Actress, Drumcell, Pilo
Actress (Live A/V - L.A. debut)
Ninja Tune / Werkdiscs - London
with very special guests
Droid Recordings / DROID BEHAVIOR
Tuesday October 17, 2017
9pm • UNION
Los Angeles, CA
$15 ADVANCE, $20 DAY OF SHOW
Even when Darren Jordan Cunningham was just a kid, DAZ or DAZ AUTOMATIC, growing up in Wolverhampton, there was something about him which stood out. “When I was at school, I was always being creative,” he remembers. “I was a very good counterfeiter – good at copying pictures. I was able to perfectly recreate pictures. At school you’d have projects for the term and we were looking at Sikhism. I think I was about seven. I was asked to create this massive mural of Guru Nanak using different forms – using sequences, dipped painted cotton wool, Sikh fabrics.” He pauses as he thinks it through. “I ended up applying that to music. I create sketches, essentially like these fabrics, and I collage them together…once I see the picture it’s embellished further and the proceeds repeats.”
If his first obsession was drawing, his first love was football. Indeed, if it wasn’t for a career-ending injury while a promising young player with West Bromwich Albion, football may well have remained his abiding obsession. Luckily for music, the injury caused a sudden change in direction. “I got some turntables and taught myself how to DJ, built up a small record collection and then started to DJ at student house parties in Wolverhampton.”
A devotee of Detroit techno and particularly, Derrick May, Carl Craig and Kevin Saunderson, Cunningham had no real sense how far outside the mainstream he stood. Luckily he met Matthew Parsons, who not only knew what he was playing, but had a basic studio set up in his student digs. ‘Creating music was a bit of a black art,’ Cunningham remembers. “There was a curtain and I couldn’t see how it was made on the other side.” Parsons not only let him in and showed him the basics, when he went travelling he sold him all his kit for 200 quid.
Soon after, Darren moved to London. The PFA (Professional Footballers Association) was running a grant programme for young players whose careers had been finished by injury and as a result, they funded his place on one of the first degree courses in Recording Arts. Which was when the partying started. “I was clean living before this point. Total fitness. I had periods where I didn’t make music at all as I didn’t have the money. I ended up buying synthesisers instead of paying tuition fees.” The result of this was a complete submersion in the dance subcultures of the capital city as well as a crash course in production. “I just got stuck in, from a practical, experimental viewpoint. Never used a metronome. That’s how my style developed.”
The result of all this wasn’t just the birth of Actress but of Werkdiscs, originally a club night with some friends, which became a label in time for the first Actress release in 2004. The label went on to discover and release some of the most widely talked-about artists of the emerging bass generation, namely Lukid, Disrupt and Zomby. As well as running the label, Actress remixed Various Productions, wrote for the seminal techno imprint Soma Records, put out singles and EPs through Prime Numbers and Nonplus and released the ‘Splazsh’ and ‘R.I.P’ albums on Honest Jons, the British independent record label jointly created and founded by Damon Albarn. He also travelled with Albarn to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to record ‘Kinshasa One Two,’ which was released by Warp in 2011.
One of the preeminent and most singular voices in UK electronic music, since 2012 he has run his label in conjunction with Ninja Tune, releasing ‘Ghettoville’ in 2014, a record described as “inscrutable, unsettling and utterly unique” (Uncut). An epilogue poem written for the press release to Ghettoville led people to believe that Cunningham had retired. This in turn led him to conceptualize his new work as ‘Giving power back to identity.’
Now he returns with a new album and a new music system – “AZD” (pronounced “Azid”). An artist who has always preferred to make music than to talk about it, in “AZD” he has achieved another remarkable landmark, one which is as resistant to interpretation as it is demanding of it.
In addition to his recorded work, Actress has been photographed by Wolfgang Tillmans, and the late celebrated photographer Lord Snowden. He has worked collaboratively on projects with White Cube artist Eddie Peake, Mehdi Lacoste, Dan Emmerson and Belgian visual artist Pierre Debusschere, as well as fronting campaigns for Fashion brands Acne and Cav Empt, during which he has performed sell out shows at The Barbican Center and Tate Modern London, Sonar Tokyo and Berghain Berlin.
Cunningham is currently preparing a new live show, to be debuted at Convergence Village Underground on March 24th. Presented as AZD, Cunningham says it “will be a test frame for linking circuits using various forms of language — Midi globalised language, Lyrical language, Tikal Graffiti code and various other Synthesiser language — to create one intelligent musical instrument called AZD, if successful it will produce the first translucent, non-soluble communication sound pill synergised through impressionistic interpretations of technological equipment. This is the music vitamin of the Metropolis.”
It’s an album which logically sums complexity with elegance, and diverts non logical linguistic tanks through the dispersion and subversion of ghetto gothic cut up technology.
Described by Cunningham as “Non dance based civilian mind groove, mapped to an external soul beyond the collapsing black hole…Music is chaos R.I.P Music”
Founder of Droid Recordings and co-founder of Droid Behavior. I make noise and sometimes organize it in semi recognizable patterns.
Drumcell was born as Moe Espinosa in Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley. Far away from the glamour and glitter of Hollywood, he cut his teeth growing up in a vibrant, culturally diverse neighborhood that still breeds inspiration for his work. San Gabriel Valley is also where he and the Raíz brothers, Vangelis and Vidal, met and founded Droid Behavior in the early 2000s which lead to the infamous Interface warehouse series and lauded techno label Droid Recordings.
A classically trained musician in his youth, Moe came to circulate around the Noise, Punk and Industrial scene, playing guitar and singing in various bands until he discovered the early ‘90s L.A. rave scene. That was when he got in touch with some of the heroic synthesizers of techno’s early years. His enthusiasm for those synthetic sounds lead to a career as a Product Specialist at Native Instruments and to independent musician and engineer work across Los Angeles.
By then, Moe was chuffed to pursue his own productions. When he handed out his first self-produced, self-pressed vinyls at the Detroit Electronic Music Festival in 2001, he heard them being played from the festival stages the very next day. Since then, he has released original productions or remixed tracks on DROID, CLR, Electric Deluxe, Torque, Silent Steps, Blank Code, Ibadan, Detroit Underground, and much more.
Drumcell explores and discovers the analogue world as much as the digital world of music production, to finally combine them into his very own raw, suspenseful and hypnotic style. Influenced by a myriad of music as well as science fiction and machines, he has developed an addiction to analog synthesis which has led to ceaseless experiments in his studio in search of new, mind-expanding sounds. As one of the most esoteric techno artists in North America, his sound disregards genre limitations and is everything but conventional techno.
This style has caught the attention of many of the world’s top techno jocks, with strong track support from the likes of Luke Slater, Speed J, and Chris Leibing. This style has also reached numerous prestigious international clubs and festivals. From Berlin ́s techno mecca Berghain to the main stage of The Movement in Detroit to North American nightclubs like Output and Stereo to festivals across Europe, Latin America, Japan and Australia - Drumcell’s sound can be heard around the world.
Sound savant, underground ambassador, and techno
wunderkind are three ways to describe DJ + producer PILO.
Since the birth of his musical project, the Los Angeles
native has been intent on bringing techno to the masses as
an advocate of the genre in the USA and beyond. With past
releases on Turbo Recordings, collaborations with Sinden,
Justin Jay, Harvard Bass, and most recently Boys Noize, PILO
has since become a integral member of the BNR family.
After embarking on a world tour in celebration of Boysnoize
Records' 10th anniversary, 2015 proved to be both a busy and
successful year for the producer. "Cerebral" was PILO's
collaborative contribution to Boys Noize's album Strictly
Raw, a track also used as the title theme for HARD Summer
Music Festival the same year.
Since November 2015 in collaboration with The Well L.A.,
PILO's curious brand of techno anarchy has been pulsating
through the city at his monthly SUBSTANCE party, boasting
impressive lineups with the likes of Boys Noize, Salva,
ADEN, Escor Krist, Deapmash, and L-Vis 1990 in addition to
residents Dean Grenier & Hej Fund of Sister City.
These, among many of his latest techno endeavors have thus
proved his affinity to multi-faceted, no-holds-barred, and
unforgiving sounds. PILO's ever-evolving approach to techno
has never ceased to provide us with some conversant insight
into the darker sides of the dancefloor, leaving his
listeners excited for what's more to come.