As FORMAT-REC's A&R and FORMAT.FM's Co-Director & Resident DJ BRENDA gears up for a Techno beatdown in Denver on September 09th, headlining her first of many deep underground warehouse gigs in the city, Denver Promoters "Primeval" take the time to sit down with Brenda for a very interesting read on her rise up the ranks in the U.S. Techno arena.
PRIMEVAL: How did you get into this music? How long have you been into Techno specfically?
BRENDA: "I went to my first rave at 14 years old, in a Chicago warehouse back in 1996, and have been hooked since. Initially, I was drawn to Chicago House. Justin Long was my favorite DJ back then, always jackin' behind the decks with his contagious energy. I was a raver, fully embracing the PLUR (Peace Love Unity Respect) culture, Q pants, candy bracelets, and all. Haha! I loved how much soul House music has. To this day, I will still lose my shit if someone drops "Keep Pushin" by Boris Dlugosch. I also really loved the sound of Latin House, with the live horns and Latin drum beats. I played saxaphone in the Jazz bands growing up, and we would play sambas, bossa novas, etc., so hearing the two worlds mesh together so perfectly, House and Latin Jazz, was incredible. I really enjoyed Jungle and oldskool Drum and Bass in my raver days, too. I was exposed to Techno early on as well, but it was really two tracks, Jeff Mills' "Bells" and Green Velvet's "Flash" that sparked my Techno obsession, and quickly converted me from House enthusiast. I loved Adam Beyer, Marco Corola, and Chris Liebing (sadly, this was back when they had a MUCH harder sound), The Advent, and lots of the stuff coming from Detroit, of course."
PRIMEVAL: Growing up in Chicago - you had options to visit Detroit and Minneapolis while younger - did you venture to those cities or did you stay in Chicago for all your music needs?
BRENDA: "My first Detroit experience was the first DEMF (Detroit Electronic Music Festival) or what's now called Movement, back in 2000. I've returned to that festival many, many times over the years. I haven't ever been to a show in Minneapolis, which definitely needs to change! System and Communion parties are on my Techno bucket list and need to happen in my lifetime."
PRIMEVAL: During the years of 2002-2009 most of the country delt with an ending of warehouse events, did this happen in Chicago too?
BRENDA: "Defintely, I think even prior to 2002. As I said, I started going to raves as a teenager back in 1996 and by 1999/2000 all of the warehouse parties had moved into the clubs. I was PISSED because I was too young to go to the 21+ clubs and was too scared to try and use a fake ID. All of my older friends were going to Crobar and RedNo5, and still to this day talk about how fantastic those parties were."
PRIMEVAL: Around what year did the Techno and/or combination with the underground scene revive in Chicago?
BRENDA: "Tough question. I think there has always been a Techno presence in Chicago- it just a moved around from raves, to clubs, to afters, etc. The underground scene in Chicago over the past couple of years has really blown up though. It's an exciting time for Chicago Techno at the moment."
PRIMEVAL: Who are some of the other Techno-focused crews operating in Chicago right now?
BRENDA: "Besides Format, there are a bunch... Noisefloor, Oktave, IHeartTechno, UndergroundChi, Collider Labs, Obscure, and then my favroite Chicago clubs, Smart Bar, Primary (Primary Presents), and Spy Bar throw some pretty badass Techno shows, too."
PRIMEVAL: Chicago (obviously) is known for House - can you give us an idea of how Techno has survived/not survived over the last 10yrs there?
BRENDA: "The Techno scene in Chicago has been a steady, roller coaster ride, but the underground scene as of late is doing some pretty spectacular things."
PRIMEVAL: You have a presence in Chicago - can you tell us what you do there?
BRENDA: "Hmmm... presence is a stretch. ;-) I am A&R Director for Format Recordings and along with Mark Angel, co-produce our weekly Techno podcast, Format.FM, which airs on UK-based FNOOB Techno Radio every Saturday night. I also work with Noisefloor-Chicago, which is a collective of independent Techno labels, including Format Recordings, Chicago Jaxxx, Rezizt, WeBuildMachines, Linear, and Mastoid Collective. Our next big event is a collab with Format, Sleepwalker and Noisefloor on October 28th, 2017. We're brining Dustin Zahn and Centrific. Will be dope. Noisefloor also premiered a monthly podcast last week, which I help co-produce."
PRIMEVAL: Who are some of the major Techno artists coming to Chicago within the next 3 months?
BRENDA: "Well, in all honesty, it's hard to follow some happenings in Chicago I'm not involved with. For one, it makes me homesick and sad I won't be there. I mentioned Dustin Zahn and Centrific in October. There's another show Halloween weekend with Joey Beltram and Robert Armaini. Format and Sleepwalker Productions have something huge planned for December 15th, but we haven't released info yet, so stay tuned."
PRIMEVAL: You work with a lot of Techno artists, is the trend of them moving to Germany still a "thing"?
BRENDA: "I know a lot of Techno artists would love to live in Berlin, but personally, I haven't had friends move there."
PRIMEVAL: Besides promoting and DJing, do you see yourself expanding to other musical areas, (booking agency, production)?
BRENDA: "I will certainly be involved with throwing events in the future. The only thing keeping me from producing is finding the time since I have a very demanding career, outside of Techno. However, I'm a classicly trained musician, I play saxaphone and piano, so the musical foundation is there. Once I get over the learning curve of using software, I know it will happen."
PRIMEVAL: What events/promoters have been impressing you nationally? Internationally?
BRENDA: "Nationally, Robot Ears out of San Francisco, Droid and Omen out of L.A., System and Communion out of Minneapolis. Internationally, I'm much less versed, and mostly follow labels and artists more so than Events/promoters. I used to love CLR events."
PRIMEVAL: What Techno DJs or producers have been impressing you lately?
BRENDA: "DJs- Speedy J, DVS1, Perc, Dax J, Paula Temple. Producers - Christian Wunsch, Dax J, Developer, Oscar Mulero, Nastia Reigel, Unam Zetineb, Kwartz, H. Paul. I really love Pole Group artists and have been playing a ton of their stuff lately."
PRIMEVAL: Any last words of advice for the promoters or DJs out there?
BRENDA: "Nah- just keep Techno real."
*Check out BRENDA below... STREAM / DOWNLOAD / BANG!
Format | Format.FM | Noisefloor - Denver/Chicago