With definitely one of this years most exciting releases (on Sonic Groove) I've heard this year (RA concurs!), CGNY is very proud to have Pittsburgh DJ/Producer REALMZ play The Dark Edition Sept 6th at Arlene's Grocery. We caught up with REALMZ to get his views on all things techno!
CGNY: Well first of all CGNY is very pleased to have you play our Dark Edition party! Really looking forward to hearing you! You’re from Pittsburg but you’ve played in NYC before. What do you think of the techno scene here?
RZ: Thanks for having me out. I think the scene in NY is doing well. I lived here in 2008 and went to a lot of good events then and a few since. I’ve only played here a couple times but I’ve had a fun time.
CGNY: What’s your earliest recollection of hearing any piece of music and where did you hear it?
RZ: Well music always seemed to be around as long as I can remember and I was listening to music on my own from a very early age. I had a Walkman and remember listening to the 80’s pop on the radio a lot. Some of the first tunes that I remember being wild about were Egyptian Lover – Egypt, Egypt, Laidback - White Horse, Newcleus - Jam On It, Herbie Hancock – Rock It, Midnight Star – Freak a zoid. All of which came out around the same time in the early 80’s.
CGNY: When and how did you get into djing? What was your first piece of professional gear? What was your first gig like?
RZ: In 1995 a friend of mine that I went to raves with got 2 Technics & a mixer and started buying jungle/drum & bass records and mixing religiously. Getting on his set up gave me the opportunity to learn some basic mixing and keep up on the latest records but from the start I was far more interested in making the actual music than I was in DJing. The first pieces of equipment I bought were a Yamaha A5000 sampler and an Atari 1040st computer to sequence it. My first gig was fun. It was in an old theater, really cool atmosphere, not a lot of people but still a great party nonetheless.
CGNY: What or who would say most influences your sound or frames your productions when you go to work in the studio?
RZ; When I go into the studio sometimes I have a specific concept or idea in mind that I want execute, if so I work toward realizing that concept until I get as close as possible to that end. More often though I approach the music from a sound design perspective through pure experimentation. So I might start out playing around with a synth or sequence, just jamming, tweaking etc. until something jumps out at me or I discover something I’m really feeling. I think of it as a spark, one from which you can possibly build an inferno haha.
CGNY: You’ve released on Sonic Groove, which is a legendary label from Adam X, Frankie Bones and Heather Heart. I’m a big fan of all 3 artists so how did you end up putting out releases with SG?
RZ: Well I was familiar with Sonic Groove and those three from hearing them play at parties a handful of times in the 90’s but I think around 2006 I heard some of the material Adam was doing in the industrial/ebm vein, styles of which were of a similar influence to me and the stuff I was working on. At the time I was looking to send some of my tracks around to some people to get some opinions if nothing else and he was one of the first people I thought of that might be into some of it. So a correspondence just kind of grew from there.
CGNY: I wasn’t living here during the early rave days in the 90s but I’ve heard great things. I think your sound has that ‘rave’ edge to it still – would that be right?
RZ: The early to mid 90’s saw a real renaissance explosion for all forms of electronic dance music. Coupled with the fact that the parties were done in a much more renegade fashion, often held in strange and unique places and at times carried out with a certain amount of secrecy. It was quite revolutionary, a very heady, psychedelic, spiritual youth movement. I think with any underground music movement it’s exciting to experience it as it’s unfolding before you and is still very fresh and pure and as it moves away from that it becomes more diluted, watered down and commercialized. Since around 2001 and the rave act the music moved more to the club environment which is different entity all together. People have continued to throw raves as well but in my experience they've become an increasingly pale derivatives to the point where they no longer remotely resemble the earlier movement. So to answer your question I’d say yes. Some of the music I remember fondly had a certain edge, a certain depth, a certain freakiness, a certain momentum, vibe and energy that perhaps I try to capture.
CGNY: Tell us about your own Realmz Technologies label? When did you start that?
RZ; Realmz technologies is just a name I came up with recently for fun to attach to any of the myriad of unreleased material I have lying around, which is quite a bit. I may use it for a limited vinyl release of some Realmz material in the near future.
CGNY: Where have been some of your favorite places to play both here and abroad?
RZ: I enjoy playing in NY a lot, I have yet to play in Europe but I’m hoping to make that happen soon enough.
CGNY: Do you prefer to make music or play it or equally both?
RZ: I enjoy both but I definitely enjoy making music most. I love being able to go into the studio and enter my own secret little worlds. I also really enjoy playing for people, it’s a lot of fun and I think it’s a natural progression once you start to accumulate a body of material to want to present it in some way.
CGNY: Do you think it’s harder or easier now to make a living in the edm scene as a producer/dj?
RZ: I’d say it’s harder for the most part. There are a lot more people making the music now so it’s probably a bit more difficult to establish yourself as an artist and record sales are nowhere near what they once were.
CGNY: What is one of your pet peeves (if you have any!) about the industry you work in?
RZ: I don’t have many pet peeves when it comes to techno specifically. I think it’s in a good place at the moment for the most part; there are a lot of decent records coming out.
CGNY: An alien lands from another planet and has no clue what techno is! What track/album do you hand over as a learning tool?!
RZ: Wow, there are so many. I could spend days playing them stuff but off the top of my head… Jeff Mills - I9, Infiniti – Thought Process, Model 500 – Starlight.
For more information on REALMZ go here!
REALMZ plays Arlenes Grocery Sept 6th -11pm - NO COVER with resident DJ Chanski.