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DJ /rupture’s Favorite Cities and Songs

On his Twitter profile, DJ /rupture, aka Jace Clayton, lists “dj * writer * jetlag king” as his occupations. And though he’s best known as the turntable mastermind behind albums like Uproot and Special Gunpowder and his latest release with Brooklyn producer Matt Shadetek, he wouldn’t be much of a DJ without the latter gigs. All three are intertwined: he’s written regularly for magazines like The Wire and N+1; and his recent piece for the latter, which landed in the 2009 Best Music Writing compilation, begins “I’ve DJed in over 20 countries…”

Access to music from the third world may be easy via the Internet, but Clayton’s discovery is often firsthand. In addition to DJing in over 30 countries now, he has spent much of the last decade living in Barcelona. It was his desire to be “caffeinated” that brought him back to New York City, and that brought him to make his new album with Shadetek, Solar Life Raft, with local musicians like Gang Gang Dance, Telepathe, and Nico Muhly.

Gang Gang Dance: “Bebey” (DJ /rupture and Matt Shadetek remix)

DJ /rupture and Matt Shadetek: “Layin’ In Bed, Overture: Watermelon City” Feat. Elizabeth Alexander, Autumn Rain
From the album Solar Life Raft (The Agriculture)

“One place I haven’t been is Sub-Saharan Africa,” he told us when we asked where he’s heading next. “I’d love to go to Côte d’Ivoire, I’d love to check out Johannesburg. I’ve been invited to play in Africa and all over the place, but I can’t just up and go and hang out in Dakar for a couple weeks on my own dime. I’m too busy. But that’s where my curiosity is highest. I’m been to Brazil before to do a couple shows in Rio de Janeiro, which is less surprising than going to Africa would be, but it’s still a really incredible city, so I’m psyched to be going there again.”

Below are some of his best travel memories and the tracks they remind him of.

1. Mexico City, Mexico
Tracks:
Grupo Macao, “La Cumbia Chida” and Grupo Kual, “Cumbia en la Playa”
The city I’m most in love with right now is Mexico City. Of course, there’s a lot of music in Mexico City, but one of the things that’s quite strong there is cumbia. It’s an international phenomenon, but these songs are both shouting out Mexico City, and when I hear them, I think of Mexico, and I think of playing them there in the context of a broader set of mine.

I was first there in March with filmmaker Jim Cohen and Guy Picciotto from Fugazi and Todd Griffin and my friend Andy Moore. Jim brought some musicians down to do a live soundtrack for a film of his about Mexico City that was premiering there. It was unbelievable; the city blew my mind. How could I have never been here before? But since then, I’m just going back as often as I can. It’s a brand new discovery, especially because I’ve played all over the world, in like 30, 35 countries, so I’ve seen so many different cities; so to find a city that can still knock me off my feet and surprise me is amazing. It’s incredible.

2. Paris, France
Track:
Kassav’, “Zouk La Ce Sel Medicament Nou Ni”
The first two or three times I visited Paris, I hated it. Then everything clicked, and now it’s one of my favorite cities in the world. Basically, Paris is a huge pan-African and Arab city; it’s the most African city in Europe, except for maybe Marseilles — another incredible city. I’m into so much music from North Africa and black Africa, so Paris is overwhelming. France also gives out the highest per-capita arts funding. I have friends there who do experimental sound poetry and are sponsored by haute-couture designers. It’s crazy.

Kassav’ is a good example of Paris as a magnet — they’re from Martinique, but formed in Paris as basically one of the world’s most bad-ass zouk bands. It’s early digital Caribbean rave music as formed in cold, gray Paris. They did their own jams, like this one, and were backing bands to a ton of artists. This tune is 140bpm, and they’re super-precise, in addition to being infectiously joyous; it works really well on the dance floor, and I can mix it with all kinds of stuff.

3. New York City, US
Track: Jahdan Blakkamoore, “Get Hustlin'”
How about the hometown? My jam for that is one that I made with my crew here. “Get Hustlin” is a beat that I made with my musical partner Matt Shadetek. We did this bit a year or two ago, and I actually used it on my mix CD as an instrumental. But then Matt and I, all in Brooklyn, we made a bunch of beats for Jahdan Blakkamoore and we ended up recording and producing his album, which is called Buzzrock Warrior. This is the one that opens it, and he’s talking about hustling in Brooklyn, so it’s a super-local beat. About Brooklyn, made in Brooklyn, mastered in Brooklyn, whole deal.

4. Bristol, UK
Track: Bass Clef, “Stokes Croft 5AM” [stream via Mudd Up! with DJ /rupture]
Bristol is amazing, and it’s especially amazing for all sorts of different types of bass music. For a track, it’s hard to say, because there’s so much dub, dubstep, UK garage, reggae, as well… all this stuff coming out of Bristol. But my favorite spot in Bristol, I think it’s a Sunday night party, is at this place called Cosies. It’s in the basement of what used to be a church. A tiny, tiny place with one of those very clean, very bass-saturating systems. So you can talk to people over it and at the same time your whole body will be vibrating because you’re in a tiny little room. So that’s probably my favorite spot in the city. So for a song [that reminds me of Bristol], the feel of bass in this place called Cosies.

It’s not representative of the Bristol sound, but Bass Clef has a song called “Stokes Croft 5AM,” and Stokes Croft is a cool, interesting part of the city. It’s a short, minute-long, ambient piece. But I’ve DJed at Stokes Croft many times, and to me, it’s like this sort of ambient piece where the party’s over and you’re going home and ghostly voices are floating above. It’s not a bass piece, it’s a trebly piece, but it’s nice because it references all of the madness that came before it.

5. Barcelona, Spain
Track: DJ /rupture, “Taqasim” feat. Abdelhak Rahal
Another city I love quite dearly is Barcelona, where I lived for several years. For me, actually, one of my strongest musical connections in Barcelona is collaborating with the musicians I met while I was there. So for the track for that, I would say this track from my album Social Gunpowder called “Taqasim,” which is featuring Abdelhak Rahal, a really amazing Moroccan multi-instrumentalist. On this beat, he’s playing violin. He’s got a really gorgeous violin style.

I love Spain and I love Barcelona, but at the end of the day, it’s a very sleepy beach town. It’s the world’s nicest beach town, it’s a lovely place to live, but it was steadily gentrified. People doing creative things were priced out. It wasn’t so dynamic. So for a couple of years, it was great. I had my studio there, and I’d work and just travel and earn a living in other parts of the world, and just come back to Barcelona to chill and work on my own stuff; but it doesn’t have the dynamic movement and bustle you get from a place like New York.

DJ /rupture and Matt Shadetek play the CD release party for Solar Life Raft this Friday at New York City’s Museum of Natural History.

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