VNDMG on Joining Beat Church and Finding Uniqueness in Trap Music
As a child, producer and DJ Anthony VanVranken, aka VNDMG (pronounced Van-Damage) was always inspired by musicians but found himself drawn toward electronic music over traditional instruments. His love for technology helped him discover he could combine his two passions, and, in 2004, he began producing IDM and downtempo tracks under the moniker a. vanvranken. In 2010, his second moniker, VNDMG, was created, and since then he's been making acid trap and 808 beats while serving as a resident of S.F.'s bi-weekly bass party Beat Church. Fresh off his Doing Damage tour, we spoke with with VNDMG about his two monikers, being a resident at Beat Church, and his VNDMG Report mixes. He headlines the Booty Trap room this Friday for Trap City featuring OOKAY at 1015 Folsom.
Having produced under an IDM moniker before VNDMG, what made you want to go the direction of trap and bass music?
As much as I love IDM and downtempo, it doesn't really get crowds going and the dance floors packed, so I started DJing glitch-hop. Even then, I would always seek out the cleaner beats vs the "whomp." So, when bass music started to become more dominated by 808 music, it was a perfect fit and exactly what I was looking for.
What was your first gig as VNDMG? Was it nerve-racking or did it all go according to plan?
My first gig as VNDMG was at the Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City. I had already been DJing for a while, so I wasn't terrified, but I was definitely a bit nervous as I had never really had a prime-slot or a packed dancefloor before. My set went very well; it was pre-planned (which I no longer do) and rehearsed over and over again.
How did you get involved in S.F.'s bi-weekly Beat Church?
When I originally moved to S.F. around five years ago I always really liked the music Beat Church would bring in, and always saw it as a forward-thinking bass night. It wasn't until a few years ago that I started playing there semi-regularly, and they decided to make me a resident. Recently, I've been getting much more involved in helping organize and promote the night.
What do you love about being a resident of that party?
I feel empty if I don't have some sort of a residency. I've always had one somewhere, and this one is the best fit yet. We have some of the best local producers and DJs in the Bay as residents; Indaskyes, DJ Balance, Tiger Fresh, and Kitty D, plus some of our regulars we like to book frequently such as Releece, Boats, and Bedrockk, to name a few.
You also release a series titled the VNDMG Report. Tell us the process about putting these together.
I typically refresh my crates completely every month. Sometimes they'll last a few months, but I'm constantly adding new tracks. When I start to get to know all these tracks really well from playing them out, I'll put them together in a mix and post a new VNDMG Report. This is when I pretty much "retire" the majority of those tracks and start fresh again. I'm glad you brought it up, because I just released a new VNDMG Report.
What are you most excited about in your upcoming EP on MalLabel?
The MCs! I've been wanting to work with lyricists for awhile, and we got Myka 9 and the debut of a new project from Xperience, Ericka Childs, and another artist I can't name publicly yet called "Turtleneck."
With trap music and 808 being very popular these days, how do you manage to make your sound unique?
I try to find the more psychedelic and textured 808 beats over the typical trap beats and throw in some tracks that aren't necessarily part of the genre.
What's your favorite collaboration been so far?
The most recent collaboration with Turtleneck turned out amazing, and I'm really excited to share it. It'll be on the EP in February. I always enjoy working with DJ Balance; we've been homies for long time and work very well together. We've already done a few tracks, but we'll be doing an EP this year under the name Diamond Crates.
Do you listen to a lot of other producers or prefer to let creativity flow naturally?
Absolutely, I draw a lot of inspiration from other producers. Some of my favorites right now are Eprom, Great Dane, and G. Jones. The Soulection crew and Team Supreme are killing it as well.
What kind of atmosphere can we expect in as you headline the front room of 1015 this Friday?
I'm going to drop my regular style of 808 beats but I'm going to get a little higher BPM than I normally do. Should be a blast!