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In 5 Sets
David Siska is the co-host of Sonic Sunset, a globally acclaimed mix show dedicated to connecting eras and blurring lines between genres in electronic music. After DJing for over a decade on the airwaves and in the sweaty lofts and clubs of Chicago, David has continued his musical mission in San Francisco, where he weaves varied sets culled from the best of his deep musical archives. A record from his Remnant Records label is featured as the first track in his mix.
The Great Traitor - The Great Traitor (Remnant)
Jeff Pietro & Israel Vines - Depth - Disintegrate (Borrowed Language)
John F. - Stone Cold (Exhibit)
Exium - Untitled - Expect Nothing (Tsunami)
Basic Soul Unit - Speak [Shed Remix] (Dolly)
Edge Of Motion - Del Motimiento - Motionz Beyond (Djax)
Mark Ashken - Roots Dyed Dark [Skream Remix] (Leftroom)
Millie - Sample Clearance (Daphne)
Xhin - Foreshadowed [Dadub Remix] (Stroboscopic Artefacts)
Leo Anibaldi - Fusion 1 - Aeon (ACV)
Autechre - Piezo - Amber (Warp)
Autocreation - Caught Short (Op-Art)
Diversion Group - All Boys / No Girls - Playground Procedure (Downwards)
Square - Obtuse Corner (F Communications)
Exos - Listen To My Voice - My Home Is Sonic (AE)
Marcel Dettman - Lattice (MDR)
Perceptrons - Distance (Switch)
Seofon - Locatha - Process (Visible)
Polson & Ruskin - Untitled - Institute For The Future (Surface)
Shifted - Coax - Crossed Paths (Mote Evolver)
5 Questions Interview:
1) You are originally from the Midwest, what was your earliest memory of electronic music, who were the names in that region that began catching your attention? What about today, have you seen any noteworthy artists in the last few years that stand out?
I'm originally from Pittsburgh, where my earliest memory of electronic music was from radio. Top 40 radio in the 1980s had a remarkable amount of synth-driven music - Newcleus, Midnight Star, Shannon, and the other electro-oriented acts that made the radio, along with a bit of new wave like Depeche Mode and Human League. This wasn't so much an entry point into electronic music as much as this is what top 40 was at that time. Once I started listening to alternative radio, my friends and I became infatuated with New Order, around the time that they had put out the Substance 1987 anthology - which we listened to endlessly. We started hunting for new wave 12"s as high school seniors, making trips to Eide's, Collectors 12-Inch, Record-Rama Sound Archives, Jerry's and other stores that were around at that time. Through alternative radio, we started branching out to college radio - and I still remember the first time I heard The Normal's "Warm Leatherette". I was flipping through the FM dial, and came across this song - it was the most alien-sounding music I had heard up until that point...the coldness, the dispassionate vocals, the repetitiveness - it turned the pop music formula on its head for me, and opened the mental door to a lot of experimental music we would discover later.
I was around Pittsburgh during the summers when I was in college, and locally a few names cropped up as DJs - Dieselboy, whom we heard through his radio show on WRCT, the Techno Terrorists who ran a radio mix show (also on WRCT) every Friday night for 4 or 5 hours, and Deadly Buda who was playing hard techno at that time - which sounded harsh and alien compared to the other music we were exposed to. (The Edge of Motion track on this mix was on a tape of his I bought from his shop in 1993. He referred to the music as Belgian hardcore although I know now that basically none of it was from Belgium. His store had single copies of about 10-20 white label 12"s and that was it for records - a very high barrier to entry for someone like me with no cash and at the time no broader knowledge of dance music.) There were other names around the area at that time, but all of this was prior to the internet being so prevalent, so a lot of people making music locally went unnoticed. I remember going to a night with 5-10 people where the guy who had produced Euphoria - I Like Noise was DJing UK 'ardcore. The guy was from Monroeville, this suburb of Pittsburgh where we used to go to the mall, he's produced this national rave hit, and here he is DJing in a little dive in Oakland (where the University of Pittsburgh is located).
In the last few years, I've started following a few artists - Kassem Mosse, Demdike Stare, Andy Stott (the Millie track on this mix is Miles, also from the Modern Love crew), Anton Zap, Donato Dozzy, Pink Playground.
2) When did you relocate to San Francisco, and has it shifted your vision of electronic music?
I relocated to SF in 2006. I had been in Chicago for 12 years before that, and had visited SF multiple times - so I already knew a bit about its music scene, although there was a pretty big difference between the dot-com era and the point in time at which I arrived here. That said, being out here hasn't affected the way I see electronic music too significantly. The loss of seasons means that I don't get into those certain moods that inspire music - like the first snowfall, the summer thunderstorms - but the landscape itself here lends itself to musical moods in ways that Chicago doesn't.
3) You run an underground label called Remnant Records, what can you tell us about Remnant? Any releases we can set our sites on?
Remnant was born as a personal experiment in curation. I had heard a compelling track from an anonymous Chicago-based artist with whom I was friends, a track that may not have otherwise seen a vinyl release - and I set about to release it in a way that combines material, design, and sound in a very deliberately executed package. When Robert Henke (Monolake) agreed to contribute a remix, that settled any question in my mind about whether to make the investment. When new sounds come across my radar that make sense to release in this same way, there will be future Remnant releases.
4) This is a loaded question for an avid record collector like yourself, but what are your three 'desert island' 12" records?
I can barely pick three Basic Channel records as 'desert island' records...but that's a good place to start. Basic Channel - Quadrant Dub would be one. The record's two tracks may be variations on a theme, but it's a subaquatic excursion of epic proportions through the sound that made these guys famous. Pure, ever-changing, hypnotic, and if I'm on a desert island, this is what I need. Through the fog of this record you can hear snippets of vocals from Round One - I'm Your Brother, and that feeling conjures up memories of so many positive musical experiences from Chicago and beyond. Next up is Boards of Canada - Hi Scores. This one has the classic BoC sound in spades - including the amazing Everything You Do Is A Balloon, and the 80s funk slo-mo of Nlogax. Third, I'd say Pub - Derail. This artist is undeservedly obscure, as is the record, clear orange vinyl in a plain brown sleeve with no information other than the run-out groove. The music is beat-driven ambience - gauzy, abstract, immersive, ideal for getting lost in sound.
5) What's Sonic Sunset about, how might one tune in? What about seeing you play live, are there any spots in San Francisco we can catch you at?
Sonic Sunset was born in 1999 as an FM radio mix show on WNUR in Chicago every Friday night, a collaboration between myself and Matt MacQueen, one of the deepest Detroit music aficionados out there. At the onset of the show, he was already way into the roots of Chicago house and Detroit techno - the music that the originators of those styles were hearing that influenced them - while I was busy digging for early house records. Our show has always been aligned on the musical axis of Chicago / Detroit and we branch out from those starting points, bringing together a range of styles and eras to trace a path through dance music history. Matt had the idea to start posting our shows online at SonicSunset.com in 2003 - and publicizing those mixes led to a bit of attention from the UK, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and other places. When I relocated to San Francisco, we decided to end the radio show, but we continue to post new mixes periodically. Not having to prepare for a radio show every week means that mixes take a lot longer to produce; I tend to agonize over every selection and transition, since I don't just have a handful of records to choose from; I've got my entire collection. After Matt relocated to the Bay Area, we've done several really fun tag-team sets - in particular, we played at a yearly camp-out party called Plunge near Willits and ended up weaving a great story with our set. I don't have any regular gigs at the moment, but I'm really into the Deep Crates monthly - every event they do is a celebration of the various corners of dance music history.