Off The Record this month takes a dive into the mind of Chicago artist and musician Beau Wanzer.
Wanzer is commonly known for records on Ron Morelli’s L.I.E.S. imprint as well as working with labels like Brew, L.A. Club Resource, iDEAL, Natural Sciences, and Nation. His in touch ear with industrial, electro and experimental music has seen him work alongside the likes Traxx and Steve Summers as the excellent Mutant Beat Dance, Dan Jugle as the head banging Juzer and more recently De-Bons-en-Pierre with Maoupa Mazzocchetti.
For this mix Wanzer goes no holds bared into the world of tape culture with noisey and hissing electro and synth tunes as well as some chuggy industrial moments. We had a quick chat with Beau about the mix and what he has coming up:
Thanks for having me! Been a fan of Phonica for years. This mix? I try not to overthink it. It’s just stuff i’ve been listening to at home. It’s a bit more ‘freeform’ i guess? Some laughs here and there.
Can you tell us a bit about how you usually approach recording a mix or a set?
It really depends on the mix. I try to include all different varieties of music….not your usual ‘boom boom’ template. People tend to make mixes to get bookings nowadays….which is fine…but that’s not my intention. I can make an easy mix for easy people..but what’s the fun in that? I’d rather make something that interests me. Something that is annoying, fun, and challenging to the unchallenged audience. Dj culture has gotten to a point where the lowest common denominator is praised…this mix is made for the freaks/weirdos at the afters with social anxiety who don’t want to talk to anyone.
What are your preferred methods for finding new music—do you still enjoy digging around in dusty crates, or do you prefer to buy online?
I’m a rabid record digger. There is something about getting your hands dirty and finding that diamond in the rough. It’s still exhilarating and feels special. More so recently I have been buying digital…but it’s mostly older releases that were only available on cassette and also buying digital versions of records that I already own b/c they are scratched to shit. Overall, it doesn’t matter what you buy. The whole “i only play vinyl” mentality seems counter productive, especially considering all the amazing music that is out there. Play records, play digital, play cd’s, play tapes, who cares. Anyone can be an expert with a quick google search nowadays…your personal touch is what carries on in the end.
On the production side of things, how would you describe your sound to people who have not listened to you before?
That’s a hard one. I do many different styles/varieties of music…but somehow they all sound like me? It’s a smorgasbord of all my interests. I probably would tell them to listen and decide for themselves.
You’ve had many aliases in your time and been in many pairings for some excellent projects, is there anyone you haven’t worked with before who you feel you’d make some cool tracks with?
There are a couple people: Beta Evers, Felix Kubin, Tot Onyx, Patrick Stevens (aka Hypnoskull), Philippe Fichot, Bruce Gilbert, Dirk Ivens, Bruce Springsteen, Carlos Souffront, Matt Talbott, Danny Wolfers, L.F.T, Lisa Carver, FRAK, and the lifeless corpse of Rozz Williams. The list is endless. I think I get the most enjoyment working with other people and learning from them.
I ask because I am quite a fan of your Mutant Beat Dance project with Traxx and Steve Summers, how did this come about?
I’ve know Melvin (Traxx) since 2002ish. I was working at this record store called Weekend Records and Soap who was owned by Jim Marlon Magas and his wife Bridgette Wilson around that time. Melvin would come in and we would geek out about music. We started making tracks for fun with no intention of releasing anything. Eventually people reached out and since then we’ve done about 9 releases..out first release being in 2009. Jason (Steve Summers) joined the project around 2018 and has been a great contribution to the project.
What do you both have up your sleeve for 2023?
Melvin (Traxx) has been really busy with his Dirty Blend series and running the Nation label. Jason (Steve Summers) also has a slew of releases under many different aliases/projects. They just did a 3LP record on Dark Entires called The Creative Technology Consortium with another Chicago guy named Andrew Bisenius. We all keep very busy. I have a new release also coming out on Dark Entries with my partner Maoupa Mazzocchetti as De-Bons-En-Pierre that we record when I visit him in Brussels. I have another new project call GUB with Champagne Mirrors that should be out later this year, a new LIES release, another iDEAL EP/7″, and another collaboration with James Vinciguerra of the Australian band Total Control. I recorded some music with Rezzett while in Tallinn last year. Also did some stuff with Bill Converse/Jonathan Valdez….still in the process of editing/etc. Just trying to stay busy.