MELT celebrates 1 year of bringing experimental music out of the basement, into the light
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While DJ and club nights are nothing new to Milwaukee, you have to hand it to a guy who can somehow meld the performances of more traditional club DJs with sets from experimental producers and composers into a monthly event. On Jan. 26 at Club Garibaldi, Milwaukee experimental musician Paul Demix will celebrate the first anniversary of that monthly event, MELT.
Demix has a long history of both working within and consuming local DJ and music culture, finding influence in everything from film scores to obscure electronic musicians and eclectic rock. But Demix—known professionally as The Demix, a self-professed producer of “cinematic, eerie, genre-defying songs, sounds and mixes”—found booking for himself and similarly styled DJs and producers almost impossible, save for elusive basement or club shows.
“When I started MELT, I wanted to put a focus on live electronic and experimental music, because it’s not only what I play, it’s what I love,” says Demix. “At the time, I didn’t really feel there was an appropriate venue or event for the type of music I play. I had only played four shows by the end of 2010, so that’s when I got more aggressive looking for gigs and like-minded individuals.”
Evidently tired of looking for someone else to do the booking, Demix began organizing showcases of electronic DJs, musicians, and bands once a week at Mad Planet, with an emphasis on showcasing experimental and fringe acts. “There’s so much great talent in the area right now, it makes [booking this night] a lot of fun,” says Demix. “Every show I’ve done has left me blown away and wanting to run home and practice.”
Instead of being exclusionary of more mainstream acts, Demix has taken it upon himself to fuse a diverse music scene together. (The night is called MELT, after all.) “The most important thing is that the different styles of music on the bill complement and contrast each other,” Demix explains. “While we usually have a headliner, it’s how the music flows from start to finish that makes it what it is. I don’t really think in terms of genre anymore. You do run the risk of confusing people from month to month, as there’s no genre to hang onto other than ‘electronic’ or ‘experimental’—but I don’t want to do the same show over and over. I want people to want to see something new every month. I’m just like the director [of a movie] putting together my soundtrack for the night. I wouldn’t say it’s tricky, but it has to make sense.”
The night has since found a new home at Club Garibaldi once a month, as Demix felt he could “get better lineups and make it more of an event” as a monthly. As a testament to this, past performers have included well-known and loved local electronic/experimental music acts Signaldrift, Made Of Oak, Lovanova, Boy Dirt Car, Peter J. Woods, Pressboard, and Man Mantis.
The success of MELT hasn’t come without obstacles, though. With a bigger night and more acts comes more work on Demix’s end, though he isn’t exactly complaining. “All of a sudden there’s this monster, and it’s more than just an experiment. WMSE started to support it. My friends wanted to be a part of it. It’s something people responded to, and I feel responsible to keep them engaged and interested and challenged as listeners.”
“Also, answering questions and being the person talking about all this to The A.V. Club is a fucking challenge and a half,” he adds.