WESTERN CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY’s radio station, WXCI 91.7 FM, is throwing a massive Halloween dance party on Thursday, October 27 at Danbury, Connecticut’s Heirloom Arts Theatre.
“Rave to the Grave” will feature four outstanding DJs, including Belgium’s The Magician and Connecticut’s own Elzwerth and Symetrex of the Hartford-based DJ crew, Threshold Sound.
Inside you’ll find two exquisitely devised sets – Symetrex’s newest installment in his 5 Leagues Deep series and Elzwerth’s Beer for Food Stamps – and a brain-picking interview with Elwerth on his craft, his crew and his DJ career.
WESTERN CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY’s radio station, WXCI 91.7, is throwing a massive Halloween dance party on Thursday, October 27 at Danbury, Connecticut’s Heirloom Arts Theatre.
Rave to the Grave (free for Western students) will feature four outstanding DJs, including Belgium’s The Magician and Connecticut’s own Elzwerth and Symetrex of the Hartford-based DJ crew, Threshold Sound. Symetrex and Elzwerth thrash around in countless musical styles, including dubstep and drum n bass.
Below you’ll find two exquisitely devised sets – Symetrex’s newest installment in his 5 Leagues Deep series, Volume 4, and Elzwerth’s Beer for Food Stamps – and a brain-picking interview with Elwerth on his craft, his crew and his DJ career.
Student tickets for “Rave to the Grave” must be reserved in advance through Western’s box office, reachable by phone at (203)837-TIXX. Advance tickets to the general public are $12 (order here), and door tickets will be $15. Doors open at 7pm. Heirloom is located at 155 Main Street in Danbury.
The Mercurial’s interview with Elzwerth
The Mercurial: You and Symetrex have been spinning together for years, but your styles are quite distinct. Can you talk about your own personal style, and what kind of musical experience we will get from an Elzwerth/Symetrex tag team?
Elzwerth: my style pretty much evolved from a lack of solid musical upbringing. until i found this scene, i really didn’t know too much about what i wanted out of music. when i first experienced the emotional extremes offered up by this music i was hooked. i’d hear absolutely beautiful, heart-swelling tunes and brutish, visceral tunes in the same night. i’ve always strived to find ways to capture both sides of that experience in my sets and working with symetrex certainly allows for that, often times more than working solo. we both have a lot of common ground as far as taste goes, but we both also have individual traits that the other does not. i tend to throw in whatever turntablism i can and have a strong leaning towards things with a 90’s ish hip-hop feel to them or a cheesy rave vibe while symetrex will lean a lot on the more modern era of rap along with very lush and soulful melodies. we definitely both love songs that are loud and mean as hell, and we both love going from track to track quickly. if any one is exposed to us enough to have developed a preference i promise you’ll get the best of both worlds when we play together.
M: Tell me a little bit about your DJ crew, Threshold Sound. What does the future look like for you all?
E: Threshold is invincible, straight up. i love every one in the crew. it was started in 04 and [Symetrex and I] joined up with them in 06. it’s a very diverse selection of people, both in background and musical preference. im always proud to say that those people are my friends before anything. sure, we can combine forces and stir up quite a ruckus but i can honestly say that i’d be just a comfortable in some random bar just talking to any of them. i’d say the future looks pretty good. elijah divine is releasing an album next month on 11/11 called divine intervention and a lot of us will be playing with him on his release tour. there’s a collaborative show nov 5th with some of our crew playing with the 2kdeep crew. dubbage soldiers on every friday, now into it’s third year as ct.’s best dubstep night. i could go on but it’d take up like 6 pages. there’s a lot to be excited for, both as individuals and as a collective.
M: Tell me about how you record a set at home to release to the public. How do you decide on songs? How long does the process take, from practicing to getting the perfect take?
E: it can be a giant pain in the ass actually, but only because i make it that way. typically the process will start with me preparing for a live set and really liking at least 50% of it enough to go back and give it a second look after i’ve done it live. then i just start tweaking the middle of it, fixing all the things that bothered me about it and filling in the blanks so to speak. when that’s all done and i’ve wrung out my brain about 20 times over, i hunt down the right intro song. there’s no explainable criteria for it, you just know when you hear it. zack knows what i mean. a lot of times theres something i want to fit in a set that ends up being completely left out because of how the overall tone evolves as it progresses. once you get the ball rolling, the set kind of builds itself and all that is left to do is polish it’s edges and end it off just right. when it’s ready, i record it onto my laptop and listen to it in my car on a long drive. if im satisfied, i send it off to my buddy mike skillz, who masters it for me. from start to finish i’d say a demo set usually takes about 2 months but that’s dealing with life’s distractions as well as doing shows.
“lot of djs get attacked for using controllers or cdjs. i’ve gotten into the habit lately of saying that that is an argument amongst cooks. and if the restaurant is succeeding and the food is good then who really cares if the cooks are fighting?”
M: You guys do some spine-tingly make-me-dance switch ’em ups in your sets. In Symetrex’s “5 Leagues Deep Volume 4”, the set ascends and descends to different levels, each with their own groove, and Elzwerth, I love the mash-up you did with Harry Belafonte’s Day-O in “The Dog Shit Diaries”. Get technical with us and explain how you craft these intricate mash ups.
E: well i didn’t actually make that mash-up, it’s by a group called 45 thieves. but half of the challenge, these days anyway, is knowing when to use that kind of a gimmick (for lack of a better word). when some one who doesn’t know exactly what djs like us do listens to a mix, i imagine it’s kind of nondescript and open to interpretation more than some other music. there’s not a lot of vocals to guide some one into feeling a certain way, there’s not a clear message. playing a mash-up of a more popular song kind of pulls the listener back to the real world for minute by offering a bit of familiarity. it’s just a question of feeling out the right time to incorporate that feeling into the overall work. day-o wouldn’t have worked at an earlier part of that set because earlier on it has more of an hard, industrial sound going on. i chose to put it where i did because at that point in the mix the tone was shifting to a more organic feel and that track made the change more seamless.
M: Let’s talk digital vs. analog. You guys spin records, while some DJs prefer composing and spinning solely on the computer. What tools and programs do you use, and what skills do you need to bring everything together?
E: oh man, i have to tread lightly here. the digital vs analog debate, or more accurately the vinyl vs everything else debate, is such an incendiary topic amongst djs these days. together, symetrex and i have a killer vinyl collection. we spun records for years before cdjs and serato came about as mainstays in the scene. i feel like if you’re going to be a dj then you should be able to spin records. that’s not to say it’s wrong to graduate into a broader realm of tools but vinyl is the foundation and i feel it should be respected. i use both currently, serato and vinyl. as far as the skills to make it all work? practice practice practice. serato is my preferred tool when working with digital media because it still uses turntables. but i won’t hate on some one for using other means to play, as long as it sounds good. a lot of djs get attacked for using controllers or cdjs. i’ve gotten into the habit lately of saying that that is an argument amongst cooks. and if the restaurant is succeeding and the food is good then who really cares if the cooks are fighting?
M: To many people, you probably have a somewhat obscure taste in music, although Elzwerth, I know you’ve spun Mariah Carey, and Symetrex has done some work with Ozzy’s “Crazy Train”. What’s your favorite mainstream tune to spin, and what do these songs add to your sets?
E: it’s definitely hard to pick a favorite. i love adding in crazy tunes from other genres, it takes skill to do it well and it can really individualize your sound and abilities to an audience. i’ve always liked ending sets with a slayer remix and then using an old tv samples record i have that has the incredible hulk screaming then the closing music from the hulk tv show in the 70’s, it’s a slow, lilting piano tune that really ends things off nicely. i’ve also recently been playing a remix of metallica’s “and justice for all” that really seems to get people’s attention. but i think my favorite would be using heart “what about love?”. a guy named deos sampled part of it in a jungle tune so i decided i throw the real version over it and see how it sounded. it’s awesome, the melody builds against a drum heavy back drop and just as the vocal gets ready to break into the chorus (which you wait the whole track for in this mix scenario, it’s kind of a tease and i love it), and right before it hits i rewind the deos tune real hard and hold the heart tune until there’s just a half second of silence and then drop the “WHAT ABOUT LOVE?!”. it’s killer, makes me grin just thinking about it.
M: Welp, thanks so much Elz! See you at Rave to the Grave!