[dB2015 MIX #6] Archivist
Performing Wednesday, September 23rd at The Crocodile as part of the 12th Annual Decibel Festival Showcase: secondnature
Everywhere you look for Techno in Seattle you’ll find the serenely thumping strains of secondnature, their dark, moody ambience chugging away in equally dark spaces. A central pillar of this collective, Alex Markey has been making waves recently with his sublime Migration EP and dynamic DJ and live sets. He’s even been tapped to play an after-hours set at Montreal’s esteemed Dance Music festival, La Bacchanale. We had the opportunity to have a chat with him before warming things up at Crocodile.
How and where was the mix recorded?
The mix was recorded with CDJs, turntables, and a mixer. I was in my home studio with my cat and a chicken sandwich.
How did you go about selecting the tracks for this mix?
This mix was born during practice sessions for a small private renegade party in the mountains that we did recently. I played the warm-up slot, so I picked tracks that remind me of the feeling of dusk and twilight in the mountains. The music is also inspired by a recent trip to Europe with my partner, and it reflects the music I was surrounded by over there. Blind Observatory in particular has been a big source of inspiration to me, both as a DJ and a producer.
Tell us about your journey with music – where did you start out and how did you arrive at the sound you’ve developed now?
I started playing drums when I was 10, which began a love affair with percussion and rhythm that I’m still trying to deal with. I played a lot of experimental rock and metal in high school and college, and discovered techno towards the end of my time in school. My band in college was really exploratory, energetic psychedelic rock that was all about sweaty house parties. That’s when I discovered the power of loud music combined with dark spaces and crowds who are willing to let themselves go. The camaraderie and the loss of ego that comes with being on a dark dance floor with your friends is irreplaceable. That’s what I love about techno. Techno also synthesizes (pardon the pun) a bunch of different musical strains that I’ve enjoyed since I was old enough to buy music, like punk, psychedelic rock, ambient, metal, noise, whatever. Techno borrows from everything. It’s very cosmopolitan music.
Where do you go to find inspiration to create?
I don’t really have a specific place I like to go to find inspiration. It’s more an emotional state. I always feel really inspired after I go to a really great party or hear particularly good set. My recent time in Berlin was fantastic for that, and I’ve been incredibly productive since I got home. It’s a bit of a cliche, but the natural environment in the Pacific Northwest is really dramatic and beautiful, and I get a lot of creative power from that. Especially during the fall when the rains return.
Do you feel like there is a specific sound or movement associated with Seattle currently?
It’s hard to pinpoint a specific sound that you could associate with Seattle. I wouldn’t pretend to speak for the whole music community here, because it’s very diverse. However, there is a kind of do-it-yourself feeling that I associate with Seattle that is really inspiring to me. Most people here aren’t just passive consumers of culture- we all participate in making it happen.
Where do you see PNW Techno going / where do you see the underground dance music culture here progressing? What’s next?
We have an amazing community here. Being so far removed from the global hubs of dance music (Berlin, New York, London etc), we really need to rely on each other and work hard to create the kind of scene that we want to be in. I’m just hoping to draw more people into this culture, this particular style of partying. As far as secondnature goes, we have a lot of our own resident’s original material sitting around on hard drives, and more coming out all the time, so keep an eye out for some of that stuff starting to be released. Long term, it’s always been a dream of mine to make a career as an artist without having to move away from Seattle. This place is my home and I would be really sad to leave it. For that to happen, we need more parties, more promoters, more labels etc. We’ll see.
How do you go about preparing for your live sets?
Coffee and a lot of time spent in the studio. I’m currently using Ableton as the center of my setup, with a couple of pieces of hardware to supplement and fill out the sound. It’s all stems from tracks I’ve made, plus synth parts I’ve written specifically for the live set. I basically spend a lot of time jamming until I identify interesting ways to play my material.
What do you have in store for us at the festival?
I haven’t done very many live sets at this point, and this is the most ambitious one by far. More hardware and more material. We’ll see how it goes!
See Archivist, Wednesday, September 23rd at the secondnature showcase with Tin Man, Cassegrain, and Josef Gaard.
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