I remember five or six years ago when the kids came down in a huge pack from San Francisco. They were a bunch of Heads with some Drum’n'Bass, laptops and connections to M-Audio in their back pockets. I am not sure why they came to the east side of Los Angeles or when they all assembled into the movement they created in Voltron-like fashion, but I do know that it wasn’t a moment too soon. I had been starving in LA from the lack of any good electronic music.
The last time I had experienced it was when The Viper Room was still doing its ill-fated and totally kick ass Drum’n'Bass Tuesdays with people like Goldie and Warren G throwing down for hours on end. But it had been at least a couple of years.
My friend Girlie8, an alien android with witchy powers and Fremen-blue eyes was my in to this immigrant circuit that included people like Anon, 8fm and edIT. I would get invites from echolocation and other mailing lists to events that manifested everywhere from architectural art galleries to abandoned warehouses in Fresno. The circuit was super-mellow and felt like family in and among one another.
I kept my eyes on them as time went on and inevitably had to direct my time in other parts of the world but when I got back some of them (Josh “Ooah” Mayer, Justin Boreta, Matthew “Kraddy” Kratz, and Edward “edIT” Ma) had formed into the monstrous collaboration known as The Glitch Mob. I could almost boast that I saw the evolution of glitch in front of my very eyes.
Despite my own history making ambient music influenced by FSOL, Can and Pete Namlook, I claim absolutely no contribution to this movement, but I can say I was there. I think it had something to do with people who had the tools, the pedigree and the fact that they were making jingles, and so had hundreds if not thousands of bits of audio that they reassembled into micro-edited music-concrete. But the difference here, that made it something beyond experimental noise for the “advanced music appreciationist” was that it SLAMMED. This stuff was groovy, sexy and could stand up by anything the Neptunes could throw at you.
Which brings me to today’s MZ indie artist profile. Vapor Mache is making glitch and he’s doing it right. He confessed to being addicted to Glitch Mob’s latest podcast mix and wondered if I knew a way to link him up with them.
All I can say is, Vapor Mache won’t need my help. Keep going at it like you are, and they will find you. Here’s the interview about how Vapor Mache got to this point:
Spencer Putnam – Omaha, Nebraska native, multi-instrumentalist electronic musician.
I always have a hard time describing my music but shouldn’t. I also think it’s often kind of funny when people try to fake describing their own music by typing it in the third person so I’ll stick to the first person for now. Basically I produce and perform groove-oriented glitch and ambient electronic music under a fairly wide range of tempos. My music reflects many standard dance music sensibilities, is melodically driven and often incorporates elements of sound design, soundscapes, etc.
My music could easily get slotted in the “IDM” category but I, along with many others, try to stay away from the term as it implies other dance music isn’t intelligent which is unfortunate. For whatever it’s worth, I like loosely referring to my music as “Electronica.” (Helpful description? No?) The list of influences that could be heard in my music could go on forever but stuff I love that is listed under “recently played” in my iTunes: Björk, Boxcutter, Amon Tobin, Squarepusher, Bonobo, Glitch Mob, Ellen Allien, Aphex Twin, Múm, Richard Devine, Telefon Tel Aviv, Tipper, STS9, Modeselektor, Fela Kuti, NIN, Jackson & His Computer Band, Venetian Snares.
At this point, I don’t have an option. What I mean by that is that when I was growing up and studying music in and out of school and playing in bands, I knew I was passionate about it and through the years I had to make many decisions related to how I wanted to continue pursuing music in my life. Now, it’s not about making a decision. If I’m not composing, making beats, generating new material, I’m agitated and aching for a creative outlet. I love the process, I love the medium. I love the watching the way people/audiences interact with electronic music. It’s all fascinating and extremely fulfilling to be a part of. I had to decide at some point whether I was just into making music or obsessed with it. Found out I’m obsessed with it and that’s working out alright for me at this point.
I didn’t really listen to electronic music regularly until I was about 19 or 20. I remember Aphex Twin or Prodigy pumping through friends’ stereos when I was younger, but that’s about it. I studied at Berklee College of Music and once a couple good friends turned me onto electronic music in Boston there was really no going back. The first time I walked through Berklee’s doors I was imagining and dreaming that I would be a studio drummer one day (drums are my first instrument).
As it turned out I both burnt out on practicing drums constantly and injured my arm at the same time which accelerated my transition to laptop-based music production. Before I dove head-first into dance/electronica I was recording some tracks I wrote which featured me singing and playing guitars and bass but it was a frustrating process and nothing came out sounding like I hoped so I tossed that idea onto the backburner. Producing electronic music allows me to scratch every musical itch I have at once – arranging, instrumentation, beats, composition, flow, texture, sounds, groove, message. Boom. One package, limitless creative possibilities.
I’ve performed in galleries, bars, apartments, small clubs playing glitch, ambient, abstract/avant-garde, etc. I feel fortunate to have touched on a number of different styles in a number of different settings over the past few years but I guess I most look forward to performing in more places where I have the opportunity to really make people move. I’ve always loved dancing and hope I can extend that passion to the crowd in front of me as often as possible in the near future.
MZ: Until When?
‘Til death do us part.
Where do you want me? I’ve been moving around a lot in the past eight months so now that I’m finally settled in L.A. in ’09 I look forward to being on stage a lot more often and also look forward to doing some touring in the not-so-distant future. I spent some time performing and traveling in Germany this past summer. It’s one of the first places on my list to return to in Europe when I get the chance. Currently I’m working on my second album and hope to wrap that up within a couple months.
Find out more at: www.myspace.com/vapormache
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