Red Bull Music Academy presents 12 Years Of DFA Records

From making indie kids dance again to taking Madison Square Garden by storm, from re-thinking disco house with the mind of a psych rock vet to elevating the cowbell to iconic status, DFA Records is a New York institution if there ever was one. In celebration of their 12th anniversary, we teamed up with honchos James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem fame) and Jonathan Galkin (of Jonathan Galkin fame) to assemble the whole family for the biggest DFA party in the label’s history. Expect a full night of live performances, DJ sets, listening sessions, memories, and all-out madness in four rooms. DFA might describe themselves as too old to be new and too new to be classic. But to us, they’re exactly the right age to throw one hell of a party.



Photo Gallery

James Murphy

James Murphy is the grand seigneur in the modern day and age of what used to be the downtown Manhattan scene. Murphy almost singlehandedly brought back the cultural exchange between indie and dance music with his LCD Soundsystem, the attached DFA label, and cult singles like “Losing My Edge” and the Rapture’s “House Of Jealous Lovers.” As the leading man and lyricist of LCD Soundsystem, he has celebrated two Grammy nominations and received critical acclaim for the second LCD album, Sound of Silver. With LCD’s third album This Is Happening in 2010, Murphy announced the band’s retirement. Prior to that, Murphy went into film scoring (Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg) and established a name for himself as a DJ. A purveyor of disco and old-school-rooted house music, James loves the opportunity to spin and is even developing his own DJ rotary mixer.

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Shit Robot

Marcus Lambkin, also known as Shit Robot, was born and bred in the suburbs of Dublin, Ireland. Growing up on a steady diet of Killing Joke, Dead Kennedys, and the Buzzcocks, he ventured into the night clubs of Dublin where he discovered acid house in the late ’80s. Things were never to be the same when his friends began throwing parties and booking DJs such as Andrew Weatherall and David Holmes, and Marcus was schooled in the art of the DJ set. A lucky strike in the green-card lottery led the Robot to New York City where, after a chance meeting with some like-minded friends in the East Village, he was invited to play records at the infamous rock venue Brownies on Sunday night after the bands had finished. A residency here and a mixtape there led to gigs all over the city, including a residency at the legendary Save the Robots. A few years later Marcus Lambkin is now a fully fledged member of the DFA crew, having released his debut LP via the imprint in 2010, and is the cofounder of the record label Plant Records.

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The Juan Maclean

Juan MacLean started out life as guitarist and synth player with acclaimed-but-obscure gonzo electro-punk band Six Finger Satellite, who began formulating their blend of rigidly mechanized disco beats, oddly sumptuous synth melodies and razor-shredded guitar work in the early ’90s. However, world domination in that particular incarnation was not destined, so MacLean moved from New York to New Hampshire and started again. Thus the Juan MacLean was born, and since the turn of the 21st century, the DFA club-music maestro has been putting his back into it. 2008’s international mega-hit and critical year-end favorite “Happy House” followed his debut full-length Less Than Human. Remixes for Air, Daft Punk, and Matthew Dear pushed the MacLean sound out to a huge audience worldwide, as did international tours with Cut Copy and Shocking Pinks and DJ gigs from Telluride to Tel Aviv.

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The Crystal Ark

Part disco theater, part space-age installation, the Crystal Ark is a collaboration between artist and vocalist Viva Ruiz and veteran DFA cohort Gavin Russom. Nicknamed ‘The Wizard’ for his penchant for hot-rodding bespoke musical gear for the great and the good in New York’s electronic music scene, Gavin’s undulating arpeggios and signature attention to audio have powered a plethora of music projects, and cast a spell over psychedelic dancefloors around the world. Ecuadorian New Yorker Viva Ruiz and her vibrant visions combine with Gavin’s cosmic synth jams, and between them they find a common thread with pagan animal spirits, astrology, and Incan deities. With their self-titled 2012 LP, the Crystal Ark combine New York’s urban excess and latin disco heritage with extended kraut workouts and rituals of the Andes. Their audio-visual six-piece live show is part Arkestra, part Kid Creole, and part Logan’s Run-a spaced-out theater of empowerment that everyone can participate in.

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Pat Mahoney

As timekeeper for LCD Soundsystem, DFA’s globe-spanning, indie-dance crusaders, Pat Mahoney has honed the kind of raw, energized groove that speaks to the dancers who don’t have a moment to lose in getting to peak time. Pat’s punk-drummer upbringing, playing in bands like the Five Deadly Diseases and Les Savy Fav, led to him meeting James Murphy—and their mixture of DIY attitude, disco sensibility and proto-house electronics captured that long-lost magic of ’80s Manhattan. Schooling himself on the decks in New York and at countless after-parties and festivals ’round the world, Pat has developed an enviable ear that blends the punk inspirations of LCD Soundsystem with newer deep-disco mutations. LCD might be a closed chapter, but with new collaborations with his musical teammate Run-Roc, Pat’s era-spanning attitudes are still on the move.

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Nancy Whang

Nancy Whang is among the few who can lay claim to being a key figure in the heady early days of the rise of DFA Records, and her DJ sets remain faithful to the post-punk party aesthetic upon which DFA was founded. Nancy’s contributions on early 12"es by LCD Soundsystem and the Juan MacLean quickly led to her full-time involvement as a permanent member in each of those projects. Shortly after, guest appearances on Soulwax’s “E Talking” and Munk’s “Kick Out the Chairs” solidified her place as a highly sought after vocalist in the burgeoning alternative dance-music scene. As a DJ, Nancy has stayed firmly rooted in the eclecticism of what could now be considered the defining style of DFA. Her sets have an emphasis on fun, an echoing of the glory days of the NYC scene of the ’80s in which disco, proto-house, postpunk, noise, electro, and Latin influences all conspire to keep things interesting.

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Tim Sweeney

If you haven’t heard of DJ Tim Sweeney via his WNYU and Internet-hosted show Beats In Space, you may know him through his association with those three special letters: DFA. After starting his DJ career at a young age in Baltimore, Tim headed to New York and eventually established himself as one among a scant number of radio jocks in the US repping leftfield dance. After an internship with hip hop pioneer Steinski he became a studio assistant for the budding DFA label, which in turn led to his membership in the international DJ jetset. Dirty disco, gritty techno, and dreamy house—just like an American Express card, he doesn’t leave home without them. In 2011, Sweeney took the BIS empire one step further, when he established Beats In Space Records, releasing 12"s by Paradis, Secret Circuit, and Lauer.

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YACHT is a lot of things. It’s kind of a band, but it’s mostly a genre- and media-spanning life project founded and led by Jona Bechtolt of Portland, Oregon. Bechtholt and partner Claire L. Evans make anthemic power jams, play them backwards, and soak them in nearly psychedelic cherry cola. The heart is in the shows: uncluttered, inspiring sessions of damaged dance moves and synchronized crowd-waving, backed by constantly changing elements: PowerPoint presentations, audience Q&A sessions, and shamanistic video environments. It wasn’t until 2003 that Bechtolt unveiled the project, with the largely instrumental album Super Warren MMIV, released by States Rights Records, followed by a 10" album Mega 10 which was re-released as a CD with an accompanying DVD of Bechtolt’s digital films. When not occupied with YACHT, Bechtolt has worked as a collaborator and/or accompanist for Devendra Banhart, Bobby Birdman, and the Microphones, among others.

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The Rapture

The moment they released the international dancefloor hit “House of Jealous Lovers” in 2002, New York quartet the Rapture redefined the tip of the indie iceberg, fusing the skronk and chaos of punk with the precision and funk of basement-after-party disco beats. The Rapture opened the floodgates for many to float through on the wave of this fresh take on vintage, party-forward sounds. While it’s easy to pin the influence of Gang of Four, ESG, and Liquid Liquid on many groups, the Rapture’s inspiration-mining goes deeper, further, and wider. They’ve shown respect for forefathers as diverse as ‘70s New York disco progenitor Larry Levan; ’80s Chicago acid-house innovator Marshall Jefferson; historic party staples like Happy Mondays, the Gap Band, Bizarre Inc, or the Incredible Bongo Band; as well as unlikely sources like Sun Ra and Uriah Heep. That might also take you some way in explaining how the Rapture went from releasing an LP on Motown to dropping the follow-up on DFA. Breaking down boundaries is what it’s about for this unit.

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Factory Floor

Factory Floor are a three-piece post-industrial wrecking crew who use technology against themselves to create some of the hardest-hitting funk around. “Funk” is the odd word out there, but Gabriel Gurnsey, Dominic Butler, and Nic Colk Void seem to have an uncanny knack for making the sort of tunes that are so straight they begin to swing. Nic joined the group in 2010, and she’s become their not-so-secret-weapon, adding her distinctively morose vocals to the mix on their untitled album for Blast First Petite. With Gabriel keeping things lockstep and Dominic’s modular synth given room to squeak and squall at will, they’ve become a deadly combo. Last year they released their first record on DFA, a tune called “Two Different Ways.” The NYC label seems like an obvious home—both DFA and Factory Floor have a dedication to bringing together different sounds under one roof, surprising you with how easily they fit together.

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Prinzhorn Dance School

If you’re the type to eagerly examine band names for pop-cultural references and hidden cryptic meanings, no need to think further here. Prinzhorn Dance School is the moniker of Tobin Prinz and Suzi Horn. That’s all. But if names are all smoke and mirrors, Prinzhorn Dance School surely have the means to back up fancy looks and concepts with great music. With their minds set on all things art, Tobin and Suzi reside in an old church, where they record agitating, noisy, post-punk infused indie stylings and fool around with film and design. With a self-released 7", Prinzhorn Dance School caught the attention of DFA and LCD Soundsystem mastermind James Murphy, who eventually released their self-titled debut album in 2007 (and slipped one of their posters into the Ben Stiller dramedy Greenberg). Prinzhorn Dance School was included on many a best-of list at the end of the year, and their second full-length effort, Clay Class, was released to equally favorable reviews in early 2012.

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Although still something of an underground figure, Janine Rostron has an impressive list of admirers. As Planningtorock she’s recorded with the Knife, released records for DFA, and been selected by Antony Hegarty for his Meltdown Festival. A classically trained violinist, she brings otherworldly senses to electro-pop compositions, distorting her voice, playing with gender, and cooking up a world where the dramatic lives—sometimes comfortably, sometimes deliberately awkwardly—with the danceable. She co-created an avant-garde Darwin opera, Tomorrow, In A Year, with the Knife and followed that up with the groundbreaking album W. A video director as well as a producer, singer, and songwriter, she moved from her native Bolton in North West England to Berlin, where she continues to produce work, much of it with a fervently feminist theme, as on the recent single “Misogyny Drop Dead.”

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Larry Gus

Larry Gus believes in dancing about architecture and making music about math. He dreams of Panda Bear and plays guitar because of Pink Floyd, and he’s more likely to be thinking about phytoplankton or Steve Reich right now than the dancefloor. But that’s not to say his music won’t move you. His 2013 album for DFA Records, Years Not Living, is a plunderphonic pop opus synthesising influences from free jazz, Madvillain, and psych rock (revealing his sample-trading ties to Now-Again Records don Egon). The Greek-born Milan-based iconoclast is perhaps best known for his dreamlike remixes: transporting Yacht to the middle of an aboriginal rainforest drum circle, time-travelling with Sinkane to a late ’80s Balearic dreamscape, and trapping Cut Copy in a lysergic crèche of bells, broken toys, and Latin percussion.

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Dan Bodan

Dan Bodan is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and producer living in Berlin. Last year he released his first single on DFA, but he’s long been active in music. Supporting himself with a variety of odd jobs in the early 2000s (including lighting video shots for a local porn studio), Bodan began experimenting with combining dance music production and traditional songwriting in Montreal. He moved to Berlin in 2007, and has honed his chilly yet maudlin aesthetic on record and in person at venues throughout the world. Bodan is a voracious collaborator, including his appearance on a split record alongside Hot Chip lead singer Alexis Taylor last year.

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Black Dice

Black Dice formed during the spring of 1997 in Providence, Rhode Island, as a loud, chaotic mix of early-’80s-inspired thrash and harsh noise experimentation. Early shows seldom lasted more than 15 minutes and were characterized by violent performances. In the summer of 1998 the band relocated to NYC, and it was around that time that the emphasis shifted from conventional song structures to more open-ended sonic investigations. In spring of 2004, the band parted ways with longtime drummer Hisham Bharoocha, and gradually morphed into the tight compositional unit you can hear on their records for Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks label and 2012’s Mr. Impossible for Ribbon Music. But whatever incarnation of the band you may have seen, one thing has remained constant throughout the group’s career: an irreverent, aggressive, handmade aesthetic that simultaneously revels in and reconfigures the whole of popular culture.

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Still Going

A match made in mirror-ball heaven. House of House’s Olivier Spencer is a producer from head to toe and a man of many hats. As is Eric Duncan, one half of the notorious Rub-N-Tug duo and editor extraordinaire under his Dr. Dunks moniker. Together, Duncan and Spencer form Still Going, whose now classic “Still Going Theme” arrived in 2007 and convinced James Murphy on the spot to release it on DFA. “Spaghetti Circus” followed in 2009, along with a string of remixes for the likes of Bryan Ferry, the Presets, Doves, !!!, and Crazy P. 2012 saw the duo set up their own shop, establishing Still Going Records to put out a pair of singles. Embodying and embedding all that has always been great about dance music from New York City (disco, house, and rock influences form equal parts of the Still Going aesthetic), Spencer and Duncan are part of the more libertine side of nightclub music.

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Marcus Marr

In a dance-music world saturated by imagination-free releases, Marcus Marr takes a refreshing quality-over-quantity approach. A songwriter and multi-instrumentalist as well as a producer and engineer, his inspirations include David Bowie and Prince. A music obsessive all his life, his first encounters with dance music were acid-house records which augmented his vinyl collection of rock and soul, and he attended all-night parties under Brixton’s St Matthew’s Church. Traveling to the south of England to watch DJ Harvey play a lengthy set, he was opened up to the kind of journey a DJ could construct. Earlier this year Marr released his first record on DFA, with—according to the label—plenty more gems to come.

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