fans like to hear my tracks, so I try to show them that
T & A: Alex Frankel of Holy Ghost did some of the synths on your latest album, do you have a relationship with James Murphy or DFA as well? Have you ever considerd signing to the label?
Chris: Well I know some DFA artists, I’ve spent time in the studio with DFA artists. I have a lot influence from those guys. Downtown records is my label now, we’ve got artists like Major Lazer, Gnarley Barkley, Santigold, the labels good for the music I’m trying to make.
T & A: I know you’re really into playing the guitar, what kind of guitar do you prefer?
Chris: Fender Stratocaster. I’ve tried others, but I like the strat the best.
T & A: What made you stick with the disco-pop/electronic style? You’re style has ranged from punk to hip-hop over the years, and now this.
Chris: I think what I’m doing now fits my voice well. Talking Heads, Prince, Michael Jackson are all influences. I’m trying to give a modern take on them.
Penguin Prison will headed home for a DJ set September 12th in New York, and back here in L.A. early October for Filter’s Future Collide Festival. Self-titled album is out now, and be sure to check out Dim Mak on Tuesday nights! 1643 Cosmo st Hollywood, CA