Fri, Mar 27, 2009 - Page 15 News List

THE VINYL WORD

By Tom Leeming

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Earworm returns tonight for a party at The Wall (這牆) showcasing minimal techno from prodigious producer and DJ John Selway.

Though not a household name, Selway is a legend in this genre and has been producing and deejaying since the early 1990s.

Since its first party in February of last year, Earworm has built up a horde of appreciative fans; there is no better place to be tonight to experience the latest choice techno cuts.

“What was known as minimal techno or house in the past is now mostly anything but,” Washington, DC-born Selway told the Vinyl Word in an e-mail interview earlier this week. “[It is] more than minimal in the sense of ‘less is more’ ... It has become very rich in complex rhythm, sound and melody.”

A classically trained violinist from the age of 4, Selway’s style bridges genres such as Italo disco, electro, old-school house and, of course, minimal, where he found his niche.

“I’m in no way a music snob or purist,” said Selway, now in his early 30s. “I think there is no really bad style of music ... It all has a place and purpose, somewhere there is someone who understands or enjoys it. I was fortunate to have a classical training and rather than limiting how I comprehend music I think it helped me understand everything even more.”

Selway began his affair with electronica while in a band named Chaotic Sound Matrix when in university, worked with Deep Dish in the early 1990s and made his name in minimal with Oliver Chesler under the moniker Disintegrator not long after.

He is best known for his partnership with Christian Smith and together they took minimal to the next level, most noticeably with stunning techno track Total Departure, which was released early last year.

“There’s a real balance between our contributions,” said Selway. “Also, we’re not at all afraid to challenge each other; we’ll sometimes have good natured arguments about creative decisions. The back and forth results in an outcome greater than the sum of its parts, I think.”

Although making and playing harder-edged techno with Smith, Selway works eclectically. The trend of overlapping of genres is “a really great thing that, in the last couple of years, I attribute mostly to the big hype of ‘minimal’ and before that, even the ‘electroclash’ hype as well,” he said. “It was like an equalizer, bringing disparate scenes close together, mixing genres, and bringing in new generations of fans.”

“The influence of electronic dance music production has been felt in all areas of popular music from hip-hop to rock and everything else,” said Selway. “And now there is dance music that in the last decade or two would have been considered experimental abstract rhythmic noise that now has become completely normal and widespread.”

Moving with the times, Selway has embraced modern deejaying technology, but not Serato.

“At heart I’m a vinyl DJ, it’s how I started,” said Selway. But now, “I use Native Instruments’ Traktor Scratch Pro, which I find to be the best interface for performance, and the best audio quality compared to other digital DJ systems I’ve heard.”

Selway is working on a fresh direction. “Music that is deeper and more melodic,” he said. “I’m trying to find a new sound that combines elements of my past with what inspires me now.”

At Earworm tonight, Selway will be serving up “a mix of techno, tech house and minimal styles, from deeper to quite heavy ... Lately, I’m enjoying some groovier tribal rhythms, a bit of house here and there mixed in, but definitely with a futuristic, techno edge overall.”

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