Tuesday, December 18, 2012

DPC Guestmix Series 16: Risky Disko

It's getting to that time of year again, folks. Days getting shorter, nights getting colder, and lives getting a bit more hectic. Yet, hidden underneath all those long lines at the airport and emergency shopping trips, is that irrefutable sense of celebration and merriment. That feeling of running into long-lost friends, seeing your favorite cousin you haven't seen in a million years, and generally being together with the people you care most for. That's why, for our 14th installment of DPC Guestmix Series, we tapped Philadelphia's own Risky Disko to help spread some holiday cheer the best way they know how.

The musical love child of Greg D. and Crouse, Risky Disko was born from a shared love of all things funky between its founding partners. Greg, since picking up DJing back in 2007, has been steadily honing his all-vinyl sound into a razor-sharp combination of disco, funk, and house. In the process, he's been getting more and more attention as one of Philadelphia's most consistent, hard-working, and talented young DJs/producers. The same can be said for partner-in-crime Crouse. His Summer Slampiece mix was one of my local favorites this summer, a chilled out blend of nu-disco and house that felt right at home on a pool deck or an after-party. With his original productions and DJ sets, Crouse showcases a savvy, thoughtful, and tasteful musical ear that has won him fans wherever he plays. Both of these guys are some of Philly's best, and their decision to join forces was a no-brainer. Greg and Crouse took the time to sit down with us and chat a little bit about their past, present, and future as Risky Disko.

DPC: First things first guys - thanks to both of you for taking the time to sit down and chat with us. We're loving the mix! Now, down to business. If you could, tell us a little bit about yourselves and how you got into music!

Crouse: I started getting into music at a very young age. My father started teaching me how to play guitar and bass at around 8 or so. My dad used to be in a new wave/punk band so that kind of music is still a very big influence for me. A lot of stuff like New Order, Joy Division, Depeche Mode etc.. along with a lot of classic rock like Bowie and The Velvet Underground. I started teaching myself piano in high school, still not the most proficient but I can get by. I had a band in late high school/early college called Slowave, we were kind of a mix between The Rapture and The Disco Biscuits (I know…I know). That came to an end and I came into DJing because it seemed like the smooth transition to make. I’m always the person looking for new sounds and artists to share with my friends so it seemed like the natural thing to do.

Greg: Music has always been a significant part of my life. My father exposed me to all kinds of music at a young age; jazz, soul, bluegrass, hip hop, etc. When I was 8 I was obsessed with Elvis and Little Richard. I was singing with the Washington Opera Company in DC from 8 years old until high school. I played guitar in jazz / rock bands. I didn't start embracing electronic music until the end of high school into college.

DPC: Why/how'd you guys come to decide to team up? What brought you two together?

Crouse: Well we’ve been talking about doing something for a while, at least a year or so. We finally ended up doing a gig together for our friends wedding! It was a great time, we played some Motown tunes…some Madonna, it was fantastic. We both had so much fun that we had to do it again so a few months later we had our first gig and that went really well so here we are.

I think initially what brought us together was our love of disco. We had met at a few parties and I was impressed at his knowledge of the history. I’m always enthralled when I meet someone as into music as I am.

Greg: Crouse and I have been friends for a few years, and I'd always admired his selections and DJ skills. It was an idea that we talked about off and on for a while. We did a somewhat impromptu DJ set for our friends wedding. People told us that was the hardest they had ever danced at a wedding. So finally, our schedules freed up, and it was something that just had to happen.

DPC: What are both of your main influences musically? Are there any artists out now whose production skills you particularly admire?

Crouse: I’d say my main influences are those I mentioned earlier: New Order, Depeche mode. Also a lot of the factory records stuff like The Happy Mondays and A Certain Ratio. As a DJ now my style is mostly influenced by early 90’s house. Stuff like Masters at Work, Seven Grand Housing Authority, MK, Frankie Knuckles, Kevin Saunderson, Inner city and stuff like that.

Right now my favorite producers are Medlar and Bicep. Both are putting out some really quality house music. I highly suggest you check both out. I also really like Lone’s “Galaxy Garden” album that came out this year, probably my favorite of 2012 besides John Talbot’s “Fin”

Greg: From a DJ/producer standpoint, my biggest influence is Patrick Cowley. I remember I was just getting into the whole disco thing, and I bought a Cowley record in London, not even knowing how it would sound. When I got back to the states, I listened to the record and was blown away. I couldn't comprehend how someone was producing music that was so before it's time, before I was even born! His records still hold up today and are some of my biggest hits when playing out. This is where my obsession began. I started buying so much vinyl from Cowley and other produces like him, and realized there was a whole world of music few knew about, and I needed to expose them! Cowley made me realize that I needed to DJ.

DPC: Loaded question, I know, but what brought you to your current sound? Was it a natural evolution or was there a “Eureka” moment?

Crouse: I’ve always been fascinated with music and it’s origin, which is probably what drew me into disco and house music. Learning about the roots of these styles of dance music (which are incredibly intertwined) really opened me up to a whole new world. Reading about places like Paradise Garage and The Hacienda made me appreciate how music has arrived at the place it is today. And I think if you are looking to become a musician of any kind it’s important to understand where the music you aspire to make has come from. It’s a great reference point for what works and what doesn’t.

My current sound is more on the early 90’s New Jersey and Chicago deep house vibe. I really like the jazz influence, it gives it a lot of depth. I’d say I arrived at this sound because I got bored with the formulaic productions that most “nu” disco artists are coming out with. I’ve always loved house but for a bit I was on the “nu” disco kick. (I hate that term by the way) I became increasingly frustrated with how boring it got. I wanted something with more substance and a bit darker so I went this route. Maybe subconsciously because I wanted to do something completely different than what everyone else was doing at the time. And just to clarify, I still love disco!

Our current sound as a collective is more of a very unique blend of Greg’s remarkable ear for older deep cuts and my take on what’s going on in the present. I think we lend each other a good balance of old and new.

Greg: My current sound (Greg D.) and our current sound (Risky Disko) are very different. With my personal sets, I try my best to select songs most of the audience have never heard before. My goal is to create a new experience for young people by using music older generations experienced before them.

Crouse and I have completely different styles when we play separately. Risky Disko's sound is more than a combination of the two styles… We didn't want to put out music where the viewer could say "this sounds like Greg D." or "this is Crouse's part of the mix". We wanted to merge the sounds close enough together that they create a new style, not just both our personal styles played together…if that makes sense.

DPC: What do you guys see in the future of Risky Disko?

Crouse: I see a summer prison tour, where we go and perform for inmates and spread the gospel of house music to those incarcerated. They need to dance too!

Greg: I'd like to push Risky Disko as much as we can. Spinning with a partner adds a whole new element to DJing, and is something I really enjoy doing with Crouse. Who knows where I could go….Risky Disko Essential Mix?!?

Big thanks to Risky Disko for sitting down with us and giving us a great mix for DPC!

Plain and simple, these guys did what they set out to do on this mix. It's a great combination of both DJs' strengths, with none of the weaknesses. Ranging from the dark, heavy house of Andre Crom and Alex Mine to the feathery, upbeat boogie of Betoko and Lovebirds, Risky Disko excels at finding balance and keeping the mix focused throughout. Can't wait to see what these guys do in 2013!

1. Extra T’s – E.T. Boogie
2. Atlantic Conveyor – We Are
3. Seelenluft – Manila (Headman Mix)
4. Miguel Campbell – Kiss and Tell
5. Bonar Bradberry – Siula Grande (Pete Herbert Remix)
6. Josh T – Green Surprises
7. Joe Smooth – Promised Land
8. Lovebirds – Want You In My Soul (Hot Toddy Remix)
9. Betoko – U So Fine
10. Greg D. – If You’re Good to Me (I’ll Be Good to You Baby)
11. Frankie Knuckles – Baby Wants To Ride
12. No Regular Play – Endangered Species
13. Get Well (Ryan Gagnon + Crouse) – Simon Says
14. James Silk and Andre Crom – Perfect Thing
15. Alex Mine – You Know it’s Right
16. Desos – House Music (James Johnston Remix)
17. Roland Clark & Andre Crom & Martin Dawson – Back to the Future
18. Ben Pearce – What I Might Do (Harry Wolfman Remix)
19. Deadly One – Maison Profunde
20. Triumph feat. Valldeneu – Discover (Jimmy Edgar Remix)
21. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Your Love (Waze & Odyssey Street Track Mix)
22. Lee Foss & MK – Goodnight Moon

More Risky Disko:

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