It’s Homecoming Week in the electronic dance music scene, as some marquee prodigal producers and DJs are returning to Vermont to rock local clubs. The big name, of course, is two-time Grammy nominee Morgan Page, who brings his 3-D concert experience to the Higher Ground Ballroom this Thursday, October 17. But Page isn’t the only notable EDM expat coming home this week. On Sunday, October 20, dynamic EDM duo Lazerdisk will fly in to headline a special edition of DJ Rekkon’s newish monthly series, Sundae Soundclash at Club Metronome.
When last we left Zack Johnson and Chad Bechard, the Storm Trooper-helmeted duo had moved from Burlington to Miami and were flying under the decidedly more salacious banner Lazerdisk Party Sex. They have since moved to Los Angeles and, earlier this year, dropped the last two thirds of their name. Interestingly, the name change comes just as Johnson and Bechard had started making some serious waves in national dance-music circles.
As LPS, the duo notched a hit last year on a collaboration with Diplo called “Set It Off.” They followed that up with, among other projects, a well-received redux of Dim Mak founder Steve Aoki’s “Ooh,” featuring Rob Roy. They also unleashed a typically playful take on CRNKN and ?uZ’s “Booty to the Ground.” That remix, rooted in 1980s new jack swing, led Vibe magazine to tab the duo as one of the “Top 10 DJs to Keep in Your Summer 2013 Rotation.”
That’s not nothin’. So why switch up the name now?
“The name originally came about pretty randomly and we just rolled with it,” says Bechard in a recent phone call with Johnson in LA. “But as time has gone on, it has become less representative of what we’re trying to do, the music we’re trying to make and the vibe of our shows.”
So no crazy club orgies, then? (Cue the glowstick crowd groaning.)
“We’ve never really been about spraying champagne on people or raging party music,” says Bechard. “We’re into fun, weird music.”
In other words, Johnson and Bechard have become more serious-minded about their music, not just remixes, but their original material, too. And the Party Sex designation was becoming increasingly misleading.
“We’ve found a sound that we like, and the more we dial that in, the less the name Party Sex makes sense,” says Bechard.
And just what is this new sound?
“The big thing has been combining Chad’s and my styles,” says Johnson. As a DJ, Johnson comes from a strong hip-hop background. He even used to teach lessons in hip-hop DJing in Burlington. (I was one of his pupils, BTW. And I really, really sucked.)
Johnson explains that his interest in chill hip-hop beats didn’t always jive with the Party Sex club bangers.
“We’ve been trying to find a happy medium where we could merge those two styles together,” he says. “We’re pretty happy with the result of that new sound.”
As an example, Johnson points to a new song, “I Think I Love You” that will appear on the duo’s forthcoming self-titled debut EP, due out in November.
“I started working on it a year ago,” he says. “It had more of a sample-based hip-hop vibe to it and it didn’t fit the Lazerdisk Party Sex vibe at the time. Until recently. We went back to it and found elements that we liked and were able to turn into a dance single.”
Johnson describes the song, and Lazerdisk’s newfound style in general, as a “feel-good, groovy sound” that moves away from the fist pumping currently dominating dancehalls and incorporates elements of soul, funk and hip-hop into the dance music idiom.
“It still has a certain kind of energy that’s fun,” he says. “It’s just a little funkier.”
This just in from the Department of Industrious Young People: Signal Kitchen and ArtsRiot have joined forces to pimp out the latter’s new Pine Street locale with beefed-up sound and lighting — which you may have noticed if you checked out Kat Wright & the Indomitable Soul Band’s CD release show there last Friday. By teaming up, ArtsRiot can not only take advantage of SK’s audiophilic know-how, but SK will have access to a significantly larger room in which to continue its recent run of great bookings. SK’s Main Street location has a capacity of 240. ArtsRiot, meanwhile, currently fits 300, and has plans to bump that up to 390 by next year, which would make it the largest room this side of the Higher Ground Ballroom.
Neither SK’s Alex Lalli nor AR’s Felix Wai would dish on specific acts in the pipeline, though Lalli hints at some “really interesting acts” on the horizon. Stay tuned…
Speaking of local venues with newly expanded digs, the Skinny Pancake in Burlington unveils a new weekly series this Sunday, October 20, called Bluegrass Brunch, which is, well, bluegrass … during brunch. Ahem.
The series is helmed by ace local fiddler Caleb Elder, who will enlist the help of various fine local pickers and players on a rotating basis from week to week. In addition to Elder, this week’s band includes Brett Hughes on guitar, Modern Grass Quintet’s Steve Waud on mandolin, Cabinet’s Pappy Biondo on banjo and Big Spike’s Mike Santosusso on bass. Future Sunday sessions will see the likes of Joe Cleary, Adam Frehm, Pat Melvin, D. Davis and many others sitting in.
New band alert! From the people who brought you Japhy Ryder, Barika and Invisible Homes comes the Golden Dragon Dub Collective, who are set to debut at Red Square in Burlington this Friday, October 18. The band features Japhy members Pat Ormiston (bass), Jason Thime (drums) and Will Andrews (trumpet), along with guitarist Sean Witters and trumpeter Dave Purcell.
In a recent email, Ormiston writes that the group came together as something to do while longtime Japhy Ryder guitarist Zack DuPont busies himself getting famous with his brother Sam DuPont and their band, the DuPont Brothers. He adds that the band’s goal — aside from staving off boredom waiting for Zack to come home from touring — is to “bring instrumental dub to Burlington on a semiregular basis.” He cites bands such as Dub Is a Weapon and the Dub Trio as reasonable comparisons. Judging from the hypnotically spacey track “It Wouldn’t Take Much,” which the band recently made available on Soundcloud, I’m inclined to agree.
Alpenglow fans, take note: The band’s long-awaited debut EP, Solitude, was finally released on Tuesday, October 15. We’ll have a full review prior to their show with Lucius at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge on Sunday, November 3. But in the meantime: Be still my art-folk-lovin’ heart.
Last but not least, we have a pair of local band-name changes to pass along. Please update your records.
First up, the band formerly known as Spirit Animal shall henceforth be known as Wolvings. This is presumably because of the other Spirit Animal, a NYC-based band whom I mistakenly caught at CMJ a couple of years ago because I thought I was going to see the VT-based Spirit Animal. BTW, if naming rights were based on musical merit, I’d award this one to the locals. But I suppose I’m biased. Anyway, catch Wolvings at the Monkey House this Friday, October 18, with Death Pesos and Hidden Cabins.
Next, the band formerly known as Parmaga shall henceforth be known as Pours. Personally, I find this disturbing, as it means I can no longer harass Parmaga about releasing their sophomore record — a follow-up to their excellent Ghost Pops EP. However, it does mean I can harass Pours about releasing their debut — perhaps this Tuesday, October 22, at Nectar’s, with Lovers and the Smittens.
A peek at what was on my iPod, turntable, eight-track player, etc., this week.
Crystal Antlers, Nothing Is Real
John Elliott, Good Goodbyes
Lynx, Light Up Your Lantern
Best Coast, Fade Away