The Pool welcome our newest addition: Invisible City aka Gary Abugan and Brandon Hocura….
Amidst the seemingly endless flow of reissued and re-edited music that moves at the core of the great vinyl resurgence it is all too easy to become disillusioned. A piece that has sat patiently on your wantslist for years can suddenly become very available via a fortuitous re-issue. In your hands, at last, you pop it on your platter and all your initial joy is flattened; rather than being the faithful sonic reproduction you had hoped for in reality you have your beloved track recorded on to what sounds like a stale quiche. Yet amongst the vulture capitalists brutalising your beloved music there is a healthy flock of labels doing it right and Toronto based Invisible City Editions can be considered to be at the forefront of this honorable breed.
Operated by Brandon Hocura and Gary Abugan ICE have, over it’s three year history, reissued some of the key pieces that have come to feature in the bags of what RA’s Matt McDermott has christened the new “breed” of “digger dj”.
Perhaps dissatisfied with the beige palette of synth dribble that often constitutes the beatfart top 20, DJs have started to look backwards for dancefloor fodder. Thus when rare Trinidadian disco from Stephen Encinas and Haitian electro boogie from Jeancy emerged from the ICE stable it was unsurprising that the singles were quickly consumed by the likes of Hunee, Antal, Four Tet and Caribou amongst many others.
On reading the outstanding interview with team IC courtesy of Juno Plus and Brendon Arnott you learn a lot about the dedication and passion for music that undergirds the ceaseless worldwide quest for these rare records. What you also learn is that a love of film bonds Gary and Brandon, a fact reflected most vividly in the cinematic trajectory that each of the ICE releases seem to have. Encinas’s Disco Illusion was discovered by Gary and Brandon at a record warehouse in Trinidad and to accompany its release a heartfelt exposition from Encinas himself on the substance of the record was posted on the ICE website. Plucked from obscurity after languishing in a damp box and given a new lease of life, Disco Illusion and it’s timeless call to dance can be enjoyed and understood by a new generation.
In the hands of a more fiscally motivated label the message of Disco Illusion may not have been transmitted or at least not with the clarity that ICE achieved. Like the best directors Gary and Brandon are masterful in what Arnott describes as “redefining how we interact with the past”.
This communication extends beyond label ownership as team IC have got pedigree as a DJ duo. Whether it be slaying a festival crowd with a robust set of soundsystem primed island reggae and disco or playing to the more intimate crowd at their second home London’s Brilliant Corners, team IC take dancefloor communication very seriously.
As witnessed on their recent Dekmantel podcast offering they are not averse to letting the well aged fruits of their digging labours rest up alongside newer tackle, so we see 90s zouk from Erick Cosaque in the same mix as a brand new tribal zinger from Randomer.
High demand has seen them play across the world and 2016 is set to be a globe trotting year for the duo with a performances confirmed at the Selectors Festival in Croatia and European tours lined up.
To welcome the guys on to the roster we thought it would be good to pick their brains via an interview which you can read below. They have also recorded us a gorgeous poolside mix which you can find on our soundcloud…
Gary and Brandon welcome to the Pool, it’s great to have you working with us. Brendan Arnott gave a really comprehensive profile of you guys for Juno Plus last year so I’m going to skirt around a lot of the biographical stuff. Can we start on a discussion of the name Invisible City? Is it taken from the Calvino novel?
It is, we are both big Italo Calvino fans. Invisible City started almost ten years ago as a Monday night ‘listening session’ at a local bar. It was totally free format, sometimes it would evolve into a dance party, other times people just sat around listening to weird records. It was basically just an excuse to hang out and share music.
We thought the name was appropriate since we’ve always thought about music as geography, and the idea that mixing records transports you between all these strange places and times periods is something we think about a lot.
The act of reissuing music has morphed from being salvage anthropology to become a many headed beast, some seeking profit and others seeking something else. It feels like you guys fall very much in to the latter category. Can you give us your view of how Invisible City Editions works as a reissue label?
Well it definitely is something other than simply profit for us, but it’s our livelihood now, so we hope our records sell haha. I mean it really isn’t an easy thing to do, and we could be making a living doing some stable clock-in clock-out type thing, but we’re kind of obsessed and love most of what we do. We’re crazy enough to take all of our savings and travel to a country we’ve never been to because we have a lead on some interesting music or artist. I mean it really doesn’t seem like the most rational decision, but we’ve been lucky so far.
We do strike out a lot though when we find artists and they don’t want anything to do with the music they made years ago. Other times we can’t even find artists and so we have to abandon dream releases. Really for each release, so many factors need to come together; obsession, timing, luck, perseverance and just a good vibe about the whole project
In the age of discogs naysayers and other vociferous online critics running a reissue label can be a tricky thing to get right. In my eyes the label seems to get it very right, can you tell us about some of the most positive experiences and feedback you’ve had since starting the label? And how do you respond to any critics?
The best responses for us always come from the artists, when they are excited about their music having another life. Also, it’s always an amazing feeling seeing a crowd of people dancing and singing along to a song that we helped revive. In that moment you think about the artist, all the stories we heard about their lives and music, and the crazy journey the song took to get played in a club in 2015.
Do we have any critics? haha! Honestly I think we’re our worst critics, we’re kind of obsessive perfectionists, which is why our releases sometimes take ages to come out.
Let’s talk about your dj work. Like all good shaolin masters you guys are skilled with and have widespread knowledge on lots of different music. Can you tell us about the different sets that we could hear from Invisible City?
We both grew up listening to all kinds of music; punk, disco, house, hip hop, no wave, industrial, heavy metal, krautrock, shoegaze, all kinds of stuff. And I think we’re both really impressed when a DJ plays something unexpected, like when Richie Hawtin played a Wackies record in the middle of a minimal techno set. So that’s definitely something we’ve taken to heart and try and incorporate in our sets, an element of surprise, surprises that draw unexpected parallels between different types of music.
Since we’ve been DJing a lot more over the last couple years we have kind of developed sets based on rooms and crowds. In a big room with a “doof-doof” vibe we can have fun playing house and techno and sneaking in some Gwada track that sounds like latin house or something.
It’s always fun to play smaller rooms too with more adventurous crowds, so we can stretch out more, play slower, wider and weirder stuff and not stick strictly to the 4-on-the-floor thing. We’ve been lucky enough to play on some really killer klipsch systems recently and that was really fun because we brought records that we thought reflected our IC version of the Loft; african, caribbean, disco and electronic stuff that we knew would sound ace on such a high end system. In any given night we love the last hour the most, once a crowd is really feeling it, then we can slow things down and play melters (modern soul, lovers, weird electronic and even new age) and float people home.
Who do you see as like minded within the world of djing?
We have become super close friends with the Red Light/Rush Hour crew (Tako, Jamie Tiller, Abel, James, Marco, Orpheu, Hunee & Antal) and definitely share a sensibility for music and DJing with those guys. And we like to party too, but those RLR guys are next level. A friend of ours in London JM Gomez is also super fun to play with, a great collector and super nice guy. Aussi DJs too Steele Bonus, Mike NIMH, and Jamie Bennett. Dan Snaith is a friend of ours from childhood and we all grew up on the same music together, he’s a great DJ and is great at stitching together all kinds of music in his sets.
You’ll be coming over to Europe in the spring of 2016. How have you found your tours in Europe so far and is there any places that you really want to visit?
We’ve loved Europe so far, really great scenes and really eye-opening to play all these cities and meet all these like-minded heads who like weird records and good food. It’s pretty amazing to hear the DJ playing before us in Moscow playing a record we discovered in a warehouse in Trinidad!
We’ll go anywhere haha, but I think we’re both pretty stoked at the possibility of playing Kazakhstan.
As well as being music aficionados you are both authorities on cinema. What film would you say the Invisible City nightclub experience is equivocal to? (not sure if we should use this)
B and me are huge movies nerds. before there was internet and bit torrents there was a crazy underground movie scene.You could only see stuff in the theatres or some 4th generation VHS tape. For some reason movies have lost their edge but we still like weird stuff like Kenneth Anger, Peckinpah, Cassavettes, Fassbinder, Charles Atlas, Jodorowsky, Daren, Iranian films, Ackerman, Shaw Brothers, Skate videos . . Joshua Oppenheimer is a new director to watch.
Going back to the label you guys have some interesting releases in the pipeline. The Pool have clocked some proto Hindustani electronics and cosmic funk from a Bryan Adams affiliate waiting in the wings. Let us know more…..
Yep, those two are coming up soon. We’re going to put out or first artist comps next year, Ahmed Fakroun and Shadow are the 2 big ones. We’ve also got a New Age artist from Mexico we’re doing a comp with and another Boothman 12”. We’ve been working hard, but we’ll see how much we can do in a year.
And finally the question we ask every one. Can you tell us your dream pool party?
Infinity pool party on a beach in Tobago. Amsterdam crew, Aussie crew. Klipsch system. Live performance from Shadow. BBQ, roti, bake and shark. Aged rum, nice wine and Johnny Walker Black (for Shadow).