Upfront 014 / February 16, 2015


Bay Area beatmakers Friendzone set free a heady selection of 100% homegrown material.

About this mix

For years, back when we were still doing this entirely on our own, we casually maintained a release schedule of at least one new single or EP every month, and at least 2 full length releases per year. Often we would write a song, mix it, make the cover art, and release it on Soundcloud and Tumblr, all in a single day. The instant gratification of being able to share your work instantly, immediately after a burst of creative inspiration, and invite the world to be part of that moment, and feel that fire inside you while it's still ablaze, is, from an artistic standpoint, satisfying on an immense level. It feels honest and real.

In the last couple of years, things started to change. Things expanded rapidly for us, and reached a point where we needed to work with outside parties to accomodate our growth. Working with record labels, mastering engineers, managers, PR, etc, has been a blessing but has also made releasing music a much slower and more complicated process. Another factor slowing our output was our increased dedication to completing our opus with Main Attrakionz, 808s + Dark Grapes 3, creating 100s of songs and scrapping four or five full length albums in the process. After 3 years and many mental breakdowns, we finally reached a point where we are all completely satisfied with the record. Last month, we all signed a contract to release the album on Vapor Records and have begun the process of preparing to roll out the album.

With all this going on, we only managed to find time to release maybe 3 or 4 songs to the public in 2014. Our creative output, however, has not slowed. Our playlist of unreleased Friendzone tracks has swelled to well over 4 hours long, and much of it is among our proudest work. To keep all this music locked up and unheard feels wrong, like a crime. The time has come to purge the vaults and let some music go free, because the past and present are fleeting, like sand slipping through your fingers. Only the future stays loyal forever.

Boiler Room says...

James Laurence and Dylan Reznick are not easy to pin down. If there’s one thing that defines them as producers and people, it’s emotional freedom. They don’t so much wear hearts on sleeves as having a million beating emojis all over their bodies, Blingee style. Their tracks contain great shimmering swells of the stuff, dripping with synthetic saturation; the prettiness verges on the unbearable at times.

The Bay Area duo’s beats have shaded chart-topping records an extra hue of weird, but also been rejected from other era-defining classics for being too esoteric. They fuck with noise a lot (which makes sense given Dylan’s backdrop in the art-damaged DIY scene): sometimes you get a fierce squall layered atop; others, a fluttering serenity.

The blinding brightness, textural interplay and out 'n' out beauty wouldn’t have found much favour even a handful of years before their breakthrough in 2011-2. Thankfully, the rap scene was ready to receive. It’s something we alluded to here and here: whatever concrete signifiers existed beforehand have been demolished, liberating the souls inside and allowing openness, and thus creativity, to flourish anew. 'Rap' doesn't even feel like an accurate term for the most part: after all, this is an act tugging at the same samples used by To Rococo Rot and Young Marco’s Gaussian Curve.

Standout full-lengths COLLECTION 1 & DX weren't exactly conventional; frankly, nothing in their catalogue has been. Thankfully, their all-originals Upfront doesn't hold back. After a period of somewhat enforced hibernation (see left), it felt high time to get the jumper cables out. Here are sixteen of the best.

Gabriel Szatan

Gabriel Szatan

Gabriel is one of the show programmer/hosts, and BR's Editor-in-Chief – somehow.