Thor Rixon – The Clown

Five years ago I interviewed a young South African musician named Thor Rixon at a cafe in Cape Town. We’d been set up by a young woman in my music journalism class who was eager to introduce me to her friend and lead man of Sun-Do Q’lisi.

As I set up my GoPro for the interview, I felt a nervous energy run through my gut. I doubted my ability to interpret Sun-Do Q’lisi’s most recent project, an experiment with costumes, exaggerated grins, and synths that hummed like buzz saws.

“At the center of Sun-Do Q’lisi’s music is the desire for creativity and the pursuit of fun.  Unlike many young bands that seem desperate to find a niche, Sun-Do Q’lisi dares to avoid being confined to any label. It may not even be out of rebellious defiance, but simply out of the pursuit of groundbreaking and thought provoking sound.” – BeatsForDinner (April 8, 2012)

**

Five years later, Thor reappeared in my news feed with his release, The Clown. Crammed into a soundproof cylinder with three other band mates, I watched Thor tap his way through a Get Physical live session.

It’s surreal to hear the development. Thor’s sound is more refined, spacious and light footed. He does more with less, allowing the music to settle into a nocturnal groove.

Looking back at my old South African blog post, I’m inspired by two things… Thor’s dedicated vision and the fact that we’re both still doing what we love.

“I challenged the plausibility of his funky music being accepted by a mainstream audience, Thor responded by saying ‘Obviously, we want to make this our career, but we don’t really have a plan like in two years time we want to be here or there.  Lets put as much effort and time into it and see where it takes us.'”BeatsForDinner (April 8, 2012)

Motion in the South

Motion in the South from The Aftermath Music on Vimeo.

‘As little kids we used to catch him staring. Unblinking and wide eyed, he’d watch couples argue at our favorite Chinese restaurant. We ridiculed him for staring, telling him it was weird and unnerving, but years later I’m realizing that even at a young age he was just a keen observer with an eye for critical details.

This same razor-sharpe awareness for people and place is evident in a recent edit he made about his study abroad experience in South Africa, earning him a spot as the Adventure of the Week.’

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Tribal Need

I didn’t recognize him until we made eye contact for the second time.

I remember being as infatuated with Riccardo Moretti’s eyes as I was his music, which says allot, considering his performance combines synths, percussion, hang, beat-boxing, loop, and didjeridoo.

It was the way he was scanning the crowd, seeking out the passionate listener, and then locking eyes with them, establishing a rare and personnel connection between the listener and the performer, a treasure to bring home.

I had been that passionate listener, sitting at an old Mill deep in Cape Town, absorbed by Moretti’s creativity and style. He sat barefoot on the ground, crouched over his synth, ringed by his various sounds. His posture gave way to his instruments, but his eyes stayed loyal to his listeners.

Four weeks later, I’m sitting at a long wooden table in Jerry’s Burger Bar, surrounded by tattoo artists and skateboarders. I feel a tap on my shoulder and a man asks me if anyone is occupying the table space to my left. He sets down his belongings and begins to wait for a friend.

Minutes later, we both throw a poorly timed sideways glance at one another and lock eyes for a quick second, and I suddenly realize that this is a second occasion.

A fascinating man and a friendly character, Moretti, ‘the Electro Nomad’, is a refreshing breath of air in the world of electronic music, which has become overrun by artists who crouch behind a computer, adjusting their beats and sounds with the click of a mouse. For this reason, Moretti see’s the world of EDM on the verge of collapse, and is striving to be on the forefront of progressive musicianship.

Moretti laughs with me and explains that if your audience has to be rolling or tripping to enjoy your show, you must improve your music.

He prides the patience of his audiences, as they listen to him create his sounds, but more importantly, as they watch him create these sounds.

*Moretti leaves Cape Town in a month to return to his home in Italy and start on a European summer tour. While he’s never been to the United States, he hopes to make it to the home of The Aftermath Music in San Francisco soon, where we’ll be eagerly awaiting his arrival.

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NYC Show: MSDOS, Ted Ganung & Anthony Granata

In 2013, fellow Aftermath founder D-Man and I had the opportunity to study abroad in Cape Town. Of the many meaningful and exciting aspects of that adventure, the music still stands out. The South African scene, without the level of commercial background in the US or UK, has a distinctly raw sound. I recall many nights, after a long day of surfing, going to the Drum n’ Bass sets at Fiction on Long Street. That was the first time I had heard Drum n’ Bass at a club, and something about the genre’s pace fit perfectly with my lifestyle at the time.

Averaging around 150 – 180 BPM, Drum n’ Bass is fast. However, as I recall from my time sweaty and dancing in the crowd at Fiction, there’s another way to hear it. Nodding on the 1st and 3rd beat, the song feels like 160 BPM, but by nodding only on the kick on the 1st beat, the song suddenly is cut in half, feeling like an old Dubstep tune at 80 BPM – try it. Listening in this way, it’s easy to transition from a restless fidget into a calm sway. That ability to seamlessly transition my pace at will, is why Drum n’ Bass fit that adventurous and self-determined lifestyle so well.

Recently, in an effort to temporarily relive my experience at Fiction, I went on a hunt for a good DnB show in NYC – that is how I found Ted Ganung & Anthony Granata. Founders of Deeper Vision Recordings, the duo are responsible for bringing many great acts to NYC, working hard to maintain a vibrant DnB scene here. When I found out about their upcoming MSDOS event, I reached out to them immediately to learn more about the event and Deeper Vision, hoping to reach farther into what this genre means.

According to Anthony, Deeper Vision’s philosophy is to “produce and release music we love and work with people to create a synergy that elevates us all.” Their focus is specifically on Jungle / Drum n’ Bass, but he acknowledged that they’re not confined to those genres or tempos. They believe that “music is a powerful vehicle that communicates a message.” Anthony noted that, having “defined his own liquid Drum n Bass sound” in Europe, this is MSDOS’s first US appearance.

The show, hosted on April 24th at Drom, promises good tunes, good times. Come along, enjoy the music, and take it your own pace.