It's been a minute, but Peace Portal is opening back up under a slightly different format, from now on featuring 2 hours of house and techno on the third Thursday of each month. The first hour of each broadcast will be presented by yours truly, Feu du Camp, followed by a guest mix on the second hour of the show. This month on the show, I'm stoked to have Jack Anderson on a seamless blend of techno and trance for the second hour. After growing up on dance music in Seattle, and carving out a name for himself in Bellingham with the now-defunct Underground Transmissions imprint, Jack has moved to New York after traveling through Berlin over the summer. I caught up with Jack a couple of weeks ago to discuss his history with dance music, career in graphic and motion design, and what his experiences with dance music, and the scenes in Berlin and New York.
Give us a bit of your background on DJing and dance music, how did it get started for you?
I got into dance music when I was in middle school. A friend showed me this Rusko record, and I just lost my mind. I remember hearing dubstep for the first time, and it was literally everything that I wanted in music at the time. That’s where my obsession with digging for music really began. Limewire was a big thing at the time, and dubstep was really beginning to take off, stuff that I just can’t stand to listen to now. I met a lot of people who were into the same scene, who knew a lot of older kids, and when I was a Freshman in high school went to my first rave at Studio 7, which is no longer there.
So when did you start mixing?
Well that came next. Like junior year of high school, I realized I could just buy a Traktor controller or something and teach myself how to do this. By that time a lot more of my friends had gotten into electronic music, and we decided we should throw a party in the woods. So, we end up going to Guitar Center and asking to rent a sound system for this party, and they ask to put a credit card down. Of course, we’re just teenagers in high school, so we don’t have credit cards or anything at the time. So I go ahead and call up my mom, who gladly threw down for us to rent this PA. This turned up being probably the biggest party I’ve ever seen, which led to several more. We ended up throwing another, which was by far the largest party, out on my friend’s land out in Snoqualmie, and charging like 5 bucks for this party. It got shot down super quickly, but we raised enough money to buy a PA of our own to throw parties with, and just fell in love with DJing. This was about the time people were going to college, where I met Noah Ostrow just randomly at a party, and we immediately were best friends.
And this is where Underground Transmissions sort of took off?
Yeah, we befriended a lot of upperclassmen who were stoked on the fact that we turntables and a PA, and could throw parties. Our ravey, Dirty Bird-style tech house beats weren’t very well received for a long time, and so we started throwing parties every weekend at our place that were strictly no-requests-taken, techno parties in this shitty little college house. This when we met Eric Stratton, who had a lot of connections and kind of pioneered Underground Transmissions, and got us a night at the Wild Buffalo. I took over all the branding, and we just ran with it. I saw it as an opportunity to do something with my art and design as well to experiment with something really original, but also pulled from what raving was in the 90’s, and in Europe, but that appealed to college students on the West Coast in a mysterious way, but that right away people knew what they were getting into.
So this gets more into your career in graphic design and motion graphics. How does that play into your interest in dance music, and how has dance music played into your career in design?
I guess that it really came from my interest in dance music. From growing up listening to this music, and looking at rave fliers, and digging into that history. After my freshman year I was really thinking of dropping out, but was really into photo and video, and travelling around to all these events and festivals, and inviting a really unhealthy lifestyle. But I applied for the design program at WWU and didn’t think I was going to be accepted, but I was and just committed to it, diving into those aesthetics that I was inspired by. And I’ve done tour visuals now for Uzi Vert and Diplo, but that shit is so boring man…
What prompted your move to New York?
Well my partner actually. She’s going to fashion school out here. It’s funny how it happened actually, because I was out in Berlin this past summer partying with her, and with friends, and really, really wanted to move out there at the time. Emily knew she was moving back to go to school though with or without me, and I knew I wasn’t able to stick around for too much longer. So I bought a ticket straight back to New York, not wanting to move back to Seattle, or Bellingham, and found a spot in New York the same day that I flew in.
Tell us about your experience with dance music out there!
I'm going raving like, 3 times a week right now, it’s exactly what I want! The clubs and the scene, and the people are all really open, and there’s so many kinds of music. I think that its really comparable to Berlin. From my perspective, the transportation system plays a big part in this too. It creates such a tight knit community of people that are just party hopping on the trains, particularly in the nightlife scene. Also, people tend to think that New Yorkers are assholes, but they’re not - they’re just honest - which I much prefer to the cold, Pacific Northwestern vibe. The other thing is, you know, on the West Coast, in Seattle and LA, they stop serving alcohol at 2am, party is over at 4am, but in New York they stop serving booze at 4, and start serving again at 5. Not to mention the warehouse scene is insane! Like some of these spaces you could only imagine reading about, lots of homemade sound systems.
What’s the music like at these parties, and what are you tripping on?
Brooklyn has this crazy hybrid music scene, lots of UK garage and drum and bass influence, but lots of club edits, and rap and hip hop influence. Like there’s this club called Bossa Nova, and it could be anything from Happy Hardcore, Drum and Bass, off the walls Techno, and it doesn’t matter. People are a lot more open with their tastes, so they’re down for whatever. But there’s also clubs like Basement and Nowadays with super high end programming, where the average dance music listener wouldn’t have any idea who the headliners are, but they’re so in tune with what’s going on that you can trust their programming no matter who they book.
You also picked up a radio show with Newtown Radio, how did that work out?
I found out about this internet radio station just looking around on the internet searching through mix archives and whatnot and decided to hit them up. Within just a couple of days the guy hit me back up, said he’d dug my mixes and invited me to come down and check out the studio. So I show up, and this guy is an absolute legend, 12 o’clock on a Saturday sitting in the studio drinking a Fosters, smoking a cigarette! And he basically just cuts me loose right off the bat. It’s a little community of people who are some of them amateurs, some of them have had shows for years, and there’s a little art gallery in there, and basically this guy has just done this in his spare time trying to give folks a place to have a live talk show, or if they wanna play banging techno at 10am - which is me - he just wants people to have that outlet. And I’m just trying to use this as a tool to meet people in the scene, and bring people into the studio - and whoever comes to play, or whether or not I even have any viewers or listeners, I’ve got this chunk of time that’s set aside to record my mixes live on the radio and share them with other people. It’s also another outlet for me to build a little brand a lot like what I did with Underground Transmissions, but on a way smaller scale. And now it’s just built into my day and into my budget as something that I do.
Just real quick tell us a bit about the mix!
Well I am playing some records, I fucking suck at mixing vinyl though. I came back from Europe with an unhealthy amount of vinyl. I’m not really doing as much digging now - I went all over Brooklyn and dropped a bunch of money at these little record stores all over town, and quite a few of those have made their way into my RekordBox - there’s definitely some Berghain-style nuggets in there.
Be sure to follow Jack on social media, and keep an eye out for the premier of his show on Newtown Radio!
Also be sure to follow Peace Portal's social media outlets for more house & techno from the PNW, West Coast, and beyond than ever before: