Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: The Worker (of Fiction)

Categories: Q&A
dj worker 1.jpg
Rick Symonds
This week we chat with The Worker, a member of the Fiction crew who's always on the lookout for the dark, the strange, and the flat out mutant strains of techno and disco. The dude has one hand on the turntables, and the other inside the local music industry, working at esteemed international label Six Degrees, among other gigs.

The Worker lives up to his name in S.F., swinging with the Extra Action Marching Band during DJ sets, digging up new underground techno gems for recommendation (see below, he has many suggestions) and daydreaming about partying in a zeppelin (don't we all).

Get the scoop on the Worker below. He'll bring the deep funk to Supperclub later tonight...

Name:  Michael Kelly aka The Worker  

Club night(s): Techno electro mutant disco with Fiction @ 222 Hyde on fourth Thursdays, with   occasional one-offs at various S.F. clubs. Tonight I'm @ Supperclub with Lee Foss ; Gritty global beats with Stateless @ Underground SF on first Fridays starting November 6th (w/ guest Kid Kameleon).

Style(s) of music you spin: The deep, dark and funkier side of techno, tech house, and "mutant" disco for Fiction.  Various tempos and genres of global beats for Stateless - running from smokey global hip-hop, downtempo, and funk to dubby techno and house.

So what's your story, in 100 words or less? I've been methodically making my way in music and the "music industry" for the last eight years since moving to S.F. Taking the thorough route, I guess. One half has been my personal projects (DJing, events, and promotions) and the other half has been a more formal work in the "industry," as a head of marketing for S.F. based  
label Six Degrees Records, and independent projects involving music publishing.  I've always had a pretty wide scope and eclectic tastes and it's led to having my foot in a number of different scenes - from putting together "world music" showcases in L.A. to DJing dirty dingy techno undergrounds here in S.F. I'm working to bring these different backgrounds, skills, and  
influences together in novel ways within the next couple years.


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Jaime James
What's the idea behind Fiction? Fiction is DJs André Lucero , Christian Schmidt, myself (The Worker), and our promoter Allison Smith.  A few years back--after a  particularly long night discussing music at the party--André and I decided to begin a night rooted in "techno" but incorporating many other warped strains of that sound. We were inspired by the likes of artists such as Emperor Machine and Padded Cell - suggesting descriptions like.. stripped down electronic funk and leftfield robo-disco. We wanted adventurous song selection but held by a common thread of funky, dark, yet quirky vibes - we called it "techno electro mutant disco."  We felt these more unpredictable sounds should share some space with the more familiar themes in house and techno. It was also important to us to encourage a playful, pretense-free, upbeat vibe.  Shortly thereafter we discussed this with Christian and the "triangulated sonic rays of the Fiction sound" were born. 

There can be slight shifts in our sound depending on the night - we like to keep it changing and new. Sometimes one of us explores more house territory or the mutant disco aspect lurches forward, or it's techno that has more of the spotlight. But the overall spread of sounds is something that's key to the night.  We also have a visuals component where we explore strange, mysterious themes (part of the inspiration for our name), which can also be seen on our graphics and flyers for the night.

What can people expect from Friday's Fiction party?  Techno, house and disco with some prominent bass lines, imagination and some deeper funk in it.  It's one of our one-offs at Supperclub welcoming one of the more intriguing new producers and DJs from Los Angeles, Lee Foss.  He's been producing some really unique techno funk, both solo and with Jamie Jones as Hot Natured, and we think he's a great musical fit for a guest at Fiction. Myself and the other Fiction residents with John Wander (Roam Music) and recent Spanish transplants, DJ Nota and DJ Laundry will be supporting him.  You can check out a recent live set of Lee Foss at The Marcy Hotel in New York on Soundcloud here

Name of a track you can't get out of your head:  Machiste - "Mosca Via". Older song and another project of Gabor Schablitzki aka Robag Wruhme of Wighnomy Brothers.  A melancholic quite "Kraftwerkian" tune with a nice hand clap electro breakbeat running through it.  A great late night vibe.

Name of an artist you're currently championing in your DJ sets:  Lee Curtiss. His recent productions have focused on holding a steady, deep and undulating tech house groove awash in airy, breathy effects.  While his sound is not wildly adventurous it is subtly complex and compelling and manages to sneak into your body after a couple minutes - certain to thicken the vibe in the room.

Name of a current favorite track for the peak of your set:  Stephen Beaupre - "Lotus Eaters" on Wagon Repair.  Great song -a lot of different components to this one. There are layered, intriguing, suggestive vocal bits and a striking sound born in outer space which comes out of nowhere - all surrounded by swirling sounds and squirrelly horn bits over a funky rolling bass line. Very cool.

Musical mantra: Keep it both in the head and the hips.

Favorite DJ experience: I think one of the more enjoyable and playfully ridiculous moments in DJing occurred when I was first playing in S.F. in 2003.  We were doing a monthly night called "Inoculism" at downtown DJ bar called EZ5 when a few of the performers from the Extra Action Marching Band came in and enthusiastically joined in the dancing. The place is rather small so things can get crowded rather quickly on the dancefloor.  On a tightly packed dancefloor, the next thing I know one of the Extra Action dancers starts doing handstands and spinning around and encouraging me to get involved in the revelry - which quickly overtook me. It became a full on dance performance with me stepping from behind the turntables and the both of us climbing, swinging, and hanging from the wooden beams next to the bar as other dancers encouraged us.  It got pretty nutty in there at that moment.  And then the record just ended.. . The vibe in the place was great for the rest of the night.

Worst request:
A guy handing me a CD of low quality, top 40 mp3s and telling me to "just pick something."

Worst club faux pas you've committed: I was getting ready for a big night last October and I had some fidgetty nerves. I ended up adjusting the CDJ platforms at a prominent S.F. club thinking they would move into a better position-and voila! I broke one off.  Well, there was no one around and I wasn't even sure how to put the CDJ player down because there was nothing to lay it down on. Uh. It was getting very close to the start of the night and I kept looking for someone to help with situation. I didn't have anything on me that could fix the mess.  Finally after 15 VERY long minutes, one of the club owners came by the booth and I explained what happened.  Well, he was certainly not pleased but we got started on fixing the situation.  We managed to find a drill and secure the CDJ platform again - with just a few minutes left to start.  Things worked out fine but...It's a good idea to check with the club before fussing around with   the set up too much.

Most treasured vinyl score:
I'm not quite as much of a dusty vinyl collector as many DJs out  
there. I think a couple vinyl pieces of mine that have lead to many special moments are Markus Kienzl's Top Dog 12" and Future Sounds of Jazz Volume 4 - especially Nautilus "Nine Miles."

What other music-related projects are you currently working on? I do independent music marketing and PR contract work.  I secure online features for record labels and artists on websites such as YouTube, Pitchfork, imeem, Spinner, Pop Matters, RCRD LBL, Resident  
Advisor, XLR8R and others.  I'm also a music publishing consultant. I work with electronic music producers to get their music publishing squared away.

What's something happening in the local music scene that should be getting more attention? It's hard to get a true read on this but I think there is some top notch, internationally recognized techno and electronic music production coming from San Francisco - Alland Byallo, Kenneth Scott, Dead Seal, Dave Aju, Auralism crew (Jason Short, Marc Smith, Clint Stewart, Roman Stange), Limaçon, more..

What elements would your fantasy club night entail?
This one is inspired by the airship that flies over S.F. on a regular basis. Maybe a retro 1930's style "Zeppelin" experience with a small crowd and, of course, a piano for momentary interludes.   We'll have to increase the size of the Airship Venture's current craft for this though - as it's a bit on the small side.

What's your favorite thing about the local techno scene? The real genuine sense of community here.  People truly like and support one another.

Question we didn't ask you but you often ask yourself: Time to the make the donuts?

Next time we can see you spin:  Tonight I'm with Fiction as we host Lee Foss at supperclub - on Facebook here (you will need to login): more info here.
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