After a lengthy hospital stay sidelined Dallas music scene fixture Wanz Dover, he just didn’t have the strength for rock ’n’ roll. Rest ridden and restless, he turned his attention to more solitary musical pursuits, releasing Music for Hospitals soon after his release from the hospital.
Now, a little over a year from his near-death experience, he's resurrected his Blixaboy alias, dormant for two years, with a new electro album, Humanoid X. The record is being released through Sheffield, U.K.-based label Central Processing Unit, which he calls “a real boutique label.”
“I started the process in early 2014 and I finished it in late 2015, right after I got out of the hospital when I was stuck at home, but it didn’t take a year [to finish the album],” Dover says.
Humanoid X is Dover’s fifth release under the Blixaboy banner and his first record to get a vinyl pressing — and Dover doesn't take the opportunity for granted. Last September, having fallen seriously ill, he went to the emergency room and quickly underwent emergency surgery. Doctors told me he wouldn't have survived if he'd waited even another day. But there was a silver lining: Music for Hospitals, much to his surprise, became the best-selling album of his career so far.
“I’ve been doing music professionally for almost 25 years, and this is kind of the moment I’ve been waiting for for 25 years, so better late than never,” Dover says with a laugh, of the opportunity to have Humanoid X released on vinyl. “Putting out a record on CPU will kick a lot of doors open for me on other labels. … I’m on my way.”
The lead track, “Artic,” feels like a young Rick Deckard’s workout theme, with soaring synths and snapping snares bleeding into a layer cake of bass beats. “The Last Droid,” another track featured on the DJ-centric vinyl release furthers the album’s “cyberpunk movie soundtrack” vibe, with a final-boss bass line laid against a sorrowful structure of violin synths and a wash of waning reverb.
The album is pure electro, a genre not often given mainstream love on this side of the Atlantic, despite the electro and techno scenes' domestic origins in places like Detroit and New York. Dover admits he’s not expecting the local scene to break down the doors at his release gig Sept. 24, at The Nines (formerly Red Light Lounge), even though the line-up could easily draw thousands outside of the U.S.
“This bill that we’re doing right now, with 214, Convextion and me, in Europe, would be sold out in most places,” Dover says. “People here don’t even realize what we are trying to bring here and what we’re trying to make happen here.” Gerard Hanson, aka Convextion, is a reclusive Dallas native who rarely plays in his home town, opting to ply his craft to much larger crowds. He recently released his first album in a decade; the previous had been named one of the 10 best of the 2000s by FACT magazine.
“[Convextion] is very well respected, but in Dallas he can’t get more than 15 people to go see him,” Dover says. “Even though the music started here in the U.S., it really blew up in Europe and also in South America and even in Mexico. A lot of these same guys who can barely get 100 people into a venue here go play in front of two to three thousand people in Mexico and more than that in Europe.”
You could think of techno as the soccer of music genres, but Dover says calling it underground belies that more than 100,000 people flock to Detroit’s Movement Electronic Music Festival, almost yearly. Festival headliners often play Convextion tracks at the show and Flower Mound’s Eric Estornel aka Maceo Plex was one of the headliners at this year’s iteration of the festival. In 2015, Maceo Plex was the No. 2 DJ in the world, according to online electronic music magazine Resident Advisor.
“Dallas has a bad habit of not paying attention to its hometown producer talent while that talent ends up turning heads in other parts of the world. I kind of doubt I will have much impact here,” Dover says. “My main goal is to get releases out so I can play outside of Texas and eventually overseas into Europe. Much like Cygnus is about to do, Convextion has been doing for years and Maceo Plex who did it until he eventually just moved to Europe.”
While Dover says house music has always been more popular, in Dallas, techno/electro has been finding a new audience in the local scene amongst the metal, noise and experimental scene. And with a show featuring big European acts like 214 and Convextion, Dover’s release gig might be a good chance for Dallas beat heads to broaden their electronic music horizons and move past their EDM comfort zone. Or they could wait for the next Black Dotz (the band that Dover fronts) show to pop off.
“At the end of the day, the main reason why I make records is so I can make records for my listening collection that don’t really exist,” Dover says. “If a few people catch on here, cool. But honestly one of the number one reasons I still play in a rock band is because I enjoy it and that’s something that people here actually get into.”
BLIXABOY performs with 214 and Convextion at 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at The Nines.