“The dance music community in San Antonio typically goes in a couple different directions: there’s the more soul/house sound, the jack-and-house scene, the funkier disco stuff and then, of course, the pop-EDM sound. What doesn’t get promoted as much is the sound that Pezzner does, which I call intelligent electronic music. It’s about not going with whatever’s trendy—it’s about taking the music somewhere new.”
That’s Abe Novy, a longtime local DJ and promoter who, after a lengthy hiatus from throwing shows, is launching E:MERGE. Hosted by Novy’s S.O.U.L. Family along with Efusionradio.com, the monthly series is aimed specifically at spotlighting this sort of forward-thinking electronic music, which he feels is all-too-lacking in SA.
“When I first got into music back in the early ’90s, it was new sounds that got me interested,” said Novy. “And one of my big complaints about San Antonio [is] that they do all these retro nights playing ’80s and ’90s stuff, but there’s not a lot of places really featuring newer sounds.”
Billed as “new concepts in dance music and nightlife,” E:MERGE kicks off its first installment Saturday from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. (more on this later) at Southtown 101, with Seattle-based artist, DJ and producer Pezzner headlining the bill.
“We’re trying to bring in artists who may not be big names here—though they’d probably draw a crowd in LA or New York—and introduce them to a new audience.”
Novy was certainly wise in selecting Pezzner to set the tone for E:MERGE. As evident on his remixes for artists like Dirty Vegas and Lula Circus and his genre-spanning 2010 release The Tracks are Alive, he’s not a guy worried about the confines of generic four-on-the-floor thump. And from the six-minute preview mix he’s posted for his brand new album Last Night in Utopia (to be released the day before the E:MERGE show) he’s still harnessing ways to push electronic music forward.
“My inspiration comes from outside of the studio,” Pezzner said on the phone from Seattle. “I don’t usually just listen to music and say, ‘Hmmm, maybe I’ll do something like that.’ My inspiration comes from my normal life, really. Picking up my daughter, or going to get groceries. I’ll hear two cars passing playing two different songs, and somehow they mesh together in a way that sticks. My brain hears rhythms and patterns, and in my head I’m already building the framework for a piece.”
While Pezzner does plan to throw some material from Utopia into his set, the E:MERGE show is no album release party. He’ll forgo his usual live performance set-up to get back to his DJ roots behind the boards.
“[Performing versus DJing] is night and day, really,” Pezzner said. “For the live set, I have to rehearse some of the moves I make, and even the improvisation there really comes from a prior knowledge of what works and doesn’t. With a DJ set, I know the song, so really it’s about scanning the crowd, and planning about 15 minutes ahead. It’s not as easy to veer outside the plan when I’m playing live, whereas DJing can go any direction.”
”A good set is more like jazz, it’s improvisation,” said Novy. “You do have touring artists out there playing carefully constructed sets, but [with] real DJs to me—guys like Pezzner—it’s about the DJ being able to pick the right track at the right time.”
For the globetrotting Pezzner, who recorded his new album in Malta and considers intercontinental travel as routine, he’s also built the experience to know what sound to bring to which city.
“There’s totally a geographical aspect to DJing,” Pezzner said. “In, say, Tokyo, they seem [to be] more into an abstract, pushing-the-envelope sort of sound. In London, I heard a lot of deep bass and soul, [while] in Texas people really respond to deep, funky, jacking house music. I may find myself starting with that in my set.”
Supporting Pezzner behind the boards will be Novy himself, along with Efusionradio.com’s Keeque. Local artist Lolo will also be adding a multimedia flair to E:MERGE, decking out Southtown 101 with original installations for the event.
“It’s not what we’d expect in gallery viewing … it’s more of a street art feel,” said Novy. “The idea for us was to take Southtown 101 and give it a different look, a different vibe for the night.”
The S.O.U.L. crew has also managed to keep the party going well past last call, making it currently SA’s only (official) after-hours party.
“We just want people to enjoy themselves,” said Novy, “to come out and experience something new.”
Free ($3, 2:30-4am)
10pm Sat, Nov 9
101 S Pereida
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