Build… AndDrop! The Universal Language
A cloudy and dreary day in the Bay Area; I meet up with a soft spoken and mellow character to get a deeper understanding of the global culture of electronic music. Upon first glance he may not appear to be the producer of huge and heavy hitting tracks: donned in a baggy sweater and tight jeans rolled to his calf. A look beyond the surface reveals a passionate and devoted musician with a unique and educated outlook on an ever-changing and participatory music genre. His name is Joe Wiseman of AndDrop!
AndDrop! – Don Draper
The up-and-coming AndDrop! is comprised of Joe Wiseman as the lead DJ and co-producer, and the producing duo of brothers Harris and Sylvain Kauffman. While Joe serves as the solo performer for the majority of the group’s shows, the Kauffman brothers are an integral part of the AndDrop! experience. In a few short years AndDrop! has progressed from playing small house and fraternity parties to headlining international shows while studying abroad in South Africa. Joe earnestly reflects on the early years of his DJ career saying he was originally drawn to the art after taking a student run class in his freshman year at UC Berkeley in 2008. His passion for the craft and genre as a whole quickly became apparent. His soft-spoken tone immediately picked up and as he re-lived how he got to where he is today with a smile, only pausing when he realized how fervently I was attempting to keep up in my note taking.
The big break for the group came while Wiseman was studying abroad in South Africa, a move he said was premeditated. “When I was looking at programs I was drawn to South Africa because of its night life,” says Wiseman. “I even wrote on my application that I wanted to get into the night life scene,” he added with a chuckle. After landing a few smaller gigs in Cape Town Wiseman contacted a promoter for one of the largest night clubs in South Africa, Assembly. Due to a fortunate series of events AndDrop! was billed as the co-headliner for the sold out 1500 person show and given the opportunity to demonstrate his passion in a 2 hour long set. In reflecting on the experience Wiseman states, “That was the best set of my life, I finished and thought to myself: What the hell just happened? It was the most incredible feeling.” AndDrop! quickly gained the reputation of “The American kid on tour from the USA.”
More on AndDrop! and what its like to be a part of an international participatory cultural movement after the break.
In discussing AndDrop’s ability to turn musical passion into international recognition Wiseman is quick to credit the Kauffman brother’s own passion, drive and unique musical background (Sylvain is a classically trained pianist with a great understanding of music theory and Harris traveled abroad to the UK, which allowed him to pick up a vast array of new production techniques) as an integral part of the group’s success. Wiseman also speaks to the participatory and freeware nature of electronic music culture in their international success. He says, “I tried to create a sound that they hadn’t heard before and I could tell they knew I wasn’t from here… and they’re like ‘wow what is this?'” He attributes the ability to create this different sound to new media and the blogosphere, noting that with access to the Internet comes access to almost every electronic song out there. “The genre has embraced the idea of free downloads,” Wiseman states zealously, “musicians are interested in creating a fan base rather than just selling their music… the money comes from shows instead.”
This embrace of new media outlets such as blogs and websites with international reach allows electronic music producers from the corners of the globe to receive national recognition without the need of a mega-record label, as is the case with many other music genres. Wiseman points to Angger Dimas, a young producer from Indonesia that has utilized new media to create an international following and land an international tour.
Angger Dimas – Are You Ready
The electronic music genre is collaborative and ever-changing, as it is one of the few genres that has truly embraced the remix culture (AndDrop! track Old Fig is even featured in a lecture on remix culture given by the UC Berkeley Media Studies Department Head, Jean Retzinger.) What makes the genre even more globally unifying? Wiseman speaks on its ability to unite concert-goers, “you can see the tension and anticipation on peoples faces in the build…until it drops into this indescribable release of energy.” As if on cue the ominous clouds above went through their own build up and drop as rain began to fall while Wiseman and I continued to discuss the idea of a unifying tension and release.
AndDrop! is a shining example of the global reach of an emerging genre that allows concert-goers to unite under a common language of tension and release. The genre is constantly pushing itself to new levels, building off the accomplishments and interconnectedness of those who produce it to create a new and unique sound that moves people across the world. The group is currently working on a new tracks before continuing to make waves in the EDM scene in California.