Warm Up 2014 begins this Saturday at MoMA PS1! This annual outdoor music series has become a landmark of New York summers and an essential bridge connecting the art world with experimental live music, sound, and DJs from New York and beyond. Warm Up 2014 spans eleven weeks and features almost 60 performers. If you can attend only one or two dates, which should they be? I asked NYC-based DJs, producers, and promoters which performances they recommend. Their responses are below, but first, a bit more about the Warm Up season.
Warm Up will feature Hy-Fi, an installation by The Living (David Benjamin), and rotating stage installations by local design talent—including CONFETTISYSTEM, Chen Chen and Kai Williams, Fort Makers, Fort Standard, Nightwood, and The Principals—organized by Jocelyn Miller. ARTBOOK @ MoMA PS1 will feature design objects and music by Warm Up talent. MoMA leaders Klaus Biesenbach, Margaret Knowles, and Eleanor McKinney selected this year’s Warm Up curatorial committee, which includes Dean Bein (True Panther Sounds), Jonathan Galkin (DFA Records), Brandon Stosuy (Pitchfork), Imogene Strauss (Cool Managers), Matt Werth (RVNG Intl), and Eliza Ryan.
I sought opinions about Warm Up from booty-moving and speaker-shaking experts, including James Friedman, Gavin Russom, Kim Ann Foxman, Alex Pasternak, DJ Scallywag, and Mr. Blacklauren. Here they are, in no particular order.
-James Friedman is a DJ and co-founder of Throne of Blood Music. He recently released Most Excellent Mixtape 007 with Most Excellent Unltd, while ToB talents Jokers of the Scene are collaborating with visual artist Sean Dack. James picks A/Jus/Ted and Pantha du Prince on June 28th:
“A/Jus/Ted are a super talented duo featuring Justin Strauss, who is a real legendary NY dance music character and one of the most humble dudes I’ve had the pleasure to become friends with over my years as a DJ. Pantha du Prince is probably the single most achingly beautiful techno artist out there today. That label feels inadequate to describe his music, which over four or so albums has evolved from delicate minimalism into this harmonically rich, musically serious version of dance music. His live set with the Bell Laboratory during Red Bull Music Academy last year was my favorite show in recent memory.”
-Gavin Russom is a co-producer of The Crystal Ark and resident DJ of the monthly Drakkar Noir at Bossa Nova Civic Club. His new 12-inch, The Purge/Enthroned, is the first release by the new label Entropy Trax. Gavin selects DJ Spoko on June 28th and Robert Hood on July 19th:
“DJ Spoko basically because I was already a big fan of the South African house sound and then his track Sound of our 4Fathers blew me away. Whenever I play it people ask me what it is. Really interested to hear what he’ll play. Robert Hood is a living African American artist of the type anyone would be blessed to witness in person, like Miles Davis or James Baldwin. What he’s achieved in terms of a specific and clear personal style and a synthesis of radical politics, storytelling and technological innovation is really impressive. Plus, I saw him play at Berghain a couple years ago and hearing him weave disco and soul music into his set, on that sound system, is something I’ll never forget.”
-Kim Ann Foxman is a globe-trotting DJ and producer. This month, she released two new singles, Be Mine and Let Me the One, with Heidi Presents Jackathon Jams. She performed at Warm Up 2013. Kim Ann recommends Kevin Saunderson on August 23rd:
“Kevin Saunderson will definitely be amazing to see at PS1 Warm up! He is surely my all time fave electronic music producer ever. He is Detroit Techno and acid house heaven for me. He has made the best of dance music pop hits such as Big Fun and Good Life, as well the best underground gems like Just Another Chance, Feel the Mood, and so many more! He is sure to get you ‘Groovin Without A Doubt’. He is a huge inspiration for me. Don’t miss him!”
“My faves are Pantha du Prince and DJ Spoko. I went on tour with Pantha du Prince last month and he KILLS IT live. Also, Total Freedom (Ashland Mines) is one of my favorite DJs; he’s the best in LA, as far as I’m concerned. He doesn’t do straight dance. Ashland has a more conceptual approach to DJing. I’ve heard him mix an R&B acapella over a drum solo from some metal band…I believe it was a Mayhem solo. Regardless, Ashland kills it as a DJ. Finally, Dubbel Dutch will be epic. They are great producers.”
“I am keen on the Robert Hood line-up because it’s the only one that caters to my interests in darker, conceptual and even philosophical techno & electronic music. That’s not to say that the music won’t be dance-able or alienating for people with little to no knowledge of these artists. I think it will be just as enjoyable for the novice and die-hard fan alike. I know as a producer and DJ that when I leave this event, the creative gears will be a churnin’.”
-DJ Scallywag has multiple picks, but with caveats and conditions:
“For me, Warm Up is kind of a mixed bag. I’ll definitely give it to ‘em for having the best ‘all around’ line-up in the city, but I don’t always enjoy the crowding, the drink ticket loophole hurdles, and the constraints of the acoustics as related to the space. -Not to be a jerk, though, haha! If you wanna climb up those steps and bob up and down all day like you’re on display, then more power to you! I guess I’m just usually not drunk enough at that hour to really enjoy being sardined in that little pit.;)”
“That stuff aside, the Robert Hood, Rrose, Objekt, Container date is a dream line-up of harder-edged sounds. Rrose was phenomenal the night she played with us at Bossa, and Container’s live show has made me go feral on multiple occasions. But if it’s a super hot day, then the sun might already be throwing down hard enough. Heaviness in the right context, you know? But I could see Robert Hood slipping in a couple tracks that are nice n’ breezy.”
“The real bucket-list show is Daniele Baldelli with Charanjit Singh. Both of them are early 80’s guys. Baldelli is a legendary Italian dude usually framed as the original Balearic / cosmic disco DJ and credited for ushering in what would become Italo Disco as well. I found out about him in the djhistory forums. I always imagined him as kind of a proto-DJ Harvey, but he was known for pitching down records a lot, so you might say he was more like the DJ Screw of the bougie Italian shore scene. He’s the same in that all I’ve ever known are his mixtapes. Anyhow, I know most people in the US have never seen him, so feel free to print that! Charanjit Singh seems even more of anomaly. He was a Bollywood soundtrack composer who put out an album that took the intricacy of classic Indian ragas and rendered them using Roland’s most famous synths and drum machines (the ones even us non-gearheads hear referenced all the time: the TB-303, TB-808, Jupiter-8, etc). The ragas translated nicely because of the 303’s glissando function (the smooth pitch glide between notes that a lot of acid records have) and most of it had a 4/4 kick under it because of the 808. The record came out in India in 1982, when most of those machines had just hit the market. It’s kind of a big deal because it was rediscovered a few years ago; it actually predated the ‘acid house’ movement by about five years. I’m assuming he’s never played NY, either, but I’m hoping that that bill is obscure enough to avoid the whole ‘Kraftwerk effect’ so I can just sit somewhere comfy and vibe out. Check out his Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat if you’re a fan of vintage sounds or notable curios, and also check out the inside of PS1 because they have A/C in there. Plus, the bathroom lines are shorter. ;)”