After recently celebrating their one-year anniversary with L.A.’s Kingdom, SPF666 and Commune of Club Chemtrail have found themselves at the helm of one of Portland’s hottest club nights. I asked them a few questions by email on their origins, conspiracy theories and cocavino.
Willamette Week: How did you guys meet?
Commune: Zak (SPF666) and I met when we both lived in Olympia, Wash., a few years ago, completely at random when I was looking for a new house to live in on Craigslist. We ended up bonding over our shared histories of punk rock and noise and soon started DJing around the same time.
SPF666: This is embarrassingly predictable, but I met Dave (Massacooramaan
) at a Kingdom
show a few years back. We got into an argument about French ghetto-tech and quickly realized we (much like Commune and I) shared an almost ethnomusicological approach to DJing and dance music. We became friends, and then eventually played some shows together.
Where, when, why and how Club Chemtrail?
SPF66: All three of us came up playing house parties and really informal settings, so that was an aesthetic we sought when we went out—and didn't really ever find that vibe, save weirdo 3 am afters. After spending a year causally surveying what was going on in PDX's dance scene, we decided to try to start a night that attempted to recreate that amazing experience that we found generally robbed from us in a club setting—teeming with house-party kids, queer folks, art-school dropouts, children of the Internet, etc., all bound together by illegal/antisocial behavior and the pursuit of complete and total wildness.
Commune: Club Chemtrail was conceptualized not longer after I moved here and we officially started in December 2012.
Did you design Chemtrail’s drink specials? Do you drink them? What do you abuse when DJing?
Commune: We've all been drinking cocavino/kalimotxo
for a while. The Club Chemtrail Cocktail was suggested by The Rose
and it serves its purpose well.
SPF666: Aside from all the obvious illicit substances, the only other thing we abuse is the trust of our partygoers, musically.
What is a chemtrail?
SPF666: Ty and I first collaborated on what would be the proto-party for Club Chemtrail, called 'MKVLTRA,' so we've always worked in this sort of weirdo conspiracy theory, paranoid, co-opted new-age bullshit aesthetic. The party name came from a genre experiment “chemtrail club,” which was essentially club-ready tunes with new, weird, and possibly anxiety-inducing elements. The goal was this specific dissonance of having fun while being challenged—a task that is still pretty central to our party today.
Do you have a favorite track of 2013?
SPF666: I feel it's a generally struggle to give the 'favourite track' answer; we all do a lot of digging, and frequently the tunes we're the wildest about are just likely to be a decade old. That's kind of a shitty pretentious answer, though—so maybe Ciara's “Body Party”
or Bey's “Partition.”
In terms of dance music, I really loved what I heard from our friends at Fade to Mind
. Also, the new sounds Dubbel Dutch, Doctor Jeep, Neana/Georgia Girls, and Marshall Applewhite are exploring are really cool and get me excited about dance music. Oh, shit, Kelela and Travi$ Scott's tapes, duh.
Commune: Agreed—I listened to a lot more older tunes this year than newer ones! That being said, I was stoked on all of the tuki
tracks from Venezuela that got proper releases. Was super into everything made by False Witness, Rizzla, Popcaan, the Body High Crew, the Track Meet crew, and the Unknown to the Unknown crew. Wasn't that into the rest of the record, but Zomby's “Overdose”
was probably the only modern jungle tune I got really into this year, so there's that. And my favorite rap tape was definitely DJ Nate's “13.”
What about shows?
SPF666: In terms of shows, there are so many! This is a really exciting time for Portland, all our friends have been putting in so much work and I can't wait to see what next year holds. The Machinedrum Vapor City
show was a pretty incredible representation of Portland's DJ scene (11 or so local acts), the feeling of unity was very real that night. As far as Chemtrails go, the one with False Witness
was totally fucking bananas, we were totally unlocked across the board.
Commune: To name just a few sick parties—Kelela + Inc., Samo Sound Boy + Jerome LOL + DJ Funeral, Paul Johnson. Yeah, either False Witness, Kingdom, or DJ NA was my favorite Chemtrail.
What's coming up for you and Chemtrail in 2014?
Commune: We can't exactly reveal the details yet, but we've got a good handful of very exciting names coming up. We've gotten more comfortable throwing the party, built more connections, and established an audience that is pretty consistent—which means that we have the potential to have more DJs and producers that we're excited about but the Chemtrail audience may not necessarily be familiar with.
As for me personally, I've been focusing a bit on making beats for vocalists recently and have been working on original tunes and mostly just sending them to a small amount of people for now but am shooting for some sort of release this year.
SPF666: As Chemtrail, we're currently working on a few projects similar to our CHEMTONES ringtones
project. I'm in a similar place of wrapping up a few EPs that are a long time coming and getting ready to tour the East Coast this April. I have some remixes that should be coming out in the coming months, as well as my own vocalist collab work. Keep watching the skies.
Club Chemtrail is Thursday, 1/16 (tonight!) at Rose Bar with Tony Goods, Eric Fury and residents Massacooramaan, SPF666 and Commune.
ELSEWHERE THIS WEEK:
— Let it Whip: Supreme La Rock, Rev Shines, Gwizski, Maxx Bass, Sex Life DJs
, Holocene, 9 pm, $3 before 10 pm, $5 after, 21+.