Brian Holbrook has been a consistent presence in the North Texas DJ community as admin for the DFW electronic calendar, party promoter and versatile DJ under the name Dreadnaught. After playing out as a solo DJ for many years, he recently embarked on a partnership with fellow scene vet Michael Todd under the name DMT. For this week's mixtape, Holbrook brings an hour and a half of four on the floor dance music tapping a variety of techno sub-genres that he expertly wove together.
Dallas Observer: It’s been over two years since you did a mixtape for us. What has been going on in your DJ life?
Dreadnaught: I have been fortunate enough to play for quite a few different promoters in that time, in addition to a few of our own parties — it's a treat, being able to play and not be responsible for an entire event. We have limited ourselves to only promoting a few events each year as there are quite a few things going on in town. This spring we hosted ENDO at Red Light Lounge, now The Nines, and it was definitely exciting to open for and spend time with one of the most tech savvy figures in the dance music industry. The experience kind of inspired me to delve more deeply into the MIDI world and test different gear arrangements. Additionally, I’ve started officially playing tag sets with my good friend Michael Todd under the moniker DMT. We have found ourselves playing together quite often but had never really tried branding ourselves as a duo until this year.
How was this mix made? Is there a particular theme for the track selection?
This mix was recorded with a Native Instruments Z2 Mixer, an X1 controller and a custom-mapped machine controller for effects and four-deck functionality. I tried to pull down a broad range of sounds from tracks I recently listened to and programmed a building journey. The first half of the mix is somewhat atmospheric and foggy but drifts back and forth into more pulsing and driving energy. The final half of the mix is a bit heavier and ultimately closes out on a bright note. Overall, I tried to put together something that someone could listen to and feel like they are part of a journey listening to it.
Where do you like to dig for tracks?
For me it is just a matter of constant listening. I have a couple site streams where I listen to snips of tracks nonstop and mark down any that catch my interest. I also listen for great tracks in recorded mixes from DJs I follow. The challenge these days isn’t identifying the tracks, but sorting through all the material that is out there.
What new producers have been getting you excited?
Third Son is a UK producer who has been consistently releasing some of my favorite tracks lately. Mattia Pompeo is another guy putting out some exciting music. Victor Ruiz, Maceo Plex and Nick Devon are still my favorite producers though, so I always keep an eye out for anything they release.
What is your relationship with techno?
It is one of my favorite genres and usually works its way into my sets at some point or another. Categorically speaking, the term covers a fairly wide range of sub-genres and to me the basis of all electronic music is experimentation — so I try to not fall into the trap of debating what is and what isn’t techno. I tend to like heavier, darker music with more driving rhythms. My favorite sets tend to blend techno, driving tech house and dark electronica with a splash of other sounds.
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Have you been producing your own music?
As a hobby, I’ve been spending a bit more time with my production software — Reaper primarily. I haven’t tried to release anything, but am enjoying the creative process there. I expect this is something I will focus on more in the future. I have used music composition and notation software since I was in high school for things like score arrangements and transpositions, so I think I will have an interesting take on sounds when I finally start sharing material. I envision incorporating many non-genre typical synths and samples — orchestral, instrumental themes — over more percussive electronic rhythms.
What is your take on party promotion in Dallas?
Like anywhere else, promoting parties is very challenging for a variety of reasons. I’ve seen a few DJs and promoters get discouraged and start pointing fingers at the scene for [poor] event turnout. Party promotion is a challenge wherever you are, and takes an immense amount of work, effort and financial investment to do properly. Successful events are a combination of the right venue, engaging music, quality sound and proximity to people. There are many talented DJs in town who can provide great music, but covering the rest is more challenging. There are only so many venues in town that are open to more genre-focused music nights and many of those are destination type locations. With a destination party the promoter has to bring virtually the entire crowd and rely heavily on friends. One of the nicest things I have found in Dallas is how close knit and friendly the scene is, but that means that most of the promoters and DJs have the same friends. This means there are regularly quite a few events competing with one another for the same pool of people. The scene in Dallas is special, but small compared to what I’ve encountered in other big cities and these people are fortunate to have multiple options for quality music most weekends.
What gigs do you have coming up?
Our big annual New Year's Eve party this Saturday is my next gig playing out and is the only thing I have immediately on the books. This will be our fourth edition of the party and we are hoping it ends up as exciting as the last ones. In addition to the club parties, I still play a select number of private events each year and have a few of those on the calendar.
Sid Le Rock - "Dayglo (Nicone Remix)"
Icarus - "Hiding"
Glenn Morrison - "Into the Deep (Ewan Pearson Remix)"
Moby - "Rage"
Haptic, Riesen - "Rage"
Third Son - "Film Score"
The White Shadow - "Goodbye"
Robin South - "I Need You (Trent Cantrelle Remix)"
Kidnap Kid - "Brokenhearted (Timo Mass & James Teej Remix)"
Nicone, SIS - "Cause I Want You (SIS Remix)"
Oxia - "Secret"
KatrinKa feat. Thomas Gandey - "The Nameless One (Dan Grassler Edition)"
Storehouse - "Dance by You"
Touchtalk - "Creeping"
Kellerkind - "Subzero"
Rancido - "Redemption"
Kurt Baggaley - "Winterland (Petar Dundov Edition)"
Mallone - "Maelstrom (Binaryh Remix)"
WhoMadeWho, Jepp, Jacob Bellens - "Hi & Low (Macropsia Remix)"
Bambook & Orduna - "Paloma (Quina Remix)"
Squire - "Fly Gang"
Julio Roger - "Aftermath"
Olivier Giacomotto - "Le Cap Amendad"
Linear Straight - "Tunnel Vision (Black Asteroid Remix)"
German Brigante - "Next Level feat. Nick Maurer"
Absence of Light - "Judgement Day"
Alcazar - "The Case"
Yves Eaux, Melvin Spix - "Toxic Sunrise (Extended Mix)"
Charles Fenckler - "Stellar Acid"
Maceo Plex - "Love on Time"
Quiver - "Lights Down (Part 1)"
AFFKT - "Between Us (Dave Seaman Remix)"
Chinaski - "Ghost Rider"
Denis Horvat - "Rondo"
Scalameriya - "Geargrind"
Scalameriya - "Annex No. 3"
Stockholm Syndrome, Otheo - "Zombie (Otheo Remix)"
DEAS - "Touch & Feel"
Just Her & Mattia Pompeo - "Burned"
Cubicolor, Lindstrom, Prins Thomas - "Fictionalise (Lindstrom & Prins Thomas Remix)"
Kellerkind feat. Sven - "Shalti Pan"
Victor Ruiz - "Nevermind (Oliver Huntemann Remix)"
Prins Thomas - "H (The Orb Heaven Or Hell Remix)"
Paul Roux - "Black Swan"
Alan Hash - "Skyscraper"
Roland Clark & Ant LaRock - "The Party Life (Kaiser Souzai Remix)"
Darko Milosevic- "Siddartha"
Henry Saiz, Eloy - "For Days And Nights Feat. Eloy (Shall Ocin Dub Mix)"
Jamie Principle, Pete Tong - "Your Love (Kaisch Remix Extended)"