Eugene Weekly : Oregon Bach Festival : 6.17.2010


F.A.M.E.ously Edgy
Bay Area DJs, 12 new classical commissions mark Bach Remix 5 
by Kate Loftesness

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote edgy music and broke creative boundaries, though that’s hard for some people to remember 325 after his birth. This year’s Bach Remix, an event begun to get DJs and Bach together, features edgy, creative, boundary-breaking artists from the classical and DJ facets of the musical prism.

Event organizer and UO Ph.D. student Andre Sirois, aka DJ Food Stamp, is remixing the Remix (again: see last year’s story about Sirois’ first remixed Remix at It’s no longer a DJ battle or contest with prize money. Instead, Sirois is emphasizing performance-based aspects of the event, bringing in a wider variety of musicians than ever before, including F.A.M.E. (Fresh Analog Music Experience), a group of four groundbreaking Bay Area DJs, and the ensemble Beta Collide, which features a Grammy winner and will play 12 new commissions at the Remix.

All of the proceeds from the show will go to benefit a local charity, providing music scholarship money for the Arts Umbrella.

“They offer high quality curriculum taught by sweet teachers for arts,” Sirois says of the cause. “Anything from dance and theater to music. In order for Eugene to have a thriving arts community, you have to start with the youth.”

Sirois is excited that more than just sampling Bach’s music, the musicians and DJs involved will exemplify Bach’s spirit.

“This event sort of started as a way to expose younger generations to the music of Bach,” he says. “This is more about the idea of Bach. What I mean by that is it’s not so much, how can we take one of his compositions and use it, it’s how can we take the spirit of Bach: interesting and innovative music performed for a group of people.”

Sirois can’t stop talking about F.A.M.E. “They’re crazy just in terms of what they do. [They’re] pretty much some of the world’s most talented scratch DJs and music producers,” Sirois says. “They use a bunch of different analog music technologies to flip music.”

Sirois first contacted F.A.M.E.’s DJ Teeko as part of his dissertation research to discuss the Controller 1, a specially designed turntable that plays a full range of musical scales that DJ Teeko helped invent.

Beta Collide’s a contemporary quintet’s made up mostly of UO music professors. The group, which is based in the classical tradition, is planning to play an unprecedented 12 commissioned pieces in their half-hour set. How did the group end up taking on such a massive task?

“We’re over-ambitious,” trumpet player Brian McWhorter says. “When they gave us the slot to play in, we thought, ‘Well, what can we do that would be totally over-audacious and crazy?’”

The group, made up of McWhorter and Grammy award-winning flutist Molly Bart, saxophonist Idit Shner, bassist Tyler Abbott and accordionist Michael Ward-Bergeman, has been working frantically to organize their set, which will also include recorded electronic elements. McWhorter says it’s not unusual for a composer to take two, three or even four years to finish a commissioned piece, but they needed all of these in just two months. 

“It’s been a shitload of work,” he says.

McWhorter sees Bach Remix 5 using Bach’s music as a bridge between genres and generations in a way that can benefit both contemporary and classical musicians.

“Those DJs are going to be dipping their feet into the classical tradition by using Bach, and we’re coming from that tradition but we’re going to step out,” he says.

Sirois emphasizes that although the performance is nothing at all like traditional Bach recitals, he’ll still be a strong presence.

“You’re going to hear Bach throughout the night,” Sirois says. “You’re going to hear his spirit.”

Bach Remix 5, 10 pm Thursday, June 24, at Cowfish, 62 W. Broadway. $2 suggested cover charge (benefitting Arts Umbrella).