While it’s fun to spend a night out in a club incoherently bonding with your friends while taking multiple shots of mystery elixirs, sometimes the best nights consist of a few good drinks with friends sharing records in a living room. For Diacritic Collective, the idea of forming a local crew came after a handful of nights of doing just this into the early morning. After deciding to graduate from living room DJs to official venues last fall, they had their first public show last November at Mercer with Tyson Ballard headlining.
“The idea was to preserve the coziness and casualness of our home sessions, and we feel like we accomplished that there,” writes the group. The collective, consisting of members Chuck Lukezic Paco Luongo, Lily Ackerman, Alex Blackstock, Stanislav Nikolov, Petko Nikolov and Ian Comfort got together to answer some questions for us about their sound, being a collective, and what they want to accomplish this year. They host The Loft this Friday, April 15 at Public Works.
[jump] Where did the name Diacritic come from?
A bunch of us took a trip together to Berlin in 2012 and spent our weekends parading around to various clubs and after hours. During our decompression on Monday night at a cafe somehow there was mention of a ‘tittle,’ which corresponds to the diacritic on top of i’s and j’s. Diacritic, beyond being an intriguing word, is one that we realized most people have never heard of, yet encounter regularly. We really liked the idea that much like the music that drives us, diacritics are universal and transcend multiple cultures and languages. They are subtle, yet have noticeable impact.
What elements were critical to consider when forming the collective?
We didn’t have a real agenda for the formation of it. The collective formed naturally, largely in part because we enjoyed teaching each other different aspects of music production and DJing through shared spaces and equipment.
Describe to us how you categorize your sound and what styles of music you spin.
The short easy answer is that you can expect the music we play out at public parties these days to fall under the house and techno umbrella genres. This is only the tip of the iceberg, though. Our tastes are varied and that is what makes the collective work so well. A common thread is that we are all interested in music that makes people groove. There are definitely distinctions in each person’s individual tastes and fortes. For example, Petko probably has a deeper knowledge and collection of Romanian minimal, while Paco digs for older krautrock and Italo tracks, Lily and Alex tend to prefer more melodic minimal tracks, while Ian buys a lot of UK bass, and Chuck collects a lot of straight-forward house music ranging from rare stuff produced in the ‘90s to modern gems from his time living in London. Recently, Lily and Stan have also been producing tracks they describe as “wrapped in a warm blanket”. What makes our sets together really fun is that we can weave between the different genres and each person can contribute their own unique musical aesthetic and knowledge to the set and party experience. While the process is sometimes messy, it usually ends up working.
From what I've heard thus far from sets, there seems to be a very underground-like vibe. What would be the perfect atmosphere to DJ in?
We like to excite, surprise, and teach people with the music we play. Often this translates into very new, obscure, or underground music. When not done carefully, this can alienate people, but actually the atmosphere that creates our ideal vibe is based on making each person feel welcome. We think that diversity in music and in people makes it more fun to engage new music together. Could be a small basement, outdoor space, a living room, or a club. As long as everyone is there to dance, laugh, and get silly with new and old friends, the music comes naturally. It would be the kind of environment where people face each other instead of the DJ’s setup and there’s no drama or harassment.
Who are some artists that inspire you?
There are too many to list and we discover new ones all the time, but here are some that popped into our heads:
DoubtingThomas (he’s a friend of ours who just blows our minds with every release)
Dorisburg (extremely creative use of analog sounds and beautiful composition)
Lake People (another friend of ours who pushes the boundaries of electronic music)
Lawrence (beautiful and melodic)
Carsten Jost (co-founder of Dial Records, a favorite label of ours)
Omar-S (unique combination of talent, attitude, and sense of humor make this guy one of our favorites)
Rodhad (creates the kind of unhinged joy in a DJ set that we love)
Tyson Ballard (besides wearing tight pants and driving nice vintage cars, this Aussie makes magic in the studio and is one of the biggest vinyl hoarders we know)
Because you all came together through a love of vinyl, what is your live set like when you play together?
Our love for vinyl definitely influences how we search for, buy, and share music with each other. Since records are quite expensive to source, maintain and transport, we have all ended up with highly distilled collections that strike at the heart of our tastes. The decision process for buying a record has a much higher bar for quality (necessity, even) than what we’d have for a track we can easily download digitally and forget on a hard drive. The result is that we end up with records that we’re proud to own and feel a special connection to. You can be sure that each track is a treasure and means something important to the person playing it. So when we haul a full bag to play together, that excitement shines through in our process. The physical ritual of digging through the records everyone brought and manipulating them on the turntable just isn’t the same with any other format.
If you had one record or track to sum up the experience of the collective thus far, what would it sound like?
Alex: DoubtingThomas – “Your Name Here”
Paco: Carsten Jost – “Love”
Lily: Pawel – “Berkeley”
Petko: Omar-S – “Sarah”
What are some things you are hoping to achieve with the collective in the future?
While collecting and playing records remains the primary passion for most of us, producing our own music is definitely the next creative frontier for some of us. We’re constantly sharing ideas and spending time together in the studio exploring the endless ways to express ourselves as individuals and as a collective. We want to continue helping each other grow artistically and explore the possible environments we can create for ourselves and those around us simply through sharing music. It is also a shared dream of ours to open and run our own event space.
This Friday, you host the loft at Public Works. How are you guys feeling going into the event?
The Loft is a cool space and the perfect size for transmitting our house-party vibes. All of us have been busy this week digging through our collections to find the most memorable records and also thinking about other ways to transform the space and make it our own. We are excited to take over the musical programming for the whole night and help decorate the space. We are also grateful to the Public Works team and Deep Blue (who are hosting Nina Kraviz in the main room) for inviting us on board for this event.