On the last Thursday of every month, our favorite local DJ collective My Hollow Drum hosts their Geekdown residency at the Crosby in Santa Ana. This month, they've invited like-minded LA label Non Projects to join in–and take over the Geekdown–with sets from Anenon (Non Projects' founder, musician and composer Brian Simon), a.d.l.r. (Nicholas Morera) and Asura (Ryan York).
Why did you start Non Projects? Where does Non Projects fit in the LA electronic-music scene?
Anenon: I started Non Projects as a platform for releasing my own music and the music of talented friends who I feel are making innovative and personal music that doesn't sound like anyone else's.
Watching Kev at Alpha Pup in the beginnings of that label and seeing where he and the label are at now is very inspiring. I learned both physical product and A&R aspects interning, and it gave me a very good gauge of how to be prepared to get my artists' works out there.
I see Non Projects as an entity that provides looks and documentation of the work of artists all with highly personal sounds that also reflect the vast influences of Los Angeles and beyond.
We've been talked about it as classically trained kids in the beat scene, but I feel like that is highly simplified–we all make emotional and engaging music that is unafraid to be as raw as possible. Visually, we have a strong presence thanks to working with Atley Kasky (our design director) and various visual artists (including Ryan York-Asura, and Kim Asendorf, an artist from Germany).
You've called yourself a die-hard listener to all kinds of music. Is that the marker of all the artists on Non Projects?
a.d.l.r.: I hate to speak on anyone's behalf, but I think there's a well of sympathetic resonances that we collectively tap into. There were certain things, like the production aesthetics of ECM or particular Warp albums, that meant a great deal. But our music is much broader than any of these particular influences.
What can we expect when Non Projects take over the Geekdown? How does Non Projects fit in with My Hollow Drum?
Anenon: You can expect a night full of nuanced head-nodder beats, beautiful and droney washes of sound, ephemeral melodies, and maybe some live instrumentation. My Hollow Drum are good friends of ours, and there is a mutual respect between both entities. We've been talking about doing a joint night together for some time but couldn't do it because of schedule issues–those are all cleared up now, and we are very excited to take part in MHD's night. Why do an event at the Crosby? Besides the great food, there is a high energy for great sounds at the Crosby, and we can't wait to share ours, plus the system is LOUD.
a.d.l.r.: I'm going to do a DJ set, so good tunes. I haven't deejayed in a really long time, so I'm looking forward to it.
You've said Ableton Live is the core of your writing desk. How did you learn Ableton, and who inspired you to learn it?
a.d.l.r.: Just experience and reading through the manual. I used to sequence in Cubase for many years and Cool Edit Pro before that, but Ableton is really flexible and easy to use. There are many people who've demonstrated its possibilities over the years, so I switched over.
How did you get started deejaying?
a.d.l.r.: Listening to DJ Melo-D on 92.3 The Beat, around fifth to sixth grade. Around that time, I was just starting to become exposed to a lot of hip-hop through older siblings and friends, so it became my primary interest at that point. I was deejaying for a hip-hop group called Science Project, but it usually didn't work out because I was around 12 and trying to play at bars. . . . I started focusing on making music on my own at that point.
Non Projects does limited editions of vinyl and cassettes–is it important to you to keep making a special physical artifact?
Anenon: It's definitely important for me to keep making a physical product. While digital files are convenient, they feel soulless (or don't feel at all). Physical items that you cherish grow with you as a person and follow you throughout life on your personal journey–plus, they sound better.
What's the rarest record/tape you own?
Anenon: Elvin Jones' Live At the Lighthouse double vinyl–and lots of out-of-print ECM Records vinyl.
a.d.l.r.: I have nearly all the Anthony Braxton LPs originally released on Arista (including the infamous 3LP set for Composition 82, which inevitably ended the contract!). I used to have a first vinyl pressing of Ruff Draft, which I sold to a friend–d'oh!
The best record you've ever scored for less than $2?
Anenon: Keith Jarrett's Eyes of the Heart for 99 cents. This is hands down one of my favorite albums. Dewey Redman's tenor saxophone solo at the end of “Eyes of the Heart (Part 2)” is one of the reasons I play saxophone.
a.d.l.r.: Ira Stein and Russel Walder's Elements. Super-smooth pastoral vibes from Windham Hill that I got in the dollar bin at a thrift shop in Laguna Beach.
Asura, Anenon and a.d.l.r. at the Crosby, 400 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 543-3543; www.thisisthecrosby.com. Thurs., Feb. 24, 9 p.m. Free. 21+.
Visit My Hollow Drum at myhollowdrum.com.
Visit Non Projects at www.nonprojects.net.