There is something about being in a club, the elation that accompanies the visceral vibration of the subwoofer hitting your bones as you unleash yourself to throw shapes, body-to-body whilst a DJ knocks out their nocturnal and sweaty set in an underground basement. For many of us it’s a long and almost forgotten memory thanks to endless lockdowns, yet there is some kind of muscle memory, gentle reminders of another time, to back when we could all be in the same room together and move as one.
With a dark and pulsating, somewhat contagious grinding bass note, electro vehicle: Stacian’s ‘Joy of Dance’ takes you straight back to that heaving sweaty place in the best possible way, plugging straight into the adrenaline, momentum and joy of letting your body lose itself in the music.
“Joy of Dance, it’s really just about one thing… Dance. How good it feels to dance and the joy of dancing” offers its creator,’ Dania Luck confirming our suspicions. “Because dancing really is an expression of joy and I wanted to have a song like that, that just makes you want to fucking dance. Who cares about anything else. Make it happen for yourself.”
‘Joy of Dance’ represents a simpler time and feels quite distinct and separate in comparison with the other tracks on Stacian’s FRACTAL ID – perhaps because it was conceived a few years before most of the others. The tension translates to the type of deep techno that you’d feel at home hearing in the underground clubs of Berlin.
Based in Nashville, Luck is a self proclaimed “synth” a sound designer, recording artist, performer, and visual artist who utilises analog synthesizers, hacked electronics, computer code, video to create her music. A relentlessly innovative and curious artist, her ability to seamlessly meld genres with her pulsating electro works yet retain her own distinct identity is compelling. In her hands post-punk, industrial, krautrock, techno and noisy pop all seamlessly collide into one inspiring highly danceable brew. With her ‘wife beater’ style singlet vest, dark fringe, and two plaited pigtails contrasting her pale complexion, she is a striking presence even via the video screen. You can feel her striking presence, a clear and striking sense of purpose in her music. It’s singular. It sounds like nothing else around.
A mosaic of retro infused synthesised threads flow within each track to deliver those mesmerising beams of breathless abandon and hedonistic adventuring. Her Fractal ID EP released on Chicago label CLEAR last month, is for Cyclic’s ears a journey of dance floor moments connected by the ideas of joy and dancing. It belongs to a longtime vehicle Luck has built her sound behind: Stacian (phonetically Station) and its success lies in her ability to look forward with an ear to what’s behind her – where early analog electronic sounds are filtered through the exploration of a wide breadth of more contemporary approaches.
Some readers may have encountered her previous releases, Person L (Night School 2017) and Songs for Cadets (Moniker 2012) also under Stacian, and each of these bodies of work exemplify her ability to cross genre divides , featuring elements everything from minimal wave to the darker baroque flourishes of German new-wave and post-industrial, futuristic landscapes.
Luck’s philosophy in life to ‘make it happen’ also provides the necessary fodder to inform both her life trajectory and her music. In fact there is no denying each new step seems to guide and ignite a fresh spark of inspiration. She’s recently pivoted her day job, thanks to the pandemic forcing layoffs from her previous career as a sound technician at a museum, to find herself embracing a first year apprenticeship as an electrician.
“Each transition was really difficult but worth it I think. I’m really grateful I’ve had some amazing experiences and it’s never easy to make a huge change and I think that is why a lot of people will stay in the same place for their whole lives. Even now, having lived here [Nashville] for almost 3 years, I want to go back to the Bay Area.”
Aside from the higher vaccinated community it’s also the place Luck took herself to learn more about her craft. There are many happy memories there – particularly her time at the prestigious Mills College. “I wanted to get better and I wanted to progress further than some of my male counterparts. I think I’m a little bit competitive when it comes to music,” Luck muses. So, with this desire to outperform both herself and her contemporaries it made total sense an area with such a rich hystery of synthesised sound and experimentation.
“Being there was really inspiring and being in The Bay Area, it’s such a playground, it’s such a hot-bed for music, especially electronic music. There is something about it that crosses so many electronic sounds and taps in all over the place. I miss it so much.”
“If you think of The San Francisco Tape Music Centre that was headquartered at Mills at one point. So many pioneers of electronic music had some sort of affiliation to Mills. Don Buchla, his very first prototype synth lives in Mills College.”
Luck graduated from Mills in 2017 with an MFA of Electronic Music and Recording Media with a thesis that explored the role of music therapy and its role in the treatment of mental trauma. It’s clear that the program had a big impact on her beyond learning about the most distilled form of a sound wave or how to use SuperCollider software. It all makes sense when you hear the precision and focus in her music. This isn’t random knob twiddling in hope. She knows what she is doing.
“I wanted to find ways to synthesise that were based on more education, based in science, and actually know what I’m doing. Even though most electronic musicians are probably guessing. No one really knows how to create a specific sound in their head, you just have to try and play with it.”
And while the current situation for return to live music and performance in Nashville looks so-far limited and sadly still a little restrictive due to COVID, Luck is optimistic. And true to her curious nature and desire to grow she has continued to find the next-wave of innovation to add originality to her music projects — albeit from an unexpected source: her day job.
“My first day [as an electrician], I started doing some field recording. I was hearing all these sounds that were completely new and fresh, so I sat my phone down and started recording.”
“Just synthesising something from the ground up with an idea in my head already. I’m going to make it like this. There are certainly a lot more intelligent ways to build a sound that you can learn, that’s not to say you’re going to be able to do it.”
Fractal ID is out now via CLEAR.