How do you define your sense of belonging to the electronic scene and clubbing?
Electronic music (and art in general) is an artistic continuum that at this point in time has thousands of directions, moods, creators, and sounds. I am on a journey within this artistic continuum.
How did the scene develop in your country and which events were the trigger?
I started going to all night events (raves) in Calgary, Canada in the early 90’s in community halls, sport centres, and any space that would allow these events to take place. They were a direct result of events people heard of or went to in Detroit/Midwest America, California, New York, the were created and curated by the LGBTQ+, Black, minority communities in these cities/locations. These same communities would influence and create a safe spaces for everyone to participate in at the time.
Which sounds and influences represent you?
Early UK hardcore and Jungle was a huge influence, I remember the first time I heard it and it was so new and I had no idea what was happening but I instantly was consumed. I was also shorty there after introduced to Detroit techno, Chicago house, and early trance. At that time I was young, the music was very new to me and very hard to access so at the time I liked a huge variety of genres. It all sounded so fresh to me in 1994 as I had so little knowledge or exposure to it that is seemed new and never ending. This feeling and vibe has played heavily into my sound and music direction/journey. I am working to create music that explores and encompasses the feelings I have encountered throughout my life.
Which are the national and international labels that deserve a mention from you?
Metroplex, Underground Resistance, Warp, Skam, Downward, Tresor, R&S, Basic Channel, Clone, Rephlex, Tempa, Metalheads, Livity Sound, 3024, 4PF, OTF, QC, Paper Route Empire, Night Slugs, Fade To Mind, Hyperdub, Planet Mu, Clear, Mo Wax, Reflective, Worm Interface, Schematic, Rising High Records, Astralwerks, FatCat Records, Ninja Tune, Kranky, Constellation.
Among the artists, who do you think helped with the growth and the development of the scenes? Between past and present
For me all the original players ie. Detroit, Chicago, Midwest, (Ron Hardy, Jesse Saunders, Juan Atkins, Frankie Knuckles, Larry Heard, Robert Armani, Marshall Jefferson, Ron Trent, Kevin Saunderson, Carl Craig, Mad Mike, Robert Hood, Jeff Mills, Anthony Shake Shakir, Claude Younge, Phuture, Lil Louis, Paul Johnson, Larry Levan, Steve Poindexter, Farley Jackmaster Funk, Terrence Dixon, Stacey Pullen, Kenny Larkin, etc) had the biggest impact on the music as a whole. To this day, there are so many tracks in so many styles that still are either new versions or direct derivatives of these originals works and one must make sure not to downplay the originators their importance. Of course there are then others that flipped things, did something new, used new sounds/equipment but I feel like everything comes from those original creators and has clearly spiderwebbed off of those creators.
Clubs and venues that have particularly affected you?
The people and the vibes, not really the clubs, are the most important thing in my experience. You can be playing anywhere and have the most amazing experiences, I think the smaller, more off the cuff places or off locations tend to be my favorite. cukr in Prague has off location parties all over the city and I was able to play in an old abandoned pool which stands out for me. I also played in a loft in NYC last year which was totally amazing and again, the people were so amazing. It always comes down to the people.
How is the present? What strengths and problems do scenes face up?
I focus on what I am doing and how I can move forward and of course with the COVID-19 pandemic this has been difficult. Working on new music and trying to find new directions and sounds have remained my goals. I am working on an album project and trying to find exciting fun ways to move my music forward. Of course, playing again will be amazing but I think focusing on what is directly in front of me will keep me motivated and that is always exploring music.
As far as the whole scene is concerned, the fact that there is a deeper change going on in the structures of electronic music is hopeful. Giving people a place to speak and feel safe to come forward in light of so many injustices is important and hopefully this causes some real change within.
This music and spaces were created by people who needed a safe space and thus created places that were safe for their respective communities and nurtured each other. I hope that this feeling of community and nurturing can again prevail within the dance music community and we can all feel safe.
Ryan James Ford’s Top 10 Favorite Tracks:
Actress - Purple Splazsh
Source Direct - Call and Response
DJ Krush - Rust
Ramadanman - Glut
Gescom - Sciew Spoc
Spacetime Continuum - Ping Pong
Ghostface Killah - Nutmeg
Björk - All Neon Like
Nkisi - The Dark Orchestra
Aphex Twin - On