The Obvious Interview

Published On March 14, 2012 | By Kymbo Slice | Interviews, Music

Tomorrow dawns the start of a new monthly, the aptly titled “Obvious”, a night the event’s creators refer to as “modern party music”. We wanted to learn a bit more about the individuals behind the night, as well as what’s in store for its future, so who better to chat with than the lovely Ryan Walsh, aka Local, aka a guy who’s been around the block when it comes to throwing parties in the PGH.

You might recognize Ryan from events in the late nineties/early 2000s – FLUX, Tokyo at Alto Lounge, Hijack, the Centre Street Social in Detroit (Movement 2010) and VIA as a production manager. His efforts have helped perpetuate a scene that’s thriving in 2012, and he’s back to make his mark once again. In terms of his favorite project to-date, he says, “I think my favorite project I’ve worked on is VIA. I don’t usually help until six weeks out. I know nothing of the booking and grind of getting it all together, something I usually am too picky about. I’m not financially involved. I don’t get paid. I do it because I’ve done really big events before and I know how hard the home stretch is. It is the one event series I’ve done where I am completely at service to another team’s vision. Those folks are creating something with VIA that is beyond festival, beyond party. It’s art as event and event as art. All who work on it are superior in their craft, and it is a joy to be a help to them.”

Ryan’s picky, perfectionistic tendencies are something he’s attempting to shed with his new project, Obvious, as well as his persona as DJ Local. “I’ve been really serious about what music I put forward over the years, and I’m pretty tired of stressing about getting it perfect. As a result, I have given up on genres, given up on creating some magic niche that completely works. I think the idea of being a ‘house’ or ‘techno’ DJ or producer has been over for a while. Kinda like the vinyl vs. digital debate – who gives a shit? Forget about it. If you’re good, it’s irrelevant. Whether it’s discogs or torrents, everyone has access to music. The limiting factor is time and creativity. What I stand for as an artist is to take that ubiquity of content and do something with it. So, I’ve decided I’m going to have fun in the exact moment, lay down party tracks when they should be laid, and go deep and dark otherwise. “

Ryan plans on bringing the “deep and dark” to his set for Thurday’s Obvious premiere, in which he will be opening for headliners Moldy and XXXY. “I want to calmly set the tone for Moldy & XXXY to go where they want (which will be to kill it in the most exacting way).” His set at Obvious will present a contrast to his set at the recent pop-up event that took place in Oakland, cheekily referred to as “Totally”. “We did what we thought was natural. Throw a monster entire-apartment-building party in Oakland with a killer sound system and for basically nothing. We got some other talent (shouts to Mr. Owl and Vanby). I played my own edits of west coast bass smashers, breaks, UK dub, European commercial house, driving techno from Toronto and some edits mixed together to create dubstep basslines from breaks and 2-step tracks.”

You can hear Ryan’s set in its entirety at the bottom of this post, which he graciously recorded and sent to us for your listening pleasure. “When I listened to it, did I think I created the ultimate bell-curve or triangle wave set? Nah. You can hear it on the podcast – I played with basslines, which is its own journey if that’s what you’re after. Really, it is a straight peak time house party set for a bunch of wild college kids in an empty apartment building with a huge sub. It’s not a genre, it’s a time and place.”

So how exactly did this new monthly come about? Ryan isn’t the only one involved, obviously (te-hee). “This monthly was largely conceived by Erin Cooper, a longtime friend who saw an amazing opportunity – use the Diesel venue and system to showcase the latest in bass music. We wanted to ride this middle line where we threw great bass-oriented dance music that wasn’t too grindy or too obscure. You know, what Thom Yorke would have at his club night. We threw the idea to Victor Panza, a local and former agent for the premier bass/dub talent agency in the US – Surefire. He hoped on board with his partner Ian McGlumphy and away we went.”

And what about the name, Obvious? “What we all agreed on was the exact goal of the night. It ended up being just obvious once we put it on paper. Victor knows music better than many DJs he used to represent, Ian’s tight on the promo and sales and Erin is a master promoter. I feel this is an indication of a solid team and a good idea – when it’s obvious what to do.”

One thing I had to ask, however, was their choice in venue, seeing that Diesel hasn’t been well received since its remodel, or ever really, except for amongst the more mainstream, college-aged demo. Even the relatively indie acts such as Beach House and St. Vincent have moved on to other facilities. The Obvious team has managed to identify the venue’s opportunities, and hopes to capitalize on the underutilization of this space amongst its target demo. “Diesel has a different type of crowd on the weekends than what we attract, no doubt, but their system is the best house system in the city. They also just invested a ton of money to make the club comfortable and nice. We’re not long on venues here in Pittsburgh. People get tired. We should use the assets we have to create a vibrant scene. Diesel is a good venue, and our programming is proper. Right system, right programming – that’s all you need.”

As for the programming, “We’re going for modern party music, and that happens to be oriented in the low end these days. In terms of who you’ll see, I can only say we’re going for breaking artists and established artists in a 50/50 split. Truth from New Zealand and Antiserum from San Francisco are in April. They are truly the innovators in that harder-edged and faster sound. We’re gonna test the bass bins with that one. The next two Obvious nights will include a crazy party DJ who everyone knows and a true dubstep original – one of the godfathers.”

In a dream world, Ryan’s ideal series of bookings would include “Girl Unit and The Field for one month, followed by Skream and Benga, followed by Eats Everything and Worthy. I’m sure you’ll see some of those names here eventually.”

In order to see those names in the PGH at some point, you’re gonna need to go out and support this more than worthy event, which is sure to light a fire under your dancing shoes and keep you out way past your bedtime for a Thursday night. I personally couldn’t be more excited about this prospect, and wish the Obvious team nothing but the best of luck and then some with this ambitious endeavor.

Obvious premieres Thursday, March 15 at XPM at Diesel in the South Side. Opening set by Local, followed by sets with Moldy and XXXY. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day-of. If you’ve managed to make it to the end of this post, we’re rewarding you with an exclusive discount code and podcast! Save $2 off your ticket AND reduce fees to just $1 when buying your tickets online by using the code NAK. It’s that easy. The hardest part of this whole thing will be dragging yourself outta bed to get to work on time Friday morning. See yous there!

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