28.2.13

Special post - DJ Sarcastic - Holophonic Samizdat


Band / Artist: DJ Sarcastic
Year: 2013
Genre: Dub, Lo-fi, Breakbeat, Trance

My Review:

Weirdo Techno at its finest. The album uses a mix of oldschool amen breaks, trance, and jazz elements to make the skeletons of the tracks, then fleshes them out with tons of eclectic lo-fi samplings. After that, the whole thing is simmered in some heavy dub, and served fresh.

It comes together like a trippy cross of Bonobo, Thievery Corporation,  and 90's Meat Beat Manifesto. The chillest tracks are my favorites, especially "Red Programs in American Exile", which I must've listened to on repeat for an hour.

In case you were curious about the name (I was.), here is a description from the page.
Holophonics is a binaural recording system created by Hugo Zuccarelli that is based on the claim that the human auditory system acts as an interferometer. It relies on phase variance just like stereophonic sound. The sound characteristics of holophonics are most clearly heard through headphones though they can be effectively demonstrated with 2-channel stereo speakers, provided that they are phase-coherent. The word "holophonics" is related to the concept of an "acoustic hologram".

Samizdat (Russian) [səmizˈdat]
(in the former Soviet Union)
(Communication Arts / Journalism & Publishing)
a. a system of clandestine printing and distribution of banned or dissident literature
b. (as modifier) a samizdat publication
[from Russian, literally: self-published] 
Now, onto an interview.


Jumbly: It's nice to meet you. How are you doing in this fresh year?

DJ Sarcastic: I'm doing okay. In Montreal it's really cold in February still so we're just trying to get to the spring, then I'll be doing better. Much snow and ice on the ground still. Glad to be alive in 2013 as 2012 was a pretty stressful year.

Jumbly: Ugh. I know snow is pretty to most people, but to me it instantly sets off some alarm in my head that screams "This is frozen hell. Stay away". Suffice it to say, I can empathize with your discomfort.

So, whats your back story? Who is in the group?

DJ S: I am the group, I'm DJ Sarcastic, it's just me, I make all the music.


My back story is that I've been DJing in and around Montreal, Quebec, Canada for about fifteen years and making music on my own for about ten years. I used to play in a band when I was in high school ('93) called King Hemlock too. I spent many years heavily into the local techno scene, organizing events with the Level 4 Productions crew in Montreal and DJing a lot, working at a local record store and putting out a record or two. Somewhere around 2002 I started writing music reviews for a local magazine -you have some idea of what that's like, heheh, I wrote a column called Lalla Land (cause I'm Steve Lalla)... and my musical interests really expanded, first by necessity but then by choice.

I'm a real fan of vinyl and records, and my collection now includes lots of psychedelic rock, current and older, jazz, blues, country, reggae, dub in addition to all my electronic records that're mostly techno, jungle, trip hop, dubstep and so on. The music I make now incorporates elements of electronic music, sampling, and live music, and it's really influenced by what I've been exposed to in the past. I don't write for the newspaper anymore, they folded in 2010 like 95% of print media. ;) ...

I work in an office and by night I turn into DJ Sarcastic and kick out anti-capitalist tunes in my basement.

Jumbly: Who makes your album art?

DJ S: I designed the album art myself. I've done a lot of the artwork for DJ Sarcastic, and had some help with other Level 4-related artwork from Mindlabs and a local artist called Rhys Taylor. Rhys and I did a weekly night together for a few years and he put together some great flyers for that, they're still all online here http://level4productions.com/mix.htm his stuff is pretty cool. But ya nowadays it's really easy for artists to attach visual elements to their music through youtube videos and so on. I like to do graphics and draw and everyone takes pictures nowadays; like many musicians I usually have an idea of what I want the cover to look like. So we do it ourselves.

Jumbly: Do you tour much? Ever doing a tour through the US?

DJ S: As a DJ I've played a few times in the states mostly in Vermont and have travelled to Europe. To tour a "live PA" or live set frankly I'd have to sort out some technical aspects first. My real love is playing records for people though.

Jumbly: What way do you think is best to enjoy your music? Would you consider it good date music, driving music, chillout music, etc?

DJ S: I'm not sure but I think that as a general algorithm, the more altered your state of mind is, the more you will enjoy this album. Also it should be played loud. In the past I've been more focused on making dance-floor oriented music for DJs to play in clubs and raves. The digital releases on bandcamp however are really more suited to "listening". Exposure to hypnotic visual patterns, repetitive blinking lights, spiralling patterns or optical illusions would probably make listeners more suggestible.

Jumbly: Do you like giving away your music for free? Do you hope to continue or would you rather move to a pay system?

DJ S: All my years in writing music review for a magazine, organizing events and trying to run a record label have really led me to be where I am now.

Most of what goes on in the music "industry" or the music "business" is complete B.S., a gigantic fraud and a big waste of time and stress, so I just choose to focus on the music side of things and eliminate the aspects that bother me. Today with the internet it's easy to do that, but there's always been underground, outsider and alternative music published whether in the CD, cassette or vinyl medium. I really don't have the time to deal with the concerns of the mainstream music industry, I don't feel like competing nor can I afford to compete with those out there that are really trying to sell their music, so ya, I do like giving away my music for free, and ya, I do hope to continue being able to do it.

Honestly it's a very real fear that someday soon the world wide web will become a giant store like HMV, which could actually make it difficult for independent artists to give their music away digitally anymore, we'll see what happens.

Jumbly: Do you have any sounds/ bands/ or pieces of art that you admire or wish you could emulate with your music?

DJ S: My inspirations come from a wide variety of sources but they're often artists that I feel went beyond the call of their genre or style to express themselves in a way that felt true and honest to the listener, and I'm often attracted to lyrics of political or social consequence.

My biggest influences manifest themselves in my record collecting and listening habits; over the last year or so I've been heavily admiring Phil Ochs, Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Nilsson, Gil Scott Heron, the Last Poets, or the Lost Children of Babylon, to name a few artists that range from folk and rock to hip hop. I also really admire the sounds of guys like Ripley Johnson (of Moon Duo and Wooden Shjips), Shackleton, Demdike Stare, and René Pawlowitz (Shed), Tom Russell (Truss) and Deadbeat -to name some artists who do not use lyrics or vocals as much.

In my music I don't try to emulate any of these artists so much as I try to make something new out of the old. I use a lot of samples from records that I enjoy and then I turn them into something different, so I might sample a drum roll from the beginning of the Nilsson track "Poli High" and put it together with a dub bassline that I write, so in the end it won't sound anything like the original context. I also use many spoken word samples from movies, videos and, 'cause I'm a bit of a bookworm, audio books sometimes too. My music is totally informed by the cut-and-paste hip hop sampling aesthetic, and in that sense it borrows from 1990s producers like Coldcut, DJ Food, Frankie Bones or even RZA, but my goal is to end up with music that isn't easily qualified as 'hip hop' or 'trip hop' or 'techno'. 

Jumbly: If anyone wanted to do a collaboration with you, would you be interested?

DJ S: Sure I've done some collaborations; I especially like remixing tunes, here's a recent one I did of the Quebec City techno artist Bleupulp:

Jumbly: How should they get in touch with you?

DJ S: They could e-mail me at djsarcastic at gmail.

Jumbly: Thanks a bunch for sharing your music with me.
I have one last question. William Burroughs, or Jack Kerouac?

DJ S: That's a tough one but I'm gonna have to go with Burroughs. Steely Dan, who are one of my favourite bands of all time, named themselves after the metal dildo in Burroughs' Naked Lunch, And i'm reading The Ticket That Exploded right now. I've been reading it for a few months, while I was making many of the tracks on the Holophonic Samizdat album -along with some other books, it hasn't exactly been easy to read. Really though, the answer is Gaddis. Or maybe Pynchon.



And there you have it.
Kick on a blacklight, lay back in your hammock, and enjoy the grooves dude.

DJ Sarcastic - Holophonic Samizdat