Sean Humphrey isn't old school, but he's not exactly a spring chicken, either. He got his start playing in bands but in recent years has embraced the life of a working DJ. Humphrey operates under the alias Redsean, playing in Uptown most weekends.
Humphrey is also active as a musician and a producer. Lately he's been drawn to modular synths, which are the foundation of his new project, Uptown Goths. Despite the name, there's not much that's goth about it – but there are definitely a lot of synthesizers.
His eclectic mix for the Observer this week, which includes artists as diverse as Kaytranada and Maceo Plex, is a good representation of what you'll hear him play.
Dallas Observer: How did you get started deejaying?
Redsean: I started in 2007 after seeing a lot of people I now call friends having fun doing it. I got a weekly party at Fallout Lounge called Disqo Disco with my synth pop band at the time, and it just grew from there.
How was this mix made? Is there a particular theme for the track selection?
This is the first mix I've ever made in Ableton. The general theme is descent, and it's all pretty moody — but playfully mischievous in a way as well. I wanted it to emulate the feeling of getting all the way to the bottom so you can pick yourself back up again. There are a lot of different versions of that for different people.
How did you get started making music?
I got my first guitar when I was 7 but only held up with lessons for about half a year. When I started playing French horn in school, I reignited the music spark and taught myself the rest of what I know on guitar and drums. I was also jumping into FL Studio around ninth or 10th grade.
What led you to the world of modular synthesis?
I bought my first hardware synth – Juno 60 – in 2005 and instantly fell in love with such a tangible piece of magic. As I learned more about synthesis, I wanted to have more control over my sounds. It was another instance of seeing friends around me dabble in it, and I spent three years researching and teaching myself about the signal paths before I finally dropped a chunk of change on my first case alone. It's been an expensive but rewarding journey since.
How did your Uptown Goths project come about?
It was originally more of an exercise for me in playing live again. I've been mostly just deejaying in the last seven to eight years, and playing live was something I really missed doing. I was given the opportunity by Brandy at WAAS Gallery to share it in a live but more artistic setting for the first show. I've only had about five shows over two years because every time I have some sort of problem that makes me rethink my setup. I plan on being ready for a new round of shows this summer.
Who have you been collaborating with over the past few years?
I mostly work with Mario Miller under Ghost Image, but there have been a few unfinished project ideas floating around I want to get back to at some point soon.
Where do you like to dig for tracks?
I listen to mixtapes by DJs I like and end up going down a rabbit hole of finding more tracks by an artist in the track list or the label they're on. Every now and then, I still use the "Related Videos" section on YouTube as well, and sometimes friends send me tracks or tell me to check something out. I always like to research new musical interests to get a broader understanding of their vision and scene.
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Do you have a preference between performing live, producing and deejaying?
Like I said, I missed playing live for a while, and once I get a sustainable way to have more shows, I should be balanced out. I deejay for a living, and I love it, but writing/producing and then performing my own music live is my ultimate goal and love.
What non-dance music has been catching your ears lately?
I recently went on a music video binge session of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, and I enjoyed them. I listen to the Strokes a lot ... and older stuff like ELO, Bryan Ferry and Bowie is the all-time favorite, etc. I should probably check more newer rock bands out, to be honest.
Is there a track that you always come back to as a DJ?
I'd say that is seasonal for me. I latch onto certain songs sometimes, and even while deejaying can't get them out of my head. Recently, "Automaton" by Jamiroquai and "Lyke Dis" by NxWorries have been those tunes for me. Overall, I also love getting to play "Glow of Love" by Change and "Down In It" by Nine Inch Nails whenever I have the chance.
Virginia – "Subdued Colors"
Body Language – "Martyr"
Kaytranada – "Breakdance Lesson N.1"
Isaac Tichauer – "Street Lessons (Hackman Remix)"
Mike Simonetti – "Release Your Body to the Best"
Factory Floor – "Upper Left"
Audion – "Timewarp"
Maceo Plex – "Mirror Me (feat. C.A.R.) [Dark Dub]"
Autofac – "Souls on Ice"
Jonas Rathsman – "Wolfsbane"
Bastian Bux – "Tempus Fugit"
Harry Judda – "Machines"
Nine Inch Nails – "Slipping Away Into The Void (Hunter Vaughan Remix)"
Blawan – "Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage"
Pilo – "Ghettocoder"
Destructo – "4 Real (Chris Lorenzo Remix)"
Jubilee – "Jealous"
UK Jonah – "Move Your Body"
Gorillaz – "Andromeda (feat. D.R.A.M.) [Bonobo Remix]"