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DJ / Dance Tue Feb 09 2010

All Systems Go with The Chicago Workgroup

Untitled-1.pngLocal DJ Collective the Chicago Workgroup have been doing their fair share to bring Chicago both a new sound and a couple of fairly old ones. At once a blog, a collective and a residency every second Wednesday at Smartbar, the seven DJ deep Workgroup has been making strides to showcase forward-thinking house and disco. All Systems Go! - their monthly night at Smartbar - has been booking ever more prominent artists in both genres, and tonight's bill is topped by none other than DFA's Holy Ghost! with CWG DJs Scotty Brandon, Samone Roberts, Kid Color and Weaponry providing the support and Mister Joshua, Ross Kelly and OneFiftyOne sharing hosting duties.

Despite strong line ups for All Systems go in the next couple months with Trus'me on March 10th and Aeroplane on April 14th, the Chicago Workgroup hope to achieve much loftier goals. Before an eventful Friday evening out, I met with Samone Roberts, Scotty Brandon, Noah Casser (Weapony) and Josh Ferguson (Mister Joshua) to discuss the Workgroup's beginnings, future plans, the benefits of being a collective and a little bit on how technology has helped in unexpected ways.

UPDATE: Smartbar has just released a statement confirming that the ridiculous snow storms on the east coast have canceled Holy Ghost!'s flights out of New York. Pre-sale tickets can be redeemed for the rescheduled performance in the Spring or refunded at the Metro Store. Though Holy Ghost! will not be performing tonight, All Systems Go! is soldiering on with no cover all night.

Gaper's Block: So the Workgroup started both as a night and a DJ collective?

Scotty Brandon: We did a Friday night that was kind of special. It was a success and James Amato liked what we had done and he asked if we wanted to do this Wednesday monthly. We decided as a group that we should kind of give this thing a name and give it the concept that we're more than just individuals. And I came up with the idea of the Chicago Workgroup, which was inspired by like the Bauhaus and the artists collective from architecture, art everything. And we all decided it was a good name that said what we were about, because I consider us all working class musicians and DJs trying to really make a change.

Joshua Ferguson: I think that concept really resonated with all of us. This lack of pretense, just want to play good music. We all played together a couple times and knew at this point that we were all on the same page. We've all had the experience of crossing these people with likeminded attitudes.

SB: Really, it just comes down to us being music dorks. And beyond being DJs and everything, we're all friends. No problem hanging out, and if one of us is playing, like Kyle (Kid Color) opened for Hercules and Love Affair and it was all of us...

JF: Front and center, just loving life. I had so much fun up there.

GB: How do you guys feel about having a residency on a Wednesday? I know that might not be preferable for a lot of people.

SB: I actually really like it. It gives us the opportunity to bring people in like Holy Ghost or Aeroplane because it is a Wednesday.

Noah Casser: Our sound really lends itself more to a crowd that would be going out in the middle of the week, too. We're DJ's DJs. The industry crowd that would come out during the week are nerdy the way they we're nerdy.

Samone Roberts: Nerdy and beautiful! (laughs) We saw it as we were offered a Smartbar residency. It's a fantastic opportunity.

NC: We'd play at 6 in the morning on a Monday to play at Smartbar, we love it so much.

SR: I do that every Monday anyways. What do you mean?

(laughter)

GB: You guys have been linked most with the local disco scene, especially the "disco fam."Is this something you guys hoped to be affiliated with?

SR: We all grew up on disco and without it, everything would be completely different. It's something that runs deep for all of us. A love for electronic music.

NC: The labeling might be a dangerous thing though, because we don't want to get stuck of one vein of music. But we respect where everything came from. We're trying to really just go back to basics.

SB: I know this is a cheesy way to say it, but I think we're all pleased as punch to be accepted by the local "disco fam" in Chicago. We're all just really positive, and we want to be there for everyone.

JF: I mean, rather than having disco be a term that narrows the focus of what we do, we'd like to embrace what it's done; not have it act as a limitation. We're always moving forward.

GB: There's been a lot of talk about how "2010 is the year!" As in, this is when things are going to change/happen/begin in the dance music industry. Do you guys feel that way at all?

NC: We're all kind of coming to a point where we understand the way the internet works and how music is marketed to us. People are more discerning about what they're going to do. And what stands out is quality.

SR: But also more importantly we only have two years until 2012 so we need to start partying now.

(laughter)

NC: I see in a lot of these young guys coming up, Kyle Kid Color is one of them and Garrett Le Principle and Erin OCD Automatic. A lot of these guys have grown up online, and in a lot of ways they might be saying, "This doesn't speak to us. We want to go back to the roots of this and figure it out for ourselves." I see these younger guys and it reenergizes me.

SB: As much as we talk about technology, it can help, like Beatport and Resident Advisor. They unite this little world of electronic dance music. And I mean, moving forward we're just trying to turn people on to the stuff that we're into. The key to us as a group is the message. I don't care how a DJ presents him/herself or provides a message just as long as the message is a good message with good music and a good idea.

All Systems Go! is tonight, Feb. 10th and every second Wednesday at Smartbar; 3730 N. Clark. CWG DJs Scotty Brandon, Samone Roberts, Kid Color and Weaponry open. 10pm. $10, $8 before midnight. 21+

 
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