by Maxwell Young

Headed to Brooklyn: Jamel Zuñiga's "Tetra-125BPM" mix, facilitated by PROGRAM LABS by Maxwell Young

If it ain’t thumping…if it ain’t thudding, then it ain’t Jamel.

DJ Jamel Zuñiga at Tech Yes at Sandovan Restaurant and Lounge in D.C., 1/24/19 | Polaroid by Maxwell Young

DJ Jamel Zuñiga at Tech Yes at Sandovan Restaurant and Lounge in D.C., 1/24/19 | Polaroid by Maxwell Young

“Tetra-125BPM” facilitated by PROGRAM LABS, is the latest mix by Washington, D.C. based DJ Jamel Zuñiga.

Press play and close your eyes. It’s the weekend, or maybe a Thursday night function, and you’re somewhere off the L-Train in Brooklyn at a warehouse at four o’clock in the morning. Work and errands are imminent, but the pulse of the speakers keep your feet in rhythm. This is the sonic pocket where Zuñiga wants to transport you, and rarely does he leave it himself.

Baby San Jay on Instagram, FKA Sex God Supreme FKA Ledroit FKA Jay-Z, has become the de-facto techno disc jockey, presiding over the turn tables of a number of restaurants, hotels and music venues as one half of his esoteric dance series with Sir E.U, Techyes. While Zuñiga’s electronic inclinations are ever present at these weekly showings, he’s working in tandem with E.U—the vocals and beat on equal footing—informing a party-oriented environment. The near one hour mix, however, is more quintessential; an inward-looking display of what Zuñiga plays when there’s no one to satisfy but himself.

“[Tetra] is harder, pure techno other than call-and-response beats and rock beats,” he told InTheRough. “This is more a spiritual journey.”

Fall into a trance, listening to the set above.

Run it up: Tedy Brewski drops Count EP, Produced by Djunivrse by Maxwell Young

Time doesn’t exist in my zone.
— Tedy Brewski on "Count"
Polaroid of Tedy Brewski by Maxwell Young

Polaroid of Tedy Brewski by Maxwell Young

Tedy Brewski pulled from the archive releasing Count, his first solo offering in over a year. The new EP produced by Pittsburgher Amadís Amaya AKA djunivrse, dropped unexpectedly at the beginning of April after sitting on ice since its genesis in the winter of 2017.

It’s not that Brewski has been absent from music-making. Find him on Instagram, daily it seems, practicing the acoustic guitar and working with his MIDI keyboard, marketing himself to Roc Nation A&R’s as an in-house beat-maker and writer with his trademark comedic flare. Plus, his SoundCloud credits five features within the last eight months. Yet there’s a disconnect between the Tedy we’ve laughed with on social media and the Tedy we’ve sparsely heard over the calendar year. From the collaborations to the alternative/punk/emo-esque guitar licks and downtempo production of Count, Brewski has revealed a melancholy and anxiety that he says reflects drug use, alienation, and night life.

Take Brewski’s contribution to Charlotte rapper Litreill’s track “questionreality,” where he introspectively ponders over a boom-bap beat, “Why am I alone in a room full of people? but never in my mind—a million personalities.” Or, his verse on "Phantom,” a posse-cut by way of Internet Hippy that elicits a realization of his eccentricity, “A misfit crucified for being different, and when it can’t benefit, that’s when friends become distant.”

Without Brewski’s punch lines and self-deprecating humor, these existential thoughts become intensified. Count stratifies this somber mood as Brewski lays forth what he describes as “wounded aspirations” in his SoundCloud bio. The two opening tracks on the EP allude to such manifestations. “I wanna rock. I wanna rock right now. I really wanna beach chair on my island. I really wanna millie rock with my right hand. I wanna get my money fine, call it finance,” he distortedly raps on “Go Pro.”

“I definitely recorded that music during a dark time,” Brewski told InTheRough.

Marinating on a catalogue of beats and bars from a few other collaborative EPs, Chef Brewski hasn’t recorded any new vocals since December. Newer sounds are on the horizon, though, and it appears Brewski is emerging from the contemplative state for the better. “I’m slowly working on a self-produced project that is definitely more upbeat,” he said.

Until then, re-acquaint yourself with the work of Tedy Brewski and listen to the Count EP below.

Who is SYBYR? TBD...Watch his music video for "Talisman" by Maxwell Young

Songbyrd Music House hosted a slew of DMV’s underground emcees in support of WIFIGAWD and The Khan last Thursday evening in Washington, D.C.

Courtesy of SYBYR’s  Instagram

Courtesy of SYBYR’s Instagram

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the show was DMV native, New York transplant SYBYR’s track, “Talisman.” Donning black lipstick and mis-matched camouflage, he slowed down the pace, ushering moshers into a subdued bop. Formerly known as Syringe, SYBYR channeled enigmatic energies, rapping “Like the talisman, had to make my own magic—balance in the hand.” By the end of the song, the vibe was caught, heads nodding along in support.

SYBYR has added context to this track, releasing the music video to “Talisman” early this morning. The glitchy visuals directed and produced by Bic Flame and Landfill, respectively, feature the rapper in what appears to be an abandoned house—the perfect canvas for graffiti alluding to anarchy and disorder. SYBYR looks comfortable in this realm as we see him rapping through broken window panes and on-top of tables that haven’t been used in years.

Anti-World” is the name of the collective SYBYR reps along with 18 other artists. Its logo, a hand-drawn, exed-out globe, looks like a spider or a gauged eye off first glance. That and the demon illustration that quickly overlays SYBYR’s face in his latest music video are reminiscent of D.C. legend Sir E.U, particularly his M a D a G a S C a R album cover, although we’re unsure of any influences. What is certain, though, is how much of a rage that show would be—a bill featuring the “Hippodramidan” and SYBYR—two of the most eccentric artists we’ve encountered here in the District of Columbia to date.

Stay tuned for more on a new favorite and follow SYBYR on Instagram and Twitter.

Room Haus enlists Tooth Choir for their latest mix, 'FALTER' by Maxwell Young

ROOM delivers their 21st mix featuring Tooth Choir. Play it if you like house. Play it if you like to dance.

Tooth Choir  is also a bass player in D.C.-based band Go Cozy. Polaroid by Maxwell Young

Tooth Choir is also a bass player in D.C.-based band Go Cozy. Polaroid by Maxwell Young

Julian Oliver aka Tooth Choir can be spotted in Washington, D.C.’s underground music scenes. See him above casually playing bass at Gillead Gaari’s communal rave in January. During another outing, I caught him on the decks at Tech Yes where he’s usually amongst the crowd dancing—a consistent frequenter of the weekly series.

He taps back into the groove with this 52-minute mix, “FALTER,” that blurs ambient, house, garage, and techno genres. My dinner prep was slowed last night, taking impromptu dance breaks to feel these varied rhythms.

You can catch another of Tooth Choir’s mixes on SoundCloud that he did for Steam Sesh radio in early 2019. Otherwise, he’s been relatively quiet with music releases, admitting to me that he’s ruminating on some concepts. Stay tuned to InTheRough pages as we await his follow up to Light Rhythms, a six track EP he released last May.

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Tooth Choir Falter mix in the bio.

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Model Home is prepping the DMV music community for more experimentation by Maxwell Young

All of this music is made without any presets.
— Model Home
Pat Cain (left) & NAPPYNAPPA (right) of  Model Home  | Polaroid by Maxwell Young

Pat Cain (left) & NAPPYNAPPA (right) of Model Home | Polaroid by Maxwell Young

Washington, D.C.—We’ve been programmed to listen to and make music based off parameters that have been pre-selected for us.  Songs have to ‘sound like something’ so that they can be played on the appropriate radio stations, placed in the proper cubby holes of vinyl shops, and marketed to the record labels’ desired audiences—all of this to boost the bottom line.  As consumers, we inform this system through our purchasing behavior.  Artists are encouraged to tailor their sounds to those which are most popular and lucrative.  Search “type beat” on YouTube for confirmation.  Kids want to make music and listen to sounds that resemble the production of a Pierre Bourne or Kenny Beats while A&R’s want to find whoever is next, a replication of [insert pop icon].  It’s easy to plug into this equation.

Model Home, however, “is the potential of two people.”  The experimental duo of sonic engineer Pat Cain and emcee NAPPYNAPPA do not follow a blueprint.  They are focused on the freedom to connect with each other and fellow musicians, tapping into the impulses of their present experiences.

“What you guys don’t see: Devante will rap for twenty minutes straight that I edit down to three or four minutes.”  Cain spoke of his partner’s endurance on Late Bloom Radio in January.  “It’s just a zone you get into and it’s cool to be honest with the moment,” he said.

Cain is a Maryland-based transplant from Buffalo, NY and NAPPYNAPPA is a native of Southeast, Washington, D.C.  They have worked in tandem prior to Model Home as Delta-7, an experimental hip hop quartet alongside Tony Cruise and Sir E.U.  Performances at Rhizome and Studio Gaga were far-out, featuring custom synthesizers, voice modifiers, and lyrical improvisation that all mashed together into inscrutable sonic trips.

Model Home is no less experimental.  “They’re all sounds.  Specifically with Pat, there’s a bit more freedom,” NAPPA said on air.  “In the earlier get-togethers, we talked about using the voice as an instrument on equal footing [as production],” Cain explained further.

The two recorded together for nine months before they debuted their first self-titled tape last June.  Since then, they’ve added five more Model Home LPs with a seventh dropping in the spring. They are available on all streaming platforms.  NAPPA, the early-twenty-something, delivers an array of cadences, sliding in and out of sing-songy lullabies that are distorted by Cain’s staticky, radio wave-type bleeps and bloops and electronic production.

“I don’t place the entire Model Home in hip hop or any genre, but the cadences and how I project my vocals are hip hop influenced,” the rapper clarified.

For as textured as these projects sound, most of them are completed in one day’s work. “It’s usually a nice day, nice weather. Not a lot of pressure going on.” Cain insists it’s “just hanging out and making music.”

The recording process is flexible and non-pretentious. Cain listed his basement set up on radio, including “homemade synthesizers, synthesizers in general, surged synthesizers, the geek stuff,” he simplified, “and a lot of tapes, too.”

I caught a glimpse during an evening session with producer Jamal Gray and multi-instrumentalist Dajando Smith. The image of technicolored wires plugged into circuit boards reminded me of an excerpt from Joan Didion’s book The White Album, where she describes a California studio in which The Doors recorded their third LP Waiting for the Sun. She writes, “There were masses of wires and banks of the ominous blinking circuitry with which musicians live so easily.” This comfort must be extended to those who dive into the world of synthesizers; an esoteric community of curious musicians and tinkerers playing with electrical pulses to emanate one-of-a-kind sounds.

In the Model Home studio, audio is recorded onto cassette which is then recorded onto computer where slight edits are made. The three of them—Cain, Gray, and Smith—were jamming, seemingly messing around with ideas and rhythms they would cut at a later time until I realized that those loose compositions were actually being recorded in real-time. There is no planning ahead in these sessions. “If it feels good and it sounds good then that’s what it is,” NAPPA said matter of fact.

It’s easy to label Model Home as a series of left-of-center projects that sound more cacophonous than melodic. At least, that was my sentiment upon listening to MH 1. On the spectrum of experimental and commercial music, Model Home is an acquired taste; however, we are being primed and prepped for a gradual change in music preference as we speak.

Beyond building the architecture of Model Home’s sonic bed, Cain’s modular synthesizer expertise has been sought out by other musicians, collaborating with producer Machell Andre as well as helping Tony Cruise and Sir E.U execute their 2018 LP African American Psycho. There’s demand for the level of experimentation that encompasses Model Home, and having it interpreted by other artists within the DMV’s music community will only make it more encouraged and robust.

Listen to Late Bloom Radio, embedded above, for greater context of Model Home. And Stay tuned to Model Home’s Bandcamp for the drop of MH7 along with their Instagram for show and merchandise updates.