This weeks podcast come from Detroit duo Ataxia, who are leading yet another generation of electronic music innovators to come out of the Motor City. But if you’re expecting classic Detroit techno sounds, then you clearly haven’t been paying real attention to the city’s sound, which can shift on a dime to encompass techno, house, disco and experimental beats without ever losing it’s gritty city edge.
The pair of Ted Krisko and Eric Hanna purpose-built the podcast mix for afterhours enjoyment (although it caught our attention early one weekday morning). It’s sophisitcated sound matches that of Ataxia’s first release, “INRIhab,” which appeared on the official D Records 2012 Movement festival compilation. That release will be followed up by their debut for Los Angeles imprint Culprit. Enjoy the mix and check the tracklist and interview.
URB: What kind of challenges do you face by showcasing such a diverse palate of music, some of which would not even be considered dance, while being from Detroit, the home of Techno?
Ataxia: Detroit is a very unique place to call home. There seems to be an idea out there of what Detroit Techno sounds like.
To me, a disco track by Secrets or a show with Moodyman is no more or less Detroit Techno than an Ectomorph live PA or an Acid Pimp DJ set. They come from our city, they represent our culture and make a mark on the world with their personal brand of music.
The challenge is in maintaining your credibility as a selector and producer of music, while taking risks to bring new sounds to the dance floor. This is one of the toughest places in the world to break tracks, and most difficult to really get people moving on the dance floor. But if you are willing to try new things, the people will respond.
Another challenge is to get the world to start paying attention to the younger generation of producers from Detroit that are all over the map as far as “genres” go. There is so much music being made here by people that to me, regardless of sound, are truly Detroit Techno to the bone. It’s a challenge to get people from around the world to dig deeper into what is really happening musically in Detroit dance music in 2012. There is far more than meets the eye.
This mix you recorded for URB is a good example of risk taking with really fun results. How do you approach preparing for a podcast in comparison to the way you prepare for a DJ set?
Putting out mixes is a great way of communicating musical ideas to an audience. We really differentiate between selecting music for a DJ set or even making a mixtape, and recording a podcast.
Music is such a compliment to time and place, so we really try keep the venue in mind when we are collecting music for a podcast. Podcasts can be really great for driving in the car, hanging out at home, afterpartying…so we want to make mixes that can accompany you in those scenarios. The goal I suppose is to create a fairly psychedelic piece that can be listened to like a Pink Floyd record from start to finish and have some kind of final thought to it.
When we prepare music for the club, we are trying to capture a certain kind of energy in the selections. It usually is based around the vibe of one or two tracks that we are really feeling at the moment. Syncopation, and intensity are the characteristics we are really honing in on when making a crate of tracks we may play out at a party. There may be a wide range of genres displayed, but we try to curate a general attitude that the music reflects. The focus really ends up being on the kind of mood all of the songs create as a whole, not so much on genre or style…
Who is inspiring you to make music right now? Who were some of your biggest influences early on?
We’ve been jamming to a lot of Uner’s material lately. Another Ataxia favorite would be Douglas Greed, who has a remix that appears on the mix we made for you. His stuff is very brilliant, especially the vocal work he arranges His brilliance is beginning to shine on a level like another hero of ours, DJ Koze. We’ve been following Koze religiously since first discovering him together, 5 years ago or so…his remix work is especially fascinating, and helped us see just how diverse one artist can really be.
However, Mathias Kaden has continued to be the beacon light for us since we got our start…he has an unbelievable knack for putting his personal thumbprint on tape. I’d argue him to be our favorite producer, and DJ. Other early influences would of course be Richie Hawtin and the M_nus gang, Marco Carola, Maetrik, Deepchild…we were almost exclusively into techno when Ataxia was beginning.
Though, these people are just inspiring to us. It doesn’t mean that we are trying to sound like them, or emulate their style or individual characteristics. These influences push us to be better, more prolific and make us strive to have stand out tracks that attract listeners and DJs alike.
We are working on a new project that involves a group and a label with partners Mister Joshooa & Dan Wagner. They are really who are inspiring us the most right now, because in the end, it’s all about who you make music with. You can take all the external influence you want, but nothing replaces studio sessions with close friends that have amazing musical talents.
The rumor mill is spinning about some recent collaborations you guys have embarked on. Can you tell us a little about them? Any plans for releasing the material?
We are just putting the finishing touches on some new material that we invited a couple of our favorite vocalists to work with us. We had a song that we wrapped up that really needed a great male vocal…we kept thinking the voice should sound like Footprintz, who we are huge fans of…I asked the groups vocalist, Clarian if he’d want to write for it. He and I were introduced by a friend years back, and we had kept in touch online, usually laughing about silly drinking experiences and musical ups and downs. The results on this collab were fantastic and really meshed well together. It caught the attention of Culprit Records and will be part of our very first EP, which is slated to come out in March, right around WMC.
The same happened for another track we recently finished with another favorite of singer of ours, Cari Golden…Her voice was always so sultry, and after the success of Fur Coat’s “You and I”, her voice became one of the most familiar on soundsystems at the club. I just kept imagining hearing her voice in the song. Though we had never met, we have a few really close mutual friends, the Safeword guys from San Francisco & Bon Spengler from Proton Radio in Dallas…its always nice to find comfort in working with new people because you share the same friends.
Being brought on the Culprit roster is huge news! How did they get turned on to your music?
During Movement 2012, a friend of ours from Detroit passed our music onto Jozif, who is one of Culprits brightest shining stars as of late. We started speaking via email and sharing music as studio projects wrapped up. He included our “INRIhab” release on his “We Love Space Ibiza” chart and had been playing our newest music in clubs on his seemingly endless world tour.
He told me that Andrei at Culprit would be really into the music we had just wrapped up, and asked me to get tunes together we thought would make good demo for an EP.
At the same time, Safeword had been working on a remix of one of the tracks that was on the demo, so Clint Stewart (Safeword) dropped a line about the project to Justin Sloe who is one of the bosses at Culprit.
It was a really cool way to get started with a new label. Culprit is a US based label, operating out of Los Angeles. It’s owned and operated by artists, run by the members of Droog. We’ve gigged with them before and have booked a lot of the same artists in our respective cities. There is a lot of comfort in knowing that we have a label backing us that are like minded both in music, and business.
You guys have played some serious gigs over this past year…what was most the noteworthy and memorable to you? What are you looking most forward to with your upcoming schedule?
Playing the Movement 2012 Official Closing Party at Elysium with Marco Carola upstairs, Soul Clap b2b Bill Patrick & Ataxia in the lower level. It was the end of one of the most thrilling weekends of music we’ve ever experienced. We found out we were playing the party while sleeplessly frying in the sun at Visionquest’s annual “Need I Say More” at Old Miami on Monday afternoon. Somehow we made it to the gig alive and had the time of our lives. The crowd was simply amazing! In fact, Alison Tara cited that this was the best party of the weekend in her Movement Diary for URB earlier this year!
As far as other gigs throughout the year, we hold down a residency at the world famous TV Lounge in Detroit. Our favorite gig there this year was closing after Ripperton for Auxetic’s 5 Year Anniversary…that night was pure magic! Our friend Michael Fotias was running sound that evening, and saved a ton of headroom in the already bumping sound system. He really juiced the sound that night, every drop after a break sounded like an explosion…we had a lot of fun that night…
It’s really a family affair playing at TV, so every gig feels right, and is just like being home for us. I host a night called Dance Lessons, as part of the TV Dinners series on Thursdays. It’s the longest running weekly in Detroit for dance music, going 5 years strong now. We bring in internationals regularly, and feature many of the classic Detroit old schoolers, and plenty of new, up and coming talent.
As far as cool gigs on the horizon, we were recently invited to play the BPM Festival in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico! It was really exciting and flattering to be included in a lineup with so many artists we support and look up to. It should be a really amazing time, we’ve never been so it’s very exciting to attend, let alone as performers. So much attention is placed on Miami in March, but Playa is quickly becoming a proving ground for new talent. It’s going to be a great trip, as we have many friends and fans that will be joining us so far from home for fun in the sun!
URB PRESENTS ATAXIA TRACKLIST
1. Phone Tag – “Ghosts Behind”
2. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – “You Need Me On My Own”
3. Krystian Shek Surya – “Playground”
4. Max Buschfeld – “Home” (El Txef A & Flakun Team Remix)
5. Ernesto – “Care” (Mario Vidis Reinterpretation)
6. Till Von Sein – “Get Over Yourself”
7. Xin – “Flora”
8. Ry / Frank Wiedemann – “Howling” (Ame Remix)
9. Sante – “Homegirl”
10. Cubenx – “Grass” (Douglas Greed Remix)
11. Cubenx – “Grass” (Robin Guthrie Remix)
12. The XX feat Tale of Us – “Heart Skipped a Beat From Dark Song”
13. Schmoltz – “Raindrops”
14. Tyson – “Mr. Rain” (Mano Le Tough Remix)