Sweat and tears in the club.
In 2017, blending genres, whether in productions or DJ sets, is old news. In many areas of club music, playing multiple styles is simply the done thing, something audiences expect or even demand. But it's worth remembering that just a few years ago this wasn't the case. When Kingdom (Ezra Rubin) and Prince William began Fade To Mind in 2011, most people considered genres in broad, delineated terms—grime, r&b, house and so on. But, along with its sister label Night Slugs, the New York party GHE20G0TH1K and others, Fade To proposed something different: platforms where the breadth of an artist's tastes could be expressed simultaneously.
In our recent podcast on the so-called experimental club scene, these crews were continually name-checked for shaping the attitudes of the current generation of club artists. Rubin and the producers on Fade To Mind seemed to achieve this through an acute understanding of regional sounds—ballroom, grime, Jersey club etc.—and an affinity for the immediacy of pop and r&b. It was all there on "Bank Head," the opener on Vertical XL, Rubin's first EP on the label. The track featured a new talent called Kelela, who gave a towering vocal performance over an unnamable type of beat. In a slightly different reality, "Bank Head" could have been a dance floor smash and and a pop hit.
In places, the same is true of Rubin's debut album, Tears In The Club, which dropped last week on Fade To Mind. The dance floor is there in spirit, but Rubin mostly shifts the emphasis onto his vocal collaborators SZA, Syd and Shacar. "The album is a lot more melodic than my previous projects," he says. On Rubin's RA podcast, we get the other side of the coin. Vocals feature heavily but the beats are always bubbling. Needless to say, the mix features the best in a countless number of genres.
What have you been up to recently?
Watching too much news and staying up late making music. Been locked away making this album, so I'm ready to peek my head out.
How and where was the mix recorded?
I made it at my studio in Koreatown. I pulled a few blends from a recent CDJ session but most were created in software. The past few weeks have been turbulent and busy, so I have been working sunset to sunrise, living off of Wingstop and protein shakes.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I'm preparing for hitting the road again, so I felt the urge to make something more high energy. The idea was to make a euphoric and intense club mix, uptempo and broken, with a short chopped r&b interlude in the middle.
It feels like your album has been in the making for some time. How did you find the process of writing a full-length?
Writing was the best part. I felt a real release of stress in the process, and it was cool to bond with some new vocalists. The album is a lot more melodic than my previous projects.
Where does the title Tears In The Club come from?
The first time I bounced the title track that was the name I saved it under, and it stuck. I think a lot about emotion in the club and feelings of safety vs. peril in that space. The idea of venting tears of joy or rage while also being pushed physically and mentally by bass and noise and the chaotic environment of the club.
What are you up to next?
My tour starts this week with my record release parties in Chicago, Boston and NY. While I'm traveling I'm going to finish up some new vocal material and alternate edits of the album I've been working on, and will hopefully be getting those out asap.