Monday, January 10, 2011

Interview with DUANE HARRIOTT (Bim Marx, Negroclash)

NYC resident Duane Harriott wears many hats within the world of dj culture and the music industry in general, be it as a promoter, deejay, producer, remixer, record store manager, etc. ... to say he is a workaholic is an understatement.

Duane built a name for himself with the highly respected NEGROCLASH events with DJ Lindsey and Prince Language which welcomed diverse talent such as DJ Red Alert, Larry Heard aka Mr. Fingers, Kurtis Mantronik and Afrika Bambaataa just to name a few.

Duane's also part of BIM MARX, a re-edit/remix project who have remixed groups such as Cubic Zirconnia's "Black & Blue" and The Phenomenal Handclap Band's "15 to 20" and have released a few hot EP's on the StillLove4Music

DISCO'S REVENGE had a chance to ask Duane a few questions...enjoy.

First off, your taste in music is pretty eclectic, where and how did you develop your ear?

It probably just comes with my namesake. Music was always a huge part of my growing up experience. My father is from Kingston Jamaica and my Mother was from Louisiana. My mother played piano, my Father is a percussionist and choir director. My Sis is a pretty accomplished Gospel and Jazz pianist and singer. My uncle Derrick is a legendary Reggae producer and my Uncle Chester is a world renowned Cabaret performer in the UK. My Father collected a ton of records and there was a lot eclectic music played in the house everything from Bob Marley and Steely Dan, to Andrae Crouch and Vivaldi.I studied the Violin and Trombone from age 5 -16 years old and picked up my music theory there. I also got involved with Deejaying at an early age. I had a radio show on a local community radio station in Lincoln, Nebraska when i was 14 years old and that continued in College. I guess what i'm trying to say is that I was blessed to have a family that exposed me to music at an early age and encouraged me to appreciate all aspects of music to some extent.

Where can one catch you spinning? Either locally in NYC, nationally or internationally?

I have 2 monthly parties that i do in NYC. One at Trophy Bar in WIlliamsburg, Brooklyn on the last Saturday of the month. The second is at Submercer in Soho on the 3rd Friday of every month. My old crew Negroclash (Prince Language, Dj Lindsey and myself) is back on the scene and we're throwin a series of reunion parties in 2011. The first one is
going down on 1/21/11. I'll probably be hittin the UK and Germany again sometime in the spring. I'll keep ya posted!!

Can you speak on your Bim Marx project? What is the inspiration behind the series?

Bim Marx consists of myself and my very good friend Jorge Velez aka Professor Genius. We were East Village drinkin and clubbin' homiess for years before we started to make music together and one day we were hangin out together and we just started to make tracks and edits to amuse ourselves and to give away to friends of ours. Jerome Derradji (Stilov4music labelhead) and I played a gig together 3 1/2 years ago and I passed him a disc of Bim Marx stuff after it was over. He got real excited about what he heard and offered to put it out.
We just want to make some raw, funky emotional shit that follows the aesthetic put forth by some of our heroes (namely Danny Krivit, Ron Hardy, Tony Humphries, Nicky Siano and Juan Atkins).
I think that at the time we started this project we felt we weren't hearing enough grits-n-gravy in the edits/nu-disco stuff that was coming out at the time. Instead of complaining, we went to work to remedy that in our own small way. The remix work we've down is markedly different from the edits though. It's not something we planned, but I'm really happy it's turning out like this.

I first became aware of you thru your Negroclash events, can you relate (to those that may not be aware) the impetus that sparked this long running event in NYC?

Ha ha ha..that party came about rather spontaneously. Around 2002, Electroclash was all of the rage in NYC.. The parties were huge happenings,but the music, in our opinion, wasn't very good. My friends Prince Language, DJ Lindsey Caldwell and myself found ourselves at one of those parties and we were being all catty, sh*t talkin it.I think we all kind of looked at each other and decided we could do better.

"Negroclash" was an inside joke amongst our friends, poking fun at the fact that there were hardly any black people at the party and that they never really played any old "Electro" there. We were wondering how you could call yourselves "Electro" anything and not play "Planet rock" or Cybotron and we'd be like "oh that's negroclash, that ain't electroclash". But then the more we talked about it, the more it seemed like a good idea. So we brought all of our heroes out to spin with us (Juan Atkins, Curtis Mantronix, Larry Heard, Maurice Fulton, Marshall Jefferson).

They were all, epic , spontaneous and desperately needed in NYC. We threw the party as a monthly for about 4 and half years at APT, but it was pretty exhausting, so we discontinued it for a while. Since then, we've thrown about 1 or two a year and they still go off. I was in Hamburg deejaying last October and there was a girl I met there who went to a Negroclash party when Juan Atkins was a guest and she said that night pretty much changed her life. Moments like that keep me humble and motivated to do this music thang and keep at it.

I noticed that the Bim Marx EP's are released on black labeled vinyl with no information. Are they strictly vinyl releases and is this a conscious effort to remain anonymous? And where can we find your re-edits / remixes / productions?

I think Jerome Derradjii, the founder of stilov4music, could answer that question better. Derradjii runs that label and runs Still Music as well. I believe the idea behind the label was to make the music stand on it's own. It's the idea that the music is being presented purely on its own terms, with no pretense.

How do you feel that the advances in technology has impacted the dance music community both positive and negative? From the aesthetic of the deejay to the demise of vinyl, record store closures, rise of the laptop deejay, etc

I like the convenience of mp3's and i like the fact that you can present the music on your own terms and cut out the middle man (record labels) if you choose to do it. Serato and tractor and ableton are great tools and i've seen a lot of amazing sets from DJ's who utilize those tools to the fullest. I've also seen some of the most frustrating and laziest sets from some very well known DJ's who should know better.

MP3's, for the most part sound terrible and i've heard some of the most horribly mastered dance tracks in the past couple of years from producers who have no idea how a record is suppose to sound on vinyl, because they've been playing compressed tracks for so long now. The blogging culture is great because it can connect a lone techno fan from a small town in Idaho with a community of likeminded individuals from all around the world. How cool would that have been to be able to do that back when we were teens?

The downside is that the dance community is really fickle now and people value the music less, because there's less personal investment in it. I don't think that a lot of people like something now'cuz they think it's great music..i think they like it 'cuz it's new music.Once it's not new anymore, there's no real reason for them to revisit it. You don't have to stare at this cd or record in your collection anymore, you can just delete the mp3 and forget about it forever.
If you a buy a record, cd, tape, etc. You're already a bit more emotionally invested in it. But you also can't force people to buy something that they believe they should have for free.

Besides the Bim Marx thingie, what other things are you working on that we should be looking out for in 2011?

Well..expect some more Bim Marx edits and an ep of original Bim Marx stuff very soon. I run a blog with my friend Eli Escobar called Outside Broadcast that y'all can check out as well.

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