It may be hard to believe, but being much older than I act, I've actually been making electronic music since 1982. Since I have yet to get it right, I will likely be making it until my synapses cease to fire.
In 1982 I bought my first synth, a Yamaha CS01 and I was hooked. After hearing Thomas Dolby on the radio I realised that the only thing left to do was sell my guitars. Within a couple years I had a Moog, an Arp, a Korg and a Roland. My band mate, Steve Wytas, had begun collecting drum machines and effects. In 1985 our electronic outfit The Free World won a spot on the CMJ magazine's best unsigned bands contest (thanks WFCS, New Britain,CT for submitting us ). Having only released tapes to our freinds, we found ourselves on
Epic Presents the Unsigned - 1985.
We followed it up in '86 with our Debut LP Amagi on CT based indie label, VSR. It got some nice reviews, some good college radio air play and we even played live a few times. Back in the studio we polished up our follow up The Tyranny of Culture when we weren't producing tracks for our clients at Technorubble Recording Studio. These included some early hip hop, r&b, indie rock bands as well as commercial music for corporate videos and radio spots. While a few indie lables did express interest, the second album never really saw the light of day as our diverging interests lead Steve and I to split up the band and the studio.
The late eighties found me putting out occasional tracks on compilations with my various colaborators. Doug Turek and I were The Industrious Fleas and had tracks on two compilations of late 80s underground industrial/electronica (Back to the Grindstone KO City Studios and Raw Milk TOTC/Ersatz) . Through Hartford's DJ extrodinaire Andy Taylor I met Tackhead's Skip McDonald who one day came over to my basement studio to see if I could help him work on tracks while they were at home in CT. Basicly this was an audition that involved me sampling whatever he threw at me on the s900. When bandmate Doug Whimbish later asked Skip what he thought of my "skills", he was reported to reply:
"Man, that is one button pushin' m*tha f*cka!".
I worked on solo material, started a label with Doug Turek and Micheal Deming called Turn of the Century Records, but electronic music had by then become a part time hobby.
In 1990 my friend Tom Gromak was djing at WFCS and had the "local" artist Artitectura, on to do an interview. It was Taylor Dupree, and after I had heard a few tracks I gave the radio station a call. So many cool things were happening in dance music at the time and it seemed that Taylor and I were on the same wavelength. We formed Decameron and made two full length casette "releases" for his Havoc Music label.
One track made its way to a Rhino Records "Compno" compilation Rave New World as Microbar. We loved Meat Beat Manifesto and later The Shaman. There was a whole wave of sounds coming from the former industrial artist and colliding with the emerging American house scene and it was all one great big thing to us. In 1992 Tom Gromak helped Taylor and I put together a compilation cd of electronic artists we knew called Galaxies. This CD reads as a who's who of the early 90s CT electronic underground. I did a track with Natasha Rhethke as Esop, there's one from Decameron, and a track by a group called Prototype 909, consisting as it did then of Taylor Deupree and my new "raving" buddy Dietrich Schonemann. There was no 303, no 808 or 909, in fact there was hardly any beat at all….
And then one day in 1993 I came home from work and I got a call from Dietrich who was at Taylor's Manhattan apartment. The dude could barely contain himself let alone speak: "Taylor found one, we got it!!" and the unmistakable chirp of a 303 came through the ear peice spoke to me, saying: "get in the car now! drive as fast as you can! go to the corner of Mott and Houston, NOW is the time!" That night and the next day the three of us sat on the floor and finished Acid Technology which would become our first album for Sonic Records (Instinct) as Prototype 909.
We did our first live show that fall in Scanton PA and met Abe Duque. If three techno geeks could get on the same wavelength then they could in fact act as one DJ with six hands! But by using analog gear making the patterns, beats and sounds "on the fly" we could mess with the ravers' heads in the most microscopic ways. It was fun! We did many, many, many more live shows so I moved to Brooklyn, NY. We loved playing live at first, as it seemed as if we had stumbled onto something.
Dietrich and Taylor worked at Instinct now and put together a new comp called Analogue Heaven (named after the gearhead mailing list) with p-909 of course, bpmf's first release Electrolyte, some other really insane techno and one from Industrial Strength's Disintegrator. I had seen and heard Disintegrator a couple of times, but at Net Magazine while I was working for Satelitte I finnaly met John Selway. We talked about music and found we shared a fondness for the early eighties sounds.
In 1995 John and I decided it was time to reinject some funk into the techno sound and started Serotonin Records. bpmf was getting into chillout (too much aceed does that to one) so ser-01 had some space music from me. Selway on the other hand helped define the Serotonin sound with Ion. This inspired our new group Synapse to get even more new-wavie on ser-02. Also in 1995 Prototype 909 released Transistor Rythmn, bpmf released the Button EP on Abe Duque's Rancho Relaxo Records.
Then one day, Abe Duque called and told some freinds of his and I to meet him at the Limelight and to bring: 1. gear and 2. records and 3. be prepared to work both. And we did. I dragged John along, Dietrich and Taylor were there, Zach, Liza, Jochen and special guest from the techno world were passing through all the time. One day, the Rancho Relaxo All-Stars brought our dats, and set up a "live" jam at the Cave in Hollis and made Hygiene Mental. Later in Munich, Upstart had a few too many drinks and decided to put it out on Disco B. The rest is prehistory….
Meanwhile, John and I went mad and decided to put out a record of nothing but loops from people we knew around the world. Then John, Synapse and bpmf traded release throughout the rest of the 90s while finding people like Bill Youngman, Fabrice Lig and even Fischer Spooner.
bpmf had a few other releases, on my Schmer label (Delancey Tracks) and on Minneapolus based Electric Music Foundation. Synapse and bpmf also appeared on a few compilations. In 98, after bpmf's one and only European tour with DJ Walker, Frank Heiss and Freddie Fresh, I came home and did the Multiples EP.
By then I had tired of my electronic personea "bpmf" and decided to put him to rest, releasing ser-11 as Jason Szostek ( what a concept, my own name!). Prototype 909 released Joined at the Head on Caipirinha Records. Shortly thereafter, Prototype 909 broke up, I left the Rancho Relaxo All-Stars, and moved to Philly. Serotonin limped along until 2000 and Synapse continued to record on and off never again to release anything.
After ser-16 Fischer Spooner, John and I put Serotonin to sleep. He would become a "world famous DJ" and I would become a "Systems Administrator" at an Ivy League University. I did not retire, I just went from being semi-professional to full-on amature. In the last 5 years, taking my rediculously sweet spare-time I have recorded almost 2 full length albums, some of it is actually finished. All of it much closer to the heart and soul of what I had always been trying to accomplish than anything I could do under the pressures of trying to keep an underground label going while paying New York City landlords!
In 2004 The Rancho Relaxo All-Stars got back together, with bpmf and did a 3rd album "The Answer is Always Yes" is out now on ADR. We did a European tour in January and had a blast. John and I are working up a release schedual for Serotonin Phase II which may see some bpmf and WILL see some new Synapse, berhaps even a full length. I will be releasing my first solo cd ever this year. Prototype 909 is touring the USA again, catch us in your town soon.
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