datacide: Who is Deadly Buda?
deadly buda: Deadly Buda came about when I was in junior high school, I guess around the age of about 13, I got really interested in doing graffiti art, and you have sort of a nom de plume, and I went through a number. There was Frenzy, there was Fury, a lot of names that started with F, then there was Attack, there was Rage [laughs] – you see a trend here. And actually, believe it or not, Rave was one of them. So I went through these in the course of a couple of years. Then one day I got an assignment to do a report on religions for social studies, and everyone had taken all the ‘good’ religions, and I decided to use Buddhism. Previous to that I’d been interested in Carlos Castaneda, walked around looking at the line of horizon with my fingers curled for months and months. So when I read about Buddhism I found myself to agree with it quite a lot. At that point I guess I was just doodling, we spent a lot of time not actually doing schoolwork, but practising our graffiti, so I tried out using the word Buddha, and I shortened it down to four letters, and it kinda stuck, and I made a name for myself as a graffiti artist, being one of the first people to really rectify alternating perspectives within the lettering style. So I kind of got a name from that, and then when I started getting introduced to raves I was already familiar with DJing as I was Hip Hop DJing at the same time I was doing graffiti, and when it was time to put my name on a flyer for the first time, I wanted it to sound like Grandmaster Flash or something, so I was like ‘what about Deadly Buda’ and it’s stuck ever since then. So I’ve been associated with Buda and Budism for 12-13 years, Deadly Buda for probably 6 , six and a half years.
datacide: How did you get into the Rave thing?
deadly buda: Around the time I was 18 I started getting involved with galleries, I was living in New York City in Manhattan, and my girlfriend actually did parties at the Tunnel, she was one of the original club kids, along with Michael Alec, she was partners with Michael Alec, who if you’re familiar with that scene was sort of Project X, New York club scene, Rupaul, her name was Allison, she used to live with the Butthole Surfers and Rupaul at the same time in Atlanta, and she was also an accomplished artist and got involved in the club scene, with Michael Alec who is in jail now for murder, and Keoki and Dimitri and Toatoa from Deelite were the DJ’s at her parties.
datacide: When was that?
deadly buda: That’s like mid-to-late 80’s, early 90’s, that’s when she was doing things. So we started going out, I was fascinated with the whole idea of making the space… She took club promotion from a very artistic perspective. They would do parties where they would fill the whole entire room with garbage and they’d have chickens in shopping carts and people pushing them around. They’s do flyers, I’ve got a flyer that’s a flexi disc from the Tunnel, it’s her, Larry T, and Keoki and others doing an actually quite industrial piece, that was the invitation to the party. So I kind of got into the whole idea of the party as an experience or art form. I was doing flyers for clubs and promotion, doing a party here and there. Then that kinda panned out. I actually got quite disgusted with the scene as how it developed, it was all about guest list, very stuck up and elitist. I got less and less interested in it and got more involved in just art and drugs. And art and drugs. Stuff like that.
Then I had known Controlled Weirdness, when I was living in New York he lived next door, this was before the rave thing even happened, I suppose Acid House was in its heyday in Europe; we lived next to each other and we went down on a trip to New Orleans and found we had a lot of common interests and stuff. Then I moved to London in about ‘90 and was actually living with Neil in Finsbury Park, where at the George Robie they had Club Dog it was called at the time I believe. So we went down there and thought that was pretty cool. Then I moved back from London, but Neil kept sending me tapes and said there were these raves starting, I thought that’s kinda interesting, then I went to San Francisco to visit a friend, and Mondo 2000 decided to do a rave and I was really into it, and I also thought I’ve done every single aspect of it before, I needed a job and wanted to do something creative. And I went ‘Hey Neil, why don’t we do our own raves in Pittsburgh’ and I’ll buy you a ticket, just bring over your records. So he came with his records, we were both living at my parents house and started doing the raves. He wanted to be just DJ Neil when he came over but he had this theory or had written a story of Controlled Weirdness, I forget what it was, and I was ‘If I’m going to be Deadly Buda, you’ll have to be Controlled Weirdness.’ He was ‘I’d rather just be DJ Neil’, but I forced the issue and put Controlled Weirdness on the flyer anyway, so that’s his name ever since then and that’s how we started doing the parties with all the records he’d collected in England, all the white labels, early breakbeat stuff. I already had turntables, and connections to get the parties started, a lot of people knew me in town from doing graffiti. That’s how we started doing the raves. This is ‘91/’92.
datacide: And how did it develop in the states from then on?
deadly buda: It was really kind of strange you know. There was this definite idea of imitating England doing the parties. What we found ourselves up against basically commercial exposure, we’d do some really good parties, some really cool parties, we had a lot of underground music, white labels, it was a very cool thing, but then people would hear about what we were doing but by ways of the media talking about, say, N-Joi and Altern8, and they’d expect us to have those huge 20’000 people raves. So this exposure hurt because people would expect something, or expect music we were far beyond and not really interested in. I think that was kind of standard in a lot of different cities. When me and Neil were doing stuff we were pulling as many people as they did in New York, and I think it was just the force of economy of the larger cities and coastal cities that they really took off, and smaller places like Pittsburgh kind of just levelled out. And we had a problem with alcohol laws too, you have to be 21 to drink in America, so everyone would go to the raves until they were 21 and we’d lose that aspect of the crowd. It’s been a struggling development really, it kept going and increasing, every year they would have articles about raves like it was the newest thing, and then next week they’d be “Rave is dead, it’s so old”. And this has been going on for like 8 years.
datacide: It’s not very well known here that there was a rave scene in the States, maybe except the east coast and California. It seems like that mainly in the early 90’s the strong influence of Underground Resistance was felt in Europe while they seemed to be isolated in the States. So there was a rave scene all over the continent?
deadly buda: Oh yeah, every city had raves going on. In Pittsburh which is a small city it was fortunate, obviously we had the advantage of having me and Controlled Weirdness in the same place, at the same time, having enough vision to do a lot of interesting things. In some cities you’d have those ‘raves’ at the only gay club in town. It was a struggle to get the music. Watts hadn’t made a lot of inroads into your smaller cities, they were primarily dealing with the East Coast, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Washington DC, all these cities are extremely close together. If you promote a party in Baltimore or any of the cities just mentioned, you have the whole entire coast to draw from. We were getting significant numbers in Pittsburgh where the only other close town is Cleveland, or perhaps you could count Buffalo which is 4 hours away. Everything’s pretty much 4 hours away. We were drawing people with no prior knowledge, we weren’t just introducing them to raves, we were introducing them to dance music, period.
Now on the West Coast and Florida you always had bigger raves, the rave scene started in Los Angeles and San Francisco and was going strong I think at the same time if not before New York.
datacide: Have those different scenes developed different styles?
deadly buda: Of course. Hardcore was very big and Detroit influenced just about everywhere but the West Coast and perhaps Florida. LA was more into club records and San Francisco eventually developed their own sound, a more hippier, that would eventually turn to Goa, or kinda tribal breakbeat sound. The Midwest, courtesy of Drop Bass embraced hardcore initially. There was always a mish mash of styles on the East Coast really, which I thought was very cool. Until it started getting very very housey. Florida as far as I can remember they got everything being such a tourist place; but they were getting cutting edge stuff also, but it was definitely more commercial, but they never as far as I can tell developed their own sound, you know, you have to give it to San Francisco whether you like the sound or not, the Hardkiss sound, whatever, that they developed their own sound. From LA came ExisDance they were a great label. I lost sort of touch with that whole side of things but I’m sure they’re still putting out great records. Detroit and Chicago they had their own sound that was predated the rave culture. The rave culture there initially didn’t use the home grown talent they were more familiar with people from England than with people in their own backyard. Now it’s not so much like that, there were enough people who went, hey there in your own backyard. That D-Jax, Dearborn, Robert Armani, Mike Dunn sorta thing, that new-old D-Jax sound is still big and Acid caught on quite well. So…
Does that answer the question?
datacide: Yeah. That’s the history. What’s the situation like now? 1997?
deadly buda: ‘97 – it’s really quite an interesting time now. We’ll get to hardcore later, but I guess in the general sense of things, with all the major labels now embracing techno, we have a situation now more like the early 90’s/mid-90’s in Europe and England, essentially major labels breaking the ground in stores etc, so now it’s more feasible to do your own small label. And more people are doing their own labels all the time, even in a town like Boulder that only has 100’000 people there’s like 5 record labels starting up. And this is happening all over the place, this do-it-yourself thing is very big and the distribution channels are opening up more and more, everyone wants to be adistributor now. Every town has a couple of shops, even small towns have their shops, so that’s really opening up. There’s more styles coming in. The scene’s fragmented to the point where you have all House parties or all Trance parties blablablabla, you have huge raves going on, I think every major city has one every weekend, with anywhere from 500-5’000 people. That’s very good. All the genres are getting more influx, there’s more money in the scene now, I’d say it’s actually a pretty exciting time thankfully just before the year 2’000 we’ll probably see some really big parties.
datacide: How would you describe your DJing style?
deadly buda: Kinda high tech Hip Hop Disco hybrid, in the back of my mind I have this bizarre phantasy of DJing in a bubble in the future, huge speakers everywhere, crowds getting hit with sonic destruction or something. Kind of a Hip Hop style. I don’t scratch as much as I used to, which some people might say is a good thing, but I’d like to more. I try to do a lot of cuts, a lot of beatmatching cuts, then mix in things people wouldn’t normally expect. I never try to do all one style of music, I always try to mix on half beats, through different styles, I never keep it on one steady rhythm, usually keep a solid vibe going, even though I just dropped maybe 40 BPM, that at any one time it still generally flows. When I started DJing samplers really weren’t that… they were there but they were very low key, so you still had to cut in the weird bits… the Hip Hop idea of having one chunk of a record being worth anything and stringing together all the chunks. Influenced by the early Hip Hop DJ’s, just mixing the break or whatever. The guy who taught me how to DJ is a Disco DJ. The idea of the beatmatching hypnosis was also relevant, so usually the sets would start out with that kind of hypnosis but only like, then start cutting it and breaking it down from there, and when that gets boring throwing in the weird sample records. To give sort of an idea of the future. That idea of creating pictures in people’s heads with little bits on top, and making it groove, people are imitating that sort of style but don’t understand how to make it flow, even sometimes I get frustrated, it gets too hard, not the music but the actual process of mixing gets too complex, and I fuck it up but that thankfully happens less and less. Indian tribal rhythms beatmatching them with techno. And that’s why I think the actual DJ format is still more relevant than playing live PA’s, I know that’s a very unpopular viewpoint right now, but I think as an instrument the turntables are still a more advanced idea than the synthesiser really. You’re playing all types of different things from other people that aren’t your own, a more communal vibe, but you’re also piecing together pieces of time. It’s the only medium where you can play time. While you’re playing an synthesiser like you play guitar in a live PA. I see myself as playing time, I see the turntables as the instruments.
datacide: Talking about labels – you started producing stuff a while ago, one release on Praxis, one release on Fukem, and recently you released the first record on your own label Deadly Systems. What’s the aesthetics, aims and style of Deadly Systems?
deadly buda: The ball started rolling I’d say with Communique and Praxis which were the first labels to put out any of my stuff. All the way back in Alien Underground 0.0 I wrote an article called Morph Beat, which essentially was taking the idea that a lot of the industrial people had had, this sort of current that was underlying a lot of dance music and early Hip Hop of taking sounds and making them the instrumentation rather than taking presets, like you have your 303 and your 808 or your guitars or synths, whatever, while on the other hand you make the found sounds actually the instrumentation, and making it into a legitimately groovy thing. That was the problem with a lot of the earlier music, with the exception of maybe early hip hop, they’d take the sounds and it’d be cool, but they wouldn’t exactly make a groovy track or something. You know “oh, that’s interesting, that’s a cool idea”. Making this idea legitimate, a vibe or something, something that your body could get into as well as your head, making pictures in dancers heads or whatever, creating an environment. Making the rave itself its own environment.
With Deadly Systems – I always played fairly aggressively, fluctuated between really silly and quirky tracks and then just pure white noise aggression sort of stuff. So the Deadly Systems sound is kindof that Morph Beat sound, but definitely more with the flanged out, effects laden kind of early PCP influenced sound. We want to do some sub labels and stuff that are much more quirky and silly tracks and stuff, but Deadly Systems in itself is dedicated to more sort of innovative aggression, that’s the best way to describe it I guess.
datacide: How have the reactions been to the first release?
deadly buda: Generally with Deadly Systems it’s been almost 100% positive. Of course when people talk to you they rarely go “ah, that’s shit”, you know what I mean, but generally the sales and the interest and reviews have been positive in America and in Europe. I think it outsold a lot of Hardcore that comes in, I think it’s probably been one of the best selling hardcore records in America, in the last couple of years anyway. Despite having no real push whatsoever.
datacide: And Europe, what’s your connections, reactions, feedback? You’ve been over here a few times… Who do you connect with?
deadly buda: Pretty much the 2 people sitting here on the table, Praxis, datacide, Unearthly… A lot of decisions of what to do next I base on the sort of feedback… essentially you two! [laughs] I mean everything is sort of made on my personal taste, and it’s really cool that it still resonates over in Europe and stuff.
datacide: And in terms of releases you pick up from here?
deadly buda: I think the potential in America is there as soon as the channels of distribution are sorted out, the harder quirkier sound is the thing I think America will pick up on the most really. It’s kinda really exciting that I have a mainline to the most exciting things, and actually to tell you the truth the most commercially feasible stuff the industry left over because they do everything by the numbers than actually listening to… When you hear a good track, you hear a good track, and you’re not the only one to hear it, whether it’s Country music, whether it’s Salsa, whether it’s Techno, whatever… A good track is a good track, and it’s gonna resonate with people. And not go with the thing that you just know sounds well, and just go by the book and by the numbers and try to imitate that, I think is just a total symptom of the music industry in America and really leaves the door wide open for someone like me who goes on feeling and and sees at a party what people like. And I’m sure that the stuff for example covered in datacide is just what the average American consumer is just starving for and wants.
datacide: One really important aspect of the scene here has been free parties and teknivals, underground distribution networks bypassing the more commercial set ups. Is there such a thing in North America and how is that developing?
deadly buda: Basically as I said everyone wants to be a distributor now and there’s a couple of people, there’s Syntax now which is an outgrowth of Watts Music, a couple of people who used to work for Watts who were dissatisfied with the distribution of the underground music, basically quit them and started their own distributorship. It will be interesting to see if Syntax just sucks everything up or if there’s going to be like 3 or 4 distributors, how that’s going to work out. Actually you know I don’t really have many complaints about Watts, I always had successful dealings with them. Because of all these people distributing they’re going to be forced to carry it themselves and to continue pushing it and promoting it no matter how much they kick and scream about it. I can kinda see that the major players carrying it will probably squeeze out everybody but Syntax, perhaps one or two others.
datacide: And in terms of free parties and festivals?
deadly buda: Those are developing, those are popular all over the place. Not that big. There’s a couple of the Spiral people have been coming over in the last couple of years with limited success, but I’d say they had dramatic success in exposing the idea, just getting it out there. I think the free party scene will continually blow up, get bigger and bigger. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s no more parties with a cover charge, that’s a very real possibility in the next 2 years. Once there’s enough ravers you’re gonna be forced to have a free party but still huge production values, and when you start charging more than $10 or whatever there’s gonna be about 3 people who will take advantage of it for their own means. The winter’s going to be a different story I’d imagine because you actually need a space to be in. In the winter you won’t see that many free parties unless you have a very understanding landlord or whatever. I see the summer perpetually freeer and bigger, and the winter having a lot of cheap $5 parties.
datacide: There’s a strong sort of political undercurrent in the techno underground scene particularly in this country. Is that happening in America or is it seen more on the level of an artform, or on a more hedonistic level?
deadly buda: I would say that the political current is non-existant in America with few exceptions, and those are very small. But strangely enough when me and Neil were doing things, just about everyone had some sort of like either political or new agey hippy dippy, some kind of weird vibe that it was somehow important to the whole entire earth.That got drummed out from the commercial aspect of it, the clubs taking over. But I can see that coming back. The general raver is dissatisfied. Basically you can take drugs anywhere and listen to music, so believe it or not it will be a selling point. Politics will become very chic, the idea that it’s bigger than what it initially seems to be will be very important. I’m really looking forward to that too. I think it lends more enjoyment and is more important to the person going when they feel that they’re involved with something that is cutting edge, something that gives them hope for the future, that inspires them to do something better themselves. I think that will become very important. Things that don’t involve that will just be taking the piss, having a party has its place too, but right now the whole thing, American parties are essentially just devoid of thought, and that’s a shame, but I think that’s changing, and I’ll be taking definite steps to change that. It’s good that say, even though that’s bad to admit right now, DHR with their simple “Go out and riot bla bla bla” at least somehow introducing the concept in some shape or form, which I think is at least a start. I could see something interesting developing that way.
datacide: On another level, how do you think other media than music will come in effect? You talk about the rave as a total experience.
deadly buda: The way I’d really like to see it develop personally is… I mean I’m totally into vinyl etc but I think as a medium it’s totally limited to sound, and I’d like to see some sort of digital media, that comprises not only audio but also visuals, lighting triggers, I’d like to see holography getting more in touch with the scene. So if you buy a disc or a cartrige or whatever it not only has the sound but a bank of lighting effects, so visuals go straight together with audio, so you could essentially be mixing environments. So I want a moonscape with a Pterodachtyl flying across it and then you have another cartrige with little stars strobing out and falling all over the place and trees sprouting randomly throughout the party, creating an environment that never existed in any shape or form, complete dreamscapes but actually due to the holography and lighting it’s possible. At the same time using it for political forms and artistic creative forms. You know when they had these sensors when the crowd claps, the applause meter gaging the reaction to say the temperature inside the room or the noise the actual crowd’s making, picking that up and having it actually effect the environmental discs or programs you’re using. Using it to do voter drives, get people to vote, having literature that they can take home, unveiling points about certain subjects, whether it’s legalising drugs, discrimination, getting people to work for a fair wage, that’s one thing I feel strongly about is the organisation of world wide labour unions to combat the world wide corporations. I mean they are affiliated, so the workers themselves should be affiliated across country lines. That’s one of the things I want to involve with things that I do. Also the political ramifications of the advent of more and more technology and such.
There’s one thing I feel fairly strongly about, it’s kind of a cheeseball concept, the theory of unity in the scene. I don’t think it helps anyone anywhere if people are prejudiced against different styles of music whatever they may be, and the hardcore scene is probably more prejudiced against any other music as far as I can tell in the raves. There’s a kneejerk reaction saying this is shit and that’s shit, and in some cases yeah, in every style of music there is a lot of shit, and then there’s the great tracks of course, but you get the Trance rig not allowing anything but Trance, Jungle rigs allowing nothing but Jungle, I think this is a bad trend that should not go on any longer, the styles of music should be varied and be open, new people doing innovations, younger people… Even within the general hardcore scene it’s very depressing, the infighting among people, and that should stop. It does no good for anyone to be pointing fingers and blaming such and such for this and that. Sure you disagree about things, but I don’t think it should halt the process. It’s trying to get people out to have a good time and enjoy each other’s company; the battle for “I will be king of the free party, I will be king of the democracy” whatever is a really bad trend that is happening more and more. It has happened since the beginning of the scene despite all the calls for unity, it’s amazing to me that things have stayed this together this long. People should remember that the thing is trying to get people to be creative and get into artwork and music, that they feel that they naturally want to give out, having the avenue to do it. The infighting does a lot to destroy that sometimes. If you wanna fight against anyone, fight against the major corporations. Use them as the enemy, not each other.