Deadlift (AKA Bonka)
Meditation is one thing that helps me transcend my environment. Nowadays, I’ll usually do it silently, perhaps soundtracked by a welcome spontaneous jam session from some birds doing their thing and the big tree right in front of my window rustling its leaves. As for organised sounds, I have fond memories of ingesting some psilocybin alone in my apartment and blissing out to Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s ‘Tides: Music for Meditation and Yoga.’ “Tides IV” in particular really did it for me that time…haha… Otherwise, there’s so much pop music that makes me feel transcendent. Lana Del Rey, for example, in addition to my own secret pop songs I wrote and sang myself .
Deadlift’s debut EP (released under her Bonka alias) shows off the Canadian DJ/Producer’s killer rhythmic instincts, not unlike the 6-8pm open air set she dropped at Berlin’s Room 4 Resistance, featured in Will Soer’s ‘City Hues’ Deep Cuts contribution.
Them Changes is a song that, no matter where I am, takes me to a place of just pure soulfulness and clarity. It always fills a room up with joy and pure funk and helps me escape and float to a different atmosphere. It calms me at the same time, cos the song goes on this incredible journey through the bass groove to the harmonies in the bridge, which are reminiscent of the Beach Boys. I just get completely lost in it from start to finish.
Ruthanne has written hit records for Britney Spears, Professor Green, Tiesto, Niall Horan, you name it. She recently moved back from LA, started setting up her own solo career, and scored a number 1 hit in her native Ireland.
As the opening track to Hercules & Love Affair self-titled debut album, Time Will was the track that introduced me and many others to the ever-changing group which has included creative forces such as Kim Ann Foxman, Anohni, and Nomi Ruiz to name but a few. On discovery of their music I was in a place that did not work for me, the feelings of un-belonging seemingly insurmountable. They provided me with a sound that was unrelated to anything around me, and although over time it became a part of my environment, it was never ‘of’ it. The creamy vocals and surreal synths eluding to something so nearly within ones grasp, yet hopelessly out of reach, each note climbing atop the previous ones taking you higher than you thought possible, before returning you once again to solid ground.
I live a semi-nomadic life; it’s been this way for over a year now. Most mornings I pack my belongings back into four bags, buckle them up to my bicycle before spending the day exploring somewhere new. The evenings are spent searching for a spot to camp, and the nights, well, they’re all mine. This may all sound slightly far-fetched, and writing it all down now, I would certainly agree with you. Besides the bizarre premise of living on a bike, the all-important product of this strange lifestyle is that I don’t have many nights out. When I do, I have plenty of time to relive them during my countless hours on the saddle. Plenty of time to deconstruct the night – to delve deeper – plenty of time to get lost once again in the music.
If dance music formed my staple diet before setting off, then losing myself in the pounding rhythms of a dark Bristolian warehouse was definitely my bread and butter. Despite this now being more than a few pedal strokes behind me, it was this vibe I chased, as I rode across Munich amidst a particularly icy January night. Lured by the prospect of hearing the city’s finest techno directly from the pulsing heart of its underground venue – Blitz – I hadn’t thought twice about heading out solo too see the young gun warming up the turntables. An integral part of the local techno label, Illian Tape, Skee Mask has been blazing a unique trail over the past 5 years releasing on the Zenker Brothers’ imprint. At a time when 4/4 techno can sometimes feel stagnant, his intelligent broken beat cuts have been consistently blowing me away.
Closing in on the club, I was psyching myself up, listening to ‘Cyclo’ from his first EP whilst cycling along the empty streets. The crackling drums making way for a cavernous snare sound that punches out above a solid sub bass – refusing to let you sit still. It sounded like the work of a veteran producer, not a 19-year-old kid. Moreover, the entire EP was stacked with a cohesive flow of tracks and recorded live sessions. As I began my inevitable descent into the Skee Mask Discography wormhole, I was seriously impressed with the quality and variety of his output.
I could hardly believe my luck then, when my weekend of arrival coincided with his turn to grace the turntables on home turf.
Although Blitz has been dubbed by some as Munich’s answer to Berlin, I was prudent to turn up at midnight; deciding that attempting a 2PM Sunday afternoon Panorama Bar boogie would likely lead me to enter the actual museum Blitz is built into. After having my phone camera stickered, I was immediately immersed in what I came for. Swathes of light chords washed across the darkened dance floor whilst punchy kicks kept the bodies moving as the night built. I was home.
The universal nature of dance music combined with anonymity of a dark warehouse made for a truly welcoming atmosphere for this solo dancer. This was epitomised by a particularly warming moment, when a sea of contagious smiles broke out as the dancefloor rose up in joy at the dropping of ‘Fjorward Flex Dub’. The upbeat toms pushing both us dancers and night onto the next level. It was a masterful display of warm up DJing, a skill so often overlooked, that expressed true versatility in record selection that guided us on to the main event – Berlin’s Answer Code Request. After a delightful unleashing of some of his heavier cuts (likely unreleased tracks from his at-that-time-unreleased album, Compro) the night was only going to be a success.
Since that night I have been slowly cycling across continents, weaving my way across Europe, central Asia, India and now looping round South East Asia. A couple of weeks ago I received a notification to ‘look back at photos’ from that day. The sounds still seemingly fresh in my mind, I duly reloaded those early EP’s and pressed play. It’s been over a year now since that night, those icy cold hours in the saddle now replaced by a searing Cambodian heat. Yet, as I make my way across the country’s arid central plains, those scatty broken beats and driving bass tones transport me back to that darkened room. That mass of excited bodies that was my night at Blitz. It will likely be a long time before I experience a night like that again, but the sensations feel so fresh as I eagerly consume each new press from the Munich artist, I’ll keep happily keep on cycling until it does.
This song is a special one that brings back memories of the times when I was living in Mexico. I always enjoy harmonic, melodic music, particularly sad nostalgic music (that you can hear in my music too). It’s something that has always put me into the zone.
Every time I hear melodies like this my mind goes somewhere else literally. It might sound quite cheesy but it takes to another dimension!
What I really love is the unharmonic tape effect that he applies in this song. Like a broken toy box melody, broken melody, it’s an effect that I apply a lot in my music writing.
Zerødays is an anonymous project from a producer and dj with many years of travels and memories. The music varies from house to trip hop to lofi hip hop, but the melodic and sonic mood stays consistent.
I need my headphones on all the time cause of that anxiety I already spoke about [on a forthcoming Deep Cuts article]. Being in public places is really challenging for me so I need some smooth music I can kinda sing along to and forget where I am. Mariah Carey’s new album really bangs and I listened to giving me life on repeat for a while (always need something sad to get me engaged fml).
Julia Star’s music is the opposite of anonymous, it places her character and identity front and centre in sharp detail.
The flagship Topshop store at Oxford Circus has 5 stories of clothes, above which is the staff mezzanine; an old converted dancehall with an elevated 360’ walkway decked with row upon row of lockers. I’ve got 10 minutes until my first shift starts, and feel a caffeinated, unsteady balance of nerves and excitement as I put my stuff away, and look down over the mostly-empty lunch tables. Of all the music that’s soundtracked my move to London, one song rises through my subconscious; I type its name and slip my headphones on. Despite its heaving bassweight, there’s something weirdly calming about Space, a serene, sublime clarity. It reminds me of FKA Twigs’ Papi Pacify, whose beats flex and and melt into each other like the Venom symbiote, or Tricky’s Maxinquaye, a burning record where ash and fallen branches smoulder together. These tracks stand so clearly in my mind, that this kind of abstract imagery comes naturally; when I say that Space is the view from an X-wing cockpit, I’m just describing it.
Jarvis Cocker once said that the joy of lyric writing comes from awareness that you can say what you want, as no one’s listening. The structure of a band’s sound doesn’t really highlight the lyrics, high low energy sad happy etc, it’s slightly arbitrary, if anything I think it’s often closer related to things above and beyond the singer’s lyrics; fashions, cities, tonal emotions. In tracks like Space, the whole production is built around the attitude and words of the chorus. This is lyrical branding in both senses of the word, the track’s metallic swing expands and drops through my head, its sound carryies Dizzee’s words just as a Lamborghini carries the car maker’s name and associated sleek aesthetics.
It reminds me of a Lee Scratch Perry quote: ‘I put my mind into the machine and the machine performs reality. Invisible thoughtwaves, you put them into the machine by sending them through the controls and the knobs or you jack it into the jackpanel.’
‘I’m Sorry’ he says, emphasising the I as if someone else has claimed to be more sorry than him and he’s pissed off about it. ‘You shouldn’t touch other people’s food.’
‘Ah I’m sorry, I just thought because the microwave was done-
‘Yeah but you shouldn’t touch other people’s food’ he walks off with a strong, headshaking sigh, to sit at the side of the room. I heat my rice for a minute and sit down, adjusting my seat so it’s m out of his view. I add food to the knots in my stomach, the new deep voice and the hour old, tiredly exasperated, voice. I microwave some soup, add the rest of the rice and go outside. ForFucksSake the scanner in my pocket sets off the alarm, I give it to security to hold on to, the spot of sunshine where I ate yesterday isn’t there FUCKS SAKE, I look right and see another at the end of the road, up against a clothes store. I walk over there.
I set my bag down, put my headphones on, and play New Grass. I’d forgotten its name for a second, but I knew the gentle, freeflowing guitar lick I was looking for, and scrolling through the discography I see it, the obvious correct name. It’s just right. It swirls with soul like the bowl of blue-white memories in Harry Potter, alive but impossibly peaceful, an organism whose heart swells rather than beats.