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July 7th, 2004 Matt Wright | Music Stories
 

THE STACK with Barrett Ryker

Portland General Electro leadman moves asses and could teach classes...in international relations.

     
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It's 2 am on a recent Friday in a Southeast Portland house, and the roof is on fire. Barrett Ryker is on the decks as DTFM, spinning an alien strain of dance music that combines punk's energy with the epic build-ups of classic house and the robotic melodicism of old-school electro. Hipsters stream through the narrow entryway of a packed dance party, spilling out on to the dance floor where a manic, sweaty crowd awaits.

Flash forward a couple weeks, and Ryker can be found digging through his sizable record collection and waxing enthusiastic about his new band, a cheeky performance electro duo by the name of Portland General Electro, featuring Christopher Lighety on laptop and synths and Ryker on vocal duty. But while Ryker's DJ sets and performances skew toward the hyper-modern, his record collection is packed with overlooked dance classics. He shared a few of his favorites with WW. (Matt Wright)

The Plastics, "Good," The Plastics, 1981

"The Plastics were a Japanese new wave band from the early '80s. The version I'm playing you was re-recorded from the original Japanese release, which came out about a year earlier. The thing about this stuff is that not only is it something that you don't hear all the time, but if you look even further into it you find the original version, and it just keeps going further. And that's how you end up with 700 records."

Yellow Magic Orchestra, "Behind the Mask," X(infinity)Multiples, 1980

"The thing that impresses me about YMO is that Japan in the 1980s was the same way the world is today, with technology overtaking everything and people trying to understand what's going on, and you can hear it in the music. When I lived in Japan, I'd walk around [the electronics district] where everything's in neon lights, and it looks just like Blade Runner, and I'd think of these songs, and it just fit the environment perfectly."

Tapps, "Runaway (with My Love)," Single, 1982

"I would never play Tapps at an '80s party, even though it's from 1982, because no one's going to understand where it came from. They're going to ask, 'Why are you playing disco? This sounds like the '70s.' But this is 1982 in Toronto, Canada, where there was a real disco resurgence due to the large influx of Portuguese immigrants demanding a whole new disco scene with a Western European, or Italo Disco, influence. It's like if disco would have never had a huge backlash in the United States and had just kept evolving."

Dan Hartman, "Vertigo," Relight My Fire, 1979

"This is a good example of the Italo Disco sound. People seem to think disco can only come from New York in the '70s, but when I think of music I just think of something that will work with something else. That's what makes DJing fun, taking influences from absolutely everywhere.... Having the ability to go to a Goodwill store and dig through about 600 dusty Herb Alpert records just to find the one record that's totally going to work, and astound you when you hear it."


Barrett Ryker DJs as DTFM at Metrophysics Vat Friday, July 9, at Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., 239-7639. 9 pm. Cover. 21+.
 
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