Who: Nick Sisouphanh (DJ/producer).
Sounds like: Instrumental tracks from an unreleased Gucci Mane-Young Thug split mixtape remixed for a Jersey Club dance-off.
For fans of: Sonny Digital, DJ Sliink, iLoveMakonnen.
If you want to see how club culture in Portland has evolved, look no further than Verified. Once a scene defined by the dready massacre of Groove Suite and the lurid bro-scape of the Crown Room, the 2-year-old monthly event has created an all-encompassing party, drawing a diverse roster to rave out for a stacked crowd.
It's also a prime example of how local producers are utilizing tools through software and online social media to spread their brand and sphere of influence—something co-founder Nick Sisouphanh knows a bit about.
"Soundcloud really popped off for me," says the DJ and producer, who records as Gangsigns. Sisouphanh began playing jazz in grade school, then joined punk and hardcore bands before he started making beats for friends to rap over in high school. Like many, the discovery of Souncloud was a turning point, opening a portal of high-energy electronic and trap-influenced tracks produced worldwide. "Bigger producers and DJs were supporting me," he says, "and all of a sudden, people wanted to book me to play live."
Linking up with Cory Haynes, founder of STYLSS, an Oregon-based online powerhouse for electronic music, was also key to pushing this new direction of musical entrepreneurship, allowing Sisouphanh to tour the West Coast twice. Gangsigns' music is a stacked procession of lite-trap-influenced production with jazzy chords and ephemeral breaks, with R&B samples to soften the mood. On Gangsigns' latest EP, Defining Moments, glossy synths are more prominent than jarring drops, with lifting melodies blending with a variety of percussion and breaks ranging from Jersey Club to juke.
"I spend a lot of time listening to music to gather ideas and direction, then spend time sketching ideas for almost an hour each day, until I sit down and bust out a track in one day or night," Sisouphanh says. "A wide range of musical influences lets me see the bigger picture and be more creative. I will literally listen to anything, so long as it's good."
In 2014, Sisouphanh, along with Haynes, launched Verified at Holocene as a reflection of his eclectic taste. In the two years since, the event has become a home for trap mash-ups, niche club tracks and EDM bass music, bringing in a stream of local DJs and world-renowned production talent. In addition to Rinse.fm banner-waving Brits and Diplo acolytes, the likes of Uniique and Mike Q have passed through, profiling the founders' open ear toward queer scenes like bounce and ballroom, where dancing is a more performative gesture than just flexing. Verified goes for that middle ground, enabling clubgoers of all stripes to find freedom in the masses at mostly sold-out shows.
"PDX club culture, from my experience, has always been based off one genre," Sisouphanh says. "I wanted Verified to be a place where we can easily transition people into new music and genres…and now our crowd is literally people I would see at raves or a Top 40 hip-hop night." WYATT SCHAFFNER.
SEE IT: Verified's second anniversary is at Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., with Falcons, Promnite, Gangsigns, Quarry and Photon, on Saturday, Jan. 9. 9 pm. $13 advance, $15 day of show. 21+.