Tag Archives: fade to mind

The underground kings of Fade to Mind

If Night Slugs was the finest label of 2010, a case could be made that sister label Fade to Mind wore the crown last year. While not matching the output of the prolific London imprint in quantity, Fade to Mind has made a mark by documenting the most exciting developments in American club music.

The brainchild of LA’s Kingdom and Texas producer Prince William, Fade to Mind is more than a label: it’s a collective of like-minded artists who produce club music that maintains the rough edges of its underground origins. Fade to Mind doesn’t seem interested in “mainsteaming” these cultures as much as uniting underground scenes from LA to New York and all points in between.

After releasing a limited-edition, bootleg mix CD, Fade to Mind’s first official release was the superb Timesup EP by standard bearers Nguzunguzu. The EP is an exploration of mutated bass music that oscillates between sensual and creepy. The video for standout “Water Bass Power” features the off-kilter, aquatic weirdness that defines seapunk.

New Jersey’s MikeQ has become synonymous with the the recent re-emergence and popularity of ballroom music. Fittingly, his first major release, Let It All Out, was Fade to Mind’s second. The EP is an introduction to vogue staples like the Ha beat and speakers like Kevin JZ Prodigy; it even includes a remix by genre originator Vjuan Allure. Continuing to delve into ballroom, the label just dropped a free EP from Massachusetts producer Rizzla, who, along with spinning the Ha (“Badmind Ha”), takes on tropical rave (“Psychoton”). In true ballroom style, “Dick” is a sexed up club track based on a Lil’ Kim sample that you can figure out from the title.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/03 DICK.mp3″ text=”Rizzla – Dick” dl=1]

Fade to Mind hasn’t stopped there, also releasing an EP by the label’s lone European (for now): Gremino. The Finnish producer’s Let’s Jack is a percussive, aggressive take on techno and grime. The breakbeats on “Lush” shake foundations and the midrange pulses on the title track are haunting. Rounding out the collective’s lineup are artists Total Freedom, Cedaa, Clicks & Whistles, and Fatima Al Qadiri, collaborators who will hopefully be releasing music through the label soon.

Want to hear what Fade to Mind is all about without going to their LA-based monthlies? These twin mixes from the label heads do the trick. Just rest assured you’ll be hearing more from Fade to Mind sooner than later.

[wpaudio url=”http://fadetomind.net/audio/ftm_mix_001.mp3″ text=”Prince William – Fade to Mind Mix 001″ dl=1]

An introduction to ballroom beats with genre innovator Vjuan Allure

The ballroom community is an underground culture that harks back to days when gay dance parties were strictly private affairs. But don’t let the name fool you: these functions aren’t formal waltzes in black tie, they’re LGBT catwalk performances and battle dances set to a hyper-kinetic blend of electronic beats. “The music is very dramatic, very to the point,” says DC-based DJ/producer Vjuan Allure. “You don’t have time to warm up: you get out there and bring it, and the music comes out that way. As soon as it starts, it’s already hot.”

For most people, their experience with ballroom began and ended with Madonna’s 1990 hit “Vogue.” But like all underground scenes appropriated by mainstream provocateurs, the culture lived on and continued to evolve. Ballroom is currently undergoing a renaissance, as producers and DJs like Vjuan craft tracks for the function and beyond. And it all started about a decade after Madonna’s crossover hit.

Back in 2000, Vjuan Allure was playing a ball in Detroit. He had hauled cases of vinyl from the DC suburbs for the event, but was dismayed when the host only wanted to hear six songs. This was a tipping point. Vjuan had been frustrated with the scene’s musical stagnation, i.e. balls that played the same music, function after function. Upon returning home to Beltsville, Maryland, Vjuan remixed seminal hit “The Ha Dance” by Masters at Work (the original is below). With that, the ballroom beats genre was born: music written and remixed specifically for the ballroom, and for the exciting vogue femme style in particular. “I started making hot beats, period,” says Vjuan, “and the ballroom went along for the ride.”

Vjuan Allure is the epitome of the DJ-as-world traveler. Born in Puerto Rico, he grew up between New York and Atlantic City. A dancer first, he started clubbing in New York around when he was 11 years old; with his mother traveling for business, he stayed with an aunt who was more liberal towards his nighttime activities. Despite his young age, he befriended dancers and bouncers, immersing himself in the scene. In college, he moved to Naples, Italy as part of a cultural exchange program, and his wealth of stockpiled music began his DJ career. “They wanted me to play hip hop, which is fine, but I wanted to play house,” he says. He started to build a following, but had to come back to the states as things were taking off. Almost on cue, he returned to Italy in 2002, just as his career was taking off stateside.

On the second day back in Italy, Vjuan had a revelation in the club. “That beat sounds real familiar,” he thought. “And then my voice came on.” Spinning his head in time with the record, he saw his name and realized the extent of his growing popularity. What followed has been a career as a leading figure in the re-energized ballroom scene.

Although he lives just outside of DC, Vjuan has recently found greater affinity to the music of Baltimore. Vjuan has worked with Scottie B, remixed for Unruly Records, and became a resident at Ultra Nate’s Deep Sugar party. “When I heard Bmore club, I was immediately in love with it.” Although club music isn’t played at balls, there is similarity in the hard-hitting, non-stop beats; Vjuan’s remix of “Lose Your Fvkin Mind” by Schwarz is a perfect example of this symbiosis.

After creating the ballroom beats genre over a decade ago, the underground is again breaking through. But instead of Madonna, the heralds of this crossover have been DJs like Kingdom and MikeQ and labels like Night Slugs and Fade to Mind. Vjuan provided a remix for MikeQ’s debut EP on Fade to Mind, and his remix of Bok Bok’s grimey “Silo Pass” will be released this year. His frenetic tour schedule will bring him to Japan, Sydney, London, Italy, and Miami, but rest assured, no one will be asking to hear hip hop or the same old ballroom standards: “They’re bringing me for me.”

[wpaudio url=”https://postcultural.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Vjuan Allure – Exclusive Mix for Postcultural.com.MP3″ text=”Vjuan Allure – Exclusive Mix for Postcultural” dl=1]

1. Throw Ya Hands – Vjuan Allure
2. En Na Er Gi Bounce – Vjuan Allure
3. Gurlz – Vjuan Allure
4. Getting In – Vjuan Allure
5. 10,000 Screams – Vjuan Allure
6. What Are You Lookin At – Vjuan Allure
7. Colon Loads – Vjuan Allure
8. Lose Ur Fvkin Mindz – Schwarz (The Vjuan Allure Lobotomy Mix)
9. Wanna Carry – Vjuan Allure
10. Big Nasty – Vjuan Allure