New San Antonio label Unscene hopes to merge rave culture with ‘civil’ society

It’s been nearly 30 years since rave culture came of age in the 1980s. Compare that with the San Antonio crop of DJs just now solidifying the local scene. Raves are now held regularly at the Korova, and the recent Redbull Thre3Style International DJ Competition showed that SA’s DJs have a distinct style. They dabble in Top 40, rap, and R&B, but they’re just as likely to incorporate cumbia, reggae, and some esoteric hard house. Saytown may be late to the game, but we’re putting our own stamp on electronic dance music.

Enrique Cortazar, co-founder, DJ, producer, and designer for Unscene Records, has been a big part of that. This Saturday will mark the one-year anniversary of his ToKen Sessions at Club Rain Ultra Lounge, featuring DJ performances by Edgar Malvido, Oscar Castello and Cortazar himself plus a post-2 a.m. after-party with Nathan Swift, mikel Douglas, and Alain Baylon.

According to Cortazar, EDM and rave culture have been popularly viewed as strictly music for partying. His Unscene Records has been trying to change that. “I see all these younger generations going to the so-called ‘raves’ just to party,” he said. “We are trying to … present a different face of electronic music: a face that can be part of the civil community, a more mature scene.”

Cortazar and Joey Blanco (of the Digital Beat Radio collective) established Unscene in 2006 as a means to unite “artists working through various forms of media,” according to a press release. Unscene hosted First Friday EDM events in unusual places like the Blue Star Arts Complex, allowing guests to shake their asses while checking out art. “What materialized next was quite interesting, as it yielded a cross-pollination of the different communities within the San Antonio art world,” Cortazar said,

Unfortunately, Cortazar and Co. were not long for using an art gallery as a dance floor due to “forces outside of our control,” Cortazar said.  But their novel approach lives on in the ToKen Sessions. And no, the name isn’t related to Snoop Dogg’s favorite vegetable. “The name is a reflection of how we think,” Cortazar said. “Token’ is a synonym of minimal, which is a sub-genre of techno and house and, at the same time, it means less is more in the design world. Therefore we thought this was the perfect title for the events.”

Cortazar and his companion DJs at Unscene keep it minimalist all right. Their Influx EP traffics in hypnotic house, meant for losing one’s self after a few too many Vodka Red Bulls. Saturday’s marathon of ambient, steamrolling EDM will offer much more than a typical night at the club, Cortazar promised. “Our artists are musicians whose DJ sets are made up of their own production material … They are artists and musicians who come to perform their original work through a DJ set medium or a live PA medium.


ToKen Sessions 1 Year Anniversary Party

Free for 21+, $5 under 21

10pm Sat, May 14

Club Rain Ultra Lounge, 516 Brooklyn Ave.

(210) 227-7246

Scroll to read more Music Stories & Interviews articles
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join SA Current Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.