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The Internet: A modern record store

I can remember a time sifting through a stack of vinyl in a local music store while being able to look outside and watch the cars go by. Some unknown indie rock song would play on the speaker system, hand picked by the owner of the store. The feeling of holding a new artist’s CD in my hands or looking through an assortment of tapes in their plastic packages, you know, “they were white colored hard plastic that the front desk had to open.” Asking the girl at the front of the store if they had a certain artist, and being led to a bin to dig for that album, usually on tape. These were the 90’s, a time where the independent record store was floating happily above water, and all the while the major labels were booming. There was balance, there was a want for a physical medium. The feeling of ownership was burning in your heart when you entered through the door and heard the bell ringing above your head. A time in the States that I remember well…

The small record store was truly independent. Over time this commodity we all took for granted started to fade by the change of the millennium. The Digital age: where a store no longer meant a place where you walked in and spoke to a warm human but where large corporations fed you what they wanted you to buy instead of a select hand-picked assortment of punk albums or local indie bands. Tower Records and other traditional record stores began to fade and the major retailers became the place to buy your favorite music. But the music store, was it dead yet? The Internet is now being noticed more by non-tech savvy music lovers, than just your average nerdy stereotype. Or kids who use to play MUD on their college terminals, instead of studying for their mid-terms. Napster appears three years later and changes all the rules, and a demand for quick download-able ‘free’ media was born.

Over time companies started to appear, websites would join in this moving trend and apple iTunes became the leader in the digital market. The rule of the album was no longer valid, as now a song equals a dollar. Then something happens, a company called Bandcamp joins the world of digital music by 2007 and brings forth that old warm feeling of the record store. You are now able to create your own storefront digitally, set your prices and make a profit, with 0 overhead. “Something of a dream to most in the 90s who might have needed a second mortgage to afford a small store to sell indie music.” DIY musicians flooded the online indie scene by the first decade of the 2000s. Then one by one other digital websites appear and thus begins the streaming war. But today people still love that feeling of ownership,  and that warm crackling sound of your favourite vinyl album. Even tapes never lost their mystery to the new listener.

By 2012 and onward the craze to ‘buy’ music starts up again. What use to feel like a dying thing is now a demand to own ‘something.’ Record Store Day opens in 2015 and the entire world is faced with a demand for vinyl production but years after this need ended. While all this was happening, WEATNU appears and starts to come to the surface to join the indie scene. Ignored and greatly talented electronic artists become selected like soldiers in an army to join the ranks with the best musicians in the world. Then their music is presented directly into the light for a niche world to meet a niche musician and history is made. The indie scene comes in different forms and everyone is talking DIY. The artist and fan meet on social media and finally once again, thanks to the Internet and the love of music, the record store returns. And it might not be a place where you can go and pick up the band you love or ask to have your white tape seal removed. But since the online record store is here, we can have that warm feeling again when we buy music from a new indie artist. But something big is happening around the world, people once again want to own a part of the artist, and thats a good thing.

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EDM vs Electronic

Age gaps have always been trouble for any friendship or relationship, the further away someone is to another the less chance we have at getting them to understand or relate where we are coming from. History is lost between the genres and you end up with two completely different era’s and sides. #WEATNU has set out to end this confusion and present the history of Electronic music to the modern EDM youth, but when one side is confetti and loud music, the other side is dark lit clubs with soulful beats and aging DJ’s, along with their aging synthesizers and drum machines, then it becomes difficult. Enter the gap between two genres of music. One side the mainstream, the other the underground. The electronic music lover from the past 20 years is slowly approaching their 40’s, some started even younger and moving into their golden years. Early 20 somethings don’t have time to hear what the electronic sages are saying. But what we’re trying to do is present them with the ability to discover what electronic music is now, and how it’s just as strong today, if not stronger than it was 20, 30 years ago. Much of what we heard ‘back then’ is indeed underground.

When the EDM explosion hit about 2009, it appeared as if the entire world turned it’s head to this Swedish-based progressive trance/house anomaly, equipped with 90’s rave girls and kandi kids selling modern homemade go-go wear. It’s the modern version of Electronic, a place where the youth can go and relax, push themselves to the limit and just get crazy, prob more crazy than my 90’s generation ever was. When you have two sides trying to present each others music, this is where the trouble begins. A twenty year old college student doesn’t get what Boards of Canada is, or wants to, or better yet Underworld, Orbital or even Kraftwerk. 90’s rave culture was all about the music, the energy and yes, drugs. EDM is all about the festival, sometimes the music and yes drugs. Where these two cultures are now is very difficult for the other to notice or even relate. Try telling a 20 year old about the greatness and history of Electronic music and why their EDM is so popular, they will just ignore you and put on their Deadmau5 ears and go on. And yes EDM is here because of the great vibrant history of 30 years of Electronic music.

Something needs to be done to save our history of electronic music, preserve it. I personally miss the days of discovering new underground electronic genres such as DnB, Dub, Experimental, where your heart moved to the rhythm, it was soulful, it was magic. Being American and hearing a underground UK artist gave me a warm feeling. Today the endless array of billionaire titles in a super-saturated market gives EDM its luster. But all this time Electronic lovers who grew up to the classics, try to relate their story to the EDM generation, at how important the history is. It’s akin to talking to your teenager about tin cans and how you would make a telephone from them during the 90’s, then they reach for their iPhone and thumb a few words to their friend in the middle of your conversation. The beauty of #WEATNU is the variety of sub-genres we provide to the masses, if they would only listen. Our attempt is to present them with these modern underground musicians who simply want to share their experience with others, and do not care to adhere to the mold of EDM to be heard. These artists are shaping a new genre, and even without #WEATNU, this in time was bound to happen. Humans decide the fate of music, because everyone has tastes. Is Electronic better than EDM? Only the electronic lover can answer that. But between the genres, one is like oil and one is like water, and oil and water never mix.

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Interview with wasaaga

‘Electronic music is without limits, the same is true with the experimentalists of our time. wasaaga’s music is between art, culture and beat-orientated patterns, coupled with melodies that make you dream of unknown places, but so much more. #WEATNU DM had a moment to hear what wasaaga had to say about his music, he is a solo artist from Michigan.’ 

Photography by Ben Armes 

How are you doing today?

wasaaga: I’m pretty good, man. feeling very mellow today. Sunday seems to have that effect, haha.

Great to hear that! We’ve been playing your music for some time on #WEATNU OUR, but some haven’t heard you in #WEATNU, could you tell us about your style and music?

wasaaga: My music is ambient, eclectic, and raw; even disorienting at times. It’s a constant experimentation. I’m learning all the time.

How long have you created this type of electronic? I hear dream-like moments with side-chained instruments connected to each other.

wasaaga: I enjoy that description! Haha! I’ve been building electronic music for about 5 years now. Yeesh.

Were you making music before that time?

wasaaga: I was! I’m originally a drummer. I have been since I was about 14-15, so prior to electronic music I was playing in bands. Believe it or not, I originally come from playing metal!

It’s not surprising as I come from a guitar background myself. Could you tell us the story behind wasaaga?

wasaaga: Wasaaga is a place I spent a big chunk of my childhood at. My family and I grew up there. it’s always been a place of inner peace for me; a place to let everything go. My family eventually sold their property there, but that place has always inspired me, and the feeling that place gave me has always served as a huge inspiration to what I create.

That is a great story, you can feel it behind the music with the pulsing rhythms. Much like when I first heard “The Truman Show” your concept album taken from the film.

wasaaga: Absolutely!

How did you come up with the inspiration to write such a unique album?

wasaaga: I was really just learning. Truman was a huge learning experience for me. I’m pretty impartial to it now, myself, but it’s cool people are still finding something special in it. Truman was really me learning how to come into my own, and for that, it served it’s purpose. Overall, it taught me a ton about what my goals were and what I wanted to do with my projects.

<iframe src=”https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/49161955&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”450″ frameborder=”no” scrolling=”no”></iframe>

Would you consider yourself an avant-garde.

wasaaga: I think it’s hard for me to self-assign a title like that. I’m just doing what feels right to me. What it’s considered is up to the listener, really.

Kind of a post-art, that’s more or less what I was speaking of, one can’t label avant-garde, thankfully. What projects have you been up to these few years?

wasaaga: I’ve mainly been working on my debut LP, “Wasaagamach,” which we’re hoping to release later in the Spring.

Is wasaaga one person or more?

wasaaga: It’s all my vision; however, there are more people involved with the construction of this project than just me. All of the music is written by me, though.

Kind of a collage of minds then?

wasaaga: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it.

<iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/104864175″ width=”500″ height=”281″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”></iframe>

artist profile – wasaaga. from wasaaga. on Vimeo.

Do you play often in venues in your area, around Michigan?

wasaaga: Not yet. We’re still building the live set. We’re working to create an audio-visual experience for shows, but we’re not quite there. So not yet. But soon!

What influences have you had had to create your music, and how did you get started creating electronic music?

wasaaga: I’m really inspired by my friends. Some of my closest friends started to pick it up and I guess it just stuck. I really loved the element of sonic exploration, and it kept me coming back for more.

Do I hear hiphop beats in your sound?

Brad: I pull a lot of inspiration from the genre, so yeah, I’d say so.

What kind of music did you grow up to, do I hear a hint of Classical?

wasaaga: I grew up with a pretty wide genre range. I came from metal, which I think has endless correlations to classical music. Listening to progressive music growing up, things so complex in theory and structure, really taught me about what makes classical music so amazing.
These days, I’m very interested in the world of minimal classical music. Artists like Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, etc. So it’s definitely an influence, yes.

Did you learn how to write music through the experience of simply listening?

wasaaga: It’s a happy balance between listening and experimentation.

Was Wasaaga here in the States or elsewhere?

wasaaga: Canada, actually.

Canada is very open to electronic artists these days, they would be open to your unique sound.

wasaaga: Absolutely, I agree. Especially the west side.

How do you start music, from scratch?

wasaaga: Usually from scratch, yes.

Special Daw?

wasaaga: Propellorhead Reason.

<iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/75412699″ width=”500″ height=”281″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”></iframe>

Sounds of Skateboarding from Brad Stencil on Vimeo.

You’ve also done some special video work for Sounds of Skateboarding, what is the story behind that? 

wasaaga: An old friend of mine, Brad Stencil, always had this idea to create a skate film scored by the sounds made when skateboarding. He and his closest friends went out and recorded samples from the park, which would eventually come together to create the score.

Have many seen the amazing artistry of this video?

wasaaga: Yeah, a good amount have. I was interviewed by Everything Sounds about the project, and for a while that interview was #2 in the storytelling category on Souncloud. I’d call that a success.
It also premiered at the Broke Student Film Festival last year.

It certainly is brilliant.

wasaaga: Thank you, sir!

Very welcome. Do you also play the keyboard?

wasaaga: I do! I was classically trained in piano but had a falling out. The motor memory is still there, so once I started writing my own material my passion for it came back.

How has your music be received in We are the New Underground?

wasaaga: Pretty well, from what I can tell. It’s very cool what you guys have going.

It was important to find the talented artist and let the world know about them, that’s been the mission.

wasaaga: It’s great, man.

Do you have a plan for the future of wasaaga, looking to expand into bigger places, live and so forth?

wasaaga: Definitely. Just plan to keep working and see where it goes!

How many albums have you’ve written since you began?

wasaaga: I guess this upcoming release would be my fourth.

Have you heard any artists swimming around in #WEATNU?

wasaaga: Yeah, I like to keep up with the station when I can. I’m loving a lot of material on there.

It’s cool to know people are listening.

wasaaga: Absolutely!

Where can people find your music?

wasaaga: On soundcloud.com/wasaaga

Wishes for SXSW?

wasaaga: Wishing I was there to see Mew. I’m really hoping those performances turn into a U.S. tour.

You could also play there, I’m sure the exposure would be great for you.

wasaaga: Absolutely! I’d love to. One year.

And a curve ball… What’s you’re favourite commercial on tv?

wasaaga: I love the Danny Trejo/Brady Bunch Snickers ad.

Thank you so much for having this interview with #WEATNU DM today.

wasaaga: Absolutely man! Thanks for having me!

And a huge “Good Luck” to your future in music!

wasaaga: Thanks man. You too.

Follow wasaaga on Twitter

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