Bubblin' Up: SFV Acid
- Words: Lainna Fader
California's much-maligned San Fernando Valley is primarily known by Angelinos for two things: strip malls and pornography. It's a total shithole, Los Angeles' Jersey City, they argue. But maybe the Valley isn't the cultural wasteland that Hollywood hipsters make it out to be—after all, that stretch of land bounded by the Santa Monica and the San Gabriel Mountains has produced a few wildly talented weirdos, including Paul Thomas Anderson, Flying Lotus, No Age's Dean Spunt and Randy Randall, and now, SFV Acid.
"I wanted to represent the Valley in some sort of light," Zane Reynolds (a.k.a. SFV Acid) recently told Scion Dance Zine. "I just wanna make something that's fairly interesting, and I want the Valley to be a part of it."
The 23-year-old DJ/producer started experimenting with funk-infused acid-house beats in 2007 after discovering vinyl while still in high school. A couple of years later, he was making waves with his self-released Get Laid!. A sexy, smooth four-track CD-R of "100% West Coast cruzzers to make you and your loved one shed creams," the release came with an easy how-to scrawled across the hand-drawn, black-and-white cover. (Step 1: Find a girl. Step 2: Plop in the CD. Step 3: Let things roll.)
"I was just making noises in the beginning," Reynolds says. But his early lo-fi acid explorations quickly earned him a following in the burgeoning electronic funk scene in Los Angeles. Soon, MPC, 303, and 808 in hand, he was performing live and DJing all over the city.
Reynolds' first regular gig was at Japanese jazz club Dinner House M, a legendary after-hours bar situated on a quiet stretch of Temple Street overlooking the 101 freeway. M was the Eastside's worst kept secret; the club stayed open until four in the morning, racking up liquor-license infractions to keep the party going after the city-mandated last call. In early 2010, Reynolds linked up with Ashland Mines (a.k.a. Total Freedom), co-founder of the (now-defunct) weekly Wildness party and a regular at M, to launch a new Wednesday night weekly there called Grown.
One night at M, Reynolds met Dean Spunt, drummer/vocalist of LA-based noise punk band No Age. "We started talkin', and he's a Valley boy and I'm a Valley boy and he was into the shit and we just got down," Reynolds says. Spunt signed Reynolds to his label Post Present Medium—home to releases from Best Coast, Mika Miko, and Abe Vigoda—and put out SFV Acid's first vinyl release, New West Coast, a funkier, chilled-out, six-song 12-inch EP in March 2011.
"Zane plays music and lives his life with the no-bullshit attitude I admire and respect," Spunt says. "His music is fresh and intelligently crafted—both things that I look for in artists I choose to collaborate on the label with." They both also think of their art as more than just music—both SFV Acid and No Age have managed to grow their own brands by creating strong visual identities, too.
Home to some of the best underground house and dance talent in LA, Grown naturally attracted dance-music enthusiast Amanda Brown of LA Vampires and 100% Silk. SFV Acid soon became the next Silkie, dropping his 12-inch Grown EP in February.
Reynolds continued to DJ; Los Angeles-based non-profit internet radio station Dublab had begun booking more weekly live shows and gave Reynolds a spot on the schedule. Last September, he and Suzanne Kraft, his friend and fellow resident at Dublab's Hyperion Tavern Italo-disco night Let Him In, launched a Friday-morning show called 2Daddies Radio.
But the show didn't last long—Reynolds said he jumped ship in February after finding out that his co-host was dating his ex-girlfriend. "I didn't even fucking like doing that shit anyway," he claims. "Internet radio is fucking bullshit. I'll do another show, but it's just all so mediocre that it's a little boring." (Suzanne Kraft still hosts 2Daddies Radio with different guests every week.)
These days, Reynolds doesn't DJ as frequently, and his live performances are few and far between. But that could change soon—his audience in Japan is growing rapidly, so he's hoping to make it overseas in the near future. "They're the only people that want to buy the music," he explains to me. "Because they're beautiful, unlike American culture. We're the laziest culture right now—the laziest of any Western fucked-up culture, we're all going downhill hard. But they're very energetic about the music."
With fewer live shows on his plate, Reynolds has been able to focus on other efforts—after remixing Fur for UNO and Blondes for RVNG Intl., he released his debut full-length LP via PPM in June. Simply called #2, the album is a retrospective of songs he self-released on hand-painted, hand-drawn tapes back in high school some five years ago.
Like famous freak Harmony Korine, who considered his film Trash Humpers the type of VHS tape you'd find buried in the dirt somewhere (or "shoved up the asshole of a dead mule, or maybe stuffed in the guts of one of the Jonas Brothers"), Reynolds was interested in less conventional means of distribution; the original incarnation of #2 was scattered across the Valley, dumped in a handful of random spots like Pierce Community College and In and Out Burger, leaving fate to decide whether those sounds would find an audience.
"I just thought it was interesting—it's free, and if someone's willing to take it and actually listen to it, that's a big move on their part," he says.
Psyched on those adventurous old high-school tapes, Spunt excavated and released them on virgin vinyl, giving them the kind of proper release Reynolds had been waiting for for nearly half a decade. "We felt it was important and vital to release as an album at this point in his career showing his earlier prolific work," Spunt says. "I've never tried to push [my music] here—I don't fucking do that," Reynolds says. "I just share it or release it, and if it's meant to be heard, it will be heard. It doesn't need to be forced anywhere—it just needs to be there."
"I'm just gonna keep making some more stuff, just hang around in the Valley," he says. "I'm just gonna keep trying to kick it up harder."
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