Bring on the Tahoe beats
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There is a family of friends in Tahoe who share love for a musical genre that continues to maintain a steady following, though it’s still mildly underground, into the 21st century.
Despite oft expressed opinion that electronica would fade with the rave scenes of the early ’90s, recent electronic shows in Tahoe look to prove that, not only has electronica not faded, but also that the fundamental flexibility of the spinning art form has allowed the electronic sound to remain at the cutting edge of musical expression.
“What’s happening is we’re breaking down the barriers and the stigma associated with electronic music,” said Brynn Herrlein, a local DJ who describes his style as fast and dirty, and has been playing to Tahoe and west coast crowds since 2000.
“I think that (electronic music) is really being recognized as a legitimate musical art form. I think because of that, people seek it out and then end up finding something they can relate to in it… If you like jazz, then you might like house, or deep house. If you like punk rock, you might like break beats,” Herrlein said.
The variety of expressions possible within the electronic genre was certainly exemplified by the array of sounds produced by eight unique DJ sets over the course of two electronic shows recently put together by the Champagne and Bacon Production Company and hosted by the Crystal Bay Club.
DJ sets ranged from fast, aggressive break beats thrown down by internationally renown DJ Icey, to the mixed and funky house of local favorite, DJ sWiTcH, to the dark and hypnotic style of the Bay Area’s TINOCORP to the organic, chunky, deep-beat house of Lorin Bassnectar, who packed the Crystal Bay Club with a wildly enthusiastic crowd back on March 11.
“I feel like the scene in Tahoe is moving forward and keeping it real rather than dwelling in the past,” said Tim Watson (DJ T Dub) a break beat DJ, who said he has been playing spinning gigs in Tahoe for the past three years.
“Up here you have an older generation, people that are 24 to 35 years old, not 18-year-old candy kids,” Watson said. “And it is a good scene. Right now we hear a lot of funky house and harder house as opposed to some of the trance shows you used to hear in the early ’90s. I think that shows wisdom in getting older and developing the possibilities of this music.”
Incliners Ryan Chernick and Steve Emmerich, put together the Champagne and Bacon Production Company last year after having unofficially hosted electronic music parties around the North Shore of Tahoe since the millennium. Like musicians Herrlein and Watson, both Chernick and Emmerich think there is room in the electronic scene in Tahoe for expansion and look forward to helping build public exposure to the music played by local DJs as well as to bring outside DJs into the basin.
“We try to expose people to stuff that we like,” Chernick said. “And for every show that we do, we like to have some locals mix in with out of town talent – you gotta represent the home town.”
Lucky for Chernick and Emmerich, representing the home town of the North Shore is no problem as there continue to be many local DJs with years of spinning experience eager to play to interested audiences. On top of the local talent, Chernick said it has not been hard to entice some of the bigger name artists like Icey and Bassnectar to the area.
“DJs want to come here,” said Chernick. Chernick speculated that part of the reason he and Emmerich have been able to secure the presence of outside DJs to Tahoe venues has to do with not only the resort appeal of Tahoe itself, but also with Tahoe residents’ reception of their music.
“(DJs) love playing in Tahoe… they love Tahoe people,” Chernick said.
North Shore DJ Evan Bender agreed. “Tahoe is such a friendly scene compared to cities,” Bender said. “The (Tahoe scene) is a family scene and there is that sense of an extended bond when the music is thumping. It is not too difficult to tune into that vibe if you are open minded.”
Bender, who plays break beats and house, said in recent years his own style has gotten more aggressive, a subtle shift in focus he said is related to national and international politics: “It is hard to be happy-go-lucky with your beats when everything around you is swirling chaotically. Music is always a good expression for young people’s frustration.”
The Champagne and Bacon Production Company along with local DJs said they throw out a special “Thank You” to the Crystal Bay Club for being so supportive of their shows and considerate towards their performers.