If you’re reading XLR8R you probably already own ’nuff albums on XL or Domino, Def Jux and Lex artists have repeatedly rocked your headphones, and you know what’s coming out on Minus or Stones Throw before we do. So this year–our seventh time loving on labels–we focus on labels we’ve (mostly) never quizzed before. For the next six weeks, we'll catch up with brash new dancefloor igniters Fool’s Gold and Dress 2 Sweat, techno champions Mobilee and Traum, and the dubstep damage squad: Hyperdub, Tectonic, Hot Flush. We'll revel in cosmic disco from Ghent and New Jersey, and applaud local pride from Los Angeles to Dublin. And since some of the labels we love are more obscure than, say, Sub Pop or DFA, we'll feature a new artist each week from one of the selected labels. This week talk to Fools Gold's irreverent Canadians, Jokers of the Scene, who've somehow made trance cool again. Vivian Host and Ken Taylor
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Clever rap + catchy remixes + cute artwork for the new-gen urban dancefloor.
Founders: DJs A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs, along with resident art genius Dust La Rock and life coach Dave1
Location: Brooklyn, baby
Best-known artists: Kid Sister, A-Trak, Kid Cudi
Funny story: All the really good stories will get us in trouble. What happens in Canada stays in Canada.
Favorite label: Polo
Happy-hour spot: You can find Dust dropping BMX knowledge at East River Bar, right down the street in Williamsburg. Odds are the rest of us are ripping open an Emergen-C at home.
Label mascot: Sammy Bananas’ mustache.
Biggest disaster: Five giant boxes of Fool’s Gold x Dim Mak tour shirts arriving in New York after we’re already halfway done with the tour.
Upcoming: Debut singles from Treasure Fingers, LA Riots, Nacho Lovers, and Trackademicks, Kid Sister’s album, a label remix CD through Scion, temporary tattoos...
Big party personalities blur the lines between dancehall, blog house, B-more, and more.
Location: A former mausoleum at 12th and Spring Garden in Philadelphia
Best-known artists: Diplo, Bonde Do Role, Blaqstarr & Rye Rye
Funny story: After a Blaqstarr performance you can find him on the floor moving watches and even sedans from Baltimore.
Favorite labels: Soul Jazz, Pop Art
Office happy-hour spot: It’s always happy hour at the office but we spend a lot of time on the corner, too.
Office mascot: “Snitch” the magical turtle and Squiggly Dancer Guys 1 and 2.
Biggest label disaster: Starting it!
Upcoming releases: A Santogold x Diplo mixtape, EPs from Crookers and Boy 8-Bit, and Paper Route Gangstaz’s Fear and Loathing in Huntsvegas.
Longtime Berlin party people hold it down for the new-wave minimal movement.
Founders: Anja Schneider and Ralf Kollmann
Location: The Mitte area of Berlin, Germany
Best-known artists: Pan-Pot, Sebo K, Anja Schneider
Funny story: Guess who this is: “Naaaa, und? Alles klar? Wie geht’s? Alles fit?” And who says this: “Ela, man!” Little hint. It’s not Dolce and Gabbana. Send the correct answer to Mobilee and you’ll get a special surprise package.
Favorite label: We’re pretty tight with Leena Music.
Happy-hour spot: The little pizza restaurant around the corner. We always order the Pizza Segantini and the waitress always gets nervous when we have some “famous” DJ friends with us. And the Lexington shop on our street has the best American cheesecake on earth served by the coolest American “dude.” Mobilee is getting fat!
Label mascot: Vincenzo! Sometimes he takes care of the whole office and studio complex eight days a week.
Biggest disaster: Anja’s birthday party ended up at a private apartment with 40 people. I think the guy had to move out a month later…
Upcoming: A new GummiHz 12” this month, Marcin Czubala’s first album in years next month, followed by a huge label party and new stuff from Sebo K and Pan-Pot.
Clever boom-bap and quality reggae from Dublin’s one-stop hip-hop shop.
Founders: Olan and Splyce.
Location: Temple Bar area of Dublin, Ireland
Best-known artists: Heralds of Change (Mike Slott and Hudson Mohawke), Knowl3dge and Lenko, New Jack Hustle
Favorite labels: Cash Money Records–independent as uhf! And currently bugging out on the Numero comp of Detroit’s Big Mack label.
Happy-hour spot: Mulligans on Poolbeg Street. The best Dublin boozer fi old man pints with no music!
Label mascot: Dublin graf writer Cist. He’s grown up in All City–been here since day one!
Upcoming: Our 7-inch beat series continues with U.S. heads doing 45s, the Heralds of Change LP, and 12”s from our U.S. vs. Europe project.
Norwegian eclecticism, from ambient collage to future folk to leftfield disco trips.
Founder: Joakim Haugland
Location: Oslo, Norway
Best-known artists: Lindstrøm, Kim Hiorthøy, Bjørn Torske
Funny story: One of our first bands, Epikurs Euforie, had many strange ideas. One of the members wore all his clothes at the same time when going on tour instead of packing a bag, and then took them off as the days went by. They also tried to hypnotize the audience with a giant pendulum.
Favorite label: SST in the ’80s and the early years of Rough Trade were pretty magical.
Happy-hour spot: Bar Robinet. It’s run by our friend David. He keeps a copy of our Paal Nilssen Love and Mats Gustafsson record I Love It When You Snore behind the bar with a note on it that says: “Don’t throw away. For use against bad people.”
Biggest disaster: Thisyear at SXSW we missed a Motörhead show because we didn’t understand that 3 p.m. meant during the day. That was pretty bad.
Upcoming: Lindstrøm’s Where You Go I Go Too, Tussle’s Cream Cuts, Serena-Maneesh’s S-M Backwards, and The Meanderthals’ Desire Lines.
Jokers of the Scene
The latest entry on the scene some have nefariously called “blog house” are Canadians Linus “DJ Booth” Booth, 36, and Chris “Chameleonic” Macintyre, 27. For the last five years, the self-deprecating duo–one likes hardcore punk and greyhounds, the other embroidered jeans and hot tea–have been known for throwing Ottawa’s best monthly, Disorganised (it’s not really disorganized). Now the world is beginning to recognize them instead by their production alias, Jokers of the Scene (a.k.a. JOTS).
The pair of “mad music nerds” met in a record shop Booth used to own, so it’s not surprising their road-trip playlists run the gamut “from Brian Wilson to Godflesh to Arthur Russell to Alter Ego,” and they count techno pioneers like CJ Bolland and LFO’s Mark Bell as influences. Nonetheless, the predominate sound of many of their recent tracks is ’90s dance. A remix of Nacho Lovers’ “Go On” cuts up house diva samples with hollow Nightcrawlers-esque bass, while a take on South Rakkas Crew’s “Mad Again” disembodies ragga chat and pastes it over a panoply of skyward-stabbing synths and squelching key arpeggios even Paul Van Dyk could appreciate.
And then there’s “Baggy Bottom Boys,” a strobes-and-lasers rave up whose summer-of-’92 breakdown is full of Ecstasy pianos and crowds cheering. “The tune practically wrote itself and it really defined the JOTS sound,” says Booth.
With no less than eight releases issuing forth in the coming months, including remixes for Muscles, Destroy Disco, and Canadian homies Thunderheist, there are plenty of directions for JOTS’ sound to grow. But don’t expect the pair to get Oakenfold-size egos quite yet. “We came from a scene where not too much was going on in the first place, so we never really had any expectations of this growing beyond what it started as,” says Booth. “Any successes are always a pleasant surprise.” Tyra Bangs