RECENT M E D I A
TRISTES TROPIQUES, RADIOACTIVITY, AUTOBAHN, RADIO RHYTHM, ETC
August 26, 2010 - by Steve Palopoli
The SubZERO Festival in downtown San Jose in June wasn't just an event, it was a statement. It played to all of the city's strengthsinnovative and multicultural, with a mix of artistic traditions and new technologies, it was equal parts style and substance. SubZERO couldn't have come at a better time; from its mind-bending headlining performance by hip-hop producers the Bangerz (with an assist from San Jose Taiko) on down, it symbolized a re-emergence of cutting-edge art and music in the South Bay. The question immediately became: what's next? It would have been a shame if SubZERO had been an anomaly, an isolated incident that failed to build any momentum for the downtown scene. But soon after came Left Coast Live, and then a sleeker, hipper version of the San Jose Jazz Festival.
And now comes an event even more closer in spirit to SubZERO, the 01SJ Festival's AbsoluteZERO. The festival's organizers had actually collaborated with Anno Domini's Cherri Lakey and Brian Eder on the first SubZERO festival, but this year, 01SJ organizers focused on their namesake event while the SubZERO crew went their own way. However, on Friday, Sept. 17, 2010 01SJ will unveil SubZERO's soulmate street fair. It has many of the same features, with, according to organizers, a bit more of a technological bent. Along with some 100 arts projects along South First, there will be two stages of music in the SoFA district, on the Reed Street end and the San Carlos end. DJ Tristes Tropiques will open the music entertainment at 5pm and spin in between sets. Other acts include Jozes Than Wissem, who makes his own instruments and will perform an acoustic set; Inca Ore, an experimental electro-vocalist who uses her microphone/synth setup to modulate her sound; Global Warning, a group featuring Greg Zifcak from the electro-dance duo Eats Tapes, that will take the festival's theme "Build Your Own World" literally by constructing a "paper environment" and enlisting the audience to tear it down at the end; 0th, an all-girl performance-art type band who Skype in their vocals; and punk-droners Clipd Beaks. Also performing is alt-rock quartet Jonas Reinhardt, who headline the stage at San Carlos; San Jose Taiko, who seem to up for some edgy stuff lately and will do a "roving performance," and the cumbia group TurboMex. 01SJ's partners in the street fair include MACLA, the Museum of Quilts and Textiles and the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.
ABSOLUTEZERO will be held as part of the 01SJ Festival on Friday, Sept. 17, on South First Street, beginning at 5pm; free.
Weekend Party Preview: Disco Love and Cosmic Dance
Sunday, August 8
Behind the Beat w/ Tristes Tropiques (Autobahn, Radioactivity), SF Weekly May 6, 2010
By Patric Fallon
Josh Widmann should be a household name in San Francisco. Over the past three years, he's been working a strange, inventive production style as Tristes Tropiques, making frequent radio appearances and hosting numerous club nights around town.
This Sunday, May 9 he launches the brand new club night, Autobahn, and his regular happy hour at 222 Hyde, Radioactivity, follows soon after, on May 21. We had a recent chat with Widmann, who let us in the kind of samples you'll never hear in a Tristes Tropiques track, how he's inspired by the Karate Kid series, and why his heating bill remains low.
How do you describe your music?
Sex Pistols NyQuil Africa
Explain the origin of the name Tristes Tropiques.
It's a memoir about traveling in South America. Nice fricative, heavy French name conjuring up tropical soundscapes and moody vocals. Ultimately, a bad choice due to unpronouncability and its difficulty to remember. However, I'll probably keep it so I can compete with other French sounding DJ brethern like Jacques Renault and Altair Nouveau.
What are some of your favorite samples that you've uncovered and used in your music?
I must admit I enjoy the occasional ceremonial chanting or sandstorm wind record. Oceanic moans and groans are also fun to throw in the background at low levels. I buy lots of vinyl soundtracks because they are usually a dollar or two, and contain great material, anything from synthy credits music to snippets of dialog. International horror film soundtracks also are worth tapping into for direct sampling or inspiration. Language learning LPs can also provide interesting dialog from around the world, along with goofy sound effects used in the tutorial scenarios. One genre remains off limits however: falling water. No raindrops, no rivers.
Describe your home studio set up.
The studio is basically a number of instruments strewn about the apartment. I have some dusty guitar pedals, on-loan synthesizers, MIDI controllers, a $99 "Memphis" bass guitar, an old drum machine my brother gave me, and an Ableton Live setup with 1,000,000 underutilized effects. There are some other rooms I occasionally use, including the EchoPlex (aka the bathroom) and Zootopia-Unbound (aka the backyard).
Besides your computer, what piece of equipment gets the most use when making a track?
Well, all instruments are eventually recorded on the computer, but I am getting better at recording my own handclaps with my microphone. It is easier said than done, especially if you know nothing about "miking" stuff. It is probably spelled "micing" for all I know, but that just looks even more funny.
Are you working on any tracks right now?
I am working on a few songs, most of which incorporate stuttering handclaps and something that resembles a cowbell. I think it's possible to program percussion-heavy tracks that are stimulating to listen to, but not so crazy you cannot locate the 4/4 rhythm driving the song. The recent songs are also marked by barely discernable vocals in the background, some Juno synthwork, and one even includes an attempt at an English accent that only a poorly trained studio Italian singer could produce. I would say recently I'm trying to emulate maybe the style of the '80s synth duo Blancmange. The newer songs I've been working on attempt to be fun, but not as wonky as previous attempts (i.e. no bird noises and less telephone ringing). I'm also working with steam, but when you tell people that, they think you are working on a NIN type of song. Um, some other motifs I'm going for are flute jams with synthesizers. These could be songs you hear during a Karate Kid II montage, for example.
If you could sign to only one label for all time, currently active or not, which one would it be?
ZYX in 1983. Just about "everyone" was on the label. A powerhouse of sorts for Italo, proto house, and electronic disco. Also, it would be fun to be on a label that people probably drunkenly confuse with a zipper brand (YKK).
Tell us about the parties and events you're involved with in San Francisco.
Radioactivity, a cold wave happy hour with Robots.In.Heat on third Fridays at 222 Hyde, has been going on since the end of last year. We play minimal wave, krautrock, Italo-disco, post-punk, and related genres. Autobahn, which will be second Sundays at Koko Cocktails, starts May 9. It is more of an Afro-cosmic and Italo night, so you will hear synthesizers imposed over the occasional Italian rap or pitch-shifting, percussive-heavy songs containing electronic bleeps from roughly 1970-1984. The ubiquitous Conor from No Way Back will be my first guest for the inaugural night. Here are some examples of what to expect:
Burundi Black - "Burundi Black"
Meco - "Ewok Celebration (Club Version)"
Sizike - "Don't Stop"
Who are some of your favorite local producers/bands right now?
There are more bands than I can keep up with, but some of my favorites are ones I have DJed with or seen recently including Group Rhoda, 3Leafs, Bronze, Psychic Reality, Inca Ore, and Ssleeping Desiress. Local producers are a little easier to keep tabs on, but sometimes a little tricky since there are thousands of small press dance labels. It seems I am always learning about someone that has either just moved here or has always been here. Garth and his Grayhound label have been releasing some edited versions of some great post-punk and leftfield disco types of songs. The 40 Thieves collective has put out some stellar recent releases on the Chinatown and Permanent Vacation labels. Tal Klein, with his Aniligital label, and The Beat Broker continue to churn out great tunes every few months.
Any advice for aspiring producers?
Don't be concerned with fidelity at first. Find out what equipment you need to make the sounds you want, and combine them to make the songs you want. Buy old dollar records for sampling based on cover art alone. Sometimes trying random things when recording produces amazing results. I've found it's difficult to be productive unless you get in the habit of working your projects daily--a level of dedication is required. Lastly, keep the blinds shut, turn your TV into a fishbowl, and turn the heat off.
Philadelphia Citypaper, December 26, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
27 S. 21st St.
So its the day after Christmas and your all full of cookies and candy canes and whatever other over-indulgences youve shoved down your throat. Your broke cuz of societys pressure to consume excess nothingness (and ya know that recession thing people talk about). But damnit, you still want to go out to drink and dance! Im sayin you could probably mosey on over to this spot for some cheap beverages plus nice sounds, and have ya self a grand ol time. San Franciscos Tristes Tropiques is bringin his unique and moody stylings of electronic post rock dance hybrids. Hopefully hell bring some of that west coast warmth with him.
Get ya afternoons poppin' with some grub, dranky dranks and smooth music vibes!
w/ Tristes Tropiques, Ed Blammo, No Arms
SF Weekly All Shook Down, December 18, 2009
Radioactivity @ 222 Hyde (Fri.) For those looking to kick start the weekend as soon as Friday happy hour hits, Radioactivity fills the early evening with lots of good tunes. At 222 Hyde, DJs Tristes Tropiques and Robots.In.Heat spin a mix of Krautrock, post-punk, cosmic, minimal synth, Italo, and other "weird and funky shit" between 6 and 9 p.m. Radioactivity is free, and it comes with a happy hour special: $8 for a pepperoni pizza and a beer.
BushwickBK.com, November 21, 2009
Bushwick Culture Weekly Picks 11/19/09
SF Weekly Blog All Shook Down 4/3/09
Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: Tristes Tropiques
Here at SF Weekly, we place
a high value on San Francisco's humble DJ tastemakers. But we also place high
honors on music geeks whose sense of humor (and Jay McInerney appreciation) is as
evident as their vinyl instinct. All this makes post-punk/disco/no
wave/krautrock/etc/etc/etc DJ Tristes Tropiques a fun
dude to do a Q&A with. His setlists are as inspired by filmmakers as they
are by obscure bargain bin finds--and occasionally those affinities will
collide, like when he spins stuff by Jim Jarmusch's old band (as if Jarmusch
needed to be any cooler). For more on this Tristes turntable wizard, read
below, before basking in his extensive collection this coming Tuesday night
So what's your story, in 100 words or less? My
interest in records mostly began out of curiosity. Anytime I heard something
catchy I would try to find out the source - e.g. the bassline from
"Whoomp (There It Is)", which is actually from Italo disco legends Kano, or the Stone Roses'
"Fools Gold" drum break, allegedly recreated in the studio to
sound like the Bobby Byrd original. From there, I began to look for
interesting elements of otherwise bland songs, such as the Glimmers' re-edit
of Billy Idol's "Hot in the City (Exterminator Mix)" which chops
out the fluff.
SF Weekly Blog All Shook Down: Track of the Day 3/20/09
Track of the Day: Tristes Tropiques
By Jennifer Maerz in MP3 of the Day
Friday, Mar. 20 2009 @ 10:52AM
Local DJ/producer Tristes Tropiques has crafted some cool little fever dreams for the dance floor with his tracks "Arabesque" and "Shhh." In the same way that your overnight subconscious blends together non-linear landscapes for a surreal ride, Tropiques uses these tunes to flash mutilple sonic experiences into extended mixes. "Arabesque" lives up to its name, offering hints of heavily reverbed Middle Eastern melodies cascading into an insistant techno beat. "Shhh" continues the foreign excursion, with chopped up chatter in other languages, flirtations with a flute, synth melodies pulsing in and out of your headphones, and beats that move in a stoned stomp. Happy travels from a Triste DJ.
10 Things Under $10 To Do This Weekend
By Jennifer Maerz in Music
Thursday, Mar. 12 2009 @ 7:03PM
Reinhardt at Project One (Saturday)
San Francisco Bay Guardian March 4, 2009
Radio Rhythm presents Brennan Green
Tonight requires you to dance across town, from deep SoMa, where Maurice Fulton is DJing, to the Lower Haight, which plays host to Brennan Green's first Bay Area DJ set in three years. A visit by Green is an occasion partly because his recent recordings on his Chinatown label are ace, pairing sleek and seductive electronics with strong live bass lines and drumbeats. When optimal, the result is a cavernous liquidity that's as Balearic as Norway, which makes it unsurprising to discover that Green and Lindstrψm and Prins Thomas have been remixing each other. (Huston)
With Tristes Tropiques, Kelley B, and Alona
10 p.m.2 a.m., $5$8
424 Haight, SF
SFBG December 30, 2008
Our weekly picks: What to do Dec. 31, 2008 - Jan. 6, 2009
"Dance to Ze Beat" with Sal P. Of all the vocalizations Sal Principato threw out during his tenure with epochal early-'80s polter-funk group Liquid Liquid, the mantra that haunts "Cavern" is probably the only phrase we can parse with certainty: "Slip in and out of phenomenon." In the hands of the Sugar Hill house band, who copied the track to form the basis of Grandmaster Flash's "White Lines (Don't Do It)," the slogan became normalized to "something like a phenomenon," but the original phrasing reflects the way Liquid Liquid represented the center of New York's exhilarating, de-stratified late-'70s/early-'80s downtown scene and a spooky, spacious enclave within it. Considering the mini-revival of all things Downtown 81 over the past two years, and the attendant attempts to make the era's glorious non-specificity cohere as a narrative, Sal P.'s DJ set might make you think twice before you call Liquid Liquid "post-punk." Nobody does the ellipsis like this. (Brandon Bussolini)
With Nate B., Tristes Tropiques, DJ Spun, and Conor 9 p.m.2 a.m., $12 ($10 before 11 p.m.) Edinburgh Castle Pub 950 Geary, SF (415) 885-4074 www.castlenews.com
Myopenbar.com December 30, 2008
Liquid Liquid and Sal P. DJ sets at Edinburgh Castle, one of only four events chosen as a SF Bay Guardian pick for NYE - No-wave New Years. Weve been plugging this monthly all year and are glad to see a down-to-Earth NYE party among the Total Noise. With so much lame shit to chose from tonight, paying for drinks at a big Tenderloin bar appeals to us. That and a dozen or so house parties. The satisfaction of going out, but not to a mindless shitshow. Source: sf.myopenbar.com
Flavorpill December 2008
Between two books detailing the history of no wave, Matt Wolf's excellent documentary on underground dance music producer Arthur Russell, and disco-not-disco tracks popping up in many a DJ's set, 2008 was the year New York's late '70s-early '80s downtown scene experienced something close to a revival. Dance to Ze Beat has lead the charge locally with resident Tristes Tropiques and guests spinning the cream of labels like ZE, 99 Records, and Celluloid. Tonight, the club makes sure that the Downtown 81 vibe carries over into '09 with guest selector Sal P., the vocalist of funk-punkers Liquid Liquid.
Flavorpill: July 15, 2008
galaxy of strange attractors art stars, noise-damaged musicians,
mutant-disco producers, and guerrilla filmmakers that made up the downtown
New York scene in the late '70s and early '80s still holds a fascination for
those born decades too late to crash the party. DJ Tristes Tropiques' new
monthly shindig resurrects the sounds of the era, culling
dance-floor-friendly fare from labels like ZE, Sleeping Bag, and 99 Records.
On the decks tonight are recent Bay Guardian 2008 Hot Pink List nominee and
Honey Soundsystem regular Josh C. and KUSF's Nicole G. Cinephiles take note:
rare films by Kiki Smith and Eric Mitchell are also screened.
This Ain't No Mudd Club, or CBGB But This Is a Party and There Will Most Definitely Be Some Foolin' Around
For a music subgenre most people never even knew existed, No Wave has recently become hot shit. Oakland's Weasel Walter just wrote the intro to a new tome about the arty, noisy, 1970s-'80s New York City scene, Arthur mag columnists Thurston Moore & Byron Coley are about to drop their own No Wave book onto the market, and tonight we have "Dance to Ze Beat." This tribute to Ze Records the record label that released seminal work from No Wavers like Suicide, The Contortions, and Teenage Jesus & the Jerks features host/DJ Tristes Tropiques, DJ Pickpocket (of Donuts! fame), DJ Ellie Erickson (of Erase Errata), and members of Mi Ami, while a screening of Jean-Michel Basquiat's film Downtown '81 provides visual reminders of just how wrecked & ruined New York's Lower East Side used to be, pre-Giuliani & gentrification. No Wave reflected and deflected that decay thru brilliantly new and occasionally brutal music: nihilistic proto-synthpop, screeching tomcat-thrash, wiry spaz-funk, or just plain concrete-smashing noise. Attend this event, then look around at the glut of bloodless new condo developments, and ask yourself: Will all this yuppie bullshit generate a culture that will be venerated 30 years in the future, as this event venerates the old No Wave? D'you think anyone's gonna remember the generic disco fizzibeats they heard while sucking on a chocotini at Le Nouveau Skank "ultra" lounge? And what does the word "urban" even mean anymore? I think you know the answer. You bring the Krylon, I'll swing the wrecking ball. John Graham