Funky fresh and it’s about time…. If you want to see what music and live performance can be, get down with some improvised art and dance yourself silly then it pays to catch the project dubbed “Headtronics” if it comes near your domain.
Genre jumping has been popular among musicians for quite some time (and popular on the charts the last decade or so), but actually jumping ‘modes’ still proves difficult and rare. Headtronics, a strong trio of players consisting of DJ Logic, Freekbass, and Steve Molitz, is one of the first projects I’ve seen to successfully go “mixed mode”.
See, there’s several ways for Joe Citizen to enjoy himself some music when he leaves the house in the evening. In what mode he ends up consuming music that night depends partly on his tastes, partly on social constructs and then venue requirements. We know he probably won’t catch a symphony at a loft party, a rock band on the corner, a solo sax in a dance club, or a performance art piece in the corner bar. It’s more than likely he won’t get out of his comfort zone at all.
For this dilemma DJ’s were created, and this was good.
Any music you want anywhere you want it is the promise. Musical taste gatekeepers blah blah blah. Some musicians hold a confrontational attitude towards DJ’s, and from a purely financial perspective it is understandable as they are fighting over the same beer markups. But ultimately those that love the music are at least as important as those who make the music, so DJ’s became important parts of the music ecology.
In our categorization of everything we have put musicians on one side and DJ’s on the other, but this masks the fact that the best of each share many qualities. More on that in a minute.
Eventually our technology and transparency led us to this postmodern moment of ‘so, what’s new anymore?’. And if it’s new and cool, I already downloaded that, wiki’ed that, googled that, and I feel like I know all about that… that thing you just told me about.
Then I will forget about it nearly as quick as I ‘interlearned’ it.
Where does Headtronics fit into this? Several angles – this is a rant after all!
DJ’s do a set ultimately to keep people dancing / zoning out / chasing the blues from their day. They change tempo if and when needed, leave no dead air, do not focus on a piece but on the whole.
A great DJ does alot of things during a great set that musicians don’t do and don’t even need to consider most of the time. Musicians do a set to play each piece to it’s fullest, to perform their musical parts to their satisfaction, to connect with the audience, and keep their project’s name and songs in the fan’s memory forever. They construct sets but in a different way than a DJ, with different purposes.
No project to my knowledge has been able to successfully deliver the holy fusion of DJ’ing and playing live music, while improvising it all, until Headtronics.
Yes, melodies, textures, and even rhythms were improvised and explored during pieces within a set as a whole. Logic had full scratch and break moments. Steve had space for perfect textures and melody lines. And Freekbass put out flavor and variations while sitting in a big fat pocket. They achieved the perfect measure of success in both DJ’ing and live gigging: the nicely mixed crowd danced for two hours straight and good times were had by all.
I will wrap this up because you get the point — go see Headtronics, see if you can dig what I’m talking about. I’ve seen DJ’s in bands, and I’ve seen musicians play over a DJ, but this is both and neither. It’s a whole new thang as they say, and it just feels right. It’s about time.
ps — much respect to Urban Dance Squad and DJ DNA for blind ambition 23 years ago.