Today we’re talking with Byron Brown, who’s honestly the most refreshing and ethical promoter we’ve had in a long time. Jaxlore sat down with him for the first installment of our interview series in lieu of his bi-monthly house night at TSI (details below):
We’re here with Byron Brown, local artist and show thrower extraordinaire (smiles abound) and we want to ask him a few questions. What’s up Byron? Welcome to Jaxlore. You are known as much as an artist as you are for throwing great parties. Tell our readers how Phukheadz started and what got you into throwing shows.
Phukheadz originally started in ’93 in my notebook and around 1995, I was working on my first comic book, titled ‘PCP Comics’. I would always draw the Phukheadz on the covers and they would also appear in some panels within the book itself. From there, fast-forward to about 2005, I was with my godson who was messing with some sculpting clay and I decided to make a Phukhead out of it. I took a picture of it in front of one of my paintings and made a sticker out of that picture.
In 2006 Ann [Byron’s significant other] and I went to the Blue Room [a now defunct club which was on St. John’s Bluff and Atlantic in the Southside] and from the second week I was handing out stickers like I did at raves in the nineties and the new stickers I handed out [at the Blue Room] were first noticed by Christa Carey and she was like, “I really like this guy and the sticker” so the next week I brought ’em out, it was Dean Coleman who really lit the bulb – he really wanted to take the Phukhead [a prototype] back to Atlanta with him but I had made it with my godson. The next week, I made some more – four to begin with – and I numbered them on the bottom of the feet and handed those four out. After I handed those out, more and more people were like “Where is mine?” to the point where after a hundred were made a police officer told me he was pissed at me. I was like ‘Why are you mad?” and he replied “Because I don’t have a Phukhead!” (laughs) and so that was like the first compliment [outside of the scene] and that’s how it got started.
What got you into doing shows?
What got me into doing shows was actually after the first 100 [Phukheadz], I couldn’t believe that I had actually gone that far. They had been given to DJs that had played inside the Blue Room [where in 2009, this interviewer received his, number 741] and wherever they were from – it had started to spread throughout Florida – we were like, well, let’s throw a party and celebrate. The initial party was all the people who were there from the get-go: Kinesis, Josh Binczak, Aware, Christa, Angela, Gordo…all of them – the core group. Josh said ‘You’re gonna be here for a while.”
Right on. Your parties are EDM based. What was your first exposure to EDM?
I would say Information Society. I don’t know if people consider that EDM –
Well, it IS electronic dance music.
Definitely them, probably around ’88 or ’89. My friend Joe had the ‘Hack’ CD. [Although INSOC had big hits in ’88 and ’89, ‘Hack’ was released in 1990]
Ah, 1990 then, which is when it came out.
Do you think the original concept behind ‘Phuk The Politics’ is still relevant in 2014?
In ways it is more relevant but I think the original structure of being able to do that, because of how popular the scene has gotten now, it is almost impossible to do those shows now because everything has gotten more [segregated]. There are so many venues doing shows and at the time [the mid 2000s – post RAVE Act and a low point in the local scene] we did those four shows at the Blue Room. [More shows were done at other venues later on].
Jax has always had a cliquey scene. We have, arguably, two main scenes now. Whether you compare them by average age or pop EDM versus underground dance music, have the politics ceased since you began your shows? Do you distinguish between the dance music scenes in town?
I mean, you can distinguish because there’s a core and then there’s a new breed that has come through. As far as the politics – I’m sure there’s still politics but there’s also a lot of misunderstanding – and that’s actually from both cliques whether it’s the guys in their forties saying, “This is how it used to be” [versus] those kids who just don’t really understand, they haven’t experienced [the history] just yet.
What’s your opinion on the state of the Jax scene in 2014? Is it healthy? And what about the viability of doing shows now?
I think it’s healthy. It is the cliques that you’re talking about, the things that keep people separate – I think that’s the hardest part and it is because – and I myself, the way I book shows, sometimes it’s selfish because I don’t wanna book [DJs whose music] I don’t wanna hear so I try not to be that and try to be more welcoming. Probably the person most welcome is Vlad [The Inhaler] when he does Crunchay24, there’s a wide variety on that [bill] too. What comes to mind is 2008, I think, when we did the Unity Fest here [it was January 19th, 2008 at Metropolitan Park – a rainy affair], something like that would actually be more successful now and with separate stages you could have old-school [talent] and new-school [talent] work together.
Back to Phukheadz, what’s next on the frontier?
It is a rough question because over the past eight years now…I have everything in my head, whether it be from animation to manufacturing toys as far as spreading them out further – just trying to get my artwork out there to as many people who want to see it.
Anything else you want to share? What’s on your playlist right now?
Not that I can think of! (Ann laughs) But it’d be Bedrock’s ‘Underground Sound Of Miami 3’ and Matt Caulder’s funk mixes on Soundcloud along with Eddie ‘Flashin’ Fowlkes. I’m more…when I listen to dance music, I tend to listen to mixes rather than single tracks.
Well we’ll pump up the show tonight at TSI – another installment of Infinite Loop. Those reading this will see the flyer below the interview. Thanks again, Byron.
Byron’s website can be reached by clicking here.
6/19: Infinite Loop @ TSI
And now, on to other news and reviews.
Sorry for the grainy photo (that’s what happens when you launder an iPhone) but the Japanese CD version of the new Lone CD from Beat Records [JP] comes with a free R&S Records Lone Hip Hop Mix. Now, through the Rough Trade site, if you ordered the 2xLP, you got a free CD but it was supposed to be an exclusive mix just for RT – this CD appears to be the same mix. So if you really want this album, order it from HMV Japan (you’ll get the two totally exclusive bonus tracks and the extra CD), they will get it to your front door within four days and it is worth every penny. The CD is actually on sale for 2,000 yen and not 2,160 as posted.
Gui Boratto back in the game with a new 12 for those German stalwarts Kompakt and really, all four mixes will work for any clued-up Jacksonville floor (or any GD floor for that matter) and although you can shlep over to any download site and pick up an extra track, yes, the purists at Jaxlore HQ went for the wax for true lossless sound. I mean, isn’t it the only real lossless way? The way they rook you on Beatport, ya might as well get the real thing. Of course, there’s the less ethical among us (sad to say)…
Meda Fury is a new sister-label to the R&S family which, over two releases, has created some kind of vegan-tech-house-whatever that’s not easily characterized. First release was from Hazylujah (Italian Massimilliano Vianello) and the lastest EP, just repressed by demand is from Japan’s Takuya Matsumoto. Check ’em all out here on Meda’s Soundcloud page and the records are available from Juno. Digital downloads are for sale all over. Just pick your spot! Sadly, you won’t be hearing this forward thinking stuff on local radio programs like ‘Electro Lounge’ but that’s just a fight for another age. And it is why us DJs and punters have to continue carrying the torch because the mainstream just doesn’t get it. And frankly, who needs ’em?
Also, you can now stream that long-lost Caustic Window album. The one that got about $67K though the drive on Kickstarter.