In a scene dominated by diggers, dealers and the self-indulgently eclectic, it can be inspiring to come across an artist who above all, just wants to make it bang. Justin Cudmore has been immersed in music since his early teens, making an impact in both Chicago, where he studied and progressed to work for the sadly defunct, once influential dance music site, Little White Earbuds, to his current tenure in New York, where he’s a regular at rave institution The Bunker, and further afield across the USA’s rapidly expanding, socially vital queer party scene.
Cudmore is flawless when it comes to bringing a party to boil with energy, showcasing a natural education in dance music’s history, and a party-friendly sound that has an infectious of timeless futurism about it. This is best heard in his records for Honey Soundsystem, Interdimensional Transmission and The Bunker, but also on his very fresh, very jackin’ contribution as the latest guest on #PHANTASYMIX series.
I share a similar approach to techno with Gunnar, and I also bonded with Mike over a love of house music, and I sit somewhere in between those two. We put the Honey Soundsystem record out together, and Mike did the remix. That record was very well received, and we realised we do very similar, fun, acid, jackin’ stuff. And it goes really. Instead of going back-to-back for six hours, we like to do thirty minutes each. We gives you time to go out in the crowd, assess, say “Hi” to people, you know make sure they don’t leave!
Your music has a clear strain of acid house. Just as producers sat in Manchester dreaming of Detroit, was an imagined Hacienda an influence on you?
The music that I make has a throwback feel, but I hope, a fresh take on the acid stuff. And whether it’s playful or gets more aggressive, there has to be a catchiness or a certain vibe, and I sort of dive into that. The way that I make music, there’s no sort of instructions or thing I follow. It’s all improvisation, looking for a certain catch or funk in a bassline.
Looking at the rave scene in the United States, there seems to be a new legion of unlikely heroes, both underground and overground, from The Black Madonna to Bill Converse and Eris Drew. Whereas, it wasn’t long ago that most of American dance music was up in arms in the face of EDM.
I think it’s important to remember that those people you listed, it may seem to Europe or the UK that they may only just be getting their due, but they have been doing it for fifteen or twenty years. In the past three or four years there’s been a recognition of this Midwest sound, and it’s tied to this appreciation for queer underground culture that’s been happening on a smaller scale, but in the past five years, much more so.
This is admittedly perhaps a eurocentric perspective of mine, but it feels like despite house and techno’s roots in the United States, acceptance, touring and money arrived for artists in Europe. But now it feels like that a network has been established at home, too?
For sure. And that’s become apparent in the last three or four years. I’ve been playing consistently, almost every weekend, since the Honey Soundsystem record came out. And I come to Europe a few times a year for a mini-trip, but I can stay in the US all summer, and there are so many good parties I can play. Boston, Philly, Upstate NY, Detroit, Denver, SF… There’s like a new circuit of queer-centric parties for American DJs. And the scene is very supportive of all that new stuff. About three year ago now, there was an article by Andrew Ryce for Resident Advisor, about the ‘Queer Underground’. And that piece really shed light on it and sparked a lot of this new wave.
John Thorp, July 2018.