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Jace & Jake Mix it Up at Deli Haus
(1997)

Boston low-end theory met with Jace Clayton and Jake Trussell, founding members of Toneburst, the night before their event at Mass Art. Here's some of what was said over soup and soda at Deli Haus.

Marcus: I was psyched about [essential Brit music mag The Wire] because it seemed to cover good electronica and post-rock well, but it also was willing to extend its boundaries to.

Jace: Good music.

Marcus: Yeah. Good music.

Jake: That's what Jace's show is, you know.

Chris: We've got a strict policy -- we only review good music.

Jace: Define that.

Jake: It's like the collective unconscious of the world knows what good music is, but it's only a small group of people, and there's like whole other genres of good music out there.

Marcus: So how far are you willing to go on your show outside of?

Jace: Outside of what?

Marcus: Well yeah, that's the problem.

Jace: There's nothing I wouldn't play if I liked it.

Chris: Can you elaborate on "deep mix"? Was that a loaded word there?

Jace: I said that? I mean I collage of three or more levels is going on. The studio has reel-to-reel tape decks and effects, so you can do 3-d collages.

Chris: [to Jake] What are the elements that go into your style of electro-organic?

Jake: It's a couple different things. There's a philosophy behind electro-organic. One thing that got me interested in electronic music, or the new vein of electronica that's happening, is that it's becoming organic feeling. I used to be really turned off to electronic music for a while -- after I went through my breakdance phase in the 80s -- because it seemed very stagnant and scripted and stale. I started getting back into it when hip-hop started using samplers. Then when all the ambient stuff started getting big a few years ago it seemed really organic. I've been really interested in the idea of that contrast -- the possibility of digital media and electronic media becoming more and more organic. We always think of it as separate, but it's better and better able to replicate itself, you know, in nature.

Chris: One thing I've been wondering about is the urban/suburban/small town contrast.

Jace: We're both from suburbs of Boston.

Jake: That's really interesting, because "Herbanism" in a way symbolizes my whole duality. I grew up in West Newbury, which was a farm town when my parents moved there, but now it's becoming more suburban -- if I went north a little bit I'd be in woodlands, if I go south a little bit, it's totally urban.

Jace: From Boston I got really good radio, like WMBR.

Chris: I'm working on the hunch that electronica is going to work better in the cities. It just seems that the aesthetic of electronica is dependent on the tension you get in a city -- when you're in a city, you're wishing you weren't..

Marcus: I wonder about that for two reasons. One, I feel like the reason I didn't have any exposure to anything besides guitar rock where I grew up (a small town in Pennsylvania) was that it was so culturally homogeneous that there was no opportunity for me to [hear electronica]. Also, think about England, where so much important stuff is also happening -- it's not exactly London or Bristol-centric; it does happen there, but it's moved inland..

Jake: It's like bedroom music, you know? I don't know how people get exposed to the stuff. There's also the rave scene, which is interesting, because it sometimes happens in sort of weird places, suburban, or something. Another thing is how technology is spreading out, like the Internet.. and electronica with it.

Marcus: You've got an event tomorrow night -- it's not just a concert. So what is Toneburst -- how do you feel about the relation between the music and the music as an event?

Jace: People conceive it as creating an atmosphere. The music is part of it, the video is part of it, the architecture of the space is part of it, and where you had to go to get there. Ideally it'd be a roaming party, and to find the place you'd have to explore the city.

Marcus: What are the theoretical or aesthetic underpinnings of wanting to do that? To me, it's intuitive, it's just like, yeah.

Jake: Partially it's breaking out of different molds that have been set up. We almost have to set it up on the flyers as a dance party, because of the nature of how concerts attract people. Dancing is a cool interaction, but people get stuck in that as a format. We're trying to break out of that, so we can be a visual environment, and an environment where people can go -- a lot of it comes out of the chill-out thing as well. We like to have installations that various artists build that people can interact with. It becomes sort of a play-space as well. So the sound is very powerful, but not necessarily the point.

Marcus: Do you see this sort of thing as a scene, or as sort of transcending a scene?

Jace: We're trying to bring different scenes to it, to congregate on the spot.

Chris: Toneburst seems to provide a space in which people can go and hear dance music and not dance.. With music of a sufficient complexity, I find dancing can impede my enjoyment. So.. how do you see physical movement relating to the music?

Jake: Toneburst will be incorporating elements of performance other than people coming in expecting to go to a dance party. There are going to be people there who are thinking of dance as an art form, who'll be performing -- sort of another element in the environment. Another thing is the idea of getting into a trance. It's something that in our culture we don't have much access to

Chris: Driving.

Jake: Yeah, driving, especially with music. But also dancing there's a trance we can get into and feel comfortable. And also especially in this genre there's a strong non-beat element.

Marcus: Do you feel connected to or inspired by or otherwise a part of this whole New York illbient thing, like Soundlab, or did this kind of come up -- is Boston emerging as independent of that?

Jace: I went to a couple Soundlabs, and stuff like that -- it's sort of inspiring, when stuff like that happens. But most of the Toneburst isn't involved in the illbient thing, it's got its own character.

Jake: But Toneburst was sort of inspired by Soundlab. But this is an idea -- it's like the collective unconscious -- that's been in my head before Soundlab.

Marcus: So how would [the Boston scene] be distinctive?

Chris: Boston is a lot more uptight than New York, so would that be a factor?

Jake: It's hard to have events actually happen.. we're concerned about whether we're going to get shut down tomorrow night. The last Toneburst got busted -- it's just the nature of Boston.

Chris: So are those considerations an ingredient in the music itself?

Marcus: Like, Wordsound talks about how New York is part of their sonic architecture. Can Boston be part of your sonic architecture?

Jake: I'd say the sonic architecture of Boston is what inspired me to want to do something different. The dance music scene is just house and techno.. Fougy's the only jungle promoter in town.

Jace: I guess [we in Boston] are looking at it from a more antagonistic side -- I mean, hopefully people will come, and then we'll find spaces for it.. We're underground, and if you can be underground with just enough of a crowd to support it.