“A generational queasiness. Everything’s gross you know. I guess I’m trying to capture the spirit of YouTube comments. Like I watched this interview with Cassidy on YouTube. There were two comments, the first was something like ‘they really could have closed the window, very poor sound, all you can hear is the traffic, bad interview’ and the next is like, referring to the interviewer: ‘that bitch fine as FUCK!!’ I hope this clarifies my motivation in making music.”
That is 18-year-old Sydney producer Dro Carey on the motivations behind his unaccountably distinctive dance music. It’s unusual for a young producer, particularly an Australian one, to emerge so suddenly and with a blend of influences that culminate in something unusual. Dro Carey’s productions do indeed evoke a sense of queasiness: immaterial pitch-shifted vocal samples swoop and duck among threateningly mechanical beats, apparitional melodies emerge for mere seconds before being prematurely stunted, bass lines operate as distinct from the beat. His is a music of false signals, and you can almost see Dro Carey fending off the myriad genre pitfalls as they descend on his otherwise sparse beats.
“(I listen to) mostly rap,” Dro Carey says. “And RnB. Mostly rap and RnB, but (also) a whole range of other things. These last two weeks or so for example, I’ve been listening to Benjamin Britten, Mya, the noise project Vatican Shadow, Ol’ Dirty Bastard Freestyles (Hot97 etc), the first remaster of Ready To Die (inspired by March 9), Young L and Neptunes productions, Mantronix, Theo Parrish, the Virgo reissue comp. Current stuff of the UK dance ilk would be BD1982, Nochexxx, Grown Folk, Joy O (shame he dropped the celeb pun).”
Dro Carey played at the Marrickville Bowling Club in Sydney last March, where he played to an empty dance floor. Most punters stood cross-armed at the sidelines, as they’re sometimes wont to do at indie-oriented affairs (this was the Collarbones album launch). It’s telling. Dro Carey’s debut 12″ Venus Knock was released on the Trilogy Tapes label, a largely indie affair, but his productions couldn’t be further removed from the smoothly-paced, hip-hop and RnB influenced beats that seem to prosper among “indie” fans with a “dance” persuasion. A greater level of abandon is needed to let your body make sense of Dro Carey’s music. His productions bear a lot more in common with the Chicago juke scene and the sparser strains of post-dubstep, than they do, say, Mount Kimbie or Seekae. What these styles share in common though, is an affinity with the digital. Dro Carey taps into the horror of the digital landscape, the unrestrained human nature it reveals, the peculiar forbidden secrets it contains.
“Yeah I find that (the internet, YouTube) pretty fascinating. That it’s this repository for infamy, hopeless dreams, fetishism and marketable voyeurism. The greatest artists to me currently are those that capture this YouTube feeling and consciously make use of it; undermine it, riff on it – Lil B, Tim and Eric, Ryan Trecartin. They do to the internet what someone like Kenneth Anger did to commercials.”
“It extends to other sites as well. I really can’t understand people making any meaningful declarations or interactions on Facebook, I’m sure they do but I myself can’t. I spend a lot of time online but it’s still less real to me. And it’s not more comfortable than real life either. There’s just lots of music to download.”
Born in Perth, Dro Carey (his real name is Eugene, though no surname is forthcoming) moved to Sydney as a two-year-old. He’s currently studying a degree in Media and Communications at Sydney University, juggling that commitment with music making. “I just cram it all in I guess. I plan a lot of things while I’m at Uni and then when I get home I just do them. The approach was similar last year in high school too. Otherwise I’m reading magazines like The Wire, The Source, Bidoun, Zoo (the German one not the weekly Australian one, ha). Or watching music videos, new and old, I watch a lot of them – Anton Corbijn, Hype Williams, Stephane Sednaoui etc. I watch a lot of TV shows. I’m re-watching The Sopranos at the moment.”
Is Dro Carey’s smudge of influences a result of his being a “digital native.”
“Well I learnt about all of those styles through the internet, so yes definitely,” He concedes. “To me though, this isn’t particularly remarkable. It’s just what naturally occurs. I’m sure it’s an infinitely more rapid, diverse exposure of things but I don’t have the experience of a previous era to make a comparison to it.”
As is common nowadays, Dro Carey has forged working relationships over the internet, and operates a Tumblr to which he uploads new material alongside a seemingly arbitrary array of links and visual stimulus. The release of his first 12″ was something of an accident Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he didn’t pursue the release, it pursued him.“Will Bankhead of The Trilogy Tapes sent a message to me through YouTube asking if he could buy the tracks ‘Venus Knock’ and ‘Glitter Variables’ anywhere. I said no – I had only put them up online a week before he messaged me and they were the first Dro Carey tracks I’d ever done, pretty much. From there we worked on developing the EP. It’s been a great response for a record with such a small run. There are other releases with Trilogy in the works.”
Despite being something of an outsider stylistically, Dro Carey is enthusiastic about the current dance scene in Australia. “Warning: I’m about to generalise a lot here so here it goes,” he starts. “It’s fair to say most of these guys have come from experimental approaches/backgrounds and this has fed into an amazingly original version of ‘beat’s music – drawing on ambient, boom bap beats, RnB, funk and boogie – that is distinct from the stuff in the US or UK that draws on those styles. The energy of the crowd at that show really illustrated how much popularity this sort of sound is gaining. Also, of course, look at the Seekae tour with Mount Kimbie and the critical reception of +Dome. There is so much great electronic music coming out of Sydney currently.”
Dro Carey’s digital EP Much Coke is now available through Templar Sound. Material is forthcoming on Trilogy Tapes.