by Don Crispy
The New York DJ looks to prove electroclash isnt,
like, soo 2001
You dont expect anything cutting edge from Japans
most successful FM station. So when J-wave gets into the act
and starts hosting electroclash events, some may see it as
the nail in the coffin for the blend of 80s electro,
new wave and millennium house that swept out of the underground
around the dawn of the 00s.
More than signaling its death, though, what really seems to
be happening is the mainstreaming of what was formerly a distinct
alternative to the standard house/trance/breaks fare of clubland.
Tokyo has a regular nu electro night in the form of Vanity
at La Fabrique, while electroclashs kindred spirit,
New York disco-punk godfather James Murphy and his LCD Soundsystem,
recently completed a full-fledged concert tour of Japan.
Now comes the man who actually trademarked the word electroclash.
A clubbing veteran since the early 80s in his native
Atlanta, Larry Tee played in the band that produced the B52s
first single, and used to spin early electronic acts like
Kraftwerk at a club he ran in his hometown.
But even then he showed a fondness for the trashy, glam-y
esthetic that characterizes a lot of electroclash, teaming
up with RuPaul, Lady Bunny and other drag queens to launch
Celebrity Club at New Yorks once fabulous Tunnel at
the end of the 80s. His subsequent events, Love Machine
and Disco 2000, were some of the essential see-and-be-seen
events of the 90s, but by the end of the decade, Tee
was reportedly a burned out, raging drug addict with no love
left for the house music scene.
Enter young underground bands like Chicks on Speed, from Munich,
and Fischerspooner. Excited by these and other groups that
were mixing up a fresh concoction of faux-primitive 80s
electro with punk and new wave, Tee decided to put together
a compilation. The result was Electroclash, released by his
own Mogul Electro label in 2001.
With a keen business sense, Tee set about creating an entire
brand. Part of the package was the first electroclash festival
in New York, held in the fall of 2001. In addition to the
aforementioned bands, the festival generated a buzz in the
media with sets by outrageous acts like Peaches and Ladytron
A regular club night, Berliniamsburg, named partly for the
newly hip Brooklyn neighborhood followed, along with further
Electroclash compilations featuring leading talents of style
like Felix Da Housecat, the latest being last months
two-disc The Electroclash Mix. Tee also took his festival
on the road across the US and Europe, creating an explosion
of interest in the electroclash phenomenon that eventually
filtered through to Japan.
Accompanying Tee will be a domestic DJ who has shown a preternatural
ability not only to discover talented Japanese singers, but
to pick up on and exploit the latest clubbing trends to emerge
Shinichi Osawa, also known as Mondo Grosso, was a key figure
in the jazz-funk explosion of the early 90s, issuing
a series of slick recordings under the Mondo Grosso imprimatur,
and producing appealing young Japanese soul singers like the
still-popular Bird. More recently, hes brought Londons
two-step/garage sound to Japan through a compilation, and
now may be getting set to plug into the new electro wave through
his recently established Fearless Records imprint.
Electro J-Wave@Air, Mar 11. See club
listings for details.
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