The 11th Annual Decibel International Festival of Electronic Music Performance, Visual Art and New Media kicked of Wednesday with free to the public showcases at the EMP Museum, as well as several performances across many different venues in Seattle.
Among the most anticipated artists were DJ Pierre and DJ Spank Spank also known as founding members of legendary group Phuture.
In a presentation sponsored by Roland, Pierre and Spank Spank described the acid house phenomenon and how it was first created.
Coming from a suburban area in Chicago, Pierre & Spank Spank were high school and college friends. They liked the same music and were in the middle of the big house music explosion. They made music with several drum machines and synthesizers, but they were desperately seeking for a more raw sound. A sound they had not found yet. Until one day, one of the guys stumbled up on a friend who had this machine called the Roland TB 303. After hearing and playing with the instrument, Pierre told Spank Spank “We really need this machine for our productions.” The squelchy sound of the TB 303 was the perfect fit for their futuristic beats.
One way or another, Ron Hardy got a copy of their first track in which they used the TB 303 and played it at events. One day Pierre runs to a person on the streets and this guy says: “man you gotta hear this, it’s the ‘Ron Hardy Acid Track’ and he played a tape from a Ron Hardy Mix bootlegged from an event.
Pierre said: “that’s our track! That’s not Ron’s. As he had a copy on tape unmixed, people realized it was not Ron Hardy but Phuture.
Pierre and Spank Spank then did some research on how to release a record. The track was hot and needed to be released. Finally they came in touch with Marshall Jefferson at an event, and ultimately he helped them release the track.
It was great to hear this story straight from Pierre and Spank Spank. Since all this happened about 30 years ago, even Pierre and Spank Spank were not even sure on the exact sequence of events. But still, Pierre and Spank Spank originated the sound of acid house with their beats and the unique tweaking of the TB 303 in their classsic Acid Tracks record.
Later in the evening everyone moved to The Monkey Loft in South Seattle to hear the two legends play their acid house on the newly released Roland Aira gear that reinterpreted the classic beatboxes and synthesizers from the 80’s
ABOUT DECIBEL FESTIVAL:
Founded in 2003, Decibel has become a unique platform for exposing attendees to leading-edge multimedia art from around the globe. With a focus on live performance, interactive multimedia art, state-of-the-art sound and technology based education; Decibel has made itself a leading factor within the USA pushing boundaries and breaking the rules. The five-day festival program averages over 25,000 attendees a year.
All photos by Larry Kleinke