Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chicago | North Coast Music Festival + Mister Joshua

North Coast Music Festival
Dialogue Inc's own Mister Joshua

Union Park | Chicago, Friday 31 — Sun 2, 2012

This Labor Day weekend marks a first for Dialogue Incorporated's Mister Joshua. A DJ staple in Chicago for the past few years, Mister Joshua will be making his Chicago festival debut this weekend, and at a really cool one at that. North Coast Music Festival, now in its third year, is the Midwest's premier electronic, hip-hop and jam band festival. This year boasts a host of top-tier talent, of which acts like YACHT, the Rapture, Digitalism, Maya Jane Coles and Big Boi should be of particular note to Dialogue readers.

This year also sees the debut of the Groupon Silent Disco Dome, a covered, 200-person stage featuring some of Chicago's finest local DJs going head-to-head, while fest-goers don headphones and pick between each of the DJs spinning simultaneously. While Mister Joshua isn't exactly debuting on a main stage in front of throngs of his no-doubt adoring fans, we're still ultra stoked to be taking part in the silent disco—and actually playing a disco track or two.

Mister Joshua gets the indie-disco and deep house bubbling up under the Groupon Silent Disco Dome on Friday 31 from 6–7pm. North Coast Music Festival tickets are available at

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Article | Mitchbal | Family Ties

 Family Ties

The original story of house music's original father and son team. 

By Joshua P. Ferguson 

Originally published in Time Out Chicago Magazine | 06.07.12

We know DJs like Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy and labels like Trax Records. Many even know Vince Lawrence, an integral player in the classic imprint’s start. But it wasn’t until French expat and Still Music label owner Jerome Derradji met Lawrence that the world got the full story of Lawrence’s dad, Nemiah Mitchell Jr., and the impact the pair had on the Chicago house-music world. 

On 122 BPM—The Birth of House Music, a new triple-disc retrospective for Still Music dropping this month, Derradji connects the dots between Mitchell’s days in the late ’70s, crafting upbeat and soulful dance-floor numbers aimed at the R&B charts and his time A&Ring and recording some of the earliest examples of Chicago house on his label Mitchbal throughout the ’80s. 

Meeting up with me in the shady backyard of his Humboldt Park home, Derradji, 40, and Mitchell, 68, share the creative spark behind the label—the Mitchbal Magic, as Mitchell likes to call it—which could be considered the missing link between soul, disco, new wave and house. It all began with a little son-to-father business advice back in the early 1980s. “[Vince] said, Dad, you’re doing it all wrong,” Mitchell explains. “What they’re doing now is making dance records, extending the music and putting them out on 12" singles.” 

At this time, in 1982, Mitchell was finding moderate success on local stations from the label’s first two singles, cut to 45. This was also when Frankie Knuckles and the Warehouse were at their height. Lawrence and his pal, DJ and producer Jesse Saunders—who were in their late teens at the time—knew it. They were throwing similar parties at an underground club called the Playground, and one night, Lawrence invited his dad along. 

“I was amazed,” says a constantly smiling Mitchell as he thinks back on it. “This is, like, lower Wacker, downtown. You’d walk in and get a contact high. There was one little blue light in the corner, and I think sometimes someone would cut that off.” 

Recognizing his son’s passion for the music, Mitchell started buying him equipment and eventually a recording session that turned out “I Like to Do It in Fast Cars,” Lawrence’s debut, under the name Z-Factor, and Mitchbal’s first 12".

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Live Review | Yeasayer at the Vic Chicago + mp3

photo: Josh Darr (Fly Quarterly | Paste Magazine)

Review | Yeasayer @ Vic Theater Chicago 

Ok, so that opening band was a trip right? Sounding like an odd musical pastiche of goth, techno and chill wave performed by a slick-haired and mustachioed frontman impersonating Brad Roberts of the Crash Test Dummies, Daughn Gibson's music confounded me. Self-categorized as country, you could tell dude listened to a lot of Johnny Cash, it was like he'd taken that American bravado and wrapped it in an Active Child context. Possibly a case of irony gone too far, I couldn't tell if he was being serious and we shouldn't be laughing, if he was being funny and we forgot to laugh or if possibly he and the lone pianist that joined him on stage weren't quite sure themselves. Either way, it was something I'd rather talk about than be forced to listen to. Oh well, his set was short and, well, interesting.

The main event at Chicago's Vic Theater last night was clearly Brooklyn psych-folk-synth-dance quartet Yeasayer. The first night of the band's 2012 tour for its third LP, Fragrant World (stream), those of us there bore witness to the debut of a new stage show and much of the new material—Chris Keating and company played a full two-thirds of the new record. With six convex mirrors shaped like upside down Chrysler logos stacked two high and three wide as a backdrop, Yeasayer has dramatically upped the visual element of its show. An array of lights shot solid beams of purples, blues, yellows, reds, greens, oranges and whites—ok, so the rainbow basically—out at the crowd, while mirror balls at the band members' feet shot rays of light in every other direction. 

A computerized announcer introduced the band and welcomed its Chicago audience, before decaying into a cacophony of chatter and the opening chords of "Fragrant World," the band's Middle-Eastern-y psych-pop set opener. Little concerned with the audience's familiarity with the new songs—the album's only been out since Tuesday after all—Yeasayer followed with its latest single, the brilliant slow burner "Henrietta," before jumping all the way back to All Hour Cymbals with "2080." That finally unglued the crowds feet. Laying out the night's biggest crowd pleasers, "O.N.E." and "Madder Red" fairly early on, they then settled into more new material as acid trip visuals oozed in and out of the mirrors behind them. 

Fragrant World takes a few more listens to get into then Odd Blood did, but hearing songs like "Reagan's Skeleton" and encore selections "Folk Hero Schtick" and "Fingers Never Bleed" live opened my eyes and ears to the new stuff. Showmen and musicians who aren't afraid to reinterpret their own material to keep it fresh, both for them and for us, the group ended on an extra-trippy version of "Tightrope." Like the song's name implies, it was a risky move that left some wanting more, but maybe that was the plan the entire time.

—Joshua P. Ferguson

DOWNLOAD: Yeasayer "Henrietta" | 320 mp3

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shuffle | Lindstrøm

Shuffle | Lindstrøm

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Norway's towering cosmic-disco tour-de-force Hans-Peter Lindstrøm has been a busy guy. Maybe it's because he's got too many ideas to adhere to a typical artist release schedule, you know , the one-album-every-two-years-or-so schedule. Lindstrøm seems to be putting down so much material that he's doing the opposite: two albums every year or so. This march saw Six Cups of Rebel, an album that indulged his crunchy krautrock tendencies. I have to admit, I did not love that record. I'm not so selfish as to expect an artist to release albums that riff on the same sound over and over again just to maintain a style that fans have come to know and love; especially not an artist like Lindstrøm who has gone through such wonderful and dramatic bouts of evolution over the years—remember Slow Supreme?—but Six Cups just wasn't my cup of cosmic tea.

From initial offering "Rà-àkõ-st," an unpronounceable slice of pristine Nordic Italo-house, I can already tell I'm going to feel differently about Smalhans, Lindstrøm's forthcoming studio album. It's got the sprawling and melodic sci-fi vibe that permeated much of 2008's Where You Go I Go Too, but reined in much the way he was on 2009 collabo effort Real Life is No Cool, with vocalist Christabelle. Here, he's recaptured his space-age lounge vibe without being too weird or too epic for it to work on a dance floor. The bottom line: fans of "I Feel Space" or "Another Station" are going to be really happy. It's also worth noting that fellow Nordic cosmonaut Todd Terje was behind the mixing board for the entire endeavor and will be taking lead duty on the singles front, working his magic on extend edits and remixes that are to accompany the full-length release. In 2012, Lindstrøm is giving up a little something for everybody. Kudos my man.

DOWNLOAD: Lindstrøm "Rà-àkõ-st" | 192 mp3

Monday, August 6, 2012

Heavy Rotation | Lollapalooza 2012

Heavy Rotation | Lollapalooza 2012

Corralling our coverage of America's biggest fest.

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Tens of thousands descended upon Chicago's Grant Park. Mother Nature reared her head with such intensity that she sent us packing on day two. We rallied. It wasn't the best chapter in this storied festival's history, but it had shining moments. Here are a few that we took note of.

Bassnectar on day one for Time Out Chicago | photos after the jump
"Practically the entire crowd is red of skin, eyes half open from too many Budweiser tall boys and their energy is on the wane. From Ashton's perch atop the stage, he was clearly not taking this as an excuse. As fireworks exploded in the background, a Fatman Scoop sample called our hands to the sky with Ashton mellowing the vibe ever so slightly—like a calm before the storm—and then dropped into the remix that helped take his career to such high heights, his rework of Eli Goulding's "Lights." 

Little Dragon on day three for Time Out Chicago | photos after the jump
"Beach balls fashioned like globes, blow-up whales, dinosaurs, birthday cakes and, of course, dragons bobbed overhead as Nagano, a force of a frontwoman, acted as spiritual leader—a vocal shaman conjuring bubbly synth pop, extended house jam sessions and all-around sunny grooves. Standing, pounding, bouncing and bobbing to their eclectic sound, the members—save the drummer, who's glued to a dubwise drum set—seem to all have a little skip dance that they've adopted as the dominant footwork. As a cow bell and drum solo morphed into an extend house jam session on "Precious," the stage lit up with this slinky little move."

Kaskade on day three for Time Out Chicago | photos after the jump
"Within the masses there were girls yodeling, guys cleaning out bags of molly, bowls being packed, drinks being spilled, and making out, lots of making out. Cutting all the lights save a set of lasers, Kaskade sparked a frenzy in "4am." Like the time of night the song is named after, the darkness that descended on the Perry's stage field had the same effect as a club at peak time: throngs of sweaty bodies in close proximity to one another doing, well... Let's just say what happens at Perry's stage stays at Perry's stage."

Miike Snow on day three for Time Out Chicago | photos after the jump
"An ever-present smoke machine and the flash of flood lights were the closest thing to stage pomp and circumstance, but that didn't stop a parade of stars from queuing up on the south-east field to take in the show. Werewolves from True Blood, stoners from That '70s Show and Jesse from Breaking Bad all bobbed in delight to Miike Snow, an outfit that a nearby friend described as a true band's band."

Salva on day two for Time Out Chicago | photos after the jump
"A fringe booking in comparison to most of the other artists populating the stage this weekend, Salva represents for the Cali bass scene—a crew called Frite Nite specifically—and leave it to the Golden State to give its own take on things. Owing as much to hip-hop as U.K. dance (dubstep, drum 'n' bass and the like), Salva's set had a distinctly urban slant with MCs like Ludacris flowing over what is becoming known as trap rave, a synth-heavy take on Southern rap beats."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

DJ Mix | Zebo | Trap to the Future 2

DJ Mix | Zebo

With Trap to the Future 2, the Chicago jock sheds more light on the emerging trap rave sound.

by Joshua P. Ferguson

I've probably said it before in these digi-pages, but it was bound to happen eventually. Deejays and producers, tired of working within a strict framework, branch out into genres of a similar tempo to see what they can come up with. Drumstep meets somewhere in between dubstep and drum 'n' bass at a cool 75 bpms. Likewise, footwork found a kindred spirit in drum 'n' bass. I don't know what that's called. Footstep? Juke 'n' bass? Regardless, it's pretty dope. If you need convincing peep this, a personal favorite example.

Then there's the latest example: Trap Rave, which doesn't even seem that new, considering Chicago DJ Zebo has already managed to churn out his second mix dedicated to the sound. Moving in and out of Southern rap beats, dubstep squelchs, classic rave atmospherics and juke/booty samples, it's kind of the ultimate party music right now. Chicago duo Flosstradamus is all over it,  dropping a quintessential example of the sound with "Total Recall," the pair's latest single for Mad Decent (which can be heard on our latest Dialogue Incorporated mix). Then there's Mad Decent side label Jeffree's, which is a great source as well.

On Zebo's latest, Trap to the Future Part 2, he covers just about every direction the sound is being taken in: Percussive workouts that bear much resemblance to discerning dubstep, bass and booty rumblers, crunk beats just crying out for Lil' Jon, trance beats just crying out for Lil' Jon, and even twisted remixes of Robin S. and Dada Life.

Press play on the mix below and download if you like as well. Stay tuned, if we can, we'll add a tracklisting.