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Recognise: Textasy

Recognise: Textasy

Recognise is DJ Mag's new monthly mix series, introducing artists we love that are bursting onto the global electronic music scene. This month, we speak to our favourite bent electro/warped jungle maniac, Textasy…

"It's fun to synergise different genres that wouldn't normally be put together," says Textasy, aka Berlin based Dustin Evans. "Coming up with different combinations and trying to create symbiotic relationships between genres that didn't exist before."

The DJ/producer from Dallas has hewn a unique sound from surprising ingredients, pillaging dance music history and stealing the best bits from electro, breakbeat hardcore and acid techno to create an exultant and explosive mixture. 

His 'Off The Leash' EP for Natural Sciences contained a DJ Mag single of 2017 in 'Illusions Of The Mind', an emission of elastic body-popping electro funk with eerie synths and a diversion into spooky stalker thriller territory in its mid track bass swap, while 'Breakbeat Lizard' from 'Welcome To The Darkroom' on E-Beamz is a suitably sludgy acid cut with murky drums cutting through the miasma.

Evans's devil-may-care approach to genre is exhilarating, and the result of a deep musical curiosity that began with a youthful affection for Miami bass. He later discovered the Dallas electro scene and became fascinated with UK rave culture and IDM. "I'd hear Miami bass on [Tommy Boy Records] 'Jock Jams' compilations, advertised on TV, and on the radio in Florida, 'cause my mom's from there," Evans says.

"Later I discovered Aphex Twin and Warp Records, and traced their roots. What made them - using the internet to figure out their influences. It was a matter of digging and creating a mental map."

In his appreciation for hardcore and jungle, Textasy isn't afraid to use samples, liberally sprinkling familiar sounds amid his hybrid beats. "I like combining analogue gear and samples. There's the aesthetic of hip-hop and Detroit producers who would just rip the hell out of shit and have fun with it, and create a really interesting result." Rather than dropping his samples directly into the computer, Evans prefers to use an MPC, as the restrictions of the device are an aid rather than a hindrance to creativity.

"I use the Akai 2000XL, it has the sound of older samplers," he says. "I guess it causes you to choose your samples more carefully. With Ableton, the ease and convenience of using a laptop takes away the careful decision-making that you'd have to use with an older sampler. Even though it's slower and there's less space, the sound of it is so much better. It has that weight that digital productions don't really have."

The name Textasy comes from his favourite Texan hardcore rave record by Nasa Project, on 1992's 'High Friends In Places' EP. But it also has a satisfying synergy with Dallas's Starck Club, known as one of the first dance spots in the US to embrace ecstasy use in the mid 1980s, prior to its being made illegal.

"The guy that made that record, DJ Red Eye, was a Starck Club regular," Evans says. "I find it amazing that in the environment of the '80s in Dallas, there was a decadence that came from the city getting built up so quickly and being a hub of fashion and art, and having Philippe Starck come in and design that club."

Though Texas today might seem an unlikely destination for electronic music, in recent times some exciting artists have emerged from the state. Bill Converse, the synth band S U R V I V E (two of whom wrote the music for Stranger Things) and Dylan Cameron are from Austin, while Textasy's hometown has its own vibrant electro scene, with Cygnus, Blixaboy and Convextion/ERP just some of the producers to rep the city. Textasy reckons that though the scene might be small there, it's more passionate and dedicated than in most places. 

"It's a really close community and a special feeling," he says. "In Texas, it's more challenging to be an artist, so you have to put your all into it, you know? It shows how much dedication people have there that two years ago, I did a party in a ghost town called Cleburne. I have two friends that live in an abandoned bank there, and it was called Texas Freak Fest.

“People drove from Austin, from Dallas. Everyone who came to the party drove for like three hours. Bill Converse played. It was really cool, 'cause in Berlin you wouldn't see that dedication. To see a whole crowd of people in the middle of nowhere, it's the true spirit of Midwest techno.”

Beyond his own production, Evans dedicates his time to his vinyl imprint FTP (FreiTanzPlatten). It's an outlet for likeminded dance artists, and finds a midway point between his passions for electro, techno and fast breakbeats.

"It's been great to start this new label and put out some of the first records from artists who similarly don't have genre restrictions," he says. "That's the idea of the label, to switch things up constantly. For one record to be ghetto tech electro mixed with jungle, which was something that DJ Assault or DJ Nasty did, but didn't really take that far as a genre. I can look back and say, 'OK well, let's pick up where they left off 'cause that's a really cool sound'."

Electro has become more popular over the last year, and Evans is fired up by the new affection for the genre, noticing its growing influence in Berlin.

"I've done parties recently in Berlin where it felt like a movement, that everything was harder and faster. I think Stingray is partially responsible for leading that wave of people being more open, especially in Europe, to playing harder and faster stuff.  Maybe the people are getting tired of boring techno, I don't know."

Textasy's new 'Dallas Gun Club' EP for Craigie Knowes skews to his love of hardcore, with four cuts of breakbeats, spacey atmospheres, acid and big piano riffs. After that comes Evans' next big project, uncovering a little-explored area.

"It's called 'Texas Terror Tech Volume 1', and it will be a double CD: a joint release between my label FTP and Natural Sciences, and it's gonna be a Detroit ghetto tech style mix-tape of different sounds, mixed up with jungle. I'm hoping that one will turn heads."

Listen to Textasy’s Recognise mix below. No tracklist on this one, so get digging.

Want more? Check out last month’s Recognise mix from the jewel in NTS Radio’s crown, Elena Colombi.

You can also read our investigation into the return of electro.