We sit down with label owner, DJ, promoter and artist Josh Doherty of Posthuman for an in-depth chat about the coalescence of various disparate strands of electronic music under the broader umbrella of techno in 2012.
Attack Magazine: It feels like there’s been a real resurgence of interest in techno from the wider dance music community over the last year, with so many different scenes kicking off or crossing over to bigger audiences. As someone who’s been involved in techno and its various offshoots for quite some time, does it seem like a particularly exciting time to you?
Josh Doherty: I think techno, particularly UK techno, is probably in the best state it’s been since the early 90s.
Techno is really more a mentality of sound, soul and rhythm than an actual specific genre, so it’s able to assimilate all sorts of techniques, styles and sounds from across the board. I think this is also why a lot of producers who maybe start off with a more singular signature approach end up moving towards techno as they mature.
What’s especially good right now, though – and this seems to be very much something coming from the UK – is that you’ll find all these different takes on techno, from producers whose backgrounds are massively diverse, all playing the same club nights together. Punters are really receptive right now to varied programming at club nights, hearing new things and fresh ideas. I think a lot of people have gotten sick of pigeonholed ‘scenes’ or going to nights where only one genre is played all night.
There’s also been a massive rejection of the ‘minimal’ scene, which has been a real corruption of the true minimal approach. I love simple, more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts music, but minimal techno became very dull and formulaic, feeding on itself, and cultivating a lot of lazy production. You can only maintain a po-faced attitude for so long until people remember that going clubbing is about having fun and discovering new sounds!
Whose music are you enjoying the most at the moment?
Blawan is my favourite producer out there right now. The guy can do no wrong. I heard a little rumour that he’s going to be working with Mark Bell, aka LFO, on a project soon – the prospect of that excites me so much I think it might actually make me lose my fucking mind.
There’s so much cool stuff happening on all the fringes of techno – artists like Delta Funktionen, Hrdvsion, Pariah, Ruskin and Broom’s Fear Ratio project, the return of British Murder Boys… plus some great new labels – Blackest Ever Black, Hemlock and KilleKill, who are quite simply the best new label this decade.
I also have a very big place in my heart for old-school rave vibes. Some of my favourite tracks for DJing out have come from the likes of Legowelt, Lone, Machinedrum, Paul Mac, and Neil Landstrumm – these guys are seamlessly translating that retro feel without it sounding dated or just re-hashed. The attitude of early 90s enthusiasm and energy runs through their tracks, but with modern production and a lot of new ideas in there too.
Minimal techno became very dull and formulaic, feeding on itself, and cultivating a lot of lazy production.
Do you feel like it’s a positive thing that people who may never have considered listening to techno a year or two ago are being drawn towards these slightly more underground sounds from all these different directions?
Definitely. Some have followed the producers themselves who’ve moved from singular scenes towards techno, and some are escaping the drudgery of other genres repeating themselves over and over – be it minimal Cologne/Berlin techno, identikit electro-house, wobble bass dubstep, self-absorbed IDM or whatever!
You can’t keep listening to the same stuff over and over if you really love music and techno is a place where genres fuse, so it’s a natural progression for people widening their perspectives, and hopefully a doorway into even more.
You’re an artist, you’re a promoter, you run Balkan Vinyl, you DJ… From all those roles do you still feel a sense of community among the scenes you’re involved in or do you think that’s diminished as sub-genres have fragmented and coalesced over the last few years?
I’ve always found there’s a really great sense of community within electronic music. As a promoter myself for over ten years now, I’ve often found myself having beers with fellow promoters and talking shop – about clubs and their managers, flyer distributors, record shops, everything. The genres I’ve been involved in are mainly for the love of it, rather than for profit. Nearly every promoter I know has a day job. The motivation is much more of co-operation than competition – it needs to be.
The only place where it differs is when certain acts or styles become more mainstream, and money becomes an issue – then the attitudes change! But I’ve personally never embraced that. I still love styles of music that don’t seem to register massively in popular culture. But who knows, maybe 120bpm moody acid techno might be the next big thing at Ministry of Sound. But probably not.