Dallas Observer Mixtape: 2017 Dallas Dance Music, Part 1

Audiophile's Jimmy Freer (left)
Audiophile's Jimmy Freer (left) Wanz Dover
Last year, Dallas' underground DJ culture burst at its seams. Audiophile is just one local label that continued to expand its empire through sublabels Audiophile Deep and Audiophile XXL, making its catalogue one of the largest and fasted growing in Dallas. While Audiophile represents producers from all over the world, it put plenty of shine on Dallas talent, such as Red Eye, Buala, Isenberg and Demarkus Lewis, this year.

Dallas is putting itself on the map for dance music. Maceo Plex no longer lives here, but he's now one of the most successful DJs in the world. (He had a residency in Ibiza last summer.) He made a rare low-key appearance before Christmas at Beauty Bar, which was packed for a Wednesday night bill of Convextion and Vectorvision.

Despite the growing number of Dallas DJs flocking to techno, the tremendous output of house music from Dallas producers confirms that house, whether straight up or tech house, is still on top of the dog pile as far as dance music goes in this city. For this week's Q&A, Ryan Butler from Dallas house label Flunked Records and Jimmy Freer from Audiophile give us some insight into what made their labels tick in 2017.


How did Audiophile fit in the Dallas scene in 2017?
Honestly, 2017 was a year we really wanted to bring more locals onboard. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing guys work really hard to get onto the label and finally sending us a track where we are like, “Yes. This is it."

I really had my doubts the past few years on the depth of our local roster growing and our label artist-only events going well, but I have been proven wrong time and time again. This is only really the beginning of what we want to accomplish around here; grooming more local artists is something that all the label managers are trying to accomplish for 2018.

What kind of chart success did the label experience this year?
It’s been a pretty paramount year for us as we hit the top 100 [on] South Africa’s overall charts earlier this year, a national chart first for us. As far as charting success on Beatport, it’s also been an incredible year for us. We’ve seen 20-plus top 10 releases this year, and it’s something that we only see picking up going into 2018.

What were Audiophile's biggest moments in 2017?
Oh man, so many things right now. First off, we recently launched our Audiophile Records label, which is going to focus on the more classic/funky style of house music, with Demarkus Lewis kicking that off. We also decided to retire the original label Audiophile Live and rebrand it to Eukaryota to keep Audiophile a more underground brand, something we had been thinking about doing for a while.

The Audiophile XXL undercover tour was also a real eye-opener for us as a measure of how we are doing outside of Dallas. We also launched our brand-new website, which will encompass a lot more than just our music.

What is new for Audiophile in 2018?
SXSW events, Miami Music Week showcases, some interesting local concept showcases, really kicking things up. 2018 will focus a lot more on the talent we already have instead of a lot of random acts. We also plan to really build out our website more with some really interesting and community-friendly features.

What is your take on the state of electronic music in Dallas?
It has its pros and cons. I feel like the crowd in Dallas is getting a lot more educated to house and techno by the day and leaving EDM behind. For this I am grateful because for years I thought we were stuck in a rut of terrible bass music.

I feel the biggest issue with Dallas is that people are too busy looking over their shoulder, seeing what others are doing, instead of trying to come up with their own concept and vision. It’ll Do, Beauty Bar, Proton are the ones to look to regarding where uniqueness can take you.

Whenever you walk into a project that you’re going to put countless hours into, you need a game plan and a way to differentiate yourself, either that or you’re just one of the weeds out in the field of many.


How did Flunked Records fit in the Dallas scene in 2017?
Aside from a good portion of our artists being based out of Dallas, we had our hands in a few events and collaborated with fellow Dallas-based companies like EDM DFW. Our artists have also either guest mixed or had their tracks played on local podcasts like Electric Retox, AFTRLIFE and Festicast.

How often do your artists play?
Our artists playing out varies. We can have back-to-back weekends booked or go a few months without really anything. It's just how the scene rolls. Our artists do a lot of B2Bs with each other. Teamwork/team-building is a big thing we really try to focus on in Flunked, so you'll normally see our artists on the same lineup.

What is new for Flunked Records in 2018?
A few of the goals we have for this new year are to host more events/takeovers, sign multiple Dallas native house producers and keep our release schedule on track. We've recently welcomed a Denton native, Calico Jak, into the Flunked Family, and he will be releasing his new track with us in February. We're really excited to push so many of our North Texas locals.

What is your take on the state of electronic music in Dallas?
Our take on the state of it here in Dallas is that there are a ton of amazing artists that have not necessarily gotten the shine they should be getting. We plan on doing our best to help get some more spotlight on these artists.

But besides that, Dallas has a great nightlife scene. We have some of the best clubs and music venues in the world right here in our own city: It'll Do, StereoLive, Lizard Lounge, Bomb Factory and many more. We are never short of some of the biggest names coming to town, either.

Plus having two huge festivals, Lights All Night and Something Wonderful, you just can't ask for more. I'm really excited to see who gets announced that they're coming to Triple D this year.

Track List:
Hands Free — "25 Hours"
Onium — Held "Tight"
Red Eye and Jesse Rose — "Insisting on Existing"
Demarkus Lewis — "Monika Chords"
Sammma Lone — "I Know"
Eric Smith — "Last Love"
Triptique — "Inner Malfunction"
Maceo Plex — "Motor Rotor"
Clean Batch — "Misery"
Brett Johnson — "Mr Johnson’s Talk’n Now (Luke’s Video Games Rework)"
Aaron Hensley — "Island Dreams"
Buala — "Initializing Dreams"
Demarkus Lewis feat. Martha Washington — "Catch The Light (Time To Extend mix)"
LittleHuman — "Moving and Using (Original Mix)"
Closed Caption — "Kontrol ft. Pass The 40"
Niteski — "I Know You feat. Astro"
Reckless Ryan — "Doing Pills"
Isenberg — "Hands Up"
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Wanz Dover
Contact: Wanz Dover