19 September 2016: JJC Mixtape Archive 6 – Live and Squirky for Republic

Live and Squirky for Republic
May 2011

When I moved to Yogyakarta, there was no disco, no funk, nothing happening in the nightclubs that wasn’t popular and house-y. Couldn’t get away from the Guetta remix of Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling.” LMFAOver and over and over again. They were playing a lot of music like that Guetta remix, stuff I’d been coming across occasionally and had been tagging “squirky synths” in the comments field.

I wrote to Skinny Friedman around this time and asked what’s up with all these house songs with synth lines I could only describe as “squirky,” and he was like, “Oh, you seem to have missed out on Dutch house. It’s a big deal.” So I gathered up all the tunes in my house/electro stacks that I’d labeled “squirky synths,” and it turned out I hadn’t exactly missed Dutch house, I’d just been labeling it eccentrically. In a contextless sea of mp3s from this blog and that, details about the people making the music (like where they’re from) were scrubbed away, and not all the people making the squirky stuff were Dutch anyway. Afrojack is from the Netherlands, fine, but DJ Bam Bam’s tune “Watch the Club Go” was huge in the clubs in Jogja, and that dude’s from Chicago. It still got a “squirky synths” tag from me, even though it’s a vocal sample that’s all portamento’d in that tune. There’s a version on this mixtape, and in fact the portamentos are autotuned with the retune speed set to create a glissando with discrete steps, like running a hard mallet up and down a xylophone.

In addition to all the “squirky synth” comments, I’d also recently bought Mixed in Key, software that added an ID3 tag for each’s song’s key, which in terms of being able to play songs with which you’re not familiar was a level-up similar to the visual aid offered by Scratch Live waveforms. Armed with those visual aids (I set cue points for mixing in and mixing out), and with the cheat-sheet field for harmonic compatibility, I was able to throw together this live mixtape pretty quickly, which is at times evident in the quality of the mixes. It took maybe a week from selection to finished mix, and it represents my favorites from among the squirky house jawns I acquired by accident and then intentionally after Skinny wised me up. There are even a handful of those squirky tunes on this tape whose merits still stand out despite the came-and-went nature of the genre from which they sprang. And there’s plenty of stuff that’s not squirky, so if you hate those tunes, this won’t be 100% annoying. Matty C’s sampling of Poison in “Action” will never get old. Well, it’ll never get any older than it was when he flipped it, anyway.

When I played this set at Republic in Yogyakarta, I’m not sure Republic had yet partnered with the Positiva DJ school, and I’m not even totally sure the DJ school is the reason for the Positiva appellation. Lots of DJs in Yogyakarta have Positiva at the end of their names. I have an Alice Deejay record on Positiva, but I’m almost certain there’s no official link to that UK record label.

Anyway, get ready for a fair number of monosynth leads with lots of portamento. I think you’ll agree they’re squirky.