First Floor #41 – How to Talk to Journalists (and Get Them to Check Out Your Music)

a.k.a. PR companies aren't the only way to get noticed.

Hello there. I’m Shawn Reynaldo, and welcome to First Floor, a weekly electronic music digest that includes news, my favorite new tracks and some of my thoughts on the issues affecting the larger scene / industry that surrounds the music. If you haven’t done so already, please consider subscribing to the newsletter by clicking the button below.

ON MY MIND

If you read last week’s newsletter, you know that I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking a lot about the bias, discrimination and racism that’s been baked in to the music industry. More specifically, I’ve been focused on trying to come up with ways to improve the status quo, particularly when it comes to my own day-to-day practices.

At the same time, there’s another key to making the music industry more equitable for everyone: eliminating the secrecy around the basic facts of how things work. Having spent more than 20 years in various facets of the music industry, I’ve picked up so much knowledge about the nuts and bolts of the business, but most of that information isn’t widely known amongst the general public, and often times isn’t even widely known within creative communities.

While I don’t expect the average punter to be able to navigate the ins and outs of a major-label contract—for what it’s worth, I couldn’t do that either—there’s no reason for so many of the music industry basics (e.g. “what should a press release look like?”) to only be available to professionals who work in the business. Like many other industries, the music world tends to take a “start at the bottom and you’ll figure it out” approach to sharing institutional knowledge, a philosophy that becomes glaringly unfair when institutional access is often limited for anyone who isn’t white and middle (or even upper) class. How are black people and POC supposed to know (or even learn) all of the industry’s unwritten rules if they’re not invited inside in the first place?

Knowing that, today I want to help shine a light on one of most frequently misunderstood aspects of the music industry: how to contact journalists and get them to listen to your music. It’s one of those things that should be so simple, and yet there’s obviously a disconnect happening when electronic music writers complain that they don’t receive enough music from black artists at the same time that there’s a crowdsourced spreadsheet with nearly 2000 black artists and labels floating around. While it’s obvious that journalists need to be more proactive about seeking out music from outside their usual PR channels and social circles, the problem can also be addressed by making it easier for black and POC artists to reach those writers, and do so effectively.

In an effort to make this information as palatable / useful as possible, I’ve broken my informal how-to into sections.

DON’T RELY ON JOURNALISTS

Artists (and even the general public) often overestimate the power of the music press, believing that journalists have the power to pluck an act out of obscurity, write a little article and suddenly break that artist into the big time. Perhaps there was a time that was true, but it’s long since passed, primarily because most music consumers aren’t looking to the press as a discovery tool. With the rise of downloading and now streaming, people have the ability to listen to pretty much anything and generally want to make (or at least believe they’re making) their own choices about what they like and don’t like.

As such, the role of music journalists has evolved, and though “writing about obscure stuff you may not have heard or even heard of” is still part of the gig, our jobs have become increasingly reactive in nature. Music writers don’t break trends; they seek out artists, scenes and sounds that are already popping, and then use their platforms to share what they’ve found with a larger audience, ideally with some additional context and thoughtful commentary.

Again, music journalists don’t have a Midas touch. They aren’t going to take an artist from zero to famous (or even “underground” famous). By the time they come sniffing around, there’s usually a lot of energy around an artist or scene anyways, and this phenomenon has only intensified with the rise of digital media; when the “success” of a piece depends on how many people click the link, there’s little incentive to feature music that’s completely unknown to most readers.

Knowing this, I’d advise artists who are just starting out to not put too much stock in the press and its ability to help. Focus instead on connecting and networking with other artists, both online and especially in your local scene (if your city has one). Build up energy and interest in your project on your own, and you’ll likely find that once you have some momentum, you may not even need the press to take you to the next level.

FOLLOW BYLINES

So many artists set their sights on securing coverage from a particular press outlet, zeroing in on a review or feature in Pitchfork, FADER, Resident Advisor or whatever other site they perceive to as essential to success. It makes sense; amongst the general public and even inside the music industry, people often focus on media platforms above all else, regardless of whether or not what gets written is actually any good.

That being said, platforms are becoming less and less important, particularly as media cutbacks and layoffs have shrunk staff sizes and increased the need for freelance contributors. Although some music writers still work exclusively for one outlet, many of us are essentially free agents, bouncing around from site to site depending on who requires (or at least is willing to pay for) our services. This has led to a growing fracturing of the editorial “voice,” even within established publications. Media outlets are often viewed as an editorial monolith, but the truth is that it’s impossible for dozens of writers to all see eye to eye about everything, even within a single genre.

Take Pitchfork for example. I’m a freelance contributor there, and they have lots of great writers (both staff and freelance), but sometimes they’ll run glowing reviews for records I think are terrible, even within the electronic music realm. I’m sure there are other contributors there who feel the same about records I’ve reviewed—it’s just human nature. It’s the editors’ responsibility to try an distill these varying opinions into a coherent voice, but when two established / respected / thoughtful writers disagree about a particular release, there’s no one “correct” take.

Knowing that, I’d advise artists and labels in search of coverage to look beyond the platforms and start paying attention to individual writers. I know that reading music reviews and features isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but it’s time well spent if you’re interested in figuring out which writers might be interested in your work. Find the writers covering music that you like, or music that’s in a similar vein to what you’re doing. Follow them on Twitter. Take note of what publications they write for, what sort of things they write about and what format their writing usually takes. Do they have a regular column? A podcast? Do they review albums? Do they only seem to interview artists? Every music writer has their own niche, and it’s to your benefit to know who does what. That way, when the time comes to approach them with your own music, you’ll be much better equipped for the task.

Think about it. Personal relationships mean a lot in the music industry, and the easiest way to build one with a journalist is to show some basic familiarity with their work. It may sound silly, but being able to say, “I really liked your review of X,” or “Perhaps this would fit in your column for Y,” really goes a long way. (To be clear, that doesn’t mean you need to kiss ass or send a writer a gushing email about how amazing you think they are; subtle cues are usually more than enough.) Furthermore, if you do establish a rapport (even a digital one) with a writer, it’ll be much easier to follow them as they move from one outlet to the next, which is all but inevitable given the unstable nature of music media.

DON’T SPAM

When it comes to music promotion, bigger is not necessarily better. Many artists (and sadly, many PR professionals too) simply collect as many journalist emails as possible and blast generic press releases to their giant media lists. This is a mistake.

Most music writers and editors receive hundreds a promo emails a day. It’s literally impossible to thoroughly read them all, which means that most items in our inboxes get a quick scan at best. From the subject line alone, most journalists can quickly sniff out an impersonal mass email, and if that doesn’t do the trick, a simple glance usually makes it obvious whether the email was actually meant for them.

For new (and smaller) artists and labels, a focused promo mailout—even one that only goes to five or ten people—is going to be way more effective than a glorified piece of spam that goes out to hundreds (or thousands) of journalists you’ve never spoken with. Do your research ahead of time. Put together a list of writers and editors whose work you respect and who you think might actually be interested in your music. If you don’t have their contact info, send them a polite direct message (preferably via Twitter; hitting people up on their personal Facebook and Instagram accounts can feel intrusive) and ask if they have an email where you could send some music. Most writers will be happy to provide one.

MAKE IT EASY

Again, journalists are receiving hundreds of emails a day, so when the time comes for you to send them your music to a journalist, it’s advisable to make things as easy as possible. There’s no need to pen a giant essay or put together some flowery promo text that’s stuffed with hip references and cliched metaphors. A few informative sentences is usually more than enough, and if your email extends beyond a couple of short paragraphs, you’ve almost certainly written too much. Be polite, yes, but also be concise. Provide some basic facts (e.g. your artist name, where you’re based, the name of your upcoming release, the release date, etc.), but there’s no need to share your whole life story. If you think that the journalist will have absolutely no idea who you are, include some simple descriptions and/or comparisons in relation to your music (e.g. “I make electro that’s similar in vein to old-school Detroit stuff like Aux 88,” or “Hudson Mohawke and Blawan were big influences on me, and I think my music kind of sounds like a combination of the two.”).

As for the music itself, DON’T ATTACH MUSIC FILES to your email. Our inboxes are full enough as it is. Attaching small files like an artist bio or promotional one sheet is fine, but giant attachments are not appreciated. It’s much better to present your music in a way that it can be easily listened to, preferably by providing links to where it can be streamed or downloaded. Personally, for streaming I prefer to be sent a private SoundCloud link (with the full tracks), along with a separate link where the files can be quickly downloaded as a ZIP (preferably with just one or two clicks) from Dropbox, Google Drive or WeTransfer.

There’s another important element to consider: timing. Far too often, artists reach out right before a release comes out (i.e. less than a week in advance) or after the release is already available. Most of the time, that is way too late, especially for new and unknown artists. Music writers generally have to confirm assignments with editors weeks, if not months, in advance. When it comes to new artists, we need time to listen to the music and decide if it’s something we’d like to cover, and then we have to actually convince an editor somewhere to pay us to write about it. That’s not easy, and it’s also time consuming, so artists ought to keep that in mind. If you’re sending music to a journalist, I’d recommend sending it at least one month in advance of the release date.

FOLLOW UP, BUT DON’T BE ANNOYING

Not to beat a dead horse, but journalists get sent a lot of music. It’s not even possible for us to listen to all the things we want to listen to, let alone the new things that we’ve never heard of. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

Knowing that, it may be necessary for artists to follow up after sending over their music. Gentle reminders can actually be really helpful, but there’s an art to it. Few things are more annoying than an artist who sends over their music and then follows up two days later. Unless there is some sort of extreme urgency to the situation (e.g. the record has a collaboration with Aphex Twin and he’s willing to do one joint interview, but it needs to be confirmed ASAP), following up too soon is more likely to seem pushy and prompt said journalist to not listen to your music at all.

As a general rule, I’d say that artists should wait at least a week before following up, and maybe longer if the release date is still a ways off. And when you do send a follow-up email, keep it short. I’d recommend replying to the original email chain and just sending over a sentence or two along the lines of “Hey I just wanted to check and see if you’d had a chance to check this out.” There’s no need to rehash the original spiel or get into a bunch of promo speak, unless there’s been some new development that the writer might find interesting (e.g. you have a mix coming out on Resident Advisor next week, you just got added as the opening act for a tour with Four Tet, etc.).

HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Even if you follow all of these steps, there are no guarantees that a writer will want to cover your music, and that goes double for new or relatively unknown artists. This business is incredibly competitive, and with the number of music media outlets seemingly shrinking by the day, there just aren’t that many places for journalists to write about even established acts, let alone new ones.

When you’re starting out, you’re most likely going to hear a lot of no’s—hopefully polite ones—but they won’t necessarily mean that your music isn’t any good. As I said before, journalists these days are less in the business of breaking new acts and are more focused on documenting the work of artists who’ve already generated some heat on their own. It’s not that new artists shouldn’t bother contacting the press at all—there’s no harm in forging relationships with music writers, even if they don’t bear fruit immediately—but it’s important to remember that there’s plenty of other work to be done too. And if you do that part well, the journalists will eventually start coming to you, instead of the other way around.


ANOTHER THING I WROTE

  • If the world hadn’t been turned upside down over the past few months, upsammy’s debut LP Zoom would probably have been one of the most hyped electronic music albums of the year. Though its arrival now feels less urgent, it’s still a lovely record, and I reviewed it for Pitchfork.


REAL QUICK

A round-up of the week’s most interesting electronic music news, plus links to mixes, articles and other things I think are worth sharing.

  • REMINDER: This Friday, June 19, Bandcamp will be donating 100% of its share of all sales on its platform to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. This will be an annual event, and the company has also committed to allocate “an additional $30,000 per year to partner with organizations that fight for racial justice and create opportunities for people of color.”

  • For those looking for a deep dive into streaming platforms and their nebulous deals with major labels (and how that affects the music industry as a whole), this lengthy Twitter thread from Tom Gray (the Director of PRS for Music) is super informative—and depressing, of course.

  • Last week, Adult Swim unveiled Stimulus Swim, a series of compilations and mixes featuring artists who’ve been affected by the pandemic. The first offering was curated by Adult Swim themselves, but First Floor readers will likely be more interested in the subsequent editions assembled by Hyperdub and Ghostly International. The former includes music from Jessy Lanza, Loraine James, 700 Bliss, Silvia Kastel and others, while the latter features tunes from Galcher Lustwerk, Shigeto, Telefon Tel Aviv, Khotin, Fort Romeau and Steve Hauschildt, along with several other Ghostly regulars.

  • Hyper-prolific NYC producer and footwork specialist Kush Jones put together the latest Resident Advisor podcast.

  • In last week’s newsletter I mentioned that London producer Scratcha DVA had recently hosted a series of roundtable discussions focused on racism in the music industry, and all of those discussions are now available on YouTube.

  • I’ve been meaning to write about Azu Tiwaline, a Tunisian artist who dropped her two-part debut album Draw Me a Silence earlier this year. The LP is still worth tracking down, but Tiwaline will also soon be appearing on Bristol outpost Livity Sound with a new EP called Magnetic Service. Ahead of its arrival on July 3, EP cut “Tight Wind” is streaming here.

  • You probably don’t know the name Mona Dehghan, but she’s one of my oldest friends—we actually worked at the same college radio station, go KALX 90.7 FM! Anyways, she currently works at Mute Records and also runs her own imprint, Mon Amie Records. Last year, her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (her grandmother also suffered from it), so she’s decided to help fight the disease by putting together a benefit compilation called The Longest Day, which drops digitally on June 19 (vinyl will be available later in the year) and includes music from artists like New Order, Moby, Daniel Avery, HAAi, Jon Hopkins and lots of others. 100% of proceeds will go to the Alzheimer’s Association, which offers 24/7 help to anyone affected by the disease.

  • Speaking of benefit compilations, with multiple global crises underway, we’re still seeing an uptick in these things. Here are some of the more interesting ones that came out during the past week:

    • Hivernation Volume 4 is the final (and largest) installment of a series from John Talabot’s Hivern Discs label highlighting music made in quarantine. Contributors include label regulars like JMII, Walden, Steve Pepe and Velmondo, along with other acts like People You May Know, Bss and Arthur Evans.

    • CARE4LIFE will likely skew a bit mainstream for many First Floor readers, but it’s a collection of 45 exclusive tracks that does include artists like Daniel Avery, Radio Slave, Maya Jane Coles, Nightwave, Nathan Fake, K-Lone, The Chemical Brothers and many, many more. All proceeds will go to NHS Charities Together, which supports frontline workers.

    • Pen Pals Vol. 2 is the second collection of remote collaborations curated by The Ransom Note. Participating artists include Wilted Woman, James Welsh, JD Twitch and Earth Trax, amongst several others.


MY WIFE HAS BETTER TASTE THAN I DO

My wife Dania is a wonderful person, but she has little regard for my taste in electronic music. As the head of the Paralaxe Editions label, she often describes the music I like with words like “cheesy,” “simple,” “predictable,” “boring” and, worst of all (in her mind), “happy.” In contrast, I think she has a fantastic ear, and I’m constantly amazed by the obscure gems she unearths, both from record bins and the dark corners of the internet. Given that, I’ve asked Dania to share some of her finds with the First Floor audience. Each week, she highlights something that she’s currently digging, and adds some of her thoughts as to why it’s worth our attention.

Black Unity Trio Al-Fatihah (Salaam)

I have been listening to Al-Fatihah (“The Opening” in Arabic) a lot lately because I just found out that the album is finally getting repressed. (Any other reissues out there are actually bootlegs, as the artists never authorised a repress.) This legendary free jazz record was released in 1969 by saxophonist and double bassist Yusuf Mumin, cellist Abdul Wadud and drummer Hasan Shahid, all of who were from Cleveland, Ohio. I really love this interview in The Wire with Hasan where he says, “We were trying sounds that you could not tap your feet, snap your fingers or dance to, sounds that you had never heard before.” Hasan’s career ended in 1970 when the FBI walked him out of a mosque for being a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War; that’s why he was credited on the album as Haasan-Al-hut—he was wanted by the federal government.

Follow Dania on Twitter, or check out her monthly radio show on dublab.es.


NEW THIS WEEK

The following is a rundown of my favorite tunes that came out during the past week or so. Click on the track titles to hear each song individually, or you can also just head over to this convenient Buy Music Club list to find them all in one place.

DJ Manny “Get the Money” (Moveltraxx)

DJ Manny is best known for his affiliation with Chicago’s Teklife crew, but “Get the Money” is taken from Street Bangers Factory 14, a new compilation EP from Parisian label Moveltraxx that also features DJ Earl, Feadz, DJ Jayhood and several others. The track includes those skittering footwork hi-hats that we all know so well, but the percussion largely takes a back seat here, as Manny employs soaring pads and bold strings (which remind me a bit of the strings that used to pop up in old grime and UK funky tunes), giving the song a confidently triumphant vibe.

North End Track Authority “I Need (Love Mix)” (Self-released)

Keeping things in the Midwest, North End Track Authority is a collaboration between Detroit producers Bale Defoe and Huey Mnemonic. I’ve always been a sucker for soulful deep house that sounds like it’s been crafted specifically for 5 a.m. dancefloors (e.g. Black Jazz Consortium, Larry Heard, etc.) and this tune has that same sort of late-night energy. It’s a nice reminder that “deep” doesn’t have to equal “corny” or “boring,” and for those in search of something more intense, there’s also a “Lust Mix” that whips the tune into a frantic blast of ghettotech.

Kate NV “Plans” (RVNG Intl.)

It seems dangerous to compare anyone to Kate Bush—especially an artist who’s also named Kate—but in the case of Moscow’s Kate NV, the similarities are too obvious to ignore. The Russian eccentric’s voice is the star attraction of new album Room for the Moon, and here on “Plans,” it effortlessly moves between a dreamy swirl and playful pop verses. As for the music, the song is very ’80s, albeit not in the typical new wave / synth-pop way that many artists go for. Hearing its sturdy post-punk basslines and saxophone flourishes, I’m reminded of groups like Talking Heads, Gang of Four and, of course, Kate Bush, but the music still sounds fresh—it’s not a mere nostalgia exercise or a grand act of cultural recycling. More importantly, it’s fun, and those looking for an extra shot of silliness should definitely check out the song’s campy video.

Nick León “Grillo” (N.A.A.F.I.)

When it comes to electronic music, Miami often gets a bad rap, at least among folks who’ve only seen all the cornball tech-house and faux-Ibiza nonsense happening at the city’s South Beach megaclubs. That scene is definitely real—and definitely horrible—but Miami has more to offer than cheese, including Nick León, who’s just released a new EP called Aguacero. That’s where you can find “Grillo,” a banging, drum-heavy tune with mutant Latin percussion that sounds like it was made for a one-off collaboration between the Fade to Mind and Hemlock labels. Creative and defiantly refusing to adhere to straight lines, it’s the sort of banger that almost any low-end-loving DJ should be able to put to good use.

Time Cow & RTKal “Elephant Man” (Equiknoxx)

This one actually came out last month, but after several weeks of steadily growing on me, I wanted to make sure and include it here. Jamaican outfit Equiknoxx has been rather prolific lately, churning out singles every few weeks, but “Elephant Man” is something special that they cooked up in Kingston in collaboration with Birmingham MC RTKal. It’s a dancehall tune, and as the title implies, it was inspired in part by the legendary, larger-than-life MC of the same name, but the song has a unique character all its own. There’s a chunky bassline underpinning the whole thing, but the beat is skeletal and the vocals are minimal, which allows the tune’s surprisingly delicate pastel melodies to gently flit and flutter over the course of nearly seven minutes. Imagine a dancehall cut made by a Japanese new age artist, and you’re getting close.

Pugilist “Blue Planet” (3024)

If it wasn’t for the pandemic, Pugilist would likely be having a huge year. Fresh off his killer Horizon EP for Nous’klaer, the Melbourne producer popped up on Martyn’s 3024 imprint with the equally impressive Blue Planet. The title track finds him riffing on a UK garage rhythm, filling in the gaps with spooky atmospheres, tiny acid wiggles and a big, chunky bassline that can rattle subwoofers without sacrificing any of the song’s natural bounce. Australia is rarely seen as a hotspot for low-end manipulators, but with DJ Plead and now Pugilist breaking through, perhaps it’ll soon be time to reevaluate the country’s musical reputation.

BASSBEAR!! “Heard Voices Today” (Towhead)

NYC might be the only electronic music scene in the world that’s actually gained momentum during the pandemic. Over the past year or so, a new generation of young producers (many of them black / POC / queer) have made their presence known, ignoring genre boundaries (and plenty of other norms about how the music industry is “supposed” to work) and flooding the internet with new music, most frequently by releasing it themselves via Bandcamp. Names like AceMo, MoMa Ready and Kush Jones are perhaps the most prominent, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg, as reflected by the Towhead label and its ongoing series of New York Dance Music compilations. “Heard Voices Today” appears on the freshly issued third volume, and was put together by BASSBEAR!!, a fresh face out of The Bronx. It’s essentially a house cut, albeit a charmingly raw one that features a blown-out bassline, lively percussion and a hypnotic, Aphex Twin-ish melody that cooly twirls in the background.

Photay “Fanfare for 7.83 Hz” (Mexican Summer)

It’s possible that I’ve listened to Photay’s new Waking Hours album more than anything else in 2020. Granted, that’s because the label hired me to write some of the promotional material for the record—so please, take my praise with a grain of salt—but I’ve kept on listening to it, even after I completed my assignment a few months back. The LP has a lot more vocals than Photay’s previous work, and those pop flirtations are great, but I kept coming back to the instrumental “Fanfare for 7.83 Hz,” a track that doesn’t neatly fit into any one genre box. There are nods to the cosmic synth explorers of the ’70s and ’80s, but there are also twinkling IDM melodies, Photay’s vibrant percussion, bleating horns and booming bass drop that could have been ripped from a grime record. Somehow, he’s made it all come together to make something beautiful.

Forest Management “Following, Forming” (Self-released)

Originally released in 2012 on a limited-edition cassette called Transparent, “Following, Forming” has been remastered and given new life as part of Rooftop by Dusk, a collection that Chicago artist Forest Management put together for the most recent Bandcamp Friday. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t familiar with his work before this, as he’s literally dropped dozens of releases over the past decade, most of them populated with the same sort of elegant ambient sounds you’ll find here. The song is subtle, restrained and absolutely perfect for moments of quiet introspection. After hearing this, I’ll definitely be keeping tabs on what Forest Management does from now on.

upsammy “Twisted Like a Flame” (Dekmantel)

Zoom, the debut full-length from Dutch producer upsammy, is another record that’s perfect for sitting and having a think. The album’s title is meant to be quite literal, as it’s rooted in the idea of stopping and taking a closer look at the world around us (the natural world in particular), ideally in an effort to notice the beauty in all the little details we tend to miss as we rush through life. Sonically, the LP’s rhythms sound a lot like the fluttering drum patterns of ’90s IDM, but upsammy’s graceful melodies take center stage; “Twisted Like a Flame” is one of the album’s sturdier tunes, yet it has an easy-going, pastoral feel that pleasantly recalls the breezy sounds of early 2000s indietronica (e.g. labels like Morr Music and artists like The Books).

K-Lone “The Falls” (Wisdom Teeth)

K-Lone’s Cape Cira has been one of 2020’s most acclaimed electronic music albums, and now the Bristol producer has followed it up with a similarly spirited EP called The Falls. The title track is a whimsical gem that’s ostensibly an IDM cut, albeit with a distinctly Asian influence that recalls both gamelan and the pristine aesthetic of Japanese ambient and new age. It’s light, bouncy and relaxing, the sort of tune that ought be played at the local spa instead of whatever dreadful Spotify playlist they’ve probably put on.

Motoko & Myers “Plover (Perko Remix)” (Future Times)

Back in September, I flipped for the debut 7” from Oakland duo Motoko & Myers, and now Future Times has put together a massive all-star remix package called Big Day that includes reworks from Bass Clef, Ali Berger, Doc Sleep & Glenn Astro, Unknown Mobile and plenty of others. Truthfully, there are a lot of great versions here, but I’ve gone with Perko’s take on “Plover,” which stretches out the lazy funk grooves of the original and applies a steady kick drum. It’s subtle but effective, maintaining the airy, slightly new age vibe of the original while delivering something suitable for DJs. Whenever clubs are open again, this one will be perfect for your next warm-up set.

Karenn “Shoes Off” (Voam)

Blawan and Pariah probably aren’t thrilled that their long-running collaboration now shares a name with some of the most reviled people on the planet (or at least on Twitter), but that hasn’t stopped them from dropping a new two-song EP that carries the goofy title Music Sounds Better With Shoe. After years of making raw, distortion-licked machine music, their excellent 2019 album Grapefruit Regret showcased a talent for slippery techno rhythms, and that trend continues here. “Shoes Off” does come with plenty of potent low-end crunch, but it’s also got a playful synth melody that sounds downright hooky in comparison to the pair’s past efforts. The Karenn project continues to evolve, and seems to just be getting better with age.

Blixaboy “Azanian Funk” (Stereo on Strike)

Space-age electro from… Dallas, Texas. No, that’s not a typo. I’ve actually written about Blixaboy before; he’s a key figure in Dallas’ largely overlooked electronic music scene, and has been active in various projects since the mid ’90s; more recently, however, it’s possible that you’ve spotted him on labels like Central Processing Unit. Azanian Funk—which came out via his own Stereo on Strike imprint—is Blixaboy’s latest album, and the title track clearly borrows from the sci-fi sound palette of Detroit techno and electro, but its also got a bit more funk squelch in the mix, which gives the song an enjoyable bit of extra bounce.


That’s all for this week. As always, thank you so much for reading the newsletter, and I do hope you enjoyed the tunes. (Don’t forget, you can find them all on this handy Buy Music Club list, and if you like them, please buy them.)

Have a great week,

Shawn


Shawn Reynaldo is a freelance writer, editor, presenter and project manager. Find him on LinkedIn or drop him an email to get in touch about projects, collaborations or potential work opportunities.