Local electronic artist Jordan Snodgrass says he has a problem with the whole concept of celebrity DJs. Paul Oakenfold has reached rock star status by mixing other people's music. The British DJ known for headlining raves was just awarded his own recording contract from Maverick Records. Next Wednesday, 4th & B says it expects a sellout crowd for its $40-per-person dance event featuring DJs John Digweed and Sasha. Snodgrass says those DJs are getting $20,000 each for appearing at that show.
"We're against that. The DJs jump up and down like they're rock stars. They do that because they have to make people think that they are actually doing something.... Anyone who knows anything about rhythm can match beats together."
Snodgrass is staging an electronic alternative show on the same night at the Juke Joint Café. It is hosted by Imputor?, the local record label he cofounded that is dedicated to artists who aren't afraid of technology. "We're an anti-DJ label."
Imputor? was launched two years ago by Snodgrass and high school friend Darrin Wiener, a.k.a. Plastic Phantom. Snodgrass says computer-equipped bedrooms are to electronic artists what garages were to rock bands.
Trash 80 is one of the artists appearing at the Imputor? showcase on Wednesday. "He's leading a lo-fi music revolution," explains Snodgrass. "He takes supposedly obsolete technology like old Nintendo games and opens them up and rewires the circuitry. He wrote his own software for it."
Also appearing Wednesday is Gideon Marker of San Diego, who uses the stage name Sonic Wallpaper. Marker puts midi "buttons" on the dance floor, allowing fans to trigger prerecorded samples and add them to the performance.
"Our music is not danceworthy. Dance music kind of reduces itself to the lowest common denominator. The whole idea behind dance music is if you have a 4/4 beat, people will like it. But if you go to a dance club, people aren't there to listen to music. They are there to dance. Our calling is more with jazz than with dance music."
Also appearing Wednesday is "digital voyeur" Spacewürm, who has released four records featuring samples from real phone conversations.
-- Ken Leighton