These guys are producers, not just DJs. I’ve always been interested in music that is current, innovative, cutting-edge … but also accessible. Not just experimental noise. And I love to share this new music with people. The music that Sulumi and KnifeHandChop are doing is very different from what you hear at your average hip hop or house music club. Sulumi is making live electronic music, using vintage Gameboy gadgets. It’s called 8-bit music. This is a sort of fringe-punk electronic music scene around the world, but I really feel that Sulumi has taken the genre to a mature level that others haven’t — his songs have structure and familiarity that make them accessible and memorable. He even sings on some of them!
Knifehandchop has been producing and remixing and mashing up a variety of styles from Dancehall to GhettoTech, Jungle to Electro, Breakcore and IDM. He’s got a wicked sense of humor, taking the piss on these genres, at the same time celebrating them. I especially like his mash-ups of American pop and hip hop, they’re so subversive and tongue-in-cheek. Like you can play this stuff in Windows and people wouldn’t notice the manipulation until it’s too late, they’re already dancing.
And for those of you that are as clueless as we are about all the various electronica genres, Michael gives us a crash course:
Right now, around the world, we’re seeing some exciting developments in electronic music. New technology and software is making production, remixing, and mash-ups possible in places where just 5 years ago we’d never expect. It’s a global scene and to me that’s really exciting and positive. Right now the places that are producing some of the most exciting new music are … Angola in Africa, and Colombia in South America. If I predicted that 5 years ago you’d think I was nuts. The genres are communicating and mixing up like never before. A few years ago it was ironic fun to mix a Britney Spears vocal with dirty electro, now we’re seeing producers mixing genres like pop, old school rave, rock, and hip hop, because it actually sounds good. It’s evolving, finally, this genre mix. We’re hearing great things when producers in India mix tablas with Jamaican reggae, or Angola Kuduro acts that mix African traditional with Detroit-style techno, or kids in Bogota making electro that’s dirtier and sexier than Berlin.
Here’s a little guide to some of these new (or newly discovered) genres:
8-bit – made with “8-bit” machines like Nintendo Gameboy toys. Immediately familiar sound, cause we’ve all heard video games, but looped and manipulated into something new. Fun to dance to.
Essential listening – Sulumi
Kuduro – A mix of traditional African, rap, and techno. But very different from Afro-beat or tribal house. Essentially from Angola, a former Portuguese colony, so there’s some similarities with Brazilian Baile Funk. Very trendy right now in Paris and London.
Essential listening – Frederic Galliano
Festival 100 Angola
Hyphy – Also called “West Coast Crunk,” it’s the San Francisco Bay Area’s take on southern “crunk hip hop”. The songs are simple and silly, often with kids rapping, and weird little funky sound effects. The lyrics are refreshingly “anti-bling”, with guys bragging about their dirty old shoes and cheap cars. But now “hyphy” has been picked up and taken to new levels. Check out Montreal’s Hatchmatik, for example.
Essential listening – Hatchmatick , e40
Breakcore – Drum and bass or Jungle and Hardcore Techno that’s been sped up to a ridiculously fast tempo, employing the ubiquitous “Amen Break” drum line. Breakcore is digital punk.
Essential listening – Iloop
Ghetto-Tech & Booty – Detroit-style techno with rapping. The lyrics are usually relentless tongue-in-cheek X-rated nonsense to the point where they’re mocking gangsta rap.
Mash-ups – Taking the “remix” to a new level. Usually comic or surprise edits and mixes of two or more songs that would usually seem an odd fit together. Perfect example – 2 Many DJs mashup of Salt n Pepa with The Stooges. With new software like Ableton Live, mashup productions are easy to make, and even do live. Usually mashups involve mixing a really cheesy pop song with something that makes it sound “dirty”… which can be really fun cause you’re suddenly singing along to a song you’d usually hate.
Essential listening –
2ManyDJs (Soulwax and 2ManyDJs are the same)
(Mochipet will play Antidote on Jan.12 @ The Shelter… (his style is really mad eclectic, so listen to all the tracks)
(Soulwax/2ManyDJs are schedule to play Shanghai in Jan. — confirmation pending)
For any one who is in Beijing on the 14th, you are in luck. Antidote w/ Knifehandchop and Sulumi will be holding a special show at the White Rabbit.
(video of Knifehandchop and friends)
Abe Deyo is Shanghaiist’s Music Editor. Email tips, recommendations, news and gossip about Shanghai’s music scene to music at shanghaiist.com.