Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Weird Science: Electric Indie Land

“I'm influenced by a lot of the current European remixers and producers, like Justice and Does It Offend You, Yeah?” says Steve Aoki, one half of L.A. DJ/production duo Weird Science but better known as ubiquitous celebrity DJ Kid Millionaire and owner of the relentlessly cool Dim Mak label. He's going on about the current proliferation of quirky superclub dance tracks coming from overseas, with a particular appeal for the American hipster party scene. “But sometimes the music from Europe is way too out there for most crowds. We always want our sound to be really catchy and simple. There are only a few North American acts that really combine forward sounds with memorable melodies, like Junior Sanchez and MSTRKRFT. I want to produce remixes that anyone can play out.”

Taking a spin through the duo's growing catalog of reworks for the likes of Bloc Party, Peaches and Mindless Self-Indulgence, their simple-but-catchy ethos is readily apparent. “Our sound has an indie-rock sensibility, since that's where we both came from,” reasons Blake Miller, the other half of Weird Science, who's also the singer/guitarist for scrappy L.A. post-punk outfit Moving Units. “Besides the aesthetic, the best thing about indie-rock is just good songs. It's essential that our music have really sick hooks. The other thing is that people's tastes have become so diverse. It's cool to be able to marry indie-rock songs with dirty electro beats.”

“Ultimately, it's all about getting people to just go off at a party,” Aoki surmises. “We want to see people freaking out on the dancefloor.”

Both take pride in their relative lack of experience on the decks and behind the production board but are exceedingly confident in their abilities to churn out bomb tracks, with a full-length album expected in 2007 featuring guest vocals from the likes of French crooner Uffie, Lady Tigra from '80s electro-rappers L'Trimm and Steve Bay from new wave rockers Hot Hot Heat.

“Not to geek out, but my favorite piece of gear is an old Roland W-30 sampling workstation. I've never seen anyone else use one, but I love it,” Miller raves. “The sample memory is really limited, and when you sample at that rate, it has a really trashy, cheap sound to it. We like to take certain vocals, chop them up and repeat them throughout the track. It's become something of a signature. I can't think of any plug-in that could replicate that sound. I like bastardizing technology to get really awesome results. That's kind of our approach in general. We try to rely on our imagination and just force cool things to happen that aren't necessarily conventional.”

(Originally published in Remix, 1/07)